Change #70: The London Fog Experience

When I was 18 years old, I moved to Ottawa to attend University. For me, the city of Ottawa was a big scary world; I was new to the city leaving behind my family and friends, racking up debt in order to pursue an education in the hopes it would provide me with some sort of amazing career. (At the time, I had no idea what career I really wanted. Well, that’s not quite true – I did, even back then. But, I decided to work towards something that would say I was serious about life, and began a slow trek towards Law School. A slow trek, where I got stuck.) Only later in life, did I start the quest to do the thing, writing, that I really wanted to do.

Nonetheless, I lived in residence at University and I learned how to take the bus – and only one bus – the #7 that would carry me from University to the heart of Ottawa. The downtown core of Ottawa became my beacon of light; the lighthouse that overlooked black water and navigated me home.  It was the place where I found time to relax, breathe, and enjoy life – while taking in all the things the downtown area offered such as shopping, eating, or going to museums such as the National Art Gallery.

To this day, this is what the core of Ottawa  with it’s malls and smaller shops, the ByWard Market, the Rideau Center, and the National Art Gallery means to me. It is a place to recharge, to breathe and to take in all that life has to offer.

Today was the day, I would go downtown after work, go shopping for green clothes (St. Patty’s Day is just around the corner!), maybe pay extra and workout at one of the downtown gyms, and top it off with a trip to Starbucks for some sort of different drink. I would go, and make time for me!

By the end of the day though, something had happened. I felt a baby cough that plagued me all day that was a small annoyance. As a person that suffers 6 months of the year from various allergies, I assumed that was the reason for my discomfort. But by the time 4 PM arrived, the sniffles had joined the party.  I was on the edge of a cold I was certain, and as I dragged my tremendously heavy grey hiking shoes across the parking lot at the end of the workday, I began to reconsider my decision to do any of the things that I planned at the start of the day.

The question I asked myself was: how angry are you going to be tomorrow, if you don’t go downtown tonight?  The answer I knew was: ROYALLY.  

I decided against the quest for the green ensemble tonight. I have a full week till St.Patty’s Day, after all. But I felt the pressure of trying something different mounting as my sabbatical continued longer than anticipated after my vegan change.

This was the challenge: try the Blonde Espresso at Starbucks. As I contemplated whether I was indeed getting a cold or not, I balked at the Espresso drink. If I needed to take drugs in order to combat the cold and get some sleep before tomorrow’s workday, I didn’t want to send my body into convulsions with a caffeinated beverage followed swiftly by a cold depressant (most likely) that would force me to sleep.

Besides The London Fog has been under consideration since October of last year when I first saw it. Tonight, I decided was the night.

As I strolled up to the barista standing at the counter, my eyes danced on the menu board in search of the drink. But the drink was not listed. Was I too late? Would it be one of those drinks that only arrives in the fall, and it is forbidden from being consumed until the season is upon us again?

I braced myself in preparation for disappointment as the barista asked if she could help me. I decided I would be brave and in spite of the missing item on the menu, I asked with already a hint of disappointment in my voice, “Do you happen to have the London Fog?”

“We do.” She answered as she reached for a tall cup.

I was happy to be able to try it, but I was certain there was coffee in the London Fog and still fearing the mixture of caffeine/cold depressants I sniffled and said, “Is it possible to have a short?” (Yeah, it’s the baby, baby size.)

She said it was. As I struggled to get my Starbucks App to load I sniffled and babbled that I didn’t know what was in it. The staff always helpful, answered my question that I didn’t directly ask and said, “It’s earl grey tea,  vanilla, and milk.”

I looked up in shock. I WAS AFRAID OF NOTHING. 

I settled into my small round table with a view of people running and walking along Metcalfe Street. In the background of my favorite coffee shop, gentle music played at the perfect decibel. As my lips went over the smooth, soft, creamy foam my London Fog felt like a dessert on my perfect tea.  It was the perfect way to end a long week. Cold be damned.

The only problem? As my London Fog was cooler in temperature, I drank it in about 5 minutes flat. So much for savouring something delicious.

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Epilogue 

The cold?

It seems to have disappeared.

Dare I say it?

Dare I write it?

So far in the last year, I have been cold and flu free. It must be all the black tea I drink.

I may have just tempted fate with that last written part.

Change #69: Eat Like a Vegan

I always expect a particular challenge not to be so difficult. As it turns out the ones that seem the easiest, are typically the most difficult. After 69 challenges done, you would think I would have learned this by now.

How many times do they say you need to repeat something before it sticks?  Maybe my number is 200. (That would translate to close to the last day of this blog.)

As of the moment I woke up this morning, my brain has been in overdrive questioning each piece of food that I shove in my mouth. The reason for this is simple: I had come up with an idea to make one of my challenges to eat only vegan foods (that means no animal or animal by-products) last week. When I started reviewing the foods I typically eat, I was astounded to find out most of them contained milk or eggs, and thereby, were forbidden.

Here are a few lists to simplify things:

Foods/Drinks That I Eat (Typically) In A Day:

  1. Orange juice
  2. Oatmeal with raisins (Other options: Cereal with milk and fruit, or egg and cheese sandwich)
  3. Chocolate covered granola bar
  4. Butter Croissant
  5. Bananas
  6. Yogurt
  7. Kashi Bars (2 of them!)
  8. Some other fruit (apple, pears, grapes, clementines….I love my fruit…)
  9. Cheese sandwich or veggie samosa
  10. Kit Kat Chocolate Bar (Afternoon pick me up!)
  11. Cheese, crackers and wine for dinner…or maybe something else….(But most of the time – that’s how my day ends.)

