Monday, December 31, 2012

Oh The Places You'll Go - 2012 Year in Review

2011 was a banner year for me all around so while I had high hopes for 2012, realistically I figured there was no way it could top 2011.  Especially in terms of my racing season.   The first half of 2012 was amazing no doubt.  The second half was a little underwhelming for me in terms of racing but looking back on it now, I'm ok with that.  I was busy working on other things.  Things that needed tending to.  From an racing standpoint, 2012 wasn't as action packed as 2011 (14 races last year vs 9 races this year) but this year, there was so much more to my year than just racing.   Last year I experienced a transformation on the outside.  This year I worked on transforming the inside.  More on that later, let's focus on the racing for now...this is a blog about running after all.

RACING

I opted to tackle the marathon in hopes of getting another B.Q.  Doing a marathon this year was part of my master plan from last year.  I raced 3 half marathons and a bunch of other smaller races in 2011 to try and work at building up my speed.  I lost a bunch of weight along the way and gained a whole lot of speed in the process.  I started off my race season at the beginning of March at the Chilly Half Marathon, the day after my birthday.  I went into the race with zero expectations of myself and ended up beating my previous half marathon P.B. by almost 3 minutes and winning my AG by almost 5 minutes to boot.
Happy Birthday to Me!  Take that 41!
On my way to a PB
3 weeks after the Chilly Half, I ran Around the Bay 30km.  My goal at this race was to get a silver medal (sub 2:30).  The closest I had ever come to that was a 2:38.  Not only did I get my silver medal but I set another PB by just over 20 minutes.  I just missed getting a gold medal (sub 2:15) by 2 minutes.  Next year, I'm gunning for 2:14:59.  This was probably the best race I ran this year.  I paced myself smartly and managed to negative split it.  I can't remember the last time I negative split a race. 
Through the rollers, sucking wind.
Next up, a whole 12 days later, was the Good Friday 10 Miler.  Another PB for me by 9 minutes and 2nd place in my AG.  A much more competitive field this year too so I was pretty happy about the second place.

The beginning of May was my "A" race - the Mississauga Marathon.  I had hoped to break 3:20.  An aggressive goal for sure but one that I was confident I could manage if I was smart.  It was a tough race and I wasn't properly dressed but I managed to pull off a 3:18 and land on the podium again as the 3rd place female masters finisher.  Say what?
Somewhere around the halfway mark, before the foot cramps started
Next up, just 3 weeks after Mississauga, was the Toronto Women's Half.  I had no clue how my legs would feel.  I hoped that I had recovered enough from the marathon to run a good race.  Sure enough, I pulled off a course PB of 1:32:09 and won my AG.  An amazing improvement on 2011's 5th place in my AG and a 1:41:52.
Pic courtesy of Barbara Goss
After this I decided I wanted to race a 5km.  So in June I ran Run the Runway 5km.  It was flat but super windy.  I ended up being the overall women's winner with a time of 20:17.  So darn close to sub 20.  If it wasn't so windy, it could have done it.  Ah well.   No pics of this as G didn't come, but I did get a pretty cool medal.


The rest of June & July I focused on getting back on my bike. August was going to be a big month of racing.  I registered for 3 races in a row:  the Toronto 10 Miler, Bala Falls Triathlon and the Toronto Island Triathlon.  Then at the end of July, I tweaked my calf.  Running went out the window.  I missed the Toronto 10 Miler and Bala Falls but I managed to do the Toronto Island Tri.  I pulled off a 4th place AG finish.  Given the fact that I had just come back after almost 3 weeks off, I was pretty pleased.
By September I was right into my training for NYC.  I still managed to sneak another race in there though.  In late September, I ran the Oakville Half Marathon.  No PB here but I did manage to snag the overall Masters Female win.  Wheee.  No pics cause G ran it with me!

October brought the Scotiabank Half Marathon on a very soggy Sunday.  My plan was to run 12km to the start and then do the race so I could get my last 20 miler done before NYC.  I wasn't sure how that would go as I was dealing with achilles issues.  I gutted out a 1:34:16,  which was 30 seconds faster than last year and I had a ton of fun.
Rock on with yo' big bad self!  Pic courtesy of Bob Weeks.
November rolled around and I was pumped for NYCM but alas, it was not to be.  My running took a bit of a back seat after NYC.   Probably due to the fact that we were going to be traveling.  Which brings me to my next category.....

TRAVEL

If you had said to me at the beginning of the year that I was going to take 4 trips this year, I would have said you were nuts, especially since we just finished rebuilding our house in December of last year.  Never in a million years did I think we'd travel as much as we did this year.  I knew we were going to be going to Jamaica (friends wedding) and NYC but I figured that was it.  Somehow we managed to squeeze a trip to San Francisco to visit friends (yay for RBC Avion miles!) about a month after coming back from Jamaica and a trip to Paris just 3 weeks after going to New York.  Ok so the Paris trip was a business trip for G but I was lucky enough to tag along.  I got to run in 4 different places this year.  Amazing.  There are no words for how lucky I feel.  Except maybe THANK YOU UNIVERSE.   I know I wouldn't have made it through some of these trips if it wasn't for the work I did on myself.  Cue the next category.
This was before I discovered the amazing maps in Garmin Connect.  Yeah, I'm a little late to the party.

