WHOA lansi

francophile, oenophile, logophile, turophile

October in Instagram

It’s winter. A week into November & winter has hit us full force. Last week, it snowed for a few days & with temperatures sticking in the -15C range, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. It almost seems like I was playing fetch on the beach with Odin & N in a different life. Was I really living in California a month ago? Anyway, here’s what we got up to in October according to Instagram.

Oct 2017 IG

  1. I still can’t get over this perfect little town. Carmel, & the Happy Landing Inn, might have been a dream. The view out the front door of our suite made me so happy.
  2. A final visit to my favourite Bay Area brewery: Fieldwork. Odin, N, & I spent many happy afternoons on their patio. Their beers are fantastic & it’s the most dog friendly spot in the Bay. I can’t recommend it enough (& their shirts & hoodies are SO soft. I may have a little collection…).
  3. A lot of my time in the Bay Area was spent seeking out a view. There are no shortage of amazing ones in the area. This one, from Ina Coolbrith Park, on Russian Hill is definitely worth the steep trek up Vallejo Street.
  4. Back in Canada! My mom & I drove from California to BC in two days so we could spent the weekend at the lake. Fall walks with this view are good for my soul, I think (& Odin loves running free up here too).
  5. The boys playing on Stinson Beach. Odin loved running free at the beaches in California. This was the most time Nathan’s ever spent with our pup, uninterrupted. I love watching them together & am so grateful we got the chance to spend a couple months together in Richmond.
  6. Castle Mountain guiding me home. I always know we’re almost there when I see this view.
  7. My Finnish wool socks are already coming in handy, & I can never get enough puppy cuddles.
  8. Our friends decided to do a house crawl this year for Halloween, which was a really fun idea. There were three stops, each with a signature cocktail & some snacks. We got hit with some nasty weather on our way to the final house, but it was still such a fun evening.
  9. Odin’s day care, Pawsitively Pooched, had an open house to show off the renovations to the facility & he got the chance to go for a little swim. He was a little skittish getting in, but once he was wet he had a blast. I think he’d fetch all day if he could!

Follow along with more of our adventures on instagram @whoalansi.

#metoo

Prison

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations & this #metoo movement flooding my social media feeds, I’ve done a lot of thinking. None of it is overly original or groundbreaking, but I wanted to share a little nonetheless.

Like so many, I posted a #metoo status a couple weeks ago without elaborating on the who or the why or the what. I posted only these two simple words to my social media. I had a few reasons for this, & I wanted to talk a little bit about them.

Let me start my saying, I don’t think I or anyone else needs to shed light on any of the reasons for posting this status. In some ways, there are too many uncomfortable examples of misogyny, harassment, & worse, abuse, in every woman I know’s life. We’ve all felt threatened at some point. We’ve all had to think of a possible terrible outcome that many men are lucky to have never considered. That’s the everyday reality for women. I don’t feel that I need to highlight examples of this in my own life, & I don’t want to validate them by doing so. So I didn’t.

The bigger reason I hesitated to post anything though is that it didn’t feel bad enough. I lead a fantastic life. I’m extremely lucky & immeasurably privileged. I know many women who have suffered so much, & I don’t feel that I have. So at first, I felt silly posting anything at all. How many times have we heard that in the last few weeks? How many times have we to listened to someone downplaying the harassment they’ve faced, because “it really could be a whole lot worse”? But that’s what we do. That’s what society has honestly taught so many of us. It’s not that bad. Others have it worse. Maybe it’s even partially a coping mechanism. I don’t know.

Talking about these things and shedding light on the problem doesn’t take away from anything that’s happened to someone else. It doesn’t make it less. Truthfully, I think it raises more awareness about what is ok & what isn’t.

We’re all stronger together. & I hope someday I’m not still having this conversation with my children. I’m leaving this post with more questions than answers, but also with the hope that by starting a conversation, we’re heading in the right direction.

the final week

Here I am again, feeling the familiar mix of emotions I experience every time I’m about to head home. On the one hand, I love my home. Alberta is an amazing province, full of my favourite people. On the other hand, I’m sad to say goodbye to this place I’ve come to know over the last couple months. It’s a little bittersweet.

I’ve lived in several different cities in my 32 years, & I’ve loved them all in different ways. The funny thing about California is I didn’t expect to feel at home here. I really didn’t. Maybe that’s strange to some people, but I never once considered the US as somewhere I’d live. Nothing against American or the US in general – I have plenty of perfectly lovely American friends & I’ve spent time in many great cities in this country. I just never expected to feel this way about the US, especially in light of recent politics.

But here I am, absolutely loving California, & feeling a bit silly. I mean, what’s not to love? Beautiful weather, decadent dining options, & an impressive array of sights. Add a healthy dose of the loveliest people, & you’ve got the recipe that makes this place so enchanting. Honestly, Californians are wonderful.

