Friday, February 25, 2011

thursday updates- a post for friday

Who knew that all of yesterday's "list" would be crossed off by the end of the day today? (ok, so two of the three were absolutely going to be crossed off):

Item one from yesterday: The calculus test. I had a nervous stomach all day (you'd think I was running a race or something- those were the kind of jitters I had. But, I reminded myself that I just had to breathe and that I had studied as much as I could have. When I got the test and looked at the questions, I didn't want to run away screaming, so that was win number one. I did get a little foiled a couple of times, but just moved on, completed the rest of the test and came back to the questions that tripped me up. That strategy definitely worked. The question I found the hardest was the one about asymptotes. I was clearly too busy giggling about them to truly understand how to show where they were. (I knew where they were, just wasn't sure how to prove it). Regardless, I call this a WIN. (unless I get the test back and I'm completely wrong... but I left being very confident that I did not fail. I didn't "ace" it, but I didn't fail miserably)

Item two from yesterday: Registering for the race. DONE (Thanks Jordan!)

Item three from yesterday: Oh right, the test again. Can I just say how weird it was to be in a test environment after being away for so long? All these instructions on where we could sit and what could be on the desk...I forgot about all that.

And a Friday bonus item:
probably my favourite wedding picture
We got married 5 years ago today. Crazy. Anyway, my sister and I were chatting and she mentioned that it was very cold in Calgary today...I think her words were "it is cold. very cold. by the way, happy anniversary" so I said "aren't you glad it wasn't this cold 5 years ago?" (because mean old me made us go outside and take pictures) At the time of this conversation, it was -22 C. I thought "maybe I should see what it was like that day" and found out the following information from the Weather Network website:
February 25, 2006- Calgary 
Max Temperature: -12.7 °C 
Min Temperature:  -27.8 °C 
Mean Temperature: -20.3 °C
(and yes, it even snowed a little)
We both decided that we must have been too excited to feel how cold it was. Seriously- somehow I don't remember being nearly as cold as I should have been.
Happy I had a Winter Wedding
What a fun day.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

three things on a thursday

I decided that this Thursday calls for a three things post. Here are my three:
  • Today is exam day. I alternate between feeling like it will all be ok and wanting to curl into a ball and cry in the corner. I am so very out of practice for exams. I feel like I should make a list to make sure I don't forget anything. 
  • I still haven't registered for the Ottawa Half-Marathon. I'm training for it, I plan on running it, and it is 70% sold.  I guess I should get on that.
  • Holy crap I have a test today. And it is a MATH test. Oh wait, that was item 1...but I feel like it deserves a second mention because I'm kind of freaked out about it.
And since I'm feeling stressed, something that makes me laugh:
Yup, I'm very mature
 I'm breathing deeply and reminding myself that I can do this :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

test anxiety

So my first calculus exam is on Thursday. I have to be honest- I'm freaking out a bit. I haven't taken a test in many years and I haven't taken a test that required me to memorize formulas since my first year of University (which was in 1998). Have I ever mentioned that my first year of university wasn't so successful? No? Well, I probably didn't do a great job at memorizing those formulae (oh yes, I just brought on the fun spelling).

Don't get me wrong- I've taken classes and tests that involved using a formula, it's just that we got a formula sheet because the test was on whether you can apply the rules or apply the correct formula to the correct situation, not memorize them. This is generally something I'm good at. Memorization of formulae? Not historically my strong suit.

So yes, if I'm honest, I'm anxious. I can solve most of the problems fairly easily when I know what the formula or the situation is...but sometimes I see a problem and I don't know where to start. It freaks me out a little. Plus, I haven't taken a test that matters in a REALLY long time. I'm definitely out of practice.

The good news is that today's class is for review and I still have more time to study. But until that test is over (which hopefully does NOT end with me wanting to leave the room in tears), my head will be swimming with a lot of this:
If you have any words of wisdom or suggestions on coping with test anxiety, I'm all ears!

Monday, February 21, 2011

chilly but great

On the schedule for Sunday was 9 miles at an easy pace. Not a crazy long run, but nothing to scoff at... Most Sunday mornings this winter, I've either woken up to fresh snow (snow and more snow) on the ground or snow falling from the sky. This morning, I woke up to blue skies and dry sidewalks. I thought maybe I was still asleep and dreaming...
But I was indeed awake and a perfect winter morning. Sure, it was chilly (the windchill was about -20) but again- the sun was out and the sidewalks were CLEAR. I know that not all of you will understand the excitement about clear sidewalks, but I'll try to do a comparison here for you. Running in "loose" snow (so fresh snow that hasn't been packed down or snow that has been packed but is melting so it is starting to loosen up a bit) is a lot like running in sand. The footing is uneven, your stabilizing muscles work overtime, and it takes more energy to propel yourself forward. It is hard on your body and it is hard on your brain too- you're never sure what the next step will bring.

