Ciao 2014! Hello 2015!

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Isn’t that a lovely photo? I took it while doing a 5 k run last week. Rather a lot of hoarfrost made for a winter wonderland.

And speaking of running, I’m just back from my last run of the year, unless I change my mind and get in another 5 k tomorrow…which is tempting I admit…but we’ll just go with this for now…1agphotoasy

Yeah, that’s right. The elusive PR for distance was set by lil’ old me. I’m not the fastest runner nor do I run the longest nor do I run the toughest runs. But I do run. This year I enjoyed good health and therefore I never missed a single scheduled run. I even added a few during the summer, hence the new distance record. I’d love to break it again next year and I’m working on figuring out the math. I’d so love to nail 1000 miles or as we Canucks say 1600 kms next year. Only time will tell but in the meanwhile, I’m beaming with success and self love. Way to go button! We rock!

Other news from 2014 is that I went vegan this summer. After 20 years of being vegetarian a news story about animal abuse at a dairy in BC just made me realize that I wanted out. I thought this would be so hard. I rather enjoyed cheese and had yogurt every single day in my smoothie. (Eggs are no biggie, I stopped eating them years ago. 2 tablespoons of flax in warm water make an eggless egg perfect for baking.) After I quit dairy I started following vegan boards on pinterest and it totally opened my eyes about the connection between the dairy industry and veal production. I would never eat veal even before I went vegetarian and to learn that the side effect of my milk consumption was the veal industry made me feel so very sad and full of regret.

So sad and full of regret that I had a good cry about it.1agphotoz

On the upside I’ve found that cashew cream is super easy to make, hummus makes a great snack in place of a cheese plate, vegan protein powder is a fine replacement for yogurt in my smoothies and that I feel much better since quitting dairy. Live and learn and do unto others as you would have them do unto you and better late than never and forgiveness is a gift you give yourself and so forth and so on. We only have so much time to control our food destiny and I’ve grabbed the bull by the horns, no pun intended, and made the final big switch. Unless I become a Fruitarian as seen in the film Notting Hill.*insert winkey face emoticon here*

Finally 2014 saw my husband and I mark our 20 wedding anniversary. He’s such a good egg. He puts up with all my malarkey and stays steadfast and true. He’s the best.

And so Dear Reader, I hope you have had a happy year…I know we did. With that I’m off to stoke the woodstove and make some spicy sandwiches with the so awesome Veganaise. It is SO good! I totally recommend it. And it’s made with Solar power! You can’t beat that!

Peace out 2014!

A~

Tis The Season For Winter Running Tips!

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As the snow flies throughout North America the running boards on Pinterest are full of blogs with this season’s round of winter running tips. They’re usually pretty good. Layering is pretty much covered, as is staying visible, running with some sort of grip on your feet ( ICE SPIKES!!! ), logging your run with someone, esp. if it’s long or during very bad weather, and making sure you’re hydrated. What I haven’t seen is a post that says “Hey, if you’re going running out there, you should moisturize a good 20 minutes before heading out.” The cold is a cruel, drying, cracking master when it comes to the skin. And Alberta is drier than a lot of places, making it extra super important to add it to your pre run checklist. You want to give your lotion time to sink in and not be wet on your face or hands…it’s pretty nippy if you pop out before it’s soaked into your skin. Brrrrr.

And sunscreen! Wear your sunscreen! It’s still UV-ey out there and you want to avoid sun damage and keep your skin healthy and happy. You could kill two birds and do a moisturizing sun screen. BAM! Nailed it.
Another crucial bit to remember is to leave a little extra time if you have stuff to do afterwards…because winter conditions can bite you in the rump and cost you time. I’m a good 2-4 minutes slower than usual due to the sandy floppy road conditions so I’m booking an extra 5 minutes for due back by time. I hate rushing!

