Where’s my Bikini?

There is a big ball of brightness up in the sky. If I look up, my breath fogs my sunglasses and I can’t see, but I feel this strange sensation hitting my hurting, pink cheeks.

Heat. Warmth.

I am standing outside this morning, soaking up the sun, even though it is -26 Celcius with the wind chill, and I realize I must look like a lunatic. So I quickly levelled my gaze, and lo and behold, about a billion people in the area where I was were doing the exact same thing (most on a smoke break, but I digress). We are all sun-worshipping in down parkas, toques and Sorel boots.

For anyone who lives in warmer climes, it might look a tad ridiculous. For us, it is just another mid-Winter day in Ottawa.

Depiste the normalcy of cold temperatures and a lack of sunlight, tt has been a brutal, brutal winter here. I have not been running. At all. Nor gymming it. Nada. Just getting through the day is an accomplishment at the moment, and I am happy if I have energy at the end of the day to do something other than sit on the couch and stare blankly at my husband, who is staring blankly back. I feel so unproductive and behind on #allthethings.

$&^*, Spring had better get here soon. I’m not sure how much more blank staring can happen before one of us snaps.

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Bumpin’ Rum Bussin’ Hijinks

Happy Hump Day!

I almost added rum to my coffee this morning, when in a flash of absolute brilliance, I switched my 1% milk with some of the eggnog I brought home last night.

Oh yes… I was poised at the liquor cabinet. But I relented because well… That would really be irresponsible of me to put rum into my coffee. I mean come on, that would be wrong, right? To get on the bus, tempt folks with the heady rum-coffee aroma as I languorously open the top to breathe in the deliciousness… And not share.

Sharing is caring, everyone. So next time you want to bring a paper bag-disguised mickey of Jack Daniels onto your morning express downtown, remember that, k? (I kid you not, this happens from time to time)

I did not get much sleep last night, for various reasons (one of which I must remember to get decaf at Tim Horton’s  when I do evening coffee. What do they do to their grounds? not even espresso from Starbucks gets me that jittery). I have one eye that is puffed out like a prizefighter, my sinuses are slowly hardening into concrete, and my hip is hurting like a *^&%er. I was the picture of serene, rested, luminous beauty this morning (oh how I wish there was a sarcasm punctuation mark…).

In all seriousness, flirting with my Secret Pretend Bus Boyfriend was out of the question. Besides, I was really tired, had not even swiped on mascara (see puffy eye mention), and didn’t want to scare him. I left my sunglasses on (yes I am aware it was overcast and not one iota of sun was peeking through) and hid, thumbing through my phone, sipping my coffee and clutching my backpack to my lap for fear it touch the disgusting bus floor.

So basically I looked like an OCD, repentant cougar with a killer hangover. Super. All I need now is a Leopard-print Dr. Zhivago winter hat and I am ready to pounce. Meow? *sneeze*

Le Nordik saunas and whirlpools on Friday cannot come soon enough (Screw Calgon, I want Aufguss).

Walking in the snow on the sidewalks the past two days, in boots I really need to replace, has had a toll on yon IT Band across my hip. So yeah, I have been stretching, slowly doing some cubicle squats, and avoiding the gym because I really need to be healthy to start training in January for my race goal in April (OMGWTFBBQ… four months from now!). I’m also realizing that I just need to get through this month with sanity (hence Le Nordik being a necessity). Husband is stressed, I am stressed, the kids are overly- excited about Christmas and my son asks every damned day if tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I am still able to answer him civilly, so I’m not strung too tight yet. That is the barometer. If I snap, you know the stress got to me. If I am still able to say “No, sweetness-of-my-life, it is in two weeks” without twitching, I am ok.

Get back to me about that on Friday around noon… I may have a different answer. Wear armour. Bring chocolate. Be nice if I ask for a cuddle.

We may need to get some of these.

With the forecast showing us more snow, I am considering if the expense of yaktraks is warranted before I get paid next week, or if I should lump it, and ask for them to be my Christmas gift from my husband (I know… How romantic are rubber and spikes that you strap to your… Oh… Wait… Don’t answer that…). I am doing Bambi on Ice interpretive dance on the sidewalks the past three days (soft tissue injury, here I come!). With my red toque, and green backpack, I am sure someone is going to ask me if I am an elf from some Santa figure skating show. Seriously. I just need the pointy ear thingys. Think I can borrow Channing Tatum’s? (http://www.newnownext.com/channing-tatum-is-a-sexy-blond-um-elf-in-jupiter-rising-trailer-watch/12/2013/)

But its not just me that is sliding about. If we get much more snow in December, our poor OCTranspo busses will be the ones driving way more carefullydoing Bambi impressions, because their normal balding summer slicks slide in this greasy, slippy stuff. Like on Monday when my bus driver couldn’t stop in time and slammed face-first into the back of the bus in front of us, when we were downtown. A few folks fell over, a few bumped body parts. I had just sat down at the front of the bus. I was lucky.

I walked the rest of the way to work, doing Sidewalk Ballet, and by the time I got to work, I was exhausted. I think my hip likely said “Ohhh no, sweetling. We don’t do that anymore, see?” and called their union rep, because ow.

I could’ve used a shot of rum after that to calm the nerves, let me tell you. Too bad there wasn’t any to be had.

Morning Cold

There was no hot water in the showers at the gym this morning.

Random shrieks and unladylike words could be heard as I walked back to the change rooms, and there were hordes of women huddled in the sauna drying off, all impersonating wet, pissed off cats. I found it humorous until it was my turn to stand under the freezing, wet dribble coming from the shower head.

If I had wanted a cold shower, I would have stayed home and showered after my husband. *&^% it was cold. Not in a refreshing way at all. In a “Winter is coming” Stark family, miserable kind of way.

I did manage to bear the iciness to wash my hair and rinse off, and then I too huddled in the sauna with my fellow sufferers, making polite conversation while we all thawed our stiff, numb fingers enough to comb through our matted, frozen hair.

It was a steam sauna in there, with so many people coming in wet and shivering.

I mentioned it to the staff downstairs, and they did the eye-roll, “Yes, slave, we’ll look into it” thing. Have I mentioned that I loathe the fact that this gym chain is the ONLY ONE NEAR MY WORK that I can afford? *grump-bitch-moan* I am hoping the walk from this gym to my work, come winter, won’t suck, but I am not holding my breath. Sparks St. has a wind that whips down it that is really nasty in the winter. Imma gonna need some mukluks and a ski mask. It will be worth it for towel service, cardio machines that work, and a locker door that closes properly.

You know, luxuries like that. *snark*

Despite the apres-workout nastiness of a morning alternative to coffee, I did have a good workout. I am two cycles into my New Rules of Weightlifting (http://www.amazon.ca/The-New-Rules-Lifting-Women/dp/1583333398) stage 1 workouts. There are two workouts in stage 1 that you alternate 2 to 3 times per week, A and B. The A workout is exhausting, but doable, and the B workout is really intense. Usually, by the time I walk from the gym to my work (about 1.5k) I am ready to sit for awhile and drink my bladder-busting sized coffee (read: NOT a morning person).

How do I know this routine is kicking my *&^? By the time I am ready to walk to the bus to go home, I am hobbly and stiff. Likely from sitting at my desk for extended periods, and also because my body is still getting used to being active again, now that I am no longer injured, and it is freaking out.

Don’t even talk to me about DOMS the next day. Oh Lord, getting out of bed sucks, and sitting down or putting socks on makes me utter a sound like a 3rd grader playing a violin for the first time.

These are short, intense workouts, and even though I feel like I am doing less, I feel it more. Ow. I do add in extras at the beginning and end of the workouts, for warm up, and my physio stuff at the end. Sometimes cardio too, if I have time. It feels great to get back to it, to be honest. I would love to do three workouts a week, but getting to the gym on the weekend is difficult, and going two days in a row would kill me, I think.

Well, maybe I wouldn’t literally die, but I’d be ridiculously grumpy when moving at all would cause pain.

I am hoping to get back to Solefit in the next week or so to test out new shoes, and then, I am starting back to running (beginner 1:1’s) at lunch, on non-workout days, which will help. I am looking forward to winter running again. I loved it last year.

I have a goal of March to see how this program does for me to gain some strength, and hopefully some muscle definition, or the start of it. I would love to lose some inches and fat, but I am not going to get disappointed if it takes a long time. I am keeping my eye on the Strong prize.

Rawrr! ♥

Perspective

You know that thing that happens sometimes when you are overwhelmed? that thing where you go into some sort of quasi-survival mode, and simply get through the day with the least amount of distraction in the form of hobbies and fun?

Yup. That.

My days are blurring together, and the energy level I have at the end wouldn’t even power a toaster. Has anyone seen my clone? She went on strike, and hasn’t come back. I really need clean socks and a massage.

Seriously though. I feel so busy since my son started back to school that everything other than eating, working, parenting, and sleeping (or not sleeping at all… Damn you insomnia) take precedence. Also? Distraction is in the form of binge watching Netflix streams before trying to doze off. Perhaps that is part of the insomnia… Who knows.

