Jamaican Holiday

I’m back, but wishing desperately that I was still in Runaway Bay; the beach at Breezes is beautiful, the people are wonderful, and the pace is so relaxed.  I LOVE the feel of hot sun and humidity on my skin, and I always look my best in tropical climates.  There is something about the air that does wonders for my skin, and my normally fine, limp hair always has oomph from the salt water.

We had a fabulous holiday!  We were able to get in a lot of relaxing in the sun, but we also enjoyed a few tours and some fun activities at the resort.  We spent the better part of one day with a local Jamaican named Alvan Gardner, who drove us up into the hills to Nine Mile to see Bob Marley’s house and mausoleum.  For the entire drive up and back, we asked a lot of questions, and Alvan gave us some great information about real life in Jamaica, while pointing out interesting sights in the hill communities we passed through.  After visiting Nine Mile, Alvan took us to a local Jerk Chicken place (so delicious – much better than the bland stuff they give you at the resort!) and we bought him lunch.  For the last part of our afternoon, he took us to the nearby Green Grotto caves for a historical tour.  We also took a tour to the Captain Hook Pirate Ship in Falmouth for an evening of entertainment and a steak and lobster dinner.  It was a fun night, if a little bit cheesy, and we certainly enjoyed ourselves.

Except for the day we spent with Alvan and the evening we went to the Pirate Ship, we spent the rest of our time at the resort.  We had two spectacular spa treatments: a lovely and relaxing couple’s massage, and a second treatment where Rob had a scrub with accupressure massage and I had a scrub with a milk and honey body wrap and an a-ma-zing foot massage.

We did lounge around by the beach and pool for a good chunk of our time, but Rob and I also spent a lot of time playing beach volleyball with other guests and some of the entertainment staff at the resort.  Rob played volleyball in high school, and still has a pretty mean spike, but I have never really played at all and don’t have much of a skill set, so the others were probably a lot less thrilled to have me on their team.  I don’t completely suck, though, and I’m not afraid to dive into the sand for the ball, so I was able to make at least a tiny contribution on the court!

What I imagined myself looking like while diving for the volleyball


Probably a lot closer to what I REALLY looked like out there!

We also participated in a few of the beach race type fun games, including a Goat race that I’ve been looking forward to since we missed it last year!  I also ran through the resort and on the beach most mornings before taking a quick dip in the ocean to cool off, and I completed a short yoga practice on our balcony almost every morning – the beach running and yoga were lovely, as I knew they would be!

My favourite activity of the whole week came on our second last day:  we did a SCUBA lesson in the pool, and then went for a beautiful dive just a few minutes away from our resort.  It was the coolest experience of my entire life and I can’t wait to do it again!  We found out after our dive that we could have done the lesson on our first day, and then dove for free in different locations all week long.  Sigh.  I guess we will know that for next time, and take fuller advantage of that aspect of our resort.  Neither of us had ever been diving anywhere other than a swimming pool, so it was a brand new experience for both of us, and we are looking forward to a lot more SCUBA diving in the future.  I have some great pics, but we used my parents’ underwater camera and I don’t have the cable that will allow me to transfer the photos to my computer.  As soon as I get that from my mom, I will upload some photos.

While I ate fairly sensibly for an all-inclusive resort, and stayed active all week, I did indulge in a lot of alcohol…plus I ate dessert every night.  Not exactly conducive to making my ass smaller.  Oh well.  C’est la vie!  Tomorrow is a new day, and (at least once I kick this sinus infection that reappeared about 15 minutes after I boarded the plane to come home), I will get right back on the skinny train.


Off to Jamaica, Mon!

So I feel like this has become a pretty standard statement for me, but this week has been hectic (and it’s only Wednesday!): an all day trip to the city with my Mom on Saturday; marking papers, cleaning house, and doing my own yoga homework on Sunday; a jam-packed Monday full of all sorts of things at school – plus Rob came home, but that’s exciting 🙂  Yesterday I taught my fitness class in the morning, taught high school classes all day, went to two appointments after school, and then had to pick up groceries for a school event.  Today we had a “compressed day” of classes, with a staff meeting after school and then Parent-Teacher interviews until 8pm.

