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Overnight Hike to Ribbon Lake

Good morning everybody – and HAPPY FRIDAY!  Does anybody else feel like this has been a super long week?  Maybe it’s because I lost my entire weekend to epic adventure in the Kananaskis Backcountry…I don’t know.  Not that I am complaining.  It was freaking awesome.

Speaking of which, this post is going to be all about our weekend camping in the Alberta Rockies.  Two full days of hiking, one night of backcountry camping, countless delicious snacks, and a total of just under 25km covered.  Here we go…

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Day One – Buller Pass to Ribbon Lake

We were set to leave at 8am, so it was a relatively early morning since we had to get our packs ready to go.  Oh – I should probably introduce who “we” is.  There was four of us on this hike – Myself, Sean, Sean’s Dad, Gord (the epic Mountain Man who loves to plan these kinds of things) and Carie – who can only be described as a family friend who is more like a second mother.  She’s always game for cool outdoorsy stuff like this.  This was a last minute hike (we decided to go only a few days before) to celebrate Carie’s very belated Birthday.  Gord got the camping permits, gear, food and logistics organized – as he usually does, because he’s freaking fantastic – and we were packed up and set to go bright and early on Sunday morning.

My Pack, Boots and Poles all ready to go

My Pack, Boots and Poles all ready to go

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Adventure Mobile

We left the city and headed for Kananaskis Country in two vehicles so that we could park one at our starting point – the Buller Pass Trailhead – and one at our finish point, the Ribbon Creek Trailhead.  Once all was said and done, we hit the trail at around 10:30am, and began our 10.5 km, 5 hour ascent to Ribbon Lake.

The first part of the Buller Pass hike is a steady uphill trail through the trees, but unfortunately many of the trees in the area were wiped out by a forest fire.  But instead of taking away from the experience, it added a sort of eerie beauty to it all.

Hiking through the Burned Trees

Hiking through the Burned Trees

A little Waterfall on the Buller Pass Trail

A little Waterfall on the Buller Pass Trail

After about 3 hours of hiking, sweating and cursing (this is all a part of the experience for me) we arrived at a large valley with a massive wall of a hill at the top of it.  I was then informed that we were going to hike over that wall.

"The Wall" at Buller Pass

“The Wall” at Buller Pass

“The Wall” actually wasn’t as bad as it seemed, although it was partly loose rock and scree, so I was grateful to have my poles and my full hiking boots instead of just my trail shoes.  It took us just under 30 minutes to reach the top of “The Wall” – which provided the most stunning, rewarding views.  We stopped here to have a long rest and a snack before we began our final stretch of the hike down to Ribbon Lake.

At the top of Buller Pass, with Ribbon Lake in the Distance

At the top of Buller Pass, with Ribbon Lake in the Distance

We hiked for another hour and a half-ish before arriving at our Backcountry Campsite at Ribbon Lake.  The site is actually quite large, with 20 tent sites, 4 picnic tables, several bear-proof food lockers, 2 firepits with ample firewood, 2 outhouses, and of course the stunning Ribbon Lake itself, which was bigger than I imagined it would be.

Campsite Amenities

Campsite Amenities

I will never be able to stop laughing at Outhouses that look like this.

I will never be able to stop laughing at Outhouses that look like this.

By the time we got the tent set up, our beds made, and all of our food stored, it was after 4pm.  We spent the remainder of the afternoon fishing, building a fire, and cooling our reward beers in the ice-cold creek until Gord cooked us the most delicious dinner I’ve ever had in the Backcountry – Fettuccine Alfredo with Herbed Chicken and Veggies.  I swear, one of these days I have to convince Gord to start a blog of his own.  He’s a backcountry genius.  (Spoiler alert: He has no interest in starting a blog, ever.  Haha.)  We hung around and chatted by the campfire for a while, enjoyed a hot chocolate with Baileys and homemade Banana Bread, and headed to bed around 10pm exhausted but sooo satisfied.

*Not-so-fun Fact: Sean caught a few fish, and one was big enough to keep – so we cooked it over the fire in butter minutes after it came out of the lake.  It was delicious.  But just as he was about to dig in to the best part of it, he dropped it and the fish fell into the dirt.  I felt so bad for him, I almost cried.*

Sean Fishing in Ribbon Lake

Sean Fishing in Ribbon Lake

This is how Canadians keep their Beer Cold ;)

This is how Canadians keep their Beer Cold ;)

EPIC MEAL TIME

EPIC MEAL TIME

Sean and I slept in the tiniest tent we've ever slept in and it was hilarious.  We don't even sleep in the same room at home so this was an accomplishment.

