Thursday, 23 December 2010

Three Things Thursday

Woo-hoo!  I remembered to following the T-T-T trend this week!

1.  On Tuesday, I took a solo drive to Buffalo to cross-border shop for some things that are unavailable in Canada (hard to believe it's worth it if not sold here, but I'm not a 12 year old boy) and made my FIRST EVER trip to Target. 

I've heard people raving about it and how it would be so great to have them here.  The wonder of it was lost on me...seemed like I was in Zellers, which is not such a bad thing, I guess.  Maybe Targets in other US cities are more exciting.  Anyway -- I can officially check that adventure off my list.  I am so wild and crazy.

2.  I've been busy preparing for Christmas (hand made crackers and all) and not at all preparing for the little 10 mile race in Hamilton on Sunday.  Luckily, my 10 mile PR sucks big time, so should be easy enough to get a new one.  I think I can walk the whole way!  Totally worth it for the snowman mittens and medal.  Hoping to spot some bloggers I follow who are also running.

Maybe "home-made" is a better descriptor than "hand-made".
I photoshopped (badly) a picture of each person into an appropriate cartoon panel. 26 times. Yes, I did have too much time on my hands this fall.  Why do you ask?

3.  Once the festivities and race are over, we're driving to Vermont for some skiing goodness.  Phil and the boys are speed demons.  I ski about as fast as I run.  We're all happy with our performances though.  I have no desire to try any trail more difficult than a green.  The ski lifts are enough to stress me out, so I'll stay on my tame little mountain and let the others go for the black diamond peaks.
Last year.  Pictures of me will be remarkably similar this year as it's the only time I wear this jacket.  Notice I'm totally in control when I'm standing still.

Next up:  Boxing Day 10 Miler race report and some 2011 goals.  Have a great holiday!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Egg Nog Jog 10.8k Race Report

I was not looking forward to this.  The forecast was crummy; temperature hovering around 0*C (32*F), meaning what fell from the sky would be somewhere between wet snow and freezing rain.  What a time for the weather channel to get it right.

 Huge hills, very slushy and slippery roads (especially on the gravel road section, where most of the hills were) and constant rain. 

And I can't give a single reason why, but I loved this race. 

Pre-race, cleverly holding
the namesake prop.

See how we're still
dry and warm?

Obligatory mascot shot on the way to the start line.

Just the tiny little amount of hillwork I've done in the past month made a huge difference.  There was about 6km of rolling hills, with one big bruiser at the midway point.  I managed to run them all, except the second half of the monster.   I was too chicken to go for broke on the downhills because I was scared I would end up a$$ over tea kettle.  
One of the early rolling hills.

The Lung Buster. The picture does not do it justice.  It hurt to walk it.

At first I was bummed this didn't turn out, but now I call it "artsy".  Can you tell what it is?
Bagpiper among the trees halfway up the big one.  Appropriately funeral-dirgy and very cool.

10.8k finished in 1:16:10, which I'm very happy about considering the conditions.  I expected to be closer to 1:30.  Phil came in at 57:34 and our friend Tim, who made a spectacular appearance two minutes before gun time (who knew how far away Terra Cotta was?), finished in 1:04:55.

I so chicked that dog in the last 800 metres.

The race was extremely well done.  It's the 28th year for this race and the Georgetown Runners, the organizers, have it figured out.  It started and ended in the Terra Cotta Conservation Area, about an hour outside Toronto, and was a loop around some rural roads.  The swag included a long sleeve technical shirt, which I will actually wear this winter, even though it's bright green, and a nice medal with the egg nog carton logo.  There was a huge heated tent for warming up post-race.  Food included the usual bananas and yogurt plus YUMMY vegetable soup courtesy of the local Terra Cotta Inn.  Just the perfect thing when you're soaked to the bone.  Chocolate milk and egg nog rounded out the offerings.  I heard there was coffee too, but I didn't get to that corner of the tent.

Soaked, freezing and heading home.

Summary: Miserable conditions on a tough course that made me feel like a hard core Canadian runner.

