For Cori

It’s been almost five months since my last post. I fell out of the habit of writing, and then as I went longer without writing it seemed harder and harder to get back into it. Luckily, the internet is full of wonderful people who keep us honest, and Cori (Read.Write.Run.Mom.) nominated me to answer the following questions. (I’m cheating, I’m not going to nominate anyone else, but you successfully got me to post again!)

What is one training tip you have heard that has dramatically changed the way you run?

“You can’t run too slow on Sundays.” I’m not sure that dramatically is the right word, but I was able to relax a lot more on my long runs once I stopped worrying so much about the pace.

If you could run any race in the world, which race would you choose and why?

I have a growing race bucket list, though I haven’t thought too much about any far away races yet, but I would love to run the San Francisco Marathon. My dad ran the San Francisco Marathon in 1980 and I think it would be really cool to do it too! (I will learn from his mistakes and not run in new shoes!)

What inspired you to start your blog?

I started this blog when I started training for my second half marathon because I wanted somewhere I could keep track of how things were going. Since starting it, I’ve started reading more and more running blogs and love the community of local running bloggers, though I definitely read more than I contribute.

Describe your favourite running route in a way that would make me want to run it with you.

My favourite running route is one that someone else plans and leads so that I don’t have to think about it, just follow them.

But if left to my own devices for a long run, I’ll head west from my house to Science World (about 3k). From there, I usually run along the north side of False Creek. On a nice day it involves lots of walker-passing, bike-avoiding, kid- and dog-dodging, but it keeps me on my toes. Under the Cambie Street Bridge there is a basketball court where on multiple occasions there have been unicycle hockey games. (I kid you not.) Then it’s along Yaletown, past David Lam Park and towards the Granville Street and Burrard Street Bridges. If I’m doing a shorter run, I’ll usually cross one of the bridges and loop back around the other side to Science World. If it’s a longer run, I’ll carry right on along the seawall towards Stanley Park. A huge network of trails within the park means I can tailor a run through the park to just about any distance. A 20 km run would take me all the way around the park on the seawall and back to Coal Harbour. I almost never finish my long runs at home. Instead, I plan most of my routes to end at a Skytrain station and take transit home. It means that I get to see more of the scenic part of the run.

False Creek summer sunset

False Creek summer sunset

How did you meet your best running friend?

Though I’m not sure we’ve ever actually been for a run together, my running bestie is my roommate, travel buddy, partner-in-crime, co-Guider and chauffeur Pippa. We run at quite different paces, which for some people might be a deal breaker, but we’ve figured out some pretty good strategies for running “together” independently.

Pippa & Kirky - Sun Run 2013

Pippa & Kirky – Sun Run 2013

We met through Girl Guides when I was in Grade 11 (she was on a council with my BFF), and when she moved to Vancouver in 2011, we happened to be looking for a roommate. 3.5 years later, we still live together (in our third location).

(I’m still on the market for a good running friend to run with.)

What inspired you to start running?

At first it was a sense of obligation – I felt like I should run, since I’m a soccer player and needed to be more active on my own outside of practices and games. Then I felt like if I was running, I could do better – I could run the Sun Run faster than that. I could run a half marathon. I could run a half marathon faster (and without hurting myself). And before I knew it, I’d fallen in love with running and it was something I wanted to keep doing.

What other hobbies do you have that you might not mention on your blog?

I’m sure I’ve mentioned lots of these before, but I play soccer, I’m a Sparks Guider (youngest branch of Girl Guides), I’m a soccer fan (go Whitecaps!), a hockey fan (go Canucks?), I like to cook and love to eat, I watch a lot of TV and movies, I crochet sporadically, I like to camp and hike.

Which of your races this year are you most excited about and why?

I’m really excited for three Rock’n’Roll races with Pippa: Portland 10k, Seattle half, and the brand new Vancouver half. We had already signed up for Seattle and Vancouver when they announced the special edition Cascadia medal for running Portland, Seattle and Vancouver. We signed up for Portland hours later. I’m excited for the road trips, excited that the Portland 10k and Vancouver half are inaugural races, excited that we get so much bling, excited that the Portland medal is a bottle opener.

What is your favourite healthy snack that almost feels sinful?

I tend to hit the extremes of snacking: they’re either healthy and boring, or just plain sinful. I should probably work on that. (Let me know what I’m missing out on!)

