Monday, July 30, 2012

I Hate Running (But I Hate to Admit it)

When I started training for my upcoming 5Ks, I admit that I was nervous but hopeful. I figured there would be some tough periods, but that if I just kept at it I’d get better. So far, that hasn’t really been the case. Granted, I haven’t been running as much as I’ve meant to – partly because of my busy schedule, but partly because it tends to go so badly when I do try it. I have yet to crack 2K and I’ve been training for months. Oh, and that’s 2K of intervals, so I’m not even running the whole time at this stage.
I know that the weather is a factor. It's been extremely hot in Toronto this summer and the heat and humidity are not great for running. I've also learned that my family has a history of difficulty running – asthma and other breathing conditions are common - and my mom is convinced this is part of the problem, especially with the humidity. I’m sure those things are factoring in, but I’ve also realized something else – I hate running.
I didn’t want to hate it – in fact, I wanted to love it. I wanted to be one of those people that gets an endorphin high when they run, someone you see jogging happily by and bouncing up and down at a stop light. I wanted to get pretty running outfits and meet other people for running dates. I pictured doing races with friends, joining a Running Room club, maybe getting a dog to run with at some point. I did not picture hating it. Or loathing it. Or wanting to never, ever, ever, run again.
But that’s sort of where I’m at. I have a few cute running outfits, but I hate putting them on. I hate knowing that I will come home a hot, sweaty mess no matter how short my run. I hate dodging pedestrians and I hate that they can hear me coming up behind them because I’m panting so loudly even I can hear myself over my iPod. I hate that feeling of burning in my chest, like I can’t breathe and I hate feeling like a failure when I walk by all those other people who are actually running.
I’ve listened to the continuing support of my amazing friends and family (including a huge cheering section on Twitter), I’ve spent time at the Running Room making sure I have the right shoes and equipment, I’ve experimented with playlists and running apps and all the things that have been recommended. And I’ve run. And run. And run. And I still hate it.
Maybe there’s a corner that I’ll turn at some point and I’ll realize that running really is the sport for me. But for now I feel like once these 5Ks are done I’m going back to the things I really love. I’ll be strength-training, dancing and doing yoga again. I’ll P90X on a more consistent basis, because I really love their kempo and plyo workouts, and I’ll walk a lot more. I don’t see a lot of running in my future, but you never know.
I think what I’ve learned from this is that not every sport is for everyone. I have so many friends and family members who love to run – and I will continue to support them in that. But to paraphrase Bruce Springsteen, ‘baby, I wasn’t born to run.’

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Karlo Estates Red and White Port

One of my favouite stops on my recent Prince Edward County wine tour was at Karlo Estates winery. I had been chatting with the amazingly talented Sherry Martin on Twitter and was excited to meet her, but I had also heard nothing but rave reviews for their port and was eager to try that. I definitely wasn’t disappointed.
Karlo Estates has a gorgeous location and the creek that runs out behind is just stunning. Richard Karlo, the winemaker, has built an incredible bridge out there and the members of our wine tour made sure to pose for photos on top of it before our tasting.
We were a large group but they had a fantastic set-up for us in their lovely loft area, with lots of interesting food pairings to go with each tasting. I was surprised by many of the selections, as it seemed to go against what I typically choose in terms of wine. The cab franc, which I had been excited to try, didn’t suit my tastes (Shawn loved it), but the CHOA Chardonnay lit up my tastebuds. I am not a chard drinker in general, so this was impressive for me.
But the real surprise for me was the port. Granted, I had heard a lot of hype from friends on Twitter who are big fans, but I still wasn’t sure what I would think of it. Port can be hit or miss – too sweet, too cloying, too much overall, so it can go either way. From the moment the Van Alstine port hit my mouth, though, I was in love.  It was a flavour explosion – hitting all the right notes and not overwhelming with the sweetness. Love.
The Van Alstine White Port was sweeter, but I still really enjoyed it. And white port in and of itself is so rare that I was fascinated. I was happy to have been able to sample both and to get to check out the differences.
In line to purchase, I had decided on a bottle of CHOA and a bottle of white port. The red was spectacular, but I was mindful of my wallet after two days in wine country and thinking that the white port was so unique and interesting that it would be a shame to leave without it. Discussing my choices with a man from our group, he shook his head and said, ‘I saw your face when you tried that red port – you have to get that one.’ He reminded me of what one of our wine tour guides had told us earlier in the day – ‘you always regret the wine you leave behind.’
So true. Which is how I ended up with a bottle of both the red and the white port and I don’t regret a penny.  I’m definitely looking forward to our next trip to Karlo Estates.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dufferin Grove Organic Farmers' Market

