Thursday, 30 June 2016

St. Patrick's Island

On Sunday, we went for brunch at Ten Foot Henry with Greg's mom before she headed back to Saskatoon and then we headed to St. Patrick's Island to explore.  Greg and I have briefly ran through it and around part of it last year before it opened but hadn't seen much of it.  It started out cloudy but it warmed up soon and got quite warm.  It was the perfect afternoon.
I love all the mix of wood and metal that surrounds the area.  I have no idea how it will hold up against the nature elements but it sure looks great.  

How awesome is this path instead of boring sidewalk??

So many amazingly well crafted and modern seating areas and some barbecues for wiener roasts.  Seriously I cannot decide which seating I like best but I am almost positive I want them all in my backyard.  I love it.

When this park opened last year, the sliding hill was not covered and apparently the slides - which are metal - burned some kids when the weather was really hot so instead of getting rid of them or letting kids get hurt, they covered them.  This also is a bonus when it has rained a lot and you are worried they were going to be wet.  This is not called a play ground but a play mound.  It has everything you could want for hours of fun.

The apparatus on the bottom left is way more dangerous then I thought it would be, although I think it is because I lack both balance and coordination.  The girls really liked it.  It's basically like a swinging bridge that is very swing like if that makes sense.  The round wooden things are like trampolines, they bounce up and down when you jump on them.

Greg enjoyed this play mound as much as the girls.  He climbed up the play structure and slinked his way through the tunnel to get to the other side.  He recommended that I try it but I passed.  The girls were disappointed when we decided to move on, but that was temporary.


There is a hill just behind the play mound and you can see just the stairs.  This hill was built for tobogganing in the winter and concerts in the summer.  There is a fire pit at the top to keep warm in the winter and I assume to roast marshmallows in the summer? I have no idea if it is used in the summer or if it needs to be lit by the city or if anybody can light it.  The girls loved running down the hill and if it hadn't rained earlier that day Penelope for sure would have rolled down it.  Actually she would have rolled down it even with it wet but we wouldn't let her do it. 

The top photo is the very tip of St. Patrick's Island.  The photo of the bridge is there because it was designed to look like skipping rocks.  Greg and I both decided we loved it more then the Peace Bridge.  The photo on the right is the girls walking along Trout Beach.  You can wade in it which the kids wanted to do but again we wouldn't let them.  I look forward to doing it over the summer for sure though!

I know a lot of people hate the art that the city mandates for all new construction in the city.  I believe 10% of the budget has to go to public art on display.  This not only looks like a super cool art piece but it is also a source of light.  I have not been here at night to know if it gives off any substantial amount of light but I love it none the less.  I love all the amazing views you get of our beautiful city.   

This is a man made wetland on the island where they actually pump water into it.  You can see the pump towards the right side.  We also saw like 50 ducks near here and they were not as happy to see us as we were to see them.  Lots of hissing and staring from the mama ducks.  

Walking to one last view point before venturing back to our car.  

We loved visiting St. Patrick's Island and we were pleasantly surprised by how much there was to do there.  You could easily spend a few hours there and not be bored for a second.  The girls and I can't wait to come back with a picnic and spend more time exploring and wading in Trout Beach!

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Calgary Tower

On Saturday, we headed to the Calgary Tower since Greg's mom was in town and we wanted to do something other then going to the zoo.  Penelope had never been to the Calgary Tower and Finley hadn't been since was a baby with Madison and she obviously has no recollection of it.

Approaching the Calgary Tower.  

Looking down to the ground.  I could look through the glass all day.  Unlike the other 3 members of my immediate family, I am not scared of heights.  I found it interesting how much the tower curved because you don't notice it when you are on the ground.

Finley is very much afraid of heights and she was very afraid to step on the glass and then when we finally got her on the glass and she looked down, I am sure her heart stopped.  She was so sure the glass would break and we would all fall to our deaths.  Thankfully the glass is strong enough to hold even an elephant!

