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Let the Journey Begin!

2 Feb

It’s been dark and wet in Vancouver. Maybe I’m exaggerating but it felt as though I hadn’t seen the sun for over a month. With much struggle I woke every morning to darkness.  My commutes were grey, I sat at my desk and watched the rain fall and then I returned home to the night. Coworkers and friends were grumpy and irritable; lack of vitamin D will do that to the cheeriest of people. It’s seasonal disorder or more simply put “the January Blahs”. Those of you who’ve been following my blog for a while know well enough I’m not a big fan of running in the rain, so it should come as no surprise when I say that I didn’t run in January; that is until Sunday morning when I rose to the blazing sun.  I inhaled my oatmeal and couldn’t get my sneakers on fast enough! With no expectation of my performance I bolted out the door with my ipod in hand. I must admit I’d been hard on my body; consuming alcohol and even choking back the odd cigarette while out with friends. Plus my exercise this year had been reduced to about 3-4 hours a week on my indoor bike trainer and that’s about it; I anticipated I wasn’t going to be at my best and was fully prepared to take it easy, enjoy the run and soak up the rays.

I headed left towards Science World. By the time I got to the South Side of False Creek all thoughts had slipped away and I pick up my pace. “I forgot how therapeutic running is!” As I  ran over Burrard Bridge I decided to take the opportunity to enjoy our spectacular scenery.

When I arrived home I realized I still had it in me; running a 10k in fifty three minutes. I felt fantastic! The sun decided to bless the Vancouverites on Monday as well, so I ran again. That evening registration for the Chicago 2011 marathon opened. I remembered all the buzz around this race last year and knew I had to be part of it this time around.  My friend CC, BonBon and I are registered and will be running along with 45,000 other participant’s on Oct 9, 2011.  I’m eager to start training and I am determined to break new personal bests. But I’m also super excited for my friends; they’ve committed to a training journey that will challenge and change their minds and bodies.  A journey, which only a small percentage of people in the world dare embark on; and I can’t wait for them to cross the finish line and realize that absolutely anything is possible!

PT Girl x0

Viva Las Vegas

15 Dec

Almost two weeks have gone by since I landed in Las Vegas. Being my sixth visit to Sin City I knew how trying it was going to be to resist temptation for the two days prior to the race. I was a bundle of nerves, doubting myself. “I’m not ready!” I said to my friend CC. “Calm down or I’m going to slip you a roofie! You’re ready!!” She said.  We were tucked in bed by ten pm on Saturday; restless I tossed and turned as butterflies had a party in my belly. I stared at the ceiling replaying my training (or lack thereof) over in my mind. The alarm went off at 4:45 am; we laid in our beds waiting for our pre ordered breakfast to be delivered. Before leaving I filled my water bottle with XXX Vitamin Water, put six Gu candies cut in half in my back pocket and popped an electrolyte pill.

