Race Recap: Great White North Triathlon Olympic ++

I am a triathlete!

After years of dreaming about becoming a triathlete I’ve finally earned the title! Years ago, (way) before I started running, I remember turning on the TV and being consumed by the coverage of the Kona Ironman. I was in awe of these athletes and it sparked a tiny little triathlon fire within. In a way running was easy to embrace, I’ve been walking and running since I was a toddler, and it’s taken up the better part of my life for the past 4 years. For some reason swimming and cycling seemed beyond my skill set. I would say fear is what kept me from jumping into triathlons earlier. I’ve been stepping outside of my comfort zone almost every day for the past 3 months of training. It’s been scary, overwhelming and emotional at times but I’m so glad I decided to start this journey.

First triathlon is complete and Ironman Calgary 70.3 is approaching quickly (2 days)!

Great White North Triathlon

This race takes place in Stony Plain, Alberta and is traditionally a 70.3 long course triathlon, however this year they added a “Olympic ++” distance. I give it a ++ because it’s actually slightly longer:

Olympic Distance → 1900m swim | 40km bike | 10km run
GWN Olympic Distance → 1900m swim | 50km bike | 10.6km run

GWN Day Before

The boyfriend and I woke up early Saturday morning to meet Coach Richelle and her other athletes at a nearby lake for a practice swim. The lake being used for the race is private and was only open to participants mid afternoon for a couple hours. Luckily coach was on the ball and arranged for us to meet her at a neighboring lake earlier in the day. The sun was shinning and the lake was calling to us. Coach went over a few tips about sighting while we suited up. We got into the water and floated around a bit while our bodies got used to the temperature then headed out to work on sighting. We discussed techniques to tackle the turns around the buoys… but lets be honest I was only worried about making the turn without drowning! We chatted a bit about exiting the water and moving into T1 and I was feeling comfortable with the task ahead. I must say, this was the perfect start to the day!

Around 2 o’clock we headed for package pick-up and I was surprised to see a huge line! My patience was tested and I was incredibly relieved when my race package was in hand! The volunteers working the package pick-up were great. They explained everything in the package in detail and took time to answer silly newbie questions. We drove out to Hubble Lake to drop off the bikes and get a look at the lake. This was the moment that it felt real! Banners were set up, hundreds of bikes were racked and if you looked hard enough you could see the first buoy. There wasn’t a ton of information about the Olympic distance details (swim route, bus schedules, etc.) which had me a bit nervous but Coach Richelle talked me through it and I was quickly feeling much better about it.

We headed off for dinner at the Olive Garden and were home early to get organized for the race. We had fancy race number tattoos in lieu of being body marked with a sharpie. This seemed very cool until the tattoo started rubbing off within minutes. Good thing we bought a sharpie at Wal-Mart earlier that day.

Great White North Triathlon

GWN Race Day

I surprisingly had a really good sleep and woke up feeling ready to go. Transition 1 and 2 are in different locations for this race so we had to catch the bus to Hubbles Lake. The 70.3 was scheduled to start 90 minutes before the Olympic so I had plenty of time to get organized in T1. I didn’t think about how long I would be waiting before the start and that it would be a little chilly at 7am. I had to wrap my towel around my legs to stay warm (rookie mistake).

Besides being uncomfortably cold I was excited to watch the 70.3 swim. I couldn’t believe how quickly the leaders rounded the buoy’s and made their way back to the beach. It was inspirational watching the athletes complete their swim and transition to the bike.

Last minute selfie before the start!

Swim

Time: 33:48

Finally it was time to get into my wetsuit and dip into the lake to get used to the temperature. Before I knew it we were being herded out of the lake, over the timing mat and onto the beach for the start. I remember feeling surprisingly calm considering I have never done anything like this. I gave the boyfriend a quick kiss, wished him luck and took a couple more deep breaths before the gun went off! 300 meters in I started to feel very uncomfortable. My wetsuit felt tight against my neck and I felt like I couldn’t breath. My mind started racing:

“I don’t want to do this anymore”
“Maybe I can just grab onto a kayak and be done with this”

Mental slap!

“You need to calm the F down!”
“You’ve trained for this”
“Try singing. You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…”

That’s right, I started signing and kept repeating the same verse over and over (at least 50 times). I calmed down right away as it gave me something else to focus on. I cleared the first buoy without changing my stroke but after rounding the second buoy I received a swift kick in the ribs. I remembered Coach Richelle’s advice “we’d all be friends if we were on the beach”, very true! I put it in the “fuckit bucket” (better known as the mental “box”) and carried on my way. I was so excited to see the shore approaching and put a tad more power into my stroke!

T1

Photo by Ken Anderson

I was so happy to have survived the swim and anxious to get onto my bike. The lovely strippers had my wetsuit off in a flash. My transition went smoothly and before you knew it I was on the bike.

Bike

Time: 1:51

Luckily Richelle warned me about the hill you have to climb right out of T1, my bike was in a low gear and pushing to the top was a piece of cake.

My plan was to start fueling right away. I went to take a drink of my carbo-pro and electrolyte mix and was stunned to taste only water. Nooooo! The boyfriend and I have similar water bottles and I took his instead of mine. At this point I had a minor freak out as I know how important it is to keep calories up in order to have enough in the tank to get through the race. I calmed myself, put it in the “fuckit bucket” and reminded myself that I had a back-up gel in pocket and I would figure something out at the aid station. I hit the first aid station around 11km and luckily volunteers were holding out gels and bananas. Thank goodness! I didn’t anticipate how difficult it would be to grab a gel while cycling but caught one on the third try.

