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Spring Cleaning

7 Apr

My spring cleaning is never planned or scheduled.  Every year a strange feeling builds inside me for a few weeks. I get antsy and irritable. My thoughts are scrambled and everything feels chaotic. I usually can’t pinpoint what’s bothering me and that makes me even grumpier. When I’m crabby I tend to internalize and question everything. “What the hell I’m I doing with this life of mine!?” 

This year like most years, “IT” took over when least expected. I’d just showered after my afternoon run and was sipping my coffee and watching CNN when I decided to empty the dishwasher.  Then out of nowhere “IT” consumed me. I went into a cleaning frenzy, I was in a trance; boxing up clothes for donation, recycling endless paper, throwing away junk that I’ve accumulated over the year, reorganizing cupboards and drawers and scrubbing my home from top to bottom. Five hours flew by; there was no stopping me. I ignored my phone calls and text messages; which if you know me, is almost unheard of.  My stomach growled but I didn’t eat or even sit down for a second. Well past dinner time I put the last load of laundry in the drier. I was sweaty, dirty and I exhausted but as I looked around at my organized, sparkling home a sense of peace swept over me.  All was well again!

Somewhere between throwing out needless clutter and lining up my glasses perfectly all my meddled thoughts filed themselves in order without any real effort on my behalf.

With a clear head I was finally able to focus on my training again. My first week back at it I ran over 40 kilometers and to be honest I felt pretty cocky. “Piece of cake!” I thought. Week two handed me a severe dose of reality; my longest run since my marathon in December was a 16 km last Saturday and it kicked my butt. My breathing was out of control, my pace was inconsistent and my legs were easily tired.  It took everything in me to maintain a sub six minute per km pace. “This winter has really taken a toll on my cardio”.  I don’t know if it’s right or wrong but this week I’ve been focusing on speed work. I pushed myself to the verge of throwing up while running short distance sprints. I’m hoping the agonizing pain I’ve inflicted on my lungs will in turn make my long ‘slow’ run this weekend seem more manageable. With only three weeks of training left before the BMO half marathon I’m definitely not planning on setting any personal bests but I’m looking forward to the return of race fever! Whoot Whoot!!!

 PT Girl xo

Half Way

16 Feb

After my marathon in Vegas in early December I sorta let things slide. First I told myself I was allowed a few weeks recovery, then the Holiday season arrived, which was followed by birthday celebrations and then NFL playoffs. The Super Bowl was my big finale. The culmination of circumstances made it memorable indeed but also brought forth a feeling of unhealthiness that was unshakable.

Therefore, in attempts to cleanse and get back into shape I decided to embark on a 20 day detox & fitness rebuild program.  Day one was horrible; I was sweating out champagne while riding the bike. Day two I saw my trainer for the first time since before the holidays and I seriously thought I was going to meet my maker.  I kept at it and by Sunday while out on my run I felt human again. My lungs were open; my legs were light and fast.  Day eight came and I meet with my trainer again. He pushed me much harder this time and although it was a difficult workout I didn’t feel as though I was going to collapse, I actually felt pretty strong. It’s absolutely incredible what a week sans booze, proper nutrition& hydration, good sleep and exercise can do to a body!

Yesterday was a struggle but I managed to squeeze in a 45 minutes ride on the bike. Today is day nine. I’m almost half way there but the gloom lurking over Vancouver is slowly sucking the life out of me….

PT Girl xo

1.11.11

11 Jan

2011 began as most new years’ do… hung over! The only difference is this year I was nursing my headache on the slopes at Whistler; with a little less than four hours of sleep I impressed myself by skiing all day, which was then followed by “après ski” at the Longhorn, which turned into another early morning.

My birthday was yesterday but the festivities started on Friday and didn’t stop for four days. Sharing all the highlights here would take a while but one of the best parts was sitting at Qwest Field in Seattle with my friend Alicia proudly wearing black & gold while surrounded by 67,000 Seahawk fans in blue and bad neon green. With a point spread of 10.5 in favour of the New Orleans Saints I can assure you that their loss was unexpected. I didn’t hold back my disappointment nor am I shy in expressing my dislike of the Seahawks in general but I must admit the fans were cordial and the energy in the stadium was infectious; especially when the 12th man roared!!

