Sunday Run Day (On a Sick Stomach)

This past Sunday, I ran 11km for the first time in my entire life.  Previously, my longest run had been 10km, and I am now in that glorious chapter of First-Time Half-Marathon training where every Sunday, I achieve my longest distance yet all the way up until Race Day.  So let’s just say I’ll be slightly on my high horse for the next little while.  I do not apologize.

On Saturday night, we went to a friend’s housewarming party.  Actually, I should back up.  Saturday at work was a food disaster, and I was weak.  So, so weak.  I know myself well enough to know that I have an extremely iffy stomach to begin with when it comes to junk food, and also that I do not do well if my nutrition is not as clean as possible for at least a day or two before a long run.  Keep in mind, at this point in my running journey, I consider anything longer than 7k to be a long run.  So, yeah, I’m pretty sensitive.

Sean and I had planned to run a Sunday morning 11k with his dad and a family friend, and I was actually really looking forward to it.  Gord and Carie are both seasoned runners and I always learn a lot and leave feeling inspired when I run with them.

But on Saturday, one thing led to another…and between a pizza lunch at work, a few bites of a coworker’s birthday cheesecake, and then random appetizers and a glass of sangria at the housewarming party, my stomach was downright pissed.  Sensitive Ashley Stomach decided to kick it into overdrive, and I was awake from 12:30am – 5:30am sick from both ends.  Lovely.

I woke Sean up around 7am to explain that I’d only slept 2 hours and had spent the remainder of the night emptying my stomach contents.  It was also absolutely pouring rain, which did not seem appealing at all.  He said maybe we’d be smart to cancel the run, and I agreed.  I was exhausted.  But as soon as Sean left to tell Gord the run was off, I ran downstairs to say that we were still going.  And I’m glad I did.  Both of them were already sitting in the living room with their running clothes on.  How could I say no?  I popped some meds to calm my stomach (and stop me from shitting myself on the run), bundled up in my rain coat, and we were off.

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Ready for a Rainy Run

The run was hard.  Gord had set out an 11k route around the Glenmore Reservoir area, complete with more hills than I have ever experienced.  From the 4.5k mark all the way up until 9k, I was fighting wicked stomach cramping and unbelievable exhaustion.  We maintained an average pace of 6:41, which is slow for all of us, but nobody complained.  I managed to find a burst of energy to pick up the pace to 5:55 for the final kilometre.  Even though I felt like I was going to projectile vomit everywhere for over an hour, the run was worth it – as it always is – and I was beaming all day from my newest accomplishment.

Also – can I just send out a huge shout out to Sean for being such an amazing human being?  My poor dear sweet boyfriend doesn’t even like running that much, yet he now does 2-3 short morning runs every week, (on his own!) and has recently been tagging along (AKA kicking ass and taking names) on my long runs.  This was also his first 11k.  Last weekend was his first 10k.  He’s honestly just so freaking fantastic and I cannot express my gratitude for his support enough.

The 11k Crew!

The 11k Crew!

After the run, we headed home for a shower and then took Gord out for a well-deserved brunch before heading to the Grand Opening of the Show Homes.  It was so amazing to see exactly what it is we’re going to be building!  Everything is so beautiful and perfect and I cannot wait to take possession of our new home.  More to come on all of that later.

Brunch at Via Cibo

Brunch at Via Cibo

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend full of adventures, fresh air, elevated heart rates and delicious food!  Have an epic week, everyone!

What does it take to make you cancel a run?

Do you stick to a specific sort of diet the day before a long run?

How did you celebrate Father’s Day?

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5 Things I’m Loving – June 2015

Hello everyone, and Happy Monday!  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and managed to get outside to play!  Here in Calgary, it rained quite a bit, but that didn’t stop us!

This month, I’ve been all about simplicity.  Since moving in with Sean’s dad to save money for our new house, I’ve cut back on a ton of my possessions and clothing, and most of our life is currently packed away in storage.  It’s actually been sort of liberating.  The only “stuff” I have right now is the stuff that I need in my bedroom.  It feels a little bit like minimalist living and I really like it.  I spend more time reading, wake up early whenever the bright sunlight pours in my bedroom window (usually about 5:30am) and I fall asleep with the window open, usually pretty early, listening to the birds.  Our apartment served us very well while we had it, but I am so ready for domestic, homeowner life.  Only 6 more months!

Here is a list of the 5 things I’ve been enjoying the most this month;

1. Pressed Juicery Juices

I actually found these bad boys at Costco!  And at $9.99 for 1.5 litres, it’s actually an indulgence that I can justify financially.  So far, I have only tried the Almond Milk – which has cold-pressed Almonds, Dates, Vanilla Bean and Sea Salt, but the Beet Juice (Beets, Apple, Ginger, Lemon) is calling my name this morning.  I can’t wait to try it.

Update: It’s freaking delicious.

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2. Runner’s World Cookbook

I’ve wanted this cookbook for months.  I found it back in March and took a quick glance-through at a Chapters, but I decided to add it to my “Running Rewards” list.  As you might remember from previous posts, I like to treat myself to a little something with every 100km that I log on MapMyRun.  Sometimes it’s a new workout top, or a sports massage, but when I hit 500km a few weeks ago, it was this cookbook.  It’s full of 150+ recipes specifically designed to fit the nutritional needs of the runner, and so far, everything I’ve made has been phenomenal.

