Monday, November 24, 2014

Gift Ideas For Your Favourite Athlete

Are you looking for a gift for the favourite athlete in your life?  For the past couple of years I have put together a bit of a gift guide for the runner or triathlete in your life so here are my picks (or what is on my wishlist…cough, cough) for 2014.

Charbonnel et Walker Drinking Chocolate ($14 CDN at Holt Renfrew)

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My favourite way to warm up from a long run in the cold (and to kick off recovery) is with a mug of decadent hot chocolate.  I found a tin of Charbonnel et Walker drinking chocolate at Holt Renfrew in Calgary and this is my favourite drinking chocolate so far.  Rich, delicious shavings of chocolate that you whisk in to warm milk.  Perfection.

Anthropologie Crowned Leaf Mug ($12 US)

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You need an appropriate mug for that wonderful drinking chocolate and I love these mugs from Anthropologie.  A mug that says “make it happen” or “do your best” on it?  It is like your dinnerware is cheering you on!

Sauce Headwear Toque ($29 - $37 USD)

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It seems as though most of the winter running hats available are made to fit a purpose and there isn’t much thought as to how they look.  That all changed when I found Sauce Headwear.  I love the slouchy beanie as it is fully lined with fleece, making it toasty warm.  They have several retailers in Canada and in the US.  Here in Calgary you can find them at Tri It!

A gift certificate to the spa of your choice ($ value up to you)

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We put our feet through a lot…and chances are our toes may not be the prettiest anymore.  I know my big toes are looking a little worse for wear post Ironman Boulder.  A little pampering for those hard working feet may be just what they need!  Or perhaps the gift certificate could go towards a relaxing massage or spa treatment?

Oiselle Wazzie Wool Baselayer ($92 US)

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Oiselle just came out with two wool tops, a base layer and a sweatshirt.  I’m loving the geometric pattern!  These tops can definitely do double duty - keeping you warm on cold winter runs or wearing around town.  The merino wool is responsibly sourced from New Zealand.  I think the sweatshirt may just have to be a present that I get for myself...

Yurbuds Leap Wireless Headphones for Women ($99 US)

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I’ve been listening to tunes on the run a lot more lately and if there is one thing that gets annoying it is the cord!  It flaps around and every once in awhile I’ll catch it with my hand and yank my earbud out.  I’ve been really happy with the sound quality of my Yurbuds and apart from the annoying cord they work really well.  I’d love to get a pair of the brand new wireless headphones so I can cut that cord!

In case you still need a few more gift ideas for your favourite runner or triathlete then you are in luck!  I’m linking up with for Tuesdays on the Run with MCM Mama, My No-Guilt Life and Run the Great Ride Somewhere.  Be sure to pop by the link up for even more gift ideas!

Tuesdays on the run

What is the number one item on your wish list this year?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

What a feeling! What great workouts!

Wow, last week was quite the week!  There was a lot of run volume, plus I also found the time for a little cross training.

Monday is usually a rest day for me, but I opted to make it a legs off day and do a couple of upper body Nike Training Club strength routines.  I figured I might as well make use of my lunch hour!  It has been a long time since I’ve done any kind of strength workout and my arms were shaking by the end of it.

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On Tuesday I had some speed work to do.  It was a fartlek pyramid, with intervals of 5/4/3/2/1 minutes.  I had set myself some aggressive pacing goals so I was a little nervous!  Luckily the snow was starting to melt and we were above zero so that meant I didn’t have to be quite as bundled up as I was on my runs last week.  Time to show a little ankle!

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The sun was out and it was an all around fairly nice day for a run.  I managed to execute my pacing plans too!

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Tuesday night I figured it was time to get reacquainted with an old friend.

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My spin studio is all set up and I finally had my trainer tire put on my bike.  Spinning is a great way to build leg strength without a bunch of impact so I know this is good for me!  I don’t think my brain and my heart were quite ready for trainer rides until now though.  I found an old spin workout that was about an hour long that involved a lot of low cadence with sit/stand work.  My legs were feeling a little tired after those intervals at lunch but I pushed through.