Amongst all the Holiday festivities I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on my fitness accomplishments as well as other aspect of my life. 2010 was filled with failures, changes and difficult decisions but 2010 also encompassed personal bests, new adventures and eye awakening moments.

So after much thought, much debate and much self inflicted guilt I’ve decided not to do Iron Man Canada this year. There, I said it!!! *gulp* I know that some of you (you know who you are) are shaking your heads at me but after making a list of pros and cons, discussing for countless hours with my friends and losing many nights of sleep I decided I had to be true to myself; my heart is not in it. Having Iron Man on my bucket list isn’t motivation enough to train over 20 hours a week right now. I’m just not in a place where I am willing to dedicate the next eight months of my life to only training.  What I do know is that over the last few months I fund a new zest for life.  My goal for 2011 is to have a balanced year that will allow for spontaneity. Focus on my work is high on my list of priorities and so is travel. But don’t get me wrong, I have no intention on losing my passion for fitness. I will spend more time skiing, snowshoeing and taking advantage of British Columbia’s great outdoors. I want to ride my bike lots this spring and I also want to get back into hiking. I’m still seeing a personal trainer, attending infrared yoga and getting lots of use out of my indoor bike trainer. I’m excited to start my new running program that will prepare me for a sub 4 hour marathon in Chicago and I will most likely throw in a few half marathons along the way.

Stay tuned, as I promise 2011 will be filled with exciting, fun fitness adventures.

PT Girl xo

IRON MAN 2010

3 Sep

My personal trainer deWolf has been preparing for the Subaru Ironman for the last twelve months. This test of endurance has to be one of the most challenging events known to men. For the second year now, Alicia and I packed up my truck and drove out to Penticton. The hotels sell out for this epic athletic event so I was forced to make unconventional arrangements. I’d found an accommodation online. When we arrived at the address my contact Shannon had gave me; Alicia and I both sensed something eerie. We stood at the front door with much apprehension; I rang the doorbell. The door swung open and an unusual blond man stood in front of us barefoot.  “Come on in. I’m Charles.” He motioned to us to follow him down a hallway and opened the second door to the left. “Here’s your room girls.” he leered. “Make yourself at home” he mumbled and walked away.

Alicia and I sat on the bed both staring at the dreadful painting on the wall. “Where’s the TV?” Alicia asked. I shrugged, opening a bottled of wine attempting to stay positive. “Where’s the heck Shannon?” I said throwing down the local tourist magazine. As fate may have it, the magazine fell open on page 7 and there looking back at me was an ad for the Summerland Lakeside Resort and Spa. “I’m calling, I’ll pay anything!  Alicia looked at me with a glimmer of hope. “Oh, ok… no lake view…yup, ok, great. We’ll take it! See you tomorrow!” I hung up. We just have to make it through one night. “This bedroom is probably rigged with spy cams.” Alicia laughed. “Let go drink!  she said grabbing her purse and walking out.

 We over indulging in great food and wine at Theo’s Greek restaurant. Afterwards we ventured down towards the IM festivities.  We saw Charles eating poutine and dancing by himself a good ten feet away from the rest of the crowd. Alicia went up to him “Hey Charles, can we get a key?” “Nah! You don’t need a key, I leave the place open all the time!” he laughed sinisterly. Stunned, we forced a smile and walked away. “We’re going to end up on Dateline!” Alicia said in all seriousness as we walked into the first pub we saw. We cozied up at the bar and ordered two more glasses of wine. All the bartenders were wearing IronMan 2010 t-shirts “I’m want one of those shirts and before the night is over one of these guys will give me a shirt! I said.  “Hahaha! You’re funny!!!! … and we aren’t going to have pay for any drinks either!!” Alicia laughed.  The place was hopping and the bartenders’ decided to mix us some flame shooters. As the liquid courage started to run through my veins I began spouting off to whoever would listen “I’m going to sign up for IronMan!!!” No one seemed to take me seriously as I sipped from the trough. (The Bartenders specialty; a bucket of all mixed alcohols)

We sat at the bar for hours chatting and laughing with many great, interesting people and as predicted we stumbled out at three a.m. with no bar tab and an IronMan t-shirt on my back! “Oh what a night!!!”

