30 Good Things Before 30: #30 – You!

It’s official, folks. I’m now a 30-something!

I celebrated my 30th birthday today by sticking to my marathon training plan. I’m that dedicated (or obsessed… whatever).

It really wasn’t much of a sacrifice though. I could hardly wait to hit the pavement for my regular Tuesday 6 km tempo run thanks to my brand-new Garmin Forerunner 225!

Got the gear!

Got the gear!

My Garmin was a gift from my famjam for my milestone birthday (thank you!!!) and it is amazing!

It’s my first Garmin so it took me a little while (read: several hours) to figure out the features and get it synced up with my computer and phone. Once I finally did, it worked like a dream on my first test run, guiding me through my warm-up, tempo miles and cool-down seamlessly. On top of that, the wrist-based heart rate monitor is unbelievable.30-good-things-before-30

I plan on writing a full review once I get a few more miles on this baby, so stay tuned.

For now, though, let me finish out my little 30-day challenge, with a nod to #30 on my list of 30 Good Things Before 30:


You!

That’s right: you (yes, you!) are #30!

Whether it’s your first visit here or you’ve been with me for the long haul, it’s you out there on your laptops and smartphones, dropping in to read what I have to say that gives this all purpose.

I started this blog in 2010 and failed miserably at posting regularly. Looking back, I think a big part of the problem was that I was utterly self-absorbed. (A self-absorbed blogger? Shocking, I know!)

Since relaunching this year, though, I’ve made an effort to get to know more of you out there in the blogosphere and in Twitter-land and found such an amazing community that I’m so pumped to be part of.

My tweeps! (Find me on Twitter here)

My tweeps! (Find me on Twitter here)

If I have a training question, you have answers. If I’m frustrated, you’re supportive. If I need a killer recipe to use up those sweet potatoes I have on hand, you’ve got me covered.

Let’s be honest: if it wasn’t for your views, likes, and comments, I would have given up on this 30 days of consecutive blogging thing a long time ago! But my drive to stay engaged, to keep sharing and learning more about you, outweighed my desire to binge-watch OITNB or get to bed at a decent hour.

It feels good to belong to this community. Thanks for allowing me to be part of it! 🙂

What’s your favourite thing about blogging?

Any fav blogs you think I should be following? 

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30 Good Things Before 30: #28 – Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

So it just struck me tonight how close I’m getting to the end of my 30 Good Things Before 30 challenge!

It also struck me how amiss I’ve been to not include any books so far!

It’s a great disservice to my roots. I come from a family of voracious readers. For pretty much my entire life, the go-to gift for every one of us on every occasion was a book. (Birthday next month? Get a book. Christmas? Pick up a couple of books. Mother’s Day? Jodi Picoult book!)

Lately though, I’ve been slacking on the reading front. My daily blogging means I’m spending more time online. Tack on my marathon training miles and that means I’m also spending way more nights tumbling into bed exhausted, eyelids too heavy to get through a couple of pages.

If we’re being totally honest, I just haven’t made reading a priority.

I was reminded that I ought to be, however, by a couple of bloggers: specifically, Slacker Runner’s mid-year check-in and 30-good-things-before-30a recommendation of the book The Girl on the Train over here.

So while I work on tracking down a copy of The Girl on the Train, let me use one of my few remaining days of this challenge to correct my oversight and present #28 on my list of 30 Good Things Before 30.


Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

If you’re a runner and you like to read and you haven’t yet read Born to Run, stop what you’re doing immediately and fix that!

Technically, the book is an ethnography, which focuses on the reclusive Tarahumara tribe. Reading it though is like spending a few hours at a pub with a group of rowdy ultramarthoners intent on regaling you with their adventures.

Born to Run

Born to Run

The book came out in 2009 and was kind of a game-changer for the running world. Specifically, it’s credited with playing a significant role in launching the minimalist shoe movement. Author Christopher McDougall focuses on the Tarahumara’s ability to run extreme distances in flimsy sandals without any of the injuries that plague the rest of us typical runners.