Sean and I slept in the tiniest tent we’ve ever slept in and it was hilarious. We don’t even sleep in the same room at home so this was an accomplishment.

Day Two – Ribbon Lake to Ribbon Creek

I actually slept surprisingly well, considering that I usually get nighttime anxiety, especially in the wilderness.  It was a quiet night and nothing exciting happened, which is just the way I like it.

We woke up with the sun and went out to the group area to start a fire.  At first, it was gorgeous and sunny, but pretty soon some massive dark clouds rolled in and it started to thunder and rain.  Chef Gord struck again at breakfast with Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Wraps, and we ate pretty quickly so we could get our stuff packed up and hit the trails to try and beat the storm.  We didn’t.

Sunrise over Ribbon Lake

Sunrise over Ribbon Lake

Hiking out from Ribbon Lake

Hiking out from Ribbon Lake

Carie and Gord take a selfie!

Carie and Gord take a selfie!

I think the majority of people hike IN to Ribbon Lake the way we decided to hike OUT.  It was a long day (13-ish km, almost 6 hours of hiking) and included every type of terrain imaginable, from scree to scramble to trail to sand to scaling down a cliff face with chains.  In the pouring rain.

We stopped at a BEAUTIFUL waterfall for about 15 minutes so that Sean could do a bit of fly fishing.  It was honestly so stunning, I wish we could have stayed another night, right there.

I’m just really grateful that I was hiking with such a supportive team.  I was ready to have a complete mental breakdown when we were climbing down the chains.  I’m not the best with heights to begin with, but trying to hold on to a wet, slippery chain and find foot holds on wet, slippery rocks made it that much more challenging.  But with the kind, supportive words from my team of kickass humans and a lot of guidance and encouragement when I was coming down the face, I was able to complete it without a temper tantrum.  My legs were shaking for about an hour afterwards, though.

*I’m pretty sure this would be a LOT easier going up.  And also in fair weather.  I don’t want to deter anyone from doing this hike, we just had terrible timing.*

The first stunning Waterfall we came across on our Descent

The first stunning Waterfall we came across on our Descent

Sean fished in the waterfall pool for about 15 minutes and caught-and-released several small fish.

Sean fished in the waterfall pool for about 15 minutes and caught-and-released several small fish.

Sean told me to smile, so I smiled.  But I was definitely freaking out.

Sean told me to smile, so I smiled. But I was definitely freaking out.

This was almost a meltdown.

This was almost a meltdown.

After we got past the chains, the rest of the hike down was relatively easy.  Slight decline, nice trails (for the most part) and lots of trees to protect us from the rain.  We passed the legendary Ribbon Falls, which did not disappoint.  The end of the hike felt so long, mostly because we were just sore, tired and hungry, but once we got back to our car, we drove to Canmore and gorged on a well-earned meal at Wendy’s.  #AllOfTheSalt

Ribbon Falls

Ribbon Falls

By the time we got back into the city, it was after 8pm, so we threw our laundry in the wash, aired out and put away all of our gear, took a long, hot, well-deserved shower, and passed the F out.  It was an absolutely incredible weekend, and I would recommend this hike to anyone.  It has now become one of my favourites.  It’s challenging, but not impossible, and it is so, SO rewarding.

 

Have you ever been to Ribbon Lake?

What is your favourite Backcountry Hike?

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Anger and Gratitude.

Today’s post will be short, but oh so sweet.  Well first it’s going to be bitter.  But then it will be sweet.   Oh and also – it’s personal.  So if that’s not your thing, now would be a good time to move along.

For the last two months, I have been losing sleep, stressing out, feeling sick, and making myself crazy over the thoughts of what will happen should I need surgery on my wrist and have to take 8 unpaid weeks off of work while I recover – and then can ‘hopefully’ return to my career that I love so much as a Hairstylist.

*Please note that unpaid time off is the standard in my industry. My employer has been nothing but supportive throughout this endeavour, so please don’t think that they haven’t been – as a tradesperson, we just simply don’t have sick or disability pay.*

The pain in my wrist has been plaguing me for about 3 years now – ever since I became a Hairstylist.  (However – there is apparently no way to prove that this is “work-related” according to WCB.  Lovely, right?)  I know it is related to my job.  I know that it gets worse when I overwork myself, and it gets better when I have a stretch of time off.  I know that it would probably subside if I changed careers.  But I don’t want to do that, because I love my job, my coworkers, my clients, and the life that I have created for myself around and within my career.

Ashley Scissorhands

Ashley Scissorhands

For three years, I have been told that the lump on my wrist is a Ganglion.  This was only ever visually assessed by a doctor.  As a result, I have had friends, family members, coworkers and colleagues tell me to “just smash it with a book” as they used to do in the old days.  Barbaric, right?

