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francophile, oenophile, logophile, turophile

Category: Personal (Page 1 of 9)

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.

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!

 

 

Happy Third Anniversary

A reading her vowsThree years ago, I stood in front of our friends & family & told you,

I promise to support your dreams – all of your dreams. Be your advocate, your confidant, and your biggest cheerleader.  

I promise to always let you have the bigger piece of bacon (as long as I can have the last piece of sashimi).  

I promise to share my many passions in life – even the silly ones. I want to eat, travel, and love our way through this life.  

I promise to continue our Nashville North tradition and two-step with you for as long as you’re willing to teach me.  

I promise to love, honour, and cherish everything that we have built and will build together, in triumph, but especially in failure.  

As long as we both shall live.

We’ve made some incredible memories since then, & I can’t wait to make even more with you in California over the next month & half, & then, wherever life takes us. You’re the best travel partner I could ask for, the most loving daddy to our fur baby, & the most patient Instagram husband. Thank you for going along with all my crazy plans, being willing to try anything, & always being ready to overeat our way through a new city. You’re one in a million. ( & it still makes me laugh that we both unknowingly promised I’d get that last piece of sashimi. Still the best deal going. 😉 )

I love you, today, & everyday,

xx

a

“Si tu pouvais lire dans mon coeur, tu verrais la place où je t’ai mise !”- Flaubert

On going for it, & other honest ramblings

Poolside Hangs

As I type this, I’m poolside at N’s resort-like community pool, soaking up the vitamin D & thinking about how fortunate I am to have so much of this summer off. Odin & I officially arrived in the Bay Area on Thursday, but today is our first full day on our own. We’ve opted to take it easy & enjoy this rare sunny August morning outside.

I drove Mom to the airport yesterday after spending most of the last 10 days together. We took a long, slow route to get here, stopping for a weekend in Vancouver so I could run Lululemon’s SeaWheeze Half Marathon & then proceeding down the coast for California. We took highway 101 south most of the way & spent an extra day in Portland exploring the city with the pup. We spent a night in Fortuna, California before taking the most epic scenic highway of my life, through the Redwoods State Park & then down the incredible, winding highway 1 to the coast. I will definitely share more our incredible trip in the coming weeks – if you love to drive, you’ll surely be adding this one to your bucket list.

Now that it’s just our little family down here in California, I feel like I have some time to relax a little & breath. It’s honestly been such a hectic summer. I feel like I haven’t stood still for more than a few minutes since before we left for Europe in June. I don’t even really feel like I got to experience summer in Calgary! I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining, I’m truly just in awe of how fast time seems to pass as I get older, especially given my propensity for overscheduling myself. I’m really looking forward to taking advantage of this time off work to relax, explore, & do a lot more writing & blogging than I have been of late.

I’m honestly pinching myself a bit that this is my reality until October. How did I get so lucky as to get two full months off work to come down here & spend time with my husband & our pup? Most of this is thanks to N & his ability to manage budget. We still could have easily decided we couldn’t afford to cut my salary out of the equation for a couple months, & maybe that would be the smarter decision for our financial situation, but sometimes you have to go for it. & Sometimes you have to say fuck it, & put your relationship before anything else.

You see, N & I are no strangers to long distance. I spent most of our first two years together living on the other side of our massive country. I was studying in Montreal, while N was working in Calgary. We caught a few lucky breaks over the course of those two years though, & he got to spend some longer stretches of time with me out East. When I graduated from McGill, I moved back to Calgary, thinking that was it for us when it came to long distance.

I was, unfortunately, so very wrong. At first his job took him out of town intermittently, usually 2-3 weeks at a time. It was a refreshing change from being apart more often than together. Over the last few years, however, this has changed to a schedule where he lives mostly away from home. He saw our house for the first time over Snapchat. He missed my birthday 3 years in a row & was away for his own. He misses out on a lot of stuff at home, which is hard for both of us, but especially for him.

