Winter Indoor Tri

So I tried a tri.  It was the Repsol Centre’s 5th Annual 10 mile indoor triathlon. It consisted of a 500m swim, 7.8 mile (12.5K) bike and 3K (2 mile) run. I signed up for it in mid January as a challenge, knowing that it had been years since my last training swim (did the now defunct Brooklyn Bridge swim in 2015) and I have not cycled since early December or late November I do not remember.

I did a biathlon once with no training. It was in the St. John, USVI and entailed a .75 mile swim in Maho Bay and a hilly 5K run.  It was a low-key race so I was allowed to swim with a snorkeling mask and snorkel.  I am great at hanging out in the ocean–treading water and doing a little swim here and there, mainly to stretch out and/or get from A to B.  My swimming form is not that great and I remember a watching sea turtle with a missing front fin totally dust me.  By the time I got out of the water and started to run, my legs felt like two lead columns. At that time I was a well-trained runner, but after the turtle swim, my legs were not havin’ it. I did finish, in last place. My strength as an athlete is that I have always finished any race that I start.

For this triathlon, I did some training, I managed to get in two pool swims prior. Once in the pool I remembered how much I enjoyed gliding through the water (the after-chorine smell, not so much). It was also a welcome respite from running in the freezing cold. I saved my workouts from when I trained for the Brooklyn Bridge swim–I have them printed out stored in a big ziploc in my seldom used swim bag.  I used two of the shorter work-outs, about 1200 meters. I figured if I could finish that length of a workout I could finish the swim. I had to buy new goggles because I left my old and ill-fitting ones in Brooklyn and a new swim cap because my other one disintegrated.

However, I entered the arena with minimal training for this race and with the intention of enjoying it and finishing.


The idea of enjoying athletic competition for me comes in the anticipation and afterglow.  Once I signed up, I looked forward to the race.  I was excited about doing my first triathlon. I was in Heat 1 Wave 3 (heat were slowest to fastest, I signed up for the slowest) and assigned number 18 which was Sharpied on my upper right shoulder and lower right calf.  I was also given a timing chip to strap around my ankle.


This was after, but my number 18 lasted. 

I was not at all familiar with the flow of a triathlon.  You see it on TV and hear about this transition, but doing it is another thing.  I noticed that people had their sneakers (in Canada, runners) neatly placed next to their bikes along with towels, water bottles and other biking/running accoutrements.

After setting up my Keiser bike I neatly placed my stuff next to the bike–sneakers, capri running tights, socks, knee strap–and my water bottle on the bike.  With my swim cap and goggles I headed to the pool deck for the pre-race brief.

There seemed to be both a number of first timers and seasoned people in my slow heat.  Some had the gear–the triathlon kit while others were in beach swimsuits.  I was in the third wave of my heat, we entered the water in 5 second intervals.  We were off.

20 laps in the pool, the first couple of laps felt ok, but I quickly tired, partially because of the anticipation (the swim is my weakest link), having a person pass me and then when I was up to passing him, as what commonly happens with men, he kind of flailed and I just backed off, not worth it.  The swim was tiring, not enjoyable while doing it, but once I was out of the pool (I needed help getting out), I felt some exhilaration (but anticipation of the next event).

For the bike, the timing started once you entered the biking area.  The transition from swim to bike was included in the bike time.  My skin was damp and I had compression capris.  Putting tight clothing on a damp body does not make for swift changing.  I don’t know how long it took me, but some people who entered the biking area after me were “on the road” while I was still jumping up and down to get my running tights on. Victoriously the tights went up and I was on the bike for 7.8 miles.  Since I have only done Keiser bike in spinning class, I was not sure of the Watt/RPM balance that would get me to the goal faster.  I toggled between 9 and 11 (the sanctioned range was 9-12) and it took me what seemed like forever to get to 7.5 (to signal a tri staff) and finally 7.8 to finish.

