Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

An unplanned trip to 50 years ago...

So the rabbit is at the vet again.  Prognosis for immediate short term is good -- he can come home tomorrow.  Long term however . . .    Let's just say the mechanics have a pool going on which month he will die, and I don't think anybody's voting for anything past early spring.  *sigh*

Anyways - while waiting for the prognosis, Chris and I went to test drive a couple cars that are on the potential list.  So we went to VW in Burlington and I'm still slightly flabbergasted by the experience.  When we went in, the person who met us was particularly unhelpful.   First it was the completely disdainful tone when he asked whether we were shopping for new or used, with his entire body language indicating we should perhaps go to the used car store next door.   Now to be honest I'd consider either, but I was fairly appalled at the attitude.  At least the attitude Chris was getting -- since while Chris had mentioned twice that *I* was the one shopping, the sales ass (SA) had yet to actually address me.

SA looked particularly appalled when I answered instead of Chris, but so be it.  I mentioned that I was looking for some information on the Golf; did they have any 2016s left?  In the most condescending of tones "they've been gone for months."  Ummm okay.   How about 2017s then?   So he walked us over to the nearest one.  "Well this is our base model.  All the information is there." and pointed to the info flyer in the window.  Gee thanks.

Decided not to mention I'd already decided on the next model up and thought maybe I'd try leading with options to see what SA would recommend.   "I'd prefer a two door and will want the package that includes a sunroof --"  "Well this car doesn't come in two door."   Fair enough, had he managed to say it without rolling his eyes.  I hadn't even answered when he stalked off to pick up a pile of papers off a desk and flipped through them before stabbing one with his finger.  "There.  See.  No two door option."   Ummm okay dude.   But then he saw another note, "oh, this car is only available in manual."  "That's okay.  I actually prefer it."  "No, manual.  Five speed."  There was a long pause while he looked at me like he was waiting for the light to go on.  Then, slowly, "Can you drive a manual?"   Complete disbelief on his face; as though he was still sure I didn't understand what I was asking.  After I'd just told him I preferred it.  So that was the final straw for me.  But I was a little stunned trying to get my head around the entire experience with my internal filters working overtime rejecting everything that popped into my head.  Before I managed to come up with any response that wouldn't lower me to his level, Chris interjected with a very calm "Laur, let's go somewhere else."

Yes.  Best idea all day.  So we went to Honda, where the first person who saw us was about to meet another client but immediately went to find somebody to help us.  The person who came was A - willing to speak directly to me (imagine!), B - willing to discuss both used and new options with equal respect and effort, and C - answering questions as though they were reasonable.   Imagine that ;)

Sadly I actually really like my VW, but definitely won't be buying one from that dealership.  And when I bought my current one I had a similar experience with the VW dealership in Oakville.  Equally dismissive, but at the time my filters weren't nearly as well developed so that was ended significantly faster ;)   There are times I miss that me ;-P   I did eventually find a VW dealer all the way in Brampton who was inclined to treat me like a reasonably intelligent human being, may have to go back to her.  But really, how is this behaviour still acceptable?   Totally ridiculous.

For now, let's just hope the rabbit lives a while longer.  Because I have a feeling the next car will be a civic.

One more check for the list :)

Life goal accomplished!   Today I ran a half-marathon.  Weather was perfect, so got super lucky there being as it's November in Canada ;)

Chris drove me to the start bright and early this am, and even hiked to the start line to keep me company till the start (parking was about half a kilometer away).  So that was really nice -- and had the added benefit that I could keep my jacket till the last second ;)

First part of the race was good.   I was moderately amused by the amount of clothing that had been shed along the side of the road.  It was a longer trek along the road than I had expected, but nbd.  Then we ran down the highway, which was fairly surreal.   That was a long trek that was all down hill.  Very civilized :)   And finish was a run through a trail, which is where I generally choose to run, so I was all for that, and then along the waterfront, which -- being all of 10 mins from home -- is another pretty standard place for me to run.  So basically loved the last 1/4 or so of the race.  Except for the fact that by the end my body had pretty much shut down.  Ugh.  Fail.

The route (starts lower right corner)
My goal was 2:30 and I *almost* made it (finish time 2:32:27).  Somewhat frustrated at that as a km out, I still had more than enough time to make said goal even on a slow day, but I was done.  So done.  It took everything I had to just keep moving one foot in front of the other.   Why?  When 18km two weeks ago wasn't any big deal?

Well it turns out I'm a tad bit competitive.  Who knew?  ;)    N for the first 10km without really realizing I was doing it, I was making awesome time (for me).  I know I'm not fast, and I'm never going to win.   But anybody who looked like they were going about the same pace I go, I didn't see any reason I couldn't or shouldn't pass them.  And when my watch told me to take my first walk break, I didn't even really register it.   And the second one, thinking it was the first, I chose to ignore.

And were this a 10km race, I probably would've been pretty happy with the results ;)   But shortly after that I started running from break to break -- which I usually don't care about till after about 14km.  So not a good start.  At about 11km, I was past by the first marathon runner.  Sheesh -- that's not demoralizing at all (they started all of 15 mins before us, but the tracks only align for the last part of the race - their extra distance was almost all at the beginning).  Although was another solid 10 mins before the second marathon runner past us, so I feel the first one was an exception.   Several of the top marathoners had bike (either cycle or motor) assisting them so they could clear the pack and hold their line.  That amused me.  What really got me though was the ones finishing in the 15 mins or so before I did who were just loping their way to the finish.  Long solid strides that looked like they hadn't even broken a sweat -- keeping in mind, by this point I could hardly walk and had gone half the distance in more time.  Sheesh.

About kilometer 15, I had a really hard time and admittedly walked most of it.  This gave me enough energy back to at least jog if not actually run the next few.  But the last two...  Those were just brutal.  Usually I get an extra burst when the end is in sight -- even when I'm just running on my own.  And at that point, looking at my watch, I knew fully well I had more than enough time remaining to make my goal.  But no matter how much I wanted to, I couldn't even jog more than a couple steps.   I did manage the last 200m at a painful jog just cause I really couldn't handle walking across the finish line.  But I fought for that.  Hard.

Huge credit to the random spectators throughout the race cheering on and offering encouragement.  Actually made a HUGE difference.   Some were clearly race volunteers, others looking for specific friends or family.   Near the end there were even runners who had already completed.   And some looked like they lived in whichever house we were running by at the time.   But regardless, they were so positive and encouraging to everybody, and it really made a difference -- esp at the end.   That's actually the only reason I managed to run the last 200m -- random strangers encouraging and letting me know just how close it was ;)   There was a sharp rollback right before the finish line, so while I knew I was close cause I'd been there the other day to pick up the race kit and my watch told me I was almost there, I didn't actually know how close cause I couldn't see the finish.

Came across the finish line at the same time as a couple people so my name didn't get announced.  Surprised how disappointed I was about that -- it's not the kind of thing that generally matters to me, and not like I had a gaggle of people in the audience ;)  Ah well.   I crawled my way through the food tent and chose an apple over pizza.  This gives you an idea of how done I was. There is zero chance I could've eaten pizza and kept it down.  Not sure who thought that was a good idea.  Sheesh.  The apple was good though.   Picked the nearest available chair I could find and collapsed into it until Chris made it to pick me up.   And being the awesome husband that he is, he had brought my jacket with him so just as I started to freeze, I was able to warm up.

What did me in was actually the muscle on the outside of my hips.  That was a new one for me, but it basically seized up.  (Both were sore, but left was way worse -- my left hip has zero flexibility ever so not surprising it also complained more).   I wouldn't have been surprised by quads paralyzed with lactic acid, or calves screaming at me for the abuse.  But this was an exciting new version that when combined with a wicked side stitch basically hobbled me.  I made it to the finish on sheer determination and nothing more.   When I finally got up to walk to the car, I was hobbling like I was double my age.  Ugh.  And while not completely lame the rest of the day, definitely moving in slow and careful motion.   On the plus side -- I was able to run through the blisters that appeared about the 15 km mark and by the end was not even noticing them.  And knees and ankles didn't give me any grief at all, which is great.

