Tag Archives: running

Twenty One Point FREAKIN’ One!

That’s how many kilometres I ran! I didn’t do it swiftly. And I didn’t do it elegantly. But I did it! I set my mind to it, did my research & training… and finished a FREAKIN’ Half Marathon; the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon, to be precise (which, incidentally, raised more than $3.5 million for 164 local charities – suck on that, Rob Ford.)

Yes, it's on a fuzzy robe background. Yes, I wore both for the entire day.

If you had told me, 10 years ago, that I  would ever accomplish that lofty a goal, I’m almost certain my response would have been colourful and would have involved inviting you to attempt some variation of sexual relation with yourself. I know – classy. But I’m a Martimer and an army brat;  it’s who I am.

But I did it. And I’m proud.  I won’t lie, though.  It wasn’t easy.

There’s an epithet that gets bandied about on fitness and running websites: Respect the Distance.

I’m here to  tell you that it’s not just a clichéd expression for Nike or New Balance to sell more shoes and running gear. 5K is a challenge. 10K even more so. But once you start logging past that distance, it’s no longer a matter of simple math. Each additional kilometre gets exponentially harder (especially if you’re packing more junk in your trunk than recommended.)

And self-imposed dry Saturdays are not my most favourite thing ever. But I learned the hard way that, if you have a 10k training run on a Sunday morning, wine the night before (even if it is to celebrate your first wedding anniversary) is not the wisest of decisions.

But, in the end, all the blood, sweat and jacked up toenails were completely worth it.

The folks at CNW had a MUCH better vantage point, not to mention camera (I only had my phone) than I did at starting time.

I’d run the risk (no pun intended) of sounding like a Hipster Emo Poet if I were to try describing the rush of being in a crowd of 22,000 people — everyone from Olympic qualifiers and World Record breakers to average shmoes like me — all with the same goal in their sights. So I won’t try. But I will say that the high experienced while running right down the middle of Lakeshore Blvd., rather than along the Martin Goodman Trail (which is my usual route) was a surreal and astoundingly profound experience. And one I’ll hold onto for a long time to come.

So many people take on the challenge of a Marathon or Half Marathon and it’s always incredible to hear all of the various reasons why. Some do it for glory. Some do it for charity. Some do it in memory of lost loved ones. Some do it in celebration of overcoming adversity. Some do it in honour of their own reclamation of health.

I did it for that girl right there with the bad blonde dye job and the drink in her hand. She was a helluva chick. But she didn’t love herself very much.  I did, though. So I changed her. I gave her back her health. And yesterday, I gave her a giant helping of pride.

Also? I wasn’t last. But you know what? I hope whomever was, is feeling as proud as I am right now.

Missing PhotoSmash gallery: 7



Muffins and (Half) Marathon Training

I’ve been MIA for far too long and it’s high time for a bit of an update. So what’s new, you ask? And I’m sure you were. Asking, that is.

Well, honestly, pretty much the same ol’, same ol’… I’ve just been failing a wee bit with my time management skills. In fact, as I type, I’m still snuggled cozily in my fuzzy robe with a coffee to my left and a fat, sleeping kitteh to my right.

But what I should be doing is getting off my arse, lacing on my sneakers and heading out for my 15k training run. I know, I know – why procrastinate this far along in the game?  I’m not. Not really. I just need to be well and truly awake before I head out to abuse my body for that length of time. I’m almost there. One more cup of coffee and a bit of peanut butter and carby goodness and I should be good to go.

In the meantime, let me share with you my latest creation:

Oatmeal Apple Blueberry Muffins

1 cup old fashion rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup unsweetened chocolate almond milk
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup brown sugar Splenda
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 egg whites (1/4 cup liquid egg whites)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup blueberries


  • Preheat oven to 400°
  • Soak the oats in milk for about an hour
  • Spray muffin pan with cooking spray (I like Butter-flavoured Pam)
  • Combine the oat mixture with applesauce and egg whites & mix until just combined
  • In a separate bowl measure and whisk the dry ingredients together
  • Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just combined
  • Fold in blueberries.
    (NOTE:  You reallly do have to be careful that you don’t over-mix this batter or your muffins will end up the consistency of tiny tennis balls )
  • Spoon muffin mixture into muffin pan
  • Bake for 20 minutes
  • Remove from pan, cool and enjoy!

