where in the world

Got the travel bug? Looking for something a little more exciting than a snow globe or postcard?

My parents are going to Germany and they’ll be passing through the Black Forest. The first things I said when I heard this was, DO NOT bring me home a cuckoo clock! Turns out they had no intention to do so however, I had to make it clear that one day, I will go to the Black Forest and pick out the most perfect, be it slightly ridiculous, cuckoo clock. It’s on my bucket list!

This conversation got me thinking about the sub-sections on my bucket list (yes, my bucket list is categorized) and I realized I have two distinct travel categories:

  • Places I want to visit (Maui, Italy, Amsterdam, India, South American, to name a few)
  • Souvenirs from places around the world

Souvenirs from places may seem like and odd category however hear me out, they’re the most perfect way to remember a holiday. Sure, I can get a cuckoo clock anywhere but one from Germany would be so much more special. Same goes for a beautiful rug or a new blanket. I often bring home prints (posters), tea towels or Christmas ornaments, which are all great but below are the things that I’m holding out for when I hopefully make it to these places one day.

Germany : The Black Forest : A cuckoo clock

Germany is a country both Mike and I really want to visit so it’s made both categories. He wants to go to Oktoberfest, I’d like to run the Berlin Marathon but mostly, I have always wanted to go to the Black Forest and get a Cuckoo Clock!

hellosunshine_blackforest_cuckooImage (L / R)

Morocco : Marrakech : A wedding blanket / rugs! / pillows

Editing down what I’d want from Morocco would be my biggest problem. That, and figuring out how to transport several 8 x 10 rugs home. I think a wedding blanket would be more practical. Toss in some pillows and a pouf too please!

hellosunshine_moroccoImage (L / R)

New Zealand : Something warm & fuzzy

Ideally I’d like a sheep but, I’ll take a nice wool blanket. My Dad worked in New Zealand when I was little and he brought back Maori dolls which were pretty fantastic. Sheep are my very favourite animal and I may loose my mind with excitement over there.

hellosunshine_nz_sheepImage (L / R)

Russia : Matryoshka doll (nesting doll)

Ignoring the cold temps, Russia is a place I’d love to visit. Holy architecture! I’ve always loved Matryoshka dolls and remember playing with a friend’s set when we were kids. Now that I think about it, we were likely not supposed to be playing with them, but I digress. They’re so beautiful and I love the colours. My bookshelf needs this.

hellosunshine_russia_dollsImage (L / R)

Switzerland : A Swatch (and throw in some chocolate)

I have been to Switzerland and I already have a few too many Swatches but I think they’re the most perfect souvenir for anyone planning to travel there – something that will always remind you of a good time. hah! (I’d also like a St Bernard)

hellosunshine_swiss_swatchImage (L / R)

***

We’re heading out west next month for an Ackerman Family Ski Holiday and the one thing I hope to NOT bring home is a cast.

hellosunshine_whistlerImage (L / R)

Let me know what’s on your souvenir bucket list? And let me know what’s the best souvenir you brought home. I am very curious!

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cold case

Winter is here. And with it comes the start of ski season.

To make the cold weather more bearable, I’ve recruited a new ski bunny to join me on the slopes and she asked me to make her a list of what to wear on and off the hill when we go away for a week in March.

The thing with skiing in the Maritimes is the weather is very unpredictable and usually pretty wet. Our winters are windy with high precipitation and it gets cold! Not a dry cold like other parts of Canada but an under-your-skin damp cold.

Fun right? Not always, which is why if you’re going to face this climate, you best be prepared and bundle up.

I’ve had the same ski jacket for more than ten years so I’m on the hunt for something which will keep me warm but look good and I have been eying the winter jackets from Fjällräven Canada.

jackets

I love wearing a light padded jacket with a shell on the slopes. The shell keeps the wind away and I stay toasty with the padded jacket underneath. If the sun comes out and the day warms up, off goes a layer! The Iceland Anorak is a great choice for every day wear – plus, I love the side zips and the big front pocket.

