Tuesday, August 19, 2014

STWM: Training Diary Week 9

The best laid plans... I had every intention of walking 8.25 miles on Sunday. That's .25 miles further than my training scheduled called for but I was pumped. I was psyched. I was ready!  My bladder however was not.
As you might be able to tell from the picture above, it was taken before the overwhelming urge to wee hit me.  Let me start from the beginning...

Sunday was supposed to be the inaugural Earthgroove 10K Trail Race here in Edmonton. I had signed up for the 5K and planned to try and run part of it.  However, only eight of us signed up for it and it ended up being cancelled.  So, instead I was on my own.  No problemo.  As I mentioned above, I was excited to get out there and really put in some distance. 

Everything started out well although I felt rushed getting out of the house.  I had to be finished by 9:30 as I was meeting the family at Big Brother's house and I'd need to shower and rest before going over.  So, off I went, out the door and into the river valley just after seven.  Thanks to the attacks I suffered last week from the blood suckers, I opted to douse myself in bug spray this time out.  Sunscreen? Check.  Copious amounts of bug repellent? Double check (and double dose to be safe). 

By the time I hit the high level bridge, the urge to "go" had begun. Aw crap (pun intended)!  It wasn't too bad at this point so I figured maybe, just maybe, I could make it all the way to Hawrelak Park before needing to find a bathroom.  Nope.  Part way down Saskatchewan Drive, I realised that I was going to have to detour down into my old friend, Emily Murphy Park.  In my head, I quickly tried to map out a new route and figure out how far I could go.  Needless to say, disappointment quickly set in.  Relief also set in as I inched closer to the bathroom.  

I must have sweat off all of my bug spray.  Walking through the grass towards the bathroom, I encountered one adventurous mosquito that risked his tiny little life by trying to suck my blood.  He died valiantly.  However, when I came out and started on my way again, his relatives swarmed me en masse.  They were everywhere!  Sadly, thanks to the skeeter assault and the lack of a definitive route to get the mileage I wanted, I cut my morning short and did my standard 5.5 mile loop.

Some good news: on the advice of Pat the Runner, I decided to try a toe sleeve. It worked really well, at least at this shorter distance.  Here's hoping that the toe problems have been resolved or at least lessened.
Next Sunday, I'm doing the 10K race as part of the Edmonton Marathon weekend.  Stay tuned!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Wheelie Time!

Confession time.  I've never owned a car.  Ever.  In all my 41 years.  

I'm going to change that come springtime.  I've wanted a car for a long time.  Heck, since before I could drive but I've never been able to afford it.  Plus Edmonton has a halfway decent transit system (although yes, I think Calgary's is currently better) so getting around has never been a problem.  I also have a super awesome Big Brother and a Super Duper SIL who have lent me their vehicles over the years or taken me where I needed to go when the bus wouldn't cut it.

My original plan that I hatched earlier this year was to pay off my student loans and my personal loan, and then save for a couple of years and pay cash for a car.  However, after dinner with friends last night, I got to thinking.  Why should I go car-less for the next four or five years while I save when I can finance a car and have it almost paid off in the same amount of time - while getting to drive! The difference in cost between paying cash and financing is minimal (I got an online quote this morning) so its not like I'll be paying 1.5X the cost of the car.
The car I'm considering is a 2014 Hyundai Accent GL 5 Door (Hatchback).  Automatic transmission.  Green apple in colour (would I get it in anything else?).  The payments are totally doable once my student loan is paid off in full (I'm anticipating March 2015) and I got a few quotes online for insurance.  However, I don't know the first thing about buying a car.  What do you do first?  Buy the car or get insurance?  Is there haggling involved or is the sticker price THE price?  Do you get the extra coverage through the dealership or skip it?  Argh.

Any tips from those of you who've purchased a car before?  Help!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Cider Wars

Today, I felt like a drink.  Something cool, alcoholic, and full of flavour.  Mmmm, cider it is.  The local liquor store though didn't have any Strongbow.  I would not be deterred so I reached for the Grower's.  I almost walked back to the counter to pay when something caught my eye.  It was this...
 Angry Orchard apple cider.
I'm not completely sold on it after one bottle but its not unpleasant.  Unlike Strongbow, its only 5% alcohol so it doesn't pack the same kind of punch and it took a while before the warm feeling began to spread throughout my body beginning in my tummy.  Its sweeter and has a stronger apple flavour.  I liken it to that first bite of a crisp, juicy, perfectly ripe Spartan/McIntosh apple.  Plus its got a wicked cool label.
It looks right at home on my balcony, doesn't it?   The sweetness takes some getting used to.  While I don't mind it, I'm not sure if I would buy this particular flavour of theirs again.  I'm more of a dry cider gal so I'd go with their Traditional Dry variety. I like that the company also offers seasonal brews - light tropical fruity floral for the summer, and their Sinful Apple which sounds right up my alley.  MUST FIND SOME.  

