Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Should the Show Really Go On?

That is the question I am struggling with and it seems that I am not the only one. 

I'm referring of course to the NYC Marathon that I'm supposed to run this Sunday.  I have been glued to twitter and various news sites as well as the official ING New York Marathon site and the NYRR site, looking for some kind of answer as to exactly what is going on.  It's still a little unclear although the latest reports suggest that it will go ahead as scheduled. What is clear is the fact that many folks are struggling with the whole idea of hosting such a huge event mere days after the biggest natural disaster they've seen in a long time. 

The selfish part of me hopes that the show does go on.  I've paid all sorts of money to be there and I've booked the time off.  If I cancel things now, there is a good chance I will lose pretty much everything I've laid out dollar wise.  I will lose my $357 entry fee but I am guaranteed a spot in next years race.  I will then have to pay another entry fee.  I realize that is a small price to pay compared to all the folks affected by Sandy but it is something to consider.   I am not the only one in this boat.  There are an estimated 20,000 runners that come from out of town or overseas.

On the flip side, it seems so trivial to hold an event like this when there are thousands of people that need help.  They need basic things like food and shelter.  The marathon will take away the ability to provide those resources.  It will close roads and prohibit people from perhaps getting more food and water.  Or even getting to a place that actually has power.  How is that fair to the residents of New York and surrounding areas?  It's not.  Relief efforts should be focused on getting the city back up and running and helping the locals get back on their feet.  

All that being said, I am still going to make my way to the Big Apple in case the show does go on.  If it doesn't, well then it doesn't.  There is always next year.  Either way I will be in New York on Sunday.  If the race happens, I'll pin on bib number 13117 and be ready to face the day, whatever it may bring.  If I'm not running, I will do my best to spend my tourist dollars and give what I can back to into the economy. 

What are your thoughts on this situation?

Would you cancel or would you go?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Start Spreading the News...

I'm leaving on Friday!!  Ahhhhhhhhh!

Oh how my tune has changed from last week's post.  I think I have Frank Sinatra to thank for that.   The day after I wrote that post, I was heading out to meet my run group and New York, New York came on my iTunes playlist.  I couldn't help but smile.  I think at that point the full realization of where I was going and what I was going to do, hit me.   I've never been to New York and I've never participated in a race this big. 

So yes, the excitement has finally kicked in.  I was dancing around the kitchen singing "If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere....."  G turned to me and said "So you're not really excited, right?"  Ah touche my love, touche.

I think excited is an understatement.

This time next week, I will be just over an hour and 30 minutes into my journey.  So I should be somewhere around 18 km depending on how I'm feeling.   I went out for a 16km run yesterday and my legs didn't feel great.  I'm not surprised given I had a massage on Wednesday and then did a kick heavy swim on Friday.  But, I've still got a week of recovery left.  The positive thing was that my achilles didn't bother me at all.  I could feel it getting a bit tight towards the end but I stopped to stretch and that seemed to help. I've got one more session on Thursday with my PT.  I've been given all sorts of exercises to do.  Once the race is over we're going to get down to business to fix the underlying issues on my left side.  I don't have much mobility in my left ankle and I'm not engaging some of my calf muscles so there is some compensation happening in my other muscles.  This is the first time in 14 years that I've had any sort of calf / achilles issues and I am I chalking it up to the Newtons and the fact that I did pretty much no calf work at all this year.  Not a good combo.  

So while I'm excited about the marathon, I am also excited to stop, give my body a break and take the time to work on making it stronger so I can get through next year injury free.

In the meantime, I'm going to focus on the task at hand: getting through another 26.2 miles upright and smiling.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Playlist Thursday: Creep Me Out!

Here we go again with Playlist Thursday!  I emailed Brian a few weeks ago to suggest this one.  I don't know about you but I love Halloween so I thought it would be fun to have a Halloween themed playlist to put everyone in the mood.  It could be that you think the song is creepy or haunting.  Or maybe the singer is creepy looking.  Or maybe there's a video that freaks you out, whatever the case may be, the creepier the better!

For those of you that are reading for the first time, there are a few "rules" for Playlist Thursday. 

Playlist Thursday "Rules":

Something Old:  Songs that are at least 5 years old.  
Something Current:  Songs that have been released in the past year.
Something to Consider:  This is the wild card category.  Any song goes:  old, current, guilty pleasure, whatever floats yer boat.

Make sure you check out Brian's blog for some more musical inspiration!

