Do I have the jitters? + Weekend

Guys, I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I’m only a few days away from the Calgary half marathon and  I’ve lost all my running mojo. I don’t even feel excited for the race and honestly, I’m kind of dreading it.  Or maybe I have the jitters. My training was going well – effortless, really. I was energized, driven, motivated and then I took a few days off to let my body rest (I was beginning to feel achey and tired). Then I got sick with bronchitis and nearly two weeks later, I’m still not feeling 100%. I’m nervous that I haven’t ‘done enough’ in preparation for my race.  With this training cycle, I accounted for ‘check out of life emergencies’  so I’m hoping I’ll start feeling better as the week progresses.

I guess you can say my confidence is wavering – part of me is worried I’m not ready, while another part thinks it will be a walk in the park in comparison to my other hobbies. I keep reminding myself that it’s “just” a two hour run – I  can do anything for two hours.  I spent 3 hours climbing a mountain after work last week and 5 hours hiking up and down a mountain on the weekend, so I can do this.

This morning, I realized the race STARTS at 6:30am on Sunday morning. Good God Calgary, why?

Last week:

training

Monday – full body strength + walk

Tuesday – Hiked up a mountain (with Lauren!)

Wednesday – Upper body strength

Thursday –  Lower body strength

Friday – 20 minutes easy running on the track

Saturday – Hiked up a mountain

Sunday – Off/Active recovery – two hour canyon walk

Let’s recap the weekend! 

adventures

Friday

After work, I went grocery shopping for burger ingredients, then stopped by the track to get a sense for where I’m at physically and mentally. My lungs and sinuses are still a bit congested but it was nice to get my legs moving again. Plus – summer!! Words cannot express how happy I am to be wearing shorts, tank tops and sandals.

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When I got home, I went for a walk by the river with my BF, made jalapeño cheeseburgers and went to bed early. Our Friday nights together have become so low-key. We used to get dressed up, go  on a date to a nice restaurant and stay up late drinking wine. Now, we dress down in sweat pants, go on a date to an ice cream shop and can’t wait to go to bed at a reasonable hour so we can read or watch tv together. I prefer the latter- it feels much more natural!  As much as I love exploring and adventuring, I’m definitely a homebody.

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Saturday

I was wide awake by 7:30am, anxious to start our adventure for the day: hiking Mount Baldy.

There are a few access points to the summit, but I kept finding conflicting and confusing trail info online. Most of the trails in Kananaskis aren’t marked with clearly defined  maps or markers which is equally annoying and appreciated (because it keeps the crowds at bay).

We discovered two trailheads near a creek on highway 40 and after chatting with another hiker about the routes, decided to take the  southern trail where we’d conquer two summits, or an entire loop of the mountain.

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While I was scrambling to the summit, I kept thinking, “I should really be running right now. But this is so much funner. And harder.”

The views, hiking and climbing in Kananaskis are world-class, but only the locals or true mountain enthusiasts know this. People have a tendency to assume ‘the best of the best’ is in the national parks (like Banff and Jasper) but it’s not true. My friend likes to say, “Kananaskis is all about true exploration. It’s wilder out here. I’ve been here for 20 years and I still don’t feel like I’ve scratched the surface on all of the things to do here.” Word.

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Summit cairn

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Traversing between the two summits

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After a short traverse, we were ready for the second summit (behind me in this photo) but we couldn’t determine how to safely maneuver the route. There’s a lot of exposure with steep drop offs – one false move could send you falling to your demise. We spotted hikers at the top trying to figure out how to descend and they didn’t seem to be able to figure it out either! None of us felt experienced enough to risk it, so we turned back and took a scree slope back to the trail we started on.

Gross story time: my biggest fear came to fruition after the first summit. I was trailing behind the boy and his friend when I noticed what appeared to be a gash or blood blister on the back of the boy’s leg. “Oh my god! There’s a tick IN you! I’m scared!” We managed to create a pair of makeshift ‘tweezers’ out of a metal tensor bandage clip and extracted the tick. A few moments later, I looked down to find one trying to burrow into my leg. Ew!!!!  I’m seriously freaked out by ticks and their potential to carry pathogens that can cause Lyme disease  or Rocky Mountain spotted fever in humans.

I called Alberta Health Services afterwards to find out if we needed to see a Doctor. Long story short – we have to keep an eye out for a bullseye rash, flu-like symptoms and are to submit the ticks for testing in Canmore.  My mind was put to rest on Monday when I talked to an AHS health inspector who said there is just one species of tick that is a Lyme disease carrier. And even if we were bitten by by an infected bug, we’re more likely to contract the lesser of two evils: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever vs. Lyme Disease. I’m so grossed out right now.