But people would say things like “Why are you going through all of these tests when you could just fix it yourself!?” And “I’m sure you could find a video on YouTube and save yourself a ton of time.”  And “Oh I’ve had one before, and it wasn’t even that bad.  Just hit it really hard and it will go away like mine did.”  

Well it turns out that “smashing” it would have been damaging (duh) and wrong.  Because, after numerous tests and imaging, it has been determined that I don’t even have a Ganglion after all.  I have chronic damage to a major tendon in my hand that is causing pain in the wrist.  If I had “smashed” my wrist, I would have caused permanent damage to my wrist that likely would have ended my career.  I hope that just one person who gave me that “advice” is reading this.  Because it makes me SO damn angry when people offer unsolicited medical advice in the first place, and it makes me even angrier that people would recommend I do such a thing when my hands are literally my life.  My income, my career, my livelihood – depends on my hands.  How inconsiderate to belittle someone and insist that their problem “isn’t that bad” when their entire wellbeing depends on it.  Huff.  End rant.

Anyway, this is good news.  Very good news.  I mean, it sucks, and it doesn’t give me any answers yet, but the reason I am taking it as good news is because it means I don’t require immediate surgery like I would have if it had been the massive cyst we thought it was.  My doctor wants to send me for an MRI (which will take months) to determine exactly what can be done (if anything) and then we will go from there.  But my biggest fear was taking 8 unpaid weeks off of work (while we’re trying to save money for our new house that we will be moving into this winter), losing or upsetting my clients, causing more damage than good during the surgery, and/or having to consider a career change sooner than later.

At least now, I’ve got time – time to think, time to breathe, time to consider my options.  Sure, I’m still in pain, but I can handle pain…especially now that my doctor has confirmed that I’m not going to do any further damage as long as I stop when my body tells me to.

So, the moral of this massively disorganized, bitchy, whiny post is this;

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‘I will not let what I can’t control destroy what I can enjoy.’

These words have been with me since I was very, very young, but over the past few months, I forgot them.

I worried.  I stressed.  I cried.  I googled every type of cancer that I probably had.  I made myself sick over the “what-ifs”.  I spent days – days – researching alternative career options.  I thought about going back to school.  I cried some more.  And I lost countless hours of my life to stressing out over something that was – and still is – and will always be 100% out of my control.

Sometimes we all need a reminder.  If nothing else, I hope this reminds you.

I will not let what I can’t control destroy what I can enjoy.

Have you ever made a major sacrifice in your life for the sake of your health?

What do you think I would I be if I could no longer be a Hairstylist?

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How We Raised $4,561.00 for our Volunteer trip to Bali with IVHQ

In March of 2014, Sean and I traveled to Bali, Indonesia, to participate in the Teaching English Programme offered by International Volunteer Headquarters, or IVHQ.  (Read more about that amazing experience here.)

We began planning our trip 10 months in advance.  Not only did this allow us significant time to get organized and plan our time off of work, but it also allowed us ample time for fundraising.  It took a lot of time and effort, but we were absolutely ecstatic (and totally surprised) to raise a total of $4,561.00 CAD prior to our departure on February 28, 2014.

Here’s how we did it:

Cash Donations from Friends & Family – $2,685.00

We were incredibly humbled by, and overwhelmingly grateful for the generosity of our amazing friends and family members.  By utilizing the crowdfunding site gofundme.com, reaching out via e-mail, Facebook, and in person, and by suggesting donations instead of birthday and christmas gifts, we were able to raise a staggering $2,685.00 from 23 different donors.  To this day, we still have trouble finding the words to properly express our gratitude and love for all of the incredible people who helped us experience something so incredible.

Bottle Drive(s) – $346.00

We collected and returned empty bottles and cans from our friends, families, coworkers, workplaces and local businesses for several months leading up to our departure and were able to generate $346.00.  This one was smelly and sticky but fairly easy to do.

Collecting Bottles in the Rain!

Collecting Bottles in the Rain!

Fundraiser Concert & Silent Auction – $914.00

I am a hobby singer/songwriter and musician, and with the help of some other talented and generous musicians in my circle, a local bar and the generosity of several donations of auction items, we were able to facilitate a small fundraiser that included live music and a silent auction.  It was a really fun way to spend time with our friends and family and raise $914.00.

Performing at our Concert & Silent Auction Fundraiser

Performing at our Concert & Silent Auction Fundraiser

Yard Work – $250.00

One of our generous donors offered to make a donation in exchange for help with some yard work around her house.  We spent a few afternoons helping her out and were able to raise $250.00.

