I find there is always an element of terror involved when you attempt to pull off a large event. This weekend, the bridal party held the Stag and Doe for my sister and her financé.We made it through the evening without too many casualties and we even made them some money. So a success over all.
We spent Friday night at the farm house of one of the bridesmaids, prepping the pulled pork and making vats of potato salad.
Saturday was spent setting up and pulling off the event!
The Bridemaids all had hot pink shirts with “Team Bride” and the Groomsmen had the tacky suit tees.
Raised money to make them sing – it was a bit awkward when they were actually good at it…
Other than that, I did quite a bit of running. There was Saturday morning with Angela.
Followed by a couple spin classes.
And then tonight.
Today was supposed to be a rest day. I tried. Really I did. I watched almost an ENTIRE season of a show, had a 2 hour nap, ate a ridiculous amount of food and celebrated my father.
But then this happened…
It was a perfect night and without thinking, I threw on my running shoes and went out for a glorious 15 km run. Decent time, I felt fabulous and there was a lightening storm to watch.
I want to sum up the weekend by saying a wee bit about my dad. If I could describe my father, it would have to be by reaching back to my undergrad days, studying Greek mythology and the epic novel with the Latin phrase In Medias Res, which means In the Middle of things.
Teaching me how to belay a number of years ago
My dad exemplifies that for me. He is a force of action and represents wisdom, strength and humour to me. I am just a bit of a daddy’s girl and I could not be more proud of his accomplishments as a successful business owner, first rate husband and strong father. When I think of someone I want to be like when I “grow up”, I think of him.
Thanks dad. For not letting anything stop you and living life with your ears back.
I hope you all had a wonderful, relaxing weekend and are recharged and ready to take on the world this week!
My weekend started on a bad note.
On Friday, I picked up our Creative Director and headed to Toronto for a morning conference. I have been logging a lot of hours this week and was feeling a bit under the weather and was planning on taking the rest of the afternoon off to relax and recharge.
Emphasis on planning.
On the way down, I noticed that the low tire pressure light was on and after parking at the hotel, noticed that my rear tire was deflating.
So I went to the conference and called Toyota and they came and put on my spare and directed me to the nearest mechanic. As the hours slipped by, thoughts of grabbing a few hours of extra sleep at home in my bed ended and I was left stormily waiting for my car.
I ventured outside and this was the first thing I saw on the sidewalk:
Challenge accepted! I was going to have an adventure!
I decided to seek out a cafe by wandering the streets until I ran into something perfect.
I came across WISH, an adorable, breezy cafe, parked myself on one of the patio couches and read a book after ordering their most popular and indulgent meal. (I love to do that at new places instead of tackling the menu.)
So even though it was cushioned with a flat tire, auto work and then 3 hours of rush hour traffic, it was a perfect little reminder to stay grounded, check my attitude about a situation and just relax when life goes differently than I was hoping.
I needed to work on Saturday, manning a booth for Windfall Ecology Festival, but I used my break to go on a glorious 20 km run in a new area in York Region. I tackled some trails and found a road that fulfilled my hill training quota for the month. I even found these little guys:
This seems to be a stressful time of year for people. Whether you are searching for a job, working overtime so your coworkers can have their vacation, or just going through a stressful time, remember to stop and do things that you love. For me, running is a perfect deal with life when things go wrong – it forces me to slow down, breathe deeply and focus on just putting one foot in front of the other.
Here’s to slowing down, taking a breather and staying grounded.
I had a weekend of running! I have run for the past 8 years or so mainly solo. I have run with local trail teams and varsity through university, but I seemed to thrive on hitting the trail, freeways and sidewalks alone without leaving notes or letting my friends and family know where I am. I love just dropping off the radar and running to my hearts content.
I do realize this is unsafe and a 127 Hours incident in the making.
Recently, I have tried to broaden my horizons and realized how much faster my runs are slipping by with someone to talk to. I used to claim that a run was me time where I didn’t need to talk. But adding a friend to a workout adds so many new dimensions to a run. Examples, taken from this weekend:
Saturday morning – 7:15 am – 1 hour
Angela is a blogger friend (EatSpinRunRepeat) who is one of the most inspiring people in my life. This girl does everything, succeeds at all of it and somehow makes it seem like a breeze. So when we run, we discuss everything from blog platforms and tech problems (she always has a guy for it) to pushing each other when we tackle that huge hill. She is a fast and dedicated runner and helps me keep my speed up and I am sure to get that stretch and foam roll in at the end and still be on time to teach my fitness classes.
