Friday, 27 December 2013

Holiday Hike?

I'm used to spending Christmas under a few feet of snow so you can imagine how weird it was for me to be somewhere that there was no snow and it was also green in the middle of winter.  Since my parents have moved they've become super outdoorsy so on Christmas Eve we decided to go on a little hike and I brought my big girl camera with me to snap a few photos.

So mossy and green! Are we sure it's December?

Looks like a jungle or something

I'm getting really artsy now

My mom and my sister

My dad snapping some pictures of his own

Bit of a different Christmas for my famjam this year but still nice and I love an excuse to break out my camera.  Hope you all had lovely holidays too!  (Slightly different kind of post but I wanted an excuse to post some of my pictures.)

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Home for the Holidays

Training has been going a bit better lately but since we were reaching the end of another four week build I was looking forward to getting a bit of a break and seeing my parents for more than a few days at a time.  This year is the first Christmas that we're spending at our Parents' new house which is a little different but also meant that we only had about a one hour flight from Calgary to Vancouver instead of the five hour flight to Ottawa.

Thinking that this would be an easy trip we got to the airport early only to find out that our flight had been cancelled for no reason, none that they told us anyways, and so we had to cab all the way back home and then try to travel again the next day (luckily being the emotional wreck that I am I cried so they gave us vouchers for free cab rides).  The next day after being put on standby and delayed we finally got on a plane and made it to the Vancouver airport.

I was expecting rain and warm (compared to Calgary) weather but it actually snowed after we arrived! Although it's mostly gone now since it rained today.

Almost looks like Calgary (although significantly warmer)
We went to the Vancouver Symphony's Christmas concert which was good and also served to remind me that I wasted my musical talent by not doing anything musical since high school.
Sneaky crooked, blurry picture from the balcony

Selfie because I got to try out my new Revlon lip balm stain (in Crush)
(Don't get to wear makeup much when you train six times a week so I had to document the moment)
Even though I'm technically on holiday I still have training to do so of course I had to travel to the Richmond Olympic Oval to get some weights done.  I feel like I'm just travelling from one Olympic Oval to another.

Don't actually get to skate but kind of cool seeing all the banners from the last Olympics when the next ones are just around the corner
Stay tuned for more Christmas-y posts or about how I manage training away from the training centre (because I still don't know how that's going to go) or maybe something completely different, anything could happen.

Monday, 9 December 2013

How to Study for Exams

  1. Get out all your books/notes
  2. Do laundry
  3. Go on the internet while you wait for your clothes to wash (hey! that tab of research materials is open that's practically studying right?)
  4. Clean your room, can't study in clutter 
  5. Clean the kitchen ... again, clutter, it's so distracting 
  6. Bake cookies (I suggest regular chocolate chip cookies with half Reese chips that's what I made and I'm OBSESSED)
  7. Open file containing notes on laptop
  8. Watch seven hours of YouTube videos
  9. Try to decide if you have enough time to read that book before the exam or if you should read the sparks notes, do neither, take a shower and actually blow-dry your hair for once instead
Happy Finals Week!
Some of my favourite studying songs here
A good Christmas studying playlist here
The cookie recipe I used here (minus walnuts with Reese chips for half the chocolate chips)
Only 15 days until Christmas, we can do this!

Someone sent me this and it seemed appropriate

Thursday, 5 December 2013

How to Avoid Freezing to Death

It seems that winter in fully upon us now, there's snow on the ground, the Christmas decorations are up, Christmas songs are playing in all the stores, oh, and it's also REALLY EFFING COLD.  I don't know how it is where you are but where I am we've been having temperatures like -28°C and windchills of like -39°C (I really wish I was joking).  So here is my foolproof way to avoid freezing to death:

  1. Stay inside. Don't even open the curtains just sit on your couch with blankets and hot chocolate and never leave it.  Don't even go outside for food, that's why deliverymen exist.
  2. If you really have to leave the couch to go to school or something (and let's be honest if it's not for an exam is it really worth it?) bundle up and then run directly from the warmth of your house to your car, and I mean RUN, if you don't have time to feel the cold maybe you can pretend that it doesn't exist.
  3. Don't have a car? Layers. Wear two pairs of mitts, wear more than one hat.  Wearing jeans to school? Wear sweatpants over top. Wearing leggings? Add some sweatpants. Already wearing sweatpants? Add more sweatpants. -30 is not the time to be cute and stylish it's all just about surviving.
That's all I've got.  I've been trying my very best to use friends for rides and then just staying at the university all day, it doesn't even matter that I've got hours and hours between classes/training.  If it's cold where you are try not to be outside for very long and cover your pretty faces! Frostbite is real and it hurts.

20 days to Christmas!!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Christmas Decorating! (Part One)

Today's post was supposed to be "November in Pictures" but with competing and school the only pictures I took this month were a selfie and a picture of a box of holiday Rice Krispies.

