Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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I <3 NYC

Hey, remember that time I said that my sister and I were going to take our mom to New York City for her birthday? Well, that trip was Dec 20-23 and we had a pretty amazing time! Of course, 4 days is really only enough time to scratch the surface of the Big Apple, so while we had an amazing time, we clearly have to go back because there were so many things we didn’t get to do!

We stayed at the Hudson Hotel, which was lovely and had a decor that I would characterize as lots of textures but barely any light.

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Cool texture in our elevator at the Hudson Hotel, NYC

On our first night, we had a bite to eat at the Hudson Common (their beer bar) and then went for a walk, whereupon we stumbled upon a Christmas market! Given the recent attack at the Berlin Christmas market, there was high security at the one we stumbled upon, include police vehicles lining the road in front of it and cops with assault rifles guarding the place.

Drinks at the Hudson Commons:

Drinks at the Hudson Hotel

Fish tacos1:

Fish tacos

Duck fat fries:

Duck fat fries

On day 2 we set out to see a show. We’d been told when we got our tickets to see the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular that we had to arrive an hour in advance of our 11 am show to get through security so we grabbed coffee and a bite to eat on our way and headed to RCMH. We went through the security, which included one person who searched your purse and then another person who searched you with a metal detection wand, and then we got to the guy who scanned your tickets… and it turned out we were there on the wrong day! We actually had our Christmas Spectacular tickets for Dec 22 and for Dec 21 we had tickets to see Wicked at 2 pm2! So we went off for a walk and stumbled upon the Rockefeller Centre Christmas tree. I was less than impressed with the tree itself (though perhaps it looks better at night).

Me and my Mom at the Rockerfeller tree

Me and my sister at the Rockefeller tree

But I was impressed with the people soliciting donations for the Salvation Army3, especially these two guys who were really giving ‘er:

I had wanted to go skating at Rockefeller, but the lineup was too long, so I just took this picture instead:

Rockefeller Skating Rink

I also saw this:

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“Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times”

I felt like I should take a photo of that before it gets taken away, given recent events in US politics.

We stopped in at a pub for lunch:

Lunch in NYC

Then went to see Wicked!

Wicked playbill

Wicked was fantastic! They had the understudy playing Elphaba (a.k.a., The Wicked Witch) and she was incredible! I didn’t know anything about the play other than that it was a re-telling of the Wizard of Oz from the perspective of the Wicked Witch, who maybe isn’t so wicked after all. It had a cool story, fantastic performances, and the costumes and sets were amazing. Here’s what the stage looked liked before the show started (no photos allowed during the show):

Before the start of Wicked in NYC

And here we are waiting for the show to start:

Mom, Nancy, and me at Wicked

That night we went for a pre-dinner drink at Ascent:

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My sister had a Manhattan Mule, I had a Rossini Bellini, and my mom had The Trifecta.

and then the most amazing dinner at Porterhouse, where we started with the burrata (we may have dug right into that so fast we forgot to take a photo:

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My mom had the Porterhouse Porkchop with a glass of Sancerre:

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My sister had the filet mignon with a Malbec:

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and I went for the chili rubbed rib eye, also with a Malbec:

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On Day 3, we went to see the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular! We moved expertly through the security line, having done it all the day before, and got inside with plenty of time to spare4

My sister, my mom, and I at Radio City Music Hall

The show was pretty spectacular. The precision with which those dancers dance is amazing! The music was fun and there were a variety of different acts, including, among other things, a very cool instrumental version of the 12 Days of Christmas where the number of Rockettes dancing represented the number of days of Christmas and We Three Kings with actual camels.

After the show, we walked to the MOMA, but the lineup was so long that we weren’t able to actually go in and had to make do with just checking out the gift shops. I bought myself this lovely necklace:

Necklace I bought at MOMA

On our way, we passed by Trump Tower:

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We were on the opposite side of the street, but anyone who wanted to go right in front of the building had to go through a security screening. And apparently Trump wasn’t even in town – I can’t imagine what it’s like when he’s there.

Next up was dinner at Bar Boulud, including delicious cocktails:

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Salmon for my sister:

Salmon

And my mom and I both had scallops:

Scallops

After dinner my sister had an Elixir au Chocolate, which she declared the best drink she had ever had:

Elixer aux chocolate

And we all shared profiteroles for dessert:

Profiteroles

On our fourth and final day, we decided to walk to the High Line Park, and along the way we saw Times Square:

Times Square

and my mom met her favourite snowman, Olaf:

My Mom and Olaf in NYC

and the New York Times:

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and Madison Square Garden:

Times Square

and the big post office:

Post office NYC

and we may have stopped for a treat at Doughnut Plant:

Doughnut Plant

The High Line Park is a park built on an old elevated train track:

High Line Park

High Line Park

High Line Park

High Line Park

High Line ParkAnd with that it was time to head back to the hotel to grab our bags and head out to the airport!

