Friday, August 31, 2012

When I Grow Up

I don't know about you but I'm still trying to figure out what I want to be when I "grow up".  Over the last few years several things have become clear to me, the big one being that I want to be healthy enough to remain active well into my Golden Years.  Given that I'm only 41, it seems weird to be thinking about being a senior citizen.  I mean why rush things??  But, as Gary likes to remind me, I'm closer to 60 than I am to 20.  (Isn't he wonderful?) 
I started thinking about the whole age thing last weekend when I was at the Toronto Island Tri.  As I was walking down to the water with Gary, we were walking behind this older woman who was in freaking amazing shape.  I looked down at her calf and saw the number 73 written on her leg.  I turned to Gary and said I want to be just like that when I'm her age.  I believe that I'm on the right path.  I also believe that it's never too late to start to incorporate fitness into your life.  If you're able bodied, you're never too old to do anything, you just have to be smart about it.  Age is just a number, not an expiry date.  I think too many people see age as a limiter or use it as an excuse for not getting out there and doing things.   Even I've been accused of playing the age card by some of my younger training partners!  In my defense, I think I have a pretty good idea as to what my body is capable of and what it's limits are.  I realize that I'm not 25 any more and that some things (like recovery!) just get a bit more challenging when you get older.  Of course the young 'uns don't know that yet, but their time will come.  Right, I'll stop sounding like an old fart now and fill you in on who I want to be like when I grow up.

Sister Madonna Buder .(a.k.a The Iron Nun)

She didn't start working out until she was 48 years old. She did her first Ironman at 55, which was 27 years ago.  Ironman was looked at as an extreme sport at that time, totally on the fringes. For an older woman to jump into that with both feet is totally inspiring.  Over the last few years, Ironman has had to keep adding age categories as she continues to compete.  She has competed in over 325 triathlons including 45 Ironman races.  45!!  This year, at the ripe old age of 82, she completed Ironman Canada in 16:32:00.  Well under the 17 hour cut off.   Talk about inspiring.  I can only hope to be that able bodied at 82 years old.  Hell, I hope I'm still alive at 82 years old!


Ed Whitlock

Ed is a Canadian running legend whose unmistakable mane of white hair makes him easy to spot in a crowd.  Mr. Whitlock ran track in his teens and then took up running again in his 40's.  The laws of aging say that as you get older your speed declines.  Apparently Ed didn't get that memo.  In 2000, he become the oldest person to run a sub 3 hour marathon (2:52:47), at 69 years old!!  He managed to hold that streak every year up until he hit 75 years old.  At 75 he managed to set the record for the 75-79 year old age category by running a 3:08:35 in 2006 at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon.  The following year at the Rotterdam Marathon, he managed to drop 4 minutes and run a 3:04:54.
I'm not done yet.   He did it all again in 2011 when he turned 80.  80 freaking years old.  In April of 2011 he ran the Rotterdam Marathon in 3:25:43 and then bettered that time by 10 minutes in Toronto at the Waterfront Marathon to 3:15:54.  I ran beside him for a bit during that race.  I was only doing the half but to see him in action up close was pretty amazing.   I have to wonder if he'll be racing again this year.

I love the fact that both of these people started on their path late in life.  Sure Ed ran as a teenager but there is a big jump between your teen years and your 40's.  I find their drive and dedication to their sport totally inspirational and I hope that if I take care of myself, that I too will be busting my butt well into my Golden Years.

Do you admire any older athletes?


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Playlist Thursday: Most Appearances a.k.a: The Ultimate Rush Playlist

Another Thursday is here and that means two things:  We're one day closer to the weekend and it's Playlist Thursday!

This week's theme is "Most Appearances" but I might as well call it The Ultimate Rush playlist.  My playlist has at least 8 Rush songs on it.  I haven't actually counted them, I'm just going by memory.  It's no secret that I think these guys are a-ma-zing.  I'll be the first to admit that I'm a proud Geddy-corn.  Sure I was late to the party but better to be late than to never have arrived in the first place.  Right?   Rush is one of those bands that you either love or you hate.  I don't think there's really any in between.  If you like running to a beat, then chances are you probably won't like running to this music.  These guys are known for interesting time changes in their music which can make it challenging to run to.   Personally that's one of the things I love about it.  It's like music for people with A.D.D.  Oooohhh look at that flower! Ok, what was I talking about again?

For this weeks theme I'm going to dedicate the entire three categories to Rush.  Given that they've been around for almost 40 years, I've got plenty of stuff to choose from.   The only thing that sucks is that they don't always put out videos for their stuff.  Most of what is out there is live footage from concerts.  I'm also tossing in a couple of non Rush related Honorable Mentions. 

The "rules" of Playlist Thursday:
Something Old:  Songs that are at least 5 years old.  
Something Current:  Songs that have been released in the past year.
Something to Consider:  This is the wild card category.  Any song goes:  old, current, guilty pleasure, whatever floats yer boat.

Don't forget to head over to Brian's blog to check out all the other participant playlists!

Something Old:
Artist:  Rush
Title: Driven
Notable:   This song always helps me find that extra gear.  The opening guitar riff totally fires me up. 
Quotable:  "The road unwinds toward me, what was there is gone, the road unwinds before me and I go riding on."

Something New:
Artist:  Rush
Title:  Headlong Flight
Notable:  From their newest release Clockwork Angels, this was the first song released as a single on iTunes. Given that it's a whopping 7 minutes long, it wasn't fit for radio play unfortunately but it does make for a great running song.
Quotable: "I learned to fight, I learned to love, I learned to feel, oh I wish I could live it all again."

Something to Consider:
Artist:  Rush
Title:  YYZ
Notable:  YYZ is the code for Pearson International Airport in Toronto.  To quote Wikipedia:  The song's introduction, played in a time signature of 5/4 repeatedly renders the letters "Y-Y-Z" in Morse Code using various musical arrangements.  For me this song paints a vivid picture of people coming and going, with its various time changes and the stopping and starting of the beat.  It's also an instrumental which is a nice change of pace.  Although in this video, the crowd in Rio somehow manages to "sing" along to this.  Gotta love those crazy Brazilians!