I thought two months would feel like a long time, but it truly flew by. & with good reason – we did A LOT. We tried to cram as much into my stay as time would allow. I think we did a pretty good job, & if you look at my Instagram from the last couple months, I think it will tell that same story. Here are a few of my favourite moments from this September, according to my IG feed.

Sept 2017 IG

  1. N’s sister came down to visit with her boyfriend & we had the best week showing them around SF & the area. We saw the Giants win a baseball game, rode cable cars, wine tasted our way through Sonoma, biked the Golden Gate bridge, saw SF from the ferry, & toured the East Bay.
  2. Bagel stop at Beauty’s with N on a lazy Saturday in Oakland. I’ve barely put a dent in my restaurant list for the East Bay, never mind SF. There are some seriously incredible places to eat here!
  3. We witnessed another win for the home team at the Cal State vs Ole Miss game. They weren’t expected to bring home a win, so it was especially exciting.
  4. Exploring pockets of Berkeley with the Path Wanderers Association one evening. Such a cool way to see the city.
  5. The boys enjoying an afternoon at Muir Beach. Odin loves going to the beach & chasing his dad around, & we love watching how happy it makes him.
  6. I’ve been going to November Project SF for the last month & it’s been so fun getting to know this tribe, especially my friends in the East Bay.
  7. The view from Alcatraz is so cool. We had a great time exploring the island & touring the prison.
  8. N’s coworker sent us home with an amazing bounty of fresh produce from his garden. This is just one small example of the generosity we’ve experienced down here.
  9. We spent part of our last weekend in Carmel, touring around Big Sur. It’s an incredible place. We loved it so much, we stayed an extra night. We just weren’t ready to leave.

California Diaries \\ A Day in the life

As my leave of absence draws to a close, I thought I’d talk a little bit about what my days look like in California. N leaves for work before 5 am & gets home around 5:30 pm, leaving Odin & I plenty of time for adventures. Our weekends are pretty busy, so we often stick a little closer to home during the week. It also helps keep my spending in check since I’m not collecting a paycheck while I’m down here. Luckily, there are plenty of fun things to do for free, or cheap, in the East Bay.

Morning

If given the opportunity, I’ll generally take it pretty slow in the morning. I love a making some bulletproof coffee & catching up on social media on our back deck. I feel a bit guilty starting the day in such a lazy way, so I was excited to join the East Bay carpool for Monday, Wednesday, & Friday morning workouts with November Project. There’s a solid group that makes the commute from the East Bay to downtown SF. I was stoked to meet the organizers at The Crate Escape at the end of August, & get added to the carpool’s group text.

Odin & I usually leave Richmond around 5:20 am to pick up a few people in Berkeley or Oakland before heading into the city for the 6:30 am workout. Coming from Calgary, it’s hard to comprehend the insanity that is rush hour in the Bay Area. Without three people in the car, there’s no way we’d ever make it to the workout on time. With three people, we can use the carpool lanes to cross the Bay Bridge. It’s a major time saver.

I love my November Project workouts in Calgary, but I’m even more grateful for them here. Before coming down, I totally underestimated how much time I’d be spending alone. Odin is a great listener, but I definitely appreciate the social aspect in addition to the workout.

Photo by NP SF

NP SF views

Afterwards, we head back over the bridge to drop everyone off & I usually treat myself to a coffee at Blue Bottle. It’s definitely a bit of a bad habit, but their coffee is irresistible & I won’t have access to it for much longer.

Mornings in the Bay Area are generally foggy or overcast, so I try to use those hours for blogging, grocery shopping, editing photos, or researching our weekend activities. On days that I don’t workout in the morning, I still try to get up reasonably early to get all this out of the way. I love the sunshine & try to take advantage of it as much as possible, especially since I know I’m going back to much colder weather in Calgary.

Coffee with Odin

Afternoon

If it’s really hot & sunny (like today! It’s 31 C in Richmond), I’ll head to the pool to journal, read, or write. N’s community might as well be a resort. There are two pools, two hot tubs, a gym, & several ponds surrounding the condos. It’s a little oasis. It also backs onto the San Francisco Bay Trail. There are ton of great parks & beaches a short walk away. Odin loves the Bay Trail, so we use it often.

Our resort

If it’s not quite pool weather, we tend to go exploring. I’ve tried to cover as much of Berkeley & area as possible. The Rosie the Riveter museum is about a 20-minute walk away & so is a large off-leash dog park where Odin can go swimming. When we first came down, we often went into Berkeley. This whole area is extremely dog friendly, which made it easy to get to know the area without feeling guilty that I was leaving him behind. Within the neighbouring cities, there’s a wide variety of hiking trails, city paths, & beaches. It’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon. My favourites all have incredible views of SF & its beautiful bridges. I also love to go for a drive up the crazy hills around Berkeley & El Cerrito. On a clear day, you’re rewarded with a killer view around every bend.

Point Isabel Swim

Off leash run

The view from Lawrence Hall of Sciences.

