Marathon Monday: that ‘red line’

Happy Marathon Monday!!!!!!!!!  Hope you all had a restful weekend (and holiday if you are American!).  Things were pretty low key around here – errands, food prep, condo-hunting (!!!), watching six episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine (does anyone else watch this??), and a couple of runs.  Guess I can’t complain, right??


So I’m three weeks into my training plan (thank you, Phaedra!) and I’d be lying if I said I felt great.  I’m getting my runs done but I don’t feel amazing about them.  Some are on the treadmill (which I hate) and the outdoor ones have been quite a bit slower than I’ve expected.  I know it’s still early but when you are used to running 7:00-7:30 minute miles for a tempo run and then all of a sudden struggle to hit anything under a sub-8:00, it gets frustrating.  I came across this article that reminded me not to get wrapped up in numbers, especially when the weather is less than ideal.  It was CRAZY windy during my last two tempo runs so I know that played a huge role in slowing me down.


And this was pretty much all I needed to read:

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My red line on Tuesday’s crazy wind storm was a lot different than my red line on a perfect sunny day in September.  AND THAT’S OKAY.  My red line after a day of work is going to be a lot different than my red line first thing in the morning when I’ve got all the energy in the world.  AND THAT’S OKAY TOO!  We just do whatever we can with the cards we are dealt for that day, right?  Right.  With all that being said, tempos still rank high on my ‘favourites’ list.  I love any and all speed workouts.  I go into them knowing I have something to focus on so they go by much faster than a long steady-paced run.

Just in case you are wondering (because I never knew what the heck a tempo was when I started running):

Tempos: warm-up -> run at/above anaerobic threshold (aka “red line”/comfortably hard) for X amount of miles -> cool-down

Why run tempos?  They increase your lactate threshold (point at which your body gets tired at a certain pace), allowing you to run faster with less effort.  They make faster paces feel easier so YOU MUST DO THESE.  Doing a weekly tempo run was the only reason I was able to PR at the Scotia Half Marathon.

And for last week’s workouts:

Monday: OFF

Tuesday: 7 miles @ 8:01 AP

Wednesday: strength training

Thursday: OFF

Friday: 3.1 miles @ 9:07 AP + strength training

Saturday: 6.2 miles @ 8:32 AP

Sunday: 15 miles @ ???


Yesterday I ran with OTHER PEOPLE!  This is rare and it was so, so nice.  It was my friend Heather’s birthday so a bunch of us got together and ran just over 13 miles together (and I ran a little before I met them since I had to get a bit more distance in).  It was such a great day and the time passed so quickly.  To top it off, it was warm enough for SHORTS.  I’m not sure what my average pace was because when I met them, I forgot to stop my watch and we chatted for a good 5-10 minutes before I started running again so I hit the reset button…but I’m guessing it was somewhere around 8:45-8:55.

Crossing my fingers that I’m a little more excited about this week’s training.  One month until 2014 is over (crazy, right?) and my goal is to log some good quality miles and stay POSITIVE despite the weather that will be heading our way.

Do you have any goals for the month?

10 tips for running in the COLD!

Happy Wednesday!  So last night I went out for what was supposed to be a tempo run but HOLY SMOKES – it was SO cold and windy.  I tried my best to keep it together and fight the wind but it was a bit difficult so the speed just wasn’t there.  I got it done and felt really good once it was over (mostly because my legs, face, and hands were finally able to thaw out!).  With the temperature dropping here (and in a lot of other places), I thought I’d put together some tips for running in the cold (all based on my own experiences).

Here we go.

1.  Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.  The fact that you are outside running in these ridiculous temperatures is an achievement in itself.  It’s hard to run fast in the cold and even harder when the sidewalks are full of ice and snow.  Pace yourself, be careful, and keep reminding yourself that it’s not always about speed.  Janae posted this on her blog yesterday and it really helps to put the impact of cold weather running into perspective!

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Full article from Runner Academy can be found here.

2.  Choose winter-friendly running shoes!  I know some people who will either wear Yaktrax over top their running shoes or even stud the bottom of their shoes with screws to help with traction.  Last year I just wore my Mizuno Ascends and I was fine.  They are trail shoes so the bottoms had more of a grip than my other Mizunos that I train in (Sayonaras and Inspires).  They don’t make the Ascends anymore but the new Wave Kazan would be this year’s equivalent!


I highly suggest you cover your ankles too…

3.  Become BFFs with the TREADMILL.  I hate the treadmill but there are going to be some days this winter where I have no other option.  Last year we were hit with a few ice storms which made it impossible to run outside unless I wanted to risk breaking my face.  Learn to love the dreadful ‘mill and just be thankful that there are other options for running when Mother Nature decides she wants to mess with you and your training.

