Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vacation Reads

As we prepare for our 2 weeks in Cancun, I've been loading up my Sony Reader with a ton of books to keep me busy when babies nap or when I decide to drop them off at the baby club for a couple of hours so I can curl up by the pool and read.  To top it off, when I turned on my computer today, a reminder popped up about a book that was being released today that I knew I would want on vacation.  Imagine my glee when I logged into the Sony Reader store and saw yet another new release that I have been waiting for for YEARS!   The new Jean M. Auel book "The Land of the Painted Caves" was released today!   Um, ya - that wasn't the one my computer was reminding me about, though.  That one was the new Sweet Valley book...ya.  I'm still a kid.  It's a guilty pleasure.  I won't be ashamed to admit it. :P

So now, a sampling of what's on my reader just waiting for me to tear into:
  • The Land of the Painted Caves - Jean M. Auel
  • Sweet Valley Confidential - Francine Pascal
  • Mile Markers - Kristin Armstrong
  • The 4 Hour Body - Timothy Ferriss
  • The Accidental Billionaires - Ben Mezrich (The Social Network was based on this one)
  • Freedom - Jonathan Franzen
All in all - the reader is stocked up with about 75 books so I think I'm covered for the 2 weeks I'm gone.  If there isn't something on there I want to read then I can only conclude that I am broken.

I've also been saving all of the magazines that have come in the mail so I won't need to buy any.  Let me tell you, this is soooo much harder than it seems.   Fresh magazines drive me bonkers until I read them.   I have a new Fitness, Runners World and Women's Running to keep my busy :)

And, in failing to find a waterproof cover for my Reader..I've packed lots of large ziplocs so I can protect it from the stupidheads who like to splash lovely, relaxing readers like myself at the pool.

Ready for the sand and sun :)  Cancun, here I come!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Race Report: Run for L'Arche Half Marathon

The day dawned like every other day this week - grey with fluffy rain falling from the sky.  When I let the dogs out, the wind that hit me felt much colder than the -6C the thermometer was saying.  But, I have run in much worse this winter and I knew it wouldn't be so bad once I was on the race course.   I'd have JS by my side and we were sure to rock this half (even if we WERE slightly undertrained for it).

I dressed in my go-to race day outfit (winter tights, lulu tank, nike long sleeve) and then threw on my black jacket (which turned out to be overkill)

I met up with her at Eau Claire around 9:15am and we hit the bathrooms a few times before heading to the start line.  J was coming out as our on-course support team and C was going to run us in from the 18K point.   With JS's hubby as our photographer - we had the best support team ever!   J was going to meet us before but at 15 mins to start time, she still hadn't arrived.  I ran to my car to check my phone and, sure enough, she had left a message telling us where to expect her.  Without her at the start line, I had to make a call on whether to wear or ditch my fuel belt...I decided to wear it (though by the second km, I realized it was MUCH too big for me and should have left it)

C showed up right before we lined up and then we were off!   The first kilometres flew under our feet.   We were running 15 and 1's and were trying our damndest to stick to the one minute walks so we could have some consistency.  While we both said that there was no real time goal for this race, having consulted the Runner's World finish time calculator with our 10K time from 2 weeks ago had us expecting to come in between 2:15 and 2:20.   Our pace was really good and we were concentrating on keeping to it and not letting it get away from us in the early stages of the race.   We hit the first water station at 5K and then pushed onward toward Edworthy Park.  By Crowchild, I was swelteringly hot and JS and I were planning how I could unpin my bib, shed my jacket, and get back together in a one minute walk break.  I ended up doing all of the shedding on the run and then just re-pinning as we walked!  I was going to be so happy to ditch the belt and the jacket when we met up with J.  As we were approaching the washrooms (I needed a pitstop) - J was there, jumping up and down on a park bench.   She jumped down and ran right out with waterbottles.  Running along with us in her winter coat and boots, we suddenly happened on an official race photog!  I think he caught all 3 of us in a shot so I can't wait to see it!

After my pitstop (fastest pee ever LOL - the washroom was completely vacant!), J headed for her car with my belt and jacket and pledged to meet us at the turnaround.   Feeling much better, I was ready to go and we hurried on our way to Shouldice Park.   As we entered the park and turned onto the gravel road, we discovered that a) it was glaringly bright from the fresh snow and b) it was super loose.  We really had to watch our footing (imagine running through sand - it was almost like that).  Luckily, we didn't have far to go

When we were coming up to the turnaround, J was there again and she had discovered my camera in my belt so took on the role of our personal race photog!

And then we hit the turnaround at about 1:08 - definitely on pace for a new Half PR for me!

I downed some shot blox and some Nuun and then we took off again.  Not long after that, I heard someone say "Great job, Cori!"  and it was Susan (a bloggy friend who had come to the city to race).  It took me a moment to place her and by then we were out of earshot (Sorry, Susan - I waited back at Eau Claire, but I didn't see you again - I'd hoped to meet in person).  Back across the blinding and loose snow - boy, were we ever happy to hit the pathway again!  Of course, by this point, the wind was blowing right into us. I'm still amazed that we maintained that pace through the wind!

Before long, we were back at Edworthy and J was there, cheering and ready with water again.   At this point, we were starting to feel a bit rubbery in the legs, but still holding strong.

