For my birthday I asked for funds towards a new watch or garmin thinking maybe if I was going to be some sort of serious runner I should get one. I wasn't sure how I really felt about technologicalizing (yes, it is a word - in our house at least) my running. For years all I've had is a watch and my sense of self to gauge how fast I'm running or how far I've gone. So instead of the funds - which I probably would've spent elsewhere, my mom & dad got me the Forerunner 405 with heart rate monitor. I am now very afraid of what is in store. I know that I'm bound to develop a compulsion boderlining addiction to the thing. I'll be monitoring my pace, how far I've gone constantly; So constantly I'll probably trip and smash my face onto the pathway at somepoint. Then maybe I won't be so obsessed with the mountains of data it can provide.

My first Garmin workout actually wasn't a run. It was a suffering. A great measure of fitness is your heart rate. I thought what better way to log some stats on my current fitness that I can eventually compare against. So I suffered to Revolver - a hard core interval workout. A good measure of fitness is recovery - or how long it takes to recover from a super intense 10/10 effort. Revolver was just the workout to do that with 16 one minute work efforts each followed by one minute of recovery. I chose to add in an extra two minutes recovery after four intervals because I know this workout, it's damn tough and I know the extra rest would get me through it.

In setting up my garmin it asked for Max Heart Rate - having no idea what this was going to be I set it for 185 bpm thinking that was a pretty good effort on my part and that I would likely hit but not likely exceed that rate. Wrong. My garmin beeped at me continuously during my one minute work efforts. I hit a heart rate of 199 bpm. Standard formula for max HR is 226-age, so for me, 196 bpm. I have since changed my max HR to 205 thinking I won't likely hit this - but if I do it'll mean I'm just about to black out so somebody better come catch me. A few years back (like six maybe) I had my VO2 max tested. I can't remember my level but I know that at that time my max HR was deemed to be 208 bpm. My fitness level compared to now was different. I was doing more heavy lifting and less distance running. I'd love to have it done again some day - maybe this time I'll even run until I black out completely and fall off the treadmill. Using a baisc formula of 15(max heart rate-resting heart rate) my VO2 number is somewhere between 60 and 65 today. The average untrained female: 35. So pretty good - and it could get better. But as I can't measure VO2 max accurately at home I can only rely on my recovery numbers. So the plan is to do this same workout measuring my heart rate every two to three weeks. What I hope to see is faster recovery times of my heart rate after my all out efforts.

Tomorrow I'll summarize the month of March and let you know what's planned for April.


Age Category: 30-39

On Saturday I bid farewell to my twenties and welcomed my thirties on Sunday. The goal was to run out my twenties and run in the thirties. Ideally we would have a treadmill and I could have ran from 11:59pm to 12:01am. But we don't have a treadmill and I don't think jogging on the spot in the bedroom counts. So on Saturday I did a relatively easy 7 km along the river. I passed many sorts of runners including some wearing parkas (it wasn't that cold) and a race in progress. Watching those ultra fast, smooth, and efficient runners always makes me stand a little taller and push a little harder. Saturday night proved to be one of little sleep with M up every two hours from midnight on (teeth?). So rather than running Sunday morning I opted for a nap. And hey - who needs to run on their birthday anyways. So today I went out for my first run as a 30 year old. When I was 27 I proclaimed - I can't wait to be 30! Because if I had been 30 I would've placed first in my age group at that race. Hopefully pushing the stroller will increase my fitness so I can place in my age category at least once this race season, though I may have to find a very very small race. I took M out with me today because the sun was shining and it was finally a decent temperature - plus 11! I even took my jacket off part way through the run and ran in my tshirt. I still feel like I'm learning to run with the stroller. It's hard to stay really upright and not push your butt back. It's hard to keep your arms relaxed. It's also hard finding my pace and not exhausting myself. I try to run slower but somehow I just speed up to pace, and then with the extra weight my heart rate shoots up so I get tired. I definately have been taking walk breaks pushing the stroller to help keep my heart rate down. Very soon I'll have my very own Garmin (more on this later) to keep track of all these things. The thing with spring running I don't enjoy are puddles and mud. When you're pushing the stroller it's much harder to leap over them or run around them. I was doing a decent job of avoiding them today but somehow I just could miss the one that resulted in a soggy right foot and mud up the leg. So much for clean white shoes. Maybe now I just looked seasoned and hardcore - yep, definately going with that. PS. I try really hard to format my blog so it's not one big paragraph but something is screwy.


