Long Run Bliss – It Can Happen

Have you ever had one of those workouts (running/cycling/yoga/etc) that just makes it all worthwhile? One of those workouts when you think to yourself “yes, this is why I do this!“?

That was me yesterday.

It’s no secret that I have my ups & downs with running. Who doesn’t? But, yesterday I had one of those long runs that just made it feel all worthwhile. Dare I say that it felt, blissful? It wasn’t about the speed or the distance, it was more about the moment. The feelings while running. The scenery. All of that combined for one of the best runs I have had in a long time.

Yesterday, I got up a little earlier than I usually do on a Sunday because the boyfriend had a major brick workout to do for Ironman training. The sun was shining in the window, so this actually wasn’t too difficult – especially since he made the coffee. He took off and I finished up my coffee with a smoothie and got my butt out the door after laying out my gear. I was actually feeling a little nervous about this 20KM because it’s the longest I have ran since the Honolulu Marathon in December 2016. Last week’s 18KM long run was a little difficult, so of course, I was a little worried about how this run would go.

Run Gear Saucony Nuun

Got my gear ready! (Saucony, Clif, Nuun, Yanky, Garmin, 2XU, Gregory Pack)

I got out the door and right away I realized there was a little chill in the air, so my hands were cold but the sun was out so I knew I would warm up quick. Pace started off great and I was a little excited to head out to a different route than I usually do. Funny thing is that I usually get a little lost when I try a new route, but not this long run!

Took my run along the paved Calgary pathways, ran through Sandy Beach Park, over the reservoir dam, and then to the north section of the Glenmore Reservoir. I had been wanting to run around the reservoir for awhile now, so I’m really glad I went this way yesterday.

It’s funny because you could say that the weather was almost perfect for a runner. Sun shining, cool breeze, and crisp air – you seriously couldn’t beat it. The skies were so clear that you could see the view all the way to the mountains from some points during the run. It was beautiful! I actually couldn’t believe some of the gorgeous views I came across during this run and also the friendly people that were out enjoying the day as well! So many friendly runners yesterday, I wish every week was like that. 🙂

Glenmore Reservoir Calgary

Beautiful views at the reservoir! See those mountains?

The settings were so perfect that I started to think to myself that this is why I love running. Of course, I love the challenge and the race atmosphere, but I also love that my feet and legs take me to beautiful places. I felt so grateful in that moment for the ability to run and see these spots around the city – and other places I’ve travelled as well. This run felt meditative and relaxing (is that possible?!) and I almost didn’t want it to end… but, I also knew that I shouldn’t push my training.

I’m not sure I’ve had such a completely enjoyable run before. Is this the runner’s high people talk about? 😉

It’s hard to top moments like this, but that’s not really the point I think. It was special for me to feel relaxed while running and to also feel so completely grateful for the ability to do this running thing right now. Pace didn’t matter, but the ability and the feeling of strength while running did. Enjoying the moment, the scenery, the fresh air. These are the things that matter and then achieving speed/distance/etc goals are the bonus. I realized that although it’s challenging, I really do love running. And, I hope to do this for many years to come.

Running Glenmore Reservoir

Deep in thought. 😉

Have you ever had a run (or workout) like this? Were you training or was it during a race?

{Calgary Marathon Half in just under 2 weeks!! Now I taper!}

Seeking: My Race Mojo for 2017

Is it possible to have the post-marathon blues for 5 months?

I’m not sure what’s up with me, but I haven’t been excited about racing lately. Don’t get me wrong, I have been training – lots – but, the big push to race hasn’t been there for me. Maybe I have the end of winter blues spilling over as well, but I’m hoping to get the racing bug back soon!

I ran a 10K in Halifax recently, and I have a half-marathon at the end of May, which I’m looking forward to, but wouldn’t say I’m super excited about it. I could be nervous… but, not really realizing it. At this point, I want to PB my half marathon time and maybe the added pressure is causing me a little anxiety. What if I don’t PB? How will I feel after training pretty hard this winter? These are some big unknowns for me that I probably shouldn’t dwell on too much.

