Tag Archives: Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon

Marathon politics and food…

Toronto Marathon(s?):

The 2009 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon start line boasted an impressive display at city hall.

After a week of speculation and intrigue over the future of the two Toronto fall marathons, the city has extended a final opportunity for the two groups to figure it out. They now have two weeks to decide which of them will move to the spring, or the city will begin accepting RFPs, including third party bids.

If you’re not familiar with the situation, Toronto has two marathons — the Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon and the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon — that are three weeks apart from each other. This past fall saw  years of rivalry between the two races come to a head when many in the city were fed up with the various Sunday road closures being so close together. I’m sure that it’s an election year in our grand ol’ city doesn’t help the situation either.

Aestus, myself and Thomas at the starting line of the 2009 Goodlife Toronto Half Marathon.

So now we Toronto runners get to wait some more to see what happens. There seems to be progress according to the story appearing in the Toronto Star yesterday. Jay Glassman of the Goodlife marathon is quoted as saying, “we’re open to moving.” Given the self-described “grass roots” feel of the race, it might make more sense for it to move to the spring, despite being the older of the two races.

Allan Brooks of the Scotiabank marathon talks in the same article of bringing in more elite athletes from around the world to add “star power” to the event.

Regardless of promises, both camps have until the February 22 city council meeting to come to a resolution.

Now on to lighter topics…


A while back I heard about how great quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”) is. Shortly after, I picked up a small bag of organic quinoa that has sat in my pantry. That was, until last week.

Last week, while reading in the blogosphere, I came across a post on Frayed Laces, where she mentioned that she cooked her quinoa in a rice cooker. This peeked my interest, because I thought it had to be done by some miraculous method that I had no clue had to do. I had a rice cooker. I had quinoa, and I had water — I could do this.

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=quinoa&iid=5281095″ src=”1/f/e/2/Quinoa_full_frame_d6ab.jpg?adImageId=9839986&imageId=5281095″ width=”234″ height=”236″ /]If you don’t know what I’m talking about, quinoa is a seed that originated in the Andean region of South America and is related to beats and spinach. It functions much the same way as rice, but is known for being somewhat of a super food. It is very high in protein and contains a balanced set of essential amino acids (making it a complete protein). It is also easily digested, gluten free, a good source of dietary fibre, phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron.

Frayed’s instructions are to put 1 cup of dry Quinoa to 2 parts water (or vegetable broth) into the rice cooker. It turned out perfectly. Last week was all about putting something on a bed of quinoa.

This week’s theme is somewhat similar, but with a small difference: it’s all about mixing things into the quinoa.

Enter Mr. Carrot and Ms. Leek. I bought a bag of the ginormous carrots this week, so I took one of those and grated it (yielding roughly 2 cups). I then took the leek and chopped that up. I heated a tablespoon of oil in a skillet and combined the carrot and leek with is and sautéed for 5-10 minutes. When it was done I mixed this with a batch of the quinoa. It looks like this:

It tastes fantastic! Once this batch is gone, I’m going to try a Mediterranean theme — sun-dried tomatoes, black olives…

If any of you have quinoa recipes and are holding out, please share!

Toronto Runner: Maxine Featherstonhaugh

If you’re a runner in Toronto, you must have been living under a rock not to recognize Maxine Featherstonhaugh. Last year Maxine was on all the marketing materials and posters for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (pictured left). Having run the event six times, it’s no surprise that she loves it so much — her favourite place to run in the city is near the water. “Running with all the geese, swans, ducks and other birds, is very peaceful and makes me feel very free,” says Maxine. “I usually run first thing in the morning, so I often see the sun rising over the lake, which can be quite incredible. Sometimes I’ll see a beaver swimming in the lake or sitting on the ice when it’s frozen. I even saw a little fox once, feasting on a goose and carrying it away in its mouth.

“As the trail moves through Queens Quay, I love seeing the tourists who are enjoying our city, and going through Cherry Beach takes you into a more forested area where you can breath in the smell of the trees and grasses.”

Maxine first took up running in 1996 with a co-worker. “I can’t even remember why I started,” says Maxine, “I assume it was to improve my heath, but seeing the increasing muscle definition in my legs definitely motivated me to continue running.”

While muscle definition might have kept Maxine going early on, now she says that being able to run is motivation in and of itself. “Running is like breathing, it’s just a part of me,” she says. “I get excited every time I get to go out for a run — ok, maybe not when it’s -23°C with the wind chill, but once I’m out, there is no other place I would rather be.

“Running is my meditation, it’s my time for me. It has brought me strength, both physically and mentally; it takes me from upset to happy; it takes me from happy to happier.”

