Marathon Monday: a change of plans

What a week.  My legs are toast.  TOAST.  Yesterday’s long run was the worst to date but I know that’s just part of the process.  Some runs will be awesome and some will completely suck.  It’s all about EMBRACING the suck, taking the bad with the good.  Pushing through the tough runs is what makes us strong mentally and gets us ready for race day pain, right???


Monday: 6.2 miles easy

Tuesday: OFF

Wednesday: 10 miles with 7 @ tempo

Thursday: OFF

Friday: 7.3 miles (interval workout)

Saturday: 4 miles easy

Sunday: 15 miles from the depths of hell

Total: 42.5 miles and NO strength training #FAIL

Now I leave for Vancouver in three days and what I thought was going to be a stress-free weekend full of fun and casual running is NO LONGER THE PLAN.  I’ve never gone to SeaWheeze and actually “raced”.  I mean I don’t walk the course but I definitely don’t go there trying to win or set a new PR, you know what I mean?  I’ve clocked a 1:54 and a 1:45 at SeaWheeze in previous years.  Well, THIS year Coach PK has a different idea of what she wants me to do.  I have 17 miles to cover that day so my job is to run a decent warm up, actually RACE and attempt to stay within the 7:35-7:45 range for the duration of the race (meaning a 1:39 – 1:41 finish), followed by a cool down.  This sounds like a great idea in theory but the fact that I ran my fastest half ever in 1:41 on a FLAT course kind of freaks me out a little.  From what I remember, SeaWheeze is not the easiest course.  It’s not super difficult by any means but I am not sure I’ll be able to set a new PR on it, which is essentially what I’ve been prescribed to do.  Dang coach having so much confidence in me… 😉


I’m going to try not to stress too much about it.  I mean if it doesn’t happen, it’s not the end of the world…but I’m definitely going to try my very best.  I need to go into this weekend knowing that I’m capable of doing things I was never able to do.  I have changed, my running has changed, and I’m faced with a whole bunch of new possibilities.  At this point it comes down to believing in myself and pushing myself outside my comfort zone.  It’s the only way to grow, progress, and set new limits.

I just ordered this book last week and I’m hoping it arrives before I leave so I can read it on the plane.  Emz told me it’s a must-read when I started expressing my doubts to her.  Since she’s always right when it comes to just about anything to do with running and life in general, purchasing it was a no brainer! :)

mind gym

Our minds are just as important as our bodies so I’m trying to work on building that mental muscle to go with these little quads that feel like they’re on fire right now.

Hope you had a great weekend!  CHEERS TO MONDAY!

5 things you should do if you’re coming to…


It just hit me that I leave for Vancouver NEXT THURSDAY.  If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that Vancouver is one of my favourite places…like, ever.  If it wasn’t so darn expensive to live there and if my entire family didn’t reside in Toronto, I’d move there in a heartbeat.  I know quite a few of you are going to be running SeaWheeze next weekend so I thought I’d put together MY top five things that I think you should do while you’re there (aside from the shopping/racing/yoga-ing/festival-ing that you already have planned).


1.  Eat dinner at Heirloom Vegetarian Restaurant.  Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian, or meat-lover…just go.  I promise that you will love Heirloom.  I wouldn’t have eaten there every single day (sometimes twice a day) the last time I went if it wasn’t out of this world.  I heard that they changed their menu recently but I’m certain it will be delicious.  They’ve left some of their items on there – like the avocado frites, kale caesar, Heirloom burger – but for the most part, a lot of the menu looks new to me.  I can’t wait to try everything.  They also have a pretty rad brunch menu if you like brunch-y foods.  The avocado toast on sourdough is to. die. for.  The vibe in that place is pretty cool and the owners are so, so nice.  Ask to meet them if you go!!  They’re almost always there!


