Hello Winter

Happy Winter Solstice! I said that out loud while smiling, trying to convince myself that a) winter isn’t so bad, b) it is acceptable for it to be pitch black outside before dinner time, and that b) frozen eyelashes are trendy. This year, I’m going to try reeeeeally hard to like winter. I might say that every year, but this is THE year. Eric suggested I go for “tolerate”, but I’m going to aim high and plant myself firmly in the “like” zone. And yes, it is intentional that I’m writing this post on the first official day of winter/shortest day of the year because that means things are already looking up, right???

There are lots of nice, fun things about this season and plenty of people have managed to (or at least pretend to) embrace our Sudbury winters. I do enjoy some winter-related activities (skating, snowshoeing, drinking hot chocolate, sitting directly in front of a fire, wrapping myself in several blankets, etc.), but the bad always seems to outweigh the good for me. With that said, I feel the first step toward liking winter is to identify the specific things about winter that I strongly dislike. Here are my Top 4:

  1. The “Air Hurts My Face” Cold
  2. Eternal Darkness
  3. Side”walks”
  4. Running Struggles

I have come to terms with the fact that I can’t change the temperature, stop the snow/ice or force the sun to show itself. Soooo I guess I will have to work around these issues.

Here’s how I plan to battle the winter blues this year and (hopefully) make the most out of this snowy season:

1. Lunchtime Walks

It’s dark when you leave in the morning and dark when you get home. Sigh. I need sun! Getting outside at lunchtime is a great way to take advantage of the limited daylight and I find it energizing… maybe even more so when it’s freezing out. It’s good motivation to walk faster and an excuse to pop into  stores and coffee shops to warm up. Other benefits: the sidewalks are typically better maintained and downtown Sudbury is a fantastic place to people-watch.

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Downtown walks = cool murals + self-esteem boost

2. Run Outside More + Gym 

I know there are people out there who run outside in all conditions and even like winter running. And I don’t mind winter running… but there is a limit to that madness. I just don’t enjoy running when it’s below -20ish and/or super icy outside so I’m not going to do it.  I see Instagram runners frolicking through fluffy powdery snow in a long sleeved shirt, shoes with “grip”, and a cute headband. Meanwhile, I have snot running down my face (which I can’t feel by the way, but know it’s happening), am close to getting hit by a car and/or in the midst of twisting my ankle.

I’m going to make a better effort to run outside more this winter; I think I’ve already surpassed last year’s count and those runs have actually gone pretty well! Huh, who knew? However, it’s nice to have other options for when the weather is really terrible so Eric and I got gym memberships (again). We do have a treadmill, but I thought it would be good to do more cross training, lift some heavy stuff, and not lock myself in our basement-gym all winter. Plus, sometimes it’s nice to interact with people instead of staring at a wall. Sometimes.

I’ll try to be THIS excited for winter running

 

3. More Mini Adventures 

If you’re familiar with my blog, you probably know that I started out with the intent of documenting one new mini adventure every week. This got harder as I got busier/re-joined the real world, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop adventuring! What I liked about that challenge was that it got me to see Sudbury in a different way and forced me to get out and do stuff (even in winter). Some of my favourite local mini adventures from last winter were:

On my bucket list for this winter: snowshoeing at Windy Lake and checking out the World Women’s Curling Championships in North Bay. Winter is also a good time to try  activities like the Science North escape room, a cooking class, and indoor sports. I’ll be playing floor hockey and Eric and I are trying volleyball, both of which should be interesting. I haven’t played volleyball since getting cut from the team in grade 9 so hopefully I can get past that rejection and, well, dominate.

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Arrowhead skating path

4. Get Cozy

Winter is a good excuse to buy cozy comfy clothes, especially for someone who is always freezing cold. So far, I’ve gotten a pair of cute Northern Smittens, more fleecy tights (a necessity), fleecy and reflective running stuff, and some long cardigans that I can cocoon myself in. Oh also, more socks… double layer thermal. One pair is knee high length, which is pretty much the definition of “cozy”. Having the appropriate clothes/gear (last year I got boots with built-in flip-down ice picks, which was very exciting) and lots of layers makes the thought of battling the frigid temperatures less daunting.