In 2003, Maxine ran her first marathon at the Burlington Marathon Rock ‘n’ Roll Canada in four hours and 38 minutes. On January 1, Maxine ran the Texas Marathon, bringing her marathon total to an impressive 23. “Some might think that this sounds crazy,” admits Maxine, “but while running in Texas, I came across a lot of people that have run more marathons than I could imagine. One guy has run over 400, and some of the runners have done marathons every weekend, or twice a week. Now that’s crazy!”

Maxine crosses the finish line at Scotiabank on September 28, 2008, having just realized that she’d qualified for Boston.

Last year, Maxine decided that 2009 would be her year of the marathon, so she ran nine of them. The first seven were between January 1 and May 24 (Texas Marathon, Surfside Beach Marathon, Seabrook Lucky Trail Marathon, the Boston Marathon, the Waterloo Marathon, the Mississauga Marathon and the Ottawa Marathon), then she ran the other two in the fall (Scotiabank and the Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon). “Three of them were part of the Texas Marathon Triple (Texas, Seabrook Lucky Trail and Surfside Beach),” says Maxine, “where I received a free hat and jacket for completing all three events. How cool is that!” She also ended up running four of the marathons within 35 days – including Boston, Waterloo, Mississauga and Ottawa.

In total, Maxine has run Goodlife three times, Mississauga five times, Scotiabank six times, Texas three times, Seabrook Lucky Trail twice, Surfside Beach once, Boston once, Waterloo once, and Ottawa once.

In case you’re wondering what goals Maxine may still have left after her year of the marathon, you might be surprised: “To win a 5k this summer,” says Maxine. “Another dream goal is to run all five of the marathon majors. I ran Boston last year, and I have applied to the lottery for the New York Marathon for this year, then maybe the Chicago Marathon next year, the London Marathon the year after that, and the Berlin Marathon the year after that.”

In the mean time, Maxine is training for this year’s Around the Bay 30k, Boston and Mississauga marathons. “Around the Bay falls perfectly on a 29k long-run day, so it will be nice to do a long run with a whole bunch of people. Plus it’s a fantastic race that I like to do every year.”

With so many races under her belt, Maxine’s two most memorable running moments have both happened within the last two years. “The first one is the moment I crossed the finish line on September 28, 2008 at Scotiabank, and realized that I’d qualified for Boston,” says Maxine. “I knew that day could have gone on either side of the 3:50:59 I needed. I had said the day before that if all of the stars aligned then I would probably qualify, but you never know how you will feel on race day.” She didn’t take a watch or music with her that day either as she wanted to just run with how she felt, and says she felt fantastic.

“There was a clock at the half-way point, and with my calculations I was about four minutes under Boston Qualifying time. Then at 30K the clock showed that I was bang on if I had kept that pace,” recalls Maxine. “For the last 12.2k I had no idea how I was doing, and then when I reached the finish line and saw that clock my jaw just dropped and tears sprung into my eyes. As cliché as it may sound, it was truly an amazing moment, and I had made it with 2:02 to spare — I finished in 3:48:57.”

Maxine holds back tears as she runs the 2009 Boston Marathon.

Maxine’s other most memorable running moment was actually running the 2009 Boston Marathon. “It was incredible! As a marathoner and a Canadian, it was everything I expected it to be; the history, the people, the scenery — spectacular. I could not have run any faster than I did because I was busy holding back tears of joy with almost every step. I was the ultimate tourist looking up at everything and taking in every single moment.”

Having run marathons all over North America, Maxine says that Toronto is still her favourite place to run. “There is nowhere that I would rather run than in Toronto. I love that you can run in the middle of the city with all of the hustle and bustle, or you can run down the Leslie Spit and feel like you are no where near a city. A long run can take you from Lake Ontario near the CNE all the way up to Canada’s Wonderland where you will go through many different neighbourhoods. It’s amazing and the options are endless.”

Quick Fact:
Favourite Shoe: ASICS 2140

Maxine’s top three running tracks:
Kashmir by Led Zeppelin
Freeway by Linda Perry
Bring the People Together by Live

Toronto Runner: Tracy Germain

When Tracy Germain moved to Toronto from New Zealand, she considered herself a boxer. “I couldn’t find a boxing club near my house, so in the meantime I took up running until I found an alternative,” Tracy recalls. “It turns out that I loved running and I couldn’t stop once I got into it.”

That love has seen Tracy run several marathons over the last couple of years, including last year’s ING Ottawa Marathon (4:20), Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (4:16) and the Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon (4:16), as well as several 30k races (Around the Bay -2:43, and Midsummer Run – 2:53).

Now running five to seven times a week, Tracy likes to mix up a medium-long run, a long run and three to four recovery/speed/tempo runs into her training mix. She has previously followed a Hal Higdons intermediate marathon plan, but for this year, Tracy’s planning on using Peter Pfitzinger’s 55-mile-per-week plan to try to get a 3:40 when she runs the ING Ottawa Marathon in May.