I didn’t run this one. After teaching three classes, I headed up to Ancaster to cheer on Simon as he was in the area to run a leg of the 100 Mile race with his team. It was great to check out the race because I am planning to run it next May as well as to meet some amazing local ultra-runners. It was great to make the connections as I continue to train and become a better athlete; it is important to be surrounded by athletes who are role models. It looks like my summer trail workouts are going to be with groups from now on which is a fantastic change.
(Oh, and for the record? Not only did Simon’s team win – they set the course record. Again.)
Sunday morning – 8 am – 1 hour
I have coached these ladies for the past month and a half and it has been a pleasure to see them go from not running at all to ripping out an hour. I warned them that I was doing a Running with Friends post and they struck a pose! These ladies help me remember why I started running – to see them discover all the pains and joys that come with sport has been such an exciting and rewarding thing for me. And people that run together share an endorphin fuelled bond. (And Starbucks, in our case. We like to call it a Coffee Run)
After church, I met up with another inspiring athlete and forgot to take a picture but…
Hydro Cut Trails – 12:30 pm – 1 hour
Ashley is a trainer friend who is an absolutely ridiculously shredded Crossfitter. I took a Kettlebells class with her and needed to walk out for a “drink”. (Really, I was just dying). I have recently won her over to the dark side and she has taken up trail running. This was her first foray into the local trails and it was a pleasure to show her around. Running with someone who is stronger in another sport is a huge benefit because we are swapping benefits – I teach her the ins and outs of trail running and introduce her to more local runners and she makes sure that I keep muscle density as I increase my race training. Win. Win. And she is a true athlete and adventurer – really just a pleasure to be around.
So why run with friends? They strengthen your weaknesses, keep you accountable and help the miles fly by. I am completely won over to this whole running with friends idea. This is also a part of a challenge that I am working on with Under Armour. Stay tuned for more info on Wednesday!
A big thank you to all of you were so patient as I pressed a giant reset button and took a few weeks off of blogging to go on the Trek and get organized when I returned. This past Friday night, I spent that majority of the evening unpacking, organizing and going over the financial details of the trip. Can I just say that driving all the way to North Dakota and back cost me a mere $330 in my Prius? LOVE my car!
I have gotten a lot of people asking me about my trip. How it came about? How the experience was? How I am feeling? I have a lot of caring people in my life and I figured this is the best way to bring everyone up to speed.
How it came to happen: A couple Wednesdays ago, I was sitting in my regular spot in Starbucks, sipping a latte and trying to hammer out my column for AJ: The Green Athlete. The latest one can be seen here.
I was short on time and I was scrambling to find an organization that connected athletes and environmentalism. I forget exactly how it happened, but I landed on Adventure Scienceout of the blue and read their information on 100 Miles of Wild Trek in North Dakota this spring. I began furiously typing up my piece, getting more and more excited about the organization.
I thought it was an American company, but I felt a compulsion to email the founder, Simon Donato, and said I wanted to get involved somehow. I was thinking helping with the website, content, copy or promotion, but within 10 minutes, he had emailed me back and said that one of his athletes was hit by a car and potentially could not participate in the trek and would I be interested?
The days before leaving were a blur of requesting time off from bosses, cancelling appointments and a surgery, borrowing gear from friends, getting travel insurance, buying gear from Adventure Guide and figuring out how to tell my mother who had left the country for a short trip and had no idea that I would up and leave for a 100 mile trek while she was gone. (She has known me for over 23 years, I cannot understand why she would be surprised anymore).
My favourite conversation was with my AJ boss before I left. I called him to ask permission to go:
“So, it is going to the badlands of North Dakota and running 100 miles and it would be my vacation time and I will get everything done that I need to when I get back and (Insert other run-on, desperate pleading sentences here)”
He was silent for a moment. “Jessica. I knew you were an unusual human being when I hired you, but I can never get used to the requests you keep throwing my way. But GO!”
So I went. I had a brief conversation with my father as I headed to the border so he could tell my mom and break it gently. He gleefully crowed “THIS is the reason I held you over the banister by your ankles and swung you around when you were young – so you wouldn’t be afraid of anything!” (Do not jump to thoughts of child abuse. We loved it and always asked for more.)
