Ottawa Half Marathon Race Recap: Underwear and Mirrors

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well, I woke  up this AM and had trouble making it downstairs to the coffee pot but, i did it. (coffee is after all a key motivation in this equation.) cliff was actually a well behaved dog and let me sleep in a bit this morning Рis it possible for a dog to know when you need some extra sleep?

the funniest part is, mike’s totally walking like he got off a horse too from the 10km race he did on saturday – i can’t help but laughing (and then wincing in pain) at both of us literally limping around the house (the stairs are the worst).

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post 10 km race saturday night ^^

so the rational side of me knows that i’m in so much pain because i didn’t train enough. the post-race side of me justifies it by saying it’s because i pushed myself like i never have before. we’ll just settle on a combo of the two – a happy little compromise.

the race: that’s what i’m talking about here. yesterday morning i got up and it was chilly out (seriously what is with this late MAY freezing weather!? especially after we had such a beautiful start to the month!?). i really despise being cold when i run, usually i wear tights/long sleeves until i’m absolutely certain i’ll be sweating in shorts, so it was a toss up on what to wear. in the end i took mike’s advice who said after he got going on saturday evening, the temperature was perfect. i think it was about 11 or 12 degrees when we left the start line, and the fact that we were jammed in the corrals like sardines helped keep me warm.

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see how everyone’s wearing like winter coats in the back ground? ^^^

photo credit: ottawa citizen

photo credit: ottawa citizen

so yea the corrals was a bit of a mess this year – usually i get there with plenty of time to weave myself to the front third of the group. this year it seemed there were way more people and way less space. my wave was scheduled to leave at 9 so i knew i had to at least get to the back of that group, but it was impossible to cut through the crowd (people were all like, “uh. no. you can’t move through here,” i’m like, “listen… move over.”)

in the end myself and some other ladies with the same problem left the starting boxes by hopping the fence, and then we found our way along the line towards the front and literally scooted back into the crowd by hopping a TV crane-thingy. Once we got in i felt so much better. i have severe pre-race anxiety – like my worst fear is missing the start of a race and i’ll have nightmares about missing it!

the race itself was awesome. ottawa is an amazing city to run in. seriously so many people line the streets- i think there was even more this year then last year. i passed my favourite spectator around the 15 km mark. she was holding a sign that said, “smile if you’re not wearing underwear.” i was so so tired at this point, but i couldn’t help expending some extra energy to give her the thumbs up. thank-you random lady with my sense of humour – you helped me through some tough times ūüôā

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trying to make the heart sign at km 18 ^^

i made it to mike around km 18 – i knew it was in the homestretch and so it was the perfect place for him to sit and watch. i was just so happy to see him. i remember the first half marathon i ran in the city – i didn’t know anyone and i didn’t have any family watching. it was a really good experience to just get through it “on my own” but having that someone there to tell you, “you can do it.” just elevates you beyond what your brain is telling you are capable of. sometimes it helps to have that person rooting for you. ¬†(side note: i found out after the fact that as i was running, he was eating breakfast. he even had the audacity to send my phone a series of texts telling me so. luckily when you run you don’t need a phone, because if i knew he was eating while i was¬†gruelling¬†it out… it wouldn’t have been a pretty text back).

the absolute best part of the race was the home stretch (isn’t it always!)

before the race i had mike make me a playlist and the last song that came on was list one:

fast forward to 5:30 and you’ll see what i mean ^^

i always say to mike in passing how much i love JT for this song – because it’s like you know he’s singing to jessica beal – and don’t they just make the perfect celebrity couple? so when this song came on,¬†i literally almost cried. a) from the pain/exertion and b) because it was the most perfect song to finish on.

at the 1 km to go mark, i hit the part of the song when Justin’s going “you are, you are the love of my life.”

and then.¬†it’s all i heard for the last 3 minutes of the run.

“you are, you are the love, of my life.”

i think for the first time in months, i was living only in that moment. i had no thoughts or worries about the future and i was just there, on that course, heading towards the finish line.

it’s the little things. ‚̧

and then to top it all off my friends from iRun we’re at the finish line (iRun is a huge sponsor of the race weekend – so it was official business but clearly it’s amazing to cross the finish line and immediately see a friendly face) and i gave her a hug. and then she took this picture:

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and then i went home and slept it off and woke up and when i checked on-line, i found i blew my personal best out of the water by almost three minutes!! i finished in just under 1:35 minutes! i really couldn’t believe it – i had no expectations going into the race so i surprised myself.

some races are ok, some of them you just make it through. and some of them are good ones. this was a good one.

and now… recovery!

