31 December 2013

Bonne année et bonne santé!

Wishing you a very happy new year and good health!

I'm not a big believer in resolutions, but there are some things I'd like to tackle in 2014...

Sign up for the French language class on base
Begin my yoga practice daily 
Be kinder to myself...especially moving through times of transition

I'm also going to get to see some exciting places in 2014...

We are (assuredly and tentatively) planning trips to...

and more awesome places in Canada

It's going to be a year of on the road and getting our adventure on.

I can't wait.

What about you?  Do you believe in resolutions?  What are you planning on doing in 2014?

Dancing into the new year...

25 December 2013

Wishing You...

Wishing you joy, love and peace...and crazy smiles...

Today and every day.

Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year.

23 December 2013

The Goodbyes...and Lots of Love

Last week was my final week at work.
And exciting.
And hopeful.

There were a lot of fantastic goodbyes and many of my friends went out of their way with cards, gifts and - most of all - these incredibly lovely notes of encouragement and support.  They know this decision was not an easy one for me and all of them were there to help me shut down my laptop and walk out the door for the final time.

It is also liberating.  I am leaving behind a very "known" quantity for something very "unknown."  I am not sure what the future will bring.  I will be obtaining my yoga teacher certification, but am not sure where I will teach.  I will be consulting, but I am not sure where and in what capacities.  Never before have I come to the end of the year with so much awesome possibility sitting in my lap.

Before I have the chance to ponder too hard...there are the holidays to celebrate.  This year, Dave and I are spending time with my family in Georgia before we head off to Oregon to decompress and reconnect.  We've been decorating trees and much baking will happen today.  I already made the vegan lasagna Dave and I will down on Tuesday night before we head off to celebrate a midnight mass with my parents.  Although neither Dave nor I are religious, we love going to celebrate with the family - especially this time of year.

Thanks to all of you out there who have supported us through these past 3.5 years.  You know the story and you have been there all the way.

For that - this holiday season - we are grateful.


16 December 2013

Christmas Goodies and a Party...

On Saturday night, Dave and I went to the Mess for the annual holiday dinner put on by the base.  I wore a dress and he wore a ridiculous Christmas sweater...as is tradition.  We had a great time sitting and talking with friends, drinking wine, participating in the ugly Christmas sweater competition and watching others cut it up (and fall out) on the dance floor.  There was a raffle and we walked away with a lovely new pots and pans set! 


Over the weekend, we also dedicated some time to making goodies for our friends.  I was inspired by Nigella Lawson's Christmas Puddini Bon Bons (yes, that is really what they are called).  Dave and I make a few vegan Christmas cakes in the spring - giving them plenty of time for seasoning with rum, allowing the cakes to soak up the mixture and get dense, chewy and dark.  In order to make the bon bons, we used two of the cakes, combining them with dark chocolate and maple syrup to make little round bites of awesome.  I then created a vegan icing with icing sugar, vanilla and water and then cut out little 'holly and berries' out of glacé cherries.

In short, I think they turned out all right and wouldn't pass them off as an Etsy or Pinterest fail!  I am proud of them and they were uber-delicious.  Dark, dense and rich.  The perfect after dinner bite with a glass of spicy and earthy red wine or a cup of espresso.

And, for some inspirational holiday reading...a post from one of Dave's favourite blogs, Raptitude on "What to get Everyone for Christmas."  Check it out!

12 December 2013

Holiday Magic...Compliments of Chicago

I loooooove this time of year in the city.

Twinkling lights, holiday music, mulled spiced wine at the Christmas Market....just sayin'.

I was in Chicago this week and had some time to myself to peruse the vendor stalls at the annual Christkindlmarket downtown.  When I arrived, it was -2 degrees Fahrenheit and snow was falling from the sky.  In other words, perfection.

I went into the Kathe Wohlfhart house and looked at smokers and wooden ornaments, glittering tinsel and beautiful woven tabletop linens.  I stood in line for the Candy Shoppe and smiled at memories from high school of German Gummy Bears, Milka Bars and chocolate covered gingerbread.  The smell of spiced almonds wafted through the air and people milled about, sipping hot cocoa and wine while eating potato pancakes, crepes and pretzels.

The market is one of the things Chicago does best.  They have performances, a tree and Santa...all ready for everyone to enjoy.