Forbidden Foods While Going Vegan:

  1. Cheese (It’s like taking away fruit and veggies from me. Are you kidding?)
  2. Butter (On my bread, in my desserts, in almost everything.) *Tangent – Here’s a story:  My father and I, before his death, would have huge fights about whether good old butter was healthier; or if margarine, that was made of a bunch of ingredients that no one can pronounce, was healthier. We boxed together regularly: me donning my margarine gloves, him with butter paws.  After he passed, the movie ***Julie/Julia came out and I noted that Julia Child lived to be 91. With her long life of eating butter, I suddenly understood what my Dad was saying. What a way to knock me out of the ring. One last sucker punch in the chops by Daddy, who made me eat my words. Or in this case, eat my butter.
  3. Eggs (It goes into cakes, and general pastries of all sorts. And that egg cheese sandwich for breakfast? It is definitely out of bounds.)
  4. My instant oatmeal contains traces of milk. (Even the healthy stuff is off the list.)
  5. Kashi Bars (Contains milk)
  6. Yogurt (No animal, or animal by-products. Definitely a no-no.)
  7. Kit Kat bar (Milk)
  8. No cheese for dinner. (Crackers and wine are ok!)

What I Eat Today: 

  1. OJ
  2. P & J Toast (Bavarian Rye does not have milk or egg! Also had to call the hubby at around 8:30 AM because I thought my jam might have pectin in it, and it occurred to me while commuting to work, this might be derived from critters. If I was going to fail at this challenge, I wanted to know as soon as possible so I could get back to  my poor eating habits. However, the label stated “fruit pectin”. Already hungry, I continued with the challenge.)
  3. 3 Coconut Date Rolls (Ingredients list: coconut and dates. That’s it, that’s all.)
  4. 2 bananas (To replace my 2 Kashi bars)
  5. Clementines
  6. Red peppers, carrots and tomatoes with SUPER spicy hummus! (Lunch)
  7. NUTS!!! (And a whole lot of them! I was starving at 10:30 AM!!!)
  8. Granola Cookie (Thank you Bridgehead. You were the only one that had a Vegan Dessert for me that I got to hunt out and savour at the end of the work day.)
  9. Wine
  10. Bread and Hummus (Around 7 PM I eat this. Why? BECAUSE I WAS STARVING!!!!)

 

What did I learn from this experience?

Mostly, that I’m hungry.

Ok. Not just that.

I do feel lighter, more alert (probably out of hunger) and I don’t need to eat as much cheese as I typically do. There are other foods that I can have that will leave me fairly satisfied.

Also, for those dedicated people who are Vegans: I salute you for your dedication to a lifestyle that is very difficult to meet. At least, for me.

TOMORROW: BACK TO CHEESE!

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Footnote:

***Googled the Movie Julie/Julia because I was pretty certain it came out a short time after my father passed away. I was right. My father died in February 2009, and the movie was released in July 2009.

Yeah, one last moment where Dad got to say, I told you so.

Change #68: -27 Degrees Celsius: Back In The Cold For Red Bull Crashed Ice

Because I had warmed up sufficiently after my 10 KM run in the morning, I decided it would be a good idea to head back into the cold for an evening event.

No.

Absolutely not.

I was freezing for the rest of the day after my 10 KM run. But the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championships came to Ottawa for only a couple of days. I didn’t want to miss it.

Last last night was the last night. It was neither warm nor convenient – but time was limited for this event that lit the downtown core up of Ottawa with an array of red/white lights and then switched later on to blue/white lights. Music pulsed through the city streets, where politicians walk on weekdays.

The crowd was a mixture of everyone. Our downtown core is dominated by civil servants and politicians on weekdays. But that night, I’m sure there were people that held different occupations: bakers, janitors, civil servants, high-tech workers, retail workers – all positions, all people – were included.  There were no differences between us as we braved the cold to see and celebrate this event.

And the four of us were there: Dan, Sheila, hubby and me. The four amigos.

But let’s back up a bit. My friend Sheila had suggested this event to me last weekend when the temperature wasn’t nearly as cold. At the time it seemed like a good idea – probably because it was warmer. I did not think through of what a marathon day it might be – but said excitedly to her, that I would check with hubby to see if he wanted to attend.

As it turned out, my husband heard of the event already, and was going to suggest it to me. So, he was already on board with the plan. I texted Sheila on Sunday and said we were game for it. Immediately, she texted me back with a link that outlined the schedule. I promised I would take a look at it and get back to her the next day.

Alas, last week was a series of hiccups. Sheila and Dan’s dogs (they have 2) disappeared on Monday night.  They were found a couple of hours later safely. The search party assembled that consisted of friends and neighbours to locate the two delinquent canine drifters were delighted with the happy outcome. (My hubby and I were two of a much larger group.) The pups back in their parents possession, some of us stayed and had a quick celebratory drink to savour the moment of the happy reunification of the family.

Tuesday night was the last scramble to complete The Beautiful and Damned. (Why, oh why, do I always wait to the last minute to get stuff done?) 