Brush with greatness:  Jefferson the Santa giraffe/dog/reindeer and maybe Chris from Suck It Up, but everyone had hats on and I think I'd only recognize him by his hair.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Some things on a Friday

I missed "Three Things Thursday"  and it's not really a "Foto Friday", so I made up my own catchy title.

1.  I have the Egg Nog Jog on Sunday and it's freaking me out.  Hilliness, a possible snowstorm and very little running this week make we want to bail.  And I read that this guy, who runs ultras, thinks this little 10.8k is a REALLY TOUGH RACE!  Confidence booster for sure.  But I will do it anyway, though I may end up last of 600.  The hot chocolate at the end better be good.

2. The pool is being filled as I type.  They finished putting the liner in today since it wasn't snowing. We've been told to leave the hose going all night and they'll be back in the morning.  SWEET!  Swimming tomorrow! 

Pre-liner.  The wrought iron is not as close to the deck as it looks.
Note the beautiful wood fence.  It used to be a 4 foot high chain-link eyesore.

3.  My awesome boy, Charlie, shone brightly in Wednesday night's middle school Christmas concert.  By far the most talented kid there.  And the most handsome.  Luckily, we only missed a few minutes of Survivor.  I have yet to miss an episode since it started.  Seriously.

So stinking cute. The evil Band teacher made him
tuck in his shirt, which he's still complaining about.
I think he should have been more worried about the
possessed kid beside him.

Off to bed soon to try to catch up on some sleep before Sunday.  Have a great weekend.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Happy Birthday to Phil!

He didn't want the waiters in the restaurant to sing, even if it involved spinning the wheel for a fabulous prize, but you can all sing individually!

Just adorable.  Bet you can't sit like that now.

With big brother, Steve, accepting the rule that the oldest kid gets the bucket. 
Note the very cool vintage cars that weren't vintage at the time.

A nice day in 1994

My three favourite guys.

Still as cute as a button.

Happy Birthday!  And a new age group to boot!
Enjoy your day at the DMV and Health Card Office!

Friday, 3 December 2010

Now that's progress!

Unfortunately, not progress of the running kind.  Our new pool is practically done; the liner and decking will be done in the spring.  The company promises we'll be able to fill er up and go for a dip in May.  I'm secretly more excited by the six foot fence all the way around.  We've lived in this house for 14 years and have had only chain link fences, and short ones at that.  We seriously haven't done it sooner because we didn't want to offend the neighbours, who seem quite happy with communal outdoor living.  That's what the front yard is for, I say.  Luckily, strictly enforced by-laws require this wooden piece of heaven.  Woot Woot!

I have done a little running on the treadmill.  I did what I thought was a killer hill workout -- quarter mile hills at 8% with quarter mile jogging in between.  Thought my lungs would explode and managed 4 of them at progressively faster speeds.  We've signed up for the 10.8k (automatic PR for 10.8k!) Egg Nog Jog in Georgetown on December 12, which I know vaguely is northwest of Toronto.  Check out the elevation here.  Yikes.  I think every run til then should be hillwork.

Last weekend Phil and Tim ran the Chilly Willy 10k in Mississauga.  I was a little raced out so cheered for them at the end (then promptly skeedaddled since it was, indeed, Chilly).  The course was apparently a little short, but both guys were super quick and would have had an official PR if it was really 10k.

Tim just before the finish line.

Phil about to finish -- crazy crowd support!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Busy week

Whew!  I'm exhausted.  I've only run 3.5 easy miles since Saturday's intervals because of huge and exciting developments on the job front.  I'm starting a new midwifery practice with a friend and colleague.  Practices in Ontario are funded by the provincial government, and a delay in the budget approval process meant a delay in finding out if our proposal was successful or not.  Whoopee!  We were! VERY long wait.

But I did make it to boot camp last night.  This is my fourth 4-week session and it's just as hard as it was at the beginning.  My weights are heavier now and I put more into the exercises, even when the instructor isn't looking.  I tried it out because I really only like classes at gyms, so thought I should only pay for them.  They are fabulous in the warmer months -- all outside, rain or shine.  The wintry sessions are in a junior school gym and it does bring flashbacks. Sore shoulders and quads today for sure. Bodybusters is the one I go to, but there are several around the city.  Something different every time.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

I did my first interval session today.  Knowing what a suck I can be, I'm starting easy with the speed and hillwork, or else I'll be able to talk myself out of second sessions.

