July 29, 2015

Spartan Race Workout Tour

In case you haven't heard, I'm signed up to run the Spartan Super in Red Deer in September, courtesy of Becky and her giveaway she had on her blog a few weeks ago. The super is 13+ km and I think I'm in denial about how hard it is going to be! The Spartan Sprint, which is only 5km, is in Calgary in August and I'm on the fence about registering for that one. On one hand, I think it would be good practice for the Super race, but on the other hand, I'm nervous it will scare me off even more from it. Sometimes it's better not to know what you're getting yourself into, ha!

But I digress. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a Spartan Race Workout Tour, but thanks to Laura, I found out that Calgary actually had the tour coming through. The workout is an organized event that occurs over two hours and is meant to teach you "exercises to help you over the toughest of obstacles while you train with like-minded Spartans". Registration was only $10 and that included a "I'm Training for a Spartan Race" t-shirt! And even better, partial proceeds went to charity, in this case, the charity being Huntington Society of Canada. So really, there was no excuse not to attend.

Training for a Spartan Race 

I was terrified to go alone, so luckily I was able to convince my Aunt's step-daughter Kate, and her husband Dan to go with me (they're already signed up for the Spartan Sprint in Calgary). I just didn't know what to expect. I was worried it was going to be very hardcore, and like a military boot-camp style class, where we'd be doing pushups and burpees in the mud with a trainer leaning over us yelling us to push harder! and, do ten more! Thankfully, it was nothing quite like that, but it was still a TOUGH workout.

Spartan Race Workout Tour Calgary 

For most of the gruelling two hours, we stood in one spot spread out over the large field and we're put through HIIT style circuit training. The class was led by David Wilkinson, the owner and head coach of Rooted Fitness Crossfit here in Calgary. The exercises he put us through were supposed to mimic a lot of the movements and body positioning that will be required of us during the Spartan Race. There was also some running/sprinting involved, and of course, a TON of burpees. And let me tell you, Spartan burpees are so much harder than "regular" burpees. The penalty during a Spartan Race for not completing an obstacle is 30 burpees. We were timed for three minutes to see how many burpees we could do, and I was only able to eek out 25. Seriously, I better not have to do any during the race or I'm screwed!

Spartan Race Workout Tour Calgary Spartan Race Workout Tour Calgary
{photos ℅ of Spartan Race Facebook page}

Of course, in hindsight, I would have been fine showing up to the Spartan Race Workout Tour on my own. The camaraderie was fantastic and there were a lot of other people there on their own. Plus, the age range was huge, from kids (you had to be at least 13 to participate), to adults of all ages and fitness levels. So, if you have an opportunity to attend a Spartan Race Workout Tour and you don't have anyone to go with you, do not be afraid! I promise it will be a fun and memorable experience! And, hey, you don't even have to be registered for a Spartan Race to attend.

Spartan Race Workout Tour Calgary
{photo ℅ of Spartan Race Facebook page}

I'm so glad I went and got my butt kicked for two hours - let me tell you, I was exhausted and sore the next day, but it was so worth it! Two hour workouts are no joke, but it reminded me that I'm stronger than I always think, but I also could stand to throw some burpees into my training. Thanks Spartan Race for organizing such an event! All of the photos from the workout tour can be seen on Spartan Race's Facebook page here.

Are you signed up to run a Spartan Race this year? 
Have you ever run a Spartan Race before? 

July 28, 2015

A Mini Getaway

It had been almost two months since I last saw my mom, so last week, I packed us up, and Sully and I hit the road to Edmonton. I had been feeling a bit lonely since my in-laws left after a month long stay and a dose of mom and Gramma time was just what Sully and I needed!

Edmonton River Valley
{Edmonton River Valley}

We arrived last Tuesday and ended up staying until Friday. My mom lives in a spacious one-bedroom apartment and Sully had a blast running around, exploring new cupboards, pushing the elevator buttons, taking the garbage to the garbage shoot and yelling at passersby from the balcony. I was a little bit worried that sleep would be an issue since the last time Sully had to sleep in the play pen, he didn't do so well, but this time he slept like a champ! He did wake up early, but he would easily go back to sleep with me in bed for another hour or two.

Our first night in Edmonton, I left Sully with my mom while I went to my Edmonton book club night. July book club is always held at Sarah's house and she treats us to a campfire and s'mores. Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate so book club was kept indoors, but it was still a wonderful night. I was worried about my will-power to stick to my 21 Day Fix diet when it came to the food, but Sarah out did herself and had prepped all the ingredients for us to make our own salad rolls! I had never made salad rolls before, but it was so much fun and I definitely plan to make them at home now.