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3. Lincoln Durham

I discovered Lincoln Durham a few weeks back after watching my friend Chad’s Vlog on Paddling the Cahaba River in Alabama (check it out here).  Chad and I first connected when he wrote an Adventure Spotlight article for Adventure To Anywhere about Jackson, Wyoming, which is now on my Bucket List.  Lincoln Durham has a Real, Raw, Dark Blues / Americana sound that I just can’t get enough of.  My favourite song at the moment is Love Letters.

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4. This Video Tribute to Denali

I’m sure most of you have already seen this beautiful video tribute to Man’s Best Friend, but if you haven’t, watch it.  But prepare to cry.  It warms my heart more than I can put into words.

5. My Herb Garden

Last week, I found this little wooden organizer at Winner’s in the Home Office section, and I decided to remove the glass top and plant my herbs in it.  I’m obsessed with it and I’m pretty sure it’s the cutest, pinterest-y-est thing I’ve ever done.

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What are some of the things you’ve been loving this month?

What did you get up to over the weekend?

What’s on your summer playlist?

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Train Your Brain for Race Day – 5 Tips

As a Sweat Pink Ambassador, I sometimes receive Writing Prompts from the Fit Approach team.  This morning, one of the prompts was;

“How do you train, mentally and physically, for races — 5ks, 10ks, half & full marathons?”

I feel like there’s a ton of information out there on the physical aspect of training, but that the mental aspect sometimes gets a big neglected.  I truly do feel like there is a massive mental aspect to running that can be even more important than the physical aspect when things get really challenging.  So, I’ve put together a list of 5 ways that I like to condition my brain for race day.

1. Set 3 Goals – A Dream, A Goal, and A Plan B

A few weeks before race day, you’ll probably begin to think about your goals for the event.  People run for different reasons – some to stay fit, some to feel accomplished, some to beat their previous PR, and some to win.  (I’ve listed the Reasons Why I Run here.)  A Race Day goal can be as ambitious as setting a new record for yourself, or it can be as simple as finishing without walking, finishing with a smile, or simply just finishing.  Remember to start where you are.

Personally, I like to set 3 goals before a race – a Dream, a Goal, and a Plan B.  My “Dream” is usually a pretty far reach – something I know I could achieve if I pushed myself my hardest – such as a new PR.  My “Goal” is usually the realistic aspiration.  I’ll consider my current physical state and my average paces and shoot for something realistic that I know I can likely achieve as long as nothing goes wrong on the course.  And then there’s a Plan B – a fall-back – something simple that I can push myself towards if things get unbearably tough.  Since I am still new to running, my Plan B goal is usually just to simply finish the race, even if it means walking half of it.

During my most recent Jugo Juice 10k, my Dream was 1:10:xx, my Goal was 1:15:xx, and my Plan B was just to finish the race.  And guess what?  I crossed the finish line at 1:02:30.  Sometimes – you can blow your own damn mind!

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A photo from the Jugo Juice 10k

2. Seek Inspiration

One of the most incredible things about living in this technological age is the ability to reach out to all kinds of different sources of inspiration.  My favourite ways to do this are through Instagram and Running Blogs.  A few weeks before a race, I’ll begin searching the Hashtag on Instagram to find other people who will be running the same event.  Sometimes we connect, offer words of encouragement, and even meet up on Race Day to exchange high-fives.  Other times, I find it inspiring and comforting to read about everyone’s journeys, follow along with their training, and see their photos of their race day outfit all laid out the night before.

Me and my friend Sarah.  We connected through Instagram months ago and were finally able to meet up at the Calgary Marathon.  Check her out on Instagram at @HealthyAndTotallyTransformed

Me and my friend Sarah. We connected through Instagram months ago and were finally able to meet up at the Calgary Marathon. Check her out on Instagram at @HealthyAndTotallyTransformed

The first running blog I ever followed was Hungry Runner Girl, and Janae actually inspired me to begin blogging about my own running journey, back when Adventure To Anywhere was strictly a Travel Blog.  Check her out for some serious inspiration.

3. Find a Mantra

Spend a good chunk of time thinking about what your Race Day mantra will be.  This could be a song lyric, a quote, or something personal.  Repeat it to yourself whenever the going gets tough.  Write it on your arm.  Engrave it into your watch.  Leave sticky notes with your mantra all over your home.

My mantra, since the day I began running, is this; “I Am Stronger Than My Past.”  It is a reminder of what I have overcome mentally, physically and emotionally, what I have sacrificed to get to the start line, and the number one reason why I run.

Some of my other favourites that I have heard over the last little while have been;

“Run like Ryan Gosling is waiting at the finish line”

“No Bacon if You Walk”

“Run For Those Who Can’t”

“Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway”

“I Can Do Hard Things” – check out my friend Kaella’s inspirational race recap here

4. Create a Ritual

Since the Jugo Juice 10k was my first “major” race, I developed quite the little ritual the night before and the morning of.  Here’s a quick outline of what worked well for me;

Night Before:

– I ate a delicious dinner that was made up of mostly easy-to-digest carbohydrates.  I avoid dairy completely for 48 hours before a race, and resist the urge to overeat so that I can still sleep.

