Friday, May 31, 2013

This chik is Tough - PR tough!

So I'm still revelling in my new Half Marathon PR! Still blown away about HOW much quicker I was. But when I come down off my little floaty fluffy clouds I realise what a high bar I've set myself now!!! It's going to be a tough one to top!!

I have a few theories about how and why I was so much quicker. I literally ran at a pace I've never achieved before!

I wrote last week about the detox I did on the week leading up to the race. It was bad planning and bad timing really with the races coming up, but I detoxed for 7 days and finished 2 days beforehand. It wasn't a diet but it cut a lot of foods I am used to eating. Its not like I eat crap normally but the detox was fuelling me from food sources in quantities I'm not used to. Most of the detox diet could be sustainable long term and could go some way to fuelling an athlete healthily but I was concerned about it affecting my performance (ha - little did I know?!) I was concerned about lack of energy and for the first few days of detox I was definitely feeling it. Once I added meat back in it went much better. One of the results of the detox was a 4lb weight loss and it's this that I consider as a factor to my speediness. I mean I ran with 4lbs less weight than I trained with....

Another KEY factor was my new lucky running shirt!!! I was proud to be wearing my new Team Tough Chik gear! It's first race outing no less! And honestly, you saw the wasn't really the weather for it!! But come hell or high water (and there was plenty of the latter!) I was wearing my team shirt! And sporting a team tattoo to boot - which made me feel extra tough! And really, the proof is in the pudding on the clock! Can't argue with that! Tough Chiks clearly haul ass!

Lastly, maybe that rain is my lucky charm. I always shy away from it during training. I've been fortunate to avoid it - either it's not actually raining when I head out first thing or I re-schedule training runs to avoid it. But that's 3 Half's when it's rained and each gave me a PR (and the one that didn't, it wasn't raining)....And this was it was raining the hardest and it gave me the biggest improvement. This is fool-proof logic people!! Or maybe I just wanted to get the heck out of it!!

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

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Rain Dance at the Run for Water 1/2 Marathon!

So my quest for this year was to become a Half Fanatic (HF). At the end of last year I picked a couple of local races that were just 6 days apart (well, when I say local they're the same province, but still 4 and 7 hours drive away!!) thus meeting the criteria for the Neptune level of HF. Game on.

Somewhere around mid-March I was seriously questioning my sanity for signing up for Spring races. I mean, this is me, seasonal runner, who 'retires' for the winter. I didn't start my training this spring until March, logging a lousy 21 miles in March and 51 in April. I finally got back into the groove come May - but by then the first race was 4 weeks away. Thankfully running a marathon last fall changed something in me. My mental attitude was that a Half is way more 'do-able'. I'm not saying I could knock one out without training but, it certainly didn't seem quite so daunting and far! So with the slow start to training I had settled on just getting through these spring races (for Half Fanatics sake) with minimal training and aim bigger later in the year at my usual October goal race.

So I went into this weekend with NO expectations whatsoever. I'd commented on Facebook just last week about how nonchalant I was about the race. Whilst I was looking forward to a weekend away I wasn't psyched up for the race one little bit. Whilst I'd run a 12 miler a couple of weeks back, my training had been slow and meh' so I just planned on 'getting 'er done'!

Abbotsford, BC gave us an absolute downpour washout of a race in true lower-mainland style! Ah joys! Funnily given that I pretty much never train in the rain 3 out of my 4 Half Marathons have all started in the rain. However this was the first that continued to rain every.single.step.of.the.way.

You may have guessed by the name that the Run for Water has a big charity component to it - raising money for clean water in Africa. It gave the event a fabulous local, community feel to it. The 'expo' was better than many larger races I've been to with some good exhibits and free samples (sorry, but it IS all about the freebies!). The tech T-shirt came in women's sizes, and we had personalized bibs (because I like seeing my name in print!) - all for a $50 entry fee!

Come the morning of the race we had an 8am start time following a mostly out and back route, with much of the course run on small farm roads alongside the international border. I had noticed on the course elevation map we had around a gradual elevation loss of 180ft or so over the first 4km of the race, plus the matching 4km uphill on the way to the finish (ergh!), but other than that it was a flat course.

I set off front of the middle of the pack of around 600 runners, and after a few hundred metres realised my Nike+ hadn't started. In fact the whole iPhone had frozen up. Since it was strapped to my arm, under my jacket I wrangled one arm out of the jacket and continued to run trying to sort out my technology. After a shutdown and restart things were back on track. But from that moment on I couldn't trust the stats coming out of my Nike+. It was counting away, telling my I ran my first mile in 7:30! Somehow overall distance and time were both about right, but my average paces were a little off so I really didn't know how fast I was going.