Anyways. So the drive was a LOT longer than I thought. I taught a spin class before heading out and was on the road by 8 am on the last Friday of April. I had loaded up my iPod with new music and an audioversion of Wild by Cheryl Strayed, but the roads blurred into each other and I was almost hallucinating when I reach Minnesota for the evening to stay with one of the trek leader’s houses.
I saw distances like this on my GPS.
Drive 760 km, then turn left
Soon, I was in the barren world of cactuses, oil trucks and country music. I heard advertisements for liquor stores that were leveraging cattle branding parties as a reason to come in and buy booze.
I arrived on the Saturday to the tiny town of Grassy Butte where I abandoned my car, picked up my huge back pack and headed to the base camp with the leader of the trek, Richard.
From there, I met the team and was briefed on what we were to expect for the week.
We were to head out into the badlands and would cover territory that people have never walked on and probably will never walk on again. We were to stop every 2-3 hours for “science” as they called it. We entered an analysis of the surrounding vegetation and wildlife into a book and took film and video footage to back it up.
Why? Because they are planning on putting in 30 – 50,000 new oil wells in the badlands over the next 5 years. Our team’s goal was to go into the badlands as a completely neutral group of scientists and ultra runners, go to the wildest and most remote bits of the badlands and report back. The research will be taken to the University of North Dakota and the information will be presented to the citizens to help them make informed decisions when it comes down to the decisions surrounding the oil pads. Also, many years ago, it was the Badlands that inspired Theodore Roosevelt to develop the National Parks System and it was our job to see if the Badlands were as life changing now as they were back then.
I can tell you they are. I spent 7 days immersed in them, outside every day. Some days it was so cold that we woke up with frost on our tent and other days I came back with a sunburnt nose. We saw every form of wild life and woke up to sights like this:
Photo cred: Andrew Reinhard
I had experienced a lot of sad and discouraging things in 2013 – a break up, financial set backs, surgery, fear for Jolene. And even though the Badlands didn’t take any of that away, it was a reset button. I met some of the most incredible people who either love science or ultra running and in many cases both. I was able to learn so much from the people around me. I learned how to orienteer from a US Army Ranger and discovered native flints in the creek bed with a geologist. The badlands broke me open and then filled me again.
Getting away from the sappiness, an average day out there would begin with this.
We would put on our running clothes for the day (or in my case, almost every piece of clothing I brought to stay warm) and head to the eating area for Stoked Oats. (Buy them).
By around 7 am, we were ready to hit the Badlands with our maps, detectors and garmins. I was either on team Speed Deer or Mountain Kitty and we covered 20-30 miles with 3000-4500 ft of altitude each day. We would hike, climb and run through rolling buttes, grass lands, cattle feeding pastures and creek beds reporting on the wild life, landscape and oil pads, arriving at the last point at around 5-6:30 pm each night.
Modelling some petrified wood
Taken on the last day. They told us to take fun pictures but after running through miles and miles of cattle grazing, this was as creative as we could get.
We were picked up and taken to base camp, which moved about 3 times throughout the course of the Trek. From there, we would “shower” (baby wipes), change into every article of clothing we had and gather around the fire to eat dinner and discuss our day, which was recorded or filmed to provide additional data.
By 10 – 11 pm each night, we would fall exhausted into our tents and the day would start all over again.
Richard Rothus: Archaeologist, Historian, and Owner of Trefoil Cultural and Environmental and was in charge of Basecamp and Logistics.
Andrew Reinhard: Director of Publications for the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA), Archaeologist. He headed up the control group which walked the trails of the Badlands.
Tim Puetz: Biomedical Research, National Institutes of Health, Army Ranger. Ultrarunner.
Keith Szlater: Technical Service and Basecamp and Logistics coordinator.
Tyler Leblanc: Our paramedic and member of the control team.
Jane Davis: Community Health Educator and Ultrarunner.
and, um. Me.
Needless to say, it was a wonderful experience to get to know all of these amazing and accomplished people over the course of a week. Another cool thing about the trek is that we carried the Explorer Club Flag.
The Explorers Club is an international multidisciplinary professional society dedicated to the advancement of field research, of which Theodore Roosevelt was an honorary member. The flag represents the impressive history of courage and accomplishment, and has been carried by members to the Moon, the depths of the ocean, and around the globe. I am excited to be able to join the club having been on an approved expedition with the flag.
