Friday, June 29, 2012

Post-Spartan Recovery

I didn't get bloody, but I did find a few small barbed-wire related holes in my pants
What do I have to recover from? Hmmm -

We're about 5-1/2K through the course at this point

Ice. Barbed Wire. Good times.
Close to the end, but still more to come.

Hay bales. So determined not to break an ankle today.

Hey Elissa, I'm right behind you. Thanks for distracting those gladiators.

Got me some gladiators to dodge...and my eye on the finish line!

I've been having fun watching miscellaneous bruises pop up - mainly on my forearms (from the belly crawls), chest and knees (from going over the climbing wall).

Hadn't realized exactly how much I had been dreading Spartan until now, when I'm so glad that it's over. At the same time, the realization of what an accomplishment this was is really sinking in. I keep looking at my medal and grinning.

It's at home on my medal rack now, but the medal spent the first two days at work with me.
Everytime I felt stiff and sore, I'd look at it and remember "Oh, riiiiight...."

 And now that this is behind me, I can start looking forward to my first Try-a-Tri at the end of July!

Rest of the week went like this -

Son and dog catching a nap on the ride home from Spartan.

Sunday - Spartan Race, drive back home, 3K dog walk.

Monday - Rest day. 2K walk to the dog park and back.

Tuesday - Big Rest day - I caught a cold my husband was spreading around and it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Wednesday - Starting to feel better already. Went to the gym for a boot camp, focused on strength-training and stretching out. 3K dog walk before bed.

Beautiful evening for a walk!

Thursday - Last day of school for the kids! Report cards and celebratory pizza, then frantically cleaned the house and got them packed to go to my in-laws for the night. Trail walk with the dog after (2+K).

Friday - Back to the gym for a boot camp, followed by an impromptu Zumba class. OMG - I had forgotten just how much I love Zumba!! Left the gym very, very sweaty and very, very happy.

How was your week?

Monday, June 25, 2012


Yeah, I'd say that's about right

This was much harder than last year's Warrior Dash. My god.

I'd heard this was more challenging and have been kind of terrified since signing up - but tried to console myself with the fact that we finished Warrior and I'm a bit fitter than I was last summer.

I was still pretty intimidated heading into this, though.

Me, Elissa, Laura, Rachel - waiting to start

And with good reason, as it turns out!

Warrior was 12 obstacles in 5K. We finished in 1:04.

Spartan was 22 obstacles and feats of strength in 7K.

We finished in 1:31, minus time spent waiting through a few significant bottlenecks at a couple of the stations - so let's say 1:15.

On paper, it looks like we knocked it out of the park. But this race kicked my butt!

What did we face on the course? Let's see...

7K trail run through a forest of rolling steep hills. Beautiful and shady, would have been great for a family hike!

Belly crawl up a sandy hill under low nets.

Crawl through a long narrow tube. I seriously would not have fit in this 80lbs ago.

Climb up and over a high (wobbly) rope net.

Belly crawl though about 30 feet of mud under low barbed wire.

Wade through a mud pond - almost waist deep.

Pull kettle bells 20 feet up in the air.

Up and down a 20+ foot high twisty rope ladder (thanks to my girls for trying to steady it for me!!)

Belly crawl 30 feet or so through dirt under low boards - think of a blackout pit.

Up and over a 90-degree climbing wall.

Carry a 20+-lb sand bag through the forest.

Javelin throw.

Push a wheelbarrow containing a big cement block through the forest - each handle weighed down by a 20-lb sandbag.

Hold a dowel at chest height, parallel to the ground, and spin it to wind a rope (tied to a 20-lb sandbag) from the ground up. Twice.

Balance beams.

Run through tires.

Jump over fire.

20 reps on a rowing machine.

Belly crawl through ICE CUBES under insanely low strung barbed wire. We had maybe 15" between the ice and the wire. Keep your head - and your butt - down!

Run up 45-degree ramp and jump off the end. Twice.

Up and over the hay bales.

Dodge a trio of Spartans - they want to knock you off your feet.

Up and over a long, slipperly ramp. I bailed on this one and took a 10-burpee penalty.


Just to give you an idea, here's a few pics from the course - none of these are of me:


Medals, drink of water, photo op...

