The American Calgarian

Tales of a Midwesterner transplanted in Western Canada

Archive for the tag “Calgary”

Mother’s Day Run

This is a race that I have been looking forward to for a couple of months. It is a big deal in Calgary, with over 25,000 people participating in either a 10k run, 5k run, or 5k walk. An added bonus is that, for the 3rd year in a row, Jaybird will join me at the start line. While this is her third 5k race, it is special. First, its Mother’s Day and I am enjoying something I love with my daughter. Second, this race benefits the Calgary Health Trust Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, (NICU). Jaybird called another NICU home for the first 9 weeks of her life, so this cause is near and dear to our hearts.

We arrived early to meet some folks from our team. You can read Cori’s race review here. I was hoping to meet up with another running friend, but missed her.. next time. In any case, you can read Michelle’s race review as well, (she did the 10k). Jaybird asked a few times why we had to be there so early. I just told her that its a big crowd and that we want to be sure that we are not rushed. I spared her stories of arriving at start lines about 4am to be sure that the day starts off as smoothly as possible.

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The start was a bit of a mosh pit, though we were front and center to see the wheelchair race start out. When we saw that we would not be able to get inside the starting corral until well after the starting gun, we jumped the fence to squeeze in. We talked a bit about pace and water and how to navigate the crowd. Just in case of something completely weird, we also set up a meeting place. The time arrived to start and we were off! We kept up with the crowd, headed out of the mall parking lot and into the residential area nearby. A huge sign stating “We Love Mom!” greeted everyone as we headed up the hill. The woman next to us called out to the 20-something man sitting on the deck, “I love your sign! Great job!” He nodded back and smiled.

As we approached a kilometer marker I gasped and teared up a little. As I noted above, this run benefits the NICU and there was a donation bucket along with pictures of fragile premature babies along the route. Once upon a time, that was the girl who was running along beside me. I looked at her, asked her how she was doing and requested we slow down. I meant our running pace was a little fast, but I think there may have been a subconscious voice in there begging her to slow down in every way possible.

We walked through the water station at the half way point. We took stock of our pace and decided that we may have started out a little fast. When we began running again it was at a more practical pace. The course was well-marked and festive. All races have a diverse crowd of participants but this one had a different feel. There were families walking and running together, sometimes up to 4 generations. Spectators lined the course; clapping volunteers were everywhere. When we approached the finish line I heard a man say to his kids, “Mom crosses the finish line first. This is her day.” My heart swelled.

DSC02134Jaybird asked if we could sprint the last 200 meters, (she always does that), but the crowd was too thick for us to race to the finish. We crossed the finish line hand in hand. She was a little bummed out that no medals were awarded, so I called upon a friend and fellow Mom, Brenda Ster, for help. Brenda created a locket for Jaybird appropriate for the occasion. I presented it to her as we munched on fruit, yogurt and chocolate milk provided at the finish line. She smiled and reached out for a hug, loving her new necklace. (If you would like see all the cool stuff Brenda can do, please see her website.) DSC02136

We arrived home to much fanfare with the boys and my husband working like crazy in a flowery kitchen. A Mother’s Day brunch befitting the Queen awaited me, wrapping up a terrific Mother’s Day morning.

Happy Mother’s Day to all those moms out there, (especially mine).

If you would like to support Jaybird and other premature babies like her, please see these links to the NICU in Alberta and the NICU in Milwaukee, WI, where she was cared for by some of the best physicians and nurses on the planet.

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Independence Day

It’s Fourth of July weekend. The time of year when we load our kids into the minivan and park on the side of the road on top of a hill and wait for the small towns around us to start their fireworks. By the end of the displays, our necks hurt from straining from side to side to see all the different firework shows. We are up late, running around, celebrating Independence Day.

It’s the time of the year when the backyard neighbors see our fire pit going and come down the hill with a pitcher of margaritas and glasses. Again, our kids play inside and out while we enjoy each other’s company over a fire, drinks and finger foods. Its nice out, cool in the evening and warm and sunny during the day. There are parades through every downtown with people sporting red, white and blue outfits. There are marching bands, (once upon a time I was in a marching band.. loved it), loud bands, signs of patriotism everywhere. Every evening the noise of fireworks interrupts our sleep and the smell of burnt fuses is in the in the smoky air.

