Wednesday, February 29, 2012

leap day

Happy Leap Day everyone! It probably isn't much fun from ages 4 through to about 13, but after that, I've always thought it would be fun to have been born on February 29th. Sure, you don't get as many birthdays, but think of how big a party you can throw if you've got 4 years to plan it.

Since I'm one of those fancy pants thinky types who likes science and numbers, here's a little something explaining exactly how and why the leap year works the way it does:

According to 30 Rock, today you should be wearing blue and yellow, watching a movie starring a creepy Jim Carey as "Leap Dave Williams," and making lots of extra money - Jack Donaghy style. Ladies - if you've been waiting for a proposal, apparently today's the day that St Patrick agreed that women could propose to men (because apparently it isn't allowed any other time).

And if you're a runner - why not participate in the One Day Run. One day to run around the world. Log your miles on their Facebook Page - and for each of the first 1,000 people who log their miles on their wall, they'll donate $1 to the Ronald MacDonald house. You get to run, they get to donate to charity. Everybody wins!

Enjoy your February 29th!

Monday, February 27, 2012

running in a winter wonderland

In the last few days, Montreal has gone from clear sidewalks, residual snow, and warm temperatures to snow everywhere, really icy sidewalks, and a bit of a biting wind. But the good news was that yesterday it was sunny. And on the beautiful sunny day, we ended up running in a winter wonderland.

(source)
When the sidewalks ended up being an icy and slippery mess, we ended up re-hashing our planned running route and headed up "the mountain." We figured the packed snow of the paths there would be a better alternative to the slick sidewalks. Sure, it meant a lot of uphill, but the scenery was so very worth it and I was disappointed that I hadn't brought my camera.
(source)
Sharing the paths with walkers, runners, dogs, kids, snowshoers, and cross country skiers (no bikers today, but I ran into some on the same paths last winter) was kind of cool. All sorts of people out enjoying the winter weather in their own ways. We also may have run into Canadian royalty of sorts. We're pretty sure we saw Justin Trudeau and his family enjoying a sunny Sunday in the park.

By the end of the 11 miles my legs were definitely feeling the hills and my stabilizing muscles are still feeling the effects of having to work extra hard with the slippery conditions (and my right ankle is a little sore from stepping on the wrong part of a crunchy piece of ice), but the fresh snow on the branches of the trees and the sun hitting the snow on Mount Royal definitely made it all worth it. No sleigh bells though...

Is there a part of your city that ends up being more beautiful when winter comes?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

unbreakable - runners, not action stars

TV coverage shows us what the front of a marathon looks like. Graceful gazelle-like runners running their hardest for two and a half hours on the flat(ish) roads of a major city. Definitely impressive and fun to watch. Ever wondered what it looks like at the front of an ultra-marathon? Not nearly as graceful, wickedly gritty, and just amazing to watch. Especially when said ultra is one of the most famous and one that has 5,500 m of cumulative climbing.
(source)
Unbreakable: The Western States 100 (starring ultra runners who are tougher than both Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson combined) may not have quite as much of a twist as the M. Night Shyamalan version, but it has more excitement and many more beards. It follows 4 top ultra-runners who meet at the 2010 Western States 100, each of whom have a legitimate shot at winning the race and breaking the course record. Spoiler-alert - the winner SMASHES the course record (as does the second place finisher).

As someone who hasn't run for longer than about 2 and a half hours, watching the almost effortless strides of these guys running at the 9 hour mark is kind of incredible. Between the beautiful scenery, live race footage (which must have been crazy to film), and great back-stories on each of the runners, this is a really cool look at what it is like to be a top level ultra runner.


It kind of made me want to skip right over the marathon distance and head straight to ultras. Now while I know my body is not at all built for that (I'm a delicate flower who can't handle high mileage), I do hope to find a way run more trails once spring and summer come around. That kind of scenery just puts a smile on my face even with all those hills.

If you get the chance - check out Unbreakable. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

three things thursday - a return edition

It has been a while since I've done a three things Thursday post. Since I have half of another post written but feel like it isn't done and needs some editing, I figure why not bring back the three things Thursday this week?

Thing 1: At this time last year, I was preparing for and writing my first calculus test of the semester. I still can't believe I got 98% on that first test and 91% in the class. I didn't do even close to that well in my high school math classes and somehow I pulled that off. I guess not wanting to get my ass handed to me by a bunch of kids was great motivation.

