Snickers vs Mars vs 3 Musketeers

In the showdown between candy bar giants, who was the winner? (sidenote: US seems to prefer candy bar to our more regional ‘chocolate bar’)

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Clearly Snickers was the winner, with a balanced palate of salty/sweet (but not cloyingly sweet) and a pleasant texture of nougat/caramel/chopped peanuts, that appealed to most in the office. It has the added bonus of protein from the peanuts, so it is practically a health food. Maybe even a vegetable, if we want to go US-style here. Seasonal variations on Snickers bars include almonds and dark chocolate!

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Second place is kind of a toss-up between Mars and 3 Musketeers *I wanted to write 2 Musketeers, I mean it only has nougat (more marshmallowy) and chocolate so what is the third element here?

Mars lost ground in this round due to the overwhelming sweetness of the whole bar. A stiffer nougat chew was nice, but it’s so sweet it makes all of our fillings ache. Caramel is a good touch but again, just too damn sweet. Plus, no peanuts so…It seems overwhelmingly bad for you. I can’t even justify it really. Their seasonal variation at one point was Mars Maple, available only in…drumroll please…Canada. It’s just a Mars. What more do you want??

3 Musketeers also failed here due to its marshmallowy texture and no added fun features like nuts or caramel. A bland marshmallow bar? I would eat that and I still really like them (and the internet says 3 Musketeers has experimented with strawberry marshmallow nougat and also dark chocolate, so they have some intrepid fans for sure)…But here it just got lost in the wishy-washy sweetness and no backstory.

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Also this might be in our future too if we keep this up past Halloween! Thank you to my colleague for providing the chocolate bars for our taste tests.

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Guest post: Finlayson Arm 28k 2017 Race Recap!

Courtesy of my husband who bravely undertook this insane race last weekend! Without further ado:

The good memories of the 28k Finlayson Arm race are overshadowed by my evolution through intensifying stages of discomfort. This constant pain was punctuated by bursts of sunlight piercing magically down between treetops, a stunning vista or two and little reminders that this amazing network of trails is in my own backyard. There was also the reminder that I had volunteered for this little jaunt through the woods and that no one would sympathize with my agony.

A few weeks before the race, I had decided that four hours was the longest it would take me – the rough number to beat. I figured that was setting expectations so low that I was sure to finish with a smile. There was even some pre-race training for me, complete with my brand new water-bladder on my back and getting lost for an hour or two in the trails behind Thetis Lake. I felt sure-footed and strong. This was a race I could do. All I needed to do was power through some tough hills and keep moving. In a sense, that’s exactly how things turned out.

It was a chilly morning when we set out – cool and clear over night – but the forecast was sunny. The 50k and (suicidal) 100k racers had finished the day before in the rain. As if their punishment was not enough. I went quick off the start as I anticipated getting bottlenecked later on the narrow single-track. After a kilometer I was established near the top 10. Then we hit the creek. Anyone who has been to Goldstream Park will notice how a four-lane highway rips through the middle with no safe way to get from one side to the other. You either need to dodge cars or get your feet wet (and maybe your legs and maybe your ass depending on how nimble you are). A rope strung across helped the crossing not be complete madness, but it was a gritty way to start a race.

With wet feet I carried up through the rolling side hill on the west side of the highway. This is a really nice section of trail that I will have to remember to check out when I’m not racing. It was a time to flex out your legs, find your pace and your seeding, a bit of a free pass before you hit the real hills. Looking back I wonder if I went too fast in this section, maybe blowing too much gas.

About five kilometers in, we were back under the highway (luckily through a dry stream bed this time) and through the main park, eerily deserted in the still early morning. I already had a pain in my leg, a nagging injury that I’m learning to live with, so I started to run a bit more cautiously.

Next it was on to the main event of the first half of the race, up the face of Mt Finlayson. There’s a slow build to remind you that this is a serious climb, to check your pace and your ambition. Then it gets steeper. Then the trail kinda takes a break and you start scrambling over rock, open to the sky. I should mention at this point all the volunteers and signage to keep you on track. There is plenty of both and I always felt like I knew where I needed to go. They seemed to anticipate in these early sections where you might go astray and had people there to point. On the mountain there were more guides. It’s the kind of climb where there is the very real possibility of running off a cliff into thin air so I’m glad they were there to point the best way.

At the top of the hill I felt pretty good. Well, not good. My legs were burning. But there was a lift in getting over what I knew was the hardest section of trail and I had kept my pace and not been passed. It was this feeling that propelled me down the backside, not too steep (which was nice) and into trail that I had never seen before. Just before we popped out on asphalt (a surprise) I was passed by someone with a bit more lift than me, but I stayed on his heels as we ran along the short section of road towards the first aid station.