From there I walked over to Macy's and looked at the windows, checked out the amazing holiday goodies at Anthropolgie and then made my way up Michigan Avenue to look at the lights and check out the amazing holiday displays.  It was an awesome day...one I needed before I visit the city less often...

07 December 2013


A place.  
The space between the time you announce you are leaving a position and the day you actually walk out the door for the last time.

LimboLand is full of uncertainty, questioning, anticipation and doubt.  Did I make the right decision?  Is this going to make me happy?  Is this really where my path is supposed to lead next?

In short.  The answer to all three of those questions is an emphatic YES.  It's just sometimes harder to feel it when you are saying goodbyes, hearing others question your decision and are wondering if your next step is going to be as truly awesome as you believe it will be.

Don't get me wrong, a BIG part of me is ready to be home, rock out yoga teacher training and start this new chapter of my story.  However, another part of me is mourning the loss of this current position I'm in.  The loss of doing something I truly feel really great at doing and knowing that it won't be the same.  I'm also walking away from an organization that I've been a part of for over six years...that's a long time for someone like me!

I know things will be amazing...I truly believe that.  It's just some days are a little tougher than others to know it in the deep-down recesses of my soul.

But...I just keep on plugging away!


18 November 2013

Date Night, A Recipe and A Winter Wonderland

Treebert!  His first big snow!

I've been fortunate to have a week at home with no travel.  It's been bliss and getting time with Dave has been absolutely lovely, fantastic and just what my heart and soul needed.

We started the week off by having a date night in Regina.  We headed over to Beer Brothers for a couple brews, spent some time browsing books at Chapters and then getting our sushi on over at Enso.  It was a great night, dampened only when I believed I lost my driver's license, which Dave then located a couple of days later on the back floor of our car (read:  Heather date night fail).

Monday is Veteran's Day in the States and is Remembrance Day here in Canada.  Coming from a line of veterans - both grandfathers, my parents, my brother-in-law and my husband all serving - this day is one of reflection for me.  One where we remember those who have dedicated time to serving their country in uniform.  We attended the Remembrance Day ceremony here in Moose Jaw along with some of our close friends.  The Air Force, Army, Dragoons and RCMP were present to lay wreaths and remember those lost in service.  A large number of people turned out for the event and it was nice to see that this day means so much to so many.

The rest of the week passed in a blur of work and yoga.  Ah, yoga...getting back to spending some good time on the mat was good for my soul!  

On Friday, Dave and had a domestic date night.  I cooked dinner - a quinoa stuffed acorn squash and pumpkin bread pudding for dessert (recipe for the acorn squash dish below) - and we enjoyed some wine and conversation.  We ended the night watching the documentary Somm which I had been wanting to see. Come Friday night, the air had cooled and the sky looked promising for snow...and snow it did!  It was cozy with the snow falling outside and our holiday lights twinkling inside.

Through the night on Friday and all day Saturday - we were graced to be living in a snowglobe.  It snowed for most of the day Sunday as well and after we ran some errands, Dave and I opted for a walk in Wakamow to enjoy the cool air and snowy paths.  We crossed under bowed branched weighted by piled snowflakes, kicked a path through pristine snow and I even flopped and made a snow angel happen in a clearing by one of the trails.  Wakamow Valley is magical throughout the seasons, but no season more so than winter.  

So grab your mittens and a nice mug of tea...take a walk outside in the crisp air...and when you come back, make this for dinner...you'll be glad you did!

Ingredients for a yummy dinner!

Roasted Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash 
Four servings or two servings with another two for leftovers...


2 acorn squash
1 clove garlic
1 red onion
1 stalk celery
1 bunch kale 
10 large mushrooms (I used baby portabellas)
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1 box organic quinoa
1 box organic vegetable broth
2 tablespoons vegan butter
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400F.  

Prep your vegetables and squash.  Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds and pulp (be sure to compost!) and brush the cut sides with the olive oil.  Season with salt, pepper, rosemary and oregano...pinches of each seasoning.

Place the acorn squash olive oil side down on a baking sheet or in a baking dish and roast for 20-30 minutes or until a thin knife inserted into the skin pierces it easily.

In the meantime, prep your veggies.  Chop the onion, celery and mushrooms (I dice them so all the pieces are about the same size) and then chop your kale into ribbons.  Mince your garlic clove.