Lessons learned:
-Deep Woods DEET bug spray doesn’t repel ticks
-Long pants are a must
-Pack tweezers

I think the only way I’ll ever feel safe in the wilderness again is if I’m outfitted in this type of gear:

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HAHA

There’s nothing as gratifying as a post-hike meal, cold beer, hot shower and a deep sleep afterwards.  Hiking makes you so deeply appreciative of the little things in life! It’s made me a better, more grateful person, that’s for sure.

Our first meal back on solid ground was a $24 all-you-can-eat prime rib and seafood buffet at Stoney Nakoda resort & casino. We were all pleasantly surprised by how good the food was – it even included beer and wine!

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I filled my plates with lobster tails, calamari, mussels, seaweed salad and veggies. Our table also split a dessert plate filled with bite sized tarts, cake, ice cream and bread pudding. Yum!

(At 10pm,  we made an emergency trip to the story for a fudgesicle and ice cream sandwich because I needed it.)

Sunday

It was an active rest and recovery day.  The boy and I spent a couple hours wandering through Jura Creek & Canyon, followed by reading and relaxing on my patio.

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… and watching True Detective before falling into another death sleep. Have you watched this HBO series? If you like mystery, murder and Matthew McConaughey, it’s for you.

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Calgary marathon running friends: do you feel ready for this weekend’s race? What do you do when you lose your running mojo?

Have you ever been bitten by a tick?

What tv shows are you currently into? 

Picking up where we left off

… and just like that, the long weekend is over.

Little sigh.

I absolutely enjoy my job and the whole Monday-Friday routine, but I much prefer not working. Don’t we all!

My good friend Lauren just moved back to Canmore for the summer so after work tonight, we decided to summit Ha Ling before bed. As we do. It’s a great hike for when you’re short on time and takes about 2.5-3 hrs. This ‘baby mountain’ is just under 7000 ft,  with an elevation gain of around 2300 ft. It’s short but super steep! My favourite part of this hike is when I fall in THE SAME PLACE every single time on the descent. (The slippery dirt path next to a lone pine tree just steps away from the tree line.) Insert the sarcastic emoji.

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It was great catching up with Lauren. Before I picked her up, I was thinking about how it doesn’t seem like she left. As soon as she got into the car she said, “It’s like nothing has changed! We’re just picking up where we left off.”

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Let’s catch up on last week, shall we?

adventures

My long weekend was kind of a bust but I made the most of it.  Late last week, I came down with a bad chest cold. I didn’t have enough energy or drive to do anything except binge watch Gossip Girl with one eye open. When I got home from work on Thursday, I climbed into bed at 4:30pm and didn’t move until Friday morning.  The boy arrived later in the morning bearing the most amazing gift a girl could ask for.

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Jelly Modern Doughnuts!  My knight in shining armor. Truth is, I was kind of annoyed with him earlier in the day for running late (my biggest pet peeve in the world!) and he brought apology donuts instead of flowers. Does he know me, or what?

Cute story: back in the early-dating/slightly awkward phase of our relationship, he picked me up from work one afternoon with a dozen of these guys. We then proceeded to have a rainy day donut picnic in my living room. It was also the day I decided that I was quite fond of him and his company. :)

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Seriously obsessed with this carrot cake donut. It’s the best flavor, by far. (And I don’t even like cake donuts!) 

On Friday afternoon, we road tripped to Invermere, BC. I adore road trips through the mountains!

The highlights:

exploring Marble Canyon

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kayaking on Windermere lake in Invermere (I want a kayak so bad!)

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and traversing hoodoos

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It was a great little 24 hour getaway to beautiful BC. I’ll be making my way over to Kelowna the first week of July to celebrate my birthday!

I spent the majority of Sunday in bed and woke up on Monday morning craving sunshine and fresh air. The boy had some city-friends in the area who were in the mood for an ‘easy adventure’ so we took them on a ‘tourist hike’ to Grassi Lakes.

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Visitors frequent this Canmore-based “hike” and rock climbing hot spot for a few reasons: it’s easily accessible and appealing to all ages and fitness levels. And it’s pretty.   I keep saying “hike” because it’s more like a 20 minute slight incline walk to a pair of brilliant emerald ponds.  If you can push a stroller on the path, it’s not a hike. Yes? No?   One time I saw a photo on Instagram of someone enjoying an 8000 calorie re-fuel snack after a ‘grueling hike’ to Grassi Lakes and I was all,

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… or well-meaning souls who are fully decked out in mountaineering gear. All joking aside, Grassi Lakes IS gorgeous and I take all of my first-time visitors there as their introductory to Canmore.

weekly workouts

I didn’t run at all last week – I wanted to wait until after I got a sports massage and then I got sick!  Ah well, it happens.