The station could not come soon enough. Almost two hours into the run, I suddenly felt depleted. I wanted to stop and sit and eat some cookies, but my new nemesis just cruised on through. I grabbed a cookie and a banana piece anyway and set off on the next leg, back into trail. This is where my memory of the route got a bit hazy. What kilometre were we at? How far to the turnaround? Basically, the race had moved solidly into ‘not-fun-anymore’ territory and I was doing some mental math on how much longer I would have to move. At two hours the footsteps behind me turned into people passing me. I tried my best to make sure they weren’t increasing their lead on me, but I found myself slowing on every little hill, my flow completely evaporating.

There is a long hill in this section that, mentally, nearly did me in. Where was the bloody turnaround? The trail was also quite technical, with loose rocks and big steps up in places. Then I saw the front runners coming back down and couldn’t decide if I was elated or destroyed. It meant the end must be near but also put the necessary route back home into perspective. At least they were giving shout outs to keep me going: “Almost there!” I hoped they were right. Finally there were more people coming back down towards me – people I recognized! Hey, you’re only a bit ahead of me! And there were the volunteers, a photographer snapping a picture of my grimaced face, and the end of the ‘out’ – it was time for the ‘back.’ (Side note: one of the volunteers or spectators or whatever was announcing ‘halfway there’ and I thought that was a bit cruel. Maybe most didn’t hear or didn’t care, but I was a believer for a moment. Could this truly be only halfway?)

I was so happy to be heading home (and downhill to boot) that I even passed who I would later find out was my trail buddy. I swung my bag around and took out my gel pack. Time to take in some energy and get going. Things were looking good. Now it was my turn to dish out enthusiasm to those still on the grind to the top – “keep going,” and “almost there” I kept saying even as it became less true the further I went. And there were so many people behind me. I was doing well! Then all of a sudden I wasn’t.

I was coming undone, step by step.

After three hours of “running” I did not have the strength to keep my pace, or any pace. I was passed, then passed again. I knew the aid station would be coming back up again but I needed it now. As I popped out of the woods back into the daylight I was passed by another three. But I had to take a moment. I grabbed another gel pack, a banana and squashed a cookie in my mouth. The volunteers were asking if I needed to fill my pack, something to drink. I shook my head and imagined the madness in my eyes. I muttered something about wanting to use up what I had. Maybe I had filled my pack too full as well. Then I was off for the final few kilometers and my once measured race became an unhinged stumble to the end.

The return route did not go back over Mt Finlayson, but skirted along one side. It was a rolling bit of trail that took a lot of focus. Right in front of me was the aforementioned Trail Buddy – temporary companions in suffering. It felt reassuring to keep pace with someone. Those who had passed us seemed to have extra energy to tap and were pulling away, but we were hanging in there, moving forward. I knew the end could not be too far off, but looking at my watch I began to wonder if I would get in under four hours. More importantly, would I be able to stand on my feet for that long? We rounded the mountain and rejoined the steep trail up from before – this time heading down. My legs – knees, shins – could not handle the steep downhill. I grimaced with every step. Up or down would not do; I needed flat, please.

Down and down we went and we were passed again. My world got smaller as I narrowed my focus on foot placement without collapsing or catapulting downhill.

Next was a split off to the left, in the direction of end/start. I could hear the highway again. I was picturing a mental map of the park and where we were in relation to salvation. The end could be around any bend, I told myself after every bend. Out of nowhere this guy in his sixties came up on us, hooting and and maniacally urging us along. “C’mon boys, let’s give ‘em hell” he shouted as if we were heading over the top of the trenches or storming Normandy. I put on a face and groaned some more. The crazy old man disappeared whooping and skipping along. Maybe I imagined the whole thing.

Then at about the same time that I decided my legs were finished, I spotted spectators ahead. There was a volunteer with a clipboard, calling ahead with my number, the sound of fans and a PA system blurting out names and congratulations. And then I heard my name, a mix-up, before I shot out onto the grass and over the finish, some prize pack thrust into my hands, the buzz of activity all around. There was my run buddy (he beat me in the end) with a high five and then food, glorious food.

For the next 45 minutes or so, I paced around in agony in between vigorous stuffing of burgers and beer. I could not decide whether to sit, stand, walk, or crawl into the bushes for a little nap. It was agony, but I had done it. And I never had to do it again.