Hills in El Cerrito

Views from Tilden Park

Hiking in Tilden Park

Evening

I usually start dinner before 5 pm so N & I can spend the evening together. Since he has such early mornings, we tend to go to bed pretty early. As a night owl, it’s definitely a big adjustment for me, but I think I’ve been pretty good at it.

We’re really lucky to have a park with BBQs within walking distance as well as an awesome local brewery. We’ve had a couple dinners in the park over the last couple weeks & we often head up to Armistice with Odin for a game of battleship on their outdoor patio & a couple beers.

Evening BBQ with the boys

Battleship at our local brewery

Marina Bay Sunset

Evening Tub

So there you go, a day in my life down here in California. Our weekdays are substantially more laid back than our weekends, but I like to think we’ve used our time well. It’s been an amazing few months of exploring!

Travel \\ Amsterdam

Travel // Amsterdam

Amsterdam was the first stop on our 2017 Europe Beer Tour, as I would jokingly refer to the trip we took with my family earlier this summer. This trip had been on my bucket list for years. Now that it’s over, it seems almost surreal. We saw a lot & covered a lot of ground over the course of our three weeks in (mostly) Northern Europe. Maybe that’s why I’m only starting to post about it now. Or maybe I’m notoriously slow at sorting through all the media & memories after a big trip. The latter, most likely.

But here we are, a little over three months after the fact, ready for some bonafide Europe recaps. Whenever someone asks me what my favourite city in Europe is, I freeze. One city? You want me to name one city in the whole of Europe as my favourite? Nuh uh, no way, impossible! I won’t even entertain the idea. There are so many different cities that hold special places in my heart for different reasons. Three days in Amsterdam was all it took for it to win a place on that list. What makes this city so special, you ask? Let’s take a look.

The Canals

Known as the Venice of the North by some, Amsterdam has over a hundred kilometres of canals. Our first day in the city, we spent most of our time wandering around, exploring the different neighbourhoods. I’ve mentioned before that this is one of my favourite things to do in a new city. There’s nothing like having no set destination or plan & just taking in everything around you.

N & I wandering on our first day in Amsterdam

Wandering the streets in the famous canal ring, or Grachtengordel, is essential to any trip to Amsterdam. I especially loved the bohemian Jordaan quarter, a grid of tiny lanes dotted with specialty shops, restaurants, art galleries, & the incredible Anne Frank house.

Amsterdam Canals Amsterdam Canals Amsterdam Canals

We spent the morning at the Anne Frank House on our last day in Amsterdam, & it was a visit I won’t soon forget. Having read her book as a young girl, it was so moving to be able to put her experiences & memories into a tangible space. They’ve done a really lovely job of preserving the families’ memory in a museum. Tickets sell out early for good reason. (If you have trouble getting regular tickets, the introductory program is only a few dollars more & is usually available for longer.)

The bike Culture

We only rented bikes for a few hours one afternoon & it might have been the biggest mistake of the whole trip (at least for me). I loved biking around the compact city centre & wish we’d rented them for longer. It’s busy & a little bit chaotic, but a lot of fun. We biked through the centre to the Museum Quarter then along the Singelgracht to a great brewery.

Bikes in Vondelpark

Biking around Amsterdam

Afterwards, we biked around Vondelpark, before heading back through town to drop off our bikes. If you’re less confident on a bike, I’d recommend a tour around Vondelpark. Its wide, paved pathways are easy to navigate & there are lots of lovely spots to stop & enjoy the park, or some food & drinks. It’s also a worthwhile stroll if you’re really not sold on biking. Our apartment was a few short blocks away, so we did just that on on our very first day in the city.

Albert Cuyp Market

You’ll find anything from electronics to clothing at this eclectic street bazaar, but as usual, we came for the food. It was herring season, so we went looking for a classic herring sandwich as soon was we arrived. Traditionally, soused herring is eaten with just raw onions, but broodje haring (on bread) is also popular. My dad did not enjoy the texture of the fish at all – it’s a little bit slimy – but N & I enjoyed ours. I’m glad we tried it since it’s one of N’s grandpa’s favourites.

We also picked up some cheese to snack on later that evening.

Next up were stroopwaffles. You’ve probably seen these traditional waffle & caramel cookies before. I know I had. They’re even better fresh. The stall we bought ours from made them right in front of us so they were nice & hot – the perfect way to enjoy them. They seem just a little more special when the caramel is soft & melty from the warm waffles.

Our last market food find was well earned, & probably my favourite. Just as I’d given up on finding kroketten as the Van Dobben store that was supposed to be at the corner of the market had shut down, we found their market stall. Hurray! Kroketten for all! A kroket is mashed potatoes and meat, breaded & deep fried, on a bun with a side of mustard. No complaints here.

Market snacks

There’s lots of different food to try at the market, so it makes a good lunch stop between wandering the canals in the centre & the museum quarter. Snack along the way or pick up some things to eat later, in one of the cities many beautiful parks.

