stalkDisney

I am running (or supposed to be running – more on my injury later) the Walt Disney World Marathon next week. As everyone knows, Disney goes above and beyond on just about everything they put their name on. There is no difference with their races. If you’ve been around runDisney events in the past you may have come across the runDisney meet-ups.

RunDisney meet-ups are free events hosted by Disney that have included meeting Jeff Galloway, character meet and greets, a group run, free swag, and lots more! In order to be one of the lucky ones chosen to participate in the meet-ups, you need to RSVP by email to a specific email address. Historically, for the WDW race weekend emails needed to contain your full name in the body (one name per email) and be sent to wdw.sportsmeetups@disney.com. The meet-up information would be posted in a blog post on http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/ at any time ranging from 10am-3pm, anywhere from 4 to 14 days in advance. Fanatics were known to “stalk” the blog, refreshing the page every minute for days on end in order to get in. The smart people would already have a draft email up on their computer or phone ready to be sent as soon as the post became live.

As time went on, the meet-ups gained in publicity and popularity. With each year, the time before the meet-ups reached capacity became less and less. Last year sending an email a mere 2 minutes after the blog post was made wasn’t enough to make the cut (I have personal proof on this). It’s tough competition to get into meet-ups and the enthusiasts looking to get in for 2014 were prepared to refresh the blog for days in order to not miss the announcement.

Screen Shot 2014-01-03 at 22.38.29
So there I was at 9am this morning, joining hundreds of other fanatics in stalking the blog. At 10am all of our hearts got a jump as a meet-up RSVP was posted, however it was for Disney Blogs and not runDisney. The meet-up, which the majority of us tried to RSVP to anyways despite not being a runDisney meet-up, was for food trucks in Downtown Disney the Thursday of race weekend (http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2014/01/rsvp-for-our-food-truck-meet-up-at-downtown-disney-at-walt-disney-world-resort/). I sent my RSVP 5 minutes after the post was made, but alas was not quick enough to make the cut. Luckily for me, in this meet-up attendees are allowed to bring guests and I was invited with one of the quick respondents (I will be blogging about this event next week Friday).

After spending another hour constantly refreshing the blog, I decided that I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to a meet-up this year and resigned from stalking. I also still do not know if I will be able to run next week due to my injury and thought that a healthy participant would be able to get more out of the meet-up. Looking back in retrospect, boy am I glad I stopped when I did as just before 5pm today news broke that there was not going to be a runDisney meet-up this year for the WDW race weekend. Interestingly enough the announcement did not come from the official Disney blog but from a Disney fanatic blog (http://www.disneyeveryday.com/the-future-of-rundisney-disney-parks-blog-meet-ups-looks-bright/#sthash.2hdW4P3W.gbpl). It was further confirmed by other Disney insiders that this was indeed the case and that everyone should cease their stalking.

While the choice not to have a meet-up this year makes sense with the inaugural Dopey Challenge filling up the race weekend schedule, it disappointed many that Disney waited so long to break the news. Some stated that it was arrogant of Disney to allow people to think they were waiting for a meet-up when one was never coming, allowing Disney to use the extra hits on their blog for an extra marketing opportunity. I’m not going to lie, if I had spent all of today dedicated to the Disney blog I might have some bitter feelings as well. On the other hand, meet-ups are free and have never been guaranteed by Disney so there is always the risk of one never being posted. And, as Amanda Tinney posted on her blog disneyeveryday.com, “there are already so many things to do at the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend besides the meet up. Four parks to explore. 4 endurance events, including a brand new 10k race. Kids races. Pasta in the Park Party. Special breakfast events. A Cool Down Party. And a four day Health and Fitness Expo chocked full of merchandise and seminars.”

In the end, despite not being a meet-up, WDW Marathon Weekend will still be a magical experience. For me there is even the added events that being a member of Team in Training has to offer. I’m excited to be able to spend 6 days in Orlando. If you will be at WDW Marathon Weekend, I hope to see you there. May it be a fun filled weekend for all!