So am I glad I did it?   Yes.   Am I proud of my little participation medal?  Absolutely!  Do I ever feel the need to do so again?   Not even slightly.  5km maybe -- I like the energy of races and 5km doesn't leave me broken for the next few days.  Nor does it take up my life to train for.  But this silliness?  No thanks.  I did enjoy disposing of my training plan though :)   It's the little things in life.

Adult Language Learning -- Take 2.

So as disappointed as I was by the last attempt at Spanish, I sucked it up and tried again tonight and it was awesome.  What a contrast!   Short version ends here.  Looooong version (that took way longer to type than to live ;) below.

I was targeting the "instant tutoring" again, which limits your choice of instructors to those online at that moment; in my case, there were seven, one of whom was the one I spoke with the previous time.   Two of the six remaining options were designated "professional teachers" -- the main difference being certification (although to put this in perspective, by their rules I qualify as a professional teacher too -- thanks CELTA ;) -- there's nothing about actual experience required...

Regardless, I figured I could use pro help and while prices are more, they're still significantly less than I'd expect to pay for qualified teaching around here (convenient as I can't currently afford said qualified teaching here -- AND I'd have to leave my lovely office to get it.  All bad really.)  So that narrowed my choice to two.  Took a quick look at both profiles.  One had significantly more experience and a higher degree of English, so I started there.  Looking at his availability though (since I do actually want to find a coach I can work with for a bit) was a bit off-putting as he didn't have any times in his schedule that would work for me.  Booo.  But he was online, so I fired off a message asking if this was a normal time for him to be on and the schedule was maybe out of date?

While waiting for a response I went to the other guy's page -- his video really caught my attention.  For one thing, he put some effort into it -- it had a real introduction rather than just a talking head.  Second thing that appealed to me, he spoke both in Spanish and English on the video, AND the Spanish was slow enough that much of it I could understand, and that that was beyond me at least was enunciated clearly enough that I could pick up individual words.  The English was also entirely reasonable.  Could've been reading a script of course, but worth a try.   So still having not heard back from guy one (and by this time way more interested in the second one) I looked at his teaching schedule -- and it's basically every weekday evening from 6pm-1am and on Sundays during the day.  Ummm perfect.

With that in mind I sent him an instant lesson request and explained as I had last time that the entirety of my experience was due to DuoLingo and online training and that I really wanted to learn to speak but was starting pretty much from scratch.  First obvious change - lesson request was accepted within seconds and we were connected.  Second obvious change -- he had his video turned on rather than just a picture.  Much as I don't love video, I've learned from work how helpful it can be in certain situations so I appreciated it.

So we did the "hi, how are you?" part of the conversation and then he sent me a file with a lesson plan.  On first glance it looked like it might be a little basic even for me, but figured I'd go along with it and see.  But it was actually awesome.  He walked me through some basics (that I actually already knew but no worries) with useful phrases.  I had a pretty good clue here that he actually *is*  a teacher and not someone who collects certifications *cough* in that his phrases included both the correct pronunciation and what you'd actually hear.  It was something I'd never considered until I was taught to teach English but we do, indeed, regularly drop syllables in speech that we include in writing.   When was the last time you pronounced all of "Wednesday" (wendsday) or even "business" (biznes)?   Similarly we slur multiple words together all the time.  "Have" is one of the worst for those -- I'd've, she'd've.   Or change them all together:  want to = wanna.  If you're just learning, that's really hard to deal with.  And in my little cheat sheet, it was called out for me -- both the correct version as you'd see written or in formal speech and what you'd actually hear in normal conversation.

So this simple but impressive intro was followed with two scripted conversations which we read.  This was actually super helpful as it allowed me to focus on pronunciation and flow rather than trying to think of words.  And one of the conversations I knew what I was saying but the other one I didn't have a clue *g*   Fortunately he also included translations of both.  Then we moved on to unscripted conversation where he helped me fill in blanks that were beyond me.   His English was solid and he was easily able to translate the things I asked (incl everything the other guy couldn't the other day) so that was super helpful.   The other thing he did that I appreciated was he spoke to me consistently in Spanish.  Slow (and presumably simplified) Spanish to be sure, and he would translate for me if I really didn't get it, but he at least gave me a shot at figuring it out on my own.  Which is kinda the whole point of this exercise.  So I was happy about that.

While my last lesson I was constantly watching the clock waiting for it to be over; this one I didn't even notice we'd run out of time till he told me.  I figure that's a good sign :)   So I think I'll keep working with this one for a bit; try to get some sort of regular cadence going to lessons.  I figure an indoor challenge is a good idea for winter ;-P   Doesn't help the fitness issue at all, but should help keep my little mind busy.

Oh and I now have four songs on my Spanish playlist -- hahaha moving up in the world ;)   I'm finding it fascinating how my brain interprets.  When I really don't know what's going on, it substitutes English words that sound vaguely like what's being said in Spanish.  Once it was actually right *g*  But that was only cause in that case the Spanish words were nearly identical to the same in English.   Have to get lucky occasionally :)   And the other thing that's really cool, is what was just a fast jumble of incomprehensible words is starting to slow down in my head so I can pick out individual words (whether or not I know what they mean is a different challenge).  It amuses me when my brain finally figures out where to insert spaces so that we have actual words ratherthanjustamumbledjumbleofsounds.

Todavía no hablo español... Pero he intentado!

So last night was my first attempt at a conversation in Spanish.  I ventured into the world of italki which connects people who want to speak one-another's languages.  When you sign up you define which languages you speak and your fluency with each.  Then you can either chat with random people who are fluent in the language you want while trying to learn the one you speak (free), or connect with either a tutor or a teacher -- both of which are paid.  Full disclosure -- if you do decide it's something you're interested in, please use that link cause I'll get credits :)

Being a native English speaker is definitely a plus in this environment as a disproportionate number of people are looking to improve their English, which ups the pool of people to talk to significantly.  And while I'm actually super over-qualified to be in this pool (and have zero inclination to be in the paid category) I figure that might help balance out the patience required to speak with somebody who is brand new to the language.

Since going into this, my sole Spanish conversation to this point had included "hello", "please", "thank you", and asking for a drink, I decided that perhaps I should start in the paid category, preferably with someone who works with beginners.  For tutors and teachers there are options to either book a lesson or to just chat now.  So I found someone who was online at the moment, claimed a high fluency in English, and whose profile had several references to patience and went with that.  When you ask to connect, you can include a message -- so I included that I had been using DuoLingo but had never spoken Spanish at all.  Complete beginner.  He said that was fine and could start in two minutes.

Sweet.  Or not.  As those who know me IRL will be aware, small talk is far from my favourite thing.  I am also not particularly patient with myself when I'm learning something new.   All the patience in the world for students and animals; applying it to myself? More of a challenge!  At work the latest thing is to "fail fast" in order to improve.  I'm all kinds of good at supporting it there.  Less in developing my own skills.  I want to be good at it *now*.  Sheesh.  But then I read something in the multitude of language learning stuff I've come across in the last little while that made this point (paraphrasing cause I've long since lost the article but this stuck with me): "you have to let yourself be that guy.  Be the one who says "me happy" and "I go school" because the ones who are willing to start there, are the ones who will learn to speak fluently.  And several articles that say start talking on day one.  Literally.  As soon as you can possibly put together a few words.  Those two together pushed me into this.

And you know what?  I am, theoretically, okay with being that person.  As long as the person I'm talking to knows what they're getting into ;)   Hence the intro.  So we connect and after we get past hi, how are you (yeah, I know that one!) he tells me he'll ask the question in Spanish, I should answer in English, and then he'll tell me how to say my answer in Spanish.   Ummmm ok...  I guess.  But I was so disappointed.  The whole point was for me to figure out how to say it myself.   So we did this a bit and it was okay -- less good than it could've been as his English was not as brilliant as advertised and several times he was unable to provide the Spanish translation.

