Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Best of 2013

We've had a wonderful 2013. Here's to a Happy New Year to you all!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Goal Setting Success!

Back at the beginning of November I set myself Four Simple Goals to achieve by the end of the year. It was just what I needed to see my year out with a little bit of focus. I think having 'to do' lists is just me. And I thrive on them, on working through them, and seeing each item get checked off!

So I'm here to report absolute success. Much of it was achieved in the first week after I posted my list!

That week we had a week with no TV shows, so instead of switching on Netflix of an evening we had early nights and reading for an hour in bed. I've had the same 900 page monster novel on my nightstand since April and I finally made progress (though I only actually finished it yesterday morning!!) And it's not that I didn't like the book - I love Ken Follett and I loved the second in his Century Trilogy very much - but oh my - it's a beast! I hope to continue with a little more reading this coming year. Meli (with the help of Santa) gifted us a Kindle this Christmas so if for no other reason than the novelty factor I hope to read more - I have the latest Lee Child book and What I Talk about when I talk about Running all downloaded and ready to go!

Pinterest is still a great love time waster of mine! Although I don't spend quite as much time as I used to, in the couple of years I've been using it I've collected over 1600 pins - a third of those are recipes!! Whilst I've tried some of them and now use those regularly there are clearly hundreds more that haven't come to life in my kitchen. Again, in the first week after stating my simple goals I ear-marked three (this one, this one and this one) and made them happen. And 2 of them have become firm favourites and have already been made a couple of times since then! Check out my 'Favourite Pinned Recipes' board - these are those recipes I've found, and since made multiple times - I keep them in one place mostly for my sake so I can find them easily - but you should check them out too!

My third goal was to create a habit to take my supplements. And it's nearly there. As I write this I realise I haven't been perfect these last few days over Christmas - but I think that's because I'm not in a regular routine - so that's good, right? It means that the supplements are part of my regular routine!! I'd say it's more habit than not and I'm happy enough with that - progress not perfection!

I love making decorations for the house - each year I've normally managed to do a 'little something' in the way of Christmas decorations - this year was no exception, but I admit I was somewhat prompted by having to come up with a team building activity for our Christmas celebration! I had us all making Christmas decorations and in the process of testing out my plan and demo-ing it to my colleagues, hey presto - I had me some decorations! Simple but super effective. Not sure they'll pack up well, but they are so ridiculously simple I could make new ones each year! I was inspired by this pin (I cut my paper strips 1" wide and my 3 paper lengths were 12", 10" & 8.75" and I did a smaller version with 10", 8.5" & 6.75".)

And there you have it. Four Simple Goals - even I managed to see them through!

Do you enjoy setting goals? Do you do them at the beginning of the year? Every month or every season? I'm loving the idea of seasonal goals. Now here's to actually setting some to keep me motivated!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Seasons Greetings!

I'm still reeling from the shock of starting my Christmas Day with a workout! All good. Dog walk also done. Skyping with family in UK and France. Friends from the neighbourhood are here.  Now it's time for lots of over-eating.

Seasons Greetings to you and yours!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Foodie Penpals

It’s been a while since I last was a Foodie Penpal, so after a break I was super excited to jump back in! It’s changed a little since my last experience. Now you are matched just once – so you buy a package for each other. I actually prefer it this way. Although you only get to connect with one person you have more opportunity to get to know each other a little better.

I was paired with Courtney in Ontario and let’s talk about the package I received! OH MY!! Courtney has set the bar very high! She sent me the most amazing package!! It was pretty exciting the moment I picked it up from the local store – for starters it was heavy and huge! We were on our way out that evening so how I managed to contain myself and have it sat there all evening unopened I don’t know!!

It was worth the wait! Courtney has mastered the act of packaging – everything was so well wrapped up and there were 4 glass bottle in the package so it was a good test! – and my pup loved all the wrapping paper I was eagerly chucking all over the kitchen floor as I delved in!

Everything Courtney sent me was local to her area. First up were 2 bottles of beers – a Pugnacious Pale Ale and a Stout from Grand River Brewery. I’m not usually a stout drinker so I wasn’t sure of this but it was so smooth I surprised myself and really loved it (the Pale Ale was just a no-brainer hit – but this one was extra tasty and hoppy it was a good one!)

