Friday, January 30, 2015

Marathon Training 2015

I've been procrastinating from writing this post.  Maybe somewhere not so deep down I feel like if I actually put out there that I'm training that I'll have to actually admit I'm knee deep in this thing.  It has been 9 years since I trained for anything.  And I can't say I really trained for my marathon back then either.  I pulled my achilles tendon 5 months before the race, spent a month in an aircast, and was happy just to get there and finish.  I had hired a personal trainer to get me to Boston and I remember him saying to me that he could train me to get even faster.  I knew though that wasn't where I wanted to go, and I had been wanting and waiting to have kids for a few years already at that point.  I hung those racing and training shoes up, and now here I am, 9 years later, and ready to lace them back on (with some trepidation).

In the past nine years, I did run two marathons.  Goofy when my eldest was just over 18 months, and then this past year I ran Calgary.  But both of those races I jogged (can you jog a marathon?).  I found a pretty easy cruising pace, and I cruised (don't get me wrong, I cruised with pain).  But I got through those marathons running minimum runs per week (with Goofy I only ran the back to back long runs!!).  My third baby is now 2.5, and when my eldest brother suggested our family all run the Vancouver Marathon together, I felt the push to start taking my running more seriously again.

My eldest with my Goofy medals
I drafted up a plan.  It includes 4 runs per week.  One long run, a tempo run, a recovery run, and a hill or speed session.  It looked scary on paper, and it feels scarier trying to actually get it done.  In particular a mid week tempo run is proving really challenging.  It is "easy" to get in a 5K, hill, or speed workout done on the treadmill with my 2 and 5 year old around, but I can't do longer than that with them left to their own devices.  That means I need to find time to do a 10K tempo run at night.  Hmmm.  There are a few things I've learned about myself.  I don't do anything well past 7:30 at night.  Trying to do a tempo run at 8 pm has not been working.  This week I moved it to a Tuesday night which worked much better as I was able to get out at 6:30, but that puts my tempo and long run VERY close together.  Not wise when the kilometers start to increase.  Semantics.  I'll figure it out.  Like getting back onto a bike after years away.  I know how to run but figuring out all these little bits is challenging me.

I have no idea what my tempo pace is.

Or my long run pace.

Or what a steady run is.

I do know what an acheivable marathon time though is.  So I'm working from there and each week trying to figure out the other stuff.

I'm going into week 4, and each week feels a bit easier than the one previous.  My kids are adjusting too, especially after the Stride Run Streak, knowing I spend quite a bit of time lacing up my running shoes.  My son said to me the other night "When I grow up, I want to be a runner".

I'm glad that such a big part of who I was, is becoming a big part of who I am again, and that it is having a positive reflection on my kids.

13 weeks to Vancouver!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Knitting an Icelandic Sweater

This past July/August, my parents went on a trip to Iceland to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary (wow!) as well as my Dad's Retirement (yes!).  We always miss them alot when they travel.  I look forward to their trips with dread.  My parents not only help alot with my kids, but I talk to them (or text) them, sometimes multiple times a day.  When they are away, I really notice the silence.

As I write this they are currently off again visiting a warm weather destination.  The silence is filled with comfort this time as I've cast on an Icelandic sweater kit they brought me home as a birthday gift from their trip last Summer.

The yarn itself is Icelandic, Lettlopi, comparable a bit to Cascade 220.  The original kit colours had the main colour as black which my Mom switched out to an awesome yellow/lime green (pictured on the left).  She switched out a couple other colours for me as well.

The sweater is knit from the bottom up, and has been an interesting project in sweater shaping and sizing.  I cast on for the womans small size, decreased to just above a childs 8-10, then back up again to somewhere between that and a 10-12.  My arms are crazy long, so in order to acheive the right length I think I have to knit the men's large.  Ha ha.  Other than the bottom which had some colourwork it has been round and round stockinette.  I think it's all the math calculation which has me working on this so fiercely.  I keep wondering "will this actually fit?" and have tried it on twice just to be sure.

I'm currently sitting at 37cm and have to get to 42 in the body before I switch to the arms.  This sweater saves the best for last.  All that awesome colorwork is waiting for me.  Must knit faster!