Wednesday morning I drove to work, arrived early, and browsed in my car on my phone obsessively checking my graphs.  When I went to leave my car, it gave the dreaded ding! ding! ding! that indicated the idiot (that’s me) left her lights on (again). In a panic, I turned the lights off and then attempted to start my car. Nothing. I tried again a few seconds later – there was a little blip of something – but mostly, there was nothing. I bowed my head and thought, great I have a dead battery – AGAIN!  

I texted my husband and informed him. He planned to come out at the end of the day, we would have dinner, and he would help me start my car with the portable battery booster that I now carry, thanks to the dead battery mishap that I had a few months earlier.  (Yeah, it’s happened a couple of times.) After dinner, I thought I would try the car before we used the booster. Magically, my car purred to life.

Thursday night I was jut plain tired. So tired,that I forgot how to zip my gigantic ultra-warm purple coat that I use when I walk Hershey.

I’m not kidding. In the morning, before the sun had risen, I struggled with the zipper for some time, accepted defeat, and opted instead to wear my smaller, less warm coat. (Thank goodness the cold snap had not gripped Ottawa yet.)

When I arrived home in the evening (I had told my husband that the zipper was broken on my super warm purple coat in the morning) he informed me that he tried both zippers on both coats (they are the same colour) and the zippers both worked.

I was so tired, I couldn’t zip a zipper.

Friday – was like HURRAH! I made it to the end of this week! Whew! I need a drink!

Friday night just before bedtime, I went to text Sheila reminding her I was not available for our scheduled morning walk with our dogs because I was scheduled for the Hypothermic 10 KM. When to my horror, the link she sent on Sunday night providing the details to the Red Bull Crashed Ice event popped up. It was the last thing that she shared with me. I never replied. The link stared back at me with accusing words that said, yeah, this is your fault! 

I texted her frantically with a thousand apologies that night. Post-run on Saturday, we sent a flurry of texts back and forth working out the details of who would drive, when we would meet, where we would park, and what kind of food we wanted before we went to see the event.

We went downtown, parked in the City of Ottawa parking garage, and settled on pasta for dinner. We braced against the cold, bundling up with scarves, hats and gloves as we quick-marched down Elgin Street to Johnny Farina’s restaurant. When we arrived, it was just starting to get busy with people donning enormous fluffy fake fur-lined boots with Parkas that hung on the back of their chairs.

Yeah, they were all going to the Red Bull Crashed Ice event too. Weather be damned.  

We ordered our meal, had a drink, eat a little bread. Our meal appeared a little time later as the waitstaff worked tirelessly to manage the people seated and ordering, bringing the food out, and managing the throngs of people that now, gathered at the front door waiting for a table.

Our meals appeared and everything looked fantastic with my Penne Johnny Farina steaming hot with vegetables, chicken, penne that were mixed together and topped with fresh parmesan cheese. My forkfuls were loaded with the mixture and it danced on my taste buds as it deliciously moved it’s way down to my tummy.

Then something terrible happened. I had heaved in possibly more than I should of (I was honestly a little bit full before this happened, but refused to stop) and then suddenly I found myself  incredibly nauseous. In an instant.  My mouth was still full with the chicken/penne/vegetable combo and I was stuck mid-chew. I honestly thought I was going to be sick right there. Right then. And I sat directly across from Sheila.

I chewed slowly and probably had the same look a child does before they throw-up their food. I managed to finish the mouthful that I had and Dan looked at me, not even a second later, and asked, “Are you full?”

I didn’t want to ruin anyone’s night but I had to be honest. If I was going to embarrass them, I should at least give them ample warning of a major catastrophe. I came clean and said, “I suddenly didn’t feel well.” As I pushed my half-full plate a little further away.

My husband turned to me with concern traced through his face and said, “It’s probably just because your tired, and you had wine first, with no food.”

I nodded agreement at him. After that I stopped eating. Apparently, that’s what it takes.

Did we go to the Red Bull Crashed Ice event?  

You bet.

We were four of the larger group of Ottawa people that rallied against the arctic temperatures that night. We made our way down Elgin Street, passing the war monument, past the Chateau Laurier that directly across from it stands the Old Train Station that is currently being renovated, on our way to Major Hill Park. I packed my mammoth ski gloves that kept my fingers warm. Once on Major Hill Park, there was music and so much light it lit up the downtown area. It was by far the most gleaming, party atmosphere that I have ever seen in the Nation’s Capital in my last 24 years that I have lived in this city.

We jostled at the fence to try to catch a view of the skaters. We snaked our way down the fence taking up various viewpoints along the way. At one point, we managed to see just a snippet of the race that contained a jump.

But we never made it to the very front. Hubby, Sheila and I abandoned Dan at one point and started making our way back to the car. The three of us opted to cross at Rideau Center so that we could have a few minutes to warm up in the mall, before going back in the cold to make our way back to the City of Ottawa parking garage.

True friend that Sheila is, she took the knapsack that I was carrying and carried it for a good hour when we were on Major Hill Park, through Rideau Center, and back to the parking garage. It was probably because of quiet concern for my well-being at the near-Penne-disaster at the restaurant.

Dan on the other hand, who was dressed in the least amount of winter gear, stayed out and made it to Wellington Street. He is apparently made of tougher stuff, than wimpy me. (Honestly, I think Sheila and hubby only left Dan because they were worried about me as I continued to look green for the rest of the night.)

