Friday, August 22, 2014

I'm Leaving On a Jet Plane...

Well ladies and gents, I am off on another vacation (yay!). I believe most bloggers would schedule some posts to go up while they are gone, but I am just negligent because I never found time to do that (oops). However, I don't want you to worry about me for the next week or so, so please be aware that I am safe and in sound in ICELAND!!!!

Well, as safe as anyone can be travelling to a country with a volcano on the verge of erupting. But I am not entirely surprised by that, because I am going on vacation with my good friend Sarah, and we are notorious for having everything go wrong on our road trips & vacations- oh the stories I could tell you about Europe 2008!
Sarah and I in Rome in 2008
Washington DC in 2014

But we always make the best of it and I am sure this trip will be no different! We are staying 2 nights in the capital, Reykjavik, and then hopping in a rented SUV to drive all around the country in 7 days! The route is basically one big circle, so hopefully we won't get ourselves lost... much.

I will be back in September to regale you with tales of gas station hot dogs, glaciers, Icelandic hostels, and all sorts of shenanigans in between! Oh, and I am also bringing about 12 lbs of cameras, lenses, and various photography equipment with me, so I plan on doing a whole post on packing for a photo-vacation so stay tuned for that!

PS- Please pray that that darn volcano does not erupt!!
PPS- I will be sharing photos when I have wifi, so please follow me on instagram!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Midsummers Night's Run Race Recap!

Last Saturday Night I ran my very first 15km race. The race is called A Midsummers Night's Run and it is a great "in between" distance race with options for 5km, 15km, or 30km. It is also really fun because they have a fairy costume contest so you run alongside some interesting characters. I chose not to dress up because 15km is still a pretty tough distance for me and I wasn't about to attempt it in a tutu or wings! Maybe next year.

I had run a 10km race back in May and then soon switched to boot camp classes for the month of June, so I gave myself only about 6 weeks to work up to a 15km distance. I basically added 1km a week to my weekend long run. I got injured by doing too many hills a couple weeks before the race so I gave myself 10 full days off of running and just squeezed in a short 5km run the week before my race! Thankfully the leg healed up in time!

As the weekend rolled closer, the forecast grew dimmer and dimmer for Saturday. It was supposed to be cold and rainy, with the heavier rains forecasted for right when I would be running. Gross. at 4:30pm on Saturday I hopped on my bike and rode over in the pouring rain to the race. It was about 5km away by the Leslie Spit in the east end of Toronto, so not far and much faster than taking transit! I locked up my bike and met up with a friend from high school who was running the 15km too. 

The race location
At this point the rain had let up, but it was still really cold and threatening to rain some more. I had fully made up my mind to run in my rain coat (which is breathable), when at the very last second I decided to ditch it at bag check. It ended up being a GREAT decision because I got HOT out on the course very quickly!

At 6pm we were off! I started off between the 1:30 and 1:35 pace fairies (they run at a specific pace to finish at a specific time so you can use them to gauge your own pace).

Somehow within a couple kilometres I ended up in front of the 1:30 pace fairy and then I determined to stay in front of her for the rest of the race. I knew I could maintain that pace for 10km, but I was a little unsure about my endurance for 15km. 

I started off the race with a mesh hat I had bought that day at the dollar store. A hat is great for keeping the rain off your face! But by some miracle, the rain totally stayed away for the entire race! I lost the hat in the wind around km 5 or 6 but didn't bother going back for it. I think it might have hit someone... :S

Oh also, those darn capris kept falling down in the first couple kilometres! I really regretted choosing them over my usual shorts, but I was worried about being cold. Thankfully I think my legs swelled up a bit once I got going so then they mostly stayed in place!

I found around 6:30-7:00pm that I was getting really hungry. I had tried to properly fuel by eating a late lunch and having a high calorie protein bar an hour before the race, but nope. My body likes to EAT at dinner time regardless! Thankfully I soon passed a Gatorade station and got some calories and delicious sugar from that. FYI- I never liked Gatorade before, but that stuff was delicious.

The course is long, flat, and pretty open to the elements one you are on the spit, and I could see it being brutal if it were a normal summers day, so I was really thankfull for this freakishly cool and overcast day!! I decided to run 20/1 for this race, which is run 20 minutes, walk 1 minute and so forth. I often run 10/1s, so this was still challenging for me, but races seem to give me extra energy I don't have on my normal races! And by taking those 1 minute walking breaks I was able to keep up my crazy pace!

Around kilometre 12 or 13 I caught up with the 1:25 pace fairy, which was pretty exciting! I challenged myself to see if I could get ahead of her and finish in under 1:25. My goal for this race was to do under 1:35, so I was pretty excited to realize I might beat that by 10 whole minutes! I got ahead of her for a bit, but I found she was running really inconsistently and would keep speeding up and passing me! After kilometre 14 I started to run out of steam so I gave up trying to keep up with her and just gave it all I had to finish strong.