On Thursday, July 19th, I attended a Tweet-up at Dufferin Grove Organic Farmers' Market hosted by Vicki from Mom Who Runs. I love Tweet-ups and was excited to attend this one – I’ve known Vicki on Twitter forever, but had never met her in person. I love any opportunity to meet with the people I communicate regularly with on the site. It’s always fun and a great way to meet people.
For more information on the Farmer’s market, which is absolutely fantastic, I recommend that you check out Vicki’s post on the Mom Who Runs blog – she has a great overview of all there is to do there. Since we often go to the market at Riverdale Farm on Tuesdays, I had expected to have a similar experience at Dufferin Grove. It’s actually quite a bit bigger, however, and there is an emphasis on prepared foods that I haven’t seen at Riverdale. Both are great, but Dufferin Grove definitely offers more diversity and options.
Spring roll from Earth & City
I started out with a spring roll from Earth & City – it was tons of veggies wrapped in a collard green leaf. It was full of veggie goodness and super yum. After that, I walked around a bit and then treated myself to a cinnamon bun at another vender. This was a huge treat and SO sweet. I barely made it halfway through, but Shawn was happy to help me finish it over the next few days.
Huge, but yummy, cinnamon bun
I also picked up some kale and onions for a great price, some fresh local blueberries and some baked goods made of rice flour to share with my gluten-sensitive friend at the office.  A good haul and I felt great to be supporting local farmers and businesses.
This was a fairly small tweet-up and many were busy parents who couldn’t stay too long, but I really enjoyed meeting everyone. I had some great food, met new and interesting people and discovered a fantastic new place in the city. Definitely a successful Thursday evening! A huge thanks to Vicki for organizing this.
Do you have a favourite farmer’s market? I’d love to hear about it!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Iced Tea Instead

Having kicked the iced coffee addiction into high gear this summer, I’m actively trying to find alternative options that involve less caffeine, sugar and whatever else they put in those drinks. It’s working, to a degree.
One of my biggest allies in the fight has been my Takeya Flash Chiller, which I use to make brewed iced tea. I freely admit that it was an impulse purchase. Shawn was getting his hair cut and I wandered down the hall to the David’s Tea to get an iced tea. I chatted with the girl who waited on me and was fascinated by the iced tea brewing process they used. She said I could purchase one of my own – I nodded appreciatively and paid for my drink.
But the thought stuck with me. I like cold drinks and I tend to go a bit off the rails with my calories and chemicals when I vow to stick just to water. I get bored with that and end up having a diet soda or juice – not great health options. I’ve tried cutting my juice with sparkling water and just drinking sparkling water, but neither option really worked.
So when Shawn finished his haircut, I asked him to come with me to check out the Flash Chiller and see what he thought. Surprisingly, he was on board. It was $50, though, so he made me promise that I would actually use it. And I have – a lot.
These days, I brew a pitcher on the weekend to use throughout the week. I take a glass with me in the morning and then often have one in the evening. Sometimes I go through two pitchers in a week and that’s just fine too. David’s offers a range of fantastic flavours and I like the process of making tea in my chiller. We have an IKEA brew pot too, which I use for hot tea or making iced chai tea a la Oh She Glows, but I like the Takeya one best. It’s also BPA-free, which is a big bonus for me.
I even lugged it with me to the cottage this summer – and wished I had brought more tea because I ran out after just two days. Sadly, there isn’t a David’s in cottage country.
So was it worth the cost? I think so. It’s easy-to-use and easy to clean. I also like how it’s tall and thin so it doesn’t take up a lot of space in the fridge. I am willing to pay a little more for an item if it’s something that I will get value out of (and actually use). In this case my Takeya Flash Chiller fits the bill. Using David’s Tea, however, does make this a decadent purchase. I have spent more on tea in the last few months than ever before and because it takes about 20g to brew a pitcher it is a significant investment.
But I've decided that if paying extra for fancy tea means that I’m not putting diet soda or sugar-laden juice in my body then I’m OK with that. And I am hopeful that over time I’ll figure out what varieties I like the best and which ones are the most cost-effective, so I’ll make better purchases.
Do you brew your own iced tea? What are some of your favourites? Do you use a home brew system or just a regular tea pot?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sandbanks Rose