Stella & Dot Fundraiser – $155.00

I reached out to a mutual friend who is a sales rep for Stella & Dot Jewelry, and she generously offered to host TWO jewelry parties at our house and donate a percentage of the profits.  This could also possibly be done if you have a friend who sells something like Epicure, Pampered Chef, Tupperware or Avon.  Through this, we raised $155.00.

GRAND TOTAL: $4,561.00

4 Tips for Successful Fundraising

1. Have a copy of your Verification Letter and a detailed, personally-written information page ready at all times.

When sending out email enquiries to local businesses – or when reaching out to friends and family for donations – it is a good idea to include a copy of your verification letter, just for added proof of your participation in the program.  We also had a generalized letter that we sent out to all of those who we asked for support (read it here).  We even went one step further, and had an entire BLOG dedicated to our fundraising, preparation, and experience.  (This was before Adventure To Anywhere existed.)  It took a fair amount of effort to put this all together, but it was extremely effective – and a huge time saver in the future – when asking for support and donations.  You can check out the blog we created here.

2.  Be Passionate.

Keep in mind that you are asking people to give you their hard-earned money so that YOU can go and travel to somewhere amazing.  Yes, you are doing something incredible, and yes, you will be working hard to better this planet, but in order to convince these people to support you, your passion will have to be evident and entirely infectious.  Believe in your cause and others will believe in it, too!

3. Do Your Research and Know Your Programme.

People WILL ask you questions before offering their support.  What exactly will you be doing during your volunteer placement?  Where will you be staying?  How do you plan to make a difference?  Why do you want to do this?  What are your goals?  Be prepared to answer all of these questions and more before you start reaching out.

4. Thank your donors!

Upon our return from Bali, we sent out hand-written thank you cards, along with 3-4 photos of our volunteer experience, to all of our generous friends and family members who had donated to us.  It took a few hours and cost us about $100 for the cards, the photos, and all of the postage, but it was absolutely worth it and was very much appreciated by everyone who made those donations to us.

Other Ideas

Below are a few other unique fundraising ideas that we considered, but didn’t end up having time for.

Yoga / Pilates / Spin Fundraiser

Do you have a friend who is a fitness instructor of some sort?  Ask them if they’d be willing to volunteer their time to teach a donation-based fundraiser class.  Invite all of your friends on an entrance-by-donation basis, and enjoy something fun, exciting and challenging together!

Calendar Fundraiser

Launch a pre-purchase calendar fundraiser, where your friends and family make a donation (either a set amount or whatever they want).  Keep track of your donations, and, upon your return, turn your travel photos into a beautiful calendar for the following year and distribute them to your donors.  This can be done inexpensively through online programs, iMac programs, or at your local print shop

Garage Sale

Host a garage sale – either with set prices or a “By Donation” sale (have a small sign explaining your upcoming volunteer placement and a copy of your verification letter ready).  Advertise in your local paper and enjoy the added bonus of freeing up space from clutter in your home!

What are some of the most effective ways you have raised money for a cause?

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5 Things I’m Loving – July 2015

Good morning everybody – Happy Friday!  You made it!  I hope you all have epic adventures planned for the weekend ahead.

It’s time again to share 5 Things I’m Loving this month.

1.  Jen’s Post on Healthy Eating

Photo Courtesy of prettylittlegrub.com

Photo Courtesy of prettylittlegrub.com

Jen from Pretty Little Grub has a knack for writing about things close to my heart.  But this week’s post on Healthy Eating being a Lifelong Journey really hit home.  I have struggled with binge eating disorder for most of my life, and I have been on this “Journey” for the past 6 years.  It has its ups and its downs but it is so nice to know that other people feel this way.  You can read her post here.

2. Kit and Ace Technical Cashmere

I rarely spend $80 on anything (unless it’s travel or running related)…but a few weeks ago, I spent $80 on a simple grey t-shirt.  “But Ashley!” you might ask, “Why would you do something like this!?”  Because Cashmere, that’s why.

This simple grey t-shirt from Kit and Ace is the softest, most flattering, shapely, sexiest, simplest thing I have ever put on my body.  I regret nothing.  And I might just buy more of them.

If you haven’t checked out Kit and Ace yet, you probably should. No, you definitely should.  Their Calgary store is on 17th Ave, but you can always order online as well.  They have a variety of very simple pieces for both men and women, mostly in soft neutral shades of grey, black, white, and navy blue.  Swoon.

