A Day At The Pool

Holy cats! Mother Nature sure woke up on the wrong side of the bed last week now didn’t she?

As I write this, Hurricane Sandy is pretty much past us, and the worst seems to be over. We didn’t get much of it where I am, but I know that the East Coast is really getting pounded right now. My thoughts are with all of you.

The past week has been a total Frankenstorm of activity for me too; I’ve been super busy at the gym with it being Release Week (Translation: The quarterly launch of new music and new choreography in all Les Mills International Programs around the world)!

Truth be told, I’ve totally over-trained my body this week and haven’t been treating it very well nutritionally either. I am so grateful that it keeps performing for me in spite of this. Times like this make me feel really guilty for hating on my body so much all the time.

In any case, if you’ve been following along with my Training Logs, you may notice that this week the only “triathlon” workout I have scheduled is for Friday, where I’ve planned to do my regular swim and a run. I made the executive decision that with it being Release Week, and the first week of new music at the gym, I needed to lay off the extra workouts and just get through to my next rest day (14 days from my last rest day…don’t judge me).

A really important part of this whole venture for me is finding a way for triathlon training to fit comfortably into my life. I’m sick of pitting new endurance challenges against my classes and watching them lose.

Every new physical challenge is going to lose to my classes. Every time. No exceptions.

So doesn’t it make more sense to find a way for the two to co-exist peacefully?

My money is on the cat.

I thought so too.

Over the next year there will definitely be points where triathlon workouts just have to give way to classes for one reason or another. I think I just need to have confidence that an hour spent in the studio isn’t a “wasted” hour, and that everything I do in there still contributes to the ultimate goal.

I thought today because I don’t have an “official” post topic, I would share some of my (more amusing) experiences at my community pool!

I’ve started swimming on my lunch hours at work, it’s really the best time for me to do it because I don’t have to get up early, it gets me out of the office for a bit and it doesn’t impede my evening class schedule. Perfect!

The only problem is that the community pool right next to my office seems to be a bit “cliquey”.

And by “a bit” I mean “a lot”.

I thought the general rule of thumb was that as you get older; you get more respectful, more kind, more accepting….

So what the heck happened to these people that I swim with?!!?

My mom came with me for my very first lunch time swim because she had the day off work herself. Right away we noticed that the only people there other than us were about 15 older men, and one or two older women that all seemed to know each other very well. They even seemed to know the lifeguards very well!

I walked in (like a bit of an idiot) in my flowery Old Navy bathing suit and got started on my swim and we left pretty much without incident.

Sorry, this picture just makes me laugh every time.

Well, if I’m being totally honest, this crabby, bitter old lifeguard said “Bye now! Thank you for coming!” to my mom on the way out and only gave me a disdainful look as I walked by. But that’s neither here nor there.

The second week was more interesting. I was flying solo, and the pool was jam packed. I was swimming into people right left and centre in the medium speed lane, touching old people in places that I should really never be touching them, and had people all over me too.

As Neil reminded me this weekend, that will be good practice for the Ironman!

Anyways, because I was all over people in the medium speed lane and the fast speed lane was basically empty except for 2 swimmers, I decided to hop on over and give it a whirl over there.

You would have thought that I had just bludgeoned someone to death in front of the lifeguard. After only 2 lengths, this nasty woman (the same one that didn’t acknowledge me the first week, hereafter referred to as “Nasty Lifegurd” or “NL” for short) blew her whistle (yes, blew her whistle) at me, and told me to get back in the medium lane.

So into the gong show I went again, and proceeded to touch old people inappropriately for the rest of my swim.

On the way out of the water, I stopped to grab my towel and dry off. As I was crouching down to put my goggles in my bag, I suddenly hear one of the men from the pool talking to NL, about me. He says “Thanks for policing the lanes. I hate when people do that.” You could have picked my jaw up off of the disgusting, scummy pool deck. NL then replied “Yes, some people just need to be told.”


Okay pool-goers, somebody please chime in, did I totally break a cardinal rule here?? I only did 2 lengths in the fast lane, but I was never lapped by anybody there? I thought that things were fine and dandy?


Fast Forward to Week 3. I forgot my towel and had to use toilet paper to dry myself off. It was not enjoyable.

I once again came out on deck to get in the water, and NL was standing at her usual post. I kid you not; the woman takes one look at me, throws her head back and makes a noise of exasperation that sounds something like,



By this point, I’m more amused then anything…I’m almost looking forward to this Friday’s swim just to see what NL has up her sleeve!

So tell me…anybody who swims regularly…am I totally breaking pool etiquette by crashing this party?! What do you do if you are a little too quick for the medium speed lane, but not quite fast enough for the fast lane?!

Enjoy your Tuesday! We’re 2/5 of the way to the weekend again!


Les Mills International Series Part 3: Spotlight on BodyStep

It’s Friday!!!

Okay, sorry.

But it is Friday!

I’ve got a crazy weekend planned. Matt’s mom is in town tonight, so we’re going to head downtown and visit with her, as well as Matt’s brother Neil and girlfriend Jessica, and then tomorrow night Neil, Jess, Matt and I are going to Halloween Haunt at Canada’s Wonderland for some ghoulish fun.

