Thinking Out Loud #27


Thinking.  Out.  Loud. Thursday Friday.


Let’s hop to it!

1.  I had every intention of writing up a WIAW post this week.  I started my day [Tuesday] photographing a delicious smoothie for breakfast, an avocado/tomato/hummus sandwich for lunch….and then things got out of hand.  I spend the rest of the day snacking on spoonfuls of Justin’s maple almond butter, handfuls of popcorn, watermelon, carrots with hummus, and probably about 13 other things I’m forgetting.  That’s just how some days go around here!

2.  I was thinking about my goals for this year and one of them was to run 14 races.  We are more than halfway through the year now and I’ve run six races so far.  I have SeaWheeze coming up next month and I just signed myself up for the Midsummer Night Run (15K), MEC 10K and the Toronto 10-miler.  I’m also supposed to be running the Chicago Marathon this fall but may be switching to the Toronto Marathon instead (they are only a week apart)…  I will have to see what works budget-wise as we get closer to the date.  Anyway, if all goes well that will bring me up to 11 races by October and then I should be able to find three more to squeeze in before the year ends!  So much work.  I don’t know how you people who run a marathon a month do it!

3.  Speaking of marathons — I know if mentioned it before but I’m planning on running Phoenix in 2015.  It will be my first *real* attempt at a BQ.  It is honestly the fastest course ever – all flat/downhill.  If I’m ever to BQ, I’m pretty sure Phoenix is the only race I will ever even stand a chance.  If you guys want to come join the party and eat Cafe Rio both pre- and post-race like I plan on doing, you can use the code XTINA10 to get 10% off your registration.

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Training through the winter and losing toenails was 100% worth it.

4.  I can’t remember who posted this but I saw it on Facebook the other day and saved it.  The World’s Most Dangerous Foods For Dogs:

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I knew about raisins, onions, garlic, grapes, and chocolate but had no idea about all the others.  So if you have a dog, take note!!

5.  I went for dinner last night with one of my girlfriends and holy. cow.  If you live in Toronto you must, and I repeat must try La Carnita on College Street.  It was by far the best Mexican food I’ve ever had.


It was pretty dark in the restaurant so my photos are quite horrible but you get the idea.  We started with tortilla chips and guacamole as well as Mexican street corn (<– life-changing), had tacos for our main (I order the ‘crispy cotija’ which was crispy cheese, cauliflower, pinto beans, pickled carrots, and chipotle sauce), and we finished with an order of churros (unpictured) and paletas.  Paletas are basically ice cream bars and they make them in-house with the flavours varying daily.  We both got the chocolate peanut butter and it was to die for.  It was sort of like a chocolate fudgesicle with salty peanuts all over.  Also known as heaven.  Anyway if you live here or if you’re visiting…GO TO LA CARNITA.  You may have to wait a little to get in but it’s worth it.  Trust me.

6.  If you follow a lot of fitness accounts in Instagram, you’ve probably already heard of the “blendicano” – a drink @mshelllll created and has got everyone hopped up on.  I kept seeing it over and over again so I finally bit the bullet and got one today while I was at the mall doing some shopping.


If you ask for a blendicano, the barista probably won’t know what you are talking about.  To order the drink you ask for four shots of espresso blended with a vent cup of ice and sugar-free vanilla syrup (or any other syrup).  I’m not a regular coffee drinker so this was insanely strong for me.  I could barely even taste the vanilla because the coffee was so strong and by the time I got home I had a headache.  Sooo let’s just say I won’t be ordering that again.  If you like coffee and want a filling drink with no calories then maybe you will like it…

7.  Just a casual hail storm in August….


8. …which kind of affected plans tonight.  It’s my cousin’s birthday and we were planning on going out to a restaurant to celebrate but that is definitely not happening.  I think we’ve decided on a night in with lots of take out and stretchy pants instead.  My kinda party! ;)

I hope you all have a great weekend!  I’ll be back Monday for a new Marathon Monday post (finally)!

