Sunday, October 30, 2011

Women's Run 5K? Check!

My daughter has been watching her brother go out for races with me this year and said a few months ago that she wanted to do a 5K with me herself.

I've been hearing great things about the Toronto Women's Runs and thought the October run would be the perfect 5K for us to do together.

I've been a bit nervous about this - she's fit, but she's only 7-1/2. She found the Do Life 5K back in July long and tiring, which meant a lot of complaining on the way to the finish line. I've been reminding myself that it was a warm day, we did a lot of visiting & walking before we even got to the start and I think she was a bit tired when we started - and she's young.

But she's been emphatic that she wants to do a 5K with Mom. So I signed us up and we've been doing some training. Power walking with the dog, doing some slow running now and then, that sort of thing.

A fair bit of our preparation has been pep talks and setting expectations. It's a mirror to the kinds of things I told myself before my own first 5K -

"We're going to show up, walk as much as we need to, run when we want to, and eventually cross the finish line."

"Who cares how long it takes us - you're setting a personal record just by showing up at the start line."

And a few incentives:

"It's a women's only run - and they've got fire fighters at the water station! And chocolate at the finish line! And medals for everyone!"

She's been looking forward to it all fall.

The day before the run, she confessed that she was nervous but that she has been telling herself that if her brother can do 5K, so can she. OK, I'm impressed.

She really got into the routine of getting ready for a race - planning her race day breakfast (bowl of Vector with milk, sliced banana), going to packet pickup, deciding what to wear and making plans to hook up with Mom's friends for a finish line picture. She's seen the rest of us do this for our races and was very pleased to be going through the pre-race rituals herself. 

Morning of the race? She woke up early, happy and excited.

We met up with a few friends who were doing the 8K run -  

Sarah, Rachel, me, my daughter
...cheered them on as they started, then waited for our own gun to go off.

Bibs on and stopping for a quick picture before heading to the start corral
Did our stretching, watched the clock, and then we were off!

And she was AMAZING.

She did a slow and steady run for about the first 300 metres...then slowed down and said "I'm tired, how much further is it?" That had me kind of worried, but after that? No complaints from her.  

See her right hand? She had a pocket full of Smarties and popped one every 1/2K. That helped :-)

Visualization also helped. Before the run, we had talked about how the distance from our house to our dog park is 1K, so we used that to measure our progress. "1K - we made it to the dog park!" "2K - we made it home!"  "3K - we're back at the dog park" and so on.

Turnaround marker at 2.5K...firefighters and water at 3K...she's still smiling at 3.5K (above)...cracking jokes at 4K ("you've got my next Smartie - hand it over!")...

Aaaaand before we knew it - THERE'S THE FINISH LINE!


We both put on a burst of speed, flew past my cheering husband and son, and finished with a smile.

Got our medals and ran back to the finish line to cheer on Rachel and Sarah. Stopped for a group pic:

Finally getting to be in an after-race pic with the girls.
...then collected the goodie bags that the organizers were giving out. Bananas, almonds, water, bagels and Lara bars.  And chocolate!

So, so proud of my girl. She really earned that finisher's medal. She amazed me with how strong she is, but also with how disciplined and determined she can be. She had a great time at the race and is floating on air with pride for having done this. She also showed beautiful race etiquette on the course (just like her big brother) and it was a real pleasure to run with her.

She's in no hurry to do another race, but I'm sure she'll be back when she's a bit older. Like Rachel said to her - you'll find yourself getting addicted to these things!

OH!!! Our finish time! I really didn't know how long this would take her, and was hoping for about an hour.


She sure showed me.

We finished in 43:59.


As for the race itself? This was a very, very fun run and was an incredibly well-organized event on a beautiful course. I'll definitely be back in 2012!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Am I Scared? or Sensible?

You may have noticed my friend Emma showing up here on and off over the past year. She's run most of the 5Ks that I've done, including the Warrior Dash.