As you can see, while we saw quite a few things, there is a tonne of stuff that we didn’t see! Clearly, we need to go back!

  1. We also had truffle and parmesan popcorn, which was amazing! []
  2. Thankfully we didn’t have it mixed up the other way around and show up for a 2 pm show to find out we’d missed an 11 am one! []
  3. I was conflicted about liking this, given that the Salvation Army is an anti-LGBT organization and I also hate that song (which I refer to as the “I love you because you have low self-esteem” song), but it was very entertaining how much they were into it. []
  4. In addition to all the security that we’d seen the previous day, on this day we also saw the bomb sniffing dogs walking through the venue. []

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Mom

Today my mom is having a milestone birthday! I’m not going to say which one as the number, according to her “makes me want to throw up”. But as I always reply, “Turning [number redacted] is better than not turning [number redacted]!” Besides, it’s not how old you are, but how old you feel! And my mom is young at heart, enjoying a life of fine wines and world travels!

Here she is in Milan1:

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And in London:

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And here we are in Ireland:

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Who knows where her world travels will take her next?

Happy birthday, Mom! I love you!

  1. Photo shamelessly stolen from my Aunt Eileen’s Flickr account []

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PechaKucha

Last night I went to my first ever PechaKucha event!

PechaKucha is a style of presentation where the speaker has a slide deck of 20 slides that
automatically move along every 20 seconds. People can talk about anything that they are passionate about. It makes for fast-paced, entertaining talks and, since people can talk about anything, exposes you to a wide variety of topics, some of which you might not have thought about before.

Last night’s presenters at PechaKucha New West included a diverse array of topics such as addiction and recovery, music, celebrating menopause, gardening, and online dating. And each of them were so interesting in their own way. It’s hard to describe – you really should go to one of these events if you get a chance (they are held all over the world).

In addition to the great speakers, it was also awesome to just have a chance to mingle with friends and meet some new people. I’m looking forward to the next one on Feb 25!

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Happy Birthday Nancy!

Today is my sister’s birthday.

This excellent photo of me and my sister was the result of us trying to take a selfie that got both of us and the “Snow’s Lane” lane in the background into the same shot on our recent trip to Newfoundland and Labrador. This is the only shot where we managed to do so and neither of us are looking at the camera.

Snow's Lane

Happy birthday, Nancy! Here’s to many more years of fun trips, ambitious projects, excellent photo ops, and general high jinks with my favourite sister!

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One week until the Scotiabank half marathon…

… and this is what my left ankle looks like:

Swollen ankle

🙁

While out for a run yesterday, I stepped on an uneven bit of pavement and went over on my ankle a bit. I felt the tweak at the time it happened, but it didn’t hurt and so I continued on my merry way. And I was actually surprisingly merry given that it was a torrential downpour that I was running in! When I got home, I was so wet that I looked like I’d jumped in the river! My socks contained 57 ml of water1! Later in the day, I could definitely feel that I’d done something to my ankle, but it looked fine. I’ve kept off my feet as much as possible yesterday and today, but this afternoon I looked at it and saw it was quite swollen. I’m sitting with some ice on it right now and that seems to be helping.

This just seems to be par for the course for my training this year, which has gone something like this:

  • went running on Jan 9, then got a really bad cold that kept me from running
  • went running 3 times in a week (so think I’m really getting my training going) in mid-Feb, then got food poisoning and then before I got back to running, I got zombie eyeball disease

In March, I finally got back into running regularly, but it’s just been… hard. I usually have most of my runs where I feel great, whereas this year I feel like I’ve had at least a run every two weeks that’s been tough. My zone 1 pace (which is where I am supposed to do most of my training – keeping my average heart rate at ~148) has been much slower than I’d like and though it’s improved a bit, it’s not improved as much as I would have liked. Halfway through last week’s 19 km run, my IT band started killing me (though foam rolling this week seems to have helped). And now it’s a week before the race and I have an injured ankle. I was really hoping to do some good little race prep runs this week, but now I think I’ll hold off until my ankle feels better… or until race day comes – whatever comes first.

OK, I think it’s time to switch to a heat pack on my ankle.

Also – don’t forget that there’s still time to sponsor my run with a donation to my fundraiser for the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Organization!

  1. My socks were soooo wet that I just had to weigh them and then I weighed an identical pair that I have that were dry – the difference was 57 g, which means there was 57 ml of water in my socks! []

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One Week Today….

