After putting in a full day at the media centre I must admit that, when I stepped outside and saw the snow falling, the very last thing I wanted to do was stand in the cold all evening. There was only one thing that compelled me to abandon all thoughts of enjoying the warmth of my living-room while sitting beside a fire, glass of wine in hand.
IT WAS GREAT BIG SEA!
THE Great Big Sea. If ever there was a time for a big ole' kitchen party, Nova Scotia's mid-February-sloppy-snowy-slushy-slump season was that time. Sure, it was over two hours before these folks were scheduled to perform but ... IT WAS GREAT BIG SEA! This would be THE kitchen party!
All thoughts of warm houses, crackling fires and mellow Merlot were abandoned the minute I arrived at Celebration Square; the fellows were on stage and just finishing their sound-check and the crowd was already forming. Volunteers were unpacking boxes and boxes of LED goggles – and there were new colours! That was it. I was in. And given the reason behind what promised to be a most awesome concert was, of course, the 2011 Canada Games, I must mention that Team Nova Scotia deserves a Personal Best in the 'First Team To Pick Up Their Cool Goggles' event.
While I was busy chatting with folks and trying to shoot and tweet about all the pre-concert excitement without losing my fingers to frostbite, what began as a small gathering quickly became a throng as thousands of people of all ages vied for space in – and around – Celebration Square. And while this likely helped the temperature situation, it wasn't the weather folks were discussing. Nope, the main topic seemed to be about who was opening for Great Big Sea.
Jeremy Fisher already had quite a following as a very talented one-man show and has collaborated in the past with Great Big Sea. And when he took to the stage it was easy to see why; Mr. Fisher is, indeed, a great entertainer! He sang, he played, he joked. And he was pretty quick on his feet; when he announced to everyone that he was a little thrown by the warm air blowing directly at his face, he immediately realised that his audience did not have that, er, 'problem' and he quickly dropped the subject. Just to be clear, I do not begrudge any musician any such warm air. After all, I came to see them play – not blow on their fingers and drop their guitars, drumsticks or phones (oh wait, that last one was me, sorry).
As happy as the crowd was to see Mr. Fisher, they were ready for the main attraction. And, what a main attraction. As Great Big Sea band members Alan Doyle, Sean McCann, Bob Hallett, Murray Foster and Kris MacFarlane played, sang and danced – and asked the very willing crowd to sing and dance along with them – the snow continued to fall. And from where I stood, the timing could not have been more perfect. You could never manufacture a special effect to replicate what the audience experienced. The snow danced with the lights and we saw the band members' breath as they sang their songs of ice fields and Newfoundland lore. Although Alan Doyle indicated he'd be pleased to perform for the summer Canada Games, I wonder if he could duplicate that atmosphere?
After two encores and a declaration from Mr. Doyle that it was "still early!" the band left the stage and the crowd grudgingly dispersed. And six hours after questioning whether or not I had the steam to stay in Halifax for the concert, I too was sad to leave. Nonetheless, I was heading home to a warm house, a nice fire and glass of wine. After all, it was still early!
This has been a big year. A lot has changed this year. Beginning with my my age; I am no longer 21. Being 21 for the past several years was great but I realise now that, if one is not willing to move forward chronologically, one has next to no chance of, well, moving at all. Age may come before wisdom - and beauty - when debating who should go through the door first but in real life, I think it’s a package deal (the age/wisdom thing I mean; as soon as we figure that out, the beauty thing really is in the eye of the beholder).
And that is why I now need to age, even if just ever-so-slightly. Things really have not gone well for me as a 21-year-old anyway so what, exactly, am I holding onto? Other than having three fabulous children and a cat with his own Twitter account, there are certain areas in my life that could use a serious overhaul (and no, none are related to the fact that I let my cat use my computer).
In the vernacular of cosmetic surgery and all things vain (let’s face it - pardoning the pun - claiming to be 21 for a number of years gives the appearance - pardoning the pun - of having some level of concern over one’s looks), my personal life needs a tad more work than what I could get from an anti-ageing serum. Or a nice Merlot.