This was one of my favourite runs this year - through Blackie's Pasture in Tiburon, CA.

My 2 loops around Central Park, NYC
Our first run in Paris, dodging pedestrians and crazy french drivers.  Amazing

 PERSONAL

Last year, I think all the success I was having with my racing helped bottle up what I was really running away from.  Between 2009 and 2010 G and I tried in vain to start a family.  3 rounds of failed IVF treatments resulted in a great deal of heartache.  I initially channeled that heartache into taking control of my body once again.  I did that with resounding success in 2011.  Emotionally though, I never really dealt with all the things I was feeling.  Running helped quell those emotions but not deal with them. Those feelings started manifesting as various anxieties or even worse, amplifying existing anxieties like my fear of flying.  After having a panic attack of epic proportions on a flight to the Dominican in 2010, I decided it was high time I did something about it other than have to take atavan every time I got on a plane.  Mid-summer I started seeing a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist.  She helped me work through the anxieties and things I was feeling and I can confidently say that I can now fly without taking anything.  I made it to Paris and back without any issues.  All the little things that I used to be anxious about don't bother me any more.  Getting this dealt with was the best possible thing to come out of 2012.  I feel like I can live my life fully now with little or no trepidation.  I'm still working through a lot of the emotional fallout but the anxiety has gone.  I think the Universe had to physically slow me down first in order for me to deal with this, thus my calf and achilles injuries cropping up almost back to back.  At least that's my theory.

Most importantly, I wouldn't have been able to do any of this without the love and support of my amazing G.  He is my lover, my best friend, my sole mate and my number one fan and I can't imagine my life without him in it.

Happy New Year to all my readers.  I can't thank you enough for stopping by and taking the time to read my random thoughts and ramblings.  I wish you a year filled with health, happiness and many many miles.

Big Hugs,

PK 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Embrace The Suck: You Might Just Learn to Love What You Hate

We are officially into winter and I have to say, so far, I can't really complain.  For those of you that believe the stereotype of Canada as a frigid snow covered wasteland, I'll have you know that last year we had an incredibly mild winter, and a near record low of snowfall in Toronto.   The year before was somewhat similar, albeit with a bit more snow.  Needless to say, we've been fairly spoiled weather wise, so much so that I've pretty much forgotten what it's like to have to run in the snow.  I always remember hating running in the snow.  And when I say hate, I mean HATE.  I'll never forget the year we were training for our second Ironman.  Toronto got hammered with snow on a regular basis that year.  I couldn't bring myself to go inside and run on the treadmill for 2.5 hours.  I just couldn't do it.  Begrudgingly I would drag my cranky self outside to navigate the snow covered roads.  It was misery. 

Up until Boxing Day we had no snow.  None.  And it never really got below zero.  I was crossing my fingers for another winter of snow free bliss.  But Mother Nature had other plans.  Boxing Day evening brought the first big dumping of snow to Toronto.  It's ok, I thought, it will be gone by the weekend.  Things looked hopeful.  Until I woke up yesterday morning to the ominous glow of fresh powder.  UGH.  What a way to start off my Boston training.  I had a 21km run scheduled and it was supposed to be at a pace of 4:43/km's.  I knew if I ran outside that definitely wasn't going to happen.  I contemplated taking it inside and doing it on the dreadmill.  In fact, the dreadmill almost won out.  But at the last minute I thought, so what if I don't make my goal pace for today?  I decided to Embrace the Suck and do something that I don't like for a change.  Training can't always be sunshine and rainbows.  It was high time I took a negative and turned it into a positive.  You know, turn that frown upside down and all that.  The more I thought about the benefits of running outside, the more pumped I got about heading out.

1.  The Caloric Burn:  I'd probably burn more calories running outside in the cold and on an uneven surface than I would running faster on a hamster wheel inside.

2.  The Extra Leg Workout:  I'd engage more muscles by running on a somewhat slick and uneven surface.  This would give my smaller, and fairly underused stabilizing muscles a good workout.

3.  The Fresh Air:  I'd be outside in the fresh air instead of in a stinky gym breathing in someones B.O.

4.  The Scenery:  Let's be honest, a fresh blanket of snow is a beautiful sight.  Much better than the sweaty guy with a hairy back on the treadmill in front of you.

5.  The Defrost:  There is one thing I absolutely love about running in the winter and that is coming in from the cold, sitting in front of the fire and stretching.  Absolute heaven.

You know what?  I ended up having a great run.  It was beautiful out and, amazingly, a large part of the Martin Goodman trail was actually plowed.   I'm chalking that up to a late Christmas Miracle because that never happens.   Since the trail was actually plowed, I managed to push the pace.  While I didn't manage to maintain my goal pace for any significant length of time, I did manage to move a lot quicker than I actually thought I would and that's a plus in my books.  It probably helped that I had my trusty Yak Trax on. 

A must for anyone who lives anywhere snowy
Sure it was a bit of a slog but there was never really any moment where I hated it and just wanted to be done.  Ok, that's not really true; with a little over 1km left, I was starving and really just wanted to be done.  But I don't really count that.

I'm glad I opted to take it outside today.  If I didn't I would have missed this, and it's a much nicer view than some hairy guys back.

