#RWRunStreak – Week 1 Recap

…or the variety of excuses I didn’t cave in to this week.  To keep it simple, I’m going to go by day.

Day 1 – The Hangover Edition
The first day of the Run Streak happened to also be the first day of my first-ever bv02 retreat.  I knew this when I first decided to start the run streak, but I also knew that our specific brand of corporate retreat has left some people feeling, well, a little dehydrated from time to time.  That first day was no exception, and for a while on Monday morning I was mostly sure I was going to die.  Still went running, though!  I roped one of my co-workers, Jason, into run-streaking with me, so he dragged my hungover butt out onto the gorgeous trails surrounding our resort in Tremblant, and I’m really glad he did, because it was gorgeous and I managed a brutal 2 miles.  I did earn the nickname “veloci-runner” due to a startlingly bad picture taken of us running in which I look like a horrifying dinosaur of sorts, but looking good is for rest days, so I’ve made my peace with it.

If this was your path, you’d go running with a hangover too.

Day 2 – The One Where I Planned Ahead
After the, no exaggeration, horror of my hangover on Monday morning, I was dedicated to NOT feeling that way on Tuesday.  I know I feel my best on more than 7 hours of sleep and having gone for a run in the morning, so I made sure that happened and I did my mile in the morning.  This involved being the anti-life of the party on Monday night, but somehow I managed to combine that with winning the drink-making competition with my team’s deliciously sweet mix of orange juice, SourPuss, peach schnapps and ginger ale.  It’s all about a balanced lifestyle, people.

A few key ingredients to victory.

Day 3 – The One Where I Loved Running
Wednesday we all got home from the retreat, and while I did spend a few hours of my evening catching up on reality TV (you know you love it, don’t lie) I also made sure to get out for a run.  I got out there mostly by reassuring myself that it was only a mile, and that I didn’t have to come anywhere close to my race pace.  Turns out, taking the time pressure out of the run was just what I needed, and I ended up running more than 4 kilometres!  It was really nice to ease off the intense time pressure I had been putting on my training leading up to the 10K, and just relax into it.  I really love running.

Day 4 – The One Where I Got Up Early
A boring title for a boring day.  Did about a mile and a half, in the morning, loved it.  No real life lessons learned, but my Nike+ app did congratulate me on a four-day running streak!

Day 5 – The One Where I Felt Lazy?
Friday morning, I had the weirdest experience.  I got up early, got my shoes on, ran half a mile uphill and then turned around and ran back home.  I met my goal for the day, and kept up my running streak.  As a result of this, I felt… lazy.  Lazy because I had only run a mile, and easily could have run more.  Schwhat?  I’m running every day, which I’ve never done before in my life, and I feel lazy because those runs aren’t long enough?  I’m liking this paradigm shift, people.

Day 6 – The One With Company
Ugh.  Saturday morning.  Got up, got coffee, got back into bed with a book.  It was glorious.  For about an hour, I vacillated between “just go running” and “ten more pages.”  Thankfully, I know other people who run, and they’re pretty great about holding you accountable.  I recruited company for my run (OK fine, they recruited me) and together we did more than 5K in somewhat blustery weather.

Day 7 – The One With The Angry Birds
I WAS ATTACKED BY A BIRD!  No, but actually.  For a full video of someone else having the same life experience, see CTV Ottawa’s coverage of the phenomenon, but let’s just say these birds are not happy.  On a nice 7-kilometre run along the Canal, a red-winged black bird got pretty pissed off I was on their turf, and dive-bombed me.  It was startling, even knowing that they’ve been doing it to pretty much everyone, but it also makes for an amazing story.

That was week 1 of the run streak!  So far so good, and after 7 days of running, I can’t wait to see what the next weeks hold as I ramp up my half-marathon training while still making time for a run every day.


a win for stretch goals, ottawa race weekend edition

Drumroll please!  Introducing my new personal best for the 10K… 55:42!