Something Old 

Artist: Siouxie and the Banshees
Title: Spellbound
Notable:  30 years later I still love this song.  This was the stuff I loved as a teenager.  I remember actually dressing up as Siouxie for Halloween one year so they were a no brainer to put on this playlist.
Quotable: "You hear laughter cracking through the walls, it sends you spinning, you have no choice"

Something New

Artist: Marilyn Manson
Title: The Beautiful People
Notable: No Halloween playlist would be complete without the modern day King of Creepy.  So this particular song isn't new, but Marilyn Manson actually has a new album out so while I'm not necessarily featuring a new song of his I'm at least acknowledging the fact that he has something current out.  I've listened to most of it and it's creepy (no surprise there!) but I didn't find anything on it that I really liked either.  I really liked this song when it came out and it did live on my playlist at one point in time.  
Quotable: "The worms will live in every host, it's hard to pick which one they eat most"

Something to Consider

Artist:Roisin Murphy
Title:Ramalama (Bang Bang)
Notable: Her voice is haunting and the lyrics are kinda creepy so it totally made the list.  And, Wade Robson choreographed an amazing dance routine to it on So You Think You Can Dance that featured dancing zombies.  How much more creepy can you get?  The video I chose is actually of that performance.
Quotable: "Unzip my body, take my heart out, cause I need to give a beat to this tune"

Honorable Mention

Artist: Ministry
Title: Everyday is Halloween
Notable:  You can't have a Halloween playlist without this song.  Period.  This was the Goth anthem of the 80's.
Quotable: "Well I live with snakes and lizards and other things that go bump in the night.."

Are you creeped out yet?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's not a Race, It's a Journey...

This post started off as a somewhat whiny post about how I feel like a sack of hammers, I'm super stressed out and that I don't feel like running another 26.2 miles in a couple of weeks, blah blah blah.  And then I came home to this, my excitement returned and I changed my tune.

The photograph of all those people brought back fond memories of my last Boston experience.  Given that NYC is double the size, I can only imagine what the crowds will be like.  I'm sure the energy will be palpable.  I hope so because I think I'm going to need all the help I can get to make it through 26.2 miles.

I'm not going to lie though, I am tired.  And I am kind of (only kind of, not completely!!) dreading the fact that I'm going to be running marathon number 2 this year.  I don't know if I feel mentally ready to tackle another one.  That is what's been running through my head this past week.  As of this very minute, I can honestly say that I really don't feel like running another one.  I really don't.  I feel mentally spent.  That could be a combination of the fact that I've been super stressed at work and that fact that normally my fall A race happens sometime in mid-October.  After mid-October, I can usually check out in terms of my mental focus.  Not this year.  Nope.  I decided that doing NYC in November would be fun and a great opportunity.  I mean when would I get the chance for another guaranteed entry?  Probably never again since they lowered the qualifying standards for my AG this year to a blazing 1:30:00 or faster.   Insanity.  So I jumped at the chance and figured I could handle two marathons in one year. 

Ok so maybe this post is still a bit whiny.   Ah well.  Guess I need to get it off my chest.  Call it online processing.  Heh.

I think that two marathons in one year is too much for this bod.  I'm feeling a little beat up.  My achilles isn't 100%.  I managed to tweak it on a long run a few weeks ago when I ducked into the bushes for a pee break.  Who hurts their achilles going to the bathroom???  Apparently I do.  Maybe I'm worrying too much.  I had physio yesterday and she said my mobility is a lot better.  It feels a lot better too.  I'll see her a couple more times before I go and I've got a massage scheduled tonight so maybe I'll feel better about everything after a little TLC and a good nights sleep.  

Those nagging little "performance oriented" thoughts have started creeping in though and I need to shut them off.  I had to give a finishing time estimate way back when and I had said 3:30.  The competitor in me feels compelled to try and make that time.  But really what does it matter?  I have to keep reminding myself that I decided to do this race for the experience of it.   It's all about the journey.  That's what I'm going for.  No pressure.  I'm going to take a 26.2 mile tour of all five Boroughs with 45,000 other people.  Yeah, that's it.  That's the key.  To quote one of my favourite Rush songs (Out of the Cradle) "It's not a race, it's a journey".  

I think that's going to be my new mantra for the next 12 days. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ode to the Great Orange Gourd, Part Four: Pumpkin Spice Protein Smoothie

I don't know about you but I love me a good smoothie.  I'm actually kind of addicted to them.  I have one pretty much every day, post workout.  Sometimes I have them in place of a meal if I'm pressed for time but most of the time they end up being a snack.  I've made them with everything from bananas and strawberries, to avocados, spinach & cocoa powder (don't knock it till you try it!).   In fact, I usually use my smoothies as a way to get some extra veggies in.  Pretty much every smoothie I make has a large handful of spinach in it, or if I happen to have it, some Greens Plus.  I like using spinach because it blends well.  I've tried using kale with no success.  I don't like my smoothies to be chunky.  They're smoothies, not chunkies.

Given my obsession with pumpkin it was only natural that I decided to make a smoothie with it.  I've been doing a variation of this recipe for the last couple of years.  The addition of the espresso powder was inspired by Stuft Mama's pumpkin mocha smoothie.  I gotta say, it rounds out the flavour nicely!

Pumpkin Protein Smoothie

1/4 cup of 1% cottage cheese OR if you want to keep it dairy free, use 1/4 cup of silken tofu
1/3 cup of pumpkin puree
1 large handful of baby spinach
1 tbsp of raw cocoa powder
1/4 tsp of espresso powder
1/4 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 scoop of vanilla protein powder (I use Dymatize ISO 100)
1 cup of vanilla almond milk

Put all the items in a blender pitcher with a bit of ice.  Blend up and enjoy!

