Last Montreal Morning Run Followed by Refreshing “Melk”

Image-1 Well as you have possibly noticed, I have not exactly been chronological in my Montreal posts.  I’m catching up when the spirit and good memories come to me.  This post also seems like a true Run for Breakfast post since it has a run and a breakfast review in it.  Definitely wanted to report about this run because it was my longest distance during the trip and probably the funnest run I did.  I was able to achieve the distance because I took the day prior off for our excursion to Mont Tremblant, and I was running on a high of having such a magical time with Katie north of the border even though we were heading home that day.

Nice parts of this run were that the temperature was perfect (around 60) and there was only one serious hill to climb at the beginning up to Sherbrooke Street.  After it was all flat and downhill which made things pleasant for one last look around the city.

My Runkeeper post sums up the run: “Last run before we depart Montreal 😒. Thought I had 20 miles for the week, but GPS fix put me at 19.8. I’ll take it though. Lots of pauses for crosswalks and photo ops (needed them to get the run done 😉). Great sights at St.Louis Square and a couple nice parks along Sherbrooke. Loved the neighborhood hood cutting back to St. Catherine. Cool art on St. Catherine and it was cool running under the bulbs along the street.”

I thought that the giant slingshot was impressive (it was in one of the parks along Sherbrooke) and I sure did a double-take on some of the art on display along St. Catherine Street.  Katie and I did not explore that end of St. Catherine during this stay, but we have it at the top of our list for our next visit.  This end had more of a feel of an older Montreal unlike the Times Square feeling on the other end.

After the run, we packed our things, but had time for one more stop for coffee and a light breakfast before checking out and heading back to reality home.  Katie found a great coffee shop nearby, MELK Bar à Café Saint-Urbain.




Besides the great reviews, I think Katie’s motivation to choose this destination is that her dad (aka “Tex”) pronounces “milk” as “melk”.  I’ll have to listen for that next time we are at The Farm.






Melk was great.  I was a bit overwhelmed by the amount of drink choices, but the “The London Fog” caught my eye on the wall.  It was Earl Gray tea mixed with steamed condensed milk and some other things that made a wonderful morning mix.  It was a nice change from coffee and it had a nice sweet flavor without any sugar added.  I believe Katie went for a mocha latte, but I might be wrong on that.  We also went sweet and savory with a chocolate chip cooked and a

Melk had a great atmosphere for a morning coffee and snack and we loved the carton of milk design at the bottom of our cups.  As was the case for most of our trip the service was very friendly (and forgiving of our elementary French).  It was a great send-off as we were about to head back south of the border.

Au revoir Montreal.  On se voit sur la route!



Bagel Ste-Rose – Quick Stop for a nice breakfast in Laval, Quebec


On our way to Mont Tremblant, we decided to make a breakfast stop once we cleared the early morning Montreal traffic.  Searching for local stops, Katie came across Bagel Ste-Rose in Laval, which is a large suburb of Montreal.  As we discovered, Laval appears to be a small town, but it is spread out over many square KM.  The restaurant itself is about a 10 minute drive off of Highway 15, so we were able to pass through several local neighborhoods in Laval, which was nice to see and get a feel for a city outside of Montreal.

After parking behind the building we noticed on the front a sign that said, “Cartes de credit non acceptees.  En especes seulement.”  Fortunately, Katie translated the sign that we needed cash to pay for our meal.  So, off we went in search of an ATM for some Canadian cash (we were trying to limit our cash haul in order not to bring any back over the border with us).  After that 10 minute excursion, we were finally able to find a seat and order our meal.  Below is the exterior and interior of Bagel Ste-Rose.  It’s nestled in a nice neighborhood with a few other family-owned restaurants.

The first thing I noticed upon receiving the menu, is that outside of Montreal, servers are less quick to switch to English with customers.  After seeing my struggles with the menu, the hostess was kind enough to come and offer a menu in English (I almost was able to get by with my minimal French reading translation, but it was a relief).

My meal consisted of a plain bagel, two poached eggs (it was unusual that poached was the only option), some fantastic sausage, beans, and fruit.  Katie just for a bagel and fruit.  We both had lattes with Katie making her’s a mocha.  The coffees had nice flavor and were hot.