I jogged over to the stairs that led up to the indoor track.  Fifteen laps.  You get a rubber band after each set of 5.  My legs were heavy and my hamstring was not behaving but I kept it moving.  I walked twice but kept it moving.  I wanted to pick it up for the last 5 laps but did not have it in me.


The biking area, some brought their own bikes while others used the supplied Keisers. The upper level is the indoor track.


I was so happy to finish.  The enjoyment comes at the end, knowing that I finished the challenge, feeling proud of my accomplishment and well-deserving of the big Kirkland chocolate chip cookie at the end.


I would definitely like to do a triathlon again and hope to do this one next year, with more training and probably compression shorts instead of tights, maybe even swimming in them to save transition time.  I have a baseline so I can aim for faster times.  At some point I would like to do a full-on outdoor one, but need to get the right gear for training and racing first; it is an investment, even used a decent bike is pricey.  Wetsuits are not cheap either, so it cannot be a “one-and-done” endeavor. Or I could just be like my cat and not give a crap about it all and stay on the couch and wait for someone to feed me.


Who is smarter, me or Mitza? 


Ninja Warrior Needs Motivation

Another morning, another single digit temperature reading, sometimes minus.  The alarm clock goes off and I ask myself, “do I really want to do this? Do I really have to do this?”  I think about the amount of clothing I have to put on (starting from skin-panties, bra, insulation tights under thermal-windbreaker tights, long sleeved top, another thermal long-sleeved top, wind-breaker jacket, fleece hat, neck gaiter/Buff, gloves, socks, sneakers, ice trax, knee band, petroleum jelly on my face and lips and Garmin watch and sunglasses if the sun is up)–ugh, getting dressed alone should be worth a mile. I reflect on summer days, less than 5 minutes of dressing and out the door!

This Brooklyn Ninja Warrior is starting to loose her edge. Her f@#ks are becoming “fudges” or “fiddlesticks.” That my long-injured hamstring has been acting up does not help the cause.

I know that once I am dressed and out the door I will run.  I will run slow (my pace has been about a minute and a half slower during the last couple of weeks) and I will hate the wind on my face and feeling my fingers get numb, but I will run.

However, I do appreciate seeing the smooth snow on the river, ducks and geese waking from a frosty sleep, hearing the crunch of the dry snow under my feet and hearing various birds (mostly magpies) wondering why humans are out running in the cold, with neither feathers nor fur, if they have a choice of being someplace warm.

I need motivation, inspiration.  I signed up for an indoor triathlon (my first) so I started to swim and forgot how relaxing a good swim could be.  The pool is warm, but I still have to walk through the cold to get there.  And, I think the dreadmill would be a tedious, boring, less enjoyable option (and it would mean joining a gym. I cannot bring myself to paying about 80 bucks a month in Calgary when I was paying only 10 at Planet Fitness in Brooklyn and the gym was practically across the street.  Even on the coldest of days a couple of good f@#ks at the wind would get you there fine. With the gym distances in Calgary, you would need a whole lotta f@#ks to do the same job).

What do you do to stay motivated to run during long winters? What are other options besides the dreadmill? What are your warmest running clothing to wear–what do you swear by?

Coda: I just got back from spending a long weekend in Puerto Vallarta. Thought I would be remotivated/rejuvenated to run in the cold.  But no…


New Age-Group Category

It was my birthday.  It was a significant one.  Every year I always say to myself, “I am going to plan something significant. Maybe a trip somewhere with a group of friends, a fun party, spa day, group burlesque or pole class, something.” And every year my birthday comes around and I am all, “meh.”

Being the oldest child I always had the biggest birthday parties growing up.  My father would change the bulbs of the chandelier over the dining room table to 5 different colors.  My mother would make a huge pot of rice and peas and curry goat. We would go to Woolworths in downtown Brooklyn and buy a paper table cloth with matching plates and cups as well as balloons and streamers.  And, of course, a glittery Happy Birthday crown.  Although my mother is a great baker, my parents would always purchase my birthday cake from the baker–white frosting, angel cake with pineapple filling. It was always decorated in pink, my name and “Happy Birthday” written in red goop and adorned with pink plastic flowers.  I loved to lick the frosting off those flowers.