I will be going on more adventures with this team as I am now an ultrarunner for Adventure Science. I was given a huge boost of confidence by some of the ultra runners who told me they didn’t slow down for me. It instilled a desire in me to train harder, race more frequently and in more international races and the belief that I am good enough to do it.
It was sad to say goodbye to everyone on the team, but last Saturday, I dropped Jane off at the airport and began the long trek home. I stayed in Chicago for the night, ate deep dish pizza for the first time in my life (overrated) and slept for a solid 12 hours.
I arrived home on Sunday night and hit the ground running Monday morning.
Needless to say, with 48 hours of driving, I had a lot of time to think, some of which relates to the blog. Keep your eyes peeled for some new changes. Laces and Lattes will be around for a long time, but it will continue to change because I keep changing. Thank you all for being along for the run!
So if you follow Laces and Lattes on Facebook, you will know I didn’t sleep much last week.
Starting a new job and switching my schedule around means extra stress and a few too many 4 am mornings for my taste.
You will also know I buy things when I am tired.
So the fact that I was at the mall two days in a row on Friday and Saturday for my Mac is bad news. I will go out my way to say that there is nothing wrong with my Mac – after 5 years, I have put no money into it, I was just figuring out how to update my system to Mountain Lion so I can sync my iPhone and Mac. Done and I love Apple even MORE if humanly possible.
To enter a story within a story:
On January 23, I decided to buy a pair of Calvin Klein kitten heels at the Bay. I needed them, they were nice, black and nondescript, exactly as I tend to like my shoes.
Within a few weeks of minimal wear, they were literally falling apart.
I took them back to the Bay and just asked what they could do.
They were awesome and took them back for me, but then I decided to upgrade my shoes and then this happened…
Back to the real story:
I wear black almost constantly and I thought I would try and break out of this trend with chestnut. I couldn’t really remember if black and brown go together well, and called upon an expert.
I may be the only female who consistently calls upon her boy friend for fashion advice.
I didn’t hear anything and debated callingPaul Punchers to get a hold of him, but decided to brave the decision on my own by asking a sales person.
“Not with ugly shoes. But those are nice shoes so you will be fine.”
So I bought them.
On my way out of the mall, my phone rang and Jesse called with the express purpose to tell me that under no circumstances can I pull it off and I should get black.
I got huffy and told him I bought them and I was going to wear black and brown because I wanted to and the world was going to like it.
And so I did/do/will continue to do so.
Take that, fashion.
That being said, I am grateful that the biggest disagreements Jesse and I have are over the fact that I am comfortable with clashing and I am blessed to have such a good source of fashion advice.
Happy Monday, one and all! I hope your weekend was as relaxing as mine. I spent as much time as possible outside, soaking up that amazing sun!
On Friday, I hinted that I went shopping for a something that I had been waiting for over a year for.
Which means I am now on instagram! It is a whole, new world of filters, friends and selfies. I kid. Self portraits are one of my least favourite things in the world. So on the off chance that I need to perform them, I will try to do them as creatively as possible.
The very first picture I put up on Instagram was this lovely piece:
Now. I promise that I will be more creative in the future than putting my mud caked, sweaty runners online for the entire world to see, but I truly felt as if it were myself or the shoe. So really, you all won. And I was so excited about the fact that I went on a long run on the most beautiful day in 2013.
I thought I would take this opportunity to use this seamless leeway to tell you another running story. A good one that is at the foundation of why I run. It is wrapped up in a single person who is fuelled by foreign beers and anger.
My father has a long time employee, we will call him George, that keeps to himself except to utter a few sarcastic tones and is generally not thrilled with people as a rule. However, if you want him to talk, ask him about running.
George has a way of deflating your best stories with a single word. I remember in high school when I was winning cross country races, I would go to him and tell him I ran 5 KM in less than 19 minutes. Without missing a beat, he would throw back at me: Run an ultra-marathon and let me know if you are good then.
Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t just as easy as just strapping on shoes and running. You had to join a club first. George invited me out to a trail running group that met every Tuesday night and introduced me to his friends, and then told me to run with another group.
So I did. I found the most advanced group, who were winning ultra marathons around the region and I kept up, even if it meant returning to my car with blood and mud on my legs and either the taste of blood or vomit in my throat. (I am such a lady).
