Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Triathlon Tools

One of the biggest differences I have noticed between Running vs Triathlon is all the Gear. Triathlon is a whole other beast and race day requires next-level organization. And to be honest, I am a complete noob, so I am just working on figuring it all out.

Last year when I tried triathlon, I really just pieced things together. I borrowed a bike from Christina (aka The Athletarian). I borrowed a wet-suit from my cousin. And the only thing I had that was actually my own  was a pair of speed laces and a my Moomotion Tri-Suit. But since Muskoka 70.3 is my major race event this year, I thought this year would be the year to start investing in some things.

So I have slowly (to space out the cost) but surely been accumulating Tri Gear for my upcoming race.
This is what I have put together so far...

1. Mizuno Lightning 2 Day Pack - So this is technically one of Mizuno's Volleyball bags, but I think it will work pretty well as a transition bag. It is really big and has a separate pocket in the bottom for wet gear post-race.
2. Mizuno Wave Hitogami - Last year I did most of my running in the Sayonaras - which I still love. But the Hitogami might be creeping up as my new favourites. They have a really nice tailored fit and they are really light (which I am hoping will help my tired legs when I get off the bike).
3. Speedo Goggles - I have had these for awhile, and I have no idea what kind they are, but they work.
4. 2XU G:2 Compression Tri Suit - Yep, I bought a one piece. And I am not entirely convinced I can pull it off, but a lot triathletes recommended the one-piece for the longer tri-distance because the fit is less likely to shift around and cause chaffing.
5. Giro Petra Cycling Shoes - Despite being completely terrified, I am trying to clip-in this year. Not 100% sure how that is going to go at this point, as I am hopelessly clumsy, but I am going to try.
6. SunSki Canada Polarized Sunglasses 
7. 2XU A:1 Active Wetsuit - This is a big change. I was sweating like crazy just trying to get this thing on, and it is heavy-duty with lots of neoprene and special water channels. Not sure if this will help my performance, but I know at the very least it will keep me warm when I brave the chilly Canadian waters in a few weeks.
8. Bontrager Solstice Helmet - I actually bought this last year, and it seemed to do the trick. Although it is clear I need it more now that I am clipping in (4 falls so far and counting)
9. 2 Towels - Use one to put my gear on, and one to dry off after the swim.
10. Lotus Sport Bra - During my first triathlon I tried to use the built in bra, but I did not find that very comfortable (particularly on the Run portion). So I will be prepared this time. I really love the way these bras fit, just enough support without swishing everything.
11. Reflective Race Number Belt - I found this was definitely necessary for easy transitions.

For all of you Triathlon-Regulars am I missing anything important? 
Any tips for prepping my transition area?

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Monday, 26 May 2014

Giving Up the Gimmicks

If you have been following along this year, than it should come as no surprise that I have been struggling with the whole training-confidence thing. I have been trying a million and one different things and floundering a bit.

I started running and training at a very complicated time in my life. In fact I ran my first half marathon the day before my double mastectomy. And as you know the past 2 years since then have not exactly been peaches and cream, so I have just trying to keep my head above water. Any training, any race result - was great, because I managed to make it out there at all. But this year, this year I have expectations. There is no cardiac surgery, no battle with BRCA1, no life altering loss - which to me means no excuses. Just showing up isn't good enough. This year I am expecting big things. This year I want to see what I am made of. This year it is all supposed to come together.

As you can see the pressure is on (or at least in my head it is). And as a result I have been trying everything under the sun to give me an edge. I went vegan. I started fixating on the scale and the whole "weight-to-power" ratio thing.  I tried fasted-cardio. I asked my coach to ramp my mileage. And give me more speed work. And give me more workouts on the bike. And I need to weight train. And I need more yoga. And... I think you can see things were getting out of hand over here.

So Wednesday night I had a long Heart-to-Heart with Coach Michelle. She informed me that there is no way I train the way I am asking to train. It is way too many hours, way too much intensity, and way too much mileage. I will get injured or burn out. So I need to relax, give up the gimmicks, pick ONE training strategy, concentrate on that, and trust the process.

