Speaking out about Anxiety

I have a confession to make.

Over the past few years, I have been struggling – really really struggling – with anxiety. More recently, this anxiety has turned into panic attacks. They are scary, embarrassing, and often times debilitating.

My first panic attack occurred in January. I was at work and it came out of nowhere, and it scared me so much that I left work to go to emergency because I was certain that something was wrong with my heart. After running some tests and ruling out a whole bunch of stuff, the doctor landed on a panic attack, with the root cause being the recent loss of my father.

It’s been 10 months today since my dad died tragically at the hands of alcoholism and addiction. In those 10 months, I have also had to remove myself or set very rigid boundaries in other very crucial relationships, and it feels as if I am now mourning the loss of my entire family. Loss can either bring a family closer or tear them apart, and unfortunately for us, it did the latter.

There are no words to describe how much I miss him.

Combine the family turmoil with other things – health issues, financial struggles, major life changes such as a new house, and a career – that I LOVE – but that taxes me every day as I try to give and give and give when I am empty myself – all of this leads down a very dark path on the hard days.

Yesterday, I had another panic attack. At work, again, which of course lead to a lot of shame. I am a senior hairstylist at the best salon in the city. I am highly educated in my craft, and I am excellent at what I do. I take care of others all day long, and I am happy to do it. So for me to turn into a sobbing, shaking, sweaty mess on the floor of the staff room with my face buried in a towel in front of my peers…well, embarrassing would be an understatement.

Yesterday, though, it was different, for two reasons. One, because I now know exactly what a panic attack feels like, so I didn’t feel that sense of impending doom and I knew that it would pass. And two, because I could actually feel the anxiety building in me for 7 hours before the actual attack happened. I remember thinking that I was feeling the same way I felt before my other attacks, and wondering if I was going to have another one. I remember trying to calm down and focus on breathing, but not being able to. And finally, it was a challenging moment at work that suddenly sent me into the spiral.

Luckily, I had a very sweet, supportive coworker who also suffers from panic attacks with me when it happened. She gave me exactly what I needed – a cool cloth on the back of my neck and calm, reassuring words that I was going to be okay. Because of that, the attack lasted maybe only 6 or 7 minutes, and after taking some time to calm down, I was able to get on with the rest of my shift. I was also lucky to come home to my boyfriend, who had made me dinner and set up a nice, calming space in my bedroom that I was able to retreat to after. Eventually, I fell asleep, but the exhaustion I feel after these attacks often lasts for days. It is awful.

So, now what? This has been my third major panic attack in 7 months, accompanied by a series of other smaller episodes and struggles. The weight of it is becoming a lot to bear, and I am afraid that it will begin to affect my everyday life more and more if I don’t do something about it.

I refuse to take medication. Yes, I know it would help me, but I am one of those weirdos who won’t even take Advil unless things are seriously unbearable. I suffer through aches, pains, coughs, colds and flus without pills because I am stubbornly rooted in what I believe. I don’t think the answer to my anxiety lies in a chemical, mind-altering pill. And I don’t want my emotions to be controlled. I want to believe that I can fight this some other way. The turmoil and the cause of my anxiety is coming from the inside, so I feel like the treatment should, too.

Currently, the things that help me are running, meditation (although inconsistent), and sometimes essential oils and herbal teas as well, although they can’t exactly ‘fix’ me if I’m already feeling anxious. I also see a therapist once a month, or as much as I can afford to, to try to cope with the loss of my parents and the current state of my family. I’m not sure what else I could be doing. It already feels like so much.

I really don’t want to resort to medication. I struggled with depression through my teenage years, and I never filled the prescriptions for antidepressants that my doctor gave me. Instead, I turned to creating music and doing things that inspired me to battle it, and it worked. I want to do the same thing now, but so far, I just can’t seem to do it. I feel defeated.

I don’t even really know why I wanted to write this post. Here I am at the end of it, and I feel like I should be providing some inspirational quote or some nugget of infinite wisdom, but I’ve got nothing. I guess I just wanted to reach out, explain a little bit what I’ve been going through, and maybe somebody will read this and at least understand that they are not alone.  
It helps a little bit to get my thoughts in writing sometimes. And if someone happens to relate to this along the way, then that’s great.  

Any constructive thoughts, questions or relative stories are welcome in the comments below. If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading. I hope you have a wonderful weekend – and, if you’re struggling like me – that you find some peace.

Posted in My Adventures | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

2016 Spruce Meadows Heroes Behind the Heroes 10K Race Recap

Hey, Strangers!

