Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Homemade Lara Bars

For those of you who have never tried a Lara Bar -- do yourself a favour and go out and buy one. Namely the "Cashew Cookie." Lara bars have only natural ingredients and the latter one has only two ingredients: dates and cashews. I've tried the other flavours, but they don't compare to the Cashew Cookie IMHO.

For a bar that has only two ingredients, it tastes so delicious! I've been dying to make my own as they cost a hefty $2.19 each at the local store (less at Costco, but you don't get Cashew Cookie, you only get an assorted box). For Christmas, one of my prezzies was a food processor, and I cracked it open today and whipped up a batch of homemade Lara Bars. It was so easy and they taste so awesome.

The recipe is very, very easy -- remember we are talking about me cooking here so it has to be. :)

1. Big bunch of pitted dates
2. Bunch of cashews

I threw in a bunch of cashews into the food processor first, because once the dates go in, it is a STICKY MESS. I chopped them up so they were in tiny pieces and then poured them into a bowl.

Next, I put a whole big bunch of pitted dates into the food processor. I just left it on high until the dates form themselves into a ball that whirls around and around.

Then, all you do is break up the big ball of mashed dates into smaller balls. Dip these little balls over and over again into the cashew bowl until they can't hold anymore cashews.

Roll the little balls between your palms (no perverted comments here, Jenna - LOL!) until they form ropes. Then press them flat into bar shapes. You can get all fancy and use a cutting board to flatten the bar and a knife to straighten the sides. Then, all you do is wrap up the bars in plastic wrap and throw them in the fridge. YUM!!!!!!!

Happy New Year everyone!!!!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I had to post a quick update in regards to my new bike. I hooked her up to my Computrainer and could not believe the spike in my wattage output!!!!! I mean serious increase people!!!

I did this one set where normally I would be around 170 - 185 Watts, today, I was doing 280 - 300 watts. Pedaling is so much easier, spinning is so much easier -- even my left knee has healed. I used to experience quite a bit of pain in my left knee, and just since riding my new bike, the pain has disappeared.

I LOVE MY NEW BIKE AND I LOVE BOW CYCLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Keith and I rock out...

I was lucky enough to squeak in to see a guy at Bow Cycle on the 27th. He had me sorted out in no time and I left approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes later with a brand spanking new Cervelo P2C. They had a promotion going on where you get 15% off your purchase to be used on in-store merchandise. So -- my new saddle, dual bottle holders, shoes and pedals were included.

I then headed to Keith's and Linda's house so I could break in my new bike. I only made one small navigational error en route to Keith's...All I'm saying is that I am glad there was no one home at the first house I knocked at! Hahahahahahaha!!

I set up my new bike beside Keith's and told him that I was going to wear my iPod -- He said, "Really?" and sounded mildly disappointed. But I was adamant -- I remember reading about his collection of 14th century music and could not fathom rocking out to Bartok. Hahahahaha!! But, he was persuasive and threw a video of the IMC course on and then played an amazingly CURRENT collection of music. I just about fell off my bike when he cranked Ace of Base at one point. People -- do not be fooled -- Keith can ROCK OUT!!!! LOL!!!!

Keith and Linda took me to an amazing Greek restaurant for dinner and I stuffed myself silly. I think I love Greek food like Susi loves sushi. LOL!!! :) :):)

Thanks so much to Keith and Linda who holed me up in their wonderful home -- You two are the best!! Big hugs to both of you!! :) :) :)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My Life -- aka "The Gong Show"

Will someone please tell me how in the world it is even possible I was able to complete:

* FOUR Ironman races
* THREE half IMs
* FIVE Olympic Tris and
* THREE Sprint tris

on a bike that is 6 sizes too big for me????

Thanks to my new coach -- THANK GOD FOR HER -- I just found out that I should be riding nothing bigger than a 50 or 51 cm -- mine is 56 cm. It is so big that her 6 foot 2 inch partner has the same frigging size bike as I do. AAAARGGGGHHHH -- I felt like such an idiot!!!!!

But, at least this problem is going to be bike Madge has been re-christened to: "The Big Mother Tucker" Minus the T and replaced with an F of course. Or for short -- BMF. For now, I'll ride BMF until I get a properly fitting bike.

The visit with my coach on Wednesday was absolutely unbelievable -- she is a true professional and was patient, thorough and generous. I had a major epiphany about running form, and discovered that my swimming isn't as disastrous as she thought it would be -- LOL!!!! Hey -- I'll take a compliment no matter how much I have to spin it to my advantage. Hee-hee!!

I had typed up two pages of questions all about nutrition, stretching, everything I could think of, and she answered every single one of them. Although, I thought I detected a mild look of alarm when I flipped the first page of questions over... Hahahahahaha!!!!

All in all, I was vibrating like Jenna's eye-roller the whole day long. I learned so much -- and I have actually retained it! Go figure! :) :)

She analyzed my swimming and has given me some new drills and pool side exercises to do. I think I wrote about this to Jenna: On Friday morning, there I was with my stretch cords on the pool deck doing my new exercises. The lifeguard said to me, "Careful, Julie -- People are going to start thinking you are a swimmer." Hahahahaha!!

I had a wonderful time and have to thank my coach yet again. Thank you Sara!!! You are an angel in disguise!!!!!!

Well, sorry for the short and choppy post, but I thought I'd better get on it, or else suffer the wrath of Jenna...

:) :) :)

Santa: I need a new bike.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Great White Triathlete

That's me-- Hahahahaha!!

For some time now I've been toying with the idea of purchasing some kind of compression clothing. OH NO! I know what you are thinking -- don't cave in to the dorky socks!! I have resisted the urge to buy those stupid looking socks, but I am at the point now where I really do need some kind of compression for my legs.

After IMC this year, my legs and ankles swelled like I was a sailor on the ship that watched Bikini Island blow up, and then picked up a piece of radioactive pebble, put it in his pocket, only to discover years later, that his limbs started to swell and swell and swell because of the radioactivity. You get the idea.

Fortunately, I had scarfed a number of ankle and knee compression things from my store this summer. I sold them for $1.50 each -- and they are GOOD. Aside from lying on the floor, with my bum pressed against the wall and my legs upright, those little compression things did provide a large amount of relief.

Fast forward to now -- I am training like I have never trained before -- the first two weeks of December I did 13.4 hours each week. For the first time, I feel like I am actually pushing myself, and my whole body is feeling it. On Sunday, I had a long, hilly run, and then after swimming yesterday, I also had another 1 hour run. When I was swimming, my legs felt super-heavy, and I was wondering how in the world I was going to run later on in the day.

But I did -- and I actually felt great! After my run (and some good stretching), I dug through my drawers to find my trusty compression knee things. I slept with them on for most of the night. Sometime in the night, I must have woken up and flung them off, because I found them at the far end of the room this morning -- Hahahahaha!! I put them on again this morning, and they feel good.

I guess I'm just stoked that I am working out hard enough where I truly need compression thingies!! LOL!!!!!!!!!!

Peanut had to come and see what I was doing...LOL!!!!

I've ordered a couple of pairs of compression Cw-x tights from the US, and am just waiting for the chance to deke down to Kalispell to pick them up from our mail box.

Tomorrow is my big day -- an all day, one on one swimming, biking, and running session with my coach!! YAHOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

:) :):) :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

SBS or Sweaty Boob Syndrome

I thought I'd do something entirely different and post about my training....go figure! LOL!!

Things are going great! I've started swimming four times a week, and have discovered the types of food I need to eat in order for me to feel great. It's funny -- when I was visiting with Jenna, she mentioned watching "The Last Ten Pounds Bootcamp" and how cool it would be to have your nutritional choices all laid out for you... Well, we were once again on the same wavelength, as it was by watching that show I stumbled across the power breakfast to end all power breakfasts.

This breakfast has been my missing link, I swear. I have so much more energy and feel more satisfied from it. Are you ready for it? Hee-hee! Here it is:

Three egg whites and one egg yolk (for those who are as muddle-headed as I am, that translates to 2 egg whites and 1 whole egg. Yes, that took me a bit to figure out -- Hahahaha!!)

Handful of cooked broccoli

Scramble eggs and veggies, then top it off with a glass of juice and 2 slices of whole grain toast with peanut butter.

I've always heard if you eat a proper breakfast it sets you up energy-wise for the rest of the day, and curbs any sugar cravings. I've always eaten breakfast, but there is something about this combination of food that is KAPOW!! for me. :):):):)

Now -- onto the title of my post....

The change rooms at the Sparwood pool are very, very warm. And humid. The kind of moist heat that has you toweling yourself off again and again and never achieving total dryness. In fact, there is a direct correlation between how much I exert myself in the pool and how hot I find the change rooms afterward.

All this leads to the inevitable Sweaty Boob Syndrome. I HATE HAVING SWEATY BOOBS. I hate it so much, that I as soon as I'm done toweling off, I rush to stand underneath a hand-dryer and dress between blasts of hot air. For you men out there who don't know of this phenomenon, allow me to elaborate. In a hot, humid change room, the first spot that condensation occurs on a woman is on her boobs. Under her boobs, around her boobs, just all over the boobs. It doesn't matter what size the boobs are either -- trust me on this one.