The Rock & Roll Marathon started and ended at the Mandalay Bay Hotel. Standing amongst 27,000 other runners a surreal calm overcame me; confident all of a sudden I was ready to go! The gun went off. We didn’t move, it was well over fifteen minutes later when we finally crossed the start line. “See you girls at the finish.” I waved and took off.  The entire strip was closed off for the race. This was an unbelievable way to see it in its entirety. In all my visits here I’d never walked more than two blocks of the strip at once; maybe because I’m usually inebriated and wearing five inch heels?!  I ran by MGM Grand and New York New York. I flew by the Bellagio and then the Venetian. Feeling fantastic I passed the Wynn and then headed out towards Old Vegas.  I passed a cheap motel and saw an old man handing out draft beers to the runners. “Oh that would add to my story…” I thought smiling at him and shaking my head as to say no thanks. All of a sudden I found myself stuck behind a large group of runners; feeling good I decided to hop on the side walk to pass them. I looked up for a second to acknowledge a lady that was cheering me on and before I knew it, I was ejected through the air and hit pavement, skidding on the entire right side of my body. I picked myself up before the lady had a chance to make it over to me “Oh my god are you ok?” she asked concerned.  The right sleeve of my shirt had been torn and I could feel a burning sensation and see some blood. “I’m fine.” I said and took off again. Leave it up to me to slip on the one lonely Gu pack that was on the sidewalk.  I could feel my right hip throbbing from the road rash as well but refused to let it slow me down. As I veered back onto the strip at mile eight I’d manage to completely forget about my spill. From that point on, without stopping I forced myself to grab a cup of water from each station. As I approached the thirteenth mile I could see the excitement in many of the half marathoner’s, picking up speed to get to the finish line. I on the other hand popped another electrolyte pill and turned right gearing up for the second half of my race. I ran over the hill with ease and was still feeling fabulous at fifteen miles. I’d created the perfect play list which kept me pumped. Nothing like Boney M. Christmas song followed up by some dirty Ke$ha to keep me going. At eighteen miles I started to feel my legs and I slowed a little bit. But then my mind went to a place I didn’t know existed, a place where no thoughts existed, a place where the only thing that mattered was keeping a nice happy pace. A place that made me run fast, easy, & smooth without having to think about it. “It’s all new miles from here on, so make em’ count.” I thought as I ran by the twenty-one mile marker. I tried to relish the last few miles pretending it was just another Saturday morning hangover run rather than fixate on the fact it was the last 5 miles of a marathon; physiologically this actually made the last leg of the run enjoyable. As I ran back over the hilly bridge I gained momentum knowing I was mere minutes away from finishing. I started to run faster; just before I turned back onto the strip I noticed a big sign that said “26.2 milesand I started to get chocked up. “No! no! Get it together and run!” Five hundred meters away from the finish I saw my friends on the side lines yelling “GO PT GIRL!!!!” waving their pom poms. This gave me the extra kick I needed to cross the finish without slowing.

4:13:10 and I was done my very first marathon!  I was totally pumped!! I’d meet my goal of 6 minutes per kilometers down to the second.

I walked round with a bagel in one hand and water bottle in the other.  It was impossible to find my friends in a sea of 50,000 people and visualizations of a hot shower was over -powering so I made it to the taxi line up at the front of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. There I was faced with a lineup of thirty people that weren’t moving. Frustrated after standing there for thirty minutes I eyed a stretch limo that had just pulled up and next thing I knew I was sitting in the back. Some things are just worth paying for!

My friend CC ran her first half marathon in five years , her friend Bonbon took ten minutes off her previous half marathon time and I ran my first marathon; needless to say we were all high on adrenaline and after being “good” for two nights were ready for a night on the town. All the girls got dolled up; I wore a mini dress and four inch heels. After some great eats at TAO we made our way to The Bank at the Bellagio. Twelve girls = free cover and too many free drinks :) We laughed hard, danced the night away under fake snow and meet tones of random fun people (and some douchebags as well).  The girls slowly dropped off and by three am there were only the last four hard core standing. We decided it would be best to head back to our hotel, the Aria. A riveting conversation with the taxi drivers had us in stitches as we stumbled out.  Some chicken wings, ten lapse around the casino chatting on the phone and another glass of wine (not necessarily in that order) and next thing I knew it was five am. I’d been up for 24 hours… then I crashed!!

In summary I must say this was the best first marathon I could have ever asked for. I wouldn’t change a single thing! I want to thank all my friends and family for their support as well as their understanding of my neuroticism.  A special thanks to IronMike who’s been there since my first ten k race telling me “I can do it!” Three year ago when he said “Watch out it’s a slippery slope you’ll be running marathons soon!” I laughed and said “As if, never!”

“To describe the agony of a marathon to someone who’s never run it is like trying to explain color to someone who was born blind.” Jerome Drayton

PT Girl xo

Endings and New Beginnings

28 Nov

The weekend after I got back from New Orleans I geared up to run 34 km with IronMike and was hit with a severe dose of reality! My legs were heavy, my breathing was erratic and my knee was killing me. Defeated I grabbed a cab at 20 km and went home.  That week I hydrated and gave my body proper nutrition. I stretched at hot yoga, popped fish oil and bought new sneakers. The following Friday IronMike and I attempted the long run again.  Up until the 27th kilometer I was feeling great and kept well under six minutes per kilometer. As we ran over Burrard Bridge (around 32 km) my glutes and hamstrings got really tight, my legs slowed and my mind went to a dark place. “Why the f** am I doing this? I want to stop! This is mad!” I thought. Then out of nowhere I pulled it together. “It’s Friday night after a long day at work and I’m running 30+ kilometers… I can finish this!” We rounded the corner and there was my condo. “That’s it!” I said stopping and instantly stiffening up; there was a pain in my legs I’d never felt before. After a difficult stretch and a hot shower I poured myself a strong drink to numb the pain and slept like a baby for eleven hours.