I actually loved the downhill start. I often take a good couple of miles to find my rhythm without feeling like my lungs are about to explode so the gravity assisted start was kinda nice! By the time we flattened out I was well into my groove and smoking along! The first 7 miles whizzed along and I was even able to pick off a few people. I gave it all I had, well aware that I may run out of steam later, but a tactic which is proving to serve me well now and in the past is to 'enjoy it whilst it lasts'. I had the motivation to push it early on. I'd worry about slowing later but by then I had some good time 'banked'.

Even though I work in miles the course only had km markers (obviously, this is Canada eh!) - so that passed the time whilst I figured out what was what and just how it was comparing to the Nike+. I figured out along the way that it wasn't that off. And that I seemed to be doing rather well, like a PR and sub 2-hour was in my sights (previous PR was 2:00:17). Even though my average pace was slowing on each mile it was going to have to go really pear-shaped to not make it.

I kept pushing, even on the final 4km uphill. All I wanted at this point was that sub 2-hour. It was obviously a goal of mine for this year, but I just hadn't thought about it as a possibility for this race. That was gonna happen, but I really hadn't thought what else might be possible. And really, It didn't matter. As I headed towards the finish line and the clock came into focus I truly didn't care what figures I saw. I hadn't planned for this so really had not given this race any goals at all. The numbers had a 1 in front!!

Final Chip Time - 1:53:26! Just shy of SEVEN minutes off my previous PR. OMG!

To say I was ecstatic is an understatement. Even if I'd given the race some thought and A and B goals they would never have been this lofty!

The post-race event was awesome, just like the expo. It was outdoors, but they made the best of the miserable rain. Runners all got Mylar blankets with their medals and there was a super organized and efficient process to get us all fed - a brown paper bag with all our post-race food collected together to get us through and reunited with our families and the entertainment area. We had cookies, bagels, bananas, orange slices, boiled eggs and chocolate milk. The exhibitors in the post race expo were handing out coconut water and protein bars and Starbucks were serving up ice-teas & coffees. The place was buzzing post-race - as well as the Half Marathon there was also a Full, a 10km and a 5km so it was wonderful family event with around 5000 runners spread across all 4 events, there was face painting for kids, entertainment on stage, and lots of happy faces! Including mine. I haven't been able to wipe the smile ever since.

One-fifty-flipping-three!!! Yee-ha!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

My Detox week

I've spent this week on a 7 day Spring into Summer Detox plan. For those of you who didn't already know my husband is a Health & Nutrition Coach and is selling this plan, so I got to play guinea pig! Lucky me eh?! I am the biggest cynic with this kind of stuff. So many of this type of plans have lofty promises and bold statements about losing weight, eliminating cravings, shiny hair, better skin, blah, blah, blah (including this one!!).....I'm totally of the opinion that it's all a big bunch of baloney. Poppy-cock. BS.

So this week I've been eating a little humble pie.....

The Spring into Summer Detox plan is actually 15 days with 4 days prep and 4 days transition wedged either side of the actual 7 day detox week. The timing for this was LOUSY for me, since I have a Half marathon this weekend and another in 6 days time. But I'm a loyal sort of guinea pig so I jiggled things a bit and made it work - be it a little modified. Basically I skipped the pre-detox and with one days' notice plunged straight into my seven days full-on detox. I won't be doing a good honest transition phase either since I want to be eating/fuelling on my 'normal' diet for the race and the week between races.

The detox has seen me eliminate alcohol (OK that was an obvious one!), dairy, legumes, nuts, sugar, anything processed, grains, eggs......I think that's most of the key stuff. And at the start I really did wonder a bit what the heck I had left!!!

The first day was easy. The first half of the second day easy. Then it went downhill - and I was irritable and hungry*  It was the long weekend so I wanted to do long weekend-ish kind of things - like eat, drink and be merry! The only way I got through this was becoming a recluse for the weekend. When I headed back to work I had 3 days under my belt which at least gave me the confidence to get through a day at work where I  usually snack my way through the day (not necessarily on bad stuff, just plenty of stuff - fruits, nuts, a larabar, oats - and that's all the snacks - I have lunch on top of that lot!).

*I must say here that I am rarely EVER hungry  Not true hunger in my belly, rumbling tummy hunger. I eat out of habit and I think it's totally a mind-hunger. Especially at work. There I eat because it's 'time' - I look at the clock and when it hits 'whatever o'clock' I eat!