What's your favourite hard cider?

STWM: Training Diary Week 8

Another long walk can be checked off of my list.  On the training schedule was seven and a half miles and I ended up doing 7.25!  That's a full mile further than last week.  I'm back on track!  It was overcast and dreary when I started out early this morning, with a definite feel of fall in the air.  Even the trees were feeling it - every time I looked around, I saw a couple of yellow leaves here and there.

I headed off through the river valley to Hawrelak Park today.  The road around the lake there is 2.5K so it would be the perfect add on to my now standard loop. The park will be hosting yet another big world class event this summer.  
While the views are lovely and the road is removed from the hustle and bustle of the regular river valley traffic, the lack of hot temps and bright sunshine meant the skeeters were out and looking for a feast.  Lucky little buggers; they found me and my Type 0 blood which is apparently mosquito crack.  Total bite count for this morning:  9 (back of head - 2; back of arm - 1; shoulder blade - 1; back of legs - 5).
In a couple of weeks, crowds of people will fill the park to cheer on the athletes.  Today however, the only crowds (other than the swarms of mosquitoes) were huge flocks of Canada Geese.
I've heard the stories.  Geese, while majestic and beautiful, can be quite bitchy and protective. If there had been only one or two, I would have ventured a little closer and tried to snap a better shot.  Two different gangs of geese roaming the streets like a scene out of West Side Story?  No thank you.  I moved from the road to the path to the grass and then a few feet further away.
Two and a half hours later, I stumbled up the steps to my building.  The bottoms of my feet started to get a bit sore around 6 miles and then my right knee flared up for the last 1/2 hour but overall I felt great (and tired!).

The training diaries from now on are just going to focus on Sundays - I don't have much to talk about when I work out during the week anyway so why bother waiting???? 

STWM: Training Diary Week 7

SUNDAY:  Today, I had 7 miles scheduled but I'm a bit behind distance-wise thanks to one Sunday on the treadmill and then misjudging the distance I was supposed to go last week. However, I'm sticking to it and having some (VERY sweaty) fun.  Mom joined me for the first time today and we made a new friend.
Also saw these nut-like things and I have to admit, I don't know what they are. Does anyone have any idea? I feel a bit silly not knowing but .... there you go.
Unfortunately Mom couldn't join me for the whole walk; she had to get home and start getting ready for work. However, she walked just over 5 miles which is awesome!  She was so tired by the time she got home from work!  At the point where we went in opposite directions, Mom gave me a big High-Five and headed home.  Odd yes but that's how we roll.  I ended up walking 6.25 miles. 

Having a small problem with my index toes.  After my long walks, the tips of my index toes (where the calluses are) hurt when I take my shoes off and walk around barefoot.  It sounds like I might have Morton's Toe (aka Morton's Foot).  I'll be discussing with my Doctor the next time I go and see him.

WEDNESDAY:  Today I told the heat and humidity to get lost. Neither listened to me but I hopped on the treadmill regardless. I haven't felt much like working out in the evenings because its just felt gross by that time of day - hot, humid, no air moving. Ugh.  I had to do something. My training can't just consist of long walks on Sundays.  That's not going to cut it.  Plus I bought a new running shirt on the weekend and I really wanted to try it out.  Not only did I get on the treadmill and push start (a feat in itself!) but I ran for the first time in a while.  R1/W2s for 33 minutes.  I was definitely tired by the end of it and my head was dripping sweat (gross, yes - deal with it) but I felt fantastic!

We heard from my Aunt the other day; she's supposed to be doing the half marathon with us in October.  Unfortunately, due to a plethora of travel for work (she's a globetrotter!), she hasn't had much time for training.  Chances are she'll walk with us - if she's able to come.  From the sounds of it, she might have to be in Asia for part of October and might miss it!  Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!  Oh well.  We'll have to just see how things work out.  Fingers crossed though! 