So with my new jackets picked, here are my On The Slopes and Après Ski essentials for our ski holiday:

on-the-slopes

  1. Fjällräven : Women’s Keb Eco-Shell Jacket
  2. Fjällräven : Women’s Keb Padded Jacket
  3. Burton : Women’s anon. Insight Goggles
  4. Smith : Women’s Holt Helmet
  5. Helly Hansen : Women’s Warm Freeze 1/2 Zip
  6. Helly Hansen : Women’s Warm Pant
  7. Smart Wool : PhD Slopestyle Medium Wenke Socks
  8. Fjällräven : Gear Duffel
  9. Smart Wool : Women’s Isto Sport Sweater
  10. The North Face : Women’s Sally Pants
  11. Fjällräven : Keb Fleece Balaclava
  12. Burton : Women’s GORE-TEX Mitt + Gore warm technology

apresski

  1. Fjällräven : Women’s Iceland Anorak
  2. Oakley : Women’s Forehand Sunglasses
  3. Lululemon : Women’s Studio Pant III (Lined)
  4. Fjällräven : Kiruna Beanie
  5. Fjällräven: Totepack No. 1
  6. Sorel : Women’s Out N About Leather Duck Boot
  7. Towsen : Après Ski Sweater

Happy trails!

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life lately

Halloween to New York and back again. Here’s life lately:

I discovered a pumpkin carving hack online – cookie cutters! My creation was titled “Stars Hollow”. David scored lots of candy and I am proud to say I didn’t eat one piece until after the marathon, which is pretty much my biggest achievement in life.

Filled up on Julian’s – carb loading before New York. I made their signature cream cheese and chive spread myself.img_6717img_6730David and Mike’s new favourite hang out. The blur flying out of the yellow slide is my son.img_6723First time watching Michael Jackson’s Thrillerimg_6728Final race of the year for David: Second place at the Beazly. There was a parent run which we made Mike do. He wants to be sure you know he finished in a three-way tie for first
img_6746img_6743Meetings at Dalhouse University always end with a salad from Pete’s
img_6754I am kind of in to having a niece close by. Jill and Alex need to take full advantage of my willingness to babysitimg_6855Off to New York! I spent the 6-hour layover in Toronto hydrating and taking selfiesimg_6864img_6866We rode the subway a lot. David’s highlight from the trip was watching a guy breakdance in a car. A low was probably when we arrived at the Times Square station only an hour after someone was pushed to their death (dun dun…)img_6869img_6870Coffee stop in Brooklyn. I take pictures of coffee shops for my friend, Nancyimg_6871And here’s where we stayed in Brooklynimg_6876Who’s running the NEW YORK CITY MARATHON tomorrow? It’s me! (read about it here)img_6880So this was a big deal for Davidimg_6881Clearly, he’s an urban kid img_6884My sister and neice came down for the afternoon and we toured the Intrepid. The kids loved it.img_6891img_6892My mom and I found the Highline and took a strollimg_6894img_6928img_6929img_6936David, Mike and my Dad went to an Oilers vs. New York Islanders game and they had a great time. The Barkley Center was really close to our place and the game went in to overtimeimg_6942Ground Zero. The last time I was in New York, it was just a construction siteimg_6946img_6949We found a Ben and Jerrys in the Rockefeller! I tried Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Dough and it was so goodimg_6954At the top of the Rockefeller – amazing views!img_6963img_6966img_6967img_6973The eve of the election and I was feeling pretty optimisic… img_6976A stoll through Central Park – spotted the filming of Oceans Eight. We were told Rhianna, Cate and Sandra were right thereimg_6978img_6979img_6981img_6982img_6983img_6986img_6987Times Square with all of the big screens was very overwhelming for a kidimg_6992Yup, we were still feeling pretty excited about the election on the eve ofimg_6993Last supper in Brooklynimg_6995Oh and this was being filmed on our street where we were stayingimg_6996Peace out NYCimg_6998Back to reality. School drop off. This is hopefulimg_7005Remembrance Day service in Point Pleasant Park img_7013Run and coffee date with the bestie and holiday cups make me happy!img_7019Someone is pretty excited about finishing all of his swimming levelsimg_7067 Edith came over for the evening while her parents went out, it was a school night so she had to help with French homeworkimg_7073The Movember Run happened – it was a mini reunion for the Fundy Dippers (7 out of 10 girls were able to make it!) Henry and I ran in the dog division but took a short cut back to the finish to see the runners come in (sometimes it’s fun to be a cheerleader instead) Sorry for the blur, but Robyn and Erica flew by too fast!  img_7084 Speaking of Henry – happy eleventh birthday! I am happy-sad about this. He’s the best.img_7092 And that’s a wrap. All the races are over for the year… We ended on a high note with the Youth Running Series pizza/pool party. David took home 2nd place overall for the musquito boys. We’re pretty impressed, especially considering he missed the first three races. Next year he moves up to PeeWee and I can’t say enough how great this program is for kids. ($25 for 11 event) img_7095In conclusion, sometimes its okay to make fun of yourself thanks-telling-me-about-your-weekend-social-media-funny-ecard-gp8