4.  Find people to run with, whether it’s outside or beside you on the treadmill.  It will make winter running more bearable.  I do the bulk of my training alone but when the cold weather hits, it’s nice to have someone with you to make the time go by, even if it’s just for a portion of your run.  With that being said, if anyone wants to do long runs on Sundays……… :)


5.  Don’t give yourself the chance to make excuses.  I’m notorious for saying I’ll run later…and then not actually run.  It’s really, really easy to stay at home under your covers instead of heading out the door for a tempo when it’s -15*C outside.  To make this a tiny bit easier, I always have my clothes ready.  If I’m doing a morning workout/run, I will either wear (some of) my clothes to sleep or lay them out on my dresser so they are right in front of my face when I wake up.  If I’m doing an evening/post-work run then I will wear (some of) my clothes to work (i.e. I’ll wear my running tights/running socks with nice boots and a sports bra under whatever shirt I’m wearing to work) so that when I get home I just have to put on a different top layer and change into my running shoes.

6.  Wear the right gear.  I know running clothes are expensive but trust me when I say this – they are 100% worth it.  A good wind/water-resistant jacket (like this one), thermal top (like this one), lined tights (like these), a hat, gloves, neck warmer… Wear it all.  Layer up.  It’s easier to take layers off than it is to be freezing for the entire duration of your run.  I know a lot of people dress for 10* warmer than what the weather actually is but I personally cannot stand being cold (plus it takes me longer than the average person to warm up #circulationproblems).  I tend to layer and then if need be, I’ll take my jacket off and tie it around my waist or remove my gloves and stick them in my pockets or sports bra (a little enhancement never hurt anyone haha).


7.  Give yourself something to look forward to at the end of your run.  Whether it’s a post-long run Starbucks latte or that soup you batch cooked on the weekend or even just a reeeaallllllly long, hot shower – knowing there’s something HOT at the “finish line” kinda helps (for me at least!).

8.  Don’t forget to HYDRATE and FUEL.  We don’t get hot or feel dehydrated as quickly when its cold out so it’s harder to remember to drink and eat.  Keep in mind that straws and spouts may freeze so it’s best to start drinking right away (even if it’s just little sips) to keep the passageway open/unfrozen.  If you are wearing multiple layers, wear your hydration belt or pack over your first layer (close to your body) rather than over top two or three layers.  This will help with freezing too.  I tend to stick to gels over chews because chews freeze and turn into rocks, making them very hard to eat!

9.  HotHands!!!  I still need to go buy a box of these for this season!  Your hands (and feet) usually take the longest to warm up so these things are life savers.  Just stick them in your gloves and your hands will be nice and toasty.  I had no idea they made foot warmers and body warmers too!  Must. Buy. ASAP.

10.  Keep your END GOAL in mind all. the. time.  I was in the exact same place last year – training through a brutally cold winter for the Phoenix Marathon.  I just kept reminding myself that the race would feel SO easy compared to the crazy conditions I put my body through during my training.  Remind yourself that it will all be worth it in the end.  Every bone chilling run through the ice, snow, wind, and cold will make the finish line feel that much sweeter knowing how hard you worked.

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If you can think of anything else that helps YOU make it through cold runs, please share!!!

This time…

Since my Phoenix Marathon training starts on Monday and I was forced (haha) to do absolutely no physical activity this week, I thought I’d just spend all my spare time thinking about running and figuring out what I will do different this time around.  When I trained for Phoenix last year, I think I did a good job but I know I could have done better.  There is always room for improvement.  Always.


So this time…

  • I will commit to 2-3 strength training sessions per week.  I need need neeeeeeed to stay on top of this during my training cycle.  Every time I get lazy with weights, little injuries start to creep their way into my legs.  We don’t want that happening now, do we?
  • Run my long runs SLOW.  I am guilty of wanting to get my long runs over with as quickly as possible, especially in the winter.  Running in the cold and snow is one of the worst things ever but I really, really want to focus on keeping my long runs slow and saving my speed for tempos and track workouts.
  • Go to yoga once a week.  I’ve probably declared yoga to be a goal of mine since I started this blog years ago but this time it’s for real.  I need it in my life for about a gazillion reasons.
  • Stalk Phaedra.  I warned her about this last weekend.  I was a bit quiet during my last training cycle.  She would email me my plans and I’d just do as she said.  I’d only really email or text her if I had to ask something super important.  This time around I plan on borderline harassing her so that I know exactly what I’m doing or so that I have someone to vent to when I ask myself why the HECK I decided to train for another marathon through the winter (because I know there will be several days when I question my sanity).
  • Nail my nutrition.  If you’ve been reading, you already know that my GI issues have had their moments.  My doctor wants me to get tested for Celiac next which is making me super nervous because I refuse to live without gluten.  Getting to the bottom of this is at the top of my to-do list because running for 3+ hours with a wonky stomach does not make for a very good time.
  • Have my heart checked.  There have been way too many deaths at races recently (a man in his 50s died at the finish line on Sunday) and with my dad’s death being due to a heart attack, I just want to be sure that it’s even safe for me to not only race but also to train at this capacity.  I’ve been fine so far…but you just never know.

