Monday, 30 January 2012

Motivation Monday - Week 4

Even I am surprised by my time!
Its Monday...time for your weekly dose of MOTIVATION!! (and mine)

I had a really, really, REALLY good run this weekend. Despite the slush, wind, snow, and rain I still did my run. I grumbled and pouted for a good 3 hrs, but I eventually put my sneakers on. I ran my 18 km (11.5 miles) route on Saturday, and I ran it at 8:34 mile pace!! WOOHOO!

For those of you who have no idea what that means, a 10 minute mile is the typical fitness marker. And as a little Darwinian Fail a 10 minute mile is what I have been running comfortably and consistently for the last um...I don't know...6 years! I have never been able to run like this. Like EVER!

Who am I?! Dare I say I may be becoming a "real" runner? Or at least more runner than Darwinian Fail? And maybe, just maybe even a half way decent runner?

This race is about something bigger, and I have purposely place very little pressure on myself in terms of time for my upcoming race. Because this race isn't really supposed to be about times or even competing. This race is supposed to just be for me. A feat of strength and stamina to say that despite all the genetic defects, despite all the obstacles, despite all the ups and downs - that I am strong. Strong enough to run this race. Strong enough to stick to all this training. Strong enough to complete this distance. And I still want that to be the main focus. Just finishing this will be an accomplishment. But the little competive type-A monster that lives within is starting to think more and more about my time and the numbers...

Running is one of those werid sports that is just for you. You compete with yourself for a faster time or a longer distance - those numbers become your measure of success, of progress, of change. So I am beginning to wonder if adding in the time component might just help give the last 5 weeks of training that extra push. I think it might! I am heading into my last month of training...soooo...eeek...I kind of can't believe I am going to do this! But I want to try to run my race in ...drumroll please...

Half Marathon Goal Time = 2 hours

My lovely virtual running coach Michelle (aka NYC Running Mama) insists I should be able to run a sub 1:50 race after my last long run. But I am not completely convinced that this run was not a full on fluke or grave calcuation error. So that statement is a little too bold for me. Race day will be full of nerves, lots of unknowns, mental roadblocks, and head games. So I am going to say the goal is 2 hours and anything less than that is just gravy. Alright the gauntlet has been thrown...

I have 5 weeks left to make this dream a reality.
Wish me luck!
Love your Favourite Darwinain Fail,

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Stay Truthful Thursday - Fly

Its been another cold, dreary week here in Toronto...sigh...why did I sign up for a Half Marathon in March again? Oh yeah...Dday...I guess I am under a bit of a time crunch, aren't I?!

I know it will be worth it. I know it least I keep telling myself it will. The glory of crossing that finish line is pushing me on. But I still feel a little grumbly when I bundle up and set out for my runs. Even more so now as my training progresses. Telling myself to get out there and do a quick 5km is easier to do then say trying to convince myself to head out for 15km in this weather. UGH! All my runs this week have been dark, damp, and cold.

Note to Self: I must invest in either a tredmill or a gym membership for my next Marathon. I must!

As you can see this week has been a struggle. There is a huge part of me that longs to stay snug and warm inside. And that part of me is warring with the part of me that wants to train my butt off. So this week I have been bribing myself with new music to rock out to on my lengthy runs. You guys all know by now that I love to rock out to sugary sweet girlie pop dance beats and regularly channel my inner diva when I am pounding the pavement.  Krysten's running alter-ego is a fierce, strong, unstoppable force. Because like Beyonce says, "Diva is the female version of a Hustler". And I am a DIVA with a capital "D" when I am running.

And since I got such positive feedback on my last musical Stay Truthful Thursday I decided to stick with that theme for this week's post too. I downloaded both of these sexy ladies to inspire my inner running diva. And this has become this week's unofficial theme song. I have been kicking off all of my runs with Nicki Minaj's Fly, so you know this one's gonna be on my half marathon playlist!

PS. Those monster heels are totally something my inner diva would love to rock! HOT!

I came to win, to fight, to conquer, to thrive
Well that's what this whole journey is about, isn't it. To beat my genetics, to fight breast cancer, to conquer heart disease, and thrive. This has been a less than stellar year, but I know that I am making this decision so I can have many, many, many happy years ahead.

I came to win, to survive, to conquer, to rise
I am choosing to take this drastic step because I want to beat breast cancer before it ever even has a chance to threaten my life. I want to survive. I want to conquer this disease. And I want to rise above my genetic obstacles and physical barriers.

Cause I am not a word. I am not a line. I am not a girl that can ever be defined.
This half marathon (and my training by proxy) is meant to be the antithesis of my genetic predisposition. I won't be labeled and I won't be defined by a series of unfortunate circumstances. I am bigger, badder, and stronger than Long QT and BRCA combined. Genetics you're messing with the wrong girl.