I stayed on to cheer some others as they came across. A seventy year old, a guy who had finished the 100k yesterday was doing the ‘double-double,’ some others who I recognized from races past. Were they fast, was I slow? Did we all do “alright?” I cared a little. As much as this race was an experiment, you want to do well. Or well enough for your expectations.

I got in at 3 hours and 51 minutes, somehow just inside my (soft) target. I might as well have run a marathon. It’s the slowest 28 kilometers I’ll likely ever run yet certainly one to remember.

My Reviews: Reese’s Creamy Peanut Butter

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Yummmm

Just so you know the depths of my peanut butter/Reese’s addiction- you can’t buy these in Canada, not quite yet. I bought these from England via Amazon.

I know, I know. But still, I HAD to try them. And I have seen them in Canada, weirdly in Penticton at a candy store so there is always that option…Back to the peanut butter. At first glance and smell, it looks just like normal peanut butter- your Jif, Skippy, Kraft, et al. BUT on tasting it, it has a more intensely smooth flavour and texture.

Where the lesser peanut butters fail (oily, weird, bad mouthfeel and cheap tasting), the Reese’s Peanut Butter has a fabulous mouth feel despite what can only be a gazillion calories in palm oil, etc. However, you can’t fool yourself- it’s still peanut butter, not a Reese’s spread. It is lacking the gritty, delicious texture and taste of the Reese’s Spreads. So, it’s probably the best dessert peanut butter I have ever had, and yes there is a difference between what I think is ‘dessert peanut butter’ and more ‘savoury peanut butter’- see Adam’s peanut butter for an example).

I also went nuts on it the other day and I ate probably half a jar, so if that says anything about it to you…In my defense I prepared for this eventuality and ate a salad for dinner and then marshmallows with peanut butter for the main course.

Biggest weekend recap ever: Jumping, massively sick, a bachlorette party?

Thursday I rode in my lesson (perhaps unwisely) as I had gotten turned away at work for showing up sick…I had a horrible sore throat that came on suddenly overnight and it was just awful. I couldn’t sleep all night, felt like knives stabbing my throat and I couldn’t swallow, my throat was so swollen.

Yay…

So I went home and lay around the house after work kicked me out. It was so boring that I was desperate to do something, so I dragged myself out of the house and went, drowsily, to my lesson. Where we jumped 2’9” hahah.

I know eh? But hey, it went fine! Scared the bejeezus out of me but he did it great every time! More times than I wanted to jump even! We just kept doing it. The other jumps weren’t…so good. He had some issues with a short distance into a line and kept slamming on the brakes? WTF? He is not a horse that stops, and it was NOT high, haha. It was almost like he was getting spooked by it? Weird. We did that one over and over again until it was fine with no issues.

Silly pony. 2’9” oxer no prob, but 2’3” black and yellow? Nuh huh!

I felt very spacey and dizzy after. Ugh. Just in time for my sister’s bachlorette party in Kelowna, which I was flying out to on Friday. Whoop! *cough* cough* sneeze repeatedly, cough some more…My sinuses hurt…

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The view from Arrowleaf winery. Sigh…

But yes, Kelowna. Despite being pretty sick, I had a really fun time! We rented a condo in a golf course area, and we had a blast! We visited the Kangaroo farm on Saturday, and then found a beach that wasn’t completely flooded out to chill out on and eat some junk food picnic, drink some booze, and float around on the lake!

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We wrapped up that day by more drinks around the pool at the condo, and then a BBQ (that turned out to be a total shenanigan…we had no propane tank?) meaning we had to make friends with a football team staying at the golf course to borrow their propane tank…It didn’t work so we had to get them over to fix it…I then put temporary tattoos on them like ‘Cheers Bitches’ and ‘Team Bride’ and ‘Miss to Mrs.”…fun times!

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I’m a natural (wallaby) mother!

I drank a touch too much but also I blame the heat (28 deg and unused to it) + junk food+ cold medication so yeah, ended up feeling quite rough the next morning. I got my run gear on, went to tie up my shoes, immediately felt like puking, ran to the bathroom, threw up, and then went back to try the shoes again (success!) and went on a wimpy, hot, weirdly sweaty run.

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Got back, still felt queasy and ick, showered and ate a bagel and then we were off to wine tours! The tours were great, we went to these wineries and they all had really neat and different venues with lots to offer.

  • The Blind Tiger
  • Arrowleaf Winery
  • Parallel 50
  • Grey Monk- we had lunch here and it is PRICEY. The food was not included in the wine tour, so the tour was $150, and lunch at the winery ran about $45/per person. Ouch!
  • Intrigue Winery

All in all, a great but quite expensive day.