My energy levels were right down on Days 1-3. I did a 10 mile training run on Day 3, and I was miserable and slow. I found that I needed to introduce meat back in. The detox suggested going without, but if you felt you needed protein then to go for it. My evening meal on Day 3 it was back in! Just some au natural Alberta Moose - so fairly organic and grass-fed! - I just cooked up some ground meat with home made taco seasoning and sprinkled it over our (many) salads. So. Much. Better. After a lull on Days 2 and 3 my energy levels picked back up again on Day 4 and beyond. And from then on I really did feel back to normal on the energy levels even with a 5 mile training run and a couple of hour long cross training sessions during the rest of the week.

Anyway. My first BIG revelation was on Day 4 and mid-morning when I normally get 'hungry' for my mid morning snack which is normally oats or a Larabar. I just DIDN'T feel the urge or desire. My mind was more clear and focussed on my work and I never felt the need to eat anything. I think it gave me time to fully appreciate the breakfast I'd had, how enjoyable and satisfying it had been rather than me just scarffing it down out of habit and routine. In the end I neither ate, nor desired anything till lunchtime. Day 5 and 6 were the same. It truly was a fantastic feeling to not have this 'habit' of eating. And to feel full, grateful and appreciate what I did eat.

I was reminded that this wasn't a diet. I could in theory eat as much as I wanted but within the 'allowed' foods. But I did find that I wasn't that bothered in the end.

At the end of the week I can honestly say that I feel great! I'm definitely appreciating what I eat more. How it tastes and savouring it more. I'm blown away at how awesome it is that I wasn't feeling the urge to snack at work. I missed bits of all the 'avoid' foods - dairy (cheese and yoghurt , nuts (for snacking), legumes and grains. But I managed and because these were all on the avoid list these are mostly the things I would usually be snacking on - and that's always my biggest downfall!

My hair actually IS more shiny (maybe slightly more oily) and I DID loose some weight (4lbs, which for me is quite a bit - around 3% body weight, and more than 1% body fat) and I feel less bloated and full of energy (and did I mention I'm BUZZED that I haven't had a snack attack at work?!)

Darn that health coach husband of mine - I might just have to admit he WAS right!

(And so I might be bigging up my hubby here, but, I AM a believer in this. Me. The biggest cynic. Put it this way if I'd thought it was a waste of time I admit I wouldn't have written that - I just wouldn't have written anything right? No, this was worth my time writing this blog post because it was worth it. And just in case you'd like to try this there's another detox program starting on June 10th (ok, so that bit was a shameless plug!!)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Kona Kase for athletes!

I was excited to receive my first Kona Kase box this month and I wanted to share!

Kona Kase is a subscription service geared towards athletes delivering premium endurance nutrition samples right to your doorstep. Each month, this cute little red box arrives filled with nutritional products, inspirational quotes, training tips and stories behind the brands. You don't know ahead of time exactly what you're gonna get - but isn't that half the fun?!

This was the first time I've received a Kona Kase but looking at the past Kases they are always chock full of great brands - some well known ones, and others that you might never have heard of but might just become your new favourites!

Awesome packaging and super quick shipping - even here in Canada!!

This month we got the complete range of GU Pure Performance products - brew, gels, chomps and electrolyte tabs plus a Luna Bar, Pop Corners and an Oh Yeah! bar.

The Oh Yeah! bar and Pop Corners barely saw daylight as the box opened....empty wrappers graced the trash-can within seconds!! And I'm saving the GU stuff for the next 2 weekends when I'm running back-to-back Half Marathons in my quest to become a Half Fanatic - talk about perfect timing eh?!

I signed up just for a month-by-month subscription to start - it cost me $15 which includes free shipping, but once I'd seen the box I went straight back and signed up for a full year which then works out at around $12 a box. I think that is decent value for the products I got - and I'm happy to pay for the 'FUN' factor of receiving a goodie box each month!

I have absolutely no affiliation to Kona Kase (and bought this box myself) but I'm truly excited about this great service - fabulous branding, packaging, attention to detail (I LOVED the postcard 'inspirational quote' - just a nice touch!), and customer service. From what I can gather they're still a fairly new company - looks like there's only been 7 or 8 monthly kases so far. So I want to BIG THEM UP!!

Since I'm now a BIG fan and customer I have a code you can use so you can try them too, PLUS if you use this code you'll get your first box for $7.50!

Get your first Kona Kase for just $10.00!! (enter the code ReferKona095 if prompted)

Go check them out!

