Disney Star Wars Half Recap Part 2

18If you missed Part 1 of my Disney Star Wars Half race recap, you can check it out HERE.

Race

At the start line there were two fun, energetic announcers who were sending off the corrals. They were pretty funny and did a good job of pumping us up at 5:30 am. I was in Corral B, so I didn’t have to wait long to take off, which was nice since my adrenaline was really high by this point! Once they let us go everyone was cheering and waving and having fun, but then it got a little serious after the first turn. I’m sure everyone was planning who they were going to take pictures with or just trying to stay focused in the dark. Once we moved into Disneyland (DL) though, the mood got light and fun again. At almost every turn there were staff members or guides who were cheering people on or saying “Good morning”, which really made me smile. Everyone was so friendly (even that early) and I made sure to wave or say something back to as many people as I could.

We first ran through Disneyland, which has a lot of waves and turns but is totally worth it because there’s so much to see! I’ve never been to DL before, so I stopped to take a lot of pictures and of course a few selfies. I found that some characters were a little hidden and if it wasn’t for spotting the line ups, you would probably never know there was one there (for example, Chewbacca was behind a fence in the dark). I also realized that you really have to look out for other runners during a Disney race. The flow isn’t the same and people are always stopping and starting at the last minute and in the middle of the lane. Runners probably shouldn’t listen to music while running through the parks, because you really have to be alert (I did see 2 people crash into one another and it wasn’t pretty). As for characters, I only saw Luke & Leia, Chewbacca, and Darth Vader and I only stopped to line up (for 15 minutes!) for a pic with Chewie (Marathon Photo is at every stop too in case you’re interested in professional pics). There may have been more characters, but if that’s the case, I missed them.

Chewie!!

Chewie!!

After DL, we then transitioned into the California Adventure park. The sun was starting to come up by this point, so it was really nice to be able to see the park in a bit more daylight. The sunrise was actually spectacular and a lot of us stopped to take many pictures in different areas of the park. I can’t even describe how beautiful the sunrise was, such a nice experience to go along with the race. In California Adventure I only spotted a few characters and stopped to get my picture taken with some Stormtroopers because the line was short. I really enjoyed this park and was totally blown away by the area that looks like the Grand Canyon. Such an amazing sight and the sunrise really helped the experience!

image

Once through the parks, we then headed out on to the local streets in Anaheim. This did not take away from the experience and I was certainly not bored. There were so many high school marching bands, cheerleaders, people in costumes, and spectators along the way that you couldn’t help but continue to feel motivated. I was blown away by the local support and you just can’t thank these people enough for getting up so early to cheer us crazies on! Also worth noting is that runDisney provided tons of water/Gatorade stops along the route, so there was no need for me to carry water. Clif was also around mile 9 (I think) handing out gel shots, which is good if you already use this kind of fuel.

I'm not the droid they're looking for. ;)

I’m not the droid they’re looking for. ;)

I will say that all of the starting and stopping when running through the parks did start to affect me. I got a little sluggish around mile 10 or 11 and I got really hungry for more than just race fuel. I toughed through it though, and with the help of all those spectators I got my butt to the finish line! I kept thinking about that beautiful medal and how I just couldn’t wait to have it hanging around my neck. Good motivator, right?

Post-race

So much excitement at the finish line! Tons of people and a few characters were around, and also the announcer was saying people’s names as they crossed the line. I was a little disappointed that R2D2 and C-3PO were on a stage at the end (were they along the course?!) because I REALLY wanted my pic taken with R2D2 because of my costume. It was hard to grab any pics around the finish because staff/volunteers were trying to move you along, which I totally understand and they maintained a good flow despite the amount of people.

I can’t tell you how excited I was to see the nice people handing out the medals. A really nice lady hung my medal around my neck and congratulated me and I felt so elated and grateful for the opportunity. Yes, I was grateful to have run 13.1 miles at a very early time in the morning! It’s hard to put all of the feelings to words, but I was beyond ecstatic and had a permanent smile on my face.

After the medals I moved to the picture area because I wanted to grab a pic or a selfie in front of one of the branded back boards. This is where I felt a little rushed. The Marathon Photo staff weren’t allowed to take a pic for you with your own camera/phone and they also hinted that you kind of weren’t allowed to have someone else grab your pic in front of the boards. Well, I was able to find a nice person and we took turns (quickly) grabbing photos with our own cameras. I understand this company wants to make money, but their pics are extremely expensive so I like to have to opportunity to take one of my own. Just my thoughts. Once pics were done we were able to pick up the food kit, which had a nice mix of taco chips, nuts, dried fruit and a banana. Wheat free options actually made me happy in this case. Bag check pick up at this point was also a breeze and then I was set to go.

