Race Reviews: Vancouver Hot Chocolate Run & West Van Run 10km!

I started my weekend even more pumped than usual after being selected as a Momentum Jewelry ambassador on Wednesday, and then registering for CIM on Friday while waiting on the results of my (unsuccessful) NYC Marathon lottery entry! (More about these things another time.) Also, this time around I didn’t need to travel six thousand kilometers through four different airports to get to my races! How nice, lol! Even so, I dealt with a flight delay in both directions…I’m so over delayed flights! The weather showed this statement for Vancouver area over the weekend and I got a bit nervous…lots of my friends suffered the disappointment of First Half being cancelled in early February!

It was a relief on Saturday when we woke up to a really nice day! Try Events’ Vancouver Hot Chocolate Run was the first of two events this weekend. Since my friend Emma is the coordinator of the Try Events volunteers, we got there early and I helped with packet pickup while she did her thing with her fifty or more volunteers! If you live in the GVRD and are looking to volunteer, this is a fun way to help out.

The start and finish area was at Lumberman’s Arch Concession in Stanley Park, which wasn’t open (too bad) but it was a good spot either way. Getting there was easy – it’s right beside the aquarium and it looked like parking was convenient and easy for those who drove. Not going to lie, the packet pickup could have been WAY more organized, but even so, I highly appreciate the option to pick up on the day of the race. I found my own bib and shoe tag and then helped out at the table as best I could. The gear check was more legit than at the Historic Half, where it was an unattended coat closet in Stanley Park Pavilion…sketchy. Never bring valuables with you to a race, and keep your ID and phone on you!

As it got closer to the 10am start, November Project Vancouver lead a fun warmup and then the 10.4km runners (250 ish participants) were sent off, and shortly after the 5km runners, which had about the number. Seriously beautiful day!! The course was well marked and the volunteers along the route did a good job making sure nobody took a wrong turn. Even though it was a simple loop of Stanley Park, there are a couple turns where a runner could easily go the wrong way. The two water stops were minimal but seemed to work fine for the size of the race, and I got to see two friends who were volunteers at the first water station! There are a few places on the route with public bathrooms, like by Second Beach Pool, which I unfortunately had to stop at but didn’t really mind since I wasn’t “racing.”

As far as I know, there were only photos taken at the start and finish of the race, and from what I saw on Facebook I didn’t end up with a finish line photo myself. Dang. These photos are just in a big album so you need to go on to the Try Events Facebook page and look through them to find yourself if you want a race pic. My friend Joe, the finish-line announcer, did a fine job shouting out to I’m pretty sure every single finisher, and once crossing the finish mat all runners received the cutest finisher’s medal. How cool is this medal? All finishers also received an event mug and hot chocolate!

I didn’t take a race shirt when getting my bib before the race because I never end up wearing them, but the shirts were actually really nice, long-sleeve tech shirts in a royal blue colour. People loved them! Stanley Park is such a wicked place to run, and the start/finish area worked well. Unlike my last Try Events race, however, there wasn’t a venue to actually go inside, so it was lucky that the weather cooperated precipitation-wise.

I totally enjoyed this event. I definitely got a fun-run feel vs. a “race” feel, which was what I was there for that day myself anyway, to warm up for the official 10km race the following morning in West Van, but I know there are people who race to win regardless of the event and in their case it probably felt more competetive. It’s what you make it, right? There was a kid’s race as well which made the whole morning very family-friendly, if that’s something you’re looking for. I’d recommend the Hot Chocolate Run for sure if you’re in the area, but I wouldn’t make my way to Vancouver just to participate in this one.

Later than night Emma (above) and I treated ourselves to a sleepover at the Four Seasons hahaha. A hot tub and lazy evening followed by the best sleep in a huge comfy bed was the best before event #2.

It snowed over night! But West Van Run was on it and I woke up early on Sunday morning to an email from the event coordinators letting runners know it was STILL ON! Highly appreciated, it really sucks to be left hanging and unsure if the event will proceed!

After my breakfast and slimroast (no time for gut problems today, no thank you!) and figuring out what to wear in a cold, slushy race that I was taking seriously, I took a cab to the West Van Community Centre because I didn’t feeling like dealing with transit on the way to the race, although it was definitely an option. It was about $20 from downtown Van.

I need to be honest here, I’m pretty dissapointed in how poorly the event theme, which was Super Heroes, was promoted. I didn’t see anything about it anywhere aside from on the West Van Run website under “info” and they were pretty good about promoting the event all over social media, just never mentioning anything about super heroes! I made a sweet batgirl costume but after waking up that morning with a bit of a sore throat, snow, and a little sad that Emma wasn’t coming with me because she’s injured, I just said forget it. I’m glad I did, because there were only two people I saw dressed up out of just about 500 participants! Anyways. Getting to the community center was easy and parking looked good for those who drove. The restrooms got pretty busy, but nothing out of control. Same day bib pickup was smooth and easy and participants got a West Van Run water bottle (pretty nice, actually) and then I got to hang out inside for an hour and stay warm and comfy. Bag check was just as easy, and the gear was transferred for us to the finish area at Dundarave Park. I did my own little warm up inside, and then five minutes or so before the 8:30 start time, I went outside and joined in with the warm-up crew. Then we walked to the start line which was just a few meters in front of the community centre on the street. It was a mass start with chip timing and there was basically zero time spent outside getting cold. Awesome!