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It is so nice to not be spinning in a garage anymore!  FYI…my old spin space...

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I even had company on the workout.  I chose to believe that Peat was cheering me on in his own, silent way.

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Wednesday was a super easy recovery run…but winter was back for another appearance!  Gotta love living in Calgary where the weather can change so quickly.  And only in this town will you spot a guy bundled up complete with face mask running behind a guy wearing shorts.

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Thursday was a bit of a longer run so I opted to commute home as it felt like the best way to fit in my workout.  It gets dark so early these days that I was thankful I brought my reflective vest and headlamp.  Unfortunately the batteries in my headlamp were starting to die so while my headlamp made me visible to oncoming traffic the pathway wasn’t very well lit.  I detoured home, got some fresh batteries and went back out there to finish off my run.  It is amazing the difference some fresh batteries in your headlamp can make!

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This weekend was a big weekend of running.  I had a 2.5 hour run Saturday morning, hill repeats Saturday afternoon, then an additional 1:15 on Sunday.  My long run on Saturday went really well!  My legs felt peppy and had some nice speed to them.  The wind on the last hour of my run was tough but I kept pushing through.  IMG 8690As soon as I got home from my long run I ate and had a nice long nap so I’d be ready to tackle the rest of my Saturday.  The hill repeats were a little rough to begin with but once I started to concentrate on form (driving my knees up and my elbows back) it felt a lot better than shuffling up the hill.  I then hurried home, showered and changed, and met my friend Debbie for sushi and Flashdance.

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Thank goodness for boots that can hide compression socks!

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For Sunday’s run my coach was expecting it would likely be a slow one.  I just focused on keeping the pace easy.  It was a bonus that the wind was not nearly as bad as the day before!

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Whew…I got in almost 10.5 hours of activity this week, including 24.2 miles over three runs this weekend.  It was a big week, my legs were tired but the workouts all felt great!

Tell me about your week.  Any really tough workouts that you were able to push through?

#holidaysweat - the Instagram challenge

Tomorrow the 2014 edition of the Holiday Sweat Challenge kicks off!  Are you joining me?  To build up excitement this week Sweat Guru hosted a challenge on Instagram and I had to play along:

Holiday Sweat Instragram Challenge

What motivates me to move it?  The Goofy Challenge in January is my biggest motivation right now!  This will be my third time running it and I’ve set myself a rather lofty goal (that no, I haven’t shared yet because it scares me).  I’ve been working hard to get my body and brain used to running fatigued.

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For my favourite healthy recipe I posted a photo of my breakfast oatmeal - oats, dried fruit, banana and pumpkin.  It doesn’t look very pretty, but it is delicious and keeps me fuelled throughout the morning.  We’ve made some really great dinners lately as well, that I will share in another post soon!

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For my must have fitness apparel I selected a few different items that are musts on chilly winter runs.  First up, a fun toque is a requirement, like the ones from Sauce Headwear!  I have an old pair of mittens from lululemon (similar ones here) that I prefer over gloves for keeping my hands warm.  Because winter days can still be really sunny and bright (especially as the sun glints off the snow) I need a great pair of sunglasses.  Thank you to Oakley for making sporty sunglasses that can be made up with a prescription!  And finally, I try to never head out for a run without my Road ID.  I have an extra band that is a little longer so I can layer it over my winter run clothing.

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A favourite workout memory would have to be any run I’ve done with friends.  I’ve missed my lunch runs with Kelly and Shannon lately!

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And finally, how do I reward myself after a workout?  Getting in a post workout snack is key, and chocolate milk is one of the quickest and tastiest options.  I’m not too fussy on my chocolate milk, but every once in awhile it is nice to go a little fancy with some decadent sipping chocolate (this one here is available at the Bay).  Add in some of the comfiest sweats around - Oiselle’s french fleece - and I’m on the road to recovery so I can be ready to go for my next workout!

