Thursday, January 27, 2011


If you are a runner- are you jealous? Or maybe you're thinking- ooh, you just spent some serious cash on running nutrition. Serious cash? NO- should you be jealous- well, only if you like free stuff :)
Late last week I read a post by Steve in a Speedo asking us to guess what magical new product he was sent to sample (he was one of 26...TWENTY SIX TUBES in THE WHOLE WORLD...yeah, they were a little dramatic, but why not?). I saw the tube and thought "hmmm...looks like Nuun but I know that nuun has already announced their new flavours so that can't be it...sooo...well, Gu does a lot of internet promo, so I'll guess it is Gu Electrolyte tabs." And guess what? I was  right. Hooray!  As usual, however, I worried that being Canadian would eliminate me from the competition, but the promo company (thanks OutsidePR!) decided that I was indeed eligible and I was declared the winner.

I honestly had no idea what I'd get (except that it wouldn't be the new product because that won't be released until April) but was thrilled to bits (and felt a little like frayed laces) when I received the following:
  • 2 bags of Watermelon GU Chomps
  • 2 bags Cranberry Apple GU Chomps
  • 1 bag each of Strawberry, Orange and the new Peach Tea flavoured GU Chomps
  • 2 Jet Blackberry GU gels
  • 2 Mandarin Orange GU gels (a newer flavour)
  • 6 Cherry Lime Roctane Gels (a brand new flavour that I've been curious about)
Since GU is usually my go-to running fuel (if you haven't tried the GU mint chocolate, and you like mint and chocolate, do it!), this is a prize-pack that I'm very excited about- and the only flavour I've tried out of any of these is the Jet Blackberry, so almost all of these are new to me!

I'll let you know how I like them (and I'll try to get some feedback from Jordan as well since I will clearly share with him- especially because he'll be running much higher mileage than I will for the next little bit). 

Anyone else have a favourite running fuel?
And just to make you jealous one more time:
(sorry Heather-I know you would have guessed the same thing, I guess my time zone payed off this time)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

winter running

Feels Like: -27 
Wind: W 13km/h 
This is what the weather network told me was waiting for me outside when I checked the temperature pre-run. Part of me wanted to scream like a little girl and go back to bed, but I had a running date and I also just wanted to get a run in. So, I consulted my winter layering post from last year to try to decide what to wear. I was a little disappointed that I hadn't put the temperature on that post so I would know what worked at what, I decided that I'd try again- new year, new post about winter layers- this time with a temperature!
Here's where I started:
Top: Lululemon sports bra. They don't make it anymore, so the closest thing to it is probably the 50 rep bra. It is quite supportive, but not all that attractive. (the 50 rep is better lookin' for sure)

Bottom: Lululemon- a "full back" version of the technithong. As I said last year- cotton underwear + running in the cold = BAD NEWS.

Those black things: CEP compression sleeves. wore these both for warmth and because my shins felt a little twingy earlier in the week so I thought they might be helpful. The added bonus was extra warmth :)

The next layer:
On top I have the tank I got as part of my participation on Team Alzheimer's for the Covered Bridges Half Marathon. I find that when it is cold, it is nice to have a tight wicking layer close to my body. It wicks the sweat, and it is an extra layer between me and the cold wind. When it comes to tucking things in, think Steve Urkel- tuck it in and hike it up!

On the bottom- MEC lightweight (I think) long john. Again- great to have a wicking layer on the bottom too. I have never had cold legs while wearing these long johns...I've worn them under my running pants, I've worn them under my jeans, and I've just never had cold legs. Plus, they are a bargain!

Ok, what layer is next? (yup, -27 means there are a few more layers)
Right- this one:
On the Top: It is ok to be sick of seeing and hearing about my favourite long-sleeved running shirt. I should really write a love letter to the North Face about it. It is soft, it is comfortable, it is warm...I wear it all the time (Caitlyn-style even).

On the bottom: These lululemon pants were in my last layering post as well. Again- the higher rise on them is really nice for the winter to help keep everything covered and out of the wind. I still don't know what they are and they don't make them anymore. (I'm 95% sure they aren't a groove pant though and a lot of the other styles they're selling now are newer, so they aren't those either)

Ready for the next layer?
 On the top: A Nike thermal half-zip up with a hood. I think it is an older version of the "Element"and I love it. I love how soft it is, I love that if it isn't too cold out, I can wear a short sleeve shirt underneath and I'm good with just this as the top layer. I've had it for a couple of years now and every time I wear it I'm glad I bought it.
Socks: Wright Sock "Cold Running" socks. I cannot stress the importance of good running socks enough when it comes to winter running. In the summer I like to have as little sock as possible, in the winter, I like to have as much sock as possible. These keep my feet warm and if they get wet, they get that water away from my feet as quickly as possible.
Hands: Pearl Izumi "Shine Wind Mitt" These are new to me this year. I like that there are grippies on the fingers. They're good on their own when it is a little warmer outside, but not when it is super cold.

