Tag Archives: New Brunswick

The saga continues…

So remember how I was going to keep you posted on those new adventures in Fredericton?

Kind of failed miserably on that one.

In a nutshell:

I trained solo for the Army Run Half Marathon. Did well with another sub-2 hour finish, but not as well as I wanted. Made the rookie mistake of starting too fast and running out of gas.

I learned a few lessons from solo training this summer:

1. I can do it.

2 Running alone sucks.

3. Never eat corn the Saturday night before a long run.

I think those are self-explanatory.

Started training for the Bluenose Marathon. Went old school and did the Running Room clinic here in Fredericton. Whether it was those tumbles last year in the Hypothermic Half catching up to me or just plain wear and tear, I ended up with a Baker’s cyst under my patella and doctor’s orders to lay off the training. Oh well, next year.

Still keeping active, but laying off the high impact cardio. I’ve been hitting the swimming pool at the YMCA most mornings before work.

My promo photo

How’s that for an “after” photo?

On the professional side, work is going very well. I spent the summer studying for my life licence exams. Passed those and then waited months for the province to approve my application. Now approved, I’ve been going gangbusters on expanding my firms employee benefits division as well as working with individual clients.

I’ve also been teaching some political science courses at my alma mater, St. Thomas University.  The teaching was an unexpected opportunity, but a welcome one. Given the academic job market, I’m pretty lucky to be in a position to even use my PhD. Since both courses I taught were as a replacement for a previously hired professor, the timetable was not of my choosing (like most part-time instructors) and finding the balance between the primary and secondary employers was difficult. With training for a marathon on top of two jobs, it’s a good thing Kalin and I were long distance as we would have seen each other just as much.

That’s right, I wrote “were” long distance. Our long distance relationship is no more. It’s now a no distance relationship.  We’re engaged to be married and will be tying the knot next year.

IMG_0917

We have many adventures ahead, one of which is a new blog we’ll be co-writing, In Omnia Paratus: An Adventure in Literature, and Life.

As for this blog, it’s time to put it to bed. I’ve enjoyed sharing my story. Sharing it helped keep me accountable and contributed to my success. As fitness has become my routine, however, I’ve found I’ve had less new experiences to write about. Two jobs involving a lot of after-hours work hasn’t helped, either.

It’s time to start a new adventure.

Allons-y!

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New Adventure …. but first

I’ve been a rather negligent blogger. My excuse for the first couple weeks of the year is pretty simple:

I was lazy.

For those that actually remember my post about the odyssey that was mine and Kalin’s return to Ottawa, I was coming back to a rather uncertain future. I started 2013 like I started 2012, without a job and no irons in the fire, either. Out of nowhere, though, my old job called and asked me to come back. After some negotiation, I returned to the Office of the Speaker of the Senate on February 4th. At the same time, I began training for the next big challenge: the Ottawa Marathon.

Between Parliament Hill hours and the time suck that is marathon training, the blogging fell to the back burner.

Training for the marathon was gruelling. For those outside the Ottawa area, it was a really long winter this year. We didn’t get consistent spring weather until the beginning of May. There would be a Sunday here or there where I could break out the shorts, but most runs involved three layers into late April and some of those that didn’t were only because I was an idiot when I packed my bag in the morning.

Many of the evening runs were in inclement weather. Snow, freezing rain, normal rain, high winds. Everything but calm. Some runs had us jumping over snow drifts and puddles. We’d call these runs “character builders”. By the end, I was hoping the character I was building was Destro so I could build a weather machine. Needless to say, I’m cured of any desire of doing a Spartan Race or a Tough Mudder. Getting to the start line of this year’s marathon had enough physical obstacles to scratch that itch.

For 16 weeks, I managed to stay mostly healthy (had a bout of the flu which sidelined me for a weekend when we started to taper down) and injury free. I paced the 4:15 finish group. Most nights it was just a half dozen, much smaller group than my 2 hr half marathon groups. Some nights it was so small, I’d run with the 4 hr group.

I probably stayed in my Brooks Pure Cadence shoes too long before I replaced them with the latest version. My ankles were killing me the morning after my runs. Luckily, Adidas Boost had a launch event at the Slater St. Running Room. I got to take a pair on a full run, it was hills night and we were doing 8 that evening. The next morning, for the first time in two months, I felt relatively well. I tried them again that evening on an 8K steady run. Friday morning, felt great. Friday afternoon, bought a pair. The last pair of men’s 10.5s of the promotional inventory, meaning the last of the size until the shoes officially launched in June.

Race day came and you couldn’t have asked for better weather for a first time race. It was overcast and in the high teens for most of the morning. It was so cool, many of the runners who had done the previous year’s Army Run wore the thin white jackets they gave the finishers instead of solar blankets. They were pretty handy as throw away starter jackets on a cool morning. Wish I had thought of that. I didn’t bother bringing anything that I couldn’t bring on the course. The post race plan was to meet Kalin, who at the last minute decided to run the half marathon (and did a personal best … my girlfriend is awesome), at the aboriginal veterans statue and get back to my place. Downtown on race day is a bonkers sea of humanity with a combined 16,000 runners in along with all the volunteers and the people there to cheer us on.

Any worries I had a about Boston scaring off spectators were quickly abated. If anything, there were more. Even the desolate stretch of the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway where there was literally no one cheering during my last two half marathons had people cheering us on.

Like my last race, I had my playlist ready. This time, I intentionally put it on shuffle. The race was going to take as long as it was going to take and there was no point in using songs as benchmarks. I hadn’t actually run a full 42.2 k before. The furthest the Running Room’s training program takes you is 32k. You do it once, taper a bit, and then go back up to 32k before tapering down for race day. Since it was my first run that long, I just filled up my playlist with 4 hours, 20 mins of music and hoped I wouldn’t hear a song twice.

As if by fate, the song that shuffled on as the 32K marker came into sight …. a Shooter Jennings cover of Hank Williams Sr.’s “I’m so lonely I could die”. I have no clue how that even got on my iPhone, more or less my marathon playlist. Most. Depressing. Song. Ever. It’s also probably the worst possible song as you start to cross the distance threshold of your longest distance ever.

Needless to say, it took me out of my race mindset for a minute while I fiddled to skip it. I tripped to use Siri to skip it with a voice command, but this genius decided it might be a good idea to run with the iPhone in airplane mode and Siri is useless if she isn’t connected to the Internet. With a couple of button pushes and swipes, Shooter was shot and replaced by Eminem’s “Won’t back down”.

With that crisis solved, it was time to finish the race. Having passed the 32K mark, my brain reorientated itself to see the distance markers as a de facto countdown. 32K wasn’t 32K. It was 10K left.

As the last ten kilometres snaked through Rockcliffer, Beechwood, and New Edinburgh back to the downtown, the crowds got thicker. As we crossed Rideau St. onto Colonel By for the home stretch to the finish line, the cheers grew louder. The entrance to Colonel By reminded me of the the entrance to a stadium. It was time time to kick it into high gear.

After my last walk break, I gradually increased my pace. It was around 4min/k for the last couple hundred metres. I looked up at the finish line as I crossed. The clock read 4:14, already below my goal. My chip time: 4:11.

20x30-OTDA4025

A friend would later ask me what I thought as I crossed the finish line. Given the long journey from obesity to Marathon Man, was it emotional? Did I think back on all that I had accomplished? Did I feel triumphant? Nostalgic?

