Sunday, September 25, 2011

Trying Something New - Treetop Trekking and Ziplining!

I opened my email one day recently and found that someone very wonderful - who knows that I'm on a mission to try new things - had purchased two passes to a treetop trekking adventure for myself and a guest, complete with transportation and lunch. And ZIPLINING!

How amazing is that?

This very wonderful person refused to be my guest.

So, I brought along my very good friend, Naomi.

Naomi is the world's best neighbour. She cooks and shares. And bakes and shares. Makes me laugh. Listens to my endless chatter. Cuddles my children. Takes my dog out for runs. Digs massive holes in my yard when I decide that I want to plant trees. She's also got two fabulous children and a pretty great husband. Standard neighbour stuff, no?

We got ourselves up early and headed out of town to our adventure. Got fitted for harnesses and helmets, had a safety lesson and did some practice moves 5 feet off the ground. So far, so good.

Look Ma, no hands! Practicing a fall during orientation. small thing? I'm kind of afraid of heights. And this activity involves being 20-30' off the ground walking on wobbly things that bounce and sway. For a few hours.

Check out the beginner's course - wow!
We actually ran under part of this during the Warrior Dash in July, and I remember being disappointed that it wasn't part of the Dash...
Time to WTFU.

Reminded myself that my parasailing adventure this summer proved that I'm not going to die if my feet leave the ground.

Climbed the ladder and headed up into the trees.

This was seriously hard work! There were about 40 of us up in the trees but there was almost pindrop silence the entire time. Navigating through the obstacles took a lot of concentration and involved a lot of problem-solving. Oh - and let's not forget courage...strength... and balance!

Just don't look down!

Warming up with what I now know was an easy one

Naomi (centre) all smiles - she's already planning a trip back to try this again!

Little did I know at the time that this was another easy one. Those barrels, though? Not easy. No sirree.
I am very proud to say that I finished both the beginner and intermediate courses. Needed a break by that time though - I was so filled with adrenaline that I was shaking! - and waited on the ground while Naomi did the advanced course.
I got a LOT out of this -
  • I stared one of my fears right in the face (heights) and didn't run away. 
  • I got to test out just how strong I am - and was very pleased with the results. 
  • I got to test out my flexibility, agility, endurance and balance  - and was very pleased to see they have improved. Thank you, Zumba!
  • I got to work my brain! Focus, planning, control. Check.

Did I get any fun out of it? To be honest, it was so much work that I didn't notice if it was fun or not!

But then we got to the ziplining. AND THAT WAS SERIOUSLY FUN.

Honesty, I am having fun - I'm just concentrating REALLY HARD on what to do about the tree that I'm zooming towards.

Naomi heading out on the Big Zip...

...and me zipping in to the finish line!
There were a few shorter zips during the courses - and then a 983-foot Big Zip at the end. Apparently we hit 40KM/hour going down that one. Wheeeeeeeeee!

Stepping off the platform on any of these was pretty nerve-wracking, but fast, so fun!

Yep, I'll be back.

To that wonderful person who treated us to this adventure? THANK YOU.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Time for Another Weight-Loss Challenge

Anyone remember me talking about the Queen of the Circuit contest at my gym over the summer?

Well, I didn't win. I did all of the activities faithfully and got a ton of exercise, but didn't lose an ounce - which was kind of the point of the contest, you know? I hit the gym 3x/week faithfully, did the Do Life 5K and the Warrior Dash, and went camping, biking, hiking and swimming all summer. But I also ate as much as I burned off.

I'm defnitely stronger than I was even a few months ago, but I've been plateaued at my current weight for a loooong time and have been getting lazy about doing anything about taking off those last 35lbs. 


As I write that out, I completely understand that 35lbs is simply too much extra weight to be carrying around. 

But even so, I likely wouldn't be doing anything about it just yet...except that an email went around my office this week - Anyone want to join in a 'biggest loser' competition? 

Oh, alright. I'm in. Let's see if I can shift some of this extra weight over the next 10 weeks.

If' I don't sound excited - well - it's just because I know what to do (eat smarter, keep a food diary, keep exercising), but I'm not looking forward to the extra effort of planning meals and packing my lunches & snacks.

See? I told you I had gotten lazy!

I'm also struggling with the loss of privacy a bit. I've never gone to Weight Watchers or other similar centres, which means that until now, no one on this earth except my doctor and my trainer knew my actual weight, and no one except me was watching my week-by-week progress closely. This sort of semi-public, group effort is supposed to be very effective'S DO THIS.

