Marathon Monday: 5 Peaks Trail Race Recap (& marathon training week 4)

One of my goals this year was to step outside of my comfort zone and run a trail race.  I always heard great things about the 5 Peaks series so I signed up for the Albion Hills Enduro course (12.6km) on Saturday.  I honestly had no idea what to expect as I have never really run on a trail before.  Actually, I did run 20 miles with Emily during her 100 miler back in January…but it was way different.

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One great thing about trail races is that they start later in the morning.  It was kind of nice to eat breakfast at a normal time and let it digest before starting to run at 10am.  I still got there super early because I always have anxiety about getting lost and finding parking.  Albion Hills is about 45 minutes away from home and I am directionally challenged but I managed to get there without making any wrong turns.  I ate two cups of dry Love Grown O’s on my drive (it’s the only thing I can eat before races these days) and drank water while I waited for familiar faces to arrive.  My friend/coworker Carm was running the Sport distance (6.3km) as his first EVER race so it was really exciting to be there and see him experience it.  I am slowly turning all my friends into runners…muahaha.

Anyway, Carm showed up a few minutes after me so we just chatted, got our bibs, used the porta potty, talked about how nervous we were, applied bug spray, got our post-race water bottles ready, chatted with Elyse and Jess, and before we knew it…it was time to line up in our waves.  We were told to place ourselves based on how fast we run a comfortable 5k so we both went to the front of wave 3 (24-29 minutes) which I think was a good choice for my first trail race.  Thinking back, I may have been fine in wave 2 but I didn’t want to piss off any runners by being too slow (most of the course was a single track).

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I was mostly nervous because I didn’t know what to expect and holy geez…I had my work cut out for me.  The race started on a hill so I was out of breath immediately and I felt like it took me a little while to get everything in check.  The course wasn’t super technical but it definitely had hills (probably why it’s called Albion HILLS), lots of sharp turns, tree roots that like to jump out at you, and a few sections that were quite rocky.  There were moments where I knew running wasn’t even an option.  Some hills just weren’t worth wasting my energy on – I knew I could walk quickly to the top and then continue running when it flattened out a bit.  I observed some people who tried running the hills and I ended up passing a lot of them because by the time they got to the top, they were completely spent.  It took a while, but I learned how to reserve my energy and use it wisely.  I also walked in some spots that were super rocky to avoid falling on my face.  I witnessed way too many accidents and close calls so my goal was to finish without falling/hurting myself/breaking my face.

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(though I almost snapped my ankle when I landed after this jump)

I almost dropped down to the Sport distance, which was easy enough to do as it was one loop and the Enduro distance was two.  It was starting to get really hot and humid…plus it was pretty tempting to veer off to the finish line after completing the first loop. Everyone was cheering and there was WATER.  I didn’t think I’d be able to run the loop a second time.  I’m a bit dramatic, I know.  With that being said, I am SO GLAD that I ran the full Enduro distance.  Running the loop a second time felt so much easier than the first.  I don’t know if I enjoyed it more because I knew exactly what to expect or because I was basically running alone the whole time and felt like a total badass whipping around trees.

I finished in 1:26:12, running a 6:51/km average (11:00/mile).  I thought about not wearing my watch because I didn’t want to stress about pace even though I knew running on the trail would be much, much slower than running on the road.  I honestly think I looked at my watch 2-3 times, just to check my distance.  I didn’t care how fast I was going as I was more concerned with running smart and having a great time.  Mission accomplished.

The best parts about the finish line included seeing how proud Carm was after finishing his first race, drinking ice cold water, getting hugs from Jess, changing into a dry shirt and flip flops, and eating CANDY.  Why don’t all races have candy?!?!

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I loved everything about this race and am thinking of signing up for the last one of the 5 Peaks series in September.  The energy and vibes of a trail race are so different from a road race, though I do love them both!  It was just a nice change to be in a more relaxed environment with less people (137 Enduro finishers, 262 Sport finishers).

Since I raced on Saturday, I woke up a bit more sore than I expected yesterday so I decided to postpone my long run until today.  Last week was a “recovery” week so it looked like this:

Monday: OFF

Tuesday: 7 miles @ 8:39

Wednesday: 3.1 miles @ 8:40

Thursday: 8 miles @ 8:34

Friday: OFF

Saturday: RACE DAY – 12.6km // 7.87 miles

Sunday: OFF (postponed long run!)

