Sunday, December 11, 2011

Discount December!

Since we all spend so much money in December on the holidays, I thought I'd end my year off with a month of discovering good, cheap wines. Do you have any suggestions? The cheaper (but still good), the better.

So far this month, I've had my old faithful Fuzion shiraz malbec blend. It's under $10 at the NSLC. It's pretty good for the price.

Then I was out with some friends last weekend, and I had taken a bottle of Fuzion with me. I meant to go pick up a more expensive bottle, but time ran out, so I grabbed the bottle I had at home. I felt bad taking the $10 bottle to share, and felt that I had to tell the girls that it was only $10. Luckily, they weren`t insulted, and were instead adding it to their list of cheap wines. And one of the other girls suggested another good, cheap wine that is her go-to bottle, so I picked it up this week.


I usually stayed away from South African wines as I hadn`t yet found one that I really liked. But, since it was just around $10, I picked it up. I was pleasantly surprised. It was quite nice for the price.

So, I guess my next step will be to head to Port of Wines and ask for some suggestions. I am a little afraid trying $10 wines. Not that I`ll waste a lot of money if I don`t like them, and could then keep them for cooking, but I`d rather them be drinkable!

Any suggestions on what else I should try?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Carmenere

Trying to be a little more proactive on this wine blogging so I'm not just rooting through my recycling bag to write a blog post on what I've tried...

I headed over to Port of Wines on my lunch break and told them I was looking for a carmenere to try this weekend. The lady working there (who is always helpful) pointed me to a few, and told me that this one is good. It was $19.99, so I decided to pick up a bottle. This will be my one more expensive bottle of the month. (I usually try to stay around $15.)

She also mentioned the Carmen carmeneres. I'll try to find those the next time I pick up a bottle. Again, noting this partially for my blog, but mainly just as a reminder for myself in the future.

Hopefully, this proactive post will help me to remember to post when I actually open the bottle this weekend. Here goes nothing...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Yummy Wines!

My recycling goes out tonight, and it is time for me to put out those wine bottles that have been collecting on my counter! I've been saving the bottles so I could write them down. Weeks have gone by, and usually, I just chuck them in the recycling before I get a chance to remember what they were.

First, I brought a bottle of Rutherford Predator home with me from Napa Valley. Sounds tough, doesn't it? The LCBO has a good description of the flavors of this old vine zin.

I really did love the name, and the cute little ladybug on the label. But most of all, it was just yummy. This was on our second winery stop of the day, and I'd already tasted about six other wines. But this one, I had to buy. It was smoky, and big. Actually, when I opened the bottle at home, it wasn't as smoky as I remembered from the tasting. But it was still really good. We can't buy this one in Nova Scotia right now, I don't think, so I'll have to take another trip to California to get another bottle. Too bad. (Or pick some up in Ontario...)

Then to finish off October, I picked up a bottle of Bonterra Zinfandel. It's an organic wine from California. It surprised me. It wasn't nearly as fruity as I was expecting. It was more mellow than I would have thought a zin would be. I guess there is more to zin than my limited experience had taught me. I really enjoyed sipping that one, and will definitely pick up more in the future. I got that bottle at Port of Wines for under $20.

When November started, I realized that I was out of countries that I wanted to try. So I decided to pick a grape that I wasn't as familiar with and sample a few of those this month. For November, I picked carmenere.  I picked up a bottle of Concha y Toro Casillero Del Diablo. I've had carmeneres in blends before, but I think this was the first time I've bought it not in a blend. It snelled like it was going to be big and spicy (if I remember correctly), but it was really mellow. I really liked it.

I'm looking forward to trying some more carmeneres over the month. Got any good ones to recommend?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lazy Blogger

So, I didn't blog at all in October. Oops. Not that I'm a regular blogger anyway, so I don't think anyone really noticed.

Running - I ran my half marathon in San Francisco. It was hilly. It was great. I really enjoyed the run, and I was really thankful that my injury derailed my plans to attempt a personal best. I enjoyed the trip to San Fran, and wasn't anxious before the race since I had no set goals. I think that having no time goals on a traveled to race is the best way to do it. I was able to drink wine the night before the race and not worry about how it would affect me the next day. And, when in California, you really should drink the wine.

Reading - I've been reading. Actually, I've been listening more than reading. I have been enjoying many e-books on my iPod on the walks to work. I haven't kept track of those that I've read or listened to, though. So I can't really comment much on that. Terrible reading update.

Resolutions - Heading to San Fran, I knew that October would be my month to try USA wines. I really enjoyed the wines of October. I topped it off with a day trip to Napa Valley to visit four vineyards and sample their wares. That was a lovely day trip, even if I did start out a little hungover after some post race celebrations with my friend the night before. However, sampling wines at 10 a.m. does wonders for lifting the hangover. As does a large latte from Peet's on the bus ride up to Napa.

I realize that this post is a terrible update as there are really no details! But, let's just say that in October, I was focused more on living life and enjoying the moments instead of writing them all down. When I have more time in the future, I may go back and fill in some details on some of my favorite things.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hiatus Lifted - Slowly back to Running

I was very pleased to get running homework when I went to physio last week. With four days until my next appointment, my homework was to run three days  - 2-3k the first day, 4k the next, and then 5k the last. This is to be started off with 10 minutes on the bike to get everything warmed up. 

The first day went well other than feeling like my legs and lungs had forgotten running. The second was about the same. Today, I biked to work and then hit the waterfront for an attempt at 5k with no walk breaks to see how far I could get. (The other two days were to be run/walk intervals.) Since yesterday's run was tough, I fully expected today's would be as well. 

I left my house just as the sun was coming up. My 20 minute bike ride to work also was a reminder that I hadn't biked outside in a while. The stationary bike is great, but it doesn't really mimic the hills! Though it also doesn't mimic the awesome downhills. I dropped off my stuff at the gym and headed to the waterfront. It was beautiful. The sun was part way up in the sky, shining off the water. Hardly anyone was around other than me, a handful of other runners, and the seagulls. At this point, I reflected on why I love running so much. Those treadmill runs are ok, but really, I just love being out and getting to appreciate the scenery. 

When my garmin beeped at the first kilometer, I passed the accordion player and he said good morning. I continued on up the waterfront and before I knew it, my garmin beeped at 2km. Huh. Didn't feel tired. Nice! I watched the cruise ships making their turns in the harbour. Then I looped around at Pier 21 and the garmin beeped for 3k. Not long after this, my quad started burning. Hmmm. Better walk. Took a short walk break until the burn went away and started again. Not too far and it burned again. "Does burn count as hurt?" My physiotherapist told me to stop when it hurt. I tried to start running a few times and then just figured it wasn't worth it. I had an appointment today, so I'd ask then. 

I walked the rest of the way back to the gym, garmin beeping for 4k and 5k. It was a nice walk. As much as I wish I hadn't had to stop running, I really enjoyed the walk. Before my injury, I was walking 4-8k a day and then was benched from walking longer than 1km. But, the walking didn't hurt at all, so I'm thinking that will be allowed again now. 

So, looks like 3k is my max distance right now. That's a bit of a bummer as I'd really like to be running farther to prepare for my half marathon. But, I'm pretty pleased that I am able to run 3k. That's much better than 0k. And as I continue on with my physio and strengthening my glutes/core, that number will go up again. I'm thankful that I'm at least able to bike and walk again as well. Tomorrow I am to try my 5k run again, this time with a stationary bike warm up instead of a cycle commute. Fingers crossed that I make it farther than 3k before the pain! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Running Hiatus

Well, I hit the crucial point of my training cycle, and got injured. A few weeks ago, I noticed my hip starting to get tighter than usual. My left hip was always tight and had much less mobility, but it started to actually bother me. So then I went to a yoga class and requested hip openers. I guess that was a bad thing. It just increased the tightness in the hip.

I tried running through it, thought it would just work itself out. I ran 18k a few days later, and didn't really have too much issue. Then as the week went on, I noticed a burning in my hip that would move to my glute and my hamstring while running or walking. It would only last a few minutes, and then the burning would stop. I took it easier for the rest of the week, resting, and less intensity.

Then I ran 12k as a cutback the next Monday. It didn't feel too bad, but I started to notice that I couldn't put my shoe on my left foot without pain. Hmm. Time to rest. I booked an appointment with a physiotherapist, thinking "If this is something, I want to get it worked out before my "A" race."

Honestly, I expected she could just give me a few strengthening moves, and would tell me I was fine to run easy. Nope. Turns out that my whole hip joint is tight and not moving properly. My L4 and L5 vertibrae are loose, and the hip seems to be tightened to protect this area. No running. No ultimate frisbee tournament. I was still somewhat optimistic that she'd clear me yesterday after having worked on my core strength for a few days. Nope. Not coming along very quickly at all.

My core and glutes are very weak. They don't engage while I walk or run or pretty much anything. So other muscles have taken up the slack, and seems to have caused this issue. For now, I'm only allowed to use the stationary bike, and walk for 10 minutes at a time and only if I make sure to engage my core and glutes.