The bike course was scenic, had fairly tame hills and the perfect amount of aid stations and volunteers. As this is a double loop course for the 70.3 it got a bit congested in areas which made it nearly impossible not to draft. I liked the loop because I only had to do it once because it gave me an opportunity to see all the athletes which was extreamly motivating.

Lindsay_bike_GWN

Photo by Ken Anderson

Nearing the last 10km of the bike I started playing cat and mouse with a couple people. One of whom, I’m convinced, didn’t like being passed by a girl. No problem, go ahead… I’ll catch you on the run. I was getting a bit tired of the ride and was ready to run! I focused on being deliberate with my actions through T2 but I couple things I need to remember for Ironman 70.3 Calgary:

  1. Untie shoes before
  2. Transfer Garmin from Bike to wrist in the last 10k of the bike

Run

Time: 54:32

I was so happy to be off my bike and onto familiar ground. The run is my strength and I felt ready to race this section. I had a couple people in sight that I wanted to reel in but listened to my plan and backed off the pace a bit, allowing my body to adjust. My legs felt a little wobbly for about 5 min as I made my way through streets and alleys to a lovely path system. I neared the 4km and felt great so I picked up the pace and started fishing. With a mile to go I opened up my stride and went for it, crossing the line at 3:20:10.

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My only goals were:

  • Survive the race
  • Have fun
  • Stay in the moment

I definitely feel like I accomplished all three!

I was presented a very awesome finisher medal and t-shirt and strolled over to cheer people in. The boyfriend came through shortly after and I was happy to see him finish strong.

Overall the day was perfect, well organized and perfect for newbies. If anything, this race eased my anxiety and proved that my training was on track for the Ironman 70.3… in 2 days!

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Foodie Friday: Buddha Bowl

Foodie Friday

Summer is here and it is hot! During the summer as the temperature increases my appetite decreases. I have to constantly remind myself to eat something, especially during training. I’m 9 days away from Ironman Calgary (70.3) and eating healthy nutrient filled food is a priority. I noticed myself low on energy last week and think this was due to a large deficit in calories. Going from work, to home, to working out  doesn’t always leave a lot of time to focus on eating but this week I’m back on track and feeling less like napping and more myself.

Buddha bowl ingredients

SPUD delivers fresh, local, organic produce to my door every two weeks and lately I’ve been getting some stellar beets… and beets are perfect for buddha bowls! I was first introduced to this salad by my friend (and Naturopath) Susan. It’s so quick, easy and utterly delicious.

If anyone wants to try SPUD (which I highly recommend) I have a coupon code for $20 of free groceries. Just leave me a message below.

Buddha Bowl

Makes 2 hefty portions

1 beet grated
1 carrot grated
½ zucchini grated
3 handfuls of spinach
½ avocado cubed
1 tbsp hemp seeds
2 tbsp of slivered almonds
½ cup of brown rice or quinoa

Chicken breast (optional)
Cooked tofu cubs (optional)

Dressing:
1 cup oil
¼ water
¼ apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp tahini
2 garlic cloves
dash of cayenne

Prepare:

1.Cook rice or quinoa as indicated on the package.

2. Simply wash, grate and cut veggies

Beets

3. Cook tofu or chicken if desired. If grilling tofu add a touch of Tamari to add some flavour.

4. Combine dressing ingredients into a food processor or blender. Blen until well combined and smooth.

Buddha Bowl Dressing

5. Assemble into a big bowl and enjoy! I like to prepare all the veggies and let the boyfriend build his own. This is also great for dinner parties.

Buddha Bowl

Enjoy.

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Tri Training Update

Where the heck has June gone? I can’t believe it’s been over three weeks since the ultra and in less than a week I’ll be trying my first tri!

So what have I been up to for the past few weeks? I’ve been focusing on recovery, building my triathlon training and spending time with some of my lovely girlfriends. I feel like I’ve been working really hard and am starting to notice a difference :)

Recovery

I’m pleasantly surprised by how quickly I recovered from the ultra marathon. I was expecting to be in more than after my usual marathon but I think slowing down the pace for this race save my legs! I did have to walk down stairs backwards for a couple days but I managed to wear heels to a work event 24-hours after the race. I thought this was a pretty impressive accomplishment until I went to walk down 2 flights of stairs with our chefs – glad I could provide a bit of comic relief.

It's a great feeling when you can walk down the stairs forward!

It’s a great feeling when you can walk down the stairs forward!

For 6 days post ultra marathon I wasn’t allowed to run. I walked quite a bit, made it to the pool for float and jumped on the bike for some easy spinning. My legs were definitely tired but felt pretty good and I was more than happy to take extra rest days!

The Tuesday after the run I went for a massage. I’m usually on runvactions and don’t plan for massages (seems so silly now that I’ve had one). What a great way to flush the lactic acid and get everything moving again! I’ll be adding this to my routine for sure.

One of the things coach Richelle stressed for speedy recovery was healthy eating! I know this sounds  like an obvious choice for athletes but it’s very easy to make exceptions after races. ” I just burned over 3,000 calories, I deserve a donut for breakfast, poutine for lunch and obviously a whole pizza for dinner”, okay over exaggeration but you get the point. I will admit I had a very tasty Smash Burger and fries for dinner the night of the race but have been eating lots of fruit, veggies, protein… the good stuff! Honestly, I think this has made a huge difference in recovering quickly.

SPUD has made my life so easy this past month with fresh produce deliveries! So fresh and tasty.

SPUD has made my life so easy this past month with fresh produce deliveries! So fresh and tasty.