My current obsession interest is a show about this tiny town that is literally awash in ridiculously beautiful people who are rich, 20-something, functionally alcoholic vampires. Their houses are expensive and massive, they never have to do laundry, or shop for their amazing wardrobes. Being tossed into various crazy situations doesn’t even smudge mascara.

I know, right?

I want to live there, because obviously they have magic houses that are always full of groceries and clean themselves. blood stains always come out of expensive Persian rugs. I think that it might be more of a fantasy to live there, rather than having the main sexy, vampire that broods about the screen pop up and whisk me away somewhere exotic and remote to have their way with me… where there are no children screaming, decisions to make, or carpets to vaccuum. (Yes, dear, I know. I already have a list in case this ever happens in real life. I will not forget extra socks for you while we pack, I promise.)

However. Perspective. That is TV-Magic-land, where everyone is perfect, life always has some form of HEA, and no one ever needs to pee. I live in the real world. I still have to sort my colours and whites, and buy milk with $5 left in my bank account before pay day.

I am kind of trying to cut back on my time on Facebook and social media a bit. I need some time to get myself organized up here *points at head* and perhaps this weekend spend some time away from the computer and tablet completely. I think I need it. We have to plant our garlic, I want to start cleaning out some of the baby stuff we don’t need, and spend some time with the kids. Real time, not herding-or-directing time. I need that too.

I just found out a friend I have not seen in a long time had a heart attack. I had no idea until she posted that she was finally home from the hospital. I asked what was wrong, and her son filled me in. Another friend is going in for surgery soon for a serious health condition, and my prayers have been with her and her husband for days and days now. They are part of our family, their stressful time has been weighing on me, and I wish we lived closer to them so we could support them by physically being there to hold hands, cook meals, and hug.

I’m staying away from social media, news, and local Internets because of the deadly bus and train crash that happened here in Ottawa two days ago. I just don’t want to see those pictures, or hear the replay of the 911 calls or dispatch chatter. It is too much, being that I live here, in the city. There is so much coverage, you can’t get away from it, but I am trying to just process and move on without being assaulted by pictures of a wrecked bus, theories, worries, and wrecked lives.

I do want to say that this is tragic, and unbelievable, and I feel so heartbroken for the families affected. We, as a city, are also affected and mourn with you. I mourn, I just choose not to consume vast news speculations and gory rehashing of details. May we all find peace and closure in the days to come.

So I have been absent from my friends, my social world online, and myself a bit too. I haven’t been able to run, or get to the gym, or even think about being active, simply trying to get through the day without ending up in tears on the couch. Gotta keep my &^%$ together, right?

Next week I can try to do more. Tomorrow I can be better. Today I just have to survive.

Perspective.

Downtown is my Playground

I’ve been sitting on a post detailing downtown workouts for quite some time now, and frankly, forgot about it until my workout yesterday. I have this treasure trove of drafted posts that I really need to mine more often. Would you like to hear what I really think of Fifty Shades of Grey?

Didn’t think so. That’s why that particular post has hit the dusty “drafts” bin. Erk.

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Stairs in Major’s Hill Park

Anywho… I did not want to go for a “run” yesterday. I was dreading the aches and pains, I was eyeing the angry black-blue stormclouds, and I was definitely not feeling energetic enough to lace up and go 5k along the river. I was also not keen to run along at a slow enough pace that everyone also running would pass me. Yes, shallow, but there it is.

I wanted to feel powerful and athletic, and knew that with my headspace at that particular moment, I would not. I would feel slow and fat.

Stawp. I know. I’m working on it.

I posted on my weight loss support group that I didn’t want to go, and someone tell me to go *grumble arggg*. More to put it out there that I needed to, so I would, more than needing the responses of “GO!”. Accountability, thou art a beast.

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Zig Zag Path behind the National Art Gallery

I went. (FYI, thank you, ladies.)

I rarely give myself music to listen to anymore, keeping the earbuds out, or listening to an audiobook if it is a longer run. I want to learn to run without it (can’t do Spartans and Tough Mudders with music, y’all), and really, I need the silence sometimes, to zone out and quiet my &^%*ing brain. Today, I plugged into some music. I needed the boost, and chose a Slacker channel with ultra-trendy pop that normally makes me want to bash things, listening to lyrics of teh stoopid. (my apologies to anyone who enjoys top 40 pop. There are some songs I do like, don’t get me wrong, but man…)

As I got going, I started to feel less draggus-buttis, so I decided to go as fast as I could for as long as I could then walk or jog to recover (sprint, medium pace, walk, repeat), then go to Major’s Hill Park and do some stretching for my poor hip, keep it easy, make sure I was taking care of myself. I like hanging out in the park stretching too, and it was a beautiful day to do it. Under my favorite shade tree, people playing, the wind coaxing stories out of the branches above me… Perfect. (edit: My very favorite shade tree was toppled in yesterday’s storm. I stood in the park today, efforting not to cry. I was NOT the only one in this state either.)

Something happened as I ran North on Sussex, though. I started feeling playful. Maybe it was the music that I was listening to… I have no idea where it came from. So when I got to the Saudi Embassy, I veered and ran down the grass terraces beside it to the pathway below, leaping over the wooden dividers as I strode down, repressing the urge to go “RAHHH!” as I bounded. I crossed under the bridge, and then ran along (up and down? it is a hilly bit of road.) Lady Grey drive, finally veering back to Sussex up a bicycle path ramp. I practiced my trail clinic “spin” steps to get up that hill and I was pleased to reach the top NOT stumbling and swearing.

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Stone Benches in Major’s Hill Park
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Alcove between the national Art Gallery and the Canadian Mint. The lightposts are perfect to “weave” through.

Aside: I tell you, learning how to run up hills at that trail running clinic was a friggin’ epiphany. Until I am much, much fitter, this technique is making hills a butt-tonne less intimidating! I may take forever to get up them, but I get up them without killing myself, my quads, or my self-respect! Win!

I was starting to get winded, and my right toes were aching. I was running faster than I normally do, and it was hard work on the pavement. I slowed down and turned through the alleyway between the Gallery and the Mint, and I weaved through the light poles, making my way towards Nepean Point. At the back of the Gallery is a zig-zag peagravel pathway that climbs up the hill towards a strange, crooked needle statue. I ran that too, “spinning”. The gravel was hard to run in, so it was kind of a necessity. *crunch-crunch-crunch-crunch*

Once I descended past the “Giant Iceberg”, I crossed to Major’s Hill Park and sprinted up the hill by the washrooms to the main open area. I stopped my Garmin and Runkeeper, barely able to catch my breath. I had gone less than 2k. For a moment I felt ridiculous for only going that far and feeling so wretched. My God, my cardio has gone to &*%$.

But I recalled the hills, the gravel, and the jumping and such and didn’t feel so bad. I decided to continue around the park for a bit, doing a loop slowly to really feel my footstrike and form, then jumping up and down stairs, stone benches, and hills. I trotted back over to the Gallery when I got bored of that, and decided to end on 10 “sets” of stairs at the amphitheatre, my favorite place to stair climb since it is shaded and steep. Up, down. Up, down. I was waiting for security to come over and banish me (the security at the NAG are not very much fun, I can attest to this) but they never did. A few families negotiating the stairs looked at me funny, and an old man sat on a bench in the alcove watching me open-mouthed. When I passed him afterwards, he muttered something about “dangerous to be runnin like that” and I suppressed a giggle. Hey, it wasn’t long ago that women were told their uterus would fall out if they ran, and it was dangerous for women to do any sport at all!

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National Art Gallery Amphitheatre stairs

Truth!

I did a few of these workouts last summer, and loved them every time. Usually spontaneous, I travel from spot to spot, looking at what is available and simply “playing”. Running obstacle races this Spring reminded me that I need to do more of this kind of thing, not just steady state running, or intervals. I need to jump around, get used to stopping and starting. Taking the trail running clinic really opened my eyes, and now I work on the muscles that let me react to changing terrain, going uphill and downhill with corners, all that crazy stuff.

Where better to do all that than here? The workout was 45 minutes total. I was drenched. I was exhausted. I had, in less than 5k, likely burned more calories than running the loop run. I felt better about myself too.

Clearly I need to do this more often. ♥

Chances

Folks who have been reading my blog for a bit may remember me talking about this guy: https://mustangsabby.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/walker/

I hadn’t seen him in awhile, and now that I am not driving to work, I was somewhat sad about that. he really would give me a smile every day, knowing he was out there, kicking %^$, and I missed that wee, one-sided routine we had. I know it sounds somewhat creepy, fixating on some random dude… Maybe… But those random people in our day to remind us of important things, or give us clarity…

I think that is totally not creepy, and awesome. Anyway… I digress, a little.

Today, I held a door open for him as we crossed paths in the Rideau Centre. I looked up just in time to register that it was him, and my heart just about leapt out of my chest.

I gave him a big smile, and looked waaaaay up (he is freakin’ tall, man!) and said “Good morning!”. I wanted to say “I think you are neat! I have seen you here and there and you are inspiring and awesome!” but that might have made him do the “Go away, tiny, crazy lady!” thing, so I kept it to a greeting.

