RBC Run for the Kids 2014

As some of you may already know, I was chosen earlier this year to be an Ambassador for the amazing RBC Run for the Kids event here in Toronto. Once I first heard about the opportunity, I knew I wanted to be involved with such a great cause. This run (5, 15, and 25K) raises funds and builds awareness for youth mental health issues – specifically, the Family Navigation Project by Sunnybrook, which is a program available to youth and their families to assist them with getting the help they need at the right time.

RBCRunfortheKids logo.jpg

Over the last few months I have been trying to spread the word off-and-online to encourage others to sign up and/or donate. You’ve probably seen all my tweets and retweets, so I certainly appreciate you sticking with me through all of this promotion and also spreading the word yourselves. I really had so much fun sharing the details of this race and cause with you and I greatly appreciate the donations I received to my fundraising page.

So, this past Saturday, a few months of training and building momentum finally came to fruition. I had been following my plan and building up the miles and I was ready to rock this 15K. I woke up earlier than I have in months at 5am and dragged myself out of bed to get ready after only about 2 hours of sleep. Trust me, I was excited, but I never sleep well the night before a race so it takes me a while to get really pumped up. Didn’t help that it was still pitch black out and that I worked late the night before, but this is what we do for that bling (aka medal). I did my usual smoothie and Clif Bar breakfast routine and by the time I got to the expo and start line, I was pumped! Everyone was already buzzing and the volunteers were cheerful… they must give them caffeine. ;) Bag check was really easy and the port-potties weren’t even that busy. Shocking.

Once I got myself to the start line, I was ready to go! The sun was coming up at that point (7am) and everyone seemed to be coming alive. There were a few speeches about the cause and then we were off! A few points about the race/course:

- I liked the course, even though there was a monster hill on Finch Avenue. ;) Also, this course was a great mix between road race and trail run through G. Ross Lord Park. The only thing that was a little strange was running down the middle of Finch, but I get that it’s difficult to close a full major road like that. It was a little scary at some points with angry traffic on both sides, but I am glad for the helpful Toronto Police officers that were around guiding/blocking the vehicles.

- The course was a little bit long. Instead of 15K it ended up measuring almost 16K in total. Not a huge deal of course, but I can tell you I was wondering where the heck the finish line was. I almost burned out during my final push because I was going by the distance on my watch. (I checked in with the other Ambassadors after the race and they all clocked almost 16K on their GPS devices as well)

- Perfect amount of water and porta-pottie stations in my opinion. At no point was I worried that I wouldn’t get a drink or have the option to go if there was an emergency.

- Great amount of volunteers along the course as well. Some of them were really friendly and cheered us on as we went by, which was quite nice. We need that enthusiasm early in the morning while we are torturing ourselves. ;)

- The post-race expo was one of the best I have ever been to. Tons of food – delicious grilled cheese, pizza, breakfast burritos, bananas, chocolate milk, coffee, etc. I was truly amazed here. The only issue for me is that I am both lactose and gluten intolerant, so the options weren’t awesome for me personally. I did have a few bites of the grilled cheese because after almost 16K, I was hungry for more than a banana. Not the smartest move for me… but I was tired and overwhelmed and just wanted to try it. I then looked longingly at the rest of the food while I filled up on the free coffee. (Side note: I did notice A LOT of non-racers taking in the expo and lining up for multiple servings of the food, which is fine, but it’s important to make sure there’s enough for all of the racers first in my opinion. Just something to look out for.)

- Post-race entertainment at the expo was awesome and fun. I enjoyed jamming along to the music while waiting to gather for an Ambassador photo and I could tell the crowd loved it too. There was also a good amount of vendors and the kids area looked pleasing to the parents.

Great group of people!

Great group of people!

Overall, I had a really great time being an Ambassador for the RBC Run for the Kids. I can’t thank everyone around me enough for their support, donations, and encouragement as I trained. My almost 16K time was 1:30:41, which I am super happy about. I’m right on par for time for my upcoming half marathon and I’m glad to see my training and hard work being rewarded. Feeling good and strong!! This race really solidified that for me, so I am grateful for having done it.

So, if you have a moment, check out what the RBC Run for the Kids is all about and consider signing up or donating next year. You will have one of the funnest mornings you can have running, while knowing that your efforts are going to one great cause.

Check out that bling!

Check out that bling!

Again, one last thanks to friends, family, race organizers and volunteers, sponsors, the Toronto Police, fellow Ambassadors, and our ring-leader, Claire. It was a blast! :)

 

 

Niagara Trip 2014

For the past four years, the boyfriend and I have made a trip (or two) to the Niagara region to check out the local wineries and then eventually make a stop at the Falls. Usually we’ve gone in the fall, which is a beautiful time of year there, but this time he had some work in the area so we went this past Saturday.

