Sunday, October 30, 2011

Race Report: Toronto Women's Runs 5k, Take 2

This weekend I ran the 5k race at the final TO Women's Runs event of the season.  It was a great time, as expected - even better than imagined!  

I can't say enough good things about this run series.  I really enjoyed the two events I did with them this summer and I am already considering the half marathon in the spring.  (Who knew I would go from 5k races to signing up for TWO half marathons in 2012 so fast?!)  From the set up to the post race food to the general atmosphere, it's an all around great event.  I do admit that the shirts haven't really impressed me yet, but I know "female fit" shirts are a fine art that no one has really perfected yet.

TO Women's Runs has a great pre- and post-race area.

Prior to the race, I had the chance to meet Lyndsay (follow her on Twitter at @Lynzee).  It was great to see a "familiar" face despite not having any of my girlfriends at the race (yes, I count strangers from the internet as familiar faces, don't you?)  Lynday kicked butt by the way, running her first sub-30 5k!  You can read her race report here.

Lyndsay and I warming up in the sun pre-race.
The rest of the time pre-race was spent trying to keep warm and debating how many layers I really needed to wear.  After scrapping ice off our car on the way to the race site I thought long sleeves plus my running jacket was the answer.  I ended up with just long sleeves, which was a good choice I think.  I just wish I had made the choice before I had poked holes in my running jacket with the safety pins.  I also found Andrea, who I had made plans to meet before the race so we could run together.

The only solo pic of me because the other
one really sucked. Delete. 
Here's a tip: When you make plans to meet other runners prior to a race and it's freezing cold, don't describe the outfit you'll be running in but the outfit you will be hanging around in before the race. Andrea ran in purple and I ran in grey, but before the race she was in black and I was in green. She also didn't have her hat on until after we found each other.  You live, you learn.

The run itself was pretty awesome.  It was the same route as last time so I was ready for landmarks like the parking lot (crappy) and the loop that looks like the turnaround but is really only the 2km mark.  Andrea and I ran the whole thing together, chatting and doing 3/1 run/walk intervals.  Her goal was to finish in under 39 minutes and we both kept an eye on our Garmins to ensure we were going to hit that goal.

Check out those super hot negative splits.

As you can see, we killed Andrea's goal for the race.  I'm glad I was able to get to know a new running buddy and help her meet her goals.  You can read Andrea's race report here.  In meeting her goal, I met my goal for this race.

With Andrea, a stranger from the internet my running buddy.

I felt strong throughout and definitely had some gas left in the tank when it was over.  I'm glad I didn't push harder though because by dinner time my knee was really really sore.  Luckily we were at my brother's for dinner, and they provided me with ice and Advil.

I told The American not to worry too much about taking running pictures of me because I knew the on route photographers at these events were actually kind of awesome.  As usual, I was way too impatient to wait for the photos to be indexed and clicked through 200 pages of pictures to find these beauties:

I don't photograph well when running
unless I know the picture is being taken.
I actually kind of love this picture.

Along with pictures of me, The American likes to take pictures of the winners as well.  Check out these ladies flying along:

I think this is the 5k winner. She finished in 17:55.1.

The 8k winner. She finished in 28:32.4.
And apparently she could fly.

It's amazing to me how far I've come from my first 5k race.  At the beginning of this summer I had no idea how a race worked, didn't own a Garmin, had no idea about pacing, and was ready to fall over at the 4.7km mark of my first 5k race.  Now I am confident and excited and enjoy every minute of something that has already become second nature to me, and I'm sad that the 2011 racing season is pretty much over.  Time to start making plans for 2012!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Goals: TO Women's Runs 5k, Take 2!

This weekend is my last 5k race of the year (I think?).  I'm heading to Toronto to run another 5k race with TO Women's Runs.  Last time I ran a 5k with them it was a fantastic experience (and a PB!) and I'm looking forward to running this event again.

