Fall Into Fitness Exchange

Fall into FitGear Exchange-3I was recently invited to participate in a fall fitness exchange with Canadians.   As a Canadian Sweat Pink Ambassador I thought this was a great way to connect with other Canadian Bloggers. Also, I love the idea of connecting with new people and if they love running/fitness as well, bonus!  Besides, who doesn’t like giving and receiving gifts. 😉

A fellow Sweat Pink Sister from Ottawa, Brittany, came up with the exchange idea. Brittany and I recently met as we were making plans to launch an Ontario Sweat Pink Chapter.    You can follow Brittany over at My Momma Journey.

There were some general rules to the exchange.  Share a favourite fitness dvd or book that you love (even if it is gently used), favourite recipe or two, a motivational note and an item of our choice.

Our names were exchanged and we were paired up with our exchange buddies.  I ended up getting Rebecca, who crazy enough also lives in my neighbourhood, like what are the chances of that!!  I was able to do up a gift bag and drop it off at her door!!  What’s also cool, is Rebecca and I are both Team Awesome Members for the Ottawa Race Weekend 2016! If you would like to see what I sent her, check out her blog:  Running.Food.Baby 

My other exchange buddy, who had my name,  lives in Calgary.  Tina and I first met online through Bondiband, as we are both Ambassadors! She connected with me, asked some questions and came up with some pretty meaningful gifts.

Now before I unveil them, I’d like to share a few things.  First, I love hearts, always have.   After being diagnosed with a heart condition that seemed inevitable that one day I would require surgery, I was determined to not let a diagnosis define me.  Nor did I want to go on long-term medication if I could avoid it.  I was not being stupid, nor do I recommend for you to ignore your doctors advice, however, my doctor and I came up with a plan.  I continue to show improvements (which is a small miracle in itself) therefore I remain off medication.

The symbol of the heart is one of hope, strength and of course love.
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I got this tattoo as a symbol of the intense love I have for my family. My husband and I (the larger hearts) are intertwined, the three smaller hearts represent my three children and the small pink heart inside my heart is in memory of my mom.  The heart also represents the hope and strength I have to live and be healthy.

Now for the butterfly.  A few years ago there was a series of events that took place that in of themselves, each one would have been heartbreaking, combine them over a fairly short period and it was almost too much for me to work through.  During this time the butterfly became a symbol of hope.  As I was working through life, the idea that “sometimes the struggle is part of the plan” came to me.  Like the caterpillar there is a time in the cocoon (we won’t go into the gruesome details), and in the perfect moment the butterfly emerges.  A complete transformation has taken place.  It’s like pain with a purpose or a struggle with a plan.  There was a purpose for the caterpillar to enter the cocoon.  Just like I believed there was or could be a greater purpose for what I was going through (as well as my whole family).

So yes, another tattoo 😉 PicMonkey Collage

Of course I did not share this with my buddy, I mean gosh we just met. 🙂  I did however share things like favourite colour, number, workouts and that I do like the butterfly symbol.

Here is what she put together for me:

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Amazing gloves, cute bird paperclips, really cool race bib clips (wore them for my marathon last weekend – amazing!!), a bondiband headband (hearts and butterflies), a buff (more hearts) and a beautiful card…oh and inside the card was this (a magnet – now on my fridge)FullSizeRender (2)

The past two years or so this has been a thought of mine, and yes, I’ve said it out loud.  Live Out Loud!  Be, Do and Say who you are.  Live authentically with intention.  Be free to be who you were created to be, unapologetically.

It was a true blessing to open this gift with all the reminders of what is important to me and also to continue to “live out loud” proudly!

Thank you so much Tina!

Have you ever participated in an exchange similar to this?

Check out the others who participated in this exchange.