Place a little olive oil into a pan and heat on high.  Next, add the onions and saute on medium-high until they become slightly translucent.  When that happens, add your garlic and saute for about 30 seconds or until you smell the garlic opening up.  When that happens, add the celery and mushrooms and allow everything to saute together.

As that is happening, cook the quinoa based on the package directions.  I use the veg broth in place of water as it tends to give it a bit more flavour.  Once you quinoa is cooked and your veggies are looking good (about 15 minutes) you can add the pecans, cranberries and kale to the veggie mix.  Work them in until the kale is wilted and the cranberries have become glossy and tender.  Be sure to season with the salt, pepper, rosemary and oregano to your liking.

At this point, your acorn squash are probably good to go.  Remove them from the oven.

Add the quinoa to the veggie mixture and sir so everything is combined.  I put a little dollop of margarine in the center of each acorn squash half before spooning my veggie mixture into each half.  Serve up with a great glass of wine and...presto, let your night begin!

15 November 2013

50 Miles in One Day

It's been a busy running season for me this year.  In January, I took on the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World (a half marathon the first day followed by a full marathon the second).  In May, I did a mini version of the challenge in the Canadian Rockies at the Rocky Mountain Soap Company run in Canmore by taking on a trail half marathon the first day and then a 10K the second.  At the beginning of September, I tackled my first mountain marathon in Panorama and in October, finished my fifth Chicago Marathon.  Which brought me to November 2 and the ultimate goal of this year - the Chicago Lakefront 50/50.

The Lakefront 50/50 has two choices for the steady of foot - the 50 mile distance or the 50K distance.  Last year, I took on the 50K and had a great time doing it.  I finished in a great time and, while pretty sore after, made the decision that I would go for the 50 mile distance the following year.

The 50 miler was fantastic.  It started on a chilly November morning on the south side of Chicago with about 130 other runners looking to go the distance.  My friend Christin paced me for the first 12.5 mile loop and set the tone for the rest of the day.  It was chilly, but we managed to stay warm as we chatted and encouraged the other runners on the course.  I grabbed Gatorade at the aid stations and had been sure to pack some real food in my pack for the day as I knew it would be a long one.  At the turnaround, I stuffed a Clif Bar in my mouth, bid adieu to Christin and started the second 12.5 loop.  

Almost halfway through, I was met by my friend, Katie.  It was great to see her and she joined me for about a mile on the trail.  I ate some pretzels and pickles at the aid station and enjoyed catching up with her along the route.  It felt as though the temperature was dropping a bit, so I was happy to be warmed by some awesome company!

Katie and I on the course.
At the turnaround to start the third 12.5 mile loop, I ate a hummus and spinach wrap which tasted SO GOOD at that point.  I knew this would be a long one as I wasn't going to have any support and so I needed to watch my pace and ensure I wasn't getting ahead of myself.  I kept focusing on other runners going by, encouraging them and handing out a few high fives along the way as well.  That's the awesome thing about these ultra-distance runs...everybody is rooting for everyone else to finish!

At the fourth loop turnaround, I was met by the best smile from my friend, Matt.  He was ready to bring me home and it was great to see him!  He and I chatted about music, friendships and pop culture as we worked our way through the first half of the last loop.  At the turnaround, I noted to him that I was going to have to change up my pace and go a little faster as I was tiring of the slower pace.  He and I picked it up and ate a few of the yummy homemade fuel snacks he brought with him along with some gels.  I ended up kicking it up for the last mile and a half and finished with a smile on my face...freezing, but having had one of the best running days of my life!

My reward...an awesome belt buckle, lots of memories and a hunger to do it all over again!

01 November 2013

Flashback to August: Prague

I am catching up on blogging since stepping away for a little long while.  So, these updates are a long time in coming.

Prague is a dream.  I've been lucky enough to visit the city three times now and each time the staggering beauty of the place flattens my heart and makes my breath catch in my throat.  The architecture is stunning with pre-WWII buildings, spires and cobblestones weaving their way around the city revealing unique little surprises around every corner.  The Vltava river snakes through the center of the city allowing for bridges of never-ending beauty to span from shore to shore, connecting one amazing neighborhood to another.  The people, after many years, finally warming up to the tourists who flock to this corner of Europe to eat, drink and be merry and envelope themselves in the rich history of the place.

