What Have I Been Up To?

Please excuse my absence! I’ve been crazy busy with midterms so I haven’t been able to blog since my half in September. That being said, I’m back and am going to make the strongest effort to blog three times a week, (Monday, Wednesday and Friday). If you follow me on Instagram, I always post when a blog goes live so make sure to follow!

Ok, let’s play catch up. Last time I posted, I had just run the Oakville Half Marathon.

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Prime finisher’s photo.

It was a really awesome race, and I learned a ton about my body and things I can refine for next time. I initially registered for the Hamilton Marathon Road 2 Hope (the half distance), however due to my crazy midterm schedule, I haven’t been able to train as much as I would want. My body also took a solid two and a half weeks to recover fully from Oakville, so that ate into my training time. Just recently, I made the executive decision to bump down to the 5k distance which I know I could run comfortably. I’m not looking for a pr, but if one came my way I’d be pretty happy. My plan is to make this race my last race of the year, and then come back strong for a half in the spring.

I strongly suggest the Hamilton Marathon if you’re looking to BQ. The race has an amazing course that’s pretty flat, making it optimal for record times. Their “Run the Hammer” and “Hammer the Hammer” challenges are closed, but all the other distances still have spots free and it’s super affordable. Race weekend is just under two weeks from now, so register soon!

 

-Running Fast, Lifting Heavy

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Race Recap: Nutrience Oakville Half Marathon

I’m finally getting around to writing this! The delay is mostly in part to the fact that I wanted to include race photos, so I had to wait until those went live. As usual, I’ll break up the review into sections for you guys to give an in-depth review.

Race Kit Pick-Up/Expo

I was really upset about this the expo, because I essentially missed the whole thing! The commute from my area in Toronto to Coronation Park (where the expo was) with no traffic is around 45 minutes. On this particular day, it took us two hours. Since we were running errands, we didn’t leave our house until just before two. Combine that with a few road closures and it created a recipe for disaster. We literally got to Coronation Park with minutes to spare so I really didn’t get to partake. That being said, race kit pick-up was a breeze and it looked like they had some really cool venders there (Running Room, Nuun, Honey Stinger…really wish I was able to catch the Honey Stinger booth).

The Race Itself

I feel that this part needs to be broken up into sections as well since there’s so much to say. I’ll start with things I feel went wrong/things I could’ve worked on:

-I had to run to the start line when the race started since we were running late due to road closures

-Since my hydration pack has no pocket on the straps to put gels in, I decided to put two gel packs in my cleavage for easy access…let’s just say that wasn’t the smartest idea

-I had to stop at every bathroom stop due to gastro upsets (something I didn’t account for even though I should’ve)

-Because of said gastro upsets, I had to walk WAY MORE than I’ve ever had to during a run in order to wait for the gastro upsets to subside

-I went into the race being under-trained…I could definitely feel it.

Things I did right during the race:

-I had a playlist on my iPod rather than frantically trying to pick a different song every three minutes

-I listened to my body during the race

-I finished injury-free (the most important of all)

-I had a hydration plan in place which was super beneficial considering it was unseasonably hot out

In terms of the course there’s a few things worth noting. The course was a mixture of residential side streets and some major streets, however it was mostly on side streets. Course marshalls did a good job of guiding people and local cops did a good job of stopping traffic for race participants, (a few would even cheer you on). The cool thing about running on the side streets was that a lot of residents would spectate and cheer you on as you passed their house. One house that I passed had a little girl (supervised by her parents), standing on their driveway with a hose on the mist setting asking people if they wanted to be sprayed. That girl doesn’t know it, but she was my best friend that day. I felt that the course volunteers were a little lack-lustre though, which was kind of disappointing. When most of them cheered, you could tell they were tired or that they didn’t want to be there. There was one girl however who really stood out at one of the Nuun stops (there was a Nuun table at every bathroom stop), who was super encouraging and would even call you by name which was really sweet.

At one point during the race, a man who was also a participant ran alongside me and gave me tips on how to slow my breathing down and even paced me for a kilometer. Again, these little gestures go an extremely long way.

Post-Race

Once the race was done, I went to get stretch at which time Daniel informed me that there were massage therapy students from a nearby college giving out free massages. The best part? Next to no line! They originally quoted me a wait time of 15 minutes, which is still amazing, however, I only had to wait 5. I can’t member the name of the girl who massaged me, but she really helped loosen up my calves which are always crazy tight after running. They also had a few post-race snacks like bananas, bottles of water, and buns from Ozerk Bakery.

