Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Race Report: Toronto Women's Half Marathon

I'll start by saying that this half marathon was very different from the Princess Half.  I was on my own but with friends, I was in a familiar environment on a familiar course (5k of it anyway, from last year's Toronto Women's Runs 5k events) and I had done this once before so my nerves were a different sort of nerves- more the known than the unknown.

Pre-race I found Lyndsey near the baggage check where we had planned, more or less, to meet up.  I had also planned to meet up with Andrea if possible, but we didn't find her until we were in the starting corrals.  The American and I had thought we left plenty of time to find parking but apparently we were wrong- our parking spot was super far away (though near a real bathroom with no line!) and we were pressed for time once we got to the starting area.  I was still feeding my headphone cord through my shirt as we rushed off to our corral.  We grumbled about wearing our fuel belts but I was so glad to have mine during the race, despite the extra weight.

Lyndsey and I ready to go (almost)!

For the first 9km or so I ran with Lyndsay and Andrea.  I was really glad I found them both before the race and that we were able to keep each other company for the first half or so of the race.  We chatted a bit and all stuck to 5/1s, keeping a decent pace while running.  I was trying to stay on pace to finish in 2:30 and by the 10k mark I was right on target.  I had my 5/10/15/20 splits written on my hand with the pace I needed to run to meet my goal.  At the 8k mark we had a party because I wasn't throwing up.  WIN.  (Spoiler alert because this is the only picture I have of my splits- I didn't meet my goal.)

My finish time, my STRENGTH bracelet and my splits/pace.

At some point in the first 10k, my brother who lives in Toronto passed us on the route.  I got a high five while he "cheered embarrassingly loud" as promised.  Seeing him during the race was such a neat and unexpected moment.  I knew he had run all the way out to Sunnybrook, changing his morning run plan so he could cheer me on, and I felt pretty lucky.  Later in the route, around the 10k point, my brother found me again and ran with me for about 15 minutes.

At this point, I lost Andrea and Lyndsey because they were slowing down a bit right when my brother was making me speed up.  Between an injury for Lyndsey and Andrea running another half only a couple weeks ago, who could blame them?  They were superstars for running at all.  I would have DNS'ed the heck out of the race if I were them.  The course was a Y-shaped out and back which means I got to see both of them a couple times during the remainder of the race which was great.  Lyndsey even got a picture of me on the course.

Clearly rocking out.

My brother and I got to chat a bit and he showed me how fast I am capable of running.  I thought a lot about how I never would have imagined running with him, let alone running at all.  I maintained a good pace for a while after he left me.  At the 15k mark I was only about one minute off pace from meeting my goal time.

Image Source: Ryder Photography

Somewhere around the 18k mark I started to fall apart.  I had had a few rough moments prior to that, walking for 2 minutes instead of 1 minute or walking up a particularly hard hill (I'm looking at you, 16k mark...)  Prior to the 15k mark, my average pace for each 5k split ranged from 6:39 to 6:48, which would have been good if I had managed to maintain it for the last 5k split.

Unfortunately my right knee was starting to really hurt and the sun was beating down on me.  I got to that stupid parking lot that is right near the finish and couldn't muster the enthusiasm to run through it.  Stupid parking lot.  My average pace for the last 5k or so was 7:36.  I knew at the 20k mark when I was already past 2:25 that I wouldn't make my goal, but I also knew that I would finish - a strange feeling to be disappointed and proud of myself at the same time.

Image Source: Ryder Photography

Running through the crowds towards the finish was an amazing moment for me.  I could hear the crowds cheering and the announcer.  I was getting goosebumps, thinking about how far I had just pushed myself and how far I have come in the last year.  In fact, it was exactly one year ago that I had crossed the finish line of my first 5k ever.  It was surreal.

Running into the finish

A contemplative moment I think :-)

Coming across the finish I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry.  I was pretty close to doing both.  The woman next to me said "great job" and we high fived and got our finisher's necklaces.  I went to find The American so I could cheer in Andrea and Lyndsey while getting some much needed snacks and water.  When I found him, my right knee was toast but I was ecstatic.  Regardless of my finish time, I had done it.  I had faced a challenge, and while I was helped along the way by good friends and my brother, at the end of the day I had to find it in me to push to the finish and I did.

