COM0014 – Blog #1: How I became a giant in 24h.

It all started over a beer on New year’s eve. My aunt told me about this race she had been running for the last two years. She said it was crazy enough that it would be “my kind of thing”: a trail race, in a cross country skiing club, with only 35 participants, and a poutine at the end. The trail is a 4.2km loop that you run/walk as many time as you possibly can, in 24hours. It’s called: “Le trail des géants », french for “The trail of the giants”. I was sold!

An ultramarathon, […], is any footrace longer than the traditional marathon length of 42.195 kilometres (Wikipedia)

I did not go crazy on the training but it quickly became obvious that I needed to add a few long distances training into my schedule if I wanted to survive this challenge. Away from my weekly runs, I decided to subscribe to the Ottawa Marathon (42.2km) on a 50 day’s notice. Later in July I walked a 56km training to test my legs and my kit. Many lessons learned during that day helped me on race day.

The race

I was the first participant to show up at the Skinoramik cross country ski club on Saturday Aug 3rd. There were only a few clouds and the weather was really nice. I setup my tent, cooler and laid out my gear (Clothes, headlamp, blister kit, spare shoes etc.) in preparation for the hours ahead.

This was my home during the race

It was 12h11 when I started my GPS watch  and began running in a trail I was going to get to know pretty well over the next day.

One of the easy stretch on the trail – Photo by Joannes Gouin

At supper time I had completed 9 laps and 38km before we sat together to eat an amazing pig roast. At midnight, most of us met to walk 1 lap together; my 15th lap. I went to bed around 2h30am after a couple of beers from my favourite brewery, Le Trefle noir. I slept for almost 3 hours before heading back on the trail, coffee in hand, for the last 5 laps I needed to reach my goal of 85km (2x marathon).

My aunt had managed to catch up with me to walk my last lap and since there was still time, I decided to join her for her last lap (She completed 12, reaching her goal of 50km). These last 2 laps, were definitely my favourite ones. My legs were hurting, my feet were ready to quit, but It felt good to have someone with me and share those special emotions together.

After a quick shower, they served us an AMAZING poutine with bacon and what was left of the pig roast. #fooddrunk.

THE poutine!

My final marks were 91.6km for 21 laps. This is how, on the eve of my 40th birthday, I became a giant.

Me and my aunt, looking proud after 24h and a combined mileage of 141km

 

Here is a couple links that inspired me during the training leading to that race:

Audio book: Can’t hurt me

Youtube: Where dreams go to die

 

What inspires you when you train?

Do you have what it takes to be a giant?

 

COM0014 – Blog #1: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

It has been 13 years and I still haven’t received my acceptance letter to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I was disappointed for a while but I decided to take matters into my own hands by going on a trip to Universal Orlando to see it myself!

In May of 2017, I went to visit Universal Studios. I’m a child at heart. I’m in love with movie magic, and I have never been so immersed in magic before while at Universal Studios. The smell of butter beer and sweets wafted through the streets of Diagon Alley as I passed the Leaky Cauldron; kids ran out of Ollivander’s with wands in their hands and chased each other into the Owlery; but my favourite of all, the dragon at the top of Gringott’s Bank blew out warm flames every few minutes.

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Diagon Alley

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Ollivander’s Wand Shop at Diagon Alley

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Leaky Cauldron at Diagon Alley

After riding the Escape From Gringotts ride and exploring all of the shops in Diagon Alley, I hopped on the Hogwarts Express at Platform 9¾ and took a trip to Hogwarts and Hogsmeade.

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Hogwarts Express Train (Fun fact: it’s actually a ride AND a mode of transportation that takes you from one park to the other)

First stop: Hogwarts. Walking through the castle made me realize how long this must have taken to build. The attention to detail was mesmerizing. The castle had holograms of the characters walking around while speaking to each other, and the pictures on the wall moved. After riding the Hogwarts attraction, I explored Hogsmeade. The whole place – Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade, Hogwarts – was identical to the Harry Potter films that I know and love. Every building, every window, every crack in the sidewalk was almost an exact replica. The rides were interactive and in 4D, aside from the insanely fun inverted roller coaster, The Dueling Dragons.

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Hogwarts

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Hogsmeade

My favourite ride was Escape From Gringotts. The detail and the ride itself were incredible! While everyone waited in line, you got to walk through the bank where the Goblins actually moved as if they were just working at their everyday jobs! The ride was a roller coaster with a 4D twist and it was so fun! I unfortunately didn’t have my camera with me at the time to take photographs or videos, but here is a video from YouTube if you are curious: https://bit.ly/2N7roOb

If you love roller coasters, warm weather, and most importantly Harry Potter, then I highly recommend making the trip down to Universal, Orlando. I couldn’t even express in words at the time how amazing the experience was. They created an entire London street with a Knight Bus, a replica of King’s Cross Station, and a secret passageway that gets you into Diagon Alley, very similar to what is in the films.