Monday: Full body strength circuit

Tuesday: Upper body strength + 45 mins on the elliptical

Wednesday: Lower body strength followed by an awesomely painful sports (glute) massage

Thursday: Off

Friday: Off

Saturday: Off

Sunday: Full body strength + 60 minute walk

I think I just need another day or two for my lungs and sinuses to clear and I should be back to running. Only 10 days until the Calgary Marathon! GULP.

 

eats

Nothing exciting, other than those donuts. I basically ate cough drops, cough syrup, hot toddy’s, chewable Vitamin C for several days.

Tell me about your long weekend, Canadian friends! Did you go camping?

What are your pet peeves? Habitual tardiness, the sound of people dragging their teeth on forks while taking a bite of food (shudder).

The upside to living alone

I was going to save this post for Amanda’s Thinking Out Loud because it’s super random and makes no sense, but why wait?!

I’m trying to figure out how to successfully turn my adventure-mobile (her name is Penelope) into a potential bed/tent on wheels this weekend.

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A group of us wanted to rent a condo or cabin in Invermere but we made the mistake of waiting too long to book accommodations. The weather in the Alberta Rockies seems  iffy (ie. rainy and chilly) this weekend BUT the BC Rockies are calling for warmth and sunshine.  So that’s where I need to be, if only for a night. Invermere is a 1.5 hr drive from my place, so my plan is to pack a change of clothes, snacks, blankets and pillows and possibly “camp” in my SUV  with the boy on Friday night in BC.  The main reason why I want to stay overnight?

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An early morning run along on the beach in Invermere + coffee at the Kicking Horse Coffee roaster and cafe. I can’t wait to swim in these beautiful BC lakes throughout the summer. You can’t do that in the Alberta Rockies – it’s too cold!

Mom/family: I’d REALLY love some camping supplies for my birthday this year! Wink wink

I’m going to get a little rant-y for a second.

I can’t help but roll my eyes when I hear chocolate milk recommended as a sports recovery drink. I thought we were past this, along with the low-fat diet trends of long ago! Sometimes I think we just want to hear “good things” about our “bad habits”. I mean, it’s fine to indulge ourselves (hi, I ate 3 ice cream cones last weekend), but lets just call it what it is. Chocolate milk. Not a sports recovery drink.

I love this piece via Canadian Running on how the dairy industry created the campaign and that most of us aren’t burning enough fuel during our workouts to even warrant a ‘recovery drink’.

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Hey, what about this foreign concept: just drinking water and eating a real protein-rich snack or meal afterwards. Remember when we didn’t have the luxury of over-analyzing what to eat? First world problems, or what?! And now I want chocolate milk. Well played, dairy industry, well played.

Wanna see the current first world problem in my fridge?  Several pounds of citrus.

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Sometimes I forget that it’s just little old me and buy enough fruit and veg to feed all of the land.  Anyone wanna come over for an orange or some lemon water?   I like the flavour of oranges but can’t stand eating them – the stringy fiber and pulp makes me gag, not to mention having to peel them like some kind of animal.  I bought a 5lb bag two weeks ago to make green juice and I still haven’t gotten around to it.

This week, I treated myself to a bouquet of fresh flowers to brighten my bedroom. Don’t you love having flowers in the house?  It’s what I miss most about having a garden and being able to create my own bouquets for free. I’ve been contemplating planter gardens for my patio, but I have a ground unit and there’s a good chance the wildlife will eat everything. :(

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I ate a combo of greek yogurt, berries and Nature’s Path Mesa Sunrise combo at 8:30pm on Monday night and called it dinner.

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The upside to living alone: you get to eat whatever you want. The downside to living alone is that sometimes I miss cooking a decent meal. I don’t get much pleasure out of cooking for myself.  I probably turn my oven on once a month and it’s usually for something incredibly simple – like roasting sweet potatoes or baking a store-bought pizza.

The upside to living alone: you get to buy whatever you want at the grocery store!

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Spinach, cucumbers, cauliflower, avocados, tomatoes, blueberries, pink lady apples, greek and coconut milk yogurt, cacao nibs, kombucha & Kevita (on sale!! It was the best day ever!) Natures Path cinnamon apple Love Crunch granola, Love Grown Foods honey Power O’s.

What did you buy during your last grocery shopping trip?

What are your May Long/upcoming Memorial Day plans?

What diet/nutrition advice do you wish would go away forever?

Beach or mountains?

Weekend in Review: I can’t stop eating ice cream!