The Museum Quarter

If you’re looking for the “I amsterdam” sign, this is where you’ll find it. If you’re looking for a photo op without a ton of people in it, best of luck. It was extremely busy when we went mid-day, however, we took the last tram back to our apartment one night & there wasn’t a soul in sight. Aim for early morning or late evening for a better chance at some photos without the hoards of people.

Surrounding the museumplein, you’ll find three major museums: the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Stedelijk Museum. My parents went to the Van Gogh Museum & really enjoyed it, but N & I were content to wander the park in this beautiful area.

If you do decide to visit one of the popular museums, it’s a good idea to purchase tickets online first. Even the Heineken Experience gets some crazy lines. An e-ticket will save you wasting time waiting, if you can plan what time you’d like to go in advance.

Enjoying food & drinks on the water

The tilted, gabled canal-side buildings make the perfect backdrop for lunch, dinner, afternoon drinks, or a fun night out beside the water. There are no shortage of places to enjoy any of these things in Amsterdam.

Boat touring

There’s no shortage of great spots to relax along the canals

We found a number of great bruin cafés (brown cafés are laid back bars – you’ll find them all over the city) & restaurants along the canals in every neighbourhood. My favourite dinner was at Gent aan de schinkel near our apartment. We sat outside & watched boats go by on the canal, enjoying a lovely meal together.

Dinner along the canal

I’m a sucker for spending time near the water, & Amsterdam delivered on this. We took a boat tour one day, one of those big touristy ones. Next time, I think we’ll rent a smaller boat for the afternoon & enjoy some drinks & a meal as we tour around the city. Watching others doing just this from our crowded boat definitely made it seem like the better option.

The Architecture

I absolutely loved the renaissance architecture in the center of Amsterdam. The tall, tightly-packed homes sometimes look like they’re holding each other up. On our Free Walking Tour, we were told that residents paid taxes based on the width of their homes. This is why you see these characteristic tall & narrow homes in Amsterdam. Since this makes for tight staircases & hallways inside, they also tend to have have a hook above the top floor to hoist larger items into the home or business.

These narrow, long homes are actually what made Amsterdam the perfect place for the Frank family to hide. From the street, it’s hard to tell how far back many of the homes actually go.

The Red Light District

We visited the Red Light District during the day as well as on a lively Saturday night. It was interesting to see both. In daylight, De Wallen almost seems like any other neighbourhood in Amsterdam.There’s a beautiful church, the Oude Kerk, a market, & many great cafés & restaurants. Even in the morning, you’ll notice a few women behind windows here & there, as you sip your coffee & wander the area. It’s quite the juxtaposition. We did the morning free walking tour with New Europe & had a lovely time learning about the center of Amsterdam & the Red Light District.

The side of the Oude Kerk & the narrow streets of De Wallen

N & I went back late that evening, after dark, & the district seemed to have come alive. The narrow streets were so crowded that you could barely walk down them sometimes. Bars were overflowing. It almost felt like there was some kind of festival going on, instead of just another Saturday night. There were also a lot more windows with women behind them. & many of them were putting on a bit of a show to entice customers, sometimes even knocking on the glass to call them over. The atmosphere at night was completely different than it had been during the day.

The main canal in De Wallen

Heading towards the Red Light District

If you have the time to check it out both in the morning & evening, I’d definitely recommend that. Grab a drink in one of the pubs & enjoy watching the debauchery on a Saturday night. We went back on a Sunday & while it was busy, it wasn’t quite the chaos of the night before.

The Beer

It wouldn’t be a Europe Beer Tour if we didn’t drink any beer. You’re likely already familiar with Heineken, but there are so many other great beers too. & even better, there are so many great places to try them out.

Wandering around on our first day, we took a break for some drinks & fantastic lamb meatballs at De Ysbreeker. Named for the icebreakers that docked in front of the building, it has a beautiful terrace & a great selection of local beers like de Prael. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a beautiful summer day.

Another spot we came to love was Hoppe. It’s been in operation for over 300 years & has a great selection of beers. Inside you’ll find antique stained glass windows, old gin barrels, & sawdust on the floor. A table on the covered terrace is a nice place to spend a few hours with friends (& maybe some bitterballen to snack on), but more often than not the after work crowd spills out into the bustling Spui square. Come here for the great local atmosphere, & some fantastic beer.

I saved my favourite spot for last: Brouwerij ‘t IJ. We biked to this microbrewery in east Amsterdam, next to the old de Gooyer windmill. Share a long table with other customers on their tree-covered terrace or head inside to their tasting room, lined with an impressive bottle collection. On weekends, they do a brewery tour for 5 euros. Arrive early to sign up – it fills up fast (as we, unfortunately, learned).

The terrace at Brewerij ‘t IJ

With a large selection of interesting (& tasty) beers, it’s a great spot to spent an afternoon. Check it out before 3 pm if you’d like to try a flight. It’s a little bit off the beaten path, so you’re more likely to find yourself amongst locals here, a welcome change after spending a couple days playing tourist.

