Thursday, October 29, 2015

Why I Stopped Posting About Home Decor

I have wanted to write this post for awhile, but I have a hard time articulating what I am going to say. I started this blog 3 years ago as a place to write about home decor and my condo, as at the time I really fell in love with many other home decor bloggers. However, over the past 3 years I have noticed quite a shift in this area of blogging- I don't follow many of those bloggers any more.

Here is why: When I started following them, I loved that they were real people with real lives just trying to make a beautiful home. I loved following them in real time through the ups and downs of large renovations or small crafts. I loved feeling like I had a glimpse into all these private homes. But then those bloggers got big (or probably already were big but I was blissfully ignorant of all the signs). All of a sudden they were moving from their beautiful, cozy finished homes to large McMansions. Their funny posts about budgeting and DIY were turning into sponsored posts or blatant ads more and more. They started making design choices that would appeal to a larger audience and all bloggers seemed to be doing the same things to their homes. And they were censoring their natural voice and replacing it with SEO and their sponsor's wording and it slowly started to feel like I was watching commercials and a fake reality show, instead of the glimpse of a real home. I stopped feeling like I could relate at all to them.

I don't pretend to be a perfect person who has eschewed these ways and has bucked all home decor trends. I also won't pretend that a couple of times I didn't do a sponsored post. I guess I just started to look at my own blog and question whether I wanted to still talk about these things. Whether decorating/blogging about decorating was actually a priority in my life. And the answer was no. I am still making upgrades and decorating, but it is more for resale and for my own comfort than for blogging. So I am doing less projects less often and therefore simply have less to blog about. I am saving up for a future where I will have a family and my priorities have changed. I don't want to keep blowing my money on throw pillows and knick-knacks.

I see bloggers who post every day and EVERY DAY it involves something they spent money on. Sometimes it is a craft you never see in their home again. Or they are redoing something that they already did. Even $1 purchases add up! And to afford to do that, I wouldn't even have money for big projects- which would mean things would come off as cheap looking in real life. I don't want a home full of cheap, rushed, projects. I don't want to spend my precious time on them as well.

I never really made any money off this blog, and while a large part of that is because it was too overwhelming to figure out, a little part of that I think is because I was worried about losing my voice. I was worried about the blog becoming more like work and less like fun. I was concerned I would start blogging for my readers, instead of for myself. I still want to share posts about updates to my condo, but they will just come naturally as I complete things in my own time. In the meantime, I am still trying to figure out what else I want to write about. Running? Finances? Life? I am still trying to find my new voice, but you will see me here whenever I can find it!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon!

I did it!!! 1:55:18!!!!

But let's start at the beginning, shall we?

I spent all Saturday hydrating and preparing for a good night's sleep (AKA- no caffeine!). I also went for a short 15 minute "shake it out" run in the early morning, which was beneficial mostly for testing my chosen race outfit as both mornings were around the freezing mark and I has no idea how to dress (I ended up going with leggings, Tshirt, and arm warmers). After my run I went to the marathon expo to get my bib and Tshirt, but mostly it was a lazy day. I watched the Jay's game with Cam and then crawled into bed to read for a bit at 9:30pm. I actually fell asleep OK, but I woke up a LOT during the night and was awake for many long periods. I guess I was just too excited!

I woke up around 7:00am before my alarm went off and got dressed, ate my usual pre-run PB bagel and drank some green tea. I was all set to go at 8:00am!
My mug says "Hakuna Matata"
It was flipping cold out at 8:00am so I actually wore knee high socks on my arms as I walked to the starting line, which was just a 15 or so minute walk from my condo. I got them from the dollar store and cut out the toes. But I kind of wished I had left them intact or brought some cheap gloves because I was COLD. I could not feel my fingers and I was shivering so hard.

At the start I ate a banana, took a last minute potty break, and then got ready to roll! I had moved up corrals to Yellow at the expo, which was the sub- 2:00hr group so I was off around 8:55am!

