Monday, 10 February 2014

The best races in North America I'm not doing (just a few of them, too many to mention!!)

As promised, this post is about the best races in North America I'm not doing, and some of the ones I am, aka my intended race calendar.  I've been feeling a tad uninspired lately but now that the Olympics have started it's like a fire has been lit, so pumped to get out there!  So here in no particular order are the best races I'm not doing (judged by the sole factor of "OMG that looks amazing!  Must. do.)

Half Corked Marathon: Set in BC's picturesque wine country, the run features an 18km route with wine and food stations along the way and a bus to the finish line should you happen to over-indulge at any of the stations.  Waiting at the finish line is free lunch for participants and more wine-win, win, win!  Registration is limited to 800 people and sells out fast (10 minutes fast) so get while the getting is good.

Wildflower Triathlon Festival: Set to go May 2-4 in Bradley, California this is an Xterra (off road) triathlon featuring sprint, Olympic and 70.3/half-Iron distances, or for the exceptionally brave, The Ultimate Wildflower Challenge.  Anyone game enough to try this will do the 70.3 on the Saturday followed by the Olympic on the Sunday.  Known for it's festival atmosphere, you can listen to the live bands, swim or fish in the lake, rent paddle boards or just chill and enjoy the races-camping is available too.  If you're interested (and who wouldn't be??) sign up soon-sales end March 1st.

Escape from Alcatraz: Every year, 2000 ambitious souls jump into the frigid waters surrounding Alcatraz prison and swim, bike, and run their way to glory in this Olympic distance triathlon.  No easy feat to enter or complete, this year's version is happening June 1.  If you like the idea of strong currents, 55 degree water and a 400 step sand ladder towards the end of an 8 mile run, this one's for you.  Complete this one and you will be one of my sporting heroes for life!

Las Vegas Rock'n'Roll Marathon: Want to run the Las Vegas strip at night with a few thousand of your  friends?  It can be done, just sign up for the Las Vegas Rock'n'Roll Marathon!  There still plenty of time to train as this one isn't until November 17th and features and full, half and the 1/2 of the Half distances and live, local bands along the course. Something for everyone!  Marathon hopefuls should note the 5 hour cut off time.

Those are the top races I'm not doing but sure wish I was-what would you add?  Here are my intended races for 2014:

March-the UBC triathlon (sprint distance)
April-volunteering for my first time at the Delta triathlon
May-Squamish Loop the Lakes Trail Race (8 or 15km, will decide in later March)
June-undecided, any suggestions?
July-Subaru Vancouver Triathlon (Olympic distance
August-Zombie Run (hoping to do twice, once as a Zombie, once as a runner)
September-the Vancouver Triathlon (Olympic distance) and Colour Me Rad

That's all for now.  Thanks for reading!  Next up:  a post from the beast, the burden, the aching nuisance-my broken elbow!  I'm sure she'll have lots to say :)

Friday, 31 January 2014

Not quite what I had envisioned.....

Blah.  So here we are, thirty days later.  I really thought this post was going to be sunshine and rainbows but the truth is, it's not quite what I had envisioned.  The whole patina of the New Year has worn off and old habits, like ditching workouts in favour of couch time, are threatening to make a screaming comeback. 

 The running is not consistent at all, and I've sunk to a low of running once a week.  I don't know what it is about getting off my ass and getting out there, but to me it is ridiculously difficult.  It's all good after that first step and I really do enjoy the meditative aspect but how on Earth to make it happen more often?  Revised goal:  Just run 3x a week.  Revised reward:  Weight of regret on my mind will lessen.  Which counts as losing weight.

Cycling got off to a good start and it's a lot of fun, but so hard to fit in the schedule.  I am writing this now instead of doing my planned bike ride.  Not too worried about this one though, it's just a matter of getting back into it.  Tomorrow, I swear.  Revised goal:  Get back in the saddle, literally.  Revised reward: a) Knowing my triathlon time will be faster and b) see above

The planking challenge started off so promisingly but died at day 8 also known as 60 seconds of planking-my poor little office worker abs just couldn't hack it.  I still want that 5 minute plank and so it all begins again tomorrow.  With a squat challenge thrown in for extra fun times!  Same goal, same reward-just to be able to say I can!

The biggest success came from the grain-free/dairy-free challenge.  I really can't say enough good things about how well this is working for me.  My energy is through the roof (perhaps I could channel some of the new found energy into running?), the stomach issues miraculously cured after 18 years of getting progressively worse and eczema is a thing of the past, yay!  The only thing I miss is beer, although it turns out wine is really not so bad.

