Thursday, December 30

Recap?

No, probably not.  I've been sneaking my way into the online run-blogging community.  There are so many blogs out there, it seems like everyone is running these days and they are all taking it more seriously than I am.  That doesn't really discourage me, in fact, perhaps I can be a better runner than I suspect.  Of course, I'll have to try harder.  Most of these blogs I have been stalking are posting a recap of their year including favourite races and personal records (PRs).  For me, there weren't any races in 2010 and I don't really care to recap the rest of the year.  Actually, I aim to forget most of it and cross my fingers than 2011 is hella-better.

This isn't all to say that I feel like 2010 was a waste.  I definitely wasn't a breakout superstar in the running world.  I didn't discover a long hidden natural talent.  But I did spend the last year and a half building up stamina, building some confidence and slowly learning to love to run without pushing myself too hard and hating it.

2011 is a year for goals.  I have been thinking carefully about the goals because I want them to be realistic and lend themselves to gradual improvement.
1.  Run a half marathon.  No time goal, this is a pure distance finish.
2.  Run a sub 28:30  5km
3.  Run at least three 5km races
4.  Run at least one 10km race
5.  Incorporate a core workout (yoga, fitness class or home workout) once per week
6.  Wear a bikini in public.  At 25 years old I have yet to do this and I don't foresee this getting to be an easier goal as the years go on.  Now or perhaps never.
7.  Cook healthy meals more often and incorporate more vegetables and fewer processed foods.  This would be a poor goal in the medical world since I'm not providing a baseline to measure against ("more" and "better" are very vague) but I just know I want an improvement.  Getting too particular may doom me before I start.

Seven goals is a good start.  Am I missing anything important?

UPDATE:
8.  Show up to volunteer or cheer (or both!) for at least 2 races in 2011. 

Wednesday, December 29

The Christmas of our (Gastrointestinal) Discontent

We have to remember this Christmas now.  A few posts ago I mentioned that Lil Bro spent a very uncomfortable day in the hospital on the 25th because he was so dehydrated from the barfing.  I had had the flu a few days prior (no hospital stay for me though!).  My sister apparently felt left out so she replicated the performance and is spending the day in emerg.  So that's 3 for 3.  I guess we should all stop hanging out with each other.  Somehow my parents have avoided the scourge.  I should give a shout out to my mom because she is the only one who can handle "the bucket" so she has spent quite a few sleepless nights this past week.  I really have no idea what I would do with my own children, perhaps a bit of a "Big Daddy" moment.  I would throw out the bucket.  If it was on the floor maybe I would move.

Said great mother just called and while sitting around the hospital she was interviewed by CTV as the face of the gastro probs going around the city.  Apparently its a big story.  She's a nurse and all her children have gotten it.  Perhaps they'll do a "what not to do in your house" piece.  She says my sister had her photo taken in the hospital bed too.  Um, what?  There is no way I would be letting my pukey self on the news. 

Tuesday, December 28

My Pretty New Watch

As mentioned when I bragged in my previous post about how spoiled I was this Christmas, I received a bee-yoo-ti-full Garmin Forerunner 405.  It is a GPS watch.  It is glorious.  While I run I can simultaneously watch how long I've been running, the distance I've gone (up to the nearest 100th of a km) and the pace that I'm running.  THE PACE!  It is amazing.  And depressing.  Depressing because since the flu punched me in the gut I've had some running setbacks.  I've been out only twice now; once for 5km and today for 7km.  Both times I kept a good pace just under 6min/km until km 4 and then I would hit a wall.  I guess all I can do it keep working at it and add some speed training to my week. 

A review of my lovely watch.  It is pretty.  It is simple to use with a 'bezel' ring made of metal on the outside.  Basically a touch ring that can be used to scroll and tapped anywhere to select.  It syncs with the satellite in less than 10 seconds, a major pro in the cold where one needs to keep moving to stay warm.  I love that it beeps at the completion of every kilometer (immediate feedback, that's how I roll). I don't even have to plug it in to my computer but I log into the training site, set my watch within 3m of the computer and it uploads my workouts. 

Are there downsides?  Of course.  It is a beast.  This really doesn't matter except it makes it difficult to adjust my sleeves.  Yep.  That's currently my one complaint. 

This is the feedback that I get.  I'll show you even though my pace is fairly embarrassing these days.  But for you, friends, anything.

The site also displays an incredibly accurate map of my route, including when I cut corners and jaywalk.  The calorie measurements are interesting as well.  I can't say that I entirely buy into carlorie burning measurements but I'll take any type of reinforcement I can get. 

Here I am in my amazing gear.  I didn't realize how effective the little reflective bits really were.  Observation:  I'm such a yuppy-looking runner.  All my fancy gear.  At least my VFFs (Vibram FiveFingers) made me look a little more hardcore, a little more fringe. 
And a bonus photo:

Monday, December 27

Some Larynx Love

I've been lazy this week but had some fun with the lettering on this mini toon.  Oh sad, a lot of the fun effects (FX) are not visible in this format.  So just imagine this being more awesome.

Sunday, December 26

Merry Boxing-Christmas

Lil Bro made it home last night around 8pm.  He took that opportunity to sleep for 12 hours and then my family interrupted my sleep to open gifts.  I was pretty spoiled this year.

From my sis I got a card game and a board game.  Thanks sis for feeding my nerdy interests.

Lil Bro got me some warm gloves for running. 

Santa brought me some gorgeous luggage for my upcoming final placement where I will be spending 3 months in a developing country.  It was a very thoughtful gift.  And I'll be returning them.  Hi-C had already instructed me that I won't be embarrassing her with rolling suitcases in Africa*.  Let's just say I'm going to be getting a sweet backpack from MEC in exchange.

The only thing I really asked for (other than earplugs and razors) was a GPS watch.  Not wanting to be presumptuous I just said any GPS watch.  Mom and Pops hooked me up!  The Garmin Forerunner 405.  It is a thing of beauty.  Garmin's top-of-the-line GPS watch.  It is still a beast but you can't get around that yet.  I'll give more details in my next running update.

On top of all that spoiling I received some sunscreen for my travels, nail polish, running magazines, running socks, chocolate, earplugs, razors, and a few other things. 

My gifts seemed to be a hit.  My father (aka Santa) ended up with quite the haul of booze and my mom asked to be included in alcohol gifts this year (since they don't clutter up the house) so she has some fancy IceWine.  My parents are now easy to shop for.

*The continent has not been confirmed.  This is speculative.

Saturday, December 25

Christmas Postponed Until Further Notice

For the first time in the history of our family it is midday and the gifts are still unwrapped.  I suppose my cartoon was a little too prophetic, although, this time it wasn't me.  My puking ended 3 days ago and hot my little bro hard last night.  Much harder than me.  Poor kid was up all night and into the day.  He's currently being hydrated at the hospital since he can't really afford to be losing any weight.  Turkey dinner is now tomorrow, presents tonight or tomorrow.  We're all just hoping Boris (lil'bro) is feeling better soon.

According to him "katie gives the best christmas presents" har har.

Santa Sightings:  earlier this week we purchased a dollar store santa hat to go with my father's beard.  He wore it that day.  And that evening when we had friends over for dinner.  And out to the mall the next day with my mother.  And to do the last of his christmas shopping yesterday.  Perhaps we have began a new holiday tradition.

Friday, December 24

Running Update #48 (sort of)

This is "sort of" an update because there isn't much to say.  It has been almost a week since I've been out running.  Reasons:  exams, getting into a new routine at home and then the final hit of food poisoning.  Of course, any excuse other than the food poisoning is just that, an excuse.  This recent setback has me a bit worried about finishing the half marathon in Feb.  It is much closer than I had realized and I'm getting behind, not ahead.  I hope I'm determined enough not to fail at this!

Tuesday, December 21

A Christmas Surprise

I came to my parent's house in style yesterday on a 37-seater plane. 

The surprise came later in the evening when my dad returned home with the pizza (oh Mrs. B...I missed you).  Apparently, in the four months since I have seen my family, no one thought THIS was worth mentioning:



My father has become Santa Claus.  First I was speechless (but that never lasts long for me).  He should have done it when we were younger, when we could have fully appreciated it.  He reminded me that, at that time, he would have been growing a ginger beard and Santa ain't got no ginger beard.  My next thought was fiscal difficulties:  Dad, are you and mom hard up for cash?  Are you making extra money as a local St. Nick at the mall?  Again, not an issue.  The beard is not a money-maker for him.  I told him he belonged on a Harley.  He agreed.