-After dinner, I went for a nice long walk around a pond in my neighbourhood.  I turned my phone off, didn’t listen to any music, and just relaxed by the water listening to the birds.

-I laid out my race day outfit, packed my bag with everything I’d need post-race, and double checked my list so that I could sleep soundly knowing I was already prepared.

-I set 3 different alarms…just in case.

-Before going to bed, I did some gentle yoga with lots of hip openers and heart openers, and then eased my way into 20 minutes of meditation to relaxing music.

Morning Of:

-I woke up early enough to eat a wholesome breakfast (a whole wheat english muffin with peanut butter and half a banana), hydrate well, and have enough time to use the bathroom.  (Let’s be honest. Nobody likes to run when they have to poop.)

-I did another short meditation (5-10 minutes) right before leaving the house, repeating my mantra over and over and forcing myself to breathe deeply.

5. Plan a Reward

Sometimes you’ll need to pull this trick out, sometimes you won’t.  Often times, training itself is motivational enough, but during those moments when things get particularly tough – such as when you begin to hit your wall during a race – this is a good thing to have in your back pocket.

I like to reward myself with non-food treats after every 100km I log.  My rewards range from a new book or a new pair of shoes to a sports massage or finally booking a trip I’ve been dying to take.  I usually have them planned out months in advance.

However, if we’re being honest, delicious food is usually my reward after a race.  After all, don’t most of us run to eat?  I got through the toughest KMs of my last 10k by fantasizing about the delicious slice of Strawberry Cheesecake I had promised myself that night.  My boyfriend’s dad always treats himself to a burger and a milkshake from a favourite local spot after a Half Marathon.  I’ll allow it.

This also happened after the race.

This also happened after the race.

How do you prepare mentally for a big race?

What do you like to do to shake off Race Day jitters?

What is your favourite post-race meal?

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Mashed Cauliflower with Vegan Mushroom “Gravy”

Hey guys!  How has everybody been doing?  Things have been ridiculously chaotic on my end this past week with our move, but we are finally all settled into our temporary home where we will be living until our new house is finished being built!  I am truly so happy here.  Sean’s dad is so wonderful and his house is so peaceful…I am loving the beautiful yard and garden and all of the big trees and running pathways!  I will be very happy to call this place home for the next 8 months.

So I wanted to share one of my favourite recipes with you guys this week.  I’m not vegan, but I do prefer to eat a plant-based diet when I can, simply because I feel better that way.  This recipe makes an awesome, healthy substitute for starchy mashed potatoes, and the vegan “gravy” is actually to die for.

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Here’s what you’ll need;

For The Mashed Cauliflower:

-1 Head Cauliflower, rinsed and cut into Florets

-1/2 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk

-1 Tbsp Coconut Oil

-Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Fill a medium pot 1/3 of the way with water and bring to a boil.  Add cauliflower and boil for 10 minutes or until cauliflower is soft enough to mash.

2. Drain remaining water from cauliflower and place in a food processor.  Add coconut oil and unsweetened almond milk and puree until the consistency is smooth.  You may add more almond milk depending on your desired consistency.

3. Add Salt & Pepper to taste, but not to overpower.  The gravy will be full of flavour!

For the Mushroom Gravy:

-10-12 White or Crimini Mushrooms, washed and sliced

-1 Small White Onion, cut into chunks

-3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

-2 Tbsp Coconut Oil

-1 Cup Vegetable Stock

-Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Melt coconut oil in a large skillet.  Add Garlic and Onion and sauté until onion is translucent.

2. Add mushrooms and sauté for another 5 – 10 minutes, or until mushrooms are very soft.

3. Put entire contents of skillet into a food processor and add vegetable stock.  Puree until smooth, or as smooth as possible since you’ll still be able to see very tiny pieces of mushroom.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

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To serve, pour the “Gravy” over the mashed cauliflower and enjoy!

Serves 6.

Nutrition Info Per Serving:

120 Calories

7.6g Fat

11.4g Carbs

4.5g Protein

*Nutrition Info may vary depending on the brands / types of ingredients used.*

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Okay, so it’s not the prettiest dish…but just trust me on this. ;)

What are some of your favourite vegan or alternative recipes to favourite comfort foods?  Post a link in the comments below!

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Race Recap – Calgary Marathon Jugo Juice 10k

As I sit here on a Monday evening, I am still absolutely buzzing on a high from the Calgary Marathon Weekend.  This Race meant a tremendous amount to me, not only because it was my first 10k and my first race of 2015, but also because it was my first running event since my ridiculously frustrating injury that has been plaguing me since January.  (Read more about that here.)

My training did not go according to plan the week before the race.  The previous Sunday, I had planned to do a 9k run, but instead ended up participating in Rockin’ The Rockies, which was way more fun.  But then, as a result, I was too sore to do anything for 4 solid days, and all I did before the race was a 3k Shake Out run on Friday morning.  So I went into the race feeling really unprepared and a little doubtful, since I hadn’t run 10k since October of last year.  As a result, my true goal was to simply finish the race – but just for fun, I set a goal of 1:15:00.  My previous PR was 1:08:05, but I was sure that I wouldn’t be able to go that fast again…yet.