Favourite Running Clothes and #STWM Marathon

Getting ready to run my third Toronto Waterfront Marathon was very different than the two previous years.  Perhaps it’s because I still had the Ottawa Mec Race to come, and that is the race that I’m nervous excited about.  It also may have had to do with the fact that I trained differently this time around.  September was a busy month for me and I was travelling and racing more.  I managed to get three 32km training runs in but they were a tad earlier than I would have liked.  I had also started training in Gatineau Park for my long runs, running on rolling hills for 22+ km’s.

After returning from Halifax, mid-September, I kind of lost my drive to run.  I was getting in the minimum but it was a struggle getting out the door some days.

The week leading up to the race I wasn’t feeling very confident in my training, I knew I would complete it but wasn’t satisfied with the last 6 weeks.  I also knew that if I reviewed my training I would be surprised and reassured that I didn’t do all that bad.  However, at this point it would be what would be and I needed to get my head in the game.  So, I refocused, did a head check and made the decision to do my best, regardless of how I felt.

I enjoyed girl time with a friend as we drove up to Toronto the night before the race.  We started discussing racing options for next fall.  Neither of us were convinced we would return to Toronto again the following year.  It’s an amazing race and if it was my home city I’d do it every year but there are so many races/cities that we want to experience.  We settled on a tentative game plan. 🙂

We hit the expo immediately when we arrived and I was able to pick up some Run Happy arm warmers!  (I actually got a different pair as well because they are so soft and I love sleeves!)

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I wanted to have them as a friend of mine, Jean-Paul Bedard, was running the marathon 3x to raise awareness and support for sexual abuse.

photo credit: Edison Yao

photo credit: Edison Yao

He is sponsored by Brooks and had shared a post wearing the sleeves.  I figured it was a fun way to run happy and think of him during my race.  I would highly recommend that you follow Jean-Paul as he will continue to be an outstanding influencer.

You can read about his adventure running 126.2km’s on his recap of the race.

Okay, so the start line.  After going back and forth as to whether we should wear shorts or pants, we settled on pants.  It was a very cold start to the morning but it looked like it might get up to 5°C. 😉

I had been approached by MEC to do an honest review of their brand of clothing.  I had been given a few items to test out during my training runs.  I seriously loved every piece and have since only purchased MEC running clothes as I am that impressed with them.

I wore the MEC Agility Tights. Here’s what I loved about them.  The tights do not skimp on length and I suspect even if you are taller (which I am not) you would be pleased with the length.  They are incredibly comfortable, providing complete freedom of movement without feeling restricted anywhere.  The flexibility, breathability and moisture wicking features allowed me to almost forget I was wearing them.  They have a mesh backing behind the knees that allow for venting.  This feature was helpful in my decision to wear them instead of shorts.  There is a rear zippered pocket and a front smaller pocket that provided extra storage for gels, etc.  On top of this, they are a fantastic price. I purchased the Agility Capris after trying out the tights and I highly recommend them.

MEC tights/t-shirt

I also wore the MEC Vitality Short-Sleeved Tee.  This shirt is fantastic!  I was given the tank to try in the summer and it became my favourite tank to run in.  After testing the tank out I purchased a few more, including the t-shirt.  I love the length of the shirt.  Often I find I’m having to pull down t-shirts when I run and I do not at all with this one.  The shirt is highly breathable and light-weight.  It is made with flat seams to help prevent chaffing, and the colours are fun!  It also features some reflective elements to help you be seen when running in the dark.

Alright, back to the race.  My girlfriend and I started out together but got separated when I ran into Jean-Paul around 10-12km’s in.  I walked and listened to how he was doing at that point.  He would have been approaching 96km’s or so (having already ran 2 loops of the marathon route).  I could tell he was exhausted, you could see it in his eyes. After a quick hug I was back running.  In hindsight, I kinda wish I had stayed with him for the duration.

