Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Is this Real Life?!

I have been talking about a project behind the scenes for the past few weeks. Everything has been kind of cryptic. And I haven't been able to say much about it... until now!

I was asked to shoot a commercial with Sport Chek as part of their new #SweatForThis Campaign.

I was flabbergasted when they asked. The whole process felt overwhelming and little daunting. I was honoured to be asked. And completely terrified. (*I also immediately stopped eating excessive amounts of Easter Chocolate*)

Now don't get me wrong, this is clearly an amazing opportunity. But it was one that I didn't feel I entirely deserved.

I realize I have faced some challenges. I have had some medical setbacks. I have experienced loss. But I also understand that I am not the only one.

Everyone is fighting their own battle. And while this is mine, this is also just my life. Nothing special.

I am just some girl running average race times trying to do the best she can with the circumstances life decided to hand her way.

So when film crew of 30 people showed up at my house to shoot this commercial I was humbled.
I still am.

Without further adieu, this is me in a nutshell. This is what I sweat for.

Thank You Sport Chek. 
Thank You for letting me share my story. Thank you for your commitment to health and sport. And Thank You for this amazing day. It truly was once in a lifetime experience.

You can check out the full #SweatForThis Campaign here.

Love Your Very Grateful Darwinian Fail,

Monday, 25 May 2015

Race Cheerleader = Best Job EVER!

This past weekend I volunteered as Runbird for Mizuno at the Toronto Women's Run Series and had one of the BEST EXPERIENCES I have had since I starting running a few years ago.

I was woefully under prepared for my first half marathon. And there was a woman in a red jacket who was also racing. She saw that I needed a boost. She fell in step with me at about 17km. She explained that she had run quite a few half marathons and asked if it was my first time. I said "yes" through gritted teeth as I struggled along. She ran in front of me to help block the wind. She gave me suggestions about how to switch up my form to reduce the lactic acid. But mostly she just cheered me on and helped keep me going. I have never forgotten her or her help that day. Kind Woman in the Red LuLu Jacket please know how much your actions meant that day.

So my goal when I got the start line was to be that person for someone else.

This year Mizuno wanted to switch things up and do things a little differently at the Women's event. Typically we act as pacers for a specific time or we volunteer at the finish line. This time of us Mizuno Girls had different objectives. Morgan and Clare were running the 5km event and acting as Cheerleaders. Phaedra and Michelle were out at the 14-15km mark on the half marathon course to cheer and pace the women as needed. Sabrina and I were positioned in along the final 3km of the course for both the half and 5km, given the task of cheering and pacing support.

Sabrina and I lined up in the middle of the pack for the half marathon and set out to our necessary post. We spread the word to the women around us that we would be on the course to help support them. And directed them to look for our Neon Green Visors if they needed anything.

I set up shop at the water station/turn around point for the 5km. My initial goal was to just cheer, high-five, and encourage all of the women as they past by for the 5km. Clare and Moran were taking bets about whether or not I would have a voice at the end of it. (* I am happy to report I still do*)

There was a bit of a lull as we waiting for the half marathon-ers to make their way back to us. But then I barely stopped moving for the next 2 hours.

My first run in was with Kristen and Lisa - both girls I recognized from Instagram. Kristen had an ambitious time goal, and by the time we met up, she knew she wasn't going to make it. As runners we have all been there. We have all had one of those days - where things don't come together and you spend the last few kilometers beating yourself up for not measuring up.

She told me if I didn't run with her, then she was going to walk. I said "No way", let's do this. I also informed her that she was running a half marathon at my speed workout pace - so she is pretty Amazing if you ask me. We gutted out those last few kilometers together, and she had a solid kick at the end.

Kristen and Lisa I think you both so strong and fabulous!! And for the record I would kill for your finishing time!

I made my way back and did my best to link up with as many women as I could manage. I only ran the last 2km, but I ran it so many times that I ended up covering about over 17km in total.