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oh tulip

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may is for the tulips in ottawa.

one of the reasons i love ottawa so much is the fact that you get four true seasons. in the winter you can skate the canal – in the summer there’s green everywhere, in the fall the city is on fire with maple trees and in the spring there’s the tulips.

hundreds of thousands of tulips are planted in gardens along the pathway that borders dow’s lake. you just want to capture it ALL on film. but it doesn’t do it justice to capture the scene on camera – i could take a million pictures of tulips (which i have and i will continue to do each year that i live here) but the colours are just something that when you see in person it’s an amazing experience.

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every time i turned around, there was another tulip i wanted to take a picture of ^^^^

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i’m not from this city originally, but i speculate that if you grew up here, you have a picture of you as a child in front of the tulips in the spring. it’s a right of passage more or less. this is the first year that i’ve lived here that my parents have been able to take in the tulips as well – which was awesome because i got to participate just like a tourist again.

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is it too much to ask for this for my birthday? ^^^ just a small home for two ūüôā

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until next year pretty ladies xoxo

Around the house and city

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^ everything is in bloom in downtown ottawa. it smells like flowers.

^^ on my running route. it didn’t even up raining.

^^^ finally set up record player. jackson browne was the first record i listened to.

^^^^ i told him no soccer ball in the house and this is what he does.

^^^^^ nothing better then a spring night – windows open, candles lit.

^^^^^^ Lord Elgin’s patio is open for the season.

^^^^^^^ a striped selfie for good measure.

^^^^^^^^ mike is a on a quest to perfect the bocconcini stuffed hot pepper.

^^^^^^^^^ homemade italian sandwich bliss.

^^^^^^^^^^ we made a pizza.

^^^^^^^^^^^ i’m taking may to revisit the old children’s faves. first up, the phoenix and the carpet.

 ^^^^^^^^^^^^ he ate cat poop and then asked for forgiveness.

Have a great weekend! p.s. I’m on INSTAGRAM. (who isn’t ūüėČ

I live in a beautiful city

I’ve always been a lover of the “off and beaten track” – the smaller towns or the quaintness of a medium sized city; the people are more willing to get to know you, the streets aren’t busy after nine pm, and if you tried hard enough you could find the two degrees of separation between yourself and the mayor.

don’t get me wrong, i love the big cities. i love the idea of living in NYC as much as the next girl… i think it’s romantic, has charm and you can’t take a bad picture of a city street. My love for NYC dates back to the early episodes of Friends that are etched in my brain: it’s a place where you can always drink coffee, hang out and live by Central Park.

but i say to you, a city can be what you make it. that’s how NYC got it’s reputation: a vibrant community. That community continues to drain other cities of their trendy population today.

ottawa always get’s a bad rap as a “government town”: sleepy, boring, no night life… blah blah blah. it drives me absolutely bonkers. ottawa is such an amazing place, and cities are what you make of them. if you think a city is boring, it’s probably because you aren’t trying hard enough to get involved, find a community and make a connection.

and i’m not saying you have to be in every club that exists. i’m just saying, are you the kind of person that has to go to THE most exclusive party to have fun? Or are you the life of your own party?

Scenes from around Ottawa the past few weeks:

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Winter.

It’s been a weird week so far. Dull. Cold. Blah.

Nothing new has happened. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing bad.. just nothing that really gets me excited.

It feels like the only thing that’s on my brain lately is, “Can it really still be winter?”

I looked outside this morning, as the snow was softly falling down and thought to myself:

“This is what Mr. Tumnus felt like in the land of Narnia. If I could bargain for summer to come back, ¬†I’d probably enchant some children and hand them over to the witch queen like he did too.”

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Ok so this isn’t Narnia, but seriously… when will I see grass again? I’m getting antsy.

I blame the weather on the fact that I’m completely disorganized this week… and also completely in a creative stump. I think when you look at the colour white long enough you loose all sense of inspiration.

In Ottawa the sidewalks are still coated in salt that stains and wrecks your boots and you can’t get off the bus properly because of the snow banks.

The view from the window at school:

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Can we all just agree that this in theory is really beautiful but in practice after about three months you are done?

So for those reasons it’s been a weird week. Plus the dog had an eye infection. Plus I haven’t been running in about a week and a half and it makes me grumpy. Plus I feel like half the assignments we’re doing in school at the moment are “busy work.” It’s got me all out of sorts today I tell ya.

Anyway there’s a million things I should be doing at this moment but suddenly I felt like (despite my complete lack of things to say) I needed to write something… just to get the ball rolling. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll figure out what I really meant to say and then write it then instead.

My commute would be faster if I ran

Today I missed my bus connection. In a normal city you might think – no biggie. Here, it meant half an hour in the cold, huddled in a bus stoop on the side of the road in an obscure part of town.

When I finally got home (an hour and a half after I left my starting point) I got to thinking…. I could run faster then the commute takes me.