I had to bail on the Rum Runners Relay race this weekend. I'm hoping to still be able to run the 5k race in the Valley on Thanksgiving weekend. I'm really hoping to be cleared to run my half marathon after that. However, goals are now changed. There are no more time goals. The goal is just to be allowed to get to the start and finish lines. Oh well. There is always next season for hitting those time goals. And, if I continue to build strength in my core and glutes, I'm sure I'll come back even faster. (Well, maybe not, but I can pretend!)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Australian August is Over, September Starts!

I spent August sipping on some Australian wines. I knew that would be an easy month for picking some yummy wines. I did attempt to buy new ones that I hadn't tried, and was fairly successful until the last week when I went with Wolfblass.

I stuck with mostly shiraz or shiraz cabernet blends. I tried a pinot noir as well. I really enjoyed the shiraz. I'd been on such a cab sauv kick lately that it was a nice switch to shiraz blends. I didn't really track them this time, though. I'm getting lazy. I know that will come back to bite me later when I'm looking for a good bottle of red from Australia, but I'm sure I'll work it out then.

So for September, I've decided to not pick a country. I'm going with small countries. I don't have to stick to one particular country, but can choose from any smaller region. I picked up a bottle of Wolftrap syrah last night from South Africa. It was a bit spicy for my taste, but not bad once I got a taste for it. I also picked up a bottle from Lebanon, but I haven't opened that yet.

If you have any suggestions for good reds from smaller countries, feel free to share. I want to tie in Germany and New Zealand as well, but find they are better for whites, and I really wanted to focus on reds this year.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

63 Days To Go (AKA 9 weeks!)

Lately, my long runs just haven't been very inspired. I've done 10k a few times, 12k a couple weeks ago, but I was starting to feel the pressure to get the distance up on my weekend runs. This week's schedule called for 12k, but since I have a 10k race next weekend, I decided to bump up the distance this week. So, the aim was to run 14k. 

I stayed in last night and tried to get a good night's rest. Didn't happen. I slept little and was tired and slightly dehydrated when I got up this morning. But, the sun was shining, so I decided to head out and see what happened. I set out with my iPod and some Gatorade and headed over the bridge. I ignored the pace and just ran. The goal was to run all the hills. I tackled the first one on the bridge, then even altered my route to get in a few more. Managed to get total ascent of about 537m, according to my garmin data. 

The first 8k felt great, but then at 8k, my legs started to tell me that they were tired. My pace was a little slower than I used to run my long runs (7:12 vs. 6:45ish that I used to run), but I actually enjoyed the run for the second time this week. It's been a while since I've really enjoyed my runs. I hope this is the start of a new trend. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Running? Isn't that supposed to be part of this blog?

I have been running fairly consistently, but I haven't been blogging about it, at all. Partially, that is because I am a part of a running forum and I aim to write about my running there. But, I haven't been writing about it there, either. I'm feeling a little unmotivated about my runs lately, and that needs to change. I have some pretty lofty goals in the next few months, including a 27:xx 5k race in October, a 57:xx 10k race NEXT WEEK (!) and a 2:05ish half marathon in October.

So why am I not more motivated???

I'm struggling to find that drive that I had in the spring when I was training for the Cabot Trail Relay Race. Back then, I was in the half marathon clinic at the Running Room, and while I am not really a true "group runner", I really found the clinic runs helpful. I ran with them on Sundays and Thursdays, and ran with Heart & Sole on Wednesdays for hill repeats. Now, I'm pretty well running on my own, and not sticking to a set schedule. I'm sort of following the same schedule that I did in the spring, but I am also playing ultimate frisbee which I am pretending is a speed/interval workout, which really it isn't.

Now my races are getting close, and I'm worried that I'm not doing enough to hit my goals. Now, I did run a 7:27 mile last weekend at the Bridge Mile, and that shocked the heck out of me. That should give me some confidence that I have more in my legs than I thought I did, but it just worries me that my stamina is not where it needs to be at this point in longer distances.

So here's what I'm hoping with this long winded blog update... Blogging about my runs is going to help me to get out there and get in those longer steady runs and longer weekend runs that I've been avoiding. Reminding myself of the good runs that I get in, and the good habits that I will reinstate will boost the confidence that I need to pull off those new personal bests in all distances. (I hope!)

Here is what I need to keep in mind when thinking of skipping a workout or just changing to an easy run. See that elevation profile? There's a HUGE hill about 6 miles into the race - about a 300 foot rise over a mile, or 100m in 1.6k. I do not want that hill to kick my butt. That's what I need to think of when I think I don't need to run hills.


With that in mind, I ran yesterday on my lunch break, and decided to tackle Citadel Hill. I only ran up once, but I ran it at a tempo pace, as I was running a tempo run. It was a great run (finally). I'm thinking of how I can start working in more hills on every run. I may not do "repeats", but I need to start making sure there are lots of hills in most of my runs. Not a problem, living in HRM.

Australia for August

Yum. This is going to be a yummy month. We're 11 days into August, and I've tried only 2 Australians so far. I'm getting really bad at blogging about the wines I'm tasting. I try to leave the bottles on the counter of the kitchen to remind myself to write about what I'm tasting, but then if I don't blog for a while, it looks like (a) I have a drinking problem as the bottles pile up, and (b) I'm starting a fruit fly farm. The bottles are all out for recycling now, so I have to try to remember.

I know I had shiraz. Two of them, actually. I've been enjoying so many cab sauv blends that I am really trying to get away from them this month and try some different varieties. I actually really enjoyed the shiraz. It was spicy, dry, and really yummy to drink without food. Eventually, I will remember the name of the companies that I tried, and then I will post those. I believe the second was a Peter Lehman. The first, I'll just have to look at the NSLC and I'm sure seeing the bottle will trigger my memory.

So I'll have to pick up something different this weekend. Any recommendations? I'm trying to stay away from cab sauv unless you have a name of a bottle that I need to try! What else is your favorite from Australia?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Nova 7

I finally tried Nova 7! I meant to for years, but there didn't seem to be an occasion that called for picking up a bottle, and I didn't want to splurge and buy a bottle to drink alone. But, since I'm tasting Canadian wines this month, I decided it was time to treat myself to a bottle.

After getting home from the movies Friday night, I cracked open the bottle, thinking a friend would join me. She was busy. Oh well, it was already open, and sparkling wine doesn't stay fizzy too long, so I attempted to take care of the whole bottle. It was a good effort.

The first two glasses were lovely. Sweet, tart, bubbly, tasty, everything I like in a sparkling wine. It tasted a lot like a bubbly muscat. I definitely enjoyed it. But I think a glass or two is my limit for sweet wines. I gave up after I realized I wasn't enjoying it anymore, and just hoped that the rest would be half decent the next day.

I drank the rest Saturday afternoon. It was flat, but still pretty tasty. I filled a wine glass with ice and it was a nice tasty treat.

Verdict - I'd buy it again, but definitely would make sure I had someone to share it with.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

NS and BC

I guess next I should really try to find an Ontario wine to try.

I picked up a bottle of Jost Leon Millot earlier this week. It's listed as a "gold medal winner". It was nice. It was a bit lighter than my usual taste of wines, but it was nice and I did enjoy it.

Then a friend came over for dinner and was nice enough to bring a bottle of Canadian as well. This one was from BC, from Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery in the Okanagan Valley. It is a Haynes Barn Merlot Cabernet. It was also nice. Spicy.

I'm not sure I'd buy either again, just because they are not my taste. I'm really starting to get a taste for what I like, and so far, Canadian wines just don't quite rank up there on my fave list. I should really try some whites. I will buy a bottle of Nova 7 this month since I STILL haven't tried it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Coast to Coast Canadian Wine

I'm enjoying Canadian wines for July so far. Actually, now that I'm writing this post, I realize I should get to the NSLC today and pick up another bottle for this week.

Anyway... So far, I've tried a bottle from NS and one from BC. NS wines are easily available here in Halifax, but other areas in Canada are available only in very limited supply. I couldn't find many of the recommended wines that friends from other areas suggested.

First up was Jost Marechal Foch. I'd had this one before, so really, I knew I'd like it. It's not as heavy as the reds I usually drink, but it has a nice flavor, almost tastes heavier than it really is. I really should have blogged while drinking it, or at least shortly after finishing the bottle. Right now, all I can say is that it is nice and somewhat light, but enjoyable. And it is a good price, around $15, I think.

Next, I went to Port of Wines to get some help. Friends had suggested a wine from Osoyoos Larose. The bottle they recommended was $47... I got what the sales lady described as the "baby" version of that wine ($25ish) - Petales d'Osoyoos. She described it as a bordeaux blend. It was very yummy. It was dry, tannic, and very full bodied (I think - if I am using the terms correctly). I really enjoyed it. I will get a bottle of that one again. Actually, it really made me want to take a trip to BC wine country.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Hunger Games and Sing You Home

I'm not going to bother writing much about the books I read anymore since I really suck at book reviews. But I'll still list them, and a quick "like" or "don't like"....

I finished "Sing You Home" by Jodi Picoult the other night. It was ok. The story was fine, but it just didn't grab me. I think I'm just "meh" about her writing. But if you like her books, I'm sure you'd like this one.