It was a beautiful late summer day, just perfect for checking out some wineries and touring around. As usual, the boyfriend is my dedicated and awesome designated driver. We’ve taken a guided tour before, but it can be quite expensive and most of the companies take you to places you’ve already been. So, I become entrusted with the tastings, which I’m not complaining about at all. ;)

Our first stop was Forty Creek Distillery, which is a locally made whisky that both of us have enjoyed a few times. It’s actually a favourite of the boyfriend’s, so we finally decided it was time to check it out. We arrived way too early for a tour, so we hung out at the tasting bar and learned about the distillery from the very friendly and helpful guy working the counter. I love when we go to these places and encounter people who seem to really like working there and are passionate about the product. We really learn a lot from these people. I tasted their Barrel Select, Honey Spiced, and a maple whisky liqueur which was amazing. I seriously wanted this stuff to make boozy pancakes… ice cream… deserts… etc. The last whisky I tried was their Confederation Oak reserve, which was incredibly smooth but still filled with lots of flavour. This visit definitely gave me the urge to visit more distilleries in the future!

peninsula-ridge-grapes.jpg

Aren’t they beautiful?

Next up was a stop at Peninsula Ridge Estates. This winery sits atop a gorgeous piece of land facing rows and rows of grapes and also has a view of downtown Toronto across Lake Ontario. At this winery I tried a Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, RosΓ©, and Syrah. These wines were quite nice and subtle, with the Unoaked Inox Chardonnay being my favourite. If you like light reds, then the Syrah Reserve would be a good choice – be sure to add some awesome cheeses to really bring out the flavours. Actually, I almost forgot – I tried their Cabernet Franc Ice Wine and it was amazing. Of course, ice wines are an acquired taste, but ever since I tried my first red a few years ago, I just can’t resist.

Up next was Hidden Bench winery, which was on a beautiful, quiet piece of land in Beamsville. Their patio looked so casual and inviting that I wish we had extra time to be able to sit and enjoy a glass, but I was happy to visit their tasting room instead. The gal working there was very friendly and informative, which I love when I enter a winery. Sometimes wine touring can feel intimidating because you wonder if you’ll be judged about how little or how much you know about wine. So, I love when I go to a place and they are not pretentious. Here I tried the Riesling, Chardonnay, RosΓ©, and Terroir CachΓ© red. The Riesling was dry, crisp, and hardly a hint of sweetness, which I really liked. Also, the Terroir CachΓ© was bold and full of flavour, quite a nice red which will be perfect for comforting fall meals.

Oh Marsanne, how I love thee.

Oh Marsanne, how I love thee.

Lastly, we made a stop at a relatively new winery called KEW. We stopped on a whim and I have to say that it was my favourite visit of the day. The tasting room is set inside a gorgeous old house that you can’t help but love. They also have a beautiful patio with a great view of the vines. Seriously, the best service of the day goes to this place. The gal helping us was friendly and you could really tell her passion for the wines by the information she provided. I enjoyed our conversations with her very much as I was able to take my time tasting their wines. Here I tried the Blanc de Noir sparkling wine, Marsanne Viognier, and Soldier’s Grant red. I found all three of these to be exceptional and full of flavour, but the Marsanne was a phenomenal surprise to me. Since I’m not well versed in wine talk, I can’t properly describe it, but I can tell you that it was delicious and definitely an all year round type of wine. I really enjoyed my experience at this winery and will probably plan to stop by next year to check out what’s new next season.

After our delightful time wine touring, we headed into Niagara Falls where I was left to pass the time while the boyfriend worked. I spent a few hours by the Falls people watching, seeing my first Elvis impersonator, and just listening to the rumble of the water. I will tell you that listening to the Falls is probably one of my favourite things. Such a powerful sound that you can’t help but feel amazed by nature. Of course… that’s if you can hear them over the huge amounts of people. ;) I kid of course, but there seriously were tons and tons of people there Saturday evening and it became a little overwhelming for this introvert. I also checked out the Fallsview Casino for the first time and boy was that place crowded too! I had a great time hanging out in Niagara, but by the time the boyfriend picked me up I was exhausted. A little too much of the crowds, noise, and drunks for me as the night went on. (Am I getting old?!)

Can you hear them now?

Can you hear them now?