It’s the time of year when grandparents, family and friends come over and we grill dinners. We have fruit salads, vegetable salads and pasta salads followed by icey-pops and frozen custard. We are a mess of sunscreen, mosquito repellant and sweat. It is summer in Wisconsin and it is a great time of year. We relax by lakes, relive years gone by and reflect on how lucky we are to live in a free country. Of course, we give thanks for those that fought to make it so.

I still live in a free country, but this year there is only red and white. The stars and stripes have been replaced by a maple leaf. If you are saying to yourself, “Man, she seems homesick,” you are right. I love our home in Canada and feel very thankful to be close to the mountains, living in a great country with terrific people. But it is not home. Not yet, anyway.

We attended the festivities for Canada Day this week, as it is a national holiday here as well. It did not disappoint. The sun was shining, there many areas for people to hang out eat, try on cowboy hats or whatever. I was an arm’s length from Naheed Nenshi, Mayor of Calgary. Really, I was. I wish I had the camera ready. He gave a little speech that made my homesickness go away.

He talked of Canadian independence. He talked of being thankful to live in a free country. But what hit home for me was his talk of the Canadian tradition to welcome people from all over the world into this great country. To show that all are welcome here. It made me smile. So, although this started as a self-pitying post about my longing to celebrate the 4th of July with American friends in the great state of Wisconsin, I am finishing by saying that I am a lucky woman. I am a citizen of the United States and while we may not get everything right and our foreign policy may be a little off at times, (our domestic policy can be way off, too, come to think of it), I still believe in us. I believe that we can do great things and that despite the challenges the US faces, we are still one of the best games in town. I am also lucky because I live in a country that welcomes newcomers and is doing and capable of doing great things, albeit more quietly and politely than their southern neighbors.

So this week, no matter if you are celebrating Canadian independence, The United States’ independence, or are lucky enough to celebrate both, I urge you to take a moment.  Breathe it all in, look around you and count blessings.  My guess (and my hope) is that you will have too many to count.

Mid’s Birthday

How did this baby boy get so big?

Its happening.  My children are growing older, smarter, funnier, more independent..  at times it takes my breath away.

Recently Mid celebrated his 9th birthday.  We invited of few of his friends to Calaway Park in Calgary.  It was a really nice day.  I am thankful for the friends Mid has made and the boys that were at his party; such nice kids.  Some of the parents stuck around, which was terrific.  They were an extra set of hands and eyes as our merry little troop navigated the rides.

So, nine years ago today, JB and I got up out of bed, took Girl to day care and informed her that when her dad came to pick her up later that day, she would be a big sister.   Worth noting, due to complications from my pregnancy with her, I had to have a C-section and it was scheduled for Tuesday morning.  It was a bit weird to pick my son’s birthdate, but as a Type A German, it was also nice to be able to plan for his arrival.  So after dropping Girl at day care, we were off to check into the hospital.  At the time, my parents lived about an hour away.  We told them they did not have to come, that we would call them when Mid was born, but they showed up anyway.  Its kind of cute how my parents try to be all cool and together when exciting stuff is happening in our family and they just have to be part of it.  Anyway… my parents were there.

Over the past nine years, Mid has challenged me in ways that his older sister has not.  He climbed through the kitchen cabinets.  He bull-rushed the baby gate to keep him safe from falling down the stairs.  He threw tantrums.  Every now and then, he looks at me, hugs me and tells me, ever so tenderly, “you are the best mom I’ve ever had”, giggles and runs off.  I have not been allowed to hold his hand or kiss him in public for two years.  *sigh*

I am getting all misty again, so back to the party.  Mid decided that he had enough stuff, so we had a food drive.  He asked that his friends bring items for the food pantry in place of bringing presents.  Super proud of him for that.  And a bit relieved, because I really don’t want to figure out how to cram more beeping plastic into our house.  But I digress.