YogiCrystal Running 2017

Part of me also thinks that some of these “blues” is because I don’t have a marathon picked for this year. I decided to only run one this year, but I still haven’t chosen where or when I want to run it. The options around where I live are pretty slim, so I know I’ll have to travel. I have an idea in mind, but I just need to see if I can make it work. I’m also pretty sure that I won’t be doing any travel or running in the U.S. this year because of the dollar exchange rate, so that has me checking out Canadian races for the fall. Lots to think about and I certainly need a plan at this point!

Last year was such an exciting year of running for me, with completing my first – and second! – marathon and travelling to Hawaii for the first time. It almost seems too hard to top for this year, but maybe that shouldn’t be the goal. This year seems like a nice time to work on my half-marathon goals and really start getting a stronger base for marathon running and my long-term BQ goal. Maybe this isn’t the “blues”… it’s just different and I need to take a moment to really enjoy it. Let’s hope the Calgary Half Marathon really pumps me up and helps me work towards some bigger goals for the rest of 2017! 🙂

Anyone else seeking their race mojo? What techniques have you used to find it or get it back? 

Honolulu Travel Tips from a Lone Budget Traveller

Flashback Friday : Honolulu travel tips from a lone traveller on a budget

It’s only been a couple of months, but I seriously miss Honolulu. I was a little nervous to go on a trip there by myself, but then once I got there I felt comfortable and at home. Ocean and palm trees. Friendly people and good food. Honolulu is definitely not a destination that you want to skip, especially if you like running marathons. (Seriously still have to complete my Honolulu Marathon recap!)

Although there were thousands and thousands of people there for the big race, I travelled to Oahu alone, but never really felt lonely. Also, you may not know this about me, but I don’t drive. Yep, I said it. So, this can make travelling alone interesting. How do I get to the sites? Do I spend a fortune on taxis? To get around when I am travelling, I try to stay budget conscious and patient. Patience and enjoying the moment is key because I mostly take local transit around places to see the sites. It’s a great way to see local happenings, while also getting to my destination pretty cheap.

So, here’s some stuff you can do around Honolulu if you don’t drive:

– I rented an Airbnb near Waikiki for a really good rate, so I walked everywhere. Why not?! There’s so many sites to see and local atmosphere to take in, all while getting some good exercise. I would walk down the main strip or really enjoy the scenery by walking along the beach walk. So many gorgeous sunsets to see this way. Also, the weather was warm in December even when it was raining, so no excuses!

~ Note: if you’d like to be even more budget conscious than a good deal on Airbnb, I also stayed a few nights at the Seaside Hawaiian Hostel and it’s definitely a cute little place. A hostel is a hostel, but this place was relatively clean and very cozy. A little noisy being close to the street, but still managed to get a decent night’s sleep. Front desk staff also really awesome and friendly, which is great for lone travellers! (I met a gal also named Crystal from Edmonton, how funny is that?!)

– I walked/jogged to Diamond Head and then hiked up it. This is a good workout! The hike up this crater isn’t too bad, but don’t wear flip flips – it can be slippery if it’s raining. Also, if you have an injury or mobility concerns, definitely take the quick bus ride up and, ideally, hike it with a friend or group. Everyone should take their time and enjoy the scenery on this trail.

Manoa Falls Honolulu Hawaii

Stunning Manoa Falls

– You can bus to Manoa Falls and it doesn’t take that long! You’re surprised, right? Before I left, I was looking at $50 USD hiking tours to the falls and I kind of thought that was a little steep. Some quick research and I realized that I could take the bus for $2.50 and hike on my own… come to find out, I wasn’t the only one doing this! At the bus stop there were some other lone travellers doing just the same thing, so a good way to make a new acquaintance too! This hike is a little challenging, so no flip flops here either. The trail is relatively quiet, but the Falls were busy with people going in the water, taking pics, etc. You can still find space to relax at the Falls, but just something to keep in mind depending on how introverted you are. 🙂

– You can also bus to awesome food places outside of Waikiki. Quick bus ride took me to an awesome Poke place – Ono Seafood – which was totally worth it. You could also run or cycle to this area if you’re feeling energetic!

– You’ll need a little more time for Hanauma Bay, but if you have a good book or some awesome music on your phone, take the bus. One bus from Waikiki will get you there, just be sure to look up the times and be ready to get to the stop early. No problem here, because I was super excited to go. The bus can be quite busy, but once you get to the Bay you are relaxed again. Tours for the Bay looked pretty expensive as well, so unless you’re going snorkelling with a guide, you can easily take the bus, check out the Bay, hike around, and relax, before jumping on the bus back later in the day.