My shwings were the extent of my costume..

The course was fast, mostly flat with a few downhill sections, and the second half was beautiful and scenic going through Ambleside Park and along the West Van Seawall. No complaints about the first half, I just wouldn’t call Park Royal beautiful or scenic haha. I actually can’t even remember if there were multiple water stops because I felt REALLY good during my entire run and was on a mission, not looking for water, but there was one place I remember volunteers handing out bottled water. I also don’t remember noticing Porta Potties, but there had to have been somewhere to go the bathroom? I hope so! The last two kilometres along the seawall were amaaaazing and it was really motivating being able to see the finish line over a kilometer in the distance!  I made friends with a young girl running a similar pace and we pushed each other and both finished under 50 minutes! Sallee won her division and I destroyed my 5:15/km pace goal that I set for myself…I low-balled hard, probably in fear of failing. Must stop doing this. YES! 4:59/km average pace! So proud of myself!

No participant medals or shirts included in this race, just medals for the winners, and I didn’t buy a shirt when I registered, but the post-race food was great; it was indoors, simple to exchange the tear-off part of the bib in exchange for a snack bag, and there was some good stuff in those paper bags, including this mint birch sap beverage by 52 North that deserves a mention. Check it out here. It took seriously one second to get my gear bag which I was thankful for because it was cold and my feet were soaked from the slushy course, and then I walked a block up to Marine Drive and hopped on the bus back to downtown Vancouver. It couldn’t have been easier! You don’t need a vehicle to get to this event, that is for sure!

I loved this race! Although I didn’t stick around for long after because I wanted to get back to the hotel to my friends, it was a great race experience! There was an awesome balance of competetive and fun vibes and it was extremely well organized. The slushy roads weren’t the best, obviously, but it could have been so much worse. I highly recommend this event and I would plan a Vancouver weekend to participate again in the future. There is a 5km race on the Saturday and 10km on Sunday, and next time I think I’ll register for both. Very good experience!

Overall, both of these events were great and I recommend both. The best part for me, of course, was having another breakthrough racing experience like I did in November at the Historic Half, but that’s not part of these race reviews so you can read about that sometime very soon in a separate post if you’re interested!

Peeeeace!

Running Past Self-Limiting Beliefs! (+ scary goals for spring race season)

WOOO it’s officially spring in less than a month, and spring training is well underway. Where I live, we have just four local races per year. Each is awesome in its own way, but I am extra excited this year. Our first one is April 9th and if you’re interested you can read more about it here #rupertrunners yayaaa

If you keep up with this blog at all, you may be familiar with the “category” I originally put myself in as a runner, which I now identify as the “slow, sucky runner” category, which isn’t even a real thing, by the way. If you run, you’re a runner. The terms slow and fast are totally relative and mean completely different things to different people. I do my best not to use the term slow anymore, because it is often used negatively, plus slow for one person is light speed to another. Running is running! However, I know I’m not alone when I say that right off the bat I decided I was slow, non-competitive and simply running to cross finish lines, stay fit, feel proud and collect bling. That’s it. And there’s nothing wrong with that! But looking back now, this was my way of protecting myself from failing, although I couldn’t tell you what that means exactly, and my way of avoiding doing difficult, scary stuff like trying new things and pushing through and past comfort zones. I didn’t even try to run faster until last summer!

Looking back now, this was my way of protecting myself from failing, although I couldn’t tell you what that means exactly, and my way of avoiding doing difficult, scary stuff like pushing through and past comfort zones.

I spent a large portion of last Fall working with Suzanne on extinguishing (or taming to the best of my ability) some self-limiting beliefs. Being a slow, sucky runner was one of mine that we focused on a lot, which really boils down to the Trump of all self-limiting beliefs for the majority of people, which is “not being good enough.”  When a person is born, he or she doesn’t have any beliefs about themself, the world or about life yet; we develop these beliefs over time based on our experiences and our interactions with parental figures and other authority figures such as teachers, coaches and care-givers. We then can find ourselves as adults with some very unhelpful ideas about ourselves. As we wrapped up the limiting beliefs unit (which was unbelievable, by the way,) the so-called finale was when I went to Vancouver to run Try Events‘ Historic Half with some friends. I got the chance to execute my race the way I wanted to based on everything Suzanne and I worked on together and it was a huge breakthrough race for me!

Here’s the story. In 2013 I ran my first half. The training was with Team in Training and I was very inconsistent. Despite half-assing the program I crossed the finish-line at the Nike Women’s 1/2 Marathon in San Francisco in 02:32:xx and got my first taste of the complete race-day experience. Absolutely incredible! At the time, I knew nothing about pace or how long it took different people to run 21.1 km. I ran it to complete it, and in my opinion that’s exactly what should be done the first time around, whatever your first goal race is. I got a lot better with consistency and trained through the following spring to run the BMO Vancouver 1/2 in May 2014 and finished up with a 02:10:54. I was surprised and very happy with that 22 minute improvement! A new PR! (Personal record.) But I was still running totally within my comfort zone. By that time I’d gotten myself a watch for running (loved my Garmin Forerunner 10) and it was during that spring that I developed a full-blown complex around paces per kilometer that had a 5 in front of them. I for some reason decided that 05:xx/km was really fast, too fast for me to maintain, and that I was content staying where I was, pace-wise. These numbers are irrelevant to my point. Running faster was scary, hard and uncomfortable. So scary. But I decided it was okay because I believed I was just running to log distance, stay in shape, collect bibs and finisher’s medals and enjoy the camaraderie of running. At races, before even starting, I accepted that I was just there to participate, take it easy, let the “fast people” do their thing and be a part of the running community. The next three half marathons I ran I did not improve my finish time nor my race day experience, largely because of the things I believed about myself as a runner.