Seriously… and I’m not even talking at a high interval… I’m just talking leisurely and even pace.

That’s gotta be saying something right?

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get to this conclusion.

I mean I don’t live close to downtown by any means – I’m in the suburbs (ugly word I know but actually I love it) but seriously… if you can get downtown faster by running, i.e. beating city transit in the process… something is wrong with this picture.

I’m just sayin’

And I guess I should put my money where my mouth (blog) is…. someday soon, mark my words, I’m going to hitch up my backpack and time myself. I might wait until the snow clears off the shoulder of the road first, but it’s gonna happen.

Beau’s Oktoberfest: Vankleek Hill, Ontario

I think at some point in history the Germans/Bavarians had a month like mine. They were totally done with September and they just said “Screw it! We Declare September Over EARLY. Let the OKTOBERFESTING BEGIN!”

And henceforth from that point forward, those of us who are ready jump from September 21 into OCKTOBER. It’s the German equivalent of ¬†February 29. Except in the case of OKTOBERFEST there are many days and nights which fall into a vortex of beer and food. And when you wake up, the world looks beautifully dressed up and ready for fall.

But yes, beer = immediate relax time and there’s not better way to partake, in my opinion, then in a field in the middle of nowhere.

That’s what Beau’s Oktoberfest is. It’s in Vankleek Hill Ontario (in fact you are so close to Quebec you can really hardly call it Ontario) and it’s amazing because the beer is actually really really good. And the food is also amazing. Food, beer, outside… what’s not to enjoy?

Except for the bus ride I have no complaints.

With the purchase of your ticket you get a free bus ride. Which is good because Vankleek Hill is located an hour outside of Ottawa. You might think the worst part of this would be 50 drunk adults who are all more then slightly motion sick crammed into child size school bus seats.

Nope that’s not it. In fact it’s the sitting behind a bus driver who is taking your group and hour out of the way of destination.

In my opinion I am world’s BEST back seat driver. Because I just always know the better way to do it.

So imagine how MADDENING  for me. I was in a socially unacceptable position and FORCED to hold in my comments, at the cost of 1 hour of drinking time.

Anyway as it turned out I should have said something because he went 45 minutes in the wrong direction. And everyone else by that point agreed with me. But it was too late at that point. we were lost.

Ah Vell. All’s well that ends well. We just missed out on our collector stein. They were all sold out by the time we got there.

But we managed to get there so I guess no harm lost. And we had plenty of time left to partake in the beers. We just missed out on getting our collector stein. They were all sold out by 2 pm.

Here are some of my favourite shots of the day:

view of the bus driver who drove us in the wrong direction

travel games

sea of german fun

the casks

the beer

beer list

bottoms up

food

his choice: pierogi poutine

The Fun

pumpkin beer

Russian Imperial

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Chapman Mills Conservation Area

So the other day, having been unsatisfied with my previous foray into a search for the “perfect” nature¬†shot for my photography class, I set out to rectify the situation.

The wonderful thing about living in a green city like Ottawa is that there are literally hundreds of opportunities and secret little nature caches that you can quickly escape to within the city confines. (Not to mention the fact that the city itself is not 15 minutes from the Gatineau Hills which are just a breathtaking experience on their own.)

I’d been meaning to visit Chapman Mills Conservation area for sometime. It’s nestled along the the Rideau Valley River and it really is a beautiful little escape from Suburbia.¬†I learned after the fact that nature photos in general are best in soft light – it was not soft lighting when I took these ¬†as you will see… Sunlight and landscape photos are apparently best either 2 hours before or after sunset. Still evidently much to learn.

I’m beginning to recognize one of the most immediate perks of being a journalism/photography student: you literally get to leave your desk to do your work. It almost felt like I was making an excuse to head out to take some pictures – as if I was procrastinating from other work… in fact it made for a beautiful fresh outing, and I ticked something off the to do list. So that about brings this week’s tally to:

Me : 1

To do list: 25

There’s still a few things to tackle…

Here’s the shot I chose to submit for my class project. I call it Dragonfly. …. er for obvious reasons.¬†

All I Want for my Birthday is an Alpaca

I’ve decided that I want an Alpaca and I don’t think this is such an unreasonable request. Apparently according to Brian of Victory Farm, Lanark County, Alpacas are a rather “low-maintenance” breed of farm animal. “Even the lady of the household can haul them around,” says Brian. Well I’m the lady of the household, so now all I have to do is save my pennies (as if money was the only obstacle between me and owning an Alpaca). The average Alpaca goes for $500-$1000, but if I want a Stud, it’s gonna set me back somewhere in the $5000 range.