The time that elapses between putting on a bra and the development of boob sweat is moot. And there is nothing worse then feeling that boob sweat grow and spread as you then try and pull a shirt on. Never mind trying to wriggle into a sports bra. Ahh, the method of trying to get a sports bra over your head and actually where it's supposed to be when your body is wet is a sight to behold.

Picture it -- Head goes through okay, but then the inevitable roll up at the back of the shoulders occur. How often have I contorted my arms and flailed my body trying to unroll a sports bra that's tightly rolled against my upper back? It's almost like having a full on panic attack -- Get it off, Get it off, GET IT OFF!!!!!!!!!

I actually met my friend Trudy in this manner. I was solidly stuck partially in, but mostly out of my sports bra, standing underneath the hand-blower, and doing the funky chicken trying to get the damn thing unrolled. I must have been quite a sight, because it prompted a total stranger to help me pull my sports bra on. Ahhhh, the strange goings-on in the women's change room. Hahahahahahaha!! I knew we would be good freinds after that..

(Come to think of it, I met Cath in a change room too -- Hahahahaha!!)

Just say SBS.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

From Blog to Reality...

After visiting my sister in Melfort, SK, this past week, I made plans to stop in Saskatoon to visit fellow blogger, Jenna. The build up to this meeting was something else -- I felt like I already knew her, but had never actually physically met her. I had communicated with her via email, but had never even spoke with her on the telephone!

Thursday night I made my first voice contact with Jenna -- I called her, and said, "Hello? I am looking for my kindred spirit?" LOL!!! There was a pause, that quickly evaporated once I said, "Is this Jennalicious the Vicous?" I was just about vibrating with excitement all that night and the next day in anticipation of meeting her -- I JUST KNEW that we were cut from the same cloth.

When I pulled up to her house, (I couldn't believe I had found the place and wasn't lost somewhere Hahahaha!!) and she answered the door it was AWESOME!!! We hugged each other and like Jenna has said in her post, we blabbed and blabbed and blabbed!!

She is drop-dead gorgeous too -- smoking hot. I knew she was a looker from the occasional pics she has posted, but WOWIEEEE!! Hahahahahahaha!!!

I felt immediately comfortable around her -- and the same went for meeting Kelly -- ANOTHER Saskatoon babe. Holy Moly, there must be something in the water over there. LOL!!

We gabbed and laughed like we had known each other our whole lives -- yes, it was truly that comfortable. It's amazing the connections we have made via our little blogging world.

Thank you Kelly, for picking up the tab at the restaurant -- and thank you Jenna for being such a gracious hostess. You are every bit the kind, loving, warm, thoughtful, and generous person I thought you were -- and more!

We have unfinished business, however. There are so many things we didn't get a chance to talk about. That is why I'll be back!! And a huge invitation goes out to Jenna and Kelly (and my other blogger buddies, too!) -- if you ever find yourself rolling through the Crowsnest Pass, give me a shout. You are more than welcome to stay at my humble abode!! :) :) :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tagged, I'm it!!

I've been tagged by Kelly --

So --- here goes!! 7 Random Things About Moi:

1. In Grade 3, we were asked to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up. I drew a picture of a lion tamer in a circus.

2. I have a terrible habit of chewing the inside of my cheek.

3. I can burp on command.

4. I HATE Vegas. I don't see what all the fuss is about. I hate the gambling, the smoking, the noise, the lights, and the shows everyone blathers on about. Plop me in the middle of the mountains -- now THAT is something to see.

5. Okay -- this is a tough one, but here goes. I don't get sushi. I can eat it; it's all right; but when it comes down to it, all I can taste is rice dipped in soy sauce. Sorry, Susi, but I had to come clean. LOL!!!!!

6. My favourite author of all time is Robertson Davies. I own every single one of his books -- even the ones published posthumously.

7. A few years ago I was hypnotically regressed and remembered a past life as a doctor named Eddie who lived in England in the 1850s. I shit you not. ;)

Now, according to the rules of this little game, I have to tag someone else, and they have to link back to me...


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Update from Saskatchewan

The only reason I am even posting is because I had to let Jenna know my push up count! Hee-hee!!

Day 2
Set 1: 10
Set 2 : 12
Set 3: 8
Set 4: 8
Set 5: 12

Day 3
Set 1: 11
Set 2: 15
Set 3: 9
Set 4: 9
Set 5: 13 (OWWW!!!) LOL!

Melfort is much colder than the Pass, and as flat as a pancake. I've been swimming in their glorious pool here -- what a treat! AND it is actually 25 meters!!! LOL!!!

My sister and her hubby introduced me to Rock Band (or Rockstar or whatever it's called!) last night and I was giving 'er on the drums all evening... I haven't been able to get the hang of the guitar yet, but I belted out some Alanis Morissete and some Pearl Jam. Hahahahaha!!

And for Keith -- the chin up quest is still on. I haven't forgot about it yet, I'm just going to build up some push up strength and then I'm going to try it again. :) :)

I nuked a cup of coffee in my sister's microwave this morning, not realizing that the mug I was using was not microwavable -- when I went to grab the handle it burned me pretty good. I've been holding a frozen water bottle all morning, and am now off to go swimming. The pain isn't too bad now -- a tingly burning pain that I don't want to concentarte on. Nothing that a little HTFU won't fix...


Oh and Jenna -- my sister is giving me a pass to see the tour of Christmas lights in Saskatoon -- apparently it's the biggest and best of its kind in Canada!! WOW! :) So, we can all pile into my car and tour around on Friday night with Timmy's in our hands. :) :) :)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

For Jenna --I'm on board baby!!!

Ok Jenna -- Mike laid in bed and timed the 60 seconds rest between my sets -- Day 1 of Week 1:

Set 1: 10
Set 2: 12
Set 3: 7
Set 4: 7
Set 5: 11

Bring on some serious push up action. Hahahahahahahaha!!!

Looks like I'll be heading up to toon town Sunday...I might see you on the way up or the way back. I'll give you a shout tomorrow!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sweaty, sweaty, sweaty

So, Chuck has prompted me to get my butt in gear and post! I've been busy training and sleeping. :) There are just a few more niggly-piggly things to be done for the store, but everything is out of there and I have no reason ever to set foot in there again!!!

Here's what I've been up to --

Since I've started training again, I've noticed how much more I sweat than last year -- especially on the bike. I mean REALLY sweat. So, I've started this little game, where I see if I can actually wring the sweat out of my sports bra at the end of a workout.

I've come pretty close -- I've been saturated, but I could coax nary a droplet...until last week. I think I crossed the sweat-barrier or something. After my bike, I quickly stripped off my duds and performed my little ritual -- And Lo!!! The sweat wrung out of my top, hit the tub. YAY!!!

Hahahahaha!! See? It doesn't take me much to get excited!! :) :)

Onto to other training news -- Next week, I'm bumping up to 4 swims a week. Which brings me to the push up challenge. Sorry, Jenna, but I haven't been able to squeeze anymore push up workouts into my schedule yet. My poor wee little arms are plain tuckered out from all the swimming I'm doing!! But, I am not going to bail, yet. If I crap out, then I'll concentrate on cheering all of you on instead!!!! :) :)

By the way -- I've been thinking about the blog world lately, and wanted to thank all of you who have commented and blog themselves. I have learned so much from all of you -- so that when the poop has gone down in my life, I've drawn upon your experiences for strength.

I actually just emailed Kelsey about this -- most recently, her example has provided me with immeasurable strength. Instead of sinking into bad feelings, I rallied myself by remembering how hard Kelsey has fought for change and how courageous she has been in dealing with one obstacle after another. All this -- and she didn't even know the influence she had!

I guess what I am trying to say, is that we really do have an impact on the world around us -- even if we don't know it. Just the way we live our lives (and blog about them! Hee-hee!) is like a stone cast into a pond. You never know just who those ripples are going to reach.

Shannon -- Your pure heart and love for animals echoes my feelings and has provided me comfort knowing that there are people out there who feel the same as I do. Your insight into training has actually lifted me up on at least one occasion. When I felt terrible about having a miserable swim in a race, it was your comment that eradicated my self-doubt and put me in the right frame of mind. YOU ARE A ROCK STAR!!!

Keith -- Your wisdom and humour have challenged me to dig deeper within myself and find the goodness instead of concentrating on the bad. Your story of the monk carrying the woman across the river came at a very critical point in my life. You have no idea how much that comment enlightened me -- I truly felt my spirit lift. You have a knack for saying just the right thing at just the right time. If I were to hike up a mountain, I'd expect to find you sitting there (cross-legged and in the zone)-- calm, patient, wise. Thank you for your extrapolation on the floating elephant theory too!!

Jenna -- You recommended a book that is slowly changing my life, and have gently reminded me via comments and emails to not get distracted by fear. You have provided me with so much strength -- the experiences you have gone through with your father, your family, your training, your kids, and even Rolo. I admire your succinct honesty. When I find myself making excuses or copping out of something -- I think of you -- charging ahead and just getting things done.

Susi -- Our friendship has blossomed and I have learned so much from you. You have a quiet simplicity and a no-nonsense way about you that inspires me to challenge my own fears. I remember the last time you were here and I was mildly alarmed about the prospect of me taking my bike apart for transport -- you basically said, "all you have to do is this, this, and this." Suddenly, it wasn't such a big deal anymore. The way you see beauty in the ordinary, the way you have battled your own demons, and your stories of the good hamster/bad hamster dichotomy teach me something every time! YOU ARE A NINJA-WARRIOR-PRINCESS!!

