Welcome back!

14 Jul

Hi all!

I know it’s been almost a year but I’m back! I took 6 months off of running after the Athens Marathon (I know I didn’t record that experience here, but I’m sure it will be the topic of a future post).

My winter consisted of a lot of gym time. I also borrowed a co-workers copy of P90X. There were a lot of mornings where getting out of bed was painful!

I slowly started running again about 2-3 months ago with a running partner. We are close to the same fitness level, but it’s ultimately great to get out of the house for some girl chat.

Mark has been training non-stop for a very busy race season. Since April he has raced once every month. I can’t tell you how proud I am of his accomplishments and seeing his hard work pay off. He has finished in the top ten at every race. This past weekend we were in Toronto for the Toronto Triathlon Festival. This was his A race for the season. I was so excited and he was doing so well – he was second out of the water! My highlight of the morning was when Simon Whitfield ran by me and made time for a quick photo!

simon and amanda(Please excuse the photo quality. As you can see, it was raining and a little chilly – my photographer was shivering.)

The summer will roll along as it normally does – a lot of races, traveling, training and working. Unfortunately, our summers very seldom involve relaxing. While out for ice cream with friends last night, I decided to run an 18km trail run and agreed to do the swim portion of a relay triathlon in Orillia the next day. Crazy or what?

Now I need to start training for my first trail run. This week I am going to start upping my miles and run in the trails at least twice to get my body used to dodging tree roots.


Epic Tour – A not so Epic Fail

11 Sep

I’m  back and I have good news regarding the Epic Tour of Halton. I had to transfer from the 140k tour to the 80km ride because of lack of training – I know, shame on me! But I’m glad I swallowed my pride and opted for the shorter distance. I had a great time despite waiting in the cold at the start. I was literally shivering until about 5km into the ride. 

Making my way to the start line

Making my way to the start line

The whole day, ride included, was really well organize. For my first tour, it could not have gone smoother. There was plenty of parking, coffee at the start line, well marked course directions and aid stations stocked full of food. After the ride, the riders were able to enjoy free food and craft beer. I had a green apple beer that was real tasty. 

Food and beer after the ride

Food and beer after the ride

The marathon training continues. I did not do a long run this week because of the ride but the week before I ran 25km. It was a good run but I started to chaff under one arm around half way. It was the worst chaff I’ve had in a long time. 

Mark and I have started running together on some mornings to get used to each other’s pace.  Thankfully Mark was with me on Tuesday morning when I had to make a pit stop at a port-a-potty. It was still dark out when nature called. We came across a port-a-potty but, of course, there are no lights in them so Mark had to hold the door open a little while I unfortunately had to use the facilities. True love, ain’t it? 

Our region is going through, what I hope, is our last heat wave. Thankfully it looks like it’s only last two days but the mercury has been hovering over 40C (or 104F). I’ve been trying to drink as much water as possible before and after our runs and running before the sun has risen.

Do you have any tips on staying cool when running in the heat? When it’s really hot, do you prefer to run on a treadmill to avoid the sun and humidity completely?


Marathon Training Week 6 Rewind

28 Aug
This week was a breeze! Not to say that I was slacking off. I just had an easy week in terms of mileage. My track work out was only 6 laps, I didn’t do any hills and my long run was 12km.
Track of pain, but beautiful as the sun rises.

Track of pain, but beautiful as the sun rises.

I finished my long work out and wasn’t totally drained. I did, however, become dehydrated later that day for various reasons. When I came home, I immediately began making breakfast for a house full of boys (Mark’s boys’ weekend) so I was not able to put some fuel back into my body. I also went out shopping without bringing a water bottle or any snacks. Lastly, because Mark and the boys were spending the day in Toronto I did not have to cook so I spent my day sitting on the couch watching Glee and eating pretzels. Salt city! Needless to say around supper time I had a bad headache and my thirst was screaming for water.

I think we all have days like when we forget about nutrition. I just forgot about it on a fairly important day. Although I don’t think I’ll be forgetting to stay hydrated after this week’s long run. A 24km run in humidity – I might have to stop to refill my water bottles. It’s been really sticky and humid here all week. I’m hoping that dies down by Sunday.