He has experimented follically before.  Maybe it is because he can't grow the stuff on the top of his head.  A few years ago he went with the Colonel Sanders and was never phased by the (fairly constant) harassing at work and good-natured teasing at home.  He just doesn't care what other people think (go dad!).  In fact, I think he likes having others notice and comment on his beard.  He relayed a story from earlier in the week:  he went to Canadian Tire (the Canadian hang out) and ran into a friend with his two little grandchildren.  Of course, they stared at my father so he replied with a hearty "Ho Ho Ho!".  The grandpa chimed in with "Look!  It's Santa Claus!".

My father proceeded to chuckle with a twinkle in his eye as he recounted how one hid behind his gramps and it took about 5 minutes of staring for the other to determine that he was not, in fact, the Jolly Old St. Nick.

Oh my family.....

Saturday, December 18

A Cartoon: The Devolution of the Student (Exams)

What stage are you at?  I think I am committed to having at least one person with those crazy swirl eyes in every single one of my 'toons. Perhaps it will be my signature.  This junk is copyrighted. 

Friday, December 17

Exam Update

I've realized that I think of my life in cartoons now.  There is another one coming in the next few days.  Preview:  it is about exams.  Because that is my life. 

In the past few days my diet has consisted entirely of cereal and oranges.  My nutrition comes to a standstill if milk or fruit runs out.  Pizza Pizza on the corner has come to my rescue twice already.  Cinnabon was had twice as well.  But it was canceled out by the necessary walk ALL THE WAY to union station to acquire said buns. 

Why the buns?  A reward for writing the worst exam of my life.  How can both buns on two separate occasions be a consolation prize for writing the worst exam of one's life?  Let me explain.  On Wednesday I wrote what felt like my worst exam ever.  Let's say motor speech.  Then, just two days later, I managed to break that personal record.  Aphasia took the title by a landslide.  I'd make a cartoon about that exam but it wouldn't be appropriate for a blog without an adult rating. 

Monday, December 13

A Social Story (Christmas Style)

My poor mother.  This is exactly what Christmas was like every year. I was so focused on the drawings this time I may have forgotten to actually be funny.  Oh well, check out these classy cartoons.  Note the unicorn bedspread.

I debated whether to actually show barf in the last image...I may create an edited version.

Running Update #47

Hi-C and I just covered 6.7 km as the world literally froze around us.  At about 4km in I remember thinking "wow, I'm still warm and I feel awesome, winter running is so liberating!".  Everything went downhill from there.  The snot flowed freely.  My face burned.  My legs went numb (actually, this came in handy, I didn't notice them and pushed myself faster).  For a bit my heart felt like it was pumping shards of ice.  Near the end I knew I was breathing but I couldn't feel the air enter my lungs and it never felt like quite enough.  It felt like we flew through the run.  Felt.  Because I'll never know.  My ipod stalled after 6 minutes, likely in protest to the cold.  I think if it is below -11 with some nasty wind I may have to start adding a third layer on top and second layer on my legs.  I looked like a bright pink strawberry from head to toe afterwards.  This may prove more challenging than we first anticipated.  Wait, no, I anticipated this but let myself be talked into a half marathon anyway. I'm clearly the crazy one.

Sunday, December 12

Most Annoying Roommate Ever

I've been playing the exact same 5 songs over and over again on youtube for days. 









Including the cutest holiday duet of life:

Friday, December 10

The Excitatory Loop (go Thalamus!)


 That was entirely more difficult that it needed to be.  Note to self:  if there is a page guideline then maybe stick to it so you don't have to try to resize the whole thing in paint.  Sorry the halves don't match up but you get the idea.  I'm still learning inkscape!  Now learn something.

Wednesday, December 8

Prayer: Hi-C's Thoughts

Mentioning that my first post came across as a bit harsh Hi-C chimed in with some prayer thoughts.  She took the more moderate side.

Hi-C: You know, they really care about you, you can't blame them for wishing you would come back to their side.  I mean, if you started saying that you loved Wal-Mart and were going to shop there for everything I would be sad and, while I would still be your friend, I would still always wish that you would come back to the other side (ie. suppost small business).

She's an insightful kind of gal.

Her other religious thoughts:  I don't agree with the Bible as God's policies. 

Prayer: The Other Side of the Story

To be fair I have decided to post the other side of the prayer story (but I'm keeping my other post too; a nice juxtaposition). 

Recap:  My frustration was with prayer from people I know very little (and who know the same about me) asking for things for me I don't want (salvation) being likened to them thinking very hard on a regular basis about my unfortunate demise.  I used phrases along the lines of "devoured by lions" or "plummet from tall buildings".  These were all physical examples, I could have used statements like "end up in a cardboard box on the street" or "fail at life".  Just so we're clear ;)

This is not a retraction but an addition.  Somehow, with all my awkwardness and quirkiness, I have managed to attract some of the most amazing people into my life.  Some of those people happen to really like Jesus (some of the them happen to really like G-sis).  Chatting with one of these good friends last night (and extra props to her for being sleep-deprived from a new baby and still being able to hash this one out) she mentioned my take on things seemed a bit....harsh. 

Her (challenge): So, do you want people to stop praying for you altogether?
Me: That's tough, do I have any say in the matter?
Her: let's pretend that you do.

My first instinct, of course, is to say "no then, everyone stop praying right now".  If I'm going to be as steadfastly anti-(jesus? religion? christian?) and if I truly believe it is just intense thought then it should be an easy question to answer.  It isn't. Whether I believe that it does anything or not it is comforting to know that there are people I care about thinking about me on a regular basis. 

But, what about the proposition that what they're thinking is for terrible things to happen to you?  Ah, good question.  While, she eventually admitted that she would be a "lame ass christian" if she wasn't in some form asking for my heart to change (and I'll give her that) there were a whole series of other requests.  Surprisingly, many of those requests are good things that I want for myself. 

The furthest I'll go with this is to use an old idiom that I may have been throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  Maybe.  I'm undecided. 

PS.  Before telling me all the prayers she has for me this friend said "well blog this".  So I did.  This one is for you :)

Tuesday, December 7

Running Update #46

My first update in a while.  I even put up some (what I thought was) riveting content between running posts.  This was probably by default since it is difficult to update on something you aren't doing.  6 DAYS!  I went 6 days without running and I'm currently paying for it.  Both runs since (5.5km and 6.5km) I've gotten painful stitches in my side and, try-as-I-might to battle through*, I had to stop and walk.  My pace is now more like 6:18/km (up from my comfortable 5:45/km).  The pace is probably what hurts the most.  I'm going to choose to blame today's pace on being cautious for my first snowy-ground run of the year. 

For the big news:  I finally caved and bought shoes.  The Nike Frees (in case you were all wondering which large company I was refusing to promote by calling them the Liberties).
I missed the big sale on the ones I wanted oh-so-much from the states and my run yesterday was put on hold when I woke up to snow so I knew I couldn't wait any longer.  I tested this morning on 6.5km and they felt good the whole time.
PROS:  My feet were warm. 
They felt luxuriously cushy when you're used to the vibrams. 
They didn't weigh me down and make me hate running like running in traditional running shoes tends to do.
CONS:
They are not as good at the Vibrams at promoting a short stride while striking the ground with the fore- and mid-foot.  In other words, I found myself heel-striking sometimes.  It will just take more self-monitoring.
 And my TOMS just aren't going to cut it this winter.  Canvas leaks.  Especially when there are holes in the heel and toe.
 So I bought some real winter boots.  They rub at the back of my ankle so fingers crossed I can wear them in.  I was debating these in the store for a bit and the girl clearly wanted to make a sale.  She kept telling me how "in" they were and how someone working at that very store right now (!) was wearing the same pair.  Sold.  Oh boy, she had her demographic wrong.  I'm going for practical.  If it were looks I was going for I would be shelling out $300 for the beautiful dark brown leather, knee-high boots with winter soles that I crave so much.