How I got faster

The first thing I’d like to address today is my recent idea of switching careers to become a professional dog photographer…


He does make it easy… ;)

Second – did anyone watch The Bachelorette finale last night?  I won’t say who she picked just in case some people haven’t watched it yet but I am so happy with who she went for!  I haven’t really been following this season the way I usually do because it wasn’t as interesting or dramatic as Juan Pablo.  I did catch some episodes though and the “winner” was my pick too.

About 15 minutes before it started I realized that I had a huge bag of corn chips but NO SALSA so I walked on over to the small convenience store by my house and picked up two jars.  Because it’s normal for one person to eat an entire bag of chips and two jars of salsa in one sitting, right?


I should have taken a better photo of the jars but the one with the purplish lid is a new roasted red pepper salsa and it is the BEST salsa I’ve ever tried in my entire life.  Hands down.  It’s got a really great smoky flavour.  Go get yourself some Tostitos roasted red pepper salsa asap.

Today I woke up not feeling so great (could have been all that salsa…) but I really wanted to try and get a tempo run in since my runs have been kind of lacking purpose lately.  Since my trip I’ve just kind of been running whatever I feel at whatever pace I want.  With SeaWheeze less than a month away I thought I should probably attempt a few speed sessions to gage where I’m at.  So off I went and ran one of my very best tempo runs ever.


1 mile warm-up, 7:32, 7:24, 7:22, 7:17, 1.2 mile cool-down.  I was not expecting this at all because my last few tempo runs have been in the 7:40-7:50 range and I became okay with it.  I just assumed that’s where I was at but all I really needed to do was try a little harder.

I posted my run on my instagram and had a few people ask me how I got faster.  Truthfully, I think having a coach really helps.  Phaedra has been great over the past few months and really made me realize my true potential.  I remember getting my very first training plan from her and seeing that she wanted me to hit a 7:55 mile and I was like, “There’s absolutely no way…”  But I did!  From there I just kept trying to challenge myself (and she kept trying to challenge me too).  Some days I’d see if I could run in the 7:40′s and when I realized that was possible I pushed myself to see if I could run 7:30′s.  I also ran some races and hit times I never thought would be possible.  If I could hit those numbers during races then I can obviously run a lot faster than I think, right?

Today when I hit my third tempo mile I just thought I was spent.  There was no way my next mile could be any faster.  Wrong.  I just told myself – “Give it all you’ve got for this mile.  Focus.  Quick feet.  When it’s over you get to cool down!  And when you get home you can EAT!”  I just repeated weird things like that in my head and it worked.

I also think that a big thing for me is not running too much.  So many people are concerned with clocking as many miles as possible.  I used to be exactly the same way but I realized that it wasn’t getting me anywhere.  I started to focus on more “quality” runs and making sure I got in a long run, a tempo run, a progression run (with a strong, fast finish), and an easy run every week.  I average about 25-30 miles a week right now and it has been working for me so far.  I also try to cross train on days I’m not running but lately I’ve been slacking.  I’ll get back there eventually…

Your mind really controls a lot more than you think.  Never believe that you CAN’T do something because nothing good ever comes out of negative thoughts.  Sure, it might take time to get where you want to be but as long as you believe you will get there, you will.  It’s just a matter of time, hard work, consistency, and trust in both yourself and the whole process.

How’s that for a cheesy ending?  Happy Tuesday!

Let’s catch up instead

Today is usually Marathon Monday around here but I figured since I had a really low mileage week last week and spent a lot of time resting instead of running, we could just catch up today instead!  I did hit my goal of 100+ miles for the month which I am super happy about, especially after taking it really easy last week.  My plan was only to run once, reach 100, and then spend the rest of the week relaxing…but I ended up doing a couple of shorter runs instead to reach my goal.  It all worked out and I’m more than ready to start July strong.


