Friday, June 24, 2011

Who Inspires You?

I'm happy to find myself wanting to explore a wider variety of challenges. Partly because I'm growing progressively stronger, and partly because I'm drawing inspiration from other people.

In particular, there are a few people with achievements under their belts far greater than mine whose accomplishments have been inspiring me to expand my thinking about just what I may be capable of. This is what prompted me to sign up for the 25K Ride for Heart and the upcoming Warrior Dash, has got me putting a try a tri and the 50K version of the Ride for Heart on my wish list for 2012, and has me wondering about what else I'd be up for. I'm even tossing around the idea of something like this for 2013. Which is seriously amazing. I used to hear about events like these and automatically dismiss then as being for other people. Now I'm chomping at the bit to do them? That's a NSV!

I'm lucky to be able to draw inspiration from so many active people. A few examples -  

My friend Bruce took up running in his 50s and has since completed marathons on all seven continents. I'm impressed and inspired daily by his dedication to setting goals, planning and training in all areas of his life, not just running. Bruce definitely leads by example.

Lynda was walking with canes following multiple knee surgeries (including a knee replacement!) when I met her a couple of years ago, but has since conquered physio and gone on to powerwalk a marathon, a half marathon and countless 5-10K+ distances. Did I tell you that she called me a wuss earlier this year for thinking that I needed a year to train for the Warrior Dash? She was so emphatic about it that we both signed up for 2011 right then and there. Lynda - who has just celebrated her 60th birthday - leads her life anything but quietly!

Deb over at Deb Tris, is training hard for the multiple triathalons on her 2011 race calendar. Wind? Wild weather? Mountains? No matter - she keeps on track with her training! Deb also has two active young children and frequently writes interesting, thought-provoking posts. Her example shows me that it's possible to balance a busy training schedule and family. She recently sent me a comment reminding me that no matter how long or short, respect the distance - a great reminder that has helped keep me on track when I'm tempted to skimp on training. Go read her!

Julie over at You Just Have to Tri sent me congrats on my most recent 5K just hours after she finished a metric century ride, and again for finishing the Ride for Heart shortly after conquering yet another triathalon.  Julie oozes energy, has multiple long distance races and rides under her belt, and finds the time to cook amazing from-scratch dinners. Seriously - how fabulous is she?! I take a lot of inspiration from Julie, and laugh every time I see the 't-shirt wisdom' quote at the top of her blog. She's kind enough to post recipes, too -  although how she finds the time given that she's training for a half Ironman (!) I do not know! Go read her!

I've mentioned before that on a daily basis, I receive a tremendous amount of support from my family, my friends, my Curves trainer. I thank each and every one of you for - you help to keep me in motion every day! Here's where I thank the three most important to me:

My husband is on a mission of his own to keep moving. He recently finished his first 10K, walks 10K home from work several times a week, and is training for a half-marathon. He is as supportive as heck - making sure that he's home on time for me to get to the gym, clearing his calendar on my race days, and plain old assuming that I can accomplish whatever thing I've signed up for next. The level of confidence that he has in me raises my own. 

My children - my biggest cheerleaders - also assume that I can reach the finish line successfully on everything that I sign up for. These kids remember how very large and sedentary I was just a couple of years ago, yet they have that unwavering confidence in my abilities today - which in turns makes me think about reaching beyond what I've achieved so far.

So - what am I doing to pay it forward? I've turned into one of those 'go, go, you can do it' people :-) Tell me that you're thinking of trying something - going to a gym? Signing up for a class? Trying a distance? - and  I'll cheer you on. 'Fantastic! Go go - you can do it! What are you waiting for?'

Thanks for sticking with me during this long post. Who inspires you?

Here's this week's recap:

After a long winter and rainy spring, I forgot the first rule of summer biking:
When you park in the sun, your seat gets really hot. OW!!
Saturday - Feeling great after yesterday's kayaking. Rode my bike to the gym (6K round trip) and worked out, including 20 pushups. OK - maybe my shoulders ARE a bit tired.

