Tales of a funny tummy: working on that race day fuel!

I think I’ve talked a little bit about my nausea-woes, but I’ve never really talked about where they began and how much I’ve struggled with my “funny tummy” over the years. It all started in 2012 when I was travelling home from Australia (I lived there for 2 years), through India, Nepal and China. I was away for 2 and a half months and in that short period I was sick with food poisoning 3 times. After I got home from that trip my stomach never really felt quite right, as my husband would say I did not have an “iron gut”. I was often bloated and most foods went straight through me. It was manageable for a while in my day-to-day life, I just thought I had a sensitive stomach, it wasn’t until I started marathon training in 2013 that I realized how bad it really was.IMG_1012

Running on empty

When I started running long distances I struggled HARD with what my stomach could tolerate on the go…which at the time was pretty much nothing! I went back to the usual gels and chews that I used to use, but I couldn’t stomach them and would end up eating next to nothing on the 2-3+ hour training runs. It took me 2 marathons and ending up in the medical tent of my second to realize that if I wanted to become a stronger runner, I needed to fuel better and sort this sh*& out!

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I’m smiling because it’s over…moments later I was throwing up and in the med tent!

Getting answers

My first step was an appointment with a naturopath who explained that the food poisoning had caused me to have a “leaky gut” and that a food sensitivity test would be the first step followed by a cleanse, which I did. I was super strict with what I ate for about 6-8 months and felt soooo much better! But I still struggled to find the right fuel during my runs. Most of the gels and brands out there {such as GU, powergels and Clif shots} still reeked havoc on my tummy and the others {like honey stingers, Skratch and Huma} that did go down easy, I couldn’t stomach after 2 or 3…especially if it was hot and my mouth was dry #worst 🤢

Maple syrup for the win!

Finally, on a really hot day in 2015 I came across Endurance Tap gels at my local running store and took them out for a test run…they were sooo good! They went down super easy, were really liquidy so I could get them down quickly, and they didn’t make me feel queasy after multiple hours of eating them (even in the heat)… I was in love! I used to think I was one of the only ones that struggled with my race nutrition and fuelling; but lately I’ve seen so many posts and received so many messages from people saying they feel the exact same way! It’s hard to find something that works, but I think if you’ve struggled like I have, than I think one of the keys is the fewer the ingredients the better. I think Endurance Tap works for me because it only has 3: maple syrup, ginger and salt which has definitely saved my tummy and my training!

During this training cycle I’ve made it a goal to really practice my race-day nutrition during my long and tempo runs and have been exclusively taking an ET every 35-45mins…and for once I actually feel good! I guess this is what it’s like to be properly fuelled🙈 So if all goes to plan on race day, it will be the first Marathon EVER that I won’t be under-fuelled and energy deprived!! Fingers crossed 🤞🏼

Do you struggle with fuelling? What works for you?

TRY ENDURANCE TAP FOR YOURSELF WITH THE DISCOUNT CODE “GoodForMyTummy” and get 20% off until May 7🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼

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9 Weeks until BMO Marathon…let’s go!

I’m back from vacation (I was just in Japan and Vietnam for the last 3 weeks) and it’s time to get serious about training for the BMO Vancouver Marathon. It’s 9 weeks until race day, which I know is a short period of time, but I knew when I signed up that my vacation was going to fall smack dab in the middle of training. It was a risk I decided to take given that I have a strong base and I knew I was going to do some running while I was away (which I did). I didn’t follow a specific training plan, but I stuck pretty close to my 2 run-cation goals which were:
1. Aim to maintain a minimum of 40km/25mi per week (I ran 40k the first week, and 37k during the second and third)
2. Maintain speed by throwing in some speedy tempo miles 1-2x per week (I followed this the first 2 weeks in Japan, but it was too hot in Vietnam to push the pace!)

Now to the plan….

When I made this plan a month ago and saw the first week I can promise you that some words I care not to repeat {but totally appropriate} left my mouth🙊 Seeing 26-32k in the first few weeks are definitely intimidating, and given that the first weeks mileage is around 70km/42mi; it made me even more motivated/scared to make sure I kept my base up while I was away! I normally don’t like to increase my weekly mileage by more than 20% because of the risk of injury, but like I said I think my base is strong enough to stay healthy #knockonwood …even with the big jump into week 1 (I’d been running 45-65km per week for the last…I can’t even tell you how long prior to my trip).img_5842

Now let’s talk marathon goals!

