Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Featured Food: grilled veggies!

Towards the end of my last training cycle, I started getting pretty bored with my usual eats. I am a full-on creature of habit when it comes to food and I can go weeks or months on pretty much the same meals and snacks, but there comes a time when my diet needs an overhaul!

By the time race day arrived, I did not even want to look at steel cut oat or brussels sprouts.

After a post-marathon week(+) of celebratory indulgences, I was excited to get back on track with a healthy diet. I also knew that it was time to mix things up and try some new things in place of my standard fare.

Now that it's BBQ (hehe) season, I treated myself to a new toy: a grill basket! I absolutely love grilled vegetables and I have no idea why I have not owned one previously.

It's super quick &  easy to chop up a ton of veggies in big chunks, toss with some olive oil and salt & pepper and throw them into the basket. I place it on the grill on low for about 20 minutes, shaking a few times and turning the entire basket over once or twice.

veggie goodness!

And voila, a big pile of delicious grilled vegetables - the perfect addition to any meal! I'm loving these and it's been a delicious and easy way to mix things up.

The best part is that they taste even better (in my opinion) cold! I've been bringing leftovers on a bed of spinach for lunch, with a splash of vinaigrette and some chickpeas for added protein. De-lish!

I'm planning to make this Grilled Vegetable Quinoa Salad tomorrow! (thanks Kelly for the recommendation!)

Do you eat grilled veggies? Any ideas for me?

Monday, May 30, 2011

When 10 miles feels long

Isn't it funny how 10 miles feels short at the end of a training cycle, but can seem so long just a few weeks later? Here we are two weeks post-race and I wanted to put in a long-ish run over the weekend. When going from a spring to fall marathon, there's not a whole lot of time between training cycles since the races are 4-5 months apart as opposed to 6-7 months from a fall to spring marathon. Since training will start again in no time, I knew I couldn't slack off on the distance for much longer.

I decided I'd like to run about 10 miles, but it just seemed soooo far. I wasn't feeling too enthusiastic about it on Saturday morning... luckily hubs was coming with me and I knew I just had to suck it up and I'd probably definitely feel better if I did it.

Anyway, we headed out Saturday morning for this looooong run. We went to our favourite spot and I was immediately more enthused about the run once we got started on those familiar trails.

We followed the path north where the pavement ends and took to the real trails for the majority of our run. It was so quiet and peaceful and before I knew it, we were almost done. Hubs went on to run a few extra so I took the opportunity for a self-photo shoot.

It still felt a lot longer than the distance would have a couple weeks ago, but it was nice to get some decent miles on my legs again. I'm definitely ready to get back into the swing of things and start feeling like a marathoner again. 


Friday, May 27, 2011

Few things on Friday

1. I am enjoying limbo land right now - while I do have a recovery "training" schedule, I am mostly using it as a guideline and just running if/when I feel like it. I'm still feeling a little bit worn out and run down (the week of debauchery may have contributed to that...), so I am definitely giving myself the time I need to recover. I also know I need the mental break as much as the physical one. That being said, hubs has been working away at my next training schedule and I'm kind of excited to get started. In due time...

2. Last night we had our end-of-season social with the running group. Someone was kind enough to host all 50++ of us in her house, where we enjoyed all kinds of food, drinks and laughs. Coach Don also put together an epic slide show with photos from throughout the season - it was fun to look back on all those cold and snowy Sunday morning runs, countless races and of course our "runches."

And there was cake!!!
Lots of cake...

3. I hope all of my friends south of the border have a fantastic long weekend! We had ours last week, but I could really go for another one...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Back to reality

Hubs and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves during our post-marathon celebration. It was indulgent, to say the least! There were so many foods and drinks that I had been craving in the days weeks leading up to the race when I was trying to keep my diet as clean as possible, and I was definitely ready to treat myself when the time came.