J met us again as we left Edworthy and then she was gone to honk her way back to Eau Claire and the finish line.   My shot blox were not agreeing with me and my stomach was doing a funny dance but I pushed through the weirdness and tried to ignore it.  I shouldn't have had them - my tummy hasn't liked them all winter.  My shoe them started to rub wrong on my heel so I stopped to tighten the laces.  A couple mins later, I stopped again to loosen it (I have a bruise now from the tightening - oops)

At the 16K mark, we hit another water station and geared up for the last 5K to the finish.   At the 4K mark, we saw one of our TNT team mates who was there to cheer on another friend, but had a cheer for us too :)  Thanks Libbey! 

When we crossed over the bridge again at 10th street, we knew we were almost home.   My right knee started to complain a bit, but I felt otherwise quite great!   Our pace was slowing by this point, though nowhere near as much as it has slowed in past half marathons for me.   C met up with us, shortly after the bridge and helped motivate us to the finish.  When we came across the suspension bridge over the river, JS's hubby was there to take our photos on the way in (See? FANTASTIC on-course support for us this race!)

My knee was REALLY complaining by then, but we were so close so I pushed through it and headed for the finish.  As we came around the last corner and saw the finish line, I could see J there with my camera.  C left us and we headed for the finish.  Not much of a finishing kick in us, but we did it and we did it undertrained and in a GREAT time!  And I didn't drool on the guy who handed me my medal - so that's progress in itself!

Finish line video that J took (we're the 2nd couple to cross):

My Garmin said 2:18:58, but I knew it had paused when I had to stop to adjust my shoe a couple of times.

Official Time: 2:19:18

(a new half marathon PR for me by 4 seconds shy of 12 minutes)

Two runners who rocked a half marathon today:

Our fabulous runner girls who supported us through our craziness (J even trained through the winter with us, even though she wasn't running it)
J, Me, JS, and C

The newest bling for the medal whore in me:

The Garmin proof:

So, how do I feel now?  Pretty good, actually.  I did another crazy runner thing today and had my very first ice bath.  It wasn't nearly as bad as I'd thought it would be.  If it helps, I'll be doing them for all of my long runs in marathon training this summer!

My knee is quite sore, but I have barely any muscle soreness.  That will probably change by tomorrow, but in the past I wouldn't be able to walk normally by this point in the day so that's more progress :)

Now, for the fun fact of the day....I found out yesterday that the people in the 1K fun run/walk also got the same medal as the people in the half.  Good thing we were using it as motivation or I might be ticked for not knowing that and training so hard in -28C LOL

Friday, March 25, 2011

Run for L'Arche: The SWAG!

I picked up my race package yesterday for the half I am running tomorrow.   When they handed me the tote bag, I was a little surprised at the HEFT of it.  All I was expecting was a shirt and a bib.

 In addition to the tech shirt and bib, the bag contained all kinds of goodies (almost all emblazoned with the sponsor logos)
  • reusable tote bag
  • waterbottle
  • bottle of water (oops - drank it and forgot to include it in the pic)
  • silicone bracelet
  • lip balm
  • clif bar (mmm, maple nut - can't wait to try this one)
  • copy of Impact magazines Running Issue (already had it, but it's always so good that 2 copies isn't a bad thing)
I got the shirt in a Large for the sleeve length, but it is actually a bit on the big side.  No worries - I figure I'll likely only wear it over top of other stuff so the extra room will be handy to have.  It's another white shirt unfortunately (Me and white don't have a good relationship history), but it's a nice mesh one. I'm sure it'll see lots of wear until I spill post run coffees on it too often and it is stained beyond recognition :P  

The timing chip is on the bib again.  I've taken extra pains to keep it flat but, DAMN, I hate those bib chips.

So, there you have it.  This is a new race and they are obviously pouring their hears, souls and promotional merchandise into it.   I'm excited to see what tomorrow brings when we get to the start line!  Or better yet - the finish line with a shiny new medal for my rack!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Feeling better...but oh, so busy!

My usual course of treatment for any type of illness - my magic multivitamins - have once again done their work.   My cold has threatened to advance a couple of times, but each instance has been met with severe opposition by my multis and I am finally on the mend.  Just in time too...ONLY TWO DAYS UNTIL THE RUN FOR L'ARCHE HALF!!! EEEEK!!!!  I'm picking up my race package today!  Yay!

Other than that - sorry I've been so absent this week.   With less than a week until our family vacation, I have been running around like a chicken with her head cut off trying to get everything done.   We're about 99% packed (really just need to throw in the last minute things now) and I am getting everything together for our many pets to go on their vacations as well.   I've spent the last couple of days running around shopping and getting things in place.   Adding to the busy-ness has been my work stuff - trying to ensure I have a job to return to in May and attending orientation sessions for our new building.  It's been insanity!   Today, I take the girls for the last of their travel vaccinations and get my hair cut and coloured (well, kinda.   My marvelous Brandi is going to do low-lights to blend out the root line from the purple).  Hopefully, after today, I can just go into coast mode and relax a bit until we leave!   Never have I ever earned a vacation like I've earned this one!

Monday, March 21, 2011

MOMday - Behind the Scenes

As my girls explore the world around them and exercise their curiosity, I have come to the conclusion that I am getting a behind the scenes tour of almost everywhere we go.  If they are powered by their own little legs, I am usually chasing them out from all kinds of places.  I can't even begin to tell you how many backrooms I have visited in stores.  The kitchen in our local bakery? yep - been there (and, unfortunately, the girls now know that they have jujubes back there that the bakery ladies will feed to them if they visit).  Every office in our local health unit - visited.   I've also assisted Toys R Us withe replacing all of the pricetags that Goober switched on them (that was fun).  

