Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

By

Half Marathon #10 – Milestone Achieved!

I was stunned as I crossed the finish line of the Hollywood half marathon yesterday – I finished in just under 2 hours and 10 minutes! As you may recall, my hope going into the race was to beat 2:17 my time from the Fall Classic – and so I was thinking that I’d be really happy with a 2:15 finish. Though my training started off strong with the running study from Nov to early Feb, my training over the last month left a lot to be desired, thanks to darkness, snain and having the plague, to the point that though I did all the long runs, I really didn’t do much in the way of speedwork or hill training. But it turned out to be fantastic conditions for running, a great race atmosphere, and I guess I hadn’t lost all my training from the running study after all.

My race bib

The race started at 6 am yesterday, so after we arrived in Hollywood on Friday, we took it relatively easy – walked around checking out some sites, had some lunch (at what turned out to be a rather lacklustre pub), walked around some more, noticed that The Book of Mormon was playing at the Pantages Theatre, so we popped in there and were able to score tickets for the Saturday night show, went to the race expo to pick up our race packages and take advantage of the free massages1, walked around some more, went for dinner at the Hard Rock (where our waitress was an aspiring actress from Montreal2 – and so recognized that we were Canadians when she saw Alicia’s CIBC Visa card3!), found our way to Trader Joe’s4 where I got some dark chocolate dipped marshmallows (made in France) and, if you can believe it, maple cookies (made in Canada!)5.

Barry Manilow's star on the walk of fame

Mom, I took this photo for you!

Then we headed back to the hotel to get to bed at a reasonable hour – and we set 4 different alarms just to be sure we’d wake up early enough to have some breakfast and get ready for the race. Fortunately, our hotel was about a 3 minute walk to the start line, so we didn’t need to get extra early for travel time, and we didn’t even have to check any gear. With a 6 am start, we were lined up before sunrise, but I decided to wear running shorts and a T-shirt, as I figured once the sun did come up, I’d be pretty warm given all the running. I was a bit concerned that I might be freezing before the race got going, and though it was only 12 degrees C, it didn’t feel that cold and I was very glad that I didn’t have long sleeves or pants once the race got going, as it was reasonably warm and I was pretty sweaty by the end. The race was packed and we were in corral 8, so it was a nearly 15 minutes after gun time start that we actually reached the start line.

Alicai and I before the race

The quality of our pre-race photo is subpar because the sun hadn’t even risen yet and iPhones don’t take very good photos in low light. But here we are, ready to go!

The race was so packed that the first ~5 km of the race involved a lot of looking for gaps in the crowd and trying to squeeze through them. Pretty soon into the race, my GPS pinged off something far away, so my Runkeeper app thought I had run much further than I had and since I use Runkeeper to tell me my pace, I had no idea how fast I was running – as it was calculating my pace based on the wrong distance. I knew I was running faster than I’m used to – which has been about 7 mins/km for the last several long runs – but was pretty sure I wasn’t doing a 4:23 minute/km that it said I was doing. We did notice that were we well ahead of the 2:15 pace bunny, but I thought that she must have been mistiming her pace, because I didn’t think we were that much faster. I mean, I felt like I was running faster than normal – we were concentrating on running strong and in order to focus our energy on running, we weren’t even talking to each other like we usually do on our training runs and in many of our races, but I didn’t feel like I was on pace for a 2:10! I actually felt great – the sun was out, there were lots of bands playing music along the course, and lots of fans on the road side cheering on the runners, I felt strong and had a big smile on my face. There were a few points where I started to feel like I was slowing down a bit and had to dig a bit deeper to get my speed back up, but then I’d hit a small downhill stretch or band playing a great song and I felt good again. As got to what I think was around the 16 or 17 km mark6, I decided I needed a bit more help, so I turned on my music7 and it totally gave me a burst of energy to keep up the pace for that last 5 km. As I sprinted towards the finish line, I saw that the clock said ~2:24, and I thought, “Yeah, that 2:15 pace bunny (who was still quite a ways behind me), must be wrong,” as I figured it had taken us maybe 10 mins to cross the start line (there was no clock at the start line – or if there was, I didn’t see it). But immediately upon crossing the finish line, I stopped my Runkeeper app (though the distance was wrong on it, I knew the time would be correct) and was flabbergasted to see my time was just under 2:10! My best time ever was a 2:07:23, followed by a 2:10:48, so instead of just my hoped-for slightly-better-than November’s 2:17, I shave SEVEN MINUTES off my time and registered my second best of my 10 half marathons! I’d been starting to think that a 2 hour half was just out of my reach, but now I’m questioning that. I think that if I drop the remaining 8 lbs to get back to my pre-MBA weight8, and did some serious speedwork and hill training, a sub-2 hour half might just be possible for the Scotiabank half marathon in late June!

