Tuesday, June 30, 2009

simon whitfield- i love your gusto

Really, really, love your gusto.
I saw this picture on Monday and have been thinking about it ever since- so I thought I'd share.

And just in case the picture isn't enough, I managed to find some video footage. I wish there were a couple more cameras so that we could see the sprint finish even more, but this is pretty darn good:

I love a Canadian athlete that loves to win. And Simon- I'm glad you got your Olympic revenge.

Monday, June 29, 2009

reason #452 as to why i'm happy to be moving

I like a lot of things about living downtown. There are many reasons, however, that I'm glad I'm moving OUT of downtown on August 1st. Reason #452 happened yesterday.

I was coming home after picking Jordan up at the airport (yaaaay, he's home. AND he didn't even have to take the bus back from the airport) and was pulling into the driveway (read, a tiny paved path between our building and the one next to it) that leads into the (tiny) parking area behind our building. There were some questionable looking people walking into the parking area...and by walking I mean sauntering at a snail's pace. Now, most people have not seen how tiny the driveway that leads into the parking area is. We have a small car and IT barely fits between the two buildings- so by sauntering, they were forcing me to wait. And since I knew they weren't going to be up to anything all that savoury back there, I had to honk. And so out most of them sauntered, though I kind of figured there were a few others back there.

We (finally) pull in and park to see a drug deal going down. Oh yay. At that point, Jordan said exactly what I was thinking: "not much longer and we'll be out of here"
Yay! (this time without the sarcasm)

Friday, June 26, 2009

eek, thunder!

I'm not normally one to be afraid of a little storm, but the couple of giant thunder claps that I've heard in the last few minutes actually got a bit of a reaction out of me. Perhaps it was the fact that the first happened in brilliant sun light and that the second, which happened about 3 minutes after the first, happened in dark cloud cover. Hopefully that means it is a short and fast moving storm that won't be around for long. Because people were all chatty about tornadoes today and although I know there is no such warning right now, the "T" word itself kind of freaks me out. Perhaps I watched The Wizard of Oz one too many times as a kid. Or perhaps it was a friend in elementary school who one day convinced me that as soon as I got off the bus I should grab some food and head to the basement because she was SURE the sky looked like tornado-bringing sky. That's right, I believed an 8 year old who had no idea what she was talking about and to this day am perhaps a little scarred by the experience (thank goodness I remembered that box of Wheat Thins when I headed to the basement though).

Regardless, I have a fear of anything natural disaster related and I'm very glad I grew up in a place that is pretty much natural disaster proof. (seriously, unless you are afraid of very changeable weather, Calgary is the place to be if you are nervous about natural disasters...none of them happen there)

And just as a bonus, and to get my mind off the weather, here are a few pictures that a friend snapped of me just as I crossed the finish line last week. I like that you can tell I'm eyeing the clock in the first two photos.

(and it looks like i actually pulled away from orange shirt and didn't let her catch up...pretty cool!)

And just to show that I really am all over the place today, check out the latest Healthy Tipping Point post to see what kind of attention Operation Beautiful is getting. It is pretty cool. (and if you aren't interested in reading about the pancake party even though it looks delicious, just scroll to the end)

So how's that for a disorganized mess of a post on a Friday afternoon? Yup, I'm sure glad it is Friday.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

remember when I said it wasn't puddle of goo hot?

Well, it is now getting pretty close to that. The humidex is about 40 degrees and my apartment is feeling pretty toasty. I am thankful that my bus home was very air conditioned, and I am very thankful for the breeze that is helping me feel just a little bit cooler.

I'm definitely not running until later tonight when it cools down a bit...lets just hope those thunder storms don't ruin my chances of getting out there.

In other news, things are looking up on the apartment hunt front- we might not be hobos come August 1st after all...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

a strange day

My days are not usually nearly as eventful as today was.

First off, I had an unfortunate morning that involved getting a couple of blocks from the bus stop (that since April when they changed up the OC transpo routes, is further away than it used to be) only to remember that I didn't have my bus pass. I was listening to my ipod at the time so I had zoned out enough not to know if there was anyone around my as I dropped a few choice words. Oops.

I quickly realized that even if I (literally) ran home and back, I wasn't going to make my bus...so I had resigned myself to the fact that I would be later than usual to work. As I walked home and, before 7am, realized that I was already sweating, I was kind of annoyed. Then I thought "wait a second...I have a CAR...a car that could get me to work...ON TIME...maybe even earlier than normal." But, if I was going to drive, I had to make it worth the parking cost. So, when I got home, I threw some running stuff together and figured I'd miss rush hour home by parking along the river, running somewhere that I hadn't run before, and then driving home.

