My caffeine crisis


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I almost never drink coffee. I get my caffeine from Diet Pepsi. There are worse vices in life – drugs, gambling, liking Donald Trump, being a Habs fan. Mine is DP.

And lately there’s a crisis.

For most of this week, 500ml bottles of DP have been sold out across downtown Toronto. I have no idea why. Two large Shoppers Drug Marts have been sold out since Monday. Rexall in Commerce Court? Sold out. I’m stuck with Coke Zero.

I’m not happy about drinking Coke Zero. Not happy at all. And the body of the Shoppers clerk who shrugged when I asked today when the country’s largest pharmaceutical chain might deign to restock its Diet Pepsi cooler will stand as cold testament to my patience.

I need DP. And when I need DP, I REALLY need DP. Don’t test me on this one. Continue reading


Springtime in Canada & other lies


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Some weeks ago – three? Maybe four? – I put away my long wool winter top coat and draped the scarf over it and moved on to my light, three-season trench coat.

Temperatures were warmer and climbing. Snow had given way to rain. The rhythm of the season began pounding the unmistakable beat of spring. Bring it on.

It is alleged Mark Twain once said the coldest winter of his life was the summer he spent in San Francisco. Mark should have tried on springtime in southern Ontario for winter weather.

Monday’s morning snow was a kick in the teeth, followed by the curb-stomping of today’s cold (-9 when I left the house today after taking out the garbage) to be followed tomorrow by the continued indignity of more rain, sleet, snow and cold.

And what’s strange is where my head goes in weather like this, at this time of year.

Lacrosse tryouts. Continue reading



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I was all ready to go this morning, just like I always am. An almond-milk-and-fruit concoction in the fridge and my day’s clothes hanging in the mudroom to minimize disruption to those I love most as I exit home at 530a.

Which is a bit of a canard. In the universe that is our home I am the most disruptive force, a belt of careening asteroids at the best of times, colliding gracelessly with objects both inanimate and organic regardless of proximity to my path. And at 520a, brace for impact.

Anyway, to get to the point, they had to get by without me this morning at the gym and I am confident they did just fine.

Today is my first down day in the last 27 – the sprint run to the end of the challenge motivated me to forego a couple of dates that normally would have been rest days, but the nasty weather and a couple creaky joints made it an easy call this morning. Me and the asteroid belt called an inaudible audible and I slept (sort of) for an extra hour. Continue reading

We’re all alright


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Your Mommy’s all right
Your Daddy’s all right
They just seem a little weird

— Surrender, Rick Neilsen

I’ve often heard parents with small children remark that they wish those kids would always be “that” age. The age where everything is a wonder, and parents are gods, and kids don’t talk back or ask for car keys or drink beer or any of 199 other things that come along as they grow up.

I’m here to say — again — that there is no part in the parent-child lifecycle so far that has disappointed me or failed to inspire pride and happiness. And this weekend underlined it for me in big black permanent marker.

It wasn’t one thing, it was a bunch of little things, one after the other, as I spent a happy boys weekend with Chris. He was awesome company.

It started Friday night when a bunch of people from ATC (our gym) went out to socialize. Chris and his girlfriend came along at my invitation and while they sat off by themselves, not really interested in hearing us recount Legends of Flop Sweat, they were also constantly in the middle of the evening for me.

I said “have whatever you like and it’s on me.” A review of the bill at the end of evening made me laugh at the furiousness with which that invitation was embraced. Two types of beer. Tequila shots. Rum. Oh, and food. So awesome to be young. Continue reading

It wasn’t supposed to be easy. It wasn’t


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If it had been easy, he wouldn’t have called it a challenge.

The 81-day Athlete Training Centre Challenge is all but over. It was harder than it looked, but easier than some thought. I’ll let that contradiction ricochet around your mind for a while.

The brain child of Athlete Training Centre boss trainer Richard Clark, the challenge was meant to push us physically, challenge us mentally (in terms of exceeding our own perceptions of our boundaries) and stimulate us intellectually to fully understand the implications of our food choices on ourselves and the environment.

That’s my interpretation. Others may have heard other messages. The rules: no alcohol. No dairy. Meat only four times a week. A minimum of five one-hour workouts per week. Just do it. And have fun. No bitching.