If we are shopping and I am stupid enough to let them stretch their legs, we then get to check out what it looks like behind the counters in the stores.   You have to be really quick with that one because they are both drawn to things with buttons that light up and you could potentially screw up a stores computer system that way (not that it happened - yet - ahem)

The tricky part is that they are reaching the magical age where sitting in the stroller all day with just a couple of walk/play breaks cuts it anymore.  They know they have the power to go and they want to use it.   I find myself longing for the days where I could kill a day in the city (we only have one vehicle so I would plan my errands out that way to minimize trips) and they would sleep in the stroller at naptime and play quietly the rest of the time.   Now it is wail to get out.  Shimmy arms out of straps and try to get out.   Wail some more.   Kick up a stink if I try to put them back in after a diaper change.   Run in opposite directions as fast as they can as soon as their little feet touch the ground.   Did I mention the wailing?  

But hey - at least I'm getting to see some new stuff out there, right?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Weekly check in

Sorry for the really bad week of blogging this week.  Super crazy around here and I was feeling so run down that I couldn't bring myself to finish the posts I had started...I'll try to be better next week...

I am happy to report that as of this week...I only have 10 lbs to go!  The end is in sight.  The light at the end of the tunnel is almost blinding me!  I lost another 2lbs this week!

I am super duper duper surprised about it, though.  This week was one of my worst for working out.  I've been up almost every night with babies who are wailing like they are being murdered (they aren't - I checked).  I'm suspecting 2 year molar fun is starting so YAY!  we have a fun road ahead.  I hope they cut all 8 in a single week so I can just sleep again.  The last two nights, there has been a baby crying from 1am to 8am...different babies each night.  It's so hard being a mom sometimes.   Then, to top it all off, yesterday a sneaky little sore throat started in on me.  I haven't had a cold get past this stage is over 2 years, thanks to my magic multivitamins (cheapo prenatals from Costco...they are magic I tellya).

It is my hope that I can kill this in a couple of days because...dun dun dun...I have a half marathon in exactly a week.   Today, I had 10K on the old training plan and between my crappy yuckiness and the skating rink nature of the path...we did a whopping 3.58K!  Impressive - I know! 

As for 30 Day Shred...well, it is hurting my knees to do it every day.   I think it is definitely overkill.   I didn't do it at all this week, but I think I am going to add it in every other day or even just twice a week at the least.  I like the routine.  It's very efficient.  It just needs to be done a bit differently than is implied in the title.

As of today, I also officially have my work wardrobe in place!  Thanks to some impressive deals with the Gap Give & Get - I outfitted myself for back to work and, according to the receipts, saved myself about $300 doing so!   I normally really HATE clothes shopping.  Trying to fit super long legs and arms is really hard.  Plus - I usually come home hating the sizes I have to buy.  Well, this shopping trip was a whole different story.  I didn't need to buy long sleeved stuff since I am going back just in time for late Spring so I bought a lot of short sleeves and skirts :)   What flabbergasted me about the whole excursion is how teeny I feel!  I was taking larges into the change rooms and quickly exchanging them for smalls and mediums!  This mental side of weight loss is going to take some work.   I'm used to reaching for the bigger sizes to get the fit in the arms and shoulders and no longer needing that is hard to wrap my brain around.  I'm sure I'll adjust quickly but this initial stage is tougher than I ever expected. LOL.

So, what's on the plan for this week?
  1. Get over this freakin' cold.   and fast.  I can't afford to have it linger.
  2. Make a better effort to get on the bike or get in some sort of movement everyday!
  3. 30 Day Shred a couple of times
  4. HYDRATE!  Get that water into my body. This will be hard because I have a busy week of meetings and appointments, but it is super important.
  5. Carbs.  Need to get my body fueled for this half.  Saturday will be here in no time.  Eat really well!
 Have a good rest of the weekend, y'all. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Give & Get at the Gap

It's that time again, kids.  Gap has a Give & Get campaign going on this week at all of their stores.

The details:

When: March 17-20, 2011

Multi-use coupon gets you 30% off your purchase at stores like Gap, Banana Republic, Old navy, Gap Outlet and Banana Republic Factory Store (the "get" part)

The Gap then gives 5% of the purchase to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada (the "give" part)

It's a great way to save some big bucks at these stores (especially if you are trying to build a work wardrobe like I am :P) ...all while helping a FANTASTIC cause!

Let's get shopping!

Coupon Links:

US: http://gap.p.delivery.net/m/p/gap/gcan/gpjump.asp?p=bp/lls.html
Canada: http://gap.p.delivery.net/m/p/gap/gcan/gpjump.asp?p=bp%2Flls_ca.html

Monday, March 14, 2011

SIZE 8!!!!!

I did a bit of shopping for work clothes tonight!  Imagine my glee at easily fitting into size 8 for a couple of the items I bought!!!  I haven't worn a size 8 since I was 22!

So happy.  Floating on air! I know happiness isn't a size, but I always said I'd be happy if I fit into a size 10...

Sorry - no MOMday post today.  I have a few in the works, but nothing ready to post quite yet...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The ball is rolling....

