Tag: Gatorade

2015 Swellness: My year in review


This was not an easy year.

And I’ve been putting off writing this post as I wasn’t sure what to write. But I see from friends on social media today, also reflecting on the year, that it’s been a tough one for many of us, and I suppose there’s some comfort in that, knowing that we’re not alone in our struggles and knowing that we are all looking forward to a fresh start in the year ahead.

As I mulled over this past year for a few weeks, as much as things were rough, and as stubborn as I can be, I have to admit that there were bright, happy moments and lessons I’ve learned. Indulge me if you will as I reflect on them (and take a moment to remember your top highlights of the past year as well, if you haven’t already — it helps, I swear!).

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Travel is a huge part of my life and this year, although every trip always gives me something new to enjoy, having the opportunity to travel to Chile was beyond incredible. Without me even realizing it was a dream of mine, it was a dream come true. Standing there in the stillness as the sun set and taking in the fresh air and feeling so fortunate to be alive and there seeing such beauty is something I think of often and it’s a moment I hope I can keep fresh in my memory always. Add in skiing in the Andes Mountains, glamping beneath the stars and laughs with new friends (love you guys!), well, this Chilean adventure is one for the record books.


Truth be told, there’ve been many terrific trips. I also had the chance to travel for work with one of my closest friends to Southern California, where I fell in love with the beaches and lifestyle, and tried surfing for the first time. I plan to go back for more surfing as soon as I can. I visited Squamish twice and became equally obsessed with the hiking and views there (I also did a via ferrata climb for the first time). Early in the year, I went to the Cayman Islands for the first time and not only got to swim in the gorgeous blue water of all three islands, I also attended Cayman Cookout where  I got to eat food from and meet Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert, Daniel Boulud, Marcus Samuelsson, Jose Andres and so many more top chefs that those days are a bit hazy because my head was spinning — it was almost too much for this food lover to handle. Palm Springs, Calgary, Cayman Islands (for a second time), Los Cabos, Las Vegas, St. Martin, Banff, Montreal, Portland, my passport got well stamped this year.

And, for once, I took a vacation. I know many of you think I’m always on vacation, but most of my travel is for work.  And this year, I took my first trip in several years where I did not write a thing about it. And it was glorious. Just poking about on my own schedule, and exploring the things I wanted to.

When it comes to work, this year included lots of great opportunities to partner and work with brands including Purina, Gatorade, Shoppers Drug Mart, McDonald’s, Scotiabank, GM, Adidas, and so many more. And I also started working on iRun magazine as editor at large, with a super fun team. This year, though, one of my favourite jobs is unpaid: I began volunteering with Save Our Scruff, and learning that a dog that I’ve helped in some way find their forever home is the best news in the world. My heart feels like it could explode when I find out via email about a lovable dog being adopted, and I look forward to doing more with the organization.


Ah, running. This year was not a good year for running. No personal bests, and some of my slowest races. Which made it mentally difficult as I raced more than usual this year (I think, I haven’t actually done a tally). But I crossed the finish line and now I will figure out how to tackle what to race in the year ahead. Silver linings include the fantastic 15k race Nike put on (if only the weather had cooperated, that would’ve been even more stellar), and having my running buddy run the last leg of the Scotiabank Marathon with me (which, although, it was a slow race, convinced me that I can indeed qualify for Boston).


What I take away from this year…well, I felt more than ever that I was running around on empty. Scattered and disorganized. And so I’ve been forcing myself to take a step back from things, which is not my natural inclination, but for my own sanity I know I have to. And as much as I post on social media (and I know I do), I also put away my phone more often. “But you’re not getting a photo?” said a friend surprised as we watched a fireworks show. “I know, but when I’m taking a photo, I can’t get to take it all in,” I explained. At the NKOTB concerts (yes, I saw them two nights in a row this year! Best decision ever!), instead of snapping away with my camera, I took the time to fully enjoy Jordan’s abs. And it goes without saying that oh yes, it was worth it! Tee hee

This year flew by even faster than the last somehow…but that’s enough looking back. Here’s to looking forward, and for 2016, my heart is hopeful that exciting things are happening, and that new adventures are in store both with old friends and new ones that are still to be made.