 

Highlights of the day were the many rides the boys went on throughout the park.   On the first ride someone let it slip that there was a birthday boy present.  The attendant stopped everything and had all those within earshot sing “Happy Birthday” to Mid.  He was embarrassed.  And by that, I mean he loved it.  Apprentice went on his first roller coaster, no doubt influenced by his longing to do anything/everything his brother does.  My daughter brought a friend, so not to be surrounded by boys – ick! – all day.  They had a blast doing their own thing.  At last, the time came for brownies and snacks.   Like starving wolves, the boys descended on the picnic table to pick up snacks and juice.  Silly me, I brought napkins and forks.  When the feeding frenzy was over, so was the party and the brownies I had lovingly prepared, (with the help of a box mix labeled “Ghirardelli”, don’t judge), had disappeared.  A most satisfying day.

Today I am thankful for the second of my children.  Happy Birthday!

mmm… birthday ice cream…

Race Day Review

“There will come a day when I can no longer run marathons.  Today is not that day.”

I saw the picture on a friends Facebook wall a couple of days before running the Calgary Marathon and it stuck with me, though during the race it needed to be switched over to a more positive tone.   My mantras on race day were as follows, repeated in no specific order –

Just keep swimming.

Today is MY day.

This is fun!

So a few days after the race, my soreness is gone, yet I am still high as a kite.  To answer the question I get asked by non-runners, “Is there such a thing as runner’s high?”  YES, hell YES.

Back to Sunday for a little race report..

Alarm goes off at 4:30AM.  I snooze it, only to be awakened by the second alarm I set for 4:32AM.  I swear and get out of bed.  The night before I had carefully planned my check bag, running gear, written myself little reminders and piled my running outfit in order of how it gets put on, (so as to not have to turn on lights and wake up JB, thoughtful, right?)  After dressing, I went downstairs for the usual breakfast on the morning of a long run.  Bowl of oatmeal, two pieces of toast, apple juice and a banana.

5AMish – pull out of the garage, head to the train station.  I had signed the “Green Pledge” with the marathon.  I agreed to take public transit to/from the event, would carry my own water and nutrition and whatever I carried in, I would also carry out.  Totally easy.  Actually, carrying my own water and nutrition worked in my favor.

5:15AMish – get on train. Now, as many know, (thanks Jim), I am not a morning person.  I don’t like talking with anyone until I have had a run or coffee or both. It’s not like I am mean or anything, I just like things quiet.  I was quite lucky that the woman who sat next to me talked the entire friggin way to the stop for the race.  The whole way.  It was 35 minutes of listening to this woman go on about her half marathon races and triathlons and how she hated to run but needs to as part of her tri training and blah blah..  I was thinking seriously bad things.  I did not want to engage in conversation, which proved difficult, because true to Canadian form, she was so NICE.  Ugh.

6AM – arrive at Calgary Stampede grounds, go inside building.  It was a little cold outside; I could almost see my breath.  I couldn’t resist crossing the building and walking outside to see the finish line.  Returning inside, I was pleased to see many of the people who I have been training with over the last few months.  We chatted, checked our bags and waited.  BTW, I would be remiss if I did not mention that the bag check was terrific.  Highly efficient and convenient.  The first of many good things done by the volunteers on race day.

6:50AM – time to line up at the start line.  We made our way to the starting area and seeded ourselves appropriately.  What does that mean?  As a runner, you have an idea as to your finish time.  You find the pace bunny with that time on their sign and you line up in their general area.  Our training group had a plan as to where we would line up.  We would start together, but more than likely not finish together.  Another word of advice for newbie runners – training with a group is definitely beneficial, but have “the talk” before race day about your individual race goals and plan to run alone.  Our little group had decided that although we were starting together, we would each run our own race and may not finish together.  As it turned out, we did not.

7AM – GO TIME!  The rest is such a blur.  So here are some highlights.

I love Calgary.  The route went through some beautiful areas and I tried to make mental notes of where I was all the time.  Mostly because I saw a house for sale or a restaurant or something, but the city is just beautiful.  I enjoyed the scenery.