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empire state of mind : NYC marathon 2016

I have been trying to figure out if this will be a positive or negative race recap… so please bear with me.

After running Chicago last year, I was itching to try another marathon – I was on a personal best high and loved the energy of a big city race – the crowds offered so much positive energy that I decided to sign up for the biggest marathon possible: The TCS New York City Marathon assuming I’d probably not get in (my last attempt to get in the lottery was a bust three years in a row about 10 years ago). But oops, I got in and so began training.

The thing about running a marathon (I’ve now done 5) is it’s more about the training than the actual run and my training had always been just running but not thinking about speed and tempos. I decided I wanted to chisel some time off my PB (3:56.20) and thought about finding a coach however, in the end, I went with the more affordable option – I purchased Hal Higdon’s Marathon – The Ultimate Training Guide and enrolled in their 18-week online Advanced Marathon Training Peaks program. It provided daily emails and a well-detailed plan which involved 6 runs a week (from 48 to 95 km / week). This was a lot more running than I’ve ever done but I stuck to it and really noticed an improvement in my speed and strength. In the end, I was confident that I could reach my race goal: sub 3:50

Tip: Always have 5 goals for a marathon because you’ll never know what will happen during 42.2 km! Mine are 1. Show up. 2. Finish 3. Finish Strong 4. Personal Best 5. Goal Time

But about a week or so before the race (during the dreaded taper), I started reading a TON of NYC race recaps and online advice. Despite everything I read:

  • It is a tough course
  • The second half is harder than the first so less than 5% get negative splits
  • It is about the experience and not a race where you’ll likely get your fastest time
  • It starts late in the day (10:15 am  for me) but I’d have to get up at 4:30 to get to the start line on Staten Island
  • It starts on the biggest uphill and there is another long incline at the end (plus there are 5 bridges)
  • Its crowded (+50,000 runners)

I still thought I could hit my goal … SPOILER: Nope.