Bring it on winter, I’m ready for you! Thanks for reading, I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 🙂

 

 

 

 

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Summer Road Trip Recap

Well, it looks like my dream of the warm fall temperatures continuing well into November (and let’s be real, ideally all winter) is officially crushed. I came to this realization as I begrudgingly hauled my winter coat out from its hiding spot yesterday…tear. So instead of attempting to increase the temperature using sheer will power and determination, I decided to reminisce about the nice weather by writing about our summer road trip.

Who doesn’t love a good road trip?? Last year, we (and of course I’m referring to me, Eric, and Mike) drove around Iceland’s Ring Road in a camper van. This year we zipped around a few Great Lakes in the Pilot, camped, and caught some ball games along the way!

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Batchawana Bay Photoshoot Day 1

What spurred this journey? The Jays were playing the Cubs at Wrigley Field, which could have been a highly anticipated series in the thick of the playoff race. If you follow baseball, you’re probably aware that the Jays were not quiiiite as hot this year as the previous few seasons. But still, Wrigley is an awesome ballpark and Chicago is an awesome city so it was still well worth the (awesome) trip.

We could have just driven or flown straight to Chicago, but where’s the fun in that?? Instead, we opted for the (very) long way around through Lake Superior Provincial Park, Thunder Bay, along the shores of Lakes Superior and Michigan… and ended with Eric driving in a straight shot from Chicago to Sudbury. And if you’re thinking “Oh, you guys must have gotten a pretty early start to do that drive”,  you would be incorrect. We left Chicago at 4:30 PM.

It was a bit of a whirlwind, but it’s always fun to check out new places. And that drive along Lake Superior was breathtaking. If you haven’t done it, you should definitely go. The cities we visited were also pretty cool. DSC00163

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Lake Superior coastlines

We spent the first three nights camping; Eric and I in the Pilot and Mike in a tent. We stayed at Rabbit Blanket campground in Lake Superior Provincial Park, Rainbow Falls Provincial Park, and Gooseberry Falls State Park in Minnesota. Other than Eric aggressively breaking our camping stove night one in combination with our firewood being wet (I was obviously super happy about this), things went pretty smoothly. It was warmer than Iceland (surprise), plus Eric had a sleeping bag this time instead of just a teeny Ikea microfleece blankie.

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Practicing in case we get called up to the big leagues
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Stone skipping champ at Rainbow Falls
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Suspension bridge at Ouimet Canyon near Thunder Bay
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Iona’s Beach near Gooseberry Falls
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Sudbury/Minnesota fashion

Our first baseball stop was Minneapolis to see the Twins take on the Indians at Target Field. The Twins lost pretty badly, but we did get to see “Big Sexy” pitch (best nickname?) and the Edwing made an appearance. I also had delicious salted caramel + cookie dough ice cream so it was an overall win.

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Target Field

Minneapolis Highlights

  • Sculpture Garden
  • Bridges (so many bridges)
  • Mill Ruins Park
  • Brit’s Pub (lawn bowling green + free outdoor movie night!)
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Sculpture Garden
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View from Mill Ruins Park

We had to leave right after the 7PM Twins game since the next game on our schedule (Brewers vs. Pirates) was in Milwaukee at 2PM the next day. We stopped in Eau Claire for the night. The only reason to stop here is to sleep and then leave immediately, which is exactly what we did. This was by far the worst (and cheapest for good reason) accommodation but it suited our purposes fine. There was a pool…but it was filled with mattresses. Anyway, moving onto Milwaukee…

I really liked Milwaukee! Like Minneapolis, it had a mix of older and renovated warehouse-type buildings along the river and an industrial vibe to it. There are tons of pubs and breweries here and Miller Park was a really neat stadium with lots of parking lot space for tailgating. And the frozen custard….so freaking good. And deep-fried cheese curds…probably not something to eat regularly but also delicious.

