Sheryl Jesin

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Training for Half-Marathon #2

It’s official! Training for my second half marathon, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, began last week. Only 14 weeks til the big day – Sunday, October 14, 2012.

I’ve been running, biking and dabbling in some yoga since my first half marathon, which was almost 2 months ago. I’m excited to get back into some serious training. I had some fun working out my training plan. It is a bit more intense than my first plan as it involves more mileage, and more cross training. I plan on running 3 days a week, biking 3 days a week and resting 1 day a week. I know I need to do some upper body strength training and core work too – haven’t quite figured out when I will do that…maybe on my rest day and one of my bike days?

I want to improve upon the time I achieved in my first race, 2 hrs and 36 mins. However, I worry about pushing myself too much and getting an injury. Then I remind myself that there are athletes out there training for marathons and even Ironmans, and a half marathon is really not such a crazy endevour. So I’m going to throw it out there. I want to finish in 2 hrs and 15 minutes. I will re-visit this goal as I work my way through my training plan and adjust as necessary.

I will update you, dear readers, as my training progresses. It’s hard to believe that just around this time last year I was just starting to run, training for my first 5k. So much has changed in a year.

Are you training for any fall races?


Lessons learned from a half marathon

It’s been a month since my half-marathon.  Sometimes I still can’t believe that not only did I run 21km, but that I also found time to train properly for it.  I’ve been trying to keep up with my running, but I find that it’s not the same without a race looming in the future to motivate me to get out there.  I bought a new pair of shoes which got me running right after I bought them, but their lure is waning.

I’ve been experimenting with other forms of exercise, and went to my first Zumba class, which was a lot of fun.  It was a great cardio workout and I liked that it could be as high or low impact as you want.  I’ve also gone to a few free classes at my local Lululemon.  I’ve enjoyed their BOGA class – 1/2hr boot camp and 1/2hr yoga.  I realized by going to these classes that I have really increased my fitness level astronomically in the past year through running.  The Zumba class and the BOGA class were quite easy for me and I felt so happy about that!

I miss the burn and the feeling of exhaustion that I felt after my half marathon.  I miss the sense of accomplishment that I felt after the race and that I felt after my long training runs.  It’s hard to find time to go out for long runs.  I am definitely going to sign up for another half marathon in the fall.  I know that I can increase my speed and lower my time dramatically.

My half marathon was an amazing experience, and I learned a number of lessons that I would like to share with you.  They are as follows:

  1. Chafing happens – I always read on other blogs that runners experience chafing during long runs.  I never experienced this during my training and thought that I was immune to this problem.  However, at about mile 11 my armpits started to burn from my shirt rubbing against my skin.  The pain was real and I did my best to not think about.  Mind over matter, right?  However, for future races I will be using BodyGlide.  There is no need to experience the pain of chafing.  The burn in my legs at mile 11 was pain enough.
  2. Refueling after a race is not optional – I knew that I needed to eat after the race and packed up a few things for Jake to bring down to the finish line.  This included a scoop of Vega One and some water and a shaker cup, and some ShaSha Buckwheat snacks.    However, with all the excitement in finishing the race, I neglected to eat either of these things.  I had a banana, a couple slices of orange and that was it.  I didn’t even drink water until I got home a couple hours later.   This was a terrible idea.  I had a splitting headache for the remainder of the day after the race, and I attribute this to not drinking and eating properly right after the race.
  3. Employ babysitters post race – the only thing harder than running a half marathon is taking care of little kids after running a half marathon.  Jake had a full morning taking care of the boys, and bringing them down to the finish line, and was understandably done with them once we got home.  In hindsight I should have asked the grandparents to come over and watch the boys in the afternoon so that I could have a nap and veg out for the rest of the day.  Instead, I ran around with them outside, and did other things that did not aid in my recovery.  This did not help with my splitting headache.
  4. Start out A BIT faster – I wish that I had started out faster.  I was so worried about beginning too fast and burning out that I ended up running with people who were….slow.  This slowed me down.  For example, there was a girl near me wearing long yoga pants, a sweater, a very unsupportive bra, and her long hair was loose.  I didn’t get it.  It was so hot out.  Needless to say, she wasn’t very speedy.  I have no idea how she finished 13.1 miles like that.  I wish I had run with people who were faster (and dressed properly), so that I would have been motivated to go faster.

Have you run any races?  Have you learned any lessons from them?