Why am I writing about all this? Well, mostly, I think it’ll be easy to look at my social media over the next month & a half & think everything is amazing, that I’m so lucky, that life is easy. & You’d be mostly right. I am lucky. My life is relatively easy. I’m definitely incredibly privileged. But still, the reality is that, for much of the year, I lead a very separate life from my husband. We see each other once every three weeks for a weekend. Our lives will likely be this way until at least March 2018. Right now, I may be down in California with him for almost two full months, but this is the first summer we’ll have spent more time together than apart in years. This is our reality, & a good friend reminded me that it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that someone else’s life is perfect because they tend to share the positives on social media. No one’s life is perfect. & I’ll continue to share the positives from my life on social media, but I’ll try to be honest as well.

So with that, here’s to honest posts, to rambling about a lot of different topics, & to going for it. I think it’s about time for a dip in that pool now.

California, here we come

LOA
Yesterday, I entered the above information into my work calendar. I guess that makes it pretty official. Odin & I are off on a big adventure: California, here we come!

When N first accepted his position down in Richmond, we discussed me coming with him. It wasn’t really feasible for me to do so for the duration of his contract, but I promised we’d find a way for me to join him for an extended period at some point this year. It’s felt such a long ways off for so long, something future Alanna would be doing. I can hardly believe I’ll be making my way in that direction tomorrow. In typical Alanna fashion, I’m barely packed.

It’s been an action-packed few weeks for me here. I felt like I’d barely caught my breath after Europe when I turned around & asked work for a leave of absence. It probably seems a bit ridiculous that we’re taking off so soon after such a big trip, but it just made the most sense logistically. I’m running the Lululemon SeaWheeze Half Marathon in Vancouver on Saturday, & it seemed silly to go all the way to the coast twice in the span of a couple weeks. My mom is coming out with me & will stay with Odin in the suburbs, while I participate in the weekend’s festivities. Monday morning, we’ll pack up the car & start our journey down the coast.

We’re going to take our time, driving the scenic Pacific Coast Highway & spending an extra day in Portland. We also plan to explore the Avenue of the Giants. If you have any great suggestions around Eureka, California, let me know! It’s going to be a pretty great road trip. We’re all really excited!

So here’s to a new adventure! See you in October, Canada!

Currently

YYC

It’s been a while! Over the last couple months, I’ve spent a lot of time out of the country, so I fell off the blogging train. I’m excited to share all the amazing places we’ve been exploring once I sort through all my thoughts (& the millions of photos I took). Until then, here’s an update on what’s going on in my life right now.

Reading: A lot of Bon Appétit. The last couple of years, my parents have gotten us a subscription for Christmas & I really love it. The stories are great, & I find myself going back to many of the recipes too. I finished the books I’d bought for our trip, so this is a good in between, while I figure out what I want to read next. I’m thinking of re-reading The Diary of a Young Girl. We visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam last month & it’s such a moving museum that now I want to re-read her diary. It’s been years since I last picked it up. I’d love any book suggestions you may have though – I’m always looking for my next good read!

Watching: Game of Thrones. Duh. My friend groups are split between people who watch every episode as they come out & those who wait until they can binge the whole season. Usually, I wait to watch, but this year I’m going with the weekly viewing. I’ll probably also re-watch the whole thing at the end of the season though.

Planning: TWO weeks until I leave for two whole months! In case you missed this, N has been living in the Bay Area since February. He flies home for the weekend every 3 weeks, so Odin & I have been on our own most of the time for a while now. I’ve decided to take a leave from work & drive down to California with the pup. We’re going to head out to Vancouver for SeaWheeze & then take the PCH down through Washington & Oregon to California. I’ll spend a couple months with the hubs, living that California life, before returning to Canada (& reality). I’m pretty excited, but there’s so much to get ready before I go. We just got back from 3+ weeks in Europe so things are disorganized, to say the least. It didn’t make sense to head out to Vancouver, come back here, & then drive down, so I’m just rolling with it. It’ll all come together, I’m sure.

Thinking about: Helmets while biking. I posted an Instagram story about my thoughts on biking with or without a helmet & it got a lot of responses. This article (this one too!) & our recent helmetless bike adventures in Europe got me thinking about why I wear a helmet in Calgary. It’s largely because it’s so taboo not to. The perception that cycling is unsafe is so ingrained in our minds in North America.  I don’t personally believe that it is an unsafe activity, or a difficult one, & I love seeing how many more people are getting on their bikes in this city. I believe this is largely due to the city’s actions in making biking more safe & more accessible, but we still have a long way to go. There is still a lot of anger towards bikers, & that scares & discourages people, including myself sometimes.