I felt pretty good until about 25km’s where my right arch was giving me some pain.  By 27km’s my right outside knee and right hip were also giving me grief.  I continued to run with the right side of my leg causing pain for the remainder of the race.  I’m not sure what was going on as I had not had any pain going into the marathon.  At around 26km’s I made myself sit down and loosen my laces as I felt like they were tight and cutting off circulation. Either that or my feet were swelling and they became too tight? Not really sure.  It seemed to help, but by the time I adjusted the laces, I think the damage was done.  Around 32Km’s, I began having a serious discussing with myself about NOT running the MEC Marathon but instead running the half.  I told myself, to remember this moment and be smart moving forward.  I wanted to start 2016 healthy and ready for a great winter/spring training season.

The spectators were great!  I enjoyed the cheer stations along the route.  They helped keep me going when I felt like I wanted to just walk.  I felt like I was pushing myself to keep a decent pace, like I couldn’t possibly be holding the pace I needed.  Then I’d look at my watch and be like, okay I’m doing good, this is okay.  My legs felt tired early on but somehow I just kept running.  I know we all earn the reward of every race, but I felt like I had to dig deep for this one.  It felt physically harder, both in the pain I was feeling but also in the effort I had to put out (or felt like).  Of course this plays with your head and you end up battling through your thoughts!! I did terrible again at tangents and ended up running 44.2 km’s.  In the end, I’m happy with my results.  Another successful marathon in the books.

We did it!

We did it!

We drove home after a quick shower.  A little stiff on the ride home and the next day but by Tuesday I was feeling great again.  Of course by Monday I was already debating whether I should just go for it and run the marathon 🙂  I was out for a little jog on Tuesday and felt good, more reason to run, yes?  I decided to leave it up to my coach.  He agreed and we decided to stick with the half.  I was able to get out for a trail run on Saturday.

Next up is the Ottawa MEC Race and the week after the Cookie Run with an awesome fun medal!

Do you have a race coming up?  What about a favourite fall clothing pieces you love?

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Run, Race and Run Some More

Training, Racing and Tapering

I’m someone who thrives on a schedule, knowing what is coming up and working backwards helps me to have focus.  This year has been a completely different experience for me.  I still have a schedule, but I have added races to my schedule more on a whim than part of a bigger plan.  I don’t know if that’s particularly good or bad thing, but I’ve been having a lot of fun!  However, I’ve been less focused on what I want to accomplish with my running.

I still have a number of races coming up and am looking forward to them all, however, putting some focus back in 2016 will be good for me.

IMG_1595This past weekend I participated in the first ever Girls Run Ottawa, hosted by Run Ottawa.  It was amazing to chat with other runners who were running their very first race.  There were a lot of teen girls running and many women of all shapes, sizes, and ages.  There was a sense of celebration.  Some women were walking it and when the last walkers came in many stuck around to cheer them on.  The course started out at the Terry Fox Facility and ran along Mooney’s Bay, to return to the facility for a second loop.  If you are in Ottawa and a woman you should have this on your list for next year!

Up Next

This Sunday I’ll be running the CIBC Run for the Cure in memory of my mother and in honour of my sister-in-law who has just completed her treatments. This was the very first race I ever participated in (2008), I’m looking forward to sharing this day with so many people who have their own stories and reasons for choosing to participate in this event.  If you would like to donate to the cause please visit my fundraising page.

The Toronto Marathon is also coming up (Oct. 18th) but I’ve been training more for the MEC Race two weeks after Toronto.  This will be my third year running the Toronto Marathon and I’m hoping for a PB.  However, this is my first year running the MEC Race and anything new or unfamiliar makes me want to get ahead of it somehow.  Last week I went out and ran up Gatineau Parkway – 8.5km and then turned around for a total of 16.5km road.  I veered off the parkway and hopped on the trails for another 6.5kms before returning to my car.

Trails have been an important part of my training this past summer and has enabled me to be injury free finally!  I’m trying to still get a few kms of trails in every week.