Hollywood Half Marthon 2014 medal

The really nice thing about a race starting at 6 am is that it gives you the entire rest of the day to do other things. After collecting our beautiful blingy Hollywood star shaped race medals and some delicious, delicious post-race food, we strolled leisurely back to our hotel9, where we showed and got prettied up and then headed out for some sightseeing.

Alicia and I after the race!

I think we look pretty good for having just run a half marathon!

We decided that we wanted to check out the Santa Monica pier, which was about 50 minutes away by bus. That turned out to be a perfect amount of time to rest our legs and see the sights along the way – we went through West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and a few other places that I can’t remember at the moment. By the time we got to Santa Monica, we were pretty hungry, so we were delighted to discover that they had way more – and much better – restaurants than were available around our hotel in Hollywood. We decided on a French bistro where we had a cheese board that was to die for and one of the best eggs benny I’ve ever had.

Post race brunch in Santa Monica, CA

Enjoying a well-earned post-half marathon brunch in Santa Monica, CA.

Fully satiated by this, we strolled down to the beach and walked on the warmest, softest sand you can imagine. I think that walking on a warm, soft, sandy beach might be the best thing ever after running a half marathon! After that we checked out the pier, then did a bit of jewelry shopping, and I think it was quite possibly the most perfect, leisurely afternoon in the history of ever. We headed back on the bus and then stopped off at a Target for some of the most efficient shopping ever. Like with Trader Joe’s, this was the first time I’d ever been to a real Target (the Targets in Canada are really just Zellers with a different logo). I picked up a new briefcase-ish bag for work, a new wallet (as mine was falling apart) and a birthday present for my nephew! Alicia also got a new bag, plus a bunch of stuff for her kids. By the time we got back to the hotel, it was almost 6 pm and since we knew we had a 30 min walk to the theatre, we quickly changed into our theatre-appropriate dresses, touched up our makeup, and decided on which our many jewelry purchases from Santa Monica went best with our outfits and headed out to grab some dinner before the show, which started at 8 pm. What we hadn’t counted on was that our walking speed would be considerably slower than normal, given the half marathon plus a full day of walking after that, so it took us about 45 minutes to get to the theatre. Happily, we found a nice restaurant where we could get seated right away and had appies (spinach and artichoke dip, plus truffle parmesan fries!) for dinner, so we got to the theatre with time to spare.

Tickets to Book of Mormon

The show was absolutely amazing. Both of us had heard that The Book of Mormon was great (and, really, they don’t give 9 Tonys to a bad show, right?), but didn’t really know anything about the plot. The show really did the live up to the hype – the songs were fantastic, the cast was unbelievably talented (I could not believe the range of the guy who played Elder Cunningham) and the entire thing was so freaking hilarious. Absolutely worth every penny! After the show, we grabbed a cab back to the hotel (the theatre was pretty much where the finish line of the race was, but our legs really were done and it was rather late and we had to get up early to catch the shuttle to the airport), quickly packed our bags, and hit the hay (again setting four different alarms to make sure we wouldn’t oversleep!).

When going through security at the airport, my race medal caused a bit of consternation in the xray. I could see that a few people were looking puzzled as they examined the xray of my bag and I knew immediately what the cause was. So they had to search through my bag to try to find it and, of course, since I’d hastily packed the night before I couldn’t remember exactly where I’d put it. After emptying my whole bag10, they eventually found it inside the bag I’d bought at Target! So it all went through the xray again, this time with the medal in its own plastic bin and then finally we got to be on our way.

All in all, it was pretty much a perfect trip and I think Alicia and I now have a taste for destination half marathons. At brunch we discussed several options – Rome, Paris, Hawaii, and Iceland were ones that came up, just to name a few. But that won’t be until next year, so we’ve got time to think about it.