Since it's December 1st today me and the roomies decorated our condo for the holidays before we all go our separate ways (one of us to FISU games next week, the rest of us home to our families soon after).  It's hard being in Calgary sometimes, being away from family and friends, especially around holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving so this year our Black Friday shopping consisted of decorations to make our place more home-y.  If you're away from home, stressed about exams, and feeling a little lonely a few little things can make everything better (well almost everything).

We bought a teeny tiny Christmas tree and some cheap ornaments at Target

A short string of lights and some seasonal foliage in a vase, ooh so fancy

Splurging on a nice smelling candle can make even the dingiest dorm room feel warm and cozy (also great when studying)

We also have one fancy wreath from HomeSense because we're classy like that
And with just a few cheap festive things that were (mostly) on sale we were able to Christmas-fy our little town house so obviously we had to have a little holiday photoshoot.

Aw look how much we love each other

Gazing at Herb the lovely picture we were gifted when we moved in

Christmas card worthy
The most adorable picture ever taken, we should probably have this framed

Monday, 25 November 2013

Healthy peanut butter chocolate bars

This post falls under the "and stuff" of Skates and Stuff.  I love baking and desserts but sometimes it can be hard to make some healthy-ish options.

I was sitting at home taking an extra afternoon off to recover while the rest of my group was training and was really in need of some comfort food.  I found this recipe online, experimented with it a little and was really happy with how it turned out.  So I'll tell ya what I did and leave the recipe at the bottom.

The original recipe called for half a cup of brown sugar but I only used a quarter cup and mixed it with 1 cup of peanut butter, 2 teaspoons of vanilla and then on a whim I decided to add half a banana.  The banana was a little hard to mix in but I figured that no one would really complain if they got a chunk of banana in their bar.
This smelled so good I could have stopped there and just licked the bowl
Next up was one cup of flour (whole wheat because that's how stupidly healthy I am), a cup of oats, a teaspoon of baking soda, and a quarter of a teaspoon of salt (I don't know if it makes any difference at all but I use sea salt).

It was all a little crumbly until I added the milk.  I used half a cup of chocolate almond milk instead of regular milk (and that also accounted for some of the sugar I left out).  I put in half a cup of chocolate chips but you could also put in raisins or nuts or whatever else. 
I pressed it all in a greased pan and put it in the oven for about 17 minutes. 
The finished product was almost suprising to me since I had never experimented on a recipe that much.  The bars are kind of somewhere between a banana bread and an oatmeal cookie, they're soft in the middle which probably comes from the banana.
They're a little bit healthier but still good.  I ate three that first day.

1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter (all natural)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 banana 
1 cup flour (I used whole wheat)
1 cup oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup milk (I used chocolate almond milk)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F
Mix brown sugar, peanut butter and vanilla 
Add the banana 
Mix in flour, oats, salt and baking soda. Slowly add milk and then chocolate chips (may need to use your hands to mix it all together)
Press into a greased baking pan and bake for 17-20 minutes, or until the bars start to brown around the edges 

Canadian Open

If you read my last post you will remember that I was in Montreal for National team trials #1 (aka Canadian Open).  I worked very hard to qualify for that competition and was looking forward to carrying that hard work and the success I had at National Qualifier to these races.  I don't want to go into too much detail but I will give you a small recap of what happened.

I had some good races, some ok races, and some awful races.  I was able to pull off longer distances like the 1500m and 1000m but I struggled with the sprint distance.  It was very upsetting, I felt like I was going in slow motion, I was losing, and to top it off that was the day that a lot of my family had travelled down to watch me and my cousin.  I managed to turn it around the next day and skated alright but it still affected my overall ranking and I finished lower down the list than I wanted to.  I guess that just means I'm going to have to work on strength and power in the weight room and technique and starts on ice before the next trials in March, new training block starts today.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Traveling and Training Essentials

I recently left Calgary to travel to Montreal for 10 days for the Canadian Open competition.  I travel a lot so I thought I would share with you some of my traveling essentials.  Keep in mind that I'm traveling for a speed skating competition so the things that I packed will be different than what I would take with me if I was just going on vacation.