My plan for this race is to set 3 goals on race day, an A , B and C goal. I’ve never done this before, I’ve only ever just had one, but looking back I really think I should have. I think it makes sense in order to keep my head in the game and to ensure I don’t get discouraged out there on the course…but trust me all my training is going for that “A” goal👊🏼

A= 3:15
B= sub 3:20
C= PB (which would be a sub 3:31)

Some people may think my goal of a 16 minute PB is ambitious, but I know that where I’m at now is definitely 16 minutes stronger mentally and physically than where I was 2 and a half years ago when I set it!!

Dream big, run hard, that’s my plan and I’m all in!!! Training officially starts tomorrow…wish me luck!!!

The Run Down: How Bad Do You Want It? by Matt Fitzgerald

After some mental meltdowns last year during some of my races, it made me realize that my mental game or “mental fitness” as Matt refers to it in his book, needed some work. I’ve always known that running is at least 50% mental (arguably more), particularly in the longer distances, yet I’ve never put much work into it during my training. Yes I’ve used mantra’s and visualization, but I can’t say I’ve truly worked on it, and since I’d heard a lot of praise about the book from fellow runner friends, I decided to pick it up. I can definitely tell you it lived up to the hype!how-bad-do-you-want-it

The Run-down: The main idea that Matt talks about in the book is his term “mental fitness”, which he describes as a collection of coping skills- behaviours, thoughts and emotions- that help athletes master the discomfort and stress of competition. The main idea being that we are all driven by something different and that no one strategy of mental training, just like physical training, can be used for every person. He uses each of the 12 chapters in the book to illustrate different types of mental strength by telling the stories of a variety of different athletes and how they came to develop their own personal mental fitness. I think this is what makes the book such a good read, the story telling and the inspiration behind each athlete he uses.

What I got out of it: I think the main thing I wanted to get out of the book were tools and strategies to use during my races and training; but I think what the book made me do is see where I’ve gone wrong in the past and how to prevent it in the future. For example, in chapter 2 he talks about “bracing yourself for competition” and not looking past it to the future. I’ve definitely been guilty of overlooking the present and instead looking too far ahead to what’s coming next, which he describes as failing to prepare for it to hurt and “not being on top of your suffering”. He goes on to describe how this mentally leaves the door open for you to be overwhelmed by the difficulty and sometimes pain of it all, which I can say 100% happened to me at the Finlayson Arm 50k last year.cropped-img_0008.jpg

The other thing I got out of reading the book was the questions I’d never thought to ask myself before, like: WHY DOES THIS MATTER TO ME? WHO AM I DOING THIS FOR? The questions that come to mind when you’re in the pain cave and you want to quit. I would have thought I knew why if you’d asked me before, but when I really stopped to think about it, I don’t think BECAUSE I DO is a very compelling answer when you’re whole body is screaming STOP. These are the types of tools I’m hoping will make me a stronger runner this year.

Why you should read it and when: Obviously you should read it if you compete in any form of endurances races; but I would say no matter what distance you run {ride or swim}, this book would be a huge help! Even if you’ve never experienced the effects of a full mental breakdown during a race, read it for mental protection…because trust me, it’s not pretty!

So that’s the why, what about the when? I think the best time would be when you’re training for a goal race, that’s what I did and I’ve found it really helpful to try out the different tips he uses in the book during the training, as well as to work out the kinks before race day!img_5068

So there’s my two-cents on the book, I hope you like it as much as I did!!

Let’s Catch Up! January’s run-down

I feel like I say this at the end of every month, but seriously how is it *February (*insert month here) already?! Regardless of my shock at how quickly time flies, the first month of 2017 is officially over and that means it’s that time again, so…LET’S CATCH UP!!!

Currently Eating: If you remember my last “let’s catch up post” then you’ll remember that I was doing the 21 day sugar detox for the month of January…and guys guess what, I MADE IT, whoop whoop!!!  It’s definitely the longest I’ve ever gone without a baked good or pizza and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t miss it; but I’m hoping some of these habits I picked up in the last month will stick! For example, I’ve learnt that not every Friday and Saturday night is cause to celebrate by eating ALL THE THINGS! And I plan on being a little more picky with my “treat yourself” occasions. Below are 2 of my favourite things I ate this month…

Favourite Adventure(s): Once again I couldn’t choose so here are my top 2:

  1. The Squamish Chief first peak with @thehilaryann because I’d never been there in the winter and it was SO FREAKING PRETTY!

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    photo by Hilary Ann
  2. Taking my sister up to Dog Mountain on Seymour because, even though I’ve been up there a lot this year, she had never been EVER! And watching her take it in for the first time always gives me a new appreciation of the view!

