Sunday, September 30, 2012

Photo Phriday - Four More Years!

Yes.  I am rearranging the days of the week this week.  It's for a good reason, though.  Today is our fourth wedding anniversary, and I thought that momentous occasion warranted the displacement of a Phriday.  I mean, I'm already bending Friday to my will by renaming it "Phriday", so what's another infringement?

Greg and I were married on September 30, 2008 at Walt Disney World with about 30 friends and family members on hand to help us celebrate.  It was a perfect day.
You can watch a highlights video at Cinema Chic's Vimeo account here.

If you're in Florida and want an amazing videographer, I highly recommend Kat at Cinema Chic.
And if you want a wonderful photographer, I was very happy with Randy Chapman.

The Wilderness Lodge was a perfect setting for our pre-ceremony photos.
It's my favourite resort, and our Disney Vacation Club home resort.
What can I say?  I love nature.
(Photo: Chapman Photography)

As much as I love nature, who doesn't love a ride in a vintage Rolls Royce?
(Photo: Chapman Photography)
The bakery staff at the Grand Floridian, where we had our reception, custom created this cake for us based on our invitations and an inverted photo of an art deco light fixture that I sent them.
They are geniuses.
(Photo: Chapman Photography)
I dream about these strawberries to this day.
Delicious and adorable.
(Photo: Chapman Photography)
We had a vintage/Art Deco vibe going on, which meant lots of fun with feathers!
(Photo: Chapman Photography)
Yup.  We are mature.
(Photo: Chapman Photography)

We had a break between lunch and our evening party, so we took a monorail to the Magic Kingdom to snap a photo outside the gates and catch a boat back to our resort.

Boating back to the Wilderness Lodge, champagne-faced.

We enjoyed the Illuminations: Reflections of Earth fireworks display at EPCOT with our guests.
Lots of snack-treats to enjoy, but the hit of the evening were the chocolate shots - especially when someone had the bright idea of adding vodka.
(Photo: Chapman Photography)

The day after our wedding, I tried golf for the first time at Disney's Oak Trail course.
We got about 3 holes in before it started to pour.  I didn't golf again for 3 years.

I have now been golfing semi-regularly for about 6 months.
Here I am today, during our Anniversary Golf game lamenting the 2 inches which cost me my very first hole in one.

We had a wonderful anniversary.  Greg made us pancakes for breakfast (his first time!), we played golf, and then we came home and cooked chicken and dumplings for dinner.  It may not sound too exciting, but for us it was perfection.  When you're away from home as much as we are, sometimes a home-cooked meal, your couch and your dog curled up beside you are the most blissful things you can think of.

What unique thing makes your anniversary perfect?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Lions and Tigers and Runners, Oh My!

This weekend marked a new chapter around our house.  It was the first race our entire household ran together.  Well, almost the entire household - sorry Scooter.

Since my sister is running the WDW Marathon Weekend Half Marathon, and didn't want to end up in the very last corral, we decided that a practice race was in order.  We also wanted Greg to get a decent individual chip time recorded (aka, not dragged down by my slow-ass) so that his corral placement for the Marathon portion of his Goofy Race and a Half would better reflect his actual abilities and also give him a little breathing room.
We chose the Oasis Zoo Run 10K for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was that running through the zoo sounded like a lot of fun.

The morning started out a little... unevenly...  I thought I was organized, I really did, but when it came time to get dressed at 6am, I found I didn't have the right pants laid out, I couldn't find my calf sleeves and I was generally a shambles.  There was breakfast to make, a dog to give his morning pills, walk and last minute details to attend to.  Not the usual race day morning.

We got out the door a good half hour later than we meant to, which meant things were going to be tight getting to the zoo and getting checked in.  We hit pretty bad traffic for the final 2km, so there was a little stress about being able to pick up our packets before things shut down.

Turns out we should have been more worried about checking our race bags from check in.  We pinned on our bibs, consolidated all our bags into one, turned around and the bag check truck was gone!  We were about 5-10 minutes to race start and a good 500m from  our car.  Greg grabbed the bag and ran back to the parking lot to put the bag in the car.  He made it back too late to get in his corral, but Rachael and I were still standing in line for the porapotties, so he joined us there and then joined our corral to start.

By the time we were done with portapotties and in our corral, we were just minutes away from starting.  I synced up my Garmin, wished Greg & Rachael luck, and we were on our way!

