Friday, August 31, 2012

Labour Day 10 mile virtual run

I joined in with Laura at 'Mommy Run Fast' for her Labour Day Virtual run this weekend. With lots of activities planned for our weekend I thought I'd get a head start and get my run in first thing this morning - the first day of the run weekend (you can log your miles anytime between now and Tuesday!).

Now I have to say I generally have 2 speeds when it comes to my running - stop and go! I have plenty of good intentions to try and incorporate speedwork in my training and I totally get all the benefits but when I'm out there plodding along I often let my runs just take their own course. If I have a fast one or a slow run then I think it's just the gods deciding for me. Today I really wanted to try and treat this as a race and I pushed it. I knew I was pushing myself and got out of my regular comfort zone. For the last 4 miles I was consistently improving my overall average pace! Very happy with myself. This was the second fastest paced run this year!

Thank you Laura for organizing such a great virtual run and thank you for giving me a reason to push myself. Go and check out her blog - there might be still time to sign up!

Today I was also trying out a bunch of new togs - a sports bra, vest and running shoes had all made one previous appearance but today some new shorts too. How irresponsible of me! Changing everything at once!! Ha ha! Actually it's not as bad as it sounds. I'm a creature of habit so the Moving Comfort Juno sports bra is my third, and my Lululemon Turbo shorts are my second pair. Clearly I love both items. The Brooks PureFlow shoes are my first foray into a more minimalist shoe. With a heel to toe drop of just 4mm (compared to my regular Brooks Ghosts with a 12mm drop) I'm loving them. I've been working on my form a little since my injury last winter - these really force the point of a mid or forefoot strike because there's no rise to the heel. My first 9 miler last week in them felt a little weird and gave me a small hot spot on my little toe. But today's run went like a dream. I felt so light-footed and springy in them! And I'm comfortably keeping up a forefoot strike all through the 10 miler (before I've been changing my gait to my old style heel strike to change things up and give my calves a break!)

New running gear

I'm linking this to Jill's Fitness Friday blog hop!

Foodie PenPals : August

Once again this month I took part in the Foodie PenPals exchange. Still love this idea, after giving it a break last month I was eager to join in again!
Charlotte was sending me my package of goodies which turned up mid-month (it's been tough holding off on the reveal till now!) It was a fabulous bundle of stuff - all of which has disappeared over the last two weeks - not a crumb remains!

I think she may have got the hint I liked chocolate and running!

Here's the contents of the package;
  • Clif Shot Bloks - love using chews towards the end of my long runs, when I've had enough of the syrup-y gels
  • Clif Shot Gel (chocolate of course!) - actually one of my favs already. Clif Gels are the gel of choice for the Chicago marathon so I've already been running with them in training.
  • Vega 'Endurance' bar - loving the Vega products. Not a huge fan of the taste of some of their powdered drinks but I'm using them anyway as I beleive it's making a difference in performance and energy levels. But their bars are a whole other thing - love the taste! Hadn't used an endurance one before now, but I do like their recovery protein bar.
  • Chocolate chunk cookies - One of Charlotte's favourites and I can see why. I love this sort of snack - reasonably healthy but full of 'good stuff', oh, and chocolate!
  • Hot Punajbi Snack mix - Once I wrangled them away from my husband they were great! And Charlotte didn't even know how much I love Indian food!
  • Snapea Crisps - these were such an awesome alternative to potato chips - and just as tasty. I was skeptical since I'm not a fan of kale chips which seem to be all the rage right now. But these were truly delicious!

Here’s a quick recap of what the Foodie PenPals program is:
  • At the beginning of each month, bloggers and blog readers receive their penpal pairing.
  • You have until the 15th of the month to send your package, and on the last day of the month you reveal the goodies you were sent :)
  • Packages are to be filled with foodie related items with a spending limit of $15. The box must also include something written.
  • As a penpal you are responsible for contacting your penpal regarding any dietary issues/concerns. (i.e. vegan, gluten-free, peanut free).
  • Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian, and UK residents. US residents are paired with US residents. Canadian residents are paired with Canadians. And UK residents are paired with UK residents. That way there’s no delay dealing with customs and everybody (hopefully) gets their package on time.
Want to join? Head on over to Lindsay’s blog and you’ll find more details and a sign up form for the Foodie Penpals program.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ironman Canada

Last Saturday we decided on a whim that we would get up very early Sunday and drive the hour and a half down to Penticton for the last Ironman Canada. I am so glad we did!