Look at that beautiful bling!!

Look at that beautiful bling!!

Of course, I didn’t leave right away because there was still a band playing on the main stage and there was tons of people watching to still do! I saw a few more people in their costumes, took some more pics, rocked out with the band, and then headed on my way to grab some delicious breakfast grub at Denny’s. Don’t judge me! Denny’s is perfect after a race. :)

After grabbing breakfast, I walked back to my hotel room in all my glory. It was about a 10 minute walk and I enjoyed every minute of it in the sun. It was also nice to pass by people heading towards the part who yelled out congrats and costume compliments. Made me feel like I was really part of something… some kind of happy, Disney, silly runner community. And you can’t beat that. Needless today, I am hooked and I hope to do the Rebel Challenge next year!!

~ May the Force be with you ~ ;)

Have you run Disney before? Tell me about your experience in the comments!

Disney Star Wars Half Recap Part 1

Well, I’ve been back in Toronto for almost 2 weeks now and slowly processing everything I experienced during my 5 days in Southern California. Seriously, this dream trip did not disappoint and I keep daydreaming about when I will go back again. But, instead of rambling on about that, I’m going to give you a little recap of the Disney Star Wars Half Marathon – the main reason I finally went on this trip in the first place.

Some of you may remember when I registered for the Star Wars Half over 6 months ago and I wrote about how I was stepping outside of my comfort zone. Well, I am glad that I did. I was a little anxious before the trip, but once I settled into California I got over my nerves really quick! As per suggestions, I arrived the Thursday before the race to give myself a little time to adjust to the time zone change and where I was staying, and of course to tour around the area.

At the Expo

At the Expo

Race Expo

I went to the Expo on the Friday morning (2nd day) before the race, which I thought would be a good time to go. For bib and shirt pick up it definitely was a good time because there weren’t that many people there yet. For merchandise, I was already too late. There was some official runDisney merchandise left, but all of the really good stuff was gone (which you can now see on ebay for extremely high prices). The Expo was a little smaller than I was expecting, but there was a good amount of vendors there (FlipBelt, Clif Bar, Pro Compression, Sparkle Athletic, etc.). A particular fave of mine was Raw Threads, they had lots of colourful and fun gear so I ended up making a purchase from them.

While I was at the Expo, I made sure to get some information about the morning shuttle (Anaheim Resort Transit (ART)). My hotel was only about a 10 minute walk away, but I wanted to have the information handy in case I didn’t feel like walking in the early hours. Also, there were presentations and interviews going on during the Expo, but I didn’t really partake in any of those because I wanted to get outside into the sunshine as fast as I could!

After the Expo I went outside to wander around Downtown Disney, checking out shops and people watching. It was fun to see people still dressed up and wearing their medals from the morning’s 5K race. One thing I really noticed was how friendly and happy everyone was in this area. Ok, I know they are visiting Disney, but it was refreshing to experience good customer service and chat with strangers about running, Star Wars, etc. I grabbed a coffee at one of the nicest Starbucks I’ve ever been in and spent some time just taking it all in under the sun while watching the people go by. Seriously, if you have time, I recommend this as part of the experience. I also met Pluto by the Disneyland Hotel, which was a hilarious highlight of my trip!

Best ever!!

Best ever!!

Pre-Race

For these Disney races you have to get up EARLY. The half marathon starts at 5:30 am, so depending on where you are staying you may have to get up between 2:30 – 3:30 am to make it on time. I was quite worried about this leading up to the race, but the wake up call actually wasn’t that bad. Of course, when you are super excited about your morning, it makes it easier to get out of bed! I tried to go to bed really early the night before, but ended up crashing around 9:30 pm and I felt fine. I’m actually amazed that I slept, but I am grateful that I did. I stayed at the Motel 6 near Disneyland and took the shuttle to the race, so I was able to wake up at 3:30 am. I had plenty of time to eat, chill out, and get my gear/costume on. I was by myself, so it was pretty easy to get ready. But, if you have more people with you, I imagine that you would need more time to get everyone organized. The ART shuttle I hopped on only made 2 stops and then quickly zipped to Disneyland, so that was pleasantly painless.

