Wear Test Wednesday: The Polar V800 Update

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Polar has made some significant updates to the V800 over the last few months. The biggest update happened last week so I decided to get on board right away and start testing it out.

I had anticipated that Polar would be including in their update a direct link to Strava. I am addicted to Strava. Admittedly the Polar Flow app is much better for analyzing your data and getting a better picture of your interval splits and heart rate. However, after I’m finished geeking out about my splits, I upload my file to Strava so I can populate the online leaderboards and seeing how many strava segments I can win. Before I go on about the fun updates Polar did make, I’m going to show you how you can upload your data to Strava from the Polar Flow app.

Step 1. Link you workout from your watch to Polar Flow (done via the Polar charger or the Iphone app) This is easily done via the watch by pressing the bottom left side button down for a second or two until you see it syncing.
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Step 2. Go to the flow.polar.com, to your diary and click on the route you want to upload then EXPORT the file to your desktop.
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Step 3. In your downloads folder, Unzip the file, where you will find a .GPX file
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Step 4. Manually upload this .GPX file in Strava
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Step 5. Give your file a name, and don’t forget to put down which shoe or bike you used for the activity so you can track the mileage. Most important for shoes so you know when to replace them.
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Voila! You now have your Polar run on Strava and all is good in the world again. One update Polar made was regarding a small glitch in the watch, where on 3rd party applications, it would show I ran at 3am. This glitch has now been fixed and if I’m running with my friends, we now link up on our apps.

Apart from a few minor tweaks, Polar did make a very interesting notification update. Make sure you plug your V800 into your computer and connect with Flowsync to first ensure you have the latest update on your watch. After the update is complete you enable notification in the general settings on your watch. Turn on the Bluetooth on your iPhone and re-sync your watch to the polar app. Once the watch has been synced to your Iphone (android coming soon), your twitter, facebook, email and any other notifications you want to add will go directly to your watch.

I will admit, hearing about this feature frightened me. As someone who is an uber user of social media, I feared this feature would make me even that much more connected. I decided to put this to the test. I set up my iphone so that only the notifications I really wanted would go to my watch. This was actually a good exercise in clearing off some notifications that I really didn’t want anyway, hence saving some battery life on my phone. Since I brought up battery life, a warning. In order for this feature to work, you have to have your Bluetooth turned on at all times on your iphone. This will drain your battery both on your phone and your watch faster. In my 5-day experiment, I didn’t notice a huge difference, and that was probably because I did end up turning off quite a lot of unnecessary notifications.

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Facebook chat notification

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and email are all now streaming to my watch and so far I’m not annoyed. As someone who belongs to three very active ongoing Facebook chats, my phone is constantly buzzing, bleeping and ringing. Now with the watch notification, I can quickly glance down and decide what to respond to immediately or what can wait. My verdict? The Polar watch notifications may actually keep my head up while staying better engaged with my environment rather down facedown in my phone.

Further into the feature, you can set you’re own “sleep mode” so the notifications don’t keep you up while you’re trying to get some shut-eye. The notifications are also automatically disengaged, once you put the watch into sport mode so you can focus and enjoy whatever activity you’re doing. The feature also allows you to answer a call or send it to voice mail. I figure this is pretty handy especially when you’re driving.

Overall, I’m happy with the update and impressed with how easy and fast it installed on my device. For those of your who own or are thinking of getting the M400 watch, this feature will be available to you in the very near future, so stay tuned!

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Motivation Monday: Inspired by Acts of Kindness

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The past week I was a grumpy runner. This happens from time to time. There isn’t a reason for it. It’s like any relationship in your life, you are always in love, but sometimes you just need some space. That was the kind of week I was having. I just needed some space.

When I feel this way, my first instinct is to hit the trails. There is something magical about nature that rejuvenates you mentally and physically. You can find your inner child and fall “in love” again.

 

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At the Start2Finish fundraiser setting off our lanterns

 

The week started in a funk, but ended with so much inspiration and motivation that it would take a novel to describe it all. Friday was a busy day and I was exhausted. I had a fundraiser for Start2Finish to go to and I was really excited. I got to meet most of the directors of this program and learn more about the ways in which they support underprivileged children across Canada. I‘ve been interested in this program for a while now and after spending an evening learning more about it, I’m convinced this is the program I want to volunteer for. Having a program like Start2Finish that tries to change the trajectory of a child’s life and give them a chance to break the cycle of poverty is why I’m so proud to be Canadian. It’s a program set on helping those in our very own backyard. So many people forget that poverty exists here in Toronto and all over the GTA. Our kids need help. Through reading and running they learn basic skills, goal setting and get healthy. Where they go and what they end up doing is really up to them and how big they want to dream.

