Sunday, April 6, 2008

McGyver , restaurant rants, and training (of course)

I fixed my heart rate monitor!!! Teresa said my solution was very "McGyver" so she gets the credit for that term. :)

Anyhoo, did I whine yet about losing the battery cover for my HRM last week? Well I did. And I contacted Garmin but they don't sell covers. (Yeah, like I'm sure they don't have tons of them lying around in their factories, but whatever...) So I had to come up with solution because I was going crazy not having all my DATA and you know I'm DATA fiend. The battery needs to be held tightly into the recessed area and covered. I tried wadding up some paper towel and using electrician's tape to hold it in place but the monitor wouldn't work so I had to come up with something different. I looked through the junk drawer trying to find something round and disk-like, firm yet forgiving.Then I spied a stray wine bottle cork (plenty of those can found in my kitchen. :) It looked like it would be just the right circumference so I sliced off the end and tried it. It fit! I had to experiment a bit to find the right thickness, then I taped it into place with black electrician's tape. The monitor worked fine. Unfortunately, when I went for my run, I had neglected to ensure that the battery was completely covered and sweat got in and made the thing go haywire. When I got home, I had to redo it and this time, I made sure I had it completely and tightly covered with the tape. It worked perfectly on my bike ride later that afternoon.


Well yesterday was my birthday and I celebrated by working out of course (I mean, it WAS Saturday after all. :), and by enjoying a couple of dinners out with family. The girls each gave me nice cards, Mom gave me a card with a pretty funny birthday cheque. She wrote the amount with a couple of zeros at the end, but neglected to write the word "hundred' on the written part of the line. I laughed out loud and we decided I'd better not spend it all in one place!

Restaurant Rants and Raves

On Friday night, Mom, Carly, Angie, Duncan, Erik, and I made plans to go out for my birthday dinner. I wanted to try the Cactus Club because I'd heard they had good food and it sounded like a fun place to go but I knew it would be a busy place on a Friday night so I called ahead to find out how busy. They told me we'd typically wait for about 45 minutes for a table for 6 but they assured me we could wait in the bar. I decided that would be OK, so Erik and Mom and I headed down about 40 minutes early (6:20pm) with the other 3 to meet us around 7pm. When we got there the place was PACKED and there were no tables to be had in the bar so we had to stand. That was OK. We thought we'd just keep an eye out for a table and snag one as soon as someone moved into the dining room. After about 15 minutes or so, it became clear that no one was moving from the bar and we'd be standing for awhile so I asked the girls at the desk approximately how long the wait would be, thinking that maybe we'd move on if it was going to be too long. She assured me it would be "about 20 minutes" so we decided to wait. And wait. And wait. The others arrived and a couple of them sat at the bar and had a drink while we waited in the foyer. After about 40 minutes, Erik checked and they told us that there was only one more group ahead of us. OK. Wait some more. After more time passed, we checked again and found out we were next. At this point, we'd been waiting well over an hour and were thinking about leaving but since the table sounded imminent, we decided to stay. After another 25 minutes, we checked again. "Oh the people are just eating their dessert - it shouldn't long now." JUST EATING THEIR DESSERT? I thought they were paying their bill 20 minutes ago? By now, we'd been waiting an hour and 40 minutes. I asked to use their phone book but they didn't have one so I went outside and called directory assistance and called the White Spot and asked if they had a table for 5 available. She said yes and I told her I was in line at another restaurant but I was tired of waiting. She told me she was putting the menus on the table to hold it and I said I'd be right there. I waltzed back into the Cactus Club and announced rather loudly that I had menus ON the table at another restaurant and that we were leaving. Argh. The staff was concerned and we told them, it's not the wait that upsets us, it's the pretense that we're only moments away from getting a table when they know for a fact, that it'll be much longer. Give me a break.
So I did have a great dinner, with great people, and to heck with the stupid Cactus Club.

Last night, Erik took me out for my actual birthday dinner. We made reservations for 7pm at the Wild Apple Grill and were given a lovely table right by the window. We had a bottle of wine and the Tandoori Chicken tapas to start, then I had the Westcoast Hotpot which was similar to the Thai Curry I've had in Tofino but with noodles instead of rice. It was very good but I couldn't eat all the noodles. We had lime cheesecake mousse for dessert. It was a lovely evening. I am a lucky girl!

What a difference reservations make. I am offended at restaurants who refuse to take reservations simply because they are so popular 'they don't have to'! Why do you presume that you do not need to give good service just because the younger set is willing to put up with bad service? It's really too bad. And it does seem to be the restaurants that the 20-somethings like that do not offer reservations. It really irritates me I understand that they may not want to block off their entire restaurant with reservations, but they could definitely have a portion (2/3?) for reservations and a portion for walk-ins. I dunno. Someone explain it to me please. In the meantime, I think I will refuse to frequent restaurants that have this policy. I find I end up feeling very powerless, insulted, and disrespected to be left waiting for an undetermined amount of time.

My Ratings

White Spot 9/10 ~ good food, excellent service, almost perfect for a birthday dinner
Wild Apple Grill 9/10 ~ food was wonderful, service was excellent. (Normally, I'd rate the Wild Apple Grill higher than the White Spot but the White Spot got bonus points for saving me from my Cactus Club plight.)
Cactus Club 0/10 ~ no idea about the food - none of the waitresses even brought us the complimentary appies they were passing around to other patrons. service was deplorable. No one offered us drinks either. They were deceptive when I called ahead, and worse yet, they were deceptive when I was right there waiting and they KNEW how long the wait would be. And if they truly did NOT know, then they are still in the wrong for their lack of knowledge about their own business.


I guess I really should talk about Tri Training today shouldn't I? Well, I will be but I gotta go get something to eat and put on a load of wash. Later...