We really enjoyed the meal. Everything was fresh and well prepared and we received excellent service.  The bagels were Montreal-style (not as sweet as those we had in Montreal -more on them later-), but interestingly, the hostess was finishing off the baking process using a conveyor-belt toaster.  While the bagels were great when prepared on a griddle with butter, the ones we took on the road were just good.  I think something is lost without the fire-roasting.

In the end, Bagel Ste-Rose is worth the stop if you are in Laval.

On se voit sur la route!


Biking for Lunch along P’tit train du Nord and a visit to Mont Tremblant

We woke up early the day before we left Montreal and decided to adventure out of the city to Mont Tremblant and do some biking along the P’tit train du Nord Trail.  Katie had discovered these locations before we departed for Montreal, but we did not have definite plans to go there; we are glad we did.  After three days of exploring Montreal by foot, bike, and rail, we felt the urge to expand our adventure.  Under overcast skies and a light rain we drove off from the hotel.  On the way to the mountains we found a nice breakfast stop (more on that in another post) and then an interesting stop on on the way back (more on that later too).

Once we were out of the Montreal traffic, the drive into the mountains of Quebec was picturesque and quite pleasant.  As wonderful as Montreal is, it was nice to have a break from the noise of the crowds and most of all the construction that seems to have engulfed almost every corner of the city.

After about a 90 minute drive, the GPS put us in the pretty village center of Mont Tremblant, but it sure didn’t resemble the Vail-like ski resort full of boutique shops that we were expecting.  Turns out we had missed the turn for the ski resort, so we turned around and saw the mountain and resort across the lake and headed in that direction.

Mont Tremblant lived up to expectations with beautiful scenery and a quaint yet bustling ski village with a multitude of summer activities for visitors.  A highlight for us was the free ski lift ride from the village to the base of the mountain.  We ended up doing things in reverse by taking the lift down from the village to the base and then walking uphill to visit shops along the way.  I suppose the extra exercise was a nice bonus, but I sure was feeling the week of biking and running.

After our visit to the resort and shops (no purchases, but well worth the look), we headed back down for some biking near the village center.  The P’tit train du Nord runs a couple of hundred kilometer in Quebec and offers great riding adventures long and short (which was our choice for the day).  We unloaded the bikes at a parking spot just outside the village and set off.  Along the way we encountered  many bikers, runners (a couple running at a such a pace that they passed us as we were riding our leisurely pace), and walkers.  We offered our easily detectable American “Bon Jour” to all we encountered.  As the week progressed I got over my accent fear and offered a few Bon Jours, but the Quebecois saw right through me and knew that was the extent of my conversational French.  They were always quite friendly though.  A cool adventure we hope to do some day is bake and camp along the trail as several groups of bikers we saw were doing.

After a short ride through the village and along the lake, we parked our bikes at a converted rail stop (it had a neat art gallery inside), and made our way for some lunch at Au Coin Resto Pub, part of the Hotel Mont Tremblant.  Our lunch included a delicious broccoli soup, delicious beet salad (with goat cheese that had wonderful flavor and little after-taste), and some freshly-made hummus.  It was a perfect lunch sitting on the patio and a great server who tolerated some terrible Francais on my part.  Katie managed to get us seated and order our meal using her new improved French.  The server knew I was hopeless linguistically and did converse with me in English during the meal.  At the end I decided to end our meal by asking, “Le factuer si vous plait.”  We’ve been debating this, Katie is sure that our server was just surprised that I was speaking au Francais, but I’m sure I butchered the words and offered a profane the wrong phrase.  In any case our server answered with a distinct, “What!?” after my request for the check.  We laughed it off and ended a great meal amicably.  Following the lunch we leisurely rode our bikes back the car and made our way back to Montreal for the final evening of our magical Quebec excursion.

On se voit sur la route!


Roadtrippin’ For Breakfast – Great stop at The Local Hub Market and Cafe

Katie and I set out for Montreal this past Sunday, and so far it has been an awesome trip.  Before crossing the border, we had a nice surprise for an unplanned breakfast at The Local Hub Market and Cafe in Greenwood, ME.  This part of was somewhat unchartered territory for us.  It seems most times that we have headed to Canada we had to go south and then north through New Hampshire and Vermont.  I guess circumstances such as dropping off one or more of our children to be watched or picking up family or friends caused our route to be altered.  This time, direct from Portland we had barely any highway time and spent a good portion of the ride through Maine on Route 26.

