Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Sunday Ritual, A Mile & Another Busy Week

Another weekend is almost over and I hardly feel like I've had time to breathe, let alone relax.  Last week was a crazy week at work and I spent all day Friday on location at a farm.  I didn't get home until almost 7:30 pm, then we went right back out to a friends place for dinner.  I finally collapsed into bed around midnight.  I didn't want to sleep in too late on Saturday because I had a 32km run scheduled.  I dragged my butt out of bed around 7:30 am and I finally got out the door around 9:30 am.  The run started off really well but then I started to fall apart around the 26km point.  I don't think I hydrated well enough.  I toughed it out and finished with a slight negative split.  Not bad for a hilly run.  Then it was off to a neighborhood art show (bought another small painting) then it was off to the Running Room to spend my winnings from last weeks half marathon.   I've stocked up on GU and Roctane so I should be good for the next little while.  After that, it was time for the highlight of the weekend: The West Toronto Pacers First Annual Beer Mile.
We had a great turnout.  About 20 people, including some non-members.  What a blast.  Apparently the beer I chose wasn't "legal".  It was 5% but the bottle size was only 341ml instead of 355ml.  So I had to dig through the coolers to find some "legal" cans.   I found 2 cans of Steam Whistle and opted to drink those in conjunction with the ones I had brought.  Almost everyone else was drinking 330ml cans.  I had some technical issues opening my first can which put me back a lot.  I was one of the last people to actually start running.  That first lap wasn't too bad.  Lots of burping.  The worst part was my legs.  After 32km I didn't have much spring in my step.  The second lap wasn't too bad either and I was actually able to pick up speed.  The third lap was when it started to go downhill.  And the 4th lap was just plain ugly.  I didn't even make it through my 4th beer.  I think I drank 2/3 of it.  So gross.
By the time I crossed the finish line I was pretty drunk.  I actually had to lie down.   My final time was just over 12 minutes.  My friend Kiki took a hilarious shot of me curled up with my head on someones knapsack and an open can of beer in my hand.  But I made it through without puking and I was able to walk.  I probably could have walked to the pub but since Gary drove, I got a ride.  Everyone enjoyed themselves and it will now become an annual event.  So I've now got one more thing to train for next year.
Pre Beer Mile:  Busting out the Festive Head Gear.

Me and my Non Compliant Beer. 
Finally Done.  I totally felt like dying.
Getting hugs from the Women's Winner.
Drunk faces.
I was exhausted after yesterday's activities.  We got back from the pub and I was in bed asleep by 8:30 pm.  I felt like I was coming down with a cold so I figured I good solid nights sleep would help.  I slept till 6:30 am.  I debated skipping my Sunday swim but since I have to be at work for 6:30 am tomorrow, that means I'm missing my Monday swim.  So, I dragged my butt out of bed and made it to the pool.  Nothing like a tough pool workout to totally tire you out.  I swam 3300m this morning in about 1:15:00.  Now I'm completely exhausted.  

This coming week is going to be much like last week.  Super busy.  It's also a short week for me.  We're closing on Friday for the Thanksgiving long weekend.   I still have a few burgers left in the freezer + some leek and mushroom soup that I made last week.  I need to replenish our veggies though, they are running low.  Next weekend I'll actually take the time to get some good solid food prep done.  This week, I'm going back to my breakfast fritatta except this time around I'm going to make little individual ones in my muffin tin.  We'll see how that works out.  I'm also going to cut up some veggies to bring with me to location tomorrow so I make sure that I've got some healthier options for snacking.  I did ok on Friday although I did end up indulging in chips later on in the day.  So other than my snacks, it's going to be a week of winging it.  I'm more than likely going to be very late tomorrow night, Tuesday night I'm running, Wednesday night I've got a massage scheduled after work and Thursday night we're out for dinner for a friends birthday so Friday night will probably be the first night all week that I actually make dinner.  That's what I'd call a busy week!

Sorry I'm not posting any recipes today.  I've decided to save that for tomorrow.  Given that tomorrow is October first, I figured I'd start off the Month of the Pumpkin with a recipe featuring that glorious orange gourd.  In fact, every Monday throughout the month of October, I will be featuring one of my many favourite pumpkin recipes so be sure to come back for those!

What sort of craziness do you guys get up to this weekend?  

Beer Mile pics courtesy of Carmen Schwalm and Kiki Cloutier.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Empties & Miling: Celebrating the Beer Mile

Runners have always been known to do some crazy things and for some those crazy things involve drinking.  There are people known as Hash House Harriers, who often describe themselves as drinkers with a running problem.  I'm convinced that the idea of the Beer Mile started with them. 
If you ask me, the Beer Mile gives an entirely new meaning to the term empty miles.  What on earth is a Beer Mile you ask?

The gist of a Beer Mile is this:  You drink a beer, and you run a lap around a track.  4 laps=1 mile.  4 laps also equals 4 beers which, for some of us lightweights, can be disastrous.  There are actually official rules that can be found here.   The one I like best is if you vomit, you have to do another lap.  That's just plain cruel.  At least you don't have to drink another beer.  I actually think that would be worse.

Beer Miles have become somewhat of a yearly tradition amongst running clubs across North America.  Some do them mid-summer after the spring marathon season is over and others do them in late fall after the fall marathon season is over.  My running club is doing our first ever Beer Mile tomorrow afternoon.  Sure, marathon season isn't over yet but a few drinks never hurt anyone.   Considering I'm planning on doing my long run tomorrow morning, I'll need to replenish my fluids and carbs anyway.  I've done 2 Beer Miles under the old rules, which were that women only had to drink 3 beers.  They've now changed that to 4.  And the beer cannot be light beer.

I have a sneaking suspicion that tomorrow is going to be messy.

I have two goals for tomorrow's event:

1) No puking

2) To be able to walk to the pub afterwards without anyone's help.

As for my beverage of choice, well, it has to be something with at least 5%.  I'd love to drink Innis & Gunn but at 6.6% or 7.4% for the Rum Spice one, I'd be flat on my face after the first lap.  So, if I can find some Blanche de Chambly in a normal sized bottle, I'll go with that.  Hopefully it doesn't taste too bad when I spend 400m burping it. 