 

Triathlon Training

The Swim

It’s funny that the swim was the thing I dreaded the most before starting training but it’s now a workout I look forward to. Once you get into a rhythm it’s quite relaxing. A few months ago I could only swim 700m (with lots of breaks) and now I’m swimming 2000m! My swim workouts are always broken up into drills with some speed, some strength and of course endurance. This past week I swam my first 1500m straight which makes me feel less nervous about the upcoming olympic tri. The boyfriend gave me a very nice compliment last week (at least I’m taking it as a compliment) “I used to be able to lap you but now we’re pretty much doing the same pace”.

My wetsuit arrive last week and was a lot of work to get into. I’ve been reassured this means it fits correctly – snug as a bug! I’m excited (and not) to try the wetsuit in a lake this weekend. I hate being cold and I have a feeling Lake Bonavista is going to be freezing!

new wetsuit

The Bike

Rides have been going fairly well. I’ve had to move a couple indoors due to rain but that’s Calgary for you. I had a minor melt down a couple weeks ago when I had to do a solo ride on a Saturday. I’ve been on the highways a number of times over the past couple years but never by myself. I found it extremely  intimidating  to look up a bike route online, plan out a place to park and ride solo on a semi busy highway for a couple hours. I almost cried and definitely pouted but sucked it up and faced my fears. As soon as I was on my bike, surrounded by beautiful scenery I felt happy. Other cyclists waved or nodded as they passed and I didn’t feel completely alone.

Last weekend Leigh joined me for half of my ride and it was a windy one! There were points where I didn’t know if I was even moving forward. This was great mental training ride as I had focus on being comfortable with the uncomfortable. I’m so glad Leigh was there to suffer with me! Not to mention we had a great chat with the wind at our backs after we turned.

Ride

The Run

I’m so happy that I’ve dropped my run mileage and can focus on half marathon training! I was getting really sick of the distance during ultra training and am really enjoying the intervals. This is risky to put out there but I’ve been really enjoying the brick workouts. I’ve heard from other athletes that the transition from biking to running is the worst and I’ll admit that it feels a little awkward and heavy but it’s not that bad. Knock on wood.

Training Summary

June 2 – 8
6 hours 40 min

June 9 – 15
8 hours 14 min

June 16 – 22
15 hours 4 min

Girl Time

A girlfriend I grew up with is getting married next month so we’ve been getting together quite a bit this month to celebrate :) We took a girls trip/stagette to Scottsdale and soaked up booze the 40 degree weather. It was so nice to spend quality time with this group of friends and I even managed to squeeze in some solid workouts including a 6am 40 degree run – no break for this lady!

10 days until my triathlon debut and taste of what to expect for Ironman 70.3 Calgary – I’m feeling strong and oh so excited!

 

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Ultramarathoner: Calgary Marathon Recap

I am an ultramarathoner!

God that feels good to say. I’ve been enjoying recovery mode while basking in the ultimate runners high (yes, it truly exists) for the past week. I know some of you (Crystal) have been waiting for this post but I needed some time to digest and come back down to earth, so here it is! Sit back and relax because I wrote a small novel.

I must start by expressing my overwhelming gratitude towards the people surrounding and supporting me through this amazing journey. My heart is full with love for everyone who made this dream a reality and shared in creating one amazing memory that will last a lifetime. Most of you will be mentioned below but if I forgot (I do have a horrible memory) please forgive me and know how special you are to me.

Race Weekend Festivities

I’ve been so fortunate to be part of the ForeRunner Ambassador family for the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon. I’ve met some amazing local runners/bloggers and have had the insider scoop into all things Calgary Marathon, including invites to some pretty cool events like the Calgary Marathon VIP Event at the Calgary Tower. On Friday night I met up with the ForeRunner ladies (Terry, Michelle, Tina), my date Ang and another local runner/blogger Sue for dinner. We all agreed that it was in our best interest to eat a hearty meal considering we were only days away from the race.

ForeRunners Dinner

After a lovely dinner on the Milestones patio we headed up 626 feet to the observation deck of the Calgary Tower. What a great spot to host an event! The ladies and I knew Bart Yasso (creator of the Yasso 800’s and an iconic running legend) would be in town for race weekend. We hoped he was going to be at the event but who knew Bart would be hanging with us ladies for a better part of the evening?

Calgary ladies with Bart

the Calgary Marathon introduced the elites: Lanni Marchant (Canada’s fastest woman and 14th overall in Boston this year!), Dean Karnazes, Ed Whitlock  and, of course, Bart Yasso.  – See more at: http://cowgirlruns.com/#sthash.sZoq1Tbm.dpuf
After a drink the Calgary Marathon introduced the elites: Lanni Marchant (Canada’s fastest woman and 14th overall in Boston this year!), Dean Karnazes, Ed Whitlock  and, of course, Bart Yasso.  – See more at: http://cowgirlruns.com/#sthash.sZoq1Tbm.dpuf
After a drink the Calgary Marathon introduced the elites: Lanni Marchant (Canada’s fastest woman and 14th overall in Boston this year!), Dean Karnazes, Ed Whitlock  and, of course, Bart Yasso.  – See more at: http://cowgirlruns.com/#sthash.sZoq1Tbm.dpuf

The Calgary Marathon introduced some very special guests: Lanni Marchant (Canada’s fastest woman), Dean Karnazes, Ed Whitlock and Bart (yup, first name basis). All four running extraordinaires were bestowed Calgary’s highest honour and officially White Hatted.