At the get-go, we decided that some quick snacks and coffee from a local Cumby’s would not suffice nor the dreaded DD (or is is just Dunkin now?), so we were determined to find a quick local stop along the way.  The only other rule was that the stop had to be on our route.  So off we went from Portland to Cumberland, to Gray, to Poland, to Oxford, to Paris, and it seemed much to our dismay that breakfast might not be happening.  Out of now where came The Hub. Katie pointed it out and I slammed on the brakes and we pulled in (sorry to the driver behind us for the near death experience).

The Hub definitely gave a different vibe for its first impression.  It definitely is our winner of the category for best breakfast from a restaurant with signs on the front saying “KAYAK RENTALS” or even better, “GET YOUR WORMS AND CRAWLERS HERE.”  When you enter though, The Hub has the feel of a cozy cafe and local artist hangout.

By just smelling the fresh baked goods and seeing the finished products on the counter, we knew that this was gonna be good and probably would deserve a repeat visit our next time through.

The Hub has a great selection on their menu, so it was hard decision for both of us, but I ended up with The New Sandwich Deluxe (would like to try the old one too if it’s still around) and Katie went for The Breakfast Burrito.

After a short wait, which we didn’t mind since we were able to enjoy our coffee drinks and the art on the walls, our orders were ready.  Rather than eat in the car we decided to sit out on a picnic bench just outside The Hub.  It was a pleasant day and it was nice that it was right on the water.  Both orders looked great.


I’m not usually a fan of goat cheese, but it really worked on this sandwich when combined with the pesto.  The bread had great flavor and was perfectly toasted.  A win all around.  Katie loved the burrito and the couple of bites I had had nice flavor and a perfect touch of heat.  The portions were large enough that we could only eat half and wrapped up the rest for the rest of the trek north (I finished my sandwich a couple of hours later and I think it tasted even better then).

The Hub seems to have a solid local following.  There was a steady stream of regulars and visitors coming in and the staff provided great service to everyone.  They also had a great selection of local meat and other products that I would have tried if I was staying local.  Next time we roll through Greenwood, The Hub will be a definite stop.

See you on the road!


Who Says Hotel Breakfast is Awful? Nice breakfast Buffet at the Montreal Doubletree.

A nice perk for our stay at the Downtown Montreal Doubletree Hotel is that breakfast is included each morning for Hilton Honors members.  Usually, we avoid these buffets like the plague, but we decided to give it a shot before setting out on some morning bike adventures around town.  The buffet turned out to be excellent with high quality pastries, fresh fruit, great hot breakfast selections, and possibly the best fresh squeezed grapefruit juice I’ve ever had.  It was a pleasant surprise!


Here’s what day 2’s breakfast looked like:


Just as good as yesterday.  Went for even more of the charcuterie route this morning.

The goodness continued on day 3:


I went a little lighter today, since we were eating later in the morning and we had some good lunch stops in mind.  I have to admit the egg Benedict with salmon did not work for me.  I’ve enjoyed charcuterie in the morning, but fish just does not work.

We had vouchers for two more breakfasts at Doubletree, but decided to explore more local fare for our last two mornings north of the border.  As I said though, this breakfast buffet far exceeded our expectations.

On se voit sur la route!


Morning Run Lost In Montreal

Bon Jour!

Katie and I have ventured to Montreal for a few nights.  We had a nice drive up from Portland (a post on that to follow ASAP).  After checking in to our downtown hotel (great location right near Old Montreal), we wandered around a bit and found some nice treats for a dinner in our room then turned to get some rest from our travels.

This morning I woke up around 5:30am and decided to set out on a short run around our area.  I decided to skip C25K training for today and headed out to run and take in some scenery and see if I could stretch out a little distance:

Image-1 (1)

I’m happy to report that I’m showing signs of progress with this round of C25K.  Started Week 5 yesterday and based on this run, my distance and pace are improving.  Still a long ways from where I want to be and the scale has yet to descend (@%#$!!!!), but it feels great nevertheless.

