Nice & Vienna

After we left Paris, we jumped on a train south to Nice. It was so hot, sticky and humid in Nice but I loved it. It was slightly less crowded than Paris which was a treat. I ran a couple times while we were there along the Mediterranean Sea. It was heaven. One morning we even went (carefully and painfully) down the rocky beach so I could take a dip in the sea. I couldn’t leave without experiencing even one short swim in the sea.

The “beach” in Nice
Swimming in the Mediterranean

We had a great time in Nice. So much great food…we had pizza as this was the closest we would get to Italy during this European adventure. Italy is minutes away from Nice and Nice actually used to be a part of Italy.

Pizza in Nice cooked in wood oven

We took a night excursion to Monaco. It was lovely but I definitely did not feel as if I fit in there. Beautiful yachts and cars and the most glorified casino. 

Monaco

Walking the streets of Monaco

I look like I could fit into the millionaires and billionaires of Monaco?

After we left Nice, we hopped on a flight thst had a 4 hour layover in Brussels on our way to Vienna. So we had a bit of Belgium…in an airport. We used our time wisely. Well, Brad did. I haven’t yet been sold on beer drinking.

Beer at airport in Brussels.

Now Vienna…oh Vienna. It is considered a top 10 city to live in the world according to a survey done. This city is simply amazing. If you ever go to Europe, Vienna has to be on your list. It is so clean and not very crowded. The things the government does for the city seems to be in favour of its citizens. For example, a transit pass is 365 Euro a day. A euro a day for all the transit you want. And this reduces traffic and pollution a lot. You could tell Viennese people take advantage of this. They had many transit options too… underground metro, a tram and a bus routes. Simply flawless.

And the buildings. Brad and I fell in love with the history of this city. 

We visited the Hofburg Palace, the twin museums (one was fine arts and one was natural history. We only went inside the history one), Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna in the woods (which included two monasteries and an underground cave lake that resulted because of mining mishap), Stadtpark (statue park) and so much more things we just went and looked at.

The two monasteries and the grotto we visited in Vienna woods.
Inside of the first larger monastery we visited.
Mozart statue, Belvedere Palace, Parliament and then horse carriages were all over.
Hofburg Palace, building I forget but is beautiful, Queen Maria Theresa statue, Johann Strauss statue
Fountain near our hotel, a Mozart concert hall, and last photo is park near hotel

Brad and I joked about moving to Vienna. I would seriously consider it. What a place. 
And the food…oh the food. 

Food in Vienna

Brad and I have made it a point to eat local foods as much as possible. And it’s delicious. 

Thank goodness Vienna is considered very safe…low crime rate. I ran almost everyday here. And it was weird running by such important buildings. I could run by three different castles, opera house, so many Castle gardens, and numerous monuments. It was great.

Now off to Munich where Brad apparently plans to spend a lot of time in the Hofbräuhaus.

Bonjour Paris!

We have been in Paris for 2 nights and 3 days already. We are about to head off to Nice tomorrow.

Paris was pretty much what I expected. It has been a dream of mine to come here since I was 12. As a French teacher, I think I see this part of our travels in different eyes than my husband’s. Paris really isn’t clean and fresh. It’s overcrowded and the streets are filthy. But it still somehow shines for me. Brad even enjoyed many parts of it.

We enjoyed a dinner cruise on the Seine, a bus tour to Notre Dame Cathedral and Eiffel Tower and so much more, an excursion to Versailles, actually going to Eiffel Tower on our own and going up it, and finally the Louvre. 

Our first night in Paris – a dinner cruise on the Seine River.
Brad and I at the Arc de Triomphe on Tuesday, July 5, 2016.
View of Eiffel Tower from below – July 5 on a river cruise with tour group.

Les Jardins at Versailles

Me in front of the famous Versailles gardens.