 Here's to no puking and not crawling! 

Have you got anything fun planned for your weekend?

Have you ever done a Beer Mile?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Playlist Thursday: All Around the World

Here we go with another edition of Playlist Thursday.  This one is a veritable free for all, literally.   This week's them is Viewer's Choice so we can literally pick whatever we want.  I am really looking forward to checking out all the other participants selections!  I know I could have bored you all with another all Rush playlist but I decided to branch out a bit more.  Ok, a LOT more.  I'm taking my playlist international.  Yup, I'm going all around the world for this one, with stops in Iceland, NYC via Ukraine and Brazil.  Get ready for an explosion of diversity.

Playlist Thursday "Rules":

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.

Make sure you check out Brian's blog for an updated playlist catalogue.

Something Old 

Artist:  Gogol Bordello
Title:  Wanderlust King
Notable: I think the term Gypsy Punk was invented to describe their music. I also find it impossible to be in a bad mood when I listen to this song.  If you ever get a chance to see these guys live, I highly recommend it. 
Quotable: "I traveled the world looking for understanding, of the times that we live in, hunting and gathering first hand information, challenging definitions of sin."

Something New

Artist:  Of Monsters and Men
Title:  Little Talks
Notable:  Another great band out of Iceland.  I really love their sound.  Her voice is lovely and I find the tone of this song so uplifting.
Quotable: "Though the truth may vary this ship will carry our bodies safe to shore"

SomethingTo Consider

Artist: Bebel Gilberto
Title: Sem Contenção
Notable:  I love love love this woman's voice and I love the spin she puts on her native Brazilian music.   Sem Contenção translates to No Holding Back. 
Quotable: "Sem contenção só na emoção prá ser feliz sem resistir de um puro não prá explicar essa tua intenção"

What do you think?  Was it diverse enough?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Putting It All Together: Oakville Half Marathon Race Report

I had absolutely no expectations going in to this race. I knew what I had been capable of early in the year and I figured I was just starting to find my stride again so I was content to just go and try to race a smart race and work on my fueling strategy both pre-race, during the race and post-race.  I nailed the first two.  Post race probably could have been a bit better but I'm feeling good today so I suppose it wasn't that bad.

When I had told G that I was going to register for this race, he said ok, sign me up too.  Um.  What?  You see, the hubs "doesn't like to run" (a direct quote, odd for someone who does triathlon).  He "doesn't see the dollar value in running races" (another direct quote).  I kinda get him on the last one.  Road races have become increasingly expensive, almost as expensive as some triathlons we've done.  So you can imagine my surprise when he said he wanted to race.  His longest run heading into this race was 17km and that was about 3 weeks out from race day.  I won't even get in to his rather lax training schedule.  Actually I won't even call it a training schedule.  To use the word schedule implies that there was some sort of planning or forethought.  There wasn't really any of that.  He just keeps active.  He'd been coming out to my run group since late summer, then I got injured so he stopped going.  He went back when I went back but then missed a bunch of workouts due to work travel.  He'd ride his bike once, maybe twice a week and then he'd swim about 3 times a week.  He did about 5 weeks worth of long runs before this race.  He used to be really fast then had knee surgery 2 years ago.  Only really started running with some regularity this year.  Obviously that speed is not totally gone because he pulled off a 1:40:49 and that was with a bathroom break!

Yeah, I know genetic freak of nature.

Anyway, I was happy that we were going to be racing together for a change.  Usually he's my chauffeur, toter and picture taker so this was a nice change of pace for both of us.  Kinda takes me back to our roots, sniff sniff.

The race was in Oakville, about a half hour drive from our place on good day.  Considering the race started at 7:45 am we figured traffic on the way out wouldn't be an issue.  Finding parking was also not going to be a worry because the race was offering shuttles from the Bronte Go Station down to the start as there was no parking allowed on the race site.  Sweet.  The only issue was that the last shuttle bus was leaving at 6:30 am.  A full hour and 15 minutes before the race was scheduled to start.  Meh.  We got to the parking lot with about 10 minutes to spare.  There was already a long line for the bus so we left the warmth of the car to get in line.  I was totally bundled up so I actually didn't feel too bad.  The bus ended up having the heat cranked up full blast so I was nice and toasty by the time we were let out down the road from the start.

It was dark as we walked over to the park but I could see the sky starting to turn that deep shade of blue that happens just before the sun rises.  I figured by the time we got to Coronation Park, we'd be in for a treat.  The park is situated right on Lake Ontario.  It's a beautiful spot with a nice little beach.  As I suspected we were treated to a stunning sunrise.

Drama shot.
 The original forecast had called for clouds with some showers.  I'm assuming that the clouds the weatherman saw were the ones that were hovering out over the lake.  By the time the race started, even those clouds were gone.  The clear skies made for one nipply morning.  It was about 6 degrees.  I knew once the sun came up that it would warm up a bit but there was a decent breeze coming off the lake so I figured it wouldn't get much warmer than about 9 degrees or so.  I prefer racing in the cooler temps and 9 degrees is pretty much perfect. 
The race was fairly small, I think they said there were 2000 people in total between the 10km and the Half Marathon combined.   Bag check was organized and the surrounding area was populated with picnic tables so there were lots of places to sit and get yourself sorted.  We hit the porta potties as soon as we got to the race site which was good because about half an hour later the line up was all the way out on the road.  G said it seemed to move quickly so they obviously had enough for the size of the crowd. 
In keeping with the smaller, community race vibe, a couple of young, very peppy ladies got up on the bandshell stage and took the crowd through a 20 minute workout style warm up.  Minus the gratuitous butt waving and jogging on the spot.  It was kind of like a slo motion dance routine.  I did my own dynamic warm up and then went off to do my warm up run.  On my way back, I had to hit the bushes for a final pit stop.  Not an easy thing to do when you're in park by the lake.  Definitely lacking for coverage.  No matter, i've gotten pretty stealthly at this stuff.  Made it back to G for a pre-race selfie and then I quickly stripped down to my race ensemble.
What the hell am I looking at? 
 We wandered over to the start line and G ducked into the porta potty line once again.  I think the race day jitters had gotten the better of him.  I went out on to the road, took my pre-race Roctane and did a few pick ups.  I ran into a friend of mine, Teresa, who was also racing and I chatted with her for a bit.  I wasn't feeling the least bit nervous.  Not at all.  It was weird.  I guess I just figured my body was going to do whatever my body was going to do that day.  I just had to pay attention to my fueling strategy and be smart.  I found G again and we found a spot in the sun as he was freezing cold.  Kevin MacKinnon was announcing and he started to get everyone organized and up towards the start line so I gave G a kiss for good luck and made my way towards the front of the pack.  I situated myself about 1/4 of the way back in the field which was perfect.

