Champions Tour: struggling to make the cut


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It was a good day for me on the Champions Tour on Wednesday.

The Champions Tour is what the six or seven of us at the gym call the Monday and Wednesday sessions where we are culled from the herd and spend time working on specific exercises aimed at increasing range of motion, improving balance and flexibility, building stability, etc. We are (mostly) a little older and all in need f work on fundamentals to help handle moving more weight.

Most days it’s all fine. Monday was – for me at least – not intense enough. The data showed I had my least taxing experience in a session at ATC since I started in June. Now there are two ways to look at that.

One way is to say we – or in this case, I — weren’t pushed hard enough. The second view is I didn’t ramp it up. I think the reality was somewhere in the middle – you can’t get your cardio going with some routines no matter how hard you work it. And you can also cut corners if you let yourself, especially at 6a on a Monday morning.

Today, we were given a more taxing set of exercises to go through and I made an effort to do more and do it harder than our trainer instructed. If he said do eight reps, I did 12. I held my finish until I felt that . . . burn. By the end of the workout the data showed I was four times as engaged today as I was Monday. Continue reading

A change of season

Ah, hallmarks of the season abounded.  Snow. Twinkling lights. A kitchen filled with seasonal baking. An exploding TV.

Let’s start with the weather.

If we were kidding ourselves about the mild fall and perhaps winter being delayed, that all came to an end in southern Ontario on Sunday afternoon.

We got off lightly with barely enough snow to make the grass white.

But the cold roared in with the snow and it was -7 this morning when I headed out to my workout at 530a. As some readers know I am (still) stupidly underdressed for the season at that hour, a self-inflicted condition. Under Armour shorts, t-shirt and usually a Columbia fleece zip. Today, I wised up.

I wore a lovely three-quarter length wool top coat OVER the Under Armour (I shower and dress for work at the gym), which gave me the appearance of a neighbourhood perv at 530a, bare legs under long coat . . . but who is going to see me at that hour? Continue reading

Sonny’s Dream


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Sonny don’t go away, I am here all alone
And your daddy’s a sailor, and he never comes home
And the nights get so long, and the silence goes on
And I’m feeling so tired, I’m not all that strong

— Sonny’s Dream, by Ron Hynes

 I’m foregoing the usual Five-for-Friday with a musical interlude.

A guy you’ve never heard of from a place you’ve probably never been who is famous for a song I’m guessing you don’t know the words to died yesterday. I owe him much.

I never met Ron Hynes, the Newfoundland folk singer who among hundreds and hundreds of songs wrote a barroom howler called Sonny’s Dream.

If you read the lyrics sober, it is a profoundly sad and moving song about a young man trapped in the service of his mother, long abandoned by his father for life on the seas. She implores him to never leave; he stares down the road to the cities he’s never seen and dreams of something better.

If you sing the song in a pub in a less-than-sober state, you will make friends, have a grand time, completely miss the sadness of the song, and possibly marry someone you sang with. Continue reading

One of those days


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A couple times in recent months I have written with enthusiasm about how my running has improved and how there are days when I feel almost like a real runner and move with less effort and blah blah blah.

Today was not one of those days.

Today was a day when I awoke in darkness and thought, hmmm, maybe I’m just going to stay here for another hour and not go to the gym. For the first time in a long, long time (excluding the Man Cold™ last month) I didn’t want to work out.

But I got up anyway. I swung my legs out and stumbled to the basement and pulled my gear out of the dryer (I had a work event last night and wasn’t home until late, and when I got home my entertainment was waiting for the wash to finish so I could put it in the dryer. And yes I have more than one pair of shorts and one t-shirt but why can’t you just listen and support me, okay?)

And I drove to the gym and there was a smaller crowd than Wednesday because Thursday is a hard, hard day at the gym and maybe my mind forgot that but my body remembered and wanted me to stay in bed. Note to self: listen to your body. Continue reading

When I was a boy we didn’t party with Dinos


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Live from Toronto, It’s Friday Night!

When I was a kid in university we amused ourselves on weekends with the usual, time-tested distractions, which given the family friendly nature of this space I will won’t bother detailing.

You all grew up and did most of the same things with varying degrees of effort/enjoyment/criminal prosecution.

Kids now do all that stuff plus – they go to parties at museums.