My birthdays were all kinds of fun with relatives, neighbors, school friends and the like.  The dad and his grown-men counterparts would retreat to the living room to drink gin and listen to Soul Makossa while mom and friends would chill in or near the kitchen chatting about children (while we were right there), while we ran up and down the hallway of our 12th floor apartment.  We also had parakeets–Christine and Greenie–who would share in the festivities with loud chatter and sometimes flying the hallway with the kids. Now, as an adult, these kinds of birthday parties are long behind me.  I have had the occasional surprise party, but usually my birthdays are low-key with a celebration at a bar with drinks and maybe cake.

The main difference this birthday was being in a new city with new friends.  Me being not a big planner to begin with I would have not clue about where I would want to go (restaurant/bar-wise). However, I am very lucky to have social friends who enjoy an excuse to have a party so there was a fun gathering in my honor with delicious coconut cake and all.


IMG_4445Yummy Coconut Cake and Cheezies in the background! 

There was music, dancing and the Canadian version of Cheetos called Cheezies. This was serendipitous as crunchy Cheetos are my favorite party snack food.  I never buy them for myself but will park my self next to a bowl of them at a children’s party.  As far as the difference between Cheezies and Cheetos, they taste slightly different, Cheezies are a little more robust in size and flavor, but I love them both.

Another birthday came and went.  I am in a new decade and a new running age group. Once I get over the shock of seeing the numbers on races forms and on my bib, I will be good. It’s all good, I just now will have to change my running stride so that I cover my age with my hand while running! Just kidding…


IMG_4443The rare selfie, but it is my birthday!


Rob Brezney’s first horoscope of the New Year beckoned me to, “let your freak flag fly” and continued, “be your most unique eccentric self; show off your idiosyncrasies with uninhibited pride.”  I think this is a perfect mantra for me for 2018, which is also a significant birthday year.  Much of the horoscope this week resonated with me and how I want to enter this period of my life.

So, anyone who knows me well–family and close friends–knows I love to be naked.  “Jenn, are you wearing anything?” is how my close friend/neighbor responds to my “who” when she knocks on my door.  You don’t have to tell me twice to skinny dip or go topless on the beach. I love the feeling of air, sun, water, etc. on my skin–as much skin as possible. While I have not yet visited a nudist establishment, it is not off my list, it just has not yet crossed my path (nor my path crossed it).

I also love to read, it is a part of my job and it is also a part of what I like to do for pleasure.  I get great joy out of the smell of books; I love the fresh-off-the-press smell of new books and the musty smell of old ones. Whenever I get a new or new-to-me book, the first thing I do when I open it is to take a deep whiff of the scent even before I read the front or back copy or look at the cover art.  I love that I have a couple of bookshelves full of books (punctuated by random chotskies). Naked Girls Reading (NGR) presented me with the opportunity to try do combine two of my loves.  Naked Girls Reading (different link) is a global movement started by a burlesque dancer in Chicago.  It is a way of combining smart and sexy in safe spaces and now has chapters from Adelaide to Warsaw.

Back in November I wrote about my Calgary adventures and volunteering for NGR. Well, after volunteering, I became intrigued to read myself.  Because of the adventure getting there I thought I’d wait until I had a “ride and die” to accompany me, but my ride and die options (my Calgary community is slowly growing) all happened to be out of town.  So public transport it was again, however less eventful than the first time probably because I knew where I was going.

I entered the venue and went upstairs (the “undressing” room) to meet the other readers and prepare for the show.  I met a couple of the other ladies; all but one were NGR virgins like myself.  There was a nervous energy in the room as we put on make-up, did hair and disrobed.  Including our fearless leader Keely Kamikaze, the founder of the NGR Calgary chapter, the there were five readers and an emcee.  The theme was “fantasy” to be interpreted by the reader.  I read from Octavia Butler‘s Fledgling, and here is the preamble I included as to why I chose this work,

Zeine came across Octavia Butler’s work when she saw Ms. Butler read at the Brooklyn Museum in 2005, a year before her untimely death in 2006.  When Zeine first started reading this autographed copy, she got creeped out by the the vampire feedings and put it down. She did not pick it up again until more than a decade later to read for NGR and now could not put it down.