Currently Obsessed With: Selling my clothes on the Lululemon swap and shop Facebook group! It’s a local group where you can buy and sell your new and used Lululemon, and since finding it just over a week ago, I’m already obsessed! My goal for the year has been to limit my shopping to only the things I NEED and since lately I’ve been selling clothes instead of buying them I keep telling my husband that I’m “reverse shopping” Lol! Needless to say he’s pretty happy about it:) (I think they have them in other cities too, so check it out if you haven’t already!)img_0067

Finish Lines Crossed: There was only one, and you already know about it, but it felt so nice I’m going to tell you twice…The Chilly Chase 15km aka my confidence builder!

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Currently Watching (instead of reading): I normally read before bed but my battery died in my reading light (yes this is a lame excuse and yes I’m a dork with a reading light), so I haven’t picked up a new read yet. So since I’m not reading, I’ll tell you my favourite things I’ve watched this month, which have both been inspirational movies about running…I know shocking right?! The Steve Prefontaine Movie, “Without limits”, which I watched the night before my 15k race…totally inspiring! And “Finding Traction” on Netflix which is a documentary about the amazing ultra-runner Nikki Kimball as she runs the 273mi Long Trail in Vermont…again super inspiring!!!

Monthly Mileage: 249.3km/154.6 miles

Hope you had a great start to the year and a great month! Huge thanks to The Athletarian for inspiring these monthly catch ups:)

See ya later self doubt✌🏼

Yesterday I ran the 15km Chilly Chase in Vancouver, and while I could write you a race recap of how I ran an out and back loop around the seawall, that’s boring and to me it wasn’t about that! Yesterday was the run I needed to prove to myself YES I CAN!
✔️Yes I can run at that hard, fast 4:13km/6:47mi pace that I’ve struggled with for the last few weeks and feel strong while doing it!
✔️Yes I can keep my head in the game and not loose focus or struggle with self-doubt.
✔️And YES I CAN cross a finish line at a hard effort and not loose my cookies🙊 lol!

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Note to self: open your eyes 👀 But at least I’m smiling!

I don’t know at what point in time I lost my confidence with running fast, but I can definitely say that I haven’t felt as self-assured as I did waking up this morning since I ran CIM and qualified for Boston in 2014! A confidence from knowing that I’d done everything I could to achieve my goal.IMG_0004Going into this half-marathon training, I kept saying that I wanted to get a sub 1:35, but what I only said out loud to a few people was that I actually wanted to get a sub 1:32…my qualifying time for the NYC Marathon. And what I really, REALLY wanted to do was run a 4:15km/6:50mi pace, which if I ran the perfect race (i.e. ran the course perfectly and didn’t go over in mileage), would get me a 1:29:32…that elusive sub 1:30!

Over the last few weeks, between having to do tempo runs on the treadmill because of ice and struggling to hit the pace on the road, I was thinking that my race plan would be to go out at a 4:20km/7:00mi and hope to hold on…but as one of my clients said to me the other day, HOPE IS NOT A STRATEGY!! So my new plan is to go back to the old plan👇🏼

Go out at a 4:15km/6:50mi, hold on and GIVE THE COURSE HELL! I feel confident enough now to know I’ve done the work and if I don’t try I’ll regret the waisted opportunity! So here goes nothing…2 weeks until race day, LET’S DO THIS!img_4943

 

Goals for 2017!

I’m a huge goal person and a true believer in writing them down. Last year was a big year for me, and I felt like I tackled a HUGE amount of personal run-goals. With that being said, by the end of the year I was ready to be goal-less for the remaining few months. This really made me realize that, while 2016 was big for me, I was constantly looking ahead and saying “what’s next?” instead of taking it one race at a time. So as you can guess, I know I want to focus on one step at a time this year, which has left me struggling to figure out with what I really want to ACCOMPLISH on the whole for 2017…

“Goals are what take us forward in life;

they are the oxygen to our dreams.” ~ unknown 

So I took the first step and bought another Believe Training Journal (I used it last year and loved it), and asked myself “WHAT DO YOU WANT RUNNING TO DO FOR YOU THIS YEAR?” And I thought about it for a while, and realized I want it to do the two things it’s always done for me:

  1. Give me strength, self-confidence and self-esteem
  2. Make me happy:)

Then I asked myself “HOW CAN IT DO THOSE THINGS FOR ME THIS YEAR?” And I came to the conclusion that in 2016 I pushed myself FURTHER than I once thought I could; and for #1 to happen in 2017, I needed to push myself FASTER than I once thought I could. Fear of speed, fear of failure and fear of feeling really, really bad has been haunting me for a while now and I think now is the time to conquer it!!!cropped-img_0023.jpg

Then for #2 to happen, 2017 has to be less about GOAL RACES (don’t get me wrong, I still plan on having some) and more about GOAL PLACES. Because my favourite thing about running is the places it takes me to and the opportunity to see and explore new parks, mountains, trails and cities on foot.

