Sunday, July 29, 2012

Goodlife Victoria Half Marathon - Week 5 Recap

Oh yayz!  The Olympics are finally here and I've already done my first ugly cry.  I don't know what it is, but I just love watching all the athletes who've worked so hard for their moment to shine...I find it so amazing to see what these people can do with their bodies and pushing themselves to their limits for their sport.  A bit of sad news, I heard that Paula Radcliffe, the fastest woman marathoner in history, won't be racing at these games because of a foot injury. She hasn't had her share of luck at the Olympics, but I hoped that she might take this one since she'll be in front of her home crowd.  Well, it doesn't take away from her previous accomplishments, and she'll still go down in history as one of running's true greats.

Workouts for this week...just how things fell, it was a busy one:

Sunday:  12K run
The weather turned out to be cool and drizzly, which was perfect!  The route was beautiful...we ran down by the University and ended up running by the water where we could ogle some gorgeous homes and dream what we could have if we won the lottery.  Ha!  I wasn't in much of a talkative mood, so ran with a few small groups but mostly trailed just slightly behind so I could just enjoy the run.

Monday:  bootcamp

Tuesday: rest

Wednesday: bootcamp in a.m./run clinic in p.m.
Another double duty day with Jason.  The man knows how to push, that's for sure!  I think I've finally acclimatized to the double Jay days as I like to call them, as I'm not feeling as tired as I was the first few weeks. 

Thursday: Mindful Strides clinic
Wah, my last clinic with Marilyn.  Sob.  We had a great last clinic...we did some hillwork with the elastics, and she was saying that we all looked great.  Hurray, success!  Things have finally clicked for Hubs too...he was struggling a lot with his body positioning, but the last class really hammered it home for him.  Marilyn is away for most of August as she'll be in the throes of marathon training (I think she's training for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon) and is going to scale back some of her clinics for the Fall.  Can't really blame her when she's going to be doing many double duty days and accumulating mileages of 160km or so a week.  A week!  Hubs and I are going to take one more advanced session with her to really cement what we've learned, and then I think we're going to take the training wheels off and let 'er rip.  I have to say I felt a little bit sad as we wrapped up this session because we really liked the other clinic was a really good group and we all seemed to click really well.

Friday: bootcamp

Saturday:  14K run
Hubs and I went for a run down one of our local trails, and it was great because Hubs had a great run!  He's finally clicked with the new running technique so I'd run with him for bits and watch his form and then zip ahead and loop back to check in.  I think the hill training is really paying off as I'm learning to push through running hard while tired from the morning bootcamp (useful for the last few kilometres when I usually implode) and I'm running at faster speeds and it's feeling easier.  Just need to keep this up for a few more months and Goodlife Victoria, here I come!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I'm Alive

Well, that was intense.  Ha!  I did the Observatory and I lived to tell the tale.  Not gonna was absolutely the toughest hill so far, so hard it actually deserves it's own blog post!

When I first arrived, the group was all standing around...we were all buzzing with a bit of excitement and a lot of trepidation about what was about to befall us.  Jason arrived right on time, and after a brief description of today's workout, we were off.  First part was a steep trail that led up to the Observatory...because we had to go single file, for the most part it was a quick walk up the trail and a good warm up.  We ran back down to where our cars were and got primed for the meaty part of the workout.  We had to run up the road to the Observatory, which is a steep 2.5 km hill but we were doing intervals so had to run up for three minutes and then walk back down for one minute and keep repeating this until we made it to the top.  My legs were already feeling burnt out from bootcamp this morning, but somehow I managed to find some gas and made pretty good time getting to the top.  One girl actually said to me that she noticed I was booking it up the hill and ran behind me while imitating my cadence and said that it was way easier than what she normally does!  I credited Marilyn of course...she taught us proper technique on how to run hills.  Instead of overstriding and pulling yourself up with your quads, you lean and kinda fall up the hill while taking small steps.  I know, it sounds weird...but seeing as Marilyn can run a 1:15 half marathon, she probably knows what she's talking about!

What goes up, must come down...and the run back down was really nice.  Shady and cool, I relaxed, turned off my brain and practiced my downhill running. 