Emma is the muddy one here - 2nd from the right
Emma has a ton of 5K and 10K races under her belt  - you should see how many medals she's earned this year alone! - and has a not-so-secret longing to run longer distances. She recently registered with Team in Training and will use their support to train for the Around the Bay 30K race in March 2012.

I am very, very proud of Emma. I certainly can't let her cross the finish line on something as big as this without being there to cheer her on - so 4 of us (all Warriors!) will make a weekend out of it with her. Might as well do some running ourselves while we wait, right?

(Updated to add - our power-walking friend Lynda has just signed up for the 30K too!!)

Around the Bay has a relay option as well as a 5K. I was considering doing a 10K for the first time as part of a relay, but quite frankly the distance intimidated me. I've signed up for the 5K, and the other 3 Warriors will run the relay.

Hang on a second.

Did I just let fear talk me out of trying something new? Or am I being sensible?


I recognize that I have a hard time breaking out of my comfort zone and trying new, bigger things. I also know that I've never let fear keep me away from a start line once I've committed to something.

But here's the thing - I have absolutely no desire to do a 10K. Well, sure, I'd like to be able to brag that I've done a 10 but I don't actually want to DO one. Unless it's on a bike. Put a bike under me and I'll ride to the other side of the continent. But on foot? Um, no. Not interested.

What I DO want to do is concentrate on getting faster and more powerful for 5Ks. I've been using them as a benchmark of my increasing fitness levels, and am very, very proud to see that I've dropped 4min10sec from my time from 10 months ago. I know I can improve on that. I'm currently doing about 75% power walking, 20% slow running, and 5% recovery walking, and am working on changing those ratios.

That may sound like rationalization, and it might be.

But at the same time, I've noticed that since I started running short distances regularly over the past few months, an old knee injury has been whispering nasty things to me now and then. My shins are mildly tender most of the time. And a full week after my last 5K, I noticed that my hips still ached a bit if I sat still for too long. All of that is unnerving me a bit.

I'm sure that a lot of this has to do with the extra 35 pounds that I'm carrying around. Yes, I'm working on that - but at the same time I really don't want to end up sidelined with an injury. 

I have made a point of setting big, scary goals for myself the last couple of years, and 2012 is no different. I am forcing myself to try new things - although it's very much on my own terms, I am trying to break out of my comfort zone on a somewhat regular basis.

So - am I sticking to the 5K because I'm scared of trying a longer course? Or am I being sensible? Or am I genuinely not interested in trying longer distances on foot?

I'm sure it's a mix of all of the above. Not quite sure how I feel about the fear part of this mix. Something to think about.

Here's this week's recap -

Saturday - 2K run a block/walk 2 blocks with the dog, followed by Curves + 25 pushups. Later - took the dog and my daughter 2.7K round trip to a playground. She rode her bike; Stella and I did run-a-block, walk-a-block to keep up with her.

Sunday - 2K dog park walk, followed by Curves + 25 pushups. Later - we hosted a family lunch and ended up taking the kids and dogs to the park - yep, that's Round 2 of the 2K dog park walk. At the end of the day, I took Stella for a 2K stroll around the neighbourhood. I am going to sleep very well tonight.

Monday's sunset. Beautiful.
Depressing though - it's only 6.20pm.
Monday - 2K dog park walk after dinner, 1K run a block/walk a block before bed.

Tuesday - Rest day. 1K dog walk.

Wednesday - Zumba + Curves circuit + 25 pushups + 2K run/walk with the dog.

Thursday - 2K dog park walk, Curves + an abs class.

Friday - Race kit pickup day! My daughter and I are doing a 5K tomorrow morning. Fingers crossed for good weather...there's a rumour of wet weather in the morning :-(

Speaking of races - I found a few pics online from the Scotiabank Waterfront 5K that my son and I did two weeks ago:

Is it possible? Am I ENJOYING myself? :-)

Gotta check the timer - How'd I do? How'd I do??

Happy but oh so tired and FREEZING cold!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Scotiabank Waterfront 5K? Check!

