Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thinking Out Loud #2

It's Thursday already!  One more day till the weekend and, it's Thinking Out Loud Thursday!  Yay.  Once again I'm linking up with Amanda at Running with Spoons.  Head on over there to get in on the randomness. 

1.  Due to the Polar Vortex, I took both of my runs inside this week.  Treadmill time = mind wandering time.  So of course I wondered, why do the treadmills at my gym only let you run for an hour?  Seriously, what kind of nonsense is that?  If anyone knows why, please fill me in.  Other than the fact that my gym is too cheap to buy GOOD treadmills, ha ha. 

2.  Kristen, one of my readers wanted to know what my "go to" food was--what do I crave when I'm training.  Hers was burgers and I'd have to say the same, without question.  I'm sure those of you that know me well, aren't terribly surprised.  Mine are usually chased by a tasty craft beer.  Although now that I'm in full on training mode, my #beerstagrams aren't happening as much.   I decided to rectify that on Friday.  We headed to my favourite burger joint (Woody's) and I had my usual:  a bison burger with smoked gouda, smoked ketchup, guacamole, pickles, tomatoes, garlic mayo and lettuce.  Truly a thing of beauty.  What you don't see is the massive side of fries:  half sweet potato half regular fries.  What's a burger without fries?  Incomplete, that's what!  Oh and I chased it with an Oast House Barn Raiser in case you were wondering.  Of course I have a pic of that too.

3.  I have become addicted to steel cut oats.  They are almost as magical for me as pancakes.  I think it's all the bike riding I'm doing.  My fave combos have been banana & coconut and pumpkin with walnuts & maple syrup.

4.  G has been away all week and I'm not embarrassed to say that I've been in bed by 9:30 pm or earlier.  What good is a recovery week if I don't get extra sleep??

5.  My parents and cousin have been killing me all week with pictures from Barbados.  I love them and hate them all at the same time.

6.  How's this for random?

Yes, that is a GIANT sticker of Nicholas Cage's face on the side of a building.  I saw that on my run last weekend and couldn't stop laughing.  I should have gotten someone to take of pic of me with it.

7.  I'm finally going to get these installed on my bike tomorrow.  These are my Garmin Vector pedals (aka power meter).  One more thing for me to analyze on Garmin Connect.  The data geek in me is doing back flips right now.  My Sunday ride can't come soon enough!

 8.  I can't get enough of this video.  I know it's old - I saw for the first time a couple of years ago but one of my facebook friends shared it again yesterday and I laughed so hard I cried.  So good my face hurts.

Ok your turn!  Tell me something random!!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Racing Weight Cookbook - Review!

As an endurance athlete, our nutritional requirements are somewhat different from other folks.   This is something I'm still learning 15+ years into my endurance sports lifestyle.  One thing I've definitely learned over the last few years is that what you put in to your body directly affects what you get out of it.  Knowing that, I try to eat as cleanly as possible which usually means I'm cooking something or other for dinner, which also means I need to plan ahead.  Sometimes life doesn't always work out that way.  Things come up.  You end up getting really busy at work and what limited time you have left in your day you devote to squeezing your workout in.  With no plan, you usually end up making less than ideal choices food wise.  Case in point:  last Thursday night, I had a 70 minute trainer ride and I got home from work a little later than normal so I got on the bike a little later than I would have liked.  G came downstairs when I was halfway through my ride and asked what we were doing for dinner.  I didn't even want to think about cooking something so I told him to order something.  I was SO HUNGRY that day that I ended up ordering sweet potato fries with my 1/4 chicken dinner + a salad.  And, I ate it ALL.  Did I need the fries?  Probably not.   But hunger led me to make a less than ideal choice.   But it doesn't have to be that way.  Yes, there are some days that I just want to have Swiss Chalet and french fries so I'm going to have them.  But it doesn't have to be a default.

Enter the lovely Georgie Fear.  I have never actually met Georgie but I have had the pleasure of knowing her virtually for almost 3 years (oh the wonder of the interwebz!).  I first "met" her in an online forum and have been gobbling up her recipes and nutritional knowledge ever since.  Her recipes are some of my go to favourites because they are simple, easy to prepare and they taste great.  When I heard that she was teaming up with Matt Fitzgerald to create the Racing Weight Cookbook, I was so excited.   Now, I'm going to come clean, I hadn't read Racing Weight before I got the cookbook but that is about to change. 

The first thing that struck me with this book was the way it was organized.  Not everyone has the desire or aptitude to spend hours in the kitchen making things and Matt & Georgie realize this so they've organized the recipes into sections for 1) The Athlete Who Doesn't Cook 2) The Athlete with Some Cooking Experience and 3) The Athlete Who Loves to Cook.  Each one of these sections is then broken down into breakfast, lunch & dinner.  The easy recipes are as simple as a smoothie or how to cook eggs 3 different ways.  The more complicated recipes are still quite simple in my opinion and I'd say that I fall into category three (on most days, ha ha).  