Madonna on the rocks
I fell in love with this one. The dogs just connected with me. Probably because I miss my pup a bunch!
Inverted pyramid at the exit of the Louvre.
Cathedral Notre Dame
Eiffel Tower at night. Note the soccer ball hanging from it honour of the Euro soccer 2016.
After crossing “going up the Eiffel Tower” from my bucket list. So happy.
Enjoying a sunny beautiful day on the Eiffel Tower.
My last photo of the Eiffel Tower with me in front of it.
Entrance and the pyramid of the Louvre
The Mona Lisa- was hard to get a good shot of it.
Front of Versailles

And oh my…the food…we have definitely enjoyed so much French food and wine during a 3 day visit in the capital of France. 

Some of our food experiences in Paris.

As for fitness, Monday was my rest day but we did a LOT of walking. I didn’t get to run yesterday. I had hoped to do one after getting back from Versailles but a demonstration in Paris slowed down our return to hotel. Instead of being back at 6, it was just after 7pm. So we went for supper. I ran the streets around my hotel this morning. Not bad. More hills than our flat Saskatchewan land. Streets smell as that isn’t fun while running and breathing heavy. But I did 4k and happy I did.  I wanted to run in that park near my route (which is also a cemetery) but it was closed at 6am. They lock up their parks here at night. 

A bientôt! I’ll see you next time from Nice. 

Au revoir from Paris. 

Setbacks and Breakthroughs

I finally had surgery on my teeth last week. 8 days ago. Two of my teeth had root canals that failed and I learned there is an even more in depth procedure to help that – an apicoectomy. And I learned there is a specialist for it called an endodontist, also known as root canal specialist. I had no clue before this.

My teeth started having problems in January. I scheduled an appointment with regular dentist and he said that he couldn’t see anything on xray so maybe just some trauma to tooth from bumping it. He expressed that there are rare cases when root canals fail and their xrays don’t pick up on it. However, he was positive that wasn’t my case. A couple weeks later and pain worsening, he referred me to the specialist who I had to wait to get in for 4 months. Finally in May, the appointment showed 2 of my root canaled teeth were severely infected. So she explained her best approach was an apicoectomy – going through gums to take out the top roots and leaving my crowns untouched. The surgery finally came (after a cancellation on their part making me wait almost 2 more weeks for new appointment) and finally last Thursday, it happened.

I was not expecting how bad the surgery would make me feel. I was in so much pain and I didn’t couldn’t run at all and only 1 day I managed a short walk (more so for my canine running partner than for me). I didn’t also expect a diet of mashed potatoes and soft foods (ice cream, Popsicles, smoothies) for so long. Sure, I thought one or two days but not the 5 days it lasted as it hurt so much to even eat soft foods. Opening my gums was painful.

I wasn’t too upset missing Friday. Saturday I was a bit glum….and it killed me to miss long run Sunday. And then Monday and Tuesday too. I had swollen up so bad on my left cheek thst it looked like I had actually been beaten. And the pain… wow. I was on a few meds (antibiotics, anti-inflammatory, pain meds, a special oral rinse) and those also made me feel worse in some ways. I missed 3 days of work and tried to return Tuesday. I barely survived the morning.

By Wednesday, I was beginning to improve but I felt bloated and disgusting. The 4 pounds I had just lost in May came back plus another 4. I wasn’t 100%… my gums were still sore and I tired easily. I planned to try a run/walk (more walk) in the morning) but meds made it hard to get going in morning. After surviving my first full day back and school, the last thing I wanted to do was run. But in the exhaustion and slight pain, I tied up the runners and went for an evening run. I decided to run 4 or 5k. When I hit 2k, I felt ok. I was slow but I was ok. I managed 5k… and it was humid, hot and sticky. Thank goodness for a running partner to look back at you with grateful brown eyes to keep you moving. After her hiatus, I could tell she also was struggling a bit but if I kept going, she didn’t give up either.

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Before Wednesday's 5k run
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After Wednesday's 5k run

It was a hard slow run but just taking the step to get back at it was amazing. I took Thursday off to do a kettlebell workout. My motivation, and also my stressing, has been coming from a 14k Trail run I signed up for that is tomorrow  (Saturday). I signed up for back before I even knew I had to have surgery.

Today I woke up and it was a teacher pd day. Prep and staff meetings and all that jazz. I decided to test myself for tomorrow. If I could manage 8k, even if slowly, I should be able managed the 14k tomorrow.

Well, it ended up being an amazing run and not a bad paced run at all.

