5km race results: 37:28

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Today I proved to myself and anyone who would care to listen, that I am a champion. If the neighbours would still speak to me, I'd get on the roof with a megaphone and let them all know just how fantastic I am. :) Why? Because no matter where you start from, anyone can set a goal, train hard, and get there. And I did- big time.

Today I ran 5km in the Ottawa Race Weekend. Yes. I did. Me. The person whose standard line was "I don't like to sweat" or "I am just not someone who exercises". What a crock. I'm so glad that girl is gone now. There is no reason why a thirty-something at her peak of physical strength shouldn't be sweating a few times a week. I guess what I'd never found was something that clicked- something I WANTED to do a few times a week. Here's my story...

You'll recall that Mr. Pick-it-Up and I went to El Dorado Royale resort in Mexico back in March. It was absolutely one of my favourite vacations ever. I was able to eat whatever, feel normal, and beyond all that, the resort itself was insane. So beautiful. But here's the thing: it really caters to "fitties" and we watched them get up every morning, go running, play volleyball, etc. I exercised twice that week- one round of aquafit, and a leisurely bike ride, but there seemed to be this impenetrable wall around all the fit people that I just couldn't ever see breaking into. The day after I got home, I decided that enough was enough: I strapped on my shoes and went. I had downloaded an app for my iPod that walked you through the Couch to 5k program and I started by listening to the dulcet tones of the trainer while I ran my first 3k at walk1:run1 ratio. That, my friends, was March 25, 2011. Almost exactly two months back.

So how was the race? For anyone who wants the nitty gritty details, here is my play-by-play.

Pre-race: I was totally FREAKING OUT. Yep. I was collecting my stuff, getting ready to head out and I totally started to freak. Ugly freaking. Nail biting, snapping, not-being-very-nice freaking. We collected the kids, met up with my mom and her hubby and started the trek to the city centre.

Having never even been in a city where this kind of thing was happening, I was slightly unprepared for the masses of people. Particularly the blocks of runners waiting in their corrals (approximately 9,000). I had my cheering section with me: my mom, her husband, my kids and beloved hubby were all at my side as we made the trek into the madness. The air was so thick with excitement, I thought I might literally burst.

I kissed everyone goodbye, and was buoyed by their smiling faces, high fives and enthusiasm (who doesn't like to be the centre of attention???) as I went to meet my running partner and good friend Cathy. I almost tripped over her and her kids (13 and 16) who were also running with us. I was so glad to find them as I was beginning to doubt whether I'd have anyone by my side to run the race with.

We heard the crowd cheer at the start of the race, saw the crowd start to move and inched our way toward the starting line. At about 20 feet shy of the line, I looked at Cathy and said "You ready?" She was, we shared a high five, and we started running.

I suppose I was naive to think that people would follow the rule of "if you're slow, go to your appropriate corral and don't stick yourself in the way of everyone else". But they didn't. We passed hoards of people, in the middle of the road I might add, walking. Now I'm all for walking this race. It's only a 5k for pete's sake. But if you're going to walk, please walk on the right. If you find you have a stitch and have to stop, move over. No big deal. But don't walk 3 wide with your run buddies in the middle of the road. Please. Oh, and you- the guy who tried to cross the road in the middle of the race? An the girl who bent down to pick something up in the middle of the race (who I almost bowled over)-SERIOUSLY????

I digress. So I had lots of advice to take it easy during the race. Not to go too fast, because I'd burn out. I really took that to heart, but perhaps a bit too literally. I was going at a comfortable pace with random bursts as we passed folks and weaved our way through the crowds. But I found I was very disoriented. I had no idea how far into the race I was. When I run my route at home, I know when I am 1/3 of the way through, when I hit approximately the 1/2 way mark, and when I'm nearing the end. But there were no mile markers until we hit 750 metres left to go. So it was hard to judge when to pick up the pace because I literally had no idea how far in I was. I must figure out a solution to this for the next race.

The excitement at that 750...500...300...metre marker is like nothing I could describe. Again not being able to see the finish line was hard, and I had a cramp brewing in my abs that I was terrified would cause me to have to walk, but once I saw the finish line and we hit that 100 metre marker, Cathy and I were practically sprinting. That feeling of flying towards the line, neck and neck with each other was the highlight of the whole day...that and seeing my husband's face just a few metres after the finish line smiling so big I think I saw his entire gumline and possibly his tonsils.