Advertisements

Magic Miles

This morning I woke up at 5:00am; I was wide awake, staring at the ceiling.  Don’t ask me how and don’t ask me why.  For the past week I’ve been setting my alarm for 6:00am to get some early exam studying in and I have slept through it everyday until 7:00am.  Now today, the day I do not set an alarm, my body decides to get up at 5:00.

After a half hour of staring at the ceiling, I finally decided to take control of the situation.  I hopped out of bed (the easiest time I’ve had doing that in months) and bundled up.  Layer upon layer, I dressed until I was ready to face the NEGATIVE 22 DEGREE CELSIUS temperatures outside.  Yes, you read that right, -22 degrees! And I decided to leave my cozy bed, before the sun had risen, to run in it.

Truth be told, making crazy choices like this regarding my fitness empowers me.  What other people see as psycho or impossible, I find strength in.  This morning I ended up running 8.5km in an hour.  A layer of 5cm thick snow covered the sidewalks as more fell from the sky.  It felt a lot like running on the beach in loose sand.  When I finished, I ran to the local Tim Hortons to enjoy my morning coffee.  My mum joined me just after 7:00am.  It was such a wonderful way to start the day.

Going forward, I felt so strong.  I was able to take control of my morning instead of frittering it away staring at the ceiling.  I was able to run outside in conditions that would make most people cringe.  

I write this blog post, besides enjoying the little bit of bragging about my accomplishment, to encourage you to allow yourself to make the choices that most people cringe away from.  Be willing to be that crazy person and do not limit yourself.  Because trust me, doing the crazy can feel so amazing.

When Life Knocks You Down, How Do You Get Back Up?

It seems like this “sick season” really hit me hard.  After going through the flu in September, an unending cold throughout October, and then three weeks battling strep throat and an ear infection, I was able to acquire food poisoning last night.  This was my first time with food poisoning and if you’ve never had it before, count your blessings! It was the grossest night of my life that caused me to get 0 sleep and sprint to the bathroom not once, twice, but thirteen times in less than 10 hours.  I’ll stop there with the details but it has left me pretty weak and depleted.

I have been pondering why I have taken such a hit in the sickness department this year.  Normally I am able to resist the inevitable cough/cold/flu that everyone seems to get in the fall.  Many people have offered their advice: It’s because you eat meat again so you should go back to being vegetarian; it’s because you’re running too much so maybe you really should cut back the mileage; you go to a gym and those places are crawling in germs; you’re more susceptible to illness when you’re stressed so you need to relax.

While some of those ideas may be somewhat fallacious, they’ve made me think.  I am busy training for my marathon coming this January and have been diligently following my long runs every weekend, going the 20, 25, and 30km distances I’m called to do.  But, have the long runs been depleting my energy stores and inhibiting my body from fully recovering from my illnesses?  It’s a good theory and one my mum is currently standing behind.  She’s suggested that this weekend instead of running the 25 km I am scheduled to do on Saturday, to split it up over the weekend into a 10km and 15km run.  I’ve never changed my long runs up like this and it almost feels like I’ll be cheating a little bit, but would this be the smartest move for me in the current situation?

To be honest, I’m really not sure.  What do y’all think?   

Have You Lost Your Freedom?

In the past couple weeks my running has taken an interesting turn.  After the close of my running series (that I ended up winning my category in and coming 8th female overall!) and my emotional upheaval last month, my running has been less about intensity and more about the experience.  I’ve allowed myself to let loose, forget about time and the stress that comes with meeting a certain pace, and allow myself to just focus on the miles.  I switched from a set, regimented playlist with planned tempos to playing my iPod on shuffle and taking the songs as they come.  I’ve worried less about finishing in under a certain time and booked off entire mornings to complete my long run with Starbucks pitstops halfway through.  

I know that by seeing my runs these past couple weeks as a success simply because I was able to get out the door and log the miles gave me the freedom to make it to the end of the kilometres.  Yesterday my training plan had a big, fat 25km marked in the calendar.  I know that in the situation I’m in of being still in the works of getting back on my feet and finding my inner strength, that if I placed a time goal on the run, I would have given up halfway.  Instead, I gave myself the freedom to have a sense of play in my run.  I was able to make it to that 25km mark (with a time on par with my other long runs) but without the stress of making pace.  It was amazing to see how accustomed my body was to continue the training it has been through and to see what it could do without my mind holding me back. 

