Monday, 16 February 2015

So What's Next?

It is literally my day job to talk about Running and Racing. It is pretty much the best gig going! But it also means that I can not go more than a couple of hours without being asked,

"What are you training for?"

And for the past few months my answer has been NOTHING. (which is kinda werid for me)

It has been exactly 82 days since Surgery #7, and my goal was to ease back into training gradually without pressure or any expectations.

Whenever I go in for my surgeries I always talk to my surgeons about my recovery timeline. And they always have some guidelines for me, but the truth is I am a bewildering little mystery.
- I just turned 30
- this is my 7th surgery, and my 4th in just 3 years
- and when I talk about recovery, I am talking about running marathons
So the truth is they have no idea. They are not enough "Krystens" out there for them to make even an educated guess. I am that outlier. That case that doesn't fit. And that patient that they are never quite sure what to make of.

I have learned this over the years. The guidelines that they give me are the guidelines that they understand. Their timelines are usually pretty accurate for my return to normal "life stuff" - groceries, driving, work, and regular day-to-day routine.

But to be able to return to running and training - that is a whole other beast.

I have recovered enough times to know that it always takes a lot longer than they bargain for. And I have recovered enough times to know that I would like this to be the last time for a while. I had a pretty frank discussion with my cardiologist this time around. And we have agreed for the time being, he doesn't want me to run anything longer than a Half. And we also agreed that my body is a bit of disaster at this point - there are a lot of muscle imbalances that require attention.

So I have been working slowly. I have been seeing a Physio. I have been easing back into training very cautiously over the past couple of months. And I have been trying to decide when I should race again. I briefly toyed with the idea of running the Chilly Half Marathon for fun. But I don't feel ready. And I doubt at this point it would all that fun. May seemed like a more realistic timeline, but what event should I do?

So I here I was humming and hahing about what kind of event I should train for, if any, and then I get a call from work.  (**Did I mention I have the best job ever?!**)
"Are you free May 15-17th? Do you want to go to Halifax and work the
The answer to my Race Prayers.

I am going, so I may as well run it, right?!
So this is what is next!

I am going to run the Bluenose Half. I am all registered! Which means hill training is on my agenda - the elevation looks a little wonky! I am definitely not expecting anything super magical in terms of time (Hello, 2 days on my feet at the Expo and a Hilly Course). But I am expecting to have a lot of fun. I have actually never run a "destination" race so this will be a first for me!

And I will be in Halifax for the long weekend. Are any of my bloggy friends planning on running this event? I would love to meet up while I am out there! So let me know!

Are you running the Bluenose?
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Friday, 13 February 2015

Fitness Friday and #IHeartExercise Winner

Hey There Friends!

Happy Friday! I hope you guys are having a good week. I gotta admit, my week this week has not been so stellar.

Literally everyone I have encountered this week has either informed me how exhausted I look (*Which for the record is just a socially acceptable way to tell someone they look bad*) or asked me if I am pregnant. The answer to the latter is NO!

I realize a lot of questions are coming because we recently bought a house in the suburbs. But I am not pregnant. And all of the questions are starting to give me a body complex. Do I look exceptionally fat all of sudden? Should I skip this Valentine's Day chocolate? And it is starting to stress me out. So I kindly ask, that you stop asking me that!

You know me, I am generally an open book, so when I have something to tell you, I promise I will. So until then...

In other news I am out of town at the moment, and won't be home until late tonight. But I looking forward to a quiet weekend at home.

This week in Fitness...
Monday - 4km Run and 40min HIIT workout
Tuesday - 12km Treadmill Run at Goodlife with 3x 1km Repeats at 4:50km pace
Wednesday - REST DAY (since I apparently need it!)
Thursday - 7km with 5 sets of pick-ups
Friday - REST
Saturday - 10km Run
Sunday - 1:45min Cycle + 5km Run with 3Sports

And the Winner of last week's #IHeartExercise Giveaway is Kaella Carr! I sent you an email! So please email me back at so we can coordinate your prize!

Have a great weekend friends!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

3 Reasons to Try Winter Running

It usually around this time that I start getting asked lots of questions about winter running. Do I always run outside in the winter? What kind of shoes do I wear? How do I stay warm? How often do I fall over?