I was going to set myself ABC time goals like I did with the Oasis Zoo Run and the Army Run, even though I had decided this race was all about having fun.  I've changed my mind again though!  I will not be setting ABC goals this time around.

My goal for this race is going to be driven instead by the goal of Andrea at Fit RA Chick, which is to set a PB for her of under 39 minutes.  Last time I ran this race, my friend Jess pushed me to a PB and it was awesome.  I'm taking this opportunity to pass it on and push a stranger from the internet new friend to a PB too.

If you're a the race as well feel free to stop by and say hi!  We're meeting at the bag check at 9:30.  

After the race I have a full day of brunch and wandering Toronto and see family for dinner!  It's going to be a great weekend.  :-)

Stay tuned for my race report!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Race this weekend! TO Women's Run 5k

Despite being benched, more or less, I am signed up for a race this weekend and plan to follow through.  I am running the 5k race at the TO Women's Run on Saturday morning.

I'm looking forward to running the same race/route that I PR'ed on back in August of this year.  I was hoping to run with my girlfriends again this time around, but due to life getting in the way I'll be running with blog and Twitter friends instead!  My girlfriends and I are making plans for next year already though and I'm looking forward to that a lot.  :-)

I haven't thought a lot about my goals yet because up until a day or two ago I wasn't 100% sure that I would be running this race.  Life is getting in the way for me too, and that combined with my sore knee/ankle had made me question whether driving to Toronto to run a 5k is really the best idea right now. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that a race is exactly what I need right now.

I need to re-charge and reset and get excited about running again.  I also want one final race to close out this year before I start my half-marathon training over the winter.  I may not PR this weekend (though I would love to!) but I will have the chance to cross a starting line, wear my bib, get a t-shirt and medal for my collection, and cheer myself across the finish.  This race isn't about getting the best time, but having the best time.  It's all about me.

(That being said, stay tuned for my ABC goals!)

Will you be at the TO Women's Run this weekend?  Want to meet up and say hello?

Do you try and PR at every race or do have races where you just run for the sake of crossing a finish line?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Review: Clif Luna Bars and Shot Bloks

Note: I've updated this review as of October 21, 2011 to including information about flavour availability in Canada.  

The fine folks at Clif sent me a package of Luna Bars and Shot Bloks to try out recently.  I already knew I loved Luna Bars but I had never tried Shot Bloks.  I was eager to try them out when the package arrived!

Get in my belly!

Luna Bars are nutrition bars made specifically for women.  From their website:
Created by and for women, LUNA bars were the first bars just for us, with the vitamins and minerals our bodies need to stay healthy. Wholesome nourishment and delicious indulgence, they are 70% organic and just plain yummy.
In Canada, LUNA Bars are available in six flavours: Caramel Nut Brownie, Chocolate Peppermint Stick, LemonZest®, Nutz Over Chocolate®, S’mores and White Chocolate Macadamia.  I was excited to try some new flavours as all I can usually find locally are the chocolate and nut flavours.  For more info, check out the FAQ on their website.

The Luna Bars they sent Nutz Over Chocolate, Lemon Zest and Toasted Nuts 'n Cranberry.  I don't have any pictures of the bars themselves because I ate them too fast.  :-)  I don't know much about nutrition and science, but I can definitely confirm they are yummy!!

I had tried Nutz Over Chocolate before so that was an easy sell for me!  I love it already and gobbled them up first.  I wasn't sure about the Toasted Nuts 'n Cranberry because I don't usually love dried cranberries in bars - but I was definitely wrong.  These were different than the Luna Bars I had tried before.  I was used to a bit of chocolate coating on the bottom and these did not have that.  There were great as well though.

My favourite by far was the Lemon Zest flavour.  Now I know why my contact at Clif Bars said they were her favourite!  They are SO delicious!!  I was worried after trying the lemon flavoured Larabar, but these were a much softer lemon flavour.  They had a little coating on the bottom, maybe vanilla flavoured instead of chocolate?  It was like eating a lemon meringue pie.  I immediately told the people I was with when I ate it for the first time that it was amazing.