Observatory Road...conquered.  Gonna sleep well tonight!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Goodlife Victoria Half Marathon - Week 4 Recap

Whew...took things a bit easier this week because I was feeling like a big bag of crap, and it definitely was the right thing to do.  I'm feeling way, way better...back isn't aching as much and overall I'm feeling much more energetic!  That's a good thing, because this week's Wednesday night clinic is being held at...wait for it...

...the Observatory. 

*small shriek*  For those folks not in Victoria, apparently running the hills around the Observatory is legendary with the Pen Run crew.  I haven't been up there in a zillion years, but I do know it's one big huge mofo of a hill...see the little white thing on top of that hill?  That's the Observatory and yes, we're apparently running right to the top.  If I don't make it back, please tell my mom I love her.

Sunday - 30 mins treadmill run
After a full day of chores, chores and more chores, I got in a quick treadmill run.  I totally felt like blowing it off, but forced myself to do it and glad I did.  I almost stopped a few times because I so wasn't into it, but luckily there was something mindless on TV so it made it much less painful.

Monday - bootcamp

Tuesday - rest day

Wednesday - bootcamp
Sigh.  I was feeling pretty crappy at this point so decided to give 'er at bootcamp in the morning, and not go to the running clinic at night.  Very good choice, as I felt really tired Wednesday night and would have been dragging my sorry slug-like ass around on those hills. 

Thursday - Mindful Strides clinic
I already wrote about the great session that we had, so won't go on about it again.  Next week is our last class (sob), and Marilyn is going to videotape us.  Note to self:  wear cute running outfit next week.

Friday - bootcamp

Saturday - rest day
Whee!  Road trip...Hubs' and I headed up to Lake Cowichan to visit a friend of ours whose family has a cabin up there.  Knowing that I had a 14K run today with the clinic, we just went up for the day but it was sooooo nice to just be surrounded by nature and nothing else.  No TV, no internet...we basically sat around, ate and talked the whole day away.  SO lovely and it was amazing how just being removed from all that technology was so incredibly relaxing. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

By George I Think I've Got It

Great Mindful Strides session...seriously, so awesome!  I think...I think...I've got it!  It's a lot about body awareness, and when we were working on our strides today, Marilyn was happy overall with how we were all keeping our legs under our bodies, and was doing little tweaks here and there but really, just lightly guiding us.  It was even more interesting because just before our session was the beginner's class, and it was so interesting to see what they were doing because really, it wasn't that long ago that we were them.

It's also so amazing that in such a relatively short period of time, we've completely changed our running style...since January, we've done 18 hours (6 sessions for each of the 3 levels) of actual instruction time, and of course lots of time practicing on our runs.  Granted somedays it wasn't all that easy and admittedly there were times when I felt frustrated that I wasn't "getting" it, but I'm so, so glad we stuck with it.  It's actually hard to run like how we used to, and though I'm sure our form isn't perfect, half the battle is just awareness.

I'm a total convert to the Pose Method of running.  Here's a short 3 minute video that describes a bit about the technique:


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Goodlife Victoria Half Marathon - Week 3

Blah.  I think I'm fighting a bug.  The last few days I've been headachy with vague chills, and the headachy feeling is making my back hurt too....basically I feel like ass.  I'm contemplating not going to the run clinic tomorrow night as I'm feeling extra tired too, so want to give my body a break and hopefully give it a chance to fight these germies off.

Whoa...Week 3! 

Sunday - 12K run
Awesome run!  I posted about this last week...great run, met some more awesome people, and love getting pushed to run faster. 

Monday - 30 min stationery bike
D was having issues with her back so wasn't going to bootcamp, so I decided to jam too and worked out at home instead.  Sunday was a hard run, so decided to give my legs a bit of a break from running.

Tuesday - rest day

Wednesday - bootcamp in a.m./running clinic in p.m.
Another crazy hill day.  Morning hills were on this incline by our local Rona, and Jason made us run up and down the hill backwards, forwards, sprinting, doing burpees or jump squats up the hill.  I tried to pace myself, but honestly it was hard because Jason is so awesome at pushing you just that little bit extra.  You want to work harder for him!  The hills at the clinic were, to put it bluntly, brutal.  It was a hot, hot night, and the hill was short but pretty darn steep...thankfully we'd been warned to bring lots of water, and everyone heeded the advice.  It was absolutely grueling...500 metres from end to end, and after I finished I had that weird "closing in" feeling, I think due to the heat and exertion.  I walked it off, but as we ran back to the clinic I could feel my calves totally cramping up, similar to what I feel after a hard race.  Unsure if it was due to just pushing so hard or loss of salts/dehydration, I stretched my legs a bit and kind of blew it off.  Not smart, because as I was driving home, my legs started to cramp up in traffic.  Both legs.  Did I mention I drive a standard?  Thankfully, I managed to keep my calves/foot from going into full out cramps as luckily I made it to a light, put my e-brake on and stretched, stretched, stretched.  Crisis averted!