Talk about a win for stretch goals.  For the past few weeks, I’d adjusted my goal time from 55:00 up to 60:00 because of interruptions in training and being realistic about the pace I could maintain over 10K, but I secretly was still aiming for 55:00. This goes against everything I’ve ever said about sharing your goals, so bear with me.  It’s a good thing I was still aiming for 55 in my head, and here’s why.

While under an hour is a perfectly respectable goal time for a 10K race, it’s one I knew I could easily achieve.  I’d been running under a 6-minute kilometre on all of my training runs, so it was less of a goal and more of an “I’ll be happy with this time.”  I was settling.  Thankfully, in my head I still really wanted that 55-minute time.  Why thankfully?  Because during the race, I could have backed off.  I could have slowed down when I started to feel my quads protesting, but I didn’t.  Why not?  Because that 55 minute pace bunny was right in front of me.  At one point, I almost touched him.  I didn’t cause I’m not creepy (well, not that creepy) but still.  I was within creepy-touching distance of my goal, and there’s no way I was giving it anything less than my all.

So I did, and thanks to that stretch goal, I remained within creepy touching distance of my goal time and ran a 55:42 minute 10K, setting a new personal best and shaving over 10 minutes (10 minutes!) off my last 10K time.  To share some of the experience with all of you (whether you were there or will be tomorrow or not) here are some of my pictures from the race!

The scene at the start line – and these were only the people starting behind us! Note the awesome bright green race shirts this year.

Rob and I, happy as clams with our finishers medals!

Confidential to every single person who volunteered this weekend, came out to cheer and supported me in my training: thank you from the bottom of my heart.  None of this would have been possible or nearly as fun without each and every one of you.  Special thanks to my amazing training partner, Rob!

i’m doing the #RWRunStreak – are you?

When I first heard about the Runner’s World run streak (#RWRunStreak, for those of you who, like me, sometimes speak in hashtag) it was in a blog post from someone doing the winter run streak.  For the life of me I can’t remember whose blog it was in, so mystery winter runner, I’m sorry I won’t be linking to your post!  Anyways, at the time it was a cool concept, nothing more, and it explained what a run streak was.

For those of you who haven’t heard, a run streak is a challenge set out by Runner’s World Magazine that challenges their community to commit to running at least a mile a day, no matter what.  Too hot out?  Go run your mile.  Tired?  Go run, for one mile.  Have other plans?  One mile and you.  Do it.  You get the idea.

When the winter run streak happened, I heard about it midway through, was in the middle of exams, and considered the Canadian winter plenty excuse enough not to join in.  Then a couple of days ago, a tweet popped up from Runner’s World introducing the summer run streak.  From May 28th to July 4th (both significant holidays in the U.S.) you commit to running at least one mile, every day.  As soon as I read it, exceptions starting popping into my head.  “Well, on May 28th I’m at the bv02 retreat…” and “Oh, that weekend I’m out of town…”

So I decided to do it.  The more excuses I could think of, the more reason there is to commit to this challenge.  It’s between my training for the 10K and the beginning of my training for the Army Half Marathon, it’ll keep me running and I do really well with public challenges.  I’ve also really enjoyed the past yoga challenges I’ve done, and I’ve found that this kind of structure helps me stay in integrity with my training.  I’m also really interested to see what comparisons I can draw between this challenge and my yoga challenges.  If they’re anything alike, I’ll learn at least a few valuable lessons along the way!

Plus, in the summer, a one-mile run from my house looks a little like this…

So, in a few days, I’ll be starting the summer #RWRunStreak.  Join me?

one last long run

…for now, anyways!  And by for now, I likely just mean a week.

This past weekend, my training partner and I tanked out our last long run leading up to the Ottawa Race Weekend 10K.  This has been our goal race for a while, and I personally couldn’t have asked for a better last training run.  It felt like the time sped by, we had a blast and the last kilometer or so was in the middle of a torrential downpour.  Nothing makes you feel more like you’re in a movie than sprinting in a summer rainstorm.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch better movies.