Thing 2: More unseasonably warm temperatures again this week! I probably could have run in capri pants again today...but I stuck with long pants instead. Is this the global warming/climate change I've been warned about my entire life? I don't know. But for this winter I'm enjoying it.

Thing 3: I've had "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego" by Rockapella in my head for about a day and a half. How random is that? But it got me thinking about the show. I remember thinking how awesome it would be to be on the show and track the likes of "Double Trouble" and "Vic the Slick." I'm pretty sure that show had the best puns on television.

What was your favourite TV show when you were a kid?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

sunny monday miles

This weekend was a long weekend for me. Not all provinces "celebrate" the family day holiday...in fact, Quebec doesn't recognize it. But since my workplace is technically in Ontario, I had a long weekend. We had some friends in town for the weekend so I pushed my long run to Monday in order to be a good host.

The bad thing about running on Monday was that my normal long run buddies got their miles on on Sunday.  (Which means I also missed out on coffee with them.) The bonus? I got to run some of my miles with my husband. He had a recovery run to get done and since my long run pace and his recovery pace are pretty close, I had company for 6 miles.

Before I left, I was feeling tired, low energy, and I was a little concerned about how it would go because I'd be running through what would normally be lunch time. But, I had to get the training run in so off I set.

As usual, my body was much more cooperative than my mind thought it would be. I felt sluggish all over for the first 15-20 minutes but once I had been running for about half an hour things loosened up and I started to have more fun. And started to actually enjoy running in the sun on a Monday.

Best part of the run:  I managed to run the last two miles at half-marathon pace. (hooray!)
Worst part of the run: For the first time ever, my calf seemed to be threatening to cramp near the end of my run. It was a really odd experience and I really hope it was just a one time thing.

And to make you laugh - here's a gem of a joke that comes courtesy of my 4 year old nephew:
Knock Knock!
Who's There?
Fox.
Fox Who?
Fox YOU!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

things that are awesome - capri pants in february

Last night, I ran in capri pants, a short sleeved shirt, arm warmers, a light jacket, disposable gloves (you know- the ones you can buy for 99 cents at the drug store), and a visor. And the visor was to keep the rain off of my face.

Practically unheard of in February around these parts. Clear sidewalks, warm temperatures, and good company made the rain easy to ignore.

Tell me something that was awesome for you this week.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

the amazing technicolour running shoes

There is someone in my office who always compliments my shoes. Since I'm not in the office all that often - I tend to wear my most fun shoes when I'm there (because let's be honest, as much as I love my slippers, it is fun to wear real shoes every so often) so she sees my "best" shoes, but I love the compliment none the less.

The last time I was in the office, she and I had a conversation about shoes and when I mentioned that I liked to find fun shoes, she asked if my shoe love caused any friction with my husband. I, very confidently, said "No. He has more shoes than I do. Yes, they're running shoes, but he has a lot. And they're all very colourful. I think he's disappointed if he can't find a bright colour."

I promise you, I wasn't kidding. I gathered up some of my old running shoes last week to get rid of them and suggested that Jordan do the same. Before we put all the shoes in a garbage bag, we decided we needed a picture.

my need for having things in straight lines is twitching right now. 
Yup. That's twelve pairs of his running shoes in various states of wear. Some are retired and some are in use...but all were kicking around the closet. And no, this wasn't the first time we have taken such a picture - but since the last one (which was taken in the fall), he's added an entire row.

So no. I definitely don't feel bad buying a pair of shoes now and again.

Monday, February 13, 2012

five things about me- part four

I've decided to make the theme of this five things post "the younger me." So here are five things from my past.

1- My last year of high school, I won a band award. I didn't know I was winning the award - I figured that as usual, I was at the awards ceremony because I had achieved honours. When my name was called, I didn't realize it was me until I noticed that everyone was staring at me. The guy (who the award was named after) called my "Kristy" and absolutely butchered my last name so that it was unrecognizable to me. 4 years later, my sister won that same award...but no one mispronounced her name.

2- My first glasses were red. Much like Sally Jesse Rapael's.
yup. i was pretty cool.
3- I was such head-case in elementary school that one of my teachers decided to sit me next to one of the bad kids to help loosen me up. That same kid pulled my chair out from under me once and I fell and hit my head - which made me cry.  When I told my teacher why I was crying, she thought I said "hair" instead of "chair" and thought I was crying because he pulled my hair. I was humiliated she'd think that I'd cry over something dumb like that.