 

 

The next morning, sleep deprived we showered, packed up and got the hell out of Charles’s house.

We were ecstatic with our room at the Summerland Resort & Spa

 

We took a quick ride back into Penticton to wish deWolf good luck.  He was oddly relaxed; not showing any signs of anxiety what’s so ever. “It’s just another day of exercise” he smiled.

The morning of the IronMan race came fast and we rushed back into town to see the 3.8 km swim.

As returning IronMan supporters we were pretty familiar with the bike route and well equipped with road pops, air conditioning, tunes and snacks. We managed to meet up with my trainer about 6 or 7 times along the 180 kilometers ride.

We veered off at Keremos to grab a bite to eat. Once we returned to the highway we weren’t able to find him again so decided to catch him at the start of the run.  Standing at the seven kilometers marker the wind picked up and it started to rain. Alicia spotted him up the road and I waved my big homemade sign YOU ROCK!! He ran by us “Shoot me!” he said smiling.

We had a few hours to kill so we went back to the hotel to shower and rest. By the time we retuned it was dusk which makes it hard to see the runners clearly but I know deWolf’s stride and saw him from afar “Here he comes!” I pointed and dashed to the side of the street. “Run with me.” he said.   He mentioned his foot hurt but he didn’t even look tired. “You’re doing great! You’re almost done! I said as I handed back his water bottle. “See you at the finish line” I yelled as he took off.

As we waited for him across the finish line I watched the many other Ironman finishers rejoice with friends and family. Congratulation, after all IronMan was the very FIRST triathlon he’d even signed up for and completed!

 3.8 km swim, 180 km bike and 42.2 km run!  Crazy, impressive and extremely inspiring!

PT Girl xo

Early Morning Thoughts

31 Jul

I think we all make plans and have these grandiose ideas of what our final destination is supposed to look like.  But life is unpredictable and unbeknownst to us we are often faced with unexpected road closures and we end up in a completely different city; or in my situation country. Where did I veer off wrong? What the F** happened? My recent dilemmas have lead me to wonder how much control do we really have over our lives? How much does fate really play a role?  I wish I had the answer.

I’ve always been a firm believer that we create our own destiny,  that we can manifest anything we truly visualize and that we get back tenfold the good we give out; in the end having true power over our lives. Thus far this way of thinking has served me quite well. Unfortunately, it’s come to my attention that some things are unpredictable and are completely out of our hands no matter how much planning, thought and caution we put in. This is a tad unsettling for someone who tends to be a control freak.

Through it all, over the past few months I have learned that hard times show us who our true friends are; and I can say I am extremely grateful for the ones I have. (You all know who you are …love ya all lots xo) The cream rises to the top and the rest is just mediocrity. Besides my wonderful friends whom mean the world to me, the one constant thing I can always count on is my runs.  In the past few years I have ran for many reasons. I’ve ran to lose weight, I’ve ran to get faster, I’ve ran to prove something to myself  and to others,  I’ve ran because I am competitive and I’ve ran because it just feels damn freaking awesome!  But lately I run because I can be in command of how far I run and how many times I run. It is my sanctuary where no one can touch me; where I tune out the world that is spinning out of control around me.

Why do you run?

PT Girl xo

Aiming for Speed

14 Jul

PTGirlFrontView

Can anyone become a faster runner? Well after running three half marathons where each race I finished shy of breaking two hours by 90 seconds or less I am starting to believe that I’m not designed  to run any faster! I decided to run the Okanagan Half Marathon Oct 10, 2010 and am about to embark on a three month training program where the bulk of my energy will be focused on increasing my pace.

turtle640

The last half marathon I ran was the BMO Half in May; my official race time was 2:00:47; pace of 5:40 per km.