From his viewpoint on Wellington Street, Dan managed to get some amazing pictures.  We reconnected as a group within an hour at the parking garage and made our way home.

Was it worth it?

A one time event, that has never happened before in the Nation’s Capital, with two of my closest and  kindest friends, and my hubby?

Of course.

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Don’t knock the photos. We took these with our cell phones.

For better photos: Please See Dan

 

Change #67: The Hypothermic Run: When Things Go Bad

I didn’t train. This you know.

But the point of training is more than just conditioning your body. It also helps you to become familiar with what you should eat before, during and after run; what you should wear; how fast you should go; and what things you need/don’t need to bring with you. The point is to condition your mind, and yourself, so that you know what you need to do on race day.

For this reason, there are numerous things that you should not do: don’t eat weird stuff before the event,  don’t try to run faster, and don’t buy new running gear when the first time you will “break it in” is on race day. There are lots of rules in running. I tend to break some of them.

For this event, it became a situation of, rules, what rules?

When the temperature suddenly dipped to -20 degrees Celsius my hubby, keen to protect me from my own lunacy, insisted we buy me some thicker gloves. My hands have mammoth cuts on them due to the cold that cracks my delicate skin. My hands will spontaneously bleed at inconvenient and random times throughout the day, normally when I am required to zip or unzip zippers, or simply if I knock my hand against something. Think of the Grand Canyon of cuts on skin. That’s my hands. This means I’m trailing blood behind me wherever I go. No amount of hand cream is enough. And yes, I’ve tried it all.

Nonetheless, when he said  “new gloves” that would be thicker and warmer, it sounded like a good idea. So we purchased gloves last night. I proceeded to cut the tags off this morning, and threw them in my backpack with all the stuff that I needed for the run.

And it was a lot of stuff.  When I reviewed the website last night, I noticed there was no indication of gatorade/water stations along the route. I checked with a friend that was running the 1/2 Marathon (he will be forever my hero) and enquired if he knew if there was any water stations. He is well connected with the running community and I thought maybe a friend of his might know that ran the race in the past. (I am a solo runner, all the time and for that reason, I am not connected.) He said it was a good question, but he didn’t know. I proceeded to plan to bring some gatorade/water solution. Sure, I had run 7 KM two nights ago without an ounce of liquid, but that was 7 KM. I need to drink something. With my water bottle, I would need my running belt.

Here’s the list of stuff I had to bring.  (Keep in mind that I already had a running shirt on, a vest, and a sweater, my tights and wind pants, my thick running socks, and my shoes. Oh, and of course, undergarments. They need not be mentioned here.)

  1. Running belt (that contained my Cliff bar, and tissues just in case I needed to visit  the “outdoor ladies room”)
  2. Sunglasses (Originally, I thought I wouldn’t bring them as it was one more thing to handle, but then at the last minute, I changed my mind)
  3. Cliff bar (I had to run to the grocery store at 7 AM this morning because all of my Cliff bars were past the expiration date. Not cool. How can I be so unprepared?)
  4. Hat
  5. Scarf
  6. Enormous Ski Gloves
  7. MP3  Player
  8. Headphones for MP3 Player
  9. Sports Watch (It keeps me, kind of, on track for running)
  10. My ID band (In case I collapsed at the 3 KM mark. Or, I got plucked off by cayotes because they noticed the lone, small, weak straggler that was left behind by the rest of the group. I would be an easy meal.)

I arrived at the Marshes Golf Club where the event would take place, and immediately lined up for the bathroom. If I could avoid using the outdoor bathroom that was provided, I would. And that’s when it began.

I started to overheat and took off my gloves, pulled off my scarf, and gathered my mitts while my MP3 player and headphones dangled in front of me. I stuck all of it between my knees, as I struggled to get my race bib on one safety pin at a time.

Once I got in the bathroom the real challenge began. I had all this stuff with me, and no where to put it. I ended up hooking my belt and hat on the hook behind the bathroom door, and shoved the scarf inside the hat, hoping it wouldn’t fall while I was “busy”. My gloves were a different matter. I had no where to put them. I opted to put them as close to the door and away from the toilet as I could, and reminded myself not to touch face with them on the run.

Once I was finished and washed my hands, I wandered out to the main hall and waited for an announcement. And within a few minutes, I felt like I needed to use the ladies room again. I lined up again, and did the shuffle one more time with all my equipment.

When I came back out I noticed there was noticeably less people. I asked a woman, “Have they called the 10 KM group yet?”

She said they hadn’t, that we would be next. The other two groups (1/2 Marathoners and 5 KM runners had both left.) We made our way downstairs and waited inside until the last minute, chatting about the insanity of this run. I confessed that I had barely trained, and she said the same. She also admitted (and I heard several other people say the same thing as well) that she thought about not doing it because of the temperature. (The temperature on this glorious day in Ottawa, was -27 degrees Celsius with the windchill). I mentioned that I am doing it as part of this blog, and we both laughed when I said it’s called, Pushing Boundaries.

Once outside I tried to do a pre-run, but it was so cold. Finally, there was an announcement and before I knew it, we were off. Except, somehow I was still fussing with my watch trying to get the timer going. Then the real challenge started when I tried to find Ed Sheeran on my MP3 player. It was Adele, who I love, but right now I’m in an Ed stage of my life. My enormous gloves made it almost impossible to move through my playlist and so I removed them. The wind was icy cold and within a few seconds it became a real struggle to manipulate anything with my fingertips. My running belt, at the same time as I struggled to locate the songs I wanted to hear, decided that it was going to start migrating down to my shoes.