Thursday - Mindful Strides clinic
Ahhh.  This session was focussed on the Alexander technique, so we ended up doing a lot of laying around while Marilyn worked with each of us.  It was awesome!  The night was gorgeous and warm, and I was a little bit tired from the night before so welcomed a more relaxing class.

Friday - rest day
So you know how we folks in Victoria rarely ever get snow?  Well, we rarely ever get thunder and lightning either, but early Friday morning we were woken up by crazy loud claps of thunder and intense lighning!  It went on and on, so D and I checked in with each other because it probably wasn't a great idea to be running around out there in the middle of a lightning the saying goes, "if it roars, stay indoors!"  I was going to get up and work out, but the bed just called to me far too loudly. 

Saturday - 10K run
Hubs' back was finally feeling better, so we headed out for a jaunt around the hood.  It was a gorgeous morning and I missed running with Hubs so we ran together the whole time...normally we run at our own paces, but it was nice to run at an easy pace and just enjoy the day.  I guess I could have pushed myself, but sometimes it's nice to run just because I love it.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Thick Dumpling Skin

Sometimes it's just weird how things happen.  I was entering my daily eats into My Fitness Pal when I saw something off the side of the screen that caught my eye.  My Fitness Pal is awesome in that there are message boards that users can post to, and the one thread that grabbed my attention was "Asians wanting to lose weight?"  Curious, I clicked on the thread and couldn't stop reading.  It wasn't so much about how to lose weight, but the struggles that Asian men and women have with the societal and cultural pressures to be thin and to look a certain way.  I felt myself nodding and totally identifying with how the posters felt, and truthfully, getting a bit pissed off about ridiculous the whole thing was.  One person posted a link to a blog that was solely dedicated to struggles with food and body image due to this crazy pressure on Asians to be thin.  I ended up curling into a ball and reading this awesome blog called Thick Dumpling Skin for hours, reading post after post after post about people who feel exactly like me or who've gone through the same things - being told that they're fat, that they'll never get a boyfriend/girlfriend, relatives openly criticizing their weight and commenting on how unattractive they are...all the while pushing food at them saying "Eat more, eat more!"  Relatives and older people were particularly cruel, which always makes me scratch my head as Asians are so unfailingly polite in all other respects!  In the Asian culture, your appearance and weight are fair game and it's a no holds barred war against fat.

I'm sure most people are probably scratching their heads, wondering why this is any harder for Asians than it is for anyone else. Yes, the North American culture emphasizes thinness, but the pressure for Asians is exponentially higher. It's not just societal and cultural pressures, but familial as well.  I know I absolutely felt a lot of pressure growing up because I was a heavy kid, and I'm sure this has shaped a lot of the way I felt about myself.  I felt horrified reading the stories of childen who were put on diets by their parents, or felt sad when I heard of the humiliation some people went through.  Having been to China a few times, I always marvelled at how few overweight people there are there, and now I realize that it's because it's the intense societal pressure to be thin. 

By North American standards, I'm petite.  Standing at 5'2'' and weighing a buck twenty, I'm not  Now transport me to anywhere in Asia?  I'm a giant and I would definitely be considered heavy.  When we were in Hong Kong last year, I was taller than most and wore the largest sizes available.  Women there are all sylph-like reeds...thin, delicate limbs on teeny, tiny torsos.  Sometimes I couldn't believe  how thin some of the girls did they have any internal organs in there?!  Here's an excerpt from an article by Mume Yoshiwara that was in Marie Claire about the narrow ideals of Asian beauty:

"If you were to create the ideal Asian beauty, what would she look like.  She would be thin, of course, and her skin would be pale, unlined and babyish in it's softness and porelessness.  Her hair would be thick, shiny, black or dark brown, preferably straight and certainly would be an image easy to make because here's what you needn't bother rendering:  hips, or girth of any kind (the idea of replacing the word fat with the more salumious euphemism of curvy never quite caught on with asians); skin that shows the marks that all other races have grown to, if not celebrate, then at least accept (freckles, moles, sunspots, even the occasional wrinkle); short hair."