He is still wearing the expensive brown shoes with the perfect black bows on them. His teeth are perfect and he has a lovely smile. Did I mention he is eleventy billion feet tall?

I was dragging my feet, tired from only 2hrs sleep, and wondering how I was going to get through the dreary, rainy day with sore shins, exhausted brains, and silly/needless worrying about “stuff” in my life. I was not wanting to walk the 1k from the Rideau Centre to my work, my hand sore from carrying my much-too-heavy laptop.

Seeing him has made my day, and my step was much lighter. With Sarah and Dimity chatting away on their latest Another Mother Runner podcast, suddenly the walk got easy.

Thank you, Mr. Walker. ❤

Race Weekend Hangover

20130527-101723.jpgI find it amazing how each time I set out to run at an event, it is a completely different experience than the last one. Each time is fresh and new, with lessons to learn and insights to digest along with my recovery protein. I enjoy this aspect. I hope it never stops. If I do find myself feeling maudlin about doing an event, or gain no new knowledge about myself afterwards… It is a sign I need to shake it up, or take a break.

Always run happy. Take joy in the ability to run and participate.

That said, there is something about the absolute magnitude surrounding Ottawa Race Weekend that can energize even the most jaded of road race participant. The massive hordes of people, the mind-boggling number of triumphs and personal accomplishments, the sheer athleticism and grit, the encouragement from spectators… The celebration of running in this city, and seeing it in a new way as you cover the distance down streets and pathways.

Quite a number of my running friends, sweat sisters, and, well, my support network PRed this past weekend. Some of them completed first races, or ran a race distance for the first time. The excitement and celebration of all these achievements is infectious and I am so very proud of all of them. I have made a lot of friends because of this whole running thing… I love how we can bring it, own it, and shout it out together!

So, y’all who ran and are reading this: Way to go. I hope you wore your medal to work/school/playgroup today!

I ran the 10k (see that medal hung over my cubicle wall? Yep!), and my husband ran the 1/2 marathon, his first. I did not meet my time goal of 70 minutes, but did improve my time from the Manotick Road Race 10k by around a minute.  Hubs met his time goal of sub 2 hr, which I was surprised at, given he’s never run as big a race as this, nor this distance. I was positive for him going in, but was not going to be surprised if he was a bit slower. This was totally new for him. He had under-trained. I crossed my fingers.

He did just fine. He can barely walk today, and I am sure he will feel this for a few days. But I am proud of him. He says he now understands why people run the big 42.2. He casually mentioned he would consider it and I cringed. That is a lot of training, dedication to diet, and time away for long, long runs. We have wee kids and work full time. I don’t even want to think about the severe negotiations for workout time away from the family if he does do one. But you know I will support him if he wants to do it. *sigh*

That aside, we had a great weekend, pizza with some of hub’s friends from his box (Crossfit, yo) on Sunday, and naps all around on both days. We are both feeling accomplished and happy.

So, onto my race recap, right?

This run felt stronger than the last one, and I felt much more energetic during the run. Only had to gel once, at 6.5k (roughly), which was great. No PR on the 5k split, but I was pleased with that, as it indicated I went out slower, listened to myself instead of getting swept up in the flow, and was able to sustain a faster pace for the second half, for periods. I forgot my Garmin at home, so I could not keep track of my average pace, and I ended up picking folks to draft, then moving from them to others as their pace changed. It worked, but I was still a little all over the map.

Note to self: Never forget Garmin again.

This race, I never zoned out. There were too many people, both participants and spectators. From the start to the finish line, I was constantly thinking, looking, dodging, speeding up, passing, or trying to find a place to just run. So my head got busy as I ran, and when I wasn’t singing along to the lyrics from my music (in my head, not out loud), this was what my internal monologue was like (give or take a few swear words):

  • Everyone around me looks like a much more seasoned runner than I am. I feel roly-poly. I can barely see the start line…
  • This corral is packed. Why did I forget my Garmin? Where is my earbud thingy? Oh crap, no Road ID! I. Am. Disorganized. I. Hate. That.
  • I like having someone to chat with at the start. I hope she doesn’t think I am nuts.
  • Run your own race. Run your own race. runyourownrace. Refrain, Sustain, Freight Train! Go easy… Go easy…
  • Step on the chip mat. Don’t trip. Ok, now we can run, right?
  • Get. Out. Of. My. Way! Walkers on the right, people! Did no one explain race etiquette to you? if I have to dodge one more person, or get cut-off one more time…
  • Ooh hey! Elgin St. Diner. haven’t been there in awhile. Mmmm… poutine.
  • Is that Tracey? She wasn’t supposed to be running… No, but that girl’s got slippy pants! I miss my Run Club peoples. Ok, do like at Run Club, you ninny. Relax, breathe, settle down.
  • Of course there is a Ryan Gosling “Hey Girl” cheering sign. *sigh*
  • I hope all these little kids I am high-fiving don’t have colds.
  • If I can keep those pink-shirt ladies in my sights, I am doing ok. *blink* Damn, where’d they go?
  • I have to pee. We’ve only gone a couple kilometres. Great.
  • If you added the total cost of all the running clothing, shoes and gear on everyone running here, right now… Wow. That’s a lot of money. Why do I care? I still have to pee.
  • Hey I want her arm warmers. Rainbows!
  • Why do people insist on running six abreast very slowly, chatting? Get. Out. Of. My. Way.
  • Dude with the walking poles, you are tripping people flailing about like that! I get you are being active, props for doing the race, but why are you in the middle of the road?
  • That is the third person I have seen with a head injury. WTF? Are that many people falling? Did they all get tripped by walking-pole-guy?
  • Wow. That is a lot of green water cups.
  • None of the police men are smiling. Its such an nice evening, everyone is doing amazing things… SMILE DAMN YOU!
  • Why am I doing this again? I’m getting tired. This sucks. Shut up Inner Critic. I hate you.
  • The turnaround! YES! A hill? *^&%. I eat hills. This is nothing. Rarrr!
  • OK, that hill took my lungs away but I passed a billion people who walked up it. Hahahaha! *cough*
  • Whee! Downhill and a corner! Oh no… Another head injury? Wow. Hope they are ok. That is a lot of blood. Just heard someone gag right behind me. They’d better be choking on a Gu, and not squeamish and about to puke on me.
  • Back along the canal, on our way home! This feels like Resolution Run, only a lot warmer, and with less costumes.
  • I am getting very tired. My legs hurt. I am not allowed to stop. I paid a lot of money to do this. I cannot embarrass myself by stopping now.
  • I LOVE THIS. I AM DOING THIS. I am going to finish and be awesome! I AM ALIVE! Also? I love my Honey Stinger gels.
  • The water station people look tired. And wet.
  • Passing you… now passing YOU. Oh, here I come Miss Sparkly purple running skirt. YES! I’m coming for you, yellow run jacket. Look at me go! WHEEE!
  • This part of the canal is very long and boring. Oh! Hey!  A shoe in a picture frame for people to touch as they pass. Strange.
  • Why yes, I AM wearing underwear, thanks. I’ll smile anyways.
  • 1.5k to go. 1.5k! 1 measly little k and a half! You. Can. Do. This.
  • The signs every 250 metres near the finish are evil. Evil.
  • My FAMILY! OhmyGodIneededtoseethem. My kids look bored, tired, and cold. My husband looks frazzled. He’s going to be grumpy. The fence is too high to get a hug! That sucks. Keep moving, wave and yell happily at them!
  • Wait, what? That isn’t the finish line? It’s just a footbridge? Awww &^*%!
  • I don’t want to raise my arms up. Remember to smile though… I just want to be done. Where is the ^&*%ing finish line?
  • I did it. I FINISHED! I AM AWESOME!
  • I need to pee.

Repost: Morning Bus

In honour of my first bus ride to work in quite a while, I shall repost an entry I wrote on August 19, 2009.I rather liked it, at the time.

https://mustangsabby.wordpress.com/2009/08/19/fresh-carrots-and-berries/ is the permalink. Enjoy!

Fresh Carrots and Berries

She got on the bus this morning smiling, and stood for the twenty minute ride downtown, balancing awkwardly with each jerk forward and back. People stared into space, slept precariously in too small seats, or had the world blocked out by white headphones and music loud enough to deafen. She watched people with dark circles under their eyes, funny twitches, and frowning apathy studiously avoid interaction with one another.

No one was smiling. The sun was shining, the river beside the road was sparkling, and everywhere outside the bus people jogged, bicycled, and walked with summer fervor.

She stopped smiling.

She got off the bus amid choking exhaust, swirling people, and noisy engines. She walked through a mall full of things to buy, past evocative ads for items she would never want, and never need. She tripped on a homeless man, stubbed her toe on a sawed off street sign post, and dodged, just in time, a delivery truck pulling up to a store front. She was vibrating from the chaos around her, her urge to scream and run almost overtaking her.

The saving grace was the smell of fresh carrots and berries from a market stand, and she stopped to bask in the freshness for a moment, forgetting the concrete and garbage surrounding her. She wanted to unzip her skin right then, and walk through the reality portal, straight into the field with tilled earth and neat rows of produce, begging to be picked.