I confess I hate the dreadmill. For me it is mostly mental. I hate running in one spot staring at the same thing for any significant length of time. I will use it if my training requires any serious speed workouts this time of year, but otherwise I prefer to tough it out outside.

Layering is required. I definitely don't run very fast while I am out there. But winter running requires a lot of effort because of the uneven terrain and the cold temps, so I always feel really strong by the time the Spring Race season rolls around.

I know it can be hard to feel motivated and get excited about heading out in this kind of weather, so here are my Top 3 Reason to Try Winter Running...

1. Endorphin Boost 
Well to start, its pretty well known that exercise floods you with feel good endorphins. But did you know that because your body has to work harder in the cold, your endorphin levels get that extra boost. So when you finish your cold weather workout you feel that extra bit happier. Definitely a bonus for this stressed-out crazy-pants. And definitely a bonus when the succession of grey days can make you feel a little Blah!

2. Tough Conditions Build Tough Runners
The Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise recently published an article trumpeting the effects of the chilly workout. Your body has to work harder to stay warm; so you are more likely to run faster and burn more calories. WOOHOO! All good news in my books (especially as a Canadian gal who frequently runs in the cold)!

3. Extra Resistance Training
And all of the snow and slippery surfaces we face during this delightful season also offers us winter runners extra resistance training. You are forced to utilize your smaller stabilizing muscles as you navigate those treacherous paths. And the resistance created while trudging through the snow offers a more intensive workout and allows runners to get the benefits of both cardio and strength training. (** always use your caution and discretion though to avoid injury**)

So what do you think, will you give Winter Running a try?

Happy Running!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Monday, 9 February 2015

Adventures with Renos

I have been alluding to these "renovations" for the past few weeks. We spent the first part of January moving, painting, and doing renos at the new house. And I figured the easiest way to  explain what we were working on was to wait until it was all finished so I could show the whole picture. I knocked down a few things, I mudded some sheets of dry wall, and I painted - but all of the credit goes to our awesome friend/contractor Shane.

So here is what we have been up to!

The main living area in the new house required The house was built in the 60's so the layout did not exactly meet modern open-concept standards - cue too many walls and some dated archways. The living room was also rocking a full wall of built-in mirrors - circa Dance Studio Style. All that was missing was a barre and we could have held some serious fitness classes in the main room.

In Progress:
Luckily we have a super awesome and handy friend - Shane (with the help of his brother Robbie) - who was able to help up execute our renovation dream. Obviously the mirrors had to go - I think that goes without saying! And I wanted to open the living room into the dining room to increase the flow and light. Plus we wanted to square off the arches and create a half wall into the hall to really open up the space.

We learned that the previous owner had some interesting construction techniques - the picture above is the red wood paneling we found under the drywall. Basically he just built everything on top of everything else - there was no demo...EVER.

We also learned that this process was messy and so very dusty! I underestimated how much dust would be involved in the demo and the drywalling. They always make the process look so seamless on HGTV?! I may have hated the back and forth, but I was grateful to not have to live in the mess while everything was under construction.

The Finished Product:
The finished product exceeded my expectations! I definitely underestimated how much ripping down a couple walls would completely change the space.

I may also be just a little excited about "Adult" Furniture purchases (aka not hand-me-downs and not IKEA). We are still waiting on a lamp that we ordered. And I am trying to figure out exactly what I want to do for wall art. But I gotta say, I am pretty happy with the space so far.

Have you ever done home renos before? Any wall art suggestion for the back wall?

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Friday, 6 February 2015

Fitness Friday - #IHeartExercise

February is such a bitter sweet month for me. It is Heart Health Awareness Month, and for the past 2 years I find my myself struggling to reconcile what I have gained with what I have lost.

Heart Disease has broken my heart both literally and figuratively. Literally with my own diagnosis. And figuratively with the loss of my father. The impact of both - profound, devastating, and life-changing.

I was diagnosed with my arrhythmia at 17, and fitted with my first pacemaker/defibrillator at 18. Who I was and who I was going to be was forever changed. I know how lucky I am that I woke up on that fateful day the summer before my senior year – many people do not.

Arrhythmias often strike only once, and once is often fatal. And I know how blessed I am to live in age where an ICD is option. But my health is no longer a given, it is something I have to work for every single day. I know all too well how quickly it can be taken away. There is still no cure for Long QT syndrome, and because of that, I will spend the rest of my life trying to mend this broken heart of mine.

