Friday, August 31, 2012

i am not a runner

Sometimes, when I'm working toward a goal, I get a little wrapped up in thinking about it and sometimes it can be all-consuming. When it comes to running, for me, I think that this is a bad thing. I'm not a professional runner. I'm not an especially fast or talented runner. Running is something that I do for fun. It makes me feel good, it makes me set goals, it makes me work hard, it helps me stay healthy. If it causes me stress? Well that's a bad thing.
Yes - the actual running part can be hard. Long runs are tiring, tempo runs are hard work, and interval runs are barf-tastic. But that's where the hard part should stop. Thinking about running shouldn't be stressful, planning workouts shouldn't make you anxious. I'm working full time, working on an MSc, and still trying to have a fun social life...running should be the thing that helps relieve stress, not cause it.

So when I catch myself thinking too much about goals, races, and paces, I shut that down and remind myself - I am not a runner, I am a person who runs. Do I want to work hard and achieve PRs and do the best I can? Of course I do. But in the grand scheme of things, running is fun. I would rather finish slower and have fun, than finish just a few minutes faster and beat myself up for not being good enough. If it stops being fun, I should stop running. I'm hoping I never get there.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

three thank you thursday

Today, I am cranky. I didn't sleep well last night, I've been randomly cranky all week (ok, so there might be some hormonal justification for my perhaps not so random), and I just feel like being snarky and pouty. In an attempt to turn my frown upside down, here are three things I'm thankful for today.

Thing one: That I work from home. I barely want to be subjected to my own crankiness today so no one else should have to be around me. I'm so thankful that I don't have to put on a happy face, go into the office, and risk pissing everyone off.

Thing two: I am thankful that it isn't hot as balls today. If I was this cranky AND it was hot and humid? I might start throwing things. Instead - there is a cool breeze coming through the window and the temperature is on the cool side of comfortable. So pretty perfect.

Thing three: I have a 4 day weekend. When I'm done work today I will have 4 glorious days off in a row. And if by the time I sign off my computer this afternoon, the thought of a 4 day weekend doesn't un-crankify my cold, dead heart? Well, then this day is a wash and I'll try again tomorrow.

And just for good measure, a little something from my favourite cranky tv character:
maybe i should go fishing after work

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

les gags!

If you're Canadian (and maybe even if you're not? I'm not sure) you have seen at least an episode of Just for Laughs Gags (I really think that "les Gags" and The Littlest Hobo are things that, as Canadians, we all have in common). For those who don't know it, Just for Laughs Gags is - you guessed it - a gag show. It is a hidden camera show that pulls pranks that have a huge range in complexity. It could be as simple as putting a plastic skeleton in a port-o-potty and filming people's reactions, to pretty elaborate pranks that involve cutting cars in half and having two tow trucks pull it apart.

The show is mostly filmed here in Montreal...and they seem to love the Atwater Market. Why do I know they love it? Well, last year I got gagged there (though I really do doubt that I'll ever be on the air because I was very suspicious that something weird was going on) and in the last couple of weeks, I've seen them there twice, either setting up or taking down pranks.

This afternoon, they were setting up a prank when I passed them on the way out for my run:
I was trying to be stealthy...
I wasn't sure exactly what the gag was, but it involved children and noodles (and they are smart to use children - no one wants to be the jerk that says no to a child when he or she asks for help). As soon as I passed them, I wondered if they would still be there when I got back. I texted Jordan (who thought I had already been gagged...again) and I decided that if they were still there when I got back, if they tried to gag me, I'd go with it. I'm a pretty terrible actor, but I figured I could at least feign shock and say things like "MON DIEU" and "TABERNAC!" when they got me.

Unfortunately, the noodle gag was either a dud or they had gagged a lot of people with it because they were already setting up another when I ran back on the way home. So I guess I'll still have to just be on the lookout for my somewhat suspicious face in last year's gag (if you're ever watching and there's a little girl with a cake who is asking people to pick the cherries off of it...maybe I'll be there in my running clothes!) and wonder if I'll run into them again.