‘t IJ Flight

Part of the bottle collection

One of the entrances

I could go on about all the great places we saw in Amsterdam (& all the great beer we drank) for a lot longer, but I’ll leave it off here. There’s something about the laidback Dutch vibe that takes all these incredible sights & experiences to the next level. Thanks for a great introductory visit, Amsterdam. I hope to come back again someday.

Dear Berkeley Bowl

I love grocery stores. I know that’s kind of an odd thing to say you love, but I really do. A truly fantastic grocery store makes me really damn happy. Before coming down to California, I was pumped to spend a couple months living near Whole Foods & Trader Joe’s. That was literally on my list of things to do in California: shop at Whole Foods. That was, until I learned about Berkeley Bowl.

Berkeley Bowl is an independent supermarket in, you guessed it, Berkeley, CA. They’re best known for their produce selection, & for good reason, it’s one the largest selections of produce I’ve ever seen in a single location. Even their organic section rivals most regular grocery stores. It’s the place to go when you’re looking for that one strange ingredient for a recipe.

Berkeley Bowl

The huge organic section

Berkeley Bowl

Berkeley Bowl

So much produce (& dang, I wish limes were this cheap at home!)

Berkeley Bowl

Berkeley Bowl

Mushrooms on mushrooms

Berkeley Bowl

There were literally too many to fit in one photo

Berkeley Bowl

Honestly though, it’s kind of the place to go for whatever your grocery needs might be.  They have a huge, full-service meat & seafood counter, more varieties of dairy products than I can even attempt to sample, most of the specialty grocery items you expect to find at Whole Foods, & an amazing bulk section. I assume the bulk section is similar to what you’d find in a Bulk Barn, but smaller. Here you can stock up on spices, pastas, cereals, flours, rices, candies… That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. I like it for the spice section. I love that I can refill my existing spice containers when I run out or get a pinch of something I need for a recipe. I’m that person who filled a bag with 8 cents of red pepper flakes.

Berkeley Bowl

My favourite section, obs

Berkeley Bowl

Berkeley Bowl

Cheese Island – the happiest place

Berkeley Bowl

Bulk Spices!

Berkeley Bowl

Part of the dairy (& nut “dairy”) section

In addition to all this, they have a great full service cafe at both of their locations. I haven’t tried anything except their coffee, but it’s always busy & the food looks delicious. If you’re thinking that it comes with a Whole Foods style price tag, you’d be wrong. It’s surprisingly affordable!

With two locations in Berkeley, I often find an excuse to stop by when I’m out & about. N thinks it’s ridiculous that I enjoy spending so much time in grocery stores, but what can I say: I love food. Maybe then he’ll understand why I love it so much when he finally sees it (one of my goals is to bring him at least once before I leave), but I doubt it. He’s a “get in, get out” shopper, I’m a “compare everything, wander aimlessly” shopper. 😉

I’ll end my love letter to the Berkeley Bowl here & just say, if you find yourself hungry in this funky city, stop by & grab something delicious. You won’t be disappointed.

On Seasons

CopenhagenIt’s that time of year when my Facebook feed is filled with posts about pumpkin spice lattes, sweaters, & cool autumn days. We’re officially a week away from the Fall Equinox, a date I generally associate with the end of summer (or Winter: Part 1). I’m a summer girl, through & through. Maybe it comes with the territory, being born smack dab in the middle of this glorious season, or maybe it stems from the fact that I’ve spent most of my life in a city that doesn’t often experience a true fall.

Don’t get me wrong, I love cozying up with N for a nice evening by the fire. I even love the quintessential fall outfit: sweater, scarf, jeans, tall boots. The last couple years, we’ve even gotten some “real fall” weather in Calgary, & even I have to admit, it’s pretty nice.

Goodbye Summer Hikes

What I don’t love is when the frenzied fall excitement starts while we’re still in the throes of a perfectly good summer. I know the heat can get to people, but dang, are we really ready to start scraping frost off our windshields or, heaven forbid, wearing pants to work? Do you really love pumpkin that much, or are you just really into that Starbucks abomination (I think pumpkin is a delightful gourd under most other circumstances)?

The only thing worse than hearing about Pumpkin Spice Lattes in August is seeing a Christmas countdown before Halloween. I’m not even going to apologize for my opinion on this one. Christmas is literally over 3 months away. Stop. Please. Can we get a couple months off before we have to start thinking about the most commercialized holiday again? We have a hard & fast rule in our house: no Christmas talk until after Remembrance Day.

I get it if you love fall. That’s totally cool. I think it’s pretty not bad myself (although, it’s no summer), but before we get all wrapped up (literally, it’s gonna get real cold up in Canada) in fall, let’s take a minute to say goodbye to my favourite season. Thanks for being especially great to me, Summer 2017. I’m hesitant to let you go. & here’s everything I will miss most about you:

  • Sitting outside in daylight until the wee hours
  • Biking to & from work every day
  • Bare legs & summer dresses
  • Sandals (oh how I love sandals)
  • Jumping into the lake
  • Getting out the door in under 5 minutes
  • Letting my hair air dry on my way to work
  • Waking up to sunshine
  • Giving Odin a treat without mittens on
  • Getting off work while the sun’s still up
  • BBQs & get togethers & all the socializing
  • Delicious produce from the garden
  • Tan lines

All kidding aside, this summer was one for the books. We crammed a lot into a few short months, & although I’m sad to see her go, I’m also excited for what the rest of 2017 has in store for us.