Eeek,  I just sent in my paperwork showing my intention to return to work on May 2nd.   Dayhome is secured - I just hope my job is too.  I am heading back to a much different work world than the one I left 2 years ago...

wish me luck...I'm terrified!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Official Results are in!

It took me a bit of digging because I was expecting them to just be on my Running Room dashboard...but after tracking down the timing company, the results are definitely up :)


Yay!  So happy!

(if you were in the race today and are wondering about your own times, here's the link)

Race Report: 2011 Diakonos St Paddys 10K

What a perfect day for a race!

JS and I had 16K on our training plan for today so we decided to get an early start and kill 6K before we ran the St Paddy's 10K.   We met up at 8:30 with another of our TNT teammates and headed east.   As we went, it was quite apparent that we had overdressed.  Better to find out then instead of mid-race, I say! :)

It was a super quick 6K and, before we knew it, we were back at Eau Claire and had a few minutes to rest and get ready (read: alter running outfits) before we met up with J for the 10K.

Here we are pre-race:

At 10am, the 10K-ers were given a loud firetruck siren send off and away we went to the west.  We were easily keeping a 6 min/k pace (surprising since we had just finished 6K a half hour earlier).   At the 5K turn around point, there was a water station just begging us to take a glass and we happily obliged, having chosen to leave our fuel belts behind.   The path got icier at around the 4K mark, but nothing too dastardly quite yet.  

As we came up to the turnaround point for us, another water station (chaired by an enthusiastic bunch of volunteers) helped us out again.   By this point, my super cute St. Paddy's fingerless gloves were starting to feel pretty warm.  If I'd had more than a tank on under my long sleeve, I think I would have been stripping by then.   I was very warm.  My doubled up pants were definitely overkill.  Lesson learned.   A quick glimpse at my Garmin at this point told me that I was on pace for a PR if I could maintain the pace!  JS said "Let's get you there!" and we plowed onward.

Unfortunately, at around 7 or 7.5K, tragedy struck.  We had just navigated a large sheet of ice and thought we were headed for clear pavement when, all of a sudden, J hit black ice and tweaked her ankle.   Her pause when we asked if she was ok, told us she definitely wasn't.  For the next kilometre, she tried to stay with us, but soon she urged us on so she could drop back a bit.   I felt really bad abandoning her, but I know if it was me - I'd do the same thing.

When we reached the 8.5K point, we expected there to be that first water station awaiting us.  Imagine our dismay when it had been packed up already!   JS and I were really in need by that point, but we slogged on.   I started to get a pretty good size stomach cramp and begged for an early walk break so I could still finish strong.

After the walk, we said "Let's finish this thing!" and headed for the final stretch.   As we came to the turn off, JS's husband was there with the camera.  He ran backwards in front of us, shooting pics as we flew to a new PR :D

Edited to add: I forgot to finish off J's story.  After JS and I crossed the finish line, we decided we would head back up the path and run or walk in with her for her final stretch (whichever she could do).  As we turned to head out...she came breezing up to the finish line.  Just a minute behind us.   She says the ankle is still sore.  I hope it isn't going to plague her this season!

The time, as per my Garmin, was 1:04:12.   I'm pretty sure the official results will be pretty much dead on that, though I will admit that I am getting concerned with the delay.  They still aren't posted on my Running Room dashboard.   Hopefully when Doodle got a hold of my bib yesterday in the car, she didn't wreck the chip.

I really hate it when they use the timing chips that go on the bibs...

As for race swag...it consisted of a long sleeve tech shirt with really oddball sizing.  The medium appeared like the sleeves would be too short for my gorilla arms so I went with a large.   The large is good for arm length, but I could fit 3-4 of my arms in each sleeve LOL.   Ah well...LS tech tees are always good to have so I'll be happy with it.  I'd also have liked a darker colour because white and I are not buddies :P

The gloves are mine...picked them up at Hallmark yesterday so I'd have something shamrocky :)

They also gave each participant a nifty shoulder bag.  I'll probably use it to toss our dry cleaning in.  Sorry - no pic of that.

Momma's Got a New PR!!!

1:04:12, according to my Garmin at today's Diakonos St Paddys Day 10K!

Official results not yet posted.   If my Garmin is right, then I have shaved 3 mins and 3 seconds off the PR I set in Edmonton in August...oh - and I ran 6K before the race to get in my 16K for the day. Says a little something about how far I've come in the last 7 months!!!

Race report soon :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Friday Reads: Style on a Shoestring by Andy Paige

My wardrobe is slim pickin's on the best of days. The horrible part about being 5'9" and recently losing over 40lbs is that I officially have nothing to wear and I hate shopping for new stuff because it is so hard to get a good fit on my frame.    Since I've been on leave, I've kept to casual basics and I have lots of jeans and hoodies to get me by.  Unfortunately, my impending return to work in May has me shaking in my boots (well, not really - my boots ARE actually work appropriate).   As I am plotting out exactly what I need to build my work wardrobe, I realized I have next to nothing that will work.   Off to my personal library I went in search of my "fashion helpers" and I dusted off this little gem.

Andy Paige credits herself for being a Thrifty Diva and this book is chock full of tips and tricks to maximize your wardrobe building budget.  From how to fit yourself properly for a bra to what essentials a gal needs to work with, she fills up this relatively quick read with lots of handy helpers.   She maps out very clearly what you need to do to build a quality wardrobe that makes you look and feel fabulous!