Pep Talk + Preparation

I had a great sleep on Friday night and was up early on Saturday morning to meet my coach at the expo before it opened. I had such a busy week at work that I honestly hadn’t had much time to really focus on my race plan. Thank goodness coach Richelle made some time to chat with me. We discussed how I was feeling, what I was planning on doing in certain situations, and above all I promised to sit on the couch with my feet up for the remainder of the day! A few things that I would be focusing on Sunday:

  1. Stay in the moment  – try not to think about what was coming up or what had just happened but live/run in the ‘now’
  2. Put it in the box – this worked really well! Anytime my mind would veer from the ‘now’ I was to put the thought in an imaginary box
  3. Fuel – make sure to take in enough ‘food’, water and salt during the race
  4. Posture – every 5km reset my posture to avoid hunching

Working with coach Richelle has been such a wonderful experience and I am so thankful to her for kicking my butt through ultramarathon training.

As most runners we all have our rituals. Mine is to lay out all my gear the night before so I don’t forget anything.

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I was starting to feel a bit nervous about the race in the late afternoon and decided to pull out all my old bibs to remind myself how far I’ve come and what I’ve accomplished. It worked, I felt much more confident and was able to relax for the majority of the evening.

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Race

I woke up at 5am, slowly got myself ready and ate a disgusting bowl of oatmeal. I’m not one who likes eating early in the morning and with race jitters it was tough just to swallow my breakfast. The boyfriend and I drove down to the beltline to park and I was surprised to see so much parking was available considering the Calgary Marathon sold out this year. We dropped our bag and made our way over to the start corrals. Luckily I have a very strong bladder and never have to worry about the potty lines, however they didn’t look to be too bad. I was supposed to meet my running buddies Carole and Don but couldn’t find them in the hordes of people.

The corrals were a bit of a disaster with so many wonderful runners that I decided to be patient and stand outside of them as I wasn’t planning on breaking any time records. A couple minutes out and I spotted Don and Carole, what are the chances?! I was so happy to find them. We had a plan – we were going to stick to a conservative (for us)  6:00min/km pace to preserve energy for the last 7.8km.

We did a fairly good job sticking to pace as we weaved our way through the crowds. It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement and  energy of other runners.

Here’s what km 1-10 looked like:

Screen shot 2014-06-09 at 3.51.25 PM

At the 9km mark we waved goodbye to the half marathoners (including the boyfriend) and ventured through the beautiful communities of Elbow Park and Altadore. We were marveling a hippie costume when Terry ran up from behind. I’m so glad I ran into her and her running partner Lori on the course. Both ladies have had a  great training season for the Marathon and looked very strong! I ran up to snap a selfie with Terry before she took off.

Terry & Lindsay

The boyfriend’s sister lives close to 50th Ave and brought the family out to cheer me on. It was so nice to see friendly faces and of course a smiling 1 year-old clapping her hands for all the runners :)

Through the Mount Royal campus I started chatting with a fellow from Ontario who was running his first marathon. I get so excited for people running their first as I know the feeling awaiting them at the finish! I was impressed that he chose Calgary and told him he picked the best year to do it.

Here’s what km 11-20 looked like:

11-20

By the 23rd km marker Carole was telling me who she was dedicating each km to when I recognized a bystander – my Dad! I immediately veered off course to give him a big hug! My Dad came out to my very first marathon and promised that we wouldn’t miss seeing me complete by first ultramarathon! He rode the course so I was able see him a few times.

Yup, that's a clown nose!

Yup, that’s a clown nose!

My good friend (who I met through running) Cat was on the side lines. She was cheering on her father and jumped on course for a couple hundred meters with me. Cat will make another appearance in the story.

As we continued on our way I noticed another runner I know. I sped up to give Crystal a tap on the bum. She was experiencing some hip issues which was forcing her to slow down but we chatted for awhile and I deemed her strong and able! It was a pleasure to run with her for a bit and I couldn’t leave without a selfie!

Crystal and Lindsay

We neared the 25th marker and all three of us cheered and high-fived! Half way there! I was feeling good and very upbeat. My dear friend Sue found me next! She too was on her bike and like my Dad was there to support me through my first marathon. Sue is a gem and radiated a boat load of enthusiasm as she peddled beside me for about 500m.

Half way 25k

I was headed towards Kensigton and was enjoying the slight downhill after running through the hilliest section of the course. I knew Kensigton and Memorial Drive was going to be the perfect place to stack my friends as we (50kers) had to run through this section three times. First I saw Kristen and Meghan, both looked so stylish with their lattes but that wasn’t going to last long as I gave them a big sweaty hug! I then turned the corner onto Memorial and saw my friends Leah, Krystal and Alyssa. I grew up with these girls and am so fortunate to have them in my life. Group hug, high-fives and they even made signs – my favourite!

Cheering

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Here’s what km 21-30 looked like:

21-30

By the 34th km I was starting to feel the heat. It was such a beautiful day for a race but it was a little toasty. I had to slow down for an extra walk break and told Carole to keep going. She’s so strong (and more than double my age I might add). I was so happy to see the 50k turn around, even though this wouldn’t be the last time I saw it. I had to put my head down and focus, my stomach was starting to hurt so I made sure to grab extra water at the stations. Side note: the water & aid stations were beyond amazing! The volunteers were so happy and encouraging.