My response:  Thank God, it’s over.

I made it through the recovery area gauntlet, grabbing whatever freebies were on offer. Just after getting my finisher’s medal, I ran into Marina, Slater St. Running Room’s unofficial den mother, who was volunteering handing out medals. She gave me a huge, and well needed hug.  I made my way to the aboriginal veterans statue to wait for Kalin. Since the half marathon is a much, much larger event, they have a staggered start and send the runners out in waves. This year it was three waves. I have to admit to being a worried boyfriend. Kalin only decided to do this race a few days earlier. My worry soon turned to relief as she emerged from the recovery area with one of the biggest smile’s on her face that I had ever seen. As we held each other, I asked how she felt. “Great,” she replied. “I PB’d.” Despite not race training, she did, however, go to Greco as often as she could and had greatly improved her strength and endurance. It paid off. She would tell me that as she was hitting the 20K mark, she broke out in tears. The good ones, though. A year earlier, she ran her first post-cancer 5K. Now she was finishing a half marathon and feeling great. She realized this is what healthy felt like and was overcome with joy.

Like I said before, my girlfriend is awesome.

With that challenge done, it’s onto the new adventure. With my contract with the Speaker’s Office completed on June 28th, I’ve moved back to Fredericton to join my father’s firm. It’s the end of my first week here. In the coming weeks, I’ll have to find a new gym and get my half marathon training for the Army Run going in earnest. Going to miss the gang at Greco and Slater St., but seven months of no employment and living off savings and credit cards takes a while to recover from. It was time for a change from contract to contract living.

Don’t worry, Kalin and I are still together. I count myself lucky to have found a girl from my hometown, even if we met in Ottawa. We both want to eventually settle here, so we see my move as serving as the advance guard. We already have the visits planned up to the end of the end of the year.

I’ll keep you posted on how things are going from Freddy Beach, but in the meantime …

Allons-y!

The Folly of Shame

Brace yourself, I’m going to say something nice about Air Canada. Travelling to the Maritimes, we’re pretty much held hostage to Air Canada’s schedule. Yes, there are other domestic carries, but unless you live in Moncton or Halifax, you’re stuck with Air Canada to get to your destination.

I’m not going to recount the nightmare after nightmare flying with them during the winter months have been over the years. My most recent flight was my 6 am return to Ottawa from New Brunswick on Tuesday. I shared my row with a rather obese passenger, large enough they took up almost a quarter of my seat. As the passenger curled up to sleep through the flight and took up even more room, I spent the subsequent two hours thanking God that even at my peak weight I was never large enough to exceed the seat dimensions of an air plane. In fact, one of the lies I would tell myself was, “I fit in one of those tiny airplane seats. I can’t be too overweight.”

Around a year before I started my weight loss, one of my favourite directors, Kevin Smith, was kicked off a flight for being too big for his seat. Sparing myself this public humiliation and the logistical nightmare of rescheduling travel with the one airline that travels to my hometown may have crystallized my decision to lose weight.

I didn’t complain to my passenger or even ask the flight attendant to be reseated. It was a fully booked Dash-8 with all of 17 seats available to passengers (for some reason that remains a mystery to this day, row 2AC is reserved for the flight crew even though the one attendant on the plane has a seat at the front of the plane) and there was simply no seat to move to. I was also partially sympathetic. While I was never in that situation, it was only when I was travelling last year that I realized how big I was. Suddenly the seats on that little plane were … reasonably comfortable.

After the flight in my tired-ass wandering mind on the bus back to downtown , I started thinking. In 2009, the Canadian Transportation Agency recognized obesity as a disability and imposed a “one passenger, one fare” policy on the national airlines. Previously, if you exceeded the width of the seat (defined as seated with the armrest in the down position) you had to purchase the seat next to you. I don’t blame obese people for complaining. Buying two seats is a pretty expensive proposition, up to $3000. It would actually be cheaper to buy a larger executive class seat. Unfortunately, there’s no executive class seating going to and from Fredericton. None on the direct flight from Ottawa. None on the flights from Toronto and Montreal. Certainly none on the plane from Halifax. That plane barely has a luggage hold.

So, if out of the cause of reasonable accommodation, the airlines are forced to only charge a passenger a single fare regardless of the number of seats they use, is it also reasonable to make the partial seat that remains available for the 100% of the advertised fare?

I decided to investigate. I sent the following to Air Canada’s customer complaint e-mail (with personal identifiers removed):

On the above referenced flight, I was seated in 5D, an aisle seat next to an obese passenger who was large enough that the passenger would not safely fit into the seat with the armrest down. For the duration of the flight, the passenger took up about 25% of my seat. I didn’t want to cause trouble for the flight and, frankly, there didn’t look to be another seat available to move to other than 2A and C which are reserved for the flight attendant. I understand several years ago, the Canadian Human Rights Commission [Author’s note: further research revealed it was the Canadian Transport Agency] imposed a “one passenger, one fare” rule on Canada’s airline. With that understood, is it fair to make the seat available next to a passenger so obese he/she cannot fit in a single seat? Given that the Dash-8 aircraft only has two seats per row, there may be occasions where a passenger would need to be reseated. If an obese passenger is going to take up 25% of the adjacent seat, why should the passenger who has paid 100% of a fare for a seat not be entitled to an entire seat? Since there is the aforementioned row reserved for the attendant, who already has a seat at the front of the front of the plane, should not one of the passengers be reseated? It was just over two years ago that I was at my heaviest. While I was never so obese that I could not fit in a single seat with the armrest lowered, I did require come rather close to that size. Had I been at my previous weight on this morning’s flight, I would not have been able to sit in my assigned seat.

That was Tuesday morning. You know what happened? By Wednesday morning, Air Canada e-mailed me with a $150 credit for future travel as a gesture of goodwill. They explained their policy of “encouraging” obese passengers to buy a second seat when in economy class. The issue of the available row 2 which could be used to reseat a passenger remained unaddressed.

It might have helped that I selected the prefix “Dr.” from the drop down menu.

I started to think about some of the recent commentary on fat shaming. It’s basically the idea if you make fat people ashamed of being fat, they’ll lose weight. It made the news recently when this reporter responded to a viewer’s letter over her weight. Local Ottawa doctor Yoni Freedhoff even accused Disney of doing it earlier this year. There was even talk of it in the presidential race when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was being coaxed into running for the Republican nominaton. It resurfaced when he was among the politicos shortlist for Romney’s running mate and again when he addressed the Republican convention. Not all of us are lucky enough to be consoled by Sofia Vergara when someone makes fun of us, but he seems like he can take it. He did, after all, paraphrase Machiavelli and then attribute it to … his mother.

The logic of shaming is ridiculous. If you tease and troll a human being enough, they’ll make a radical life change. As a guy with unusually high self-esteem, when I was called fat I usually retorted with “Just like how your mom likes it.” Guys aren’t bombarded with images of male perfection and forced to conform. In fact, it’s the opposite. My usual nemesis, KFC, now has an advertisement where their overweight, unkempt character walks around with a bucket of the new chicken product and eventually is surrounded by a harem of bikini-clad women. Unless rufies are the 11th herb and spice, there is no way this will happen in reality. Gluttony is increasingly becoming acceptable behaviour for generation of arrested developed males. 