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“London”

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The Knight Bus

 

Have you been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida? What was your favourite experience there? If not, would you want to go? Leave a comment down below!

 

For anyone interested in travelling and for those that want to see more, here are some helpful links to get you started:

Universal Orlando Resort – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Hogsmeade Walkthrough

Diagon Alley Walkthrough

COM0014: What I did on my vacation

Following a difficult and anxiety-ridden year for me, my husband, Roger, suggested we visit my brother and sister-in-law in Kamloops, British Columbia for our summer vacation. After speaking to my brother and his wife, we started planning our trip. This vacation was obviously meant to be as it only took two attempts on Aeroplan’s website to successfully redeem points for the dates that were feasible for us, receive our electronic tickets and be booked in business class for almost every leg of the trip. We had forgotten one small detail: when you travel for free on Air Canada, apparently direct flights between Ottawa and Vancouver do not exist. Our itinerary involved a long, up and down voyage to get to our destination, including wait times every step of the journey: Ottawa-Toronto; Toronto-Calgary; Calgary-Vancouver; and, finally Vancouver-Kamloops.

Once we arrived in Kamloops, our ten day vacation flew by in a whirlwind of activity, sprinkled with quiet times to reconnect, reminisce, talk about what are grown-up children were up to, retirement plans, future travel, read and relax.

The view from my reading spot on the balcony &  Sisterly love: Teasing the dog to disrupt my brother’s nap

One of my husband’s passions is wine tasting. He has worked diligently over the years to be able to identify aromas and tastes in various wines and to identify a wine’s region, and can now do well in blind taste tests. If you are a wine lover, you can probably relate to the work involved in this pleasurable pursuit of knowledge.

Knowing this, my brother Mike took us to visit many wineries, three of which we really loved, beginning with Harper’s Trail Estate Winery (not related to the federal election campaign at the time, by the way!). The winery was named for the cattle drive trail of pioneer rancher Thaddeus Harper. It was the first winery in Kamloops, built on the banks of the South Thompson River.

Harpers Trail

 

Inside Harper’s Trail Estate Winery

 

We then headed to the banks of the North Thompson River, where we visited Privato Vineyard and Winery, a Double Gold Award winner for its 2012 Pinot Noir; Roger also liked its Chardonnay and Rosé wines.  Take a look at their beautiful property at http://privato.ca.

Our favorite stop was lunch overlooking Quail’s Gate Winery’s vineyards in West Kelowna. At the winery’s outdoor café, each menu item came with a recommended wine pairing which made it difficult to keep the cost down but made lunch an unforgettable experience!

Wonderful afternoon at Quail’s Gate Winery

 

In between visiting wineries and relaxing, we participated in Mike and Marilyn’s passion: geocaching. Promoted as the world’s largest treasure hunt on geocaching.com, geocaching is defined as searching for and finding hidden objects with the help of GPS coordinates. My brother and his wife started geocaching to encourage one another to get more physically active; it has evolved into a daily, routine activity for them.

We spent many pleasant hours, seeing parts of Kamloops and outlying areas that we would never have thought of exploring, all for the sake of finding and recording the caches we uncovered on a website. Surprisingly, it was a lot of fun, albeit a bit competitive between siblings – so much so that we now own a hand held GPS and have convinced our kids and their partners to share in the fun with us! I would love to hear if any of you have experiences and hints to share about geocaching as we are novices in this pastime.

Here are a few of the awesome sights we came upon on these treasure hunts in the Kamloops area:

Art inwoods

Unexpected art in the woods

 

Beautiful scenery in Lac Du Bois Grasslands Provincial Park

 

On the last week-end of our summer vacation, we spent time downtown, first at the Farmers’ Market to purchase Kamloops and area home made products such as jerky, salmon and chocolates to bring back east with us. We then spent time wandering through Riverside Park, listening to musicians participating in the Music in the Park events and enjoying the summer day.

Our community statue
“Our Community” sculpture, Riverside Park

And we topped it all off by satisfying everyone’s passion: collector vehicles, in the annual downtown Show& Shine event, inventing scenarios and day dreaming about which vehicle we would drive if ever there was nothing else we needed to spend money on!

 

Our trip home ended with the same upbeat and positive energy we had experienced for ten days: once we landed in Vancouver, we were paged and asked if we could possibly take a direct flight from Vancouver to Ottawa, rather than a Vancouver-Toronto-wait two hours-Ottawa one! Needless to say, we graciously accepted!

I hope you get the chance to visit this beautiful area of Canada one day! And if you have any tricks and tips about wine tasting, food pairing or geocaching, please feel free to share them with me!