Race #1 of 2016 - First Responders Half Marathon (5K)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Despite not training at all (come on...its April. In Edmonton!), Mom and I finished our first race of the season on Sunday - the First Responders Half Marathon. 5K for me, 10K for Mommikins. After having a month of warm sunny weather, the clouds rolled in, the temperature dropped and the rains began to fall just in time for the race. Argh. However, we were undaunted. After all, we're Canadian women and we're Leydens/Londons. Weather Smeather.
Look how giddy we are....fools.
Mom's 10K group headed off five minutes before those of us doing the five but I figured given how fast she walks compared to me, she'll probably catch up to me shortly before the finish line. I started off fairly strong, although as usual at the back of the pack (I'm slow and happy with that). The cold and lack of regular walking threatened to hobble me as my toes began to stiffen and ache but they soon realized this was not some sick form of torture and loosened up.

I had heard the announcer say something about a hill right before we took off but didn't pay him much attention - he's probably talking about the half marathoners. No way they're going to make us short distance folks do a hill. Pfffft. Silly. I apparently should get a hearing aid. At about the 5K halfway point, the course vears up Groat Road hill (or whatever its official name is .... Satan's Sidewalk?). For everyone. Why would you do this? WTF?! But yes, there it was. The hill. I gave it hell as I powered my way up to the top and beyond to the turnaround point. People running back down the hill paid little heed to anyone still trying to climb up and I was almost involved in a number of near collisions as they figured I should move off the sidewalk despite also wearing a race bib. Courtesy people. There's more than just you Speedy Gonzales' flying downhill. As I started back down towards the eventual finish line (I know it was down there somewhere!), I highfived a lady on her way up. She was surprised but happy; I then went to high five her companion who I thought had seen me. I ended up causing her to almost fall over as I surprised her. Note to self - make sure to make eye contact first before attempting any future high fives. Inspired by the gaggles of 10K runners now flying past me on the downslope, I said Fuck It and went for it myself. Careful not to throw myself face first into the pavement, I kept to my penguin running pace and eneded up running most of the way downhill. 

Remember the first five words of this blog post: "Despite not training at all"?  Yeah, deciding to run down the hill was not my smartest move. Not training included not doing my stretches for my runners knee so by the time I got back to the relatively flat surface of Hawrelak Park, my right knee began to seize. No more running for me until I could see the finish line and the announcer began butchering calling out everyone's name. Sadly, I came in with a group of fast runners and he didn't get to my name. Sad face. However, I hobbled across the finish line, and picked up my nifty medal.
Yes, its shaped like a running shoe! Where's the date though????
When I picked up our race packages a few days prior, I was surprised to see a ticket for a free post race meal for all athletes. Winner! We were given a choice between Lemongrass Grill and Fat Franks. While Lemon Grass Grill sounded healthier and probably tastier, I took one look at the lineups for both, saw how slowly Lemon Grass was moving and hopped into line for Franks and picked up my victory meal. 
Most delicious hot dog of my life.
Official time: 54:49. Not great but average for me. I'm not a fast runner and to be honest, the time doesn't bother me ... much. That'll change as the year goes on and we get a few more under our belts. And now the waiting began. After my delicious mustard hot dog in a bun, I waited another 45 minutes for mom to come in. I have to say, I am so proud of her. She came running towards the finish line all smiles. It turns out, she got this weird urge (runners, you know what I mean) to start running shortly after her race began. She ended up running (like me, a penguin) about a third of her race! Woot! Her official time was 1:48:16. Very respectable - sixth in her age bracket! 
Kicken' Ass
Race #1 is in the books. After a post-race massage for Mom and her own victory meal, we headed home. We spent a total of almost four hours out there in the cold and wet but it was worth it. The running bug has definitely returned and I'm looking forward to next month's race (#2) - the Shoppers Drug Mart Run for Women in support of women's mental health programs in the community. Another 5K for me and a 10K for Mom.

One thing I'm not happy about is the official race photos that were posted online. Its not the photographer's fault nor the race organizers, its my own. I knew I had gained some weight since we moved last year. The number itself isn't a lot but it definitely shows and I can't believe how I look in the photos.
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Sure, I can use the excuses that the camera adds 10lbs, my sports bra lifts and REALLY seperates, or that my pants had fallen down a bit (all of which are true) but the reality is that I've let my eating habits get out of control (damn you Papa Johns and your delicious pizza bread) and I rarely get out and move around much anymore. That's definitely changing. I can't blame it on no longer being close to the river valley and the ease of using its trail system for walking, nor that I sold my treadmill. I've just become lazy. So, thanks for the wakeup call sports photographer guy.

