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,

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

#WIAW - Paris

It is WIAW, so I am talking Paris, Food, and Books...Anyone who knows me, knows I am a bit of a bookworm. My first degree is in English Language and Literature. And I can't fall asleep without reading. In fact I actually sleep with a little spy light next to my bed so I can read when I wake up throughout the night, without disturbing my husband. I typically read between 30-40 books a year. And am a long time Hemingway fan.

Knowing all that, it should come as no surprise that I was anxious to visit some of the famous cafes described in Hemingway's A Movable Feast. The man has been romanticizing this city for me for years, so I was excited for our Hemingway inspired night on the town.

We started at Cafe de Flore for Happy Hour. We both had a couple of cocktails and we share the Terrine while we people watched on the patio.

We then hopped across the street to our second Hemingway haunt - Brasserie Lipp. I am not sure I can do this dining experience justice, but it was probably the most fun I have ever had at dinner, and I mean ever. The service is still done the way it has always been done - very formal, with 3-4 waiters attending to your table, all dressed in black waistcoats and bow ties. But despite all the pomp and circumstance it is not at all the stuffy. The waiters are characters, and may well double as stand up comedians. I spent the whole night in absolute stitches, enjoying everything from the food, to the ambiance, to the jokes.

We started with a bottle of red wine and escargot. (I pretty much ate escargot whenever I had the chance - so yummy!). I had beef tartare and frites as my main. An odd choice for me, because I don't often eat red meat. But I figured while in Paris, you just have to try it. And Jamie had the Pied de Porc. They were both delicious!

We finished with coffee, Mille-Feuille, and Baba au Rhum for dessert. I order the Baba because it was flagged as one of the house specialties, but they were not joking about the Rum. It was soaked in it, and a little too strong for my taste. Especially after happy hour and a bottle of wine. (*I may have also gotten a little Hemingway-inspired drunk this evening too*).

All in all it was a pretty amazing foodie experience.
And if you are a literary geek like me, you have to give this place a try. The is a reason Hemingway raved about it!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Monday, 21 July 2014

French Vacation Part 2: Paris

Ah Paris! This is definitely a city I love, and it was my second time visiting. I love the aesthetic, and more than anything the pace of life. Parisians' know how to live!

I always find it so interesting experiencing a place for a second time. The first time I visited I was 19. I had done an exchange during my first year of University and we were traveling as a school over our midterm break. I definitely took it all in, and loved every second of it. But I think because I was young and living in Europe at the time - I took it a bit for granted. Coming back reminded me how magical Paris can be. And how much there is to see and do. I probably could have spent another week in Paris (*but I guess that just means I will have to plan to go back*).

Hotel: Hotel Esmeralda 
Cost: 120 Euros/Night 

We actually ended up staying at this hotel twice. The first visit was during our initial Paris stay for 5 nights, and then again for just one night before we flew back to Canada.

The location was perfect. You could literally see Notre Dame from your window. And for the location, you would be hard pressed to find a better rate, especially with this view.

The view from our room

The rooms themselves could either be described as having European Charm or "charming" (used extremely ironically) depending on which one you got.

During our main stay, we were in the attic and this room was "charming". It was extremely narrow, hot, and musty. The room also had a noticeable slant - as in you felt like you walking up or downhill depending where you were standing and where you were going.  

Our return visit was completely different. And we stayed one floor below. The room was a good size, clean, comfortable, and offered European Charm. The kind of charm you expect when you stay in little places like this - slightly mismatched furniture, exposed wood beams, unique colours, and the like.
I would definitely go back, but I would request room 14 or below. We stayed in room 12 on our return visit and found it quite comfortable. Rooms 15-18 are in the ones in the attic, and I expect they all leave a little something to be desired.

The Must-Sees You Know:
There are certain sights in Paris that everyone knows, and everyone goes to see. There is a reason everyone goes to see them - they are spectacular! And I definitely agree, You Must-See...
- The Eiffel Tower
- Notre Dame
- The Arc de Triomphe
- The Louvre (we went twice - there is so much to see)
- The Musee D'orsay

The Must-Sees You Might Not See:
And then there are a few sights that a you might not think to see. I saw and did quite a few things I missed the first time I was in Paris. And there were a few locations on the hubby's action packed vacation agenda that surprised me. (Confession: I can take almost no credit for the things we see and do on vacation. This is all Jamie and his meticulous research skills)

Hotel Invalides:
So when he put the veterans hospital on the agenda, I was not really expecting much. I actually thought it was kind of a strange choice, but the man does his research, because the veterans hospital looks like this....

Who would have expected that? It is also home to Napoleon's tomb.


When you think of the art in Paris you probably immediately think about the Louvre and the Musee D'orsay. But this little gem is worth the visit! Monet's Waterlilies were breath-taking. They have them displayed the way Monet originally intended - in a figure eight, so you are completely immersed in them. I was definitely moved by it.  

Dare I say I liked it better than then the D'orsay? I think I may have. Or at the very least I just preferred the way they had it curated. They had all of art exhibited by artist, so you were able to see how their work evolved and easily compare their style. I really enjoyed their collection of Picassos. And just thought whole thing was a pleasant and unexpected surprise.

The Ballet
Okay so admittedly, I love the ballet. I grew up dancing as a kid and this is generally my cup of tea. But the theater is stunning and I thought the performance was exceptional. 

If the ballet is on when you are visiting, I definitely recommend you see it. And if not, than just try to visit the theater (it is the one Phantom of the Opera is set in), and is pretty amazing in its own right.

Sainte Chapelle:
So there are obviously a lot of really beautiful churches dotting the entire city, but this one really stood out for me. When you walk into the chapel you are surrounded by all of this beautiful stain glass. The effect is breathtaking. Not to mention the craftsmanship involved in the stain glass itself.

Pastries! You simply must try the pastries! Parisians' take this stuff seriously, and it shows. We stopped at a few of the city's most talked about Patisseries. Pierre Herme had the best macarons and the most unique flavours. My favourite was Isaphan - Rose, Litchi, and Raspberry. And La Patisserie des Reves offers a magical experience and some amazing pastries. Their Paris-Brest is supposed to be the best in the city, and it did not disappoint.

Stay tuned tomorrow for What I Ate Wednesday and more yumminess. You know I ate well while I was in Paris.
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,