Toronto – wine, run, food, friends. And video of Abby seeing me after weekend away!

What an incredible weekend in Toronto!! One where I was reminded, on more than one occasion, that I’m not as young as I used to be!!

I have driven the Ottawa – Toronto route countless times as I used to live just on the other side of Toronto, in Guelph, for almost 10 years and even after I moved back to Ottawa, I was driving back and forth a few times each month to visit my partner who lived in Guelph. I used to leave right after work on Friday and arrive late that night and then leave Sunday evening and arrive back in Ottawa very late…and go to work the next day. There was nothing to that 5 hour drive.


This weekend, I couldn’t even fathom getting in my car after work and driving the 4 hours to Toronto. I didn’t think that I could actually stay awake. #old

So I got up first thing Saturday morning, packed up the car as well as Abby and headed out. I dropped Abby off at the kennel on my way out of town and then made my way to Toronto. Basically, you just drive on one highway, the 401, the entire way. The part of the 401 that passes through Toronto is the busiest highway in North America and one of the widest and busiest in the world. In other words, it can make you want to scream and pull your hair out.

I stopped once on my way there to fuel both myself and the car up at one of its (the 401) rest stops. Over the last 8 years, all the rest stops were bought out by one company and completely torn down and re-built – they’re beautiful! Well, if rest stops can be beautiful! LOL!

I arrived at my best friend Erin’s house at around 12:30pm. Erin and I have been best friends since grade 9, we went to university together and lived together all through undergrad (she’s the one who went to Jerry Springer with me). She is awesome. She is married and has two kids – Josh (6 yrs old) and Bronwyn or “B” (3 yrs old) – who are hilarious.

B amused herself (and me) for hours blowing bubbles and chasing them around.

And as for Josh…well, I didn’t actually interact with him all that much this visit – he really just wants to play baseball.. TWENTY. FOUR. SEVEN.

Erin and I hung out Saturday afternoon in their backyard (it was a BEAUTIFUL day) and just got caught up on life – we had spoken, but hadn’t seen each other since February.  Then that night they had some friends over and we had a bbq – the food was great (steak, pasta salad, corn on the cob) but the absolute best was brought by one of the guests:

Yes, they were to die for. And yes, I ate every last crumb of mine.

The evening was SO MUCH FUN. And we drank SO MUCH WINE. Which led to another reminder of how I’m not as young as I used to be.

Got into bed and set my alarm for 6am because someone was picking me up at 7:30am to go for a run. Yes, this still seemed like a good idea at the time.

Well, as you can imagine, it felt like I blinked and my alarm was going off. And let me tell you, I thought I had been hit by a train. Right, I’m not that young anymore, thanks for the reminder. But, I had plans with a fellow runner, so I needed to just get up and at it, right?

Having Princess B come visit me soon after my alarm went off certainly helped – how can you not smile when a 3-year old puts this on and comes to say good morning to you?

And soon after Josh joined us…note the hockey stick in one hand and his baseball glove in the other. Seriously, the kid is obsessed!!

As for this run. I had reached out to 2 runners I had met on Twitter who I knew lived in Toronto and asked if they wanted to take me running while I was there and they readily agreed! However, one of them, Ricki decided to just join us after for brunch as she is just coming back to running after a lengthy injury. So Mark picked me up at 7:30am. I was super excited…Erin, however, was nervous. I guess I understood why…Mark was really a stranger after all! Turns out, Mark might be the funniest person I have ever met. Within 20 seconds of being in his car he had me in stitches and it didn’t stop until I said goodbye to him 4 hours later!

We had decided we would do 15k and it was a stunning day to be doing this in Toronto all along its waterfront (the lakeshore of one of the great lakes – Lake Ontario).

We stopped and asked a woman walking her dog is she would take our picture – convenient that it was in front of one of Toronto’s most famous landmarks – the CN Tower (built in 1976, it was the world’s tallest tower until 2010). If you’re ever in Toronto it’s a great place to visit and go up to the top of!

This woman who was taking our picture suddenly was directing us in a photo shoot and wanted to have all these different backgrounds…but her dog had other things in mind…so awkward, right? Mark thinks this is HILARIOUS. Ok, it is! (and yes, ladies, Mark is a cutie!!)

