I am just too tired tonight to write any sort of coherent blog post.
So, I will post a few pics from my half marathon instead.
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?
No, I won’t be writing a post about each yoga class that I attend. However, I felt the need to write this one, because my second Bikram Yoga class kicked my ass! For some reason it felt much hotter, much longer and much harder than my first class. Maybe it was because I was getting further into the poses? Maybe I hadn’t drank enough water the day before? Maybe I was tired because I woke up at 5:45 am (ON A SATURDAY!!) so that I could eat two hours before the 8 am class? Maybe it was because my body was detoxing? (Whatever that means…that is what the owner of the studio told me…I’m not sure if I believe in the whole detox your body through sweaty yoga…plus I already eat healthy and workout often…is there really a lot to detox??) Whatever it was, I survived my second class. Just had to lie down a few times during the standing poses because I felt a bit dizzy and nauseous. I’m not giving up though…I will be going back again Wednesday morning!
There are some benefits of the extreme heat in the class – today when I went for my run it felt positively breezy and balmy even though it was quite a hot day. I think I will withstand the heat of the summer better this year because of my body acclimatizing to the heat from the class.
Another benefit – at the end of the class, our teacher told us to thank ourselves for coming out early on a Saturday morning. She told us to take the feelings we get from yoga and use them in the rest of the day – the concentration, the self-control, the determination, the gratitude! I’m definitely trying to do this. Especially the self-control. It’s so easy to blow up at our kids and our spouse over little things. It takes a lot of self-control to remain calm in stressful situations, and I know it is something I have to work on. I tried to exercise my self control yesterday when the kids were driving me batty, doing things that all kids do (making a mess, dawdling when we needed to get out of the house, running away when I tried to get them in their pajamas, etc). It is HARD not to get annoyed and frustrated with these behaviours. However, if I can do yoga in a 40 degree room for 90 minutes, I know I can face any situation that the kids throw at me.
So, in spite of a hard yoga class yesterday, I am still so glad that I went. I can see why people get addicted to these classes, as their benefits stretch far beyond the yoga studio walls. Can’t wait until my next class!
I’ve been meaning to get back into yoga for quite some time now. I keep reading how yoga complements running and how important it is to stretch out your muscles and build up core strength in order to avoid common running injuries.
I’ve dabbled in yoga in the past. I adored it during both of my pregnancies – it was a wonderful way to relax and stretch out my sore pregnant body. It was a great way to practice breathing and meditating – both of which were useful during my labours.
Last week I noticed that a local Bikram Yoga studio was offering one of those Groupon-type deals – $30 for one month of unlimited yoga. I had to give it a try. I figured even if I only went two times in the month, it was worth it. So I bought the coupon, and yesterday I went to my first class.
What is Bikram Yoga?
Bikram Yoga is a series of 26 yoga postures done in a certain sequence, practiced in a room heated to 40 degrees Celcius. Each class is 90 minutes.
Benefits of Bikram Yoga
There are many benefits to practicing yoga in a heated room. The heat allows your body to stretch more easily and this can increase flexibility. You will sweat a lot, which helps to flush out toxins from your body. You will get a cardiovascular workout without putting stress on your joints. You will challenge your mind and your body. You will increase your concentration.
Preparation before your first class
I was nervous before my first class and I did not know what to expect. I did some reading online and learned that it is essential to come to the class well hydrated. I drank a lot of water the day before the class and about a litre of water in the morning before the class. I also brought half a litre of water with me and filled it with ice cubes so that it would stay cool during the class. You also need to bring a mat and a large towel to go on top of the mat to catch all the dripping sweat. I ate a small breakfast about two hours before the class – my staple before workout breakfast – vegan overnight oats.
As mentioned above, the class is 90 minutes and is held in a room heated to 40 degrees Celcius. As soon as I walked into the room, the wall of heat hit me. 40 degrees feels hot. It feels like the hottest summer day with no breeze, the kind of day where you sit in the shade and don’t move, and you are still sweating. I set up my mat and towel quietly and waited for the class to start. Silence was observed as soon as you walk into the room – no one was chit chatting. Everyone was on their mat stretching a bit or lying down in shivasana.
I was quite surprised that the class was full on a Wednesday morning at 9:30 am. I honestly thought there would be 3 or 4 people there and there were probably over 25. I expected everyone to be super fit, but there were people there in all shapes and sizes. Men, women, young, and old! Most women were wearing tanktops and shorts, or a sports bra and shorts. I wore my Lululemon Groove Shorts and a Moving Comfort Juno Sports Bra. I had a Lululemon Swiftly Tank on also but I took that off as soon as I got into the room and realized how hot it was and how soon it would be covered in sweat.