*There are stitch-relieving techniques (thanks for teaching me, G-sis!).  Some look really cool.  On offending side, wave one's arm above one's head (I often choose to just rest my head in the crook of my elbow. "Nothing to look at here, just stretching").  One can also focus on breathing and try to expand one's abdominals.  But today the stitch wasn't having it.  I haven't stopped for a stitch in months.  Heck, I hadn't even gotten one in over a month.

Sunday, December 5

A Social Story

Miss UPenn herself introduced me to a lovely free illustrating program (inkscape).  It sure takes some getting used to.  So don't mock my social story!  I have no idea why blogger inserted two random lines through the whole thing but I'm too darn lazy to figure it out right now.

Prayer: A Gift or a Threat?

It has been brought to my attention that there are quite a few people out there praying for my salvation.  The person who informed me of this development (since I posted about my reneging on my salvation) was entirely well-meaning: he wanted me to to know that others care about me and have me in their thoughts.  To be honest, my feelings are actually quite ambivalent.  I did feel, at first, fairly amazed that so many people had read the post and have been praying for me for so long. 

As I thought about it more, though, it highlighted a few things that I find frustrating about Christianity.  I have a fairly complex relationship with prayer
1. Very few of these people have actually contacted me directly.  This isn't a call for them to start calling me all of a sudden but I find it interesting that people who rarely spoke to me when I was a "christian" were suddenly so concerned.  Prayer seems fairly empty without action to back it up (please don't send me tracts in the mail).  This is a general statement about prayer.  Are you going to ask god to feed hungry children or go feed one?*
2. They are praying for something for me that I don't want for myself.  Something I strongly do not want.  To me, for someone to ask that I return to the flock it is like them routinely wishing I would be eaten by a lion or plummet from a tall structure or be stung hundreds of times by killer bees.  The assumption with these prayers, too, is that they know what is best for me, better than I know (regardless of how little they know me). 

Don't get me wrong, I don't believe that prayer has power**, in my mind it is the equivalent to intense thought (or not-so-intense-thought for many people).  On this premise I cannot control what others choose to think nor would I have any right to ask them not to think.  But, would you really trust or want to spend much time with someone you knew was routinely picturing you drowning in a fast-moving stream or touching an open electrical wire?  This probably sounds dramatic but I wonder how a Christian would react if I told them that I spend time in intense thought every day imagining (and wishing) that they would lose their faith. 

This post is not meant to demean prayer or to hurt feelings.  It is meant to illustrate that prayer can be somewhat creepy and that not everyone sees it in the same way, even though one may have (what they think are) the best intentions.

*I am in no way insinuating that I have this all figured out either.  Am I constantly trying to make the world a better place?  No.  I need to work on that.
**In the spirit of honesty I do 'let' people pray for me.  Ok ok, I have even asked a select few to do so in recent months.  But it has always been from people I trust, who know me well and who have really been supportive.

Monday, November 29

Yummy Snack Idea

In fact, I'm eating it right now!

 Plain yogurt (the higher the fat content the better!)
Cinnamon (to taste)
Cardamom (to taste)
Brown sugar

Mix & add fruit (or don't add fruit, it is still awesome).  You can even put it in the freezer for an hour or so to get a frozen-ish treat.

Sunday, November 28

Third Post of the Day

This must be a record for me.  Three posts in one day is excessive.  Basically I was trying to break up all the running stuff into two posts to make it more manageable.  The third post is an apology.

Running posts seem to be taking over this blog and I imagine that those of you still reading are probably getting tired of it.  I'm going to try to create a better balance since not everyone wants an update on whether I fueled with honey during my run or how my feet feel.  At least not every day. 

There are two reasons for the switch in blog-focus:  1) running is becoming very important to me; 2) contrary to the content of my blog there is quite a bit going on in my life right now.  Things that I want to write about but have been censoring because this is the internet and I have to consider who may read this (read: future employers) whether I like it or not.  If you ask me I would probably tell you in person.

Possible solutions: 
1) The blog continues like this.  Maybe you really do enjoy my recent posts (but I'm being realistic lol).
2) I post one running update a week (save all my thoughts until then????) and try to be more interesting the rest of the week.
3) Start a second blog dedicated to running and omit the running posts from this blog.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.  Honesty is valued over social pragmatics in this instance.

New Distance

14.8km.  I'll spare you the details but it felt pretty good.  I tried timing the run but must have turned off the stopwatch function on the ipod at one point because it was way less than anticipated.  It was about 1:40, a pace of about 6:45 per km.  Not fast but that is the point of the long slow run.

I usually choose not to run with music since I enjoy focusing on what is around me and how my body feels when running but I had decided to bring my ipod when tackling such a long distance.  Then I forgot it.  So I made it that long without music or podcasts.  It does become a bit of a mind game when you've already run 10km and the end is not visible at all.  That said, after km 11 I usually start to feel my best and pick up speed a little.

This was the first time I brought fuel with me:  1-2 tbsps creamed honey in a ziploc.  As the distances increase I think I will soon need to take in calories during the run.  I didn't feel like I needed anything this time but I decided to eat a quick bite of honey about a km before finishing to see how my body would react to ingesting something on the run.  No adverse effects and it probably provided some much-needed energy.

Less than positives:  my left knee hurt when I stopped running.  It didn't feel sore at all on the run but twinged the second I stopped for the whole walk home (I always stop about 500m from home to cool down by walking back).  It is fine now but this was my first incident of joint pain and that is unsettling.  The pads of my feet have been tender too.  I'm reluctant to blame the fivefingers, though, because they don't hurt when I run but do sometimes when wearing the Toms walking around the city.  Time will tell.

I even forgot something:  I did 3km in my old runners just to start getting my feet and calves used to shoes.  It felt horrible.  I was winded the whole time.  It felt like blocks of styrofoam on the bottoms of my feet.  Shoes make me sad.  Perhaps it is all in my head.

Running Update #45 (and wishlist)

One of the reasons I started running was because I'm lazy.  I realize that running isn't a 'lazy' sport but, at the time, it meant that I could get ready in 10 minutes (more sleep!), walk out the door and start my workout right away and end up back at my door to jump in the shower and get ready for school.  No need to pack all my gym stuff or actually get to the gym.  The other reason was that I'm cheap.  Running is a pretty cheap sport, that is, until the winter comes.  Suddenly the need to stay outside instead of run the hamster wheel at the gym is costing me big bucks (and I am totally justifying it all). 

In the last few days I'm come closer to a decision on winter footwear.  Here are my top options:

1. Evo II by Terra Plana.
These are minimalist shoes have been getting great reviews for winter running.  They are my number one first choice (other than moving to California).  The company also claims that its shoes are ethically made and many are vegan.  What is keeping these glorious shoes from my feet?  They are fairly pricey* but also the fact that the closest retailer of said shoes is New Yawk Citeh meaning I would have to order them from the internet without having tried them on. Stress!

2.  Fivefinger Flows by Vibram. 
Made by the same company as my current beloved foot coverings they are basically the same thing with neoprene up to the ankle to keep you warm.  Paired with some toe sport socks they just might get me through the winter.  Issues:  the glove/mitten heat paradox; Toronto slush; the traction.  First, the heat issue is a concern for the same reason I buy mittens for the winter:  because when fingers/toes are housed together they share the warmth.  I'm worried that, all alone, my toes will freeze.  The reports online also state that this version, while warmer, is no more water-resistant than my current model which is to say not water resistant at all.  This could be a major problem in a winter city known for its slush.  And the traction, word on the street is that they have none and I'm afraid of breaking my tailbone and being unable to complete the winterman.

3.  The Liberties by giant corporation.  They are easy to access, feel pretty darn good on my feet and cheaper than the Evo IIs.  I'll cave if the first two options don't work out.  They also have minimal traction but hopefully more than the flows. 

*The Evo II's are $160USD.  BUT I could get them for $80 if I purchased the the fabulous Brooklyn boots that are also in my Terra Plana shopping cart since it is buy one get one half off.  But then I would have to buy $230 boots.  Seems worth it.