Even with the end of the day exhaustion, it was still nice to get out of Toronto for the day. Wine country was peaceful and relaxing, while the city balanced that out with its craziness. Overall, a really nice way to spend a Saturday and a rest day. I now have a little stash of wine for the fall to enjoy… I might just share it with the boyfriend. :)

How are you spending your last few summer weekends?

Runtastic Orbit Review & Giveaway

*** This giveaway is now closed. Thank you to all who entered! ***

After hearing more and more people talk about how much they loved their fitness/activity trackers, my interest in these devices started to grow and I began doing a little research. I asked around on Twitter which units people preferred and I read a lot of reviews online. I didn’t end up purchasing one at the time because I wanted to sit on it for a little while to see what people were saying about the ones they had purchased. And then, in some kind of twist of fate, I was offered the opportunity to review one for my blog. Turns out the offer was to review a new tracker hitting the market from the popular app developer, Runtastic. If you don’t know much about Runtastic, you can check out their site, but you could also check out one (or more) of their cool fitness apps they have available. They have apps for running, cycling, squatting, and more. I’ve even been using their tabata timer app for a while, which I find handy for my TRX/Kettlebell workouts.

runtastic orbit box

In the box

1 Runtastic Orbit

2 Wristbands – 1 black, 1 blue + 1 Clip

1 USB charging cable

1 Quick Instructions + 1 Legal and Product Information + 1 Coloured Wristband Card

Product Summary

24 hour tracking of your activities, steps, calories, and sleep

2 different options for wearing – black/blue wristband or clip for a more discreet look

Syncs with Runtastic Me app – see more detailed views of your activities, calories, distance and sleep. Set goals and reminder vibration alarms.

Waterproof up to 300 feet (*note: I did not test this out as I have no ability to go that deep in water! I also did not wear it in the shower because there are times when I like to remove all of my jewelry and accessories)

iPhone 4S, 5, 5S, 5C and Android 4.3+ supported (but the Runtastic Orbit can run as a stand alone device if preferred)

{Link to a detailed user manual here – the Runtastic Orbit product page here}

Available for purchase on their site or Amazon.ca for $119.99 (Will be available at Canada Computers and Walmart in October)

Ok, now that you have a quick overview of the Runtastic Orbit, we can get into the more detailed portion of the review. I’ve broken this up into a couple sections to make it a little easier to read.

Wearibility (is this even a word? It is for now ;) )

Personally, I found the Runtastic Orbit very easy to wear. I read some reviews that mentioned that the wristbands were a bit large, but I did not find this to be the case. I wear larger watches and accessories quite often, so this was easy to transition into wearing. Seriously, I slept with it on and it didn’t disturb me at all, which was an original concern. I alternated between the two different colour wristbands according to my outfits, but I never tried out the clip. I preferred to wear the device like a bracelet while incorporating it into whatever outfit I was wearing that day. Also, the Runtastic Orbit can double as a watch, so it’s quite convenient to wear. The screen is bright once you press the main button to scan through the options, which is nice – made it easy to see when I wanted to check the time or steps while outside.

Functions

While wearing the Runtastic Orbit you can quickly scan through your totals for the day by pressing the silver button on the front. In this sequence you will see – time, steps, calories, and active minutes. For more details, you can easily sync using Bluetooth with the Runtastic Me app on your phone. Once synced you can see visual representations of your steps, active minutes, calories, and distance by the hour. Also, you can check out your “Sleep Efficiency” breakdown, which I found to be the most fascinating part. This screen shows you a coloured timeline that differentiates between “awake” time, “light” sleep, and “deep” sleep. I’ve always thought that I tossed and turned too much during the night and this little device actually shows me how much I do.

runtastic orbit sleepscreen

To re-charge the Runtastic Orbit, you plug the little USB charging cable into your computer and connect the other end magnetically to the back of the device. In my opinion, it does take a bit long to re-charge, which could be annoying if you really want to be tracking your steps or sleep closely. To solve this, I charged it during the day because I was more interested the sleep tracking overall.

One last small function that I found to be fun was the happiness tracking. It’s basic, but with the Runtastic Orbit you can press the silver button twice to let it know when you’re feeling happy/content. Then when you sync with the Runtastic Me app, the report will actually show small happy faces to represent when you used this feature. Sure, it’s not science, but it can be like a small reminder to consider when you’re feeling good as you are going about your day.