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It felt great.

My other setback was my eating habits. I was doing so good with making sure my most carbs were eaten after workout with less throughout day. More veggies and protein. But a soft diet does not help. The carbs and sugars I was eating through ice cream, Popsicles, smoothies and mashed potatoes definitely made my newly reformed body feel worse.

To be honest, I was being hard on myself. I would try to not eat just because of it wasn’t my typical diet but by day 3, I realized not eating made the nausea from meds worse. So I gave in for a couple days and just let it happen. As of yesterday, day 7 post surgery, I started eating my normal again. And it feels great.

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One of my favs - chicken teriwacky

This chicken recipe from looneyspoons cookbook is one of my favs. Chicken teriwacky they called it. It’s chicken teriyaki haha. So good.

And the breakthrough. .. I can survive a setback. I can survive a few days of no exercise. I can survive a few days of crap food. I need to take care of me and then when ready… I just gotta lace up those shoes and take one more step forward yet again.

I stepped on the scale today. I felt better after just 2 days of returning to my eating habits and 3 days of exercise. I wanted to see what the scale said. Even in just a short 2 days, the extra weight from the food or no exercise or just bloating has actually already disappeared.

My other breakthrough the past couple days has been the realization that my new eating the way I have changed me physically and helped to lose weight. It also helps me run better. I feel like I’m using my body and not the carbs I use to eat so much of. And I’m still eating carbs for those of you thinking “oh carb free diet, not good for you”. No… I eat them. I just plan for the main serving of them to be after a workout and then tiny or smaller servings at other meals. It is great. I’m actually getting full after better portions and not hungry all the time like when I ate carbs for everything.

But… I still know when it’s time to have a glass of wine… and after 6 months of teeth pain and no alcohol from constantly being on antibiotics and pain meds… today I am pain med free and having that freaking glass of carb loaded wine. I may even indulge in a second.

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Wish me luck on that 14k Trail run. 😊

Numbers…

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It’s been awhile but it has been a crazy month. Attempting to do a grad class in a month instead of over 4 months. But I did it. Final research project presentations tomorrow and done. Class 2 of 10 towards my masters of education degree.

I’ve kept up with running. Hasn’t been easy with two nights a week at class. But I did it. I’ve been dealing with some issues with my teeth. Root canals failed so they have to do an apicoectomy. It’s been torture getting in for that. I was booked May 30 but specialist cancelled. Finally in this Thursday. Been in pain from the 2 infected teeth since February.

I started something new the last month. I realized what I’ve done to get to where I am now is not going to help me anymore. I’ve lost 60 pounds and have plateaued since November. I haven’t changed my meals. So I did some research and I’m upping my protein and decreasing carbs. Going to change when I eat my high intake of carbs to after my workout instead. I want my running to use my body not the food I eat. I am also sticking to strength training more too. I especially love kettlebell workouts. If you workout at home, look up on youtube Bodyfit by Amy. Great video workouts for at home for busy people.

Some tasty options from my new meal plan?

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Buffalo Chicken butter leaf wraps
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Chicken fajita roll ups
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Zucchini chips

Also chicken lettuce wraps with balsamic vinaigrette, pecans, shredded carrot, feta. So good. Thought I took a photo but I lost it.

I ran a couple great running events but not feeling my best. Battling a cold. Still fun.

This week I realized I had a couple problems. One, my 10 pound kettlebell was getting too light and two, my pants won’t stay up. I really don’t like spending money before we have a big trip planned but I had to. Brad went and bought me a 20 pound kettlebell and I went in search of new pants. I was stuck between 14 and 16 for awhile so I went in hoping to find some size 14 capris pants as they’d be nice for Europe. Well of course I found some great capris but only size 16 or size 12. Sigh… well it won’t hurt…let’s try the 12… and

I fit and bought the 12. The new monthly plan has been working. I’ve dropped inches and I stepped on scale and I’ve finally broke my plateau too. I use to be size 24 in pants. Now I’m down 6 pant sizes.

Perfect thing to find out on my personal day I booked off from work today. So I spent it in the sunshine.

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Sadly the day off is over and back to work grind and my last night of class. Wish me luck for my poster presentation.