I’ll have my Marathon Mondays to hold me accountable and will do my very best to stick to these goals over the next 16 weeks!

Thank goodness tomorrow is WIAW.  We can put all this run talk on hold… ;)

Marathon Monday: STWM Race Recap!

Happy Marathon Monday!


I sat here last night looking at a blank screen for much longer than normal because I truthfully don’t even know how all of yesterday even happened.  If you’ve been following along with my training, you know that I was sick all of last week so I wasn’t able to get any training in and was not eating much at all.  I lowered my expectations for yesterday’s half marathon because I just knew that I couldn’t put the same pressure on myself.  I tried going for a shake out run on Saturday to see how my legs felt and everything went well but I ran a bit longer than I had wanted to because I got lost (I ran in a new area while I waited for Princeton to be groomed).  7.26 miles is a bit of a long shake out if you ask me.  At least he looks cute though…


After my run I had to go to the expo and I also was able to get my new phone set up, which took the store about an hour, so I was on my feet way longer than anticipated.  They felt really tired when I got home.  Maybe it’s because I took so much time off and then did a lot in one day?  No idea.  Anyway, I already had my race/post-race gear laid out from Friday (#loseralert) so when I got home I didn’t have too much to do.  I think I went to bed around 10pm but kept waking up to pee because for the first time ever I tried to hydrate and my bladder was just like “Nope.  Not going to sleep just yet!”  Then I got hungry so I went and grabbed some cookies to eat in bed.  Can’t go hungry the day before a race!  Could have probably chosen something better than cookies but…you know how it is.

I woke up at 6am, got ready, grabbed an apple, a single-serving box of Love Grown Foods Power O’s, and some Vega Sugar-Free Energizer, then headed out to make my way downtown.  I got there just after 7am and the race didn’t start until 8:45 but I knew parking would be nuts so I just blasted the heat in my car while getting myself organized.  Before I knew it, it was time to head out for a bathroom stop at Starbucks and a quick warm up.  I didn’t get to warm up as long as I had hoped (less than a mile) because I was afraid I’d get stuck at the back of my corral so I wanted to make my way up to the front as early as possible (and got to hang out with Michelle Clarke until the gun went off!).

No point form rundown of each mile because I can’t remember everything I was thinking/feeling but here are my splits!

Mile 1 – 7:48
Mile 2 – 7:33
Mile 3 – 7:22
Mile 4 – 7:27
Mile 5 – 7:25
Mile 6 – 7:40
Mile 7 – 7:33
Mile 8 – 7:39
Mile 9 – 7:32
Mile 10 – 7:41
Mile 11 – 7:47
Mile 12 – 7:41
Mile 13 – 6: 31 (<- I think this might be wrong because it seems pretty freaking impossible, especially at mile 13)
Last 0.51 (my Garmin distance read a little longer than 13.1) – 3:23

I finished in 1:41:05 and my average pace (according to my Garmin) was 7:29/mile.

I really tried to pace myself and be as consistent as possible.  It kinda sorta worked.  My average pace (according to Sportstats) for the first 10km was 4:43/km (or 7:35/mile) and my pace for the remainder of the race (11.1km) was 4:50/km (or 7:47/mile).  My watch read a little longer so there’s a bit of a disconnect with average pace and such but all in all, a decent result.  No negative splits…still learning.


Thanks to Coach PK who took this photo and cheered like CRAZY!

To sum it up, I had no idea I would set a new half marathon PR yesterday and actually feel pretty decent while doing it.  None.  I’ve been struggling to beat my previous PR of 1:44 for years and thought it was just not going to ever be possible.  I came close a couple of times but just couldn’t seem to shave those few seconds off and yesterday I shaved minutes.  Looks like being sick, not eating, taking five full days off, and being on your feet for too long the night before works for me!  Kidding.  Kind of.  I think it’s because I didn’t put any pressure on myself.  I barely looked at my watch during the race and just tried to go based on how I felt.  I also had to pee again right at the start of the race and held it the entire time.  It was super painful and I actually considered peeing on myself (TMI?) more than once.  I didn’t actually do it, don’t worry.  I know a handful of people that have though and I can’t imagine that it is a very pleasant feeling!