Okay! My artfully-honed procrastination skills are now sated for today. I’m off to run. Enjoy your Sunday!


Life, the Universe, and Everything

This past Saturday I turned 42. And, as any self-respecting nerd will tell you: that is, in fact, the Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything.

Author Douglas Adams’ fictional supercomputer, Deep Thought, spent 7½ million years computing this Ultimate Answer. And, despite my having reached this auspicious number of years alive on our planet, I have yet to be smote with a profusion of enlightenment. Of course, the fact that I most-often act about half that age might have something to do with said lack of wisdom.

Be that as it may – I am fortunate enough that, most years, my birthday lands on a long weekend (during the summer, no less.) Pretty sweet deal, right?

As a kid, though, that sort of sucked. There were no classroom celebrations. And, when it came to having a party with all of my school chums present, most parents had already spirited away my wee pals for family vacations. So it was usually me, my younger brother and my parents when it came to Happy Birthday Weezie Time. Which, in retrospect, wasn’t that bad a deal.

But, now? Now I take great delight in the multiple celebrations that can be scheduled into a weekend with an extra day. And, this year, I got WAY more than just a long weekend. My birthday treats began more than a month before my actual birthday; June 12, to be precise, was when we started celebrating in the Rockstar House.

You see, my husband did something most other husbands would NEVER do. He bought tickets — and took me to see… Glee. Yes, Glee. As in, the Shiny Happy kids from the TV show. And, you know what? Despite his protestations otherwise, I’m pretty sure he enjoyed himself. Because, instead of leaving the room in search of manlier pursuits each week, he sits and watches every PVRd episode with me. He won’t admit it… but I think LX might be a closet Gleek.

But the Pre-Birthday Celebrating wasn’t just limited to one event. Oh no! This year I got a Pre-Birthday Visit with my mom & dad  (an exciting prospect for me, since they live a few provinces away and I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like) and I was regaled with not one, but TWO Pre-Birthday Lunch celebrations with co-workers. Not too shabby.

Mind you, I wouldn’t recommend the restaurant (FIGS – but I wouldn’t bother, unless you have LOADS of time to spare) we chose for the first of the two PB lunches. Not only did they take forever with our order, but they got mine wrong. Credit where credit is due, however: my Eggs Bennie – with Portobello Mushroom instead of boring ol’ ham – was incredibly tasty, once it finally arrived.

Aki Da provided the sushi yums (we ordered in at work) for Part Two of my PB lunch fun. And they even threw in an extra dish at no charge. Unfortunately, the freebie was a bland mushroom roll that none of us really took a shine to. But it’s the thought that counts, right?

I should probably mention, as an aside, that – yes – pretty much all of my birthday celebrations this year did revolve around food. Which plays a large part in why I had to make time for a five-mile run Sunday morning. Totally worth it.

For my birthday proper, LX took me to La Maquette – a gorgeous french restaurant that allowed our entire wedding party to traipse through, last summer,  in order to have photos taken in its adjacent Sculpture Garden.  I’d already been like a fat kid with her nose pressed up against a sweet shop window when it came to this place.  So I think LX knew that, once they’d been nice to me, he really had no choice but to take me there at some point. Lucky for me – it was this weekend!

For anyone in the GTA looking for a great date restaurant — trust me…  you’ll score HUGE brownie points with anyone you take to La Maquette. Not only is this place absolutely gorgeous (all the ivy & overhanging trees manage to drop the temperature on the patio at least 10 degrees – which is a huge deal when the city is continuously issuing Heat Alerts) but they’ve managed to situate everyone such that you don’t feel like your conversation is being overheard by your neighbours at the next table.

Oh, and did I mention the classical guitarist? No streaming iTunes for this joint – no sir! And the food? Magnifique!

After dinner, I decided I had a hankering for a cognac so we decided – rather than spend $55 for two shots at the restaurant (totally guessing at their prices here, incidentally; but I suspect I’m not too far off the mark) – we’d walk around the corner and grab a bottle for the same price and take it home to enjoy on our personal rooftop oasis.