Sandbanks Rosé
Shawn and I visited Sandbanks Winery in Prince Edward County as part of our recent winery tour. It’s a beautiful, laidback place full of colourful Muskoka chairs and beautiful views. It’s a great space for relaxing with a glass of wine and I understand that it’s now the site of many local events – definitely a good fit for that.
We did a full flight tasting and I fell for the rosé, which is refreshing and light with just the right hint of sweetness to impress my palate. I wasn’t surprised to see that The Toronto Star gave it a very good review just days after we picked up our own bottle.
This is a wonderful summer sipper – perfect for the patio or a weekend at the cottage. And on hot days like we’ve been having in Toronto recently, I can’t think of anything better.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Morning Madness

It seems like the earlier I get up, the more frazzled I am before I leave the house. When I had a 45-minute walk to work, I got up at 6:30am and was out the door by 8am. I don't remember it being terribly stressful. Now I have a ten minute walk and try to get up at 5:15am and out the door by 8:15am, but it's a terrible scramble.

Granted, I have all sorts of things that I've added to the mix over the last little while. I try to meditate for ten minutes, I take the time to flat-iron my hair most mornings, I make sure to spend at least 15 minutes writing in my journal, the plants need to be watered and I usually tackle the dishes in the am. I've also become less and less good about putting out my clothes or packing my gym bag the night before. It's a lot to cram in alongside showering, eating, Tweeting and all the other morning stuff I've done for years.

My goal with getting up earlier has always been to make my morning feel less chaotic. I want to write, I want to have a proper breakfast, I want to meditate and I know that if I leave things until the end of the day they will get pushed aside because I'm dragging myself in after a long day at work and the gym. When I promise myself that I'll journal in the evening, well, that promise is always broken. Once I finally get home there is just so much else that needs doing and I'm exhausted.

But that's part of the problem with getting up so early too. I am only getting about 6 hours of sleep at night. I try to get to bed earlier to compensate for the earlier wake-up, but it rarely happens. Sometimes it's my own fault. Many of the shows I want to watch are on at ten, since we don't have a PVR and downloading them can be frustrating I'll usually stay up. Then it takes me awhile to fall asleep, so when the alarm goes off at 5:15am it feels like I just closed my eyes.

Not getting enough sleep is a major health no-no, but it's hard to just turn off at 10pm. By the time I get home from the gym it's often 7pm or later, so dinner is at 8pm and then I want to catch up on email, chores, reading and such. I also want to spend time with my husband. If he was personal training clients that night, he may not even get in the door until after ten. It's nice to curl up and watch a show together or chat for awhile. But it's exhausting.

And my long night turns into a frantic morning.

Any tips on how to ease the chaos?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Chateau des Charmes – Generation Seven



Generation Seven
When people hear that I’m interested in wine, the first question I get is often, ‘what’s your favourite?’ My truthful answer is that I don’t really have one. I’m still learning and exploring new flavours and types - there is such a huge range to choose from. Picking just one favourite seems almost impossible.

But my go-to wine is an easy answer – Generation Seven white wine. I love it. It’s crisp and fresh and neither too sweet nor too dry for my palate. It’s a blend, so it’s a mixture of different types of wine and, in my opinion, it brings out the best in all of them. No number scores for me on this blog (I'm still learning about all that), but in terms of what I enjoy drinking, this scores very high.

Shawn and I originally picked up a bottle when we popped into Chateau des Charmes on a February trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake. We weren’t planning a visit, but happened to pass by when looking for another store. It’s a gorgeous winery and there was quite a selection to choose from. The tasting bar was busy, so I decided just to pick out a bottle based on the pretty label (something I wouldn’t do now, but did often before I knew what I was doing). Turns out, it was a perfect choice regardless of how I chose it. We look forward to going back and doing a full tasting on our next visit.

Generation Seven has become the bottle I purchase as a hostess gift or for when I'm heading to something that's BYOB. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to find at the LCBO, because it's a wine I feel really comfortable with giving to others. I know that I like it and I feel confident that they will too.

Thanks for taking the time to read my very first wine 'review'. Next Wednesday I'll post about another personal favourite in honour of Wine Wednesday. And please feel free to leave suggestions about other wines I should try.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cruising

Last night I attended a very fun event – the HAPA Alliance Toronto boat cruise. I was invited by my wonderful friend Christine, from Christine’s Fitness. I agreed to attend to live-Tweet for Christine and to take photos as we cruised along Lake Ontario with some of Toronto’s best holistic practitioners.

