Tag Archives: 2011

Twenty One Point FREAKIN’ One!

That’s how many kilometres I ran! I didn’t do it swiftly. And I didn’t do it elegantly. But I did it! I set my mind to it, did my research & training… and finished a FREAKIN’ Half Marathon; the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon, to be precise (which, incidentally, raised more than $3.5 million for 164 local charities – suck on that, Rob Ford.)

Yes, it's on a fuzzy robe background. Yes, I wore both for the entire day.

If you had told me, 10 years ago, that I  would ever accomplish that lofty a goal, I’m almost certain my response would have been colourful and would have involved inviting you to attempt some variation of sexual relation with yourself. I know – classy. But I’m a Martimer and an army brat;  it’s who I am.

But I did it. And I’m proud.  I won’t lie, though.  It wasn’t easy.

There’s an epithet that gets bandied about on fitness and running websites: Respect the Distance.

I’m here to  tell you that it’s not just a clichéd expression for Nike or New Balance to sell more shoes and running gear. 5K is a challenge. 10K even more so. But once you start logging past that distance, it’s no longer a matter of simple math. Each additional kilometre gets exponentially harder (especially if you’re packing more junk in your trunk than recommended.)

And self-imposed dry Saturdays are not my most favourite thing ever. But I learned the hard way that, if you have a 10k training run on a Sunday morning, wine the night before (even if it is to celebrate your first wedding anniversary) is not the wisest of decisions.

But, in the end, all the blood, sweat and jacked up toenails were completely worth it.

The folks at CNW had a MUCH better vantage point, not to mention camera (I only had my phone) than I did at starting time.

I’d run the risk (no pun intended) of sounding like a Hipster Emo Poet if I were to try describing the rush of being in a crowd of 22,000 people — everyone from Olympic qualifiers and World Record breakers to average shmoes like me — all with the same goal in their sights. So I won’t try. But I will say that the high experienced while running right down the middle of Lakeshore Blvd., rather than along the Martin Goodman Trail (which is my usual route) was a surreal and astoundingly profound experience. And one I’ll hold onto for a long time to come.

So many people take on the challenge of a Marathon or Half Marathon and it’s always incredible to hear all of the various reasons why. Some do it for glory. Some do it for charity. Some do it in memory of lost loved ones. Some do it in celebration of overcoming adversity. Some do it in honour of their own reclamation of health.

I did it for that girl right there with the bad blonde dye job and the drink in her hand. She was a helluva chick. But she didn’t love herself very much.  I did, though. So I changed her. I gave her back her health. And yesterday, I gave her a giant helping of pride.

Also? I wasn’t last. But you know what? I hope whomever was, is feeling as proud as I am right now.

Missing PhotoSmash gallery: 7



Life, the Universe, and Everything

This past Saturday I turned 42. And, as any self-respecting nerd will tell you: that is, in fact, the Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything.

Author Douglas Adams’ fictional supercomputer, Deep Thought, spent 7½ million years computing this Ultimate Answer. And, despite my having reached this auspicious number of years alive on our planet, I have yet to be smote with a profusion of enlightenment. Of course, the fact that I most-often act about half that age might have something to do with said lack of wisdom.

Be that as it may – I am fortunate enough that, most years, my birthday lands on a long weekend (during the summer, no less.) Pretty sweet deal, right?

As a kid, though, that sort of sucked. There were no classroom celebrations. And, when it came to having a party with all of my school chums present, most parents had already spirited away my wee pals for family vacations. So it was usually me, my younger brother and my parents when it came to Happy Birthday Weezie Time. Which, in retrospect, wasn’t that bad a deal.

But, now? Now I take great delight in the multiple celebrations that can be scheduled into a weekend with an extra day. And, this year, I got WAY more than just a long weekend. My birthday treats began more than a month before my actual birthday; June 12, to be precise, was when we started celebrating in the Rockstar House.

You see, my husband did something most other husbands would NEVER do. He bought tickets — and took me to see… Glee. Yes, Glee. As in, the Shiny Happy kids from the TV show. And, you know what? Despite his protestations otherwise, I’m pretty sure he enjoyed himself. Because, instead of leaving the room in search of manlier pursuits each week, he sits and watches every PVRd episode with me. He won’t admit it… but I think LX might be a closet Gleek.

But the Pre-Birthday Celebrating wasn’t just limited to one event. Oh no! This year I got a Pre-Birthday Visit with my mom & dad  (an exciting prospect for me, since they live a few provinces away and I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like) and I was regaled with not one, but TWO Pre-Birthday Lunch celebrations with co-workers. Not too shabby.

Mind you, I wouldn’t recommend the restaurant (FIGS – but I wouldn’t bother, unless you have LOADS of time to spare) we chose for the first of the two PB lunches. Not only did they take forever with our order, but they got mine wrong. Credit where credit is due, however: my Eggs Bennie – with Portobello Mushroom instead of boring ol’ ham – was incredibly tasty, once it finally arrived.