I arrived on a Friday afternoon and met up with my friend, Sarah.  We were both there to present at a Festival and were excited to be in Europe together for the adventure.  After a bus ride downtown from the airport and lugging our suitcases down one street to another, we finally checked in and came upon the most exquisite apartment I secured for our week-long stay in the city.  It was gorgeous with lofty ceilings, yummy beds, a gourmet kitchen and a massive amount of space for us to play and work in.  The apartment is located right in the heart of the Old Jewish Quarter and overlooks the Jewish Cemetery...a spot in Prague that is rich in the history and heartbreak that makes this part of Europe such a remarkable place to be.

We were both hungry and so after quickly un-packing, we headed over to a lovely little gallery/restaurant, Nostress, for dinner.  We had vino and ate some of the most delicious food we would have all week!

The next morning I got up and immediately went out for a run along the river.  The path from the apartment led me straight along the water and I enjoyed getting out into the fresh air to shake off the beer and get to the know more of the city on foot (it also helped that I had a training schedule to keep for my upcoming marathons!).  I returned "home" and Sarah and I headed out for our first day in town. Under a searing sun - it was incredibly warm until the last day of our stay - we walked and talked and walked, popping into shops and cafes and gathering groceries for the rest of the week.  We kept having to do math in our heads as the exchange rate made beer cheaper than water and vegetables a steal!  We couldn't believe the prices we were encountering.  After gathering our provisions, we headed back to the apartment to settle in and discuss our upcoming presentations.

That evening, we decided we should shake off our jet-lag by participating in what the locals do best!  We took a walk over the river to this huge park where there is most amazing outdoor beer garden.  We ordered a few pivos and sat out under the stars along with hundreds of our closest local friends.  Other people from our organization (folks from across the U.S.) showed up and we had a great time getting to know one another.  It's amazing how you sometimes need to cross an ocean to get more in touch with the people you work with!  We stayed until the pivo was downed and we made our way back to the apartment to sleep and dream of our adventures.

On Sunday the Festival kicked off and Sarah and I headed out to meet our colleagues and other festival participants.  The opening was to be short-lived, however, as temperatures during the day had soared near the 34 degree mark and allowed for storms to brew.  Just a mere 30 minutes after the Festival gates opened, a massive downpour began accompanied by fierce lighting and gale-force winds that ripped tents and signage from their posts.  We were hustled from the Festival tents into a stronger building that would shield the participants from the elements outside.  We waited for around two hours and then the decision was made to delay the official opening until the following day.  Sarah and I, soggy and disappointed, headed back to our abode to hunker down for the night and prepare for the next day.

The next morning shone bright and I headed out for another run.  Soon after returning home, we quickly realized through a flurry of messages that the opening was further delayed due to damage to the festival grounds and while Sarah and I were disappointed, we were also excited to get another free day to explore the city and what it had to offer.  I had done a fair amount of research on cafes in Prague and so we headed out on foot to explore and search out good coffee in the town.  As a side note, the first time I was in Prague was in the early 90s - no Starbucks.  Five years earlier in 2008 - one Starbucks.  In 2013, I was seeing them everywhere!  We wanted anything but the 'bucks and so we made a conscious effort to seek out those places that would provide us with alternatives.  We wandered and poked our heads into shops, stopped and ate when we felt like it.  At some point on one day, I can't remember which now...this is why I don't like waiting so long to post...we found the most amazing pub that featured koalas everywhere....Tlustá Koala (translated to "Fat Koala").  It is a British-style spot and we managed to go during a very off-hour time.  We pitched up and shared a pint while admiring the dedication to "saving the koalas" that seemed to be everywhere!

That evening, we headed over to the Festival grounds to see the delayed opening and enjoyed catching up with good friends.  We headed to bed early as the skies darkened for yet another fierce storm as we knew it was going to be a long week from that point out!

The next morning Sarah and I had to work early so we caught the tram and made our way to the Festival grounds for the first day of our workshop series.  It went really well and then we had the afternoon to decide what we wanted to make out of our day.  We knew we had the next day off so we had lunch at the Festival and wandered around to see what was happening.  We had also sent out an invite to our friends who were in Prague to invite them over for a pasta dinner at the apartment on the Thursday night of that week.  I was busy planning the menu in my head and Sarah and I continued to chat and swoon over the sights Prague had to offer us.

