Monday, September 10, 2012

Whistler GranFondo and my summer

My first summer in Edmonton is coming to an end. Unfortunately I spent most of it working and studying and wasn't able to enjoy riding my bike, running, racing, and attending festivals as much I would have liked, but I'm sure the hard work will pay off.. one day.

I wrote the MCAT in mid-August and since then have been really enjoying getting fit again on my bike and getting back into running. Last weekend I joined 5 friends for some camping in Jasper and I rode a total of 11 hours (285km) over 3 days. This was by far the biggest trianing block of my summer. It took me the entire week to recover, but I think it was worth the fitness boost for yesterday's Whistler GranFondo, and definitely worth the mental break from work, exams and medical school applications!!

Riding out of Jasper to climb up to the hotsprings.

Standing at the base of Marmot.
The GranFondo, for the second year in a row, turned into the best day of my summer. Nothing beats standing on Georgia street downtown Vancouver at 6:30AM with 7000 fellow cyclists about to ride one of the most scenic highways in the world from Vancouver to Whistler. I rode fairly conservative because after 10 weeks of studying and only 3 weeks of consistent cycling in my legs, I didn't trust where my fitness was at. I ended up pacing myself pretty perfectly because I was able to keep going strong right into the finish (last year I blew up with 40km still to go), and with 8km to go I tried to stand on a climb and my legs almost gave out from underneath me.. good thing I was almost done! The ride included 1700 meters of climbing and 1000 meters of descent, for a total elevation gain of 700 meters. I averaged 31.5km/hr, not too bad all things considered. Hopefully one year soon I'll be confidently fit going into this ride and I can really challenge myself to go faster.  My mom also had a really great ride coming in at 4 hours, 43 minutes, successfully not letting me beat her by more than an hour (last year I beat her by 1 hour 40 seconds)!! I'm sure I'll never hear the end of it, but that's okay she deserves it!

Mom and I at the finish.

At the finish I had the pleasure of handing out free Vega samples to promote the products and got some fun pictures.

These two were a little too excited :)
The rest of the day was amazing as expected. I hung out in the beer tent with 3 of my best friends Julia, Steve and Meghan, drinking beer obviously, and then hung out at the lake for the first time this summer before hitting up a patio in the village. It was an amazing day all around and I'm so lucky to call such an amazing place home!!

Rainbow Lake post Fondo.

Meghan and I on Citta's patio.

Some other photos from my summer:

With my mom in Sedona, Arizona

With Patricia Walsh at the 2012 Paratriathlon Pan Am Championships in Edmonton.

Monday, June 25, 2012

study, eat, work, eat, study, eat, run, sleep, repeat..

My life is a little bit busy right now, but that's the way I like it. I seem to function better and am happier when I barely have a moment to sit down. Maybe it's a sign I should take up meditation or reading or take a stroll on a beach and zen out a little bit, but then again that's what running does for me so at least I'm killing two birds with one stone (fitness and mental break/relaxation). Honestly, one of my favorite things is a long run listening to Rise Against on a nice sunny day.

Last weekend I ran a 15km trail/road race here in Edmonton. It was such a great morning, and the event was so much fun. It was put on by Running Room and the race organizers were SO nice, and organized. I didn't feel that I ran that well because I literally only had time for 2 runs all week (totaling 90 minutes), but I still managed to win by 10 minutes! The most unexpected reward was winning a free haircut and 90 minute acupuncture and massage! AWESOME!!

I have for the most part had to abandon swimming and biking for the summer to give myself enough time to study for the MCAT, which I will be re-writing in August. Yesterday I did get out for a 4 hour ride with a friend though, and surprisingly felt great the whole time. That was a nice feeling, because I only have time to ride once a week and I dearly miss my bike the other 6 days :(

This weekend I'll be racing the Canada Day 15km that starts downtown and loops around Hawrelak Park. I'm hoping to have the Vega reps come down to the finish as well so we can promote their amazing products among the running community in Edmonton.

My new routine involves going to the Saturday morning market every week and picking up fresh veggies and local bison. I'm making an effort to go back to the "primal" diet I love. My homemade granola, Vega smoothies and fresh local veg make it easy! I have to say Edmonton's growing on me, which is a good thing since I'll be sticking around for another year or more! woohoo!!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Triathletes & Swimmers - do not read unless you need another reason to miss swim practice..

Friday, April 20, 2012

2 races, 4 days..

On Sunday I ran a local 10-mile road race. Once again (I have to break this pattern) I signed up the weekend before, and did not do specific workouts leading into the race. I knew I was fit though, so I was hoping I could do a repeat of the First Half half marathon and hold a strong tempo pace throughout. My goal was to run consistent from start to finish, to hold my form, and to not go out too hard. Despite needing to eat my gel 10 minutes into the race, I succeeded. I tried the new Vega orange zest gel for the first time (I know your not supposed to try things for the first time in a race, but this was not exactly life or death). I have to say it’s the first time I’ve enjoyed a gel that isn’t chocolate. There were 4 girls jostling for position the whole race, and I yo-yoed between 2nd and 4th, and in the end finished in 3rd.  It’s funny - I’ve just been doing long easy runs all winter as well as strength work, and for the first time in my life I can push myself for 16+ km without breaking down physically or hitting the wall. I’m really enjoying my new ability to keep going and the strength I have.