At 36k I saw my Dad and Sue! This was perfectly timed. I really needed a pick-me-up and they did just that (after I complained about my tummy hurting). They said I looked pretty good….I wasn’t feeling so good but it was nice of them to say it. At this point I knew I was nearing Kensigton and turn around for the last loop of memorial. At this turn I would received my slap bracelet that proved I ran the 50k and ensured I was through the cutoff. I never doubted getting through the cutoff in time but what a feeling it was to have a total stranger slap me with a orange piece of plastic! Thank you random stranger. At the same moment my friends were cheering me on! I almost started crying (put it in the box). Seriously the best friends ever!

Getting the 50k slap bracelet! Do I look happy?

Getting the 50k slap bracelet! Do I look happy?

Here’s what 31-40km looked like:

31-40

Cat and Ashley jumped on course with me for the final death loop. We’ve been a running trio for years and when they offered to run with me I knew exactly where I wanted them. Cat and Ashley are some of the most positive and supportive girls I know and they lived up to my expectations. Both were bursting with energy which lifted my spirits right back up. We got back on pace and they chatted and joked and cheered. We celebrated every km marker and time flew by. At the 42 mark (marathon distance) the girls turned into my personal paparazzi.

Full marathon complete. Only 7.8km to go.

Full marathon complete. Only 7.8km to go.

We continued on and they started chatting while I started listening. My Dad and Sue waved one more time before heading off to the finish. This was the final stretch! I’ve ran this route so many times that I had a really good sense of the distance remaining.

The running trio! Best friends ever.

The running trio! Best friends ever.

Ashley and Cat decided to stick with me. Ashley running and Cat on her baby blue cruiser bike. About 6km out I apologized and told them it was double-headphone time. They continued to chat and keep me going. I saw my friend Adam walking on the route as he tried to find another friend of his. Adam said hello and asked if he could hug me. I was happy to fulfill this request and started crying when he told me how proud he was (in the box). That was it, I was doing it! I was running an ultramarathon. My stomach was still upset so I handed my HR monitor and hydration pack to the girls and told them that I needed to finish the rest by myself. I took off toward East Village.

I was at the last water station and all the sudden these youngsters breezed past me. What the? The 5k had just started and the leading pack was passing me. How heartbreaking! I was on km 48. I continued on and had a laugh with every distance runner I passed while stating the obvious “this just isn’t fair”. Apparently Cat and Ashley hadn’t left me, but instead were following me. They found a way to double on Cat’s cruiser and rode beside me with words of encouragement and laughter. I really wish I had a picture of them, it was priceless.

1 mile left and that last bit of energy kicked in! “I can do anything for 1 mile” was my mantra. As soon as I entered the Stampede Park I was on cloud nine. I was really doing it and the emotions where brewing. My boss was at the 500m mark and jumped out on the course to grab a photo and give me a high-five! She ran her first (and swears it will be her only) marathon in Chicago last year and kicked ass.

500m out

I turned the final corner and started to kick (my version of “sprinting” after 49.7km). The grandstand was roaring and I was flying. I crossed the finish line at 5:22 (4th in my age/gender category!). I hunched over with a grin from ear-to-ear and let the water works pour! I forgot what that feeling was like. The overwhelming emotion that comes from completing something you’ve been dreaming about – a true runner high!

Raw emotion! Official ultramarathoner!

Raw emotion! Official ultramarathoner!

The Aftermath

I was given my medal, beer stein and started walking through the corral. Carole stopped me and gave me big hug! She finished in 5:09 and was the first in her age and gender category. My Dad and Sue spotted me and gave me a big hug through the gates and insisted on capturing the moment.

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Here’s what the home stretch looked like:

41-50

I continued through the food area and found my boyfriend, parents, aunt and friends waiting for me! This was the first time some of them have seen me finish. Again the water works came but I couldn’t stop smiling. We found a nice shady spot where I took off my runners and slipped on my Birkenstocks, what a lovely moment! My Mom and Sue are healing wizards, they sat on either side of me and did their Reiki magic. My Dad (stepdad, it can get confusing with 2 fathers) brought me a little lunch box with his famous pulled pork – how sweet! My parents didn’t want me to worry about dinner that night. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that pulled pork was the last thing I wanted to eat at the moment, lol. It was delicious the next day though :)

My Mom, Dad and I

My Mom, Dad and I

I usually travel for races so it was a luxury to be in my own home for recovery! I drew myself an epsom salt bath, blended a protein smoothie (served in my beer stein), mixed up some Vega Recovery Accelerator and enjoyed a 2 hour bath complete with Netflix. Yes, I ate in the bath and brought my laptop into the bathroom with me.

Cheers! No beer for me, I have to recover for a half Ironman.

Cheers! No beer for me, I have to recover for a half Ironman.

Overall, the Calgary Marathon 50th Anniversary 50k was one of the most gratifying and wonderful races to date. I don’t think there’s a photo of me without a huge grin on my face. I had the most fun I’ve ever had racing. Thank you to all the race organizers and volunteers that made it possible. Thank you to my friends and family for believing in and supporting me. Thank you to my body for meeting the crazy demands. Most of all, thank you to my wonderful boyfriend who stands (and runs!) beside me day in and out!

My clown Dad and I

My clown Dad and I

The boyfriend and I

The boyfriend and I

If you haven’t done the Calgary Marathon put it on your list! YaHoo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nutrition is Recovery’s Best Friend

I’ve noticed over the past couple months a significant change in my recovery time and am positive that it’s from my nutrition changes. I’ve been discussing this with a few people over the last week and thought I would share what my routine is for a long training day.

When I first started my ultramarathon training journey I asked a lot of questions about the best way to train my body for the extra 8k. Many resources indicated that training was no different for a 50k than a 42.4k which just didn’t sit right with me. I had the opportunity to chat with a local distance junkie, Martin Pernell, who’s advice was to focus on nutrition. He explained that you can train your body to endure the distance but without the proper fuel you won’t be able to sustain the energy required to push the last 8k.