Despite the gloom, I am optimistic about February.  No reward in the world is going to motivate me-this is the one thing January has taught me.  Just gotta get out there and do it knowing I will be faster, stronger and not writing any more self-loathing posts.

Next up:  The best races in North America I'm not doing (and some of the ones I am doing)!

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Hasta la Vista, 2013 (read in Arnie's voice)

The final hours of 2013 are ticking away and it's my final post of the year.  Most of us, admittedly or not, are reflecting on our strengths and weaknesses of the past 365 days.  And most of us, whether we care to say it or not, are thinking about how to improve in 2014.   Resolutions are made with fervor and optimism but once the Most Miserable Day (reportedly January 23rd, when most resolutions have been dropped) rolls around, they're long gone and elastic waistbands are once again our best friends.

Maybe that's how it goes for you, but here's how it goes for me:  January is attacked with the fury of a woman who ate and drank her way through December (and the latter part of November if I'm being 100% honest).  February goes pretty well, but the training is not nearly as ferocious.  March training is a little on the slack side.  April hits and brings the first triathlon and every year I say "Eff!!  Why did I not keep up those promised changes?  How am I not hitting PR's despite not training all that hard? It all started so nicely.  Oh well, good enough-I'm a triathlete, aren't I?"

But I'm not settling for good enough this year because, like you, I deserve better.  Reflecting on past behaviours, I noticed that there was no real accountability or incentive to sustain my very best, top notch effort.  I enjoy doing it, but just as enjoyable is a night of socializing with friends followed by a long sleep.  So how to improve accountability and motivation?  Challenges and rewards!  Here's what I've signed myself up to do:

30 Days with no grains or dairy:  Sort of Paleo but with wine (Drunken Cavewoman, I guess?), giving this a go to soothe stomach issues and improve energy levels.  I'm on day four and it's been a success, albeit with some pretty intense grain cravings.  These are only supposed to last a week or so.  I hope.  *Disclaimer-I am in no way advocating the Paleo diet or anything like it, or saying you should do it.  I am doing what works for me, and encourage the everyone to do the same*  Reward?  Beer on my bday!

Run 20 miles every week from Jan. 6-March 2nd:  Running is my weakness.  The hardest part for me is getting out there for a run without a friend.  Don't get me wrong, once I'm running it's all good but getting up the motivation is sooooo haaaaard.  The challenge I've joined is through Run With Jess.  You have the choice of either 10, 20, 30 or 40 miles per week and there are prizes!  Woohoo!  20 miles seems pretty daunting right now, not sure how I'm gonna put that one together.  Reward? The possibility of those aforementioned prizes and signing up for the Rock'n'Roll Half's Vancouver debut.

Cycle 20 miles every week from Jan. 1-March 2nd: Made this one up myself in hopes of getting on my bike a little (a lot) more often.  Most of a triathlon is spent on your bike and thus has the greatest potential to lead to a PR.  20 miles a week sounds good now but on top of swimming, running, strength training and life, will I be able to fit it in?  Therein lies the challenge.  Reward?  New tri shorts.

30 Days of Planking-start at 20 seconds and go all the way to 5 minutes:  Does your stomach hurt just thinking of doing this?  Mine does.  You probably think I'm doing this to get a stronger core because the core is so important blah, blah, blah but no.  A stronger core is nice but mostly I've always wanted to be able to plank for more than 30 seconds.  You can find this challenge at Athleta or Tribesports.  Reward? Being able to do a 5 minute plank.

Speaking of Tribesports, I highly recommend checking out their site, they have TONS of challenges for just about anything you can image.  Anyways, these are my challenges, what are yours?  You've probably guesses I'm using the blog as a way to keep myself honest but I'll also try to post updates on Twitter and Instagram.  Best of luck to you in any challenges you take on and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Soothing the savage beast

Welcome to December!  Crowded malls, black ice, subzero temperatures, myriad social engagements, beer advent calendars, and Christmas baking are sapping our will to swim/bike/run and bringing out the (10 pounds heavier) savage beast within.

