Here there be dragons...

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

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 :)