Most days consisted of the same patterns.  However, we did experience two gems of spaces that, the next time you are in Prague, you must check out.  One day, I encouraged Sarah to go for a long walk hike with me over to the other side of town to check out a most wonderful cafe - Muj Salek Kavy.  If you are in Prague, you must go.  The gazpacho I had was incredible and all of their coffee is fair trade.  This is a cafe that takes community and coffee just as seriously as the other and it shows.  The staff was friendly and helped Sarah make a most informed decision about her dessert choice...they did not steer her wrong!  Another space that has a special place in my heart is the Cafe Savoy on the river.  It is a neo-renaissance cafe/wine bar and is a perfect place for sitting outside for an entire afternoon on a lovely sunny summer day (right, Sarah?!?).  If you like gorgeous decor with amazing food to go along with it, this is your spot.

Some other spots to check out during your time in the city...(because you know you are going!)...

Astronomical Clock (a must-see)

A pivo at a spot along the river...pick one...there are many!

The Farmer's Markets - there is even one along the Vltava River
Kampa Island (a nice place to stretch out on the lawn)

Ride the trams!

The week passed in a blur once the Festival really got going.  It was a whirl of presenting and exploring, wandering and getting caught up in it all.  The last night of my stay, we got a huge group together to feast on dinner at a local restaurant, re-telling stories from the week and celebrating our new-found connections with one another.  Prague is an amazing place and I can't wait to go back!

31 October 2013

Happy Halloween!

Cheers and goblins and ghouls to you all!

And, many congratulations to our dear friends, J+A, on the newest addition to their family!  Welcome to the world, little pumpkin!


29 October 2013

A Big Reveal

I know I haven't been posting much...and there is a good reason.  

I was afraid I would burst.  I was afraid I would let out what has been brewing over the past year before it was ready to be known to others.  I was afraid that if I put the words here, then it would be real.  Really real.  Not fake real.  

I also needed to wait...out of respect for others, so I could cross some t's and dot some i's.  For some, it may not seem like a big thing, but in my world, that is pretty important.

And so...

I am leaving my job.  As of December 20 of this year, I will no longer be employed by the amazing nonprofit I have worked for during the past six years.  I am stepping away to spend more time on me and my family of two.  I am stepping away because I am tired of feeling imbalanced and guilty all the time.  I am stepping away so I can fully realize my life in Canada.

Over the past four years, having a foot in both the United States and Canada has been an adventure.  I have traveled to amazing places, and more importantly, have met people who have impacted my life in some incredible ways.  That being said, it has also been exhausting.  The constant travel, the time away from Dave and the lack of emphasis on my own happiness and health has been taxing on my system.  I am grateful for the opportunity, but I am also incredibly grateful to be in a place where I can take a step back...to breathe.

And, don't worry...I've got plans.  Big ones.  I will be traveling to Bali to obtain my yoga teacher training certification and I also would like to pursue my holistic nutrition counseling certificate as well.  Lucky for me, I have a partner who is whole-heartedly supportive and is eager to see me take on this next phase of my life (after I take a break and do nothing for a few months).

I am excited to spend time in one place and not be living out of a suitcase.  It will be wonderful to spend time at home and not be packing my bags after only one or two days.  I also know it will be a challenge.  I've held a job since I was thirteen - whether over the summers or during college - and not contributing to the household income will be a new adventure for me to experience.  That being said, I need this.

I need to focus on me and be true to myself and my emotions.  I need to recognize and fully appreciate that while the travel has been amazing, it has also been very difficult emotionally and physically.  

I am excited for this new part of my life to begin.  

And...to get back to blogging...

03 October 2013

These Dusty Trails

I haven't written in a while.  Mainly because I'm not sure what to say.  The constant travel and lack of sleep along with training for two marathons and an ultra have taken a bit of a toll this year on my physically, mentally and emotionally.  Mind you, I am not complaining...I have an amazing life.  It is just my reality at the moment that my spare time is very little and very precious these days.

I did an assessment of where I've been and where I still have to go this year...the list is impressive...

In no particular order...

