Thursday, January 28, 2010

on being canadian

This should probably be more accurately be titled "on living in Canada", but whatever.

There are some really great things about where I live- universal health care, freedom of speech, a very clear separation between church and state, lot and lots of space (3.2 people per square kilometer or 8.6 per square mile...at least that's what Wikipedia says), and all the hockey you could ever want. When people bump into you they apologize (or just refer to the shirt they are wearing), we can laugh at ourselves, and we have a goofy looking prime minister with a penchant for bad vests. Sure, there's the seal hunt scandal and all of the shenanigans that go along with it....but all in all, I love it here.

But good lord Canada- does any other country put its residents through the painful differences in temperature that you do? Just three days ago, I was running in capri pants, it was 8 degrees, it was rainy, and it felt like spring. And guess what it is supposed to be like tomorrow morning:

Temp: -20
Feels like: -30

Yes, I know I'm posting about the weather, but goodness gracious...it just doesn't seem fair. It felt like spring and at the time I did know that it was just a tease, but I guess I hoped that the -30s wouldn't come back.


Monday, January 25, 2010

climate change- not ALL bad

This morning I awoke to an unfamiliar sound (well, unfamiliar for winter anyway): RAIN. It was raining and raining pretty hard. I wish I had thought to take pictures because the frightening sheen of water on ice on the sidewalks between here and work were enough for me to complain and for Jordan for him to offer to drive me to work before he had to leave.

It rained and rained and rained all day. It rained so heavily for most of the day that I was pretty sure that I'd be getting soaked when I ran this evening and I wondered if I'd have to stick to sidewalks that I knew would be clear of ice. But then, as I looked outside a half hour before I left work to go home, I saw sun! Sun and clear sidewalks! Then I checked the temperature and it was 8 degrees. EIGHT! as in almost ten! I couldn't believe it.

It almost felt like a celebratory run. I was wearing capri pants! Capri pants, no gloves, no hat...and of course, a GIANT smile:

(yes, that blue thing is a foam roller and yes, I wear that red shirt a LOT)
Sorry for the crappy picture. I was too excited to get out and run to worry about picture quality :)

Sure, my feet got a little wet from the puddles and there was an icy patch or two, but there was sun (well, for the first part anyway...then it set) and the sidewalks were clear and my goodness, I was only wearing ONE layer. It was such a far cry from a day such as the layers in a previous post that it almost felt like I was in another place. I'm sure the other people on the path (unless they were runners...because they understood) wondered what the heck I was up to- grinning from ear to ear like that.

So that made MY day and perhaps my week. Has anything made your day recently?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

interesting reads

A few things I've read in the last few days on some of the blogs I like to check out:

If you're interested in a different perspective on aid and African orphanages, go on over to the things i know, read the article she suggests (or you could read it here). I found it really interesting.

Want some cheap tips on how to eat healthy on a budget? Check out Frayed Laces. She's said herself that she doesn't guarantee tastiness, but she does guarantee CHEAP. (she's a grad student after all)

Ever wonder just how intense a waffle craving can get? I doubt you can read this "Ode to Waffles" without wanting one.

Interested in someone's take on "getting fit" instead of "getting thin"? Check out Eating Journey. Her post really made me think...but sort of in the opposite way. I don't have any weight to lose, but if someone told me that gaining 15 pounds would make me the fittest I'd ever been, what would I think? If it meant that I was a little "fluffier" but could run a marathon in 3 hours and 40 minutes, would I choose vanity or would I take the 15 pounds? (obviously this is really rhetorical because I'm not sure how me gaining 15 pounds would make me fitter, and it would take a heck of a lot of effort, but whatever)

I hope you enjoy the reads- I sure did.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

a confession

I have a confession that I'm not really all that proud of. I do this in secret and feel a whole lot of self-loathing as I do it. What is it that I've been doing? I've been watching The Bachelor.

I don't even know how it happened. One second I was ignoring it and the next I was drawn in to the tales of the man who has been described as "too perfect" and his harem of bachelorettes. You see, I can get it "on demand" (for free) and last weekend I decided to watch the premiere and it was just downhill from there. There were girls who were crazy, girls who were bitchy, girls playing games, a girl who seems 29 going on 40, and girls who just seemed to good to be true. Then there was the teaser of the girl who had an affair with a guy on the production team and knew I had to watch more.