 BTW, my stage name is Zeine Bruja, I’ll write about the name at some point, but not now ;).
Getting ready to read.  My niece is not around so I had to do my own make up.
Like any show, we arrived early, did sound check and waited for the crowd to arrive.  The sound check also included directions about disrobing, mike placement and book holding.  Readers enter the stage area with a robe, dress, cape–anything that allows for a reveal of the body.  The emcee make the introduction, the reader disrobes, places the garment on a chair and either sits or stands to read.  To me, it felt like any other performance I have done except I was naked in front of a room full of strangers.  Once I took off my dress and started to read, it was no longer obvious to me that I was naked and I felt that the audience responded to me, as a reader, as they would have had I had on clothing; there was very little if anything that seemed voyeuristic about the audience; several of the readers were there with their family, partners and spouses.   It was an intimate space because of the acceptance and openness of the audience and had very little to do with sex, which is often equated with nudity.
I read twice, first from chapter 1 and then from chapter 3.  I did not want to read to far into the book so as to ruin the story should someone from the audience want to read the book themselves.  Keely sends out a reading list to audience members who sign up for it.
My autographed copy! 
At the end of the show, the readers and emcee gathered for photos, both robed and unrobed and even did a nude group hug–we were all psyched about our performance–post-performance high.  When I dressed and came downstairs to leave, I received many complements on my reading (I read with my  teacher voice), the choice of book, and even my accent (I sometimes forget that I have a CaribBrooklyn accent).
Returning to Brezney,  “I propose that we revive [your flying freak flag] for your use in 2018. I suspect the coming months will be a favorable time for you to cultivate your quirks and trust your unusual impulses. You should give yourself maximum freedom to explore pioneering ideas and maverick inclinations. Paradoxically, doing so will lead to stabilizing and enduring improvements in your life.” I heeded this call and I would say that 2018 and especially my birthday month and significant birthday year are off to a great start!
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Cross-Country Skiing

A part of this embracing winter means trying winter things.  Things that require snow or ice in order to be winter things.  So, last week my friend and I headed to Canmore to do cross-country skiing.

We texted each other in the morning, the “it’s really cold but if you want to go, I’ll go” kind of text.  I checked my phone and saw that it was minus 2 degreesF/-19 degreesC. Yikes.  I looked to see how cold it was the day before when I did another ice mascara run, it was slightly balmier at 5degreesF/-15degreesC.  Not wanting to wuss out I replied that I ran yesterday in the cold so I could probably ski today.

We drove from Calgary to Canmore, about an hour. We passed several ranches with cows all fluffed up for the winter.  It was overcast so the landscape was relatively monochrome, deadgrass brown, greyish-white snow and muted-green conifers.  Although the colors were muted, it was still lovely as the landscape was wide and the mountains–the three sisters–slowly appeared through the cold snowy air.

My friend had taken one lesson in x-country skiing and I tried it once in college, eons ago, so we were both novices.  However, she has gone a couple of more times that I since her first lesson.

The first challenge was putting on the skis.  My shoes were supposed to just click in somehow but I was not having any success.  It reminds me of trying to clip bicycle shoes onto the pedal in spinning class, even when I think I am clipped in my foot slips off and the pedal licks me back in my calf.  I finally figured out how to get my skis on and now it was time to ski.  It looks easy, there are tracks to follow.  I got on the track and after a slow start I got a slight rhythm going.  I was smooth (but slow) sailing until I reached a patch were the tracks disappeared.  The snow was flat and I lost footing and there was my first wipe-out.  Falling down was easy, but getting up was another story.  After waving my skiis around like knitting needles, I managed to pull myself upright.