I ran with several first-timers, which is about as amazing as running your first half all over again. In last 150m I told one woman "You are a Bad-Ass Warrior Woman. Congratulations, you just ran a Half Marathon." She immediately started crying. And so did I. As runners, we have all been there too. Where gutting it out to that line means so much more than just your race day performance. It is about strength, hours of training, sacrifice, and perseverance.

I experienced every high and every low that a race could throw at you. And I was completely honoured to be able to support these women while they accomplished their dreams.

For me what was so amazing about the day and the event itself, is that at its very core, it was about Women Supporting Women. I was reminded how AMAZING women truly are. A little community formed almost instantly and we all bonded over our shared love of sport. 

It reminded me that Sport goes so much deeper than speed, distance, or PRs. Sport is a lesson in strength, determination, and the true definition of health. Sport creates a community of positive supportive people all working together to get stronger and be healthier. And Sport teaches us to love ourselves and our bodies for what it can do, not what it looks like. It reminded me why I do this.

Thank you for an amazing day and an amazing opportunity Mizuno.
And Thank You to all the women who let me be a part of their day in some small way.

Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Friday, 22 May 2015

The Importance of Race Support

Over the past 3 years, since I started to get into racing, I have come to appreciate the important role spectators and volunteers pay in race day success.

More often than not, a personalized cheer from someone along the route or a high five as you run past, can give you that extra push that you need to keep going. And the volunteers waiting patiently with water and gels in hand are like little heavenly angels who fuel you for glory.

I always do my best to Thank them along the way. But this year I knew I wanted to be one of them. I wanted to give back my time and energy to a sport that had given so much to me.

Enter Mizuno Canada and the Toronto Women's Run Series.

I will be spending this Sunday as a Mizuno Runbird Race Guide for the 5km event. In other words I will be your cheerleader, support system, pacer, water-fetcher, high-five give-er, or anything else you might need along the course. I can't wait! Whether you are going out for your first race or you are striving for a Personal Best - I want to help as best I can!

I will be dressed in green, and rocking that neon green visor. So look for me! Let me know if you need anything. I will be there for you!

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

How to have a Great Race, but Do All the Wrong Things

I found out a few months ago that I would be heading out to Halifax for the Bluenose Marathon for work. And I immediately got excited and signed up for the Half Marathon, thinking it looked like a fun event and that I don't often have the excuse to head out there. But as the event got closer and I started looking at my work schedule - I started to question if combining work and racing was really such a good idea?

I decided I still wanted to race, but knew that I was guaranteed to have the WORST Race Prep of all time, so I had no expectations.

I woke at 4:30am on Wednesday to finishing packing and to get to the airport for my early morning flight. I landed in Halifax at noon, met up with our East Coast Sales Rep, and went immediately into meetings. And that was pretty much the pace for the rest of rest of trip.

There are few cardinal rules that runners have about race day and race prep. And I pretty confident I broke every single one of them last week.

1. Don't eat anything new and/or different a few days before a race
That is pretty much all I did. I was on the road or at the race expo, so I just ate when I could and had what was available. I tried to make smart choices when possible, but I don't know how successful I was. I missed several meals because of my hectic schedule - including lunch the day before the race. I was so busy at the expo that I was only able to grab a Clif Bar at 2pm.

I had a chicken stirfry at the hotel restaurant for dinner, and then went to the corner store to grab some crackers and a box of cereal for breakfast. None of which was my normal pre-run or pre-race fuel. I just crossed my fingers and hoped my tummy would cooperate.

2. Never wear anything new on race day
Halifax is known for its unpredictable weather. So I tried to pack for all situations. But between my work clothes, my event stuff, and my workout gear I found myself missing a few things. I realized that my tights wear probably to heavy. And my shorts weren't going to be warm enough. So on a whim I bought a pair of capris, and hoped that they would be okay for race day.