After seeing the evening crowds around town last night, it was peaceful to run about the city with little vehicle and pedestrian traffic.  I had no specific destination in mind, but once I caught sight of the big ferris wheel on the river La Grande Roue de Montreal, I decided to head in that direction. Plus, it was a huge relief to be running downhill after a killer hill into Old Montreal from our hotel.



My two favorite times of day to run have to be dawn and dusk.  Love the lighting and quietness.





The run took me through parts of Old Montreal (watch out for those cobble stone streets!) and down to the riverfront.  I did a short run on the river walk because I was approaching the point of no return endurance-wise and then meandered my way back to the hotel.  There were some great sights along the way including great architecture and beautiful fountains (Montreal sure loves its fountains!).

Thank goodness for the Maps App.  I did get myself turned around a couple of times and ran a few circles, but finally made my way back to the hotel.  A cool finish was running the perimeter of Place des Arts, which has a couple of cool fountains of its own.

On se voit sur la route!


One Last Austin Post

Our last day in Austin might have been our best, most memorable day.

If you’ve read anything about the food scene in Austin, I’m sure you’ve heard of Franklin’s Barbecue.


If you told me I’d have one of the best times ever waiting in line for food, I would not have believed you.


But this wasn’t just any old line.  Chairs were provided (at least for the first 50 or so line-waiters), and not only was drinking allowed, but drink orders were taken and fulfilled.  Since it was a Tuesday, we felt comfortable getting there on the late side – around 8:30.  We managed to snag some of the last few available chairs and a shady spot under the stairs.  Mike set off to find some snacks and (adult) beverages for us while I held our place in line.  (I didn’t realize until after he’d left that you could order drinks from Franklin’s while you were waiting.  We needed breakfast, anyway.)


At first, the line was pretty quiet, but three hours and a lot of beer later, we were all fast friends.


Almost at the door!


It was amazing how friendly the servers were considering how many people they must have to deal with each day.


We were feeling pretty victorious at having conquered the line and made it inside.


Our glorious, delicious haul.


We tried pretty much one of everything, but if I ever go back again, I’ll just get brisket, brisket, and more brisket, and maybe a rib or two.  (Everything was great, but the brisket and ribs really outshined everything else.)  The brisket had a wonderful, black pepper crust and just melted in your mouth.

We had to head home the next day to the snowy, Northeast.


We stickered up our cars – a lot of work for a sticker!


And  handed out our Austin souvenirs.


Austin Marathon – Pre Race Day

I was really nervous for this race.  I hadn’t trained as well as for my other races and had been eating like a pig since Thanksgiving.  I skipped almost the entire pre-race week of running, so when we saw that there was a group run that morning, we jumped on it.

I was actually a bit sluggish when the time rolled around.  We had to find the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue – wherever the heck that was – but Mike was motivated, so he tracked it down for us.  We weren’t sure what to expect – a huge group – or no one else but us.

I had read that Dick Beardsley would be hosting the event, and I immediately recognized that slim, elite runner build when we arrived that the meeting spot.  Even though I knew he would be hosting, I didn’t really expect to be able to talk to him.  I’m kind of shy, and I figured there would be lots of other people vying for his attention.  However, when we arrived, there was just a handful of people milling around, and Mr. Beardsley came right up to us and introduced himself – so cool!
He spent quite a bit of time chatting to us before we started the run – such a down-to-earth, friendly guy.  We really enjoyed talking with him.  I couldn’t believe we were standing there (calmly – for the most part – I look pretty dorky) next to the 33 year Grandma’s Marathon record holder (meaningful to me especially, since Grandma’s was my first, and ironically, that record was broken the year I ran it).  I really hadn’t known much else about him, but check out his story.  It’s pretty interesting.

We finally set off on the run, hosted also by Bobby Overton from SpiBelt – also a super nice guy – especially considering his task of herding us cats.  (We both felt a little guilty that Mike was wearing his new FlipBelt.)  I wasn’t sure what to expect from the run either.  Some of the other participants looked like they might be around our same pace (you never really can tell by appearances), but I was pretty sure that even though it’s been almost 34 years since his exciting Boston Marathon finish seconds behind Alberto Salazar, Mr. Beardsley could probably still set a pretty darn good pace.