The physical challenge seemed a success for many of us “adult athletes.” I lost more than a dozen pounds, I lift more weight and I’m stronger, I hit new lows in body fat readings, improved my cardio to the extent that I could actually run six kilometres, and made a lot of the new clothes I bought last fall feel a little baggy. Continue reading

A first


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Well, that wasn’t so bad.

I completed the World Vision Canada 6K Run for Water on Saturday morning, under brilliant sunny skies and comforted by the chill embrace of sub-zero temperatures. Moments of it were actually fun and rewarding.

There were about 200 runners at our location in north Mississauga. I’m not a runner and now I remember why. One kilometre into the run, we passed a sign marking the distance. It was one of the most demotivational moments I have had in recent times.

Really? I have to so this five more times? The first kilometre was the worst.

My route strategy was simply to run until I felt uncomfortable and then walk a bit. I never needed to walk.

The six people I ran with, all also members of The Athlete Training Centre, were younger and faster and better runners and I was content to let them sprint away from me. The fastest finished the run in about 33 minutes. I toddled in about seven minutes later, respectably in the middle of the pack. Continue reading

Sort of running. But for a cause


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This Saturday I will do something I have never done before by participating in a six-kilometre “fun run” to raise money for fresh-water wells in arid African villages.

I quietly reached out to fewer than a dozen family and friends whom I figured would be sympathetic to the cause (and to me) and asked for modest contributions. They exceeded my humble goal, and now it’s on me to finish the route and make good on the commitment.

Me and running have an indifferent relationship – and you will note above I didn’t say I will be “running” the course, I said I would participate. I have no doubt my fitness level and cardio/respiratory capacity is more than sufficient for six kilometres – it’s my gimpy old knees that will likely require a run/walk/run/walk regime.

Back when I used to walk for fitness and stress management, I had a route of 6.25 kilometres that I could do in about 55 minutes. Most people don’t walk that fast. So, I know that I can finish the course on Saturday in less than an hour. It will be managing my ego to ensure I’m not the last person out there that will be the challenge while not grinding my joints into powder. Continue reading

Work through it


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Dinner time conversation in our house.

(Fade in, scene of someone opening the Advil.)

G: Knee?

L: (Getting ice pack for knee) Knee.

(G takes the Advil, opens it again, with heating pad on elbow.)

L: Elbow?

G: Elbow.

Both: We’re falling apart.

L: Stay home or work through it.

G: Work through it. I’ll get you wine.

L: There’s sparkling water in the fridge.

(Fade out as theme music for House of Cards rises . . .)

– – – Continue reading

One day more


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Tomorrow we’ll discover
What our God in Heaven has in store!
One more dawn
One more day
One day more!

— One Day More, Les Miserables, Boubill and Natel

It’s March and that means playoff hockey in Oakville.

Our team – the peewee red Packers – faceoff tonight in a semi final with the season on the line. There are no best-of-five or two-game-total-goal series in house league. It’s one and done. Win, and you get to be sweaty on the blueline after the championship game, win or lose. Lose and your season ends.

It’s not life or death and Donald Trump won’t show up and make fun of us if we don’t get the outcome we want. But it’s still a big deal.

Our opponents are a solid squad. They have beaten us, we have beaten them (the last time just two weeks ago in the last game of the regular season with 2nd place on the line.) But after nearly two decades of this I know that in a one-game playoff, expect the unexpected and stuff will happen.

Win or lose, we are already proud of our guys. Continue reading

While you were sleeping


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Another week at the ATC is almost in the bag. We were wrapping up the Friday workout just before 7a, as most of Oakville was barely waking up.

It’s the end of what is perhaps the last wintry weekend of the 2015-16 season. Double digit temperatures are forecast for early next week. The new snow will have a mercifully brief lifespan. And there are just 28 days left in the ATC Winter Challenge.

Things are looking up.

The 81-day challenge started on January 11. The format was to create five teams of adult athletes from the crew at the Athlete Training Centre and challenge us to look at what we eat in a new way.

Yes, there is a challenging physical component – bonus points for working outs five times a week, bonuses for special challenges around pushups, pullups and distance spinning. But the real emphasis is on diet.

We are challenged to only eat meat and eggs four days a week. No dairy at all. No alcohol. 81 days. Eat more plants, that’s the idea. Continue reading