The first three kilometres were outside of the zoo.   Running out of the parking lot and a little bit down Meadowvale Road.and doubling back north (where we got to see Greg moving up in the pack and cheer each other along), right on Old Finch Road and then doubling back to a rear entrance for the zoo.

Once we got into the zoo itself at about 3.5km there was a refreshment stop set up with water and PowerAde, and lots of enthusiastic volunteers shouting our names and encouraging us along.  We were pretty far back in the pack, so they had been out there for a while, but they were as enthusiastic as if we were the first runners they'd seen.

After the refreshments, Mother Nature gave us some refreshments of her own in the form of rain.  It was light, and it didn't last long, but it was a fun distraction.  We were running on a dirt/gravel access road at this point - away from zoo guest areas - so we were getting the full splashy experience.

My favourite kilometre had to been the one between 5K and 6K.  Beautiful, lush tree canopy overhead, wide open trail, fresh woodland smells.  It was everything I love about nature.  It's that kind of environment that makes me feel alive.

After 5K, Rachael and I checked in - how are we doing, how are we feeling, that was a good 5K time for us... can we go faster, do we need to slow down.  We both felt strong, so we decided to keep plugging along and maybe pick up the pace a little bit.

We'd been warned that this course was hilly, and it was, but we had expected much worse.  By the time we ever really 'felt' any of the hills, they were pretty much done.  We found it to be very manageable.

Animal-wise, we saw a few once we were farther along into the zoo.  We saw a giraffe having brunch and watching us race by, we saw a rhino, some warthogs and a very ornery batch of water buffalo (Is it a 'batch' for a group of water buffalo?  I'm going to say, yes.).  As I was coming around a corner, I just caught one of the water buffalo charging the fence and ramming it with his head.  I wasn't sure if he was mad at the runners, or the younger water buffalo in the pen, but they were running around their pen like crazy.

Now, the course map shows 3 water stations.  One at 3.5K, one at 7K and one at 8.5K.  I genuinely don't remember there being 3, but there's a very good chance that I had a case of race brain, and forgot one.  Either way, I was glad that I had gone to Mountain Equipment Co-op the night before the race and bought one of these babies:

Not my favourite colour, but it did the trick.  And it was on sale!
Not too bouncy, roomy pocket, good functional bottle with no spills.
Now here's a tip for all you aspiring Course Marshals out there.  Know exactly where you are in the course.  If you're BEFORE 7K, don't say "only 3K to go".  Because when people hear that, and then get to 7K several minutes later...  Well...  That's frustrating.  And by the same token, if you're positioned AFTER 7K, don't say "only 3K to go", either.  Because we heard "only 3K to go" for about a full kilometre, and it made me want to throw Honey Stingers at people's heads.

The final kilometre was mean.  It was all up hill.  Or at least if felt like it.  But the good news was, as soon as it felt like it was all going to be a bit much, boom.  There was the finish line hidden around the corner.

Rachael and I crossed the finish line together with the announcer calling our our names, crushing our lofty goal of 1:30.  Chip time 1:25:57.
Greg was waiting at the finish line for us, and we went together to collect our medals, and through to the food area.  Food!

They had bagels, greek yogurt (yum!) apples, bananas, cookies, and a package of Werther's candies.  Pretty good haul, food-wise.  And very welcome.

This is the mischievous 7K point.
Notice how it is now disguised as the 2K point for the 5K racers.
Sneaky.  Very sneaky.

Here we are, basking the the glow of a race well run.

Greg did great - he ran the 10K in less than an hour!

This is the weirdest pose.
We're trying to duck down so you can see the "Toronto Zoo" sign waaaay in the background.
I would certainly recommend this race to others - it's fun, well organized, and the medal is adorable - this year it featured a Polar Bear Cub.
You get to run on the same course as some very elite Canadian runners (some Olympians) and you're free to spend the day at the zoo with free parking afterwards.  We opted to go home, get warm and nap, but we also received in our race bag a 2 for 1 admission coupon, so we can always go back later.
There was also a 5K, and a Cub Run for kids, so this is also a good race for families to enjoy together.

And in the race bag, there was a card for a very tempting Half Marathon in November...

That medal is so cool!  Tempting... verrrry tempting...

Have you ever signed up for a race, simply because you liked the medal?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Photo Phriday #2 - My Favourite Places

Life is funny.