Finally, remember your ID. Because in the winter run dressing flurry of tights, more tights, a shell, running bra, shirt, zip jacket, shell jacket, earphones in, ninja mask on, putting the half mitts (on your jacket sleeve) up and over your thumb, then your gloves ( I’ve got the Nike ones that are gloves with a little mitt overlay and I love them. They’re great for venting and temp.control. ) grabbing your stick ( Yes, you grab your stick…you don’t have a stick? You should totes get one! ) and then doing your sneakers up it’s super easy to leave without your ID. I wear dog tags to keep things simple. I keep them with my keys so I don’t forget. I love the dog tags, it’s not wallety…it’s compact and sensible. I highly recommend if you want to de clutter your run.

Oh yeah, one last tip…I also tuck the cord from my listening device in through my jacket sleeve to keep it from freezing and rubbing back and forth thereby breaking all those tiny wires in the cord.

That’s my addition to the winter running blog tip world!

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If you look up at the top of this pic you can just see the moon, making for a glorious trip in -20 c. Zoom zoom!

That’s it for today…chores are calling me…” button….buuuuuuutton….come clean the house…”
Every time I think I’m out, the chores pull me back in.
“I know it was you Sink Full Of Dishes, you broke my heart…”
( That’s a Godfather/Fredo reference in case you’re like “What is she talkin’ about?”.)

Ola!

A~

Run With A Stick, It’s Super Fun.

*awkward silence*

So.

Yeah. No blog post since March. Got busy. Gardening. Relaxing in the sun. Hanging out with buds and baby LanLan! Making vegan smores. You know..summer stuff.

It was nice.

Anyhoo…a story about the next big thing in running (if I have anything to do with it!). When the weather got nice here I stopped running my usual long distance road work and took to doing cross country runs with a hiit protocol. This is the greatest thing ever ( for me anyway). I just LOVE it. It’s an insane rush to run so hard that you feel like puking. It’s really GREAT when you simply can’t do another step but you still do 20 more and then you totally collapse, after crawling your way into some shadow and sitting there for 10 minutes as you recover. Hills are now something I don’t pace myself up…they’re something I friggin’ RACE up. Zoom zoom.

I never got any of these highs when I trained for/did the half by the way. All that distance running was just like a 5 k run, only longer. It was ok, but it wasn’t hard and it didn’t make my brain full of good brain crack like this new running style.

Anyhooo…this leads me to the stick bit. I was running cross country a few weeks, having a good time but still feeling like I was *missing* something, a primal something that took a while to filter down. I needed a stick. To run with. Like my ancient great grandmas had. Something to beat the bears off with! So I took some wood from a 5 year old pile of trimmings down the back alley and then I sort of whacked off all the braches and smashed the sharp bits so they were dull and then I ran with my stick.

Pure.Bliss.

All of a sudden you’re getting all this extra sensory information. Balance is heightened, your pace has more marking due to the swing ( or no swing ) of your arms, your fingers feel the beat of your feet and changes in ground surface. It’s just awesome. I told the hubs and he was doubtful but he was willing to try although he wanted a nicer stick than mine. He made himself a much better stick and went for a run and guess what? He Loved it too! So I went online to look for the special stick you want to commit yourself to for the rest of your running life. AND THERE WERE NO RUNNING STICKS! Crazy. I did find the awesome Kingfisher WoodWorks studio though…they specialize in Japanese bokken and other top notch fighting tools. (I found people on martial arts forums discussing and drooling over the Kingfisher made schwag. People in the know want it baaaaad.) They also make walking staffs and, and here’s where we come in, they do custom staffs! I got the hubs the 46 inch staff and I took a 44 inch staff, the same size as my Running Stick beta.

