Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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This and That

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Well, not “beginning”, so much, as I actually put up my tree at the end of November.

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Kitties checking out the pieces of the Christmas tree before I assemble it.

Christmas Tree

I like the way my windows surrounding the tree reflect the lights. Not shown in the picture, but my big TV also reflects the lights, so it kind of looks like I have a forest of Christmas trees in my living room, all from one tree. So efficient!

But I also added a few extra Christmas decorations to the mix – specifically, I made a wreath (item #83 on my 101 list)1 and I got stockings for the kitties, since the frogs have stockings and I didn’t want Watson & Crick to feel left out.

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Watson checking out all the pieces before I assembled my wreath. He ended up covered in glitter.

My first wreath

My wreath!

Stockings

Stockings! From Left to right: Crick’s, Watson’s, mine, Copernicus the Third’s, Timbit’s, Tyrion Froggister’s, and Raspberry’s stockings.

Speaking of the kitties, for some reason they thought that the tree was delicious, and spent the first week or so that I had it up trying to eat the branches. Watson also decided that most of the ornaments were toys that were to be swatted out of the tree. Happily, he got bored of this after about a week, so my patience at taking ornaments that I found in various locations around my apartment – he liked to carry the ornaments around for a tour of the place before dropping them off in, say, the bathroom – and returning them to their rightful place on the tree eventually won out.

My big goal for 2015

So, I’ve said many times that my goal is to break the 2 hour mark on a half marathon. And then just as many times I’ve half assed my training and not met my goal. So I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t believe me when I said that I’m planning to break the 2 hour mark on the half marathon at BMO Vancouver marathon in May. But this time I’m really, really going stick to it. I’m good at doing the long runs in training so I can go the distance, but this time I’m going to do the hill training and interval training that are required to ramp up my speed to break that elusive 2 hour finish time. I’m emboldened by setting a personal best at the 10 km in November and I’m well past the MBA hangover that still lingered during my training for the 2014 half marathons in April and June.

Groupon-Based Fitness Planning

A long, long time ago I got a Groupon for the West Coast Hot Yoga studio in South Surrey and I loved it. I went virtually every morning before work and I was so alert after starting my day with some deep stretching and core work and so much sweating. Sadly, regular priced hot yoga is too expensive for my blood and, besides, I moved too far away from that South Surrey studio to be practical anyway. Since then, I’ve tried two other yoga studios via Groupon (or one of those other deal sites – I can never remember which one I’ve bought which deal on), both in New West, neither of which I liked. The first one to Bamboo yoga, and I didn’t really love the studio itself (it felt like being in a warehouse) or the instructors, and the second was Bikram New West (which very soon after became Hot Yoga New West) and I hated having to do the exact. same. routine. every. single. time. Plus some of the instructors were really militant, which I understand is intentional with Bikram, but which is totally not my thing. I guess it has been long enough since that experience though, because I’ve gone back to the Groupon well and got a one month of unlimited hot yoga at Oxygen yoga studio in New West. I figured that I could spend a month de-tensifying my muscles and working on core strength and balance and then I’ll be in tip-top shape when I start my half marathon training in January.

Speaking of which, I just bought a Groupon for a half marathon training clinic run by FitFirst in Burnaby, the same place as I did the running study I was in. I really enjoyed the clinics they ran for that study – the group running atmosphere is lots of fun and it basically means that I’ll always have people to do my long runs with. Long runs get very boring when you have to do them by yourself, so despite the fact that this means I won’t get to sleep in on any Sundays (as it runs every Sunday morning) from Jan 18 until BMO race day, I think I’ll be happy on the whole that I signed up for the clinic.

And speaking of good deals…

When I left my old job, one of the things I left behind was unlimited massage therapy in my health benefits plan. Being a hockey player, a runner, and a person who sits hunched over a computer all day at work, I made good use of that particular benefit to deal with my various muscles tightness and such. My new job, while amazing in many ways, has a much more limited amount of massage therapy benefits and since my 2014 limit was all used up2, I’ve needed to seek out a more affordable option to meet my massage therapy needs. Enter: the West Coast College of Massage Therapy. This school, which trains aspiring registered massage therapists, runs a clinic where students get to practice, under supervision of a fully qualified RMT, and where clients can get a therapeutic massage for a fraction of the cost. The cost is $40 for an hour long appointment – though only 40 mins of that is massage, with the rest being taken up by assessment before the massage and teaching you stretches to do at home after the massage – compared to $100 for a 1 hr massage with a fully qualified RMT. And as an added bonus, during December if you donate 4 or mor items to the Food Bank at your visit, your massage only cost $20! Everybody wins!