Andrea and I after the race

Andrea, Lyndsey and I after the race
he official stats:
  • Official time: 2:43:28.1
  • Chip time: 2:36:50.1
  • Category place: 104/120
  • Overall place: 949/1165

As far as general comments about the event, I loved it which didn't surprise me.  The Toronto Women's Runs events are really well organized and enjoyable no matter your speed.  The race kits are great (water bottle, Luna bar, Foxy Originals coupon, tech t-shirt) as are the sponsors and people involved in the event.  The volunteers are fantastic, as is the location.  We even got a beautiful necklace instead of a medal for finishing.  The only thing I would change is the tech shirts, as they never seem to fit quite right, running on the small side.  Overall though I'd definitely recommend their events.

And my reward for finishing my second half marathon?  Another race entry of course!  Andrea and Lyndsey both mentioned running the 15k at the Midsummer Night's Run in August and I had been talking to a friend about running it, plus it's on my race bucket list.  I finally signed up on Monday.  Now I just have to order my fairy wings and I'll be set!

(Image source for all race photos is Ryder Photography.  As in previous Toronto Women's Runs events, I was very impressed with them.  They take great photos (partially because you can see where they are and you're "ready" for them) and lots of them, and the service as far as getting them up and indexed is really fast.)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Endorphin Warrior Giveaway Winner!

The winner of the Endorphin Warrior giveaway is Melissa at @thehoneybee!  Melissa chose "breathe"
"because being mindful of my breath is key for me while running longer distances"
Melissa, you have one week to claim your prize or a new winner will be chosen.  I emailed you tonight; please email me back as soon as you can!

Thanks to all for reading, following and entering!  Your comments were all very inspirational and I wish I could give a bracelet to all of you.  I encourage you all to check out Endorphin Warrior and to order a bracelet if you didn't win.  I love mine and it pushed me to a strong finish at the Toronto Women's Half Marathon this past weekend.  Race report to come!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Race Goals: Toronto Women's Half Marathon

Tomorrow I am running my second half marathon. Those are words I never thought I would say- especially considering that I never thought I would run a first half marathon, let alone more than one! I met a friend for lunch today and he still doesn't believe I'm a runner. We've known each other for more than 20 years and the idea of me running kind of blows his mind. Frankly, I feel the same way.

I'm writing this post from my phone because this is the first second I have had to post something about my goals for this race. It will be brief because I'm typing on a phone and I also haven't had much time to think about my goals. This race, to be honest, has snuck up on me a bit. I followed a training plan but the giant gap in my long runs is making tomorrow's race seem a little surreal.

C goal- finish up right and smiling in less than 3 hours. My terrible, sick 10k was about 1:23 so even if I repeat that performance (knock on wood that I don't!!) I can finish in under 3 hours.

B goal- finish before my playlist runs out, which is 2:48. This time isn't really based on anything other than the playlist length and wanting a number between my A and C goals. Somewhere around 2:45 would be a "didn't go as well as I would have liked but still good" goal. If I run about 7:30 to 7:45 a minute I will hit this.

A goal- 2:30. I'm really focusing my energy on this. It would be a PR by one minute. Really though my A goal I would say is anywhere less than about 2:35. I ran 2:31 at the Princess but so many things are different now that might slow me down, including not having my sister pace me and no castle to motivate me. If I keep my pace below 7:00, around 6:47 accordingly to the calculator I used, I will hit this using 5:1s.

I'm pretty excited about this race though admittedly nervous to see what I will be able to achieve on my own steam. I have always really enjoyed the TO Women's Runs events so i am looking forward to a great event no matter how well I run.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I'm Still Grooving...

My last long run on Monday was awesome.  An amazing 17k that left me feeling very confident about this weekend's race.  I wish I had more time to write about it but this week has flown by and there were just too many things to do!

On that note, I haven't had the time to go through the entries for the Endorphin Warrior giveaway and verify them before picking a winner.  I will pick a winner first thing next week and announce it here as well as e-mailing the person if they have provided an e-mail address.  Sorry for the delay!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Focusing My Energy

"I will give less energy to dread.  I will trust my training.  I will do my best not to be afraid."
- Kristin Armstrong, Mile Markers
My second half marathon is in less than a week.  At this point in my training for my last half marathon, I had run 18k, was well into tapering, and had run a 5k race that morning.  Although I felt scared, I also felt ready.

This time around, I don't feel scared in the same way because I have done it before and I know my body is capable of finishing the race.  But I don't feel ready, not even a little.  And so I feel scared - scared because the unknown is known, and I know all the ways I can fall apart out there during 13.1 miles.