Then I had asparagus corn chips, and some Asparagus, black bean and white corn salsa – a perfect pair eh?! Next up was a bottle of local Hot Sauce and some asparagus pasta which I’ve yet to try – the Asparagus goodies were all from Barrie Asparagus which sounds like an awesome local farm shop. Then I smelt it before I saw it – Garlic Spread from the Garlic King. So far I’ve spread it on toast and fried up some veggies with it – oh so good – I love garlic!!

And finally the goodies!! Courtney sent beautiful chocolates and candy and some homemade granola bites. The granola bites were devoured on our snowshoe hike last weekend – the perfect snack to boost our energy and enjoy a sweet treat and the chocolates, well needless to say they didn’t last long at all!

Courtney ROCKED! I was thoroughly spoiled and the package was a hit with the whole family – I had to fight hubby for the beer, I graciously shared the granola bites and chocolates and Meli had a ball ripping up the copious wrapping paper!

Thank you Courtney!
The Lean Green Bean

Here’s a detailed explanation of the program:
  • On the 5th of the month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
  • The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
  • You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
  • Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian residents & European residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. 
For complete details head on over to The Lean Green Bean blog

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A weekend in Spokane

Last weekend Chris and I took a last minute trip to Eastern Washington before the passports run out and have to be sent away to be renewed! It was destination Spokane, and we were all set to get the Christmas shopping underway!

We actually visited Spokane with my parents just over a month ago and whilst we were there on that visit discovered the gem that is the Davenport Hotel. It's the most beautiful historic hotel that has been lovingly restored to it's former glory. We enjoyed happy hour drinks in the Peacock lounge and we got so comfy there we ended up staying all evening and enjoyed a wonderful dinner whilst watching the world go outside on a rainy evening!
The Peacock Lounge with the most amazing stained glass ceiling
Hall of Doges - Spokane's oldest ballroom
You can actually pick up a brochure from the front desk of the Davenport and do a little self guided walking tour of the hotel. You'll stop by most of the main function rooms of the hotel - the Hall of Doges,  the ballrooms and others. We stuck out heads in as many of the rooms as possible!! The main hotel lobby has glass panels in the ceiling which makes it so light and airy. There's a lobby bar and upstairs off the mezzanine are most of the ballrooms and function rooms - all around on the walls are photos of the hotel in days gone by - I love this kind of stuff - it's so fun to look at the old photos and amazingly the actual structure of the Davenport very little has changed - it's completely recognizable!
The Davenport Lobby

For our visit this time around Chris and I stayed right across the street at the Hotel Lusso - sister hotel to the Davenport. It's a charming, smaller boutique hotel housed in a couple of older buildings. We actually switched rooms during our stay (after we decided last minute to stay an extra night!) so we actually stayed in a Deluxe room and then The Firenze Suite (you always know when it's going to be good when it's got a name and not just a room number right?!)

The rooms were lovely and spacious, with charming classic furnishings and the Davenport signature peanut brittle on the pillow in the evening! The bathroom was stocked with L'Occitane products, the bed was way more comfy that ours here at home (I was tempted to bring the pillows home with me - they were no more expensive than what we've paid in the past and I slept like a baby with them!) and the staff were friendly and helpful. And the Post Street Ale House was right downstairs and connected to lobby via a passageway so we didn't even need to step outside to enjoy our choice of 26 draft beers!

I have to say the staying at Hotel Lusso absolutely MADE our weekend away. It wasn't so much a 'shopping trip' anymore, more a luxurious mini-vacation treat! We had some successful purchases when we were out and about during the day - I'd say more than half the Christmas list has been checked off, and come the evening we were found down in pub enjoying a huge range of draft beers and snacking on chicken fingers and bread pudding!! And the bonus was an extra hour in bed on Sunday morning in our gorgeous room!

I majorly impressed myself by getting up on Sunday morning and heading out for a run. (especially with that uber-comfy bed I was saying about!) All too often on trips I take my gear and don't use it. Yet when I do I love that getting out there for a run is a fabulous way to explore the city a little more! I had no idea where I was going but I knew I wanted to head out along the river! I made a couple of wrong turns and ended up dead-ending down at the river bank, yet 10 minutes later I was on the other side of the river running high up on the bluffs! I spied a couple of great looking coffee houses and bars - we'll have to save those for another time! I was just planning on a 5k to shake off the cobwebs, but at the 2.5mile point I remembered that I needed to squeeze in a 5 miler for Laura's 5 by the 5th! So I explored just that little bit further than planned! of course my pace was lousy with all the exploring, dead-ends and stopping for photos but it was great to be out on a very quiet Sunday morning. I got back just in time for the complimentary morning coffee cakes and herbal tea served in the lobby!