You will also find a code by the recipe that will tell you if it's a high protein (HP) recipe, a high carb (HC) recipe a vegetarian (V) recipe or a recovery (R) recipe.  This helps you figure out what you should eat in order to fuel your workouts and recovery.  The recipes also give you a Diet Quality Score (DQS).  DQS is the first step in the Racing Weight Program.  The program is based on 6 guidelines:

1.  Improve your diet quality
2.  Manage your appetite (I have a hard time with this!)
3.  Balance your energy sources
4.  Monitor yourself (again something I struggle with)
5.  Time your nutrition
6.  Train for racing weight  

Improving one's diet quality is probably one of the biggest factors in getting leaner and performing better.  I am a walking, talking testament to that fact.  For years I weighed anywhere between 130-135lbs.  At 5ft 5in, that's not out of the ordinary.  Even while training for both my Ironman races, I never really got much below 130lbs.  I'm going to chalk that up to two things:  1) the way I ate and 2) the way I trained at that point in time.  Because I was so busy training I relied on a lot of pre-packaged foods.  Frozen lasagna's, frozen pizzas etc.  Things that I could throw in the oven and cook while G and I were doing our evening workout.  Once I stopped relying on those things and actually cooking REAL food, the weight started to come off and stay off (imagine that!).   I'm now between 120 - 125lbs and my race performances have improved in leaps and bounds, despite getting older.

I've been cooking from this book on a regular basis since I got it a few weeks ago and I haven't been disappointed with anything I've made.  There are a few recipes in here that I was already familiar with as I have one of Georgie's other cookbooks (Fuel Up, which I also highly recommend).   Those of you that follow me on instagram know how much I love my pancakes due to the sheer amount of pictures I post of them.  Each one of my pancake recipes starts with Georgie's pancake recipe which was included in the Racing Weight cookbook.  They're delicious as is but also easily adaptable which I love.
Gingerbread pancakes - adapted from Georgie's recipe!
While they encourage you to cook as much as possible, there are also various recipe "hacks" in here that add more nutritional value to pre-packaged food.  One I really enjoyed was the Tomato Florentine soup.  It took no time at all and it was absolutely delicious.  They key with these is to find quality pre-packaged foods.  Another example they give is the 5 Minute Burrito using an Amy's bean and cheese burrito.  Definitely something I could get behind on a day where I am pressed for time and just want something quick, easy and healthy.

Tomato Florentine Soup
I'm loving this book so much it hasn't left my kitchen counter since I got it.  I think it's a very user friendly cookbook geared towards all levels of cooks.  I also feel that it's a solid resource to help athletes get their diet and nutritional goals on track.  Do you NEED to have the Racing Weight book to reap all the benefits...perhaps.  I do think that by following Matt's guidelines in this book that you will successfully be able to get leaner and perform better.  It's definitely a book that is going to stay in my regular rotation.

Disclaimer:  I approached Georgie and asked her for a copy to review.  All opinions are my own. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

It Was A Big 'Un: #Mingsanity Week 3

If I could be horizontal right now I would be.  This was my first "high volume" week and holy heck, am I ever toast.  Thankfully I have a "low volume" (i.e recovery) week this week because this old bod sure needs it.  It didn't help that Mother Nature refused to cooperate weather wise and pummeled us with cold temps and more freaking snow.  I've really had enough of this Polar Vortex B.S.  To top it off, I keep getting emails and pictures from my parents who are visiting my cousin in Barbados, telling me about what a wonderful time they're having.  Rub it in why don't you.

The parental units getting down to some steel drum tunes

My mom,  #beerstagramming in Barbados

Ok, that's my daily kvetch about the weather.  On to the fun part.  Once again I'm linking up with Kat and Krysten and their weekly workout round up.  This is how my high volume week went down.

Monday:  2600m swim
Tuesday:  80 minute bike (48.7km), 30 minute weights, 11km run with 3.5km at tempo pace in the FREEZING cold.  Don't think I'll do that again.
Wednesday:  2150m swim
Thursday:   9.25km run, again outside in the freezing cold, 30 minute weights, 70 minute bike ride (35.8km).
Friday:  OFF
Saturday:  25km run in the snow and wind.  Holy moly did this ever do a number on my body.  So much so that I skipped my gym workout so I could lie around on the couch.  I had planned to go to hot yoga but that didn't happen either.  
Sunday: 2600m swim, 90 minute bike (55.49km), weight workout that I skipped on Saturday.

My shoes after Saturday's slog fest

Totals for the week:

Swim:  7350m
Bike:  139.99km (should just rode for 10 more seconds ha ha)
Run:  44.96km

Total hours including strength training:  12h 20 min.  That's almost a part time job. 

This week looks much more "manageable."  No rides longer than 1 hour, which is nice.  My long run is only 17k too....with 10 of it at 4:15km pace.  Ha ha ha.  So much for easy.

With this reduced volume I should be able to at least get to a hot yoga class or a massage..or maybe even both.   And maybe even get 8 hours of sleep a night...wouldn't THAT be nice.

How was your weekend?   Who else is sick of this Polar Vortex nonsense?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thinking Out Loud

I've been throughly enjoying Christina's Thinking Out Loud Thursday posts so I decided to join in the fun and link up with Amanda at Running with Spoons because sometimes this brain of mine can't always formulate full thoughts.  Especially towards the end of the week.