Next Monday I'll be wrapping up my ode to the glorious orange gourd!  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Playlist Thursday: Speed Demon!

It's another edition of Playlist Thursday gang!  I can't believe how quickly this week has gone by.  I love it!  This weeks theme was suggested by Melissa at Live Love and Run and I gotta say, I LIKE IT.  Why?  Because I like to go fast.  It's no secret to those that know me that I have a need for speed. Any music that aids in getting that speed is always welcome so I can't wait to see what's on everyone's list this week.  My list is nothing if not eclectic.  I'm so pumped about this theme I even put in a couple of honorable mentions. 

For those of you that are reading for the first time, there are a few "rules" for Playlist Thursday. 

Playlist Thursday "Rules":

Something Old:  Songs that are at least 5 years old.  
Something Current:  Songs that have been released in the past year.
Something to Consider:  This is the wild card category.  Any song goes:  old, current, guilty pleasure, whatever floats yer boat.

Make sure you check out Brian's blog for some more musical inspiration!

Something Old 

Artist: Elvis Costello
Title: Pump it Up
Notable: The song title says it all.  It's a great finishing kick song. 
Quotable: "She said that's that, I don't wanna chitter-chat, turn it down a little bit or turn it down flat"


Artist: Mumford and Sons
Title: Babel
Notable:  I bought their new album shortly after it came out and this is the opening track. It almost makes me want to leap vs run.   For some reason I picture myself running along a rocky coastline listening to this song, ha ha. 
Quotable: "Cause I'll know my weakness, know my voice and I'll believe in grace and choice
and I know perhaps my heart is fast but I’ll be borne without a mask."

Something To Consider

Artist: U2
Title:Two Hearts Beat as One
Notable: This was the song that introduced me to U2.  I couldn't get enough of it and it's still one of my favourites to this day.  
Quotable: "They beat on black, beat on white, Beat on everything don't get it right beat on you, beat on me, beat on love.."

Honorable Mentions

Artist: Iron Maiden
Title:  Run to the Hills
Notable:  I'm not much of a metal head but there are some songs that I can really get into.  This is one of them.   Great song to do hill repeats to as well, ha ha.
Quotable: "White man came across the sea, he brought us pain and misery he killed our tribes, he killed our creed, he took our game for his own need."

Artist: Soundgarden
Title:  Rusty Cage
Notable:  I absolutely loved these guys back in the day and I'm so pumped that they have a new album coming out next month.  I think Chris Cornell has one of the best voices in rock and roll.  Yet another song with a strong driving beat.
Quotable: "White man came across the sea, he brought us pain and misery he killed our tribes, he killed our creed, he took our game for his own need."

What do you think?  Do these songs make you want to pick it up?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Running Start: Scotiabank Toronto Half Marathon Race Report

Sunday marked my last long run before The NYC Marathon.  I was scheduled to do 35km.  I was also supposed to run the Scotiabank Half so the plan was to run to the start and then do a 3km cool down after the race.  I ended up running with a friend of a friend who happens to live in my neighbourhood and who is also doing NYC.  Lucky for me she also decided that running to the start line would be the best way to get her mileage in.  We met up at 6:45 am in the pouring rain at Parklawn and Lakeshore and made our way east along the Lakeshore.  We ran at a very comfortable pace (5:30's or so) and my legs felt great.  They should have as I hardly ran at all this week.  I've been re-habbing my achilles and I've had both my treatments on days where I run with my group.  My Tuesday treatment left my achilles and calf quite sore.  She had tried like crazy to release my rather stiff ankle to no avail.  I think it finally released on my run because all it did was crack.  I had to stop at 6.5km in because it was affecting my gait.  And it was so loud it was grossing me out.  My Thursday treatment was acupuncture and my calf was so tender by the end of the day I figured there was no point in running.  I'd just rest and hopefully be good to go come Sunday. I felt better on Friday and thought I'd run when I got home but after the day I had, a glass of wine was what happened instead of a run.  Oh well.
I also spent over 5 hours on my feet on the Saturday wandering around the Annual Fall Bike Sale.  I had vowed not to be there for more than 2 hours but G was hell bent on buying a new mountain bike.  So 5.5 hours later, I walked out with a whole new cycling wardrobe and G with a new bike.  Smiles all around.

The run to the start was a lot of fun despite the rain.  Jackie had me in stitches the entire time.  It was really nice to have the company.   We made it to the Eaton's Centre and ducked inside to use the washrooms.  Unfortunately a large number of racers also thought that would be a good idea so we went to the other end of the Eaton's Centre only to be greeted by a similar line up.  Hmm.  It was almost 8:00 am and the race started at 8:30.  I knew that getting into our starting corral was going to be a pain in the ass so we opted to duck out and try our luck at the Tim Horton's around the corner.  Ran in there and conveniently their washrooms were Out of Service.  Uh-huh.  More like they just didn't want a bunch of runners messing it up.  Luckily for me Jackie knew her way around Ryerson so we ran over there hoping that the doors were unlocked.  They were.  Jackpot!!  We had our own clean bathroom with toilet paper!  Oh the joy!