Friday, November 26

Combining Two Interests for a Little Insanity (aka 10 Provinces/10 Races)

Perhaps the all the school work these last few days has been getting to my brain but apparently the WINTER half marathon I've already paid for in Ottawa that is looming (but not close enough) is not enough.  Inspired by Lisa Smith-Batchen* I've set myself a goal of running a half marathon (a marathon would count too if I'm ever that oxygen-deprived ambitious) in each of Canada's 10 provinces.  The goal isn't time sensitive which can be dangerous but I just foresee traveling every weekend or so on a budget of negative money right now.

1. BC - Victoria, Goodlife Half, the course looks great (all over the city and it doesn't loop back on itself).  Plus!  A long sleeve race tee (love the long sleeve technical shirts (although Oct in Victoria may not call for it).

2. AB - First Choice: Cochrane (shout out to Hi-C) for the Footstock.  It is on a paved trail through the lovely wilderness AND it was voted Alberta's Best Road Race 2009.  Sold. BUT!  There are only 500 spots so I'll have to be on top of things the year I decide to run that one.
 Second Choice: Red Deer for the Woody's RV Half.  The name is clearly a win.  And you get a bamboo shirt! 

3. Sask - Regina, Queen City Marathon.  Basically because I'd have a sweet place to stay with fam and it looks like a pretty course.  CON: no mention of the gear/shirt for participants.  I crave the gear!  No more buying shirts.

4. MB - Winnipeg, The Intrepid Dezine Half for purely selfish reasons:  STADIUM FINISH!  And the crowd roars.....

5. ON - Ottawa.  In the works for the Winterman, Feb 20, 2011. 

6. QC - Quebec City. SSQ Quebec City Marathon (Half).  I've yet to see Quebec City and this promises that 75% of the course is along the St. Lawrence.  You can't go wrong!  Plus I've always wanted to run in French ;) Even though the prizes money isn't the highest (haha) you get 6 hours to complete.  Just in case?

*Looking at a map of Canada to determine the best west-to-east order of the Maritimes*

7. NB - Frederiction, Scotiabank Fred Marathon (Half).  I really wanted to pick the Marathon by the Sea (sponsored by Timmies.  I'm SURE there would be timbits afterward) but the website was horrendous and gave very little info. 

8 - NS - Wolfville, Valley Harvest Marathon (half). Because it has the loveliest name.  And course.  Just read that description (you run past an orchard AND get a STADIUM FINISH).  Plus the potential for TimBits again.

9 - PEI - Recharge with Milk Half Marathon.  Is this course vegan friendly? Woops.  I thought the course would cover the whole island.....

10 - Newfoundland and Labrador (because I love the name) - G-Sis I need some input!  It isn't easy to locate one from 'round here other than the Huffin Puffin but, while the name is awesome, the course looks BOR-ing. 

*This woman, at the age of 50(!) ran 50 miles in each of the 50 US states in just 62 days!  She did it for a good cause, orphans or something.  That is dedication.

Running Update #44

I'm currently wrapped in a big blanket to thaw myself after 9.5km in 0 degrees (but the wind totally made it feel like -5).  It was the unveiling of my new but totally vintage cross-country ski-looking running jacket and it stood up to the wind pretty well.  For that price it had better.  LOOK AT MY JACKET HERE! The cool red one. Running is an awesomely cheap sport....in the summer. And I got a slick new headband.  But enough about gear (of which I'll be getting some more new pieces over the next few weeks).  I have already proved myself wrong.

My last running update from a few days ago raved about how cold it was but my feet were still all toasty and a big happy family in my vibrams.  I claimed that COLD IS NOT MY ENEMY but moisture is.  Apparently the ground has since cooled enough to call me out on this.  For the first 2km or so my toes went almost numb.  Actually, about 6 of them did so I had 4 good toes.  I was getting a bit worried and considered cutting the run short because I am a bit of a hypochondriac and just watched a TED Talk about people who got blitzed by a storm on Everest and their faces and feet fell off from frostbite (don't quote that).  But, about 15 minutes in, the toes, they started to burn and life returned to them and my feet felt great for the rest of the run.  Win!  But this incident did highlight the need to drink a big tall glass of suck-it-up and buy some dang shoes.  It will take a few weeks as it is to switch between them (like starting with just a jog around the block in the shoes before a run in the vibrams with increasing intervals in the shoes).  Our pace wasn't impacted by the blustery winds either. 


And because I need immediate rewards I ended the run near my apartment and walked away from it until I found a bubble tea establishment to satisfy my craving (new obsession = bubble tea.  About 10 years after everyone else).  It was my first non-milk or non-slush bubtea - a pineapple black tea on special - and it was gloriousness.  A new fave.  I will forever get black tea mixed with some fruity flavour from this day forth (decree'd).

Wednesday, November 24

Sleeping on Strangers' Couches

Slowhands sold me on the trip to Philadelphia this past weekend by promising that we could couchsurf.  Sold.  As keeners we contacted potential hosts a month in advance (exceptionally early in the CS world) and waited for confirmation.  We found one host for the first night and another for the second and third nights.  Both were great experiences.

The first was an apartment in North Philly where the neighbourhoods changed around each corner.  Boarded up windows and rotten pumpkins on one block, turn the corner to half-million-dollar turn-of-the-century townhomes.  The first host was actually two geology masters students at Temple.  When we hung out in the evening with them and their friend playing the didgeridoo and introducing them to Dutch Blitz one of the hosts literally completed her thesis while we were there and sent it in.  Celebrate!  They showed me around their department the next day and I learned all about rocks, minerals and trilobites.  I even sat in on a lecture about pottery and joined them at the campus pub.  After re-connecting with Slowhands we cabbed over to a party* in South Philly (invited by the CS hosts).  Win.  This is the way to see a city and meet great people.  Everyone was welcoming, we watched some hiphop and story reading.  Spotting a hoola hoop on the party-host's wall we found out that she was in to hooping and we were able to "show off" our new skills.  We spent the evening in front of the house taking turns with the hoop and having a competition to determine who could run the furthest while hoopin'. For the record:  I won.  I'm a total natural.


Exhibit A

Exhibit B
Experience two:  the second host seemed fairly busy at first and not necessarily the happiest to have guests.  But we had a free, safe place to stay and a set of keys so we couldn't complain.  He also had the cutest kittens ever (see Exhibits A & B).  This showed us another side to our host since he had taken in a preggo stray four months earlier and was still dealing with the adorable consequences.  The next night he ended up chilling with us, munching on Froot Loops (thanks, Slowhands!).  And when his plans to head to New York to deliver the last two cats he spent the day hanging out, drove us to our various attractions, offered some insight into the city and took part in our touristy-antics without complaint.  The day started with a big breakfast** followed by a trip to Elfreth Alley where he kindly treated to a tour of one of the homes.  Elfreth is the longest continually inhabited street in the US (the oldest house was built in 1728).  We shopped for cheesy souvenirs and headed to the Frankling Institute where he played along by taking pictures of us doing ridiculous things and walking through a gigantic model of the heart (you get to follow the path of blood being oxygenated!).  He then took us to the Rocky Steps to fulfill the most common request that any tourist in Philly has and we felt we should do to appease everyone who asked us if we were going to "run up the Rocky steps".  Yes, we did.  We even looked like tools doing so.  I still can't get over his hospitality but he insisted on taking us to the Philly cheese steak place then drove around looking for a Ben n Jerry's to satisfy a craving.  Win!  They had a flavour called Peanut Butter Cookie Dough.  Um, what?  Why did this take so long to become a reality?  And yes, we ate Philly cheese steaks and THEN had ice cream.  We were on a roll.
Hosted!

*We picked up a 6 pack of beer to contribute to the party and stood at the trolley stop in West Philly.  Apparently we stood out like a mennonite at technology conference because he somehow figured out we weren't locals.  Within a few minutes we had the beer in our purses (instead of sitting out in the open on a newspaper stand) and were taking a cab from the city centre instead of walking through South Philly.  Thanks friendly dude.

**Slowhands:  What is scrapple?
Me:  Oh god!  No, not that!
Host:  Haha, well it is corn meal with little bits of organs and pig ears.
Me:  Only in the US would they put that between two waffles. Uh, sorry if anyone actually wants to eat scrapple.
Host:  Thanks for pointing it out, I would have missed it. [yes, he then ordered the scrapple and ate the entire thing....foot in mouth]  Foot in mouth would be better than scrapple in mouth though.