I took it easy on my training last week, favoring strength workouts and cardio machines instead of running. Ever since last weekend’s long trail run (or maybe from sitting at a desk all day) there’s been an evil knot in my right glute holding on for dear life.  I can’t seem to get that little $&!*$@ to release it’s death grip. It feels like it’s ‘pulling’ my hip flexors and groin super tight when I’m walking around.  WebMD says I am dying. So there’s that.    As an athlete, do you ever find yourself feeling paranoid about random aches and pains? With less than two weeks until the Calgary Marathon, better to be safe, than sorry, right?

training

Monday: Off

Tuesday:  5 miles @ 8:02 avg

Wednesday: Upper body strength + 30 mins elliptical

Thursday: Lower body strength

Friday: Off

Saturday:  P90x ab workout + walked around all afternoon

Sunday: Bodypump (30 min compressed class – we did  squat, chest & back tracks) + 20 mins on the Stairmaster + pushups &  dips on the boy’s front step (haha)

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eats

With longer daylight hours and warm weather upon us, I find myself craving ice cream all day, everyday.

Friday’s treat was a mint Oreo Blizzard – half of which ended up on the boy’s face and in my hair. You see, during one of our recent ice cream dates, he pressed my face into a bowl of mint chip ice cream. So, I gladly returned the gesture by smearing spoonfuls of Blizzard on his face and running away until he caught up with me, grabbed the cup and dumped it on my head. Yeah, we’re a delight.

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Saturday’s treat: toasted coconut waffle cone from Village Ice Cream <— I am soooo in LOVE with this locally made ice cream!

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Sunday: A chocolate and vanilla twist cone at the zoo

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There was lots of healthy stuff in the mix too!  Sunday’s  breakfast featured fruit salad, a duck egg and  turkey “bacon”.
Please don’t food police me on that one – I’m well aware (and agree) that turkey isn’t bacon. Hahaha.

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Kale salad with rotisserie chicken, pickled peppers, pepitas and maple dijon vinaigrette from The Boxwood Cafe (one of my favorite farm to table restaurants in Calgary.)

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A lazy Saturday night on the couch called for a snack spread: watermelon, pineapple, kombucha, veggies & assorted dip, dolmas, turkey, olives, pickled beets, crackers. My favorite type of meal!

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Sunday’s dinner was grilled  ‘Middle Eastern’ spiced goose sausage that we picked up from the farmers market, with roasted heirloom potatoes and salad.

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Instead of bagging mountain peaks and exploring wilderness trails, the boy and I opted for a low-key weekend in the city.  We strolled around the farmers market, watched tv, visited the zoo and started working on our May Long weekend travel plans.  We’re thinking of spending a few days exploring the Kootenays in BC. Can’t wait!

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Back to the grind! I hope you have a lovely week, friends.

What are you doing for May Long weekend?

Name three highlights from your weekend:

What is your favorite summertime treat? Aside from ice cream, margaritas!

My heart is broken.

Why hello!

Just a reminder there is still time to enter the {Canadian} Reebok Spartan Race entry giveaway HERE.

How’s your week going? I’m so happy the weekend is almost here. The boy and I are going to see Above & Beyond on Friday night. Woo!!! Are we going to a rave? Is it still called a rave? Help me, I’m old.

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Their new album is so great. I’ve been listening to “We’re All We Need” on repeat.

Moving on to my favorite topic…

running

Start a  training program > get injured > go to physio > start feeling better > resume training > injury flares again

Sound familiar?

Something that really stood out and clicked for me while studying Chi Running was this concept: upon injury, why do we focus on strengthening and building muscle in our legs and glutes INSTEAD OF correcting our running form?  You see, it’s usually poor running form and posture that creates muscle imbalances and ultimately leads to strains and fractures.

It’s so simple yet incredibly profound.  Major *A-HA MOMENT*

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Another Chi Running mental “fun game” I love applying: pretending as though I have no legs. Instead, I rely on my core to do  most of the work. Limbs are relaxed, abdominal muscles are engaged and “pulling” my legs up and driving my pelvis (powerhouse) forward.  I honestly feel like I can run forever when I’m not making my legs and feet do all the work.

It offers great nutrition advice, too.  Us athletes tend to get borderline obsessive and panicked over what to eat, drink, and supplement with. And then we have to figure out WHEN to consume it! We’re notorious for over-thinking, over-planning and over-complicating… well, basic human instinct?   It’s as though we’re all trying to bio-hack ourselves and figure out some sort of magical math equation of caloric expenditure vs. intake…  and just when we think we have it figured out,  we still end up throwing up or nearly shitting in our lululemon shorts.  Chi Running nails it with, “Have you ever heard of anyone starving to death on a run?” 

I think the food/sports industry has done a great job of using fear  to market their products: you NEED gels/GUs or you WILL crash and burn. You NEED colorful sports drinks because that’s what athletes drink. And if you want to be like them… do it or die. Or something like that!  Elites and pros know how important real, wholesome food is. They’re paid big dollars to pose with food products and maybe take a sip or bite, but it’s not part of their diet.

