Archive | February, 2011

The Hibou: Nipissing U Newspaper and My Arrogance

28 Feb

Nipissing University Campus Newspaper, The Hibou

I went to my parents’ place on Saturday night, and as soon as I walked into the front entrance, I was immediately greeted with a blast from the past: Editions of the Nipissing University campus newspaper, The Hibou, circa 2004.

My parents had organized their files and The Hibou didn’t make the cut. They were mine to take home.

Flashback: In my last year at Nipissing University, I was lucky enough to get the editor’s gig for the re-launch of the university campus newspaper. The Nipissing University Student Union brought it back to life, and they (mostly) gave me free rein to write and layout the newspaper.

I was excited for the challenge and couldn’t wait to showcase my university through the written word. All I needed was a hat with a piece of paper attached to it that read, Press.

I worked with some amazing volunteers who helped me with writing, proofreading and laying out the newspaper. I even got to interview Joey and Snake from Degrassi High (Zit Remedy, anyone?). I shared an office with my ‘second boyfriend’. I loved every facet of the job.

In fact, I enjoyed the work so much, I dropped my plans for teacher’s college and applied to journalism school. The world was my journalistic oyster, and all that crap jazz.

Flash Forward:  So when I opened the extra copies my parents had saved for 7 years, and scanned over my own work, I couldn’t believe what I read. I gasped. I cringed. I eeked. I then asked – to no one in particular – ‘I went into journalism school with that writing style and understanding of how to write a story?!’

Even worse, for years I thought my editorial column in The Hibou was hilarious. At least that’s what my dad told me. But reading these pieces on the weekend, they sounded arrogant. And quite frankly, kind of annoying.

I wrote about drinking beer. My long-lasting crush on Mike Fisher. I even insulted a friend because she’s from Spencerville. She can’t help that!

I don’t know whether to laugh or simply apologize to Nipissing University readers.

At least I can look at these papers and console myself that though my writing may have been questionable, it was the start of a challenging, but rewarding journey in journalism.

Better yet, seeing these Hibou pieces shows me how far I’ve come when it comes to crafting stories and writing columns. At least that’s what my dad tells me.


Post-Race Motivation Loss

26 Feb

Jamally and I Following the Race

Bad food and lethargic behaviour has been on my agenda this past week, which is typical behaviour for me post-race.

After completing last weekend’s half marathon, my motivation to lace up my running shoes and go for a run dwindled. A lot.

My legs have fully recovered from the run, but my mind hasn’t. I’m tired, and just want to take it easy. I’ve managed to make it out to one boot camp class, but that’s all I want to do right now.

With talks happening about completing a marathon for the first time this spring, there really isn’t any time to dilly-dally (is that how you spell it?) about training. If I wanted to do the Ottawa Race Weekend’s Marathon, then this Sunday’s long run calls for a 26-km trek. Even saying it makes me tired – and very whiny! I’d prefer a glass of wine, pizza and a good, long nap.

Today my sister and I are going out for a run, so hopefully it will inspire motivation.

Have you ever experienced this post-race motivation factor? Share your thoughts with me!

Other Thoughts?

1. My post-race hair was awful. It was in a complete messed-up balls of knots. I think it’s time for a haircut.
2. I don’t think any of the Jersey Shore characters like The Situation. 
3. After talking about marital annoyances, Jamally came home that same day with a dozen roses, not even knowing I had blogged about the topic (insert foot here).

Happy Weekend!

I Need Some Negativity Here, People…

24 Feb

…Or Just Some Awesome Facebook Posts

I feel like my most recent posts have been quite heartwarming pieces.

I met my half marathon goal. I have great friends. Jamally is a good husband. Blah. blah. blah.

If I want to keep my readership numbers up, I should jump on the negativity train, right. A lot of times we are interested in reading up on people’s lives to see if anything bad is going on. It’s kind of like watching a car crash. You can’t take your eyes off it.

The same can be said for Facebook status updates. The more negative the status, the better the read. The more positive the status, these people are classified as annoying.

But there is the odd exception.

And this exception is one of my Facebook friends. We went to high school together, are a few years apart, and played vball together in a Wednesday-night league throughout my university days. We are not close, but he makes me smile at least once a week.

And it’s because his Facebook status ROCK. I love them more than I love the Baby Bullet (Sidenote: I want the Baby Bullet. No, I don’t have a baby nor am I pregnant. It’s just that advertising works well on me).

This Facebook Friend’s Statuses are simple comments on life’s happenings, and how they can be ‘awesome’.