It’s a lot different for girls. I remember one of my feminist sociology profs complaining about the objectification of women in men’s magazines, which had exploded in number in the late 1990s (a number of which no longer exist). At some point, I snorted, “Have you been to the magazine rack at Chapters lately? Seems like women are giving men a run for their money on the objectification of their gender.”  In our exchange, which included me asking my classmates who had men’s and women’s magazines with them (interesting moment, none of the men admitted to having a men’s magazine on hand, but 2/3 of the women had Cosmo), I argued that for all the barflegarp about empowerment in women’s magazines like Cosmo most teenage girls are seeing a stick thin waif on the model on the cover. Regardless of whether the title was “Maxim” or “Cosmopolitan”, in the heyday of Kate Moss, thin was in and being presented as the ideal.

With all that cultural pressure already on women to fit into a particular ideal, those that try their whole lives and can’t get there are already pretty miserable. If you call sending young girls to the bathroom after dinner to puke their guts out a success story, give yourself a pat on the back, asshole. All you’re doing is just giving people with already low self-esteem another pummelling. I bet you make fun of the disabled, too.

For all your smug, self-appointed, self-righteousness, here’s the truth: you’re a bloody failure. You shame, society has gotten fatter. Unless there’s some immediate health concern (diabetes, high blood pressure, etc), most fatties don’t think they’re unhealthy. As I wrote at the beginning of this journal and reiterated last week, as obesity rates go up, most fat people think they’re normal and thin people are starving themselves. The truth is both extremes are full of stuff and malarkey (I wrote this after watching the VP debate).

There’s no magic bullet to get someone to lose weight. I didn’t think I was unhealthy when I was 250 lbs. The first time I was that heavy, I certainly knew it and had the sleep apnea diagnosis to prove it. It was overloaded public buses that started me losing weight and the encouragement of good friends to find ways to make a little loss into lifestyle change. Just because what I did worked for me, doesn’t mean it will work for someone else.

Don’t let the potential for failure deter you from attempting success. Even shedding a few pounds or a few inches in size will add years to your life. They might be Denis Leary’s “adult diaper, kidney dialysis years”, but you’ll enjoy your time here and now so much more.

Taunting and teasing won’t help. Shaming just leads to a persecution/victim complex which just reinforces negative behaviour, like stress eating or starvation.

You’re just another bully. You don’t even have the guts to say it to someone’s face. Having a Twitter account doesn’t elevate your thoughts to genius, it just exposes you as a coward and a buffoon 140 characters at time.

I honestly hope the passenger who sat beside me on Tuesday finds it within to start their own journey. Their life will be better for it.

Allons-y!

PS – you may notice that I’ve changed part of the title of this blog. It is no longer my year of not being fat anymore. That year ended last week. I’m going to keep writing about this journey because I’m still learning and I think I still have things in this noggin worth sharing. It’s now my life of not being fat. Hope you still enjoy the ride. I am.

Once again,

Allons-y!

My new normal

When I started this journal of my weight loss journal, I argued with rising obesity rates that obese was the new normal. It’s been almost two years since that entry, but the Globe and Mail caught up last weekend.

As this week passed, I reached a new milestone. It’s been a year since I reached my goal weight. This year, I celebrated, but nowhere near as bad as the two week food bender I went on during my downtime between finishing with my trainer and joining Greco. Since I had just completed my second half marathon and was in recovery mode, I had a few indulgences. Well, not really. Kalin and I did splurge at St. Louis a couple of hours after our race, but we had just run 21.1 km. I think we can handle it. Might have had some junk last weekend, but other than that I’ve kept to my usual good habits.

I’ve had a number of questions about how disciplined I am in my eating habits and exercise routine. The truth is, I’m not. I don’t feel disciplined. I pretty much eat what I want. The difference is what I wanted then and what I want now are two different things.

When I started this last year, I truly needed discipline.

The biggest change to my eating habits was the no starchy carbs. In fairness, it was the only change. The nutrition plan I was on didn’t keep me from eating meat and most of the vegetables I like, but gone was the baked potato with the steak, the spaghetti carbonara with my chicken, the pizza crust with my pizza.

I needed the shock therapy. Starting from scratch with new eating habits helped me build a new routine that would not just get me out of the fat suit I was living in, but keep me out once I got to my goal weight. I was also working in a relatively fast paced environment in the Senate of Canada (I know most Canadians reading that last sentence are probably gobsmacked to see the word “fast” in any sentence referring to our Senate) which forced me to adapt my routine to the workplace. I was lucky to have a kitchen with a fridge and microwave where I could store and re-heat meals. There was also a cafeteria on the fifth floor and the Parliamentary Dinning Room (but staff rarely go there without their Member/Senator).

The main thing I learned very quickly if I was going to be successful: bring dinner, too. Some days were harder to judge to when it’s going to be long day so be prepared to have dinner at the office. A routine sitting day can become a long sitting very quickly. I might have to fill in for my boss at an event or represent him at a reception. Stuff like that. While the cafeteria stays open until the House rises, anything remotely healthy would be gone after the supper hour rush. If you have your own dinner on hand, the worst that can happen is that you don’t need to use it. In that case, it’s there for lunch the next day and you have a slightly less heavy bag to lug. Some days, I would eat before I left just so I wouldn’t have to cook when I got home. There were also days where I was hanging around the office between the end of the workday and when I would go to my Running Room clinic so I would eat then. 

As some carbs and fats were added back in, I found the ones I used to eat frequently I no longer craved. I like my whole grain pasta, particularly on the Friday before  a long run on Sunday, but I don’t covet it. For all the talk of bacon in the news these days, I’ve bought all of 1lb since January 2011. Don’t blame me for the impending shortage.

Exercise was another routine I had to start from scratch. I wasn’t a total coach potato when I was fat, but I couldn’t/wouldn’t sustain a commitment to an exercise routine to save my life. When I started with my trainer at Free Form Fitness, I started with two sessions a week for six weeks and then went to three. I also needed to find a time that wouldn’t get continuously pre-empted by my professional duties. For me, the sweet spot was the morning. I was not a morning person, but I realized that I was only going to make it to my sessions if I scheduled them for the times when I knew I didn’t have to be at the office, prior to 8 am. Paying for the service also helps. I can be rather spendthrift, but I want to get my money’s worth. Showing up to my appointments was the only way to do that. Having started this new routine in January, it meant beginning and ending my days in darkness.

Today, I’m working out at Greco LeanandFit four times a week (and may ratchet it up to five) and running three times a week. I’ve completed two half-marathons, both with sub-two hour finishes.  

Speaking of running, I’m instructing again. I’m leading the 5k clinic at the Slater St. Running Room. Kalin is helping me as a pace leader. One of the big challenges with instructing the 5k is it’s the gateway drug to running. Some are using it get back into the sport after years off or recovering from an injury while some are new to running altogether. As such the groups spread out rather quickly on the runs and it’s difficult to effectively supervise everyone. The faster may get out of earshot rather quickly and may run longer their body is ready for. I’m glad she’s going to help where she can. Wednesdays can be long days for work, but I’m thankful for the help.

Going back to shorter distances and slower speeds is going to mean some modifications of the routine. Probably going to have to work out a little bit more to earn that Mello’s breakfast on Saturday, but at this point it’s more “Been there. Done that. Bought the T-Shirt.”

With Thanksgiving upon us, I’m hitting the road for the weekend. No, there’s subterfuge this year. Mom knows I’m coming home for the weekend. It’s a testament to the fact that I’ve so altered my routine that I can go to the old haunts and not succumb to the temptation to indulge … or at least space out the indulgences to fit the routine.