Mom & Babe (& Dad) Class Concludes

Well today was the last official mom and babe class - which Stu and Miki (the dads) attended when they could. Are we fitter - you bet! And the kids - well we soon discovered the best way to keep them all happy was to pull out a whole bunch of snacks. I swear some days it took us as long to clean up smooshed blueberries and cheerios after class as it did to work out. Thanks again Tricia for helping whip our post-partum bodies back into shape - not that it remotely resembles my pre baby shape but it's good, I'll take it. I didn't get a picture of Sara but I'm sure her and I will get up to some other butt kicking workouts together in the future.

Christine doing some great one arm pulls
L. Avery - Tricia's daughter. R. Kellan (Sara) & Siena (Christine)

M hanging wtih Auntie Tricia.

Disclaimer: We are only smiling because Tricia is taking our picture. Then we promptly returned to grimacing.


Ok, I'm going to say it, I'm nervous. 10km race in 16 days - ummm. Half marathon end of May - ummm. I have been trying to run, really. But have you looked outside? Have you even shovelled - because I know we haven't been and I can't really blame all the rest of Calgary for refusing to shovel either. It's exhausting all this snow.

I did manage to make it out on Tuesday with my mom and Mallory for a 5km run. It was a great temperature and there was no wind. But the path's weren't clear so we slogged it through with the stroller. Oh mom helped - on the flat shovelled part. But I'm a trooper and I'm fitter for it.

I will take some blame for this weather - in organizing to move I packed away 98% of our winter gear. I am sorry readers, I have contributed to the prolonging of winter. I promise this fall to pack away all my summer gear early in hopes of an extension on our sunny weather.


Wanted: Return to Plan; Reward: Food

Why the reward? Well, after five days away due to general lack of energy due to severe lack of sleep, I needed - ok wanted - the reward for jumping back on full steam and suffering. Mallory is feeling a whole lot better so I have no excuses not to make myself better too.
I am all about the reward. Yes, the little star stickers on the workout calendar are great but I'm talking something really tangible here, like ice cream. Ice cream is my dessert of choice. It's not a side, it's a main. I particularily love vanilla, the really creamy good stuff. We had a party on the weekend and we were kindly gifted three boxes of left over ice cream. Add this to the box I broke down and bought last week we have four half eaten boxes of ice cream in the house. I grabbed the vanilla out of the basement freezer and noted upon scooping that it was 1/2 the fat of regular ice cream. I was leary. I could see in the colour that it was white, not yellow. I scooped myself a bowl, took two bites, dumped it down the sink. Frozen milk is not a reward unless it's the flavoured Italian version that follows a particularly rich meal with bold wine. Out came my good creamy double churned vanilla goodness. Now that rolls around in the mouth much better.

Food. I am not one to shy away from food. Real Food. Butter. Eggs, yolk included. Red Meat. Whole Milk. Fruits. Vegetables - yes even potatoes, lots of them. Whole Grains. One of the things I love about Mallory eating solids is all the extra fruit and veg I'm getting because I want her to eat it so I take the time to serve it to all three of us. As I'm still breastfeeding I know that there is a caloric requirment related to this so I continue to eat freely and abundantly all the good things in our house. From time to time I indulge in the occassional left over birthday cake, get fries from the drive thru, or have a pop. But how can you feel guilty about eating any of this when 98% of your diet is filled with wholesome goodness? Here's the thing, if people actually ate real food they'd be smarter, or at the very least have some energy to get up and move. I'm so tired of seeing the 'Eat these 10 Super Foods Now!' You know what they are? Real food. And the next list, more real food. And the list after that, yep, more real food.

So, food can be an excellent reward. How delicious is a mango? I bought a bunch today as a reward to the family as if to say, hooray, we survived the bleak of winter. How about pasta? Sure, carbs filled with cheese could be unhealthy. Or you could add a bunch of fresh herbs and some nuts and serve it as a side to protein and some steamed veg and you have a great date night meal. Real Food is not our enemy. Real Food is our fuel.


All that I can do

Sometimes life sucks. Especially if your 9.5 months old and you can't take anything to help with the congestion and sleeping is uncomfortable and swallowing your snot gives you an upset stomach. Mallory has a wicked cold and as such we've been up for the last two nights trying to soothe her and help her get any sleep she can. Right now she's sleeping in the stroller which I've brought into the house because I didn't want to move her by taking her out.I'm exhausted. I've been trying to let Stu get some rest as he's been working day shifts and shouldn't be too tired otherwise he could compromise patient safety.

