Minty chocolate goodness… or not

1 Oct

My daughter recently signed up for Girl Guides and a big part of being a Guide, is participating in the twice annual cookie sale campaigns.  Money from the sale goes to support a variety of programs and helps off-set some of the costs of participating in Guides.

I realize Girl Guide cookies are a time-honoured tradition (and I’m not usually one to mess with tradition), but I have to wonder if asking young, impressionable girls to sell unhealthy junk food to friends, neighbours and classmates, is a tad irresponsible in this day and age of obesity?

Before you think I’m over-reacting, here’s a sneak peek at the ingredients in a box of mint chocolate cookies:

Chocolately Coating (Sugar, Hydrogenated Modified Palm Kernel Oil, Cocoa, Salt, Sorbitan Tristearate, Soya Lecithin, Artificial Flavour), Sugar/Glucose-Frustose, Enriched Wheat Flour, Modified Palm Oil, Canola Oil, Cocoa, Hydrogenated Modified Palm Kernel Oil, Corn Starch, Modified Milk Ingredients, Salt, Baking Soda, Soya Lecithin, Natural and Artificial Flavour, Colour.

It almost makes you want to hurl.  I have trouble pronouncing those ingredients and for that matter, spelling those ingredients.  God knows, it’s not good for you, you probably shouldn’t eat it and it doesn’t remotely resemble food.  It’s more of a food-like product.  And it totally irks me that the ingredients say Chocolately Coating as opposed to Chocolate Coating.  It’s not even good enough to qualify as chocolate.  *sigh*

I would to see Guides evolve to a more modern campaign, more in line with the times.  Forget these ridiculous cookie sales.  I would be totally supportive of a Guides community ‘fun run’ or walk, cycle or hike, to raise money for programs.  Or maybe they should let the kids come up with their own ideas to raise money.  I’m sure they could come up with something really spectacular.

*deep breath*  Okay, now my rant is complete. 🙂

Race Report: Santa Shuffle 5K 2012 in Ottawa

1 Dec

I had the pleasure of running the Santa Shuffle at Tunney’s Pasture this morning.  The Santa Shuffle is a 5K Fun Run put on by the Running Room.  There’s actually a number of Santa Shuffle’s that take place on the same day, in various cities across the country.  The proceeds of the events go to the Salvation Army, which of course, does great work.  And being a Santa shuffle, you can of course expect to see lots of Santas and elves.

The great thing about this race is that it starts late as far as races go.  The 1K elf walk, the kids event, started at 10am but the 5K run didn’t actually start until 10:30am.  Of course, since I didn’t pick up my race kit before the event and DS had his Little Rocks curling at the Granite Curling Club that morning, I was dropped off by DH around 9am.

I have to admit, it was a rather chilly morning to be running.  When I checked the weather report, the temperature was -10 celsius but it felt more like -19 with the windchill.

I’m never sure how to dress in the winter.  After much waffling, I finally opted for my MEC, Mountain Equipment Co-Op, tights.  I bought them for winter cycling but they also work great for running.  They are breathable in the back, and wind and water resistant in the front.  They also have a bit of flocking inside the front to make them warmer.  I then added a couple of layers, a sports bra of course, with a tank top on top, and a generic long sleeve shirt (sadly cotton).  Over that I put on my bright orange Resolution Run jacket from a New Year’s Eve run a few years back.  And to top it off, a double-layer knit hat, my favourite red Canadian Olympic knit mittens  and a neck gaiter to pull up over my face, also from MEC.  On my feet, I was wearing my New Balance Minimus trail running shoes.  Despite my layers, I still felt really cold outside but while running, it was absolutely perfect.  Somehow I had managed not to over or under dress.

The turn out for the race was great.  Previous years have had somewhere over 800 people.  This year, I think it was around a thousand.  Lots and lots of crazy people like myself who decided that December 1st would be a fantastic day to run a race.  Definitely great comraderie and lots of pre-race excitment.  Being a fun run, there were no timing chips and nor did I manage to spot a clock at the finish line.  But that’s okay.  The lack of timing keeps the race cost low and this race was only around $20 if I’m not mistaken.  I suspect from checking my watch before and after the race, my time was somewhere around 30 minutes, maybe a bit less.

The course itself looped around the Tunney’s Pasture area of Ottawa, which is basically a large complex housing various government offices.  From a subjective assessment, the race distance felt a little short but I really have no way of confirming if it was actually 5K or not.  If anyone does, please let me know because I am really curious.

The race started off really slow especially since I was stuck somewhere in the middle of the group.  Like all races, it was really tightly packed at the start so it took a while before I was able to even able to start running nevermind actually get up to normal running speed.   The more competitive types were were jumping off the course slightly to go around the slower runners.  It’s not something I like doing but I can hardly blame them.  The faster you run, the faster you get done and out of the cold.