As we were leaving Spokane on Sunday lunchtime we made on final stop - Chipotle for lunch. We've heard so much about this fast-food restaurant, petty much all of it good - but we'd never made it to one. They seem dedicated to sourcing ethically & sustainably raised meats and wholesome fresh produce (and come 2014 a commitment to no-GMOs). It's a simple menu, but it was great! We both had soft tacos - I had barbacoa and Chris had Chicken, piled with fresh veggies and lots of delicious fresh salsa. Messy (Chris and I have always joked that tacos are definitely not first date food!), delicious and cheap! And kudos to Chipotle for making the effort towards offering healthy food - fast food doesn't have to be crap! (And I love this cute cartoon mini-film they have)

Travellers Tip: The local Spokane Costco had Davenport Hotel $100 giftcards for just $79.99 - saving 20% and could be used against our bill for room, food, parking etc. I'm wondering now if Costco often connects with the fancier local independant hotels in their area to do this kind of deal because our local Costco does the same deal for our local high-end resort too!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

My Four Simple Goals

I'm joining in with Elsie over at the A Beautiful Mess blog and setting myself 4 simple goals before 2014. I am buzzed and motivated by lists and the simple act of 'crossing off' as items are accomplished. I did my first yearly manifesto in 2011 (with enormous success) and again in 2012 (with slightly less success!). This year I didn't have one, and honestly as the year draws to a close I really don't feel like I've done as much, acheived as much and yet I've felt busier than ever, but I fear there's a lot of busy doing nothing in there. It's not the best feeling and I feel somewhat dissatisfied.

So this is the perfect way to redeem myself just a little and end this year on an Goal Accomplishment High! Here are my 4 simple goals;
  1. Make time to read
  2. Try 3 new recipes that I've previously pinned on Pinterest
  3. Create a habit to take my daily supplements
  4. Make something for the house
I love everything about this idea so I'm going to copy and paste Elsie's 'rules' for this little mini challenge if you wanted to join in too - head over to her original post to see all the deets.
Its purpose is to challenge and remind you to create healthy, life-enriching habits during the busiest time of the year. If you're game, here are the "rules":
  1. Choose simple goals that will make your life richer and happier on a daily basis. Choose things you may not otherwise get done but are not difficult to accomplish. 
  2. Do not choose result oriented goals. Choose activity oriented goals. For example, instead of "lose 10 pounds", choose something like "eat fresh fruits and vegetables every day". Get what I'm saying? Positive actions instead of just the end result!
  3. Choose personal goals you believe will truly make your life richer just by doing them! They can be daily, weekly or one time experiences.
  4. Choose a reward for each goal as it is accomplished! It can be a small or large reward—it's up to you. 
  5. Blog about your goals, each one as you achieve it and a big post when they are all finished before the new year! Be sure to leave us a link to your blog in the comments section. I'll be sure to share my experiences in a follow-up post before the new year.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hiking the Selkirk Mountains

Back last month we took a trip to Glacier National Park. Everyone's heard of it, right? But most people think of the one in Montana, USA. Well Canada has a Glacier National Park too! And it's right here in British Columbia!

It's about a 3 hour drive from us here so we packed up the car with a tonne of camping stuff, a dog and 2 people and headed off. We stopped briefly en route in Revelstoke to stock up on some last minute provisions and a bite to eat since we'd be arriving after dark and too late to start cooking. We set up camp for our 2 night adventure at the Illecillewaet campground just a couple of km's from Roger's Pass, right on the side of the Trans Canada Highway. You'd think that the traffic noise would be distracting and ruin the 'in the moment with nature' and you'd be right, except for the raging river noise that drowned any other noise out - Illecillewaet means 'Raging Waters' in First Nations-speak! This was no babbling brook that's for sure!

Our first night was a quick set-up of the tent, and a stroll around the campsite to explore and get our bearings, and to try and get the wriggles out of Meli, who was insanely excited with all the new smells and sticks, and even fancied her chances at a quick dip in the river - it would have been quick, before she'd have been whisked away by the crazy rapids! (we kept her on a tight leash!)