Would I run this race again? I think so. The views waterfront/dreamy real estate views were nice, and it’s quite affordable relative to races in the city.

So what’s next? Well, I’m registered for Hamilton Marathon Road 2 Hope (the half distance), which is at the beginning of November. Stay tuned for updates!

 

-Running Fast, Lifting Heavy

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My favourite photo of them all.

Garmin’s Hooking Me Up…I Think?

Ever since I got my Forerunner 25 a year ago for my birthday, I’ve had issues with it. It hasn’t been the same problem every time, but the issues have remained consistent and recently, have prevented me from even using the watch. The first set of issues began almost immediately, (October). I went for a run, and went to save it upon completion. After clicking “save”, a screen popped up saying that my run was saved successfully – only problem is, this screen never disappeared. I contemplated on letting my watch die in hopes that my run might still be there once I charged it, but gave up and reset the watch, (which deletes any unsaved/recent activity). After doing some troubleshooting with Garmin, it was determined that the issue was that my watch’s software was out of date and all that was needed was for me to stay on top of the updates. No joke, as soon as I would get a notification saying that my watched needed an update, it would freeze on me. I can’t pre-emptively update my watch for an update that isn’t even available yet. Problem number one.

Problem Number two: Strava upload issues. After runs, my data would successfully upload to Garmin Connect, however wouldn’t sync to Strava. I doubled checked to make sure that I had it set to do it automatically, however it just wouldn’t sync. Again, I called Garmin and was told that the issue was that I had two Garmin Express accounts…how that happened, I have no idea. The Garmin employee I spoke with over the phone deleted the account that appeared to be dormant and reassured me that I shouldn’t have any more issues. Keep in mind my watch is still freezing on the “Run Saved!” screen in addition to this.

Problem number three: my run doesn’t even sync to Garmin Connect! I’ve tried resetting my watch, letting it die, and troubleshooting with Garmin but all to no avail. During my last troubleshooting session, I decided that I had enough and wanted a new watch. With very little fight, Garmin started a service request for me and said that I can send back my watch and get a new one. I sent my watch in the mail fairly promptly since the Oakville Half Marathon is next Sunday and I don’t want to use my phone as a means of keeping pace. However, I just checked the status of my order and saw this:

Garmin Status

BACKORDERED?!? ARG!! This is so not ideal. A part of me wishes that I didn’t send my watch away until after the race. I only did it before because I was told 7-10 business days, (with today being the ninth). Here’s to hoping that my shipping status changing ASAP!

 

-Running Fast, Lifting Heavy

Race Recap: 2XU Toronto Women’s 10k

Last Sunday, I ran the 2XU Toronto Women’s 10k for the second time (I ran the 10k last summer). I should note that this race holds a special place in my heart; it happens to be the first 10k race I’ve ever done. After really grinding it out this past year, I felt that I was definitely ready to conquer a PR and really crush the course. I have to admit, I didn’t take a ton of photos since I was really focusing on staying in a winning mindset, but I really wish I did – Sunnybrook Park is gorgeous! As usual, I’ll break up my review in segments so I can really flesh it out.

Race Kit Pick-Up

I totally had every intent on picking up my race kit ahead of time at Running Room, but I completely dropped the ball. Whoops. This led me to head to Sunnybrook Park (the location of the race) a little bit early so I could get my bib/swag. That being said, I was in and out in a breeze at the race kit station. All I had to do was find a number on a board that corresponded with my name, and then dictate that number to the woman behind the table who gave me my bag. Literally took all of two minutes.

The Race Itself

Talk about good weather! Although it was a little breezy in the beginning, it warmed up once the race started and we got moving. One of the reasons why I love this race is because of the volunteers on the course. This year did not disappoint. Everyone is so encouraging and they all really give you the boost you need when you hit that “I want to give up” wall. They also will give you personalized words of encouragement (which I know is easy to do considering your name is on the bib), but trust me, it goes a long way.

In terms of how I performed, I think I did great. I set a pr, (my best 10k is 1:09:45 and this time around my time was 1:05:33), and felt 10x more confident than I did the previous year. It also helps that I know the course and know what to expect. I thought about signing up for the 5k instead of the 10k, but with the Oakville Half Marathon in a few weeks, I wanted a little more practice than a 5k could give me.