The sidewalks were clear from snow (although not necessarily clear from ice- we had a HUGE melt earlier this week, leaving some really thick ice on some parts of the sidewalks) and despite the chilly wind, it was a great day for a run. And while running (with my trusty running sidekick Suz) I could just tell that most people out there running were also feeling the running joy that we were feeling. There were springs in all the runners' steps, some guy almost gave me a high five, we kept having to reign in the pace because it just felt so good to run on a flat surface.

One of the best 9 mile (or 14.48 km for you Heather) winter runs I've ever had. Thanks weather (and thanks Suz!).

Any good long runs lately? (Or just great Sundays?)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

something completely different: yin yoga

Yesterday I decided to try something a little different- yin yoga. I went in to the class knowing only this:
Hot Yin Yoga - Most forms of yoga practiced today are Yang, they emphasize muscular movement and contraction. Yin Yoga targets the connective tissue of the hips, pelvis and lower spine. Yin postures are held three to five to ten minutes at a time. This type of practice complements the more muscular styles of Yoga and is a great aid for opening up the body and increasing flexibility and range of motion. (taken from the yoga studio's webpage)
I had no idea what these 3 to 5 to 10 minute poses would be but I knew that my hips, pelvis, and lower spine could use a little work. So off to "hot yin" I went. (originally I was not going alone, but due to some unfortunate traffic circumstances, I went to this class solo)

I expected this to be a less popular class than the others offered at the studio (usually I take the flow classes) and was somewhat right because it took place in the smaller room but was surprised that it was pretty packed! Since I didn't know what to expect, I looked around to see what other people had taken and noticed everyone had two blocks and a strap- so I grabbed those and settled myself on my mat.

As I genuinely didn't know what to expect, I was a little worried about holding poses like warrior or plank for minutes at a time but was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be a nice and gentle class that took place seated and lying down. We started with a little yang by doing some ab work, but that was only for a few minutes. We stretched our necks, our shoulders (my shoulders feel a little weird today from all the eagle arms), our butts, our was a slow, gentle, "do what works" kind of class.

I wasn't sure how I'd like holding a pose for 5 minutes- but I found it really relaxing. The music was peaceful, the room was warm and cozy (ok, hot and sweaty) and I could just lie there and let the stretch happen. It was a perfect way to close out the week on a Friday evening. I left the room feeling very relaxed and "zen-like".

The instructor helped set the tone with her soothing voice and did a great job guiding a "newbie" like me through the class. My only complaint would be the lack of quiet with which some people put away their blocks and left the room...but that seems to happen in a lot of classes. I think I just noticed it more this time because it had been such a peaceful class (ok, that AND the fact that two women were whispering to each other).
Yin yoga is definitely NOT for the times that you're looking to use yoga as a workout and it isn't for everyone. There's no muscle shaking, no "I'm not sure my arms can handle another chaturanga (yoga pushup)," and no feeling of muscle exhaustion at the end. Instead, it helps work through that tightness that you didn't know was quite so tight. I don't think I'd want to do exclusively yin yoga, but I think it is a great compliment to other yoga and to other activities- like running.

Anyone else done any yin yoga?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

making me smile today

As I mentioned last month, winter can really bring me down. The snow, the grey, the cold...and the memories of fall leading to winter are much stronger than the hope of the end of winter leading to spring. So something that is making me very happy today is this blue skies and sunshine:
wish i had caught the entire sign- next time
The sky isn't quite that blue today, but the sun and warm temperatures are making up for it. Sure, there's still a lot of winter left, but I think I'm starting to feel pull of spring instead of the drag of fall.

What is making you smile today?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

another calculus gem

Just to prove once again that I have the same sense of humour as an 8 year old boy, here's last week's gem from calculus:
Taken from Wikipedia
After explaining horizontal and vertical asymptotes (here, the asymptotes are the x and y axes) and how there can be many vertical but a maximum of 2 horizontal, the teacher turns to us and says: "So...any questions about my asymptotes?"

I managed NOT to giggle uncontrollably, but the 8 year old boy in my head was rolling on the floor...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

postsecret fun

Every Sunday, I like to read PostSecret. Sometimes they postcards make me laugh, sometimes they scare me, and sometimes they make me sad. Today, two caught my eye.
There's just something about it that made me smile. I wonder how many people will be checking their Wednesday Starbucks cups this week?

