Here there be dragons...

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

What have I gotten myself into this time...

I did something today that *might* have been a little foolish.   But like most of the foolish things I get myself into, it should at least provide some blog fodder ;)

What did I do?  (I'm going to assume since you're still reading, you're at least moderately curious as to the answer -- except Kennedy, cause, well, she already knows :).  I, for reasons beyond logic, have committed to participating in the Ride to Conquer Cancer this June.

This goes well beyond my usual insanity in that it is a ridiculous challenge on not one, but TWO levels.   First, she who has never ridden more than 60km in one day and never without doing a whole lot of nothing the next day, needs to somehow pull off 200km in two?!?!   And it's Canada, so I'm not counting on consistent Laur-approved cycling weather any time soon ;-P. This does not strike me as a reasonable ask.  I have booked the day after the ride as a vacation day ;)  And second, she who is phenomenally bad at asking for help and hates asking for money with a passion (there's a reason I've never been in sales!) is somehow supposed to raise a minimum of $2500?!?!   Minimum -- yeah the "recommended" target is $3800.   Ummmm.  Right.   Let's just lower the bar a little shall we?   Sheesh.

For the uninitiated, this ride is one involving a bicycle instead of a horse.  Fail.  It covers 200km from Toronto to Niagara Falls and should, at least, be a rather stunning ride :).  Can we all start hoping now that the weather gods choose to make it sunny, breeze free, and about 20 degrees that weekend? ;).  I do, in fact, own a bike -- which I purchased last year and have really enjoyed riding.  But there's "enjoy" riding and "capable of spending all day" riding -- I'm pretty firmly in the first half.

So why?   Well we all know I'm due for another completely ridiculous goal.  And this one at least helps humanity -- it's a fundraiser to benefit Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, one of the world’s top 5 cancer research centres, which has a goal of defeating cancer within our lifetime.   They're doing so by focusing simultaneously on four areas: detecting cancer earlier, diagnosing more accurately and specifically, focusing treatments to target cancerous cells while leaving healthy tissue in tact, and support programs to help families living with cancer.  So that seemed a reasonable place to start.

I once wrote a post -- something along the lines of "why I ride", that was, of course, focused on horseback riding.   Nostalgic me wants to go find it and reread it; practical me has too much stuff to do tonight!  And last night thinking of the above question, I re-wrote "why I ride" to be the more personal answer to the above question and have decided to use this to support my sponsorship page.  It seems slightly wrong somehow, to post the more personal answer on the public page, but I feel it is by far the more important reason. (And yes,  I get that this is public too -- but I suspect far fewer people read this than hopefully will see that).

So grab some popcorn, sit back, and enjoy the ride ;).  And if you have a minute while you're waiting for the stories to roll in, feel free to visit my Ride page.   You have no idea how much help I need!

Oh - and if anybody else wants to ride with me -- use this link to register: it'll get you $50 off the registration price and put money toward my goal :)

Core de Force returns!

As you may remember if you follow this blog, I decided to test out the home workout program "Core de Force". Unfortunately this plan got derailed, as so many have in the last year, thanks to eye surgery *sigh*.   However, I got the go-ahead to start exercising again last week and was good and built things up slowly.  But now I have five weeks till vacation and no sign of an ab in sight.  Hmmm.  Time to step it up a little ;)

Last night I stayed up late writing a Friday flash, and I was moderately happy with it which put me in a good mood when I went to sleep.  This morning I slept in, got up long enough to let the dogs in to cuddle and then dozed a while longer.   Read in bed a bit.  Was just generally lazy.  It was amazing.  I was not at all inclined to spoil it with a workout.  But given that I have trouble fitting exercise in as regularly as I'd like during the week, I'd committed to doing some form of exercise.  What was still open for discussion, and that commitment was sorely tested when the DVD play decided it wasn't inclined to function *sigh*.  But I got it to cooperate, and then not only did I push play, but I pushed play on the next video in the series.  

Logic would suggest after more weeks off than I put in, perhaps I should start over.  Right, you're not new here.  The new video of the day is Piyo -- described as Boxing, Muay Thai, and plyometrics in one workout.  Have I mentioned recently how much I hate plyometrics *sigh*.  As with all the others in the series, this video is broken into 3-mintue "rounds".   A combination of moves that you repeat for a set amount of time, a "spike" that is supposed to be 30 seconds of high intensity cardio to get your heart rate up.  Then repeat both.   You do this 12 times.  Each spike is in two rounds, but all the exercises in the rounds differ.  And the one spike I really hate isn't in this video.  Hence, my new favourite video ;)

I very quickly learned the complexity of the moves and exercises is greater in this one.  I discovered this as I nearly landed on the ground trying to do a knee jump forward -- jump forward, leading with your knee while leaning backward.  But the lean caused my landing leg to slide forward on the carpet.   Dodgy, very dodgy ;).   And of course this is combined with other moves to exasperate the situation.

