Monday, April 30, 2012

April Foodie Penpals Reveal...Coming Soon!

The Lean Green Bean

This month I participated in the Foodie Penpals program run by Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean.  What is this program, you ask?  Here's some info from Lindsay:
  • On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal! 
  • The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
  • You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
  • Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. 
  • Foodie Penpals is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only.  There is a program in the UK as well.
If you’re in the US or Canada and interested in participating for May, please click here to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.   You must submit your information by the 4th as pairings will be emailed on the 5th!  If you are interested in participating in the UK, please contact Carol Anne from This Is Rock Salt at to get involved

Now you may be wondering what I received this month, since it is the 30th!  Unfortunately, due to my own scheduling, my reveal post will not be up until I return from my holidays later this week.  My buddy mailed my package in time but it didn't arrive by the time I left on April 22nd, so you (and I!) will have to wait!  Stay tuned!

If you want to see what I sent my buddy, visit Kyla at Kitchen of Ky and if you want to see what my sender received, visit Jessica at Dairy Free Betty!

Update: my package arrived but I am still on holidays. The American opened it for me via webcam and I can tell you now that it's pretty awesome! I will write more when I can take pictures and get exact details.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Princess Half Marathon: The final pictures!

I know you can't possibly be tired of hearing about the Princess Half Marathon.  :-)

I finally got my pictures of me from my sister over the Easter weekend, just in case you were wondering whether I was actually there after all those pictures of my sister in my recap posts.

This is near the very beginning, probably around the 2 mile mark?  Someone else might remember better. It was the pirate ship with Jack Sparrow and the other pirates.  It was just starting to get light out:

The first of many awesome character photos:

This was my favourite moment of the race, second only to seeing the castle.  It might seem silly that I was so excited about the Magic Kingdom parking lot sign, but I have so many memories of driving up to that very spot and being so excited about going to the Magic Kingdom.  And here I was, doing something I never thought I would do, with my sister who I've become so close to through the training process, in this place that made me so happy already:

Yes! The Magic Kingdom!  The castle is the halfway point so we must be almost there!  Oh wait... This parking entrance is about a million miles from the actual park...:

The villains, just outside of the Ticket and Transportation Centre if I remember correctly.  Still pretty dark out now that I look back on the pictures:

The Ticket and Transportation Centre.  I was running THAT fast:

Trying to get my picture taken and grab my camera from my belt all at once because we couldn't stop for that long:

This photo is a close as we got to an actual character picture- I actually stood still for more than a second:

The castle!  The castle!  THE CASTLE!

We took this picture for my brother and his best friend as he always got his picture taken with the Indian when they went to the Magic Kingdom to show how much he grew since the last time.  I ran over to the statue and Julie took my picture while she was still running, then we kept going:

This was a "just leave me here to die" moment.  You can see the pirate ship in the background.  I remember we made a deal that I would get to take a walking break after the pirate ship.  As this portion was a bit of "out and back" the pirate ship meant we were less than 5km to the end.  I was exhausted:

Julie walked with me for a bit and someone generously offered to take our picture.  I have no idea what I'm trying to do with my mouth here but I love this picture of us:

This toy solider was yelling at all of us to keep going.  He was very encouraging!  I think it was somewhere around this point on the course was where we saw the Team in Training coach whose shirt said "RICH" on it.  He was being encouraging and amazing to EVERYONE, not just his team.  He yelled at us all to keep our heads up, and our shoulders back, and that we could do it.  It was just what I needed at that moment.  Thank you, stranger/RICH!

High giving the entertainment:

Getting my medal from my new best friend, this lovely guy.  Could I look happier?  I'm going with probably not:

Yes please put that bling on my neck!!

And of course a little fairy dust to help us fly keep walking after the finish line:

For all the rest of my race report posts from the Princess Half Marathon, click here.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

My Favourite Route

I am happier than a pig in poop these days because my favourite running route has finally re-opened after the winter melted away.  We were lucky this year- with a very early heat wave in March, the snow and ice melted away and the river path opened up much earlier than last year.

I took these pictures in the mid-summer last year, meaning to post them, and then totally forgot about them until I finally said hello to my favourite route again this spring.  So here they are for you!