But back to nutrition because it’s so important and sometimes we don’t pay enough attention to it. This week I’ve decided to spend more time and attention to the food I eat. I’ve noticed since the half-Ironman (and even a bit before) that I was letting myself eat what I wanted when I wanted. My excuse was: “Well, I’m doing a half-Ironman, how much can 2 brownies hurt?” Then it went on to: “Pff I did a half-Ironman I can eat those 2 brownies!” So begins the sneaky food spiral. Before you know it, your jeans don’t button up anymore! I kept telling myself it was ok to eat whatever goodies were left in the lunch room at work. But it’s not ok – not everyday, that is. Everything in moderation.

For fall and especially for the Athens Marathon I want to be top of my game. Although I’m hoping for a personal best, and I realize it may not happen (due to jet lag, terrain, hills, etc) I want to cross that finish line knowing that I did everything in my power to run the best race I could.

I just read an article on Runner’sWorld website on how to read food labels. Mark and I very seldom buy packaged food but when we do I like to glance over the label. I have to admit that sometimes the labels don’t make any sense. Part of that stems from the fact that I don’t know how much fat, sodium, carbs I need. I just [try] to eat sensibly and hope I’m doing it right. I’ll be keeping track of my nutrition on MyFitnessPal so you can take a look at my progress. Please friend me (HealthyHappyLife17) if you are also tracking your nutrition on MyFitnessPal.

Yup, that’s about right!

Cheesy Spinach Dip Biscuits

26 Aug

Check out these bad boys.

Spinach Dip Biscuit

These babies are A-MA-ZING and super easy to make. Here’s the how-to:


1 package of Pillsbury biscuit dough
6 tbsp of cream cheese (I used light cream cheese)
2 cups of chopped spinach 1 garlic clove
1 tsp of sea salt
1/2 tsp chili pepper
1/2 cup of mozzarella

Directions (preheat at 350F)

– Fry spinach and garlic in olive oil. Meanwhile, spray a muffin tin with cooking spray. Separate the biscuits, flatten and put at the bottom of the muffin tin.
– When spinach is wilted, mix all the ingredients (except the mozzarella) in a bowl. Spoon about 1 tbsp of mixture on the flattened biscuit.
– Top each biscuit with mozzarella and bake for 15 minutes.
– Makes 10 biscuits

Voila! These biscuits are so tasty and have an awesome hint of salt and chili. It’s a nice side or appetizer for a small crowd.

I found this funny video on the Runner’s World website on runners’ hand signals between motorists.

For the most part I have a good relationship with motorists because I don’t assume they see me. But when they do see me and they are clearly in the wrong it’s a good thing I’m normally wearing sunglasses and they cannot see my evil stare.

Hand Signals

Hand Signals

I still haven’t figured out how to insert a video so you’ll have to click on “Hand signals” to view the video.

Have you had to use hand signals with motorists? Have you been vocal with motorists? I would sometimes like to be vocal with some motorists but you never know who can be behind the wheel. I live in a small-ish town and I don’t want to risk making a bad impression. Besides motorists, do you wave to other runners/cyclists? Or are you too much in the zone to notice others on the sidewalk?

Marathon Training Week 5 Rewind: Uphill Battle

19 Aug

Wow! My 20km run kicked my butt! Long straight stretches in the sun with minimal shade – I was really beat when I finished.  Although I was able to control the choice of the course, I purposefully made it hard to try to mimic Athens as much as possible. It was a tough run and it really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I was so focused at one point that I almost missed this guy starring right at me:
I’m sorry this photo is blurry. I was standing across the street when I snapped it. And, of course, he turned his head right as the flash went off. Oh well… The look in his face was pretty clear: “Silly human.”

But back to running. This week I added a hill repeat to my Thursday morning hill repeats.  Honestly, they are friggin hard! Every time I’m running up that hill I feel like my heart is going to explode out of my chest. I was just reading an article on uphill running and the author’s advise: Keep your breathing under control. Yeah, easier said than done!  I’ve tried shortening and quickening my arm swing motion and taking shorter strides. I even stay focused to maintain good running form but it’s still not any easier.

Do you have any uphill running advice?