The teacher walked into the room and welcomed everyone, including all the new students to the class. He said that he would not be doing the poses, but he would be describing them to us, and that the new students could watch the experienced students if we needed to see a pose.
He led us through the series of 26 poses. Each pose is done twice. The first half of the poses are standing poses and the second half are lying down poses. The teacher spoke A LOT. It almost felt like yoga boot camp! He kept telling us to bend further, go lower, try harder.
The stretching felt so good. I loved being in the heated room. I loved dripping in sweat. I was sweating in places I’ve never sweat before – I was surprised when I saw sweat on my shins. My heart was racing when I held the poses and I was shocked at what a great cardiovascular workout it was.
Apparently it is very common for beginners to feel dizzy or nauseous during the class. However, at no point did I feel dizzy, nauseous or sick. I credit this to being well hydrated, and also to being in good shape from running. I was surprised how quickly the 90 minutes passed.
After the class
I felt amazing after the class. I felt calm, relaxed, and invigorated. This feeling lasted throughout the day. I felt a tinge of a dehydration headache coming on after the class, and I made the headache go away by drinking a lot. I drank coconut water right after the class, followed by water mixed with Vega Electrolyte hydrator. Then I drank water throughout the day. I have had a sore back for the past few weeks, which I believe is from carrying Benjamin. He is 30 pounds now and it’s a workout just getting him in and out of his carseat. The poses from the class stretched out my back and made it feel so much better.
I loved the mental challenge of the class. When you are in a room that is 40 degrees, your body is telling you to get out of there and find somewhere cooler to go. It takes extreme mental concentration to not only stay in the room, but to complete all of the yoga poses. I loved the intensity of the class and I was impressed by how hard the other students were working on the poses and concentrating. I was proud of myself for doing the class and really challenging my body and mind. I also loved that there were no distractions during the class – no clock, no iPhone, no music – just 90 minutes to test your mental and physical strength, 90 minutes of sweating, 90 minutes of intense concentration. When was the last time that I didn’t look at my iPhone or another screen for 90 minutes (other than when I am sleeping of course)?
I can’t wait to go back! My goal is to go twice a week for the next 30 days.
Have you tried Bikram Yoga or another version of hot yoga? What did you think about it?
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:
Have you run any races? Have you learned any lessons from them?
I did it! I finished my first half-marathon on Sunday in 2 hours and 36 minutes. This of course is a personal best for me (by default, since it is my first half) and I am proud of myself. It was long, hot and sunny and painful at times, especially near the end. I still can’t believe that I did it!
As I learned during my prep for my 10k two weeks ago, a gluten free, dairy free and soy free diet works really well for me. I’ve been diligent about the diet for about 3 weeks now with no slip-ups and my stomach has been feeling great. As a bonus, my eczema is also almost completely gone! The week before the race was my taper so I only ran twice, two miles each time. I felt blah, tired and lazy all week – I really missed running! The day before the race I headed down to the Direct Energy Centre with my mom and Benjamin to pick up my race kit and visit the expo. The expo was fun – lots vendors, lots of samples of various protein drinks and bars. I stayed away from most of them but enjoyed the Gidi Yoyo chocolate and Sha Sha buckwheat snacks. We didn’t stay long at the expo as I wanted to rest my legs. I tried to eat a lot of carbs the day before, and drink a lot of water. I attempted to go to bed early, but of course it was very difficult to sleep.
The half-marathon began at 8:30 am. I woke at 5:40 am so I would have time to eat my pre-race breakfast, vegan overnight oats, and drink some Vega Electrolyte Hydrator. This breakfast works really well for me. My stomach felt good, and I felt full, but not stuffed after breakfast. I left the house just after 7 and I drove up to the start at Mel Lastman Square by myself (there was no way we were going to get the kids up and ready to go by 7am!). I got there quickly and parked on a side street. I ate one Vega Sport Endurance Gel about 30 mins before the race. Luckily I arrived in time to make a quick portopotty stop – the lines were long but went quickly. It was a lot warmer out that I expected. It was probably about 12 degrees at the start and quickly went up to 18 degrees. This doesn’t seem so hot, but the sun was blazing down and there was little shade. I had on my throwaway jacket, but discarded it before the race even started. I wore my Lululemon Swiftly Short Sleeve T, and my Lululemon Inspire Crops. I also had on a Nike running hat and sunglasses. And of course my trusty Mizuno Wave Elixirs. I was SOO thankful to have both my hat and sunglasses. Really needed them both!