This was the second time I have read this book and, again, I found it quite entertaining.   She does have a tendency to be a little over-enthusiastic, but that never hurt anyone.   I particularly love the shopping calendar she lays out to explain when the best times to shop for certain items are to help you maximize your budget.   It is a fun read and I definitely feel better equipped to hit the stores in a week or two to see what I can do to get myself outfitted for work again.   Best of all, Gap just announced a Give & Get campaign so I have a 30% off coupon just waiting for me to use in a couple of weekends (don't worry, I'll post the link closer to the date so you all can take advantage too).   With Andy's help - I have a shopping list ready to go and, though I might dread it, I am at least prepared to do what needs to be done.  Wish me luck!

As for recommending this book - yes.  definitely.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

ABCs of Me

I've been seeing this A LOT today in bloggy world.  I'm not usually a bandwagon jumper, but thought "hey - why not?" for this one :)  Here's the ABCs of me:

(A) - Age: 34

(B) - Bed Size: Queen.

(C) - Chore You Hate: Bathrooms.  Unless changing poopy diapers counts...then that one. :D

(D) - Dogs: 2.  One Bassett Lab and one Bassett/Corgi Lab

(E) - Essential Start Your Day Item: Workout.  My day just doesn't go right if I don't move right away.

(F) - Favorite Colour: Sunshine Yellow.   I also love Midnight Blue.   Fun Fact: I am deathly allergic to the colour pink. 

(G) - Gold or Silver: Silver, white gold, any white metal, really...my wedding band is titanium and platinum

(H) - Height: 5'9"

(I) - Instruments: I played Clarinet from 6th-12th grade and haven't touched one since.   I have a guitar that I pick up from time to time, but I'm not good.  I need lessons...

(J) - Job Title: Change Analyst

(K) - Kids: Identical Twin Girls, 21months

(L) - Live: Langdon, Alberta, Canada.

(M) - Mom's Name: Marilyn

(N) - Nicknames: Cor (creative, I know...I didn't think it up).  A former coworker used to call me HardCore for no apparent reason.

(O) - Overnight Hospital Stays: when my twins were born and when my tonsils were removed in 8th grade

(P) - Pet Peave: People who walk in front of you and then stop suddenly without checking if anyone is behind them.

(Q) - Quote from a Movie: From Breakfast At Tiffany's
Holly Golightly: Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany's. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that'd make me feel like Tiffany's, then - then I'd buy some furniture and give the cat a name!

(R) - Right or Left Handed: Right.

(S) - Siblings: One - younger brother

(T) - Time You Wake Up: The alarm is set for 5:30.  Whether I haul myself up at that time depends on if I've been up in the middle of the night tending to a baby or not :)

(U) - Underwear: For running I like Patagonia

(V) - Vegetables You Dislike: Brussel Sprouts.  Hubby loves 'em.  I think they smell and taste like feet.  Though, I will admit - tonight one of the bloggers I follow talked about rubbing them with maple syrup and salt and then roasting them and I thought for a moment that it might be worth trying.  Probably won't though.  Ew.  Feet Balls.

(W) - What Makes You Run Late: Twins.   I used to be chronically early for everything.  Since I had 2 babies, I'm usually running through the door at the last minute...

(X) - X-Ray's You've Had Done: toes, feet, ankles, knees, hips, hand, neck, spine.  I've probably had more that I can't remember right now.  I used to be pretty accident prone in my younger days.  Never broke anything but my nose, though.  Twice.

(Y) - Yummy Foods You Make: I make a killer meatless chili.   mmmmmmm.  One day I'll share the recipe...

(Z) - Zoo, Favorite Animal: Giant Panda.   I plan to one day do a "Panda's Across America" tour and hit all of the zoos that have Panda programs.   I also really want to go to Woolong Reserve in China on a volunteer vacation so I can work with them.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Techy Tuesday: C25K (Couch to 5K) App

I am often asked how I got started running.   I'd love to say that I just bought some running shoes and headed out the door and found that I was naturally talented and just did it.  The reality, though, is that I had A LOT of help in the form of a fairly popular learn-to-run program called Couch to 5K and any running successes I may have had in the last year (success = crossing a finish line) is owed to this program.  It truly is amazing.   In 9 weeks, it will take you from zero to crossing the finish line of your first 5K.  There are many ways a person can do the Couch to 5K program.  I knew that if I relied on setting up run/walk intervals on a stopwatch, I was sure to fail.  Instead, I hit the iTunes store for an app.

There are several apps designed to get you through the program.   I used this one and my husband used this one. Both did the trick, but I am only going to cover the one I used in this post. 

  • Lets you set up your own playlists
  • Does the timing for you - a voice-over tells you when to run or walk
  • Easy to use interface - you can scroll through each day to see what's coming up next
  • Twitter/Facebook integration keeps you accountable/let's people know what you're up to (Great for motivation)
  • Very customizable settings
  • You can re-do a day or a week if you don't feel ready to move on without the app (I never valued this enough until I started using the 100 Pushups app that screws up if you try to redo the program.
  • Must carry a bulky iPod Touch or iPhone to use it
  • Hard to operate with gloves on (I started my program in February when gloves were a must)
  • Not always safe to run with headphones/earbuds (my hubby got around this by doing the program with a group and just using the speaker on his iPhone)
  • Not a free app.  Costs around $3.

