Never say “Never”: Triathlon Edition

Whenever I say or think “oh I’ll NEVER do that” I always end up doing it. It’s like the seed is planted with that word NEVER, it begins to sprout and years later I’m obsessed with something I wouldn’t have given the time of day in my youth. My most recent seed: The Triathlon (thanks Ian). I haven’t ridden a bike since I was 13. During my last swimming lesson I “climbed up the wall like spiderman” – in grade 1. I’m afraid of fish touching my legs in open water and I don’t know anything about how to fix a broken bike chain 40 miles from home. But I said I would NEVER do it, and here I am today, dreaming about completing an Ironman.

The appeal might be the novelty of it all. I started running when I was 30, and I have now figured out what pace is and how much fun it is to race. Add a bike and I’ll get to play with speed (and deal with some new chafing and strained muscles). Throw me in some water and now breathing is a whole new ball game. What is possible? How fast can I swim, bike, and run to the finish line? What will I learn about myself along the way? What teachers will I find? Who will inspire me? Will I inspire my baby girl, or anyone else?

The underlying message is clear: I must use my body. I am an athlete. Dancer, yogi, runner, pregnancy, it’s all about making your blood rush and your body work. I run today because I can, because my legs let me and the will drives me. It’s important to keep options open though, because staying active and healthy into my 90s is going to require flexibility of mind as well as body. I have been reading a lot about fitness and the aging woman. Over the past 40 years, thanks to the revolution of women in sports, we are still just touching the tip of the iceberg of possibility.

My ultimate goal is to feel the way I do today, always. If you push yourself just beyond what you think you are capable of, at least once a week, that might not be an unrealistic expectation.

Perth Kilted 5 Miler – 7 weeks away!

After a long winter of trying to get miles in for a marathon but being bombarded with bad weather, no treadmill, and illness, I have decided to dedicate my training to something I’m actually signed up for – the Guinness Book of World Record Contender for largest Kilted Run! The Perth Kilt Run! It coincides with my birthday, and happens less than 2 hours from my home. My only regret is I didn’t get a Cumming Clan kilt made in honor of the day. But how can I say no to an official kilt purchased at the time of registration for only $30?

This will be the first race I train to run fast. Every short race I have done previously has been an afterthought, or part of a build up to my “big race”. I have already done two weeks of intervals at 5k and 10k pace, and won’t be doing more than 11 miles at a time on my long runs (not that I don’t mind the break!). I have already noticed a huge improvement in my ability to enjoy the intervals, mostly because I’m learning not to attack them too hard or run too fast. Oh yeah, did I mention I’m doing all my speed work with a stroller? It’s just what time allows for, and I refuse to run indoors on a treadmill in this gorgeous weather!

It’s an exciting training program modeled off a 10K program from Brain Training for Runners, and since it’s only a month and a half away (yikes) I know I’ll get there strong. I will get a couple runs in with the kilt too in preparation for where I’ll feel the chafe! I’m going to say my goal is 8:30 per mile, but I know that on race day I’ll go out too fast and crash on the last mile, until I see the finish line where I’ll bust a nut to pick off the people ahead of me and pray I don’t end with an IT band flare up….lol… 🙂

Winter Blues

I have to admit, trying to train for a marathon in the winter with a baby-toddler is a bit of a challenge. You can’t think about whether or not you want to get out there because you might not get the chance tomorrow. My training plan has become a suggestion, because miles have to happen when weather, baby, and family conditions are in sync. Snow, wind, or extreme cold? No stroller. Nap went too long? Too dark to take the baby.

I was very spoiled for almost two months when my hubby was working from home. He was able to watch the video monitor while I crushed 10 mile Tuesdays and hour and a half workouts almost every other day. Rarely had to expose R to the elements from behind the weather shield, but hopefully she hasn’t forgotten how to enjoy a long stroller ride. Besides, getting her AND I suited up, and bundled in the stroller takes longer than running the 4 miles – full of stops and starts anyway for lost toys, mitts, and snacks. This February has been brutal for unlucky weather conditions too, conditions I actually can’t run in. In my pre-baby days, going out when it’s minus WTF outside or the snow is up to your knees didn’t phase me. If I could hack it I would…but I need to be able to take care of the most important thing in my life and I can’t take as many risks. Oh yeah, and the treadmill is broken.