A bunch of my friends came out to cheer but unfortunately I missed Angela, Jess, Danielle, and Claire [no blog but you can see her pretty face below].  Danielle did make these awesome signs and although I missed them, a lot of people said that they had a good laugh when they saw them on the course!



Danielle and Claire had to leave early so I went to Fresh for lunch with Angela and Jess for some much-needed fuel before heading home.  I ordered a vegan clubhouse wrap and sweet potato fries.  Hit the spot.

It was such a great day and as crazy as it might be to wake up early, pay ridiculous race entry fees, and wait in the freezing cold to run the streets of my own city…I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Now I’m determined to run a sub-1:40 and may or may not make an attempt at the Hamilton Half Marathon in two weeks.  We’ll see!  Us runners are never satisfied, huh?


Hope you all had a great weekend!

Today calls for a celebration

Today calls for a celebration because…..

…my 21-day sugar strike is OVER!  That went by soooo fast and it wasn’t even torturous.  Truthfully, I didn’t notice much difference in regards to my digestion so I don’t think sugar is the culprit.  I think the biggest lesson I learned through all of this is that I don’t really crave sugar as much as I thought I did.  There wasn’t even one moment where I was like “omg I need to eat that but I can’t because of my sugar strike”.  It’s crazy how our brains often think we want something when we really don’t (if that makes any sense).  I think a lot of the times when I eat sweets it was because I feel like I “should” eat them.  For example, after a big race I often just eat heaps of candy because I know I could.  It’s weird logic – I burned X amount of calories so I should eat at least X amount of calories worth of junk food because I deserve it.  Probably not the smartest thing to do when it comes to recovery.  I’m not saying that post-race treats shouldn’t happen.  I’m all about a good face-stuffing after a race (or even just a solid run):


post-ottawa marathon (2010)

That race was NOT a good time.  It was my first marathon and I questioned my sanity about a million times all while telling myself I would absolutely never consider running a full marathon ever again.  Only took me four years to change my mind… ;)  Oh and all those mini bags of chips were from the expo.  They needed to get rid of them so some guy gave me an entire box but I didn’t even eat those ones because they were plain and I hate plain chips unless I’ve got dip.

Okay we are starting to get off topic here.

What I’m trying to get to is that I noticed a huge difference in how I felt after Sunday’s race in comparison to a lot of past races.  When it was over I ate some watermelon and an apple and then when I got home I had a roasted broccoli chickpea burger on a whole wheat bun.  I also had some BBQ chips but I didn’t eat to the point of a food coma (we’ve all been there!!) and I definitely didn’t eat an entire bag in bed.  I just felt normal.  No headache, no discomfort or bloat – just good food and a satisfied belly.  I guess good food really does do a body good.

Now the big question: did I cheat??

Simple answer: yes.  Aside from the juice incident, there were two other times I sort of slipped.  Once I ate half a bag of Smartfood sweet & salty popcorn (I have no explanation for this other than it was delicious and I couldn’t stop) and the other time was just yesterday – I ate some of a protein bar that was in my race kit without even thinking and after a few bites, realized that sugar was at the top of the ingredient list.  Oops.

Maybe even the BIGGER question: what will I eat today???

I honestly don’t even know!  I thought there would be a list of things that I would just have to eat today but as of right now I cannot think of anything.  If there is something that I want later then I’ll have it but truthfully, I think I’d rather celebrate the end of my strike with a burrito.  Is that weird?!  I’ll let you guys know if I eat something remotely interesting in tomorrow’s WIAW post!

Have a great day!

I need help sleeping

Soooo this may as well be a Thinking Out Loud post because I just have a bunch of random things to tell you today.

Guys, I just cant get myself to the gym in the mornings anymore.  I have no idea how I used to do it just a few months ago.  Last week when I said I’d attempt it, I failed (just as predicted) and today the same thing happened.  I set my alarm for 4:30am and hit snooze over and over again until 6:45am when I had to get ready for work.  I was in bed last night by 10pm but for some reason I cannot fall asleep.  I was literally laying there awake until after midnight so this is why I’m struggling to wake up so early.  There’s no way I can function with 4.5 hours of sleep and I absolutely will not go to the gym in the evening.  It turns into a “who can show more skin and wear more makeup” kind of workout party and I can’t deal with it.  Just not happening.  We’ve got quite the dilemma here.  If anyone has any “how to get to sleep faster” tips…HELP!