See we become alive in a time of fear. And I ain't got any motherf**ckin' time to spare
It is easy to become complacent. It is easy to take the life you know for granted. It is easy to say I will start that tomorrow...sigh...always tomorrow. But what if there is no tomorrow? Life can change in a blink of eye. And then what? As hard as this year has been, it has made me more motivated and more driven then ever before. Now is the time! Get out there!

Cry my eyes out for days upon days. Such a heavy burden placed upon me
Good golly, I think I have shed enough tears this year. BRCA is a big heavy weight just sitting on my shoulders. And it has been a long 14 months carrying that type of weight around with me. It follows me everywhere - to work, walking the dog, out with friends, every time I look in the mirror, on my runs - EVERYWHERE. This has not been an easy road. And this has not been an easy decision. I am very much looking forward to this weight being lifted. 5 more weeks to go, I am in the home stretch.

But when you go hard your nay's become yea's
It feels like my body is nay, but my spirit is definitely saying yea. So early morning runs - look out. Burlington Chilly Half Marathon - I am coming for ya! And Dday - psst you never really stood a chance.

So sing it with me folks...

I came to win, to fight, to conquer, to thrive. 
I came to win, to survive, to prosper, to rise. 
To fly. To fly. 
Get ready for it. 
Get ready for it. 
Get ready for it. 
I came to win!

So that's it.
I am gonna rock my training. I am gonna work my butt off.
And I am gonna show that half marathon and Dday who's boss!
Let's do this!
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Winning Nutrition Wednesday - Frittata I have this magic formula…it’s the formula for the perfect performance – all you need is protein, carbs + vitamin C.
If I am giving credit where credit is due, it is actually my husband’s sport nutrition method. He has been preaching this theory of his for years but I always fluffed it off, mostly because I was never that worried about optimizing performance. I have always exercised for health and played sports for recreation, so there was no serious drive to enhance my execution with pre-game nutrition rituals. I felt like I generally ate pretty well and that my norm would be enough to generate the performance I desired.
That was my thinking at least, until one fateful summer weekend. We had signed up for a recreation baseball tournament with a group of our friends and we were prepping for our first game. There was Jamie bopping around the kitchen preparing his eggs and toast, slicing up his oranges, and drinking his Gatorade. And there I was sitting at the table, slowly sipping my giant cup of coffee, and trying to muster up some energy for our day. Needless to say, I was not exactly an all-star contributor in Game 1. There were no big hits, no show-stopping plays…wah-wah…I was average as hell.
So in between games I went off and got myself an egg and cheese sandwich on a whole-grain bagel and washed it down with a large bottle of orange juice and Voila! Sport Nutrition Magic! I was making plays, hitting the ball well into the outfield, and running the bases like a Champ. Who knew?! And ever since I have been a “Protein, Carbs, + Vitamin C” convert.
So this next recipe fits the bill. Serve it with a side of citrus and you’ll be ready to rock!
Southwest Frittata
(*Serves 6*)
Nutrition Note: Each serving is only 181 calories and is a good source of Vitamin A + B12, Riboflavin, and Folate
4 tsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 jalapeno (optional), diced
1 cup corn kernel
1/3 cup of cilantro and chives
4 eggs
4 egg whites
¼ cup water
1 tsp salt
2 tomatoes, seeded + chopped
½ cup crumbled feta

1.       Preheat oven 350 F
2.       Cook onion, potato, and jalapeno on medium-high heat in 2 tsp of olive oil in a non-stick skillet. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until potato is just cooked.
3.       Add corn, cilantro, and chives to the skillet and cook mixture for 1 minute
4.       In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites, water, and salt
5.       Pour completed egg mixture over vegetable mixture in the skillet. Continue to cook allowing the bottom to set.
6.       Transfer skillet to a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. The frittata is ready when the bottom is lightly browned and the eggs are set.
7.       Gently flip the completed frittata on to a large serving platter and sprinkle with tomatoes, remaining herbs, and feta cheese.

Slice in wedges and you are ready to serve! I hope you guys enjoy!
Happy Winning Nutrition Wednesday!
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Monday, 23 January 2012

Motivation Monday - Week 3

How would I rate my performance last week? Hmmm...I think I would give last week a resounding...Meh. Last week was a struggle. The weather sucked. It was cold, snowy, dreary, and damp here in Toronto. The high winds and sub-freezing temperatures did not exactly leave me anxious to bundle up and hit the streets. I begrudgingly logged my miles, but I felt myself making excuses to cut my runs short and trying to negotiate my schedule to squeeze my miles in another day, always another day.

My head and my heart just wasn't in it. If you ready my last Stay Truthful Thursday post, then you know I was having myself a bit of a pity party last week. I was feeling run down and little overwhelmed. I was having a hard time feeling positive about all that will come to pass, and to be honest I was tired of busting my butt trying to out do my genetic shortcomings.