Best signs – “My Mom is faster than your Mom”, “I like your stamina, CALL ME”, and toward the end, ala Ryan Gosling, “Hey, Girl, I am at the finish line waiting for you.  And I lost my shirt.”  I also took advantage of every “Official High Five Station”.  It is so fun to run a race and have children hold our their hands for a high-five.  I tried to thank the police officers and volunteers along the course that held traffic for us and generally cheered us on.  As an aside, why are all the Calgary Police Officers so good-looking?

I had asked JB to be anywhere after the 34K marker as this is when I thought I would need his encouragement.   Funny story, as told from my husband’s point of view..

We (JB and my 2 boys) took the train to downtown so to be close to the 35K marker.  Arrived at our preferred vantage point a minute before the pace bunny Erika had told us she would start with approached.  SCORE!  Pace bunny and group passes, no Erika.  I told the boys to be patient, that perhaps Mom fell back a little and was with the next pace group.  Next pace group comes and goes.  No Erika.  I then told the boys that we had to run back to the train station and get to the finish line/Stampede Grandstand area as we missed Mom.  This was either really good, meaning she was ahead of her anticipated pace, or really bad.. didn’t want to think about nor tell the boys about worst case scenario.  We ran to the train station and arrived in the Grandstand area near the finish line just in time to hear it announced that Erika was coming into the finish.  Luckily, we were right at the finish line to watch her come in.

Okay, back to me.  I felt great almost the entire run.  I had checked my pace band several times, consistently in front of where I wanted to be.  This was scary and exhilarating all at the same time. About the 40K marker, my feet started to feel heavy, like I had lead in my shoes.  I welcomed the uneasiness and gave myself one final pep talk.  My plan was to do 10/1 intervals, run for 10 minutes, walk for 1 minute, and this kept my legs going and my breathing steady.  I stuck to the plan of taking a hit of nutrition and water on each walk break.  Huge fan of the 10/1 intervals.

Upon hearing my name being announced at the Stampede Grandstand, I had to take a deep breath and my eyes watered.  There is something about running into a grandstand with people cheering and feeling great that just kind of gets to you.  As adults, we don’t get many opportunities to work toward a goal and see the culmination of our efforts with a big event and celebration at the goal’s completion.  Think about it.  As kids, we have piano or dance lessons, which result in a recital.  We have sports practices that result in games, tournaments and trophies.  As adults in the workforce, we work hard on projects for promotions and accolades, and at the completion of those tasks we are rewarded with.. more work.  Perhaps the promotion and accolades as well, and those or both really good things, but there is new work that comes with it.  Sorry, I got off topic.

Anyway…  Luckily I composed myself enough for this picture, taken by JB as I came through the corral after receiving my medal.

It was a great day for many people.  I am so thankful for the running group and new friends I have made through training for this event.  I will be back!

One my favorite running quotes.. “It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not the beat the other runners.  Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.” – George Sheehan

Never quit, my friends, never quit.

The Big Question

The last few clinics have been about strategy for the upcoming Calgary Marathon.  At this point, as any marathoner knows, physically, we are pretty well-tuned.  We have run miles and miles and miles.  Now, it’s all in our head.

So, the question becomes..  Why am I doing this?

It’s a good question.  And one every runner must answer prior to lining up at the start line.  Trust me, you do not want to be searching for meaning at mile 23 on a marathon course.  You will cry.  You will possibly walk off the course and quit.  Good advice I received from marathoners prior to my first race and now I am passing it on.. know why you are out there.

A little background..  I got started in this marathon thing thinking that it was a “bucket list” item.  I imagined JB and I sitting around when we are old, listening our smartypants grandchildren going on about their accomplishments, when their mother/father says to them,  “you know, your grandmother ran a marathon.”  They will immediately bow at my feet, ooing and aahing, in awe of my prowess.  And then ask how I got so old.  So that ridiculous daydream, inspired by a Chicago Marathon poster on Michigan Avenue, is how it started.  From there, I met Jennifer.  She had a marathon medal and some pictures in her “office” ( I put office in quotes because it was really a tiny cubicle only befitting a Skinner mouse) and I asked what they were all about.  Jennifer proceeded to tell me about The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Team In Training and the marathon training program.  It sounded like a good charity, good program, so I looked into it.  But I wasn’t quite ready.  At that time, I had never run more than a 5k and truth be told, it had been awhile.  Jennifer suggested a half marathon in Madison and handed me a training program. We trained and ran the Madison Half Marathon in spring 2009.  After completion of my first half-marathon I was hooked.