Hanauma Bay Hawaii

Gorgeous Hanauma Bay, how much do I love thee?

– I highly recommend surfing if you’re in Honolulu! Now, this I did not do completely alone. I paid for a private session with the Ohana Surf Project, but you can also lower your costs by doing a group session (I’m a terrible swimmer, so I spent a little extra on this outing for my own peace of mind). I only had to walk a few blocks from where I was staying and they picked me up in their van to head to the site. This whole experience was awesome and I hope to go back and do it again someday. Great staff and instructors, super helpful, and fun. After the session they can give you a ride back to your pick up location, but I decided to take the afternoon to walk along Waikiki Beach back to where I was staying. I always try to get as much ocean time as I can!

It may be surprising, but you can easily get around a lot of places when travelling if you don’t drive or if you want to save money on rentals. You just need a keen interest in taking in the local atmosphere and a little patience. Walking, biking, running, and bussing while travelling can really make for a unique experience!

Do rent cars while travelling or rely on walking and local transit? How do you enjoy the experience?

Time Flies: Spring Catch Up

Well, that was a fun “break”, wasn’t it? I can’t believe it’s been almost 2 months since I posted any of my ramblings about running or life!

Trust me, it’s not like I haven’t been doing anything. I’ve been busy. I know we’re all busy, but really, the last 2 months got away from me. I had a really crazy school term that overwhelmed me a bit more than usual, but I put the work in and so far my marks look good. The bf and I also moved to a new apartment, which I am enjoying already even though I’m nowhere near unpacked. I do not recommend moving during a busy school term, but I’m definitely happy it’s done.

Have I been running? Of course! If you follow me on Twitter & Instagram, you’ll see that I’m still out there running lots… but not with a lot of focus. I haven’t done a race since Honolulu this past December (which I still need to write a recap about!), so I’ve been feeling a little lost with my goals lately. But, now that I’m in between school terms (start again early May), I am trying to get back on track and training for the Calgary Half Marathon at the end of May. Hoping for a PB at this one, so speed and tempo work has been the focus lately. Fun, right?!

RunCalgarySpring2017

I do not have a marathon picked yet for this year, which freaks me out a little bit. I have one in mind that I am strongly leaning towards, I just need some things to work out for it to happen. Either way, I’m excited about a few other races that I have lined up during the summer – the big one being Seawheeze!! I can’t wait to finally run this race and see Vancouver for the first time. Very excited!

Well, I only have a couple weeks off until my next school semester starts, so I’m trying my best to unpack the apartment, read a couple novels, focus on running, work (of course), blog once or twice, maybe re-brand this whole YogiCrystal thing (we’ll see), and maybe find time to relax in there… Here’s hoping I get a couple of these done!

How was the rest of your winter? Got any spring races on your calendar?

New Year Goals – How you doing?

Well, we’re one month into 2017 and I’m wondering how your goals/resolutions/intentions are coming along?

If you’ve popped by this blog recently, you probably noticed that I only set some intentions for the year last week. I’m still working on my race schedule, but so far I’m just trying my best to keep it together for the first month of 2017.

Often it seems like this is a tough time of year for some people. Winter blues are kicking in, maybe some goals haven’t been started, or we could be putting too much pressure on ourselves so this is causing stress or anxiety. Trust me, I’ve been feeling this a little bit myself lately. I know it’s not easy, but maybe this is a good time to re-visit the goals we set to see if they can be adjusted to suit our needs and wants more. Maybe they need to be a little more realistic, or broken down into more manageable pieces. Whatever it takes, I’d say now is a good time to start this process.

The important part here is that you don’t give up on those goals! Keep moving forward.

If you’re reading this and thinking “Crystal, you’re crazy, why are you checkin’ in on me?“, that’s ok. 😉 There’s totally another reason why I’m harassing you about your goals/intentions/resolutions: I’m offering a fun little giveaway over on Instagram!!

Momentum Jewelry 2017

Head on over to my Instagram to enter!

If you’re finding yourself in need of a little motivation and inspiration, then my Momentum Jewelry giveaway is for you! Head on over to my Instagram for all the details and how to enter! 🙂

Are you sticking to your goals so far? Are there any you can adjust so that they are more attainable?

