Re-learning how to run – AGAIN

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Some of you may not find running once a week (or more) in 2018 impressive, especially since my max has been 5k. For me, it’s been a show of strength, both physically and emotionally.

Until grade 8, I thought I wasn’t an athlete. I had been told by classmates for too many years that since I had asthma, I couldn’t do sports. No teacher built up my confidence about team sports, so I still avoid them. School also doesn’t support the types of athleticism I loved (ballet, downhill skiing, and outdoor sports like hiking and canoeing).

In grade 8, my gym teacher looked at me and said, “Janessa, you can run.” So I did.

Every gym class in the spring we did laps outside, and I kept up with the boys who were in competitive soccer. It was the best feeling, especially when I won 400m or 800m sprints. In grade 9, I got to try hurdles. It felt like I was flying. From then on, whenever I’d be stressed, Mom would tell me to put my running shoes on, and I got that runner’s high. It was the first time that I was proud of my “thicc” legs. I began to regularly run 5ks, and loved it.

When I was 19, I was an idiot and slipped my L4-L5 disc lifting canoes. Since then I spent hours doing physio, crying, gained weight, went through a severe depression, and lost running- one of my favourite ways to de-stress. I had an amazing physiotherapist during my undergrad, who focused on getting me strong enough to re-learn how to run, but I didn’t take it to heart. I would skip working on core, and every time I’d run, I’d cry. I wasn’t running as fast or as hard as I wanted to, and some days I’d get 2k in and my back would hurt.

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I stopped for a long time, and focused on powerlifting. During my first year of my Master’s program, I realized that I was lacking in core strength that was preventing me from getting my lifts heavier. I started researching what was the best for core strength for powerlifters, and got strong at that. No more low-back pain.

I had a single, scary thought in fall 2017.

I wanted to run again.

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I set myself a goal of re-learning how to run in 2018. I had to run at least once a week, even if it was -20*C outside, no matter what distance worked for me. I also signed up for a MEC fun run April 15.

Progress was slow. I ran 7km/h, it took me weeks to get up to 5 k, and I still can’t run 5k unbroken. I didn’t get that joy when I put my running shoes on, it was just to prepare myself for the race, and because I wanted that runner’s identity back.

Things changed on April 7 when I decided that instead of running a 5k, I wanted to do sprints. They were hard. It hurt so much the next day. Bu

 I felt like I was flying again. I cried on the jog home.

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The next Tuesday, April 10, I went for a lunchtime 5k. I ran 2.5k unbroken, faster than 6km/h. I enjoyed it.

Today, Sunday, April 15, Nic and I ran a 5k MEC Race. It was very, very windy and cold, but it was my first time running 5k unbroken in years. I’m super proud that I did it in 29 minutes, and can’t wait to get down to 25min. I definitely thought I was going to pass out the last km, so I’m very thankful that Nic ran beside me the whole way to keep me going faster, and kept encouraging me. (Sorry you didn’t get a great time 😉 )

Tips for re-learning a sport:

  • You might not be the same athlete you were before your injury. That’s okay. You probably don’t even remember how hard it was to get to the level you were before. You have a second chance to be good at the sport, with more information about how to do it safely. Be humble about it. We all start somewhere.
  • Never stop your physio. Ever. Incorporate it as much as possible. I have to do core bracing, so I do that as I’m going to sleep. I make sure that my core exercises are at the end of every powerlifting session.
  • Warm up properly. I have some weird stretches to do before my lifting sessions, and that’s great. Don’t be embarrassed. My only excuse is when I’m panicked to find a squat rack 😉
  • Surround yourself with knowledgeable people. My chiropractor knows what’s wrong with me right away, and is a runner, so she has lots of great suggestions.  Ask lots of questions of people who are better at the sport than you are. I send my lifting videos to a friend, and post them on my public Instagram.
  •  Take time to recover, and vary your activities and intensities. While I was training for this race, I’d run home 5k at a slower pace, and do 2.5-3.5k runs at a faster pace. I also train at the gym 4 days a week, so my legs can get banged up. Lots of epsom salt baths, yoga, and foam rolling. When you’re starting over you need to make sure you take care of yourself.

Good luck!

We can do it!!

My 2017 Books in Review!

What I Read in 2017

In 2017, I read 152 books. I think I had scheduled myself to read 75, because I figured with grad school and thesis-ing, I wouldn’t be able to do it. Turns out, when you have to bus for an hour-and-a-half every day to get out to your co-op job, you still get to read lots! I’ve included a list of some of my favourite books from the year, although it’s certainly hard to remember each book clear enough to know if it was one of the best.

