Camore Rocky Mountain Half Marathon 2013

All done.

I can finally check “Run a half marathon” off my bucket list. Best part? I loved every second of the race. Although I was nervous the night before and hardly slept, I was very excited when my alarm went off on Sunday morning. Had my usual pre-run breakfast of PB toast and a banana, got dressed and headed over to the start of the race. It was a chilly morning but the sun was out and  no rain clouds were in sight which made me extremely happy, I hate rain with a passion.

The race organizers finally hoarded all 900 half marathon runners to the start line. The horn went off, I pressed start on my Garmin and off we went. A few of my friends racing the 10km came for the start of my race and it was so encouraging to see them and my dad in the first few metres.

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My first thoughts were “ok, settle in, find a comfortable pace” which quickly changed to “wow, a lot of people are passing me, am I really slow right now?”. I quickly calmed down after I passed a few people myself and forced myself to just focus on my own race. I played games for the first few km to chill out: who had the nicest outfit, which house I would pick if I lived on that street, what the best plan was if I encountered a bear…I have issues. I started feeling comfortable and relaxed around kilometre 4-5, when we switched from running in the street to a trail in the woods. It was so beautiful and so fun to be running with people around me. The entire course was gorgeous, the switch from street to forest to eventually running by the river was a real treat. I had a good laugh every time I reached a water station…is there a trick to drinking from a glass and running without spilling it all over yourself? I’m fairly certain every single volunteer died of laughter watching us runners get more water on our face/body than in our mouth!

I had a gel at about 10km and another at 16km. Around kilometre 15 I started getting excited, I was still holding a steady pace and the end was near. I still felt like I had a decent amount of energy and I knew the last part of the race had some awesome downhills. I started pushing harder at around the 19km mark. I knew I had less than 15minutes to go and that I was capable of a negative split. Soon enough I saw the 21km sign, turned the corner and spotted the finish. I quickly glanced at my watch and realized that I could finish in under 2.10:00 if I sprinted. I hadn’t officially set a goal time but I secretly really wanted to go under 2.10:00. End time? 2.09:06 !

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My initial thoughts when I decided to train for a half were that I would do it this summer and “get it over with” (yeah, running and I weren’t very good friends). I would race and then never have to do it again. Well, I’m fairly certain there will be more. I had tons of fun at the race and am already looking forward to dropping my time to under two hours. I heard about these “destination races” in wine country cities….yes please!!!

I cannot thank all my friends and family enough for the support and well wishes. I received so many wonderful messages this past weekend, my heart was filled with love on that start line yesterday morning.  I feel very blessed and lucky!

Steph

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Summer Challenge

I never stopped working out after I hung up my skates. Even if I had wanted to, my body was so used to sweating and training everyday that I felt “off” and couldn’t sleep well if I went more than 3 days without working out (okay, if i’m being totally honest, I was also terrified that I would gain 150lbs if I didn’t hit the gym everyday). So while I was able to maintain an active lifestyle and healthy eating habits (actually I’m pretty sure my diet is way better now than when I skated) I got BORED after 1.5/2 years of not skating. I was beginning to force myself to go to the gym instead of wanting to go. Training is what I miss the most about skating. I miss having training partners to cheer me on when I think i can’t push any harder and I really miss having a coach. Sure, I went on runs and organized gym dates with friends but it’s just not the same and I found it really hard not have something to train for. I also really missed being proud of myself. Staying healthy is a great reason to sweat but it just wasn’t enough anymore. I finally realized I needed to challenge myself, train for something I considered scary and that I wasn’t very good at…a half marathon.

Early morning run - Barcelona Spring 2012

Early morning run – Barcelona Spring 2012

I bit the bullet and signed up for the Canmore Half Marathon at the end of March. I think I had a mini panic attack when I hit that register button; the longest i had ever ran was 10km, usually got bored after 30minutes, and I found running to be really really hard. Running a half had always been on my bucket list but I figured I wouldn’t actually attempt one for quite a few years. I used my friend Google to do a bit of research on training plans and then just combined a few to my liking (yep, total amateur). My goal? Just train starting June 1st and finish the race September 8th. No time goal.

Training began a few days later than planned due to a 4 day escapade to Vegas. I bought a Garmin watch and kept increasing the distance every week. I felt strong and actually began to enjoy running. After 7-8km I always began to feel really calm and was able to settle into a groove and keep going until my watch told me I had achieved my goal for that day. Every Sunday my Garmin would inform me that I had ran a “New Record Distance”. After I hit 19km I had to take almost 3 weeks off due to some pretty intense knee pain. I hadn’t been stretching/foam rolling enough and my body was a hurting unit.

The race is now in 3 days. I leave for a Banff getaway with my dad tonight. My runners, shorts and gels are packed. How do I feel? Both nervous and excited. My goal for Sunday is to really just focus on having fun. Canmore is an extremely gorgeous town and I’m really excited to finally hit 21km!

Looking forward to updating you after Sunday!

Steph

Homemade Paleo Bars

You never EVER want to be around me when I’m hungry. I start to panic and I quickly become go from super happy to crazy cranky. Not sure why this happens, but it does which means I usually always stash a snack in my bag/jacket if I’m going somewhere and I’m unsure when I’ll be back. Homemade bars to the rescue. The following bars are healthy, have very few ingredients, and are fabulous at keeping the hunger monster away. They’re also a great pre-workout snack, I always have one of these on my way home from work and pre-workout. Best part? They taste awesome!

Homemade Paleo Bars

My work partner brought some of these paleo energy bars to work for me to try and I fell in love. The only change I made to her recipe was adding some unsweetened coconut.