...sprayed off with an icy cold blast from the fire hose, another photo op...

Don't actually look much cleaner after the fire hose - just wetter

...ordered a massive poutine to share with the family, then headed back to the car.

Seems so calm and peaceful from over here.

Wrapped up in a tarp, headed back to my mother's for a shower and lunch.

Sweet tech shirt, excellent medal

And a vow to never, ever do this race again.

Warrior Dash? Mayyyybe....

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Exercise took a bit of a back seat this week - I had a 4-day trip to Boson!

I spent 1-1/2 days at a conference and the rest seeing the sights. Got to stay in a hotel right on the harbour, did some swimming in the hotel pool and walked for miles doing the tourist thing. Here's a few highlights:

Of COURSE I had to have dinner here

Yes, please!
Very entertaining, lots of creepy stories, and saw more of Boston than I would have on foot
Tried to go whale watching.
Had to abort about an hour outside of Boston when over half of the 300-passengers (myself included) were horribly seasick.
It was nasty. Ghastly. I'm done with oceans, thanks.

About 1 minute from my hotel and an absolutely wonderful place to visit
Lots and lots of these guys
Surprisingly slimy

Myrtle the Turtle - she's about 80 years old and over 500-lbs

Harbour beside the hotel

My nephew was in town! He lives in England but is on a road trip across North America for the next few months.
Absolute coincidence that we were in Boston at the same time...and on his birthday!

Also made it to Boston Common, Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market. Soaked up a lot of history, including seeing the graves of Paul Revere and John Hancock.

Ran into some great people at the conference that I'd met before, which helped keep things fun.

All in all, it was a great trip with easy travel and beautiful weather. A reasonably interesting conference, too.

I got to the gym once since I've been home, for a power boot camp. Followed by a lovely evening at High Park - we walked the trails, hit the dog park, and generally goofed around.

Missed these guys while I was away

Next up - Spartan Race on Sunday. I'm reasonably terrified. Wish me luck!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Excitingly Busy

Huh - I missed making a post last week.

Things are starting to get back in balance, but it's been "excitingly busy" around here - which is Ali-speak for stressful.

My team at work is running super lean at the moment, so every day has been a hit-the-ground-running-don't-ever-stop kind of day.

I'm putting the finishing touches on one volunteer gig while also putting in the hours to help another one get off the ground. After seven years of producing the monthly newsletter for my daughter's school, I am more than ready to pass it off to someone else - which has involved documenting the processes for the incoming volunteer as well as putting together the June issue.

My new volunteer gig? My neighbours, husband and myself have started a "Friends of" community advocacy group for our local park. It's been a whirlwind two weeks of laying the foundation - research, park audits, maintenance grids, steering committees, social media strategies. Next steps - engage the City Councillor and Parks Supervisor and start with community consultations.

Have been booking summer camps...overseeing school projects...supervising piano practice for the end of year recital...

And not sure what possessed me, but I spent the better part of a day cleaning my garage from top to bottom. It's been a couple of years and it was getting scary. Cobwebs, spiders, dirt and old leaves everywhere, as well as a few years' worth of clutter. Yuck. The kids got involved too - they finally realized that they have outgrown many of their old outdoor toys and got rid of about 75% of them. Filled my car to the brim with items to drop off at Goodwill, put a big pile of miscellanous stuff on the front lawn for people to help themselves to (all gone within 24 hours), took a pile of excess sand toys to the sandbox at the park, and filled my garbage can to the top with broken, non-recyclable junk. Swept everything out, hosed things down and then stood back to admire my work. Unbelievable how satisfying that was.

Excitingly busy, indeed!

We also squeezed in a trip out of town to my husband's aunt's new home for a day. That part was more exciting than busy.  Especially because her backyard looks like this:

Tell me again why I live in the city?

Very happy daughter

Son and my sister-in-law

On the exercise front, there have been dog walks, a couple of trips to the gym/bootcamp each week, a run with the dog this week (4.1K), leisure swim and lots of whiffle ball with the kids.

Early Sunday morning at High Park. There are new holes to investigate.

What's up next? Well, a trip to Boston for work for 4 days. Taking my running shoes and swim suit, you can bet on that. Followed by the Spartan Race on 6/24. 