And as we're doing this he told me I shouldn't do any of the chats, I just sign up for lessons.  And I should be sure to tell them I was brand new.  Awesome. So positive.  And I'm pretty sure I word for word did that.  And the whole point is I want to learn to chat.  I'm enrolled in one online uni course and play with DuoLingo daily -- my reading comprehension is way beyond my listening and my vocabulary is growing rapidly but I can't actually speak it.  (Squirrel! - anybody who's bored and likes to learn stuff:  Future Learn Open University -  eclectic combination of free university level courses)

Anyways - I did eventually convince him to let me try some sentences myself and quickly learned a few things.  While I'm *theoretically* okay with being brand new at something, I'm not actually okay with butchering somebody's language in front of a native speaker, even one who is being paid to help me.  I'd get half way through a sentence and actually have to force myself to continue.  Less fun.  Also, it is So. Pain-fully. Slow.   You know how choppy that sentence was when you read it in your head?  Multiply by 100.  By the time I figure out what I want to say, how I'm going to say it with the words in my limited vocabulary, and then what order to put those words in, there are very long pauses between said words while I'm speaking.  My mitigation plan for that for next time will be to have a bunch of random small-talk type phrases written out ahead of time that I can use as need be ;)   And worst of all, even when all the stars align and unicorns fart glitter and I do manage to get all the words out in the right order, I'm still not understood.  How do I know this?  Because when he wrote back to me what I "should have said" it was exactly what I'd been trying to say.   So I had everything right but was either too choppy or my pronunciation was too horrible to be understood.  As negative as it sounds though, that part was actually encouraging to me.  It shows I *am* learning through my other channels, and clearly have a need for this one too.  Since, well, the whole goal is conversational Spanish and last I checked speaking was a key component of that *g*   But perhaps with a different tutor ;)

The one thing this tutor did do that I liked was kept a text chat window open as well and when I didn't understand something he said or when he was trying to get me to repeat something back to him, he'd type it.  Since my reading skills currently far surpass either my listening or my writing skills, this was all kinds of useful for clarification.

So yeah, I currently have a fairly high level of anxiety about trying it again.  But anxiety and excitement are closely related and I suspect if I can connect with the right tutor it could easily switch and be an interesting challenge.  Would ideally like to get to the point where I can hold enough of a conversation to flip to the free area :)   But lessons are not at all expensive (ranging from about $2-$20 an hour -- and the top end of that is for actual qualified professional language teachers).   Individuals set their own rates and they're all posted and paid through italki so all good there.

Ah well -- webinar tomorrow about learning through music, which I'm currently *really* enjoying -- far more than I expected.  So maybe try the speaking idea again on Friday...

In completely unrelated news -- had *so* much fun at dinner with the girls last weekend.  Dinner that was about six hours of chatting.  Came home so relaxed and happy.  I feel that should happen more often :)   Really looking forward to the Royal now!

Finding brilliance in every day products

So in last night's Spanish lesson I learned that "contigo" means "with you" -- meaning my favourite travel mugs are far more intelligently named than I'd ever imagined.  Makes me wonder what other products in my life have names that have really relevant meanings in other languages.  You always hear of the opposite -- warning to check any product name in other languages to make sure when it takes off you're not accidentally offending an entire population.  But somehow it never occurred to me to wonder about the reverse.

My new favourite youtube language learning is people who post both Spanish and English lyrics to a song.  Seriously fast-forwarding at least my interest if not my actual knowledge ;)   This isn't the Contigo one, which was also fun, but it's better done :)   And having read some atrocious translations, I have a new serious appreciation for those who can create good ones.

In other news, I'm now at the point where I actively despise running.  Fail.  Going to stick it out till I run the half marathon just cause, but after that I need a new hobby.  Clearly don't know what to do with myself without a horse to occupy my time.  The three hours of commuting every day certainly eats a chunk of it, but the rest...   Would like to try indoor climbing for a couple months, but that requires a buddy. Anybody in the Burlington area bored and want to try it for a few months? ;)   We'll see - maybe time to go make climbing friends *g*

Five weeks left (not that I'm counting)...

So let me set the scene for you.   It's Sunday.  Chris is working, so I have the house to myself.  It's cold out and pouring rain.  The perfect day for a hot mug of hot chocolate (I even have whipped cream!) and curling up in my comfy chair with a blanket, a dog, and a book.  Sounds amazing right?

So why, what possible reason, did I sacrifice all that to go for a run.   Seriously.

Sash got all excited when she saw me getting ready, bounced out the door full of enthusiasm.  Stopped abruptly when she saw the rain and looked back over her shoulder at me with "you've got to be kidding right?"

You know what?  The world would be a better place if people listened to their animals.  Instead, I convinced her to hop in the car.  "oh car?  okay!  Car is dry and could go somewhere fun!"   We drove to where I usually start to run and she's all excited cause she knows this place.  I open the door, she sticks her head out then scrunches back with this *look* on her face.   Snowstorms?  No problem.  But rain?  Rain is not in her contract.

Anyways, she deigned to come along and the first km or so was really funny to watch as she kept trying to shake the rain off while she was running.  Our first km was the fastest since I've started back at this whole running thing.  Still not nearly as fast as I was in 2014 (according to watch data) but def better than before.  Apparently I don't like rain either.  Sadly though I paid for it in that it was unsustainable for me and I felt pretty miserable the rest of the run.   At least at one point the sun came out -- so that part was lovely.  I do wish the weather network had deigned to tell me that was in the plans, cause I def could have waited *g*   Ah well, unlike the last run, at least this one I wasn't freezing.  A plus.

And at the end, while I was done -- as in meat is scorched, smoke alarms are screaming, kind of done -- Sasha was bouncing around trying to get me to throw rocks for her so she could jump high and run more.  Sheesh.  Ah well, family dinner tonight so she can go play with Bailey :)

What was I thinking?

Short version: tonight I ran 14km.

Long version...  Do you really want the long version?   It may be longer than the actual running of it ;)

Okay so this story starts with me really questioning the half marathon goal ;)  Seriously?  It's fall now.  Being outside is not fun.   Running is not fun.   Why would I pick a target that includes two not fun things?   You know what would be fun?  A good movie, hot chocolate, and a fireplace.  That would be fun.  Regardless, stupid Lauren set a not fun goal.  I haven't run at all since Sat, mostly due to life, and I knew I wouldn't tomorrow so I wanted to get tomorrow's long run in tonight.  All good right?   Except cold, windy, and a crazy storm approaching.

So I went to the rail trail, thought being trees, lots of them, would help negate the wind and some of the rain should it hit.  When I started, my body worked very hard to convince me that this was a very stupid idea.  My knee hurt for a bit, then it felt fine and the other knee hurt, then I got a wicked cramp -- all within the first three km ;)   N I basically told my body to quit whining and kept going.   

Apparently it's a thing?!?!  Seems like a horrible idea really, but it did work.
Running on the rail trail where I go, the run out is all uphill and the run home is downhill.  It's a slight slope, but noticeable.  And I'm amused by the mental games I play.  I know most sports competition is in huge part mental -- but I'm just learning how that applies to running.  For instance, I had a plan to run 14km (which, btw, I should get a gold star for since the "official" plan was only 13 -- but I don't like how the official plan doesn't build past 16 before race day so I've altered slightly ;).  Anyways -- back to our story.  Targeting 14km.  At 3km I celebrated the half-way point.   And I wasn't wrong ;)  How?   Well 14km is 7km out and 7km back.  Half of 7km is 3.5km, 3.5km is a part of kilometer 3.  So therefore as I passed the 3km marker I justified to myself that I was almost half way there!  Easy!   Then when I get "there", I can turn around and it's "just run home".  And since it's downhill home, it's even easier.  

The other thing that keeps my brain occupied is basic arithmetic.  If I'm running for six minutes and walking for one, and my watch says I've been going for 52 minutes, how long till my next walk break ;)  I can honestly say that this is the only word problem that has ever applied to my daily life.  And I'm getting very good at solving for it ;)  Unfortunately that means it's not a particularly long distraction.