And I kept running until I fell in love with it.
George still talks to me when he sees me. Rushing over quickly to tell me about the latest race and checking in to make sure I am still running. He is over 60 and runs at least an ultra marathon a month in racing season. Beyond his crusty exterior, I found he has become fond of me, and what’s more – proud. He has invited me to his house to celebrate race victory parties, to train with him before a long race and has even let me sub in for him on a 30 km race for free.
Despite trying other sports, in a very strange and inexplicable way, running is like coming home every spring. Long winter months of fitness instruction and the odd foray into the icy weather to gingerly scamper over snow banks make me forget the pure joy of just running hard and fast until your breathing syncs with your foot falls and your brain becomes quiet and it is just you and the road and maybe some birds for miles and miles and miles.
Sometimes I break my quiet runs to chase those who are better than me, to remind myself how far I have to go. But no matter how far he finishes behind me, I always can count on George to tell me that I would have been that much better if I would have ran straighter, had newer running shoes, or had been on the trails one more day a week.
And I love it. Because it was his dissatisfaction with my 5 KM that made me think I could do 50 KM. And why I am in the midst of planning to make it 50 miles. Sometimes overt pride from people suggests that your accomplishment is the best you can do, and I love that there is someone who always will have something I could have done better.
No matter how old I am or whether George is always in my life, I will always have his crusty voice telling me what I am doing wrong and how I could be doing it better which keeps me running. Running after perfection. Running after the finish line. And mostly, running for the sheer beauty of running.
Who inspires you in the things you are passionate about?
I waited till tonight to do this post because it was a perfect looong weekend and I fit as much into it as I possibly could.
Friday night, I worked late and met Jesse at Verses for a belated Valentine’s Day meal. That boy certainly knows how to turn on the charm – he was at the restaurant early with chocolate and flowers.
I had never been to Verses but really didn’t feel right snapping photographs of my food so I could suavely nibble at my paté and caviar as if it was a weekly occurence. Inside it was more like, omygoshomygoshomygosh, but I did snag the pdf of the menu because I KNOW some of you are major foodies. Check it out. It was fabulous and I think it is so necessary to eat well every once in a while. To dress up, take 2-3 hours and just enjoy food and company in a beautiful setting. I love making memories like that.
The rest of my weekend, I thought I would just dump the contents of my phone to give you mini snatches of what happened:
Taught a couple disco sway spin classes on Saturday
I just returned from a fabulous weekend away with my family.
We were all sitting around the table for dinner one evening and Max (my sister’s fiance) remarked how ridiculous it is that we need to drive 3 hours away in order to all be together as a family. We all agreed, but it is about being intentional with our time. That is why vacations are so important – to get away from the regular routine and to intentionally carve out space for your loved ones. I was only gone for 2 days, but I feel so much more refreshed than the average weekend.
We joined my father at The Carriage Ridge Resort where he had been staying all week.
In all honesty, I don’t have many pictures of this weekend because it was the furthest thing from my mind, but our rooms looked something like this:
We spent the majority of Saturday snowboarding.
Max & Megan – We talked lots of wedding plans this weekend!
LOVE these girls.
We didn’t really do all that much, which is the best part! I tackled more of my book.
It has been a rough book to work through. Recently, I was lamenting it’s difficulty to a friend and she asked me if the reason if the reason I cannot put down hard books in favour of things I ACTUALLY want to read is a residual affect of my athleticism? The fact that I just do things over and over, even though they suck. (Which is mighty close to the definition of insanity, I may add). I think she is right, I feel a moral obligation to a book to finish it once I have cracked it’s spine.
I have to say, my efforts are being rewarded because at about 250 pages in, it is becoming fabulous. It has been one of those books from the beginning that I couldn’t give up on even though I didn’t know why. (Maybe because my English Major heart would be wounded by the fact that I gave up on a book that won the Booker of Booker prizes.)
Regardless, I read my book.
I had a race and a faux water aerobics class that left me and my siblings laughing so hard we were crying.
Outdoor portion of the pool!
We ate some beautiful meals together.
We watched this movie and talked about it:
We fought a little.
And then we made up.
That is the beauty of family and why I am so proud to call them mine.
What did you do this weekend?
Are you one of those people that when you pick up a book, you HAVE to finish it? Or perhaps a tad more level?