Detroit, MI
Philadelphia, PA
Kansas City, MO
Dallas, TX
San Antonio, TX
Charlotte, NC
Black Mountain, NC
Chicago, IL
New Orleans, LA
Atlanta, GA
Bayville, NJ
Orlando, FL
Prague, Czech Republic
Madison, WI
Albany, NY
Hartford, CT
Copenhagen/Ebeltoft/Engesvang, Denmark
Kelowna, BC
Canmore, AB
Panorama, BC
Invermere, BC
Cleveland, OH
Lake County, OH
Richmond, VA
Las Vegas, NV
Boston, MA
St. Louis, MO

Some places on the list were visited twice, three or even four times this year!

It's been an adventure.  That being said, some things are going to change.  "Stuff" is brewing!

03 September 2013

A Month of Friendships

This past month has brought time with friends in far-flung places...from the Czech Republic to Denmark, from Moose Jaw to Canmore, Dave and I had time with good friends...friends that count as family in our world.

It's nice to know they are there.

In Prague, I had the chance to room with one of the people I am closest to.  She and I shared time walking and talking about our successes and fears.  We sat at cafes and delivered workshops together.  We explored and ate, cried and laughed.  Most importantly, we got to know one another even better than we did before.  Friendship reveals itself in the nooks and crannies of unexplored territories and while poring over maps when you try to find your way home (yes, both literally and figuratively).

In Denmark, we spent oodles of time with people we love across the pond.  Over dinners and by the ocean, we talked and caught up...it having been almost two years since we last saw one another.  We got to know each other better, sharing stories and histories in places Dave and I had never seen before and over meals that won't be repeated.  It was in Denmark I learned the power of friendship...the fact that those who truly love you will do whatever it takes to make your experience the best one possible.

In Canmore, our friends from Arizona greeted us with open arms during their vacation.  Again, after almost two years of not seeing them, it was time to reconnect and just love on each other a little bit.  We solved the world's problems over some brews while basking in the shadows of the mountains.  They were there to support me on my first mountain trail run with words of encouragement.  Once again, true friendship reveals itself in those who will give you a high-five and hug when you are sweaty and dusty from over six hours on the trail.

I am grateful for the people that have let us into their lives.

26 August 2013

Quick Pics...Love, Denmark

From Prague I headed to Copenhagen to meet up with Dave for a week-long adventure in Denmark.  

Denmark is magic and I have so much more to share, but I am in between flights as I am back on the road for work...so these quick pics (a la iPhone) will have to suffice.  

Let's just say I need more time to spend working on my relationship with Denmark..in the very best of ways.   Like, a good year in country...that should do it.

 That is all...for now!  I'll fill you in with more details soon!

07 August 2013

Pics from Praha

Friends.  I've been in Prague since last Friday for work.

I know.  My job is tough.

Last Thursday I hopped a flight from Regina to Calgary, Calgary to Frankfurt and then Frankfurt to Prague.  It sounds like a lot of flying, but in reality, I spent more time in the airports due to long layovers than on planes.  Luckily, because I travel so much, I have status on an airline and that gets me into lounges wherever I fly (that means free food and quiet spaces to catch up on work while I'm on the road). 

Like I said, I know...it's tough.

So, however many time zone changes later, I got to Prague late Friday afternoon and walked out to meet one of my closest friends, Sarah, at the arrivals terminal.  Sarah and I are delivering some trainings together in Prague and I am so happy to be here with her.  We've walked and walked and talked and walked some more.  We've sat at cafes and endured the unbearable heat and monster storms that have shrouded the city over the past week.  We've had amazing food and enjoyed learning more about this city (we've both been here before and are both committed to taking a much more relaxed approach to our visit).

We are staying in an amazing apartment in the Old Jewish Quarter which helps us save money on food.  VRBO, baby!  Make it happen when you travel!  

In short, it's been a great week.  I'll write more later.

Here are some of my favorite stops and events so far...

Running along the Vltava River
Pivo (beer) that is cheaper than water
Good friends coming over for a pasta dinner
Karluv Most (Charles Bridge) - so lovely!
Kampa Park 

01 August 2013

The Long Run

I've been training for my two marathons and ultramarathon.  It's been a lot of fun, but also tiring as fitting in running when on the road 80 percent of the time means dealing with jet lag and running on treadmills in hotels at odd hours of the day and night.

Travel is a lonely business for me.  While I am surrounded by people in airport lounges and on flights, for the most part, I am on my own.  I move from place to place, eating the same food and listening to the same safety announcements time and again.  Smiling at others as they move through the same travel-induced haze that takes over after 70 segments of flying on one airline online this year...and it's not even fall yet!