What quote or song (or both) inspires you most in your running?

The first time I did a half marathon clinic, one of the instructors rewrote the lyrics to “Inner Ninja” by Classified for us. While I don’t have Liz’s version, the original is on my running playlist and I always think about her version when I hear it.

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And then three weeks went by…

Well haven’t I been a delinquent blogger! I haven’t posted anything since I broke my November daily blogging streak. So there’s lots to catch up on!

Final days of #beaststreak

It was really anti-climactic doing the last three runs of a month-long run streak on a hotel treadmill all alone. I had so many great and rewarding runs during the month of November, but those were just strictly get’er done runs. Luckily Pippa made me a banner.

Vegas

My trip to Las Vegas was a huge amount of fun, and a very excellent way to cap off a crazy and amazing November. There was shopping, eating, drinking, lots of catching up. We stayed at the Stratosphere, which was okay, but waaaay down the end of the strip and really far away from everything else. We took a lot of cabs.

In keeping of the “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” tradition, no photos of our adventures, just this one of the strip late in the afternoon. (The Christmas decorations all started to come out after Thanksgiving on Thursday!)

Exploring Las Vegas

Exploring Las Vegas

Running

After nailing all of my planned training runs in November and throwing in a whole bunch of extra runs, I have definitely been slacking a bit in December. I skipped my long run on December 1st (largely due to the fact that I traveled home from Vegas that day), but have done my other two long runs this month. I’ve made my hills sessions happen (even did last week’s on the treadmill!), but I’ve certainly missed/skipped a few of the others. I’m trying to get back on track this week so that I have some momentum going into Christmas.

24 Days of Christmas Karma

I’ve been trying to work these activities into my December. So far the items I’ve completed are:

4.  Go for a run without a watch, cellphone, music, no technology whatsoever! – I went technology-free on my hill run on December 4th.
7. Do a double run day – one in the am, one in the pm. – Last week I missed my opportunity to run on Tuesday, so I did Tuesday’s run and Wednesday’s hill workout on the same day! One before work, one after.
11. Donate something. – A book for our Christmas hamper.
14. Write a letter, postcard, and send it real mail, to whomever you choose. – I wrote all of my Christmas cards over the weekend and popped them in the mail Monday!
15. Read 1 book in December – Allegiant, Veronica Roth
18. Volunteer – Spark meetings x3! Part of me feels like it’s cheating to count Sparks because it’s not something I went out of my way to do this month, but just because I do it all the time doesn’t mean that it’s not special.
19. The age old pay it forward – Paid for a nice-looking young man’s coffee last Sunday on my way home from my run.
20. Reconnect with someone you’ve been meaning to – Check.

So that’s only 8/24, but I’m pretty pleased with my progress so far. I know there are some items on the list that won’t get completed before Christmas, but I’m not necessarily going for 100% completion. Every item I check off this list will make my December better!

Christmas shopping!

This gets its own category, because I’m actually doing pretty well this year. I’d say I’m 90% done shopping, and 85% done wrapping!

The beginnings of my gift wrapping!

The beginnings of my gift wrapping!

I’m counting down the days of work remaining!

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I broke the blog streak, but I found a new challenge!

I’m not sure if anyone noticed, but I didn’t post anything yesterday, breaking my blogging-every-day-in-November streak. Oh well. I was not likely to write enough tonight to schedule posts to get me through the weekend anyway. And really, I was much more invested in the running #beaststreak anyway.

I posted the other day about not being sure what I’d do when November ends and my daily running ends. I’m still trying to figure out how to keep myself motivated to exercise as consistently, but I do have a new challenge to take on. Once again, Solana has come up with a challenge to keep us on our toes, and I’m game to play along.

The idea is 24 Days of Christmas Karma: twenty-four things to do in December. Some of them are active (snowshoeing, yoga, two runs in one day), some of them are about giving (bake cookies and drop them off at a senior’s centre, make a donation, babysit for a friend for free) and some of them are just nice things to do (read a book, go a day without texting). They don’t have to be in any particular order, and you don’t necessarily have to do one a day. I’m going to paste the whole list here for reference.