The general underlying message of the book is to simply… RELAX. Ain’t that the truth.

Let’s talk strength training!

I did this ‘Sculpted Summer Arms’ workout via Peanut Butter Runner last night.  Except I did 15 reps of each move and added an extra set. My shoulders are sore today so I think it worked.

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I really like Jen’s workouts and I’m hoping this particular one will give me a set of guns like hers. Haha.

Please yell at me to go to hot yoga tonight. No ifs ands or buts. I don’t know what my problem is – I love yoga but can’t seem to motivate myself enough to go to class right now.  I tried taking a self-timed post running/stretching shot the other night and failed. My low back and hamstrings are so tight I can’t touch my toes.  I feel like the Tin Man!

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Did you hear the terrible news? My heart actually hurts after leaning  the Mindy Project was cancelled.  Are you as devastated as I am?!

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The boy and I have been watching it together lately. At first he thought it was stupid and lame, then he came around.  “I feel like I’m watching us” he said about Mindy and Danny’s dynamic. Hahahahaha!!! He’s right.

What am I gonna do with my weekends now? 

I started watching House of Lies to fill the void. Have you seen it?

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This piece on “10 Types of People on Instagram We Love to Hate to Follow” made me lol.  “The Spandex Philosopher: So let’s just make sure we get this: you partied like a rapper in university, then at 26 did a $4,000 yoga retreat in New Zealand, and now you love photos of “inspirational” quotes, exotic teas and being upside down near water? Ok, just checking. And it totally looks inspiring, but no, we’re probably not going to read that book in the sunset picture…no, not that sunset picture, the other one.”

What are you currently watching on Netflix?

What are you favorite ‘love to hate’ types of Instagrammers? Fitspo accounts – I like following people for motivation, then they’ll post a bowl of gross looking oatmeal or their 60th ab selfie of the day and I unfollow. Then follow again because I can’t stay away.

What’s the last concert you went to?

Trail Running + Banff Tourists

I
LOVE
TRAIL RUNNING.
Just beyond my doorstep are miles and miles of mountain trails – I’m so lucky to have such easy access to Alberta’s backyard of wilderness. The initial plan for my weekend long run was to run/hike up a “little mountain” to the Barrier Lake fire lookout in Kananaskis. The weather was a mixture of sunny, snowy, rainy and windy so I didn’t want to take my chances on a trail with too much elevation or exposure in case a freak spring blizzard rolled in.

Once the boy and I came to a fork in the trail we decided to abort our mission in favor of exploring a new-to-us path that took us through the Jewell Pass along the Stoney Trail.

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I’m glad we swapped the steep climb for 20kms of rolling hills instead. My glutes/low back/hip were tight and cranky during ascents and the boy’s IT band started flaring up on descents. Can you imagine us in a three-legged race? Thank goodness we had each other for support and motivation.

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Armed with NUUN water in my Camelback, 2 Clif bars, Buff bands, bear spray and a phone, we took our time running at an easy 11:15/mile pace through the Kananaskis Valley. Trail running is so invigorating and mentally engaging that the miles fly by in no time!

FYI: The belt strapped around my waist is a ScatBelt and holds a can of bear spray, keys & phone. Highly recommend one for outdoor adventures!

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At the end of our run, we stopped at our friend Cam’s house where he had water and fresh fruit waiting for us. After stinking up his house with our sweat and eating all of his pineapple, Cam drove us back to my car. What a sweet friend.

Once we got back to my condo, we each had a hot bath, made tacos and ate salted caramel ice cream while watching a movie. <– Now THAT is the perfect night, if you ask me.

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Last week’s training:

Monday: Off/active recovery (went for an hour long walk in the forest)

Tuesday: 5 miles @ 8:06 avg – pavement

Wednesday: Upper body strength + 30 minute elliptical 

Thursday:  Lower body strength 

Friday: 3 miles @ 8:22 – treadmill

Saturday: Upper body strength (arms & shoulders) +  20km (12.42 miles) @ 11:15 – trail

Sunday: Off – this ended up being a chill, ‘touristy’ day in Banff!

-We sunned ourselves at Two Jack Lake & Johnson Lake

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-Sat on *the* red adirondack chairs at Tunnel Mountain 

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(I love this picture! I want to frame it)

-Checked out the hoodoos

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-Visited the Cave & Basin (aka the original, natural hot springs which now operates as a national historic site. FYI: You get free admission with a Discovery park pass, or general admission is $4)

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I can’t get over the color of the water! Sigh.