 It ain't easy getting out there these days to tame the beast, so what to do?  If you don't already, why not add music?  For the exercise-with-music types, why not revamp your playlist?  Half the fun of running with music (a new and very happy discovery for me) is in creating the perfect playlist.   As some of you know, nothing will push you through a weak spot like your favourite song.  I recently asked some friends to send me  their favourite running songs-some are surprising choices and some will be added to my list in the very near future.  Here they are:

Name: Race Vault
Pace: 10:30/mile
Favourite Distance: Mile repeats/any sort of drill
Playlist: - Born to Run/Bruce Springsteen              -The Dead Heart/Alexisonfire
               -Big Wheel/Down With Webster               - Fire Burning/Shawn Kingston 
               -Sandstorm/Darude                                     - Supersoaker/Kings of Leon
              - Angels of the Silences/Counting Crow   - Run to You/Bryan Adams
               -Break Stuff/Limp Bizkit                              -Rock and Roll/Skrillex

Name: Alli
Pace: 9:30/mile
Favourite Distance: 10k.  Fair weather runner, will run on the treadmill if it's too wet (unless it's a club run, then I'm happy to then I'm happy to get soaked with my friends as long as it's followed by a cold beer by the fireplace at the Rose!)
Playlist:- Blurred Lines/Robin Thicke                             -Get Lucky/Daft Punk
              - Can't Do Nuttin For Ya Man/Public Enemy   -Hey Ladies/Beastie Boys 
              -Come Dancing/the Kinks                                   -Jam for the Ladies/Moby
              -Devil Went Down to Georgia/Charlie Daniels - Lets Talk about Sex/Salt N Pepa   
             -We no Speak Americano/DJ Americano& Melinda
               Kool                                                                         -Dowutchalike/DigitalUnderground

Name: The Nutcracker
Pace: 9:00/mile
Favourite Distance: 10k-short and sweet.  Rain or shine, preferably shine.
Playlist: - Big Mouth/Santigold                   -Daft Punk Is Playing In My House/LCD Sound           
             -So Whatcha Want/Beastie Boys - Try It Again - The Hives
             -Insane in the Brain/Cypress Hill   -You've Got Another Thing Comin/Judas Priest
             -I Love It - Icona Pop                        -Jerk It - Thunderheist
             -Power - Kanye West                        -Blue Orchid - White Stripes (and Icky Thump!)     

Name: Special K
Pace: 7:00/mile
Favourite distance: 10k (but I'm making that up, I didn't ask)
Playlist: -Go/Pearl Jam                            -Kickstart My Heart/Motley Crue
              -Hollywood Nights/Bob Seger  -Against the Wind/Bob Seger
              -Run LIke Hell/Pink Floyd         -Clash City Rockers/The Clash
              -Why Go/Pearl Jam                    -Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)/Arcade Fire
              -Harder than you Think/Public Enemy 
              -Galvanize/Chemical Brothers
Name: The Rabbit
Pace: 8:00/mile
Favourite distance: 8k.  Ocean front run on a clear, cool day.  Or any run with friends and beer at the end.
Playlist: Sorry I have never tried running to music. I prefer the tap tap (thump) of my feet and my own inner thoughts which may be a bit monotonous like some music perhaps. Also I'm too paranoid to block out the sounds of the world outside and I don't really like to run on the treadmill. 

So there you have it, 40 great songs and 1 good case for running without them at all.  Hope these help you off get off of the couch, away from the fireplace and cookies and out the door.  Any "must have" songs that aren't on here?  See you out there!


Thursday, 21 November 2013

How do you say gratitude in American?

So the sun is shining, (American) Thanksgiving is nearly upon us and it got me thinking, what am I thankful for?  I've been wanting to write about this for awhile and since most of you readers are from south of the 49th, it seemed a good idea to time a gratitude post with Thanksgiving.  That, and I completely missed the boat on Canadian Thanksgiving.  

Mostly I am grateful for my family, friends and a daily hot shower, but since this blog is dedicated to the active life, I'll stick to that topic, so in no particular order, here goes!

I am thankful that I can participate in the active life.   It's not just the physical side though.  While I am very thankful to have a fully capable body with no impediments, I am even more appreciative of the people who support me in my sometimes crazy endeavours.  So to my incredible husband for letting me chase all these opportunities, my amazing friends for always listening and lining up at the start line with me, and you readers for actually reading  and encouraging me to get out there and find yet more fodder for this blog, thank you!!

I am thankful that I live in a society that allows women an equal opportunity to sports.  This doesn't happen everywhere and it's a shame.  I am forever grateful that any time I decide to step outside for a run, I am free to do so without fear of repercussion and that there are equal recreation opportunities for my son and daughter.

