Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hear me ROAR!!! (40 B4 40 - #2)

More than 7 hours ago, I crossed "New Experience #2" off my 40 B4 40 list (and a rather significant item off my Bucket List) - I officially became A HALF MARATHONER!!!!    The whole experience was rather surreal and I am still coming down from the "Runner's High" that invariably accompanies these events, but I wanted to get my thoughts down on "paper" while the whole thing was still fresh in my mind. 

There's a pretty good chance that this blog post could quickly become a novel, so in an effort to keep your interest, I'll try to keep it as brief as possible.   

First of all, I can't say enough good things about this race.   The "Toronto Island Girl Half Marathon and 5K" was an incredibly well organized event and I am SO glad that I chose it for my first half.   It was a smaller event - I believe around 600 runners total for the 2 events - and it was all women, so the atmosphere on the island this morning was amazing.   Such a difference from the "Midsummer Night's 15k Disaster" that we ran a month earlier. 

You Ladies ROCKED IT!
The 5K event went off at 8:30 and I was serving as "cheerleader" for Brenda and Claire since the half marathon didn't start until 9:30 (note the very sensible start time!!!!)   Brenda was her usual rock star self despite an injury and Claire surprised herself by finishing much faster than she expected!

Coach Fil and I before
the start!!!
After some high fives, photo ops and celebrating, it was time for Fil and I to get ready for the half.  I was eerily calm - all the nerves that I had been battling to this point had vanished and I was ready to GO!   There was a steel band playing and some ladies helped us get warmed up.....then we were off!!!!

I had decided prior to the race that I would dedicate each KM of my run to a particular person (or people) that held a special place in my heart.  I went to Running Room and bought a pace tattoo for my left forearm (the times were for my "worst case scenario" pace - I was told not to have a goal time for my first half marathon, but based on my training I was really hoping I could come in under 3hrs.   Yes, I am aware that is slow.)   Beside the KM markers on the pace tattoo, I wrote the initials for the person/people that I would be running for during that KM so that I could think about them during that particular part of my run.  

KM 1 - This first KM was my fastest of the day (of course) and I dedicated it to all of my cheerleaders - my facebook supporters and friends that have really taken an interest in my journey and helped to keep me motivated along the way.    I received one FB message from Lee-Anne yesterday advising me not to start to fast, so, Lee, I did think of you in this first KM and tried not to let the adrenaline get the best of me.   I slowed myself down and tried to find a nice even pace.    Vicki D., Sophia W., Leanne C., Karen F., Jacquie F., Cousin Kim, Nelson G, Julia P., Sharron R., Jessica A. and my Aunties (to name but a few) - you were all in my thoughts during this first awesome kilometre!!!

KM 2 - Steve O. - I dedicated this KM to've been a great friend, supporter and Number 1 BBF!!

KM 3 - Sue V., Sandra B. and Claire K.  - my little WW family.   Sue and Sandra are always there with a hug, some advice, and most importantly their friendship!   Claire - thank you so much for waiting around for me this morning in the FREEZING cold and for being my photographer.  The support of all three of you wonderful ladies means a lot.  

KM 4 - Aynsley H., Scott H. and kiddies - Ayns, you were my original running buddy and I really do appreciate your support throughout the process.   During your KM I wished for nothing but a lifetime of love and happiness for you, Scott and the kids.   

KM 5 - Joanne L. and Family - Jo, you have been a great friend and cheerleader for me when I needed it most.  I am so proud of what you and Kate accomplished during your run yesterday and I can't wait until you are Princesses together!!   As an amusing side note, during your kilometre I was passed by two women wearing "Wonder Woman Cape Socks".   How perfect!!  I literally laughed out loud. 

KM 6 - Michelle S - Michelle claims that I inspired her to start running, but Michelle you are an inspiration to me!!    Michelle was also running her first half marathon today (in Oakville) - and based on when her race started and how long she told me it would take her to finish, I assumed she would be finishing somewhere during my 6th kilometre.  Michelle, I was sending you strength and lots of extra speedy vibes during this time, so if you magically got faster during the final stretch of your race, I'll take the credit  (hahaha).     CONGRATS!! 

KM 7 - Rose and George W. - Rose and George were like second parents to me during my high school years.   Both are fighting their own difficult battles at this time, so I wanted to spend this kilometre praying for and wishing for nothing but strength and good health for you!  xoxo

KM 8 - Cousin Donna - This year has been a year of transformation for you and I am so proud of what you have accomplished!   I spent this kilometre praying for strength and good news for you very soon!