So here’s how it all went down 

We arrived in New York on Friday evening and went straight to the expo. Although Chicago had a huge expo, this one felt really overwhelming… I am not sure if it was due to a long day of travel, but I was exhausted and only stayed long enough to grab my kit, a souvenir hoodie and my Nuun water bottle. We met up with my parents and took the subway back to Brooklyn for pizza and checked in to our lovely airbnb Brownstone in Park Slope (great neighbourhood!). The next morning, (the day before the marathon), Mike and I went for a 3km shakeout run in Prospect Park (great park, 500 m from our place). After, we left for Manhattan and met my sister and niece for an afternoon tour of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. On our way home, Mom and I found the Highline and could not resist quick stroll. Mike, David and my dad had tickets for the Islanders vs. Oilers game so mom and I went home and made spaghetti.nyc-marathon_2 nyc-marathon_3 nyc-marathon_4 nyc-marathon_5 nyc-marathon_7The next morning my alarm went off at 4:30 (which actually felt like 5:30 thanks to Daylight Savings) and Mike and I were out the door and on the Subway by 5:00. I signed up for the 6:00 am ferry to Staten Island and after the boat ride, a bathroom stop in the terminal and then the shuttle bus ride, I was at the start village for around 7:30-8:00. Only leaving me +2 hours to kill. The ferry is great – you go right by the Statue of Liberty and feel like a rock star because of the police escort following along. I was really happy I brought extra clothing, a hat, mittens, a towel and a plastic bag to keep me warm because it was about 8 degrees and a little windy. Since I selected the post-race poncho, everything I brought with me was left in one of their Good Will donation bins. I ate my bagel and some chews and waited.

Not going to sugar coat it… The start for me was the hardest. You wait around a long time (from wake-up to run time was 6 hours!) questioning how much to eat and drink and how many times you can wait in line to pee (3 times)… then you move into your corral about 45 mins before the start and are herded like cattle through this bizarre road/field/bridge terminal and can’t really see much. Besides the nervous chatter, there are helicopters flying over and in the far-off distance you can hear Frank Sinatra’s New York playing and then BANG, we were off! The first mile or so was up the bridge and everything I read said take it slow… it’s the biggest hill… which was easy to do when there were so many people. My pace was slow and I kept it that way up to the top and back down.

One of the coolest parts of the race is coming off the Verrazano Bridge – it goes from a ghostly silence to a loud roar – the crowd was insane and I had goosebumps when I saw the signs “Welcome To Brooklyn”. As the course flattened out, I tried to find my pace. It was hard. I kept looking at my watch and I was all over the place. I felt like I was loosing control and my pace was not mine – I was dodging elbows and thick packs of runners and there was so much congestion at the water stations. I quickly realized this was not my race but kept reminding myself NYC is all about the experience so I took a deep breath and tried to have fun.nyc-marathon_8

At about mile 7, I was at the neighbourhood where we were staying and started looking for my family – and there they were! A quick wave and a high 5 from David gave me a huge boost. At this point, I was not cold and happy to be wearing a tank top and shorts. Brooklyn was amazing – there was never a break in the crowds and there were a ton of bands along the way. At one point, the road tightened and a band was playing “Celebrate” – all of the runners had their hands up in the air clapping. Wow.nyc-marathon_9Once I got to the Pulaski Bridge, I was halfway. I felt great but knew my PB was vanishing. I still could not find my pace, it was so crowded and felt like a game of dodge ball. Then we were in Queens and I was excited to reach the Queensboro Bridge and enter Manhattan. The Queensboro Bridge however was probably my lowest point… my pace was slow and I was panicking. loosing hope. sad. lonely. It was a bit of a hill and then a big downhill into what’s the most loudest part of the run – 1st Avenue. On the way down the hill I felt a little pain in my knee but it quickly went away. Phew. As I ran along 1st Avenue, I kept an eye out for my family but knew it’d be hard to find them in the thick crowds. The next thing I knew, it was mile 19 and the bridge to the Bronx was right there! I loved the Bronx – I had read that it’s where you hit the invisible wall but I was so focused on 5th Avenue that I just kept moving. Back in Manhattan and on 5th Avenue, I kept looking ahead – wow, this is almost done and I feel fine. Not amazing but not bad. Oh wait, is this THE hill? Not so bad. Oh wait, mile 24 and I’m heading into the park? Not so bad. Honestly, this marathon was a blur, it did not feel like I ran 42 km. Near the last mile, in Central Park, which was a tunnel of noise and excitement, I saw my family – what a surprise! As I ran the last mile I knew I was not going to get under 4 hours. No!!!!. I tried to weave but there was a wall of runners in the way and my energy was dwindling.nyc-marathon_10In the end I finished in 4:00.18. Although that is my third best marathon time it is the first time I never hit a wall at 34km. As soon as I stopped the pain hit me and I felt sick. It was a long (like it felt longer than that marathon long) walk to the family meet and greet. On the way, I went from hot to cold really fast and my fingers went numb. A very kind volunteer wrapped my poncho around me and helped fasten it up (they’re fleece lined!). He then looked at me and said I should be really proud of myself. That’s when I cried.nyc-marathon_11I finally found my mom and we slowly made our way another 9 blocks to the Natural History Museum where Mike, David and Dad were. A few other marathoners had the same idea and I wandered around like a zombie for a few hours before we caught the subway back to Brooklyn. At the end of the day, I clocked 55,900 steps and happily devoured a veggie burger and two beers.nyc-marathon_12The next day, we went back downtown and visited Ground Zero, The Rockefeller, Time Square and Central Park. It was a lovely day and seeing the park again was great.nyc-marathon_1So why am I a little sad? I missed my goal by 10 minutes and although I know 4:00.18 is nothing to be ashamed about, it was a bummer because I trained so much harder than pervious marathons and feel a bit disappointed in myself. However, despite those feelings, the experience was worth every penny I am now even more determined to find a new race and start all over again. Any recommendations for a less crowded, fast Spring run? I have Ottawa, Fredricton and Sugarloaf on my radar.