Tomorrow is nuts too…Sunrise Sweat class at 6am, then finishing some marking that I’d like to get out of the way, morning supervision before school, a full day of classes, lunch time supervision, the student group I lead has an “eating contest” planned at lunch that I need to get ready and oversee, and then we must have our dogs at the boarding kennel about 2 1/2 hours away by 6pm.  Normally this would be a rush, but apparently they are expecting a crazy snow storm in and around Edmonton tomorrow, so I’m not sure we will make it in time to get the dogs to the kennel 😦  Except that we HAVE to, because Rob and I are headed to Jamaica, mon!  School ends for the day at 3:24, so I will be walking out the door at 3:25; here’s hoping the roads are good.

We are going back to the same resort we got married at last Easter Monday, and we CAN’T WAIT!!!

The water and the beach are just so beautiful in Runaway Bay! This is a dock just a few steps away from our resort; it made for great photo options.
- Photo by Kathy Lovell

It’s not quite our one year anniversary yet (about 3 weeks shy), but the Easter break is really my only option for a holiday, so we’ll take it.  We weren’t really sure if we’d be able to go, but Breezes gave us four anniversary nights free with our wedding package, and we were able to find super cheap flights, so we took the plunge and decided to go back this year.  Last year I ran on that beach in the early mornings, and I’m really looking forward to doing that again.  I’m bringing my travel yoga mat too, so I can practice on the beach after my runs.  It is so very beautiful there, and just the thought of a morning workout in Jamaica makes me want to jump for joy 🙂

Our super awesome wedding party getting some air!
- photo by Kathy Lovell


Glimmers in the Grey

Today sucked – I mean really, REALLY sucked.  My husband goes back to work out-of-town tomorrow, and he had a course there today, so he left last night; I didn’t sleep well, so I was quite exhausted all day.  I also had a doctor’s appointment in the city this morning, and received some pretty gloomy news, which was even more depressing given that I received it all alone.  I don’t want to worry anyone – I am fine, or at least I will be fine – and compared to what many people have to deal with, my medical issues are really insignificant.  It still sucked to get bad news which put a damper on everything we were hoping and planning for, though…and then my negativity started to seep in to other, much more mundane facets of my life.  My salad, for example, irritated me intensely this evening.  Yup, my salad.  You see, Rob made a big bowl of fresh, green salad this weekend, which I was planning to eat tonight, tomorrow, and possibly even Wednesday if there was any left.  When I went to dish some up with my salmon tonight, though, it was soggy, slimy, and turning brown.  I think it’s because there were chopped up bits of tomato in the salad bowl, and their acidity did a number on everything else.  Blech.  Tossed the whole slimy bowl in the garbage – such a waste!  Not something that would normally irritate me so much, though.

Oh well – I still had delicious salmon with carrots and Brussel sprouts, which was enough to fill me up.  Then I had a great telephone conversation with Rob, who is quite sad that he couldn’t come to my appointment with me today.  It’s really not a big deal that he didn’t get to come with me, and I fully support him going for the course he had to take for work.  I really do appreciate his sensitivity about the whole thing, though, and I love him so much more for sincerely regretting that he wasn’t there.  I am blessed with a wonderful husband who loves me and helps me to appreciate the positive.

I also went for a much-needed run to clear my head.  The air was pretty crisp tonight, but I dressed warmly, and the cold helped to keep me focused.  The dogs ran really well, too, and I’m looking forward to snuggling up with them very soon.  They love me even when I’m sad and grumpy, and that reminds me that everything will turn out to be lovely in the end…even if there are a whole bunch of road blocks along the way.

Cold Weather Running Gear

I ran in the cold yesterday morning, and since I know there isn’t a LOT of info out there about cold weather gear, I thought I’d post about what I wore.  The Weather Network showed -22 degrees Celsius (that’s minus 7.6 degrees Fahrenheit for any American readers out there), so I wanted to be sure to stay warm.  It wasn’t a long run; I was only out there running for 25 minutes, and then about 5 more walking/stretching.  I’ve actually never been out longer than 40 minutes when it’s lower than -20; I’m afraid the dogs’ paws won’t handle the cold, so I don’t let them stay out for any longer than that.

I started with a base layer of Merino wool long underwear (both top and bottom) from Coast Mountain Sports.  I’ve had these pieces for quite a while, and couldn’t find a picture of them online.  On top of the long underwear, I layered a Lululemon Run Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve t-shirt.  I have two of these tops – one in a dark pink, and one in purple; I adore them both!  In hindsight, I think I probably could have gotten away with only one of the base layer tops, instead of wearing both the long underwear and the Lulu top, as I was VERY warm.