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3. VHS by X Ambassadors

The new X Ambassadors album, VHS, has been rocking my world.  You’ll probably recognize this band by their current hit, “Renegades”, but there are some other awesome tracks on this album.  My favourites are “Unsteady” and “Jungle”.

VHS

4. My New #WeRunSocial Gear

First of all, if you haven’t checked out Brian from Pavement Runner’s  blog, stop what you’re doing right now and go check it out.  Once you’re done that, check out this awesome photo of my adorable new Love On The Run tank from the #WeRunSocial shop!  Quantities are limited, but check out the shop here.

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5. Snapea Crisps

A dear friend of mine introduced me to these addictive little treats a few months ago, and I haven’t been able to stop.  They’re light, so crispy, and have this weird but wonderful flavour that I just can’t get enough of.  You can buy them at any health food store, and I’ve also found them at Save-On Foods.

Photo Courtesy of Amazon

Photo Courtesy of Amazon

What have you been loving this month?

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One Night in Revelstoke

Last weekend, Sean and I did a mini BC Road Trip.  We were gone for 5 nights in total, spending the first night in Revelstoke, the second night at a hotel for a wedding in West Kelowna, the third night at a friend’s cabin in West Kelowna, and the last two nights camping at Mabel Lake Provincial Park.

I wasn’t planning on writing about Revelstoke.  To me, it has always just been this simple little mountain town that we pass through and sometimes stop for gas.  But Revelstoke surprised me – in many ways – and I wanted to share the hidden gems that we found during our stay.

 

 

Where We Stayed:

I had booked one of the cheapest motel rooms I could find on Expedia a few days before, since we were going to be leaving Calgary after I finished work on Thursday at 6pm and just wanted somewhere to sleep to help break the drive up.  I booked in at the Revelstoke Lodge after reading decent-ish reviews (for a cheap motel) but I was still skeptical.

We arrived just before 10pm (which is the latest you can check in) and were greeted warmly by an older asian couple, who I assume own the lodge.  Our room had everything we needed – a full bathroom, mini fridge, coffee maker, TV, desk, air conditioning and a comfy queen-size bed, plus – it was clean.  That was my biggest concern.  If you followed our adventures when we backpacked through Asia, you’ll know that we stayed in some pretty questionable places, but cleanliness is something that I’m not willing to compromise on.

Revelstoke Lodge, BC

Revelstoke Lodge, BC

We stayed on the ground floor and we felt very safe…you never know when it comes to these kinds of places…but the place seemed to be mostly full of motorcyclists on a long tour and weary travellers like us just looking for a place to crash.  All in all, we would return for the price.  It’s definitely nothing fancy, but for a sleepover, it’ll do.

 

 

What We Ate:

We only had one meal in Revelstoke, but it was one of the most memorable meals of our entire trip.  Right across the road from our motel was a little bakery cafe called La Baguette.  After reading some decent reviews on my favourite and most trusted review site, Zomato, we decided to give it a try.  For $20, Sean had a Bagel BLT and a coffee, and I had a bacon and egg Breakfast Sandwich with a delicious green smoothie.  The lineup was long but well worth it.  All of their bread is baked in store and it is TO DIE FOR.  Mine was warm and tasted exactly like it had just come out of the oven.  If I lived in Revelstoke, I would eat here several times per week.  I’ll also make a point of stopping in every time we pass through instead of sitting in the Tim Horton’s Drive Through.

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Breakfast at La Baguette

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Breakfast at La Baguette

 

 

What We Did:

We arrived at 10pm and left by 9am, so it’s not like we had much time (and it’s not like there’s a ton to do anyway – haha!) but we DID go for a run in the morning.  We had no idea where we were going, but we soon learned that we had to get creative even to create a 5k run in this tiny town.  We mostly weaved on the main streets and did a few circles, but it was nice nonetheless.  People were very friendly and there were gorgeous Rocky Mountains all around us to look at!

The only photo I snapped during our run in Revelstoke

The only photo I snapped during our run in Revelstoke

Have you ever been to Revelstoke?  Did you like it?

Have you ever stayed in a sketchy motel and had a bad experience?

How do you prepare to run in unfamiliar territory?

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2015 Color Me Rad 5k Recap

If you guys know me personally, you might know that punctuality is something that I sometimes struggle with, and I’m just going to go ahead and say that’s why I’m writing this race recap 3 weeks late.  Oops.

So here’s the thing about Color Me Rad 2015 – compared to last year (recap here), I was actually a little bit let down.  The parking situation was disastrous (we paid an extra $12 for VIP parking and it ended up taking us over an hour to be rerouted through construction-twice-and we were late for our wave), the course was not great (near the end, they weaved us back and forth through a gravel parking lot) and apparently the event ran out of color midday.  So that’s unfortunate.

