Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Reads: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

So much for my romancey streak...I know - you're all devastated.  But I simply MUST tell you all about this fabulous book I just finished.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon.

Oh - it gives me chills just to think about it.  So good.

The year is 2059 and clairvoyants in London are forced underground by SCION because their mere existence is illegal.  If they are caught - they are killed...or so everyone is led to believe. Paige Mahoney is one of these clairvoyants, but a very special one - a Dreamwalker.  Her job is to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. Working for one of the biggest Mime-Lords, Paige has steady work and the protection of the syndicate she works for.   That all changes one day when she accidentally kills the guards who have entered the train she is on with the intent of arresting her.   Killing them without bloodshed or struggle - her spirit simply walked from her body and took care of the threat.

Shortly after, she is rooted out of hiding and arrested...and brought to Sheol I.  This is where she discovers that the voyants haven't been getting killed by SCION - instead, they are imprisioned and trained by a new enemy.  The Rephaim.   Creatures of the underworld who say they are protecting SCION from cruel, human-devouring beings called the Emim.

More importantly, though, is how important Paige is to the leader of the Rephaim.   Nashira, the Blood-Sovereign, collects those talents she wants for herself and absorbs them into her, for lack of a better way of describing it.  When the Blood-Consort, Warden (Nashira's betrothed), selects Paige to be his pupil, eyebrows raise and an interesting relationship develops between the two that left me guessing why his loyalties to the Blood-Sovereign were so strained.

Add to this that Paige's former Mime-Lord is also on Nashira's list and a whirlwind adventure is embarked upon where loyalties are tested, friendships are tried, and it is hard to see who will fall next.

I am not going to recap further because it is such an interesting read with a complex social structure and interesting character relationships.  I find it hard to believe that this work came from an author barely into her 20's - it is so rich and vibrant.  You really must read it to believe it.  Hell - it's worth reading just for the food descriptions.  I am no foodie, but the author must be because every time she started to talk about the food, my mouth would water. LOL.

 I really do think it's worth reading if you like a little Dystopia or a little paranormal in your day. Apparently there are more to come in this vein and I am quite looking forward to them when they arrive (the next one is out this October).

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

88 Days to Go

I was going to title this differently, but let's be real here - I am working toward an end date and this will serve as a reminder of how little time I have.

So, how did this week go?  I know you've all been waiting with baited breath for the answer. (Ha!)

It went well.  Really well.

I am down 5 lbs from where I was last Monday when I started.  Yay for small wins.  I haven't taken any measurements yet and probably won't until the end of March when I take new progress photos.  I'm still not posting the before shots until I have something to compare.

My Unbreakable Rules have kept me right on track and I am feeling really good about my decision to use them.

I am eating really well.  I have been bringing my lunch everyday (except today, where I forgot to grab my prepared lunch out of the fridge - GAH!) and being much more choosy about my treats.  I only had candy once last week.  This is a HUGE thing for me.  Turning out the kitchen light has been really has having baby gifts to knit and a page-turner book to read.

I ran 37 slow kilometres last week and fit in one session of resistance training, some planks for core work and not nearly enough stretching. With the exception of Monday (Rest day) I managed to get in my 10,000 fitbit steps each day.

Unfortunately, I came to the realization last night that the shin pain I've been having is really likely shin splints from a combination of my calf muscles still being too tight after the hammock injury and from ramping my mileage too fast at the end of my training for hypo half.   My own stupid reality and I am going to have to slack off a little bit to help them heal.  I am planning to swap a couple of my runs for walks each week and see if that doesn't help until I can slowly turn them into runs again.  I will probably also add in some crosstraining on the bike to take the stress off.  I also ordered a shin wrap, since I find my calf sleeves are not enough, and hope that arrives quickly.

I am also starting to feel a bit run down.  Everyone around me has been sick ALL WINTER and I have been pretty remarkably healthy.  I am fighting something right now and am hoping to win again.  If it attacks my lungs, though (like it appears to be trying), my shins might get some extra rest.

So with 88 days to go - I am feeling really good about my start.  Wouldn't it be awesome if I ended up needing to buy all new swimsuits before I go?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Basement Long Run

Yesterday, my twitter feed had filled up with runners complaining about how slick running was in the city.  This just added to my resolve to avoid the dip in the thermometer and just stay inside for my long run this week.   I only had 10k to do and that would just give me some extra time with the Doctor and Rose so I leapt at the chance to stay warm and get it done.