Follow the white toboggan path

Yeah that white stuff flying around is blowing snow.

Do you have an aversion to running in the snow?  
How bad does it have to be before you head indoors?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

My New Years Fitness Resolutions

I'm not usually one for making resolutions.  I usually make a small list of goals and figure out a plan to achieve them.  However, when I read this list yesterday on Facebook, I thought it encompassed so much more than just your typical resolutions.   It was posted by Ben Kaplan who writes about all things running for the National Post.  Yesterday he posted his 49 Running Resolutions and asked readers to put theirs out there.  Since I dabble in multisport, I decided to make this a list of fitness oriented resolutions rather than just running.   I like to look at it as a list of "reminders" vs. a list of goals or resolutions.   It's something I'll be checking back on throughout the year.

23.  Get back in the pool on a regular basis
22.  Take Ben Kaplan up on his Race a Reader Challenge because even if I lose, I get my stride analyzed. 
21.  Stay consistent!
20.  Pay attention to the numbers BUT
19.  Don't let the numbers get to me.
18.  Don't let my head get the better of me:  Remember the glass always is half full.
17. Stretch!
16. Recover, recover, recover
15. Get on the computrainer at least once a week.  Cycling is excellent cross training.

14.  Realize that sometimes it's better to miss a workout so you can hang out with friends.
13.  Get my marathon coaching certification.

12.  Give back to the running / triathlon community by volunteering at a race or two.
11.  Take out the trash in my diet and get back to clean eats.

10.  Break 1:30 for a half marathon, hopefully in October and re-qualify for NYCM for 2014
9.  Go sub 3:20 at Boston.
8.  Remember to embrace the empty miles.  They are just as important as all the others I've logged.
7.  Recognize that falling off the wagon happens, just make sure you get back on.
6.  Pay better attention to what I eat before a race and how it affects me.  
5.  Remember that the foam roller is my friend
4.  Promote a healthy and active lifestyle by being a positive role model
3.  Keep doing my rehab exercises.  Just because I feel better, doesn't mean I'll stay that way.
2.  Don't be afraid to fly.
1.  Maintain an attitude of gratitude even when the going gets tough.  

Do you make New Year's Resolutions?

If so, what's on your list?





Thursday, December 27, 2012

NYCM and 2013 Plans

Well, I hope you all had a fabulous holiday!  I certainly did.  I love this time of year, especially the time we get to spend with family & friends.  I could do without the tons of food and booze.  It seems like it's be a non stop whirlwind of booze, snacks, cookies, chocolates and generally not very good for me food.   Thank goodness to whoever it was that decided that jeans needed lycra in them, I bow to you and your genius. 

As the year draws to a close, many of us runners  have started planning out our 2013 race season.   Actually I'm sure some of us started planning a few months ago (ahem).  I've got 3 confirmed races in my schedule so far and a few more that I'd like to do but haven't registered for yet.  Of course, I plan on peppering my summer with some sprint triathlons.  I'm really looking forward to that!  I hadn't planned out my fall season yet because I wasn't sure what was happening with NYCM.  After almost 7 weeks, the New York Road Runners finally made an announcement. Thankfully they came up with multiple options:

Option #1 - Full refund.  Excluding the $11 processing fee.

Option #2 - Guaranteed entry into the ING New York Marathon for 2013, 2014 or 2015.  Runners will be required to pay all processing and entry fees at the time of application with fees maintained at the same rate as those paid in 2012.

Option #3 - Guaranteed entry into the NYC Half 2013.  Runners will be required to pay all processing and entry fees at the time of application. 

I had figured that I'd be running Boston and New York next year.  But the more I thought about it, the more I thought I'd just like to limit myself to one marathon a year.  Yes, I'd really love to run NYCM but I don't feel that option #2 is 100% fair to those of us that spent the money and showed up ready to run.  I don't want to fork out another $350US on top of the $350 I already spent.  So, I'm going to take my refund and try to re-qualify in for 2014 instead.  I double checked the qualifying standards for my age group and I'd have to run a 1:37 half.  Given my half marathon results over the last 2 years, I think it's doable.  It will give me something to aim for this fall because my race calendar needs some filling in, in the second half of the year. 

I have a few friends that are trying to talk me in to doing a half Ironman this year.  Two of my friends have registered for Muskoka 70.3.  I registered for it the first year they held it but was unable to do it as I hadn't quite recovered from my first laparoscopy.   I have ridden the course numerous times so I'm very familiar with the bike part of it.  I'm not going to lie, I'm tempted.  It's a big time commitment though and I'm not sure I'm up to it.  I'll re-evaluate after Boston.  Right now, that's the main goal. 

Speaking of which, training for that has started already.  Christmas Eve morning I was out at the local track doing my first workout.   Nothing like kicking off your training plan with a 3x1600m track workout.  It was tough but I got it done and I hit or exceeded my goal pace of 6:22 per 1600.   I had to lie down for about half an hour when I got home but it felt good to be out there pushing the pace again.  Yesterday morning I headed out for a 10km run with 4 of it at a tempo pace of 4:17/km's.   I didn't quite manage the 4:17's, probably due to the food hangover I had from Christmas day but I wasn't too far off.  It's put me in a good head space for the upcoming year and sometimes, that's half the battle.



