Monday, 1 September 2014

Coffee Talk

You may have noticed that things have been quieter than usual around here. Some of that has been because life has been a little hectic, so it has been hard to find the time to sit down and write. And the rest, is because there has been lots going on behind the scenes and I haven't really known what to say about it all.

So let's catch up. Some of my favourite blogger friends (Christina and Sarah) have been implementing Coffee Talk, and I kinda love it. So grab yourself a cup of coffee (or tea) and let's chat.

I'd ask you how your summer has been, and tell you that I am not sure where the summer went? It feels like I just got back from Paris, and now the summer over.

I would tell you that I have been loving my new job, but it has been busy. I just got back from Vancouver. And I got to spend the long weekend at the cottage with my 4 best friends, where I laughed so hard it hurt.

I'd also tell you that parts of this summer have been emotional. My Nana passed away after a long battle with cancer while we were away in France. And this August marks one year since I lost my Dad. Because we lost him so suddenly, it has taken the family some time to decide what we wanted to do with his ashes. So we set aside a number of weekends to spend time together and to spread his ashes. In some ways it feels like a lot has happened in the past year, and in others it feels like he was just here yesterday. I think I have found a peaceful place in grief, so it has been hard to revisit some of those raw moments.

I would share that I had another appointment with my cardio team and my surgeon. They are not happy with that pesky wire, so after much debate, we have decided surgery #7 is inevitable. And it has been tentatively scheduled for November. The surgery they are proposing is extremely minor, just a quick cut, tuck, and roll. So I am only planning on taking 3-4 days off work. And I was told I could expect to be back to full strength - running, exercising, and the whole bit within 2 weeks.

This has become standard in my world, and I had known that things weren't clicking for a while. So the hardest part for me, was telling my family. There was part of me that gave some serious thought to not telling anyone, and just going to the hospital alone. I know the worry weighs on people, and I hate being the source of that. But I decided people probably wouldn't be that fond of that idea either. So after a few days I caved and let everyone know.

I would tell you that this is what really changed the way I feel about my Fall race season. The doctors gave me the green light to keep training. They said the marathon is A-okay, and in fact they are excited to hear if I PR. But for me, my focus has shifted. I opted out of my 2 fall triathlons. And while I am still going to continue to train and I still plan on running my marathon - the results seem less important. This time around I don't feel like I have anything to prove. This time, to be honest, I am tired. So this time, I will be running with no expectations. Whatever happens, happens.

I would ask you to remind me about this when I toe the line in October. 

So that pretty much sums up what's happening around here.
What would you tell me if we had coffee?

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Motivation Monster

I must confess I have been struggling with my motivation lately. I have been regularly skipping part of my weekly workouts and just generally feeling kind of "meh" about racing. I have been battling the Motivation Monster and questioning what I want most out of this year.

It is hard to explain, and it has been something I have been struggling to wrap my head around.

The last couple years have essentially been a Hot Mess.The pressure has been high, and my stress had been through the roof. So it probably seems odd that those were the years I chose to focus so heavily on training. But Running and Racing became ingrained as a coping skill.

Training was my port in the storm and I clung to it. When I couldn't control anything else I could control my training schedule. When the rest of the day (the week, the month, the year) was a write off - at least I ran. Those runs were how I dealt with my frustrations. Those runs were where I cried. Those runs where I triumphed over my demons. Those runs were I found my peace. And running was the only way I could keep it all together.

This year, there had been a shift.
This year, there has been a break.
This year, I have experienced some healing.
And this year, I can finally breathe again.

But instead embracing the fact that I have more time to train and less things to worry about, I just want to straight up have less things to worry about. And that includes training and race times. Training doesn't bring me peace the way it used to. Instead I find myself stressing about my pace, fussing about my mileage, and worrying about PRs and Race Times. And this year I am not up for the battle. I have lost some of the joy I found when I first started running. And I find myself needing to take a step back.

So today, at this moment, I just want to breathe and relax in every sense of the word. No stress. No pressure. No expectations. And while I am still going to continue to train and run my fall marathon - the results seem less important. Maybe I am growing up, but this time around I don't feel like I have anything to prove. This time, to be honest, I am tired. So this time, I will be running with no expectations. Whatever happens, happens. This time I will be running simply because I can, not because I feel I have to.

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Monday, 18 August 2014

30km MidSummer's Night Run

Saturday night was the Midsummer Night's 30km, and my first race since my vacation. Admittedly, 30km was slightly ambitious, especially after several training weeks that were not exactly on point.