I totally recommend the New York City Marathon as a bucket list experience and really, I should stop sulking. I did it, I ran the 5 boroughs!
nyc-marathon_13And  New York, I still LOVE YOU.

Not sure if you’ve seen this but it’s very accurate:

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east vs. west

Not one but several people warned me that if I go West, I will never come back. I am sure this comes from my love for all things California but I am here to say, I went West and I did come back.

Did I love it? Yes! Was it beautiful? Yes! Is it the best coast? Not sure.

Don’t get me wrong… every place we visited, we imagined ourselves living there (Oak Bay, Victoria… I’m talking about you). So active. So green. So many mountains! They have it all and the people were really friendly. We had a great time but as much as I loved the West Coast, I still think there are some amazing things about living over here, next to the Atlantic. All of Canada is beautiful and I am certain, as long as I am near a coast, I will be happy.

Here are some pictures of the trip: 6 Days. 5 Ferries. 4 great runs. 3 awesome hikes. 2 countries. 1 wedding and 0 whale sightings…

Day 1: We flew in and out of Seattle mostly because airfare was muuuch cheaper and partly because we really wanted to see Seattle. It’s lovely – like a mini San Francisco or a big Halifax (although Halifax has a better waterfront (just saying)). Our flight left Halifax at 5:20 am (that’s 1:20 am Seattle time) so when we arrived at 10:30 am Seattle time it was feeling like 2:30 pm Halifax time. We were sleepy, not sleepless, but made the most of the 24 hours and took full advantage of their caffeine supply. We didn’t crash until 10:00 pm Seattle time (which felt like 2:00 am Halifax time)! dsc_0295Seattle has a monorail which takes you from the Space Needle to downtown. Totally touristy, totally worth the $2.50.img_6305We had lunch downtown in Westlake Park at The People’s Burger food truck – my portobello mushroom burger was amazing. We then walked down the Pike Street to Pike Place Market and found the Pike Street Starbucks and the original Starbucks. There was fish throwing and salt water taffy but I was most impressed with the price of flowers.img_6308img_6310dsc_0297img_6313img_6314img_6315img_6316After an afternoon downtown, I dragged Mike to University Village… which is in a kind of attached to the University of Washington but actually just a big outdoor mall full of really nice stores. The drive around the campus was beautiful and I was so excited to go to Oiselle. When I arrived, I was surprised to see Kate Grace was in the store doing a talk about her Olympic experience (she’s sponsored by Oiselle and I had cheered for both her and our Melissa Bishop in the 800m final). I happily listened to her but I’m not going to lie… I was more interested in trying on the running clothes! As soon as the autographs started, I weaved in and out and all around the fans, trying to decided how many tanks and shorts I was allowed to smuggle across the border! (“kidding” D.T.)img_6320Day 2: The next morning, fully on Seattle time, I went for a run around the city and then we left via ferry #1 (Bainbridge Island) North to Port Angeles. I am really glad we chose this route because it was a chance to see more of Washington – it’s a beautiful state. We arrived in Victoria at 7:20 pm – just in time for Mike to hook up with his friend. dsc_0305img_6328img_6332dsc_0306dsc_0307dsc_0309Before hopping on ferry #2 which took us across the border to Victoria, we