But even though the race itself wasn’t as awesome as it was last year, I still had an amazing time, because I got to run it twice with two different groups of awesome people!

Round One: 10:00am (but actually more like 10:15am)

Originally, I had signed up to run Color Me Rad with Sean, Gord, and Carie, and I didn’t want to back out on them, so we decided I would run the first round with them, and then meet up with the Bloggers for round two.

All four of us ran pretty much the entire course, which was actually only 4.25 KM according to my Garmin instead of the advertised 5km.  Not that I minded…at all.  It was hard because it was hot, and it was later in the day than I usually run, and the fact that we ate Nutella pocket pastries for breakfast from Tim Horton’s on the way to the race probably didn’t help much either.  But we ran the whole thing, had fun with it, and nobody hit me for swearing and complaining about the heat the entire way.  :)

Before...

Before…

Sean and I - Ready to Run!

Sean and I – Ready to Run!

Me and Gord...your friendly neighbourhood...whatever he is.  The kids absolutely love his hat.

Me and Gord…your friendly neighbourhood…whatever he is. The kids absolutely love his hat.

After Round One!

After Round One!

After Round One, it was time for a mad panic of rehydration and frantic texting with the Bloggers because I thought I was going to be late to meet them.  It all worked out though, because poor Kaella was stuck in the same VIP parking disaster that we had been and ended up being super late, but nobody minded the wait…especially not me! ;)

Once we all got together, it was time to start our run!

Round Two: 11:00am (but actually more like 11:45am)

I had warned the group about the unfortunate state of the course, but because it was almost noon, we mostly ended up walking anyway…chatting and taking copious amounts of photos along the way!  It was really nice to have the chance to actually get to know these girls a bit better…before this, the only time I’d actually met them in person was at the Calgary Marathon in May.  It’s amazing how easily you click with people who you feel like you already know because of Social Media.

*Shout out to Kaella of kaellaontherun.com and Jen of prettylittlegrub.com for taking the majority of these photos.  Oh, and Kaella’s Dad!*

Before the Race - Still Clean!

Before the Race – Still Clean!

Kaella’s Friend, Kaella, Brie, Sam, Jen, Ange, Victoria and I

Photo courtesy of Kaella (obviously)

Photo courtesy of Kaella (obviously)

Sam and I running through the PINK station

Sam and I running through the PINK station

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The Kickass Ladies of the Alberta Blogger Scene

The Kickass Ladies of the Alberta Healthy Living Blogger Scene

After the race, we hung around for a little while, but we were all pretty exhausted and dehydrated so we decided to call it a day.

All in all, it was a good time because of the good company, but I’m not sure if I would do Color Me Rad again next year unless there were some massive improvements made.  I guess we will see!

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What is your favourite Fun Run of all time?

How do you keep cool during the hot summer months?

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Running Survey

Good morning everybody, and Happy Wednesday!

Sean and I just got back from a 5-day BC Road Trip last night, and I am absolutely exhausted.  Over 5 days, we slept in a motel, a hotel, a friend’s cabin, a campground, attended a wedding, had brunch with my mom, and visited 3 different cities.  We got one 5k run in, but other than that, we drank way too much, ate way too much, laid in the sun and did a ton of swimming.  All in all, it was a phenomenal weekend which I will write more about soon.  But for now, since I’m tired and lazy, I have decided to post this fun Running Survey that I found.

I first saw this Survey on Jen’s blog, and decided to hop on the bandwagon and fill it out.  Have a read and join in on the fun if you’d like!

1.  Would you rather run along a beach path or on a mountain trail?

Definitely a beach path.  I love my mountains, but I find it really challenging to run lots of hills at high altitudes.  When I was in California, I couldn’t stop running – especially the pathway that goes from Santa Monica to Venice Beach!

Running in Santa Monica

Running in Santa Monica

2.  If you could choose the flavor of gatorade at your next race’s aid stations, what would it be?

I honestly don’t care.  I’ve never taken Gatorade during a race, but I figure that if I ever need to, I’ll take whatever I can get.

3.  If I gave you a $100 gift card to a running store, what would be the first thing that you would purchase with it?

Either a second pair of Saucony Triumph ISOs, or another race registration.

4.  Do you prefer to follow a training plan or wake up and decide then how far and how fast you want to run?

I always have a training plan in place at least for the next 3-4 weeks (longer if I’m training for something) but I don’t always stick to it completely.  However, I’m pretty consistent with getting my weekly miles in, even if I have to shuffle the days around.  I firmly believe that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

5.  Would you rather start your run with the uphill and end on the downhill or start your run with the downhill and end with the uphill?