1.  Since I've started #Mingsanity 70.3, I think about food almost constantly.  Especially on my double days.  I'm not going to lie, there are days where I've been tempted to inhale a Double Down because I'm so hungry.  I clearly need to figure out how to eat on these days so I don't inhale anything and everything.

2.  There have been some fun "tests" floating around on Facebook thanks to Buzzfeed.  I took a few of them:  Apparently I'm supposed to be living in Portland.   If I was a Harry Potter character this is who I'd be:

Ironically, not too far off, ha ha.

If I was a Muppet, this is who I'd be:

Hilarious.  Clearly I've had a bit too much time on my hands as of late.

3.  I have become obsessed with this:

I bought this a couple of years ago and re-discovered it in my cupboard a few weeks ago. Conveniently just before it expired.   It makes THE BEST hot chocolate.  It's sugar free so you can add as much or as little sweetener as you like.  Mix it up with some cinnamon and french vanilla flavoured stevia, add some almond milk and you have heaven in a glass.  Sadly, I just ran out of it this week and, I can't remember for the LIFE of me, where I bought it from.   I thought it was Loblaws but I've checked two and neither one of them had it.  Looks like I'm going to have to resort to ordering it from Shipping costs almost as much as the product itself so I think I'm going to be buying a few.  Just as well, this winter definitely calls for daily hot chocolate!

4.  I just ordered a pair of these and they can't come soon enough.  There is more snow in the forecast for this weekend and my current pair of Wave Riders are a disgusting mess.  I need something with a bit more traction and a little less "airy".  I'm hoping these fit the bill.

5.  Phrase I'm tired of hearing:  Polar Vortex.  I wish it would go away. I also wish the cold would go away.  Only 2.5 more months of this.  I'm really kicking myself for not taking a trip somewhere hot this year so much so that I might actually take a week of unpaid vacation just to go lie on a beach.  Cray cray.

6.  Today I'm featured on Crazy Running Girl's blog in her Faces of Fitness profile!  Go check it out and send her some love.  It's a fun column and a great way to find more blogs to read (just in case you were looking for more!)

7.  Your turn!  Tell me something random!!

Monday, January 20, 2014

#Mingsanity: Week Two Recap

Well folks week two of my 70.3 training is in the books and I gotta say, I'm starting to feel a wee bit tired.  That should make this next "high volume" week of mine interesting to say the least.  I'm guessing by the time Wednesday rolls around, I'll be lucky if I can stay up past 9:00 pm.  Another thing I have noticed as of late, especially on my "double days" (run /bike) is that I want to eat everything in sight.  I feel like a bottomless pit.  I clearly need to re-evaluate my food intake on those days.  I think there needs to be some more fat or more carbs or perhaps both, I don't know.  Definitely something I need to work on over the next few months.

On to the fun the week broke down!  I'm linking up once again with Katrina Elle so wander on over to her blog and check in on everyone else!

Monday:  Swim 2150m
Tuesday: a.m. 70 minute ride + 30 minute body weight workout p.m. 8.69km run.  Was supposed to be tempo but it was too icy out to really do much.  So frustrating.
Wednesday:  Swim 2200
Thursday:  a.m.12.62km run with 5x1200m repeats (oh boy) + 30 minute weight workout p.m. 70 minute ride
Friday:  OFF
Saturday:  22.63km run with 3x3km at 4:10/km pace.  Lawdy lawdy this was SO HARD.
Sunday:  2600m swim, followed by a 80 minute bike followed by a weight workout.  Followed by eating everything in the fridge.  Luckily I had my coffee on the bike. 

Totals for the week:

Swim:  6950m
Bike:  128.3km
Run: 43.95km

For a total of 10h 46 minutes of workouts.  No wonder I went to bed at 9:00 pm last night.

I was SO happy to be able to get outside to run on Saturday.  I didn't think I could face another long run on a treadmill.  It turned out to be a perfect day for a run.  I had a very tough route / workout scheduled and I was going to dedicate every km of it to Meg Menzies  the runner that was killed by a drunk driver last Monday while out for her morning run.

She was a mom to 3 kids, married to a police officer in Richmond, VA and was training for Boston.  Her story broke my heart as it did so many other runners I'm sure.  It all hits a little too close to home.  She was doing everything right - she was running facing traffic and she was on the shoulder.  You'd think she'd be safe.  Sometimes we get so caught up in life we forget how precious it really is.  I thought about that a lot when I was out.  People that we take for granted.  All the little moments that we take for granted.  Like this one.  G always teases me for taking pictures when I'm out on my run but I'm a visual person so when I go back and look through these pics, I'll remember this day. 

How was your weekend?  Did you get out and run for Meg?

Friday, January 17, 2014

It's All Coming Together

I'm so excited I can barely contain myself.


WE BOOKED OUR FLIGHTS!  Yes, I know, the race is just under 6 months away but I'm sure it will be here before I know it.  But it gets better....Not only have we booked our flights, we've booked our accommodation in Luxembourg as well.  We fly out late on June 15th and arrive in Paris midday on the 16th.  We then have a 3 hour drive to Luxembourg.  Not sure how I feel about that but, we were going to have to drive there regardless of where we flew into.  Frankfurt was closer but the flights and departure dates were better / cheaper flying into Paris so that's what we did. 