Raspberries were on major sale today - time for the kids to make freezer jam!
They are masters at this and took this job over a couple of summers ago - all I do is clean up afterwards :-)
Sunday - Father's Day! Took my daughter swimming while the boys went for a bike/run. Played mermaids and dolphins for an hour, then I hit the deep end for a few quick lengths while she dried off. Realized how woeful my form is - swim classes are definitely in order! Played catch with my son - great work for my pitching arm!

Monday - 1K walk at lunch, Curves after dinner.

Slow ball? Fast ball? Wonder what she's got up her sleeve...

Tuesday - 1K walk at lunch. Made Julie's Lasanga Cupcakes for dinner (YUM), then played catch with my daughter. Lots of bending and running and stretching to get the ball - she's still working on her aim :-)

Wednesday - Zumba AND Bootcamp. Having a hard time lifting my arms this evening!

Thursday - Rest day. 
Speaking of insprations - I'm really looking forward to meeting the Davis Boys!

Friday - Curves after dinner, including some pretty great cardio! Hey - the Do Life tour hits Toronto in a week!

Finally - here are the Week 3 'Queen of the Circuit' challenges:

Drink more water this week - Check - I'm noticing a trend here...
Avoid one carb this week - Check -  I gave up pasta. Those lasanga cupcakes were made with wonton wrappers!
Get out for a walk - Check.
Play one weekly game - Check
Do one Boot Camp - Check
Set a Goal this Week - Check -
Check Body Mass - Check - BMI sitting at 32.5
Workout three times - Check

Friday, June 17, 2011

Trying Something New - Kayaking!

I can't think of a nicer way to spend a beautiful early summer evening. How fabulous!

I saw a deal on Groupon a while back for a kayak lesson and guided tour along the Humber River, and snapped it up for my son and myself. I've never been kayaking before and was eager to give it a try!

Setting out - my son's a natural!
We had a brief lesson in paddle theory and then hit the water. We found this fairly easy to learn and had fun practising steering, going backwards, turning around, speeding up, stopping quickly - and managed not to tip over! We then paddled along a very peaceful route out and back, about 5K in total.

Think my son found this a bit tricky, simply because he was using adult-sized equipment. Once he grows a bit taller, this will be no sweat for him. Still - my buddy paddled 5K after a busy day at school and didn't complain once. Well done!

I had a great time...and...well...couldn't stop admiring my rippling arm muscles. OK, maybe not rippling, but all of the hours that I've put in at the gym made this tour a breeze. But then, I guess that's really the point of the gym - to make people strong enough to Do Life. I don't think that I genuinely understood that until now.

An aside - I've lived in Toronto for over 20 years and had never been to the Humber River area before this. Why, I do not know, especially since it's a reasonably fast drive from my house. After tonight, we'll certainly be back - this is a beautiful spot in the heart of the city, yet the only sounds we could hear were water, ducks, geese and cormorants. Can't wait to check out the bike trails in the region.

Interested in trying this yourself? Check out our guides at

Here's this week's recap -
Pit stop during Saturday's ride. Hard to tell, but that's my bike helmet on the left side of the table.
Saturday - Stiff as heck after yesterday's boot camp. Tried to loosen up with 5K on my bike to the Farmer's Market, Starbucks and home again. Later - did about an hour of cleanup in the garden and went on a 3K stroll with the kids and neighbours. Love being outside so many hours in one day!

Sunday - Celebrated a wedding for my husband's cousin. Beautiful ceremony for a very lovely couple! Very little moving and very much nibbling.

Monday - Stairs to 7 in AM, Curves + 27 pushups after dinner. My abs are STILL tender after last week's boot camp!

Tuesday - Stairs to 7 in AM, 1.1K power walk at lunch.

Wednesday - Stairs to 7 + 1.5K power walk at lunch; Zumba AND boot camp after dinner.

Beautiful evening at the park
Thursday - Stairs to 7 + 1K walk at lunch; stroll down to the park & wiffle ball after dinner.

See that smile? I'm loving this!
Friday - Kayaking. So lovely. At the end of the tour, our guides gave us passes for half-price canoeing lessons...can't wait to give that a try!