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Meal Plan Monday

Nothing says springtime like fresh herbs growing on our balcony.  Right now we have parsley, thyme and basil, and I am enjoying incorporating them into my cooking.  I had some fun in the kitchen today whipping up a pesto with some parsley and basil from our garden and some baby kale I picked up at the farmer’s market.  Added in some olive oil, garlic, blanched almonds, salt, and mixed it all up in the Vita Mix.  Turned out great – can’t wait to eat it on Tuesday night!  My pesto has no cheese – and it is so flavourful that you don’t miss it at all.

Here’s this week’s meal plan:

Monday – out

Tuesday – Salad with baby swiss chard and baby kale, pesto pasta with white beans, steamed broccoli on the side.

Wednesday – Choosing Raw’s Lentil Loaf, potato salad, steamed french green beans

Thursday – same as Wednesday

Friday – out!

What are you cooking this week?

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Meal Plan Monday

I have jumped back on the FlyLady  bandwagon.  I’ve been Fly-ing on and off since I first started her program in November.  I stopped getting her emails when we went away in January and kept meaning to start up again.   I finally did last week and I am finding that the emails are so motivating!  I love all of her little saying – “A load of laundry a day keeps the C.H.A.O.S. (can’t have anyone over syndrome) away!” or “You can do anything for 15 minutes” or “Make it fun and it will get done”.    Last week’s zone was the master bedroom and I successfully cleaned up a lot of “hot spots” and did a nice closet purge.  Always feels good to de-clutter!

Part of the whole FlyLady routine is meal planning.  So here it is, Sunday night, and I’ve written out my meal plan and my grocery list.  The week is off to a great start!   Here is the meal plan for the week:

Monday – at my parents’ for dinner

Tuesday – Mixed bean and veggie soup, salad, asparagus, Kelp Noodle Bowl with Almond Chili Sauce (a new recipe I am trying from the Whole Foods to Thrive cookbook).

Wednesday- Soup and salad again, Quinoa pilaf with swiss chard (another recipe from the  Whole Foods to Thrive cookbook).

Thursday – Homemade falafel, roasted cauliflower, salad

Friday – out for dinner

Dylan is off school tomorrow so I am going to attempt to take both kids grocery shopping to my favorite store, Whole Foods.  Wish me luck!


The night before my half-marathon

It’s 10pm the night before my half marathon.  I should be in bed, but I know if I go to bed too early I will just toss and turn.

I’m feeling nervous and a bit worried.  The farthest I’ve ever run is 11 miles and tomorrow I have to race 13.1.  I’m trying to trust my training and know that I followed my plan and that adrenaline will keep me going during those last unknown 2.1 miles.  My ankle has been bugging me so I’m hoping that it behaves tomorrow.   The weather is supposed to be absolutely perfect – 10 degrees Celsius, sunny, no wind.   Some of my race day nerves have  been tamed because I had a great experience during my 10k two weeks ago, so I know what to expect.

Whatever happens tomorrow, I want to have fun.  I have no time goal and just want to finish!  No matter what happens, I am proud of myself for training and for giving the half marathon a shot.   This past week I’ve been tapering and letting my legs rest up.  I’ve only run 2 miles 2 times, and I’ve really missed running.  My head has been a bit foggy and I’ve felt lethargic.   I’m looking forward to exercising again on a daily basis once this race is over and enjoying the endorphins again.

Time for me to head to bed.  I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s adventure!


Race Recap – The Toronto Yonge Street 10k

Sleeping fitfully all night, waking up at 6 am, standing around in 4 degree Celsius weather for 45 minutes, using portapotties, pounding the pavement for 10k from Yonge and Eglinton all the way to Fort York…to normal people, this does not sound fun.   However, to me, and I am assuming to the other 6,000 people that ran the Yonge St. 10k with me today, it was the perfect way to start a Sunday morning.


Race prep for me started a week ago.  It meant being strict with my diet so that I ate no gluten or dairy AT ALL with the goal of having no stomach upset during the race.  I am pleased to say that this goal was met – absolutely no stomach issues during the race.  This is a big deal for me, as I have struggled with IBS for most of my life.

The day before the race, I ate a lot of carbs, and tried to minimize the amount of fibre I ate.  And of course, no dairy and no gluten.  I tried to stay off my feet as much as possible most of the day so that my legs would be fresh, and I drank lots of water so that I would be optimally hydrated.  I attempted to go to bed early, but had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.  Pre-race jitters contributed to this, as did the fact that a friend was in labour and I couldn’t stop thinking about her!  I ended up falling asleep around midnight, was up from 2:30-3:30am, and then was up for good at 6am.  Despite my crappy sleep, I woke up feeling good and ready to go!