I needed to step back and regroup. I had Friday off, which was necessary in more ways than one. So I had the chance to stress-clean and stress-bake (aka my two favourite type-A ways of relaxing). I then spent a good portion of my afternoon reading through all of the sweet messages sent to me the day before with a warm heart and tears in my eyes. I can not adequately explain how much all your support has meant to me. With all of you amazing folks rooting for me I promise I will do you proud. I capped off my day with a delightful dinner with my girlfriend Allie and my hubs. We reminisced about our crazy years at university (Allie and I were roomies), and had a laugh about our antics. I needed to cut loose a little, so this was just what the Doctor ordered. I threw caution to the wind. I drank some wine, I ate some cheese, and I indulged in some of my stress baking - and I didn't feel guilty about it. Sometimes a girl just needs a little wine, cheese, and sugar. I did and I loved every second of it.
The City's Snow Covered Sidewalks 
Friday's break allowed me to tackle my long run (18 km or 11.5 miles) with a renewed sense of purpose. I admittedly meant to only run 16-17 km, but got a little lost navigating the side streets of the city. I am still not really sure now I managed it, but I missed my turn some how and ended up running an extra mile before I got myself turned around again. I ran my loop in 2 hrs and 3 minutes, which is bit slower than I wanted since I am hoping to run my full half (21 km) in about that time. But considering this was the first time I ran this type of distance, combined with snow covered sidewalks and my little detour - I feel pretty good about it. I feel especially good about that performance, because I woke up Sunday feeling loose and strong despite my lengthy run. It means I am making progress. It means I am getting stronger. And it means I am only 3 little km shy of reaching my half marathon distance. I am on my way and I have 6 weeks to train for the Big Race and get my body to where I want it.

So I am starting off this week with a fresh sense of commitment. I feeling positive about the strides I am making. There are certain things about the next 6 weeks that I cannot control, but my training isn't one of them. I am in control of how I face the next 6 weeks, and how I tackle my training. I am feeling restored. This is new week and a new beginning. I am leaving "meh" behind and I am going to make this week GREAT!

Let's Do This. Week 3 I am coming for you!
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Stay Truthful Thursdays - Its So Hard

Confession: This Stay Truthful Thursday is less about training (which I have been killing this week by the way). And is more about my state of mind. But I am still using this time to be truthful, so I think it still counts...

It has been a tough week for me. The reality of what's to come and when it will all come to pass is hitting home. Life is getting real. And it is all coming fast and furious now. I have been doing my best to channel all my unwanted nervous energy into training and literally running away from those unwanted feelings. I have been trying to stay focused on my race, rather than my surgery. But inevitably I am starting to struggle to feel jazzy about the logistics of March 5th.

So this week while out on long run I had a hard time keeping it together when my ipod randomly shuffled on to "So Hard" by the Dixie Chicks. Don't judge me! You can take the girl outta the country, but you can't take the country outta the girl. And I confess I finished my last 5 km with tear stained cheeks. Here's what got me...

(*Note: you should probably play the video while you read the following for the desired effect. Unless of course you are super famillar with all things Dixie Chicks and don't require a point of reference - in which case rock on!*)

Why is fighting all that we're good at anymore?
Fighting this fight has defined this year. Fighting to stay positive. Fighting to be and stay healthy. It has consumed my world. It has become my focus. It has taken all my energy. It feels like fighting is all I do. I am longing for the day that I can look back and say that I am finally made it out to the other side.

Sometimes I don't have the engery to prove everybody wrong.
I have been fighting so hard to not be a number. To not be a statistic. To say that I am not defined by this. To do things, *ahem* like run a Half Marathon the day before surgery as a way of shouting to the world that I can and I will be healthy despite all the obstacles...just as an example. To say that I am not defined by my genetics. But it is exhausting. And it is starting to wear me down.

And I try my best to be strong, but it's so hard
Rationally I know this is the right choice. To be healthy and happy this step (albeit drastic) is required to guarantee that. I know all of this. I shout it to the world on this blog and to any passerby who is willing to listen. I want so much to be strong. I want to be an example, both for my family and for other women faced with similar challenges. I want to embrace this journey and relish it. But DAMN! When I sit back and think, really think, about what I am about to willing do to my's hard.

Its so hard when it doesn't come easy
"Life is hard". "Life isn't fair". And "nothing worth anything comes easy", so the old adjage goes. But other things sure seem to come easier than this...

It so hard when it doesn't come fast
This process has been about as slow as it comes. It has consumed more than a year of my life. By the time  Dday rolls around I will have spent the last 14 months wrapped up in worry, doctor's appointments, decision making, fretting, and tears. And it has all made it difficult to be in the moment and embrace the progress I have made. I am ready to be done with all of this.

And could we be happy if life wasn't how we pictured it
So this is the lyric that sent the tears brimming over the edge.

This isn't exactly how I saw life going. This isn't ideal. I saw myself in grad school, preparing to buy a home, discovering my dream job, enjoying being a (*relatively*) newly wed. I did not picture myself having to choose between mutilating my body and getting cancer. Not to mention being plagued by all the questions surrounding fertility, genetics, children, and how all of my Darwinian failings will effect my idea of one day starting a family.