It’s funny, the more I write the more I sound like I’m making excuses. Sure it was easy to make running a priority when I had a nap angel watching her, but if I really want to do a spring marathon, I have to hunker down. Moving forward, each day I will assess the outdoors and plot my miles realistically on a day-to-day basis, based on my weekly goal. Running has to be the priority, that is, after the activities that are R’s priority. Can’t miss that Tuesday Kindermusik class, but the library can wait until a colder, snowier day! 🙂

Marathon #2 – Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the big day – my second Full Marathon, 26.2 miles! I feel very lucky, my training has gone very well and the weather is going to be pretty terrific, barring any strange plot twists. I have remained mostly injury free, aside from a few aches and pains here and there. It’s funny, now that I am so close with no real issues, my mind is making stuff up – is that knee thing really a “thing” and did I just feel that ankle thing again? Was that a twinge in my back??

I did a very consistent 18 week buildup, with 5 runs a week. My longest run was 20 miles, 15 of those miles being with a stroller (Doc said that those miles counted for 1.25 so by that calculation I got almost 24 done….)! I missed about a week on vacation which included my first 20 miler so for next time I could definitely do more Sunday “stupid long” runs. I think I found my sweet spot for non-marathon related training though, so I am excited to spend the winter doing moderate miles and adding some fun stuff in the mix.

Last marathon I was all about fuelling, but ain’t nobody got time for that with a kid! I think a banana at mile 19 and water at every station is my “plan” lol…I find if I eat a steak dinner with potatoes and healthy veggies the night before a long run I do well enough…maybe this time I’ll get to find this elusive “wall” at mile 20! 😛

I have heard tell it’s good to have a plan A (everything is working for you), B (something surprises you like a heat wave or rough morning), and C (just not on your game at all). 

Plan A – First 2 miles at 10 min pace, walk at water stations for 30 seconds. Finish the first loop at 9 mins pace, assess how I feel for second loop and continue at that pace or 8:55. This could put me in a place to finish under 4 hours, which would be the ultimate accomplishment!

Plan B – First 2 miles at an easy pace, aim for 9:15 pace at least. If I’m not feeling powerful at the halfway mark, continue with 9:15. At mile 22, increase speed each mile to finish strong (ish). This should get me under 4 hours 10 mins, which would still be incredible.

Plan C – First 2 miles easy, aim for 10 minute miles all the way. That would still bring me in at 4 hours 22 mins, or at least beat my first marathon time of 4:31. Still great.

I can’t wait to see what challenges will come up this race. The distance is to be respected so aside from my lack of fuelling strategy I think I am going in prepared enough to beat my last time. I know from the way I felt last time that a) I could have gone faster and left more out there and b) I never want to have to run for more than 4 1/2 hours again. My feet were killing me!

Coconut Almond Date Bars

I would love to know how to press date paste evenly onto crumbs…but this made a fantastic date BALL recipe! 😀 Ya win some, ya lose some, and then you eat it anyway.

Shiloh Farms

www.saywhatyouneedtosayblog.comLauren’s Weekly Recipe

In the last few years, food companies have been attempting to make many diet products marketable by recreating tempting treats into a low-fat or low-calorie option. Everything from 100-calorie pack cookies to fat free brownies are highly stocked on the super market shelves and many consumers are buying into the gimmick of “healthy desserts.”

To be honest, I’m not really sure what makes these processed confections “healthy.”  Sure, they may be lower fat in comparison to the real thing, but the ingredients are also being substituted with highly artificial sweeteners that don’t do any favors for one trying to keep their overall health in mind.

