Thursday, July 28, 2011

Working Hard is Hard Work!

So I finally made it out to run with the West Toronto Pacers on Tuesday.  It's been at least 2 weeks since I've run with them as work has been completely insane.  We did one of our many 9+km routes at tempo pace.  Oh my god did I ever suffer at the beginning.   My legs felt like crap and my pace was slow.  It took me a while to actually get warmed up as well.  Once I did, I started to feel a bit better.  The route we ran was quite hilly as well.   Downhill on the way out and uphill on the way back.  Fun!  I found that once I warmed up, the uphills weren't that bad.  I actually managed to motor up them without too much bother.   Don't get me wrong, they were tough, I just seemed to be able to handle them a bit better than normal.   I'm wondering if that is down to the strength workout I've been doing.  I also noticed that I didn't feel too much lactic acid build up either.    I actually finished the run stronger than I started.  Hmmm....maybe there is something to all this strength training?!

I finished a hilly 9.75km run in 46:44 with an average heart rate of 165.  That put me at a 4:47/km avg.  The goal is to get down to 4:40's by the time I peak for Scotia (I need to maintain a 4:44 pace to run 1:40 but I'd like a bit of padding).   I've got 12 weeks to work on that.  It's going to be tough but if I'm consistent, I should get there.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Yesterday I ran what I think will be my last run this year along the Martin Goodman Trail.   I've been running that route for the last 7 years.  I know it like the back of my hand.  But the time has come for me to find new running grounds.

Yup, changes are a-comin'.  We're temporarily moving house while our wee little place gets turned into a moderately sized place.  It's going to be a full on tear down and rebuild.  So, we need to find another place to live.  Luckily for us, friends of ours have gone to England for 3 months and have given us their house.  Said house is the other end of town in the Mount Pleasant and Davisville neighbourhood.  I lived in that 'hood for a year during university and I loved it.  That was before I became a runner so I think I'll have an even greater appreciation for it now what with being able to run through Mt. Pleasant Cemetery and on to the Beltline Trail.  I'm excited to get out and explore that end of the city.  I know there is some actual trail that starts at Moore Park and goes right down into the Don Valley so I'll be able to incorporate some trail running into my routes which will be a nice change of pace.   And, I'll actually be faced with some hills which will be a nice bonus given that I run in the flatlands.

I will miss running by the lake, especially this time of the year.  It's always cooler by the water and I have to say I love being able to see the lake as I run.   The next time I run along that trail it will probably be snow covered.   Crazy.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Formulating A Plan: T-Minus 13 Weeks

The insanity of the last few weeks has dulled my sense of the passing of time.  The end of Le Tour has slapped me back to the reality that summer is half over.  Ok, half over is a bit of a stretch, but August is almost here.  There is already back to school stuff in the stores (very annoying when you're trying to find a new bathing suit)!    Fall is the farthest thing from my mind right now.  Although given that my A-race is only 13 weeks away, I should probably start focusing on my training plan.

I've gotten the loose frame work of my long runs plugged into my calendar.  It's going to be tough given the amount of racing I want to do in late August and mid September.   But, I'll make it work.  I'm sticking with the Runner's World plan that got me to my 1:41 finish at the Toronto Women's Half.  What I absolutely NEED to do is get to my run group during the week.  Those workouts will be the key to getting me faster.  It's been tough given the fact that work has been so busy.  The next couple of weeks look good work wise so I should be able to start August off on the right foot.

My strength training program has been excellent.  My legs feel good.  The true test will come when I start doing over distance work later on in my training.  I have managed to develop some decent upper body strength as well as core and back strength.  I gotta say, the weight program is challenging but I love it.  I'm not lifting terribly heavy but heavy enough that I'm a bit sore after.  I've also worked at increasing my weights every week.   I'm coming to the end of the first phase this week and I'm looking forward to starting the next one.  Granted I've missed a few Saturday workouts due to racing and moving but that's ok.  I'm going to re-visit this program in the off season and follow it properly.   I think it will be just what my body needs to get it ready to tangle with the 26.2 mile monster again.

Yes.  I said it.  There is a very good chance I may go down that road again next year.  Even though I said there was no way.    I've been thinking a lot about it and I think it would be quite poetic to try and get myself another B.Q (Boston Qualifier) 10 years from the first time I qualified.  So we shall see.  I'm not fully committed to that just yet.  We'll see how I fare with my racing for the rest of the year.  In the meantime,  I need to get my butt off the couch and out the door.   I haven't run all week.  I'm not going to get any faster if I don't get out and do the work.

Happy Trails!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Trees, Roots & Rocks....Oh My!