Anyways -- I kept going, all good, and was introduced to the superman punch.  This one is simply fun.  I'm certain I looked like a complete idiot -- esp once I figured it out and so really threw myself into it (literally).  But there's something about it that just makes me feel like a little kid.   It did pose a distinct risk to my TV though -- as it's a very small space I'm exercising in, and I might've had a bit more forward momentum than I'd realized *g*.  This one I *really* can't coordinate on the off leg.   You basically kick one leg backwards to power the same hand forward while jumping forward at the same time.  Amused me anyways.

Yeah along with that, the switching sides was a bit of a fail.  Usually for the second half of each exercise I switch which limbs are doing what.  But for two or three rounds in the middle I just could *not* wrap my head around that.  Hopefully once I've done the video a few times.  But that was, shall we say, less than successful.

I would say I managed the first 8.5 rounds well enough -- other than some coordination challenges, I was keeping up and playing the game.  It did amuse me every time they referred to "this will help improve your agility" -- I wonder what they'd think at work if I put in that recommendation since "improving agility" is very much the in thing there right now ;-P

But then my body was done.   The "Big Jump" spike more closely resembled a minuscule shuffle.  And when the overly perky trainer said "I want to see you jump higher" I may or may not have responded, out loud, a response that might have contained some snark.  However, like with talking at ignorant drivers on the road, talking to trainers who can't hear you equally makes it more tolerable.  And lets be honest, any real life trainer that I've worked with for any length of time I would've said to their face ;).    I did get an extra boost in round 12 randomly -- had all kinds of power for that one.  Don't know where it came from, but I'll take it.   And while I talk back to the trainers once I get tired, I will admit the "only five more seconds" will usually convince me I can give a little more effort.  Unless I'm really having a bad day, which leads to "oh only five seconds, I may as well be done now" ;).  But today was a good day, so it got more results.

They do offer corrections throughout, most of which I find are bang on so credit to the scripting.  They clearly know what mistakes beginners are going to make and when.  I can't comment if this would be any use to anybody who has martial arts experience, but for me it's ideal.   But the one that always gets me is "is your guard up?"   No.  No it's not.  There is not possibly enough time for me to put my guard back up between move A and move B.   And when I try, the usual result is me punching myself in the face, so suffice to say I'm not all that eager to try ;-P.   I do understand the necessity in an actual fight, but so far the shadows I'm boxing have yet to land any blows *g*

But the final insult comes in the cool down -- which is the same (or very close to) in all the videos.   In one stretch which requires balance, there's a line about "if you need help, grab a friend" -- and shows one person holding another's shoulder for balance.  But of course then it follows up with "if you don't have a friend, use a chair."  So very sad.  Which for some reason I found this highly amusing, but I had just finished 12 rounds, so maybe the shadows landed more punches than I thought ;-P

Anyways -- there is a golden orb in the sky that vaguely resembles something I recall seeing once upon a time, so Sasha and I are going adventuring.   

#FridayFlash 67: A Flash of Colour

Follow the lemmings, she thought as she joined the hundreds of commuters filing two by two down the stairs to exit the train station.   Her whole life had been an adventure.  She loved that her friends watched her, bemused, to see what the next twist might be.  But now she who loved light, colour, and openness trudged between the tight grey rows of skyscrapers.

At the first red light, she looked around, determined not to succumb to the temptation to stare at her phone and complete the transformation into “one of them”.  It was a little defiance, but the only thing she could do to keep her sense of self.  On the opposite corner, she noticed a teenage girl wearing a brilliant red cape. Most unusual though was that the girl was looking right at her. They made eye contact as the light changed.  The girl pointed with her chin over her shoulder, spun around and left; her cape billowed behind her as people blindly shuffled to allow her to pass through.

Lizzie elbowed her way to the front of the crowd, eyes scanning the limited routes.  A flash of red flickered at the edge of an alley, and without allowing herself to consider her motives, Lizzie trailed it.  This alley was noticeably quieter and calmer.   The masses of people continued down the main road.  Up ahead the girl looked back over her shoulder, gave a mischievous wink, and let herself through a gate.

Lizzie was sure the gate hadn’t been there yesterday.  She would’ve sworn this was a dead end.  She looked behind her, giving a moment’s thought to the safe and responsible option of continuing on to work.  She dismissed it instantly. 