Once at Disneyland, it was just a quick walk through Downtown Disney to find the area with the main stage, bag check, and porta potties. Bag check was a breeze and the porta potties were not very busy at all in this area. Of course, the area was a little bit chaotic with people running around late and such, but overall this process before the race was easy. Walking to the start line was a little unclear once I got closer (it was dark), but I figured out where they were holding extra Corral B people before the A’s ran off and then everything was fine from there. Once I was waiting in my corral, that’s when I started to get really pumped up. There was an electric buzz of excitement all around and everyone was in a great mood and ready to run. So many fun costumes, everyone encouraging each other and laughing – I took it all in since regular races are usually so serious before the start. It’s hard to be nervous when you are standing there with thousands of other people dressed up in Star Wars themed costumes next to Disneyland. Of course, I took a lot of pictures in the dark that my cell phone camera couldn’t handle, but it’s all part of the experience, right?! :)

 

There's a Wookie behind me!

There’s a Wookie behind me!

To be continued…

{Check back (or follow me on Twitter!) for the 2nd half of this post and to see how my race went!}

Winter Running Update 2.0

Well, I skipped a run for the first time ever today.

In the past I’ve had to cut distance or switch up hills with speed training, but I’ve never just skipped the scheduled run on my plan. I just couldn’t go out there today. I didn’t have it in me to get all my gear on to run in the cold, wind, and snow. (Doesn’t help that I don’t have the proper footwear for this type of running either) I didn’t have the energy or the motivation to fight with the extreme winds for even 5K. Yep, this morning I was totally fading.

It also doesn’t help that I don’t like winter at all. Yes, you read that right – I am a born & raised Canadian who doesn’t like winter. I’m usually pretty good with it until January 2, but then after the holidays are over I am ready for spring, sun, and getting back outdoors. I don’t know, for some strange reason I am totally dependent on sunshine and being outdoors for energy. So, in the winter, I do suffer from seasonal affective disorder. If you’re wondering, I do take LOTS of vitamin D, try to get outside when I can, and exercise but it doesn’t always help… like today.

You can imagine how awful I felt this morning. Going back and forth and back and forth trying to motivate myself to run outside, while also thinking that it probably wouldn’t be safe. But, I don’t like to skips runs and I don’t like feeling like a failure. What’s wrong with me?! How is missing one run a failure in my training? I have a great base and I could probably run 30K (Around the Bay) right now… but I wouldn’t feel too great after! :P

Anyways, I find it amazing how we can make up these rules and imaginary faults to beat ourselves up over. Seriously, it’s one run! So, I had a quick chat with some great runner friends on Twitter this morning and they helped me turn my perspective around. I realized that it’s ok to miss one run… or even more! And, it’s ok to listen to my mind or body and realize that maybe I just needed a break. Can’t forget the mental part of this running game! If I wear myself down early, I won’t have it in me to keep going when the distance gets tough and long.

Not all was lost this morning though. I went out for a walk, which ended up confirming the good decision to not run and then I did an at home workout. Once my endorphins were boosted, I was back on track for a good day! This experience helped me learn a good lesson about quieting my inner critic when it comes to my training. There is no need to make myself feel bad and no one is keeping score, so I need to just do what is right for me. My first season winter running has exposed some new challenges that I am taking on, for better or for worse, and preparing me to be a better runner all year round.

How do you deal with negative self-talk when you have to miss a run/workout? 

Me Snow 2015

Winter Running Update

Before I went away to California for the Star Wars Half Marathon, I struggled with running in the cold and snow. Every freezing day or quick snow storm had me wishing I owned a treadmill or that I hadn’t signed up for winter races at all. You see, no matter how much I bundle up, my body doesn’t like winter running. I’m slower, I feel awful, and my asthma is quickly challenged on the super chilly days. You can imagine what this does to my running confidence.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen some of my discouraged posts. The cold really kicks my butt when it comes to this running thing. Speed training doesn’t happen, long distance runs are slower, but hill work? Now that’s fine. I can actually really hammer out my hill work, as long as it’s not icy of course. In general, hill work is my favourite, so I guess it’s good that it translates the same into my winter running. Either way, I feel like my running has suffered in this cold weather. Which doesn’t help that I am actually training for races. I had begun training for the Star Wars Half basically right after my first Half Marathon in October, but it wasn’t extremely serious because I knew I would be spending more time having fun during the Disney race. But now it’s time to get serious. In just over 2 months I am running my first 30K race, which apparently has 10K of hills at the end, so I am freaking out a little bit. I quite enjoyed running the Disney run in 15C weather, but my first run back in the frozen tundra today kind of sucked. It was only around -6C, but that was enough to make me feel sluggish and caused my lungs to work extra hard. Somehow, this run felt worse than before I left for California!