In this photo you can see the building I worked at before we moved, it's the one in the middle.  It used to be the tallest.  It was surpassed by the Bow a few years ago and is now being surpassed by Brookfield Place.  Greg currently works in Bow Valley Square which is in this photo but I can't remember if it is the short white building beside Brookfield or the one in the middle between Brookfield and Suncor.  Greg has worked in 8 different buildings downtown and 7 were with the same company haha.

I love this photo and looking down through the glass.  I think I need to frame this one somewhere.  When we were in NYC we went to the observation deck of the Empire State Building and I loved looking down from there too.  Greg not so much.

The girls got audio tour devices and Finley loved learning all about Calgary and the things she could see from the Tower. 

Here you can see the Saddledome and Stampede grounds and the building we moved to when I worked downtown after we left Suncor.  It's the shorter glass building on the right.

Lots of great photo ops for tourists and kids like mine hahaha

Penelope was upset her audio tour device ran out of batteries.  She was not interested in learning about the tower or the city but she found a piano playing game on it and that's why she was upset.

Finley trying to overcome her fear of heights and looking down.  She was still a little uneasy but she did pretty well. 

The black blog of a suv right near the overpass is our dodge journey.  The girls were excited to see it from the tower. 

Penelope was determined to break the glass before we left but was very unsuccessful - thank goodness!!!

We had such a great time visiting the Calgary Tower with Grandma Gail!!!

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

End of the School Year

 IToday is (finally) the last day of school!! It seems like everyone on our block has been done for such a long time! 

Penelope is officially a kindergarten graduate who will no longer spend her afternoons hanging out with me and instead will be fostering her ever growing mind with her fellow classmates in grade 1. Penelope's teacher was new to the school this year and she was/is amazing. She is such a great teacher and told them funny stories about her life and kept it very much real. She encouraged their wild imaginations and helped them grow from shy preschoolers to energetic grade oners. 

Penelope would like to be the next Taylor Swift when she grows up although that could very well change by the next time you see her. 

She loves to read, do puzzles, play games and anything shopkin related. She loves soccer, riding her bike, ice cream + sidewalk chalk. 

Penelope very much excels with structured routine and breaks from school are always a challenge so it will be interesting to see how she does over the summer. She has one summer camp lined up but that's it as far as structured, organized activity. 

Finley is excited to move to grade 2 but is also sad to leave her teacher. Although I was a little wary of her teacher at the beginning, she is very good at her job and getting the best out of her students.   Finley was put in advanced language arts for most of the year as her teacher was afraid she was getting bored with the grade 1 curriculum. There are 3 kids from all 3 grade 1 classes who participate in the LA program. Finley is also very sad to leave Ms M. 

Finley loves to read and is currently reading big chapter books. We have to force her to turn her light off at night because she gets so involved in her books. Math is her favorite subject and she also loves science and art. Her Star Wars drawings get better each time she does them. 

Finley has wanted to be an astronaut for years and this still rings true today. She plans on getting an engineering degree, moving to Houston and flying to the moon. She has expanded it though to a pink rocket ship not the standard white ones. She plans on bringing back moon rocks for all her friends + family. 

Finley is looking forward to camping + biking lots this summer, playing at the beach and going on her first ever overnight (for 5 nights!!) backpacking trip. She's very much her farther's child. 


On Friday of last week, the kindergartens had their farewell celebration. They performed for us and then grabbed a parent to teach them. Greg took the morning off so he could go so Penelope taught him the dance. It was oodles of cuteness. 

The fact that both girls are sad to leave their teachers speaks so much to how great they are and how amazing our school is. Greg and I have talked about moving communities but one of the things holding us back is the school the teachers, volunteers + students are so awesome and it's a great community to be a part of. As sad as we all are to say goodbye to Ms M + Miss H, I know we will again be blessed with 2 new teachers next year. And if we're lucky, maybe Penelope will get to be in Ms M's class! 


Today when both girls are done school, they will come to a few fun surprises. I have done this every year since Finley started at pace kids. It's all from dollarama, the dollar bins at Michaels + Walmart and a new beach towel and water bottle both which they desperately need. The two games in the middle I got on local buy n sell sites. I am hoping the new paper, crafts, markers + games will help ease rainy day boredom. 