We've rented an awesome apartment in Luxembourg City for the week.  We are roughly 17km from the start line of the race (of course G has this all figured out).  So it looks like we'll be driving and hopefully finding parking somewhere nearby since bike check in is the day before.  We're staying in Luxembourg until the 23rd and then we hit the road to go to Italy.   I CANNOT WAIT.  It's roughly a 9 hour drive to Italy from Luxembourg so we're splitting it up.  We're going to stop in the German town of Fussen.  G decided it would be an interesting place to stop because apparently it is home to the castle that was the inspiration behind Sleeping Beauty's castle.

Castle Neuschwanstein - source
  Who knew?

Anyway, this is our crazy hotel room.  Kinda makes my head spin.

I do know one thing for sure.  We WILL be drinking beer and eating pretzels when we get there. And maybe even some schnitzel.  I'm definitely bringing my stretchy pants.

From here, we'll be heading to Bassano del Grappa for a week.   A friend of ours has made arrangements with her parents to rent us their apartment for a very nice price.  In the words of The Godfather, they made us an offer we couldn't refuse, ha ha.  Since I've never been to Italy and I've always wanted to go, we were all over this.   It will be a week of walking, eating, maybe bike riding and definitely wine drinking.  Oh and probably some grappa tasting as well since this is where it was first made.  Did I mention that I cannot wait?

On our way back, we're going to go through France.  This part of the trip hasn't been totally finalized yet but we're thinking we may stay in Grenoble or Bourg d'Oisans for a few days because we want to try to ride up Alp d'Huez.  You can do a timed ride up it.  They give you a timing chip that you take to the top and then they give you a certificate afterwards with your time on it.  Good thing it only times the climb because I think it would probably take me 3x as long to get down in than it would to climb it.  I am freaking PETRIFIED of descending mountains.  I will never forget the decent down the Blue Ridge Parkway in South Carolina.  I white knuckled it the entire time and I think my bike was covered in brake dust by the time I actually finished.  Not to mention my legs were shaking the entire way down.  Half the crew I was with had the time to stop for a sandwich, that's how slow I was.  But, I'm always up for a challenge so I guess that will be it.

After this, we'll head to Paris and spend one night and part of a day there before we come back home.   I think this will be an incredible way to celebrate 10 years of marriage and it will definitely be a memorable trip.

Have you got any big trips planned this year?  

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My #OneChange for 2014: Taming the Weekend Splurger with Vega One

Disclaimer:  As a Sweat Pink Ambassador, I was given the opportunity to review this product through Fit Approach in exchange for an honest review.  

I'll be the first to admit it, I function much better when I have some semblance of structure or routine in my life.   As stressful as my 9-5 (ish) job can be, it provides the structure that I base the rest of my life around.  It kind of keeps me sane and focused.  I eat well, I (usually) get enough rest and I generally don't over indulge in anything.  Weekends however, are a different story.   With the addition of an increase in training time and volume and the absence of my normal routine, weekends sometimes see me overindulging in less than ideal things due to my lack of routine.  Sometimes it's just easier to eat half a box of crackers post workout instead of actually making something healthy.  Clearly, easier is not always better.

It's time to stop the insanity.  Especially given my goals this year.  Good things need to be going into this body!

It's time for me to say goodbye to the Weekend Splurger.  Ok, well maybe goodbye is a little drastic but she really needs to be tamed.  So my #OneChange for 2014 will be to get a better handle on my weekend nutrition, especially when I'm really busy, which is what tends to happen on weekends.  It doesn't have to be that way though, not with a product like Vega One.  One serving of Vega One gets you 50% of your daily requirement of vitamins and minerals, 15g of protein, 6g of fiber as well as 1.5g of omega-3's, plus a host of other antioxidants, probiotics and greens.  In addition, there are no added sugars, artificial flavours or colours!  YAY!

Check out this nutrient profile!

I'm a big consumer of protein powder and I normally use whey protein simply because I like the taste and texture of it better than other vegan protein powders.  That is until I tried this.  The crew at Vega have managed to make a vegan protein powder that rivals whey in terms of taste and "mixability".  The bonus with Vega One is that you get way more nutritional bang for your buck.  If it can pass my "naked taste test" then it's a keeper.   Before you start thinking I'm some kind of weirdo, let me clarify what I mean by naked taste test, ha ha.  Post workout, I generally want something quick and easy so I will usually mix a scoop of protein power with a cup or two of plain unsweetened almond milk or water in a shaker cup and chug that back.  No additional ingredients, nothing.  You really get a sense of the taste of a product when you do that and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the Vega One French Vanilla.  I quite enjoyed it "naked"! 

I also used it in a few meal replacement smoothies.  The versatility of this product is endless.  Vanilla goes with pretty much everything so I thought I'd get a little adventurous.  Here are two of my favourites.