Brian is the owner of Victory Farm Alpacas. Alpacas are his life. He always wanted to start a farm with his late wife, but he knew having grown up on a farm that farm animals can be very demanding. He did some research and it turned out that the Alpaca is a wonderful option for the retired public servant. So in 2001 Brian bought his first of the Alpaca herd at Victory Farms. His herd is now numbers 47… and growing as you will see from the pictures of the babies below. Alpacas are the smaller, less brutish and more inquisitive cousin to the llama. You can’t ride them…. so don’t try (that would be an awkward mistake to make.)

Alpaca is > Llama

I will state here for the record, if the Alpaca doesn’t make your heart melt, you aren’t human.

Here is Brian with his prized yet furry family:

The Alpaca ‚̧ Treats


I think I could put one or two in my backyard don’t you?

I’m sure my backyard is fit for an Alpaca or Two?

The biggest obstacle would be figuring out how to keep them out of my sunflower patch…. because Alpacas as it turns out? They’re frolickers. Just take a look for yourself:

Welcome to our humble abode


the newest Stud & recent father

“We bring you great tidings. Welcome”

“If I knew we were going to have visitors I would have straightened my hair”

The Gang’s All Here


One week old baby.


“Ug.Llamas are so annoying”

“Oh yeaaa”

“Duuuuddde. No way,man”

“The Beauty”

“No Dental Insurance”


“Oh hello there”

In the pasture


I ‚̧ Alpacas

BluesFest 2012

I’m about three days tardy with the Bluesfest Recap. I blame it on the last act I saw on Saturday night which was the electro LA based DJ act, Skrillex. Enough said.

I should start at the beginning of the week.

On second thought maybe I should just start with Bluesfest the festival, because it’s not so much about Blues as it is about ALL music in general. And comedy. They threw that in there too.

Some of the Gang At Skrillex, July 14, 2012

Bluesfest started in 1994 as a small local 3 day Canadian Music festival in a tiny public park in the middle of Ottawa. From that point it has grown into a “12-day music showcase featuring some of the best talent available on the planet.” At least that’s what the website says, but it’s expensive to attend all twelve days of acts to validate such a statement. The festival out-grew it’s original home and it now takes place on the War Museum grounds next to the river which flows into the downtown core of Ottawa.

War Museum Grounds

Irregardless of what I can dub it, Billboard Magazine has taken the time to scope it out and has added Ottawa Bluesfest to their official top-ten music festivals in the world list.

I recommend the craft

It might sound like a lot of Blues, but don’t let the name deceive you… this year acts ranged from Hey Rostta, to John (Cougar) Melloncamp to electro act Pretty Lights.

Parliament Buildings in the Distance

If you don’t recognize it for the headlining acts, you may know it from the unfortunate stage incident last year wherein the Mainstage toppled quite tragically in the last hours, of the last day of acts. In the end they admitted the accident was due to [extremely] high winds. Cheap Trick who was performing at the time of the collapse were seemingly a bit scarred for life, as they backed out of later performances on an outdoor stage in BC.

The Main Stage did not fall down this year

This year I would have to say that Lauryn Hill and the brass band Beirut tied in the spot of my favourite act(s). Lauryn’s performance was slightly spastic but she came off as fabulous. Initially I was marginally irritated that her DJ played for 40 minutes while she bided her time behind stage. But when I realized that more Lauryn time meant that Snoop Dawg’s act (Which was the headliner for that particular night) would have to be clipped a bit short, I decided to enjoy the 25 minute encore that included rapping from her oldest son. I mean, Snoop’s the Dawg and all, but honestly after 3 or 4 songs, you get the general idea.

Lauryn Hill, Her Royal Diva-ness

Snoop Brought out Fans of all ages

Beirut performed on 07.14.12 before Pretty Lights and Skrillex, an odd combination for an evening but it worked like sweet met spicy. The brass combination of trumpet, tuba and trombone mixes like magic with the ukulele, accordion and piano. It’s the kind of music that makes you feel like there’s a warm breeze flowing, even if you are listening to it in the dead of winter. It’s Mariachi music meets the modern romantic. Beirut is currently touring the world showcasing their album The Rip Tide. Check it out.

Little Children Love the Dawg

Blue Rodeo was also back again this year. You can usually count on a set from them. Their sound pleases a great majority of the average “Ottawatian,” and I would say I fall among that group. Other bands may come and go, but I will always love Blue Rodeo.

So in conclusion, there’s a lot for everyone. I mean.. in what festival can you see a country/rock act one night and an electro DJ the next. I haven’t even touched on the comedy shows that sideline the event (which are phenomenal but slightly underrated), or the line up of local food, or the fabulous volunteers that scour the grounds collecting the compostable cups throughout the picturesque venue. The biggest problem with the entire event is picking and choosing which acts you want to see.

I’ll leave you with this:

In case you didn’t catch it, I was a head lining New Act