Absolutely start uphill.  If I know there’s a big hill near the end of the race, I have a really hard time enjoying myself because that sense of dread never leaves me.

6.  When you can’t run, what type of cross-training do you choose to do?

Almost always Bicycling, outside when I can and indoor when I can’t.  That being said, I’ve never taken a spin class and I have zero desire to.  My second favourite go-to activity is yoga…mainly restorative.

Sunset Beach Yoga

Sunset Beach Yoga in Costa Rica

7.  What is your preference—>  Out and back, point to point or loop runs?

Loop runs.  Out and Backs stress me out for some reason, and I’ll only do them if I’m completely unfamiliar with my territory.  Point to point runs are ok, but I still don’t find them as satisfying as a loop.

8.  If you could recommend ANY running related item to a new runner, it would be —>

The right shoes.  Spend the money.  Get the right fit.  Your body will thank you.

9.  Do you ever see any wild animals while out on your runs?

I run into the odd deer when I run on the trails, but that’s about it.  And I’d like to keep it that way haha.

10.  Ever gotten lost while out on a run?

All the time.  I am famous for having the World’s Worst Sense of Direction.  (Just ask my Boyfriend.)  However, I find that running helps me to find my way around a new area more than driving would.  I never leave home without my Google Maps app on my phone.

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11.  If you could have one meal waiting and ready for you each time you got home from a run for the next 30 days… what would that meal be?

Poached eggs on a whole wheat english muffin with spinach, cheddar cheese and copious amounts of Cholula Hot Sauce.

12.  Capris or shorts… what do you run in most often?

Capris.  If I run any more than 6km in shorts, I have some seriously painful chafing issues.  Sexy, I know.  God Bless Thunder Thighs.

13.  At what mile (or how many minutes) into your run does your body start to feel like it is warming up and ready to go?

It really depends on the distance that I’m running.  If I know I’m just doing a quick 3-5k, I can sometimes never get into my groove.  On the other hand, sometimes the shorter distances feel like a breeze.  If I set out knowing that I’m doing a long run (10k plus) I usually have less discomfort, probably because I don’t push myself quite as hard.  But sometimes I hit a wall about 3/4 of the way through the run.  I don’t know.  I realize I didn’t actually answer the question.  I guess I can’t.

14.  What do you do with your key when you run?

Either in the little waist pocket of my pants, or in the same armband that holds my iPhone.

15.  If you could relive any race that you have done in the past, which one what it be?

I haven’t done many races, so I’m sure this will change, but my favourite race to date was the Calgary Resolution Run 5k on New Years Eve this past year.  There was nothing spectacular about it, I just remember feeling really fantastic and seriously enjoying every single step.

Calgary NYE Resolution Run 2014

Calgary NYE Resolution Run 2014

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Sunday Run Day (On a Sick Stomach)

This past Sunday, I ran 11km for the first time in my entire life.  Previously, my longest run had been 10km, and I am now in that glorious chapter of First-Time Half-Marathon training where every Sunday, I achieve my longest distance yet all the way up until Race Day.  So let’s just say I’ll be slightly on my high horse for the next little while.  I do not apologize.

On Saturday night, we went to a friend’s housewarming party.  Actually, I should back up.  Saturday at work was a food disaster, and I was weak.  So, so weak.  I know myself well enough to know that I have an extremely iffy stomach to begin with when it comes to junk food, and also that I do not do well if my nutrition is not as clean as possible for at least a day or two before a long run.  Keep in mind, at this point in my running journey, I consider anything longer than 7k to be a long run.  So, yeah, I’m pretty sensitive.

Sean and I had planned to run a Sunday morning 11k with his dad and a family friend, and I was actually really looking forward to it.  Gord and Carie are both seasoned runners and I always learn a lot and leave feeling inspired when I run with them.

But on Saturday, one thing led to another…and between a pizza lunch at work, a few bites of a coworker’s birthday cheesecake, and then random appetizers and a glass of sangria at the housewarming party, my stomach was downright pissed.  Sensitive Ashley Stomach decided to kick it into overdrive, and I was awake from 12:30am – 5:30am sick from both ends.  Lovely.

I woke Sean up around 7am to explain that I’d only slept 2 hours and had spent the remainder of the night emptying my stomach contents.  It was also absolutely pouring rain, which did not seem appealing at all.  He said maybe we’d be smart to cancel the run, and I agreed.  I was exhausted.  But as soon as Sean left to tell Gord the run was off, I ran downstairs to say that we were still going.  And I’m glad I did.  Both of them were already sitting in the living room with their running clothes on.  How could I say no?  I popped some meds to calm my stomach (and stop me from shitting myself on the run), bundled up in my rain coat, and we were off.