Friday, August 08, 2014

The New Job

The new job began this week.  It was an unusual experience for me, beginning this particular new job.  I wasn't nervous or excited.  It probably was due to still being in the same area of government, the same building, and working indirectly with people I already knew.  It was a bit daunting though once I turned on my computer and began working that first morning. My predecessor started forwarding emails to me right away and I quickly had an inbox full of meetings to schedule, budgeting to do and random other items to get a start on.  Throw on some duties left over from my previous position (until they hire someone full time) and I was swamped.  However, I'm slowly getting a handle on things and I'm sure in a week or two, I'll be deep in the swing of things.

One good thing about being so incredibly busy - I don't have time to snack.  Oh sure, it also helps that the snack cupboard isn't located right next to my desk anymore now that I've switched floors but I just don't have time to think about reaching for something to stuff in my mouth.  And I don't (so far anyways) have much down time so I don't get those "I'm bored therefore I must eat" thoughts.  My waistline will hopefully appreciate this soon.
My new desk backs onto a window. Its wonderful!  I'm on the non-sunny side of the building which means it doesn't get scorchingly hot by midafternoon.  While that means I look out at Jasper Avenue and Churchill  Square rather than the beautiful green of Edmonton's river valley, I'm not complaining.  I could be stuffed in a dark, dank, sweat box with no natural light.  My small group of five all seem very nice and we're getting along well, despite having very different personalities.  Its still only day four but I think I'm going to enjoy this new challenge!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Feeling The Love

After three and a half years in my current position, I'm moving on to new adventures and opportunities.  I make it sound so exciting but I'm just moving to another division within my part of the government and a couple of floors away.  However, I'm very proud to say that I've done a smashing job at really whipping my current group into tip top shape (or as close as I can get them!).  They were all very surprised when I announced that I was taking a secondment in another area for the next couple of years.  Shock.  Horror.  It was all a bit overwhelming for them.  I take good care of my folks and they know it.  They're all worried about what's going to happen when I'm gone. 
It will be at least 3 weeks (likely more) before they have someone in place for me to train. However, I'll be long gone by then. My last day is this Friday and I start my new position on Tuesday.  There won't be many people around to help them in their area either - Friday is the last day for another of the admins in our division and a third might be leaving at the end of August.  Sigh.  Not much I can do.  Despite feeling so blue and panicky about my leaving, they got together and presented me with this lovely bouquet.  I wonder who knew that Gerberas are one of my favourite flowers?
I'm looking forward to this new job; I'll have different duties and responsibilities (including budgeting and forecasting) and will be exposed to a whole different side of what our part of government does.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

STWM: Training Diary Week 6

SUNDAY:  I wasn't sure I was going to head outside this morning.  I really wasn't in the mood and debated hopping on the treadmill instead.  However, I somehow summoned the willpower and hit the river valley trails.  Once I was dressed and stepped out the door, I felt glad that I had made the decision to head outside.  I was also excited because I had downloaded a bunch of podcasts to listen to on my walk and was looking forward to having something to distract me from the distance.  Sadly, my iPod would only play two of them and they combined for a whopping 20 minutes of listening time.  Argh.  That's ok, when I got home, I figured out how to put them on my iPhone so I'm prepared for next time!
I headed out later than normal and was worried that it would get too hot too quickly but when you have views like this, who cares about the temperature, right?
I'm not always the most observant but I swear these flower pots are new.  When did they start lining River Valley Road with hanging planters?  Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. They're lovely but it just struck me as slightly odd.
I hadn't mapped out my route very accurately before I left the house but thought I remembered how far the route I had planned was. It wouldn't be quite the 6.5 miles I was scheduled for but still a good distance.  Turns out it was 5 miles and that was just barely!  Not going out the week before took its toll; I had to stop and stretch out my legs along the way.
And let's not discuss how sore the pads of my feet were by the time I got home and took my shoes off. Ouch-a-roo!  It wasn't as hot out as I expected. While it was brilliantly sunny, the rains on Saturday definitely cooled everything off enough that it was quite tolerable.  And I wasn't the only one who thought so. There were packs of runners out and about this morning. Most likely as part of the Running Room's Sunday Run Club.
This picture doesn't do the crowds justice.  I encountered or was passed by about a dozen groups of at least 6 - 10 runners at various times.  Plus plenty of folks in training for the upcoming ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in late August.