How have you been?  Aside from racing, is June a busy season for you?

Monday, June 4, 2012

50K Ride for Heart - Check!

The Becel Ride for Heart is an absolutely fantastic, 25-year-old event in Toronto. Two major highways are closed off to make this work - one running along the Lake Ontario waterfront, the other through the beautiful Don Valley. It's hard to really notice just how scenic these routes are from a speeding car - but it's lovely from a bike.

Equally spectacular is the opportunity to go for a ride along a perfectly smooth (no potholes!), 3-to-4-lane-wide highway that's closed to cars.

This event is capped at 13,000 riders and sells out every year.

I can see why.

It also raises over $5M for the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Ontario every year. It's a pretty big deal around here.

I rode the 25K course last year - the longest ride I'd ever done at that point - and came away so delighted from the experience that I knew I'd be back for the 50K this year. I actually made up my mind about that before I even hit the 10K mark last year - this ride IS that fun.

Last year, I went out with the general 8am start - which meant starting in a chute with over 10,000 other riders. The first 5K or so looked something like this:

From the 2012 Ride's Facebook page. You get the idea - that's a big crowd
It took me a while to get through the pack and be able to ride at my own pace - about 5-6KMs actually. That part wasn't all that fun, come to think of it.

But this year, I got up a little earlier and went out in the early-bird start. Smart move. I didn't arrive at the start until 7.50am, but WOW. Was it ever fabulous to ride past the massive crowd in the starting chute, flash my green badge at the marshalls and head out in this crowd:

Except for paramedics, I HAD THE HIGHWAY TO MYSELF!  
That sweet 10-minute head start meant that I was loooong gone when the crowd hit the course.

I started to catch up to other early starters around the 3K mark, but even by 10K the road was nice and open:

Early bird starts are the BEST.
Now, the 25K course is very pleasant - lots of low, gradual rises and falls. I imagine the net elevation change is maybe...0 metres?

But what happens on the longer course?

In additon to being worried about the overall distance of the course - and freaked out by the dismal experience in my one and only long training ride - I've spent the last few months absolutely terrified of The Hill.

A few 50K finishers from past years had warned me about The Hill. "Things change once you get north of the turnaround for the 25K route".
Put all this together and you can see why this race was one of my Big, Scary Goals for 2012.

I didn't had a chance to drive the route in the last 6+ months, and didn't think to map it out, so had to go by logic: Toronto is built on a long slope that leads down to Lake Ontario, so heading away from the lake means going uphill. I live on the west side of the city at the top of an escarpment, and there are some nasty hills over here, so I can imagine that things would be fairly similar a few KMs east.

I've read about nasty hills - like this one that has made Julie swear off of all events that include it.

With that in mind, I made a quick stop at the 15K spot (DVP/Eglinton) for a snack - 1/4 Luna bar, 1/4 banana, some water - and some stretching. Gotta get ready for that Hill.

But as I got  further north, I noticed that I was going DOWNHILL. And that The Hill was on the other side of the highway - beside me - in the southbound part of the course. Not going to be fun tackling that in another 10KMs or so.

Except when I headed through the (dangerously crowded) turnaround (where are the race marshalls??), headed south and got over to The Hill - it was just another long, low rise. A little longer and a bit...rise-ier...than others, but nothing like I was worried about. It would have been a piece of cake with fresh legs, but even so, it really wasn't so bad.

Said a small prayer of thanks to the engineers who designed this highway.

Remembered that Julie lives in Colorado. 

Promised myself that I'd be back next year for the 75K course.

Stopped for another quick snack (more Luna/water/banana/stretching) and kept going.

There WAS a nasty surprise later on - the course involves a short detour off the highway, around a cloverleaf and back on. It's short, but rather steep. It's part of the 25K turnaround and it almost killed me last year although I managed to keep going rather than walk up. 

Surprise, surprise - it turns out that it's part of the 50K course as well, because it's a spot for those doing the 75K to loop around north again.

This year, that detour was much easier, even on tired legs. I have running and boot camp to thank for that.

I have running and boot camp to thank for a lot of things, actually.

Anyway - once I was past THAT and had only another 11K to go - my competitive nature showed up.