I used to think that I had to run more miles to run faster. I’m no longer worried about the distance of the race, as my Saturday leisurely 17 km run is one of my favorite times of the week (besides Friday afternoon cocktail hour on the patio…of course) I attempted some hill training during my last half training but focused mainly on logging miles; unfortunately running those extra miles at my regular pace didn’t turn me into a cheetah :( After talking to some friends, discussing with some trainers and a little online research it seems the only way to learn how to run faster is to get out there and run faster!  Here are a few steps that I think will help me:

Step 1

Increase your turnover (turnover refers to the number of times your right (or left) foot hits the ground in 1 minute). Obviously the faster your turnover, the more distance you cover in a given period of time. Count your current turnover rate and then aim to increase your turnover by 5 steps per minute until you eventually reach that magical 80. Elite runners usually clock around 90+ strides per minute but for us mere mortals runner a turnover of 80 is considered pretty decent.

*Note – Don’t let your feet get in front of your body.

Step 2

Push off with your big toe. This will also help to take some of the pounding out of your heels and push your body forward more effectively.

Step 3

Swing your arms forward, not across your body. Moving your arms back and forth across your body will pull your body from side to side. Aim your hands in the direction you want to go; directly in front of you.

Step 4

Incorporate speed workouts into your program. Speed workouts are a great way to increase your pace slowly and steadily over time.

Cheetah

In addition to a long run and a shorter fast run per week, here are the new rules I will be living by for the next three months:

Rule # 1 – Set a clear & realistic goal of a time you wish to beat

I want to run a 1:55 half marathon (5:27 per km) Thirteen seconds per kilometers faster

Rule #2 Use hill training to build muscle & endurance

Hill sprints at least once a week

Rule #3 Yoga & strength training to prevent injury and to increase flexibility and range of motion

Strength training twice week with my personal trainer.

2 yoga classes a month and 1 massage therapy session a month.

Rule # 4 Interval training, using sprints to increase speed as well as lung capacity

To be incorporated in each of my personal training session

Rule # 5 Give your body rest so your muscles can recover and avoid injury

I swear to take a rest day (or yoga day) a week

Does anyone have any other suggestions how this turtle can evolve into a cheetah?

PT Girl xo

Just Do It

20 Jun

It all a distant dream… my girlfriends and I went to Scottsdale AZ for a spa getaway a few weeks ago. Our flight left Vancouver, BC at 7:30 a.m. We landed in Phoenix, got the car rental, stocked up on snacks and bevies and were at the Princess Fairmont pool by 1 p.m. After a few hours in the blazing sun I headed to my first spa appointments; a sixty minute massage is just want I needed to shift into relaxation mode.

arizona 2010 001

“Beep beep beep…” I pushed the snooze button on my blackberry alarm two mornings in a row. CC and I hiked Camelback Mountain and Pinnacle Peak. We figured it would be best to start before it got to hot. Jules was perplexed by the sound of alarm clocks on vacation. “Have fun girls, I’ll be by the pool when you get back.” she yawned waving from her cloud like bed.  By 9 a.m. it was well over 100 degrees but we persisted and kept going even though I was sweating profusely and CC was showing symptoms of dehydration.

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TOP

The first hike was followed by coffee, a shower and breakfast. I had about two hours of R&R  then changed in my workout wear and headed out to the hotel gym to meet Charles the Personal Trainer for a session. I was strangely energized and ready to give er’. I was also curious to see what I’d get for a $89 +18% gratuity PT session. Twenty five minutes in Charles asked “How you feeling?” “Greeeeat!” I grinned. “Huh?” He seemed surprised then kept insisting I maneuver the most difficult variation of each exercise he presented me. Charles was really nice and was able to quickly determine how hard he could  push me. “You’ve been taught great form” he complimented. We talked about the hike I’d just done and I explained that overcoming the heat was the most challenging part for me. Camelback is a small hill compared to the Grouse GrindI told to him. “I’ll have to come to Vancouver and hike this Grouse Grind you speak about.” Charles said. The Fairmont charges $64 for a 30 minute stretch session so it was nice of Charles to include a 20 minutes stretch at the end of my session. He observed the same as every other trainer and massage therapist does “You need to stretch more!” he said. My review of my Personal Training session at the Princess Fairmont was A+. Charles was friendly, personable, knowledgeable and adaptable. If you live in the Scottsdale area or plan on traveling there and would like a good ass kicking I would recommend calling him for a workout.