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Did you play along on the Instagram challenge?  Share some of your answers in the comments!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thursday Randoms: Ironman, TV and Tunes

Since it is Thursday I figured this was a good opportunity to share some randomness on the blog!

There was some major triathlon inspiration this weekend!  On Saturday I went to the Kona broadcast viewing party at Tri-It.  Neil and I don’t have cable so this was a perfect opportunity to watch the show and to hang out with awesome people.  There were draw prizes and yummy snacks (that were all vegan and gluten free).  There were some very tear jerking and inspirational stories and you couldn’t help but be in awe of Mirinda Carfrae and her amazing ability to chase everyone down on the run.

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On Sunday my three best training buddies Shannon, Tara and Kelly all raced Ironman Arizona.  I was glued to my computer for much of the day getting tracking updates and watching the live race coverage.  Apparently the winds were brutal on the bike but they all had super stellar days.  I’m so proud of them for all of the hard work they put into training and for executing a great race.  For Shannon and Kelly this was their second IM this year after they both raced Boulder!

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On the no cable topic of discussion, we cut the cord when we moved to our new house.  I thought I would really miss having cable but the only thing I really miss is having the news and weather on while I get ready for work.  The few shows that I am interested in watching are available online right after they air (thank you Food Network Canada and Top Chef).  I’ve also been checking out old TV series that are up on Netflix and I’m really enjoying Gossip Girl right now.  So trashy!

One last thing that I’m loving these days is the new song (and the video to go with it) from OK Go - I Won’t Let You Down.  The video is pretty darn cool and the song is catchy and fun.  It is a good song to add to your running/spinning playlist!

Since it is Thursday and this post is somewhat random in nature I’m going to hop on the bandwagon and link up with Running With Spoons for Thinking Out Loud Thursday.

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What is your favourite oldie but goodie show to binge watch on Netflix?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A touch of inclement weather

Calgary is no stranger to some pretty crazy weather and I’ve raced in some fairly rough conditions.  When I saw that MCM Mama, My No-Guilt Life and Marcia’s Healthy Slice were hosting a link up for Tuesdays on the Run to talk about the worst conditions we’ve ever raced in I thought it would be fun to participate.

Tuesdays on the run

Torrential Downpour #1: Banff Citizen’s Race 10K - June 2007

Running and racing in Banff is one of my favourite things however the Banff Citizen’s Race was not the best day to show off the beauty of the mountains.  There were logistical issues with the race shuttles we were supposed to take, plus there was a bear on the course and the route had to be adjusted at the last minute.  And it was pouring rain...

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The final few hundred meters to the finish line was a big puddle…a squishy mess of rain and black sand.  That was a rough race!

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Torrential Downpour #2: BMO Vancouver Half Marathon - May 2014

This year’s BMO Vancouver Half was another extraordinarily wet race!

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Luckily I had company that day as my friend Shannon and I ran together and having her by my side helped to take my mind off of the fact that it was so wet and cold.  

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A nicer day weather wise would have been great but Shannon and I ran a really strong race together!

Snow and Ice #1: Last Chance Half Marathon - November 2013

The Last Chance Half in November is always hit and miss for weather and last year’s race was a doozy.  There were a few centimetres of snow over ice making for a tough race.  It was slow going and when I slipped and fell backwards, landing on my lower back and head the race went from bad to worse.  Definitely not one of my favourite race experiences.

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Freezing Cold #1: Nose Hill XC - February 2014

I think my coldest race so far was at the Nose Hill XC race.  It was -15C out and the course was pretty windy.  Despite the chilly weather I really enjoyed this race and I felt pretty strong out on the trails that day.

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I’ve learned that (with the exception of the Last Chance Half) rough weather doesn’t necessarily have to mean a rough race.  If we waited for the perfect weather to race here in Calgary our window of opportunity would be very narrow.  Instead I prefer to tell myself that there is no such thing as bad weather, just improper gear.

How about you?  What are some of the toughest weather conditions you’ve raced in?