First I run along the streets towards the path:

And then I used to take some stairs to the path, before I discovered a longer route that involved fewer stop lights:

Now I skip the stairs and go along the street a little farther, start taking the pathways and go under the street instead of waiting for a light to change:

And then I'm there - along the river on the bike path, which has as many runners and walkers as bikers, and we generally play nicely:

As I run along the pathway the river comes into view:

On a sunny day, there's always plenty of company:

(I usually avoid this route on crummy days because it will be quieter and I don't feel super safe down there by myself.)

Looking over the river I can see the buildings in Quebec:

And as I keep running along the Parliament buildings come into view:

(Sometimes I can see the Supreme Court as well, if I'm paying attention or running in the other direction.)

The bridges are lovely as well:

And the comes the National Gallery:

During the summer, the tour boats are waiting for their next eager passengers to dock:

And the comes the locks between the river and the canal:

And then hill with the beautiful Chateau Laurier rising up along the left side:

And then I reach the top of the hill by the top of the locks:

(The hill is more fun to run down than up, but sometimes you have to do the hard stuff.)

And for a bonus, sometimes I run up and down the canal either before or after I run along the river:

Just looking at these pictures makes me look forward to my next run!

What are your favourite running routes?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Best. Commercial. Ever.

I just saw a shortened version of this Nike short as a commercial.  The American rewound on the PVR so I could watch it again, then we watched the full version together.  LOVE IT.

Oh Nike. I love you.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Travelling Light?

I've mentioned before that I'll be traveling for a week or so at the end of April.  I'm starting to think about packing and how I might be able to travel light or at least light-ish for the ten days that we are gone.  I thought you all would have some suggestions or tips for me, so here we are!

The trip is to Europe for ten days with my mom and sister.  (It's my first trip to Europe!  YAY!)  We are visiting family in the Manchester area, then going to London, then to Paris.  I have to fly to and from Toronto to meet my mom and sister for our flights to and from Manchester/Paris.  We will be in each place for about three days.  We will also be taking a few trains and maybe buses from place to place.  I would like to pack as light as possible so I don't have to lug a big bag on and off planes, trains and automobiles.

I anticipate doing tourist things with lots of walking, including Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guard, Westminster Abbey for evensong, Versailles for the day, likely a show in London, some nice meals out (but leaning towards casual more than fancy I think).

I have available a backpacking bag and rolling suitcases of various sizes.

I would like to pack as little as possible and have as much of it as possible be multifunctional and wrinkle proof.  I also don't want to pack a lot of shoes if possible.

As I am writing this I am thinking about different things from my closet that will fit the bill, but I'm wondering if anyone with more travel experience has tips.  How do you avoid over packing?  What are your go to pieces for travelling?  Any suggestions for sandals that are pretty and practical (I need a new pair for work anyway)?  Any tips are appreciated!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Toronto Women's Half Marathon Training: Weeks 1-4

I can't believe I haven't updated the blog with my training for the past month!

I am currently training for my second half marathon, the Toronto Women's Half Marathon at the end of May.  It's a relatively small race (I believe 1,500 runners compared to the 19,000 runners in the Princess Half Marathon) and the route is fairly flat, running in three out-and-back legs in a beautiful park.  I have done two 5k races with the same group before (see my reports here and here), and they are well run and intimate feeling.  I'm really looking forward to this being my second half!

The "medal" for the race is also a beautiful necklace, designed by Foxy Originals:

Toronto Women's Half Marathon Finisher's Memento
My training plan originally included speed work and strength training, which ended up being a little too ambitious.  I've been lucky enough to get out to run at least three days a week, and focused on one run being a tempo or race pace, one being long, and one being easy.  If I get in a fourth run it is also a tempo or race pace run.

Over the past four weeks I have done three long runs, getting up to 11km.  I planned to do a 13km run yesterday but the weather was crappy and my stomach was acting up.  I cut it short and thought I would do a 13km run after work today.  It turns out that planning a 13km run after a full day of work isn't the best plan.  I ended up going out for a quick almost 5km run instead.

I've realized that I will miss runs, even long runs, during any given training cycle.  I've accidentally worked some wiggle room into my schedules in the past and worked a bit into this one on purpose.  I have a week "off" at the end of the month because I'm travelling - hopefully I will do a couple easy runs while I'm away - and was planning to ease back in with a repeat of a previous LSD run but instead will go to the next distance in the progression instead.

For details of my last four weeks of training, you can see all the posts on my DailyMile profile.