Side Note: Haunted houses scare the bajesus out of me. This might be interesting.

On Sunday, my Dad is finally going to be getting his birthday present from me (his birthday was in January…don’t even ask)…and we are going to do a two hour lesson in a commercial jet flight simulator!

Oh yea, and in between all of that stuff, I’m teaching 4 classes and attending an assessment taping as well. Eeks. 

I’ll report more on all of the weekend happenings on Monday, but for now, it’s time for the third post in my Les Mills International Series!

Les Mills International Series Part 3: Spotlight on BodyStep

If you missed the first two posts in the series, catch the first introductory post here and Spotlight on BodyAttack here.

Today I want to introduce you to the very FIRST Les Mills program that I got certified to teach back in 2007. Allow me to introduce you to BodyStep!

You know, it’s kind of funny how things work out sometimes. It was January of 2007, and I knew that I wanted to become an instructor. But at that time, BodyAttack had taken over my soul become so important to me that I could only imagine teaching that program. I attended BodyStep regularly, and absolutely loved the program, but never really thought about the possibility of me one day teaching it.

When I first approached someone about going for BodyAttack training (remember that at this time, I was a chubby 18 year old that was quiet as a mouse and still wanted to be invisible), I was told “No”.

BodyAttack was fairly new at that time, and it just wasn’t good practice to send a brand new instructor (who was really still a child) who had never taught fitness in their life before for training. I didn’t understand this at the time, but I am now very grateful to that person for saying “No” to me at that time. They set me up for success when I did finally get the “Yes” in 2008.

It was this fateful turn of events that led me to BodyStep! Truth be told, they were a little bit reluctant to put me through BodyStep instructor training as well (for the same reasons as Attack). I was put on a waiting list for training, and was told that most likely I would have to wait a bit, work on my fitness level and try to get into the next training weekend (about 6 months down the line).

I was majorly bummed.

As the training weekend drew closer, I had given up completely on the idea of getting in. I made plans for that weekend to distract myself and get my mind off of it, and resigned myself that I would work hard and prove myself for the next round.

24 hours before training was scheduled to begin, I got a phone call. Someone had broken their foot, and I was in.

And that’s where it all began!

BodyStep will always be “my baby” and have a special place in my heart. It was the first fitness class I ever taught, the program that developed me from this invisible, shy, quiet little mouse into who I am today. I owe so much to BodyStep. Too much to put into words on a screen.

But enough about me. Let me tell you what this awesome program is all about!

BODYSTEP™ is the energizing step workout that makes you feel liberated and alive. Using a height-adjustable step and simple movements on, over and around the step you get huge motivation from sing-a-long music and approachable instructors. Cardio blocks push fat burning systems into high gear followed by muscle conditioning tracks that shape and tone your body. Like all the LES MILLS™ programs, a new BODYSTEP™ class is released every three months with new music and choreography.

(Source: www.lesmills.com)

BodyStep is essentially a “step class”.

But this ain’t yo mama’s step class from the 80’s.

BodyStep is totally badass. It’s a very athletic class that uses a combination of cardio, endurance and strength based moves and choreography on and around the height adjustable bench. All of the moves are choreographed to awesome music (as all of the Les Mills programs are).

Some typical moves that you’ll see in just about every BodyStep class include:

  • Power Knee Lifts
  • Jump Squats
  • Lunges (static & propulsive)
  • Basic Jogs (up and down)
  • Burpees
  • Pushups
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Across The Top’s (exactly what they sound like – jumping across the top of the bench) 😉
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Speed work on the bench

Plus lots of fancier named moves like the “Jump Knee Repeater” or the “Moonwalk” that I won’t bog you down too much with! 😉

What makes BodyStep a little bit different then BodyAttack (although they share a similar intensity and penchant for hard work and sweat), is that BodyStep is really meant to be FUN!

Don’t get me wrong, Attack is tons of fun too, but BodyStep has baked it right into their mission statement and their program formula.

70% Athletic + 30% Flava = BodyStep

That means that while you’re busting your butt doing all of those hardcore moves on and around the step, there are lots of fun little bit of flare thrown in that encourage participants to just relax a bit, not take themselves too too seriously, and have a great time while they workout.

That being said, in the last year or so, BodyStep has taken a huge step forward to becoming a much much more athletic program! We now have the option to teach our BodyStep classes in the traditional 70/30 format, OR to up the ante and teach the class in the Athletic format, which basically replaces some of the more “fun” tracks with even more gritty, hard working, “jump squat until you want to puke” tracks.

Fun!? I think so!?

Don’t let me convince you though, take a look for yourself!

If you’re dying to get out to BodyStep, let me know and I’ll hook you up with some free class passes!! Enjoy your weekend and I’ll see you back here on Monday!!


I’ve gone back and forth on this post all week.  

My struggle is one between wanting to put forward my best face to the world all the time, and be “inspirational” and wanting to be real and put forward the face that I actually have on at any given moment in time, even if it happens to be a really ugly one.

I went the ugly route. Please forgive me.