-Ate a four course fondue dinner at the Grizzly House  I was pleasantly surprised by this experience. I’ve shied away from eating there after assuming it would be a massive, gluttonous meaty meal (lol!!!) that would leave me feeling gross. I’m still recovering from my last Brazillian BBQ feast.  The serving sizes of each course are perfectly portioned so you get to indulge in a little of everything (salad or soup, cheese fondue + bread, game fondue cooked on hot rocks instead of oil, chocolate fondue + fresh fruit) without the need to unbutton your pants after.

-Took a post-dinner evening dip in the Upper Banff hot springs

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… and an early bedtime.   I love my weekend adventures in the Rockies. :)

Remember my pal/old roomie, Lauren?

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She’s moving back again for the summer and will be here next week!!! This time, her boyfriend Nik is coming too. I’m so excited for round two of mountain girl summer adventures.  I can’t believe it’s already been 5 months since we last hung out, yet it seems like it was just yesterday. We’re going to have so much fun hiking, camping and exploring. So much to do, so little time.

What are your summer plans?

What is the most touristy thing to do in your area?

What do you take with you for fuel on a long run?

Things You Need To Know + Reebok Spartan Race Entry GIVEAWAY

Hi!

Just popping in quickly with a bunch of random/exciting news in the social media-sphere.

Jen is hosting a ProCompression giveaway and it’s open to Canadians! My life is 28349x better now that I wear compression sleeves while running and hiking. No calf swelling, no cramps, no sore legs the next day. I can’t even remember the last time my legs were sore from running!

 

 

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^^^ Jen. In her compression socks.

I’ve been doing a plank-a-day for the past few weeks (okay, almost everyday – sometimes I forget) and I’m going to continue through the month of May. Jen @Peanut Butter Runner is hosting an Instagram #UltimatePlankChallenge + giveaways featuring 30  plank variations.   All you have to do is take a pic of yourself doing the daily plank, post it on Instagram, tag  @jdecurtins + @premierprotein, use the #UltimatePlankChallenge and you can win some free stuff!

 

 

 

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 Delta Lodge at Kananaskis (near Canmore/Banff) is giving away a Wellness Retreat Package via Instagram.  I WANT TO WIN IT! Up for grabs: accommodations & healthy breakfast for two people, daily spa credit & a welcome smoothie. This had me at smoothie.  If you win, can I be your date? 😉

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Have you ever done a Spartan Race? Do you want to? For free? (Say yes!)

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(images via Reebok Spartan Race media)

Friends, you’re in luck. I’m giving away a Reebok Spartan Race entry to one lucky {Canadian} reader to be used in either a western or eastern Canada event. You can view dates and locations HERE.  (Vancouver would be my first pick! Which one would you choose?)

You’re also welcome to use the discount code AROO15 to receive 15% off any race!

HOORAY FOR CANADIAN GIVEAWAYS & DISCOUNTS. Winner will be selected on Monday, May 12.

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Have you ever done a Spartan Race? What’s the next event on your race calendar?

Running: How I’m becoming stronger & more efficient

I’ve been thinking about my running progress lately and reflecting on how much improvement I’ve seen in the past year.

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I’ve been running for around 7 years and I’m just starting to reach the point where  I might be getting “good” at this little old hobby of mine. Looking back on my RunKeeper data (I started using it in 2012 and just recently purchased a Garmin) I noticed a few things:

-I ran 4-5 times per week and covered the same 6km loop (except for when I was training for half marathons)
-My speed didn’t really improve
-I never forced myself out of my “comfortable pace” running zone. Same pace, day in and day out
-Anytime I upped my mileage, I seemed to get injured
-Running always felt extremely challenging

When I moved to the Rockies, it felt like a fresh start for… well, everything. I immersed myself in rebuilding and restructuring my life in a way that best suited me. I was tired of being afraid of pursuing my desires and promised myself I wasn’t going to live like that anymore. One of my goals was to become a more efficient, faster runner. (Part of me wanted to fit in with all the fancy athletes that live and train here in the Rockies – haha!)

Weird confession: when people used to ask me about my running times I felt embarrassed because I thought I was too slow. Now I’m kind of nervous they’ll be mad because I’m getting faster. Hahaha

 

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The first time I headed out on a mountain run, I felt like I was going to die from the altitude. I had difficulty breathing and my legs felt like lead. If you haven’t experienced high altitude running, I’d compare it to trying to run while holding your breath. Or breathing through a very tiny  straw. You feel as though you’re not getting enough oxygen, no matter how hard you try. It’s weird.
On a good day, I could barely maintain a 10 minute mile, but as with any new skill, you keep chipping away at it until it gets easier. I’ve gone from running 10+ minute miles to 8 minute miles (and sometimes in the 7s) and here’s what I credit it to:

-Less run days, but I don’t hold back on my training runs. Old me used to think, “I have to run 5-6 times this week, so I don’t want to push myself too hard! I don’t want to be tired/sore.” Now, I’m averaging 3 days a week: usually two 3-5 milers where I focus on speed and a long, SLOW 10-12 miler on weekends.