I thought I might try taping my tender shin to see if it might help.  I have no clue what I'm doing but figured if I could just support the area - it might help.

Off I went - started an episode and settled into a groove. I felt pretty good.

Unfortunately - the stupid KT Tape doesn't seem to like me very much and within a few minutes, I was doing this to get it off me entirely (there is no sensation I like less than the feel of a bandage rolling off...)

I slowed the pace A LOT and decided I would just aim for a steady state run - no walk breaks, just keep going and maintain 8min/km for the whole thing.

It was working grandly.  After the first episode of Doctor Who, I popped upstairs to check on my kids - who were watching a movie and gobbling down copious amounts of popcorn. I refilled my bottle and ate some honey toast to fuel up for the last half of my run.

I was at 5k after that first episode.  One more episode should time it perfectly.

I found this second half a bit more challenging.   I just couldn't cool off, despite having 2 fans blowing on me.  This isn't the first time I've encountered this phenomenon.  I happen to have this stupid thing right above my 'mill.

Sure, it heats the house just fine in the winter - but it also overheats me when I run during the day.    I decided to just power through and get it done.  By the end I was getting pretty uncomfortable and the second I hit 10k, I slowed to a walk to cool down and started daydreaming of a home gym revamp.

10k complete.  Only one episode left on Season 2.

All cooled off and happy to be done. (Judge me not by the state of my basement...we're revamping the storage room)

Yeah - a home gym revamp is definitely in order.  Hubby did this last one and it just isn't working out for me now that I am actually using my treadmill more often.  I don't think we will need to move much to make it work better.  Just rotate the treadmill 90 degrees and about 10 feet north of where it is.  That will take me out of the line of fire of the heat vent and would also provide me with 8 feet of clearance BEHIND the mill in case one day it flings me off. I don't have that luxury right now with the weight bench right behind the mill.

Moving it will also give me a change to spruce up my inspiration wall a bit.

Ok - the wheels are turning.  I have a feeling I know how I'll be spending nap time today.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Four Years of Run!

Today marks 4 years since I started this running journey.  FOUR YEARS!!!!

Happy Runnerversary to me!

Everyday, I can still hardly believe I started, let alone that I kept going.
  • Over 500 runs logged on pavement, trail, track and treadmill; rain, shine, snow, ice, hill, mud, dirt, mountain, hypothermia, country, city
  • 58 races run
  • 2 Full marathons (and now training for a third)
  • 13 half marathons
  • 2 relays
  • 1 Goofy
  • Over $13000 raised for the fight against blood cancer
  • Too many 5, 10 & 15k races to count
  • So many runner girls running by my side - thank you all for your support!  I am proud to be friends with such incredible women - both near and far!
  • 3500 kms
  • 16 pairs of running shoes
  • Races run in 12 different cities/towns in 2 provinces and 2 states (doesn't seem like much for how much I feel like I've travelled)
  • Steps run in 3 different countries (Canada, US, Mexico)
  • Pounds and pounds of Gu ingested
  • Litres and litres of electrolyte mix drunken
  • Hours and hours spent at the chiropractor to keep me on my feet
  • Two drawers bursting at the seams with runwear
  • One treadmill purchased
  • Two garmins, one ipod, one fitbit
  • 32:04 to 27:35 in a 5k
  • 1:10:44 to 59:38 in a 10k
but most importantly
  • one healthy me who exercises consistently and loves almost every minute.  Yep - that's the most important thing of all.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Reads: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

I must have a hankering for quirky romance this year.  Don't get too used to it.  I must just not have enough books with Orcs in them on my upcoming reading list. :P

I picked this one up after encountering someone reading it in a course I took.  She had been laughing so hard that I figured that was a good sign for the book.

Now for the book.  Picture this:  Sheldon Cooper decides he needs a wife.  How would he go about it?

Intrigued?  Meet Professor Don Tillman - a genetics professor at the University.   His life his rigidly scheduled to the point of ridiculousness.  But he embarks on a special project - The Wife Project - so he won't be subjected to a lifetime of loneliness.  Using his tendency toward analyzing - he designs a questionnaire to find a suitable mate and begins his search.  Through various dating methods - he administered the questionnaire and was continually disappointed that his perfect match was not coming through this.  Finally, his friend Gene offers to filter the questionnaires and send him the candidates that are most suitable.