It is the number one reason why I run and train the way I do. Every surgery serves as a constant reminder that I need to cherish my health and body while I have it. Which is perhaps why this week was an especially awesome training week...

This Week:
Monday - 30 min HIIT workout + Abs360
Tuesday - REST
Wednesday - 60 min Ride with
Thursday - 5km Trail Run
                - 60 min Hot Yoga Class at Goodlife Fitness
Friday - 15km long run
Saturday - 8km Run
Sunday - Curl for Heart Tournament

This year Goodlife Fitness is celebrating February by teaming up with the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (*Who I am happy to report treat me - and are the "cardio team" I often refer to*) to host the Healthy Heart Challenge – a 28 day opportunity to increase your heart health. To encourage more people to think about their heart and their health.
Beginning February 1st, challenge participants will be encouraged to get CardioStrong through:
-          daily cardiac stats and trends
-          advice from a team of cardiologist and dieticians about preventing heart disease and stroke
-          fitness tips and exercise ideas from GoodLife experts
-          recipe ideas and nutrition tips to lower your risks
-          suggestions for reducing stress and getting better sleep
These are generally just good things to incorporate into your daily routine. But everyone LOVES prizes right?! So the Goodlife team is giving one lucky reader an #IHeartExercise Prize Pack.

 It includes...
- 3 Month Goodlife Membership to get CardioStrong
- 1 Goodlife Fitness Gym Bag
- 1 #IHeartExercise Tshirt
- 1 branded water bottle
(Estimated Prize Value $250)

Check out the Rafflecopter Giveaway below to register your entries. (**Open to Canadians Only! Sorry American/Eurpoean Friends***)
You can enter below for your chance to win by...
  • Leaving me a Comment Sharing how you are going to make your Heart Happy this month
  • Join the Healthy Heart Challenge Event on Facebook

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I hope you guys will join in and give your Heart a little extra love this week.
Love Your Darwinian Fail,

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

#WIAW - Clauiflower Mac and Cheese

Well friends it is WIAW and the 30 Day #RealFoodRestart is coming to a close.

My last 30 days were admittedly not a 100% on point. I had a piece of cake at a baby shower. I definitely had some wine and candy on Saturday to celebrate the move with friends. But the 30 day challenge did help me rethink my daily diet and break some of the bad habits I had gotten into over the holidays.

I don't believe "cleanses" or "diet restarts" are the quick fixes or the cure-alls that they are often marketed to be. But I do think everyone find themselves slipping into bad habits from time to time - no matter how disciplined you are. I definitely found myself doing that over the holidays. So one of the amazing things about taking your diet and totally turning it upside down, is that it helps you take a good hard look at what works and what doesn't. It also asks you to get creative, try new things, incorporate new recipes, and just generally do things a little differently.

Several of you also took on the #RealFoodRestart Challenge on Instagram and on your blogs. And I have some prizes up for grabs! If you see your name listed below - one of your #RealFoodRestart posts were randomly selected! Please email me at and I will coordinate the shipment of your prizes!

@LZack via instagram - Tosca Reno’s – The Eat Clean Diet for Family and Kids
@noellesnotebook via instagram - Michael Moss - Salt, Sugar, Fat
@maryniasmom via instagram - Dr. Natasha Turner - The Carb Sensitivity Program

One of best things about the #RealFoodRestart was that it helped me discover some fantastic new recipes that will now be staples in my weekly meal plans. I discovered new fueling techniques. And just generally gave my diet a good solid once over. All of which has helped me move forward better educated and with a better understanding of what works for me and my body. 

This creation was a bit of - "what do we have left in the fridge to use up, before we go grocery shopping" - kind of dish. But it really turn out, so I had to share.