So now that you know my thought process, here are my goals:

  • Run a sub 1:30 half-marathon: I think this may take a few races to dwindle the time down from my current 1:35:04 PB, so my plan is to aim in the ballpark of 1:32:xx for my first HM of the year on Feb 5 and go from there.
  • Run a sub 3:20 full-marathon: I’m 99% sure that it will be the BMO Vancouver Marathon on May 7…I just have to click register!
  • Sea wheeze August 12: no time goal here, just FUN!
  • Run the full Howe Sound Crest Trail
  • Run a race or a self navigated route: I’ve been wanting to run in some of the US parks in either Utah or Arizona for SOOOOO long! My list includes (and doesn’t end with): Antelope Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion and the Grand Canyon. I’m hoping that a group of us will go down and run the Grand Canyon this year rim-to-rim (50miles)…planning and logistics is just in the works!

I know I still want to add a few trail races into the mix, but the objective stays the same: build confidence and run happy….It’s all about quality over quantity this year!

What are your 2017 goals?

Edmonton Half-Marathon Recap

I signed up for the Edmonton half-marathon at the very last minute…literally there was only 4 hours left to register!! It wasn’t that I was being a total procrastinator (well that was part of it); it was mostly because I was humming and hawing about running (and racing) the full distance. My plan was to run the full with the intention of trying to qualify for Boston in 2017. I knew Edmonton would be my last chance to attempt to qualify, which I’d been thinking about ever since I crossed the Boston finish line back in April. So as the months and weeks ticked by leading up to the Edmonton Marathon, I had a lot of “what-if’s” I needed to answer before hitting the button to register.

First I wanted to see how my 50 miler went and wanted to make sure I was injury free before I signed up for another big race. After that went okay, I knew the main thing I had to do was make sure my head was in the game. This was a super important point that my husband brought up. He said to me “I think you should do it, but only if you truly believe you can and your eye is on the prize”. This to me was the most important piece of advice, I needed to be willing to push it, and as I got to the final week and days before the race I realized my head just wasn’t in it. I couldn’t find that burning desire that made me want to race that distance, and I realized there would be other Boston’s…2017 wasn’t going to be my year! So with all that being said,I decided I still wanted to race on the weekend and signed up to run the half.IMG_0043

The Race

Since this race was so last minute for me, I figured I had nothing to lose and I may as well go for it and see what I could do. My plan was to go out at a 1:33’ish half pace, and since the course is pretty flat and the weather was looking perfect for racing, I figured that pace was totally possible. The morning of the race I headed down to the start line with my cheering squad consisting of my mom, her best friend and one of my best friends from Calgary (who even made a sign to cheer me on #best). IMG_0002I thought I was going to be super relaxed off the start, but my stomach was feeling a little off which I figured was just nerves. With 10 minutes until go time, I shuffled into the starting chute, found the 1:35 bunny and positioned myself near her.

At 8am the gun went off and I started off though downtown Edmonton. The first few km’s of a race for me are all about getting around the crowds, finding my rhythm and settling into a pace, which is how my race started; but after about 3km I realized I was feeling off and I was going a little too fast. I told myself it was all good, but by 5km I was still going a little too hard and started to feel a little nauseous. I tried to ignore it and once I had some water it made me feel a little better and I finally settled into my goal pace. At 7km I saw my cheering squad, which gave me a huge boost, especially since my friend looked so excited to see me! IMG_0044Unfortunately, this didn’t last too long and by the 11km mark I knew I had been slowing down and at around 12km the 1:35 bunny ran past me. I’m not going to lie, my heart sunk a little when she passed, but I hoped she was going a little fast and that there was still hope for me!IMG_0013

At 14km, I saw my cheerleaders again and got some well needed high-fives, but I kept getting waves of nausea. I tried to ignore it and I used the bunny ahead to keep my focus and distract me from my funny tummy. With about 2km to the finish line, I knew I wasn’t going to get under 1:35, but I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be too far off and I really wanted to finish strong, so I pushed the pace and gave it everything I had! I finished in 1:35:43, 39secs off my PB and 44secs off my goal time.

