Monday, September 22, 2014

Oasis Zoo Run 2014

I might have a new favourite race.

On Saturday I ran the Oasis Zoo Run in the 10K group at the Toronto Zoo and had the time of my life. 

I'm a slow runner and my finishing times usually sit around the 1:20 mark, but somehow I managed to PR by 12 minutes and finish with a 1:07:52! 

It was surprisingly difficult as I forgot how hilly the grounds at the Zoo are so it makes this milestone all the more exciting.

It's also pretty cool to have animals as your cheering section. From polar bears, to foxes, to wildabeasts, I have to say the flamingos made the best spectators with their loud squawks as I ran by.

This race is part of the Canada Running Series, the same group that puts on the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathob that I'll be doing the second time this October.

I'm already looking forward to signing up for this again, and other CRS events.

Have you had a race take you by surprise?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Struggles and Triumphs

This week was weird. I started a new job on Monday so my schedule was a little out of whack. I was nervous for my first day so I didn't sleep very well the night before and was exhausted by the end of the day. 

Tuesday was the same but on Wednesday I was off so I planned a long-run. It did not go well.

I was able to make it about 16K before I was just too tired. I stopped to rest and admired the view.

My boyfriend picked me up and instead we grabbed bagels for lunch and ran a few errands.

After feeling disheartened about my long-run I had little faith in how my stair-climbing would go on Thursday. Thankfully I was pleasantly surprised. I think I've finally made it over the hump because it went so well! Usually I feel exhausted after just the first two times up the seven-flight parking garage, but I felt pretty good even after ten! I wanted to push myself further but didn't want to overdo it.

Friday I was desperate to go to the Farmers Market. I haven't been in a few weeks and it's my absolute favourite place. Not having access to a car or wanting to spend money on the bus, I walked seven kilometres to the Market, including a stop at the bank to grab cash my boyfriend ended up picking me up on his way home from school so we could hangout that afternoon.

I'm really struggling with my long runs lately and don't know what to do. Do you have any tips for when you're in a rut?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Speed Training Optimism

For different reasons I've been skipping some of my training sessions. From heat and humidity to my latest shoulder/neck injury, I just haven't been following my plans. Even my diet has been off. I spent the better half of last week devouring junk food even though it was making me feel awful. Needless to say, tonight's training session was mandatory.

I ran six kilometers and, overall, managed to keep my pace under my minimalist goal. I'm feeling pretty hopeful about my 10K next Saturday because I have an ideal time in mind that I didn't think was achievable despite not being anything extreme. If I can keep that pace for four more kilometers I'll finish a very happy runner.

I also took advantage of this speed training session to break in some new gear I bought for the race. I tried on these capris in the spring but didn't feel like shelling out the money for them. Now that they're bringing in fall collections I bought them for about half the original price!

Recovery included a huge bottle of watered down Gatorade before I even left the track, and then a huge salad while lying in bed.

How do you get yourself back on track?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Homemade Almond Milk

OI'm going to file this under "Things That Are Absolutely Amazing." I made homemade almond milk and it's the most fantastic thing I have tasted.

I hated dairy milk growing up. Despite being a meat eating family, my father always maintained that drinking dairy milk is unnatural for humans so we only really used it for cereal (which I usually ate dry as a child) and in recipes. Unlike most of my friends, I was never forced to finish a glass of milk before I could leave the dinner table. I'm thankful for this because a glass of milk just makes me feel queasy.

When I discovered almond milk I fell in love. It became a base for my smoothies, replaced regular milk in my cereals, and I've even come to crave a glass of almond milk once in a while. Weird, huh?

I decided to make almond milk on a whim. Most recipes on Pinterest were the same so although I cannot take credit for this, I don't really think I have anyone else to credit either. Let's chock this one up to the universe.

1. Soak one cup of raw almonds overnight (6-8) hours

2. Drain and rinse almonds.
3. Place in a blender with 3-4 cups of water depending on how thick you want the milk. Blend on high for a few minutes until creamy.

4. Place a nut bag or cheese cloth over a large bowl, close at the top, and pour the mixture through the bag.
5. Squeeze! Squeeze all of the liquid out and pour into a resealable container.

Bonus: I added in a dash of vanilla but I think next time I might blend a date or two into the mixture instead.

To be honest, I personally did not find that making my own almond milk was any cheaper than buying it from the store... nor was it much pricier. However, homemade almond milk is definitely tastier! I might try experimenting with other nuts to see what delicious milks I can make.

Have you ever made your own nut milk? What flavours do you like to add? 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Stairs vs. The Stair Climber

I remember last year when I was getting ready to prepare for the CN Tower Stairclimb. I was so excited to jump on the stair-climber at the gym and was amazed with myself when I had climbed for 40 minutes and felt great. I thought the event would be a breeze and my running had my legs in better shape than I thought.

These ideas were dashed the following week when I decided to join my mom in a parking garage. After only 20 minutes I thought I was going to die. Let me tell you with confidence, the machine at the gym does not come close to actually climbing stairs.

After walking the dogs and practicing yoga in the morning, my mom and I heard to the garage in the evening. With humidity reaching anywhere between 85-100% this week coupled with my high activity levels, I decided to stick with 20 minutes. 

By the time I finished I was dripping with sweat and my legs were shaky, but I felt great. I might run for 3+ hours each week but this is a great activity to shake up my exercise. 

Today my calves are a little tender but nothing extreme. I stretched out with some yoga this morning and will likely foam-roll later. 

I'm hoping to ramp up my stair training within the next few weeks -- in determined to beat my time of 23 minutes and 15 seconds from last year. 

Have you ever aced a workout in the gym only to be shocked when it didn't translate into real-life activity?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Speed Training

I'll be honest... I don't really add speed training into my routine. I have long runs and cross training, and even short runs, but speed training is something I've mostly avoided. I've decided to actually follow through with my self-made training plan and for two weeks in a row I've been working on my speed.

My plan has been 800x200 sets but today was so ridiculously hot that, by the time I had walked from my car to the track I knew it was better for me to do 600x400s.

With a one kilometre warm up, five kilometres of speed training, and a one kilometre cool down I was exhausted. My car was reading only 23 degrees but the humidity was killer.

Drenched with sweat, I finished three quarters of my litre water bottle before I stopped off at the store and mixed the last of my water with roughly a cup of Gatorade. I'm finding it hard to find a recovery electrolyte drink that agrees with  me and watered down Gatorade seems to be the only thing. 

My late afternoon recovery lunch was amazing and simple. Avocado, cucumber, tomato, and mushroom in a quick lemon/dill/Dijon mustard dressing, and a vanilla almond milk. So simple but exactly what I needed.

So far I've tried two locations for speed training: a trail through the marsh and a track behind a nearby high school. I think I like the track because I don't have to check the distance on my Garmin. 

Where do you do most of your speed training? Do you choose to skip it?