Fitness Swellness: Lululemon SeaWheeze Virtual Half Marathon 2020 recap

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And for my 19th half-marathon race, I did my first virtual half, the SeaWheeze Virtual Half Marathon!

I was invited by Lululemon to take part and I figured I need to log distance for my Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee (which I completed the race distance of 1021.68k in late June, but I added on doing Back Across Tennessee, that is, running back to where I started the race on May 2nd) so I registered to run this virtual 21.1k, which had to be completed anytime from August 15 to 23rd.

I didn’t plan to race it. My legs are very, very tired from the GVRAT, and my pace is slow thanks to the 2,043 kilometres I’m almost done with for that race. Normally you should rest your legs before a race. I’ve had no rest days since about mid-April (I’ve had days of solely walking miles but no zero days as we have been calling them in the Tennessee race). So my plan was to approach SeaWheeze (SW20) as a long, slow run. Since I’ve been focusing on short runs for GVRAT (sometimes multiple times a day, although my BAT portion of the race I’ve replaced much of the distance with walking to give my body a break) I knew I had to incorporate some longer runs leading up to SW20. So I completed approximately one longer run a week in the month leading up to SeaWheeze. The longest distance I ran was 18k and last week, I was simply exhausted (my schedule has been very busy) and I couldn’t muster the energy to run another long run the only time I could find in my schedule, usually at 10 pm so I skipped it. I also skipped that one longer run as I am reluctant to run anything longer than 10k at night out of safety concerns.

As SeaWheeze start date approached, and with no long run completed last week (I did muster the energy to complete a 14k run, though), I decided I wouldn’t run the SeaWheeze distance until the latter end of the 8 days allotted for the virtual race, closer to August 23rd than August 15th.

And then I realized I’d be finishing the GVRAT well  before August 23rd, and there would be no way I’d be motivated to run 21.1k after finishing this monster of a virtual race (Lazarus Lake doesn’t create easy races, does he!). And I promise you that I am planning on some full R&R after I finish my Back Across Tennessee distance!

So coincidentally with this weekend off of work (from Friday to Sunday), I decided to run the 21.1k for SeaWheeze on the first day of the race period, last night, Saturday, August 15th. The weather was hot and humid, 30 Celsius when I started the race at 7:30, which was another factor making me even slower.

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I ran a usual route I do on the west side of the city for 16 kilometres, then picked up Billie Jean for the last 5k. She could complete the whole half marathon distance but with the heat, I didn’t think it was safe for her. Instead, I listened to the Reply All podcast as I took my time logging the distance. The weather cooled as it got later in the evening; my route included stop lights, and at the tail end of the race, I ran along the closed-to-traffic Lake Shore Blvd (closed as part of #activeTO, the program the city has run all summer that closes off traffic on certain streets so as to allow people to enjoy the outdoors biking, running or walking while social distancing) so it sort of felt like a real race since I was running on a barricaded street.

While this portion was closed to traffic like a race, there were no spectators or water stations of course. So I ran with bottle of Gatorade and refilled it with Nuun when I picked up Billie Jean, since any of the water fountains in the city aren’t running due to the pandemic. Although there were no spectators (my friend Aylin said she’d come cheer, I didn’t take her up on the offer), a girl did stop me on Lake Shore Blvd. to talk to me when I was at about the 19k mark; she wanted to talk how cute Billie Jean is (and I’ll gladly talk about my amazing pup anytime!).

For me, a virtual race of this type is much more difficult to get motivated for but it was very freeing to not be stressing myself out about running the distance as quickly as I could. (As an aside, for me, the GVRAT is in a different type of virtual race category as I’ve found it very motivating to try to log distance each day and watch my position improve daily; it has become an obsession). My NRC app (on which I reached Volt Level in June) on my Apple Watch and Strava differed by about half a kilometre (and I don’t think Strava pauses when I’m not moving so my times differ on the two apps—I’m fairly new to using Strava and haven’t fully learned the ins and outs of using it) but my Strava logs my SW time as 2:17:37.

In the end, the race helped me log more than 43 kilometres in my GVRAT race for the day, and I am proud of the fact that I can complete the 21.1k distance without training for a half per se, and on very weary legs.

I’d love to run the actual SeaWheeze in Vancouver IRL some day, I’ve heard it’s a fun one and Vancouver is so pretty. If you’re keen to run this year’s virtual half or 10k this week, you can still register btw! Thank you to Lululemon for the invitation to take part and for the running gear (this cap is so comfortable for running and I like the subtle camo print, and the cut of both the sports bra and Muscle Love Crop Tank Top is very flattering).

Now, excuse me as I get back to completing this Back Across Tennessee race. I reached 1,000 miles before the end of July, and the finish line for BAT is in sight!

1 Comment August 16, 2020

Pet Swellness: 5 essentials for safe summertime fun with your dog

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If there’s anyone who’s happy about living under lockdown this summer, I think it’s the dogs of the world. After all, their humans are home way more often, and most of us have had more time to spend with our pups. I’ve taken my dog Billie Jean on way more runs and walks this summer than ever and made sure to have a good supply of essentials for her. My summertime toolkit for safe and fun playtime includes these must-haves, all available at Canadian family-owned discount chain Giant Tiger (so it was all well within my limited pandemic budget!):

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1. Portable water bottle

I think the person who made the initial design of this type of water bottle for dogs is a genius. Compact and so practical. Although we do pass a few public water fountains on our walks and runs, Billie Jean often doesn’t want to drink from them. Also, many of the fountains have not had water running through the pandemic, so I bring this water bottle for her regularly to make sure she’s always well hydrated. (By the way, this whole outfit–the sports bra, bike shorts and runners? All from Giant Tiger. Have you checked it out yet? Here are my tips on how to shop their ACX Active collection.).