Pre-race breakfast was eaten at around 6:45 am.  It consisted of overnight oats, courtesy of Oh She Glow’s Recipe.  It is my go-to breakfast before running.  If I eat it about an hour or two before running, it sits well in my stomach and provides me with lots of energy.  I kept hydrated by drinking Vega’s Electrolyte Hydrator  about an hour before the race.

The starting line was a 5 minute drive from our house, and we arrived there about 45 minutes before race time.   Jake and the boys joined me and it was great to have them there for moral support, and also because I could bundle up before the race started, and then hand off my jacket to them.   It was COLD this morning – about 4 degrees Celsius at the start of the race, and maybe went up to 5 by the end.  I think I actually overhydrated because I had to visit the portapotties a couple of times before the race started to empty my bladder – but there were plenty and lines were short.  That was a relief!

I wasn’t sure what to wear…I didn’t want to be cold, but I also didn’t want to be hot.  In the end, I decided on a pair of Lululemon Inspire Crops, a Swiftly T-shirt, and and thin jacket on top.  I also wore a throwaway sweatshirt for the first mile, and dropped it on the side of the road when I warmed up (clothes were collected and donated to a shelter).  I wore gloves, and two hats – a running hat and a baseball hat.  I got hot about half way through and took off the gloves and hat, but I am glad I had them for the first part of the race.

Bundled up before the race

My brother and law and I are almost ready to start!

Race Time

I lined up in my corral about 15 minutes prior to race time.  The corrals were well organized and didn’t feel too crowded.  I felt happy and excited when it was time to run and it was so amazing to see Yonge Street full of runners.   It was a treat to have the whole street closed off for us!

I tried to get a good shot of the street full of runners...this is the best I could do!

I wanted to start off conservatively but got caught up in the excitement and my first mile was run at a pace of 9:50 minutes/mile.  I had expected to run the race at approximately 10-11 minutes per mile, so 9:50 felt fast.  Well, believe it or not, I kept getting faster!  Here are my splits:

Mile 1 – 9:50

Mile 2 – 9:42

Mile 3 – 9:48

Mile 4 – 9:18

Mile 5 – 9:22

Mile 6 – 9:13

Mile 6.88 – 10:44

I’m not quite sure why my GPS told me that I ran 6.88 miles, when 10k is actually 6.2 miles.  I think I didn’t turn off the GPS right at the finish line, which explains my slow last 0.88 of the race.   Also, I spent a lot of time in the last mile passing people and weaving around them.  That could potentially add to the distance.

My chip time was 1:03:15.  I am absolutely thrilled with that result!  I had expected to finish at around 1:10-1:15 or so.  I felt strong throughout the race, and at no time felt like I had to stop and walk.  I did stop in the first few km briefly to take a few pictures, but that was it.  During the last km, I dug deep and ran as fast as I could.  A friendly stranger  said to me during the last km – we can do this together – and we both gave it all we could until the finish line.  She was so motivating!

There were aid stations at 4km and 7km with water, gatorade and portapotties – I didn’t drink anything during the race (or visit the portapotties, thankfully!).

Post Race

Jake and the boys met me at the end of the race.  There was a fun party with music and lots of good food.  I enjoyed the apples and bananas, and there was also Chiobani Yogurt, bagels and cookies, which the boys happily ate.  And of course plenty of water and gatorade.  I didn’t use the baggage check, but heard that it was well organized.  I quickly felt chilled after the race and was thankful to have Jake there waiting with my jacket.  We stayed for about 30mins at the party and then went out for lunch.  Then we came home, and everyone napped but me…not quite sure how that makes sense since I was the one that ran 10k!

Feeling proud after I received my finisher's medal

Final Thoughts

I am so pleased with my first 10k experience.  A year ago I couldn’t run for more than a couple minutes at a time, and now I easily ran 10k in just over an hour.  I feel like all of my training paid off and I’m thrilled that the weather co-operated, and that my stomach did too.  I felt a true sense of accomplishment when I crossed the finish line, and it goes far beyond running.   Running gives me the energy to make it through my day.   It lifts my spirits and makes me a happier mom and wife.   I was proud of myself today and it felt great to set an example for my kids.  I hope they grow up valuing exercise and what it can do for your mind and body.  Before bed today, I asked Dylan what his favorite part of the day was, and he said the race!  He also said he was proud of me.

Running is an amazing sport because everyday people can compete alongside Olympic athletes.  I ran today’s race, and so did Canada’s Olympic marathon contender, Reid Coolsaet.  How cool is that?  He won the race in 28 minutes – twice as fast as me!   His talent, determination and speed are truly inspirational.

