Saturday, November 3, 2012

One of those weeks

It's been another one of those weeks, where a busy calendar threw off my schedule and I couldn't seem to find the time to reschedule my workouts and runs.

I did get in one trip to the gym, one short (2.5K) run and one family stroll. I.m sure if I'd tried harder I would have found time, but this week really flew by.

Here's a recap -

Sunday - rest day following the Women's Run 8K.

Monday - Gym for a circuit and body sculpting...then spent the evening storm-proofing to get ready for the fallout from Hurricane Sandy. We had a mild enough evening, but lots of wind and rain overnight.

Tuesday -  Woke up to find that a neighbour's tree went down in the wind, missing houses and cars (phew!) but it knocked our power lines down. Husband stayed home to work with Hydro and electricians; I spent the evening doing the standard Tuesday evening stuff - supervising homework, making dinner, driving kids to Brownies & Scouts, taking dog to dog park, picking kids up. Power not back on yet.
Wednesday - Halloween! Power was restored by mid-afternoon; rest of the day was a scramble to get ready for trick-or-treating.
Spooky spooky
Thursday - Together with our neighbours, we hosted a Pumpkin Parade down at our Park. Does your city do this? People bring their pumpkins down to the park, light them and everyone admires them and stays to mingle and chat. Great way to get to know more people in the area.

Friday - snuck in a quick run after work with Stella, then home to get my son ready for a camping trip. 

THE SUN CAME OUT. First time in over a week.
Saturday - down to the lake for a stroll and to let the dog run. Chilly but delightfully sunny.

How was your week? What do you do when life gets in the way of your workouts?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

If You Wait for Perfect Conditions...

Yeahhhhh, I need to look at this one regularly. Repeat it to myself daily. Maybe get it tattooed on the back of my hand.
See, I certainly like the results when I run regularly. But I don't like running when it's hot... humid... wet... rainy... cold... too sunny... too dark... too early in the morning... too late in the day...
Sheesh, I'm a delicate flower, eh?
The funny thing is - I did a race this weekend (Women's Run 8K) in the pouring rain, and the rain didn't bother me in the slightest. Being underprepared from not getting enough training in was a problem, but the rain wasn't!
See, I woke up that morning and lay in bed listening to the rain. Briefly thought about ditching the race but knew I'd regret it if I did. Told myself that the starting gun wasn't going off for a couple of hours and I'd really regret not going if the weather calmed down by then.
Out of bed, showered, breakfast, got dressed and into the car. Still raining.
Drove to the site, parked and sat in my car with coffee and a book until the last possible moment, listening to the rain drumming on the roof.
Once I was finally out of the car...the rain didn't seem THAT bad. Hiked up to bag check, hit the washrooms and lined up in my corral. Ran/walked the 8K, dodged as many puddles as I could, and barely noticed the rain despite getting soaked to the skin.
Do me a favour? Remind me of this the next time that I'm in my cozy house and finding it hard to get out in the weather for a run.
I had a good - not great - time at this race. It's a wonderful event, but lack of training in the last few weeks and poor nutrition that morning (too small breakfast, too close to the start time) meant that I did much more power walking and less running than I would have liked, and I was scraping the bottom of the barrel energy-wise by 7K. I did manage to pick it up in the last 300m for the photographers, though :-)
But I made sure to look around to enjoy the course and the fall colours - the park this race takes place in is gorgeous!  My daughter did the 5K route with me last fall and we had a marvellous time. Also made sure to thank each and every volunteer on and off the course. They were troupers.
And when I got to the finishline, I was so proud of myself. Proud for showing up, proud for not cutting things short by following the 5K-ers, and so proud for finishing an 8K - going longer than 5K is still a really new thing for me.
Here's hoping I actually learned a few things with this race. I'm going to need it to get ready for the 15K I'm doing in March...
Here's a few pics from the last 2 weeks -
New running shoes. Went for a few short runs around the 'hood with the dog.
Got to High Park a couple of times for the dog park...
...and trail running. Stella had a fabulous time in this gigantic mud puddle.
Wasn't too pleased later at home in the shower though. 
Got to Curves a couple of times each week. My daughter likes to come sometimes.
Walking to the start of the Women's Run. Pretty park.
Wilket Creek winds through the park. Can't tell it's raining, can you?