Lessons Learned

All in all I’m happy with how I ran this race even though I know I went out a little too fast out the gate. I think this half has confirmed for me that my legs are capable of going faster, but it’s my nausea that’s my limiting factor. It’s also taught me that every distance is a hard fought race if you go out with the intention to push the pace (like my poetry there?! lol). I know I can run 21.1km, but I know that if I really want to race 21.1km and break that 1:35 threshold I need to do more half-specific training. I’m not sure when that training is going to happen or for what race since I have a 50km Sept 10, a 10km Sept 17 and a half that I’m pacing Oct 23…but I know that I want to train properly for my next one and that I intend on busting through that 1:35 time on the clock!!

Seawheeze 2016 Race Recap!

And just like that another Seawheeze weekend is done! Is it too early to start the countdown for next year…and the minor panic attack about whether or not I’ll be able to get in😳 If you’ve ever tried to register for Seawheeze then you’ll know that the panic is real as the registration process is more stressful than running the 13.1miles…it’s 11minutes of shear panic!!!! But let’s not think about that right now, let’s focus on how amazing this weekend was. From the people, to the weather, to the concert, I think this Seawheeze was the best yet!!image

PRE-WHEEZE

The Shop

My Seawheeze experience started a little early this year with a super lucky opportunity to shop at the showcase store the night before it opened to the public. Prior to this invite my plan had been to get up at the crack of dawn to stand in line; so when I was invited to the friends and family sale you can bet I jumped at the chance!! It was so nice to shop in peace and not to have to guard my purchases for fear some crazy woman in luon would raid my pile! I loved some of the prints this year and scored some super cute finds…all in all a successful shop👍

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I bought shorts and a top in this print too👌

But when I came out, I was so surprised to see the line up of Lululemon campers already parked outside the convention centre at 7:30pm…the store opened at 7am!!!!! It was crazy! When I walked out they saw my bags and started yelling “SHOW US WHAT YOU BOUGHT!” I felt like I was on an episode of girls gone wild, lol😂 Those were some die hard lulu lovers!

Runners Expo

Every year I do the nooner yoga at Jack Poole plaza, so I kept the tradition alive and headed down to the convention centre to get my down-dog and baby cobra on. imageAfter the yoga I wandered around the expo eating all the free samples from Vega and Kind, visiting the mindfulness dome, having some fun in the photo-booth, and picking up my race pack.

After that I met up with some instagram friends from T.O. and then headed home to get my gear ready for race day.

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SEAWHEEZE…the actual running part!

On Saturday we woke up bright and early to get to the starting line since we knew it would get crazy busy with 10,000+ runners registered! We also wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to get to the front near the 1:40-1:45 pace beavers as we were pretty sure we would fall between the two groups. imageThe plan was for me to “pace” Sean, but since he wasn’t exactly sure what pace he was capable of, we decided to aim for a speed at the start that we knew he could sustain for the full distance and then increase the speed if possible towards the end. But the main goal was to have fun and enjoy it, and that’s exactly what we did!

We took in all the high fives, soaked up the crowds and danced our way through the cheer stations! If you’ve ever ran Seawheeze, than you know they do the cheer stations right🙌 They’re strategically placed at the top of each hill and just random enough to keep you distracted for the few seconds you run past (i.e. mermaids on the rocks, men in suits, party boats and more!).


The miles ticked by pretty quickly, we were keeping a steady pace and I could tell Sean was still feeling pretty good, and at around 9’ish miles we headed onto the seawall to finish off the second half of the race.

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Taken by a friend just after halfway👋

This section is always a tough spot since it gets a little quiet out there and you can’t see what’s around each bend…Saturday was no different. At around 11 miles we rounded the corner into the sun (which was pretty hot) and Sean said to me he was starting to feel faded, so we took our last gel and put our heads down until we hit the shade. After that, I saw his energy start to come back as we cut through Stanley Park and headed to the finish. The last stretch was along the Coal Harbour Seawall, where we pushed it to the finish and crossed the line sided by side (Sean wasn’t into the hand hold finish😜) just behind the 1:40 pacers at a time of 1:41:46…a 6 min PB for Sean🙌 So, so proud of him!!!

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After the race we caught up with friends, ate the runners brunch and drank as many Vega smoothies as we could get out hands on before heading home for some R&R before the Sunset Festival.

