Thursday, 17 May 2012

Mother’s Day! – Sporting Life 10K!

Don’t try and click on that Donate button!  It won’t work!

Well hi, Internet.  How was your Mother’s Day?  Did you spend it with your mom, Tipper Gore?  I am certainly glad you dropped by! 

Mother’s Day! Happy day, right?  Well, I dunno.  I have to say, saying “Happy Mother’s Day” to a living person is a shitload better than saying it to a ceramic pot.  That you are not even in the same city as.  When that’s the case, Mother’s Day is just not quite the same.

But today had a run!  In fact the biggest run Toronto has ever had!  25,000 people, so they say! Down Yonge Street! To be honest, when I signed up for the run, I didn’t know it was on Mother’s Day.  But I did know it was supposed to be fast! Downhill! And I did know that this run was one of two 10ks down Yonge street within a month of each other.  Because of a dispute! Something something you organized our race and then you caused the other Toronto marathon to be basically right around the time of our run something something…You can read about it here, if you want.  But the point is, “Sporting Life” is a sporting goods and clothing store in Toronto and for running their race, they were offering $50 gift cards!
Well, what was I gonna do!? Had to sign up! $50 can buy a lot of clothing!

IMG-20120225-00155 Thanks Sporting Life!

Well, for some reason, offering a gift certificate that basically covered the cost of the run was popular around these parts.  So as of the day of the race, there were 25,000 runners.  So they said, although a day before on their website they said they capped the runners at 23,000.  But whatever! Who cares! Lots of runners!

Plus! It's to benefit Camp Oochigeas, a camp for kids with cancer!  Hey I hate cancer! And love kids! So all the more reason! Who was Oochigeas, you ask?  Well let Roch Voisine tell you all about that First Nations lassie!  For some reason this isn't the Camp Oochigeas theme song.  Or maybe it is, they just keep it on the down low! I dunno.

Wednesday! Go to pick up my race kit! With the boys!  “Guys, can you stop wrestling for five seconds so daddy can get his race kit?”

“Sure, dad.” (Continue to wrestle.)

When I am picking up my race kit, this woman comes up and gives me this sticker with a “Nike” logo on it and the words “Never. Stop. ________”.  And she says hey fill in the blank, then pin this on the back of your shirt while running (to inspire others! I am told) and then stick it to some wall they will have set up.

“Great. Thanks.”  That’s what I said.  ‘Cause I am a polite dude.  But I had no intention to wear this sticker while I ran.  Just seemed like such an obvious attempt by a corporation to co-opt personal goodwill to promote themselves.  Blech.  Right? Plus I am not really the type to call a lot attention to myself while I am running.  Just not that kind of guy I guess.  Probably afraid people will laugh at ole’ JJ.  “Nerd!” 

Then we went on our merry way!  And the race kit?  Eh, it’s ok.  Some Werther’s “mint” caramels…kinda weird.  Never heard of those.  (Took them to work and put them out by reception.  Somebody ate them. So I guess they weren’t too bad? Maybe? Chocolate and peanut butter-ish?)  And the shirt?  Well it’s Nike, but Nike makes a pretty broad range of quality of shirts.  This shirt? Not their finest.  Which is fine! I’m  not complaining! They had to make 20,000 of them!

Want a pic of the fab kit?


Isn’t it fabulous!? They gave me some kinda granola/chocolate snack too!  I gave it to the boys, because they were complaining about being hungry. They had a bite each.  “Here you go, dad…”  I don’t blame them.  Pretty oockie stuff.

Sunday morning.  Race day.  Mother’s Day. Third one with no mom.  Only clouds in the sky.  Light drizzling rain.  Ugh.  And two nights before I had spent two hours on the phone talking with the husband of my late friend Charlotte.  Six months ago she passed away from...yep breast cancer.  Same as my mom.  A great conversation, remembering an incredible person, but heartbreakingly sad.

And now I have a race to do.  And who gives a shit.  Man, that’s not the right attitude for a race morning, I am pretty sure.

The Nike Sticker I have been invited to wear on my run.  Never.  Stop….It hits me.  Maybe I’ll make an exception on sign wearing for this race.  Of course I have no Sharpie and terrible handwriting but I take care with my ballpoint pen and write my word, then trace over the letters to try to make it both thick enough and legible enough to read.

Then on my bike to ride uphill through the drizzle to the starting line. 

After she graduated high school, for reasons I am not sure of, my mom went off with a friend to work in Jasper at Jasper Park Lodge for the summer.  While there, she met a guy.  A particularly charismatic individual.  Robert “Bob” Anderson.  Bob had just finished his first year at the University of New Brunswick.  The two became great friends.  Throughout the summer Bob told my mom, “Morag (yes, that was my mom's name. Scottish!), you should attend UNB!  There is a great friend of mine there that I think would be perfect for you!” 

