Friday, February 28, 2014

Going for 24

The weather around here has been frightful this winter (but I'm starting to think it's been frightful everywhere).  Tonight it is supposed to feel like -41C with tomorrow being much the same.  After a careful look at those horrid temperatures, I called in my Mom to watch the kids yesterday so I could do a long run.  It was a balmy -3C.  A number of factors played against me on this run though - let me explain.

About two weeks ago my middle came down with a cold, which spread to the toddler this past weekend and my hubby.  Early in the week I could feel the cold sitting in my chest but it wasn't progressing to anything worse.  Yesterday morning the middle was having a coughing fit at the breakfast table when he became physically ill.  A quick call to my Mom who reassured me she had an iron stomach, and could watch both the middle and the toddler (the middle was supposed to be headed to preschool).  I set off to take the eldest to school and start the run.

I knew my iphone5 would die minutes into the run.  It's extremely tempermental about the cold.  Word to the wise - buy a different phone or if adamant about iphones, a 4.  My hubby's phone has none of the issues mine does.  About 1K into the run though, my ipod froze.  24K is a pipedream without tunes.  Unfortunately when an ipod freezes, the only way to unfreeze it is to plug it into the charger, simultaneously press the play and menu button together, and it will reset.  Of course I tried my phone and thought I'd listen to it until it died, but no, already dead.  Darn!

A quick stop down the road at the 7-11 for Gatorade, I asked if they had a charger.  All sold out.  I comitted myself to having alot of time to think, and off I went.  I found some gorgeous pathways and tunnels to run through, and got to 10K when I just knew that I was going to quit unless I could get some music back.  I put out a plea for "help".  Not one to talk boldly about my faith, something amazing happened next.  I was told that He could reset the Ipod.  Unsure if I was just being crazy, or if it was worth trying it, I decided to try it.  What was there to lose?  So I pulled out the ipod and pressed the two buttons.  Nothing.  When I felt a prompting to try the home and menu button.  And you know what?  IT RESET!  I actually said "Ha!" and "Thank you!".  A gentle push to not have my debit and license in the same pocket or it would happen again, and I was off with music again, and a surprisingly lighter step.  Shortly after "miracle" number 2 would happen.

I got onto the pathway I'm familar with near my kids schools, and took a wrong turn.  I could see a school in front of me but it didn't look like the HighSchool I was expecting.  When I got closer I realized it was my daughters school where I had parked.  My Garmin said exactly 15K.  This will become important in just a minute.  I was familar with a 9K loop I could run that would get me to the 24K I was hoping for, so I set off.

At 20K, guess what died?  My Garmin.  I have had my Garmin for about 11 years.  Never once has it ever turned itself off.  I tried to turn it on.  It said 0 battery left, but the battery bar said it was full.  The only loss I really had, was for my walk breaks, as I knew that I would get to 24K by following the route back.  So I continued on without the Garmin (but with music!), and ran back to the school, stopping occasionally to walk when it felt like an ok amount of time.  I'm still pretty in awe about hitting the distance exactly thanks to a wrong turn that put me at the perfect starting point for a loop I knew, and about the ipod.  Such a crazy, but amazing run!

Today, the cold has hit hard.  My legs feel good, but my body is run down, and the cold has taken over.  Lots of hibernating and rest this weekend as the cold weather sinks in.  I'm wishing for Spring (and a new Garmin - ha ha!).

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Knit Parade - Heather Hoodie Vest

This was my January project for my knit group, but I actually started this sweater/vest back in 2013 (the Spring or Summer I believe).  Maybe I knew this project would end up languishing for awhile, which is why I never set a start date.

Most other Ravellers have knit it in a short amount of time, which is no surprise given it is knit with bulky yarn on big needles.  It should fly off fast!

I made a couple of mods on this project, the first knitting the body one inch longer than the pattern called for.  The second was the hood.  As other knitters had commented, the hood as per pattern would be quite huge.  I knit it to ten inches before beginning the decreases.  I also found a standard bind off to be quite tight to comfortably pull it over your head, so around the top of the hood I used an elastic bind off.

I love this hoodie and have already worn it alot.  A great layering piece for the temps we see here late winter, Spring, and Fall.