I tried Oh She Glows black bean burgers (from the cookbook) over the weekend and they were awesome.  They are pretty simple to put together and don’t take very long but I did find that they fall apart easily, especially when trying to flip them mid-way through cooking.  I have yet to make a veggie burger that holds together well.  The flavours in Angela’s recipes are always amazing though so I’d totally make these again.  I’ll use my broken burgers in salads or wraps and no one will ever know… ;)


I went out with a couple of my favourite girls on Saturday night…


…ate a vegan poutine and tried a vegan whoopie pie for the first time ever.  I’d have to say that whoopie pies are definitely not my first choice when it comes to dessert but we were curious…and not that impressed.  It kind of lacked flavour and had an odd texture.  I’ve been weird about desserts lately though so maybe it’s just me.  I used to hate sweets until I hit my 20s (my mom once had a restaurant make me a nacho birthday cake when I was a kid – no lie), then started eating anything and everything with sugar in it, and now I’m starting to feel like I’m having a bit of an aversion to all things sweet again.  I’ll eat sweet treats but I definitely don’t crave them or go out of my way to buy something sugary these days.  So strange.

During one of my runs I saw this guy hanging by the sidewalk….


A BUNNY!!  It was on a major street with a lot of traffic so I don’t know how the heck he got there but he was so darn cute and a nice little mid-run surprise.  While I was trying to get a photo a woman was walking towards me and all I kept thinking was “I hope the bunny is still here when she walks by or she will think I am crazy snapping photos of the dirt.”  Low and behold….as soon as she came the bunny hopped away and she looked at me like I was a mental case.

Watermelon juice – try it.


I just threw some watermelon in my Vitamix and blended it, refrigerated it and drank it the next day after a run.  Perfect.

I finally finished season one of Orange is the New Black.  Oh.  My.  Word.  That is all I have to say.  I cannot wait to start season two.  What a strange yet brilliant show.

Tomorrow is Canada Day which means fireworks and a dog that goes into withdrawal.  I’m not looking forward to it.  After what happened on Victoria Day, Princeton has completely changed.  He used to be okay with loud noises but now he can’t even be outside if there are kids playing with a basketball or if neighbours are using some sort of power tools.  It took him almost 48 hours before he would go outside after the last holiday so if anyone with a dog has dealt with this I’d love to know if you have any tips!


Hope you all have a great Monday and Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canadians!

Let’s catch up – fill me in on your weekend!  Do anything fun?  Try anything new?

Change of plans… #RealStories

Good morning and happy Tuesday to YOU.  I woke up late this morning…I guess having the summer off will do that to you, eh?  The first thing I do when I wake up is check my phone to see what time it is but this morning I was a little taken back with all the notifications I had.  Vega finally released THE video.  The video I have been waiting for.

Here’s the rundown if  you’re new here -

Vega flew me out to run the Vancouver Marathon at the beginning of May.  I was going to be part of their newest #fuelyourbetter campaign.  They had come to Toronto a few weeks prior to get some filming done and to interview me about my training.  During said interview, I probably mentioned Emily (aka RunEmz) about 444 times.  We talked about how we met, how she paced me in Phoenix, and just about how she’s an all around awesome person/mother/wife/friend/runner.  I told John (the mastermind behind this whole project) that I was scared I wouldn’t be able to finish the Vancouver Marathon without Emily.  She was MY rock.


Vega decided to be sneaky and fly Emily from Arizona to Vancouver to surprise me (I wrote about it here), cheer me on, and run part of the race with me (race recap here).

I won’t say too much more.  Here’s the video.

Three things to take from this whole experience (for ME, at least):

1.  There is nothing, and I mean nothing like a true and supportive friend.  Emily and I live in different countries but I know she is always here even when she’s there.  She inspires me.  She always wants what’s best for me.  She lets me yell, laugh, cry, scream, and curse (blisters popping during a race will do that) when I need to.  She gets me.  I only hope that I can somehow repay her for all she has done for me one day.  That I can support her the way she has supported me.

2.  Running has changed my life.  It’s kind of hard to explain…but the things it does for my head, my heart, and my soul…I need it.  From the experiences I’ve had, the races I’ve run, the people I’ve met, this BLOG, and all the things I’ve learned throughout my “running years”…I am so grateful to be able to run.

3.  Vega just rocks in every possible way.  They have supported me throughout my journey since day one.  My relationship with them has grown tremendously over the last few years and I will forever be indebted to them for all that they have done for me.  I am so lucky to have them by my side, making sure I’m well-fuelled for whatever adventure I have planned next.