Honorable Mentions:
There are a couple of other bands that also makes multiple appearances on my playlist.  Not as many as Rush but pretty close.  Say hello to The Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand.  I've always had a soft spot for British alternative music. Here are two of my favourites.

Artist:  The Arctic Monkeys
Title:  I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor
Notable:  Yet another song that helps me kick it in to overdrive.
Quotable: "I bet that you look good on the dance floor, dancing to electro-pop like a robot from 1984."

Artist:  Franz Ferdinand
Title:  Take Me Out
Notable:  This song will also get me out on the dance floor, no question.  I am patiently awaiting their new album.  Gotta be honest, the wait is killing me.
Quotable"Im just a crosshair, I'm just a shot away from you"

Who makes the most appearances on your playlist?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Reigning It In and Re-Assessing

Clipart from
Now that I'm "back to normal", I can barely contain my excitement at the prospect of getting back to speed work and leg work in the gym.  I know I'm going to have to ease into both of these things but, I have a game plan.  I was at the gym this morning and it took a lot of restraint for me to not walk up to the squat rack, load up the bar with plates and get to work.  I decided on an easier, gentler approach.  This morning, I stuck with body weight exercises, mainly lunges and squats.  I did go and do hamstring curls on a machine but with much lighter weight than normal.  I don't want to kill my legs just yet.  When I got injured, I had just finished phase two of my weight training plan and was taking a week off to give my body some time to recuperate before moving on to phase three, which is pretty intense.  I was wondering if I should even bother with phase three and maybe just go back and repeat phases one and two.  Then I got hurt.  As much as I really enjoyed that training plan, I've been thinking that perhaps it was time for me to do something different.  Since I'm starting from scratch, now is the time.  Good thing as I've just volunteered to be part of a test group for auto-regulation training.  I like the sounds of it and I'm curious to see where it takes me.

As much as I want to get back out with my running group, I am going to have to wait a few days to do that.  Why?  Well tonight's run is a tempo run and while I don't think I'll have a problem with that, it's an incredibly hilly route, and that is my bigger concern.  I don't want to start hammering away on hills just yet.  The stress of running fast in addition to the stress of running hills might be a bit more than my body can handle right now.  So tonight's effort will have some speed but it will be a flat route.  I'll meet up with my group again on Thursday for some mile repeats.  Those should be fun.

I'm also going to have to re-jig my training program.  Because I've missed so much training, I'm going to have to figure out the safest place for me to start without going back to square one.  Time to bust out the calculator and start adding!  Last week my total mileage for the week was 32.5km.  I should be closer to 50km right now.  But I'm not going to freak out.   I will get what I need to get done, I'm just going to have to be creative and mindful.  Creativity isn't an issue but the mindfulness is.  I usually just go full boar into things without thinking much.  When I'm training I don't always take the time to step back and assess. I'm going to take this little setback as a sign that perhaps I should be slowing down to re-assess things from time to time.

Lastly, the most important thing I need to do is take care of my body.  I know that by living a healthy lifestyle and being active, I am already doing that to a certain extent.  However, recovery also plays an important part.  You can only push yourself for so long before things start to fall apart, especially as you get older. I certainly don't bounce back like I used to, in fact not much bounces anymore, it just sags..but that's a whole other post.  Just like a car, your body needs regular maintenance, even more so as you age.  Things like regular stretching, hot yoga, a massage or something as simple as an epsom salts bath are all wonderful ways to de-stress,  recover and maintain a healthy balance.   I think that my little calf fiasco probably could have been prevented had I actually had a good solid deep tissue massage after my half marathon at the end of May.  I neglected my legs and paid the price for it.  I won't make that mistake again.

Questions of the Day:

How do you take care of your body?   What is your "down time" like?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Toronto Island Triathlon Race Report

This would have been my third race in three weekends if I hadn't gone and tweaked my calf at the end of July.   At the time of that injury I wasn't sure if I'd be able to do any of the races I signed up for so to actually be able to get one of them under my belt was a bonus in my book.  I was actually really looking forward to this race as it was in Toronto so I knew we'd be home by 1:00 pm at the latest.   Most of the other MSC races are at least 1.5 hours out of the city so by the time you race, collect your stuff and drive back, it can be almost a day long affair.

I had watched Gary do this race multiple times and the one thing that always struck me was just how nice the water was.  The swim takes place at Hanlan's Point just off of Toronto Island.  The water is shallow for quite a ways out and the bottom is totally sandy.  The water is quite clear and you can see the bottom all way out, until it gets too deep to see all way down.   But even then, the water is never really murky, it's just green-ish.  Of course I didn't find that out until yesterday but I always figured if it was sandy then it would never really get murky.   The one issue with Lake Ontario is that it is big.  A big lake usually means some choppy water.  It can also mean that it gets pretty cold.  Luckily I only had one of those issues to deal with yesterday.


I woke up at 2:27 am to go to loo and as I stumbled back into bed I thought to myself, ahhh, at least I have another 2.5 hours to sleep.  My eyes popped open at that point as I remembered that I was racing.  The butterflies started.  Those last 2.5 hours of sleep were fitful at best.  I don't know why but I am always so much more nervous before a triathlon than any of my running races.  Actually that's not true, I know exactly why I'm nervous.  Because I have to swim.

The alarm went off at 5:00 am and G and I stumbled out of bed.  The plan was to leave the house at 6:30 so we could park and be at the ferry docks for 7:00 am.  I ate my breakfast, double checked my bags, went to the can what felt like 8 million times and finally made it out of the house just after 6:30.  A stop for coffee and then we hit the road.  We just made the 7:00 am ferry.  My nerves were in overdrive until we stepped on the ferry.  Once I was on board, I was fine. 