At the Historic Half, I didn’t believe that shit anymore, or was doing my very best not to believe it. I was focusing on new, inspiring beliefs that had real evidence. I proved to myself that I am not in fact a “slow, sucky runner” but that I am strong, and continue to get stronger every day. I can run faster and for a longer period of time than I believed was possible just a few months earlier. The sub-2 hour half was mine! This is just the beginning of a whole new mindset! If you are someone who has decided to believe something like I did about yourself, I encourage you to examine that belief and start to do what you can to change your thinking, which will in turn change your actions and your reality. Taking myself out of the slow, sucky runner category was the first step to seeing some great results and loving my sport of choice even more than ever!

Taking myself out of the slow, sucky runner category was the first step to seeing some great results and loving my sport of choice even more than ever!

side note: I am not saying that races are solely about finish times or about trying to win. What I am saying is that they’re the perfect opportunity to test the limits and prove to ourselves that we can do hard things that previously seemed out of reach or impossible.

I’m telling you all of this because self-limiting beliefs are a HUGE LOAD OF SHIT. Do NOT believe that you are not or cannot become as strong as you’d like to be! After I ran my first full marathon in 2016 there was a shift and I knew I was capable of more than I was giving myself credit for. Once I started experimenting with different kinds of speed work and doing workouts from my coach that intimidate me and make me uncomfortable (or even almost puke at times, lol) I realized that blasting through my perceived barriers was part of the exhilaration of being a runner! With all of this, and with Suzanne‘s help, I finally began to believe new positive and true things about myself and my capabilities instead of untrue things that held me back. We really do set our own limits. What we believe becomes our reality. Do not put yourself into a box. Don’t label yourself as a “back-of-the-pack’er” or “just average” or even as a runner who “places sometimes.” Try as hard as possible to shake off those preconceived ideas and GO FOR IT every single day. That’s my goal this season: to fully believe that I can keep getting better and better and continue to surprise myself by reaching new milestones – not every single race, but as often as possible.

That’s my goal this season: to fully believe that I can keep getting better and better and continue to surprise myself by reaching new milestones – not every single race, but as often as possible.

 

Really “Scary” Goals

(will be revised as races approach, and Coach Andrew might make them even scarier)

West Van Run 10km – March 5th

  • don’t go out too fast
  • say yes instead of no to discomfort
  • average pace goal 5:15 (totally bull. I wanted to, knew I could, and DID run faster than this. 4:59/km average pace!!!)

Prince Rupert 1/2 Marathon – April 9th

  • be mentally tough – don’t let the monotony of a road I run almost every single weekend psych me out or mess with my beliefs
  • approach “the big hill” as confident as ever
  • average pace goal 5:30, try for a final km split of 5:00

(this is not a sandbagger goal, I am running a 14 mile (22.5km) training run the day before and this is not a goal race of mine. If it were, I’d aim for more like 5:20/km average)

Tenacious Ten 10 miler – April 22nd

  • don’t go out too fast
  • 5:10-ish pace goal
  • be excited instead of nervous for this new and unique race distance
  • let the West Van 10km be a confidence booster!

Scotiabank Calgary Marathon – May 28th

  • STAY PRESENT and run the kilometer I’m in
  • trust my training
  • negative split the marathon for the first time
  • sub 5:40/km average pace goal

 

Remember those t-shirts that were an absolute must-have in the 90’s, NO FEAR? I want one. And that will be the end of this post. NO FEAR of discomfort, “failure,” new challenges or trying really f%#&ing hard.

nofear

 

Life: Some of the Worst things People say & ask. Whyyyy

You know those times in life when you’re left standing with a puzzled look on your face, crafting a delayed response to something dumb someone said a few moments earlier? Yesterday at the gym I found myself in this situation and it inspired me to write (rant) about some of the dumbest shit people say to others – without thinking first! And often to people they don’t even know!

WHY. Seriously. Why is it necessary to offer up an opinion via unecessary comment or question? I’ve had conversations about this with others before, so I know I’m not alone in my confusion. This really is a rant, but I hope it’s relatable and that we can all learn from it, because I know I’ve accidentally been “that guy” before. It does happen. But COME ON.

 

“You look tired.”

sheldon

Ahaha, why, thank you! WTF? This is like going up to someone and saying, “hey how’s it going, you look like shit”. What purpose does it serve to point out to a person that they aren’t looking fresh? Extreme confusion. Quit saying this to people! Suggested response – “aww, you too.”