I had called G when we were in the Eaton's Centre and as I had predicted he was not anywhere near us yet.  As we were finishing up at Ryerson he called me.  He wasn't too far from us but I didn't want to risk waiting for him.  It was 8:10 and we still had to run over to Dundas and University so I told him not to worry and that I'd look for him at the start if I could.  We made our way over to the start line and it was complete chaos.  The way they have the corrals set up is awful.  I understand why they do it the way they do but it really causes a lot of unnecessary stress.  There was ONE entrance into the red corral and there isn't really any other way to get to the corrals other than along the next to non existent sidewalk.  I was climbing over planters and jumping into the crowd of runners.  I finally found the entrance to the red corral.  Thank goodness they actually had people screening the runners for the correct bib or else I imagine I would have missed the start.  I wedged my way in and pushed through the crowds towards the front.  I still had my hideous jacket on because I was unable to meet up with G due to him being held up in traffic (no comment).  At that point I don't think it mattered.  I was totally soaked.  I took it off, hung it up on the fence and went back into the crowd.  The body heat of the crowd kept me warm.  In fact I thought I might actually be a bit overdressed as I could feel sweat dripping down my chest.   Nothing I could do about it then as I didn't feel like tossing my nice New Balance shirt.  This is where seeing G would have been handy.  But I digress.

The rain had stopped when we were making our way over to the start line so I hoped that was going to be the last of it.  I didn't even want to see what my feet looked like at that point, never mind adding another 21.1km to it.  As I stood there with thousands of other runners, it started misting.  Ugh.  Then the 1:30 pace bunny made his way into the crowd and stood right in front of me.  Uh-oh.  Sure enough, I started to get crowded by the folks that wanted to run that pace.  I knew that was going to be too fast for me so I tried to get out of the way a bit.  Not an easy feat when everyone is jammed in like sardines.   The announcements started, they played the anthem and the countdown began.

And then we were off!

Of course I started running far too quickly because my legs felt great.  I was nice and warmed up from my 11.66km run to the start.  To say I got a little carried away by the crowds was an understatement.  At about 3km I finally told myself to "chill the eff out".  I didn't have much of a choice because we were going uptown at this point.  The route for this years race was re-jigged in an effort to make it more spectator friendly and give runners a better feel for the city.  In that regards I think it was quite successful.   I enjoyed running through "The Village" and along Bloor Street, through Yorkville.  Crowd support was a bit sporadic but the weather wasn't great so I wasn't too surprised.  (it had started raining again shortly after the race started).  If the weather cooperates next year, I suspect that the route through The Village will get a lot more entertaining.   We motored along Bloor and then made our way down St. George through the U of T area which is quite nice.  We then hit College which was just plain weird to run on.  I was trying to avoid the streetcar tracks and all the bumps in the road.  It's not the nicest road to run on.   We were at about 5km in when I thought "I don't want to do this".  I was tired, it was raining and my achilles was just starting to ache.  I already had almost 17km in my legs at that point.  I wasn't sure I could face another 16.   But I'm not a quitter so I decided I needed to focus on something else.  I had to banish those negative thoughts.  I started checking out the people around me.  I noticed a guy in front of me wearing a t-shirt that said "I am Chuck Norris" and from the back I would have agreed.  I stuck behind him for a while.  We turned on to Bathurst and I happened to look over and see G standing there.  I smiled and waved and he blew me a kiss.  I caught it and blew one back.  I know, get the barf bucket.  I was bummed that I didn't get to see him at the start and he knew that.  That little gesture lifted me up and I ended up catching Chuck Norris.  I gotta say, this guy could have been his younger twin.  It was uncanny.

We were coming towards Lakeshore and Bathurst and I knew that my run group was manning one of the water stations down there.  Sure enough as I came barreling down road I could see them.  I saw them all before they saw me.  I started cheering and grabbed a cup of Gatorade from Steve and they all started cheering and yelling.  That totally buoyed me along.   By this point the pain in my achilles was a constant dull ache.  I hoped that that would be the worst of it.  I tried not to think about it.

