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Merge with me :)

September 22, 2009

I’ve always had a problem sitting still – unless I was playing the Sitting Still game invented by babysitters worldwide.

My rambling ambles can now be found at

Yes, I’m a big girl and got a domain but WordPress seems to be the only software that won’t allow me to point at it for free.

So there you go, please come and knock on my door. I’ll be waiting for you.  RUN EAT READ!


Week 15: Need to lie down

September 16, 2009

Despite the fact that I only got in three runs this week (shhhhh) I felt totally drained and lifeless. Not sure if something was up with my immune system or what, but allz I know is that all week I was moaning that I NEEDED TO LIE DOWN. Yah, I’m a baby. I know.

Tuesday: Missed my clinic and had to head out on a tempo run by myself. This resulted in a less than tempo-esque run. Went for 6km instead of 8km (see baby comment, above).

Wednesday: The day I nearly died on the track. Unbeknownst to me track training is very different from hills – apparently adding another lap every week isn’t enough – no, we need to do these strange pyramid structured distances. I had never heard anything like it before in my life. And it made me want to lie down. After a 3km warmup we did the following track repeats: 400 m x 800 m x 1200m x 1600m x 1600m x 1200m x 800m x 400m. Get it? Yah, it’s mental. But I managed and even ran a pretty decent time at the low end of my permissible time range.  Unfortunately I didn’t bring enough G-juice with me and ended up nearly crawling back to the Running Room.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday: I mostly did nothing, with a little something in between.

Sunday: 32.3 mofo km. That’s right, my LONGEST distance EVER. Do you hear that? EVER! I found a cool route using the Garmin website that pretty much took me out towards Ossington and then up and across Danforth and back through the Beaches. Quite beautiful and it was a lovely day – thank god for sunscreen. Let me be clear, it took me a long time. Enough time to watch four episodes of True Blood, or eight of Weeds or the entirety of Gone with the Wind – including potty and popcorn breaks. Yes – I worked all of that out while I was running.

And after my run – I didn’t lie down 🙂

Countdown to marathon: 32 days.

What’s in a runner’s kitchen?

September 9, 2009

Runner’s World posted this little article by the brilliant Mark Bittman. He is the man responsible for my most favorite cookbook right now – or at least the one in highest rotation in my kitchen “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian“. I love that it isn’t one of those cookbooks showing you how to swap out meat in traditional recipes, but that it gives genuine and delicious veggie-based meals. And it isn’t one of those glossy reads with shimmering, porno shots of impossibly baked creations, it reads more like an encyclopedia. But a really GOOD encyclopedia. You want food porn? Go pick up a Nigella book and be gone with you.

Anyhoo back to that list. Mark Bittman suggests the following items for a runner’s pantry:

Olive Oil
Long-Keeping Vegetables and Fruits
Fresh Herbs
Soy Sauce
Dried Fruit and Nuts
Canned Tomatoes
Dried Mushrooms

I’m going to add a few (seemingly obvious) suggestions of my own:

Chocolate milk – fellow blogger Running Shorts gave the lowdown on the deliciousness and suitability of this drink. I concur. My personal favorite – Neilson’s Ultimate Chocolate Milk. Oh god, it’s amazing, like liquid chocolate pudding. And I love that I can buy a bunch at a time and it doesn’t need to be refridgerated until it’s opened! Love love love.

Bananas – probably the only thing I can keep down when I return home all queezy and exhausted. Plus it tastes really good with the choco milk.

Nutella – do I sense a theme here? My friend Derek swears by this stuff. High in protein and more luxurious than peanut butter. And really, really decadent on fluffy, white bread (the crack of bread).

Sesame oil – I’ve been in a bit of a soup phase lately and this stuff takes soup to a whole new dimension without making it too salty. Just a wee teaspoon gets you all the rich, nutty flavour you need.

Ice cubes – okay, technically NOT a food but still really useful. Whether for cooling down my homemade Gatorade or for piling in the bathtub for post-run torture, the stuff is going out of style in my house.

So runner, what’s in your pantry? (sidenote – who says pantry anymore?)

Week 14: Travels and travails

September 8, 2009

This week I traveled to the Far East known as Newfoundland to visit my bestest of friends “Modie” and her new beautiful baby. Somehow, despite my instant deep need to lay down, start nesting and cuddle that baby until it was old enough to protest – I still made it out to run.

