Category Archives: Goals

So Many Things

The Farm To Fork team - all smiles after the big funding announcement at the Big Show.
The Farm To Fork team – all smiles after the big funding announcement at the Big Show.

I can’t believe the coming week marks the end of classes for the winter 2014 semester. I won’t lie, I’m actually pretty excited to see it come to an end. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a blast this semester, however, it has been far busier than I was initially expecting and I know that I’m definitely ready for a break.

The last two weeks have been particularly busy, but they’ve also been absolutely fantastic for a number of reasons.

On the 17th I was invited to speak to students in the Masters of Public Health program at the University of Guelph. My talk was on social media, and how – in my opinion – it could and probably should be used as a tool for public health. It was great to speak to a new class of students, and especially fun to talk about Twitter, Facebook, and other social media in an academic setting.

Later in the week (Saturday, March 22nd) I got to play judge at CollabNow, an event put on by the Entrepreneurship Society of the University of Guelph. The event brought together business, computer science, and engineering students from both the University of Guelph and the University of Waterloo. Student teams were tasked with developing solutions to deal with the expected population growth in the City of Guelph over the next 17 years. Although they were given only about an hour or so to develop a solution, the students came up with some great ideas that were supported with real data.

Corey and Lee-Jay. Still smiling. Still laughing.
Corey and Lee-Jay. Still smiling. Still laughing.

The very next day (Sunday, March 23rd) I joined the Farm To Fork team as we ventured to Kitchener to celebrate the launch of the Farmer’s Kitchen Table website. I was invited to speak at the event – specifically on Farm To Fork and the importance of sufficient sustainable healthy food on every table, especially in the case of tables where food is often absent. While Farm To Fork has garnered attention outside the borders of Guelph (thank you social media and word of mouth), it’s always great to bring the message personally. Thanks again to Anne Marie, founder of the Farmer’s Kitchen Table, for letting us speak at the event.

Tuesday the 25th was one of my busier days. The day began with me helping to host one of Google’s engineers who was invited to the school to talk to the students. Immediately following that I got to watch as several student groups presented the mobile apps they’ve been developing – and holy hell some of them were super cool. After their presentations I had to jet to the River Run Centre to join the rest of the Farm To Fork team for the Big Show. For those not in the know, the Big Show was a showcase for the 52 ideas submitted to the Elevator Project to make Guelph an even better place to live. At the event Farm To Fork was announced as one of the top 15 ideas, and we were also awarded over $10000 in funding. While we knew before the event that we were in the top 15, we were floored when the funding announcement was made. Talk about an amazing way to end a Tuesday!

Speaking at the Farmer's Kitchen Table launch party.
Speaking at the Farmer’s Kitchen Table launch party.

And the Farm To Fork team got together again this weekend (because apparently we can’t get enough of each other). Yesterday we were in Centre Wellington for the Food For Thought event. There, Danny gave a phenomenal talk about what inspires him, and he also introduced the audience to the Farm To Fork project. To say they were excited would be an understatement. And you can only imagine how awesome that left us feeling - especially considering the high we were still on from Tuesday night’s big announcements.

Today the team gathered with some of my other students to spend the day coding our butts off. It was a long day, but a lot of fun, and I think in the end we managed to accomplish a lot. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday.

Corey and Danny and the Farm To Fork table - part of the Farmer's Kitchen Table launch event.
Corey and Danny and the Farm To Fork table – part of the Farmer’s Kitchen Table launch event.

Despite the crazy schedule, the last two weeks have been fantastic. And as tired as I am, the feedback and support that Farm To Fork has been shown has reinvigorated me; it’s reminded me of how far we’ve come, where we are, and what still needs to be done. And I know we can do it.

Fortunately, I’ve got an amazing group of people working with me, and an equally amazing group of friends supporting me. Thanks to everyone for keeping me (relatively) sane. I promise I will get some sleep – soon.

70 Down 20 To Go

Bundled up before my run.
Bundled up before my run.

Holy cow, I can’t believe 10 weeks of the 90 Day Fitness Challenge are now a part of history, and less than 3 weeks remain.

