Friday, February 25, 2011

The Book Thief

I stopped in at the library last week and browsed the "rapid read" section. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak had been on my "must read" list and I was waiting for my turn on for the ebook from the library. But, I picked it up with the hopes that I could read it in a week. That wasn't a problem.

I really enjoyed this book. It's a book about a young girl, Liesel, who is transplanted to a new home with foster parents during the war in Germany. The book is narrated by the 'grim reaper', which I found kind of weird. It follows the ups and downs going on with Liesel over a few years.

The plot wasn't overly predictable. I had expected that the foster father was going to molest her, and thank goodness I was wrong! So wrong. There is some bad stuff that happens in this novel, for sure, but not that type. I really like the relationships between Leisel and her Papa, and her best friend, Rudy. The characters in this novel are really real, and likeable.

I just googled now to find out the name of the author, and saw a trailer for the movie. I didn't realize that it was being made into a movie. That will be interesting. I'm not sure if I can imagine it as a movie, but I'm sure I'll go see it.

Final French

I am have finished up my month of France a little bit early. I've gotten a good taste for the French wines, and they are not my favorite. But, I did pick up a bottle on the weekend so I could make my stew that called for a cup of wine.

I got a bottle of "Chante-Clair". I picked it because of the picture of the rooster on the front label. It was a heavier wine, mix of a few grapes, though it didn't say which, meant to be drank (drunk?) with or without food. This is more my type of wine, something that is made to drink on its own.

I'm now moving on to Argentina for a few weeks, and then may move on again after a few weeks. We'll see.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Training Week #4

Thank goodness that week is done. I started the week with a strength workout on Tuesday. This is the first strength workout I'd done in well over a month. Why did I decide to do it hours before a tempo run? I'm not sure. But, I just remembered why strength training always falls off for me when I'm running often.

My tempo run Tuesday night was done on the treadmill, and I often thought "Ugh, is it over yet?" and it was NOT. I stuck with it and did 20 minutes at my tempo pace on the treadmill after a 5 minute warm up. Normally I take a 5 minute cool down run after, but this time I did not. I just walked once it was done. Tough run, but done.

Wednesday was another tempo run, and I went to the Running Room to run it. Our pace leader wasn't there, so it was up to us to keep our pace. That's fine. There were two of us with GPSs, and I was already tired and told them I'd try to keep a 5:54 pace, but I wasn't sure I could. I find it hard to look at the garmin while running, especially in the dark and with so many layers on. What I usually do is look at it when it beeps to give my kilometer splits. That's what I did this time, and yelled it ahead to the others, that is until they were too far ahead of me and couldn't hear me.... First split was 5:25, then 5:37... At this point, the others were too far ahead and couldn't hear me anyway. I decided to stop trying to keep up. I knew it was too fast from the start, but was feeling a little competitive and wanted to keep up. There were still a few of us at the back of the pack. Actually, I was in the middle. The other girl with a garmin was behind, likely keeping the right pace for us. The next 2 kilometer splits were more "on" target with 5:53 and 6:02. That last kilometer was tough. Very tough. That is what happens when you go out too fast. The other girls are just faster than me. They didn't slow down, I don't think, and they seemed fine. I was happy with the run, though. It was nice to push it. I ran back to my office after that, so about 5k in total.

But, then Thursday, I was still suffering from sore legs. I ran 3k with the group at about a 6:30 pace. It was nice and easy. I even made it all the way up Salter without any walk breaks. Saturday's run was 5k with an average pace of 6:25, but with a fast finish. My legs were tired starting, but I was fine once I warmed up.

Today... Well, that was a different beast. It sucked. I have no other way to explain it. I thought we were running about 6:25 pace. It turned out to be a 7:02 pace. There was snow down from last night, and it was windy. And I was running on really tired quads. That's the only reasons I have to explain my lack of lungs and lack of energy. That was a tough 9k for me. But, it's done. I don't seem to be any worse for wear, other than needing a nap this afternoon.

Week #4 - 5 runs, total of 27km.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

More February French

After so many glasses of French wine two weeks ago, I really haven't had much of a taste for wine this month. But, since I wanted to give France a good chance, I picked up a bottle on Thursday at Port of Wines when I was killing time downtown after work.

I got a bottle of Bourgogne Pinot Noir, Reserve "Vieilles Vignes", recolte 2008, Pierre Andre au Chateau de Corton Andre. I still don't have the knack for how French wines are labelled. I'm assuming Chateau de Corton Andre is the brand.

I now see what they mean when they say that French wines are usually made to drink with food. This is a very light wine. I can't identify anything in particular in the nose other than spice. It is a thin burgundy in color (funny that, being a burgundy and all...) and is somewhat transparent. It's dry, and I can't identify any fruits, though I never can.

It's nice. It's not something I would pick up every day, but maybe if I were serving food, and wanted a nice light wine, I would get this. I enjoy it, but I prefer a more full bodied wine.

