Less than 24 hours in Unesco World Heritage Site – Historic District of Old Québec

Like an avid traveler and professional wanderluster, visiting Unesco world heritage sites is always a gem. They almost never fail to disappoint.  Québec City is about 7 hours north of Boston and yet in the past 12 years that I called this city my home, I have never ventured up to my Canadian neighbors in Quebec City. Sure Montreal had more than enough shares of my appearance, I even ran the marathon there, but never dared to venture further to the French Canadian east. Luckily, I rectified this mistake one weekend!

On an impulse last second decision, we decided to give up our last night in Montreal in hopes of something new versus the tried and true.  With a few clicks of what seemed like a bright idea, Hotwire got us a modestly priced hotel in an area that looks like it was close enough to things for our day of adventure.

The 2.5 hour drive from Montreal to Québec City isn’t the most exciting. For the most part its flat, country road and as far as i can tell, not much in between. Needless to say that when you arrive at 10PM on a Sunday night, the city looked desolate. As we roamed from one place  to another place on Rue Saint Joseph, we got the same answer. Kitchen is closed… Luckily, there was one  place known for it’s late night food and decent enough drinks. Le Bureau de Poste was like a gastropub lodge that turned into a dive bar offering pretty much anything you  can imagine for food for the low price of 4.95CAD.

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Our bellies quieted down and sleep came way to easily. Monday morning we got up relatively  early and went through to tourist duty.

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Quebec City served as the fortress capital of New France. Much of it’s old city wall and military history seems to be preserved in great shape, earning it a place on the highly coveted UNESCO listing.  These days, it serves more as the administrative capital than anything else for Province Quebec.

But first things first. You can’t be exploring on  an empty stomach. You just can’t because  I said so. Whether  you’re in Paris, or just French Canada, the first order of business was to find a croissant, because hard as we try, American’s just can’t seem to make great croissants that don’t taste like they were made a month ago and frozen.

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We stumbled into Paiillard where the urge to order everything off the menu and the Gelato was a bit of a struggle to surpass. I think end up walking out with a few more things than I should have, because they didn’t survive too well sitting in a 90 degree car all day. Ooops.

And now it was time for the sights… While I briefly looked at a few things to do and see, I strongly believe that the best type of sightseeing is to just get lost!

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The old city walls were renovated into this really cool park trail. Not much shade, but gives you a nice 360 view of most things around you, leaving to no question as to why this was a military capital.

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Through out the whole city, there were all types of cannons around.

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The cliff over looks the Saint Laurent River and Laurentian Mountains and by midday, a corner of it was filled with entertainers trying to earn their pennies.

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We continued wandering around and walked into the Notre Dame Cathedral. It was a nice Cathedral, but not anything special on it’s own.

We wandered into Quartier Petit-Champlain with it’s galleries and cute shops

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I’m a huge fan of hilly cities. I love going up and down the rollers to uncover new views. Quebec City also had quite the collection of these building murals. I read somewhere that there’s a good amount around town. Check out Murale  Creation for more!

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the court yard area of Place Royale was a little empty for how peaceful it was. Maybe on a cooler evening day, this place get’s more packed.

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You can pay $2CAD to take this railway rides up, or you can use your good old legs and do some stairs.

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Rue du Petit-Champlain is the ultimate people watching spot.

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We cozied up to Le Lapin Saute  for some lunch, sangria and people watching.

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Tony and I shared this two way duck salad (smoked duck and duck confit)  . I was still feeling a little too full from eating every pastry in the morning, but I wanted to still try everything more.

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Further down the street there is is no shortage of sculpture art to make you contemplate.

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And this mural that I thought was pretty cool combined with the church.

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We made our way down the castle city steps (we took the long road down versus the steps we found to more quickly get us back up). Marche Du Vieux Port is a little bit bigger than it looks, but definitely not too happening on a Monday. Although they had some cute jewelry vendors, some limited produce, plenty of options for olive oils and jams  and such.

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We came back from the market in a mad rush to get back to the car. somewhere between here, and there, we did find something called 300 steps to Escalier Casse. Like a said before, free workout mixed into sightseeing!
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Le Chateau Frontenac is one of the famous sights in Quebec, but it’s now a Fairmont hotel. So while I’m sure the accommodations are more than lovely, they were not available to the view of the public.

Quebec City (5)It would have been nice to have another half day to explore a little further. There was still plenty more that we could have seen, but for trip, 3/4ths of a day will have to be enough.

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And yes, i did return for some gelato for the road.

RRCA Coaching Certification Recap & Was it worth it?

What a weekend! Gorgeous weather, gorgeous coastal city and what did I do? Spend 18 plus hours in a make shift back room of a running store turned into a classroom. All for a better cause I would hope!

What is RRCA and what am I certified for?

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RRCA, stands for Road Runners Club of America. It’s basically a club of runners, coaches, running clubs and maybe a few other things all with an overall goal of promoting distance running. You can read the history more on their website and if you belong to a running club, chances are it might be an RRCA member club,

RRCA is one of several running coach certifications. So far, they offer the one basic level of training, and they are hoping to develop a level 2 course and some continuing education options.  Other programs include USATF Levels 1 and 2, NAASFP Marathon coaching, Natural Running coaching, etc. Maybe I should go make up my own and start certifications? I’ll call it run, eat, run, run get Plantar Fascia and fall of the face of the running blog world certification. 