Kelly -- You have a big heart and a depth of perception that make me think twice about snap judgments I make. Things that have really stuck with me about you -- your great love for your kids; when one of your kids told you (in a funny way -- I forget the precise words -- but he didn't say 'I can't') he couldn't do something, how you always buy the Timmy's order for whoever is behind you, and how you manage to get your training done even with all the challenges of injury, trepidation, and time constraints. You remind me to be selfless and not selfish.

Darryl - You have a dogged determination and straight forward to approach to life. You are not afraid to call a spade a spade, and never make excuses. You just do it!! Sometimes I get bogged down in thoughts, and it is your example that has helped me turn off the inner static and just go for it.

Chuck -- I can't wait to meet you! Following your journey in learning how to swim has been so inspiring to me. You hit major stumbling blocks, but came back to conquer your fears with an amazing persistance and equally amazing positive attitude. To think of where you were last year swimming, compared to where you are now --- WOW!!!

Cath and Jase -- What can I say? Thank you so much for coming into my life. A cosmic connection, or as Charmaine would say, "A seismic connection." LOL!!! I've never met a couple like you guys. Both of you are so kind, wise, thoughtful, and honest. More than anything else, you guys have motivated me to become a better person -- in my thoughts and actions. You both have illustrated the meaning of true friendship. I LOVE YOU GUYS!!!!!!! :) :) :) :)

HUGS TO EVERYONE!!!!!!!!! :) :) :) :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Dunzo! Finito! It's Really Over!!!!

I can't believe today was the last day -- 8 years and 8 months of my life have officially come to an end. What's next? I have no idea!

These past few months have been a winding down of sorts for me. I didn't expect to go through so many different emotions -- I honestly thought that relief and excitement would be my primary emotions. However, I've run the emotional gamut -- at least twice. LOL!!!

It hasn't really sunk in yet. There are a few loose ends to tie up - final franchise payment, final WCB stuff, and clean up. My Mom and I are going to go in tomorrow at 11:00am or so and start packing things up. I'm donating everything left over to various charities. By the way, I had a fun time making shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child this year!! Hee-hee! I even had to call our local distributor to get more shoe boxes to fill with toys I had left over! :) :)

It is so strange how life can seem to drag on in the same usual vein until change occurs, and then WHAMMO! Suddenly you are on a different course. I was ready to shut the store down last November, but gave it one last go in an attempt to sell it. So, in one sense I had reconciled myself to the fact that I would not be living and breathing the dollar store industry any longer. But, as the final date drew closer, I started to stress, nag, nit-pick, and panic all at the same time.

For a long time, a big part of my identity has been as a business owner. It doesn't matter that I never saw the dollar store as part of me, everyone else did. And, that is the lens through which people interacted with me. I'm heading into uncharted territory again, and am terrified yet exhilarated at the same time.

Do I have a plan? No.
Do I have the slightest idea what I'm going to do now? No.
Does this scare me? Yes.

Lessons learned, hopefully remembered!

Pulling the sign for the last time...

My Mom acting like a little devil... Hee-hee!!!!

It's weird the stuff I had left over...Things I thought I would sell out of hung around, and things that I thought I would be stuck with sold. Go figure! Tonight, I gave a case of these nifty gender-specific cigarette lighters to a friend of mine. He was quite thrilled --- I know he'll be a hit at the bar tonight...

As you can see, my ordering skills were finely honed after 8 years. Hahahahahahaha!!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Chugging right along

4 days and counting!!!! November 21 is my last official day of business. All the shelving has been sold -- thanks Jenna for your tip about kijiji. It was through kijiji that I sold all my gondola shelving. A family from Edmonton drove down, disassembled all 81 units and took them away! :) :)

Walking into the store after all the shelving was removed was an odd experience. It was strangely reminiscent of the time when I first opened the store. All 8 years and 8 months ago. The store was completely empty and I was scrambling around assembling shelves, pricing and allocating products, and interviewing potential employees. None of which I had ever done before -- especially in the capacity as an employer. What a journey it's been!

These past few weeks have been a time for reflection -- Realizing the lessons I've learned from owning and operating a business as well as letting it sink in that this chapter of my life is coming to an end. I've been asked by a few people (who don't know me that well) if I am even a little sad. NO WAY!!! You know that expression of a huge weight being lifted from your shoulders? Well, it is bang on. I feel invigorated and excited. Energized and ready.

It's been such an experience. I could lie and blather on about all the good things that have come from the business, but I'm no liar -- there's been a mass of stress and discomfort that's come out of it too. 9/11 took a huge bite out of my fledgling business, and the forest fire that evacuated our community in 2003 decimated it. It took me a full 2 years to pay off outstanding bills from that horrible summer of 2003. I feel nauseous just remembering it.

And, dollar stores attract the cheapest scum of the earth. I've had people hem and haw at the counter trying to decide if the 3 for $1.00 seeds (that are $1.99 a packet anywhere else) are a good deal. I've had a restaurant owner ask for a deal on 12 candles that sell for 4 for $1.00!!! A discount on three bucks?? My Mom said I should have asked him if I'd get a discount if I ordered dessert after an entree at his restaurant. LOL!!!

I've bit my lip while hearing so many local people tell their kids to save their money, "because we are going to the city," or my personal favourite, "Because we are going to Wal Mart." (Don't even get me started on Wal Mart.) Then I've had these same people demand (not ask, mind you) donations for their club or team. Fat chance.

Ah well -- like the last bit of pus squeezed from the pimple, I'm just getting it all out. LOL!!!

The day after the shelves were removed, I started doing cartwheels in the middle of the store. I've been feeling quite giddy. And today, I cleaned out my office -- it feels so great to throw things out!! :) :) :)

My Mom and I erupt into giggles at the smallest provocation -- man, it's going to be good to be gone!!!! :) :) :) :)

Shall I even talk about training? Heh-heh-heh! I've eased back into training after my nasty cold and am feeling great. It's so weird, the times I've been nailed with a terrible cold I always come back stronger. I've noticed a substantial improvement in my swimming, biking, and running just this last week. My coach told me that the key is to get enough rest so that my body doesn't have to get sick to get the rest to recover. How come the simplest things always make the most sense? :) :)

Let the next chapter begin!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


This morning, I had an easy spin for 20 minutes on my bike and then did some core and stretching afterward.

So, there I lay on my yoga mat, with Peanut circling me and rubbing up against various parts of my sweaty body. Swish, Peanut would rub against the back of my neck while I did a sit-up; swish, she is now curled up underneath my legs and leaning against my bum as I am still doing sit ups. You can't imagine the great swaths of orange cat hair I had to swipe off with a towel. NICE. LOL!!!

I'm a little stiff from all the lying around and sleeping I've been doing, so I got out my special red stretchy band. I looped it over the top my left foot, and then lay back on the mat and proceeded to flex my foot while making big and little circles with my leg, and other stretches.

I was really enjoying myself -- I had my iPod on and was feeling great about stretching when all of a sudden... WHAP!!!!

The stretchy band came off my foot and slapped me hard in the middle of my chest. It actually winded me -- I kid you not!! I let out an "OOOMMPH!" and then felt like a total idiot. LOL!!!! I lay there prone, taken out by a red elastic band. Hahahahahahaha!!

I finished with my stretching and then went to have a tub. It was only when I lay back in the bathtub that I noticed the huge raised, red welt that went across the middle of my chest. I started giggling -- I can't believe how much of a dork I am!!!


Friday, November 7, 2008

Still Alive

Still alive -- over the worst part of the cold,. Now I'm coughing up the occasional goo, and snuttin'. Hanging in there!

:) :) :) :)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

You Will NEVER Believe This...

Sorry I've been absent from the blogging world -- I'm laying low right now with an annoying head cold. Annoying, because I am barred from working out by my Mikey and by my two buddies in merry England. As Jason would say, "If you keep working out, your heart will stop beating." And yes, he really does have a friend who worked out when he was ill and his heart stopped beating!! Hahahahaha!!

Speaking of my good friends in the UK...have I got a piece of news for all of you!!!

I recently acquired a second-hand Blue Seventy wetsuit. A barely used wetsuit. In fact, the wetsuit has only been worn twice -- once in a race and once in a photoshoot. Any guesses as to whose wetsuit I'll be racing in next year?

Come on guys, think BIG. REALLY BIG!! BIGGER than BIG!!!


I'll HAVE to swim faster next year! LOL!!!!!!

A HUGE thank you and lots of hugs and kisses to my dear friend Cath. Do I ever owe you one!!!! :) :) :) (Oh yeah, and Jase, I didn't forget you!!)

I am so lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky; I am so lucky! :) :) :) :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Random thoughts

After I workout I like to bathe. In a bathtub. I used to be a shower person, until I went on my little Nepal stint a few years ago. I endured such cold and hardship (ok, not REAL hardship, LOL!) that I promised myself if I sucked it up and made it through the trip, I could have as many HOT baths as I wanted -- for the rest of my life. This particular thought occurred to me in the middle of a snowstorm at 18 000 feet while we were huddled up in tents. The temp went down to -15 Celsius that night and I was soooooo flipping cold.

Anyways, whining aside, there is no greater enjoyment than immersing myself in hot water. It feels so good it's almost like I'm doing something wrong -- you know that feeling? Hahahaha!!