But enough was definitely enough and after a week 9 days of never saying no, I am ready to clean things up again! I have been suffering from constant gut-rot and it got to the point where I was hardly even tasting the food anymore. I believe I've mentioned before that I have issues with the concepts of self-control and moderation.

So it's time to get healthy again! A trip to the produce section was in order.

It's good to be back in my usual routine with a healthy diet and I feel soooo much better already. 

What are your favourite post-race indulgences?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

About Boston...

Incase you didn't hear, hubs and I qualified for Boston last weekend! :)

To answer the most frequently asked question, no it has not fully sunk in yet. In a lot of ways, I didn't think this would ever be my story to tell. 32 months ago I ran my first marathon in 4:42. I was proud of that - I still am - but I never thought I would be a sub-4:00 marathoner, let alone a Boston Qualifier.

I remember back in October 2009 when I ran the last few kilometres of the Toronto Marathon with a good friend who was qualifying for Boston for the first time. I ran beside her and got the crowd all riled up, shouting "THIS GIRL IS GOING TO BOSTON!" It was such a joy to share that moment with her, and I knew then and there that one day I wanted to experience that for myself.

So about Boston...

Things changed this year, with the new rolling registration procedure. When the news came out back in February, I was just starting to think that a BQ could be within the realm of possibility for me this year. I would be lying if I said that it wasn't devastating at the time - I felt that dream slipping farther out of reach.

All I could do was my best. That BQ was incredibly important to me, whether it would lead me to Boston 2012 or not. I wanted it, I worked for it and I got it. I crossed that finish line with a BQ time and minutes to spare, screaming and cheering and crying as though I had won the race; it felt like I had.

It is admittedly a little disheartening that I didn't get to say: "I'm going to Boston!" The reality is, I don't believe there is a very good shot that I will actually get in with my time. 3:37 simply may not be good enough for Boston... but it's good enough for me. For now. ;)

I'm nowhere near finished yet.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

One week ago

Has it been a week already?
Has it only been a week?

This time last week I was nervous and excited with anticipation.

I was also confident and determined.

I couldn't believe the day had finally come after 18 weeks of preparation.

I knew what I had to do.

But I also knew that anything could happen over 26.2 miles.

The race could chew me up and spit me out,
or it could turn out to be the race of my dreams.

No matter what I had done or hadn't done, nothing is certain at the start line of a marathon.

And that's what makes it even more worthwhile when everything comes together and it happens.

I'm not sure if it has fully sunk in.
I am a 3:37 marathoner? Say what?!

Thank you sooo much for all of your comments and support - you've made it all even more meaningful.

One week later...

I am still screaming beaming.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Foto Friday, then and now



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mississauga Marathon - BQ Race Report

dreary stroll to the start line
When we left off, I had just lined up to wait for the start of the Mississauga Marathon. There were a few others planning to run around the same pace that I was, but I really wanted to run my own race this time. I knew I needed to zone out and focus on myself. I wished everyone well, lined up solo and enjoyed a few minutes of peace. I checked my laces, checked my Garmin, looked down at the writing on my hand.

 The next thing I knew, the starting cannon exploded to my right and we were off.

I displayed only the average pace of my current lap on my Garmin and took it one kilometre at a time from the get-go. We had a good tail wind and quite a bit of downhill in the first half, so I allowed myself to take advantage and cruise slightly faster than goal pace. [5:13]

I was feeling good and settling into the pace comfortably. I thought back on all of those MRP runs I'd completed over the last 18 weeks; now was the time to lock it in and make it count. I often have a hard time being patient and disciplined in the first half of a marathon; there is so much anticipation about what's to come, but I worked on staying in the moment. Between my gu/salt schedule and the markers where I knew I would be seeing friends, I found that time was flying by.

My pace got away from me a little on one of the steeper downhills (KM 9), but I also knew that our biggest climb was coming up so it felt good to have a few seconds in the "bank".