My last long run was over a month ago- thinking about it in that context makes me feel even less ready.  I remember it was an amazing run, 15k that clicked by faster than I thought it would and I felt amazing afterwards.  But since then I have travelled, run a 10k race instead of a long run, been sick and today the weather got in the way in a new way - it was just too hot to be out there pounding out at a long run.

And so here I am - with all the best intentions going into this training cycle, I have let it fall by the wayside and fall apart.  I think in part it was my own cockiness, knowing that I have done it once and it must be easy to do it again.  Somewhere along the line I lost respect for the distance, a respect that is so very important.

Tomorrow morning I am getting up early to put in one more long run.  I have mapped out 17k.  I know that ideally this week is for tapering - even last week should have been tapering - but this half will be far from my ideal race.  I'm not doing it for time, I'm doing it for the experience and to get through it.  So having fresh legs is less on my mind than having legs that are confident and remember they can do this.

I was reading Mile Markers tonight, thinking about tomorrow's run and wishing I was the runner that Kristin Armstrong is.  In the chapter Hills, she talked about a half marathon she was scared of because of the hills, and the fear that she would be left behind or not finish.  She said she could feel the fear and dread of the other runners around her as they approached difficult points in the course.  There was a gruelling hill and she choose to focus on keeping on, on putting one foot in front of the other, and she got through it.  She was capable of it.

She ended that story with the quote above, which really spoke to me.  I'm going to do my best to keep it in mind tomorrow, and throughout the next week and throughout the race next week.  I am capable.  I have trained, maybe not to my highest potential but I have trained.  I will not waste time on dread and fear that I can spend in more productive ways.  I will get out there, I will put my feet to the pavement again, and I will finish my last long run and the race too.

I was going to add "somehow" to the end of that sentence but that's just falling back into fear and dread, so I won't.  I will finish.  Period.

"I will give less energy to dread.  I will trust my training.  I will do my best not to be afraid."
- Kristin Armstrong, Mile Markers

Thursday, May 17, 2012

How I Got My Groove Back (& a giveaway!)

As you know, this past weekend I had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad run at a race.  (Didn't hear about it yet?  Check out the race report here.)

Last night, I headed out for a run, not sure how far I was planning on running, whether I would take walking breaks, or how I would feel.  I just knew it was a lovely day and I needed and wanted to get out there.  With my second half marathon coming up in ten days (eek! TEN DAYS!), I had to get back on the wagon with my training.  I have been feeling off since our trip and the long break in running, and haven't even had a decent long run in a few weeks.

I pulled on my new running skirt to test it out, a t-shirt as it was a little cool, my visor because it was so sunny, left the Garmin at home, and hit the road.  And I ran.  I ran and ran and ran.  Where I used to take walking breaks, I just kept running.  I ended up running the whole route - just under 6km - without any walking breaks or stopping or slowing down, other than at stoplights and stop signs.

I ran along the street until the canal, along the canal (which is finally filled and looking lovely and ready for summer!) to the locks, and down the locks to the river, along the river path until I reached the sidewalk that lead me home, and home again.  I was out for about 45 minutes and I felt great the whole time.  (It was my favourite route in reverse.)  I had my groove back.  Thank goodness.

I put on one other very important thing before I left the house: my Endorphin Warrior training bracelet.  After admiring them on other people's blogs and giveaways ever since last year's nuun Hood to Coast team wore them, I finally ordered one recently.  I had never been able to decide on which word I wanted until the Saucony Find Your Strong project started.  Then I knew exactly what word I needed: STRENGTH.

I think my bracelet had magic powers on that run.  I found my strong and kicked some pavement butt.  I didn't run fast or even particularly far - but for me it was a success.

The bracelet was soft and comfortable, even when I got it wet washing my hands before my run.  It stayed out of the way and fit perfectly.  I hardly noticed it was there, even though I knew it was there.  It was a source of strength, inspiration and comfort.

The training bracelets are available with many different words and phrases.  You can see all the different choices here.  If you would like an Endorphin Warrior training bracelet of your own, here's your chance - they have generously offered one bracelet to a lucky reader!  Check out the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 14, 2012

Race Report: Starbucks Run for Women 10k

Also known as "a very humbling 10k".

