Thursday, December 30


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?

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.
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.