The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

Thursday, April 21, 2016
I don't hold much stock in the "fortunes" included in fortune cookies. Sure they're fun but they're purposefully generic, a lot like psychics, so that people can apply whatever fortune they get to their own lives. So, when I stopped to pick up dinner for Mom and I at Wok Box last night, I almost didn't grab a couple of them to go with our teriyaki shrimp (Mom) and teriyaki chicken (me).   Almost.  As I waited for our food to be ready, I reached into the bowl and grabbed a cookie. When I went to pick up a second one, I realized it was attached to another one. Chuckling slightly to myself, I figured it was a "sign" and I had better take the two who were attached, just like it seems Mommikins and I are sometimes attached at the hip. I tossed them into my bag, grabbed our take out boxes and headed to the train in order to torture my fellow commuters with the smell of stir fry.

Mom never eats her fortune cookies. Usually, hers ends up sitting on the counter, in a drawer or in the cupboard for a couple of weeks before I decide to toss it in the garbage. So, it was a bit of a surprise when I heard her rip open the wrapper and start crunching her cookie after finishing off her noodles. As she read her fortune, she started laughing. "You soon will be crossing warm waters for a fun vacation." While the Pacific Ocean isn't that warm, it seemed to hit close to home - we're heading to Hawaii in the New Year. Hearing her fortune, I couldn't wait to open mine to see if it held as much promise.

"Your talents will bring you the highest status and prestige."

As my Facebook friends will know by now, my current job (a secondment) is ending six months early and I am being returned to my previous position. Not because of anything I've done; my old branch has not been able to keep anyone in that role for longer than 4 months since I left a year and a half ago so they told my current office they either need to make my role there permanent or they're going to take me back (they have the right to do so; it is written into my agreement). My current bosses did everything they could to keep me but after two months, they've exhausted all options and ... back I go. Its okay...sort of. I understand the reasons for pulling me back and I appreciate everything my bosses did to try and sort things out. It still doesn't mean I'm happy. Therefore, beginning last week, I started applying for new jobs. One position in particular has me very excited - I won't get into the details but its with a different Ministry (I work for the Government) and it would definitely be a promotion ("higher status"). It is also with a higher office ("prestige"). 

Needless to say, I started laughing as I read my fortune out loud and it continued as I read it to Mommikins. I'm holding onto this particular fortune and hoping that it comes true.

I miss running. A lot.

Friday, April 15, 2016
That about sums up my mood right now. Sigh...


INTERVIEWS OF THE NOT SO RICH AND FAMOUS - EP 25 - THE EDMONTON TOURIST

Wednesday, April 06, 2016
Has it really been 5 years (OMG) since the last installment of my interview series? Yes, apparently it has. We're back with a pair of new interviews of the not so Rich and Famous. First up, my good friend, Robyn, who I had the pleasure to become real life friends with after meeting through blogging. You can read her fabulous blog, The Edmonton Tourist. Robyn is one of those amazing friends that I only see in person every 3-4 months but we always pick up right where we left off as though we had just talked the day before. She continually inspires me to push myself further, to believe in myself, and not take shit from anyone. We joke about the most inappropriate things and laugh until we're in tears. Heck, when we first met, over a cup of tea and a slice of pumpkin cheesecake (hold the walnuts!), we talked about certain parts of your anatomy ... um ... you know ... um ... rubbing ... irritating ... when you run ... ah ... so ... alright! We talked about butt chafing! Ok? Butt chafing! That's the kind of friend she is! Don't judge us; its a common runner problem. Anyways, I should probably move on to the interview before I get myself in trouble. Without further ado, please enjoy learning a bit more about what makes Robyn tick.
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  1. Name, occupation, favourite running medal.
    Robyn National Events Project Manager my first Half Marathon Finisher Medal 08/11.
  2. Garden gnomes are taking over the world and only you can save the human race. How do you do it?
    Smash them with rocks and my slingshot.
  3. If you could only choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what would it be and who would sing it?
    Darth Vader's Theme.
  4. If health/cost were not an issue, and you could run any marathon/half marathon in the world, which one would you choose, what would be the celebratory drink of choice and how much trouble would you get into post-race?
    New York Marathon, Le Chouffe and I'd crash Mark Ruffalo's home. He lives close to the finish line.
  5. You have to hide a dead body. Now!
    Roll in carpet toss into neighbors yard- he's so messy no one will ever find it.
  6. Why do you love Disney so very much?
    When I was 6 I sat on Main Street with my dad to watch the Electrical Parade. It is one of my favourite memories of my dad. Walking into Disneyland takes me back instantly to that moment.
  7. If you could have any famous person (not including Donald Trump) locked in a room so that you could torment them for a day, whom would you choose and how would you torment them?
    Jann Arden - talking smack because she'd give it right back and that would make me laugh.
  8. What is your favourite swear word? Use it in a sentence. Explain why it is the king/queen of all expletives.
    OH FOR FUCKSAKES. It's satisfying because my mom gets so shocked by me using it. I then remind her I'm 48 and can say whatever the fuck I please.
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  9. A loud noise wakes you from a deep sleep. You turn on the light to find that you are surrounded by mummies. They aren't doing anything, just standing around your bed. What do you do?
    Roll over and go back to sleep. I covet sleep above all else.
  10. Why do men have nipples?
    To make their pecks look good....duh
  11. In the fruit salad of life, which fruit are you?
    Tomato. Not quite like I seem.
  12. A crazy “doctor” travels through time and space in a ship disguised as a British police call box. Why? Try to convince me this is even remotely entertaining.
    The kitschy B movie horror films are hilarious and the Doctor is surrounded by terrible props, fakery and bad sets. The writing is clever and promotes kindness. It embraces diversity and uniqueness. Besides, BBC has 5 actors, 3 sets and 1 tie, that makes it fun to spot stuff.
  13. At last count, how many pairs of running shoes do you currently own and how do you possibly decide what pair to wear on any given day?
    I have reduced my collection to 37. I wear 1 pair more than others because they are the most comfortable- shout out to Saucony ISO Triumph ! I also have collector sneakers- Kinvaras from Ireland, Triumphs from NYC Marathon. I want the Brooks Nantucket for the Boston Marathon.
  14. You’ve been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. What did you do to earn it and who is the third person you thank?
    I wrote a novel that was read the world over on the Tao of Muppets. How following the Muppet Religion is all inclusive and accepting. The 3rd person I thank is Frank Oz because Jim Henson was the second.
  15. Design your own unique beer. Describe its flavour, its name, and the label. Is it beer-y?
    It is a dark ale and crisp with a hint of coffee. It's name is Danger and yes it's hoppy.