On closer inspection, Lizzie decided the gate had been there forever, she’d simply missed it.  It was ancient, yet opened smoothly when she pushed through it.  She heard the latch click behind her and turned to look back, relieved that everything was exactly as she’d expect to see and then amused at herself for considering anything else.  But when she faced forward, her world had changed.  The girl still stood waiting for her, but no longer was she standing in a city alley with office buildings on either side of her; in front of her lay something from a storybook – rolling hills of green, trees off to one side, and a castle in the distance.  A frantic look back revealed the city Lizzie knew, and she reached backward for the gate.  The cold metal in her hand was reassuring, but as she opened it, she felt an almost overwhelming sense of loss.  She allowed the gate to close again which dulled the sensation significantly, but her fingers turned white with the intensity of the grip she kept.

“What…?  Where…?” usually articulate, she found herself unable to formulate a question that would address the situation she found herself in.

A bird calling in the distance was the only answer she received.  It was not a city bird she heard. 

Lizzie’s feet felt rooted in cement.  She could not go forward if she wished, but nor was she inclined to tolerate the intense misery of the gate.  The other girl’s hands were interlaced in front of her while she stood quietly.  Her eyes shone of wisdom and experience well beyond what her age should allow.

“Who are you?” Lizzie’s words came out barely more than a whisper.

“I was once as you are now.  I made my choice; now you must make yours.”  Her melodic voice had a hypnotic tone to it that suited the look in her eyes but not her youth.

“How did that work out for you?”

The girl’s eyes crinkled as she let out a short laugh that instantly set Lizzie at ease.   The woman-girl paused for a moment, looking away from Lizzie before answering.

“My choice had consequences,” she spoke slowly, as though considering each word.  “Some were very hard,” she gave a gentle laugh, making Lizzie wonder how much time had passed that such hard results could now have happy memories.   Lizzie waited for her to continue, but the girl had her lips pressed tightly together.

She phrased her next question carefully.  

“If you were to do it again, knowing what you know now, would you make the same choice you did?”

The girl gave the smallest of nods before speaking, “Yes I would, but realize I did not face the same choice you have in front of you.  Your choice is your own, but if you wait much longer to decide, you’re going to be late for work.”

The reality check startled Lizzie.  What was she doing?  She had to get to work.  She needed that job.  She opened the gate and felt the sense of loss wash over her.  Her feet were still unwilling to move.  Reaching into her purse she smiled; she never missed a day so nobody would care as long as she called in – and given that she was seeing fantasy countries in a dead-end alley, she was clearly in need of a mental health day.

Her relief at the simple solution disappeared instantly when she discovered she had no service.

“Really?” her guide rolled her eyes, suddenly seeming entirely like the teenager she appeared to be.

So go to work like a responsible adult or play hooky for a little while?  That was the decision Lizzie tried to rationalize, but she knew in the part of her soul that’s reserved only for truth, that the choice she had to make would be immeasurably more significant than that.

She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, thought about everybody important in her life, and realized that every one of them would understand that she needed to make the choice they never would.

So with fear and excitement warring for control over her emotions, she let go of the gate and walked towards her next adventure.

Believe it or not, it's been two years :)

Caramel and Chocolate Yumminess
Thursday was our second anniversary (yeah us!).  Chris was on nights this week, which meant he'd be done work for the week at 7am on Friday, so I took Friday off.  We didn't really have any plans beyond dinner but seemed like a fun thing to do.

When I got home on Thurs, there was no Aussie face looking at me through the window.  Odd.  But I figured they were probably out back.  Came in, put my stuff away, talked to Chris for a bit, exchanged anniversary/birthday gifts ;).  But still no puppy in the window.  Ummmm where are the dogs?

Turns out Chris had the night off so had taken the dogs to my parents so we could go out.  Sweet.  Although I still didn't really clue in why the dogs would need to go somewhere else?  Yeah took me a sec to clue in that go out actually meant go somewhere :).  I was pretty excited when the light went on.  lol we went up to Collingwood and had C's bday dinner at a brewery he wanted to try.  Really good and packed with pares-ski peoples.   Amazing how being there suddenly made me want to go skiing.  I haven't been skiing since uni but now I want to ;)

Skipped that idea, spent the night and then went to Scandanav Spa the next day.  So nice.  Took me forever to actually get my little brain to stop spinning, but then was happy and relaxed for several hours after :)

Then dinner was at Spencer's in Burlington.  Also really nice -- watching people skating on the frozen wading pool outside the window.

All-around a really nice couple days and a great start to the wknd :)