And then Rosie comes to his door - sent by Gene.  Don immediately assumes that Rosie has been selected by Gene as a suitable candidate, despite all appearances to the contrary.  On the surface, Rosie doesn't fit at all - she smokes, she drinks, she isn't at all what he wanted intellectually.  And why should she?  She never completed the questionnaire.  But he can't get her out of his mind.  When she suddenly hands him a  genetics problem - to discover who her biological father is - he leaps and channels all of the energy he had been putting into The Wife Project into Rosie's Father Project.

The more time they spend together, the more Don wants to see her, but he has convinced himself that it is just the challenge of finding out.  Of helping her.  Of helping this off-beat, completely unsuitable woman.

You can pretty much guess how it works out - man falls in love, even though she thinks he's incapable of feeling love.   He embarks on The Rosie Project to convince her.

This was a really great read and it was a pretty quick read.  I loved that it was told in the first person, from Don's perspective.  This really showcases the Sheldon Cooper-ness of him.  There were parts of the book that were completely laugh-out-loud funny as he makes observations about the normal world from his perspective.   I really enjoyed it cover-to-cover.  I felt some of the "problems' in the story were pretty obvious but I liked how Simsion worked through them.   I can't believe it is his first novel and I look forward to following this author as he puts out future books.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Workout Wednesday: The Unbreakable Rules

So, yeah.  I'm back on the wagon.  I have just over 90 days to whip my ass into gear and get ready for my beach vacation...and I effectively frittered away the extra 150 days I COULD have had.  Reality is setting in - I don't have much time and I need to focus and lose some of this weight NOW!

I did so well back in the day.  I managed to lose 50lbs between January 2010 and June 2011.  But, since I returned to work after my mat leave - the scale has been going consistently upwards.  Sitting all day instead of chasing after toddler twins tends to have that effect.  But, really - look at the last year alone:

Currently - I am much closer to my previous start weight than I am to my low of 2011.   That scares the crap out of me.   I know I am much smaller than I was back when I started because there is a heck of a lot of muscle under that fat.

Luckily, I gave myself a bit of a kick in the pants this weekend and did some soul searching in the shower to see if I could come up with a plan.  Then it hit me.

I forgot about Unbreakable Rules!

I THRIVE with unbreakable rules.  Conditions that I can transform my health that are non-negotiable.

When I first started this journey to health, over four years ago, I was a mess.  But by setting one unbreakable rule, I was able to stick to the plan.   I still follow that unbreakable rule - I can watch seasons of shows I want to long as I do it on the bike or the treadmill.  Yep - still do it.  I won't even commit to a new TV series (I'm talking one on DVD or Netflix - not random, weekly series) without a plan to only watch while I work out.

But that one Unbreakable Rule isn't helping my expanding waistline (or - more specifically - widening butt region)

I need more.

With that in mind - I have spend a bit of time figuring out what I think I can handle for the next three months to whip myself back into shape.   I think I've come up with a list of Unbreakables that can get me there and that will set me up for success as I work through my marathon training plan as well.

Here we go again...

My Unbreakable Rules - 2014 Edition

  • The kitchen closes at 7
    The light goes off and I do not enter it unless I am refilling my water bottle.
  • Only one cup of coffee per day (if any)  
    I have been overdosing on the coffee lately...and I like mine fully dressed so it's not helping matters.  I like my tea black (plus stevia) so if I need an extra boost - I can always switch to tea.
  • Track every bite and activity in My Fitness Pal
    I need to be aware.  Plus - the calculator they have when you finish each day helps motivate me when it tells me how much I could weigh in 5 weeks if everyday was like that.
  • 2-3 BIG bottles of water each day
    I have been slacking on the water and need to get back at it.
  • One special treat per week.  Choose wisely.
    I'm eating far more crap than I need - including eating out too regularly.  This will help me ask myself if I want to spend my treat on this thing right now or if I'd rather have something worth waiting for.
  • 10,000 Steps a day
    I have been wearing my Fitbit for almost a year and a half.  I love it.  I am usually pretty good about getting my steps in, but I want to up the goal to get in that 10,000 each day instead of trying to average out at 70,000 for the week.