Do you think you would react well to a gag? Would you sign the waiver that allowed them to show you on TV?

Monday, August 27, 2012

seen on the run

As I've said before, one of the great things about running in the city is that you see some interesting things and interesting people. Yesterday's run was no different.

The cutest thing I saw: A little girl in a pink tutu and purple bodysuit riding on one of those bike extension things behind one of her parents. Her helmet even matched her ballet clothes. (Or maybe they weren't even her ballet clothes - maybe she just dresses like that)

The most peaceful: A lady on her yoga mat, facing the river, very silent and still. I love running - but for a few seconds, I kind of wanted to be her. So I tried to bring a little of that "stillness" to my mind while I was running.
photo by lululemon
The most unexpected: A guy standing on the side of the canal, facing the water, playing the banjo. He wasn't busking or performing, just playing the banjo. It was pretty great.

It is always an adventure. Happy Monday everyone!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

tipping - a follow-up

Last week I talked about a strange experience at a restaurant in Burlington, Vermont where we were warned (via note on the menu) to tip better. Just a few days later, an article about Quebecers and tipping circulated on all the online news sources: Quebecers considered bad tippers in Vermont. While I don't agree with what some of the servers are doing by adding tips onto bills (unless the menu specifically says that it will be added for large parties), apparently servers in Vermont are paid just over $4 an hour. That is not a good wage and Burlington is not a cheap city to live in. So I guess I understand their sentiment.*
do they expect 20% on coffee?
I don't really want to get into the whole tipping culture debate...I'm really not sure what I think of it and how much more I'd be willing to pay for food or for a service so that places could afford to pay their employees enough so that they don't need to rely on tips. Also- I feel awkward in situations where I don't know what the tipping etiquette is.

While it seems that the article has made some people quite angry (perhaps the 5% tippers?), I think it may have made me likely to tip more the next time I'm in Burlington.

*In a humiliating experience, when I was the hostess at a hotel restaurant, one of the things the servers and I had to do was room service. One person would be the main room service person for the evening, but in general, if things got busy in the dining room, I would end up having to do the deliveries.

One week, there was a family from Australia who was staying in the hotel and they ordered room service a few times. One particular server was always delivering to them and was really upset that they hadn't been tipping - so when she printed out their bill for one dinner, she added "15%" on the tip line. I didn't know this...until it got too busy for her to deliver the meals and I had to go up, deliver the meals, and get them to sign the cheques. They gave me this look like "who do you think you are?!" and I was too shocked to say anything other than "have a nice evening."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

what i'd eat wednesday

You may have seen it before, but just in case you haven't, there's a little something floating around the internet called "What I ate Wednesday." Most of the time, the pictures are of things like yogurt, granola, salads, food items that have the word "protein" in front of them (protein pancake, protein cookie, protein cupcake...), and more salad. Don't get me wrong - I love salad and I eat all of those things (well, except that protein stuff - I prefer the non-powdered sources of protein) but I don't find them noteworthy, so I don't take pictures and blog about them. It's just not my thing and that is why I'm not a three times a day food blogger. Good on you folks who can find the gusto to do that.

So because I feel like it, I thought I'd put a little twist on the concept and put together a "what I'd eat Wednesday." If cost wasn't an issue and if I thought I could eat and drink like that all day (not that one day of extra booze and fat would be a big deal but I'm a lightweight), this is what I'd eat and drink today. This was hard - but it's just what I would eat today. Ask me the same thing next week and it would be different.

Breakfast: Pain au Chocolat. Triple Cappuccino (with full fat milk). Perfectly ripe berries. A side of bacon.
croissant pain au chocolat beurre
(photo by EverJean)
There's not much better than a perfectly flaky croissant...except for a perfectly flaky croissant with chocolate in it. Since they are mostly butter, this isn't something that I eat every day but oh wow is a perfect pain au chocolat a little piece of heaven. Especially if eaten in Paris with a perfect cup of coffee. And you can't go wrong with bacon - thick cut, double smoked bacon.