Hat- Running room "Vapor" tuque (pronounced "toe-kay" with a southern accent, "touk" if you're not southern, and no, it is not a toboggan) is lightweight and does the job.
Mittens: Yup- those are the red Olympic mittens...and they're great for running. They're warm and they're big enough to go over a base layer. And they make me feel extra Canadian :)
Jacket: Asics. I don't know the name of it, but it is waterproof and windproof and adds a LOT of warmth. Sometimes too much. The down side of it is that it is really short- if it hadn't been 50% off, the shortness would have prevented me from buying it. But, since I'm always going to have a layer underneath a jacket, I figured it was ok for the money.

So- the real question after all these layers is: WAS I WARM ENOUGH? (or perhaps some might ask if I was TOO warm)
The answer: I was mostly fine.

I stole a scarf when I picked up Suz for our running date because on the way over my face was cold and at one point my ears got cold because my sunglasses were creating a pocket that the wind could get in...but after a quick adjustment, all was well. When the wind died down and I was running up the mountain, I was a little warm, but when the wind was out in full force, I was happy with my layers. For -27, I was feeling good! Both Suz and I joked that we felt like sausages trying to move around, but staying warm was well worth the bulk!

(and congratulations if you made it through this post! i should have edited better)
So- what is your limit for cold weather running? Any cold weather running tips to share?

Friday, January 21, 2011

back to school

As some of you are already aware (from my complaints on twitter, facebook, and my in-person whining), I am taking a calculus class this winter/spring. Why you ask? Well, I'm applying for a graduate program that feels that in order to take this (and some other courses):
 (which I've actually already taken an introduction to)
you must first have a "good knowledge of differential and integral calculus at the level of a CEGEP or first year undergraduate course." So what does that mean? Well, a lot of this:

and perhaps some tears of frustration for the next few months. Had I completed this class during the first year of my undergrad degree (which was in 1998-yikes) I would have forgotten it completely by now but would have the credit and would not have to take it in 2011. So I'm a little bitter, but since one of my goals this year is POSITIVITY!, I'm going to try to make the best of it.

Yesterday was the first day of classes and here are some highlights:
  • I was NOT the oldest person in class (I don't think). I'm pretty sure the lady sitting behind me was older. 
  • My teacher is the quintessential math geek and I love it. This may or may not work against me. He is clearly very knowledgeable, but I fear that he may not know what it is like not to "get" math and therefore may not know how to explain things differently.
  • Some guy in my class (who came in late) was wearing so much cologne that it burned my throat, gave me headache, and blurred my vision as he walked by. I had forgotten that some guys feel the need to stink up their entire surroundings. (which really should not have come as a shock. there used to be a guy at work that would spray cologne while in his cubicle and I could literally taste it for the next half hour)
  • Laughed to myself as the teacher read from the course outline "text messaging is not allowed in class" at the same time as the girl in front of me was sending a text message.
  • Do these notes count as highlights or lowlights?
(no, I didn't take a picture in class...not sure I could do that)

Yesterday we started reviewing algebra and polynomial functions- things that I think I understood when I was came back a bit, but my goodness am I going to need to study. It should be an interesting few months as I work full-time, try to get all my running in, try to get in some time on the bike trainer, and try to learn all about calculus. I see a lot of scheduling, meal planning, and organization in my future :)

So- have you ever had to go waaay out of your element to end up feeling like the old dog learning new tricks? (and anyone really good at calculus that can offer to tutor me?)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

winter blahs?

I know- it has been several weeks since I blogged and I blame the winter blahs. It is dark, it is cold, I'm still getting over a bit of an illness, and I'm tired. Plus, life doesn't seem quite as interesting in the dead of winter. But, since one of my goals this year is POSITIVITY! here are some of the things that I'm doing or thinking about to turn those winter blahs upside down:

Good news! The days are getting LONGER...sure, the sun sets at 4:32 pm today, but next week it will be a little later, and the next week it will be even later than that! And before I know it, it will be spring. Right?

I'm listening to a new (to me) podcast called Stuff You Should Know. Not only is it informative and educational, but it is funny too.  We know how I like learning, science, and all sorts of random this is the perfect podcast for me.

Cooking. One of the other things I've been trying to do the last couple of weeks (and one of my goals for at the very east the winter and spring...hopefully the summer and fall too) is to cook different things. I was in a bit of a recipe and cooking rut in December and had zero inspiration to try new recipes and to really cook at all. But- it is a new year and I'm trying to cook new and different things! Last week I made soup (with bacon in it...mmmm), I made chili (using dried beans for the first time- unfortunately I undercooked them a bit but I'm learning), and I made cornbread for the first time (yeah, I know...first time making cornbread at 30?). This weekend I made cookies and today I'm making a variation on this black-eyed pea stew using dried (yup, attempting dried again...I actually had no choice since my grocery store only had dried, not canned) black-eyed peas.

I'm trying to do more yoga. Whether it is in the hallway of my apartment when I get up in the morning or at the yoga studio, I'm trying to "get my stretch on" and to calm my mind.

And finally- I'm trying to be thankful (or for lu- count my blessings ;-). Every day, I'm thankful for at least one "every day" thing that I forget I should be thankful for.

I'm sure there will be more winter days that feel like blah...but hopefully the majority of the days will have me smiling.

So- what are your strategies for conquering the winter blahs? What works for you?