Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A marathon and garden update (with photos!)

So... This past Sunday was Marathon Day, or in plain English: what on earth were we thinking when we signed up for this marathon-day. The last couple of weeks have been really warm which had us a bit worried, especially when the forecast earlier in the week still called for 29 degrees for race day. But, our prayers were answered and the Sunday itself was actually close-to-perfect running weather: overcast for the first half and mid-teens, changing to sunny and warmer for the second half.
But let's back up a little bit. The race preparations started on Saturday, which doing a whole lot of nothing... Well, we spent a bit of time in the garden, and I managed to get a sun burn. The excitement of the day was delivered by Fertile, quite literally, when she pointed us to a decapitated mouse in the basement. Thanks! The night before she'd caught another mouse, but we were able to take it away from her and released it outside. It seemed unharmed, but it might not have been super bright and returned back into the house.
The day of the marathon, the alarm went off at 4:30 am. When I came downstairs, Murphy was sitting underneath the dining room table, staring at something. Yes, he was having a staring contest with another mouse! I chased him away, got another container and the mouse simply ran into it. Not sure why it wasn't moving, or why the cats did not attack it (maybe being totally stiff of fear saved its life?), but I was able to release it again. And so far it hasn't returned. But a great way to start the day, for sure.
We had no problems getting downtown or finding parking. It was all very well set up, and the organization was great. There were a lot of people out cheering, which made it quite a bit easier. We tried to interact with the people cheering as much as possible; it gives a tonne of energy! Around the 14km mark, Debby and Julie were out cheering us on, which was really nice. Then we headed to Quebec, which was definitely a bit more quiet, hardly anyone out there! We looped back to the Ontario side, and did the loop through Rockcliffe park, before heading back to the canal, where Debbie and JoAnn where to cheer us on. I felt quite strong, although the second half was definitely much harder than the first half (duh!). But we both felt good until we were back on the canal, around the 39km mark. We just hit wall and wanted to be done. But we kept going and finished strong, well under our goal time of 5 hrs (4:53)! Several people were cheering for us at the home stretch, which helped us pushing a bit for the final 500 meters.

At 38km, there was a photographer, and he caught us while we should have been running:

This photo is from the Ottawa Citizen, and we are actually in it!

We both were a bit sore afterwards, but we are recovering nicely. We are both very happy it's done, but also proud and feel good about it. Now it's time to focus on shorter distances again, and hit the trails again.

Besides running, we are also proud of our 'new' garden. We expanded the garden in the back of the yard, and added some perennials and bushes. We also planted more vegetables compared to last year, and bought quite a few hanging baskets, simply to add some colour!

A little rose bush in the corner planter

My favourite hanging basket!

Showing some colour around our deck.

Our vegetable garden: tomatoes, basil, green and orange pepper, cucumber and strawberries. Now it just needs to grow!

Another row of hanging baskets along the fence. We just love colour!

One of my little pine trees. Almost doubled in size so far this year.

One of our new climates plants. We planted three around the deck to, again, add some colour!

Our extended garden, where we added a mixture of perennials and annuals. The silver plant in the middle is supposed to be an annual, but somehow survived a winter, a transplant and is still going strong. I guess we got our money's worth.

The second part of our expanded garden, where in the back we simply planted perennials, which will hopefully fill up that corner.

We still have the bird feeder up, and I have to admit that these finches are among my favourites.

Sorry, no picture of the decapitated mouse.

What else is new? Well, I spent another week in the field last week, and am now trying to adapt to an office lifestyle again. But besides that, life is good and we are surely enjoying it!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Holy Smokes!

It’s been almost a month since I last wrote, and quite a few things have happened this month!
In a non-chronicle order, here is a quick overview

One of the more exiting things: we started looking, test drove, decided on, negotiated, bought, and picked up a new vehicle! We decided on the Mazda 3 Sky-activ, sport, and so far have been very happy with it.  We picked it up last Thursday, with a total of 9 km on the odometer, so indeed pretty new! We already noticed the benefits of having a hatch: we used it last weekend when picking up supplies for our gardens, and Nolan noticed it today while loading up at Costco!

As I mentioned, we picked up some garden supplies last weekend, and we’ll be spending next weekend reshaping some of our gardens and borders around our trees, and hopefully we’ll be planting as well!  We both really enjoy spending time in our gardens and really making it our own. Nolan has also really started to pay attention to the lawn, which is resulting in us having to cut it about twice a week now. Maybe a bit too much care?  We picked up some hanging baskets last week, simply to add some colour to our deck, they look amazing (next time, I’ll post pictures!). A highlight was when one of our planters was visited by a hummingbird! The first hummingbird I have ever seen in our back yard. Pretty cool!

We are also keeping busy with running; the marathon is coming quite close now, less than two weeks to go. We’ve had some really good runs, but also a couple of really bad runs. But on average our training has been quite good, especially considering our busy lives at the moment. The weather has been quite cool for our runs, so we are a little fearful that it will be hot during the race, but time will tell.

The last few days the weather has been absolutely amazing though. Mid 20’s for the last 2 days, and I’ve been able to take full advantage of it.  I am currently in Petawawa, staying on the base, while doing fieldwork at the PRF. I am writing this sitting in my dorm type room in the barrack without any type of internet access, so I’ll be posting this a bit later when back in the real world! I am helping a co-worker with the remeasurement of a large study I was involved with over 10 years ago, so it’s actually really nice to be out there again. I don’t get to spend a lot of time doing fieldwork anymore, and I have to admit that I absolutely love being out there! Even though the mosquitoes are brutal, it’s still very much worth it. It will be hard getting back to the office… But it looks like I’ll be getting some help, since we’re currently in the process of hiring a summer student, so that should take some of the pressure of. I can’t wait!

And that is pretty much it in a nut shell. Much more has happened, but that will have to wait until next time. And maybe I should just write more often...