Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Countdown to 40

As I write this my 40th birthday is 701 days away. That works out to a nice round 100 weeks. I am totally fine with this impending milestone, don’t get me wrong. I’m not afraid of a little number like 40. On the contrary, I think most of us get better as we age, and I want to celebrate this milestone with gusto! I think a big birthday can be something to look forward to (even if you’re over 25), especially if you set out to take on a big challenge to mark the occasion. Which brings me to the point of this post….I need an ambitious goal to work to work toward for the next 100 weeks!

I can hear the voices of my friends and family now…..and let me respond to their inevitable comments before I go on…No…I can’t be satisfied with a relaxing, self-indulgent trip to the Caribbean or Hawaii. How boring is that?? I’d rather work toward something really daunting and then celebrate the triumph and bask in the glory (possibly while enjoying a relaxing, self-indulgent trip to the Caribbean or Hawaii)…..

I’ve run 3 marathons so far along with a bunch of Halfs, 10Ks, and 5Ks, and nothing…NOTHING compares to the sheer thrill of running the first marathon in Amsterdam in 2007. A lot of the excitement came from uncertainty that I could even finish the thing, let alone the exhilaration of travelling to another country and lining up to start the event in the Olympic Stadium along with thousands of screaming runners.

I’ve found it’s pretty much impossible to recreate that buzz. Once you know you can do something it loses a lot of its appeal. I’ve tried to keep things interesting by constantly trying to improve my performance, but it’s just not the same. I can’t seem to replicate that sensation I had starting that first marathon.

So like any junkie in seek of a new high, I am on a mission to find a big challenge for 2013.

The first thing that came to mind when I started brainstorming was to train for an Ultra-Marathon. For those of you who don’t follow running that much, an Ultra is any distance over the ‘official’ Marathon distance of 26.2 miles (42.2 km). Some common Ultra distances are 50K, 50 miles, 100K, and 100 miles. On the pros side, I know I like running and I wouldn’t have to buy a lot of extra gear (other than a lot more pairs of shoes). There are also lots of events locally, so I wouldn’t necessarily have to travel across the world (unless I wanted to). On the CONS, side, is the time commitment. Training for a 50 mile race, for example, would very likely involve at least 5 months of focused training for 8-10 hours a week (not to mention all of the massage therapy I’d need!). There would probably be a lot more wear and tear and I’m sure I’d end up with more aches and pains in the usual areas (knees, feet, hips). Would I get bored during an event that involved doing one thing for 12-15 hours straight?? Dunno.

Another idea I had was the Ironman. I’ve already done a Sprint Triathlon (about a hundred years ago) so I have SOME experience biking and swimming. The good thing about doing an Ironman is that I’d at least have some variety in my schedule. I wouldn’t have to be on my feet as much as if I trained for an Ultra, and from an overall fitness point of view, it would be good to round out the lower-body focused running & biking with the more upper-body focused swimming. On the negative side…I would have to spend quite a bit of money buying gear (bike & accessories, bike rack, wetsuit, etc). I also know that it would be a lot harder to coordinate my schedule around all of those different workouts (sometimes 2 or 3 a day). And swimming and biking are SO much more complicated in my mind than running. Living in downtown Vancouver, I’d probably have to drive somewhere with my bike in order to get some open road. Going to the pool is so annoying too, all that changing and drying off. Super complicated.

I am still looking for more ideas, but right now an Ironman or Ultra-Marathon are the front-runners for the big 4-0. I am super interested in hearing more ideas or comments from you! What do you think??

Monday, February 21, 2011

Healthy Recipe: Nicole's Winter Kale

Before I launch into the recipe I thought I'd give you a list of some of the health benefits of Kale I found online:

1. Lots of Vitamin A:  Very important for vision & the immune system
2. Lots of Vitamin C:  Also very important for immune system, cancer & other diseases prevention
3. Lots of Flavonoids:  Disease prevention
4. Lots of Glucosinolates:  Cancer prevention
5. Lots of Vitamin K:  Blood clotting, cancer & heart disease prevention, bone health
6. Lots of Manganese:  Bone building
7. Lots of Apha-Linolenic Acid:  Reducing inflammation, disease prevention (esp. heart disease)
8. Lots of Fibre: Cancer prevention, improved heart health

I am taking GREAT liberties with the name of this recipe because I cannot remember from whence it came or the proper name of it.  I know I found it on the internet.  If you can enlighten me please leave a comment here and I will certainly give proper credit to the originator of what will temporarily be known as "Nicole's Winter Kale".

