Old friends, new friends

Well, it was a pretty exciting week. Mostly the good kind of exciting.

The reason why I posted last Friday ‘s blog so late in the day compared to usual is that I was volunteering for the day weekend at the Manning Networking Conference. It gave me the opportunity to meet some new friends and reconnect with my Hill friends who I haven’t seen much of this year. By volunteering on Friday, I got to go to sessions on Saturday for free. I managed to get up in the front row for the afternoon presentations and even scored some one-on-one time with Daniel Hannan, Member of the European Parliament.

For those unfamiliar with why Hannan is the current darling of conservatives everywhere, watch this.

One of the folks I was able to chat with was David Wilkins, the former US Ambassador to Canada. I met Wilkins a number of times when I was at the Speaker of the Senate’s Office. He is the epitome of the Southern Gentlemen and wily politician all wrapped into one. When in Canada he likes to open his speeches with Would have liked to have gotten a not fat photo with him to replace the old fatty photo, but I caught him on the fly as he was heading into his session.

The really big news this week is that our story made the Running Room Magazine.

I intentionally use the plural possessive pronoun. While I wrote the profile, regular readers know this was not a singular effort on my part. I had a lot of help from my friends to get to my goal and I still lean on them. It may be my article, but it’s our story.

The genesis of the profile came about when I met John Stanton, CEO of the Running Room, at the 3K warm-up friendship run prior to the Canada Army Run last September. We chatted for a bit about how running contributed to my weight loss. I showed him the before photos on my iPod Touch. He suggested I do the profile for the magazine. I actually let it slide until the editor of the magazine contacted me back in January. They were kind enough to give our story the full page spread. I only asked that they photoshop the before picture to change the beer in my hand to an actual good brand. It’s been on the blog for months now, but I wouldn’t want anyone to think I actually like Heineken. That, and my east coast friends would probably disown me. Thankfully, they cropped it out.

The reaction, so far, has been wholly positive. Many people ask me who the photo of the guy in the tie is, not realizing it’s a before photo. I’ve taken to using the comment from Wednesday’s post, someone I used to know.

It was a good running week, too. The weather for Sunday’s 10K was nothing short of beautiful. It was still rather cold in the morning so I didn’t shed the pants for shorts. The early morning runs are sort of catch-22 this time of year. It’s still rather cool in the morning, but it warms up quickly enough that you may find yourself overdressed by the time you get too far into your run to shed a layer. I noticed that despite the warmer forecast, many in my pace group looked like the same as they had a few days earlier when it was substantially colder. A lot of them were tying their jackets around their waists during the last couple of kilometres.

Tuesday’s 4K tempo run was unintentionally adventurous. At the beginning of Pretoria Bridge, we ran past a woman who was laying down. My runners spotted her, but by the time they told me we were already too far to turn around on the bridge. By the time we got turned around, Joanne, Phil (the Running Room’s area manager) and another runner had stopped to assist. They had called for an ambulance, but she was rather cold. They flagged me down and asked me for my jacket. Joanne knows me well enough to know that I had a long sleeve on underneath. I tossed my equipment off and handed over the jacket. I then proceeded to run like I stole something to catch up with my pace group. I wanted to make sure I finished the run with my group to give them that motivational push for the last couple hundred meters. I caught up with about half a kilometre to spare. Wonder if I can keep that up for 5K on Saturday.

Tuesday’s adventure taught me two lessons: One, I need better situational awareness on the fast, short runs. I’m usually pretty good at scanning my surroundings for potential obstructions or threats, incoming runners, bikers, etc. I didn’t see this woman because she was off to the side of the bridge on the alcove look-outs. I need a broader view.

Two, I need to re-certify my first aide training. I used to volunteer with St. John Ambulance in New Brunswick. Tuesday night made me realize that I haven’t taken a first aide or CPR course in over a decade. Need to correct that while I have the chance.

Finally, Wednesday, we began hill training. Hill training seems to be pretty divisive. People either like it or hate it. So far I’m in the like category. What was interesting though, was how quickly they ignored everything Phil and Maya told us the day previously, particularly how they sprinted down the hill instead of taking a brisk walking break down the hill to bring the heart rate down before tackling the hill again. A few were dragging their asses on the last hill because they didn’t give themselves the proper rest between runs.

Since many of our runners in my 2h and Joanne’s 2h10min group were tackling hill training for the first time, we cheered them on. Maybe it’s spending a good chunk of my formative years in Fredericton where I was around military men from CFB Gagetown, but when I shout words of encouragement while running, I tend to sound like Gerard Butler in 300. Must be the common Scottish heritage. Some of the marathoners who arrived at the hill later due to a longer warm-up run took umbrage to my shouting, “one more.” My reply:

Not my fault you showed up late to the party.

I would make R. Lee Emery proud.

The Result

Had some fun food experiments this week. I made chicken parmagane from scratch. My girlfriend (more on that later) is allergic to nuts so it was back to panko bread crumbs for the chicken coating. I flattened the chicken breasts and then coated them in flour, followed by egg, followed by breadcrumbs with some seasoning added. I panfried them in olive oil for a few minutes per side until done. Once done, I placed the breasts on a parchment lined cookie sheet and proceeded to make the tomato sauce.

The sauce was a variation of a sauce I watched Gordon Ramsey (again with the angry Scots) make on the F-Word earlier in the week. I made it with some olive oil, garlic, oregano, fresh basil, 1 pint of cherry tomatoes (halved) and some cornstarch to thicken it up (I would normally use tomato paste for a sauce, but I didn’t have any).

As a side, I made some whole grain penne rigate with some nut-free basil pesto.  I made far more than required for the two of us which gave me the opportunity to experiment with some leftovers in the freezer for my earlier meals.

The results:

Monday - Penne bolongese with sautéed kale

Tuesday - Penne with sautéed sweet Italian turkey sausage and sautéed spinach

You may have noticed a passing reference to a girlfriend. Yes, there is a new cast member in the play that is my life. Her name is Kalin. Say hello, Kalin.

You can probably guess by the photo, she was the unnamed friend who I taught how to skate on the Rideau Canal. My version of how we met is she crashed my birthday party last October. Her version is she was invited, just by someone else. We didn’t really start hanging out, though, until the new year and, even then, we both thought of each other as friends. The friends saw otherwise and, for once, were right.  We only clued in, ourselves, about a month ago. Saturday we mark a milestone: our first race together. We’re running the St. Patrick’s Day 5K together.

Don’t let the cute looks fool you. She’s smart as heck with some interesting stories to tell. She’s going on her own health journey and I’m happy to be a part of it. As you can probably tell from the photo, she has a pretty good sense of humour. She’ll need it she’s going to put up with me.

If you’re nice, I may let her write a guest post.

Allons-y!

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