Also, for the record, my official finish time was 2:09:57.3, making me 162nd out of 607 in my age/sex category – that’s the 73rd percentile11. Not too shabby!12. And as you can see, this new addition to my graph of half marathon times looks pretty awesome (remember, it’s race finish time, so shorter is better!):

Graph of half marathon finish times as of 5 April 2014

  1. The race expo was fairly small, given the size of the race, and didn’t have much in the way of free samples – which was disappointing as power bars from races is how I stock my earthquake preparedness kit. Also of note at the race expo was something that you’d never see in a race expo in Canada – in addition to booths for other races, sportswear, and hippie foods, there was booth where you could buy stun guns and pepper spray. *Pink* stun guns and pepper spray. I mean, just because you are fending off a would-be assailant does *not* mean you shouldn’t be coordinated, ladies! []
  2. So, yes, the aspiring-actress-as-waitress is totally a thing. Similarly, on our shuttle from the airport there were people from Vancouver who were heading down to some industry event and talking about having scripts they were going to be shopping around. I think we may have been the only people heading to Hollywood who weren’t trying for their big break. []
  3. She was actually the second person to recognize us as Canadians based on this! []
  4. Believe it or not, that was actually my first trip *ever* to Trader Joe’s! I’ve had tonnes of stuff from there before, as friends and co-workers are always popping down to the one in Bellingham and bringing stuff back to share, but I’ve never actually been before. []
  5. I was standing in Trader Joe’s, deliberating on how ridiculous it would be for a Canadian to buy maple cookies in the US, but another shopper told me, “Buy the cookies. I’m from Canada too – these are really good! []
  6. I’m not exactly sure as they only had mile markers, not km markers, and they weren’t very noticeable, so I probably only saw half of them. []
  7. I figured since Alicia and I weren’t chatting anyway, I may as well listen to some tunes! []
  8. I gained 15 lbs in the first 5 months of my MBA program and have only managed to lose 7 of those. []
  9. The finish line was further from our hotel than the start line and we’d originally thought we’d be too tired for that much of a walk after the race, so planned to grab a taxi, but the weather was so nice and it turned out to be really nice to stretch out our legs with a walk. []
  10. Hope everything in LAX enjoyed seeing my bras and underwear. []
  11. I.e., I ran faster than 73% of people in the race. []
  12. I also came in 2,098th out of all 5,726 people who finished the race (63th percentile) and 843rd out of 3,371 females in the race (85th percentile). []

By

LA Bound

I’m at the airport waiting for my flight to LA. Being at the airport means I have to write a blog posting about being at the airport. It’s the law of the blog. The blog law or blaw, if you will. Of course, there’s nothing tremendously exciting to write about while being at the airport. It’s pretty standard – go through security1 go through customs2 – and also when the security guy is cute. And he’s chatting you up. I mean, of course he’s chatting you up for security reasons, but it’s still nice when a cute guy is chatting you up!)), get a coffee, wait. But I’m not complaining about the lack of excitement – all that going smoothly is fine by me!

So there you have it – I’m sitting in the airport waiting for Alicia, who will be meeting me here, and then it’s off to sunny California3. I’m looking forward to a nice weekend away, a race in the sun, and a big blingy Hollywood star race medal to add to my collection!

  1. Since I checked in for my flight online yesterday and since I have no checked bags, there’s no check in at the airport – just proceed right to security. []
  2. The border guy didn’t think I looked like my passport photo… until he told me to stop smiling. But it’s hard not to smile when you are going off on vacation – even if just for 2 days []
  3. But be warned, potential thieves out there, my apartment is filled with vicious attack cats, vicious attack frogs, and a cat sitter who is big and can kick your butt. So no thieving while I’m gone! []

By

One Week Today….

… I’ll be running the Hollywood Half Marathon!

Now that the plague that had infected my lungs is down to a mere biosafety level of 2.5, I’ve been able to get out and do a couple of runs this week, confirming that I can, in fact, break the previously-elusive (at least in the past 3 weeks) 7 min/km barrier. So I might just finish this race in a halfway decent time after all1. But, as is the case with all my races in the last few years, I’ve downgraded my goal from “personal best” to “hope it’s not my worst time!” Actually, my hopes are a wee bit higher than that. Here’s the graph of all my half marathon race times:

Race Finish Times up to Nov 2013

As you can see, I managed in my most recent race to turn the tide of the downward spiral I was in (remembering that this is a graph of race finish times, meaning higher is worse) and it would be just peachy if I could continue that and  beat my time from the Fall Classic of 2:17:25. Honestly, I’d be happy with a 2:15.