  1. Snowshoeing (if you don’t happen to live in a place where that’s possible, go for a run in the sand)
  2. Buy lunch for a friend, co-worker, family member
  3. Bake cookies (or buy a box of donuts if you are baking stupid), and randomly drop them off at a seniors centre.
  4. Go for a run without a watch, cellphone, music, no technology whatsoever!
  5. Give a minimum of 10 hugs in 1 day.
  6. Don’t text for an entire day.  If you want to say something, pick up a phone, and phone your friend.
  7. Do a double run day – one in the am, one in the pm. (hint – doesn’t matter how long each run is!)
  8. Make a Christmas ornament – you choose whether to keep it or give it away.
  9. Give the gift of a race registration for you and a friend to do together.  (there’s tons of inexpensive races out there)
  10. Climb the BCMC or if you don’t live local, find the tallest building you can, and climb up, up, up, a total of at least 45 minutes of climbing (take the elevator down in-between)
  11. Donate something.  A coat, some canned goods, your choice, just make a donation.
  12. Ask a friend or random you don’t normally run with to take you on their favorite route.
  13. Offer to baby-sit, or dog-sit, or dog walk, completely for free – friend or random!  Well, maybe not a totally random baby…
  14. Write a letter, postcard, and send it real mail, to whomever you choose.  (Preferably me!)
  15. Read 1 book in December (hint : it doesn’t matter how long it is)
  16. Ice skating!  (or rollerblading for anyone without ice arenas…) **hint you could offer to take friend’s kids ice skating and knock off this and babysitting at the same time!!
  17. Yoga.  At least 1 practice.  In a studio, at home, doesn’t matter.
  18. Volunteer.  Your choice where, when, how.
  19. The age old pay it forward – in a drive thru, or in a coffee shop, just make it happen.
  20. Reconnect with someone you’ve been meaning to.
  21. Try a food you haven’t tried before – can be a new restaurant style, or a vegetable you’ve never cooked – be creative!
  22. Go for a run and say “Hello” and “Merry Christmas” to everyone you see.  Bonus points if you sing a carol too.
  23. Eat vegetarian and no processed foods for one day.  You must make everything that goes into your mouth.
  24. Take a family member for tea, preferably an older member of your family that you don’t get to see very often one on one.

Some will be easy to fit in, and others will require some scheduling. But it will be fun to see how it all plays out and even more fun to hear about all of the other things other participants are getting up to. It will even inspire me to keep blogging, because I’ll have something to write about regularly! (I wonder what the hashtag will be.)

Okay, on that note, I should be off to sleep because my (b)ride is picking me up in less than 7 hours for our Vegas adventure! I will spend the plane ride deciding which of these activities I will accomplish on December 1, when we’re travelling home from Vegas. (Last resort will be the minimum 10 hugs in one day, but I feel like I should start stronger.)

November 26

Blog post: Nope. Blog fail.
Run: a beautiful 5k at lunch

November 27

Blog post: Doesn’t get any better than this.
Run: First week of hills! 3x up Pipeline Rd, plus to and from, for 4.8 km

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What to do when this month is over

Getting out for a run this evening was a bit of a struggle, and I’m really glad my #beaststreak Monday runs are over. Monday has never been a running day for me. I have to leave work by 4:30 to get to Sparks on time, so lunchtime runs are really difficult to fit in. Then I don’t get home until 7:30 or 8 and by that time the Monday-ness of it all has caught up to me. Also, I’m tired from my Sunday long run, soccer game and whatever else the weekend involved. (My weekends are rarely restful.)  Plus the Running Room schedule I’ve been following has Monday as a rest day, so I have absolutely no reason to pretend to want to run.

As happy as I am not to have to fit in another Monday run, with five days left I’m already wondering what I’m going to do when the calendar turns to December. There was a brief fleeting moment in which I thought “I wonder how much longer I could carry on the streak.” But honestly my body needs a rest. And without a fixed end date, I don’t think I would be as motivated to run. So that’s out.

On the other hand, I’ve really been enjoying having a specific challenge to meet this month, and a community of people out there all doing the same thing (even if I don’t actually know any of them), and a spreadsheet to report to. (I love a good spreadsheet.) Plus I love the way my body has been feeling (apart from tired) and even looking. So I’ve been trying to think of what I can do to keep myself going on some kind of new challenge in December that keeps me active but doesn’t require running every day.

Anyone out there got any brilliant ideas for December?

November 25

Blog post: this is it (and I can tell you for sure that I will not be blogging every day after November 30th)
Run: 3.2k around the neighbourhood after Sparks.