Running Sticks V.1

Running Sticks V.1

These Kingfisher guys were so nice. They put up with my crazy runner self ( runners will know what I mean…when you’re telling someone the why’s and how’s of why you’re a runner and you kinda go on and on and on…and on…because you’re a running CRACKHEAD.) and, within a few weeks, they sent up the most beautiful, perfect weight, smooth as silk, strong like a mofo Running Sticks. I’ve taken mine out every day since I’ve had it. One day I used it to move a big grumpy scary cat off the path. I’ve knocked snow off bushes (and right onto my head ! Duh.) and I’ve added all sorts of stick work to the hiit work. For instance, I am running as fast as I can run these days. To go faster I’d need to go into professional training, with clean eating and a Coach. Not gonna happen, right?  So now when doing a hill at 100% leg speed I hold the stick up over my head to keep my arms up and pumping even more blood through  the system. BAM. Increased heart rate and better hiit results. I also hold it in both hands horizontally over the waist area and twist back and forth to engage the core more and get a sort of salsa dance feel to bits of the run. And to improve my chi running form I hold it in my right hand straight up, like a maasai runner. You can use it to do all sorts of shoulder and core stretches and it will also support you as you’re bent double nearly barfing from hiit hill runs in a warrior style.

It’s just the greatest thing ever. So now we have these beautiful, sacred feeling pieces of art to attend us on our running practice. If you’re looking to swank up your run and connect with your inner ancient running self, get a random stick and give it a go. And when you see how awesome it is buy a custom stick ( or a bokken…mmmm….Kingfisher bokken…) from the nice fellas at Kingfisher.

This is my gift to the running world.

<insert wild eyed runner grin here

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We just got 30 centimeters of snow so the garden is a hawt mess but I’ll try to blog again once or twice before 2015.

Sorry Dear Reader for the spotty writing over the year…summer here is SO short here you just have to grab it by the horns and be outside running and gardening and making babies cry!

Pax,

A~

Running For 5 Years and a Day

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Yesterday marked my 5th year as a Runner.

I had brushes with running in the past, as a child I loved to pretend I was the Black Stallion or Man O’ War and run like a maniac when we had recess.

In my twenties I ran 5 or 6 times but somehow it just never caught on.

Then we took our sabbatical to the lovely Ogema, SK and one day, on a walk I just started to run instead. And it stuck. Stuck hard. I’ve been running ever since. I made a deal with myself. Do I have legs? Yes. Am I sick? No. Then I run. And that’s it. I have a schedule of runs (mostly 5 and 10k when I’m not training) that I just repeat weekly. I allow myself to run just a short run if I’m really bagged but unless I’m really sick or injured, I *must* run something, 2 k or 4 k…just something.I’ve never skipped a run. Not once. And I have no intention of not running for as long as live.

I’ve run in soft blizzards and hard blizzards, rain of all ilk, in -40 degree weather and in +30 degree hot days. In the last 5 years I’ve only missed one run due to weather and that was in a windstorm with 115k winds. I worried about flying debris so I took a pass on that day but made it up later. I ran the half back to back and it was ok. I logged more than 1100 kms last year and I’m on track to make over 1000 again this year, despite losing 80 k to a really nasty cold in Jan and Feb.

Besides running in all weather I run to all types of music. My mp3 player has the Rocky Horror Soundtrack, some random house music, Lauren Hill’s amazing solo album, a bit of my favorite Mozart, Roxy Music’s Avalon, a tonne of Elliott Smith, various bits and bobs…some stuff by The Police, ACDC and a whole hour of the sitar being rocked upon by Ravi Shankar. Sometimes I run sans tunes too…just the happy sound of feet on fine gravel…”tuk, tuk, tuk…” It’s all good.

I know dogs and gardeners, people who smoke early morning in their housecoats in their garages, my running frenemies and my running friends. Sometimes a frenemy becomes a friend…sometimes they’re just the person who passes you while you’re running easy and you never see them again, but you never forget them passing you. Because running can make you crazy like that!

It was a wonderful run yesterday…I thought all this stuff I just wrote about and about 30 seconds from home a bug flew right into my mouth. The thing you learn from running is that you take the good with the bad! That includes the occasional bug in the mouth!
It’s been a great trip and if you’ve got legs and you’re not sick, I highly recommend lacing up and seeing how far you can go on day 1.

Have a happy Summer y’all.

A~