Then I read "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins. I LOVE young adult literature. Maybe I'm just immature, but I usually really enjoy the series books. The Hunger Games is a trilogy. The first one I listened to on my walks to/from work, then I couldn't wait in line for the audiobooks at the library - I had to get a copy right away. I finished the last book tonight. All I have to say is that I look forward to the movies!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Going Canadian for July

I dropped off my wine resolution for the month of June. I kind of lost the desire to pick a country and it was feeling like work. Tasting wine should never feel like work! So I took a breather. I just bought a bottle of whatever I wanted, when I wanted. And I did end up revisiting some of the wines that I discovered earlier this year.

At the start of July, I wondered if I would continue with my resolution, or revamp it somehow. Then I went to a BBQ at my friends' house on Saturday night. When I called to see what I could bring, R told me that I would get to taste a glass of their mystery wine. When I got there, she told me to pour a glass, and pointed to the bottle in the brown paper bag on the counter. Turns out, they pull a bottle from the basement every Saturday and drink it out of the paper bag, not revealing what the wine is until the bottle is empty. How fun! Now, for me, I only buy 1-2 bottles at a time, so that wouldn't be much of a surprise, but these guys buy many more than 1-2 at a time!

I sipped at my mystery wine and in my head, I thought "cab sauv". I didn't want to totally embarrass myself and say it out loud, so when I got home that night, I bbm'ed some friends and told them I thought it was a cab. I figured limiting to a cab instead of a cab sauv might give me a better chance of being right.  R emailed the next day to let me know what it was - a cab sauv from Chile. I was right!!!!

That moment solidified that I really have been enjoying my education in wine varieties and regions, and I decided it was time to pick another country and get going for July. R had suggested that since Canada Day had just passed, maybe I should try Canada. So, that's what I'm doing.

Please let me know what your favorite wines are from Canada! I know a few of the Nova Scotia companies, and may explore a few more here, but would be interested in trying some new ones from other provinces.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Happiness Project

.... by Gretchen Rubin

I'd heard of this book a few times, and eventually I decided I would like to read it. This is a book that chronicles one woman's year long quest to become happier. She admits that her life is pretty good. She lives in a nice apartment in NYC, has a loving husband, two beautiful children, and just felt that she wasn't nearly as happy as she should be given her situation.

She does lots of research on happiness and sets herself monthly resolutions from January to December. Each  month, she works at those particular resolutions. And I do mean that she works... Basically, over the course of the year, she realizes that happiness doesn't just happen. Happiness is a choice, and may take work. Some of us might find it easier than others, and sometimes when you think someone is happy, you may not know the whole story. But, essentially, you are the master of your own happiness.

I prefer reading chick lit, so sometimes I found the material a bit dry for my "before bed" reading.  It's not a reflection on the author, but of my interest. I don't usually care much for self-help or even non-fiction. But, I really liked the idea of it, and stuck with reading it and really enjoyed the thoughts it provoked in me.

Some of the main points that she mentioned that hit home for me were that she should BE Gretchen. In other words, if she was the type to easily get annoyed with things out of place, well that was ok. That's her. She can't control her natural reactions. However, she could control how she reacted and how she framed her response. There was a lot of focus (that I picked up on anyway) on choosing how to deal with things. For instance, there was a part where she told her daughter to brush her hair as it was always messy. Instead of snapping at her to go brush her hair, Gretchen decided to turn that moment into a positive one, and brushed her daughter's hair for her. The hair would still end up messy later, but they had a nice moment together.

One concept really stood out and that spending time with women (for both men and women) leads to less feelings of loneliness. Women like to talk, and by spending time together, it really feeds our need for intimacy and belonging. I thought back to times when I've felt lonely, and realized that this is true. Now, going forward, if I'm feeling lonely, I'll make a point to spend some time with one of my friends. Actually, I'm making more of an effort to do this all the time now. Things tend to get busy, and I put off a walk at lunch or a drink after work in favor of getting in a run, or getting errands done. Now I'll make a conscious effort to see my friends. Maybe I don't "need" that time right then to chat, but they might.

Another simple idea from the book is just the benefit of laughter and of laughing at yourself. It's ok to be silly and not take yourself so seriously, and if you can turn a tense moment into a moment of laughter, you'll be better off. I can think of many times in my past that this was the case. Particularly, I remember my grandmother's wake when I was a teenager. Of course, we were all sad. Then my uncle bent down at her casket, and RRRRRIIIIIPPPPP! The seam split in his pants. He could have been upset, or angry, etc. He laughed, and the rest of us did too. That was one of the best mood altering laughing moments in my life.

Anyway, after reading this book, I am more aware of ways that I can reframe things to bring more happiness into my days. There is already a lot of happiness, but I think everyone can use more.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer Running...

I've been pretty slack with updating my blog with run details. Mainly, this is because I've been pretty slack about running in the last month. It'll be four weeks this Sunday since I raced at the Cabot Trail Relay. Since then, I took a few days off running, then got a cold and was forced to take a week or so off running. Then I started to enjoy the break.

I've run a grand total of about 30k so far in June. That's kind of hard to admit as I usually aim to have at least 100k a month, and that's pretty low compared to most of my running friends. Part of me really wants to make sure I get to at least 50k this month. The other part of me doesn't really care at all.

My next "A" race is in October. I'll be racing a hilly half, and I want to run it in under 2:05. That will be a tough, but achievable, goal for me. But it's going to take training. And training was supposed to start last week... I'm not feeling motivated. While I love running, I'm tired of training. Or, maybe I'm just plain TIRED.

Since I stopped training, I started getting back into other stuff that I love. I have been walking, a lot. Instead of taking transit to work, I've been walking the 5k each way most days. So far, I'm over 120k of walking this month. I've been hiking - I finally got back to hike Cape Split. I've been playing ultimate frisbee again, and actually having enough left in my legs when the game starts to put in some good effort. And, I'm getting back into strength training and yoga.

While I haven't been running much, I've been having a lot of fun with the other activities. My legs are tired. The walk this morning, following the ultimate game last night, found me with legs that felt leaden. The thought now of running is unfathomable. My legs would have nothing left in them for a run, even an easy run.

So here's my dilemma. How do I do it all? I'm really enjoying the change in routine and loving all the things I would have to categorize as "cross training" in my running log. But I really want to PB in the 5k, 10k, and half this summer and fall. What can I keep, and what do I get rid of? Maybe I WILL have to switch out some of my walking for running instead. I really do enjoy the walking more than run commuting or transit, though. Maybe instead of trying to add in strength work, I can focus on yoga instead. Yoga will strengthen and stretch. Ultimate is staying because I love it, and it's a good substitute for speed work and sprinting - at least that's what I'll tell myself.

Hopefully I can make it all work this summer.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Wave

The wave is an interesting thing. It is one of the first things little kids learn how to do. "Wave bye-bye!" It warms your heart to see a little wave bye-bye to you. Or wave hello to you. Heck, little kids - toddlers - seem to wave to strangers! I love it! It is so cute, and always makes me smile when a little kid waves to me.

When I started running, I felt like a bit of a poser. I didn't wave to other runners. Why would I? I wasn't a real runner! Then, once I started to feel like a real runner (oh, somewhere after my first half marathon), I would feel comfortable enough calling myself a runner and started to wave to other runners. Now, I attempt to make eye contact with every runner I pass. I'd guess that about half of them look back at me. Maybe more often on Sundays. I tend to nod, or say hi, or just wave. It makes me feel like part of a little club of like minded people when another runner acknowledges me and gives me a bit of a wave.

I've been a runner now for about seven years. and I've kind of gotten used to the runner wave. The novelty had worn off. That is, until I bought my Vespa a few weeks ago.

Now, I ride a Vespa. And, technically, a Vespa IS a motorcycle. I don't FEEL like a motorcycle driver, even though I have a motorcycle license, drive a two wheeled vehicle, and wear a helmet and other safety gear. But, most motorcycle drivers - even those that drive those huge beasts of motorcycles - wave to me. To ME! At first, I assumed there was a big bike behind me. But nope, there wasn't. It took me a few weeks to get down how to wave while driving. Tonight, I drove to the mall, and then to the grocery store, and every motorcycle driver I passed waved or nodded to me. I feel so included in this new club! It's great! It's amazing how that little piece of acknowledgement makes a newbie feel included and welcome.

I'd been thinking about this the last few weeks. I've been making more of an effort to pay attention to the other runners I pass. Today, I ran on my lunch break, downtown Halifax. It was a lovely sunny day. There were a few runners out there that I passed. I waved and said hello to every one of them. Only one of them waved back. But, maybe one of the ones who didn't was a new runner, and maybe they felt included in this little group by my wave.

Amazing what one little gesture can do to make someone feel included.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Art of Racing in The Rain

... by Garth Stein.

Do you have a dog? Have you ever wondered what they are thinking about? Well, then this is the book for you. This book is narrated by Enzo, a dog. The first chapter is at the end of Enzo's life, where he's just hoping his owner, Denny, will do the right thing and take him to the vet for the last time.