I know I haven’t been talking about the Gran Fondo that I’m doing in September. Truth is, I haven’t been riding my bike as often as I should. I did a short 30km bike ride this morning just to get back into it. I practiced my uphills and concentrated on making nice, round circles with my feet while pedaling. When I got home after my ride, I had received this in the mail:

Epic TourAs far as cycling jerseys go this one is pretty comfortable and I must say, it was actually pretty neat receiving my race kit in the mail as opposed to picking it up the day before the race. What service! Now this ride is real. I should really get on that saddle and add some miles to my Giant.

Control the Course

17 Aug
I’m the first to admit it: I am a bit of a control freak. I don’t hide the fact that I like things in order and to go according to the plan that I, have more often than not, made.  I know, not cool. But I think I’ve made big improvements on my controlling habits – ask Mark.

But in that need to control also comes the need to control a race course as much as possible. I need to know every turn, where every aid station will be located, and the elevations and undulations. I know some people just show up race day and come what may will race whatever route is before them. I so could not do that. Whenever I can, I drive the route the day before a race.

This is why I’ve scanned the interwebs for bloggers passed who have run the Athens Marathon. I’ve read their race reports and review of the course. The race reports that I’ve read have strengthened what I already knew. From kilometre 17 to 32 the race is all uphill and it’s not fun. One blogger gave particularly good advice by saying to be conservative the first 10km despite the ideal running course conditions (flat). She said that this allowed her legs to stay somewhat fresh during the climbs and breeze through the final 10km into the finish chute.

I know these bloggers are just repeating what the website has in its course description but I don’t like surprises. I was looking for a little window to confirm the difficulty of the course. It’s also nice to have a runner’s perspective and tips instead of the race organizers’ description of the course.

In light of the realization of the difficulty of the course (not that I didn’t know it was going to be hard), this week’s 21km long run will be along a route with lots of hills.  In my attempt to control this course I’ve mapped it out with the elevation details.


The first part of this route climbs quite a bit but there’s a nice break by the middle with just a bit of a climb by the end. I know those small hills will seem like mountains by that point though.   I know this route very well.  I drive half of it to get to work every day so nothing will be a surprise.  I think a new beer will be in order after I finish that run tomorrow.

Do you prefer to go into a race blind or preview the course before the start? Do you like to prep yourself mentally with the course map?

Marathon Training Week 4 Rewind

14 Aug

I love baking. Like, I REALLY love baking. I haven’t been baking lately because 1) it’s expensive; 2) I have no self control with baked goods in the house. But Mark is having a boys’ weekend in a few weeks so I decided to bake a few things for them to eat. I can’t have them eating cookies if they haven’t been tested, can I? What kind of girlfriend would I be?

Tonight I made Whiskey Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.

CookiesSorry about the quality of this photo. But trust me, this cookies are A-MA-ZING!

Now enough about cookies and onto running. Mark and I had a weekend up north for a wedding anniversary so I had a new 17km route planned. The small town where we were staying was so small that I had to run to the next town over to make the full run.

Instead of staying in a hotel, Mark and I stayed at my aunt’s house. When I woke up Saturday mentally preparing myself for that run but I just couldn’t will myself to finish the whole 17km. My cousin is just too cute and I didn’t want to stay away for long. I think I ran 5km… wah wah…

Having Mondays off is so awesome. It has saved me so many times before. That 17km route was covered and a new audiobook is on the iPod. I felt so good and I’m glad I didn’t sacrifice family time for a run.

My track workouts have been steadily climbing in distance and staying around 2:03min per 400 metre. I think by next week I’m going to have to kick it up and run a little faster.

14 Sideroad Hill
I’ve also added a new workout specifically for the Athens Marathon. It is going to be a mostly up-hill race so I should obviously start doing some uphill running. Thankfully the escarpment is right outside my door. So I started with two 500m uphill runs. My heart felt like it was going to explode! But worse than running uphill was the downhill. I don’t know the grade of the hill but it’s a pretty steep hill. The next day my shins were in quite a bit of pain; not to be confused with sore. I think I’m going to try just walking down the hill this week when I up the uphill runs to four. I’ll have to keep you updated on the hill runs.

Have you incorporated new workouts or training runs to complete a race? Or are you happy to just eat oatmeal cookies?

sneaking cookies