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Ready for a Rainy Run

The run was hard.  Gord had set out an 11k route around the Glenmore Reservoir area, complete with more hills than I have ever experienced.  From the 4.5k mark all the way up until 9k, I was fighting wicked stomach cramping and unbelievable exhaustion.  We maintained an average pace of 6:41, which is slow for all of us, but nobody complained.  I managed to find a burst of energy to pick up the pace to 5:55 for the final kilometre.  Even though I felt like I was going to projectile vomit everywhere for over an hour, the run was worth it – as it always is – and I was beaming all day from my newest accomplishment.

Also – can I just send out a huge shout out to Sean for being such an amazing human being?  My poor dear sweet boyfriend doesn’t even like running that much, yet he now does 2-3 short morning runs every week, (on his own!) and has recently been tagging along (AKA kicking ass and taking names) on my long runs.  This was also his first 11k.  Last weekend was his first 10k.  He’s honestly just so freaking fantastic and I cannot express my gratitude for his support enough.

The 11k Crew!

The 11k Crew!

After the run, we headed home for a shower and then took Gord out for a well-deserved brunch before heading to the Grand Opening of the Show Homes.  It was so amazing to see exactly what it is we’re going to be building!  Everything is so beautiful and perfect and I cannot wait to take possession of our new home.  More to come on all of that later.

Brunch at Via Cibo

Brunch at Via Cibo

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend full of adventures, fresh air, elevated heart rates and delicious food!  Have an epic week, everyone!

What does it take to make you cancel a run?

Do you stick to a specific sort of diet the day before a long run?

How did you celebrate Father’s Day?

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5 Things I’m Loving – June 2015

Hello everyone, and Happy Monday!  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and managed to get outside to play!  Here in Calgary, it rained quite a bit, but that didn’t stop us!

This month, I’ve been all about simplicity.  Since moving in with Sean’s dad to save money for our new house, I’ve cut back on a ton of my possessions and clothing, and most of our life is currently packed away in storage.  It’s actually been sort of liberating.  The only “stuff” I have right now is the stuff that I need in my bedroom.  It feels a little bit like minimalist living and I really like it.  I spend more time reading, wake up early whenever the bright sunlight pours in my bedroom window (usually about 5:30am) and I fall asleep with the window open, usually pretty early, listening to the birds.  Our apartment served us very well while we had it, but I am so ready for domestic, homeowner life.  Only 6 more months!

Here is a list of the 5 things I’ve been enjoying the most this month;

1. Pressed Juicery Juices

I actually found these bad boys at Costco!  And at $9.99 for 1.5 litres, it’s actually an indulgence that I can justify financially.  So far, I have only tried the Almond Milk – which has cold-pressed Almonds, Dates, Vanilla Bean and Sea Salt, but the Beet Juice (Beets, Apple, Ginger, Lemon) is calling my name this morning.  I can’t wait to try it.

Update: It’s freaking delicious.

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2. Runner’s World Cookbook

I’ve wanted this cookbook for months.  I found it back in March and took a quick glance-through at a Chapters, but I decided to add it to my “Running Rewards” list.  As you might remember from previous posts, I like to treat myself to a little something with every 100km that I log on MapMyRun.  Sometimes it’s a new workout top, or a sports massage, but when I hit 500km a few weeks ago, it was this cookbook.  It’s full of 150+ recipes specifically designed to fit the nutritional needs of the runner, and so far, everything I’ve made has been phenomenal.

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3. Lincoln Durham

I discovered Lincoln Durham a few weeks back after watching my friend Chad’s Vlog on Paddling the Cahaba River in Alabama (check it out here).  Chad and I first connected when he wrote an Adventure Spotlight article for Adventure To Anywhere about Jackson, Wyoming, which is now on my Bucket List.  Lincoln Durham has a Real, Raw, Dark Blues / Americana sound that I just can’t get enough of.  My favourite song at the moment is Love Letters.

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4. This Video Tribute to Denali

I’m sure most of you have already seen this beautiful video tribute to Man’s Best Friend, but if you haven’t, watch it.  But prepare to cry.  It warms my heart more than I can put into words.

5. My Herb Garden

Last week, I found this little wooden organizer at Winner’s in the Home Office section, and I decided to remove the glass top and plant my herbs in it.  I’m obsessed with it and I’m pretty sure it’s the cutest, pinterest-y-est thing I’ve ever done.

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What are some of the things you’ve been loving this month?

What did you get up to over the weekend?

What’s on your summer playlist?

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