Wishing you a very happy 2016! — Karen xo




1 Comment December 31, 2015

Fitness Swellness: #KeepSweating to the finish line – My Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Race Report


So after several perspiration-filled months, my Gatorade Summer of Sweat #KeepSweating challenge all came down to Sunday, October 18th at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

Is it possible to be both happy and disappointed at the same time with my marathon? Because that’s how I feel after having had a week to take it all in.  

First things first: I did not meet my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I would’ve had to run a 3:45 marathon in order to meet the qualifying standard.

For weeks leading up to the race, I was quite sure I would not qualify. I know that’s not the right attitude going into a race, but this, my ninth marathon, is the least I’ve ever trained for one. I ended up having a heavy summer of travel for work, you may recall. To train on these trips would’ve called for getting up at 5 a.m. and running alone in the dark in a city I’m unfamiliar with, which I didn’t think was wise.


I also came down with a bad cough about a week prior to the race. Also, as you know, I joined the Pace & Mind team to train for this race, but my work schedule didn’t allow for me to make it out to run with the team, so I trained mostly alone (which can be tough) but I did run with a couple of team members outside of the official training runs. Add to all of this the fact that for many weeks, I was going through a bout of insomnia, sometimes only falling asleep at 8 a.m. Every day I was groggy and worn out. In the end, I completed only a handful of speed workouts and missed at least two long runs (which I try to never miss out on).

So on that Sunday, with Gatorade in my fuel belt, I had three goals in mind. My ultimate goal was, of course, to qualify for Boston. My secondary goal was to run a sub 4-hour (the goal  Coach Rejean set for me; he was aware of the sleep issues and hectic schedule and my cough knocking me out of commission for more than a week). My last goal was to at least not have it be my slowest marathon (which, it turns out, was this very same Toronto Waterfront Marathon, and I ran a 4:20 on that hot day three years ago; it was the second marathon I’d ever run).

I’m a realist by nature, and I truly expected to finish in about 4:15, which would make it my second slowest race.

I started the race feeling much stronger than I expected to. And there were a lot of good things about race day. The weather was ideal for me. Many people found it too cold, but I loved that it was chilly, and wore shorts and my team singlet along with arm warmers that I eventually took off. Plus, the race is mostly flat. I made it to 22k feeling great, my pace was pretty much on track for me to meet my first goal.

Then at 22k, I fell apart mentally quite quickly. I stopped several times to hydrate, and I remember thinking  that all I wanted to do was sit on the sidewalk and enjoy the sensation of this cold Gatorade going down my throat, helping me refuel and replenish what I had sweat out. At the same time, I was annoyed with myself because I knew I wasn’t even tired. The weather was ideal, my legs didn’t feel spent, and I had a flat course. “Pull yourself together,” I told myself. My running friend, Shawna, was meeting me at the 32k marker to run the last 12.2k with me, so I just kept saying in my head, “Just make it to Shawna, just do that, just make it to 32k.” Even though I knew the toughest 10k would follow.


The 32k mark finally came. Shawna refilled my bottle with Gatorade and we were off. I was able to pick up the pace thanks to having her alongside me, and I even felt strong. She did all of the chatting, encouraging me along, and got the people watching the race to cheer for me, announcing to them it was my ninth marathon, or telling them my name, and it was fantastic to get those cheers. Shawna was just so proud of me and kept telling me how strong I was running and pointing out how many other runners I was passing. At 36k, my friend Serena was on the corner in the cold cheering and that lifted my spirits big time. At about 39k was the most awesome cheer station filled with runners from Parkdale Road Runners (pretty much the best cheer squad ever, they do it up with confetti and loud cheering and it’s pretty much the best thing ever during a race, well, other than crossing the finish line!). Shout out to PDRR!

At this point, I was tired but not as exhausted as I have been after other races. I knew that my sub-4 goal was slipping away from me, but I was doing what I could. At 40k, my friend and Pace & Mind teammate Brandon, who I thought I’d see only after the race, caught up alongside me. He had paced another teammate in the half-marathon, gone home to change, then tracked my times and found me on the route, and ran the last two kilometres with me. I felt pretty special with my own little entourage pacing me, Shawna on one side and Brandon on the other.