Accuracy

The Runtastic Orbit doesn’t have specific sensitivity settings, so the accuracy is not exactly right on point. But, this appears to be the case for most activity trackers from what I can tell. The situation here is that the device occasionally counts random arm movements as steps – unloading dishwasher, bicep curls, wildly waving arms for no reason – but, this isn’t a big deal to me because I count these movements as activity in general. If you’d like to reduce the chances of this happening though, you could always wear the device in the clip. Overall, I’m sure it over estimates a little bit, but after wearing it while running 12K I don’t think it matters. For me I look at it as counting my activity (not just actual steps) throughout the day, which is what I’m interested in seeing since I work in an office and barely move from my chair throughout my shift.

runtastic orbit mainscreen

Additional Points

Overall, I really enjoy the Runtastic Orbit. I’m finding it interesting to monitor the sleep tracking and I like the idea of working towards the steps goal. I sit for too long at my work desk, so wearing this is keeping me accountable to move around. I’ve noticed that I will also walk around now while waiting for something (like the bus or the elevator), instead of just standing still or leaning on a wall. It’s like, while I am wearing the device I feel an obligation to move – which I should be doing anyway. I’m glad to see that I have been achieving my steps every day, but the real test will definitely be the winter. I might just have to keep you posted!

Giveaway

And now to the fun stuff – the giveaway! Up for grabs is one Runtastic Orbit (pictured in package above) and here’s how to enter:

- Leave a comment telling me your favourite way to stay active and keep moving

- Extra entry – Like Runtastic on Facebook or Instagram (tell me what you did in the comments below)

- Extra extra entry – Like YogiCrystal on Facebook or Instagram (tell me what you did in the comments below)

Contest open until Wednesday, September 10 at 11:59 pm EST

Good luck!! :)

 

Toronto Women’s 10K 2014

On Saturday, August 23rd I competed in my first Toronto Women’s Run, which also happened to be my very first 10K race. I had originally planned to do the 8K Women’s Run in October, but I reassessed my goals for the season and changed to training for a Half Marathon instead. So, this 10K fit nicely into my Summer of Running schedule. Plus, on their website they mention chocolate as an incentive for the race – who can turn down the good stuff!?

Online registration was really easy and race kit pick up was a breeze. The kits are pretty basic (which I’m finding is mostly the way now), but the tech shirt they give you is awesome. The shirt just happened to be pink this year, so it’s nice to add another colour to my workout gear collection.

Why so happy?! I'm running!

Why so happy?! I’m running!

For those who don’t know, the Toronto Women’s Run Series are all done in the lovely Sunnybrook Park, which is pretty easy to get to and is definitely a nice change from running on city streets. I really enjoyed running on the paths in between the trees and taking in the nice forest smell. The race course was still open to the public, which didn’t cause any issues around me but did make me laugh when we got some strange looks from people who weren’t aware of the race. The course for the 10K was mostly flat with a few small inclines and short bridges to run across. Overall, I really liked the course – maybe I just enjoyed the seclusion of it all compared to a city street race.

On the morning of the race, I got up bright and early and had my usual smoothie for breakfast. This was the first race that my one man cheering squad wasn’t going to be able to attend due to work, so I was a little sad – seriously, who was going to take pictures of me? ;) But I got there nice and early so I would have time for the porta-potty line and bag check. I was greeted by friendly volunteers at every station, which is really nice considering how early they have to get up to be there. I spent my time alone before the race trying to get pumped up, taking in all the sights, and warming up.

The weather was cloudy and cool, but with a bit of humidity. I did not overdress this time! I’m actually pretty proud of myself for this since it’s the first time at a race that I was comfortable in my gear. I even got a few compliments on my running capris, which was nice (especially since just days before I was in the grocery store in a similar outfit and I got so many strange looks!).

Before the race started there was a fun warm up session going on while people were getting into their corrals. I chose the 50 – 60 minute corral, telling myself that I was definitely going to finish within this time period. I was pumping myself up with music and motivation! And then we were off! As I mentioned, I really enjoyed the course and the atmosphere was light and fun. At the time, I didn’t really have a game plan for this race. For my long runs I had been training with 10 and 1s, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to do this during the race – especially after my great 5K time the week before. Somehow I settled in a comfortable pace and ended up running the whole 10K without any walk breaks. Proud of myself isn’t even the word! Trust me, around 8K I was questioning myself and thinking that I should take a break. But, I also thought that I had come this far and that I was going to run the whole rest of the way. And I did! My chip time was 58:02, which I think is awesome for my first 10K race. I had the main goal of coming in under 60 mins, so you can guess that I was pretty happy.

High on endorphins & Clif Bars!

High on endorphins & Clif Bars!