The Jugo Juice 10k Course

The Jugo Juice 10k Course

The night before the race, I was a wreck.  I had done everything “right”, according to the countless Runner’s World articles I had obsessing over for the past week.  I’d been impeccable with my nutrition all week, I’d cut down on fibre and pumped up the healthy carbs in the 2 days before.  A little much for a 10k?  I didn’t care.  I was a ball of nerves.  I had to meditate for almost a full hour on Saturday night just to bring my heart rate down.  Looking back now, I have no idea why I was so worked up.  I guess it’s just scary to know that you’re going to push your body pretty close to the limit for the first time in a long time – especially when the last time you did, you seriously hurt yourself and couldn’t run for 2 months.  So yeah, I was a little freaked out.  Needless to say, I set my alarm for 4:15am and tossed and turned all night until I finally decided to call it quits around 3:30am and start getting ready.  I had dreams about the most ridiculous things – trying to run up a hill and having my legs turn to actual jelly, finishing dead last by 2 hours, and stopping to pee 3 (THREE!) times on a 10k course!!!  Stupid brain.

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I actually love the shirts they gave us.

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All laid out the night before…zero colour coordination.

 

We got on the C-Train just after 5am and it was actually hilarious to see how insanely packed the train was at 5am on a Sunday.  Sean and I just kept looking at each other through all of the chaos and muttering things like… “It is five f#&*ing thirty on a Sunday morning.”  So by the time we reached the race grounds at 5:45, I was absolutely wired and ready to go.

Chaos at the train station

Chaos at the train station

I had the chance to meet up with so many amazing runner friends who I have been in contact with through the Blogging Community, Instagram and Facebook.  I’ll post their links at the bottom of this post because they are all unreal and definitely worth checking out.  We took a few group shots before the race, shook out the jitters, and then most of them left to run the Half Marathon which started at 6:30am.  I stood right beside the finish line and watched them all take off.  My stomach was in knots.

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Some of the amazing IG & Blogger ladies I finally met in person this weekend!

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Half, Marathon & Ultra Start Line

 

I had enough time to do some last minute stretching and make one more trip to the washroom before it was time for me to head into the corral with the other 10ks.  I placed myself well behind the 1 hour pace bunny, planning to start strong and then eventually fall back.  I cued up my race playlist, popped in one headphone, said a quick prayer to the Angels – “Please Angels Please do not let me break my body or come in last” – and then we were off.

The course was absolutely beautiful and so well marked and maintained.  I’ll take this opportunity to give a huge shout out to any race volunteers who may be reading this – THANK YOU.  This event was one of the most tight and well-organized I’ve ever seen.  Everybody was so friendly and helpful and encouraging.  The first 6k felt like a breeze…my adrenaline was running high and I was surprising myself with my time.  Around kilometre 7 I began to hit a mental wall.  Negative thoughts crept into my mind, my legs tired, and my pace slowed.  Just after the 8km marker, as we were leaving the East Village, I saw Sean standing on the corner of the sidewalk – amazing, supportive Sean who woke up at 4:15 on a Sunday to be there for me – and he was taking pictures, smiling, and yelling positive encouragement in my direction.  I put my arms in the air, flashed the biggest smile I could manage, and was replenished with the most amazing wave of energy.  I charged on, saving my last burst of energy for the final sprint at the end.  And I finished my first 10k race in 1:02:32 – 11 and a half minutes faster than I had hoped I would.  I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a little tear in my eye when a volunteer placed a medal around my sweaty, salt-stained neck.

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The best photograph Sean was able to capture…he said I was just too fast ;)

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Well-Deserved Finish Line Selfie

 

Splits

Splits

After a little bit of post-race chaos, Sean and I found each other in the parking lot, and we stuck around for a little while to watch some more runners cross the finish line.  But we left soon after, mostly because we are in the process of preparing to move and simply had a lot to do.  We made a brunch stop at Fatburger and, after getting some stuff done around the condo, I spent the rest of the afternoon recovering with a cold Village Blonde and my Pro Compression socks.

Post-Race Glow

Post-Race Glow

Recovering Right.

Recovering Right.

The Calgary Marathon was inspiring.  I saw people of all abilities and circumstances running the course.  It didn’t matter if it was your first or your fiftieth race, whether you were elite or a newbie, how much you weighed, how old you were or what your reasons were for coming to the start line that day.  I have never felt more alive.  I am afraid that I may be addicted to racing now.  As a matter of fact, I just noticed that the registration for next year’s race has already opened…

 

How do you cope with pre-race nerves?

What is your favourite distance to race?

What is the most outrageous running-related dream you have ever had?

 

Running (and other awesome stuff!) Bloggers to Check Out:

Joanna @ livingmintgreen.com

Kaella @ kaellaontherun.com

Jen @ prettylittlegrub.com

Susan @ dothingsalways.blogspot.ca

Sam @ betterwithsprinklesblog.com

Brie @ sliceofbrie.com

Becky @ thebexfactor.com

Kris @ canadiangirlruns.com

 

 

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Rockin’ The Rockies – Mount Lady Macdonald

*Side note – I have just been informed that this is Adventure To Anywhere’s 100th Post!!  WOOHOO!*

This past Sunday, I was presented with an amazing opportunity to participate in an event called “Rockin’ The Rockies” – an introduction to Trail Running with Kara, an amazing Ultra-Marathoner who I had connected with through Instagram.  (Check her out here.) The event was organized with the help from the folks at Lululemon Southcentre, Muscle MLK and the 5 Peaks Trail Running Series.  I was hesitant to sign up, because I’d been struggling with Trail Running over the last few weeks, but Kara kindly assured me that we would be taking things slow and that I wouldn’t have to worry about slowing anybody down.  So, I set my alarm for 6am on a Sunday morning and drove out to the mountains to meet with a group of 20 strangers at the base of Mount Lady Macdonald in Canmore.