I think this is the first time I've ever cried in the first chapter of a book. I actually thought about not reading it. It was way too much for me. I switched books to another book for a while, then decided to try another chapter of this one. Thank goodness, it went back to when Enzo was a puppy. That was much better to read, and way more fun!

The book is well written, and at times, I forgot I was reading about a dog. When I think of narration by a dog, I think of the clip on America's Funniest Home Videos where the dog is "pushing a rock, pushing a rock, pushing a rock......" This narration made Enzo a person who was in a dog's body, who couldn't communicate his needs in words because he had a floppy tongue. He couldn't get things ready for himself (i.e. food) because he didn't have thumbs. Other than that, he was intelligent, caring, emotional, and any other characteristic you'd attribute to a human.

The story follows Enzo's life with Denny, a wanna-be race car driver. Denny then meets Eve, and they marry, and then Zoe comes into their lives. The relationship shift between Enzo and Eve was really sweet to read about. Eve starts out as the person who is stealing his master's attention, and he doesn't want to like her. Then he realizes she's important to Denny, and he can whine and sook about it, or make the best of it.

By the end of the story, we all know what is coming. It doesn't make it any less sad to read. I cried many times throughout this book, but I laughed and smiled just as many.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Break from my Resoltion

I'm taking a break from my wine resolution right now. Partially because I didn't know which country to pick this month, and partially because I'm trying to not spend money on frivolous things for a while. (See, I just bought a Vespa and would really like to get my debt paid off ASAP...)

So, that means, for the month of June, I can buy whatever wine I want.

I was at a race last month, and asked someone on my team to just pick me up a bottle of red, whatever she felt like. I gave her $20. She got me a bottle of Wolfblass something or other. It was a cab sauv blend, and it was GOOD. It was something I wouldn't have normally picked up with my resolution since I was trying to try NEW brands. Well, new to me. But it was good. Have I mentioned that it was good?

After that, I picked up a bottle - a cab sauv - from South Africa. I thought maybe South Africa would be my country for June. It wasn't good. So, I decided I was going to just buy whatever bottle I want, when I want it, in June. See, the sun is out (sometimes) and I don't always feel like wine. Sometimes in June, I just want a beer after work. And picking wines for my resolution was starting to feel like work. Whenever wine feels like work, that's just wrong...

On Friday, I decided I wanted to get a nice bottle of wine for the weekend. I stopped at the little NSLC at the ferry, and wanted to get a bottle of that Chilean Trio that I'd had in the winter. I'd loved it so much. So, I picked up a bottle and opened it Friday night. On the first sip, I thought "huh, this isn't nearly as good as I remember." I had another glass last night, two, actually, and enjoyed it a bit more, but wondered if I actually got the wrong bottle.

So, in my post from February, I wrote about the Concha Y Toro Trio Reserva Cab Sauv, Shiraz, Cab Franc, 2008. And, looking at the (empty) bottle on my table, I have the Concha Y Toro Trio Reserva MERLOT, Carmenere, Cab Sauv. Ding ding ding!!! That's why it isn't as good as I remembered! It's not the same wine! Yep, sticking with my opinion of merlots... Not my fave. Though this wine is not bad. Just not as fruity as I like. 



Tuesday, June 7, 2011

29 Gifts & The Solitude of Prime Numbers

Two more books read.

I finished listening to 29 Gifts by Cami Walker a few weeks ago now, it seems like. It was an interesting listen. It is written by a woman who was depressed, and inspired to start giving daily gifts for, you guessed it, 29 days. Her gifts could be as small as a compliment to a stranger, or as large as she wanted them to be. If she missed a day of giving, she'd have to go back to start at day one again.

When she started this "adventure", she was noticing how much her body was failing her due to the onset of MS. She could only work for a few hours a day, and a walk to the neighbourhood store was a big struggle. Through the twenty-nine days, I got to observe her becoming a stronger, happier person - in part because of the gifts she was giving.

I found this book interesting as I'd already heard of the concept, but hadn't realized it. When I read The Brightest Star in the Sky back in February, one of the characters (and his girlfriend) were participating in the gift challenge. There is a web site devoted to this concept in which people sign up and write about their gifting. It's quite interesting. It has made me think about it, just to get more involved with people on a day to day basis. I find I'm quite wrapped up in my own world a lot of the time and maybe this would be a way to get outside of it a bit. We'll see.

The second book I finished was The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paulo Giardano. As I just googled this to find out the author's name, I discovered that this was made into a movie in 2010 with Isabella Rosalini. Interesting. I won't be watching it as it is Italian. But back to the book...

The story follows two main characters - Alice and Mattia. Alice is an only child who is pushed into skiing by her father. She doesn't like skiing, and doesn't seem to fit in with the kids right from the start. She ends up in a bad accident that leaves her with scars and a permanent limp, all this before she even hit puberty. Mattia is a twin, and his sister is challenged. Because of her, he is not really included by the kids at school. One day, someone invites him and his sister to a party. He convinces her to wait on a bench for him while he goes to the party, and she is never seen again. Needless to say, this childhood event scars Mattia.

As teenagers, Alice and Mattia meet, and become, well, almost close friends. Neither is really at the point where they can be "friends" and trust each other, but they become a large part of each others' lives. The story continues on as they grow up and grow apart.

I really enjoyed the first chapters of this book, but as it went on, I didn't like it as much. I think it reminded me too much of how mean teens can be. It was a bit tough to read about it, especially since I have teenage nieces who have had struggles with the girls at school. All in all, it was an enjoyable read, even if it did bring up all those insecurities of high school again.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Quest to Hit the Mats

BACKGROUND
Cabot Trail weekend is always fun. Since the timing mats need to be moved from one leg to the next, you have approximately 6:00 per kilometer to get an official time before the truck leaves, at which point you get a "DNF" time, which is counted as the last person's time + 5 minutes. This would be my 5th time running, and I wanted to hit the mats for the first time. 

I've been training since January for this race. I've gotten to be a lot stronger since I did CTRR 2 years ago. I co-captained my team again this year, and wanted to get my leg done early so I could enjoy the rest of the weekend with my team. I did. GREAT weekend. So proud of my team. The old faithfuls were great to catch up with, and the new runners to the team became new friends. 

RACE DAY
This year, I chose Leg 1 - 3.5/5 difficulty, 17km. Goal time was 1:42, whisper goal was 1:40 (which is when the next leg started). My splits tell the story.... 

1- 5:20 - nice downhill on the start, oh sh!t, I hope that doesn't come back to bite me. 
2- 5:36 - comfortable pace, keeping up with a few people in the group.
3- 5:55 - slow down a bit, that's more like it.
4- 6:03 
5- 5:32 
6- 6:16
7- 6:03 - gel/walk break
8- 7:10 - What the what???? This hill does NOT end. Pain starts in my hip, glute, and hangs the rest of the race
9- 5:41 - that's better
10- 5:43
11- 5:59
12- 6:50 - hmmm, getting tired. Walked a bit extra, tried to stretch out the pain in my glute
13- 5:54 - gel break
14- 6:10
15- 6:50 - mentally broken, walk break, not going to hit the mats, upset, walk to catch my breath
16- 6:23 - defeated and crushed that I wasn't going to make it, but going to try
17- 5:27 - tough km, I was back, and not giving up - too bad this didn't happen a little earlier.... 

Totals 1:43:17 for 17.08k, 6:03 pace. Official time 1:43:29, pace 6:06. 

Yes, OFFICIAL TIME! The mats were pulled up, but the truck was still there. I got the last official time on the leg. The rest got my time +5! The timing guy, as I raced in the finish area put his hand on my shoulder, and said "Don't worry, I got you." I missed my goal time, but, I improved a lot. 

So, I am half happy. I got an official time, but I still didn't cross the mats. Overall, I'm pleased as this was a bit tougher of a leg. The hills, other than that one LONG one, didn't bother me. The training paid off. I'll keep working on mental toughness, and I WILL get the mats one of these times.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal

... by Conor Grennan...

This was a lovely book. It is a true story that reads just like a fictional novel. A lot of times, I find non-fiction a little boring, but not this book. The story starts off with Conor's year long trip around the world. To start off his trip, he decides to volunteer at an orphanage in Nepal, mainly to be able to say he did it. He wasn't a huge fan of children, or really moved to volunteer at the orphanage, but thought it was the thing to do.

He gets to the Little Princes (this is the name of the orphanage) and the kids, mainly boys, tackle him - literally. Within the first moments of being at Little Princes, he feels at home and starts to really fall in love with the kids and the life with the kids. He works closely with another volunteer, Farid.

Nepal is in political turmoil, and Conor starts to discover that these orphans may not actually be orphans.

Conor leaves after his three months are over, and he continues on with his travels. He has a great time on vacation, and returns to the US after the year is up. But he can't stop thinking of the Little Princes. He goes back over to Nepal to further his work with the lost children.

This was a lovely story and I really enjoyed reading about the children Conor met, and his struggles to find their families, and his realizations that life in Nepal is so different from what he was used to. I haven't checked yet to see if there is a follow-up to this book, but I would really love to read more.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Running on the rock

Last week's runs were ok. I took an extra rest day on Tuesday as I was really tired and irritable, and it was pouring. I've been tired for a while, so when I got home from work, had a snack, and immediately fell asleep on the couch, I figured I needed the rest.