Have a happy summer everybody! 

Monday, 27 June 2016

Fit Week In Review

MONDAY:
This was the day following my half marathon.  I was pretty tired and I thought my calves were in enough pain to kill me.  Greg rolled them out before he left for work that morning and I am sure my neighbours thought he was murdering him.  I wanted nothing more then to go back home after I dropped the girls at school and crawl into bed and do nothing, I mean I deserved it didn't I? But instead I walked to Starbucks and then walked home and mowed my front and back lawns as well as my neighbours.  I knew keeping active would be the best thing for my recovery so I was on my feet the entire day.

I did spent about an hour rolling out and stretching.  My calves and hamstrings were super tight but surprisingly nothing else really was.  The blister on my foot had hardened really well from all the walking I did today which was a huge relief.  I did go to bootcamp where I had to do a lot of running around ball diamonds, squats, burpees, elevated push ups, in and outs, tricep dips and sit ups.  I was happy that I was able to participate fully although by the time I got to the burpees, my legs were starting to feel pretty tired.

My friend Christy over at R Squared did her fitness week in review last week and I loved it and she added her fitbit stats so i am adding mine too! Love this idea Christy!!!

Fitbit Stats: 20, 898 steps


TUESDAY:

Tuesday is typically my short, fast run but my legs were feeling pretty tired when I woke up that morning to postpone it until after I took the girls to school but then they still were tired so I decided to postpone it until the following morning.  Instead, I did a lot of rolling out and lots of stretching.  It was much needed.  Greg again rolled out + massaged my calves and they were finally feeling so much better.

I also started back on my strength training for my right hip and Greg suggested adding a second resistance band to my exercises since I was complaining the single one wasn't doing much.  Instead of doing 30 reps on each leg for each exercise, I am at 10 because it is a lot  harder.  I think this will help my hip a lot! Eventually I hope to add a third one and by then I hope my hip is finally strong enough that I won't need to do this every single day.

Fitbit Stats: 14,033 steps

WEDNESDAY:

On Wednesday I got up early before Greg went to work and went for my run.  It was insanely beautiful out. When I got out of my drive way and onto the sidewalk, I thought I wasn't going to make it to the end of the block.  My legs felt like cement and I felt like a sloth moving.  When I glanced down at my watch, I think my pace was over 8min/km which is really slow for me.  Thankfully by the time I got home my legs were feeling much better.  It was a tough 3km for sure.


That night, I also had bootcamp.  I don't normally do a double workout like this but sometimes you just gotta.  This was the rainbow I saw driving to bootcamp.  Don't worry I was stopped because I was grabbing something from a friends house.  I was the only one at bootcamp and we started off with 2 laps around the park we were at, which wasn't too bad.  We were doing cards which is always really tough.  Here's how it works: Spades were plank to toe touches, diamonds were push up to side plank, clubs were jump lunges, hearts were two frog jumps with high knees back and jokers were 50 burpees.  Whatever number was on the card was what you had to that many of the exercise assigned to it.  It doesn't seem difficult but trust me it really is.  Thankfully I only got the joker card once - but those burpees nearly killed me.  I couldn't figure out why my legs were barely holding me up until I remembered that I had ran that morning.  This workout was still hard that my abs still hurt on Saturday from it.  How awesome is that - despite all the pain hahaha ??

Fitbit Stats: 22, 652 steps

THURSDAY:

Thursday I took a full on rest day.  Like I did nothing.  No stretching, core, rolling or strengthening.  I was done and I needed a full day to do nothing.  I told Greg that night how happy I was that I did nothing and then he asked me how many steps I had gotten and when I told him, he was like that's not a rest day hahahaha.

Fitbit Stats: 14, 719 steps

FRIDAY:

Friday was another beautiful morning but it was hard to get out of bed to run.  I procrastinated and kept telling myself that night or Saturday morning but deep down I think I knew I wouldn't so I got up and went.  I ran 5km and although I wasn't as fast as I would normally be for that distance, I was faster then Wednesday morning.  