-I frequently switch up my running routes and terrain. I rarely run on flat surfaces unless I’m in the city; I’m constantly running hills and forest trails. One of my favourite paths has a 1000 ft elevation loss and gain.  I even use a treadmill here and there, which I used to refuse.

-I don’t run with music very often. My run tends to be much more relaxed when I focus on the sound of my feet hitting the pavement, my breath and the sounds of nature surrounding me. It’s easier to listen to my body and feel my way through my run when I’m not distracted by music.

-I strength train 2-3 times a week. I do a lot of weighted squats and lunges, planks and arm/back moves to keep my muscles strong.

-I leave room for other activities I love: hiking, going for walks, cycling, whatever trendy fitness classes are hot right now (spin, barre), paddle boarding, etc.

-I don’t take myself that seriously. I do it because it’s fun, I like the challenge and it’s a great (free) way to stay in shape.

-I listen to my body and don’t force myself to run if I intuitively know I could use an extra rest day. I used to think I had to complete my planned training run, then experience  a shit run because I wasn’t feeling well.

-Sometimes I talk to myself while running. I tell myself this isn’t the hardest thing I’ve done, I’m strong, It’s okay to be afraid but I’m doing it anyway (my current life mantra), etc

-I’m studying Chi Running in depth. One of my favourite tips I apply is SMILING. It relaxes your entire body.

-I keep it simple. I hate gimmicks! Shoes, gear, supplements, etc. There is so much value in a less is more mentality: if you eat well most of the time, get lots of sleep, drink plenty of water, wear shoes that feel comfortable and always do your best, you’ll be just fine.

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 I’d love to hear how you approach your running, or how you’ve improved over the years/months/weeks. 

Have you ever felt pressured to perform like your running friends? Do you ever feel upset with yourself because you feel like you should be “better” or “doing more”? Oh friends, I’ve been there. Once I stopped looking at what everyone else was doing and focused on me, running (and life) became significantly easier.

I couldn’t be happier!

Spring is here and I couldn’t be happier! I’m pretty sure the boy is going to kill me soon if I don’t stop pointing out blossoming trees and flowers among the cityscape.

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What’s that old saying – small things amuse small minds?  At least it doesn’t take much to impress me. Warm weather + sunshine + plants = one happy gal.

Last week was filled with all kinds of fun!

-The boy came to the mountains to celebrate his birthday

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The Iron Goat has the best patio in Canmore. The food is decent, but nothing to write home about.

-I went to Cirque du Soleil’s “Kurios” (it was SO GOOD! I am dying to jump on a trampoline and do acrobatic/gymnast moves now.)

-I practiced football skills with the Calgary Stampeders (??!!)

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I had the opportunity to represent the company I work for at a football seminar. I gave a speech on what it’s like to live, work and play in the Canadian Rockies, with an accompanying photo slideshow. Like most people, I’m incredibly uncomfortable  being the center of attention or speaking publicly. It’s a fear I’ve been working through for years. When I was a kid, my family moved around a lot and I was frequently ‘the new kid’ in school. I always felt like everyone was staring at me, or noticed kids whispering to each other about me. Teachers would make me stand in front of the class and introduce and talk about myself. As a result, it made me really self conscious, nervous and shy. I think that’s where my fear of speaking up or being put on the spot came from.

Old me used to let fear paralyze  and prevent me from moving forward. It’s just not how I live my life anymore.  Instead, I acknowledge and accept when I’m afraid and do it anyway.

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-I created and registered a team for the Kananaskis 100 mile relay

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This race has been on my bucket list for years and I’m thrilled to not only participate in it, but lead the team as well. We’re each running 10 miles. Through the mountains. At times, we’ll be at an elevation of over 7000 ft. Whoa.

Look who I convinced to join my team:

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Jen,  Sam, Ange

Oh man, I hope they don’t hate me after this. These girls run half and full marathons all the time so I know they’re capable.  Our team of 10 is going to need a lot of NUUN tablets and Advil.

-I ate my new favourite dish from Calgary’s best veg restaurant The Coup:

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Tempeh shawarma. I used to be obsessed with their falafel quesadillas, but that ship has sailed.

-I had a pretty good week of training. I feel like myself again, yay!

Monday: 4 miles @ 8:07 avg

Tuesday: 3.1 miles @ 8:46 avg – half of this run was straight up a mountain road. I was gargling my heart and have no idea how I managed this quick of a pace.