KM 9 - Coach Fil and Coach Brenda - My two rock stars.    I haven't known either of you for very long, but you have quickly become very important to me and I was so thankful that you were there for me today.  So many times I wanted to quit, and you always knew what to say to help me keep my eyes on the prize.  I couldn't have done it without you.

From my Garmin - the route (detour included) was beautiful!
As a side note, it was during this kilometre that I managed to get lost (only I could get LOST during a race that was as well signed and organized as this one, but alas, I did).    I had been doing really well up until this point and was feeling so strong that once I realized I had taken a wrong turn, I was on the verge of a total meltdown.    Because it was my "Coaches' Kilometre", I immediately thought of what they would say if they were there with me and I managed to calm myself down and get back on the course (After a slight .8k detour.  Sigh).  

KM 10 - Emily W. and Kiddies - My oldest friend and my first ever running partner oh so many years ago, I spent this kilometre wishing for love and happiness for all of you after a challenging year.   *hugs*

KM 11 - Val A. - My original "Second Mom" and my true inspiration for running in the first place.   I always admired your strength and dedication to the sport and I admire your strength even more today.    The past couple of months have been nothing short of miraculous for you and I pray every day that the miracles continue.  

KM 12 - Lisa W. and kiddies - for my "twin" BFF.   Your unending support and love mean the world to me.  I wish for nothing but peace, love and happiness for you and the kids - you deserve only the best.   xoxo

KM 13 - Maddie, Mike and Jake - my legs were starting to feel like lead during this kilometre (and my iPod had died about 2kms earlier!  ARGH!!!!) so I imagined us in one of our late night dance parties (use your core!!!) to try to put a little extra spring in my step.    I love you all lots and can't wait til we dance again.....

KM 14 - Meagie, Ryan and the boys (plus Baby Shep III) - Thank you so much for being an amazing friend, sister (and brother) in law and a fantastic kid watcher!    I sent much love and happiness to you all and prayed for a smooth and safe arrival for our little baby girl that is on the way!  Love ya!!!

KM 15 - Granny and Papa H - After I tough year for you both, we now have the light at the end of the tunnel.  I pray for much health, love and happiness for you and thank you for building such a beautiful family for me to be a part of. 

KM 16 - Ray, Fran and Katelynn - How I wish that we were closer together so I could watch my little niece grow up!  I miss you all so much and sent you love (with some kisses and snuggles for Katelynn) on this KM this morning. 

I had been doing pretty well up until this point in the race and I knew that I would definitely make it to the finish line.   I took my last gel around now for a little (much needed) energy to carry me to the finish!!!

KM 17 - Mom and Dad - without a doubt my biggest cheerleaders!   How I wish you could have been here this morning (or just here in general....but I digress) but I know you were cheering me on in your hearts.    I am so glad that you have found so much happiness in your retirement years and I prayed for strength, health and love to carry you through at least the next 35-40 years and beyond.   Love you both xoxox

KM 18 - Marc - My rock, my life partner, my love.   Physically this was one of the hardest kilometres of the day, and I really concentrated on you to help carry me through it.   I couldn't have gotten to this point without your support and your understanding of all the time I had to spend training to get here, even if you really didn't understand why I felt the need to do it (run 21.1k?? That's what CARS are for!!!!).    Without getting too mushy.....I.  Love.  You.   Thank you loving me, too.  xoxo

KM 19 - Kenna -  You have NO IDEA how much I wished I could have your beautiful long, strong (and young!) legs at this point in the race!    I know if you could have been there today you would have (and you would have crossed that finish line with a smile.....look out Island Girl 2015).   I am so proud of what you have accomplished and the person you have become.  Love you xoxoxox

KM 20 - Erin - My little cheerleader - my bundle of love, attitude and personality!    I imagined you running beside me and telling me that I could do it!   You bring smiles to the faces of everyone you meet and I love the little person that you are.   You walk to the beat of your own drum and I love that about you.    xoxoxo

KM 21+ - I had planned to dedicate this kilometre to ME.    This half marathon was something that I wanted to do for so long and I wasn't sure I really had what it took to make it happen.  I can say that if I hadn't made a point of making the goal "public", there's a good chance that I wouldn't have seen it through to the end.   The training was incredibly difficult for me, and, to be honest, it would have been SO much easier to quit.   My friends, family and support system above all played HUGE parts in getting me to the finish line today.    In the end, it was all so very worth it!!!
We did it!!!!! 