It wasn't how I saw this going, so I am pretty sure it is safe to assume that it's probably not what my husband signed on for either. Not that my hopelessly supportive husband would ever dream of saying something like that. But the facts are these: as much as this is happening to my body, this is all happening to our life. And for that reason I am wrought with guilt.

Last night you told me you can't remember how to feel free
This journey has taken hold of my life, and I feel its presence in everything I do. I am longing, dreaming, hoping, wishing for this to all be over. To be free again.

Show me a vision of You and Me swimming peacefully
I am all too aware of the effect that this process has had on me, my family, and my life this year. But I know this process is finite, and that all the support I have been given during this journey will carry me through. This will soon come to an end. We will get there. I will get there. And my life will be better for it.

Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Winning Nutrition Wednesday - Mushroom Polenta

Ever since I started increasing my weekly mileage and kicking my cross training up a notch, my stomach has had a mind of it's own. My appetite has been going crazy trying to keep up with my new training schedule. And I have noticed that I can't go too long in between meals. I made that mistake following a couple of long runs and my tummy was raging afterwards.  Thus, I have transformed into a CARB MONSTER! I need good whole grains to fuel my workouts, and I have been experimenting with some new ingredients.

This is a new recipe I tried a few weeks ago and loved from Jill Dupleix's "Lighten Up" Cookbook. This is one of the new books I got for Christmas, and it has a ton of great recipes. Its full of healthy dishes made from fresh nutritious ingredients with recipes that are easy to follow. Check it out!

The finished product
Soft Polenta with Mushrooms
(**this recipe serves 4** or 2 with leftovers for lunch**)


Mushroom Mix
1 tbsp dried wild mushrooms
750 g assorted mushrooms
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 tbsp of finely chopped parsley
sea salt and pepper to taste
Handful of greens of your choice (I picked spinach)

500 ml milk
150 g instant polenta
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp butter
2 tbso of freshly grated parmesan cheese

1. Soak the dried mushroom in 250 ml of warm water for 30 min to rehydrate. Drain the mushrooms, but save the water. Slice the rehydrated mushrooms and fresh mushrooms finely.
2. Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the garlic and mushrooms tossing well.
3. Next add the mushroom water, parsley, sea salt, and pepper allowing the mixture to simmer for 10 min. and until all the veggies are tender
4. In a medium size pot bring milk and 750 ml of water to a boil
5. Pour the polenta in slowly, stirriug constantly. The polenta thinkens quickly so don't leave unattended. It will need to be stirred over gentle heat for about 10 minutes. Once the polenta reaches consistency similar to porriage, it is ready!
6. Add the sea salt, butter, and parmesan to the completed polenta
7. Spoon the polenta onto warm plates and top with the mushroom mixture and your choice of greens

That's it! You are ready to enjoy! It is a great way to squeeze in a good portion of veggies and their disease fighting nutrients. And the whole grains are very filling - making this dish enough to power you through any workout. Can't wait to hear what you guys think!

Happy Wednesday!
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Monday, 16 January 2012

Motivation Monday - Week 2

So Week 1 of Half Marathon training has come and gone. And you know what that means...Only 7 more weeks to go people!!

Slugging threw the snow on Friday
And I must confess Week 1 has been an adjustment. It has been crazy cold here in Toronto (note: it was -27 C here on Saturday), thus making the training transition a little difficult. Trying to convince myself to bundle up and log those extra miles has not exactly been easy. But I am committed to my training schedule - so rain, shine, sleet, or snow you will find me pounding the pavement. No seriously. I was out trucking around in a snow storm on Friday. I guess this is why people get gym memberships? Something to keep in mind for my next marathon anyways.

The reality of training is starting to hit home and I was feeling it this morning. I felt exhausted when I woke up. My muscles were feeling fatigued. And I definitely could have stayed curled up snug under my covers and hit the snooze button for a few extra hours this morning. But no one said training for this half was going to be easy. And I suppose deep down that part of the reason I started training for it in the first place. It is supposed to be challenge.

And that challenge has been good for me. Training has been a good place to focus all my unwanted nervous energy. It is hard to think about Dday when I know I have to focus on completing my race first. I want to throw myself into training and stay focused on making progress, getting stronger, and logging miles. Training for this race is meant to target my negative feelings about the asethetic changes to my body, and help me focus on its strength, stamina, and tenacity instead.

His Muscles give me street cred

So I blame this crazy weather combined with my over-eager, excess of energy for allowing me to fall prey to good old fashion peer pressure. Because to stay focused and to stay motivated I kicked off Week 2 with my very first attempt at Crossfit. My buddy Yaw has been talking about this workout for months. Months I tell you! He is a total Crossfit nut! And I think his jacked arms are proof that there just might be something to this. So when he tweeted me last week with a Groupon Deal to join the fun at his gym I decided to take the plunge.