I’m a creature of  habit and my habits sucked. Only by starting from scratch and building new habits, could I succeed. Succeed I did. Succeed I continue to do.

Allons-y!

Once more unto the breach

Best rally speech ever. If plays were rap battles, Henry V is the one where Shakespeare drops the mike afterwards.

Speaking of Shakespeare and rap battles:

It’s time for the Army Run. I really enjoyed the 5K last year. It’s a great event for a great cause, our wounded troops. Proceeds go to Soldier On and the Military Families Fund. If you would like to donate, you can click here.

I’ve always admired our soldiers. My grandfathers had both served in World War II. I didn’t know Tom Read Sr.; he succumbed to cancer when I was just a couple of months old. He served in the home guard and remained on base in Sydney. My mother’s father, Donald MacEachern, was a combat engineer and served in Europe. I’ve mentioned before that he didn’t talk much about the war. None of his generation did. At least in front of the kids and, later, grandkids. Their wives forbade it. Fittingly, the only story he ever told us was the day he was wounded. That story he even saved until years after Grammie Ellen had passed away. He would carry a physical reminder of the war for the rest of his life.

Growing up minutes from CFB Gagetown, you get to know a lot of people in the Canadian Forces.   When I volunteered with St. John Ambulance, I got to work with many of the base’s medics. I always admired their dedication to their brothers-in-arms and their community. My cousin, Read Coleman, also served in the CF and did a tour in Afghanistan. I’ve had a number of friends who did tours in Afghanistan. I thank God on a routine basis that they made it back alive and unharmed. Unfortunately, I can’t say that for that for their brothers-in-arms.

It’s for them I’ll be running.

I decided years ago that I couldn’t do what they do. Part of that was my size and overall lack of fitness. My public service would be through politics.

Before you can run the race, though, you have to train. It was the last week of our clinic which means the runs were at race pace.  Race pace runs can be a real confidence booster the week before the run. They can also provide a moment of reckoning. Thankfully, my runs were more confidence boosting than reckoning.

Sunday was nice and cool for a quick 6 km up and down the canal. The group was a little fast. With the faster short runs, it’s tough to keep the group together. The clinic gathered for an end of clinic brunch afterwards. It was nice to chill out and relax with the gang. It was even better when the clock struck 11 and we could order beer. It gave me a chance to buy one of my runners a beer to pay him back for one he paid for at Mill St. back in August.

Tuesday went long. The clinic topic was race day preparation. There’s always a lot of questions from people who are running the race for the first time. A lot could be answered by simply going to the website, but it was pretty obvious that there were a lot of nervous runners in the room. Just wait until they have to jump over the pit of starving velociraptors! We didn’t get out for the run until 7:15 pm. This time of year, it’s dark rather early and we had 10k to run. We banged it out like champs, but it made for a long-ass day.

Wednesday was another 6K at race pace and our last run night before race day. It was a larger group than usual. I even got to run with a friend from NB who was in town for business. Like Sunday, it was fast. Most of my group kept up. The few that fell behind were well within the normal range for a 2H finish. I know they’ll well on race day.

As we ramp up for race day, I got a lesson in the need for proper nutrition. One of my runners told me she wasn’t feeling well since we hit the 20K mark in distance two Sundays earlier. She was feeling sluggish and tired like she was running out of gas. I asked what she was eating and it seemed like okay food. Then I asked how much and how often. That’s when we hit the target. Her portions seemed rather small (I can never really tell though when it comes to vegetarian meals how many legumes equals a proper protein serving) and she was only eating three times day. On run nights, her last meal might be at lunch. I suggested she eat five times, with little mini-meals as snacks. Hopefully we caught that in time she can enjoy the race and get a result she trained for.

I’m also tapering this week which means cutting out the cross training. Translation: no Greco this week. I’m also taking next week off to recover. I’ll be hitting my anniversary during my recovery period. Not sure what I’m going to do. Maybe I’ll catch a movie … on cheap night. Haven’t had a Tuesday night free since February.

Looks like it’s going to be mostly sunny with slight chance of showers for race day. All I can say now is: bring it. I’m going to have a good run on Sunday and hope the folks I trained with these last few do so as well.

Allons-y!

The Olympics and competition

It’s been a busy week. On top of work and training, Kalin has been getting ready for a busy weekend. Her mom is visiting, along with her grandmother, a great-aunt, aunt, and a cousin.

That’s right. It’s time to meet the family. 

Pray for me.

The drought continues. We had a nice thundershower on Tuesday, but it was just that, a shower. The brief deluge subsided by the time we got through our 4K tempo run. Oddly, the humidity rolled in after the storm. It wasn’t so bad Wednesday for our 6 hill repeats. It was sunny and hot, but not terribly muggy. 

I could still feel the hills in my legs Thursday morning when I went to Greco. I may have to re-think my schedule as the hills ratchet up.

Or

I could not be an idiot and start the circuit at something other than a leg station. It was a reverse lunge off a bosu ball with a bicep curl. Probably not a smart exercise to start off with. 

That might work.

It’s that wonderful time that only comes once every four years, the Summer Olympics. Frankly, I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with the Olympics, be it the Summer or Winter. While not one for watching professional sports, I do enjoy watching amateur athletes compete. For many of them, the Olympics is the pinnacle of their sport.

Well, that’s pretty much the case for all the summer olympians except the basketball players. There’s not exactly a professional synchronized diving league. 

What I don’t like is the obscene amounts of money the IOC rakes in. Precious little goes to the athletes. I understand it’s up to the competing countries to fund their athletes, at the same time the members of the IOC live pretty high on the hog. It’s history of corruption is a matter of public record. I don’t expect athletes from rich countries, like Canada, to accept the handouts from the IOC. We have government funding. Corporations sponsor athletes. What about the poorer countries? Of the couple billion McDonald’s is shelling out to be the official food vendor of the games, how about kicking some into a grant program for athletes from developing countries. 

Or better yet, have the IOC members from those countries fly coach.

Like the rest of us.

By the way, what kind of mixed message is the Olympics sending by having McDonald’s as the official food vendor? While I’ve written somewhat favourably about MickeyD’s, or McRotten’s, healthy options before, having them as the only option at the Olympics is like having a single mother preach abstinence.

Oh, that’s Bristol Palin’s claim to fame? It’s not like Dancing with the Stars ever had actual stars. 

I love competition. Despite only be a recent convert to healthy living, in what sports I did play, I always gave it my all. This was mostly summers spent playing paintball. For some reason, paintball has yet to become an Olympic sport. There are plenty of shooting sports at the Olympic, but none where you get to shoot back. This is wrong.

I’ve missed out on my paintball the last couple of summers. Being carless in Ottawa doesn’t lend itself well to participating in a sport where the fields are out in the suburbs.

Sting. My A5 with a flatline barrel, fresh from the box. Before I added the response trigger, the double trigger, comp air kit …

Even if my gear was in Ottawa, I use a Tippmann A5 marker. It looks like a submachine gun. I may have made a few modifications to that effect. Point being, it’s not something I can take on the bus. I may be tempted to use it on some arsehole. I’d play at the Sunday walk-ons at Capital City Paintball. It would make Mondays at the office interesting. The running joke in the summer at the university where I worked was how many new bruises I had.