On the weekend, Chris opted to stay in town Friday night because he was going out with some friends to the Royal Ontario Museum to . . . party? Yes, party. Continue reading

Five for Friday: Vol IV


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The calendar says it’s Friday so . . . time for Five for Friday.

It was a particularly Canadian experience heading to the gym this morning. The outside temperature may have said 6C, but I think the wind chill was probably -35. Give or take. I can take the spin room and the suicide runs and the hateful pushups and pullups … but the darkness and cold at 530a really does me in. Being the clever sort, I’ve determined that part of the issue for me is wearing shorts out to the car at that hour. The sensation of November wind whistling up the Under Armour may not inspire a folk song from Gordon Lightfoot, but it’s hard to imagine a more visceral Canadian moment. Continue reading

Where I sweat: The ATC


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With an assist from my wife and one of my best friends, the Athlete Training Centre probably changed my life. For sure it changed the way I live my life, so. Close enough. This is a true story and if you’ve been thinking about fitness you might want to read it.

This is a long read. Get a coffee. I’ll wait.

I mentioned a few days ago ATC — where I work out — is having an open house later this month (Nov 28, 1p to 5p and more info here). If you live in the west GTA, it might make sense for you to check it out.

The Athlete Training Centre is a gym, not a health club. High-end athletes from numerous sports train here with the goal of maximizing their fitness. Created to service elite pro, national-level amateur and college athletes, ATC now also offers a program for ordinary adults who aren’t elite but want to be fitter.

Sometimes the worlds collide and I’ll find myself sweating on the turf doing sprinter situps next to a member of the Canadian world champion field lacrosse team across from a working mom of three. He thinks nothing of it. And neither do I.

Welcome to ATC. Continue reading

Remembering with gratitude


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Last week while visiting Nova Scotia, we were often in the company of Pad’s girlfriend who was visiting at the same time. That was more happy coincidence than good planning but it worked out well because when he travelled by bus with the team she was able to tag along with us.

Never one to miss a chance to extoll the virtues of Nova Scotia, between Laura and I we pointed out the sights and history and lore from Citadel Hill to Peggy’s Cove to Grand Pre, reciting from memory those facts we knew and filling in other pieces with reasonable guesswork that made us sound informed.

Miss J. is a lovely, smart, outgoing young woman and product of Ontario’s education system, which means there are large gaps in her Canadian history database. No worries, ma’am. I’m here to bore you.

One afternoon we took her across one of the harbour bridges to allow her a more expansive look at Halifax and as Laura rightly described it, “a true working harbour.” Cargo ships, commuter ferries and Navy frigates mix with late-season pleasure craft on these waters. The business of shipping and receiving is a big one here; the sense of a call to defend a nation is pervasive. Continue reading

A reassuring voice will be missed


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When you first start a family, it is inevitable that someone is going to tell you to enjoy every minute because the years pass in a blink of an eye, or some other cliché. And it’s almost true.

Two decades is 20 years whether you’re sitting on a desert island or enjoying watching your family blossom. Beyond the feeding, clothing, and care, parenting is about making sure your kids are loved and equipped with the skills to go out confidently into the world on their own.

And when that day comes, you hope that the people they meet will look out for them. We are all battle-hardened veterans of parenting wars, and we all regard our kids as fragile cargo.

We have been fairly lucky. Our boys had the luxury and privilege of living in a comfortable, safe, home in a nice town in a great country. They made solid friendships. They got educated. They played sports, learned the value of teamwork and joined social groups. They learned right from wrong. They are confident, smart, fit, handsome and *just* worldly enough. Continue reading

Chasing the pack


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I’m back in the saddle again. Feel free to sing along.

Every weekday morning is an early one for me but my spouse had a conference to attend in Toronto at 8a and asked what time my alarm is set for – “5:25 a.m., but I usually wake up before that.”

And I did. Up and at ‘em at 515a, out the door by 535a. Last week’s time off and “sleeping in” until 730a or 8a now seem like a decade ago.

Truth is that after three days I missed getting up early to work out and I’m glad to be back at the routine. And I like the people so it is fun to see them, too. It is, however, getting a little cooler in the mornings so there may need to be some wardrobe adjustments to compensate. And I want a car with heated seats!

The really good news is I didn’t forget anything today. Progress.

The Athlete Training Centre, where I work out, is now well into its November challenge. There are, apparently, two competitions. One for total “effort points” and one for body fat reduction in the month.

I have no chance of competing for either crown. Continue reading


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