So now, all that stands between me and my under an hour goal time for this race is taper week.  After a 5K tomorrow morning, my training consists of sleeping and eating spaghetti on Friday.  This is why people run, isn’t it?  For the carbs?  I should make a shirt.  I’m only in this for the carbs.

watch your words

One of my big, overall beliefs about how the world works is that the words we use can impact our lives in really big, important ways.  Usually, I’m pretty great at choosing positive ones, and speaking about myself and my experiences in positive terms.  One time that goes out the window?  Running up a hill.

Hill training has never been my favourite part of running, to put it mildly.  Hills could not care less about your excuses.  It doesn’t matter to a hill that you were too tired to run last week, or that it was raining the last time you skipped your training run, or that you don’t like running in the winter.  The hill just sits there, challenging you, and it’s really easy to react negatively.

If I recorded my inner dialogue when running up a hill, it probably goes a little something like this. “Oh my god I don’t want to I’m dying is it over can I stop I want to stop I think I’m going to stop I’m dying….”  For the next half a kilometer or so, I’m hyperaware of incline changes I would never notice otherwise. “Are you kidding me?  This section of the Canal never used to be uphill!”

The thing is, I love running.  I love feeling stronger the next time I tackle a route I’ve already done.  I love feeling good-sore the next day.  Hills are a part of that, and they feature prominently in some of my favourite running routes.  Since changing the hills is mostly out of the question, and since I prefer positivity, I came up with a few specific thoughts as my go-tos when tackling a hill.

Instead of “I’m dying,” “I’m strong.” Instead of “I want to stop,” “I can keep going.” Instead of “I don’t want to,” “I love running.

Now, I’m by no means saying that I won’t still default to the negative thoughts, but it takes a lot less energy to default to replacements I’ve already thought of.  And let’s be serious, my quads need all the energy I can spare to power up that hill.

Edit: I have devolved into giving my muscles ridiculous pep talks when running up hills.  Standouts include “Dear my quads, you might as well be the quads of a fifteen-year-old professional soccer star” and “Hey glutes, you have the power to launch a thousand ships.”  Please, please keep in mind this is while in what can only be described as incredible amounts of pain.  Don’t judge me.

goals: an update!

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I love goal setting, and am a firm believer in writing your goals down.  I’ve been slacking on this, since I generally update my goals every three months to track my progress and make sure my goals are still in line with what I want.  I haven’t updated them since January, and a lot has changed since then!  Here’s a brief update on the goals I’ve achieved since then and the new goals they’ll lead me to set.

This is a big one, because I achieved both of my one-year goals for my career already this year!  The last time I sat down to set goals, I wrote:

I graduate with a 10.6 CGPA by April 30th, 2012.
I am working in a marketing or communications role by September 1st, 2012.

As of May 1st, I’ve officially graduated with a CGPA of 10.75 overall, a goal that goes as far back as my 2009 Christmas goal shirt from lululemon.

This picture is recent – I held onto the shirt for 3 years!

Part of achieving this goal lead me to crossing the second goal off of my list, which was working in a marketing or communications role by September.  As of April 3rd, 2012, I’m a full-time eMarketer with bv02, aka my dream job.  If you missed the website and Twitter campaign I ran as part of my application, you can check out the website here.  Side note to everyone who thinks this is an awesome initiative: it was also terrifying.  I was so nervous when I hit submit that this could be viewed as completely unprofessional and weird, and it took a huge leap of faith to go through with it.  The biggest takeaway that I’ve had is that achieving goals often happens way outside of your comfort zone!

We’re the coolest office ever, in case you were wondering.

What’s next?  In terms of career goals, I’m not quite as sure.  I know that I’ll be working on transitioning the focus of my blog to health and fitness, and increasing my focus on blogging, but beyond that I’m not sure!  I’ll be working it out over the next month and talking to some people in my field about what a measurable stretch goal looks like within an eMarketing role for the next year.

Health and Fitness
No goals getting crossed off the list in this area yet!  My focus right now is preparing for the 10K in the Ottawa Race Weekend, in which I’m going for a personal best and an under-60 minute finish.  This is my first step towards the half marathon in September!  After the half, I’ll be focusing on more yoga over the winter to gear up for Wanderlust next year with my mom.