The great thing about walk-ons was that you would never know who would show up. Sometimes it would be a bunch of experienced players. Sometimes it would be a bunch of little kids. The little ones were the worst. They’d just hide behind a tree and spend twenty minutes trying not get shot or even take a shot. So much for Operation: Newbie Shield. 

One of my crazier moments was when the field’s manager, Bryan, and I were playing speedball on opposing teams and had separately decided to throw the other team for a loop by charging the centre. Back then, we were both big and slow. I’m happy to report that is no longer true for either of us. Back then, we relied on the range of our markers and the speed of our trigger fingers to pick players off the break and suppress the advance of the opposing team. No one would have expected either of us to charge the middle. I remember saying to my team, “I bet they’re so stunned they don’t even shoot.”

I guess Bryan had the same idea. As I charged forward, so did he. Spheres of paint zinged passed us. As we slid into opposite sides of the centre bunker, we raised our markers and fired upon each other … point blank.

Both our shots connected and broke. Bryan landed in a better position and had the drop on me. I, on the other hand, had somehow managed to grab the flag. Actually, we probably knocked it out of its hole and it happened to land on my side. The point is, it was on my side. Bryan would have to leave cover to come across to get it. So when Bryan said I got shot first and was therefore out, I replied, “Okay, see you in the deadbox.”

I ball hit the hopper of his marker before I finished the sentence.

In many sports, sometimes you sacrifice your individual position to give your team the advantage.

You can guess what I can think of the news of teams throwing matches outright so they can get an easier ride in their tournaments or avoid a trip to Scotland. This is the height of your career. You only have this chance once every four years. Bring your all or move aside for someone who will. If formerly fat me can charge through field of paint zipping past me at 300 fps, you can swing a raquet at a plastic shuttle.

In running, I only have one competitor. It’s my last finish. When I’m in queue to start with 7,000+ people, I know I’m not crossing that line first. Unless it’s a really small race, I’m probably not winning in my age category either. My only competition is myself.

He’s a bit of dick, too.

Allons-y!

Week 52 – Back in the Saddle

What a week.

Before I get started, there’s a lot of new readers to this blog. With the new year upon us, the tradition of the New Year’s Resolution has been much discussed.  Of equal discussion is the unlikelihood that the vast majority of them will be kept. Partly due to the boredom of being in the Moncton airport a full four hours before my flight to Ottawa (Thanks, Dad!), I decided to counter some of the snark with tweets of the link of the photo gallery section of the blog to some of the more famous on my Twitter feed.

As my flight was called for boarding, YouTuber Philip DeFranco sent me a nice reply and retweeted my tweet to his followers … all 248,957 followers.  When I got off the plane in Ottawa and took my phone off airplane mode, it buzzed with incoming messages and push notifications from Twitter seemingly forever. Curious, I checked the blog hits via the iPhone app. In the two hours I had been on the plane, I had over 2000 hits. My previous busiest day was 75. I’ve had more readers this week than the five and a half months this blog has been public.

Thanks, Phil.  Mega thanks.

To get new readers up to speed, I wrote a pair of posts, the cliff notes versions of how I succeeded.

So You Say You Want a Resolution – Part 1

Part 2 – With a little help from your friends

I have a third post on this theme in mind which I’ll probably get to on the weekend, once I find which Beatles tune to play with for the title.

The second half of my visit home for the holidays was pretty non-eventful. It was nice and restful, which was just what I needed. New Year’s Eve was spent at my parents’ house.  It had been freezing rain all day and, as I explained last week, I wasn’t fussy with the idea of spending $100 to go to an event before I bought my first drink. Besides, I had a run in the morning, but more on that later.

Just because I stayed in, doesn’t mean I didn’t have fun. I entertained my parents by reading them the posts I was writing to taunt my sister over Facebook. She had asked who was coming to the polar bear dip by her place. When I signalled my interest, she said I had to wear a “real” bathing suit. NO SPEEDOs. I played around for a bit before relenting. I had her so wound up, though, she called the house the next morning and asked Dad if I was coming and if was going to wear the Speedos. At that point, we knew we had done enough and let her know we were only pulling her leg.

Almost.

We were contemplating going and pulling some prank, like wearing the offending garment over a larger pair, but decided with the ice still on the majority of city roads the country roads to my sister’s would be too treacherous. Passing a van in the ditch in our neighbourhood sealed our fate.  The men of Durham don’t have to be green with envy until next year.

Race Report – Resolution Run

I, along with a hundred plus fellow Frederictonians, started 2012 off with the Resolution Run.  It’s an annual event that is hosted by the Running Room in cities where they have stores.  Ottawa’s was actually the afternoon of New Year’s Eve. It’s a rather popular event. Ottawa’s actually sold out in late October, hence my decision to stay in Fredericton for NYE so I could do the Resolution Run.  While I would have liked to have run with my clinic participants, the Ottawa run had sold out so quickly, none of them had the chance to register for their target race.

It was a little different than my previous runs. It was winter in every sense of the word. As you might guess from the shine in the photo above, the previous day’s freezing rain had rendered our starting point, the Fredericton Exhibition Grounds, into a sheet of glass.  It made for a slow, cautious start.  It was also the first run I did on city streets where the streets themselves were not closed to traffic.  Thankfully, the combination of the early hour, residential neighbourhood, and it being the morning of  New Years Day, meant we didn’t have to share the road with a lot of traffic.

One big exception:  When I rounded the Inglewood/Harewood corner on my first lap through Sunshine Gardens, the entire street was blocked by a pick-up truck and trailer which was attempting to back out of a driveway as the first wave of runners hit his street. I don’t know what, if anything, the local organizers do to notify residents of the neighbourhood we ran through, but one would think if they new that 200 people were going to be running through their street, they would have left before the appointed hour of the race’s beginning.

http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/137970121

If you click the link above, you’ll see I recorded a time of 27:22. This would be a personal best if only the Garmin had recorded a full 5K. I probably started it a little late or stopped it a little early, or both. I figure another .1 km would have been at least 8 seconds, so let’s call this 27:30 … ish. A personal best at home before I graduate to the half-marathon would have been nice. Between the terrain challenges and the effect of cold on the muscles, it’s bloody near impossible, though, to pb in the winter.

Didn’t stop me from trying.

It was warm enough that my parent’s did come out for the run. I have them to thank for the photos in this post. The temperature was in the low negative single digits.  Warm compared to the near -30 after windchill that greeted me on my return to Ottawa.

Yes, my return to Ottawa. Despite no reason to otherwise get up at such an unGodly hour, I woke up at my usual pre-unemployment time of 5:30 to hoof it to Greco. I wanted to get back into my fitness routine as soon as possible. The last thing I want is for my recent “involuntary unpaid leave” (how’s that for an euphemism) to be the the reason I go all Flowers for Algernon and regress into the man I was a year ago. That would elevate a momentary problem into a complete tragedy. I’ve signed up at GrecoLeanandFit for the next twelve months. I figure plunking down the money for the next twelve months in one fell swoop will force me to continue. I’ll sign up of the Running Room’s Half Marathon Clinic on Sunday.  The renovations to my building’s swimming pool are now complete and it re-opened while I was home for Christmas. The fitness routine is well at hand.

Of course, the title of this post suggests not just a return, but an end. This is the 52nd week of my year of not being fat anymore. Detail-oriented readers will note that I always numbered it with the beginnings of week, not the end. The end of this week will mark the end of the year long journey. Since I did have some indulgences over the holidays and did not workout as often, some I began at Greco may have been reversed. What side of 170 am I currently at? Honestly, I don’t know. I haven’t hopped on the scale since I returned to Ottawa. I want to get as much time back in my routine as possible before I report to you the final results of the journey.