I listened to an audiobook the whole run (Jenny Lawson's Furiously Happy- I am loving it. I have a signed copy of her previous book too). I felt like I went out a little strong, but I was cold and wanted to warm up! I actually had fairly even splits every mile, which makes me pretty happy.

About 30 minutes in I saw the 2:00 hr pace bunny for the run 10, walk 1 group and I got really mad that she was ahead of me because I was running sub- 9:00 miles! So the next time they stopped to walk, I motored on by and never saw her again!! woohoo!! And get this:


I ran that whole race and I couldn't be more proud!!!! I first decided to evaluate whether I needed a 1 minute walk at 30 minutes in, but I felt good (and that was around the pace bunny incident). Then I was like "Ok, let's go for 7 miles. I've run 7 miles straight before". So I did. And at 7 miles I basically thought "well, made it this far...let's see if I can run the whole thing". So I did :)

The course is actually really nice and flat, and once we got out of downtown and down to the Lakeshore it was sunny and I was warmed up and ditched my arm-warmers (volunteers collect all discarded clothing, but I wonder if anyone would like mutilated socks?).

The next part of the race passed pretty easily. I was enjoying my book, it was sunny and pleasant out, the minutes seemed to pass quickly, I liked seeing all the spectators and reading their funny motivational signs, and I was enjoying myself and feeling good about my pace, which was holding pretty steady around 8:30 minutes per mile.

With about 5km to go, I was done. I was so tired. But I knew my legs had some strength in them still so I kept on motoring. You can see my pace started to slow a little there!! I basically went into beast mode and took in nothing of my surroundings. My eye was on the prize, which was the turn up back into downtown, where we split from the marathoners.

Finally the turn came and I kept motoring. My breaths were getting pretty laboured but clearly I wasn't going to stop now. I kept my eyes peeled for my mom who was coming by GO train right around the time I was running by Union Station. Apparently she JUST saw me fly by, but I didn't see her. The sign for the last 500 meters came and I swear that 500 meters felt longer than the entire race- but I made it!! I crossed the finish line in 1:55:18!! My phone time was a little off since I started just before the start and struggled to unlock it to stop the race after I finished. I am not sure if I actually ran 13.84 miles instead of 13.1 miles- could be I did a lot of weaving, or it could be the signal got a little distorted downtown. However 1:55:18 is my official chip time! I couldn't be happier. My goal was to run it in under 2 hours, and I vaguely had 1:58 as a goal in my mind, so I am ecstatic!

I met my mom at the finish line (fun fact- we were wearing the exact same shoes), and she so nicely brought me a fuzzy warm sweater and gloves. I got so cold real fast!

We didn't stay for any of the post-race food or festivities- I wasn't hungry yet and I really wanted a hot shower (though I wasn't really sweaty- too cold out for that I guess!). We walked back to my place and after I was all cleaned up we went out for a victory brunch! And I busted out my new Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon technical shirt! I had earned the right to wear it now!

And then I went home and took a 2 hour nap :)

All in all I had a fantastic race and I am so proud of myself for sticking to my training plan! For the record, I followed the Sub 2:30 Half Marathon training plan in the RunKeeper app, which is all free and I highly recommend. I followed it almost perfectly. Of course, I learned a few weeks in that I should have picked a faster plan (they have sub 2:15 and sub 2:00 as well), but I just ignored the suggested paces it gave it and followed the distances and whether I should run slow, steady, or fast. Clearly it all worked out for the best!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Half Marathon Training: Week 15

Total Miles This Week: 19.75
Total Miles Overall: 366.75 Miles

Workouts Completed:
Tuesday: 7 Miles (1 mile slow- 9:47 pace, 5 miles fast- 9:08 pace, 1 mile slow- 9:46 pae)
Thursday: 4 Miles (4 miles slow- 9:34 pace)
Saturday: 3 Miles (11:20 pace- ran with a friend:))
Sunday: 5.75 Miles (5 miles slow- 10:07 pace, 0.75 miles fast intervals- 9:33 pace)

This is it guys!! IT'S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN!! I have a couple of 5ks this week and then on Sunday I run my big half marathon! I am actually excited about it- not nervous. I feel so confident that I have done my best in this training regime so what happens on Sunday should be my best, but otherwise it is out of my control, you know? I am just super pumped to step across that finish line and finally accomplish what I set out to do on June 30th- follow this training plan and run my first half marathon. 