 Get Yo' Greens in Tropical Smoothie

1/4 cup silken tofu OR 1/2 an avocado - they give the same creamy texture and that's why I put them in my smoothies.
1 very large handful of spinach
1 kiwi (peeled)
1/3 cup diced pineapple
1/4 cup large flake coconut
1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
1 scoop Vega One French Vanilla

Toss everything in a blender and whizz until smooth.  Enjoy!

The B&BT Pre-Workout Endurance Boost Smoothie

1/4 cup silken tofu (again this is in here purely for texture)
1/2 a steamed beet, sliced
1/2-3/4 cup of berries (I used a blueberry strawberry combo)
1-1.5 cups of unsweetened almond milk
1 scoop of Vega One French Vanilla

Put everything in a blender and blend until smooth.  I used this to power me through a 20km treadmill run on the weekend.  Worked like a charm.

Since I've been using Vega One, my Weekend Splurger has been a lot more well behaved.  Sure, I will indulge every so often but when I know that a healthier option is just a scoop away, it makes it much less tempting. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

#Mingsanity: Week One Recap

Happy Monday Folks!

I made it through my first week of 70.3 training, a.k.a "Mingsanity" relatively unscathed, other than the cold I had Tuesday / Wednesday which caused me to miss two workouts.  This in turn, altered my schedule for the rest of the week.  Even with this, I still managed almost 10 hours of workouts.  Good Lord.   The craziest part of this is that BOTH of my runs this week were done on the treadmill, including my 20km long run.  I can honestly say I don't think I ever want to do that again.  I was really hoping that the mild temps that rolled in on Friday would have melted everything on the ground by Saturday morning.  In some areas it was just wet but for the most part the roads around my neighbourhood were a slushy, icy mess.  When I saw the temps for the weekend I was so excited because I thought I'd finally be able to run outside again.  I even got up early so I was out on the road earlier than normal.  I made it exactly 350m before I opted to turn around due to the incredibly dicey footing.   Foiled once again by Mother Nature, the nasty wench.

I am really really hoping that today's mild temperatures finally get rid of the remainder of the crap on the roads because I don't think I can face another treadmill run.  I may actually resort to doing this to one of my older pairs of Mizunos just to get me through the next little while.  

I guess that's enough kvetching about the weather.  I *do* live in Canada so I'm going to have to learn to suck it up I guess.

Now, on to the FUN! I'm going to be linking up with Kat over at Katrina Elle for her Weekly Workouts Round Up!   Let's see how my first week of 70.3 training went down.

Monday:  2850m swim
Tuesday:  1 hour bike (a.m.)
Wednesday:  Sick
Thursday:  10km treadmill run + weights in a.m.  1 hour bike in p.m.
Friday:  1500m swim
Saturday:  20km treadmill run with 2x3km @ 4:10 pace (only managed 1x3km on the 'mill), weights (incl box jumps - holy OUCH) + 20 min swim
Sunday:  2800m swim, 80 minute bike with 3x20 min @ 145w

Normally I take Fridays off but because I was sick on Wednesday, I opted to go and do a short swim.  I'm thinking I probably should have just taken the day off because that now means I've got 8 straight days of workouts instead of 6.  We'll see how this old body of mine handles it.

I have to admit, I'm really loving the bike right now.  I think I am finally dialed in fit wise.  I can crank out almost 40kph on flats without too much effort so that's a good sign.  Now I just need to get used to my saddle.  I think riding with this girl on Sundays also makes it way more enjoyable.  It's so nice to have some company on the longer rides!  Kiki is also training for a 70.3 at the beginning of June so we're kind of on the same schedule. 

Obligatory Sunday Ride Selfie!

Anyone else dealing with ice / crappy weather?  If so did you brave it and go out or did you opt for the treadmill?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Recipe Friday and a Giveaway Winner!

I'm finally feeling like myself again, which means I'm back to work and working out!  YAY!  I was starting to go a bit stir crazy.  Yesterday I hit the gym for an easy run on the 'mill + some body weight work as per coach Ming (and holy smokes was that hard!).   Then I did my 1 hour ride when I got home.  He originally suggested I do an easy spin but I actually missed the pool so I asked if I could swim instead and he said that was ok.   I didn't want to wait until Sunday to get another swim in.  It's always painful to get back in the pool after missing a few days so I figured the less time away, the better.  Today's swim wasn't great but at least I got something done so Sunday should suck less. 

Today I'm linking up with Kierston at Candy Fit for #RecipeFriday.  Those of you that follow me on instagram would have seen my black bean & quinoa burger shots from earlier in the week...well guess what folks?  I'm sharing the recipe.  They turned out quite well, other than they were a bit too crumbly for my tastes.  I might omit the ground flax seed next time I make them.  These are not vegan as I used an egg as a binder but that's an easy fix with an egg substitute.

But first things first.  Before I post the recipe, I've got a winner for the giveaway!

Congrats to Colleen @30minutes4me - you & a friend are headed to the Passport for Change event on Sunday!  Send me an email (phaedrakennedy at sympatico dot ca) with your contact info and I'll pass it along to the folks at Tonic.  They'll be in touch with you about how to claim your prize.

Ok on to the recipe!