spent some time in the Port Angeles area including Olympic National Park. Sorry, I forgot to photograph my fish taco.dsc_0315dsc_0316dsc_0320Hey Mike, stop so I can take your picture next to the tall trees…dsc_0321Hey Mike, pretend you’re excited! dsc_0322dsc_0324G’bye America, hello beautiful British Columbia – I can’t believe it has taken me this long to see you!img_6334Day 3: While Mike was recovering from the night out with his friend, I went for a beautiful run all around Victoria. It’s the best way to see a city because I was up before all the tourists (how else to you get pictures without people in your way?)… Victoria is unbelievable – there is a waterfront trail that wraps around the city that I ran along which was so fantastic – along the way I found MILE 0 of the Trans Canada and the Terry Fox memorial, and then a castle!?!img_6341img_6352img_6353img_6354img_6358We then spent a few hours roaming around the city and had lunch at Rebar. (I bought the cookbook and made the carrot cake but would love to test out some more recipes on friends). On our way out of the city, I took Mike on a drive of my morning running route so he could see all the beautiful highlights.dsc_0341dsc_0342dsc_0344img_6362That afternoon we drove up to Bear Mountain and hiked to the top of Mount Finlayson before having a lovely 10-year anniversary dinner. img_6365img_6370img_6371Day 4: Although Bear Mountain is meant for golfing, there are great trails and I took Mike on his first trail run the next day. Holy hills!img_6374img_6375img_6376After our run, we packed up and set off for ferry #3 – Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay. On our way, we stopped for lunch at this lovely coffee shop in Cobble Hill and ate a Nanaimo bar (and Nanaimo bar ice cream) while waiting to board the ferry in Nanaimo (as they say, when in Rome…).dsc_0375img_6382img_6384From Horseshoe Bay, we u-turned and got on ferry #4 to Roberts Creek on the Sunshine Coast. We went straight to a cottage for a rehearsal dinner. It was dark and stormy (but wine for me) and you could hear the ocean.

Day 5: Ironically, the only time we had rain was while on the Sunshine Coast however it was so beautiful! At the rehearsal dinner the night before, the brother of the bride offered to take me on a 17 km run. Even in the pouring rain, it was such a great route and we ended right in front of Molly’s Reach just in time for breakfast! (As a CBC Canadian kid who didn’t have cable until the age of 12, The Beachcombers is a big deal). The sun came out just in time for a lovely wedding!img_6387img_6392img_6393img_6396Hello sunshine! Hello Sunshine Coast!img_6399Day 6: After a wild wedding night and brunch, we jumped on ferry #5 back to Horseshoe Bay. Despite the shenanigans of last night, we managed to haul our butts up The Grouse Grind which was a fun way to sweat all of the tequila out of the system. The view from the top was totally worth it. Once we descended, via the skyline, we headed back to Seattle. Since we are coming back to B.C. in February, we drove straight through Vancouver (got a little sneak peek) and waited for the longest time ever at the border. Our flight was at 6:00 am the next morning. img_6406img_6407img_6408img_6411I know, I wrote beautiful eight times!!! Sorry, not sorry. The West Coast is stunning and I took way more photos of the ocean and mountains than I am showing here. I can not wait to go back and see more but until then, I will enjoy the East! dsc_0386

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