More importantly, though, my two runs this week were actually enjoyable. They were short and quickly (for me) run and along the pretty riverfront and dry and zombies were chasing me2

Also, my Runkeeper app tells me that I’ve achieved 32% of my running goal for the year:

Untitled

And we aren’t even quite 25% of the way through the year! If I managed to do that during the hardest part of the year to run, I think that I’m going to crush this goal now that the better weather and long days are here!

  1. Assuming my foot holds out – it’s been a bit sore since the running study, though nothing that a bunch of stretching shouldn’t be able to fix – and that there’s not an earthquake. Yesterday’s news of an earthquake in LA reminded me that LA gets earthquakes. I hadn’t even thought of that until now! []
  2. Hmmm. I thought I’d blogged about the zombie running app that I use, but a quick search of the blog reveals that I have not. Guess that’s the subject for an upcoming blog posting!!). Pretty much everything one could want in a run. This winter and spring has had far too much running on treadmills or in the dark and the rain and I’d almost forgotten that I actually *like* running. But when I ran one day after work this week and actually felt the warmth of the sun as I set out on my run, and when today I felt like I was flying as a cruised along the pier, smiling happily at others out for a walk or a run, I remembered: this is why I run.

    As if to reward me further, the running gods decided to put someone at the Waves coffeeshop by my place giving out free samples when I was was on my way home from my run:

    Day 265

    I generally don’t like Waves coffee, but this vanilla latte wasn’t too bad ((Kalev, remind me to give you the coupon that I got, as I’m not likely to use it, but I know you like some of the stuff at Waves. []

By

2 Weeks ‘Til My 10th Half Marathon!

Hollywood Half marathon badge

This morning Alicia and I ran our last long run in our training for the Hollywood Half Marathon! As so often happens with our training, we set out with the best intentions of doing our training seriously and attempting for personal bests. I mean, I was just finishing up the running study I was participating in that required me to run four days per week, which meant I was in the groove of training and had set a good foundation for the training for this half. But, as also so often happens, training plans did not go according to plan. I blame a combination of darkness, snain1, and the plague.

Usually when I run a half marathon in the spring, it happens in May (BMO Vancouver) or June (Scotiabank Vancouver, Edge to Edge in Tofino), which means that by the time I have to start training, the days are long enough that it’s still light out when I get home from work, so I can throw on my running shoes and do my training. Not so when you train for an early April race – for most of the training period, it’s dark when you leave for work and it’s dark when you get home. And since I hate treadmills with the fire of thousand suns – and was extremely sick of treadmills after completing the running study – I just couldn’t motivate myself to go to the gym to do my running. And then it seemed like every time I made a plan to go for a run after work – usually in a valiant effort to do my hill training or speed work – it would snain. Or snow. Or some other ridiculous thing that would make it rather unsafe to go running up and down a hill. And then, about two weeks ago, probably precipitated by running 18 km and playing three playoff hockey games in one weekend, I got sick. I’m pretty sure it’s just a really bad cold, but it was so bad that I actually had to stay home from work! If you know me, you know that I almost never stay home from work2 so the fact that I stayed home meant I was pretty much on my death bed. I woke up with a screaming sore throat, a massive headache, a bunch of other random aches and pains and was fully intending to go to work, but when I got up and fed the cats and found that just opening a can of cat food exhausted me, I called in sick. And then slept for 6 more hours, despite having slept a full night’s sleep. Since then, I’ve been trying to be reasonable, which for me means I’ve only run my long runs (18 km last Saturday and 20 km today) and played my hockey games, and have deliberately rested to try to recover3. I’m feeling a fair bit better today than I have been, except for the lingering cough. Poor Alicia had to listen to me coughing for the entire 20 km of our run. I’ve got two weeks to shake this cough before the race, so hopefully I still don’t have it when we fly down to LA!

If you happen to find any typos in this blog posting, it’s not my fault. I blame my copy editor:

Crick is helping me blog

  1. Snain is a portmanteau of snow and rain and I used it to describe this precipitation that we get in Vancouver where it’s not quite snow, but not quite rain. It combines the making-you-soaking-wet-when-you-are-out-in-it property of rain with the coldness of snow and somehow the synergy of the two makes for the worst kind of precipitation to run in. []
  2. A habit that I picked up from my father, the man with the world’s most incredible work ethic in the history of work ethic. []
  3. I really haven’t been pleased about this given that it’s smack in the middle of the 90 day challenge, but I guess it’s a combination of (a) me trying to be sensible for once and (b) the fact that this virus (I’m assuming it’s a cold that I have) being particularly virulent in the making-me-exhausted department, so I haven’t had the energy to do much else. []

By

At The Airport

How does 2 weeks go by so fast? Seems like I only just got here and now I’m back at the airport waiting for my flight home. On Christmas Day, I said to my sister, “I can’t believe I’m still here for 6 more days!” That feels like 2 minutes ago! But I did see a bunch of family and friends and there was much catching up and laughter and all that good stuff. I haven’t spent Christmas with my family for three years, so I’m really happy I was able to this year!