It was a great time. The weather wasn’t perfect, but it was sunny for stretches and we were able to mix and mingle with all sorts of interesting people. I met homeopaths, holistic estheticians, holistic dentists, healers, medicinal plant experts and many other fascinating individuals. It was great to discuss with them how physical fitness and nutrition play a huge role in overall health.

I’m certainly hoping to have the opportunity to attend more HAPA events – possibly ones involving a lecture or presentation by one of the many interesting individuals in attendance. There was so much to learn and only a few hours to spend on the boat, so I look forward to other opportunities in the future.

Have you used a holistic medical practitioner? What was your experience?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Book Club Update

This month, our book club decided to read The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill. I had wanted to read it for ages, so I was excited by the prospect. It definitely took me longer to get through than I expected, though. The book, for those who haven’t read it, is incredibly powerful. It follows the life of Aminata, a young African woman who is stolen from her home at age 11 and shipped to the U.S. to become a slave on an American plantation.

Along the way she learns to read and to write and to speak many languages. She uses her skills to challenge her oppressors and to create unique relationships as she moves from through cities, countries and continents on an incredible journey. The book is beautifully written but also incredibly heartbreaking in places. It took me so much longer to read than most books because some parts just hurt my heart too much to take in large chunks.

Thankfully, the amazing book community I have on Twitter encouraged me to keep reading and it was so worth it. The Book of Negroes is definitely one of the most important books I’ve ever read and I feel like I will carry a piece of it with me moving forward. I can’t wait to discuss it at book club and see if others have been similarly affected.

Have you read The Book of Negroes? What did you think?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Twitter Support

One of the most amazing things I’ve discovered about Twitter is how much of a supportive community you can build around yourself when you engage in the conversation. This has been hugely apparent to me when learning about wine, but also with my desire to train for a 5K. When I was thinking about taking on the challenge, I voiced my doubts on my Twitter feed. Moments later I had Twitter friends urging me to do it – and providing lots of helpful advice to make doing it seem far less stressful.

Now, when I go out on a run or take on a challenging workout I try and post about it. I have received so much great advice and assurance and it’s hugely motivating. I may not know many of the people I chat with on Twitter in real life, but they have become the Greek chorus in my mind as I try to live to meet my fitness goals. And I find that I’m just as excited to help them reach their own fitness goals. I make a point of sending encouraging messages when I see someone going out for a run or heading to the gym.

This has led to some great online conversations about new techniques, apps to try, gear to use and so much more. I feel like I have an amazing community surrounding and supporting me as I run towards my 5K. I wish more people were able to tap into this kind of resource because it really does make an incredible difference.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Running Against Time

Because I work out pretty regularly, I was under the impression that training for a 5K would be relatively easy. Not that I don’t have a huge amount of respect for runners – I do – I just thought it would be a fairly easy transition to go from one form of fitness to another. I was, as most runners will already know, completely wrong in this assumption.

I started out trying to run on the treadmill, but that didn’t go especially well. I have issues with balance that make it difficult for me to really focus on my running technique. Mostly I just have to concentrate on not falling off. I found that it was hard for me to really pace myself or to get very far. I would get winded quickly and lose my motivation.

Running outside was better, but it was still difficult. For my first run, I chose a relatively easy route without a lot of major streets to cross. I thought it would be a good place to start, but also a pretty place to run. I’m glad I picked a pretty route because I ended up walking a lot of it. I had trouble with my pacing and managed to run for about the first 4-5 minutes (just enough time for Tom Cruise to sing “Paradise City” on the Rock of Ages soundtrack). I got to the first set of lights and had to start to walk for longer and longer stretches. I’d walk for a few minutes, run for a bit, walk some more and then run a little more.

It was not pretty and I was hugely embarrassed when I’d see other runners (and there were many) going by. The little old couple that passed me at one point really stung. I had thought I was a fit person, but I had gassed so easily and so quickly on a route that was barely 2K. I limped home to Shawn (who is currently kicking butt through the P90X series) and he assured me that it would just take time and more practice. Your first run is never going to be your best run.

And so I got back out there a few days later and I did it all over again. This time I tried to slow my pace and that helped me make it much further before I had to stop and walk. I also set goals ahead of me when I’d transition. I could walk to the white flowers, but then I had to run to the fire hydrant at the end of the street. It helped. I was less winded, less sweaty and felt less awful overall. I still have a looooooong way to go before I will be ready to run the 5K in September, but at least it doesn’t feel as totally unattainable anymore. I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.