So there was a bit of a change of plans.  What started out as a campaign focused on fuelling your better through things like nutrition, discipline, and training, expanded into a campaign about #RealStories.  As much as I need those other things to get me to a finish line, I also need the my friends, family, and running community.  Strength and support from others = the best kind of fuel one can have.

Now excuse me while I go polish off another box of tissues…

Thinking Out Loud #21

I know Thinking Out Loud Thursdays are meant for fun random facts and lists of completely unrelated news but today I just want to write about one thing that I’ve been thinking about since yesterday’s post.  So technically I’m still thinking out loud…but without the pictures of Princeton, fun food, and running pictures.

I got a couple messages yesterday from people saying that they felt like they eat “too much” after reading bloggers’ WIAW posts.  See, this is why I never really used to do them.  It’s so easy to compare what you eat to what others eat, make judgements, feel bad about yourself, reconsider your own diet/eating patterns, etc.  You need to stop.  A lot of bloggers don’t show you everything.  I showcased a healthier day of eats.  Tuesday was a good day!  Everything I ate made me feel good, my meals were well-balanced, and I enjoyed sharing what a clean, plant-based day of eating looks like for me.  Yesterday was different.  I ate well all day and ordered a pizza for dinner.  PIZZA.  It tasted great and made me feel absolutely horrible just minutes after eating it but you know what, who cares??  It was just a painful reminder of why I don’t eat like that all the time.

You also have to take a lot of other factors into consideration.  I posted Tuesday’s eats (rest day) and wasn’t active at all so my appetite wasn’t as crazy as it is on days that I run or go o the gym.  I am also not that big of a person so what I eat may be enough for me but not enough for you.  Maybe your goals are different.  Are you trying to gain weight?  Lose weight?  Maintain?  I eat when I’m hungry, don’t stress about calories, and I eat what I want.  Some days it’s bean salad and avocado toast, other days it’s take-out pizza and nachos.  It took me a long time how to learn to eat intuitively but it’s honestly the best thing ever.  I just eat what satisfies me in that moment and lucky for me, most of the time the food I eat is actually good for me.

You need to learn what works for you, eat the foods that make you feel good, treat yourself, and don’t let yourself go hungry just because you think you should be eating like someone else.  I know some people who can smash an entire pizza the day before a long run and feel amazing.  And they’re fast.  Should I look at these people and think that I should do the same?  Reconsider my diet because pizza makes people feel awesome on long runs?  Assume that pizza will make me fast like my friends?  How ridiculous would that be?!

Comparing yourself to people is almost inevitable, I know.  It’s hard not to.  Just try and be true to yourself, listen to your body, and use WIAW posts and Instagram pictures of food for inspiration and ideas rather than as a way to question yourself and your own way of eating.

Okay I lied…maybe you are in fact going to get a picture of Princeton after all…

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I hope you have a GREAT Thursday!

Marathon Monday: my plan for summer (& SL10K recap!}

Last week I took SIX DAYS of complete rest.  Well, minus a couple of walks with Princeton, but you get it.  It was kind of awesome and I really just think my body needed it after the Vancouver marathon.  I’m not one of those people that can get back into a serious running routine after a big race.  I know some people who can run multiple marathons a month but I am just not there yet, and may actually never be.  I’m not sure if my body will ever be able to handle that kind of distance and I am okay with it.  A few marathons a year is plenty for me!

Yesterday I ran the Sporting Life 10K…  I had signed up for this race well before knowing I would be running a marathon just a week before so I had no expectations but to run, not “race”.  I thought my legs were 100% so I was excited to just go out and have a fun race in the sun (finally – sun!).  I drove to the start, parked my car, and jogged for a mile just to warm up a bit before the race.  My left quad started to fire like crazy during my warm up and I was taking it super easy so I’m not exactly sure what was going on.  It was probably just mad at me and wanting me to take another week to be lazy and eat candy.  I met up with Robyn real quick, snapped a photo in our matching Sunskis and Mizuno arm warmers, and off we went in our corrals.