 

“What are you doing working on such a nice day!?”

seth

What the serious F kind of question is this??? OH, well I originally had the day off but I saw how sunny it was so I came in. Hahaha are you kidding me? People have schedules and they don’t usually come with a special “great weather clause” to accomodate a sunny day. I also don’t know many people who are allowed to just up and leave their place of work when the clouds part. Jesus. In the case that someone is self-employed, they’re probably working because they’ve made commitments, or their business has hours of operation.

 

“Where’s Jamie? Did she move?”

melissa

I’m dead serious, people ask my colleagues this when I’m not at my place of work. She’s not here, so she must have moved. WHAT? LOL. Have they not heard of a day off? Do most people who work with the public work seven days a week, all day long, every single day of the year? I have nothing else to say about this. Oh, except that it leads me to the next one, which usually occurs at the grocery store or while running errands on a day off…

 

“What are you doin’ off work today?!”

chelsea

People get days off sometimes. Or maybe I should say, “I’m just getting ready to take off, I’m moving.”

 

“Why don’t you have have a boyfriend/girlfriend?”

rock

Hmm. Maybe this person you’re rudely cornering likes being single, hasn’t found the right person yet, won’t settle, isn’t looking, is asexual, is desperately searching, just got dumped or really looks forward to being in a healthy, happy relationship but it just hasn’t fallen into place yet? Go away. And, why does it matter!?!?!?!!!?!? I want to punch people who ask questions like this.

 

“What are you doin’ workin’ on the weekend!??”

arya

Well, haha, I’d love to leave but then you’d probably be freaking out that the place is closed.

It’s the year 2018. I’d say the majority of businesses, or at least half these days, are open more than just Monday to Friday. At establishments that the general population (including the person asking this annoying AF question) expects to be open every single day, someone has to work on the weekend. No robots yet. Most employers don’t offer the luxury to be unavailable on the weekends. If they did, who the F would work? And please, don’t make the pity face. Working on the weekend usually means a day or two off during the week, which is amaaaaazing.

“You have really (insert unneccesary observation about someone’s appearance)”

amy

Example from my experience: “You have really short legs.” Crazy, I haven’t noticed in the thirty-three years that I’ve been alive. Let’s estimate that I’ve looked in the mirror once daily for my entire life. Obviously it’s been multiple times on some days, and zero on others, like when I was a baby, but just to simplify, let’s go with 11,721 times. I’VE NOTICED. There is a very good chance that something noticeable about a person could be their biggest insecurity. Don’t.

 

“You’re not going to like that tattoo when you’re an old lady.”

betty

First of all, how does this concern you in any way, idiot? It’s the 21st century; we, the people who get tattoos, are fully aware that they’re permanent. That’s the point. We are also fully acquainted with the fact that as living beings, days go by and we age, and our bodies, including our skin, change. We also do not care. Give your head a shake. Personally, I have no idea if I’ll be wearing tank tops and shorts in fifty years, but I’ll decide for myself when the time comes and I’m not going to ask anyone if they think it still looks “good”, whatever the hell that even means.

 

“So, you got married! When are you going to have babies?”

fran

My personal favourite response, “never, I’d rather die” always gets a great reaction.

How do you know this person even wants kids? How do you know if they can have children?? Why would you assume that this person’s next item on the to-do list is to reproduce? Why do you think the person wants to discuss this with you? Maybe they had a miscarriage, abortion or hysterectomy yesterday. Maybe the thought of being a parent makes them want to barf. Why do you think children are what automatically follow marriage?? I could go on forever. THROAT PUNCH.

 

“Do you work here?”

eric

HAHAHA. No, I’m just wearing this embroidered jacket/vest/apron/lanyard and name tag to pretend I work here and look cool.

 

And, the comment from a fellow gym member that got me writing this post:

“I’ll tell you right now, you’re gonna mess up your back stretching like that.” (Or any other remark lacking supportive, positive or accurate feedback)

Interesting. First and foremost, who asked you? Not me! Next, how do you know more about my body than I do?

For anyone who’s into yoga, you may be familiar with Supta Virasana, also known as sleeping/reclined hero pose. I am. The reason I’m familiar with this pose is because I’ve been doing it for about a decade, originally taught by certified instructors. I’ve also taught this pose for years as well, because I am a certified yoga instructor with over 570 hours of training. ALSO, I don’t have a “messed up back” from doing it. My back is problem-free and my body is very capable of all sorts of shit like running marathons and swimming, etc.

Unless someone is in a dangerious situation, asks for help, or is putting others at risk, it’s likely safe to just keep to yourself.

supta
Supta Virasana. Fkn love this pose. LOL.

 

Let’s think before we speak. Besides coming across as a total idiot, sometimes questions or comments like the above can lead to things like self-consciousness, sadness, anger, embarassement, or simply put a damper on a good mood. I am NOT saying I’ve never commited any of these crimes. What I’m saying is that we can all do each other a favour by keeping our observations to ourselves, or before speaking, asking ourselves, is this remark:

  • helpful
  • supportive
  • constructive
  • positive
  • welcome
  • open-minded

Or, is it:

  • nosy
  • presumptuous
  • completely useless
  • insulting
  • intrusive
  • biased
  • judgy
  • annoying as fuck

Have a great day!! And good luck out there bahaha

Common things people Ask or Say to Runners..and some Insight!