3. Stay off your feet and Get lots of Rest
I spent the 2 days prior to the race at the expo standing for 9-10hrs. I also slept horribly, because I never sleep well in hotels.

I gave almost no thought to the race until the night before, as I laid out all my gear. I took a look at the course and the route, but really had no idea what to expect. I was tired. And the hilly elevation chart was stressing me out. So I opted to ignore my GPS and just run to Heart Rate the next day. I wanted to enjoy running somewhere new and celebrate my 10th Half Marathon.

I check out of the hotel before I left for the race. I left my bags with the front desk and I wandered over to the start line. I met up with my sister, who lives in Halifax, and was running her very first 10km. We chatted for a little while, and then I made my way over to the corrals.

I decided I would line up in the 2:15-2:30 section, which is where I also met up with Suzi for a pre-race pep talk and selfie.

The race started and I set out at a pace I was comfortable with. It was cool and raining for the first part of the course. There was also a decent wind coming in off the ocean. I flipped my V800 to my Heart Rate screen and promised myself I would focus on targeting Zone 4 for my run. Whatever time that resulted in would be A-Okay with me.

I felt great for the entire race, even with the hills (and Halifax is definitely hilly). I opted to walk one hill in Point Pleasant park. It was steep and lined with loose gravel, which I found quite slippery after the rain. But other than that, I just kept trucking along.

I was stunned when I crossed the line at 2:10:18

It was much faster than I was expecting. And I had a blast doing it.

Sometimes letting go of expectations and just enjoying the course is all you really need to do to have a great race!

Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Scenes from the Weekend and My Next Race

So while I was off quietly reflecting for the last week or so, I was also off being a rather busy bee. I spent part of last weekend home in Niagara celebrating Mother's Day with my Mom, visiting friends, and running around my old stomping grounds. I spent the other part - working on my garden and hosting a Mother's Day/Birthday Dinner for Jamie's family. It made for a pretty action packed couple of days.


After that action packed weekend, I have boarded a plane, and made my way to Halifax for Work and the Bluenose Half Marathon. This is going to be my 10th Half Marathon, and my first destination race, which I think is a pretty fun way to ring in double digits!
I am not expecting much in terms of performance this time around. I am going to be working some long hours while I am here. And I have gotten mixed reviews about the course. One Person (*hi Todd!*) described it as the "Half from Hell". And a few other people have said it is not as bad as advertised. It has only be 2 weeks since my last half marathon. The course is a bit of a hilly monster. And my legs won't exactly be fresh.
My goals the Bluenose Half are to...
  • Take in the scenery
  • Smile
  • And Enjoy the Ride
My time will be what it will be. I just want to cross the line smiling and happy. Completing 10 half marathons in the last 3 years all while trying to rebuild from 4 major surgeries is something to celebrate. And that is exactly what this Sunday is all about - Celebrating!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

My 1st Race Back and My Mississauga Half Recap

So admittedly, I have been a Bad Blogger lately... Sorry guys! I have been struggling to find my motivation to share again following my Catfish experience. And I have needed a bit of a Social Media breather to regroup.

Sometimes you just need to unplug and evaluate where you are and what is truly important to you. And after some quiet reflecting I ultimately decided that the good out weighs the bad, and I want to keep sharing. So thanks for being patient with me.

While I was away lots of things have happened. One of the biggest being that I ran my first half marathon post-op! And Burnbrae Farms graciously offered to sponsor my first race back.

I have been pretty candid about the struggle to keep running and racing while experiencing setbacks. Like most runners, we evaluate our success on our time and race results. We are always striving for that personal best, racing against the clock, and pushing hard to get stronger and faster. I chose to start running seriously at the peak of a fairly tumultuous time in my life. And while I still long for all of things mentioned above, I have also realized that I have to evaluate my success differently.

My goal for Mississauga was to run hard. I had hopes for a personal best. But ultimately, this race was meant to be check-in.