Last week I did my first hills and loved them.  I found a hill that is probably a little short - 180m - but it's steepish and on a road by the Humber River that is currently closed to cars.  I did about a mile warm-up, then sprinted up the hill and walked back down, planning to do this 4 times but ended up doing it 8 because it wasn't so hard.  Hurray for me!  Next week I'll either do 10 or 12 times or jog downhill instead of walking.  But not both. Baby steps.

Today I ran to my oldest son's high school track, which was okay with him since it's Saturday and there was little chance of anyone he knew seeing me.  I planned to do 8 x 400m with 2 minute recovery in between (and let me tell you, I milked those 2 minutes with total walking).  After 3 times I was ready to cut down the reps but I sucked it up and did all 8.  I had my Garmin beeping at the right times, but hadn't realized that I wouldn't know my paces until I was done.  I had a vague goal of having all my reps under 10 minute miles and was pleasantly surprised when I was done that I rocked it.  Time to expect more from myself, I guess.  My lap paces were as follows:

1 - 8:25
2 - 8:04 (thought next time I should reduce recovery to 1 min)
3 - 8:33
4 - 8:18 (thought 2 min recovery was just fine)
5 - 8:33
6 - 9:05 (thought I should increase recovery to 5 min)
7 - 8:46
8 - 9:21 (yah, I was tired.)

The recovery time paces probably tell the story more -- very funny to see how much slower I walked each time.  Got to learn to pace myself, but I'm happy with my first effort.  Didn't think I could run that fast.

If that 14 year old son of mine was still 2 years old, his head would be exploding with excitement because we have some new toys in our backyard.

These are life-sized, baby!

Since the kids weren't interested, Phil and I went out and played in the dark after the construction guys left.


The pool should be ready just in time for Christmas, as long as Western Canada keeps its snow to itself.  Maybe I should learn how to swim.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

The girl and her machine.

Usually, I would be referring to myself and my husband in the title, but my new machine is actually this bad boy:

It only took me seven hours to put together, while having CSI reruns playing on the TV continuously.  Whew.  I was exhausted.  Every muscle ached just from putting it together.

I need to find the remote.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

The races so far. Part 3

After the high that was the Waterfront half, I was pumped to keep racing.  We signed up for the Zoo Run October 16 and had a blast.  No big hills, but lots of small ones.  It felt like we were never running flat.   I've really got to learn to take in my surroundings a bit more though, since the only animals I saw were Canada Geese.  I dodge enough of those (and their poop) along the lake and the Humber River trail.  Other people say there was a zebra and some monkeys out.  Finished in 1:08:xx; PR in a race but I've done it faster in training.

Summary:  Cool day, animals hiding, giraffe on medal.
Brush with greatness:  We thought the guy from Blue Rodeo was there, but it wasn't him. Does that count?

The next weekend we ran the inaugural Audi Best Buddies 10k, which had to be my favourite race so far and taught me to sign up quick for races that have high-end cars in their names.  It started and ended at Shops of Don Mills, which is a new outdoor chi-chi-la-la plaza in suburban Toronto.  There was a chance to win an Audi SUV for 6 months, followed by an Audi convertible for the next 6 months.  I was sure I would win the raffle.  They also said they would have celebrities, which I glossed over quickly as I still had free cars on my mind.  The day was wet and cold and the 10k went in and out of Sunnybrook Park (very nice) with lots of hills (not very nice).  I finished in 1:07:xx (another PR). 

First time I`ve ever chicked a guy!

They had hot mini ham and cheese sandwiches with a hash brown (yum!) and we continued to hang out in the rain for the car draw.  Luckily, Starbucks was open by then, so we could be warm at least on the inside. Little did I know that we were about to be dazzled by celebrities.  2010 Olympic medalists at every turn, someone from the original 90210 and some actors from a new Canadian show whom I didn`t recognize. Dazzling!  Reid Coolsaet, that super fast Canadian runner, was there too, so I picked him to stand with for the picture.