Imagine this – you see this runner who is to be running a race and her running belt keeps sliding down, she struggles to tighten it up,  her MP3 player slips out of her hands so now the headphones are still in her ears but there’s a long chord in front of her where the MP3 player dangles. She has enormous gloves, that she can barely get on and off, and she keeps pulling over to the side as she squints at the screen mumbling curses under her breath. She then decides to begin her run again, but the belt has started to slip again, as it nearly makes it past her hips.

I was an accident waiting to happen. The first 3 KM there was an icy cold wind that numbed my toes. I questioned myself, did I wear the wrong socks? I will lose a few toes. I may have to drop out. OMG, when I said I needed to run a long enough distance where there was a chance I could lose a limb or two – I was kidding!!!! 

But once I turned (oh, because we did 2.5 KM on the way out, ran back to the Clubhouse and then did the same loop again. I had no idea. Did not look at map.) I got warm really quickly. Because now the wind was not in my face. I started stripping down removing my hat, gloves and scarf. Sure it was still cold in parts with a turn here or there: but not like on the way out. When I arrived back at the start line and turned the corner to start the second loop, I began reassembling. The gloves, hat and scarf were back on as the wind whipped at my face. For some reason, it was bitterly cold, but not nearly as bad as on the way out.

Now at the 6 KM mark something happened. I pulled my gloves off, most likely to fuss with my MP3 player, (I did manage at some point to get Ed playing) and then I COULD NOT GET THEM BACK ON.

My hands weren’t terribly cold, but all I thought was, this can’t be happening?  I struggled for some time, pulling and yanking at the glove but to my horror –  IT WOULD NOT GO BACK ON.

And then it occurred to me. In the summer, with high temperatures, my hands swell. It was the only logical explanation, as Mr. Spock would say.  The last 4 KM of the race, I pulled my running jacket down and ran the course sans gloves. On the upside, I now had the dexterity to shift back and forth with both volume and songs on my MP3 player.

About 8 KM in I started to do that thing I do, where I slow down and take LOTS of walk breaks. I don’t know why. I always find it impossible to finish the last KM running the whole way.  (Maybe I can make that a pushing boundary?) Instead, I’m more like a sputtering car rolling slowly into the gas station on fumes.

When I turned the corner of the pylons, I was done. There was no cheering crowds, no voices saying you’re done. Just me standing there scrolling through my watch looking at the distance, wondering, 9:95 K? All I thought was, well, that’s annoying, I was going to post a picture of my watch and time on the blog. People are going to think I quit the last 50 meters.

So, I turned my watch back on and started to climb the hill. Then I saw a woman with a medal. And my mind shouted, HEY! WHERE’S MY MEDAL!

Then I looked up. And I saw it. There were steel poles with a covering that showed the finish line. Small children shouted, “Run! Run!”

I ran the best I could and mumbled to the people handing out the medals, I thought the pylons were the end.  They gave me my medal and I began to walk away and I looked down at it, proud of my accomplishment. I normally wouldn’t think 10 KM was a big deal, but today it absolutely was. I was elated.

Then, confusion set in again. It said Half Marathon. I went back to the volunteers and said they gave me the wrong medal. There answer was that everyone gets the same one.

I do not relish the idea of pretending I did more than I did. I’ve run half marathons. They are difficult. To run in the conditions we had this morning, they definitely earned the title. Only take what is truly yours.

But then it dawned on me. It was a very small group that signed up and completed these crazy races: 5 KM Run, 10 KM Run, and 1/2 Marathon. The event was to support the Ottawa Hospital Foundation, and they most likely received a volume discount in order to provide the medals to all finishers. If they had to create medals for such smalls groups, it would most likely eat into money that was to go to the hospital, that we runners paid through registration fees.For this reason, I was ok with it. I prefer charities to maximize dollars in order for a larger portion of my registration fee to go to a charity.

Was this a pushing boundary?

I could have NOT signed up. I definitely could have opted NOT to run, given my utter lack of completing any form of training. When the temperature plummeted two days ago, I could have declared it a holiday, forfeiting my run for a leisurely breakfast in it’s place.

But I didn’t.

“Never, never, never give up” ~ Winston Churchill

 

 

 

Weather Cooperates: Hypothermic 10 KM Run Tomorrow

The title is correct. Weather is cooperating. Cooperating in the context that it will be -21 degrees Celsius overnight,  and with a race start time tomorrow of 7:30 AM – 8:00 AM, it most likely guarantees the temperature could be -25 degree Celsius with the windchill. (If there is wind. I don’t know. I’m not looking at the weather forecast that closely.)

Welcome to Ottawa, ON in March. You never know what you’ll get. It can be a balmy 12 degrees Celsius one day, where it’s get the flip-flops and shorts out, and I want to sit on my back deck with a strawberry daiquiri and watch the snow melt on my lawn; or you will be thrust back into January 10th where you are layering clothes until you resemble the little brother from A Christmas Story and you can’t put your arms down because you have THAT many layers on. And you’re still FREEZING.

Hohoho! Merry Christmas! 

Wait. We’re waiting for the Easter Bunny now!  