The week we got back I was swamped at work and only managed to squeeze in one PT session with de Wolf and one climb up the Grouse Grind. Our first attempt of the year was executed at 6:30 a.m.  The only good thing about going that early is the lack of other ‘crazy people’ in our way.  de Wolf  suggested we go up twice but by the time I got my sorry butt to the top there was no way! “I’m not going again, not happening!!” I shouted.  How quickly I forget how hard this hike is. “How did we do this three times in a row?” I asked de Wolf reminiscing of the day last summer we hiked up the Grouse Grind three times in a row before 11 a.m. where I’d actually I finish each climb under an hour and he’d finished his well under 50 minutes each. To me that seemed impossible right now.

This week was way more productive.  I had two PT sessions where abs seemed to be the “core” focus; fitting as bikini season is upon us :) I also laced up for the first time in seven weeks and did two short seven kilometer runs. Yesterday morning after the best uninterrupted 8 hours of sleep in a very long time, I decided to attempt a real run. Out before 8 a.m. the sun was shining, Stanley Park was all mine as I enjoyed my new tunes and the great West Coast scenery. Nowhere near a record time I was still pleased to complete 17 km with ease after such a long running hiatus. So even though I haven’t been training and will probably not run a personal best I’m thinking of signing up for the Scotia half marathon next weekend. “JUST DO IT!” Right?

PT Girl xo

Back in Business

27 May

My life was chugging along quite perfectly … unfortunately perfection is an illusion that cannot be sustained. At some point we all stand at a cross road and face difficult times. I couldn’t allow my state of affairs to affect all parts of my life so it’s my training that was negatively impacted this month; unable to run and unwilling to workout I barely managed 25 km. I canceled personal training sessions, had to continually persuade myself to show up and even bolted mid session on one occasion. I was in state of “blah” that seemed unshakable. But I am pleased to announce (for my sake and for the people around me) I’ve regrouped and I’m back in business!

Determined to find my keenness I woke up at the crack of dawn yesterday and went to a  spin class for the first time in about two months. I was unhappy with the stiffness in my legs but felt fantastic afterwards. This morning I had a Personal Training session with deWolf. Near the end of the session the sunshine poked through the clouds; the blinding rays seemed symbolic of my renewed state of mind as I tried to balance a side plank on the bosu ball.

My left hip is still causing me a bit of discomfort so I’m seeing my chiropractor on Monday for what I hope will be my final visit. I‘ve stocked up on more Acid Zapper pills but most importantly I’ve managed to find my enthusiasm and I’m ready to train for the Scotia Half Marathon on June 27th.

I have lots on my agenda; two spin classes, one hike and one PT session before I leave for my “Girls Spa Getaway” to Scottsdale AZ early next week. Once there I fully intend on shopping, flopping by the pool, drinking too many alcoholic slushy cocktails and being excessively pampered; yet I can’t resist planning some fitness time. Not having to hurry to get to work or rush home makes working out idyllic.

So between frolicking in the pool, catching up on gossip with the gals, hazy poolside tanning, spa appointments and shopping I’ve booked a “cheat on deWolf” session with Charles the Personal Trainer at the Fairmont, a hike up Camelback Mountain and one (maybe two) fitness classes.

Don’t forget to pack the shades, sunblock and ibuprofen!

PT Girl xo

What’s Meant To Be ?

2 May

Yesterday I was consumed with worry. Personal troubles aside, I couldn’t stop thinking about my leg and how my injury has negatively impacted my last three weeks of training. I hadn’t had a decent run in forever “Can you forget how to run?” I kept thinking to myself.

My girlfriend Alicia brought me out for a pre-race meal at the KEG. Filet minion, baked potato and spinach salad! Yum… I tried to fall asleep early but I kept tossing and turning. This was not my usual pre-race excitement but more worry that leg may not carry me to the finish line.

I woke to overcast skies… rain was definitely upon me. Most of you know how I loathe running in the rain. “Just hold off for a few hours” I thought to myself as I stood fidgeting with my iPod in the crowd of anxious BMO runners.

The gun went off and instantly I felt a rain drop. “For f** sakes…PMS, a damaged leg and rain… this is not my race…” I cursed crossing the start line.