Going downhill was scary at first (fear of falling) but became easier with each hill. Uphill, however, posed another challenge.  If I kept a good rhythm I would make it up.  However, if it was a longer hill and I lost rhythm or stopped I would find myself slowly drifting downhill backwards and unable to stop.  I would drift back to the start of the uphill and have to do it all over again.  So I quickly learned to suck it up and get my a$$ to the apex before breathing again.

Once I got the hang of the cross-country skiing, it became more enjoyable.  Not that I was not enjoying myself from the beginning, but it is more fun to stay upright on the skis rather than on my knees or butt and trying to navigate getting up.  I did not yet have that lesson about getting up gracefully on skiis.

I was gliding down a nice gentle downhill, gaining speed as I went along but gaining too much speed, so much that I felt like I was going to crash into my friend (I also did not yet have the lesson about stopping or braking on skiis).  So rather than crash I fell into the ditch. The snow was softer and deeper there so I found myself getting deeper in the snow as I struggled to get back on the trail.  As I was doing this a robust Canadian woman and her child, going in the opposite direction, offered to help.  She was trying to instruct me to lay my skiis together and then tilt up.  I didn’t quite understand at first so did some odd yoga moves and managed to right myself.  She was impressed with my flexibility (made me feel good about my years of flex classes at Body and Pole) and then showed me what she was trying to explain to me.  I now know how to get up on skiis.

We finished the trail and now for the final challenge of removing the skiis.  I saw how other skiis were released, so I pressed and pulled in the effort to release my boots.  My friend’s skiis had a thingy to pull up, I had what looked like a similar thingy but mine’s would not budge.  So she ran into the rental shop to ask for help.  She mentioned that as soon as she started to say, “my friend is stuck on her skiis…” the rental shop dude responded, “you need to twist the white thing.” So I twisted and voila, I was freed.

I now had ski legs.  I still felt like I was gliding as we walked towards the car.  My shoulders felt tired, a good tired, cross country skiing was a decent, relaxing workout.  On the drive home we saw a large black wolf running along the side of the road.  It seemed very focused and determined to get someplace.  Maybe cross country skiing???

Duppy Run in Leiden

It was a cold, dark morning sometime in my track running days.  I was a teacher and had to get to work by 7:30 am.  I usually ran during the afterschool hours but for some reason I decided to run before work on that day.  I probably had  big track meet coming up and had something do that evening.  Anyway, I put on my cotton running bra (Jogbra), a cotton-poly turtle neck that I got cheap from Models, thick cotton champion sweatshirt, royal blue running tights and cotton tube socks on my fists in the place of gloves.  This was before the “cotton kills” mantra and I don’t recall anyone I know dying from cotton.

I left the house before sunrise, and ran.  After about 3 or so miles, I returned home to find my mother at the top of the stairs, “where were you?”

“I was running.”

“At this ungodly hour of the morning?”

She proceeded to tell me that my grand Aunt Nell came to her in a dream and told her something to the effect of, “tell Jennifer that I will meet her at the bus stop.” She admonished me, “Aunt Nell came to warn me about you being outside!” And, as Jamaican mothers do, at about 6 am on that winter morning, she gave me a verbal beating for running with the duppies and summoning Aunt Nell’s spirit.

“Aunt Nell was with you that night.” To this day she still recounts this story when she cautions me when I travel, “Be careful.  I know you like to take risks.  I remember when…dark…running…Aunt Nell…”

Many years later I am in Leiden and decided to go for a morning run.  I was visiting for an academic workshop and I wanted to get a few miles (or minutes) in before breakfast and the start of the day.  At this time of year the sun rises at around 8:45.  It was around 6:30 when I headed out for my run.  It was dark.

The neat thing about the Netherlands is that it is a very bike-friendly place.  There are all of these “highways” paved specially for bicycles, many of them running alongside major streets and automobile highways.  They are paved in this reddish “asphalt,” that reminded me of running tracks, except they are not spongey.  Runners seem to use these “bikeways” too as a way of avoiding running in traffic.  In the dark I followed one of these bikeways towards Valkenburgse Meer. In my running in the daylight mind I thought running around a lake would be divine, but in the reality of darkness I could not see the lake and therefore abandoned that option and stayed on the bikeway.