First of all, I want to explain myself.

I’ve been a little bit MIA lately, and as I’ve explained before, (and, as I’m sure you all understand!) sometimes life gets busy, and the hierarchy of priorities knocks my blog out of the ranks for a bit.

These past few weeks, I have been exploring the backcountry of Saskatchewan (yes, that’s a thing), buying a new car, and preparing for the unexpected arrival of my younger sister here in Calgary as she has made the last minute decision to move here.  She arrived on Friday, and it has been wonderful, challenging, and very eventful getting her settled here, and even though life has gotten quite a bit busier now, I am so happy to be a part of it.  She has temporarily moved in with Sean and I, so we are working to establish a new routine and balance in our home, but it’s slowly coming together.  I don’t want to go into details about the state of our family life just yet, but let me just put it this way – she needs me, and I am realizing that I need her, too.  Top all that craziness off with an unhealthy amount of continuous family drama, and that might explain why I haven’t been writing much.

But I have still been living, I promise you.  Running, hiking, biking, eating, cooking, lifting, loving, learning, reading, walking, creating, healing…and watching Netflix.

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My face when I drove away in my new car!

As a part of this whole ‘living’ thing, I ran in the Heroes Behind The Heroes 10k at Spruce Meadows this past Canada Day, which also happens to be my man’s 25th Birthday!  What a day.  The Race had a 10k Run and a 5k military-style obstacle course option (check out Ange’s recap of that race), and there were several Canadian Forces members on site as well, which was really cool to see.

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This race is the first in the second annual Spruce Meadows Run Series.  Last year, I ran the Summer’s Gone 10k and the Dashing Through The Glow 5k, so I knew I was in for a treat.  We got to the race grounds about half an hour before the start, just in time to use the washroom and participate (spectate) the group warmup.  Mostly, I chased around all of the adorable dogs on the grounds and tried to give them all some loving while the rest of the participants warmed up.

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This adorable little fluffball wanted to be a part of the action!

There were maybe a couple hundred participants this year, but I’d say that more than half of them were there to do the obstacle course.  The 10k race began first, so Sean, Gord, Carie and I all lined up to go just before 8am.  We all agreed that we’d be taking it easy…on Sean and my part, this was a result of some poor choices the night before. Sean especially wasn’t feeling too well. #SummerProblems

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The Birthday Boy and I before the race

The course was beautiful.  Last year, when we ran the Summer’s Gone 10k, it was wet and cold and stormy, and a lot of our route had to be re-designated so we wouldn’t be running through soggy, muddy paddocks.  This year, however, those paddocks were dry, and they made for a beautiful run through the fields, alongside all of the beautiful horses, who got very excited to see us and began cantering back and forth in their paddocks as we ran by.  Through the fields, it was important to watch our footing, due to uneven ground and long grass, but we didn’t have any problems – it simply made for a bit more of a technical run.

After the paddocks, there was a bit of weaving back and forth through parking lots, but for the most part we were running the footpaths of the actual facility.  It was a balmy 20-something-celsius, clear skies kind of day, and Sean and I chatted the whole way, saving just a little bit of energy for a bit of a push during the final kilometre, cheered on by camouflage-clad military personnel and spectators alike.  We finished somewhere in the middle of the pack, with a comfortable time of 1:06:18.

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After the race, we collected our medals, lots of water and our pancake breakfast, and relaxed in the sun while watching other finishers cross the line.  My favourite thing about these races at Spruce Meadows is definitely the intimate, family-friendly feel.  There were tons of kids participating, especially in the obstacle course, and every man, woman, child, dog and horse was welcome to spectate.  The volunteers were friendly and encouraging, and overall the event was laid-back and lots of fun.

I am so glad that the Spruce Meadows Run Series exists.  I’m not always able to do all of the events because of my work schedule, but the ones that I can do are always a lot of fun.  I will absolutely be back.image-05-07-16-01-47-4

  • – – –

How do you stay balanced when life gets busy?

How did you spend Canada Day?

Posted in My Adventures | 2 Comments

2016 Rock n Roll San Diego Half Marathon Recap

I registered for the Rock n Roll San Diego Half Marathon 364 days before the actual race. If you know me, you know that San Diego has been my favourite city in the world ever since I visited for the first time in October of 2014. I knew that I wanted to race in my favourite place on earth, so I started planning a year in advance.

I’ve always been a tiny bit superstitious, and I believe in lucky numbers 3, 7, and 45. San Diego would be my 3rd Half Marathon, during my 3rd trip to the city I love so much. I had high hopes for this race, and so for 12 months, I dreamed of it becoming a place for a new PR.