A typical sprint triathlon has wave starts that usually go every 3 minutes.  Because the course is so tight on the Island, they spaced the waves apart every 12 minutes.  The first wave went off at 8:00 am.  Gary's wave went off at 8:48 am.  I was in the last wave of the day at 9:36 am.  We got to the Island at 7:15.  I had loads of time to kill.  The first thing I did was get a spot in transition.  I set all my stuff up and then went to get my timing chip and body marking.  I then went back grabbed my bike and did a short warm up to test out my race wheels, go through all my gears and make sure everything was ok.   I racked my bike, pulled on my hot pink Saucony Kinvaras and went out for a test run.  Legs felt good.  It was stinking hot out and it was only 8:00 am.  It would be cooking by the time I hit the run portion of the race.  I met up with G and we went down to the water to do a warm up. The butterflies kicked it up a notch as soon as I walked out on to the beach.  For some reason I thought Hanlan's Point was a lot more sheltered.  Almost like it was in a cove.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  It's completely wide open.  GULP.  We did our wetsuits up and wandered into the water.  It was chilly at first but once you got in, it was lovely.  It didn't look very choppy when I was standing on the beach but once you got in and starting swimming, there it was, slapping you in the face.  I panicked a little but kept swimming.  The buoys looked SO far out.  I think that's what gets me with the swim.  750m is not a long way, really, but when you see it mapped out in a lake, geez, it's kinda scary.  At least for me.  I decided not to think about that so I put my head down and started swimming.  The water was beautiful and I eventually calmed down.  Gary's wave was almost ready to start so I gave him a kiss and made my way out of the water.  I realized that I hadn't put my calf sleeves on so I was hoping I could yank the legs of my wetsuit up far enough that I could get them on without having to take my wetsuit off.   I set off back to transition as the horn went off for Gary's wave.  I had almost 45 minutes to kill.

I managed to get my calf sleeves on without much trouble, guess that's what happens when you lose 15lbs!  My wetsuit is "technically" too big for me.  I quite like it like this because it means it comes off a whole lot faster!  Sure it fills up with water a lot more but whatever, it keeps me warm!  I spent the remainder of my time chatting with a bunch of women in my wave and taking pictures.  Before I knew it, it was time to head down to the beach.  I had also somehow managed to miss Gary leaving transition.  Guess I was too busy talking.  Bad wifey!

My view in transition. 

The Swim:  750m

I made my way down to the beach with a few of the ladies in my wave.  I had to get some help getting my wetsuit zipped back up.  With that done, I headed back into the water to get used to the temperature again.  I was starting to get really nervous again.  Everyone started lining up so I stayed off to the side, towards the back, like I usually do.  I don't like to get caught up in the melee, I'm  perfectly happy to wait till people spread out a bit. The horn went off and I waded into the water.  I would have walked a lot farther than I did but I figured swimming would be faster so I dove in.  Within a few strokes I was in deeper water and I was surrounded by several other women.  Add that churning to the choppiness of the water and panic took over.  I started to breast stroke.  The further out you got the choppier it was.  I stopped and tried to catch my breath.  I was close to hyperventilating.  For a second I contemplated stopping.  Nope.  Not today.  I figured if I took a breath every other stroke vs every third stroke, then I'd feel a bit better.  So that's what I did.  Turned my head to the right with every other stroke.  That seemed to help and I wasn't getting slapped in the face so much any more.  I figured once I made it out to the green buoy and changed direction that I'd be good to go.  As soon as I hit that buoy, I found my rhythm.  I started catching and passing people.  It still felt choppy but at least it wasn't smacking me in the face.  I went back to my normal breathing and stroke pattern.  I felt like I was swimming really well.  Before I knew it, I was at the second green buoy which meant we were turning around and heading back to shore.  We had the chop at our back so that was a little extra boost.  I caught a few more ladies on the way back in.  My calf cramped up at one point but I managed to kick it out just before I touched the ground to start running in.  I got out of the water and glanced at my watch in shock:  14:38.  That's a good swim for me!

The run from the swim to T1 was a long one and it was on sand.  I saw a couple of women walking!  Screw that, I started running.  I passed the woman that came out of the water with me.  As soon as I got on to the grass, I bolted for my bike and took a quick look around.  There were a few bikes out but I didn't stop to count them.   I whipped off my wetsuit, put my bike helmet on and did it up (safety first!), quickly dried my feet, yanked on my socks, put my cycling shoes on and grabbed my bike.  Out of the group of ladies I came in with, I was the first one out of T1.  Time:  1:37.  Better than normal!  I usually stop and have a picnic in T1.

The Bike:  30km

Aside from the swim, this was the part that I was actually a little nervous about.  There is a sharp turn on the course that you go around three times and I'm not the best at taking tight corners on my bike.  I usually have to unclip and put my foot down so I don't fall over.  I know, I need to work on my bike handling skills.  More time in the saddle will help with that.  Anyway, this course is pancake flat so I figured I'd just ride as hard as I could for as long as I could.  If I started to feel tired, I'd back off a bit.  As soon as I got on to the bike course, I flipped it into my big chain ring and started flying.  15 minutes into the bike I took a GU Roctane.  I felt really good.  I had no idea how fast I was going as I don't have a computer on my bike.  I do know that I kept passing people.  I should have had a recording of me saying "On Your Left" that I could have just kept that on a loop.  On my second loop I managed to catch a woman in my AG.  Sweet!  I hadn't been passed by any one yet either.  I kept seeing a really fit woman with an aero helmet at the turnarounds but she never actually caught me.  I realized later that she was a couple of AG older than me!  Towards the end of the second loop, I started to feel fatigued so I eased up a bit.  My legs bounced back with a few km to go so I pushed the pace towards the turn around.  I rolled up to transition with absolutely no idea how fast I rode that.  I guessed I was out there for just under an hour.   And by the number of bikes that had been racked already, there weren't many women ahead of me.

Time:  54:32

I bolted into transition, racked my bike, pulled off my helmet and cycling shoes, yanked my running shoes on, grabbed my visor and my last Roctane and hit the road.  T2: 1:19.  Not bad.  I think I can get this down to under a minute.