I lined up in my corral just before 8:30. The corrals weren’t organized very well. I situated myself somewhat near the back and before I knew it, it was time to start. I knew I had to start out slowly or there was no way I was going to finish. Here are my splits:
Mile 1 – 10:57
Mile 2 – 11:15
Mile 3 – 12:46
Mile 4 – 12:07
Mile 5 – 11:18
Mile 6 – 11:43
Mile 7 – 10:48
Mile 8 – 11:34
Mile 9 – 11:35
Mile 10 – 12:30
Mile 11 – 11:31
Mile 12 – 8:52
Mile 13 – 7:59
Mile 14 – 11:27
A few things to note about my splits. I’m happy that I was able to keep most of my miles faster than 12min/mile. I attribute the ones higher than 12 to either hills, or water stops where I walked a bit. I’m not sorry that I slowed down on hills or walked while drinking as it was important to get fluids in because I was HOT. As I mentioned before, it was really hot and sunny. It was the kind of day where it was cool and beautiful in the shade, and hot in the sun. 95% of the race was not shaded, and I really felt the sun beating down on me. After training through the winter, I wasn’t really prepared for the heat. Should I have worn shorts? It was warm enough, but I really like the support that the Inspire Crops give me. They hold my tummy and thighs in and prevent jiggling, and they are really lightweight. So I think they were a good choice. I was also glad that I applied sunscreen before I left the house in the morning.
I was so thrilled to see my parents around mile 5, Jake, my brother in law and my kids at mile 6 and at the finish line, and my brother at mile 7. Knowing that I would see them helped me push through and, they also snapped some great pics.
I was feeling good with no aches or pains until about mile 5. At mile 5, my left ankle started to hurt. This pain went away around mile 7. Mile 7 was beautiful, down Rosedale Valley Drive. Finally there was some shade and it was cool and breezy. Miles 8-10 were brutal. They were down Bayview and River Street. There was no shade. It was hot. There were no spectators. The scenery was ugly. My stomach started to rumble and I started to feel sick. Earlier that morning, I had received an inspirational tweet from my cousin who was also running the half marathon. She is an accomplished cyclist who races (and wins!) a lot, and she wrote:
It’s all in your head. Just tell your brain to push through and you will kick butt.
Her words helped me push through miles 8-10. I wasn’t going to give up because of a tummy ache, and some hot weather. I told my body that I had to keep going and I wasn’t going to stop. I willed that stomach ache away. By mile 11 we were in the downtown core and there was a breeze, some shade and I was feeling good again. I pushed pushed pushed through those final miles.
Another thing to note – according to my GPS, I ran 14 miles and crossed the finish line in 2 hours and 36 mins, but a half marathon measures in at 13.1 miles. I really tried not to weave this time but I still inadvertently added 0.9 miles to my race. Oh well! I am thrilled that I ran mile 12 in 8:52 and mile 13 in 7:59. I really gave it my all in those last two miles, as I tried to make it in before 2 hours and 30 minutes. However, once I got to 13 miles I unexpectedly still had one mile to go. That last mile was BRUTAL. I couldn’t wait to see that finish line. My legs felt like they were going to break off and when I finally saw the finish I was absolutely thrilled.
As for race nutrition and hydration – I ate a Vega Sport Endurance Gel at mile 5 and mile 10. I drank a full cup of water at every aid station (and also poured one down my shirt or on my head!). I had my Amphipod Hydration Belt on and I filled one bottle with water, and 2 with Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator. They gave out Gatorade along the way, but there was no way I was drinking that nasty stuff! I drank my electrolyte drink intermittently throughout the race. This worked for me, as I had practiced drinking and eating on my long runs. It is so important to practice race fuelling and hydration to figure out what works best for you!
I could barely walk when I was done the race. My legs felt like lead blocks. They were so stiff and it was hard to lift them. I got my medal, picked up a banana and called Jake. I was not impressed with the post-race party. It was in a parking lot, there was a fence around it and there was a lot of confusion because the 5k was starting at noon. So there were a lot of runners milling about aimlessly and I couldn’t even find water. Jake and the boys weren’t allowed in the party (or were they? I’m not sure. There was someone guarding a small entrance into the fenced in area and they didn’t allow them in). I was exhausted and didn’t feel like hanging around and couldn’t wait to get home.