I've never really been an avid viewer of the show. I've watched an episode here and there, but I think that when it comes to this season I may be "in this for the long haul" (as some of the ladies on the show like to think they are). The unfortunate thing is that he seems to have kicked off two of the most entertaining ladies of the bunch (Elizabeth and Michelle) but we've still got a bikini model who has weird lips, the girl all the other girls hate, and a single mother who while she seems sweet as can be, I can't help but think she's going to get her heart broken. That and there's a girl that every time I see her at the rose ceremony, I wonder what is up with her hair...and sometimes, that's just good TV.

Is there hope for me? I have no idea.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

GU Brew- a review

Yeah- sorry about that title, but I just had to do it.
Ok, down to business: GU Brew.
I got a couple of "sachets" (or, you know...packages) of GU Brew in my Christmas stocking and figured that this weekend was a good time to try it out. My stomach was a little off this morning before my long run so I figured "hey, perfect time to try something new...my stomach isn't sensitive to new sugary substances at all!" Ok, that's not what I was thinking. What really happened was that there was only a tiny bit of gatorade left (as in, not enough to fill what I needed to fill) and I figured now was as good of a time as any to try the new brew. It wasn't until later that I thought "hmm...my stomach is a little off...hopefully I don't regret this."
Right, back to what I thought of it. GU Brew- here's what it looks like:

I should have taken a picture of the back of the package for nutritional information, but I forgot so check out the website's nutritional information here. While this might not be a bonus for everyone, that little section at the very top of the package caught my eye as a good thing: 2x Sodium. As I have mentioned previously, I sweat a lot and I'm quite a salty sweater (I come back from a run in the middle of winter with salt on my face) so sodium is a good thing in my mind. Other than the extra sodium, the rest of the nutritional stats look pretty normal as far as sports drinks go.

So what about the taste? It kind or reminded me of Rockets (or smarties if you are from the states). This might sound like a bad thing, but compared to the super sweetness of most Gatorade flavours, I kind of enjoyed the tartness of this blueberry pomegranate concoction. I find that with Gatorade, once I take a sip of it, I have to rinse my mouth with water afterward to get the nasty sweet taste out of my mouth. And while this is probably a good thing for my teeth, it can be kind of annoying. With the GU Brew, I could tolerate the "aftertaste" a little better. It was kind of nice not to have to immediately rinse the taste out of my mouth. My only thought is that I have no idea if I'd like the flavour if it had been a little warmer. It is one thing when I'm running in the winter and my drinks are nice and cold...it is another when they are warm from running in the heat. I'm not sure this one would taste as good warm, but there are MANY months until that happens.

Most importantly- what about my belly? As I said, my tummy can be a little sensitive to sports drinks and as I also said before, my stomach was already a little off before I ran this morning so I wasn't sure what to expect. The verdict? My stomach was just fine! I had no issues with the GU brew today. Even combined with a GU gel (mmm..chocolate mint- I'm pretty excited that they'll be stocking this flavour year-round now) that I had partway through my run.

The Verdict? GU Brew gets a thumbs up from me. I'd consider getting a full tub of this. I also got a little package of the raspberry flavour, so I'll wait until I try that one before I decide on what flavour I'd buy (I might also have to try the orange...I tend to be a fan of orange drinks and if the orange has the tartness of the blueberry pomegranate, I think I'd really like it, but the orange doesn't have the bonus of the extra sodium), but my overall experience with this was positive.

Have you tried GU Brew? Did you like it? What's your favourite sports drink when you're out on a long run or ride?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

man i'm boring- winter layers

Seriously boring I tell you. I just have nothing to say because I don't feel like there is much going on. I go to work, do my work, work out at lunch, come home, run, eat, sleep and then repeat. I don't make anything particularly interesting or picturesque for dinner, so that isn't all that fascinating. So, since I don't feel like have a tonne to say, in honour of the crazy cold weather that has been hitting the southern states, I thought I'd outline a typical cold weather running outfit for those of us who ALWAYS have to bundle up in the winter. The key, of course, is layering.
Layer 1:
(yup, that's right, I just posted my underwear on the internet. lovely)
On top, the "Athletic Deep V" tank from lululemon. I'm guessing that what I have is version I or II of it, but I think the website link is pretty close to what I have. I like it because it is supportive (hence the no sports bra as layer 1) and wicks away all the sweaty goodness that pours out of my body when I start to run. On the bottom- Technikini briefs also from lululemon. Cotton on the butt is NOT good for winter running (or really any running) because you sweat, it gets wet, it stays wet, it gets cold and it freezes. Frozen booty is NOT a good thing.