All Work and No Play...

Saturday, February 27, 2016
I can't believe that it is almost March. It seems like I just did my year in review post and declared this the year of Caesar Sundays... And now its almost Big Brother's birthday and spring is definitely in the air. Time certainly flies. Sigh.

Speaking of Caesar Sundays, they haven't begun yet. They were supposed to start last weekend (delayed due to Super Bowl Sunday) but unfortunately timing didn't work out so we're still looking at rescheduling. I'm having a long overdue drink with the amazing Robyn tomorrow which will be the first, and possibly the only, Caesar Sunday. There have been a lot of factors working against my fun weekly plan: (1) I don't have a lot of friends, at least people I want to share a drink with. I KNOW a lot of people but there's a difference (2) I'm inherently lazy and haven't been bothered to put more than a cursary effort into this little project; and (3) I realized how much I might end up spending over the course of the year and I had to shake my head a little bit.

As you may remember, over the past year and a bit, I've finally paid off my two student loans in full and I paid off another loan I had (in half the time they gave me!).  Seeing those debts be erased from my "To Do" list, is an incredible feeling. The only other debt I now currently have is my credit card and that is the recipient of every spare bit of change I can funnel its way.  Ahhhhhh, the prospect of being completely debt free is like an aphrodisiac. Sooooo addictive.  However...
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I haven't taken many vacations in my adult life. TBH, I've only taken three. The first was 1991 when my best friend at the time and I went to California for a week. It was our first trip travelling alone (her first outside of Alberta!) and we had a blast. Eighteen long years later, I took my second vacation where I travelled to England by myself and wandered the streets of London alone, stayed with complete strangers who turned out to not be axe murderers (yay) and instead were two of the most wonderful people you could ever hope to meet. In 2013, my most recent vacation took me, my mother and my favourite aunt to one of the most beautiful spots in the world, Jasper National Park. Ahhh, my own little bit of heaven.

Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed. Not doing so is a waste. Sure, there are debts to be paid and retirement to be saved for but taking care of myself in a good way (not treating myself to takeout far too often as I usually do) is as essential as both of those things. And so, Mommikins and I are treating ourselves to a trip to celebrate our next birthdays.  We are going to Hawaii for a week in the new year where we will wander around the island of Oahu, soaking up the sun, climbing volcanoes, and living the island life. Its not the original trip we had hoped to take but rather than throwing ourselves back into debt to pay for the "trip of a lifetime" we've opted for something a bit more financially responsible and yet still enjoyable, relaxing and offering us the opportunity to recharge our physical and mental batteries.

Its taken me a long time to learn to be responsible with my money and it was a very hard, emotional and expensive lesson. But now that I have, I've also learned that its ok to spend some of it on things that matter. Making memories, spending quality time with those I love and care for, and remembering the almighty dollar isn't the bottom line.
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