I love keeping Luna Bars in my bag when we go camping or hiking, and I kept them handy during the Mitsubishi City Chase as well and ate nothing but a couple of them all day.  After I received these I wasn't doing anything particularly active other than running, so I stashed a couple in my desk drawer.  They came in handy more than once when I didn't have time for lunch.  I also ate one before running once - it was just enough to keep me going but not so much that my stomach was upset.

I finally tried the Shot Bloks tonight.  I felt a little intimidated because I've never tried any nutrition stuff before and they came with instructions on the package.  I knew I wouldn't be heading out any long enough runs to really justify fuel, but I wanted to try them so I could tell you about them.  I finally ate a few tonight when I was starving and en route to the chiropractor.

From the Clif website:
CLIF SHOT BLOKS are the latest nutrition option for endurance athletes. SHOT Bloks come in chewable, 33 calorie cubes, making it easy to customize and track caloric and electrolyte intake during long outings and races.
In Canada, five flavours of Shot Bloks are available: Cran‐Razz®, Margarita, Strawberry, Mountain Berry and Lemon-Lime.  Some flavours also come with caffeine and one has extra sodium.  If you want more information, check out the FAQ here.

The font on the magazine shows their size :-)
Tonight I tried the Mountain Berry flavour.  The verdict?  Delicious!  It's like eating gummy bears!

I was scared after hearing how gross and hard to choke down some fuel is.  These were no problem.  I could probably eat a whole package (6 bloks) just sitting around on my couch.  They were easy to chew and swallow.  I imagine they will be pretty easy to consume while running - definitely easier than something liquidy or gooey.

They also sent a few more flavours - Cran-Razz, Lemon Lime and Strawberry - and I can't wait to try them.  I have read that you can read them before running so I plan to try that a few times.  I will also definitely be trying these on my long runs when they start!  I feel like I've found the right thing for my fuelling already, which is nice to know!  I heard so many horror stories about different fuels being gross or hard to swallow or tough on people's stomachs, and I haven't had any of those problems with these yet.  I will provide more comments as I try them for different things.

There were a couple things I didn't love that I think I will be able to address through getting used to the product.  First, they were super sticky and my fingers got stick.  Second, the package seemed hard to open.  I think it might be how I opened it though, because the package is designed to be easy to open and for you to just "squeeze" the Bloks out of the package instead of getting your hands sticky.  I think it might have been more of a user problem than a design problem.  I'll have to play with them some more.

I will definitely be chomping down on the rest of my Shot Bloks pretty quickly and will provide more thoughts on them if I have any.

Disclaimer: I received these products at no cost from Clif Bar to review.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own; I was not compensated to give any certain opinion or provide any particular information.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday Catch-up

Hello friends!

I cannot deny that I've been neglecting this little corner of my world.  I've only been running 1-2 times per week and I don't feel like I'm challenging myself because I'm still taking care of myself, so I don't feel like I have that much to say.  But after a weekend in a city that was hosting an amazing marathon (that I wasn't running in) and some lovely fall weather, I can feel my running energy coming back and I'm excited to plan for my half marathon training.

For now, I have several random things for you...

A while ago I won some Larabars from Jayme at Runner-n-Spice and they were delicious!  I didn't really care for the lemon one but the remainder were so tasty.  I especially loved the chocolate chip cookie dough flavoured bar.  

And today I won a Sparkly Soul headband from Christy at My Dirt Road Anthem.  I've been so lucky lately that I should probably share the love and host another giveaway soon.  

I recently got in touch with the fine folks at Clif Bar and they sent me some delicious Luna Bars to try as well as some Shot Bloks which I have not had a chance to try yet.  My favourite Luna Bar is the lemon, which I didn't see coming because usually I don't like super tart things (like the lemon Larabar).  I will be doing a full review of the products they sent me soon.