My fall race season has started!! My son and I kicked things off with the 5K course on the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Bit of a chilly breeze coming off of the lake, and I'm grateful that we were able to wait inside a conference centre before it was time to start. Once the race started and we got moving, we warmed right up though.

Waiting for the start. Brrrrr.
Check out the glow from the Epic Orange Jacket.
Oh, how'd we do? We both PR'd!

40:03 for me (prev PR 40:43), 38:26 for him (prev 39:25). Just call us speedy. Well, speedier!

This was a good race for me. I did more running than ever before and felt reasonably strong. So great to see my fitness improving measurably over time. I do believe that I was scowling  when I crossed the finish line though...will be interesting to see what my official photos look like!

You know what's great? That my son is old enough (and responsible enough) that I could let him go at his own pace and meet him at the finish line. He knows that his time is a true measure of what he's capable of at this stage, that he wasn't held back by needing to stick close to Mom. I was able to run with him here and there on the course but also listen to my iPod the rest of the time - which is a huge help for me.

I do have a few complaints about the race - 

1. Like all big events, this one attracted a lot of new runners, and there were a number of student groups (i.e. pre-teens) participating. Great to see them competing - BUT - so very few of them knew anything about race etiquette. Walkers walking 5 abreast right down the middle of the course, kids weaving in and out and in and out and in and out of the pack, walkers strolling down the left...the right...the middle. Sigh. The course was wide enough that I was able to get around but all of this was a big, big pain and really interrupted the flow of the course. Race organizers - especially for these big events - should seriously include a race etiquette 101 in the info that they send out before the event.

I know, I know - I was a rookie participant myself not that long ago, but I was fortunate enough to have experienced racers give me a briefing before my first event, and I have drilled proper etiquette into my son from Day 1.

2. No distance markers for most of the course! I don't have a Garmin and really rely on course markers to know how far we've gone. The first distance marker we got was at the 4K mark.  Other 5Ks that I've done (even those that were part of a marathon course) marked every KM and sometimes even the halfway mark. Can someone tell me: is this a valid complaint for a 5K, or have I just gotten lucky/spoiled in the past?

Anyway - we finished stong and sweaty!

Laura (who did the half marathon!), Emma, Rachel, me, my son
Wearing my lucky St. Pat's 5K shirt and my Resolution Run jacket.
Enter enough races and you never need to go shopping for workout clothes again.
We hit the food stands for Gatorade, water and fruit, then hopped on the subway and went out for brunch. I ate a huge caprese omelet (tomatoes, bocconcini cheese and basil pesto - YUM); he had the home fries and a Coke. Think this is the 6th or so Coke he's ever had in his entire life. Not the world's best recovery meal - but he talked me into it. He DID need to replenish his salt and sugars...right?

Still wearing his race bib. Not pictured: I'm wearing my medal. And my bib.
So - what's next?

My daughter and I are doing a 5K at the end of the month. No PRs will be set by me - this one will be all about getting her across the finish line. After that, I am hoping to find one for my son and I in November or early December that fits my calender, and the Resolution Run at the end of December. We both want to see what we can do to our times before the end of the year. Better keep jogging with the dog at night.

What's coming up on your race calendar?

Here's this week's recap:

Saturday - 2K dog park walk + a take-it-easy workout at Curves + 20 pushups.

Sunday - My husband's birthday, and he was very sweet to not complain about us spending it at the race. I took the dog on a 2K dog park walk first thing, he took our daughter to the zoo during the 5K, and I took the dog on another 2K dog park walk after we got home. I have to admit that I was feeling very sorry for my poor, tired self about going on that second dog walk...until I read about Fauja Singh, who at 100 years-old finished the marathon today in 8:25:16. Huh. OK, I officially feel like a whiner now.

Teaching Stella to play fetch. She's definitely obedient and well socialized but doesn't know many tricks.
She lived with two other dogs and only one human in her last home, so we're guessing that her playtime was mainly with the dogs. Kids have taught her to shake a paw; fetch is coming along nicely.
Monday - 2k dog park walk + Curves for an easy recovery workout + 10 pushups.