Never more than this moment did she want to go back to where she came from. To come home each night to a front porch light with moths beating themselves helplessly against the searing heat of the exposed bulb. To hear crickets outside her window in the evening, and be able to see the stars when she looks up on a cloudless night. To open her door and feel fresh, clean air on her face, and walk with fingers touching grass and flowers and wonderful growing things no matter which way she faced.

She could imagine the nicker of horses at the gate in the morning, the cluck of chickens pecking pebbles in the heat, the bleating of sheep following one another to nowhere, the soft lowing of cattle as they head to the watering hole, tails swishing flies uselessly. The buzz of bees in the flowers and apple blossoms, and the chirping of small birds in the lofty maple trees.

But reality is where she has her foot placed now, firmly on a marble curb, awaiting the change of a light to walk across. The dream of her past, and hopeful future dissipating with the blare of a stereo, and the distant whine of a siren. Funnily enough, even with the juxtaposition of where she was to where she wanted to be, she was smiling again.

Because, In her hand, was a paper bag with fresh carrots and berries.

 

Daffy for Spring

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Wonderful explosion of scent and colour makes it official! Can’t wait for Tulipfest! Spring! Yes!

Learning About My Long Edge

German longswords are not as heavy as I thought they would be.

Also? “fighting” with swords is really a lot more complicated than what you see on TV. Either that or all the actors who swing swords about are adept at swordplay technique with minimal instruction. You decide. (I prefer to think that all my TV Boyfriends who play with swords in their shows are talented, but that’s just me…)

Also Also? Swordplay is really A LOT OF FUN, a challenge physically and mentally, and seriously, you’ve never done anything like this before. Tree branch swordfighting when you were 7 this is not.

How do I know this? No, I have not been travelling with The Doctor. I took sword play classes! With real swords! Yes!

A friend had a Groupon for three private lessons and three classes, and one of the ladies who had purchased couldn’t come. So my friend Jay, who can convince me to try almost anything, cast her net and asked who wanted to fill the empty slot. I saw that Facebook post, and jumped on that like a band of ravenous kids on birthday cake. Why not? Try new things, expand my comfort zone, be adventurous. Not that I needed a new hobby, but this was a chance to cross off the “learn to swing a sword” bucket list activity.

Shiny.

Once I had paid for the lessons, I found out the classes were at Ottawa Swordplay (http://ottawaswordplay.com/). The name was vaguely familiar to me. Why had I heard that name before? It turns out a former co-worker is an instructor there! I love Ottawa for the fact that we have such a small town feel in a big city. Also? John is a most excellent person, and it was great to catch up with him.

So, on the night of our first private lesson, the four ladies went off, nervous but excited. We had no idea what to expect, and rightly so! Despite our nerves, Craig, the head instructor, also proved to be most excellent, and we relaxed into the lesson immediately. When we headed back to our carpool meeting place, we were all buzzing with the infodump of longsword theory, happy we had shown up, and ready for more.

Seriously, y’all need to try this. Want to learn something about yourself? Learn how to use a sword. Want a neat activity to do with your entourage? Do this.

The system of swordplay for the German Longsword the school teaches is from late 14th century Germany, developed by Johannes Liechtenauer. He compiled a book named Kunst des Fechtens, more commonly referred to as Art of Combat. From this, you get your different types of guards, strikes and footwork. Guards and strikes I had read about before, but footwork?  Footwork plays a huge part, which I did not expect. I assumed it was ad-hoc, just put your feet wherever in order to get the best stance for the defense or offense.

I am terrible at footwork, for the record, but that is ok.

I also discovered that being left-handed is quite the thing when swordfighting. It can mess with your sparring partner, it can mean differences in how you perform strikes, and you rarely mirror your opponent. Basically it can be a *$#^@ until you figure it out. One fellow in class mentioned that in competitions, fighting a leftie is akin to the worst frustration possible. Thankfully, as we progressed through lessons, John was able to partner with me and fight both right and left-handed to help me get the movements. A Godsend. After one lesson that I had partnered with him, and we had drilled and drilled and I was a sweaty mess at the end. Awesome.

Sometimes, I was quite confused and would lose track of where I was in my strike progression, or my feet would not go where I thought they went. My regular partner, Shannon, was patient, and we had a lot of fun figuring it out, getting completely tangled, and of course, ensuring we used sound effects when booping each other in the face with the points of our swords.

I’m not sure, but we may have been the giggliest of  adult students in attendance ever. The other ladies, Jay and Tracey, were quite giggly too. We were having fun.

But that was the point, to enjoy this! To stretch and learn! And I did. I would end every lesson mentally exhausted.

I learned that I don’t think as quickly on my feet as I thought I did, and that I have a tendency to slouch. (ok, just straightened up in my chair writing that heh…). I was reminded of my lack of hand-eye co-ordination when I would look down and find my hands not where I thought they were. We did one lesson with some grappling techniques, and it was an eye-opener to see just how much you can do with you hands and body position to neutralize or disarm your opponent. it isn’t all about the sword! I decided that doing footwork drills with different guards can be very calming and meditative. I liked that part (even though they were difficult for me to “get”).

I learned that I have an arthritic joint in my left index finger that throbbed after every lesson, and every week, I would forget to tape it. Doh!

I learned to put my mask on slowly, as the close confines of the cage would make me a bit dizzy for the first minute or so. It was nothing like paintball masks, which are light and flexible. These masks keep your partner from poking your eye out with a Zornhau, or knock you out with a Sheitelhau (see what I did there? I did retain something!) and are quite necessary, since most of the time, you are using a real, metal sword! My preferred sword was named the Punisher, since it was supposed to be the heaviest sword in the school’s collection. I found the grip narrow enough for my tiny mitts, and really, it wasn’t that heavy… But I don’t have much of a reference, so *shrug*. Leave it to me to pick a sword with a name, eh?

Now, of course, the swords are not sharpened, and some have foam tips taped on. Also, for any drills that involved body strikes or hand work, we used gloves, and dense foam swords. Super-duper safe. There are  quite a number of swords to choose from too, so everyone gets one they are comfortable with. the school also teaches some different types of swordplay with different swords other than the longsword, how to use a buckler (shield), and grappling when engaged with your opponent.

So what did I take away from this experience? That I am capable of learning something new that is completely foreign to me, and that it is ok to suck at it for the first little bit. That I am more confident when I try new things with friends, and should employ this technique when attempting my next adventure.

I also now know more than just swear words in German. I can call my husband an Ochs when he frustrates me. Of course, now that I have said that, he can look it up. Love you, darling!

I encourage you to check out the school. http://ottawaswordplay.com/. It is inviting, friendly, relaxed and a really interesting activity to do. Craig and John are top notch and explaining concepts, and patient when you mess up your Oben Abgenomen for the fiftieth time. They make it look easy, but not unattainable. Apparently they also do birthday parties for youngsters (not sure on the bottom age, 9+ I am going to say?) and Warrior Princess classes for young ladies.

Will I go back? I would love to. Cost, time, a full plate with two small kids, and current training goals means there is no time left in the itinerary right now. Maybe come winter, if we can afford it, and husband is amenable, I will take another block of lessons.

Anyone want to come with me?

Ten Reasons

Ok, long post, y’all. Sorry. I’m really happy and excited and that means you get lots. *boing*

Just so you know, I am walking funny today. My right calf and shin are swearing nasty things at me, and my left hip has decided it does not want to work. I may begin dragging one foot behind me, making under my breath angry pain noises, and wearing sunglasses. Just call me ZombieMom. Screw Calgon, send coffee, chocolate, Advil, a Hintonburger, and Voltaren gel.

Jeebus. *limp*

However, despite the Tin Man creakiness and slight sunburn-glow, you cannot wipe the smile off my face today. I can’t even begin to explain how awesome I feel, or how much I wish I could jump up and go run today at lunch (not happenin’, I am resting today, ow &$%^). I am so freakin’ motivated it is insane (In the membrane. Seriously, make my brain come off warp speed, please!).

Yesterday, I ran the 2013 Manotick Road Race 10k. I had signed up on a whim, as quite a number of my Run Club sistas were running the 18k and 5k. I was feeling left out, and wanting to be included, so I signed up. Nutty? Maybe. I have covered the distance, wanted to play, and the timing was right since I start taper for Mudder this week, and needed one more longish run beforehand.

Oh my God… Did you realize Tough Mudder Toronto is 2 weeks away? *cue flailing* So excited, and feeling not prepared. It is happening, people. I sent the money off for the cottage, and bought my gloves, gels, and stroopwaffels (http://shop.honeystinger.com/categories/Organic-Stinger-Waffles/) since banana and I during exercise do not mix well, and that is the solid fuel of choice at the stations at Mudder.

Anywho, back to the subject at hand…

Sunday was a freaking gorgeous day, and I swear Mother Nature decided we finally needed some warm weather to break the last of the icicles off our noses. It has been a long, cold winter. I met up with everyone, and we got a group shot done, which I am excited to see. Just to be clear, these women, who I was standing with in the photo booth, are all kick-ASS, and have been my somewhat regular running companions since last Fall. A few were missing (Robin, Allyson and Sue Ann weren’t racing, and Josée wasn’t there yet) but to stand with these women, and be able to celebrate their runs with them, was really amazing. I held it in, but I was getting a little bit emotional. These are my friends. We sweat together. I value this connection.