This week I went the other direction on the Gatineau Parkway and got confused 4kms in 🙂  Usually I’m a planner, as I’ve mentioned, but this year I’ve been so much less “rigid” and more just flowing with it.   This is an example of that.  I should have looked at a map before heading out but just assumed that the parkway would be a loop and I’d just follow it until I returned to my car.  Well, that appears to not be the case!  I mistakenly ran up Dunlop (1km climb) to Camp Fortune.  Then ran back down as it was a dead end.  I ran into some cyclists and asked for some clarity.

I was wearing my I2P patch and one of the guys saw it and said, “I see you are connected with I2P, you must be doing crazy a$$ sh*t”!  Ha, I responded with “well, I’m learning to do crazy a$$ sh*t!” IMG_1615

My coach reminds me often the achievements that I accomplish in my running/training.  I don’t always recognize it, I’m just doing my thing and getting the training done.  Maybe it’s because I am surrounded by so many amazing runners that I look up to.  I appreciate when he tells me though, it’s a good reminder. 😉

After getting some directions I ran up Fortune Parkway and headed towards the Champlain Lookout (this would add on extra kms).  As I was still unfamiliar with the route and had limited time, I returned the way I came from for an out and back.  Besides, after running up Fortune I felt it was my reward to run back down!  I now know what the route should be, so likely next week I’ll head back for an easy go at it.  Total kms was 22km on a very hilly route.  Worth mentioning, 2kms into my run, 3 small black bears ran across the road in front of me (off in the distance but I saw them)!

Time to Taper

Just over two weeks to go before the marathon.  I’ll start to taper now but likely will do one more decent run in Gatineau in preparation for the MEC Race over what I need for Toronto.  Then I’ll take some time to go stir crazy, ummm I mean time for the body to recovery and get prepared for the race.

Fall is by far my favourite running season and one of those reasons is when the leaves start to change.  The next few weeks will be such a colourful reward while running.  Just a little motivation to go up to Gatineau.fall

What are you training for?  How is your training going?  Do you have a favourite season?

 

What Every Eye and Heart Wants

My absolute two favourite running accessories

Living in Ottawa, Canada means that I am blessed with four seasons.  My favourite season, for many reasons, is fall.  Running year round means having a collection of gear, accessories, seasonal clothing and a multitude of tried and true tips/tricks that I’ve learned over the years.

I love the running community!  It is a place where everyone runs for different reasons, has their own motivation and goals.  Some are just starting out, others have been running their whole lives.  It is a community where we share experiences, knowledge and simply the joy or love for running.  I know a number of recreational runners. However, most of the runners I hang out with have a schedule, are training towards a specific goal/race and have acquired a lot of stuff! Let’s face it, there is a ton of amazing running gadgets, gear, equipment, clothing, etc. that just makes running better!

Sunglasses

I run outside all year round, this means I’m exposed to all kinds of weather conditions.  I have a hard time finding sunglasses that fit properly (What can I say, I have unique facial features 😉 ).  I came across Sundog Eyewear Sunglasses at a race expo and immediately fell in love with the fit.  I found them late fall and wore them throughout the winter!

helps keep wind and snow out of my eyes (vented so they do not fog up)

helps keep wind and snow out of my eyes (vented so they do not fog up)

My past sunglasses have fogged up during some cold winter conditions, but the Sundog sunglasses were vented just right and did not fog up.

I purchased two more pair at the next expo and haven’t worn a different brand since.  I now have several pairs, in a variety of styles and colours.  Every pair is awesome and allows me to match with headbands, etc. when I feel like it. (seriously I’m not usually a girly girl or do I care to be all matchy matchy but with running if I can, why not)!

IMG_5445 IMG_5411 IMG_5380 IMG_5643There are a host of other reasons to love Sundog Sunglasses.  Sundog is committed to offering outstanding value, impeccable styling, dependability and superior protection from the elements.  I have found all of these things to be 100% true!

They are passionate about style but driven to provide their customers with the very best in eye protection and focus on being a leader when it comes to technology.  I’ll leave the details of their technology to them by encouraging you to read about the technology behind their lenses.