No run today because I ran yesterday (chiro’s orders are to run every other day) but I did finally reach 1,000 miles for 2014 after yesterday’s 4.8 miles! :)


I’m pretty excited about that.  My original goal at the beginning of the year was to run 100 miles/month but I’ve been slightly exceeding that each month so I’m a little bit ahead for the year.  Maybe I can try for 1,500 or is that too much?!  I do start marathon training soon so it may be possible.  I can’t believe the Phoenix Marathon is just 5 months away.  Eek.  Remember if you want to run it (it’s going to be a PAR-TAY), using the code XTINA10 will get you 10% off your registration (any distance).  It’s super flat/downhill and a perfect course to attempt a BQ which I may or may not be planning to try… ;)  Shaving 20 minutes off a marathon time is not an easy feat but you never know, right?  Last year I PR’d by 26 minutes so anything can happen!

Next random topic: sweet potatoes.

I baked some sweet potatoes this weekend and I think they may have been the best yet.  I chopped them into small cubes and tossed them in Vega Antioxidant Omega oil (any oil will work), garlic powder, sea salt, and smoked paprika.


Life-changing stuff right there.

The rest of this week looks like it’s going to be complete perfection which makes me all kinds of happy:


It is kind of a confusing time of year though when it comes to fashion.  Some people are diving right into fall with their flannel and knee-high boots while others are trying to hang onto summer with their maxi dresses and flip flops.  There’s no happy medium around here.

Last but not least – I’m officially two weeks into my sugar-free challenge and still going strong.  I must confess that last week I went to buy a fresh juice and intended on getting a beet/apple juice (ingredients were just fruit/veggies) but accidentally got a red lemonade.  They were in clear cups and not marked so I had no idea (colours were strangely almost identical).  I didn’t drink the juice right away and when I did, I realized it wasn’t the right one and was soooo disappointed.  There was (cane) sugar in it and it didn’t even taste good.  I ended up throwing it out, not because of the sugar but because it wasn’t what I wanted.  If I’m going to have sugar then it better be something that tastes good!  Other than that, everything has been going fine – no crazy cravings or anything.  I’ve been having a fruit smoothie nearly every morning so that’s probably what helps.  Dates with almond butter are my other go-to and  I’ll probably get shamed for this — but once in a while I will have a Crystal Light (yayyyy aspartame) in iced tea or strawberry kiwi flavour… ;)

Adios amigos and amigas.  See ya tomorrow for WIAW!

Why I’m going sugar-free

In my last post (after talking about the super awesome Vega contest that’s going on right now) I mentioned how I will be challenging myself to a 21 day sugar detox (2 days down, 19 to go!).  I’ve been wanting to do this for a while but to be honest, I’ve been scared.  I don’t like telling myself that I can’t have something because it makes me want it even more.  The feeling of deprivation is not a good one (been there, done that).  Most of you know that I’m a huge proponent of BALANCE.  I like food.  “Bad” food.  I enjoy eating without thinking if that makes any sense.

A part of me also fears failure.  I’m pretty honest on here and I know that if I decide to go to Costco this weekend and buy Halloween candy early for the sole reason of stuffing my face with as many Coffee Crisps as possible, I’m going to tell you.  And you will know that I failed.

So why the heck am I doing this then?

  1. My stomach issues still won’t let up.  Maybe it’s sugar, maybe it’s not.  I still haven’t gotten my test results (follow-up is next Wednesday…finally) so in the meantime I just want to try tweaking things in my diet a little bit to see if it helps.  I know that the effect sugar has on our bodies is obviously not a good one and although I don’t eat an excess amount, you just never really know.
  2. My skin is not horrible but I know it could definitely be improved.  What we look on the outside is (usually) a reflection of what is going on in the inside.  Some people are lucky – I am not one of those people.  I know from experience that my skin looks better when I eat better.
  3. Eliminating sugary, processed foods will force me to eat more whole, nutrient-dense ones.  With a few more races coming up this season, I am going to need all the good-for-you foods I can get.  Fuelling for and recovering from runs is numero uno so that (a) my body doesn’t break and (b) I can hit that half marathon PR I’ve been dreaming about!

So that’s it.  This challenge isn’t about weight loss or anything like that.  I just want to feel good again and I want my running performance to improve.  I am really hoping that this helps me.  If it doesn’t, then I’ll have to try something else (and I’ll celebrate with froyo).  If it does help, then I’ll cry at the fact that sugar is the culprit but I know it’ll be relieving to get to the bottom of it.

I’m two days in and so far, so good.  I’ve got caramel popcorn and nutella in the house and haven’t even been tempted…yet.

I’ll be back either later today or tomorrow with a Thinking Out Loud Thursday post.

Have a great day!