Ingredients

  1. 1 cup pitted dates (soak dates if they’re too hard to process)
  2. 1 cup almonds
  3. ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  4. ½ bar dark chocolate (I use 85%)
  5. ¼ cup unsweetened coconut (optional)

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Pulse almonds in food processor until you have a crumbly mixture and then place in a mixing bowl. Do the same with the chocolate and dates.

Mix all ingredients with your hands until everything holds together. You may have to add a bit of water or coconut oil if the mixture is too dry and won’t stick.

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Spread evenly at the bottom of a brownie pan that has been lined with parchment paper or plastic wrap. Place in the freezer for approx. 15-20 minutes.

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Divide into squares and wrap each square in plastic wrap so they’re easy to grab & go. I suggest keeping them in the freezer since they crumble easily once they are kept at room temperature for too long.

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Happy snacking!

SB

Friday Faves

A few of my favorite things from this week…
1. Margaritas. Loving this drink lately, especially when paired with homemade fish tacos. I am looking forward to sipping on a few of these this weekend to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

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2.  Colorful pants. Bright bottoms are in every store right now and I am so on board with this fashion trend.

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3. This mug. There could not be a more perfect mug.

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4. Protein pancakes. Pancakes are my fave and these protein-packed babies make for a perfect healthy breakfast. I promise I will post the recipe soon, it’s too good not to share.

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5. Pinata Cake. I think I squealed and jumped up and down a few times when I saw this masterpiece on A Subtle Revery‘s blog. I cannot wait to make this.

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Have a great weekend!!!!

SB

Farewell Workout ADD

Since I retired from speed skating it’s been a challenge to find workouts that motivate me to push a little harder. I make it a priority to work out at least 3 times a week, but I often have to force myself to lace up my sneakers. The high I get from a long run, hard intervals or a strength circuit is amazing, but I have zilch creativity, so it tends to be the same exercises and same scenery every week = boring. And then I tried a spin class…

My bestie, Suzy, has been going to Peloton Cycling for a few months now and always has awesome things to say about the spin studio. I’ve wanted to try a spin class for a couple years but I don’t consider myself to be awesome cyclist so I never went for it. Suz asked me to go with her this morning, and since she has been present for 99% of my most embarrassing life moments, I figured I wouldn’t have to worry about her making too much fun of me. End Result? AMAZING!!! The instructor, Martine (who is also the owner), was so motivating and the studio is such a cool place. The workout was fierce: 75 minutes of non-stop spinning. My average heart rate was 178 and I probably could have filled a few buckets with sweat. Best part? There is no way you can get bored what with the high-energy music (every song means a new challenge: sprints, hills, intervals) and the video screens showing actual roads from around the world.

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Peloton Cycling Studio

I will definitely be visiting Peloton Cycling again. I’ve already got a date picked..December 9th. I encourage anyone in Calgary to also visit the studio that Sunday, since the “Spin for Suz” fundraiser will be happening. One hundred percent of the proceeds from this fundraiser will go towards helping Suzy out with her training costs this year. So you not only get an amazing workout and have a great time, you also get to help my best friend reach her dream of being an Olympic athlete. If you’re interested, follow along with @PelotonYYC and @SuzHami for #SpinForSpeed event details. I may have heard that there will be goody bags….

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Spin for Suz Fundraiser

Have a good week,

SB

My Favorite Weekly Outing

Long lineups, annoying people and spending money are a few reasons why most people dislike grocery shopping. I look forward to this weekly adventure. For some odd reason, grocery shopping completely relaxes me; the meal planning and flyer reading makes me so excited. I prefer grocery shopping alone since I get to roam the aisles as slowly as I want to, and really look at everything thats offered. 

The return of fall has made grocery shopping even more enjoyable lately. Seasonal favorites have made a comeback and have inspired me to try a whole slew of new recipes. 

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These days, everything seems to be pumpkin flavored. This week I even created a recipe for some awesome GF banana-pumpkin muffins. Holy Moly were those fabulous. Since I’m not sick of it yet, I decided to buy an actual organic sugar pumpkin today so I could make some homemade pumpkin puree. The goal is to create something that will also incorporate the fresh cranberries that were $0.99/bag instead of $2.99! And to celebrate the return of squash season, a cute little spaghetti squash was also purchased ($0.69/pound at Superstore…I was very excited about this deal). 

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These B.C sweet peppers also made it home with me. I’m thinking they will be used to make some type of mexican rice/bean dish. 

I’m not sure if its my 80 year old soul or my love of food that makes me look forward to my grocery adventures, but if you’re planning on impressing me, just take me to a grocery store. I promise I will love you for life…especially if the following are purchased.

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SB xox

The Return of Crisp Apples

Fall’s return has made me so excited and giddy. Although I will miss summer’s heat and ice cream dates, the beauty of Fall trumps it all. I love everything about autumn: the fashion  the colors, the weather, and, of course, the food. The trees in front of my house have already started to turn yellow, and the chilly mornings are giving me a good excuse to wear my many scarves. The best part is the return of heartwarming food. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the flavors of summer (watermelon anyone?) but I am more than ready for homemade soup, hot teas, pumpkin bread and London Fogs…all of which were made, and devoured this week.

I have a list of blogs I read every morning while I have breakfast. Most of them are healthy food blogs that have motivated me to try a slew of new recipes and ingredients. One of my faves Oh She Glows (please do yourself a favor and visit) provided the BEST Tomato Basil Cream Pasta recipe. My goal is to make one of this awesome lady’s recipes every week.

Although carb-loading is always appealing, my very favorite cold-weather calories come from homemade soup. Throwing every veggie in the fridge in a slow cooker and adding broth and spices is so easy and so yummy. End result:

What are your favorite fall recipes? I sense an apple pie will be baking in my kitchen soon…

Steph xox