Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Hill Repeats and other exciting news

Hill repeats on the infamous Valley Inn Road.  It's part of the Around the Bay route and the one (and last) hill that stops runners that aren't familiar with the area dead in their tracks on race day.  It comes at about 25-26K of a 30K race.  This is what I hear almost every year as we're coming down into the valley before we start our ascent on the other side:  "Nobody told me about THAT hill!"

Well, last night a bunch of friends and I got on that hill in the rain, fog and ice that is our weather at the moment and repeated that hill and the other side three times.  It is over 7K of lung-busting torture and we gripe the whole time we're doing it but then are giddy fools when we're done.  It's a tough workout but so worth it in the end.  Our mantra is that we only have to do it once on race day.

I tried to take a picture of the valley and the beautiful grounds surrounding it, but the fog and dim lighting made it impossible.  The area attracts a lot of photographers because it is a haven for birds, geese (who mostly get in our way), swans and many other species of wildlife.  The area belongs to the Royal Botanical Gardens and they do an amazing job at maintaining the area.

We'll be back at it again for the next three weeks.  We all just hope that the weather is better for next week and following.  If history is any indication, it will be the three coldest Tuesdays of our winter.

And the latest exciting news?  I just registered for the Toronto Good Life Marathon on May 5, 2013.

This is where I hope to qualify for Boston.  I started sweating after I hit submit.  Damn, it just got real!

Monday, 28 January 2013

It Was a Hilly Day

It was a crisp, winter morning, minus the 90+K wind gusts from last weekend, and this was our view about 2K into the run.  We were running the opposite direction of the Around the Bay route and I couldn't pass up the chance to take this photo.  It would be one of many stops on this very hilly run.  One hill took us ten minutes to climb up and eight to come down.  We stopped for some photo ops and once so that I could rub some lip balm on my husband's chafed parts.  Luckily it wasn't his private parts this time.  (My cherry lip balm didn't know what hit it on that day!)

I struggled a bit on this run because I was battling the beginnings of a cold and the fact that a bunch of my family came over the day before for a bowling day and pizza, wings and fries.  Not the healthiest of things to eat before a 26K run, but if that's what the family wants, then that's what the family gets.  I made a salad, too.  That was my lame attempt at adding something fresh and healthy to the mix.

I ran with my really fast friend Janine -- she slowed down for me yesterday.  This is the woman who won her age group at the Boxing Day 10-Miler and is helping me train for my spring marathon.  She has a gorgeous border collie who runs with us all the time and she has a super-funny blog that she writes from her dog's perspective.  I'm the rottweiler that she refers to and now I feel I must find a dog reference for her.  I'm thinking a Jack Russell.  Here's a couple of adjectives Google describes for their temperaments:  Intelligent, Athletic, Energetic, Fearless, Vocal.  I'm thinking it suits her to a tee, but I don't know enough about dog breeds.

Here's another stop we made before we tackled another killer hill:

In all, we took on about 12 to 14 hills.  This is our post-run happy faces:

I either need to get longer arms or find a better way to hold the camera so I don't look like I have a double chin.

And this is the post-run double-fisted look from Laura at breakfast:

This weekend we are running flat and I've already got the route mapped out.   The week after, we will be running the whole Around the Bay Route, and this week we start Valley Inn hill repeats -- yeehaw!

Oh, and I won the Linacare giveaway from Kim and I just got it today.  I can't wait to try it!  Thanks, Kim!

Have a great week!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Pace Bunny!

Yup, I'm going to be a pace bunny at the Chilly Half Marathon on March 3rd here in Burlington.   I will be guiding anyone that's looking to finish in 2:15.  I'm pretty excited about it.   It's the first time I've ever done this so I want to do it well.  The bonus to being a pacer is that you run for free.  

The route is flat and fast and they have a great Mizuno jacket included in the race kit.

I'm taking this seriously because I know how people rely on pacers to achieve their goals.

Here's my plan:

1.  First and foremost, finish on time!

2.  I'll get a pace band so that I can make sure that I hit the check points on time during the run.  I know what pace I need to maintain for a 2:15 finish, but having a pace band will give me and my team the reassurance that we're on track as we hit the markers on the route.

3.  Offer encouragement and fun and positive reinforcement!

4.  I'll find out whether this is a first race for anybody running with me or whether they're running this for a PB so I can keep an eye on them.