4- My husband's cousin was in my ballet class (and was my ballet exam partner) when I was 6 or 7.

5-  I once got yellow-carded in a volleyball game because after the ref called one of my team mates for a lift I said "Lift? Lift my ass" a little too loudly. I think I was the only one on my team to get carded while sitting on the bench.


Tell me something random about the younger you.

(and if you want to check out some other things about me there's part 1, part 2, and part 3)

Friday, February 10, 2012

happy birthday

Today is my husband's birthday. When he woke up this morning he decided that birthdays should be like Christmas - with stockings filled with presents and big meals. Sorry dude- that's reserved for another guy's birthday.
(source)
But I did promise him bacon...so I think that makes up for the lack of holiday-esque celebrations. Or at least it will at least make him forget about it temporarily.

Thanks for believing in me, being my biggest cheerleader, and dealing with my crankiness when things go wrong (or when I just think things go wrong...like having to fill up the car with gas).
I hope this year brings speedy marathons (hopefully a great one in Boston), good times, and lots of laughing.
And beer too. You gotta have beer. Who knows- maybe there will also be another excuse to play soccer in your suit. Whatever the year brings - I'm glad I get to be with you through it all. 

Happy Birthday Jordan! And sorry that the number one hit the day you were born was by Captain and Tennille. (well, that was the US number one hit...in the UK it was by Kenny Rogers...I couldn't find the Canadian number one. I'm putting my money on Tom Cochrane or Anne Murray)

Thursday, February 09, 2012

to make you laugh II

In November (and perhaps November 11th wasn't the ideal day to post it) I posted one of the pictures I look at when I need to laugh or smile. One that works every time. Well, I've managed to find another. I'm not sure where I found it or I'd link to the source...but it just makes me giggle.

hello?
Hope it makes you smile- or at least makes you think of something else that makes you smile or giggle every time you see it or think of it.

Happy "Friday eve"!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

things I wish I wasn't so good at

There are some things that we're good at and some that we're bad at. Some things we wish we were good at and of course, a few things we wish we weren't good at. Here are some of those things that I wish I wasn't good at.

Sticking my foot in my mouth. I have a talent for trying to be funny but sounding not so funny and probably horribly insensitive. It happens more than I'd like to admit, but I think for the most part, the people who know me well know that I have these temporary lapses of judgement but generally mean well.

Pushing the snooze button. I honestly can't tell you the last time I got out of bed right after my "first" alarm. I purposely set my alarm "three snoozes" earlier than when I have to get up. I guess I'm a gradual riser? I bet I would do well with one of those dawn simulation alarm clocks...

Feeling guilty. I am really really good at feeling guilty. Unfortunately, I tend to randomly remember things I've done way in the past and feel guilty about them. That feeling of dread is not something I enjoy at all.

Wasting time on the internet. Seriously. Why do I spend so much time looking up stupid things on the internet? I waste far too much time looking at random things. I wonder how productive I could be doing other times if I only gave myself 10 minutes of random computer time a night...

The good thing about this time wasting on the internet though? Finding Garfunkel and Oats. Yeah - I'm a little late with that discovery, but better late than never? Regardless, these ladies are funny. I recommend that you start with "Pregnant Women are Smug." (although starting with F**k You isn't bad either...cause who can argue with a good kazoo riff?)

Anything you wish you weren't good at?

Monday, February 06, 2012

afternoon run for the border

It was an absolutely beautiful weekend around these parts. The skies were cloudless and blue and the sun was so bright it almost made me forget that we still have a good 2 months of cold temperatures ahead. What did we decide to do on a beautiful winter afternoon? We made a run for the border and spent the afternoon in Burlington, Vermont.

It was a beautiful day for a drive and a beautiful day to wander in the sunshine. There was some sort of winter festival going on, so it was pretty busy, but that just made things feel more festive. We enjoyed the sun, checked out the shops, had some good coffee, and I ate the best burger I've ever had. (And I'm serious. So if you're ever in Burlington, head to The Farmhouse and have a burger. The juiciest tastiest burger you'll ever have) And since Vermont is the home to Ben and Jerry's, we of course had to pick up some ice cream to bring home:
You're gonna love my Schweddy Balls
If I'm honest, part of the reason I wanted to go to Vermont was to pick up some seltzer. I know it sounds weird- but I love a good seltzer and there's a brand sold in New England that is delicious. Polar Seltzer is a staple for my family in Vermont so they've spread their Polar love to the point where every time I am down there, I feel the need to load up. Bubbles? Natural flavour? No sugar? A perfect drink.
How long will the polar seltzer last?
No, we did not go just for the seltzer. We went for the fun of wandering around in a different place and checking out things that we don't have at home. But the seltzer is definitely delicious. We also managed to get some Chobani, Cabot cheese, Justin's almond AND peanut butters (although I could only find the single servings and not the actual jars of it), some Z-bars, and some random salad dressing that looked good but that we can't get at home. Is it weird that I love grocery shopping when I'm not at home? I feel like a kid in a candy store looking at all the options that I don't have at home.