Last summer, I started to experience some symptoms and setbacks while training for my Half Ironman. So I chose to put my training on hold and simply do my best to maintain my fitness. I had Surgery #7 in November. And I have been working on slowly rehabbing ever since. I had about 10 weeks of proper half marathon under my belt. The Mississauga Half was going to be my first opportunity to put my training and my fitness to the test.

I panicked slightly as we pulled up to the start line, because I had forgotten the timing chip for my shoe. Luckily with just a quick stop at the SportStats tent I was able to swap my number and get a new timing chip. I calmed my nerves, did a quick warm-up, and got myself situated at the start line.

My goal was to strive for a 5:40-5:45/km pace (9:07-9:15/mile pace) for the duration of the race. I started out strong, and my 8km split - 45:46 - was right on pace.  And I felt great until about kilometer 13. My legs started to get tight. I was struggling to clear the lactic acid in my quads, and despite my best efforts my pace started to slow down.

My goal was to maintain my effort, continue to run hard, and do the best I could.
I glanced at my watch at kilometer 18 and with a bit of mental math I knew a Personal Best wasn't going to happen. My left side was starting to swell (which you can see in the picture above), but I also knew I wasn't too far off my goal. So I wanted to dig deep for the final stretch. I crossed the finish line with a Final chip time of 2:06:58. And I was happy.

Last year on the exact same weekend I ran the Goodlife Half in 2:05:41 after more than a full year of rehab and consistent training. With just 10 weeks of training I was only a 1:17 off the pace. Showing that despite my tight timeline I was able to regain the fitness I had lost, and that I am hopefully on my way to getting stronger and faster.

It was definitely a great way to get back out there! I happy to be back running and racing. But mostly I am just happy to be feeling strong and healthy again!

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Friday, 1 May 2015

Random Friday

I have another random Friday post for you. I have lots of different things to share, but they are kind of all over the place...So here you go - a glimpse into my little scatterbrain.

Race Update:
I am headed to the race expo on my lunch hour today to pick up my race kit. I am excited and a little nervous, but after my small emotional meltdown follow last Saturday's Race, I have made peace with where I am today.

I can only...

Start where I am
Where I am in 5 months post-op, from my 4th surgery in just over 3 years. I know that rebuilding is hard and takes time.
Use what I have
I have the ability to preserve, fight, and keep on trying. So if Sunday is not my day, I know there will be others. And this only one small part of a much bigger journey
Do what I can
I have trained as best I could over the past few months, and I have done my best to rest and respect my limits this week. So Sunday I will run hard, and be proud of whatever result I end up with.

Catfish Update:
A lot of you read my original catfish story, left comments, and gave advice on the whole situation. In my original post I asked for the person responsible to consider contacting me so I could understand their side of things. Many of you have asked if I ever heard from them - and the answer is YES.

I found out who she really is. It was actually someone I had been regularly chatting with on Social Media for almost a year. She created this fake profile around the same time that she initially reached out to me. We talked via Facebook Messager for over an hour last week.

To be honest I still don't understand it.

I was expecting some sort of concrete answer or deeper understanding of it all.
But I didn't leave with that.

What I will say, is that we ended the conversation with forgiveness. Whatever her motives and whatever her reasons I believe that most people are struggling with a battle that we don't always understand. So my hope is that she will learn from this experience, gain self-acceptance, and find happiness.

Get Out There Girls:
Our second podcast All about Cycling is now live. You can also subscribe to our podcast on iTunes!

Would love to hear what you guys think? And if there is anything you want us to cover in our next few episode?

Spartan Race Giveaway:
I have run several different obstacle races over the years, and I always have a great time. You get to spend the day harnessing your inner 6 year old - you run, you jump, you climb, you laugh, you stomp through mud - and just generally have a great time.

Reebok Spartan Race has sent me 2 free race entries to giveaway to my readers and you can enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hope you are all having a great week!
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,