Saturday morning was a slow start. It was a pretty chilly morning for us initially, but as soon as the sun appeared over the surrounding mountain-tops it warmed up (and reached a nice, comfortable high of around 23-25 which was perfect hiking temps!). I love waking up in a new place that you arrived at in the dark - You're never really sure what it all looks like until you see it in the daytime! We took Meli for a walk arouond the campsite and headed along the campsite road a little so she could have a chance to run off-leash (that girl isn't exercised unless she's had some off-leash time!), we paid our camp dues, went to the visitor centre to pick up some trail maps and chatted to a ranger and generally took out time getting our stuff together for a nice long hike!

We finally set off on the Asulkan Valley trail around noon. It was billed as a 13.8km trail with around 2100 feet of elevation gain and would steepen after 4km....as were all the trails at this time of year it was a strict pets-on-leash area due to bears in the area. Our girl isn't the greatest on a leash so this was gonna be a looooong 13.8km!!

The trail started through some gorgeous old growth forest, following the river. Very green, mossy and easy underfoot. We crossed the river a couple of times on small bridges and caught glimpses of waterfalls high above us tumbling down the valley sides. As we climbed the forest thinned out and it got rockier. As promised the incline increased dramatically after about 4km. It was at this point I was rather glad of am energetic and exuberant puppy tethered to me - her constant pulling on leash that is normally a pain in the backside was welcome assistance, literally pulling me up! Good job Meli-mou!We weren't able to see where we were headed exactly and we encountered several false peaks and even thought we'd seen a hikers cabin which never materialized!! As our GPS read 7km there was still no trail-end in sight! What turned out to be the final 1km was along a knife-edge climbing incredibly steeply up towards the glacier and finally, finally we saw a 'End of Trail' sign and the Asulkan Hut.

It was a welcome relief and the the views were spectacular. It was mountains for miles, and glaciers above us, and even a glimpse of the thin ribbon of black-top as the Trans-Canada snaked its way through the pass way, way below us. There was a small, mountain stream and an open area where the water collected in shallow pools before tumbling down the mountain so Meli was able to have some crazy run-around time cooling off in the water whilst we ate our lunch.

The journey down was tougher - steep downhills on loose rock is never fun, and to prevent a serious spill we had to keep Meli off-lease for the first couple of km`s till it started leveling out - pulling downhill isn`t quite as appreciated as the uphill version was! Since it was getting later we lost the sun once we descended back down into the valley and the mountains crowded around us. It added an eerie gloom to the hike and we were keen to get back to camp and not see any hungry bears.

Back at camp we finally discovered what it takes to wipe out our baby girl - the Asulkan Valley hike! We pulled her bed out next to the campfire and she curled up and slept the evening away! We enjoyed our fire and a few bevvies and a late BBQ supper before heading to bed ourselves!

Our second day we took a nice, leisurely stroll along the abandoned rail-bed from the old Glacier Hotel. It was about an 8km out and back route and obviously nice and flat - it was perfect to loosen up those stiff limbs before crunching ourselves back up into the car for the journey home!

We were so lucky with the weather - we tried this trip 2 years ago and got washed out so this was the perfect weekend a long time coming! The hikes we picked were gorgeous and the views were to die for! The Illecillewaet campground is the trail head for quite a number of hikes in the park so it was a perfect base-camp!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Team Tough Chik & Ragnar SoCal!

I'm back for a second year!

I've loved being a member of this great online team of women, across the US and Internationally. In 2013 there were 240 of us, and most of our interaction was via a friendly, fun private Facebook group. I'm the sole BC representative this year so my opportunities to connect in person with fellow team members were slim, but yet I still managed to meet one lady - Hi Phyllis! at Fitbloggin` in Portland. I love the way it's reason to connect!

I'm especially excited for the 2014 year of membership since I'll be meeting at least 11 other team members and getting to know them intimately as we squish ourselves into a couple of minivans for 36 hours with little to no sleep over the course of 200 miles as we take on the Southern Californian Ragnar Relay!
Running a Ragnar has been on my bucket list for some time now. There are dozens of these ultra relays taking place across the country and I wasn't fussy about which one I'd want to do, so when Shannon reached out and asked if there'd be interest in putting in a Tough Chik team I was so on board!

Registration for Team Tough Chik is open until the end of the month and is welcome to anyone whether you`re an elite athlete or training for your first 5km! The team is about encouraging each other and get our there and fun! (and wear the super cute team gear!) I`ve selected the tank and the long sleeve top this year - I figure the LS will be necessary for my night-time run during Ragnar!! (Eeeekk - excited squeal!)
I`m linking up this week to Jill`s Fitness Friday!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Liebster Award

Sarah, a family friend emailed me last week, nominated me for the Liebster Award - it's a fun 'blogworld' thing where we can share some love and spread the word about newer blogs! I didn't even know Sarah had a blog - so there you go! Spreading the love - it's working already!! If you like books, you'll love Sarah's blog - 'My Other Book Club' - and thank you Sarah for nominating me :-)
First, a little background on this award and what I must do to formally accept it;

It is said that the Liebster award was created to recognize and/or discover new bloggers and welcome them to the blogosphere. In the digital world of the internet, this seems like a nice gesture!