I proceeded to run two marathons with Team In Training.  The fundraising for cancer research and patients was rewarding, as were the friendships that came out of training for those races.  When we moved to Calgary last fall I continued to run and exercise.  I wanted to run a spring marathon, but did not know where to start.  Also, training can get lonely.  So I took my own advice and reached out, enrolled in a “new school” and made some new friends through the Running Room.

Back to the recent clinic and the issue at hand.  Why am I doing this?  I have been pondering the question a bit during my solo runs.  Here is what I have..

1. I am running for me.  This sounds selfish and I say it a little sheepishly.  I have run for charity and felt great about it, but this time it’s just me.  I have a finish time goal in mind and it is a number that has been on my mind for about a year.

2. I am running for my family.  I would simply not be able to do all the training, etc, if not for the support I receive from JB and my kids.  I miss weekend breakfasts, stretch while I help them with homework and they always are there to listen to my running stories.  The kids are even willing to help me roll out my legs when needed, (for the going rate of $0.25 each).  So I also run with thankfulness for JB and our kids, my parents and parents-in-law and all those in my family that support me through this masochist adventure.

3. I run for a lot of friends.. some listed here.  Jennifer, who first told me I could run a marathon.  Mike, who probably thought I would not take him up on an offer to be a running partner when the mileage got upwards of obnoxious.  Seth, who is running his first full marathon on the same day as me, though a country and time zone away.  In my mind, I will be running with him.  Rick, who I roped into a couple of half marathons and is running his first marathon this spring.  Lisa, a friend from long ago.  Her mom told my mom that she started running after seeing that I had done it, (we are from Lake Wobegon :)).  She is running her first half marathon this spring and I am proud of her.  For so many other running buddies.  Jess, Dione, Dano, Lori, Captain Efficiency, Mike, Dayo, Paul..  Other friends that, while not runners, are stronger than I can imagine.  Lisa, who is battling brain cancer.  Cheryl, who is battling breast cancer.  Leslie, who battled and WON the battle against breast cancer.  All the other folks fighting battles that make the fatigue/soreness/delirium we face at mile 23 seem so insignificant.

Five days and counting.  I would say that this will be my last marathon, but who am I kidding?

Bring on the Taper!

Saturday brought snow to Calgary.  Soccer games were canceled.  I made soup.  It was an inside day.  Which made me antsy, because of what was on the schedule for Sunday.  Sunday (today) was IT.  Weather forecasters talked of a great spring day today.  I hoped and prayed for a nice day.  Thankfully, the weather forecasters were spot on.

Any marathoner knows the run.  The longest run of training.  The last run before the taper. For our group, it was 34 kilometers from our usual training spot to a park, where we would complete the run and congratulate ourselves on doing so with homemade treats.  I was psyched.  I feel really good this training cycle.  The usual aches and soreness, but nothing major.  It’s hard to believe my spring marathon is only three weeks away.  Where did the winter go?

Three week taper?  I do a doublecheck.   I am accustomed to a two-week taper and this program calls for three weeks.  Hmmm..

My short runs have been great.  They’ve been fast (for me), a slightly uncomfortable pace a little quicker than race pace.  It has built some confidence in my legs that, if pushed, I can go a little faster for a little longer.

So, the run.  Our group started out on the trail in the usual manner.  It was a brisk, clear morning.  The sky seemed to promise good things, though.  As I should be, I was a little chilly at the start (and don’t make fun of me for always being cold, everyone was a little chilly at the start).  We started off north along the reservoir.  Around “the res” is always windy.  We usually joke about it and just brace ourselves.  Since training started in February, I have experienced both windburn and sunburn this training cycle, both from running around the reservoir.  True to form, once we head away from the water I have not a clue as to where we are.  Coming home to upload my Garmin is always a treat, as I take a look at the area of town that I just explored.  In any case, we followed the river, winding north to City Centre and then turning west.  The first part of a long run is always jovial, we recap our weeks and talk about how we recovered from the previous week’s long run.