Ask anyone you know who runs and they’ll tell you about the common questions or comments they get all the time from non-runner folk. It’s totally okay, why would a non-running-obsessed person know all about running-related topics? It gets a bit old though, especially when the question or comment is delivered in a negativish way, which happens more than you’d like to think.

Here are some of the ones I encounter the most, and my truthful clarifications. I’ve read similar articles to this, but many of them have been all sarcasm or cynical in style. These are just some real answers and comebacks to the curiosities of others that we runners don’t always have the time (or patience..) to explain properly.

runner1

“I can’t believe you have to PAY to run a race!”

Yep. It’s true. A running event, or any other organized event for that matter, has a TON that goes into it! There is insurance. Permits. Road closures. Participant shirts & medals, and often cash prizes for winners. Other swag. Volunteers, sometimes by the thousands. In big enough races, on-course entertainment! Often a huge race expo, and a venue to host it. Water, fruit, granola bars and sports drinks at the finish line. There are medical tents, emergency responders, traffic control, chip-technology timing in the race bibs, bags provided for gear check, tents for gear check, sometimes transportation back to the start if it’s a point-to-point course, and lots of other stuff I’ve likely forgotten to mention. So yes, we pay to race. But you can’t put a price on the pride experienced after crossing the finish line and receiving your bling!

“Don’t you get bored?”

Nope. Never, actually! Personally, I’m too busy looking around, sorting out my brain, taking in the surroundings and being happy that I’m sweating and that I’m not at work. Sometimes it’s really hard, and I’m thinking about how difficult the moment is, but it’s definitely not boring. As runners we might also be paying attention to foot-strike, breathing, arm swing, heart-rate, relaxing the shoulders, holding a tall posture and keeping the muscles in the face and hands soft. Oh, and then there’s the list making, singing, meditating without even knowing it, the self-talk while approaching a massive hill, the satisfaction of reaching the top. Rocking out to a new playlist. Feeling strong AF. Doing all sorts of math to do with kilometer splits and average pace. It’s different for everyone, obviously, but not boring.

“You’re going to wreck your knees!”

Oh am I? LOL. Do you go up to soccer/squash/football/basketball players, snowboarders and obese people and tell them this too?

For real though. I do as much cross training and strength training as possible to use other muscles and keep my joints supported and stable, and I work on my running form constantly to make sure something like a high impact foot-strike isn’t going to foil my passion! In 2016 alone I ran over two thousand kilometres, which isn’t even that impressive in the realm of running, but it’s still a lot of distance and I’ve never had a knee injury. If I did develop knee discomfort, I’d rest accordingly and see a professional to help correct the issue. And at the very end of the day, if my knees are worn out when I’m seventy-five from being super active earlier in life, there’s no way in hell I’m going to say “damn, I really regret all those endorphin-packed workouts that helped me live a happy life and have some of the best experiences EVER.”

“How long was your marathon?”

The marathon is actually a specific distance. It is officially 42.195 km, or 26.219 miles. People round it to 42.2 (or 26.2), depending on whether they operate in metric or imperial. A half marathon is half the marathon distance, haha. That’s right, 21.1 km or 13.1 miles.

There are many other race distances, for example the 5km, 10km, ultra marathons and tons of track distances like 100m, 200m, 1500m, etc. And of course, there are totally random distances and events like Ragnar Relays or the Skeena River Relay, but the marathon always has been, and always will be, 42.2 km.

42

“I don’t know how you do it, I can’t run.”

I can almost guarantee that you can! It’s totally okay if you aren’t interested, but I know you could if you really wanted to! Running isn’t something that most people just decided they wanted to do one day, hopped up and headed out for a ten kilometre rip. If you live where I live, come join us for the thirteen week Learn to Run clinic, and if you don’t live in Prince Rupert, look into a local running group that I can basically promise will offer a couch to 5 or 10km. Yep. Couch can be the starting point. These kind of programs are for absolute beginners and commence with jog/walk intervals that start off really short!

“I don’t know how you have time to run that much.”

index

I don’t necessarily have the time, I make the time. I get up hours before work because my day is better if I’ve run before my shift. Or, I blow off steam between getting off work and making something for dinner. No, I don’t have kids, but some of the most dedicated runners I know, or follow in the online running community, have children. Check out my friend Martina here, she is a mother of five boys and runs ultra marathons! (An ultra marathon consists of any distance longer than the marathon distance, usually 50km or longer, and is commonly run on trails or other non-pavement terrain.)

“Runners get a lot of injuries you know.”

Okay. So do hockey players, skateboarders, thrill seekers and people who like trampolines. Like I said before, myself and most informed runners work on strengthening the muscle groups that support the areas prone to overuse injuries. Cross training, weight and resistance training, plyometrics and simply creating variety in activity are things that athletes do so they can prevent injury as best as possible and not have to take time off from what they love.

“What place did you get?”

Hahaha. Very flattering to be asked this question, however the answer is usually something like “not sure” or “200th” if it’s a big race. For example, at the Walt Disney World Marathon, which was big, there were a total of 17,751 runners. I got 103/1525 in my category (F30-34), 534/9355 for all women, and 1976th overall. This was a great race for me! The people who win massive-scale running events are usually elite athletes. I got third in my age group once in a small race, out of three people 😉

You run so much, why do you go to the gym/yoga/hike too?”