Marathon training was the furthest thing from my mind the following weekend as I sat in the back of a town car with my girlfriends and drove around Sonoma on a wine tasting tour; which was followed by a night of debacles out at the bar in San Francisco.

As this difficult year approaches an end certain events and people I’ve stumbled upon in the past month have unintentionally made me evaluate other aspects of my life. It’s ironic how situations and people who once upon a time were my biggest motivators deliberately or not have become the contrary. I know everyone comes into our lives for a reason; some are meant to be around for a long time and others for a short time.  Although I feel all endings are sad I’m focusing on the positive aspects; such as the knowledge that was passed along and the athletic growth I’ve gained.

With that being said I’ve started a different training program with a new triathlon coach named Al.  We meet at the pool this week because the 3.8 km Iron Man swim is my biggest concern.  Al’s training approach and philosophy is different than what I’ve experienced in the past but let’s be honest, I’m venturing into foreign territory. I think it’s wise to be guided by a professional rather than going at it alone and blinded folded?! “You don’t know me but you have to just trust the program!” Al said after we spent an hour and half doing drills in the pool. Afterward we went for dinner to discussed my previous training. We talked about my reasons for signing up for Iron Man,  how much time I have to train weekly, as well as my intense race schedule for 2011. I left the meeting feeling confident that I’ve made the right choice by hiring him. He’s extremely experienced and will be there to keep me accountable on a weekly basis.

This Saturday I woke up and realized that somewhere between my work schedule and my travels I’d gone two weeks without running (again). Of course I panicked thinking I’ve ‘lost my fitness’ and got out there right away.  My legs wanted to run and they wanted to run fast. I ran nine km in forty-eight minutes and felt fantastic!  So when my friend CC asked me to go along with her on a 18 km run this morning I said “Why not?!”

At this time next week I will hopefully be a marathoner.  I admit I’ve been somewhat unhealthy lately; drinking, not eating as well as I should and messing with my sleeping patterns. But I wouldn’t change a thing, nor is there anything I can do at this point; no amount of running or training will make me faster or stronger by next week. I recognize I could have done more. I stopped hitting the track and running my hill drills; I was inconsistent with my training these past four weeks. But I’m not going to worry about it. I’m mentally preparing myself and I’m excited to run! I’m excited to experience the pain! I’m going to Vegas to run my first marathon. Life is good!!!

PT Girl xo

Water, Salt and Sugar

18 Oct

I’ve had several conversations with PT Girl about eating and drinking while running. Believe me, I understand why people don’t want to do it. When I first got one of the water belts I felt pretty goofy and it chafed in a bunch of new places. But here are the three things I think you should consume while training and why. Believe me, it will make you faster on longer distances.

First though, I know everyone is different and below is what I do. I think everyone should do  what works for them. But hopefully by seeing what I do, you’ll get some ideas and invest the time to figure out what will work for you and assist at making you faster.

Water

The first and most important is water. If you become dehydrated, you will feel like crap, you will be slow and eventually things will start shutting down. Think about doing Ironman for 12 hours in +30°C (+86°F). If you don’t drink a lot of water, you won’t finish. As it is, you will likely loose 5-10 pounds during the race and most of that will be water.

For me, what works is a water bottle with a strap that lets me hold it in my hand. Something like this but I replaced the bottle with one that works for me and has a wide opening for filling up quickly and easily. It doesn’t matter what you use, but you need to be comfortable with it and train with it.

Again personally, I find I can run or ride for 2 hours without drinking. But if I’m in a race, I’ll likely take a bottle just because I know it makes me faster. Anything over 2 hours, whether running or riding, I try to drink at least one bottle (750ml) per hour.

But again, that’s going to depend on how much I’m sweating, which depends on clothes, temperature, humidity and altitude and of course how hung over I am. Among other things, hills, shade, rain, speed, and probably how much I’m talking. Of course how much you need will be dependent on these and other things. But drink early and drink often. It is absolutely critical for anything long distance training.