WEDNESDAY:  I was up at 4AM baking cookies. Why, you ask? Why not, I ask in return.  This was going to be the coolest part of the day and I really wanted to bake so .... there you go.
Since I was up and moving, and it was still not Hellishly hot out, I also decided to head out for some exercise. Wednesdays are now scheduled to be "hill days" but I didn't quite feel like it so I headed over to the Royal Glenora to run some stairs.  I use the term "run" VERY loosely.  I was sweating before I even finished getting dressed.  It was 20C at 7AM and would eventually soar to 31C later in the day. Ugh.  Fortunately 20C is a decent temperature for me and I didn't mind it once I got outside.  I took my time getting over to Constable Ezio Faraone Park and found a group of military service members (Army I think) running up and down the stairs, around the Glenora parking lot, and then repeating the whole process.  Beasts, all of them.  I managed one and two thirds flights of stairs.  Before you laugh at me and think I'm a quitter, take a gander....
These ain't some sissy stairs.  The Royal Glenroa stairs are well known in Edmonton and are typically swamped with sweaty climbers from sun-up to sun-down in the summer.  I didn't get to take a picture so I'm including this wintery one.  Ahhhhh, winter. I miss you.

By the time I had finished the first full set, my legs were jello.  However, I didn't want to look like a chump in front of all the people racing up and down the stairs so I headed back down to do another one.  By the time I reached the first of the three landings, I knew I wasn't going to make it.  I turned around at the next landing and even that was probably too far for me.  My legs were mush and my lungs were on fire.
Somehow I stumbled to the top again and found the nearest bench.  After resting for about 10 minutes and drinking some water I headed home.  Things were fine except when I had to stop walking at a crosswalk - return of the jelly legs.  And then, to top it all off, I had to walk down the hill to my apartment. I was pretty sure they would give out and I'd fall into morning rush hour traffic.  As you may have guessed, that didn't happen.  It felt great later in the day to know that I did some stairs. What didn't feel so great was realizing how out of shape I am. My apartment and my office are both in high rises, and they're both over 15 floors up.  I don't do stairs very often in my day to day life.  A definite kick in the pants, this was.

Given the heat is supposed to stick around all week, I'm not planning on any more walking/running. Until my next long walk on Sunday and Mommikins might come with me!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

STWM: Training Diary Week 5

I can't call this training, at least not this week.  I awoke on Sunday feeling not very well so instead of my scheduled 6 miles, I hopped on the treadmill and walked 3.  And that was the extent of my week.  Yep, just the one day of walking.  No running, no other treadmill walks, nothing.  Blech.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Doctor Doolittle

The giant orange furball, aka Nero, and I headed off to long overdue checkup with the Vet today.
Don't worry, I didn't ACTUALLY transport him in a backpack.  Although it was tempting.... He went into his new carrying case quite easily and then... proceeded to wail and howl like he was being tortured.  Sigh.  As we waited for the elevator, I was sure our neighbours were going to start popping their heads out of their apartments to stare at us in annoyance and judgement.  The cab ride was relatively uneventful.  I'm not sure if the continued wailing from Nero was due to his shock and discomfort or if he was bothered by the overwhelming smell of oil/grease in the vehicle. Ugh.

Nero hasn't been to any Vet since he had crystals and that was about 7 years ago?  Needless to say it was about time.  For the past couple of years, he's been getting some residue/deposit/gunk on the edge of his nose - you can see it ithe picture below.  It doesn't bother him in terms of breathing and I can rub it off with my fingers but I've never had it happen with any other cat I've had before so I wanted it checked out.
After Anubis' rapid deterioration following his traumatic visit to the Glenora Cat Clinic earlier this year, I opted to take the Emperor to a different clinic.  Luckily, the Rossetti Veterniary Centre is just a couple of blocks away from the GCC so we didn't have to travel any further.  I am sooooo happy with this new Vet.  We lucked out and met with Dr. Rossetti himself and he LOVED Nero.  I have never seen him so well behaved and quiet when being poked and prodded by a stranger.  Dr. Rossetti gave him the once over - healthy weight, good heart and lungs, no blockages or lumps.  He's concerned that Nero may have allergies which is what I had suspected as well.  He didn't go out much when we lived in our old apartment but where we live now, he's able to go out on the balcony and get exposed to all manner of flying pollen and dusties.  We left after he received a steroid shot with the promise that they would call us a couple of times in the next few weeks to see if it helps.  We'll definitely go back to visit with Dr. R and his staff again.

After an uneventful (and relatively quiet) taxi ride home, someone let us know he was not amused.

Final bit of "cat news", while pulling some of my fave Nero pics from my Flickr account, I found one of my alltime favourite shots of the boys.  
Typically Nero, splayed out and exposing his jibblies to the world.  Anubis, in healthier happier days, looks like he'd dreaming of pouncing through the grass chasing bugs as he was so fond of doing.  I miss that furry little bugger.