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All the Super Heroes

Next up on the weekend of fundraising. Running my first race in costume. I wasn’t trying to break any records. It was a time to run with the rest of the Justice League runners and raise awareness for SickKids hospital. It was fun, pure fun. I couldn’t stop smiling and by the end of the race, I was more exhausted from the ear to ear smiling than I was from running a 10km. Seeing the kids, was amazing, but it was the parents who I feel really appreciated what we were doing. They thanked us and took so many pictures. It was great spending 10km with a group of people who all had one common goal. To help give kids better healthcare and in some cases a second chance at life.

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By Sunday afternoon I was overwhelmed with how much good is happening in this city. I felt so privileged to be part of a community who really gives back to the world. Running is just a catalyst for bringing people together to create awareness and be able show support for so many different causes. It was a great weekend and one I will never forget. By Sunday my frown was turned upside down, rejuvenated by the support of my fellow amazing superheroes.

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PS – A huge thank you and shoutout to everyone at Canadian Running Series and for their support and generosity. They helped the Justice League Runners help SickKids and we are forever grateful for that. 

 

Motivation Monday: Try Something New

IMG_3301This weekend I had a few choices and one of those choices was to do a bike race. Since I’ve been racing almost every weekend since late January, I decided, a start and finish line was not something I needed to see this weekend. After a long and windy week, where it seemed everyone locked the doors and stayed inside, I was getting cabin fever. A much needed group hug was in order.

A group of us as most have come to know as the Raccoons, run together, a lot. Now with spring in full force we remembered we all (well except for one) like to ride bikes as well. Forming our main plan for our Saturday ride, we had to coerces Peter Lawless just a little bit and convince him this was going to be fun. 4 hours on a bike to most people doesn’t sound like an ideal morning, but to us, it’s absolutely perfect. One problem, Peter didn’t have a bike, but I have a more than enough so it seems. One-by-one, the clan gathered inside my 400 Sq foot apartment. Cycling shorts were flying around, tools were being handed off and bike’s kept piling up on my front porch. It was starting to look like a courier party.

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How many runners does it take to get pedals off a bike? Well if you’re us, it’s four. The morning slipped into the afternoon and we were off on our first Raccoon ride from Toronto to Oakville and back route. This would be almost everyone’s first ride of the season and longest ride ever. Crazy? Absolutely.

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The Boys liked the croissants from Cobbs the best!

We made it to Port Credit all members in tact. Peter’s dislike for cycling went up the scale to “this isn’t entirely awful.” With another 20km to go, we pedalled onward and into the sunshine. Arriving in Oakville butts a little sore, faces only lightly wind burned, the boys got food the girls got instagramming. This is just how we roll folks.

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We need to connect!

The ride back was just as fun, and once we all safely arrived back at the courier condo, Peter said, “That was an amazing fun day.” Conversion success! I was so proud of rag tag group, completing 80km in one go and not a single complaint was uttered.

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Paris to Ancaster Ambassadorsat your service!

The next morning, I got to make my TV debut and for a short 5 minutes a few of the Justice League Runners were featured on CP24. I stood beside Batman, happy to see his vision coming true and creating something amazing for SickKids. His excitement about this project is inspiring and I’m happy I get to be a part of it.

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The past week, I was cranky and moody. In my head, I was tired of talking about running. I was concerned for my friend Clare who was possibly injured; I’m definitely a sympathetic stressor. I was having a war with society about the choices I make, and the lifestyle I’ve chosen to live. By the end of the weekend, I’d decided, I will not apologize for my choices. The people I get to share this life with, all inspire me and it’s that inspiration that helped guide me to my happiness. I didn’t get here all by myself I had lots of help. This week a big grey cloud hung over my head and the people in my life reminded me, it’s okay to happily exist in your own world, blazing new trails.

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My Interview with Batman

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A couple of years ago on twitter I befriended a guy by the name of the Dark Knight Runner. He was a guy who appeared to run in costume with a few others who called themselves the Justice League Runners. I will admit, at first I thought, “okay this is a little strange”.

As the 2014 Yonge Street 10km approached, I learned what this Dark Knight Runner was actually doing. He was running to raise money for SickKids. Strange, turned into “okay that’s really cool”. When I saw the superheroes in action, it was so inspiring. The smiles they brought to kids faces and all the money they raised for the hospital was more than just a bunch of runners in costume. I thought how amazing it was to take something your passionate about, like running, and mix it with something a kid can identify with giving the community something really powerful.