Um.  Yeah, I have girth...I have muscular legs and a butt because of all the running I do.  I have broad shoulders for someone my height, thanks to all the pushups I do at bootcamp.  I'm curvy and I have have boobelage (yes, I'm an Asian anomaly).  And you know what?  I wouldn't have it any other way.  You know why?  I'd way rather look fit, muscular and athletic than reed-like any day.  I may not look like the epitome of Asian beauty (and no, I don't have long, silky black tresses either!) but I'm OK with it.

Huh.  Maybe what's happening is that as I get older, I'm getting thick dumpling skin...but what I do know is that I'm glad I'm not alone.

Monday, July 9, 2012

No Truer Words

Saw this and had to post truer words ever written.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Goodlife Victoria Half Marathon - Week 2

Gah!  I don't know what is up with my Google Reader lately, but a bunch of the blogs I follow aren't showing up...sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.  I tried to go back to the blogs and re-follow them but that doesn't work either.  Urgh.  Anyways, I'll have to try and figure it out as I'm getting back into the running groove and back into the blogging world.

Anyways, I had the best run today.  The best.  Hubs' back is still bugging him, so I decided to do my long run with the Pen Run clinic group.  We had 12K scheduled and it's a hot day out (yay, finally...we've got some good weather!), so to be truthful I was *this* close to jamming out but thankfully I pushed myself out the door and I'm so glad I did.  I ended up running loosely with a small group and loved the company, but what I'm really enjoying is running different's route was fairly hilly, so it forces me to become a stronger runner.  Sure, I love my little easy 3K loop...but running with the clinic really pushes me beyond what I normally would do on my own.  I would never, ever push myself on the hills as hard as I do on Wednesday nights, and I'm already seeing and feeling the payoff. There was a long, gradual hill on today's run and I surprised myself that I managed to run the whole thing, and felt like I still had some juice left in my legs.  I felt amazing after the runner's high today.

So this week's workouts:

Sunday: 10K run
I did the 3K loop around the house...kept myself at a 5:42 pace, so bang on with what I'm supposed to be training at.

Monday: rest day
I know...normally this would be a workout day, but Monday was just gonna be a day for me and Hubs.  It was awesome...we slept in, lazed around, had pancakes and bacon for breakfast and puttered around the house.  The perfect day!

Tuesday: rest day

Wednesday: bootcamp in a.m./running clinic in p.m.
My second Double Jay Day!  Jason taught in the morning at bootcamp and this time I was smarter and paced myself.  Clinic was hills again, and they were tough...I had to walk through parts of them, but afterwards, I felt much better than I did last week...I think I'm going to keep doing my Double Jay Days and just pace myself better.

Thursday: Mindful Strides Clinic
Hubs' back was still bothering him, so he watched while the rest of  us worked with the elastics.  I can feel myself getting stronger with them, and actually feel like I've come a long way since the first clinic. 

Friday: bootcamp
Again, thank goodness I have D to push me.  I totally would have jammed, but I went.  I was slow, but at least I was there.

Saturday: rest day
I had originally planned on doing a 30 minute stationery bike workout, but I was soooooo tired that I decided to give myself an extra rest day.  I think I'm still adapting to the harder workouts, and was up early and to bed late on Friday...I could barely keep my eyes open all day, and fell asleep on the couch at 7pm, went up to bed around 11pm and slept until 7am.  Guess I really needed some extra sleep!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1.  That Guy
Sigh.  You know how sometimes there's "that guy" in one of your classes that's just a bit of a know it all and you just wanna pinch his little head?  Don't get me wrong, so far I'm loving my Pen Run clinics...I haven't been doing the long runs with the group, but have gone the last two Wednesday night sessions and it's awesome.  Jason kicks some serious ass, and the clinic itself is huge...60 or 70 people in total.  The people are great, everyone is friendly...after a brutal hill workout, people were all high fiving each other...but there's this one irritating dude who insists on acting like the biggest douche of all time.  Loud and obnoxious, he happened to be working out next to me when Jason took us to a park and we were doing some core exercises.  Dude also goes to the same bootcamp we go to but at a later time (note, this is NOT the really nice guy I raced with on my first clinic...he was cool) and was going on about how he was pushing people out of the way at that morning's bootcamp because they were too slow.  Now what I wanted to do was to give him a piece of my mind, but I just looked at him, snorted quietly and ignored him.  Nothing bugs me more than when people act like this...actually what I hate more is when people complain about something incessantly but refuse to do anything to change it, but that's a whole other post.  Ha!  At bootcamp, everyone works at their own pace and what matters is that they're out there trying, and everyone has to start from somewhere, even the most fit person on earth.  Even freaking Jillian Michaels had to start from somewhere, right?  I swear if this idiot ever chooses to go to the early morning session and pushes me or anyone else out of the way, I will roundhouse kick his ass into next week. 