When did you start putting your 2013 race schedule together?  I started in September, ha ha.

What races are you doing next year?











Sunday, December 23, 2012

Reclaiming my Mojo

2012 started off on a hugely positive note for me.  I was coming off an incredible year of racing and looking forward to tackling longer distances to see where my new found speed would take me.  I had a fantastic first half of the year, no doubt.  PR's were set in the half, 30k, marathon and 5km distances.  I won my age group at the Chilly Half and Toronto Women's Half, landed a 3rd place Masters finish at the Mississauga Marathon and actually managed an overall female win at the 5km that I did in June.  But after that, I backed it off.  I figured I needed some down time before I started training for NYCM.  I started riding my bike more as I had planned to do some late season triathlons.  Shortly after that, just as I started to get into really good shape, I strained my calf.   This injury threw me for a loop.  I took three weeks off running and missed two of the three August races I had signed up for.   I was not a happy camper.  That started the slow downward spiral.  I did not approach the second half of the year with the same amount of gusto that I did the first.  I bottomed out after running the Scotia Half but managed to bring myself back up just in time for NYCM.  And then Sandy hit and the race got cancelled.  I was bummed but not overly so at the time.  When we got back from NYC,  I was more than happy to take it easy.  I started skipping my run group, and my weight workouts became inconsistent.  I didn't want to push myself too much.  I was becoming complacent. 3.5 weeks after we got back from New York, we were off traveling again.  G had to go to Paris for work, so I tagged along.  I had high hopes for working out while I was there but it seemed to be less of a priority once I actually got there.  I only ran twice in the 8 days we were there.  I let everything go while I was away.  My normally fairly clean eating habits went right out the window.  It's amazing how quickly my body changes when I don't take care of it.  I came back from Paris feeling well rested but pretty gross.  A week of eating pain au chocolat, bread, not a whole lot of veggies and drinking wine every day really took it's toll on me.   I couldn't wait to get back to normal.

I think that was the kick in the pants that I needed.   My body had taken the rest that it required.  It was ready to get back to it.  I was also mentally ready to get back into it.  The switch had been flicked back to "ON".  I started going out with my group again and after many "false starts" I finally started the New Rules of Lifting program I had intended on starting months ago.   Sure I've lost some strength and some speed, but that can be re-gained.  Losing the desire and enthusiasm is sometimes harder to get back.  I've had a great week of training this week.  I've felt more energized and invigorated than I have in a while.  I had a great long run yesterday, I finally got my 100,000m swim cap and Boston training starts this week.  Things are definitely looking up.  Bring on 2013, I'm ready.






Thursday, December 20, 2012

Playlist Thursday - Holiday Edition

It's another free for all week on Playlist Thursday.  Pavement Runner has set up a poll on his blog so readers can vote for the most popular songs and most popular Playlist Thursday participants.  I actually got nominated in a couple of categories so go on over and VOTE.  He's left it up to his readers to determine their own themes for this week.  Since we're only a few days away from Christmas and all I've been doing is listening to Christmas music, I decided to do a Holiday Themed playlist with some of the songs I've put on my playlist to get me in that festive frame of mind.

The "Rules" of Playlist Thursday:

Something Old: Songs that are at least 5 years old.
Something Current: Songs that have been released within the past year.
Something to Consider: This is the wild card category. Feel free to list any song: old, current, guilty pleasure, underground, whatever.

Something Old
Artist: Chris Isaak
Title:  Hey Santa!
Notable:  I love pretty much every song on this album from 2004.  Some great versions of traditional songs and then a few great catchy tunes.  This one is one of my faves. 
Quotable:  "I stayed up late, I write, I called, it did not good at all, I decked the tree, I wish you’d just deck me, this ain’t no fun.."


Something New
Artist: Jason Mraz
Title: Winter Wonderland
Notable:  This song was actually released on A Very Special Christmas Volume 7 in 2010 but it made it on to this years Very Special Christmas 25th Anniversary album so I'm including it as "new". 
Quotable:  "Later on, we'll conspire, as we dream by the fire, to face unafraid, the plans that we've made, walking in a winter wonderland."


Something to Consider
Artist: Straight No Chaser
Title:  We Three Kings
NotableI absolutely LOVE this acapella treatment of this song.  I discovered these guys last year while searching for some different Christmas tunes and they've become a staple in my Christmas collection.
Quotable:  "Oh star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright, westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to they perfect light."



Feeling festive yet?
Do you put Christmas music on your workout playlist?



Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tell me about your 2012!

Amanda over at Miss Zippy took some time to reflect on her year of racing and wanted to hear from her readers about their experiences this year.  She posted a great set of questions.  I always take the time at the end of the year to reflect on everything but it's never this succinct. I've taken some time to think about my answers so without further adieu, here are the questions, along with my answers. 

Best Race Experience?  This year was definitely not even remotely close to last year's epic year of racing but I did have a couple of excellent experiences.  I'd have to go with Around The Bay.  I raced smartly and actually managed to negative split the race.

Best Run?  I'd have to go with my epic long run that I had at the end of July.  The same day I injured my calf.  It was the first run in a long time that felt completely effortless even though I was running fast.