This second one just made me smile and feel all warm and fuzzy inside. No, I don't think that lying to someone is a good thing, but in this case I just find this little white lie and confession so endearing. I like to think that every time this person takes a sip of the terrible coffee, he or she actually smiles about it...

Anyway, I hope you're all having a great Sunday and that something makes you feel warm and fuzzy today :)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

another win!

Remember when I won all that GU? What I didn't tell you then, is that just the day before, I had won something else...a NUUN prize pack. Yeah, I guess I shouldn't ever complain again about not winning anything. I won this by answering a random trivia question on twitter (about an old Batman movie or episode that I had actually not seen but just took a guess) and was very excited when I WON! I was asked to tell them what my favourite flavours of nuun were and last week this is what arrived:
hydration is also important in the winter
As I have said before, I am a heavy sweater. I will come home even in the dead of winter all sweaty and with salt on my face after a long run. I also have a sensitive stomach when it comes to drinks while running. The wrong drink will make me feel terrible (I'm pretty sure that some of my stomach issues during the Army Half Marathon in 2009 were due to a bottled sports drink) but I definitely need electrolytes when I run.

I can't remember where I heard about nuun, but I'm very glad I did. It comes in tablets that you just drop into your water bottle and then 2 minutes later, you have a nice electrolyte-filled drink without a lot of sugar to upset the stomach! I like both the orange ginger (left in the picture) and the kona cola (right) for running and find that the orange ginger is PERFECT for hot yoga. I've also tried the citrus fruit- also good. Some people swear by the banana flavour, but that just sounds disgusting to me...

Anyway, I'm a huge fan of nuun and was very excited to win this prize. I'm also excited that they're coming out with new flavours in April (well, in April in the USA, not sure when the new ones will hit Canada): Fruit Punch, Strawberry Lemonade, Tropical, Grape, and Lemon Tea. I can't wait to try the fruit punch and the lemon tea!
nuun's new look (from their facebook page)
Have you tried nuun? What is your favourite flavour? Or if you haven't tried it- which would be your first choice?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

accent vlog at long last

Now that it is "so two weeks ago",  I finally got it together to do the accent vlog (which for some reason, my instinct is to say v-log instead of vlog...which is strange because I would never say b-log instead of blog). It was very awkward to do (as you will see at the end of the video, I had no idea how to end it) but now I know that it isn't that hard.
Ok- so here is my embarrassing myself for the internet to see.

For the list of words and questions, check out this post here.

One thing I don't say a lot (that Canadians are known for) is "eh". Growing up, I actually never understood why we were known for saying "eh" and wondered if it was because there are lots of "a"s in our country name. Then I started hearing it more and when I moved to Ottawa, heard it a lot (from both Ontarians and the many Maritimers that I met).  More recently, I've been told that "hey" is the "eh" of Alberta and I have to admit- I agree and I am definitely a user of "hey". The more "classic" Canadian phrase would be "I" but I say "I know...hey?"

As I said in the video, I'm now living in Montreal. Montreal is in the francophone province of Quebec and is a VERY bilingual city. Most anglophones are also fluent in French and most of the francophones are also fluent in English. For people whose first language is English, there are even three distinct "accents" in Montreal depending on your background- which I think is really fascinating. If you are a dork like me, you can check out the Montreal Gazette feature on Anglophones in Montreal here.

So there you have it. I don't think I have an accent- though I feel like I picked up a bit of "Ontario" when I lived there. Any words surprise you? My sister did the video too- do you notice any differences even though we grew up in the same place?

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

if it is made of snow, is it safe for work?

This is what Canadian kids (or not so kids?) do to keep themselves occupied during the long, cold, snowy winter:
sorry about the poor quality
 It is really quite impressive- the head is either a poodle or a horse and the other thing- well, I didn't get close enough to see if it was more like a poodle's or a horse's...

Unfortunately, all that remain now are the two main snow balls (sorry...that just sounds bad doesn't it?) because the rest has been knocked down, but it certainly made me laugh this morning.

What's the strangest thing you've seen made of snow? (or sand if you're in a land without ice or snow)

Sunday, February 06, 2011

peach tea gu chomps- thumbs up

 I had 9 miles on the schedule today and usually 9 miles is in the "maybe, maybe not" zone when it comes to needing nutrition for me. Sometimes I need it, sometimes I don't, but I'll often bring something with me just in case. Since I woke up to about 10+ cm of snow instead of the forecasted 1-2 cm, I figured I would need a little extra "oomph" and figured I'd dig into my stash of GU. I decided on these:
 And since I promised to tell you about the products that I won, here's what I thought.
I had no idea what they would taste like, but figured that since it was decently warm for winter, it was fairly safe to assume that they wouldn't freeze up and would be chewable instead of rock hard. Since there are 2 servings per bag, this was a perfect sharing opportunity.