Our Group taking a little break at a Viewpoint

Our Group taking a little break at a Viewpoint

As soon as I arrived at the Cougar Creek parking lot, I was met by several other smiling strangers who were all there for the exact same reason, and my anxiety began to ease.  I glanced up at Mount Lady Mac (after Kara pointed it out to me – I truly have no idea which mountain is which) and prepared my pack.  The hike itself is about a 6km round trip, but prepare for it to take you at least a few hours – up to half a day depending on how fast you go.  We climbed steadily (with some easy running on the flat parts near the bottom) and took plenty of breaks so Kara could talk to us about proper trail running form, trail etiquette, wilderness safety, etc.

Stopping to take in the view on the Ascent

Stopping to take in the view on the Ascent

I learned a ton and got to meet so many amazing like-minded people, including several other people who will be running in the upcoming Calgary Marathon series, fellow hikers, and even a badass husband and pregnant wife team who hauled a toddler up the mountain!  Speaking of which, Kara is nearly 8 months pregnant herself.  The dedication she has to remaining fit, healthy and active throughout her pregnancy is unbelievable.

The climb itself is definitely tough.  I was breathing heavily and literally dripping sweat for the majority of the way up.  But the views were completely breathtaking, which made it all worth it.  The last 500 metres or so of the ascent is all scrambling over massive rocks and boulders, so be careful if you attempt this hike.  Take it nice and easy, keep your centre of gravity low, and do your best to navigate the safest, easiest path through the rocky sections.

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Tackling the Scramble

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The Final Push to our Summit

 

We reached our summit for the day around 11am and got to relax on the Heli Pad for a little while, admiring our stunning surroundings and re-fuelling with the snacks we had brought.  (FYI – I tried Jelly Belly Sport Beans for the first time and absolutely loved them.)

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Enjoying a well-earned Rest on the Heli Pad

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Panoramic View

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Feeling Triumphant ;)

 

When we began our ascent, we had to take the scramble very, very slow again.  It was at this point that I wished I had brought my hiking poles.  They would have been very helpful coming down, may have saved my knees, and definitely would have prevented me from the gnarly, painful ankle-rolling that took place.  Once past the scramble, I ran / speed hiked the rest of the way down.  This was exhilerating, even if it did cause me to be excruciatingly sore for the 3 days following.

Upon returning to the parking lot, we were presented with some pretty sweet swag from Lulu, Muscle Mlk, and 5 Peaks.  We took a bit of time to recoup before we all said goodbye and went our separate ways for the journey home.

Our Swag Bag!

Our Swag Bag!

My Tips for hiking Mount Lady Macdonald:

-Wear good shoes!  Trail shoes or even hiking boots if you have them…although good running shoes would also work.

-Use hiking poles if you have any sort of weakness or troubles in your knees.

-Carry lots of water!  I burned through my entire 2 Litre Camelbak by the time I got back to my car.

-If possible, do this hike in a group and be sure to make lots of noise.  You are in bear country.

Happy Adventuring!

 

Have you hiked Mount Lady Macdonald before?  Did you like it?

Do you have any experience with trail running?

What is on your hiking bucket list for this summer?

 

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5 Things I’m Loving – May 2015

Good morning guys!  How was your weekend?  The weather here in Calgary was absolutely incredible!  I had to work on Saturday as usual and didn’t get my regular days off – I only had Sunday and then had to go back to work Monday.  But Sunday was unreal – read all about my adventure on Mount Lady MacDonald in the next few days.

I wanted to put together a quick post highlighting a few of my favourite things this month…especially since this month is almost over!  It was hard to pick just 5.  I’m not sure if that’s because there’s just so much to love in the Spring Time?  Anyway.  Here we go…

1. Yoga Girl Book

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If you’re one of the 1.3 million followers of @yoga_girl on Instagram, then you will probably know about this book.  I have been following Rachel Brathen’s life in photos for a few years now, and I find her to be a constant source of inspiration – not just in yoga, but in life and general wellness, too.  Honestly, I was a little bit skeptical when I first heard about this book, because I expected it to be a fluffy collection of impossibly bendy yoga photos and unrealistic rules for living a yogic life.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  I connected with this book on a deep, personal level as I read about Rachel’s life – and struggles – from her early childhood all the way up until her 20s.  This book also brought me back to my yoga and meditation practice, which I had been neglecting for many, many months – mostly for personal reasons.  Do yourself a favour and pick this book up.  If nothing else, it’s  a beautiful collection of photos, recipes, and inspiration.  More info here.

2. Prana Fuji Organic Trail Mix

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Is it ridiculous that I’m including a nut mix on a list of things I’m currently obsessed with? Probably.  But this is too good not to share.  It’s full of unique and flavourful nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, cashews and brazil nuts…as well as pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries.  I’ll pour myself a little dish and seriously savour each and every nut individually – they’re THAT good.  Click here for more info.