Last week was a huge improvement over the two weeks that preceded it. While it wasn’t my strongest week ever, it did see me get in three solid runs, plus a lot of stretching which I desperately needed. More than that, I actually managed to end the week with a really strong run on the treadmill. Specifically, I logged 6.49km in 30 minutes – or in other words – I managed an average pace of 4:37 per kilometre. Not too shabby at all.

At this stage in the challenge I’ve managed to complete 25% of the distance required on my quest to 1000km. Note – my quest to 1000km was not the goal for the 90 Day Fitness Challenge. I’m crazy, but I’m not that crazy.

Anyway, at the rate I’m going and if I manage to keep to my training schedule (translation – no injuries), I should hit my goal of running 1000km sometime in May or June. But I’m getting ahead of myself. For now I have the remaining days of the 90 Day Fitness Challenge to focus on.

I’ve got this.

A Pi-Day Weekend

Mmmm, pie on Pi-Day
Mmmm, pie on Pi-Day

Happy belated Pi-Day all y’all.

For those unaware, Pi-Day (March 14th) is the mathiest of math days; unless you also observe Tau-Day (June 28th) – which I do. Since tau is equal to 2 pi, Tau-Day must be equal to 2 Pi-Days, and 2 Pi-Days is better than 1 Pi-Day, so by definition Tau-Day would have to be the mathier of the two. Math!

I digress.

To celebrate Pi-Day I opted to spend my day enjoying as much pie as I possibly could. This meant that I attempted to have pie for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’m all about healthy choices.

Sadly my breakfast pie was not to be as The Joint Cafe was out of their oh-so-delicious banana coconut cream pie. I settled for a bagel and apple juice – which is about as far from banana coconut cream pie as one can get.

To make up for my breakfast pie failure, I sauntered over to the Woolwich Arrow for lunch-pie. I had learned the night before that they were serving pie from The Williamsford Pie Company. And it was oh so delicious.

To round out my Pi-Day, I enjoyed a delicious peach-raspberry-blueberry pie with friends. I made a point of having just enough pie to be able to say that I ate half a pie on Pi-Day. Why would I eat that much pie? Because half a pie is equivalent to pi radians worth of pie, that’s why.

Pi radians worth of pie on Pi-Day. Yup – I’m just that nerdy.

Igniting Guelph

Meeting Natasha
Meeting Natasha

Last night I had the pleasure of speaking at Ignite Guelph 3. This would be the second talk I’ve given (the first being at Ignite Guelph 1) as part of the Ignite speaker series, but the first that I’ve done solo1.

The night was a blast. There were so many amazing talks spanning topics from ukuleles, to animation, to metadata, and even hip hop. Some of the talks brought a smile to my face, others presented ideas on topics that I don’t think I would have thought about were not for the speaker, and some of the talks hit me right in the feelings zone2. I’m looking at you Bang Ly.

For those unaware of the Ignite Guelph speaker series format, it’s quite simple: each speaker gets 5 minutes and 20 slides – timed to automatically transition every 15 seconds – to inspire the audience with something they happen to be passionate about. It can be nerve-racking and scary, but it’s a lot of fun.

Given that I do a lot of public speaking – what with having to lecture students on a regular basis, and spreading the word about Farm To Fork to anyone who will listen – I’m very comfortable speaking in front of an audience. However, Ignite talks are different. They demand that you get to your point quickly, and without the benefit of notes (save for whatever you may have put onto the slides). For someone who usually has 20-80 minutes of speaking time per presentation, the shorter duration poses a challenge. But it’s the kind of challenge I like because it forces me to distill my thoughts to the most essential components.

Of course it’s not an easy task. In fact the talk I gave last night wasn’t the original talk I had intended to present. During the week preceding Ignite Guelph I finalized what I thought would be my talk. I spent my spare time memorizing the story of my talk – which I find better than memorizing the exact text – and working on my timing. By Monday night I was fully prepped, but I just wasn’t feeling it. The confidence wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be, and I found this frustrating. Something was missing from my presentation.