I’ll tell you one thing though… when I was done this race, I was thinking that there was no way I could run 11.1 more KMs. Seriously? I’m doing this? I guess we will see. I have a 15K race next month (RBC Run for the Kids) and that’s going to be a good test. I’m ready, and even excited, to take on this challenge!

At the end of the race, they announced everyone’s name as they crossed the finish line and it felt nice. Definitely made me smile. I then grabbed my medal and water and it was time to check out the small expo they had going on. Post-race food consisted of a baggie filled with small pitas, banana, Awake Chocolate, and chips, which is a nice alternative to just the banana and water. You also had the option to grab some Clif Bar samples or Starbucks coffee and treats for a donation, which I took advantage of after I fueled myself up on the Clif Bars. What? I was hungry… and needed ALL the food. ;) I stuck around for a little while after to cheer on some runners who were still coming in and to take part in some people watching. I love watching all the happy runners after a race who are high on endorphins and getting as many pics as they can. I also listened in on the awards for overall time and categories and found it amazing how well everyone did. Such an fantastic community cheering everyone on, got to love that!

Overall, I really enjoyed this experience and had a great morning. I love how a race can renew the sense of vitality and love that we have for running. Maybe it’s the endorphins, maybe it’s the community, but all I know is that I love being a part of it. Looking forward to my next race! :)

How did your first 10K race go? Did it motivate you to run longer distances?

A Midsummer Night’s Run 2014

This past weekend I took part in my first ever Midsummer Night’s Run here in Toronto, which also happened to be my first evening run as well. I found out about this race when I attended the GoodLife Fitness Marathon expo back in May and I’ll be honest, I was tempted by the bling. They had some past medals on display at their booth that really caught my eye, so I’m not ashamed to say that I had this race on my mind for a little while before signing up.

I didn’t register right away because I was trying to decide what distance to run. Would I be ready for the 15K? Did I want to run a 15K before even doing a 10K? I thought about these questions for awhile, but finally near the end of the July I decided on the 5K. My half marathon training had gotten a little behind because of my ankle injury, so I didn’t want to push it. I decided I was going to have fun and try out this race that would be totally new to me.

This race is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, it’s in the evening, which can either be a good or a bad thing depending on when you like to race. Second, there are 3 distances to choose from – 5, 15, and 30K. Great for fun or if you’re training for longer races later in the season. Lastly, costumes are encouraged. Lots of people were dressed up for this race, which gave it a fun atmosphere (very helpful since this day ended up being grey and rainy). Seriously, do you know what it feels like to get passed by a guy in a Snow White costume? Well, I do now.

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I did it! Now, where’s the food?

Overall my experience with this race was great. Kit pick up was super easy and in a well-known place and since my bf was coming along, pre-paying for a parking spot was a breeze as well. We were able to just pull into the lot and hop on the shuttle to the start line stress free. This is good because I tend to get nerves before a race, so I don’t like to run late or have logistical issues. To be honest, I think the most nerve-wracking part was actually waiting for the race to start. Although it was a shorter distance, I still wanted to make sure I ate proper foods throughout the day and had to make sure I wasn’t feeling fatigued before the race even started. Funny enough, I don’t think I ate enough food during the day because I was super hungry throughout the whole race. Interesting challenge running with an empty, growling stomach!

From what I could tell, this wasn’t a huge race. There were lots of people there, but definitely not as many as I’ve seen at other races. Somehow there still were long line ups at the porta-potties though! Good thing there was a Tim Hortons nearby so the bf could grab a coffee to keep warm and I could use the washroom which had a much shorter line up. Yes, you read that right… he had to warm up. This was a cool, rainy night unfortunately but the rain did end up stopping during the races which was nice. Funny thing was that I came dressed for a rainy run and ended up being overdressed and warm during the race. This is one thing that I consistently do every race – I overdress. I’m not sure why I haven’t gotten this yet. Mental note for the next race… just because I am cold at the start, does not mean I will be cold the whole darn time!

The course for the 5K is flat and fast, no doubt about that. Not much scenery on this course since it’s not long enough to go into any parks and it’s still in an area that is open to the public. It was Saturday evening, so at one point I was dodging around gals all dressed up in club outfits with huge high heels on. I even overheard some people talking about how we were all crazy for being out running. That made me laugh, because in that moment I preferred to be in my running gear working my butt off instead of in uncomfortable dress clothes. Funny how that works!

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I mean, look at that bling!