The Run:  7.5km

This was going to be the BIG test for me.  Was my calf back to normal?  Could I go fast?  I wasn't going to run this easy.  I can't do that in a race.  So I went flying out of T2 and proceeded to pick people off.  There were a ton of runners out from the previous waves, mostly women but there were still a few guys out.  It was hard to tell who was in your AG because most of the marker had rubbed off the back of people legs.  I had my age covered up with my calf guards so everyone behind me was in the dark! I figured that any of the women whose race number was in the 540's-550's would be in my age group so I kept my eyes peeled for those numbers.  The run was mostly on grass but there was some sand and some pavement thrown in.  The grass was perfect.  I felt I ran much better on the grass than I did on the pavement.  The run was 2 loops.  As I was coming back from the sandy bit, I saw Gary sitting on a rock.  He said Lookin Good Babe!  I was feeling pretty good at that point.  The heat hadn't gotten to me yet.   I ran out along the grass towards the pavement.  I came up on a woman who looked familiar.  I remembered seeing her milling about in transition a few bikes down from me.  As I got closer, I checked out her calf.  44 years old.  YES.  I caught her and flew by.  One down and who knows how many to go?  I kept pushing but as soon as I hit the pavement, I felt myself slow down.  It was so hot it just sucked the life out of me.  The sun was beating down on me.  We went through patches of shade but it was ugly.  I grabbed water at every aid station.   Some of it I drank and some of it I wore.  Luckily we weren't on the pavement for too long.  I made the turnaround and headed back towards the grass.  Once I got on to the grass, I picked up the pace again.  I saw Gary again at that rock.  My rock, on a rock.  Ha.  He started yelling Go Get 'em!!  Not sure who I was going to get but whatever, I was going to get someone.  Sure enough as I came through the sandy bit, I came across another woman in my age group.  Ding!  Buh-bye.  I passed her and motored along, around the bend, back through sand again (you went through it 4 flipping times) and back on to the grass.  Gary was here once again and once again he was yelling.  I don't remember what he said exactly because I was so focused on being done.  I was also trying to guess my finishing time.  When I'm trying to do math in my head, I have to tune everything else out.   I knew I only had about 1.5km left.  Only about another 6.5 minutes of pain.  That's what I kept telling myself.  You can do anything for 6.5 minutes.  Except maybe a plank....ha ha ha.
Back out on to the pavement and around the round about.  I see the 7km marker.  Only 500m to go.  I pass one younger girl on the way in and then I catch another one.  She looks back at me and starts to go.  I glance down at her calf and I see 18 on it.  I say "Don't worry I'm not in your age group, not even close."  She says "Oh, ok" but sprints off anyway (I probably would have done the same, I wouldn't want some old broad schooling me at the line either!).  I had nothing left so she crossed the line ahead of me.  Literally right in front of me.  So I have no finishers photo.  Oh well.  Kudos to her for an excellent finishing kick.

Time:  34:17 - 2nd fastest run split in my AG.  Woohoo!

Total time:  1:48:17  Much better than I had anticipated.  The best part, I raced pain free.  No calf issues what so ever.  I am officially back.  Oh, I also managed a 4th place finish!  4th of 21 women in my AG.  YEAH!

The second best part was realizing that Gary only beat me by 1:59:03.  Less than 2 minutes separated us.

Not that I'm competitive or anything. 

I would definitely do this race again.  I totally love this series.  Lots of great draw prizes, always really good venues and having Hero Burger as one of the main sponsors is amazing, especially since burgers are my favourite post race food!  John Salt and his team are incredibly passionate about the sport and that passion really comes through in all of their events.  Top notch in my books!


Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Sunday Ritual, A Recipe and A Race!

Yet another weekend has come to an end far too soon!  That means once again, I'm thinking about what I'm going to eat this week.  I've decided to wing it again because quite frankly, I'm exhausted.  I don't have the energy or desire to spend 2 hours cooking today.  Why?  Because I raced this morning.  YEAH BABY, I'M BACK! 

After 2.5 weeks off and another week of slowly getting back into running,  I was starting to feel like things were coming together.   A massage on Wednesday seemed to get the rest of the kinks out and after my long run on Friday night, I felt that I was good to go for today.  Given that I hadn't done much riding or fast running, I didn't have high hopes for getting on the podium.  I'm not going to lie,  with all the success I had last year, it's always something in the back of my mind when I go into a race.  Even today's race.  I always manage to pull a horseshoe out of my ass somehow and waayyy deep down inside I had some hope that might be the case today.  Reality told me different, but like I've said before, I'm stubborn.  Gary's words of advice were to just go out, work hard and enjoy myself.  So rather than focus on perhaps getting on the podium, I thought that 1) I should just be grateful I'm actually able to race today and 2) I should just go out and have fun.  Let the chips fall where they may.   I'll post a full race report tomorrow but for now I'll give you the Coles Notes edition.
I took Gary's advice and went out and had fun.  Doesn't mean I didn't push myself.  If there's one thing I love to do it's toe the line of implosion.  I am a red-liner.  They don't call it a sprint race for nothing!  I did have a goal and that was to finish under 1:55.  The course was totally flat so I figured that shouldn't be a problem.  Of course I was concerned about the swim.  Lake Ontario is a very big body of water and it can get rough, which it was today.  I had a bit of panic on the way out as I kept getting slapped in the face with water but once I sorted out my breathing and made it around the first buoy, I was good to go.  As was evidenced by my swim time of 14:38.  Which for me is a BIG deal.  I had a bit of a calf cramp on the way back in but I managed to kick it out.
With the swim over I was good to go!  I rode like a maniac on the bike.  I managed to pass 2 women in my AG.  The hunt was on.  I was really hoping no one would pass me.  No one did.  On to the run, my favourite thing!  It was a combo of grass, pavement and sand.  Loved the grass, pavement was ok and the sand, well it was crappy but luckily we weren't on it for that long.  It was stinking hot out as well so I kept pouring water over my head to cool down.  I picked off 2 more women in my AG.  I had no idea how many women were in front of me.  I saw one that I figured was in my AG because her race number was close to mine.  She was a fair ways in front of me so I didn't think I could catch her.  I didn't really care I was just happy to be racing.  I busted my butt on that run and as I came towards the finish line, I glanced at my watch.  It just ticked over 1:48.  I smiled to myself.  Not only was I faster than I thought I'd be but I raced completely pain free.  No calf issues, nothing.  I REALLY needed a day like today.   Final time 1:48:17.   Final place?  Fourth! Normally I wouldn't be too thrilled with that but today I'll take it.  I know I hoped for better but I also knew that I was grasping at straws.  What I was super pumped about was that I had the 2nd fastest run in my AG.  Woohoo! 