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I am a fair weather runner. Actually I don’t even mind running in the heat as much as I do in the cold. That’s probably weird, right? Here’s another “weird” thought… is it possible that our bodies are just made for certain climates? And not necessarily the one we were born/raised in? Because I am seriously starting to think that my body is meant for the California climate (sorry Canada <3). I don’t know, maybe I am just rambling here, but it’s something I am starting to seriously think about.

Anyway, that’s my winter running update. I don’t like it. Am I going to do it? Yes. I have a 30K race to run at the end of March and there is no way that I am giving up now. Will I enjoy every outdoor run on the way there? No, probably not. But, I will do my best to savour the moment while being proud of myself for getting out there and taking on this new challenge. I’m going to need some of you cheering me on along the way though, because it can get damn cold here! :)

{Find me on Instagram & Twitter for more frequent updates & rants about my first winter running journey}

How do you power through winter running? Or, do you just absolutely love it?

Runner Pet Peeves

It never fails. During every single training run something happens around/to me which really makes me angry. I can be running along in my own little bliss and then BAM! Another human is doing something that really pushes my buttons. I know this happens to all of us, so I wanted to share a few of my training run pet peeves with you. If you’re excited, read on my run-loving friends!

My Running Pet Peeves (not a complete list ;) )

Drivers who don’t look both ways. Yes drivers, you also have to look both ways when pulling out of a driveway or street. I’d rather not be hit by your vehicle because of your laziness/incompetence. (This also includes drivers who are texting and don’t look up before proceeding.)

Drivers with full, dark tinted windows. Maybe I am old fashioned, but why do you need this? Do you think it makes you look oh so cool? Well, I can’t see your face and which way you’re looking, so I’m going to be extra slow using the crosswalk in front of you, mmmkay?

Litter. Why the hell do so many people litter? Be nice to your freaking city and just stop it. It really does not take that much effort to carry your garbage home or to the next waste bin on the street.

Pedestrians who won’t step to the side to let you pass. You see me running towards you and you still won’t move to the side to let me pass. What is your issue? I’m not going to run in the mud or a snowbank for you, so we’ll probably end up smashing into each other. I won’t be sorry. (extra points for people who just HAVE to stay side-by-side)

People who don’t shovel their sidewalks. This should be illegal, in my opinion. Stop being lazy and clear a small path… or at least throw some salt/sand down. Much better than having a walker/runner cursing and screaming after slipping and falling on your property.

Drivers that honk at you. Stop trying to scare the shit out of me.

People at the bus stop who give me the craziest looks while I do hill training. Actually nevermind, this is just funny more than anything. :)

Long traffic lights. Such a runner’s high buzz kill. And, occasionally makes my legs think that the run is over… not fun getting back into the pace again.

People riding their bicycles on the sidewalks. SHARE THE SIDEWALK OR GET ON THE DAMN ROAD. This one is a huge pet peeve because I am tired of bike riders bullying me on the sidewalks.

Dogs not on leashes. Look, I’m sure your huge Doberman with the big, sharp teeth is very friendly, but I don’t know that so how about you keep your dog on a leash in public spaces. Thx. (Oh, and please pick up after your dog. C’mon man!)

Runners who don’t appear to be dressed for the weather. I know everyone’s body is different, but the running skirt and bra top with compression sleeves in -10 Celsius weather – are you really warm enough? I guess you still look fast and that’s what matters, right?

Runners who don’t wave. I understand that this one might be a personal preference/community thing, but still, when you stare right at me and I give a little wave, could you wave back? It’s nice to be polite sometimes. Just a thought. :)

Running uphill, into the wind, on a slanted sidewalk. Enough said.

What, my dear readers, would you add to this list?

See, don't I look peeved?

See, don’t I look peeved?

My First Half Marathon!

I did it!!

On Sunday, October 19 I ran my first Half Marathon at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you probably saw all of my pics – the ups, downs, and in betweens of training on my own for this huge challenge. Now, I know for some runners that a Half is not a huge challenge anymore, but since I actually used to hate running, this was quite the goal for me to take on. Honestly, my original plan in the spring was to run an 8K race this month, but something changed in me and I really stretched this goal. And I am glad I did!