On Saturday morning when I woke up, I was not ready to be out of bed at all!  We had driven from Ottawa to Toronto the night before and went out for dinner.  We stayed about 30 minutes from the race site but wanted to leave a buffer for traffic and finding parking.  I showered and got dressed, at which point my stomach started churning.  I've been known to have a nervous stomach (I used to throw up on the first day of school every year) so I brushed it off as race day nerves.

I didn't think I could eat anything but knew that I couldn't run 10k on an empty stomach either.  I grabbed my nuun and the Cheerios from my race kit, hoping the promises of free Starbucks at the race site were true.  Luckily they were and I got some caffeine once we got there.  It was a little chilly at first so I stayed warm with my coffee and my hoodie.

Hmmm maybe need a black or pink hoodie...
 Standing around in the sun warmed me up pretty fast so I started rocking my race outfit.  My stomach continued to act up but I kept brushing it off, sure that I would feel better once I started running as that's how it usually works with my tummy issues.

Go Team Sparkle!
One of the features that attracted me to the event was a motivational keynote before the start by Canadian Olympian Catriona Le May Doan.  She did not disappoint.  She spoke passionately and eloquently about her Olympic experiences, from falling and finishing last to winning three Olympic medals.  She ran the 5k that day as well, and stayed around afterwards to sign autographs and speak with the runners.  I wish I had stayed but my stomach had other ideas!

Catriona Le May Doan is up there!
The race took place in a pretty small town outside of Toronto.  The route started by going up Main Street.  It was lined with lovely shops and they even brought out the ladder truck!  The American took this picture of one of the leaders in an awesome pair of tights:

There were no corrals and I was running a little late to the start after a last minute bathroom break.  I stuck myself into the crowd and ended up near the front of the pack.  If I had performed anywhere near my expectations for the day, this might have been a good thing.  In the end, it resulted in 300 people passing me and telling me how much they liked my skirt.  Loved the compliments; hated being reminded that I was being passed every five seconds.  I felt strong at the beginning and kept up a good pace for the first couple of kilometres.

After Main Street, the majority of the race was actually around local running/cycling trails.  Overall it was really beautiful, through woods and parks and over a lot of pretty little bridges.  The first 2k were good.  Around the 3k mark the sun was really beating down on me and my stomach was acting up again.  I lost my stride and started walking more.  I had to "pull over" a few times because I thought I was going to be sick.  I picked things up in for the last 750m or so of the first 5k because we went back down Main Street so the 5k runners could go to the start/finish line.

I was seriously considering cutting my race short.  I felt physically terrible and mentally spent.  I felt like every single runner had passed me, including all the 10k runners I had started with and all the 5k runners that had started 5-10 minutes after me.  I was finished.

Luckily I saw The American near that point.  I grabbed my fuel belt and nuun from my bag hoping it would help.  Some encouragement from him, a quick kiss and a reminder that I was on pace (I had finished 5k in about 35 minutes) was what I needed to hit the road for the rest of the run.

Photo source: My Sports Shooter

I started to find my pace again after that, and found two lovely women to run with for a few kilometres.  They were doing 10:1s as well and we chatted a bit and encouraged each other.  I decided to just enjoy the race because I knew I wasn't going to hit my "A" goal after falling apart for such a long stretch.  I began to realize that while I wasn't in last (maybe my worst fear), I was in the back of the pack.  I began to accept it and settled in to running as well as I could.

I was trying to stay hydrated but kept telling the ladies I was running with that I knew I was dehydrated - I was so thirsty and my lips were dry - but I was afraid of drinking anything because my stomach was still acting up.  I sipped water and nuun when I could, and decided against eating the Honey Stingers I had in my belt.

At about the 8k mark I looked at my Garmin and saw my time was 1:05.  I knew I wasn't going to hit 1:10 (obviously) and I probably wouldn't even hit 1:20.  I was okay with that.

Throughout the race I just kept telling myself that I was strong and I run this body, I own this body, I can do this.  Then around the 8.5k mark my worst fear - even worse than coming in last I would say - came true - I had to pull over and I was sick.  Crazy sick.  I can't remember the last time I threw up that much (sorry for the TMI, folks).  So many runners asked if I was okay and a course volunteer on a bike stayed with me until I was sure I could keep going.  It was not a pretty sight.

