Late bloomer

It’s taken me six weeks and two do-overs to really get into my couch to half-marathon training schedule.

I finally get the rhythm and rhyme of it all.  I also am pretty religious about the rest days, and as the runs get longer, my appreciation gets deeper for that 24-hour window of R&R.

The training has become a priority in my schedule. That’s a huge step.  Because otherwise, I’m pretty good at talking myself into napping, bingeing on Netflix, eating cookies, etc (everything not on the training plan).

It’s gotten to the point that if I don’t get up and get to the gym at 0600 hrs, I make sure I get there in the evening. Regardless.  And there are benefits to late night workouts.

  • If you wait until after the post-work, post-suppertime rush, there isn’t that crush of humanity over every square inch of the gym.
  • Going into the gym with only an hour or so before it closes ensure you don’t screw around and you get straight to that workout. And run fast, so you can go home.
  • You can end your workout with a soak in the hot tub, a shower and your pajamas.  Yes, your PJs. Just throw your winter coat over top… (I need a new plan for summer, tho)

Of course, I’m still running slower than most people walk, and I’m not 110 lbs (??) after sweating out every drop of water from my body over the past two months… but that’s okay.

AND I have new shooooz. A pair of Sauconys for the trail. On sale. Probably last year’s make/model/colour, but hey… I’m excited to take those out into the River Valley in the next week or so!


Pushing through barriers

Pain of overweightTotally stoked about the Week 5 (do-over) of my couch to half marathon training plan. I made every single training day – woot – and was very careful with my eating/drinking!!

Here are the highlights:

Your mind will quit 100 times before your body ever does.  Feel the pain and do it anyway.

I’ve started paying attention to when I start wanting to throw in the towel when I’m running. Most times, my breathing is okay, my legs are coping, etc. I can still run, but Brain just says, “Hey girl, you’ve already run long enough. You deserve a break.” I’m trying to push past that. It’s hard. But I’m doing it bit by bit.

After you think “Holy shit, I can’t!” Stop and think “Holy shit, I just did.”

This Saturday was my 5 miler on the treadmill.  That is a loooong way for me.  And I did it. There was walking – no doubt! But I finished it in one hour and ten minutes. And then I could go to the hot tub.  That same day, I clocked 31K steps on my FitBit. Yesssssssss.

Fitness is 20% exercise and 80% nutrition.  You can’t outrun your fork.

This week I tried to view food as fuel… tying it in with my training plan, I looked to what my body needed in order to run properly, but without adding in too many empty calories.  Everything I put in my mouth had a purpose, with the exception of two cappuccinos (with sugar!) which were a total treat.

I think I like who I am becoming.

I’m the first to admit that I latch on to something, do it for a while, accomplish a few goals, then move on.  I’d like to think that my “project fitness 2014” is a little more than that.  It’s nice to feel proud of myself, and to be healthier.

Here’s to starting Week 6 of half-marathon training!

Mental fatigue & other mind games

It’s all in your head.

But really, it truly is.

I’m stuck at 3 miles. I struggled pitifully the other week to complete my 4 mile run in my Week 4 training regime. Last week was a write off, so I’m on a Week 5 do-over*, which holds a 5 mile run for me on Saturday.

Five miles? Yeah…right.

With that coming up, today’s easy run of 3 miles should have been a breeze, right? Nope. Worst, annoying, awful 3 miles ever. And nooo, it wasn’t the 5 (6? 7?) pints of Guinness from St. Paddy’s Day slowing me down…

It started with the chick on the treadmill to the left – watching TV and LAUGHING AT EVERYTHING. I hated her. I was busy being a martyr over on treadmill #2 and she had the audacity to run and laugh at the same time. On my right, I had Olivia Newton John doing some sort of Prancercise on her treadmill. WTF?

Then I couldn’t run for long without being tired. But I wasn’t sure if I was truly physically fatigued or just bummed out. It is always easier to walk. And because I seemed to recover awfully quickly, I knew I probably didn’t need to stop quite so much.

I finished up a sweaty, grouchy mess, and stomped home thinking how I was gonna blog about this crap run. Then I kind of stopped, because all I do is bitch, moan and whinge on this blog. Instead, I tried to think of HAPPY THINGS I could share… and then I clued in.

I ran/walked that horrible 3 miles in 40 minutes and 52 seconds. I’ve never done 3 miles in less than 43 minutes. THAT’S, like, TWO WHOLE MINUTES GONE, FOLKS!  (Hahahaaa proud mama to those baby steps)


So, back to the mental thing.  Brain and I are going to work on these games:

  • Distraction.  DON’T let the weirdos get you down.  If you skip your morning workout and go at 7:00 pm when everyone and their prancing ponies are at the gym..then YEAH, you will have to avoid distraction. Be calm, focus…and run. Get into the rhythm and stick to it.
  • Field of dreams.  See it, build it, and Kevin Costner will appear in your corn field.  Or something like that.  Point is… visualize the end product.  Finishing the mile, finishing the run, finishing Kevin Costner in your backyard.
  • Always look on the bright side.  You CAN be a lumberjack.  You CAN complete this run today.  There’s no room for Negative Nellys in your head while you are on the move. Don’t dream of clothes-lining the Prancercise girl on the treadmill next to you…keep that inner monologue positive as you run.
  • Be a goal-getter.  Set little goals: the next 5 minutes, the next lamppost, etc. Whatever it takes to keep moving. During that 40 minute run you could be like, a WINNER thirty times. Fabulous!