Being the New Yorker that I am and always having my mother’s warnings echoing in my head, I was running with caution.  Every canal, bush and shadowy figure in the fog became a trigger for my fight or flight response.  I felt like the Kung-Fu fighting brothers back-in-the-day; the ones who always wore martial arts gees everywhere who were always ready to block a punch or do some flying kick punctuated by a karate kata.  I encountered a few other runners and bicycles, including scooters and electric bikes, all rather comfortable in the dark; relaxed as if it were a sun-up morning stroll.

As it was dark, I did not get to fully appreciate the canals, fields, hothouses and residential streets that I passed.  I just knew that my run went slightly below sea level at times and that the Dutch are geniuses at keeping the water under control, hence the windmills and carefully constructed canals.

IMG_4208Running below sea level

I went out for about a mile and a half and then turned around to return to the hotel; a nice out and back in the dark.  My colleagues (from the Netherlands) were not as incredulous as my mother would have been about my running in the dark.  “It is completely safe here,” they mentioned.  “There are no jails.”

I went out for dark running a couple more times during my week stay.  I did not go as long or as fast as usual since I was fighting a cold.  It was an adventure trying to figure out what kind of cough medicine to get.  I got the one that read “Alles Hoest” or all cough.  It seemed to work but tasted horrible, like the salted licorice that people in this part of the world love.

Obligatory windmill pictures:

IMG_4245IMG_4251The canals that I missed in the dark:


Duck Rave

I thought this blog would be about surviving winter runs until this winter when my Brooklyn running club (PPTC) has numerous threads about cold-weather running.  It is colder in Brooklyn than it is now in Calgary. On this morning’s run I didn’t even wear my fave Target’s fleece top; I wore a long sleeve under a short sleeve (both race shirts) under my jacket.  Fleece hat, gloves, tights, wool socks and snowtrax on my sneakers (yup, I am from Brooklyn were we say sneakers).

Breaking from usual patterns, I brought my cell phone so that I could share pictures of the river, which makes for a beautiful winter morning run.

IMG_4153The river was frozen over a couple of days ago, but it seems like the swift part has melted (or eroded) through.

IMG_4155View of the downtown area with the Bow River, which apparently is world renowned for fishing.

IMG_4158Ice on the river

IMG_4160Patterns in the ice on the river

I continued on my run until I reached Eau Claire and took in the remnants of a holiday that went by too fast…

IMG_4161IMG_4163IMG_4162He has been there since summer (or at least since I’ve been in Calgary).

I crossed the bridge and saw a bunch of waterfowl (Anseriformes) awakening from their slumber.  IMG_4166See the frost on their backs

IMG_4167See the spots where they spent the night; two are obviously not morning geese.


IMG_4175Breakfast buffet (I am amazed at how wild animals find food in the dead of winter). As I was admiring the birds and hearing their calls, I kept thinking that it sounded like a lot more than what I was seeing.  I kept along the path and was getting chilled so headed towards the bridge towards home.  However a little trail to right caught my attention:


I turned the corner and lo and behold, this was the party that I was missing.  This is where the nightly duck rave happens and I am now seeing the ones who are leaving (or attempting to leave) The Club.  This is when the DJ plays odd tunes and the overhead lights come on and you are compelled to leave the safety of the dance floor to enter the harsh reality of work/home/school/whatever.  This. Is. The. Duck. Club.  (tune deep house music).


IMG_4181IMG_4180This is the best of urban wildlife; a microcosm of our lives–we gather, share experiences, go on our individual adventures (sometimes with others) only to reconvene again.  This was the meeting place.  This was the Prospect Park lake for Calgary waterfowl on an off-the-chain scale.

The frost was settling on my back and in order to avoid becoming like one of the frosty ducks, I finished up my three mile loop and headed home.