Best new piece of gear?  This is a tie.  My Oiselle Roga shorts and my Salomon EXO 3/4 tights.

Best piece of running advice you received?  Keep doing what you're doing because whatever it is you're doing, it's working.

Most Inspirational Runner:  Hands down it has to be Krysten at Darwinian Fail.  Despite being dealt a less than ideal hand in the area of genetics, her attitude, outlook and determination to succeed are incredibly inspirational.

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?  Recover, recover, recover.

What was your 2012 like?  How would you answer these questions?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Playlist Thursday - Best Songs of 2012

It's getting close to the yearly re-cap time so at the suggestion of Charlotte over at Wild Things Run Free, Pavement Runner has made this weeks theme The Best Songs of 2012.  I like it, even though I don't listen to popular radio much, there have been a few songs this year that I've heard, that have really captured my attention. 

The "Rules" of Playlist Thursday:

Something Old: Songs that are at least 5 years old.
Something Current: Songs that have been released within the past year.
Something to Consider: This is the wild card category. Feel free to list any song: old, current, guilty pleasure, underground, whatever.

Don't forget to check out the Playlist Thursday Catalog for this weeks submissions!

For the “something old,” Brian suggested naming a song (or in his case) a band that made a comeback this year.   I'm taking a cue from him and being a little more liberal with my "Something Old".  I wouldn't say that this band made a comeback, it just took them 5 bloody years to put out another album.

Something Old
Artist: Rush
Title:  The Wreckers
Notable:  This was the second single off of Clockwork Angels and on my first couple of listens, it was one of my favourites.  It now takes the cake as my absolute favourite off that albumDefinitely a bit more of a "poppy" & melodic effort from the boys.
Quotable:  "All I know is that sometimes you have to be wary, of a miracle too good to be true
All I know is that sometimes the truth is contrary, everything in life you thought you knew.."

 
Something New
Artist: Mumford & Sons
Title:  I Will Wait
NotableAnother song from this album made the cut on a previous Playlist Thursday post.  This was the first single and is probably up there as one of my faves from their new album.
Quotable:  "And I came home, like a stone, and I fell heavy into your arms, these days of darkness
which we've known, will blow away with this new sun."



Something to Consider
Artist: Atlas Genius
Title:  Symptoms
NotableThis song was featured as one of my selections a couple of weeks ago.  Still flipping LOVE this song.  I can't wait till these guys put out a full length album! 
Quotable:  "So, sweet little lover won’t you let me know? Like a circle round and round we go."


 What were your favourite songs of 2012?  Did any of these make your list?

What was your LEAST favourite song of 2012?


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Aurevoir...Just in Time for Christmas

As the cab pulled up, I could feel the grin spreading across my face.  I got out and inhaled the cold, crisp air.  Home at last.  I walked into the front hall, dropped my suitcase, went into the kitchen and hugged the kitchen counter.   Yeah, I was happy to be home.

Don't get me wrong.  Paris was lovely.  The city is beautiful and there was plenty to do.  But it lacked the comforts of home.  Namely a comfortable bed.  Words could not describe the happiness I felt when I actually got into bed at 6:30 pm that night.  I think I actually giggled as my head hit the pillow.

I love a good vacation as much as the next person but I find that I usually fall out of my routine when I'm away.  I get that's part of being on vacation but I usually end up letting my fitness routine slide when I'm away as well.  I can only take so much before I start to crave my little routine again.  I hit that point by day 6 in Paris.   I think my pants hit that point a couple of days earlier, ha ha.  But that's okay.  I kind of like letting myself get just a little bit out of shape so I can work at re-building once again.  Good thing my Boston training starts December 29th.  It's time to start getting serious again.  I've been so inconsistent over the last 3 weeks.  Routine is calling my name once again.  I heard it all the way across the Atlantic.

I was also jonesing to get home and start getting the house set up for Christmas.  This was going to be the first year we were going to have a tree (we didn't have the room for one before) so seeing all the lights and decorations up around the city really put me in the festive spirit.  I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am for the weekend.  G and I are attending a swim clinic in the morning and then after that, I've made it very clear that we have to go and buy a tree.   I'm looking forward to spending the afternoon blasting Christmas tunes and decorating the tree.   If you follow me on Instagram, I'm sure you'll see pics of it.  Speaking of pics and Instagram, I'm going to leave you with a few of my faves from Paris.
Lights in the Jardin du Tuileries

More Lights at Place Vendome

Lights, once again, on the Champs Elysee

Musee D'Orsay.  What an amazing building

Sunset

That famous tower.
Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

What do you think?  Did you have a favourite pic?  My faves are the first one and the last one.

Are you usually happy to be home after a vacation?






Thursday, December 6, 2012

Playlist Thursday-Going Retro: High School Jams

I am all over this Playlist Thursday theme like white on rice.  This week's theme is High School Jams.   We have to pick songs we listened to in High School.  Yeah I know this one is totally going to date me but whatever.  I'm owning it.  My High School years were some of the best years of my life and music played a HUGE part in those years.  The rules are a little different for this week so here we go:  "Old" would still be an old song that was at least 5 years old when you were in school.  "Current" would be whatever your favourite song was on the radio at that time and "one to consider" is once again, your choice, but it should be one that you enjoyed in high school.  Because there is so much music that I love from that time period, I'm going to throw in a few honorable mentions as well.