I finished the week with all intentions of running 20k in the morning on Sunday, but then on Friday I found out I was heading to Newfoundland on Sunday morning. So, no morning run. That's a bit bad since I have a early leg of the Cabot Trail Relay. So now I'll have to make sure I make a real effort to run first thing in the morning to get used to it again.

The stats:
Wednesday - 4 hill repeats, total distance 7.3k, 6:08 average pace
Thursday - 9k with 8k at tempo, avg pace of 5:56
Friday - 4.3k easy, (though it was not easy, tired legs after the night before) 6:50 average pace
Sunday - 20k, including a walk up Signal Hill in St. John's, average pace 7:09

The legs are definitely tired, and the paces are showing it. Should be an interesting week this week. Next week will be a bit of a taper/rest week.

Friday, May 13, 2011

California Wine Fair

I scored some cheap tickets to the California Wine Fair last night for myself and two friends. Well, another friend scored them for us, then couldn't go, and I'm sad she didn't get to come with us. But, cheap tickets were still scored, and three of us got to drink a lot of yummy wine for only $25. 

I'd never been to a wine fair before, so it was pretty overwhelming. So many wines, and no idea where to start! For the first hour or so, my friends and I just wandered from table to table. We had a few companies that we knew of, and made sure to hit them. Then after an hour, I sent a message to my friend who knows her wines, and she looked up who was there and told us which ones not to miss. She was such a help! The booths didn't list the price of the wines, so it was hard to tell which ones were the "good" ones without a little help from my friend. 

So this is what I tried, and in parenthesis are any notes I made while trying (very short notes!): 

  • Anders-Lane Artisan
    • Estrada Creek, Syrah, 2007, California
    • Estrada Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008, California (ok)
  • Bonterra
    • Syrah, 2008, Mendocino (ok)
  • Cline Cellars
    • Pinot Noir not listed in the booklet (yum!)
    • Oakley, Red Blend, 2009, California (good for summer sipping)
  • Firestone Discoveries
    • Merlot, 2007, California (good for a merlot)
    • Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007, California (yum!)
  • Hess Collection Winery
    • Allomi Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon Blend, 2008, Napa Valley
    • Hess Select, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008, Mendocino-Lake-Napa
  • Ironstone Vineyards
    • Old Vine Zinfandel, 2009, Lodi (good)
  • J. Lohr Winery
    • Falcon's Perch, Pinot Noir, 2009, Monterey
    • Vineyard Series, Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007, Paso Robles (yum!)
    • Petit Syrah not listed in the booklet
  • Kenwood Vineyards
    • Zinfandel, 2007, Sonoma County (yum)
  • Michael David Winery
    • Petit Syrah not listed in the booklet
    • 7 Deadly Zins, Zinfandel, 2008, Lodi (already knew I liked this one a lot!)
    • Earthquake, Zinfandel, 2008, Lodi (thick/full, yum!)
  • Rutherford Wine Co.
    • Rutherford Ranch, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008, Napa Valley
  • Tamas Estates
    • Zinfandel, 2008, Central Coast
  • Trinchero Family Vineyards
    • Napa Cellars, Zinfandel, 2008, Napa (ok)
    • The Show, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007, California (light, smooth, good)
Wow. Now that I write them all down, I see  that I tasted a LOT of wines last night in a two hour period. Mind you, they poured just a tiny bit, maybe two mouthfuls, but I'd only sip at it, then dump it out. How many glasses of wine does 21 sips work out to being anyway? Haha. 

I discovered that of California wines, I like the zins and the cabernets. The syrahs, pinot noirs, and merlots didn't really do much for me, and I really stayed away from them anyway. I was really surprised with how much I liked the Firestone wines because all I could picture was Andrew Firestone from The Bachelor, and really didn't expect to like the wine! 


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Two weeks until Cabot Trail, then what?

Then end is in sight! Week 14 went a lot better than 13. The first few runs started out pretty tough, but by the end of the week, I felt like I was back on track to where I was before vacation.

Tuesday - 6k tempo, average pace 5:46
Wednesday - 6k run with 3 hill repeats, average pace 6:10
Thursday - 8k easy with my clinic, average pace 6:23 (This was the first run that felt "easy")
Sunday - 18k - first 11k run with a friend, last 7k on my own, average pace 6:46

I can see the race on the horizon now. I just need to stick with the program for another few weeks. I skipped a run last night. I was too tired, and frankly, I didn't want to go out in the rain.

I'm looking forward to this training cycle being over. As much as I've enjoyed the running, I am going to enjoy not having to run long every weekend, and getting back to the gym for spinning, strength work, yoga, and whatever else.

However, I still have that pesky 27/57/125 goal that I've done nothing about. I'm trying to figure out which races to run when. I don't want to waste my half training without running a half, and am pondering running the half at Johnny Miles to get that 2:05 half ticked off the list. But, I'm already registered for a half in the fall, so I could just do the half then. When will I do the 5k (27 min) and 10k (57 min) races? Maybe Lunenburg for the 5k, and Navy 10k in August?

Who knows.... I'll figure that out in June.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Forgotten Garden

... by Kate Morton.

I have a bad habit of picking a book by the cover. I was looking for something to get for my trip to Hawaii, and the cover of this one looked interesting as I was browsing at Coles one day at lunch. It was just a pretty, country scene with a brick house and a fence, and lots of greenery. Then I read the back, and thought "I should remember this one to buy later."

The story has a few main characters at the start, and it took me a while to figure out who was who. Each chapter has the year it is being told in, but I didn't look at that from the start. The main characters are Eliza, Nell, and Cassandra. Eliza's story is the one furthest in the past. She is a child, living with her twin brother, working for a living after their parents have gone (died, I think, though I now forget). Eliza's story is one of sadness, but yet with a spirit so strong that you can't help but smile when her character is telling her stories.

Nell's story starts as a four year old who arrives on a ship to Australia alone, and doesn't know who she is or where her family is. She is adopted by a family who finds her, and actually grows up repressing her first four years. When she is an adult, her parents tell her that they are not her biological parents, and she feels misplaced and goes off on her own, away from the family she's known since she was four.

Cassandra is Nell's adult granddaughter. After Nell passes away, Cassandra needs to figure out the secrets that her grandmother had kept inside as long as Cassandra had known her. This story was really quite lovely. Three different women, all searching for the place where they belong. All in different generations. All searching for the same things, but searching alone.

Monday, May 9, 2011

I've been slack on my resolution

Not a single post on Spanish wines in April. I apologize. I didn't even write down which ones I tried after the first post in March. I was away for two weeks, in Hawaii, and while we did get one Spanish wine, we got into a Californian zone for a bit there.

All I can really say about Spanish wines is that I tried the tempranillos, and I liked them.

I'm onto Italy right now, and have already recycled two of the bottles without writing down what they were. I'm not loving Italy. I suspected I wouldn't as I have heard it is similar in France as to being a good wine to go along with food. I like my wine to be a good drinking wine without food. I don't really drink wine with food. I like a glass, on its own, while I relax at night.

The first Italian I had was a chianti. While it was definitely drinkable and nice enough, it just wasn't my taste. The second was a valpolicelli. I knew I'd like it. And it was fine.

I'm not even halfway through my resolution year, and I'm getting tired of it. I have learned a lot already, though, and will continue to truck on through the year.

Lured in by kids' books

I got the audiobook of The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephanie Meyer from the digital library last week. The book was only 4 hours start to finish. It was amusing.

If you've read the Twilight books, you'll remember Bree from the fight scene where the Cullens have a newborn surrender to them. Bree is that newborn. The book starts when she is about 3 months old (as a vampire) and is just a nice little story about a vampire that you can't help but like. You already know how it is going to end.

There's not really a lot to say about it. If you like Twilight, consider reading it. If you don't, don't bother as you won't like this either.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Less than 4 weeks to go, starting to freak out

I did a 16.3k walk/run this past Sunday. It was bad. It was that bad run that you have that makes you question what you're doing. I just got the email from my half clinic leader, and next week is the start of the taper. My confidence is gone. While I know somewhere in my head that I didn't lose all my fitness by skipping last week's runs, I'm not confident in the ability to keep up this week. My clinic is ahead of me. But, they are running a half marathon on the 22nd. I'm running a 17k race on the 28th. So, I have time. 

This week, I'll run my 6k tempo tonight. I have my stuff to run home from work, but may choose to go home first and run it on a relatively flat road instead of the hilly run home, and without a backpack, to get the confidence back up. Tomorrow I have 3*1 mile repeats. My clinic is doing 1km repeats instead, so I think I'll join them for the motivation. Then it's a 8k "easy" run Thursday night, which is always run a bit too fast with my clinic. I'm just going to pray I can keep up with them. Sunday, I won't run the 20km with them. I'll run with my friend who is visiting from Toronto (yay!) for 10-12k and hopefully tack on a few more km after on my own. I should be back on track by the end of this week, and then I can do that 20km on my own the following weekend, just to feel better in my mind. 