Yarn:  Cascade Eco colorway 8010
Pattern Link:  Heather Hoodie Vest

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Running Mom

There was a time, about 8 years ago now (wow!), where all of my free time was devoted to running.  I started running marathons in 2002, and quickly fell in love with them.  I often tell first time marathon runners, that you will either hate the distance, or you will fall in love with it.  I was newly married, had my first marathon (Calgary) under my belt, and quickly dove in to run others.  I even taught (and worked!), for a brief time at the Running Room.  After (to me), a devastating finish in Victoria in 2004, I hired a personal coach.  I worked downtown, and at lunchtime, after work, and on the weekends, I trained.  I cycled, lifted weights, and I ran.  I was working towards a Boston Qualifier (BQ).  Much thanks to the personal training I received, I reached that goal running Calgary for a second time in 2005, with a finish time of 3:39:40 (I needed under 3:40 for my age and sex).  My trainer told me he thought I could get faster.  Would I want to keep training?  And I made a choice.  What my husband and I really wanted was a family. That summer we found ourselves pregnant with our first daughter.  And I wouldn't change any of it.

Since my son was born in 2010, I have been a stay at home Mom.  My three kids are my full time job.  I haven't trained for a marathon since I only had my eldest daughter, running Goofy in 2009.  This jump to run Calgary in June, is my first time as a Mom of two, and as a Mom of three.  Finding a way to meet their needs, and my running needs, is a fine balance.

Last night, all three tucked in, my son woke at midnight.  I got him back to bed, and the littlest started waking, inconsolable, every 30 minutes.  By 3 am, and a dose of tylenol, she was fairing no better, and I was quickly realizing, a run of 24K was no longer a possibility.  Running that distance would have been a milestone in itself, but it was unattainable on no sleep.

By 7 am I was up with all three, the babe still crying, and I had to figure out a new attack plan.  I knew deep down it wouldn't be 24, but it also couldn't be 10.  I need to stick as close as possible to training.  It was -16C outside, with a windchill making it feel like -22C, and it was lightly snowing.  With my hubby's prompting, we decided it was best I try to run the distance on the treadmill.  That way if I got tired, I was already at home.

I managed 19K.  That in and of itself on a treadmill, makes me extremely proud.  I watched three episodes of The Good Wife.  By the third I just couldn't take any more law - ha!  And my legs just didn't want to turn over anymore.  2 hours and 10 minutes of running.  And that latte at the end was just a few steps away in my kitchen.

I think of all those marathon Moms, who 6 months post partum, still run world record times.  It's unbelievable to me.

And last night, in the middle of the night while thinking "how can I run 24 this tired?" I also thought "this may happen on race day too, perhaps it's good to know how far I can go with so little rest".

I'm in such a different training place now than I was a decade ago, and I'm glad I had those years of being able to focus on this passion of mine.  Now it's a new challenge.  And this challenge comes with some pretty cute cheerleaders at the finish line :)

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Eve before the long run

Tomorrow marks the second long run of my marathon training - and my longest run to date.  The Hypothermic Half was just over 21.5K.  Tomorrow I'm scheduled to run 24.  And of couse because I have a long run to do, the temperature is dropping to -12C (without windchill.  I'm hoping there is no windchill).

I'm always a mix of nervous, and excited, the day before a new distance will hopefully be acheived.  Nervous with the "can I do this?" and "how much will it hurt?" ha ha, paired with the excitement of visualizing that new number on my Garmin.

I will say I've been having trouble wanting to get out the door for my shorter runs during the week, and have been searching for ways to stay motivated.  Leaving myself notes to pick up along the route?  Having my husband leave notes for me?  Those thoughts were fleeting as I couldnt' see a way to really make it work, or have him willing to participate in such craziness!  But, at least for my long runs, I've started a trend.

I run to coffee.  I don't run a loop, I run direct, then have my people pick me up.  The first time was last Saturday.  They enjoyed it as much as me.  Hot coffee in hand, and we zipped through a Tim Hortons on the way home for mini donuts for the kids.  When I mentioned to my hubby I had planned my route for tomorrow to end at a Starbucks, he was happy to come get me, saying he really enjoyed it last time.

Here's to 24 tomorrow.  I can do this!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

2014 Race Line Up

Shhhh.... I have a secret....