Cheers to Summer

Cheers to summer, & happy Fall Equinox, friends. I hope the snow holds off until I’m back in Calgary. 😉

A Year of November Project

NP SF

Photo by NP SF

Technically it’s been a little more than a year since I first set my alarm to join the November Project YYC Tribe for a workout, but today seemed so fitting for this post. For starters, I went to my first NP San Francisco workout this morning. I drove two UC Berkeley students into the city & back as part of the East Bay carpool. It was a great morning, & Odin was a huge hit, of course. Today is also one week out from a very special Wednesday morning for NP YYC: the annual McMahon Stadium workout!

Story time! Last September, I decided to participate in a month-long a healthy living challenge to raise awareness & funds for the BC Cancer Foundation. You may recall my blog posts about the challenge around this time last year. I’d committed to eating paleo, limiting alcohol, & working out three times a week. The greatest thing that came out of the challenge, besides raising money for a good cause, was November Project.

I’d first heard about this crazy group of people back at the beginning of that summer. My friend Zoe messaged me with a link to the Calgary tribe’s information, “You need to join this. I joined the YYJ one in December & it is literally the best thing I have done ever.” Strong words, Zo. I briefly looked at the page, saw that workouts were at 6:13 am, & gave it a hard pass. I’d spent most of high school waking up before sunrise to jump in a freezing cold pool & swim laps for a couple hours. Aside from the occasional 6 am spin class, I was over the commitment of early morning workouts.

That is, until I saw the amazing support Zoe got during our SeaWheeze Half Marathon a few weeks later. There were high fives, “y’all goods”, & lots & lots of hugs throughout the course. All this because she put on a Lululemon shirt with November Project spray-painted across the front. It didn’t matter that they weren’t from the same city. It didn’t matter that they’d never worked out together before. These people were in her court, cheering her on. This was more than just an early morning sweat session. This was a community. & that was something I could get behind.

So I decided to join. They happened to doing a special Wednesday morning workout on August 31, 2016: running the McMahon Stadium stairs. This would be my first NP workout. I even recruited a few friends to come with me. I don’t remember much about that first workout except that it was hard. Like, really hard. I walked away with sore legs & a huge smile plastered on my face.

NP YYC McMahon 2016

My first NP YYC Workout, McMahon Stadium 2016

NP YYC Aug 2017

My last NP YYC workout before SF!

I couldn’t walk properly for days afterwards. & the next few workouts were hard too. They were hard in a way that I loved though & throughout the course of that first month, I found myself looking more & more forward to Wednesday mornings. So much so, that I started going to the Monday morning workouts too. & after that September Challenge ended, I didn’t stop going.

Winter mornings in Olympic Plaza with Odin

NP A + O

I swear I’m not always carrying Odin

Although he adds a nice challenge to lunges

Over the last year, November Project has become more than just a morning workout for me. It’s become coffee dates, & socializing, & high gives when you think you can’t take one more step. While Tammara & Kyle have put us through some crazy workouts, I’ve also made some really rad friends. Better than that, I’ve become part of an amazing, supportive, welcoming community.

NP YYC Aug 2017

NP YYC Card Workout

After a tough deck of cards workout

The test truck brings breakfast to our stair workout

NP YYC

Rotary Park play ground workouts

So here’s to an amazing year with the YYC Tribe, full of everything from warm sunrise runs & half marathon scavenger hunts to climbing everything in sight & frozen eyelash photo shoots. Thank you for welcoming me, Odin, my husband, & anyone else I’ve dragged along into your weird little group. We may be a small tribe, but you have the biggest hearts.

Weatherproof! We even workout when it’s -30 C & our eyelashes freeze. Thanks for the photo, Kyle!

NP YYC Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger Hunt

Odin & I with our awesome co-leader, Kyle! (Who supplied many of these great photos!)

Since I have some serious FOMO about missing this McMahon Stadium workout, I hope you’ll all #justshowup for me, & if you were thinking of joining NP, THIS IS YOUR CHANCE. This is what started it all for me. & I’d love to see you’ve joined this fantastic crew when I get back in mid October.

#noexcuses

SeaWheeze 2017

SeaWheeze 2017

As you well know at this point, I was one of the lucky 10,000 people to score tickets to this year’s SeaWheeze Half Marathon. This race is by far the fastest selling I’ve ever run. The morning tickets go on sale is always a bit stressful, & there’s always a little drama afterwards. This year was no exception.

Fortunately, I actually had a lot of friends score tickets this year, which made it really fun to share in the excitement surrounding the whole weekend. Half the race is about Lululemon (the swag, the gear, the festival that follows the race…) & the other half is about the actual run. I understand that gear is more of a factor for many people who sign up, but even as a huge lulu fan myself, it’s a little much for me.