Using the same muscles over and over again leaves the other muscles that aren’t being used to weaken. This is a common cause of running injuries, and I don’t want running injuries because then I can’t run. So I use all the muscles. Also, exercise is very addicting. It feels awesome to sweat, create your own high, crush goals and often do these things in the gorgeous outdoors. Once exercising becomes routine, it is no longer a chore, it’s a treat.

“I don’t know where you get the energy for that.”

venus

When my alarm goes off at say, 5:30 am on a Saturday for long-run day, I (usually) don’t fly out of bed fist-pumping. I know, however, that I love how I feel once I get going. I also likely have a friend or friends to meet at a specific time and place. The energy comes from the run. During the week when that alarm goes off, the inner dialogue begins. “If you run now, you’ll have a wicked day AND you can do whatever the hell you want after work!” And then I am awake, feeling alive, happy, nice and more patient all day long. The energy comes from the run! If you’re more of an evening person, burn off every single annoying thing you dealt with or encountered all day long with your run and return home feeling good energy only.

“Do you actually enjoy it?”

Absofknlutely.

We all ask questions about stuff we aren’t familiar with or don’t understand. It’s allowed. But, I encourage us all, myself included, to inquire with open minds and try our best not to make assumptions about another person’s chosen passion.

If I’ve missed anything that you’re just burning to know, email me from the contact page!

Spotlight on the woman who teaches people how to create their ideal lives, Suzanne Fetting!

Have you ever wanted to make a serious change, or set of changes in your life but you either don’t know how, procrastinate making them happen, or just simply ignore the feeling all together? Have you ever compared things about your own life to someone else’s and felt numerous forms of discomfort because you want your life to be more like what their’s appears to be? I highly doubt anyone can answer a straight-up “no” to these questions. I can’t, and for a VERY long time my answer was a straight-up “yes”to both.

I was doing the things above NON-STOP in my twenties but didn’t know how to create the changes I needed to get closer to being genuinely happy. I was a stick in the mud. At one point, I found myself in such an uninspired place that I started to actively search for help. Maybe it would show up in a self-help book, or an inspirational speaker’s seminar or a course, but I was ready for anything because I was so tired of feeling the way I did; shitty with no goals and lack of excitement for daily life. Can you relate to this? Finding yourself in a place that maybe isn’t even necessarily bad, but could be so much better??

Deciding I wanted to feel better was enough to get the ball rolling, because during some relentless Googling in 2011, I came across a “Women’s Confidence Workshop” being held by a woman named Suzanne at Trout Lake Park in East Van. The tag-line was Find your Inner Strength! I had no clue what this meant but I signed up for the Absolute Confidence workshop anyway because I was desperate for some improvement, in any shape or form. I’m so thankful that I did, beause I ended up building a relationship with the best role-model I’ve ever met in my entire life. Over the next six years, including today, she has taught and continues to teach me how to create the life I want. This blog post is to shine a spotlight on my friend, Suzanne, possibly the most empowering teacher and mentor someone could hope to find!!!

So far, this post is a bit vague. Yeah, of course most people have had low parts of their lives..and yeah, lots of people would like to feel better than they already do, and everybody would like to have a life they truly love. Duh. Let me tell you a bit about Suzanne.

Suzanne is a coach who helps people uncover things about themselves (good, and not so good things) that they may not know, or be very in touch with. Things like:

  • passions
  • core values
  • goals
  • FEARS
  • self-sabotaging behaviours
  • beliefs formed about ourselves when we were little
  • people-pleasing
  • saying “no”
  • self-doubt

With her, a client works on strengthening the positive things, identifying negative things, and then figuring out productive ways to blast through barriers that are standing between them and absolute confidence in life. I’ll share the first testimonial that I wrote for Suzanne to elaborate a little on what I’ve already said. This was written in 2012 after working with her weekly for about nine months. Our sessions were on Skype for convenience, in case you’re thinking “well I don’t live in Vancouver.”

“Before hiring Suzanne, I was in the middle of a difficult emotional experience. Also, long before this particular situation, I had a low mood almost all the time and was living day to day worrying about the past or future and not enjoying the present at ALL. I had a lack of hobbies and passions and was totally unfulfilled with life. Prior to my work with her, I felt like I had no real purpose. It was like I was waiting for someone or something that would change things.

Developing confidence is important to me because it leads to finding your authentic-self. Working on this with Suzanne has taken me from where I was (the “dark place”) to where I am today, which is loving my life and enjoying everything I do on a daily basis, big and small. I know what I like and want, look out for #1 and feel fulfilled because she helped me uncover what excites and motivates me and what my unique gifts are. I was also able to finally give up the ways I allowed other people & my own thoughts to affect me negatively. Instead of waiting for life to change, now I make it happen by getting to know myself and creating opportunities. I actually feel really good nearly all of the time because I do things that I love and spend time with the right people. I’ve also learned to truly enjoy my own company which is really important, especially for someone who lives alone.

Working with Suzanne on a personal level is great. She’s welcoming and non-judgemental while always holding you accountable. She has great ideas and exercises and does a professional job running her business, always staying open-minded. The most important things Suzanne has taught me about are self-awareness, personal responsibility and how to really identify what matters to me most. My life is honestly different now; it was a major transformation and it’s not just me who notices. My friends and family also see that I have a completely different outlook and love life. I feel authentic and confident and every day is a good day.

