Saturday, March 27, 2010


I recently took up jogging. Well, that's actually sort of false, on two counts. 'Recently' is more like 10 years ago, when I tried it out for the first time and nearly died because I didn't know what I was doing. And 'jogging' is also a bit of an exaggeration at this point. It's more like wogging. At this early stage, I'm easing into it by altering walking and jogging, eventually phasing the walking part out.

My initial will to run regularly waned rather fast that first time, but the flame never totally went out. Since then, I have had what I like to call 'my annual jog', which usually occurred sometime during the first blush of spring. I did that just to remind myself that it was still a possibility. That maybe it would one day 'take'. I was encouraged by my friend Karen who told me it took her 11 years to finally get it. I think it's kind of like quitting smoking. It won't work unless you're really ready for it. Influenced and encouraged by a few close friends to make a more concerted effort, I did, and realized my time was now.

First stop: running store. Boutique Endurance on Saint Denis in Montreal is excellent. I didn't realize, though, that as a beginner, part of the deal of getting outfitted with the proper pair of shoes involves running several paces on a track inside the store. I just thought that track was a clever design element. Wrong-o. Well, mild humiliation aside, it proves that these guys know what they're doing, as just those few pounding steps demonstrate how your foot falls, whether your knees buckle in, and just what type of support you need to correct or balance those mechanics. So after a few tryouts, I settled on the beauties pictured above. The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10, in Chambray / Midnight Fog / White. They are hideous. But they're the most dreamily comfortable shoes I've ever worn. Pillows, they are. But gawd almighty why do they all have to be such a dog's breakfast of mesh and shiny space-age flash?  But at least I got away with a decent blue and not some obnoxious pink or mint green. It would have been rather counter-effective to wear bags over them I think.

So while it may take me another few years to really 'take' to this, I'm bolstered by the fact that I'm equipped to do it in comfort, if not in style.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Dare we say it? (Spring is here!)

So far, the winter of 2009-2010 has mercifully spared us some of its harsher blows. Of course, March - the cruelest month - has just begun, so we may get our comeuppance yet. (Ever the pessimist!)

Our relatively light snowfall - February was a record breaker with only 2 cm - has meant that Montreal's (in)famous snow-clearing crews have been mostly absent from our streets and sidewalks. This is a good thing. Recent winters were quite unkind. 2009 was an annus horribilis for them, as evidenced most brutally by the no less than 3 accidental deaths that occurred - on the same day - as a result of an unfortunate meeting between large snow removal equipment and pedestrians. See these news links for more:



Otherwise, playing a crucial support role in our annual plow n' haul ritual are these wee little sidewalk clearing bulldozers:

Don't be fooled by their size. They are terrifying. As that blur of movement suggests, these things whip down narrow walks with a reckless, take-no-prisoners abandon. Many of the drivers I've seen look about 18 and jacked up on RedBull, which explains the joy-ride aspect. If you left your precious bike locked to the front fence or lamp post, consider it mangled. As a child I had an inexplicable fear of trains. Even though we lived about half a mile away from the track, the sound of a distant train whistle would have me running for cover. This is my new train. In the peace and quiet of softly falling snow at night, there is nothing more terrifying than that unmistakable rev and rumble...

It's getting closer...
It's turning the corner...
It's heading straight for you...
It's in your house!!

Anybody remember this long-forgotten B-horror movie?:

Meanwhile, here's a little taste of how people in other, less snow-seasoned areas are coping with this year's blasts:

in Baltimore, Maryland

in London

And finally, here's a nifty little site that is chock-a-block with pics and fun facts about winter in Montreal.

Land of Snow