That being said, I find my solace in the run.  It calms me, grounds me and puts my body back into a familiar rhythm.  Pair that with some yoga and I'm singing a good song.

While running, especially alone, is perceived by some of my friends to be a lonely endeavor, I never truly feel alone.  Take a 19-miler I did a few weekends back as an example. 

I started out the run, Camelback strapped on, energy chews in place and trail runners securely on my feet.  The morning dawned bright and warm and I was ready to get out there and tackle the miles on trail and road.  From the start, something was off.  I felt tired, I had landed the night before from a work trip and hadn't yet stretched enough to bring the jet legs back to earth. By mile four, I could tell I was moving pretty slow and that this run was going to be a grind.

I got down to Wakamow Valley in Moose Jaw where I have to do several repeats of trails.  The ground was super muddy, aided by some heavy rain that occurred the night before.  Coming out of the Valley, I decided to switch to the road off the trail to avoid some of the slippery ground.  In order to hop back on the muddy path, I needed to jump a low chain.

Chalk it up to tired legs and me just not paying particular attention, but instead of sailing over the chain, my shins hit it, tangled and tossed me face-first onto the ground.  I immediately got up, embarrassed and looking around to see if anyone captured my fall-from-grace-face-plant.  Lucky for me, it didn't appear anyone had and I limped my way over to a bench, sobbing and watching huge red and purple welts take over my lower legs.

I immediately called Dave and asked for a pickup.  I then texted my friend, Jac, who I was planning on meeting up with at the halfway point for a few miles together to let her know I wasn't going to be making it.  Dave came around and I climbed into the car, still crying and feeling stressed about how I wasn't going to complete the 19 miles I set out to do that day.  He drove me home and a battle ensued between my desire to get back out there, my unhappy mental state and large knobs that were coming up on my shins as the redness increased.  

I never run alone...and what follows demonstrated that in more ways than one.  Dave turned my head around, drove me back to the spot of the fall and sent me back on my way.  Jac texted and supplied some much-needed support in letters across a screen.  As I neared the halfway point, she passed in her car and gave a honk and a wave to let me know I was looking okay.  Her husband, Blake, ended up passing me in their other vehicle after the halfway point and he stopped and chatted with me for a good five minutes...enough to let me know there were friends out there who cared.  Dave checked in on me through phone calls and texts and even drove out with 6 miles to go to offer love and support the only way he knows how to do.

The day was really long...even though it was a few weeks ago, I still have bruises on my shins as a reminder of that day.  However the good vibes and love I felt carried me home and reminded me that even when I feel alone, there will always be family out there to support and carry you through the toughest times.

I love running...it keeps me grounded and feeling connected...even across the miles.

22 July 2013


I've been away at a large conference for the past week.  It took a lot of energy and being "on."  For this introverted extrovert, it means I come back a wee bit exhausted and feeling like I need a massive vacation.

This popped into my inbox today courtesy of Kris Carr, and despite it not being a real vacation, these are exactly the words I needed to see today...

Clearing by Martha Postlewaite

Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worthy of rescue.

16 July 2013

The Long Run

I'm in full training mode these days.  I've got two marathons - one in the mountains and one in the city - and one 50-miler planned for the remainder of this year.  That means a lot of lonely stretches on the road, feet pounding the pavement, energy chews fueling my belly and legs and large expanses of sky - both sunny and rainy - to move under.

For the past two weekends, I've undertaken "brick" workouts of runs.  Two weekends ago, it was a 19-miler followed by an easy four with a friend the next day.  This past weekend, I did a 10.5 followed by another 19-miler.  I'm getting the miles in while I can.

Running is my meditation.  I tune into my surroundings, breathe and think about the randomness of life going on about me.  My brain peruses my marriage, work, racing, food, relationships with friends, the future and everything in between.  I sometimes feel lonely, but more often than not, I feel content while on the road and trail...me, myself and I.

Two weekends ago, the running was wonderful.  My 19-miler was motivated under thundering skies that drenched me with refreshing rain until the halfway point.  Dave had an errand to tend to and along the way, he stopped by to check in and give me some motivation to keep going.  I don't think I will ever say I run completely alone...I've got a pretty awesome support system of family and friends that keep my head in the right place and remind that I CAN do it, even when my legs are saying "quit."