We headed west along Lakeshore and I was bracing myself for the wind.  It's usually pretty brutal along there but it surprisingly wasn't too bad.  There were a few windy patches so I just made sure I slowed down and drafted where I could.  I chugged along Lakeshore at a decent pace.  My legs were starting to feel a bit rough.  I knew the 10km mark wasn't too far off.  Sure enough I crossed it a few minutes later in 44:15.  Not too shabby.  We were heading towards my favourite part of the race.  We usually head west along Lakeshore to the turnaround at Windermere which is always jam packed.  This year they changed it and had the turnaround just past Parkside.  The change and the unpleasant weather didn't deter the spectators.  They were out in full force.  I knew my friends Kiki and Bob were going to be around here somewhere so I kept my eyes peeled for them.  Sure enough I saw them a few minutes later right at the turn around point.  I saw them before they saw me.  There was lots of cheering and I even busted out the Rock On Fingers.  Luckily Bob snapped a pic as I made what seemed like a 180 degree turn.  Apparently a few people wiped out here.  Not cool.
Some people take their racing far too seriously.
 I was actually feeling pretty good through here.  That changed about 1km later.  My achilles really started to hurt.  I tried to ignore it but it got so bad at points that it affected my gait.  I decided it was time to distract myself again so I started watching the oncoming crowd of runners to see if I could spot some familiar faces.  I had hoped to see fellow running blogger Krysten before the race to wish her luck (she was running her first marathon!) but that didn't happen so I kept scanning the crowd for her.  I also tried desperately to spot my friend Kirsten and my RMT David who were both racing.  I suspected that David was probably not far behind me as he was aiming for a sub 1:40.  I was also supposed to find him at the start but that didn't happen either.  The constant stream of people was actually quite hypnotic.  I know I slowed down for a while.  In fact, I got so distracted that I actually missed taking my gel by almost 5 minutes.  And I wondered why I was hurting so much.  Well other than the fact that I had about 27km on my legs at that point.
The next few kms were really tough.  I remember looking up at one point and seeing the 16km mark and thinking ok, just 25 more minutes.  That's it.  Just hang on for 25 more minutes.   At 18km I really started to hurt.  My quads had started to cramp slightly.  I was coming up on a woman in a Longboat Runners singlet.  As I got closer I realized it was the same woman I caught and passed at 20km of the Oakville Half.  Crazy.  I got up behind her as we ran up the Spadina off ramp.  My legs did not want to work.  She started to pull away from me on the downhill.  I caught her again on the flat and we were running almost side by side.  We ran along to Bay Street and as I came under the bridge towards Front Street, she started to pull away.  I was running for all I was worth.  I hurt so much.  I glanced at my watch.  I had hoped to beat my time from last year.  It was going to be close.  I pushed hard towards Nathan Phillips Square.  I actually managed to catch a woman as we passed Queen Street.  I was meters away.  My entire body hurt and my lungs felt like they were going to burst.  I heard the announcer call my name as I came down the finishing chute.  I glanced at my watch:  1:34:15.  I had beaten last years time by just over 30 seconds.   With an 11+ km warm up and an injured achilles,  I'll take it. 

I was sore for two days post race.  Today is actually the first day where I'm not going down the stairs sideways.  My achilles was very sore on Sunday and for some of Monday.  I had some work done on it yesterday and now it feels a lot better.  It's still fairly tight but I'm stretching it every day and doing my prescribed calf raises.  I don't suspect it will be fully healed when I do NYC but at least I know that once I'm done, that's it for my season.  It's time to put the feet up and rest.  Two marathons in one year is too much for this body.

Did you race this past weekend?  If so, what race did you do?

If you did Scotia, what did you think of the new course?  I really liked the changes.  I think it will give out of town runners a good feel for the city.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ode to the Great Orange Gourd, Part Three: Curried Pumpkin Soup

Halloween is coming and that means it's almost Jack-o-Lantern time!  I love carving pumpkins.  It's a messy job but they always look so cool when they're done.  Even better is the fact that you can eat it after.   Not raw, unless of course you're one of those folks that actually likes the taste of raw pumpkin.  If you're lucky enough to have your Jack-o-Lantern intact after Halloween night, you can cut it up and roast it to either make your own pumpkin puree.  Or if the colder temps have you craving something warm, you can use it to make soup.  That was my goal.

I figured I'd have a left over Halloween pumpkin so I thought I'd jump the gun and start experimenting now.  I bought two smaller pie pumpkins and used one to start.  I'm happy to say that my first attempt turned out to be absolutely delicious so the second pumpkin is still sitting on my kitchen counter awaiting it's own delicious fate.

Curried Pumpkin Soup with Coconut Milk

1 medium sized pie pumpkin cut into chunks, skin on.
olive oil
1 tbsp of coconut oil
1/2 medium sized onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, diced
1.5 tsp of curry powder
1/4 tsp of ground ginger
1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon
4 cups of vegetable broth
3/4 - 1 cup of coconut milk

Cut and clean up pumpkin and reserve the seeds.   Cut into chunks and toss with olive oil.  Spread onto a baking sheet skin side down and roast in the oven for 45-55 minutes at 375 degrees.  Let cool and then scrape out cooked pumpkin.

Melt coconut oil in a large stock pot.  Add onions and garlic and sautee until softened. Add spices and coat onion and garlic mixture.   Add roasted pumpkin and mix well. 

Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil.  Turn it down and let simmer until pumpkin has completely softened.  Let cool.

Pour into a blender or use an immersion blender to puree mixture.  Transfer back to pot and warm up over low heat.  Add coconut milk and stir in.  Start with 3/4 of a cup and add more if soup is too thick.  Top with toasted pumpkin seeds or cilantro & enjoy!