I got my 25 minute bike ride done on Monday night, but was fighting against it the entire time. From minute 2, I was already thinking about when I was going to get off the bike. I was pouring sweat before I hit minute 5. For not the first time, I was reminded coldly and viciously that “I am not an athlete”. The voice in my head swallowed me up whole. She won on Monday night. I left the gym with my head down, my shoulders slumped, feeling completely and totally defeated.

The voice was thrilled.  

Also on Monday night (after my workout and class), I said the words out loud for one of the first times in public. I haven’t really said the words out loud yet to anybody except Matt and a couple of my very close friends. As the words came out of my mouth; “I want to do the Muskoka Half Ironman next year”, it was like I heard them for the first time myself. I saw myself the way other people must see me, and all of the wheels just came off.

As the words hung there in the air like a lazy fog, this overwhelming panic washed over me. What the hell am I thinking? I don’t have the time to dedicate to this, why do I even want to do this to myself anyways? It was like the next year of my life unfolded in front of my eyes, but only the awful parts. The debilitating injuries, the long stressful days, imaginary accidents where somebody hits me with a car while I’m out on the bike, the tears, the negative impact on my relationships because I just don’t have the time for anyone except the gym.

Have you ever seen a cat push away from something that they really don’t want to be close to? When they stiffen out their arms and push away and retract their neck so their head is as far away from whatever it is (usually the poor unassuming human who just wants to cuddle with them for 2 minutes) as it can be?

I felt like the cat. On the outside I was smiling, but on the inside I was stiff-armed, retracted neck, pushing as far away from the whole idea as I could possibly get.

I took some time to just calm down and think yesterday and got my head back on somewhat straight. Okay, maybe Matt helped a bit too.

Now I’m a much happier cat.


My little crisis of confidence led me to delve into a topic that I’ve been interested in for a long time. It’s called Grit.

The role of “Grit” started to come into play around 2007 when four researchers named Angela Duckworth, Christopher Peterson, Michael Matthews and Dennis Kelly teamed up to put together a study named:

Grit: Perseverance and Passion for Long-Term Goals

It was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Volume 92 in 2007.

Here is the full article, but I’ll also give you the Coles Notes version, along with my (very simplistic) take on it for those of you who never actually read the book back in English class. You know who you are.

 Grit Article

So the article starts with a quote from William James (1907). It goes like this:

Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake. Our fires are damped, our drafts are checked. We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental resources. . .men the world over possess amounts of resource, which only exceptional individuals push to their extremes of use. (William James, 1907, pp. 322–323)

Here’s what I take from that:

1) In general, we as a population only really operate at about 50% of our mental/physical capacity, and we do a pretty decent job with that 50%.

2) It takes an exceptional person to push themselves to 100% capacity and achieve that “extra” that is within every one of us.

But hey, I’m just paraphrasing. How’d I do Billy?

More than 100 years before this work was done in 2007, another scientist named Galton concluded from his research that “ability alone did not bring about success in any field”. Let me repeat that for good measure: ability alone did not bring about success in any field. Amen. He also concluded that “high achievers were triply blessed by ability, combined with zeal and capacity for hard labour”.

In an attempt to learn more about the specific characteristics that make up “Grit” and predict success in pursuing long term goals, Duckworth and her boys (sorry, moment to laugh at my own joke….I thought that was pretty funny) put together what they called “The Grit Scale” which is a self-administered questionnaire asking participants to rank themselves on a scale of 1-5 on a variety of questions designed to unearth your inner “grit” or determination.

They put together several studies designed to measure the level of grit in each respondent in combination with the likelihood of them achieving a given long term goal.

In a study designed to measure the level of grit compared to the respondent’s achievement of a post-secondary education, they found that of all of the respondents for whom this was an important long term goal, those who had achieved the highest levels of education were also the highest in grit scores (all other socio/economic biases removed of course).  

However, the same study found that of those respondents in post-secondary institutions, the ones who scored highest in Grit also had the highest GPA’s and SAT scores.

Another study using the Grit Scale looked at the Scale as a predictor for completion of the rigorous summer training program at the United States Military Academy. You guessed it; the scale was an excellent predictor of those who would complete the program, and those that would drop out, all other biases eliminated.

Cool huh? Wouldn’t you love to take that questionnaire?

You’re in luck. After some digging, I found it online for free. Enjoy.

 Grit Scale

 My Grit Score was 4.5/5. My Ambition Score was 5/5.

I may not be a “good” biker, a “good” swimmer, or a “good” runner. But maybe I’m not as up the creek without a paddle as I thought I was. Galton said it best!

So my question of the day for you is…..how gritty are you!?

I think this whole topic is super interesting, I hope you do too!

Have a great Wednesday!!

Eating to Feel Good

TGITW (Thank Goodness It’s The Weekend)!

It’s been a totally exhausting week. I’ve been fighting off a cold all week, but thanks to some super strong 1,000mg Vitamin C, I’ve managed to stay in a reasonably healthy state.

I was a little frustrated on Thursday because I (once again) missed my 6am RPM class that I had on schedule. I don’t mind at all getting up to teach a class at 6am, but I find it really tough to drag myself out of bed for a workout or even to attend a class before work on my own. I struggled just the same way trying to fit in yoga classes while I was participating in this 40 day yoga challenge back in September, and ended up eventually falling off the yoga wagon.