I felt terrible but somehow I felt better after, like I just needed to get it all out.  I knew I had around 1k to go and I rallied to the end, taking another short walking break and running in to the finish.  The last 1k might be my best other than the first couple.  I haven't checked my splits yet to know for sure.  The American found me near the finish and got another shot:

I have never been so happy to finish a race.  That, combined with finishing so close to last that the finish line was clear, meant for an awesome finishing photo:

Photo source: My Sports Shooter

The ladies I had run with had kept going when I was sick (don't worry they offered to stay like awesome runners) but were at the finish when I came through.  I don't know if they stayed and waited on purpose, but one came over to make sure I was okay and apologized for leaving me behind.  I really appreciated that.  

I got my finisher's bracelet (so adorable!) some water from the awesome volunteers, and made my way back to the staging area (a short walk from the start/finish) for some quick food and stretching.  My stomach was still a little off - turns out it wasn't just nerves after all because I spent the rest of the day in bed with some sort of stomach flu that I hope never returns.  

My poor performance has me a little mentally down for the half coming up, but I'm writing it off as a sick day race and telling myself the half will be better.

Overall the event was great and I would participate again.  I hear they may be expanding to other cities next year, including Ottawa, and I hope that's true!

Things I liked:

  • An amazing keynote speaker 
  • Great swag, including the shirt and the finisher's bracelet
  • Amazing volunteers directing you where to go and cheering their hearts out 
  • Amazing runners who were supportive and gave me kleenex when I was sick 
  • Beautiful course
  • The layout of the course meant you ran by the central part with the crowds and your support team a couple times

Things I would change:

  • Even in a small race, some sort of corral system or "line up by your expected finish time" system is nice for organization
  • Having food at the finish line so you go past it right away instead of having to hunt for it
  • The layout of the course also meant you didn't see any support people or spectators most of the time

The stats:

Time: 1:22:55
Pace (per mile - provided): 13:21
Pace (per km - my math): 8:17
Place: 313/343
Division Place: 23/24

Event photos were taken by My Sports Shooter.  They were available the same day as the event and indexed by the following morning.  I was really impressed with their pictures as well as their service, from what I saw of it as a runner.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Race Goals: Starbucks Run for Women 10k

This Saturday I am running in my second 10k event (I hesitate to call it a race because really, I'm not racing anyone but myself), the Starbucks Run for Women.  We were going to be in Toronto to see friends this weekend anyway, and I just couldn't resist the small, all female event and the girly swag:

Foxy Originals finisher's bracelet

Sweet technical running shirt
Not to mention the fact that by this point in my training for a half marathon, I am getting kind of anxious to touch a starting line - any starting line!  Remember my 5k race in the dead of winter in Ottawa leading up to the Princess Half?  Exactly.  (See that race report here.)

Now onto my goals for the race!  I haven't done race goals in a while using the ABC form and I think I will this time around.

C goal: Finish in around 1:20.  If I treat this run as a long slow run and maintain my usual LSD pacing and 10:1 intervals, this should be easy.

B goal: Finish in around 1:15.  This would be a nice balance between taking it easy and pushing myself to my goal, which is probably the best and most likely outcome.  I would need to either pick up my pace, run more than 10 minutes at a time, or a combination of both. I do think this goal will be a bit of a challenge for me, but not as much as beating my current PR.

A goal: Get a new PR by coming in under 1:11:54.  Looking at my race report from the Zoo Run (my only other 10k), I can see that while I did negative split, I lagged in my fifth 10 minute running interval, with my average pace being just above 7:00 instead of below as I had planned to run.  I think if I keep all my running intervals under 7:00 - which I think should be relatively easy since I had excess energy to dance around while running in the Zoo Run, shaving 2 minutes off my time shouldn't be difficult.  I can't decide if I really want to push myself this hard though, especially given my plan to run another 5-7 km after the race to hit my distance for the weekend.

It's also not too late to make a donation to this run's charity, Because I Am A Girl.  For more information visit their website or check out my blog post on the topic.  If you want to donate, please visit my donation page.  Every little bit helps!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bad Runs, Good Runs and Team Tough Chik!

On Sunday I headed out for my first long run in three weeks.  My last long run was 15k on April 15th, just before we left for our trip to Europe.  My original plan called for me to ease back into my long runs when I got back, ideally dropping back and picking it up again.  But then I missed a long run before the trip, signed up for a 10k two weeks before my half, and apparently went crazy.  Those three things added up to me thinking I could do 17k on Sunday.

Shockingly enough, I couldn't do 17k.  I ended up cutting the route short and only running 13.5k.  The good news is that I didn't stop because of pain.  I probably could have kept going if I really pushed myself, and thinking back now I regret not pushing harder.  But overall it wasn't a great run and it might have been better to listen to my body on this one.