All the 5K finishers got a really fantastic looking Santa Shuffle medal.  Probably my favourite medal so far.  Also in the race kit was an iRun magazine, as always, and a Lindt advent calendar.  There was also someone from Live 88.5, a local radio station, handing out mixed CDs, which DH really appreciated.   I opted out of getting the race t-shirt, which was being sold for $15.  Being a tad on the small size, I never find they fit.

At the finish line, the runners were offered some hot chocolate and cookies.  The line up for the snacks was rather long so I decided to skip it.  Overall, it was a good run.  Next one I have planned is the Winterman 10K which lines up with Ottawa’s winter festival, Winterlude.  The 10K goes back to my Fitness Goals for 2013.  I’m also debating doing the Richmond Road Races in January, but probably for the 5K.

Curl, Spin and Om

25 Nov

Today I dropped by the Granite Curling Club in Westboro to watch DH and his men’s team curl.  His team made it into the finals, only having lost one game in the entire season.  I don’t usually go to watch DH play.  I hate to admit it, but most of the time I find curling a bit of a snore-fest, only getting interested when there’s two rocks left in an end.  That’s when the take-outs happen and things really start to get exciting.  Besides, most of his games are late in the evening, way past my bedtime and that of the kids.  Excuses, excuses, I know.

Today, DS and DD came along too.  DS was pretty excited to watch his daddy play.  DS has been playing for three years now and is starting to understand the strategy.  DH and his team did not disappoint.  His team won by 8-5 and the opposing team conceded defeat when it was clear they didn’t have enough stones left to make a comeback.  And according to curling protocol, after the game, the winners bought the losers a drink.  DS and DD somehow ended up
with a hot chocolate in the process.  DS and DD don’t get sugar very often, so in
retrospect, this was probably not a very good idea.  They ended up with a bit of a sugar rush, a serious case of the giggles and started chasing each other through the club, much to my chagrin.  I tried to pretend they weren’t my children, but unfortunately, they both look like me.  They’re usually very well behaved, honest!

The Granite is a pretty nice club, of course, I only have one other club to compare it to, the Huntley Curling Club in Carp.  DS was curling there for the last two years before moving to the same club as his dad.  The Granite has nice comfy chairs, leather couches, and a sizable viewing area over their 4 sheets of ice.  And now, each sheet has a camera so you can watch the, umm, action, on the far end on big screen TVs.

DH really wants to have a ‘family’ curling team in the future but I’m resisting because it goes against my philosophy of trying to stay as warm as possible.  Two hours in essentially what could be considered a very large freezer, standing on a thin sheet of ice, sounds mildly dangerous and not particularly appealing.  I prefer to be on the other side of the glass, i.e. the warm and toasty side, sitting on a comfy chair while sipping a hot cup of pumpkin spice coffee from the club’s Kuerig machine.

To make up for my lack of activity, I did manage to squeeze in a 45 minute spinning class followed by a one hour yoga class later that evening.  It had been a really long time since I had done any sort of spinning and I was completely unprepared.  For one, I brought along my minimal running shoes which are the equivalent of a water sock.  Terrible for when you’re trying to power through a ‘hill’ while pedaling standing up.  Next time, I’m bringing a cheap pair of athletic shoes with a solid, unforgiving sole.  Secondly, I forgot just how much the hard spinning machine seat hurts the, ahh, nether-regions.  Padded bike shorts are a definite must.  Of course, DD thinks it looks like I’m wearing a diaper whenever I’m wearing them, but I digress.  They’re both into the potty humour right now, so anything related to diapers, poo, pee, farts and let us not forget, burps, throws them into a fit of laughter.

The yoga class was okay.  I was hoping Dena would be leading the class again but instead we had a slightly flakey, new-agey instructor, who seemed to smile and laugh a lot.  Oddly enough, it was actually kind of endearing and slightly creepy at the same time.  Anyhow, she seemed to know her stuff and walked around while we were doing poses to ensure our posture was correct.  I don’t know what it is about yoga classes, but every one I’ve been to, seems to run late.  I guess nirvana means that you don’t need a watch.  Anyhow, I’m just being snarky.  It was a good class.  I’m not sure if I’ll be back to this one, but I did enjoy the spinning.

Fitness Goals 2013

24 Nov

“The difference between a goal and a dream is a deadline.”