The gun went off and I crossed the line, having to hit my Garmins start button several times before I actually managed to get it to start.  I eased into a 4:45 pace as I had to get around a few slower people in the first 600m or so.  I eventually climbed to a 4:00 min/km pace and realized that my breathing was ragged so I eased off a bit.  I was hovering around 4:15-4:25's.  That was where I seemed to be most comfortable.  I kept watching women pass me and I thought to myself "Holy crap this is a really fast field of ladies."  Cory Freedman passed me and I figured her and I were about the same speed so I tried to keep her in my sights.  I wasn't going to push too hard just yet.  Besides, I really didn't feel good.  It took me till about 6km in before I actually started to feel strong and somewhat comfortable.  My breathing had settled down and I found a good pace.  I made sure that I was taking half a GU every 15 minutes and drinking at every aid station or whenever I felt like it.  I think that strategy worked out perfectly.  At about 7km I caught Cory and another girl that had passed me earlier.  I pushed the pace a bit here because I didn't want them to catch me.

The first 6km of the race is fairly flat.  You run through downtown Oakville, which is quite pretty and then just before 7km you turn north into a residential area.  You wind your way through this area for a good 4 km before you come out and start heading west.  There are a few small rollers in through here.  There wasn't much in the way of crowd support either.  I saw a few folks on their driveways, coffees in hand, cheering people on.

Once we got out of the residential area, we were running into the wind.  I had been caught by a solidly built bald guy and we shadowed each other from about the 10km mark.  Once we started going west, we were running into the wind so I ducked behind him.  He was running steady at 4:20's which was perfect.  Occasionally, he'd put in a bit of surge to 4:15's but I stuck with him.  He saved my ass for sure.  Had I had to run into that wind on my own, I would have struggled a lot in the last 3km.  At about 15km, he started to pull away and I didn't go with him.  There were 3 other guys that were nearby, one in an Around the Bay shirt so I stayed behind him.  He was running about 4:25's.  I felt that was a bit too slow but I knew that if I went out in front of him that I'd probably slow down even more or I'd have to work that much harder to stay at that pace so I opted to stay behind him.
There were a few folks around cheering but again, not too many.  I didn't notice too much as I was concentrating on not tripping on the guys feet in front of me.  Yeah, that's how close I was to him.  He also saved my ass.

I knew that as soon as we turned off Rebecca Street I'd be out of the wind.  I was still feeling relatively good.  Relative being the operative word.  I suppose I was feeling as good as possible for being at almost the 18km mark of a half marathon.  I figured once I got out of the wind, I'd start to try to pick up the pace.  Sure enough as soon as we turned south, I felt like the chute had been put away and I started to pull away from my Around the Bay Windblocker.  It was a slight downhill so I took advantage of that and pushed hard.  I could see another girl, one that had blown by me early on, just ahead of me.  I was starting to close in.  We were crossing back into downtown Oakville again and there were a lot more people out and cheering.

We crossed Lakeshore and went westbound again for a bit towards the Harbour and then did a little loop that brought us back up to Marine Drive.  It was quite pretty in through here.  The wind was now at my back and I was going full throttle.  Averaging 4:10's roughly.  I was getting closer to my target.  My Garmin said we were almost at 20km but either it was off or the course markers were off.  I had noticed a discrepancy since the second kilometer and it just got worse as the race progressed.  We rounded a bend and I was withing striking distance.  We were closing in on the 20km marker when I caught her.  I ran behind her for a few steps and then came around to pass her.  I thought she might go with me but she didn't.   Whew!  That didn't mean I could ease up.  I continued to hammer for all I was worth.  I wanted to come in sub 1:34 and I was going to be cutting it close..  I saw the crowds getting bigger, I saw Kelly from Team RF Milton with a camera so I waved as she cheered me on.  I knew I was just around the corner from the entrance to the park.  I came flying around the corner and down the finishing chute, my calf just starting to cramp.  I looked up to see 1:33:44.  Whew, I just made it.  I looked at my Garmin and it read 21.44 and that was with me starting it late.  So I think the course was probably closer to 400m long.  I chatted with a few other runners after the race and they all said the same thing.  So, there is a chance I could have had a PB.  Ah well. Gotta remember that not every race is going to be a PB. 

I got my medal and food and ran into one of G's old co-workers, Chris, who had come down to cheer him on.  I chatted with him for a while then went to get my bag (which was super speedy) and make my way to the finish line to wait for G.  Turns out I didn't have to wait for long.  Not even a minute after I got there, I see G turn the corner.  I started jumping up and down and cheering.  I figured he had to be close to 1:40.  I found him shortly after he got his medal and he said he ran a 1:40:49.  And that was with a pee break!  WTF?  Amazing. This is 2 years post knee surgery too!  I was gobsmacked. 
We stood around chatting with Chris for a while and then made our way to the picnic tables in the sun. I was curious to see where I ended up so I fought my way through the small crowd that had gathered around the results.  I was surprised to see that I actually managed second place in my AG.  They had done the AG in 10 year increments instead of the usual 5 year increments so that meant that Cory was also in my AG.  Good thing I passed her early on.  Knowing my placing, we had to stick around for the awards which they were going to be doing momentarily.  They started with the overall winners and holy smokes, there were some speedy folks in there.  Cory had come over and we were chatting and she said she figured I placed in the overall Masters Division.  I didn't even think about that.  Some races have that, some don't.  Apparently this one did.  Sure enough they started announcing the Men's Masters and then the Women's Masters.  Because the woman who won the 40-49 AG was one of the top 3 women's finishers, I got bumped up to the Overall Masters Female winner!  Woohoo!  Definitely a nice surprise. 