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2. LED-collar 

We are often running and walking after dark, and hopefully we will get to go camping sometime this summer, too. So this LED-collar ensures she is well seen by cars, cyclists, and pedestrians. And it’s helpful for me to spot her too when I let her off-leash after dark. It’s been attracting a lot of attention too from everyone during our outings. Guess it makes her look a little like she’s gone to a rave, haha. This collar is adjustable, and it also comes with a separate LED-light tag if you want something more discreet. Best of all, no batteries required; this product recharges via USB.

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3. Bright, secure leash

A neon bright leash helps to make sure your dog is visible at day and night. Bonus: I’ve always been a fan of neon yellow. This style of leash has a handle with the poop bag dispenser integrated into it and it’s comfortable to hold. It’s not as comfortable to loop onto your wrist if you have to hold something in your hand, thoughI’d say that is its only downfall.

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4. Nutritious treats

I like to always have treats on me for her as a training tool and also in case she needs a snack; after all, if I’m bringing snacks for me during a hike, I figure she could use a snack too for a little fuel when we are out for a couple of hours. But just like humans, you have to make sure that your dog doesn’t snack too often and that you take those into account when considering how much she is consuming over the entire day.

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The range of dog treats at Giant Tiger is impressive; there are a lot of the well known brands you know and love, but there are also a slew of products from smaller companies. I look at the ingredient list to make sure the treats are not loaded with fillers; an all-natural favourite I discovered at Giant Tiger is from a local company, Caledon Farms (Billie Jean is obsessed with the Sweet Potato Chews, but devours their Beef Tendersticks as well). Plus, I also stocked up at Giant Tiger on Greenies Dental Treats for her dental care (my vet gave me a list of vet-approved products to manage Billie Jean’s plaque and this is one of them so I always keep a supply of them on hand), and to entertain her while at home, bully sticks are always a safe go-to option since she can be a decently strong chewer (plush toys last about one minute in our house!). 

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5. Outside toys

Billie Jean isn’t the greatest at fetch or catching things, but we’re working on it! It’s important to me that she leads a healthy, active lifestyle, so this lightweight frisbee is perfect for our park outings (even though she often retrieves it, drops it elsewhere and I’m the one fetching! But I guess that’s keeping us both active, right?). Having toys for your dog and making sure they’re getting the exercise they need can often help alleviate behavioural issues.

Here’s to making this the best summer yet for you and your pup! Summer isn’t cancelled!

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1 Comment August 11, 2020

Fitness Swellness: Shopping for budget-friendly summer fitness gear

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With the pandemic, I feel as though there are two camps: those who’ve let their fitness fall to the wayside, and those who’ve dived in and are more fit than ever. And to keep your fitness groove on that track, I truly believe getting some proper gear for your workouts will be a big motivating factor. Of course, you can keep using the old apparel you dug out but over time, those sport bras lose elasticity and those shorts have seen better days. Besides that, working out in fitness gear that you feel good in makes it that much more likely you’ll be eager to do another sweat session.

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But everything in the world seems uncertain right now, and many of us are trying to be smarter with how we’re spending (maybe you’ve been furloughed or you’re on CERB, for example). The good news is if you have a small budget, you can still score some great gear for your new active lifestyle. My four tips on how to shop for easy-on-the-wallet gear:

1. Check out retailers outside of the usual brands. Canadian-owned family discount store Giant Tiger, for example. They carry their signature brand of fitness gear, ACX Active, which comes in plus-sizes too and includes shoes, and I can tell you firsthand that the gear is soft and comfortable. I’ve been living in the bike shorts ($6!), and the shoes, while I wouldn’t run a marathon in them, I’ve walked many kilometres in them for the virtual race I’m completing this summer.

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2. Try everything on in the store (even pieces that don’t immediately grab you as your personal style). Firstly, you should try fitness gear on in the store before you buy so you can ensure it is comfortable and suits the activity you’re planning on wearing it for (so if it’s for running, try a little jog in the store, or do a sun salutation if it’s gear you want to wear for yoga). But secondly, you may be surprised by what pieces you like the most once you try the pieces on. Fitness gear often doesn’t show well on a hanger, but once you get it on, you’ll notice the perfect length of a pair of shorts, or the soft drape of the fabric of a t-shirt you weren’t sure about. I knew I loved this orange sport bra ($12!) as soon as I saw it and was even happier once I tried it on and saw how flattering it is.

3. Don’t be afraid to customize the pieces. On the hanger, the piece might not be totally you but don’t limit yourself to wearing the piece as is, and remember this as you’re in the change room trying things on. Think of how you can style the pieces to suit your personal style. Knot that tee or even crop it with a pair of scissors (I love the drape of the blue tank top, and am planning on cropping it).

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4. Add in other summer fitness essentials at Giant Tiger while you’re building your fitness wardrobe. Caps, sunglasses, and sunscreen for example. One of my all-time favourite SPF products is Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Lotion. It goes on and disappears into the skin (it does leave an extremely subtle, flattering luminescence) so I happily slather it on daily (and a derm once told me the best sunscreen for you, if you’re undecided on say SPF 30 versus SPF 45, is the one that you’ll use regularly). For especially hot and humid days (when you’re sweating more and/or plan to be in and out of the water often), another great option is Coppertone Sport SPF 30 Lotion, since it is water resistant.

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Feeling good and looking good as you exercise can be what pushes you to keep up these healthy new habits, and getting some great new options that won’t drain your bank account is worth it. Consider it a small investment into your self-care. 

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Leave a Comment August 4, 2020

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