Run, Rest, Run again, Relax, Recharge, Restart

Run…

I haven’t written in a week or so as it has been non stop running and life.

I ran my 3rd half marathon on Sunday, May 1st. It was a great run. Not my best. Not my worst. It was hotter than usual for this run and being first aid certified, I stopped to help a few runners who ended up struggling for various reasons.

I do find running events challenging as the best time for me to run is early. I am usually out running between 5:30-6am which is very different than 8am or 9am which is the time of most events.

This was my first time running the local police half marathon event which was extremely well organized and had a snack bag unlike any other. I’ll run it again if I can next year.

Some photos of the event:

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Rest…

After that event, I needed a couple rest days but by Wednesday I felt like one. Turned into catastrophe.

My running partner – black lab named Ginny, is struggling with some anxiety with anything one wheels. She had a bad episode that left me with an unintentional nice bruise across my whole right forearm. I’ve been so focused on my own running goals that I have neglected the importance of consistency with her training too. She’s only 2 and being a lab, she has such a puppy brain still. Back to the basics for her. I brought out the training collar and training tools from the classes we took when she was a pup. Even after just a week of spending the time to work on her focus has made a huge difference. It’s more about training me too and not just her. When I focus in the run, I tend to forget I need to make sure she’s focused on me and understands the run is about me and her. Once she can learn that, we will connect together so much better and we can just run.

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They say dogs don’t remember things for long but I don’t believe it. After the accident, she felt terrible.

Run again…

No idea why I didn’t notice the calendar but somehow I signed up for a half on May 1 and a 10k event on May 7. Oops.

I was worried I was doing too much in one week but I hate backing out of races so I went. This one was hosted by a local group with a partnership with RCMP. It was at the RCMP site, normally restricted for non personnel. Many races suggest not to bring headphones for your safety but everyone ignores this as it’s never enforced. However this race made it sound mandatory so I didn’t take my headphones.

I think that was a great thing to try. I ran more focused than ever. I wasn’t trying to keep up to the music or slow down. Not going up and down in pace because of music made running easier. Don’t get me wrong. I missed my pumping tunes but without them, I’m a much more focused faster runner. However…side note – they didn’t make a fuss about people who ignored rule.

I ran a great 10k. I was very happy with my time and even did better in this run than at the half.

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Relax and Recharge…

Towards the end of my first masters of education class, I decided to do something I’ve never done. I booked a room at a local spa and I also booked a 90 minute massage. That was in March. I decided to reward myself for the first class and the half. I even splurged for a jacuzzi room that had the special mineral water in the tub. The countdown was torture but the day came.

I turned off my phone and relaxed and read a book I’ve been trying to finish since summer. I had a whole 22 hours of me time. It was the best 22 hours I could have given myself before jumping back into a chaotic life. I highly recommend finding time like this for yourself when you can. I don’t really have extra money to spend but this was worth it. I might try for it once or twice a year.

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Restart…

While recharging, I took a look of my life the past couple years and where I’m going. I realized since I initially transformed my physical self that I hadn’t made any changes to my diet. Since losing 60 pounds running and by eating healthy, I didn’t change or reduce what I ate ad I lost the weight. I recently plateaued and I believe this is the problem. What I ate at the beginning to lose the first initial 60 pounds is probably way too much now. So hence “restarting”. I’m trying to reduce carbs and balance out nutrients better. I want less sugar and carbs and more veggies and protein. I have a meal plan. I also plan to still treat myself once a week. But eating better will also help with my running too.

I also need to start strength training regularly. I try to and neglect this the most. My goal is 3 times a week. I love the sworkit app for this. Easy to do on my own time in my crazy schedule.

As I restart, I find myself beginning my 2nd Masters of education class. Started tonight actually. Going to be an intense course. A whole course that is usually spread out over 4 months in just under a month. I’m excited but going to be a lot of work. It’s a new style of a class that has been a mandatory introduction course for ed grad students.

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But it’s way past my bedtime and I want to run tomorrow morning so I better go rest and recharge.

Superwoman…hear me roar!