So what does this girlie runner and yoga-regular think of of her first taste of this hard core Crossfit world?
  1. It is super intimidating for a newbie. Yaw practically tripled my timed workout performance, and my ego is still stinging. 
  2. And it is hella hard, but I'll definitely be back! 
This year is all about trying new things. Breaking through barriers.
And coming back stronger and better than ever.

So Week 2 - Let's do this!
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Stay Truthful Thursday

It’s Thursday, so you know what that means. It is time to be truthful about my first week of half marathon training. And the truth is… It has been an awesome week!
I have been running longer distances and gradually increasing my weekly mileage. I ran my first long run and longest distance ever this past weekend – 14 km! I am not going to lie (kind of the point of Stay Truthful Thursdays) my legs were feeling it towards the end. I started to feel my muscles tire and the lactic acid was definitely building up. I found myself wondering if my planned 8 km recovery run was really going to happen the following day…But it did! My legs were sore, like good post-workout sore, but I still got out there and logged those miles.
So far this week all my runs have felt great! I am not sure if I am just excited about training, if I am on a total endorphin high, or if it is just wishful thinking - but I feel like I am already noticing changes in my body. I have been feeling strong and running faster. I even PR’d my 5 km route on Tuesday, managing to finish it in 25:40! That is 4 minutes faster then I ran my Birthday Race!
Needless to say these positive results are helping to keep me motivated and excited for what’s to come. I will be doing another 14km run this weekend, but next weekend the miles will increase again. I hope I can keep these positive feeling going as I creep closer and closer to my 21 km goal
Love your favourite Darwinian Fail,

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Winning Nutrition Wednesday - Vegan Pumpkin Bread

Vegan Pumpkin Bread
I alluded in my last post  that I would be adding a weekly Nutrition/Food focused feature to my usual musings during the next 8 weeks. Obviously nutrition is a huge part of proper training so I want to ensure I am fueling my body to prepare for all these extra miles I am expecting it to run. And let's be honest this defective body of mine can use all the help it can get! So proper nutrition is probably the least I can do!

I have been doing lots of research, reading lot of articles, taking in lots of advice...And the facts in a nutshell are these...

  • Food is Your Friend
  • Eat to Fuel Your Body
  • And Fuel Your Body with Real Unprocessed Foods/Dishes
Simple, concise, and makes sense! I like it! So that is it really, besides also cutting out alcohol for the next 8 weeks and hydrating like crazy - all in the name of half marathon glory. But generally that sums up my grand nutrition plan.

It all sounds easy-peasy, right? And in theory it is. But cutting out processed foods means a lot more prep work and planning is required from my end. I can't just grab something easy when I am out. A lot more thought and foresight is needed. And cooking meals entirely from scratch means a greater time commitment. There will be no more "instant" ingredients or prepared meals for this gal. I firmly believe these sacrifices will pay off in dividends, however, which is why I am willing to make this such a focus. And while making these healthy choices will be important for my run. It will also ensure I am healthy and strong for my upcoming surgery - a MUST for a speedy recovery.

Assembled Ingredients
So let's get started shall we? I am kicking off Winning Nutrition Wednesday with the most important meal of the day...Breakfast! I have been experimenting with vegan-fare lately, and I found a delicious Pumpkin Bread recipe from Alicia Silverstone's cookbook The Kind Diet. I am officially obsessed! I have been eating this everyday for breakfast for the last 2 weeks. It is so yummy!

Not to mention the benefits of adding an extra dose of pumpkin to my diet during this rigorous training period. I stumbled upon an old Runner's World article trumpeting the effects of a half-cup serving of canned pumpkin saying, it  

"supplies a staggering 300 percent of the DV for vitamin A from beta-carotene. Carotenoids such as beta-carotene act as antioxidants that protect you from cancer, heart disease, and other age-related conditions."

All of which sound good to me, so let's bring on the pumpkin!

MMM Fresh Baking!
5 cups cooked pumpkin
2 cups of brown sugar
"eggs" aka 2 tbsp of flaxseed pureed w 6 tbsp of water
1 cup almond milk
3/4 cup safflower oil
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups spelt flour
3 tsp baking soda
3 tsp baking power
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F, and oil two 9x5 inch glass loaf pans
  2. Combine pumpkin puree, sugar, "eggs", milk, oil, and vanilla in a mixing bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients; flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg
  4. Slowly stir dry ingredients into the wet, until all combined
  5. Fill pans with batter and bake for 45 min to 1 hour. You know it is ready when the bread takes on a spongy consistency. 
Okay so this bread is not like your typical baked goods, and this is the one spot I got stumped. The fork test doesn't work, because the bread remains moist in the middle especially when warm. So press on the top and see if it will spring back to test (aka the spongy consistency I referenced). The bread will continue to take shape as it cools so you don't want to overcook it. 