Even though I was incredibly hungry and overdressed, I paced myself really well for the whole race and ended up achieving my best 5K time ever –> 26:08!! I’m so happy about this result and it feels great to see progress in my running. I placed 60 out of 450 people, which may not seem high, but that’s the highest for me – so awesome! And yes, in the end, the bling did not disappoint (although it would have been nice if they had put the medal on us, but maybe they were protecting them from the rain). The medal is large, heavy, and has a spinning moon on it – super cool! We also received a free stainless steel water bottle at the end, which was a nice touch.

Would I do this race again? Yes! I had a lot of fun and I loved the goodies (technical long sleeved shirt, cool medal, water bottle), so I’d definitely be back. It would be nice to do one of the longer distances though, because I hear they offer pins to returning racers that show how many KMs you’ve ran at this race over the years. A good way to build race loyalty!

A big thank you to the organizers and all the cheerful volunteers for putting on a great event! Thank you for dealing with the cool, rainy evening to watch us crazy runners get out there. It’s definitely appreciated! Also, a big thank you to my bf, he’s been a major supporter and my one man cheer squad throughout this whole journey. :)

Do you have a favourite medal? What race was it from?

It’s baaack…

Well, here I am again. For the second time since I started my half marathon training I am taking a short break due to an ankle injury.

I’m not sure if it was overuse or if I lost proper form during my hill training on Monday, but I have aggravated my old ankle injury and you could say that I am not too happy about it. Sure, I like running to keep myself fit and also for stress relief, but I don’t like to miss runs on my plan. I don’t like missing the training that I need so that I can do well during the half in October. But, deep down, I do know that I need the rest.

(pic credit: unknown)

(pic credit: unknown)

I actually have a 5K race on Saturday (the first in my Summer of Running), that I am mostly doing for fun and I don’t want to miss it. So, a few days rest for my ankle will be good.

I guess I am just puzzled as to how I did this again. It’s hard for me to say that it’s overuse, because I have a rest day in between all of my runs. People I know that run everyday don’t seem to end up with these injuries… so, I’m guessing I lost my form during hill training. It was my second session and was particularly vigorous, so I now know I have to watch myself. Plus, since I already injured my ankle before, I’m sure it’s more susceptible to being aggravated when I am not doing things properly.

So, for these few days during the week, I am taking it easy. Resting my ankle and doing lower impact activities, such as light weights and more yoga. I know I will feel a little bit of cabin fever, but it’s important that I take care of myself so that this doesn’t become a long-term injury (and hopefully not a constantly recurring one!). Plus, the extra yoga won’t hurt one bit! :)

Got a nagging running injury? How do you cope?

Summer of Running

running_quit_quote.png

(pic credit: unknown)

Well, it’s more like the summer-and-fall of running, but you get the idea. Yep, this year I am participating in more races than I have in total since I started running in 2009. Why? I’m not so sure, but I think I’ve got the running bug. Plus, I believe it’s all preparation for my big, crazy goal – my first Half Marathon!

Ever since I ran the GoodLife 5K in May, I’ve had the bug. After that race, I remember thinking about what my next race goal would be and I had originally decided on an 8K in October. I thought that at my pace and endurance level, that was going to be the best I could do this year. Then I don’t know what hit me, but I decided I was going to run 21.1K in October instead. Most of the time I feel good about this goal, other times I freak out and can’t imagine running that far. It’s a roller coaster ride of emotions and confidence when it comes to this sport for me. All I can hope is that I’m not alone. And all I can do is my best. I’m aiming for a finish time between 2:15-2:30, which I believe to be reasonable but I also don’t want to put too much pressure on myself for my first Half. I’m training and sticking to a plan as best as I can, and really, that’s all I can do.

So, here’s the plan for the summer of running:

5K on August 16 (really just interested in doing this for fun)

10K on August 23 (going to be my first 10K distance race!)

15K on September 20 (first one for this distance & for charity)

21.1K on October 19 (the big day!)

I think it’s a pretty good line up of races that also coincides with my training relatively well. Keeping in mind my training for the big day on October 19, I probably won’t go super hard for the 15K on September 20 – I want to do well, but I don’t want to stress/strain/injure myself before my bigger goal. I’m aware of this and planning for it, so I won’t have any let downs in regards to time on September 20.

Needless to say, I’m pretty excited about this line up for this summer. Usually I’ve only done one race per season, so this is a big step for me (5 in total from May – Oct)! I’m really challenging myself to go the distance (literally!) this year, which of course comes with some fears but also with excitement. Lots to learn this summer as I train, which I’m hoping will make me an even better runner for next year’s season!

How many races have you signed up for this summer? Any big goals?