Where My Goals At?

How bad is it that I don’t have any goals set in stone for 2017 yet?

I don’t make resolutions, but I do like to set some intentions and general guidelines for myself in regards to what I would like to accomplish or stay focused on throughout the year.

So, for some reason, I’m a little behind and trying not to worry too much about it… yet.

This new year actually started off with some less-than-awesome news, but I’m really hoping that the “when a door closes, another door opens” quote will come into play here. So, now that the dust has settled a little, it’s time to start thinking about some goals/intentions that I’d like to keep in mind for 2017.

YogiCrystal Running 2017

Goals, Intentions, Dreams for 2017

~ Get a race schedule figured out. Starting to panic a little here. I have only scheduled in the SeaWheeze Half Marathon (YAY!!!) for August, but as someone who has a long term BQ goal, I obviously need some plans & structure for my race schedule.

~ Continue to do well in school. Stay focused, take it all in, learn lots, build skills, and work on that networking thing. (Introvert alert here!)

~ Have more compassion for myself. I feel like I write this one down every year. Always a work in progress, but I need to have more compassion for myself when times get tough.

~ Work with a great team of likeminded individuals.

~ Cross train more. Yoga. Meditation. Cycling. Ideally I can get a coach at some point to help me with this… not easy on a grad student’s budget! Keep in mind that I need to train smarter. Aim to get faster. PB. 🙂

~ Travel. Find ways to travel for races, but on a good budget. Most likely staying local & in Canada this year. The U.S. dollar hurts. Also, visit family and friends.

~ Read more. This one is hard to do as a grad student because I feel like I should always be reading textbooks and journal articles, but I love novels and need more casual/fun reading in my life. Trying to make more time for this. Same goes for writing, need to get on this blog more! (Side note: this involves actually starting my re-brand… scary stuff.)

~ Run with people more. Tough to find a run crew around work schedules that involve evenings, but I’m going to keep an eye out. This could help with my introvertness and to keep running fun & interesting. Be part of an awesome community offline & on –> Which includes recently being chosen and a Nuun Ambassador! If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you can probably tell that I love Nuun, so this was certainly fun news to receive this month!

~ Breathe. Focus on positivity more. Smile. Have gratitude, write it down.

~ Health. Keep focused on healthy lifestyle. Try to reduce stress. Eat at home more. Cook, try new recipes. Share. Find a mentor. See joy in the experience. Appreciate the little things.

That’s a good start for the year, right?

I’m sure I may add to this as time goes on, but this is what I am starting with. Nothing here really involves tons of pressure and that’s how I operate best. I don’t set resolutions, because if I “fail” I will feel awful. Trying to avoid feeling awful, but I also know I actually need to set some running goals. I have that BQ by 40 dream & I need focus and strength to get there.

Picking myself up from the start of this year and ready to charge on!

Did you set any intentions for 2017? Please share one that stands out for you as really important! 

Or, are you like me and haven’t set any goals in stone yet? 

Summer of less run, more bike

Woah, it’s been awhile since my last post.

To be honest, I can’t believe how fast time flies. {Who doesn’t say this?!} Seems like it wasn’t that long ago when I was training for my first full marathon and going through all the emotions involved. All that worry and anxiety is now over and I’m now starting to plan for my second marathon training… Which reminds me, I still need to do a race recap about my first marathon! I haven’t done this yet because for some reason it seems difficult for me to sit down and articulate all of the emotions and memories involved in that race. Part of me can’t even believe it’s finished. Like, did I seriously run that far? Crazy! I wonder if anyone else can relate…

Since the marathon I’ve been on a bit of a break, running less and trying to enjoy other activities. I’ve mostly added cycling into my weekly routine, which has been a fun change. Cycling is a nice challenge, while also being a little easier on my body. I’ve been bike commuting to work more and last Sunday I did a 52 KM ride with the bf all around Calgary. It was tough, but also so much fun! He’s trying to encourage me to ride 100KM… we’ll have to see how that goes!

Post 52K cycling smile!

Post 52K cycling smile!