I am thankful for Tuesday Night Run Club.  Every Tuesday night at around 6:30, a group of runners gathers at the Run Inn in Tsawwassen.  Sometimes it's a pace workout (I love you 40/20 workout) and sometimes it's a long, slow 7km but it is always one of the highlights of my week, every week.   To be fair, there is a small group of us who head to the pub as a post-run ritual, which might be why I like Tuesday nights so very much.

I am thankful to live in climate where I can train outdoors year-round.  Last but certainly not least, it makes me crazy happy to be able to go outside and run no matter the season.  No, I don't always want to if it's below zero or above 30, but those extremes are rare, and for that, I say thank you mild West Coast weather.

That's my happy/thankful/grateful list, what's yours?

Monday, 4 November 2013

The perfect run

It's been said that perfection does not exist in nature but Sunday's 4th annual Boundary Bay Marathon/Half Marathon/10k/5k came pretty darn close.  According to sponsor Try Events they care.  They care enough to arrange an extra hour of sleep for everyone via the end of daylight savings time and I for one could feel the love.  The arrangement they made with the weather gods were a nice touch too-freezing, windy rain from hell on Saturday yet miraculously sunny and calm on Sunday morning.  Sweet!

Starting at Centennial Beach after a warm up with Ronald McDonald, the route went along the Boundary Bay dike in the sun with perfect views of the ocean, farmer's fields and the always beautiful Coast mountain range.  There were even bald eagles out to cheer everyone on.  Run races aren't even this nice in the movies!

Pretty sure a lot of PR's were earned thanks to the very flat and fast out-and-back gravel course.  I know my pal Alli scored her best time ever and Tenacious D (not her real name) was pretty happy with her run too.  This was my first race with music and what a difference!  Between the tunes and the great course, I was within a minute of my personal best (thanks Bruce Springsteen for getting me through kilometer 8!).

Hard to find any fault with this event at all-the ladies bathroom had it's ubiquitous crazy long line up but there were extra mobile washrooms available (I snuck into the line-up free Family washroom, shhhh.)  Well organized, very nice long-sleeved tech shirt in the race package, free coffee, decent post-race fuel, good entertainment (not just Ronald McDonald), sunshine, just one of those perfect runs.

So yeah, if you like amazing scenery, a well organized race that just so happens to sponsor a great cause like helping sick kids stay with their families, along with a flat, fast course and enough categories for all of your friends to find something they like, this is your run.  

What's your perfect run? Fave running tunes? I would love to add to my playlist!  See you out there!  Pics will be on Instagram :)

P.S.  If you are looking for a fun run you can do with the whole family, please be sure to check out the VanMarrewyk Christmas Fundraiser happening November 16th!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

The running partners everyone should have....

It's a beautiful, sunny, fall day out there, or at least at it is in the neck of the woods, and the perfect day for a run.   While getting out there on these kinds of days is a day-maker for any runner, it's always better when you share it with someone else, right?   Here are some of the run partners that everyone should try at least once:

1)The too-fast-for-you friend: It probably won't be a conversation to remember as you'll be too busy gasping for air but running with this guy/gal will improve your cardio conditioning and show you what you're made out of (tough stuff, of course).  

2)Self-centered Johnny/Jane:  A boring run for sure, Johnny Self-Centered only talks about his past exploits and future plans and never asks about how you're doing these days.  The benefit?  Learning to tune out distractions and focus on getting through the tough part of a run.  Also useful for learning all kinds of info about Johnny you can use for blackmail in the future if need be.

3)A small child:  This group makes the too-fast-for-you friends look like a bunch of wussies.  I recently took my 7-year-old out for a run with me and got schooled, big time.  She was running circles around me, showing me how she could speed-walk as fast as I could run and doing cartwheels, all while keeping pace with me.  The upside?  Remembering that running is a joyful activity and actually seeing that joy on someone's face.  Just make sure you have the parent's permission before you take off running with the kid.

4)The dedicated power walker:  A walker you say? Yes.  Sure it sounds like the world's most boring activity but if you have ever tried to keep up  with a dedicated, hard-charging walker, you know how difficult it is.  Not only will you gain some serious respect for this group, you'll work some muscles you didn't know you had (and you'll reallllly feel it in the morning).

5)The Newbie:  Three words-pay it forward. Getting out there with someone just starting out can show just how far you've come as a runner and also shows the newbies the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, i.e, it won't always be gasping for air and doubling over in exhaustion, sometimes it's fun!  Confidence building and good-karma catching all on one run-a win/win for sure!

So there you have it-did I leave anyone out that should have been included?  Hope you get the chance to get outside and enjoy the fall weather before Old Man Winter is upon us!

See you out there!