All in all it ended up being a great day.  It was the first time I raced feeling really relaxed.  I also think I totally nailed my hydration and nutrition strategy.  The only downside to the day was that the course was long.  The route is really nice, everything was well organized and the km's were all well marked.  The race swag wasn't bad either.  We each got a free bag of grass seed (!?!) a full size energy bar, an Oasis juice box and a bag of Werthers chocolate covered caramels, which I promptly brought to work because I don't want them in the house.  There were also several coupons for restaurant discounts which is always nice.  The Zorrell dri-fit race t-shirt is a really nice fit and all it has is the race logo on it, no sponsors logos messing it up which I quite like.  The late entry fee wasn't even that bad either.  I think it was $75 including tax and the online processing fee.  I would definitely do this race again...hopefully next time they measure the course correctly!
Not a bad looking medal either.

Next up, the Scotia Half on October 14th. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Sunday Ritual & Another Race!

I can't believe it, another whirlwind weekend is almost done.  I think this whole two day weekend thing is really just plain wrong.  Two days is far too short to really decompress from a stressful week of work, get your weekend errands done and get some good down time in there.  A three day weekend would make so much more sense.  You'd have a bit of extra time to get things done and get some good chill out time in there.  But, I don't make the rules so I'm stuck with a 2 day weekend.  Might as well make the most of it, which I definitely managed to do.

I spent Saturday morning running around and getting a Computrainer lesson from G.  I spent the afternoon meal planning, did a little cooking and tried to stay off my feet as much as possible as I was going to be racing this morning.   I hit the sack around 9:30 pm and slept relatively well until my alarm went off at 4:45 am.

G was going to be racing with me.  It had been 10 years since his last half marathon!  10 years!!!  He's spent the majority of those years doing triathlons which has kept him in pretty decent shape.  He wasn't sure what to expect today and neither was I to be honest.   I'll save my full race report for tomorrow but I'm pleased to say that we both had great days.  G finished in 1:40:49, which is a PB for him by at least 7 minutes if not more.  Not bad considering he's getting up there in years and has just started really running again over the last couple of months.   I managed to snag the Overall Masters Female win with a time of 1:33:36 on a course that was about 500m too long.  So realistically I would have been sub 1:32 had the course been correct.  I might have even had a PB.  Oh well.  I'm not too fussed about that though.

We were back home by 10:45 am.  Gotta love that.  I've managed to have a nice hot epsom salts bath, make myself some food and now I'm sprawled out in the good corner of the couch (G is off to Washington for work) in my Salmon compression capris.  I think I'll probably spend the next few hours here until I feel ready to stand in front the stove and finish up the rest of my Sunday Ritual.

On tap for this week:

Mashed cauliflower (currently cooking), roasted fennel (all done) and this soup.  I may add some sauteed ground chicken to the soup to get some protein in, instead of the pasta.  This bit of cold weather has me craving soup and comfort food.  I also have to make my frittata.  I alternated between eggs and quinoa last week for breakfast.  I didn't mind the quinoa but I think I prefer eggs in the morning.   Yesterday I used up the rest of the basil from the garden as well as a bunch of cherry tomatoes to make a Mediterranean inspired dish with eggplant and extra lean ground beef from Gourmet Nutrition Vol 2.  I'll top it with a bit of feta cheese when I re-heat it.  It's the perfect thing I can freeze as well so I have one container in the fridge and the other in the freezer.  Lunch is taken care of for 2 days this week.  Awesome.  If I get my soup made, that will cover me for another couple of days and perhaps a dinner.  And, I still have a couple of chicken burgers from last week in the freezer.  All sorted for the week.
Melanzana Riccha (eggplant in a meat sauce)

Roasted Fennel
 I had another good week of training this week.  I didn't get a bike ride in despite getting a new toy this week.  Shocking, I know.  I'll make sure I get a ride in this week.  I had several really strong swims this week and 2 really good runs, along with a solid race.  Here's how my week panned out training wise.

Monday:  Swim:  Fin & stroke work with snorkel.  2150m  This was tough.  Snorkel work is always hard. 

Tuesday:  a.m.:  Run and weights.  Did 20 minutes on the treadmill (4:06km) and then 40 minutes of weight work.  p.m:  ran with my group.  Did East to Ellis which is a really hilly route.  10.80km in 49:49.

Wednesday:  Swim:  2250.  Lots of stroke work again. 

Thursday:  40 minutes of weights and 9.28km run with 4x hill repeats and a serious set of stairs.

Friday:  Swim:  2100m.  Another day of stroke work.  Led the lane for most of the swim. 

Saturday:  OFF

Sunday:  3.04km warm up then 21.5km race. 


Swim:  6500m
Bike:  nada
Run:  48.68km
+ 1hr 20 minutes of strength training for just under 8 hours of workout time.

Another productive week.  Looking forward to doing it all over again next week.

What did you get up to this weekend?  Did you race?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Let's Go Racing!

Well folks, tomorrow will be the first long distance race I've done since May.  The G-Man and I are doing the Oakville Half Marathon.  Usually I get a little nervous the day before but today I'm remarkably calm.  Probably because I have absolutely no expectations.  This is just a test to see where I'm at.   I'm not trying to go out and set a PB.  I'm going to take this opportunity to practice my race day fueling strategy for NYC and enjoy doing what I love to do:  push myself. 
My legs have been feeling great this week.  I've had two really solid training runs and I've taken today off so my legs should be nicely rested for tomorrow.  I'm really looking forward to letting loose.  I've got 25km scheduled which is perfect.  I'll do a 4km warm up and then be ready to race.  It's supposed to be quite cold tomorrow so I've dug out the throw away gloves and my Team RF arm warmers.  I'll be sticking with my tried and true CWX tri-shorts, my Compressport calf sleeves, my fitted New Balance t-shirt and my Team RF singlet.  That should be just perfect.