Do you really need it?

As far as I am aware, there is nothing in state law that requires to be a certified running coach in order to coach running. Each different organization looking for a coach can have all sorts of requirements on its own. RRCA is one of the few that is more highly recognized (at least by me) and to some degree helps you gain a network and a structured (but not specific) theory of coaching. Also, once you complete your certification, you can give yourself a title of some sorts with credentials, cause we all love credentials in this world to separate us from all the other Slim Shadys, I mean running self proclaims experts.

How do I become an RCAA running coach?

You get online.. unless you have a hook up, the class open up a few months in advance and fill up in about 30 minutes (at least anything near Boston or NY does). You sit through two days of lecture and such.  You take a test, you give more money and get a first aid & CPR certification and bam…. through effort and such, you’re not deemed worthy of being a coach.

Why I want to be certified?

Of course I love running and I mostly wanted to learn a bit to self coach myself. However, I’ve had an increasing number of readers and friends asking me for coaching advice (or at least before I feel off the face of the blog world into self depression of Plantar Fascia world). I always here’s a few things that works for me, and talk about me. However, clearly, what works for me, is not even great advice since I broke down anyways. So, I wanted to find a more structured way of advising and helping potential clients and friends, as well as being involved in community running events and I felt a little lost with all the information that is out there. So I decided the RCAA course/certification program might not be the all in all solution, but it can make me focused a bit.

Things we covered

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  • Coaching history – Done via video
  • Types of runners and their training needs – Novice, Experienced, Elite
  • Building a training program – This includes lots of side topics
  • Running Form
  • Small amounts of bullet points on Nutrition & Injury
  • Runner Psychology
  • Insurance – they sold their perks and reminded you to be mindful, they do happen.
  • and maybe a few things more that I zoned on in

Things I learned and focused on

  • RRCA stresses uniform usage/meaning of certain terms like cross training, tempo run, or intervals, as it relates to coaching running. As coaches, they want us to be careful with how we use these terms. Basically, each different coaching theory uses a different definition for terms like “tempo” and intervals so when we give our runners plans, we need to be very specific on what we want them to do
  • Aside from putting together a running plan, most things in regards to said runner is most likely out of our scope, which includes but is not limited to:
    • Nutrition and diet
    • Injuries and dealing with them
    • Therapy
    • Legal stuff
    • And pretty much most other things
  • “Effort days” are basically workouts that occur at a harder than conversation pace and in a good plan only include 2-3 “effort day” per week with all other runs/workouts being “conversation pace” I think this is the theory that most of your workouts should not be in that grey area and should either matter (be hard) or easy. The rest is wasted effort if you’re on a goal for something.
  • Periodizing your training where the macrocylce includes the entire training period up until the goal race, the mesocycle includes a shorter training phase within the macrocycle that is targeted towards a specific goal, and the microcycle is a short period (usually a week) within a mesocycle. Then there’s a typical infographic pyramid structure used for overall goals of each mesocycle.
  • A tempo run in their definition where its lactic treshold is your fastest pace you can go for an hour, but should be trained in 20-40 minutes according to their training philosophy

What’s next and overall impression

Next step is a 100 choice test, CPR, & First aid certification. Will I be opening up for coaching? Probably not yet. A lot of passion for running is tied to my own running and until I resolve my plantar fascist nightmare, I think taking on running clients will make me more depressed about the fact that I myself cannot run. However, if you do have any questions, feel free to reach out to me and if I ever do start to pimp my coaching for business, trust me, blogworld, you’ll be the first to know!

Is it worthwhile and for whom?

I still haven’t made up my mind if the class was worthwhile for me. I think a short pros and cons list might help.

Cons –

  • The classroom was not decided for 35 students sitting there for 9 hours a day. The classroom, essentially the backroom of a running store and was not designed for the amount of people it was holding, felt miserable to me.
  • Lecture format – I loved learning and discussing, but sitting in a lecture for 9 hours a day for difficult for me. Personally, I would rather read a large portion of what was lectured in my personal time. I’m also not a hearing/listening learning. I can sit there and focus for hours on end while reading, I can memorize things I read and see, but if I heard something somewhere, the chances of me recalling it, are slight.  Everyone is a different type of learning and the part about slides on a projection board was not for me.
  • Too short – I really wanted to have time to soak in and discuss so much more running nerdness that I almost felt like a weekend wasn’t enough

Pros – 

  • All the things I learned that I listened above. Have this in a structured format was incredibly valuable.
  • Discussions, our instructor Randy did a great job of incorporating as much discussion as possible in the limited amount of time available. I felt comfortable approaching him with questions throughout the whole week.
  • Discussion with other “students” It was great to learn about other backgrounds and experiences, from the fellow “mommy bloggers” to competitive runners and other community leaders
  • I am ready to coach individuals and groups. While I am choosing to not pursue coaching yet, I do feel comfortable workings with group runs and individuals now and can confidently say I can work with you if you’re interested
  • Free (okay not really since I paid for the course) Daniels Training book

Overall, I do plan to walk away focusing on the things I learned and benefits I took from this class and certification (once complete). If coaching if something you are seriously considering, this class is a definite must even if it is just to cover some of the more obvious things since everything else is so subjective and individualized.