Yeah.. suck it up, buttercup.  Time to run, *$#^.  Heh.

No matter, I was able to run in a T-shirt, and I was a tad too warm in my full CW-X and rainbow socks. I did use music, since I was running solo for most of the race, but I ended up taking my buds out for the last two k, needing the concentration to get up the freaking HILL they put AT THE END of the course.

I felt good going out. I used my 10:1’s, and stuck to plan. I gave myself the permission to run through my 1 minute walk break if I felt good, but also reminded myself it was warm, and to use them. I was feeling my best and trucking along the straight stretch, which I had worried would drain me, since I hate running straight and long. Perhaps it was the massive gaggle of people ahead of me, or the sign that said “OK, who Fartlek’ed?” that made me laugh and sing-song “KATIE DID!” (Yes, Katie, I did) that distracted me, and made me move. It was also being out in the country, no sidewalks, no buildings, no massive amounts of cars… Ahhh. So I was moving, but I figured I was keeping to target pace of 7:30 to 8:00 per km.

At 5k, right near the CHEO Dream Homes, I felt my legs getting heavy, my form going, my breath starting to creep into the gaspy range, so I looked down at my Garmin.

I PRed my 5k. 34:54. No wonder I was feeling tired, Sparky… I was pushing! I had 3 splits under 7 in my first 5! Holy &%*$, Batman! I understand now that I am having trouble gauging my speed at the beginning of a run, especially when others are running around me. Also, when I get my footwork in sync, my lungs acclimatize and I settle in, I am faster than I realize.

I also realized then my idea of negative splits on the second half was likely not wise, and to truck on steady to finish with a smile and non-rubber legs. This was supposed to be a training run, right? HAHA, yeah…  So I gelled, took a moment to walk and do a wee celebration dance about my 5k time, and then carried on. I stopped to talk to a girl who was limping very badly. She had hurt her IT band and downhills were sucking for her (which we were on). I offered her my unused water bottle and a shoulder to lean on to walk, but she said she was ok. I continued on once she assured me she was fine. She ended up coming in just ahead of me, and we high-fived at the finish. I hope she is ok, and gets her IT all figured out. She was super-strong to finish in such pain. Kudos, stranger girl. Wish I’d got your name!

The second half of the course was winding through some of the massive Manotick McMansions and footpaths back to the downtown area. I loved this part of the course, and was a rubbernecker as I looked at gorgeous homes, gardens and landscaping. I felt slower though, and had to take some walk breaks to drink. I was starting to get tired, but kept pushing. It is amazing how much hills can take out of you, and I am glad I have trained hills over the winter. We also did hills with Run Club last week, and it sure did prepare us for the race!

Let’s not think about the Black Diamond slope I have to climb in two weeks right now while my legs are hurting, shall we?

I gelled again at 8k, that heavy feeling coming back,  that all-too-familiar quiver in my midsection. Yup, glycogen stores were gone. So thankful I brought extra gels on course, just in case I did hit that (Diabetic) wall. Then, as I crested the last massive, evil hill, I saw Josée on the corner, and she was running up to cheer me! YAY! I was so happy to see a familiar face, and I ran over, high-fived her, and it gave me such energy. I ran in that last k so strong! It is true what they say. having someone just give you a “WOOO!” can be the fuel you need.

I also PRed my 10k time. 1:13. I cannot be happier about that. I felt capable, I felt accomplished. I felt empowered. I did it! I &^%*ing did it! You bet your bippy I raised my arms right up as I crossed the finish and let out a few happy yahoos!

I am sure my finish photos will be dorky and awkward. And perfect.

Unfortunately, my husband and kids didn’t get to see me finish. They were at the park right beside the Start/Finish, and husband said he couldn’t get them corralled in time to run up to watch me go. Its ok, there will be other races. I was a bit disappointed for a few minutes. He was managing a 2 year old and a 4 year old who were so happy to be outside in warm weather, I am sure it was nutty.

I found my family after getting my bling, spent a few minutes with them, scarfed my Builder’s Bar (they had bananas and oranges at the finish, argh, recipe for pukey Sabby) and watched Katie steam in to a 7th place finish for the women in the 18k, my daughter in my arms clapping her silly little head off and yelling Go Katie! (I may have prompted her). I then found a fellow Run Clubber winding through the crowd, and we all stood at the finish and cheered the rest of the girls in. To see them come in, one at a time, tired from their 18k run, but all with smiles was absolutely the highlight of the day. We all rocked our runs, were happy with times and efforts. We all had bling around our neck, grit on our faces…

And it was awesome.

We stayed to watch Josée run her 5k, that apparently was a 5.5k when she looked at her GPS later on. Oops? Her son ran the last few metres with her, and they gave him a medal which was adorable. Josée looked strong coming in, and I know she will be doing some great things this summer with her running. So excited!

I also got to congratulate Matt Triemstra and his sister as they came in from their 5k. My husband attended church with Matt for some time, and I knew the family through Matt’s father, Terry, who passed away recently. Matt and his sister were running to remember their Dad, as he had a heart defect, and this run’s charity is the Ottawa Heart Institute. Read Matt’s motivation for running here: http://manotickroadrace.com/stories/read-other-stories/ and smile like I did when I saw them steaming in to the finish, jumping and yelling for them, remembering Terry right at that moment.

As we drove home, the kids cranky, me exhausted, my husband hungry, I realized that there were so many reasons for me to be there yesterday. Not just to run. I got to share in the joy of so many friends and their families, I got to show my kids that I am active. They got exposed to a sport I hope they want to take part in when they’re older. I got to spend time with women I really do care about, and celebrate with them. I got to go out, in the sunshine, and participate, and feel good about where I am going. And the best part was I covered 10k on the anniversary of when I signed up for my first race, and just starting to think I could run again after so many years.

So, now for the emotional part of today’s post… There were 10 kilometres, and for each one of them, I validated my journey, and struck the spark for more.

*ahem* Ok then. Also? Every single race marshal, and a ton of volunteers and folks in their driveways on course told me they liked my socks. *fistpump* Yessss….

Remember with Strength

All week last week, I wanted to blog. I wanted to tell everyone about my crazy, mixed-up, stressful Wednesday. I wanted to talk about how I successfully ran all winter this year, how on Friday I ran in a tank top, but on Sunday I wore my thermals (Ottawa weather, you’re drunk, go home). I had so many ideas for blog posts, but…

…None of it came out onto the “paper”.

Wanting to joke about how my car breaking down on the road was catastrophic to my plans to run seemed… Unimportant. To chat idly about my blessed life’s tiny roadbumps felt inappropriate. To say it was a week of reflection and emotions would be an understatement. So my blog stayed silent. I was kind of silent too. I needed processing time.

Over the weekend, Phil Marsh (https://twitter.com/runcoachphil) tweeted about a Boston Memorial walk being held on Monday, starting at Parliament Hill, ending at the Embassy with a moment of silence. Participants were to wear Boston colours of any kind, and bring a pair of shoes to donate to the Mission.

So, on Monday, I went. I don’t have any Boston wear, but I did have a blue run jacket. I wore my current winter runners, and off I went. I met up with Josée and Fiona, listened to the dignitaries and runners speak. All shared the same message. We will not let this deter our efforts. We are runners and shall remain united in this sport we love.

It was wonderful that they played “Sweet Caroline” as we began to walk towards the Embassy. I was happy about that. Love that song! Go Red Sox! *ahem*

As we walked, I was struck by how celebratory this felt. We were mourning the tragedy yes, but we were also bringing this emotion of strength, tenacity, and togetherness I only really feel at sporting events. Everyone was smiling, the sun was welcome, and people were happy to be able to participate in this ceremony meant to bring closure and solidify a community rocked very hard by last week.

Folks needed this. Since yesterday, I have felt lighter again. I am so glad I went.

The moment of silence was perfect, and the Mission will have tons of expensive running shoes to help folks get by. Maybe some of them will even get used to run in! I donated a very special pair of shoes, and I have a blog post about it in the works. It meant a lot to me to tie those shoes onto the fence.

Below are some of the photos I took of the event.

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Oprah Energy

Last night, I was out with some friends, and we went to listen to Oprah speak. Yes, I did! I checked a bucket item off. “Go see Oprah”. It is very close on the list to “See the Queen” which I did when she unveiled the Oscar Peterson statue.

Y’all, I have some inspirational woman on my list. I also have Princess Anne, Christilot Hanson Boylen, and Jann Arden on there, plus some others. (Jann is checked off, I met her briefly one strange night at Cherry beach Sound waaaay back when… Long story to be told over ciders at a local pub. Seriously.)

15,000 of us (or so) sat in our seats last night, laughing, nodding, clapping and cheering through an hour and a half of her talking, sharing and explaining her vision and beliefs. She shared well-known stories about her childhood, her shows, her career. She shared philosophies, ideas, inspirations, and triumphs that have helped her get to where she is. She went over time by about half an hour (I know, we could see the time clock beside her teleprompter… Heh).