  1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
  2. Display the award on your blog 
  3. Answer the questions provided to you by the person who nominated you.
  4. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award
  5. Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.
  6. List these rules in your post. 
  7. Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them.
So, now all the 'official stuff' is done with, here's the fun bit....Sarah set some AWESOME questions!
  1. If you could live in the setting of one novel, which one would you choose? - SUCH an awesome question!! A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson - because I'd love to do an epic hike like the Appalachian trail
  2. You must choose three things to take to a deserted island – what would you take? - My iPhone, a cell phone tower (because, duh!) and a generator (to recharge it!) Because, sad as it is to admit, My phone is pretty integral to so much of my life these days - it's my phone (obviously!), my camera, my photo albums, my GPS, my run-keeper, my blog reader, my e-book reader, my compass, my encyclopedia  my alarm clock, my cooking timer....you get the picture right?!
  3. What is your most prized possession? - my health
  4. If you could go back in time and relive one memory, what would it be? - The first year of our American Roadtrip (because whilst years 2-5 were blogged, the first year was pre-blog) And I loved how 'RV naive' we were back then
  5. What is your favourite song? - Purple Rain by Prince - always has, always will be. Back since my school days, it's the best track to crank up the volume! Happy or sad times, either works!
  6. Who is your best friend? What is he/she like? - My husband Chris, I guess he's pretty OK ;-) Can't boost his ego too much!
  7. Where was the last place you went on vacation? - My last 'BIG' vacation was China in Feb 2012, but since then we also went back to England for Christmas to visit family (and so I don't really consider that vacation!), plus several trips to the States - Idaho, Montana, Washington and Oregon so lots of mini vacations this past year.
  8. Who would you most want to sit down and have dinner with? - My Nanny - because I miss her
  9. Why did you start blogging? - Because we were travelling, and we had so many adventures we wanted to share with family and friends at home - I blogged about our 4.5 year Road Trip blog here
  10. When is your birthday? - March 3rd
I'd like to nominate;
  • Chris from InSpiral Coaching - because he's my husband and I think his blog is awesome!
  • Anna from Your Healthy Place - Lots of delicious recipes and great articles on emotional eating. I had the pleasure of meeting Anna and her Mom just last month and we're currently trying to persuade Anna that living in the Okanagan is the best!
  • Clarinda from Enjoying the Course - Clarinda hosted a fun Running challenge that I joined in earlier this year, and I enjoy seeing her lovely Vegas photos pop up on my Instagram feed all the time
  • Meghan from Little Girl in a Big World - I've followed Meghan's blog for a while. She's just signed up for her fist Ironman so I'm looking forward to following her journey! I want to like cycling and swimming as much as Meghan does - then I might actually do a triathlon!
  • Sharla from 262milejourney - A fellow Fitbloggin' attendee! Though I'm not sure we connected in person at the event, I've been following her blog and instagram feed ever since!
  • Sarah from theunbuyersguide - Sarah is a fellow biker-chick! We'll usually be found perched on the back of our man's motorbikes on long rides to Idaho! She's currently on a one year spending fast!
And you guys get to answer the following questions if you're game!
  1. Which country would you choose to live if you had to leave your current home country?
  2. What habit would you like to break?
  3. What's the most physically demanding activity you've ever done?
  4. Would you rather be in trouble with your Boss, your partner or your Mother?
  5. What's the best vacation you've ever taken?
  6. What was the last single-item purchase over $100 you made?
  7. What's your favourite comfort food?
  8. What intimidates you?
  9. What historical event would you most like to witness?
  10. If you had a 60-second dash, unlimited shopping spree (exempt from spending fast rules Sarah!), which store would you choose to be in?!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Race Recap: BMO Okanagan Half Marathon

Last Sunday was my final race of the year. In years past it's been my annual 'goal race', and it was the first Half Marathon I did 4 years ago. I think it will hold a special place in my racing calendar...it's my hometown race, it's got beautiful scenery, the finish line is right next to the lake shore, it's a fast and flat course, and on Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada the temperatures are usually perfect for running. I skipped the event last year, choosing instead to fly to Illinois to run the Chicago Marathon, so this year I was looking forward to getting back to Kelowna!