So let's get this Retro Dance Party started!

Something Old

Artist:  The Specials
Title: Concrete Jungle

Notable:  This song always got the crowd up and dancing at the underage dances & clubs I used to frequent.  I fondly remember jumping around and "skanking" to this song. 
Quotable: "I can't dress just the way I want, I'm being chased by the national front"


Something New

Artist:  U2
Title: Where the Streets Have No Name

Notable: This was the follow up album to 1984's The Unforgettable Fire and it totally blew my socks off.  I think that the Unforgettable Fire & the Joshua Tree are right up there as two of my favourite U2 albums.  And even 25 years later, this is still an amazing song to run to.
Quotable: "I want to feel sunlight on my face, I see the dust cloud disappear without a trace"

Something to Consider

Artist:  The Cure
Title: Close to Me

Notable:  I was totally into these guys in high school.  They were one of many UK bands that I loved.  Just weird enough to be considered slightly outside the mainstream.  This album was one of my all time faves during high school.  I don't think this left my yellow Sony walkman for months!
Quotable: "I never thought this day would end. I never thought tonight could ever be this close to me"

Honorable Mention #1

Artist: Big Country
Title: Where the Rose Is Sown

Notable:  These guys had a MASSIVE hit with In A Big Country so that was the song that initially turned me on to them.  This is from their second album that was less of a commercial success in North America.  Who knows why, it's just as good as the first.  I absolutely love this song.  The beat, the guitar, the lyrics, all of it. They had such a unique sound.
Quotable: "Sons of men who stand like Gods, we give life to feed the cause and run to ground our heathen foe, our name will never die this time will be forever"

Honorable Mention #2

Artist: The Violent Femmes
Title: Add it Up

Notable:  Yet another song that would create a frenzy of sweaty bodies on the dance floor.  My friends and I knew the words to this song off by heart (swearing and all) and we'd sing it at the top of our lungs while jumping around on the dance floor. 
Quotable: "Day after day, I will walk, and I will play, But the day, after today I will stop, and I will start".

Honorable Mention #3

Artist:Kate Bush
Title: Cloudbusting

Notable:  I absolutely loved this song, especially the video.  It always tugged at my heart strings.   There is something so hopeful yet so sad about it.  And it stars Canadian actor Donald Sutherland as her dad.  Gotta love the addition of a little Canadiana. 
Quotable: "You're like my yo-yo that glowed in the dark.  What made it special, made it dangerous,
So I bury it And forget. "



What were your favourite High School Jams?  

Did I take you a trip down 80's memory lane? 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Ah Oui, Paris

It's the end of day four Paris and I finally made it out for a run yesterday.  Our original plan was to go on Sunday morning but a couple of drinks at the hotel bar turned into several when we met a lovely couple from Birmingham, England on Saturday evening. That meant we didn't get to bed until quite late, which meant that we slept in so late we would have missed our free breakfast had we gone for a run.  With the cost of food here, the last thing you want to miss is a free meal!  So we skipped out on a run in favour of walking around the entire south end of the city.  We found the Louvre, the Musee D'Orsay and we made our way over to the Eiffel Tower.  We didn't actually GO in to any of these places.  It was far too nice out and to be honest, the line ups were way too long.  We spent the day trying to get our bearings.  I can tell you one thing, this city is incredibly confusing.  Being from Toronto where the city is designed on a grid, it's easy to find your way around.  Here, there are roundabouts, streets that criss cross, and everything seems to run on the diagonal.  We looked like two old fogeys consulting our tiny little tourist map every half hour.
Our run helped me get a slightly better idea as to where everything is in relation to our hotel.  It wasn't the best run- going out for a run in Paris rush hour is NOT recommended.  Lots of people, traffic and nut bars on scooters.  I think I will try to hit the pavement again tomorrow but first thing in the morning.  The sun doesn't come up until just after 8:00 am since they aren't on daylight savings time here so it will be a run in the dark.  Hopefully I can convince G to come with me.  As much as I love this city during the day, it makes me feel a bit uneasy at night.  I'm not really sure why but it does.  I'm on my own this evening so I grabbed some healthy eats from a nearby take out place and I've hunkered down in the room with my feet up so this is where I plan on staying.
I spent the afternoon shopping in somewhat impractical boots so now my feet are aching.  Didn't help that I spent almost 45 minutes trying to find the gym that is supposed to be "right around the corner" from the hotel.  Ugh!  I desperately need to get my sweat on.  3 days of eating heavier than normal food and drinking a LOT of wine has left me feeling a wee bit sluggish.  I know I said I'd cut myself some slack but I can only take so much before I start feeling like crap.  I think I've hit that point.
Tomorrow I'm going to see if I can find the pool that is supposed to be close to the hotel.  If I am lucky enough to find that then a swim will be in the cards.  After that, I'll probably venture out a little farther from the hotel.   Perhaps I'll even head down to the river and over in to the Left Bank for some more shopping adventures.
In the meantime, I'll leave you with a few images from the trip so far.  If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen these along with many others.  If not then ENJOY!
Add caption