And Viola! Vegan Pumpkin Bread! 
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,


Monday, 9 January 2012

Motivation Monday is Back

My 8 wk sched is on the fridge!
Hey Friends!

In case you have been busy easing into your own busy routine as we kick off 2012, it is very possible you may have missed some pivitol news on my little blog here. A few major things have happened...

1. D-day (aka my surgery date) has FINALLY at long last been confirmed. Monday March 5th is the day!
2. I have decided to run my very first Half Marathon the day before. Burlington's Chilly Half Marathon Sunday March 4th here I come!

Yes, it is official! I am a registered runner and training has begun! I am excited and absolutely terrified. I have been talking about taking the leap into long distance running for a long time now. So I am throwing myself into training and making this dream of mine a reality.

In the last month-ish I have become part of an amazing online community - Fitfluential. And there are some serious perks to being part of this club. Most notably the amazing network of people who are readily at your disposal. It is those fit and fabulous folks who have spent the last few weeks inspiring me, encouraging me, and counseling me as I take the plunge into training. I have assembled my half marathon dream team which includes the lovely Amanda (aka Miss Zippy) and Michelle (aka NYC Running Mama) who are first and foremost AMAZING. No seriously, these two are like running rockstars. Their pace is unreal. We are talking times this Darwinian Fail can only dream about. Not to mention their serious street cred - Marathons and Ultra status here people!! Serious, serious mileage! And these two running goddess have offered to help me! (*insert a hybrid high pitch squeel of delight and collective sigh of relief*) With this kind of team backing me I can't go wrong!

These two have been helping me develop a quick and dirty 8 week training plan, as well as providing me with some serious moral support as I jump into my training with both feet. EEK! My plan for January is to run 3x a week in the form of 1 long run, 1 short run, and 1 mid-length/tempo run all while gradually uping my mileage as we move closer to the big race. I have joined the Daily Mile to log runs and keep you all up to date on my progress. (*hence the new app on the sidebar over there <----) I am also incorporating 2 hot yoga classes/week as my cross training activity and to help compensate for all the chilly runs I must endure. BRRR it is January in Toronto after all!

And as I embark on my latest and greatest fitness adventure I have decided to bring back trusty Motivation Monday - Marathon Edition to help keep me motivated and accountable. You guys really helped keep me focused during my goal dress journey, and with this lofty goal looming ahead I can use all the help I can get. I have 8 weeks to make this happen. 8 weeks to buckle down and train. 8 weeks til the big race. And 8 weeks till Dday. My timeline is finite, so I need to focus and keep striving for Half Marathon glory.

Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail

PS Note: I will also be implementing "Winning Nutrition Wednesdays" posts where I will discuss new recipes and my running nutrition plan during this training period. And "Stay Truthful Thursdays" post where I will update everyone on my weekly running progress. Hope you guys will follow along!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

The Search for that Elusive Marathon Glory

I am gonna cross that line this year!
In my Dreaded Resolution for 2012 I revealed my desire to strive for Half Marathon and Full Marathon status this year. And this year I am totally going to do it! DAG-NIBIT! I am going all out for 2012 and I am checking these two bad boys off my bucket list. I can do this! I will do this! I must do this!

I want to do this SO badly that I have pushed up my initial time to accommodate my surgery, and I am running my half in 8 weeks. 8 weeks people. Oh yeah, and I am doing it all the day before my double mastectomy! Can you tell I really want this?

So "why the obsession?" you might ask. Because if I was reading this craziness I would be wondering the same thing. And the truth is, running a half marathon has been a goal of mine for the last few years. And it is that one (*slightly evil*) and elusive item I place on my to-do list every single year, but have never had the satisfaction of scratching off. ARGH! I have made 3 serious attempts at half marathon glory over the past 5 years, but still this goal has remained just out of reach. Thus, adding fuel to my fire for 2012. (re: Krysten is type A crazy pants)

Glory Attempt #1:

My very first attempt at half marathon glory takes me all the way back to 2007. I had decided to sign up for Toronto's Goodlife Half Marathon  in March as a motivation tactic. My exercise routine had gotten stale. I was just finishing my final month of university. I was moving to the big city of Toronto with my then boyfriend and now husband -  Jamie (*insert happy sigh*). And I was leaving my small town roots behind. I was looking for a new challenge. And I was secretly hoping that signing up for a half marathon would help me recommit to my workouts and score chiseled abs just in time for bikini season.

Cousin Love!
Everything was hunky-dory for the month of March. I was hitting the gym, paying better attention to my diet, and generally feeling good. I was on track and excited! I had even convinced my cousin Amber to run it with me. Everything was going swimmingly until I went to my final cardio appointment before my case got transferred to my new Toronto-based cardiologists.

It was the day before the start of my final exam period and it was a check-up like any other. I typically visit the pacemaker clinic every 3-6 month, so this was no big deal. We chit-chatted, we said good-bye, and I set out on my merry way. Expect just as I finished walking across the street my defibrillator started firing ( I told you guys I had another one of these stories). It fired over and over again. I was thrown to the ground with the first blow panicked and unable to coherently express what was happening .

