Friday, July 29, 2011

Vacation Week 2 - Camping!

My husband has been on vacation with us this week, and we went camping! We met up with his sister and her family and checked into a provincial park on Lake Huron for 5 days.

We were blessed with great weather (mostly) and a beautiful park!

We went swimming:

I may be half hidden here - but did I really just post a picture of myself in a swimsuit?

Climbed the dunes:


Went kayaking and canoeing:

Just like her brother - this kid is a natural in a kayak

Biked some more:

I took this one - that's my bike in the front left corner
Cllimbed the dunes a few more times:

Swam, swam, swam -

Aaaaand sat around the campfire every night and ate about a million smores...

It was really great to watch the younger kids turn from city cyclists to road warriors on their bikes - they were a bit unsure about the conditions at first, but quickly conquered forest trails, pot-hole filled roads, gravel, sand and hills. So proud of them!

As my SIL says - camping is a lot of work, but it's soooo much fun. We had a great time and I can't wait for our next adventure.

Special thanks to my SIL for taking so many pictures of me - I needed proof for Ana that I was active on my vacation!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Vacation - and a Heat Wave!

I've been on vacation with the kids this week - perfect time for a crazy heatwave to show up!

For our non-metric friends, that's 99F and feels like 120F. OMG.
So - how are we beating the heat?

We headed to the movies twice:

Hit the Science Centre:
Goofing around at the reptile exhibit
 Went to my mom's for a couple of days, where we soaked up some history at Saint-Marie Among the Hurons:

...met a ton of animals at a wildlife rehabilitation centre - bear, cougar, wolves, moose, ravens, owls, bald eagles and more:

Clover the Groundhog
Creeping up on a chipmunk
...and went to the beach a couple of times. Oh boy did we go to the beach!

 And the splashpad:

And the park - where a really cool new dizzy-go-round has been installed:

Oh yes - and I managed to hit the gym two times - only two - I ended up with the flu one day :-(

Lesson learned - don't chug a full bottle of water after a workout and then go out in weather this hot. It will give you a stomach ache and make you look like this:

My daughter, on the other hand, is smart enough to SIP her water

Friday, July 15, 2011

I Heart My Trainer

Meet Ana.

She's amazing.

I have sweat bucket and buckets of sweat because of Ana.

Remember in last week's Warrior Dash recap  when I mentioned that I "mentally thanked every boot camp class, every workout...I've ever been on for making me strong enough to keep going"?

That was Ana. Ana made me strong enough to keep going.

My gym is a Curves. The standard Curves workout is circuit training with a coach on hand to supervise everyone on the circuit and correct form if needed.

It works.

But Ana takes this a hundred steps further.

Ana leads a great cardio workout on the recovery stations on the circuit - and watches like a hawk to make sure that we don't skimp out on the strength-training on the machines.

Ana dances us into the ground on Zumba nights - and her energy's just as high after teaching back-to-back classes as it was before. You should see that girl shake her hips!

Ana teaches one heck of a mean boot camp - and you neeeeed to feel the burn of her abs class.

Ana pushes us to work to our potential each and every workout - and then pushes us a bit further the next time.

She skillfully uses a fabulous blend of humour, encouragement, wit, sarcasm and motivation on us - with just the right amount of intimidation - and it works. I always have a great time while getting a challenging workout, which pretty much guarantees that I go regularly.

Speaking of which - and you'll hear about it if you DON'T go regularly!

Ana pays attention to what's coming up on my race calendar and makes sure that I work all the right muscle groups. CN Tower Climb. Ride for Heart. 5Ks. Warrior Dash. I'm smashing my personal records each and every time I cross a finish line because of this lady.

Ana - thank you.

Live in Toronto and looking for a gym? Come to mine. You won't regret it!

PS - Can't make it in during Ana's shifts? No worries - her mom works there full-time too. And just who do you think Ana learned to be so fabulous from?

Here's this week's recap:

Saturday - Warrior Dash, shower at my mom's, drive to my SIL's cottage and hit the beach for a nap. Later took the kids and cousins to a nearby pool for a late evening swim + whirlpool (lovely!) before hitting the highway to come home. 
Dirt left over after doing my Warrior Dash laundry. This was after I was washed down with high pressure fire hoses.
Sunday - Laaaazzzzzy morning. Took the kids swimming in the afternoon.