And then at 6pm on Monday night it hit me. My presentation was too academic. It lacked a human connection. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t spouting statistics or theories, but it just wasn’t as relatable or personable as I’d wanted it to be. It was almost clinical.

And so I made the decision to rewrite the entire thing.

I’m glad I did because I was able to better connect with my own story – which I hope translated to a better connection with the audience. Having a story that I could embrace fully made telling that story so much simpler. It’s amazing what a little humanity will do for a talk. And given the feedback I received last night at the after-party, I know that the rewrite was the correct thing to do.

For those curious, I spoke about my experiences with fear and how, at the age of 37, I decided to embrace my arachnophobia.

Thanks to the Ignite Guelph team for organizing another amazing event, and thanks to all of the speakers for sharing what inspires you. I can’t wait for Ignite Guelph 4.

1 Last year I spoke at the inaugural Ignite Guelph with my friend (and co-founder of Farm To Fork) Danny Williamson.

2 Ew – feelings.

63 Down 27 To Go

No more excuses.
No more excuses.

My life over the past few weeks has been rather stupid busy, so I didn’t get to post my regular update (which would have been aptly entitled 56 Down 34 To Go). But, given my lack of running it wouldn’t have been much of an update anyway. In fact, the last few weeks has been a rather black mark on my otherwise great start to the year.

I’m opting to look on the positive side of things and realize that sometimes one needs to allow for these breaks. Still, I feel like kicking myself in the ass for not getting out for even a few short runs.

Fortunately I did manage to get out for a run today. And there is hope for the future: the remainder of the semester – while it will be busy – shouldn’t be as stupid busy as the last two weeks.

What does this mean? Well, it means I have zero excuse to get back on track. And so that is what I intend to do. We’re in the final few weeks of the 90 Day Fitness Challenge, and I plan to embrace each day of it with as much kick-ass-ery as I can.


49 Down 41 To Go

Hard to believe that I'm going to be tackling the Toronto GoodLife Marathon in a little less than 10 weeks.
Hard to believe that I’m going to be tackling the Toronto GoodLife Marathon in a little less than 10 weeks.

I can’t believe the 90 Day Fitness Challenge is more than half over already. 

Despite missing my running goal by slightly more than 3km, I’m actually really happy with how this week went. The week was super busy, beginning with a presentation with my students on Tuesday, and ending with a 24 hour hackathon on campus. The hackathon – known as the Open Data Day Hackathon – officially started at 10am on Saturday, and finished by 10am Sunday. While the hours were long, the event was well worth the effort – and I even managed to sneak away to get in a 13.42km run.

By the end of week 7 I managed to log another 38.94 km, bringing my cumulative total since January 1st to 225.50km. I also managed to put in 140 minutes of yoga, and 225 minutes of mobility/strength training. All told – a rather productive and active week.

But I can’t rest on my laurels as week 8 is going to be an even bigger challenge: my running goals are taking a leap forward, and I also have to manage a rather hectic schedule at the office. Here’s hoping I stay on track, and that I manage to find some time to relax and rest. If I want to crush the Toronto GoodLife Marathon in May, I’m going to need to.





42 Down 48 To Go

Another wintry week of running.
Another wintry week of running.

Last week got away from me a little bit. I probably spent far too much time in meetings, and probably far too much time running around between meetings. Fortunately I didn’t allow this to interfere with my training schedule, and from my point of view that’s a huge win.

My goal this week was to add another 42km to my cumulative running total, spend 150 minutes doing yoga, and hit the gym for 90 minutes.

How’d I do?

Well, despite having too many meetings, presentations, and other academically related activities, I managed to log 46.58km, 130 minutes of yoga, and 120 minutes at the gym. Not too shabby if I do say so myself. Definitely an improvement over the previous two weeks.

After 6 weeks of training I’m happy to say that I’m pretty much on track for where I want to be at this point. I’ve logged 186.56km of running, 965 minutes of yoga, and 665 minutes at the gym. These values are 92.36%, 100.52%, and 116.67% of my cumulative goals respectively. W00t!