Last year, I opted to wait in the crazy line for exclusive SeaWheeze gear, available only to registered runners. This year, I was still in Vernon, BC when the store opened & missed a lot of the pre-Wheeze stuff. I just wasn’t willing to spend the extra time & money to be in Vancouver for an extra day. Instead, I met up with my friend Zoe at the expo, did a quick lap, grabbed my race package, & headed to our hostel to drop my bags.

SeaWheeze Expo

The only photo I took at the expo

We then decided food was more important than anything else & headed to my favourite sushi spot in Van, Kadoya, where we fueled up for the run with an obscene amount of sushi & a pitcher of beer. Not exactly your optimal pre-race meal.  I was going into this race injured though so I figured I couldn’t really do much more harm. Expectations were low.

Kadoya Sushi

We really did order a pitcher

Kadoya Sushi

My sushi rolls (just mine). Salmon Sashimi not pictured.

Zo & I are both members of November Project in our respective cities so when NP Van announced they were doing a pre-race Crate Escape, we knew we had to go. I’m so glad we did. It’s such a cool event! We both figured we might not have the opportunity to attend another one (although, I did manage to make it to SF’s last week!).

Crate Escape is a travelling storytelling series,  hosted in different NP cities all over the world. They’re usually in the evening so it’s a great intro to NP if you’re not sure you’re ready to take that early morning plunge.

NP Van Crate Escape

Richard starting off Crate Escape!

The next morning came pretty early. We’d laid out all our stuff for the race so we wouldn’t wake our dorm mates, but I still felt pretty guilty. They’d both had late nights. Last year, there were four of us so we could turn on the lights without fear of being terrible roommates, but this year it was just the two of us. Everyone else stayed in more adult accommodations. We’re cheap. It works. (Although we discussed that we may need to spring for a hotel room next year.) The kitchen only opened at 6 am, which was just early enough for us to quickly devour the food we’d picked up the night before & walk to the race.

Walking to the start line is always such a fun experience, as you run into different people running it as well. Generally, no one else is out wandering the streets that early except the participants & their cheering section. We got there early enough to check our gear & got in line for the port-o-potties. That lasted all of 10 seconds before we decided to try the Fairmont Pacific Rim. Best. Decision. Ever. There was a line at the main floor washrooms, but a helpful concierge told us to head upstairs & use the conference washrooms. Swankiest pre-race pee of my life. We obviously took a lot of selfies.

Pac Rim Bathroom Selfies

Swanky Pre-Race Pee at the Pac Rim

Happy dance!

Happy Dance! Zo just straight laughing at me, but she actually felt so happy too.

We decided to pass this tip on to a few of the ladies in the port-o-potty line before heading to the corrals, where we easily found a few of our November Project friends. I can only assume it was the good karma from our washroom tip off & not the fact that Brogan is easily the tallest & loudest person I’ve ever met. 😉 (I mean that in the best way possible. It was super cool to meet one of the founders of November Project!)

Pre-race selfie

Pre-race selfie

SeaWheeze Startline

SeaWheeze Startline

Bright Brogan

As you can see, it would be really hard to spot Brogan in a crowd…

NP Crew

NP YYC Co-leader Kyle is ready to race!

SeaWheeze Start

Our corral heading out from the start

We seeded ourselves in the second corral with our friends & the 2 hour pace beavers. I was thinking this might be a bit fast for me considering my lack of training, but I went for it anyway. Zoe wanted to break 2 hours for the first time. Meanwhile, I was telling myself I needed to be happy just to finish. (Fat chance! I’m far too competitive to be happy with that!)

The start itself is always such a rush- you’re running with so many other people, everyone still feels great, there’s a crazy energy! Looking back, we took it out pretty fast. The weather was perfect for running & we were clearly feeling good. I swear sea level does wonders when you’re used to training at altitude. Thanks, Calgary. (Or maybe sushi &  beer is just the perfect pre-race meal?)

Go!

Off we go!

First Cheer Station

First Cheer Station

Zoe & I were chatting on & off, enjoying the run, when we hit the Burrard Street Bridge. Zo wanted to stick to the inside, which was separated from runners making their way back across the bridge (already?! SO FAST!) by a line of traffic cones. As I was enjoying the view from the bridge, my foot caught on a piece of unmarked cone & I went down pretty hard. Luckily, I bounced back up pretty quick, but I’d scratched my dad’s Go Pro (that I was holding), ripped a hole in my new lulus, & scraped my hand pretty badly. The GU Gel in my pocked had also exploded down the side of my pants, so my other hand was a sticky mess from this discovery. Zo asked me if I wanted to stop at a first aid tent, but that was the last thing I wanted. This sounds pretty stupid in hindsight, but I was more concerned with how much time it would add to my race. There was a water station as soon as we got off the bridge where I managed to clean off my hands a bit & keep going.

