Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas GIVEAWAY - Let's Get Organized

Hello World!!
It has been CRAZY here in Toronto! We have dealing with Ice Storm 2013. The power was out for almost 24 hours. I have been sans internet for the last 3 days - a serious struggle for a girl who is constantly attached to her phone (#firstworldproblems). But going analog for the last few days was not the end of world. The hubby and I spent the first few days of our holidays snuggled up inside, playing board games, catching up on some reading, and drinking wine by candle light.

Admittedly not the worst way to start my Christmas Break. But now we are back on track! So I can finally blog about my AWESOME CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY!!!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I never go anywhere without my planner. I have literally had an colour coordinated analog planner every year since the 7th grade. And I am convinced I would lose my head without it. In fact I may or may not have had a mild freak out last week when I couldn't find it one afternoon. Things may have devolved into tears and furiously tearing apart my entire apartment. Turns out it was just in my car, and had happened to fall out of my purse, so the crisis was shortly averted. Whew! 

I have tried to go digital a couple of times... But I just don't like it. There is just something about that little book. I need to write it down, hold it in my hand, be able to turn the pages, and see it in black and white. 

So when Lisa from Personal_Planner.com (link) contacted me to ask if I would be interested in customizing my own planner I obviously jumped at the chance. Now, because I am a little organization nut, I had obviously long purchased my 2014 agenda. But I needed a separate one to be able to track my Ironman 70.3 training! So I was really excited to try out their service.

I customized the cover with one of my favourite Motivational Pinterest images, and made workouts a daily focus. There is plenty of space to track each workout, tally my mileage, note my heart rate, and add notes about my training sessions, upcoming races, diet, sleep, aches/pains, etc. You name it! I can track it. It is one of the reasons I like to have a whole separate training planner.  It is the perfect way to keep track of your training and keep your race schedule organized. 
It is a Run Nerd Dream Come True!!

I love how mine turned out! 
Lisa has also offered a chance for one of you to customize your own planner for 2014! It is the perfect way to kickstart your 2014 fitness goals and make this your best year yet!! So let's get organized! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good Luck!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Thursday, 19 December 2013

My Year of Running - 2013

The lovely Miss Zippy posted her annual Year of Running link up and you know I had to join the fun. As always running was HUGE part of my 2013 year. So here we go...

Best Race Experience:
I think it kind of goes without saying that my Marathon takes the cake here. 2013 was not a great year, and I spent a lot of time doubting my ability to hit my goal time and to get the race I wanted. I spent almost all of those many kilometers smiling. And I could not have dreamed of a better experience. Crossing the finish line on November 3rd was about overcoming so much more than just 42.2km. It meant that anything was possible.

Best Run:
This is also technically a race, but since I was just 12 weeks post-op, I am calling it a Run. The one and only Pavement Runner came to visit, run the Toronto Goodlife Marathon, and run it in tutus no less. The internet is a strange and magical place. You "meet" people, get to know all about their lives, their goals, their dreams, but you may never get to actually meet them in real life. I am have a ton of "internet friends" - as strange and creepy as that sounds.
Pavey is one of those friends. He is one of those people who's energy and kindness just comes through. So having the opportunity to run with him this year (and to meet his beautiful wife - waves frantically at the screen), was definitely one of my highlights this year. We got to become in-real-life friends, and it was boost needed during a tough a year. PS We need to plan a second round of racing sometime soon!

Best New Piece of Gear:
I think I would have to pick my Mizuno Wave Sayonaras. I have long been a Mizuno-girl, but these shoes really hit the sweet spot for me. They were light and extremely comfortable. Plus I felt they had just enough support for me. I ran all my major races in these - including my marathon - and I know I am a Sayonara convert!