Bald Eagle Run

The moment when your 2018 Calgary run is warmer than your 2018 Brooklyn run two days earlier.

January 1st (Brooklyn); January 3rd (Calgary)

I am back in Calgary after spending my holiday season in Brooklyn.  Landing in YYC is a very different visual aesthetic.  It is very flat, and at this time of year, very white.


I was sitting on the side of the plane with an eastern view so all I saw was an expanse of flat lands.  Orderly, unlike the chaos and geographic textures one experiences when landing in large urban space.  Even the geology, was not until the plane did the southern approach did I finally see the Rockies. These are the prairies, baby!

Those are the Rockies at the horizon

So, after resettling into my Calgary apartment and a decent nights sleep (I am dealing with upper respiratory stuff so I had a dream of buying tissues in bulk from a big box store) I got up and went for my morning run.

Although the temperature read 24F, it felt warm upon leaving the apartment; relative heatwave in comparison to the frigid Northeast.  I donned my snowtrax because of ice and snow (I was lucky to miss the minus double digits and snow during the romjul week).  I decided to go slow because of the snow and because of my cold, easy 3 mile loop.

The sky was clear above, the river full of ice, it was a peaceful winter morning run.  I ran down to the 14th street bridge, went over and continued on the south side of the river.  After I passed the 10th street bridge I noticed a raptor in the sky.  Outstretched wings, owning the space like only a raptor can.  As it soared closer overhead, I gasped, it was a BALD EAGLE!!!! I have never seen one in the wild before and this one did not disappoint.  A beautiful bird, clean white head that matched the snow, striking yellow beak, even the piercing eyes could be seen from my place on the ground below.  I stopped and unconsciously positioned my hands in gratitude for this gift of nature on my first 2018 run in Calgary.

PJ Run

It’s been a few days since I have been back in YYC before I update on my latest river runs I wanted to share my last PPTC run in Brooklyn.

IMG_3754House sparrow in Prospect Park, morning of PJ Run 

The winter chill and the holidays makes one feel all Gemütlichkeit—the need to get cozy with soft, fluffy things (kittens included) and warm drinks. Migrating birds are almost all gone, and the local house sparrows have the bushes almost all to themselves. However, only a bunch of narly runners would think this is the time to go running through the streets of Brooklyn in pajamas. But not before first passing the dog run, none of whom were wearing PJs.


The PPTC pajama run is a social run, a group run that is not so much focused on pace or distance but more on fun and conversation. The group met at Grand Army Plaza, the usual starting point of group runs.  We were all in some level of pajamas attire ranging from just PJ bottoms (with a running top, of course as this wasn’t the naked run) to an adult onesie. I wore some flannel bottoms that I picked up from Phat Albert’s for $1.99. The same ones that they have been trying to sell off since the summer.


IMG_3730Pajama squad gathered, Lisa one of our fearlessly flanneled leaders 

 With an almost 6 mile route planned out by the event organizers, we headed off down 9th street, across Court St., down Union St. over to Brooklyn Bridge Park. It was an easy glide down the terminal moraine towards the waterfront.


The faster runners kept pace ahead while the sexier runners held up the end. I ran with two teammates, one in wearing a super hero pajama set with cape, and the other in multiple flannels and a goofy hat. I was fun getting curious glances and trivial stares from other runners and pedestrians, “Here comes more people running in pajamas!” To which Murray responded, “the only way to run!”

IMG_3740My 11:00 pace squad 🙂 (Murray in the orange hat and Superman aka Eric)

We continued at an easy pace along the waterfront and through the Brooklyn Bridge park.  Along the way we encountered several teammates who were doing their not-a-pajama-run run.  We turned towards downtown Brooklyn and stopped to walk up the small hill.  Since this was a fun run, no need to burn rubber.  After passing the post office, we spotted Adams St.  A street that although associated with my name, I never had any strong attachments do.  However, Murray being as astute as he is, “you must have a photo by your name!” So here it is.  My street, my borough, my photo.