Monday - Curves after dinner.

Tuesday - Took the kids swimming after dinner.

Wednesday - Zumba after dinner.

Thursday - Zumba and an abs class after dinner.

Friday - Stunningly beautiful summer evening. Took the kids to High Park for dinner, batting practice and the playground.

Flopped down on a picnic blanket at the park - a great end to the week!

The Week 6 'Queen of the Circuit' Challenges:
Work out 3 x - check
Thanks to the Warrior Dash, Ana gave me a free pass on the rest of this week's activities :-)

What I'm reading this week - Buying on Time by Antanas Sileika

Sunday, July 10, 2011


 And I don't think I'll ever take off my medal!

I'm wearing a red t-shirt today

 So - a few months ago, I saw this:

...signed up with a few friends and made it my second Big Scary Goal for 2011.

I've been pretty busy with other events this spring...but this has been in the back of my mind the whole season.

I woke up the morning of the race absolutely terrified. The "I'm-not-going-to-get-out-of-bed-and-you-can't-make-me" kind of terrified. I went through the motions though - shower, breakfast, clothes - said goodbye to the kids (we were staying at my mom's) and got in the car with my husband, my faithful roadie ;-)

Drove out to the event, picked up my race kit. A couple of my friends and my sister had to drop out from injuries, but I found the rest and a few new ones:

Leslie, Elissa, Rachel, Sarah, Emma, me

...and headed to the starting line:

Looks like a mild enough starting line, no?
Headed into the course:

...and what a course it was. See the lighter green lines on the course? Those are ski hills. FREAKIN' SKI HILLS!!That we had to run UP. And sometimes DOWN.

OK, now - see the darker green areas? Those are forests. Forests with steep inclines. Inclines so steep that most of them were marked "CAUTION - STEEP INCLINE".

Steep inclines that we HAD TO RUN UP. And sometimes DOWN.

At least they were shady. The ski hills were brutally sunny. I believe I did a lot of cursing on the trails.

What is this event like in flatter parts of the world - like Texas? Couldn't have been anything like this!

Even without the obstacles - the course alone was punishing.

Oh, right - the obstacles! All were challenging, but none were as brutal as I'd feared. Or maybe they were just a welcome break from running the hills?

As you read this list , remember - we had to run up and down SKI HILLS and steep forest trails in between EACH AND EVERY ONE of these:

  • Run through knee deep muddy trenches here and there in the forest (is that compost I smell?)
  • Through tangled rope webs
  • Crawl on hands and knees through a blackout trench
  • Up and over a 15' high (I think?) wall - that was shaking from all the warriors on it
  • Up and across about 20' of webbed rope net
  • Up and over a haybale freakin' mountain
  • Through a junk yard of old tires and over a bunch of junker cars
  • Up and rappel over a sandy hill
  • Slide down a  wet, slick slope 
  • Up and over 30' high cargo nets - also shaking from all the warriors on it
  • Jump over fire
  • Crawl about 30' through a gravel-bottomed (OUCH) mud pit under barbed wire
  • Finish!

I have to say - during the course, my legs were shaking and I was desperate for water. Lots of water. And bananas.

I also mentally thanked every boot camp class, every workout, every bike ride and every hike I've ever been on for making me strong enough to keep going.

Just off the cargo nets and heading to the fire - that's me in the white t-shirt
Seriously? By the time I got to the fire, my legs were so tired I could barely manage a pathetic little hop over it. Not feeling bad about that at all - my husband says some people completely bailed and went around it!

And by the time I got to the mud pit? I was so tired that I needed the threat of barbed wire to force me down on my knees and elbows.

Me in white, about to get REALLY muddy.
See the chair lifts at the top of the hill - yep, those are freakin' SKI HILLS we were running through.

Crossing a finish line has never been so satisfying! Medals, water, bananas and photo ops:

Emma and I. Extra points if you can see my race bib.
Lots of fun photo ops:

Sarah, Elissa, me, Emma
Some very nice firefighters hosed us down - with fire hoses and heart-stoppingly cold water. We cleaned up as best as we could, and hit the food tent for beer, turkey legs (not me) and veggie burgers (that's more like it).