I did try a French white last week while out at Obladee. I had a glass of Paul Zinck Pinot Gris from Alsace. It was really tasty. I really enjoyed this wine, and found it went quite well with the bread and cheese we were having. I didn't take any other notes, but can remember that it was sweet, fruity, and crisp. I had to stop myself from drinking it fast. I really enjoyed it and it was hard to just sip.

Next weekend will be my last French weekend. I have tried a few now, and will probably get a Bordeaux for next weekend. I'm thinking ahead to March, and think that it will be another new world country. Maybe Argentina. But, I may save Argentina for April.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

His Robot Girlfriend

I found this book somewhere online as a free upload to my kobo. It's by Wesley Allison, and the book is actually called "His Robot Girlfriend". I started it yesterday on the ferry to work, and was half way through it after my commute home last night. It was 114 pages.

The first bit was quite interesting. It's about a widower in the future who orders a robot to keep him company. He can program her however he pleases. Then it turned into every teenage boy's fantasy book for a while where it described (not in great detail) about how she was there to serve his every need - had the towel ready for him when he got out of the shower, cooked for him, cleaned, and every other want/need.

I expected the plot line to go a certain way, and it sort of did, but not directly. It was leading up to robots taking over the world, but you know, some robots can choose to decline instruction.

It was a cheesy read, but it passed the time.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Still Alice

I had bought "Still Alice" by Lisa Genova before Christmas at Coles. I forgot I had bought it. I picked it up last week again and couldn't get through it quick enough. It's a book about a Harvard psych professor who discovers she has early onset Alzheimer's.

I loved this book. I cried a lot while reading it. The story is told from the perspective of Alice, and how she deals with her diagnosis, and then how she thinks when in moments of un-clearness. As the time goes on, her illness progresses, and it is really just heartbreaking to read.

I don't want to say much else about this book in case you haven't read it. Pick it up if you want an emotional book that really pulls you in.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Training Week #3

Started this week off sick with the flu, so I missed both tempo runs. Not much exciting training to write about this week. I did 4k outside Thursday in the yucky snowy sidewalks. I took it really slow. Saturday was 5k, and another 7k today. Hey, I guess they were all outside this week. That's exciting! No treadmill runs!

New week starts Tuesday. Here's to a good week of hitting all target paces.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Finished First February Book

I went to the book store before Christmas to get some good books to read over the holidays. One of them was The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes. I read the back of the book, and it seemed to be a book about a four story condo building somewhere in Ireland, and the comings and goings of the residents. It looked pretty interesting.

It's 612 pages. I finally started really getting into it at about page 450. For me, there were too many characters to actually get drawn into any of them. There's Katie on the top floor, and her boyfriend, Conell. Then on the third floor is Lydia, who lives with Andrai and Jan. Then there is Jemima, her foster son Fionn, and the dog, Grudge, on the second floor (and Grudge has his own personality and thoughts that are narrated). And last, but not least, is Matt & Maeve on the ground floor. I couldn't keep all the people straight as they were all important characters in the book and all had their own chapters of narration.

Once I had them all down, I enjoyed the story. It's one of those books where I finished, and I'd now like to know more about the characters. It kind of reminded me of my first Maeve Binchy book. It took me a while to get into it and the characters, but once I did, I wanted more. The good thing with Maeve Binchy is that her characters reappear in more books. I don't think these ones do.

It was ok. The last quarter of the book was really good. I'm glad to be through it, though. Up next is another book I randomly bought before Christmas. Hopefully, it will be good!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Stuck For Good Books

I was on a roll there in January, but I haven't had a good book to read or listen to in weeks. I've tried two audiobooks and couldn't get into either. I'm half way through a novel I started at Christmas and still not interested in the characters. My sixteen year old niece lent me her werewolf book, and I'm not really loving it.

Help! I need book inspiration! Might be time to take a trip to the library and take out a real book again.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Four French Wines

I picked up my first bottle of French wine last week for the weekend. I got a 2009 Beaujolais Superieur from Bouchard Aine & Fils. It was about $16 at the NSLC, I believe. I opened it Thursday night and had a glass. I found it very light, and quite fruity. It almost reminded me of candy in a way. It wasn't overly sweet, but had a definite sweet taste. I quite enjoyed it.

Then Friday night, I went to Obladee (wine bar) with a friend, and decided to drink French wine there, as well. Turns out, I had too many glasses of French wine that night. Oops. But I did try all three reds that they had on the menu - 09 Domaine de Cristia Cotes Du Rhone, Bouchard Pere & Fils Beaujolais-Villages, and the Chateau Des Erles Corbieres La Recaoufa. Of these three, the Cotes Du Rhone was definitely my favorite, and then the Beaujolais-Villages was second.

I think I may just take the next two weekends off of French wines, and save up for the last weekend and get a nice bottle. I kind of blew my wine budget on Friday. When you're buying by the glass, it adds up a lot more quickly than when you buy a bottle.