As for week 7, I’ve purposely set my goals to be the same as week 6: 42km of running, 150 minutes of yoga, and 120 minutes at the gym. Here’s hoping this week is just as strong as last.

35 Down 55 To Go

Another chilly run.
Another chilly run.

And just like that week 5 of the 90 Day Fitness Challenge is over. While I’m not quite back to where I should be in terms of my goals, week 5 was a huge improvement over week 4.

For week 5 of the challenge I had aimed to run 5 times, covering 37km and bringing my cumulative distance to 160km for the year. Since my foot1 and knee were feeling a bit wobbly on Friday I opted to forgo my run; instead using the time to rest and stretch at home. Because of that I managed 4 runs, covering 28.69km. My cumulative total is now sitting at 139.98km, which is shy of my overall goal for this time by slightly more than 20km. Week 6 is going to be all about making up some of that missing distance.

Other than running, I managed to get in a session of mobility training with Dr. Mark, while continuing to stretch at home. All told, not a bad week.

It’s hard to believe the challenge is almost half over.

1 Not to worry – this wasn’t my related to my previously injured ankle. It was my other foot that felt wobbly – but I can attribute that to trying to run through the snow on Tuesday during/after the storm. Deep snow and ice do not make for an easy run.

28 Down 62 To Go

Snuggles - very much needed this week.
Snuggles – very much-needed this week.

Week four of the 90 Day Fitness Challenge was trying; very trying. It started off filled with good intentions and kick-ass energy, but then life decided to get in the way and that all changed.

Initially I was worried that work was going to be the main challenge – what with three major events this week. But then Thursday’s mail arrived and everything changed. I’m not going to dwell on that, but needless to say the wind was knocked from my sails and I found myself needing to spend more time at home thinking with the wee fuzzball safely snuggled up next to me.

There’s a part of me that is annoyed that I didn’t make my weekly goals (only 1 run, instead of 5), but I know that I also needed to take the time to begin to deal with everything. And because I find safety and comfort in numbers, I also know that I can easily catch up. In fact, the only goal where I’ve fallen short is running. My schedule indicates that I should have run a total of 123km by tomorrow, and I currently have 111.29km under my belt. I should be able to get back on track with one longer (and much-needed) run tomorrow.

So yes – this week sucked more than it should have. Yes – life got in the way. But I’m not going to stay down for long. Tomorrow begins week 5 and I’m ready to crush it.



Bi-Polar Vortex

Walking on the road because the sidewalks are covered in snowdrifts.
Walking on the road because the sidewalks are covered in snowdrifts.

With a -30 something wind chill this eve, my walk home from the office was a bit of a chore. With every gust of wind I shivered and cringed and tried to ignore how painfully cold the exposed bits of my face were. I also tried not to curse Mother Nature whenever she decided to blow snow – which felt like tiny frozen razor blades – at said exposed bits.

It’s usually around this point in the year when I begin to lose my patience with all things winter. My walks to and from the office become a little less the air is so crisp and clean and the snow is beautiful and it’s all so wonderful and magical, and a lot more holy fricking shitcakes, I’m going to punch the next snowman I see in his stupid, stupid neck. 

Fortunately winter hasn’t completely destroyed my spirit, which means any snowman I meet is safe – for now.

The thing I find ultimately weird is how easy it is for me to run in weather like this. It’s almost like some bizarre badge that I wear, and one that I wear proudly. Just yesterday I ran in similar weather for 30 minutes, through snow drifts and crazy-stupid cold wind. A few days before that I returned home with my eyelashes and eyebrows encased in ice. In both cases I ended my runs feeling like I’d just conquered a small country, and loving that I was able to take on winter. Today, however, I spend 25 minutes walking home and I want to assault a snowman and then collapse into a defeated quivering pile.

I think the solution to my bi-polar1 response to winter is that I leave all of my work at the office. My non-homework laden self would then be able to run to the office in the morning, and home in the evening – filling me with conquering winter pride instead of murderous snowman rage.

Or, another solution might be a wee vacation somewhere warm and tropical and filled with servants who bring me coconut based drinks.