I know it’s falling out of fashion but I’m a supporter of the minimalist shoe movement. It’s not for everyone, but it works for me so I find the theory McDougall talks about really interesting.

But even if you’re not all that interested in the technical aspects and think miminalist shoes are a crock, Born to Run is still worth reading just for the cast of characters it brings together.

For me, it was totally eye-opening. I always thought of ultramarthoners as disciplined, serious athletes. Some of them are. Some of them are like Jenn Shelton — a little wild, a little crazy, a little bit apt to drink like a teamster while preparing for a 50-mile race in Mexico’s Copper Canyons and end up lost, hungover, and hydrating from a mud puddle.

True story. You can read about it in Born to Run.

What are you reading? Anything good? Recommendations welcome in the comments!

How do you feel about minimalist shoes?

30 Good Things Before 30: #27 – The Naysayers

It’s the freakin’ weekend! Happy 4th to my American friends. Hope you’re all having a wonderful time.

Me? I’m here, north of the border, relaxing like it was my national holiday. Pretty much the only productive thing I got up to today was running a nice steady 3.5 miles.

Happy to say, I felt pretty well-rested after Thursday’s 10 km tempo run. And thank goodness for that because it was kind of a doozy.

30-good-things-before-30My training plan for running a 4-hour marathon says my pace for tempo runs should be 9:14/mile. Even when I include my warm-up and cool-down in Thursday’s run, I slaughtered that pace.

And that’s primarily because of #27 on my list of 30 Good Things Before 30:


The Naysayers

When it comes to moral support in my running, I’m a darn lucky lady.

I have an amazing husband who tells me regularly how proud he is of my commitment to running — especially on those days when I’d rather do anything but. I have a mom, dad and brother who get up at ungodly hours on Sunday mornings to come watch me race. And I have extended family who always ask about my running and shower me with kind words of admiration.

I’m lucky. I know.

I guess that’s why it’s particularly jarring for me when I encounter someone of the opposite persuasion: a naysayer.

That’s what happened to me on Thursday. Our regular marathon clinic instructor was out-of-town so we had someone else fill in. We set out on our warm-up and he started asking about our goals.

I mentioned I was aiming for a sub-4:00 marathon this year.

“What did you run your last one in?” he asked.

“4:45-ish.”

“What about your last half?”

“2:07.”

“Yeah, realistically, you’re probably looking at 4:30.”

Say what?!?

I mean I get where he’s coming from. I’m familiar with the general notion that your marathon time will be your half-marathon time doubled, plus 10 minutes. I get that maybe it’s not a good idea to set someone up for failure if they’ve set an unrealistic goal.

But what he didn’t get about me is that I’ve been running my butt off. I’ve been working hard on my speed since that last half-marathon. And since my marathon training began, I’ve been consistently meeting and exceeding the prescribed training run paces for a 4-hour marathon.

And he’s gonna waltz into my clinic and tell me my goal isn’t realistic? C’mon!

I gotta thank him though, because after hearing his thoughts I ran the heck out of our tempo miles. I stayed at the front of the pack, pushed hard, told my tired legs to buck up, and ran faster than I knew I could.

Turns out a naysayer can be a good thing after all! For me, it was just the fire I needed lit under my bum to dig deep and find out what I’m really capable of. My dad suggested we invite him to come to my marathon in Toronto! 😉

How do you deal with the naysayers?

What motivates you more: positive supporters or pessimistic naysayers?

30 Good Things Before 30: #26 – Trying to Walk After NYC Marathon video

Today is a rest day. A glorious, glorious rest day.

And boy, do I need it!

30-good-things-before-30I’m into Week 3 of marathon training and last night’s workout was a 10k tempo run. It was a hot day, I made the mistake of not bringing along water, but I killed it anyway. Pretty proud.