All I could manage these last two days was walks with Mallory. Yes, I could've gone up to the oval to meet the run group last night and sure I could attempt to lift some weights in the basement today. I know though that exhaustion leads to poor form and poor form leads to injury. My glute is finally not nagging me at every second of the day and so I'm going to be kind to my body and let it rest as 3 hours of broken sleep each night is not ideal for strenuous activity of any kind. So here's hoping for the entire household that Mallory gets better real soon and I can get back to it lickity split.


Now I eat Humble Pie

I was starting to think that I might actually be fitter. But then I received my usual wake up call at class with Tricia today. Today's particular gruelling workout was a round of cardio including the rower, over and backs on the step, lateral ladder work, standing on the bike, leaping side lunges onto the bosu, lateral shuffles and touches, burpees with the medicine ball, and skipping. Once through. Then weights - chest press and twist, alternating back rows, reverse lunges, crunches, one arm kettle bell swings. Twice through then repeat the cardio circuit. Stu commented at one point: Aren't these supposed to get easier over time? All Tricia could do was laugh. All I could do was keep going as if there was some sort of momentum I had going. I know this is all worth it though, why?

I'm at my pre pregnancy weight. The more important fact is that at this rate I just might reach my ideal race weight for the half marathon. So I will eat humble pie and keep getting it handed to me on Thursdays.


Stong and Steady

Strong Legs, Steady Breathing - that's my running mantra. Today I went out with the intention of running 45 minutes. I thought that as I've been putting in 45-60 minute interval sessions this was an achievable goal. 55 minutes later I stepped back in the house knowing I could have gone further but chose to stop as the hips were tightening up - likely from running on the uneven packed snow for 65% of the run. It was a fantastic run. My legs were strong, my breathing was steady; The weather was better than yesterday.

There are hundreds of running programs out there designed to help you train for any goal race. I like flexibility in my life and as such I can't subscribe to such regime. I have however studied and read a whole bunch of programs, training ideas, advice from coaches and pro athletes and here's what I can tell you for sure. To be a decent runner, you should aim to run three times a week, to be a better runner you should aim to run four times a week, if you're competing at a really high level (college, Olympics) you should run six times a week.

All of these programs say that non-running days should be rest or cross training - but rarely do they delve into detail as to what this should entail and how, if possible this should best complement and could even supplement for running. So I will cross train intensely. Hard workouts on the bike, strenuous weight sessions. This will help build strength, speed, and stamina.

They also say that mileage counts, the further the better. This means lots of kilometres weekly. So being one to ignore structure and being a bit more free flowing my running program will be this: run at least twice in march, three times in April, four times in May - except the week before the half marathon where I will taper. Run far but not necessarily slow. Slow isn't bad. But my goal isn't to complete, my goal is sub two hours. So I will: Challenge my pace weekly with speed sessions, fartleks, tempos. I have run my personal bests running max three times a week though not necessarily far. I believe that by adding distance I will at the very least post some good 5k times this year. I'm convinced my program will work for the half marathon too. I guess I'll know for sure in 11.5 weeks.


Do I have to?

In one short word. No. I don't have to do anything I don't want to with my body. Do I want to? Yes and no. Yes, I want to keep up with the plan. No, because I feel like a slug or maybe a sloth. It started this morning with a 7:10 alarm - yes, I actually had to set the alarm this morning rather than waking up to Mallory - who I think would have slept until at least 8:00 today - to pick up my brother from the airport at 8:25 - who lands during rush hour? And since that moment, or maybe those tossing and turning moments last night, my energy level has been relatively non-existent. I thought a walk to the grocery store in the sun and modestly 'good' weather would help perk me up. No. Lunch. No. A workout. No.

Today is the kind of day I dread - working out with next to no energy. But sometimes I surprise myself, get going, and voila! Energy! So I willed it upon myself. Put on some pumping music, mentally committed myself to do only what I knew I could but hoped ever so deeply that after about 10 minutes that magic would appear in my muscles and lungs. Alas, it eluded me. So today, only the tiniest of stars on the calendar. Considering I was supposed to do weights yesterday (didn't happen), run today (weights instead), and rest tomorrow, the fact that I've done anything at all is an accomplishment. Tomorrow, I will run. I will, I swear. I think I'll even reward myself with dessert tonight because I will run tomorrow. I will, you'll see. And it'll be great!