Total: 25.97 miles

A little over two weeks and then I’m off to Vancouver for SeaWheeze!  This whole running/racing thing is pretty great.

Hope you had a great weekend and if you haven’t entered my giveaway yet, DO IT.  Ends Wednesday.

Birks Please! [GIVEAWAY]

Friday is a fabulous day for a giveaway, AMIRIGHTORAMIRIGHT?

I recently came across a new website – shoeme.ca, one of Canada’s fastest growing commerce websites.  Their sister site is shoes.com for all of you non-Canadian friends.  The selection of brands on both websites is IN-SANE (451 on shoeme.ca to be exact…check out the list here).  A few of my favourite (which I have owned for years) include Birkenstocks, Clarks, Converse, and Sperrys.  All such classics, all so comfortable.  They also carry the currently popular Teva sandals as well as People Footwear, Hunter boots and FRYE boots!

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Now you know I wouldn’t go without mentioning running shoes, right?  Altra, Brooks, Reebok and Saucony are the most popular brands on the site.  I was recently given the opportunity to order a pair of shoes from shoeme.ca and it was SO hard to decide which ones to get with all the crazy selection but I ended up choosing the Brooks Glycerin 13.

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Aren’t they pretty?!  I have a soft spot for running shoes (if you haven’t noticed) and have really been wanting to try these so I’m pretty excited.  I was torn between the Brooks and the Birkenstock Arizonas.  I own the Gizeh and the Madrid but I need me some Arizonas.  Basically I’m a running shoe and Birkenstock hoarder.

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Other than carrying such a wide variety of brands and styles, I also love that shoeme.ca has

  • FREE shipping
  • FREE returns and exchanges
  • FAST delivery – I got my shoes in two business days!!
  • NO duties (since they come from Canada) – same would go for Americans who order from shoes.com

SO, what’s in it for you??  I am teaming up with shoeme.ca and shoes.com to give away ONE pair of Birkenstocks of YOUR CHOICE (up to $150).  Gahhhhh.  Guys, these are perfect.  You know how flip flops are awesome but probably not the best choice for runners because they offer ZERO support?  Yeah.  Birkenstocks are where it’s at.  They are an awesome alternative, look good with everything, are timeless, and won’t break your feet.

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Kate Moss in Birks circa 1990.  SEE WHAT I MEAN?  #timeless

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Me in Birks circa this morning.  I look just as cool as Kate, right? ;)

How do you win???  This is an Instagram giveaway and it’s super easy to enter.  I’ve posted the details on my account (@the_athletarian) but all you have to do is post a photo of your summer adventure.  It can literally be ANYTHING.  Having shoes in the photo is a bonus!  You can caption the photo with anything and the only two requirements are:

  1. Follow @shoemeca and @shoesdotcom
  2. Use the hashtags #SoleSeeker and #BirksPlease

That’s it!  Now the one thing I will ask you NOT to do is go through all of your summer photos from the last few weeks and start tagging each and every one.  Post something new and fun.  Please!!  And also please ensure your account is public or else I won’t be able to see your photos!

I’ll announce and contact the winner via Instagram next Wednesday, July 29th.  Open to residents of Canada and the U.S.

Good luck!

The countdowns are ON!

Thanks for all of your comments on my last post.  It’s refreshing to hear I’m not alone in all of the “downs” of training and I appreciated all of your suggestions.  Thank you!  After I wrote my post I went and checked my training plan (prescribed by Phaedra) to see what this week was going to look like and it turns out that it’s a RECOVERY WEEK (moderate/easy runs only).  I was so happy to see that and think it’s just what I need for me to enjoy running again without having to focus too much on how fast I’m going.  Hopefully I’ll have my mojo and some speedy legs back for next week.

I was doing some paperwork yesterday and writing a bunch of things down in my planner, realizing that I have SO much to look forward to.  I tend to dwell so much on the things I want/don’t have yet/feel shitty about (not good, I know…working on it) but there are a lot of good things coming so I’m choosing to focus on the positive experiences and accomplishments that I know I’m heading towards.

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This Saturday -> my first TRAIL RACE!!  I’ll be running the 5 Peaks 12.6km Enduro Course and I am super excited to say the least.  I hear they have good food at trail race finish lines… ;)

August 13 – 17 -> I’m in Vancouver for SeaWheeze!  I hate the word epic but I have a feeling that’s the only word that will be able to describe that weekend.  I also hate the words “fleek” and “bae” in case you were wondering.  I am pretty pumped to spend my weekend with Angela (who is now a Vancouverite), Danielle, and SO many other people who I’ve connected with on social media.  I’m also really looking forward to eating at Heirloom again.  Think I can top my last trip and eat there more than five times??