But now very tired. And hungry.

For those reasons, I’m very much into just relaxing for today. Which is why #26 on my list of 30 Good Things Before 30 is perfect.


Trying to Walk After NYC Marathon video

I was scrolling through my FB timeline, trying to find some photos my husband had posted of our kitchen renovation when I came across this gem somewhere in 2014.

It’s a video, created by The New York Times, that shows marathoners on their way home after the 2014 New York City Marathon.

It had me crying with laughter after watching it. Twice.

Just makes me shake my head at what we runners put ourselves through, while simultaneously feeling a sense of pride to be part of that twisted bunch.

When I shared this on FB in 2014, I wrote: “I get it.”

Still do. 🙂

Do you look like this after a marathon?

What is your post-race routine? Something you love to drink, eat? Comfy shoes you have to immediately put on?

Are there any funny running-related videos you think are must-sees for runners? Links please!

30 Good Things Before 30: #24 – Foam Rollers

Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canucks out there!

I wanted to mark the holiday with some Olympic-level sleeping in to make up for my very late night last night. Sadly, it was not to be.

I was awoken somewhere around 7 a.m. by the vibration of construction equipment outside. Unfortunately for me and for the workers who are putting in a sidewalk on our street, there are no holidays when it comes to summer roadwork.

I’d like to say I bounded out of bed, got my run out of the way early and then had the entire day to do with as I pleased, but that’s just not true.

It was only after much procrastinating, humming, hawing, and some flailing about in my workout clothes like a four-year-old having a tantrum, that I finally got around to completing my steady 5-mile run.

It’s Week 3 of my marathon training and I feel like fellow blogger hellyontherun had it totally correct this week when she wrote:

I feel like Weeks 3+ are when the real deal starts. Like, you’re excited and gung ho about training at the start but once you’re settled into a plan and the weeks go by, that’s when the discipline really starts happening.

30-good-things-before-30That’s exactly where I am.

It’s become clear that there are a few things I will need in order to survive marathon training unscathed: many, many Clif Shot Bloks, copious amounts of strawberry-banana smoothies, and #24 on my list of 30 Good Things Before 30.


Foam Rollers

So the funny thing about my foam roller is that I actually bought it as a Christmas gift for my husband. He saw one while we were out shopping and said it was something he’d like to have as he’d used it in physio.

I took a mental note and went back a couple days later to pick it up.

Fast forward to my marathon training. My legs are starting to feel really tight and I’m trying to figure out how to work them out. Then I see this guy in the corner of my home gym:

Just a simple foam roller. Something similar here.

Just a simple foam roller. You can get a similar one here.

I searched YouTube for “foam rolling for runners,” clicked on the first video and that was it. Life changed forever.

Pretty much every runner I’ve talked to feels the same.

According to the experts at Runner’s World, the benefits of the foam roller are two-fold:

  1. It breaks up knots that can limit range of motion.
  2. It also improves circulation, which can help get you warmed up for a workout and speed up recovery afterward.

I generally just use mine to work out tight muscles. And it hurts so good.

Totally worth it though. A good roller session means my legs will not only feel a million times better but also way more prepared for the next run.

Anybody else in love with their foam roller?

What muscles do you target with your foam roller?

Ever give a Christmas gift to someone that you then ended up using yourself?

30 Good Things Before 30: #22 – Donation matching for the Canadian Cancer Society

As you probably know, I’m running the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October.

As you may also know, I’ve decided to run that marathon to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society.

30-good-things-before-30The idea is that I can balance out the self-involvement that comes along with marathon training by doing it for a good cause — one that’s affected my family and the families of many I hold dear.

Raising money for the Canadian Cancer Society is a good thing. And from now until Canada Day, it’s twice as good thanks to #22 on my list of 30 Good Things Before 30:


Donation matching for the Canadian Cancer Society

Since I’ve started my fundraising, I get periodic emails updating me on my progress and giving me some tips to help in my efforts. This most recent email, however, held some extra good news!