I will say that there is an obvious difference in their lenses.  I often forget I’m even wearing sunglasses.  They simply provide more visual clarity than anything I have ever worn before.

IMG_0918I recently decided to try their more casual line of sunglasses.  I love the look of the aviator sunglasses but could never find a pair to fit properly.  They are always too big for my face, either overpowering my face or fitting too loose to fit securely.  I now have 3 pairs of aviator style sunglasses from Sundog and all three pair fit beautifully and I feel good wearing them.

So whether I’m running, driving, walking the dogs or simply out enjoying the sunshine, I can be found sporting a pair of Sundog Sunglasses.

Heart Rate Monitor

Something perhaps unknown about me, is I have a weird obsession with numbers.  Even during mundane tasks I catch myself counting.  So it’s no surprise to me that I also like numbers when it comes to running.  I like to track my kilometres throughout the year/month/week.  I appreciate knowing what my current pace is and my average pace after a long run.   I use the Runkeeper app to track my distance during a run and to keep a record of my overall km’s.  I also use my Garmin to monitor my pace during my runs.  Most recently I’ve been keeping a record of my heart rate during my training runs.  I love learning more about myself and how I can improve.  My latest “gadget/accessory” is the Mio Strapless Heart Rate Monitor.  I never ran with a heart rate monitor, as the few times I attempted to, I had to use one with a strap and I would chafe.  After discovering the Mio Heartrate Monitor I am now consistently using it to monitor my training zones and to get more out of my training.  I was able to pair the Mio heart rate monitor with Runkeeper so now my heart rate details are also being logged.  The monitor has the ability to monitor my heart rate, track calories burned, track distance, speed and pace.  It can also be linked to a variety of apps (using bluetooth 4.0 transmission), it can be used as a watch or as a timer. Also, it has a battery life of 20hrs.   Speaking of holding a charge, how easy is this to charge the monitor?!

USB plugs easily into your computer (or anywhere reallY)

USB plugs easily into your computer (or anywhere reallY)

Mio Heart Rate Monitors also play well with others!  Here is a list of apps that are compatible: Apps

However,  it isn’t necessary as there is a Mio Go App that you can pair with your wristband to track your heart rate, pace and distance, including a map and other cool features.   I’m still in transition from using some old favourites and discovering all the cool features of this new amazing equipment.  Find out how you can train smarter with a Mio Heart Rate Monitor: Why is Heart Rate Training Important? 

I have a small wrist and was not sure how the band was going to fit. Turns out you wear it a little higher on the forearm.  It is very comfortable and I forget I’m wearing it.  The face of the band is large enough to see a variety of the features available.  The Mio Go App will allow you to explore even more features.  There are simply way too many things about this heart rate monitor that I love to get into but seriously, go check out their website and have a look around.

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Worth mentioning is the blue, green and red light that is easily visible while I’m running.  It tells me when I’m running below (blue), within (green) and above (red) my target heart rate zones.  This helps me to adjust my run accordingly just with a glance down at my wrist.miogreen

I absolutely love the possibilities of this heart rate monitor to enhance all my training needs!  I was so impressed with this product that I reached out to the company and became an ambassador!  You can order a heart rate monitor of your choice here: Mio Global.  (see below on how you can save 25%)

I truly love both of these products and believe in them so much that I asked for a special discount for my readers to try for themselves.  Message me if you’d like to get the discounts.

Full Disclosure: After purchasing 3 pairs of Sundog sunglasses I was provided with a few pairs to do a review on.  In addition I was provided with the heart rate monitor to do an honest review and have since become an ambassador.

 

 

 

 

Ottawa Race Weekend 2015

Well, I did it!  After previously attempting twice to run the Ottawa Marathon I was finally able to get it done. (Injuries took me out the previous two times, having me run two fall marathons instead).