10 days before I was scheduled to leave for San Diego, I injured my knee. (You can read more about the details of that injury in my 5K Recap Post). After a painful 10k race the weekend before during the RMS Women’s Run, I decided to take the entire week off of running in hopes that my knee would stay strong enough that I could at least finish the race.

Flat Ashley all laid out the night before

I came to San Diego with adjusted expectations and no real goal but to finish the race, hopefully in 2.5 – 3 hours. During the 5k race the day before, my knee was feeling better than expected, but I really wasn’t sure what to prepare for on Half Marathon day. So, I woke up at 4am, taped up my knee, forced down a bagel and showed up at the start line ready for whatever was going to happen.

A very nervous start line selfie at about 5:15am

After a quick meet up with the We Run Social crew, I lined up to start the race alongside my new friend Heather. We started in the 3rd corral, even though we both knew we’d be waaaay slower than them. I always prefer to go out with a group faster than me.  I had never been a part of such a massive race…there were nearly 30,000 runners lined up!

Our awesome #WeRunSocial crew!

Me and Heather in our start corral

Heather and I took the first few kilometres nice and slow, chatting away and taking in the sights and sounds of RnRSD. The course was so entertaining. Live music, plenty of hilarious costumes, and pit stops along the way with anything from tequila shots to fresh fruit to donuts kept us laughing and entertained for miles. Our pace was pretty slow as we weaved through the vibrant neighbourhoods of San Diego, averaging around 6:50ish / KM. The first part of the run was mostly uphill.

Amazing. (photo @sloluckyruns)

And signs like this! Ha! (photo: @purple_kaye)


Somewhere around the halfway point, it must have been mile 7, we entered something called ‘The Blue Mile’, which honours fallen American soldiers and all men and women of service. I fought back tears as we ran past photos upon photos of soldiers who had been killed in action, followed by a street lined on both sides with people holding American flags. By the end of it, I was crying, and I was so distracted that I didn’t realize how much I had picked up my pace.

The Blue Mile

At Mile 9, Heather detoured to grab some Licorice, and I was now on my own. I took a mental inventory of my sensations and realized that my knee was either feeling really good, or had gone completely numb. Either way, I had knocked about a minute off of my average pace, and I was feeling strong. I decided to give it a little push for a while.

At mile 10, things got hilly again, testing my fatigued muscles. I didn’t push harder than I wanted to but I tried to keep up a strong pace. At this point, I was in my own little world. I kept forgetting that I was running a half marathon, and at a few different points, I even remember wondering why this was feeling so easy?  
Remembering my knee, I took downhills gently, uphills with caution, and stayed strong and light on the flat parts. I took 3 honey stinger gels, and no water, which was surprising considering the heat and the humidity.  

On the course

As I approached the final 5k, I started doing some math in my head. It occurred to me that if I kept up my current pace, I could finish in about the same time as my current PR of 2:15:01 (set at Seawheeze in August). I re-calculated three times, because it just didn’t seem possible. The first half of the race had been so slow. How could I possibly be close to my PR?

Kilometres continued to pass, but my legs just wouldn’t give up. I was gaining momentum by the second and I continued to calculate my pace. When I had only 2km left, I knew I was going to PR as long as my legs didn’t give out on me. As soon as I hit the final mile marker, I gave it about 80%, enjoying the music and the cheers of the massive crowd of spectators.  

During the final mile

Once I rounded the corner and could see the finish line, I pulled that final little bit of power out from under me and pushed on. Totally shell-shocked, I crossed the finish line at 2:13:31. No tears, no throwing up…I was laughing. Laughing out loud as my third half marathon medal was placed around my neck.

Race Day is a funny thing. It can be the source of your greatest triumph or the cause of your deepest sorrows. It can make you love yourself and hate yourself at the same time. This particular race just made me laugh. A fellow Runner asked me why I was laughing as I collapsed to sit on the curb beside her, and all I could say was ‘The Key to Happiness is Low Expectations.’  

I continued to laugh as I called to tell Sean that I had accidentally PR’d, but then being the giant mush ball I am, I started crying when he told me how proud he was of me, etc. Blah blah. Race day wouldn’t be race day for me unless there were at least a few tears.

I made my way down to the beer gardens, where I got my free can of beer at 9am (I took 2 sips and then gave it away and got a green juice instead…I tried!) and was joined by Jen and her husband, Tom. Jen also had some amazing news – she had finally broke her sub 2 hour half marathon at a screaming 1:57:50. I was so proud of her. Later on, we met up with Kaella and Susan, who both thoroughly enjoyed their time on the course with plenty of treats along the way (Mimosas, anyone?).