Lunch: Pork buns and papaya salad from the Satay Brothers. Fresh Oysters and wine (they can pick it) from Joe Beef. Lime Sorbet with pick your own toppings from Yeh! (which I insist on calling Oh Yeah! because the swirl in the logo looks like an "o" and it makes me think of the Kool Aid Jug)
The Satay Brothers has a stall in the Atwater Market all summer and their asian fusion food is awesome. The pork buns are two perfect bites of saltiness and soft bun and the papaya salad tastes like summer in a bowl. Oysters and wine? Two of my favourite things and nice and fresh tasting for the summer. And if you have a Yeh! near you and they have the lime - it is delicious.

Dinner: Whatever the chef at Park wanted to serve me - with the caveat that it involves at least some sushi. A dirty martini to start and a tasting flight of Dieu du Ciel beer to go with the courses of my meal. For dessert, Jordan's rice pudding. 

Morimoto Sushi Omakase
(photo by snow pea&bokchoi)
I've been wanting to try Park since I first heard about it this spring and really need to find a time to try it. I hear it isn't cheap but that it is an "eyes roll back in your head" kind of delicious meal. Maybe it is a little bit of a cop out to say "whatever he'd serve me" but I really do think that would be a pretty perfect dinner. As for the rice pudding - if you want a delicious one, either go to the restaurant in Paris that I had perfect rice pudding with field strawberries or come to my house and my husband will make you some. The Parisian pudding is admittedly a little tastier, but the home made stuff is almost as good.

So there you have it - what I'd eat today if I a) had the day off and could just wander to some of my favourite places to get great food and drink, b) had a bunch of cash to spare, and c) could handle all that food in my belly in one day.

If you could eat anything today, what would you eat?

Monday, August 20, 2012

another saturday, another free bootcamp

Since I blogged about my first free bootcamp, I've been back almost every week. Each session has had a different trainer and therefore it has been a different style of workout. It is fun to get there not knowing what kind of workout I'll be getting.

This week was one called "Fit Camp" and was based on some of the exercises and activities that the Strong Man/Strong Woman competitors do (you know - those guys/gals that pull trucks and lift giant concrete balls). The trainer is someone who has competed before and just qualified again for the North American Strong Woman competition. Definitely not something I've been exposed to before (other than flipping channels and seeing the giant burly men on TSN and thinking "wow. that looks hard") but I figured it would be interesting.
not pictured - the giant tire
Our warm-up involved two rounds of a circuit that has us doing sandbag squats, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, stretchy band extensions (totally a technical term) and sprints. Yeah - the warm up...
i was born in the mountains, not so great at the climbing
Then we got into the StrongMan activities: lifting a weighted ball up and over a strap (i think it is normally a bar - but we were outside, so it was a strap tied to two trees), flipping a giant tire end over end and then pulling it back, pulling a weighted sled "hand over hand" on a rope, and overhead presses with a weighted wood plank.
they demoed it together, we had to pull it by ourselves
Things that surprised me: the tire flips were really fun and easier than I thought with the right technique, the wood was lighter than I thought it would be (but then we added weight and that was challenging), the giant concrete ball weighed almost as much as I do (I stuck to the 50 lbs ball instead...I could work up to a heavier one, but it seemed silly to potentially injure myself trying to use the heavy one right away).

Things that did not surprise me: pulling a weighted sled up an incline on grass is not easy, sometimes my pushup form is not that great:
maybe i need to do some pushups in front of a mirror...
Overall it was a fun workout. A weekly version of this type of workout is going to be run in the fall at a gym not that far from my place. I am thinking of checking it out - though I have no idea what the price is (or what any of the fees at the gym are) so hopefully it isn't prohibitively expensive.

Oh - and my hands and wrists are super sore from the rope pulls - I guess I don't use those little muscles  all that much.

Giant concrete balls - ever lifted one? (and been terrified that it would squish your toes?)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

three things thursday - the happy birthday edition

It's Thursday! Which means it is almost Friday! And since I had last week off and had to work every single day this week (tough life, I know), I'm excited that it is almost Friday. So with that - three things this Thursday.