Never in my wildest dreams would I think that I would be lucky enough to go the places I've gone and see the things I've seen, all in the course of doing a job that I love.
It's not running related, but it's 'water' related!

Here are a few of my favourite places...

Cannes, France.  We stopped here weekly during a Mediterranean itinerary.
So charming!

We would grab a pain chocolate, café latté and browse the flower and farmer's market.

It smelled amazing, and it was fun to 'visit' the fresh fruits and vegetables (and sneak some back on the ship).

Some of our best espresso and cappuccino were from train stations in Italy.
This is the train station in Livorno - I can still hear the clatter of the saucers on the marble countertops.

Incredibly beautiful.
Incredibly silly.

We found this bakery in Pisa - I think we tried EVERYTHING.

The Panforte was a hands-down favourite.
Dense and flavourful, it was everything a christmas fruitcake wishes it was.

This is the El Glop restaurant in Barcelona, Spain.
It's unassuming, tucked away in a little neighbourhood.

But it must be something special, if the Boss has popped by...

Oh my.  The Paella.  Oh my.

Florence - incredible.

Why do I look surprised?  We managed to climb all the way to the top of the Duomo in Florence.

What must have been the cheap seats in the Colosseum.

We spent our first wedding anniversary exploring Capri.
Here's a hint - the Blue Grotto is a tourist trap.

Sienna in Tuscany - some of the most breathtaking scenery...

We loved Europe, and especially Rome.
I'm tossing a coin in Trevi Fountain so we'll be sure to come back.

As amazing as Europe was, we were happy to come 'home' after 6 months.
Hello, Lady Liberty!

I hope you enjoyed these photos - wish me luck at my 10K tomorrow!  I'll have a report done ASAP.


Are you like me?  Do you get inspired by the journey of other runners?
Does reading about other people's struggles and victories give you strength and reassurance that you're not alone in your own struggles?

I'm frequently looking at other blogs, seeking wisdom and opportunities to cheer other people along.  That's why I was pleased to see that Liz over at Feet Dominating Pavement had the good sense to come up with this:

Feet Dominating Pavement
Go, read, get inspired, add your own blog and meet some new run-buds.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Climate Control

I know that for some people, training on a treadmill is the most boring, dreadful way to train for a race.  I don't disagree, but up until recently, it has been a necessary evil in my life.

Up until recently, Greg and I have been working on a cruise ship and while at sea, sometimes the treadmill at the gym is the best case scenario for getting a run in.

Some ports are too hot, or too dangerous to contemplate going for a long run.  We've seen some pretty wild neighbourhoods, and some pretty wild driving.  In some ports, just walking a mile to the nearest internet cafe made me dizzy from the heat, and drenched with sweat.

Heat and I do not get along.

And don't even get me started on the pretzel shaped "running track" that was full of people standing around smoking and playing giant, novelty chess.

So the treadmills at the gym became our best friends.  We knew each of the treadmills intimately - which one had the funky belt, which ones had functional TVs, which ones were best positioned to work with the rocking of the ship, which ones weren't placed directly under a pot light in the ceiling (I hated having a lightbulb shine right down on my skull)... the list went on and on.
We got a little possessive of our treadmills, and found ourselves irritated when we went to run and saw people walking on them in jeans, or flip-flops, or just moseying along (come on lady, there's a promenade deck for walking...).

Running outside is infinitely more interesting.  The miles slip by much faster, and, I don't mean to alarm anyone but there is FRESH AIR outside.  Wonderful.

But here's something else "outside" has.  Weather.  I don't mean to alarm anyone further, but...

Winter is Coming.

I actually got chilly this evening while I was out for my run.  Chilly!  Somehow I don't think my capris and tank tops are going to cut it anymore.  I have to come up with seasonally appropriate running gear.

I've started dealing with the 'shoulder season' between summer and full-on fall by picking up a 'shoulder solution'.  A friend shared a link with me on Facebook about a running shrug that is super cute, and super ingenious.

How cute are these?  You can order them from
Source: Urban Running Girl
By the way, that's the creator/owner of Urban Running Girl, Deborah Cape in the photos, and you can follow her blog here.  Go small businesses!  Go women entrepreneurs! 
I ordered the amethyst version (pretty colour!) ran with the shrug on Sunday, and it was really comfortable.  It was a cool but sunny day.  I was wearing a lululemon 'run swiftly tech racerback' tank top and the shrug kept me warm when we were in the cool shade, but not too hot while we were out in the sun (plus I avoided a burn).
I can see it coming in handy on airplanes, too.  I always get cold, and then hot, and then cold again on planes.