2.  Scary Thing
I was reading Bri's blog and she was posting about doing one thing a day that scares you.  If the saying sounds familiar, it's part of the Lululemon's manifesto...and you know I love me some Lulu.   Now we all get in a rut and sometimes just let life pass us by, and I started thinking about this saying more.  I'm as guilty as anyone of wanting comfort, stability and safety...but now that I've got some of my zing back, I'm trying to think of some "scary" things that will just push me outside of my comfort zone.  The wheels are turning...stay tuned, folks for future posts...and suggestions are welcome...

3.  Gettin' There
Almost completed three weeks of Operation Back At 'Er!  After all the debauchery of the past few months (OK, who are we kidding...the past six months!), I'm back to clean eating and am fully on the exercise train to get ready for what I hope to be a fast Fall half.  Clothes that felt really tight in Chicago are almost comfortable now, so I know things are going in the right direction.  Out of curiosity, I weighed myself for the first time in months...while I definitely had gained weight since the new year, the scale doesn't show much of a change even though I can see and feel a difference.  Whatevs.  Having been a scale junkie before, I never thought I'd ever get to this point, but I honestly don't care what the scale says.  Previously if I didn't like what I saw on the scale I would have been devastated...but this time I actually just thought meh...some clean eating and exercise will get me back on track.  As long as my clothes fi, and I look and feel healthy, athletic and strong, it's all good.  So while I'm happy that I'm getting a little less fluffy and a lot stronger, what I'm even happier about is the shift in how I feel about the might not sound like a big deal, but for me it is.

 So what's my goal if the scale is irrelevant?  I have a cute pair of Club Monaco skinny black pants I bought just before going to Chicago that I could barely squeeze myself into when I started Operation Back At 'Er, and while there is still some muffin top spillage going on, I can actually get them up now without it feeling like I have a tourniquet around my waist.  These have now become my target outfit, so once I can get these suckers done up without cutting off my circulation, I'll be happy.  Gettin' there, slowly but surely.

Monday, July 2, 2012

MacMillan and Me

A few weeks ago I unfortunately missed the run clinic where pacing was discussed, so I was looking around online to see what paces I should be training at to attain a 1:50 half.  I've heard about the MacMillan Running Calculator, so decided to punch my deets in and see what came up.


Endurance Workouts:
Recovery jogs:  6:26 to 6:45/km
Long runs:  5:49 to 6:26/km
Easy runs:  5:49 to 6:08/km

Stamina Workouts:
Steady state runs:  5:14 to 5:23/km
Tempo runs:  5:01 to 5:14/km
Tempo intervals:  4:57 to 5:07/km
Cruise intervals - 1000m:  4:54 to 5:00/km

After taking my thumb out of my mouth and uncurling myself from the fetal position, I took a hard look at the numbers.  The long run pace sounds fairly reasonable, and this week's long run (10K) was done at a 5:42/km I could probably actually slow it down a bit.  It's the stamina workouts that I'm a little worried about!  Yikes...I know the whole point of these is to build stamina in my legs...but wow, tempo runs at 5:01 to 5:14/km sounds really, really fast.  A 1:50 half means a 5:13/km pace so it's not far off, but I'm just having a hard time imagining I can keep that kind of pace for 21.1 kms when I fought and struggled to keep up a 5:29/km pace last week at the Scotiabank.   

Methinks I have a lot of work ahead of me.