Home-made Salad Rolls 

I didn't make plans to see anyone else while I was in Edmonton because I wanted to spend as much time as I could with my mom, but I did get away for a few hours to visit with my friend Lisa and meet her new daughter, Jade. Of course, I was too busy cuddling baby Jade to take any photos, but trust me, she is adorable and the whole time I was holding her, I couldn't believe that Sully was also once that small!

The rest of our visit was spent going for walks along the Promenade along the river valley, playing in the fountain, enjoying Starbucks al fresco, going to Taste of Edmonton (where I also practiced extreme self-control!!), visiting with my brother, and watering Gramma's flowers on the balcony. Seriously, I'm pretty sure Sully drowned some of my mom's plants! I also got in all my 21 Day Fix workouts and I even got out for a run on our last morning there.

The Promenade The Promenade Promenade Fountain Promenade Fountain Promenade Fountain Starbucks Al Fresco Taste of Edmonton Sully and Uncle Mikey Watering Flowers Watering Flowers 
Edmonton River Valley
{My view of the River Valley on my run}

On our way home on Friday, we stopped to see my friend Karen and her kids before heading on to Red Deer where we had a little play date with Becky and her son, Liam, at Imagination Grove at Kerry Wood Nature Centre. We had the whole place to ourselves and it was so cute to watch Sully and Liam interact. I humoured Sully a few times and took him down the big slide, but for the most part, he was just as happy to wait for Liam to come down the slide, giggling every time he did.

Imagination Grove

Those few days with my mom were just what I needed and I came back home feeling refreshed and happy. It's hard not having my mom just a twenty minute drive away, but at least we're still in the same province!

Have you ever made salad rolls?
Does your mom live near or far? 

July 23, 2015

Initial Thoughts on the 21 Day Fix

It's been three days since I started the 21 Day Fix. (That would be Monday, if you can't do math). I didn't make a big ado about it since there's always that fear of failing and not completing what you set out to do, but it's hard not to mention it here or there, especially since it effects my daily life.

Anyway, before I subject myself to posting any before photos or stats, let's wait and see if I can survive and conquer the next 21 days. In the mean time, here are some of the random thoughts and realizations that went through my head these past three days.

21 Day Fix Workout
{My little workout buddy}

>> Fiction: I thought I didn't eat a lot during the day. Fact: I really do eat during the day, except that instead of meals, I'm a perpetual snacker and grazer. A cracker here, a hunk of cheese here, Sully's unfinished breakfast/snack/lunch here, etc, etc. I'm constantly popping something into my mouth.  
>> Oh my god, I eat a lot carbs! I almost always reach for something carb-y when I'm hungry. It takes a lot of mental power to convince yourself that you do not need a starchy carb to satisfy your hunger. Still working on that.  
>> I'm starving. I want more carbs. 
>> I might be able to run 10k, but I am not in shape AT ALL.  
>> How am I sweating so much?! Even my eyelids and elbows are sweating. 
>> I am so sore. Every inch of my body hurts. Why am I so out of shape? 
>> Why are my neck muscles so sore? Do I not know how to do crunches anymore? 
>> Why does my kid want me to read him a book while I'm holding a plank? He doesn't even like books! 
>> I don't want another container of veggies. I want more carbs! 
>> I'm starving.  
>> Why does coffee with milk taste so much worse than coffee with cream? Why can't I just like black coffee? 
>> THIS is one serving of brown rice? I've easily been eating three times as much food at one meal as I should have been. 
>> Am I going to be sore for the whole 21 days? 
>> I have way more willpower than I ever gave myself credit for. I can do this.*

*Confession: I'm not doing this all on my own. A friend of mine (she who will remain nameless until she's ready to share her story) started this at the same time as me. We figured the moral support would be good, and keep us on track.  When she texts me that she's hangry and starving, it's so comforting to know I'm not alone. Only someone who has gone through this program or is going through this program, can truly appreciate how challenging it is. And I feel like if we can hang in there together, we can get through this. Accountability really does make a difference. 

Have you done the 21 Day Fix, or a similar program before? 

July 20, 2015

Weekending: Pyjama Days, Hiking and BBQ's

A lot of our time on the weekends is spent trying to complete projects we have going on around the house. While our house is far from a fixer upper, (it's only a few years old), there's still a little wear and tear and cosmetic projects that need looking after. But, I don't want our summer to pass us by and all we have to show for it is freshly painted walls! It's easy to stay in, but we try to find a balance of working around the house and getting out and doing things.