Just a quick recap of exactly what an Ironman entails;
2.4 mile swim - 112 mile cycle - and just a quick marathon (26.2 mile) to polish off their gruelling competition! These athletes are A-MA-ZING!
(L) The calm before the storm....the athletes packing out the beach waiting for the starting horn.
(R) Looking out over a serene Lake Okanagan

Huge areas of Penticton were shut to traffic so we parked up and walked down to the beach where the athletes would be starting their first event - the swim in the somewhat 'fresh' waters of Lake Okanagan. The pros set off with a 15 minute head start and the main event started at 7am after the National anthem. The water came alive! If you've never seen an open water swim - especially the start it is just crazy - like a school of piranhas is on a feeding frenzy! They swim so far out you loose sight of them and from a spectator point of view it gave us some downtime whilst we waited until they headed back to shore. They were expecting the pros somewhere around the 50 minute mark so we slowly wandered along Lakeshore Drive towards the transition area.
Aaahhhh! It's alive!! with 2800 swimmers!

At this point I must just mention our little princess. We took Meli with us. Beforehand I seriously questioned my sanity about this decision but I think it was a great move. She was perfect! Obviously there were lots of crowds and lots of noise, but as we're reminded we should be exposing our pup to as many different experiences as possible whilst she's young. She certainly was a star, and was in danger of drawing attention away from the REAL stars of the day - the 2800 athletes out there competing!! Everyone loved her, and she made so many friends. We had people come up to us asking to pet her and we met lots of other Vizsla owners from all over the continent - those who'd had to leave their dogs at home to travel to the event. It was great for us to be able to chat to other Vizsla owners too! She took it all in her stride. If they were excited (and many were!) she was excited, but on the whole she just sat down and accepted the petting! Such a good girl! She walked to heel really well and basically gave us huge confidence and hopefully an insight into what a great behaved dog she's going to be! (She also LOVES the car so any excuse for her to snooze out for a 1.5 hour drive each way and her day is complete!)
Is someone a little tired after the 5am start this morning?!
The pros started coming in just over 50 minutes, and the first of the age-groupers was not far behind (pretty amazing job since they started 15 mins behind!) It's incredible to me that these athletes were running through transition - but of course it's a race for them!! (I'd be like, oh where's the toilet?, slap on some sunscreen, eat a bit of breakfast, tie my hair up la-dee-dah - ok maybe I'll hop on my bike!!). We watched for the next 1.5 hours as the bikes came pouring out of transition and up main street. The swim course closes at 9.20am (2 hours, 20 minutes after the start) so we watched right through till the last atheletes were heading out on the course for their bike event. I think in many ways it was those athletes at the back of pack that inspired me the most - their determination and commitment to something that is obviously incredible tough for them. And a never-give-up attitude - loved it!
Cyclists setting off down main street, and at the transition area - starting the 112 mile ride

Being a spectator is so humbling. These people are truly incredible (and for sure a big bit crazy!!). As I ran my longest training run on Monday morning I reflected on what they do. My legs were horrible and heavy and I struggled to get in my distance - but when I stopped at 21 miles they'd have had another 5 miles to go, and that's after having done the swim and bike and quite likely been competing for 10-12 hours already!

Major respect!! And so happy to have seen the last Ironman Canada, as they announced just last week that the event held in Penticton will no longer be part of the Ironman series.

I'm linking up with Jill's Fitness Friday blog hop;
Fitness Friday

Saturday, August 25, 2012

What's in a name?

The question / prompt today over at Fitness Cheerleader's blogging challenge was the meaning behind your blog name.

So here goes...

Back in 2005 my husband and I took a mini retirement, and did what many North Americans dream of doing....bought a motor home and travelled the country. Originally it was planned to be a 1 year trip, at which point we'd go back home to England and resume normal life. But the year was never enough, and in time it became 4.5 years! Along the way I was encouraged to start my first blog recording our traveling adventures and photos. That blog was '
Helen & Chris Road Trip USA', which I started towards the end of our first year in 2005 (and yes, of course I wish I'd started right at the beginning in December 2004! - thankfully we both have journals and diaries for those missing months!)

During the course of our adventures we extended the trip into Canada and cruised into the delightful Okanagan Valley in Beautiful British Columbia. We fell in love with the place, and for the first time ideas of NOT going home started materializing. Fast forward 2 years and immigration papers were chugging through the system back in London, but we were done traveling. We didn't want to go home to England in fear of getting settled, so we hung out in Kelowna BC (still living in the RV) networked, and started looking for work to expedite the immigration process. At the time we were still on visitor visas and had to leave every 6 months. We spent a couple of winters back in the UK but in the summers we headed back to Kelowna, and during that second summer we found work and got those treasured work permits. Permanent residency came 10 months later. During that transition time when we'd stopped traveling but yet to build a 'permanent' new home I came to realise that the 'Road trip USA' blog title didn't seem all that appropriate any more!