So all was not lost on Thursday, I did do a 20 minute bike before my BodyStep class, but as one of my loyal participants was so kind to remind me with wide eyes (when I explained to her why I was biking before class) “Ohh…well this isn’t enough biking to train for an Ironman!”.

Sigh. 🙂

Anyways, lately I’ve been noticing that my eating has been a total hot mess a little bit all over the place. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been really busy, and nutrition has totally taken a back seat. I’ve missed meals, had meals of (sometimes raw) cookie dough, turned to fried or frozen foods in a total panic to get something in my mouth before I rush out the door to wherever I have to get to next, you name it, I’ve probably done it.

Don’t judge me about the cookie dough thing. Raw cookie dough is damn delicious.

Slutty Brownies – chocolate chip cookies, Oreos, and brownie mix on top.

I (along with a lot of people) have a funny relationship with eating and with food. In the yoga challenge that I did back in September, the group leader often talked about how food is such a powerful part of our lives. People use it to push down emotions that they don’t want to feel. To fill themselves up with something other then whatever it is that they’re hiding from. People withhold it from themselves because they somehow feel like they’re not worth it, or they’re angry at themselves. We’ve given so much power to this totally inanimate part of our lives. Why?

The simple fact of the matter is that food is just that. It’s just food. It’s not “the enemy”, it’s not “out to get us”, it’s not trying to make us miserable and it can’t make us really happy if we’re not either.

It’s just food.

I’ve been reading this Triathlon book and got totally lost in the chapter about eating. It was aptly titled “Eating To Feel Good”. Amen to that.

Here were the “5 Commandments” of Eating to Feel Good from this chapter. I really loved them for their simplicity, and common sense approach.

Side Note: I am not a nutritionist, nor do I claim to know one darn thing about the science of eating! This info comes directly from my Triathlon Training book, and resonated with me 🙂

  1. You can choose two (totally valid) approaches when it comes to eating vs. training. Training to Eat (where you basically train hard to enjoy lots of your favourite foods and manage your weight), or Eating to Train (where you look at your body as a machine, and food as fuel to help your body perform as optimally as possible).

2.   Three building blocks provide energy to the body: Carbohydrates, Protein and Fats.

Carbohydrates — converted to sugar once they hit your bloodstream, and stored in the muscles as something called “glycogen” to be used as fuel when you need it. Once there’s no more room for glycogen in the muscles, the excess sugars are turned to fat (these are called on from fat stores when there’s no more glycogen to be had).

Protein — important for repairing tissue damage sustained during hard workouts, as well as converting the carbs to glycogen (see above). Protein is the “building block” in the body in everything from muslces to hair.

Side note – does this mean if I eat more protein, my hair will grow thicker???? Will have to investigate.

Fats — DON’T RUN SCREAMING Fats are not the enemy. Fats also help to convert carbs to glycogen (are you picturing glycogen as this glowing, ethereal gold substance yet? I totally am), and also play an important role in cushioning our internal organs. There’s a big time difference between saturated fats (think fats that are solid at room temperature like butter, cheese, fat in milk, egg yolks etc) and unsaturated fats (think fats that are mainly found in plant sources like nuts, seeds, avocado etc). Clearly the unsaturated ones are the right types to be including on a regular basis. I don’t think cookie dough falls in this category….

3.  The book suggests 60 – 100 grams of carbohydrates between 1 – 3 hours before you workout, and choosing foods low in protein and fat.

4. Hydrate or die.

Okay – not so dramatic, but it’s totally a no-brainer to keep your body well hydrated all the time. The simple test is how clear your urine is. Did you know that urine should be very pale, hardly even yellow at all if you are well hydrated? Check yours out next time and see! 😉

5. Aim to eat a small amount of food within 15 minutes – half an hour following a workout. This meal should consist of carbs (to replace all that glycogen *insert ethereal image* you’ve just burned through) and protein as well to help repair your hard working muscles.  

I can do that….right?? It doesn’t seem so complicated??

Anyways – I’ll wrap this up with the goal to work on adopting an “eat to train” mindset over the next little while, and trying really hard to adopt some of these simple philosophies too.

Nutrition is definitely not my strong suit, but two of my very good friends Bailey and Angela (who also both happen to be certified Nutrition and Wellness Specialists through Can Fit Pro) have terrific blogs chock full of nutrition advice and delicious recipes! Check ’em out if you’ve got time!

Enjoy the rest of your weekends 🙂

At the Kingston Triathlon – Summer 2012

Les Mills International Series Part 2: Spotlight on BodyAttack

 Happy Wednesday! I’ve been looking forward to the weekend since Monday morning, so I’m pretty pumped to be half way there!

Before I get into today’s post, I’ll give you a quick update on my knee issue, because I know you’ve all been waiting with baited breath…right? 😉

After a pretty busy weekend hustling around the city, my knee actually feels much better then it did last week. It’s not making that god awful popping and clicking noise and it’s not painful to squat or stand up from a sitting position anymore. I was feeling pretty good about things, and ready to move past this whole thing, but decided to give it one more week of treatment (which for me means massage therapy and a visit to the good ‘ol chiropractor) just to be sure.