… I’ll be co-presenting a workshop in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador with my sister! I am very excited about this for a number of reasons, including (but not limited to) and in no particular order:

  • the content we are presenting on is very cool and I’m excited to share it with colleagues
  • the conference that we are presenting at is a good one – I always learn a lot, meet great people, and have a lot of fun
  • I get to hang out with my sister
  • Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province I’ve never been to, so when I go there I will have collected the entire set of provinces in my travel history

The one thing I’m not excited about is the weather forecast. St. John’s is going to be cold while we are there:

St. John's forecast

And in the meantime, I’ll be missing out on summer weather in Vancouver:

Vancouver forecast

I’ll have to make sure to pack some warm sweaters and my coat!

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My Friends and I Ran A Marathon Yesterday

Yesterday was the 45th running of the Vancouver marathon and I ran in it!

Other statements that are true include:

  • My friends and I ran a marathon yesterday
  • I ran across the finish line of the Vancouver marathon yesterday.

I did not, however, run the entire 42.2 km. Instead, I took part in the marathon relay with my friends Julie, Jen, and Pam. The way the relay works is that you have 4 runners on your team – Runner A starts at the starting line with all the full marathoners, but at the 12 km mark there is a relay exchange point at which Runner A hands off a belt, which contains your team’s timing chip, to Runner B, who runs the next 12 km, and then hands the belt with the timing chip to Runner C, who runs 5 km and then hands the belt off to Runner D, who then runs the remaining 13 km of the race. There are timing points at each relay exchange area, so the time of each leg, as well as the time of the entire duration of the race, is recorded. Honestly, I think this may be the only way I’ll ever participate in a full marathon – the way where you don’t actually have to run the full 42.2 km!

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Our team was named the Tenacious Tempos! Props to Julie for coming up with the name!

I was Runner D – also known as the anchor. The downside of being the anchor is that you do a lot of waiting – there are shuttle buses that take the relay runners from the start area to their exchange points, but the buses got us to our exchange point at 9:15 am and by my team’s estimates, I wasn’t expecting to start until 12 pm! Also, the area where the shuttle buses dropped us off, which is also where the portapotties were located, was about eleventy billion kilometres from the actual exchange point and while many runners went over to the exchange and then had to walk all the way back to go pee before they actually ran, a small group of us decided that we had no interest in doing all that extra walking, so we hung out by the buses (where there were benches and stuff to sit on) until it was time for a pre-race pee and then we headed over to the exchange.

Happily, it was a nice sunny day and I was prepared with sunscreen and a book to read. I also spent some time chatting with my fellow anchors from the other teams and Andrew dropped by to say “hi” to me as well.

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Me, waiting for Julie (Runner C) at the exchange point. I have no idea why my hair is this terrible *before* I even started running!

The plus side of being the anchor is that you get to run over the finish line! I tend to find finish lines very motivating and usually can find some energy to put on a good kick at the end – even if I feel like I’m just barely hanging on up until the finish line is in sight, once I see it, I find a previously unavailable store of energy for a sprint to the finish! But I’m getting ahead of myself!

The route that I got to run was a lovely one – we went over the Burrard St bridge, then along Pacific, which turns into Beach, which then takes you into Stanley Park, and then we went all around the Seawall, and then along Georgia and up to Pender to the finish line. It was flat and scenic, which is just how I like my race routes to be! It was also very hot – especially since I didn’t start running until about noon! I spent a significant portion of the race  wiping the fog from my sunglasses, because I was so hot and sweaty!

As for the running itself, I was pleased with my run. As you know, I’ve only really been training for about a month due to having all the sicknesses in the early part of this year, so my fitness level is way below what it was last year. I’ve been running my zone 1 runs at about a 7:30 min/km pace and my recent blood lactate assessment1 shows all my zones to be considerably slow compared to this time last year (which is not surprising, given that this time last year I’d spent ~4 months training for the BMO half marathon). But I decided that my relay run would be a good chance to see how well I could do in a zone 2 run (as most of my training focuses on zone 1, which helps to raise my aerobic threshold, but is not the zone that you want to run a 13 km or a 21.1 km race in), and I was pleasantly surprised with what I could do! I managed to run the 13.2 km at an average pace of 6:27 mins/km – and I felt strong! The last 3 km I definitely had to work to keep up that pace – my body was tiring and wanted to slow down, but I dug deep and focused on maintaining the pace. It’s funny, because as I was running I was thinking “Wow, I can’t believe how fast I’m running this! This is awesome!”, but afterwards I realized that last year I’d run 8 km more at an average pace of 5:45 km/km! But it’s all relative and given my start to this year, I was happy with my performance. The official race results clocked my leg of the race at 1:29:51, but that includes the exchange (which necessitated a hug with Runner C before I took off on my leg) – my runner watch indicates that my actual running time was 1:26:55.

After the race, the Tenacious Tempos went for a lovely brunch – which really is the main reason that we do these races. Well, the brunch and the medal!