In the end, I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:25:18, and I was 51st/165 in females aged 20-29, 198th/729 in all females, and 415th/1093 in total participant placing! I really could not be more happy with that time!!

After the race I got my medal (which is seriously huge and awesome) and then met up with Cam for dinner. The race had a BBQ and beer tent, but I really wasn't feeling great so Cam ended up eating most of my dinner. Then we walked home with my bike and it took FOREVER and I was simply BEAT by the time I hit my pillow at 10pm! But the next day I was feeling pretty good- a little stiff and some ugly toenails, but otherwise unscathed! I actually woke up early to make cookies too. I am hardcore.

Overall I really liked this race and I hope to run it again next year! Who knows, maybe I will be brave enough to try the 30km!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Casey Gets Fits: Week 25

Weight: 146 (19 lbs lost)

um...what. I swear I actually food this past week. I promise you. Though, I definitely do seem to be solidly in the 140s now (YAY!), I think this crazy drop is just dehydration after my 15km race on Saturday night. Fun fact- I don't think I've weighed in the 140s since before high school.

Speaking of my run- It went awesome and I obliterated my goal time of sub-1:35, but I will do a recap later this week. I got zero pictures of me so I am hoping the race photographer got some :)

Back to weight loss- I realized it had been a month since my last measurements were taken so I took them again on Sunday Morning. I apparently have lost 5lbs since then, but my measurements aren't too different.

Bust: 36" (0.5" down)
Ribs: 31" (no change)

Natural Waist: 29" (1" down)
Waist at Belly Button: 35" (no change)
Hips: 38" (no change)
Butt: 38.5" (0.5" down)
Thigh: 21" (no change)
Calf: 13.5" (no change)
Upper Arms: 11.5" (no change)

So even though my weight suddenly dropped 5lbs, I've only lost about 2 inches, which makes me concerned that I might have lost some muscle mass while resting my injured leg this month! However the leg is all healed (and no issues on my run thank goodness!), so I am going to go back at it and get in my 4 workouts a week again!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Getting Buffed

When my mom found out she was going to be going through chemo and losing all her hair, a friend of my aunt, who has just gone through chemo herself, generously jumped in to give her a spare wig and some other baldy-things. One of the items she lent her was this thing called a Buff. It is kind of like a big tube of fabric that can be styled in many different ways as headgear. Although they are designed for use by haired people, the buff is actually quite an awesome option for bald people too! My mom liked wearing one so much that she decided not to wear a wig and to just wear her Buffs all the time.

Fun fact about going bald- you get cold a lot. I am always wandering around in my hooded bathrobe at home and I often wear a toque indoors in the winter months. Keeping my head warm AND stylish? I'm intrigued.

So, after trying hers on, I decided to get some as well! (PS- I really think that if I found the right material these would be a super easy DIY). I ended up ordering a plain blue one for everyday use, a high-UV one for wearing to the beach, and a cool-dry one for working out in. Each Buff was roughly $21-$27, so not cheap, but they will hopefully last a long time. They came in the mail just after I headed off to the cottage, but I had borrowed one from my mom that week and wore it daily! Now that I am home I am happy to have my own to play with.

Buffs cans be worn in a multitude of ways and are pretty fun to play with. The US website has a bunch of styles and tutorials online, but figuring them out for myself is more fun! And naturally that means it is FASHION SHOOT TIME!!

The Lazy Man
The Tucked Under
The Cap
The Low Twist (my fav- it's a variation on The Pirate where I tuck the tail in)
The Do-Rag
The Top Knot
The Headband

And did you know Buffs aren't solely headgear? Because there is also...

The Scarf
The Baby It's Cold Outside
The "I'm Gonna Rob This Bank and Look Fabulous Doing So"

I should let you know that I already worked out in my cool-dry one and it felt amazing. There was much less sweat dripping down my face than usual and it was completely comfortable the whole time! I definitely am going to put a couple more of those ones on my Christmas list this year. I am also excited to hit up the beach in my high UV one because I am always so cautious about keeping my scalp burn-free (you only make that mistake ONCE). Each of my Buffs is made with a different material but they are all super stretchy and soft so they are very comfortable to wear all day. I am totally a convert!

Please note that Buffs did not sponsor this post in any way. I just really like sharing new products I come across, especially those relevant to the Alopecia community!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

TV Stand Update with Chalk Paint®

As you may recall, earlier this summer I made over my outdoor table with Chalk Paint® decorative paint by Annie Sloan. Well it just so happens that I had quite a bit of paint leftover from that job. And leftover paint = more projects! This time I decided to tackle my TV Stand.

Now you might be saying, "That is a sweet Ikea Hemnes TV stand Casey, why ever would you want to paint it?". Well, besides being white and boring, the TV stand top was actually looking a little worse for wear. There were cracks in the paint and strange stains that wouldn't come out. Actually if I had the patience I would replace the entire top with a nice stained wood, but there is just no way I am ever taking apart this TV stand as it took me 4 hours to put together. So paint it was!!