Even though, technically, this will now be my second since I ran the MEC half in Sept. BUT- this Scotiabank Half is the one I had been training for all summer so it is the big deal! All those hours and runs and blisters and calf pains and moving plans to fit around my running will all be for this! 

15 weeks ago I had never run more than 15K or 9.3 Miles. And that was at the Midsummers Night Run in August 2014 where I distinctly remember hitting a wall at 13 or 14K. My 10K race in May of this year was a tough run too! I was so daunted by the 10 miler I had to run in August, or the two 13 milers and two 14 milers I needed to accomplish in September. But I DID IT. I took every training run as it came and I finished. Some runs were long and torturous, others felt like a walk in the park. I don't know which kind of day I will have on Sunday, but I have done all I can to prepare so we will just see what happens!!

The route is available HERE if anyone in the Toronto area wants to come out and cheer me on :D. I am hoping to finish in under 2:00, so my pace will be around 5:30 per KM- so you can try and figure out the math as to where I will be at what times- I think I start at 9:00am but I can't remember what corral I registered under. I'll update when I get my race kit on Friday. UPDATE: I start at 8:50am

Thank you all so so much for all your support and encouragement this summer!

PS- when I first started running seriously my big goal was to run to a white bridge in the west end. I just found out that that EXACT bridge is the image on the medals for this race. While I now have crossed over that bridge many times, it is pretty exciting to be running for it again!!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Friday Bits & Pieces

I feel like writing, but my life has been kind of boring lately (lots of running, lots of eating, lots of sleeping...tis a good life, just not an exciting one!). So I thought I would just throw out a bunch of random thoughts. Hurrah for Fridays! Hurrah for Thanksgiving weekend! (sorry, will need to wait for your turkey)

1. I got a new phone!
it's as big as my face!
My work provides my phone for me, and my boss is a big Apple fan so he gets the "new" iPhone every fall and I take his old one. So I now have an iPhone 6+! I am still getting used to the size (I struggle to text one handed now), but I love it. The battery life is amazing so far. My old phone actually needed to be plugged in 24/7. It could only hold a charge for about an hour and would turn off randomly so I had to carry a portable charger at all times. Right now my new phone is at 50% battery and I think I last charged it 30+ hours ago?? Amazing.

I picked up the paint splatter case from Winners right after getting the phone as my boss never had one. I am such a klutz and I feel the metal phones are so slippery...I need something easier to grip! Plus cases are cute. This was the only one Winners carried in the 6+ size! But I like it!

2. I have too many workout clothes

I am not one of those people who walks around in my active wear (though I do wear my leggings around the condo on occasion). So that means this whole STUFFED drawer is actually clothing just to workout in. And I actually use it all. Who am I? When did I become the type of person with more workout clothes than party clothes? Does this make me a grown up??

3. I found out my microwave has amazing settings

I needed to soften some butter the other day to make cookies, and I realized my microwave has a setting for melting butter?? AND IT WORKS. Like, perfectly. This is amazing. I only got this microwave last winter so maybe this is a new microwave thing? I certainly didn't buy a high end one. I almost wish my ice cream was too hard so I could try the soften ice cream setting, but my freezer keeps my ice cream perfectly spoonable. <-- That is basically the definition of a first world problem.

Also, why is my microwave American? I need to talk to LG about changing their stickers to the metric system up here. I literally cannot figure out what an ounce is to save my life.

4. WTF is this??

I went to the mall last weekend and found a freaking Christmas display in The Bay. It was Oct 3rd!! We haven't even passed Canadian Thanksgiving! What happened to at least waiting until Nov 1?? I swear by next year the stores will be putting out their displays the day after Easter.