Brenda met me during the last KM (and watched with me as my Garmin hit the 21.1k mark, even though we still had a ways to go...but I'm not bitter) and ran me in to the finish - that meant so much and I love you for it.    I had kept it together pretty well for most of the run, but when I saw Claire, Fil and Brenda cheering me on at the end, well, I bawled like an idiot.  I am so thankful you were there (freezing your butts off) so that you could be a part of the moment.   It wouldn't have been the same without you.  

Thank you, GARMIN!! :)
So there you have it. It may not have been the prettiest half marathon ever, but it was mine.  My first one.  I am proud of every step.  My Garmin put me at 2:56:45 for the 21.1k, so even though my chip time is longer thanks to my little detour, I will always know that I made it under my goal.  In the weeks leading up to the race I had told a few people that it would be my first, and likely my LAST, half marathon.   After crossing the finish line, I know I have to do it again someday.   The "finish line feeling" is indescribable....if you have ever thought about it, DO IT!   Trust me, if an old slow poke like me can do it, anyone can.   :)

Now for some much needed (and well earned!) R and R.....

J :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tartan Twosome!! (40 B4 40 - #1)

What a fabulous weekend!   As some of you know, a couple of friends and I headed off to the East Coast for a little running, sightseeing and lots of PIRATES!  The weekend has been in the works for so long and I'm sad that it went by in a blink.  Not only did I have a wonderful time, but I have officially crossed the first new experience off my "40 Before 40" list.....

Visit Nova Scotia!!!

Truth be told, there were actually a lot of firsts for me this weekend, but I've decided to combine them all together into one awesome new experience.

After an uneventful flight, Fil, Vicki and I arrived in Halifax (new experience #1) on Thursday evening.  It was late so we just picked up our rental car (new experience #2), headed to our hotel, ordered pizza and got settled.   We really only had two full days in Nova Scotia, so we knew we'd have to head out early on Friday morning to make the most of our day.  Unfortunately Tropical Storm Gabrielle was headed straight for us (new experience #3), but even though we were anticipating a soggy day, we weren't going to let her slow us down. 

On Lower Water Street - YUM!
Isn't he cute?
On Friday we managed to squeeze in a trip to Pier 21 in downtown Halifax, did a little shopping, visited the Citadel and had our pictures taken with one of the cool looking guards and had an amazing lunch at "The Bicycle Thief" (best dessert ever) before we had to head out to the little town of Eastern Passage to pick up our race kits for our Sunset 5K that evening.   The rain wasn't too bad while we were downtown, but it was getting progressively worse as the day went on.    After picking up the race kits (complete with  two different tech shirts!), we went back to the hotel to get ready for our run.

It was raining pretty hard when we got back to Eastern Passage about a half hour before the race. (Thankfully I had packed rain ponchos!)  The race organizers did a fabulous job of getting us pumped up for the run - there were pirates everywhere and you can't help but be in high spirits when you hear traditional East Coast Music!  There were around 1250 runners participating and all of them were running the Sunset 5k (Sun?  What sun?).   The start and finish line were in a small area called "Fisherman's Cove" that had the cutest little shops and we could imagine that the views would have been quite beautiful on a clear day.  The 5k route was an "out and back" that took us up a gradual incline along the coast before turning us around to head back towards the finish at Fisherman's Cove.   Amazingly, the rain stopped shortly after we started and it was actually perfect running weather - cool and crisp.
Sunset 5K Medal and Tartan Twosome bib

Overall, I felt pretty good on this run.  I lost "Superstar Fil" sometime around the first water break, but I didn't want to push it too hard because I knew I had to get up early and run 10k the next day.   I was happy with my finish time of 36:24...and REALLY happy with my first medal!!  The strawberry daquiri ice cream and chocolate milk were added bonuses as well.  YUM! Bring on race #2!

We had to get up early on Saturday morning to head back to Eastern Passage for Day Two.   There were around 1350 participants in the four "Sunrise" events today, with the biggest crowd running the 10K.  Even though the rain had definitely improved, it was really foggy so the visibility in the area was pretty limited.   The waves were crashing nearby on the shore and even though we couldn't really see them, the sound was awesome. 