Friday, November 30, 2012

Love Those Fancy Pants! Women's Salomon EXO IV 3/4 Tights - Review

I am lucky enough to be a team member of a fantastic Canadian store called Running Free.  When I became a member they only had one location in Markham but they have now expanded all over the GTA.  They have stores in Orangeville, Newmarket, Milton, Ajax & Barrie.  If you're an athlete and you live in Southern Ontario, then I highly recommend a trip to one of their stores.  It's like a giant candy store.  One of the many perks of being on this team is that once and a while I get to test out new gear.   Most of the time you get something through the team lottery system (sometimes you don't get anything).  The lottery items are provided by our team sponsors which include, GU, CW-X, Salmon and Mizuno to name a few.  Not too shabby! If you accumulate enough points to get to the "Pro" level you get to actually pick what you'd like test out.  Since I raced my face off last year (14 races between March and November!) and actually did fairly well in the races I entered, I managed to gather enough points to get me to the Pro level. 

I’m a sucker for all things compression, especially now that I’m getting older and I’m finding that my recovery needs a bit of outside help.  I remember when Salomon brought these 3/4 tights out.  I thought they looked so cool.  I really wanted a pair but never managed to justify the hefty price tag ($149.99).  I was finally due for some new running bottoms and got the opportunity to choose the item I wanted to review so naturally, I chose these tights.

I had to wriggle into the small but it didn’t feel like other compression gear I had worn before.  I didn’t feel like a sausage!  You know when you squeeze yourself into some compression gear and it is so tight that it gives you lumps in odd places?  This didn’t happen with these at all.  I actually wondered if I was in the correct size.  I re-measured my thighs to be sure and according to their sizing chart, I was.  Sizing is of the utmost importance with any compression garment.  If you’re in between sizes then size down.

The first thing I noticed about these tights was the built in underwear.   I wasn’t sure I was going to like them but I have to say after numerous long runs in them, I’ve only had a chafing issue once (a combination of no body glide and being slightly overdressed).  They actually stay put and they are quite comfortable.  Kudos to Salmon for that nice little detail.

The waistband is a bit higher than normal tights on me but given it’s structure, I don’t actually notice it.  It’s constructed of a lightweight mesh type fabric with a drawstring.  The band is actually fairly wider than normal tights as well and I think that’s why it feels so comfortable.  Another nice touch.  The other thing I quite liked was the length and the fact that the tights stayed put on my calves.  I have several pairs of 3/4 tights and the majority of them ride up my calves.  These didn’t budge.
The compression factor itself is subtle.  The tights are incredibly comfortable, supportive and light weight.  The tights are made with Salomon’s Smart Skin EXO fit technology.   Their Smart Skin technology claims to “apply the right technical material in the right zone for optimum performance” and the EXO Sensifit claims to allow for “better alignment of your body to run easier uphill, downhill and on uneven trails”.  As with most compression gear, it also claims to help you run longer by reducing cramping and muscle soreness and of course it is supposed to help you recover better but improving recovery time.   I can’t dispute any of these points.  I’ve worn these tights on many long runs, some hilly and some flat and my legs have always felt good even towards the end.  I’ve also used them for recovery after long tempo runs and I found they worked just as well if not better than my Zoot 3/4 compression tights.  They are definitely more comfortable.  It doesn’t hurt that they look way cooler too.

One last detail I noticed was the quality of workmanship on these tights.  They are very well constructed.  The seams are flat-locked and strong.  I have looked at other Salomon gear and I’d say the same thing about all the other pieces I’ve looked at.  Definitely a very well made brand.
Now that the cooler weather is here, these have become regulars in my workout wear rotation.  So much so that I may actually buy a second pair.  I know Salomon makes these in a full length tight as well so I’m going to be on the lookout for those this winter as well as some other Salmon gear.
If you’re in the market for a new pair of 3/4 tights, I’d highly recommend giving these a go.  They’re definitely worth it.

Have you tried Salomon products before?  Did you like them?  This was my first experience with them and I'll definitely buy more.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Playlist Thursday - Zoning Out

Once again, it's Playlist Thursday!  What do you think of the new logo?  The ever generous Pavement Runner designed a whole bunch of logos in different colours so you can pick one to match your blog colours (scroll down to the bottom of the page).  Love it! Don't forget to check out the catalog page for all the other Playlists as well!

This weeks theme was a suggestion from Anna at withanna.wordpress.com.  Apparently she is in the middle of studying for mid-terms (those were the days!) and needed some songs to zone out to. 

For those of you stopping by for the first time, here are "the rules" of Playlist Thursday.

Something Old: Songs that are at least 5 years old. (I know that isn’t too long to be considered old, but music turnover happens quickly.)
Something Current: Songs that have been released within the past year.
Something to Consider:  This is the wild card category. Feel free to list any song: old, current,guilty pleasure, whatever floats yer boat.

Something Old

Artist:  Chris Isaak
Title: Walk Slow
Notable: I love this song.  In fact, I love Chris Isaak.  All his music makes me zone out, in a good way. 
Quotable: "And there's so many many things I wanna tell you. So many many things I didn't say"


Something New

Artist: Atlas Genius
Title: Trojans
Notable:  I featured these guys on last weeks Playlist Thursday and I'm bringing them back again.  They released an EP this year that I absolutely love.  This was the first song off of it.  I can't wait for a full length album. 
Quotable: "Change the locks, change the scene, change it all but can't change what we've been." 