The journey to race day was an experience I will cherish for a long time.  I had the amazing opportunity to be a part of Team Awesome for the race, which was basically a group of runners, running a variety of distances, committed to connecting and encouraging other runners online on the journey to race weekend.  It was fun and I met a lot of amazing people along the way who I hope to stay connected with as we all continue to chase goals and live life full of adventure.

The weekend started Friday night where I was able to connect with some members of Team Awesome at a casual event.  TeamAwesomeIt was great to see people in person who I’ve been chatting with online for months.  It was a wonderful evening, ending with my husband winning a great door prize, a Beau’s Brewery Gift Package.  beauwinnerHe’s been so amazing supporting me in all my adventures so I was thrilled when he won this.

Beau's Git

Beau’s Race Weekend Gift Package

What a beautiful gift.

Saturday I decided to take in the 5K/10K races as a spectator and supporter.  Being downtown on race day is electric to say the least.  The weather was perfect and the atmosphere was a true celebration of a great weekend that all came together perfectly.   The team at RunOttawa did an amazing job at making the weekend a lasting memory for so many people. Congratulations to all of you for the hard work and incredible success.

I was able to get up close to the finish line to see the elites come in and break many course records.   You can view video here:  Elite Runners Finish Line

Then witnessing the youngest and oldest runners complete their races.

dad carried this sweet angel the entire race

dad carried this sweet angel the entire race

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Every runner crossing the finish line has a story and a reason to celebrate.  Too often we look at the finish times, but honestly isn’t it the journey to get to the start line where the story really begins?  It was moving to witness firsthand, up close and personal, many people achieving personal goals and victories as they crossed the finish line.  It was motivational for me, as I was about to line up in the morning to accomplish one of my own personal goals of running the marathon in my home city, Ottawa.

I had not intended on being out so late on Saturday night, so getting the final things ready and off to bed was certainly later than my original plan.  The morning came early, 4:15am early!  I started my morning with oatmeal, my go to race morning breakfast.  Coffee and some final touches on getting my gear ready and I was in the car and off to the race before I knew it.  Of course, pre-race jitters required that I found a bathroom before starting.  This was also the intention of many other runners preparing to start.  I was still in line at 6:55, with a 7am start time for the race.  I managed to hop in to a corral just in time (4 hr. pace, not my group 😉 ), with less than a minute to spare to set things up (music/running app).

Pace bunny up ahead 4:00 (not my pace group)

Pace bunny up ahead 4:00 (not my pace group)

focussed on getting my music playlist going

focussed on getting my music playlist going

We were off!

I settled in to my own pace early and managed to connect with a friend very early on in the race and we ended up running the entire marathon together.  It was an experience I will never forget.  The first half of the marathon was pretty decent, with the weather starting to heat up for the second half.  By the time we hit 25K the sun was really beating down on us.  I was very thankful for the awesome water stations, especially sponges that were being handed out.  I have never soaked myself with water during a race before, but this time around I dumped water over myself a few times in an effort to stay cool.

The crowd was incredible throughout the race with so many people out cheering us on. crowds were incredible throughout the courseHome owners had sprinklers/hoses out so we could run through them to cool off.  Children were out handing out freezies, which certainly was appreciated by many.

Family and friends arranged to be out on the course around the 33K mark to cheer us on and provide extra treats and water if needed.  Always special to see people you know along the route.

Often we can head into a race with a time goal in mind, usually to get a personal best.  I had this in mind in the beginning as well, but along the way decided it was more about the experience and running with a friend that made the day memorable and one that I could be proud of.

Training continues for me as I am running the Women’s Nike Run in Toronto this coming weekend and my first Ultra Marathon the following weekend.  Life is an adventure, sharing the adventure with others makes it a beautiful journey.

Have you run a marathon before?  Have you ever ran one in your home town/city?  I think it is one of the most beautiful ways to experience a city, the people in it and of course the landscape.

Happy Running Friends.