It seems 2014 is the year for me to make new goals as the year progresses.  With a run under my belt in January, and now one in February, I've decided to run a race for each month of 2014.  There has been much calendar checking, and race googling, to come up with the following list.  I'm pretty darn excited about these:

January - MEC Race 1.  Check!
February - Hypothermic Half Marathon - yes!
March - ready? This one is alot of fun - Lavaman 5K
April - MEC Race 2
May - MEC Race 3 (you can't beat these.  $15 to run a race.  Plus, I've read running 5K races to be a good indicator of marathon finishing time.  Kind of excited (have I said that alot in this post?), to have some "small" runs to race)
June - the BIG one.  Calgary Marathon.  Swallow.  42.2K.  Egad!
July - Not sure yet.  There are so many summer races I'm going to wait and grab a fun one.  Maybe trail?
August - same as July.
September - ooh September.  I started out by wanting to race Melissa's.  It was my first race I ever ran back in 2002.  But even getting a race spot is ridiculous.  This is where the thought train of this race list even came from.  I decided to try out some new things, instead of always running the old.  A girl determined for fancy medals, I looked into Canmore Cause, but couldn't figure out if all finishers received a medal, or just the top three.  So I started internet researching for the answer, and a blog (can't remember which now sorry), pointed me to the Drumheller Half.  A medal with a dinosaur chasing a runner?  Yes!  Plus to run through the badlands.  Beautiful.  September will bring me to Drum.
October - MEC Race 7.
November - Banff Winterstart?
December - more than likely this will be Catch the Elves.

That's a total race distance of 158.5 (if July and August end up being 10K races).  Crazy cakes.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ravellenics Knitting

When my eldest turned 3, I knit her a birthday dress.  She coined it her "party dress", and has worn it to every birthday party she has attended, since the age of 3.  She will be 7 in May.  Thankfully the dress was meant to be worn for that long, going from dress to tunic, but it has had alot of love, and a new dress needed to be knit.
Brand new Birthday dress.  Age 3.
Wearing her birthday dress.  Age 6.

We picked out her favorite colours, pink and purple (do 5-7 year old girls ever love a colour other than pink and purple?), and a super cute pattern.  Check it out! (Image taken from designers page on Ravelry).

Still working on my monthly knitting challenges, this dress became the challenge for February.  I decided it was my #1, which was to knit something from my Favorite listings on Ravelry.  I added this one to that list back in June.  However, February also brings the Olympics, and with it Ravellenics.  Ravellenics in short, is a knitterly "competition" with oneself, to knit as many objects as you wish, during the Olympics, with "medals" given out by "Bobicus Maximus" (a cute dog image on Ravelry.  Not sure if he is an actual dog in real life).   So how do I fit in knitting for the Olympics, and also work on Grace's dress.  The only solution was to do the crazy, and try to knit her dress, start to finish, during the Olympics!

A few days before, I set about winding the balls of yarn into skeins, washing them to make sure there would be no dye transfer, drying them, then rewinding them into cakes (not the edible kind.  Cakes of yarn.  Knitting can be so deceiving).  

I've gotten through the body of the dress (a little concerned it will be too short, but hoping I can fix that by blocking), the seed stitch waistband (so sweet), and now onto inches and inches of plain stockinette.  Just over a week left in the Olympics, and I must say I'm feeling a bit like this may have been biting off more than I can chew.  But I'm giving it my best shot.  Here's where I'm at as of this moment:

I have about another 7 inches to knit straight, before I start on the edging.  

Big thanks for this post go out to my inlaws, who have taken the big two on a shopping trip, while the littlest naps, after also bringing me a Venti Caramel Macchiato.  They are here until Monday, and with their help with the kids, I may just be able to pull this off!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sweet Valentine Delights

Thursday mornings after dropping my big two at school, I've been taking the littlest and meeting up with a friend to visit.  It was at our visit last week that she mentioned she was making a Pinterest treat for Valentines.  I have a Pinterest account, but don't use it frequently.  The treat involved chocolate and pretzels.  With a weakness for the combination of salty and sweet, I asked her to send me the 'pin'.

These are so good I can't properly describe them.  I do know almost everytime I walk by the fridge I pop one into my mouth.  (I found at room temperature they tend to stay too soft).

To make:

First, get some little people to do the legwork for you of taking off all the wrappers from the Hershey Hugs.

While they were doing that (with their Dad's help), I assembled the pretzels on a cookie sheet lined with parchment, and heated the oven to 200F.

Put a Hugs in the center of each pretzel, bake in the oven for 3 minutes, then press a smartie down onto the centre.

I let ours sit for a couple minutes, then placed the cookie sheet into the freezer to set them.  Once set, I've stored ours in a tupperware in the fridge.

Yum and enjoy!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Race Review - Hypothermic Half Marathon!

When I woke Saturday morning, shockingly my phone home screen told me it was -38C outside.  Thankfully (it is all perspective), it was only -26C with windchill.  -14 without.  Maybe my phone was trying to do me a favor by shocking me with absurdity first, so that -26 seemed sane.