Check out my Goodreads 2017 challenge to see the complete list of what I read, and follow along on my 2018 challenge! #whatjanessareads

Favourite Mysteries:

  • Cocaine Blues (Phryne Fisher #1) by Kerry Greenwood – check out the series on Netflix, too! Australia in the 1920s, she’s a lady who becomes a lady detective. And she gets to sleep around like James Bond, but no slut-shaming!
  • As Death Draws Near (Lady Darby Mystery #5) by Anna Lee Huber – another historical mystery, but during the Victorian period. The main lady’s got gumption. Her husband is pretty smoldering, too.

Favourite SciFi or Fantasy:

  • I read most of Lynn Kurland’s The Nine Kingdoms, and I straight-up couldn’t pick a favourite of the series. It’s just as grungy as Lord of the Rings, but faster, and actually has women.
  • Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6) by Sarah J. Maas – this book was a departure from the usual characters we follow, but I grew to love it. I can’t wait until the next book!
  • A Court of Wings and Ruin (A COurt of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas – I wasn’t a fan of the first book, but the second and third totally redeemed it. Such a great YA fantasy.

Favourite CanLit:

  • Winter on Diamond by Soren Bondrup-Nielson – got me pumped to go on a canoe trip through Temagami, and I was able to look for some things that happen in their story!
  • Quantum Night by Robert J. Sawyer – this book is seriously creepy. It’s way too relevant to Trump-era, of the zombies people become and sociopaths… I got to a particularly scary part as I was drifting off to bed, and since Nic was away on a work trip, I had to put on Netflix to sleep to.
  • Company Town by Madeline Ashby – kinda Newfoundland oil rigger? Post-apocalyptic. People can get 3d prints of body parts, and virtual body parts to appear perfect.

Other Books:

  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid –  without giving up too much of the shocker, Evelyn decides to share her story finally, about all of her personal story.
  • The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay – about a girl who ends up in a brothel in New York, it’s pretty sad. Very well-written.

What did you love in the past year? What are you looking forward to reading in 2018?

Handpoke experience - JanessaMann.com

My First Hand-Poke Tattoo with @Miniminiminatures

Handpoke Experience - JanessaMann.Com

This past weekend I went to Toronto, and managed to find time to get a beautiful handpoke/stick-and-poke tattoo of two mint sprigs. My friend Ang had gotten a bunch of pieces from Odette(@miniminiminiatures), and I knew I wanted something fun.

Nic had a blast hanging out with Lupe, Odette’s boston terrier!

It was really fun collaborating with Odette on how exactly I wanted the poke to look. She had sent me some sketches, and then we worked together to chose the exact angles and the tufts etc. What is the significance of the mint? I love mint.

Handpoke Tattoo Experience - JanessaMann.com
Two sprigs of mint

Cleanliness:

Some people wondered how clean a handpoke tattoo can be, but Odette’s studio is super professional, clean, and comfortable. She had a table (like a massage table) set up in her studio, proper gloves, proper needles, cleaning supplies, etc. All the things that you should ALWAYS look for when you’re getting a tattoo. It’s creating an open wound, and putting foreign matter into your body. No glove, no love.

Pain:

The only real difference between the poke on my bicep and the machine-made tattoos on my feet is the level of pain. On my feet, my tattoos felt like a power drill into my bone. On the arm, it was like a long allergy test (minus the itching). It took about an hour with going over it a couple times. Handpokes, since the needle is smaller, takes longer even though the art is usually smaller.

Handpoke experience - JanessaMann.com

Aftercare:

I used an oil cleanser to be super gentle, dried it with paper towel, and moisturized it with shea butter. It seems to be healing well, and there’s no redness.

Cost:

Cost always depends on the studio, the artist, size, time, etc. One small foot tattoo (about 3 inches long, narrow writing) cost me $120. This tattoo which was about the same size, but way more talent is involved, was cheaper. Studios often charge by hour, but an individual may be able to adjust their budget for you.

I’m super pumped about my newest tattoo (and the fourth one is coming in January, it’ll be a big rib piece!) and can’t wait for it to heal.

First time in Temagami! (Temagami – Willow – Trout Streams – Lady Evelyn River – Diamond 5 day trip)

Temagami Canoe Trip - JanessaMann.Com

August 31-September 4 I got the awesome experience of canoetripping in Temagami. They say it’s the roughest portaging in Ontario (or Canada?), and they’re right. I was worried my back rehab wouldn’t have gone as well as it could have, but I was wrong. I’m not sore, and I feel like I could conquer any task. Temagami was definitely the most intense canoe trip I’ve ever been on, and I’d love to go back for years. I’ve included my edited version of the Temagami Jeff’s Map in case you’re interested in our route.