I have eased back into training, but I must confess I have been pretty lax about things. We have been busy with family. And I have been busy with work. Plus there is part of me has just been enjoying coasting. So I have been slacking a bit on the training side, missing a workout here and there, mostly my bike workouts. And I have really relaxed about my diet. Some of it has been stress-related, last week marked one year since losing my Dad. And some of it has just been summer-yummy-barbeque related. Either way, I went into Saturday's race knowing that it would end one of 2 ways...
1. I would run strong, and know that with more training I could seriously revise my Marathon goal pace, or
2. I would run average, and know that I have more work to do and the slacking had to end
Obviously the second option seemed most likely. But either way was fine with me. 

The race started at 5:30pm, so the timing was a little wonky. The race was starting when I usually get ready to have dinner, making fueling interesting. I spent most of day puttering around the house, eating carbs, and playing board games with the hubby. The weather was also a little wonky for an August evening. Saturday ended up being cold, windy, and rainy - making the course conditions less than ideal. But the race was all to raise funds for Sick Kids, so the energy was pretty high to start.

I started out next to the 3 hour pace group. I was hoping for 3 hours-ish, but was really planning to treat this like a really long race pace workout.

The first few kilometers flew by. I was hitting my goal pace, which was 5:50-6:00/km (or 9:23-9:39/mile).

My stomach started to feel a little off around kilometer 15. So I switched from my gels to water and gatorade. At kilometer 20km I ran off course and I was sick to my stomach. I got sick one more time at kilometer 23, and my pace really started to deteriorate. I kept pushing, but after being sick my electrolytes were out of whack, and my legs really started to shut down at 26km. I shuffled to the finish line at 3:19:58. Not exactly the time I had hoped, but considering the circumstances I was okay with it.

I met up with Jamie, who ran an amazing race finishing at 2:32:57, but he looked a little worse for wear. We had passed each other at one of the turn around points, and he had mentioned not feeling well. He had also gotten sick on the course, and was actually in much worst shape than I was.

After the race, I heard that a lot of people had gotten sick. I am not sure if that has to do with the weird timing of this event, or if the race rumor is true. Rumor has it, that the race used water from the fire hydrants/garden maintenance hose to provide water and mix up the gatorade, and that water is not purified for drinking. It would explain why so many us had stomach problems on course, but really sucks if it is true...

Ignoring the tummy troubles, I think this result still says that the slacking has to end. I definitely have work to do before the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, but I think with a little more motivation and consistency a PR might just be within my grasp.

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

#WIAW - Banana, Cherry, Coconut Muffins

It is WIAW and we have entered that non-stop busy part of the summer around here. We are often out of town on the weekends. I am traveling for work. And my training is ramping back up again. So my favourite grab-and-go breakfast item is muffins. They are easy to prep. And easy to take where ever I am going.

I have been experimenting in the kitchen over the last few weeks and trying out new flavour profiles.

I originally made a batch of zucchini and banana muffins for the cottage this past weekend. I knew they weren't my best, but they were pretty nutrient dense. My husband, however, informed me that they tasted like healthy war rations... Whomp! Whomp! Not exactly what I was going for.

So I reworked the recipe and created a Banana, Cherry, Coconut Winner!

Banana Cherry Coconut Power Muffins
Makes 18 large muffins

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup barley flour
1 1/2 cup Pamela Gluten-Free Pancake Mix
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp pumpkin spice
1/3 cup shredded coconut

Wet Ingredients:

1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 cup almond milk
1 cup cherries (chopped)
2 bananas (mashed)
Giddy Yoyo Red Banana Spears (chopped)

1. Preheat oven 350F
2. Mix Dry Ingredients together in a large bowl
3. Add in Wet Ingredients and mix until the batter is smooth and fully combined
4. Dish into muffin cups and place in oven
5. Cook for 20-25 minutes (or until cooked through - test with a fork and if it comes out clean they are ready)

Hope you guys enjoy!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Monday, 4 August 2014

Training, Races, and Popsciles

So first of all I just wanted to say Thank You for all the positivity and support about my Half Ironman Decision. It took a fair bit of soul searching, and even though I knew it was the right decision, I was nervous to hit publish. So Thank You for being such an awesome, wonderful, supportive little crew!