With almost half of all Canadians developing cancer in their lifetime, the sad reality is that just about everyone has been affected by cancer in some way.

However, uniting in the face of adversity is a big part of who we are as Canadians – we stand up for each other! So in true Canadian spirit, a group of passionate and committed donors has come together to match all donations made before Canada Day.

That means any donations from now until July 1 will have double the impact! That’s twice as much money for research. Twice as much money to provide community-based support for people living with cancer and their families. The potential to save twice as many lives.

With just under four months to go, I am already at 73% of my fundraising goal thanks to the amazing generosity of my family and friends. With my 30th birthday coming up next week, the best gift I could ask for is to get to 100%.

If you’d like to make this happen and have been thinking about sponsoring me, now’s the time! Take advantage of this awesome donation matching opportunity and donate online here.

30 Good Things Before 30: #21 – Clif Shot Bloks

It’s Sunday. And I’m in marathon training mode.

You know what that means, don’t you?

It’s LSD day. (You know you’re a runner if you automatically translated that to long slow distance run and didn’t assume I was on some kind of psychedelic voyage.)

I’m in Week 2 of training and I wandered around all day yesterday thinking I had to run 10 km today. When I finally checked my plan this afternoon, however, I realized I was actually supposed to get an 8-miler on the books.

This was disappointing news.

Not that an 8-miler is that much longer or more difficult than a 10k. It’s just that I was up early yesterday and on the road for a family get-together and that I ran 4 very hilly miles on unforgiving concrete last evening and that I drank way too many coffees and not nearly enough water this morning and that I could barely keep my eyes open on the drive back home today.

But, so far, I’m at 100% adherence to my training plan and I didn’t want to break that streak so I suited up, laced up, and got ready to hit the treadmill (trying to do a couple of my weekly runs indoors to give my joints a break as they get used to this increased mileage).

30-good-things-before-30It was around this time, several hours post-brunch, that I realized I was kinda hungry. But having barely mustered the energy to tackle the run, I couldn’t stop to make something to eat.

Along came #21 on my list of 30 Good Things Before 30 to the rescue:


Clif Shot Bloks

I was forced to begin toying with eating during runs when I embarked on my marathon training last winter. I’d received a couple of energy gels in swag bags at previous races so I started experimenting with them.

This did not go well.

I’m a texture girl. Consistency is important. No matter what flavour gel I tried, each one threatened to come back up every time I gulped it down. I just couldn’t get past the slimy goo sliding down my throat.

I don’t know why. It’s a mental block. But I knew I couldn’t be the only runner to feel that way.

For my first marathon, I was going at it alone. Google was my coach. So I turned to Coach Google for alternatives.

There I discovered there was a whole world of candy-like alternatives that could fuel my miles. I picked up a variety of options and quickly became hooked on these:

My two favourite flavours of Clif Shot Bloks

My two favourite flavours of Clif Shot Bloks: Citrus and Strawberry

Clif Shot Bloks are like gummy bears for endurance athletes. Each package contains six 33-calorie cubes that have a great chewy-but-not-too-chewy consistency with a sweet-but-not-too-sweet flavour. They’re my go-to on all my long training runs and on race day.

My mind also occasionally turns to my stash of Clif Shot Bloks longingly when I’m craving a sweet treat. They’re that good!

A Mountain Berry Clif Shot Blok

A Mountain Berry Clif Shot Blok

Today, I started popping a couple of Bloks two miles into my long run when my legs were already feeling like dead-weight. In minutes, they felt revived.

That’s why I love these things.

If gels gross you out but you need some good long distance fuel, check out Clif Shot Bloks. Also, I should mention that I have not received any kind of compensation from Clif Bar for this post. I just live off these things during marathon training–and occasionally when I just want a treat…

Do energy gels gross you out?

What are your favourite fuelling products for long runs?