In my experience I generally see people who choose to run in costume doing it for somewhat selfish reasons, usually to break a world record. It’s not often I see people putting in this much effort to run in very elaborate costumes to raise money for a good cause.

Somehow over the 42.2 km at the 2014 Toronto Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon, running with my friend Jean-Paul we started talking about this Justice League of runners and what we could do to help out. Naturally the idea of a dynamic trio came to mind and before we crossed the finish line it was decided Jean-Paul would be Robin and I would take my position alongside the dynamic duo as Batgirl.

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Batgirl has arrived.

It’s now just over one week away from the Yonge Street 10km race and a Batgirl costume was delivered to my doorstep. The strange, went to cool and has ended with me proudly joining the Justice League Runners. Since this is my very first time running in costume, I decided I would interview the Dark Knight Runner and learn more about how all this came to be.

  1. When did you first decide to run as a super hero?

I first decided to run as a super hero in early 2013; this was before I even decided on Batman. I mentally felt ready to train for a marathon for later that year, but didn’t want the added pressure for my first. I wanted it to be special and memorable.

In January of that year, I came across a photo of four window cleaners outside of a Pittsburgh children’s hospital. They were dressed as Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and Captain America. The empty oven that is my head suddenly had a light bulb go off – I knew then I would dress up as a super hero, and instantly knew I would run to raise funds for the SickKids Foundation.

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2. Why specifically SickKids Foundation?

When I was 7 years old, my appendix ruptured. My father drove my mother, my little brother and me to the emergency ward of the Hospital for Sick Kids. The doctors there saved my life; I don’t remember much of the ER but I do remember the agonizing pain. Another thing I do remember to this day is how comfortable they made me feel while I was recuperating. I actually didn’t feel like I missed home; the doctors and nurses truly took care of me without it feeling like a hospital stay. This was even before the hospital’s amazing transformation to what it is now.

2. How did you settle on the character of Batman?

He’s arguably the most human of all comic book heroes. He didn’t come from a dying world, no radioactive spider bite, and not exposed to gamma radiation. The origin of Batman goes back to when Bruce Wayne witnessed his parents murder right before his eyes. His way of coping? Learn to never allow this to happen to anyone else – ever. So, he trained his mind and body to the peak of human perfection to do so. His arsenal, or super power, was simply the will to act.

Though I wanted to raise funds as a way of saying thank you for saving my life, I also got to learn about the children who are there now, and let me tell you that the pain of running 42.2k is NOT as painful as watching a baby, all of six months old, with tubes up his nose, crying because of the pain – and then realizing this is all he has known his short life. It’s not fair – it’s not fair that a child (any child) should have to go through this. And as a parent, I can only begin to imagine their pain and what they must feel – that they would gladly trade places with their children if it meant their survival (I know I would face a firing squad to protect my kids).

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Team Sophie is just one of the reason The Dark Knight runner continues to do this.

3. What has been the response you’ve gotten from the general community and the running community?

The 2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront marathon, as mentioned, was my first. I will never forget the lead-up to the race – all the intense training I did, but always telling myself that I wanted to run the route with a smile, wave hi to the kids and just generally thank the spectators for coming out. I wasn’t expecting much – I got a whole lot more instead. Originally, I set a simple goal of $500; I had to raise it two more times because I exceeded it twice over! The support was totally a surprise.

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Post-STWM 2013, I didn’t think to look beyond dressing up as Batman again. Then, I had a Twitter follower suggest a team be put together to do races as heroes every chance we get. I didn’t believe it, but then the idea caught on with other followers, and before I knew it someone created the page for the Justice League Runners. Suddenly, Batman was in demand to be at different races! I am still surprised by the attention. I’ve run dressed up in nearly 10 runs – 2 marathons, a 30k, one 1/2, a couple of 5k races and (soon-to-be) two 10k races.

The fact that there are people who reach out to me on social media and say, “I want to join you and help” is so overwhelming and wonderful. The Justice League Runners has nearly doubled in size since it’s first team at the 2014 TYS10K, which is why in October the team may have a chance to make history as we will try to run the fastest marathon completed by a group dressed as superheroes at STWM. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to do this when I became a runner, but it fulfills a childhood dream – I once told my parents at the age of 6 that I would be in the Justice League #dontstopbelieving

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4. How can others help out?