After my bike workout yesterday, I stripped down and headed to the tub. Peanut usually sits on the edge and paws at the water and sometimes climbs on my back. Then I'm yelling for Mike to come and get her off. Toby usually comes in the bathroom too -- but she likes to lick any renegade droplets of water that land on the edge of the tub. As you can guess, the bathroom door at my house is rarely closed. The only time it closes is when a guest is over. Even then, at least one cat and one dog will follow said guest and scratch at the door while the guest goes about his/her business.

As I was relaxing in my tub yesterday, it suddenly occurred to me that I hang my swimsuit to dry by the crotch on the door handle of the bathroom. So the odd time when someone is over and has to use the loo, they have to touch my suit...Yep.

I was feeling pretty relaxed in the tub and got to thinking about how long I could blow bubbles out of my nose with my face under the water. I bent my face into the water and exhaled, listening to the bubbles. I must have zoned out, because the next thing I heard was, "WHAT are you doing??" Mike came into the bathroom and saw me sitting in the tub, with my upper body bent over my legs to get my face in the water. Shannon's quip entered my head ("You married it!"), however, Mike and I are not technically married, but you get the gist!!! LOL!!!!!

In other news...the mouse that has sought refuge behind our stove for the last week finally made his move this morning. Peanut and Mandalay had been taking turns staring under the stove, and I even caught a glimpse of it ON THE COUNTER last night as I did the dishes. EEEEEEEWWWWWWWW!!!! Mike pulled out the stove, and of course we couldn't find it. But the sight of dust bunnies and all manner of drips, stains and assorted stuff underneath the stove grossed me out enough. I wasn't going to clean it though, because I was too afraid of the mouse!

This morning, as I was putting the dishes away, I noticed a bunch of tiny mouse poop in the sink. I continued to buzz about the kitchen getting ready for my swim, when suddenly I saw the mouse dart behind the toaster oven!! RAISE THE ALARM!!! I was hooting and hollering and poor Mike, shot out of bed grabbed his bathrobe and tried to get into the kitchen while simultaneously waking up. As the toaster oven sits in the corner, we managed to block it off with two extra Ikea bookshelves. Then, in the little space betwen the shelves, we placed a laundry hamper underneath, on the floor.

Mike put some gloves on, and then we had to wait for Peanut to finish up her morning poop. She was scratching away at the litter box downstairs, and then came roaring up the stairs. (As an aside, there is a direct correlation to the stink of Peanut's business and the speed with which she flies up the stairs.) I grabbed The Nut, and put her in the blocked off area where the mouse was. And then the fun began...

Things happened fast, and I was squealing, Mike was yelling at me to hold the shelf in place, I didn't want to look but could not look away...The mouse got past Peanut and fell into the laundry hamper! He started jumping -- really jumping, and squeezed out through one of those laundry hamper holes. DANG!! He scurried underneath the desk and now Toby and Diva were also involved. I was totally freaking out by this point, and it was all I could do to try and help Mike. Poor Mike!!! Hahahaha!!

The mouse finally made a mad dash toward the back hall where a little crack in the floor leads to the basement. The dirt basement where the rest of his family has probably burrowed in for the winter. Eeecccchhhhhhhh. All that action before 6:30am!!!!

Have a great day everyone!!!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

And no, it is NOT a typo...

Workouts from my coach can be deceptive...

Even though I write down each swimming workout on a little piece of paper to take with me to the pool, somehow the level of difficulty of each workout eludes me, until I enter the water. After I actually start the workout, I realize, "Oh shit." Hahahahahaha!!

One thing all swimming workouts have in common, however, are their uncanny ability to cause me to do a double-take. I have even taken off my goggles and stared at the piece of paper thinking to myself, "Did she make a typo? I just did that set and and had a cool down -- I'm supposed to repeat it?" Or, "I have to do 2 sets 'hard, hard?'" Not just "hard," but, "hard,hard?"

It's not a typo.


Wednesday's swim was going along very well, until I got to the big bits -- something along the lines of a bunch of sets of 200m. By the time I was done, I was ready to go to bed. My eyes had that sleepy, half-lidded look, I swear!!! I couldn't believe that I had finished the workout and had a big stupid grin on my face. :) :)

Friday's swim workout, however, scared the living daylights out of me. As usual, I was chugging along until I hit the typo-part of the workout. I stared, blinking at the piece of paper, thinking to myself how in the world am I going to do that? After I accepted that there was no typo, I took a deep breath and went like stink! Well, I didn't exactly GIVE it that hard. Definitely not "hard, hard." I just don't have the physical strength to do justice to a "hard, hard" workout yet. I knew I had to ration my strength to even finish, and so many times while I was swimming, I wanted to quit.

I was breathing so hard during those precious 20 seconds between sets. I would try and swim as hard as I could, but oh -- 100m is so far!!!! I was gasping for air, and as I swam, my legs were getting tingly from the exertion. And at the same time, it was so maddening, because I knew I wasn't actually going "hard, hard!"

I was genuinely surprised when I finished the workout. Another big, stupid grin would have crept on my face had I not been sucking in all the oxygen I could. :)

Fast forward to today -- I decided to do butterfly during the sets of IM I had to do, instead of copping out and just doing the kick. I had prepared myself by consulting my very dear friend youtube, and armed with the visuals of a marine thrusting his hips backwards and forwards, I did my first real attempt at butterfly. It was a sight to behold -- Hahahahaha!

My arms actually do come out of the water -- Oh man, Cath, you should have been there!! HAHAHAHAHA!! LOVE IT!! I felt like a kid -- splashing away at the water with all my might, trying to remember what Jimmy from youtube said to do, and trying to breathe air and not water. Get this, I ended up doing a total of 5 lengths of drowning-butterfly-style stroke today!! WOOOHOOO!! I'm excited about learning something new - I remember when I was teaching myself how to do a flip turn -- I would carefully watch youtube videos and take notes, then follow the instructions the next day at the pool.

Already, I've been graciously offered a number of helpful hints: "Try swimming with flippers, try a couple of dolphin dives, try swimming with only one arm." I'm trying it all baby!! Woohooo -- butterfly, here I come.

And, yes -- that big stupid grin came back again today. :) :) :) :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Calling all triathletes!

Does anyone out there in the blogging world know where I could either borrow/rent/purchase a bike travel case? I'm flying to Arizona in February and am putting out the call now!

The lucky person who lends me their bike case will receive the following prizes:

1. A weekend stay at my place -- you can use my pad as a base for skiing in Fernie or Castle Mountain, or whatever you choose to do!

2. My signature homemade lasagna and for dessert, my famous apple and cheese torte.

3. Free snuggles from my two dogs and two cats.

4. As much coffee as your heart desires!

:) :) :)

If anyone could help me out (or know someone who could), I'd love you forever and forever.

Thanks guys!!

:) :) :) :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Julie does the butterfly...

So my schedule today called for a few sets of IM. In the words of my coach, "it doesn't have to be pretty," just try it. Now, the only swim stroke I actually KNOW how to do is freestyle -- and that is still a big work in progress. I only recently "learned" breast stroke and back stroke from my good friend, youtube. I have no idea if I'm doing them correctly, but I manage to make my way from one end of the pool to the other without anyone laughing at me -- so I figure I must at least look like I know what I'm doing. LOL!!

But the butterfly has been something I have not tried at all. Frankly, it scares the hell out of me. Charmaine had me do the butterfly kick earlier this year, but it doesn't look anything like it is supposed to! Hahahaha!! I just kick with both legs and take a breath every once in a while. I have no idea what to do with my arms, so I just sort of take a freestyle stroke when I go to take a breath. Hey -- whatever works right? :) :)

For the longest while, I would hump my way along the bottom of the pool. I was like a worm, wriggling my way underwater trying to get to the other side. Now, I manage to hump away at the surface (which makes breathing a much easier enterprise!) Oh man, Chuck you are going to love this post -- it really does feel pervy thrusting away at the water, and not really getting anywhere. It's these moments that only adult non-swimmers can truly appreciate. LOL!!

By the way, the thrashing I did in the pool this morning WASN'T pretty, but it sure felt like I was working hard!! Hahahaha!!!

So, before you know it, I'll be swimming like Zohan...I've laughed so hard over this vid clip, I've cried.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Oh yes, it's crab apple time again...

Those of you who know me, even a little, know how much I HATE crab apples. I mean REALLY HATE them. In fact, if there is a word stronger than hate, I'd definitely apply it to them.

Let me enlighten you all about the joyful experiences of owning crab apple trees and white carpets. The only good thing about these trees are the blossoms in the spring and the shade they provide in the summer. Apart from that -- the stinking mess they leave in the fall and winter is gross. (If I slip up and start calling them cranberries, just ignore me - I do it all the time.)

From a crab apple virgin's perspective, I often hear, "What's the big deal? Just pick them up when they fall down." Ahhh, my little neophyte, you know so little about crab apples. You see, you only have a limited amount of time to pick the crab apples, and a limited reach. (I don't own scaffolding, so I can only reach as high as the top rung of my ladder.) The goal is to pick as many apples as possible BEFORE the first frost otherwise it's game over.