I bundled up as best you can bundle up in running gear with knee high compression socks, wind protected tights, more wind pants on top, an outdoor hoodie, plus arm warmers, and a wind jacket.  Not to mention a balaclava, running toque, and my hoodie on top of it all.  I was kind of warm.  The race started at Fort Calgary, and I was glad we did a loop around the building, before heading out to the river.  I stopped at my car and grabbed another set of mittens.  This looked a little absurd, given I was wearing mittens, and the knit pair I grabbed were gloves.  Looked like a blown up latex glove over my hand!  It took until 11K before I started warming up.

The race followed the river, out to the NW, then back towards downtown again, turning around at Edworthy Park.  From the get go, all of the kilometer markings were out, by about 1.2.  It turns out that first loop around the Fort wasn't necessary, as it gave us a finishing distance of 21.7 according to my Garmin.  Concensus along the route that everyone who was running with a GPS was ahead of the markings.  My younger brother was running in the afternoon, and I gave him the heads up about the first loop.  He and another front runner decided to skip it, and their total distance was 20.9.  Much closer to the 21.1K half marathon distance.

Cold weather aside, I wasn't much impressed with this race.  The registration cost was $65 for early bird, and $75 afterwards.  The website had no information about race route, course support, or results afterward (my brother e-mailed the race director to get them).  There was only one aid station which was at the 10K mark.  The brunch at the end also left something to be desired serving eggs, sausages, buns, fruit crisp, fruit salad, and potatoes.  Additional brunch tickets were going for $30.

Goodies provided to us in that cost were a pair of running gloves, a running toque, and the finishers medal.

I picked this race as I had run it in the past and thoroughly enjoyed it.  But the venue and organizers have changed, and I was left disappointed.  This just gives me the opportunity to try something new!

I ran the race in a finishing time of 2:15:14 which I'm really pleased about as I was aiming for a 2:15 finish.  When my watch clicked over 21.1 I was at 2:12.  I placed 9/40 in my age group, and 34/140 women.  72/216 total runners.

Next up - the Calgary Full Marathon - eep!  The kilometers start getting longer in two weeks time.  Nervous and excited!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Cookie of the Month - Mint Chocolate Delights

I'm cheating a little.  My middle and I made this a couple weeks ago.  But part of the 'Cookie of the Month' for me, is making new cookie creations, rather than the standard go to Chocolate Chip.  These were so delicious, I want to share them with you :)

We had been without cookies for a little while, so I asked my son to go to the cupboard and pick out some chocolate chips of his choosing.  He had a selection of skor, white chocolate, or mint chocolate.  To my surprise (and delight!) he picked mint chocolate.  The recipe on the back of the bag was for squares, so I hit the interweb so find a good cookie recipe.  This one, was delicious.



PREHEAT oven to 325° F.

COMBINE flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels. Drop by well-rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 11 to 13 minutes or until cookies are puffed and centers are set. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

We used Hersheys Chipits Pure Semi Sweet Mint Baking Chips.  Unfortunately I was running low on cocoa (I only had a 1/3C) so I used a 1oz bar of semi sweet chocolate melted down, and added this with the wet ingredients.  I reduced the butter by 1tbsp to compensate for the bar I added.  This worked out great.  The cookies were moist, and chocolatey :)
Given it's February, and some cookies should be made to celebrate Valentine's, there will probably be a second Cookie of the Month in a couple of weeks :)
If you make these, would love to hear what you think!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Stay in Friday Activity

My eldest had a day off of school on Friday, and with a busy Saturday and Sunday ahead, it was a great excuse to stay at home.  It was also -14C outside.  Brrrr!

As the kids were watching cartoons, I logged on and saw this post.  Ice, candles?  My kids (and I!) would love this.  We quickly set to work doing the first layer of ice.  I used three different sizes of tupperware bowls, and used Ikea shot containers (not sure if this is their technical name... I use them for espresso shots ;), to weight down the water.

 We waited a few hours, then did the second layer.  The first layer wasn't completely frozen but was good enough to continue on.  The kids had great fun pouring in the water, and swirling in the food coloring with a toothpick.

We were partway through dinner when I remembered our ice candle holders outside.  They weren't completely frozen yet, but were good enough :)  I think if/when we do this again, the freezer is probably a better way to go, but the kids enjoyed being able to look out the window to see their creations.

If  you're looking for a great snow day activity, this one is alot of fun :)