Top 5 Finishers in the 40-44 AG.

I know the folks that read my Sunday posts always like to see what I'm making so, I'll leave you with a recipe that I plan on putting together for dinner.  I can't take credit for it, though.  Credit goes to my friends Julie & Raff.  I'm going to add a few things to it though just to bump up the flavour a bit.

Black Bean & Tuna Salad.

1 can of black beans, rinsed
1 can of flaked tuna in water, drained
1 corn on the cob, cooked and cut off the cob
1 avocado, chopped
1 mango, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 very small red chile, minced (or use red chile flakes or go without)
1 handful of cilantro, finely chopped (or more if you love it like I do)
1 tbsp of olive oil - 1/2 avocado oil 1/2 olive oil
the juice of one lime
salt and pepper to taste

Put all the ingredients in a bowl, mix and enjoy!

I'm going to leave you with a pic of all my goodies set up in transition.  I seem to have a thing for pink.

What did you get up to this weekend?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Cautiously Optimistic

Instead of flopping on the couch with a frosty beverage like I normally do on a Friday night, I laced up my shoes and decided to test my legs with a long-ish run.  I had originally thought I should go out and run 20km because I ran 19km the previous week so really why couldn't I run 20?  Hubby a.k.a The Voice of Reason, looked at me like I had grown a second head and asked "Is that smart?".  I had to stop and think about it for a minute.  I figured I could do it so I said "Sure, why not?".   He gave me that look, the one that says, I think you're an idiot without actually coming out and saying it.  Like a dog with a bone, I said Well I ran 19km last week, why shouldn't I be able to run 20km this week?  That's when he let me have it so to speak:  How many times have you run since last week?  uh, twice.  How far did you run each time?  5.5 km and 6 km.  And did you get any blisters?  Oh.  Now I saw where he was going with this.  My last long run ended with me getting several nasty blood blisters on my feet.  It was difficult for me to walk as the skin on my feet was really sensitive.  The thought of putting running shoes on my feet was incredibly unappealing.  The last thing I wanted was another set of those on my feet especially since I was hoping to race on Sunday.  Ah.  Ok.  Fair enough.  Avoid the blisters.  So the plan was to go out and see how I felt and more importantly, how my feet felt.  The new shoes had been good on the shorter runs but I was going long again so who knew.  To be safe, I made a point of slathering up my feet with body glide before I left. 
 My first few steps felt weird.  I was still tentative, favouring my left side.  These shoes feel so different than my Newtons.  They are so much firmer in the forefoot than the Newtons and I guess I'm not really used to that yet.  I felt like I was running in bricks.  Springy bricks mind you, but bricks none the less.  I soldiered on trying to get comfortable.  My legs felt tired which I expected due to the beat down they got from my massage therapist on Wednesday.  I figured they'd take a couple of days to bounce back.   I went west along my usual route.  It seemed weird to be running it as the sun went down.  I was hoping that I was through Marie Curtis park before dusk hit.  There are some odd characters that frequent that park and the last thing I wanted was a strange encounter of the creepy kind.
It was a beautiful evening.  It had been humid out but as per usual, it was much cooler by the lake.  The hazy late summer light was in full effect as I ran through Samuel Smith Park, casting long shadows on the grass and creating a warm glow amongst the trees.
The view didn't disappoint when I made my way around the point on the way out of the park.  Despite the haze you could still see the outline of Burlington in the distance.  At least I think it's Burlington.  Whatever, it was a pretty picture.  So I stopped to take it.  Of course.
As I got out of Samuel Smith Park, I started to feel good.  My legs started to loosen up and my speed started to pick up a bit.  I still didn't feel as fluid as I'm used to but it wasn't too bad.  My heart rate was still under my target HR by several beats.  I was quite pleased with that.  I'm chalking that up to swimming 21,000m this month (so far!).  I knew my endurance was there but I wasn't sure about my strength.  Almost 4 weeks of no leg work and only a week and a half of slow, sporadic running was bound to take it's toll. 
Sure enough by about 7km in, my quads, especially my left one, started to feel a bit sore.  This was a new one.  I probably should have turned around but no, stubborn me started chirping so I kept motoring on.  I made it out to 8.5km and turned around.  My feet actually felt fine.  I didn't feel any blisters forming or anything so I took that as a positive.  By 11km I was really starting to feel sore.  I stopped and stretched and called Gary to ask him to pick up 2 bags of ice.  It was going to be an ice bath night, no question.
The last 6km were just plain ugly.  My left quad was so fatigued, it just hurt.  Then my right quad started to hurt.  I stopped to walk and stretch.  But I didn't get frustrated or upset.  I figured it was just due to my massage.  What I did notice was that I had NO pain in my calf.  No tightness, nothing.  It felt fine.  That in itself made up for my cranky quads. 
I tried to push the pace a bit running up my street but my legs wouldn't have it. I turned into the driveway and stopped my watch.  1:28:13 for 17km.  Not bad.  Now to get down to the business of recovery.   As soon as I walked in the door, Gary had a burger ready to go on the grill.  I cut up a fresh-out-of-the-ground red skinned potato, tossed it with olive oil and sea salt laid it out on a baking sheet and put it in the oven.  Next up was a bottle of water mixed with BCAA's while I stretched.  After dinner, I had some fish oil (helps reduce inflammation) and made a shaker cup of chocolate GU Brew recovery.  Guess you could say that was dessert.  I then wrapped myself up and sat in a tub of freezing cold water and 1.5 bags of ice.  Oh. my. god. That HURT.   Right after that, I drained the tub and refilled it with hot water and epsom salts.  I soaked in this for a while until I started to nod off, then I figured I should probably get out and get to bed.  Needless to say, I slept like a baby.  The routine may seem a little excessive but, miracle of miracles, my quads were almost fine this morning.  Going down stairs was a bit of an issue but I think if I sleep in my compressport ForQuads tonight, I'll be fine tomorrow.  Just in time for race day.
So, I'm cautiously optimistic that I've rounded the bend and that this calf injury is behind me.  What I should have done was gone for a massage that first week.  I'm sure I probably would have been back on my feet a lot sooner.  Ah well, you live and learn right?