The Expo

I didn’t pay much attention to the expo last year, but it was actually pretty good this year. Notable highlights were a Goodlife Fitness booth, and a 2XU booth! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll be able to see the trinket I bought there. Although this isn’t expo related, your entry gets you a 2XU technical hat which is pretty sweet.

What’s Next?

Next on the docket is the Nutrience Oakville Half Marathon (less than three weeks away!) and I’m feeling pretty nervous! The last time I attempted a half, I tore my meniscus. I’ve gone through physio and have been able to identify some issues that could’ve lead to the injury, so I’m hoping to cross the finish line injury-free! Wish me luck!

 

-Running Fast, Lifting Heavy

Barcelona – Madrid – Lisbon

I’m finally back from my 12-day trip to Europe! I should probably state as a disclaimer that this post won’t entirely be about running, but rather a combination of highlights from my trip and fitness-y things that we did.

Barcelona

The Hotel: We stayed at the Hotel Fira Congress in the L’Hospitalet de Llobregat area of Barcelona. The room was HUGE and had a fairly unobstructed view of the Olympic Stadium. Although we weren’t right downtown, we were only a few blocks from a metro station which could get us there in just under 30 minutes.

Total Miles Ran: Very little, haha. I decided to convert what was supposed to be an interval run into a more casual run near our hotel so we could explore a bit. Therefore, I only ran 2.5 miles while in Barcelona. That being said, I got to experience their running trail system which is leagues infront of Toronto. The only thing I wish I could change about my running in Barcelona, is that apparently there’s a pretty clear path to the Olympic Stadium from our hotel so it would’ve been nice to run up there. Next time!

Barcelona Run

Post Run. Definitely humid out there!

Cool Things We Did: La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia

A really awesome paella cooking class in the Gothic Quarter

Go to the beach, (which is 9km long – I also got my bag stolen on the beach with all of our money, ID, credit cards, and phones but a random man who was also on the beach saw who stole it and GOT IT BACK FOR ME! THANK YOU RANDOM GUY (I wished I remembered his name).

Favourite Restaurant: There’s this restaurant called La Pampa on the main strip leading up to the beach. SO GOOD. They have the best skirt steak and sangria ever. I actually watched a video on Facebook with Gordon Ramsay in it right before we left that was talking about how skirt steak his is favourite cut of steak because of how juicy it is. He didn’t disappoint. This restaurant also had the best sangria I had all trip, so this by far is my favourite restaurant. Daniel also had some really good duck breast at La Pampa and said it was his favourite meal as well.

Madrid

The Hotel: We stayed at Ayre Gran Hotel Colon in the Estrella neighbourhood of Madrid. Again, it was the same kind of set up with the hotel not being downtown but close to a metro station. The only downside with not being in downtown Madrid, was that they observe Siesta (basically, the whole city shuts down from approximately 2:00PM-8:00PM). There are restaurants and shops that remain open during Siesta, however they tend to be in more touristy areas, (downtown), so it was a little bit of a pain to have to commute for something a little as a latte. We were only in Madrid for one night and two days since we were using it as a midway point to get to Lisbon. I definitely didn’t see as much as I wanted to, so I totally want to go back.

Total Miles Ran: 0. This was actually intentional though; two days really wasn’t enough time to squeeze in a run, especially if we were trying to cram in as much site seeing as possible. That being said, we did do a bike tour of the city which was AMAZING. The bike tour went along the Manzanares; creating a paradise for runners and cyclists alike. The tour stopped at most of the historical landmarks around Madrid and had a halfway point at a cute pub called Sagas Farmers Cooks & Co. We munched on some pinchos and had the most delicious beer I’ve ever had – I don’t even like beer, so that speaks volumes. If you want to include the mileage on the bike, it was 7.8mi

Sagas Farmers Cooks & Co

Pinchos y Clara.

Lisbon

The Hotel: We stayed at a hotel called Hotel Dom Afonso Henriques. Daniel and I both agree that this was probably our least favourite hotel. The room was smaller than advertised and had a not-so-nice front desk woman who was working the day we check in. Since we were taking an overnight train, we knew checking in wouldn’t be possible so we just wanted to leave our bags and go get a coffee/explore. She begrudgingly took our bags and wouldn’t give us a city map or any recommendations of what to do to fill our six and a half hours until check in. It was decently close to the metro though and was also on the same metro line as the airport.

Favourite Restaurant: Does dessert count as a meal? If so, Fabrica de Natas is by far my favourite. Who doesn’t love fresh pastel de natas and americanos.