Aki Da provided the sushi yums (we ordered in at work) for Part Two of my PB lunch fun. And they even threw in an extra dish at no charge. Unfortunately, the freebie was a bland mushroom roll that none of us really took a shine to. But it’s the thought that counts, right?

I should probably mention, as an aside, that – yes – pretty much all of my birthday celebrations this year did revolve around food. Which plays a large part in why I had to make time for a five-mile run Sunday morning. Totally worth it.

For my birthday proper, LX took me to La Maquette – a gorgeous french restaurant that allowed our entire wedding party to traipse through, last summer,  in order to have photos taken in its adjacent Sculpture Garden.  I’d already been like a fat kid with her nose pressed up against a sweet shop window when it came to this place.  So I think LX knew that, once they’d been nice to me, he really had no choice but to take me there at some point. Lucky for me – it was this weekend!

For anyone in the GTA looking for a great date restaurant — trust me…  you’ll score HUGE brownie points with anyone you take to La Maquette. Not only is this place absolutely gorgeous (all the ivy & overhanging trees manage to drop the temperature on the patio at least 10 degrees – which is a huge deal when the city is continuously issuing Heat Alerts) but they’ve managed to situate everyone such that you don’t feel like your conversation is being overheard by your neighbours at the next table.

Oh, and did I mention the classical guitarist? No streaming iTunes for this joint – no sir! And the food? Magnifique!

After dinner, I decided I had a hankering for a cognac so we decided – rather than spend $55 for two shots at the restaurant (totally guessing at their prices here, incidentally; but I suspect I’m not too far off the mark) – we’d walk around the corner and grab a bottle for the same price and take it home to enjoy on our personal rooftop oasis.

And, as if all of this weren’t enough, I was treated to even more delights the following day. I did haul my arse out of bed early enough to pound out a run, however. So it wasn’t a complete weekend of sloth.

I enjoyed a delightful brunch with LX’s family,  followed by an afternoon of movie watching and then a Girls Night with my BFFs (one of whom toughed out a particularly wretched stomach bug in order to keep the festivities going!)

And, since I did waddle through the aforementioned 5-mile run (turns out it was closer to 5.5, but who’s counting? Oh right – that’d be me), I didn’t feel one iota of guilt when the waitress at our Milestones brunch brought out a complimentary birthday dessert & extra spoons!


Feelin’ Hot, Hot, Hot…

No two ways about it — Toronto is stinkin’ HOT today.

But it wasn’t all that long ago, that this is what greeted us when we stepped out of doors.

So let’s remember that when we start griping about the heat. Granted, 38°C & a 49°C humidex (that’s 100°F with a 120°F humidex for you Americans out there) is a bit excessive for the Great White North. I’ll give you that. And I do, sincerely, feel for you if you work outside or don’t have air conditioning.

But it is temporary. And we’ll all be crying into our toques & mukluks soon enough about the snow and the minus 20°C temps.

Besides, sometimes good – or, at least, entertaining – things come from weather this scorching hot. The TTC might have been sticky & gross, but there was no shortage of  Summer-in-the-City diversions to watch along the way home tonight.

I wish I’d been quick enough on the draw to capture a photo of the ballsy (heh) lad on Queen Street who decided to simply throw propriety to the wayside and strip to his knickers for his walk home.

Ordinarily, in this sort of heatwave, you’d think that this young lady would be raking in the cash hand over fist.

Ordinarily she would. However, just a few blocks back, Little Miss Lemonade was trumped by a girl with a sassy short skirt. Okay,  the fact that said girl in said sassy short skirt was also handing out free beer might have weighted her hand just a bit. But seriously. Free beer. FREE. She was simply asking for ID, and then handing it out for free. FREE beer. Welcome to Canada, eh?

Stay cool!


Le Dolci: How Sweet It Is

I don’t believe in doing things small. As an example, my first real foray into decorating anything edible took place last summer when I convinced my mom that the very best wedding cake would be one of her making. Despite her initial reservations, she agreed with the stipulation that I help her decorate. In fairness, she did all the hard parts what with creating three separate cakes, each more delicious than the next, and ensuring that the delicious butter cream icing covered any crumbs (no small feat, let me tell you) so everything looked all pretty & wedding-like. All I had to do was add the bling. And bling, I added. Heh.

I’ve always had a bit of a knack for whipping up tasty treats. Making them pretty, however, has never really been my strong suit (although I must admit, I’m pretty pleased with my wedding cake efforts; not too shabby for a rank amateur.) So when Groupon had a one-day event a few months ago for a discounted Cupcake Decorating Class, I jumped at the opportunity.