  • Move 6 days of the week
    Including one core and one resistance workout to supplement my running.  On the rest day - try to at least stretch it out.  I am not going to commit to a specific workout plan - I will choose my resistence workouts from my collection of DVDs or maybe even from Pinterest.

There we have it.  A new list of unbreakables.  I feel good about this.  I feel like this could work really well and is totally do-able for the next 3 months and (hopefully) beyond.  I am not setting a particular pound goal - at this point I think I need to be happy with whatever I can accomplish before the end of May.  But I feel like I can stick with this and keep the success going so I can be in really good shape by the time all of the other weddings happen later in the summer.

Wish me luck.

Do you have any unbreakable rules to help you succeed? Tell me about them in the comments.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Winter Off-Roading

Now that I am in marathon training and my goal race is so much later than all of my friends running Calgary, I have been looking at ways to run with a variety of people and paces on my long runs.   To try new trails and pathways and start pushing myself again.

I had been reading Leana's recent posts about her XC races with a fair bit of envy.  I've been kind of flatlined on my running lately and my mojo needed a bit of revving - so I got in touch with her to see if maybe she'd be up for some company this weekend...and she invited me along to check out the Nose Hill XC course she ran last week.   Two loops would get me the 8k I needed for my training schedule...and it would also give us a chance to finally go for a run together.

We met up just before 10 at Nose Hill Park and, along with Leana's other friend Tara, we were headed out by 10 on the nose.

Leana had recommended that I wear traction aid to help on a few icy patches she'd encountered, so I broke out my Costco specials (the Due North ones I bruised my feet on a couple years ago) and hoped for the best.

Luckily, on the snowy trail, I couldn't feel them pounding into my feet so I started to feel a bit more optimistic about them, though still not quite ready to trust.

The first part of the trail headed straight uphill (and uphill and uphill).  Tara (the speedier of us) headed up ahead a bit and Leana and I plodded ever upwards.   It had been pretty windy in the parking lot, but on the way up the hill, we hardly noticed it.  That all changed when we got to the top and the tree cover vanished.

and the wind pushed us around.   It was crazy strong.  I kind of wish I had stopped to take a video of this one off-leash sign that was up there - the wind was ripping it back and forth so forcefully that it looked like it might fly out of the ground at any minute.

I mean, just look at what it did to all 3 inches of hair on my head.

But it was so pretty up there...all mountains and sky for miles and miles.

It was better when we turned east onto a side path.  The wind at my back actually helped my pace considerably and I was able to keep up with the other ladies much easier.

Note to Banff Marathon organizers: please arrange for the wind to be at my back the whole race.

When we turned south again, the wind battered us from the side again and I fell back.  Not far back, but far enough that the wind deafened me and I couldn't have followed a conversation if I tried.  So I stayed as close as I could.   Then we turned off the main path, across the snow and into the trees.  This was my favourite part.

We wove through the trees and lost some altitude.  Then we were ejected onto the main path again and it was time for loop two.

Second verse...same as the first....well - not quite the same.   While that wind was cold and deafening - the sun was warm and while we had been running the loop - the sun had been melting the snow and ice and the wind had been re-freezing it.  I found the second loop much slicker than the first.  Areas where the snow had been crunchy - it was now slick.  I was still having trouble trusting my cheapo traction aids (I think today proved I can justify a pair of microspikes)

Before we headed into the trees again - we stopped for some group photos.

and then we headed for the trees.   In the time since we'd last run through there - the wind had completely covered over the approach with snow.    And it was pretty deep - much deeper than what we'd run through the first time.

I'm so glad we did the two loops - that bit through the trees was every bit as fun the second time.  And didn't last nearly long enough.  Soon, we were out on the main path and heading back to the parking lot.

That brought me to exactly 8k.  Leana still had a bit more to add on, but I was pooped and decided to cut out and go run the errands I needed to do before I headed home.

One last photo

Thanks Leana for letting me tag along today.  I had so much fun and it was great to mix it up.  I hope we'll have more opportunities to get out together in the coming months.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday Reads: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Oh goodness - where do I start with this one.   I might as well spoil it right away.  I LOVED IT!   It might MIGHT just be my favourite chicklit yet.   Rainbow Rowell is a force to be reckoned with in this genre.  She just has a way of taking these quirky situations and turning them into great stories that make the reader want to keep going.  That makes the reader care about what happens.  That makes the reader want to find out how the characters worked their way through the maze she has laid out for them.