2.  Treat yourself to ice cream at Bella Gelateria.  There is always a lineup at this place but trust me, it’s worth it.  They have the best gelato I have ever tasted.  Their flavours are ahhhhhmazing.  I tried both the raspberry and salted milk chocolate when I went and they were both heavenly.  They’ve also got flavours like black sesame, banana bread, lavender & earl grey, salted caramel, Tahitian vanilla…..oh my.  Maybe I should suggest you go every day??  TRY THEM ALL.


3.  Climb Grouse Mountain.  We did the Grouse Grind the day after SeaWheeze and as difficult as it was with my achy legs, it was so worth it.  The Grind is only 1.8 miles but the elevation gain is 2800 feet so it’s a pretty fun climb!!  Once you get to the top, the views are incredible.  There’s no climbing down the Grind though – it’s $10 to take the Skyride back to the bottom.  So bring $10, your camera, and some water.  You’ll be good to go.



Apparently I’m the only one sweating though??

4.  Go for a non-race run along the Seawall.  I know what you’re thinking – run a race and then run again???  Yes.  The answer is yes.  We do get to run along the Seawall during SeaWheeze but I felt like I really got to take it in and appreciate it more when I went on a casual run with Angela, a couple of days post-race (and post-Grind).  It’s such a beautiful run and a nice backdrop for some cool photos! :)  If you’re not into running again, go for a walk or rent a bike!


5.  Check out Kitsilano Beach.  Whether it’s to lay out in the sun, play some beach volleyball, watch the sunset, walk around, or dine at The Boathouse…it’s a great spot to spend some time relaxing, especially on those days post-race where you don’t really want to do anything too stressful.  There are some cute shops and restaurants in the area so there definitely isn’t a shortage of things to do/eat/buy if you happen to find yourself there!  It’s a pretty place to go both during the day and in the evening.  Lululemon actually hosted their free pre-race yoga there two years ago and it was absolutely incredible.



Now I know there are about a million things to do in Vancouver but I’ve only been there three times and these five things are what I, personally, would do and hope to do when I’m there next week.  I know a lot of us are only there for a few days so it’s pretty hard to cram stuff in, especially considering all of the awesome things Lululemon already has planned for us.  These are just a few suggestions based on my own experiences and tastebud preferences! :)

Angela put together a pretty extensive guide for SeaWheezers HERE.  If you’re going, I highly suggest giving it a read (especially if it’s your first time).  She’s included a lot of really helpful information and recommendations!

That’s it for today!  Happy hump day!

Marathon Monday: STWM training week 5

Well that was a jam-packed weekend full of fun.  It was my cousin’s birthday yesterday so the weekend was spent celebrating with lots of food and hardly any photos.  On Saturday night a group of us went for dinner at Pizzeria Libretto and then headed to Paint Night where we basically…painted!  Duh.  It was really fun.  The theme was Tequila Sunset and there was an instructor there giving us step-by-step instructions on how to complete our paintings.  Mine came out horrible because I don’t like listening to instructions and attempted to do my own thing.  Complete fail.  So you won’t get any evidence of that but here we are at dinner:


The ladies painting:


And my pizza with cheese that looks like marshmallows:


Then LAST night my cousins threw a party at their place and I got home AFTER 4am!!!!!!  This is unheard of for me.  I don’t think I’ve ever been able to stay awake that late.  The last time they had a party I lasted less than an hour and then went to an empty bedroom and slept through the entire night.  I ate my fair share of pizza (again) and cake so I woke up with a pretty bad food hangover this morning.

Now that the weekend is over, it’s time to get back on track with my eating and training because we are going into WEEK 6 of marathon training!  Already.  Geez, time goes by way too fast.

Last week’s training:

Monday: 12 miles (Sunday’s long run that I skipped)

Tuesday: OFF

Wednesday: 9 mile tempo

Thursday: 30 minutes on the stairmill + strength training (routine here)

Friday: 4 miles easy

Saturday: 14 miles

Sunday: OFF

Total: 39 miles + 1 strength/cross training day

I messed my training up a bit last week by having to do two long runs and ended up missing a speed workout.  I know my speed sessions are crucial so I have to try not to let this happen again!  Other than that, I’m pretty happy with the way things went with the exception of Saturday’s long run.  It started out really well but in the last few miles I started to get a weird cramp that was impossible to run through.  It wasn’t a stitch or stomach cramp – something completely different that I’ve never felt before.  I found it really hard to breathe and was in a heck of a lot of pain.  I had to stop my watch so many times as I tried to figure out how to fix it.  I attempted to control my breathing, slow my pace, drink more water…nothing worked.  Worst 3 miles ever.  Thankfully it happened at the end but still…no fun at all.  I hope it was just a one time thing.