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Prep Time: 60 min.
Serves: 4 or 2 adults for dinner and leftover lunch

2 cups of Rigatoni
1 head of Cauliflower (Grated)
1 bunch of Kale (Chopped)
2 shallots (Diced)
2 knobs of garlic (Diced)
2 tbsp. EVO
1 cup Almond Milk
1/4 cup Cheddar Cheese (Grated)
1/4 cup Swiss Cheese (Grated)
2 green onions (Diced)
1 tbsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. of paprika
1 tsp salt

*Note: if you would like to make this dish Dairy-Free you can substitute Diaya Cheese for the Cheddar and Swiss recommended*

1. Put a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. And add rigatoni.
2. Use the cheese grater to grate the head of cauliflower. Dice the shallots, garlic, and Kale.
3. Place the EVO in a large pan on medium-high heat. Add the shallows and garlic - and sauté for 3-5 minutes.
4. Add the grated cauliflower and cook through for 5-10 minutes.
5. Add the kale to the veggie mixture until it cooks down. Remove from the heat.
6. Add almond milk, cheddar cheese, and swiss cheese to the pan of veggies.
7. Mix veggies and pasta together. Stir in black pepper, Paprika, and salt. in a large baking dish.
8. Top with diced green onion and put baking dish in a oven preheated to 350F. Bake for 25 minutes.
9. Broil the top for 4 minutes and serve.

Hope you all enjoy!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Monday, 2 February 2015

February Fitness Goals

Hello sweet friends!

So I must confess (*though I suspect you may have noticed*) I have been feeling a little helter skelter for the past couple of months. I am so used to my life constantly being at 6's and 7's that I don't always realize how much the stress of another surgery, the regular holiday craziness, along with the disorganization of the move was impacting me.

Last week it all hit me like a ton of bricks. I was exhausted. I may have had a *slight* tearful meltdown when my husband simply asked me to call the bank Wednesday morning. Not a request that warranted tears, but a clear sign that last few months had officially caught up to me. I slept for solid 12 hours on Sunday - and the world looks vastly different today!

We are finally settled in our new place. I spent Friday catching up on all of my paperwork. And after my sleeping binge last night, I officially got myself back on track.

So it is time to start getting back into a regular routine and making goals for the month ahead.

February Fitness Goals...

1. Increase my Weekly Mileage, slowly but surely

I calculated my monthly mileage for January last night. It was a 67 kilometers. And I am not going to lie, that number was kind of depressing.

Last year there would have been weeks where 67km was closer to my weekly mileage than my monthly. But I knew it was going to be a long road back. I have been rehabbing slowly since November 25th, but now my body is ready to start training seriously again. My goal is to slowly increase my mileage this month and get back into a more regular training schedule.

2. Up my Cycling Game

I have known for a while that my cycling skills are weak. The strength and power required on the bike is completely different from the run. And there is a whole lot of technical training and finesse that is part of cycling, that I know I do not possess. So one my goals this winter is to work on all of the above.

I joined a triathlon group - - for winter training support. I took my first Spin Class with them last Wednesday and got my butt kicked! I also learned a ton about proper gear shifting and pacing. This is definitely outside my comfort zone, but necessary if I want make improvements to my Triathlon game this season. So I got "Scotty" a regular parking spot and I am planning to go 1-2x a week schedule permitting!

3. Supplements and Protein Intake

I know my body is still healing, It is an obnoxious, but truthful fact, that I will probably spend the better part of 2015 trying to regain my strength and rebuild my fitness. Surgeries are annoying like that. And something I know all to much about.

So I know it is important to focus on increased protein as I attempt to rebuild my muscles. And I will do my best (*although I am always horrible at it*) to take my supplements on a daily basis to help fill in any holes in my nutrition.

4. Practice Better Self-Care

I regular preach the need for self-care, but as my previously mentioned tearful meltdown indicates, I don't always practice it. My main goals for this month is to ensure I get a regular 8 hours of sleep each night.

But I also want to set aside 15 minutes before bed for mindful meditation. I don't often take time to decompress properly at the end of the day - and as a result my sleep suffers. I am a restless sleeper -usually waking up anywhere from 3-5x each night. A cycle which my nutritionist informed me is a sign of high levels of cortisol. I have never tested my cortisol levels, but let's just say I would certainly not be surprised to learn that it has run a little high over the last few years. But with the start of a new month it is something I want to work on.

5. Implement a Regular Yoga Practice.

Yoga has always helped calm my mind, balance my body, and ground my training. One of the Goodlife Fitness locations in my new neighbourhood offers regular Hot Yoga classes. So my goal is attend 1 class/week to help me rest, reset, and improve my flexibility.

I feel like I am ready for challenge of a new month! What are your goals for February?

Love your Favourite (and finally rested) Darwinian Fail,