Race Day
8:37 AM | 6 comments

It was race weekend, the day I circled in my agenda back in February when I registered. Back when my weekend long runs were only 30 minutes long and less than half of the total distance I would eventually run. Back when running made my lungs hurt, my shin splints wreaked havoc and my shoes were stinky. (Well, that still happens).

My four girlfriends and I met up an hour before the race and drank our elixirs of race energy. I prefer chocolate milk. We put our time chips on our shoes, pinned our number to the front of our shirts and walked towards the race soaking in the envious and admiring glances of passersby who were not running.

There were thousands of people heading towards the start. We saw the stick-thin, limber Kenyans warming up in their track suits. We saw mums holding their kids' hands so as not to be separated in the crowds. We saw people stretching way too much and scoffed at their inexperience. We thought we were running goddesses. Dramatic? Yes. But that’s just how it goes before a race, we psych ourselves up to be the running goddesses we have bled, sweated and cried to become.

The gun went off and the start line emitted a high-pitched tone as everyone’s timing chip was officially set off, crossing the start line. I admit, I felt like the biggest superstar in the world running that first kilometer down Elgin Street, looking up at the crowds of people cheering for us. I laughed at the voice of the little kid who said, “Way to go runners you’re almost there,” a mere 2 minutes into the run. I found my pace, I smiled, I breathed into my belly and out through my mouth. I totally forget what I thought about during the run, but I think that means I was in “the zone.” I slapped my best friend on the butt when I met up with her. My other best friend spat water on my neck at the water station and the saliva-filled cool water mixture felt so good as it hit my sweating neck skin. We thanked the spectators who cheered us on individually,

“Way to go, orange shorts, keep it up!”

“You’re doing so well, only three kilometers left!”

In the last leg, best friend K and I were snapped by her paparazzi papa, and given a last dose of inspiration by my mum and little sis. At their words, “We’re so proud of you,” I kicked it up, sprinted like I was seven years old and booted it to the finish line.

Nothing can compare to the feeling of lifting your arms and pumping your fist as you cross the finish line.

We waited for our friends who were trailing us, collected our medals and slammed back some Gatorade. We crashed early that night and spent the better part of the next day at a Scandinavian bath house soaking our muscles. We earned the feeling of accomplishment. I am a certifiable runner and I pinned my number bib to my bulletin board to remind myself of the glorious feeling of running farther than I’ve ever gone before.


9:18 AM | 2 comments

He was my brother’s favourite football coach. He was a leader who bred leaders. He was a thinker who saw the game at many levels and brought his players into his multi-dimensional game plans. He was committed, aggressive, confident, realistic, and hard. He didn’t take excuses. His game plans were levels more sophisticated than other league coaches.

“Pain is temporary. Glory lasts forever,” he told his players. He brought them all the way, sometimes through undefeated seasons with no touchdowns against. His team always lost to the same cross-town rival with expensive training equipment, we called it a curse.

He came for family dinners, he wrote Christmas cards, he inspired his players to be great men, on and off the field. He commanded your attention, and spoke succinctly, making each word matter. He taught them to be valuable, to feel important and become key players in their lives.

He bothered some players’ parents with his gum-chewing, clipboard-throwing anger directed at a stupid call or an enemy touchdown slipping through. His face would redden, his temper flare, when his carefully orchestrated game plan was tainted by inattention to detail or carelessness. He demanded excellence, and often received it.

My brother graduated from his coaching and moved on. They kept in touch and shared their love of the game and admiration for each other. My brother was the player coach wanted him to be, wanted his own son to be. They admired each other’s intellect, skill and observational ability to outsmart opponents, not just beat them. They continue talking and shaking hands and watching big games occasionally.

I saw him yesterday, a broken man. He was wearing a suit, not his track pants and whistle. He was telling me about his new job with the fallible desperation of a man convincing himself he’s happy. His job does no justice to his passion for football. Football doesn’t pay the bills though. I’ve seen him through a slew of jobs that don’t satisfy, that he has to do, that break down at hi character and confidence with every internal memo reprimand. He is a sliver of the man I knew as coach. He stood in his suit and carefully gelled hair as a man who’d given up on proving his worth, but still holding on to weekend football for some purpose.

He gave me his card, told me to pass it around.

“I hope I can come to your wedding,” he told me.

“I’d love it if you could,” I said.

He walked back to his card with his head hunched over, the result of ears of downhill disappointment and receding hope in the restorative power of football coaching.