We set out on a nice, easy run.  I was even able to run up ahead to snap a photo.


We ran along the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail which was really beautiful.


Our route (also includes getting there and back from hotel and a detour to the Expo)

Mr. Beardsley told me how part way you used to have to go up on the highway and back down, but they’ve since made a beautiful boardwalk to connect those two ends of the trail.  We got to run along that and had beautiful views of the city from there.  I got to run with my new friend, Dick, the whole way to our turnaround point.


We had a great conversation, and he even recommended a few marathons to me (Fargo Marathon and Dick Beardsley Marathon – he was very humble about it being called that).  I kind of felt like I was hogging him, so I chatted with a few of the other runners on the way back.  One of whom was none other than Henry Rono, a 5000 meter record record breaker in the 70’s and 80’s – among many other accomplishments.  He was also very humble and interesting to talk to.

It was great to be in the midst of such running fame, but the other people in the group were friendly and fun, too.  One guy was running his first marathon, but quite a few of the others had run Austin before and were able to give us good advice about the course and about where to visit in Austin.  (Thank you for your advice about the speed bumps and your recommendation of HopDoddy’s!)

What an amazing experience!  I was happy to have done the shakeout run, since it helped me remember that I did still know how to run.  But more than that, it got me excited about running again – what a great community and a great way to interact with people.  You already have something in common.  Somewhat surprisingly to me, the conversation that Mr. Beardsley and I had about running wasn’t any different than I conversation I might have with any other, average Joe runner like myself – the nerves before a race, the gear, the locations.

Happy running!

Austin Marathon – Expo

We managed to only leave Portland about an hour late.  We’re notorious for getting a late start.  Always so many late minute things to do.  On top of that there was a crazy freak snowstorm and tons of traffic because of it.  The first hour of our journey from Portland to Boston was quite harrowing, but we finally made it to my Mom’s and had a nice dinner and said good-bye to the kids.

My mom was kind enough to take us to the airport the next morning at 4:00 am.  Even then the security line at Logan was quite long, and we got to our gate just in time to board.  We’d never traveled on SouthWest before, but everything went quite smoothly.


Celebrating our first flight together since 2002

We landed in Chicago right on time, had just enough time to use the bathroom then continued on to Austin.


We arrived at around noon and took a cab to our hotel.  Our room wasn’t ready yet, but we were able to ditch our bags and head out to lunch.

Compared to home, the weather was just gorgeous.  It was so nice to leave all that built up tension from the cold behind.  I hadn’t done much research on Austin food, so we ventured out to a Mexican restaurant recommended by the hotel.  It wasn’t great, but it was WONDERFUL to be able to eat outside.  (Margarita’s were too sweet, chips were boring, but Ceviche was quite good, and atmosphere on the outdoor second floor deck was perfect.)


We wandered around 6th street for a very short time after lunch then got the call from our hotel that our room was ready.  We headed back to the hotel, washed the travel off of us, put on some running clothes, and headed over to the Expo to pick up our packets and check that out.

The Austin Marathon is supposed to be pretty big – over 10,000 participants between the half and the full, but I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Expo after we told the hotel we were here for the marathon, and they asked, “Which marathon is that?”.

It turned out to be just perfect.
We were there for a marathon and wanted to bask in the running hype, and there was plenty of that there.


Picked up our numbers first



The heart bibs for Valentine’s Day were cool

We got a lot of great SWAG including a cool backpack that came in really handy all weekend.  I think our favorite booth was the Nuun one.  I had tried Nuun once before and didn’t love it until I realized how much I really don’t like Gatorade.  We bought a bunch of the tablets and got some cool water bottles both of which we used the whole time we were there.  We also really liked this yummy cold pressed juice that we tried.  We kind of tried to find some the rest of the week with no luck.  I might try Whole Foods here this week.

There was so much to see and great live music playing while we wandered around.  We wanted to make the most of our experience, so we checked out every single booth.  I bought a shirt, and Mike bought a flip belt.  We ran there and had planned to walk back to the hotel, since we expected to have a lot of stuff to carry.  Thanks to our new, free backpacks, we were able to run the mile or so back.  It was hot though!