Yesterday was my first "off road experience" in over 10 years and it did not disappoint.  I ran the "sport" course at the 5 Peaks Rattlesnake Point race.  I knew it was the most technical of their races so I was a bit concerned.   It was only 4.5km and I knew it started in an open field before it hit the tough stuff so I figured I'd be "safe" for long enough to get into a bit of a rhythm.

Because someone had gone around the night before and removed a bunch of the course markers, both the sport and enduro races started half an hour late and they started together.  The enduro was supposed to start 5 minutes before the sport race.  No biggie, there was Kicking Horse coffee and plenty of samples from Clif Bar to enjoy.  I saw a lot of other Team Running Free athletes and I ran into a couple of other friends that were doing the enduro course.   We then found our friend John who was also doing the sport course so we hung out in the shade until about 15 minutes before the race started.  I had started to get antsy and wanted to got over to the start line.   We had been told to self seed ourselves and that we'd be going off in waves.   I seeded myself in the second wave with the rest of the folks that could run a 5km in under 23 minutes and waited in the baking hot sun.

The gun went off and we took off across the field.  Holy smokes it was hot.  The field wasn't too bad, not too many divots or pot holes.   I took off like a shot.  No easing into it, I just ran.  Hard.  My heart rate was pinned right away.   My breathing was ragged.   The heat wasn't helping either.  We hit the gravel trail and made our way into the shade which offered some relief.  The trail then became dirt and started to climb a bit.  It narrowed a bit more but I was still able to pass some people.  I noticed the 1km mark and then the trail started to get really rough.  It narrowed even more and started to be peppered with tree roots and chunks of limestone.  I had to concentrate on my footing and my stride.  My mantra became Run like a Ninja, Be Light on Your Feet.  So ran like a Ninja I did.  Until I hit a hill.  It wasn't actually a hill it was more like a rocky, root covered wall.  I tried to run up it but it became more like a scramble that was reduced to a walk as my heart was in my throat.  It was ugly.
After this nasty climb, the ground seemed to level out a bit more.  I had let a couple of guys pass me on the really technical parts as I really slowed down.  There was even some walking.  But once the ground leveled out, it was game on again.  I started to pick up the pace and pick people off.  A younger girl had passed me earlier and I caught her just before we came back out into the open field.  Once I hit the field, all bets were off.  I knew I was almost home free so I was going to push for all I was worth.  I caught another guy as I rounded the bend to the finish line.   I was hurting.  Big Time.  But I was almost done.  I didn't even see the finishing clock but I looked down at my watch and saw 21:49.  Sweet!
I wandered off to get some food and started looking around.  I didn't see a whole lot of women.   Gary went to check the results and told me I was second in my age group and second place woman overall.   But the stats were not all in yet so we waited around to see if I'd get knocked down a few spots.  Either way, I had at least placed in my age group.   The awards ceremony started and they called the overall women winners.  I got bumped down to 3rd.  But STILL.  3rd place woman overall??  I'll take it.

It was definitely an eye opener for me.  I run differently on the trail but I can still run fast.   It was tough but I really enjoyed it.  The focus and concentration is intense.  You have to be aware of your surroundings at all times.  I was forced to be light on my feet.  Just like a ninja.  A stealthy running ninja.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Clip Clop Through the Forest...

So I've finally taken the plunge and signed up for my first ever trail race.  Of course I opted to sign up for the most technical one this race series offers.  Only because I wanted to do a race this month.   I've heard many great things about this race series as well as this particular race.  I've got a few friends that are doing it as well so it should be a good time.

I have to admit, I'm a bit nervous.  I know it's only 5km but it's out of my pavement comfort zone.  I know what road racing is all about.  I generally know where to seed myself and I know there's always room to pass folks.  But this trail racing...well it's a whole other animal.    Do I seed myself mid-pack and risk getting stuck behind a slower runner?  Or do I opt to move closer to the front and then risk holding up other runners?  I know what my abilities are on pavement but on a trail, I have no idea.  I fully expect to be slower just because of the nature of the event.  But, I think about my tri in Woodstock and that was all off road.  Gravel paths and grass and I still managed to pull off 4:23km's.  Granted there wasn't much in the way of any hills either.  So who knows.   The course is described as "a wide variety of groomed screenings where athletes can pass, spread out and warm up to some intense single track, rocky limestone, boardwalk through a swampy section (!), grassy section and a burning vertical back up the escarpment before the final stretch toward the finish line."

That sounds like a LOT to fit in to 5 km.

I guess I'll find out what's it's all about on Saturday.  Who knows, maybe I'll have found a new passion at the end of the day.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Habit Reform-ation and Food Love.