So that's covered.  But now I need to find proper winter pants, socks and tops.  On a budget.  In Canada.  Yeesh.  (For our American friends, sales in Canada are meagre things.  Laughable.  Oooh, look! 15% off!  What a deal!)

What are your favourite and warmest items of running gear?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pounded by the Pavement

I fully acknowledge that I have no idea how long an appropriate rest period is after running a half marathon at the best of times, but considering my ongoing (but receding) achilles tendinitis and the tightness in my calf for at least a week after the race, I decided to take 'er easy for a while.

And by "a while", I mean two "whole weeks"

I spent a few days 'almost' going out for a run - to the point where one night we were dressed, Garmins on, and heading out the door, when the smoke alarm sounded in our unit...  I had the bright idea of roasting a chicken while we were out so dinner would be ready for our return, but the oven was too hot and the rendered fat got a bit out of control.

I'm a great cook.

The plan was to do two 30 - 45 minute conditioning runs, and then a 4 or 5 mile run this weekend.

Well, the weekend came, and almost went, but we got out there.

(Does anyone else get a serious case of runner's funk after a race... a brief period of 'but I already ran a whole lot!)

That was my brain.

I wouldn't advise skipping those conditioning runs before you head out for your long run... because what should have been a breeze was not breezy.

To be fair, we had some Garmin problems.  Greg bought a new 310XT after the half marathon, since he'll need something to help him train for the Goofy this January.


We had the typical, getting used to new equipment woes - and set off at a much faster pace that intended.  When we got to 5K and I was beat, I knew it wasn't going to be a fun route back home.  My hips hurt (they don't usually), my breathing wasn't great (allergy season is upon us after all) my calf started tightening up again and I just felt generally... blah.  Like I was operating at about 60%.  It SUCKED.  I mean, I did 10K in an hour-fifteen just last month - and it took us an hour-ten to get 5 miles.  That's backwards.

It should have been a great run - beautiful, cool day.  Gorgeous park to run in...  But, booooo.

The whole thing has me a little spooked.  I mean, I'm assuming my body is still just bouncing back from the half marathon, and I'm still struggling to get more than 6 hours of sleep per night...  but I've got a 10K this weekend and I want to be able to feel good about it.  I'm not going for a PR - I'll be pacing my sister who is a new runner and is training for the Disney World Half Marathon in January (we both are, actually).  This is her first race.  We just want to get through it and have some fun.

And on paper, the race looks like a blast - although it has been described to me as "hard" due to some hills on the course.  Eep!
Well, worst case scenario, we shuffle our way through the Toronto Zoo and see a bunch of cute animals.  Best case scenario, we have a great time and surprise ourselves.

Has your body ever let you down out after a race?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Photo Phriday

Since I'm so tired that it feels like my brain is broken (up late and early with Scooter, thanks to a rough round of chemo), I have decided to institute a new alliterative funzie.

Photo Phriday.

This week will feature extra photos from the Disneyland Half Marathon, largely taken my Greg, because he's generally just better at getting it done.

Warning, it's a bit of a hodge-podge.  Did I mention I'm a little brain dead today?  I should leave in all my typos, then you'd be like "Dude, that is that lady, like, six?"  (I am not six.)

This was our first glimpse of the field at Angel Stadium.  The grass smelled amazing.

Greg likes Angel Field, too!

Here we are, hustling towards the cheers.

In Los Angeles, this passes for a river.  I've got bad news for you, LA...

Snazzy ol' car!

Another snazzy ol' car.  This one's a woody.  Stop snickering.

These aren't the runners you're looking for.  I love the gal with her hand out - like she's trying to choke Vader with the Force.

This is just before it all went to hell... Nice photo, though, huh?
Which way?  Ohhhh, DISNEY Way.

Flo's in CarsLand.  Do yourselves a favor and eat here.
 So there it is.  My blog version of a "clip show".

Stay tuned, I've got a "long run" on my Galloway WDW Half Marathon Training program for  tomorrow, all of about 4-5 miles (pshaw!).  I've got to stop resting at some point, right?  My calf's pretty much loosened up, and we're all running the Zoo 10K on September 22nd.

I hear this course has a lot of hills.  Yikes.

Hills:  Do you love them, or just love to hate them?