Kaella, Sue and I after the race

Post-race recovery in the park

I have nothing but amazing things to say about this race. The course was excellent, the support from the neighbours and spectators was like nothing I’ve ever experienced, and the staff and volunteers were beyond amazing. The only thing I wish is that there was at least a small section of the course that had an ocean view. But really, that is small potatoes. What an epic experience.  

Photo courtesy of @runrocknroll

I will absolutely be back to run San Diego again, and I am already planning my next Rock n Roll race experience!
Splits:

1km – 6:56

2km – 7:00

3km – 6:56

4km – 7:09

5km – 6:32

6km – 6:45

7km – 6:17

8km – 6:21

9km – 6:03

10km – 6:17

11km – 5:57

12km – 5:51

13km – 5:48

14km – 5:51

15km – 5:51

16km – 6:12

17km – 6:17

18km – 5:57

19km – 5:51

20km – 6:12

21km – 5:00

21.46 – 5:06


Have you ever accidentally PR’d?

Have you ever run a race purely for fun, with no time goals at all?

Have you ever run a race with an injury?

Posted in Race Recaps | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

2016 Rock n Roll San Diego 5K Race Recap

In case you weren’t already bombarded by my (over) instagramming and snapchatting this past weekend while I was in San Diego for the Rock n Roll Marathon Series, I have concluded that the best way to sum up this unreal weekend experience is by breaking it down into 3 separate blog posts. The first one (this one) will be a race recap of the Saturday 5k, the second one will be a race recap of the Sunday Half Marathon, and the third one will be about all the amazing in-between a of this trip.

For those of you who don’t know, I got injured about 10 days before my departure to San Diego. I still don’t have an official diagnosis from a doctor or physiotherapist (because I’m stubborn and refused to go) but I would bet my medal collection that I developed a little something called ‘Patella Femoral Pain Syndrome’, also cringingly nicknamed ‘Runner’s Knee’ (rude).
Long story short, Patella Femoral Syndrome typically occurs because a muscle imbalance in the quadriceps pulls the kneecap off of its track, and results of the grinding of the patella against the femur. Yeah, it feels about as awesome as it sounds. It is common in runners because our outermost quadriceps muscles become so strong while the inner muscles can’t keep up, causing the tight outer muscles to pull things out of alignment.
Anyway, after running the RMS Women’s Run 10k a week before San Diego, and being in so much pain that I wanted to cut off my legs, I vowed to take the entire week off from running and go into the San Diego races with zero expectations. With the Saturday 5k falling less than 24 hours before the Half Marathon, my plan was to take it nice and easy and enjoy a slow ride.

Flat 5k Runner laid out on Friday Night


Kaella and I set our alarms for 4:30 and made our way down to the race grounds just before 6am. The race began at 7, so we wanted to have lots of time. It worked out great, because we had time to take lots of great pictures and meet up with a few friends before the race began.


Kaella and I split up, because she was planning to run quite a bit faster than me. I lined up in the 35:00 finish time corral and settled in for a surprise bag of a 5k.
In protecting my knee, I decided to run mostly by feel, and I forced myself to take plenty of walk breaks, and to walk down every downhill section. (Spoiler alert: there were tons.). My intervals shifted between 3 minutes running and 2 minutes walking to 4 minutes running and 1 minute walking, and I had plenty of time to take in the surroundings of the race.
It was an all-ages, all-shapes-and-sizes, all-kinds-of-kinds kinda race. Young. Old. Fast. Slow. Small. Very Large. Strollers. One-legged army vet on crutches (WHAT a badass..he made me cry.) You name it. It was freaking awesome.

On the 5k Course


The course weaved through parts of Balboa Park, which meant there were plenty of rolling hills to keep us entertained. Because of my knees, I had never been so grateful for inclines in my life. They felt the best. The course support was decent and overall, this race set us up and set the tone for the whole weekend.  
I finished in 39:32, grabbed medal number one of the weekend, and stretched out my grumpy muscles hoping that my knees would hold up for the Half Marathon the next day. Come back tomorrow to read all about that! 

5k Bling!

Posted in My Adventures | 9 Comments

Rocky Mountain Soap Women’s Run 10K Recap

On Sunday, I got the pleasure of running through the rolling hills surrounding the Canmore Nordic Centre with hundreds of other women. The Rocky Mountain Soap Women’s Run had been on my list for years, and I was so excited to finally experience this race for myself.