I didn't know much about the Boston Marathon before I started running and reading other people's blogs.  Now I see these jackets EVERYWHERE.  They really inspire me to get going and challenge myself.  This weekend I decided that I need to decide (I know, very circular) whether I want to someday run a full marathon and someday after that try and BQ.  I don't know if it's something that is in my future.  More to come on that I'm certain!

And this weekend we were in Toronto for something other than the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.  I had some time and they were offering a free shuttle to the Health and Fitness Expo so I hopped on the subway and then the school bus and checked out what was on offer.  The Expo was at the Exhibition grounds, which I've never actually been in.  I've always driven past the beautiful gates from the highway and wanted to go inside.

It was a pretty miserable day yesterday weather wise, as you can see.  Today it definitely improved and I'm glad the runners had good weather.

I could have dropped a lot of money there but managed to only spend a little bit on a couple tubes of nuun.  I've been itching to try it and haven't found any in town except an old box of kola flavour.  I might not have been looking hard enough though, as I found this at the Running Room display at the Expo.  I already tried the tri-berry and it is delicious!  I'm so glad I found this stuff.

And then because I couldn't resist I checked out the Run Disney booth to get a preview of the 2012 Disney Princess Half Marathon medal.  It's beautiful!  I can't wait to wear it around my neck and say "I ran a half marathon!"

I think I'm going to strap on my shoes and go for a bit of a run.  Sunday is my "long slow distance" run day on my training schedule, but as I'm not yet doing "long" runs until my knees are a little better, I'm concentrating on the "slow" part as I have a lot to learn about pacing in my training!  More on that later as well as I fine tune my schedule for the next four months.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I'm Running!

I'm still alive!

And I'm running!

All is well in my world.

More to come, I swear.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Giveaway Winner: RoadID Gift Card!

The winner of the $35 RoadID e-card is Amber from Blonde and Balanced!

Amber - I have e-mailed you!  Please e-mail me back within one week or I will select another winner.

If you want another chance to win a RoadID product, check out this review and giveaway at Gourmet Runner.

If you are going to purchase a RoadID, feel free to get in touch with me for a coupon code! I have four $1 off codes that are first come, first served. :-)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Say It, Do It: Being gentle with myself edition.

Psst... Today is your last chance to enter the RoadID gift certificate giveaway here!

If you’re new to SIDI here’s some info: At the beginning of each week on Fit Chick in the City “Say it, Do it” is a chance for everyone to commit to their workouts for the week by saying them out loud and keeping each other accountable.

I'm not quite off the bench yet, but on Saturday my chiropractor gave me permission to try running this week.  I was supposed to go for an easy jog tonight and if I was pain free I could join the running clinic group for our 4k run tomorrow.  

I'm happy to say I've been pain free most of the day, but sad to say that I didn't get out and run tonight because the weather is crap here.  So instead of going for an easy jog as a test, I'm declaring that my pain free walk to and from work is good enough for me and I will try running tomorrow with the 2:30 pace group (instead of the 2:15 group because I don't think I'm up for the challenge quite yet).

Hopefully tomorrow night's run is good.  Either way I'm back at the chiropractor on Wednesday to be beat up again, and I'm sure I'll pay the price if the run was a poor choice.

This week I hope to get out there and do two runs - tomorrow with the clinic and another easy run on my own so long as the pain stays away.  I know I have to ease back into it.  Even though it's only been a week off, it's been a week off due to pain - not laziness - and I need to take care of myself accordingly so I'm not out of the half marathon before I even begin training.

I'm also going to try and make an effort this week to start exploring cross training ideas and maybe commit to something regular if I can.  I know that I can't just run anymore.  I also want something to do during these times that running isn't an option.  I want to find something that is both affordable and that fits into my schedule.  Between race fees and chiropractor visits I can't really afford any fancy gym memberships and fitting running in 3-4 times a week is hard enough already.

I will be finalizing my half marathon training schedule soon too and I'm looking forward to sharing it with you.

How do you avoid the temptation to jump right back in when your injuries start healing?

Do you cross train regularly?  What are your favourite cross training activities?