Running Update #43

I STILL haven't made a shoe decision for the winter.  There are a few potentials but there is one last store I plan to visit with Hi-C in hopes of getting some advice from seasoned runners.  The kind who have been through a few winters.  Today was struggle because of the temperature:  1 celcius.  Not really that bad but it felt like -5 with wind chill.  It was the first day this season that I thought my choice of only one layer on top, no hat, no gloves, may have been foolish.  The good news is that my feet were still comfortable.  Hypothesis:  temperature will not be the ruin of the fivefingers but MOISTURE will be (that is why everyone hates the word moist).  Once the snow/freezing rain falls (melts, becomes slush) I will be ruined.  I will get the black feet of frost bite. 

Fun update:  while running today a cyclist passed me and yelled "Yay barefoot runners!"

Tuesday, November 23

In Westville Kenobia

I mean West Philadelphia.  And South, central and North.  But apparently not East for some reason.  Slowhands, Balls and I boarded the Megabus on Wednesday night and ended up in Philly on Thursday morning a little tired and a little stiff from bus sleeping.  This trip was made possible by Couchsurfing, a handy way to travel that is not only easy on the budget but gets you the inside view of the city.  But more information on that in another post to come.  There is so much to cover so let's break it down:

Market Street, City Centre

The Mutter Museum (should have an umlaut over the 'u')
Thursday:  Arrive.  Learn the transit system (which, by the way, is a bit of a nightmare but you get used to it).  Show up at couchsurf-host 1 and leave stuff behind.  Thank goodness!  Then we headed downtown to explore and let the other ladies register for the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) conference, the real reason for this trip.  I was just in for the hang.  We learned that Philadelphia is the home of the insanely cheap footwear.  A few people bought boots.  Many of us tried on a plethora.  Eventually I got my way, though, and we headed to the Mutter Museum to check out the cool human specimens.  The wall of skulls was especially fascinating as each was kept as an examplar of a specific cranial abnormality.  It was fun to try to identify it without first reading the associated card.  One even had eroded alveolar processes (what happens when one has no teeth for an extended period of time).  I also learned that syphillis doesn't just make ya crazy but it can eat holes in your face and skull:  protect yourself!  Balls then introduced us to Trader Joe's and it really is as fun as people say.  So fun, in fact, that we ate peanut butter puffin cereal for a few days.  I think I'm having Puffin withdrawal.  Thursday night we hung out with Couchsurfers (CS1A & CS1B) and a friend of theirs attempting the didgeridoo and introducing our new friends to Dutch Blitz (it was a hit!).  A bit of irony introducing Pennsylvanians to a Pennsylvania Dutch game.

Creepy prison

"Famous" Temple bell tower
Friday:  Slowhands bailed early for her conference so I decided to take a run around the neighbourhood.  Without even realizing it I ran up the steps behind the Art Museum (ie. the Rocky steps).  Anyone who saw me must have been thinking "crazy tourist, the steps are on the other side".  The rest of the morning was spent wandering around the old Eastern State Penitentiary with my camera.  Definitely a dark and freezing cold stone prison built to specialize in isolation of criminals from each other.  Without a tripod most of the photos weren't very useable but I did discover a colour palate I like.  Prison Promenade: jade green, rusty orangeish-red and slate gray.  Perhaps I'll decorate a bathroom in those colours.  The rest of the day was spent on Temple Campus in the geology department, moving our stuff from North Philly (CS1) to West Philly (CS2) and going to a local open mic in someone's house where people displayed such talents as performing their own hiphop, reading children's stories, reading children's stories as Christopher Walken would, and playing various instruments.


Saturday:  Slowhands took it easy on the conference this time and we wandered up to UPenn campus in search of breakfast.  Long story short Slowhands had pie and tea on the trolley and I relaxed in McDonald's to mooch their free wifi.  This greasy breakfast was followed by a personally guided walking tour of UPenn and a visit to the archeology museum on the campus where I learned about various cultures including the Apache and Navajo.  It was $6 well spent.  A 40 minute walk later I met my partner in traveling crime and we proceeded to try on even more pairs of boots and dresses we couldn't afford in Macy's while Joshua Golden, apparently a tween-dream, performed on the main level.  The evening brought us to South Philly again in search of the Magic Gardens.  Along the way we found a restaurant with a very random vegan menu which I am convinced was open not to provide nutritious and tasty meals (it really wasn't) but to surreptitiously promote Falun Gong based on the propaganda on the giant flatscreen television.  The Magic Gardens was well worth the walk and can't really be described other than a wonderland build of pottery and found objects.  It really requires photos*.



Sunday:  A full day of tasty breakfast, Elfreth Alley (the oldest continuously inhabited city block with houses built as early as 1728), cheesy souvenir shops, The Franklin Institute and Philly Cheese Steaks (yes, capitals are necessary).  The Franklin is a set up similar to the Ontario Science Centre.  It dumbs down science for kids and most exhibits are broken.  But it was still a good time (a Canary heart beats about 800 times a minute!  A cat heart provides one of the best dance beats**).  The major appeal of the centre was the promise of a planetarium:  gazing into stars, identification of constellations, images from the hubble all projected on a dome above your head, right?  Not exactly.  A tale of the Mayan people and their connection to start turtles.  I felt bad for falling asleep in the 'film' until I looked over and both of my companions appeared to be enjoying some REM as well.  If you go to Philly you should try a cheese steak and then you should immediately check yourself into a hospital for bypass surgery.  I ate just over half so props to me!  Props to Slowhands for (almost) chugging through and ignoring those two (tiny) onions on her sandwich. 

*I'll actually add some later but my patience is being tried by Blogger; it is not letting me upload any more photos for no particularly good reason.
**This is a subjective claim, not objectively posited by the Franklin.

Wednesday, November 17

The Hottest Ticket in Town: Mumford & Sons

I overheard someone using that phrase to describe the concert I attended on Saturday with MMM (formerly Bethaf), Gloves (I feel like I have a different nickname for her on here somewhere...) and some friends of Gloves.  It definitely felt like the hottest ticket.  I'd like to say we were packed into the Sound Academy like a cornfield but that would imply some sort of order and really handy rows for walking.  There was none of that, just a giant crush of people drunkenly spilling drinks and singing along.

But enough of the whining because I was quite happy to be there.  They have a way of singing/performing with so much earnestness for their young age.  Their lyrics have layers (just like orgres) and seem to reveal more life experience than expected (or at least insight).  For a run down on the setlist, a few clips and a general review of the music see this post by MMM.  We tend to agree musically and I was basically waiting for her to summarize it for me.  This time though I have a feeling our opinions will intersect for the music and diverge on other concert-related thoughts.  

There was some chatter among the Christian concert-goers that I wasn't entirely oblivious to myself.  Late into their set the band played one of my favourite songs of theirs:  Awake My Soul.  It has religious undertones.  It is a ballad of earnest people humbly calling out for their souls to awaken.  The audience sang along.  The Christian response is sadness for the sad irony of many "unsaved" people calling out to be awakened.  I felt this sadness at first and quickly rejected it as a remnant from my Christian past.  The more that I considered these feelings, though, I realized that they do not have to come from a jesus-focused perspective.  It is difficult to explain as I lack eloquence at times but it carries the same undertones even in a secular world.  So many people in society wake up each day with the mindset of just getting through the day, of earning more, of consuming more, of getting to the weekend to party harder.  This can seem empty from any perspective.  It is still somewhat arrogant of me to even assume that a more "enlightened" existence (as I define it) is even what these people would want or that I have found it myself but the sadness and irony can still exist.

I apologize for not quite explaining that right.  I'll mull it over on the long bus ride but I wanted to post about the concert before I left for Philadelphia.  And, since this is my current obsession, running update:  I'm bringing my running clothes with me to Philly but I'm totally okay with NOT running.  In fact, it probably won't happen.  That made me a bit anxious since I fear losing all this stamina I've built up.  I think I need to CHILL.  5 days won't hurt me.  Maybe I need some recovery time:  hills on Wednesday were sloooooow (or felt slow). 