Finally, Here are the Week 2 'Queen of the Circuit' challenges -

Drink more water - Check
Give up a sweet - Check - gave up my after-lunch piece of chocolate. Grrrrr.
Try a new healthy recipe - Check - found a low-fat banana bread recipe, made it with my son
Bring in a picture of yourself - Check
Workout 3x - This will be a check after tomorrow's workout.
Attend a boot camp class - Check
Check body mass - Check - dropped from 38.0 (gulp) to 37.6

Friday, June 10, 2011

Last Queen Standing: Week 1 of 10

So - my Curves has started a new contest: Queen of the Circuit. This is the start of 10 weeks of challenges to support an ultimate goal of losing 10% of body fat.

Did I sign up? You know I did!

Turns out that I am fiercely competitive - especially against myself - and I want to see if I can commit to this.

This competition is coming just in time to get me back on track. I have noticed that my portion sizes are starting to become a bit more...generous...and my habit of reaching for treats is starting to become a bit more...frequent. Not good!


Week 1 Challenges:

Inital Weigh in - Check
Drink More Water -  Check - easy, I love water
Give up one bad food  - Check - harder to do - I stopped picking up tasty tasty Pizzaiolo for lunch!
Call a Friend - Check - went out for dinner with friends from the neighbourhood
Book a Retraining Session - Check
Workout 3x - Check
Take one Boot Camp Class - Check - and it kicked my butt!

Here's this week's recap:

Carb loading - my favourite!
While wheat pasta with pomodoro sauce, roaster red peppers and spinach. YUM!
Saturday - Took the kids to my SIL's for a birthday party for our nephew, then left our kids there for a sleepover - today is our wedding anniversary! Went out to dinner (see above carb loading) and a movie (X-Men First Class - excellent prequel), then home early to be ready for tomorrow's race!

Hamming it up with my nephew on Sunday afternoon
Sunday - The Becel Ride for Heart, home for a shower, then out to pick up the kids. We met everyone at a park, played with the cousins and went on a nature walk before heading home. Took a lovely nap in the hammock with my daughter when we got home.

Monday - Stairs from 7 to 9 and back again about 8 times, racing back and forth from the office to a meeting. Curves after dinner.

Tuesday - Rest day.

Wednesday - Crazy heat wave day! Zumba + 39 pushups after dinner.

Walking past the Courthouse - can't  help but dip my hand when I pass a fountain
 Thursday - 2.5 walk in the morning, 1.8K round trip walk in the evening to go out for dinner.

Boot Camp did me in!
Friday - 1.5K walk at lunch, Boot Camp class (including 56 pushups) and Curves after dinner. OMG that was intense.

What I'm reading this week - Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Monday, June 6, 2011

25K Ride for Heart? Check!

The Becel Ride for Heart - what a fabulous event! Hands down, my favourite so far and definitely a race that I'll do again next year. It helped that the weather was stunningly beautiful!

This one was one of my big, scary goals for 2011 and I'm wicked proud of myself for doing it.
After crossing the finish line
If you're not familiar with this event: Toronto closes two major highways for this one every spring. Follow the Gardiner east alongside Lake Ontario, then head north on the DVP through the beautiful Don Valley before turning back to the start.

This being my first time, I picked the 25K course (there are also 50K and 75K routes). This was a reasonably easy course with a few gradual slopes, two short hills and a beautiful view - and how cool was it to be riding on these car-free highways?!
Ever take a picture of yourself during a ride? Flattering, no?
Didn't realize that my helmet was sitting that far back - time to adjust it.
# of times that I stopped: 1 (15 seconds at the turn-around to text my progress to my husband)

# of hills that I walked up: 0

# of hills that I wanted to walk up but rode up anyway: 1

# of bugs that I swallowed: 0

Amount of food that I ate after crossing the finish line: Vast. Thank you to the organizers for having fresh fruit, bagels, juice, water and granola bars on hand. So appreciated.

Now, I call that a successful race!

I am very proud to say that I finished in 1H10 - but disappointed that it was over so quickly! I am definitely signing up for the 50K route for 2012. It comes with more hills so will be more challenging - but that's a good thing, right? Make that one my first big, scary goal for next year!