The next day, I met up with a friend and we took some time running through a very muddy Wakamow Valley.  It was awesome chatting and having company and the best way to recover after 19 miles the day before.

This past weekend was a different story.  I decided to hit my 10.5 on Saturday.  It was a breeze and I felt awesome.  Strong legs, breathing was paced and my body felt like it could take on another 10 at the end.  Just the way I like it.  Sunday was a different story.  I laced up for another 19 on the trails and roads and my legs would not fire.  I felt as though quicksand had enveloped my body and mind.  I couldn't focus and had a hard time getting into a groove.  That groove finally came around mile 8.  I was running in Wakamow and decided to avoid a muddy section of trail.  In order to hop back onto the path, I needed to hop a chain.  

That did not turn out as expected.

I hit the chain with my shin and got caught up and tossed up on the grass beside it.  My shins immediately turned a nasty shade of red and swelled up.  In tears, I called my support system at home and he came to retrieve me from the trail.  Embarrassed, snotty and pretty upset with myself.  My brain took over and said - not your day.

Dave was having none of it.  After assessing that I was okay enough to walk, talk and breathe, he turned my head around.  With a pep talk, a drive back to the site of the chain incident (side eye - Wakamow Valley), he sent me back on my way.

5 hours after I started, I completed the run.  Sore, swollen, bruised and exhausted...I had done it.  Along the way, I got encouraging notes from a good friend and another friend who was driving by stopped and we had a nice chat that kept my spirits up.  Today, I was emailing my brother-in-law about the run...he is another piece of the arsenal that is my support system for the distance.

I never run alone.

I needed that run.  I needed to know that not every run is awesome and that I will feel defeat.  I needed to know that even when I feel as though I can't go on, I really can.  I also needed to know that I have support and love from those that know and care that I run.  From those that know how much running means to me.

In the end, it was the best run I've had to date...because it taught me so much.

04 July 2013

An Expat 4th of July

Living as an expat gives you a different view of holidays, festivals and other such events.  
Today being one of those days.

Canada celebrated it's independence with Canada Day on Monday.  People had the day off, there were fireworks and barbecues and generally Canada-i-ness going around.  While others enjoyed their day off, I was working from home (I still work for a U.S. nonprofit) and pondered what I would do with my day off when it came time for Thursday to roll around.

So, while others are working, I get to lounge - although my version of lounging consists of two yoga classes, a long run in the morning and making lists of things I need to do in the future!  It's been a lovely day off so far and to celebrate my home country's Americana goodness...

well, I'll have Jimi do the talking.

Happy 4th of July!

01 July 2013

Happy Canada Day!

Today is Canada Day.  As such, I wanted to leave you all with a couple of pieces for the country's celebrations today.

I am very proud to call Canada my home.

Lyrics O Canada (English version)

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Lyrics O Canada (French version)

O Canada! Terre de nos aïeux,
Ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux!

Car ton bras sait porter l'épée, 
Il sait porter la croix! 

Ton histoire est une épopée 
Des plus brillants exploits. 

Et ta valeur, de foi trempée, 
Protégera nos foyers et nos droits. 

Protégera nos foyers et nos droits.

30 June 2013

Canada Wine Country & Mountain Anniversary - Part Three

From pizza in Kelowna and back to the open road.  We were outta there in order to tackle the mountains we love so much.  The original plan was to backcountry camp for the remainder of the week outside Canmore at Ribbon Falls, but, alas...due to poor time and a lot of snow up at elevation, our dreams were dashed.  

We located another backcountry camping spot, but again, due to poor timing, we weren't able to secure a permit in time.  And so, we pitched our tent at a drive-in site between the Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes (shudder) and made the best of it.  There was almost no one there due to poor weather conditions in Canmore at the time (Canada's May long weekend).

Needless to say, we had a great time.  We cooked with our new outdoor stove - the Trangia - we hiked the entire way around the Upper Lake, talked and just reconnected.  

In essence, we did what we set out to do.

I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

I will say this, I love traveling with my husband.  He's an amazing human being and I'm so lucky I get to spend times like this with him.

In addition, we are thinking of those in Canmore, Calgary and the High River areas.  Mother Nature packed a one-two punch and reminded all of us just who is in control.  May the clean-up be speedy and may all get the help and assistance they need to make it through this challenging time.