And, as if all of this weren’t enough, I was treated to even more delights the following day. I did haul my arse out of bed early enough to pound out a run, however. So it wasn’t a complete weekend of sloth.

I enjoyed a delightful brunch with LX’s family,  followed by an afternoon of movie watching and then a Girls Night with my BFFs (one of whom toughed out a particularly wretched stomach bug in order to keep the festivities going!)

And, since I did waddle through the aforementioned 5-mile run (turns out it was closer to 5.5, but who’s counting? Oh right – that’d be me), I didn’t feel one iota of guilt when the waitress at our Milestones brunch brought out a complimentary birthday dessert & extra spoons!


A funny thing happened…

on the way to the Sporting Life 10K finish line.

I ran slower than last year (by almost two minutes!) And I had a blast doing so.

Who knew? Certainly not me.

In the beginning, I started running just to see if I could. After having determined that, yes, I could in fact run without going into cardiac arrest it became something entirely different. It became a constant competition, a constant comparison. I continuously looked at what I was doing and discounted it as unworthy when someone else finished faster or I didn’t better my time compared with my last run.

Now, let’s just look at things in perspective shall we? I’m not a 21-year-old former high-school all-star who’s carried the ideal body fat to muscle ratio her entire life. Not even close. So odds are (even if we flip into some crazy red-tinted alternate Fringe reality) I’m not likely to finish with the first 10 (or even 100) folks crossing the finish line. So, then, why bother?

Well, I’ll tell you why. Because I frakkin’ well CAN.

See, this year, during the 12-week training lead up to the Sporting Life 10k I got ill (not get-your-affairs-in-order ill or anything; just your bog standard flu.) And because of that flu, I was knocked on my arse for almost the entire week before the race. But I just couldn’t see bailing on a race I’d paid & registered for.

So, I girded my loins (I’m not entirely certain how, exactly, one girds one’s loins… but it sounds dramatic, no?), dragged my butt out of bed before the sun saw fit to rise and strapped on my trusty Asics Gels. I think the universe was in agreement with my decision because as I was hailing a taxi, I stumbled upon two total strangers willing to split with me cab fare to the start line.

The night before was a first for me, in that I felt no nerves or anxiety about this event. I wasn’t racing around in a tizzy making sure that my running gear was all perfectly laid out before I went to bed (in fairness: it was still in the pile of clean clothes that had yet to make it’s way out of the laundry basket, so I think, subconsciously, I actually knew exactly where everything was; hence the lack of tizzy.) I knew that I’d been sick and still wasn’t feeling topnotch, so I’d decided that just finishing was goal enough. And, for once, it actually was.  I went to bed and fell soundly asleep without the usual tossing, turning & frantic checking that  my alarm clock was properly set.

The morning was no different. The usual ball of nerves wasn’t there. I wasn’t looking to PB with this run. I simply hoped to finish. And it’s incredible how much pressure that resignation took from my shoulders. As a result, I ran with as much strength and determination as I could muster. And I enjoyed each and every step of it.

So, my time was almost 2 minutes slower than it was last year. It was also 6 minutes faster than my last official 10k. Granted the Island Girl Toronto 10k lacks the downhill magic that the Sporting Life 10k has, but – if I may borrow a phrase from The Lonely Island – STILL COUNTS!

Last year, the skies saw fit to spit upon my efforts. This year, they held off. I’m taking it as a sign to continue with my efforts toward improvement. Besides, I still have that half marathon in October… already registered for & paid-in-full.

If you’ve never entered a race but have ever toyed with notion, I highly recommend the Sporting Life 10k. There’s something so incredibly visceral about running with 15,000 other lunatics (really, can you think of a better word for anyone willingly out of bed and active that early on a Sunday?) straight down the middle of Yonge Street. We’re talkin’ Longest Street in the World, here, people. And the traffic is diverted elsewhere for the sole purpose of allowing you to run right along that yellow line.  It’s delightfully awesome, if you ask me. And, did I mention, almost the entire course is downhill?