Layer 2:

 
On top- my very favourite running shirt by North Face. I think it might be an "Impulse Tee". Regardless, it is part of the "Flight Series" and I love everything about it. Tech fabric, soft, thumb holes (or as they call them on the website "monkey thumbs"), well cut...just a really good long sleeve running shirt. And of course- it keeps me warm. On the bottom- a pair of New Balance tights (similar to these). These are new to me- I've only worn them since Christmas because my sister picked them up for me at a really good price. They're my first real pair of "tights" and they are a nice base layer on the bottom. They are tight at the ankle so that the wind and snow can't get at my bare ankles, they have a pocket, and they're pretty darn comfy. On the hands- "Vapor Gloves" by the Running Room. They kind of sound bad-ass with that name, but mostly they are just a good base layer that is nice and wicking (do you sense a theme? you need sweat wicking in the summer AND the winter).

Layer 3:
On top- another new sale item from New Balance- the Nbx Wind Blocker Mid zip. I quite enjoy this one as well. It blocks the wind well, has a soft layer that touches your skin (not that it is touching any skin at these temperatures due to being a top layer) and a pocket! I love the pocket! It fits my ipod, a GU and even a pocket warmer. Plus it (and the pants) has a pull out tag that allows you to write some "in case of emergency" contact information (have I actually written anything on it yet? no, but that's beside the point). Most importantly though, it is wind proof. Wind blocker is in the name and wind blocking is VERY important in the winter. On the bottom- a lululemon pant that I don't know the name of. Regardless of their name, they are a good late fall, winter, early spring pant. They have a bit of a soft slightly insulated layer on the inside, so that's nice, and while this usually ISN'T something I like- they are a bit of a higher rise. In the winter, a higher rise pant is kind of nice because it adds an extra layer around your middle. I've come home with "pink belly" before because my middle wasn't adequately insulated. While these pants aren't windproof on their own, when layered with the New Balance tights or a pair of long undewear (i have some MEC brand long johns). 
On my head and neck- the Vapor hat and neck gator. I got a gift set that had the gloves, the hat and the "neck-warmer" (also in the picture) and they are very useful pieces for winter running.  
On my hands- random knit rainbow mittens. When it gets really cold, it is nice to have two layers on my hands and as gross as it sounds, the wool is good for wiping the inevitable runny nose...And last but not least- on my feet-some "Cush" socks. The sign of a good winter sock is when you step into some slush and either don't notice or notice at first but the feeling of cold quickly goes away. There should be no cold feet in winter running!

The day of this particular running outfit, I came home from my long run with a half filled bottle of Gatorade that looked like this:
Slurpee anyone?
Because of that, I often bring more water and/or gatorade than I need just in case it turns into slurpee or in case the nozzle freezes and I can't get anything out. And just to get an idea of how much I sweat- my gatorade was slushy, parts of my hair were frozen, but I still had salt on my face when I came in.

So that's a little idea of what we northern winter runners have to bundle up in when the temperatures plummet (and I've run in colder temps with more layers...). Is it worth it? Almost always yes. It can be frustrating to have to pull on so many clothes and sometimes the wind is just punishing, but overall, it isn't so bad. (although running on fresh "loose" snow is really quite terrible)

Hope you are all keeping warm wherever you are and hopefully I'll have some fun stories to tell soon.

Monday, January 11, 2010

marathon quest 250

Have you heard about marathon quest 250? In 2010, Martin Parnell is going to be running 250 marathons. 250 marathons in 365 days! He wanted to do 365 in 365 days, but his wife had his doctor "talk some sense" into him and they decided that maybe he should take couple of rest days week. Most of the marathons will be run around his home in Cochrane, Alberta- he had a course certified- but he'll be doing some "live events" as well.

(photo taken from his website)
Why is he doing this? To raise money for Right to Play (a pretty fantastic charity).  He's running a marathon as his "day job" from Monday to Friday...to raise money for charity. I think it is pretty darn fantastic. Check him out on the website and on twitter. If you are in the area, maybe you can run with him!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

team alzheimer's: the fundraising begins

My first half-marathon was the 2008 Covered Bridges half marathon. Why? To be honest- I'm not really sure. I wanted to do a half-marathon and thought "I wonder if there are any in Vermont...I could go visit my family and run a half...why not?" I found this half, convinced my sister to run with me, and we started training. There is a little bit of a recap here, but here is how we looked at the end:

Exhausted- yes, yes we were.