To round off the layers on top, I wore a third piece:  my Run: Back on Track Jacket, also from Lululemon.  Dear God – I just realized that I might have an addiction to this store.  Oh well, what can you do?  Their stuff is great!  This jacket is roomy enough to wear layers underneath, yet it doesn’t look bulky.  When I bought it, I intended to get it in pink, but they were all out in my size.  I’m glad, actually, since that forced me to try on this one in the grey with pink flecks, and I like it even better.  Plus, since it’s grey, it hides grime a little better than the pale pink would, I’m sure.

On the bottom, over top of my long underwear, I wore my Lululemon Run: Outward Bound pants.  I have also had these pants for a long time, but I do love them.  They are water repellent on the front, and have warm, soft, brushed fabric on the back of the legs to keep me toasty.  They have a draw string at the ankles, which is great!  I’ve been able to wear them long over skates, cinched at the ankles for running/walking, and I even turned them into crops once by cincing them way up by my knees.  My legs were perfectly warm on my run, and these pants are a big part of the reason why.

There are three more pieces that were very important for my run:  toque, gloves and a neck warmer.  The toque is called the Radiance Knit Toque; it is pink with reflective detailing to help keep me safe in low light conditions.  I purchased it from the Running Room a couple of years ago, and I wear it regularly.  Great purchase – it’s a pretty pink, it keeps me safe and warm, and obviously, because it is part of the pink ribbon campaign, purchasing it supports breast cancer research.  Feel good points too!

I wore gloves from the Running Room, but I’m not exactly sure what kind they are, and I can’t seem to find them online.  I can tell you that they were rated for cold (though I do believe there was an option to go a level colder when I bought them last year).  They keep me quite warm in cold weather when I am running, but I think I would want something with a bit more insulation if I was walking or doing an activity that didn’t keep me moving quite as fast.

My neck warmer is from the Running Room also: the Dryline Neckwarmer.  It is very light weight and not bulky at all, plus it covers my neck to keep me warm, and I can pull it up over the bridge of my nose in cold conditions to keep the air moist before I breath it in.  While the elastic band over the nose can be a bit snug, it isn’t uncomfortable, and the mesh panel allows me to breath comfortably while preventing the intake of dry, cold air directly into my lungs.

I didn’t wear anything on my feet besides my regular Asics running shoes and running socks.  Sometimes the tops of my feet feel cool through the upper mesh on my shoes, but once I get moving and my body warms up, it doesn’t bother me any more.  I have considered different socks, and will probably look for a warmer pair the next time I have the opportunity to stop by Coast Mountain Sports or the Running Room.  I have worn Due North Spikes, for added traction, but I find them more of a hindrance than a help.  They have been know to pop off of my shoes, and I’m always a little scared that I will step on one of the dogs’ paws with the spikes.  Where I live, most people are good about clearing their sidewalks, and I just watch where I’m running and tread carefully, so shoes without any added traction seem to be just fine.  Thus far (I feel like I should find some wood to knock on!), I haven’t had any ice-related spills.  All in all, I don’t mind running in the cold – especially when I get out on a weekend a little later in the morning so that the sun is shining bright in the sky.  While I know that cold weather running isn’t the way to improve my times or anything like that, I do enjoy the briskness – it’s a great wake up, and a lovely way to start my day!

Motivation Meltdown

I’ve read a lot of posts tonight about having a lack of motivation, and as much as I hate to hear about others who are struggling, it is nice to know that I’m not alone.  This past week has been VERY tough on me:  I am into my no-prep semester, which means that I am teaching full days, without any breaks at all.  There are four class sessions within my day, and because of split classes, I am now teaching six classes in a four period day.  I spent the majority of the weekend at school just trying to stay on top of things.  On top of that, I am also teaching the morning fitness classes (and contemplating adding in one more per week), plus managing our household and taking care of the dogs on my own.  My darling husband is still working out-of-town, so for the time being it is all on me.  Add to that my own homework to stay on top of my yoga teacher training, and I’m beginning to feel like I may have “bitten off more than I can chew.”  It’s been tough, to say the least, but I have managed to fit in a few good workouts this week!

I got in two good runs on the weekend and had a great yoga class tonight.  Monday was my rest day, so I had every intention of running Tuesday morning, but my body decided that it needed an extra hour of sleep instead.  Sometimes you just have to listen when your body tells you to slow down, I guess!

