Monday, 14 April 2014

#TYS10k Race Recap

Sunday was the Toronto Yonge Street 10km. And I went into the race with high hopes. I had been running really well lately, and I had been feeling really strong, so I felt like a sub-50 10km was definitely a possibility. This was actually only my 3rd ever 10km race - it is not a distance I do often. And I know this distance is challenging one.

I had had a busy week, but I was feeling good on race day. I was running this race with the 2XU team so I met with my fellow teammates Angela and Jess pre-race to take our necessary team/triplet photos.

I started to get nervous as I made my way down to the start. The pressure to run a strong race was starting to set in. My run buddy JP and my coach Michelle lined up with me to pace me through the race. I shot off the line, and JP and Michelle were yelling at me to slow down. I calmed my pace down and was running strong for the the first few kilometers.

I am not sure if I was tired. I am not sure if I was over-dressed. I am not sure if I was slightly dehydrated. I am not sure if the pressure of performing got to me. Or if it just wasn't my day. But I couldn't control my heart rate. And I was reminded that running with a Robot Heart can be complicated. JP and Michelle were chatting and encouraging me all the way along, but I knew pretty early on things were just not clicking.

During last week's race I ran an average pace of 5:19/km, and I ran it comfortably. My average heart rate was 165bpm and I topped out at 171bpm only when pushing it up that massive hill. On Sunday my average pace was actually slower at 5:22/km, and I spent 41 minutes in zone 5 running with heart rate between 181-187bpm. My heart was not cooperating, my anxiety set in, and I could not push the way I had hoped.
Left: HR from Harry's and Right: HR from Yonge Street
I finished the Race at 53:33. Which despite not being the time I hoped, was still 7 minutes faster than my previous 10km PR from 2010 of 1:01:06.

Sunday ended up being a humbling race, and I was definitely frustrated. My legs were fresh when I finished, so I know on a different day I was capable of better. Sometimes you can do everything right, but heart rate can be unpredictable, especially when you have a robot heart to worry about. I know these types of races happen to every runner, but I definitely take it harder than most. For me it feels like my body has let me down again. And I get angry that my body isn't consistently strong, despite all the hard work I put into my training.My expectations tend to be slightly unrealistic in this department, so I am trying to take Sunday's race with a grain of salt.

Unfortunately my Heart Rate ceiling is set in stone, my defibrillator will fire if I reach 200bpm (and yes it has happened before) so I have to be cautious when I enter Zone 5. I also tend to get anxious when pushing the pace because of this - likely a contributing factor to my elevated Heart Rate. So Sunday wasn't my day, but I was still smiling when it was all said and done.

I spent the day surrounded by my awesome running community. And despite a tough race, I know I am making progress. With more time I will figure out what I need on race day and develop more strategies to keep my heart rate in check. I am chalking it all up to a learning experience, and focusing on moving forward. Coach agrees that despite my wonky heart, I looked strong. So we will reassess my pace and time goals for my next race.

Onward and Upward. Progress not Perfection.
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

#BESTFOOT - Are You One of "THOSE" People?!

I have officially become "one of THOSE people". Yep, it is true. I apologize in advance friends and family. But as 70.3 training progresses - early bedtimes, clean eats, and ridiculous training schedules are becoming the norm. And I have officially become one of those crazy training nuts.

Here are some of the tell-tale signs training is taking over your life, in case you have potentially become one of THOSE people too.

1. I now have a ton of obscure seeds, grains, and nuts filling my pantry.
2. Kelp Noodle salad actually sounds good to me .
3. I know what a Sprializer is, and that I need one.
4. 2-a-days are starting to become pretty standard, so is 4 cups of coffee/day.
5. 11pm is WAY past my bedtime, and I start to panic if I need to socialize like a normal human-being. I like to have my PJs on by 9:30 at the latest.
6. I have become a milk snob. "Do you have almond milk? Oh you only have soy. I have my coffee black then"
7. I will usually skip the wine at dinner, don't want it to affect my early morning run.
8. I will ask no less than 4 questions before I order off the menu, and there will almost always be some sort of modification.
9. My iPhone is full of more gym Selfies than anything else, and I am not ashamed to admit it.
10. I know what Kombucha is and $4 a bottle now seems perfectly reasonable.