If you’re thinking of hiring her, go for it. You will be amazed with what she’ll help you discover about yourself and the ways it will change the way you feel and live.”

So now you might be thinking, yeah okay well what does she teach people to make all of these great changes happen? Really good question with a very long answer, but I’ll try to be concise about the most important things I’ve learned from Suzanne and how she goes about coaching her clients.

Self-confidence, or a lack thereof, can be traced to the root of almost all personal successes as well as problems. This is not an exaggeration. Suzanne has shown me that the components of confidence, which include things like self-awareness, self-concept, assertiveness, belief systems, and personal responsibility are skills that can be learned and used to live the life I want and avoid most issues or challenges I face or used to face in daily life. Question: If you haven’t been taught how to change a tire, ride a bike, or cook a turkey would you expect to just magically know how to do these things? We, the adults of of today, are born in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. The majority of us didn’t grow up with a mentor who specifically taught us how important it is to know and like ourselves, value our uniqueness and take responsibility for our own happiness, so can we really expect these things to be totally second-nature? Sure, for a handful of people these things may come naturally, but if you aren’t in that handful, don’t beat yourself up. Suzanne is that mentor.

confidence2

An appointment with Suzanne is not like going to a counselor or therapist, it’s like having an exciting meeting with a friend who helps you crack open your brain, heart and soul and dig into the source of the issue(s) at hand. Need an example of an issue? Fear of going somewhere alone to meet people, going through a transition at work or home, doing things to please others before yourself, blaming someone else for your unhappiness, feeling you cannot be happy until you find a partner/have a baby/win the lottery or lose weight, fear of public speaking, saying you want to do something over and over but never taking initiative, believing things about yourself that aren’t true, feeling bored with life, not knowing how to stick up for yourself, etc, etc, etc!

After boiling it down together, she then provides the client with the tools needed to face these issues directly and learn to overcome them or manage them. That’s the homework. The sessions involve the investigation, and the homework is where the client takes responsibility and does the work; the reading, writing, monitoring, practicing and executing of the methods introduced during the session. It is up to the client to create new habits and make the magic happen under Suzanne’s guidance. And then report back to her! And when you do, she’s the most excited, supportive, enthusiastic person you could imagine having a personal discussion with.

Here are a couple more testimonials, also known as success stories, for you to read if you want some more examples of what Suzanne does for others! A very good friend of mine’s is here  and my own (more recent, from 2016) is here. I highly encourage you to read these. This woman is freaking unreal.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
– Steve Jobs

I wanted to write this post about Suzanne because she taught me how to create the life I want, just like I said in the title. She is the BEST. Everyone deserves to feel happy the majority of the time, and like they’re the boss of their own life. If you feel like you’re in a bit of a rut or need some assistance with things like prioritizing yourself, figuring out your passions, learning how to enjoy your own company, fear of “the unknown” or having more confidence in any area of life, think about connecting with her! Her business is something that I talk about daily to friends, acquaintances and complete strangers. I’ve had people ask me “how did you get so good at giving zero fucks?” and I just tell them, SUZANNE TAUGHT ME HOW. (She did’t call it that, though. LOL.)

She taught me the skills and wisdom necessary to create new habits and stop holding myself back from being the happiest and most inspired version of myself possible. It’s a good feeling! I want people to know that it is not necessary to settle for feeling less than wonderful.

One last note with respect to cost. Working on ourselves is an investment. It makes life better for the individual, but also for that person’s friends, family, partner and colleagues. Do you own an expensive pair of jeans, a snowmobile, electronics, go out for dinner sometimes, take a vacation occasionally or love to buy multiple pairs of sweet ass Nikes or RayBans? We spend our money on ourselves all the time. This is the same idea. It’s just not a garment, toy or glamorous trip. If you are feeling the slightest pull to contact Suzanne, DO IT!!!! Treat yo self!!! Or someone you care about! Or even just tell someone you know about her, because she’s the best and helps change lives ❤

suzanne

www.absoluteconfidence.com

 

 

Fueling Basics for New Runners

An old friend recently asked for some advice regarding what and when to eat before and after a run. She was referring to a ten-ish km distance, but regardless of whether you’re heading out for a twenty minute jog or your “long run” for the week, feeling hungry and low-energy isn’t fun, and neither is feeling bloated or crampy. Also, our bodies need fuel to do work and to recover from working, so heading out on an empty stomach, especially if it’s first thing in the morning, can lead to your body searching for energy that isn’t there. Some people perform and feel just fine running on empty for shorter workouts, but I like to feel energized and like my blood sugar is stable. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m no running guru, but here are some things I’ve learned over the last four years about what works for me and many others, and what doesn’t. And I’m sorry to tell you, but there will be days where the digestive system will be totally unpredictable and out of your control, but finding what works well for you 95% of the time is the best you can do.