3. Ramen

Chili Goma from Shiki Menya

Chili Goma

Specifically Shiki Menya here in Calgary, and Underbelly in San Diego.  (There is also a Shiki Menya Vancouver location.)  I don’t know what it is about this slurpy, salty broth with noodles and eggs and meat and goodness but I crave it on a daily basis now.  If you’re in Calgary and want to give Shiki Menya a shot – do it!  They open for lunch at 11am but you have to be there RIGHT at 11 because they only serve 150 bowls per day.  Insanity.  Worth it.

4. James Bay

2014JamesBay_ChaosandTheCalm_111214

I discovered the musical genius of James Bay while I was in Costa Rica this past January.  A few of the volunteers and yoga teachers at the retreat were super into him, and began playing his music at the end of class.  I was hooked.  I pre-purchased the album right there in Playa Negra.  And once it was released, I couldn’t stop listening to the entire album on repeat…and I still can’t.  Every single song is amazing.  James has such a raw and powerful sound and I simply cannot get enough.  Do yourself a favour and check him out here.

5. Chinook Honey Company “Honey Bee” Lip Balm

Lip Balm Horiz.

Over the Long Weekend, Sean and I ventured out to Okotoks to go to Costco (which was closed, duh) so we instead ended up at the Chinook Honey Company by fluke.  It is such a cool place – if you haven’t been, make the trip!  We purchased some of their creamed honey and beeswax soap, which are both amazing, but my favourite purchase by far was the Honey Bee Lip Balm.  I’m extremely picky about my lip products, and this is the perfect balance of hydrating, not sticky and refreshing but not sickly sweet – plus, it feels good to support a local business and to use a product that is completely natural.  Visit chinookhoney.com for more information.

 

What have you been loving lately?

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Personal Update – Reality Check: I Can’t Eat Whatever I Want Just Because I Run

Good morning everyone – and Happy Friday!  I can’t believe that the May Long Weekend is upon us.  It’s a really exciting weekend for all of you outdoor enthusiasts because it seems to be the official kick-off to camping season.  We aren’t heading out camping this weekend, however…I feel like I’ve been on the road nonstop for the past month between San Diego and Kelowna and I’m actually really excited to just lay low and relax around the house, get a few good runs in, and maybe take a day trip out to the mountains!

Oliver and I after my 7km run this past weekend in Kelowna

Oliver and I after my 7km run this past weekend in Kelowna

I have a confession to make – when I returned from San Diego after a week of pure indulgence, I could no longer button up my jeans.  True story.  We had a wonderful time – exploring the city, checking out some really cool museums. and eating and drinking everything our little hearts desired – but even with running 5 out of the 7 days we were there and walking probably 10+ kilometres every day, we still managed to pack on a few extra pounds.  Brutal!  But – this may have actually been a blessing in disguise.  You see, up until recently, I wholeheartedly believed that because I was a runner / active person, I could pretty much get away with eating whatever I wanted.  My love of food, after all, is one of the main reasons I began running in the first place.  (For a more inspiring list of reasons why I run, click here.)  I started to get really excited about the prospect of eating all of the things I enjoy on a regular basis – especially when I got into running longer distances and torching more than 700 calories before breakfast.

But here’s the thing.  Especially during my Recovery Program, I was hardly running enough distance to burn off a 200-calorie snack.  I watched my weight begin to creep up and my confidence begin to slide down, which made me feel even more depressed and frustrated about my injury.  And guess how I dealt with that?  You got it – by eating more.  Eventually I was up nearly 10 pounds from where I was in January when I got injured.  So, upon returning from San Diego, I decided it was time to get serious about my nutrition.

If I’m being honest, nutrition is something that I’ve always been passionate about and interested in, but my willpower oftentimes fails me and I find myself binge-eating fast food in my car after a long shift or throwing an entire day into a pile of nutella just because of one little slip-up.  I’ve tried it all – low carb, low fat, high fat, calorie counting, clean eating, intermittent fasting, juice cleansing, eating intuitively – you name it.  Nothing seems to stick – although calorie counting is the one thing that I have found the most helpful throughout my years of weight struggle.

I am trying to find that delicate balance between eating whole, healthful, clean foods that help my body to be the best that it can be, and enjoying the delicious side of life where things like red wine, chocolate and burritos live.  Why is it so hard?!  I know people who truly eat to live – they don’t seem to care what their food tastes like – they just eat what they know is best for them and go on with their lives.  But not me.  I get so DAMN excited about food, it’s almost criminal.  If I have the opportunity to go out to eat, I will spend hours (hours!) researching the best restaurants in the city and looking at the menus drooling over all of my choices.  (Check out my profile on Zomato!)  When we go on a vacation, we truly plan our activities around where we want to eat.  On Sunday mornings, I usually lay in bed planning what I want to cook that week, and then proceed to spend the rest of the day grocery shopping, prepping, and getting excited about eating.  I have been caught laying in my bed staring at pictures of noodles on Pinterest.  None of this is really that bad, but it’s the ‘don’t-know-when-to-quit’ mentality that messes me up in the long run.

Am I Right?

Am I Right?