In all honesty, I’ve been struggling to find my motivation this summer. I’ve been finding it difficult to get up in the morning (even when it’s sunny) and occasionally struggling throughout the day. Usually, the summer months are prime for me to get up early either to workout/run or to just relax with a cup of coffee & a book on the balcony. But, not this year and I’m not sure why. Granted it’s been a very tough past 7+ months for me as I’ve battled with some tough situations and also grief, so I am guessing that some of that comes into play. I’d certainly like to turn this around soon because September is about to get very busy & I’m going to need all the motivation I can get!

Anyone else feeling a summer slump? How do you stay motivated? Got any fall goals? (Eek, I don’t even like writing out the word “fall”… hahaha no rush!)

Looking forward to the road ahead!

Looking forward to the road ahead!

My First Marathon Training Update #2

Marathon training is starting to get serious, so I know you’ve been wondering how it’s going. My last update shared some of my ups & downs and I can say that these past few weeks haven’t been much easier.

I’ll just say it here now… Marathon training is hard. Mentally, physically, and spiritually. Training for 42.2K has tested my resolve and my physical capabilities every damn week. I can’t say that any run has been easy the past few weeks. I have questioned my goal many times over and over, but I have also felt strong and rewarded. What a roller coaster!

Riley Park 2016

Week 7

45 min run ~ 7.3KM
Yoga
7.78KM run
7.4KM run {10 min easy, 4 x (5 min tempo, 2 min walk), 10 mins easy = 46mins}
96 mins run ~ 14.52KM

Week 8

50 mins run ~ 7.7KM
25 mins run ~ 4KM (was supposed to be 50 mins of speed work)
42 mins run – 7.15KM {10 mins easy, 10 x (1 min fast, 1 min jog), 12 mins easy}
20 KM run ~ 2 hours, 14 mins — breakdown around 16K, cried on a park bench, almost quit running (was supposed to be 22KM)

Week 9

50 mins run ~ 8.66KM
Bike – 31 mins (1st outdoor bike ride of the season!)
45 mins run ~ 7.8KM tempo run {10 mins easy, 5 x (3 mins tempo, 2 mins jog), 10 mins easy}
Bike – approx 60 mins
24 KM run ~ 2 hours, 43 mins (no breakdown around 16K – woohoo! Pace a little slower than I would have liked, but still nice to finish this run!)

Calgary Bike 2016

1st Ride of the season!

Week 10

Bike – approx 60 mins
50 mins run ~ 7.87KM (treadmill)
Bike – approx 60 mins
30 mins run ~ 5.2KM {10 mins easy, 5 x 224m speed bursts, jog recovery, 10 mins easy} (indoor track) (was supposed to be a 56 min tempo run but I had limited time this day due to schedule changes, so I improvised)
30 mins run – 5KM easy
25.30 KM run + 1.70 KM walk (27KM) ~ 3 hours, 1 min (minor breakdown at 19.5K, hot, dehydrated, and left foot/ankle hurt so I tapped out at 25.3 K and walked the remaining 1.7 K to reach 27K. Considered quitting running & wasn’t impressed with myself. Definitely a tough run.)

There you have it, the last few weeks of my training. As you can see, it hasn’t been easy. Not that I thought marathon training would be easy, but I thought that I might be stronger than this. I had more confidence in myself and my abilities, but I feel like I am falling short. Learning lots about myself this training cycle, that is for sure. I definitely need more strength training after this and possibly more time spent meditating to boost my mental game.

In spite of everything, at least I can say that I am doing my best.

I’m 6 weeks out and I am doing my best.

I’m not telling you this to bring the mood down or to be negative… I’m telling you this because I’m real to a fault. This is my honest marathon journey. As you can see, I need some moral support. So, if you’re offering… 😉

Anyway, it’s crunch time… I’ve got this!

How do you find motivation when training gets tough? 

Thinking Out Loud #3

Feels like a good time to think out loud (ramble) this week on the blog… So, here it goes!

  • Have you ever seen a runner have a breakdown on a park bench? Well, now some of the nice folks of Calgary have witnessed such a fine moment. Yep, I had a little breakdown around 16K during my long run on Sunday and I just couldn’t hold it in. I seem to have a mental block (or a wall) around 16K and I’m not sure why. I’m going to try a different strategy pre long run this weekend to see if it makes a difference because this needs to change if I’m going to get my distance running done. I had 22K on the schedule, but managed “only” 20K because my form started to suffer and I didn’t want to aggravate my old left foot injury. Hoping this weekend’s long run will be better!