5 Reasons Why I Run

I used to hate running. A few years ago, every single second spent running was pure torture. I couldn’t wait till my next walk break when I was doing intervals and I never used to run longer than 30 minutes. For some reason, I never experienced a runner’s high and I just couldn’t understand how people loved it so much. Seriously, I had wondered how people could even run 10K and enjoy it back then.

But, for some unknown reason, I changed.

Now, I quite enjoy throwing on my running gear and getting out the door. I’m excited to plan out my runs (first 10K training run coming up this weekend!) and track my progress with my Nike+ watch. I get pumped up at the thought of getting outside on a nice day to get exercise and fresh air. And yes, I even get excited thinking about races to do. Such a strange feeling for me now, but I’m going to continue to roll with it. (Check in with me after I run a Half to see how I feel ;) )

Recently, I saw some people on Twitter discussing the reasons why they run. Actually, I often get asked by my non-runner friends why the hell I would want to run 21K. I laugh, but then I have to think about it. So, I wanted to put together 5 reasons why I am motivated to run right now. What’s getting my butt out the door? What’s driving me to complete a speed training run when it’s 29C (84F) at 90% humidity? Well… I will tell you.

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5 Reasons Why I Run (right now)

1. Exercise – first and foremost, I started running again for exercise. Being active is important for a healthy lifestyle, so I like to mix it up with yoga, running, and weights/TRX workouts. I started by only running 2 – 3K before my weight training, but then the distances just grew from there. I registered for the GoodLife 5K in May so that I would have a goal and, well, finishing that race prompted me to want to go further. When I’ve lacked effort to get my bag packed and head to the gym, I’ve found it easier to get my shoes on and get out for a run. I love the burn and feeling great after a good run. Building endurance and keeping fit – I love it!

2. Food – yes, I know, food should not be a motivator for exercise, but right now it is. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going for a run and then eating a whole pizza. I actually eat really clean about 90% of the time, and being active helps me not to feel guilty about the less-clean 10%. That means when I have nachos or wine on the weekend, I don’t feel so bad. Plus, it’s a nice treat and I’m not good at restricting myself. (Of course, the other side of the coin is that the longer I run, the more I want to eat ALL THE FOOD. Working on this balance as I go along)

3. Community – even though I run/train alone, there are times when I still feel like I am part of a community. Mostly online through #runchat and #sweatpink, but it’s still nice to know that others out there are going through the same worries, injuries, achievements, etc. as me. It’s fun to share accomplishments with each other, while also getting a chance to vent about the struggles. Everyone is there for each other, so it’s a nice bonus to this sport. I would like to actually meet some runner friends in person, but I know that will take time. For now, my online community is the best!

4. Accomplishment – yep, there’s a certain sense of accomplishment that comes from every long run distance achieved, race completed, or injury rested through (tough to do!). Whether a PR is achieved or not, it feels great to have done something that people think you are crazy for. Doesn’t matter the distance 5K or 100K, we’re still accomplishing something and it feels good. Plus, that medal at the end of the race can be pretty cool sometimes too. ;)

5. Races – not in the sense that I will win them, because ummm no, I won’t. But, in the sense of the excitement – being there with other runners at holy crap o’clock, freezing before the race starts, and looking forward to that free banana at the end. What a rush! I just get so pumped up at races and I really enjoy the atmosphere. Plus, there’s some pretty cool races out there… like, the Star Wars Half Marathon I registered for – seriously, I can’t even wait! So, even though I am not a morning person, I still get pretty excited about races.

There you have it. These are some of the things motivating me to run right now. Keep in mind that I’ve only raced 5Ks, so I will be updating this again at a later date. Possibly during or after my training for the Half Marathon. I figure as the distances get longer, I will have to re-evaluate or be reminded of why I am running. I know there are ups & downs along the way, like with any sport, so the best thing to do is maintain a positive attitude while keeping in tune with my body. Keeping it fun is important too, because once it feels like work it just won’t get done.

What motivates you to run right now?

 

 

Sunday night… where’s your ice pack?

It’s just a regular Sunday night around the yogi household. Food prep is done, dinner is being cooked, I’m watching Supernatural, and icing my knees.

Fun times, right?

Actually, it is. Of course watching Supernatural is fun, but I’m icing my knees because I ran 9K for the first time today! My longest distance so far as I train for a 15K race in September and a Half Marathon in October. Pretty excited right now. Sure, sore knees aren’t so fun, but I know it’s because my running shoes are at the end of their life and it’s time to switch up to a new pair (which I got this weekend).