And of course, I'll be wearing my awesome purple Mizunos.  Here's hoping for a very Mezamashii run.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Playlist Thursday: Just Dance!

Yeah it's Thursday! That means one day closer to Friday and of course,  Playlist Thursday.  I've been working on this one since Tuesday.  In fact, I spent the entire day Tuesday listening to the first artist on this playlist, trying to figure out which song of theirs to put on this weeks list.   This week's theme is entitled "Songs that Make You Want To Dance" which means that I spent a lot of time chair dancing in my office.  Thank God I have a door that I can close.  Other than running, I think dancing has to be one of my absolute favourite things to do.  Nothing is more satisfying than dancing till your feet hurt and you're covered in sweat.  It's no wonder I like it so much...sounds a lot like running. 

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.

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

Something Old:
Artist: Jamiroquai
Title: Canned Heat
Notable:   Seriously, how can you NOT bust a move to anything these guys do.  It's like disco for the new millennium.  When this album came out in 1999, it never left my CD player for what seemed like months.  I loved pretty much every song on it.  And just LOOK at JK dance.  Amazing.
Quotable"Dance, nothing left for me to do but dance off these bad times I'm going through, just dance, got canned heat in my heels tonight"

Something New:
Artist:  Electric Guest
Title This Head I Hold
Notable:  The first time I heard this song, I couldn't get it out of my head.  It's so bloody catchy.  I know for a fact that I do that weird little hand dancing thing every. single. time. this comes on my playlist. 
Quotable: "So find me stuck in some scene, I want to get out but there's no in between."

Something To Consider:
Artist: The English Beat
Title:Mirror in the Bathroom
Notable:   Another song that totally defined my teen years and one that has been on my playlist forever.  I saw these guys a few years ago at Lee's Palace.  A tiny little club that probably holds 500 people maximum.  When this song came on the crowd went into an absolute frenzy.  I left that club completely covered in sweat and my feet hurt from dancing so much.  One of the best live shows I've seen in a long time.
Quotable"Mirror in the bathroom, please talk free, the door is locked just you and me."

Are you up and dancing yet?  I know I am!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Christmas Already?

For the last couple of months, I have been going on about how, in the off season, I'm going to work on my biking.  Not like the last 2 years where I've said the same thing and not really done anything about it.  This time I'm serious.  I had said to the G-man that I'd love to get a Computrainer.  He said maybe that's what he'd get me for Christmas.  Maybe.  So I left it at that.  Sometimes maybe means yes, sometimes it doesn't.  If I was lucky, once and while he'd let me use his.  It's an incredibly useful training tool especially when you're stuck riding inside for 4 months of the year.  Holy smokes what a work out.  I work way harder on this thing that I do just riding my regular trainer, especially if I'm riding a pre-programmed course.

Since it's only mid September, I haven't quite finished riding outside yet but I have retired my tri bike for the season.  It's taken up it's usual position,  mounted on my Elite trainer, in front the of TV, not too far from the fan, ready for action. 

When I came home last night,  G was downstairs in the basement puttering around.  I yelled hello and asked him what he was doing down there.  "Being nice to you", was his response.  Oh really?  Of course I had to investigate.  So I wandered downstairs to see him crouched in front of my bike mounting the controls to what I thought was his Computrainer to my aerobars.  "I said Oh nice you're hooking up your Computrainer to my bike, that's so sweet."  He looked at me funny.  I then looked back to see that the trainer / flywheel part of his Computrainer was still sitting there with no bike on it.  I looked back at my bike and saw it sitting on a red trainer.  Wait a minute.  My trainer is yellow.  What the hell?  I then started laughing hysterically and jumping up and down like a 5 year old.  Christmas came early to the Kennedy Compound.  The G-man had got me my very own Computrainer. 
The basement training den is now complete!
There is manual for this that I apparently have to read.  Ugh.
I can't even begin to tell you how PUMPED I am about this.  I actually cannot wait to be holed up in the basement watching movies and sweating buckets.   I know, I'm just a little demented.  Don't get me wrong, I'd much rather ride outside but given that I live in the Great White North, that's not always possible in the winter months.  A Computrainer is the next best thing to getting the same kind of workout as riding outside.  In fact, I think it's actually harder because there's no coasting.  When you're going "downhill" on this thing, you still need to pedal because your little on screen icon stops moving.  Your legs don't get a break. 

Not only do I think this will help improve my cycling, I also think it will be beneficial to my running as well.  I plan on sticking to my FIRST training plan for Boston (3 days of running a week) and I will continue with 1 day a week of cycling, along with swimming and strength training.  Once Boston is done, I'll add another day of cycling in and then I should be good to go for a solid season of triathlon racing. 

I am still pretty gobsmacked that the G-man did this.  It was a pretty amazing surprise to come home to, especially on a Monday.  I think this is hands down the best surprise that I've ever gotten from G.  Well done G-Man, well done.

What's the best surprise your significant other has given you?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Sunday Ritual, A Different Path & A Reboot

Yes, it's Sunday again.  Normally I'd be writing this sprawled on the couch recovering from my long run but, I decided to dice things up this weekend and do my long run yesterday so I could swim and ride today.  Not only did I run yesterday, but, instead of following my usual westbound route along the lake, I opted to run east and then north up the Humber River Trail.  I hadn't run up that trail since late last year so I figured it was high time.  I also figured a hilly-ish long run would do me some good because NYC is not flat.  At least that's what I've been told.  So I went Eastbound yesterday and I'm so glad I did.  Even though my legs didn't feel great, I felt energized to be running somewhere different.  I also discovered a new path that is partially completed.  Right now they are working on extending it east to Marina Del Rey / Humber Bay Park.  I'm hoping that they will also extend it in the other direction because it would be so nice to run right along the water instead of running along the sidewalk on Lakeshore.  It was a nice little diversion off of Lakeshore even if it was only about 5 minutes.  The view of the city and the Etobicoke yacht club wasn't too shabby either.

Interesting name, especially since it was anything but linear!