I could ramble on forever on this topic, but I think I will just leave it there for today.  The compromise I have decided on (for now) is this;

-Try to remain within my calorie limit every day (I use MyFitnessPal to track) but don’t get all bent out of shape if I go over my limit a little bit here and there.  Remind myself that I am human.  I also have to be diligent with being authentic with my entries – not manipulating my food diary to reflect a better day than I actually had when it came to what I ate.

-Attempt to fill that daily calorie limit with 80 – 90% clean food.  Again – I am human.  You are human.  We aren’t perfect.  But I know as well as the next person that keeping my meals clean makes me feel like a million bucks.  And I like to feel like a million bucks!

-Allow myself to enjoy treats / cheats, but then get back to eating well.  For now, I’ve decided that allowing a set number of “treats” per week is better for my lifestyle than allowing myself one entire cheat day because I would likely just binge myself into deep-fried oblivion that way.  I am hoping this will teach me that just because I had a treat at lunch does not mean that I have to have a shitty dinner and then go buy a pint of ice cream and eat the entire thing while watching Netflix.  It’s all about balance.

I’ll be interested to see how this works for me.  Right now, the way my body feels and performs is more important than weight loss, and that’s somewhere that I’ve never been before.  It used to be all about 100-calorie snack packs and burning x-amount of calories on the elliptical at the gym.  Now, I want to eat real, whole foods that will fuel my long runs and repair my muscles after an intense cross-training day.  It feels like a  little bit of a game changer to think this way.  I suppose time will tell.

Running in San Diego

Running in San Diego

What are some of the ways that you stay accountable for what you’re eating?

Do you have a favourite healthy-living blog or website?  A favourite recipe?

What are your plans for the May Long Weekend?

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San Diego: Where to Stay, Eat and Play – The Second Time Around

At the end of April, to celebrate 3 years of loving each other (or something like that), Sean and I ventured to my favourite city in the world – San Diego – for a week.  Some of you may remember when I spent four days in San Diego back in October, and took every opportunity I possibly could to rant and rave about how in love with the place I was.  (Read more about that experience here.)  I was so excited to return back to SD, and I had a list a mile long of what I wanted us to experience while we were there.  Here are a few of the highlights…

My Handsome (Camera) Man and I in San Diego

My Handsome (Camera) Man and I in San Diego

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Where We Stayed

I returned to Hotel Vyvant in Little Italy for a second time, and was just as smitten with the property as I had been in October.  (More on that here.)  We stayed in the exact same room that I stayed in last time, and everything was wonderful.  I would recommend this hotel to anyone.

The Beautiful Succulent Display on the Hotel Vyvant Terrace

The Beautiful Succulent Display on the Hotel Vyvant Terrace

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Where We Ate

If I’m being honest, I will admit that the real reason I was able to convince Sean to go to San Diego was the promise of the Pizza and Pasta Mecca that is Little Italy.  We returned to some old favourites such as Bencotto, Buon Appetito and Pappalecco, but we discovered plenty of new favourites, too.

Underbelly – A trendy, busy Japanese Ramen restaurant in Little Italy.  Super chill vibe, amazing Ramen.  I recommend “Belly Of The Beast” – Brisket, Hoisin Short Rib, Oxtail Dumplings and Soft-Boiled Egg.  Yes please.

(Im)Patiently Waiting for Ramen

(Im)Patiently Waiting for Ramen

Belly of the Beast

Belly of the Beast

Shorehouse Kitchen – Located in La Jolla, Shorehouse Kitchen is an adorable all-day breakfast and lunch spot with a nautical vibe.  We had probably the best service of our entire trip here, and the food was excellent and reasonably priced.  Bonus: They have a Doggie Menu!

OB Noodle House – This legendary noodle shop that was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives can be found in the hippy neighbourhood of Ocean Beach and is an absolute must for visitors to the area.  Home to a variety of noodle bowls and other asian-inspired dishes, this place is always busy – and for good reason – there are daily draft beer specials for $1 and the food is seriously good.  Brave souls can attempt the Pho 20 Challenge – we did not – although Sean was tempted.  You won’t find a better bang for your buck in San Diego.

Brisket & Steak Pho

Brisket & Steak Pho

Unreal Value

Unreal Value

Extraordinary Desserts – With locations both in Little Italy and Balboa Park, Extraordinary Desserts has earned its reputation as one of the most talked-about spots in the city.  Not only are the desserts to-die-for delicious, but they are crafted into pieces of exquisite art; topped with things like ornate gold flakes and fresh, fragrant flower petals.  They have a full cafe, food and drink menu as well, but we never had room for any of that.  Don’t miss your opportunity to eat here.  We went 3 times.

Chocolate Mousse Cake

Layered Something-Something

Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes

Beautiful

Beautiful

The Culinary Highlight for my Sweet Tooth - Lemon Berry Cheesecake

The Culinary Highlight for my Sweet Tooth – Lemon Berry Cheesecake

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What We Did

Besides eating?  We actually accomplished a ton within a week, even without having a rental car.  The San Diego transit system is very user friendly, and when we needed to get somewhere that the train didn’t go, we used Uber.  Some of our top experiences were…

The USS Midway Museum – Only 2 hours after arriving in San Diego, we found ourselves aboard the decommissioned USS Midway Aircraft Carrier for an incredibly educational experience.  I felt a full range of emotion as we explored every nook and cranny of the ship.  Highly recommended.