I’m not saying I’m going to stop wearing a helmet, but I agree with a lot of points in both of those articles & frankly, the anger directed at bikers who choose to go without a helmet (or heaven forbid, bike on the road) needs to stop. It’s not helping anyone.

Eating: We ate so much on our trip that I’ve been trying to eat a lot of vegetables, at least during the week. Part of the reason I wanted to go back to Germany & Czechia is because I really do love the food in those countries. I sampled all the beer, ate my weight in fried cheese (obsessed!), & indulged in more pork knuckles over the course of a month than anyone probably should. It was definitely worth it, but there was a serious lack of greens, so now I’m trying to get them all in.

xo

On Patience

Alanna running NP

(photo by Pete for November Project)

I am not a very patient person. I dread waiting in lines or sitting in traffic. When I set my mind to do something, I want to do it right away.

I set a goal to start working out with November Project during my #SoberSeptember last year, & I completely fell in love with not only the workouts, but the wonderful people as well. I looked forward to Monday & Wednesday mornings all fall, & rarely missed a workout. Then, in late November, I noticed my knee was starting to bug me. It was especially bothersome when I ran stairs. I put off seeing a physio until mid December for fear of having to give up my workouts, just as they’d become a staple in weekly routine.

It turned out I had a fair bit of swelling in both my knees. My right knee had been the one giving me grief, but my left was actually weaker. My physio told me I had something called patellofemoral syndrome: the muscles around my knees don’t keep my kneecaps properly aligned, likely due to an imbalance in my quad muscles. This is causing damage to my cartilage. This damage is what’s behind the swelling & pain. Apparently, you can’t rebuild cartilage, so he suggested we start working on realigning things right away.

He warned me that it would be a long, boring process. I’d also have to take a break from some of my favourite things, namely running stairs (& running in general). Having just hit such a groove with November Project, I was pretty bummed at this news. I’ve also never truly been injured enough to have to stop any activities. I’m stubborn & impatient so I knew this wouldn’t be easy for me, but I was determined to listen to my physio. I really committed to all my exercises, & worked on them diligently.

Over the last several months, I’ve had to compromise on a lot of things I love to do, fitness-wise. I’m still going to gymnastics. I still go to November Project. I still bike to & from work, & take Odin on long walks & hikes. There are still so many things that I can do. I’m trying to focus on that. I don’t run the stairs at NP or go for runs (except this one time I did a huge scavenger hunt a couple weeks ago. Whoops!). I’m still working away at my constantly evolving slew of quad & glute exercises. & my physio was right – it’s long & boring.

I signed up to run the SeaWheeze again back in the fall, & training was set to begin this week. I was optimistic that I’d be cleared to start running again after my appointment last week, just in time to start this training & join some of the running groups I’ve been looking forward to. Unfortunately, my left knee is only at about 80%. Until there’s no more swelling, I have to keep working on more exercises & stay away from running. It was frustrating news to get, especially considering I’d been diligent with all my exercises. & I’m just not that patient. I’m not used to being sidelined.

I’m still planning to run the SeaWheeze this summer, as it’s one of my favourite races, but I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for the fact that it will likely be my slowest race to date. As a fairly competitive personality, this is also something I don’t do well with. It’s a tough pill to swallow knowing I won’t be able to push as hard as I’d like in my race. In about 6 weeks, I’ll go back to my physio, hopefully without any swelling, &  be cleared to start run training (which should be really interesting over our three weeks in Europe!). For now, I’m substituting my runs with biking & strength training. It’s not quite the same, & I find spring is when I most want to be out there on the river paths, but it’s better than nothing.

I realize this injury is a tiny blip in the grand scheme of things, but it’s definitely testing my patience. I’m trying to be grateful for everything that I can do, because I truly can still do so many of the things I really love. I know I’ll be back out there soon, & I’ll appreciate it all the more.

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