After work on Saturday, Sean and I made our way out to Canmore. I had planned to run the race with Claire, and her and her boyfriend, Al, have a place out there, so we opted to spend the night there before the race. We made dinner (BBQ beef, shrimp & veggie skewers, baked potato, garlic bread & Caesar salad) and watched Dirty Grandpa (freaking hilarious by the way) and went to bed just after midnight. I tossed and turned all night, as I usually do before a race, and finally called it quits around 7:30am. It was really nice to have a later race start of 10:00am, especially since it was a little brisk in the mountains in the morning.
I got dressed, taped up both of my knees to attempt to support the patella femoral issues I’ve been having lately, ate a bagel with almond butter and half a banana, and drank a full bottle of water while Claire also got ready. At around 9:15, we said goodbye to the boys and headed to the Nordic Centre.

KT Tape is a God Send

The race grounds were already buzzing when we arrived. I spotted Ange and Brie and said a quick hello, had time for one last trip to the bathroom, and then it was time to line up. I positioned myself in the middle / back of the pack, knowing that I was going to take it real slow and easy on this run. It was intended to be more of a supported training run anyway, with San Diego coming up next weekend, but especially as my knee was already acting up, I knew I wouldn’t be racing hard.

Claire and I before the race

As we crossed the start line, Claire and I stayed together for the better part of the first kilometre. Eventually, we both fell into our own paces, so I popped in my earbuds and settled in for a nice, relaxing run.

The 10k course was two loops of the 5k course, but that didn’t bother me at all. It was beautiful, all set on paved pathways with lots of hills. The downhills killed my knee, so I was actually very grateful for the uphills. I kept my pace slow and steady around 6:50, thanked volunteers, and cheered on other runners. There were plenty of sections when we were running against oncoming runners, so it was fun to look for people I knew in the crowd. I saw Claire somewhere in the 8th kilometre, so I knew she wasn’t too far behind me. 

Aside from the obvious irritation in my knee, I felt great throughout the whole race. I didn’t walk at all and I didn’t stop for water, just kept pushing on, taking in the beautiful mountain views all around me.

The final hill

At the 9th kilometre, I was feeling fairly good, so I gave it a little push, just for fun. As I neared the finish line, I saw Sean and Al on the sidelines, which is always a good motivator. Once I crossed, I turned around and made my way back up the course. I was still feeling alright, and I wanted to get a few more KMs in, but more so, I wanted to find Claire, and cross the finish line with her.

Pushing to the Finish Line

It only took me 900 meters to find Claire, and then we finished the final stretch of her race together. I was so proud of her. She ran Seawheeze with me last year, undertrained but extremely optimistic, and already, she has gotten so much faster. I can’t wait to watch her crush Seawheeze again this summer.

Claire and I pushing to the finish line together

We collected our swag bags, met up for a chat with Ange and Brie, and then did a little lap of the expo before we headed for lunch at The Tavern in Canmore, tired, sweaty and hungry, but very satisfied.

Me, Brie & Ange after the race

The contents of my Swag Bag

Overall, this race was awesome. I loved the whole experience from start to finish, and I absolutely will run it again. It’s such a shame that it fell on the same weekend as the Calgary Marathon..but I guess I’ll just have to switch off year after year to run them both!

Pre-Race..when we were still cute. Just kidding, we’re always cute.



Have you ever run the RMS Women’s Run?

Have you ever injured yourself during the taper before a big race?

Posted in My Adventures | 8 Comments

Adjusting Expectations for a Race

This past Sunday, I ran my longest long run in preparation for my upcoming Half Marathon, Rock n Roll San Diego. I took my 20k nice and slow, taking two hours and sixteen minutes to complete it. It was pouring rain, freezing cold, and for about half an hour it snowed on me. But regardless of all this, I enjoyed every single moment. I found peace in adjusting my expectations.
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It is no secret that I’ve been hoping San Diego could be my new Half PR. After a frustrating second Half Marathon in October only 3 weeks after my Dad died, I wanted to make San Diego the best half yet. It is my favourite city in the whole world – the perfect place to set a new record.  (Check out my previous posts on San Diego here.)
My 2016 season was off to a promising start. I chased down my first Sub 30 at the St. Patty’s Day 5k in March, and then surprised myself even further with my first Sub 60 at the Calgary Police 10k in April. 2016 was shaping up to be a pretty speedy year (for me, anyway) and I was very, very optimistic about RnR SD.
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There’s no clear reason why my average paces have been climbing from 6:10s to 6:50s lately. It could be a reflection of an irritating, minor knee problem I’ve been having. Or maybe it’s a result of some personal stresses I’ve been battling. Perhaps I’m missing that badass reflex I once had to run my hardest all the time. Probably a combination of all 3, I’m not sure. But I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m actually not upset about it.
The thing is, I originally turned to running as a form of therapy when my Dad got sick. It wasn’t about PRs or medals or monthly mile counts. It was about me, putting my phone away, and hitting the pavement alone so I had somewhere to sort through all of the mess in my head. And I still believe that if it weren’t for running, I may have suffered some kind of severe mental breakdown last year. But here I am.
Last weekend, during my second longest long run, I told myself to slow down. I hid my watch and I ran by feel. I didn’t worry about my pace, as long as it was comfortable. And guess what? I loved every minute of that run. I smiled and said hi to passers by. I took in the beautiful scenery around me. I felt immense gratitude for my amazing body as it carried me, slowly but surely, through those 18km. So that’s what I’ve been doing lately…and I have found so much joy in running again.
Between Sunday, May 29 and Sunday, June 5, I will run three races – the RMS Women’s Run 10k, the RnR San Diego 5k, and the RnR San Diego Half Marathon. And I have released all expectations. Every single one. I have no goal but to enjoy every single step and to cross all three finish lines with a smile on my face.
If I treat my body right, there will be plenty of time for PRs in my future. For now, I just want to enjoy the ride.
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Have you ever had to readjust your expectations before a big race?
What’s on your spring calendar?
Posted in Running Tips | 7 Comments

Surf Set at Illume Hot Yoga Review

On Sunday, I had the pleasure of attending a Surf Set class at Illume Hot Yoga here in Calgary. To be perfectly honest, I’d never even heard of Surf Set until Brie and Alison reached out to ask if I’d like to try a class. I jumped at the chance (FOMO made me do it) and went in with zero expectations.

surfset

The morning before our class, I had an 18k run scheduled, so my legs were already pretty tired when I arrived at the studio. But as soon as I walked into the beautiful, air-conditioned studio and heard the Bob Marley playing in the background, I was very glad that I came.
Our Surf Set instructor and studio owner, Telara, introduced herself and gave us all a little intro to the boards. Essentially, they are small surfboards suspended on a contraption made from what looked like bosu balls and bungee cords (although I’m sure there’s a lot more to it than that!). This made simply standing on the surfboard a core-building stability exercise. I thought that was all we would have to do. But I was wrong.
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Me during a day of actual surfing in Maui, 2009

The next 45 minutes took us through a warm up, a cardio section, and a strength section. Think burpees, planks, lunges, tricep dips and squats..all on a wobbly surfboard. Was it challenging? Yes. But it was also FUN. So fun. As long as you go in with an open mind and prepare to laugh at yourself, it’s a guaranteed good time.
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In only 45 short minutes, our heart rates got up, our muscles got blasted and our sweat was flowing. I couldn’t believe how tough it was. The morning after the class, I woke up with sore muscles similar to what I remember feeling like after an actual day of surfing. Now that’s saying something.
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How great are these Blog Squad shirts?!

As for the studio itself, Illume is beautiful. It is serene, tastefully decorated, and full of reclaimed wood (my favourite!) I’d love to try a yoga class there. Sadly, it’s a good 45 minute drive one way from my house, which is a bit far for me to drive for yoga, but I would absolutely do another Surf Set class. It was honestly like a little trip to the beach…all we needed was a pitcher of margaritas!
If you’re interested in trying out a Surf Set class (and you absolutely should!) Illume offers a $40 intro month special for the first 30 days to new guests for just Surf Set, and $50 if you’d like to add yoga as well.  Check out their website for more details.
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Have you ever tried a Surf Set class, or real surfing?
What’s the most fun you’ve ever had while working out?
Posted in Lifestyle Posts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Spring & Summer Training Schedule

Hey guys! Haaapppy Tuesday. I’m not sure about the rest of you, but here in Alberta we have seriously been enjoying this unbelievable spring weather we’ve been having! In fact, at the time of writing this, it is 27 degrees out and I am sitting on my front step in the sunshine. This is practically unheard of in April in Calgary, but I will take it!
Along with this warmer weather, I’m sure many of you have started planning your summer race schedule. I know I have…you can check it out here if you haven’t already. And while everybody is unique depending on their needs, their body, their fitness level and what’s on their calendar, I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you what my weekly training plan looks like. So, let’s get right into it!
springsummertraining
MONDAY
Outdoor cross-training
On Mondays, both Sean and I are off work, so we like to spend the day together. During the winter, we would head to the gym together, but now that the weather is warming up, we like to do something active outside. This could include hiking, bike riding, a long walk, or swimming.
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A shot from our recent hike up Ha Ling Peak in Canmore