OK. I'm back. I know. It seemed like I was only gone for a second but REALLY I was gone for hours. And I did eat some toast. And I put in a load of wash. And I cleaned up my bedroom. And I rode 40km.

So here's the current training plan.

Sun - long bike
Mon - run, swim
Tues - bike - intervals or hill repeats
Wed - run, swim
Thurs - bike - intervals or hill repeats
Fri - rest
Sat - long run, swim, ride if I feel like it

And here are my current considerations and adjustments to make.


I checked out the YMCA on Saturday and loved it.

• It is only 7 minutes further to drive.
• I can do lane swimming anytime from 6 am to 10 pm!
• There is public swimming from 12-5 so Jesse could swim while I do a workout.
• There are lots of good riding opportunities in the area so Erik can do the TT route while I swim, until I can drive myself.
• For an extra $15 a month I can upgrade to the cushy "upstairs' changerooms which are for members only, carpeted, no kids, bigger, nicer lockers, hair dryers, curling irons, couches, computer with internet, TV, water, showers, towels, shampoo, conditioner, coffee, yadda yadda. Erik says go for it.
• The monthly pass WITH the upgrade costs about the same as my Rec Centre Swim Pass ($33+) plus a 3 month punch card at the CNC ($25+).
• I get one session with a coach at least once every 2 months.
• I am almost positive that the Master's Swim Club in included.

So.... in light of these findings, it seems like a pretty easy decision. That being said, I have a free week-long trial membership so I am going to go for a swim twice this week and see how it goes. I still have to get my money refunded from the Rec Centre as well. Hope that isn't a problem...


My running has been coming along fine. I did 2 days with 6 minute run intervals with 1 min walking in between, then did some 7 minute intervals on my Saturday run. I have noticed that I feel SO much better when I run on Saturday than when I run on the week days. It could be because of two different things. I run after a long day of being on my feet during the week, and there's only one rest day between runs during the week. On Saturday, I run in the morning, Friday was a rest day and it's been TWO days since I ran last. I also prefer running at home because there's less traffic and no exhaust to smell.

My shins have been sore but they don't seem to bother me while I'm running. So I'll just keep on running I guess. I do lots of stretching, icing, hot baths and rubbing the knots out. This week, I'm planning to do 8 minute run intervals. That brings me to my new dilemma.

Running Club starts at school this week. I really want to run with the kids - it's important to them. I usually run 5km on M and W and I don't think it would be good for my shins to add 2-3 km on T and Th as well. They really need the rest break at this point. I don't think it'll be possible to increase my noon run to 5km. I just won't have enough time to do that, AND cool off and eat my lunch afterward. I might try it though. My plan this week is to run 2km with the kids at noon, and then run another 3km after school. Or maybe I'll run 3km in the morning before work, and then run 2km at noon. Either way, I will break up my 5km run and do it on T, Th instead of M, W. Wahine thinks that it shouldn;t affect my endurance too much to break it up. I figure I'll be able to tell when I do my Saturday runs anyway. Running Club only lasts for 5 weeks so it should work out ok.

Well - if I run on T and Th instead, when should I swim and bike? That is the question.

Sun - long bike
Mon - swim
Tues - run, bike hill repeats around suppertime?
Wed - swim
Thurs - run, bike intervals or hills after school. Brick?
Fri - rest
Saturday - run, swim (maybe bike)


Sun - long bike
Mon - hill repeats around suppertime
Tues - run, swim
Wed - bike intervals or hills after school. Brick?
Thurs - run, swim
Fri - rest
Saturday - run, swim (maybe bike)

For the answers to these and many other burning questions, stayed tuned...

And hey, if you actually made it to the bottom of this horrendously long post, and you're still not bleary-eyed, why not hit the comment button below and say "I read it!". I am assuming no one ever reads this which is fine with me really, but I AM curious as well...


SaoSun said...

RE: Restaurant Waits

I don't want to make excuses for the Cactus Club but I own a restaurant too and even though we take reservations I don't think it's fair of you to equivocate your long wait time to poor customer service. Running a restaurant, especially on a busy night is one of the most excruciatingly stressful and painful things I've ever had to do (I feel like vomiting, crying, and screaming all at once on most of those nights...but it's hard to have a breakdown when you have people to please...and it's so hard to please everyone.)

The reason the Cactus Club probably doesn't take reservations is because you lose so much money reserving tables that can be filled immediately by waiting customers, and it's so hard to tell when customers will leave. I've had customers sit up to 4 hours AFTER they've finished eating and even after paying. I've had seats left empty for 3 hours waiting for reservations that don't show up while I turn walk in customers away. I know the waiting ruined your night but they really didn't want you to have to wait and they really did want to seat you but it is more the other customers in the restaurant's fault and the seating capacity that is more to blame I think.

Most customers who have a table generally disregard the other ones waiting for a table based on my experience...

Plus it's kind of a good thing because chain restaurants are overrated and the quieter smaller/family run restaurants (who usually take reservations and make tastier meals) that tend to get overlooked deserve your time more anyway.

raincoaster said...

There is just no excuse for staff getting it that wrong; if you don't know how long it's going to be, tell people you don't know; then they can go elsewhere if they want. It's not like they're going to run out of customers at Cactus Club.

The Cactus Club doesn't take reservations because in my experience (and I know several of the staff, having fired them when they worked for me at a different establishment) the staff can't handle organizing that.

Vancouver has an ethic of no reservations generally, but for a table of six, virtually anywhere will reserve a table. The Cactus Club has always been to me a place guys pick for a first date because if things don't work out, they can at least ogle the waitresses.

That said, I have had one very good service experience at Cactus Club on Broadway near Cambie. But generally it's a clusterfuck.