Etobicoke Yacht Club
I had hoped to be out on the road by 8:00 am but that didn't happen.  I was tired and really dragging my butt so it was closer to 9:00 by the time I actually left the house.  It was a gorgeous day out so it was a busy morning on the paths.  Lots of runners, cyclists, walkers, you name it, they were out.  And why wouldn't you want to be outside on a day like yesterday?  Days like this are going to be few and far between in a couple of months so we might as well get out and enjoy it now!
Eastbound at Humber Bay Park.  
The temperature was perfect.  I almost wished I had a tank top on when I was in the sun but most of this run was in the shade and there was a cool-ish breeze so I was actually quite comfortable.  Once I hit Humber Bay Park East, I turned north and followed the Humber Trail.  There are a few rollers on the way out but for the most part is a gradual climb.  You are working just hard enough on the way out.  It's mostly bike path but it's peppered with a bit of dirt and gravel trail which I quite like as well.  I wasn't sure how far up I'd get.  I guessed that I'd make it to at least Dundas maybe further.  I was way off, I made it way past Dundas and almost up to Eglington before I turned around.  I was hoping I'd be able to maintain a sub 5:00 min/km pace but my legs had other plans, especially for the first half hour of the run.  But, I managed to pick up on the way back, especially since it was downhill.  I think this past week of not enough sleep, less than optimal eating and a deep tissue massage that I hadn't quite recovered from all played a part in my slower than normal pace.  But, whatever, we're all going to have days like that so I didn't worry too much about it.  Especially when you've got scenery like this to distract you.
Fly fishing in the Humber River

Into the Light
The important thing is, I got it done.  I actually quite liked doing my long run on Saturday.  It's nice to have a quasi lazy Sunday.  Sure I still got up early to do my swim but I was back home by 9:45 even with a stop at the grocery store.  Love it.

After last week's horrible eating, it's time for me to get back on the wagon.  By the end of last week, I felt gross and bloated.  I hate feeling like that so it's time to re-stock the freezer.  I've been a busy little lady this afternoon.  I cleaned out and re-organized the fridge.  I finally used one of the 2 heads of cauliflower I bought last week.  I cut it up and roasted half of it with garlic, olive oil and lemon.  Easily reheated or eaten cold.
The other half I cooked in 1/4 cup of water + 1/2 a can of coconut milk until it was really soft.  I tossed in a few cashews that I had kicking around as well.  Once the coconut milk had cooked down, I turned the heat off and let it sit for about 15-20 minutes.  I mashed it up with a fork and then took my immersion blender to it and whipped it to a nice smooth consistency.   I think that will be part of my dinner tonight.
Mashed cauliflower goodness.
I've been wanting a change of pace for breakfast so instead of making my usual frittata / quiche, I decided to make a couple of mini ones and then cook up some quinoa to have on the days I'm not eating these.  I could have made them crustless but I kinda like the crust.  I didn't think a chick pea crust would go well with the ingredients I had on hand so I opted to make one out of ground flax and hemp seeds.   The filling consisted of sauteed spinach, smoked salmon and goat cheese.  Had I actually had dill, I would have put that in as well.   I think they look pretty good.  We'll see how they taste.  The good news?  I actually had the foresight to write down the recipe! 

Smoked Salmon Mini Quiche
Smoked Salmon Mini Quiche

1/4 cup of flax meal
1 TBSP of hemp seeds
2 TBSP of egg whites
dash of salt

Mix ingredients together in a bowl.  Divide in half and press into an oiled ramekin.  

You could probably skip this next step if you want but I like a crunchy crust so I opted to bake the crust for 10 minutes at 400 degrees.

Let crust cool and pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.


1 generous handful of spinach, roughly chopped. 
1/2 tbsp of olive oil + a splash of water to sautee spinach in.
1 large piece of smoked salmon cut into pieces
1 TBSP of goat cheese
1 egg
2/3 cup of egg whites
1/2 tsp of dill (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Sautee spinach in oil and water until wilted.  Add to ramekin.  Add cut up salmon.  Beat egg and egg whites, season with salt and pepper, add dill if using and mix in.  Divide evenly between ramekins.  Break up goat cheese and drop into egg mixture. 
Place on top rack of oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until mostly set.  I tried not to cook them until completely done as I will be re-heating them for breakfast and didn't want them to be over cooked.

That will be my breakfast tomorrow.  Can't wait!  I just finished cooking chicken burgers from a Martha Stewart recipe that I tweaked a bit.  Will have to post that one later on this week.  I am hoping to be able to make this recipe later on this evening, I'll just have to figure out what flour to substitute as I'm running very low on almond meal.  I do love me some pound cake and this one looks pretty darn good.  I'll have to remember to portion and freeze it asap so I don't eat half of it one go!

Despite my busy week, I still managed a decent week of training.  I worked really late on Thursday so I was planning on taking Friday as my day off.  It's just as well, I was totally zonked by then.  This is how it all went down this week.

Monday:  1600m swim

Tuesday:  a.m. 2.96km on the treadmill at the gym + 40 minute weight workout.   P.M. 9.82 km tempo with hills.

Wednesday:  2200m swim.  Desperately needed massage in P.M.  

Thursday:  Easy-ish 8km in High Park - no weights.

Friday:  Off

Saturday:  Long run 27.66 km

Sunday:  2600m swim +1 hour on the trainer. 

Totals for the week:
Swim:  6400m
Bike:  1 hour
Run:  48.52km

+ 40 minutes of strength training.  Just over 8 hours of workouts this week.  Not bad. I suspect that total will start to climb along with my mileage over the next few weeks.  Crunch time is coming!

What did you get up to this weekend? 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Playlist Thursday - EPICness

I missed out on last weeks Playlist Thursday due to a ridiculously busy weekend / week that left me mentally drained.  But, I'm back to participate in this weeks list.  Woohoo!

It's funny that Brian decided on this weeks particular topic because when I was out running a few Sundays ago, one of my chosen songs came on and I thought "Oh Man, I should email Brian and suggest he do an Epic Songs playlist".  But, of course I forgot.  Obviously that thought got out there somehow because lo and behold, that's what this weeks theme is.   Now his definition is slightly different than my definition so I'm going to combine the two for my picks.  When I think epic, I think big powerful songs that kinda make me feel like I'm a superhero when I'm working out.  I think that some of my choices could also be considered defining "anthem" songs of a generation so I'm mixing it up a bit today.