Total Miles Ran: 6.73mi. This was actually supposed to be a long run (10mi), however I ran out of water 3.5mi before I was supposed to finish. Normally, I could’ve toughed it out, however I was running in the middle of a heat wave (40°C)…nuff said. The hills in Lisbon are insane, especially in combination with the cobblestones. Kudos to any runners/cyclists in Lisbon! I have no idea how you do it.

Lisbon

Beautiful view I found while on my run of the Tagus River.

Cool Things We Did: Sunset Boat Cruise – super romantic, would definitely do again.

Tagus River Cruise

All smiles.

Ocenario Lisbon – Europe’s biggest aquarium.

Surfing in Peniche!!  – this was my “must do” for the trip. I never thought surfing would be so challenging. It takes quite a bit of energy just walk/swim out far enough to get a decent wave, but then to actually ride the wave after exerting all that energy is even more challenging. I stood up once, but Daniel was a pro and stood up six times! I swear, that guy excels at everything.

Although I’m extremely saddened by what’s happened in Barcelona, it’s a BEAUTIFUL city and I would 100% go back there in a heartbeat.

 

-Running Fast, Lifting Heavy

Fun (active) things that are on our vacay agenda

Today Daniel and I leave for Barcelona! It’s my first time leaving the continent (North America), however since Daniel’s dad lived in Czech Republic for a number of years, he’s been to Europe quite a few times. We plan on breaking up our trip as follows:

August 3rd – leave Toronto

August 4th – arrive in Barcelona

August 7th – train to Madrid

August 9th – train to Lisbon

August 15th – leave Lisbon/arrive back in Toronto

While I plan to eat my weight in churrasco and tapas and drink my fair share of Sumol and sangria, we planned a decent amount of activities that are not only active, but ridiculously fun as well.

– City Bike Tour (Madrid): this was all Daniel’s idea, but I’m actually really excited for it. Since we’re in Madrid for only two days, we can cover a lot of ground this way. I’m not really sure what I can expect to see, but I’ll definitely do a review when I get back.

-Surfing (Lisbon…well, beach near Lisbon): this is probably what I’m looking forward to the most! Although I swim, I’m not really familiar with any other watersports despite having waterskiing available to me at my grandparents’ place. Right now, the tide is pretty low near Lisbon which is perfect for beginner’s surfing. Here’s to hoping I can actually stand up!

-Running Tour (Lisbon): this is still up in the air, however it would be a pretty convenient way to get my long run in while on vacation. Apparently, you can run through some really scenic parks, and some runners have said they ran just over 8mi while on one of these tours!

My wifi connection might not be reliable, but I’ll attempt to blog these activities as they happen. Worst case scenario, I’ll do a vacay recap when I get back to Toronto.

 

-Running Fast, Lifting Heavy

Race Recap: Toronto Carnival Run (5k)

This past Saturday, I ran the 5k distance at the Toronto Carnival Run in downtown Toronto. As I do with my other race reviews, I’ll break this down into sections: race kit pick-up, the race itself, expo, and expectations that I had for the race.

 Race Kit Pick-Up

The race kit pick-up was located at a speciality running store not too far from the race location called The Runners Shop. Although I have heard of the store, I haven’t been to it and didn’t quite know its location. I got an email from Race Roster saying that race kit pick-up was on the Thursday/Friday before the race from 10:00am to 8:00pm. Since Daniel and I were planning on going downtown for dinner on the Friday, I figured I would just swing by and meet him after. According to Google Maps, the store was only a short walk from the subway station so I was keeping my eyes peeled for any signage. Eventually, I saw a sign in front of an office building that said, “Toronto Carnival Run Race Kit Pick-Up Here” and then store hours beneath it which stated that the store closed at 6:00. By this point, it was 6:25. Panicked, I called Daniel (I’m not even sure why, it’s not like he could’ve done anything about the situation). Race Roster says that you can only pick up your kit on race day if you’re an out-of-town resident and since I’m not, I was kind of screwed. Since Daniel wasn’t at our meet up destination, I decided to grab a latte at a coffee shop next door and start walking over. Once I left the coffee shop, I saw a couple leaving the office building with what seemed to be race kits. I raced in side, (along with my London Fog), and saw that there was a table set up outside the store with race kits. I explained to the person who was manning the station what happened to me and she said that a couple other people have had the same issue. On the upside, they were handing out coupons for their store, so that was a nice bonus. In this section, the suggestion would be to have better signage that doesn’t confuse racers.