I’m not sure where you are at in your fitness intensity.  Whether you have set goals you strive towards, milestones you want to hit before a certain date, or just take it day by day.  But, I do want to encourage you to allow yourself the ability to let some of the stress go.  Our lives are filled with planning, schedules, and time restraints.  We live in an incredibly fast world that sees success and quickness as synonyms.  So who is forcing us to treat out fitness the same way? Why can’t we measure fitness success by the way we feel instead of by the time our Garmin says?

Running Has My Back

Life is not always rainbows and butterflies. The truth of the matter is that sometimes it can throw you into some pretty gut-wrentching situations. Last night I went toppling in, unexpectedly, into one of the most emotionally heartbreaking nights of my life. I cried, I sobbed, I wept. But the thing about life is that it keeps charging forward. Life and everything within it, will move forward whether you are onboard or not.

This morning I woke up with the realization that a new day was starting. I had a choice: I could stay in bed for the duration of the morning and much of the afternoon, in the state of emotional numbness that I woke up in, even though I was not in the least bit tired or I could get up, get a coffee, and start my day. I found the hardest choice was the choice to leave my warm bed that was acting a shelter around me.

As I meandered my way downstairs, grabbed my cup of coffee, and sat down, I didn’t know what to do; my plan had only taken me this far. I thought now what? What will make me happy or at least escape the pain I was feeling?

And then I was off. My Garmin on, my fuel belt stocked, and my running shoes tied tight. I left a note on the counter to let my family know why I wasn’t in the house so early in the morning simply putting: Gone for a run. Might be 5k or 30k. I don’t know.
And that was the honest truth. I was prepared for it all but I was going to let my body dictate.

I started off slow trying to get lost in my music. I purposely took a busy city route to keep my mind occupied. But by kilometre 5 my eyes were fighting back tears. By kilometre 10, I thought it best to start making my way back. At kilometre 12, I stopped to take a fuel break and I broke down. I sat on a park bench, overlooking the lake, paused my Garmin, and let myself completely surrender to the feelings I was desperately trying to fight back.

I don’t know how long I sat there for crying into the wind that was nipping at my sweat soaked clothes. When I felt my eyes could cry no more I got back on my feet. I restarted my Garmin and took off – and this time I literally mean took off. I was flying. All the emotional build-up that I was desperately trying to get rid of came charging out of me through my feet. I saw the average pace drop on my Garmin as I made my way back home. It was only 3 more kilometres taking the most direct route home but in that distance my average time dropped by over 20 seconds. Everything I was holding back was given on that last run home.

I ended up running 15 km today and they were a journey. They helped me get going, they let me let go, and they got me to push on. I don’t wish tough times on anyone, but if you have tough times, I wish you running. I hope you can find the freedom I find through running and I hope it can help you heal.

As for now, I’m going to try to run on with my life.

Persistence Brings Progress

As the title suggests, today I experienced some improvement on my arm day exercises.  I was able to up my bench press!  This is particularly exciting news for me as it wasn’t too long ago (think beginning of this year) that I was unable to bench the bar (45 lbs).  Check out my routine below:

  • Warm Up: Erg 1000m 4:13 
  • Barbell Bench Press – 55 x 12, 60 x 12, 65 x 10
  • Cable Pressdown (Rope) – 20 x 8, 20 x 10, 20 x 8
  • Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise – 3 sets 10 x 10
  • Cable Curl – 30 x 12, 35 x 12, 35 x 8
  • Pull-Up – 3 sets of 8 with 100lb assist
  • Tricep Dips – 3 sets of 12 with 100lb assist
  • Cool Down: 5 minute ARC Trainer and Stretching

I’m thinking that next time I do pull-ups and tricep dips I will drop the assist a little bit.  I’ve currently now done them with 100lb assists three times.  This does intimidate me a little bit as I’m only able to pull out 8 pull-ups at a time but I think that it’s more of a mental block than a physical one.  