I won’t lie, it took a lot to push myself some days. I trained on my own following a basic training plan I found online that had a schedule based on my goal time of 2:15-2:30. As my training went on, I eventually updated my goal to 2:15 and I was completely set on it. Yes, there were days I didn’t want to run and there were other days I was injured and couldn’t wait to get back to running… it was all a part of the journey. I am happy to say that I didn’t skip one run throughout the whole plan, but some runs did get cut short depending on pain/migraine/etc. At least I got out there every time and did my best on that day.

So, now here we are. The Half Marathon is done and I am still cruising on a bit of a runner’s high, even though my body feels like hell. ;) I’m completely proud of myself and I still stare at the awesome medal that I got. (It’s sooo pretty!) Hoping this feeling lasts for a little while, but my mind is already “racing” thinking about a plan for 2015!

Race Recap

Before the race

For days before the race I was obsessed with checking the weather and trying to plan my racing outfit. Apparently this is normal. I was glad that the forecast steadily did NOT predict rain, but the temperature was predicted around a -3C to 3C during the time of the race. That’s cold! Well, for me it is. :) I’m a bit of a wuss in the cold, so I really debated on what I should wear… also because I am a classic over-dresser. I already had my bottom half picked out (my racing capris of the season) but it took till almost the last minute to decide on a long sleeve for up top. A lot of people suggested tanks and short sleeves, but I went with my gut and wore a long sleeve that I could roll up if I needed to. (Turned out to be the right choice for me) I also spent a little bit of time being nervous about the race, but mostly I was excited. Sure, I wanted to get the race done, but I also wanted to experience the whole big race atmosphere and have some fun.

Race Day

So, yeah, it was cold! I almost did not want to turn in my sweater and stuff at bag check, it was so cold. I managed to find a Starbucks/hotel to hide in (with many other runners) before the start time that was near my corral. Thank goodness for that, because it was still pretty cold while we were waiting to take off. The crowds were a bit overwhelming for this introvert, but also exciting. So many runners! Some people looked happy and ready for fun, but I also saw the serious faces around too. Hanging out in the corrals was hilarious as everyone was either amped up or nervous. I heard one guy yell to his friend “WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?” I had to laugh and I wondered if he was doing the Half or the Full.

Once my corral was up, we all ran off cheering, clapping, and completely ready to go. The crowd really helped my energy throughout the entire race – spectators and runners. As for the course, I loved it! Running through downtown Toronto was really fun and I like that we passed some cool landmarks like the ROM, Honest Ed’s, Fort York, and Lake Ontario. It was also great that there were so many spots for spectators to gather up and cheer us on, so much fun and excitement! There were bands, cheerleaders, and lots of people to high five, which I totally took advantage of.

I found the amount of water stations to be appropriate, even if they looked like war zones. Hats off to the volunteers in charge of those areas, that was no small mess for them to clean up. Guides were also helpful along the way, never felt like I was going the make the wrong turn or get lost.

As for my race, I started off pretty strong and kept a good pace for about 10K. It was around that point that my bad ankle started to hurt a little bit, so I joined up with a 10:1 – 2:15 finish pace bunny group. It was my goal time, so I figured I would run with them for a little bit so that I could get my ankle in check. I’m not totally sure how long I ran with them for… maybe about 6K… but then I started to feel strong again and I took off on my own. The rest of the race I felt pretty good… ya know, until that last little climb up Bay Street to the finish. ;) I was a bit tired at that point and I just pushed myself mentally to pick it up and fight to the finish. The crowds at the end probably helped a little too. As I crossed the finish line I raised my hands in the air and I’m pretty sure I yelled ‘yeah’ out loud to myself. But I didn’t collapse and I call that a win! :) I was a little woozy as I walked to get my medal hung around my neck (so awesome!) and my warming blanket. But, I was also filled with so much pride and joy – I had finished a Half Marathon! And, I beat my goal time by 7 minutes! My final chip time was 2:08:01 and I couldn’t be happier. My hard work and training really paid off and I felt great!

That's right, I kicked ass!

That’s right, I kicked ass!

I will mention that there was a bit of a bottleneck of people in the area after the medals/blankets when we were trying to get food. Just the way the gates were set up, there was a bit of wait to get through. Not a huge deal most of the time, but I couldn’t meet up with my boyfriend through there and I wanted to get to snacks on the other side (that he had with him). Also, race snacks are not made for people who are gluten and lactose intolerant. Sure, the banana is fine, but the pita and yogurt were no good to me. I know this going in, so I always have stuff with me… but I need to get to back bag check (or my boyfriend) to get to my stuff. Once I got my own fuel into me, I was good to go and not race delirious anymore.