I read a book called “Always Change a Losing Game” by Dr. David Posen. In a nutshell, it seems that, if I am not thrilled with how things are going, I need to review what I am doing and, well, stop doing it. Or, do it differently. So what's so earth-shattering about that? We all know the definition of insanity (again, this has nothing to do with my inability to stand up to my cat): 'doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.'
No, the real secret is to identify why we do - or don't do - what we do - or don't do - and deal with that. The follow-through then becomes much easier. So to begin with, I am no longer going to be 21 years old because I no longer have any desire to stop time. There is not much about being 21 I care to relive so it's time to age. Gracefully.
And while I could not possibly reveal all the secrets a freshly-22-year-old has learned over time, I will try to remember to share the results of this outlandish experiment I call “growing up.”
You may have noticed things have been a little, er, stagnant in the internet area. This happens with many relationships at some point; exciting to begin with but, after awhile, a little tiresome. Boring. Even something to be avoided at all costs.
That's when the affairs usually begin and I was no different. I began my relationship with my Blackberry (we'll call him 'Mr. B.') in May. My issue was not so much boredom with my regular computer but annoyance and impatience. Could the thing be any slower? And non-communicative? Just when I began what I thought was a great conversation it would shut me out. 'Non-responsive program.’ Got that right.
I admit I was away a lot as well. There would be days when I just could not give my computer the attention it deserved and perhaps, it was shutting me out because it was hurt and frustrated. This was retribution. But I still needed to, well, have access to a computer. Type things. So one day I stopped in at my favourite electronics store (yes, girls can have a favourite electronics store; let’s get back on topic shall we?) and there he was. Shiny, new, full of promise. He sported the largest keys of all his mates. He was not called ‘Bold’ for nothing, let me tell you. And he promised to be there for me whenever I needed him. INSTANT GRATIFICATION. Oh yes, with my compulsion to … type things … it was obvious this fellow and I were meant for each other.
I love Mr. B. However it appears he's been holding out on me. For one thing, I think he is a tad jealous. It seems he does not give me all my messages and even if he does pass along important information he holds back a little bit. Sure, I get to see some of what he wants to show me but there's always that second page; that crucial element that would make my life just a bit easier that Mr. B. has decided I can do without.
I know the tabloids will have a field day with this but I cannot resist telling you that Mr. B. has a few other, um, limitations. For one thing, I cannot always read what he is thinking on that teeny-tiny screen he sports. And as helpful as he has been in my time of need, well, honestly? Editing press kits on such a small surface is not all that satisfying. There really is something to be said for size. And a keyboard; a place to put the remaining eight digits that have been of no use these past few months (well, all but one of them but that's only when I am really REALLY mad and each and every one of those folks deserved it).
I know I have to make a choice. And so, I am headed out next week to check out … other options. I’ll have a chat with my computer; explain that it’s me, not it. I’ll tell it I can help it find new friends; in fact, I know of an 11-year-old boy that would be JUST its speed. I will also let Mr. B. know that I like him, I respect him and I appreciate everything he has given me thus far. However, I am really hoping he understands that we can only be friends and that even though he cannot give me everything I really need, I hope I can still depend on him to be there for me when it counts.
Dear Manager of A-Well-Known-Greeting-Card Company
I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to share your personal thoughts with me today. I cannot even begin to tell you how it felt to know that you considered me as equally-deserving of your attention as the individual with whom you were speaking on the phone.
I have a few thoughts I’d like to share with you.
I don’t actually care that you think you can get away to pick up Sweetie by 4:00 PM. Nor do I care that dinner will be ready when you both get home because you put it in the slow-cooker this morning. However I am with you regarding not sharing Sweetie’s excitement that company will be arriving for dinner at 5:00 PM this Saturday. Unless of course, your reason is because you just want to buy a damned birthday card and get out of the store.
If you’re that tired, just tell Sweetie to take the bus today. You should go straight home, eat that pre-cooked meal of yours and get some rest. Don’t eat too much though; you could stand to lose a few pounds. A little bit of exercise wouldn’t kill you either. Or maybe it would; it looks like it’s been awhile.
I do have to admit though I am with Sweetie regarding the time. Really, 5:00 PM should give you plenty of time to get ready for your company. To be safe, why not just call in sick for the rest of the week? After all, I was able to completely fend for myself today so I am sure any other customers that come into the store can do the same.