Sadly my massage therapist actually scared the living crap out of me by suggesting that I had some of the symptoms of a torn meniscus. Wikipedia tells me that: a tear of a meniscus is a rupturing of one or more of the fibrocartilage strips in the knee called menisci and basically that this is a pretty serious injury that may even require surgery to repair. Thanks Wikipedia.

I don’t really know if I have a reason to be totally freaking out or not. Like I said, I was feeling pretty confident that it was on the mend earlier this week….but of course now that someone has suggested otherwise, it’s all I’m thinking about, and it doesn’t feel so good anymore. I’m trying not to freak out too much until I talk to my chiropractor tonight, and get his take on the whole thing. He’s usually pretty good at reassuring me that I’m not dying nor am I in danger of losing any limbs.

I should be on a soap opera. Seriously.

Anyways, over to my original intention for this post (you know, before I freaked myself out even more by writing down my deepest, darkest fears and re-reading them 12 times, each), and that’s the second post in my Les Mills International Series!

If you missed the first part of the series, check it out here. Ready, set…GO!

Done?! Okay, so today’s post is all about my favourite Les Mills discipline: BodyAttack. It’s a really tough call; I’m totally in love with BodyStep and BodyPump, and lots of the other ones that I don’t teach as well for that matter, but BodyAttack has always had this special little corner of my heart for some reason, and I think it still has the (slight) edge.

So what is BodyAttack? Straight from the Les Mills website (www.lesmills.com), here is the program description:

BODYATTACK™ is the sports-inspired cardio workout for building strength and stamina. This high-energy interval training class combines athletic aerobic movements with strength and stabilization exercises. Dynamic instructors and powerful music motivate everyone towards their fitness goals – from the weekend athlete to the hard-core competitor!

Essentially, BodyAttack is a 55 minute plyometric sports training class designed with a clean, simple mission statement:

Get Fit. Stay Fit. Get Fitter.

Yes please.


Some of the typical moves that you can expect to see in every BodyAttack class (or at least the vast majority of classes) include things like:

  • Lots of running
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Jump Squats
  • Plyometric Lunges
  • Pushups
  • Pushups (Suffice to say I did not put these twice by accident. *Shudder*)
  • Ice Skaters
  • Agility based moves (i.e fast feet, ladder runs)
  • Tuck Jumps
  • High Kicks

Phew. It makes me tired just looking at it all.

Attack does have some similarities to programs like Crossfit, except that of course the moves are choreographed to (amazing) music.

The class is also led by an instructor, and the goal of the program is to be very inclusive. This means that Attack is not only for the super-fit, nor is it only for the hardcore competitor. It is truly for everybody, and can be done at any level of impact/intensity. Also, (not a critical fact but still fun to know), each of the Les Mills International programs are branded with a colour. BodyAttack’s program colour is yellow!

My BodyAttack journey started back in 2007 when the program was launched at our gym for the first time. Up until that point, I had been doing BodyPump and BodyStep quite regularly, but I still had a long way to go in terms of losing weight and improving my fitness. I walked into my first BodyAttack Class (which was held in the studio that I now basically live in…so ironic), and had no idea what to expect.

It knocked me flat on my back.

I walked out of the studio in a haze wondering if anyone got the license plate of the truck that had just hit me.

But for some reason, from that very first class, I couldn’t get enough of the program! I was at the gym for every Attack class I could get to. I completely fell in love with the infectious music; the totally incredible instructors and the hardcore workout that made me feel like I was really taking strides to improve my level every single week. It was my total infatuation with BodyAttack that first put the seed in my head that I wanted to become an instructor.

I guess I owe more to this program then I realized.

My friend Karla (Attack instructor from KW) and I!


A very special day for me – my name was drawn out of a hat at a huge Instructor Quarterly training workshop, and I got to shadow the presenting team on stage for one track! A dream come true!

One of the instructors that made me fall in love with Attack back when I first started, and now a very close friend of mine – Kristine and I!

  I teach BodyAttack once per week regularly, but I will often sub a second class. I see Attack playing a really important role in my Ironman training as a way to improve endurance, functional strength as well as mental toughness. On weeks where I just can’t get in another run or bike, Attack will have to sub in for these activities.

So there you have it! Are you dying to get out to your first class?! If you’re not sold yet, check out this video to seal the deal.


If you’re looking for an Attack class in your area, message me or leave me a comment and I’d be happy to hook you up with a free pass to give it a try! But foretold is forewarned…it may just change your life!

Stay tuned for the next “spotlight” in this series which will be on another program near and dear to my heart: BodyStep!

Have a great Wednesday afternoon!

“All It Takes Is All You Got” – Marc Davis

Well, I’ve finally arrived at the place I’ve been dreaming about all weekend: my couch. It’s been a totally insane, but fantastic weekend complete with two running races that I’ll give you the low-down on now while it’s all still fresh in my head.

Warning: This May Inspire You.