This advice made a lot of sense to me. During marathons I notice a pattern, I’m able to take in fuel (gels) up to 30k but am so sugared out and suffer from stomach pains/bloating that I stop taking them. Through training at slower distances I usually don’t notice an uneasiness however when I’m maintaining and  pushing race pace I find my body rejects gels. I can get through with the nutrition taken up to the 30k mark when running a marathon but highly doubt I’ll be able to finish 50k without replenishing calories. Martin suggested that I try Carbo-Pro.

Carbo-pro is amazing! I love that it has no taste, it doesn’t upset my stomach and it forces me to drink more water. Overall and based on my personal experience my body is getting enough calories that my muscles are able to recover very quickly. This month has been filled with very long, very tough runs and my body has never felt better at this stage. I’m a bit stiff and walking a little awkwardly immeditly after the run, however within 3 hours my legs loosen up and I’m walking normally. By the next day I’m able to throw on my gear and jog into work, fatigued yes but not sore.

Carbo-Pro Chart

Carbo-pro makes it very simple to understand how many calories you need with this fancy chart!

I had to swap my trusty Nathan Belt for Camelbak due to the amount of liquid I’ll be carrying for 5-5:30 hours of running for the ultramarathon. I’m not in love with the pack I bought as it’s slightly too big when I don’t have a jacket on. I should have bought a women’s specific hydration pack.

Hydration pack

1.5 Liter Camelbak

Here’s a look at what my long training nutrition looks like:

Before Running

Oatmeal or Banana

Running

Carbo-Pro – 100 calories per hour

Carbo-Pro is a neutral tasting, pure and clean complex carb source that you add to water.

Carbo-Pro is a neutral tasting, pure and clean complex carb source that you add to water.

Vega Electrolyte – 1/2 a package

Vega electrolyte

Post Run

Vega Recovery Accelerator – 1 scoop

Mixed with juice tastes much better than water

Mixed with juice tastes much better than water

Vega Protein – 2 scoops + almond milk + frozen banana
Eggs + 1/2 english muffin + turkey bacon
1/2 english muffin + peanut butter + honey

Post run breakfast

Ultramarathon + Triathlon Training Update

It’s time again to check-in! As I said in my last post, I no longer know what week of training I’m in however I do know that I’m less than 3 weeks away from the ultramarathon!

My coach is not taking it easy on me as a first time triathlete in training. Good thing I welcome the challenge! My workouts for the week are posted on Sunday nights when I’m recovering from long mileage over the weekend. Last Sunday when checking my schedule the first thing I read was “A big week all around for training”. Oh boy, I thought the past week peaking at 35k with a 2 hour brick (bike + run) the day before was a challenge.

The weekday workouts were fairly normal but the weekend was tough. A emailed my scheduled Sunday workout to a couple running friends in warning, giving them the opportunity to back out. Here’s what the workout looked like:

32km Run

  • 10k warm up
  • 10k at marathon race pace
  • 5k easy – regular long run pace
  • 4k alternating 1k fast / 1k easy
  • 3k easy run cool down

I think we started with a group of six and I finished with a group of four. One friend even commented that he was feeling really strong the previous week but this run kicked his ass. As tough as this run was it was great for mental prep. Luckily the weather was awesome on Sunday which made for a very enjoyable run.

Here’s a look at what last weeks training looked like:

Workout log

Total: 10 hour and 16 min

This week I’ve been enjoying a mini-break mid-week with a decrease in intensity allowing my body to recover for one more hard weekend of training before I taper :)

A new level of crazy – 70.3 to be exact

I don’t even know what week I’m in for Calgary Marathon, ultramarathon training. All I know is the race is only 26 days away!

Training has been going exceptionally well since my return from vacation, which now seems like forever ago! Luckily the boyfriend and I always try to have a trip planned which gives us something to look forward to – next trip, Scottsdale with my girlfriends!

Ironman-70.3-Calgary

About a month ago I was offered a bib to the, sold out, Ironman 70.3 Calgary that takes place on July 27th. I’ve was planning on jumping into the triathlon world last year but chickened out because of the swim. I’m a decent swimmer but the thought of swimming in a lake with hundreds of people, all going in the same direction (like a pool of fish)  horrifies me! A co-worker, who’s completed numerous Ironmans, convinced me that this is totally do-able (he should really be in sales). So I signed-up.

Hopefully this isn't me during the swim.

Hopefully this isn’t me during the swim.

A couple weeks ago I was counting out the weeks until my triathlon debut and started having a panic attack when I reached the final count of 15 weeks! Have I gone mad? What was I thinking, that I could do an ultramarathon in June and be ready for a half Ironman in July…. and lets not forget I’ve NEVER done a tri! I took a few deep breaths and it was decided, if there’s any chance of me doing this without drowning I need to hire a coach. I met my coach at a Calgary Marathon event months ago and ended up taking her card, never imaging that I was going to call her for this purpose. I emailed her right away and set up an appointment for  same night. My coach has such a positive, bubbly personality and reassured me that I have enough endurance experience and base to make it across the finish line but warned me that it will be tough.

My coach wasn’t kidding, training has been intense! Some of the hardest workouts of done in years. She has me working out 6 times a week and so far none of the days have been easy. Fridays are my rest days and  I’ve never been so thrilled to take the day off.

Swim training 70.3 Calgary

Swimming is my weakest activity by far but I’m already starting to feel more comfortable in the water.