I'd started this with "finish" as my goal.

Now it became about time.

I finished 25K last year in 1H10mins - slowed down by the pack at first, but no breaks aside from a quick text to my husband.  

Wonder how fast I can get to the finish this year? And wouldn't it be great to finish before the rain shows up?

Only 5K or so to go. Starting to get crowded - lots of 25K and 50K finishers riding together at this point

I did have to slow down a bit because of the gathering crowd..and to send a few quick texts to my there soon...but soon rolled into the finish line with a smile and legs that could have gone for more.

Finish time: 2 hours, 15minutes.
Number of bugs swallowed: 0

I'm very pleased with BOTH of those numbers!

Loaded up on snacks, found my family, hugs and kisses all around, photo op...

I just tackled one of my Big Scary Goals - and it wasn't so bad!
That smile is mostly joy, but with a bit of relief mixed in :-)
...stretched, and headed for the car.

The CAR! That's right!

What with the early bird start...and living somewhat close to the starting line...I actually rode my bike to the starting line. Left the family sleeping and the car at home.

Which means that I rode fifty-SIX kms today.

And had enough left over to walk down to the dog park after lunch. And again after dinner.

Yep - I'm going back for 75K next year.

That being said?

Having ridden 50K, I can't EVEN IMAGINE doing 42K on foot. All the marathoners out there are made of IRON. Wow!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Weightloss and Milestones

My sharp-eyed mother noticed that I recently (quietly) updated the weightloss progress block on the right side of my blog, with a 5-pound loss, and scolded me for not talking about it.

So here we go :-)

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was tired of losing and regaining the same few pounds over and over again all winter. Spent a month tracking on and worked out several milestones that I wanted to reward. Had good weeks, had hard weeks.

But overall I ate to my plan, lost those extra couple of pounds, which took me back down to my lowest weight, and lost another 5 pounds as well.

Woohoo!! The struggle was worth it. And I hit two milestones.

My rewards?

For getting below that low weight: Getting weighed and measured at my gym. Found out that I've also lost 14 inches in the last year. Very pleased with that.

For getting to 5lbs below low weight: A cheat meal. Actually - two. Poutine (Yes, Deb & Julie - I did go for the poutine after all...and it was absolutely delicious) and family dinner at a buffet restaurant. Where I indulged but didn't go flat out crazy.

Since then, I've been taking a week-long break and have eating to maintain/prepare for 2012's Big Scary Goal Race #1: the 50K bike ride. It's on Sunday, June 3rd. I've also been hydrating like crazy and praying for lovely cool, dry weather.

Did I mention that I'm terrified? But that's kind of the point of Big Scary Goals, right? Step outside your comfort zone. Sign up, show up.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

I figure I'll need a day or so of recovery meals, and be back at MFP tracking by Tuesday.

I have a feeling that between carb loading and water retention, I've put a pound or two back on this week. But the next milestones are within reach: 90lbs lost, Onederland. Need to start planning my rewards, because having that as a motivator really, really helps with this latest round of weightloss. Hey, perhaps a spiffy-but-affordable tri suit...any recommendations?

Here's this week's recap -
Sunday - Sweaty 5K Women's Run, brunch, then a 2K walk to the dog park & back at lunchtime.

NSV: Another dog owner (not a runner) asked me, "How come you're here? Thought you had a 5K today?" I explained that I'd finished before 9am and was now getting on with the day. Got a blank stare and a "Wow - it doesn't wreck you for the rest of the day?" in return. You know what - my first couple of 5Ks DID wreck me for the rest of the day, though it's been quite a while. So nice to have the reminder of progress made.

Too hot to walk the dog so put the sprinkler on for her...

Monday - Heat wave continues. Curves to stretch things out with a no-cardio circuit + bootcamp light (crunches, planks & pushups).

...and someone else came to join us!

Tuesday - Rest day.

Wednesday - Still warm but the humidity broke so I headed out for an evening run with Stella. We did 7s& 1s, 3s and 1s. Was only a 3K run and we seemed to struggle a bit, which had me worried. But then I remapped it after I got home and found out it was actually 4.6K. Oops.

Thurs - 2K dog park walk.

Friday - Pouring rain. Rest day.