Trek or Treat 5km Run – Friday October 12th 2012

Matt’s marathon was on Sunday of the same weekend, so sadly he was out of contention to be my “running buddy” in the Trek or Treat 5K night run (he would have slowed me down anyways…….;)), but I was thrilled that my friend Bailey and her boyfriend Graeme were in to do it with me! We got to the course just in the nick of time and checked in, they really went all out with the Halloween decorations, and the place really looked great! Oh, and did I forget to mention that we tried to dress up as Ninja Turtles? Please, contain yourselves…

If I’m being totally honest, I don’t think I gave this run the respect it deserved. I’m usually pretty good about getting well hydrated, eating pretty well and trying to fuel my body right before runs, but for some reason this time, something was “off”. I wasn’t feeling 100% after my swim at lunchtime; I think it was a little bit of dehydration setting in. It always gets me that you can get dehydrated from swimming. I guess that’s called irony. Anyways, the biggest issue I had on Friday (I think) was my nutrition. I was eating pizza half an hour before the race, didn’t drink enough water…pretty much broke all of the rules for distance racing, but playing by the rules is no fun anyways right?

So Bailey, Graeme and I had a great run. The course was a lot of fun and wound through some great trails (that were lit with our head lamps of course!), and there were even some scary ghouls and goblins hiding out around some of the bridges to keep us on our toes. We finished in about 32 minutes with huge smiles on our faces – MISSION SUCCESS! Big congratulations to Bailey for finishing her first distance race!!! You rock sistah!!!

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon & Half Marathon

We had a great time at the Trek or Treat Run, but the big event this weekend was definitely the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (for Matt and his dad Roy) and the Half Marathon (for Matt’s brother Neil). I was so excited for all of the boys, I know how hard they’ve all been training, and they deserved this weekend to be all about them. Matt’s big goal was to break the 3 hour mark, Roy wanted to go sub 3:30 and Neil was hoping for a PB below 1:50 in the Half Marathon. Those are some big goals, but that’s pretty much how these guys roll. I think they’ve all rubbed off on me A LOT over the past 3 years and I love it.

We got downtown on Saturday afternoon and went straight to the Runners Expo at the Direct Energy Centre. The place was hopping.

I love going to the Expos at big races, I’ve been lucky enough to go to the Boston Marathon Expo (thanks Roy for the ticket to that one!!), and that was totally out of control bananas. There must have been half a million people there. This one, thankfully, wasn’t quite as crazy. We got the boys their race kits, walked around and got as much free swag as possible, and then headed off for dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory.

Insert Side Note: I hate city traffic on a regular day. Insert almost 20,000 runners and their families into the city, and you have Sara somewhere close to a total nervous breakdown. Back to the Spaghetti now.

 We had a pretty low key night, although we did manage to squeeze in the Toronto Marlies Season Opener game against the Rochester Americans. They won 3-1 by the way. They’re not the Leafs, but I guess they’ll do…

This morning we were up and down at the Start line by just after 8am. It was absolutely pouring rain, and quite windy, which made it pretty chilly early on in the day. Neil’s girlfriend Jessica and I were the packmules spectators for the day, so we packed up all of the coats and sweaters and pants and waited for the start!

Once we saw the guys take off (let me tell you – if you’ve never been standing at the Start line of a marathon when that gun goes, you’re missing out. It’s a sight to see. Goosebump city), we booked it over to the 7km mark where our plan was to see Matt, Neil, Roy and hopefully the Sidders’ family friend Fergus go by before we took off for our next spot to watch for them.

Unfortunately, the walk that looked like about 2cm on our pocket map turned out to be about 3km, so we ended up basically sprinting down the sidewalk to try and beat Matt to the 7km mark.

God damn that guy is fast.

We just got there in time to see Matt, and he looked amazing!

We gave him a high five, told him he was almost there (mwa ha ha) and he carried on. Neil and Roy weren’t far behind him! Neil was running with Roy for the first couple kilometres to help him get out of the fray with all of the runners in the Start zone. If you remember from my very first post, Roy suffers from an eye condition and is considered legally blind. Not that that stops him from running marathons or doing IronMan competitions or anything…

After we saw Neil and Roy, Jess and I decided that we needed to book it down to Lakeshore to about the 18 or 19 kilometre mark to try and see Matt one more time before we went to the Finish line to see Neil come in. We made it down to the 19km mark just in time, and with only minor road confusion. Who’s the genius behind the TWO Lakeshore Road’s in Toronto?? There’s only ONE ACTUAL Lakeshore people?!?!

When we saw Matt at the 19km mark, he was 2 minutes ahead of his goal pace and looked fantastic.


We booked it up Bay Street to catch Neil at the Finish line, and somehow ended up walking right up the middle of the Full Marathon course towards the finish line…can you just imagine for one second if a Kenyan runner had come in for first place while we were walking in the road??? Needless to say, a couple of cops suggested that we get ourselves off the road, and we were thrilled to oblige.

Neil came in looking great at 1:49:17. He made 1:50!! We collected him (with some confusion as to where exactly we were going to meet up – the runners were herded like cattle over to Nathan Phillips Square which was a pretty solid walk from our hotel right on the finish line) and went back to wait for Matt and Roy to come in.

Way To Go Neil!

 I’ll interject here that as soon as we saw Neil come in and we knew he was okay, my thoughts immediately went to Matt. Ever since we saw him at the 19km marker, this sick little seed of terror had been planted in me. It was like everything was going too well.

