Thursday, 22 December 2011

Homeland

Showtime Network's 'Homeland' concluded its first season on Sunday night - my favourite show on TV in 2011. 

Claire Danes is phenomenal in the lead role as Carrie Mathison, a bipolar CIA intelligence analyst; and Damien Lewis is great as Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody who returns to the US after being held captive in Iraq for more than half a decade.  The show-stealer in my opinion is Mandy Patinkin playing Saul Berenson, a grizzled CIA career intelligence officer who is Claire Danes' mentor.

Check it out!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Muskoka Long Course

Trisport Canada, which is owned by World Triathlon Corporation, released their 2012 series schedule this week, and the biggest change was the replacement of the Muskoka Long Course race with a 5150 event.

The race has been run at two unique distances since 1996 (2K swim, 55K bike, and a 15K run until 2009, 13K run in 2010 and 2011).  Check out this impressive roster of athletes who have won this race:

Simon Whitfield in 2005 and 2006 (Olympic gold and silver medalist)
Karen Smyers in 2001 (Two-time ITU world champion, Ironman world champion)
Craig Alexander in 2007 (Three-time Ironman world champion, two-time Ironman 70.3 world champion)
Lisa Bentley in 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003 and 2009 (11 time Ironman champion, 3rd place Ironman world championships)
Miles Stewart in 2004 (ITU world champion)
Samantha McGlone in 2005 and 2007 (Ironman 70.3 world champion, 2nd place Ironman world championships, Ironman champion)
Dave Harju in 2001 (Two-time Ironman champion)
Tereza Macel in 2000, 2004 and 2006 (Four-time Ironman champion, 4th place Ironman world championships)
Jasper Blake in 2000 (Ironman champion) 
Melissa Spooner in 1997 (Two-time Ironman champion, 4th place Ironman world championships)
Jamie Cleveland in 1999 (Ironman champion)
Christine Jeffrey in 2010 (4th place XTERRA world championships)
Mark Bates in 1997 (4th place ITU world championships, 2nd place Ironman Canada, 2nd place Pan Am Games)

In addition to these winners of the Muskoka race, past participants included Luc van Lierde (Ironman world champion and Kona course record holder from 1996 to 2011), Luke McKenzie (five-time Ironman champion), Bryan Rhodes (four-time Ironman champion), Tom Evans (two-time Ironman champion) and Tara Norton, Donna Phelan, Paolina Allan and Sheri Fraser, all Canadian long-course veterans who've placed 2nd overall at Ironman races.  Oh, and don't forget local Muskoka hero Nat 'Dream Crusher' Faulkner.

I raced the Long Course three times - in 2008 as a qualifier for Ironman Canada, in 2009 while battling a rib injury, and in 2011 where I had a 'breakthrough' race - swam as expected, was able to ride with former pro Richard Pady for almost the entire 55K bike ride, then ran a 45:00 13K run which equalled Wolf Guembel's run course record.
Burning it up on the run course in Huntsville
While I'll miss the unique race distance, I'm actually excited for the Olympic distance race.  When Sean Bechtel won this year, he noted on his blog that he won $250, versus $2,500 that he took home for coming third four years earlier.  The prize money for the Muskoka 5i50 is $3,000 for the winner and pays five deep (down to $500).  There's a lack of competitive Olympic distance races in Ontario (Rob Allen's Cornwall Triathlon is probably the most competitive), and I feel it's the distance I'm most suited to, so I'm planning on being there on July 22nd to test myself against the big boys!




Friday, 9 December 2011

The National

Was lucky to catch these five guys from Brooklyn (via Cincinnati) perform at the ACC last night, where they knocked it out of the park.  Super cool show, with strong performances from both opening acts as well (Wyk Oak and Neko Case).  

They opened the show with 'Runaway', here's a live vid of them performing the same tune in Brooklyn: Frontman Mark Berninger's refrain might be "No I won't be no runaway, because I won't run"...but I will, first 20+km run since Hawaii on the schedule tomorrow AM...

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Montreal

The wonders of modern technology are allowing me to blog on the VIA Rail train back to Toronto after an awesome weekend in Montreal.  The purpose of this weekend was to give the stomach a proper workout while catching up with some super fun people in la belle province.  

Our gastro-tour started with breakfast bagels from St-Viateur Bagel in the 'le plateau' area of Montreal, complete with French Pressed coffee and fresh grapefruits.  
Carb-o-licious Goodness
To work up an appetite for our next round of culinary delights, we ran a 13.5K loop up and down Mont Royal on a sunny fall afternoon.  We weren't part of the Running Room's 5K Santa Shuffle, but we saw tons of kids making their way back down the mountain after their race.  Great to see so many people out and active on a sunny Saturday!
The Cross marking the turnaround point on the Mont Royal loop
Post-run snack was homemade sliders with oven-baked potato chips and homemade hummus, with a few beers thrown in during the Canadiens-Kings game.  All of this was just a prelude to the weekend's main course, dinner at Verses Restaurant in Old Montreal, where my good friend from university, Anthony Joyce, is the chef-en-cuisine.
Delicieux.
Our feast included the following:
- Beet salad with caramelized nuts, Ciel de Charlevoix cheese, pickled cucumber and sorrel pesto
- Poutine revisitee with foie gras, aged Quebec cheddar, French anna potatoes and roasted chicken sauce
- Braised sweetbreads with lentils and wild mushrooms
- Seared giant scallop with squash fritter, house bacon, herbed green pea puree and shellfish emulsion
- Bison tartar with crispy root vegetables
- Homemade ravioli stuffed with squash and aged Quebec cheddar, topped with black trumpet mushrooms and port reduction
- Truffle crusted beef tenderloin in a Madeira sauce served with French anna potatoes and seasonal vegetables
- Wild boar loin with chestnut crumble, braised cabbage roll stuffed with Jerusalem artichokes and  spiced apple sauce
- A sampling of all the desserts on the menu.

The aftermath of this consumption massacre was quick onset of the food coma and a very lazy Sunday morning.

Sunday brunch was at Lawrence Restaurant in le plateau - super busy spot, we waited 40 minutes for a table but they call when your table is ready allowing us to prep with cappucinos and caffe lattes at the home of Montreal's best coffee, Cafe Olimpico.  Lawrence makes their own beignes, sugar-coated and stuffed with either chocolate, custard or lemon.  Great start to the meal (we had all three types), I finished brunch off with the English breakfast - fried egg, home fries, sausage, bacon, French bread just soaked in butter, and blood pudding. 

Stomach has been fully worked-out, will likely feel a touch heavy in the pool tomorrow morning but it was well worth it!