Best Piece of Running Advice You Received:
This year I learned how to "Slow Down" in more ways than one.
The idea of "Slow Down" started after the first race I ran with my coach Michelle. I was tired, sipping coffee, and taking instagram pictures when out popped Michelle! It was just a 5km race so I was not too worried about warming up. But Michelle informed me I need to run 5km before we started, race, and then do a 5km "Slow Down". What the Heck?! Who knew?! Admittedly this is not how I roll. But it gave me a serious kick in the pants about the kind of training I needed to do if I wanted to see a change.

Michelle also just taught me to slow down in general. I would always run every run as fast as I could. As long as I didn't max out my heart rate - I was good to go. So apparently that doesn't work in the long run. Some runs are meant to be hard (tempo, track, hills, etc.) and other runs are just about getting mileage in. You need to go hard are your hard days, but you also need to remember to take it easy on your easy days. That was definitely a huge lesson for me this year.

Most Inspirational Runner:
I think I gotta pick my Mizuno Girls - Christina and Michelle. Our runs together, talks, phone calls, emails, and text messages kept me going when I gave some serious thought to just giving up. Their enthusiasm and support kept me inspired and motivated to keep pushing! Love these girls!

Sum Up Your Years in a Couple of Words:
Persevere. I think that about does it. I wrote that one word on my hand before my Marathon this year, and I think it says so much about 2013 as year and about what running and racing means to me.

How was your year?
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

#WIAW - Christmas Cookie Recipes

Psst... its WIAW and I have a secret. And I think I should let you all in on it... We have entered the most magical time of the year. That time of the year where cookies, chocolate, and dessert are all calorie free! Yep! It's a little known fact, but from December 15th-January 1st you can eat as much you as want and just enjoy everything! Isn't that awesome?!

At least that is how things work around here! It is cookie central! And it is one of my favourite times to experiment in the kitchen. There are some classics - my Moms Gingerbread, Gran's Nanimo Bars, and Nana's Peanut Butter Balls - that you just don't touch. But everything else is fair game! And I love to try new cookie recipes!

After scouring the Internet, pursuing my holiday magazines, and scoping out my library of cookbooks - I narrowed it down to 3 new Christmas treat recipes. They all turned out pretty well if I do say so myself, so I thought I would spread the cookie love this week.

*Soft Ginger Cookies from Runner's World
If you like Gingerbread, than you are going to LOVE these. They are spicy and delicious!

3/4 cup hot coffee
1 cup chopped, pitted dates
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs at room temperature
1/4 cup organic blackstrap molasses
1 1/2 cups organic spelt flour or whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger
1/4 cup turbinado sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Combine coffee and dates and stir in baking soda. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Put mixture in a food processor; process until nearly smooth.
3. In a bowl, whisk eggs and molasses. Continue whisking and add date puree. In a small bowl, whisk flour, salt, and spices. Stir into date mixture. Stir in ginger pieces until just combined.
4. Freeze till very firm but scoopable (30 minutes). Using a teaspoon, drop dough into little mounds, a few inches apart, on a parchment-lined tray. Sprinkle sugar over cookies.
5. Bake 10 minutes or until they feel spongy yet firm and spring back when gently poked. Makes 30 cookies.

* Cranberry Squares from The Best of Bridge
1/2 cup of cold butter
1/4 cup of sugar
1 cup of flour

Cranberry Filling...
1.5 cup of fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1. Cut butter into sugar and flour until crumbly. Pat into an 8" square pan and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until golden.
2. In a saucepan, cook cranberries and 1/4 cup of brown sugar over medium heat until berries soften and skins pop (about 10 min.) then set aside to cool.
3. Beat eggs and gradually add 1 cup of brown sugar. Beat until thickened, then add vanilla and the dry ingredients.
4. Stir in cranberry mixture, and then spread over baked crust. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.