So what started off as a crappy thing, actually turned into something nice...because it was a nice run despite the heat. Luckily it isn't too humid (so the 29 degrees that it was when I was running only "felt like" 31 instead of something closer to 36) today, so it actually felt kind of nice to get a hot run in. That being said, I looked forward to the shady patches AND the cold bottle of water I had in the car (in my new water bottle- i love it...it is a little heavier than the one i lost by leaving it on an airplane, but the fact that it keeps things cold AND that you don't have to taste the metal makes it a winner!). As I was running, all I could think was that I was glad I had forgotten my bus pass...(plus it allowed me to see another apartment on the way to my run...yup, i showed up to an apartment viewing in my running clothes...nice place, but unfortunately the bedroom was so small that our bed probably wouldn't fit...and neither would most people's queen sized beds)

So things were looking up (waaaaay up). I had to stop and get a couple of things at the grocery store on the way home (still in my sweaty running stuff...yum!), but all was well. I prepped the first part of dinner, showered and was finishing up with my dinner prep (put some edemame in the microwave) when all of the power went out in the kitchen. Hmmmm...the music (which is in the living room) was still on, but no power in the kitchen. I opened the fuse box only to disover that we still have old school glass fuses in there. Great.

Being pretty electrically incompetent (and not wanting to really fix anything- cause I'm tired and hungry and it is hot), I call my land lord...he's not home. Then I called my mum- cause she MUST have had old fuses before...she'll know what to do...nope, she didn't (but what did she do? she called HER mum to see if it was safe for me to try to do it myself). Did I mention it is pretty hot out and my fridge was no longer running? No? Well there's some darn good stuff in there and I don't want it to go bad...(there's stil ben and jerry's in the freezer after all). So I called Home Hardware to ask them a) if they carry fuses and b) if i bring them the old ones, can they tell me what to do? They said yes, and we're open until 8pm just bring them on in(at this point it is almost 7). Just as I'm about to leave, my land lord shows up at my door, with fuses, to save the day. Yay! (this whole time I'm texting back and forth with Jordan, who is in another time zone, telling him that he should feel sorry for me :)

When I finally sat down to eat, I was famished, had a headache, and decided that I should definitely have a beer. And so I did.

Monday, June 22, 2009

monday monday....

It is Monday, I'm tired, I don't have a lot to say...but I seem to be on a roll and I don't want to break it. For those of you NOT in eastern Ontario (I'd say that would be most of you)...it is HOT. Not melt away into a puddle of goo hot quite yet, but somehow we seem to have skipped spring and gone right into summer. My third floor apartment feels humid, sticky, and a little claustrophobic.

Anyway, I went on a nice little bike ride yesterday instead of running. I think it was a good thing for my legs and I'm very excited to run again tomorrow even though it will be hot- so I think the bike ride worked! Hopefully I'll be just as excited tomorrow when the humidex rears its ugly head.
Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

emilie's run- my first 5K

Believe it or not, up until yesterday, I had never actually run a 5K race. I've done two half marathons and several 10K races, but somehow I've just never signed up for a 5. So Emilie's Run was my first 5K- and I highly recommend it.

While I was training for my back from stress fracture 10K, a friend (and running buddy) and I decided that once we had our Ottawa race weekend races under our belts (she ran the half), we should try a 5K. We figured that the timing of about a month after race weekend was pretty good since it gave us (mostly her) time to recover, and the hopefully do a little speed work in the couple weeks leading up to the race. We figured we'd be shooting for a sub 25 minute 5K.

Unfortunately for me, life kind of got in the way and the couple of weeks leading up to this race ended up being full of car buying, apartment hunting, family gatherings, and funeral type activities. And unfortunately for my friend, the same couple of weeks involved sore shins and a potential cold. So neither of us had very high expectations going into this race, but we figured it would at least be kind of fun to race with several hundred other women.

And it was! Women everywhere! With their kids, with their friends...it was a fairly light and happy atmosphere. We were chatting in the line for the bathroom, chatting on the way to the start, and chatting at the start. But once the "go" went, it was all business. Ok, not ALL business...but mostly business...especially for the front runners.

My race started as it usually does: too fast. My watch put my first kilometer in and around the 4:40 mark (that's a 7:30 mile for those of you who don't speak metric :). Both my friend and I had a laugh and an "oh crap" moment when we saw that 1K timing mat. I think she said something like "that was a pretty quick kilometer there Kristen..." (I was setting the pace for us at that point) and I responded with "that's how I roll...I start off quick and pay for it later". That drew a few chuckles from the women around us.