I have definitely become one of those people. But I am okay with that! Are you one of those people?

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Friday, 11 April 2014

Ask Me Anything - Happy Heart 5km

Hey There Friends!!
So as we creep closer to the Happy Heart 5km I wanted to update you all, and answer some of the questions I have been getting!! So today's Ask Me Anything is all things Happy Heart 5km Related.

We are currently up to 32 prizes! We have had some extra additions since I announced my initiative a couple weeks back. So here is our updated Prize List

That is a whole lot of AWESOME swag!! So you know you wanna join!

Sign-Up Deadline:
You have up until April 25th to register and complete your run. To register please donate $20 to my fundraising page. (<--- you can click this link or the Happy Heart button on the right side of page)

Registration and Entries:

Once you have made your donation you name is automatically entered into my Rafflecopter Giveaway app for 3 entries in the draw for prizes.

A printable online Bib will be available here on April 18th! You are all welcome to print it out at home and Rock It during your 5km. (Perfect addition to your Instagram Selfies)

You can visit my blog anytime between April 22nd-April 27th to gain additional entries for the draw! You can gain Extra Entries by...
  • Tweeting about your Run
  • Sharing about it on Facebook
  • And posting your pictures on Instagram
Everyone is encouraged to use the Hashtag #HappyHeart5km so we can all link up and encourage each other!

Local Happy Heart Meet-Up:
For those of you in the GTA that would like to meet-up and run with me on Tuesday April 22nd. I will be finishing the bike portion of my route  at the Yonge Street Running Room and heading out on my Run at 6:30pm. Everyone is Welcome! I warn you in advance I will likely be a hot mess of emotions and exhaustion - so tears will likely be shed, but as long as you don't mind company is welcome.

Hope you can all come run with me!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Learning to Let Go of Fear

Technically this post is inspired by an Ask Me Anything question. But I have to admit this one gave me pause, and as I started writing I realized I had quite a lot to say on the matter. So I decided to warranted its very own post. 

"Which heart condition do you have? Does it ever scare you? You always seem so confident and calm. I admire your strength and motivation so much" 

So first of all, I appreciate that you think I am “calm and confident”. I am not so sure I would agree. I generally feel like I am running around like a little crazy person, just trying to stay one step ahead, and struggling to keep my head above water. But I think I have made great strides in the "calmness department" over the past few years.

I have been living with my diagnosis – Long QT Syndrome – treatment, and consequence of said treatment for over 10 years. And in that time mistakes were, lessons have been learned, and I have slowly made peace with things.

When I was first diagnosed and throughout the first few years of treatment; the impending nature of surgery and frequency of complications overwhelmed me. I struggled a lot with anxiety. These monumental things were happening, I was in the middle of a life-changing diagnosis, and it felt like my whole world should stop. I wanted life to wait for me to be ready.

But life didn't stop. 

While you feel like your life is on pause, everyone else is moving forward. The world still moves on around you - years pass, life happens, and I was just stuck there. I was just waiting for things to be fixed. I was waiting for things to be perfect. I was waiting for the right time to move forward.

Well here I am 10 years later, and I think it safe to say the "right time" never came. 

Over the last 10 years I have had 6 surgeries, one devastating loss, and too many other subsequent complications list. But a whole of living has been accomplished in between those things too. I just had to let go of my self-imposed limits. I know now that I will always have Long QT syndrome. I will always require a pacemaker/defibrillator for treatment. And that type of treatment will always require monitoring and inevitably surgery. I cannot control when this happen, but I am also no longer willing to limit my life because of fear.  

I started to realize that I will never be "fixed", but that didn't have to mean that I could never be healthy. I didn't need to give up on the life I wanted, I just had to be willing to do things a little differently (and maybe also be willing to work a little harder).