And every year, it's game over. There is no way to win. The first frost hits and the apples turn to instant mush. They will fall from the trees and lie there on the ground looking deceptively solid...until you bend to pick one up. Instant disintegration! All over your hands and shoes. The worst is getting nailed by falling crab apple bombs. With the winds being what they are here, you never know when a 100km/hour blast is going to strike just when you are trying to navigate the walkway to your car to go to work. SPLAT!!! Cranberries on my shoulder, my face, and yes even on my head -- then turn around and head inside for ANOTHER clothes change.

And the dogs!!! They like to go and lie down in the front yard, hence their rears are covered in sticky crab apple mush. They get nailed from the apple bombs too -- I have to continually wipe their faces and ears. Plus, I am the idiot that INSISTED on white carpets when we moved in!!!! AAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!

Every year, the saga continues...One year, Mike bought some rolls of black lawn fabric to try and "catch" the apples as they fell. With the winds here, we had to nail the stuff down. It wasn't too long before a few edges ripped free and the stuff would be flapping in the wind all the time. It didn't really work.

This year, it's as gross as ever. We are in the process of re-siding our humble abode, and the guy that has been doing all the work has joked about how it feels like he is stepping in dog poop all the time. There's nothing like the feeling of sinking your foot into a nice squishy pile of crab apples. They get right into the grooves of your shoes, or my personal favourite, they sneak up the sides of your shoes so you don't notice until you leave a trail of jam at the local grocery store.

This morning, I employed a relatively new tactic Mike has developed over the past few years...spray the walkway with water and dodge the falling apples.

It worked all right -- note the semi-clean pathway....

This next picture illustrates the magnitude of my crab apple mess! LOL!!!

And finally, here is a pic of our house in progress. Note the old brick-siding that we discovered underneath. LOL!! It's a!! LOL!! Toby (my little princess) is in the corner with her frisbee helping me with the crab apples.

Training is going so very awesome! I had my first official brick (a brick in the brick house, LOL!)of the season yesterday. YAY!! Completed my regular Friday, Spit-up Day routine today with nary a burp. Everyone at the pool has finally "gotten" that I can't chat it up when I swim like a mad fool from one end of the pool to the other and have only 15 seconds to recover. :) :) :)



Happy weekend everyone!!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

HTFU -- My New Mantra

Weather too cold? HTFU.

Got a flat tire? HTFU.

Swimming pool full of floatin' oldies? HTFU.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I've been fortunate enough (so far) to have been able to do all my bike workouts outside still. I want to delay the long, long days of trainer riding as much as I can -- so my trusty steed (y'all remember Crash right?) and I have had some fine autumn days together. Oh -- and Susi --- you'd be so proud of me! My courage has blossomed in regards to my mountain biking skills. Granted, I am still not technically on a real trail, but my confidence is at the point now, where I am excited about venturing off the well-beaten logging road. Heh-heh-heh!

That said, I had a helluva bike ride on Saturday morning. I should have known something was wrong when 35 minutes into it, my Camel-bak froze. No amount of gumming the nozzle would coax out even a droplet, but still I pushed on. My ride was to last 2 hours with overgear work during the second hour. Now, as all roads in the Crowsnest Pass lead up, I thought I'd bike for about 1.5 hours up and then sail back down and home. Things were going great -- I was really enjoying myself out there. The dirt road I ride on is a wicked steady climb (starting in Blairmore), followed by a long descent that flattens out in the bottom of a valley. I turn around before this point, however. The road eventually curves back and climbs steadily back to Hillcrest. I think it is a 50km or so loop, that I would like to do in its entirety next year -- gorgeous!

Anyways, things literally went downhill when I turned around. The wind was against me and it was so frigging cold, I couldn't believe it. My fingers and feet quickly froze. I had a really hard time trying to change gears on my bike, and I could feel my core was getting cold. I had layered up with wool and a wind blocking jacket, but my cheap sports bra/tank top was soaking wet and retained all the moisture.

I went as fast as I could go -- but I knew I was getting to be in bad shape when I felt my face scrunch up and start to cry. It was so weird -- it's like my mind was separate from my body. I was thinking to myself, why in the hell is my face trying to cry? I'm not sad or worried, I'm just f$%#ing cold! I had no control over it. It's like trying to stop yourself from sweating when you are working out. Very weird.

By this point, I couldn't feel my legs, my feet, or my hands, and I pedaled like the hounds of hell were yipping at my wheels. I remember looking down at my legs as they were pedaling and thinking, shouldn't I be feeling the exertion of this effort?

Well, I felt it as soon as I got home. It's like I had held my breath while cycling home -- when I finally stopped, I was breathing so hard and fiercely I thought I was going to spew. I also started crying uncontrollably. Poor Mike had to literally undress me and put me in the tub. I was pretty mixed up too. I got in and out of the tub 2 times, all the while crying and saying, "What the hell is the matter with me? I can't stop crying!"

Mike made me a tea and gradually I warmed up. My feet HURT so much -- I couldn't stand the pain of them warming up. I gradually warmed up, until suddenly, I was back to normal. It was like a light switch went off in my head. Mike said to me in his no-nonsense voice -- "That's enough biking outside for this year." Eeeeeeep.

But......yesterday it was so nice outside, I was able to bike outside. I had to pass through the security check-point of Mike however, telling him where I was going, and for how long I was going (only an hour).

Keep warm everyone, or suffer the face-crumpling consequences...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Here comes the gobbler!

My sister and her hubby are coming tonight all the way from Melfort, Saskatchewan. Both are radio announcers -- Scott for the am side, Karen for the fm side. Actually, my sister just received a promotion and is now off the air and in charge of all other kinds of things. I'm so excited to see them -- with the store, I've only been up to see her 3 times. Now that is all going to change!!!! :) :)

My Mom has bought the turkey and has gathered all the ingredients to make her famous stuffing. YUM!! Which reminds me, instead of coming across the 'fraidy cows on my mountain bike ride, I came across a herd (a cluck?, a group?, a what? LOL!) of wild turkeys.

Training is going awesome! I've been easing back into things -- I've never been one to consistently log my total meters of swimming, or total hours of training. Fortunately, Sara does it for me. Hee-hee!! Last week I logged a total of 7.3 hours, this week will be 7.8 hours. I peeked ahead at next week's schedule and see my first brick is nestled in there! WHEEEE! Can't wait! :) :)

Fridays have been officially dubbed (by me) as Spit-up Day. Those familiar with Keith and his retaste zone will understand immediately what I am referring to. You will get it too, Cath! I've warned my fellow morning swimmers, that "Swim until you puke" is my new Friday workout -- and to not try talking to me as I try and catch my breath in the fleeting 30 seconds of rest.

Last Friday, I was so tired during the workout, and honing in on the retaste zone, that I had to burp. I looked over at Larry, a fellow self-taught youtube flip-turner, and said, "This is how it starts." Hahahahahaha!!

I have been taking full advantage of the weather too -- I've been mountain biking to my heart's content. Last Saturday I had a two hour ride with overgear work and it was sooooo beautiful. There were PUDDLES of yellow leaves scattered about the dirt road -- the loamy smells, the crisp air, the scenery -- WOW! I am so lucky to live here!!!!

The positive feeling lasted all the way through the miserable rain storm of a trail run I did on Tuesday. I felt like one of my dogs -- I'd take them out for a 10km run, and with all their dashing and running back and forth they end up logging more like 40km! Hopping around puddles and rivers and balancing between streams of water on the trail had me huffing and puffing. Of course in the Pass, the wind always blows one way, and the hills follow suit.

This means that just like my Dad (in the days of yore, heh-heh-heh) I was running uphill and into the wind -- rain slapping my kisser, until I turned around and headed back to my car.

Good times! I think I must have channeled Susi on Tuesday, because the wind and rain really didn't bother me -- go figure. I won't go far as to say that I was feeling the kisses from Mother Nature (remember that post Susi? LOL!) but I truly didn't get caught up in misery. :) :)

I owe this new shift in attitude to a real whiner (whinger, for Cath and Jase!) I had at the store last week. They are pretty rare in triathlon, but I'm sure you all know the type: complaining about the weather, the roads, the drivers, everything -- like they are the ONLY ones who experience such things. They are the ones who ask what your Ironman time is in not a nice way...they are the ones who are insecure and try to pull you in and pull you down, you know?

So, there are people I strive to emulate, and there are those I learn how not to be like. Good lessons all around. No more whining about the wind from me -- if I do, feel free to smack some sense back into me. :) :) :)

I'm sure Sara Reinersten doesn't whine about how a hard a hill is to pedal up...

OK, That's the last thing I'm going to rant about, otherwise I'll turn into what I despise!!!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone -- Oh and Susi -- We have 2 slow cookers, but I have no idea where they are...They are in the basement. Still don't understand? Ask Jenna! LOL!!!

A big shout of encouragement to my new coach, Sara Gross who will be competing in Kona on Saturday!! Good luck!!!!!! :) :) :) :)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Whew! What a week! With my store closing down, I've been crazy busy. Everything is 40% off and the sales have been NUTS. I've also been selling various racks, displays, and shelving -- Jenna was the one who discovered I actually made another blog to help sell my shelving. Hee-hee!

Things are moving along a lot more quickly then I expected-- we might be able to get out of there sometime in October if all goes well. My lease ends Nov. 30, and I already have the rent covered -- but the way things are clearing out of the store -- an October end date is possible. Yesterday, I sold ALL 51 feet of Ikea wooden shelving that fronts the store. AWESOME!!!!