TUESDAY
Tempo Run
On Tuesdays, I hit my medium length run of the week (usually ranging anywhere from 5k – 9k) and focus on keeping a consistently decent pace throughout the run.
WEDNESDAY
Gentle Cross Training

Wednesdays are my Mondays, so I like to treat myself to some gentle cross training in the morning before work. A leisurely stroll, a bike ride, or a yoga class usually end up being my winners.

THURSDAY
Vigorous Cross Training
On Thursdays, I hit it hard. I have become addicted to 6AM Body Pump classes at GoodLife Fitness, because they seriously get me fired up for the day ahead. Does waking up at 5 in the morning seem impossible? Check out my tips to streamline you morning workout routine.
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FRIDAY
Speed / Hills
On Fridays before work, I alternate between speed training and hill repeats. I rarely run more than 4K on these days, which allows me time for a good stretch and some strengthening exercises afterwards.
SATURDAY
Rest Day
Saturdays at the salon are ALWAYS busy, so in preparation for my long run the next day, I take it easy. If my body is telling me it needs more than one rest day in a week, I’ll sometimes take Wednesday off as well.
SUNDAY
Long Run
Oh, Sunday. That delicious day of the week where my weekend begins and I can run my favourite way; long and slow. This is my highest mileage day and is often followed by an enormous brunch, a nap, and a cold beer in the afternoon. I look forward to Sunday every single week.
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Do you prefer short, medium, or long runs?
How many rest days do you typically take in a week?
What is your favourite cross-training activity?
*This post was written in part for the GoodLife Fitness Ambassador Program.  As always, all opinions expressed are my own.*
Posted in Running Tips | 1 Comment

2016 Calgary Police 10k Race Recap

This past Sunday, I ran my first 10k race of the 2016 season, the Calgary Police Half 10k.  This was the 36th year anniversary of the race itself, but the first time (I think ever?) that they had a 10k option.  Sean’s Dad has run the half several times, and always had wonderful things to say, so I jumped at the chance to register for the 10k.

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The night before the race, Sean and I took it easy – we (well mostly me) are currently obsessed with Scandal, so we watched an episode of that while eating a big bowl of mushroom & asparagus pesto pasta from the Runner’s World Cookbook (highly recommended!!)  We were in bed by 11, with alarms set for 5:30am, which came all too quickly, as it always does.  I laid out my outfit right before I went to bed.

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All black and my trusty Triumphs

In the morning, we wearily got dressed, split a banana and I ate a homemade Marronthon Bar, and then we headed to Sean’s dad’s house to carpool to Mount Royal University, where the race began.

It was pretty chilly at just above zero celsius, and the threat of rain was looming, so we sat in the truck to stay warm until about 10 minutes before the Half Marathon started at 8am.  I always love to watch the races before me take off, and this one was no different.  I actually found myself getting a little bit emotional, as I sometimes do, and I think it was because of the police presence (with it being a police run, obviously).. Sean comes from a family with a police background and I have family members who serve with CPS, and there are never enough words to describe my gratitude for all that our officers do in this city, and in every city around the world.

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The Half getting started

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Sean, Gord, Carie and I.  Can you tell the boys are related? ;)

Our 10k race began 15 minutes later, so we just had enough time for one last bathroom trip and a stretch before we were off.  I was feeling really great for the first kilometre.  And the second.  And the one after that.  I was actually surprising myself with my pace, too.  I hadn’t planned to “race” this race, I kept calling it a “supported training run” since I am training for RnR San Diego in 6 weeks.  But hey, shit happens, and sometimes that shit happens to be a little extra spring in your step.

The course was beautiful – a mix of residential streets with towering trees and character homes in Marda Loop, reservoir pathways, and of course, dreaded pedestrian overpasses above Crowchild Trail that damn near killed me (more on that later..)  Once we hit the 5k mark, I glanced at my watch, which read 29:11.  I realized that if I kept up my previous pace, I could not only PR this race (with my previous PR being 1:02:32 at Jugo Juice last year) but I could also get my first sub-60 10k.  Gord asked as we passed the 5k mark what our time was, and when I told him, he picked up the pace.  I knew he had the same idea and wanted to give me a little push.