Countdown is done. It is time to see if I prepared myself enough for my 2nd half marathon of 2016. I wish I’d done more strength training but ready or not,  it’s here.

Suppose to be a gorgeous day too! I haven’t ran this one hosted by the local city police department. But typically I’ve heard it alway lands on cold, rainy, and windy days. Tomorrow’s forecast is 15km winds and at start of run 8 degrees Celsius and by end of 2.5 ish hours running, it will be almost 14 degrees.

I’ve laid out my gear and did an easy 5k run this morning. Cooked a healthy homemade pasta for supper.

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Now I’m in bed very early to rest the legs and to get up 3 hours before run… bright and early at 5:30am. I want time to hydrate, eat, and pee several times haha.

I sort of wished I’d rested more today. I decided to stock up our homemade freezer soups I make for work lunch. That meant going out for groceries (a story for another day by the way), cleaning up an already messy kitchen, chopping veggies for 1/2 hour, making soups for 2.5 hours and then clean up for about another 1/2 hour. Finishing up with still cooking up sauce for supper. Husband conveniently was busy today haha. Ok. He really was but I wish he wasn’t. We don’t own a dishwasher and I could sure use him on freezer meal prep stock up days to chop or do dishes.

But I got it done. A batch each of corn chowder, clam chowder, and chicken soup.

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Best part of all this work? I restocked freezer with soups and a new pasta sauce after slowly restocking freezer meals the last month. Now I have it filled nice and full for my spring grad studies night class starting next week…and then Brad comes home…”Hey hon! I have 2 large bags of buns and a few pies leftover from my event today. Got room in the freezer?” 😂🙈

But I’m superwoman. And I managed it…barely. Now superwoman needs her beauty sleep to run 21.1km starting in 24 hours.

Everything can change in a day…

Wow. 48 hours ago I was feeling down because I was struggling with running and my usual pace.

I woke up yesterday not feeling any different than all week. I, once again, planned a full weekend with little down time. I planned a 5k fun run with my run/walk club – a club I started at school in March. We were meeting at 9:45 so another colleague and I had to get out there at 8am to walk the course and get the signs up. So that meant walking the 5k before even running it. I’m suppose to be tapering for my half marathon on May 1st… oh well. I said I would do it.

Of course, good old Saskatchewan ruined a sunny day with 55km winds gusting up to 70 km. This made setting up signs slightly more challenging and also the walk to set up was much more chilly. We got it done and made it back to meeting point in time to drive to a gas station for bathroom break before the actual event.

While I was walking the course, I was going back and forth about just walking it again, forcing myself to be last, and collecting signs as we went. Or to run it and give it my best. Partially because I didn’t want overdo it but also because I didn’t want my students to see me at my worst. I also had brought my  canine running partner with me and she hadn’t been feeling 100% after a bladder infection and strong meds for it. I was unsure if she’d want to run after walking the course with us already.

But when when the 4 kids showed up along with 3 moms who also decided to participate, I decided to run too.

1 km. .. 7:30 a km pace… whhaaattt?

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And I continued to run decent splits all the way through even though I had to stop once to fix a sign and take one extra 100m walk break to give my dog a rest.

I felt great and running just made sense again. My body was agreeing with me and I was alive! My time showed it…I was back where I had worked so hard to get to.

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I don’t know why. Maybe a group run is what I needed. Maybe I just had a bad week of running. Maybe I was overdoing it. But for whatever reason, I was back at it.

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My school run/walk club Saturday fun run

Today was my final long run before my half marathon next week. I had planned 12k but after yesterday, I knew that would be overkill. So Ginny and I ran an easy 8k.

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And I still felt great. It was windy, rainy and cold but we pushed through it. Ginny even had her first swim of this spring/summer. She begged…I sure wasn’t going in but who am I to judge a water loving black lab who hasn’t swam since September? She never complained about the cold, or choppy water She kept diving in several times to catch a stick that I threw for her.

And just like my lab keeps diving into cold water with the sticks not going where I wanted them to go because of the crazy wind…I am reminded of how running also requires you to keep lacing those shoes and getting out there even if the elements and results aren’t what you expected or wanted. It’s the moment of embracing it all and what you make of it that really counts.