Another update:  I rarely seem to just go 5km anymore.  I never thought I would ever say just 5km.  I should clarify something though:  running still isn't easy.  It is more enjoyable, I'm faster, I no longer need to stop, even for long distances, but it is still challenging.  I still want to quit sometimes.  G-sis and I did a 9.5km run yesterday though and I remember thinking oh, that's not bad, 10km.  I can't wait for the day when 15km feels that way.

Saturday, November 13

Weekly Groceries

In an effort to buy fewer meals out I've been spending a bit more on groceries each week. I'm also trying to up the vegetable ratio add good complete proteins and healthy fats. These past few months I've been culinarily lazy (not necessarily unhealthy). I also went shopping hungry. Hi-C and I covered 12.4km in 1:12:50. Calculated at 5:52min/km. If we could keep that up for another 8.7km we could do a half in 2:06. Our last km was likely the fastest, which is a good sign.
I fear over-training though. It is three months until the half and we're more than halfway there. My mileage (I track in kms but is kilometerage a word?) has spiked recently and that isn't always the wisest move. This week I've already hit 32km and I'd like to add 5 tomorrow morning just to stay consistent. But I digress, this is a post about food. Understandably I was pretty stinkin' hungry near the end of my shop, having run, showered and then headed out the door again without a snack (nothing looks tasty after a run).

My $33.25 went to:
Beets (this is my first ever purchase of beets! I'm going to roast them with a host of other tuberous veggies)
Parsnips (another first!)
1L of 1% milk (usually it is 2L but I'm headed out of town on Wed)
12pk diet Pepsi with lime (oh the the poor judgment on that one. It is my first case of pop since the semester started. I really feel so much healthier when not drinking pop regularly...come over and help me drink it?)
Balkan Style Yogurt (I like my dairy products full of fat and I plan to use this in my overnight oats because I hate cleaning the oat pot)
Roasted Red Pepper Salad Dressing
Strawberry Jello
Black Beans (canned)
Blackberries
(fresh blackberries on sale in Nov??)
Peppercorn Goat Cheese (probably too much for just me so I should get creative. I couldn't say no....)
2 bananas
1 sweet potato
Package of powdered donuts
(guess what I ate two of when I got home....here is why we don't grocery shop hungry children)
Whole wheat pitas
Grapes
6 omega-3 eggs
(is the omega thing still considered legit?)

Riveting wasn't it? Now you know what my grocery bill looks like. It usually involves some sort of baked good (oh how I wish those donuts were an anomaly) but the pop was me caving in. And I drank one tonight. And my head feels aspartame-y. Now to decide what to wear to Mumford & Sons....

Tuesday, November 9

No Backing Out!

A few posts back I dared to bring up the idea of a Half Marathon (yes, it deserves respect as a proper noun). Then I chuckled to myself a little because, well, winter is coming, people! But I mentioned the idea to Hi-C and she started researching Halfs (yes, not Halves, like the Maple Leafs) - researching during class of course. Our biggest obstacle were the criteria for both of us: 1) that it take place before May since we'll be headed abroad; 2) that we can afford to get there (ie. bus accessible).

That left us with (drum roll) - the Winterman*! (eye roll please). Check that bad boy OUT! Ottawa, Feb 20th. THAT is hardcore. I sure hope we aren't all talk because I forked over $50 for it. Correct, dear reader(s), we have registered.

Quote "Katie ----- is Registered for
Somersault Winterman Half Marathon"

I wanted a screenshot for drama but there was too much personal info on it and I was too lazy to haze it all out. But basically, Hi-C and I are clearly insane. I'm not sure if $50 will be enough to get make me run hills in -25 degree weather.

*Apparently they let women run it, too.

Monday, November 8

Lucky 13

Getting out of bed felt especially difficult this morning. It wasn't as dark as the last few weeks (thank you, time change) yet it was still a struggle. But I was rewarded for responding to my alarm. A few days ago I mapped out a 15km run for this weekend as my long slow day. All the research I've been doing has emphasized that distance and speed should be trained separately: to get your body used to running for longer periods of time just take'er easy for as long as you can. And slowly I went. Once you start getting over 10km the routes start getting long. Unfortunately I missed a section of the route I had mapped since it was almost entirely new. This meant I did not reach my goal of 15km (since I didn't realize my mistake until I was safely on my couch) but at 13kms it was still a personal distance record.

This is officially favourite run so far. I started off slowly, a bit daunted by the distance ahead. I made the mistake of having the first 3-5 kms on pedestrian heavy roads during rush hour so I was slowed by them and by many many traffic lights. But I seemed to gain strength as I ran. Instead of becoming exhausted I began to feel my breathing, to move with the rhythm of the music (Rockefellar Skank!) and even bounce down the road as I widened my stride. For the second half of the run I relished every minute of it, every footstep. I mouthed the words to "Miami" by Will Smith assuming that everyone else on the sidewalk knew I had earned the right to look a bit foolish since I had already run over 10km.

The longer my runs get the more I understand the need to run. The enjoyment factor. It took me (what felt like) forever to reach 10km as I constantly doubted myself, felt uneasy about the distances. The day I hit 10km, G-sis encouraged me by saying that once you hit 10 a huge mental block is gone and the distances seem more manageable. She was right. Half marathon: watch out!

Sunday, November 7

The Day I Fell for Klezmer Music

ShanWow, Hi-C and I were treated to a lovely dinner courtesy of SlowHands tonight (my first Yorkshire puddings! No really pudding!). This served as great fuel for a few hours of swallow-report editing. After our impressively productive evening (the report isn't due until Nov 30th!) everyone but the cook headed to the Tranzac to see ShanWow's husband (Byron Birdman) play. He is 1/5th of an ensemble, "The Last Birdmen", that play Klezmer music. The place was small and the atmosphere great and I discovered a new favourite kind of music.

First reason it was great: it was the perfect combination of instruments. No vocals needed just an accordion (Byron), drums, bass, clarinet and violin. The drummer was fascinating to watch as he seemed to find a new sound from each drum and cymbal every time he used it. His drums were littered with various metal objects, some of which he would pick up partway into a song, tap once and then place on the ground not to be used again. But that note needed to be there.

It has been a musical weekend for me. Friday night the lovely Beth* invited me to see The Morning Benders at the Mod Club. Instead of saying no because I didn't know them and I'm cheap (there, I said it. I wasn't fooling anyone) I said yes because it sounded fun. It was fun! Before the show I had listened to the album about 4 times and nothing felt like it stuck with me so my hopes weren't especially high. But I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of their show and the talent of the band. Their cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams" was swoon-worthy (including bubbles. From the ceiling!). After the concert we chatted in a cafe in Little Italy. They sold my red velvet cupcake to someone else after selling it to me so they upgraded me to a whole slice. I love a deal! Red Velvet is worth it for the icing.

*She already did all the work re-capping this concert so read it here!

Friday, November 5

New Fave Snack

This is not going to blow anyone's socks off but I'm basically in heaven. Over the moon, if you will.

Get this gloriousness:
1. Whole wheat saltines (they are just so much more fibe-ful!)
2. Salt Spring Island goat cheese. That's British Columbia! There is a pretty flower at the bottom and it was an outrageously good deal: regular price $12 (!) for 120ml on for $5! So, still pricey but the creamiest, most yummiest goat cheese.
3. President's Choice (I have found a nearby grocery store that meets this requirement!) has a new double-fruit jam: STRAWBERRY RHUBARB! I'm never going back to regular berries. Although there is still more sugar in it by weight than rhubarb it is just like momma's pie fillin!

Most of my meals will likely consist of these three items until the cheese is gone.

Wednesday, November 3

Keep the Pace

This morning G-sis and I headed out for a morning run, darkness and all (where are you daylight savings time?!). We did 7.1 at a pace of 5:44/km or under 41 minutes. It didn't even feel that fast...tricky! I was feeling so good about the pace.

Then I read about Scott Jurek, ultramarathoner*. The best of the best ultra-runners keep the same pace as I did....but for 100 miles (or more)! Most of the time they are likely even faster but their time counts stops, bathroom breaks, refueling, curling up on the side of the trail and wanting to die. This pace also includes then running mountain trails, covering 13 miles of uphill climb just to do it again later in the course. These are some of the most intense people on earth.

*I'm currently obsessed with reading about ultras. Ultra-running is basically any distance longer than a marathon. We're talking 50 miles, 100 miles, 135 miles!

Tuesday, November 2

Confessions

I haven't run since FRIDAY. I'm dreading tomorrow. I think it is the cold dark mornings.

I made Finnish Coffee bread yesterday and I've eaten half a loaf. It turned out much too crumbly and not dense enough. I theorize that it was a lack of flour: typically I add much more flour than it suggests but this time I decided to follow the recipe more carefully to determine if I was making a horrible mistake and the bread could somehow be even better than other batches. I was incorrect. From now on I will use way too much flour.

There was another one....oh yes. Our top 10 placement choices were due today. I put quite a few "fast-paced acute care" positions up in there. I'm a little terrified and oh so excited. THIS is what I want to be doing!

A Follower is Born

I hate to admit it but I never wanted to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show until I saw it on Glee (I know, BOO). Before the uber hot Mr Shue & Emma* scene I didn't realize how fantastic the music was. Based on this new knowledge a group of friends and I headed out waaaay to early for tickets on All Hallows Eve (also the 35th anniversary of the RHPS) to stand in line for 2 hours.

Verdict: well worth the wait. And nothing like what I expected.

What I thought it would be: A film in a cool old theatre. A dedicated crowed of followers would shout lines in unison at every 5-10 minutes. People would laugh and throw the customary toast, rice and toilet paper.

What it is really like: more awesome but don't expect to hear the movie itself. A shadow cast acted the entire film on a stage in front of the stage and in the aisles. Before the show there was a costume contest (a guy dressed like a Martian - yup yup - from the Muppets won). There was quite a bit of profanity - apparently yelling obscenities and making rude remarks between audience members and cast is expected and considered socially acceptable. There is definitely the shouting of lines at key instances, however, it is a constant murmur over the movie. The script is elaborate, differs from person to person, venue to venue and requires great familiarity with the RHPS. ShanWOW was kind enough to fill us in on a few easy lines before the show started so we could play along. Prepared with my newspaper I held it over my head while Janet and Brad were in the rain and the rest of the audience squirted water all over our paper-covered heads. We were covered in toilet paper (and did some throwing ourselves) after a character shouted "great Scott!". I'd like to go again after brushing up on some of my lines.

Tidbit of information: this is a regular occurrence in Toronto. Monthly that is. Put on at the Bloor Cinema by Excited Mental State. This is definitely the way to see Rocky Horror.

*There seems to be two camps in this argument: some people (TinTin) think it was the best thing since bagged salad and watched it upwards of 15 times; some people find it desperate and creepy.

Saturday, October 30

The plan this morning was to head over to former-roomie's place (my sublet from the summer) just around the corner to make pancakes with/for Ex-Roomie and Jharv then come home and do a project. The pancakes definitely were made and eaten. The homework is still waiting. Those two ladies are my pop culture gurus who make sure that I'm only awkwardly uninformed instead of shockingly and embarrassingly uninformed about pop culture. I found out that Lindsay Lohan has "coke bloat". Oh and that Sarah Michelle Gellar had a baby (last year). Both are my source for all things Britney (everyone needs that kind of source.....right?). I knew I was never leaving when we started the discussion about Cruel Intentions and I said, "We can put it on and I'll just watch the first few minutes." That is never successful. But the film was even more amazing/awful/tragic than I remembered. And the soundtrack!

Inspired by this mid-afternoon nostalgia session we each made a list of top 5 late-90s/early 2000s movies that, well, I can't actually remember the criteria but just that they were memorable, we watched them too many times and, as we discovered while discussing, had some edge.

My top 5*:
1. Dangerous Minds
2. Cruel Intentions
3. Ever After
4. 10 Things I Hate About You
5. Now & Then**

It was also agreed upon while scouring youtube for one particular instance of a Christina Aguilera high note that the first time humans harmonized was likely one of the most beautiful moments of human history. Oh to be in that cave.

*Not necessarily in order.
**This one has been subject to change. Still wrestling with it.

Sunday, October 24

10 Again (but more Hardcore)



A few weeks ago some of us (in the SLP program) signed up for a more official run with the large athletic company I mentioned in a few earlier posts. Thinking it was a free race I went for the 5km but switched to 10 last week when I hit the mark. However, at 7am when I peered out the window to see rain and darkness I started to regret my choice. I moseyed on over there anyway since I had friends to mock me if I didn't show. The music woke me up when I walked through the doors at 8am to sign in and chill. I usually don't eat before I run but I was glad that I ate my banana earlier since we didn't get running until 845am. Around 830 I started to get worried because my running partner (G-sis) wasn't there yet. She sets my pace and provides excellent running company so I was fairly disappointed when I got her text saying she had slept in but would try to make it. Shout-out to G-sis though, she sprinted the 2km to get to the race on time and then still ran 10km with.

I am so glad I went. Unfortunately it wasn't timed but as far as we can tell it was 1 hour almost exactly. The point really wasn't the time though, it was the atmosphere: if I want to do races I have to be more flexible in my running. I had to eat beforehand, which I never do. I still refused to participate in the warm-up because, well, I just don't warm up. It was raining, the route ended up being almost all trail (somewhat painful in fivefingers on those rocks!) and they weren't shy about hills. Even though my legs felt like wet cement around the 8km mark we pushed through to pick up our pace significantly at the end and rolled through the finish at about middle of the pack. I felt so hardcore with the mud up my legs and all over my feet. It was such an invigorating run.

Before the run they gave us great shirts made of the softest wicking fabric I have ever touched. And long sleeves! Thank you large company! Breakfast afterward was complimentary and they had a station to personalize your medal (is it a race if you get a medal?) with engraving. Here is what I got:

No idea why I can't get this to show up in the ideally rotated position. I recommend leaning your head sideways. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Saturday, October 23

Fall Adventure

My brain has shut off. Today Hi-C and I went on a glorious fall adventure through the Toronto of lore with rivers and colourful leaves. I keep starting this post over and over but I can't get it to sound quite as entertaining as the actual adventure was. Basically I want to throw out a bunch of related words and hope you get the point: leaves! Orange! High Park! Tandem Bike! Tea!

Have you figured out what we did today?

Hi-C and I have the fortune of hanging out with the couple who gave us our scholarships*. Every few months we get an invite to do something active with them (and usually drink wine afterward). Did I mention that they are.....over the age of 65 (how does one speculate about this?). They lent us their tandem bike and led us around the city for about 4 hours through fall leaves, over bridges, down busy streets and along Lake Ontario. They just don't quit. We have the tandem bike figured out by now. That is, if Hi-C is in the front and I'm in the back being almost entirely ornamental. As a pit stop along the way they treated us to high tea at Montgomery's Inn where they served us in full 1800s costumes in their replica Victorian tavern.

Today we learned that Milkweed is super cool and soft. That I have no balance and shouldn't drive a tandem bike. That Toronto can be exquisite in the autumnal season.

Here are some classic shots:




*We each received a scholarship to complete our final placements in a developing country (May-July 2011!).

Thursday, October 21

Living for the Future

The future being that unforeseeable time when I don't have to study. My life this week (and most of the week before) has consisted of bed, run, school, bed. Some days I show up for morning class, stake out a room on the study for (with my very own whiteboard!) and hunker down until close to midnight. Start the cycle again the next morning. Dinner last night was one of those mr. Noodles (ok, the store brand...) in a wrapper which I crushed, poured into my "World's Best Dad" mug, added boiling water (thank you student lounge). I need healthier food to support such study habits. That is why my posts have seemed like one big perseveration on running: not a whole lot else is going on. Externally at least. Plenty running through this cranium of mine but, as of yet, I've filtered it from the blog. The joy for me today was laundry. Clean clothes! Reading a textbook at home! On my very own couch!

Looking a little further in the future an adventure awaits. Mid-November trip to Philadelphia! Apparently it is so much more than the Fresh Prince of Bel Air song suggests*. There are museums! And history! And there is cuteness! I was undecided due to the costmoney factor until someone pointed out the Mutter to me. Get this: specimens in jars of deformed things. Um, yes please! Now I'm sold. We have the bus tickets so we had better find a place to stay. I have fulfilled my goal of hosting a couchsurfer (or two!) but have yet to surf myself. JPD and I have decided to remedy this lapse and have sent out copious messages and have received some yeses (yes's?). There is something so satisfying about checking off an item on the ol' life list. Cool sounding city in a very cold month, here we come!

Side note: I have only see some very key places in the winter months. Montreal and Niagara Falls being the most notable. The intense bitter cold detracts somewhat from traveling enjoyment. Please have a warm snap Philadelphia (the sitcom promises I should at least see some sun).

*(that was not the word I wanted...What was it? Word retrieval issues! Gah!)

Wednesday, October 20

Apparently this has Become a Blog About Running

For all of October my blog has been dominated by running. It is an area of life right now that gives me a sense of accomplishment and focus*. JPD informed me yesterday that I have made it because my body now craves movement and exercise; I become restless without it and long to stretch out my legs.

But this post is also to give perspective. I tend to post positive update and achievements on here, who wouldn't? Well today is a realistic post. First, I'm not that good at running but maybe that is why I feel so successful when I hit milestones. Each one is hard-earned. Some people can wake up and run 10km without having trained at all. I do not fall into that category and I never will.

Second, sometimes running just sucks. Sometimes I have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad run. Today was one of those days. G-sis picked me up this morning at 715 for some hill work (to prep for our 10km race on Sunday). We both felt exhausted (I know I got home last night at 1030 after class and studying). I was winded 5 minutes in and it never stopped. We rested at the top of the hills which is not common. I almost threw up after first round of that incline but we decided to do it again. On the way back, a mangled raccoon a foot from our shoes threw off our breathing and we both slowed to a walk in order to recover (it was really mangled....oh the eyes and the guts!). At least we both had an off day.

*I guess spending 12-16 hours a day at school lately has been giving me the same thing. My life currently consists of class, studying, the occasional treat, short bursts of housework and that's about it.

Monday, October 18

Goal Met. New Goal Set.

Goal: 10km (running without stopping)
Achievement: 10.4km
Time: 1:05:17.
Thoughts:
1) WOOOHOOOO!!!!!
2) Living downtown TO is cramping my running style with all their traffic lights! We did not stop but the time doesn't account for all of the time/distance spent running up and down the street while waiting for the light to change. I think our true time could have been 1:01:00 or even under and hour. Even with the higher-than-I-wanted time we were running at 6:16/km.
3) Why did I map a route where 1/3 of it was a "gradual" incline?
4) After a long run is the only time that I ever have to remind myself to eat a meal. Oh right, I ran 10km maybe I should eat something before showering/blogging/making my lunch/selecting a nail polish colour.
5) I signed up to run the [insert name of large athletic corporation here]. BUT I selected the 5km race. Stink. Perhaps they will allow me to switch to 10km and actually push myself.
6) What if I come in last on the 10km? I know I wouldn't come in last for 5km.......
7) When does the instinctual desire to eat a healthier diet kick in as so many have promised me?
8) As my runs start getting longer I'll have to start planning for bathroom emergencies and hydration/electrolyte balance more carefully (read: at all). Perhaps I'll become a [insert name of sports drink here] junky.
9) I hope I start getting the fabled "runner's high". So far it has been largely a myth for me. However, around the half-way point today I did get a brief and mildly-euphoric feeling that got me up the 2 km of inclination. If those would happen more often I may become a believer.
10) Around kilometer 9 I forgot I had legs. They seemed to act independently of the rest of my body. That was glorious.

New Goal: the [dreaded] HALF marathon
Thoughts:
1) Ow.
2) Winter is creeping up (I have a feeling it will eventually make a sneak attack) and perhaps I should be prepared.
3) Wait, winter!? How dedicated am I to this half marathon idea? Brr.
4) Apparently chafing may soon become a concern. Then I'll be a real runner.

Someone mentioned reading my blog. They made a statement like "I don't know how to put it all out there" (shout out to Reese's). To be honest, the stuff I share on here feels like the epithelial layer: very important, crucial protective mechanism but fairly simple compared to all the complex tissues that it protects. This is my 4th entry in the month of October and I believe that all of them revolve around running. Running is my outlet right now but I get my drive from something deeper. The most painful thing is not being able to share my achievement with my (former) best friend.

Monday, October 11

Personal Best

As a thanksgiving gift to myself I went for a run. Feeling good after retaining my 7km last week and inspired by obligatory inspirational story of triumph over adversity in my latest running mag I upped it. 8.25km. No stopping, not even lights. In 51:49 which puts me at 6:16/km. That is a pretty nice pace over that distance. My goal of 10km is not so far off (although I'll need a new goal then!).

Other thought: I may have to bring a friend more often or re-introduce music to my running. I'm close to an hour out there now and a new route makes it exciting but I bet it will start to get old fast. Perhaps putting more effort into my playlists will be the solution.

Saturday, October 9

Update to the Running Update

Since my big runs on wed & thurs I have been pathetically hobbling around. Stairs are the worst. If I sit for a while and have to walk afterward I limp. It is my calves. They feel like they are tearing out of my legs. With-every-step. Enough whining. Luckily it is just lactic acid and not a muscle sprain or a joint problem. I'll be back out tomorrow. The problem lies in the Liberties (minimalist shoes that are not Vibrams). When I bought the Vibrams I was warned to "take it easy", to break in to them. I didn't listen and paid the price with sore calves. I hadn't considered that going back to shoes should be done with equal precaution so I went full-out, not having worn real shoes for a run since May. Woops. The lesson should be learned by now.

Thursday, October 7

Running Update #?

My computer recently had a massive virus. It is chugging along again but I have lost those helpful cookies that tell me what titles I have used for my blogs in the past....ie. Running Update #?.... It was a good hiatus for a few days not to be able to use the computer whenever I wanted. I need less computer in my life. But I can explore that another time.

These last two weeks have been difficult. You might have noticed a less-than-chipper tone to my recent posts. My funk is lifting but in that brief time I misplaced much of my motivation. Starting up this week with a better attitude I thought I had lost some of my drive (and stamina!) to run. Well reader(s), I've still got it!

Monday: I decided to jog out a 7km in the morn' to see if I could still do it, reminding myself that I could stop if needed. Other than traffic lights I ran that course down, much faster than expected. Not blazing by any means but a good pace.
Wednesday: 3km + 20 minutes of aerobics and strength training*
Thursday: approx 6km (40+ minutes). This was my first running epiphany in a while. My running buddy (G-sis) and I were chugging along, close to the half hour mark, and I started thinking how I was tired and could justify taking a short walk-break since I had run less than 12 hours before, we had already been out a half hour, I was slowing down, whine whine whine. It was that I realized I could suck it up. No problem at all, my legs weren't tired, nothing hurt, I was breathing fairly easily. Apparently I just don't enjoy the feeling of challenging my body. So I'm going to start enjoying the feeling of a challenge. No need for stopping, I think it is time to up the distance factor. Except my calves are killing me ;)


*There is a certain athletic shoe and clothing conglomerate near campus that has a fairly ingenious marketing program (not ingenious enough because I won't mention them directly to count as a hit on google). Every evening they have a free running club. Anyone is welcome. The best part is they lend you everything: shoes**, running spandex pants, tshirt, jacket, sports bra, socks. The whole shebang. No need to lug your gear to work/school. They even give you all the sports drink you could want. Let you test their fancy computerized running software and device. They benefit too, of course. The most obvious is that we try their products. The runs also happen to be in the heart of Toronto at rush hour: mob of runners covered in their logo looking fit and fine through the busy streets.

**This company makes a fancy shoe, let's call it the Liberty, that is supposed to be a shoe but also mimic barefoot running. As a supporter and lover of the fivefingers I was curious and fairly ready to tear them apart. I was disappointed when they weren't allowing us to demo the lightest model but settled for the middleweight. Let's be honest, they felt pretty good. Maybe it was just my poor feet used to pounding the pavement bare but I do think they had some merit. Some. But enough for me to consider a pair. Not to replace the fivefingers but as a winter substitute. My lovely non-shoes will soon be unable to provide enough insulation to run in the bitter Toronto winters. My first instinct it to buy the more insulated vibrams, however I'm wary of their ability to last straight through to spring. This may be a good compromise. Not sold yet though.