Apart from training, which I will quickly touch on in a moment, a number of other random events are listed to entertain you...

1. I got SOOOO excited watching the leader's debate. I was up off the couch cheering and yelling. I still can't believe I derived quite that much enjoyment from watching it! LOL! I am officially an OLD FART!!!! The highlights of the night (for me) were:

* Gilles Duceppe's quip about how he wasn't going to win the election and three others aren't either -- they just don't know it yet! HAHAHAHAHA!!

* Harper's smackdown of Dion in the first few seconds of the English debate.

* Dion giving the WRONG website address to his party's green shift policy. For those of you who have not heard about this goes. Green Shift is an established and trademarked company in existence long before the Liberal Party formulated their policy. The woman who runs the company has received legal threats and innuendo from various Liberal party members urging her to abandon her company's name and threatening legal action. She cited instance after instance of Liberal newspaper ads, radio ads, and the like all erroneously citing HER site as the site to go to to learn more information about their policy. A gong show!!! LOVE IT!!!

2. I got a new hair dude -- a darker Julie has emerged for the fall season. heh-heh-heh. At the salon, my hairdresser told me of a prank she played on her nieces. She always sews them a special piece of clothing every year, and this year asked them to measure two things...

They had to measure the diameter of their belly button and compare it to the diameter of their nipple. If there was any discrepancy in measurements, they would have to go to the doctor ASAP. HAHAHAHAHA!!!! This has also caused me no end of enjoyment! LOL!!!

3. I decided to take Susi's advice and not talk assertively to the scaredy cows. I put on my cute little girly-girl voice and said, "Hi there little cowsie wowsies. You guys are so good. Oh look at you." And the stupid things just sat there blinking at me. I thought to myself, "You have GOT to be kidding me!" The voice worked for the first batch of cows, but I'm sorry to say it didn't work for the second set of cows. There were just as terrified as usual. Could it have been they sensed my eyes rolling because of the girly-girl voice? Heh-heh-heh!

I often wonder if a cow has ever died while sprinting away in fear. I'll see a cow's rump just a boppin' down the road in front of me, and then it will LEAP off the side of the road and down the mountain. They are like mountain goats!!

Onto to training...

Looks like I'll be working out 7 days a week! :):) And I've been mountain biking instead of road biking. Tomorrow my workout calls for some over gear work --- mountain biking in harder gears than usual! YAY!!

My swimming workout of Friday was the hardest session I have ever done. Really, I am not exaggerating. My swimming has been coined, "The Journey of the Eternal Plodder." I can go forever at the same pace, and it takes a lot to shake me out of it. And no Chuck, I am not being a pervert. LOL!!!! I had to do all these kicking sprints and then other sprints -- yesterday was the first time ever that I felt like vomiting from the sheer exertion of swimming hard. That's a good thing, right? HAHAHAHAHAHA!!

Sorry about the lack of posting -- when the store is finally closed, you all will be getting more than you bargained for!!!!!

:) :) :) :) :)

Monday, September 29, 2008

First Day Back!

I've officially started triathlon training again -- and what a swim workout I had this morning! I had a bunch of sprint kicking and a couple of sets of hard/easy swimming. I thought Charmaine was the only person who could make me sprout another lung -- guess I was wrong! Hee-hee!!!

Yesterday, I went for another mountain bike ride up my favourite climb. Holy Cow. Literally. The cows up there are strange ... 'fraidy cows actually. As soon as they see me, they start stampeding in panic away from me. Not all of them, but most of them. You can see the panic spread from one to another as they run. And can those suckers ever run!! Have you ever seen how fast a cow can move? You'd be quite surprised!

I've ran and biked by plenty of cows in my time, and I've never experienced the sheer terror of The Cows of Frank. The first time it happened, I thought it was an anomaly. Two black cows (a Momma and a kiddie) took a glance over their shoulders and started running. They quickly picked up the pace and kept glancing over at me. Then -- all hell broke loose! The two cows made a dash for the bush -- but had to get through a barbed wire fence first. One cow made it, the other cow got stuck. My God, that cow was flailing around in that fence like I was the Grim Reaper himself. Finally, the cow broke free and I heard a loud PING! A big metal hook that secured the fence to a post popped up through the air as I watched it fly in front of me and land over to my right.

OK -- So I learned that the cows up there were especially afraid. In the past couple of weeks, I've tried all manner of ways to calm them down. I start talking to them in a calm and assertive voice. I slow right down and talk calmly at them. For the most part, I think they are starting to get used to me. But I still run into the odd 'fraidy cow that takes ones look at me and bolts. And these suckers don't bolt in a logical way. I've had a couple of close calls when a cow decided to run right into my path instead of away from me...Geesh! What are the mountain biking skills necessary for this situation, Susi?? LOL!!!!!!

Can you imagine getting blindsided by a frigging cow?


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Meet My New Coach...

I'd like to introduce all of you to my new coach, Sara Gross!

I just received my first three weeks of workouts -- I officially begin Monday, September 29. YIPPPEEEE!! I am so pumped to start training!!!

Can't wait...

:) :) :) :) :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What I Call Mountain Biking

I had a neat surprise last week...I woke up one morning and felt fully rested. The Ironman fatigue was completely gone and I felt like my old self again. YAY!!

I've started swimming again and have been mountain biking up this monster set of hills right behind my house. My love/hat relationship with my mountain bike's clipless pedals has somewhat dissipated; however, the fear lingers on. The fear of what you ask? The fear of tipping over and not being able to unclip in time. I HATE THIS!!!

There is one section of the steady climb that has a particularly steep pitch. The dirt road is also very rough here -- very rocky and streams of gravel. It is all I can do to keep my bike pointed in a straight line going up the hill -- you have to pick your path oh so carefully and then pedal your butt off. If I slow down even for a minute, it's like trying to balance on a stopped bike in the middle of a hill. I've discovered that I can't be in too easy a gear or else I'll be going too slow up the hill, and risk falling and getting my legs chewed up.

I also learned a new trick from Charmaine. When going down a really steep road, you stand up, squeeze the seat with your inner thighs, and hang your bum over the rear tire. It really stabilizes you! She had me practice this first on a flat portion of road. I would stand up and lean toward my handlebars, then contrast that feeling with leaning backwards. What a difference!

Leaning towards the front makes you very unstable -- the bike wants to veer all over the place. So, after I reached the top of my "hill," I tested this out, and it worked!! Hee-hee!

I am still not at all comfortable biking on single track, hilly, rooty, and rocky trails. I might drive you mountain bike purists crazy, but if I am biking on a road or trail where I can't ride my road bike -- that is mountain biking to me! :) :)

The real fear stems from the fact I can't unclip as easily as from my road bike. There is no worse feeling than trying to unclip, and your foot is LOCKED in tight. I just about have a panic attack, and whip my ankle so hard to get me out.

I'm learning. I'm getting better, and I am stubborn! :) :) :)

Yesterday was also Day 1 Kelly's Core Bootcamp. Heh-heh-heh! I started off with high hopes...3 sets of 25 for EVERYTHING! I did manage that lofty goal for the first few workouts, but then I quickly degenerated into a shaking mass of tired muscle and did 3 sets of 12 for the rest.

I improved my push up count from last week! I did 3 sets of 10 instead of 3 sets of 8 so YIPPEEE for me!! HAhahahaahah! Look out chin up bar... you are so mine this year!!!!!!!

Yesterday morning also saw the fruition of a plan Charmaine and I had hatched a while back. I had purchased matching swim caps at the IMC expo -- pink camo caps with eyes and a open shark-toothed mouth on the front. To top it all off, there is an actual pink fin sticking up from the cap, so that when you are swimming, the eyes, mouth, and fin look hilarious -- a lane shark!! Hahahahahah!! Well, we did our workouts and then played around with fins to achieve the best "look." We finally got it right. With one arm extended in front to swim, the other extended to the back held up a swim fin. Then, we waited for the senior water aerobics to start...


We lurked at the far end of the pool, in our lane and waited until the last person entered the pool. Then we waited until all the water aerobic people shifted to the front of the pool and started to walk backwards. With a mutual nod, we dove under the lane ropes and began our attack...

We swam in and around all the guys and gals. One time when I went to breathe I heard the aerobic instructor say, "Watch out for the sharks!" HAHAHAHAHAHA!! You could see, some of these guys didn't know what to think! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!! AWESOME!!!

Let 'er rip! Time to get back into training!! YEEEHHHAAAAWWWWWWW!!!! :) :) :) :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Addicted to Wii!!!!

For a long time, Mike has had a secret somehow get me excited about a video game/computer game. Nothing has worked. I don't like computer games. I don't like Star Wars, Age of Civilization, World of Warcraft, Battleships (oops, I mean Battlefield), or the latest, Conan. I hear him talking to his online buddies about "leveling up," and getting a green gem or whatever, and I just shake my head. I had my fling with video games back in the day of Atari and my Mom was the pinball queen.

Well, all that changed a couple of days ago when Mike set up the new Wii system. It was so much fun! I was initially skeptical but played along when Mike asked me to box with him. The first round, was sort of a learning match, and then the next round I KO'd him!! AND the next one! Hee-hee! That was it, I was hooked, and on fire! We proceeded to play bowling, tennis (I can't hit the ball if my life depended on it), golf, and baseball.