Fil, Vicki and I after the 10K
Met up with Karen in NS too!
I didn't have the same spring in my step that I had on yesterday's run.   I had worn my old running shoes yesterday (hoping to keep my "good" shoes dry for today's longer run) and my right foot and calf were pretty unhappy about it.    There was a pretty significant hill at around the 3km mark that seemed to go on forever, but I did manage to find my stride for a while after about 4K.   My right foot had pretty much given up by the 8K mark and the last 2K were a real struggle.   Overall I was pleased with my time (1:19:21), even though it was slower than I had managed on other 10Ks in the past.  Factoring in the weather, my foot, the travel and the early wake up call, I think I did pretty well.   Of course there was the added bonus of the 10K finisher's medal - along with the HUGE "Tartan Twosome" medal - that helped take the sting out of my right foot all together.    We had all accomplished what we went to Nova Scotia to do - now on to the sightseeing!

On Saturday we were hoping to see Peggy's Cove, the Swiss Air Disaster Memorial, the adorable towns of Mahone Bay and Lunenburg as well as "The Bluenose".    With Vicki navigating and me driving (new experience #5), we managed to see everything we had planned on.    The weather cleared after Peggy's Cove and it turned out to be a beautiful afternoon.   

In the town of Peggy's Cove
A little foggy at the lighthouse
Part of the SwissAir Disaster Memorial

The Three Churches of Mahone Bay
Gorgeous Church in Lunenburg

We had to sneak onto a film set (new experience # 6)
 to get the Bluenose up close
The Bluenose


We awoke to gorgeous blue skies on Sunday morning, but sadly we had to return home.  We decided to drive back to Eastern Passage to enjoy the scenery a little since we couldn't see much on either of the two race days.    It really is a lovely little town and I was glad that we decided to return to see it in all its' glory!   Overall, this was a great little "Girls Getaway" and a fabulous experience for my first destination race (New experience #7).  Nova Scotia is a beautiful part of the country and I hope to return in the near future and spend more time enjoying the sights!  Thanks to my running/travel buddies for making this first "New Experience" on my "40 B4 40" list an awesome one!!!
Friends old and new......

Picture with Pirates - New Experience #8

Friday, September 6, 2013

Pushing 40

Anyone who knows me knows that I sometimes always seem to get a little completely wigged out every year as my birthday approaches.  I never really thought I'd be one of THOSE people that thinks of age as more than just a number, but lo and behold, I totally am.  Every year I usually feel the need either change my look, my wardrobe or crawl inside a bottle of wine with a straw and a "Do Not Disturb" sign. 

This year was no exception.   As the eve of my last 30-something birthday approached, I found myself feeling a little weepier than usual.   I can't really put a finger on "why".....for the most part, life is pretty freakin' good.....I guess maybe it's just the "have I really accomplished what I had hoped to by this stage of my life?" and "Is this it? What is my place in the world?"  questions that tend to surface around the anniversary of one's birth.   Plus, I also really have a flair for the dramatic.  It's part of my charm. 

This year,  I totally ripped off the idea of was inspired by a friend to begin a little project for the last year of my 30's.   Back in November, a friend of mine turned 30.  (Sigh).   She decided to embrace her 30's by attempting to have 30 brand new experiences in the year following her 30th birthday.    I think she is somewhere around experience #18 right about now, and I have really enjoyed following her new adventures.  (You rock, girl!!!!!)

I thought it was such a fantastic idea (thank you, Jacquie) that I decided to steal borrow the idea and adapt it into a little challenge for myself - in an effort to (hopefully) avoid an epic birthday meltdown this time next year on the eve of my 40th.  

You heard it here first, folks - this year I am going to attempt to have 40 BRAND NEW experiences, and blog about them, before I turn 40.  (You can be sure a scrapbook will also follow.....)

I have been compiling a list of a few things I'd like to try, sort of a mini-bucket list, that ranges from simple and inexpensive (trying REAL sushi!) to a few more costly adventures that will require some serious safety equipment!  (Don't panic, Joanie). 

I can't wait for this challenge to begin and I am excited at the thought of being able to look back on my last "30-something year" as a truly memorable one - one where I stepped out of my comfort zone and really LIVED! 

But for now I'm still 38......

J :)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Right Stuff? (Half Marathon Training: Week 1)

Well, week 1 of Half Marathon training is in the books and I wish I could say it was a roaring success.   I suppose if you consider that I did complete all of the required runs and got my "miles" in (23.6 km to be exact), then the week wasn't a total disaster, but I seem to have lost my running "mojo" and I have no idea where it went or how to begin getting it back. 