Nicole's Winter Kale
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped into little pieces
4 or more cloves garlic (depending on how much you like garlic)
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
8 tsp white sugar (feel free to substitute with honey or brown sugar)
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
3 cups chicken broth or veggie broth is fine too
2 bunches of stemmed, rinsed, & torn Kale (=about 10 cups)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (you can substitute with any dried fruit really)
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds

1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat
2. Stir in onion and garlic.  Cook & stir until onion turns transclucent (approx. 5 min)

3. Stir in mustard, sugar, vinegar, & chicken broth & bring to a boil.
4. Stir in Kale, cover & cook 5 minutes or so.
5. Stir in cranberries & keep on boiling, uncovered, until liquid has reduced by half & cranberries have softened (about 15 min).
6. Season to taste
7. Sprinkle with sliced almonds & serve.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My New Running Partner

Meet Raisin. We adopted her on April 14, 2010. Yes, I have been VERY neglectful of this blog, but I digress…

Raisin was found wandering in Whistler and turned in to the WAG (Whistler Animals Galore), which is the local shelter. Due to her persistent licking of any face that was in range she was quickly dubbed “Kisses”. With no tags or chips and nobody claiming her, Kisses became available for adoption….
One Friday afternoon, Ian and I stopped by the WAG on our weekly drive from Vancouver to Pemberton to see if there were any dogs that needed to be walked. The staff brought us back to meet the new pooch and off we went.

Ian was IN LOVE with ‘Kisses’ from the first second they met. She was so lovable and sweet and friendly with everyone .  I quickly fell for her too, and we decided to take her home for a trial run. It had been over a year since we had to put our beloved Rottweiler, Freddie, down, and we were starting to think seriously about a new dog.

Raisin is mostly Husky, with some Pomeranian, Akita, and Basenji mixed in (according to her DNA test). This makes her IDEAL for distance running. Here’s a breakdown of how each of her contributing breed genes make her born to run:

Siberian Husky:
According to Wikipedia:
The dog of choice for the modern Iditarod is a mixed-breed husky bred for speed, tough feet, endurance, good attitude, and most importantly the desire to run. The long distance runners are typically 45-55lbs (which happens to be Raisin’s size!)….

This race is approximately 1112 miles long, and takes over 3 weeks to complete. The VO2 max (aerobic capacity) of a typical Iditarod dog is about three times that of a human Olympic marathon runner!

One of the more athletic of the toy breeds, the Pomeranian was bred from larger Arctic Spitz breeds.

Used to hunt big game in ancient Japan, they move with cat-like grace.

One of the oldest breeds of dog, which were bred to assist in the hunt in Africa.

After a week in Pemberton and Vancouver, we decided to make it official, and we changed her name to Raisin.

What a life this girl has! Every morning I drop her off across the street from our loft to spend the day at VIA Architecture with my good friend, Mel. She has been the ‘official’ office dog for about 6 months now. Ashley the Dog Walker picks her up at work and takes her to the dog park on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Almost every weekend we go to our house in Pemberton (20 minutes north of Whistler) where she is free to frolic off leash in the deep snow and play with lots of other dogs.

Raisin LOVES to run with us. She is pretty good at staying on one side and keeping pace, although she does tend to pull a little at the beginning. I find that I run a little faster when she’s with me and the time flies by quicker than when I’m alone. We usually run at night, and she is always outfitted with a headlamp around her neck and one or two flashing lights for extra safety.

I never thought running with a dog would be so much fun, and having a dog that I could run with was never a high priority. But now that I have my new little Buddy, I find it hard not to run without her!

The longest run I’ve taken Raisin on was 8 miles, which she completed with ease. We usually stop for sips out of puddles (her not me), and so far she has never shown any desire to stop or slow down. I’m curious to see what she’s capable of with some training….

If you're interested in keeping track of Raisin's antics, you can follow her on Twitter at: