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.
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
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 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.