I believe in a balanced diet and yes that does include a sweet every now and then.  A great option to feed that sugary craving is to look at natural raw sweeteners.  Surprisingly, there are some foods such as bananas and dates…

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Grain-free Apple Cinnamon Muffins

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I made these in the bite-sized muffin pan, and they turned out so well I don’t have any left to eat while I finally have time to write this post. What can I say but, thank HEAVENS I am inspired to eat semi-healthy again. The flour and sugar really gets me down (and, it turns out, post-baby, I can really see physically how it affects me as well). These were the perfect way back on track. Might have to make another batch right now, actually. And eat them all. Willpower is another thing that seems to have disappeared with motherhood.

Don’t be shy with the cinnamon, it covers the coconut flavor nicely. Something about the coconut flour, when it hits the egg, makes it absorb moisture and the batter gets thick. Not to worry, just get your mixing done quick enough.

1 cup almond flour
3 Tbsp coconut flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1-2 Tbsp cinnamon
2 apples, cored and diced
3 eggs
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons honey

  1. Mix dry ingredients together. Add the apple chunks and stir to coat.
  2. Whisk the eggs with the coconut oil and honey. Mix into the dry ingredients.
  3. With a spatula, spoon batter into the pan and level each muffin off. The dough will rise a little while baking.
  4. Bake at 275F for 12-15 mins, depending on your oven.

Planting Seedlings With My Gardening Buddy

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A few seconds after these shots she got two fistfuls of mud…amazing how far a baby can reach while sitting!

We will be doing a lot of gardening together. My pregnant summer was a very…lazy?…year with regards to the garden. I miss it. I want to weed things, mulch things, trim things, and make it look pretty. I also want to enjoy being outside with my baby girl, watching things grow and sprout, and teach her to enjoy the taste of things fresh off the vine.

I have started my favorite seeds – Jalapenos! We’ll do those this year, along with Cayenne. Maybe we’ll make our own hot sauce! Red peppers and onions from seed also went into the pots this past weekend. New items on the menu: Spaghetti Squash, String Beans, and Radishes. I moved the Asparagus at the end of the summer so hopefully those roots all take. We are definitely going to do Snap Peas again, along with Beets, Carrots (I WILL get them to work like they did the first year), Pumpkins, maybe some Shallots, and good old Garlic. I’m going to do mixed lettuce greens in a big clay pot on the back deck though – the Romaine didn’t fare well again last year, and I think we’ll use it more if it’s accessible.

Now MELT you crazy snow! Can’t wait to get going on expanding the plot a couple feet towards the house!

Running with a Stroller: Part 1

We did 3 miles in the stroller!

2015-03-18 14.59.19My running buddy was out like a light as soon as we got out there – great news for me, since I know I can take her on longer runs now. Actually, it’s better if we run longer so I don’t interrupt her nap!

I knew my form would be disrupted – gals out there without strollers or children, enjoy your freedom!! I would be inclined to say this is going to toughen me up in the end. It’s challenging to keep your form AND keep the stroller from careening off road.

Weather is much more of a challenge with the stroller as well. Wind I consider “fun” (lol) but wind with a weather guard on a massive stroller is just a little bit of lovely torture. You’d think the wind at my back on the way home would make it easier, but controlling the beast was still challenging. My pace was almost 2 minutes slower than average but I felt like I was racing a 5k – all the while holding onto a shopping cart. Obviously it didn’t affect R, she slept through the whole thing, cozy as a kitten.

I recommend one hand on the bar. If you have to go with two, don’t squeeze! Keep your fingers loose and your palms touching softly so you can respond to the pavement’s irregularities. I unlocked my front wheel so that I could navigate the twists and turns better, maybe next time I’ll try with a lock. I am using a Graco Run Stroller, perhaps there’s something out there that handles better in the wind – something with a built in weather cover perhaps. Maybe a chariot is worth the investment when I have two kids to lug around…*fingers crossed*

Who has some tips or tricks for me for part 2???

Training Starts: Ottawa Half Marathon 2015

11 weeks to go!!

I think I’m going to like running less miles per run, but more days per week with this training schedule. Getting back into running almost everyday has reminded me how important form is, especially going from treadmill to road and back again. Last weekend I had a one-off IT band issue which thankfully resolved itself with a day off and much more concentration on not leaving my tailbone behind. Calves are feeling tight, shin splints are threatening to make an appearance – but I don’t feel like I’m over training, doing only a half hour on most days. I can keep those issues in check while I work around them and get stronger, so they disappear altogether.