What’s your tried-and-true strategy for consuming calories on long runs?

30 Good Things Before 30: #17 – Burnt Broccoli

30-good-things-before-30You know how to tell if you’ve found a really good thing? If it stands the test of time and still has a place in your life years down the road.

That’s what I’ll be talking about tonight with #17 on my list of 30 Good Things Before 30:


Burnt Broccoli

I was turned onto this little beauty of a cooking method by a friend back on my west coast days. It was about five and a half years ago.

I know this because I was so totally in love with this method that I wrote a blog about it.

Five and a half years later and I’m still very much in love.

The Method:

  1. Cut up a bunch of broccoli.

    Tiny green trees

    Tiny green trees

  2. Throw 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a covered pot and heat on high just until it starts to smoke.
  3. Quickly — very quickly — throw all the broccoli in, cover, and leave for 2 minutes.
  4. Add 1-2 tablespoons of butter and salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pot and give it a shake. Put back on burner for another 2 minutes.

    Don't be afraid if it gets real smoky in there. That's what you want. It's burning in all the deliciousness.

    Don’t be afraid if it gets real smoky in there. That’s what you want. It’s burning in all the deliciousness. (Also don’t mind my stovetop: I’m a messy cook. I’ll clean it up when I’m done…)

  5. If broccoli aren’t at desired tenderness, put on the cover, give another shake and put back on the burner for 2 more minutes.

That’s it.

Easy.

Scorched little green trees

Scorched little green trees

And delicious.

I had these tonight alongside a Mexican ground “beef” wrap. It was inspired by runger and, more specifically, by running past Mexicali Rosa’s in the last few hundred metres of my 13 km run.

Came home. Made this.

runger

The runger is real

Delicious.

By the way, you can also do burnt broccoli in the oven. It’s every bit as easy but requires more forethought since it takes them quite a bit longer to burn just right. Not the kind of thing you’ll come home and do when the runger is this real. A good recipe for that method is over here.

30 Good Things Before 30: #16 – Run Fatboy Run

It’s another rainy day here in Freddy Beach. And it feels like it.

In lieu of sleeping last night, Kenzy spent eight hours alternating between kicking me and kicking my husband. All three of us are exhausted, which means this is the perfect time to ignore the sheets of rain outside, curl up on the couch, and watch a movie.

We have a pretty staggering collection of DVDs but only a few we’re willing to watch over and over again. For my husband, these include The Edge, Frost vs. Nixon, and Fracture. For me, there’s The Devil Wears Prada, Friends with Money, and A Chorus Line.30-good-things-before-30

Not a lot of overlap, as you can see.

But there is one more we can usually both agree on, and that’s #16 on my list of 30 Good Things Before 30:


Run Fatboy Run

Runners are often creatures of habit when it come to pre-race preparations.

Maybe there’s a specific thing they like to eat the day before (pasta salad) or the morning of (banana and peanut butter in a wholewheat wrap). Maybe there’s a lucky sports bra or pair of shorts they like to wear (yes and yes). Maybe a familiar set of warm-up stretches or exercises they go through at the starting line (standing really, really still, looking terrified)

For me, it’s all of the above. I also like to settle down the evening before a race and watch Run Fatboy Run.

The ritual began with my first marathon last spring.

The day before the race, I was a bundle of nerves capable of no other thoughts than marathon-related ones. So on the evening before my marathon, when the pasta salad was eaten and there was nothing left to do but wait for sleep to come, my husband suggested we watch a movie and this was my first choice.

image

Looking for pre-race me? Oh, I’ll be here. On my couch. Watching this movie.

Run Fatboy Run is a 2007 British-American comedy, directed by David Schwimmer (Ross, you guys!) that stars (and is co-written by) Simon Pegg.

Pegg plays Dennis, a down-on-his-luck security guard who left his fiancee Libby at the altar five years ago and has regretted it ever since. When Libby begins dating a successful, marathon-running businessman, out-of-shape Dennis decides it’s time to prove he can commit by pledging to run a marathon. Hilarity ensues.