It is possible to drink too much. Drinking too much at an aide station will result in water sloshing around in your stomach and you might cramp. The second time I did Ironman, I drank as if it was hot and it wasn’t. I think I had to stop and pee 3 times. Not a big deal you would think, but I was 30 seconds over my goal time. Not too bad after 12 hours, but believe me, I wish I had drank less!

But I still believe drinking too much is way better than not drinking enough. I took over 30 minutes off my previous IM time, so I was pretty happy and a big part of that was being more hydrated. Okay, fairly happy.

Salt

I was going to put sugar next, but salt is probably more important for me. Might not be for you. Without enough salt, muscles cramp and which will dramatically impact your time. I went on a very hilly 120km ride one time and was cramping most of the way. I got through it, but it was very uncomfortable. I know others who have done similar things. Even my last (third) IM I could feel my quads starting to cramp near the end of the ride. But I upped the salt a little and didn’t cramp on the run.

I say salt, but it is more complicated than that. You need electrolytes. This is essential a combination of different minerals that is included in your sweat. There are lots of products on the market but I use Endurolytes by Hammer. I have also used other products, but these are simple and always work for me.

As with water, I generally think I can get away with 2 hours without needing to take any. But often I’ll take one if I’m going for a 1+ hour swim. If I’m riding for 2 hours and then running for 1, I’ll take one before I start on the run. For IM, I’ve found that this works: one in the morning before the race, one when I get out of the swim, one every hour on the ride and then one per hour on the run.

As with water, how much you need is tied to how much you are sweating. While it’s possible to take too much, generally it’s better to take more rather than less. I talked to a doctor once about taking too much and she said an upset stomach would likely be the only immediate cause for concern. Of course you don’t want to take too much of anything over a long period of time. But you don’t want your calves cramping while swimming or when you’re running up a hill either.

But for long distances, this is as absolutely necessary as water. Unless you don’t sweat.

Sugar

The hardest of all these is food. Generally I find I can go 3 hours without food of any kind, but even then it is slowing me down. Any longer and I know I’m just going to get slower and slower.

But what to eat? And how much?

Generally, the main thing about eating is to get calories into your body in a way that it can process them. There are hundreds of products out there that will help you do this, but here are some general guidelines:

Not all calories are created equal!
You’ve probably heard about fructose and glucose, cane sugar and starch. All of these can provide your body with calories, but  your body processes them in different ways and at different speeds.

Carbo-loading pasta dinners and typical before big races. Pasta, potatoes and other starchy foods are a good way to get calories into your body, but it takes time for your body to process those starches. Personally, I avoid starchy foods the night before a race. I find my body hasn’t had time to process them. Two nights before works for me and that’s what I do. But during a race, or a long training session, generally your body isn’t going to be able to process those starches fast enough for them to benefit your body during the race.

“Normal” Sugars
Most sugar you see on a regular basis is glucose and/or fructose. While these sugars can provide your body with instant calories, you need to be very careful with them. If the concentration of sugar in what you are eating or drinking is too high, your body will draw water away from other places to allow your stomach to process them. The result is you feel like crap and you are going to be affected like you are getting dehydrated even if you are drinking.

I hate to put down products, but you’ll find many distance athletes will avoid Gatorade even when it’s free, provided by the race.  The reason is that the concentration of whatever sugar they use is too high and it makes them feel like crap. If I am in a situation where I need Gatorade (or just about all of the equivalent drinks) I will take as much water as I take Gatorade – cutting the concentration in half. That said, I know people who run long distance and happily drink the free Gatorade the whole time. Which kind are you? You need to know!

Another good example is gels. All gels are, by their nature, super concentrated. I use gels when I’m on long rides and even sometimes on long runs. If I’m doing a half IM or full, I use gels. But it is EXTREMELY important to make sure you are taking enough water when you use them. Otherwise you will (probably, some people have stomaches of steel) feel like crap.

What works best for me is adding maltodextrin to my water. Maltodextrin is a sugar like glucose or fructose, but your body is able to digest it in higher concentrations. So you get more bang for your buck. Using a conservative concentration, I can get 400 calories in a 750ml water bottle. I call it potato water – 400 calories is like eating a POUND of potatoes. Very hard to get that many calories in anything else. So don’t drink this unless you are going distances or if you need to gain weight.

