Around the Bay Race Review

Around the Bay finally happened and it was pretty damn awesome! After what felt like an endless winter of training, the first race of my 2015 season has come and gone and I couldn’t be more happy with the results. Having never run the Around the Bay before, I set myself a goal of 3 hours for this race. To me, this seemed achievable within’ my fitness level, yet also challenging due to the hilly nature of the course. My game plan was 6:20 pace for the first 10K, 5:50 pace for the second 10K, and then hammer it home for the last 10K. Luckily, my running buddies Jay and Christa thought this was a good plan too so I had some good company to run with. Also, we look pretty damn badass in the photo below, don’t we. #DreamTeam

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Jay, Christa and I at the start of Around the Bay. Photo Credit: Thomas Sapiano

The first 10K flew by like nothing. We were laughing, chatting, and the kilometre markers just flew by. Even on the hills, we never lost our momentum and only stopped once to shed some layers around the 9K mark because it turned out to be much warmer than we thought it would be! Our pace for the first 10K was 6:17/km so we were right on track. We picked it up for the second 10K and I started to “feel it” around the 16K mark, but we stayed strong, and managed to average a 5:52/km pace for this portion.

Around the 21K mark of the course, we started to encounter some big rolling hills in Burlington. Jay made the smart decision for us to keep our pace a bit slower, and then try to pick it up once we were on flat ground again. I’m not going to lie, those hills took a lot out of my legs, but never once did we stop or slow down. We kept our effort strong and our legs turning and we finally hit some flat ground around the 26K mark. This was the point in the race when I should have been picking up the pace, but I really wasn’t looking at my watch and I was passing tons of people, so I felt like I was going faster than I was. I’m not going to lie, this part really hurt and even though I was instructed to not stop at any water stations, I did. Instead of kicking it up to a 5:30/km pace, I averaged 5:51/km for my final 10K and snuck in just under the 3-hour mark with a 2:59:43 final time. If you want to see my triumphant finish, check out the video below:

 

All in all, I am proud of my performance at Around the Bay and am itching to get out on May 3rd and run a full 42.2K at the Mississauga Marathon. I’ll probably execute a similar pacing strategy, but pick up the pace a bit, with the goal of finishing in 4 hours or less. When I think back to those last kilometres at Around the Bay, I could have dug deeper and I could have gone further into the “pain cave”, but that’s all part of learning what we’re capable of. If you had asked me if I could run a 3-hour 30K a year ago, my answer would most definitely have been no. But after a year of solid training with Coach Brock and some big work on my mental game, I am a different person that I was 365 days ago.

After two recovery days, it’s back to the grind today. Next up is the MEC 10K on April 12th and then the Mississauga Marathon on May 3rd. After that, it’s all triathlon baby and I can’t wait to see how a whole winter of swim/bike/run training translates out on the race course!

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Love my Tribe. Couldn’t do this without them. Photo Credit: Tribe Fitness

Trust The Process

I know I’m not the only one who’s currently suffering from a case of the “February Training Blahs.” This cold, snow, slush, and windchill is never-ending and although the Around the Bay 30K is only 32 days away (eek!), it feels like we’ve been training for this race forever! I don’t know what I’d do without my Tribe Fitness crew who have been helping me keep pace on weekend long runs.

Dealing with my ongoing groin/adductor injury has also put a damper on my training this winter, with a particularly tough recovery after my 26K run two weeks ago. I was sore with every movement for 3 days after and to be honest, I was at my wit’s end and quite ready to give up. If I’m going to keep it real, I have been ready to give up a few times this winter, wondering why the hell I am doing this and what’s the point? After many chats with my Coach, I was left with two choices: continue with traditional training or switch things up and take a chance on a minimalist  training program. I went with option #2.

I don’t know if it’s because my mindset has changed or because I am actually dealing with less pain, but this week I have had two big breakthroughs in my training and I couldn’t be more pleased. I did my fastest interval on the bike (2 minutes at 40km/h) and my fastest interval on the run (30 seconds at 3:55/km)…ever. I don’t usually post my pace times on my blog or social media, because I think it can lead to unnecessary comparing and competition. The only person you should be competing against is yourself.  It took me a long time to realize this, but I am so much more at peace with myself now that I accept this. In 2015, I want to beat my times from 2014, not anyone else’s. But I’m posting these times because I want to remember them and remember this breakthrough as a result of all the sweat I have shed this winter.

I have been recording my training in the “Believe” training journal for the past 3 months and the quote that appears at the top of this week’s training log is this: “It’s amazing how the same pace in practice can feel so much harder than on race day. Stay confident. Trust the process.” It’s by pro runner Sara Hall and it couldn’t ring more true. For the past year, I have put the work of developing a training plan in the hands of my Coach and thus far he has helped me achieve a PB in every distance I’ve raced. While it may be a bit scary to be going in a different direction with my training, Coach says if I believe in the training and put in the work, the results will come. This week I have experienced two big breakthroughs and I don’t think that’s any coincidence. Once I made the decision to believe and “trust the process”, my body followed my mind and everything clicked.