Today’s run was good, but it was also hot and humid, which I know I better get used to here in Toronto. Good thing I used the rest of my energy bits sample to get me going this morning. If you haven’t heard of them, energy bits are these little tablets made from 100% Spirulina algae. They have over 40 nutrients, the highest concentration of protein at 64%, and just 1 calorie per tab. A handful of 20-30 tabs will fill you up, meet most of your daily nutritional requirements, and give you steady supply of nourishment for that run you’re about to go on. Seriously, check out all their nutritional benefits by clicking the link here. Sure, the tabs smell a little funny, but these things are all natural and free from sugar, caffeine, preservatives, and gluten. Just the kind of stuff I like! If you’re interested, check out their site for more great info or give them a follow on Twitter – they’re fun to chat with and will answer any questions you have.

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Looking back on the the past 7 days, I think I had a pretty good training week. Did some speed training at the beginning, which went pretty well and also mixed up a shorter run day with a TRX/Kettlebell workout. I can’t really be sure, but I think my Onzie Spin Capri pants (below) helped me go faster… seriously, with those great colours, I was zooming! ;) Also worth mentioning are my Onzie Full Coverage shorts – super comfortable and great for my long run. No chafing!

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Oh yeah, can’t forget… I signed up for my first 10K race this week!! Going to run the Toronto Women’s 10K on August 23 and I am really looking forward to it. So far I’m loving the excitement of building on my endurance, while also planning out great running events. Here’s hoping this energy lasts! I know that running can be mentally and physically challenging and I don’t look forward to those days where it will bring me down, but when I’m feeling good, I am going to enjoy it. It’s good to know that there a great running community out there to help when I need (thank you #Runchat & #SweatPink!!).

Have a great week everyone and happy running!

ps. Don’t forget your yoga. Great balance with running… but, you know that. :)

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Hello July!

I know we’re half way through July already, but I still can’t believe how fast this year has gone by. Which means, less and less time to train for that half marathon I am hoping to do in October. Eek!

I’m not really sure I considered how difficult it might be to train for my first half marathon through a summer in Toronto. Yes, this city is in Canada, so we do get some cold winters, but oh my gosh the summers can be hot and HUMID. This city has sub-tropical summers and the humidity can be high from June – September at least. And if you know me, you know that I don’t like humidity. Sure, I grew up with it living in Halifax, but after living in Calgary for 5 years I learned to love the dry heat. Oh, it’s so nice there… you can walk to the bus stop and not be sweating from everywhere on your body. And, most of the time your hair can look good… in Toronto? Don’t expect to have nice hair all summer. Don’t even bother straightening it. Pfft, waste of time.

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Anyways, the point here is that I find it difficult to run in heat + high humidity. Long run in 30C with 90% humidity? – oh please, I don’t even want to get out of bed!! So for me, this makes training difficult. It’s not that I won’t go out and run, it just means that it might be shorter (or slower) than usual. Is this a bad thing? Not really, but I would like to be somewhat trained for the half when I get to that point.

Speaking of Calgary, I did go spend a nice week there at the beginning of July. Enjoyed myself while going to a friend’s wedding, visiting family and friends, and taking in a little bit of the Stampede. I also went out for a couple of runs and oh boy what a difference! Calgary tends to have cool mornings and nights, unlike Toronto which rarely cools down enough to make for a comfortable sleep in the summer. So, it was quite refreshing to get up in the morning and run before the temperature got hot. I felt exhilarated even. But, I did notice a weird difference for me there… in Toronto when I run my lungs (I have asthma) usually feel fine but my legs get tired and heavy. In Calgary, my legs felt energetic and light but my lungs felt a little heavy. Not sure if that means anything, it was just something unusual I noticed. My legs really felt like I could keep going and going there, but my lungs were saying hell no.

That was a great trip, and by the time I got back I received an email from Fit Approach letting me know that I’d been chosen to be a Sweat Pink Ambassador. Pretty exciting! I love this online community of women who are encouraging each other, providing tips, and sharing their stories all along the way. Sweat Pink Ambassadors are runners, cyclists, triathletes, yogis, swimmers, and more! So many people living and inspiring an active lifestyle – who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?! :) Hopefully my story is, or will be, inspiring and I’d love to connect with more Ambassadors and others who are taking on their healthy living journey. You know you can find me by clicking on any of the the social media icons on the sidebar. :)

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Plans for the rest of July? Not sure, but I am trying my best to get on the training track. I’m a little behind in the long run distance, which hopefully doesn’t affect me too much. I guess I will see. Today I did some speed work and while it was difficult, it was also fun. You know what I am not looking forward to? Hill training. Oh boy, look out when I start those…

Have a great week!

Ever been behind on your training? How did you catch up?