Breathe.... A week off, and a week of shortened runs on vacation doesn't ruin the efforts of January-mid April. I want to hit the mats on my race so badly. I can do it. I can do it. I WILL do it. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Training Weeks 12 & 13

These weeks were a bit compressed due to vacation. I didn't get in all my scheduled runs, but I did run while away in Hawaii.

Week 12
Monday - 5k tempo on the treadmill (yuck) at 5:47 pace
Tuesday - 7k easy at 6:17 pace
Wednesday - 9k with 8 hills
Sunday - 10k LSD (in Honolulu) at 7:26 pace

Total of 31k.

So the heat really sucked the energy out of me. We ended up walking a lot, and this run was partially up Diamond Head.

Week 13
Tuesday - 5k tempo in Kona, 5:45 pace - that one was TOUGH!
Wednesday - 6k, 6:43 pace
Thursday - 5k, 7:06 pace
Saturday - back in Honolulu, 13.5k including a 1.5 mile hike up and then back down Diamond Head crater.

Total of 29.5k.

So far this week, I haven't run one step. That's ok. I am really jet lagged, and traveled for a full day. I'm going to take this time to relax and will start back in this Sunday with my 18k LSD. It will be tough, but I'll do it and get back on schedule for next week.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Week 11

This week's training was good and bad. Not bad, really, but tired. I started the week with tired legs. Tuesday, I started off with a 5k tempo run before work. Wednesday, I ran with a new friend, and did 7 hills, for a total of 8.5k. Thursday was an easy 7k run with my clinic. Since I have plans tomorrow morning, I decided to do my long run today instead. It was tough. I ran alone, and in the afternoon in the lovely spring sunshine. Capris and a long sleeved shirt was too warm. My time was about 20 seconds slower per km than normal, but didn't feel slower.

Tuesday - 5k 5:45 pace
Wednesday - 7 hills, 8.5k, 7:38 pace (ran with a slower friend, and ran her pace)
Thursday - 7k 6:17 pace
Sunday - 16k 7:06 pace

I'm looking forward to my first Sunday rest day in months! This week was 36.5k in four runs. Next week, thankfully, is a cut back week.

Water for Elephants

... by Sara Gruen

First of all, I had no idea until yesterday that this was being made into a movie. I am interested to watch it now, though I'm sure I won't like it as much as the book. I didn't picture Jacob looking like Edward from Twilight, nor Marlena as a blond (played by Reese Witherspoon in the movie). I listened to this book as an audio book. I loved it. I had a hard time listening to a lot of it. It's an emotional book, and there is some graphic animal abuse that really bothered me to listen to.

This story is about a young man, just finishing vet school when he learns that both his parents were killed in a car accident. He doesn't sit his final exams, and doesn't graduate from school. Instead, he hops a train, and it is a circus train. The story is told from the perspective of young Jacob (in his 20s) and old Jacob who is 90, or 93, he can't remember. I LOVED the old Jacob parts, though I did choke up a few times while listening to him. Not so much fun when you're in the middle of a run!

You know that old Jacob has lost his wife, and his kids can't take care of him, so they put him in a home. He is mentally fine, just in an old man's body, and turns into a bit of a crotchedy old guy. He connects with one of the nurses at the home, and that relationship is quite touching. He recalls his past life some 70 years ago once a circus sets up in the lot next to the nursing home.

I just really enjoyed this one. Again, I don't want to give much away as I think you should all read it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

After

... by Amy Efaw

I ditched another book I was reading (and likely won't finish) to start After. I was hooked on the book within the first chapter. This book's main character is Devon Davonport. Blessed with the name of a stripper or soap star, Devon (middle name Sky, for "the sky is the limit") is determined to be nothing like her mother, Jennifer. Jennifer was a teen mom, having Devon when she was 16, and had an endless parade of men walking in and out of their lives for as long as Devon could remember. Scarred by the memories of walking in on her mother and numerous short term relationships, Devon is determined to be a strong, independent woman.

Devon is a soccer star, a straight A student, a hard worker. She's also the dependable one in her small family of just her and her mom. Devon hasn't known any other family other than her mom, and has memories of being a child and having her mom leave her alone for a whole weekend.

But then IT happens. The book is written with a balance of the present, and memories of the past. When we actually meet the characters, Devon is home sick from school as her mom gets home from working her graveyard shift at the grocery store. Jennifer is pleased to get to spend the day with Devon. Devon seems to be in a bit of a trance, not talking to her mother. Then the police arrive. Seems someone has found a newborn baby (still alive) in the garbage can out in the back alley. Jennifer tells them her 15 year old daughter is home from school and may have heard something, so they come in to talk to her.

Devon doesn't want to talk to the police. In the process of trying to get her to talk, Jennifer takes the blanket off Devon and they see her sweatpants are covered in blood. Devon passes out and wakes up in the hospital. Then she gets carted off to jail.

The character development is fantastic. You have a main character who ditched her newborn in the garbage can, but you empathize with her. You want her to get help, and to be able to rise above this terrible situation. It's a sad book that looks at some harder sides of life. But it is also somewhat uplifting. I really enjoyed it.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Training, Week 10!

Another week done... 

Monday - rest

Tuesday - 4k tempo in 22:30 for 5:37 pace
Wednesday - 10k including 6*500m hill repeats, 6:23 pace
Thursday - 6k easy, 6:30 pace. This did not feel easy though, my legs were really tired from Tuesday and Wednesday. 
Friday - rest

Saturday - unplanned rest. Saturdays are my "play it by ear" day. If I'm tired, I take an extra rest day instead of an extra easy run. 
Sunday - 16k LSD, 6:48 pace. This did not feel easy either. I ran the first 4.5k alone to meet my clinic, then ran with them, and I really should have stuck with the 2:15 pace group, not the 2:00. But, the 2:00 leader saw me and said "are you running with us?" and I said "yep". I did run at the back of the pack, though, and backed off when they were going too fast. I'd always catch them on the walk breaks. Left them just as my garmin was at 15k and ran the last km alone. I am very pleased to say that I ran Maple Street! And, at the 14k point of my run. 

So that was 36k done in 4 runs. No wonder I am tired today. Actually, I made a better effort at hydrating and refueling today, so I don't feel as bad as I have other Sundays. I also let myself take a nice little nap after my second breakfast. 



Bring on week #11. 

Secret Daughter

... by Shilpi Somaya Gowda.

I started reading this one the other night and couldn't put it down. That was a nice change from the other book that I'm still in the middle of reading. It's a story about a girl, Asha, who was adopted from India. The story follows her life, and the lives of both her biological parents and her adoptive parents. Coming from my family, I find the adoption stories interesting.

Kavita and Jasu are her birth parents. They come from a small village in India, and cannot afford to keep a daughter. Asha, or Usha as Kavita called her, was the second daughter that Kavita gave birth to. The first was killed moments after her birth. Kavita cannot live with that horror again, so arranges with her sister to take this one to an orphanage, and tell Jasu that she died in the middle of the night. A year later, Kavita gives birth to a boy, Vijay, and Jasu is overjoyed. The family struggles a lot throughout the next twenty years.

Somer and Krishnan are the adoptive parents. Krishnan, or Kris, is from Bombay and went to the US for medical school, where he met Somer. He had intended on coming home to India to practice with his father, but he chose to stay in the states and start a life with Somer. When they discover that they cannot get pregnant, Kris convinces Somer to adopt a baby girl in India, and they travel over to pick up their new daughter.

Asha grows up, and you see the struggle that she has with feeling like she belongs, and is accepted. She fights with her mom, like a lot of teenage girls do, and feels the need to learn more about India and that part of her history. She moves to India for a year and lives with her paternal grandparents, and searches out her birth family.

I really liked the way they poked around the relationships in this story. I felt that some of it was obviously glossed over, but they got into some real issues that I could identify with. Everything wasn't happy, but it seems that people finally accepted what they were given in life, and learned to be thankful for what they have.

Friday, April 1, 2011

It's happened....

... I'm noticing the withdrawal from my "sites" for Lent. 

I gave up my three most frequented sites for Lent (though I am still allowed to log in on Sundays). The first few weeks were pretty easy, other than the habit of typing in the web address and getting to the log in screen and realizing what I'd done. Luckily, I had logged out, so I didn't break my fast. 

But I have to confess... A few times, I've gone to two of the sites and browsed without logging in. I have felt disconnected from some of the people that I've talked to only online for so long. Today, I want to log in. I won't. And I will make more of an effort to not "browse", which really is cheating. 

Only three more weeks.... 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Busy Wednesday

Reading - Finished my audio book that I'd been listening to - The Lilac Bus by Maeve Binchy. The book is about all the people who take the "lilac bus" every weekend from Dublin to a small town of Rathdune. (Excuse my spelling as when you're listening to the audio book instead of reading, you don't get the spellings!) Each chapter was about a different character. It was a good book, but I like a little more info about the characters! To me, I need good character development to really love a book. With this one, I wanted more of each character. I know that she often has characters that recur in different stories, and maybe if I read more about these characters in another book, I'd be content. I know that has happened with other books of hers that I've read in the past. But it was interesting.