I can definitely feel my arms now afterwards, especially my triceps.  I recovered with a Vega Vanilla protein shake with rice milk (the store was sold out of both almond milk and coconut milk, grrr) and had turkey on rice cakes with avocado for lunch shortly after.  I am happy to announce that I’ve already drank two litres of water today and am well on my way to make it to my daily goal of 3 litres! 

My legs are feeling fully recovered from yesterday’s hill repeats and I feel more than well enough to perform my slated 4k tempo run tonight.  Tomorrow I plan on doing leg/back day for my lunchtime workout.

Just before I end off this post, I want to bring to your attention that I do track my food using my fitness pal (www.myfitnesspal.com) and you’re more than welcome to add me; my username is: livefitlivefree.  Also, I tweet a whole bunch.  Check out what I’m saying @lvefitandfree

That’s all for now anyways, live fit

The Ups & Downs of Running

Down, up, down, up, repeat, repeat, repeat.

Today was hill repeats and I performed them over my lunch break.  I upped the hills repeats to 4 this week (as opposed to 3 the previous week).  I started with a 500m flat warm up jog and then got to it.  Performing the repeats on a steep hill that lasts over 1 km in length, I used the bottom, steeper half of the hill adding on 100m flat surface at the bottom for my workout.  I ran down the hill and then back up halfway to run down again and then up halfway again, etc.  My repeats ended up being 500m on the hill and 100m flat for a total of 600m each way.  I travelled 5.5 km in total averaging a 5:54 pace.  The whole workout took just over 30 minutes.

It was a good workout but I was very lucky that today’s temperatures were unseasonably cold as if there was humidity I would have been in trouble.  By the last repeat I was in need of water so as I add on hill repeats and my workouts get longer I’ll have to arrange to bring water with me.  When I got back to the office I recovered using Vega Vanilla Performance Protein with a cup of oat milk. I use a SmartShake bottle to mix it and it works wonderfully (can be ordered from bodybuilding.com).  

Now it’s time for me to actually eat my lunch and I’ll be having turkey with avocado on rice cakes.  I’m finding that going gluten and dairy free have helped my digestion 100% and everyday I’m finding new meals to put together.  The only problem is I now do not know if it is the dairy or gluten or both that have been giving me digestion issues and I’m too chicken to bring one back into my diet to find out; for now I’ll keep going being both gluten and dairy free.

I am still off of coffee, but have now started drinking green tea like a fiend.  I’m slowly trying to replace the green tea with decaf herbal tea but it’s taking some time.  As for my energy, I am feeling good.  I would say that most days I do not feel the need for a nap but there is still a day or two a week where when 3 o’clock hits I find myself at my desk daydreaming about taking a siesta.  Let’s hope today isn’t one of those days.

Tomorrow the plan is to hit up arms and back at lunch with my coworkers and then after work go for a 4k tempo run. Hope y’all are excelling at your fitness goals! More later.

Need For Speed

Yesterday I managed to convince my sister to come run sprints with me.  After my progression 6k on Saturday, I still needed to make up the speed workout I missed the previous week.
My sister and I met up for a walk in the morning and after talk of how well HIIT workouts burn fat, I had her on board.  We ended up going to the waterfront path which runs relatively straight and flat and measured out 200m.  

Our workout consisted of 5 x 200m sprints with a 200m power walk in between (no rest).  It was good!  I knew I needed to fit in a speed workout this weekend and having someone join me on these workouts always helps me push that little bit extra at the end.

My sister kicked my butt in the first two, but after that my endurance training kicked into gear and for the last three I managed to knock out the same pace as my first.  We finished off with a 2km cool down run and a protein shake.  I’m hoping that incorporating sprints into my running schedule will help me come race day find that finishing kick.

My sister seemed to enjoy herself and I hope she’s willing to join me again for my next sprint workout.

Today is a rest from running but I did manage to fit in a 5k walk before work.  Today is leg day at the gym so we will see how that goes.  Hopefully I don’t have DOMS for 3 days after this time.

I’ll post my leg workout after lunch.