I’ve never seen anyone train for anything the way that Matt has trained to qualify for Boston and for this race as well. His work ethic is impeccable. 19 weeks of training and he never missed one single workout, and you better believe he left everything he had on the road for every single one of those workouts too. Matt has the heart of a champion, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my boyfriend. But I just had a weird feeling this time.

We got back to the finish line when the clock said about 2:53. For seven long minutes, we waited. I counted every second, my heart in my throat. When that 2:59:59 changed to 3:00, I knew that something had gone wrong. Matt doesn’t run “to see what happens”. He knows what should happen, and if it doesn’t, then something went wrong. I was beside myself, but there was nothing I could do at that point but wait and hope that we would see him soon. I was in agony.

We didn’t have to wait long, he came in at 3:03, essentially matching his Personal Best set in Manitoba, and qualifying for Boston…again!

Matt battled hard for the last 10km of his race. That’s when things started to go off-plan a little bit. He finished the marathon in a state that would have knocked a lesser person right out of the race faster than you can say “Uncle”.

Either there’s a major screw loose in this guy I’m dating, or he’s part machine.

One or the other.

I talk a lot in my classes about “not giving up” when things get tough. But really, I don’t know anything about “when things get tough”. Not like this anyways. It takes a special breed of human to battle the way that Matt does. I hope I have a little bit of that spirit in me too.

Well this is turning into a marathon post (pun intended) – but I’ll wrap up by saying that Roy came in shortly after Matt with a very impressive time of 3:33:55! A successful day all around.

I am so ready to tackle this week armed with the inspiration from all of these amazing athletes. Congratulations to ALL of you!

The Voice

And I’m not talking about the TV show with Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, the guy that sings “Forget You” and that country singer that I keep referring to as “Miranda Lambert’s husband”……


 Let me preface this post by saying that I’m currently battling what is slowly slipping from “knee pain” to a “knee injury”. On Wednesday I went to see my chiropractor; he’s usually able to help me with everything from back and neck pain to shoulder troubles and ankle sprains. He used to be the trainer for the Oakville Blades Junior hockey team and so he knows all about bullheaded athletes that don’t take care of their bodies. Not that I’m one of those or anything……..;)

Anyways, he played around with my knee a little bit and got it to make this god awful popping noise. Turn out my kneecap had actually shifted right out of alignment and was grinding away on the cartilage and other bones. Well isn’t that just peachy. He sent me away with orders to ice it and do some exercises to strengthen the inner part of my knee. It feels “better”, but it still hurt like a mother teaching BodyPump the rest of the week, and it’s still a little achey this morning. I think that’s to be expected because the inflammation needs to come down a bit. At least that’s what I tell myself….

So on Wednesday, I was scheduled to do a 20 minute run before my BodyPump class. From the second I walked out of my chiropractor’s office, this small little voice started in my head; far away at first and then gradually drifting closer and closer.  It’s concerned.

“Not a good idea. Your knee is bad. You might hurt yourself. Quit now while you’re ahead”

But here’s the funny thing. Running doesn’t hurt my knee. Squats and lunges do, but running does not. As I drive in the direction of the gym, the voice got a little louder and more shrill. The concerned tone starts to evaporate. Now it’s got a bit of a scathing tone.

“You never learn do you? You push it to the point that you hurt yourself, and then you cry because you can’t teach your classes. You deserve to be injured. You treat your body like crap.”

I don’t have a response to the voice, so I just continue driving, letting the words roll around like marbles in my head. I nearly hit a pedestrian in the cross walk because I’m so lost in my own thoughts.

Anyways, I’ll spare you the drama. I got to the gym, borrowed a hair elastic from a very kind brunette girl in the change room (because I seem to have lost my stash in my gym bag…I swear to God someone goes in there and steals them!) and get on the treadmill.

I started off easy. A couple of easy strides to get my knee loosened up, to test the waters. I’m okay; it’s not painful to run. And then suddenly, I’m not alone anymore. The voice in my head is back, and she’s more vicious than ever.

“You look like shit you know.”

What the hell? Where did that even come from? That doesn’t even have anything to do with running?????

“Look around you. You think you fit in? You’re a joke. Runners are supposed to be thin. Look at you.”

I turn my iPod up a little bit louder. Maybe it will go away and leave me in peace.

“You think you can ignore me? You’re hilarious. Feel that heavy impact on your ankles, your knees, your hips? Know why that hurts so much? Because you can’t stop eating like a 400 pound man. You’re like an elephant trying to run. People around you are staring at you. And by the way, that shirt you’re wearing doesn’t do you any favours.”

I think by this point I’m into minute 8 or 9 out of 20, and I’m seriously thinking about calling it a day at minute 10. My knee is a little shaky, and I have to teach an entire Pump class really soon…at least I ran some….right? Something is better than nothing?

“HA! You think you can do a Half Ironman!? You should sign up for Just For Laughs. You can’t even run for 10 minutes on a treadmill. You’re pathetic. Make sure to save me a front row seat for when you fall flat on your face. I’ll be front and centre with my feet up saying “I told you so”.”

I battle against it for the entire 20 minutes. Once I hit the Stop button on the treadmill….it stops, and everything goes quiet. I’m thrilled that I made it 20 minutes! A little piece of me just shakes my head at the voice. So often it’s right. But today, it was wrong.