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Loved this sign on the course.  Photo credit to @ironchik17

Near the 7k mark, I began to fade.  I’m still not sure if it’s because I got a little excited about my possible PR and pushed a bit too hard up the hills or what, but both of my hamstrings tightened so much and I had to walk three separate times and attempt to pound out the muscles with my fist.  By now, Gord and Carie were ahead of us, and Sean and I were both riding the struggle bus hard.  The 8th kilometre was awful.  I just kept muttering “I lost it”, because I felt like my Sub 60, and maybe even my PR, was slipping away.

But then there was Sean.  You guys.  This.  Man.  I don’t blubber about him as much as I would like to, because I don’t want to be THAT girl, but he is truly just so damn amazing.  The guy hadn’t run at all for over a month, definitely hadn’t run in the double digits since August, and he was suffering severely for it.  I knew he wanted to die.  I knew that his everything hurt.  But instead of complaining, or stopping, or walking (no matter how much I yelled at him not to overdo it) he found it in himself to push me.  It sounds cliche if you’re not a runner, and maybe even if you are, but for me, something so simple as a phrase like “You’ve got this”, “Keep Pushing,” or “Dig Deep” from a supportive ‘sole-mate’ can make or break my entire race.  And that’s exactly what he did.  He kept pushing.  He kept digging.  And he made sure that I did, too.

I didn’t exactly get my “sprint to the finish” like I usually would, because my hammies just wouldn’t budge.  But as soon as I could see the 10k clock, I knew that I didn’t have to sprint.  Sean and I crossed the finish line, side by side. with an official time of 59:33.  I couldn’t believe it, but I also could, because I was hurting and wheezing and sweating and swearing.  But – I didn’t puke in my mouth this time! #bonus

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Obligatory

After we got our medals, we went inside to the gym and grabbed some food.  There was coffee, bottles of water, apples, bananas, cookies and muffins.  I wasn’t particularly hungry, so I had a few nibbles of a cookie and some water and grabbed a banana for the road (because really, I’ll never turn down a banana).  The Runger set in on the drive home, so we stopped at Starbucks so I could indulge in a massive soy macchiato, and when we got home, we showered, feasted, and then I napped like a boss for the better part of the afternoon while Sean played video games.  And now, as I write this, I’m waiting on Indian takeout to arrive.  Yes.  A Sunday well spent brings a week of content, and this Sunday was the bomb.

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Splits:

1km – 6:12

2km – 5:57

3km – 5:57

4km – 6:12

5km – 5:41

6km – 5:54

7km – 6:06

8km – 6:24

9km – 5:57

10km – 5:52

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– – –

Have you ever accidentally PR’d at a race?

What are your go-to Pre and Post race meals?

What’s your Starbucks order when you want to treat yourself?

Posted in My Adventures | 4 Comments

I want to hear from YOU – what are your ‘Beginner Running’ questions?

Hey guys! Happy Tuesday!  I hope you are all enjoying this unreal weather like I am.  My racerback runner’s tan game is going to be STRONG this year! ;)
 

A shot from Sunday’s long run in the sun

 
 I just wanted to drop a quick line your way because I need your help.  Recently, I realized something.  I am not an expert on anything.  I love to run.  I love to hike. I love to travel.  But really, I’m still figuring it all out, just like most of you are.  I have expertise to share, sure, but I am no ‘expert’.

What I have come to understand, though, is that I seem to have a knack for inspiring people to begin their running journey.  I can not put into words how satisfying and amazing it is to receive emails and messages on social media from my readers, telling me things like ‘Because of you, I signed up for my first Half Marathon!‘ Or ‘I didn’t want to run today, but seeing your posts inspired me to get out the door.‘  It warms my heart to know that I can have that kind of a positive effect on your life, and I want to keep that effect going!

So, I want to hear from YOU. I am longing to create a series of running posts for the newbies, the un-motivated, the injured, and the confused. The brand new runners, or those who haven’t run in years and would like to ease their way back in to this beautiful sport.  What do you want to know?  What do you want to hear?  What are you afraid to ask at your local sporting goods store?

  
Leave a question below, send an email to admin(at)adventuretoanywhere.com, message me on Instagram, tweet me, or drop a comment on the Facebook page.  Get in touch and let’s get this conversation started.  *If you want me to keep your question anonymous, just let me know and I will definitely do that!*

And to those of you who have reached out to me to let me know that I inspire you, you need to know how much YOU inspire ME. Every time I see someone out there learning to run, my heart could burst. If you only knew the magnitude of the love affair that was about to explode…

  

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