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.