We rented 55 lb canoes from Smoothwater Outfitters and a 60 L plastic canoe barrel from MEC. The canoes were a good weight, but a little fragile. We managed to get a crack at Sharp Rock portage from someone being too rough putting the food barrel in.

Temagami Canoe Trip - Janessa Mann.com
Temagami Route

Route:

  1. Access point 12 (check with the outfitters nearby to see where you should park your car, we had to park an extra 300 m away)
    1. Canoe through Lake Temagami to Napoleon. Portage seems rough at first, but it’s just the first part of the hill
    2. Go through to Sharp Rock Inlet
  2. Paddle north through Diamond lake to Willow Lake and up to Sucker Gut
  3. Sucker Gut to Trout Streams to as far as you can get on Lady Evelyn Smoothwater River without dying
    1. Make sure you have your portaging technique down (boats first so you can load ASAP) and have ropes ready for some walk-throughs
  4. “Two-miler” portage is rough, to Diamond Lake, to Sharp Rock Inlet
  5. Canoe home!

 

Thursday we only had about 3 hours of work which was nice. We arrived at Smoothwater at 10, loaded up, and were on water by 12. Napoleon’s portage seemed hard at first, but it wasn’t actually. Thursday was very cold. We put all 5 people + 1 dog in the 4 person tent, instead of Nic and I using our own 2 person. Good decision.

 

Friday morning was very cold, just like the night. We paddled about 25 km on Friday and had beautiful weather. We were nervous for our first falls, but turns out Lady Evelyn Falls are a tiny step, and the actual portage was unnecessary. Just carry it over the rocks!

 

We had a beautiful campsite on Sucker Gut Lake, and I actually went swimming (although I’m screaming in that picture)! S’mores, sunsets, and Bailey’s pair well. We were on the water from 9 to 4 including lunch and portages. It’s crazy to see the distance on the map!

 

Saturday the fog was insane, we weren’t even sure it would be gone in time to paddle out! Trout streams was rough. Jeff’s Map (dirty liar) did not mention the rapids/rocks that we had to walk the canoes through (no visible portage, and we got pretty wet- bring sturdy sandals if you’re pulling your canoe through with ropes!). Frank’s Falls and Helen falls were beautiful! Center Falls were the coolest portage, but very tricky with all the cliff faces. Definitely a great campsite if you don’t mind the noise from the falls. With all the portages in quick succession, we finally made it to the turn south onto Lady Evelyn Smoothwater River at 2 for our lunch.

 

By 5 we decided we were done with all the portaging, so we camped at Bridal Veil Falls. Watch out for the end of the portage, you have to get your canoes down a sheer rock face without breaking them or yourself. We used 4 people to zig-zag them down the fissures. The water was super cold, but a well-needed relief.

Sunday started off beautiful. We anticipated some short portages (again in quick succession) and some drag-throughs, but they ended up being relatively fast. The water was even high enough that we skipped the last rapids and portage before the Two-miler portage.

Temagami Canoe Trip - JanessaMann.Com
The shit-bog

The “two-miler” portage (2.2km) actually ends in another km of a bog. That was rough. I’ll talk more about that in the “Lessons Learned from Temagami” post, or follow along on my Instagram! That took us a full 2 hours with getting stuck in the bog.

Ally and I were a little hysterical by the end, not gonna lie. It was a good break to be able to paddle for longer than 10 minutes on Diamond! We made it back to Deer Island to stay on the site we had eyed-up on Thursday.

Temagami Canoe Trip - JanessaMann.Com
Temagami did not destroy us!

Monday at 4am we got rain. Until about 10am. I couldn’t sleep just thinking about how rough the access road would be. We had a good, fast paddle through the wind, paused for a picture on Lake Temagami, and made it to the outfitters by 11:30.

This was the best canoe trip I’ve ever been on, hands-down. I loved it. I can’t wait to explore Temagami more!

Our bunny Pekoe!

On June 11, 2017, Nic and I headed over to the Ottawa Humane Society to adopt a bunny. I saw Hazel (her name there) huddled in a corner of a cage, and knew she would be the one. I picked her up, and she nuzzled right in. The poor baby had a shaved patch on her stomach and back from where she was spayed and micro-chipped, and her bones stuck out of her back. She also wouldn’t stop shaking. Nic and I immediately got the paperwork started.

We decided to change her name, and went with Pekoe, as in orange pekoe tea. She was born February 9, 2017, so she’s about 5 months old. I’m glad we were able to adopt a baby, because it’s such a fun time. We were told they didn’t know why she was up for adoption, but was transferred in from Toronto. They also said she was a netherland dwarf/rex mix. Now that I’ve done some research, I’ve determined that is incorrect: she’s actually a silver marten bunny.