Check out the rain - and how wet my hair is!
This is at about 7.7K. Told you that I pulled it together for the photographers!

Heading into the finish line. Proud. Happy.
8K is in the books! Soaked to the skin but smiling.
Had a complete set of dry clothes in my car. Got changed and wore my medal for the rest of the day - even to the dentist!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Unfinished Business

Ever sign up for a race because you feel like you had unfinished business on the course?
I just did.
Around this time last year, I signed up for the 5K course of the Around the Bay race for March 2012. The full event is a 30K; you can do the full or split it as a 2-or 3-person relay. This was one of those races that I'd been wanting to do, but at the time wasn't anywhere close to being mentally ready to tackle anything longer than a 5K.
So - I did the 5 and cheered my friends on as they did the relay or the full 30K. But I secretly wanted to be on one of those relay teams, and badly wanted to earn one of ATB's "Older than Boston" shirts - which you do not get if you only go for the 5K.
Well, since doing my first 10.5K this season, I'm ready to commit to a few more 10s. I reached out to my running buddies and we started partnering up for the next Around the Bay in March. In teams of two. Wait - what? That means doing 15K each - and winter training. Huh. OK!
This one is definitely going on my list of Big Goals for 2013. Funny thing is, going from the couch to 5K was a lot harder than going from 5K to 10K. And now that I've done 10, 15K seems manageable. Work, yes - but manageable rather than terrifying.
Then again, it seems manageable now, in October. And it will be in March - as long as I put in the training time this winter. Good thing I've got that big dog. That big, half-husky dog. Who loves running and loves winter.
As for unfinished business, I'm also feeling like I have some on the try-a-tri course I did this summer. Have reread my race recap a few times and am trying to decide if I want to give tri another go, or if I'm going to switch to du rather than face open water swimming at a race again. Something to think about.
Recap for this week -
This was a short week, thanks to Thanksgiving on Monday. Made it to the gym for a Zumba class and circuit, took Stella for a 3K run.
My daughter and I went to a wedding on Friday - my trainer, Ana, got married! Beautiful ceremony (not a dry eye in the house), and we did so much dancing that this just about counts as a workout :-) 

Dressed up and ready to go.
Was a rare chance to see my gym friends in non-wicking clothes, with hair and makeup done!

Took Stella to High Park the next morning and completely confused her by walking the trails rather than running them. Sorry, Stella - I was super tired.
Not the only time she stopped to stare at me. She could not figure out why I kept walking rather than start running.
And then we finished the weekend with a day trip to have Sunday dinner with my family. October is birthday season around here and we had some celebrathing to do. Also cake and cupcakes to eat. Back to the gym tomorrow!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I had one heck of a week, followed by a fabulous weekend.
Things were exceptionally busy at both work and at home during the week, and I'm not proud to say that with the stress of it all I did a fair bit of yelling at home.
The one thing that kept me from going completely over the edge was exercise.  I'd have a nutso day at work, go home to a different kind of nutso, yell, then head out the door to either run with the dog or hit the gym.
Endorphins are wonderful things, aren't they? I'd come home feeling refreshed and happy, start off the next day calm, but then find myself getting increasingly tense as the day went on. Repeat.
So - I got in a couple of short runs, a couple of circuits, an abs workout, a body sculpting class and eventually the week was over.
And we had a 3-day weekend for Thanksgiving. Blissful.
We kicked things off with treetop trekking & ziplining! My son and I went with my brother-in-law and nephew, with my SIL on hand to take pictures. We gave this adventure to my nephew for his birthday, and had a fantastic afternoon out in the forest with the trees in full colour.
But here's the thing - I've done this before, but I really am afraid of heights. Ziplining is great fun, but walking on wobbly tightropes high up off the ground is really not my thing. But sometimes you have to push the envelope, y'know?
Me in red - catching my breath with my son. My nephew behind us in blue, with his dad on the platform to the right.