It is a pretty app.   Gentle colours.  Easy to use interface.   No real glitches (something I've found to be rare in my iPod app usage)

I really liked this app and I do recommend it to people who ask me about learning to run.   It takes the guesswork out of those intervals and, if you are running alone, it kind of becomes a little like having a running buddy. For all of the joy that I have gotten out of running, I wouldn't have had it if I hadn't spent the $3 to get me started with this app!

I only used the app for the first 6 weeks...I feel I should put a disclaimer in here.  Once the program has me running 25, 28, and 30 min stretches, I no longer felt the need to carry the bulky iPod with me.   I switched to a much more runner-friendly Nano and ran on my way!   Nowadays, I don't run with any music, but using a bit of technology at the start was great for motivation and learning.   It certainly got me off my couch and made me into the runner I am today!

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Real Gem: From the Mouths of Babes

Spoken as Goober retched over the sink this weekend:

"Shit...this sucks"

It might not have been what she was actually yammering, but it sure sounded like it.

Note to us: watch our language better....

MOMday - African Quinoa Stew

After dealing with super sick babies all weekend, I decided that I needed to be proactive in case this bug hits us big people next.  Besides running out to stock up on disposable diapers and wipes (normally we use cloth) and cooking up a big batch of chili.  I wanted to have one more hearty meal ready to go in case we needed it.   Enter the crockpot.

I really don't use my crockpot as much as I should.  Whenever I do, I always marvel at how quick and easy it is to make a meal without thinking about it.  I've even gone on bursts where I stockpile slow cooker recipes so I can do it more often...and I never do.   Today, I knew having a real meal was going to be out of reach unless I made it cook itself.  It's so hard to snuggle a baby and cook a decent meal at the same time!   So, I grabbed my 5 Ingredient Slow Cooker cookbook (Company's Coming) and started to toss in the 5 ingredients to make an amazing stew for our dinner.  I thought I would share the recipe with y'all.  It is so yummy and hearty!

Warning: Contains Peanut Butter so not good for those with allergies.

The pic is a bit washed out...trust me, it is waaaaay delish.

1.5 cups - Chopped onion
2 cans Red Kidney Beans
2 cups - Tomato Sauce
1 cup - Quinoa (rinsed and drained)
1/3 cup - Peanut Butter

Heat large greased frying pan on medium.  Add onion.  Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring often, until softened.  Transfer to 3.5 - 4 quart slow cooker.

Add remaining 4 ingredients, plus 1 cup of water and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Stir.

Cook, covered, on low for 5-6 hours or on high for 2.5-3 hours.

Makes about 8 cups.

1 cup: 348 Calories; 8.9g total fat (0.7g Mono, 0.7g Poly, 1.5g Sat); 0mg cholestrol; 53g Carbohydrate; 15g Fibre; 17g Protien; 547 mg Sodium

(From Company's Coming 5 Ingredient Slow Cooker Recipes)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Weekly Update from the house full of sickies

Ok - maybe it's not a house FULL of sickies.  But when two toddlers are violently ill - it sure feels like it.  Yep - you guessed it.  Goober was hit with the flu around 2:30am on Saturday morning.   That meant my long run this week was all but cancelled.   I figured I would get it in if I could (if she stopped puking, of course) and, if not, then I would need to consider seriously scaling back any secret time goal I might be harbouring for my half in 3 weeks!

We spent the whole day yesterday snuggled up on the couch.  One big sick family.  My girlies are pretty much deadweight right now.  Neither of them will walk or talk.  I gauge how uncomfortable they are by the volume and duration of the grunting and whining.  I think Doodle is starting to pull out of it tonight.  We were laying on the couch and she was upset that Goober had claimed my lap so every time she kicked me, I'd grab her foot and pretend to eat her toes with great relish.  It wasn't long before a smile cracked (I'm amazed it didn't crack her face after the sourpuss look she's had for 4 days).

Anyway - at around 2pm today, Goober had been puke free for several hours so I made the call to sneak off to the city to get my long run in.  I really didn't want to skip it for a couple of reasons:

1) I am feeling like I am super un-trained for this half.  Not getting in my weekday runs has placed a TON of importance on getting in the long ones for me.

2) I really really don't want to start race season injured because I increased mileage too quickly.  The furthest I have run in this training has been 11K!  If I skipped this week, I have 16K on the schedule for next week (including my first 10K race of the season).   It is an injury waiting to happen.

Since I was running solo, I had my pick of locations, but decided to head to Glenmore Landing because it is closer to home, should hubby need me.  It was a bit cold so I didn't want to carry water so I split my run into two chunks...head north for 4.25K and then run back to the car for water and fuel.  Then - if no emergency calls had come in, I would do the last 6K running south/west. 

It actually worked out pretty well that way.   As I was running toward the walkway on the dam, there was a GIANT coyote loping around.   Some runners had stopped, scared, and I paused for a moment to pass the comment "That's one puppy I don't want for a running buddy!" then I carried on.  I think he was just looking for a packmate.  He didn't seem to have any interest in all of the people on the pathway.   It is always cool to see wildlife like that up close and personal in inner-city Calgary.   A bit scary too, because of all of the stories in past years of Coyotes attacking in playgrounds.   Had he looked menacing at all, I don't think I would have been quite so eager to run past him.

The break in my run was perfect - it allowed me to warm up a bit in my car and to guzzle my Nuun and down some shot blox.  A quick pitstop at McD's and I was on my way again. 