* Almost-Famous Peppermint Bark from The Food Network
My no-fail Double Boil Set-Up

12 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
1 pound good-quality white chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
3 candy canes or 12 round hard peppermint candies, crushed

1. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with aluminum foil, shiny-side up; smooth out any wrinkles. Heat 1 inch of water in a saucepan over low heat until steaming.
2. Put all but 3/4 cup of the semisweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over the saucepan of steaming water (do not let the bowl touch the water) and stir until one-third of the chocolate is melted. Remove the bowl from the saucepan; keep the steaming water over low heat. Gradually stir the reserved 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate into the bowl, a few pieces at a time, until all of the chocolate is melted. Return the bowl to the saucepan, 5 to 10 seconds at a time, to help melt the chocolate, if needed. Do not rush this step: It may take up to 10 minutes to melt the chocolate.
3. Wipe off any moisture from the bottom of the bowl. Stir 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract into the chocolate, then quickly pour into the prepared baking dish and spread in an even layer. Firmly tap the dish against the counter to remove any air bubbles. Set aside at room temperature until almost set, about 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, put all but 1 cup of the white chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and repeat the melting process over the steaming water; dry off the bottom of the bowl. Stir in the remaining 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract; pour over the semisweet chocolate and spread in an even layer. Sprinkle immediately with the crushed candy canes, gently pressing them into the white chocolate. Set aside at room temperature until firm, about 1 hour. Lift the bark out of the pan using the foil and break it into pieces.

 What are your favourite Holiday Treats?
Happy Holidays!! I hope you all enjoy!!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Monday, 16 December 2013

Triathlon Talk - Week 2

Well week one flew by! The weather has not exactly made my transition back into training all that pleasant. It has been FREEZING here this week. And we also got hit with a pretty significant snow storm this weekend. So my runs have been cold, slushy, slippery, and did I mention COLD?! (Thank Goodness for Breath Thermal). It has also made the idea of hitting the pool less appealing. I love the pool once I get started. But getting there and putting on a bathing suit in -20C has been a struggle. So probably because of all of those factors the bike has been a major focus. Like I mentioned last week I think the bike is my weakest area. I also got a lot of questions last week about my trainer and my bike set up, so let me break it down for you...

My Bike Trainer is a Kinetic SL 20. Why did I decide to buy this one? Well I know absolutely nothing about biking or trainers, so I asked my triathlon buddy Axel for advice. He shared my question in the Fitfluential Triathlon Facebook Group and several people responded suggesting Kinetic as a brand. I then did a quick kijiji search for "Kinetic Bike Trainers" and asked that it be sorted from cheapest to most expensive.

The first ad that popped up was for this kinetic trainer asking for $40 and the seller happened to live literally 7 minutes from me. Cheap and Easy! I was sold! There was nothing super jazzy about this particular setup, but it works for me.

My bike did not come with pedals, so I opted for the Shimano M520s. Because this is my first experience with clips I wanted something basic and easy, and I was told this is it. Let's just say I am happy I am learning how to do this indoor on a stationary trainer. I can clip in just fine, but I have yet to master the art of clipping out. The first time I tried I thought I was going to have to untie my shoes to get off the bike. In other words I would have face planted had I been trying this outside. I got a couple months of winter to practice, and I am hoping to have things down by the time I head out for the spring...

Bike Computer/GPS...
Obviously since I am biking indoors my GPS is not an option for tracking my training. So I spent the weekend setting up my Polar RCX5. It comes with it's own cadence sensor so I am able to track my RPMs along with all of my necessary Heart Rate stats. I am working on keeping my RPMs high over an extended period of time. Right now my goal is to remain at 90 RPM for the duration of the ride. It works for Running, Swimming, and any other training I might be doing, so I can keep all my training stats in one place. I also got this snazzy new coloured HR strap! I realize no one really sees it besides me. But for some reason wearing a strap that matches my new bike makes me happy. Don't judge me! I just like it!

So that about sums up all the major bike related stuff from last week. I think my biggest challenge for the next few weeks is going to be balancing my training schedule with my Christmas schedule.
Let's Do This!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Thursday, 12 December 2013

And the Polar Loop Winner is...