And pay for it I did...'cause our second kilometer was right on pace- 5:00 minutes. Then the hurt started to pour on. First the elites flew buy on the other side of the loop...and I wasted a bit of energy cheering for them, but I couldn't help it... At the 3K marker (3rd K was way off pace at 5:11) we started the slight incline and I'm not going to lie to you, when I saw a couple of people walking, I kind of wanted to join them. But then we passed someone and I felt a little better.

We hit the 4K mark at 19:58. When I looked at my watch, I couldn't decide if that was a good thing or a bad thing. On one hand, I was going into it thinking that there was no way I could hit the sub-25 and here I was right on pace for that. On the other hand, I was pretty tired and wondered if I could pull out another 5 minute kilometer. Luckily, my friend was right next to me and was running strong- and there was no way I wasn't going to keep up.

I knew we were close, so I kept thinking "embrace the pain, embrace the pain" and instead of thinking "but it hurts so much, who cares if I go a little slower" I pushed the negative thoughts out and replaced them with "yup, it does hurt, but I can handle this for now...and I WANT to go faster".

Unfortunately, part of the last 500m turned from wide open road to a tiny track through the parking lot that only had room for one person. We ended up a little boxed in, and when it opened up to a wider section again, I could see the clock ticking...all I could think of was that I had to get to the finish line faster. The seconds kept ticking away, but as I accelerated to the finish, I knew I would beat the clock. And for the first time, I crossed the finish line smiling.

Official chip time: 24:56 BUT there was no timing mat at the start, so I'm going to go with my watch time of 24:53 (which might even be a second or two slow) because that puts my pace at a 4:59/K and that just feels like such an accomplishment! Regardless though, I was (and still am) really pleased with it. I really didn't think I would do it and throughout the race I convinced myself and proved to myself that I could.

So how did I like the 5K distance? I really enjoyed it. It hurts a lot, but it hurts for a lot less time. And I really loved that the post-race "ugh..i feel like death...seriously, i think i might die...or puke, or fall over" didn't last long at all. And nothing cramped or tightened up once I stopped running. It was kind of refreshing to finish a race smiling. Plus, there was a kids 1K fun run after the 5K was over. They were adorable, hilarious, and some of them so very serious. I think watching the kids may just have been my favourite part of the day.

And so, I had fun and was happy with the way things went- I call that a resounding success. (and thanks Jordan for being in full support mode!)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Just thought I'd put this in for today. I ran a women's only 5K today and really wanted to stick a note in the bathroom saying "you are a great runner,* and you are beautiful too" but with all my pre-race stuff going on, I didn't have the chance. I did have a good race though. And I got to see one of Canada's top female runners come flying by since it was a loop course. I'll post a recap and some pictures tomorrow.

*I got a text from my sister saying "you are a great runner" the day of my "back from stress fracture" 10K and it made me smile (and almost made me cry).

Friday, June 19, 2009

a beautiful run

I promised run pictures from Vermont- and here they are. Every time Jordan and I go there, we always seem to say "you know, I'm a city person, but I could probably live here for at least a little bit" Here is why:

Seriously...I got to run here. Sure, I felt pretty terrible the entire time, but I blame that on the circumstances of my trip there and the fact that there was alcohol served a pretty much every meal...but the scenery made the "oh dear god, if the house isn't around that corner i might just lose it" feel just a little better.

(and he just kept getting further and further away)

I hope you enjoyed the pictures as much as I loved taking them. They were all taken around South Londonderry, Vermont. A beautiful place if you ever get to visit- as is most of Vermont actually...I highly recommend driving through Middlebury if you every get the chance (and checking out the Ben and Jerry's factory in Waterbury isn't so bad either...if you go on your birthday you get free ice cream!)

and notice the new pic on the sidebar that links directly to operation beautiful...join in and make people (and yourself) smile

Thursday, June 18, 2009

back at it

Well, I've been back from Vermont for a few days now but haven't quite had the time or energy to post. I think I'm good now.

I guess I'll start with the bad news first which was that on Sunday the 7th, my grandmother died. She had been suffering from Alzheimer's* for quite some time, but fell and broke her hip in May. This made for a rapid downturn. It was strange though because I talked with my dad on Saturday and he mentioned that they had taken her off all of her medications except for the pain meds. When I asked if I should head down there within the next few weeks, he said that I didn't have to worry immediately and should plan for the summer because the doctors figured she had about 6 months. The next day he called me with the news that 6 months had turned into about six hours. So it was kind of shocking, but kind of not.