I found the remaining 6K were harder.  The hills roll a bit more in that direction and my pitstop had given my sweaty hat and gloves a chance to thaw so I was running with freshly re-frozen gear.   Not ideal.   I ran out to Oscar (the garbage can - I still don't know why they call him Oscar) and back again.  I admit, I didn't run all the way to my car.  As soon as the ol' Garmin said 14.5 - I hit stop and walked it in. 

All in all - an excellent run.   Faster than the last time I ran that distance, too.  I think a normal time for me to do 14K in is around 1:49.  This was at around 1:45.   Running in all conditions this year has certainly helped my endurance and speed.   It will be nice to see how it translates to a longer distance.

As for the rest of the week.  Between dealing with sick toddlers, I managed to get in the 30 day Shred video 3 times.   I already feel stronger and I am actually enjoying the video itself.  I found it makes my inner thighs really sore so it must be working the muscles I need for my distance running.  My inner thighs is where I am most sore when recovering from a half.  It will be neat to see if it helps when I am recovering in a few short weeks.  I plan to keep up the video, anyway.  It's only 25mins long and goes by super fast.

Now for the weigh in....I am down 15.5lbs since January.  45.5lbs total since Jan 1/10.   Yay me! :)  I am actually looking forward to taking new progress pics at the end of the month.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Update on Doodle

After another call to Health Link Alberta today, we made the trek to the after hours clinic in Calgary just to have her checked out.   All day today, she was really lethargic and slept for almost the entire day (I woke her up every few hours to make sure she drank something and tried to eat).  Her weakness was very scary.   She could barely stand up.  

Fortunately, the doctor reassured us that it was likely just the flu and that she will be tired and weak for a few days.  With the puking and the fever behind us, we should start seeing huge improvements this weekend.  I can't wait to see my happy, smiling little Doodle again.  

Really hoping Goober doesn't get it next....

Friday Reads: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

First, let me say, Gretchen Rubin may very well be my long lost twin.  She doesn't look like me at all, but so much of what she wrote in The Happiness Project put to words what I think, feel and do.

The Happiness Project details a year in the life of Gretchen, as she attempts to focus on resolutions to increase her level of happiness.   Each month has a specific focus, whether it be parenting, relationships, mindfulness,  de-cluttering etc.   By breaking the months into simple resolutions, she aimed to increase her happiness in those areas thus contributing to an overall increase in her happiness.  She also identifies truths to live by and routinely comes back to them to show how they support each stage in the project.

I loved this book.   Aside from her penchant for using ginormous words (I admit, I DID need to look a few of them up), she writes in a way that is easy to follow and she articulates very well exactly how each thing she accomplished contributed to her overall goal.   She was brutally honest with herself and it comes across in the book as a raw honesty with a whole lot of self-forgiveness.

I don't know if I would ever have the patience to dedicate an entire year to a Happiness Project, but I do like the idea of a resolution month here and there.   Rubin offers many tips for people who want to do their own happiness projects and, with this kind of guidance, it seems like it would be a fun project to tackle.  After all - who couldn't use a little more happiness in their life? 

I most definitely recommend this one.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

NaNoEdMo in progress...I wish

I am NOT doing so well at editing my novel.   I was able to get in some editing time on Tuesday, but then Doodle got sick and I haven't been able to get anything done on it since.   I'm hoping I can make up for some lost time on the weekend.  *fingers crossed*

Poor, sick little Doodle

It's been a trying couple of days around our house as the first real illness hit one of the twinners.   Poor little Doodle.   When we woke up yesterday morning, I started to change Goober and Doodle sat up, coughed and PUKED EVERYWHERE in her crib.   It was the first time that she had ever puked without an obvious reason.   Sure, we deal with car sickness all the time (she is her mother's child, in that manner) and, when she was an infant, we dealt with spit-up...but never a stomach bug (or whatever this is).

All day, anything that went in, came right back up.  I had her on as many fluids as possible because I didn't want her to get dehydrated.   When she got up from her nap and was still violently ill, I called Health Link Alberta.   We are so fortunate to have a resource like this available in our province.   To be able to call and have a nurse talk us through symptoms was so helpful in calming my nerves.   I had done some Googling before I called and it really only served to scare me.  The nurse I spoke with just asked me questions and reassured me that it didn't sound serious and gave me some guidance on keeping her hydrated and assessing her condition.  Most importantly, she gave me the conditions under which I would need to get her to emergency or our family doctor.

Around Midnight, the puking stopped and she slept through the rest of the night.   This morning - she was very happy to drink down her Pedialyte (2 tablespoons at a time - I wasn't taking any chances here).   She is still very weak, though, and throughout the morning her temperature climbed into a low-grade fever.  So the prescription for the day is lots of snuggles with mommy and a little bit of advil to bring that sucker down.   I'm hoping that by the end of the day, she'll be up to eating some of the yummy vegetarian Jell-o I made for her and I would love to see one of her gorgeous little smiles before she goes to sleep.

The hardest part about having twins and having only one of them be sick is that the other one doesn't understand.  Goober is really upset that Doodle won't roughhouse with her.  Yesterday, she would physically pull me away to try to get some one on one time with me.   Today, she seems to understand it a bit better.  She was bringing toys to her sister and would smooth her hair like I was.   The cutest, though, was when she brought a little doll bottle of disappearing juice and started to murmur in soothing tones.  As hard as this whole sickness is for me, I know it's really hard on Goober because it is like losing your best friend and not knowing why.   It's heartbreaking.    So, while the girlies stagger their naps today, I know I need to make an effort to snuggle and play with Goober to make up for her world being so disrupted.  Hopefully by the weekend, everything will be back to normal.