Maltodextrin is also completely tasteless. That’s right, it doesn’t taste sweet. One of the biggest complaints I hear from people doing long distances is the idea of drinking MORE Gatorade after 6 or 8 or 15 hours.  Because water with maltodextrin has no taste, you don’t need to worry about getting sick of it. Finding maltodextrin will likely be easy – I get a huge tub of it from a local nutrition/vitamin store for $14. Lasts me multiple seasons.

How much? If I’m trying to run a fast half marathon, I’ll take a bottle of “potato water”. If I’m going to be training more than 3 hours, I’ll have some kind of food, but usually I don’t do potato water unless I’m doing over 6. Which doesn’t happen too often.

For IM, I had some before the race, a bottle in my swim/bike transition, 3 on my bike at the start, 3 at the aide station half way through, one in my bike/run transition, one on the run on the way out and one on the run on the way back. So 9 or 10, because I don’t finish them all. Ya, around 4,000 calories. Plus probably 5-8 gels at 100 calories per. And no, that isn’t enough – according to my heart rate monitor, I burned about 5,400 calories one year and that wasn’t counting the swim.

Food and getting calories is the most personal part of all this. You need to find what works for you. And the only way you can do that is to make sure you’re trying things during your training. If you don’t, odds are you won’t have nearly as good a race as you could have because something won’t be working well.

Funny story to give you an idea. Third Ironman I did all of the above. But very little solid food. I was having a very tough time getting through the last of the run despite all the people there to cheer me on (PT Girl, Dr. Jones and others). I was probably 3-4k from the end and grabbed a slice of orange from an aide station. I didn’t know if it would help or hurt, but wanted to give it a try. I bit into it and suddenly was AMAZINGLY hungry! I desperately had to have solid food! I knew there would be food at the end so I pushed and went faster, just to get some of that solid food. And man, that was some of the best food I’ve ever had!

So please, get out there and try eating while training. I’m a convert and once you find what works for you, you’ll be a convert too.

Iron Mike


It’s About Time!

12 Oct

When my friend CC asked me to run the BMO Okanogan Half Marathon I figured I’d surely be guaranteed a dry race. But as my luck would have it I stood near the start line with less than three minutes before the gun went off with thousand of other racers and was blessed with a monsoon. “I came here from Calgary to run.” said a petit lady standing beside me. “Doesn’t look like you’ll need those!” I pointed at the sunglasses on the top of her head.  In front of me stood a tall lanky man wearing rabbit ears. He was the 1:50 race bunny. “Hummm wonder if I should try and keep up wi th him.” I pondered.

As the race started I decided to attempt to stick with Bunny 150. Less than two kilometers ran I noticed my shoe lace was untied. “Dammit!” I ran over to the right side of the street doing my best to move away from the runners to bend over. I must have lost 30 seconds; for whatever reason I just couldn’t get my shoe tied up. Once laced up, I jumped up and sprinted as fast as possible to get back behind Bunny 150. As my body warmed up my pace increased and I passed right by Bunny 150. “There no way he’s running at the proper pace.” I thought.

The temperature was warm which made me grateful for the rain; it was a perfect combination. Around kilometer twelve I was feeling strong and enjoying my tunes when out of nowhere Bunny 150 zipped passed me! I looked down at my Garmin and realized I’d slowed down a bit. Since I was ahead of my projected pace I was annoyed to realize that I still had to fight a few inner battles. The struggles lasted for about three kilometers when I decided to take back control and refocused. “Fast & easy! Fast & easy! Fast & easy!” I kept repeating over my head; and as always my pace picked up, my breathing calmed down and I started cruising.

Around kilometer seventeen I decided to play my ‘hunting game’. I started this game a few months ago as I tried to chase down a few cuties in the park. The rules are simple. Find your PREY running ahead of you. HUNT by focusing on that person and slowly start making my way closer to them until finally KILL by pass them. I found my prey; he was blond, tall with broad shoulders and wearing a grey and back Nike long sleeve. Running about ten feet ahead of me he was just the motovation I needed to push harder. I managed to pass Mr. Good Looking; feeling mighty fine I picked up a bit more speed.

After seeing the 19 kilometer marker my game was no longer required. My adrenaline kicked in knowing it was less than eleven minutes to the finish line.