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: The Clash
Title: London Calling
Notable:   This song (among several others) absolutely defined my early teenage years.  At the time this was as epic as it got for me.  The Clash embodied the essence of my teens, which was a lot of angst, anger and general rebelliousness.  I was that kid in all black with the weird hair.  Oh yes, my parents were proud.
Quotable"The ice age is coming, the sun is zooming in, engines stop running and the wheat is growing thin."

Something New(ish):
Artist: Muse
Title:  Uprising
Side Note: I'm totally taking liberties with this one in terms of it being "new".  It's not really but it doesn't fit into the "old" category either (it was released in 2009).  This is the song I was listening to when I was thinking about epic songs.  There's something so very...well, BIG about this song.
Quotable: "Rise up and take the power back, it's time the fat cats had a heart attack"

Something to Consider:
Artist:  Rush
Title:  Tom Sawyer
Side Note:  Listen to that drum solo.  I mean really, how on earth does Neil Peart do it?
Quotable:  "No his mind is not for rent, to any God or government"

What do you think?  Epic enough for you?
Oh and I promise that next week's list WILL NOT have any Rush on it. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

10 Personal Running Questions

Righty-o.  I love these online games of "tag".  SUAR posted her answers here and put the questions out to all of her readers.  Since she has almost a million of them, I would imagine it would be challenging to tag them all.   Join in the fun and do your own post or post your answers in the comments below.  If you do your own post, let me know so I can check it out! 

So without further adieu, here are the questions and my answers.

1) Best run ever?  I think I'd have to say The Chilly Half Marathon this year.  I threw caution to the wind and ran like my life depended on it.  Ended up winning my AG and setting a new PB a day after turning 41.  Who says you have to slow down as you get older? 
Running to the finish

Getting my goodies!

2) Three words that describe your running?  Hard, fast & strong.  Get your mind out of the gutter, I'm talking about RUNNING.
Look how red my face is! 
3) Your go-to running outfit?  Summer: My zoot ultra tri shorts and a tank top.  Fall: capris and my zoot ultra pullover when it's cooler.  Once the snow hits, I wear whatever is warmest.  I'm wearing my favourite fall outfit here, isn't it great?

4) Quirky habit while running?  If I'm really in a good groove and I'm loving the music I'm listening to, I will move my hands to the beat.  I might have to post a video of this to illustrate what I mean.

5) Morning, midday, evening?  I used to be an early morning only runner but now that I run with a group, during the week I run at night and on Sundays I run in the morning.  Although by not running early in the morning I tend to miss out on things like this now:

6) I won’t run outside when:  There is an overabundance of snow or if it's really icy.  I flipping HATE running in snow.  Seriously loathe it.  Almost as much as I loathe Honey Boo Boo.

7)  Worst Injury and how you got over it:  Rotated pelvis that caused some nasty sciatica.  I could still run, thankfully but not for very long.  Not what you want to hear when you're in the middle of training for a marathon.  It was 3 weeks of physio and daily exercises before I was good to go.  I consider myself REALLY lucky that's all I've had to deal with so far.  I really really really hope I didn't just jinx myself.

8) I felt most like a badass mother runner when:   my run split was faster than my husbands at last year's Woodstock Sprint Triathlon and again at this year's Toronto Island Triathlon.

Bringing it home at the T.O. Island Tri.

9) Next race is:  The Oakville Half Marathon, Sept 23, 2012.

10)  Potential running goal for 2013:  Normally I'd have a list because I'm ridiculously goal oriented.  But, it is only September.  Talk to me again in January.  Right now, I have one:  Break 1:30 for a half marathon. Oh and get to the start line of Boston healthy and ready to run!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Happy Anniversary - Boston 2003 to Boston 2013

Nothing like starting a Monday off with yet another race registration!  Yup, I just submitted my registration for the 2013 Boston Marathon.   The first time I did it was 10 years ago.  So you could say it's my 10th anniversary, ha ha ha.  That first time was tough.  As the title of my race report said, "It was the Best of Times, it was the Worst of Times".   Boston was my 3rd marathon and I was still a bit of a newbie runner.  I was so freaked out by the prospect of running it that I started training way too early, so I peaked way too early.  I didn't have the big endurance base that I have now so at the time I was used to an 18 week training cycle.  I started training 21 weeks out because I didn't know any better.  I didn't think the number of weeks mattered.  I figured more was better.  Lesson learned the hard way.  I had hired a coach as well, who really pushed me to work hard in training so I actually gained a lot of speed.  So, I went in to the race hoping that perhaps I might pull off a miracle and PB regardless of the fact that I felt like crap.  That didn't happen and I had one the worst days of racing of my young running career.  So much so that it took me 7 years before I decided to do another stand-alone-marathon (i.e a marathon NOT at the end of an Ironman, ha ha).

At the risk of jinxing myself (my registration hasn't been "officially" confirmed), I'm happy to say I'm going back in April of next year to see what I can do on this notoriously tough course.  To see if these last 10 years have taught me anything.  To see what this new, "older more mature" me is physically capable of.   I know that mentally I'm a lot stronger and sometimes that part is half the battle.   I honestly can't wait to toe the line in Hopkinton again.  In the meantime, I'll leave you with my race report from my first Boston Experience. 