Friday, Calgary was hit with a crazy storm. It rained most of the day and the howling winds were out of control. It was the perfect day to stay in our pyjamas, eat snacks on the couch and watch movies. Sully's attention span for TV is max 20 minutes, but I'll take what I can get. Since I felt bad for Jim having to take the train home from work in this weather, we drove downtown and picked him up, stopping to get Tim Horton's for dinner on the way home.

pyjama day

Saturday, Jim got to work sanding a few walls in the house and I baked the Lemon Blueberry Greek Yogurt Muffins that I bookmarked from Running With Spoons. I thought for sure they'd be a hit with Sully, but oh the faces he made! Luckily, Jim was a huge fan and downed three in one go.

Lemon Blueberry Greek Yogurt Muffins
After Sully woke up from his afternoon nap, we headed out to Bragg Creek and did the Diamond T Loop trail, which is 4.5km and took us just over an hour to do. It's a pretty steep climb up, which definitely had us huffing and puffing, but then heading down is a breeze! There's a bench and a lookout when you get to the top, but the trees are so thick at this time of year that there wasn't a lot to see, view wise. Definitely a great hike to do when you just want something quick.

Diamond T Loop Trail Diamond T Loop Trail Diamond T Loop Trail Diamond T Loop Trail Diamond T Loop Trail

Sully loves when we hike with him in the backpack carrier and he doesn't make a peep the entire time. It's so great that we are such a short drive from mountain hiking trails.

We picked up stuff to throw on the BBQ on the way home and then started on season 2 of An Idiot Abroad once Sully was in bed.

Sunday, we had a quiet morning at home puttering around. Jim went out for a motorcycle ride while Sully napped and I got ready for my cousin's birthday BBQ at my aunt's that evening. It's so nice that we have some family here and can still attend family get-togethers. My aunt Max and her husband Barry always cook delicious food! And the adult interaction for me is always nice, haha! Of course, I failed to take any photos of the evening, although Jim did get this awesome one of me and Sully, ha!

Me and Sully Me and Sully

Tell me something fun you did this weekend! 
Have you hiked out near Bragg Creek? What are some of your favourite trails?

July 15, 2015

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

I have never met a historical fiction book about World War II that I won't read. It's a topic that I will always find fascinating and never tire of reading about or learning about. There are so many different stories to be told about the war, from so many different sides and points of view. When The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley came on my radar, I immediately requested it at my library and as luck would have it, there were no prior holds on the few copies out there.

I'm writing about this book because I want every single person I know, and even those I don't know, to read this book. I honestly cannot imagine anyone not enjoying this story. And to further convince you, The War That Saved My Life is a young-reader (middle grade) book, so it's a quick read, but worth every minute that it does take you.

The War That Saved My Life is the story of Ada, a ten year old English girl and her six year old brother, Jamie. Or, at least that's how old we think they are, as neither of them have ever celebrated a birthday before and don't even know what day they were born on.

Ada and Jamie live with their mother, in London, in a one room apartment above the pub their mom works at. Ada was born with a club foot (although she doesn't know there's an actual diagnosis for her disability) and her mother has treated Ada as a cripple, with utter disgust, disrespect and embarrassment, since the day she was born. Ada has never stepped outside the walls of their apartment, she doesn't know how to walk, and she's often the victim of her mother's abuse, both verbal and physical. Her world is tiny and the only thing that gives her purpose is taking care of Jamie.

As the war becomes more serious, children in the town are being sent away by train to live in the country, away from Hitler's war and imminent danger. Ada's mom, forever ashamed of her "condition", only intends to send Jamie away, telling Ada that no one would want her with her ugly foot. But Ada has other plans, and without their mother knowing, Ada sneaks off with Jamie early in the morning, and makes it on to the train with him.

The world that they are met with comes as quite the culture shock. They aren't used to kindness, baths, clean clothes, full stomachs or an adult that won't hit them when they disobey. This new life with Susan, their caregiver, presents them with new opportunities and experiences, and opens up their whole little world. Imagine Ada's bewilderment when she discovers that her club foot is nothing to be ashamed of and no reason to be locked up for: "your foot's a long way from your brain". But despite all this, Ada and Jamie can't fully accept their new situation as surely it will be ripped away from them as soon as the war is over. The inner turmoil that Ada struggles with over accepting their new situation and not taking things for granted was so well done.

The War That Saved My Life is heartbreaking, heartwarming, sad, funny, hopeful and also a bit scary. I felt every single emotion immensely. How will Ada and Jamie adapt to their new life with Susan if they can't fully trust her? What will happen when the war ends? Will Ada's and Jamie's mom ever come look for them, and what will she do if she does?

I don't think I can fully express, in words, the effect this book had on me. I couldn't put it down, and when I had to, I couldn't wait to get back to it. Ada, and Jamie, and Susan were such real people to me, people I wanted to reach through the pages and hug and then have a cup of tea with. I still think about them and it's been several days since I read the last pages.