Me, Reid Coolsaet, Gold medal Ice Dancers Scott Moir & Tessa Virtue, Phil, Tim,
 Gold medal Freestyle Skier Alex Bilodeau and Bronze Medal skater Joannie Rochette. 
 Summary:  Didn't win a car, excellent medal, silver blanket (for a 10k?) and snacks, learned importance of hillwork.
Brush with greatness:  Too many to mention again (see above photo op).

Finally, last weekend we raced Hamilton's Road2Hope half.  Signed up a couple weeks before, really didn't put any heart into training and boy did it show.  I realized that I need to take these things more seriously if I want to improve my time.  Finished in 2:31:35 (9 minutes slower than my PR) and Phil AGAIN beat his PR to come in at 1:51:02.  We went with our friend Mel who also smashed her half PR.  Woot woot!

Most (all?) of the water stations were manned by high school students who were great at cheering.  At the last one, I was coming in without other runners around and I think they were bored.  There had to be 20 of them all asking "Water?  Do you want some water?  How about some water?"  I was being very polite - "No, thanks.  I'm good, thanks.  Got my own, thanks" until one guy yelled at them "LEAVE HER ALONE ALREADY!  GET OFF HER BACK! SHE DOESN'T WANT ANY!"  It was very funny.

But the best part was stalking TWO bloggers whom I have been reading since last year -- the fashionable Laura and the red M&M herself, Marlene.  Both ladies are as sweet in person as they seem on their blogs.  I caught Laura just before she left to get to the start line for the marathon, so didn't snag a picture, but managed to see hubby-supporting Marlene on the sidelines somewhere along the half route and yelled to her.  Then I continued my stalking as she  waited for him at the finish line.  Very cool.

Marlene is the nicest woman ever.

Mel had forgotten she put her gloves in her hat;
she doesn't usually wear it like that.

Summary:  Flat/downhill course, fabulous soup post-race. Let's not talk about the gravel finish or the 3-mile long last kilometre.  I'd rather forget.
Brush with greatness:  Laura and Marlene, of course.

Hurray, I have a follower!  Check out the very funny Neil at Because all the Cool Kids are Doing It for a great give-away.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

The races so far. Part 2

The Acura 10 miler in the takes-itself-too-seriously-Distillery-district in July didn't go so well.  I was going into it in a very emotional state that had nothing to do with running and should probably have just cheered for Phil and our friend Tim.   Heat + sobbing + wanting to yak made for an unfortunate performance. Finished in 2:05, about 10 minutes slower than my slowest training run.  Redemption is mine next July.

Ugliest medal ever. Might have been my attitude.

Summary:  Personal suck fest.
Brush with greatness:  Mr. Peanut and winner Reid Coolsaet (fastest Canadian marathoner on Canadian soil or something.) 

July's Erica's Wish 10K in Mississauga to support osteosarcoma research and kids with cancer was started by the family of young Erica Scharff, who seems to be doing well in her fight, and is held every year in Erin Mills Park close to her birthday. It had that family-run feel, and most of the volunteers seemed to know her, but was quite professionally done.  Could have done without the mile long 45 degree hill in 35C heat at the half-way point (my perception may be off here) but coming back down was nice.  Finished in 1:10 and I do blame the heat and hill.  There's always something.
Very cool necklace in lieu of medal.

Phil and Tim, with his first banana ever. Really?

Summary:  Nice race through a park but mostly on fine gravel.
Brush with greatness:  Erica!

Speaking of suck-fests, Phil and I, with our sights set on killing the Scotiabank Waterfront Half Marathon in September, decided that we should do a practice half first.  Unfortunately, the only one we could find on an off-call weekend was the inaugural Bayshore Race in Owen Sound August 29 (about 2 hours from Toronto).  Up we went, dragging the boys with us and stayed in the only hotel in town with a swimming pool, so they wouldn't hate us too much.  I was sick with a virus the week before and thought I was better, but it all came back about half-way through the race.  Finished a disappointing 2:40 something (I think I was 95th out of 100, but refused to look it up); Phil was in at 1:56:xx.  No medal, just a commemorative towel.

That's me loving the timer malfunction.  I guess they didn't believe
anyone would take more than 2 hours to do a half.
Summary:  Beautiful 1st half, hilly 2nd half in full sun.
Brush with greatness:  Not so much.