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: BODYPUMP @ GoodLife Fitness (with Sam!) + 3.1 miles @ 7:56 avg

Friday: Off

Saturday: BODYPUMP @ GoodLife Fitness + 2 miles @ 7:30 avg

Sunday: 10 easy ‘zone 2′ miles @ 10:30 avg (the boy came with me. I needed someone to talk to/entertain myself with)

Can we talk about how hard the leg tracks are on the new Bodypump release? I can’t remember a time when I was able to walk straight.

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-I made a giant fruit cobbler for dinner on Sunday. Yes that’s right, I said dinner.

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I mixed fresh strawberries, pears, raspberries and chopped dates with some lemon juice, sugar, flour and cinnamon and tossed it all together. For the topping: flour, oats, cinnamon, sugar and melted butter then baked it at 375F for 45 minutes. (Eyeballed the measurements)

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Topped with fresh whipped cream. The boy and I ate half the pan. Our legs were hungry from our run? And we love food. We live to eat.

What’s the last dessert you made?

Have you ever done a relay race? This is my first relay race. Any tips would be very much appreciated!

Tell me three things about your weekend!
Note: This post was written as part of the GoodLife Fitness Blogger Ambassador Program.

I never thought I’d say this.

After taking 10 days off from training, I was itching to lace up my shoes and sprint off running into the forest/sunset/arms of a lumberjack… or something like that.  During today’s lunch break, I spent some time in the gym working my arms and shoulders with tricep dips, chaturanga pushups, mack raises, shoulder raises and bicep curls with 5 & 10 lb plates. Bodypump taught me those moves and I regularly incorporate them in my strength workouts.  I hope I’m sore tomorrow! The last time I lifted weights was last weekend when  the boy trained my arms.  He had me do one of those bro workouts where you lift heavier weights with less reps. It was hard and my arms and back were sore for three days.

Once 5pm rolled around, I set out for an easy 4 miler in shorts and a tank top. Ahhh!! It was so warm out today. I’m definitely a summer girl.

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I wanted to show you that I don’t always nail my self-timed shots. A few moments before this one was taken, I was frightened by something rustling around in the forest.

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… it ended up being a squirrel.

Normally when Monday rolls around, I’m excited to tackle the week ahead, but I wasn’t feelin’ it at all last week. I was tired, cranky, and… this is way too much TMI but whatever: I got my period, a cold sore and a demon virus all within a three day span. Seriously. How? Why? I’m gross. *hangs head in shame*

So I took it easy.  One evening, I alternated between sitting in a steam shower and taking dips in the pool. (I use the facilities at my work)

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Another night, I went for a walk, attempted to jog, inhaled a cloud of bugs and gagged so I went home. Defeated.

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For the most part, I took naps, chugged tons of water, green juice, smoothies and tried to not stress about my lack of running.

This is why I’m not on board with compressed 2-3 month half marathon training plans. It’s just not enough time for the average person to prepare because life ALWAYS gets in the way. It’s best to slowly build a solid base of consistently running around 10-15 miles a week first and THEN build a structured training plan on top of that existing foundation. That way, if you need to check out of life here and there, you don’t  have to worry about forcing yourself to play catch up. (And potentially getting injured in the process.)

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I had a buy one get one free coupon for Jugo Juice.  Kale Aid juice and a Coco Plus smoothie for me and an unpictured Calgary Marathon ‘Speed Date’ smoothie for the boy.

Thinking back to what I ate last week, I’m fairly certain the only solid food I consumed was green curry and oatmeal. I mentioned this on Instagram, but I hesitated posting this picture because I didn’t want to be “that person” who Instagrams boring bowls of oatmeal.  (You can find me on Instagram @ livingmintgreen)

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1. I actually plate my food like this in real life. Oatmeal, yogurt bowls and salads are neatly organized because it looks more palatable, food is art and I am a neat freak.  I secretly die a little inside when I present a meal like this to the boy and he instantly stirs everything into one big sloppy mess.

2. This breakfast is so filling! It’s the perfect carb/protein/fat/fibre ratio for me and usually keeps me full for 4-5 hours.

I cook about 1/3 cup of rolled oats (not the gross flakey instant kind that turns to goo) then mix in a splash of almond milk, 1/2 scoop unsweetened whey protein, 1/2 a banana, chia & hemp seeds, cinnamon and a scoop of peanut or almond butter. Mmmm!!! I never thought I would say that about oatmeal. Seriously. Oatmeal!

What are your thoughts on short half-marathon/marathon training plans? Recipe for disaster?

What have you been eating for breakfast lately?

Fav way to cross train? BODYPUMP!!!! (you already knew this though, right?)