So that is what I am going to do (Scout Honor!) from here on out!
  • I have chosen to focus on Quality Mileage, as opposed to Quantity. 
  • I am going to spend more time on the Bike, as I think this is the area that I am weakest
  • And I am going to focus on eating healthy, whole, unprocessed food, without stressing out too much about calories or anything else.
I have been making progress this year. Last Tuesday speed session proved how far I have come. I ran my intervals at a 4:30km/pace (7:15mile/pace), which is huge considering I was struggling to maintain a 6:00km/pace (9:39mile/pace) this time last year. So it clear despite my stress that progress is being made. And that these improvements are NOT from any of my short term gimmicks. It is progress I have made by listening to my body, eating well (most of the time), and training consistently. There are no gimmicks or shortcuts involved. You simply need to take care of your body and do the work.

Deep down I know this, which is why I am giving up the gimmicks.

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Thursday, 22 May 2014

That Pesky Wire...

2 weeks ago all of my 6 months appointments aligned. (*Ah the life of a Darwinian Fail*). I met with my GP, my cardio team, and the breast cancer clinic.

I had been feeling good, so I was expecting these visits to be rather uneventful. And for the most part they were. The only problem is…That Pesky Wire is Back. You know the one – the one that raised the red flag before, and was the first sign of trouble before my last surgery.

The truth is I have known since I drifted off into la-la land before my last surgery, that the whole process was not extremely well thought out. As I was in pre-op, and even up until I was put under for surgery #6 there was a pretty hefty debate happening between plastics and cardio about how to handle the placement of of my pacemaker/wire. And once the swelling sub-sided it was pretty obviously that the team didn't exactly nail it.

The wire was prominent again, although this time on the front of chest just underneath my incision scar. I am still weak on the left side, well over a year later. And when I am fatigued, especially after a long training week, I still experience swelling and tenderness.Things are not perfect, but they are pretty good. I have been training hard, PR-ing races, and generally feeling healthy and happy.

So when I had to meet with my surgeon on Wednesday, I felt that familiar rise in panic. 

We walked through things – there are always a lot of things to walk through when it comes to me. And she decided that while things are not perfect, they are working, for now. My size is really the biggest obstacle here. I am not very big, and there is just a whole bunch of bionic matter jammed in my chest, so it is hard to find room for everything. My robot heart is about the size of Blackberry and then it has 2 sets of wires to boot - so it is kind of cumbersome. I have to go back every 3 months to ensure that things remain status-quo. And like last time, I will know if things start to go awry. 

There was a time in my life where this kind of appointment would have really thrown me. 

But as hard as last year was for me, it was also incredibly freeing. Last year taught me that there are certain things you cannot control. And you do not have to let the fear of "What If" stop you from living the life that you want. Things could change tomorrow, or they could remain just as they are for the next 5 years, either way you can't stop living because something MIGHT happen. 

It has taken me 11 long years to learn this lesson, but I think I have finally come to place where I am at peace with my struggle. The fear no longer consumes me. I know that I am stronger than this diagnosis, and whatever comes next I will persevere and continue to move forward. There will always setbacks, obstacles, and sadness. But in between those battles I am busy living a beautiful life that I am so grateful for.
 I have learned to stop focusing on the "What If's" and started focusing on "What Is".

And right now I happy, I am healthy, and I have a whole lot of living to do.
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

#WIAW - Blueberry Ice Tea Lemonade

I mentioned last week during WIAW that I have been struggling to find a healthy balance during "Celebration Season". I love celebration season, but my tummy...not so much.

The truth is I like food and good food makes me happy! I honestly have next to no will-power when it come to something yummy. I eat food because I like the way it tastes. Which I know sounds kind of silly, but I definitely have friends (I am thinking of you Truly Jess and Candy Fit Kierston) who can stick a meal plan and clean eats like nobody's business - I am not one of those people... I have never been the type of person who can convince themselves to eat something just because it is good for you or because it is "on plan". I have to want to eat it, and generally that all comes down to taste and what I am craving.

That being said, I know I have to focus on my diet to keep my guts happy and healthy, so I am working on finding a happy medium. I have been traveling a bit for work and have busy life-wise lately which normally means that my fueling starts to get a little sloppy. So I am trying to be organized before I head out of town this weekend. I am actually heading to Windsor for Polar and the Heart Breaker Challenge. Anyone going to this? Come by and visit me at the Polar Booth! 100% of proceeds stay local and go to Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare’s Cardiac Wellness and Pulmonary Rehab program - which you know I LOVE!