Amazingly, 27 minutes in I was right on pace at five kilometers. “Ok, I can do this…” I forced myself to think of nothing but my breathing. Thoughts of current events kept popping in my head and I kept pushing them aside. “Nothing else matter right now…” As I entered Stanley Park, I saw Mike and Michelle, I waved. “Hey…” Mike said starting to run alongside me “You’re doing great!! 2 hour pace bunny is way behind you! Keep it up!” Kilometers ten I was at 55 minutes. I started to brace myself as the hilliest part was coming up: seventy five meters of elevation between twelve and fourteen kilometers and half way up the sharp pulling pain in the back of my leg made a furious return. I slowed down but refused to stop (or walk) “This is not even a hill compared to the UBC!! SUCK IT UP!!!” I yelled inside.

Around kilometer sixteen Mike popped out of nowhere again running with me. “How are you feeling? You want me to run with you?” I gratefully declined knowing I would use him as a crutch. Whenever someone runs with me I automatically start whining “I’m tired, it hurts, omg… blah blah blah…” I was already a bit behind pace “Thanks Mike I’m good… gotta focus!” I pointed ahead. “Ok push it!” he yelled!

Mental battles, trying to ignore my leg pain as I pushed up the last hill under the Granville Bridge. Then my caves started to cramp making me jump out of stride. The finished line was so close. I saw Julie to my left “Go Banana!!!” then Alicia and Chris “CRANK IT!!” and I crossed the finish line…soaking wet, absolutely frozen and wobbling off my left leg.  My Garmin said 1:59:30… I should be happy? But I wasn’t… I knew I didn’t officially make it in less than 2 hours. The damn chip says 2:00:46 (MOFO, Shit… *@%^@ *!&** ….there aren’t enough swear words) Afterward I kept replaying the race in my head …and it came to me…the damn water stations!!  I had pre-picked three stations to hydrate (6km, 11km and 16km) But it tasted so good… I grabbed water five times, coming to a complete stop at the last one…IDIOT! In the end I did shaved off three minutes from last year’s race time,  felt exhilarated from the actual run and was super grateful to be surrounded by great friends.  But  I don’t feel the sense of accomplishment I was hoping for. Luckily I’ve already signed up for the Scotia Half marathon in June to redeem myself!

PS – whoever says the BMO half marathon is flat and fast is full of SHIT!

Regardless of my performance I would still like to give thanks:

Eric of deWolf Training: My personal trainer who has a very unique way of pushing me…wouldn’t have it any other way.

Witch Dr. from 6th street Chiropractor & Wellness: without him there is no doubt I wouldn’t have been able to run this race. He helped immensely with my ridiculous self inflicted injuries.

Toby from the Sinclair Wellness Center: Female massage therapist who has just the right touch!

Support & self esteem team: Mike and Hank who are always there to listen to my PT and fitness dramas.

Cheering Team: Iron Mike, Michelle, Julie, Alicia and Chris. (Eric the Billy Goat Gruff was under the bridge…but I didn’t see him)

PT Girl xo

25.16.41.30

6 Apr

The BMO Half Marathon’s gun goes off in 25 days, 16 hours, 41 minutes and 30 seconds and I have officially started to freak out!!!  How many more long runs, hill intervals and speed workouts can I squeeze in before race day?  I figure I still have three full weeks of training ahead of me; giving myself a full week to taper. But will anything seriously make a difference in my performance at this point? Or am I at my full race potential already?

Last Saturday I ran my fastest fifteen kilometers ever. Finishing in 1h22mins (5:28 per km) but during the entire run I kept thinking about what I could have done better during my training. What if I’d run on the rainy Saturdays rather than stayed in bed?  I could have definitely done more hill training and logged more miles! I thought of all the lazy runs I took where I didn’t push myself.  I remembered the countless drinks I consumed in February during the Olympic celebrations which hindered my training for ten long days; and I replayed the training session with de Wolf where I could have honestly given a better effort.

I know I’m stronger this year and there is no doubt I am faster yet I’ve been having anxiety that on the day of the race I’m going to blow up.

I started training for BMO Half Marathon mid January and since then I’ve ran about 300 km and been to over 25 hours of training sessions. But will it be enough? Have I trained to my full potential? Will I conquer my goal finish time?

PT Girl xo