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August 14th -> The last assignment for my online course is DUE.  I will have to submit it earlier seeing as I’ll be in Vancouver but I’ve been doing a good job at staying ahead of all the due dates (#keener) so it’s NBD.  I can taste the freedom.

August 30 – September 3 -> VEGAS with my MOM.  We are going there to celebrate my birthday (which is on September 1st) and plan to see a Cirque du Soleil show and take a helicopter to the Grand Canyon.  I also just found out there is a Cafe Rio in Vegas so I am requesting it for my birthday dinner (#cheapdate).  I can’t wait!!  We went to Aruba together last year and had a blast.  This will be a totally different trip but I know it will be equally awesome.  If you have any recommendations on where to eat/what to do in Vegas, I’d love for you to share!  Neither of us are drinkers or gamblers but we sure do love to shop and eat!

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Aaaaand I just put in my very first offer on a condo last night sooooooo things may or may not be getting real exciting/scary/fun/interesting in the near future.  Yikes.

Change in perspective is good.  Is it weird that I already feel better about running/life/everything just by writing this post??  I’m focusing on the positive, working on getting things done, and looking forward to all the good things coming my way.  I’m grateful that I even have the opportunity to experience all of these things.  I consider myself very, very lucky.

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Thanks for reading my random Wednesday rambles.  I’ll be back tomorrow with a GIVEAWAY!

Marathon Training – WEEK 3

I seriously cannot believe I’ve already been training for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon for three weeks.  We are almost one third of the way through and I am NOT feeling good about things right now.  It’s been a long time since I’ve finished a run and felt like I really nailed it, you know?  I get through them but they either don’t feel good or aren’t as fast as I’d like.  I’m hoping things turn around quickly or I’m in trouble.

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Last week’s workouts:

Monday: OFF

Tuesday: 8.5 miles (tempo)

Wednesday: X-train day (stairs + strength training)

Thursday: OFF

Friday: 6.5 miles (speed work)

Saturday: 14 miles

Sunday: 4 miles (+ strength training)

Total: 33 miles running // x-training x 1 // strength training x 2

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I keep asking myself what it is that I can change so that my runs go a little differently from here on out.  What am I doing wrong?  Why do most of my runs feel like a chore?  Why doesn’t this marathon training cycle feel like the others?

So this week I am going to make these small changes to see if they help:

1.  Go into my runs with confidence.  Mentality is everything.  Instead of getting ready to run thinking “this is probably going to suck just like last time”, I’m going to switch gears and think “I’m going to nail this run as best as I can today and feel good about giving every ounce of effort I’ve got.”

2.  Pay a little more attention to my nutrition.  Turns out eating chips and dip the night before a long run will make you feel like shit.  You will wake up feeling 50 pounds heavier and your mouth will be as dry as the Sahara desert.  Just trust me on this one.

3.  Make a killer playlist.  I got those sweet wireless Jabra headphones a couple of weeks ago and I love them but I tend to go and just listen to the music that I’ve had on my iTunes for years (I’ve always been really lazy when it comes to downloading music and making playlists).  I did just buy the Taylor Swift and Maroon 5 albums (don’t judge me) but I’m not sure there are many running songs on there!  So my project today is to get some new songs that will *hopefully* serve as motivation on those days I need a little kick in the butt (I foresee a lot of Pitbull on my playlists – is it just me or does his music make you feel like you can run fir 67 days straight and not get tired?)

4. Run in different places.  My area is really, really boring.  I think I need to keep things interesting and exciting by exploring new parts of the city.  I did this twice last week – went to a new track for my speed workout and ran in some new downtown spots for my long run.  It definitely helped!

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Today is my OFF day but looks like I’ve still got my work cut out for me.  Meal prep and playlist prep coming right up!  If you have any song suggestions, please let me know!!  Have a great Monday!

P.S. the winner of my Vega Giveaway is….

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CONGRATS, Gio!!!  Please contact me at theathletarian@gmail.com with your address so we can get your goodies out to you asap!!