  1. Where by “made” I mean I bought the green wreath and then attached sparkly things I bought at the craft store to said wreath. Notice the drum at the top – I picked that one because it made me think of The Little Drummer Boy, which was my Dad’s favourite Christmas song. []
  2. Since the benefits plans of my old and new employer, despite being different plans, are somehow linked up in Pacific Blue Cross’ system, so they actually counted the massages I claimed under my old plan in 2014 under my new plan, which meant that my small massage allotment in my new plan was all used before I even started my new job! []

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My calf issues are rearing their ugly head

My calves are yet again displeased with me. Ever since I ran the 8 km race two weekends ago, they have been super duper tight. And I woke up with a charley horse in my calf at about 4:30 this morning1.

After my long run on Saturday, I had a massage. I told my massage therapist about my unhappy calves and she worked them over pretty good. To the point that they’ve been super achy – like the kind of ache you have after a really good workout – for the past two days. And, like the last massage therapist that I had work over my calves, she commented on how ridiculously tight my soleus muscles are. “Your gastrocnemius muscles are fine, but your soleus muscles are TIGHT!”

For the uninitiated, the soleus muscle is this one:

Soleus - Muscles of the Lower Extremity Anatomy Visual Atlas, page 34

Now, the first massage therapist had given me a standing stretch to do that will stretch out the soleus. But this massage therapist told me, “I have a great stretch you can do while sitting at your desk!” Well, you know how I feel about multi-tasking my stretches!

To do the stretch, you just take off your shoes and sit in your chair with your knees bent like normal, but you put your toes up on a book, making sure your heel touches the floor, like this:

Day 322 - Sitting soleus muscle stretch

Soleus muscle stretch

It doesn’t look like much, but it super duper helped my tight calves! Honestly, even after my massage on Saturday, I couldn’t get my toes up on a book that was half the size of the one in the above photo2 and still have my heels on the ground, but after a few ~5 minute rounds of this stretch at the office today I can now, as you see in the photo, do it just fine.

Of course, if all else fails, you can just go for some of this, which I found while searching Flickr for “soleus”:

Soleus Organic Wine

Image Credits:

  • Funky picture of muscles of the lower leg was posted by Rob Swatski on Flickr.
  • Soleus Wine picture was posted by J.P. Hussey on Flickr
  • Photos of the stretch itself are all mine!

 

  1. Do. Not. Like. []
  2. For the record, the one in the above photo is Infinite Jest []

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I Need A New RMT

I have a really good registered massage therapist, but she’s just not that into me.

Massage ... by Ourania2005 ❤on a break-driving lessons.For a while now, I’ve been going to an RMT in Kitsalano that I really quite like. Unfortunately, I can’t get an appointment with her in the evenings or on the weekends.  Apparently, she has “regulars” who book up all her evening and weekend spots.  Every last spot.  This wasn’t a big problem for me when I worked in Vancouver – I could pop over there on my lunch or I could shift my workday an hour earlier and get an afternoon spot. But now that I work waaaaaaaaay out in Surrey, I can’t get back into Vancouver before 5 p.m. – and all the post-5 p.m. spots are perma-filled.  Every last spot.  The only way to get one of those spots is to be on the “on call” list – if  a regular cancels, then you may be graced with a phone call saying “if you can come in this evening, you may have a massage.”  There’s no guarantees of if or when such a phone call maybe received.  This is just not sufficient for my therapeutic massage needs.

Anyone have any recommendations?  Preferrably somewhere in the Kits-ish area and somewhere that charges the going rate of ~$80/hr (which is what my insurance will cover).

Image credit: Posted on Flickr by Ourania2005 ❤on a break-driving lessons