KM1 - 5:09 *salt at start
KM2 - 5:10
KM3 - 5:10
KM4 - 5:07
KM5 - 5:10
KM6 - 5:08 *gu
KM7 - 5:06
KM8 - 5:06
KM9 - 4:58
KM10 - 5:12

It was a pleasant surprise to see Ueli and Patricia cheering at KM 8. Not long after, right at the top of the hill, Erin and Ali were waiting for me with cowbell and big smiles. They had a water bottle for me too, which I used to refill my handheld. This was a big help and I didn't have to deal with the water tables at all.

There was a stretch around 12K when we finally got a good taste of the headwind, which I knew would be waiting for us for the entire last third of the race. It was definitely noticeable, but not unmanageable. The temperature felt pretty good and we had a light drizzle off and on throughout the entire race. I was perfectly comfortable in shorts and a tank and I wasn't going to let that wind shake me. At least not yet.

I kept on plugging away and knew that the half/full split was coming up. This is always a significant moment for me and it reminds me of my first marathon when I veered right and felt like I was finally becoming a member of a very special club. I love this moment of every race; not only does it suddenly become much less crowded, but it's a nice feeling to be running amongst marathoners. Nothing against the halfers (I was [am] one myself afterall), but I like to look around and know that we are all in it for the long haul. Shortly after the split, I was really happy to see the 16K (10 mile) mark - a good chunk of the race was under my belt. My mood only improved as I worked my way toward the half way mark.

KM11 - 5:10
KM12 - 5:08 *gu
KM13 - 5:08
KM14 - 5:10 *salt
KM15 - 5:10
KM16 - 5:11
KM17 - 5:12
KM18 - 5:10 *gu
KM19 - 5:10
KM20 - 5:09
KM21 - 5:05

A friend from our clinic was waiting at 21 and I was super excited to see her. She gave me a big cheer and I felt like I was floating across the half way timing mats.

Half Split: 1:48:46

I had a rush of adrenaline and emotion as I started thinking to myself for the first time "I might actually do this." I got a little choked up, but told myself to cut it out - there was plenty of race left!

Right after this there was a Tim Horton's handing out bottles of water, so I took advantage and got another refill on my handheld. I didn't want to slow down and dumped half of it all over my hand in the process, but I did manage to top up my bottle.

Erin and Ali as well as Ueli and Patricia were all cheering at 22K. I felt like a star! It was so good to see everyone, and the girls assured me that Mark was doing great - exactly what I needed to hear. Off I went with even more spring in my step, knowing I would be seeing them all again soon in the same spot after an out-and-back stretch.

I knew there was a good chance I would get to see hubs here so I kept a close eye and sure enough, I caught a glimpse of him just before he was turning off the out-and-back portion. The timing couldn't have been better. We exchanged a wave and a thumbs up. Along I went for a couple kilometres on a gradual downhill. I saw some of my running buddies who were ahead of me and traded high-fives.

We hit a sharp turn-around at 25K. I was now heading back up that slight incline and hello wind! It was no joke and I knew it was going to be pretty much constant from here on out. I remembered many great pep talks, told myself that I am stronger than the wind, and buckled down.

I saw some of my buddies who were just behind and traded more high-fives and cheers. Everyone seemed to be doing so well, which made me really happy.

KM22 - 5:05
KM23 - 5:06
KM24 - 5:03 *gu
KM25 - 5:05
KM26 - 5:08

Coach Don rode up beside me on his bike somewhere along this stretch and we chatted for a few. I told him I was doing great and I meant it. I knew I had a long way to go, but I was on pace and feeling strong.

Before I knew it I was back at the 22/28K mark to see the gang again. I swapped my large handheld for my smaller one that Ueli had for me. It felt great to lose some of the extra weight/bulk in my hand. At this point, Patricia was gone because she jumped in with Mark when he ran by the second time. It was bittersweet to know that the next time I would see everyone would be at the finish!