Marathon Training – Week TWO

I’d call this a Marathon Monday post but it’s not Monday #duh so let’s just roll with it.  Marathon training is hard.  Like really, really hard.  I don’t know how I forgot about all the “downs” and I think I just went into this expecting to be high on life every second of every day and only experience the “ups”.  I love running, yes, but some days it sucks.  I’m trying to tell myself that not every run is going to be perfect and there will be days where I’m so frustrated with running that I want to quit this whole training thing and just eat ice cream for the rest of the summer.  Yesterday was the perfect example of this.  I waited until about 12:30pm to go running and it was SO humid.  I had an 8.5 mile run scheduled with 6 miles at tempo pace and I stopped so many times throughout my run.  I was disappointed that I wasn’t hitting my usual tempo pace, felt super dehydrated, and was just not into it. Repeating “Boston” over and over again in my head wasn’t working either.  I just wanted to be done.

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I expressed my frustrations to a friend of mine and he responded with exactly what I needed to hear: “give yourself some leeway for this weather.”  Humidity is a b*tch and we cannot expect to perform the same way when the air makes it so hard to breathe, even our shins are sweating, and we forget to bring water when it’s a million degrees out (#whoops).  On days like this we need to learn to give ourselves a break and just try our best to get through the run given the conditions we are faced with.  Then come home and lay on some cold tiles with water and Coke.

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My goal from here on out is to get my runs done super early, whether I like it or not.  Beating the heat is going to be key this summer.  If for any reason I cannot get my run done early, I will have to hit the treadmill instead of putting myself through another miserably hot run.  I’ve never trained for a full marathon through the summer so this is a new experience for me.  Learning as I go!!

I had to switch some runs around last week because I had a wedding on Saturday and knew I wouldn’t wake up the next day to get my long run in:

Monday: 35 minutes stairmill + strength training

Tuesday: OFF

Wednesday: 8 mile tempo @ 8:11 avg. (my watch went crazy so I don’t have the correct splits but I ran a 2-mile warm-up, 5 miles at tempo, and a 1-mile cool-down)

Thursday: 4 miles easy @ 8:28 avg.

Friday: 7 miles @ 8:36 avg. –> 2-mile w/u @ 8:58 // 5×4 mins hard, 2 mins easy (“hard” mins @ 7:25, 7:10, 7:05, 6:57, 6:50) // 1-mile c/d @ 8:44

Saturday: 12.5 miles @ 8:47 avg.

Sunday: OFF

Total: 31.5 miles running // 1 day of weights + cross training

No running on the schedule today…and I’m pretty happy about that considering yesterday’s flop.  I’m off to the gym for some weight training now and will *hopefully* feel ready to take on a speed workout at the track tomorrow.

ADIOS!

New Balance Zante – A REVIEW!

I’ve stepped out of my running shoe comfort zone lately.  This can be a SCARY thing for runners, you know???  I was presented with some opportunities to try out some new-to-me brands and get involved in things that really interested me so I thought WHY NOT??  Variety is the spice of life.  AMIRIGHT?

With that being said, I recently gave the New Balance Zantes a try.  At first glance I thought they were pretty.  Yes, pretty.  I liked the colours and how CLEAN the shoes looked.  Sleek, simple, and bold.  I didn’t know much about them so my first impressions were completely based on physical appearance (this sounds like a dating story).

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ANYWAY, once I actually saw/felt them in person at Sport Chek, my initial reaction was “WHOA.  These are so light and I probably won’t be able to run in them without breaking my ankles.”  Let me tell you a quick story.  Once upon a time I ran the NYC Men’s Health Urbanathlon in a pair of super light and not-so-supportive shoes (I won’t name the brand).  The course was 10 miles + obstacles and although I completed it pain-free, I couldn’t walk without ankle pain for WEEKS.  I’ve had a fear of light and less supportive shoes since then.  So what did I do??  I bought the New Balance Zantes anyway.  I figured I’d try them out on a really short run and if they felt horrible, I’d use them for cross training.

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From the New Balance Website:

Designed from data gathered from fast runners, Fresh Foam Zante has an aggressive toe spring that delivers a quick, incredibly smooth heel to toe transition.  Nothing is on the shoe that doesn’t need to be, making it feel like an extension of your foot.

  • 6 mm drop: due to variances created during the development and manufacturing processes, all references to 6 mm drop are approximate
  • Molded sockliner
  • No-sew material application

Other specs:

  • Weight: 6.4oz (women), 7.6oz (men)
  • Midsole is made of Fresh Foam, providing continual cushioning no matter where you come down on the shoe
  • Toe spring assists with the quick transition of the foot from heel to toe
  • Rubber outsole is lightweight, yet stabilizes and protects foot upon impact
  • Breathable mesh upper provides a secure, yet flexible and soft fit

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So, how did they feel?!