Pekoe - JanessaMann.Com

I had a bunny, Gypsy, when I was growing up, and she was an adorable sassy princess (like really, she sat on her throne and surveyed us) but I didn’t quite understand rabbit language at that time. Now it’s been super cool to understand when Pekoe wants certain things, and being a lot more comfortable handling her. She also isn’t a dwarf, so she likes to cuddle. That’s key.

Litter training with the bunbun took a couple weeks of catching her pooping elsewhere, putting her in the litter box, and dropping her (dry) poop in with her. I think shame does wonders for litter training. She’s been wonderful to have around, so great to come home to and spend lots of time cuddling. She’s even picked up on my morning routine, I let her tear around my office after her breakfast for the time it takes to do my makeup, and then she hopes right back in. Smart bun!

Touring Around Prince Edward County

Prince Edward County - JanessaMann.Com

July 7-9, Nic and I drove down to Prince Edward County with our friends Ivania and Nick. It was my first time going on a wine tour and being in that area, and we had a lot of fun.

Saturday morning started at Waupoos Winery, which is right on the water. It’s a beautiful location, and they were setting up for a wedding! A wedding there would be so wonderful! We paid $5 each for a quick tour which explained how the wine is made, and then tried 2 whites and 2 reds. For red wines, we tried Red Rabbit 2016 and the Flirty Red. The white wines we tried the honeysuckle 2015, and Marquette 2016. The wines they shared are probably a little too complicated for me: I’m a lover of Rieslings and Gewurtztraminers.

One of our favourite parts of the winery was their petting zoo across the road! We got to pet some adorable baby goats and hung out with some chickens.

The County Cider Company was a quick drive away, up the hill. Again for $5, we got a flight of 4 ciders. Each of them was delicious, and we purchased a 4-pack. We ate our picnic lunch in their field (and got chased off once we were mostly done) instead of eating at their outdoor patio, which smelled delicious. Oops. Next time we’ll have to go to their patio!

They sell the Premium Cider at the LCBO and I”ll have to try it there! County pear is delish, and so are Tortured Path, County Premium, and Feral. We bought blood orange, too, and I’m pumped to try them out. Definitely good ciders.

The Kinsip Distillery (formerly 66 Gillead) was a cool spot. Nic had been there a few weeks before for a bachelor party, and he was adamant we needed to return. He was right. The bartender explained that even though their vodka had wheat in it, the distilling process removes the gluten, so I felt safe taking a taste. I loved their pine-infused vodka, and I look forward to trying it in a ceasar as they suggested! We’ve purchased that. I also really, really love their re-branding-I can’t wait to finish our bottle since he said the new branding for that vodka will be out this summer!

We also checked out the Grange (a disappointment), Hinterland Wineries (their Borealis and Whitecap sparkling wine are delicious), and Norman Hardie, where we purchased their Riesling.

The Drake Devonshire - JanessaMann.com
*cheering emoji*

For our 5a7, we booked in at the Drake Devonshire in Wellington. Check out my review! Supper was on the patio of the Agrarian, which was nice, but we probably wouldn’t repeat it due to weird service interactions and not being able to do necessary substitutions.

I can’t wait to go again next year! I’d love to check out some more, and I’m sure I’ll want to re-purchase some of the items you can’t get in the LCBO yet!

The Drake Devonshire – Prince Edward County

The Drake Devonshire - JanessaMann.Com

The Drake Devonshire - JanessaMann.com

In July, we took a weekend trip to Prince Edward County with some friends. We had beautiful weather, and loved checking out the wineries, a cider company, and breweries.

Saturday night we went to the Drake Devonshire for  our 5-a-7. The location was beautiful. So great.

The Drake Devonshire - JanessaMann.com

It’s got the same cool, mid-century feel as the Drake Hotel in Toronto, but more Palm Springs inspired with all the outdoor aspects due to it being right on Lake Ontario. I would absolutely love to stay there and wake up with their yoga classes on the waterfront, and a phenomenal brunch.

The Drake Devonshire - JanessaMann.com

The Drake Devonshire - JanessaMann.com
*cheering emoji*

They had some delicious mixed drinks. I got their Wanderlust (grapefruit, cucumber, mint, raspberry, lemon, seltzer water, and added tequila). We also had their “loaded potatoes” with a delicious spicy sauce.

The Drake Devonshire - JanessaMann.com
the lakeshore

Wouldn’t that be an awesome view for your morning coffee?!

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the patio

The Drake Devonshire - JanessaMann.com

Certainly a boutique hotel and restaurant is a little more expensive than others, but I’d say it was worth it. The Drake was wonderful, and I’m looking  forward to trying it again next time we head out that way!