It was unbelievably inspiring. Except for the guy sitting next to me who was playing Angry Birds on his phone the whole time. Yes. He paid all that money to come see an icon of our generation speak to her experiences, and he played Angry Birds.

Money well spent, Sir.

I know some of you will roll your eyes at my enthusiasm, or shrug and say “Yeah whatever… There’s the bandwagon, jump on.” But it was inspiring, and motivating. No bandwagon needed, I gots my own two feets right here to walk that walk. Oprah may be a juggernaut of publicity, and people have negative and positive notions about her, but what she has to offer by way of experience is important for us as a society, to listen to. She has the means to effect change in this world, and has.

Right on.

Folks may think she is rather too polished to be genuine, or annoyed by her constant positivity about self-improvement. They may say she’s secretly a $%#^*, or that she’s fake on stage. I may sometimes have wished for her to be less of a famous person and more of a human, in the past, watching her show. But here we were, staring down from our 300 level seats at the woman who has helped shape an entire generation with her show, inspired women for many years to get up and do something scary or change their life. Watching her, standing in her gorgeous designer sparkly dress and Mahnolo’s, I listened to her talking about peeing quietly (hilarious), cooking chicken for Stedman (We’ve all been there, madder than a wet hen when the *man* is late), and connecting to us woman to woman, human to human.

At some points I was so absorbed I forgot there was a crowd around me. Even Angry Bird dude beside me faded away.

I was completely hit in the chest with a lump of emotion when she recounted running in the rain, singing “I surrender all” at a Fat Farm (her words, not mine), listening to her thighs brush together, mourning her perceived loss of her part in The Colour Purple, Joan Rivers calling her fat and putting her on the spot, her stress of dieting, feeling lost and out of control… She let it all go, let the crazy leave her and be at peace with what would happen next.

Wow. *thud*

You could’ve heard a cell phone dingle in the silence as she recounted that story. 15,000 people completely awed and still as went on to say she got the phone call from Spielberg at that moment, Spielberg telling her to not lose a pound.

*blink* Alright then. I was drawn in, and had something in my eye *ahem*.

I left with this feeling of fullness, of joy. I left feeling blessed about my own life because *%$# yeah bring it on! I left with a better understanding of how driven and ambitious this woman is, and has been to achieve what she wanted. I left with a nudge to listen to my intuition, to use my energy to help and give to others. To live every day as a gift and to love openly without regret. That we are what we put into our lives, and that we can achieve by thinking positively, reacting positively, and not giving up when the universe hands us crap. Some of the quotes and concepts that stuck with me (Shamelessly mined from tweets from last night, and my shoddy memory):

Your greatest power is to give love.

When things aren’t going the right way, you have to look at yourself first.

You are what you believe you are.

Your life is your art. You have been called.

Our lives are speaking to us all the time. When people show you who they really are, believe them. Sometimes people show you who they really are, but you don’t pay attention. You pay attention to the picture you created in your own mind.

A lot of people, especially women, spend time in other people’s energy fields. You have no control over anyone’s energy field but your own.

Do the best you can, then let it go. Release it.

You cannot hear your purpose if you let the noise of the world tell you. Be silent, listen.

When you are in a hole, don’t look at how high you have to climb to get out. Look at where to place your foot next, then next. Look where you have to place your hand, then next. Take it one step at a time.

None of this was earth shattering information. None of this was new to me. But… The way she explained her beliefs, weaving stories between concepts made me understand what they mean, not just what they say. She reminded me, she prompted me, and she wrestled it to the surface of my brain to roll over and over.

Overwhelming inspiration and motivation, isn’t it?

The best part of the evening was when my favorite CBC TV boyfriend George Strombolopoulous walked on stage, sat down with Oprah, and they had one of his patented personal, quirky conversation interviews. Not Rick Mercer, not Mansbridge, not anyone that you would expect to win this calibre of celebrity exposure… But someone who unequivocally defines my thirty-something world. I loved every moment, watching them interact, two interviewers wrestling for control of the conversation with impromptu dialogue and genuine responses, talking about mortality, Oprah being told she was pretty, and urinating in the same conversation.

Whut? Pure awesome.

I am so happy for him to have a chance to make it huge at CNN, but so utterly sad he is leaving the mothership CBC (permanently? I hope not!). George, you are one special Canadian guy. Take that identity with you when you are immersed at CNN. Represent. Seriously. News item on it – http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/09/stroumboulopoulos-comes-to-cnn-in-summer-2013/

Some snapshots:

  • I loved how she put slippers on after her talk was finished, and gave her Mahnolo’s away to Sandy Sharkey, stating “I hope they are kinder to you than they were to me.” MAHNOLOS!!!! Yeep.
  • She brought up Sherri, her server from breakfast at the Brookstreet, seamlessly weaving the interaction and conversation into her bigger message.
  • Someone was so bold as to try to hand her a manuscript when she came on stage at the beginning, and George ran out and snagged it for her. She was gentle in her reprimanding of such a silly thing to do, which, IMHO, was extremely rude and assumptive, and dude who did that, WTF were you thinking? I am hoping it was not staged. It didn’t feel staged.

Folks have asked me if I saw protesters. None. And frankly, I think I might have been disgusted if I did, and been mean. There are bigger issues out there to worry about than what Oprah is endorsing. Go protest on the Hill over world hunger, or poverty, or war. Not about some face cream (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/04/10/oprah-skin-cream-foreskin-protest_n_3053871.html) that was developed in a way you don’t agree with.

*grrr*

What I did see, as we walked in, and again as we walked out, was 15,000 or so people who had a chance to hear a women they have admired for so, so many years talk, empower, and bring her message out in a new way. To be inspired from that, and use that energy to maybe make this world a wee bit better for it.

I know it will help me!

Bouncing

The March Break week is finally coming to a close and what a week it has been. Busy at work, chaos at home, and balls to the walls with my fitness. Hubs was out Monday night for Myofascial torture with a friend, then to another friend’s on Wednesday for the 13.2 release (Crossfit, yo). Last night I was out at the gym. *boingboingboing* I also had a great lunch with a friend yesterday to celebrate her Runversary. We had a healthy meal, walked the mall (why must they heat the mall to a 1000 degrees? I was one wilted mama by the time I got back to work) and had some girl time. Was awesome. I also bought myself a new Lululemon water bottle. Spluge-o-rama, but worth it. I loves the wide mouth and 20oz size, plus the thick silicone sleeve.

It is Gym Dork Proof. I tested that last night by attempting to drop it several times, and kicking it once. It passed that test.

This week I am searching in vain for that lost hour of sleep from last weekend when the Daylight Savings fairies blessed us with an extra hour of light after getting home, and the caffeine intake has been a bit elevated. I have been in bed earlier than normal all week, and getting out of bed in the morning has been torturous beyond measure.

Today, however, I am bouncing off the walls for some reason. I have so much energy I want to go run around, shouting and laughing and telling everyone that life is wonderful and beautiful, like that guy (Roberto Benigni) from the Oscars a few years agogoing a little cukoo and saying he wanted to make love to everyone when he won a statue.

It could also be the caffeine talking. *buzzzzzz*

The theme song of this week is that tune you hear at carnivals and circuses, the “Doo-dee-doo-deedoo-da-doo-doo-doo-doo” (Like that made any sense) and once Friday night hits, it ain’t stoppin’. We have a full weekend planned, with an in-law visit to have fun with the kids, a dinner out, and my first 10k training run since Resolution Run on Sunday. *boingboingboing*

I need a drink, some down time with a good book, or a visit to Le Nordik. Who am I kidding? An hour of Bejeweled and a tea before I pass out it is.

This week was my first back-to-back run since last fall. I did a hill workout on Tuesday that saw me sprinting up the pathway by the Museum of Civilization, doing the long, slow hill up beside the NAG, and doing some sprints on the top half of my Big &*$%ing Hill. Then some more sprints up the wee amphitheatre slope at the NAG, which is always fun. Hoo boy were my IT bands and quads sore for my 6k with a friend the next day! That 6k was absolutely gorgeous though. We ran up Sussex, past the GG’s residence, then skirted around it into the edge of Rockliffe, poking down into New Edinburgh to run across the Minto Bridges that aren’t under restoration yet. A bit of ice navigation included, and we had a really great run.

Have I mentioned before how much I love running in our city? Once the snow goes, I cannot wait to run up into Rockliffe Park, and on the river pathways. There are some wicked fun hills there.

Wait… Did I just say hills are fun? Someone punch me… I think I may be drunk or something.

*ahem*

Couple all this crazy-funtimes with my two weightroom sessions (new Squat PR of 50 pounds!) and I am enforcing a rest day today (which was supposed to be yesterday but I couldn’t help myself and ran screamingwent to the gym last night after the kids were off to bed), despite the fact that I want to go for a run today. There is white, fluffy snow falling, and it is beautiful. I love running in that! However, it is cold, and it would hide the ice patches. I can just imagine the absolute comedy of me doing the Bambi impression, or the Drunken Pterodactyl (I think Drunken Pterodactyl would make an excellent band name) down a slope on the Loop run.