Black Bean & Quinoa Burgers

1 - 19 oz can of black beans + 1 cup from another can both rinsed and drained
3/4 cup of cooked quinoa
1 TBSP of ground flax  - optional
1 tsp of ground cumin
1-2 tsp of smoked paprika (depending on how smoky you like 'em - I used 2)
1/4 tsp of onion powder
1/8 of tsp of garlic powder
1/8 of a tsp of Franks Red Hot
1 egg
olive oil

Combine the can of beans with the quinoa, spices and egg in a food processor and puree until fairly smooth.  It's ok if the beans aren't totally mashed up. 
Transfer contents to a bowl and add the remaining beans + flax seed and mix well.  I mashed up the beans a bit more with a fork.
Heat some olive oil a frying pan over medium heat .  Form into 4 large patties.  Place in frying pan and cook for approx 8-10 minutes until golden brown.  Flip gently with a spatula and do the same for the other side. 

These actually freeze fairly well too so I wrapped them up individually and put them in the freezer.  I will top mine with avocado, cheese and sometimes even salsa.  Delicious. 

Tomorrow is supposed to be 9 degrees and rainy.  I can't believe I'm actually excited about the rain!  I'm really hoping it will wash away most of this snow.  I'm supposed to run 23km tomorrow and I suspect it's going to be a nasty slushy mess.  But hopefully it will clear the roads of all the ice and snow and we'll have some good running surfaces once again.  I'm so done with all this white nonsense!  Just give me clear roads and sunshine, PLEASE!

What are your plans for the weekend? 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sick Day (s) and A Passport for Change Giveaway!

So here I am, week one of my 70.3 training and guess what?  I'm sick.  Go figure.  I knew I was fighting something on Monday but I didn't feel bad.  I was just sneezing and stuffed up.  No aches, pain, fever or chills, nothing.  I went to bed early hoping I'd feel better Tuesday morning.  I did.  Sort of.  So I hopped on my bike and did my 1 hour ride.  I felt strong, my heart rate wasn't high (usually an indication for me that something is off) and I had plenty of energy.  Sure I was still sneezing and stuffed up but I felt ok otherwise.  That changed around 2:00 in the afternoon yesterday.  I thought some Neo Citran and another good night's sleep would help but I feel worse today than I have the last two days.  Booo.  I missed my run & weight workout yesterday and I missed my swim this morning.  Double boo.  Coach said I could pick up with easy effort stuff tomorrow if I feel better.  Fingers crossed!!

On to the FUN part of today's post!  I have a giveaway happening!  I am a little bummed that I can't attend this event but now that I know about it, I'll watch for next years.   Tonic Magazine has put together what sounds like a really interesting event. 

Disclaimer:  I was approached by Tonic Magazine to attend this show but due to a previous engagement, I am unable to attend.  So, the amazing folks at Tonic have provided me with not ONE but TWO VISA passes (a $90 value) to The Passport For Change Event that is happening this Sunday (Jan 12th) at Artscape at Wychwood Barns in Toronto.

Exactly what is Passport for Change?  It is a one day self-directed and personalized event, that combines seminars, social media support and elements of “speed-dating” into a one-of-a-kind, never-before-seen consumer experience where we will provide people who are looking for change with the tools they’ll need to fulfill their resolution goals for the coming year.  Unlike other consumer shows where you may wander around from booth to booth somewhat aimlessly, this is an event that you can completely tailor to yourself and your needs.  On the day of the show you can have as many as 8 six minute, one-on-one “Speed Meetings” as you’d like to schedule with the experts you think can help you achieve your health, fitness and wellness goals for the coming year.  If you've always wanted to talk to a Life Coach, now's your chance.  Or perhaps you were interested in speaking with a holistic nutritionist about your diet.  Here's your opportunity!  There will also be 20 minute "open" talks on a variety of health and wellness issues that you can sit in on in between your speed meetings.  Of course there will also be a wide array of vendors, carrying everything from supplements to food (Neal Brothers & Rise Kombucha are just a couple) as well as other health and wellness related items and services.  

Some of the guest speakers include Kathleen Trotter, personal trainer, Globe & Mail Columnist and Huff Post Blogger as well as my favourite, Dr. Bryce Wylde, Alternative Medicine Health Expert.

 The Visa pass is a $45 value that covers you for up to 8 six minute appointments with any of the experts listed on the Passport for Change website.  There are personal trainers, natural health practitioners, transformational coaches as well as life coaches.  It's a fantastic opportunity to connect with people that can help you reach your goals in 2014 and you get to bring a friend with you!

In addition you will also receive a sample pack of vitamins from Vitapath.

Now that's a whole lot of awesome, don't you think? 

The rules:  Contest is open to residents of Ontario, however you are responsible for your own transportation to and from the event.  

How do you enter?  Easy....

1.  Leave a comment telling me who you'd most like to meet with at the event.
2.  Follow Tonic Magazine on twitter and leave a comment telling me you did.  Include your twitter handle.
3.  Follow me on twitter and leave a comment telling me you did.  Include your twitter handle.

That's it!  Winner will be chosen the morning of Friday January 10th via and announced on the blog.

Happy Hump Day folks! 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Back to the Grind....Almost

Ok where did my holidays go?