Out of some stockinette boredom today I skeined 4 of the darker balls to give them a pre-wash.  I also added some conditioner into the mix to see how much it would soften up the yarn.  Amazingly the yarn hardly lost any dye at all, but I'm still glad I checked.  It would be alot of work to knit this all up then have the dark colours bleed.

I'll keep posting progress photos as I go along!

Monday, January 26, 2015


Often times I think of something to write on this blog, but by the time I would have time to sit down and type it out, I either have forgotten the idea, I can't find the right words anymore, or it is no longer applicable (ie the post would have made more sense to actually post it on the day it was intended).  I'd like to say "so it goes with having three kids", but I know many a blogger who can pull off the feat of blogging daily, or near daily, while raising children.

This blog here has been "open" now for a year.  Prior to this space, I had another that I kept up for five years, making the move here after deciding I wanted my kids less present on the web.  That decision has been all encompassing with also limiting their exposure on Facebook, as well as on school websites where their work or photo may have been published.  It isn't a decision I regret, but I do spend time thinking occasionally of what my old space gave me.  Some really dear friends that have carried through to some of my other more personal spaces (such as Instagram where I do post photos of the kids).  I read their blogs, they read mine, we commented back and forth, sometimes even sent eachother real snail mail, and friendships were formed.

The internet really is an amazing place isn't it?  One of those cases where our world does truly feel small.  This space is quieter than my last, but I know you are out there reading.  Occasionally I will post and my phone will ding with a text, or someone will call to offer comment.

Obviously the subject matter here is much different than my prior space, with much more focus on me rather than my little people.  Slowly and surely (ahem very slowly), that is also becoming true in my life off the web.  My kids are still little (with my youngest only being two), but with no more kids coming behind her, more and more I'm finding more time for me.

When I came home from my run on Sunday, I spent some time reading through others blogs, and read this one by the Yarn Harlot.  It brought up all these thoughts I just shared with you.  A thank you from me, to you, for reading this space, for reading my prior space, for commenting, texting, sharing, and for friendship.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

When Winter brings you Summer

As I write this, I have three kids wrapped behind me in blankets eating popcorn, and a slurpee sitting beside me.  Yes, a slurpee, on January 25th.  Summer arrived today in the middle of Winter.  It's an amazing 14C outside.  A record high for the day.  And oh have I (we) soaked it in.

There was a 21K run today.

Then home for some trampoline jumping and strawberry eating (prepared by my 7 year old.  Time moves fast.  She can now cut up and serve us strawberries).

In shirts (and one in shorts) we headed off to the playground.  The littlest one potty training and out without a diaper.  Not only that but she walked the whole way there and I pulled an empty wagon.  Times are sure changing and moving out of babydom is in full force.

A solid hour spent on the playground, slurpees picked up across the street, and back at home.

Those kids (and I!) have earned the appropriate January blanket snuggling and popcorn eating.

What a treasure today was.  Supposedly Wednesday will be 16C.  I hope you are all getting outside to enjoy it too!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Muffin Monday

One of my resolutions this coming year (note I didn't use the word goal because this HAS to stick) is to make healthier snacks and meals for my family.  For a good chunk of time I was using a meal planner, and using flyers to buy things on sale and in bulk.  I rarely needed to make an emergency run to the store.  Sometime this past Fall, with the craziness of two kids in programs and a toddler underfoot, my planning slipped.  We started eating out more, I had more meals on the table I wasn't pleased with, and over the holidays I knew I wanted things to change.

Monday mornings are always spent at home, so I plan to make a fresh batch of muffins at the start of each week.  Muffins are great for school snacks, and also great for a quick add on to a breakfast.  I like my muffins less cake like, and more health focused.  I hope you enjoy the recipes I post here that I've baked for my family.