Heh. No thanks. If I am still vibrating by evening, maybe I’ll do some yoga… or some core work. Can core work be considered hefting a large glass of wine from table to mouth?

Thought so. *slurp*

 

Run With Me on March 26th

March is that month where I get so impatient. I want winter to be over. I want to explode through the last vestiges of snow and ice, into the path of the sun, jumping and leaping like a new puppy who has finally discovered their own tail.

March is not quite winter, but not Spring enough to give me that overwhelming feeling of energy, making me bounce and skip and sing outside, relishing in the sunshine, the warmth, the new beginnings, like April does.

I love Spring. I emerge from the dark, foreboding winter full of excitement for the summer ahead. I plan gardens much too ambitious for a family with two small children. I think of all the weekends we have to fill with outdoor adventures and possibilities. I reach for the smell and cacophony of garden seedlings in the market stalls, their tender leaves overflowing the trays. I get excited to taste the first Snow Peas and garlic scapes, find the first fiddleheads in the damp marsh. I dream of the swaths of brilliantly coloured tulip beds, cutting through the almost too bright green of Springtime grass, like a swipe of a painters brush on a well-sanded canvas.

Spring is my favorite season. I sometimes think I should have been a Springtime baby. It is the most anticipated time of year in my soul.

This year, I am looking forward for another reason as well. An important one. One I hope to mark each year, like a birthday. I suppose, it could be called a Re-Birthday. Most folks (who celebrate milestones such as mine) like to call it a Runniversary.

March 26th was the day I (re)started running. I logged my newfound hobby activities as walking for the first week or so, because there was more walking than running. But then, in April, I started logging them as running. I felt like I was cheating myself by not saying I was running, because I was. But, that first day in March was the day I decided I wanted to try.

And the past year is all because I did.

I am celebrating this (previously) un-thought of achievement, and I want to celebrate with as many people as possible.

So, Tuesday March 26th, at 12:30 pm, meet me in front of Grand Maman at the National Art Gallery, and we will run together. Those who have never met me, look for the rainbow, of course.

We’ll do the loop route, starting out over Alexandra Bridge, in front of the Museum of Civilization, then over Portage Bridge, then across downtown in front of Parliament Hill, ending in Major’s Hill Park, if we can. If the pathways are clear along the river, we can use those instead of the street.

Pace will be easy, so we can talk, laugh, and enjoy the moment. Intervals can be done if anyone would prefer. This is not about running long, or fast, or hard. It is about celebrating something we all love to do, celebrating the day I embarked on my journey. I want to share it, and reaffirm the past year, hopefully reaffirming it for everyone else putting shoe to pavement with me.

See you there!

Own the Run

Today’s run is brought to you by the number 30, and Raj Binder from This Hour has 22 Minutes. (love ya Shaun Majumber! http://www.shaunmajumder.com/)

I am not even kidding, folks… I wrung my run hat out when I took it off today, during my run. Raj, you got nothin’ on me…

Anyways…

I felt good when I stepped outside at lunch, I was dressed in my thermal tights, Run jacket, Lulu top and pink skullcap. I felt stylish, like a “real” runner. I felt the urge to get moving, was excited to run somewhere else other than the loop, and the sun was shining. Can you say giddy? I was feeling giddy.G-I-D-D-Y. Up, if you so prefer. Heh.

I decided today I would finally try out my 30 second fast intervals, which last time I tried I forgot to set the repeat. Doh… So, the intervals were 5 minutes steady, followed by 30 seconds fast, then 2 minutes walk. Rinse, repeat. I have not added much speed into my runs, and since I need to get faster, and increase my lung capacity, here we go, right? Remember last year, I slowly added to my run segments with my own interval sets? Well, in feeling completely bewildered at how to add speed to my runs, I remembered how I added running to my runs last year, and decided on the same technique. Once 30 seconds feels easier, I’ll add 30 seconds to the sprint. And so on, and so on…

I bopped along down to the Minto bridges, and was so sad when the first one, right behind DFAIT, was still completely blocked off for restoration. What have them been doing all winter? Mama wants to run across her favorite bridge! Geez… Saddened, I continued up the path to Sussex, deciding I could run past 24 Sussex, wave to the Prime Minister, and turn around at Rideau Hall, after waving to the Governor General. (well, wave at all the security guards, obviously.)

The guards and RCMP that were out and about were all very smiley and happy today. Who wouldn’t be? It was so gorgeous. Sunny, and warm. Plus, they have an awesome job. Seriously.

I won’t lie. The run got hard once I hit Sussex. I couldn’t catch my breath while walking after the sprint, the 5 minute steadies felt like they took forever, and I dreaded hearing the “Next Interval – 30 seconds fast” prompt in my ear (Hey Runkeeper, you need some new voices for your coaching prompts!). I didn’t stop, but I felt slow, and pushed for every step mentally and physically. I realized that my thermal tights, Run jacket, Lulu top and pink skullcap were way too much clothing for today. I was soaked, I was overheating, and it was sucking the verve right outta me. I took off my gloves, I took off my hat. I opened my sleeve vents. I finally opened the jacket. Nope. Still too warm. The rest of the run was that way. I was hot, yo. And not in the *rawr* way. More like the red-faced, wheezing, and dripping kind of way.

It could also be that I have one helluva cold right now and the snot and sore throat thing was not helping. I dunno. I had Kleenex and I used it. A lot. *honk*

I got back to work completely spent and stood on the corner for five minutes to just catch my breath. I did 4.3k in 33 minutes or so, so even with the walking and the suck, I was pleased with my pace. All my splits were under 8 minutes. I was disappointed in how hard it felt, but I haven’t been running as much lately, and was not really in the “groove”. I need to remember it takes time to build endurance, right?

No matter how the run felt in the end, and no matter whether the effort was what I wanted or intended it to be, I did it, and banked the fitness I got out of it. Something I read recently (and for the life of me I know not where I read it) has stuck with me, and made me feel better about my efforts when they don’t go the way I want them too.

Own the run. Use the experience to build on the next effort, no matter what the result is.

I like that. So today, I owned the run, sweat, suck, and all.

 

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Snow

Today I went out and ran in the picturesque, Christmas-like snowy weather. My co-workers thought I was nuts, and when I stepped outside, I thought – for that brief moment before your Garmin beeps that it has found location – That I might just be.

But I went anyways. And tip-toed, sliding around all the way over to my pre-determined meeting place. Do you know how hard it is to maintain a decent running pace, going downhill on marble paving stones, while there is a centimetre of snow on the ground? Not easy, my friends. Let’s just say I did the Drunken Pterodactyl a few times, planting my feet wide the moment I felt my balance go, thus saving myself from skidding the rest of the way down the hill on my Thermal-tight-covered tookus.

Years and years of wearing no-tread riding boots at barns has taught me how to stay upright when the goin’ gets slippy. I have no idea how many times I did Bambi impersonations while fetching yon “steed who won’t be caught” from the paddock that could’ve doubled for a skating rink. Yep. Teh skillz, I has dem. (Not. I am a klutz, seriously folks. It’s self-preservation. if I fall, I might not be able to get back up. I would rather pull my groin muscles than fall.)

Met up with friends (YAY! Friends! Friends who RUN! *happy*), and we did some intervals up the Canal pathway and back. Easy and light, so very, very enjoyable. But once again, my bad juju (I have no idea where this came from, seriously ladies I don’t mean it!) meant that one of the runners with me went over on her ankle. The other runner that was with me was the one to do her ankle in after our last meet up to run.

My heart sunk. Am I bad luck? People are going to stop wanting to run with me… Oi. I need to carry a good luck charm or something. Maybe I just need more rainbow running gear. That’s it! Can anyone hook me up with a rainbow Tech Tee? or Maybe some rainbow thermal tights… Is there such a thing as too much rainbow? Is that like screaming “More Cowbell!” at a downhill ski race?  I don’t want to get a reputation, or have people not want to run beside me, hissing at me if I try to match stride with them. “Careful! She’s an ankle ninja… I’ve seen her in action. Those ladies go down like they’ve been checked by a 6’4″ hockey player. She’s sneaky for a little thing…”

*sigh* I jest, but I do, in all seriousness, hope her ankle is ok.

Slippy, slidy beautiful snowy winter run aside (The War memorial was absolutely stunning covered in snow, the flakes swirling around the horses and men in intricate swirling patterns. I was so cold, I didn’t want to stop to take a photo. Wish I had), I also ran 8k yesterday, and it was one of those runs that made me glad to be alive. Why? because nothing hurt during the run, nothing was hurting when I got home, and I wasn’t worrying about injury. For the first time in a month, I was strong when I finished a run, feeling good, wanting to keep going but playing it safe and stopping. I really, really needed that yesterday.