Fitbit Stats: 17, 522 steps

SATURDAY:

Saturday really was a lazy day.  I did almost nothing and this time my steps showed hahahahaha

Fitbit Stats: 2,783 steps**

** i don't know the last time I got such a low number in a day.

SUNDAY:

On Sunday morning, I got up early and went for a run with one of my best friends Michelle. She's training for her first half marathon in August and she needed some extra motivation so we ran together.  We did 14km and she did so well!!  It was great getting my legs going for a long distance and the pace was kinda nice for me too.  

Fitbit Stats: 27, 208 steps***

***as I write this blog, it is 8:07pm and the girls are in bed, Greg is biking in West Bragg Creek and I am in bed watching Celebrity Family Feud so I still need to brush my teeth and wash my face but my steps shouldn't jump that much.


All in all, it was a really good recovery week post half marathon.  I am impressed how active I was for the week.

TOTAL STEPS FOR THE WEEK: 119,815

How was your week??

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Lacrosse Ball

I have been suffering from pain and tightness behind my knee for the last few months.  This is one of the many results of a weak hip and other muscles over compensating for it.  I found something on pinterest about a month ago about using a lacrosse ball to squeeze your upper calf muscles and lower hamstring muscles.  I needed to try it so I set out to find a lacrosse ball.

I was legitimately surprised at how hard it was to find one single lacrosse ball in the south.  And by south, I really just mean Shawnessy because I didn't look anywhere else.  Sportchek had a large bag of lacrosse balls for $25 or lacrosse sticks that came with a ball starting at $40.  To me, it was just too expensive.  I tried a bunch of different balls out and ended up buying a softball because it fit right where I needed it too, but once I got home it just wasn't right at all.  

This past weekend,  Penelope had a birthday party in Okotoks and we didn't want to drive back home so we hung around the shopping area.  Greg wanted to look at what they had for kids bikes since Finley will probably need a 24" bike next summer so we went into Source For Sports.  We went upstairs and they had a large assortment of lacrosse balls.  Well really they had white and one maybe red so it wasn't a large assortment but most importantly I could buy just one lacrosse ball.  I told the cashier how excited I was by this and she said they got a lot of people coming in and buying lacrosse balls for the same thing.

Here is a close up of it so you can see where the lacrosse ball goes.  It was seriously the greatest feeling ever and instantly made a difference.  

And here it is with my foot on the ground like it is supposed to be.  I am so grateful that Greg dragged me into the sports store because I really didn't want to go in.  The lacrosse fits perfectly under my knee and gets it stretched so nicely.  I have searched and tried nearly every calf and hamstring stretch on pinterest and nothing got in there deep enough except when I saw Shari and she was able to work it out.  If you have tightness behind your knee, go get a lacrosse ball it's great.  

And you can also put it under your higher hamstrings while sitting on a chair with your feet on the ground.  Put the ball under your hamstring and use your quads to contract your leg up and the ball digs in to your tight hamstring. You can keep repositioning the ball to where you need the pressure.  For me, it was the upper part of my hamstring.  $5 well spent!

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

2016 Banff Marathon

I know you are all wondering where the Bachelorette recap is this morning but it is being pushed back until tomorrow for two reasons: this is far more interesting (in my opinion anyways) and after I got home from bootcamp last night, I was too tired to watch tv and went right to bed.

On Sunday I ran the half marathon at the 2016 Banff Marathon.  It landed on Father's Day which I thought was terrible but it was Greg's idea to register for it and he was ok with me running on his day.    We were supposed to be in DisneyLand during the Calgary Marathon so Greg suggested this as an alternative when I was annoyed I had to miss Calgary.  It is one of my favourites.  We ended up postponing our trip to Disney until November for a variety of reasons but in the end, my amazing physiotherapist Shari at the Running Injury Clinic suggested I skip Calgary and focus on Banff instead.  So I did what she said like I always do because she is the best at her job and she too is a runner which really helps!