As I was doing my interval run today, I felt a sense of calm and a renewed sense of purpose come over me. For a long time I’ve been anxious about my progress, wondering if I was making gains or just going through the motions. But now I know.  I know that 2015 is going to be a breakthrough year and I trust that my Coach will get me to the start line healthy, happy and ready to race. I know that every early morning swim, bike ride, and run is going to pay off on race day. I know that my body and mind are getting stronger and that my fastest times are still to come. And most importantly, I know that I am going to enjoy this ride, I’m going to have fun, and I’m going to kick some serious ass!

(Photo Credit: Tribe Fitness.)

5 Goals For 2015

After a catch-up session with my Coach last weekend, I wanted to put down in writing 5 goals for this year. I’ve been having a bit of trouble finding motivation to train lately and struggling to find my “why.” Why am I doing this? Seeing these goals in writing and sharing them with my Coach has helped me to bring some purpose and direction to my training, and I know that I’ll be able to look back on these throughout the year whenever I need a little push. Here they are:

1) Stop thinking that I need to lose weight. I don’t need to lose weight. My goal for 2015 is to become stronger, and as I start to build more muscle, I’ll start to see a stronger, fitter, tighter body. And although I may not see lower numbers on the scale, I know that a fit body looks different and performs better.

2) Get faster in the run. I especially want to see my 10K (52) and half-marathon (1:58) times go down this year. My A-goal in the half is would be 1:50, with 1:55 as my B-goal. My A-goal in the 10K would be a sub-50 minute, with 50 minutes as my B-goal. This is going to require a return to the track and/or the treadmill at my local Goodlife Fitness while the weather outside is less than optimal!

3) Have a healthier relationship with food. I will continue to eat a whole-foods diet with minimal processed sugar and refined carbohydrates. When I first went gluten-free, I ate a lot of processed gluten free foods. Today, I skip the gluten-free bread in favour of sweet potatoes and rarely eat gluten-free “treats” unless it’s a special occasion. When the occasion does call for a treat, I am going to savour and enjoy it and not feel bad about myself for indulging.

4) Get mentally stronger. If there’s one thing I learned last year, it’s that pain is a part of performance and if you want to achieve great things, you better be prepared to suffer. Many times my anxiety has prevented me from being comfortable with pain, but this year I am going to learn to embrace it and feel confident recognizing when a pain is normal and when pain is a warning to stop.

5) Stop comparing myself to other people. I know that everyone struggles with this, especially in the age of social media where everyone is posting their achievements and PBs! But this year I want to focus on achieving my OWN goals and work towards beating those, and not someone else’s PB. No one’s journey has been the same as mine and unless you’re a world record holder, there is always going to be someone faster than you.

What goals have you set for yourself this year?

Healthy Eating Habits For 2015

Having a New Years resolution that doesn’t revolve around “losing weight” is relatively new for me. Every year, for as long as I can remember my dream on January 1st would be to shed 20, 30, 40 or even 50 pounds so I would be prettier, happier, healthier, etc. This last year, 2014, has been the first in my entire life when I was able to maintain a happy, healthy, and reasonable weight and I am excited that I get to have a different New Years resolution for 2015. Note to anyone who may have a resolution to lose weight: You CAN do it! It’s going to be tough and sometimes your cravings for chocolate and ice cream will be stronger than those for apples and almonds, but you will achieve whatever weight loss goal you set out for yourself. Take it from someone who has lost 80 pounds herself!

Now, just because weight loss isn’t my goal for 2015, that doesn’t mean that I have my relationship with food all figured out. I am a very fast eater, I am generous with my portions, I may be addicted to Larabars, and I eat nachos far too often than I should. Oh, and there was a time this summer that I was chugging cans of Root Beer after my long runs… Please don’t tell my Coach! Since being diagnosed with a wheat allergy, I have experienced a new level of anxiety around food and that has definitely contributed to some less than ideal habits. I have big athletic goals in 2015, including my first Olympic and Half-Ironman distance triathlons and I know that the way I fuel my body will directly contribute to the way I perform as an athlete.

Rather than labeling the following list as “resolutions”, I want to think of them more as “things I’d like to try” in 2015. If something doesn’t work, I’ll move on and try something else. But if conquering my sugar (chocolate) addiction helps me perform better on my swim/bike/runs, then I’ll consider that a habit I’d like to keep.

Practical Paleo1) Explore a Paleo Diet. Since going gluten-free, after being diagnosed with a wheat allergy, my diet has definitely shifted towards a more Paleo way of eating. A typical day for me includes eggs and sweet potatoes in the morning, salad with protein for lunch, and then meat with veggies for dinner. I still eat things like oatmeal, rice, quinoa and other wheat-free grains, but they play a much smaller role in my diet than before. I just ordered 2 copies of Diane Sanfillipo’s Practical Paleo, one for me and one for my Mom, and I can’t wait to dig into this book, learn some new recipes, and see how my body responds.