The half marathon plan I have chosen to follow is 16 weeks long and doesn't leave a whole lot of room for slacking - as of Day 1 of this training program, my goal race (Toronto Island Girl Half Marathon) was exactly 16 weeks away!  AHHHHHH!

Day 1:   Scheduled Run:   4-6km "Casual Run" .   Actual Run: 4.01km, 7:08 mins/km.    This run was supposed to be slow and casual, and that's pretty much exactly what it was.   I hadn't eaten dinner yet when I went out, so I didn't push the distance too much.  At the time I thought the run felt difficult, but looking back on it, it was the best run of the week.

Day 2:  Interval training:  An important component of any training plan, interval training helps runners add speed to their distance.  I didn't know a lot about interval training other than you are supposed to run in shorts "bursts" at close to your maximum speed, and then slow down to slower than your usual race pace for a longer interval, and then repeat for 15-20 mins.   I decided I was going to alternate 30 second bursts of "speed" with 60 seconds of running at a more normal pace.  After the first set, I arrived at the conclusion that interval training is the enemy.  I managed to finish 17 minutes of intervals (2.44 km avg. pace 6:58 mins/km) and it was all I could do to make it home without
puking.   Must come up with something different for next week.....

Day 3:   Rest day.   One thing is for sure, I am a total ROCK STAR with rest days.   I bet no one does it better than me. 

Day 4:   Scheduled Run:   6km "Tempo Run".  Actual Run:  6.10km, 7:42 mins/km.    What happened to my pace????  ARGH!!!!  It was so cold and miserable outside, I decided to hit the Milton Indoor Track to get my run in.   I deliberately took it easy on this run just to make sure I could cover the distance, but I left this run feeling so incredibly discouraged.  Just a month ago I had managed a 6:48 min/km pace at the Goodlife 5K and I felt awesome, now here I was struggling through a SLOW 6k - almost 1 min/km slower!   Sigh.  

Day 5:  Scheduled Run:   5-7km "Casual Run".   Actual Run:  5km, 7:26 mins/km.  Overall, this run felt better than Thursday, but I'm still not in "the zone".   Another run at the Milton Indoor Track. 

Day 6:   Scheduled Run:  6-8km "Long Run"   I decided to bump my long run to today was another REST DAY!   

Day 7:   Scheduled Run:  6-8km "Long Run".  Actual Run:   6.06km, 7:37 mins/km.   This was, by far, the worst run of the week.   I had high hopes for this run - so high, in fact, that I had planned to run the suggested maximum 8k distance when I left the house.  I had eaten well all day and was very well hydrated - I was going to ROCK IT!   Shortly into the run, however, it became obvious there was going to be no "Rocking it" on this day.    As nice as it was to be running outside again, I left right when the sun was at its highest and the heat wreaked havoc on my energy levels.  I ran out of water after about 4k and I just couldn't turn off the negative inner monologue that had started in my head.  I had left my iPod at home (BAD IDEA!) so there was nothing to drown out the constant nagging of my inner voice telling me  "You're never going to be a Half Marthon Runner!   You are too old, too out of shape and pathetic"!   Sigh.  I really hope that I have a few good runs in my future next week, because this negative inner voice is really starting to get the best of me - I'm starting to believe it!!!

Overall, even though my pace was uber crappy this week, that's not what really has me down.   I've never really let the stop watch dictate whether a run was successful - a mile is a mile, whether it took 10 minutes or 13 and trying to be "fast" was never the point when I started this running journey.   I think it comes down to the fact that I'm not really "feeling it" this week.  I'm really starting to doubt whether I have the "Right Stuff" to complete that half marathon in September.   I need an awesome run - STAT!   Now where did I put my cape?????

As hard as it can be, I need to change my mindset a little and look at the week from another perspective.  If anyone was to read my Training Diary and compare it to my Training Plan, the week looks like a success.    All runs crossed off the list - all required miles were completed.  I need to chalk it up to a little bump in the road, shake it off, and get my head back in the right place.  Did I really think I was going to get to 21.1 kms and not hit any road blocks?  Of course not! 

Here's hoping I get my groove back a little in Week 2!!!!

Happy Trails! 

J :)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Inside Track (B210K Week 1)

I don't know about you, but lately I have been stuck in what can only be described as "the mid-winter BLAHS".   I think it happens to most of us every year, but this winter seems to be worse than those in recent memory.   Yes, I KNOW we live in Canada and that we DO have winter, but we have been spoiled rotten the past few years (last year in particular) and it seems like I've forgotten what winter really feels like. 