I’ve set up an appointment next week to get my savings automated and in order, and I’ll be blowing the following goal out of the water:

I save 10% of my income by September 1st, 2012.

I’ve replaced it with a renewed focus on reading, and I’ll be reading 12 books before the end of the year.  I also want to move blogging into my career goals, so I have an empty space in my one-year goals for personal.  I don’t want to fill it hastily, so I’ll be taking a week to evaluate where I want to put more focus for my personal goals this year.  Focus is important, and I want to ensure I’m putting it on the right areas!  Stay tuned for an update on that in the next week or two.

That’s my goal update for May 2012.  Do you have any goals you’ve recently accomplished?  I’d love to hear about them!

training buddies: they’re actually awesome.

I started running in high school.  All of my friends were on the cross country team, and that seemed like a good enough reason to join.  In my mind, the fact that I had never run further than the length of a basketball court wasn’t really a consideration.  Clearly, I was the slowest person on the team for the first few months, and as such I got very used to training by myself because I didn’t want to hold my teammates back!

It turned out that I really enjoyed running alone.  Along with all the other benefits of running, it gave me time to zone out with my iPod and was really convenient.  Anytime I wanted to go running, all I had to do was grab my shoes and head out the door.  It was only when I started training for a half-marathon in Australia that I really began to understand what people were talking about when they said that running with a training partner or group was preferable.  It turns out that running for an hour or two at a time really does start to get boring when you’re doing it every other day!  It got so boring, in fact, that eventually I stopped following my training schedule, and didn’t run in my goal race.

So this year, with two big running goals set for myself (a 10K in under 55 minutes and finishing my first half-marathon) I decided to take the advice of nearly everyone who has ever written an article, book or blog post about fitness goals, and start training with a partner.  Surprise surprise, it really does have all the benefits everyone always says it does!  While I’ll still go for a run, a yoga class or a workout by myself when no one’s schedule fits with mine, I’ve gotten a lot out of training with other people.  The following are my own top three reasons to train with someone else when facing a big fitness goal!

#1. Accountability.  I don’t break commitments; letting people down isn’t my style.  If someone’s waiting for me at the gym, the field house or just a regular house waiting for me to go running with them, I’m going to be there.  It’s already gotten me to show up to several training runs I would have skipped because of school commitments, work commitments or just plain old sleeping commitments.  Even if I end up bailing after four laps because I’m sick, I will be there.

#2.Pushing limits. If you pick a running buddy who’s faster than you (which is a criteria many, if not all, of my friends meet) then you’re not going to want to hold them back.  Maybe it’s because I’m an only child, but instead of keeping to my tried-and-true pace of 6 minutes per kilometer, I consistently choose to step it up and keep up with my training partner.  The real benefit of this is realizing that your current pace might be more of what you’re used to and less of the limit you think it is.  Over the past few months, I’ve worked up to a 5:30 minute kilometer on longer runs and can even keep up a 5:15 minute kilometer pace as long as no one is asking me to run more than 5 kilometers!

#3. Social time… sort of.  I am consistently in awe of people who can keep up a casual conversation while running.  Regardless of how slow or fast I’m going, talking to someone else will quickly consist of yes or no answers, and only to direct questions that require an immediate answer.  However, I’ve really come to appreciate the pre-run goal setting conversations I have with my training partner (“How far are we going to run today? …6k? …Great, no, that’s what I was thinking too…”) and the fact that pretty much everyone in the world is more conscientious than I am about post-run stretching.  I know it’s important, but I never really make time to do it properly unless someone is sitting there with me!  Plus, there’s nothing like sprinting in to the end of your run and having someone right there with you, just as winded as you are.

Have you had a good experience training for a race or fitness goal with a partner?

i’m going to win the potluck.

About a week ago, not really sure what I was going to bring to a Superbowl party I was invited to, I asked about healthy Superbowl recipes on Twitter. After @RobStalker make fun of me for not really understanding the Superbowl if I thought healthy food was the goal, @lgouchie saved the day and sent me a link to a magically delicious recipe for Cookie Dough Dip from Add a Pinch.