Let’s see if I can put this into practice and kick it this week, ending in that glorious 5-miler on Saturday. Boo-ya.

*BTW, this is my last do-over for my 14-week couch-to-half-marathon training plan…I’m down to the wire on the exact training schedule. Do or die, man. Do or die.

Come for the view, stay for the sweat

Drop-in spin classes at the Commonwealth Community Centre pretty much made me want to cry.

I chose to go to spin because it’s supposed to be a beneficial, low-impact cross-training activity for runners. I thought perhaps I could get a nice sweaty workout that also let me brush up on the latest house music.  My city membership has spin class options almost every day.

To top it off, Studio 3 features a double row of spin bikes facing floor-to-ceiling windows which open up onto the Commonwealth Stadium’s field, home of the Edmonton Eskimos. Best seats in the house!*  Sooo, why not?

Well, five minutes in, droplets were rolling off my forehead and plopping on the mat below my bike. Seventeen minutes in, sweat was pooling in my glasses frames. Thirty-seven minutes in, I could no longer feel my ass.

The need to cry came because unlike other group classes I’d taken, I was strapped to a machine with no respite. There was no water sipping, shaking out cramps, catching of breath, etc.   This spin class also didn’t have the camaraderie of Zumba or the strength classes I’d attended at Commonwealth, it was a very singular feeling.  I just had to keep pedalling. Pedalling alone.  Pedalling until it was over.

The Saturday morning instructor, thankfully, had beginner options for the newbies. She had two personalities: the seasoned spinners got a drill sergeant, while the new kids on the bikes got, like, Penny the dance instructor from Dirty Dancing.

Her words of encouragement were all, “You are STRONG! You are POWERFUL! You can DO THIS!” (She shouted a lot).  She also made it clear she didn’t want to scare away any newcomers…

Spin is a good workout, and I’m just a wimp.  I’m sure there’s no crying in spin.  I’ll go back, but only once a week.

*Mind you – on game days these classes aren’t on.

CRAFT Beer Market – nacho test: fail

For a bar that offers more than 100 kinds of beer on tap, starting with nachos was a given. Nachos are a gateway dish, a staple for most brewski-serving establishments, and when this item isn’t up to snuff you must seriously ponder the bar’s dedication to…well…humanity.

We landed at the bustling Craft Beer Market on a late Wednesday afternoon. Every table in the house was packed with suits getting in a drink before the commute home. With the option of a 45-minute wait for the dining room or squeezing in at the free-for-all that was the bar, we chose the latter.

Perched on bar stools with a fantastic view of every tap in the house – not to mention the spacious interior of the place – the barkeep informed us that all Alberta beer was $5 a pint, and wings were half price. Sold. Ordered up a Trad and a Capital City Lager, with nachos ($18) and wings ($13).

The nachos get A+ for presentation. It’s one of those platters – on a Big Rock keg top – marched out of the kitchen and held high by servers then placed with a flourish amidst excited expletives from customers who’d already downed a pint or two.

Upon closer inspection, however, the nachos only disappointed: about three handfuls of triangular white corn chips topped with chopped green onion, four slices of fresh jalapeño and some oddly melted cheese, with sour cream and a house-made chunky salsa on the side. Naked nachos, man. And to boot, the cheese was a little weird. Industrial orange cheddar mixed with something else, either baked too long or a bit off. Now, having said that, we did eat them. (Beer makes everything better.)

The barkeep insisted that the wings on “Wing Wednesday” were decent, being a good size as opposed to many other places that saved the tiny wings for cheap wing night. The only trick being that the Craft specialty wings were not half price, just the regular ones, ie. Hot. The wings were decent, but stay tuned for a follow up when we bring our wing expert, Garski, to suss it out.  So yes, we will return for more recon.

Craft’s take on food is “New North American Classic Cuisine” – which, according to the propaganda, means “an elevated and sophisticated twist on traditional comfort foods.” Once the drinks crowd had headed home, we saw much more food zooming out of the kitchen for those who’d come to eat. The portions were compact and colourful, using plenty of fresh ingredients. I just wish the nachos had been a little more substantial rather than being all about showmanship.

Overall, Craft is a fun place to drink and catch up with friends, and say, oh, plan a training program for a half marathon.  The beer will make you commit.

Sidenote I: A big holla goes out to Craft for its downtown hot spot. The cavernous venue fills to the brim with happy drinkers AND in the nicer weather there is a rooftop patio!