Mountain Trail Run

As I mentioned earlier, I was supposed to meet up with a couple friends tonight and go for a hike. Well, throughout the day a couple people bailed out and the hiking group ended up consisting of 4 other very active people: two gym-dwelling fitness guys, one tennis star, and another runner.  So long story short, our afternoon hike turned into a high-speed, high-intensity “trail” run.   I use trail for lack of a better word but most of the time we deviated off the trail and while keeping our eyes on the ground to ensure sure footing, maneuvered our way up and down the side of the mountain.

For the first half hour we hiked at a steady pace down the mountain and then for a good 45 minutes we ran at a decent pace (clocked 5:30/km on the flatter ground). The hike ended up lasting 1 hour 25 minutes and had us all panting by the end.  

This was an awesome way to hang out with friends and get a workout in.  One of the many reasons why I love summer is being able to be active in nature and this was the perfect afternoon.

If you have any sort of trail around your area I recommend taking a group of friends out for a hike, the energy from one another will fuel you up and down the hills faster than going alone.  Plus hiking with a group is always safer than by yourself; you just never know when an animal or rock will pose a threat.

Women’s Race Recap

On Sunday I participated in my first ever women’s only race.  It was a half marathon that looped through park paths with minimal road running.  It was a beautiful route with old wooden bridges, streams, meadows, forests views, and one killer hill at kilometre 18.  

I signed up for this race to take a break from my “competitive” race series I am participating in this year.   I have found that since signing up for my race series, every race has had a higher stress level associated with and a constant obsession with pace and time.  In my half in February I was more concerned with how many in my age group were in front of me than how I was running.  This race was to take a break, relax, and get back to the point of running: enjoying the run! 

This mind shift took some time to adjust to but by the time I went to bed on Saturday night I was not concerned with what my finishing time would be but more with taking in the whole race excitement and new route.  I switched up my typical race playlist that is usually dominated by fast paced, pop, electronic, and top 40 songs and instead opted for a country dominated list that ranged from twangy ballads to honky-tonk inspired tunes.

The morning of the race I was still a bit nervous for two reasons: I was still sore from leg day on Friday and the temperatures were slated to be 8 degrees.  I opted for my saucony spandex running shorts and a long sleeve technical t shirt.  I wore my compression socks to not only keep my legs feeling good but also to keep them warm in the chilly air.  I also opted to use my spibelt (http://www.spibelt.com/products/spibelt), something that I haven’t taken out since my marathon in January because I was afraid it would slow me down in subsequent races.  But since this was a fun, get back to the root of running run I loaded up my belt with shotblocks, some money (you never know), and my phone; I’m not a runner that runs with a fuel belt or water bottles, for me the water stations in races are enough.  

I was blessed to have my boyfriend come cheer me on.  He ended up finding some other supporting boyfriends, brothers, and husbands to chat with at the start and finish line.  We woke up at 4:30 in order to travel to the race, park, pickup my race packet, and be set to go by the start time.  I was placed in corral 1 so the gun was going off at 8am sharp.

Surprisingly, I was not too tired.  Since I have been off caffeine now since the detox, this was my first race that didn’t include a prerace morning coffee.  I did have my green tea but that’s it.  This was a factor I thought would alter my performance detrimentally but I was wrong.

Overall, I ended up running a personal best! I ran in 1:53 which beat my last record by over a minute, even with a 1.5km hill in the last 5km!  My pace averaged out to be 5:25/km which I was very pleased with.  I learned a lot from this race and I couldn’t be happier.  

Lessons learned:

  • Hill repeats really do help come race day!
  • I do not need caffeine to get me energized
  • It’s better to have fun and run a good race without stressing so much about results
  • My Spibelt is amazing and I should use it more
  • Running with women is so much fun (so much lululemon running clothes to look at on the course!) and I would do this race again
  • Having my boyfriend at the finish lines makes for a good, smiling finish line photo

The temperatures ended up being perfect for a race. It probably ended up sitting at 12 degrees for the race but with no clouds, the sunlight was direct. I felt I was dressed perfectly and felt comfortable the entire run. My 5k split was 26:30 and my 10k ended up around 53 minutes; I did not have a negative split (and I’m blaming that on the hill).

I can’t wait to run in a race again now that I have this renewed ease of racing and I’m excited to see how my race photos turned out!