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View from the field when the roof closed

The Brewers game was a lot closer and they won, which is always exciting. After the game, we took an “Afternoon Stroll” on the field as the roof closed. Cool. The stadium food here pretty good too…I got some deep fried curds and I think the guys got sausage or some other meat-based item. If you like cheese, beer, and sausage (sorry…”brats”) then Milwaukee is the place for you.

Milwaukee Highlights

  • Miller Park
  • Swing Park
  • Bronze Fonz (creepy)
  • Lakefront Brewery (free cake!)
  • Frozen custard
  • Frozen custard
  • Frozen custard (not a typo, it’s just that good)
  • Eric’s two-plate breakfast
  • Waterfront – Veteran’s Park

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Breakfast of champions

Chicago was our last stop and we planned on spending a few days here since we love it so much. And it didn’t disappoint! We stayed in a different area (near the Water Tower and John Hancock Center) than we have during previous visits, and there was great access to Magnificent Mile shopping and the waterfront trail from here. It was a busy weekend in the city with the Air Show and Jays in town.

One thing we learned was to double check the time of the game. We thought we had lots of time but the game was actually at 1:00…not 2:00. Thanks a lot time zones. Also check which gate you have to go through…oops. We had bleacher seats, which were a ton of fun plus we got tank tops for Budweiser Bleacher Fridays at the gate. One size technically can fit all… it just so happens that mine is a dress and Eric’s is a bit more “fitted”.

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Jose Jose Jose Joseeeeee

Chicago Highlights

  • Joe’s (we go to this restaurant every time we visit and it is THE best)
  • Wrigley
  • Biking and running along the waterfront
  • Driehaus Museum
  • St. James Chapel (beautiful stained glass!)
  • Andy’s Jazz Bar
  • Gangster walking tour
  • Pizzaaaaaaaa
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City lights
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Chicago skyline
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John Hancock Center
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Gorgeous stained glass at St. James Chapel
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More stained glass at the Driehaus Museum
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French poster exhibit at Driehaus Museum
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Dillinger’s demise

And that was our road trip in a nutshell 🙂 Now it’s time to hibernate for winter, see you in June.

Checking the Marathon Off the Bucket List

Seeing as I’m writing this post, you can probably guess that I survived Sunday’s marathon…yay! Am I rushing to sign up for the next one? Welllllll….I’ll keep you posted. The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon was a great choice for my first full marathon (and Eric’s and my mom’s first 5K race!) and it was an awesome experience.

This race was really well organized, had a great expo, great volunteers, and there were tons of spectators and entertainment along the course so you almost forgot about how far you still had to run (almost). Plus, I got to run with (i.e. saw them as they looped back on the course like 20km ahead) Olympians and other speedy athletes.

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Inspirational Ed Whitlock wall at the expo

The marathon overall winner (Philemon Rono from Kenya) broke the course record and ran the fastest marathon on Canadian soil with a crazy-fast time of 2:06:51. Look at his split times and pace!! His pace was less than 3:00/km for the first half and overall was 3:01/km!! Just….how??!??

Anyway, my time was not quite that fast (I mean, it was close….LOL JK) but I did manage to finish and not keel over at any point during the race so in a sense, I also “won”. Here are some of my thoughts and feelings on the whole experience:

My Race Plan

I had a goal time in mind and, in retrospect, it was pretty ambitious for my first marathon. A full marathon really is a whole different beast from a half and I probably underestimated it a teeny bit…. lesson learned. I still think it was important to have a goal, but by 30K I knew I wasn’t going to hit it. I ran the first half around my target pace, ran slightly faster until 30K (those 5K splits were looking prettyyyyy nice) and was feeling pretty good and optimistic at this point.  “I’ll stay at this pace until 35ish km then I’ll kick it up a bit” – my body’s response to that was “Um, that’s a nice thought but nope!” Somewhere between 30-35K, my legs refused to listen to my brain telling them to move faster; they felt heavy and my hips and hammies were feeling the pain. So my plan had to switch from time to self-preservation haha. Plus I knew I had to at least make it to 41K to see my cheering squad!