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The Tenacious Tempos showing off their race bling!

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My race bib has taken it’s place on my board along with its fellow race bibs. Also, this is probably the coolest race number I’ve ever had: 9900!

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A new medal for my collection. Medal #2 for 2016!

  1. A new blog posting coming on that soon! []

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Running for the Kitties

So now that spring has sprung in Vancouver and all of the various pathogens with which I’ve been infected appear to have left the building, I’ve gotten back into the swing of things running-wise. I’m really, really slow from having taken so much time off from running1, but I’m confident that if I keep getting out there, the speed will eventually return.

I met up with my BMO Marathon Relay teammates for brunch on Saturday to discuss logistics, and I’m really looking forward to that event, which a mere 20 days from now! Fortunately, I’m training for the Scotiabank Half Marathon and the 13 km I will need to run for my leg of the relay is in line with my training plan2.

And speaking of the Scotiabank Half Marathon, I’ve signed up to run as part of Team VOKRA, which is raising money for the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Organization (VOKRA), which I’m sure you will remember is where I got my kitties from. They do good work in rescuing kitties and finding them safe and loving homes, so I’m happy to help support their work. While VOKRA is run by volunteers, there are lots of costs that need to be covered when it comes to rescuing, caring for, and eventually placing homeless cats in their forever homes such as:

  • prenatal, natal, and bottle feeding program
  • trap/spay or neuter/return program
  • supplying all foster homes with food and supplies
  • medical emergencies/medications

The team has a goal of raising $10,000 through our Scotiabank Half Marathon fundraising, so please consider donating on my fundraising page:

Watson in a bow tieWatson & Crick say “Please Sir or Madam, won’t you donate to help the kitties?”

  1. Not to mention the [redacted number] lbs that I gained over the winter thanks to taking so much time off from running and also Drink-cember. []
  2. I’m scheduled to run 13 km the week before BMO, as it so happens. The weekend of BMO is supposed to be a “rest” week where I go back to 8 km, but I figure two 13 km long runs in a row will be fine. []

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Blazing Blades – 2016 Champions!

Sunday marked the triumphant return of my Coquitlam hockey team, the Blazing Blades, to the status of Div 1 champions! You may recall that it 2014 we won the coveted trophy. Last year we did not, but this year we had our strongest season ever, going 21-3-1 in the regular season. We went 2-1 in the first round of the playoffs, which was a round robin, which was good enough to get us to the finals to face the Ringers, the only team who had beat us in round 1.

Lining up for a face off during the championship game

A photo from the game of us lining up for a face off in our end. I’m the one on the right of the photo – you can tell it’s me because (a) I’m shorter than everyone else and (b) my signature braids.

When all was said and done, the final score was 3-0 for us, and so the trophy is back in our hands!

Blazing Blades 2016 Div 1 Champs

The Blazing Blades – the Women’s League Div 1 Champions for 2015-16!

Isn’t the trophy pretty? And just like the Stanley Cup, players get to take the cup home for a week. I can’t wait to get my week – I’m going to take it in to work to show it off!

Blazing Blades championship celebration 2016

The cup

Of course, no victory celebrate would be complete without a drink from the trophy!

Blazing Blades championship celebration 2016

All in all, it was a great season – I’m really lucky to get to play with such a fun and talented group of women!

Tig Beth Ellen

On the left is game MVP, Tig (she scored 2 of our 3 goals, including the game winner) and on the right is team captain & coach, Ellen.

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Happy Bonus Day!

Leap Day 2012Today is February 29th – you don’t get to say that very often, now do you? This year is going way too fast – as years seem to do – so I’m happy to have an extra day. And, since I’m 39, I’m especially glad that this year is a leap year, as it means I get an extra day to be a thirty-something! I also get an extra day to use my February transit pass (note to self: buy March transit pass.), which is nice because it’s annoying that the price of a February transit pass is the same as every other month despite it usually being 2 or 3 days shorter than the other months!

Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t wish my cousin-once-removed, Samantha, a happy 6th birthday, despite the fact that she was born 24 years ago. I have a lot of cousins (14) and cousins-once-removed (10), and even cousins-twice-removed (4)1, so it’s hard to remember all those birthdays, but Sam’s is one I never forget ((I also remember by my cousin Kimberly’s birthday because she was born the day right after Samantha – I remember in early 1992 wondering if I was going to have two leap day babies in my family!)).

Image Credit: Posted by Dan Moyle on Flickr with a Creative Commons license.

  1. Actually, now that I think of it, I have more cousins-once-removed and twice-removed, as these numbers only count those who are in the generations after me, but I also have cousins who are removed by a generation or two ahead of me, though I honestly have no idea how many people that would be! []