5.  I'll check in with them on a regular basis during the run to see how they're doing.

6.  Before the race starts, I'll let them know what my race strategy is.   I'm the continuous 2:15 pacer so I won't be doing run/walks.  If anyone wants to walk through the aid stations, I'll do that, but we'll have to pick up the pace for a bit to get back on track.

7.  Make sure they're fueling and hydrating properly.

8.  With 5K left, I'll tell the runners that are feeling good to pick up their pace.  For those that are still with me with 1K left, I'll encourage them again to pick up their pace if they have anything left.  Who knows, maybe they'll all come in faster than 2:15.   That would make me happy.

9.   Go back to anyone who may have fallen off the pace and give them encouragement to keep on running.

I think I've got the bases covered.    Should I get a cute bunny outfit or is that a bit much?

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Three Things Thursday

Three workouts today:

1.  I swam.

Not exactly a big deal, but I'm a triathlete, so I shouldn't have taken a month off.  In my defence, I'm following the Hansons Marathon Method to aid me in my goal of qualifying for Boston in May and they don't encourage a ton of cross-training.  Hard for me to wrap my head around that, but I am a triathlete so I'm starting to incorporate my other disciplines again.  I'll see how that affects all the extra running I'm doing and adjust from there.  It was nice to get back in the pool again.

2.  I ran.  

Tempo run Thursday.  Last week's tempo run was pretty ugly so I wasn't sure what to expect this week.  Woo-freakin'-hoo!  Today I felt fantastic!  I did a 10 minute warm up and 10 minute cool down at the end with 6 repeats of 1K in between and two minute recovery after each rep.  They were all under 5:00 with the last and best one being 4:42.  I haven't done that EVER in any of my tempo runs.  I'm a pretty happy camper right now.

3.  I hot yoga'd.

Third time this week and it felt great.  This has been helping my flexibility tremendously since I started.  Today I was able to get into poses that have been a struggle for me in the past two weeks.  I'm convinced the hot yoga has helped my running and I would highly recommend it to all runners and triathletes.

Have a great weekend with fabulous workouts!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Yoga: Hot, hot, hot!

Why did it take me so long to try hot yoga?  I know one reason was because someone told me that you need to be careful that you don't stretch beyond your range of motion and cause injury.  The other is because I'm not very good at it and I sweat bucket loads at the best of times.

As for the first reason, I should have questioned that further.  Triathletes/runners are notorious for having tight muscles and not being very flexible.  Most of our training is done in a forward motion and we don't vary from that much, even when doing warm-up exercises.  Let's not even discuss how often we like to stretch and how good we are at it.  Using the added warmth of the class to help you get deeper into a stretch can only be a benefit.

So after checking my ego at the door, I signed up for a monthly introductory offer from a Moksha Yoga studio close to home.

I nearly walked out of the first class within minutes of lying down.   The heat made me claustrophobic; I was sweating profusely, and the class hadn't even started.  What's that clicking sound?  I thought people weren't supposed to wear shoes or flip flops in the studio?  So I look.  It's their feet sticking to the floor as they walk past.  How can I relax with that?   I took a few calming breaths and stuck it out for the remainder of the class.  One lesson learned:  Use the extra towel  to wipe down my legs so that I can do tree pose, eagle pose, etc., so I don't slide off myself.  Use the same towel to wipe down my hands so that I can link my fingers together around my legs.  I survived the first class.  I even tried another one the next day.  It was very calming and relaxing.

A couple of days later, I went again.  I was looking forward to another peaceful, sweat-filled class after a run that was hillier than expected.  I showered first despite my husband saying:  "But you're going to sweat again!"  Umm, yeah, I sweat a lot when I run, too.  I don't know anybody at yoga and they don't have to like me, but they don't have to hate me, either.

So, I'm looking forward to a class that will warm up my muscles after a cold, wet run.  I've set up my mat and towels on the floor and I'm in sivasana, breathing deeply and peacefully, letting my body sink into the mat and releasing all tension from my mind and body as I wait patiently for the soothing tones of the instructor to begin the class.  As I enjoy the sedative music, unexpectedly, I hear, "GOOD MORNING, EVERYBODY!"  What the hell?  This is not what I was expecting.  Turns out this class was a little more aggressive and a little more hip? than the others.  The music was more bluesy/soul/Doobie Brother-ish than the traditional kind.  Either this all threw me for a loop, or I've been doing things all wrong all week, but I got corrected -- a lot -- in my poses in this class.  Crap, is it raining in here?  Jesus, no, that's just me and there is a torrential downpour happening on my body.  Even the final sivasana couldn't stop the stream.