Holy Moley Friends!
You guys were seriously excited about the New Polar Loop! The response to this Giveaway was HUGE! I wish I had more than one to giveaway... Unfortunately I do not... So for those of you not getting a Loop I can only offer you this Adorable Picture of Clark in his new Christmas Sweater!

This pictures makes me so happy. I have been begging my hubby to let me get Clark a sweater for appropriately 3 years - and he finally caved. Lesson: Perseverance Pays Off! I think he looks pretty fantastic! It was worth the wait. I hope this helps brighten your day!

And without further adieu the Winner is...

Entry #613 Whitney aka @dznuni

I sent you an email! Please send me your shipping information so I can coordinate the shipment of your prize!
Happy Friday Friends!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Triathlon Talk - Week 1

While I admittedly have spent the last month-ish resting, I have also been planning my next great adventure.

As a kid growing up in the country we did not have cable TV. We spent the better part of my life rocking the antenna, which meant we literally got anywhere from 2-6 channels depending on how windy it was that day. Which is how I am guessing I am ended up watching the Ironman World Championship in Kona for the first time oh-so-long-ago. But with that very first telecast I was absolutely inspired and hooked. And I have watched it every year since. The lure of that kind of disciple and that kind of determination has always had a hold over me. And there is just something about completing that kind of distance that says Anything is Possible.

It is a secret (**not so secret**) dream of mine to one day be able to say that "I am an Ironman". And after dipping my toe in the triathlon arena this year, I am ready to move one step closer to my Ironman Dream. In 2014 I want to complete my first Half Ironman. Aka 70.3 miles of Swimming, Biking, and Running. And I would love to finish sub-6:30. I am excited and I am also slightly terrified. I will be training to complete...

2 km Swim
90 km Bike
21.1 km Run

Gulp! Just looking at those numbers proves daunting...But I am going for it! This week I have officially started training, picked a race, and got myself my very own bike! Let's break it down shall we...

Last year I met my run coach - Michelle - and I had an absolutely amazing time training with her. She has become an close friend, and she was a huge source of support when the going got tough last year. Probably because she is even crazier than I am, she has agreed to whop my body into Ironman shape and train me for this event. We started this week, and the 2-a-days are daunting, but I am ready to get back at it.

For a while I was leaning toward the Ironman 70.3 Muskoka event. Mostly because I really wanted to do an Ironman branded event, and that one seemed to make the most sense logistically. But after speaking to a bunch of my triathlon buddies about my plan, I started to rethink things a bit. Everyone warned me that the bike course is brutal. And the bike is my weakest discipline by far, especially hills, as I learned during the bike portion of the Women's Triathlon in August. They also mentioned that the 90km bike portion is actually more like 96km. Which might not sound like much, but when you have a half marathon to do after that...you can see how it is not super appealing.

It turns out Multisport Canada is organizing new 70.3 race - The Niagara Falls Half Iron on September 21st. Time-wise this date is ideal because it gives me all summer to train and get a few different triathlon events under my belt before I tackle this huge distance. It looks like a gorgeous course, and the grade looks about 1000x more manageable. It also makes the most sense logistically, since my mom lives about 20 minutes from the Start Line. It seems to be the better option all around, especially for my very first 70.3. So this is it! Race officially chosen!

Last year the lovely Christina (aka the athletarian) was sweet enough to let me borrow her bike for the entire summer! But with the bike being my weakest area, I knew I needed to invest in my own and start training over the winter.

I had been eye-ing the Scott Speedster 45 at the local bike shop near my Mom's house. So she and my hubby teamed up for my Birthday/Christmas gift this year and got it for me! Can you tell I am excited! It is so pretty! I also got shoes, clips, pedals, and gloves! BEST. BIRTHDAY. EVER.

It is, however, a little chilly and snowy here in Canada right now. So I knew I was going to need an indoor trainer if I wanted to be able to put my new bike to use. Thank goodness for Kijiji, because I was able to find one for just $40! HURRAY!