Basic Sleeping Quarters

Basic Sleeping Quarters

One of the many Military Aircrafts on board the Ship

One of the many Military Aircrafts on board the Ship

The USS Midway

The USS Midway

Japanese Friendship Garden – Located in Balboa Park, the Japanese Friendship Garden is a simple, peaceful and beautiful way to spend an hour or so.  Take a walk through the pristine park and take in many attractions such as the Bonsai collection and the stunning Koi Pond.

The Beauty of the Japanese Friendship Garden

The Beauty of the Japanese Friendship Garden

Details

Details

Koi Pond

Koi Pond

Fashion Valley  Mall – We didn’t go to San Diego to shop, but I’m sure glad we did.  Runner Friends – The Nike Running Store was unreal.  There is a fantastic selection of stores in this open-air shopping centre, plus it is accessible by trolley.

Old Town – We spent an afternoon in historical Old Town San Diego to check out the many heritage shops, artists and food.  (Check out Barra Barra Saloon for killer nachos!)  This is a really entertaining and educational part of San Diego to spend a portion of your day.

Old Town San Diego

Old Town San Diego Market

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery & Point Loma Lighthouse – If there’s one thing the United States know how to do, it is how to lay their veterans to rest.  This was one of the most stunning, pristinely-groomed cemeteries I have ever seen overlooking downtown San Diego and the Pacific Ocean.  Take the time to walk up to the Point Loma Lighthouse as well – for the history lesson or the stunning ocean views.  Both will be well worth your time.

Just a small part of this Expansive Cemetery

Just a small part of this Expansive Cemetery

Taking in the View at Point Loma

Taking in the View at Point Loma

Seaport Village – A cute collection of touristy shops along the boardwalk, Seaport Village is a San Diego necessity.  There are plenty of restaurants as well.  If you have had enough, hop on a ferry to Coronado Island.

Morning Runs on the Boardwalk or through Balboa Park – I was just finishing up my 8-week Post-Injury Rehab Program while I was in San Diego, and my final run in the city was also my finally run of recovery.  I could not have picked a more incredible place to complete that chapter of my life.  The San Diego runner community is thriving and vibrant – just head down to Seaport Village around 7am to see what I mean.

An Overcast Morning on the Boardwalk

An Overcast Morning on the Boardwalk

Running Across Cabrillo Bridge into Balboa Park

Running Across Cabrillo Bridge into Balboa Park

Birch Aquarium at Scripps – We visited the Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla and it was a phenomenal experience.  The aquarium is home to thousands of aquatic animals – from fish to jellyfish to seahorses to sharks.  There is even an interactive exhibit where you can touch things such as Sea Cucumbers and Sea Urchins.  Arrive right when they first open to beat the school groups – we were glad we did!

Sean in front of the Largest Aquarium - the glass is 10 Inches Thick!!!

Sean in front of the Largest Aquarium – the glass is 10 Inches Thick!!!

Leafy Seadragon

Leafy Seadragon

Jellyfish

Jellyfish

What are some of your favourite things to do in San Diego?

What is your favourite city in the world and why?

What are your upcoming travel plans?

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Hiking Tunnel Mountain in March

Back at the beginning of March, Sean and I embarked on our first official hike of 2015.  Tunnel Mountain can hardly be considered a “climb” when compared to all of the bad-assery in the surrounding Rocky Mountains (think Ha Ling Peak and Mount Yamnuska) but it was still a beautiful way to get out and enjoy the mountains during the wee hours of Spring.

Pre-Adventure Car Selfie

Pre-Adventure Car Selfie

The day began with a stop at Quarry Lake in Canmore so I could go for a short run.  I actually just ended up running laps around the lake itself, which would normally get boring, but how can one be bored with a stunning view like that.

Running at Quarry Lake

Running at Quarry Lake

We then drove to the Trail Head for Tunnel Mountain just past the Banff Centre for the Arts.  There’s lots of parking and it’s pretty hard to miss the Trail Head on the left side of the road.  An easy ascent with stunning views of the Valley, the Town of Banff and the Banff Springs Hotel made this hike the perfect kick off to our Spring Hiking Season.

The Banff Springs Hotel from the Trail

The Banff Springs Hotel from the Trail

Stunning Valley Views

Stunning Valley Views

The 4.3 KM Round Trip took us about an hour up and an hour down due to some pretty gnarly ice patches.  It would probably be quicker in the warmer months.  There are almost no insanely steep hills on this trail, making it suitable for all fitness levels and trail runners.  It is a very popular hike due to it’s location and it’s accessibility, so expect to see lots of people and dogs on the trail.  I’d feel comfortable doing this hike alone just because of the amount of traffic it receives.

These two adorable red chairs mean that you're done!

These two adorable red chairs mean that you’re done!

Lunch with a View.

Lunch with a View.

Sean and I :)

Sean and I :)

The Verdict: Tunnel Mountain is a perfect way to kill a few hours, get your heart pumping, and catch some incredible views without absolutely killing yourself.  It would make for a great conditioning hike, cross-training activity, or trail running experience.  Bring shoe spikes if you’re hiking in the winter months.  In the warmer months, hiking boots or even good running shoes would be fine.

Blessed.

Blessed.

Where have you been hiking lately?  

Which climbs are on your Summer Bucket List?  

What is your favourite cross-training activity?

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