We even felt playful enough to alter our plan a bit, adding a little distance, to run over the Peace Bridge.  The Peace Bridge in Calgary, a beautiful structure designed by Santiago Calatrava, is for bicycles and people only.  Consistent with what I learned from Calatrava’s project in Milwaukee, (The Art Museum), the Peace Bridge was over-budget and opened behind schedule.  The conversation about whether we should run over it brought political debate (it’s a hot topic in Calgary) and our pace quickened.  Thank goodness for a leader reminding us (almost constantly) to RELAX.  We stopped for brief group photo at the bridge and continued.  I am glad we made the little change to run over it.  It was a fun little diversion during a long run.

About the half way point, the conversation seems to naturally turn one of two ways..  food or sex.  Since it was decided that it was too early into our run to talk about food, well..  you get the idea.  I don’t think this conversation needs to be revisited.  Again, our pace quickened and we had to be reigned in to keep a slow steady pace.  Funny how there are always three things to get the juices and conversation going.. politics, food, sex.

Closing in on the end of the run, we started to talk about food.  I imagined my energy gels as cheeseburgers and another spoke of cinnamon buns.  Pace quickens.  We are slowed.  Do you see a pattern here?

At the end of the run, I let out a cheer.  Our group shared treats made (or bought) with love.  JB brought me a cup of coffee, (isn’t he great?) and I enjoyed a stretch in the park while the kids played at the playground.  It was a good day.

I am ready.  Bring it.

March Madness!

This week’s bundle of thankfulness…

It’s that time of year, people.. basketball, basketball and more basketball.. only, I live in Canada.  Coverage of the NCAA tournament needs to compete with hockey, so this week, I am especially grateful for the fact that I get some US stations.  We have been able to watch the “big dance” just like the US, only without the benefit of hearing our neighbors cheering through open windows.

I love a good NCAA bracket pool.  My daughter and I filled out brackets for a little group; no money is involved, just for fun, glory and bragging rights.  It reminds us that there are other colleges out there and its fun to cheer for teams that you have to google to figure out where in the US they are located.

I wrote about how my children are a constant source of entertainment this week..  unfortunately, we did not catch a leprechaun this year, but I am pleased that my boys have decided that they will be working on their plans to be sure that little green man does not get by them next year.  Now, (I think), they know this is all poppycock, but it sure is fun to watch them try to solve a problem they know darn well there is no answer to..

We have new neighbors and the Apprentice has a new friend!  Also thankful for new friends..

The weather is getting warmer and the sun is out later (thank you, daylight savings time), though the mountains are still getting snow dumped upon them.  This, my friends, is a win-win scenario.  I will be hitting the slopes in the very near future.  Can you see me smiling?

Gratitude in the Cold

Its been a crazy week, with Monday being a holiday and all, but much to report..

I could not believe it myself.  This week I received a call from school to let me know that Mid had won an award for his behavior this past month.  Every month a child (or children) from each class are awarded for Respectful, Responsible, Safe and Praise-ful (is that a word?) behavior.  Mid was one of three in his class to be recognized this month.  I am proud of him for displaying this behavior for many reasons, but mostly because of our three kids, he had the hardest time adjusting to our new home.  He said he was not terribly excited about this award, but through his actions if was plain to see that it meant a lot to him.

Saturday night JB offered to make dinner and I was not about to turn that down.  It was nice to sit, visit with him and enjoy a glass of Pinot Noir while he cooked dinner.

My cousin Seth had a birthday this past week and I am grateful to have him in our family.  Although my mother will tell a story of a time long ago when Seth kicked me in the shins and I vowed to never like him, I am grateful that I was able to get to know him better over the last few years.  I have no recollection of the event, btw.  My kids have benefited from getting to know him as well.  He has taken care of them several times and they enjoy his company as much as I do.

I am grateful for the cold air coming into my lungs when I ran this morning.  It was a chilly morning, but after a few kilometers, it was just like summer.  (I know, its crazy, just go with it.)  As it turns out, I enjoy running in the snow and -15C weather.  Toward the end of the 16k run I thought to myself that I may have even over-dressed.