Sidenote II: The servers were chatty, friendly and very efficient, with solid product knowledge. The beer taps rotate so that if this becomes your local, then you won’t get bored by the offerings.

Sidenote III: The barkeep finished his shift and sat down a few seats over for his dinner. He chose the Mac & Cheese.

Celebrity sighting: We suspect one of the bartenders was on Big Brother Canada.

CRAFT Beer Market
10013-101A Avenue, Edmonton, AB T5J 0R6
(780) 424-BEER

Packrat Louie Kitchen & Bar‎ on Urbanspoon

Four! Four miles! Bahhahahhahaa.

This week’s half marathon training plan required a four mile easy run. Easy Run. ER.

The jury is still out on what my easy run consists of. None of my running is easy. I never fall into that category unless I’m walking, and then I kinda don’t feel like I’m running.

As you know, I’m on the WEEK 4 do-over in training for THE BIG RUN. Week 4 is supposed to look like this:

Monday:  Rest
Tuesday: ER 2 miles + ST
Wednesday:  XT 30 min
Thursday: ER 3 miles
Friday:  Rest
Saturday: ER 4 miles
Sunday: W 3 miles

Well. Count ’em. FOUR MILES.  It was the worst four miles of my life.  SO HARD.

I went into it thinking I could just do a slow but steady (aka no walking) four miles.  I guess I thought with all this training I’d be ready.  I was so not ready.

The first two miles I did 10/1, and then I slipped into 4/2 for mile three.  The last mile (the big number four) actually was a little stronger.  But I was cooked. Done like dinner.  Awful awful awful.

When I slow down to try and “easy run” the backs of my legs feel so exhausted. Running a little faster makes my legs feel better but then my heart rate skyrockets. I don’t seem to have much of a middle ground.

So – wrapping up week four, do I promote myself to week five (a modified week five??) or do I go for round three of this set again. Siiiigggghhh.

If you really want something, you will find a way. If you don’t, you will find an excuse.

Packrat Louie – skip the dinnertime entrées

Stay for the appetizers but skip the entrées. Packrat Louie is suffering an identity crisis on price point and wow factor when it comes to towing the line as a fine dining establishment for dinner.

Each appetizer was an absolute hit for our table of four. The jumbo Prawns Louie wrapped in proscuitto ($17), the Duck Carpaccio ($14), the Pan Seared Calamari ($13), and the panko-crusted Crab Cake ($13) – each artfully presented with a delightful balance of flavour and texture. My crab cake was a stocky little fellow with a crispy crust and rich blue crab filling, all adorned with crunchy pea shoots. Delicious and just enough to satisfy.

This is where we should have all stopped, had dessert and called it a night. Instead, we went on to our entrees which were disappointing after the tease of those dandy appetizers. We chose the Scallops & Prawns ($32), Rack of Venison ($40), Alberta Whitefish ($26) and the Arctic Char ($28). The food was simple and seasoned properly, but it lacked zing, zip, surprise, and “oh my God, you have to taste this!” For the price tag, I wanted to experience a total wow factor.

Packrat has a standard dessert menu of toffee, lemon, chocolate, carrot and a daily special crème brulée for $8 a piece. All nicely executed, with one stand alone worth mentioning: the Toblerone Chocolate Marquis topped by house-made sponge toffee. The dense mousse slab will melt the heart of chocolate lovers and is nicely chased by the lemon tart (but don’t bother with the shortbread crust on that one).

A step away from trendy Whyte Ave, Packrat wins with their fashionable brick walls and mandatory open kitchen concept. I thought the use of wine corks in décor had come and gone, but that’s easily forgivable. The hostesses are charming, the servers, satisfactory. The place is a bit drafty, especially if you’re seated alongside a window, and the weather happens to dip to -25 C. The kraft paper covering the more formal table cloths is a twist, and serves as receptacle for the dessert menu “stamp” the server brings at the end of the night.

Side note I: The zippy olive tapenade that came with my whitefish would have been a welcome offer with the bread basket over the typical garlic butter.

Side note II: Packrat’s pull away from fine dining includes the pizza section of their dinner menu. Granted, the pizzas are wood-fired and read absolutely scrumptiously on the menu, but if you arrived for “fine dining” for say, a dinner with your boss and clients – would you choose pizza? Perhaps this is their tagline claim of fine dining – redefined?

Side note III: Packrat’s servers and chefs are incredibly accommodating to substitutions and dietary requests. If you know their menu well you can switch up your side dishes for all of your favourites at the blink of an eye and with no extra costs.

Celebrity sighting: Jennifer Crosby from the morning news on Global Edmonton.

Curious as to the fine dining conundrum (it just doesn’t fit) I checked out their lunch menu online. There’s a menu that makes sense, and should be transferred – prices included – to dinner time. Wish I would’ve come for lunch instead.  End message, Packrat, don’t take yourself too seriously with your redefinition of fine.

Packrat Louie
10335 83 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T6E 5C3
(780) 433-0123

Packrat Louie Kitchen & Bar‎ on Urbanspoon