Since running the Kelowna Wine Country Half last month I haven't really been all that tuned-in to running. The mornings are darker now, and with a big office move, numerous projects and my family visiting from England I just didn't seem to carve out time in the day (which is why I always run in the early morning, before the excuses set in!) I managed 2 short runs this week - a 4 miler and a 3 miler and I felt slow, uncomfortable and heavy, really heavy..Ergh! I was not expecting great things for this race, so I just hoped I'd get a sub 2-hour once again, and finish the season in style!

This was the first time I've run the race in the dry. That could've been a bad sign for me, since I joke that all my PR's have been set in the rain, and until Sunday I hadn't run the Okanagan Half in the dry! It was however colder than usual, with temps around 4 or 5 degrees at 7am. Lines for the porta pottys were chronic and for the second time at this race I was still lining up when they played the national anthem in preparation for the start of the Half. With seconds to spare, my warm-up consisted of a quick sprint across the sports pitch to the start corrals and I luckily managed to duck in just ahead of the 2 hour pace bunny which was perfect.

The moment I ran through the start line and out of the park, onto the course I felt GREAT! The air was fresh, but invigorating and I felt so alive! And I just felt comfortable, from the moment I set off! (rare indeed - it usually takes me a couple of miles to settle down). And so was my race. What can I say, I loved every moment of it. I felt strong and fast and awesome! (and so very different to those little training runs earlier in the week!).

My Nike + app doesn't give me the pace I'm actually running, rather that at each mile I get the overall average pace. Of course that's easy on the first mile and I ran an 8:13. At the second mile the average increased to 8:15 (which afterwards I can see I ran an 8:18), then the third mile it dropped down to an average of 8:11 (which meant that I'd run quite a bit faster to have brought the average down over 3 miles and indeed after the fact I can see I ran a 7:58 which was my fastest mile of the race). After that 3rd mile I settled into an average of around 8:11-8:15 and felt comfortable and confident that this was going to be a good race for me!

Around the 10 mile mark I started feeling it. I slowed a little, but still maintained a strong form and mental attitude. I knew my previous PR was an average pace of 8:33 so I had a glimmer of hope that even as my pace started slowing I had quite a ways to go to slow that much - a PR was in sight! I briefly wondered if a sub 1:50 was possible, but didn't think too hard...

At the 11 mile marker I reasoned with myself that I could do anything for 18 minutes, so just kept on going. I could do this! As I turned into the finishers chute I could see the clock was 1:51:??, I found a shred of energy and sprinted the last 50 yards knowing the clock was most definitely under 1:52 and I'd just scored my second PR this year!

Chip time 1:51:10! Another 2 minutes off my PR from May this year! And I knew I'd pushed hard and deserved it!

It took a little longer than usual to find Chris. Only because he wasn't expecting me to finish quite so early! But he'd also just scored a fabulous result in the 10km - his best time in 15 years with a 44:27 and second place in his age group! Woot-woot - Go Chris!

So once again I'm left wondering what did I do to deserve this result - this new PR of mine? And honestly I'm not entirely sure. I admit I don't follow a training plan, I don't do speed work, I don't do many hill repeats. I do know that I've been having a conversation with myself about discomfort and burn - I think a lot of times in the past I haven't physically over-exerted myself. But this year I've got more comfortable with being uncomfortable. I ask myself 'what hurts'? and usually the honest answer is nothing. So I continue to push.

I also have to give serious consideration to my diet in the weeks leading up to a race. Both times this year I've joined in a Detox program the 7-10 days before the race and both times I've scored new PR's. The program doesn't have pills or potions or anything weird, just lots of whole, natural foods, mostly plant based, and for me I add a little organic meat for extra protein. My primary goal for doing a detox week is an opportunity to mentally reset and get 'back to basics' with good clean eating habits, but with 2 detoxes equalling 2 PR's I'd say that was a 100% success rate in also being athletically and mentally stronger. Coincidence?! (This is the detox I did, and there is a final program starting next week on 21 October. If the date doesn't work for you consider the 'lite' version - you'll still get the full handbook and a fantastic recipe guide with more than 80 recipes in it) - I truly am sold that this has worked for me, I'm not getting paid to promote this, but your Health Coach extraordinaire is my husband - he comes highly recommended ;-) Read about my Spring Detox experience here

I'm linking up today to Jill's Fitness Friday

Friday, September 27, 2013

The day I embarrassed Dolvett Quince!