I’ll certainly be continuing the blog even after the journey’s over. After all, I technically haven’t had a full year of not being fat, most of the year was spent getting to the not fat point.

That, and I really love writing. I may not be writing the next great novel, but I love writing nonetheless. You can’t complete a PhD dissertation, approximately 300 pages on some esoteric topic that only you and your committee may ultimately care about, if you don’t love to write.

The past year was really prologue.

The real adventure lays ahead.

Allons-y!

Week 51 – Home I’ll be, Part 2

Fredericton

(expletive)

I’m still in Fredericton.

Forgive the Captain Willard moment.  I’m actually enjoying my vacation back home.  It’s a much needed break from the pressure cooker that is Parliament in the weeks leading up to the Christmas break. I usually take off within a few hours of Parliament rising.  This year I waited until Monday so I could get in another Running Room clinic night and Sunday practice run with my 5K clinic. Even with a couple of days to get ready, it’s still like the scene in Spaceballs where the ship comes to an emergency stop while travelling at ludicrous speed.

My Christmas vacation usually takes three distinct phases:

Phase 1 – Prepare for Christmas. This is the aforementioned Christmas shopping.  Luggage restrictions make it impossible to get my shopping done in Ottawa.  I also like to coordinate with my sister and parents what was already purchased for the nephews.  I also knew what Santa Claus was giving them.  For the wee ones who may be reading this, I am an Agent of S.A.N.T.A. I am part of an intricate network, like Uatu the Watcher, who observes and reports to inform  the man up north’s naughty and nice list.  For all the hype I made of my dread of the mall this time of year, I ended up spending more on supplements to get me through 2 weeks at home than I did at the mall on presents. For the nephews, I actually used the Claus’ suggestion of an art set for Wes and a chemistry set for Andrew, both of which I found at a pair of stores owned by my friend, Luke Randall, Endeavours and ThinkPlay. I don’t know why I bother going to the mall as I usually end up buying the boys’ presents at Luke’s than anywhere else.

Did they like their presents? You decide:

 

There’s also the health aspect in preparing for Christmas.  As I mentioned, I have to stock up on supplies to keep nutrition plan compliant. While mom is more than happy to offer to pick some things up at the grocery store for me so it’s here when I get home, I’m loathe to give her the full list of what I need.  The good son, I am, I don’t want her running around town looking for brand X supplement when I know where to go to get the brand I want at a reasonable price. So I have her get the simple stuff that she was going to buy for the house anyway like frozen berries and yogurt and I’ll get the rest.  I still have half a jug of whey protein at home from my summer trip, but I didn’t want to brave the holiday hordes at Costco for the rest, so I went to GNC for the veggie greens, fish oil and protein bars. I spent about $150 after tax for two weeks of supplies. The leftovers will be stashed until my next visit.


Of course, no visit to Fredericton is complete without the return to the old haunts.  I made more than one stop at the Garrison District Ale House. The food there is great and they have the biggest beer menu in town. Of course, the only beer I care about this time of year is Picaroons Winter Warmer, from our local microbrewery which won the award for best brewery in Canada this year.  I lucked out this year that the Boyce Farmer’s Market is actually open twice this year during my vacation. Last year, Christmas and New Year’s both landed on Saturdays. There was a special Christmas Eve market on the Friday and then it was closed until January 7th. I flew back to Ottawa on January 2nd.

Phase 2 – Survive Christmas.  Christmas at the Read household is a three day affair.  Since my sister has a young family, we go to the early Christmas Eve mass at her parish on Fredericton’s north side, St. Theresa’s.  The competition for seats can be quite fierce, so we go early for the early mass. The tradition at St. Theresa’s is that the children bring bells  and ring them every time they say “Amen” during the mass. My ears rang for hours afterward.

After mass, we gather at my parent’s place for dinner and give my nephews their Christmas presents from us. When we got back to the house, we discovered Santa had come early for myself and my parents.  This stressed my nephews to no end. Suddenly they were scared Santa had passed over their house because they were not home in bed.  I had to download the NORAD Santa app for my iPhone to show them that he was still on his way.  I guess he delivers to employees first ;).

On the food front, I was mostly responsible.  Our Christmas Eve dinner is a smorgasbord of meat. It consists Mom’s sweet and sour meatballs, cabbage rolls, and meat pie. Dessert is a five layer blueberry tart.  I kept my portions reasonable.

I made my parents post-run Christmas morning brunch of whole wheat French toast with organic hot Italian sausage and hash browns.  The hash browns were an indulgence, but I added onions I threw in some onions that were leftover from when we barbecued steaks earlier in the week so there were veggies.

Hey, I ran 5K in -20 windchill.  I earned that brunch. http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/136307218

Christmas dinner was the traditional turkey and all the fixings. Mom cooked me some sweet potatoes along with the rest of the veggies so I was spared the simple starches of their white cousins.  My brother-in-law’s mother made the turkey. His grandmother made the stuffing, of which I had only a spoonful. My sister made dessert, a gingerbread cake with lemon sauce. I would like to say I had a only little bit of dessert, but my sister’s definition of small portion and mine are two different things.  She was the natural athlete in the family, so she can get away with it.

Phase 3 – Recover from Christmas.  The nephews can be pretty rambunctious.  They’re 9 and 6 and love to wrestle with their Uncle Michael. Andrew even brought boxing gloves to our house this morning. Since my parents thought it was a good idea for the boys to sleep over Christmas night, I was under pretty much constant assault from mid-afternoon Christmas Day until lunchtime Boxing Day. They are savage and relentless. Needless to say, I was battered and bruised and needed time to heal up. I thought the mall was going to be killer.

Andrew has developed the Read sense of humour. He drew a picture this morning of small person wearing big, red gloves hitting a larger person a little below the waistline. He handed it to me and said, “This is what I’m going to do to you.”

My response, “If you ever want to have a cousin, aim higher.”

Part of the recovery means getting back into the exercise routine that I allowed to lapse over the holiday weekend. It’s a little difficult to keep the routine of waking up at 5:00 am and walk to the gym when the gym is now 5k away along a highway with no sidewalk. I’ve gotten my usual runs in.  After posting last week’s blog on Friday, I went for a run in a snowstorm and enjoyed it immensely. http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/135991133 Sunday, Christmas Day, I went for the aforementioned morning run in -20. There is something oddly invigorating about a cold weather run.

On Wednesday, I ran with the local 5K Running Room clinic. They were MIA last week because they had the opportunity to drill with the track coach at University of New Brunswick. In a funny twist, it turns  out the instructor for the local clinic is the wife of a classmate of mine from high school. Fredericton is a very small town.  It was a cold, rainy night and  didn’t know the route, so I kept this one slow and paced myself with the group. http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/137213530

Both Mom and my sister got me guest passes to Goodlife so I could go the gym while I was home.  These were actually my first solo non-run, non-swim workouts since I started this journey and, Good Lord, working out alone is capital B Boring. I clocked some time on the elliptical to warm up and then did a couple rounds of the circuit machines. It was a good workout, but just dull. There were a lot of little things that made me miss the gang at Grecoleanandfit. They gave me a shower towel out of courtesy, but it was going to be $5 if I took out a membership. I guess Loblaws, the owners of Goodlife, take their marketing cues from crack dealers. The water fountains were on the municipal system.  If I wanted filtered water, there were plenty of Aquafina bottles for sale. There were also no spare toiletries or comb in the change room.  The water and toiletries I can understand, but paying for towels? Really? Fail. It’s not like I’m the big city guy coming to Palookaville telling the yokels how to run their business. I’m the local guy coming home and using a national chain, yet it feels like I’m slumming it.  I guess the locals at Free Form Fitness and Greco have spoiled me this year into thinking little things like towels included in your fees or can of body spray if you forget your deodorant is the way it’s supposed to be. In the end, they were free workouts and unlike the last time I was given a free pass to Goodlife, I didn’t have to go through a sales pitch every time I showed up for a workout.