And you know what else? No matter who you are or what you do… there will ALWAYS be someone who can best you. Even if you did place first in the Boston Marathon this year (if you did, incidentally, I’m totally stoked that you’re reading this; also: Hi-Five, Geoffrey!) You might not take it next year. But the thing of it is… it doesn’t matter. The only person you need to impress is you.

Celebrate the small victories. They’re more than worth it.



A Pound is a Pound is a Pound

(For the record I’m neither a fitness nor a medical expert; but I do know a wee bit about shedding a pound or two*)

I just need to do this twice... in a row...

I have aspirations of running a marathon. There. I’ve said it. It’s out in the open. It’s not going to happen this year. But I think a half-marathon might. I know that it’s within me to accomplish. But I also know that I have a lot of work to do in order to get there.

I’ve run 5 km distances countless times. I’ve even done two 10 km runs (one the weekend before my wedding, no less; yeah, I didn’t think that one through very well.) But I respect the challenge enough to know that dragging my arse across a finish line that’s a full 21 kilometres from the start line is NOT in the same category. At all.

As someone who spent a lifetime being unfit & out of shape, my battle toward fitness has proven to be a more attainable goal by gleaning advice & inspiration from outside sources; Weight Watchers was a fantastic resource that gave me the support & knowledge I needed, at the time, to shed an enormous amount of weight. Now that my aspirations are more toward fitness, however, I’ve looked elsewhere. The world of running, for one, has proven to be outstanding means to an end.

As a result of my focus shifting gears, I now spend a lot (I mean, a lot) of time surfing around various health & fitness websites and personal blogs looking for success stories, workout routines or recipes.

I’ve learned to take in the information that’s helpful and toss aside the garbage. Unfortunately, though, not everyone has a knowledge base that will allow them to filter through what’s valid and what’s not.

And, while there is a tremendous amount of correct & proven information out there from people with varying levels of experience & expertise – it never ceases to amaze me the number of times I see (in print!) “a pound of fat weighs more than a pound of muscle.”

First of all, let’s look at that sentence. Semantics aside, that statement is such a flagrant violation of the laws of physics that it makes my teeth itch. How can one pound of one substance POSSIBLY weigh more than one pound of another substance?

Remember that riddle we used to love to tell when we were kids? “What weighs more – a pound of bricks or a pound of feathers?” Didn’t we all just think we were sooooo clever? Well, this is the same thing. One pound (of anything) weighs exactly the same amount as one pound (of any OTHER thing.)

A pound of fat does NOT weigh more than a pound of muscle. A pound of fat takes up more space than a pound of muscle – yes, this is true. But volume and weight are two separate measurements.

And that’s one of the reasons women are encouraged to add strength training and exercise with weights to their cardio routines. Trust me… you’re not going to end up looking like Ah-nold. It’s not in our genetic makeup. Those female bodybuilders you see on TV? They had to work way harder than their male counterparts to get that bulked-up and ripped.

It’s also one of the reasons you’ll hear fitness experts say things like, “get rid of your scale,” or, “don’t base your success solely on the number your scale gives you.”

If you base your success (or failure) on just the number on your scale, you’re missing the big picture. Because, while you work out and feed your body natural foods within your daily caloric range, that number may change very little… and sometimes, not at all. This is because, while you’re burning away that pesky body fat, you’re building lean muscle mass at the same time.

And, while one pound of muscle still weighs as much as one pound of fat, it’s going to take up a LOT less space in your Calvins.

So do yourself a favour: invest in a tape measure & use it. If you’re trying to affect a change in your body composition you need to look at more than just your scale. Can you climb a flight of stairs now without getting winded? Does jogging around the block seem slightly less daunting than it used to? Is that mark where your bra strap used to dig into your flesh now gone? Then you’re doing something right. Keep it up. The number on the scale will move in its own good time. But, with all these other points of reference, it won’t seem like the end of the world when it doesn’t do it instantly.

And can we please (for the love of jebus!) STOP perpetuating the adage that “a pound of fat weighs more than a pound of muscle”?


*Slow & Steady (or: What a Difference a Decade Makes)