In Attachments (Rowell's first novel, by the way), Lincoln is the new Internet Security guy for the local paper.  It is 1999 and the job is pretty easy - when email messages are flagged for certain words, he needs to read them then send out the warnings to the senders.   But then he gets sucked into a personal conversation between two girlfriends and forgets to send them a warning.  In fact, doesn't WANT to send them a warning.  And so it begins.  Over the next few months, he is so drawn into the conversations that he finds himself hoping that Beth and Jennifer's messages are flagged.   He has officially gone beyond the scope of his job of monitoring the email and it is too late - he finds himself falling for Beth based on how she comes through in her writing.

He wavers between hating himself for it and continuing to "eavesdrop" because it is the only way to spend time with the woman he cares about so much, since coming clean could only paint him with the creep brush.  It is too late to start sending warnings now.     Then, one day, the emails shift and he starts to make appearances in the conversation (though he doesn't realize it is him they are discussing until much later).  Through friendship, love, marriage, miscarriage and breakups - Lincoln lives to be close to Beth.

Slowly, he realizes his life can't go on like this and begins to make changes for himself - joining a gym, making new friends, finding his own apartment, and, when it finally gets to be too much for him, leaving his job at the paper and coming clean to Beth.

I can't write more without spoiling a truly phenomenal read for you.  Suffice it to say - this book is the best of Rainbow Rowell's books that I have read to date.   I loved reading a chicklit told from the male view.  I also loved how the story swung around.  I loved that the story could have had a creepy, voyeuristic tone yet didn't feel creepy - I always knew how Lincoln felt about reading the messages and how trapped he felt in wanting to see how the story continued.  I loved the emotion in the story and how I was completely sucked into it - half wanting to see how it played out, half wanting it to never end.

With Valentines day upon us and the long weekend ahead - I think you should pick this one up too.   It'd be a lovely way to spend a weekend.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sick Day Burn

Day two at home with the hacking hooligans.  Thank goodness they like to nap long when they are sick.  As soon as I was sure they were asleep - I headed to the basement.

Besides - I had new shoes to break in...and 5k on the marathon schedule...

These are NOT as pink as they look.  Violet - I swear. 
And the Doctor had been missing me.

Of course, I had serious technical difficulties.  My tablet decided it needed to auto update and that always screws with the wifi.  But once I put an end to that nonsense - we were good to go.   I just ended up walking a fair bit at the start to troubleshoot and the running was really slow.  I've had some shin pain since Hypo Half on Saturday (likely from not stretching after) and it took some time to warm up so it went away.

So, while the workout itself took longer than planned to get this distance in, but I got er done. and my brain was much happier when it was done.

Then, Buggie woke up and we did a little kettleworx while we waited for Doodle to wake up.

I am officially worked out for the day.  Time to rest and recover.  Momma's gotta snuggle her sick girlies (and hope they don't pass this stupid plague along to me).

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Let the Marathon Training Begin!

Ok - it's official.    I am now in marathon training.  and I intend to plan for success.  My marathon is arguably the most important race I have on my calendar this year and I plan to give it the reverence it needs.   I've barely squeaked by in my first 2 marathons.  I want #3 to be better.  To show that I learned a thing or two along the way.   To get there healthy, uninjured, down a few pounds (instead of gaining the marathon 15 I've gained with the other two) and happy.   I want to feel ready when I line up in Banff on June 22nd.

The plan still needs a bit more tweaking, but it is up on the Run tab of my blog.  I need to figure out my specific hill and speed workouts but I have a bit of time before I plan to add them so I will be focusing on slow and healing still for a few weeks.  I also need to rework the month of may to accommodate my trip to Punta Cana better.

My benefits at work allow me to claim running shoes so I headed out on Friday to get a new pair.  Then, I discovered that I had more money available in my benefits than I thought so I went out and cornered the market on 2 more pairs that Sport Chek had on clearance (buy one get one 50% off).   Three pairs of runners for $200.  None too shabby :)

And just look at those colours.  All violet and yellow and black and yummy.   Can't wait to start breaking them in.