I teach my circuit class at 6:15 tomorrow morning (I will be off to bed very soon!), and I have a few more good workouts planned for the rest of the week, so I am still mostly on track…sometimes it’s just a lot more difficult finding the energy to fit in a good sweat session than I want it to be.

But let’s conjure up the positive, shall we?  I have managed to fit in some good workouts amid the chaos, I’m rather enjoying the students in my new classes, and I’ve been able to eat well and (mostly) stick to Cycle 1 of the 17 Day Diet.  Really, I amazingly successful!

My Favourite Running Buddies

I have two running buddies – yup two, and they are the best running buddies that a girl could ask for.  Meet Jax (the blond one) and Naava (pronounced “Nay-va” – the black one):

Photo by Kathy Lovell - click to link to her Facebook page

We have absolutely no idea what kind of dog Jax is.  My brother Ryan brought him home as a two month old puppy about six years ago, after a May long weekend camping with his buddies in Saskatchewan.  Two puppies were wandering around the campsites scavenging for food after their mother had been hit by a car, so Ryan and his friends fed them for the weekend.  A family from another camp site took the other puppy, and when Jax just sat there staring at him as Ryan packed up his campsite, Ry decided that he couldn’t just leave him there.  He brought him home, and all of a sudden I had a dog.  A good dog, who never wanted to leave my side.

Naava came into my life only a few months after my husband, Rob did.  I had been looking for another dog as a playmate for the then 1 1/2 year old Jax.  I contacted Terra at PARS in High Prairie (where I was living at the time), and took Jax to meet her.  I told her about our lifestyle, and about what kind of dog I was looking for, and then toured her facility meeting a bunch of dogs.  None of them seemed right for us, but Terra promised to keep her eyes open.  About a month later, she called me up saying “I think I’ve found your dog.”  I went out to meet “Peanut,” who was your typical prairie dog: a Border Collie crossed with who knows what, about two years old.  They knew she had already had at least one litter of puppies, and she had been picked up by the Grande Prairie Peace River SPCA (Thanks Terra for the correction!) as an emaciated dog who had been surviving by eating a rotting carcass in a ditch.  She was really skinny when I met her for the first time (even though she’d already been getting food and medical care from the SPCA for about a month) and had an injured front paw, but she loved me with her whole being, even though I was a complete stranger.  I couldn’t help but love her back, so I brought her home to meet Jax, and gave her a brand new name – it means “beautiful,” and she is.

It didn’t go well at first.  She was injured and scared and wanted nothing to do with Jax, who was so excited to have another dog around that he just wanted to play.  It took a few days for her to come around, but they eventually became the best of friends, and now they are inseparable.  I can’t even take one of them to the vet without the other one freaking out; I just load them both into the vehicle if either one of them needs to go anywhere.

Jax and Naava are good dogs, well, at least they are good dogs most of the time.  They perform simple commands when we tell them to, lie down while we are preparing and eating food, come when they are called, and ring a little bell when they have to go out to do their business.  They do jump over our fence occasionally to play with other neighbourhood dogs (or eat the food left out by the owners of the poor little dog who is always chained up outside and wearing a bark collar – I feel so sad for him!), but when I call and go after them, they come back almost immediately.  I guess they did chase a little terrier around the neighbourhood for a couple of minutes about a month ago, but in their defence, that little terrier is always running around the neighbourhood, nips at Jax’ heels when we run by, and had been in our yard taunting Jax and Naava in their dog run only a few minutes before hand.  That was my bad.  I should have waited until I knew the pesky dog was gone before letting them out of their run.  Instead, I came home, shooed the dog away (or at least I thought I did), and then let my dogs out.  The terrier was apparently still in my front yard, and Jax was over the fence before I even had time to say his name.  Naava, who loves her brother very much, followed immediately.  Whoops.

I didn’t lie and tell you that they are always good because I am trying to make a point:  they are always on their best behaviour when we run regularly.  During those two months where I was at the peak of my back/leg pain and wasn’t able to run at all, Jax and Naava wanted to explore our neighbourhood A LOT more often.  They were still getting walks, but I was walking very slowly, and I know they weren’t burning the energy that they needed to.  When we run regularly, they are angels; it doesn’t matter if the poor chained up dog with the bark collar has a full bowl of food only two houses away – they don’t jump the fence to go there; they are content to play in the yard and lounge around the living room.  They already burned off the excess energy on our run, and don’t need to explore the neighbourhood.