Looks like it’s almost time to board the plane, so I better pack up. See y’all on the flip side.

By

Ontario Science Centre – A (Very) Brief Review

As previously mentioned, I met up with my friend Sarah and her family at the Ontario Science Centre today. Sarah et al live in Ontario, but are in the GTA to see her in laws and so they came out to meet me today and the OSC seemed like a good place to do that because (a) we are science nerds and (b) they have an almost 5-year-old and a ~3 year old and the OSC has lots of fun things for them to play with and gives them a chance to run around and burn up some energy. They also have a nice baby – 10 weeks old – so it was awesome to get to meet her for the first time.

I remember quite liking the Science Centre, but it’s been awhile since I’ve been there and once inside *nothing* looked even remotely familiar except for the electrified ball that you touch that makes your hair stick out all over. I couldn’t believe how big the place was – we were there for 3 hours and didn’t even get to all the different floors. We all had a really good time and it was great to have a chance to catch up with Sarah and Dave and to see the kids. They have gotten so big since I last saw them – and they are so adorable!

I didn’t take any pictures at the Science Centre because I’m lame, here’s one that someone posted on Flickr. Hooray!

Ontario Science Centre: Plasma Ball

By

On a bus!

Just to mix things up, I’m on a bus instead of a subway today. Off to the Ontario Science Centre to meet up with Sarah and her fam. Because science. I haven’t been to the OSC in a while, but I do remember it being pretty awesome. Because science. I’m sure there will be a blog posting about our science-based adventures in the very near future! Because blogging!

By

On the TTC Again

This time I’m on the wifi-less subway heading to see Dan and Rick for dinner, again writing on my phone to post later when I’m in the land of Internet access. I’m running late and have no way to contact them, what with the ancient subway tubes through which I’m riding.

Oh wait, just caught a little 3G action there and was able to slip a quick communique through. Hope they received it on their telephone machines.

I was on a good roll with this whole 4 blog postings per day (even being one posting ahead coming out of Christmas Day) until yesterday, when the days of visiting began. Most of my time on this trip so far has been around my sister’s place, in part because it was potentially lethal to leave the house given the ice, but yesterday we ventured out to do some visiting – first to one of my aunts’ places where we saw a bunch of family, then to one of my uncles’ places. Tonight is hanging with Dan & Rick, tomorrow is with Sarah and her crew, then Sunday my cousin and her family are coming over. Hooray for visiting!

By

Ice Storm!

So, there’s been an ice storm in the Greater Toronto Area for the past couple of days. My aunt and cousin who live in Ajax, like countless others in the area, have been without heat and power, as heavy ice has brought down trees and powerlines and crushed cars and all sorts of craziness. We’ve been exceptionally lucky at my sister’s house, as we lost power for only ~10 mins (and that happened before I even woke up this morning). We didn’t go out at all yesterday, as the roads and sidewalks were a skating rink. My mom and I went out to the store this afternoon and we saw some big piles of tree branches that were down and traffic lights down the Danforth weren’t operating and there was tonnes of icy patches on the sidewalk, but overall it’s been not too bad. I forgot my phone when we went out so I didn’t get pictures, but I found some pretty cool pics on Flickr (hooray for people using Creative Commons licenses on their photos!

Dangerous – but beautiful!

Toronto Ice Storm 2013

Toronto Ice Storm 2013

Toronto Ice Storm 2013

Toronto Ice Storm 2013

Ice Storm Toronto

ice storm

IMG_4133

Frozen out

Image Credits:

By

Drake 150

Went to Drake 150 for dinner tonight, with my friends Jen and Tanya, who I went to high school with a million years ago. Was so nice to catch up with them – it’s been awhile since I’ve been to Toronto, but they are the kind of friends that no matter how long it’s been since you’ve seen them, you can pick right back up where you left off like you saw them only yesterday.

As for the restaurant, it was pretty good. Tanya and I had burgers and Jen had a pizza that was as big as her.

The burger was outstandingly delicious. A++, would burger again.