Edit: I didn’t look at my Garmin stats until just now, but I thought I would share how ridiculously off my GPS data was tonight. This was not my running route. Not even close. Go home, Garmin, you’re drunk!

This is ridiculous

This is ridiculous

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What an awesome weekend

I had an absolutely fabulous weekend. Friday night was the aquarium sleepover, then Saturday I had a very relaxing afternoon and evening involving a run, laundry, a haircut, movies and snuggles. I didn’t even make dinner. I had oatmeal and a bowl of almonds. It was wonderful.

This morning Pippa and I got up bright and early to head to the Running Room for our Sunday long runs. (It’s even better when your roommate is also doing a clinic and drives you there!!) It was nice to finally run with a group this weekend. 9k goes by so much faster when there are people to chat with and you don’t have to do the thinking.

When we got home we tag-teamed breakfast: bacon, eggs, toast, veggies and coffee. We each had a shower and then it was time to head to BC Place to see the Canadian women’s national team take on Mexico. It was loads of fun to stand in the supporters’ section and cheer throughout the game. It would have been MORE fun to see the team play the way they can and score a few goals, but they played to a scoreless draw.

After the game, I headed back to Port Moody for my own soccer game. It was our first cup game – we play three round robin games throughout the season before the knockout starts. We were up against a team we hadn’t played before. They’re undefeated in regular league games with 40 goals for and 9 against.  They were clearly expecting to beat us, and were none to pleased when we beat them 3-2. Go team!

Now I’m lying in bed, rushing to get this post out before midnight. I am going to sleep well tonight!

November 24

Blog post: Late, but here it is
Run: 9k this morning

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I got to sleep at the aquarium!

There are some definite perks to being a Girl Guide leader. I get to do all kinds of fun things that most adults don’t get to do. Like sleep over at the Vancouver Aquarium.

We looked into doing it with the Sparks a few years ago, but the sleepover starts at 9pm, which is well after they normally go to bed. So we gave up on that dream (and did the Not Quite Overnight program at the space centre instead).

But we Guiders frequently tag along on other groups’ camps and sleepovers as an extra adult body, so when some of the Brownie and Guide groups planned an aquarium sleepover, I was very quick to offer my services.

After we arrived, we split into small groups and started our adventure. My group started with the wet lab, where we got to explore three tables of critters. We talked about predators and prey and how animals protect themselves. After that we had a break for a snack: meat and cheese trays, buns, veggies and dip, fruit, cookies and juice (plus coffee and tea for leaders). We were super impressed by the food, AND they insisted that leaders eat first! We never eat first!

Then it was on to a tour through the aquarium, including some behind the scenes areas. We visited the Arctic, the Amazon and the Pacific Northwest exhibits and talked about ecosystems. It was really neat being in some of the areas most people don’t get to see!

Finally, around 12:15, it was time to get ready for bed. We laid out our mattresses and sleeping bags in the gallery right next to the belugas! The girls were all exhausted by that point, so everyone fell asleep quite quickly.

They’re so spectacular up close!

Before we knew it, it was 6:50 and we were being woken up by our fearless aquarium leader Sue. We packed up our things, had some breakfast (cereal, banana bread, pastries, fruit, juice coffee) and then had free time to explore the aquarium before it opened. The girls made a beeline to the gift shop, and the adults all dashed outside to see the sea otters and got to see Elfin (the male sea otter) being fed. The penguins weren’t up before we had to go, sadly.

The girls got collected at 9 and then it was homeward bound. By way of the Rumpus Room, where we treated ourselves to breakfast poutine. Fries, gravy, cheese curds, plus hollandaise sauce, a poached egg and bacon. Amazing.

So so yummy!

So so yummy!

November 22

Blog post: a gift guide of sorts!
Run: 3.2k on the treadmill after work

November 23

Blog post: this is it!
Run: 3.2k around the neighbourhood just as the sun was going down

 

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What to get your runner for Christmas

Every year I try to be on top of the Christmas gift situation early, and most years I disappoint myself. This year I have already managed to come up with a few key ideas (and not just ideas in the shower that I lose minutes later, ideas I’ve written down!) and am hoping that the rest fall into place soon so that I can take care of the shopping. The other thing I’m trying to get together is a wish list for myself, because people are starting to ask!