I sanded down and spackled parts of the top that were not smooth from paint chipping, and then I got down to work. First tried to decide what shade of turquoise I wanted it. I didn't want it as bright as the outdoor table, so I toned it down by mixing my Provence paint colour with a sample pot of Old White to create a kind of seafoam green.

Here is a tip: I wanted to make sure I knew the proportions of white to turquoise so that I could make another batch if I didn't have enough, but I didn't want to use my food measuring cups- so I weighed the paint as I went. Worked pretty well!! Except when the scale would shut off mid-way (grr). I think I ended up with a 1:2 ratio. But it could have been 1:1. I should have written it down. Sorry.

I started off light and kept adding turquoise until I liked the shade. I did a little test swatch on the front of the stand as I went.

Once I was happy with my colour I went along painting the whole top of the table and the edges. I decided to leave the base white. Now, I will say that I had a little bit of trouble with painting. I am not sure if it was the fact that I used a foam roller (though I used one on the outdoor table without issue), or if I didn't allow enough drying time between coats, but all of a sudden my first coat was pulling up with the roller in one corner, making the paint look all uneven. I let it all dry and then sanded a bit and patched up that corner with paint, but you can still tell if you look closely :\

I let it dry overnight and then I added a layer of Annie Sloan Soft Wax by rubbing it in well with a dry cloth. I then let the wax dry 24 hours before buffing. I wasn't totally impressed when I was done so I waxed some more and then buffed again the next night. It did add some sheen, but I find it a little uneven. I think if I had had the proper waxing tool, a better cloth for buffing and more practice I might have done better! However, you can really only see the spots when you are up close.

I then let the table cure for two whole weeks! Thankfully I was away for one of those weeks so it wasn't so hard. My TV is pretty ghetto and heavy so I wanted the wax to cure as hard as possible before I put it back up there. When I really started to miss TV, I just set it up to watch DVDs on the couch :)

When I got back from vacation I set everything back up!

I really like how the colour turned out. I think it fits in well with the ottoman that is only a few feet away. My living room is only 9.5 ft wide so you really have to make sure your large items coordinate well!

Overall, I found this project oddly more frustrating than I would have expected, but I do like how it came out and I am very happy with this change up!

PS- I really need to figure out how to stage a TV stand. Although, according the images I searched on Pinterest the solution is to get a bigger TV so there is no room on the top for decorative pieces. Cam's suggestion was to get more dinosaurs (that is what the little red and blue thing are in from of the TV)

You might have also noticed that I recovered the green "basket" in the stand. This basket is my junk drawer, and while the green one is the perfect size, I was sick of the green so I stapled on some pretty new fabric and added a few nail heads to jazz it up!

I want to note- I shot the after photos with a camera I recently borrowed from my dad- a Nikon D800! I feel it did a way better job capturing the colours true-to-life than my before shots, which were on a D300s (also dads- he has a photography hobby and I get to profit from that ;)). Or it could have been the lighting or editing. But I do want to keep playing around with this camera because I have never been able to so accurately depict the colour of the floors and walls in here. Might be time for another condo tour!

Disclaimer: The paint and wax  for this project was provided by Annie Sloan Unfolded. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Casey Gets Fit: Week 24

Weight: 148.4 (16.6 lbs lost)

Um....what the what on that weight loss? I lost 3.2 pounds in a week?!?!

I really think this is one of those fluke fluctuation things because while my eating was fine this week, I certainly didn't do anything to warrant that kind of weight loss. My actual fear right now is that it is muscle loss because I didn't work out this week. Can you lose muscle weight that fast? I have no idea. I should probably do some measurements too see where my inches are, but I was too lazy/ in a rush Sunday morning.

Anyway I didn't work out this week because I injured my leg running my 15km at the cottage last week! All those hills and the gravel road screwed up the shin muscles on my right leg. It actually really hurt to go up and down stairs earlier in the week and I definitely had a sexy limp going on.

But I have been working hard with stretching, icing, wearing supportive shoes, and giving it a rest this week (hence the no working out- so many exercising need use of legs, even if just for stability). My 15km is NEXT WEEKEND! I need two fully functioning legs to run that. Thankfully my leg is feeling much better and I will do a couple short runs this week to make up for my lost week of working out. A week off from running was really hard- especially on the weekend when my leg felt 90%. But if I don't let it fully heal then I am much more likely to reinjure it and I don't want that!

I am super excited for my race and glad my leg is feeling better!! I am running the 15km version of A Midsummers Night's Run. The race starts at 6:00pm, rather than the usual early morning run, so I am expecting it to be hot hot hot. Especially if next weekend is as nice as this weekend was! My goal for the race is to finish in sub 1:35. When I ran 15km last weekend I did it in 1:37:48, but that was super hilly so I am hoping to go a bit faster on this route. Plus just being in a race makes me push a little harder too!

Anywho next Monday I will have recap of my race! Wish me luck!

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