How was your weekend?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Keeping the Jitters in Perspective

It's the weirdest thing - about 2 weeks before an event, I develop a sore joint. Usually a knee or an elbow, but sometimes a shoulder. Anything like this happen to you?

Right on schedule, my knee started acting up last week - exactly two weeks before the Becel Ride.

It's not a strain from overtraining. I'd have to overtrain for it to be that ;-)

It's Phase 1 of the pre-race jitters, and it's all in my head.

I think it's my body offering me an out in case I want to chicken out. Can't do a ride with a bum knee, right?

Fortunately this kind of thing always passes with time, and ultimately gets replaced by the helpful jitters that show up a day or two before the event - the ones that get the adrenaline flowing, make sure that I get my race kit organized on time and don't oversleep on race day. Those I don't mind.

Do I need more self-confidence? Probably.

Have I ever backed out of a race because of it? Nah. I'm careful to tell lots of people about my upcoming events, which means there'd be too many people to answer to if I bailed on one!

I think this case of the jitters is pretty easy to figure out - it's been a wet, rainy spring and I've barely been on my bike at all. Actually - until this week, I HAVEN'T been on my bike at all - I've been riding my husband's for the past year while mine waited patiently for a repair. His bike fits me reasonably well so I've been making due.

So - in the back of my mind, I've been anxious about finding the time to get my own bike repaired in time for the Ride, and about being ready seeing as how the longest ride I've taken this season is 8K...and that was on the level track at the park.

Solved both of those problems this week!

1 - Husband got my bike over to the shop in time for us to pick it up a full week before the ride. So great to have my shiny red bike back. It rides like a dream!

2 - The owners of the shop wished me well on the upcoming Ride and told me to think about doing the 50K course. "If you can do 25K, you can do 50. If you can do 50, you can do ANYTHING."

Understand that these are not buff, athletic people trying to convince me that something crazily challenging is as easy as pie. They are just average folks who have a lot of encouragement to offer.

With their morale-boosting words in mind, I headed out for a training run on Sunday. Did almost 14K and it was awesome!

Huh...look at knee doesn't hurt any more.

And they've got me thinking about the 50K for next year. Bring it on!

Here's this week's recap -

At the playground of the first drive-in of the season
Saturday - Spent half the day at the spring carnival at the kids' school - it's my 6th year running the loot bag table - then picked up my bike and went home for a family nap before heading out to the drive in! Love, love, love the time before the show - playing on the retro playground, being out in the evening air, so many kids running around in their PJs, no rushing involved. Also love the great prices on the big tub o' popcorn and carton o' Junior Mints. Love those a little too much, actually.

Check out the historic trail marker. And yes, that's my shiny red bike.
Added a handle-bar mounted pouch this weekend - perfect size for keys, blackberry, snack and a raincoat.
Sunday - 13.9K ride on my bike. So happy to be back in the saddle! I live in the heart of the city and am reasonably comfortable dodging traffic, potholes and sewer grates when I ride on the streets, but I'm lucky to have nearby both a cemetery that can take me fairly far north and a trail that can take me a ways east-west. It's an interesting trail that follows the path of a defunct railway line. I really like the markers that indicate where the stations used to be. Played catch and wiffle ball with the kids for a long time after dinner. Love spring evenings.

Monday - Short walk at lunch, Curves after dinner.

Tuesday - Rest day.

Wednesday - This was some good toning for my arms: the  front gardens needed watering and I was too lazy to drag the hose to the front yard, so I made 12 trips back and forth to the kitchen to fill my big watering can and haul it outside.

Took the kids for a 2K training run after dinner - big mistake. We were all too full from dinner to do more than stroll, and all got upset stomachs from trying to move quickly. Lesson learned - and how! 33 pushups later in the evening.

Thursday - 1K fast walk at lunch, Zumba + 30 pushups after dinner.

As happy as a kid in a candy store. Wait - he IS a kid in a candy store!

Friday - Race kit pickup day! Treated the kids to a trip to Sugar Mountain afterwards. Hey - life can't be ALL about fruit and veg, right? 

What I'm reading this week - When we were strangers by Pamela Schoenewaldt.