Running while traveling has never really worked out for me. My first trip after I started running was for a work conference in North Carolina. Since I had absolutely no knowledge of the area and I was terrified of any type of hilly terrain (plus the fact that there was a female-hunting psycho on the loose – when isn’t there?) I made due by running around the parking lot of the big box stores next to the hotel. One loop turned out to be about a kilometre – so a few loops later and I had all my window shopping done. Unfortunately something went terribly wrong with my Saucony sneakers and I ended up with the WORST and most PAINFUL heel blister of all time in all of humanity. Yes, that’s right – I suffered more than any human has ever suffered from a blister. No doubt about it. I compressed it with hot cloths and soaks every chance I got – praying that the poisonous venom would escape from it’s fleshy bubble and allow me at least pretent to wear shoes like a normal woman. It took days. Since then I have diligently packed my shoes with the promise “If there’s time…” and then kept them hidden in the hotel closet until checkout time. But given that I am in training week 14/20 I thought that it might be helpful to keep up the pace and try to keep to schedule. I did fairly well, considering.

Monday was my rest day and Tuesday was my travel day – so no running.

Wednesday: 8km. Modie drove me out to the flatest area of the most mountainous towns – which meant running along this gorgeous river and mountains. Jeebs, aside from the fact that it was also along a “Service Road” (aka a road where big trucks speed through to the highway) it was a gorgeous view and the breeze (okay, wind) helped to cool down the sundrenched area. Oh yah, here’s the view. Proper, right?

Friday: 6 X 800 metre repeats. Prior to this trip I emailed the Corner Brook Running Club to ask if they could recommend anywhere in the city for running repeats – a track? or a flat stretch of road? A guy named Steve wrote me back the most AMAZING instructional email ever. A long, detailed list of where to run in the city and pro/cons for each. Unfortunately there is no running track in CB – a fact highly lamented by Steve. There is a track in the college gym but it specifically states NO RUNNING. Hmm I guess the run/walker animosity has reared its ugly head out here.

Anyway, back to the repeats. They were fine. Great in fact. I chose my stretch of road and simply ran it six times. Not sure if it has to do with the fact that I wasn’t circling around a track but I was able to go about 10 second fast for each repeat. I ran 4:00 repeats this week while last week I was around 4:10. Strange. I didn’t feel like I was going any harder but I was certainly tired when it was all said and done.

Saturday: Planned on getting in a few km’s when I got home, but flight was delayed and didn’t get in until way late.

Sunday: 24km LSD. Something that I digested along the way on Saturday did not sit well. I was up most of the night with a strange stomach bug and by the morning I still felt a little queazy and alot dehydrated. Headed out on the Martin Goodman Trail – worst. decision. ever. Two words – Air Show. Ugh. Not only was the trail packed with people but it was also loud as F#*@. How’s a girl supposed to listen to her audiobook in these conditions? By the end I was spent. In fact, by midway I was spent. Long, slow, deathly pace for the last 10km. Recovery was good but I was mostly in a prone position for the rest of the day.

Six weeks left.

The elusive fast food lobster

September 3, 2009

A few years ago I was in Rhode Island for a conference and after an exhausting first day I collapsed in my room cradling the room service menu. And what to my wondering eye should appear? But a soft butter roll stuffed with lobster meat! It was the most delicious, decadent and satisfying meal – every bite made me sad that I came closer to the end. Sadly – I can’t find the picture which I of course took before diving in. The lobster roll is usually best during the late summer season and is served on a soft white roll with very minimal interference. The lobster is usually mixed with a small amount of mayo and occasionally with some chopped celery or green onion. My RI version also came with a plate of delightfully crispy french fries. Oh god, I’m drooling with the thought.

I was reminded of that moment today – in the middle of my Newfoundland vacation – when my best friend and I entered a Subway Sub shop. Yah, ok – not exactly an executive chef type of situation. But lo and behold they had a lobster meat sub! Stomach issues be damned – I ordered it up. 6-inch (to be safe) with onions, tomato, cucumber and mayo. Keep it simple was my thought. It was satisfyingly salty and definitely had that distinctive lobster flavour. Not exactly the same punch as the Rhode Island Dreamwich – but what do you expect for $6. I left the store satisfied and several hours later I still have my digestive system in check. Lunch well done.

And while we didn’t get to enjoy a Guinness with our lunch (c’mon, Newfoundland isn’t THAT liberal!), I did think this was an apropos time to pull out this old gem 😉

The twitch. The fix. The re-up.

September 1, 2009

Despite a sketchy past littered with empty Diet Coke cans and even a brief stint with those little pink Wake-Ups in high school (yes, it was my Jessie Spano moment) I have consistently tried to downplay or limit the role of caffeine in my life. It’s an endless battle. My best friend in high school drank Pepsi for breakfast. In university my roommate worked for an upscale coffee joint and we would eat chocolate covered espresso beans for dinner. In later years I would come to respect the delicate balance of my stomach lining and find comfort and solace in a cuppa tea – but I would always turn back to coffee when looking for a little jolt, a little fix, a little kick in the pants. I’ve never been the hardcore type that could drink it black – no, I’m a coffee pansy that is for certain. In grad school I was frequently asked if I wanted some “coffee with my sugar?”. So I distinctly remember the very first time that a cafe latte touched my lips. It was Fall 2000 and a good friend had just moved to downtown Toronto – so swanky! He lived near the Starbucks at College & Euclid and that is the spot where I first fell in love with the delightful mixture of syrup, frothed milk and espresso. It was love at first sip.