I have found a couple Vegan/Vegan-Friendly restaurants. I stocked up on a few healthy snacks to take on the road. And I planning to grab a big jug of Green Juice from Fresh to take on the road.

To manage my tummy troubles with just diet alone requires a lot of organization, which is one of the reasons I struggle when I get busy. So my goal this summer is work on finding alternatives that not only take care of my tummy, but are easy and also keep my tastebuds happy as well.

This has been one of my Spring favourites lately...

Blueberry Ice Tea Lemonade

It is really easy to make. I have been a long-time David's Tea fan, and it also happens to be dangerously located just up the street from my house. So it safe to say I often find myself there regularly sampling a ton of their delicious fruity loose-leaf teas. I always love their spring/summer flavours. I also happen to LOVE lemonade. The only problem is that most lemonade has quite a bit of sugar...aka something that can make my tummy angry. So lately I have mixing these 2 amazing things together. 
  1. I brew a big jug of David's Tea. My top 3 flavours are... Blueberry Jam, Just Peachy, and Pink Flamingo. A big jug (like the one pictured) usually requires 3 tea bags. And then allow the tea to cool
  2. I mix 3/4 cup of tea for 1/4 cup of lemonade. I typically use the Simply Lemonade brand.
You get all the delicious flavours but with just a fraction of the sugar. The tastebuds are happy, my tummy is happy, and it is easy to make. Win! Win! Win!

What are your summer favourites?

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Monday, 19 May 2014

#BESTFOOT - Long Weekend

I don't know what it is like in your neck of the woods today, but here in Toronto it is a long weekend!!!

Which means rather than rushing through my morning workout and heading to work, I got to sleep in and slowly make my way to one of the most amazing, energetic, challenging, and restorative Vinyasa Yoga classes that I have been to in a long time. I mentioned last week that one of my goals for this month is to practice more yoga, and since I had the day off today I figured that would be the perfect way to start my week/end my weekend. And I have to tell you, today's class did not disappoint.

This isn't a class I often do since it is at 9:30am on a Monday, but as soon as I arrived I knew I was in the right place. The class was absolutely packed, approximately 50 people had all decided to spend their holiday Monday practicing yoga. The instructor Duncan had an amazing dance-beat playlist blasting while we flowed. And the energy was supportive, encouraging, and inviting.
I was absolutely drenched in sweat when I left, but I felt amazing. I realized that sometimes in order to be able to put my BESTFOOT forward, I need to take a step back and take some time for me.

That yoga class kind of sums up my weekend, really. I have been going a mile a minute lately, and this weekend was the first time in a long time that we had absolutely NOTHING planned. My goal was just to re-balance, re-focus, relax, and get caught up on both life and training. It wasn't glamorous or really exciting, but it was just what I needed.

Last Week's Training...
Monday - 10km easy Run
Tuesday - REST DAY
It was supposed to be a speed workout, but I got caught up at work and missed running with my group. I took it as a sign that I was meant to stay home.
Wednesday - 15km with 4x1 mile repeats in the AM
                   - 1st baseball game of the season, except it got rained out after only 3 innings
Thursday - REST DAY
Friday - 12km Run + Ab Circuit
Saturday - 1000m Swim with 20 lengths arms-only, followed by 10 minutes in the Sauna
              - Goodlife's 55min RPM Spin Class
Sunday - 18km long run with the Hubby

How was your weekend? 
What do you do to restore the balance to your life?
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

#WIAW - Celebration Season

It is WIAW and April always marks what I like to call "Celebration Season" around here. You know it is that time of year when every weekend seems to be a Birthday, BBQ, Wedding, Baby Shower, Cottage weekend, or a celebrations of some sort. And around here, celebrations always mean food, and generally in large quanities. This past weekend was no exception. I had a Baby Shower, Engagement Excitement (**Congrats Jess and Mike! So excited for you guys**), and Mother's Day x2.

I drank wine. I ate cheese. I had dessert. And I loved spending time with all the people I love. But by the time I got home Sunday night my stomach was bloated and angry. And my acid reflux was out of control. UGH! I know I have to be smart about my diet in order to manage the side-effects of my hietal hernia but it is tricky during Celebration Season. I generally just want to eat, drink, be merry, and throw dietary caution to the wind. But I inevitably end up paying for it later. I am still trying to find that balance that allows me to indulge from time to time, without reaking total havoc on my digestive system. Let's just call this a work in progress for now.