First up today, looking at what I had in my kitchen, I turned to a recipe that I could use apples with.  Here's what I found:

For the apple muffins:
  • 1½ cups finely chopped apples (I used Pink Lady // with peel is great!)
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (I used double acting)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
For the crunchy topping:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  1. To prep ingredients: Microwave or heat the coconut oil until it's liquified. Repeat the same process for the milk to bring it to room temperature. (If you don't do this, the coconut oil will clump together when it mixes with the cold milk.) Add the vinegar to the milk and let it sit for a few minutes to turn into "buttermilk" - or just use real buttermilk instead!
  2. For the muffins: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk the coconut oil, buttermilk, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Add the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and allspice. Stir until just combined. Fold in the apples. Scoop the mixture into a greased or lined muffin tin - mini, regular, or jumbo sizes will all work.
  3. For the topping: Melt the butter for the topping. Add the sugar and cinnamon; spoon over the tops of the muffins. You only need a little bit to get the crunchy top effect, but if y
    ou love those crunchy cinnamon sugar tops, I'd suggest making twice or three times as much topping as what's listed here.
  4. Bake the muffins for 15 minutes, more or less by a few minutes depending on size. The muffins should be golden brown with big round tops that spring back when you press them.
These are intended to be very simple without a really strong cinnamon flavor (other than the topping) - there is one teaspoon of allspice (which carries some cinnamony flavors) in the batter, but if you are looking for more than just a pinch of spice, I'd suggest adding a teaspoon of cinnamon or nutmeg to the batter.

These turned out really great.  My littlest quickly ate three of them (I always bake mine into mini muffins).  Even my middle who is my harder to please eater, enjoyed them.  Plus for me is I didn't have to bring out my mixer for them, I was able to do it all by hand.  The coconut oil only took about 45 seconds to melt in the microwave.  One Gala apple was plenty for one batch.  Wanting to avoid the extra sugar, I left the topping off.

If you make them would love to hear what you think!

Here's to a (hopeful, they may not last that long) week of muffin goodness :)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year Running Reflections

Happy New Year friends!  Are you one to set resolutions?  I must say I'm not.  I put enough pressure on myself without having to have a word define that I should get something accomplished.  But I do like setting goals.  (Notice how the slight change in word gives some wiggle room to get out of it all) ;)

I spent some time yesterday reflecting on 2014.  I went into the year hoping to run a half marathon.  December of 2013 I ran my first 10K post having my littlest, and did NOT feel prepared for the Hypothermic Half I was set to run in February.  I'm excited looking back that not only did I run that half, but by the end of the year, running a half became an easily accomplishable goal.  I even ran my first full marathon in June!
Running in Banff beginning of December.
Such a beautiful course.  This is on my must do list now!
Running into the finish at Drumheller.

With the full marathon under my belt, I've set some time goals for myself for 2015.  In May I will run the Vancouver full marathon, and would love to see a time of 4:30.  I ran Calgary in just over 4:40 after having some difficulty on course.  I have some ways to mitigate the issues I had if they appear again in Vancouver, so feel sort of confidant about the 4:30.  
What a treat to train for the Calgary Marathon in Hawaii!
Running becomes a way of life when you look for local races to run every time you travel :)
2015 will be the year that I actually start training again.  Not just running.  I'll be saying hello to hills and speed work again, as well as increasing my weekly mileage.  Woah it's been a long time since I had a mid week run of 10K.  Yelp!  I'm feeling a little bit daunted, but think that's a healthy mindset to have. 

Even my kids ran their first race!
2014 saw me finish off doing the Strides run streak.  It ended up being my heaviest mileage month of 2014, running a total of 155K, and 15 hours.  That tops my marathon lead up month by 14K!  Knowing I am capable of running every day makes the higher mileage coming up seem more accomplishable.

As for my half distance, yesterday I ran a new PB (on a long run, not a race) of 2:02.  That's a cut of 13 minutes from when I ran the half in February!  I'd love in 2015 to see that time chip below the 2 hr mark.

Seeing my family for the first time on course at the Calgary Marathon.  My family are my pit crew, my motivation, and support.
Never thought I'd see the day where I would get to "run" with family.  Wonderful to celebrate with my older brother at the Marathon as he completed his first Ultra of 50K.
Finishing off the year yesterday with a new half PB!

This morning I'll be signing up for a couple more races for the upcoming year.  A trail race, and a run in a new town.  Might even add in one more race (or two!) on the west coast.

I'm so pleased to be back in the place I was before kids, where running is a big part of who I am.  As my husband says, I'm happier when I come back from a run.  It decompresses me, gives me time to think, and makes me a better me.

Have you set any fitness resolutions/goals for the year?