This year lots of the things I’ve thought of for myself and some of the things I’ve thought of for other people are running-related. No surprise there. I thought perhaps I would put together a list of gift ideas for runners. Some of these are things I already own and love, and some are on my own wish list. (I haven’t received any freebies or been compensated in any way by any of these companies. These are my own thoughts.)

Shoes

For an established runner with a favourite brand and model of shoe, it’s hard to go wrong. Even if their current pair is still fairly new, this could be used as a second pair, or it could get tucked in the closet for later. If your runner would prefer to shop for their own shoes, a gift card to their favourite running store earmarked for a new pair of shoes works too.

I just bought my new Glycerins with a birthday gift card.

I just bought my new Glycerins with a birthday gift card.

Clothing

Most runners have no shortage of running clothes, but most runners are also constantly doing laundry. Prolong the laundry pain and buy ‘em some new clothes! I would suggest staying away from t-shirts – if your runner races, they’ve already got more t-shirts (and maybe also long sleeve shirts) than they know what to do with. How about a great pair of pants or capris to get them through to shorts season? A zip-up layer in a bright colour for running on these dark winter evenings? Or, a cozy hoodie or pair of sweatpants to put on post-run.

Take the guesswork out of it by asking if there’s any particular piece they’ve been admiring, or anything they currently have that they would love to own more of. (I just bought my third Swiftly Tech long sleeve from Lululemon because I found that I was trying to wear it on every run.)

Safety gear

If you love your runner, help keep them safe by making them visible at night with any number of reflective or light-up accessories. Lights for shoes, lights for hats, headlamps and reflective armbands are all great choices, and would be good as stocking stuffers or gifts from the kids. Another idea is something like the RoadID. You can get bracelets, anklets or shoe tags with your runner’s name, key medical info and emergency contacts. They’re affordable and very customizable.

Handana

Nikki kept talking about hers, so I bought myself a couple back in the summer. MAN are they handy. They’re excellent for wiping away sweat in the summer and for wiping runny noses in the winter. They come in lots of colours for the fashion-conscious runner. I’d suggest ordering two because they’re super useful and I hate discovering that mine are in the laundry!

Gloves and earwarmers

My wonderful youngest sister gave me a pair of Lululemon running gloves (with screen-friendly fingertips) and a headband last year for my birthday and I love them dearly. The Lululemon ones are wonderful, but many other brands make great (cheaper) ones too.

Arm warmers

These are more fall or spring appropriate, but I love my arm warmers for running. I am a really warm person, and I hate feeling overheated. There’s a fantastic difference between running in a long sleeve shirt and running in a tank top with arm warmers. (You can always take off the arm warmers mid-run.) They would also provide more layering options in the winter.

Hydration accessories

If your runner regularly runs distances longer than 10 km, they should be carrying water with them. (And lots of runners carry water for even shorter distances.) Water bottle belts, handheld bottles or hydration packs would be great gifts for lots of runners. If they already have a hydration system they love, do they need new bottles, lids, bladders, extra pouches?

Socks

Every runner has favourite socks, and they’re kind of expensive. Treat them to a new pair or two!

Personally I'm hoping for some Injinji lightweight no-show socks.

Personally I’m hoping for some Injinji lightweight no-show socks.

Compression socks

I have fallen in love with my compression socks for recovery. (I’m wearing mine RIGHT NOW.) They come in all sorts of colours and styles – everything from plain black or white, to neon colours, to crazy prints. I own both ProCompression socks and CEP sleeves and love them both!

Other ideas:
  • Handy or crafty? Come up with a cool way to display your runner’s medals and/or race bibs.
  • Is your runner a race junkie? Offer to pay for their next race entry!
  • Massage! (Get yourself a massage too and go together! Warning: you may have your ear talked off about running.)
  • Pedicure! (You could also tag along for this one, but runners have terrible feet, you may not want to look.)
  • Gels, chews, tubes of Nuun and many other weird runner snacks are just the right size for stocking stuffers.
  • Body Glide is also stocking-size.
  • When runners aren’t running, they like to read about running. How about a magazine subscription to Runner’s World or Canadian Running?

There are plenty of other gift guides out there too. A quick google of “runner gift guide” will give you way more ideas than I came up with!

November 21 

Blog post: a three things Thursday post
Run: 5k with the run clinic

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