Heading out on the next obstacle. Reminding myself: "I am a Spartan...I am a Warrior..."

Edging along
I loved this one!
After the first obstacle course, I'd had enough. Meanwhile, both kids turned out to be absolute adrenaline junkies. They hit the intermediate course, then my son and BIL went for advanced one before all three of them went for the Big Zip at the end.
Double-decker cousins

My son ran through this one. Nephew was just as fearless.

The last zip: My son on the highest platform, nephew partway up the rope ladder, BIL on the platform below
I badly wanted to do this zip but couldn't face that rope ladder.

My son zipping in to the finish
The verdict? There's a really strong chance that I won't be going treetop trekking again, although I'd love to go ziplining again. The kids, though -
"We're coming back again, right?"
"Best birthday present ever, Auntie Jen!"
"We HAVE to bring [our younger siblings] next time - they should totally do the kids course!"
...and with that, we grabbed hot chocolates and met the rest of the family at Grandma's for Thanksgiving dinner.
The rest of the weekend has been a nice mix of chores, relaxing and our own Thanksgiving dinner. Followed by a trip to the park down the street to run the dog, soak up some sun...

 ...and shoot some hoops.

She sank this one.

The stress from last week seems like a distant memory now. A lot of it is temporary, both at work and at home. It may be a few more days until things calm down, but here's hoping that this week is more manageable.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Cold? No Thanks!

I had a few germs threatening to take over a couple of days before last week's Island Girl. Beginnings of a cold, hint of a sore throat, low grade fever. No thanks, not interested.
I have a few favourite ways to nip that stuff in the bud - lots of rest, lots of water, let the fever do the work of killing germs, and watch my nutrition. My absolutely favourite go-to foods when I'm feeling under the weather are Terminator smoothies from Booster Juice (berries, bananas, orange juice, echinacea) and bowls of yellow dal from my favourite Indian place. It might be all in my head, but there's something about the comforting warmth of soft lentils stewed with turmeric, garlic and spicy peppers that does the trick every time.
So by race day, I looked like this:  

5.5K and smiling. The lady in pink looks pretty happy too!
Thumbs up for my daughter (and my son, further back on the beach)
The germs threatened to make a come back the day after the race, but after a good night's sleep, a Terminator smoothie and a bowl of dal, I felt as good as new. Fingers crossed that I`m really over this!
What are your favourite tricks for warding off a cold?
This week's recap -
Took things easy at the beginning of the week - walked the dog a few times but that`s all that my tight calves and tender shins would allow. Time for new shoes!
Rest of the week - got the the gym for a circuit and abs workout, down to the track for a few slow laps, did a 3K run around the neighbourhood, and took the kids to the park a couple of times to shoot hoops. My son and I love to play one-on-one, and all of a sudden, my daughter is tall enough to sink shots herself! We had so much fun getting out sweat on - fabulous!

Love the after-dinner trips to the park at this time of year. Any time the weather is nice, actually.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Island Girl Half Marathon Relay - Check!

Ahem - I have an announcement to make.

This race was my first 10K!

10-point-5-K actually - it was a half-marathon relay!

And finishing it means I can cross another Big, Scary Goal off the list :-)
The Island Girl has been on my wishlist since last year, when we happened to be on the Toronto Islands on the same day as the race. Beautiful spot, flat course, hula dancers, steel drums. It took me until this spring to work up the courage to sign up, and I'm oh, so glad that I did!
Convinced my co-worker Sarah to sign up as a relay partner with me...

Waiting for the ferry - with my daughter, Sarah and Stella.
Yes, my daugher is wearing a rain hat on this bright, sunny day. That's the way she rolls.

...and that made for 3 teams doing today's run. So fun to do these with a crowd.

With Laura, Rachel, another Sarah and Emma - you may recognise them from Around the Bay and a few other races.

Up early, into the car with my husband, kids, dog and a picnic breakfast, down to the lake and onto the ferry. Landed on the island, strolled around for a bit...ditched the extra layers...BRRRRRR....and Emma, blondeSarah and I headed to the start while everyone else headed for the relay exchange point. It's a T-shaped out and back course, and the exchange is at the 750m/5.5K/10.5K mark. 
Passing my family @ 750m - my husband took this while holding Stella back from trying to join me.
He had to hold her back again when I passed them at 5.5K My running partner was feeling left out!