I've got a lot of reading to do in the next while. Quite a few books came in from the library recently: One Day,  Secret Daughter, After, The Social Animal, and Water for Elephants. All with a three week expiry. Water for Elephants is an audio book, so I'll listen to that on commutes and get that taken care of, but I'm feeling a little overwhelmed with the other ebooks! I hope I get them all read.

Running - Great hill workout tonight! Six hills. Total of 10k. Not bad for a Wednesday.

Resolutions - I picked up a bottle of Spanish wine a few days ago at Port of Wines. I got a bottle of Hoya de Cadenas which is a tempranillo cab sauv blend. I'm still not any better at picking out flavors. It's a nice dark red/purple. It smells fruity and sweet. It has a nice, full flavor, thick, long aftertaste. Maybe it tastes like cherrys? I like it. The first night I had a glass, I thought it was ok. Tonight, I am really enjoying it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Interesting Food Issues...

I'm back at the office today, still not feeling great. I'm queasy and have a terrible headache, and my eyes are burning. But, I'm here. My office mate said she could test me for other food issues with this fancy test. We tried all the food I brought with me to eat today - oatmeal, half a PB&J sandwich, chicken and broccoli casserole, and the fruit in my fruit bowl.

It was an energy test, and it was surprisingly easy to see what might bother me... I'd hold up my arm, and she'd try to push it down. Then I'd hold the food in my other arm, and she'd try to push down my arm. Oatmeal is a big no-no - I couldn't hold my arm up while holding the oatmeal. I guess I knew that. I can't eat oatmeal raisin cookies or I get a stomach ache. The cooked oatmeal hadn't been bothering me, though, but I'm not about to chance it right now. The bananas are a bit troubling, but not too bad. I <3 bananas, I don't want them to hurt me! Pears are fine. My casserole is fine. Lara bars are fine. My PB&J is fine.

I'm going to become a weirdo at the salad bars from now on. "Here, push my arm while I try this veggie. Nope, can't eat that one. What about this?"

One other lesson learned today... If you reheat your tea in a Tim Horton's cup in the microwave for 40 seconds, it will start smoking and burn the cup....

Monday, March 28, 2011

Death by...... Carrots?

This is neither running, reading, or resolution related, but I felt I should share my new found knowledge as a public service announcement...

The last few weeks, I've been having a lot of stomach aches. I get to the point where I think it is the norovirus, and just wait for the hurling to begin. It doesn't progress to that. I get terrible stomach pains, to the point that I'm sweating and doubled over in pain, and then it goes away about five hours later. Yes, five. Sometimes longer.

After staying home sick from work on two days, two different weeks because of the pain the night before, I just assumed it was that nasty bug everyone had been talking about. Then it hit me Friday at work, just after I ate my soup at lunch. At this point, I knew it was likely something I was eating, but I couldn't trace it. I'd eaten stew for lunch that I made myself, and other bowls of the same batch of stew didn't bother me. I sat at my desk, in pain, all afternoon and finally, by 6:00, I felt ok. Must have been something in the stew... What did I do differently? Cilantro this time, more ginger. That's it. Maybe it was the cilantro?

I was talking to my mom on the weekend about this, since we tend to have sensitivities to the same foods. "No, I don't think anything in that soup would bother you," she said, "what else did you eat before the soup?" Well, just carrots... And I don't think those would bother me. I've been eating carrots my whole life with no issues. My mom said she doesn't eat raw carrots as they make her cough. Huh.I did also eat carrots last Tuesday, in the afternoon, and then my stomach ache started on my way home from work. I told my mom how I was really loving the organic carrots cut up as a snack. They were so tasty and crunchy! Up until recently, I didn't realize how good carrots could be. I was eating those little baby carrots, which really don't have much flavor. So I'd eat a couple, here and there. But I didn't really care that much for them. Once I started getting them in my veggie box, I realized how yummy they are.

So last night, I'm making today's lunch and I start peeling carrots. I cut up enough for two days worth of snacks at work (about six small organic carrots), and ate a couple pieces while I was cutting them. Nope, no pain. I knew it wasn't the carrots.

At work this morning, I was feeling a bit hungry, so I grabbed my carrots. I usually eat them in the afternoon, but skipped the grocery store this weekend and didn't have a morning snack and would get an afternoon snack while out at lunch. I munched away on the large container of carrots as I was working, and next thing I know, they were all gone. Ah, they're good for you. It's a good way to avoid snacking on junk, to eat veggies! About a half hour, forty-five minutes later, I heated up my soup for lunch. On the first spoonful, I started feeling those familiar pains starting again... But this is a different soup! This isn't that same stew with the cilantro! This is my old faithful (homemade by me) squash soup! It doesn't bother my stomach! 

I start thinking of common ingredients in the two soups. Onions. But, it can't be onions. I had onions in my meal last night with no issues... I know, I should have made the connection by now, but I didn't.... I headed out to Pete's to get some snacks and figured a walk would help my newly paining belly*. As I'm walking to Pete's in the lovely sunshine, I nearly stop dead in my tracks. "CARROTS!" I think to myself. It has to be the carrots. I ate a ton of carrots before my soup. I ate carrots last Friday before my soup. I ate carrots for an afternoon snack last Tuesday before running home. I don't recall eating carrots the weekend before, but maybe it was another veggie. I did have lots of celery and red peppers raw that night. Or maybe that one actually was a virus. 


I got back to the office, doubled over, but pleased with my discovery and asked my go-to office mate about pains from carrots. I always go to her when I have health questions as she does a lot of reading about holistic stuff, and organic stuff, and all that new-age good for you stuff. She said, "how many did you eat?" I told her, and she confirmed that raw veggies are hard to digest, and she would expect that six carrots would do it. I asked Dr. Google, and yes, this is a common issue. 


I headed home for the afternoon after sharing my knowledge with the other ladies at work. Turns out, they all knew that carrots could do that. Maybe I'm the only one who did not. But, just in case, I thought I'd share my new found knowledge with you. I'm hoping that I've spent my last afternoon curled up in the fetal position from the evil veggie known as carrots. Now to find another crunchy, yummy snack for the office that won't hurt me. 


*In case you want a description of the pain, I coined a phrase in university to describe it... It's the gremlin-in-the-microwave feeling. You know, from the gremlins movie where the gremlin is in the microwave, then he explodes. That's how it feels, like I'm in the microwave, just about to explode.)

Destination, Spain!

I was at dinner with my friend Saturday night, and we were looking at the wine list. "What country are you on now?" he asked. Good question. I had done 3-4 weeks in Argentina, and felt that I should move to a new country. I pondered having a glass of the one Argentinian Malbec on the menu, but I knew I would love it, so that seemed to be a bit of a cop out for my quest to try new wines.

My friend, who I'm pretty sure isn't much of a wine drinker, tried something new himself. He took my advice and went with an Australian wine. While I've learned a lot about wine in the past three months, I don't feel that I can advise others on what to drink. I know what I like, but I'm still not very good at describing why I like it.

There was a lot of Australian on the menu. I'm saving Australia for later since they have so much selection. I've had many Australian wines in the past. I'm thinking I'll drink more of them in the summer or fall. Until then, I wanted a smaller country. So, there was one Spanish wine on the menu, and I decided to try that.

I had a glass of the Osborne Tempranillo & Shiraz, from Tierra de Castille, Spain. I have no idea what Tempranillo is. Never heard of it. But I knew I liked Shiraz. The glass came and it was a nice rich color. It wasn't overly spicy on the nose. It was tasty, but a more mellow taste than some of the others that I seem to be loving lately. It was actually a really good match for drinking with my food, I think.

I'm excited to try some more of Spain these next few weeks. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Training Weeks 8&9

Week 8
Last week was decent. I ran a crappy tempo on Tuesday, which has its own blog post.

Then Wednesday was 8k with 5 hills. It was a great workout! I really like my Wednesday night hill repeats with Heart & Sole. Hills are so much better with a group.

Thursday, I ran to work so I could go out for dinner after work since it was Saint Patrick's Day. I ran 4k at a 6:30 pace.

Saturday was an extra rest day in preparation for the race.

Sunday was my race with Heart & Sole at the Moose Run, again with its own post.

So, 4 runs for 26k.

Week 9
This week was ok. I ran Tuesday, but didn't have any goal since I had raced Sunday. But, I got shin splints right from the start, again. It was painful. So, I walked a bit, but got the run done. Then Tuesday night, I was sick, and sick again Wednesday. So I missed hills. Sad.

Thursday, I ran and had a good run. I did 6k easy, and had a pace of 6:05 (6:32, 6:09, 5:55, 5:58, 5:50, 5:59). I like "easy" runs. I run them with no goals, and just run whatever I feel like that run.

Saturday was another easy run. I did 4k at a 6:22 pace. It was a crappy run. I didn't want to run, and didn't want to be out there at all, the WHOLE time. But, luckily, it was only 4k.