I'm sure most of us are asking that question today.  Luckily for me, I still have two days before I head back to work.   I need a couple of days to decompress from all the go-go-go of the last few days and get myself sorted for the impending insanity.  By impending insanity, I mean Boston / 70.3 training.  My Boston training started last week and my 70.3 training started today.

This is what my first week looks like:

Monday:  Swim (I swam 2850m in case you were wondering)
Tuesday A.M.: bike  P.M: tempo run with WTP + 30 min body weight session post run (that means no dawdling when I get home)
Wednesday:  Swim
Thursday A.M.: bike   P.M.: interval work + 30 min body weight session post run.  Coach Ming said I could switch this around as long as I feel recovered from Tuesday nights run.  If not, I'll have to switch it back to bike in the morning and run at night.
Friday:  OFF
Saturday:  Long run + 30 min weight session at the gym (this is going to be FUN on those 20+milers given that there are box jumps in this workout, ha ha) + 30 minute swim if possible.  If I'm at the gym and there's no aquafit class, that shouldn't be an issue.  Unless of course, I fall asleep on a mat after my weight workout.
Sunday:  Swim + Long Bike

I've got a lot of doubles happening, although realistically this isn't too far off my usual training schedule.  Minus the Saturday insanity of course.  I usually only do a long run on Saturday and that's it.  It will be interesting to see how I manage once I add these other things in here.  I do know one thing;  I am going to need a whole lot of ready made, good for me food.  So that is my plan for the next two days.  I'm going to cook my butt off.  I made a few things on the weekend (my smoky chicken chili & a beef stew) so we've got a couple of things in the freezer already  I made a bunch of gingerbread pancakes, a few of which I had after my swim this morning.  The rest have been put in the freezer.
This mornings amazingness - Gingerbread pancakes stuffed with honey & cinnamon ricotta.
So glad we moved our old fridge into the basement!  Extra storage!
 I also made this amazing spinach and feta pie from The Racing Weight cookbook.  I will be making a few other things from it and then posting a review in a couple of weeks so stay tuned for that.  I've got a fritatta in the oven and will be cooking up some quinoa to have on hand and to make some black bean burgers with as well.  I've got a few other things on my to make list but I may save them for tomorrow.  All this standing is making my legs tired and I don't want to wreck the massage I had yesterday, ha ha.

Anyone else still have a few days off?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014: #TheYearOfBigThings

Here we are: January 2014.  A fresh start.  A clean slate.  Another year to fill with awesomeness.  2013 filled me with a confidence that I've never known in all my years of racing.  It has also lit a fire in my belly to aim higher in 2014.   I feel like the possibilities are endless.  It's a nice feeling to have.

My race calendar has started to fill up nicely with the usual suspects in the first half of the year:  The Chilly Half Marathon, Around the Bay and Boston.   After Boston I've got the BIG one of the year: Ironman 70.3 Luxembourg.  This will be my first half ironman in almost 10 years.  And my first longer distance triathlon since IM Switzerland in 2008.  To say I am a bit scared would be a bit of an understatement.  Good thing I have a coach and an amazing team to guide me along. 

The second half of the year is a bit of a question mark.  I'd like to do Bala Falls and Toronto Island again.  And of course there will be the Scotia Half.  That might be about it.  But it might not.  Who knows.  I'm not ready to commit to too much just yet.  I have a couple of very lofty goals for 2014.  Both of which scare the pants off me and excite me at the same time.  Funnily enough I saw a post by Robyn Baldwin on instagram this morning that said:  If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough.  True Dat.  With that being said, here are my goals for 2014:

Boston:  3:10 (or faster)  That is a whole 6 minutes faster than I ran it last year.  I feel like I am faster than I was last year.  Scratch that, I know I am faster than I was last year.  This year I won't be an idiot and kill myself at ATB either so I will hopefully head into Boston at 100%.  Clearly I will have to see how my training goes.  If I am struggling to hit my goal pace times, then I will have to re-evaluate.  And, I will have to be ok with that, which is sometimes the bigger challenge for me.

Luxembourg 70.3:  5:30 or faster.  I didn't know much about the course when we registered, other than you swim in the Mosel River, the bike course is somewhat hilly and the run course is a 3 loop flat course.  I finally managed to find a course elevation profile for the bike.  Looks like I've got to work on my climbing and descending skills.  At least the beginning and ending are flat, ha ha. 

Those are my two main goals this season.  There is a third but I'm not ready to share it just yet.  We'll see how things go over the next few months. 

Boston training has started and 70.3 training will officially start next week.  The first thing I noticed about my plan was that Ming is going to be taking me out of the gym.  No more heavy lifting for me.  I'm freaking out a bit but I know he has reason for it.  So instead of Tuesday & Thursday lifting sessions, I'll be on the bike.  He's not removing strength training from my routine altogether though, thank goodness.  He'll have me doing a simple body weight routine a couple of times a week.  I have gotten quite strong in the last 6 weeks and I've really noticed a change in my body, especially my upper body.  I really hope I don't lose that.  Only time will tell I suppose. 