But on a more positive note,  I did a 7 KM run last night. At 3 KM I thought there was no way I could do 7 KM as I heaved in air, felt stiff throughout my calf muscles, and generally questioned my ability to run 10 KM on Saturday. But a littler later, I really enjoyed my run! I felt a couple of twinges in my foot with a brief panic of: please, I don’t  want to blow my achilles tendon a few days before the race! 

But ultimately, it was magical. I’ve forgotten how beautiful it is to run in pitch blackness, with starry skies above, with only the faint outline of the moon to guide your steps.

Well, with the street lights. And cars headlights. And the glow from the mini malls in my area. And for a brief moment, I was certain I could smell pot pouring from one of the cars stopped at a traffic light.

All joking aside, (and it’s all true) I really did feel great after my run. I’ve forgotten how good it feels to run longer distances. I should do it more often.

Hypothermic 10 KM run is tomorrow. I am not prepared. My husband picked up my race kit. He also told me the location of the event. (I was going to go somewhere else.) Am I ready? Nope.

Am I going to do it. Yes. Why? Because I’ve dropped out of so many races because I wasn’t ready that I’ve lost count. Sometimes, I failed to show up to the start line for good reasons; but sometimes it was just because I was lazy.

There are some days when you can make an excuse as to why you shouldn’t do something. Then there are the times when you set your excuses aside, just do it, and hope for the best.

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Thank you Mother Nature. If you could add in either freezing rain or snow that would be most helpful. 

The First Day (Officially) Applying Cosmetics

I don’t wear make-up to work. I’ll sometimes wear it on weekends, but even that is rare. I can’t be bothered/don’t really have the time, and just don’t care enough to make the effort.

However, since going blonde last Saturday, I have worn make-up every day since changing the colour of my hair as now, I believe, I look tired and old without it.

As per my earlier post last night, today the clock starts officially for me to wear makeup for the next 30 days.

And here’s the picture to prove it.

 

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Now, don’t make fun of me. I know. I’m not wearing that much. But, still this little bit of cosmetic application makes all the difference in the world from my perspective on how I look. As well, please see the earlier post (one before this one) that shows my “cosmetic collection”.

Now you understand.

Here we go, 30 days with me applying make-up. Now that’s a boundary.

 

Change #66: A Promise To Be Made: Keep The Blonde Hair For 30 Days & Wear Cosmetics Every Day

Some changes you need to make consistently or for a longer period of time. They force you to adapt to new things and to new situations. If you forfeit the adjustment period, you haven’t really tried to make something new work.

I must confess, after 42 years as a brunette (I had a full head of black hair when I was a baby) I am having trouble adjusting to the blonde. The comments from co-workers, friends, to even the cafeteria staff that are located in my building where I work, follow the same pattern: initially there is shock, followed quickly by I really like it!, and later to one of awe. I have surprised a great number of people by my daring new hair. The most surprised person is myself.

But every time I walk by a mirror, I’m just not certain Goldilocks fits who I am. As of Saturday, I have worn make-up every day after my initial realization that sans cosmetics and with the lighter hair, I may very well look my age. But with make-up on, I think I look alright.

That maybe the crux of my problem. I believe that to be blonde,  I may need to invest more time into maintenance, of coordinated brighter clothes (I liked the 5 days of colours, but honestly- some days I just want to wear black and grey), and full make-up. Ultimately, I don’t know if that’s who I am. Let’s be honest, I love those hiking boots.

But here’s my promise to you – I will wear make-up every day for the next 30 days and keep my blonde hair. And we’ll see if the brunette can adapt to being a blonde. (The end date will be March 31st for this challenge.)

One last thing – I will not flood this blog with daily snaps of my face to prove that  I am wearing make-up each day. But, I’ll take one picture tomorrow, and then another picture intermittently throughout the next 30 days. Trust me if I fail this challenge, I’ll own up to it.

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The “colours” I will be wearing. Well, I have a few other lipsticks and my concealer – but yeah, this is pretty much my collection of make-up. Hey, what can I say? Be grateful we now have the purple in the mix. 🙂 

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Mother Nature: You say you’ve signed up for a Hypothermic Run on Saturday? Wait, but I made it really mild for the last week? Hold on! Let me fix that. There you go! Now it will be frigidly cold for your run! Enjoy! 

Change #62: The Beautiful and Damned – Is Done & The Question of “The Meaning of Life”

It was close there.

I used my 2 hour car maintenance appointment, my 3 hour hair appointment, squeaked out a couple of stolen nights at coffee shops, and the last 3 consecutive 30 minute lunches in a row at work –  but I made it.

I completed the book. 

I know there will be some that may question my sincerity in terms of completing the book. However, at this point I feel you must trust me.  I can provide you with a detailed account of how each character (Anthony, Gloria, Maury, and Dick – there were others, but they were the main characters that mattered to me) spent approximately the 10 years that covered their lives. I can give away the ending and tell you how the book closes on page 388.  But I don’t want to ruin it for you in case you want to read it.

You must trust me at this point. Why should you, you ask?

Because, I am the girl that skateboarded for 10 minutes, awkwardly, and wrote about it. I am the girl that set the oven on fire making lemon meringue pie for the first time. I am the girl that jumped into Lake Ontario in February for the Polar Plunge, and confessed openly in this blog, that the experience was terrifying.  I am also the girl who built a  10 KM training schedule to train for the hypothermic 10 KM run (that’s THIS weekend!) and proceeded to barely train. And openly admitted her failure.