On this route, I consistently find the 5th km more of a challenge than the rest -- maybe it has a slight extra slope?  I don't know.  But I slowly made my way through it and got to the trains!  Wooho.  Now to be honest, I couldn't care less about the trains -- but it's something different so it's a thing.  It's a little thing, but a thing.   Shortly after km 6, I had to pause because a girl was riding towards me and her horse was having nothing to do with coming towards me, so I stood till he relaxed.  Girl was a good rider and dealt with him competently and thanked me for stopping so all good.  Issue is, when I started back up I hit the wrong button on my watch.  Fail :(   So I started it back up but of course it tagged it as a new run.  When I got home I googled combining the files but it was pretty much a fail :(   Sad -- I wanted my new trophy for longest run!  (I didn't have said watch when I last ran a 15k race ;)

Anyways -- the mental games continued with "only 1/2 km till you're there -- that's easy!" -- there, of course, being the 7km mark ;)

The run home was so much better!  My body wasn't hurting anymore, there was next to nobody on the trail, the wind was so loud in the trees I felt like nature was making up for the lack of music, and things were good.  At some point on the way my quads started to feel sore -- but the good kind of muscle sore, not hurting so okay.  And unfortunately it got rather dark.  Hmmmm tricky.  The rain opened up just as I got back in my car so I forwent stretching and hopped in.

Truly awful life choice.  By the time I got home I was so unbelievably seized up.  Ugh.  No fun at all. Glad I'm teaching XC tomorrow if for no other reason than it'll make me go for a long walk.

I also learned I'm going to have to figure out how to dress -- unlike other sports, you can't shed layers as you warm up.  Well I suppose you *could* -- but you run a high risk of losing them permanently.  And good exercise clothing isn't cheap.  At one point I realized my hands were so cold I couldn't feel my fingers.  Other parts of me were sweating and shivering at the same time.  This is much less fun than last week.  Ugh.  

5 weeks left (not that I'm counting down...).  Past history has shown that my determination (stubbornness?) will outweigh common sense and I'll stick to it ;)  But we shall see.

Determined or stubborn?  It's a fine line ;)
The end result, however, is the same...

Gold star to me :)

They literally gave me a gold star ;)
I am neither kidding nor exaggerating -- somebody actually gave me a physical gold star!   That might, in fact, be a first :)   

So at the performance awards at work tonight  -- you know, the event I originally wasn't going to be able to attend due to the jury duty selection -- I won a gold performance award!   And was simultaneously: 
A - super excited 
B - stunned 
C - super excited 
D - slightly overwhelmed 
E - super excited 
Followed about 15 mins later with disappointed I hadn't been quite impressive enough to make it on the cruise (one step higher than gold) ;-P.  What can I say, a bit of a perfectionist :). But even so, still grinning ear to ear so we're going with super excited ;). Haven't been here two years yet, but that's going to be hard to top! 

Also super exciting when people I work with win as well in the "I know them!" variety :). Was pretty thrilled by the number of people I work with regularly who won. Okay so I realize that may read oddly, but keep in mind the size of the organization -- I only know a comparative handful of people and I feel a disproportionate number of them got awards, so thinking I work with some pretty excellent people. To put in perspective, there were about 1500 people there tonight (and I have no idea how many absent).  Of the five of us who report to my boss, two received awards. Similarly, of the eight people on one of my project teams, three received awards. There are not that many awards (maybe 90 over 4 levels?).  So yeah - pretty excited. As I may have mentioned ;)

Now the tricky part is going to be falling asleep after combined sugar high and excited high in a reasonable timeframe to enable my stupidly-early start tomorrow.  Right.

High School Flashbacks

I live across the street from a high school; this is a complete non-issue in our daily lives -- we're at work while school is on, and conveniently there's a track I can use to run on and a pool to swim in both within a sixty second walk.  Awesome.

Today, however, I was working from home.  Still actually a non-issue, but what amused me was the deeply instinctive reaction generated by the school bells ringing.  In equal parts:
- omg I must be late!
- ugh, do I really have to go?
- What class do I have next?
- Frig, I didn't do the assignment
and as the bells chimed about 3:00ish,
- Sweet, time to go home!

Now we're not even going to discuss the multiple decades it's been since I was in highschool, and while some of the school associated thoughts may have been drilled in during uni, uni didn't have bells.  I'm sitting in my home office, working on the kinds of stuff they never taught us in high school, and every time one of those bells rings, I'm back to being 16 again.  I didn't love being 16, so the overwhelming feeling I'm getting after my brain runs rapidfire through the above list of questions is "Woohoo!  I don't have to go!"

Anyways, just sort of amused me.   As to *why* I'm working from home and not in the office today?  Well that would be because when Chris went to let the dogs out this am, he found a dead raccoon on our deck.  Awesome.  All curled up right next to the glass door.  So since he has *just* started a new job, combined with the fact that I was expecting to be doing the jury-duty thing today and had rescheduled most of my meetings to later in the week, I got to be the one to deal with it.   Called the humane society -- closed on Mondays.  Fail.  Except in a rather large win, they have a redirect in their voice mail to Animal Control.   Very quick conversation with them and they assured me they'd send somebody out.

In the meantime, Tucker eventually woke up and realized there was a GIANT RACCOON sleeping Right. Outside. His. Window.   Growling and clawing at the window endlessly, fairly horrified by this situation.  Which in turn terrified Sasha who was upstairs with me and promptly tried to turn into a lapdog.  Lol suffice to say this did not work terribly well, esp as I was trying to type!

Fortunately for all involved, the woman to deal with the raccoon made it out fairly early.  Tucker's "giant raccoon" estimate wasn't all that far off, she said it was one of the biggest she'd seen.   She bagged it and took it away and I washed the deck off (yeah for torrential rain shortly after) and we're good to go.  Why said random giant raccoon dropped dead on our deck?   Well that is a mystery I sincerely doubt we'll ever know the answer to.   When I did eventually let the dogs out several hours later, they didn't even pretend to hesitate there -- ran straight to their usual areas of the yard.   So I'm not too concerned about lingering scent or any issue there.

This is the second rather rude early morning in three days (Tucker had another run-in with a skunk on Sat); we've ordered one of the ultra-sonic pest-repellents for the garden.  We'll have to see how that goes. 

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia...

Was going through the excessive amount of stuff I still had in my parents' basement, deciding what to move, what to donate, what to garbage etc.  Opened a box that had stuffed toys, which were mostly being purged, but some are important.  Made a comment Toy Story style about "okay, which of you are coming home with me?" and got an answer!  Hahaha I'm not even kidding -- AG was in the box and apparently his batteries still work.   For those who have never had the honour of meeting an AG, I'm sorry.  The epitomic toy of the 80s, AG is voice activated and responds in bear growls, apparently even thirty years later.  Suffice to say, AG is now comfortably settled into his new home :)

So I've been missing writing and was considering Nanowrimo this year and trying to figure if there was any way possible to fit it into my schedule -- pretty much decided not.  Booo.   But then flipped through and realized I didn't even write any flash in 2015 and only one in 2016.  Ugh, the worst. Challenging as I write best late a night and well, late night is sadly spent sleeping these days. Adulting at its finest ;-P  So thinking the goal instead might be one flash a week through Nano?  Will decide closer to.

Also looking through I realized that one of my favourite flashes - the one with the sticky notes - had disappeared.  So sad :(   Found the script of it in my old notes, so thinking I'll recreate that one at some point.  Started to, but it's a tedious process...

So work announcement from a few weeks ago -- Chris got a new job with amazing opportunities and I got a promotion :)   Woohoo!   Gold star to us :)

Was supposed to go for jury duty selection this week but it got cancelled.  Divided on that -- I've never done it before, so I was sort of curious for a new experience.  But that being said, busy at work and definitely easier to not randomly disappear for three days ;)

Happy birthday to superpuppy!  Officially 5 years old :)

So much cute!

Slow runners make fast runners look good. You're welcome.