What do you do for recovery? 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Playlist Thursday: Never Gonna Give You Up

Friday is still my favourite day of the week but Thursday is a very close second.  Why?  Because in my little blogisphere, Thursday isn't just Thursday, it's Playlist Thursday.    That means the potential for new tunes to be added to my running playlist.  And having new music to run to is almost as exciting as getting a new pair of running shoes!

This week's theme is Never Deleted.  These are songs that you think will always be a part of your running playlist.  Ones that you'll never give up.  I've got a few really good keepers.  They are songs that always help me find that extra gear, the ones that always make the cut for my race day playlist.  So let's get this party started...

The "rules" of Playlist Thursday:
Something Old:  Songs that are at least 5 years old.  
Something Current:  Songs that have been released in the past year.
Something to Consider:  This is the wild card category.  Any song goes:  old, current, guilty pleasure, whatever floats yer boat.

Check out all the other participants picks on Brian's blog .  I'm sure you'll find more musical inspiration!

Something Old
Artist: Rush
Title: One Little Victory
Side Note:  These guys are one of my all time favourite bands so it's a given that at least one of their songs was always going to be a keeper (there are a few but for this post, I've chosen this one).  This song fires me up big time.  The opening guitar and drums makes me want to run for all I'm worth.  It's a great song to play towards the end of a race. Unfortunately there's no video for it, other than some poorly recorded live versions so I've chosen this boring version so you can hear it in all it's studio glory.
Quotable:  "A certain measure of righteousness, a certain amount of force, a certain degree of determination, daring on a different course"

Something Current
Artist: Fun
Title: Some Nights
Side Note: I found this song via iTunes and it's made a permanent home on my playlist.  There is joyous feel to this song (even though the video and lyrics are anything but) that makes me happy to be alive, healthy and able to move my body.  

Quotable:  "Well some nights I wish that this all would end, cause I could use some friends for a change."

Something to Consider
Artist: Mumford and Sons
Title:  The Cave
Side Note:  All I have to say is holy moly do I ever love this song.  The harmonies, the banjo (!) the arrangement.  Everything.  Really makes me want to run.  Their new single is also a-ma-zing.  Can't wait for the album.

Quotable:  "And I'll find strength in pain and I will change my ways, I'll know my name as it's called again."

Do you have favourites that you'll never delete from your playlist?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Where There's a Will There's A Way

To say that my training for NYC has gone to hell in a hand basket as of late would be a bit of an understatement.  A mysterious calf issue sidelined me for 2.5 weeks.  It seems to be better now but of course every little niggle sends me into a tailspin of panic.  My overenthusiastic entry back in to training last week completely messed me up.  I didn't actually start to feel better until late in the day on Sunday.   I'm feeling all sorts of odd aches and pains and some general tightness which is not surprising given that I went out and ran 19km in brand. new. shoes after being off for 2.5 weeks.  How long have I been running for you ask?  Oh yeah 14 years.  D'oh! Experienced people do stupid things too folks, I'm a prime example!  Anyway, I've scheduled a massage appointment for tomorrow in the hopes that a good rub down will sort out the kinks.  Hopefully then I'll be able to get back to my regularly scheduled program.

I do have a Plan B if this calf business turns out to be a bigger than anticipated issue.  I have two very strong characteristics: a big fat stubborn streak (some people say determined, bless them) and the belief that every plan should have a back up plan.   Must be all those years of producing.  So given that I am determined to toe the start line of NYC in November, what do I do in the event that I cannot run?

Walk, of course.  Or run / walk.  Or shuffle.  As long as I can put one foot in front of the other, I'll be at the start line.  After all, my goal was to experience the race, not to go out and set a PB.

It's not the way I want to do the race but, if I have to, that's what I'm going to do.  And that's a big IF.  I say if because I think my head is really getting the better of me now.  Because I'm not feeling 100% my brain immediately goes down that worst case scenario road and I start to self diagnose;  because I'm feeling this way,  I must have this, etc.  In my mind, I've gone from having some calf cramps (that are now gone btw) to having posterior compartment syndrome which means I'm going to need surgery.  Yeah, I'm a little bit of a Chicken Little type.  I'm slowly working on this.  It's not an easy process let me tell you.

What I want more than anything is to just know that I'm ok.  The uncertainty of this injury will probably haunt me for a while.   Right now I'm so afraid to push things that I'm running slower than I have in ages, which isn't necessarily a bad thing but it kind of dashes my hopes of running a sub 1:30 half marathon in October.  At least that's what I think.  Sure, I suppose if I jumped back in to my regular training routine (2x speed work sessions a week), I might be able to pull that off, but, there is the potential that I'd just end up right back at square one.  So for now, I think the 1:30 half goal will have to wait until next year and I'm ok with that.   I have to remember that NYC is my A race.  The ultimate goal is to get to the start line healthy and ready to run.  As the badge says, I'm in to finish in 2012!

When you're injured do you assume worst case scenario or are you a wait and see type?

Have you ever started a race that you weren't sure you'd finish?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Sunday Ritual, Stupidity and Another DNS

