The Whole Vacation Thing

As I mentioned in passing yesterday… I am one of those people who is at the airport WAY earlier than they need to be, with enough supplies to survive in 99% of Earth’s conditions for at least a couple days. I’m going to lay out what my packing process looks like for those of you who are either interested or keen to have a laugh.

Travelling with Knitting

First of all this process is by no means perfected. I only started traveling in the end of 2013, that was my first ever airplane ride! I definitely packed a lot of things I didn’t need for a week trip to Chicago. Paul had to remind me that I was probably going to buy a fair amount of yarn and needed space to bring it back. At which point I looked at him with no small amount of horror. I had almost forgotten to leave space for yarn. No good could come of this so I decided to be much more careful about my packing.

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First of all, I try to roll all my clothes before I place them in my bag. I think about the weather, what it could be, what it is unlikely to be, and just pack for everything. We went camping a lot as children and that was the theory behind packing for a camping trip. What you need to survive anything.
Second of all, I try to imagine the things that are okay to forget. If you’re going somewhere with drug stores, then it’s probably okay not to bring one of everything in your medicine cabinet. If you can reliably buy antacids and Band-Aids, I’m not too concerned.

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A ‘busy bag’ aka, yarn and stuff. I wrote a post a while ago about how I always pack way too much yarn for projects that I could probably start while on vacation. I think about the trip there and if I will end up sleeping or not. I ALWAYS plan to sleep, but don’t always end up sleeping. I also think I will have much more time for sitting and doing nothing than I end up. Although, when we went to Cuba it was the wet season and we spent more time than I thought we would indoors. I don’t bring anything too complicated, just something to keep my hands busy. Usually socks, as I know you are all excited about!
I do all of this, 3-5 days before the trip and plan to throw more things in as I think of them. I usually leave this bag in our spare room or on the floor in our bedroom (although this encourages kitties who think they’re going to travel). If I think of something I’ve forgotten I throw it in! Repacking at the end and taking out things I know I am not going to need!

Fabulous Food

Off topic Thursday! I am sorry to those of you who get hungry when reading about food, because that is what this one is going to encompass. By day, I work in an office; it used to be close enough to my house that I could go home for lunch and actually cook something for myself. It worked out really well because I intensely dislike leftovers. Recently the company has moved to a new building, which is farther from my house. This leaves me with the choice of bringing a bagged lunch or getting creative.

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I’ve done a couple different things in the past couple weeks, but I’ve been really getting creative more than anything. I know everyone sees mason jars everywhere, but they’re not just a chic cool new lunch container, they actually keep your food fresher longer. A while back, I posted a video of me doing my mason jar salads, I definitely did that for the first week. However, I was totally sick of them by the end of the week.
Not only was I slightly sick of salad, but the weather is thinking about cooling off and there is nothing worse than eating a crisp salad on a cold winters day. I made a huge pot of chili and placed it in mason jars and froze them. The absolute best thing about mason jars is their ability to withstand hot and cold temperatures. You can even bake them! When you realize they were originally intended for picking things, this makes complete sense.

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I also made a batch of guacamole, which was soooooo good. I made it up and put it in little tiny mason jars simply because I had them. I put one in the fridge and threw the rest in the freezer. Then I completely and totally forgot about it. The one in the fridge I ended up finding a week later and, when I opened it, was prepared for an absolutely horrible experience. It was still green! Not even a gross brown-green, it was bright green! The mason jar had sealed it away from the air and it had not oxidized at all. As for the ones in the freezer, I had not thought about what the texture would be like after defrosting them, but it is 100% normal! This is the best idea ever!

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A week ago I made my own hummus from this recipe. In the post she says you can peel the chick peas and that would just make your hummus smoother. I hate the gritty feeling some hummus has so I obviously spent a year and a day peeling a whole can of chick peas, but it was totally worth it. When I was gathering supplies I had heard that Tahini was difficult to find. I am not sure why, but I expected it to be a spice, not a paste. I ended up finding Tahina, which is very similar. It is sesame paste, but with a bit of lemon juice. I was also seriously sketched out by the parmesan cheese at this grocery store, it all looked powdered. Since it was roasted garlic with parm, I changed it to asiago cheese instead. You only need a very small amount anyway.

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I am not a huge hummus fan, I was making my own in an attempt to force myself to like it more. It totally worked. This was BY FAR the best hummus I had ever had. It was creamy and garlicy. Perfect. I’ve been eating some extremely good lunches at work and everyone is jealous. Let’s see if I can keep up the charade 😉

TO Island Give-it-a-Tri Recap

Well… I survived!!! Yaaaaay!

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A couple days before the race, I was starting to become alarmed that I had not received any kind of notification of my wave time. When I went to try on my wet suit, I was telling the person helping me out. He said not to worry about it and just proceed as though I was going to be in the first wave. Considering that the wave times were every 15 minutes and between 8am and 9am, this seemed like a good idea. A couple days before the race I got my email with all my info.