In the end, although I've been running in the 32-34 minute range, my final race results were 37:28. Am I thrilled with the result? Well, I'll be honest and say I wish I'd been better grounded, and all those folks at the sidelines shouting "Not much longer!!" had been useful enough to tell me HOW much longer, but the point is, I have a result. If I hadn't run, I wouldn't have a result, would I? So I will take this as a benchmark, and start looking for a 10km to sign up for in the fall. Bring. It. On. Who's with me?

What's up in my kitchen lately: chocolate (or blueberry) cake/cupcakes (gluten free, dairy free)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Once again, so sorry for not finding the time lately. It seems that whenever I find the time to anything, I end up flaking out in pure vegetative state, trying to convince myself that sleep is indeed more valuable than the semblance of a "life" outside of work and kids.

I've been trying a few recipes lately. This one- Lightened up protein power goddess bowl - from Angela at www.ohsheglows.com will absolutely knock your socks off. My wee lass had 2 bowls (kale people, my child scarfed down a meal full of chopped KALE). It is okay cold, good filler for a wrap or as a salad topper (in addition to just straight up) but warm, from the pan, is one of the best things I've ever tasted!

Second, I have found the perfect balance for almond flour baking. Inspired by a similar recipe from The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen, here's how I have whipped up the following:

Chocolate, chocolate chip cake/cupcakes (gluten and dairy free)
Alternative flavour for the non-chocolate loving: Blueberry cake/cupcakes

Ingredients (organic whenever possible):

2 cups almond flour
1/3 cup plus 2 TB cocoa* 
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon*
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup dark dairy-free chocolate chips (skip this for a "no refined sugar') option

2 squashed ripe bananas
2 eggs
1/8 cup maple syrup

1. Start by pre-heating your oven to 350 degrees. Scoop out 1/4 cup of coconut oil and put it into a glass measuring cup. Place it on your stove over the hole that the oven heat escapes from in order to soften it while you work.
2. Grease a small square pan with coconut oil or if using muffin tins, insert your paper liners.
3. Combine dry ingredients and mix well.
3. Mash bananas then combine wet ingredients in a separate bowl including the warmed-up coconut oil from the stove top.
4. Mix contents of both bowls together and stir well.
5. Bake the square pan for approximately 30 minutes, cupcakes will require less time. Start them at 20 minutes and check with a toothpick to see that it comes out clean. Add 2-3 minutes at a time if not yet done.

*Blueberry option: While mixing dry ingredients, omit cocoa powder, double cinnamon (1 tsp), add 1/4 tsp nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp ground ginger. Also gently fold in 1/3 c blueberries right before pouring into pan.

Real food rocks- simple gluten & dairy free tuna salad recipe

Friday, May 6, 2011

Please don't think that I don't think about you. I seem to be in a period of time where it's just been quite difficult to find time for things. Truth be told, in addition to my regular routine, I've added in considerable physical activity- which is taking a much-needed place in my life, but is definitely causing me to juggle my schedule even more.

On that front, I am now running a 3k on my "low" days, and a 5k on my long-run days. I am also still keeping up with hip hop and Zumba (minus the odd class interruption which seems "the way" when the city is running them). I feel great, strong, and at the same time a bit harried as I still try to fit in all I used to have time for. On that note, I'd like to share a recipe. It's simple, delicious and real. Here's what it looked like on our picnic table in the backyard while little Miss and I were enjoying our lunch.

Real-Food Tuna Salad

Ingredients (serves ...1 adult and 1 child, or 1 really hungry adult)
1 can light tuna
1 avocado
2 small organic peppers
1 tomato, cubed
2 TB chopped chives
2-3 TB caesar salad dressing

Chop, combine, enjoy

Really, this was the simplest thing ever. It would be amazing as a topper on a big bed of spinach or other favourite "greens". I'll be honest that the wee lass didn't love it, but was convinced to eat enough to fill up her belly. I LOVED it more than I could possibly describe to you.

Can you suggest any variations for the next time I make it?? Sunflower seeds for crunch? Broccoli? Chopped coriander?

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