Here’s a Sampling:

“An absolute perfect parallel park with 3 passengers cheering you on… awesome”

“When someone’s trying to convince you they did not just get up at 1 o’clock but they have huge red sleep marks all over their face… awesome”

“The smell of spring… awesome”

“When Milhouse wrote ‘Milpool’ on Bart’s cast… awesome”

“Taking off your wet bathing suit and putting on warm clothes after you’ve swam for a while… awesome”

Aren’t they  terrific? Every time he posts these Facebook statuses up, I smile at his cleaver takes on life. I don’t have to analyze his life achievements, and he simply gives me a good dose of the feel goods… Awesome.

Bringing Old Friends Back Into the Mix

24 Feb

When you first start dating your boyfriend or girlfriend, you know part of the initiation involves meeting their friends. You have to smile, laugh at their jokes, and try to act cool while doing your best not to send any crazy vibes their way. Whether you like it or not, these friends will become a part of your life.

In this sometimes sticky relationship category, I got pretty lucky. Actually, I got pretty darn lucky.

But this story really does starts with a trip to French Immersion School. When doesn’t it, really?

In Grade 5, I decided to enrol in French Immersion classes only for one reason: Because my best friend was going so I went, too (we even wore the same purple LA Gear sweatshirt to our first day of class – egad). Regardless of why I went, I was terrible at French. And obviously fashion. But that’s besides the point…

To get study in the French Immersion program, we had to leave our current school, hop on a bus and take a 20-minute trip to the next town to another school, as it was the only local school offering the FI course. I think there were nine of us who left our local school grounds, and only three boys came with us: Conor, Richard and Dan.

We spent a lot of time together over those four years at the French Immersion Elementary School, and continued to do so throughout high school as we went from learning French verbs to writing essays in French (My Grade 12 French essay on Pierre Trudeau would have made him roll over in his grave, I’m sure – my French skills never really took a good turn). Though we had those French classes to keep our core group together, we drifted apart making news friends along the way. While our friendships dwindled in high school, Conor, Richard and Dan became friends with Jamally.

So when I first started dating Jamally in university, I realized something. I was going to get to bring these old friends back into the mix.

Sure enough, Conor, Richard and Dan became a part of my life again. And whenever we see them, it feels as though we left off from the last time we visited with them. I especially love it when we rehash our French Immersion days, while our partners shoot us tired stares.

Conor and Dan Before the Decathlon Challenge

Family Day decathlon

This past weekend we hung out together again as a group, and I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. The night consisted of Richard and Dan taking part in a decathlon, and we got to craft the challenges. From a poetry contest to a film documentary, the boys showcased their best work and we voted on the best work. Who was the winner? In all honesty, as cheesy as it sounds – wait for it – I feel like I am, for getting to have these boys back into the mix. They are good friends to my husband, and I’ve feel like I’ve been grandfathered into this friendship circle. Crazy vibes and all.


The Half Marathon Secret Number – Finally!

22 Feb

When I decided to run my first half marathon in 2005 (after my grandmother told me at a family dinner I was packing on the pounds – seriously), I kept a secret number in my head. Two.

I wanted to complete the half marathon in two hours. Anything under would be amazing. I ran the Toronto Half Marathon in October, 2005, and while I enjoyed my first 21.1-km race, I was a mess. A shear emotional wreak. I ran two other half marathons with the same secret number in my head, but to my avail, the number never came.

2:10. 2:11. 2:07.

Those are my half marathon times. True, it’s a huge accomplishment to even be able to hammer out a half marathon, but there’s pride in numbers. And I know it all comes down to the negative self-talk I do during these races. I don’t need Dr. Phil to tell me that.

I haven’t completed a half marathon in 2.5 years, and since my last emotionally draining half marathon, I started boot camp with Kris Plant, and have gained some mental toughness and some strong legs.

Real Runners. My sister (right) and I after completing the race.

But it’s when I convinced my sister to run the Winterman Half Marathon with me, I knew the secret number was in the bag. She just completed her first half last fall, and she’s a bulldog. When she wants to get something done, she gets it done and doesn’t leave anything behind. Her first half marathon time? 1:57. Oh ya, baby. She was the driving force I needed to complete my half marathon mission.

So on Sunday, we lined up at the Winterman Half Marathon together and took off. It was a five-km course we had to repeat four times, with an extra 1.1-km route to wrap up the distance. All I have to say is, Holy Hills. The entire course was either climbing a hill or descending. I am fine with running in -15-degree weather. But those hills. They were brutal.

On our fourth lap, I started to mentally crumble. Sure enough, the bulldog came through and told me on our fourth lap, “Look, fast or slow, it’s gonna hurt either way, so just do it fast.” After nearly shedding some tears and some kind words, I shook it off, and ran with a right hip that felt like it was chiseling away at my bones.