My ultramarathon training mileage peaked this past weekend with a 35k LSD complete with 6x1min pick ups at the end. This weekend will be a very tough 32k with combined paces to push me mentally and physically, but not until I finish a weeks worth of cycling and swimming – oh god  yay!

My 35k recovery smoothie!

My 35k recovery smoothie!

I love not having to think about what I should or shouldn’t be doing for training. I trust my coach and am trusting the training. I just have to get my butt out the door and put in the work which is much easier when you know someone will be reviewing your heart rate and garmin activities.

Here’s a look at what I’ve been doing:

May 23 – 27, 2014

70.3 Calgary Training

Some of the distances are missing because it’s been to cold to bike outside and I forgot to write down the stationary mileage.

May 28 – April 4, 2014

70.3 Calgary Training

My body and mind are feeling great and I’m getting super excited for the Calgary Marathon in a few short weeks. Triathlon tips are always welcome!

 

 

RnRnR (Rest, Relaxation, Running)

Aloha! I’m back!

It would appear that I’ve gone AWOL over the past month but to be fair I’ve been really busy relaxing! The boyfriend and I booked a trip to Hawaii a year ago and have been eagerly counting down to departure. I knew March would be the perfect time to jump on a plane in search of sunnier, warmer weather and I was correct. Knowing that we had a trip planned made the -35 degree days in February bearable.

My sister won a trip to Honolulu through her company so we decided to start our trip on the island of Oahu with them. My sister is my best friend, unfortunately she lives 3 hours away so I don’t get to spend nearly as much time with her as I like. It was absolutely amazing to be able to spend time with her and her husband!

My sister and I walking along Waikiki Beach.

My sister and I walking along Waikiki Beach.

We stayed in Waikiki which sits on a stunning section of beach. It’s no wonder Hawaii’s ‘most vulnerable’ call the parks in Waikiki home (showers, public washrooms, ocean and parks to pitch a tent). Waikiki is very American, they have every high-end brand name store you can think of and some very popular American restaurants. Still, Waikiki beach is worth the hustle and bustle as the water is crystal clear, the most beautiful colour of turquoise and warm.

View of Waikiki Beach from our hotel room at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort

View of Waikiki Beach from our hotel room at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort

We had a beach day, went for quite a few beach walks, took a 2-hour surf lesson, toured Pearl Harbor, and enjoyed some lovely dinners. I even made it out for a run before breakfast one morning!

Exploring the USS Missouri where the Japanese surrendered, ending WWII

Exploring the USS Missouri where the Japanese surrendered, ending WWII

After four wonderful days in Waikiki we said goodbye to my sister and brother-in-law and flew to Kauai. I had heard from friends that Kauai is one of the most beautifully lush places you’ll ever see but I don’t think you can truly appreciate it until you see it! The island is an absolute paradise! It’s exactly like Jurassic Park…minus the dinosaurs!

The Na Pali Coast, Kauai

The Na Pali Coast, Kauai

Our hotel was stunning! 100% the most luxurious hotel I’ve ever had the pleasure of staying at. Complete with four pools (including an adult only pool), a lazy river with waterfalls you can swim behind, a salt water lagoon and private beach front.

Our hotel, the Grand Hyatt Kauai

Our hotel, the Grand Hyatt Kauai

Kauai is known for great hiking, so we hiked! We did three hikes and took rest/beach days in between.

We were inspired to do our first hike when we met a local photographer at a Luau. He had taken a striking photo of the Na Pali Coast and explained that it was one of his favorite views on the island, We were sold! The Awa-awapuhi Trail is in the Kokee State Park. The trail was well maintained, downhill in the first half and all up-hill on the way back.

Enjoying the view at the end of the Awa-awapuhi trail.

Enjoying the view at the end of the Awa-awapuhi trail.

The next day I soaked up some vitamin D at the pool.

Reading, napping, swimming!

Reading, napping, swimming!

We took a drive to the end of the road on the North end of the island. This is where the Kalalau Trail begins which is the most famous hike on the island… it’s also 11 miles long. As we forgot our backpacking gear we opted to hike a small section of the trail which offered beautiful lookouts of the Na Pali Coast.

Hiking Kauai

Usually you can get to a waterfall (6k round trip) but it was raining and the river was too high to cross.

We took another rest day which included sunrise yoga!

We took another rest day which included sunrise yoga!

For our last hike we decided to be slightly more adventurous. We drove to Waimea Canyon to check out some lookouts and waterfalls.

Canyon Kauai

Waimea Canyon

We then ventured to find the Honopu Trail head which we read was slightly hidden as the trail has been unmaintained since the hurricane. We expected the trail to be slightly less manicured however the guide book should have recommended a machete in order to get through the overgrown bush. My legs were super scratched up after this one – so much for my spa treatment! This was an adventure for the two of us but the views were worth it! I have a powerful fear of ledges but was able to walk a good section of the ridge before having a minor freak-out!

The boyfriend went a bit further ahead and took photos while I sat, waiting a safe distance from the edge!

The boyfriend went a bit further ahead and took photos while I sat, waiting a safe distance from the edge!

We managed to squeeze in a few 6k runs but there weren’t many options for running other than the shoulder of the road. It was nice just to be able to run in shorts and a tank top!

We found this great spot during a run and close to our hotel. We went back to watch the sun rise,

We found this great spot during a run and close to our hotel. We went back to watch the sun rise

Usually when we travel we’re quite active either running marathons or site seeing in big cities. I wanted a beach vacation where I could fully turn off, rest and relax. This trip had the perfect mix of adventure (hiking) and being plain lazy! I’m very grateful to have spent 11 wonderful days with my favorite person, in paradise!