On Wednesday I had the pleasure of 1/2 hour 'hanging' with Dolvett Quince - trainer extraordinaire and resident eye-candy from The Biggest Loser. Myself and 5 other lucky ladies won our spots in the G+ Hangout by finding 'golden cowbells' at the Fitbloggin' conference back in June. Our gracious hosts from DietsinReview hooked us all up with a call with the lovely Dolvett! But what do you ask a guy like that when all you want to do is sit and stare as he's smiling back at you!!

We talked about his new book The 3-1-2-1 Diet- specifically he talked about his concept of 'Cheat Days' - they aren't just about the mental attitude but there's actually a little science behind it. Dolvett doesn't believe in deprivation (yay for wine!) but does believe if we spike our metabolism eating a cheat meal we can 'confuse' our body, giving it 'food to fight' and we'll wind up 'burning from both sides' but with an overall message that we should 'Lean towards Clean'. It sounds sensible enough - after all these days in exercise it's all about muscle confusion - this sounds like the same kind of idea! (and we have the official green light from Dolvett to eat apple pie and drink wine - and this girl doesn't need to be told twice!)

Being busy women we were all keen to find out how to get the biggest bang for our buck when it comes to working out - Dolvett came up with some awesome ideas for short yet challenging workouts that will incorporate both cardio and strength! He repeatedly mentioned about switching up your workouts - to confuse your body and cross training all the way!

We all get the exercise blues - those days when you just can't be bothered - even Dolvett admits that he has those days....and his advice?! Change it up, call a friend and my personal favourite - get some new music!

And finally.....Dolvett gets embarrassed easily - I may even have made him blush!! He has quite some stories to share....I guess just not with us!!

Thanks so much to Brandi from Diets in Review for hosting us and especially to Dolvett for taking the time out of his day to chat with us! Check out the full chat right here;

And that smile.......#swoon!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Race Recap: Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon

A couple of weeks back was my 3rd Half Marathon this year. After training for 2 spring races this year I struggled a little keeping up momentum and motivation to continue training throughout this summer (in the past I've always just had one goal race, which has been in October). Added to which my big GOAL for the year was to get a sub-2 hour Half Marathon which I acheived and blew out the water on my first race of the year at the Run for Water Half. For now I'm not in a place to set a new goal and train for it, so I was left a little purpose-less!

Still, full marathon training last year has really put things in perspective for both my mind and body. My body is very graciously managing with my long training runs even if they have been a little sporadic over the summer months with no aches and pains and the ability to just carry on my day as normal, and given that a 'short run before work' last year was 13.1 miles, then mentally I'm reminded to shut the heck up and RUN! Seriously running a marathon puts everything in perspective, and makes me realise just how much stronger, and braver I am both mentally and physically.

But back to the race recap!

It was the inaugural Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon - the latest in the Destination Races series. These folks sure know how to pick a good race course! (I guess the clue is in their name!). it really is all about 'destination' with others races in their series in Oregon, Virginia and Napa/Sonoma.

The race started at 7am from the gorgeous Vibrant Vines winery in Eastern Kelowna, with the start line wedged between the rows of vines. There were around 1000 runners on a damp and grey morning, but the high spirits and cheerful race announcer kept the mood upbeat. We set off and meandered our way through the countryside, through vineyards, lavender fields, and past some seriously high-end houses which are always worth a good ogle at!, all the while enjoying the stunning views of Kelowna and Lake Okanagan in the distance. The course had an aggregate downgill grade, but in the early stages there were a few sneaky steep uphills too! Around the 9km point was a relay transition area (a 2 person relay was another draw to this race for many). Being a 'wine country marathon' this was of course located at a winery - and so despite it being before 8am I felt duty-bound to sample some of the Tantulus Vineyards Riesling on offer!

Since this was a point-to-point course, it was also around the transition area that we finished the last of the uphills and it was downhill coasting from here on out! Once we left the hills of East Kelowna we got onto the flat and for me it seemed more challenging than usual since I'd got comfortable with the last 2-3km of gravity assistance! We ran along a couple of km's of the Mission Greenway - which is a lovely gravel path following the creek and then as we met the lakeshore it was the final 'push' to the finish line (it was still 8km away, I'm just saying it was pretty much a straight line from here following the lakeshore!)