I like to start off packing for any trip by doing all the laundry I've been putting off for a week all in one day and then sorting it all on my bed so that I have to either pack it or put it away before I can go to sleep.
I hated myself for doing this but then I actually packed so I guess that was good
The first things into my bag were my training essentials, everything I need for training and warming up off the ice.
Oooh so much spandex
First up, tights! I love tights. You can work out in them and don't have to worry about people seeing things they shouldn't and they're oh so comfy. Also you know sometimes rinks and arenas are cold and tights keep the muscles warmer.
From left to right: tights - lululemon, crops - lululemon, tights - lululemon, compression pants - under armour
Next up shirts.  This new long sleeve from lululemon is one of my best purchases in a long time.  It's nice and thick so it keeps you warm and then it has mesh down the back and under the arms so you don't overheat and the mesh looks kind of lacy so that's fancy.  Also pictured is my favourite lululemon sports bra (seriously I want 12) and tank.
Sports bra, tank and long sleeve all lululemon
And finally if I'm not wearing tights or if we're doing weights where it's warmer I am all about the spandex shorts.  I swear I didn't mean for this to be a lululemon ad but they just make such good quality clothing and it lasts forever, I have a pair of lulu yoga pants that I've owned for more than 5 years that I'm still wearing.
shorts: both lululemon
Next traveling essential is my travel humidifier.  Hotel rooms can get really dry so I set this up with a bottle of water and then hope it helps keep me from getting sick.
This one is Bell+Howell and you just have to put a water bottle in the top
Some other random essentials are St Ives Mineral Therapy hand cream (I have the big body lotion pump and it is incredible, best lotion I've ever used), deodorant (duh and this one smells good), shampoo and conditioner in little travel bottles so that my bag doesn't way too much (I got these ones at the drugstore for around two dollars), and Neutrogena Oil-Free face cream (this is very light and not greasy so I feel like I can use it every day and work out and my skin won't explode).

The next step in my packing process is to throw the rest of my clothes and skating stuff into the bag, cry when it's overweight because all the skate sharpening things weighs too much, take clothes out and then try to fit as many things as I can in my carry-on.
Carry on: sweater that wouldn't fit in the suitcase, running shoes, skates (because those are allowed on Canadian flights), helmet, water bottle, supplements (e-load, ultragen and whey protein), school books, personal book, and notebook.  (And, of course, my laptop.)
Always pick a comfy plane outfit, no one cares what you look like. Honestly. Always go for comfort not style. This is also a great way to bring another outfit you wanted that maybe you couldn't justify bringing or couldn't fit in the bag.
Tights: ivivva, sweater: H&M, scarf H&M
And that's everything because then I got overwhelmed by packing last minute and stopped taking pictures.  If you like posts like this let me know and maybe I can do a travel makeup essentials or supplements, or clothes, or what to do on a plane or something like that!
All my travel things by the door ready to go.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

October in Pictures

There's not a lot going on in the skating world for me to tell you about so I decided to make a quick post using the pictures from my iPhone to keep the blog going.

Technically from last month but a lovely birthday surprise from my roommates

My mother became very concerned for my wellbeing, if this was 2009 I would be inconsolable

I got some fancy new skates that only made my feet bleed for a couple weeks

I decided last minute to go to a Halloween party and had to get a last minute costume

I was a scarecrow.  Here's me with a couple Lost Boys

Annd it snowed ... looks pretty but not fun for biking to the oval in

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

National Qualifier

So here we are: the first big important competition is over, what I trained for all summer has come and gone and now it's time to shift focus to the next one.  But first I'm going to tell you all about my emotional National Qualifier experience. (yay!)

National Qualifier this year qualifies the people who didn't make Olympic trials for Canadian Open aka national team selections #1.  Basically this year I had to finish somewhere around top 12 to make Canadian Open.

The first day (Thursday) we skated the preliminary rounds of the 1500 and 500 to qualify us for the final rounds which would be later in the weekend.  Only 14 skaters in the 1500 and 12 in the 500 out of 48 made it to the final rounds on the first day.  This should have been completely do-able for me since I went in to the competition ranked 9th but then in the first race of the day, the first round of the 1500s I fell.

posted to my tumblr shortly after the fall
I tend to be a rather emotional skater so after this happened I was rather upset.  I will admit that I cried and I saw my chances of skating Canadian Open fading off into the distance.  At one point I walked by the coaches box and told the coaches to yell at me so I would stop crying because I still had to skate 500s later in the day.  I managed to make it through to the top in the 500 even though it's not my best distance and then day 1 was over.

The second day (Friday) was 1500 day.  Because I didn't make the top on Thursday I had to skate what's called the repechage.  Basically everyone who didn't make it through on Thursday skated three extra rounds and the top 4 from that got to compete against the top 14 in the final rounds.  I made it out of the repechage and then had an amazing race to get me into the A final and ended up 6th overall in the 1500 (even though I was so tired from skating three more rounds than everybody else in the final that I didn't really do much).

(after making it out of the semi and into the A final)
I finished 9th in the 500 after a kind of uneventful Saturday and then 5th in the 1000 on Sunday.  In the 1000 final (and also last race of the competition) I had what was probably the best race of my life winning the B final when almost no one expected me to.

I ended the competition in 6th overall and earned myself a spot in Canadian Open next month.  All in all the competition was probably one of the best ones I've ever had and while I'm currently physically and emotionally drained I'm still buzzing over how well it went and excited for the races coming up.

text message I sent to my friend Monday after the competition