Thing one: There's a guy across the back alley that is hard to understand. I don't know if his first language is French, English, or something else...whatever it is, I don't understand it very well. The other day as I was getting my bike out of the shed and getting myself organized, he started talking to me and I kept hearing the word "champion." Since I was wearing my team Garmin pink jersey, I thought he might have been referencing that. But no - turns out, he wanted me to say hello to Jordan for him. Apparently, he calls Jordan "champion." We're not sure if he things he actually is some sort of champion or if he just thinks it is funny, but that's what he calls him. Super odd.

Thing two: I know that the cold and snowy season is long I shouldn't ever really complain about summer. But as I was walking in my jeans and t-shirt today (I probably could have been wearing shorts but it was that in-between temperature) I was thinking "this is my ideal comfort - jeans and t-shirt weather." The need for a sweater in the morning and evening but mostly jeans and t-shirt weather. Is there a place in the world where I can wear jeans and sandals all year long?

Thing three: It is my sister's birthday today. Happy Birthday Heather! You're my favourite sister :) Thank you for sending me random pictures to make me smile, listening to my random complaints, and making me feel needed by calling me when you need to vent. I wish I could come celebrate with you - but I know you'll have a great day.
october 2010

Tell me a thing! (or two or three)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

are canadians bad tippers?

When I worked as a hostess in a hotel restaurant for a summer (more than ten years ago), I learned that tipping the service staff isn't customary in every country. We would get a lot of tourists from all over the world and the servers always complained that the Australians never tipped and that in general, Europeans tipped a little bit but never more than 10%. This makes sense, servers there get paid more and don't rely on tips, so they just aren't used to tipping. At that time, it was fairly customary to tip around 15% in Canada and I just kind of figured that Canadians were decent tippers and didn't have a reputation about tipping. I thought that until the weekend...

For the first time, I saw a message similar to this on a menu: "For our Canadian and European guests, many of our servers are college students and rely on tips for their income..." On the same menu, it said that for parties of 6 or more or for separate bills, an 18% gratuity would be added.* It was odd and it was something I've never seen about anyone, much less directed right at me, on a menu before and it definitely sparked some defensive conversation amongst our party of 6 Canadians. Especially because many of us usually tip around 20%.

Since I had never heard that as Canadians we have a reputation of being lousy tippers, I decided to google it and found a 5-year old Yahoo Answer asking why we suck at tipping when we're in the States. Since it is old, I don't know how accurate it still is, but opinions seemed to range from servers get paid more in Canada and therefore we don't tip as much to Canadians are used to better service and therefore will only tip more than 15% for exceptional service (which apparently we don't get in the States?). Regardless of the reason, it was a weird experience to have the menu teach/scold me about tipping and it was definitely the first time I had ever seen something like that on a menu.

I still love you Vermont - even if you menu-scold me
Has anyone else been scolded by a menu? Ever seen a message specifically telling you to tip? I've seen a breakdown of what certain percentages of tip would be at the bottom of a bill, but never anything telling me I suck at tipping...

*Despite being a party of six, we weren't charged the automatic 18% gratuity. Maybe she thought we were from Massachusetts.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

running in kilometres - it is working

As I said a couple of weeks ago, to make the training paces less intimidating in this 10K training cycle, I've switched to running in minutes per kilometre instead of minutes per mile. Since I've never thought about pace in kilometres before it seemed like it was worth a try.

Two speed sessions into the training program? So far the verdict is that it is working. My tempo run last week was very successful (I actually ran too fast) and my 800s this morning went fairly well. Don't get me wrong - the 800s were really hard. My legs were hurting, I has audibly breathing, and I was really glad when they were over...but seeing "800s in 3:47" meant nothing to me when I looked at it on the training schedule. I plugged it into the pace calculator so that I knew what it was per kilometre, and again, 4:43 per kilometre also meant nothing to me. So I went out and ran. It was hard, it was uncomfortable, I was very sweaty, but I did it.

Hopefully this tricking myself keeps on working...