Elite athletes at the starting line - Reid is in the black outfit in the middle

My first 10k was a phenomenal experience.  Can’t wait for my half-marathon in two weeks!

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What do you do all day?

I recently made the decision to not return to my job and instead stay home with my kids. This was a hard decision to make, but I am absolutely thrilled that I am able to be at stay at home mom right now.  I’m not going to turn this post into one of those mommy-war discussions, debating whether it is better to be a working out of the house mom, or a stay at home mom.   I think every mom should make the decision that works best for her family.  There is no right answer.

That being said, when I have told various people about my decision to stay at home, they often give me a slightly quizzical look and then proceed to ask me:  What do you do all day?  Aren’t you bored?

I’m honestly shocked that people feel the need to ask me what I do all day.  Especially people with kids.  Have you not spent an entire day with your kids?  What do you do on the weekends?  That is what I do everyday.  And do you really not know that I’m busy non-stop from the moment the kids wake up in the morning, until they go to sleep at night?  (Oh yeah – I’m often quite busy doing things AFTER they go to sleep too).

If you are honestly confused as to what a stay at home mom does all day, I suggest that you read this amazing article published in the Washington Post by Carolyn Hax.  This  quote pretty much says it all:

When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, clean, dressed; to keeping them out of harm’s way; to answering their coos, cries, questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys, and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from unshelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces the kind of checkout-line screaming that gets the checkout line shaking its head.

So yes.  I am doing something all day.   I don’t sit around eating bon-bons.  A couple weeks ago, someone asked me what I do all day and I responded by listing everything I do in a typical day.  Then they proceeded to tell me that I should be grateful that I can do it, because they know a mom of five kids that has a back problem and can’t get out of bed.  REALLY?  Yes, I know I’m grateful that I can walk and take care of my kids.  I wasn’t complaining about all the things I do everyday.  I was just telling them because they asked!  SHEESH!!

I find the “Aren’t you bored?” comment slightly insulting.  Yes, I really do.  Do you really care if I’m bored?  Or is the question some sort of veiled insult, insinuating that being home with kids is mindless work, and henceforth a non-worthy expenditure of time?  Of course, some parts of my day are boring.  It can be boring wiping the kitchen counters, or folding laundry.   However, I am willing to make the sacrifice and be bored sometimes if it means I get to be home with my kids and experience all the amazing parts of the day.   And let’s be honest, isn’t work sometimes boring?  When someone asks me if I am bored at home, I am tempted to ask them if they are bored at work.  When I worked as a lawyer, I sometimes found it boring riding the subway to and from work.  It was boring reading a document over and over a million times making sure there were no typos.  So whether you stay at home with your kids, or work, your day will sometimes be boring.  That is a fact of life.

This post ended up as a bit of a rant/vent.   It felt good to get it out.   For all you working   parents out there, please don’t read too much into this.   I’m not insulting you in any way.  As parents, (and in particular moms!), we are all doing our best to make it through the day!  Let’s support each other.   Just please stop asking me what I do all day!!!!

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Another race

So I decided to register for another race.  In two weeks I will be running my first 10k along with my brother-in-law, my running partner in crime.  We signed up for the Yonge St. 10k.   It promises to be a big, fun, downhill race down Yonge St.  My first race, the Yorkville 5k Run, had about 500 runners, and this one has 15,000….quite a difference…I’m excited and a bit scared too!

We figured this would be a nice way to ease into our half-marathon on May 6th.   Plus the starting line is just a few blocks from my house.   How could I resist?

I don’t plan on “racing” the 10k, as I don’t want to get injured close to the half-marathon.  I plan on taking it slow and easy, with the goal of having fun and just finishing.

Readers, any of you out there planning on running the Yonge St. 1ok?


Half Marathon Training Weeks 5 and 6

Week 6 of my half marathon training is now over…meaning that I am half way there with just a short 6 weeks to go until the big day.

My runs for weeks 5 and 6 were as follows:

Week 5 – 3 miles, 7 miles, 2 miles and 3 miles

Week 6 – 2 miles, 8 miles, 2 miles and 3.5 miles (one of those 2s was supposed to be a 3 but somehow I got confused…oh well!)

I’m not going to lie – the long runs felt LONG.  7 miles was hard, and 8 was even harder.  Before I go on a long run, I am always excited about the challenge, but it can also seem really daunting.   More than a few times during the long runs the negative talk in my head was a bit out of control.  It went something like this:  Why did I think I could run a half marathon?  This was a terrible idea.  Anything more than 10k is just stupid.  My legs are tired.  I’m hot.  I’m thirsty.  I can’t do this.  Why did I think that I could do this with two little kids at home?  I am the world’s slowest runner.  I’m not a real runner.