Suz and I decided to dig into them once we got to the top of the "mountain" (sorry- I know they call it the mountain here and it is indeed a mountain, but when you come from the Rockies, it is hard not to put it in quotation marks). We had been going uphill for about 3 miles and needed a reward.

The verdict? For running fuel they were really tasty. You could taste the peach, you could tatse the tea, and only a hint of that carbohydrate flavour that I associate with products such as this. Both of us thought they reminded us a lot of jujubes (with a hint of saltiness) and agreed that we were glad that we decided to chew them while standing instead of running because we thought we might have had a tough time with how big they are while running. We both gave them the thumbs up for a training fuel. I definitely wouldn't use them in a race though because of the chewing factor.

My only other experience with a "chew" instead of a gel was in the form of another company's "bloks" and while I know other people love them, they almost made me throw up. These were gentle on my stomach (I chased them with some water) and did the trick with helping me with a little boost part way through my run. It was much easier after the chomp break...but then again, it was pretty much all down hill from the top of the mountain. Suz also really loved that they were called "chomps".

So- our rating: 
Peach Tea Gu Chomps: 2x caffeine and 2x thumbs up

*I won this product and did not buy it

Thursday, February 03, 2011

gems from calculus

As I said last month, I'm taking a calculus class right now. Sometimes it makes me feel smart, sometimes I feel dumb. Sometimes it makes me want to cry, but every so often, the teacher come up with something that just makes me laugh. Here is today's gem (and I quote):
Have you heard of the "squeeze theorem"? No? Well, you'll find that it makes a lot of sense.
And then he proceeded to draw a graph that looked a lot like this:
And an explanation that looked a lot like this:
The limit
\lim_{x \to 0}x^2 \sin(\tfrac{1}{x})
cannot be ascertained through the limit law
\lim_{x \to a}(f(x)\cdot g(x)) = 
\lim_{x \to a}f(x)\cdot \lim_{x \to a}g(x),
\lim_{x\to 0}\sin(\tfrac{1}{x})
does not exist.
However, by the definition of the sine function,
-1 \le \sin(\tfrac{1}{x}) \le 1. \,
It follows that
-x^2 \le x^2 \sin(\tfrac{1}{x}) \le x^2 \,
Since \lim_{x\to 0}-x^2 = \lim_{x\to 0}x^2 = 0, by the squeeze theorem, \lim_{x\to 0} x^2 \sin(\tfrac{1}{x}) must also be 0.
(both graph and example taken from Wikipedia)


(ok, to be fair, the theorem actually does make intuitive sense as a theorem, but it is really hard to think about demonstrating and "calculating")

My poor 30 year old brain is hurting...I'm glad I had time for a run today. And hey, who needs weight training when I had all this snow to shovel?

Hope you are all having a great week- does anyone have any fun plans for the weekend?

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

on being Canadian

Ok, so this isn't a patriotic rant, but rather something funny my mother sent along. I don't know if it is actually a Jeff Foxworthy original, but it has been attributed to him in the email and seems Foxworthy-esque. Here are some highlights (with my occasional commentary in italics):

If you have switched from 'heat' to 'A/C' and then back again all in one may live in Canada.

If you carry jumper cables in your car and your wife knows how to use may live in Canada. (I had no idea it might not be normal to have jumper cables in the car)

If your local Dairy Queen is closed September through may live in Canada.

If you design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a may live in Canada. (This fun fact actually kind of sucks- it was hard to be something "cool" for halloween when you had to think about layering and snowsuits)

If you measure distance in may live in Canada.

If the speed limit on the highway is 80 km/h, you're going 95 km/h and every one is passing may live in Canada. (Umm, are there "real" highways with 80 km/h speed limits? I'm from Alberta where the speed limit is 110 km/h and found it annoying to go to BC with it's 90km/h speed limit. In Quebec and Ontario it is 100 and sometimes that seems silly)

If you know all four seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter, and road may live in Canada.

If you fine -2 degrees a "little chilly" may live in Canada. (-2 Celsius is indeed a "little chilly" but -2 F is I guess it depends on your scale of measurement)

If you've worn shorts and a parka at the same may live in Canada.

To go along with this, I'm hoping to be able to record an accent/regional speech video to go along with those that have been popping up here, there, and everywhere. Since I've never actually recorded video before, this may be more challenging than it should be, but hopefully it will work out so that I can play too.

So- do you relate to any of the "you may live in Canada" statements? Any words that you think I should say on the video (if I can make it work) that will show either my accent (though clearly I don't have one ;-) or "regionalisms"?