Training Week #2

This was a lovely week weather wise for February. There was snow, rain, snow, ice, wind, and cold temperatures. That meant that I didn't bother even attempting to run outside until yesterday. So, this week had me at the gym, on the treadmill, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Tuesday was a 4k tempo run. I started out with 5 minutes warm up at 5.5mph, then 20 minutes at 6.3mph, and then was going to be another 5 minutes cool down at 5.5mph. But, I was getting a lot of shocks on the treadmill that day. When I switched it down to 5.5mph, I then touched a metal part of the treadmill (the heart rate monitor) and the shock was enough to shut off the treadmill. It started saying that it had malfunctioned and to report it to maintenance. Anyway. Just as I was standing there, heart racing, pondering if I go report it or just jump to another treadmill to finish my cool down, it started up again. Good enough. Run done. Felt a bit hard, but not bad.

Wednesday was another tempo run, scheduled to be 3k. I figured I'd just go for 30 minutes again which puts me close to 5k. Did basically the same workout as the day before, but with no treadmill issues.

Thursday was to be 3k easy, so just ran for 30 minutes at 5.8mph. I skipped Saturday's run.

Sunday, I actually made it outside. The weather had warmed up, and the snow was melting. The sidewalks were actually really good except for a few areas. I got to a part of the path where I was walking in inches deep water on top of ice. That was fun.... But the run was pretty good. It was nice to be outside and off that treadmill!

The weather this week is looking like there may be some more treadmill runs. I don't enjoy the treadmill, but I must admit that it's not that bad. I am almost adjusting to it.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My New Favorite Thing From Chile

I picked up a couple of bottles of wine for last Friday night since I was having a few girls over for dinner. First I picked up a bottle of Concha Y Toro Trio Reserva Cab Sauv, Shiraz, Cab Franc, 2008. It was $17ish at the NSLC at the Ferry Terminal. There were two choices there, and I'm glad I picked this one. It was rated 90+ pts  by Since I didn't take notes on Friday night, I can't really remember what it tasted like, except that my friend and I really liked it. It was smooth, easy to sip, not a lot of aftertaste. I believe this was my favorite wine of the month.

Then I also picked up a bottle of the Carmen Reserva Cab Sauv 2009 for about $13 at the Scotia Square NSLC. We opened this one right after we finished the first bottle, the yummy bottle. That wasn't really giving this one a fair chance. It tasted a bit harsh to me with a bitter aftertaste. I had one glass of this one, and was not interested in any more that night. I poured another glass the next night, and it was much tastier this time. It did have a bit more tannin-y taste/feel, which may have been what I didn't like the night before. The second (and third) night, I enjoyed it. It's a tasty wine for $13.

That's it for Chile. Now onto February. I haven't decided 100% which area I'm going to taste this month, but I'm thinking maybe France. But, I won't know for sure until I buy the first bottle, likely this weekend.

Today, I Killed a Treadmill.

It's "tempo" Tuesday, so I decided to head to the gym at lunch to do my 4k run. I bought the new Jenn Grant CD last night thinking it would be good to run to. I was right.

I did my 5 minute warm up at an easy pace, then turned it up to my tempo pace of 6.3 mph, or about 5:56 min/km. I'm not sure if any of you are as electrically charged as I am this time of year, but I have a terrible time with getting shocks. Actually, this morning as I got out of bed, I was seeing sparks in the dark due to the lovely warm fleece sheets I have on my bed. So every few minutes, my leg hits the metal on the treadmill and I get a lovely shock.

Fifteen minutes in and I'm doing ok. I'm loving the new CD. It's really fun music and helped pass the time. Then the last five minutes of the tempo portion (aimed for 20 minutes at tempo today with 5 warm up and 5 cool down) hurt. I couldn't ignore the timer on the treadmill. I tried. I watched the people lined up to sign up for a class. Then as I distracted myself, I'd bump the treadmill and get shocked back to my reality.

Once my tempo portion was up, I slowed the belt back down to a comfortable pace. Nice. I can do this. Five more minutes and I can go stretch. Then I realized I hadn't been shocked in a while and thought I'd touch the metal so the electricity didn't build any more. The treadmill stopped. Dead. The screen flashed "malfunction. contact support. malfunction."

But I need to finish my run! I've not yet cooled down, so I'm dripping sweat, heart racing, wondering if I just jump onto the next one over or go report it. Ya, I'm just jumping ship and starting the next one. Just as I decide, it starts working again. Ok. Good. I restart it and bring it back up to my cool down run speed. Then just as I'm getting back into it, I knocked my iPod off the ledge on the treadmill. Ear phones are still in, and the iPod goes flying. Graceful as I am, I managed to avoid stepping on it. Stopped the treadmill again, and rescued my iPod. Start the treadmill again. Right, now how long did I cool down? I have no idea.

But, the run is done. Yay!