At the race I noticed that there were fund raising teams and that one of them was Team Alzheimer's. One of the family members we were there to visit was my grandmother, who had Alzheimer's disease and was starting to go downhill faster than I thought she would. At the time, I kind of wished I had known about the team when I had signed up so that I could have raised some money.

Exactly a year later (the day of the 2009 race), my grandmother died. We all gathered to celebrate her life and as we drove to the cemetery for her burial, I started to recognize the road...the cemetery is just off the section of road that is part of the last mile or so of the Covered Bridges half marathon. It just felt too fitting and a plan started to form in my head.

In the next few months, I did a lot of emailing, some cheer leading, and some convincing and managed to convince not just a couple (I thought it might be me, Jordan, and Heather) but TWELVE people to sign up with Team Alzheimer's 2010. They are coming from all sorts of places and represent pretty much all parts of my extended family. I'm pretty exited about it.

So here is where YOU come in. We each need to raise at least $300 to be a part of the team. The funds go toward Alzheimer's programs in Vermont- programs right in the area where my grandmother lived, worked, raised her kids, and spent her last days. In the next couple of months, I'll try to tell you a little more about where the money goes and I'll fill you in on some of my training. Until then, here is how you can donate of you'd like to help.

The team has come up with levels of donation:
  • Buck a mile club- $13.10
  • Two bucks a mile club- $26.20
  • Super Supporter club- $50
  • Keep up the pace club- $75
  • Road race junkie club- $100
  • Ok, make me sweat club- $200
  • It's up to you club- $your choice
There are 2 ways to donate: either online or "in person".
Online donations can be made via PayPal. If you already have a PayPal account, log on and send your payment to Teamalzheimers@aol.com and select "services" as what you are paying for. In the messages section of your payment, please put my name (Kristen Moulton).
If you do NOT have a PayPal account, the steps are almost the same. Just go to the PayPal website, click the "send money" tab and then follow the same instructions as if you had an account. If you donate online, please email me to let me know you've done so. That way I can keep track of how much money I still need to raise.

If you would like to do an "in person" donation, please email me at k dot m o u l t o n at r o g e r s dot com. That way I can email you the donation form.

I need to raise at least $300 by April 15th! (and so does Jordan- you can donate to him too, but donate to me first ;-) Thank you in advance for your help whether it is by donating, tweeting this post, facebooking this post, emailing it to someone you know, or just your moral support.

Stay tuned for updates on fund raising, training, and just life in general. Thank you for reading and for your support!



Friday, January 08, 2010

who doesn't love free stuff?

A couple of weeks before Christmas, I saw a tweet and facebook message from the fine people at LaraBar saying that all you had to do was leave a comment on their blog (you had an hour to do so), and they would send you some free bars. Free LaraBars? Sign me UP! So I left a comment and a couple of days later I got an email from them asking for my address so that they could send me some bars. I sent it back with the comment that I wasn't sure if the "contest" was open to Canadians (they often aren't) and I honestly expected never to hear from them again.

I have to admit, I did hold out some hope- when we journeyed into Whole Foods whilst in Philadelphia (yes, that's right, to me a tourist activity is to go to a grocery store) Jordan pointed out a multi pack of mini-larabars and suggested that I get them. I responded with "well, I think I'm getting some bars in the mail" but wondered if I would regret the decision. Lo and behold, earlier in the week, look what arrived in the mail:


So what flavours did I get? From left to right: Coconut Cream Pie, Lemon Bar, Cashew Cookie, Peanut Butter & Jelly. They are gluten free, dairy free, soy free, vegan, kosher, and made from non genetically modified ingredients. Plus, they contain fruit and nuts- that's all. There are TWO ingredients in the Cashew Cookie bar: Cashews and Dates. The most "questionable" ingredient in any of the bars is "natural lemon flavour" in the lemon bar...they are just good eats. I've had the lemon bar before and it is pretty tasty. I've also had the key lime pie flavour (my very favourite), the cherry pie, and ginger snap (probably my least favourite of those I've tried).

My only complaint about LaraBar so far has been that I can't get the minis here in Canada. I'd love to be able to use the minis on long runs. I am trying to experiment with more "real food" during my long runs (GU works for me, but every so often it freaks my stomach out a little) and the mini bars seem like a good way to do it. What I'll do with these, however, is cut them up into pieces, bring part of it with me on my long run and then leave the rest at home to eat post-run.