But in an effort to get back on track tummy-wise I am going to try to pay better attention to my diet. This is one of my new Favourite Salads. It is super easy to make. It is nutrient dense. And it is yummy!

Thai Carrot Zoodle Salad
This made enough for 3 portions - it fed both my hubby and I for dinner. And I had it for lunch the next day

2 zucchini (julienne)
2 carrots (julienne)
1 can of chick peas (drained)
3 bunched of Sea Kelp

1 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp siracha hot sauce
1/2 tsp of lemon grass
1 tsp of giner (minced)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Julienne the Zucchini and the Carrots. I have this handy-dandy juilenne-er, which makes this salad super easy to prep. The truth is I kind of wanted a sprializer, because lets be honest sprialized veggies are pretty. But I opted for this because A) it was less expensive and B) it was easier to store and it basically does the same thing.
2. Roast the Chick Peas in a pan on the Stove until cooked through (approx 5 minutes)
3. Put all of the salad dressing ingredients into the blender and mix.
4. Toss everything in a bowl, and place the Sea Kelp on top. I found the Sea Kelp at Ambrosia Natural Foods. It has been something I have been wanted to incorporate into my diet for awhile now, and it did not disappoint. I used it on my salad, and then again the next day on top of my stirfry.
5. Serve and Eat Up!!

What are your go-to Clean Eats? 
Are you struggling with Celebration Season?
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Monday, 12 May 2014

#BESTFOOT - May Training Goals

After a whirl-wind April, May is looking much more relaxed. And we have officially entered Triathlon season. My next race is the Welland Triathlon on June 13th, which means the next month is going to be all about training. So what are my goals for the next month...

1. Make Cycling a FocusI think (I hope, I pray) that the weather is finally starting to warm up here in Toronto. Which means I can start focusing more on my bike.

I have taken my bike on a couple outdoor rides, and lets just say the learning curve has been steep. Clipping in and out on the trainer is a little different than clipping in and out on the road. I have taken a number of tumbles while learning how to navigate this new world of cycling. But I am starting to get the hang of things. And I hoping with more practice I will be confident and ready to rock the bike portion of my next event.

I must admit I don't love cycling in Toronto though. So for any of my local triathlon buddies where do you go to ride?

This is my weakest area, by a long shot, so I am hoping to dedicate some serious training time to the bike over the next few weeks. My goal is to do 2-3 rides a week.

2. Regular Yoga Classes and Strength Training

So when my schedule gets busy there are always 2 things that go - stretching and strength training.

I went to my first yoga class in close to a month last week, and boy did I feel it! My body was tight and craving some dedicated stretching. Last weeks class helped me realize how necessary yoga is for a successful training cycle.

And as I ease into a more dedicated training cycle, I want to make more of an effort to incorporate strength training. Ideally I want to do 2 workouts/week 1x Abs/Core 1x Booty.

3. Get back to Basics and off the Sugar Train
I definitely ate my feelings last month  - primarily in the form of Sour Patch Kids and Easter chocolate. It is also what I like to call "Celebration Season" around here, which means we are heading to a lot of parties, BBQs, showers, weddings, etc. And my tummy is raging this morning after my weekend away. BLAH!

This month I am just going to focus on fueling with real whole foods, and do my best to stay off the sugar wagon. (Always easier said than done). But I know I need to make diet more of a focus to help with recovery.

What are your training goals for the month?

Here's how last week went. It was a bit of a down week after all my racing last month, but I think I found my training mojo again. It was perfect.

Monday -Rest
Tuesday -7km Run
Wednesday - Rest
Thursday - 60 min Hot Yoga + 5km Run
Friday- Rest
Saturday - 14km Run
Sunday - 18km Long Run

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Time for a Random Life Update

Lately this little blog has been completely taken over by Race Recaps and the Happy Heart Project, which means there have been lots of other life-things going on behind the scenes. So I figured it was time for a Random Life Update.
The past couple of years have started to take their toll, because I found several hair greys over the past few months. I had a slight melt-down about it, but decided to just bite the bullet and get some highlights to cover it. I went and got a cut and colour last week. It is a lot lighter than I am used to, and I am undecided if I really like it. But I figure I will live with it for awhile. 