Last weekend I finished week four of my training plan.  And I was pretty stoked about it.  The long run was no problem, the short runs were getting faster.  I was sleeping as though I'd been drugged (for she who usually doesn't sleep well, this is awesome!)  And my body is starting to show the results, so pretty excited about that.  Only at the minuscule enough that only I can tell phase, but that's where it always starts right?  Month one, you notice; month two, others close to you notice; month three, random acquaintances notice.  Awesome, right?

Okay, now who amongst my fine readers noticed that the vast majority of that paragraph is in past tense?  Why is that?   Well because I never got around to writing my very excited "yeah I finished week four" post and then week five hit.

Yes, Week Five.  The iniquitous Week Five.  Otherwise known as the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, Week Five.  *sigh*  All of a sudden my times dropped significantly and I was so tired I couldn't sleep.  This is not fun.   Only saving moment is that looking at the schedule -- evidently Week Five treats everybody this way; the reason I say that is that the training plan, which thus far had been gaining in mileage every week, suddenly dropped noticeably.  So feeling particularly wiped this week, I've decided to group my two rest days together and give my body a recovery period.   Chill today and tomorrow, regular workout Sat/Sun, chill Mon/Tues (this is more life inspired than anything but fits well with the recovery idea), and then back to our regularly scheduled program.

And to ensure that return, I have actually registered.  Committed now ;)   And now I'm taking my commitment in search of a bubble bath.

Everywhere is walking distance if you have enough time...

Just got my Fitbit report from last week, 99,374 steps.  I feel like if they'd sent any kind of "you're close to breaking 100k" message I'd have taken advantage of it.  They send me a ton of other ones, let's just add this to the list, shall we?   Sheesh.

On the plus side - they have a new program I'm quite enjoying called Adventures which puts your steps towards a trail somewhere (I'm in Yosemite Valley right now) and shows you pretty pictures along the way.  There are also treasures to be found; this could be a snipit of information (one about Ansel Adams this am) or a suggested activity (one last night was to skip for one minute - did that ever drive the dogs crazy!).  Only down side is you have to sync to get the "treasures" so I miss at least %80 of them.  Boo.  I also have realized that with all this running my step count is way elevated, so I will be in trouble when I stop and suddenly all my averages are way off.  On running days, 20k is not unusual.  On non running days, especially if I don't teach, I have to make a concerted effort to break 10.

In completely unrelated news, one of the barns I'm teaching at now has a penned dog area for if you want your dog somewhere safe while you ride.  I just thought that was a brilliant idea :).  Save loose dogs running around while owners are mounted but still lets said owners bring their dog to the barn.  Little things in life.

Poor life choices

Let's chat about poor life choices.  Mine today was randomly deciding to run before work.  To be fair to me, as with so many, my poor life choice started out with good intentions.  I knew that my team was going to the Jays game this afternoon so I was likely to not feel like doing much after, and it was supposed to rain most of the day.  So I figured I'd run before work and be good to go.

So I gamely set my alarm accordingly, and indeed all started out well -- I actually obeyed the alarm and was actually out of the house within about 2 mins of when I'd determined I'd need to be to get my run in and still be at work on time for my first meeting. 

Sash and I stepped out the door to discover not only was it still dark (expected) but it was also raining.  Ugh.  Admittedly had I discovered that before leaving the wonderful cocoon of sleep, that would've been the immediate end to today's ambition.  But by this point we were already outside.  Okay fine.

I realized my favourite "from the house" route wasn't going to work as it involves trails by the lake and, well, I don't see all that well in the light -- not thinking I should try it in the dark.

Mentally determined a new route and away we went.  And tbh, it felt really good.  Strong and fast.  Have you ever experienced a time when your feelings did not reflect reality?  Such was the case with me.  Turns out I'm slow in the morning.  Really slow.  Again, logically I know this - there's a reason I go into work so early: I need time to adjust before I have to interact with people.  But somehow my little brain didn't interpret that to mean I'd be physically slow too :(.  Seriously demoralizing.

Ah well, felt like a good run even if the data doesn't reflect that.  I finished the route I'd invented only to be almost 2k short *sigh*.  Decided I'd solution that by going to the high school track across the street.   A few laps of that (which had Sasha very puzzled I might add, although she gamely went along with it) and we made up our distance.

But now I was soaking wet and significantly later than planned.  Fail.  Quick shower and dress and good to go.  Except it turns out I wanted to wear the same shoes for the ball game.  Which were now soaking wet.  First world problems eh?   Get to the train station and they're having the same kind of day - everything is red.  Frig.   

Ah well - eventually get on a train, sign into work, and am caught up by the time I get there.  Not enough time for breakfast, but otherwise good to go.

So in the spirit of optimism, we're going to call that a win.  In the spirit of realism, Sasha and I will return to sleeping in until the last possible moment.

No matter how slowly you're going, you're faster than everybody on the couch.

Gold star to me!
Okay the graphic needs some work, but the text made me laugh and it seemed about right.  A valiant effort indeed.  And what do I get the gold star for?  Getting off the couch.  I am not even kidding.

To put this in perspective, my calendar said I needed to run 6k today.  And had I been diligently following said calendar, this probably would've been a non issue.  But you see, I had to go and get all ambitious.  So Sat, I rode my bike for half hour or so.  This in itself is impressive as it was dinner time by the time I got around to it and I was feeling less than ambitious.  Usually half hour is about 10k, but once I got going, I was feeling good so it was a little further.  All good.  Sunday I felt fine, since Saturday's ride wasn't terribly intense.  This is key as that's the long run day this week.  Long being all of 8k (hey - it's only week 2 remember!).  And I did it, and felt fine after.  Awesome.

Then I got ambitious.  Monday was a long weekend.  With perfect weather.  And I now know where the start of the rail trail is.  So I took my bike and away I went...  At about 5k I was ready to cry, my quads were *not* happy with me (did I mention the rail trail from this point is up hill?)  But I was determined to do at least 20k, and really kinda wanted 40.  So I pushed past 5, at 8 I was regretting it, but somehow by 10 I was starting to feel okay...  Sweet.  So I kept going, aiming for the 15k marker -- but the 15k marker wasn't anywhere convenient to turn around so I figured I'd go to the next road, which was at 18k...  Here was a cruel and unusual tease of ice cream and cold  drinks -- sadly I carry no cash or cards with me when I ride.  And well, 18k was so close to 20, I figured I may as well go for it.  So I rode the extra couple kms and then randomly turned around in the middle of the trail.  At about 25k I was really regretting my current life choices.  But then, remember how I said it started uphill?  Well that goes to about the 15k mark.  Which meant the rest of the ride was downhill.  And FAST!
 So yeah, that was all kinds of fun.  Except those silly guard rails that you practically have to stop to get through (and yes, I realize that is the point, to keep me from zoom zooming into traffic, but still!)  At one point one of my quads seized and I had a moment of suspicion I might pay for this later, but then it relaxed again and I was good to go.

Went home, showered, slept, and then went for a 5k walk.  Not even kidding.  Sadly this does not in fact earn a gold star because the walk was to Dairy Queen ;-P   But at least I did something to prevent my quads from completely transforming to lead.

And that brings us to today.  Where the first time I had to go from the 12th floor to the 18th floor at work I actually stared at the stairwell door for a good 30 seconds before sighing and stepping through.  The elevator *almost* won.  Add that to starting work early and ending work late (short week, of which I'm on course two days -- that means the two days in the office are somewhat crazy) and I end up getting home shortly after Chris and I usually eat dinner.  Which means he's starving and would prefer we eat first and then I run.   Except who wants to run right after eating?  Ugh.

But I dragged myself off the couch and "run" I did.  If by run, you accept a slightly faster than a walk shuffly thing.  My running loop of choice has a steep downhill and a very long slow uphill -- at least the way I usually do it.  Today I decided to reverse it -- started out well with the long slow downhill, that then got randomly very steep.  As I got to the bottom I realized I'd taken a wrong turn, so I did a figure 8 thing that resulted in me running up the very hill I'd been avoiding running up, back down the steep one, and then finally pointing the right direction.  Sweet.  So next time around I manage it, going down the right hill this time, only to meet a nice woman at the bottom who warned me with a glance at Sasha that there was a pretty black and white kitty guarding the trail further on.