This time last year I was about a month into the C25K program and didn't seem to have any problems finding the motivation to get my runs in. This year, thanks to those "blahs", bursts of motivation seem to be few and far between.    Thankfully about a month ago I discovered the Milton Indoor Running Track - an elevated indoor track above a hockey arena, providing a fabulous alternative to running outdoors in the elements.  I have been going a couple of times a week to try to re-establish a good 5K base before I officially begin my 10K training plan.  The track has, without a doubt, saved my training.  

Monday March 4 - Bridge to 10K, Week 1, Day 1 -  I finally decided I was ready to begin the official 10K training plan.   It's super chilly again today, so off to the indoor track I go.  The plan for Day 1 is 10 minutes of walking/1 minute running x 4.    I was very happy to discover that my new Garmin Forerunner 10 running watch could be programmed to alert me when to run and when to walk, while I used the "lap feature" to keep track of my laps so I could calculate my distance at the end of the run.  (5.25 laps = 1 km).  Ironically, I haven't actually run OUTSIDE since I purchased my Garmin watch at the end of January, but I plan to review it here once I get a chance to use all the features.

I wasn't expecting this run to be as challenging as it was - I'm not sure if that was due to me taking last week off to fight a cold or if the re-introduction of the walk breaks threw me for a bit of a loop.  In any case, I dragged my ass for the last 10 minutes and in the final 3 minutes my left knee, from whom I hadn't heard in months, decided to act up a little.   Hoping for better on Wednesday.   Distance completed:  5.52 km, pace: 7:49 mins/km  (Walking intervals = slower pace)

Tuesday March 5 - Rest Day.   Semi-concerned about mysterious ankle pain which seems to have come out of nowhere.   Hoping that it turns out to be nothing and tomorrow's run can proceed as scheduled. 

Wednesday March 6 - Going to take it easy on the ankle for one more day.    *sadface*

Thursday March 7 - Decided to try a workout DVD in the basement to test out the ankle.   I did a 2 mile DVD which I used to struggle through years ago but today I barely broke a sweat.   Ankle held up ok during the workout but was sore afterwards. 

Friday March 8 - Threw caution to the wind and completed W1D2.  It was just too nice outside not to run.   The last 10 minute interval was a bit of a challenge but I JUST missed a 5K PR by 5 seconds even WITH the 1 minute walk intervals (ARGH!!!).   Overall this run was awesome despite ankle pain.   Distance completed:   5.78 km, pace: 7:26 mins/km (MUCH faster than MONDAY!)

Saturday March 9 - 3 mile cardio DVD in the basement.   Broke a sweat this time, but I definitely need some more challenging DVDs.   

Sunday March 10 - W1D3 - Well if I thought Friday was nice, today was positively SUMMERIFFIC!  The mild temps made for some super sloppy running trails so I had to do some major puddle dodging.  Once AGAIN the last 10 minute interval was a bit tough (why IS that?), but I think I am ready for Week 2!  I didn't notice my ankle at all DURING the run, but after the run the pain was back. I may have to explore this further.    Distance completed:   5.78km, pace 7:26 mins/km.  (Identical to Friday but I broke a PR for fastest mile!)

So, week one is now complete and I think I am starting to find my groove a little.   Week 2 is going to begin on Wednesday - I've planned HOT YOGA for Monday and scheduled a rest day for Tuesday.   I'm very happy to look back on my training plan for the week and know that I completed all of my scheduled workouts!

Here we go again!

J :)

PS   I am IN LOVE with my Garmin watch.  Review to follow next week......

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My 28 year old self....

Our latest book club pick is called "What Alice Forgot" (Liane Moriarty).   The story begins with  Alice "coming to" after a fall off a bike in spin class.    Alice thinks she is a 29 year old blissfully happy newlywed awaiting the birth of her first child, when in reality she is a 39 year old nearly-divorced mother of 3.   Somehow she has misplaced the last 10 years of her life.  She can't remember her three children, her decision to quit her job and be a stay-at-home mom or her seemingly perfect marriage falling apart.   And what the heck is she doing in a spin class anyway?   Exercise is a 4-letter word!!!  At one point, Alice commented "How is it possible that SO MUCH has changed in just 10 years?".  It got me thinking....just how much HAS life changed in the last 10 years?   If I suddenly found myself in the same situation as poor Alice, what would I have missed?