A fun afternoon!

Are you someone who likes to check out grocery stores in new places?

Thursday, February 02, 2012

winter running tips- shoes

Last night was pretty warm for February 1st. I was very comfortable running in a long sleeved Nike running hoodie (the one I'm wearing in this post) on top of a short sleeved shirt and my regular running pants. I probably could have run in capri pants (I saw a guy in shorts- which I thought was a little optimistic) but the streets and sidewalks were so sloppy with slush and snow that all the splashing would have been quite unpleasant on my lower legs.

Which brings me to my point: shoes. Winter running is an interesting beast. Forgetting the layers and layers of clothing that can be involved, I find that the hardest thing about it is the footing and dealing with the ice and snow. Yesterday, the streets and sidewalks of Montreal were pretty much covered in slush. The melting snow wasn't draining properly because the drains were still partially frozen, so there were slush puddles at every intersection and anywhere where water could collect was full of a cold, dirty puddle of cold nastiness.

As I was running along and had to doge people, dogs, cars, and ice, more often than, not dodging those things meant stepping straight into one of those nasty puddles. Every time this happened, I prepared myself for the blast of icy water on my feet. And every time, my feet stayed dry. This lead me to say, out loud, "I love my gore-tex shoes!"
gore-tex makes me happy
I think that trail shoes might be the best thing that ever happened to my winter running. They're grippier, they're warmer (due to a little less mesh), and most importantly- they're much more weather-proof than a regular running shoe.

I have the Adidas Kanadia (I think I have the 3 and now they're on the 4) and while I do find that they're kind of heavy, they definitely do their job in tough weather. Unlike a regular running shoe, the tongue of this shoe is "gusseted" or attached to the sides so that nothing gets in your shoe from the top. They are also super grippy- the soles almost look like a cross between a suction cup and a cleat.

Thumbs up to trail shoes for winter running.

What do you find works for winter running? Do you switch up your shoes?

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

so about that half-marathon

Around November of last year, I thought "I'm not going to run a half marathon next year. I'm going to focus on the 10K distance and see what I can do." I was tired of some of the longer runs and I think I needed a little time where I was not thinking about running. So in December I took a few steps back from running. I did it now and again, but I didn't run a lot and I was pretty happy doing that. I needed the break.

Then at the beginning of January as I was trying to get back into the swing of things, I found it hard to stay motivated to run. It is cold out and snowy out and I needed a training goal to get my butt out the door. Since I am very motivated by training for a race, my favourite running enabler threw a few race suggestions my way, and guess what? There really aren't all that many 10Ks around here in the early spring to help with that motivation. So what did I do instead? Signed up for a half marathon.
I'm a sucker for punishment?
In theory, it should be a great time of year for a half marathon. The end of April should be practically perfect with respect to temperature (though a blizzard could roll in or it could be strangely hot...but in theory it should be good) and the course seems like a good one. So again, in theory, this race has a lot of potential.

My biggest trepidation? I'm not sure if I am in the headspace to train really hard for a half marathon. It takes a lot of mental effort to push myself out of my comfort zone repeatedly. I thought of not signing up because of that but then decided two things. Firstly- it is ok to train without a PR in mind if the goal is to stay motivated to run. That can be the goal. Secondly- I might feel like I'm in a different headspace next month. And if I'm running reasonably well at that point- a PR attempt wouldn't be out of the question.
Step 1: New shoes. And on sale too.
So I guess I'm running a half at the end of April! Should be fun. Do you need a race to look forward to in order to stay motivated when the weather is crappy?

*Just a note about the blog makeover. Turns out, the comment thing didn't work out and I had to switch back. Which made me angry with blogger- so guess what? I'll be switching to wordpress (for more reasons than the commenting issue). I've got my domain name, I've done some post transfer, but I'm not done yet. So I'm staying here until I'm done fiddling around- but stay tuned for the switch to inspiredbydooce.com