I counted down the days like a kid counts down to Christmas, with that same anticipation and excitement.   Now the moment had arrived--I was standing at the start line of the Mother of all Marathons: Boston, surrounded by about 20,000 other runners. It was sunny and HOT.  Not what I had hoped for on race day.  At 12 noon the gun went off to a loud cheer.  8 minutes later I officially crossed the start line. The race was on.   I watched ahead of me as a rolling line of runners made their way down the first downhill drop in Hopkinton.   I ran along fairly conservatively.  I had a long way to go and I knew it was a hard course so I didn't want to burn out early.  I ran along, amazed at the number of people that lined the road along the course.  There were kids with their arms out, counting the number of high fives that they got.  There were bikers sitting on their Harleys revving their engines. It was amazing. The energy was almost palpable. The crowds were so loud that I couldn't hear my watch beep to signal my walk break. oops.   I had run for about 25 minutes before I realized I missed my first walk break.  It was VERY hard to stop and walk.   I was constantly surrounded by runners and the spectators were packed along the course so tightly there was virtually no room to walk. So I decided to walk at the water stations.  First Bad Idea.  The water stations were approximately a couple of miles apart. Stopping for water was to risk getting trampled. It was insane. I got to the first water station and promptly doused myself with water.   Second Bad Idea.  It was hot and sunny and I was working up quite the sweat. The combination of water and sweat basted me like a turkey at Christmas, guaranteed to be done at the end of 26.2 miles.

I continued on, taking some pictures as I went along (I brought a disposable camera with me). I watched my heart rate climb to 180. Yikes.  I could feel myself getting really hot. I started to slow down. The first 10km seemed to fly by as I took in the sights and sounds that make Boston the legend that it is. At the 15km mark the course seemed to level out a bit. That was when my quads started to complain. I looked at my watch and thought there is no way I'll be making sub 3:30 today. Maybe 3:35, 3:40. At about 17km I saw Santa and stopped to get my picture taken with him. He wished me luck and off I went, high-fiving some kids as I went along--a big grin plastered on my face. That grin started to fade a bit and began to be replaced with a grimace by the time I hit the 19km mark. We were back on the downhill and my left knee was hurting.  I stopped to walk.  My calves started cramping so I stopped to stretch.  I think I was stopped for at least 5 minutes.  I started up again, my legs grateful for the break.  I looked at my watch as I crossed the 20km mark.  1 hour 56 minutes. Unless I really kicked it up a notch I'd be lucky if I finished in under 3:50. Did I care?  No. I was running Boston. The fact that I got there in the first place was the amazing part.  I just wanted to finish.  That became my goal.  The thought of any sort of PB had flow out the window ages ago. I was almost halfway through and the real race hadn't even begun.

I was heading towards the halfway mark when I heard the cheers of the notorious Wellesley College girls.  I could hear them well before I could see them.  I ran up a slight incline and the crowds suddenly got bigger and a whole lot louder. The right hand side of the road was packed with girls.  All of them hollering, some holding signs, some holding their arms out to high five the runners. Their cheers were deafening and I couldn't help but smile.   I even started to pick up the pace a bit. What an amazing sight. That is a memory that will be with me for a long time.

The kms after Wellesley College were a bit of a blur.   I struggled to keep going.   My legs were very sore and tired. I wanted desperately to stop.  I looked down at my left hand, twirled the engagement ring around my finger and thought of Gary.  He said "When things get tough just look at the ring and think of me."  I wished he was there with me.  We trained together so to run without him was strange. I had to get to the finish line, not just for me but for him.   I plodded along, trying to visualize myself crossing the finish line, trying to distract myself from the isolation I was feeling.  Surrounded by people but feeling so alone: welcome to the marathon.  I thought "I am never doing this again. Ever."
At about the 28km mark I started chatting with a woman who had been running beside me for a while.  She was a fellow Ontarian, from Cambridge. We were both feeling the effects of what the Mother had served up.  We ran together for a while but I really started to hurt so I had to stop and walk.  We had gone up one hill and just passed the 30km mark. Heartbreak Hill was next.  I started running again, preparing myself for this infamous hill.  Boston college was nearby and I had heard all about the boys of Boston college and their beer.  Sure enough as I started to climb Heartbreak, the crowd dynamics change and I start to notice the frat boys, shirtless, beers in hand, shouting and clapping.  A few of them joined in the run.  Some of them tried to offer the runners beer.   I couldn't help but laugh.  The next thing I knew, I had crested Heartbreak Hill.  Hmph.  Piece of cake.

On I went, dousing myself with more water, wiping the salt and sweat from my face.   I was hot and tired and once again, ready to stop. At the 35km mark I popped a couple of Advil hoping to ease the pain I was feeling in my legs.  I ran past a mother and a daughter--the daughter was struggling and on the verge of tears she was so tired and sore. "I'm with you sister" I thought and I smiled as her mom encouraged her to keep going. The next 5km passed in a fog.   I just kept hoping to see that CITGO sign (the city marker that marks 1 mile left in the race).  All this time, the crowds never thinned out. At some points they were so dense that there was only one lane for the runners to run through.  I tried to keep my head up but I was so tired I felt like I was wilting.  My whole body was struggling to move forward.  Right, left, right, left.  And then I saw it.  The CITGO sign.   It was like a green light went on.  All systems go (or maybe the Advil finally kicked in).   I started to run faster.  The crowds were cheering, I was slapping people's hands and I couldn't stop smiling.  I was almost there.  I made my way onto Commonwealth Avenue.  I could hear the crowds down on Boylston Street cheering.  I pushed myself on.  Soon I'd be crossing the finish line.  Soon I'd see Gary.  I turned onto Boylston Street and I could see the finish line, less than 385 yards away.  I yelled "WOOHOO!"   I was grinning from ear to ear.  There was no room on the side walk there were so many people.   It was incredible.  As I came up to the finish line, I raised my arms in the air and cheered.  This journey had come to an end. I  looked at my watch 4:04:40.  Meh, big deal I just finished the Boston Marathon!!  All I could think about now was finding Gary.  After shuffling through the finishing chute, getting my medal and warmup clothes, I hobbled over to the family meeting area, trying to wrestle with all the emotions I was feeling.  As soon as I saw Gary, I broke down.  It was a combination of exhaustion, joy and relief.  Now I could check one more thing of my life's to do list.  It was the hardest race I have ever run both physically and mentally but it was the most fun I've ever had at a race. You could say it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  Would I do it all over again?
You betcha.


That 2003 race still ranks up there as being one of the toughest race experiences I've had.  10 Years later, I'll be back again for a second helping 'cause you know I'm a sucker for punishment.  

What has been your toughest race?  How did you get through it?