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I picked up my race packet and got body marked on the main-land then Alanna, Paul and I took the ferry over to the island. Those would be out bikes, just chillin’  out. The body-marker people wrote your bib number on your arm and your age on your calf. I feel like this engendered a strange sense of honesty and intimacy that you don’t usually find in races. PS that person in the background of the photo above did NOT look 53. I found a lot of people did not look their age at all. I kept thinking to myself, ‘they wrote their numbers the wrong way around!’

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Yes that would be the rising sun hitting our faces! We took the 6:30am ferry so we were there almost two hours before our wave time (8:20am). When we got to the island, Alanna and I headed over to sort out our transition area. I didn’t realize that all the transitions were happening in the same area; when Alanna tried to explain this, it took much longer than it should have to sink in… I hadn’t had all that much coffee, sue me. I didn’t have to worry about making sure all my stuff was in the right place because there was only one area.

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One of my biggest concerns for the upcoming race was nutrition. I had been having problems with low blood sugar crashes and in the days leading up to the race I wasn’t feeling properly. Since the Wednesday before, when Chloe passed, I had been too upset to eat much. I was completely justified in my concern that I was just going to pass out cold on the ground. To make sure this DID NOT happen, I brought four gels with me. For such a short race this was definitely overkill, but better to have it and not need it.

TO Island Race Recap-3621I had watched a lot of videos about transition areas and what to put where. I wrote down a list and carefully packed everything that was going to be in my transition. There is a neon green towel that held my run stuff, but you can see it better in my first transition area photo. I shoved my sunglasses in my helmet to make sure I would have them for the bike. I don’t normally wear, or like, sunglasses. Something about them being over my eyes and semi-inpairing my line-of-sight really bothers me. I was really glad to have them on this bike because the sun was shining directly at eye level; and it was useful to protect me from the wind.

TO Island Race Recap-3624The race was having little info sessions down at the beach before your wave time. Just important safety information and basic race course directions. After figuring out where all the in’s and out’s were, we put on our wetsuits and sunscreen and headed down to the beach. The timing anklets were to be picked up on the beach so we grabbed those and then got into the water. I don’t remember what the exact temperature was, but they announced it and used the word ‘balmy.’ Under no freaking circumstances was that ‘balmy!’ I know what you’re thinking, but you had a wetsuit on! The wetsuit lets in a bit of water next to your skin and your body heat warms up that bit of water. It is still freaking cold when it hits you!

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So that is me attempting to claw my way out of the wetsuit that attempted to coke me to death in the water. I am not sure what happened, it may or may not have been me just having a small anxiety moment, but it felt like the collar of the wetsuit got tighter and tighter as I was swimming. I feel I should mention that I have some kind of irrational fear of open water. I have no idea where it came from, but I get nervous in open water. I swam most of the 400m on my back and seeking a happy place that was not the water. When I was finally close enough to shore to stand up, my head started spinning and I was just trying not to fall back down. I find that this usually how it happens with swimming though, you don’t realize how hard you’ve been working until you get out of the water.

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The transition went well, by the time I had wandered back to the transition area and peeled off my evil wetsuit I didn’t feel like I was going to pass out. I walked my bike out and took off. The biking portion was easily the strongest section of the race for me. I pushed myself a little bit and passed a couple people, then all of the sudden was over taken by a lot of women from the wave after mine. It was humbling to see these women 20 years older than me totally kicking my ass. I really hope I am in that kind of shape when I get there! When I finally got back to the transition area, I did the sweetest rolling dismount you could possibly imagine. I used to do this as a kid all the time. Living on a farm, you ride your bike a lot and I  am well practiced. It still felt good when the race volunteer said ‘nicely done!’

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Last but not least! The run! This was difficult for me because you’re not allowed to listen to any music. I usually try to loose myself in the music for the first 2K of a run, that is just how long it takes to find my groove. Unfortunately, this was a majority of the run for this race. I feel I can say with certainty, I am a distance runner. I tried to keep myself occupied by yelling encouragement to others, good-naturedly heckling the people who were watching (but not cheering) and making sure I was going the right way. You had to do two laps of the running course, which kind of sucked because it was the same view as the first time, but I understand they can’t book off the whole island. By the time I was doing my second loop and coming to the end, I was finally hitting my stride.

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The best part about this race in particular was the chocolate milk after. This triathlon series was ‘recharge with milk’ by Multisport Canada. There were photos and also free food for the athletes. No medal though. There are fewer and fewer events handing out medals and I would TOTALLY pay extra just to get one. We got t-shirts along with the various kinds of swag and samples the sponsors hand out.

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All the photos from the race are free, which I thought was a REALLY nice touch. I’ve done other races where the photos cost an arm, leg, pound of flesh, first born and you had to guess what the race co-ordinator’s third cousin, on their mother’s side, was named.