Post Race

After the race we grabbed some delicious breakfast and that helped my head get back in the game, but my body was still slow moving. Heck, it still is right now. For some reason, I didn’t plan my weekend well and we had a bunch of errands to run and I had the week’s food prep to do. Not next time. After my next half (yes, I’ll run another one!) I am going to make it a lazy day. I believe I’m extra tired today because I didn’t take enough time to relax after the race. Lessons learned!

Speaking of lessons learned, I’m not sure there is too much I would change for my next half marathon. In my opinion, training went well and I got the result I wanted. Next time I run a colder race, I may do the throw away clothing option to keep warm before the race starts. And as I start to run distances longer than the half, I may need to re-assess my fueling option. Clif Bars and plain water seem to help right now, but I’m sure I’ll need to replenish more as I go farther. Oh, and I would probably stretch more after… ouch.  Definitely lots to learn as I go along, so I am thankful for the awesome runner’s community that I have on Twitter and Instagram. Everyone is so helpful and supportive, I’m glad that I found them (you!).

The prettiest bling! :)

The prettiest bling! :)

I bet you might be wondering if I’ll run another Half or maybe even a Full next time… well, I can certainly say that I’ll run another Half, but I am undecided about a Full right now. I think I’ll get there, just not right away. When I finished the Half, one man beside me plainly said “I can’t imagine running another one of those right now”, referring to the Full runners still going. I laughed and completely agreed with him in that moment, but who knows what’s to come. I’ll probably try to tackle the 30K distance first and see how it goes. Seriously, anyone planning 2015 yet? ;)

Lastly, I want to say thank you to the Canada Running Series, their volunteers, and the Toronto Police for putting on such an amazing race. I can’t imagine all the hard work that goes into such a huge event.

And thank you again to my one man cheering squad – my boyfriend. Thank you for the support, drives to races, pics, and extra pushes when I need them. I appreciate it more than you know. :)

Half Marathon Training Update

Can you believe it? Only 8 days until my first Half Marathon! I’m both excited and nervous at the same time, which I think is pretty normal. I still get a little nervous before a 5K, so this is definitely expected.

What hasn’t been expected is the roller coaster of emotions and thoughts that I have been experiencing over the past week. Negative thoughts, then positive thoughts, then discouraging thoughts… well, let’s just say my mind never stops! Just the other night, I even woke up in a panic of anxiety about the upcoming race. Seriously, it shouldn’t be disturbing my sleep this early! But it’s my first, so of course, I’m not sure what to expect.

Finished my last long run this past Saturday (it went well) and at this point I am pretty happy to be in the taper period. A lot of people talk about getting the crazies as they taper, but so far so good, when it comes to distance at least. My feet are happy to be running a little bit shorter because I have blisters that need healing! Sorry if that’s TMI, but that’s what I am going through. On the other side of tapering though, yes I am hungry ALL of the time. But that’s pretty standard for me. I am also checking the weather for race day like crazy, which I find hilarious. Weather can change so frequently, I don’t know why I’ve started this habit. All part of the process I guess! I also want to lay out my gear and supplies for the race, but I definitely know it’s too early for that! ;)

me 10102014.jpg

Today I am feeling pretty good about my training and the race. But who knows how I will feel tomorrow or the day after. Negative thoughts do rise up and I try my best to send them away. I’ve worked hard and put in my miles, no need to beat myself up and get worried. I’m going to kick ass… I’m running 21.1KM (13.1M) and that is no small endeavor! I’m really excited to get there and and experience the race day atmosphere. I believe this will be the biggest race I’ve attended, so it will be interesting to see how many people will be around. –> note: If you’re in Toronto, come out and cheer us on! Make a cool sign, or a cheer, I know all the runners would love to see you.

With only eight days left, there’s not much else I can do but run and mentally prepare myself for the atmosphere and the distance. I’m running 11K this weekend and then only short runs left before the race. I’m really looking forward to what this new challenge will bring for me!

But in all seriousness, is it too early to carb load? ;)

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!

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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, Rosé, 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, Rosé, and Terroir Caché red. The Riesling was dry, crisp, and hardly a hint of sweetness, which I really liked. Also, the Terroir Caché 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.

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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!! :)