Unrelated note: if your parents named you after a totalitarian dictator, it’s not shameful to have your name legally changed as an adult. It’s smart. You’ll find life a lot easier, especially if you’re in sales. Just saying.

Haven’t decided on New Year’s Eve yet. I know. It’s tomorrow. As Dave Attell would say, “There’s people who have a problem with drinking and driving. I call them cops.” New Maryland’s geographic location vis-a-vis Fredericton makes it a perfect location for the Fredericton City police to stage a New Years Eve checkpoint at the city limits and they do. Every year. This means if I want to drink the car stays home I and I cab it.  There’s a few events in town that I wouldn’t mind going to, but between tickets and cabs it’s going to be $100 before I have a drink. Oh, if I go out, there will be drinking. Given the situation that’s waiting for me back in Ottawa, that money might best be saved for other purposes like the necessities of life or my registration for my half-marathon clinic.

I’ve actually gotten out of the habit of going out on New Year’s Eve. The last few have been non-events for me.  For some reason, I usually pick up a bug and get sick. Usually it’s whatever my nephews have picked up from school.

Remember, young parents, once they hit school, they bring home more than report cards and art projects.

I figure other years, I picked it up while travelling. Last year, God, himself, struck me down for having the gall to chill out in my parents’ hot tub during a snowstorm. I was out like a light by 10 o’clock. The sound of fireworks on the television coverage of Times Square in New York woke me up and told me it was time to move from the couch to bed.

2010

I have once again tempted fate this year, hopping in almost immediately upon my return home. I event repeated this when we had a second storm. So far, I have not felt His wrath. I even smoked a cigar, a Montecristo Churchill, a going away gift from the office.

Before you ask: yes, I’m wearing a bathing suit. Get your mind out of the gutter.

BTW, how are those for before and after shots?

It seems like any plans I make for the night have had fate intervene and expectations dashed, so I will make none of the former to increase the likelihood of the latter being exceeded. Besides, I have a run in the morning. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve run hungover, but I would really like to PB on this one, even if its unofficial, since it’s the last 5K race I run for a while.

My real new year begins at the end of next week. As you can see from the title, I’m starting week 51. For those not up on math,that makes just another week before my year’s journey is complete. That will be more of cause for celebration than the arbitrary passing of a date on a calendar.

Sure, the year is not starting on the best of notes, but I intend for my coming period of unemployment to be like Hobbes’ state of nature: nasty, brutish, and, most importantly, short. I’m sure if I throw the vigour into the job search that I threw into this journey, I will be just as successful.

That written, some cutbacks will be necessary in the short term.  There’s a Beyond the Rack purchase of suits that arrived a week and a half late that will be heading back as soon as I get to the apartment. When I received an email update that it was still pending, I called and tried to cancel it but in the couple of hours between the email going out and my phone call it had arrived at the warehouse, been packed for shipping and was awaiting pick-up.

The operator gave me the good news: I was getting a free upgrade to express shipping so it would be at my apartment in Ottawa before Christmas.

Dude, I’m calling from Fredericton … New Brunswick. I won’t be back until the new year. Oh well, the ten business day return policy will not have expired by the time I get back and three federal, therefore Canada Post, holidays between then and my return will be helpful.

Until the work situation is sorted out, the clothing purchases are on hold.  I bought a little bit more athletic gear with a Running Room gift card that was a gift from my sister and brother-in-law, but that’s the final purchase for a while.  My pre-Christmas shopping trip  and late summer and early fall purchases have me well stocked for winter wear. I was tempted by some items that were 50% off at Robert Simmons, but decided against it. My suit and shirt collection is sufficient until the paycheques start rolling in. I really don’t need to worry about clothes again until summer. Pretty much everything I bought for last summer is now too big. Even the aspirational Speedos are now baggy, and I don’t mean that in a pervy way. I’ll worry about that in May.

Until then ….

Allons-y!

Week 49 – Packing

Made it through the marathon of events on Friday with my waistline intact.  The anticipated events of the day were further complicated when I arrived Friday morning and informed the Speaker’s driver has been stricken with pneumonia and unable to perform his duties.

The fill-in guy?

Me.

Not a problem. Until 5:30 when I have to leave for the Running Room for my 5K clinic.  Thankfully, another staff member was willing to stay until the Speaker wanted to leave.  Thanks, JP.

Overconsumption of alcohol  at my building’s end of year party helped in this regard.  Without going into the gory details, lets’ just say some junk didn’t stay in my digestive system long enough to be converted to fat.  Same for my post-run brown rice sushi. I’m sure if this was a routine occurence, I would be diagnosed with an eating disorder.

No worries of that happening. I don’t intend on getting that polluted for a long time.  Frankly, I didn’t intend on getting that wasted Friday either.  A quick drink became a few drinks quickly. Next thing I know, it’s 3 am.

Needless to say, Saturday was a write-off.  Other than a few errands, it was a productive day of couch surfing.

Sunday’s run helped finally lifted the fog.  There is something about running in the crisp, cold morning air of December that cures so many ailments.

I’ve been doing a lot of packing lately.  On Monday, I’m heading home for the holidays, back to New Brunswick. I’m using Porter Airlines for the first time. Flying to Moncton, where Dad will pick me up and we’ll head to Fredericton.   I have an uncle who lives near the airport, so I’m in no danger of being stranded alone if Moncton lives up to its reputation of being the buckle of the Maritimes’ snow belt that night.

It being the holidays, there are luggage restrictions: 1 piece of checked luggage, 1 carry on. Since I’ll be home for two weeks and plan to run often, including the Resolution Run on New Year’s Day, I’m going to get rather creative at packing. This is not the first time and not unique to Porter this time of year.  I stopped buying presents before I travel a long time ago.  When I lived in DC, I might buy a couple of unique Washington items for my nephews like when I bought these in my first year:

The Christmas presents from my first year in Washington, DC. 2005

Other than stuff like that, I prefer to do my shopping at home.  Less likely to get lost in transit.  My preferred method is actually online shopping. I love ordering the stuff from here in Ottawa, having it shipped to my parents’ house and have it waiting for me to wrap it.  The obvious problem is that since I don’t live at home anymore, I’m clueless as to what my nephews already have or that their parents or grandparents have already bought them.

I’m going to brave the mall of Fredericton.  By the way, Fredericton friends, is the Brookside Mall still a mall? I haven’t been there in over a decade. Everytime I arrive at the one southside mall remaining, Regent Mall, I can’t help but hear the Saint Crispin’s Day Speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V.

Yes, I equate going to the mall in the last few days of December before Christmas with girding for war.

Don’t you?