For those who want to help, our donation page is:
https://www.sickkidsdonations.com/registrant/Donate.aspx?eventid=168645&langpref=en-CA&Referrer=https%3a%2f%2fwww.google.ca%2f
We’re on Facebook and Twitter so please follow us as we continue to expand our community. Also you can meet the rest of the Justice League Runners.
www.facebook.com/justiceleaguerunners
twitter.com/jlr_toronto

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This Sunday on CP24 the Justice League Runners will be interviewed about their fundraising initiatives. Tune in at 8:30 am Sunday morning to see a few of the super heroes’ who will be out running on April 19th at the Yonge Street 10km. Space is still available if you want to come out and run with us. Sign up here!

Motivation Monday: 5 days – 2 races

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The Loop

5 Days post Around the Bay I had another race on the schedule. Let me state for the record that I do not condone racing every weekend. This is a practice that I do not recommend to anyone unless under the guidance of a great coach. My coach has a method to his madness. My coach also has come to trust that I’m the kind of student who knows when to race and when to run. ATB was a race, it didn’t go as perfectly planned, but I raced, meaning, I would only see another poor result if I attempted to race again the following weekend. 5 days later, I ran the Good Friday Road Race in Burlington. It was a 10mile race and given the course, the timing and the distance, my goal was to run a hard effort (similar to a long tempo run) to get familiar with the feel of the road again.

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Racing on a Friday morning is definitely a weird feeling. I can honestly say I have never raced on a Friday morning. Racing an 8km loop is also not the most fun a person can have. I hate loops. This is what happens in my head. 4 km into loop one, I have told myself that when I cross the first loop line, I will DNF and have enough data from the 8km to call it a successful day. Once I’ve decided this is what I’m going to do I feel better. Once I cross the threshold and begin loop number 2, I feel that quitting is poor form and I should just keep going. I somehow am able to get all system back on board for the second loop most now being familiar with the loop and knowing what to expect. This particular course is really non-stop hills and my glutes actually started to shut down around 9km to 11km into the race. Guess who has to hit the gym for some lunges this week?

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The Elevation

The weather was nice, and being able to run in shorts and a tank top was a big plus of the day. I didn’t PB, but once again that wasn’t the plan. My fitness is slowly creeping up to the place I’m used it to it being. It’s small increments, but I’m totally okay with this. I would rather run injury free having small victories, than huge blow out fireworks and be sidelined afterwards. This is working for me and I’m feeling very good about the physical training as well as the mental training. With a few weeks off of any serious racing, I have some time to focus on the season end goal and get started on training for the World Masters Track and Field in August.

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Since I’m really one month behind the rest of the field for my next race, I’m not setting myself up for anything really tremendous. It will be just another stepping stone towards a much bigger and long-term goal. Speed!

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The Finisher Medal

Steaming Nostril Race Report by Steve Shikaze

My resident Bike Expert Steve Shikaze shares his review of this years Steaming Nostril event. From a glance it looks like Waterloo Cycling Club has had a great start to the 2015 race season.

The Steaming Nostril Race Report – By Steve Shikaze

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In just its third year, the Steaming Nostril bike race is becoming recognized as a “Spring Classic”, along with the likes of Paris to Ancaster. For the previous two years, the Steaming Nostril started in Elmira, Ontario, but in 2015, the race started and finished in the village of St. Jacobs, just north of Waterloo. The race featured some of the best gravel and paved roads in the region and there were two options available: the longer 70km Steaming Nostril, and the shorter 40km Runny Nose. Those of us who call the Region of Waterloo home are fortunate that we have great cycling events like the Steaming Nostril, which is organized by Cycle Waterloo, who also hosts road cycling events in the region, including the KW Classic, Tour de Waterloo, and the new KW Criterium in downtown Kitchener.

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I entered the inaugural Steaming Nostril in 2013, which included approximately 7 km of rail trail that was hard packed snow in the morning at the beginning of the race. However, on the return to the finish, the warmth of the sun turned this same trail to a combination of slush and mud that made riding very difficult and slow. In 2014, the temperature at the start of the race was about -20C (too cold for me!).   This year, the weather seemed ideal for a March bike race: sunny and a few degrees above zero. Despite the fact that I didn’t have many miles in my legs over the winter, I wanted to enter this event in 2015. I have led weekend club rides on the gravel roads in the area for a few years now, so I knew the route well. Looking at the wind direction, I knew we’d be battling some head wind and cross wind sections on the course, but I was hoping for a tail wind for much of the second half.