That started a frenzy of activity that had actually started on Saturday when Jordan and I bought a car. YAAAAAY! After going 4 years without one, we are now with one. We ended up getting a 2009 VW City Golf (who has yet to be named). We are quite happy with it- especially because we ended up spending quite a bit less than we thought we would. Anyway, the frenzy was to try to get the car (which could not be picked up without insurance) in time to travel to Vermont for the funeral and all the accompanying activities. Since we bought one in stock (and got a rebate because of that- another yay) it was possible, but we almost hit a snag with insurance. Since neither of us had been insured in Ontario before AND no longer had our Alberta driver's licence numbers, we had a bit of an issue. Luckily, we had some connections and someone was able to look that up for us (THANK YOU!)...so we were able to pick it up in time to drive ourselves AND my mother down to Vermont.

We were also able to drive ourselves to an apartment that we were looking at...but ended up not taking it because we weren't sure about space and also I was just unable to make another decision at that point.

So why do we need a new car and a new apartment? Because Jordan got a contract as a professor at a university that is 3.5 hours away. Hooray for a job! (the market is pretty tough right now) But it means having an apartment here (it doesn't make sense for me to leave my job since for now the job is only one year) and one there. He'll be teaching Monday to Thursday (most likely) so he'll be there for that part of the week and here for the rest of the week.

So yes, things are a little chaotic around here right now...so if I lose the capability to use complete sentences and paragraphs, please forgive me.

I managed to take some pictures on a really beautiful run in VT last week though- so stay tuned for those. Until then, check this out...a great idea. I'll have to get out my post-it notes.

*(and on the Alzheimer's note, I'll be hatching a wacky plan in the next few months to try to raise some money with my family...so hopefully i can make it work and tell you all about it)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

heading to the green mountain state

I'm not ignoring the posting, it has just been a crazy week of many life stresses. When things (good and bad) happen, they tend to happen in bunches. It seems to be the way I roll (you know, like the time I got engaged, planned a wedding, quit my job, moved across the country, started living with Jordan, and tried to find a new job all in the span of a few months). I'll be back with good news, sad news, and hopefully some good pictures...and with any luck, some stories of a run or two through the hills of Vermont. Until then, enjoy the week, and I'll try to eat some Ben and Jerry's for you.

Friday, June 05, 2009

adventures in greek yogurt

If you read many American food sites, you may have noticed one of the newer crazes in yogurt: Greek. They talk about how healthy it is, how thick it is, and how tasty it is. At first this was very confusing to me, as the only types of greek style yogurt I find around here are in the 5-10% fat range (don't be fooled by the Mediteranee claim that it is creamy without the sin...though the lemon is really quite delightful). I suppose that's not bad if you compare it to ice cream, but for yoghurt, that's a lot of fat.

Then I started to poke around the food blogs and saw that down in the states there are low fat greek yoghurts just about everywhere. They rave about their oikos, their Chobani, and their curiously pronounced Fage. I was kind of jealous. It looked so thick and delicious and was low fat! (i just flashed back to the Seinfeld episode with the frozen yogurt and the mayoral election) So the next time I was in the states, I gave both Chobani and Fage a try...and I loved it. It was as thick and delightful as I thought it would be, but of course it only lasted so long. So I went back to my regular yogurt and every so often bought a little of the 10% stuff.

A friend at work also loved the fabled american yogurt and had a brilliant idea one day at Costco: make her own greek yogurt. It is essentially just strained yogurt. She tried it, it worked, and so I tried it too. The results- delicious

So, here is how you too can make your own thick and delicious low fat greek yogurt:

Start with plain yogurt without any extras like gelatin in it. (I used the 2% Liberte because it comes in a two pack at Costco) Pour the tub of yogurt into a strainer lined with something like cheese cloth or paper towel (paper towel worked just fine for me).
Let it sit for a bunch of hours (I left mine overnight). Depending on the size of your bowl, you may need to dump some of the liquid after a couple of hours so that the bottom of the strainer isn't resting in the liquid. (You might be surprised as to how much liquid actually gets drained. I know I was) And voila- thick, creamy, low fat greek yogurt. And it really is thick. In fact, it might take a bit to get used to just how thick it is...but I'm guessing that if you find it a little too thick after leaving it overnight, you can just adjust the number of hours you drain it, then there will be more liquid in it and it won't be quite as "stick to your spoon" thick:
(that isn't about to fall off either, it was happily sitting there defying gravity)
If you want a little sweetness, stir in some maple syrup or some honey. Want it to be vanilla yogurt? Stir in some vanilla (and then wonder why the vanilla yogurt in the store is still so bright white because when you stir in vanilla, it turns kind of a tan/brown colour...you know, from the dark vanilla). I like it with a drizzle of maple syrup (or some maple flakes), some fresh berries, and a little bit of granola. Mmmmmm...delicious.

So not only is that a "made in Canada" alternative to the American greek yogurts (that haven't bothered to expand their markets north), but if you buy that double package of plain yogurt at Costco, it is actually cheaper than the ready made strained yogurts like Chobani.

If you try it, let me know how it goes.