Over the years I tried to make my own.  I used a crappy Salton machine, a pretty Italian Moka, various Bodum accessories – but it never tasted the same. I was never the Barista of my dreams. And so it passed that in the Fall of 2008 during a trip to Spain my bf and I were introduced to the miracle of Nespresso. At first I mistook it for the powdered Nescafe coffee shite – but after being brought into the mecca that is a Nespresso store in Valencia I was shown the error of my ways. It had all the elements that made it attractive to a coffee snob – exclusive club, quality espresso beans, shiny coffee toys and smart, pretty people to man the counters (not to mention Clooney as the spokesperson). But don’t be mistaken – there is no purchasing a cup of joe in these stores. Oh no. They’ll certainly brew you a shot or a drink, but it’s free and meant to entice your taste buds and open you up to a much bigger purchase. The store is there only to sell the beans (or pods if you will), the machines, and the various elements for drinking (cups, sugar, spoons).

I bought a machine for the bf for Christmas this year and I swear that I saw a tear in his eye – unheard of for a hard-hearted Englishman, trust me. I knew once I saw him documenting the entire experience on film that he was hooked. And so was I. The machine came with a small frothing machine that makes the most perfect quality steamed, frothed milk EVER. That’s right, I said it IN CAPS. Last week I experimented for the first time with an iced latte and Nespresso didn’t let me down. It frothed the milk cold! COLD!

So good – once it hits your lips….

Unlucky 13?

August 31, 2009

The fact that I was born to a family with strong Irish, Scottish and German heritage seems to increase my ability to find superstition in the smallest of things (not to mention being a lush, pack-rat and bossy) – so it was with some trepidation that I began my thirteenth week of training.

I took two days off after my race last weekend. I slept alot, I went to get a massage, I soaked my bones in bubbles and in general I was a suck. All of which paid off for my triumphant Tuesday run!

Tuesday: 8km. Same loop as last week which gave me some insight into how much my energy levels change from week to week. Last week I just wanted to lay down and cry in the middle of the Mt. Pleasant Cemetary – this week I smoked those gravestones (too far?). I had a great pace, only had one walk break and tried my hardest to sprint past my fellow runners at the end. Yah, my heart almost assploded at the end but it was all good. My ample relaxation may have come into play here – may also have something to do with my hydration levels and the fact that I ran with water this time around. Note to self: don’t be dumb and you’ll be fine.

Wednesday: Track work. I’ll admit it – I was terrified of starting track work. In the past I’ve consistently skipped out on the track  and haven’t really spent any quality time there since my very first 5km clinic some four years ago. This could also be why I still run at a snails  pace. But my coaches did a great job selling the track workout and using the McMillan calculator gave my inner control freak some satisfaction. I figured out my goal tempo for 800 metre repeats and I was off. I really had no idea if there was anything funky that I could do with my Garmin at the track (please tell me if there is)  – the bf goes old school with just a stopwatch – so I did the same. My goal was to lap in the range of 4:08 – 4:20 and I was able to consistently run at 4:10. I was amazed. It took alot not to feel intimidated by the multitude of compression-sock wearing hardcore RUNNERS speeding past me at full throttle – but like the smug tortoise that I am, I just kept going until I was done.

Post-track workout I did have some pain. My old shin pain made a return appearance and my quads were doing something rather uncomfortable – but after an ice bath and a few days of ibuprofen I seemed good as new.

Friday and Saturday I did some cross-training in the gym and on my bike.

Sunday: 31km long run. Planned a new route to shake things up and start incorporating more hills into my Sunday’s – lest I forget that San Francisco is not known for it’s long stretches of flat road. First half wasn’t bad and I did have to remind myself a few times to slow it down and keep hydrating – the winds were cool and the sun was hidden so I wasn’t as parched as usual. By 20km I was giving myself pep talks out loud. “C’mon, here we go, just a little bit farther girl, here’s a nice pretty downhill stretch” – that kind of thing. At 28km a woman of dubious sanity allowed her large, horselike, drooling dog to lunge and snap at my shorts – so that gave me a brief adrenaline surge and got me through the last 3km – not to mention the boost from my internal stewing and rage over why I refrained from screaming at her. The answer – because I’m a lady 😉

I was completely dead by the end of the run and after a grilled cheese sandwich, chocolate milk and 30 mins of intense stretching – I collapsed for a long afternoon’s nap. It’s my belief that the Indian food we had for dinner bathed my joints in clarified butter and helped to induce all sorts of healing.

And thus brings Week 13 to a close. Maybe not such an unlucky number? After all I wasn’t actually BITTEN by the horse/dog.