I did it… FINALLY!!!  I broke two hours and demolished my previous personal best by seven minutes, finishing in 1:53:47

I grabbed my medal and scanned the crowed looking for CC. She’d participated in the 10 km run and would have finished way before me, so she had to be around. I saw her, waved, yelled and jumped up and down. “What is she looking at?” I thought. Seems CC was also preoccupied eyeing Mr. Good Looking who somehow managed to pass me. “Cheers!” We clanged our water bottles together smiling and feeling fabulous about our runs.

Next stop, Las Vegas Rock and Roll Marathon. With seven weeks of training I’m still somewhat  confident I’ll be able to meet my goal of running my first marathon in sub 4 hours.

PT Girl xo

Who am I?

6 Oct

Last night I picked up my irun magazine and was reading the article “The Long Revisited” by Erin Sheared.

The article focused mainly on first time marathoners. It outlined many training programs and discussed how long and how fast you should run before your first big race.

In summary it suggests that no first timers should ever go over 32 km (or a three and half hour run). It advises first timers to do two 30 km runs allowing themselves plenty of time to taper off  prior to race day. “Huh?? 30 km…that’s it??”  Sorry but this is where I have to interject. This concept boggles my mind. Isn’t the “runners’ wall” at 35 km? So why wouldn’t a program recommend at least one 36 km run to help mentally and physically prepare you to overcome this defying obstacle?

I’ve never been one to follow the rules. I’m definitely the black sheep of the family and I’ve always liked doing things my own way.  So I am veering off the published training programs and creating my own course. Only time will tell if I am being foolish.

A few weeks ago I ran 30 km in 2h42mins and felt fantastic. With eight weeks to my first marathon my plan is to increase my distance by 3 km each long run, bringing me up to 39 km by the start of November. This will give me four weeks to taper and rest before the Las Vegas Rock & Roll Marathon.

Marathon training programs like Hal Higdon’s have guided millions of people across the finish line so who the heck am I to say they are wrong?  Trust me; I’m aware I am no one. With only three half marathons behind me (4 after this weekend BMO Half in Kelowna ) I am clearly still a novice runner.  But I know my strengths and my weaknesses. I know how much I can push myself and I know what my boundaries are. But most importantly, I know what mental preparation is required for me to cross the finish line.

PT Girl xo

Quick Update

26 Sep

A lot has happened in the last few weeks but honestly I haven’t felt like writing. I’ve been keeping to myself these days; focusing on my training and work.

My personal training sessions have been hard.  I’m not sure if it’s my frame of mind or if deWolf is pushing me harder? The track and the hill sprints combined with yoga once a week are definitely proving to be worthwhile.

A) Yoga:  Everyone has been telling me since day one to stretch more. I’ve been going to Infrared Yoga once a week for about two months now and I can definitely see a difference in my flexibility.

B) Hills: I’ve been squeezing them in once a week.

C) Speed work: I’ve hit the track with deWolf and its been brutal each time. He makes me run six 800 meter sprints. (my speed ranges from 3:23 – 3:58) If whine or complain I don’t want to go again deWolf reminds me “The only way get faster is to run fast!”

My last few long runs have been amazing; not only am I getting faster, it seems almost effortless.   I remember reading about this phenomenon in Born to Run by Christopher McDougall “Think, Easy, Light, Smooth, and Fast.” On yesterday run I managed three new personal records:

  • Fastest 10 km 51:50
  • Fastest 21.1 km 1:54:50
  • Longest run 29 km 2:42:10

Swimming on the other hand has been a huge obstacle, holding me back from contemplating triathlons in the past. I thought best to face this fear head on; so I signed up for an adult swimming class a few weeks ago. With much apprehension I attempted a few laps in the pool sans water wings before my first lesson.

After only two classes and one visit to the pool on my own and I’m wondering where my apprehension ever came from?  I know I have a long way to go before I build up the endurance I’ll need to complete the 3.8 km swim at IronMan Canada but I feel confident in the water and more importantly I’m enjoying it; that’s half the battle right?