(still love
this closing entry on my Road Trip blog - kind of sums it all up, and brings tears to my eyes now when I think just how far we've come since I wrote it!)

What Happened next...was literally that. What happened after the Road Trip....Road tripping was done, and we were embarking on a whole new adventure of emigrating and building a life in a new country.

The name stuck!

Now it's just a home for my random life. There's my running, scrapbooking, art & decor projects, vacations, recipes, family & my little Vizsla Meli and special events or activities we do. It's just me - whatever floats my boat!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Top 5 Running Must-Haves

I decided to join Fitness Cheerleader today for her blogging challenge for some of her great blogging prompts. Today is my top 5 running must-haves.

Top 5 Running Must-Haves

  1. My phone is a complete no-brainer. It's a phone, my music, my GPS (using the Nike+ GPS app), it tracks and maps my pace and run times and even gives me some motivational cheering! It also holds I.C.E contact numbers. Couldn't walk out the door without it. Seriously. I'm still happily using the standard iPhone earbuds with it.
  2. My Nathan handheld waterbottle. It's small, but even on long runs I've figured out routes with water available to keep it topped up. It's enough. And I can't stand anything around my waist so belts just don't work for me
  3. Cash - always just a small note of some sort - it's in the back pocket of my shorts/skirt along with,
  4. A couple of folded up tissues (not the whole box!!) Just in cases....!
  5. My running shoes - can't get far without some sort of shoe! These are the Brooks Ghost 4 which I'm not passionate about but they have done the job for several hundred miles. The Ghost 5's turn up next week.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Birds Eye view!

This weekend we welcomed my Mum and Dad into town on vacation. Just in time for my Dad's birthday! As a birthday treat (for him, and belated gifts for Chris and I!) we were treated to a floatplane tour. We headed off in our little Cessna 180 to tour the Okanagan from the air.

We took off in the middle of Lake Okanagan, just offshore of the Grand Hotel in the downtown Kelowna waterfront. There was a regatta taking place that day so we did a little dodging of sailboats to find ourselves a clear run for take-off! You can see the Grand Hotel right in the middle of the picture (the high rise buildings) and to the left of the photo is the edge of Knox mountain.

We headed south down over the lake, passing West Kelowna and Mount Boucherie, then Peachland, Summerland and Naramata. Naramata is probably one of the most well know wine areas in the region - a beautiful little bench above the southern end of Lake Okanagan - Naramata 'village' is on the point in the photo above and you can see all the vineyards covering the surrounding land.

We did a quick aireal pass over Penticton to gain some height before heading off over the mountains to the East. Penticton is nestled between Lake Okanagan to the north (on the right in the pic) and Skaha Lake to the south. There's a channel linking the lakes which is super popular to tube for a few hours in the summer! The gap in the hills in the middle of the photo is Green Mountain Road - infamous for great, great road biking!

As we headed back north to Kelowna we passed over the Myra Canyon provincial park. We love this place and have done a few hikes, bike rides and a trail run here!. The highlight of the park is the Myra Canyon trestles. The bridges linked the Kettle Valley Railway and were engineered by McCulloch. Back in the Okanagan Mountain fire of 2003 12 of 18 wooden trestles were destroyed by fire but over the last decade a restoration society has rebuilt them and the old rail bed is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

We cut across the main commercial area of Kelowna before our little detour up to the north. This looks over the main Highway 97 and the 'big box stores' area. Off in the top right you can see the bridge over the lake, linking Kelowna with the Southern Okanagan Valley.

And this was the reason for our little detour to the north - up to Lake Country and a quick flyover of the house (fourth from the right!)

I truly do appreciate this beautiful region and every day I'm thankful for living here! This is our 'local' Lake Country / Okanagan Centre lakeshore just a couple of minutes from our house. The big hill to the left is Spion Kop which is jam packed with hiking and dirt biking trails and which we access on foot (or bike!) right from our front door. Our favourite winery is Gray Monk and is the red roofed building near the right edge of the photo, halfway up the hill!

All too soon we were heading back into Kelowna and flying over the Tolko lumber mill (they float the logs in the water to eek out the sap before processing) before landing out on the water in front of the Grand Hotel.
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