So that's it! Coach - Check! Race - Check! Bike - Check! Now it is just time to train my freaking butt off!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Monday, 9 December 2013

36 Days of Glorious Rest

I heard somewhere along my running journey that you should take 1 Day Off for Every Kilometer in your Goal Race. It doesn’t have to be full rest, but you also shouldn’t start training seriously until after you have given your body a chance to recuperate. So if your goal race was a half marathon, than you should take 21 days to recover. And if your goal race was a full marathon, than you should plan to take 42 days off. I am not sure if it is true or not, but that it what I did. 

It has been 36 days of rest for this girl. And I am not going to lie; it has been kind of FANTASTIC. I have spent the month of November drinking wine, eating all kinds of delicious foods, hanging out with friends, spending time with family, and just generally relaxing. Needless to say training was not at the top of my priority list. Sure, I got a couple runs in, I went to a couple hot yoga sessions, but generally I didn't fuss to much about training.  

It was nice while it lasted and a very necessary break. But I have big goals for 2014, and coach informed me that it is officially time to get back at it. And as much as I enjoyed my time off, I think I have also had enough of being the reigning Queen of Slug-dom.

Last week was my Birthday, however, so I decided to go out with a BANG! I needed one more week of food, friends, and fun. My friends and family are over the place, so I spent an entire week celebrating with as many of them as possible. And like a good little Polish girl I made sure to honor each celebration with FOOD!

As you can see it was a seriously delicious week! And I think my smile speaks for itself. Now I am rested (**and also very full**) so it is time to start training. This week is officially Ironman 70.3 Training – Week 1!

Let’s do this!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail

Don't forget you have til Thursday December 12th to Enter my Birthday Polar Loop Contest

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Birthday @PolarGlobal LOOP Giveaway!

Okay I just can't wait!! This GIVEAWAY is just too good!

Funny Story: When I was just 16, shortly after getting my drivers license, my girlfriends and I drove to near by Niagara Falls one Friday Night to see a psychic. Kind of random, but it was just girlie fun, so why not?

She told me that fitness was going to be a big part of my life, specifically running - at that point and time I was not exactly a health nut and I pretty much avoided running like the plague. So I figured she was making assumptions based on my cozy sweatpants. She also told me that I would struggle medically, specifically something heart-related. This was pre-diagnosis so I just shrugged it off and rolled with it. And she said, that while I would live a long happy life, my twenties would be tumultuous and I would struggle on and off with illness and medical setbacks. We left that night laughing and comparing our future predictions.

But over the past few years I have often thought back to that reading. You gotta admit she has been eerily on point so far?! So with that in mind, I am not exactly sad that it is my Birthday, and heading into my final year as a twenty-something.

28 was not exactly a stellar year. So even though I fear I may need Botox at any moment (kidding... kind of...) I am actually looking forward to 29 and the promise of a new year. 2013 broke me, but 2014 is all about rebuilding. With my Health and Heart Health at the forefront. So I want to celebrate this new year by sharing one of my favourite fitness gadgets with one of you.

I have been testing out Polar's new activity monitor for the past few weeks, and it is an amazing way to help ensure fitness becomes part of your everyday. It let's you track your activity level, your steps, your calories, and even your sleep - all to help you make improvements and lead your HEALTHIEST life.

Key Features:
  • Intelligently measures activity, taking into account an individual's gender and age
  • Accurately tracks 5 different levels of activity, sp that it can distinguish between gentle walking and running
  • Provides guidance on how to complete daily activities targets
  • Waterproof
  • Step Counter
  • Calorie Counter
This is the perfect way to ensure you stay healthy over the holidays. You can ensure you get enough sleep during the usual sleep deprived holiday season! And you can enjoy those gingerbread cookies happily knowing that you hit your activity goal! Small changes make a big difference! So enter below for your chance to WIN your very own Polar Loop and make 2014 your healthiest year ever!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,