I found a pair of running shoes that I bought on sale right before moving!  Just when I thought I was going to have to buy another pair, and was searching for a specific water bottle, (this also seems crazy, but I can explain, though won’t here), I found the shoe box in the back of my closet with some random crap.  Woot!  New running shoes!  I am thankful to have 3 pair to rotate during training until the Calgary Marathon.

Have a great week!  And, as Ellen DeGeneres says, “Be kind to each other.”

Gratitude on the Run

This week I started training full boat for my spring marathon.  That means that in addition to chasing my kids around, my focus has been running.  And food.  Well, just read below.

1. I am thankful for the running group I joined to train for the Calgary Marathon this spring.  They are a fun group and I am sure will provide material for many a blog post.  The group is welcoming to newcomers and full of positive energy.  I have no doubt that this will be a successful race!

2. I am thankful for pantry full of good food in my kitchen.  I try to keep nutritious, wholesome food in the house and I am thankful that our family does not go without.  Every now and then the kids even eat some flax!

3. I am thankful for the creativity my children show through various activities.  When provided with time, colored pencils and blank paper, I am continually impressed with what they come up with.  Most recently, the Apprentice has written a little book about a gingerbread man, Mid enjoys doing comic strip-type art and my daughter will do poems about whatever comes to her mind. To see an example of Mid’s art, please click comic.11.2.2010

4. I am thankful that my kids like to go bowling.  What other sport can we play as a family where it is socially acceptable for my husband and I to have a beer during the game?

5. I am thankful for treadmills.  This morning it was rather chilly, so I ran inside at the Y.  I should note that I am also thankful to the man who was running on the treadmill next to me.  Unbeknownst to him, we were racing, (I won).  As he was exiting his treadmill, he conceded defeat complimented me on my pace.  You read correctly, in my head, we were racing and I won.  I don’t really enjoy running on treadmills for long and entertain myself by making up little stories about the other people in the gym while running.  That doesn’t make me crazy, does it?

Have a great week!

And, be warned, more to come about my training.. if you like to read about running, nutrition and random made-up stories about people who work out while I run on a treadmill, I encourage you to keep reading.  If you don’t, I understand if you leave the blog until June.

A January Confession

When I announced that I was moving the NW, a man I worked with warned me.  “It gets cold there.  I lived in Manitoba for a while and it was lovely, but the winters can be like nothing you have experienced.  Bloody bone-chilling.”  I smiled and nodded politely, because I really like and respect this person.  But I was thinking, dude, you are from South Africa, what do you know about cold?   I was raised in Wisconsin, for crying out loud, I know what cold is. (To get the full effect, say it like this – whi-KAHN-sin, through your nose.)  All through November and December, well-meaning Calgarians had been asking us if we were ready.  Winters are not usually this mild, the cold weather would be coming soon, they would say.  Bleh.   It was fine.  I had barely gotten out my parka.

For the last couple of days it has been -29C, with a windchill of about -40C.  (-22F without the windchill.)  I have a confession.  I am cold.

The interesting thing is that although things have slowed down a bit, almost nothing is cancelled.  Schools are still running, businesses are open as usual, people are going to work as planned.  I have only seen a few things temporarily close where the activities are outdoor, like downhill skiing.  Which reminds me of something a running coach said in San Diego last year.  “Winter does something to a person.”  He meant it in a positive light.  Winter does, in fact, do something to you.  It makes you appreciate things like the air you are taking into your lungs, (because you can feel it all the way down), the crispness of a morning, the grass under the snow that is just begging to turn green again in the spring.  This morning the sky is a bright seawater blue with shiny ice crystals.  Its beautiful, assuming you are indoors with hot coffee, of course.  Winter makes you slow down, to be better prepared.  It can also keep you inside with your family, and when the time is used wisely to play inside games or read or just snuggle on the couch, it is all good.

Winter makes you an optimist.  For me, I am optimistic that the forecast is correct for the weekend and it will make it to 0C.  Heat wave!

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