— Steve Smith

With the end of the year fast approaching, I’ve been giving some thought to my health and fitness goals for the coming year.  It’s never too early to start planning, right?  Well, unless of course the Mayans were right and December 21st 2012 is really the end of the world.  All joking aside, I figure this gives me a bit of a headstart on 2013, with 13 months left to plan, prepare and execute on my goals, rather than the regular 12.  Rather sneaky, I know. 😉

I’ve learned quite a lot about writing objectives through work and I’ve tried to come up with a list of items that I feel are specific, measurable, relevant, attainable and timely, also known as SMART.  I believe my list is challenging but achievable, if I have enough drive, determination, dedication and persistence.  With that in mind, here is my list of 13 goals for 2013:

1.  PB in 5K
2.  Train and run a 10K race (spring)
3.  Train and run a half marathon (fall)
4.  Do a Spartan race
5.  Be able to do 100 push ups
6.  Be able to hold plank for 3 minutes
7.  Bike a century
8.  Lose 5 pounds
9.  Do a headstand
10.  Run a destination race (any distance)
11.  Be able to do a single pull-up
12.  Practice yoga regularly (at least once a week)
13.  Join a team sport

I have to admit, the goals that worry me the most are number 9 and 11.  Balance and upper body strength are not really my forte so I think these two items are going to take a lot of work.  My next step will be coming up with a plan on how to achieve these goals in the time allotted, and maybe add some intermediary milestones to ensure I stay on track.

Have you started thinking about your 2013 fitness goals yet?

Kids, Step and Exercise Dyslexia

23 Nov

I really slacked off on my workout yesterday, only managing to fit in a 20 minute walk with colleagues and then a short 2.5 km run with the kids after work.  Let’s be honest, it was more like a 1 km run with a bunch of walking and a trip to the neighbourhood park thrown in.  Mind you, I can’t really complain.  Exercising with the kids is always an adventure.  You never know what’s going to happen and that’s all part of the fun.  Plus, it always seems to be when I hear all about the kids’ day, funny stories about what happened in class and with their friends, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Today I decided to get serious about this exercise thing again and opted for a step class at the Kanata Leisure Centre.  Not that I particularly wanted to do a step class, but it was the only class that actually fit into my schedule with DH curling later this evening.   DH is crazy into curling and ends up at the club 2-4 times a week.

I haven’t done step in years and for good reason, I’m not particularly good at it.  I don’t know what it is, but me and any short of organized class is a disaster in the making.  I’m the one going left while the rest of the class goes right, they zig and I zag.  It’s like I have a really bad case of exercise dyslexia or something.  It’s funny to think that the younger me would have been mortified but as I’ve gotten older, I find myself caring less and less about appearances.  I’m just happy that I showed up and tried it.

The class itself was actually a pretty good workout especially since it’s an activity that my body isn’t used to doing.  I guess it plays into that whole ‘muscle confusion’ philosophy.  It also helped that the instructor incorporated some light weights into the movements with high reps.  That coupled with some weight-based activities smattered here and there, mostly squats, and I was able to ‘feel the burn’.  It was fun.  I might go again.  I figure if I do it a couple times, I’ll eventually get the hang of the moves but until then, you’ll know me because I’ll be the cheerful but totally uncoordinated person at the back of the class.

Sale Alert: Lululemon Run: Roll Down Short $19

22 Nov

For all those Lululemon fans out there, the Rideau Centre Lululemon store has a bit of sale right now.  The Run: Roll Down Short is going for $19.  Yes, you heard that right, 19 bucks.  That’s a steal compared to the online store price of $44.  Regular price for this is $58.  There’s limited sizes and colours available.  Most of them seem to be size 6.  The two colours I saw were elevation stripe white and this really pretty pinky purple.  Not sure of the name.  I picked up the elevation stripe.  I think it’ll match my new running shoes quite nicely.  Can’t go to the gym without colour-coordinating your outfit.  😉

Image

There were a few other items on sale including some tanks for $39.   I know I’ve ranted about Lululemon in the past, but I have to admit, I really do like their stuff.  They’re one of the few places that I can actually find something that’ll fit my vertically challenged frame and still look good.

The Sears Great Canadian Chill

21 Nov

Am I completely crazy?  I think I just might be!  Sears hosts an annual charity event called ‘The Great Canadian Chill’.  It takes place annually at beautiful Britannia Beach in Ottawa in the dead of winter, on New Years Day in fact.  It’s essentially a polar bear dip where people, called ‘chillers’, rush into icy cold waters in order to raise money for the Sears Charitable Foundation.  Why they can’t do a charity dip in the middle of summer is beyond me.  I guess that would make it a swim, not a dip and  I suppose the torture aspect of voluntarily leaping into frigid icy cold water in your bathing suit makes it all the more fun.

This year I decided to sign up.  Now, those who know me personally are probably completely shocked as my love of all things warm and toasty is rather well known.  Yes I know, incredibly ironic that I’m a Canadian living in Ottawa, one of the coldest capital cities in the world, and I hate the cold.  I admit, I have been known to occasionally wear a toque around the house and yes, while the furnace is running.  We’ll just ignore this little piece of irony for now.

So why would I want to do this, do you ask?  The SCF funds various children’s pediatric oncology centres around Canada.  17 of them in fact.

charity + kids = count me in

’nuff said.  It’s a pretty fantastic cause.

If you want to join me, check out http://ottawa.thesearsgreatcanadianchill.ca/ to register.

And if you want to stay home while I freeze my butt off, I’d love it if you could make a contribution:

http://searscanada.akaraisin.com/chillottawa2013/fit613

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