Keeping up with the bulldog, we crossed the finish line together.1:58.41.

I finally reached below the secret number and I couldn’t be happier. And I credit my sister for getting me through. She gets annoyed with that comment. I may have the lungs and legs, but I don’t have the mental toughness she carries with her. So I used some of hers yesterday and am so grateful to have gotten past that mental block.

Jamally (husband) completed the 10-km race, and following a quick trip home combined with a nap/pizza, we headed to a friend’s place in Ottawa. This will be tomorrow’s report. And let’s just say it involved a decathlon and two documentaries on a kitten we like to call, Mr. Fuzzy Face.

A great day.

Perth Kilt Run

19 Feb

2010 Perth Kilt Run

Perth Kilt Run Breaks Guinness Record

Originally named after Perth, Scotland, my hometown feels a connection to its Scottish roots, and last year, residents wanted to do something to commemorate our sister town’s 800th birthday.

So Perth, Canada ran.

Organized by local running shop, The Running Goat, the Perth Kilt Run was organized and the concept was amazingly creative. Slap on a kilt, run 8km and call the Guinness Book of World Records.

Each participant got a True-to-Scottish-Tradition authentic kilt in their race kit and were required to wear it for the race. The 8km distance was a way to honour Perth, Scotland’s 8th century celebrations, and tackling a Guinness Book of World Record for the Most People Running While Wearing a Kilt was icing on the cake, as the Perth race only had to have more than 250 people run in the event to beat the running (punny!) record.

The race sold out in a matter of weeks and last summer, more than 1,000 runners laced their running shoes and tightened their kilts. Running through the streets of Perth and through Canada’s oldest golf course, the Perth Golf Course, the Perth Kilt Run, needless to say, was a huge hit.

I couldn’t run it last year because we were originally set to go Toronto that same weekend for a wedding. But a little event called the G20 summit forced the Toronto couple to reschedule their wedding. By that time, the race was already sold out, though it was just as fun to go and watch the race.

Just this week the Guinness Book of World Records confirmed the Perth Kilt Run met the record standards, and our town now holds the world record for Most People Running While Wearing a Kilt. Very cool.

The race’s success spurred race organizers to do it again this year, and it takes place July 2, 2011 and Perth, Scotland’s Provost will be on the sidelines this year to see it for himself. I ensured I signed up early so that I could take part in this year’s race. Now I just have to practice running in a kilt!

Learn more about the Perth Kilt Run.

Ugly Running Photos

17 Feb

This weekend, I will be lining up at the start line for the Ottawa Winterman Half Marathon. It’s a challenging course in that the temperatures aren’t exactly going to be balmy. Rather, the current forecast projects a -6 degree high (yay!), but it will feel like -15 degrees (boo!).

While we will trek around a 5-km course four times, we are sure to pass the photography company assigned to shoot us runners flying by round after round. After round. After round. Can we say photo opp?

I can only assume the photos will capture frozen nose hairs, chunky clothing and red, puffy faces. Regardless of the cold temps, there’s no hiding it – running photos aren’t always pretty. Just Ask Katie Holmes.

Maybe Katie Holmes is a bad example, but when we are working our hardest to go our fastest, sometimes our faces don’t demonstrate the best in show. Although I do have one friend who takes great race-day photos. You know who you are, Pippy! 


For me, being self-conscious about my running stature started before my running days. It started in Grade 5, when I sucked in my baby fat cheeks while we had to do sprint relays around the gym. I didn’t want the boys to laugh at my cheeks. Good reason, right?

I completed the Where’s Franktown 5-km Road Race last May, hoping to do a PB. It was rainy, cold and hard. I did PB, beating my best time by five whole seconds, but it wasn’t pretty, and neither was my photo.

Later that month, I completed my first ever Try-A-Tri. I loved doing the tri so much, and had a blast completing it with a friend! We laughed a lot that day, and I checked off a bucket list item. But when I got home, I saw the pics. Not only is my shirt on backwards, I thought I looked awful!

Real Triathletes Wear Their Shirts Backwards

But let’s put our pride aside for a moment. Sometimes race-day photos can be pretty, even if the image doesn’t look like it. While it may highlight drool, sweat and tears (and perhaps baby fat cheeks, too), race-day photos also capture big milestones. Qualifying for Boston. Completing a first five-km race during a weight-loss journey. Running on behalf of a charity. These are the reasons why we run. Not for the photo finishes.

I did a five-km PB and a Try-A- Tri, but instead I focus on my ugly prints.

So when I review this weekends’ photos with frozen nose hairs in stride, I’ll do my best to laugh it off and realize it’s not about the photo, but the finish.