Well I suspect that the fact Bob went there was more of the pull than this mystery guy, but my mom ultimately decided to take the plunge, move away from Pembroke and head to New Brunswick.  The mystery guy Bob was talking about?  Bill Johns.  My dad.  The three of them met, meaning my mom, my dad and his corvette, and the rest is history. Ha ha. Just kidding, mom.

Bob later moved to San Francisco and worked for the now defunct airline “TWA”.  He was also gay.  Which I mention for no other reason that later he came to visit my parents when we were living in Winnipeg when all three of us kids were very young.  During which he apparently propositioned my dad.  To which my dad responded…negatively.  Threatened to bop him in the nose or something.  Different time I guess.  I mean, he shoulda been flattered more than anything!  I feel like, anyways!

Bob passed quite  long time ago.  From AIDS, as I understand it.  Which seems almost too stereotypical or something but that’s what I remember.  And there’s nobody left to ask, so there you go.

The starting line!  Lock up my bike and walk up the million block starting corral to the bag drop off.  Still a little early so I sit myself down on the curb and look sad for a while.  Very inspiring, I am sure.  Then its time to drop off my bag and head all the way back to the “yellow” section of the corral.

Trudge trudge trudge.  Well maybe not that sad sacky…but not good.

After graduation from UNB, my mom and dad moved to Hogtown, TO! They lived here when they were married.  My parent’s wedding certificate identifies my mother as living in an apartment Bathurst Street near Bloor.  I have friends that live off of that very corner!  Same apartment building….?  Could be!  And the Horseshoe Tavern on Queen!  One of my fave drinking holes! Been there since 1947! My mom and dad must have gone, right?  And it’s long gone now, but there was a painting someone had done of my mom and her friends as beatniks…in Toronto. 

I treasure so much the time I had with my parents after I reached the point where I could relate to them as an adult.  And talk to them about their experiences when they were young.  But that time was way too short.  Way too short.
mom in to2 Wild and crazy! Like a scene from Mad Men!

The starting gun! Let's go go go!  Despite the fact that this is the biggest race in Toronto’s history, participant wise, its actually not that congested.  I guess because it covers all of Yonge Street?  And its nice to be running!  No thinking!  And its downhill! Yikes! It’s really downhill!  Now I see what they mean when they say its downhill!

My mom used to sing a song to me.  Only for me.  “Jeff-e-ry, Jeff-e-ry, my fat hen…”  I loved it.  Then, as I got older, hated it. “Aww, mom….”  Now?   What I wouldn’t give to hear it one last time.

10K!  Going fast!  4K down!  Take a gel!  Don’t even stop running as I take it!  No time!  Surrounded by so many speedy folks!

I guess she started to notice digestion problems while my dad was still alive but in the home where he ultimately passed away.  But she didn’t go to have it checked out. After my dad died, she eventually did mention it to my brother and myself.  But downplayed it.  We urged her to get it checked out.  She delayed.  I think she suspected that it was serious.  But everytime someone gets diagnosed with something in my family…seems like its curtains.  So I think she just didn’t want to know.  Until it got too bad.  She couldn’t eat without throwing everything up.  So Greg and I took her in.  And it was bad.  Breast cancer.  Metastasized into a large tumour on her intestine.  Terminal.  They thought there was a chance surgery could buy her some time.  She agreed.  When she came out she didn’t awake.  Her kidneys stopped working. A few days later, she was gone.  My mom was gone.  The one who felt my forehead to see if I had a fever, the one who bandaged my skinned knees, was gone.

In the last few months of her life, despite how she was feeling, twice a week she would pick up the G-man from school and watch him until Janelle arrived home.  She loved both Gabe and Emmett so much and I am so glad that they got to know her, if even just for a little while.  And that she got to know them.

7K!  Another gel on the run!  Down Richmond then Front to Fort York!  Go Go Go!  Last K! And done!  What do you know?  A personal record. 42.19 chip time.  Crazy.  Running downhill really DOES make a difference!  You can watch me finish here, if you like.  And if you do, don’t worry, it only appears like I am having a stroke.  I am actually ok.

Get some chocolate milk and a banana and its time to head to the subway to go back uptown to get my bike.  All done.


Never ever ever.  Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.


  1. Great, now you made me cry! F***! Now I have to turn it off and take L. to dance class....Despite this I think that this is one of your best posts yet!


    1. Thanks E. I know I was lucky to have her around as long as I did.

  2. Agreed. I especially liked that you kept us hanging 'til the end on "Never. Stop. ___." Very touching.