There are training options within each sport that enables you to work out by yourself -- these are my favourites. For example, there is one boxing option where you see how many bags you can knock off the chain in a minute. FRIG!! It was so awesome -- I was punching the air like a maniac and panting up a astorm. I punched that bag until my arms nearly fell off --- and then I had to do it again!! Hahahaha!!

I made my Mom come over the other night so she could try it out. She was sooooo reluctant to come over, because her interest in computer games is even less than mine. Well 3.5 HOURS later we were still bowling and laughing our heads off. We were so loud that Mike had to take his headset off while he was playing Conan to ask us to quiet down. Of course, you can guess how well that went over. We upped the catcalling, and booing, and cheering. Poor Mike! Hee-hee!!

Yesterday, my Dad came over and played a round of golf and a game of bowling. Later that afternoon, he went to Wally's world and bought a Wii for him and my Mom!! HAhahahahahaha!!

Onto triathlon news....

Went on another mountain bike ride followed by come core work afterward. This was before Kelly sent me her awesome new routine, so I just did my usual thing. I BARELY managed 3 sets of 8 push ups -- and Oh My GOD!! The push ups coupled with me boxing at the Wii has left my arms and back really, really sore! :) :)

Yesterday I went for a 30 minute swim. I still feel pretty heavy and sluggish in the water (and it is so not because of the Mccain cake!!) But things are coming along. I know that for me, this time of year is the worst. Any physical activity feels so intense and difficult. Like I've never worked out a day in my life. I know it takes about a month to pass...

In the spirit of Jenna, Kelsey, and now Susi, I decided to finally update my blog. :) :):)

And, by the way, Jenna -- when I finally come up to see you, I'm bringing a cake for each of us... THAT'S how I go dutch!! LOL!!!!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I can run! Sort of...

While I am not back into training by any stretch of the imagination, I did haul my sorry butt off the couch to go for a 20 km mountain bike ride on Thursday. A very easy ride. Where most of the cycling was done on paved roads. :) I was pooped by the end but my lungs and body felt great. It was like they were thanking me: "Thanks, Julie! We were feeling so gross, now we're feeling awesome!"

In keeping with my new-found pep, I decided to attempt a 30 minute run yesterday. I took my dogs out, and started off feeling great. I was feeling awesome, and made it to this one point that has traditionally taken me 10 minutes to get to. Yesterday, I was just going easy and it took me 7.5 minutes. I looked at my watch and thought, "WOW! I feel great! Maybe I'll just go a little further..." I should have turned around at 15 minutes, but the weather was beautiful, the babies were having a blast, and I just felt so darn great.

I kept running. Very soon, I was at the half-way point of my 8 km loop. It was shortly after this that I hit the wall for the first time in my life. At exactly 26 minutes, I couldn't run at all anymore. I was POOPED!! Hahahahaha! So, I had a nice long walk back. Plenty of time to think about just how tired I was. :):)

I might be pooped from barely any exertion, but I am definitely back!!!!!!!!!!!!


:) :) :) :) :):)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ironman Canada 2008

What a day -- or should I say what a swim!! Hahahahaha!! I had a remarkable swim this year. I took off almost 10 minutes off last year's time! Hee-hee! I still can't believe it. My friends and family who were following my journey via the internet couldn't believe it either. Charmaine told me, "I thought they must have made a mistake!" Hahahahah!! Last year, my swim time was 1:21:15. This year, it was 1:11:51. You have no idea how funny I think this is!!

As for the rest of the race, I was not happy with my bike split -- it's actually gotten slower every year, and this year was the slowest. My very first IMC was my fastest bike split, so I don't know what is going on there. My first IM bike time was 6:45:29, this year's was a snail's pace of 7:11:26. THAT is changing next year.

My run was better -- last year was 5:09:45, this year was 4:58:17 -- but I KNOW I can do much better than this too. So, look out next year! :) :) :)

I really suffered during the last half of the marathon. I began to pee at every aid station, and started getting dizzy and woozy. I became really scared -- terrified actually, because I knew how I could end up if I continued on that way. I did not want a repeat of IMC 2006, and almost started crying I was so worried. I stopped drinking water altogether and forced myself to take in Gatorade, chicken soup (at the aid stations which hadn't run out), bananas, and orange slices. My condition grew progressively worse and I was terrified beyond belief.

But, somewhere along the way, I started to feel a teensy bit better. I still was peeing much too much, but not as much as before. By this point, the pain in every single muscle of my legs and the blister on my right foot proved more of a distraction than my wooziness. It was so unbelievably hard to start running again after I would stop to eat and drink. I kept thinking to myself, "Why the hell am I doing this? I really don't need to do this to my body anymore. This is my last year of Ironman. I don't have anything to prove!"

Of course, this feeling lasts only until right before the finish line... HAHAHAHAHAHA!!

So, a new PB for me: 13:28:35 -- 17:42 off last year's time. While I am happy with my race, I am not satisfied with my results and know I can do much better.

Now...onto the REAL highlights of my stay in Penticton:

1. Seeing this before I left home, I knew I was going to have a good race:

2. Swimming with Kelsey in the OTHER lake in Penticton -- the one where no triathletes are fretting about! BLISS! She invented a new stroke -- the "rocking horse." Hahahahaah!! You lie on your stomach, cross your feet at the ankles and then do a kind of breast stroke. It looks hilarious! I laughed so much at trying to emulate her -- she was like Loch Nessie bobbing around the water. Hahahahah!

3. After stepping out of the shower in my motel room, I bent over to pick up my towel, only to feel a fold of the cheap cloth shower curtain get caught between my butt cheeks. NICE. My immediate thought was, "How many other people has this happened too?"

4. Weighing in at IMC 16 lbs heavier than last year... then learning that EVERYONE had experienced the same inflated readings. Still, you have no idea the conversation I had with myself before realizing the scales were wrong!

4. Making deals with my body throughout the run portion -- My inner dialog went like this: "Body, I promise to not run with these legs for a month if you don't cramp up." Or my favourite, "Foot, if you stop that blister from popping, I promise to take very good care of you and put you up on the coffee table so you can watch movies."

Yup. It's the size of a flippin' toonie. And it didn't pop. Heh-heh-heh-heh.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Whole Lotta Cheering Goin' On!

This weekend I broke out the tambourine, bells, and pompoms for some serious cheering. Friday, the Trans Rockies came through the Pass. The event lasts seven days and covers over 600 km of rugged mountain terrain. Competitors come from all over the world to participate -- it was so awesome to cheer them on. Charmaine, her hubby, and I would like to do this race, but it's a little close to IMC -- hmmm...but you never know right? LOL!!

Yesterday, I drove up to Fort Macleod to cheer my friend Trudy in her first ever triathlon!! I went absolutely bananas!!! The Trans Rockies was cool, but triathlon is MY sport and I yelled and hollered for every competitor. I was in full-on Ironman cheering mode, and I can honestly say, I don't think Fort Macleod has ever seen the likes of it!! HAHAHAHAHA!!!

Trudy did so awesome and she even SPRINTED like an Olympian to the finish line!!! She was running so fast, I doubled over in laughter -- it was so cute to see that final kick!!

I'm taking a break from the blogging world until after IMC... I have a lot of stuff to get together so I'm going to say my good-byes and good lucks now...

-- I'll see you there, and for heaven's sake, remember to put something on underneath your wetsuit! LOL!!!

- Pack up a big suitcase of smiles and laughter -- you are going to love it! :) :)

- You are so ready for this race -- I am really excited for you!!

See ya later, when it's all said and done!!!! :) :) :)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My New Hero -- Sherraine Schalm

I just finished watching a CBC interview of Canadian fencer Sherraine Schalm and was motivated and impressed by her passion and values. After an emotional outburst after losing her fencing match, the media (Canadian media) pounced all over her like she committed some terrible crime.

I find her dedication to sport and her unabashed honesty exhilarating and am proud that she is Canadian. Finally, here is a strong female athlete who is unafraid to say exactly what she thinks, and is just as quick to apologize and learn from her mistakes. I am doubly proud of her!

When I watched her reaction at the end of the fencing match, my first reaction was: "YES! Finally a female athlete with some fire!" She gave it all she had, and in the antagonistic interview on CBC, she didn't back down. I loved how when the interviewer introduced her by saying she was unable to win an Olympic medal for Canada "yet again," she interrupted him and repeated sarcastically "yet again." The interviewer is the one who needs etiquette lessons.

Near the end of the interview, the interviewer again blundered into the realm of rudeness when he asked why after all her world cup wins, her efforts have not translated into a medal. I LOVED her response...

She asked him, (my paraphrase here) "I don't know if you know what it's like to be an Olympic athlete, but every girl here has the potential to win gold. And all 32 girls are asking themselves what they could have done differently." Right back at you sucker! Ha!

I am disgusted at this interviewer's tactics -- considering she is one of our athletes. For that matter, I am disgusted with the CBC's habit of chasing the ambulance so to speak and asking athletes right after they have given it their all - "Why didn't you do better? How do you feel knowing that your personal best wasn't good enough?" How do you think they feel? Like shit.

I am so proud that Sherraine is such a fireball!

Congratulations on your performance, Sherraine -- you are a true Olympian!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Race numbers announced!

My race number is 1922!!!!!!!!!!!!