I’ve been warned against putting off riding, so last weekend I went shopping with my friend Mike. As we entered the first bike shop Mike said to the sales guy “She’s looking for a bike for IronMan.” In a condescending tone he replied “You don’t have a bike? How are you training? You know the ride is 180km?” Instantly irritated I snapped back “The only bike I own has a basket! As for training I’m here and I have a year don’t I?!” The sale guy seems taken aback “Fair enough.” he said as he started his pitch on the neon green Quintana Roo tri bike, which was on sale for $3600. I’m a sucker or he was a good sales person because I was actually contemplating purchasing it on the spot. Luckily Mike talked some sense into me “If it was me, I’d looked a bit more; it will be here later if you still want it.” We went to three other bike shops and I searched relentlessly for a my bike to jump out at me. I was sure that shopping for a bike was like shopping for anything else, I would just know it’s the one when I see it,  won’t  I? Unfortunately, I returned home emptied handed and feeling disappointed. There was a pink tri bike online I really liked but the quality of the component package wasn’t as good as other options that were available to me in the same price range.  I could buy so many things for the price of a bike. I could revamp my wardrobe or better yet, I could finally get that gorgeous Gucci purse I’ve been wanting to buy for years… sigh…

I know I would love and cherish the Gucci purse for years to come. Black, leather and classic looking it would fabulously compliment many of my outfits. Yet, justifying the purchase of tri bike I have no way of knowing if I’ll even enjoy seemed to come easier.

PT Girl xo

My First Marathon

21 Aug

I started training for my first marathon this week. I have 18 weeks until I run the Rock & Roll in Las Vegas; where everything is excessive, sinful and neon lit. “Fitting…right?”

Monday Hill Training: I felt good after this first run/interval session. I didn’t stop my Garmin and I managed to do the entire 6 km (including the 5 hills drills) at 6min/km. This hill is my secret weapon.  “Watch out…” Every Monday I will run 5 to 10 – 200 meters hills drills. The route there and back is about 5 km and the goal is to run this short distance as quickly as humanly possible.

Tuesday Cross Training/PT Session: I woke at the crack of dawn to meet my trainer at 6:30 a.m. Sleep deprivation left me feeling weak and unmotivated :(

Wednesday Medium Run: This was a tough day. I woke up grumpy and wasn’t able to shake it. After work all I wanted to do was go home, eat junk food and curl up on the sofa with my fur baby Gucci; I refused to mess up on my first week of training though. So I pushed away all thought of comfort food and laziness, I put my sneakers on and set out for the long loop around False Creek. The first few kilometers were horrible; negative thoughts swarmed my mind. “WTF was I thinking signing up for a marathon… have I gone mad?” The sea wall was packed and the wind was blowing against me. These factors were making me crabbier and when I got to the third kilometer I had the urge to stop and go home. “Suck it up! Seriously big baby! *&%$ You will train and you will kick ass!” I told myself. All of a sudden my pace picked up and I started feeling better.  As I rounded the bend to home I notice that I’d finished 9 km in 48:34 (5:30 per km).  I was pretty pleased with that considering my slow start.

Thursday Cross Training /PT session: This session was fun; probably because I spent so much time chatting and laughing. “I wanna beat Oprah’s marathon time…” I blabbed as I did my sit ups. “What was her time?” de Wolf asked “In 94’ she finished in 4:29:15” I responded smirking in anticipation of his disapproval. He stop in his track and looked at me in disbelief “Jessh!! PT Girl!! Darn right you’re going to beat Oprah!” I burst out laughing! He seems to have a crazy notion that I am way more capable (aka faster) than I actual am. I don’t quite know what to do with that sometimes….To be honest my true goal is run the marathon at 6min/km. de Wolf thinks I should aim for under 6min/km. Only time will tell but right now, today, as I sit at my desk after gorging on a pecan tart… this seems unrealistic.

Friday Rest Day: Mental preparation for 25 km tomorrow morning.

Saturday 24 km: Longest run ever. My calves were killing me from the ball thrusts from Thursday’s PT session but I was well rested; which is unusual.  I felt strong and kept under 6 min/km. Half way around Stanley Park I saw my friend Alicia playing with her dog Jetsom at the beach “Hey!! How you doing??… Can’t stop… ping you later” I waved.  My legs started to slow around 17.5 km and I struggled to keep my pace, falling behind.  I didn’t bring gels or Cliff bloks and ran out of vitamin water at the ninetieth kilometer. I had the intention of running 25 km but when I approached my place and saw that my Garmin said 24 km the thought of water made me salivate and I decided to call it a day!