Tuesday - Rest day. Thank goodness. 1K dog walk before bed.

Wednesday - Zumba + Curves circuit + 20 pushups + 1.2K dog walk. Phew.

Thursday - 2K dog park walk. You know something? My hips are still a bit sore after the race. OH - and it's my birthday today!! Happy Birthday to Me! We went out for Indian food - the best dal, chana masala and homemade naan in town - fabulous!

My favourite present? A new necklace featuring a triathalon spinner from - it's to keep me motivated to train for the two try-a-tris I want to do next summer!
Had a look through their website tonight and couldn't help but notice all of the other charms that I would love love love to pick up. Pretty sure that I'll be getting the "bike" one after next summer's 50K Ride for Heart.

Friday - 2K dog park walk. Followed by taking two children shopping for winter gear. Sigh.

Friday, October 14, 2011

400 Workouts? CHECK!

I started this year with 307 workouts under my belt. One of my goals for this year was to hit my 400th before I turn 40 this month.


This goal was a pretty practical one in that it got me to hit the gym regularly all year. I had room on the calendar for my vacation time and for a couple of days off for any particularly busy weeks, but otherwise? Cranky? Tired? Feeling lazy?  Too bad. Go and get your shoes on.

It worked! Got me to the gym even when I wasn't feeling like it. And you know that once I was there, I never regretted being there.

What's next...hmmm...maybe I can hit 500 before the kids finish school at the end of June?

Speaking of goals, I've hit 3 of my 6 for 2011 so far. I'm on track for the fitness-related ones...but I've got some work to do to accomplish the weightloss related ones. Huh.

How are you doing with your goals for this year??

Here's this week's recap:

Ready to get spooked? Check.
Saturday - 2K dogpark walk and Curves + 25 pushups in the AM. The 400th! In the evening, went on another Ghost Walk with my son, @3K. Old City Hall, Elgin Theatre, St. Michael's Hospital, Mackenzie House, Ryerson University and the Massey Mansion. Spooooky spooky.

Old City Hall. Beware of Courtroom 33.
The Tour Guys put on a fantastic series of historical walking tours - both spooky and non - and I highly recommend that you check them out if you are ever visiting Toronto or Vancouver.

He got Stella to pull him around on his scooter after this was taken. There was lots of giggling involved.
Sunday - Thanksgiving dinner with my inlaws. Beautiful, warm fall day. Kids had a great time riding their scooters around the paths behind Grandma's house. After dinner, my MIL and I took the dogs and kids for a long walk down by the lake. The lake was shimmering with the full moon and it was warm enough to leave the jackets behind. Perfect.

Since I mention the dog park so frequently, you should probably see a picture of it. It's a beautiful spot. This is about 1/3 of it.
Monday - Thanksgiving holiday. 2K dog park walk before breakfast. Another stunningly beautiful day. Hit Cherry Beach for a few hours of splashing around and soaking up the sun.

At the beach on October 10. Unbelievable!
Tuesday - Spent half the day in the car taking kids places. 1K dog walk before bed.

Wednesday - Zumba + Curves + 25 pushups + 1K dog walk.

Thursday - Stairs to 7 in AM + 2K dog walk + Curves + 15 pushups.

At the Inspiration Wall. Very inspirational.
Friday - 2K dog park walk, followed by one of my favourite things: race kit pickup!! Got our bibs and chips for Sunday's 5K, then browsed around the expo. Guess who we ran into:

Hello, John Stanton!
As busy as he was, John made time to chat with everyone. We chatted briefly about weight loss and fitness, he congratulated my son and I both on being active, asked my son if I'm more fun of a mom now that I'm active (he said 'yes', good boy!) and he graciously agreed to have his picture taken with us. Nice way to end off the expo. Looking forward to the run on Sunday!

Friday, October 7, 2011

October already?

That means it's race season!

Between vacations, summer heat and the back to school chaos, I chose not to sign up for anything after early July.

But now it's October - the heat is behind us, everyone is settled into their fall routines and it's race season again!

