Thursday, February 17, 2011

Week six: I *heart* two-degree weather, and the importance of cross-training

Yay!!! I just checked The Weather Network, and for the first time in weeks, the forecast is 2 degrees and there's no snow or rain. Funny how we have such short-term memories that we forget what running in warm weather feels like.

I plan to embrace tonight's run and enjoy this momentary respite from the messy cold white stuff. Sure, I was poetic last time and talked about how it was all icing sugar heavy on trees. But after weeks of frigid, tush-freezing cold, nothing beats a run in zero to 15 degree weather (although I'm also partial to running in the rain...but more on that some other time).

Since Sunday was Day-Before-Valentine's-Day and Monday was Valentine's Day, I opted to miss a few runs while spending time with hubby. Just picture us now -- holding hands, staring googly-eyed at each other, little pink and red hearts floating out of the tops of our heads as we enjoyed brunch at Chez Tess (Eggs Benedict Crepe and Croque Madame, yum!). And my legs blissfully folded under my chair, not whirling beneath me like a very slow Road Runner.

What I've come to realize is that I'm no Olympic athlete (don't worry, it didn't take me long to realize that -- I've never had illusions ofgrandeur when it came to my abilities as a speedy runner), so it's all about balance. Sometimes, it's ok to enjoy a brunch or Valentine's Day dinner with your hubby, significant other or friends.

That's  not to say that I've been potatoed on my sofa doing nothing. I've supplemented some run days with cross-training like Zumba (oh how I love to dance -- I did use to have illusions of becoming a famous dancer, but how famous can you be at five foot nothing?), step class, yoga and strength training. Ever since my first half marathon (where all I did was run -- back then it was just about getting in the runs and building up the strength in my legs), I've learned that cross-training is important to help you develop other muscle groups like your back and core, so that you're not just running around with massive runner thighs but feeble spaghetti arms.

As this article from explains, cross-training is also a great way to boost your cardiovascular fitness, because you're bumping your heart rate at different rates than when you're just running. Our bodies are incredibly resilient, so if you're always only ever doing the same thing, your body can get acclimatized to it. Mixing it up helps to keep your body alert and challenges you in different ways. Of course, all of that helps to reduce the risk of injury.

Finally, mixing it up also keeps you interested and motivated, so you don't get bored and quit altogether.

But on nights like this, when the sun is setting on the harbour and the mercury's hovering at around 2, I'm anxious to get into my running gear, lace on my shoes and get out there.

Signing out and lacing on my shoes now!

~ Ceebie

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Canadian writers speak out on Bill C-32

Canadian writers and creative people (that includes photographers or anyone whose intellectual property is able to be photocopied by educational institutions): if you haven't heard about Bill C-32 and how it might affect you, take a look at this video put together by the Writers' Union of Canada:

I'm a writer in my day and evening jobs. I've been a writer for as long as I can remember. And while the actual writing itself doesn't make up most of my income because I'm an in-house staff, for thousands of writers and creators across the country, it does. And theirs isn't a glamorous job - they depend on income not only from book sales or magazine contracts, but also from things like the income they receive when universities, schools and other educational institutions copy their work.

If Bill C-32 allows educational institutions to copy these materials free of charge, it means that these creators (and me) will have to subsist on just that much less.

Copyright exists to protect our roles as creators. Let's make sure it continues to do that. Please help ensure that the voices of Canada's creators are heard, and spread the word.

~ Ceebie

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Morning Grand Marnier French Toast

Woke up early and made this for today for our first married Valentine's Day...Forgot to take photos but it was oh so pretty (and yummy too!). Adapted from a recipe my friend Susy gave me.

What you'll need:

3 eggs
1/3 c.  orange juice
1/6 c.  Grand Marnier
1/6 c.  milk
1 1/2 Tbsp.  sugar  (optional)
1/8 tsp.  vanilla
1/8 tsp.  salt
finely grated peel of half an orange
icing sugar
a whole lotta lovin'

Cut bread into heart shapes (note: the bread will shrink with cooking so best to cut out big hearts full of love and tenderness :) ).

Beat eggs in a large bowl. Add orange juice, G.M., milk, sugar, vanilla, salt and peel and mix well. Heat fry pan at high heat, melt butter, then lower to medium heat.

Drop bread into pan and fry until each side is golden brown and egg mixture has dried out.

Drizzle with syrup and sprinkle with icing sugar.

Serve with love and a kiss.

(note: you can also opt to make with French bread cut to 1 1/2" thickness, dipped in the mixture and left in the fridge overnight)

~ Ceebie

Monday, February 07, 2011

Week four: Whatever it is, find something to kick your butt out that door

Well, I am into week five of the 18-week marathon training program, and week four is now complete. I'm not gonna lie and say that I've been the perfect runner and done every single run on the schedule. Sometimes a girl just needs a night off to watch stupid TV and lounge on the sofa.

Winter has moved in to the city like a messy roommate, leaving snowbanks and icy sidewalks lying around like dirty socks (although the snow was pretty in the aftermath of the storm, all icing sugar heavy on trees and bushes). And although Groundhog Day was last week, I'm pretty confident that our local groundhogs didn't see their shadows that day. It was no Snowpocalypse, but there was enough snow dumped on us over a 24-hour period that our snowbanks are now higher than me (which for those who know me isn't saying much,'s saying something). Which makes road running a little interesting.

Take last night, for instance. While my hubby settled in for the opening ceremonies of the SuperBowl, I found that inner shoe to kick my butt into gear and headed out the door at around 5:00pm for a leisurely 16k run. And boy did I need that kick in the pants.

As I skirted the dirty snow on Herring Cove road, relishing in the downhill stretch before the long uphill climb on Joe Howe Drive, I soon realized that what looked like wet pavement was actually black ice. Each time my foot struck the pavement where it looked slightly wet, I felt a little slip. So I soon started breaking into this little tip-of-my-toe run, much like I would look  like if I were running in high heels, whenever I spotted wet pavement. And where there wasn't ice, every so often there were these impassable puddles that you had no choice but to run through, cold water sloshing in your sneakers as you continued.

At least it wasn't miserably cold out like it had been the previous Monday (-13 degrees, without the wind chill), but as it was my first 16k in months, the thought of the distance yet to be run seemed like it would stretch on forever. That's the funny thing about running: so much of it is mental. You build on the distance, week by week, until what seemed impossibly far all of a sudden seems small -- because just last week you ran only 2k less.

The important thing is to get out there on those days when all you'd rather do is snuggle up on the sofa and watch TV. You need to find that kick in the pants that will get you out that door; whether it's your hubby reminding you of all the work you've already put in and how proud he is of you for sticking with it, your running buddy who you promised to meet for the run, your weight loss goal or simply the thought of a warm bath and a hot meal when you get home (with an extra little treat to reward yourself for the calories you just burned). Make sure there's a shoe at your behind that kicks you out there on those days when the sky is gray, the sidewalks slippery and the weather chilly.

Because when you finish that run, the feeling of accomplishment is such a high, you'll be grateful that you kicked your butt out the door to do it.

~ Ceebie