Jax and Naava are always excited to go for a run; they don’t care if it’s cold, or raining, or really early in the morning.  Motivation is not a problem for these two, in fact, they are pretty much the greatest motivation for me.  Forget wedding dresses, bikinis and high school reunions – aside from running to feel good for me, I run because my dogs need the exercise.  If you are a dog person, have the time/energy/lifestyle to adopt a rescue (or even a purebred if you really feel the need – though I advocate for rescues always!), and are – or want to be – a runner, then get down to your local shelter and adopt a running buddy or two.  I promise you that your new running buddy will be all the motivation you will need to get your butt out of bed or off the couch each day.  Your new running buddy will enhance your life in a myriad of other ways as well, and if you decide to go the rescue route, you will be saving a dog’s life too!  How can that NOT give you the motivation to run?

Why I am Grateful for the Bull*%!& of a Pinched Sciatic Nerve

Yes, you read that right.  Grateful – really and truly, no kidding around here.  As much as having a pinched sciatic nerve sucked, I am also thankful that it happened.  Here’s why:

1. It got me a month away from work.  That part was lovely and terrifying all at the same time, but nobody died and life went on without me.  Sure, a few of my grade 12 students were stressed out that they wouldn’t be ready to write their English Language Arts Diploma Exam, but I’m pretty confident that they will indeed be ready in a few days when they have to write.  Most of my students still learned some stuff, and I realized that I need to stop taking myself and my career so seriously.  It is perfectly all right to focus more on me than on creating a perfect lesson (which often ends up moving in a different direction than I had planned, anyway!).  That month gave me time away from the stress of lesson planning, marking, and disciplining, and it allowed me some time to move closer to being healed.

2. It gave me time for pleasure reading.  I am a high school English Language Arts teacher, so you would think I would get to read a lot.  I suppose that I do read a lot, but I wouldn’t exactly call reading high school essays “pleasure reading.”  Occasionally student papers are quite good, and more often, the really bad ones are quite laughably entertaining.  I do read for pleasure, though I don’t get to do this as often as I would like, and regularly when I DO engage in pleasure reading it takes me so long to finish a book that I forget parts of the story.  I even joined a book club* in an effort to make myself read something other than student work and academic/professional development pieces; quite often I enjoy the books that are picked, though sometimes I REALLY don’t like them at all.  While I was away from work with my pinched sciatic nerve, I was able to read four whole books* that I picked out all by myself for no reason other than wanting to read them, and I thoroughly enjoyed each and every one!

3. It made me realize how much I love running.  I REALLY enjoy running; not being able to do it made me sad.  I don’t think I actually realized how important running had become for me until I wasn’t able to do it – now that I know, I can prevent myself from taking the ability to run for granted ever again.

4. It brought me back to yoga.  I previously posted about the universe bringing us things – sometimes it presents an idea to us so many times that we just can’t (or at least shouldn’t!) ignore it, and other times the universe allows forces pushes us to learn, grow, see, etc. simply because the time is right.  I think that my return to yoga is a combination of these two things:  I hadn’t practiced any yoga at all for almost six years, but the opportunity to practice and/or learn more about it had been “popping up” all over the place pretty regularly for quite a while.  I think the universe was trying to tell me that I should do yoga again, but I basically ignored all of those messages.  When I had to stop running and weight training, though, I needed something active to do, and almost all of the health care and fitness professionals I encountered suggested yoga.  I hadn’t been listening to the universe, so it stopped making suggestions…and basically forced me to practice again.  Okay, the universe did not hold a gun to my head, but it did push me in the right direction!

If it wasn’t for the pinched sciatic nerve, it would have taken me much longer to renew my appreciation for yoga.  I remembered how much I enjoy practicing – for both my body and my mind – and now I am in the process of becoming a certified instructor (another one of those universe brought me here things – it just fell into place so perfectly)!

Thank you pinched sciatic nerve – I appreciate you!

* The best part of my book club is NOT the books – it is the great conversation with a group of fabulous, intelligent and funny ladies…and the wine.  The wine is pretty good too.

* The books I read are The Road(Cormac McCarthy), The Birth House(Ami McKay), Galore (Micheal Crummey), and Water for Elephants (by Sara Gruen).  This last one was actually for my book club, but I suggested it, and would have read it even if the book club hadn’t chosen it, so I’m including it here.