I’ve never been that into food blogs, probably in part because I don’t really cook, but this one is amazing. Her recipes are so simple that even I felt confident I could create something that kind of resembled the images on her blog, so I typed out my list of ingredients and was off.

Yes, that is a pile of the gorpiest, most delicious ingredients known to man, thank you for asking.

I followed the recipe to a “T” and can’t really offer much constructive advice that can’t already be found in the original blog post or the incredibly informative comment thread (a huge thank you to the person who had already asked what to do if you don’t have anything more than a bowl and a spoon for mixing, by the way!)  The one thing I will share?  Don’t look at the nutritional labels.  Seriously, just don’t do it.  Nothing good can come from knowing how many calories are in this dip, and everything good can come from eating this dip and doing an extra workout or three next week.  It is freaking delicious, and worth every extra kilometer you’ll run. (Look who gets the Superbowl now, Rob.)

I only sampled it once, I swear.

I’ll be serving a double batch of this delicious dip later on tonight with graham crackers for dipping.  I’ll update the post with the overall feedback I get on it later!


countdown to jdc central: 11 days!

After months of preparation, it’s the final countdown to the most wonderful time of the year – JDC Central time!

It’s funny how different it is being in the final weeks as a captain instead of a competitor this year.  Last year I was a bundle of nerves and was stressing out about what to wear, what to pack, what to expect, how to prepare and a ton of other issues that seemed incredibly pressing and all-important.  This year it’s somehow calmer.  I have a lot more on my plate in terms of responsibilities, but a lot less pressure to perform.  Once we get to the competition, all of the most stressful parts of my role on the team are finished; I’ll have met all my deadlines, done my best to prepare our competitors and my role turns into a supporting role.  Staying awake, making sure my team stays awake and making sure my competitors feel supported are going to be my biggest challenges!

Until then, I’ll be swimming in a sea of last-minute academic practices, costume creation and making sure all the special surprises we have planned for the competition go off without a hitch.  The amount of paper products, fabric and general craft supplies in my living room is astounding, and just looking at what I fondly refer to as the craft pile makes me SO excited for January 20th to kick off the best weekend ever!


top ten reasons i’m happy to be back at school

A lot of people have less than positive things to say about Carleton starting classes mid-week when most other universities don’t get started until Monday the 9th, but I couldn’t be more excited to be back at school!  Even if I wasn’t, isn’t it always better to look on the bright side?  It’s a whole lot easier than trying to negotiate with the University’s scheduling office, and you have a much better chance of success.  But I am, so here’s a list of ten of the reasons why!

1. It’s a much shorter week, and I’m already done all my classes!  I feel productive and accomplished, without having had to do all that much.
2. Campus is gorgeous on sunny winter days like today.

3. Rooster’s pitas.
4. The fieldhouse is open for the first time since exams started in December – I like running outside and all, but sometimes you just want to run without worrying about frostbite, you know?
5. Back to school is also back to new TV seasons – please don’t judge me, but I couldn’t be happier that the Biggest Loser is back with a new season!  Life goal: work out with Bob Harper someday.
6. My teams for group projects this semester are amazing.  I owe a huge debt of gratitude to all of my professors who understand that random assignment of groups isn’t necessary or helpful in upper year classes!
7. I caved in and started using my shiny new 2012 agenda.  Let’s be serious, did anyone think I was going to be able to wait 4 months to start using it?

8. In only 15 days, I’ll be in the middle of the buffer zone and kicking off the best JDC Central competition yet!
9. It’s my last semester of school, so not only am I committed to kicking butt in my classes and enjoying every moment, it’s also far enough away from being over that I’m not terrified yet!
10. This Saturday is the SBSS winter retreat, and I’ll be tubing down mountains (OK, hills) with some of my closest friends all day.  If that’s not a perk of being back at school, I don’t know what is!

Admit it, you have at least one or two reasons you’re happy to be back as well, even if it’s just that tonight is the first Thirsty Thursday of the new year 😉