I eventually learned that I am not in control of everything. I will not always be in control of where life takes me, but I am in control of how I allow it to affect me.  Giving into the fear robs you of your potential, your joy, and of your life. So I try to chose happiness. 

You do not always get to chose the life your get, but you have the opportunity to create the life you want.

So while it is still a struggle, I am trying (*really hard*) to to create the life I want. My goal is to dream big, and to accept that life will likely always be a work in progress.

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

#BESTFOOT - Harry's 5km Race Recap

Trying to be warm...I was not!
Saturday was the Harry's Spring Run Off. And of course because I was racing the temperature dropped the wind picked up. Seriously?! Story of my life so far this year. It was absolutely freezing...AGAIN!! And the wind was crazy...AGAIN!!!

I talked about my Heart Rate strategy with my coach. She agreed that she wanted me to push hard, but not all out race. I am racing again next weekend and running the Yonge Street 10km. There is just 7 days between races, so one has to be an A race and one has to get B status. As coach likes to remind me, you can't PR every race - it will empty you. So Saturday was about pushing hard, but racing smart. Harry's was my B race.

I started out strong and finish my 1st kilometer at 4:57. I was feeling good. The wind made steadying my breathing difficult and my body was really tense. Michelle jumped on the course to run with me and to take pictures like the amazing little nutbar that she is. She kept telling me to shake it out and relax, but I don't think I was extremely successful.

5km are an interesting beast for someone that typically does longer distances. You are at the halfway point before you even get to the 3rd song on your playlist. And then before you know it people are yelling at you that there is just 1 km to go. It happens in a heart beat.

Harry's is notoriously hilly. But I felt strong and maintained my pace for the first 3.5km. My pace dropped off a bit in the final 1.5km. The hills started to take the wind out of sails and my quads were getting angry. I finished with an official time of 26:31. Michelle captured my whole adventure with her Go-Pro and put together this little race video!

I ended up placing 11/139 for my category (F 25-29), so close to a top 10 finished. Which is all kinds of crazy?! Who am I?! I ran the course a 1:37 faster than last year, and I know I had a lot more to give. My average heart rate was 167 bpm (or 84%). And I maxed out - probably on the hill - at 174 bpm (or 87%). I never even made it into Zone 5.Which means I am ready to go hard next weekend. Next week will be the true Heart Rate Training test, and I am gunning for a fast time.

It was a great run. And the whole family ended up rocking it. The Hubby finished 22nd overall with a blazing fast time of 20:02. And my Father-In-Law celebrated his Run-iversary by finishing 28:02. Everyone improved their times significantly over last year's performance. So it was definitely time to celebrate with a delicious over-sized breakfast!

How did your week go?
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Friday, 4 April 2014

Ask Me Anything: Fuel Edition

Virtual Happy Heart 5km Update:
Thank you so much to everyone who has joined, tweeted, shared, and supported so far! We have raised $2244 for the Heart and Stoke Foundation so far. And I cannot tell you how much all of your support has meant. If you haven't registered yet, just visit my Donation Page between now and April 27th and make a $20 donation (**your donation will get you your online bib and make you eligible for some of the amazing prizes I have up for grabs**)
Speaking of PRIZES, we have had some new prize additions!
I hope you guys will join me! Let's help make everyone's HEARTS healthy and happy!

Okay now let's get down to business! Last week I launched Ask Me Anything, and for some reason I got lots of questions about food/fuel.

If you have been following along, than you know I do NOT consider myself an expert in nutrition by any means. So I always struggle with these questions. I am just muddling along like everyone else, and generally I have discovered what works for me with a whole lot of trial and error. But I definitely don't feel like I have it all figured out just yet. And I believe everyone’s digestive system, metabolism, and body is different – so please take my advice in this area with a serious grain of salt.