“Running has become such a large part of my life,” says Tracy. “While it takes up a lot of my spare time, it also keeps me healthy, energized and sane.

“I’m a bit of an A-type personality, so my goals keep me motivated. I organize them and work out how I’m going to go about achieving them. I find running can become routine after a while, so I don’t even think about it – I either get home from work or wake up in the morning and I’m ready to go out running before I even think about it.”

To combat that monotony of the intense training that is required for endurance running, Tracy turns to audio books and podcasts to keep her mentally stimulated during longer runs. “I’m a super geek and I get super bored of music, but love to listing to books or podcasts,” says Tracy. “They’re usually running related, but not always — sometime a few science-related ones make it onto the play list.”

With so many kilometers to log, Tracy has covered many of the trails available in Toronto, but like many runners, has found that the Martin Goodman Trail is one of her favourites. “I run it [MGT] at least three times a week, and it’s so good to not have to worry about cars, stoplights, etc., but my favourite real trail is the Moore Park Ravine because it’s gravelly, muddy, hilly and oh so fun to run on.”

Among Tracy’s most memorable running moments has been a toss up between finishing her first marathon, which she says, “totally sucked, but was amazing at the same time,” and those moments when you’re out running and realize how beautiful the world is and how much we take for granted. “The beautiful green space we have for a big city is amazing and there is still a lot of good trails,” says Tracy. “All the other people you see out running and the small events that get put on through out there year are just icing on the cake.”

While she is definitely a driven runner, Tracy also likes to keep her goals in perspective. “Eventually, I’d really like to get under 3:30 for the marathon, but then if I achieve that goal, I’d probably start dreaming about finishing in three hours.”

Toronto Runner: Sylvie Desroches

This post kicks off what I hope to be an on going series that will profile the amazing and diverse community of runners in Toronto. It will consist of one post a week that will feature an individual runner – how they started running, their goals, and an assortment of other interesting facts about them. If you or someone you know would like to be featured in a future installment of this series, please drop me an e-mail at mattradford at me dot com.

Sylvie Desroches

Sylvie1Eleven years ago, and at the end of a bad relationship, Sylvie looked to running as a way to claim independence and to ignite passion in her life. Life circumstances had other plans and she found herself leaving the relationship, relocating and rebuilding her life. Ten years later, she took the plunge into the world of running by signing up for a Learn to Run clinic at her local Running Room. “Friends had told me that they had registered and so I jumped at the chance,” she recalls. “Of course, the bottle of wine I had consumed might have had something to do with it.”

June 27 drag queen-1

Sylvie dressed up for the Toronto Pride and Remembrance 5km run on June 27, 2009

This past year, Sylvie ran the Chilly Half as her first half-marathon (2:18), then the Toronto Women’s Half (2:09), the Marathon Oasis de Montreal Half (2:17), and finished her season with the Goodlife Fitness Toronto Half Marathon (2:13). “One of the most memorable running moments was definitely Montreal,” Sylvie recalls. “Seeing the Olympic Stadium in distance — I got chocked up seeing it so close and knowing that there was only 6k to go — it gave me a huge burst of energy.”

When not training for an event, Sylvie enjoys mixing up running with friends and running alone. “In true Libra form, I enjoy both. I prefer to run alone for my LSD runs because I like to keep it slow. But for speed work and hills, I really enjoy running with friends.”

9629_263590425390_64766539..Sunday mornings you can often find Sylvie running on the new Martin Goodman Trail, one of her favourites in Toronto. “It’s really beautiful, wide and busy,” says Sylvie. “There are always lots of runners and cyclists, so you’re never completely on your own. It’s also relatively flat with just one tiny hill and the best part is running so close to the lake.”

At 51, Sylvie is not short on running goals. While not looking to achieve a specific time goal, she has her eyes on qualifying for the Boston Marathon, as well as taking her running international to marathons in France, Chicago, Washington and running the Nike San Francisco Women’s Marathon.

“But right now, I’m taking it easy,” says Sylvie. “I will start my training in January for the Toronto Women’s Half Marathon at the end of May, and will probably follow the Running Room training schedule or may even try the Hal Higdon’s.”

In addition to her own training, Sylvie has also helped others to discover their love of running through coaching several clinics through the Running Room, including the Learn to Run clinic that was her introduction to the sport.

When asked what running means to her and how it has impacted her life, Sylvie said, “the one word that keeps coming to mind is ‘everything’. Truly everything. It saved my sanity, helped me deal with an extremely difficult part of my life. It has made me a better and stronger person with the knowledge that I can run races and do well — not compared to others, but to myself. It’s a huge boost to know that I can do what only one per cent of the population does. I’m no longer just floating through life – I’ve found my passion.”