Friday, October 12, 2012

The One Where I Run to the Start Line of a Half Marathon

This Sunday marks my last really long run before NYC.  My plan is to do 35km.  It also happens to be the day of one of my favourite local half marathons:  The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon & Half Marathon.  Since I really enjoy this race and wanted to do it, I figured there had to be a way for me to incorporate it into my long run.  Running to the start of a race is nothing new for me.  I did it multiple times last year, although most of the time, it wasn't more than 7 or 8km and I wasn't running to the start of a half marathon so I'm just a little scared.  I thought about splitting the difference and running 7km before and then 7km after but the more I thought about it, the more I figured once I was done the race, I'd just want to go home, have a nap and get ready to go rock my socks off to Rush that night.  I did think about running home but quickly dismissed that idea.  No way I'd be able to face that after racing 21.1km.  So, I figured running to the start would be the best idea.  It will also test my ability to race on tired legs.  I sat down and mapped out a route to the start.  Turns out it's just over 15km from my house.  Hmmmm. 

Don't think I want to run 15+km as a warm up.  Time to re-jig the plan.

I decided to enlist the G-Man.  He'll be up early anyway, so I'll get him to drive me to roughly 11km out.  Once I get to the start, I'll find him, re-fill my fuel belt bottles, hand off my layers and be ready to go.  After I'm done  I can then do a 3km cool down run by heading back out on to the course and cheering on my friends that are also racing.  Win-win situation if you ask me.  Although the last time I decided to do something like this it went horribly wrong.  G has promised that won't happen again but just to be safe, I'm wearing my race belt & number under my jacket.  To be extra safe,  I'm going to wear a running jacket I got from the Chilly Half last year.  It's absolutely hideous so if I have to leave it on the side of the road, it won't break my heart.  This will all depend on the weather of course.  The current forecast for race morning is a 49% chance of rain with a temperature of 15 degrees but because of the gusting winds it will probably feel more like 10 degrees.  Sounds like perfect running weather to me.  Minus the gusting winds of course.

I'm thinking Sunday is probably going to hurt a lot but like I said, it will be a good test to see what I can do on tired legs.  I don't expect to set any PB's either but I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to beat my time from last year.  Not sure how possible that's going to be given my rather ambitious warm up but we'll see.  All I can do is go out and try my best.  I will probably be a bit of a mess by the end of it all but that's ok.  Good thing I have the to option to sit through the concert.  But given that it's my favourite band, I highly doubt that sitting will even be on my radar.   I am definitely going to have to fit a nap in if I want to stay up past 9:00 pm.  What can I say, I know how to live it up.

Anyone else racing this weekend?  

If so what are you racing?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Playlist Thursday: Oh the Angst of it All!

I am going through Playlist Thursday withdrawals!  I missed out on last weeks as I just couldn't get myself together in time.  I wasn't going to miss out on this one, especially given that I can focus on music from my teen years (helloooo 80's!).  This weeks theme is "Teenage Angst" so we get to pick songs that remind us of our teen years.  I don't know about you but I love reliving some of the most awkward (yet fun) years of my life. 

Playlist Thursday "Rules":

Something Old:  Songs that are at least 5 years old.  
Something Current:  Songs that have been released in the past year.
Something to Consider:  This is the wild card category.  Any song goes:  old, current, guilty pleasure, whatever floats yer boat.

Make sure you check out Brian's blog for some more musical inspiration!

Something Old 

Artist: The Grapes of Wrath
Title: Misunderstanding
Notable: This song is tied to so many high school memories.  It reminds me a lot of my first serious boyfriend.  I also had huge crushes on the guys in this band.  Good old Canadian boys from Vancouver too!  
Quotable: "So, you don't want to talk, you want to turn your back, angers just a mask, I'll be there when it cracks."

Something New

Artist: Duran Duran
Title: Planet Earth - Live
Notable: Duran Duran was my absolute favourite band in my early teens and I know they're still going strong (ish) these days.  Much to my surprise they released a live album in June of this year so they get the somewhat liberal nod as being "new".  They were the first band I ever saw live and I had the BIGGEST heart wrenching crush on Nick Rhodes and John Taylor. I was at the concert where they filmed the video for The Reflex.  Yup, me and about 20,000 other screaming girls. 
Quotable: "Look now, look all around, there's no sign of life, voices another sound, can you hear me now?

Something To Consider

Artist:  Midnight Oil
Title: Dreamworld
Notable:  This is one band I really wish I got to see back in the day.  I went to a lot of concerts as a teen but these guys were one band I never managed to catch live.  I was so bummed when they broke up.  These guys are are regulars on pretty much all of my playlists too.
Quotable: "No amount of make believe can help this heart of mine"

  What do you think?  Angst-y enough for you?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Ode to the Great Orange Gourd, Part Two: Pumpkin Cheesecake Pudding

Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canucks!  As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I spent the afternoon at my parent's place for our annual Thanksgiving get together.  I think I may still be in a turkey coma.  As usual, it was very enjoyable.  We even brought back an old holiday tradition:  the garage ping pong tournament!  Well, we used to play in the basement before my parents renovated it and they folded up the table and put it in the garage.  No matter, my dad set it up and I played my nephew (and won twice) and then we played doubles at which I completely sucked.  Far too many rules to remember.  It didn't matter though, we were too busy laughing and launching ping pong balls around the garage.  I winged one off my dad's head and another one landed in my hair.  Ping pong is a contact sport in my family.  Fun times.