The good news - I do have a personal reason to commit to this and help to keep me motivated. I'm run/walking two 5Ks in October and am planning on another in early December, and I'd dearly like to set a new PR in at least one of them. My current PB is 40:43 and I'd love to achieve a sub-40 minute race before the end of the year. Trimming down a bit will definitely help.

MyFitnessPal? I've been neglecting you. Time for us to be BFFs again.

I work with a competitive group of people.  This is going to be interesting!

Here's this week's recap -

Saturday - 2K dog walk followed by a family trip to the dentist. We're all scrubbed and polished and gleaming!
A small corner of the former Brickworks Quarry. You can just see part of the marsh.
The trees in the background conceal the old west wall of the quarry.
Sunday - Hike around the Brickworks, one of our favourite spots in the city. Formerly a quarry and brick production factory, it was decomissioned in the 1940s and the site sat vacant for a long time. It  has since been reclaimed as a marsh / green space and an eco-education centre. So fabulous. It also features one of the best off-leash parks we've seen. Something for everyone in our family!

Down in the basin of the quarry where we can't see or hear the city. Just the birds. We saw a blue heron today!
Monday - Pouring rain but the dog doesn't mind. Took her for a 1.9K run-a-block/walk-a-block, something I NEVER would have bothered to do on a rainy day if it wasn't for her. Later - Curves workout + 25 pushups.

Tuesday - First day of the Biggest Loser contest at work. Ate well. Logged it in MFP. 2K round trip fast walk to the dog park.

Wednesday - Stairs to 7 at lunch; Zumba + once around the Curves circuit + 25 pushups after dinner.

Tired dog and a very proud girl coming home from the park -
This was her first time being in charge of leash all the way home, and Stella behaved beautifully the whole trip :-)
Thursday - Stairs to 7 in AM; 2K round trip to the dog park, 1K fast dog walk before bed.

Friday - Stairs to 7 in AM; Curves after dinner, followed by 2.7K run-a-block/walk-a-block with my son and the dog.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Had a great experience this week - I volunteered at a race for the first time!

This one was the Energizer Night Race, held at a beautiful park uptown. I was a course marshall at a spot before the turnaround for the 10K'ers - which means if you ran this race, you saw me at the 3.5K mark just after the water station, and again at the 6.5K mark.  

Very official course marker - my home for the next couple of hours
I've really appreciated the volunteers on every race I've run, from the ones keeping things moving at the checkin, to the ones passing out food and drinks after the finish, and everyone in between. I definitely appreciate the boost of energy I get from the ones cheering along the route. I always find myself  flashing them a grateful smile or thumbs up as I pass.

I've heard it said that good race etiquette includes sitting out one a race a year and take a turn volunteering - and it was definitely time for me to take my turn.  

Stylin' in my new headlamp
I had no idea how much fun this would be! The air was charged with pre-race excitement, it was thrilling to see the first runners approach (they were SO FAST!), and I had a ton of fun cheering, clapping and encouraging people on. What I didn't expect was that so very many people would flash me a smile, give me a thumbs up, thank me - I even got a few "bless you for being here"s. That was incredibly gratifying.

Even more fun - this being a night race, everyone was issued headlamps - and there's nothing like the sight of 900 LED lights bouncing along in the dark past you on their way out, and again on their way back in. Almost like Christmas!

Here they come!
I'm so glad that I volunteered for this one - it really was a great experience. I'll definitely do this again in 2012!

Have you ever volunteered at a race? What was your race like?

Here's this week's recap -

This was our second week back at school and we are still adjusting to getting back into our routines - but also figuring out how to best adapt them to accommodate Stella. For me - I walked her a minimum of 2K each day, went to the gym twice and danced myself into a sweaty puddle at Zumba.

On Friday evening, we stumbled upon a street festival while running errands a few neighbourhoods away. Kids had a great time on the rides and jumping around in a bouncy castle, and Stella behaved herself beautifully waiting for them and in the crowds. Lovely way to spend a beautiful late summer evening :-)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Wearing Swim Goggles is an Eye-Opening Experience

Rocking the goofy fish face
OK - so here's the story - I've been swimming ever since I can remember. I've lived near a lake or a pool just about my entire life and love, love, love to get wet.

But I've never had goggles, and so I've always swam with my eyes shut. Or with my head above water and eyes open.

Clearly this is a large contributor to my poor swimming form.