Guard Cat
*sigh* Turn around and shuffle back UP the hill I'd been trying to avoid -- for the second time.  Decide that loop isn't going to work in either direction and head back home, but am still only slightly over 5k at this point.  Conveniently the high school across the street from me has a really nice track that was deserted.  A loop around the track and the long way home and I hit my 6k.  It was possibly the slowest 6k on record, although I have to say my last km was my strongest.  And I am forever grateful to the stupidly expensive running socks I bought since they cushioned all the latest blisters nicely ;)

In other news, this week was super exciting as both Chris and I earned a *real* gold star in our professional lives.  Sadly, I cannot say more for a coupe weeks. But suffice to leave with WOOHOO!!!

What do cows, university, and running have to do with one another?

So today the elevator told me that tomorrow it will have been 19 years exactly since Mum and I drove me to my first day at university.  WTF?!?!?!  How is that even possible?  I swear it was like 5 yrs ago.  Sheesh.
It also told me that in New Zealand somebody stole 500 milk cows.  Let’s just contemplate this for a moment – how, exactly, does one steal 500 cows???   And once one has 500 cows, what does one do with them?   They’re not even food cows, they’re drink cows. 

Given my inability to wrap my head around that, it can’t possibly have been 19 years since the day I drove to Fredericton for the first time.  But then I started to think of all the things that hadn't happened yet at that point:
  • Experiencing the alternate reality that is university
  • Australia, New Zealand
  • My first apartment
  • Sherlock
  • Finally receiving two undergrad degrees from UNB
  • Backpacking and riding in Europe
  • First non-co-op “grown-up” job at BrandIntel
  • Bilbo
  • MA from UofT
  • The life experience that was Myrddin
  • Visiting Lissa in Scotland
  • Zel
  • Equine Science from UoG
  • My working student adventure in the US (another alternate reality)
  • A whole lot of writing
  • Banff vacation with Mum
  • Learning to appreciate how artists think at Overdrive
  • Cuba with Kerri
  • The highs and lows of GRS
  • My closest friends all randomly deciding to have children
  • Sasha
  • My first book
  • Cuba with Chris
  • Starting work at the bank
  • Costa Rica with EVERYbody – almost ;)
  • Our wedding!   Still not really real to me…  Didn’t I just leave for frosh week like a year ago?
  • Surviving a completely gutted house renovation
  • ALL the eye surgeries
  • Dominican disaster – there had to be a negative trip eventually!
  • Buying a house
Okay maybe it has been a while.  But it doesn’t feel that long ago till I work through everything that’s happened since then.  Which then partially makes me feel really old and partially makes me glad at least interesting things *have* happened in that time ;)   And sort of excited to see what will happen next...
Anyways – random running update…  I’m still following the schedule, although tired *all* the time since my body is a little in shock.  I'm hoping it acclimatizes soon, because the times I'm posting right now are pretty sad :(   There’s a path not far from the house that I have a love/hate relationship with.  It’s just a little over a km to run the full circle, it’s by the waterfront and gorgeous, but includes wicked hills that are completely unreasonable.  Anyways – it’s conveniently just shy of a km away, so I run there, do a few laps, run home.   However, in doing my laps, I may pass the same people a few times (esp if they’re going the opposite direction).   And since I have the cutest running partner in the world, people notice her, and thus me.   The other day an older gentleman and his lady friend were fairly amused by this and started counting.   I got “that’s two, how many more to go?”, and then on the next round, “great job!” lol.  It’s the little things in life, but it made me smile.

Sasha thinks our current schedule is a great improvement over her recent life -- but then she gets every-other day off since she doesn’t come with me when I bike ;)   She also thinks that being able to come with me while I teach again is exactly as life should be too, so I have a mostly happy puppy these days  :)   I’m sure nearly as good as being at the farm all day, or even having Bailey to play with all the time, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

Very tired puppy after our weekend run

Making all the mistakes so you don't have to ;-P

I managed two days in a row ;)  Gold star to me!  Perfect weather probably helped that.   Decided I wasn't up to hills again, so went in search of the rail trail entrance I'd found when I was on my bike.  Failed horribly at finding that, but did end up on top of the escarpment and there was a great running trail there, so parked on the side of the road and decided that would work.   Right where I was starting there was a steep flight of stairs that I was curious about, but I couldn't see where they went and, well, I was already standing on a flat trail.  So I followed my trail for a bit and then it changed and went very steeply downhill.  Argh.  All I could think was about the run back *up* the trail.   The base of that trail connected to a rail trail though!  Win!  Not at all the one I was aiming for, but same basic concept of wide, flat, occupied by friendly athletic people.  So figured I'd run that to the half way point then go back and deal with the hill.  But at about the 3 km mark, I found myself at the base of what I assumed were the same stairs.  Sweet!  Instead of turning around, I'd keep running another 1.5km along the trail, turn around and run back, then climbing the stairs could be cool down.  So that was all good.  Trail was fairly gorgeous, which was nice.  The problem came when we got to the stairs and Sasha didn't want to step on them :(  Oops.  She gave it a solid go and climbed with me -- it turned out there were a lot more flights than I could see from the bottom and she was super tired, not to mention *really* didn't like the metal see-through footing.  I felt more than moderately guilty about that one :(   We did eventually make it to the top and there was a doggy water fountain there though, so that was good :)   AND although I felt snail-slow, my avg time was actually slightly faster than yesterday.  Win.

Newbie Running Lessons Learned so far:

- Do not carry your phone in a belt at the small of your back.  It will seem like an ingenious idea, and be almost unnoticed during the run.  But the extreme tenderness resulting from the constant pounding is so very not worth it.   Somehow when I consider running, I've never expected my lower back to be the sorest part ;-P

- When your running buddy is a canine, consider the terrain from their point of view.  I'm used to planning a route with horses in mind, and even for my bike I make definite concessions, but this is the first time Sasha has needed an alternate route.  Puppy owner fail :(

- Puppy water fountains are an awesome invention.   This was actually the best one I've seen yet in that the water flowed into an attached basin as opposed to just a low tap to the ground.  Very civilized.

- Shorts that are fitted enough to not rub are critical.  Just trust me on that one.

- Average time lost by running hills is greater than average time lost to exhaustion.  As in, I was faster today than yesterday, but I'm putting that down to the fact that the route was downhill or flat.  Win.

- If you drive to your run, a towel or something to sit on on the drive home might be a civilized idea.  As would a large bottle of water.

- After the run, do not sit down for any length of time.  Ugh.  I swear my legs turned into bricks on the way home and *screamed* when I tried to reanimate them to get out of the car.   I did stretch, I swear.  But apparently did not cool out quite enough to dissipate the lactic acid.  Fail.  Sasha, otoh, seems smarter than I, for though she too was clearly tired, she's been wandering around the house and the yard since we got back with only short breaks ;)

The 12 minute mile is just as far as the 6 minute mile...

So on Monday I randomly decided I should run a half marathon.  Cause, you know, I haven't taken on any ridiculous goals lately.   I wanted to do it in the spring but surgery got in the way.  And it turns out I hate winter and strongly dislike running so the combination of unfit Laur attempting to run in miserable weather was less than successful.  I think my plan lasted about three days.   Mostly this is about the fact that I'm not nearly as fit as I'd like to be, not riding regularly or working the barn ever, and don't have enough money to pay for a personal trainer.  Running I know to be effective, does not require a trainer (although Dana's helping me long distance via FB -- woohoo!), and is *almost* free.  Almost cause, well, she who hates shopping will require new running clothes.  Of course.  Also a bunch of the guys I work run so I can join the conversation ;)   At the time I was thinking also this would contribute to beach body for winter trip, but thinking now a trip this winter may not be happening.  What a waste of a half marathon.  Clearly should wait and do this next fall ;-P

Right, we're going to pretend I still get to go to a beach this winter.  So if I'm going to run a half marathon, I need a race to run.  And since budget is a problem, it can't be anywhere fun like Hawaii.  Okay, well I know the Waterfront Marathon is in the fall in Toronto and is billed as being the second-fastest in Canada -- this being because basically, it's flat.  And to a newbie taking on a ridiculous goal, flat is good.  Sweet.  Challenge: it's in 8 weeks (minus a couple days).   Hmmmm did some Googling and, well, nowhere did I find any sign that nothing-to-half-marathon training was even remotely feasible in 8 weeks.  Not that that necessarily will stop me, but well, I'd like to be able to walk the day after the race.