Well, I managed to survive my crazy week last week with my sanity intact.  My waistline, however, was a different story.  I started off with the best intentions, even going so far as to pack healthy choices to take with me on location.  But when your shoot goes longer than you anticipated and you're working with a bunch of hungry teenagers. it is!  That seemed to be the theme of the week.  I wasn't eating at my "regularly scheduled" intervals (usually every 2.5-3 hours) and what I was eating was generally far from healthy.  When I got back to the gym on Monday and weighed myself, those poor eating habits manifested themselves in the number on the scale and in the way I felt.
My healthier version of a Martha Stewart turkey burger

I didn't panic.  I didn't freak out.  Weight is just a number and it can fluctuate.  It's not the be all and end all.  The big deal is getting back to my "good" habits.  When you're stressed and super busy it's so easy to fall back into old patterns and habits.  So this week I have focused on habit reformation.  That meant a re-visit to the PN binder, a big trip to the grocery store and a whole lot of cooking.

Grocery shopping is like a fresh start for your fridge.  A clean slate so to speak.  The opportunity to start again and perhaps try something different.  In a way, I find it kind of therapeutic.  A weird sort of "retail therapy" that I look forward to every week.  Crazy I know.  But what can I say, I love food.  I get excited about going to gourmet stores and farmers markets.  Good times in my books.

Grilled salmon with BBQ sauce & grilled zucchini with grape tomatoes & feta
I've been getting a bit more improvisational with my cooking as late as well, especially since I'm cooking a lot more simply.   I had some ground turkey in the fridge that was originally destined for another version of turkey burgers but I decided burgers would be too much work so I opted to make a "hash" for lack of a better description.  I adapted a recipe from Gourmet Nutrition Volume one for Thai Ground Beef.  I have to say for something that I just threw together, it's pretty darn tasty!

I liked it so much I thought I'd share!

Thai Ground Turkey

1 lb of ground turkey
1 tsp of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 of small onion, diced
1 cup of steamed broccoli
1/2 bag of coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage + a few shredded carrots)
1 sliced carrot (since there isn't really much in the coleslaw mix)
1/2 red pepper diced
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3 tbsp of President's Choice Light Peanut Sauce
1 tbsp of soy sauce
1 small handful of chopped cilantro if desired.

Thai Ground Turkey

Saute garlic & onions in olive oil. Add ground turkey and cook through. Add ground ginger and stir. Add rest of veggies and stir over medium heat until softened. Add soy sauce & peanut sauce and mix thoroughly. Garnish with chopped cilantro. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fun on 2 wheels

Photo of my trusty steed by Sue Cadman (this is actually her bike too!)
For most Canadians the start of summer comes with the May 2-4 weekend.  For me, it comes with the start of The Tour.  I know, I know, we've "officially" been in the summer season for about a week and a half by the time the Tour starts.    There is something about the 3 week long suffer fest that screams SUMMER'S HERE to me.  Maybe it's the brightly coloured jerseys.  Maybe it's seeing the beautiful European countryside.  Maybe it's just the fact that they're cycling.  Cycling is one of the quintessentially summertime activities in my books.  Right up there with running through sprinklers, family BBQ's and road trips.   Granted I ride year round, but the majority of the year I'm on the trainer in the basement.  That's not really cycling, that's the running equivalent of a treadmill.   I'm not one of those die hards that will ride in the cold.  Unless of course I'm training for an Ironman.  As soon as the weather gets warmer (i.e I don't need a jacket) I'll venture outside.  

This past Saturday was my first real training ride outside the city in almost 3 years.  We drove up to Lake Wilcox in Richmond Hill and did a very easy ride through the country side.  It wasn't the nicest day out (it was overcast) but it was warm.   I watched the sun try to poke through the clouds with no avail.   Oh well.  At least I wasn't going to get burnt.   I had done a hard-ish hour long run in the heat the day before so I wasn't sure what my legs would be capable of.  Our plan was to ride for 2 hours.   We were in easy terrain.   There were a couple of climbs, but nothing too tough.  I felt really good.  I made sure I brought some food (a sample sized cliff bar and a couple of gels) as well as fluids.   We motored along at a very easy pace.  My heart rate never got too high.  The whole point of getting out on my bike was to get comfortable on it again.  If I want to get faster, I need to get riding.  So this was the first step.  An hour and 15 minutes into the ride, my legs were sore.  And we had a grinder of climb to go up on the way back.    Awesome.

When the grinder started, I tucked in behind our friend John for a bit but I felt like I could go faster so when I had the opportunity to pass him I did.   Then the hurt started.  I had no one blocking the wind, and I was going uphill.  Wow.  I forgot how much cycling can hurt.   I don't think the run the day before helped any either.   But I kept turning the pedals.  Wishing I was off the bike.  Wishing I was sitting down.  Wishing I was anywhere but there.  As I crested the top of the hill and made my way towards the parking lot, the sun finally managed to come out to play.   The warmth on my arms and the breeze in my face erased the pain from a few minutes earlier.  As I pulled into the parking lot, I wondered where my 2 wheels would take me next weekend.