2) Eat Slower. If you’ve ever eaten a meal with me, you know I am usually the first one at the table who is finished. It doesn’t matter if I’m eating at home with my boyfriend, or out at brunch with a table of hungry runners, I can scarf down a plate of food at an alarming speed. As I mentioned before, being diagnosed with a food allergy has contributed to a heightened anxiety around eating, and sometimes I eat fast just to get it over with. Since my wheat allergy was such a fluke, I worry about new food allergies popping up randomly and getting another allergy attack that will send me to the hospital. I know that eating fast isn’t good for me, and it often leads to overeating as I go for seconds before my body knows I am full. This year I’d like to make a commitment to break this habit and enjoy my food at a more thoughtful pace.

babycakes nyc3) Break my Sugar Addiction. At any given time, you will find 2 or 3 chocolate bars in my purse. Seriously, I have a dark chocolate coconut, dark chocolate mint, and Cadbury milk chocolate mint bar in there right now. I love sweet things. One of my favourite treats is birthday cake and fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it), options for gluten free cake are plentiful. Just this Halloween, I ordered a Halloween Cake from Bunner’s Bakeshop. No one needs to eat cake on Halloween, no one. Put a bowl of gummy bears, or Skittles, or jelly beans (my fave!) in front of me and I will mindlessly eat them until my stomach hurts. It doesn’t take long to find an article, like this one in Macleans, warning us of the dangers of too much sugar and how too much is quite literally killing us. A few of my friends have taken the Fed Up 10-Day Sugar-Free Challenge and it is something I am committing to in January as well.

Changing habits is never easy, but I’m hoping by putting my intentions out there into the world, I will be more successful in making these changes! Everytime I want to reach for that extra piece of chocolate, I’ll think of this post and how I want to be able to report my success and not my failure at the end of January!

Are you planning to try anything new with your diet in 2015? Let me know in the comments and we can hold each other accountable.

I Am A Betty! Joining Team Betty Designs in 2015.

Betty Designs 1*PLEASE DO NOT EMAIL ME FOR A BETTY DESIGNS CODE. I DO NOT HAVE ONE TO GIVE YOU. If you haven’t heard of Betty Designs, you have now! I have been following this brand and drooling over their kick-ass designs for the past year, so when they opened up applications for their ambassador program, I was all over it! I spent hours on my application, reading it over and over, and having my journalist boyfriend edit it to make sure it was just right. When I sent it in, I wasn’t sure whether I would make the team or not as I knew there would be some tough competition! When I received an email last week with the subject line “Congratulations You’re A Betty for 2015!” I was so excited!

I cannot wait to rock this beautiful and badass running and triathlon gear in 2015 at all my races. I will also have an ambassador discount code, so if anyone is interested in buying some Betty gear, let me know. What I love most about Betty Designs is that it is SO different from everything else that’s out there. Their gear is bold and feminine, while celebrating endurance and toughness in sport. In the words of Betty Designs founder Kristin Mayer: “I launched Betty Designs in the fall of 2010 in order to bring something different to women’s triathlon and cycling clothing. I wanted to marry my love for fashion + surf culture into bold, edgy designs for the endurance athlete.”

In celebration of my acceptance to Team Betty 2015, I wanted to share a few excerpts from my application to show you what being a Betty means to me and in the hopes of inspiring other women runners and triathletes who are on a journey similar to mine.

I am a Betty because being a runner and a triathlete has helped me heal the body-shame and self-consciousness that I carried as a child and teen. It has truly made me believe that I AM BEAUTIFUL and that being an athlete is beautiful. For most of my life I have struggled with my weight. From being a chubby kid to a yo-yo dieting teenager, I was never at peace with my body. As I struggled with anxiety during my early 20s, my weight ballooned to 220 pounds and I became very unhealthy. The first steps I took as a runner were also my first steps towards health and I am proud to say that I now truly love my body. There’s no better feeling than knowing you can head out for a run in a sports bra and shorts and look damn good while you do it! I love Betty Designs because it is the perfect representation of strong and sexy, allowing women to look good while crushing their goals!

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I am a Betty because I believe that the empowerment of women through sports is one of the most impactful ways that we can influence young women today to grow into strong, confident women.  Today, I know that I can do anything I set my mind to because I am achieving goals, such as training for a marathon and completing a triathlon, that weren’t even on my radar 5 years ago. There is nothing more empowering than spending the mornings in the pool or on a long run with a group of women who are working towards ambitious goals. They inspire me to be accountable and step up my own training to be the very best I can be!  I always say that if I could have felt the confidence and self-love that I do now, 5 years ago, my life would have been completely different and I don’t believe I would have suffered with anxiety and depression as much as I did. I think as active women, it is our obligation to give back to other women and girls and show them that they can be powerful and strong and can do anything they set their minds to.

I am a Betty because I am committed to an active lifestyle and have many running and triathlon goals that I plan to achieve over the next 10, 20, 30 years and beyond and I want to inspire other women along the way! The online social media community has been an invaluable source of information and motivation to me over the past few years and I have had such an amazing time sharing my training journey through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and my blog. My online community are my training partners, even those I have never met in person, because we motivate each other, keep each other accountable, support each other through rough training patches, and most importantly, celebrate the achievement of our goals!

Please head over to the Betty Designs site and check out their awesome gear so you can swim, bike and run in style in 2015! And if you’d like a discount code, let me know!