I will be making a real effort to meal plan and eat healthier.  Less eating out.  Better planning of lunches for work, etcetera etcetera.   I already have a head start for meals this week, though I must confess I had a bit of a junk food binge today so need to put an end to those for this to succeed.

Most importantly, though, is that I am excited to start.  It feels good to have a really big goal again.   Heres hoping I can make a better show of it this time around.  I don't know if I will be able to blog every training run, but I'll try to do some regular weekly update recaps.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Race Report: Calgary Hypothermic Half 2014

AKA - the one with all of the pee jokes in my head

AKA - the day I earned my personal worst

AKA - the one I was so sure was mapped out by the same guy as Chestermere

But let's go back a couple of days, shall we...

I knew package pick up was on Thursday and Friday and, since I need to pick up hubby everyday down near Eau Claire - I had decided to go Thursday since Friday was the one day I didn't actually need to pick him up!

I realized at around 7pm, when I was back in Langdon, that I had forgotten.  Doh!

But never fear - hubby fixed it on his lunch break and grabbed it for me.  Phewf.

Nothing too special.  Just a bib and the hat and gloves that come with the race, plus an issue of Running Room Magazine.  The hat and gloves fit perfectly.  Not sure how much I'll wear them, but it's hard for me to find gloves that fit so I am sure those will get some wear on warmer days.

I did wish they had included a printed map since having one at package pickup hadn't really done me any good.

I laid out a few things last night but I woke up feeling really unprepared.   I ate breakfast, had my coffee, fed the girlies and got ready to go.  With such a drab day ahead, I decided it was time to SPARKLE.

I wanted to be able to park in the Fort Calgary lot so I aimed to be an hour early.  Turns out that wasn't early enough.   The lot was full when I got there and street parking turned out to be maximum 3 hours!  Since I anticipated that it might take me 3 hours to run the thing and I was an hour early...well - that was not so good.  I luckily found a parking lot a few blocks away with a more generous time limit.  And then I ran to Fort Calgary from there.   It was so cold there is no way I could have walked it..  -18°C with a windchill of -26°C I might have had hypothermia before I even got there!

Once I was inside, I headed straight to the washrooms.  The line was so slow and once I got to the front of it, I saw why...only one stall for a race that was (at least) half women.

Shortly after, I found Tina and Sue and we killed time before the race with a few photos.  I'll post the nice one since I am sure the ones with the big "eff you" to the weather will show up in a few other places...

Before we knew it, it was time to head out to the start line.

Now my race strategy was pretty simple.   Go slow.  Don't fall down.  Don't get injured.  Be prepared to walk.  Capture snowflake medal.

I was NOT concerned with pace and time.  In healing my hammock injury, I learned that slow is best for me right now.  I also know that I hadn't trained well for this so I wasn't willing to risk anything.  If I had to walk it and my finish time was 3:22 then so be it.  I needed to finish healthy and happy.   and, on a day like today, not frozen to death.

Hypo half in Calgary can go any number of ways weather-wise.  It's a little like roulette.   Some years it is unseasonably warm.  Some years it is unbearably cold.  Some years it is mild.  You never know what you're gonna get.   To make it even trickier - you have to register well in advance because this thing - BOTH WAVES - sell out.  EVERY year.

This year I was taking my chance...and the roulette wheel landed on unbearably cold.  But I know winter running along those pathways.  I was 99% sure I was dressed fine for it.  I just had to warm up and it would be all good.

So, we were on our way.  Sue, Tina and I started together.  My vague, overheard understanding of the route told me we were running west and back. Imagine my surprise when we suddenly turned EAST!  And looped around Fort Calgary and then headed west.

I had immediate visions of Chestermere - my ultra-half back in the summer.  

But I kept going.   At the first walk break, Sue decided to pull ahead and keep going so I stayed with Tina and we picked up another lady - Karen - who stayed with us for a few kms before also pulling ahead.  Tina and I were on our own.  I was alternating between perfectly warm and freezing cold, depending on the level of windbreak along the river.   

There may have been a few odes to the weather.

But we kept going.

Even when we started to notice that our watches were consistently a kilometer ahead of the posted signage.

We crossed over at Crowchild Trail and the temperature plummeted.  No windbreak meant my ears were numb.  Thank goodness for the hood on my running jacket.  It truly saved the day.

Of course, there was soon a sharper problem than cold ears.