I've run 7K once (the Spartan Race this summer) and 6.5K twice in training, but other than that have been covering 5.5K and shorter so I really didn't know how I'd be with this distance. Decided to take things slow and easy and made sure I didn't go out too fast.  
My 5K PR is roughly 39 minutes, and I had hopes of doing this race in 1.5 hours. But fully expected to take longer.
I hit the 5K mark at 39 minutes - dead on my PR - and was pleasantly surprised at how short 5K felt! 

Crossing into "I've never run this far before" territory
This bouncy boardwalk did a number on my back...
...but check out the view! We had close to 2K of quiet, lovely lakeside running.
Rest of the course was on the beautiful, tree-lined paths that make the island such a wonderful spot to spend a day.

Lots of 5s/1s and 4s/2s, lots of enjoying the lovely, scenic route, and all of a sudden I was almost done!

Past the hula dances and into the relay exchange - two thumbs up and a big smile
High 5s to Sarah at the exchange point, hugs from my family, and was nearly knocked off my feet by my overly excited dog.
Hey Stella? I missed you during the run. Would have brought you if I could.

Speaking of hula daughter getting into the spirit of things on the beach
Hey - here comes Sarah! 5.5K, she's over half done!

Stopping for some parkour on our way to the finish line

Emma, blonde Sarah and I (with Stella) waited about 200m before the finish line to run our teammates in. Lots of cheering, then a sprint to the finish, medals, water and snacks.

So much fun.

Sarah and I. We are absolutely wearing our medals to work tomorrow.

Sarah, me, Sarah, Rachel, Laura and Emma
My finish time? 1:29 and I'm delighted. I'm a slow runner and I walk a lot, but I did this 10.5K in just over twice my 5K PR time. That's a win!

Next? I've been wanting to do the Women's Run at the end of October, but wasn't sure if I'd sign up for the 5K or the 8K. Figured I'd see how this race went before I decided.

Since today went so well, it's a no-brainer. Got out my credit card tonight signed up for the 8K. Now, let's see who I can convince to run it with me...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

I'm Back!

I don't know about you, but back-to-school + homework and the restart of extra-curricular activities has made for a very busy two weeks around here. Blogging had to take a back seat while we readjusted and reaquainted ourselves with the fall routines.

So - what have we been up to?

Well, there was the CNE:

View from the top of the Ferris Wheel, taken by my husband. My feet were firmly planted on the ground.

Gym twice a week for circuit + boot camp.  
Lots of dog walks, and lots of after-dinner trips to the park. Something about being out in the evening air and seeing the sun start to go down brings me a lot of joy.
Running 3x a week. This was hard after taking a few weeks off during vacation and a heat wave. My first run back was an exceptionally miserable 2.7K fiasco, but Stella and I have done runs in the 4.5 to 6K range since then. I'm sticking to 5s/1s and 5s/2s at the moment and focusing on getting the distance up.... 
...because the Island Girl run is coming up in a week! It's the last of my Big, Scary Goals for 2012. I'll be running a 10.5K as one leg of a half-marathon relay, and I'm feeling good about it. Don't get me wrong - this is going to be a tough one for me, but I'm no longer feeling sheer terror when I think about it. Something about running 5K+ in training has made 10K less intimidating.
Bulb planting in the recently-expanded front garden. 140 crocuses, tulips, daffodils and such are in, and I'm hoping for a colourful spring! NSV: I was expecting to be sore the next day, but my hands and back were A-OK. Core training for the win! 
Aaand after my daughter had a rough day yesterday due to a bossy brother, a nasty spider bite, and lots of bumps and bruises (she's particularly clumsy right now...must be a growth spurt), we went on an Emergency Girls' Afternoon Out. I gave her the choice between a bike ride, a craft project or a trip to the salon for her first pedicure. Which one do you think she picked? Here's a hint:
Got her fingers done, too - in hot pink. The salon ladies made a fuss over her. Excellent cure for jangled nerves.
And my feet got a badly-need tune-up following a year's worth of running.
Oh! I'm trying to get my kids more involved in meal-planning. Handed them each a cookbook recently and asked them to pick a few things that they'd like to try. My son picked a Curried Pumpkin Soup that was incredibly delicious, nutritious and EASY. Gotta share the recipe!
Curried Pumpkin Soup

1 small onion, chopped
Splash of olive oil
2-3 tbsp curry powder
1 can pumpkin puree (~796mL)
1L vegetable stock
2 tbsp maple syrup
salt & pepper to taste
2 cans lite unsweetened coconut milk (~ 400mL/14oz each?)
1 small can chickpeas, rinsed
In a large pot over medium heat, saute onion in olive oil and curry powder for several mins, until soft.
Reduce heat slightly; add pumpkin, then whisk in veg stock, salt and pepper, maple syrup. Simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add coconut milk and chick peas; simmer 5 minutes or until heated through. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Puree with hand blender or in blender/food processor.
Top with toasted pecans or pumpkin seeds.
The verdict: My son kinda liked it, my daughter refused to try it, and I scarfed down two bowls after my run tonight. Will definitely be making this one again, for my sake at least.
How have you been?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Once in a Blue Moon...

Blue moon  - calm and clear night down at Lake Ontario

I had my first DNS (did not start) this week. Once in a blue moon, indeed.

I was supposed to my second try-a-tri last Saturday. The night before, I had my bags all packed, bike in the car, coffee maker set up and the fixings for my favourite race morning breakfast on hand.

But when my alarm went off at 5am, I just couldn't get out of bed.

So, what happened?

I think it was a combination of overtired and underprepared.

We got back from our camping trip on the Thursday and spent Friday relaxing + unpacking and doing laundry. But I was still pretty worn out.

I was also very worried about the swim, which was going to be in Lake Ontario. We did a fair bit of open water swimming in Lake Huron during our camping trip, and I was quite rattled by how much wilder the water is in the Great Lakes than in the smaller lake where I did my first tri in July.

But I don't think it's fear that put me off this race, though that did contribute to it. It's more that I was having a hard time finding the will to push myself through the event. I was definitely lacking the mental toughness that I'd need to push myself through a difficult swim, and couldn't see how I'd be able to push myself through a bike and run as well. Particularly since I hadn't run in over two weeks.

Bottom line? I have to admit that there is no way that I wanted to finish DFL, but that was seeming pretty likely given my fatigue and my complete lack of drive.

So - the alarm went off and I stayed in bed.

And was pretty much at peace with it. Though I did keep a half-eye on the clock all morning, with thoughts of "people are picking up race kits now", "my wave is going out now" and so on.

Mind you, I was wearing my PJs and drinking coffee on my couch at the time. And was quite pleased to be relaxing rather than racing.

Here's something strange - a few days later, I came down with my first ever UTI (TMI? sorry...). Just as well that I didn't race, I suppose, as this would have been brewing at the time.

So it's been a rather quiet week. Went on a family hike and I got to the gym twice, but then spent a couple of days feeling super tired with a low fever and other unpleasantness. I'm just about back to normal now, just in time to gear up for back to school...and I need to get back to running before that 10K in three weeks.

On a non-fitness-related note - here's something that makes me wildly happy:
That's Stella and my sister-in-law's dog playing in a creek during a hike last weekend. The big news is that Stella is offleash here and SHE DIDN'T RUN AWAY. The Husky in her compels her to run vast distances at high speeds - which makes her an excellent running partner, but we've had a couple of incidents where she's jumped the fence at the local dog park and ignored our calls to come.
We've been working on this with her all year, and finally felt that we could take a chance on letting her offleash in an open area. She was so well behaved that we tried her again today (successfully) at a dog beach closer to home. She ran, she splashed around, she chased geese - and she came every time that she was called. Good girl!

Didn't get a picture of Stella's offleash adventures this evening, but did get one of my son exploring.
Was a beautiful late summer evening down by the lake.