:) :):) :) :)

Animal magnet

Every morning, as soon as I wake up, my animals expect me to follow a precise routine. The dogs especially let me know about it if I do anything wrong -- perhaps because they benefit the most. I'm one of those pet owners who makes sure the food bowls are brimming with food all the time. I don't pre-measure the food, nor do I only feed at a certain time.

However, every morning, as soon as I get up, Diva and Toby herd me to their food bowls. First stop is: "Breakfast Nuggets!" I try to liven up their canine palates, after all, it must be so boring to eat the same food every single day! So, I put in 5 big chunks of a dental food -- I have to scatter it around in their individual bowls too, because they like to root through the smaller dog food and find surprises!

Sometimes, there are slight deviations to this routine -- the main one being that Toby has to go pee before she gets her nuggets. At these times, I have to watch, because Diva will slink over to Toby's bowl and polish off her share. Heh-heh-heh!

Next stop, is "First Medicine" ("Second Medicine" occurs in the evening -- heh-heh!). I have to time this right -- sometimes I go down and clean the kitty litter while they are eating their nuggets. But I have to be quick, otherwise Diva starts barking at me to hurry up. I'll scoot up the stairs where they crowd around me for their respective thyroid pills wrapped in pieces of processed cheese. The timing of the medicine is key -- I have to make sure I give them their medicine at the same time -- exactly.

Diva will eat anything, wrapped in cheese or not, but Toby is a finicky little squirt. She spits things out. So, when she sees Diva getting a morsel, she gets jealous, forgets her finickiness and wolfs it down too. Then, they each get a milk bone.

Afterwards, when I plunk down in front of the computer and start to blog, the Majestic Nut graces me with her furry presence. She jumps on the desk and walks back and forth in front of me. She paces directly between the keyboard and my body -- this is my que to bend forward and let her rub her body against my forehead as she goes by. Then she turns around and does it again. With each pass, she initiates the full body rub by starting with her furry little cheek. Then she angles her body in and arches her back in delight.

Sometimes I have to kiss her body as she walks by too! Hee-hee!!

Who has who trained?

Well -- not much to say about training, only that I am very slowly getting rested. I went for a 2.5 hour ride yesterday and was astonished at how the wind didn't bother me. Usually I'm grinding away in my easiest gear and hardly pedaling at all. Yesterday was the first time EVER, that I could actually put it into a harder (or maybe I should say, not as easy? Hee-hee!!) gear, and then actually push it a bit when the grade of the road slightly changed. I have never been more surprised in my life!

Well, that's not precisely accurate...About 30 minutes into my ride, a black bear scampered across the road right in front of me! I just about fell off my bike, as I was climbing up a hill. For the rest of the ride, I saw huge piles of bear poop on the shoulder of the road.

One more animal story to tell you... On the way home from Susi's a couple of weekend's ago, I saw something moving very slowly in the middle of the road. As I drew nearer I was alarmed to see it was a procession of Mama duck and her baby duckies! All at once, I slammed on the brakes, punched on my four way flashers, swerved into the opposite lane and waved my arm like crazy out the window to the oncoming traffic. Would I have risked a head-on collision? Yes. I didn't have time to think, and my gut reaction was what it was.

Fortunately, there was enough of a gap in traffic that I didn't hit anyone -- the oncoming motorcyclist flashed his old light at me, but slowed down nonetheless. Whew!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More Olympic oohs and ahhhs

As I sit on the couch tapering and eating a fudgesicle, I am in all my glory watching the Olympics. Hee-hee! Watching Phelps win another gold last night was awesome!!

I did manage to go for a lake swim yesterday morning however. But it was freezing cold! What happened to summer? There's already been frost up at Mike's Mom's horse camp -- brrrrrr!

When I drove down to the lake, I could see the wind had turned the usually placid water into a choppy surface. I dallied a bit at my car. Should I go for a swim, or should I just head to the pool instead? It's frigging cold! I bucked up and decided to just give it a go.

I stood there shivering in my bathing suit as I quickly got my wetsuit on. There were a few campers about in case I needed help zipping up my suit, but I managed to do it on my own. As I walked to the water, my eyes were glued to the waves. Now, I know it isn't anywhere near as wavy as REAL lakes, but they were short and choppy enough for this rookie!

My first step into the water confirmed it -- it WAS cold. Oh well -- nothing like swimming like a mad fool to get warmed up. There was a guy fishing just to the right of me -- he was bundled up pretty good and looked like he was enjoying a beer. I heard him ask, "It's cold out today, eh?" as I stood waist deep in the water. I was surprised I even heard him as I had my silicon ear-balls in, but I yelled back cheerfully, "OH YEAH!!"

I swam back and forth across the lake like I usually do, until I noticed a few kids had set up a fishing station in between my lake crossings. The waves would crash over me and I got a good few mouthfuls of water before I finally decided to breathe on just one side. This didn't last long, though -- I just had to try and see if I could roll more to the wavy side to learn how to swim in the waves.

Now, Cath -- if you are reading this, you would laugh if you saw what I call waves -- compared to your race that was changed to a duathlon due to the magnificent wave action...but like I said earlier, it was challenging enough for me!! :) :)

I decided to swim directly into the waves and to a further point across the lake. I could practice swimming in some wave action, and I would give the kids some breathing room to fish their hearts out. :) It was definitely different swimming into the waves. The waves crashed over my head no matter which way I turned my head to breathe, and I had to work harder to actually move ahead. Swimming back, was GREAT!

For my last "lap" I decided to swim across the lake, but to the right of the fishing kids. I sighted off this white rock and noticed immediately that the waves had REALLY picked up. It was like a bloody current. I had to hammer my arms into the water really hard to make progress and to keep in line. Coming back was even more challenging --- I really had to swim hard. It was so weird -- I have never had to swim that hard just to go straight across the lake. It was a good workout though!! :) :) :) :)

By this point, the waves started to grow again. Standing knee deep in the water, the size of the waves rolling by me was startling and I started to get a little scared -- I decided enough was enough and to call it a day. :) I looked at my watch -- 30 minutes. My inner Ironman freak was yelling, "Well, just drive to the pool and swim another 15 minutes to make it 45 minutes!" Fortunately, I slapped my freak into silence and had the good sense to go home and watch more Olympic coverage instead. :) :) :) :) :) :)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Cath blasts a new 10km PR!!

Many of you have heard about my friends from the UK -- Cath and Jason. They will be moving to Canada for good next spring and I can't wait!

Cath has set herself some very big goals for this year -- to pre-qualify for the World Championships in Australia next year. She's been dashing off around the UK racing and getting points -- and making HUGE strides in her tri times.

Forgive my excitement-- I can barely type -- but on Sunday, Cath raced at Worthing and had an awesome 10km split!!!

The weather was terrible -- so terrible that the swim was canceled and the race changed into a duathlon at the last minute. Now, according to Cath, her run is her weakest. She is a very strong swimmer, and to give you an idea of how much she dreaded the run -- as she was looking at the waves crashing into shore, she thought to herself, "I could still swim in that." Hahahahaha!!

She had to run 2.5km, then bike, and then run 10km. The wind was ferocious and relentless, but Cath ended the race by running a 47 minute 10km!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Congratulations Cath!! You are a ROCK STAR!! You dealt with the worst mother nature could dish out and still came in third for your age group!!!

May all your dreams come true, Cath!!


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Olympic Mania!!!!!

When I first received this issue of Time, my first instinct was to rush and put this on my blog! Alas -- I ran out of time, misplaced the magazine, etc.

But now...WOWSER!!! She won silver!! First swimmer (male or female) over 40 years old to win an Olympic medal!!!! Man, she is ripped! Congratulations, Dara Torres!!

I loved watching the videos of Michael Phelps swimming. Unfortunately, the streaming video on CBC does not actually stream, so I have been forced to watch the recaps -- I've only seen Phelps win the final heat, but haven't yet seen his first gold-medal performance. I went to bed, visualizing myself with the same superb form and gracefulness in the water.

AIIIEEEE!! I love watching the Olympics!!!!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

How Do You Spell Bliss?

After 8 long years I finally have a washer and a dryer...

(Don't even ask!)

:) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Gas Station With the Skinny Mirror

Oh yeah girls, you know what I'm talking about -- there are fat mirrors and then there are skinny mirrors. At the local weight club, the mirrored walls contain both kinds. I'll be working out and feeling great when I look into the skinny mirror. Then I'll walk around the corner to come face-to face with a fat mirror. Suddenly the elation dissipates...heh-heh!

The best skinny mirror in the world is at a gas station at the east end of Bellevue. Every time I need to stop and fill up my water bottles there, I get a thrill of excitement looking at a skinny-mirror me! Hahahahaah! Today was one such day. Reflections are jarringly stretched out -- my image reminded of the actors in the old VHS movies my parents have. The quality was so poor on those recorded tapes that all the people looked 9 feet tall with skinny heads. LOL!

Today was the first time I wore my heart rate monitor -- I figure I better get one ride in at least before IMC since I am going to use it. Hee-hee! After two cups of coffee, my heart rate was still at 66 -- I'm thinking this is a big improvement? Frig, if I didn't have that coffee, I might not have had a beating heart at all!! LOL!!

The taper monster and me have finally made friends -- dare I say I am actually starting to feel...rested?

:) :) :) :)