On Thursday the Banff Marathon committee, along with Parks Canada, decided to implement the alternate route due to an increased presence of wild life in the area that we would be running.  If you have been following the news, you would know that there have been wolves and bears coming into campsites looking for food.  They had to euthanize a female wolf because they were becoming a problem.  Let this be a friendly reminder to those not familiar with Parks Canada rules: DO NOT FEED THE WILDLIFE!!  They become too dependant on getting food from humans and will start coming into where people are camping.  This is not good.  Animals get put down when this happens.  As cool as it would be to see wolf (or maybe not that cool), its not a good thing.  You would be surprised how many tourists you see a) feeding the animals and b) getting so close to animals that you think that you are going to read about them in the newspaper and not in a good way.  

Anyways, back to the marathon.  This is the first time I have ever had a run changed by wildlife or anything for that matter and although I was annoyed that this had happened, I am quite grateful in the end.  The alternate course was way easier then what the original course would have been. 

Also a first, is getting a virtual bag instead of a bag full of stuff at package pick up.  Not that I would remember to use any of the virtual coupons and deals (to be honest, I wouldn't use the paper ones either) but still a great idea to eliminate paper waste.

Here is everything I needed and more for Sunday's race.  Since it was in Banff and nothing opens in Banff until after the marathon started, I had to make sure I had everything I needed before I left.  I brought both crops + shorts as well as my downtime jacket and 5 mile shirt because you just never know what you will need come race day.  Thankfully I didn't need my jacket!!


I normally only ever eat a banana before a half marathon but because of the 930 start time, i was worried I would get hungry during my race and I didn't want that.  So I ate one of the bananas and the almond and coconut kind bar and it did the trick. 

It started raining Saturday afternoon as we drove to Banff and continued into the evening. Around 9pm, it stopped and you could see blue sky and I was optimistic for great weather the next day.  However, more rain moved into the area + continued until Sunday morning.  The forecast was optimistic so I chose to skip my jacket and wear a crb under my 5 mile long sleeve shirt.  As we got closer to Central Park, which was the start/finish for the race, the sun was trying to peak out.  

I always complain that Greg never takes any photos of me when I am finishing up a race so he did this time and he lucked out with this shot.  I am literally mid air and smiling and waving.  I was smiling because the end was near and because it was nice to see the girls so excited to see me.  The long sleeve shirt was definitely the right call even though I took it off during my first walk break because I was so warm.  When we hit the half way point and turned around, the wind picked up and it was cold.  I totally overran the first half of the race and because of that, I really suffered on the way back.  For some perspective, I ran the first 5km in 28 minutes which was the fastest I have EVER ran in my life and I did the first 10km in an hour and 6 minutes.  But I was tired on my way back, it was hillier, the wind was in my face and I kept getting side cramps which I never do and my sole of my right foot ached with pain.  When I finished the race, I had severe pain right where the bottom of my sports bra ends.  It wasn't from my bra because it was inside my body.  It hurt really bad and then by the time I went to bed, the left side hurt too.  Monday morning they were sore but I as write this late Monday afternoon, they seem to be ok.  I have no idea what it was from, but it sure sucked.  Also I had a hard time breathing too for a few minutes after the race.  It just hurt really bad.  I think it was just running in a higher elevation.  It didn't last too long.  

After I got home, I inspected my right foot and sure enough I had a massive blister on the bottom of my foot.  My shoes were new but I had been wearing them for the last month and had wore them for the 17km run the week before without problem.  I inspected my shoe but nothing unusual was in there and Greg thought maybe my socks had worn out but I am not sure that is the case either.  I have 4 pairs of running socks that I cycle through and though these are my favourite, they don't look thinned out. That being said, Monday morning I ordered a pair of high speed socks from lululemon to see if that helps.  I didn't want to pop the blister because I was afraid the pain would hurt too much and I didn't want to risk infection so I just kept walking on it and it has hardened up which I think is safer then popping it.  I have no idea what will come of it but hopefully nothing serious. 

I was initially disappointed with how  hard I ran the first half and how much I suffered on the way back, but I have been battling a weak hip for a few months and it has been a hard road back.  And Greg pointed out that last year at the Calgary Marathon I finished in 2:46 after battling back from a it band injury in San Francisco and was 15 minutes faster a year later so they were glimmers of hope.  I have a lot of work to do between now and the SeaWheeze in August and I am sure I will get there and beat my PB of 2:21. 