Post-wheeze sunset festival

The final part of the weekend was the Sunset Festival in Stanley Park. I headed there with Nat, Sean and a few other friends and we had an absolute blast!! We saw tones of familiar faces, drank the Lululemon “courageous blonde” beer and danced the night away to Chromeo. It was the perfect way to end the weekend and left me already crossing my fingers (and toes)that I make it into Seawheeze 2017🙏 image

The locals guide to Seawheeze Weekend!

It’s almost that time of year again…runners Christmas, the luon parade, the Lululemon fashion show….what ever you want to call it it’s SEAWHEEZE TIME!!!! My all time, hands down FAVOURITE race of the year, can you tell I’m excited?! This will be my 3rd time running the Seawheeze, which I feel so lucky to be doing since it sells out faster than any other race I know! I’m also super pumped because this year I’ll be running the race with my husband, who hasn’t run a half with me in 5 years.

But that’s enough about me, let’s talk about Vancouver! I was born and raised here so I’m kind of biased on how beautiful this city is; but come on…mountains, ocean, skyline views, beaches, the seawall…it’s pretty much like running in a post card! I think that’s one of the things I love most about Seawheeze, it brings so many people from out of town to Vancouver and gives us a chance to show off this beautiful place we get to call home. So whether it’s your first time in Vancity or your 100th, here are a few of my top picks for things to do, eat, shop and of course run!

Pre-Wheeze

Of course there are tonnes of events going on for Seawheeze on the Friday before the race (check out their website for the list of events); but if you get here a little early or you’re done down-dogging by noon, here’s a list of some pre-race activities around the city that won’t ruin your legs:

1. Training Club run at Sport Chek Robson- if you’re here on Wednesday and you want to shake out your travelling legs, come by, say hello and join my run crew at 5:30 at the Robson St. Store.image

2.  Cruise around the Seawall- rent a bike and cruise around the seawall…don’t worry it’s mostly flat and a pretty easy ride if you head around Stanley Park. It’s a great way to see the city and there are lots of great photo-ops along the way!riding-the-seawall-2012-5-960x640

3. Shopping- depending what you’re looking for, there are lots of different neighbourhoods to get your shopping fix in Vancouver:

  • Robson Street and Pacific Centre– this is where you’ll find you’re bigger brand name stores like Zara, JCrew, and Nordstrom as well as some local faves like Aritzia and of course Lululemon (if you didn’t blow the bank at the showcase store).
  • Gastown and Main Street- if you’re looking for more one of a kind items and local designers these are the 2 main areas you’ll find them.
  • West 4th- if you’re looking for a true Vancouver vibe with some local stores, the original Lululemon and some cute coffee shops mixed in West 4th in Kitsilano is the place for you!LULU4

4. Beachesweather permitting, we have lots of really great beaches in Vancouver; Jericho and Spanish Banks (these are my favourites if you have a car), Wreck beach (if you like to strip down it’s a nude beach), Kitsilano, English Bay and Second and Third Beaches around Stanley park.

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Spanish Banks

5. Local Outdoor Pools- if sand in your pants and oceans aren’t really your thing, we also have a couple of local pools for you to chill out by and go for a dip! Second Beach Pool by Stanley Park and Kits pool in Kitsilano (pic below).

Where to eat, drink and be merry…

Because why else do we run that far if not to enjoy all the food and drinks afterwards (and before…come on you’re on vacation!).

Food (the main event)

1. Vegetarian/Vegan- most restaurants offer veggie options, but my favourite’s are definitely over on Main street:

  • Meet on Mainthey have my favourite veggie burgers…so many options and so good!MEET
  • Acorncreative vegetarian food…their weekend brunch is my favourite
  • Nuba– lebanese and not strictly vegetarian, but their veggie dishes are my favourite! If you go, order the veggie platter to share, it’s delicious! They also have multiple locations in kits and gastown.NUBA

2. Sushi- being this lose to the ocean means we have great sushi! You can find a sushi restaurant on almost every corner, and every Vancouverite you ask will have a different favourite local spot…but I promise mine are the best!

  • Minami and Mikuthese 2 are a little more expensive than the average place in Vancouver, but they are hands down the best in the city!

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    the view from Miku
  • Tatsuthis is my favourite local spot on Commercial drive. I’ve probably eaten here over 50 times and never had a bad meal.

3. Italian- if you’re looking for a classic pre-race carb load and pasta is your go to:

  • Italian Kitchenthey have a great happy hour with all your go to classic dishes.
  • Ask for Luigithis place is amazing, but be prepared to wait as it always has a 1-2hr line up!LUIGI
  • Nookcozy Italian food with a couple of locations in Kits and the West End…the rigatoni is my favourite!