Okay, so here goes…

1.       What do you Eat Before Your Long Run?

Pre-Run I like carbs. Carbs are my favourite. They are my friend. And I eat a lot of them. My tummy can get a little angry on a long run - so starch is welcome and generally keeps my tummy happy. I try to eat 60-90 minutes before I head out. My tried, tested, and true is a bagel with natural peanut butter - that is what I always eat before a big race. I love Udi's Gluten-Free Cinnamon Raisin Bagel. 

But for my Sunday Long Runs I generally strive for 300 calories of pre-run carbs. My other 2 favourite go-to’s lately have been – a bowl of Nature’s Valley gluten-free cereal and Scott Jurek’s Breakfast Quinoa recipe. (PS *If you have not tried quinoa for breakfast I definitely recommend giving it a whirl! It is yummy!*)

2.       How do you carry water and fuel on the run?
I use a Camelbak for my water. I like where it sits on my back and have always found this option to be the most comfortable for me. I add 1-2 Vega Hydrator packages to my water depending on weather and how far I am going. It helps keep my electrolytes in check, and the added salt helps keep the water from freezing. I also tuck the straw into my jacket when it is extra cold out. You have to fiddle with it a bit more, but your body heat helps make sure your line doesn’t freeze while you are out there.

I typically take a Clif Bar shot every 45 minutes. Last Sunday I ran 30km and I took 3 while I was out there. I like how easy the gels are to eat and digest, so they are my go-to fuel. 

             3.    Do you use any protein powder or supplements?
I have been using Vega One for my protein shake post-run. Green smoothies are a pretty popular staple in my world, and I find the plant-protein really easy to digest. The Vega One Shake has 15g protein, antioxidants, and tummy-loving probiotics - so it has been perfect for me. I have also been adding avocado, spinach, and banana for extra plant power!
Full Disclosure on on the supplement thing: I like the idea of having a regular vitamin routine, but 4/7 days a week I probably forget to take them. Some weeks I am really on point with these. Other weeks not so much. I consider these a bonus - in other words "YAY! for me if I remember to take them" and not really a big deal if I forget.

I have also been taking L-glutamine and licorice root to help keep my sensitive tummy on track. And over the holidays I started taking Rhodiola Rosea to help manage stress and fatigue. The holidays were obviously hard for me this year, so I thought it was worth testing out, and I think it did help. I actually have a bottle of the Rhodiola Rosea to giveaway! So this could be great opportunity to see for yourself!
a Rafflecopter giveaway Hope you all have an AWESOME Friday!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

#WIAW - Spicy Miso Mushroom Soup

Remember last month when I went to the Thrive Energy Cookbook Launch? And when I hung out with my triathlon hero Brendan Brazier? Well after about 2 months of looking longingly at all of the yummy recipes, my schedule finally calmed down and I had some evenings at home to put the book to the test. So I thought I would share my first recipe experiment for this week's WIAW.

I am not sure how it is in your neck of the woods, but here in Toronto it has been COLD. I think Spring is coming. But obviously the first recipe I needed to try was soup. The Spicy Miso Mushroom Soup was the first recipe on the agenda. I was impressed with how easily it all came together. I loved the spicy flavor profile. And the "meaty" mushrooms were really filling and tummy friendly!

Spicy Miso Mushroom Soup

1/4 cup Coconut Oil
2 cups diced Sweet Onions
1 cup diced Leeks
1 cup diced Celery
Sea Saly and Black Pepper
2 Thai Red Chilies
4 cloves Garlic
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp miso paste
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp paprika
4 cups diced king oyster mushrooms
2 cups enoki mushrooms
6 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp Sriracha sauce
3 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup bean sprouts

  1.  Heat the coconut oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, leeks, celery, and salt to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent.
  2. Stir in the chillies, garlic, lime juice, and miso paste. Add cumin, coriander, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Add King Oyster Mushrooms and Enoki Mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushroom are tender and have released some of their juices (approx 3 min.)
  3. Add the vegetable stock, increase heat, and bring to a boil. As soon as it starts boiling, reduce heat to simmer. Stir in Sriracha sauce and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve garnished with green onions and bean sprouts.
I hope you guys are having a GREAT week!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,