I am not above failing. I have failed so often in my life I am immune. More importantly, I am not embarrassed.  

Let me just say though, with The Beautiful and Damned,  the title alone gives you an idea of what the book is about. The book reflects an age where beauty, wealth, and prestige rule the world. As such, the characters spend a great deal of the book obsessing over things that are trivial  (to me) such as beauty, money, and prestige.

What I found interesting was the monologue by Maury, about half way through the book, where he discusses his “education” but touches on elements of the lesson to be learned from life.  The timing was doubly interesting: I was perusing a literary journal to check on the status for a short story I submitted, and I saw a request from the literary journal for submissions for stories relating to, “The Meaning of Life.” I rarely submit when there is a specific request, but I thought, Hmmm…that could be interesting?

I can safely say, at 42-years old, I know the meaning of life is…

I don’t have the darndest idea. 

It’s an old question and one that continues to puzzle me. Is it to have children? What happens if you don’t have children, or can’t have children? What does that mean? Does it mean the couple are worth less to society?  Or if you are a woman, you are a failure? (By the way, I don’t have children.)

Is the meaning of life, to travel and learn new things?  Do you learn as much as you can and by the end of your life you’ll be a know-it-all? Is that possible? With a world that is forever shifting and changing, technology and science that bends every few years, is it even possible?

I would say, no. 

Is the meaning of life to be happy? If so, then each person needs to determine what makes them happy. Is it a life where you give back, for example by helping the poor? Or is it a life where you spend it shopping? After all, different things, make different people happy.

I don’t know what the meaning of life is. Maybe for each one of us it’s different. In the movie City Slickers, it is summed up best when the baby calf Norman gets swept away in a river and Mitch races into the river to save him. For Mitch, it’s all about baby Norman. 

I write because I love it. I also write because I hope that I can help others to see a different perspective through my stories, and that sometimes, it may bind us closer together. When I write about grief and loss, it’s a form of healing for me as I have lost my father, my brother and more recently, a very close friend.  But I hope with my writing, I can also reach someone else that may feel the same way and they’ll realize they’re not alone. Grief can be a very lonely experience.

My goal in life is simple: when I leave, I hope I left the world a little better than when I came into it (or at least, I didn’t make it worse). I hope my family and friends know how important they are to me, I showed them, and that they’ll never second guess how much I cared about each one of them.

And for that person I cut off in traffic in my hustle to get to work in the morning because I left late (again), I’m truly sorry, and I hope I didn’t ruin your day.

I don’t think that’s the meaning of life – but for me, it might be.

Update on Change #62: Progress Report On The Beautiful and Damned

I am currently sitting on page 336.

There are 388 pages.

Thanks to a 2 hour car appointment on Thursday last week, and the 3 hour hair appointment on Saturday, there are only 52 pages that remain to be read.

I will not fail. 

Deadline: February 28th at midnight.

By tomorrow at midnight, I will know how the story of Anthony and Gloria ends. So far, it’s been an interesting read with moments of quiet reflection on life. Mostly, from the perspective of other characters.

Stay tuned.

Change #64 & #65: A 5 KM Run, Blonde Hair and Poutine

Done are the days when I would only lace up my shoes for a minimum 5 KM run. Here are the days when 5 KM will kick my butt. 

I ran 5 KM today. Well, according to my watch 4.91 KM. I will not reach my  objective now, to reach 36 KM as per originally stipulated in my training schedule that I created at the beginning of this month. (I am delusional most of the time, but sometimes you must admit it is too, too late.) My objective now is simple – come ill-prepared for the Hypothermic 10 KM run on Saturday (that’s right, it’s 1 week from today) but try not to break anything or die on the course.

My run today was to be 7 km as this would give me a good indicator of how terrible I will feel after the run on Saturday. (It would be 70% of the course.) But as usual, after my walk with my friend and her two dogs, as well as my old faithful Hershey this morning, I made the catastrophic mistake of settling in front of my computer to revise the first 10 pages to the second part to Dragon in the Mirror while thinking it won’t take that long. (Dragon in the Mirror was a short story I wrote last year. I originally thought the story would be a single story, but it’s been well received, and I now have an idea for a second part.) Nonetheless, the 30 minutes I allotted turned into 45 minutes, and then there was 20 minutes fussing with trying to locate my watch, my ID band, and my MP3 player. And as I had a hair appointment at 12 PM, the run was cut short. AGAIN.

5KM it was. As I ran I felt tired, but I only had 40 minutes to complete the run. I ran it in about 37 minutes and change. Apparently if I have poorly managed my time, I can hustle and run quickly if I have somewhere else to be. I know, it’s slow. But for me, it’s in keeping with about the average time I have previously completed 5 KM in with training.  Given my complete and utter lack of training, and my inability to complete more than 3.5 KM in the last month, I thought the time was good.

What wasn’t good, was the fact that I felt exhausted afterwards as I “faked” stretching, tried to hustle through my shower, to Starbucks, and  could barely focus as I drove across the city to my hair appointment.

I incredibly arrived at my hair appointment at the Hair Co-Op that is located on Bank Street with 10 minutes to spare. Caroline is a woman who was originally my hair stylist, but now I also rank her as my friend. I have known her for more than a decade and she has seen me through my father’s cancer, my brother’s accident, and later my brother’s death. As I arrived, Caroline greeted me as warmly as ever.