4. Just plain good- these are the ones that don’t fit in a specific box, but are definitely worth trying!

  • Chambarthis is one of my favourites…I also got married there so I’m a little biased! It’s one of those places where you read the menu and you’re not sure what it is, but when it comes its amazing! They also have one of the best brunches in the city.
  • Vancouver Urban Winerythis place is not only delicious it’s also in a beautiful space! Their food is best for sharing between a few people and I also really love their brunch.VUW
  • L’Abattoirif you’re looking for a little post-race romance and you want to treat yourself, this place is a great spot to do it! Great local food with a french twist and really tasty cocktails!

Coffee Shops, Bakeries and Breweries

These are a few of my favourite things…I have a soft spot for pastries, coffee and beer!

1. Coffee Shops- if you love your cup of joe and you want to try some local spots, I like:

  • Revolverthis is in Gastown, and they really know their coffee! I usually go for a plane drip here.
  • Matchstick– great coffee and really cute little baked goods and toast. A good place to sit and sip.MATCHSTICK
  • Prado Cafereally good lattes and Kumbucha on tap.

2. Bakeries- I only need to list one place here because it has my heart, Purebread….it is baked goods heaven!!! If you have a sweet tooth like me you will love it here, and seriously EVERYTHING is good!PUREBREAD

3. Breweries- we have tonnes of local micro-breweries in Vancouver and if you love beer I’d definitely recommend doing a little tour. There are quite a few within walking distance of each other which makes it easy to do on foot:

  • 33 Acres
    Brassneck
  • Strange fellows
  • Main Street Brewery….Just to name a few!

    BEER
    beer map

Still not done getting your sweat on…

If you’re still in need of a sweat after your 13.1miles of the Seawheeze, I would hit up some of the local trails for a different take view of the city…of course you knew I would say that! There are lots of great hikes just a short drive from the city offering amazing views (weather permitting) of the gulf islands and howe sound. I like to use the website Vancouver Trails to pick out the best spots, but some of my favourites near by are Eagles Bluff and St. Marks Summit on Cypress (pics below) and Dog Mountain on Seymour.

Hopefully these tips help you get around Vancouver with ease and makes you love my city as much as I do! If you’re from Vancouver, please go ahead and share some of your favourite local spots in the comments below! 

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!!!!!

SOB 50 miler Race Recap

It’s been just over a week now since Nat and I finished our first 50miler and I think it still hasn’t hit me yet that I physically ran that far! I just keep thinking 50miles/80km…I actually ran that…on my own two feet….WHAT?! I think it just keeps reminding me that you are so much stronger than you think you are! I never would have thought I could run that distance, even on the morning of the race I was having SO many doubts about how it would go. I knew it would take a lot for me to quit, but I had no idea what mental and physical challenges were going to come my way that day and I had no idea if my training had prepared me to handle them!

Ignorance is Bliss….

Nat and I set out on our 12hour drive to Ashland, OR in the early hours ofThursday morning. Our drive down was pretty seamless…we snap chatted, took a million pee breaks (actually 12, but whose counting) and talked about what we thought the race would be like. So far so good right? Well yes, but as I said, ignorance is bliss!

During our training we had been so concerned with the weather and heat on race day that we hadn’t really considered the starting elevation of Mount Ashland #oops It turns out (when we decided to google it after the race) that Mt. Ashland’s elevation at the ski lodge where the race started is 6,500ft/1,981m; which for us sea-level runners is REALLY noticeable! In our training we had climbed up to that elevation, but we hadn’t spent a lot of time at that altitude let alone started a run from that elevation! AND because of the elevation, it was actually 10 degrees cooler and the heat was negligible. Note to self: GOOGLE THAT S*$T PRE-RACE NOT POST!

On with the race…

Our race started bright and early at 6am, so we got there at around 5:30am to pick up our bibs and timing chips and then hung out in the port-o-potties line up (as you do) until it was go time. At 6am the gun went off and we set out through the Ski Lodge parking lot for the first mile before connecting to the Pacific Crest Trail. The first few miles were all about admiring the sunrise views of Mount Shasta, getting in front or behind the right-paced people on the single track trail, and shaking out the initial pre-race jitters. 68200824Mile 4 is when I first started to question the possibility of altitude. Normally it takes me about 2-3 miles to settle in and get comfortable, but by mile 4 I was still feeling slightly short of breath. I thought at first it was anxiety or nerves, but after about 10 more minutes of feeling this way I started to question the elevation. I didn’t want to say anything to Nat, but I was definitely feeling the effects of the thinner air! Eventually, by around mile 6 or 7 I started to relax and find my legs and my lungs and I settled into cruise control for the next 6 miles.