However, as the miles passed, I tried to silence the negative talk.   I also tried to break  the run down into manageable chunks.  I just concentrated on completing one mile at a time, because I know I can run one mile easily!   After mile 7 of my 8 miler I was very hot and very tired (summer arrived very early this week in Toronto), but I know I only had 1 mile left and 1 mile is easy peasy!  I pushed through that last mile and was thrilled and very proud of myself when I was done.

Signs of spring, as seen on my run

Life’s daily tasks, just like running, can seem very overwhelming with so many things to do!  Sometimes just getting myself and the kids up and ready in the morning so we can take Dylan to school seems nearly impossible!  There are so many little things to do – make the beds, throw in a load of laundry, get Benjamin dressed, make breakfast, clean up, get the kids in the car etc.  Each task on itself isn’t that hard, but all of them together can seem like too much.  So I try to conquer each distinct task at a time, and that helps me get through the morning rush.   So, lessons learned running also apply to my life – just like I tackle long runs one mile at a time, I know I also have to complete things at home one task at time, and eventually everything will get done!


How to make juice using a blender

I love smoothies.  I really do.  I tend to have one every day for breakfast.   They are an easy way to get in tons of fruits and veggies first thing in the morning and when I add in all my extras like protein powder, almond milk, chia seeds and more, they are very filling and keep me going til lunch.

However, sometimes I’m looking for something that will give me a big punch of nutrition without filling me up.  This usually happens in the afternoon – my energy levels are low and I need a little boost.  This is where juice enters!  And I’m not talking the kind of juice you buy in the supermarket that is basically just sugar water.  I’m talking about home made juice.  (No – I’m not exaggerating over store bought juice – the kind in bottles and the refridgerated brands like Tropicana too.  When they are made, they are heated so high during the pasteurization process that basically all flavour and nutritional value are lost.  Manufacturers then add in “natural flavour” and vitamin C.  Click here for more info.  I absolutely refuse to buy store bought juice.  My kids do have it on occasion when we are at someone’s house, but NEVER at home.  We just don’t buy it!)

OK – so back to juice making – I really want a juicer and it is on the wish list of things I want for my kitchen. Until then, my trusty Vitamix is my juicer!

When making juice, it is best to use a whole bunch of veggies and just enough fruit to make it palatable.  When you make juice, you remove the fibre from the fruits and veggies.  This is no big deal – I know I get tons of fibre throughout my day.  However, when you eat fruit, the fibre in them helps to balance out the sugar, which prevents spikes in your blood sugar level.  That’s why I just put a bit of fruit in my juices, and mainly concentrate on the veggies.    You can never get enough veggies in your diet!

Here’s a picture of the veggies and fruit I used in today’s juice – a big chunk of cabbage, 5 carrots, 2 stalks of celery, 1 apple, 1 small cucumber, half a lemon and a chunk of ginger.

Ready to be juiced

I began the process by putting a bit of water in the blender to get things going – perhaps a scant 1/4 cup.   Then I added the celery and cucumber and blended til smooth.  Then I added each item and blended.  It’s easier to add things slowly then trying to cram everything in there at once.

Once everything was blended and smooth, I strained the mixture.  We have a very fine sieve that I use for this process.  You could also use a nut milk bag, cheesecloth, or even an old t-shirt!  I held the sieve over a bowl and poured the mixture in.  Then I pressed it down using a spoon to fully get all the juice out.  Here’s what that looks like:

Straining the mixture

Isn’t it such a beautiful purple color?   The cabbage really makes it so pretty!  Once I was done straining, I poured the delicious juice into a glass.  Here is the final product:

The final product
Top view

The whole process probably took me 15 minutes.  The most time consuming part is pressing down the mixture with a spoon to get all the juice out.  I managed to do this with my toddler grabbing on to my leg and my 4 year old talking my head off about Lego.  A bonus with using the Vitamix for juicing is that the clean up is super quick.  (I’ve heard the conventional juicers are a pain to clean).

I thought the final product was delicious.  I might have added a bit more ginger, but otherwise the combination of veggies with the apple was perfect.  I should add that my 4 year old wouldn’t drink it, but my 1 year old loved it.  Perhaps my four year old would have liked it with less ginger and another apple!

Have you ever used your blender to make juice?  Also, do you have any favorite juice combinations?