Change the locks, change the scene Change it all but can't change what we've been

Read more: TROJANS - ATLAS GENIUS LYRICS
Change the locks, change the scene Change it all but can't change what we've been

Read more: TROJANS - ATLAS GENIUS LYRICS
Something to Consider

Artist: Keane
Title: Spiralling
Notable: From the band that brought you Somewhere Only We Know, another great song to zone out to.  I really like the poppy beat, it's catchy and makes for some good background noise.
Quotable: "I'm waiting for my moment to come, I'm waiting for the movie to begin, I'm waiting for a revelation, I'm waiting for someone to count me in"

Have you got any favourite zone out songs you'd like to share?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

'Tis The Season

I know I've been absent from cyberspace for the last week.  Nothing is wrong, I've just really been enjoying my "down" time.  Although looking at my training from last week, I'd say it was anything but an "easy week".  I did some form of physical activity every day for 9 days in a row.  Granted most of it was swimming but still.  9 days!  And I wonder why I'm lying on the couch feeling like a sack of hammers right now.  Uh right, 'cause I'm not 20 years old anymore.  Oh and I had a late night of overindulging on Saturday.  'Tis the season.

Speaking of which, I just noticed how the season of overindulgence seems tie in directly with my off season.  Funny how that works.  I usually keep my eating pretty clean but this time of the year I cut myself some slack.  I truly love the holidays and everything that comes with it, including the huge basket of homemade cookies from our neighbour.  From my mother in laws Christmas brunch, to my family's turkey dinner and our new Boxing Day tradition of having both of our families over to our place for dinner, I love it all.  It's two jam packed days of busy-ness but I wouldn't trade it for anything.  It's also usually a crazy time of year for me at work but with some Christmas tunes playing and some peppermint hot chocolate, I can usually make it through the insanity relatively intact.  By the time New Years actually rolls around, I've already wiped my slate clean and started again. 

But before I jump into the holiday insanity, I am going on a little jaunt to Paris.  NYC and Paris all in the span of less than 4 weeks.  I feel like such a glamorous jet setter.  Ha.  If only.  G is going to Paris for work so my wonderful boss told me I had to go with him.  Seriously.  She even texted me that night to tell me I absolutely had to go.  Ok.  You don't need to tell me twice.  We're heading out on Friday night and landing on Saturday morning which means we'll have all day Saturday, Sunday and probably a bit of Monday to hang out together and explore.  I then have 3 days on my own to explore the City of Lights (good thing I bought a guidebook) and then G and I will have Friday and Saturday to hang out again.  I guarantee that at least one of my 3 solo days will be spent in a museum.  And I definitely guarantee that I will go for several runs while I'm there.  And am 150% sure that I'll be Instagramming pretty much everything I see.  Ok, maybe not everything.   Find me on IG here and come along for the ride.

Speaking of Instagram, the lovely Kate over at Run with Kate has teamed up with several of her favourite twitter friends and bloggers to create a December challenge.  I love these sort of challenges but I never seem to be able to be able to make it to the end.  I'm going to try my darndest to make it to the end of this one.  This one is called Holiday a Day.  Here's how it works;  take a photo each day in December that fits the day's theme.  Tag it with #holidayaday and the theme (e.g #drink or #santa etc) and you're in.  Let the snapping and tagging begin! 

In the meantime, I need to start packing!

Do you have any holiday traditions that you love? 

Ohhh la la, I cannot wait.








Thursday, November 22, 2012

Playlist Thursday - A Whole Lotta Thanks


Finally!  I'm back on the Playlist Thursday bandwagon.  I've been M.I.A for the last couple of weeks and it looks like I missed out on some good ones.  It's US Thanksgiving today so today's Playlist Thursday theme is, appropriately,  "Songs that remind you to be thankful."

Check out Pavement Runners  catalog page to see what songs his other readers have put on their playlists.

Something Old


Artist:U2
Title:  Beautiful Day
Notable:  Every single time I hear this song, I smile.  I associate it with two big events in my life;  my wedding day (it was our "entrance song") and my first Ironman.  I will always remember standing on the beach at Mirror Lake, trying to calm the butterflies in my stomach while I was waiting for the race to start.  They played this song just before the countdown and it made me cry.  I remember standing there thinking about just how grateful I was to have made it to the start line.  Every time I hear this song, it's a little reminder to me to take the time to be thankful.
Quotable: "It's a beautiful day, don't let it get away"

Something New

Artist:Atlas Genius
Title:Symptoms
Notable:  There is something about the arrangement of the music and the harmonies in this song that just makes me happy.  When I'm happy, I'm always thankful. 
Quotable: "So, sweet little lover won’t you let me know? Like a circle round and round we go."

Something to Consider

Artist: Dido
Title: Thank You
Notable: This song needs no explanation, the title says it all.  It was the song that my hubby and I had our last dance to on our wedding day.  It always reminds me of just how much I have to be thankful for.
Quotable: "Ohh, just to be with you is having the best day of my life."

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!

What are you thankful for?