Finally (finally!) we were approaching the finish with 500 metres to go. Here every 100 metres is counted down and I swear each 100 metres until the next sign has never felt so long (I remember thinking “This course has been measured wrong!”). Both Shawna and Brandon broke off of the chute at this point, running alongside where the crowds were, and I dug deep to push it to the finish.

Looking at the clock, I knew I hadn’t reached my sub-4 goal, and I was super disappointed with myself for falling apart mentally from 22k to 32k, but I was happy knowing I’d run 4:01 (when I’d anticipated a much, much slower race). Most of all I was thrilled to have completed my ninth marathon (I can tell you I’d never would’ve guessed I’d run even one ever) and even more filled with joy about having such awesome friends.

In  the end, this Gatorade Summer of Sweat to #KeepSweating journey has taught me a few lessons. To try to not be so hard on myself (I can’t say I will succeed at that, that’s just me by nature…but I can try). That there are other things that can be so rewarding when it comes to running other than reaching that time goal. That being said, based on how strong I felt for most of this race, I believe now that I’m physically capable of reaching that BQ time, I just need to get my mental game in check and do the interval work. I truly feel had I not been traveling and suffering from insomnia, I could’ve BQ’d.

And, of course, this journey reminded me of the importance of hydration before, during and after. Thank you, Gatorade, for this incredible Summer of Sweat and the opportunity to push myself to win from within.




1 Comment October 26, 2015

Fitness Swellness: #KeepSweating Summer of Sweat post-run hydration

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I’ve got five days to go until my Summer of Sweat goal race, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Sunday, October 18th. How am I feeling? Anxious as ever; and that’s nothing new. I always get stressed out before a race, but this time it’s different. I think I’l have to adjust my goal significantly. But sometimes you can surprise yourself on race day. Everything might fall together wonderfully, as it did for me last year at the Chicago Marathon.

I’ll fill in you in in my final blog post, my post-race wrap up, but today I wanted to talk about my new post-run hydration regimen.

The best part of this Summer of Sweat goal thus far is how it’s forced me to focus on hydration during and after my runs (I still struggle with hydrating regularly when not working out, doh!). I’ve already shared how I’ve been hydrating during my actual runs, but a brand new element to my training regimen is how I’m hydrating after my run. Usually, as I’m checking my overall time and pace on my app after a run, I finish drinking the sports drink I have with me in my fuel belt (it’s been Gatorade Thirst Quencher all summer) and then as soon as I get home, I grab a protein shake, like a Gatorade Protein Shake from my fridge.


Designed to help recovery, the Protein Shakes, when icy cold out of the refrigerator, are a welcome (after a sweaty run!), and easy way to get some protein and carbs consumed right away. The little tears in our muscles caused by exercise use protein to help rebuild so the sooner you can get some protein into your system, the sooner your muscles starts to repair themselves (Check out www.gatorade.ca for more information on protein’s role in recovery). Protein drinks like Gatorade Protein Shake have 45 grams of carbs (For a closer look at how carbs can help you recover following a workout, visit www.gatorade.ca) I prefer the chocolate shake over the vanilla (To me, it basically tastes like a slightly thicker chocolate milk), and after I down it, I hop into the shower (my Summer of Sweat training leaves me drenched in sweat!) and then put on something cozy to wear as I eat a proper meal (usually something fairly healthy — I sometimes feel too guilty to chow down on something crazy fatty and sugary when I feel so strong and accomplished post-run; don’t get me wrong, I’ve done it, but not all the time). Then, more often than not, I have a nap.


Stay tuned to my Twitter and Instagram for more sweaty updates this week leading up to and, of course, on race day, October 18th! I’ll have my race report up on the blog the week of October 19th.

Please send good energy my way, I could use as much as I can get for the race, and come out to cheer the thousands of runners that day if you’re in Toronto! Your support, funny signs and high fives really do make a big difference for us runners!


sweaty selfie

I told you I sweat A LOT.

Leave a Comment October 13, 2015

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