This Sunday, I attended a two-hour class at Le Dolci Cupcake Decorating Studio. Happily, it’s located right downtown at King & Portland  –  just a quick stroll from home (hooray! no need to add TTC aggravation to my weekend!)

Our hostess, Lisa, started Le Dolci two years ago while living in the UK (London, to be precise) but decided that being closer to her family in Canada (and being able to afford space enough in which to grow her business) was all the reason she needed to bring her sugary venture to the Great White North.

The class I attended was for absolute beginners, but Le Dolci hosts a number of classes featuring a wide array of themes and varying degrees of difficulty. (I’m hazarding a guess that cleanup after the Mommy/Daddy & Me class is a fun time.)

Lisa provides you with everything you need to decorate & bring home a dozen sinfully sugar-laden cupcakes (right down the lovely bakery box for transport!) And the great part about this class is that the cupcakes are all pre-baked, cooled & ready for decorating (which is ideal if you’re like me and you already know how to make things taste great but need some help with the aesthetics.)

As you can see, the class does merit results!

Missing PhotoSmash gallery: 5 FacebooktwitterredditpinteresttumblrmailFacebooktwitterredditpinteresttumblrmail

A funny thing happened…

on the way to the Sporting Life 10K finish line.

I ran slower than last year (by almost two minutes!) And I had a blast doing so.

Who knew? Certainly not me.

In the beginning, I started running just to see if I could. After having determined that, yes, I could in fact run without going into cardiac arrest it became something entirely different. It became a constant competition, a constant comparison. I continuously looked at what I was doing and discounted it as unworthy when someone else finished faster or I didn’t better my time compared with my last run.

Now, let’s just look at things in perspective shall we? I’m not a 21-year-old former high-school all-star who’s carried the ideal body fat to muscle ratio her entire life. Not even close. So odds are (even if we flip into some crazy red-tinted alternate Fringe reality) I’m not likely to finish with the first 10 (or even 100) folks crossing the finish line. So, then, why bother?

Well, I’ll tell you why. Because I frakkin’ well CAN.

See, this year, during the 12-week training lead up to the Sporting Life 10k I got ill (not get-your-affairs-in-order ill or anything; just your bog standard flu.) And because of that flu, I was knocked on my arse for almost the entire week before the race. But I just couldn’t see bailing on a race I’d paid & registered for.

So, I girded my loins (I’m not entirely certain how, exactly, one girds one’s loins… but it sounds dramatic, no?), dragged my butt out of bed before the sun saw fit to rise and strapped on my trusty Asics Gels. I think the universe was in agreement with my decision because as I was hailing a taxi, I stumbled upon two total strangers willing to split with me cab fare to the start line.

The night before was a first for me, in that I felt no nerves or anxiety about this event. I wasn’t racing around in a tizzy making sure that my running gear was all perfectly laid out before I went to bed (in fairness: it was still in the pile of clean clothes that had yet to make it’s way out of the laundry basket, so I think, subconsciously, I actually knew exactly where everything was; hence the lack of tizzy.) I knew that I’d been sick and still wasn’t feeling topnotch, so I’d decided that just finishing was goal enough. And, for once, it actually was.  I went to bed and fell soundly asleep without the usual tossing, turning & frantic checking that  my alarm clock was properly set.

The morning was no different. The usual ball of nerves wasn’t there. I wasn’t looking to PB with this run. I simply hoped to finish. And it’s incredible how much pressure that resignation took from my shoulders. As a result, I ran with as much strength and determination as I could muster. And I enjoyed each and every step of it.

So, my time was almost 2 minutes slower than it was last year. It was also 6 minutes faster than my last official 10k. Granted the Island Girl Toronto 10k lacks the downhill magic that the Sporting Life 10k has, but – if I may borrow a phrase from The Lonely Island – STILL COUNTS!

Last year, the skies saw fit to spit upon my efforts. This year, they held off. I’m taking it as a sign to continue with my efforts toward improvement. Besides, I still have that half marathon in October… already registered for & paid-in-full.

If you’ve never entered a race but have ever toyed with notion, I highly recommend the Sporting Life 10k. There’s something so incredibly visceral about running with 15,000 other lunatics (really, can you think of a better word for anyone willingly out of bed and active that early on a Sunday?) straight down the middle of Yonge Street. We’re talkin’ Longest Street in the World, here, people. And the traffic is diverted elsewhere for the sole purpose of allowing you to run right along that yellow line.  It’s delightfully awesome, if you ask me. And, did I mention, almost the entire course is downhill?

And you know what else? No matter who you are or what you do… there will ALWAYS be someone who can best you. Even if you did place first in the Boston Marathon this year (if you did, incidentally, I’m totally stoked that you’re reading this; also: Hi-Five, Geoffrey!) You might not take it next year. But the thing of it is… it doesn’t matter. The only person you need to impress is you.

Celebrate the small victories. They’re more than worth it.