However, the only thing harder than running a half-marathon, is taking care of small kids after running a half-marathon. It’s not like I could go home and have a nap or sit on the couch for the rest of the day. The kitchen counter needed to be wiped, the kids needed to be fed and diapers needed to be changed. That is life as a mom and of course I’m so grateful for my wonderful kids, but next time after a half I will employ the help of babysitters or perhaps grandparents.
If you had asked me immediately after the race if I would do another one, I would have said NO WAY. I’m already changing my mind. I’m slowly forgetting the pain of the last 3 miles and already plotting my next few races.
A half marathon is hard. Perhaps this is obvious. (Perhaps if you run 100 mile ultramarathons, a half marathon is easy…I guess it is all relative.) A half marathon requires dedicated training, knowledge of your body and fuel requirements. You feel like crap after a half marathon. My whole body ached Sunday and I had a splitting headache. I forgot about my ankle pain because that was nothing in comparison to the pain in my hip flexors. I could barely roll over in bed Sunday night. I felt better Monday, and feel almost back to normal today. I really didn’t expect it to hurt so much.
My mom asked me after the race – what is the point of running a half marathon? I think she just didn’t like to see me in pain, which is understandable. The point is I wanted to prove to myself that I could do something hard. And why not do it? I run because I can. I’m thankful that I have the health and the ability and the time to run. I saw this quote yesterday, and it sums up the way I feel about running:
Don’t ask me why I run. Ask yourself why you don’t.
I love that Dylan watches me race. He brought in my medals and a cow bell from the race to school for show and tell. I’ve already decided that I’m going to do the Oasis Zoo Run in September. It is a 10k through the Toronto Zoo. There is a 1k race for kids and Dylan wants to do it. I’m so thrilled!
I’m already plotting my next half marathon. I know I can go faster! I have been bit by the long distance running bug. The pain of a race is fleeting, but the memories of pushing my body and my mind will last forever. Perhaps there is even a full marathon in my future…
Half-marathon training has been progressing nicely, even though I haven’t been very good at blogging about it!
I’ve switched from running 4 days a week to running either 3 or 4 days a week, depending on how I’m feeling. I find that my legs really need that extra day off running to rest and recover. In lieu of the 4th run, I’ve been cross-training with either Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred DVD, or a workout from my Nike Training Club App.
Here’s what I’ve done the last 4 weeks:
Week 7 – 2 miles, 9 miles, 4 miles
Week 8 – 3 miles, 4 miles, 4 miles, 2 miles
Week 9 – 2 miles, 10 miles, 4 miles
Week 10 – 3 miles, 11 miles, 2 miles (planned), 6 miles (planned – Yonge St. 10k)
As you can see, my long run has progressed to 11 miles. I ran the 11 miles today. I don’t want to say it was easy, because it wasn’t, but it was definitely manageable. I find the long runs to be empowering, and they give me a sense of accomplishment. When I’m feeling stressed during my daily activities (kids won’t go to bed, kitchen is a disaster after dinner) I often think back to my run and think that if I can run 9, or 10, or 11 miles then I can certainly get the kids to bed or clean up the kitchen!!
The long runs are also draining. I find I am energized and have a runner’s high after a 3 or 4 mile run, but after 11 miles, I’m tired. And it doesn’t really matter that I’m tired. It’s not like I can put my legs up for the rest of the day or have a nap – I still have my kids to chase after, groceries to buy and dinner to make. Oh and I’m not complaining. I chose to run the half-marathon and I’m still glad that I’m training for it and doing it. I’m just saying it’s draining. Because it is! I have new found respect for every athlete that is also a mom.
While the long runs are tiring, I’m grateful that I can do them. I often run through a beautiful cemetery near our house. Here’s one of the stunning views I experience on my runs:
There is something very humbling about being able to run through a cemetery. I’ve witnessed a truck digging a grave a few times, and I’ve also run by a few funerals. There’s nothing like being reminded of death to make you think about life, and what you want to make of it! As Steve Jobs so eloquently said in his 2005 Standford commencement address, “Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent.”
So I will end with that deep thought. Goodnight!
So I’m already 3 weeks into my half marathon training…just 9 weeks left until the big day! It is hard to believe that in just over 2 months I will be running the longest distance I have ever run – 13.1 miles. Up until now, the longest I’ve gone is 10k or about 6 miles, so I will be doubling that distance plus a bit. Yikes!!