We totally earned those fuzzy helmets!
Somewhere in there, I had the presence of mind to ask my husband what time it was, and almost fell over from shock.

We finished in 1:05.

One hour and five minutes.

We trudged through 5 kilometres of ski hills, punishing forest trails and a dozen obstacles.

And finished in one hour and five minutes.

I'm crazy proud of us. Wicked proud of myself.

I think I'll keep my medal on for a few more days. Actually - I don't think I'll ever take it off.

Later that day - on the beach at my SIL's cottage.
Wearing my medal.

PS - This event was amazingly well organized. From parking to shuttle bus to checkin, from start to finish on the course, and the after party - every single detail was well planned. Very, very impressive - well done Red Frog!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Cause and Effect (AKA When Will I Learn?)

Over the weekend, I make the mistake of having a few chips.

Which over the following days turned into more chips, then chocolate, pizza, Diet Coke and ice cream. I think there was a cookie or two in there as well.

Which had me feeling lousy for making so many slipups, and also low on energy from not fuelling myself properly.

Being low on energy made it very tempting to skip the gym...but thanks to the Last Queen Standing challenge, I went.

And now that I've been to the gym, I feel much better. More in control. Over the hump.

I've heard a quote from David Kessler to the effect that certain foods prime us for overeating. Clearly chips are the one for me.

So. When will I learn? I'm not entirely sure that I've beaten this one yet.

What do you struggle with?

Here's this week's recap:

Aaaand we're off! Running past Ben as he tries to take a pic of the group - that's me in red; my husband is in the right corner.
Saturday - After the Toronto Do Life 5K, we hit the highway. Went out of town for a BBQ with my husband's family. Lovely time, including wading in a beautiful creek, playing catch, and general hanging with the family. Later, headed a few blocks over to my cousin's house for a sleepover.
Seriously wishing that this was in my backyard

Sunday - Rest day. Splashed around in the pool with kids and cousin, brunched and relaxed before hitting the highway to come back home.

Monday - Curves after dinner.

Tuesday - Ice cream. 'Nuff said.

Wednesday - Zumba AND an abs class after dinner. Ow.

Thursday - Zumba and once around the circuit after dinner

Friday - Packed up and hit the highway after work. The Warrior Dash is in the morning!! Have to admit that I'm panicking a bit...!

The Week 5 'Queen of the Circuit' Challenges:
Drink more water - check
Workout 3 times - check
Do three extra reps on each station - check
Do an abs class - check
Play a game - Warrior Dash counts for this :-)
Bring in a healthy recipe - check

What I'm reading this week - Sookie Stackhouse stories by Charlaine Harris

Monday, July 4, 2011

Jen Does Life

There was no other possible title for this post :-)

On Saturday morning, we headed downtown, met up with Ben and Pa...

...42 more really, really nice people and a puppy...

People came from all around the GTA, Ottawa, Boston and beyond!
 ...chatted for a while with some new friends, bought some really great medal hangers from the designer himself...

...and then the Do Life CEO kicked things off with a few motivational words ("Anyone want to skip the run and go straight to lunch?"):

Made our way over to the very official starting line of the Toronto Do Life International Official Unofficial 5K:

...and we were off!

An out and back course, my favourite!

Sprinted to the finish line:


...and ended with a smile:

A bunch of us went for lunch afterwards:

...talked up a storm, laughed a lot, swapped stories, and generally had a great time. I've never seen a group of total strangers click so quickly! We heard inspiring stories of weight loss and lifestyle changes from everyone we talked to. Some people had just run their first 5K, others were training for their next half-marathon - and everyone was there to celebrate Doing Life. Such a fantastic group of people. At the end of our meal, we were all reluctant to say goodbye and go our separate ways.  

Ben - thanks for being such an inspiration. John - thanks for logging so many hours as the Do Life Roadie. It was an honour to meet you both - and thank you for giving us the opportunity to meet so many amazing people.

I'm floored by the fact that you're both training for your next Ironman while on the road. It's impossible to not be inspired by you!
Even better that you are totally goofy :-)
Truly great day. Wishing you all the best with the rest of the tour.