KM27 - 5:07
KM28 - 5:16 *salt
KM29 - 5:07
KM30 - 5:13 *gu
KM31 - 5:12
KM32 - 5:14

The course was different this year and there were a lot more rollers on the back half than I expected. They just kept coming! I didn't worry about powering up, but instead held a steady effort and knew I could earn back my pace on the downhills. They proved to be more of a mental obstacle than physical. I caught up to a couple of guys from my group who had been ahead and chatted briefly to see how they were doing before carrying on my way. One of them said, "I knew you'd catch us!"

Coming up on 32K (20 miles) there was a blow up "wall" that we got to run through, and Coach Don was waiting on the other side and took this pic. I called out "No wall for me today!" I had 10K to go. It was time to start counting down.

The headwind was really strong at points and it was somewhat demoralizing to realize that it would remain like this all the way to the finish. I let it get to me a bit and hit a rough patch around 33-34K. I questioned - just for an instant - if I could continue doing this. To my pleasant surprise, Patricia was waiting for me right when I needed her to lift my spirits.

She jumped in with me and I let her know that I was on pace with a couple minutes to spare. I wasn't talking much at all but I loved having some company. The wind was exhausting and I felt like I had slowed to a crawl, but in reality I had barely slowed down at all. Kilometres 36, 37 and 38 were my slowest, chiming in at about 7 seconds slower than goal pace. From 37 on, we were running along the lake, primarily on the bike paths. It was winding with some minor undulations, and it was tough to keep momentum. I just kept telling myself that I was on my way to the finish line.

Some friends from our group were waiting right around 38 and I nearly cried when I saw them. They cheered like crazy and I cheered right back at them. I felt like I had an epiphany at that moment - I suddenly knew I was going to do it. I was doing it!

KM33 - 5:02
KM34 - 5:14
KM35 - 5:17
KM36 - 5:22
KM37 - 5:20 *half gu
KM38 - 5:20

We just had 4K to go; Patricia said "4K, this is just a little run around the block." I was able to pick my pace back up and keep it there. I had enough cushion that I could slow down quite a bit and still reach my goal, but I was determined to finish strong.

I kept feeling myself getting choked up and had to shake it off and stay focused. A lot can happen in a few kilometres, but we just kept counting them down. Patricia was telling me that I only had to keep running for a few more minutes. After 3 and a half hours already, and more than 143 hours in training, what was 10 more minutes?

I started to recognize those last winding turns through the park toward the finish line (it was the same as the 2009 course), and I also knew that the finish would be a lot farther away than I thought it should be. We passed the 40K marker, and the next kilometre went by in a blur. 41K. I picked it up a bit. Just one kilometre to go! I saw lots more friends waiting along the path, cheering like crazy. This was my moment. I soaked it in.

KM39 - 5:11
KM40 - 5:17
KM41 - 5:16
KM42 - 4:46

Patricia sent me on my way as the finish line came into sight. I caught a glimpse of the clock reading 3:37:XX. I was scanning the crowds and heard Erin and Ali before I saw them. I threw my arms up and just screamed.

I whooped it up all the way over that line. You would have thought I had won the race or something. ;) I didn't hear it, but hubs told me later that the announcer even made a comment about how excited I was. I just could not believe it was all over and I had done it.

Official Chip Time: 3:37:18
First Half Split: 1:48:46
Second Half Split: 1:48:32
Avg. Pace: 5:09/KM (8:17/mi)
Overall: 240/1094
Women: 39/463
F25-29: 12/56


"The crew" - I can't thank you all enough!


And finally, the hubs!

Official Chip Time: 3:09:18
Average pace: 4:29/KM (7:13/mi)
Overall: 42/1094
Men: 36/631
M25-29: 6/41

By far the best moment of the day was when I finally made my way through the finisher's area and saw hubs coming toward me. Of course he was beaming ear to ear for me, but all I wanted to know was "DID YOU DO IT?" Yes he had! Sharing this achievement on the same day at the same race on the first attempt for both of us is a joy beyond my wildest hopes and expectations. Just a few months ago I would have laughed in the face of anyone who suggested that this was even a possibility. And look at us now. :)