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The day before the race, a group of us pre-rode part of the course, including the 2-3 km mill run trail into St. Jacobs at the end of the race course. Conditions of the trail varied to hard packed gravel, to snow, to solid ice, and I was concerned that in the race the next day, the ice would be dangerous. However, after talking to the race organizers, I was assured that they were sending out a crew that afternoon to chip away at the ice and add worst parts of that trail.

On race day, I started near the middle of the second of two waves for the 70km distance. After a neutral start through some paved roads in St Jacobs, we hit a gravel road as one big group. Gradually, the pace at the front picked up, and I realized that if I tried to stay with the group much longer, I’d blow up. So I eased off and rode with a smaller group. The first part of the race was towards the west, and with a south wind, we battled a cross wind until we turned straight into the wind. My small group seemed to moving at a snail’s pace, but I didn’t want to ride on my own into that strong headwind. There was a mixture of tail and cross wind as we turned west and south until about the half-way point, when we had a strong tail wind. By this time, I was riding with two other riders effortlessly, trading pulls and passing other riders. This didn’t last long, as we soon turned back east and had to deal with that strong cross wind again. After a couple of turns, we hit the rest stop at about the 50 km point and my two fellow riders wanted to stop for a break. I was feeling pretty strong, so I kept going. I was caught by a member of my cycling club, and we rode together for a while until I couldn’t keep up any longer, having run out of energy. The last 10km was a mixture of mud and ice along some farmer’s roads and the mill run trail into St. Jacobs.

After a couple of quick turns in the village, we had a wooden staircase to climb before the finish. There were 69 steps (yes, I counted) followed by a few hundred metres across a soft and slow grassy field until the finish line. I finished with a time of just over three hours, about an hour after the winner, my friend and work colleague Gaelen Merritt.

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The Waterloo Cycling Club was well represented in this fantastic local event, with over 30 members entered in the race, and several category wins and podiums. Big kudos to my friends at Cycle Waterloo, who have grown this event to over 300 riders this year, and the army of volunteers, many of whom are cycling friends of mine with the WCC!

Bio: Steve Shikazeheadshot2
Steve has been an active member of the Waterloo Cycling Club (www.waterloocyclingclub.ca) for over a decade. He currently sits as a member of the WCC Trail Committee, which oversees the mountain bike trails at The Hydrocut (www.thehydrocut.ca). He has completed multiple 8 and 24 hour mountain bike relay races, 3-day stage races and many other cycling events, on his mountain, road and cyclocross bikes, and has dabbled in trail running and open-water swimming.

Steve and I are ambassadors for the Paris to Ancaster 2015 race. If you haven’t got yourself signed up there is still room in the 20km and 40km!
Check out Steve’s last blog about how he prepares for this particular race.

Run Discover Your City

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Fall in LOVE with your city all over again.

After a long weekend of Expo’s and racing you feel a little overwhelmed, tired and maybe a little tired of running in general. Then an email shows up in my inbox and it’s my coach telling me to run for one hour on Monday as recovery. One hour! No distance or pace expected, just simply run for one hour.

I finished work and put on my run clothes and headed for my usual stomping ground: the Martin Goodman Trail. Once I got there I looked to my right and the idea of going the same route made me dread this one-hour run. Looking to the left seemed more appealing. I never run east and decided that is exactly what I should I do.I started my watch and that was the last time I looked at it. I had an idea I was going to hit the halfway mark around or just past the distillery district.

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The sun was setting behind me and I ran through some of my old neighbourhoods, and revisiting some of my favourite city landmarks. Sure enough I hit the distillery district and I’d been running for 30mins. I found some new art installations inside the marketplace. It’s amazing how quickly areas change and it’s nice to see a city that is thriving with art.

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A love sign filled with love locks

I started to head back for home and decided to weave my way up to queen street in search of lovebots (a secret project I’m working on). I found myself running past a body piercing shop and remembered I needed to get my belly button ring replaced. Since I was just out for an easy run, this seemed like a great time to get this errand done. 2 minutes later I had a belly button ring and I was back on Queen street heading westbound.

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This is definitely a good idea!

I know this might sound crazy, but Monday I fell back in love with running, or rather fell more in love with running. The act of running is something different for everyone. Everyday, running is a new adventure for me. Being able to just run free and enjoy every single step, while re-visiting my very own backyard are definitely my favourite run memories. I highly recommend everyone, take a break from your training, pack your camera and go out and re-connect with your city.

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Exactly 1 hour