The race finished in the park next to the Delta Grand Hotel - also the host hotel for the event. We were presented the most ginormous medals and handed a commenorative wine glass which was soon to be used at the after-race party - wine tasting on the lawn! About 8 wineries were there with tasting booths and we just wandered the area samping the grape juice! And I've gotta say - our start line hosts Vibrant Vines poured me my favourite of the morning - the 2012 Oops White Blend! - we'll be heading over there again soon for another visit!

Overall I LOVED the race course, but I'm incredibly biased of my gorgeous hometown! The Wineries, Lavender field, Orchards, Creeks, Lakeshore - it was 13.1 miles of delightful scenery with some wine tasting thrown in for good measure!

I had a good strong start, and seem to be one of those fortunate to not struggle with downhill running so I did take advantage of the gravity! But later in the race I was just spent and I listened to my pace slow by the mile. In the end I finished in 1:56:44! I had a sneaking hope I might do well on this course, but the uphills caught me out, I hadn't trained to PR so really I can't be disappointed - and seriously it was only 5 months ago I would have been elated with that time - it's still a sub 2-hour so I am happy (and I did stop for wine!!)

As for my overall opinion on the race I do have a couple of bug-bears. As we crossed the finish line we were handed a bag of food - no picking or choosing what you want here. Firstly giving us a bag is an excellent idea - it's so awkward trying to hold onto food when your limbs haven't started functioning again properly, your starving, thirsty and there's a dozen things to pick up. However, this is my point. There wasn't a dozen things to pick up. The bag had an apple and a sample sized protein bar in it. That's IT! Are you kidding me?! First bug-bear - seriously lousy post-race nutrition. And given that we were all about to start wine tasting at 9am, probably on empty stomachs after 2-some hours of running I think it's bad form - no bagels, no bananas, no pretzels, no candy, no chocolate milk....

The expo was very small, and since it was a Saturday race was only open on the Friday. Obviously Destination Races are a commercial enterprise but the quantity and space dedicated to their merchandise was overwhelming - and $10 for a small event poster! The race t-shirt I also found a little disappointing. They did provide men's and women's sizes - so plus points there, but the sizes seemed pretty off. I've always been a women's small and yet this thing swamped me! Sadly it's one for the back of the cupboard - I don't think I'd wear it again. (and it's V-neck - and I've decided after getting my second v-neck race t-shirt they look like football jersies on me - not a look I'm fond of!).

But this is not to say I wouldn't do this race again. Did I mention how spectacular the course scenery is?! Check out this cool course video in case you're in any doubt! (hey I live there!!)

I'm linking up to Jill's Fitness Friday this week!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Green Monster Smoothie & ENERGYbits Spirulina

I've been a big fan of spirulina for a while. So when I was invited to try out ENERGYbits spirulina I was keen to give them a go!

ENERGYbits are 100% organically grown spirulina. That's it! ENERGYbits have got ahold of this awesome superfood, put it into little bite sized 'bits', done some great modern styling, added a little groovy metal tin to carry them around in, and made this 'hippy weirdo superfood' just a little bit more 'cool and mainstream'. I like it!

I love that Spirulina is a FOOD, and not a supplement. I've stayed away from supplements on the whole, always striving to find what I need from natural food sources. Spirulina algae is 64% protein - the highest concentration of protein in the world! It also has the highest concentration of antioxidants, the highest concentration of beta carotene and the second highest concentration of Omega 3 in the world and contains 40 vitamins and minerals. 

They recommend you take ENERGYbits in the morning or prior to a workout and some of the biggest health benefits are;

  • to get a steady stream of energy
  • improve mental alertness
  • remove fatigue
  • healthy (natural) high protein snack
  • helps curb your hunger
Even though I've been using Spirulina for a while now I still find the smell and taste pretty dodgy - it's very 'green' so I preferred to swallow the bits whole. But it's worth it knowing the 'goodness' you're ingesting - we take disgusting tasting medicines when we're sick so I don't mind taking something a little unpleasant tasting for health - it's my 'healthy medicine' and I'm good with that!

I personally love using Spirulina in my morning smoothies. Talk about GREEN Goodness as a kickstart to your day! This is my go-to recipe.

If you'd like to to try ENERGYbits for yourself then enter the code BLOG into the coupon box when checking out on their website and you'll get 10% off your order!

I received this product free of charge in exchange for writing a review on my blog. However all opinions are my own.

I'm linking up to Jill's Fitness Friday post.

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