DSCN2156 (2)

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We made it to City Point Brooklyn, a “new” Brooklyn establishment with a hipster food court on the lower level.  It is on the former Albee Mall site where I used to hang out in high school at the Wendy’s in the basement. Not feeling coffee I went into Trader Joes and got some water and a smoothie.

I was amongst the tail-end runners and once the whole group arrived we occupied two tables.  I did not stay long as I was leaving for YYC the next morning and had some last minute shopping to do.  You know, anything at Targets.  It was an awesome run, with an awesome group of people and I will look forward to more back-to-BKYN runs soon enough!





Zoo Run

One of the motivating things about a Garmin watch is the documentation of my runs. I love scrolling through and seeing the list of my common running route punctuated by different cities I’ve visited since I got the watch.

I was in Washington D.C. for a professional conference and heard rumours about running in the zoo. While I love animals, I am conflicted about zoos. I know that they play a critical role in conservation however seeing the animals pacing back and forth and looking so–bored, makes me feel bad about their captivity and display. But I still visit zoos when I get the chance, especially ones that I know are working  towards conservation and animal wellness.

Apparently running in the National Zoo is very popular. So much so that they had to reduce the visiting hours of the zoo in order to curtail collisions between runners and zoo carts during the dark, early morning hours. Instead of 6am, the zoo now opens at 8, which is a little late for those who need to get to work by 9. But not for people who are at conferences and too brain-fatigued to go to an early morning session.

So, I got my stuff together and left the hotel a little before 8 in order to reach the zoo close to the opening.  The zoo was about .5 mile uphill from the hotel.  I jogged there dodging morning commuters and an ample amount of autumn leaves on the ground.  I reached the entrance and was ready to explore the “wild” trails of the zoos.  However, I did not find said trail so just followed the main path through the center of the zoo and meandered off several paths that led me to different animal exhibits.

Along the main path I spied  a couple of American bison doing early morning bison stuff.


I continued along the path to my first meander that led me to the giant pandas.  I encountered a couple of early morning photographers there along with two of the pandas–one walking around and the other chomping down on some bamboo.  It was a damp, chilly morning which seemed like good panda weather since they are from mountains with dense forests.  I watched them for a little bit before I continued on.


IMG_3634IMG_3633Panda walking

IMG_3637Panda eating 

I found my way back to the main path. It continued down hill (which means that I have to go uphill on the way back…). It was interesting to see a lot of pre-zoo crowd activity–lots of small carts going back and forth, some with large, green branches of stuff that look like it was somebody’s breakfast.  There was also a lot of leaf blowing, sweeping, sidewalk repairing and washing of stuff.  With the amount of “traffic” I could understand how there would be collisions with runners, especially in the morning darkness coupled by those who might be lost in headphone music or podcasts.

I saw signs pointing to the American Trail, so I headed that way hoping for a little more animal action.  Uphill from the trail I saw a wolf and coyote (in separate enclosures) pacing back and forth.  Again, feeling conflicted because I, not in captivity, could run in any direction for as long and as far as I wanted. If this animal had the desire to do so, her enclosed space would not allow for this extended run. I stood with this thought for a moment before moving on.  I passed by the harbor seals, they were all swimming to and fro underwater except for one who was peaking around, maybe looking for food, maybe not as feeding wasn’t until around 11.


I continued to the end of the path and then turned around to head back uphill to the beginning. I continued to look at the behind-the-scenes work happening along the main path along with outlines of the holiday lights and imagining what they looked like after dark.

Near the entrance I noticed zebra and cheetah in the enclosure next to the zebra, an odd juxtaposition of predator and prey.  The cheetah paced along the fence with the zebra watching but not looking fearful. They were too far back in the enclosure to get a proper iPhoto. I rounded the corner to see a Red River hog doing a morning forage.


My run through the zoo was more for the novelty of running through the zoo; not a typical visit that entails extended time viewing animals and reading related copy.  Although a quick jog through, I was happy to see the animals that I encountered and would do it again, hopefully in warmer weather with more animal activity.