Okay so pause on that idea.  Except I really liked the idea, mostly because I want to be fit again and if I don't have a ridiculous goal to chase it probably won't happen.  So do a little more googling -- and guess what, there's another race in Hamilton a couple weeks later.   And it's billed as the *fastest* in Canada.  Sweet!  Map suggests about two blocks of uphill right at the start and the rest is downhill or flat.  This seems entirely reasonable.  Note, "the fastest" means nothing to me beyond my brain translating to "the easiest".  I am not doing this remotely for speed.  My entire goal will be finishing before the course closes ;-P   I am reasonable after all.  Stop laughing.

So it's just shy of 11 weeks away.  And I've found lots of 12 week training plans.  I'm willfully ignoring the more reasonable 16 week or even 6 month training plans in acknowledging my limited attention and dedication span.  I found several "beginner" plans that are 12 weeks.   Picked the one I liked best and modified slightly to include some details from second choice plan.  A couple things I was looking for -- most important is that I didn't want one that built all the way to race day.  I want to build and then come down for a week or two before the grand finale.  I also wanted one that included cross training and strength training and at least one or two rest days / week.  This I found, the only down side was it was in miles instead of KM, but google was quick to help me update that.  It also conveniently had a really good option of a skip week, to bring it down to 11 in that in only one instance, two weeks were nearly identical.  I chose to remove the lighter of the two.

So it being about 11:00 on Monday night when I finalized the plan, day 1 was a complete write off.  I crossed it out and labeled it NA.  Plan to start with Tuesday -- rest day.  Awesome.  Conveniently timed as I usually teach late on Tuesdays.  Since that's changing to Mondays the plan might have to change slightly, but for this week it's all good.

Wednesday was a cross-train day, which basically meant I got to go play on my bike ;)   I put in exactly the right time and used it to measure off some routes.  Ummm 10k is *really* far.   I was less thrilled by that.  And that'd be a half half marathon.  Now to be fair, I have done 15k before, and the summer before I started at the bank was running decent distances and times (for me - I'll never be fast) regularly.  However since then, nada.  Lol, just went to find the blog post from the 15k...   Fun times.  This one I'm actually going to try and train for, but I'm not starting remotely near as fit as I was then.

Alright so Wednesday was good.  Check.  Thursday.  Thursday was torrential rain.  And it took me more than two hours to get home.  Thursday, lets be honest, didn't happen.  Thursday, the first actual *running* day, didn't happen.  This is not a good start.

And Friday, today, was supposed to be another cross train day (this schedule doesn't have running two days in a row anywhere) but I really feel that if I'm going to run a half marathon, I should at least attempt running ;-P   So run I did, not any of the routes I'd cycled, but found a better one that goes on trails and is thus more fun.  Hills though.  Ugh evil monstrous hills.  But I figure if I train with hills, my nice flat race should seem easier.  Right? ;-P   Sasha came with me -- turns out she's not particularly fit either.   We stopped for one water break, but other than that was a run/walk combo (which I'm targeting for race day too -- my attempt at realistic goals) that did just over 4.5km in 35 mins (with a 1 min puppy water break).  Slow, but not nearly as slow as I'd feared.   However, now I've thrown off the system and tomorrow when my legs are like lead, I'll have the long run of the week (all of 6km -- week 1 people!).  Should be an interesting experience.

Fun moment of the run, as I'm almost home and Sash and I are barely jogging at this point, run past a fenced yard where the dog on the other side runs at the fence, holding his toy, barking and growling. Dog's male person is in the yard with him telling him to be quiet.  After we pass I hear "Don't growl at other dogs.  Especially when they're with a hot girl like that."   Have to admit it made me smile, although at that moment it could well have been literal -- I was a sweaty mess!  Ugh.

So while I've cancelled my gym membership due to lack of attendance, I am seriously considering getting one at the gym at work so that A -- I can run early am or at lunch as I can go in there to shower after, and B -- gives me an alternative for rainy miserable days.   Would also like to state right now, if it's miserable weather come race day, I'm just not that dedicated.  It's early November, so my odds are iffy at best.

Why is "it's all downhill from here" negative?

So as those who are also on my Facebook may know, I have a new bike.  Technology has come a long way since the purchase of my last bike.  With said new bike I can ride faster and for significantly longer and be less tired at the end.  I can keep up with Chris with no problems; with the old one, this was a challenge.   With said new bike, other cyclists smile and say hi when we pass each other.  With the old one, they'd look aside and pretend they hadn't seen ;)  On flat stretches I'm averaging about 10k/h faster than I used to, hills I admit I'm still super slow, but at least I can make it now ;)

I feel like I wrote a post about the bike search adventure, but can't seem to find it...  hmmmm okay, well if you wish I'd *actually* posted that story, keep reading for the summary.  If not, scroll down a few paragraphs to where today's adventure starts...

So, in summary of the great bike quest: DH (he so earned the title that day ;) and I spent all day driving to every bike shop within a 3-city range (news flash: there are a LOT of them) test driving bikes and talking to sales people, only for me to buy the very first one I tried ;)  Ah well, that's what happens when you're shopping for something you know nothing about.  I certainly don't try out that many horses before buying one!  LOL.  I discovered every bike shop seems to have a group of men that just hang out there.  So random.  At one shop said group of men was highly amused by the fact that I was test driving two completely different bikes.  But well, when you don't know exactly what you want, you may as well try everything *g*

In the end I bought a Diverge from the little bike shop in Waterdown (they have impossible hours, but amazing service if you can get there).  Of all the stores we went to, the sales guy there was by far the best (and in subsequent trips I can say the other staff there are equally impressive).  This was proven even more by the fact that they were first, so I had my greenest questions for them and *really* no idea what to ask or what I should be trying -- esp after they suggested my Google result probably wouldn't be the best fit ;)   I did try said Google result at another store later and, well, they were right.  They asked the right questions, made one suggestion they thought was the correct fit, and left it at that.  And in the end, it was exactly right.

So the Diverge is essentially a road bike that's just a little bit sturdier so can handle the trails.   I liked the feel of it a lot more than the cross bikes, and while I did quite enjoy one of the road bikes, I *really* enjoy trails.  Having been riding it for a few weeks now, I can say it's definitely best on the road, no problem on the rail trail or tightly packed trails, does *not* do sand or big gravel.  It made that very clear to me ;)
And now, for our regularly scheduled program
Today had gorgeous weather and Chris was planning to work on his man cave all day (that unfortunately got rescheduled) so I had decided I'd go for a longer ride today.  I had a flyer of Hamilton bike rides -- about half of which start/finish at the Aldershot GO station so decided I'd pick one of those.  Decided on an "easy" Dundas Valley run, that was 21 km and would need just a little extra to get to our place as it didn't start in Aldershot.  Okay, "easy" seems like an excellent idea, 21km sb no problem.