I found out last week that I get to go to St. Andrew By The Sea for Challenge St. Andrews with Polar Canada. And this little triathlon nerd is really excited.  They have quite a few big names coming – including Miranda Carfrae, Timothy O’Donnell, Simon Whitfield, and Chris Mccormick. I can’t wait to see the pros race, especially as I prep for my first iron-distance race. 

And it doesn't hurt that the location is absolutely gorgeous. Did I mention that I have the BEST Job EVER?! Because I am pretty sure I do! I actually fly back from my French Vaca at 4:30pm on July 3rd and fly out to New Brunswick a few hours later at 9:30pm. I am going to be CRAZY jet-lagged (Coffee will be my Friend), but it also going to be so fun. 
I think we might try to do the either 5km or 10km Beat the Tide event while we are there. How very New Brunswick right? And I am also going to try to squeeze in some whale watching on the Monday before I fly out if I can.

Weird Internet Things:
A few people have taken the photos from my blog and created fake online profiles. This is the weirdest online/blogging thing to happen to date. One was an online dating profile, and the other was a fake Facebook account. Both accounts were under different names, so I am not sure if it same person, or what? Someone found them and contacted me, so both of the accounts have been taken down now. But that was up there on the weirdness scale for me. 

Green Living Show:
I spoke at one of the panels at the Green Living Show a couple weeks back for Barefooters. We talked about the importance of self-care and recovery during a long training cycle.

Feelings and Food:
I spent a good chunk of April eating my feelings - more specifically eating sour patch kids and Easter chocolate. We are now officially heading into Triathlon season so my goal is to fuel my training and my body, rather than stress eating my feelings. It is a work in progress... Because I really like sour patch kids.

Long Weekend Plans:
A whole lot of nothing! Or rather I am planning on playing catch-up with my sleep, finishing some school things I am finalizing, and ideally squeeze in a couple bike rides OUTSIDE! (*still not the warmest here in Toronto*)

TV Shows:
Lately I have become obsessed with Orphan Black. If you are a sci-fi geek with a love of genetics, than this show will be right up your alley. I also have a major girl crush on Tatiana Maslany - so firece, so awesome. If you are looking for a DVD-athon to get hooked on, this is it!
And I think that pretty much covers most things right now!
Happy Thursday! What's going on your world?
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

#BESTFOOT - Goodlife Race Recap

Whew! This past month has been busy, and extremely “Race-Heavy”. As per usual my enthusiasm got the best of me, and I have found myself slightly over-extended this month. The Goodlife Half Marathon was going to be my fourth race event in the same amount of weeks. I went into this weekend with every intension of racing .

But the more the week progressed the more I started to re-evaluate my plan. Between Harry's, the Yonge Street 10km, and my personal 61km triathlon my body has taken a serious beating over the last month. And my training has not been as focused. I started questioning if racing this weekend and expecting a sub-2 result was really the right thing for my head and for my body.

I have spent a lot of 2014 focusing on time and my race results. I lost my mojo after my tough 10km result a few weeks back, and I found myself questioning my ability. Running has long been a way to honour my body. The physical expression of strength has always been a necessary reminder of my spirits’ ability to endure. It is how I reclaim my health and regain my strength. Running has always been my place of balance, solace, and serenity. But I found myself losing my joy. 

I lined up at the start line on Sunday morning feeling conflicted. Part of me longed for sub-2 finish and new half marathon PR. And the other part of me just wanted to enjoy the run, remove the pressure, and remember how far I have come. To be honest I was still conflicted when the gun went off. But as I weaved my way down Yonge street with the mass of people I found myself reflecting on the past year.

Last year I ran this event with the one and only Pavement Runner just 12 weeks post-op from my 6th surgery, and my 3rd in just 11 short month. I actually ran my slowest half marathon 2:19:30 that day, but I loved every second of it. Because it wasn’t about time, it was about celebrating my health. It was about celebrating the journey. It was about thanking my body for carrying me through all of that, and a half marathon. 

Before I knew it I was 7km in, and I had made my decision. I would run strong, but I wouldn’t race. I would take time to high-five spectators. I would walk through the water stations and thank volunteers. And I would cruise across the finish-line smiling with lots of gas in the tank at 2:05:41. It was not a PR. It was not sub-2. But I needed this result more.

I run to be happy, healthy, and strong. And I needed Sunday’s race to remind me of that. Sunday helped me find my mojo again.
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,