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I wasn’t going to wear my Garmin but I put it on anyway and decided at the last second that I would turn it on BUT about a mile into the race I rolled my arm sleeves down and covered it.  I told myself just to go out there and have a good time so I didn’t want to focus on numbers and attempt a PR.  I set a 10K PR just a few weeks ago that I was still ecstatic about plus I had just run a marathon so I wanted this 10K to remain goal-less.  Just get to the finish with a smile.  That’s all that was in my plan.

There was a clock at the 5K mark and I got there in 22:54 (ONE second slower than when I crossed the 5K mark at the Toronto Yonge Street 10K when I PRd) so I totally could have tried for a PR…but I didn’t.  I finished in 47:17 and I’m pretty happy with that. I’ll get my sub-45:00 soon…on a day when I have fresh legs, not post-marathon legs.

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P.S. get the app called “snapseed” – it makes your pictures look like a PARTY.

I don’t have much else to say about this race.  It’s the same course as the Yonge Street 10K – flat/downhill – so it’s ideal if you want to try for a PR.  There were over 21,000 runners so if you like big races with a lot of energy, this one’s for you.  The medals are always pretty unique and most importantly – the race supports Camp Ooch, a camp dedicated to providing amazing experiences to children affected by cancer.  You can read a little more about it here.

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Now let’s talk SUMMER PLANNING!

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’d like to do/where I’d like to be training-wise over the next few months.  I am not running another marathon until the fall so I’m going to spend the spring and summer working on strength and speed.  I’m going to keep up with Marathon Monday posts even though the next one isn’t for a while because everything I do from now until then is still preparing me for another 26.2.  Plus it allows me to recap my training and talk about things I learn, think about, how I am progressing, etc.


I have no really big races to worry about until SeaWheeze in August (which I am hoping to set a new half marathon PR) so I’m really going to spend some time focusing on getting my legs super strong and pushing myself during speed sessions.  I might actually join a serious run group this summer to help me step out of my comfort zone.  We can all run faster than we think.  Sometimes we just need people to chase or people yelling mean things at us.

So I still plan on running, but my mileage will be a little lower.  Long runs are still in the picture but will probably be capped at 13-15 miles (once a week) and I am going to be more dedicated to building some legs and buns of steel that can drive me during speed work!  Time to pick up the pace…and weights!  Of course some easy runs, cross training, and all that jazz will be thrown in the mix too, but a lot of what I do will basically be focused around getting stronger and faster.

Whoop whoop!  Can’t wait to build a plan and get started!

Hope all you mothers out there had a Happy Mother’s Day!

What are some goals you hope to achieve over the next few months??

Marathon Monday: BMO Vancouver Marathon RACE RECAP

Happy Monday!  The weekend was an absolute whirlwind for me.  Ever since the big surprise on Friday, I’ve felt like I’ve been in a big dream.  I don’t know what I did to deserve all the good that has happened to me but all I can say is that I am so grateful.  The last few days have blessed me with some pretty memorable experiences that I will probably talk about for a while!  I ran the BMO Vancouver Marathon yesterday so I thought I would start by putting together a recap for this week’s Marathon Monday.


Th weather was calling for rain all weekend but judging from Friday and Saturday, things still looked promising – like it would be a day of light showers which would be refresing to run in.  I crossed my fingers which absolutely did not work.  I woke up race day morning with a sore throat and the sound of pouring rain outside my hotel window.  Not ideal.  I woke up at 5am and the race didn’t start until 8:30 so there was quite a bit of time for the rain to stop so I just stayed positive and hoped for the best.  I ate a slice of gluten-free bread with peanut butter, took my time getting ready and headed to the start around 7am.  It was early but I had to do a bit of filming for Vega before the start which was fine because early > late.  Being late to races is the worst ever.

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[What I wore: Vega tech tee, Lululemon run skirt (from last year - can't remember the name), Pro Compression calf sleeves, Mizuno Drylite cap, Mizuno Inspires]

The rain didn’t stop and it was pretty dang cold so I was eager to get started to warm up my body.  I knew that some of the Vega team and Emz would be around the 5-6 mile mark so I was really looking forward to seeing them.  They did not disappoint.  I’ve never heard people cheer so loud for me in my entire life.  They had the best signs, cow bells, horns, you name it.