We got back to the hotel and showered (and may have napped), got hungry, and decided to venture out again.  We didn’t want to eat or drink too much before the race, but a burger and a beer sounded great.  We still hadn’t spent much time researching where to eat, so we headed back out to 6th Street where we’d had lunch.  We walked up and down a bit before settling on a place called Jackalope.  Like everything else on 6th St., it kind of looked like a dive bar at first, but The Chupacabra burger (Barbacoa beef, salsa verde, jack, pickles, jalapenos, ghost pepper aioli) that we ordered to share turned out to be really good.  We each ordered a local beer from Austin Beer Works.  I got the Pearl Snap Pilsner.  I can’t remember what Mike got – something darker with a nice taste of coffee at the finish.

The waitress was very friendly and somehow talked us into a couple of tequila shots.  I guess, by that time, we were thinking we still had one more whole day before the marathon, and we should, after all, make the most of our rare vacation.


In spite of the tequila, we didn’t get too crazy, but we did end up testing out the on-premise Jackalope.


It was much more tame than the mechanical bull we’d seen further down the street.


We vowed to follow a pre-marathon diet religiously the next day.

Wow! Austin Marathon! Gear!

We are back from Austin.  What a great trip!  I don’t even know where to begin.

I guess I’ll start at the beginning.

Packing is hard!


Before:  I packed three potential marathon outfits.  All for hot weather.  Anything above 30 was gonna be hot.  I’m thinking I’ll go with my brand new Skirt Sports Gym Girl Skirt and last year’s e-bay purchase of a Skirt Sports Tank.

After:  Yes, Skirt Sports skirt.  I think I’ll buy another.  No way on the tank.  Can’t do the CamelBack without sleeves.  Went with the Grandma’s Marathon T.


I don’t look exactly like that.

Before:  My CamelBack.  I hate carrying it, but I haven’t really mastered the water stop thing.  I have to figure it out before Boston because no CamelBacks allowed there.  Not sure how I managed last year.


It’s a good pack.

After:  Followed my Maine Marathon plan of 4 swallows, breathe, 3 more swallows, every mile (get your mind out of the gutter – this is a PG blog).  After the Expo, decided to throw two Nuun tablets in there.  Worked fine. Ran out of water (I think about 72 ounces) at mile 25.

Before:  Lots of Gu’s.  I have such a love/hate relationship with those nasty, sticky, way-too-sweet things.

After:  Wanted to die and quit after mile 5.  After Caramel Macchiatto Gu hit around mile 6, I felt much better.  “Gu’ed” every 5 miles after that and rode the waves of caffeine and sugar driven ups and downs.  Felt like puking every time I tried to down a shot and vowed to try training with shot blocks or sport beans next time.

Before:  Body Glide.  I swear, the first year I ran, I never had chaffing issues.  Now I do even in the dead of winter.

After:  Still chaffed after liberal application, but I was much better off than I would have been without it.  Worst spot is a huge strip of raw skin on my upper inner arm from the CamelBack.  Thank goodness they won’t be allowed in Boston.  Addie says it looks like bacon.

Before:  Since the race was going to be on Valentine’s day, I thought it would be cool to wear my SkirtSports Heart Socks.


After:  Decided it would be too hot for knee socks.  Darn Toughs never let me down.  Wore a nice, new, cushy pair.  No regrets what-so-ever.


Before:  Almost brand new Adidas Ultra’s.


After:  No regrets.  Pretty happy to put on my flip-flops after and let my feet spread out, but no sore feet, no blisters, nothing.

Other Gear:  Tom Tom Spark Music (still haven’t loaded any music), Target/Champion Sports Bra, IceBreaker Women’s Siren Hipkini.

In the past, figuring out all the outfits I wanted to wear on vacation would have been a struggle, but that was nothing compared to trying to figure out what I wanted to wear for the race.  As always, I ended up wearing the same few things over and over and could have gotten away with bringing much less.

I think this may have been the last journey for my current suitcase, so maybe I’ll down-size which will force me to finally learn that lesson.

Next up, Expo Review.  And maybe Shake Out Run Review.  If I can fit both of those things in one post.  I don’t seem to do well with short summaries.