But you know what, I loved every minute of it!  And if it keeps me away from going to my massage therapist and the known torture sure to be had from him, I'm going to keep up with this new challenge.


Wednesday, 9 January 2013

2012 -- What a Year!

I started writing this blog at the end of 2011 to chronicle my journey to my Ironman Lake Placid race.   I wasn't very comfortable writing because doing so ultimately meant that I was putting a part of myself on display.  Some of my friends and family may argue that I like to be the centre of attention.  Not so, really.  (That's my husband).  Although, truth be told, I like to be a ham when I'm surrounded by the people I love and with whom I'm comfortable.

Like most people, I only want others to see the best parts of me.  Reality is, the beginning of 2012 was a very difficult year for me and I went to many dark and unhappy places.  Writing about it would have been very dismal.   Thank goodness for friends who like to laugh because they took me out of my funks.

The most important thing I learned this year is that some of the bad stuff that happened ultimately turned out to be the best thing that could have ever happened to me.  It's still an evolving situation, but one that I am learning to embrace this year with less fear and more happiness.

I knew 2012 would be a rollercoaster year, and it didn't disappoint.  These are some of the things that happened.  I came up with 12 to commemorate the year 2012.

1.   End of a business (and, sadly, a friendship).  This was where the darkness came from.  I had a fitness testing facility/triathlon and running coaching business that I was very passionate about, but when my partner/friend pulled out of the busines out of the blue, I couldn't carry on by myself and had to close the business.  It was also the end of our friendship.

2.   End of a career and on to a new chapter which is yet to be determined.  In my previous life, I was a court stenographer for over 20 years.  I primarily covered criminal trials so I've heard just about everything there is to hear when it comes to crimes.  Very exciting at times, and much more interesting to everyone else who has morbid fascinations with death and criminals.  I have lots of stories.  This past March, I decided I needed a career change.  I'm still working on that, but I have been lucky that I've had many transcripts to work on to keep me preoccupied and to maintain some sort of cash flow in the process.   Lawyers do not like to pay on time so that's been challenging at times.

3.   Working from home.  See above with respect to transcripts.  I love working from home.  I hated commuting to Toronto.  Three hours of my day was spent in my car and sitting on a train.  I also managed to keep some of my previous athletes and am coaching them in their future goals.

4.   Great success in my own training.  It's amazing how much more selfish I can be with my own training when I'm not focused on everyone else's.  This isn't a complaint.  I loved/love coaching but my own took a backseat for many years.  This year, I managed to win my age group in a 5K race back in April.  Okay, that's because it was a small race and the woman who actually won my age group won the Masters division so that bumped me up to first. 

5.   Friendships strengthened.  As I said above, some amazing things came out of 2012 and one of the best things is that certain friendships that I hadn't expected became stronger. 

6.   Ironman Lake Placid accomplished.    Best experience ever.  My race report was finally completed in November.  Bad blogger, I know.

7.   Old bike/new bike.  Hated the old bike and LOVE my new bike.  I wasn't looking for a new bike, but when I discovered a six-inch crack in the frame, I NEEDED a new bike.  Afterall, I was doing Ironman about three months after this discovery.  I fell in love with my new Cervelo right away.  Again, some wonderful things happening. 

8.  Training myself = I need some mental toughness.  Since there was no one else I knew doing Lake Placid, this necessitated some long solo bike rides and many, many solo long runs.

9.  Girl nights are important.  I have some amazingly supportive friends and these nights were a blast!

10.  Wills signed.  Not a real exciting thing, but one of the resolutions for my husband and I was to do this in 2012.  So it only took us to December to finally get it done, but we did it.

11.  Nutcracker - first time ever seeing it was in December.  It wasn't the spectacle that I'm sure the ballet puts on in Toronto, but we're going to see it in Toronto this year.  (Again, girl nights are important).

12.  Writing more blog posts near the end of the year.  I finally got pro-active and began posting more.  I became more motivated and inspired by reading and following so many amazing bloggers. 

I'm going to give a shout out to Janae who wrote a great post on tips on starting your own blog and one thing she said was to write about things that you're passionate about.  There are lots of things that I'm passionate about, other than running and triathlons, so I will be writing more about that in the future.  Unfortunately, you may also learn more about me, too, warts and all :)

Hope your 2013 is shaping up to be the year you want it to be and deserve it to be.