Fitness Swellness: Countdown to the Chicago Marathon and Nike Women’s San Fran Half-marathon

long training run by Sugar Beach, Sept 2014

Wake up on my own, well rested and then I enjoy a satisfied yawn as I stretch. Ahh…Then spring out of bed and go out into the glorious weather and enjoy the fresh air as I run, run, run carefree and like it’s the easiest thing in the world for me. Get home and shower, and eat something yummy. Eventually sit down at the computer and write…

This is how a friend of mine told me she envisions my days. It made me giggle, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.

It’s usually more like: Get jarred out of sleep by my alarm and resist crawling out of bed until I feel too guilty to still be in bed. Then fret and put off my run most of the day. And why’s that?

Because I don’t love running. And it doesn’t come easy to me. I know. Most everyone assumes I love it. I don’t. What I do I get from running is a sense of accomplishment and I am motivated to continue running as my main fitness regimen as I’m driven by competing against myself, but it does not bring me the immense joy I know it brings some runners. It never has.

And now, with less than three weeks until my fall races–I run the Chicago Marathon on October 12th and the Nike Women’s Half-Marathon in San Francisco on October 19th, it’s go-time, and I’m struggling more than I have in ages.

A little update on my training: Ever since I ran my first marathon in 2012, I’ve been running one each fall and spring season (with the exception of last fall when I ran two marathons one month apart). Every year, I run the race, take a few weeks off and then start the four-month program from the beginning again to run the following season’s marathon.

It can be a grind, but for the most part, it’s so much a part of my routine now; it’s like I’m on auto-pilot. I practically know the four-month training program off my heart.

This year, I decided to enter the lottery to run the Chicago Marathon as the Windy City is one of my favourite cities and I was in need of a fall goal race. I got a spot through the lottery, yay! And one of my good friends is now joining me so we can take in the art, eat amazing food and frolick together, double yay! This will make the Chicago Marathon my seventh marathon. And then the opportunity came up through Nike Canada to run the Nike Women’s Half in San Fran and I couldn’t turn that down (triple yay!), even though the race is one week after the Chicago Marathon. I’m trying to consider the Nike San Fran half as one I’ll do for fun (although when it comes down to it, I know my competitive side will want to PB).

I’ve been lucky enough to train with my running buddy for most of these 3.5 months; she is a similar pace, and somehow she doesn’t mind doing nearly all of the training, even though she is not registered for a race. Her motivations are different than mine when it comes to running. I need to have that goal race.

I’ve been very consistent with my training. I’ve even added the occasional 4th run a week here and there (I usually can manage only three runs a week — remember? I don’t love it!), and I’ve been attending Nike Training Club classes on a weekly basis, and have noticed a difference in my strength. My pace and endurance seems similar to me, but my running partner says I’m faster.

The last few weeks, though, have been difficult. Life has thrown a few curve balls, and I’ve been distracted and stressed, my focus is not on that finish line in Chicago. Getting proper sleep, hydration and fuel has gone out the window. The one thing I have been able to maintain is fitting in my training runs consistently, and that’s even with the travel that has kept me busy. And this I consider nothing short of a miracle since all I feel like doing is curling up in bed. I guess if there’s one thing I am it’s diligent when it comes to sticking to the actual runs that my training calls for. Some days, the running helps to clear my mind and relieve some anxiety, and some days it doesn’t help at all.

With 17 days to go until the Chicago Marathon, I’m uncertain if a personal best is within reach. As I spend the next couple of weeks tapering, I know I will be agonizing over what my body can achieve, but more so what my mind is capable of on October 12th.

On the bright side, this weekend, I travel with my #werunSF Nike run crew to New York City for a training run in Central Park, so maybe this can help me feel more motivated, race-ready and focused. Follow me on Instagram (I’m @healthandswellness) for updates from the Big Apple.

17 days until the Chicago Marathon…

24 days until the Nike Women’s San Francisco Half-Marathon…


Leave a Comment September 25, 2014

Foodie Swellness: LCBO Taste Local Wine & Pie Pop Up

Wine glass taste local

On now until October 11, 2014, is Taste Local, the LCBO’s annual celebration of Ontario’s wines. And if you don’t have plans for tomorrow night (Friday, September 19, 2014) yet, you should make your way down to the Taste Local Wine & Pie Pop Up in Toronto. I had a chance to check out a similar event they held a few weeks ago and it was fun and delicious!

Here are the details:

Taste Local Wine & Pie Pop Up

Friday, September 19, 2014 from 5 PM to 9 PM

1095 Queen St.  West, Toronto

Tickets are $10 and are available at the door. With your ticket you get six 0.5 oz tastings!

(Psst…the pie makers that’ll be there include Sweet & Savoury Pie Company, Lakeside Bakery and Wanda’s Pie in the Sky.)


Leave a Comment September 18, 2014

Foodie Swellness: Nespresso VertuoLine

Nespresso VertuoLine

Despite a few attempts to improve my sleep habits (you may recall that I wrote about my night-owl ways for Glow magazine last year), I haven’t been able to get into a routine with a solid seven hours of sleep with a consistent wake-up time. So I often wake up tired, and most mornings I start with a cup of coffee to help me perk up a little.

And about a month ago, I was given a Nespresso VertuoLine from the fine folks at Nespresso and my mornings have gotten way more swell. I actually wake up and look forward to using my new kitchen toy: popping that capsule into the machine, and within 90 to 105 seconds (yes, it’s that fast) sipping a delicious large coffee with that delicious, frothy crema. I even love how opening the machine causes the used capsule to automatically discard itself into the handy receptacle on the right side of the machine (a feature I’d initially deemed silly, but now I enjoy hearing the little rattle and thump as it conveniently takes care of discarding itself).

The machine’s Centrifusion technology allows it to brew both large-cup and espressos — I usually opt for large-cup but occasionally make espressos, too. Using the bar code, the machine scans the code to determine such things such as temperature, cup size and the time the water is in contact with the coffee.

The resulting coffee is just so good. Having had coffees from other types of single-serve coffee machines at salons and friend’s homes, I was skeptical — I found they almost always tasted watery and weak (unless the machine was a very fancy, and yes, expensive). But the Nespresso Vertuoline (it retails for $299 btw) makes coffee that is rich and flavourful and, yes, there’s that crema. If you talk to anyone who owns a Nespresso, I think you’ll find that they call it a gamechanger and I now see what they mean. (For me, the only downside is that I find the coffee isn’t that hot; I’ve resolved that by drinking my coffee much more quickly, haha, problem solved.) When I’m feeling motivated, I even warm up frothy milk for my coffee, using this trick for making milk foam  without a frother or machine from thekitchn. Drinking my coffee has become a lovely ritual, a pleasure rather than just getting some caffeine into my body.

A warning to coffee lovers who are considering a Nespresso machine: You may find yourself drinking more coffee since you’ll fall in love with coffee even more so. I try to stick to one a day as I don’t want to up my caffeine intake…but have found myself having  more than one occasionally. But at least it’s affordable (a sleeve of Nespresso capsules rings in at $9.50, so less than $1 a cup).

Oh, and if you prefer iced coffee, be sure to try this recipe for an Iceberg Latte. So yum.


Leave a Comment September 15, 2014

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