I’ll be honest, when I first put them on I was a bit nervous.  They almost felt too comfortable, like a sock.  I went out for the first time in them aiming to do no more than 3 miles and to my surprise, ended up doing 6.2 instead.  The toe spring made it feel like I had rockets under my feet.  I think that’s the best way to explain it!  I feel super light and fast when I run in these shoes…probably because the Zantes are light and fast.  They’ve got a bootie-like design which makes them snug and cozy and comfortable in all the right places (hence the sock-like feel).  At the same time, they have a spacious (but not too spacious) toe box which is key in preventing those lovely blisters and black toenails that us runners tend to get.  Yes, they are less supportive than some of the other runners I wear but they seem to work for me when I run shorter distances.  I haven’t tried them for anything longer than 6.2 miles and I probably wouldn’t go that much further in them based on my own experience.  I know my feet and legs are super finicky when it comes to choosing the right shoes, especially for long runs, so I’ll be sticking to shoes with a little more support for my distance training for now.  I do know that they were Jess’s shoe choice for BOSTON so you definitely can run long distances in them but I just know that for me, it will take a little bit of time to build up to that (Jess has perfect form/stride/gait and runs like a gazelle #superhuman).

My running has changed a lot over the last few years.  I used to be a severe pronator and I literally just found out this week that is no longer the case.  I had a real gait analysis done…but more on that soon.  The point I’m trying to make is that I’m probably having an easier time running in more neutral/lighter shoes these days because I don’t need as much “help” from my shoes as I used to.  You know what I’m saying??

One more thing – SIZING.  I take an 8 in regular shoes and an 8.5 in most running shoes.  The Zantes were no exception.  The 8.5 fit perfect.

I’ll be keeping the Zantes in my rotation for short/easy runs and some speed work FOR. SURE.

P.S. I posted a MEGA VEGA giveaway on Tuesday if you haven’t entered yet!!

Have a great day!

Free training plans + MEGA VEGA GIVEAWAY!

A couple months ago I posted about how Vega created an education hub chockfull of resources for runners – training plans, playlists, meal plans, and recipes.  Well, they’ve stepped things up yet again and when you sign up for FREE, you can now choose from a Running or Strength and Conditioning Plan (or both)!

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What’s included in the plans?  OH I’LL TELL YOU.

  • Meal & Fuelling Plans
  • Training Plans (10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon, 4 Week Strength & Conditioning)
  • Detailed Workout Series
  • 25+ Recipes
  • Grocery Lists
  • Workout & Nutrition Difference Makers
  • Playlists
  • Curated Articles by Health Experts

Once you’re signed up, you’ll receive PDF downloads.

For RUNNING:

  • Week !: Long Slow Distance Runs
  • Week 2: Tempo Runs
  • Week 3: Hill Runs & Speed Work
  • Week 4: Shakeout Runs
  • Week 5: Cross-training
  • Week 6: Rest Days
  • Week 7: Longer Slow Distance – End of Training Plan
  • Week 8: Race Day!

Some examples of what you might find in your running plan:

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For STRENGTH:

  • Week 1: Develop a Stronger Core and Improve Full-Body Strength
  • Week 2: Build Lean Muscle and Reduce Body Fat
  • Week 3: Strengthen your Conditioning and Endurance
  • Week 4: Recover Faster
  • Week 5: Improve Speed, Agility, and Quickness
  • Week 6: Enhance Explosive Power

Some examples of what you might find in your strength and conditioning plan:

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Kinda sounds too good to be true, especially since it’s all free (you can sign up HERE).  Get on it!  Take advantage of all the awesome resources!!

To celebrate the awesomeness that Vega has put together AS WELL AS the start of my very own marathon training, we have teamed up to give away the ultimate Marathon Training Kit.  I use this stuff on the regular and am pretty pumped that one of you will get the chance to try out all of my favourite goodies ($315 value)!

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You will receive (one tub/box of each):

To enter, just leave me a comment below telling me anything you want – what you’re training for, your big goals for the season, your ultimate dream race, the best thing you ate today, your favourite ice cream flavour.  Anything!

Winner will be randomly selected and announced this Friday, July 10th.  Open to residents of the U.S. and Canada.  Good luck!