I must admit I struggled at certain point during this run and started to question why I’ve set this new goal.  But I know myself; there is no turning back now. Pushing forward on bad days or when it gets tough is what fitness journeys are all about. If it was always  fun & easy then everyone would do it! If it didn’t take determination, persistence and pain the awesome feeling of achievement wouldn’t exist!

PT Girl xo

I am an “N”

12 Aug

This week wasn’t any better than last. Work is hectic because both of my clients are moving at the end of the month. On top of that I still have unresolved business that is weighing heavy on my shoulders; with lots on my plate already why did I sign up for my first marathon?  I had a moment  at the office where I boasted about an 18 km run; a bit smug I got carried away and before I knew it was typing in my credit card number online and registered for the Las Vegas Rock & Roll marathon on Dec 5, 2010. I’m an impulse buyer and never second guess a purchase. Shoes, purses, running gear, dresses and suits for the office I’ll bring up to the till with little regret. But this was different; pressing the ‘purchase’ button evoked instant buyer’s remorse!! “What the hell was I think…?”

A few days (and short runs later) I started to process and deal. I started rationalizing my decision, training for something more challenging might be exactly what I require right now; a grander goal to keep me focused and positive.

I’m bound to have uncontrollable interruptions during my training so alleviating any setbacks I do have control over is very important. I must remain injury free; for that reason I have made the following promises to myself.

“I, PT Girl swear to stretch after each run. I swear to attend one yoga class a week. I swear to see my RMT once a month (at minimum). I swear to take my fish oil pills daily and I swear to nourish and rest my body as required”

My friend Julie invited me to join CC and herself to a yoga class on Sunday afternoon. If you’ve been following my blog or tweets you know that yoga is not my forte and I’d usually decline the invitation. “Yes! Yes! I will come.  What’s the address?” I said. To my surprise this was no typical yoga class.

This was Infrared Yoga. I’ve been in infrared saunas before, I like the way the heat gets distributed and know of its many health benefits.

  • Promotes weight loss
  • Improves your immune system
  • Improves your strength and vitality
  • Helps cure several skin diseases like eczema, psoriasis,  and acne
  • Strengthens the cardio-vascular system
  • Helps control your blood pressure
  • Detoxifies your body
  • Gives you more energy and relieves stress
  • Relieves pain (joint pain, sore muscles, arthritis)
  • Helps control your cholesterol level
  • Helps treat bronchitis
  • and many more….

The small private studio (holds up to 6) was immaculately clean and beautifully lit with little red candles along the mirrored wall. It’s located in the heart of Vancouver and in last Sunday’s class it was just us three girls and the awesome yoga teacher. Upbeat, positive and full of confidence this yoga class is a more then a hot stretch session, it’s a self esteem booster!  The close personal attention from Sarah the teacher was fantastic.  She knows how to mold her class to her students’ personalities. I’m frightfully inflexible; it’s hard to believe that once upon a time I was able to do the split! These days I’d be happy to see any kind of elasticity. Like most yoga classes the vibe was mellow and relaxing but Sarah was quick to read that cracking jokes and making fun comments would be more then welcomed by us gals. At the end of the 60 minutes I felt fully relaxed! “… yes I will be back next Sunday!” I said thanking Sarah.

My body was feeling great on Monday and was ready for a long run.  The weather was overcast and 19 degrees, which is perfect!  I set out with no specific goal; I just wanted to let my mind go blank… so I ran and ran and ran some more, clocking 19 km. I kept a steady and easily sustainable pace of 5:52 per km.

Tuesday morning I had to face Toby my RMT. O.M.G. that was the most torturous 45 minutes of my life! How can my body feel so good yet be so stiff, tight and knotted?? “I’m barely applying any pressure; you are so tight. You have to stretch!” Toby told me again.  “To hell with this! I can’t take another excruciating massage like this” I thought to myself as she rubbed out the knots in my lower back, I vowed to religiously to stretch and attend yoga.

I’m excited about my marathon training. I’m starting this weekend by attempting a 24-25 km run (my longest run ever).  But as a marathon NOVICE I would like to ask my followers for some tips and advice. Dos & don’ts. Recommended books or training programs. HELP!!

PT Girl xo