My first few steps were tentative but I quickly found my rhythm.  Of course every little twinge I felt ate away at that black hole of doubt.  I eventually realized that my head was getting the better of me.  I soldiered on.  The goal was 19km.  It was a beautiful sunny day and I was running along a lovely undulating road in cottage country.  It doesn't get any better than that.  I had been feeling so good leading up to this day.   Perhaps that's why I thought 19km was doable.  About 8km in I thought maybe I should turn around and call it a day.  16km was still respectable especially after taking 2.5 weeks off.  My stubborn side chimed in and talked me in to that extra 1.5km out.  "You need to get your mileage in"  it urged.  "You're way behind."  Panic took over and I pushed on.  At the turnaround, I stopped to check out the state of my feet.  I could feel the burning on my right foot.  I took my shoe off to see a bulge on the ball of my foot.  Ugh.  I shoved my foot back in and laced my shoe up tighter.  I crossed the 2 lane highway and started to make my way back, cursing myself for being an idiot.  I had to stop a couple of times to stretch.  I couldn't plant my right foot properly due to the gigantic blister that had formed.  My stride was altered.  I started to walk, silently cursing my stupidity.  Somewhere around 14km I started to feel a bit better.  I knew I had to face the dreaded Emes Hill on the way back.  It doesn't look like much but it's a grinder.  I figured if I had to walk, I had to walk.  Peter's words echoed through my head "Try to take it easy on the hills.  If you can avoid them, avoid them for now."   So much for that. 
Emes Hill.  Jammy Bugger.
I started up the hill and actually felt alright.  It kicks up towards the top so I slowed down as I got closer to the top.  I was huffing and puffing.  But I made it to the top.   I was only about 3km away from the landing.  My legs were just starting to feel tired which was a surprise.  I figured I'd feel tired way earlier.  I had one more small hill to climb before I reached the landing.  Mentally I was done.  My feet were burning and I was not looking forward to taking my shoes off.  As the landing came in to view I realized that I hadn't quite done 19km.  I *should* have stopped but no, I had to run out past the landing until my Garmin clicked over to 19km.  Really?? What good did that do me?? None I'm sure except to silence the paranoid beast in the back of my head.
On a positive note, my legs felt totally fine after that escapade.  I was walking normally, no pain, no issues.  I figured the next day would be a different story.  My feet, on the other hand were a mess.  I had two huge blood blisters on my right foot and another blister forming on the big toe of my left foot.  It took me two attempts to drain the blisters.  I had to drain them again the next morning.  Disgusting.  I couldn't even face putting my running shoes on again so I spent the next day in flip flops.  My legs felt stiff and my calf felt tight, but there was no pain.  I was hopeful that I could race on Sunday.  I used the Stick on my calf, iced it and took a Robaxacet on Friday night in the hopes that would help loosen things up.
I awoke on Saturday to incredibly sore legs and a very tight calf.  Oh no, no no no.  All I could hope was that my legs loosened up over the course of the day.  They didn't.  So at 5:00 pm last night I pulled the pin on racing today.  Another DNS (did not start).  It was probably just as well.  I woke up this morning with very sore quads, a tender achilles and a sore hamstring.  I was tempted to sit on my butt this morning and mope but I thought it would be better if I went out and got moving.  So I laced up the new shoes, put on my new Oiselle Roga shorts (which I love btw) and went for a shuffle.  It was awful.  I tried not to cry in frustration as I ran.  My legs felt like tree trunks.  I kept moving at a very easy pace.  I turned around just past the 3km mark.  I stopped at almost 4.5km and started to walk home.  I was feeling too many "weird" things in my legs.  And they were just plain tired.  About 1km from home, I started to run again.  Everything was tight.  I started to get down on myself.  I fought back more tears as I shuffled along.  I started to worry that I'd done more harm than good and that I'd set myself back even further.  I got back home and spent a good 20 minutes stretching.  I lightly foam rolled my legs and thought about my next steps.   Realistically, the fact that I got out and managed to run almost 5.5km in 30 minutes with no calf pain per se, is a positive.  The pain I felt was because I overdid it on Thursday.  It was everywhere else BUT my calf.  Which is a good thing.  So I think a good massage will help flush out the rest of the soreness in my legs and hopefully get the circulation going again.  To aid in getting the blood flowing to my aching legs I'm wearing my Compressport For Quads and my calf sleeve on my bum calf.  The single calf sleeve is very gangsta looking but I don't care.  It feels great.  Fingers crossed I wake to fresher legs tomorrow.  Just in time to return to work.

I didn't have anything planned for today cooking wise because I figured we'd be racing and wouldn't be back home until mid afternoon.  I took a look through the freezer and the pantry and I think I've got more than enough odds and ends that I can successfully put together some decent lunches.  I'll have to pick up a few things but I don't think I'll have to do a full on grocery shop.  I'm taking some inspiration from the lovely Katie over a Wish and Whimsy and making these yummy looking Tuna Cabbage Boats.  I like the fact that I can put whatever strikes my fancy in these.  They are high in protein and I can fill them up with as much veggies as I please.  Perfect clean eating food.  I made some delicious salsa verde last week that I put on some grilled chicken.  Flavourful and oh so simple.  I still have some left over so I'll be using that on the grilled chicken I'm going to cook up tonight.  As for dinner this week, we'll that remains to be seen.  We still have a ton of peppers, zucchini and mushrooms as well as some green beans and a small harvest of yellow beans from the garden.  Some grilled salmon or flank steak would be perfect pairings for these veggies.  This will probably mean a stop at the butchers after work but that's easy enough.  I want to keep this weeks menu simple.   I got up early this morning and tackled my breakfast for the week.  I've gone back to my usual breakfast fritatta.  I added a chick pea crust to this to make it a bit more substantial.  This one has mushrooms, onions, yellow pepper, zucchini and goat cheese.  Had I been thinking I would have added some thyme to it.  Delicious.
Fritatta Love
The grand plan for the week:  KISS = Keep it simple, stupid.  Eat clean, train smart, listen to my body and hopefully I'll be back on track.  I've got one more opportunity to race next weekend so if I'm smart this week, I should be able to toe the line at the Toronto Island Triathlon next weekend.   Fingers crossed.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Playlist Thursday: Local Love

When I saw the theme for this week's Playlist Thursday, I thought my head was going to explode with options, I was so pumped.  This week's theme is Local Flavour.  The Canucks that are reading along know just how much amazing talent comes out of Toronto, as well as the rest of Canada.  In fact, I could probably do several weeks worth of Playlist Thursday just on this subject alone.  This wasn't an easy one for me as there are so many bands that I listen to (and love) from the Big Smoke so to have to narrow it down to three, well, it wasn't easy.  

The "rules" of Play List Thursday:

Something Old:  Songs that are at least 5 years old.  
Something Current:  Songs that have been released in the past year.
Something to Consider:  This is the wild card category.  Any song goes:  old, current, guilty pleasure, whatever floats yer boat.

Check out all the other participants picks on Brian's blog .  I'm sure you'll find more musical inspiration!

Something Old
Artist: Rush
Title: Spirit of Radio
Side Note: Those of you that know me, had to know that a Rush song would be on here.  My play list is filled with songs by these guys so it was hard to pick just one.  Hands down the best thing to come out of Canada since poutine and maple syrup (IMO).  There is something so uplifting about this song, especially the opening guitar riff.  Every time it comes on I find I get that little boost, that little extra oomph.  I also find myself playing a lot of air guitar.  The time changes make it a little challenging to run to if you're trying to follow a beat, but you could always do a fartlek run to it. 
Quotable:  "One likes to believe in the freedom of music".

