Monthly Archives: November 2010

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.


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.

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 – PEIRecharge 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).

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.


*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!”

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.

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.