This time 10 years ago I was 28 and adjusting to married life having just moved into our "supposed to be for only 3-5 years" new home (which we still live in today).  Makenna was nearly 4 and Erin was soon to become a rapidly dividing cluster of cells. I was 10 lbs lighter, my hair was long and red and my face showed none of the not-so-charming "character lines" (sure, let's call them that) which I notice in every single picture that is taken of me these days.   I had never sent a text message, posted on Facebook or watched a YouTube video.  Use my cell phone to "google" something?    What on earth are you talking about?

I drove a 2001 5-speed Chevy Cavalier.  The farthest I had ever run was from the car to the grocery store in a rainstorm.  I was shy, had very little self-confidence and was terrified of public speaking.  I wanted to have two more children.    My parents and brother lived 10 minutes away.   I did work in Real Estate and I was well on my way to my best year ever.   Once I discovered I was pregnant, I tried to work as hard as I could to ensure that I would be able to take a year off after "Baby Halter" arrived, since paid mat leave was not something I could take advantage of as a Self Employed person.     I sold more than 40 homes that year - a milestone I have never reached (nor wanted to reach) since.  For the past 10 years, my "career" has taken a backseat to my family - a decision I haven't once regretted.   

What has changed in the past 10 years?   Everything!  If you had told me 10 years ago that I would learn to run, perform in 4 dance shows at the Living Arts Centre, discover a passion for writing or find my calling as a "motivational speaker" of sorts,  I would have thought you were crazy.  Surely this can't be the same person that used to throw up on "School Speech Day" every year?   Fundamentally,  I am the same person now that I was 10 years ago.   So how can I be so very different?   

I really think, for the most part, life doesn't get going until 30.   Up until then you are dealt an ever changing hand of cards, and your future slowly takes shape as you decide which cards to hold and which cards to fold.  *Cue Kenny Rogers*  You are so busy trying to figure out what you're doing,  whether you're doing it right and what everyone else thinks of what you're doing, that you can't even decide whether or not you actually like doing it.  I know, for me, after 30 things started to come together.  I found my voice.  I found my self-confidence.  I cared less what everyone thought of me and more about what I wanted.   The person I was becoming bore little resemblance to the person I was trying so hard to be when I was in my 20s. 

I am only about 1/3 of the way through the book so I have no idea what becomes of Alice and her 29 year old self trapped in a 39 year old life that she doesn't remember choosing.   Those 10 years of life lessons that Alice lost?   I'm pretty thankful I learned them.  If I could somehow rewind the clock 10 years and say anything to my 28 year old self I think it would be :

Dear 28 Year Old Me:

- Even though you think you've got it figured out, you don't.
- Stop sweating the small stuff and just live.  
- You may not love your body, but take care of it and it will take you anywhere.
- Money means nothing.   Find your passion and live it. 
- You are stronger than you give yourself credit for.
- Ten years from now you will wish you had started today.
- You are important too.
- Giving your kids memories is more important than giving them "stuff"
- Sometimes, it's OK to say NO.  
- Oh, and start writing things down because all that stuff you think you will remember forever will be fuzzy at best in ten years.  Even if you take a million pictures of it. 

Love, the 38 Year Old You. 

PS  You Rock!  Tell yourself this often. 