I thank my lucky stars that Jamie was with me and that he has a cool head in a crisis. Because he immediately hung up on my Mom (whom I was talking to at the time) and called 911. My defibrillator fired 9 times before the paramedics arrived and once more in the ER, rounding off the day at an even 10. I thought I was going to die. It was insanely painful and I thought I had just been given a clean bill of health 5 minutes earlier. It turns out that this horrible ordeal was just the result of human error...yep...Either the Cardiologist or the Tech had inadvertently changed the settings on my pacemaker to fire at 120 bpm instead of my usual 215 bpm. And 120 bpm is pretty standard in Krysten's world. I can hit that with a brisk walk or with a high level of anxiety.

This was an extremely traumatizing experience, and one that took me a long time to get over. I hated not being in control. I was constantly afraid my device would misfire. I hated the idea that there was something inside me that had this sort of power over both my body and my mind. Follow-up appointments were a nightmare. And I was a bundle of nerves for the entire year that followed. I suffered from insomnia, nightmares, and regular panic attacks. Following the events of that day I was terrified of even so much as the thought of exercise - especially running. So on that fateful day my dreams of striving for half marathon glory faded away.

Glory Attempt #2:

So as you all must know by now, I have clearly returned to my love of running. It took more than a year to move past that day. And I started by rekindling my love of exercise with hot yoga. 14 months later I set out on my first very tentative run and I have been running ever since. It took even longer for me to start fantasizing about half marathons again, but on New Years 2009 I resolved to take another crack at it.

This was a half hearted attempt at best. I was working 2 part-time contracts that year and was averaging 60 hour work weeks. I had also started pursuing my psychology degree at night, and had very little time to devote to much else. So while I kept promising myself I would start training when life calmed down a bit...that time never came...and the full year came and went without any serious effort made towards pursuing this goal.

Glory Attempt #3:

Swollen Angry Ankle
Is as recent as this past summer. If you have been reading along you know that I came up with the grand plan in April to stand up against my Darwinian Failures and battle my genetic shortcomings with diet and exercise. And part of this stellar plan was to run 3 races each for the people in my life affected my cancer. I completed Race #1 for Grandad and Race #2 for Mom (and myself by proxy)...But Race #3 my half marathon for blood cancer and Papa Bishop, who lost his battle to cancer this year was thwarted by over training.

I developed a stress fracture but kept running anyways. It was painful, but I thought it was all part of training. It was bothering me, but I didn't want to be a suck. Until it got so bad I could no longer bare weight and was hobbling around the office. I eventually decided it was time to get it checked out only to be told that because I was stubborn I had a stress fracture and a badly sprained ankle from overcompensating. Which all amounted to no running for 4-6 weeks (aka just enough time to completely ruin my half marathon training). And thus, another race season past me by with no shiny finisher medal to call my own.

So "why rehash all these failed attempts right before I set out on yet another journey towards elusive marathon glory" you might be wondering? Because there are important lessons to take away from each experience...
  • The negative voices in your head can be your worst enemy.
  • You are stronger than a series of unfortunate circumstances
  • You need to make time for yourself and training a priority
  • Listen to your body
  • Train for health, train for strength, but don't over train
I plan to take all these lessons into 2012 and finally achieve marathon glory! 2012 is going to be my year of TRIUMPH! Let's do this! Oh and genetics...kindly F**K OFF!

Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

D-day has been confirmed

So typical. Life has the be the silliest thing going. I swear. But thankfully I am in on the joke!

No sooner do I go ahead and start making all these grand plans and proclaiming my desire to complete Toronto's Goodlife Half Marathon this upcoming May, than do I get a call from the surgeons. The surgeons, my surgeons, the one's who have been dragging their feet on commiting to a date. Those surgeons. Yes, those surgeons (or rather their secretary) called me today to finally confirm a date. And that date is...

Monday March 5th  (aka D-day)

And while part of me was pleased as punch to finally (FINALLY) have a date to work with. The other part of me was cursing the bad timing of this date and my big half marathon plans. I will be restricted from exercise for the 6-8 weeks after surgery. Thus, ruining any chance of training properly before May 6th.

The irony of this turn of events is not lost on this little soul. I have been bitching and moaning for months now about how "I want a date. I just need to know when things will transpire. I need to plan my life". Then I finally allow myself to accept that whatever will be will be, I start making plans again, and...BAM! They call me. They call me only to tell me that they are throwing a giant monkey wrench in my big plans. GAH!

But NO! You guys didn't think I was going take this lying down did you? Heck no! I am not going to let my half marathon dreams be dashed so quickly. 2012 is going to be my year, remember?!