7:50 AM | 6 comments

I know, I've been away and lax with my postings. Its a fatal flaw, whenever it starts getting warmer I migrate to the closest deck-- all the better when its poolside. I've already slathered SPF 15 Sport all over me, but I figured while I wait for it to settle in, I'd tend to my business here. This week has been muey reflective. I had a mom fight, the kind where we both said things we didn't mean just to induce the sting. I ran away to my best friend's house and we had gelato. I snuggled with my little sister and talked about growing up. I had heart-to-hearts with little brother and realized he's more grown up than me. I cowered in a corner avoiding grownup things I have to do. I did this until I got called out.

I remembering whining to my mum when I was little about how unfair it was being little. How I couldn't eat Smarties whenever I wanted, I couldn't go watch movies by myself, I couldn't go on trips without my parents.

"Being a grownup is not as much fun as being a kid," she'd say, and already I'd stopped paying attention thinking what she was saying just wasn't true. "We have to pay bills, go to work and take care of other people."

But working sounded fun to me, and I didn't really know what bills were. I like staying up past what used to be my curfew, eating Gushers for lunch and snacking on Hot Rods and Joe Louis if I want to. But, being a grown up means getting fat from those things, and staying up late just means I'm tired the next day. Being a grownup is definitely not as much fun.

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Benefit of a Doubt
7:30 AM | 1 comments

I wrote this bio for one of my fave bands to put on their MySpace. Saw them alive again this weekend and rather than post about that night, I'd rather tell you all what they are. Enjoy!

If you’ve ever been to a Benefit of a Doubt show, you know that lead singer Chase Van Dusen wears his socks on stage, the girls in the front row know the words to all the songs and just about everyone saves their ticket stubs to show off when the band makes it big. That’s the thing about Benefit of a Doubt—it’s like Ottawa’s hidden secret. Those lucky enough to attend their shows get a sneak peek of a talented band before they hit it big. “Playing the music we’ve worked hard to compose for audiences who’ve usually paid to see us is the most humbling and at the same time encouraging gift,” says guitarist Corey Desormeaux. “It’s unreal to play music with my friends and be able to make other people happy with it as well.”

Benefit of a Doubt is a quartet from Ottawa, Ontario, that has found a distinct sound influenced by a mosaic of exceptional artists. Audience members have been known to detect hints of jazz, reggae, and numerous other styles in Benefit songs. “We really are influenced by a plethora of artists and bands, both past and present,” says drummer Pat Gilmour. “We really believe that in order to carve out a niche for ourselves, it’s our responsibility to be educated about everything that’s out there.” And a unique sound they have found.

Chase’s powerful voice and clever lyrics are surprising coming from his demure, unassuming frame. Bassist Connor Muldoon’s stage presence and marked enthusiasm are key ingredients that make a Benefit of a Doubt show worth an evening. Corey’s guitar tells a story in each song and truly is irreplaceable and synonymous with Benefit of a Doubt’s trademark genre-breaching sound. Pat’s drumming provides more than a steady beat but is conspicuously infused with timed showcases of his crafted dexterity.

Benefit of a Doubt is an extremely hard-working and dedicated band that are hoping to break out on the national and international music scene. They are not the band to stay stagnant and keep playing the same gigs into their thirties. This band clearly has an upward momentum and members have a shared and growing intensity for the hobby that has become a lifestyle. Their music has become their passion, their goal and the answer to the question, “What do you see yourself doing, five, 10 years from now?”
"We're finally ready to tour non-stop doing what we love doing...being broke and playing music!" - Chase


I hate this. But don't let me stop.
12:13 PM | 7 comments

These days it starts out with trepidation, resentment that I am putting myself through it again today. Within a block or two the familiar ache in my shins creeps its way from ankle to knee and I feel I am wearing too thick a T-Shirt. My lips feel chapped, even though I applied Vaseline before I left the house. Dread.

I try and pump myself up by envisioning the toned soccer-playing character in the Traveling Pants movie, the lean legs of the girl in Two-A-Days and the awesome behind of Miss Jessica Simpson in Dukes of Hazzard. That works for a bit. I focus on the path in front of me, not looking up for fear of the daunting view of how far I’ve left to go. I belly breathe to avoid stomach cramps, though on days as hot as today, the eventual side stitch creeps across my belly near the end.

I feel the blood rising to my face, reddening it. I feel my back becoming moist. I stop paying attention to the songs playing on my iPod. I fight the mental war of being convinced it’s too hard. I reach the half-way point, slow my breathing and stretch my hips.

I make mental landmarks. I’ll walk between the footbridge and highway. I’ll sprint between the fire station and the dog park. I count my steps until I forget what number I’m at. I slow down and center my hips because I’m going too fast, I just want to be finished. When I can see my house and the sprint is done my lungs are burning. I am breathing too hard to walk just yet so I slow down my jog. I feel like I’ll explode otherwise. My reward is my stretching today. I feel the cool grass as I stretch my worn shins and calves. I breathe deep into the stretches I’ve earned.