Sylvie has also found a community – membership in a group of people who share that passion. “I can go to any city and find a running group and voila, instant acceptance,” says Sylvie. “I don’t need credentials, reputation, or anything else. I just need to be me.”

Quick facts:

Favourite Shoe: Asics 2140

Favourite Equipment: Sugoi jacket and Body Glide

Favourite thing about running Toronto: People

Motivation: training for an event

E-mail Sig: “Determination is what is left when motivation is gone.”

Sylvie’s Top three running tracks:

Spiritual High Part I, II, and III by Moodswings

Don’t Say Anything by Nacho Sotomayer (Buddha Bar 3)

The Drill by Paolo Bolognesi Remix

On the two days after… he rested

The blog and I took a couple of days off to recover after the Goodlife Fitness Toronto Half Marathon last Sunday. My thighs really felt those down hill segments on Monday! I’m back now, had a strength training session this morning and plan on running a quick 6 km tonight to loosen the legs up. In the mean time, here are a couple of running-related news stories from the last couple of days:

  1. City demands marathons change dates (Globe and Mail)
  2. City officials suggest six-month gap between two marathons, or merger (680 news)
  3. Three Detroit Marathon Deaths Likely a Fluke (yahoo news)
  4. She’ll always be known as a true marathon winner (Toronto Star)

(Edit: 6 km turned into 10 km in 48 min, 20 sec. 4.50/km pace)

Toronto Marathon expo part two

So I headed back to the Toronto Marathon expo this afternoon. There were a few things I decided I wanted to pick up and I kinda like the race expos (despite their danger to my pocketbook).

There were little to no lines today, so I wonder if the craziness yesterday was a combination of a lot of early people combined with volunteers getting into their groove. Today there was a lot better flow and things seemed to be going very well.


I picked up an Asics winter running hat, a container of Vega (I’ll be having a seperate post about how much I love Vega!), and a copy of 26.2 Marathon Stories that I had signed by the authors Kathrine Switzer and Roger Robinson. Kathrine was incredibly nice and sweet. She wrote: “The marathon is a nice prize, but the real victory is embracing the process. Love it and go for it!

I’m not relaxing at home, have had my final meal ;-) and am getting my race essentials together:

  • Shoes
  • Socks
  • Shirt and Shorts
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Watch and pace band
  • Body Glide (no bloody 11’s!)
  • Water belt
  • Bib and chip
  • Ipod (I know, bad runner)
  • Post-race nutrition
  • Towel and change of clothing as well as a sweater and tear aways for before the race.

I’ll have a post at some point tomorrow with my results, photos and the like! Think good no-bonking thoughts for me!

Sunday’s Route and Elevations


Picking up the race kit…

Race weekend is here! I went down to the Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon Expo today on my lunch break to pick up my race kit. Expo_sign

The race shirts are decent – a bright orange with white stripes down the sides. The kit also included a copy of irun, a mini carton of Rice Dream, a chapstick, and a bunch of assorted other samples and flyers.

I was also able to pick up a pair of ADIDAS running gloves for training this winter, was given a Goodlife hat (and the chance to win a gym membership), and got a free copy of the November/December Canadian Running (I signed up for a two year subscription at the Scotia expo – this is an excellent magazine and that I highly recommend).

The expo also had the trophies displayed near the kit pick up, but I couldn’t find where they were keeping the display of the medals that are being handed out this year. I found the booth with the company who makes them, but they also didn’t know where they were located. So, for now, the esthetics of the medals remains a mystery (although a little bird told me they were BIG).

TropiesCompared to the Scotiabank Waterfront Toronto Marathon, I thought the kit pick up was kind of shaky. At Scotia, they had a huge area separated by last name. At the Toronto Marathon, it was divided by event and there was a massive line for the marathon and things seems a little disheveled. I’m sure it’s not easy disseminating 30,000 + race kits and maybe I should take into account that it had only be open for a couple of hours, but as far as systems go, I preferred the way it was handled at Scotia.

I also found the walk ways for the expo incredibly narrow. Coming away from the race kit pick up, you are funneled into the Running Room booth with a three-foot opening for everyone to get through. It then opens up a little more, but is still pretty tight, especially with people stopping to look at booths and the various offerings at each. The vendor selection was good and I was happy to see asics selling their shoes and clothing at The Runners Shop‘s booth.

BibSo, I’m a happy tapered runner, just waiting for the gun to go off and run this thing. While I’m telling myself that i’d like to just do as well as i did at Scotia, the truth is I want to do better! I’m hoping to finish in 1 hour and 40 minutes. Well see how it goes!

Ain’t it the truth…