Anyway, on that festive note, have a happy Thanksgiving my fellow Canadians! This year I am thankful for my loved ones, my health, and my awesome new phone that stays turned on :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Half Marathon Training: Week 14

Total Miles This Week: 25.75
Total Miles Overall: 347 Miles

Workouts Completed:
Tuesday: 4.75 Miles (4 miles slow- 9:43 avg pace, with faster intervals for last 0.75 miles- 8:50 avg pace)
Thursday: 6 Miles (1 mile slow- 10:05 avg pace, 4 1 mile intervals- 8:31, 8:45, 8:26, and 8:28 respectively [SPEEDY GONZALES OVER HERE], 1 mile slow- 10:43 avg pace)
Saturday: 5 Miles (no time- phone was le broken)
Sunday: 10 Miles (slow- 10:25 avg pace)

This week brought a lot of firsts for me! On Tuesday I did my first ever training run in the rain. I don't know if I just shifted my runs around to avoid the rain all summer, or if I just got lucky, but Tuesday was the first time I ran in the rain. Weird. It was really nice, actually, except I didn't know what to wear. I wore a very light raincoat and was boiling, so I ended up tying it around my waist and then it annoyed me by bumping into my leg. I also wished I had a hat because my face was getting all wet. And I learned my eyebrow glue is definitely not waterproof. All good things to know before my race, in case it rains that day!

Then on Thursday I did intervals and broke into sub 9 minute miles- whoa there!! I definitely took 2 minute walking intervals between each of those, but I was pretty proud of maintaining that speed across all four miles!!

And THEN on Saturday my phone decided turning on was too much of a hassle so I ran sans phone (which means no running app, no watch, and no music/audiobook!). I had previously done this in the MEC Race in September when my phone shut off half way through, but I had never purposely gone out just to "do a run". But I knew the 5 mile turnaround spot by heart, having run many 5 milers this summer and it was actually a really good run. It was cold and like 65km/hr winds so it was challenging for sure, but I never felt like I missed my phone or that I was bored. And since my Saturday run is always an easy pace one, I didn't care about time anyway!

All in all, a good week of running :). I also got some new running gear now that fall has shown up with it's chilly temps and brisk winds. I love Old Navy running gear and I got the following items on sale and wanted to share!

Sweater Fleece Vest
I haven't run in this one yet, but I think it'll be good for staying a bit warmer as the temperatures drop to below 0 (shudder).

Maximum Support Sports Bra
I really didn't have high hopes for this bra as I need a lot of support to keep these ladies under control, but this bra pleasantly surprised me for the price! I find it super comfortable and supportive. I only wish the straps were a little thicker. But I have done a few runs in it now with zero issues!

High-Rise Patterned Compression Leggings in Always Bright Neo Poly
I wish the website had a better shot of these leggings, but they are sooo fun in person. I also love that they basically go up to my ribs (I questioned if they were maternity leggings?). I have such an issue with leggings falling down as I run, but I ran 10 miles in these and never needed to adjust them.

Long-Sleeve Go-Dry Tee in Carbon and Kelp Forest
I bought this shirt in Carbon and loved it so much I went and got the Kelp Forest one too (which is much more green in person than it looks online). They are soo warm and comfortable. I wore one on my 5 miler on Saturday, which was about 6 degrees Celsius and very windy out and at times I actually felt a little TOO warm so I am going to keep these on hand for the really cold days.

As well, I got a fleece hat and a fleece headband from Old Navy to keep my noggin warm in the winter. I also got another pair of running pants from Winners a couple weeks ago that are pretty comfortable and warm. And I picked up some running gloves awhile back.

So all in all I think I am ready for fall and winter running, but we shall see. I am still learning what I like to wear at different temperatures as that really is something that is unique to every person. But I am learning! For instance on Saturday it was 6C and windy and I wore a long sleeved shirt and pants and remembered I felt a bit warm at times. Sunday was a few degrees warmer (9C, but it was sunnier too), and not nearly as windy, so I wore leggings and a Tshirt and was quite comfortable. I will have to keep adjusting as the weather changes!
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