I somehow managed to keep up with Zoe’s awesome pace until halfway up the bridge on the way back. I was still trying to decide how much damage running would do to my already injured knee so I opted not to push to catch up & ran my own race.

Go Zo

Sorry my SeaWheeze posts are always of your butt.

Go Zo

Go Zo Go! This is about where I lost her.

My fall ended up being a bit of a blessing though as it distracted me from the pain of the actual run. At one point, I was toying with the idea of stopping, thinking I was at 10 km & couldn’t run another 10+. I checked my phone for the first time in the race & was actually at almost 15 km! I’d zoned out for a solid 5 km. It was just the push I needed to keep going.

Fire Cheer

Fire Fighters are a pretty good distraction too

Sea Wall

The whole course is gorgeous, but I especially love the sea wall

YVR Sea Wall

This race was full of firsts for me, actually. First time not checking my phone or watch for my pace, first time not walking except at water stations, first time not doing an insane sprint to the finish, first time not checking the clock at the finish.

So many great cheer stations!

These Go Pro captures honestly don’t do it justice

Amazing!

Let’s talk about that last point. I always know my finishing time. Always. This year, I crossed that finish line in a half sprint, assumed I’d run around a 2:15 or a 2:20 & went to find Zoe. When I found her, I immediately asked if she broke 2 hours & she said she did. I couldn’t have been happier for her! I gave her the biggest sweatiest hug I could muster.

At this point, I still hadn’t thought of looking at my time. As we walked up the ramp collecting your various swag, I texted friends & family to tell them about the fall (& the race, I guess). We ate breakfast, I got first aid, & I still hadn’t checked. It wasn’t until Zoe looked up her official time that I thought to check mine. I couldn’t even get it to work so it was her who told me I’d officially ran a 2:02. A 2:02?! What?! I guess there’s something to be said for experience.

Race Finish Line

Race Finish Line

DONE

DONE!

SeaWheeze Injury

Burrard Street Bridge Injury

Amazing Lululemon

Lululemon seriously made my day by replacing the pants that I ripped with some limited edition SeaWheeze ones. THANK YOU!

I couldn’t be happier with my run this year. It was definitely an unforgettable experience, & that’s saying a lot coming from someone who got engaged at the end of a race once. Mostly, I’m in awe of what our bodies are capable of. I’m so proud of my body for accomplishing what it did. I truly didn’t do anything to help it out, besides having run several half marathons in my life. So way to go, body! You’re pretty incredible.

That’s it for my 2017 SeaWheeze Race Recap. Writing this post has me excited for SeaWheeze 2018 again – I know I’ll try to register again. Sorry, Future Alanna.

I also ran with my dad’s Go Pro. Unfortunately, I just carried it so all of my footage is terribly shaky. Until I edit it better, I created a quick video using Go Pro’s new Quik App. It’s not great, but it gives you a glimpse into my race!

 

 

August in Instagram

It’s been a busy weekend, & possibly an even busier month! N’s sister & her boyfriend spent the last 6 days with us in the Bay Area, & we did not hold back. We did good, seriously good. They checked everything they wanted to do off their list & are headed down the coast for more, while we recover. It honestly feels good to sit still today. I’m looking forward to a relaxing weekend with N & O in the Bay. I honestly thought that two months would feel like a long time, but I’m almost halfway through my leave & it’s flying by. Time is constantly throwing me for a loop. Anyways, here’s what we got up to this month according to Instagram.

Aug 2017 IG

1. We headed out to Water Valley for a Family Reunion over August Long Weekend. We hadn’t seen a lot of people since our wedding so it was fun to reconnect with people as well as meet some new faces.

2. Zo & I ran the SeaWheeze Half Marathon again. I have some crazy stories & a Go Pro video coming your way, but the most important point is that Zoe broke 2 hours for the first time & I am so proud of her.

3.  Odin swam in the ocean for the first time on our trip down the coast. He’s now played on more sandy beaches than I can count. My car has sand in every crevice, but he’s one happy boy.

4. The Pacific Coast is a dream: the beaches, the twisty highway roads, & the changing landscape were better than my wildest dreams.

5. You can absolutely never go wrong with dinner at Pok Pok, even if you have to get takeaway & eat in a random park in NW Portland because you’re with your dog. Trust me.

6. N lives less than an hour from Napa, so we spent our first weekend doing a little wine touring.

7. We brought Odin along on our little wine tour & were so happy with how easy it is to find places that are totally cool with letting your dog hang out while you try some wines. California is totally winning when it comes to the dog friendly game, & we love it!

8. A little Sunday lunch stop at Vik’s chaat on our Berkeley bike tour. Tucked in beside the Aquatic park & the train tracks, it’s been a local fav for 25 years for good reason!

9. We are huge fans of Fieldwork Brewing in Berkeley. In the few weeks that I’ve been down here, it’s become our go to for beers. With a great patio, friendly servers, & a completely dog friendly atmosphere, you can’t go wrong!

Page 1 of 33

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén