Friday, March 30, 2012

Around the Bay 5K - Check!

I had a great race.

I didn't PR.

But it was such a great day!

Let me back up a bit - back at the end of October, my friend Emma signed up for the 30K Around the Bay Race, having run nothing longer than a 10K so far. A fleet of us also signed up for various distances - 5K, relay team, 30K - to be there to cheer her on. Reserved a few hotel rooms and made a weekend out of it. Had a fun Saturday travelling, out for lunch, hitting the expo, out for dinner, grocery store run for bananas and so on.

Race morning was overcast and cool with a slight breeze - perfect conditions for a run!

Heading to the starting line - me, Emma, Lynda

We saw Lynda off with the 8:30am power walkers, then the 30K and relay runners headed to their start and I went out with the 5K a few minutes later.

I'd heard that the 30K course is lovely - it does go "around the bay" after all - but I didn't expect the 5K course to be scenic, too! We ran a short leg through downtown Hamilton, long leg through a tree-lined residential street  (with lots of spectators cheering us on), a long leg along the waterfront trail, past a bagpipe band, then a short leg back through downtown, into Copps Coliseum, down the red carpet and across the finish line at centre ice.

Medals, water, snacks, then to the stands to wait for the elite athletes to finish their 30K. Sweet.

I got  to watch Reid Coolsaet - who will be running in the 2012 Olympics - cross the 30K finish line in 1:33, to fireworks and wild cheering. He runs a 2:09 marathon and did this one as a fun run. He looked as fresh at the finish as he did at the start. Amazing.

Also amazing? My run!

See that smile?

I've been slow running 8s & 3s and 10s & 1s in C25K training, but maxing out at covering 3.4KMs in the 25-30 minutes that they call for.

This time, I ran slow and steady 8s & 1s for the first 4KM, took a 2 min walk break, then ran the last 600 metres to the finish line. Same slow and steady pace. This is the most running I've ever done in a 5K - ever. And it was one of those good, evenly paced runs that reminded me that running doesn't necessary...suck.

Yes, I do turn really red when I exercise.
Race medics always stop me to make sure that I can carry on a conversation.  

This was such a good run for me that I simply didn't care when I saw my time (40:35; my PR is 39:06). This was one of those runs that made me feel like I might finally be building up some endurance. Speed can some later.

Anyway - Elissa and I met up after she finished the first leg of the relay and we headed back outside to cheer people on to the finish. So inspiring to see people at the end of a run like this.

Like the Armed Forces guys and gals who did the 30K in full field uniform with full packs.

And the lady who was celebrating her 80th birthday by doing this run - for the 60th consecutive year.

Absolutely amazing.

Lynda, 5 minutes after finishing her 30K.
Right after this, she hopped in her car and hit the highway to get to a meeting. Crazy!

And of course our own girls - every single one of them finishing their races with a smile. 

Me (5K), Elissa, Sarah, Rachel (relay team), Emma (30K), Laura (30K)

Emma - congrats on hitting your dream of going long.

Less than 24 hours after crossing the finish line, she was already talking about what's next. Love it!

Here's this week's recap:

Saturday - travel day
Sunday - ATB 5K
Monday - Curves circuit + an abs boot camp - lots of crunches, planks and pushups - and stretching.
Tuesday - rest day; 1K dog power walk.
Wednesday - skipped the gym in favour of going to see The Hunger Games
Thursday - skipped the gym in favour of going to see the Mythbusters: Behind the Myths Tour. Knock this one off my son`s list!

An evening with Adam & Jamie - stunts, stories and lots of audience participation. SO FUN.
Friday - Curves circuit + boot camp lite (250 crunches, 50 pushups, 1 min plank)

Next up? The CN Tower climb in April. A 5K in May. And try-a-tri training starts next week...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Race Season Begins!

Sarah, me, Rachel - St. Pat's 5K: Check!

We have liftoff!

Between now and the end of the summer, I'm in about one event a month. It was a bit hard mentally getting back into the swing of things after a 10-week break from racing but we got things going this week with a very fun St. Pat's 5K.  

We has a great time when we did this race last year and decided to use it to kick-start this year's race season. The out and back course is a bit dull aside from the last KM, but it's a reasonably flat route and this is generally a fun event. Tons of energy and lots of green and silly costumes at this race.

Just like my latest C25K training run, I had a very uneven race - run 5 mins, fast walk 2, run 3, slow walk 2 and so on. I started out too fast, dressed too warmly, and had too many late nights and treats over March Break. No surprise that I struggled.

But a winter's worth of boot camps and 7 weeks of C25K paid off, because I shaved 58 seconds off my best time.

Which made me extremely happy.

New PR: 39:06.

I may be slow, but I'm faster than I was!

And a few days after the race, I found out that the course was actually 130 metres too long.

Big grin.

I've been eating well and easing back on training this week. Let's see how I do in this weekend's Around the Bay 5K. Would be great to break through that 39 minute mark.

Here's this week's recap:

Saturday - Tail end of March Break and my cousin's visit. Took the kids to High Park for a few hours of strolling and climbing.

Stella makes an excellent goalie.

Sunday - St. Pat's 5K, then met my family at the park for a lively game of dog soccer. 2K stroll with Stella before bed. Feeling good, and very pleased with myself to be tired but not completely exhausted after the run.

Monday - Curves circuit + boot camp (200 crunches + another crazy-short-but-intense session)

Tuesday - REST DAY. 2K stroll with Stella.

Wednesday -  1K jog with the dog beside a scooter-riding girl. Later, Curves circuit + boot camp (300 crunches + 2 x 35second planks + crazy/short/intense session)

Thursday - Rest Day.

Friday - Took kids and dog to the park. Lovely evening, made even better by my husband bringing Indian food home for dinner.

Spring showed up this week in most of North America - how did you take advantage of this wave of lovely weather? We found ourselves outside more in the evenings and started puttering around with the outdoor chores. Next step - get the bikes tuned up this weekend. Can't wait to get back on two wheels! 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

March Break!

This week was March Break and I was off with the kids. Things started off chilly (-7C) but ended up stunningly beautiful (+21C). That's quite a range!

9.15am on a chilly Saturday morning.
Not only am I out of my warm bed, but I'm already done at the gym and am on my way home to go for a run.
I rock...some days at least!

We had a nicely fun and active week. Here's a rundown:

Saturday - Curves circuit + C25K week 7, run 2. Covered 3.35K but it was hard fought. Maybe it was the cold, I don't know, but I had to do a lot of walking. I managed to run 5mins, walk 1, run 5, walk 2, run 3, walk 2 and so on all the way out and home. Later, kids and I took the dog to a parkette for some playtime - 1.2K round trip walk:

Are you SURE you don't want to come play on the climbers, Stella?

Sunday - Family hike at the Brickworks. Between hiking, splashing in the creek, crawling up the steep walls of the old quarry and sliding down them again, it's hard to tell who came home the dirtiest - the kids, the dog or me. Bubble baths all around once we got home.

Monday/Tuesday - Went on a road trip. Wonder if you can guess where? Here's a hint:

View from our hotel room - mid afternoon

8am the next morning, same view. That's a lot of fog.
We spent hours and hours at the hotel water park, and walked our legs off hiking around town and the Falls. Haha - I did some simulated open water swim practice in the wave pool while the kids splashed around.

Drove along the gorge on our way out of town on Tuesday and saw some beautiful sights.

Niagara River meets Lake Ontario
We stopped in a small town on our way home for a few hours. My son happens to be doing a school project on a historical figure from the region, and since we were in the area we figured we should take a look around. Found some neat artifacts at the local museum and saw some interesting landmarks around town - the homestead, gravesite and so on. He took a ton of photos and I *hope* this helped make the history come a bit more alive for him...hard to tell.

He seems happy enough here, but don't be fooled. He's having a hard time getting into this project.

Wednesday - 1K run with the dog down to the dog park. Took the kids & dog down to the lake for a couple of hours:

Swans! Geese! Ducks!

Right after this, the dog rolled in a rotten fish she found on the beach.
Not sure which smells worse: a dry dog covered in dead in fish, or a wet dog who was bathed in a lake.
...then hit Curves for Zumba, a circuit and a crazy short-but-intense bootcamp.
Thursday - PJ day and major housecleaning for most of the day, then my cousin and her kids arrived!

Friday - Took everyone over to the Brickworks for a hike:

Dog is trying to figure out how to get up to the kids

Extra points if you can spot the turtles. There are 4.

So, it was a pretty good week. I did take a break from running - I laced my shoe too tightly a week ago and have had tight muscles up that leg ever since. Ice, rest, stretching. Hope to be in good shape for the St. Pat's 5K this weekend...!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Thing About Rest Days

I love Rest Day. That day with a big blank on the calendar where a workout would ordinarily be. No scheduled workout, run or swim.

Occasionally, one rest day isn't enough, even if I ended up having a completely lazy day. Sometimes a second day is needed to rest a weary muscle, rest a weary body, take a mental break from the busy-ness of the active lifestyle, spend a bit of extra time with the family. 

And by the end of that second day, I'm refreshed and looking forward to getting back at it. That is, as long as I've been active in some way, like going for a family walk or hike or generally goofing around with the kids - skipping contests, playing catch, going skating, that sort of thing. Or even just taking the dog for a good, long walk. I think getting the heart rate up in some way every day generally helps with keeping the momentum going. 

But two lazy days in a row can be pretty dangerous, for me at least. Slippery slope territory.

See, I have noticed that the nagging voice in the back of my head pipes up on the morning of day 3. Who needs exercise when the bed is soooo soft. Gee, it's pretty chilly outside. Wouldn't it be great to just sit around the house in PJs again? Isn't it fabulous to have so much free time? Who needs exercise when you can reeeeeeelax?

And it's really, really tempting to listen to that voice. Expecially when it starts telling me that triple helpings of pizza, double chocolate cookies and a bowl of ice cream would go really well with a third day on the couch.

Why is that a problem? Because I know from my old life on the couch, and past experiences trying to change out of it, that three days can easily turn into four...into a week...and back into a sedentary lifestyle that's hard to break out of.
All of this is to say that I needed, and took, two rest days in a row at the end of last week. Didn't hear a peep from that little voice until it started whispering to me this morning. It took a heck of a lot of commitment and discipline to pull on sneakers and head out the door.

Funny how that little voice quieted down as soon as I made it to the front porch.

Lesson learned, I think - rest days should be playful, not slothful. For me at least.

Here's this week's recap -

Saturday - C25K week 6, run 2 (run 10 minutes, walk 3, run 10). Covered 3.1K. And man - it was windy! So windy that I was completely dry (not sweaty) when I finished.

Made a rather delicious vegetable-lentil stew this weekend. It's about the only way that I like sweet potatoes.

Sunday - 2K dog park walk. Saw the first robin of the season - and my husband came home from his trip!

Monday - Curves circuit + boot camp (200 squats, 350 crunches, 320 arm curls w/5lb weights)

Tuesday - C25K week 6, run 3 = 23 mins running in 10s and 1s. Covered 3.25K

Wednesday - Glorious weather today. Hit a park after school and another after dinner.  Before bed, ran C25K week 7, run 1 = 25 mins running in 10s and 1s. Covered 3.35K.

At the park/dog park on a stunningly beautiful evening.
Daughter was pretending she was Dorothy NOT falling into the pig pen from the start of The Wizard of Oz
Thursday - Fell asleep on the couch after dinner and missed Zumba. Decided to make today a rest day.

Friday - Still tired so took a second rest day. Crazy windy, cold and a lot of blowing snow. Took Stella to the dog park (2K round trip walk) for an hour. Brrrrrrrr.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Topsy-Turvy Week (and I Didn't Stress Out)

Our family routine was completely thrown off this week. Mostly because my husband has been away on a (rare) work trip so I've been running the show solo here. But also because my daughter's trip to emerg for stitches last Friday turned into her missing four days of school this week, which in turn meant that I worked from home in order to look after her.

My husband is very, very hands on with the kids, house and dog and it was a real change to not have him here.

This is the kind of change in routine that would ordinarily cause me a fair bit of stress. Thank goodness it was just for one week. And it was a huge help that my son is old enough to help out with dog and sister.

Still, I had to get a bit creative with how to keep all the balls in the air - parenting, running the house, work, making sure that the dog got enough exercise, fitting in my workouts and staying on track with my C25K runs.

I used some of the standards that we're all supposed to do to make life run more smoothly (but we never seem to do around here) - such as making sure lunches and backpacks are packed and coffee maker is filled every evening, picking up little messes before they turn into big ones, that sort of thing  - but I came up with a few of my own to make it through the week.  

For example - I skipped my Monday night laps at the pool, but took the kids to family swim time on Friday. So fun.

I had to miss Zumba, but got in some extra lunchtime walks with the dog & daughter while working from home.

I also turned one of the walk-the-dog-before-breakfast walks (which my husband usually does) into a C25K run.  And I'm going to admit that I slept in my running clothes the night before so there'd be no bleary-eyed attempts to get dressed early in the morning. You have to understand that I am NOT an early riser, so it was either this or run in my PJs. Which I also have done in the past.

I should probably be embarrassed about that. Ha.

Anyway, I also made sure that I ate well, drank a lot of water and got adequate sleep. Can't cut corners when it comes to that.

Looking forward to my husband coming home this weekend. We miss him!

What about you - what strategies help you make it through a particularly busy time?

Here's this week's recap -

Saturday - rest day.

Sunday - Started with a headache that I couldn't shake so headed to the couch for a nap. Woke up and noticed that someone else thought that a nap was a good idea too -

Hey! No dogs on the furniture - you know better than that!

...and then felt rejuvinated enough to do C25K week 5, run 2 (run 8 mins, walk 5, run 8). New record for me. Actually, everything over "run for 1 minute" is a record for me.

Monday - 2.6K dog walk; Curves + boot camp (360 arm reps w/5lb weights, 100 leg lifts on each side, 250 crunches. 2x30sec planks)

Tuesday - Husband left for the airport. 2K dog walk.

Wednesday - Up at 5:45am for Stella's morning walk and did C25K week 5 run 3. This was the first long run - I was supposed to run for 20 minutes, and was delighted to manage to go 14 minutes, walk 1, run 5. Later, 1K dog walk; boot camp (360 crunches, 300 arm reps w/5lb weights, 30s side planks, 20 pushups).

Get the ball, Stella!

Thursday - 1.8K dog walk, 1K dog walk, then C25K week 6 run 1 (run 5mins, walk 3, run 8, walk 3, run 5). With the dog.

Sweaty. Happy. And check it out - it's a photo of me, not my dog.

Friday - Overslept. Whoops. Made up for it by driving the dog to the dog park, which confused her greatly but allowed her to get her off-leash running time in before we left for work/school. Figured that was more important than just going for a quick walk. Later; 1.8K dog walk followed by family swim with the kids and one of my son's friends. We played volleyball, monkey in the middle, raced a few lengths, and I tossed my daughter around. Can't believe we don't do this more often in the wintertime. So fun.