I'm linking this post to Jill's Fitness Friday!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Creamy BAT Pasta (Bacon, Avocado, Tomato)

  • 1 ripe Avocado, pitted & skinned
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped, and lightly browned in frying pan (I did this after frying my bacon so I used the leftover bacon fat to fry)
  • 3 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 2 Servings of pasta, cooked & drained (I used wholewheat fusilli)

  1. Fry the bacon until crispy, set aside on a sheet of kitchen towel to drain off excess oil
  2. Take the avocado, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt & pepper and blend in a food processor until creamy
  3. Once the pasta is cooked and drained add the avocado mix and tomatoes and mix well to coat. Sprinkle with the crispy bacon to serve – maybe add some fresh grated parmesan too!
This was surprisingly easy to whip up, apart from the headache of cleaning my food processor - but hey - first world problems!! It is super-tasty though - kind of creamy like an Alfredo but without all the rich, fatty, indulgent cream. And perfect for those slightly over-ripe avocados (because I for one get a bit picky on them if they're a little on the soft side!)

I'm linking up to Jill & Laura's Menu Planning Challenge today, after a bit of a break! Things go a little haywire when Chris goes away and I normally revert to freezer left-over meals or invitations from friends when I'm on my own - so planning goes out the window!

However it's good to be back on it. As much as anything for the cost savings involved in planning out the week - we're still trying to reduce our monthly expenditure on groceries without much success.The rest of my menu plan for this week looks like this; 

You'll see LOTS of salad back on our menu - that's because we're in harvest in our little garden. I planted a tonne of arugula, kale, mesclun mix, bistro mix and good old plain lettuce heads and they're growing like crazy! I'm very happy about this - I much prefer my greens raw and cold (Whereas Chris does generally prefer cooked greens) We normally enjoy them with a light oil & balsamic dressing with toasted seeds and nuts on top, and oftentimes accompanied by something on the BBQ (this week sausages and homemade moose burgers)

The BAT pasta recipe above got traded out for the lemon zucchini pasta I had planned on my list, only because I had the avocado going over-ripe and I forgot the zucchini!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Kangaroos for Mother's Day!

We finally paid a visit to a local 'tourist attraction' right here in Lake Country. I pass the Kangaroo Creek Farm on my runs 3 times a week, and for the last 2 years have been 'meaning to go'. You know how it is?! So this Sunday, on Mothers day no less, we stopped by.

Kangaroo Creek Farm has been breeding kangaroos and wallabys for the last 20 years and is a delightful small operation nestled down off Main street, Lake Country right alongside the creek. There are 2 or 3 small buildings for the animals and a large fenced in pen where the roo's run/jump/bounce around freely. They are mostly pretty tame and familiar with humans, and are used to be handled. There were 2 babies that people were carefully passing around (under the discreet watchful eye of the operators) along with an emu, some pot-belled pigs, baby goats, chickens, a sugar-glider and capybara (the world's largest rodent - and surprisingly cute!) All were just wandering around happy to be petted and fed and photographed.

(L) Chris with the sugar-glider which was desperately trying to get up someone/anyone's sleeves!
(R) The mini goats and the emu - well fed by the time we were done!

I'm sure there's people out there that would complain about the conditions, and the humanization of these animals - but really, they looked happy, well fed, well kept and it's just lovely for us to get a little bit 'up close and personal'. And oh man, how soft was the hair on the kangaroos?! Adorable and extremely cuddly! I'd take one home tomorrow - I'm sure Meli would get along just fine with her! ;-)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Birthday celebrations!

My little baby turned one year old last weekend. It's hard to believe! This time last year we'd only just decided we wanted a dog! Since she came from so far away we never got to meet her in person until she landed on the tarmac at Kelowna Airport looking incredibly small! And in some ways I think that the day she came home with us is the day that we should celebrate. (So I guess we'll be celebrating again on 4th July ;-)

But who am I to argue with birthday traditions! Off I popped to the local doggie supply & bakery store* and found a cute pink doggie birthday cake and a lovely big juicy bone! She's not normally the sweet-taste type so I wasn't sure how popular the cake would be when pitched against the bone. But food is food I guess and she gobbled it up, making a fine mess of crumbs all over the floor in the process (actually the crumbs not so much the problem - it's the drool and saliva mess she leaves on the hardwood when licking up the crumbs!!) - Ahhhhh - the joys of puppy-parenthood! And of course the bone one week later is still going strong!

It may not have been the most exciting day for her. Mummy and Daddy weren't feeling on top form after the celebrations for Daddy's 50th Birthday the night before so we had lots of snuggle time on the sofa instead. And normally (and unusually for a Vizsla) she's not the greatest fan of sofa snuggling, but she was allowed on the human sofa with the special 'human blanket' aka the most giant coziest fleece throw in the history of the world that we try to keep dog hair free. But since it was her birthday we made exception to the rule and had a grand day cuddling and snuggling and just hanging out on a lazy Saturday.

She's so gorgeous! Happy Birthday Meli-mou!

*(When I was buying the cake at the pet store the woman there was asking if we were having a birthday party and inviting other doggies over for play time .......err....seriously do people DO that?! How to make a doggie-mummy feel bad or what....?!
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