The view was pretty nice though! :)


I leave for SeaWheeze in 10 days so I’ve gotta buckle down and get a whole bunch of assignments done this week before I start packing/planning/getting excited.


I have a workout & a canfitpro GIVEAWAY for you!

Yesterday was a cross training/weights day for me and although I usually dread gym days, I feel good once I get them over with.  I’ve been doing a strength training routine given to me by Coach PK for the last few weeks but I wanted to change it up a bit yesterday so I made it up on the fly and it ended up being a pretty great workout!

I started with 30 minutes on the stairmill (aka the stairway to hell) and then did three mini circuits to work my entire body:

Circuit 1 (3 x 15):

  • squats with shoulder press (using dumbbells)
  • split squats with bicep curl (using dumbbells)
  • pushups

Circuit 2 (3 x 15):

  • tricep dips
  • glute bridges
  • Russian twists (using medicine ball)

Circuit 3 (3 x 15):

  • dumbbell swings
  • wall balls (using medicine ball)
  • mountain climbers

I moved through the circuits pretty quickly and left the gym a sweaty mess.  Just the way I like it.

Now I have a giveaway for you and I’m a tinyyyy bit jealous giving this away.  The canfitpro world fitness expo is coming up.  It runs from August 12th – 16th and unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) I’ll be in Vancouver that weekend for SeaWheeze.


If you’re not familiar with the canfitpro world fitness expo, I’ll give you a quick rundown.  It is a huge fitness conference and trade show that takes place in Toronto and offers the following:

  • Educational sessions on a variety of topics including Kids’ Fitness, Weight Gain & Inflammation, Gluten-Free Eating, Paleo/Low-Carb/Vegan Diets, Diabetes, Body Positivity, Emotional Eating, and so much more.  All of the Friday sessions are listed here and the Saturday sessions are here.
  • Celebrity speakers such as TOSCA RENO, Rita Catalino, Loren Cordain (author of The Paleo Diet), Eric the (Hollywood) Trainer, and the list goes on.  You can see a list of speakers/presenters here.
  • Exhibitors, products and services for the fitness and nutrition industry like Asics, BODYBUILDING.COM, GNC, Goodlife Fitness, Larabar, Lebert Fitness, Polar, Saucony, and many, many more.

It’s basically a big fitness party where you can learn SO much valuable information and check out new products.  I worked at the Expo a couple of years ago and got to scope things out both before and after my shift.  I seriously felt like a kid in a candy shop.  There was so much that I wanted to look at, products I wanted to try, and people I wanted to talk to.  It’s an incredible event with so much to offer.  I hope to make it there next year and actually be able to attend some of the sessions as I’ve heard SUCH great things about them.

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 Brendan Brazier and Tosca Reno were the two people I just had to see when I was there!

Here comes the good part –

I am giving away a one-day registration (value of $388) to the canfitpro world fitness expo which includes access to the Expo hall as well as any educational sessions or events you choose to attend.  To enter, all you have to do is tell me — if there was one thing you could learn more about (fitness/health/nutrition related), what would it be?

That’s it!

I’ll announce the winner next Friday, August 7th.  Good luck!

This post has been written as a part of the canfitpro world fitness expo Ambassador Program.