The Race Itself

 So much energy!! Because the race was carnival inspired, (in light of Caribana being around the corner), there was plenty of calypso and soca music to get people amped. Dione Mason got the crowd warmed up before the 10k group took off at 8:00am and she did a great job. The 5k group (me) was 15 minutes after that and 1k kids run was 10 minutes after that.

The race started at Inukshuk Park and ran along the Martin Goodman Trail. The nice part about this leg of the trail, is that it runs alongside Ontario Place so it’s pretty scenic. There were dragon boaters out on the water as well as the set up for the Toronto Triathlon Festival. One day. A girl can dream, right?

The 5k course was an out-and-back and had only 22ft of elevation gain so it was relatively flat.

Toronto Carnival Run 5k Route

Literally right on the water!

The only thing I didn’t like about the course was that since it’s a public trail, there were plenty of run clubs, single runners, and bikers in addition to the racers on the trail. More often than not the trails are public and not blocked off during races so there’s other runners on the course, but this time it was really noticeable. At one point in the trail, there’s a fork and it’s difficult to tell which path you’re supposed to take, especially if you’re following people that you think are part of the race but in fact are not.

Expo

There wasn’t much of an expo at the race. There were a few companies there handing out samples, (Vita Coco and Larabar), as well as Triangle Physiotherapy giving out free massages. The line was forever long for that so I didn’t bother sticking around.

Race Expectations

I was hoping to run a negative split with my overall average pace being 9:40/mi. I was able to hold that negative split until the end of mile two where I slowed down a bit. This was ultimately my downfall. I was hoping for a sub 30:00 time, however I came up short with a chip time of 30:30 and an average pace of 30:50…so close! My 5k pr before this was 32:00, so although I beat my pr, I didn’t hit my goal time.

Toronto Carnival Run 5k Strava

Would I do this race again? Probably! I’m curious to see what the 10k route is like. I’ll have to try it next time!

Toronto Carnival Run Race Photo

Toronto Carnival Run Race Photo 1

-Running Fast, Lifting Heavy

Are you training at the right intensity?

Daniel sent me this really cool article that I want to share with you guys about training at the right intensity. Definitely have a look! It puts things into perspective for sure.

http://www.runnersworld.com/rt-web-exclusive/train-at-the-right-intensity-ratio

 

-Running Fast, Lifting Heavy

Product Review: Under Armour Micro G Velocity

The time finally came for me to replace my beloved Gel Cumulus 15s after I noticed the sole was tearing from the body of my shoe. Initially, I had every intent on getting the Cumulus 17s, however on a trip to an outlet mall, I decided to pop my head into the Under Armour store. What intrigued me first was the price. All the shoes were under $115 CAD which is very attractive since I knew the Cumulus costs around $40 more.

After doing some quick research on my phone while in the store, I was torn between the Micro G Velocity and the Speedform Slingshot. Not going to lie, the Speedform Slingshot was a REALLY pretty shoe. Like, really pretty. Taking into consideration that I’m coming off of an injury, I decided to give both shoes a try and see which one felt better. The Micro G Velocity seemed to really give me the support and needed which I felt the Speedform Slingshot was lacking. I’ve ran a total of 10.4mi so far in them, and here’s what I think:

-super lightweight: I would almost go as far as to say that they are lighter than my Cumulus 15s.

-the sole is made from 4D form which molds to your feet and gives you support that’s catered to your foot. This is huge since my left foot has a lower arch than my right – if you’re in this boat, I highly recommend this shoe (or any of there shoes with 4D foam)

-stays true to size

My only complaint with this shoes it the tongue. I find it to be a bit too thick, however it’s not thick enough for it to be an annoyance. Maybe I’m just too picky.

Under Armour Shoe Tongue

Close up of the tongue.

Running Fast, Lifting Heavy approved: Yes

 

-Running Fast, Lifting Heavy

Goodlife Fitness City Chase Photo Dump

I finally have some photos for you!

2017 GoodLife Fitness City Chase Toronto #1

I love this finisher’s photo!

2017 GoodLife Fitness City Chase Toronto #1

2017 GoodLife Fitness City Chase Toronto #1

2017 GoodLife Fitness City Chase Toronto #1

Face plant time!

2017 GoodLife Fitness City Chase Toronto #1

Digging deep.

-Running Fast, Lifting Heavy