It was also hard-@%# cold, and for awhile, I was running on snow-packed NCC trails to get around the frozen solid ice sidewalks along the main road by my neighbourhood. As I crested a hill overlooking the freeway on one side and a Pick Your Own Strawberry farm on the other, I stopped to take a breather (Seriously, running on snow pack is hard, yo!) and enjoy the view of a flock of starlings hanging out in some trees nearby. I looked down for some odd reason, and realized I was standing ON TOP of the park benches that perch atop the hill, their curliqued edges just peeking out of the massive drift near my shoe.

The snow was holding me up!

I immediately panicked (read: swore loudly, startling the Starlings), because I am a dork. My head was a running panic-babble of “I’m too heavy to stand on top of snow… I haven’t been able to walk across snow since I was 12! I am going to fall though and get hurt… OhmyGodOhmyGodOhmyGod!”. Of course, I had been running on it all the way up, why now would I suddenly fall to my doom in the never-ending drift? I tenderly kept moving, and once I had walked a few steps, called myself a moron, and picked my run up again to descend the other side.

That got my heart rate up.

After, I reflected that this was a momentus achievement in my weight loss journey, and I saved the woot for my blog, because it made me feel that *%^$ing amazing. I may still be weighing in 40 pounds above my target weight, but *&$# if that snow didn’t hold ME up! ME! *fistpump*

So, in all seriousness… I love running in snow, don’t get me wrong. It is beautiful. It is humbling and inspiring. But $%#* am I ready for some plus-side temperatures, green grass, clear pavement, and sun. ♥

 

 

Restaurant Realization

Last night husband and I totally pigged out. We had alcohol, we had appetizers, and each had an entree. As well, we munched on the kids food and had dessert. Can you say oink?

Yeah… without a doubt, it was a little nutty. Not the food, silly kernigget… Us.

After, we felt horrific, and looked at one another in the dark car on the way home, listening to a random DVD squeaking in the background, the overly-tired kids alternating between a whine and a giggle. We realized, as a family, that we don’t – and can’t – eat like that anymore.

Not even a little bit.

We felt gross, out of sorts, and lethargic. The kids were strung out. Our wallets are considerably lighter. Today, I have/had a migraine, and I know that the extra crazy amount of gluten, carbs and sugar I forked into my maw last night aggravated it. My daughter was starving this morning, having only eaten pasta, some pretzels, and some fries the night before, with two cups of milk.

We used to eat that way all the time. Wow.

Last night was my Birthday dinner, since we waited until pay day to go out. I decided I wanted to go to Mill St., since I had gone without hubs and he was miffed (I am a peacemaker, what can I say…). It is supposed to be kid friendly, and welcoming. my last experience there was fantastic, and I was remembering the great service and food, and relaxing atmosphere.

Plus, they make my husband’s favorite beer. Win/win, right?

Wow. So not.

I won’t take the kids there again, and definitely will not go on a government Pay Day. The place was packed with young folks (waitaminute, aren’t we still young? Oh dear I am doing it… I am… I look at 20-somethings and think they are young…) and huge groups. It took an hour for our food to arrive, the noise decibel level was so high that my son complained it was too loud, and we were sandwiched into this tiny table, with nowhere to put our winter coats. The server was slow as molasses, and we had to remind him several times about extra waters and such we had requested. The two tables along the wall where we were, that seated after us, paid and left before we had finished eating.

The kid’s menu had little to no veg on it, if you can count raw carrot and celery with dip, and I had a hard time finding an entree with a veggie (or healthy, for that matter) side. My kids will eat broccoli and cauliflower and carrots and beans and there was not one bit of that anywhere on the menu we could order for them. I asked.

I supposed I could have had a salad, but when I am going out for a nice dinner with my family, I want to have a steak, or something like that. Stuff I don’t have all the time at home. My steak came with no vegetables, just a twice-baked potato (with chili pepper or something in it, it was so hot I took one bite and left it alone) and some overly-peppered mushrooms. I asked for a side of veg, and they said they could, for $5 more and it was carrot and celery with dip. WTF?

To top it off? I forgot they did not have debit. Argh. They explained why they don’t have debit, and its a totally legitimate reason, but it still sucks since the ATM was $2.50 to use. *shakes fist at banks*

On the plus side, my chocolate cake was on the house, being my birthday and all.

We rolled home, putting the kids to bed at 9 pm, and then once the lunches and bags were ready, we collapsed into our own. I could barely move by this time, sore, stiff, cranky, and feeling bloated. All my clothes were tight and I shucked them the moment I could when we arrived home, for comfy PJs. Husband had a horrific night’s sleep, I could tell this morning with his dark circles and puffiness. He also snored and kept taking his sleep mask off all night.

Will we go back? Probably as a date night, or for a date brunch. It was not the worst experience we have ever had at a nice restaurant, but it was not the best. And if we go, for land’s sake, I will not likely eat that much again. *urp*

Civilized

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In Ottawa, even the graffiti is civilized. Too funny not to share! Tea, anyone?

Hill Achievement

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Today, I ran up my Big *&$%ing Hill.

I was extremely slow, and sometimes felt like I was running in slow motion, or in molasses. Lifting a leg and placing the foot felt so deliberate, so utterly turtle-like, and it was all I could do to keep going, keep pushing, keep reaching for the end. I made it to the top, stopped, turned around, and stared down that hill while I caught my breath. The hill I have walked up all year, a hill I have used as a touchstone to my fitness level since starting this crazy journey. A hill I swore I would beat. I gave myself no deadline, I just wanted to be able to do it.

And I did.

A big, toned, gorgeous man all layered up for the cold loped up behind me as I revelled for a moment, reliving all the times this summer I have ascended this hill, determined to beat it someday. He gave me a big smile and said “Its a tough one!” before turning the corner and heading towards Alexandra Bridge. I think you couldn’t have burst my elation bubble if you’d tried. A witness! Now it has to be true!

I. %$#^@&$. Did. It.

At the beginning of the year, my goal was simply to walk up the hill without dieing (My Hill To Climb). This was before I realized I could run, and before I had fully drank the electrolyte Kool-Aid and become a “runner”. (Yes, I am a runner now, I am very comfortable labelling myself thusly).

Walking up that hill suddenly became Not Enough©. I wanted to run up the thing, like the runners who whisped past me in March. There was no whisping involved today, but hey, before you whisp, you gotta… erm… Dust? Curry (for my horsey folks, you know who you are)? Tromp? Tip-toe in tulips?

I think my analogy just died… Let’s just say, give me another year, and I will be cruising up that thing, not doing the slow-motion running movie scene impersonation. *fistpump*

Today was a hill workout. Some formal runners call them “Hill Repeats”. I just call them self-volunteered torture. Hills are supposed to make you stronger and faster, so I have been trying to do hills once every couple of weeks, and on the treadmill when I do interval work. My walking segments are always at grade on the treadmill.20121206-144705.jpg

Today I did some repeats up a small segment of hill at Major’s Hill Park, circling around a few times, sprinting up, jogging down to recover. Then I popped over to my hill. I jogged down, and up to the locks. I did two repeats of the steep hill to the stairs there, watching confused runners on the other side curse as they realized they can no longer cross the locks. One poor woman got visibly upset, gesturing wildly and shouting. Poor thing.

Dudes, its December… the locks are open so the ice doesn’t make them splinter and fall apart! World heritage site, and all that… But I get it. Not being able to cut across the locks adds quite a bit more to your run to go around, and you miss out on the Big *&$%ing Hill.

I set off at a jog to go back up my Hill. I was getting nervous, and worried. I wanted to attempt it today, but I wasn’t sure I was ready. I was getting tired from the smaller hill sprints… and I almost walked. Almost. There was a few moments where I hesitated, knowing there was suck ahead, shying away from it, not wanting the hurt, not believing I could do it.

Then, I remembered something I tell my son when he falls and scrapes something, or bumps his knees. Seriously, little boys must have titanium in their knees. He has so many bumps, bruises and scrapes on those knobby leg hinges! I tell him “Pain isn’t forever. Pain goes away. But 20121206-144640.jpgpain is important.” He always nods his somber little head, sniffles, and goes bouncing off after a hug, and shaking the offending limb, saying “OWWWW” really loudly. We get him to shake things he hurts. It means he is not asking for kisses for his boo-boos. We stopped that after he started asking for kisses on his bum and his little man-bits when he had a rash. Ummm… yeah. let’s try something new, Sweetie.

Seriously, you should see the funny if he bites his tongue.

So I remembered that advice I give my kids, reminded myself how good it would feel to get to the top and relieve my muscles of the painpainpain. I repeated my goal to get up the $#^@ing hill in my head. Then, for good measure (and because I really, really needed the visual) I smacked my Self Critic Beast as hard as I could, (figuratively, because smacking myself while running would not be productive) and kicked it.

I slowed right down, I swear walking would have been faster, but I was determined. My lungs were aching by the time I got to the top. Im my imagination, the top of my quads fell off right there on the pathway, and I was all “Well, there you go.” , picked them up, put them into my SPI Belt, and walked back to work. Although, how one walks without quads is beyond me. Heh.

from there, I did some more sprints up smaller hills around the park, and then jogged it out for a few blocks back to work, going the long way. I felt good, but that hill had pooped me out. Well, perhaps the culmination did.

See you next week, Big @#$%ing Hill. You and me, we have an achievement to build on.