As I slowly ease back into training I am feeling a lot more relaxed and balanced. Coach Michelle is also feeling happy with my decision. I was getting worn down, and she was starting to worry about injuries. Now that I have taken a step back, we can focus a bit more on gaining speed and strength, as I prep for my Fall Marathon. I have updated my Race Schedule and I am finally looking forward to training again (it has been awhile). I have 2 triathlons and 2 more road races planned for this season.

And my next big race is fast approaching. I have been running pretty well since I returned from vacation, but I have been slacking on my cross training (I skipped my bike workout 3 weeks in a row) and I must confess I have continued to enjoy cheese, wine, and candy in abundance since returning from France. I know I have been coasting a little bit in some areas, so I gotta get my butt back in gear if I am going to run a strong 30km in a few weeks.

August 16th - Midsummer's Night Run 30km
August 24th - Ontario Women's Triathlon (Distance: 750m swim, 20km Bike, 5km Run)
September 14th - Lakeside Olympic Triathlon (Distance: 1.5km Swim, 40km Bike, 10km Run)
October 19th - Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

It has been humid here in the city lately, and that definitely been an adjustment. Popsicles have been my Go-To Post-Run Snack lately. I came up with this Pineapple/Coconut concoction this weekend, and I have already made 2 batches. They are also super easy! Just blend up 1.5 cups of pineapple with 1 cup of Zico Coconut Water and put the mixture in the molds. Ta-da!

How is your summer going?!

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Annecy and Adventures in Cheese

So a few people have been asking how we picked some of the smaller towns we visited on our trip. And the truth is - Tour de France. That marketing just works! And Annecy is no exception. I fell in love with the mountains and bright blue lake on last year's tour, and they did not disappoint.

This part of the trip was less about museums and historical sites, and more about the great outdoors. We spent most of our time running, hiking, biking, and enjoying the view. All while refueling with cheese. I ate a lot of cheese on this leg of trip, but it was pretty hard to refuse.

I am slightly late to the What I Ate Wednesday Party, but these are My top 3 Favourite Cheese experiences. Cheese-lover, pull up a chair this is a good one!
1. An Epic Fondue Dinner. Yes I literally had a bowl of melty cheese, bread, and half liter of wine for dinner, and it was glorious!

2. While we were hiking along one of the mountain trails, hunger struck, but we failed to pack enough snacks to sustain us. Luckily we stumbled by this goat farm, and the farmers sold us a mini wheel of cheese from their kitchen. This is actually the BEST cheese I have ever eaten!! If you have not tried Goat Brie - I highly recommend. It's life changing! Especially when you are staring at the goat that made it for you. (maybe not this goat, but his Mom)

3. One of the regional specialties of Annecy is "Tartiflette", so when we eventually made it to the one restaurant on the mountain, we had to order it. It is literally Roasted Potatoes, Bacon, Cream, and Cheese! It is comfort food at its absolute best. If you have the chance to try it, you simply MUST.

Admittedly, the tummy required quite a bit of acid medicine on this leg of trip. But it was so worth it!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Finding my Training Mojo

I must confess, I liked being on vacation. I liked taking a break from training seriously. I liked spending extra time with hubby. I liked starting my mornings with a leisurely coffee and a baguette covered in strawberry jam. I liked the balance that vacation brought to my life. And I found it difficult to come back to the "real world".

One of the promises I made to myself while I was away, was to start Living My Priorities and focus on finding my balance.

It in truth, finding my balance, is something I have been struggling with for months. And it is the reason I pulled the plug on my half ironman. I have been searching for a peaceful place to heal, and peace can be easier said than done for this "type-A-try-to-do-it-all-crazy-pants".

So over the past few weeks I have been searching for an answer to that elusive question..
How do I prioritize myself, while still keeping up with everything else?

And despite being a very BIG work in progress, I think I am getting there.

I got a little lost in the shuffle over the past few months. I got swept up in the idea of always hitting faster times and tackling new distances. And I forgot why I really do all of this. Running is meant to be a way to honour my body. And Training is an outlet to push myself both mentally and physically. But ultimately I do it because I like it. I had to let go of the unnecessary stress and pressure I had created for myself and find joy in my training again.

And after a restorative coffee date with the one and only Morgan (aka Wildly Fit), I was reminded that your training doesn't have to be all or nothing. You can train hard, but still strive for balance and mindfulness. So going forward...

"I just want fast legs and a peaceful heart" my new Fit Motto. And just like that, I found my running mojo again.
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,