Right.  So issue one occurred when I realized fairly quickly that the maps lacked some pretty critical information -- like street names.  Some were there but not all.  Okay, np, I have Google.  All good, right?  Yeah no.  That didn't work either. Okay well, I really just want to ride and I know kinda where I want to go, so what does it matter if I can't find the outlined route?
A fairly scenic start to my ride
And I mostly made it to Dudas about how I expected, so that was good.  But then I didn't want to just turn around and come back (future me really wishes I'd been smart enough to do that.  Trip TO Dundas was uphill, reverse trip would've been downhill.  And short.)  Anyways, suffice to say I did *not* in-fact, do that.  I rode around Dundas for a bit, looking at some of the gorgeous old houses, then decided to follow "old Ancaster road" which, I discovered all too soon, meanders its way uphill.  Ugh.  Fail.
About 1/2 way up the hill, this little side route looked so pretty I had to stop and take a pic.
Yes, the photo is why I had to stop ;)

This was where I learned that short breaks can be remarkably revitalizing.  Went from "can barely pedal" to "this is no problem" in about 2 mins.  Sweet.  When I got to the top I realized I was close to where Kerri and I went riding on the rail trail way back when.  Sweet :)  So I rode around for a little bit and eventually found a trail entrance.  Pointed myself back in the general direction of Dundas and away I went.  Bike handles well on the rail trail, so all good.  Passed a bunch of riders (ummm horseback that is) which made me all kinds of miss my ponies and summer hacks but otherwise all good.

In here I was starting to get tired, so when I got to the train area (trail centre) I stopped to look at a map.  I knew by this point I was in Dundas Valley, so must be reasonably close to Dundas.   Except I was all kinds of turned around and it looked like the trail that should take me out was closed.   So I kept going the way I'd been going and the next road turned the direction that'd take me back sort of home.  All good, except the road was under construction and was *horrible* to ride on; the only time downhill in this whole ride was a negative.   Credit to my awesome bike for surviving that.   Sadly my brand new back light that I literally just installed before heading out, did not.   And while it landed in one piece when it bounced off, it did not stay in once piece when the car behind me ran over it :(    *sigh*

Eventually made it off the road from hell and back to a main street, one I recognized would take me home.  Somehow uphill again?   That just seemed horribly unfair after the previous downhill had been so brutal.  But sobeit.   Rode past the entrance to Dundas Valley  -- definitely would've saved time and effort if I'd gotten there from the trains.  Blah.  Anyways, continued my slow pedal till I eneded up roughly back in Dundas and from there got myself sorted out to get home.
This caught my eye as I was trying to find my way home.
Definitely wasn't on my route in!
I was very tired at this point, and about half way up yet another hill had to stop.  Looking over I realized I was stopped next to a dog park.  Sweet -- one of today's things was to take the dog to the park....   Hmmmm C has a truck, and the dogs...   Maybe all of them could come here and then we could all go home together.  Maybe.  Alas, C had just put something in the oven.  He'd come rescue me, but couldn't come till it was done cooking.

Well I've never been very good at waiting to be rescued, so I climbed back on and continued the pedaling, very happy when I crested the hill to see there was enough of a downhill to get me up the next uphill!  Lol -- little things in life.   And after I made it up that one, I knew where I was and, more importantly, knew the rest was all downhill.

I think we need to reconsider the negative connotations associated with "it's all downhill from here" because at that moment, that knowledge made me just about the happiest person ever.  So I made it home.  My 21km bike ride took 42km -- and this, ladies and gentleman, is what happens when you decide it doesn't really matter where you're going :)

How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?

Fair warning:  It is about 1:30 am and I'm thumb-typing this on my phone.   

It's been an entertaining few days :)

Fri was my birthday, which I firmly believe should always be spent having fun ;).  Chris had to work in the am so I took the dogs for an extra long park adventure which was a fairly perfect start to the day.  Then when he came home we went to Darien Lake.  I really wanted a water park and Wild Water Kingdom is apparently closed.  Fail.  Wonderland is crazy expensive so we figured we'd go try that one.

Yeah.  Incredibly disappointing.  There were a grand total of 7 slides going (discounting the "gentle") ones.  That's not 7 sets, 7 total.  One was by itself so we did it first and it was actually very cool - have never been on anything like it.  An inflatable tube ride where you're basically shot into a funnel till you run out of impulsion and slide back down and up the other side (think snowboard halfpipe) until you eventually run out of power and float out the end.  This would've been all kinds of awesome if not for the 45ish minute wait.

So remaining was a set of four slides that intertwined that all require inflatable tubes, and a set of two that did not.  So we went up to the one that didn't need them.  From the ground it just looked like every other tube slide out there -- you'll be in a dark, enclosed, tube that twists and turns to the bottom.  Nbd.  But the line.  If I'd realized how slowly it was going to go, I'm not sure I would've been dedicated enough to try.  Line was well over an hour - for a 10 second ride.   The only thing that made this ride interesting was the start: you stand up in a tube (think Jetsons) and the floor drops out from under you.  It was an interesting experience. Not actually as intense as I'd expected it might be but definitely different!   Would've done that one again but, hour + wait.

And on that wait we heard the wait for the other set of slides was more than an hour and a half.  Ummm no thanks.  By this point I was so cold I was shaking. 

So yeah - all the way there for two water slides.  Fail.   Got dressed and went to wander around the park.  Chris picked the wooden roller coaster cause it seemed gentle and he knows I don't like roller coasters.  What he didn't know was how much worse the wooden ones are.  I've tested this theory a couple times, but this one was the worst.  

He seemed to find it moderately amusing but me... Not so much.  We wandered a bit to let my stomach settle and Chris wanted to do an upside down one.  This doesn't bother me in the least!  Lol cause well, I never do things the easy way.  But in reality it's the drop I hate and loops don't have the same drop feeling so they don't bother me at all.   So we did one of those that resembled Wonderland's Bat which was so much more civilized than that nightmare wooden monstrosity ;)

Wandered a while longer but didn't find anything particularly appealing -- more than half the rides we're running.   So after a grand total of 4 rides, we went home.  Pretty sad.

We did stop for a fairly amazing dinner on the way though which was very nice :). And may or may not have detoured through the Cheesecake Factory on the way home.  Also very civilized.  I'm pretty glad we don't have those easily accessible ;)

So then woke up stupidly early on Sat and went to ride, but sadly pony was fairly footsore so that didn't work terribly well.  Fail.

Went home and ran some errands (including picking up my awesome new - excessively large - photo printer.  Thanks hon :). Then hop on the train to go to the Roger's Centre for the Guns N Roses concert.  Surprised?  Yeah, not a line I ever expected to write ;). But I generally like concerts and C was really looking forward to it so why not?

So the people watching was fairly entertaining.  Age range about 10-70, which is fairly impressive all on its own.  I was surprised at how young some were but even discounting the extremes, there was still an impressive variety of people.    Show was supposed to start at 8:30 - and opening act was before than and done by then.  Stadium was still half empty.   GnR took the stage a little after 9:30 and by that point it was packed.

Sitting next to me (and in half of my seat) was an excessively obese man.  Had to wonder what would happen if someone his size had had my ticket.  And while the empathetic part of me realizes he has to be fairly miserable -- or at very least uncomfortable -- the other half of me says if I were that large, I would buy two seats.  It was kinda ridiculous.  Fortunately, the row wasn't packed and C and I were able to move over one seat and get some breathing room.   Unfortunately that put me directly below somebody who clearly had more money than brain cells as he twice managed to soak me with very expensive beer (like hair and shirt dripping).  I thought I'd escaped beer showers by the time I left uni.  It was an experience I could've done without repeating.  He later tried to rectify the situation by dumping water on me instead.  Lovely.

The guys in front were amusingly enthusiastic and I suspect also soaking the people in front of them -- except they knew the people in front of them so somehow not quite so bad ;)   I was also highly amused that throughout the second half of the show they were continually shouting for "Patience" -- of all the titles they could have picked... ;)

The show itself was pretty good.  I was surprise at how little interaction there was either between the band members or between the band and the audience.  But so be it.  It was very high energy, decently long, and good enough video that even swinging from the ceiling, we could still see :).   Axl has had some hard years and was almost sad to watch.  Like the guy who tries to fit into his rebel clothes for his 40th high school reunion.  The two guitarists and the drummer though were awesome to watch, so it balanced out.  And miscellaneous fireworks are always fun.

We left slightly early to catch the train, only to sit for 25 mins while they waited for the concert to let out.  *rolling eyes*. Ah well.   About half way home now, with a train packed full of people who evidently never take the train, but my phone's about to die so I'm off.  Looking forward to bday dinner w my family tomorrow :)


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