So that's it.  2 Big Goals for 2014.  This is why I've dubbed it #TheYearOfBigThings

What are your goals for 2014?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Lucky 2013: The Year in Review

If you had told me in January that I was going to podium in every race I did in 2013, except one, I would have said you were nuts.  Yes, I had high hopes for this year, especially after the end of 2012, and it did not disappoint.  I took my newly improved psyche / mental game and ran with it (literally!).  I upped the ante this year and signed up for the 13 in 2013 challenge to keep me motivated and racing.  I was so gung ho, I actually ended up racing 14 races this year.  I also set myself some lofty goals.

1) Go sub 3:20 at Boston

2) Get on the overall podium in my age group for the MSC Triathlon race series

3)  Break 1:30 for a half marathon

 January and February saw me busting my butt and logging miles.  My first race of the year rolled around on my birthday on March 3rd.  It was the Chilly Half Marathon and it's a race I've done every year for the last 3 years.  I wasn't going to miss this year given that it actually happened ON my birthday.  I had no expectations going in.  I was just going to run it and try to negative split it.  I ended up running a 1:30:48, beating my previous years time by a couple of minutes, setting a new P.B. and ending up 3rd place in my AG.  First podium of the year and so close to 1:30 I could almost taste it.  Good things were in store, I could just feel it.

Fast forward 3 weeks to Around the Bay 30k.  This is the oldest road race in North America and it sells out every year.  They give you colour coded medals based on your finishing time.  For women, if you're 2:30 or slower, you get a bronze medal.  For 2:30-2:15 you get a silver medal.  For 2:15 or faster, you get a gold medal.  Last year I got my first silver medal.  This year I wanted a gold medal.   Realistically I should have used it as a training race for Boston instead of really racing it like I did.  But, I got my gold medal and my second podium of the year.

Racing ATB like I did kind of did a number on my legs.  I started having hamstring issues.  I was slated to run an 8km race as part of my Boston taper but I skipped it, opting to focus on getting as close to 100% as possible for Boston.  By the time Boston rolled around I was probably about 95%.  Of course that wreaked complete havoc on my mental game but I reminded myself that I was lucky to be there in the first place and that I shouldn't worry about the outcome.  My goal that day was to run happy and I can honestly say that I did.  I think that race will go down as one of my best.  I smiled for pretty much the entire race, even when I hurt and I ran the whole time.  I didn't stop ONCE.   The best part?  I came out with a shiny new marathon P.B by almost 2 and half minutes.

After Boston it was time to get busy on the bike so I could focus on my upcoming triathlon season.  I probably didn't ride as much as I should have but I seemed to have done enough to get me where I wanted to be.  I raced 7 tris over the course of the summer.  I think that was about two too many, ha ha.  It was literally race, recover, race, recover.  But I made the podium in each race I entered, so by the end of the season, I had enough points to win my age group for the series.  One of the great things about all this racing was that I raced myself into some seriously good fitness.  My run times started dropping like crazy.  By the time my season ended at the end of August, I felt really strong.  My training for Scotia started and I watched my times at the track drop to places I've never seen them go.  I was pumped.

Scotia was my second A race of the year.  This was the race I was hoping to break 1:30.  Watching my times drop in training, I gained boatloads of confidence.  I knew well ahead of time that I was going to do it.  I could feel it.  I was so excited for this race, I could barely contain myself.  My new question was how fast could I go?  I had a number in my head that I only shared with two people.  I crossed the finish line in 1:27:11.  Pretty much exactly where I thought I'd be. The best part was that I ended up 3rd place Masters female.  This was HUGE given the size of this race and the caliber of talent that usually races. 

After Scotia, I started to wind things down.  I still had one race on the calendar, the Tannenbaum 10km in December.  I kept up my tempo work but took it easy on Thursdays, just putting in miles vs. pushing myself with interval training.  My goal for Tannenbaum was to break 40 minutes.  I figured if it wasn't windy, I'd be able to do it.   Sure enough, race day was calm.  I cranked out a 39:39.  I broke the previous masters course record by over almost 3 minutes.  What a fantastic way to cap off such an incredible year.

I say that this was Lucky 2013 but really what it came down to was hard work.  I know I wouldn't have been able to train and race the way I did this year if I didn't have a good support system.  So I suppose from that perspective, it really was Lucky 2013.  I'm lucky that I work for a great company that understands and appreciates my passion.  I'm lucky I run with a great group of people that make me work hard.  I'm lucky that I have an awesome group of friends both real and virtual who support and encourage me.  I'm lucky that I have an amazing crew of people who make sure I can keep pushing my body:  my friend and massage therapist David & my PT Meg at Synergy.  And mostly, I'm REALLY lucky to have such an incredible husband who supports all my crazy endeavours.  He is my biggest cheerleader and believes in me more than I believe in myself sometimes. 

2013 is going to be hard to beat.  It's definitely going to go down as a very memorable year.  That being said, I'm looking forward to making some epic memories in 2014.   It's going to be a Year of Big Things.  I can feel it.

A big thanks to all of you that read along here & follow me on twitter & instagram.  May your 2014 be a year of good health, happiness and milestones.

Happy New Year!