The Old Man schooling my nephew.
Today I'm going to share one of my favourite pumpkin snacks with you, inspired by my mother in laws pumpkin cheesecake.  It's a great way to sneak in some extra protein as well.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pudding

1/2 cup of pumpkin puree
2 tbsp of Philadelphia light cream cheese
1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice
1/2 scoop of vanilla protein powder.  I use Dymatize 100 ISO lactose free whey protein.

*substitutions:  you could use unflavoured / unsweetened whey powder and add 1/2 to 1 tsp of pure maple syrup depending on how sweet you want it.

Mix ingredients together with a fork until well blended.   If you like your pudding on the cool side, refrigerate for half an hour.  I prefer it at room temperature so once it's mixed, I dig in.

Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Sunday Ritual: On Hiatus

I can't believe we're halfway through a long weekend!  I had Friday off and spent the day running around.  Saturday was a nice lazy day.   I slept in and finally made out for my run around 9:00 am.  The afternoon was spent shopping and puttering around.  It was the perfect lazy afternoon.  I made a batch of my homemade tomato sauce with ground turkey to go with some spaghetti squash.  Luckily there were leftovers so I've got lunch for Tuesday!

This morning I swam and now I'm lounging on the couch icing my achilles.  Yup, I did something to in on my run yesterday.  It's sore to the touch but I'm not having any issues walking.  It was slightly bothersome while I was swimming but it wasn't painful.  It was just kinda *there*.    I am hoping that it's not anything too serious.  I've got another half marathon coming up next weekend and it's going to be part of my last long run before NYC so I really don't want to miss it.  I may just take the week off running to be safe. 

This afternoon we're headed to my parents place in Guelph for the big family get together so I won't be cooking.  I have a couple of recipes I want to work on and I'm fresh out of turkey burgers so I'll probably spend Monday afternoon cooking.  These next few weekends are going to be very busy so I'm going to have to get my cooking in whenever I can.  Which means The Sunday Ritual will be taking a bit of a hiatus.  I'll bring it back when things calm down after NYC. 

Given that we're heading up to the parental units this afternoon for our annual Thanksgiving feast, I don't think I'm going to be at a loss for food this week.  My mom usually makes a ton of food which usually results in some good leftovers that get packed up into a goodie bag for us.  I really love this holiday, probably more than Christmas to be honest.  My parents live in Guelph about 50 minutes north west of Toronto so the drive up is beautiful.  The Hubs' entire family also makes the trek out to Guelph so there ends up being about 14 of us in total.  Makes for a rather loud and chaotic get together.   Hubs and I usually toss the baseball around with his niece and nephew, then we usually congregate in the family room and chit chat while the football game is on.  The game usually starts the banter between Hubs and my dad.  Both are very opinionated when it comes to football so the conversation is always entertaining.   My sister and I polish off a bottle of wine between us which usually results in me napping in the car on the way home.  I look forward to it every year.  It may be loud and chaotic and my family may be slightly crazy but I love them to pieces and I'm thankful for each and every one of them. 

What are you thankful for?

Do you have any Thanksgiving traditions?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Saturday Morning Freestyle

Lazy morning, gotta get going.  Sun is shining, calling my name.

Let's go.

Check the temps.  Better layer up.

Out the door into the cool crisp air.  I love days like this.
Off and running, down the street.  Round the bend and into the wind.

Maybe I should have worn a vest.

Hands are freezing.  Wind is gusting.  Pushing me around.
Work hard, hard work.

Hopefully it's at my back when I'm coming home.

Into the park, by the spit, more wind.  Howling.
Runners coming.  Wave hello.  Smiles exchanged.

West end is the best end for friendly faces.

3 weeks since I've run this way.  So many changes.
Re-build, re-vamp, re-sell.

Whoa that big house went up fast

Winding path, across the bridge, onto the rollers.
Up and down, up and down.
"Run to the hills, run for your life."

Out to Lakeshore along the path.
Brrring, brrring, On your left!  Watch the cyclists.

Legs are feeling good, I'm in a groove.
Chug chug chug along.
Runners up ahead.  Reel 'em in.

Empty baseball diamonds, season is over.
Geese have taken up residence.

Big guy in a toque. Speedy.  Can't catch him.
First rule of running:  Run your own pace. 

Gel time.  Peanut Butter GU.  Yes please!
Check my pace.  Good.  Check my heart rate.  Good good.
Keep on keepin' on.

Over the bridge, in and out of the wind.  What a view.
Stop for a pic: click, click.

Winding path, by homes, through the park.
Into the quiet of the trees.