J :)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

You Are What You Eat

A new week, a new look for my blog!!!   While this week wasn't exactly a win in the exercise department
(-20s with windchill is not my ideal running weather), I did take some very positive steps forward in an effort to clean up my eating habits.   I was fortunate that my 6 week "Food Free-For-All" didn't have a significant impact on the number on the scale, but it really gave me a kick in the ass energy-wise.  
So, with the exception of a couple of drinks at Friday Night Wine Book Club, I did pretty well with my eating this week.   (The food journaling habit seems to be taking a while to kick in though).   I am also working really hard at kicking my "on-again, off-again" love affair with diet coke, which had returned to a passionate "on-again" relationship of late. 
Even though I didn't get out for my planned runs this week (I'm still blaming the weather...), I did manage to sneak in some workouts in my basement thanks to some old favourite workout DVDs video tapes.  (How retro!!)  I promised myself that, no matter the weather, I was going to get out for a run this weekend.   I am trying to re-establish a solid 5K base so that I can start working the "Bridge to 10K" program. 
I had trouble choosing an outfit that would solve the old "Not too hot, hot too cold" conundrum, (I had thought that -3 would feel like BIKINI weather after what we had to endure last week.  Not so), but eventually I settled on something.   Makenna decided to join me as well for her first run since the December 1st Santa Shuffle. (Yay!) We planned on a 4K+ route in our neighbourhood and headed out around 1pm with the sun blazing.  
It felt REALLY good to get back out there.  Everything seemed to come together and it was as if I hadn't taken 6 weeks off to Eat, Drink and be Merry.   After the first 2K I overheated and had to take off my jacket, but overall this run felt totally fantastic.   No cramps, no side stitches, no knee pain. I am also FINALLY closing in on a 7 mins/km pace.   I couldn't help but think that this may have had something a lot to do with how well I ate during the week and how well hydrated I was.   I have heard it, I have read it, I have even preached it to my Weight Watchers members, but I definitely experienced it today - you are what you eat.    Everything you put into your body is fuel and your engine runs so much better on premium fuel than the crappy, over-processed, low-grade fuel that we so often find in fast food restaurants and the frozen food aisle. 
I've noticed that a lot of my Facebook friends are embracing the "Paleo" style of eating.  In short, you eat only foods that would have been available during the "Paleolithic Era".  If a caveman ate it, you're good to go.  If not, steer clear.    Really, this style of eating makes a lot of sense to me - good, clean, wholesome eating. Nothing packaged, nothing processed.   I'm not quite sure if I could adopt this diet for the long haul (No Grains!  No Dairy!  No Chocolate!), but I'm contemplating adding in a week of Paleo-style eating maybe once every month or so just to see how it affects my training. 
Looking ahead to this week, I have 3 quick 4K runs scheduled during the week as well as my "long run" on Sunday.   (My long run is currently only 6K, but we all have to start somewhere).  Add in a yoga class and a couple of my vintage home workouts and I should start seeing my energy levels returning to their former glory sooner rather than later. 
Until we eat again,
J :)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

No day like TODAY!

After taking pretty much the entire month of December off from any activity that didn't involve eating, drinking or spending money, immediately followed by a week long vacation in Mexico that involved more of the same, I decided that TODAY was the day to get back on the proverbial healthy living bandwagon.  And let me tell you, even though my brain was ready for this transition, my body had to be dragged kicking and screaming out for a "pre-training" run.   The weather forecast couldn't have been more co-operative so even though I am still battling some kind of head cold, I knew I had to lace up my shoes and get out there.

I had been doing so well with maintaining my healthy eating habits for the first 11 months of the year, but everything really fell apart in December.   It's amazing how one bad month can really throw you for a loop.  I've noticed that my energy levels for the past 6 weeks have been somewhat comparable to those of a hibernating bear, which I am certain has a great deal to do with my diet.   Today, I was determined to make better choices and recreate the habit of "food journaling". 

I've been giving a lot of thought to the goals that I have set for myself for the upcoming year and I have to say, I'm definitely nervous scared s*%$less.  I almost don't know where to start.  I do have a "training plan" of sorts, but looking at it after not running for over a month is rather intimidating.    I figured today I would just go out and do a quick 4K, see how it feels and go from there.  

So how did it feel, you ask?    It sucked.   A lot.   So much so that I only ended up doing 2 of the planned 4K.   My chest burned and my head was pounding which, in all fairness, is probably due more to the cold I am battling than the lack of exercise recently, but still.   It did feel good to get past my "fear" of lacing up my shoes though and I gave myself permission to quit after 2K.  I figure it's a start and every journey has to have one even if it's not pretty.  

Even though my ultimate goal for the year is the Island Girl Half Marathon in September, there is another rather large and daunting challenge I must face on the way - the Mississauga Marathon 10K race in May - which will be my focus for the first 4 months of the year.  Even though I have already completed an 8K race, I will be going back to basics to prepare for the 10K.   I do know that a good portion of the course is hilly, so I will need to add some hill work as well as some interval speed training, which will be new to me.   

I'm going to follow a plan that is similar to the one that I used to prepare for the 5K last year called "Bridge to 10K".   It is quite short, only 6 weeks, so I will use a program that I found on to take me to race day once I've completed the 6 week "Bridge" plan.   (I will also be following their "Half Marathon" training plan after the 10k is complete).  I'm going to spend the afternoon scheduling the runs, cross training sessions and yoga classes into my calendar so I have a clear picture of where I'm going for at least the next 4 months. 

I'm hoping that as my body gets re-accustomed to exercise and proper eating everything will start to fall back into place and the fear and doubt that have found their way into my mind will be remembered only in this blog post.

J :)