So I immediately clicked over to the Running Room website to see what kind of half marathon options I had that worked with this new date. And loe and behold up popped the links for "Upcoming Events" and second on the list the Burlington Chilly Half Marathon on Sunday March 4th! Again, irony not lost on me. It was too perfect! This was destined to me my half!

I am not going down without a fight! I am going out on top! I am going lace up my sneakers with new dedication. I am going to train with the utmost commitment. And in 8 weeks I am going to rock my first half marathon. And when I drift off to a drug-induced sleep the following day I will be smiling because I will know that I am strong. Stronger than my genetics. Stronger than this set of circumstances. I will be proud of my body for what it can do and instead of just how it looks.

Let's do this people!
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Monday, 2 January 2012

The Dreaded Resolution

Planning Planning Planning
Confession #1: I am a Resolution Queen.

I love that clean slate feeling that comes along with a new year, a new month, a new week, heck even a new day or a new project. I am always making lists, discussing new tactics, developing strategies. I am self-proclaimed Type-A perfectionist. And one who regularly creates ambitious plans that spread herself too thin and with little room to faulter. I am an all-or-nothing kind of gal. I always get swept away in the excitement of creating this ideal idea of a balanced and fabulous life/routine. But as I mentioned in my last post I am slowly (ever so slowly) starting to evolve as person, and I am beginning to wonder if starting 2012 off with an "Amazing or Bust" attitude is really the way to go.

Confession #2: I am struggling to get excited about 2012

So despite my love of the new year and the idea of a fresh start...I don't feel like I am beginning 2012 with a clean slate. I feel like I am carrying over a lot of baggage and incomplete goals from 2011. I am having a hard time getting excited for what's to come this year. Everyone is running around sharing all these positive sentiments about 2012. "Happy New Year". "Its going to be a GREAT year". "We are going to have the best year yet". You know all of those lovely things people say after the clock strikes 12:00 on January 1st. And I am trying (really trying) to bask in these positive vibes, but all I can think about is the long road ahead. And I don't feel all that jazzy about it. I am thinking about the grand plans and resolutions I want to make, but wondering how feasible it will all be looking ahead at the challenges yet to come.

My first run of 2012
Okay, okay, okay... I also know that being a Negative Nancy for rest of 2012 is not a great plan either. So I have decided to adopt a slightly more balanced approach to this year's Resolutions. Instead of setting lofty goals for the entire year when I have no time line for my surgery and I am unsure what this year will bring. I have decided to work on monthly goals instead. At the beginning of each month I will assess my progress, my tentative time lines, and my goals - making changes when necessary. Thus, allowing myself some wiggle room for that small and trivial thing called...LIFE. I am hoping this process will keep me focused and positive (clearly a department I am lacking lately).

So without further are my goals/resolutions for 2012. I have split them into two categories: Big Goals and Little Goals. The Big Goals are long-term plans with *tentative*  and *hopeful* time lines, but may require some fanangling as the year progresses. The Little Goals are my goals for the month. These include the smaller steps required to get me to those Big Goals.

Big Goals:
Okay so obviously being healthy is really important to me - even more important now than ever. And with all of 2012's upcoming challenges I know I want to face them being the healthiest me I can be. The strive for half marathon and full marathon status is something I have longed to accomplish for a while now, and 2012 is going to be my year to do it! I MUST! I MUST! And because I live in Toronto and our fair city offers 2 major races - I want to run my half in the spring and train to run my full in the fall. This is an ambitious plan and I feel a little nauseous posting this here. My little blog has helped to keep me accountable this past year, so I know you all will help me reach my goals! And I am also hoping that training for these races will help me bounce back post-operatively. The reason I have place *tentative* in front of those time lines is again because my surgery is still a giant question mark and running either distance will not be possible if I am still in my early recovery stages. So...I am hopeful that I will be given a date in the next month-ish and that these time line can be fixed and feasible. Finger crossed for me people!

And the Grad School is part of the bigger picture and creating the life I want. I started my second degree in Psychology a few year ago. I went back to school at night, while working full-time, to be eligible for my ideal grad school program. This has probably been one of the hardest things I have ever done. Trying to balance everything; work, family, health, school, and life has worn me out. And if you have been reading, you know that I chose to take this semester off for a much needed break and to focus on my health before my upcoming surgery. But this is also one of my greatest areas of frustration. I saw myself at a certain place in this process at this point...and I am not there yet. But by this time next year I will be applying for Grad School. I MUST! I MUST! 2012 is going to be my year of TRIUMPH! 2012 you have been warned!

Little Goals:
  • Try new recipes, cut out processed foods, and eat clean for the entire month of January
  • Drink 2 litres of water daily
  • I'm trying some new vegan recipes
  • Up my mileage this month and incorporate longer runs (all while tracking it on the Daily Mile)
  • Balance out my longer runs (and the cold weather) with Hot Yoga and Hot Pilates
Okay so that is the plan folks. I will update you all on this months progress, and I will revisit my goals with you on the 1st of every month. Wish me luck!

Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,