Samples of said hilarity in the trailer below:

The movie get mixed reviews, but I think any runner could find a lot to love in it. It’s got lots of running-related humour around chafing and blisters that always swaps out my pre-race jitters with a case of the giggles. There’s also an amazing scene that offers a very literal interpretation of what it feels like to hit that dreaded wall.

I give it four well-worn running shoes out of five. And a big ol’ press of the play button as I wrap up this blog!

Any running-themed movies you love?

Any pre-race rituals you can’t run without?

30 Good Things Before 30: #14 – Group Runs

It’s not quite 11 a.m. on a Sunday morning as I’m starting to write this. There’s not yet a stir from my husband or my furbaby. (My husband is making the most of the one day of the week he can sleep in; Kenzy is content having some company for her regular sleeping in routine.)

And me? Well, I’m just sitting back with a strawberry-banana smoothie, a cup of coffee, and a bottle of water (I think it’s best to have at least three beverages on the go at all times). I’m freshly showered, snug inside my office, watching tree branches wave under the rain.

Not a bad way to spend a Sunday morning.

Even better? My 10k long run is already done.

For me, that’s unheard of. When I have a long run on my training schedule, I always preface it with several hours of moping around the house, debating if I’ve had enough to eat or drink, wondering what I should wear, what I should listen to, and where I should go. The general rule of thumb is that I do this for approximately30-good-things-before-30 three times as long as it will take me to complete the actual run. Which means I’m always late getting out.

So what’s up with me today? No, I’m not suddenly some super-motivated version of myself. I can chalk it all up to #14 on my list of 30 Good Things Before 30:


Group Runs

Up until this week, I’ve been a lone wolf when it came to running. I’d run with a friend on the rare occasion, but 99.9% of the time, it was just me out there. Alone. With my thoughts. (And often zombies.)

I’d heard about running groups, knew that the Running Room offered free group runs a couple times a week, even met their little running posses on occasion when I was just a one-woman wolf-pack taking on the trails.

And while I always wondered what that would be like, thought it looked like fun, and figured it would be a great way to stay motivated, I held back because:

  1. What if no one talks to me?
  2. What if while they’re all ignoring me, they’re also all running way faster than me?

I ran my first group run on Thursday, the first night of my 18-week marathon training clinic. It. Was. Awesome!

First-ever group run!

First-ever group run!

Today, was my second group run, and guess what? Every. Bit. As. Awesome!

Second-ever group run

Second-ever group run

It’s funny how our minds can work in the face of uncertainty, coming up with worst case scenarios that, when examined under a logical lens, just don’t hold up. For example:

  1. “What if no one talks to me?” Really? Have you ever known runners as a group to be anything other than incredibly upbeat, supportive and friendly? Case in point, this smiling group from my local store’s Learn to Run spring clinic:
  2. “What if they’re all faster than me?” Within five minutes of us arriving for our first run on Thursday night, one of the ladies in the group asked “Are you guys fast?” To which we all simultaneously smiled and shook our heads. Everyone thinks they’re slow, regardless of their PRs! And even if you are the slowest one, so what? This article from Women’s Running sums it up well:

“Chances are there is always going to be someone faster than you. Fast is relative. I get it. You run 12 or 15 minutes per mile and are embarrassed to call yourself a runner because a lot of people are faster. Here’s a secret: ‘fast’ runners feel the same way.”

In my group runs, there were definitely a variety of speeds but no one ran alone. We’d find a buddy, match their pace, carry on a conversation and let the miles speed by. I’ve never ran a 10k that seemed so short!

My only regret about running with a group? That I didn’t start sooner.

So all you lone-wolf runners out there? Take it from me and give a group run a try. I think you’ll be glad you did.

The Fredericton Running Room has free group runs, open to anyone, on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 8:30 a.m. See you then!