Sunday (today) was 14k. I was out later than expected last night, so I decided last minute to run with the Dartmouth group instead of my Halifax clinic group. It meant I could sleep in later, but still thought I'd have company for most of the run. Turns out, I ran most of it alone anyway. Oh well. It was a good push to get out in the morning. Average pace was 6:44 (6:18, 6:57, 6:32, 6:44, 6:26, 6:48, 7:38, 7:37, 6:46, 6:28, 6:46, 6:34, 6:20, 6:09). This was a bit fast for me for a long run. I'm tired today, which is a sign that I ran too fast. Or, maybe I needed more nutrition on the run. I had one gel at 8k.

Anyway, good week. 4 runs for 28k.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Secret of Everything

.... by Barbara O'Neal. This is the second book I've read of hers. I enjoyed the first one, and enjoyed this on even more.

This story is about Tessa. Tessa is a late thirties wild child. She's a tour guide on hiking tours, and has just been in a bad accident where one of her tour participants drowned. In the accident, Tessa was also hurt and went to stay with her hippie dad in California to recover.

Growing up, Tessa and her dad, Sam, traveled to renaissance fairs where he was a magician. She didn't have the typical life. Before they traveled, they were living on a commune in New Mexico. That's where Tessa's mom killed the leader of the commune and tried to drown herself and Tessa. Tessa survived, but pushed that all out of her memory until she nearly drown again. Then the memories started to come back.

Once she had healed enough to start getting antsy, she decided to head back to the commune town to scope out a new hiking tour possibility. Her dad did not want her to go. Of course, there were secrets he didn't want her to find out.

The story is really quite nice. It was similar to the other book of hers that I read in that the independent woman goes to a new town, falls for the single dad, even though she doesn't want to... But, the stories were also different enough that I didn't feel like I was re-reading the other book in a different setting.

If you're looking for chick lit, this is a good one. Just enough romance to be interesting, but with a good story and lots of other interesting characters.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

.... by Aimee Bender

This one came in on from the library for my kobo last week. I read it in a few days. I enjoyed it. The main character is a little girl, Rose. The story starts with her mom making her a lemon cake for her 9th birthday. Rose tastes the cake, and it tastes bad. But her whole family - mom, dad, older brother (Joseph)- all love the cake. Rose then realizes, it's not that the cake is bad, but it is sad.

As the book goes on, Rose's relationship with her family is looked at a bit more intensely. Her dad is distant, he seems cold and hard to reach. Their moments are when they watch a TV show together as she does her homework next to him on the couch while he works on his paperwork. Her mom, she discovers, is sad and was the reason the cake tasted sad. Rose seems to take on a bit of a mothering role to her mom. Her brother, well, he barely even seems to be present. Rose has a closer relationship with his best friend, George.

As Rose grows into a young woman, she learns to deal with her ability to taste the feelings of the person who made her food. She turns to vending machines and highly processed foods. The less interaction her food has had with a person, the better.

The book ends with Rose in her early twenties, and seems to come around to better relationships with her family members. She seems to understand them, and is able to open up to them a bit more than as a child. She learns to accept her special gift and try to make the best of it.

I liked the oddness of this story line, the way that all the characters interacted or didn't interact. It was an entertaining read.

First "race" of the year

I ran part of the Moose Run today. I'd heard of this race before, but this was my first time participating, thanks to the new Dartmouth running group, Heart & Sole. The full run is 25k, but what I didn't know is that they encourage a three person relay. It's a great race. Small, and it is free! Donations are appreciated.

There were about 30 of us running with the group. We all met at the moose for a group photo at 9:00 and met our teammates. I was running with one teammate, Elaine, who was running the last two legs of the race. By 10:00, we were out running.

You couldn't ask for a better day weather wise for a race in March. It was sunny, about -4 with a bit of a wind. But the wind wasn't too bad considering the race was along the water for a while. Actually, a lot of my leg of the race was sheltered from the wind.

My goal for this race was to run it at my goal pace for my upcoming 17k race - 5:55 minutes per kilometer. I started out a bit fast, but it felt manageable. Here are my splits:

5:39
5:33
5:40
5:34
5:35
5:58
5:59
6:08
5:30

Not too shabby. I think I did pay a little for going out too fast, but it was never unmanageable. I didn't take any walk breaks, and the hills in those three slower kilometers likely accounted for the slower time. I could feel the hills taking their toll in the last few kilometers. That 6:08 was pretty well all uphill. The last one was a nice downhill.

I wasn't sure exactly when my leg of the race would end. I knew Elaine would be waiting for me at the intersection of Cow Bay Road and Bissett. But, I didn't know the road, and thought it was at about 8.3k. Turns out it was 8.93, so I ran the last 0.07 to get an even number on my GPS.

Good run. I won a draw prize (I picked a wrench set). I saw an old friend, met new ones, and ended with a team party hosted by our fantastic Heart & Sole organizers. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Yummy Bonarda

Not to give anything away with the title, but bonarda is yummy! What is bonarda, you ask? Funny, I asked that same question just yesterday....

I went to the NSLC at Scotia Square yesterday to browse. I thought I might move on from Argentina since I already know I love Argentinian malbecs. But, I couldn't decide which country to visit next. I thought about South Africa, but a friend said she doesn't like it, and I trust her opinion on wines. I was going to get a cab sauv from Argentina, but didn't feel like it since I also know I like those. Then I saw the Las Moras black label Bonarda 2008.

The bottle says deep fruit and nice floral aromas, deep purple colour with blue tones. It states that it has hints of blackberries, coffee, mint, violets and chocolate, and has a long lasting after taste. I pondered. Then the third helpful clerk came up and asked if I needed help. This time I said "what is bonarda, and is it good?" Then, he told me that it is a grape only bring grown in Argentina now, and is similar to a cab sauv, but with more of a white pepper taste. "But is it good?" "Yes." So I bought a bottle. I don't remember the price. $16-17, I think.

We had a great chat about the wine, and I wasn't disappointed. It tastes different. I'm still not good with placing the aromas and tastes that they say it has. It's definitely dark in color, and has a nice smell. I guess I can smell the floral aroma. I can feel the tannins when I take a sip. I can taste spice. I can't describe how it is different, might just be the spiciness of it. But I definitely like it.

I'm glad I tried something new!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Cutting For Stone

... by Abraham Verghese.

Wow. This was a good book. I had the audiobook out from the library, and only started listening to it last week, after having it for two weeks. The library books have a three week time frame. So, when I started listening to it, I had only a week left. It's 24 hours long. After the first 2 parts (out of 19), it wouldn't recognize the file and I couldn't transfer it to my iPod. So, that made listening a little more difficult. If I could listen on my iPod, I could listen while on my way to work, on my lunch break, etc. But I had to listen to it on my laptop instead. Turns out that's not such a bad thing. It makes cooking, doing dishes, and yoga more interesting.

This story is about the life of Marion Stone. He was born a conjoined twin with his brother Shiva. His mom was a nun and his dad a surgeon. Nobody knew that his mom was pregnant, not even his dad. The story starts with his parents meeting, and follows to the tragic story of his (their) birth, and then all the way up until Marion is around 30.

I loved the story, I loved the characters. I don't want to say too much about this book as I don't want to give much away. The story was lovely.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Corset Diaries

... by Katie MacAlister

This was an easy read, definite chic lit. It's a book about a woman in the states who is roped into a reality TV show in England. It's right before the show starts, and the lead woman backed out. They needed a duchess, and Tessa's friend convinced her to take the role. The setting is an old Victorian home, with her as the duchess, and a very handsome man as the duke. The participants in the reality series had to act as if they were in the Victorian times during this month. No cell phones, no electricity, no modern medicine, etc.

Tessa, on her first meeting with her duke, has had too many drinks. She throws up on his shoes. The first day of filming, Tessa is introduced to a corset. Her second meeting with her duke was no less embarrassing with an episode of gas.

The character of Tessa is quite funny. She's a larger lady, and feels she just doesn't fit in. She tries to win over her servants, her new TV step daughter, her duke. But, as the only American in this British setting, she finds she's offending people just with her presence.

The book tends to drag a bit, but it was a really cute story. If you like chit lit, you may like this book. It has a lovely, happy ending. The characters were interesting. It was a good, mindless book.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Shinsplints Suck

The title of this post describes tonight's run. I aimed to do a 4k tempo, but I had decided that I'd take it easy if I wanted since I was recovering from a slight stomach bug. The first kilometer was right on pace at 5:55. And then, the shinsplints started. I walked up a steep hill and stretched at the top. I started running again and it hurt so bad that I was worried I'd do some damage if I kept running. Both shins, all along the front of the legs ached so bad. I walked, and it hurt to walk. I hobbled, really. I tried to run again, and couldn't. I ended up walking for about a mile. Finally, the pain subsided.

I took a chance and started to run again. I did manage to get in another 2k at tempo pace without any more  pain. I'm not sure what caused it today. Sometimes if I don't warm up enough, it'll start. Sometimes it is from over training. But yesterday was a rest day, so I don't think it was over training.

I have extremely tight calves at the best of times. I hadn't really stretched since last week. Lesson learned. Last week, I did yoga 3-4 days. I will start making that a priority again. Fingers crossed that it helps.