I have read my share of historical fiction books on World War II, and I can honestly say that this one is in the running for my all-time favourite. I beg of you, make this a book you read too. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Do you enjoy reading historical fiction? 
What's your favourite book on WWII?

July 13, 2015

Weekending: Calgary Stampede Edition

Believe it or not, I have never really gone to the Stampede before, despite living only 3 hours away from it most of my life. Sure, there was the odd road trip down for a night of drinking at a bar while the Stampede was going on, but I don't recall ever having set foot on the actual grounds of the Stampede before.

Friday, Jim took the afternoon off of work and we headed down on the train to the Stampede around 3pm. It was a hot week all last week, and Friday was no exception. We were already hot and hungry by the time we arrived, so we headed into the Big Four building for some air conditioning and food. We ate in the Tiki Hut which is a lounge area that serves alcohol only and allows minors up until 7pm. My aunt Max and her husband Barry met us there for a drink before we headed off on our separate ways. (They had tickets to Blake Shelton!)

Calgary Stampede Calgary Stampede

We took Sully over to the Agrium building to see all the farm animals. He loves animals and he got quite a kick out of the big sheep, cows and horses.

Calgary Stampede Agrium Calgary Stampeded Agrium

After that, we walked around the grounds and ate some mini donuts (my must-have for any fair I visit!). Sully would only eat them if we liked the sugar off first. I don't know who's child he is. I also made it my mission to find the Pineapple Whip stand to try a, you guessed it, pineapple whip "ice cream". It was delicious and refreshing and Sully definitely approved of this one!

Calgary Stampede Pineapple Whip Calgary Stampede 

We then headed over to the Grand Stands for the Chuck Wagon event and TransAlta show. We were lucky enough to get free tickets to the show (thanks Krista-Lee!) and spent the rest of the evening there. Our seats were fantastic, but unfortunately, Sully was not interested in sitting still for very long and he kept trying to pull the hat off of the lady sitting in front of us, who, I must say, was not impressed. (But shout out to all the young guys sitting behind us and next to us who indulged Sully with his never ending request for high-fives!). We ended up going down to the standing area where we could walk around and watch the chuck wagons cross the finish line right up close.

Calgary Stampede Chuck Wagons Calgary Stampede Chuck Wagons Calgary Stampede Chuck Wagons 

In attempts to get Sully to fall asleep in the ergo on me, we ended up leaving and walking around the grounds before heading back for the TransAlta show. The theme of the show was Canada and it was a pretty spectacular event! There's dancing and singing, acrobatics, fireworks, an impressive stage with moving parts and props, and the trip down Canadian history lane was pretty fun. We ended up leaving just before the fireworks at the end of the show started as we wanted to beat the crowds at the train station.

Calgary Stampede TransAlta show

We got home and into bed at a ridiculously late time, but it was worth it! And Sully slept in till 8:30 the next morning and then came into our bed for another two hours, so we really can't complain.

Saturday morning, our community was having what we thought was a Stampede breakfast, but when we arrived, it was actually a Stampede BBQ. Hotdogs for breakfast! We didn't stick around too long, it was hot out and we needed to get back home to eat something of real sustenance. But not before Sully had a chance to sit in the cop car there and push all the buttons that make the sirens go off! He didn't even need to be shown what to press. He was pretty proud of himself. On the walk home, Sully spotted an abandoned balloon which he was obsessed with for the rest of the day.

Silverado Stampede BBQ Silverado Stampede BBQ Silverado Stampede BBQ Silverado Stampede BBQ Silverado Stampede BBQ Silverado Stampede BBQ

The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing, naps for Sully and then I headed over to Ange's place with a bunch of other Calgary bloggers for a BBQ and fireworks. Her condo has an amazing view of the Stampede grounds and front row seats to the fireworks! Of course, in typical blogger fashion, no photos were taken to document the night except for the fireworks ones and this one I took of our very short game of Cards Against Humanity. It may have been my first time ever playing it and I may have laughed a little too hard.

Calgary Stampede Fireworks
{Photo ℅ Ashley}
Cards Against Humanity

Sunday was more of a recovery from the Stampede day. We slept in, had breakfast, watched a few episodes of Idiot Abroad (hilarious show!) and then packed up the truck with our bikes and headed out to the Glenmore Reservoir. We originally just planned to go for a short bike ride, but after we made it around about a third of the way we decided to just keep going. It was a beautiful day for ride, and I'm pretty impressed that we biked 15km.

Glenmore Reservoir Glenmore Reservoir Glenmore Reservoir 

We came home starving, BBQ'd some burgers and then put Sully to bed. Another episode of Idiot Abroad before the weekend is officially over.

Local friends, did you go to the Stampede this year? What's your favourite thing to eat there?
Tell me something fun you did this weekend!