This week my goal was to run outside more. The road is where my favorite runs are. On the ‘mill I turn on the TV and tune out – you kinda have to. Outside I can leave everything behind and just exist in the world, one foot in front of the other. Nothing like what the fresh air does for the soul. I was able to get both Saturday and Sunday runs outdoors. I came home from my long run to find both hubby and baby cozy in bed, napping. 🙂 ❤

Goal next week: RACE! I will be running my first race as a Mommy (with a child at the finish line, not in my belly). I have chosen the St Paddy’s 5k. From what I can tell my time will probably be around 30 minutes, especially considering my ultimate goal is to finish every race injury free. Since I won’t be setting any PRs I think I’ll break out all the green gear I have and really Irish it up!

Do’s (and a Couple Don’ts) for WINter Running

I love running outside in the winter. I think it might be my favorite time of the year to run, in fact. Funny, coming from a scrawny gal who is always cold and hated being outdoors growing up. When you run a few miles in the cold, you heat up from head to toe – and the endorphin rush mixed with rosy cheeks is a sweet reward for getting out there.

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By now, most runners have read all the top 10 “What To Do (or not) While Running in the Winter” articles out there. They all seem to say the same thing, albeit with reason. I’d like to add a few of my own personal tips, learned while busting out snowy 3-5 milers in -25C with winds occasionally gusting to 40mph.

DO:

Start every run with your mouth covered.

If you spend at least 10 minutes warming up outside with your mouth covered you won’t be exposing your fresh lungs to the cold dry air immediately. Use a tech fleece or synthetic face cover and let the humid air from your breath keep your lungs from drying out. I keep it on as long as I can, but it is refreshing every now and then to uncover your face (if the wind is at your back!).

Wear the right layers.

Layering is good but make sure you’re doing it right – NO COTTON! It traps and combines the cold plus damp sweat, and you will freeze your kahunas. Some natural wool on the base is best, followed by a tech fleece (or two for those really cold days), then an outer shell for wind and water resistance. Ventilation in the armpits is key for when you start to warm up too much. I put a skirt on over it all too, to keep my butt warm…that seems to be the only part of me that gets really cold on long runs for some reason…!

Shorten your stride and think “pancake feet”.

Ice can take you by surprise, under the snow or disguised as concrete. Keep your feet under you, take smaller steps. Take a page out of the ChiRunning book and use the image of pancake feet or “clown shoes” to help you to land with a more midfoot, relaxed strike. That way if you do come upon a patch of ice you’ll be more able to control your body’s reaction. It’s also a great way to think in general, especially if you have chronically tight calves.

Wear hydration under your coat.

If you’re heading out for more than 6 miles, take your hydration belt but try wearing it under your top layer – this keeps the liquid closer to body temperature, which, aside from it not turning into a slurpee, makes it much easier on the stomach.

DON’T:

Try to beat your PR.

There’s a reason the elites use this time of the year for base training. Focus on things other than speed. Use a heart rate monitor and challenge yourself make most of your runs under 65% of your max (and lose the turkey weight in the process. Yeah, I know, we all still have it too!). Or heck, enjoy a few runs without your watch! Take in the pretty snowflakes falling from the sky, or the sparkle of the snow in the moonlight. Listen to how quiet it is when you run in the snow, aside from the delicious crunch of it under your feet.

Worry about being cold.

Dress properly for the weather and you won’t have a problem! If you have done this, everything from your head to toe will stay comfortable (and if it isn’t just do a fartlek). I think my biggest fear was my feet would get cold in the snow but that fear was put to rest at the end of my first few winter runs. My feet actually got warmer throughout the run, no special socks needed, and all that worry was for nothing…so go out there and enjoy your hot bod in the cold air!

Have fun with it, and do an extra mile out there for me! I’m using a treadmill for all my runs these days…much easier to respond to a napping child when you’re not 3 miles away. 😛

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