Embrace the suck!

I knew going into this that there were going to be some dark moments, and I’d mentally prepared for them to come. I had been saying before hand, “I just want to make it to 30-40km/20-25mi and feel good!” Well, that didn’t quite happen. At around mile 13-15 we started a slightly rolling section of the course with a gradual uphill climb. It wasn’t particularly steep, but it was enough that my hiking pace felt fairly equal to my uphill-running pace so I opted to hike it out. 19880678073_eda79b4947_cI was in the front for this section and was feeling like I was holding Nat back. After about 1/2 a mile I remember asking her if the pace was okay, and she was like “oh yeah, 100%”…which made me feel better that we were both riding the struggle bus together. At the end of this section we got to the 15 mile aid station at Jackson Gap where our drop bags were being kept. Here we changed our shoes, re-fueled our packs and got back on the trail, and as soon as we started up again I felt like a new women! I think thats when I realized, as quickly as the crappy moments come on, they can go away just as fast and I’m going to have to EMBRACE THE SUCK!

Miles 15-22 ticked by and I felt pretty good. This part of the course was filled with flat sections through the meadows and covered downhill sections through the trees. At mile 18’ish we crossed into California, which gave me a burst of energy that we’d made it across state lines. CA-ORBorderAt mile 22 we arrived at an aid station where they told us we had to run 3 miles out to get a key from the mad hatter (they were going for an Alice in Wonderland theme) and then come back to return it to them. I was feeling pumped as we left the aid station because I knew we were almost half-way, BUT as we headed out for our key, we quickly realized the next 3 miles were up, up up! So we put our heads down and power hiked our way to the half-way point. I think the only thing that kept me sane for this section was knowing we got to run the next 3 miles down! At the end of a steep climb we grabbed our key, took in the beautiful view and took off! We bombed it back down hill to the aid station smiling and feeling pretty awesome that we were on our way back.007

At mile 28 we delivered the key and started up a long uphill section for the next 6 miles. Pretty soon after we started climbing I started to feel nauseous. It started off as mild and got worse and worse as the climb went on. I got really quiet at this point and remember weighing my options of the pros and cons of throwing up, but all I kept thinking was that if I start vomiting it was game over for me. This for me was the darkest point of the entire race and all that I focused on was trying to stay with Nat as she was leading us through this section. At mile 35 we hit the aid station at Jacksons Gap again, re-fueled our packs, dumped ice on our heads and re-grouped. I chugged some Nuun that I had in my drop bag and I think it saved me! When we headed back out again my nausea was gone and I felt ready to tackle the last 15 miles…like I said embrace the suck!IMG_5941

The end is near!

The last 10 miles of the course for me was a mix physically, mentally and emotionally. At that point everything was tired, I was sick of eating all the fuel I’d packed and all I wanted to do was lie down; but surprisingly I still felt pretty strong mentally. As much as I just wanted to be done, I knew we were going to finish and I felt so incredibly proud of us and how we had done so far! All I can describe it as is that I was at total peace with the fact that I would finish feeling that I had gave it my all and ran a strong race. I really wasn’t too concerned with how much longer I had out on the course at that point. I had no doubt that I could do it at that point, which with so much self-doubt leading up to it was a very empowering feeling.

In the last 1/4 mile climb to the parking lot off of the PCT trail, Nat took off up the hill looking SO strong. I didn’t feel like I could keep up with her so I power hiked up trying to keep her in my view and cheering for her to keep going, but when she got to the top she turned back and waited for me. When I got there she told me she wouldn’t cross the line without me and I immediately I started to tear up. I sucked back the pre-finish line tears and we took off sprinting through the parking lot fuelled by the cheering crowd and the last bit of energy we had left. With 100m to go we grabbed each others hand and crossed the finish line together in 9:59:10, placing 4th and 5th female overall and 1st and 2nd in our age group, which was totally unexpected!IMG_5953

Find your strong!

Now that i’s all done and dusted, I still can’t believe we did it! Some people have asked me if I’m done running that far, if I’ll do it again or if I’ll go further; and to be honest I have no idea…never say never right?! But if that’s the furthest I ever run and I never run it again, I couldn’t be more happy with how it went and that I got to experience the whole thing with Nat. I know now more than ever that I can do anything I put my mind to and that I am mentally, physically and emotionally stronger than I ever imagined I was!