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Not too terrible for a first tri. My goal was to come in around an hour and I made it!

Tri Tri as Hard as you Can.

Well a couple weeks ago I actually signed up for the Give it a Tri on Toronto Island August 22nd. The money is paid; there is no going back. We have passed the point of no return. Remind me again why I do these things?!

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Oh yea… because I LOVE IT!
I’ve been training in a pretty round about and general way for a few weeks, but when I actually filled out the forms, I had to get my act in gear. I promptly added training to my calendar and figured out what workouts I am doing what days; run, bike, yoga, swim, run, brick, repeat.
I recently picked up some new triathlon lingo. A ‘brick’ refers to a workout when you stack two disciplines one after the other with little to no interruption. For example, I have been working on the bike to running transition because I’ve heard it is the hardest.

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The very first time I tried to do a bike/run brick, Paul and I went to the rail trail in Hamilton. It’s a really lovely bike on a trail that goes all the way from Hamilton to Brantford, a good 32K (approx. 19.8 miles). Don’t worry, I wasn’t doing the whole thing. In the actual Triathlon I have to bike 10K then run 2.5K, so to train we biked 16K. We had to go from our car, 8K up the trail and then come back again. You might be thinking this is slightly excessive, but Paul and I are decent cyclists and the first 8K is all uphill.
This is one of my absolute favourite bike rides because when you get to the point of turning around, your legs are on fire and you don’t know how you’re going to make it back. You turn and glide the whole way back, so really, our 16K bike ride isn’t as impressive as it seems. By the time you reach your car again, you’ve flushed the lactic acid out of your legs by pedaling so light and fast.

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Knowing this, I popped off my bike and started running… I thought I was going to die. My legs felt like lead, I hadn’t even made it back on the trail and I was breathing very hard. It was embarrassing. I just had to remember that this was the first one and the first one is always the hardest. Luckily I’ve been keeping so busy, I didn’t really have time to dwell on the bad run.
This past Sunday was my second bike/run brick and I CRUSHED IT! It was difficult, don’t get me wrong, but I felt a lot better. I felt strong, like I could definitely muscle through and optimistic I would get better. Since then I have felt really REALLY optimistic about this race. Like I can just handle anything that will come at me, I’ll be able to get over it.
I’m not sure if the feeling will last, but I really hope it will. I am going for my first swim of this week today (early Thursday morning). Swimming is not my forte so we will see if my optimism is waterproof!

Coffee

I’ve clearly had too much coffee today because when I was researching for this article I fell down a black hole. I didn’t get as far as cat videos, but it was a close call. So coffee! I used to hate coffee, and thought I was totally justified in this because it was ‘bad for you.’ Now there is a lot of research that says it can actually be healthy for you. Here are some of the facts I found. Click on the photo to follow through to the whole article.

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Please click though and check out the webpages on the other end of the links, they did all the awesome graphics and research. Lots of fun facts about tea as well, coffee doesn’t have a monopoly on health and caffeine. Now that I have shared my love of coffee and probably made you want one more cup, my work is done! If you haven’t signed up for our newsletter you can do so here. We are going to be revealing our next self-striping colourway in June, so if you’re interested…

Custom Ink

I was really not sure what to write about today. This is the day when I write about something not knitting related, but I really feel like I’ve got nothing going on. Then BAM! I had to order a couple more t-shirts for my Creativ Festival helpers!

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I’ve used Custom Ink for t-shirts twice now. They normally do huge orders, for teams et al, but I managed to order just a couple things from them. The very first time I was ordering these shirts, I was having a heck of a time getting them to work. There were so many factors and my order was particularly complicated because the backs were all the same, but the fronts were different.

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I couldn’t manage to get it figured out by myself and was incredibly frustrated by the time I called in to speak with them. The person who picked up the phone was friendly and, best of all, unscripted. I felt like I was talking to an actual person rather than someone sitting there reading from a script. She managed to untangle my order and get me all set up with exactly what I wanted.

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This time was exactly the same! I was doing something overly complicated again, and began to frustrate myself. I called in again, remembering how helpful the previous person had been, and wondered if it had been a fluke. My experience was exactly the same! Custom Ink has the BEST customer service I have EVER experienced.

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I feel like the people that work there, actually like their jobs and have a good time at work. Mostly because I always joke around when I call into any customer service phone line. Usually the person on the other end laughs, but doesn’t really speak too much because “this conversation could be recorded for training purposes.” I am sure they are thinking about saying something wrong. It makes for a very tense phone call.

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These people seem like they are just people who are trying to help you out with whatever problem you have; they’re not just cogs in some huge corporate machine. I love that; it’s just like a real person talking to you.

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Needless to say I am completely smitten with them and would recommend this company to ANYONE getting t-shirts made. It’s worth it a bit more if you’re getting more than six done, but you never know when you will have a need for a hundred t-shirts that are all the same!