By 7k, my bottles were icing up. And we had yet to see an aid station  It was around here that my phone stopped working too - so no more photos for the rest of the race.

Now we were seeing people on their return trip.  We kept going west and I just kept wishing that the whispers of the turnaround being at shouldice were wrong.  I pulled ahead of Tina at this point.  I was feeling really strong and wanted to go with it.   

A bit before Edworthy, I passed Sue going the other way and, with a high five she assured me the turnaround was soon.  I immediately figured that meant it would be at the washrooms and relief washed over me.  I pretty much HAD to get to a washroom or I was going to pee my pants out there.  With renewed purpose - I pushed forward.  

The turnaround came sooner than that.  And the only water station of the whole race - it would turn out.  To get to the washrooms, I would have had to run another third of a km to get to them.  I already worried that the course was long - that would have been too much for me.   I decided to tough it out.  If it got really bad - I figured I would run into a restaurant or detour to eau claire or something.  We'd just call it bladder training for now.

When I got to Tina, she decided to turn around right there and stick with me again.  We stuck together for a little bit but then I pulled ahead again.  By Crowchild I had lost her.  When I got to Peace Park, I left her some funny messages in the snow - figuring she'd get a laugh when she saw them.  I had no way of knowing she'd be on an adventure of her own before then.  I wish my phone wasn't dead there so I could have had photos...

I tried hard to not concentrate on my grumbly bladder.  I started to role play in my head.  I'll admit, most of these were me pretending to be the Doctor's companion and figuring out scenarios where me and the Doctor landed somewhere in the TARDIS.   It was good distraction.  

There were no volunteers and the signage was getting fewer and far between.   I found myself checking for other racers all the time to make sure I was still on track.   It appeared I was.

I didn't know where I'd be crossing back over the river.   I passed the Peace Bridge and Edmonton Trail and the signs still pointed to stay on the North side of the river.  I filled with a sense of dread when I realized it was going to be the Zoo bridge.

It was incredibly hard to pass Fort Calgary on the other side of the river and watch, in slow motion, as all hope of quick washrooms passed me by.   My legs and feet felt good, but the running was jostling my bladder seriously bad by the 17k mark.   It was also making my nose run like crazy.  Yet, powerwalking was keeping me at almost the same pace as my running had been.   So I decided it was time to walk.  I was just going to walk it fast.

I had to keep that 3 hour pace bunny behind me.   I didn't have a time goal, but it turned out my pride was still intact.   I pushed as hard as I could.  and soon I was picking off runners.   My pace was around 8:30 and I was killing it.  So I kept it up.

At 20k - I started cracking jokes as I passed people "Only one more kilometer and then we can pee, ladies!"   A couple of people even laughed.   Possibly even with me.

Crossed over the bridge and started heading west again.   As I was coming up to Fort Calgary - suddenly I saw Tina again.  She was coming around the path from a completely different angle.  I couldn't figure out how she would have gotten ahead of me and then onto that path, but it's her story to tell so I am sure you'll get to read all about it soon enough.

My watch was over 21.1k, but not as badly as I thought it would be.  But if they made me run that same loop as the start again - I couldn't guarantee the safety of the course marshall directing me that way.

Boy were they ever lucky when they waved me into the parking lot.   

I decided to run again in the end.  My legs even had some speed in them for my big finish.  And what a finish it was - with 250 witnesses.  The next wave was just minutes from heading out.

and I finished in under 3 hours.  Barely. 2:59:21  

 A new personal worst, but one I'm pretty proud of.

I mean - just look how consistent this race mostly was:

Look at how even keeled that chart was

If I can do that slightly faster and over twice the distance by June - I could have a pretty sweet marathon finish.

So I may have earned that new personal worst but it was all good.   Because I finally got myself that snowflake medal.  

I wasn't planning to stay for the brunch, but did anyway.  Scrambled eggs, potatoes au gratin (which tasted kind of fishy), fruit crumble, the best scones ever and the all-important coffee.

And now it's all out of my system.  I NEVER need to sign up for this race.  EVER AGAIN.   No way, Jose.  I have no desire to risk hypothermia for a medal ever again.

When I got home, I had the hottest shower ever.  No ice bath for this chickita.  I believe I got 3 hours of that out there!  And then, Doodle helped me recover.