Oh and thanks for being so kind as to use your free hand (what with the other hand holding the telephone to your ear) to direct my attention to that sign promoting your ‘Buy one, get one free’ offer. Unfortunately, while it appeared to be a fabulous deal, I had such a difficult time concentrating on the one card I actually had to buy given I was becoming quite concerned over the alarming chain of events as they unfolded during our conversation with Sweetie.
However, if you could use that hand one last time to point me in the direction of the section that carries cards bearing the sentiment ‘I am so sorry you lost your job today. I sure hope I had nothing to do with it,’ I would in turn lower the hand that is currently holding up one of my fingers.
A Little Tiny Division of I-Will-Make-My-Cards-Out-Of-Toilet-Paper-Before-I-Will-Ever-Shop-In-Your-Store-Again
We’re having a fight. My leg and I.
It started a few weeks ago. There we were, running along without a care in the world – or so I thought – when all of a sudden my leg refused to take another step. Just stopped right there, right then.
I was very patient to begin with and tried my best to treat my leg with understanding and compassion. I even asked if it thought we should consider therapy but it indicated that everything was fine. In fact, we went out that very day for a run and things were OK for a little while. But then it started to resist; to fall behind. It was almost as if it did not want to be seen with me. Was embarrassed to be in my presence. I think it might be seeing other legs.
I have decided to give my leg some distance. Play hard to get. When I stretch, I really just go through the motions with that leg while my other leg gets all my attention. And I have started seeing my arms and abs again.
I know this is just a short-term solution and that I do have to deal with the reality of my situation. I have booked an appointment with a therapist for this week but I am not telling my leg because obviously it will just refuse to come with me. Perhaps I will just tell it we’re going for a walk in the park …
I took a good look at the word ‘training’ today; this is a very busy word. A high-energy word. And a multi-tasking word because it can be a noun or a verb. According to the MacMillan Dictionary, the definition of ‘training’ goes something like this: 1. The process of training people or of being trained for a profession or activity. 2. Physical exercise that someone does regularly in order to practice for a sport or to stay healthy.
There is training for everything: fitness training; circuit training and weight training. There are also training camps and training centres where all this training can be put together and the combination of these training activities is magically transformed into one neat-and-tidy word: cross-training.
Other important 'training' words include potty-training and toilet-training - hopefully this training has been handled before now. There are also items that can ‘train:’ training shoes; training wheels and training bras - although I am still unsure as to how, exactly, it came to be that girls require training to wear a bra. Were there just too many incidents involving bras being worn backwards? Upside down? On the wrong appendage (s)?
I digress. It’s interesting when someone asks me “What are you training for?” when I am actually, just going for a run. It’s even more interesting when I say “I’m not training for anything; I am actually, just going for a run.” Their faces cloud over just a bit and an awkward silence ensues; I feel compelled to cheer them up. Make them feel better. “Well, I AM going to START training for the ‘Super-De-Duper-Speedy Marathon’ in a few weeks.” Faces light up and the conversation is saved.
Honestly? I try not to speak too loudly about ‘training.’ I don’t want my body listening in on any of these conversations and I certainly do NOT want my body doing any research on such matters (there will be no repeat of that whole ‘not-drinking-any-wine-three-months-prior-to-my-marathon’ debacle; I still have nightmares).
You see, when my body senses it is going to begin ‘training,’ well, it panics. Seizes up. It reminds me in not-too-subtle ways that I am no spring chicken. I'll be running along, minding my own business as I dodge dogs and cars, when my body decides to have one of its classic panic attacks and fires out oh, I don’t know, a shin splint. A calve cramp. A charley horse. Seriously? I do not GET charley horses.
I am not deviating from what I do every other day, and every other day my body is my best friend; cheerful, cooperative, willing to try new things and I think, perhaps, even grateful for what I do for it. But throw in the ‘T-Word’ and look out. Hostile, obstinate, rebellious. No gratitude whatsoever.
Two can play this game. After going toe-to-toe (so to speak) with my body, on the first official day of ‘training' (shhh) I went out and ran my best - one kilometre more than required for that day and right on pace.