After I finished I was on “mission recovery”. I knew I wanted to race a local cross-country race on Wednesday (my birthday). The only issue: on Monday my calves felt like rocks and I could barely walk. I try to do most of my running on trails, so to go out and run 10 miles hard on asphalt does not feel good the day after. I epsom salted like crazy though used copious amounts of muscle cream and was “okay” by Wednesday afternoon. Actually 90 minutes before the race I was more concerned about the massive vegan chocolate cupcake I had devoured coming back up, rather than the state of my legs. The girl who won the 10-miler was also racing XC so I just stuck on her shoulder right from the gun. I remember thinking at 2.5km (out of 4.5), “okay I can do this, only 2km to go,” only to come out of a trail and see that I was at the bottom of some massively steep and long dirt hill. I swore out loud (to the amusement of the guy next to me) and barely made it up the hill without walking (okay I walked a little bit :S). I finished the race in 2nd and was then very happy to head to Brewsters brew pub with some good friends for a raspberry ale and a burger with yam fries! It turned out to be a great birthday. Plus the Canucks won =)

The next races I have planned are 3 more local cross country races the next three Wednesday evenings, and then I plan to run (and maybe train better for) a half marathon on June 3rd!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Blog Resurrection

  Summer is coming (there have been signs!) and I’ve been surprising myself recently with my enthusiasm to swim, bike and run. For the first time in 18 months I have been enthusiastic to do workouts beyond what is required for healthy fitness. I never lost my desire to be fit; I guess I just lost my desire to “train”. That break from competitive sport took me places that have potentially shaped my future. I went to South Africa for 6 weeks and volunteered at a charity called Izulu Orphan Projects. I met amazing people during my time in South Africa, and surprisingly came home with a nutritional epidemiology research position in an Aboriginal and global health research group at the University of Alberta. The job has given me amazing opportunities to grow. I currently have one publication in press at the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, and recently traveled to the Arctic and Alaska!

In February of this year I ran my first two half marathons, two weeks apart. I didn’t exactly train properly for either, and the first one (the first half half in Vancouver) I signed up for the day before. My focus that weekend was on my medical school interview at UBC, but I still surprised myself with a comfortable 1.27 half-marathon time.

I feel very privileged to have been asked by Vega to continue on as an ambassador for 2012. I have been using their nutritional products (bars and sports drinks and protein powders) for the past 4-5 years, for sport performance, recovery, and healthy day-to-day snacks. Vega just came out with a new line of Vega Sport products. I recently received a sample box that included one of each of the new Sport products, and it has got me really excited. The new Sport products taste better than ever, and include products for pre-, during, and post-workout preparation, performance, and recovery. With the number of products that Vega has to offer, it can be overwhelming trying to understand the difference between them all, but I urge you to check out their newly designed website that does an amazing job at breaking down the products so they are easy to understand. I honestly am more excited than ever to be an ambassador for Vega because they are evolving and fine tuning and always striving to improve, which I believe is an essential component of success. I believe in the quality of the Vega products and they TASTE GOOD (yes Sharpe they do!)

I have a series of run races planned for the spring/summer of 2012 and I hope to keep updating my blog with race reports and stories of my adventures. Next weekend I am running the St. Albert 10 Miler, and then plan to run the Frank McNamara Wednesday evening cross-country run series that goes til mid-May. I have 3 half marathons on the radar for each June, July and August, and have REGISTERED for the Great White North half ironman on July 1st!!

Good to all those Canadians racing in Sydney next weekend!

Happy Easter =)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New Job!!

MOVING TO EDMONTON! Yes, that's right.. -40 degree winters here I come! Oh crap.. not sure what I've got myself in to haha :)  But aside from the cold winters, I am really excited about joining a research team at the University of Alberta in the field of Nutritional Epidemiology.   While volunteering in Africa I did 2 weeks research with two Nutritional Epidemiologists from Edmonton (total coincidence). Gita and Nonsi were hired as part of a diet study to do a dietary analysis in the rural Zulu communities surrounding the charity I was volunteering for.  Gita, my new boss, is an Endowed Chair in Aboriginal Health, and Professor of Aboriginal and Global Health Research at the University of Alberta, Department of Medicine.  Their main focus is studying and analyzing the diets in aboriginal communities (they have done a lot of work with the Inuit in Alaska and the Arctic) and developing countries, and connecting them to chronic disease prevalence.  I am very interested and passionate about both nutrition and health care, so to get this job offer was a dream come true! I will be moving/starting work in mid-September. 
Gita in South Africa
Gita, Nonsi and I on a hippo cruise.
 So what am I doing in the mean time?

Well.. today I woke up after 10.5 hours sleep and moved to the couch to watch some FOOD channel.  My 3 weeks summer holiday has officially begun.

Last Saturday I finished the biochem course I was taking at UBC.  Thank goodness it's over.. I swear it was making me stupider.  Some days after studying all day I would say the dumbest things.. and I started giggling a lot at things that weren't funny (kinda like I used to do everyday).  I think it must be a side-effect of doing a 6-credit (full-year) course in 6 weeks.

 I spent my first day of summer at Brohm Lake in Squamish with some friends... beer and burger and bbq equipped! I'll be sticking around BC until after the Gran Fondo on September 10th.  The Gran Fondo is a 130km road ride from Vancouver to Whistler.  2 weeks "crash training" started on Monday... so far so good! 

Oh and I'm in Victoria for 5 days.. so if you'd like to go for coffee, or a bike ride, or a run, or a beer?  I have copious amounts of free time and would probably love to see you... shoot me an email!