I'll let you know how I like these new flavours (well, new to me anyway). And in the meantime, check out the new picture/link on my side bar. I'll be running the Covered Bridges Half Marathon as a part of Team Alzheimer's in June. Stay tuned for fundraising information and more about the race and why I'm running. I'm hoping to post that tomorrow :)

Have you tried LaraBar? What's your favourite flavour or what flavour would you love to try? (the cocoa mole looks interesting to me) And if you've tried their Jocalat bars- did you like them? I've been curious but haven't taken the plunge and bought one.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

ugh

Apparently I'm back, but not back to regular posting. I'll reiterate what was said to me earlier today "it may only be Thursday, but it feels like day 8" and she was right. The first work week back after vacation really shouldn't ever be a full week.
I'm definitely ready for it to be the weekend.  Hopefully I'll be interesting on the weekend.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

and i'm back

I quite enjoyed a break from most internet. Sure, I checked my email and facebook a few times, but I didn't blog, barely read blogs, thought "twitter? what's that" and just generally tuned out of internet life for a couple of weeks. The world didn't end, my computer still remembers me, and I quite enjoyed myself. Even if I had wanted to blog and tweet to my heart's content though, my time was pretty jam packed full of things to do and people to see. Some highlights:
  • A really easy airport trip and flight on the 17th. I didn't have to be there 3 hours early, I didn't end up getting randomly selected for the extra searching, there wasn't anyone sitting in the seat next to me (ok, so my seat didn't recline, but whatever), and it was warmer where I landed than where I took off.
  • Lunch with a good friend who is currently having a lovely trip. I'm glad we could meet up before she jetted off across the ocean!
  • Lots of running around, lots of christmas shopping.
  • Lots of here there and everywhere to try to see family and friends.
  • Watching kids sing at church (even managed to get a picture of one with his finger up his nose :)
  • Playing some rounds of Settlers of Catan and Frustration Rummy.
  • Visits with grandparents.
  • Runs in warm medium cold and very cold weather (at one point in my very cold run, I couldn't figure out what the weird thing was that I kept seeing out of the corner of my eye...it took me about 5 minutes to figure out that it was the icicle on my eyelashes...)
  • Seeing my sister's condo for the first time! And staying overnight too. Nice place!
  • Sushi with some lovely people.
  • Christmas with as many family and friends as could make it.
  • Bridesmaid dresses! For a good price! (and then an even better one when they went on sale and we could all get the price difference refunded)
  • Only one meltdown on my part (a little Christmas eve stress when photos weren't working out properly and I realized we were leaving in just a couple of days)
  • Mostly easy trip on the 26th (boxing day is a good time to fly apparently) although the freezing rain once we got to Ottawa was a little crazy. 
  • 12 hours at home before the next journey.
  • A highway accident that turned the turnpike view from the picture on the left, to the picture on the right:



  • The famous Rocky steps (yup, I ran up them in all the cheesy and predictable glory...it wasn't bad at all) in the middle of what was a really nice run- it was beautiful out and a great way to end a day that involved 8 hours in the car. (and yes, that red shirt is my favourite running shirt)

  • A lot of walking, trying to get jobs, a few lovely trips to the Reading Market, a scrapple breakfast sandwich (on Jordan's part...I opted for bacon and those Pennsylvania Amish sure do make great bacon), some great beer, more than a few lovely restaurants, and some good times.
  • A trip to Morimoto! (our starters were kind of iron chef like- my soup was served in a tea pot and Jordan's udon was served in a basket and he had to put together his sauce. that soup was the best soup i've ever had...and the sushi was fantastic, i took a couple of pictures, but the lighting wasn't good in the restaurant and i didn't want to use the flash. it is a beautiful restaurant with great food)

  • The Body Worlds exhibit (awesome...I highly recommend it if you have the chance to see it)
  • And a very easy drive home- without the highway accident and without the toll-booth mix up this time. We wished we had been able to go right through Scranton (of The Office fame) so that we could take a picture of the "Welcome to Scranton" sign, but it was a little too far out of the way.
  • And of course, the "LOVE" sign.


Ok, so that was a long highlight list, but we were really really busy. Once we got back to Ottawa, we pretty much crashed an haven't wanted to do much since. We've been sleeping late, staying home (which in the snow has been wise anyway) and trying recharge after all that travelling. I'm going back to work tomorrow and it will be a bit of a shock to get up early and to be back in the swing of things. Hopefully it goes well.

What did you all do on your Christmas vacation? Highlights? Lowlights?