How to run a perfect long run

Let’s be real – long runs are not always awesome.  Yes, they’re part of the program but no, they’re not always on the top of my list of “things I really want to do on Sunday morning”.  They take a lot of planning, a lot of time, and often a lot of pain.  I usually get through the first couple miles and then start counting down because I just want to be DONE.  Things went a little differently during my last long run though.  It was supposed to happen on Sunday but because of my trail race the day before, I pushed it to Monday morning and LOVED every second of it.  My legs were still super sore – turns out they hurt even more TWO days post-race!  I just did things the way I thought I should do things and it worked out perfectly.  To my surprise, it was one of the best long runs of my current marathon training cycle.

Since it was going so well, I started thinking about what things I did to make the run so flawless and decided I should put them in a blog post.  I know everyone has their own way of prepping for and getting through a long run but here are the things that worked for me:

1.  EAT.  I’ve been trying to beat the heat so my runs are usually super early which often means no food in my stomach.  I just can’t eat that early in the morning.  I know this is a horrible habit, especially when it comes to long runs, so I’m working on changing it.  I woke up on Monday and realized I hadn’t charged my watch so I plugged it in and ate Love Grown Foods Hot Oats (in apple cinnamon – my favourite) while I waited.  I also brought a gel with me to eat mid run.  I tried a new brand called Huma that my friend Annie picked up for me when she visited the U.S. and I LOOOOVED it.  I tried the lemonade flavour and it was delicious.  Thanks Annie!

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2.  DRINK.  I hate carrying water, wearing belts or hydra packs, stopping for water, and even drinking on the run.  I feel as though water sloshes around in my stomach and it makes it super uncomfortable to run.  I might hate it but it’s necessary, especially in this crazy heat wave we’ve been experiencing here in Toronto.  I bought myself a tiny FuelBelt handheld bottle a while back and I’ve been using that and definitely prefer it over wearing a belt.  It doesn’t hold much but I try to plan my routes so that I either pass a fountain or a Starbucks so I can refill it.


3.  DITCH DISTRACTIONS.  This one sounds so silly but whenever I bring my phone on my runs, they take longer.  I get distracted when I hear notifications and feel like I have to check them right away or I pull my phone out to take photos.  I end up taking unintentional breaks and my run just drags on.  It’s completely unnecessary and makes me dread the last few miles like no other.  So if I do bring my phone and really want to take photos, I save it for the end of my run as a “reward” for finishing.


4. NIX THE NUMBERS.  Long runs are not about how fast you can get them done.  They are about training your body to run long and to run far.  DO NOT worry about how fast you are going, unless your plan or you coach has you doing a specific long run (i.e. fast finish, progressive long run, etc).  This has taken me so long to learn and I sometimes still have trouble seeing my pace drop on long runs.  We have to accept that some runs will be slow and I think that’s what helped me on Monday.  I knew my legs were still trashed from my race so my only goal was to cover my prescribed long run distance (12 miles) and not worry about my pace.  I ended up running an 8:51/mile average feeling absolutely incredible the whole time.


5.  DON’T STOP (unless you really have to).  Obviously traffic lights and emergency situations will require you to stop mid-run but try not to stop for lame reasons.  I’m guilty of it.  Sometimes I see a hill or I feel tired and want a walk break but I’m learning to run through these situations because guess what?  Races make you tired and races have hills.  What do you do during races??  RUN.  I personally lose momentum when I have to pause too many times and feel like my runs are more solid and successful when they are continuous.  Plus it makes me feel a little badass too.

Okay…I think that’s it for now.  Once again, these are the things that work for ME and some of them are pretty obvious (eat before you plan on running for almost two hours…duh).  I’m still learning every day and I am a work in progress when it comes to running.  I hope I am lucky enough to have more long runs that go just as smoothly as my last.  It was definitely a good feeling to be done thinking “I NAILED IT!” rather than all the opposite feelings I was experiencing last week.  One day at a time, right?

Happy Thursday!  Add your tips below if you think I missed any!

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.


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).


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.


(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?!?!


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 –, one of Canada’s fastest growing commerce websites.  Their sister site is for all of you non-Canadian friends.  The selection of brands on both websites is IN-SANE (451 on 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!


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 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.


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 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

SO, what’s in it for you??  I am teaming up with and 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


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!