I drink water like it’s been a month. I ice my shins, my ankles, my heels. I massage my feet and avoid the blisters that have formed on the balls of my feet. I take my shirt off as soon as I can and throw my socks off, distancing myself from the hard work they’ve just held.

My breathing slows down in the shower, the cool water on my face doesn’t stop flowing. My legs settle down, the soap washes away the sweat left on my shoulders.

I’ll wash, rinse, repeat it all again tomorrow. Training for the 10k finishes May 26.

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Back to School Part 2
8:42 AM | 7 comments

The cloudless skies and breeze carrying BBQ aroma meant it was time to go home and spring-ify my mum’s house this weekend. We oiled the bike chains, put the screens on the windows and beat the rugs out under the sun. We laughed when I dyed my hands green with rust remover (oops!) and when my sister beat the Turkish rug with a frying pan.

As the tallest femme of the house, it was my job to go down to the basement and turn on the water taps at the furthest, most awkward ceiling points in the storage rooms. After tip toeing on my left foot, bracing my right on a Lego castle and holding the corner of the winter coat box for safety, I turned the faucet, and noticed a picture of me out of the corner of my eye. Me circa 1995. I was wearing a satin belly T-shirt and plaid shorts dancing with my sister, who must have been about two, in our living room. I regained my footing and rearranged my hand position to investigate, and found it was a box I’d put away after sixth grade, when I switched rooms and got my own after sharing with my sister.

I miraculously transferred the box from the shelf top to the floor without any falling, throwing or displaced ligaments. When I sat down beside it and opened up the four folds of the box top, I was faced with evidence of my overly dramatic, keen, organized and pencil crayon-loving glory years.

I found my gymnastics ribbons, my Girl Guide sashes, pictures I’d taken on my Smartie box-shaped Astral camera at the park with my friends. There were pamphlets from our family trip to Disney World, a copy of 16 magazine with JTT and Marc-Paul Gosselar (circa bleach hair) on the cover. A picture of me proudly holding up my new Walkman at Christmas 1993, one of me and my still best friends with pink icing on our faces after a cake-eating contest at my 1995 birthday, and of A and I posing by our school’s slides after our grade six carnival. The best finds of the box were my grade 5 and 6 journals.

On the first day of fifth grade, I wrote about my family, which girls I planned on hanging out with that year (many of whom I still talk to!), what music I liked (C’mon Ride It by the Quad City DJs) and what I wanted to be when I grew up. Lo and behold, in number 2 HB pencil was written, “I want to be a journalist here in Ottawa and I want to go to Carleton University, the best journalism school in the country!” I found the newspaper I started later that fifth grade year, and like a true media baron, named, earned creative control and essentially took over. I found my “cleanest desk” awards (geek!) and my progress charts, which today translate into “major keener, nerd alert!”

I found notes from my still best friends, K and A. A wrote, “I love his dimples, they are soooooo cute! It’s so awesome our boyfriends are best friends too,” about our soccer-playing boyfriends we both vowed we’d marry based on the puppy-love shared through friendship bracelets, passed notes and winks. K wrote, “My mum is the meanest, she won’t let me visit A anymore, I can only see her at school, it’s so unfair,” after K broke her collar bone visiting A’s house and her worrisome parents put our mutual best friend A in the ban book, at least for a few months. “Wanna have a sleepover? Let’s watch “Grease”, I think Danny looks like B!”

I was embarrassed by some of the stuff I wrote. Man, those teachers deserve some credit for being patient with our dramatic, telenovela playground epics:

“I thought E was my best friend, but she has been ignoring me. What do I do? She means so much to me, it makes me want to cry that she is casting me aside.”

“I saw people smoking cigarettes on the hill. Then some of our friends were talking to them. Why are they even talking to people whose lifespan is being cut short by the ridiculous decision they’ve made to inhale poison? I can’t stand idly by and watch this, perhaps its time for new friends”

“A broke up with him again. He threw rocks at her. We cried, because we were so sad for the loss of love.”

Who WRITES that in fifth grade? Hahaha. A wonderful trip back to elementary school via a moving box found in the storage room.

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We're moving!
7:33 AM | 2 comments

I got the call from him Thursday at dinner time... we're moving to the Yukon this summer! Also known as the arctic. I'm pretty pumped, because it looks beautiful up there, its got a pretty decent climate (not as scary arctic-y as I originally thought, much of it is sheltered by mountains! Yes!) and it means that he has done supremely well in his training. It is 5,000 km away from home, and in fact closer to Russia then my mum's house here in Ottawa. It's a long trip to get there and an expensive plane ride.

Am I crazy? My inconclusive answer is that I'm excited for what is bound to be an adventure with my man for a couple of years in gold country. We move in July, and it'll be about a two-year posting, maybe more maybe less. Mush!