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What’s a bachlorette party without hunks?

Then we were back to the pool & hot tub, and I swam for a bit in the pool. Really enjoyed it! I wast totally sacked though, so I prepared dinner for the gang (all 7 of us) from our grocery leftovers and did a pretty good job if I do say so myself, and then went to bed and didn’t sleep at all. Sigh! My flight out was at 8:45am on Monday and I felt so sad to leave. It was so hot, it felt like summer was finally here.

A good weekend all around, and I even got back to ride Oats on Monday, get a sunburn on my shoulders and still continue being sick back at work today. That part sucks!

Back from holidays! (nothing was the same)

A week away feels so much longer, particularly when I was coming down from several months of extreme stress, pressure and sickness.

And WOW it was worth it. Such a great holiday, such a great time.

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Greetings from sunny Sayulita!

We visited Sayulita in Mexico, close to Puerto Vallarta – roughly an hour away. An easy place to get to, and an easy place to like. Eternal summer.

We did everything. Horseback riding on the beach, hanging out with friends, boogie boarding at the main beach, swimming in the ocean every day, snorkeling, stand up paddleboarding, hiking, I went on one run, and a boat trip to the Marietas Islands (more on that later…).

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We even got to gallop on the beach!

I miss it. I feel sad to be back.

The food was so great, we cooked/ate a lot of meals at our VRBO rental- which was great, by the way. The only downside was the shared plunge pool that ended up being not-so-shared as our neighbour unit had a large family and kind of ended up occupying it. Oh well!

What did we eat? Octopus! Shrimps! So many shrimps, I felt sick. Shrimped out!

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Cooked my first whole octopus

We made fresh salads with avocado, queso fresco, salt and lime. That’s all you need for seasoning, as we found out. We drank Coronas (me) Pacifico (Ian) and then later, Agua fresca  Jamaica for me (when I was off booze).

Restaurants? We did that too! We ate at La Esperanza, pricier than the other joints but SO high quality- I had tuna steaks in hibiscus sauce on mashed plantains, and it was AMAZING. So much tuna I gave some to Ian because I was full and still kind of reeling from my hangover.

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Souvenir beach bag I bought for my sister.

We also did an entire night of street foot- we started with tacos el Ivan and got eight – ocho-tacos al pastor for super cheap, $100 pesos? Next we had hot churros, and then a beef tamale, and then corn in a cup. It was all so good! In the beginning of our trip, we ate ceviche from a street vendor and it was excellent and fresh. So much good food!

The only tragedy was our boat trip to the Marietas Islands. I was excited for it, and the boat ride out was really nice, we saw dolphins and blue-footed booby birds and their chicks at the islands!

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Ill fated boat trip, oh against my better judgement

We snorkeled a bit but I was freezing- the water was cold and kind of silty so it wasn’t great snorkeling so I swam back to the boat and hopped on a stand-up paddleboard. It was tough and tippy!

On our way back, we swam some more, had lunch and plentiful snacks, and ….my ultimate downfall, copious amounts of free flowing booze like pina coladas, margaritas, tropical drinks and shots. Jesus.

Anyways, you can see where this is going…I drank WAY too much, encouraged by the atmosphere and fun and I completely lost control. The minute I stepped off the boat and onto the bus to head back to Sayulita, I was throwing up uncontrollably. Ian gave me a water bottle and it fell uselessly out of my hands because I couldn’t even clutch anything.

Threw up out the window the whole way back, and we staggered to the plaza- we stopped there so Ian could go to the bathroom, and I proceeded to throw up over the back of the park bench in the middle of the day, bright sunlight. YUCK.

We staggered back to our place, and I was so sick I couldn’t even make it to the bathroom (yes puking in a bucket, please and thank you)…

Passed out apparently with my eyes open, creepily.

Threw up at night again.

Rinse, repeat.

So, Thursday was not a great day after but I rallied and we went to the beach and got a Chocobanana (great!) and I managed to eat some stuff later on. I wasn’t feeling too miserable, because I guess passing out at 5pm the day before gives you plenty of time to stew in your misery before getting it over with.

So, yeah I am kind of off booze for now, giving my poor liver and brain a break plus GAG.

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The endless summer of San Pancho

But, I LOVED Sayulita and San Pancho and would definitely go back. Love Mexico!

New Reese’s Easter Egg: My review!