Despite being total strangers, Mark and I chatted easily – so much so that we ended up running 17km…it happens!

Then we rushed to meet Ricki for brunch at a VERY cool restaurant named School…I don’t think I have to say anything other than show you these parts of the menu:

Tell me you’re not drooooooooling right now. Ricki and I both had a newer dish that’s not on this online menu – it involved pulled pork, fried eggs, crispy tortillas, hashbrowns…ok, I need to stop, I’m getting hungry! 

Mark had the Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Waffles. Yup, fried chicken on waffles. I tried it…it was REALLY good. 

And the whole atmosphere is fun and they play on the “school” theme everywhere.

I just need to say how incredibly nice Ricki and Mark are and I love that we were able to connect and I hope that we’ll meet up again in the future. This is one of the many reasons running is awesome.

After brunch, Mark dropped me back off at Erin’s and I quickly showered, packed up my stuff and headed over to my grandparent’s retirement home for a 12:30 lunch date I had with them. My 94-yr old grandfather was waiting for me outside with his walker and he and I then joined my grandmother in the home’s dinning room. 

You don’t have lunch with your grandparents at their retirement home for the food. No, you really don’t. I was given the choice of a turkey sandwich or chicken nuggets and had selected the nuggets and when I saw my grandfather’s sandwich, I knew that no matter how vile the nuggets were, I had still made the better choice! Bread + deli turkey meat (2 thin slices) + limp lettuce. And that’s it!! My g-parents obviously have learned and were prepared – I suddenly see my grandmother whip out a small jar of mayo from of her purse and hand it to my grandfather!! #smart

My nuggets were OK. There was good plum sauce for me to smother them in. That’s all I will say about them.

The dessert option was fresh cut pineapple or “strawberry” mousse (I think you and I know there wasn’t any actual strawberry in it). You can guess my choice, I’m sure. 

I need to just repeat one conversation I got to be a part of. It seems kind of morbid, but just know that they had in a very “matter of fact” tone and manner.

Grandpa: Is that Marion over there? (looking over towards the elevator where a woman was standing with her back to us)

Grandma: No! (then turning to me) Although to be honest, look around, we all look the same…OLD.

Grandpa: Hmmm…do think she’s dead? (then turning to me) It’s really hard to keep track of people around here – there here one day and gone the next.

And then they just went back to eating their lunch.

My grandparents have led incredibly full and successful lives – they have been to almost every country in the world. But I know that they feel that they are just living there, waiting to die. And that makes my heart hurt.

After lunch we went back to their apartment and had a nice visit and then they walked me out – but I wanted to get someone to take our picture. I had a staff member in mind, but they insisted on having their friend “Bill” (probably age 85) take it. *sigh*

Then I got back on the road and wondered how I was going to actually survive the ride home. Remember all that wine I enjoyed the night before? Yeah, it was still haunting me.

But really, my main concern was that it was 2:15pm, the drive back is about 4 hours (without bad traffic or accidents) and yet I needed to be at the kennel to pick up Abby before 6pm. Yeah, that’s not good math.  I made it there at 5:57pm (we won’t discuss how).

Abby loses her MIND when I pick her up…I caught it on video this time. Tell me that’s not awesome!! Gosh, I love this dog!!!!

This was her 5 seconds after getting in the car: Look at that tongue!!!

And this was her 10 seconds after that – OUT. COLD.

I still got up at 5am this morning…but let me tell you, I felt HORRIBLE. Wasn’t even sure I was going to be able to keep my breakfast down. Yes, ok, I get it, I’m not as young as I used to be and I can’t handle weekends like this the same way! Geez. LOL!

I ate breakfast, fed Abby and then walked her…she was so happy to be home that she didn’t do ONE SINGLE THROW-DOWN!! But she had a full-out stand off with a bunny!! Who won? Well don’t worry, the bunny is still eating someone’s garden flowers!

I had been planning to do a hill workout this morning but no joke, I climbed back into bed and slept for another 90 minutes. I just couldn’t do it.

But the weekend was so great that it was all worth it – just need to get today over with!! LOL!

Happy Monday!!

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