...my luck, Goober will get this next.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Techy Tuesday: Clarisonic Facial Brush

You may never realize it to look at me, but I do spend a great deal of time, money and effort on my skin.  I've suffered from severe acne since I was 11 - even battling painful cystic acne throughout my 20s and early 30s.   I've tried every lotion and potion I could find.  I've been on prescription medications and creams.  I've even been through 2 cycles of Accutane.   NOTHING (I repeat, NOTHING) has made as big a difference for my skin than using my Clarisonic brush.  Hubby bought it for me for Christmas a couple of years ago (unfortunately he accidently bought the pink one because he liked the idea of the money going to Breast Cancer.  I couldn't bring myself to return the charity one for a nice white one so it is one of the few pink things I own)

Since that day, I have used the brush once a day - twice was too much for my sensitive skin.  It took a bit of experimenting to find a cleanser that I liked to use with it, but I finally settled on Philosophy's Purity Made Simple (this will change when I run out of my current bottle since Philosophy was recently purchased by Coty - a company that unabashedly tests on animals).  Together, this has given me the power to take control of my skin and my acne. 

It didn't take long after starting to use the brush to see results.  Within a couple of days, my skin was smoother.  Within a week, it was noticeably clearer.   Whenever I have the misfortune of having a cyst appear - the brush takes care of it in a couple of days - instead of my having to deal with the pain and pressure of it for a week or three.  Best of all - I now go a month or two without even GETTING a cyst.

The technology doesn't come cheap. Sephora sells the brush for around $200 US.   I thought it was expensive at the time, but within a couple of months, I considered it paid for because of how much better it worked than anything else I'd tried.

I understand the brush works on the principle of exfoliation.  I'd tried other exfoliation methods before and, honestly, none of them are as effective as this little brush.  It was developed by the same team that developed the Sonicare Toothbrush and it gently scrubs the hell out of your skin.   I like that it beeps every 30 seconds to remind me to move to another area of my face.  I like that the brushes come in different levels of softness so I can choose the one that works best for my skin (I love the sensitive brush).  I also love that it makes me want to take better care of my skin. 

I used to be the type of girl who changed her products every time she ran out.   Everything seemed to work the same as the last product.  I've had my Clarisonic for 2.5 years now and my routine has stayed the same (well, I had to adjust a few of my other potions when I was preggo, but I digress).   Nowadays, the only time I get a big breakout is if I change something or get a facial.   The rest of the time,my skin is soft and pretty much clear.  When you've spent 20+ years dealing with really bad skin - it doesn't take much to make you call your skin clear.  As far as I'm concerned, this brush is magic :)

Welcome, National Novel Editing Month!

All of a sudden it's March 1 and time to start editing my Nano novel!  Exciting stuff.  So I have opened up Scrivener and, once the babies are down for a nap - I will start to polish it page by page until it is a much better book (hopefully) than it was at the end of November.  I'm excited to see what my book will become!

End of February Resolution Check In

Alright - I know February is the short month, BUT is it just me or did that go by ridiculously fast?

1) Lose 25 more pounds (hopefully before we go to Mexico so I won't scare small children on the beach in my bathing suit) 

I'm down 14lbs.  I don't think I'll hit my goal before Mexico, but if I am down to the 20 lb mark by then, I'll be happy.  It'll be nice to see the 150s again!

2) Aim for one race each month 

After my lamenting not doing the Hypo Half in February (the medal is soooo purdy), I am looking forward to my race season ramping up in March.  Two races are on the calendar, including my first half of 2011!  I've also made the decision to take on the challenge of a full marathon this fall so my summer racing schedule will be fit in around the training for that!

3) Eat less junk food and aim for good nutrition 75% of the time. (c'mon - I KNOW I won't meet 100%)


Lately I have no desire to really eat much.  I had a couple big junky breakdowns in February, but I think I'm eating really well over 75% of the time.   I've been eating far more whole grains than ever and I am feeling much better for it!

4) De-clutter our home considerably.  If we don't use it - we lose it.

Still in progress :)  The rubbermaid bins of garage sale stuff are starting to really pileup.  I need to find a new place to put them because it's almost impossible to get into my little office/studio because of them.

5) Work on my posture.   I know I will look considerably slimmer if I just improve that.


My sore neck and back tell me I need to concentrate on this more in March.

6) Be able to do pushups on my toes like a big girl.   100 Pushups will be my best friend.


I have kind of been derailed on this.  I made it to week 5 of 100 Pushups on my knees and then I just stopped.  I want to pick it up again, though.  I am starting to see and feel muscles in my arms and that motivates me.  I just really dread the whole pushup thing so maybe I need to just focus on maybe knocking out 25 pushups every other day on my knees and then gradually start adding in toe pushups.   I'll give it a go in March and see how I progress.  I don't need to do 100 pushups on my toes, but if I could do 25-30 of them, I'd be happy (and so damn proud of myself)

7) Edit my Nano Novel

Editing starts today.  I can't wait!

8) Complete at least one university course for my degree

Still not registered for one, but I will be before June!

9) Download Garmin at least once a week 

Haven't been so good at it this month, but will strive to do better.