Out into the sunshine.  Still windy.
Head down, keep pushing.
Wind will make you stronger.

Big homes on the water being made bigger.
Dirt, trucks, hammering.  Busy bees working.
Pound, pound, pound.

Into Port Credit.  Round the Marina.
Greeting by blazing colours and blue skies.
Oh hello!

Over another bridge.  11km in, 1km to go until the turnaround.
Stretching runners at Starbucks.  Heading towards the lake.
Wind at my back.  Finally.

Into JC Scaddington Park.  All is quiet.  Except for the fishermen.
The path is mine.  Glorious.
Rounding the bend, looking out to the lake.  Playing peek a boo through the bushes.
I spy with my little eye, a sailboat.

Park hopping, out of one into another.  Beep!
Turnaround time.
Retracing my steps.  Dark clouds rolling in.
Hope it doesn't rain.
Sun is playing hide and seek.
It's hot, it's cold, it's hot, it's cold.

Back towards the fishermen.
What are those birds?  Get the camera!
Bird Nerd in full affect.

Northbound into the wind.  Head down.
Over the bridge.  Wind is swirling, coming from all directions.

Past the pink bike, marking the path.  Turn here!
Another runner, going long.  Morning!
Along the lake through St. Lawrence Park.
Yoga happening by the lake.
Stretch it out.

Found my rhythm.  Feeling good.
Sunshine on my face, wind at my back, gently pushing.
What a great day.  Thankful for much.

More runners, more hellos.
Back into the quiet of the trees.
Watch the puddles.  Perfect picture.
Clickety click.  A study in contrasts.

Gotta get moving.  Still a ways to go.
Runner passes by.  Sweet!  A carrot! 
Time to pick it up.

Big dog coming through.  Woof woof!
Hello to you too!  Can't stay and play, home is calling.

Following the carrot, just out of reach.
No pushing.  Run your own pace. 
The racer in me wants to chase.
Easy tiger.

Lost the carrot at the lights.
Run my own pace.  Run my own race.
Along the path, towards the gates.
Dodge the cyclist, quick on my feet.
A laugh, a wave and a thank you.

Chugging along.  Winding path.
Feeling good.  Music pumping.
"It's my turn to drive, it's my turn to drive."

Getting closer.  Getting tired.
Suck it up and keep moving.
Left, right, left right.
Home is close.

"And  I came home, 
Like a stone, 
And I fell heavy into your arms"

Up Eleventh, by the pool, closed till next year.
Taking the corner, full tilt to Tenth Street.
Pushing pushing, closer.
Up the driveway.  Spent.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Ode to the Great Orange Gourd, Part One: Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

Now that October is here, it's officially fall in my mind, despite the cooler than normal temps we've been experiencing already.  Fall means crisp air, cozy sweaters, Thanksgiving and a proliferation of pumpkin-related things.  Starbucks brought their pumpkin spice latte back in early September but it just didn't feel right indulging in one of those on a balmy September afternoon.  Personally I think they jumped the gun.  Now that October is here, I may indulge in those a little more often.  My overall pumpkin consumption is somewhat constant throughout the year, but it definitely spikes with the arrival of fall.  Especially Thanksgiving.  Really,  what is Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie?  The two go hand in hand.   There was one Thanksgiving my mom decided to be oh-so-untraditional and not make a pumpkin pie.  I can't even begin to tell you the trauma that caused my sister and I.  I still haven't gotten over it.  To this day I always ask my mom if there's going to be pumpkin pie for dessert.

Obsess much?

Clearly.  So, I'm dedicating today's post to my favourite vegetable.  So versatile and yet so humble.   I am presenting you with 4 of my favourite pumpkin recipes over the next 4 weeks.   I know it can be used in savoury recipes (I've made an amazing pumpkin soup) but personally I like it slightly sweet.  Or at least topped with something sweet.  If you're a pumpkin fanatic like I am, you're bound to love these recipes.

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

I can't take credit for this entire recipe.  It has been adapted from Georgie Fear's recipe in Fuel Up (amazing cookbook by the way).  Her pancake recipe is nothing short of amazing on it's own but I was craving pumpkin so I tweaked it a bit.  I topped mine with 100% pure Canadian maple syrup, which is seriously a match made in heaven.  This is what helped fuel me to my overall Masters Female win at the Oakville Half Marathon. 

1 cup of quick cook oats
1 cup of egg whites
1/3 cup of pumpkin puree
1/4 cup of 1% cottage cheese
1/2 tbsp of baking powder
2 tsp of pure vanilla extract
1 tsp of ground cinnamon**
1/2 tsp of allspice**

**you could substitute 1.5- 2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice for these spices.

Put everything into a blender pitcher and puree it until smooth.    Pour onto a pre-heated non stick frying pan and cook until top starts to bubble.  Flip and cook another couple of minutes until done. 

Makes roughly 6 medium sized pancakes. 

Tune in next Monday for another pumpkin recipe!

Pumpkin Nirvana!

What's your favourite pumpkin recipe?