I am kicking this fall off with a 5K on 10/16 with my son, followed by a women's only 5K on 10/29 with my daughter. Planning to do the Santa Shuffle on 12/3 and the Resolution Run on 12/31. My son want to do both of those - especially since the Resolution Run comes with a spiffy jacket!

After that - our climate doesn't really allow for outdoor races in January/February, so we will have to take a break until March. We'll go skating, swimming and sledding instead :-)

I do need to check out the race calendars a bit more closely - I don't really want to do the same...races...every...season - that will get boring in a hurry. Anyone in the Toronto area have any suggestions for events (in any season) ?

Looking forward to next weekend's 5K. Fingers crossed for a PR. Hoping that the almost-daily dog runs have helped!

Here's this week's recap -

Saturday - 2K dog park walk; 1.5K run-a-block/walk-a-block before bed.

The cousins love getting together. Even more fun when both families have new dogs.
Sunday - 1K dog walk + Curves + 25 pushups in the morning, then out of town for brunch and a hike with my in-laws. 1.5K run-a-block/walk-a-block before bed.

Monday - 2K dog park walk. Curriculum night at the school afterwards.

Tuesday - Stairs to 7 in AM.

Wednesday - Curves + 25 pushups after dinner, followed by a 2K run-a-block/walk-a-block.

Out with my son (who took the pic) and my dog for our almost-nightly run/walk.
The Epic Orange Jacket from last year's Resolution Run is perfect for after dark!

Thursday - Stairs to 7 in AM. 2.2K run-a-block/walk-a-block before bed.

Friday - Mysterious tickle in the back of my throat. I'd better not be getting sick! Took a rest day.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

What's Your Barometer?

Aside from the scale, what do you use to gauge your weight?

For me, it's the way my pants fit - particularly the favourite pair of pants that I wear to work. I've been buying the same style for the last few years and can count on them to show me if I've lost weight or if I've stayed the same - or warn me if any weight is trying to creep back on. My real joy? When it's time to buy a new pair in a smaller size.

That's what we're supposed to do, right? If your pants start to get tight, it's supposed to set off an alarm in your head that it's time to watch what you're eating more closely or get more exercise.

That's a pretty basic concept - but it's not something that I paid attention to back before I started moving. I put on a lot of weight slowly and steadily over a number of years, and never once changed my eating habits because of the way my clothes fit. If my pants were tight, it was a sign that it was time to go buy a bigger pair. I certainly didn't take it as a warning that I was eating too much junk and too much food overall. 


Why was I missing that basic lesson - that our clothes are a good barometer of our changing shape and size, that they show us if what we are doing is working or not? And that we need to change our habits appropriately if it's not?

Something to ponder. Maybe I just liked food too much to care.

No sense in being annoyed that it took me so long to figure this out. Better to be happy that I've got it sorted out now.

On a related note - I mentioned a week ago that I have joined a weight-loss challenge at my office. It's only been a week, but I'm off to a good start, back into the routine of planning my meals, taking my lunches and snacks, and tracking my food on My Fitness Pal.

And I noticed yesterday that my pants seem a bit loose.

That's pretty fabulous. Here's hoping that it gives me the motivation I need to stay the course!

Here's this week's recap -

Saturday - my ziplining adventure; 1.5K dog walk

Sunday - Beautiful day! Took the kids and the dog on the ferry across to the Toronto Islands. We had a lot of fun playing at the beach with Stella as well as generally exploring and strolling around for a few hours.

Monday - stairs to 7 in AM, 2K dog park walk, Curves, 1.5K walk before bed

Tuesday - 2K dog park walk before dinner, 1.1K walk before bed

Wednesday - stairs to 7 in AM, 1K dog walk; Zumba + twice around the Curves circuit + 25 pushups after dinner;  2K run-a-block/walk-a-block before bed.

Thursday - 2K dog park walk before dinner; 2K dog walk before bed. Just a thought - that may be part of the reason why my pants are getting loose...

Friday - 2K dog park walk after dinner.