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Back to School
10:35 AM | 1 comments

My little sister is nine years younger than I and is nearing the end of seventh grade at the school I attended for six years. My high school. The place where I started by secretly applying beige eye shadow in the third floor girls bathroom in grade seven, and where I finished off by streaking through it near-naked with my best adventurous girlfriends two weeks before grad. I made that school my bitch, and I totally won the game that is high school. PS- You win it by figuring out how to get the best grades with the minimal work possible so as to devote the necessary 12 hours of every day to drama and the “Oh my god, he didn’t! He did? Oh my God!” while still maintaining the doting eye of most teachers.

Suck up? To some. Bright-futured student who makes crappy teaching work worthwhile? Perhaps. Last night gave me a chance to step back into it with four years of university perspective. I went with my little sister to the school talent show and bumped in to some of the teachers who are still there.

One I had thought was an awesome and hilarious science teacher I have subsequently found to be a giant a-hole who invited girl students over to his house to fool around with while his own young daughters slept upstairs. The teacher who was everyone’s favourite, our moral compass in Birkenstocks and Gap collared shirts, who was married with 3 beautiful girls, had an affair with the Spanish teacher, also married with children. One teacher became the staff bicycle- everyone had a ride. She was pushing through the crowd to get backstage at the talent show and the woman looked like a worn, walking STD. Lesson learned: Wear my sunscreen and don’t become school skank at age 45. Yikes!

I saw my favourite English teacher, the one who showed me the importance of writing beyond the five-paragraph essay formula and who encouraged creativity beyond curriculum guidelines. I take her words and lessons with me everywhere I write. She offered me a smile and a frenzied hello as she rushed to a meeting, late as always.

It was as though I’d grown a full foot since leaving grade 12. In seeing the faces that once presided over detentions, lectures and assemblies, now as equals, as humans with fault lines and fractures, I felt…better. I didn’t feel better than them, because even the ones that cheated and became more scandalous in their lives than the events of after-prom parties, have once been like me. Twentysomething, wide-eyed, full of wonder at the potential of any given person in this world. I just felt better to know that those teachers who had once held my future, my grades and my lessons were now teaching me what could only be learned in returning to a talent show….the lesson that we’re all faulty, we’re all forced to keep going, and we’re all allowed to make mistakes. You’ve no idea what a relief that is as everyone keeps asking me what’s next in life, what am I going to make of myself.

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"Here we are now, entertain us"
11:51 AM | 3 comments

It has been one day since I officially ended my job contract, two weeks since I wrote my last exam, and 20 minutes since I had something to do. I slept in because I could, took my sweet time making myself a fresh berry smoothie and Facebook creeped my friends to see what they were doing with their time off. I find myself in a rut, but it’s a rut I dreamed of during my late-night paper-writing sessions and deadline-taunting interviews. It’s a rut of having nothing to do.

I go for my runs and stick to my training schedule because the girls and I have a 10k to run in May. That’s like an hour, an hour and a half tops of my day. I have my meals which I now make super-slowly. I walk to the store rather than bus whenever I need something and I find myself just waiting for things on screens to entertain me. The Internet, MTV shows, television movies, even solitaire. And that takes up most of my day. When I think about it, the carpe diem fairy in me laments and slumps over her seize the day scepter at what a couch potato I am. This, I tell you, is not a dream come true. I feel gluttonous and slothful at how lazy I am! I have just spent an intense four years working my butt off for something, and now is the time when I’m supposed to find out what that something is. I am supposed to be figuring out how to fill in that blank, and instead I am following along on the 30-minute journeys of bratty teenage girls planning coming-of-age parties that are nearly 20 times the size of my wedding budget.

“Enjoy this,”

“You’ve earned it,”

“This will only happen once in your life,” people tell me. Yes, that’s all true. I am waiting until fiancé and I move to find my job, THE post-graduate job that will be my first foray into full-on grownup mode. That’s two months from now. Until then, should I get entrepreneurial and start a car washing business (services completed in a bikini for an elevated price?) Should I read as many books as I can so as to become well-versed in the sorrows and celebrations of human existence, at least in my mind? Should I volunteer for the next two months and fill my days with work? Should I continue with a daily schedule that varies up the following: run, sleep, tan, eat, TV?

I feel like I’ve won some sort of lottery and don’t know what to do. It can easily become a curse and a guilt-tripping burden. I’ve done nothing to “earn” a two-month life of gluttony, have I? And yet, people tell me that I am so lucky to have so much free time, two whole months of weekend! It sounds kind of cool when I say it like that, doesn’t it? Hmmm, but Looney Toons reruns and eating Froot Loops on the couch is only a thrilling experience because it happens so rarely in the real world.

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