My Cheering Squad

I knew that Eric, my mom, Brian, Meg, Cody, and Kenzie would be waiting at around the 41K spot, which definitely helped me push through the pain. Luckily, Eric is easy to spot in a crowd and he was the first one I saw closely followed by the rest of the squad. My form was not exactly great by this point in the race (i.e. more of a shuffle/hobble) but I was still technically running! I got my audible cursing out of the way in the few km leading up to this point so I had plenty of smiles ready for my fans and the cameras! Seeing them cheering for me gave me the extra little boost for the final (but omg loooongest) km.

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Part of the cheering squad ❤ 

The Atmosphere

The entertainment and spectators throughout the course provided great motivation and distraction; normally, I like to run with music but wanted to soak everything in and I’m glad I opted out of the headphones. Plus, your name is on your bib so strangers can personalize their cheers for you! One person did call me gill (like what a fish has), but other than that, everyone nailed the pronunciation. There were neighbourhood cheer sections, live music, stilt-walkers, steel drums (Kenzie was very intrigued by these), confetti, etc. Plus, some runners themselves added entertainment – like the guy who ran dressed as Gord (and played Hip songs the whole time! I think Little Bones was playing when I ran by), a couple of people in hockey equipment, a clown, a lumberjack, and the “joggler” to name a few.

The Finish Line

The sweet, sweet finish line. While it felt great to be done running, I didn’t count on struggling so much with walking. Or with opening my water bottle. Both were equally as challenging (seriously, was I just super weak or my hands too sweaty or what? I just wanted water!) And the walk from the finish line to the post-race party site felt like another marathon! I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to our designated meeting spot, but eventually hobbled my way over to my family, grabbing a food bag and a few Voltaren samples on the way. I’ve never felt so conflicted on whether I needed to a) keep moving forever or nap, and b) eat everything or throw up. I managed to do some stretches, rest a bit, eat a banana and mini cookies, drink some gatorade and water (after getting assistance with the opening part) and then we headed back to the hotel.

Recovery

In a word: rough. Like a really bad hangover. One after a night of dancing waaaay too hard so it also hurts to move. I’m normally starving after a long run and was looking forward to eating all the food. During the race, I was thinking about all the things I would eat and drink: hmmm,  I could go for breakfast food…waffles or pancakes perhaps? Or something more savoury like pizza or fries?  And of course I’ll want an extra big dessert…pie? Oooh, cheesecake. A BEER??? I haven’t really been drinking all summer so sign me up for an extra large glass please. Well, my stomach had other thoughts more along the lines of….better luck tomorrow. I tried, I really did. I even went for that large beer…and about 3 hours later it (and everything else) well….I won’t go into detail. Eric went out to grab something for dinner and when he got back and I told him that I didn’t think I would be eating anymore today, his response was “so I guess you don’t want this tuna sandwich?” Death glare. “… or sushi?” Hahahaha. I’m feeling better today (two days post-marathon), but still pretty tired and a bit hobble-y. We’re heading off to curling soon, which could pose another challenge. While it might not demand the most athletic ability, we’ll have to see how a) walking, b) walking on ice, and c) sliding on said ice and d) getting back up again goes. Wish me luck!

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Hey, I made it!

So…were the months of training worth it? Definitely. It does feel pretty good to say that I ran a marathon. And the timing roughly coincides with my one-year anniversary of reaching Santiago after walking 700 km across Spain, which begs the question…what should next October’s endurance challenge be??? I am open to suggestions 🙂