Thanks again to the generosity of Stephen May, and as promised- a review as soon as I had time/ate it! As you can see, my Reese’s Egg had a fold where the second eye was supposed to be so the chick is giving me a jaunty wink…

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Opened it up and it has a patterned egg with festive Easter designs and the Reese’s logo. It seems they try harder than Cadbury’s, but also my suspicions are that the Reese’s Egg is slightly lighter than Cadbury. Can we get an exact weight on each, please? Want to make sure nobody is getting ripped off here in the cut-throat world of Easter candy.

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Opening it up, it’s glorious. Full peanutbuttery glory, full to the brim and it tastes EXACTLY like a better Reese’s peanut butter cup – chiefly because the ratio of peanut butter filling to-chocolate- is even higher. YUM!

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It does have a strange, almost licorice after -taste that I am noticing 3 minutes after eating it, but that’s not going to detract from it for me! It’s very good, and it beats Cadbury’s hands-down. (But I will still buy & hoard Cadburys too, because who are we kidding?!). The chocolate shell may be a bit cheaper and thinner- it seemed much softer than Cadbury’s right off the bat.

Fly in the ointment- the price is silly. I saw them at Save-on for $1.19 this weekend and as high as $1.29 at the less competitively priced Pharmasave and Shoppers. Please- this is a small treat and the price is not competitive. Wait for these things on sale, or better yet…cut out the middle man and buy a jar of Reese’s spread- less festive but so good! I like eating it with pretzels. And a jar does not last long around me.

That is my one caveat for all Easter (and probably Halloween) candy- it’s just not worth what the price is for novelty items.

VIRA Race Recap: Comox Half Marathon!

So yeah, this blog right now is just for race recaps apparently. I have a good reason for it- I have been under an insane amount of pressure at work, and starting to crack. I haven’t had any time/inclination to blog because the only things I’d write are about how unhappy I am, and how miserable things are.

So…Please consider that warning for the next, oh, three weeks. Things are not great in my world in one particular area, and it’s killing my motivation, desire and will to live. OH well. This is also time sensitive so hopefully in three weeks I can be happier.

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Me and a Bastion Run Club guy. Incidentally, the photo is also by Bastion Run Club! 🙂

Without further ado…the big race!!!

It was a GLORIOUS day to race. Sunny skies, not too cold, not windy, not raining?!! A lovely day all around. I was so happy to just be out, doing my thing. The volunteers at this race are fantastic- so cheery and fun, and encouraging. I just love them 🙂

I had a pretty significant head cold the entire week leading up the race. I was exhausted, coughing, sinus pain & pressure, ear pressure/pain that kept me from work on Friday even? And just feeling super shitty and blah. Spent most of the weekend either laying on the couch or sleeping. So sick+overwhelmed at work= success?!!

Something like that at least! I swear I wasn’t the only one blowing my nose at the start on the race.

I didn’t really have high hopes for the race. I wanted to complete it, chiefly because you have to race the half marathon to be eligible for series awards at the end of the season. Other than that, I was kind of just hoping to not collapse or something.

Off we went, and I started very conservatively. Very. Like, 4:49 conservatively, ha. And it felt hard…I kind of felt like dying for oh, the first 9km. It doesn’t help that the course is an out-and-back, and the out part is a lot of uphills. Still, I stayed present and kept an eye on people. I wasn’t ready to make any moves yet, but I could see some people who were foolishly tearing out before the 5km marker–I knew they wouldn’t last. It’s a looooong race, guys.

I grabbed electrolyte drink at 7km (bizarrely it was clear) and focused on making it up the hills between 7-9km. It was kind of horrible.

I started making my move after 11km. Then, we were flying downhill and I was feeling ok- not great, but that I could actually do this. Run a competent, solid race. I was making it happen! Fortunately or unfortunately for me, every time I tried to pick up the pace I couldn’t breathe, so it forced me to maintain a very manageable pace instead of flying and dying like I kind of wanted to…

At 18km, I felt like staggering. I couldn’t believe there was so much left. My legs were done! I felt sorry for myself until I passed the runner ahead of me. WHa?

Why is she letting this happen? Letting me pass her at 18? Suddenly I could run again, I was doing ok and making it!!! WOW! I never have that feeling this late in the game.

I cruised up to the finish line with a blistering (ha) 5:00km pace – ok, it felt fast anyways.

And I didn’t even feel that bad! WOAH!

We had the best food after too- chili, with buns and cheese 🙂 YUM!!! Oh and my husband finished with a crazy fast time- he got 1:34, while I got 1:44. I was very pleased with my time too, as this is now my personal best for the half marathon. I have a feeling that I can do better now.