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It was so great to see all of them, get a big hug from Emz, and then continue trotting along.  I took a Vega gel just after the 6 mile mark and was really happy with the way I was pacing myself.  The course is quite hilly so I ran based on effort which ended up being a lot faster than I anticipated…at least for the first part of the race.  I was holding an 8:30 min/mile pace for the first half and felt awesome.  My legs felt good, my energy didn’t plummet once, my body was finally getting warm, and I was just excited to be running.

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I didn’t have a time goal for myself for this race.  Finishing was the plan.  I got to the halfway mark well before two hours and took another gel.  When I got to around 15-16 miles though I started having all these crazy thoughts of setting a new PR.  It was so possible.  If I just kept my pace up for the rest of the race I would kill my previous PR that I set in Phoenix.  Easier said than done.

It was around the 20 mile mark that I started to fall apart.  I saw another group of  Vega friends at this point which was awesome for me mentally.  I was in quite a bit of pain but seeing their faces made me smile.  Plus I knew Emily wasn’t much farther along the course and she was running with me for the last few miles.  Having something to look forward to always helps.  I intended on taking a gel at this point but my stomach was not having it.  I felt sick and the thought of choking something down made me cringe.  I pushed through, saw my friend Ale who was cheering with her friends from Luluemon (thank you for coming out!) and finally got my Emily.

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I told her to talk to me because I needed to get my mind off running.  I was struggling holding a 10:00 min mile.  The last stretch is right by the sea wall so it was freezing, windy, and nothing sheilding the rain.  My entire body was red and my arms were going numb.  Not awesome.  Emily stayed a couple feet in front of me for the most part so I had someone to “chase” and it worked as best as it could.  I am so thankful she was there with me.  I probably would have walked if it wasn’t for her.  I barely had anything left in me.  I stopped and took breaks at the last couple water stations and drank whatever electrolyte drink they were handing out hoping it would give me something.  ANYTHING.  Nope.

Once we got off the sea wall I was thanking the freaking heavens because I knew it would feel at least a couple degrees warmer.  Before the home stretch I saw Emma from Vega who had run the half marathon and then came back to cheer.  Love that.  There was a slight incline before the finish.  Pretty rude if you ask me.  BUT WE DID IT!  I grabbed Emz’s hand and we crossed the finish line together…again.  My official time was 4:00:50.  I’d be lying if I said those 50 seconds didn’t bother me.  Another sub-4 would have been nice but I guess it wasn’t in the cards this time.

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I honestly didn’t know I was running this race until about 6-7 weeks ago so I told myself not to set any sort of time goal expectations.  The competitive part f me wants to PR every single time I have a race which is not smart or reasonable and I know that.  I really have no complaints about this race except for the weather and that is something that was out of my control.  The course was awesome, the support was phenomenal, everyone stayed positive despite the terrential downpour, and I had THE BEST team behind me every single step of the way.  I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to go to Vancouver, have my best friend with me, do some fun work for Vega (coming soon!), run this race, eat delicious food (more on that this week!), and just soak up everything the city has to offer.

A huge thank you to Vega for making this happen, for having my back, for cheering in the rain for four hours, and for making me feel so comfortable and welcome.  Most of all, thank you for bringing Emily along for me.  I knew this weekend was going to rock before she showed up but having her here brought things to a whole new level of awesomeness.  I am so grateful that she took time out of her life in Phoenix to come here for me.  She left her work, her family, not to mention she’s freaking PREGNANT (if you didn’t know, now you do!) - to come here and cheer me on.  I might be the luckiest person ever.

It’s not always about a PR.  Sometimes you just have to stop and think about how lucky you are to be able to run and have friends who support you.  I crossed the finish with a huge smile on my face knowing how hard I worked but better than that – knowing Emily and I had a post-race massage scheduled!  Bliss.

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Hope you all had a rad weekend and thank you x a million for being so awesome and supportive on here, Instagram, and Twitter.  I may not have had the time to respond to everything this weekend but I sure as heck read all your messages and I am so thankful.  You guys rock.