I have forgiven my body its moodiness; I understand now that it was experiencing a knee-jerk (again, so to speak) reaction to a change in routine that, in all fairness, I had not bothered to discuss with it. I also understand it is only concerned for my well-being and that the leg-numbing temper tantrum thrown that fateful day was just its way of saying “Are you SURE you want to go through with this AGAIN?” When it realized I really did, it let up. It trusted me to know what I was doing. And while I think I can trust my body to be there for me when I need it, I will not take it for granted. I am now prepared for the occasional nudge, to be sure I am staying on track, and when I do get those nudges I will remember that my body just wants what’s best for me.
I’m training for the Bluenose Marathon - my fourth full marathon - this May. My first three marathons were successful, each in their own way. I ran my first one in just over four hours after sustaining an injury at the 9K-mark and, other than requiring a cane for the remainder of that summer, it was a great experience. My second marathon was a celebration of being able to run at all after spending a summer with a cane and my third marathon was more of an experiment than anything else; I wanted to see how I would enjoy running for four hours while no longer being able to whine about the serious injury I sustained during my first marathon.
I am taking a more focused approach towards this marathon which, if you know me, is no surprise and perhaps cause for concern. For me to use ‘more’ and ‘focused’ in the same sentence indicates I may have finally succumbed to my OCD with no hope of recovery. While I have always followed a training plan for running marathons that keeps me hovering at the four-hour mark, I want to give ‘less-than four-hours’ a shot this time. I realize this is technically referred to as a ‘sub-four’ but I live in Canada and will be training in 'sub-zero' temperatures and I am not liking the word-association thing so much right now.
I have a chart. Also no surprise. I have play-lists for every distance, based not only on kilometres but also on the pace required for each kilometre. I even added the appropriate terminology: ‘steady,’ ‘tempo’ and ‘race pace’ runs; ‘speed intervals’ and ‘fartleks.’ I have to say, it looks great on paper. Beautiful really. The list of dates, with the kilometres to run and pace times to follow looks very do-able. Especially that last Saturday run before the marathon. 3K? Perhaps getting to the point where that is all I am required to run should be my focus, rather than that pesky 42.2K listed for the next day.
It gets a little more complicated though as I fine-tune the chart. And marginally amusing. Hills. Really? I live in Nova Scotia; everything is a hill. There is no escaping this by the way. I have tried. All I end up doing is stumbling onto longer and steeper hills with no alternate route. I strongly advise runners living in Nova Scotia to never, ever run with a cell phone because it is just too tempting to call someone to come and get you when you do find yourself in this predicament.
Then there are the speed intervals. Intervals? This implies there is more than one speed involved. What do you mean I have to go faster? On the hill? In the winter? Do you know what you get when you cross a speed interval with a hill? That’s right my friends, a spill.
And the fartleks. Now I’m speaking my 10-year-old’s language. He LOVES this word. I think this word will bring us closer. I can hear our Friday-morning conversations now …
Him: “Mom, do you run today?”
Me: “Yes dear.”
Him: “Is this the day you run those … what are they called again Mom?”
Me: “They’re called fartleks, dear.”
Norman Rockwell, eat your heart out.
Now, about that run/walk thing. I admit I did not write that one down on my little chart. For me, it always has been and always will be a run/run thing because if I tried to make it a run/walk thing it would end up being a run/walk/walk-to-Tim-Horton’s thing. What can I say? Once the motor’s running I have to keep going or else I’ll just sputter and stall on the hill like a standard driven by a teenager for the first time.
The start-date for this training regime begins Sunday January 17. I am easily on-pace given the first run is 10K and my runs currently range anywhere from 12K to 16K every other day. My core is good and my flexibility is, well, flexible. My pace varies depending upon road conditions - and how good the Merlot was the night before - but is reasonable given my goal.
I have one thing left to do before January 17 and that is to figure out my wardrobe. It is winter after all so I do not think skates are unreasonable. I would cut quite a swath on those hills, that’s for sure. However, I’ll have to adjust my play-lists to allow for ‘breakneck pace’ - or would that be ‘break-a-neck pace’?