It’s not just my luggage I am packing.  It’s my office, too. On December 31st, my contract with the Honourable Noel A. Kinsella expires.  I was informed some time ago that it would not be renewed. Thus, an adventure that began in 1998 when I took his Introduction to Human Rights course at St. Thomas comes to an end.  Together, we have elected Premiers, Party Leaders, and Prime Ministers. His support has helped me complete two Masters degrees (even if the second was a technicality, I still have the diploma) and a Doctorate. Even the adventures of the past year would not have been possible without his support.

I have some job applications in queue. Hopefully, one will show fruition shortly.

Crap news aside, another 5K clinic comes to a close.  While there are two weeks left after tonight’s session, my travel plans mean I will not be able to finish with my students. It’s unfortunate, but unavoidable.  To stay would mean travelling on Christmas Eve and returning on the no later than the 9th. That was a crap shoot I was not prepared to take. Frankly, given the news in the last few paragraphs, I need more than a couple of days of hearth and home.  As it is, not knowing back in November when or if I had to be back on the job, conservatively booked my return for Januaury 3rd. I took the clinic out for a drink at the Royal Oak last night for an early end of clinic celebration.  We had some members of the Learn to Run and Half-Marathon clincs join us.  It was good night.  The walk home in the cold rain I could have done without.

As it gets closer to race day, even if it is a fun run, I get more excited.  As I’ve written previously, I’m especially excited for this one because it will be in my hometown.  My parents will finally get to see me in a race.  It’s also my last 5K race before I start the half-marathon training.  Can’t wait.

Allons-y!

Week 35 – Lessons not learned

This week’s weigh-in: 178 lbs

Weight loss to date: 58 lbs

To Goal: 8 lbs

Ugh.  Another post vacation weight gain.  As the song says, “Mother told me there’d be days like this.”

It could have been worse.  My first weigh-in on Wednesday was 180 lbs.  The same yesterday.

The difference is the shoes.  Waiting for me upon my return from vacation were the New Balance Stabilicores that I ordered from the Running Room.  They’re a good shoe, but I figured out pretty quickly that what makes them a more stable shoe also makes them a heavier shoe.  I wore my old Brooks today and that made the difference.

I have to admit to being a bit frustrated with myself.  Yes, I cheated at the beginning of the vacation. Thirty-six glorious hours of old haunts and old treats.  The major difference was new patterns.  The biggest difference was the Boyce Farmer’s Market.  Any friends who have spent time in the City of Stately Elms will know the Market is social centre of Fredericton.  More than any other place, that’s where you go to run into everyone.

Old, fat Michael would roll out of bed around 11, head down, spend about 90 minutes there.  My  food haul would consist of:

  • Kurt’s Hot Italian Sausage on a bun
  • French Italian Roast coffee from Whitney Coffee company
  • 6 hot beef samosas from Samosa Delight
  • Beef donair from Pano’s
  • 4 steak on a stick from Kang’s

I wouldn’t eat all this at once, but the sausage, steak,and donair would be eaten within a couple of hours of each other.  The samosas would most likely be consumed as a post-bar late night snack.

This time was different.  I woke up early by my old standards, 7 am.  By my new standard, 7 am is now sleeping in.  I was there by 7:30 and had my sausage.  Hung out at the coffee stand for an hour or so, before moseying about to see who else I could run into.  Ran into a few friends and acquaintances.  It was good to see them.  Bought the rest of my haul.  I had the steak three hours later.  The donair three hours after that.  The samosas were divided into mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks over the next couple of days.

As Saturday became Sunday, the cheat spree ended.  Good-bye bread and simple starches.  See you in few weeks … or months … or maybe never.  In many ways, the trip to the Market was like the backslide of romance that had run its course.  I’ve used the Casablanca analogy in a previous post.  This time, I was Ilsa and the Market was Casablanca, itself.  Don’t bother asking who Victor Lazlo is; the role hasn’t been cast.  As the clock hit midnight, though, I was like the proverbial Cinderella, home from one last visit to Wilser’s Room and off to bed to get up for my Sunday practice run.

Yes, I kept up with my running while away.  Despite the rain from Hurricane Irene, I ran with the Fredericton Running Room.  Their 5K clinic had just started, so it was a circuit of 5 and 1 times four.  Their instructor challenged her one student that braved the weather to add an extra interval.  She rose to the challenge.  I told her my own story and it seemed to motivate her to push on when she didn’t have to.

It was great to run in my hometown.  The city has paved the trail along the Green and many of the walking trails along the river since I left. I know a lot of runners don’t like this.  If I ran when I lived in Freddy Beach full-time, I would probably be with them.  I’m sure the city has its reasons, but seems like typical Ottawa-envy on the part of parks and recreation.  It even has a stripe to divide the lanes like along the Rideau Canal.

Yeah, I actually coined the term “Ottawa-envy”.  Fredericton is probably the one provincial capital that seems to want to do everything Ottawa does.  Every other capital has its own thing.  Some things Fredericton does better, like a blues festival which actually has blues acts as headliners.  Some things it does simply because Ottawa does it, like a capital commission (really? we needed that? good riddance.).  I’ll reserve judgement on paving the trails.

My runs in Cape Breton were on the gravel shoulder of the Route 4 highway where the family summer homestead lies.  Hills.  Lots of hills.  There’s a reason the province’s name translate directly from Latin to “New Scotland”.  The Read/Coleman/Gardner homestead is in a relatively low part of the highway that is surrounded by hills on all sides.  In fact, the area’s name “Ben Eoin” is Gaelic for “Ben’s Mountain”.  When you get to the plateau of one hill, you are greeted with … another hill.  Time wise, doing three 10 and 1 intervals I was still over 5 k each time and around 5:45/km.

Food wise, I mostly behaved post-cheat spree.  There were a couple of bad moves, but probably no more than had I been in Ottawa.  I did learn the lessons of the last couple of trips and prepared properly.  I drove to and from Cape Breton with nutrition plan friendly mid-morning and mid-afternoon meals.  I still had to stop for lunch, though.  I stopped each time at the Masstown Market where I got a lobster roll and chowder.  Both times, I didn’t eat the actual roll, just the lobster, and made my best effort to avoid the potatoes in the chowder, which were rather few. When served a meal where the only thing on the plate I could eat was the meat, I ate the meat. Drinking was typically gin and soda or white wine with the occasional gin gimlet or scotch thrown in the mix.  That’s right, I was in Nova Scotia and did not drink the local tap water, affectionately known as Alexander Keiths.

The lesson I didn’t learn was to be prepared for my return to Ottawa.  Could I be bothered to swing by Loblaws on the way home one night before I left to get some frozen veggies for when I got back? Nope.  Now that it’s open 24/7, I’m out of excuses. I came home again to fridge full of spoiled vegetables.  I’ve been playing catch up all week, getting just enough to get by until I get a decent grocery order in on the weekend.  I pretty much need everything.  In the interim, I’ve been picking up dinner at either Loblaws or Freshii on the way home everynight this week.  Healthy meals, but I could have made similar for less if I was better prepared.  This also caused me to over do it on a few mid-meals, such as having yogurt and berries when it called for meat and veggies because that is what I had in the fridge.   I might have been able to shed more weight than just a change of shoes if I returned to an apartment properly stocked.

I’m going to need to learn this lesson if I’m going to make it to the finish line and stay there.

Allons-y!

PS – since the lack of Internet in Ben Eoin meant no post last week, here’s a Doctor Who running montage as a treat.