Ah Scotiabank, how I loved you. We used Phil's hotel points to stay at the Marriott right at the start/finish line of the September race instead of fighting for a downtown parking space. Phil travels endlessly for work (Platinum member no less) and the hotel decided to upgrade our already free room to give us the Presidential Suite.  Holy cow.  Three huge rooms, full fridge, TVs in 2 rooms so the boys didn't have to go to sleep at 8:30 when we did, and a 12-person dining table which converted for billiards. Sweet.  Oh and the weather was perfect, the course was flat, it was in the best city in the world and I beat my goal of 2:25 by 3 minutes.  Phil had a PR too coming in at 1:54:xx.

Our boys Sam and Charlie staking out a good spot. 
  Summary:  Couldn't have been better.
Brush with greatness:  Outgoing Toronto Mayor David Miller and the elites at the turn-around on Lakeshore.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The races so far. Part 1.

I started treadmill running in November 2009, totally wimping out of Canadian winter.  I'd only lived here for 42 years, so I wasn't acclimatized yet.  That first run in March on the road was an eye-opener -- much harder.  I felt like I was starting all over.

I convinced my husband, an occasional runner, to sign up for a motivational race.  First one was a 5k along the Toronto Waterfront Trail in April - the Earth Run - done with a couple of friends who were also new runners.  As you might expect, the race was  all about the environment blah blah blah, so no bibs, no porta-potties, no water, no timing. Also wasn't really 5km, more like 4.7, though I'm not sure how that saved the planet. But we did get cool t-shirts and free passes to the Green Living Show. Finished in about 32 minutes and called it a PR.

April 2010.  That's me (reflecting), husband Phil (middle),
runner friends Melodie and Tim (far right) and Melodie's husband Steve.

Being a non-runner, Steve walked the 5k and reported later that cops were dragging a body out of Lake Ontario as we ran past.  I know Toronto's a big city, but this was unusual.  None of the runners noticed. 

Summary: Short course past a crime scene, no water. We were hooked!
Brush with greatness:  Corpse, but I never did find out who it was.

The next race was part of Mississauga's Bread & Honey Festival in June.  My colleague, a marathon runner, convinced me 15k was no big deal.  This was also my first exposure to seasoned runners' under-estimation of hilliness.  Rained for the first half.  It took me 1:41:xx and speedy Phil finished in 1:19:xx.

But the medal (our first!) was SHAPED LIKE A BEE.  What's better than that?
Rain had made the blackberry all blurry.  We WAITED for this photo op.

Summary: Well run event, good community vibe and coolest medal ever.
Brush with greatness:  146 year old Mississauga Mayor
Hurricane Hazel McCallion.

Next ran the Pride & Remembrance 5k as part of Gay Pride celebrations downtown. The race was on July 3 and didn't start until 10am.  It must have been 32C (89F) by that time, but I guess with all the previous night's festivities, they were afraid no one would show up any earlier.

Forgot the camera, but this picture captures the spirit of the morning.  Fabulous!
 Finished the race in 31:12 (PR!) and Phil was ridiculously faster than that.

Summary: Great atmosphere, well organized, awesome costumes.
Brush with greatness:  Judy Garland and Olympic skater Brian Orser.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Biting the bullet.

I've been reading running blogs for a year now, the same amount of time I've been running.  Must be some connection.  I'm feeling like it's time to add my own piece to the Internet.  The title was the brain child of my brainy child #2.  The ambiguity is intentional, so make your own meaning.  Here are some suggestions:

-  She's STILL RUNNING this race.  Shouldn't she be done by now?
-  She's STILL RUNNING? She doesn't usually stick to things.
-  She's RUNNING so slow, it's like she's standing STILL. 
-  The guys on M*A*S*H had a STILL RUNNING in their tent.

I'm really just trying to kick-(re)start myself as I don't seem to be getting any faster.  Maybe having the whole world read about my progress will help.  Because I am totally expecting the whole world to come read this. And then I'll run faster.

I live here - the best place ever -

with these guys - the best guys ever -
doing this job - the best job ever.
 Life is good.