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

things i've grown into

This might be surprising to those who know that a few weeks ago I ate a tongue and escargot taco, but as a kid, and probably up until high school, I was a pretty picky eater. I had certain foods that I liked (apparently I ate a grilled cheese sandwich and a pickle every single day for lunch for one year) and I didn't eat much else. Although my mother always made me take a "no thank you" taste of everything on the table no matter where we were and what was being served (despite my protests of "I already KNOW I don't like peas"), in general I'm pretty sure my poor parents had a rotation of about 3 or for meals that I would actually eat for dinner. Doesn't make for very interesting eating does it? Although it took awhile, here are some of the "normal" foods that I didn't like but that I've definitely grown into.

I used to hate tomatoes and it really makes me sad. Sure, there are a lot of terrible tomatoes out there but a perfectly ripe, in-season tomato with just a little salt and pepper (or as part of caprese salad) is a beautiful and delicious thing.

i guess not all potatoes are purple
I know it sounds a little weird, but I didn't really like potatoes for a really long time. I would eat one tiny roasted potato because I had to (thanks to my mum's rule) but I didn't enjoy it. They still aren't my favourite (although fries are pretty awesome), but I will now actually eat a baked potato. That's definitely something I've grown into.

I don't think it is completely weird not to like chili as a kid - strong flavours, potentially spicy - but as an adult I think it is a little weird. I think I was well into my twenties before I grew into my love of chili. I'm so glad it is - it is one of my go-to meals to make and freeze in the fall and winter.

Things I haven't grown into? Ketchup, beets, and lamb. Actually - lamb I think I grew out of. I would eat it as a kid and now I don't like it. Any foods you've grown into? Or any foods that most people like or love but that you just can't get behind?

Thursday, August 02, 2012

tape delay and spoilers - sometimes a good thing?

I know a lot has been make of the tape delays and the twitter spoilers this Olympics. The tape delays are nothing new. NBC has had the Olympics on tape delay for as long as I can remember, which is why I have always been so thankful for the Canadian networks' love of live coverage. But before twitter (and before twitter exploded), it was far easier to manage spoilers. Before the internet it was next to impossible to have the results spoiled if you avoided the news and even once the internet was around, prior to the social networking site explosion, it was pretty easy to avoid spoilers.

These days though? As soon as a race is over or an athlete is finished his or her routine, the results are up on twitter. Apparently, more tweets were sent yesterday than were sent the entire duration of the Beijing Olympics. The explosion of twitter users means that people in the venue are tweeting the results, people watching it on live TV are tweeting the results, and other athletes are congratulating medal winners and tweeting pictures of the medal ceremony all before the event is shown on some channels. Last night, I noticed that someone I was following on twitter say that she knew the results of the 100 m freestyle swimming race before it "started" because the internet livestream was so far behind. If the results are out there before the internet feed catches up, they are definitely out there before the multiple hour tape delay...

Some people find this incredibly frustrating and find that the spoilers actually do spoil the event and the experience for them. In some races and some events, I agree. I kind of wanted to see the Michael Phelps show unfold without any spoilers. It was fun watching races and to wonder if he'd win and if he'd get that record number of medals. In some other events and races though, I didn't really mind having things spoiled. Sure, it is really exciting to yell at the TV and to root for athletes, but it can be tense! When you've been following an athlete's story for many years and you really want them to do well? I sometimes catch myself holding my breath for a little too long, my heart is racing, and I feel like Olympic sport watching should be an Olympic sport. If I already know the results, I can watch the race or the event and feel a little calmer and enjoy the sport without the tension.

I'm not saying that I'd want to watch the entire Olympics on tape delay. Yesterday morning I loved watching the men's 8 rowers give 'er and I was on the edge of my seat (and talking to the TV) during that race - it was an exciting one. But in some cases, like yesterday's 100m freestyle swimming event, I find the race just as exciting knowing what already happened. That being said - I like to have a bit of a choice and I'm happy that CTV (and TSN and Sportsnet...) are showing events live. (in fact - as I'm typing this I'm watching a live rowing event - spoiler alert, great slightly delayed reaction from one of the gold medallists from NZ)

Are the spoilers ruining it for you?