Tough call.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some travel websites to peruse.

1 Polar! Ha!

21 Down 69 To Go

It's just a wee chilly outside.
It’s just a wee chilly outside.

Week three of the 90 Day Fitness Challenge has officially come to an end, and I’m happy to say that things are still going strong.

It was a tough week, however. Temperatures dipped into the realm of ridiculousness again, and then Mother Nature decided we needed more snow. Because running in frigid temperatures and knee-deep snow drifts is always a party. Fortunately the gym is only ~2km from my house, so on the colder days I was able to spend part of my time in the climate controlled goodness that is the GoodLife Fitness Centre.

By the end of the week I had managed to put in another 34.55km on my Quest To 1000km. That brings my grand total to 106.16km. Not too shabby. If I were to maintain this rate (i.e. averaging slightly more than 4km per day), I’d hit 1000km some time in early September. However, my training schedule for the 50km Ultra is far more demanding than what I’m currently putting my body through. This means that if all goes well – read, my ankle doesn’t explode - I expect to hit 1000km sometime in May.

But I shouldn’t get too far ahead of myself – there are still 893.84km between me and my prize. A lot of life is going to happen between now and then; a lot of time running in all sorts of weather (because, let’s be honest, this winter isn’t even close to being over yet), a lot of competing work and social activities, and a lot of days where I’m just not going to want to run. I have to remember to stay focused on the prize, but also allow myself the flexibility to accept that external forces are going to interfere with all of my best laid plans. And that’s okay, because they’ll all be part of my crazy adventure to run 1000km.

Week four starts tomorrow. You’ve got this Gillis.


Better Late Than Never

A penny saved is a penny more for vacation.
A penny saved is a penny more for vacation.

So I just spent a few hours organizing my finances. While some of you might be thinking - boring - I actually enjoy doing this sort of thing. I am a numbers guy after all.

Normally this is something I do right at the beginning of the year, but have been putting off because I knew I didn’t successfully complete some of last years challenges. Most of those were related to paying off debt and growing my net worth, but there were other things like keeping my budget up to date that were complete write-offs.

Of course I should have looked sooner, because looking sooner would have had me realize that I did way better than I thought I did last year. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not suddenly independently wealthy or anything, but I’m fortunate in that I do have enough to put food on the table, a roof overhead, and save a little for rainy days or wanderlusting, adventures, and shenanigans.

Did I reach the targets I had set last year? No, not exactly. But I did move in the right direction and that’s what’s important. In fact, I moved farther in the right direction than I had thought. This is mainly because I’ve opted to pay down my mortgage at an accelerated rate. I apparently had forgotten how that might impact my net worth and debt. Silly me.

Regardless, the area in which I failed miserably was keeping my budget up to date. In any sort of financial setting – good or bad – I’d suggest that this is something that I should always do. As with most of my goals, if I continually review their status I’m more apt to attain them. So this year I’m going to be a bit more diligent in this area. I’ve also already started efforts to spend less by purchasing fewer coffees, packing lunches, and reducing the amount of money I spend at restaurants. Every penny counts, right?

Will 2014 see me a gazillionaire? Not unless I win the lottery or suddenly invent that thing that everyone on earth is willing to throw their hard-earned dollars at. But if all goes well I should again see my net worth go up as my debt goes down.

Unless of course I decide to cash it all in and move to a beach :)


14 Down 76 To Go

Stretching with the wee fuzzball
Stretching with the wee fuzzball

And just like that the 90 Day Fitness Challenge is 2 weeks old. They grow up so fast.

I won’t lie – this week was tough. Work and life kept trying to get in the way of my goals. Stupid work and life – why you gotta be like that?

My first hurdle came on Tuesday. I arrived home exhausted and debating internally about whether or not I should run. Fortunately I embraced the suck and hammered out slightly more than 5km of running goodness.

Wednesday, however, was a different story. I spent the day with Tim Bray - he was on campus to give a talk on security and privacy. Since I was part of the group that organized his visit, it meant that I didn’t get home until quite late and I was completely knackered. I toyed with the idea of running but decided that it wasn’t in my best interest.