Before a short run (under 60 minutes)

Think along the lines of a snack vs. a meal, and something low in fiber and fat

  • Small bowl of cereal
  • 1/2 white english muffin with jam or honey
  • a banana
  • make a smoothie, have 1/2 – 3/4 cup pre-run and save the rest for after!
  • unsweetened applesauce
  • peanut butter Larabar (mostly made out of dates)

 

muff

You want something light that won’t weigh you down and that is fairly easy to digest so your body can start to use the engery shortly after you consume it. That being said, do your very best to avoid anything with a ton of sugar. If you spike up your blood sugar and then have it come crashing down, you can end up feeling light headed or totally burnt out. Finally, save the mostly-protein bars for after your workouts; they take too long to digest to be used for a pre short-run snack.

If you’re running in the morning, start with a glass of water since you likely haven’t had any for 6-8 hours. Morning or not, if it’s been a while since your last meal and you know you need food before your exercise, make eating the first thing you do in your run-prep ritual, this way instead of eating and then having to wait around to digest, you can give your stomach a head-start to break down your snack while you to get your running clothes together, get your hair under control if you have hair that needs controlling, brainstorm your route and gather anything else you might need like a watch, hat or playlist. Make sure to allow around 30 minutes between eating and walking out the door. For me it’s more like 20 minutes, but for someone else it could be 45. Try to be patient with figuring your body out.

If you know you’re going to be pushing your run to right around the 60 minute mark for the first time it’s a good idea to bring a small snack or an energy gel with you just in case. We are all different of course, but I find that if I end up on the road for a full hour, I start to get hungry towards the end of the run. A few things I’ve had as snacks, aside from the Clif shots or Power gels that I carry on long runs, include gummy bears, raisins and graham crackers.

Before a run > 1 hour

If you are planning to run for an hour or longer, the body needs fuel that will last a bit longer; something that you will digest a little more slowly. Peanut, almond or another nut butter is a good way to add some protein to your to easy-to-digest carbs. Some ideas…

  • bagel with peanut or almond butter
  • banana with peanut butter (good if you don’t want bread, or just like a vehicle for eating peanutbutter)
  • bowl of cereal with a banana sliced on top
  • toast and yogurt
  • small bowl of oatmeal with raisins

 

toast

Notice how all of the suggestions are fairly basic and don’t have any bold flavours. When it comes to bread options, avoid nuts and seeds. Make it easy for your guts. Then, depending on the duration of the run you have planned, you’ll need to plan your mid-run fuel. If you’re running between 60 and 90 minutes, you are likely fine, but as I said before, until you know how your body responds to different durations of exercise, bring a snack or energy gel in case you start to feel hungry or low-energy before your run is complete. Read on for info about gels and other specific fuel for during the longest runs.

During a run >90 minutes

If you decide to build up to a weekly long run, especially if you’re training for an event like a half marathon, your runs will start to last longer than 90 minutes and you will need to keep reassessing your fuel requirements. Allowing yourself more time between eating and running is one thing that you might need to adjust for. If I’m running any distance that is going to take more than an hour and a half to complete, I’ll wake up 75 minutes before I need to leave the house. This gives me a 15 minute window to get up, drink some water, eat a banana and make an english muffin with jam or honey or a small bowl of oatmeal, and then I have an hour to get my gear together for the weather, my water and to-go fuel (usually Clif Shots or Power Gels) and do a decent dynamic warmup.

muff

Energy gels and gummies made specifically for consumption during an endurance workout are mostly simple carbohydrates that are super easy to break down and therefore get into your blood stream quickly. It can take a fair ammount of experimenting to find out which ones you like and that agree with your gut, but there are tons of options. Another thing to keep in mine is that to properly digest and absorb an energy gel it needs to be taken with some water. Water is important on longer runs, so you should have it handy anyways in a situation where you planned to take an energy gel. Hydration and fueling for long runs and races is a topic in itself, so we will save that for another day since this is supposed to just be covering some basics.

What about Coffee?

muff

COFFEEEEEE I love coffee!!! But it also might make you have to go poo part way through your workout!! Experiement carefully, but tons of runners have coffee in their pre-run routines! You’ll figure out how much time you need (or maybe don’t need) between coffee and running 😉

After your run

When you get home

  • rehydrate
  • commit to a good stretch of your hams, quads, calves, glutes and adductors
  • have another light snack
  • don’t loiter in your sweaty clothes

What you eat should have some protein in it for muscle repair and carbs to re-stock your energy, and you should be having this snack within thirty minutes of your workout! Try to use the duration and intensity of your run to help you decide how much refuelling you need to be doing. You do not need to eat all the food. Just give your body something to help it repair. If you’re hungry, eat accordingly. I like to drink a big glass of water and have peanut butter and banana toast, or if I’m in a rush, a least a scoop of chocolate protein powder shaken with water or almond milk. Chocolate milk is known (and has been studied!) to be one of the best things to have for recovery due to it’s ratio of carbs, protein and fat, but I save that for after >90 minute runs when I’ve burned more calories and have more recovering to do.

 

Starting out takes a lot of experiementing and since everyone is different there is no exact step-by-step guide. Some people barely eat anything before they run, they may not feel the need or maybe it causes nausea or cramping. Other people, like myself, get low blood sugar very easily and feel exhausted trying to run on an empty or near-empty tank. The digestive system can be mysterious. Bring toilet paper, and like I said before, try to be patient figuring out what works the best for YOU and your running. 🙂 Let me know what works (or doesn’t) for you!

 

 

 

 

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