Something New
Artist: Metric
Title:Youth without Youth
Side Note:  What can I say, I love Metric.  Singer Emily Haines knows how to rock it, that's for sure.  I have almost the entire Fantasies album on my playlist.  This song is from their new album and as soon as I heard it, it was downloaded and immediately put in rotation. 

Quotable:  "Hangman we played rubber soul with a razor blade, behind the church, hiding place, it was a long joke till the punch line came".


Something Different
Artist: Big Sugar
Title:  The Scene

Side Note:  I've seen these guys five times and I'm honestly surprised I'm not deaf.  By far the loudest band I've ever seen and the only band to have been able to create Boob Shakin' Bass with their live shows.   They were a big deal in Toronto and the rest of Canada in the late 90's and have recently re-formed and released a new album. 

Quotable:  "I'm only six feet tall, but I'm righteous y'all".

I know we're supposed to focus on local (City & Province) but I'd be remiss if I didn't include a couple of honorable mentions from outside Ontario.

Honorable Mention #1

Artist: Sam Roberts
Title:  Graveyard Shift

Side Note:  Sam Roberts is from Montreal.  Some of his songs combine both official languages beautifully.  There is something about his music I find so typically Canadian.  Perhaps it's just the fact that I associate his music with being up north, who knows.  I love the beat of this particular song so much, I listened to it 3 times in a row on my way to crushing my 1:40 half marathon goal last year. 

Quotable:  "And I was born on a precipice between salvation and the great abyss".

Honorable Mention #2

Artist: Great Big Sea
Title:  Run Runaway

Side Note:  These guys are from the East Coast and their music is very typical of that area.  Great harmonies and lots of toe tapping beats have made me a big fan.  This song is a cover of the Slade song that was popular in the 80's.  There couldn't be a more appropriate song for a running playlist!  I also find it impossible to be in a bad mood while listening to their music.

Quotable:  "If you're in the swing, money ain't everything".

Feeling the local love yet?

What local bands are on your playlist?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Running Images

Three years ago, I never would have brought my phone with me on a long run.  Now,  I never leave the house without it and not necessarily because I think I'll need to call in the sag wagon.  I bring it with me because I want to be able to document some of the things I see when I'm out running.   I run outside through all four seasons so I thought I'd share what my eyes (and camera) have seen over the last year.  Seems appropriate for a Wordless Wednesday on this blog.  Enjoy!

Gary running at Blackie's Pasture, Tiburon CA

Marie Curtis Park, Toronto, ON

Col. Samuel Smith Park, Toronto, ON

Marilyn Bell Park, Toronto, ON
Col. Samuel Smith Park, Toronto, ON

Inukshuk, near Ontario Place, Toronto, ON
Somewhere along the Waterfront Trail, Toronto, ON

Swans and a view of the City, Toronto, ON

Fall in the Moore Park Ravine, Toronto, ON

Fall Colours,  Kingsmill Park, Toronto, ON

Windmill, CNE Grounds, Toronto, ON

Bridge on the Humber Trail, Toronto, ON
Lake Ontario / Marie Curtis Park, Toronto, ON

Spit at Len Ford Park, Toronto, ON

Reflections at Marie Curtis Park, Toronto, ON

Which image is your favourite?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Sunday Ritual on Vacation & The End of an Affair

It's Sunday again.  Normally I'd be lacing up my shoes right now and heading out for my long run but, I haven't been given a go ahead by my PT to do that just yet.  Even though I feel totally fine, I want to make sure that any residual issues are worked out before I actually start pounding the pavement again.  That being said, I will probably go for a very short very easy jaunt in my new kicks.  Yes folks, the Newton love affair is over.  I have found another lover and his name is Mizuno.  He may not be as flashy as Newton but I think he'll be better for me in the long run; more stability and less stress on my calves and achilles.  After 2 + years in the Newton's and this weird little calf issue I've been having, I felt it was time for a change.   The guy that sold these to me said he wasn't surprised to hear about the calf issues.  That seems to be a big problem with a lot of these minimalist shoes.  More load on your forefoot is going to stress your calf and achilles more than they're used to and for a lot of people that results in an injury.  Even in the Newton's I was still a heel striker and yet I was still able to run fast.  As my sports doctor so aptly put it, your body is going to do whatever it's going to do, changing your foot strike doesn't necessarily mean you're going to get faster.  I used to think it was the shoes that made me faster and I'm sure that they probably helped a bit, but I think I can safely say it was a combination of the 15 pound weight loss, the speed work and weight lifting that has gotten me to where I am today. 
Much more tame than I'm used to!
I had big training plans for this week, especially since we're off on vacation.  I'm mentally raring to go and despite being off for two weeks, I'm feeling really good physically as well.  Nothing like some forced rest to make you feel like a million bucks.  I'm totally chomping at the bit to get back to it so hopefully my PT gives me the green light tomorrow.  We're heading up to our friends cottage on Wednesday for three days so I'll be bringing my wetsuit and my bike for sure.  I'm actually really looking forward to getting in to the water.   I know right???  Me the big 'fraidy cat!  I can't believe I just wrote that.  But it's true.   I think I'm starting to turn the corner.  I guess we'll see what happens when I toe the line at the sprint triathlon next weekend.

Since we're on vacation this week, I haven't done any menu planning.  I am going to finally make those energy bars from the No Meat Athlete that I talked about a couple of weeks ago.  I didn't end up making them because that was the weekend I injured my calf so I spent that afternoon sprawled on the couch with my leg elevated.  But, if I'm going to be riding my bike this week, I'm going to need something so I'll make those and bring them with me to the cottage.   I've also got a bunch of tomatillos that need to be used so I'm going to make some salsa verde.  I'm thinking that might be mighty tasty on some grilled chicken.  Other than that, we're just going to wing it for the next couple of days.   That's what being on vacation is all about.

Have you got a vacation coming up?  If so what have you got planned?