Post run contemplation

  • On a more positive note, I’m happy to announce that I’ve been chosen as a Momentum Jewelry Champion level ambassador! Super excited to collaborate with this awesome company and other inspiring ambassadors this spring/summer. 🙂
  • On the hydration side, I’m looking for your tips on the best sugar free hydration tabs/powder/etc. These things tend to aggravate my stomach big time, so I’m worried about trying them but also think I need to add some extra electrolyte love to my body.
Momentum Ambassador

Yay Momentum Ambassador!

  • Went for my first bike ride of the season yesterday and I loved it! I seriously have so much fun cycling, I’m like a kid when out riding. I hope to start thinking about training for a duathlon someday, but of course the marathon training is first!
  • I haven’t made any huge announcements in regards to this point on social media, but I wanted to put it out there now. There are 2 charities that I’m unofficially training/running my marathon for. I know I should make this more official, but I’ve had so much going on in my life that my mind and focus has been taken away from these things that I deeply care about. I know these are tough times, but if you can spare some funds please consider donating to the Diabetes Association in memory of my grandfather who recently passed. Or, I’ve also teamed up with JP’s Team to help spread the word and raise awareness for this great charity – Little Warriors. You can make a donation by going to this page here. (Keep an eye out here or on Twitter/Instagram for more details on this in the future 🙂 )

So, that’s my past week… just a few ups & downs!

Feel like sharing? Let me know what you’re training for and if you’ve encountered any “walls”. How do you get over the humps?

Getting Lost in More Ways than One

Did you know that every time I try a new path while running, I get lost?

I often run the same paths/trails over and over again because they’re comfortable – or guaranteed to be clear – and that gets a little boring. So, occasionally I’ll decide to go a different direction to try a new path and to take in new scenery. And then I get lost. It’s actually quite funny. This happened to me a number of times in Toronto and now here in Calgary.

On the weekend I went for my long run in the morning in an attempt to beat the rain coming in the forecast. I took one of my usual paths but then decided I would run on the opposite side of the river for a change. Well, that path turned out to be still quite icy and slushy and it’s actually changed since the floods ripped through the city in 2013. I forgot about this. I forgot how this might change the path from when I last ran/rode my bike on it in 2012. Silly me. I went far enough on the path until I realized I would get very lost or I would end up in too much ice/snow and possibly hurt myself.

Run Calgary

There was a point that I stopped and cursed myself. I was upset for getting lost AGAIN. Was this a stupid move for me? Was this a sign that I shouldn’t try new things – in running and in life? Yeah, I went there for a moment. I was approximately 11KM into my run and I was feeling a little tired after negotiating icy paths for about 3K, so my mind went a little crazy for a few minutes. I also managed to somehow mess up my watch and lost my distance, so that frustrated me too.

But then I had to tell my brain to f*ck off. Seriously, there was no need to go into the dark thoughts. It was a nice day out… the dark clouds were coming and I wasn’t dressed for rain, but it wasn’t too cold out. I just had to shake it off and go back the way I came to get back to a familiar area. No big deal. So, I took 3 deep, long breaths and started my watch again and took off back the other way. I negotiated all that damn ice again and got back to a familiar spot on the trail so that I was able to navigate myself back home. I beat the rain just in time and only ended up going .66KM over my planned distance for the day (10 mins over my goal time though).

Once I just let it go, it ended up being a nice run and a bit of an adventure. But, isn’t that how life goes sometimes? Occasionally we can take surprise turns, get frustrated, but then end up back on a path in the right direction. Sometimes it may be the wrong direction, but that’s the journey, right?

Yoga March 2016 YYC

Got to hide those runner feet lol

Funny enough, this run almost parallels where my life is right now. Running in all directions, getting lost, getting frustrated, and having to tell my mind to be quiet. Thank goodness I went to a wonderful 2 hour yoga class hosted by Kim McNeil Yoga so that I could take my mind off things and be around supportive and wonderful people. I realize I need more of this in my life right now. I probably shouldn’t get lost too many times during my runs, but being “lost” in an amazing yoga class can be relaxing and freeing. And seriously, this is what I need right now.

How do you deal with getting lost (life or when outdoors)?