I managed to get in all of my planned runs in weeks 2 and 3.
Week 2 had me running 2 miles, 3 miles, 3 miles and 5 miles.
Week 3 had me running 2 miles, 3 miles, 3 miles and 6 miles.
I did the 6 miler today. It was a fairly mild but windy day in Toronto today, and somehow I had the bright idea of running the 6 miles on my parents’ treadmill. This turned out to be a very bad idea. 2 miles in I was bored out of my mind and also too hot! I’ve really gotten used to the cold running temps and running in room temperature with no breeze did not feel nice at all.
So after 2 miles I bundled up and headed outside to finish up the final 4 miles. Much much much better! Part of the reason I love running so much is that it gives me a chance to get outside in the winter, when I normally would be inside.
Week 4 will be a step back week where my long run is only 4 miles. This will give my body a chance to rest up a bit before the next week, where I will be attempting 7 miles – my longest distance to date. I really enjoy the challenge of the long runs. I know that I need to work on my speed because I am SO SLOW (12 minute miles??!!) but for now I don’t want to get injured, so slow it is!
Related to injuries, I’m never quite sure when my running shoes are worn out. I find they tend to last me around 4-6 months and towards the last few weeks of their life, I start to get weird aches and pains. For the last 2 weeks I’ve been feeling a twinge of a pain in my left ankle after a run and I wasn’t sure if it was because I have been running a lot, or because my shoes are worn out.
I’ve been wearing my current pair since September, so I decided to treat myself to some new shoes this week. I stopped by my local Running Room and purchased a pair of Mizuno Wave Elixir 7s. Tried them out today on my 6 mile run and they were amazing!!!
They are really light weight but still provide support for over pronators, such as myself. It also doesn’t hurt that they are purple with a fun tiger print pattern that is a bit 80s but kinda cool! My ankle is feeling good, so it appears that my new shoes were actually a need, rather than just a want.
Have you purchased any fun new running gear lately?
I started running in July 2011 and I’ve been having a lot of fun. I trained all summer and ran my first race – the Yorkville Run 5k – in September. It was such an exhilarating experience – normally running is a solitary experience for me (other than sometimes pushing Ben in the stroller) and it was so great to get out there and run with hundreds of other people around downtown Toronto. I felt so proud running across the finish line knowing that I had set a goal for myself and reached it.
After that race I knew I wanted to run another one. I originally thought I’d try a 10k in the spring, but I now want to try something more challenging. I’ve already run the 10k distance a number of times on my normal weekly runs. I thought about training to improve my time but for some reason the long distance of a half marathon is calling out to me.
So I’m going to run the Goodlife Toronto Half Marathon on May 6, 2012. That means I will be running 21km, or 13.1 miles with 7,000 other people!
Running a half marathon definitely requires real prepration. I’m going to be following a training plan set out in the No Meat Athlete Half Marathon Roadmap. It is a 12 week training plan for vegetarian athletes (such as myself!).
I plan on running 4 times a week – with 3 short runs during the week and 1 long run each weekend. I will likely be doing the short runs pushing Ben in the stroller and hopefully doing the long runs on my own. We are going to be getting a treadmill so I can get runs in even if the weather is not co-operating. My first choice is always to run outside but sometimes that can’t happen if it’s super cold or icy and slippery.
My goal with this half marathon is just to finish it. I don’t have a specific time goal in mind. I want to remain injury free while training and I want to have fun with this!
My half marathon is 14 wks away so my training officially begins in 2 wks. I can’t wait!
I will be posting my training progress here over the next few months. I hope you will enjoy reading about it!
Do you have any exercise related goals for 2012? Are any of you training for spring races?
I’ve taken a bit of a blogging break lately. Dylan was off school for winter holidays, we went away for 10 days, and now we are back in the swing of things.
You may have noticed a shift in my blog in 2011. My blog started off as a place for me to write my thoughts about parenting and breastfeeding. In 2011, I started writing more about exercise and healthy eating. In reality, I think all of these themes are connected – my interest in parenting and breastfeeding ultimately led me to my interests in exercising and healthy eating. I hope that the healthy habits I am establishing my own life will be an example for my boys!
Hopefully you have enjoyed the new direction my blog is taking, as I plan for it to continue to move that way in 2012.
Happy New Year readers! I look forward to spending 2012 with you.