I wasn't able to get out running again on Monday or Tuesday, so I really wanted to get out today and tomorrow, knowing I have my 10k on Saturday morning.  I told myself (and the twitterverse) that I was going to run after my chiropractor appointment, full stop.

I got home and the weather was looking iffy.  I decided to put on my rain jacket and longer bottoms and head out.  As I was tying my shoes, it started to pour.  I didn't want to head out in the pouring rain but wouldn't give up, so I kept all my gear on an waited for it to clear up.

The rain let up a bit so I decided to head out.  Little did I know the pouring rain, thunder and lightening was coming!  I got soaked on my short run around my neighbourhood.  I had left my Garmin at home and decided to just enjoy myself, and I did!  I let the rain fall on me, ran the whole thing and sang out loud no matter who was looking at me.  I looked like a crazy person and loved every minute.  It was exactly what I needed to recover from Sunday's run.

I had been thinking of joining Team Tough Chik and decided on my run that running through the pouring rain, thunder and lightening definitely earned me my spot!  I came home and joined as soon as I decided whether to get the visor (I went with just the singlet) and figured out my size.

I am proud to be a member of Team Tough Chik and I'm looking forward to the adventures and friendships I know it will lead to.  If you want to join Team Tough Chik, definitely check out the link!  Spring registration closes on May 13th.

Lastly, I'm still deciding what to do about my race on Saturday morning.  It is a 10k race and I would like to do at least 15k for my long run this weekend.  Would you do a second 5-7k after the race (in my case it will probably be 45 minutes or so after I finish)?  Would it bring me the same benefits as 15-17k continuous?  I probably will not have the chance to run on Sunday due to travelling.  I also have to decide my goals for the race - stay tuned!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Fundraising: Because I Am A Girl

We are planning to visit friends in Toronto this weekend so I spontaneously signed up for a 10k (I never thought I would utter that phrase!)  I have to get in a long run over the weekend anyway, so I plan to do the 10k plus tack another another 7km or so afterwards.  (The runs won't be exactly concurrent - probably an hour or so between them - will that still get me to where I need to be training wise?)

The race is part of the Starbucks Run for Women which raises funds for the Because I Am A Girl Ghana School Project.

Half a million children in Ghana have no place to go to school. This primary school in Ghana will have six classrooms, 80 students, teachers trained in gender equality, a school well, and, unlike most schools in the developing world, separate washrooms for boys and girls.

Because I Am A Girl believes:
  • Girls have the right to be educated.
  • Girls have the right to eat.
  • Girls have the right to healthcare.
  • Girls have the right to be treated with respect.
  • Girls have the right to be safe.
  • Girls have the right to pursue their dreams.
  • Girls have the right to the same opportunities as their brothers.

Their goal is to engage one million girls, women – and all the people who matter to them – to raise money for projects such as clean water and food security, health care and education and livelihood initiatives, like micro finance.

Join the movement and make a difference today!  I made a donation in honour of my mom as her Mother's Day gift.  If you want to donate, please check out my donation page here.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

April Foodie Pen Pal Reveal - For Real!

I received an awesome package from my foodie pen pal this month, including lots of lovely tasty treats, from Jessica at Dairy Free Betty.

The package was based on her true loves (besides her husband) - sushi, chocolate and Bath and Body Works.  She said Lululemon was on the list too, but it's hard to pack!

She managed to package her husband in the box by including cloudberry jam, from Newfoundland where her husband is from.  I can't wait to try this out.  There were a couple recipes on the car that suggested using it in savoury dishes like with chicken.  Sounds yummy!

The hand cream from Bath and Body Works is White Citrus.  It smells amazing!  I took it to work and put it my desk drawer because my hands get so dry at the office.

She sent some dried seaweed that we might use to try and make sushi for the first time ever:

She sent some delicious looking chocolate that I might even share with The American if he is nice, since he loves dark chocolate:

Lastly, she sent some coconut butter, which I have always wanted to try.  Only thing is, I'm not sure how to go about eating it!  I am thinking on toast or a bagel?  How do you eat coconut butter?

I haven't had a chance to eat the treats yet, but I can't wait!  I think I will eat some of the chocolate after dinner tonight.

If you want to join the Foodie Pen Pals program, check out my original reveal post for more info.