But I had failed to warn her about what I planned.  I meant to text her to say, it will be different this time. There is a plan for something bigger. Something different. Something WAY outside of my comfort zone. The text never happened. And all I thought was, I’m simply getting “a colour”.

As we made our way to the back of the salon I asked her in a cautious tone, “Did you mix it already?” (That’s right. Don’t mock me. I get the same colour every single time. Although, a couple of times I did highlights.)

She said, “No.”

And I answered that was good, because I wanted to go blonde. I, in an I’m-in-charge-manner, flipped open the book to see my colour options.

Caroline asked me, “Do you know what’s involved?”

My head popped up. All I thought was, what’s involved? It’s colour. It’s yellow colour. That’s it. That’s all. 

She  said it would take a bit longer, probably 2-3 hours. I sat in a chair and looked at my hiking boots, contemplating. In my mind I saw the words that are written on the walls of the Tube in London. The words, WAY OUT. (Translation – EXIT.)

I was already starting to buckle. My child-self had returned. I was afraid. I had no scheduled appointments after. I was not meeting a friend. But, it seemed like a good excuse. The good old-fashioned, time excuse. My fallback. The one I picked up and waved the white flag too whenever I failed to do something.

Then she asked me, “Do you have anything scheduled after?”

I said, “No.”

As she sat beside me she asked,”Did you want to go full blonde? Because we could just do highlights?”

I sat in the chair and continued looking down at my hiking boots and thought, WAY OUT.

And then I said, “We should probably do blonde. I’m doing it for my blog. I’m suppose to do things that make me feel uncomfortable. And, it’s just hair”

Caroline smiled at me and said, “OK. ” She proceeded to go off to do the first mixture. (It’s a 3-step process. Does everyone know that? 3 Steps. Minimum.)

This woman knows me, and knows me well. She’s watched me rotate between the same two hairstyles for almost a decade, watched me barely give an inch in terms of colour preference, and it took some doing on her part to convince me to get highlights. (I loved them, by the way.) She understands me and gets me. And I absolutely trust her.

As she lathered my head with the first solution, she explained the process. Now, I was somewhat traumatized as I sat there wondering, what am I doing?  How will I explain this at work?  but the general process was like this: do the edges with some stuff, then do the scalp separately (I have dark roots), and finally put the colour in.  Later as she watched me carefully, she reassured me not to panic. Because she was taking the colour out (this would not be my colour) and then she was going to put it back in.

When she popped off the plastic cap after the first step, I saw white streaks with dark roots. IT WAS DRASTICALLY DIFFERENT. I would by lying to you if I said that I didn’t want to jump up and run out the door. I could see the headlines now:

WOMAN RUNS DOWN BANK STREET, WITH PLASTIC APRON FLAPPING WITH HALF-DONE HAIR SAYS, “IT WAS FOR A BLOG POST”

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And I told her at one point I thought this.  She laughed.

The problem is once you’re in the middle of something like colouring your hair blonde, and you commit to it, you have to follow through.

Caroline was my counselor through this process. She took the time to explain each step, reassured me repeatedly, this is not your colour, and warned me that when she applied the stuff to my scalp it may tingle a bit. (That it did.)

(Did I mention how wonderful she was? And how I completely messed up her day with the much longer appointment that I planned, that I never told her about?)

When she revealed the final hair it was blonde. She trimmed it, styled it, and now in the short time frame of 3 hours (my appointment started at noon) I was a blonde. I liked it. But like all major changes, it takes time to adjust. To settle.

As well, something bothered me. And I realized it almost right away.

The mistake I made was not doing my make-up. I am religiously lazy about NOT doing my make-up. Can’t be bothered most days. And here’s the thing about being me and not sleeping enough, not eating right, and most days – not exercising: I look tired and haggard all the time. When you have dark hair, like dark clothes, you can hide.  With blonde hair, there’s no hiding. YOU ARE OUT THERE. Whether you want to be or not.

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It’s funny though, as soon as I applied some lipstick it made all the difference in the world. Maybe that’s the reason why blonde’s have more fun. They have to make the effort.

I spent a little time after my appointment downtown and then went home. My hubby looked at my hair and said he liked it. (YEAH!) Afterwards, we headed downtown together for date night.

I have never had poutine in my life. And today was to be the day.

Actually, yesterday was to be the day – but hubby and I were both tired so we forfeited it and rescheduled to today.  We went to the Elgin Street Diner and ordered the standard poutine. (They had other varieties, but as I had never had the basic, we thought we should start there.) The poutine arrived with cheese curds and gravy that sat on top of french fries. Hubby and I split one plate between the two of us.

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The poutine was alright, but I did not love it. It simply tasted like french fries, gravy and cheese. It was reassuring to know that I wasn’t missing anything in all my years skipping poutine.

That be done – I completed two changes today:

  1. Go blonde or go home
  2. Eat poutine

Mission accomplished, I vote today a success.

And what of the 5 KM run? I failed the challenge of completing 36 KM of scheduled training before the race. I plan to do at least one more 7 KM (maybe 8) before race day and that’s probably it for “training”. One post has already been removed from this blog, so we’re even.

And for those who run that ask, but you are to taper this week? Trust me on this: I need not taper, as I never trained.

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Don’t be fooled. Beneath the Goldilocks hair, lies the goofy brunette that mimicks her canine-child, Hershey’s face that he makes as he waits for cheese to be dispensed.