Ah, rest days, I am so grateful for them. After getting my butt handed to me yesterday from Tricia (yes I am more aware of my butt today as I climb stairs and sit down/stand up) I am so ready for a day of R&R. R&R does not however stand for Rest and Relaxation; It stands for Recover and Roll. There's no way to do the next three days if I don't flush out some lactic acid but doing a short spin session (15 minutes or so) followed by some long deep passes on the foam roller.

Tomorrow I had a run on the calendar. As the forecast sucks (minus a billion) I think I'm going to swap tomorrow's and Monday's workouts. Which means I suffer tomorrow and run Monday. I usually like to have the hardest workout before a R&R day but I guess this set of workouts will make the next R&R day totally worth it.

Speaking of gratitude. I re-read a great article in Runner's World about being grateful. I read it while sitting in the freezing ass tub yesterday. Yes, I had to find someway to be grateful for the 15 minutes I spent sitting in a 17 degree celsius tub. My gratitude statement went something like this: 'I am grateful for having a magazine subscription that distracts me from the fact that I can't feel my toes'. Today as part of R&R day I'm going to fill that same tub up with hot water tonight and maybe have some more R&R. Red wine and Reading. Now there's something to be grateful for. And I'm thinking if I'm really lucky it'll be a R&R&R. The third R being a foot Rub from the hubby.


The Suffering Pics

These are to accompany the last post- for whatever reason they just wouldn't set right and kept messing up the text.

Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow - The Suffering

Yesterday I did my program from Tricia. Tricia, my lovely cousin and personal trainer, was so kind to give me a grueling regime to kick this postpartum butt back into shape. Literally, my butt had almost all but diminished - ok the muscle part at least, there is still junk in the trunk. But I don't really want to talk about yesterday because yesterday was good. I want to talk about today.

I Suffered, quite literally. Stu and I found cycling videos for the spin bike whose motto is: I will beat my ass today to kick yours tomorrow. The video I did today was called Revolver. It's not because the footage is of the velodrome or cyclocross loops or because you repeat the same series of intervals, it's because you want to shoot yourself at the beginning, middle, and end because it's so freaking tough. So freaking tough you drop F bombs at the television. This is why we workout while Mallory naps. The workout went like this: 4min warmup, 1.5min light temp0, 2min moderate tempo, then 16 intervals working for 1minute at 10/10 effort then recovering for 1min at 3/10 effot. I admit, I didn't make it to 10/10 every interval but I was definately above an 8 everytime. Check out the suffering for yourself - although hard, it's inspiring to see the athletes in the video footage and their amazing capabilities.

Then I suffered some more. No I wasn't dumb enough to do another video. This is me, in the freezing ass tub. Why would I sit in a cold tub? Well, it'll only make tomorrow easier. Because tomorrow is class with Tricia and there is no mercy. And I have to keep up with her this week. Two weeks ago she kicked my flabby butt, ya ya she's a trainer it's her job. Ya, ya, she's 20 weeks pregnant! Let the suffering continue.


Begin Journey

It's March 1st. That means there's just a few short weeks or months to get trained and ready for a number of to-do's on the list. Inspired by my friend Lisa to blog about the experience (read hers here: getting-ripped.blogspot.com) I decided I should do the same - and that all you readers should post comments and keep me inspired and committed to the challenges. I'll post about my workouts and the torture I'm enduring, you post about my insanity while either a)joining me or b) laughing and pointing but secretly wishing you were this dedicated.

Here are the real challenges on the schedule this year, all of which can be complicated by weather, child, husband, my own body, and other non-excusable disruptions in day-to-day life.

April 10: Spring Trio 10km, goal time of less than 60 minutes. I'm not even sure I can run for that long consecutively right now.

May 8: Mother's Day 5km, goal time of less than 25 minutes. Jet lag (arrive back from UK on May 4) be nice to me.

May 29: Calgary 1/2 Marathon, goal time of less than 2 hours. I have never run this far in my life.

June 25: K100, leg undetermined. This is the race I'm the most confident about as the distance will be shorter than a half marathon and I should have my kms up and steady.

August 6: Warrior Dash in Whistler. Stu has me convinced to do this. But it's for fun right? (www.warriordash.com)

September 17: Blitz Duathlon (www.blitzevents.ca). Biking is a whole new thing.

October sometime: Probably another 1/2 marathon, Ekiden again perhaps. Ideally not slowing down because winter is approaching.

As the post-partum body starts to regain some strength and funtionality (ie. speed) I'm hoping that posting the calendar of workouts in a highly visible area (read: don't stare at self brushing teeth in mirror, stare at schedule) will keep me on track. I might even give myself stickers for completion. So please stay tuned and cheer me on!