After the race, we went to Park Distillery which has become both our favourite and go to restaurant in Banff.  I had blueberry banana coconut pancakes with maple butter.  They were heavenly but I was so tired that I barely ate any.  I mostly drank my body weight in water.  We were seated on the upper most level of the restaurant which meant a lot of stairs up and down which are never a good thing after a hard half marathon hahah.  


We spent an hour or so after brunch walking down Banff ave where I bought some flip flops because I needed to get my shoes off of my feet to stretch and relax them and the girls bought some candy. The shoe were pretty pink and from the kids section at The North Face store hahah.  I had high hopes of biking or hiking post race but I just couldn't do it, so we headed back to Calgary and had some sushi for supper. 


This morning when I got out of bed, I nearly fell over with pain from tightness in my calves.  Greg used our hard plastic roller on them and I thought I was going to die.  Penelope came running into our room because she thought I was hurt.  I went for a long walk after I dropped the girls at school and then came home and mowed the front and back lawns of my house and our neighbours.  I tried my hardest to keep moving so that my legs would loosen up.  I rolled out and there wasn't much pain other then my calves although my it band sure feels tight on both legs.  Stretching out my hamstrings was more painful then I would have liked but overall I am feeling pretty good!!

Monday, 20 June 2016

Fit Week In Review

This was a relatively slow week.  I was so worried about aggravating my injuries that resulted from a weak hip that I virtually did nothing.

MONDAY:
Monday I was supposed to go to bootcamp in the morning since I had Bieber that night but Finley wasn't feeling well so she stayed home so I couldn't go.  I did some core and some stretching.  As you can see, I had a helper.  This is what most of my week consisted of: stretching + rolling.

TUESDAY:

Today, Greg took the girls to soccer and I went for a bike ride.  There is no photo because I didn't bring my iPhone but here is a photo of Greg doing yoga.  He's been doing yoga most nights after the girls go to bed. I have to keep correcting him on his plank because his bum gets too high in the air.  Now I know how Shannon feels hahahaha.  I also did some light stretching and I went for a massage this morning so I was feeling pretty good.

WEDNESDAY:

On Wednesday, it was more stretching - this time specifically behind my knee.  It's really hard to get to and is usually a result of tight hamstring and calf since they meet directly behind there but neither were really tight.  I googled some additional exercises and it seems to have helped.  Hopefully it holds up on Sunday!

THURSDAY:

On Thursday I went for a 5k run after I dropped the girls at school.  I broke no speed records but it was a good pain free run.  I continued to stretch and roll out my legs in anticipation for Sunday.

FRIDAY:

On Friday, I took the girl to school, grabbed some starbucks and walked the very long way home for about an hour.  It wasn't a leisurely walk as I was sweating when I got home but it wasn't running that's for sure.  I also went on a 30 minute bike ride too.  

I spent most of my afternoon on Friday doing strengthening, stretching and rolling out.  I am still feeling pretty good about Sunday at this point but I am still stressed that my hip is going to give out and destroy my it band + knee.  Here's hoping I am wrong!

SATURDAY:

Greg setting up the tarp so that we could go hang out while he set up the tent

I normally would go for a quick 3km run before a half but I skipped that today.  I am just too worried about tweaking something.  So I woke up and did some stretching and rolling before we headed to Banff.  I had planned to do some biking to stretch out my hips when we got there but Mother Nature had other plans and it rained the whole time.

SUNDAY:

It rained all night Saturday and into the morning but it finally stopped around 730am and the weather seemed perfect heading into Banff Marathon.  This was Penelope on our way to the washroom and she asked me if I was ready for my half marathon despite all of the rain.  And I said I sure was, I worked hard to get here and no matter the weather I am going to be ok.  She said I thought so Mommy.  I love that she believes in me even more then I believe in myself some days. 

The sun peaked out during the half and I got warm quickly.  We ran into the wind on the way back and it sucked.  I won't go into too much detail here on my half marathon.  Check back tomorrow to see  how it all went down.