The decision not to run on Wednesday meant that I had to rejig my training schedule. Basically that meant moving my Wednesday run to Friday; setting up 4 consecutive days of running. While this wasn’t the first time I’d run 4 consecutive days, it was the first time I’d done so in a long while.

And after today’s run – my body is definitely feeling it. Nothing hurts beyond the typical pain one might feel after exercise, but I am completely spent. Tonight I’m sure to sleep like a king.

Regardless, week two is complete and I’m happy to say that I’ve met my goal and then some. I had planned to run 27km, but actually ran 31.28km. This means my cumulative distance for the year now sits at a very respectable 71.61km – which is slightly more than 7% of the required kilometres on my Quest to 1000. I also managed some quality gym time with Dr. Mark, and some much-needed yoga time. All told, not a bad week.

Take that work and life trying to get in the way.

But truth be told, I’m going to enjoy my rest day tomorrow.

The Re-Schtubbed-Ubbening

Ma sinuses are schtubbed ubb, again.
Ma sinuses are schtubbed ubb, again.

I’ve been randomly looking back at some old posts – seeing if there were any shenanigans of significance that I might have found myself a part of a year ago1. Part of the reason for my walk down memory lane is known as procrastination; I know I have to run 7km today on my Quest To 1000 Kilometres, but I’m feeling a little lazy at the moment.

Beyond a case of the lazies, my sinuses haven’t forgiven me since yesterday’s run and gym adventure. I’ve been sneezing up a storm. I had originally blamed it on the dust that’s been generated at the gym on account of some remodelling that’s going on, but then I started my walk down memory lane. Now I’m not so sure.

You see, one year ago yesterday – yesterday being when the sinus stuff started – I wrote Schtubbed Ubb. My sinuses were b0rked then too. Last year I blamed travel, however, I’m not so sure that I’m buying that excuse anymore. Perhaps my sinuses contain a deeper, darker secret. Perhaps they’re plotting against me. Perhaps they don’t want me to run.

Or perhaps I’m just finding any reason to avoid lacing up and doing the work I know I have to do if I ever want to crush my goal.

We may never know for sure.

1 Sometimes I look back to see if there is an excuse to celebrate some milestone’s anniversary. Because anniversaries mean scotch. That’s a rule.

Bonbons And Regret

RunKeeper - better than bonbons and regret.
RunKeeper – better than bonbons and regret.

Last night when I was walking home after what seemed a long day of work, I spent the bulk of my time having an internal discussion with myself.

I’m too tired to run.

No, you aren’t. You’re just being a big bag of suck.

Am I?

Yes, you are. I think.

See, maybe I’m not being a big bag of suck. I am rather tired.

But are you really that tired?

Well, I’m definitely tired, but maybe I’m not that tired…

See, I knew it!

And it went on like this for the 22 minutes or so that it took to saunter home. As I was closing in on my destination I had the following thought:

How about when you get home you at least put on your running gear, then decide if you’re going to run or wuss out.

My logic was simple – the act of getting dressed, as trivial as it was, might prove to be the extra boost I needed to actually get off my lazy butt and run. Worst case scenario – I would have wasted my time getting dressed up only to spend the eve on the couch eating bonbons and regret.

And so immediately on entering my condo I dropped my work bag, and headed upstairs to change. Before long I was in my running gear with my hat and gloves on, laces tied, and RunKeeper set and primed to go. And not too long after that I found myself back home having knocked out 5 more kilometres on my quest to 1000.

They say the clothes make the man. I think in this case the clothes made the runner. They were just the catalyst I needed to realize that I wasn’t really that tired – I was just being a big bag of suck.

Sometimes being tired is just an excuse; a way to avoid doing something I know I should do because the alternative seems far simpler. Sometimes being tired is truly that; a signal that my body is truly exhausted and needs rest. Knowing the difference isn’t always easy. I just hope that the next time I’m feeling tired, I’m able to distinguish which kind of tired I am.

Now if you don’t mind, I have a box of bonbons that aren’t going to eat themselves.