The boyfriend and I in paradise

The boyfriend and I in paradise

Now back to training!

Ultramarathon Training Recap: Week 9

Week 9 was an absolute whirlwind! Occasionally I have work events to attend in the evening but rarely do they get sandwiched into one week. I wish I had been more motivated to wake-up early and get the workouts in but (no excuses) between hockey games and car reveals I was simply exhausted. So week 9 was a minor fail in my books.

On the brighter side the weather has taken a huge turn and dare I say, it’s almost spring like!

Lets quickly talk about my Sunday (LSD) day. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping and I had every intention of cycling on my training and then getting outside for 1 1/2 hours. Well daylight savings really screwed with my plans. By the time I woke up I only had time to fit in the cycling part of my workout before we had to leave to take the boyfriends niece skating. I had good intentions of going for my run when we returned home early evening but I just wasn’t feeling up to it and only went out for 6k. So my scheduled 29k turned into a 70min cycle and 40min run. Oh well! Days like this happen and they tend to boost my motivation moving forward. Next Sunday calls for a 22k, my knee is feeling great so I’m feeling confident that I’ll be able to run the whole distance opposed to modifying with cycling!

What was scheduled:

Week 4 ultramarathon training

What was accomplished:

March 3 – March 9 workouts:

Monday – 60 min – Spin
Tuesday – 3.5k – Run Commute
Wednesday – Nothing
Thursday – 3.5k – Run Commute
Friday – 3.5k – Run Commute
Saturday – 30 min – Core
60 min – Weight class
Sunday – 70min – Cycle
40min – Run

A work friend graciously gave me his bike trainer when he upgraded. It’s taken me over a year to finally get Stella (yes I’ve named my bike) set up and now I’m wondering why I waited so long. It’s such a pleasure riding my own, perfectly fitted to my body bike!

Stella on the trainer!

Stella on the trainer!

70min cycle workout while watching "What's Your Number" on TV. Clearly my skin hasn't seen sun in 7 months!

70min cycle workout while watching “What’s Your Number” on TV. Clearly my skin hasn’t seen sun in 7 months!

I had to put a heavy duty tire on to avoid wearing out my normal one. The friendly staff at Speed Theory helped me find the perfect size/style and the boyfriend taught me how to change it! Glad I didn’t have to learn on the side of a road with a flat :)

I should probably set Stella up on a different rug next time so this one doesn't get sweaty!

I should probably set Stella up on a different rug next time so this one doesn’t get sweaty!

A beautiful spring-like run commute selfie!

A beautiful spring-like run commute selfie!

 

 

The godfather of all cookies!

First of all, Happy International Women’s Day to all my lady friends out there! You never cease to inspire and amaze me.

Thanks to my friends at Brookline Public Relations for sending me this beauty... it even smells lovely!

Thanks to my friends at Brookline Public Relations for sending me this beauty… it even smells lovely!

Now onto the cookie of all cookies! One of the things I love most about running (I know the list is long) is that burning so many calories allows me to eat cookies… a lot of cookies. This cookie is the perfect combination of sweet, salty and chewy! I found the original recipe on Pintrest from Ambitious Kitchen and have made a few modifications to the recipe based on what I had in my kitchen and taking out the dairy. If it wasn’t creepy I would personally like to hug Ambitious Kitchen for creating such a delicious cookie recipe.

Nutella is stuffed between a hazelnut brown butter flavor enhanced chocolate chip cookie then sprinkled with sea salt. – Ambitious Kitchen

Browning the butter in this recipe is key. It enhances the flavour and adds a nutty note to the cookie. To learn how to brown butter click here. Chilling the dough is also very important, I chill mine for about 3 hours… or I make the dough before work in the morning and leave in the fridge until I get home to stuff and bake.

WARNING: These crack cookies, once they enter your mouth there is no turning back!

Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies + Sea Salt

In all it's glory! I thought I took a photo but I guess I was too focused on eating it instead. Borrowed image from Ambitious Kitchen

In all it’s glory! I thought I took a photo but I guess I was too focused on eating it instead. Borrowed image from Ambitious Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon almond milk plain greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 jar of Nutella, chilled in refrigerator
  • Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Brown the butter [Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. The butter will begin to foam. Make sure you whisk consistently during this process. After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to brown on the bottom of the saucepan; continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma. Immediately transfer the butter to a bowl to prevent burning. Set aside to cool for a few minutes]
  2. With an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, vanilla, and yogurt until combined. Add the dry ingredients slowly and beat on low-speed just until combined. Gently fold in all of the chocolate chips.
  3. Chill your dough for 2 hours in the refrigerator, or place in freezer for 30 minutes if you are super eager, although I cannot promise the same results if you do this.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Once dough is chilled measure about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball. Flatten the dough ball very thinly into the palm of your hand. Place 1 teaspoon of chilled nutella in the middle and fold dough around it; gently roll into a ball — it doesn’t have to be perfectly rolled! Make sure that the nutella is not seeping out of the dough. Add more dough if necessary. Place dough balls on cookie sheet, 2 inches apart and flatten with your hand VERY gently. (Really only the tops need to be flattened a bit!)
  5. Bake the cookies 9-11 minutes or until the edges of the cookies begin to turn golden brown. They will look a bit underdone in the middle, but will continue to cook once out of the oven. Cool the cookies on the sheets at least 2 minutes. Sprinkle with a little sea salt. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets after a few minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

Let me know how you like them or what other modifications you made.

 

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