And I probably never would have bothered to do anything about it, except that I'm aiming for those try-a-tris next summer. Time to get this sorted out.

Picked up a pair of goggles, got to a pool with the kids and WOW! So exciting - I felt like I was 5 years old! Spent the first 20 minutes trying to get the kids to play underwater games with me. LOOK AT ME, DUNK UNDER WATER AND WAVE TO ME, COME ON LET'S PLAY!!!

"Um, Mom? You're being a little embarrassing."

Maybe - but after 39 years of swimming with my eyes shut? WOW!

Swam off to do a few laps, and discovered a lot more to WOW about. Amazing how much difference this made to my speed, my breathing - everything.

Reminds me of my first workout in tech wear last year after finally ditching cotton. Having the right equipment really makes a difference.

Best $19.99 I ever spent!

Here's this week's recap -

Saturday - Great day: went to the gym, took the kids to the pool (see above), took the dog to the dog park (just checked - it's a 2K round trip), then an 8K round trip on my bike to run errands. Oh man, I'm going to sleep well tonight!

Just before this, they were playing Splashpad Warrior Dash - crawling under 'barbed wire' and jumping over 'fire'. Fabulous!
Sunday - Road trip! We drove out of town to visit my family. Got some sprints in playing fetch with Stella while she was onleash - very fun. Took the kids and Stella to the beach for a couple of hours. All were very happy to get wet!

It's a fact: if you roll around in compost in the trees behind Grandma's house and then roll around in dead frog, you will definitely get to go swimming.
Monday - Labour Day! 1.7K dog walk, 2.6K family bike ride after dinner. General nuttiness getting kids ready for school.

Tuesday - First day of school. Two kids now at two different schools = this is going to take some getting used to. Not a bad start though. 2K round trip to the dog park after school.

Wednesday - 2K dog park walk, Curves.

Thursday - 2K dog park walk, Curves  + 20 minute mini boot camp, 1.5K dog walk.

GPOYD: "Waiting for the boy to spray the hose" Edition
Friday - Too hot for the dog park right after work, so goofed around in the backyard with her instead. This is a dog who likes to get wet - which means she fits in well with this family! Took her to the park at the end of the day.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Welcome, Stella!

We adopted a dog this week!

We've been talking about getting a dog for a number of years, but the time never seemed right.

Until now. 

I think we needed the kids to be a bit older (they're 7-1/2 and 11-1/2  now), and more importantly, we needed to put some distance between us and our old lives on the couch.

If you've been reading for a while, you may have noticed that our weekends involve going for hikes, swims, to the beach, to the park and so on as often as possible...and that our vacations involve camping rather than airplanes and hotels.

Things weren't always this active - but they have been for a couple of years now.

Yep, time's right to add a dog to the family. 


Welcome home, Stella!
We noticed Stella on the Toronto Animal Services website last weekend after the kids and I got back from camping. Called to ask about her. Mentioned we have kids. Staff thought we should meet her. And the next thing you know, we were jumping in the car.

Before meeting her. we talked at length with the staff about our family, our routines, our home and so on. They said that we DEFINITELY needed to meet her.

And there she was - big, gentle, calm Stella. Spent a lot time with her, fell in love, said "see you in the morning" and went out to buy supplies.

At the dog park. I love that she's listening to whatever my daughter is whispering to her.
Stella's a 20-month old Shepherd/Husky cross and she's the dog of our dreams. Housebroken, leash trained,  beautiful manners, eager to please, great with the kids, great with adults and loves other dogs. Best of all, she immediately accepted us as her new family.

In motion at the dog park. Can you see her grinning?
Bonus - for a low, low adoption fee, she came with all of her shots, a clean bill of health and she's been spayed. And did I mention that she's housebroken? :-)

Happy, happy boy with a happy, happy dog
To be honest - I never thought we'd adopt a dog from a shelter. I know it's the right thing to do, and our cats have all come from shelters, but I've always been nervous about not knowing a dog's history, particularly since we've got kids.

Check her out - heeling, slack leash, walking calmly with her boy.
This relationship is off to a great start.
Oh man, was I wrong. The perfect dog was waiting for us.

One might be waiting for you too. Just sayin'.

Here's this week's recap:

Dog, dog park, dog park, drive to gym/workout, bike to gym/workout (6K round trip), dog park, walk the dog. Somewhere in there, I signed my daughter and I up for a women's only 5K this fall. This one comes with firefighters and great swag - can't wait!

Ride home from the gym. 8.15pm and it's getting dark. So sad to see the end of summer.