Who is this vicious, cold, biting, scathing, miserable person that lives inside my head? Is it possible that that person is ME in any form? I sincerely hope not.

I wouldn’t speak to my worst enemy, to anyone on the planet, in the way that this voice speaks to me.

That voice is there when I go clothes shopping. It’s there when I go to the beach or to the pool. It’s there when I meet new people or enter a new social situation. It’s run roughshod over me ever since I can remember.

The one place that that voice doesn’t seem to have any power over me is in the studio. I’ve always found it very bizarre, but no matter what is going on in my life, no matter how down on myself I’m feeling or just distracted I am in general, once the music starts, everything has always gone quiet upstairs. It’s one of the (many, many) things that I love about teaching so much 🙂


The bottom line is, I got my run done, and I was thrilled! I am so excited for this Trek or Treat 5K tonight! I’m going to be running with my best friend Bailey and her boyfriend Graeme, and I think the plan is to try and do a make-shift Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles costume…yes, there will be pictures 😉

Check Bailey out over at www.onetipforthefuture.com by the way! She’s fabulous in the kitchen and will have you salivating in no time flat! I knew there was a reason her and I got along…….:)


To wrap up, I want to say that over the next year, I know that I’m going to have to come face to face with this voice inside my head and conquer it once and for all. It won’t be a quick fix unfortunately, but it’s something that I’d really like to figure out, not just for triathlon training, but for everything else too.

Don’t you think it’s time after 10+ years for someone to tell that little bitch to shut her mouth???

 I wish you and your families a very happy weekend!! We are headed downtown for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon – I can’t wait to cheer for all of the amazing athletes and collect some inspiration of my own!!


The Les Mills International Series

Back to the grind. Snore.

My best friend Bailey took this picture in 2nd year University…too much Stats.

I really needed this long weekend. It’s been a stressful month and a half since I started my new job in September and I was (and possibly still am) approaching burnout. I’m still in a little bit of mourning shock that it’s over!

I’ve got a jam-packed week and weekend ahead, and on the menu are not one but TWO race events! This Friday I’m going to be running in the Trek or Treat 5km Run, and on Sunday Matt (and his father Roy and brother Neil) are running in the Toronto Waterfront Marathon (and Half Marathon). BRING ON THE MOTIVATION!!!

Today I want to kick off a “series” that will shed some light on an enormous part of my life. This part of my life will also be playing a huge role in my Ironman training.

Allow me to introduce you to…

The Les Mills International Series

(Otherwise known as “my classes” or “the classes I teach”)

This will be the first in a series of posts over the next few weeks shining a spotlight on each of the Les Mills group fitness classes that I teach, as well as the other classes that fall under the “Les Mills” group fitness empire. Prepare yourself. This might get nerdy.

Before I go any further, let me introduce you to the wonderful world of Les Mills. Based out of Auckland, New Zealand, Les Mills is a total global maven in group fitness classes. Started by a world class athlete named (you guessed it) Les Mills back in the 60’s as a simple fitness club, it was really the guy’s son Phillip Mills who pioneered the group fitness philosophy in the 80’s.

Phillip’s vision for group fitness was to put together classes that would “catch fire” and resonate across the entire world. He summed this up in two words: “One Tribe”.

The difference between his philosophy and other group fitness classes was simple:

  1. Put together the BEST pre-packaged group fitness product possible by investing a ton of cash and resources into research and development, trainers, doctors, physiotherapists, choreographers (and the list goes on)
  2. Film it and package it up nicely
  3. Distribute it around the world to be delivered by local instructors (trained and assessed under international Les Mills standards) in their home countries.

The “pre-packaged” thing and all of the R&D that went into the classes was totally unprecedented at the time.

But the real game changer was introducing weights into the largely female dominated group fitness world at a time when “weights were scary” and “women didn’t lift weights”.

Enter: BodyPump (or “Pump” as it was called until 1995)


BodyPump didn’t just catch fire. It exploded.


The combination of fantastic music, killer new and innovative moves and choreography, and extremely well-trained, educated instructors was a total smash hit. BodyPump made weight training accessible to everyone. Women loved it, but even more surprising at that time was that men loved it too.

And I guess as they say, the rest was history. With the success of BodyPump behind them, Les Mills never looked back. They developed the following programs over the next 12 years using the same tried, tested and true formula of research, research, research and training, training, training.

Each of their 10 programs has exploded around the world in just the same way that BodyPump did.




BodyFlow (or BodyBalance in the rest of the world)







**I teach the ones with the stars beside them! **

Today, Les Mills Group Fitness classes are in 77 countries around the world. It is estimated that globally over 7 million people per week participate in a Les Mills group fitness class.

This isn’t “a fitness class”.

It’s an epidemic.


I’ll leave you with some pictures from the Les Mills “tribe” that I’m a part of here in Canada.

BodyStep AIM with Sarah Robinson – August 2012

Stay tuned for “Spotlight on BodyAttack” coming to a screen near you soon! I’ll also touch on how I see each of my classes (and the others that I don’t teach as well) fitting into my Ironman training schedule over the next year.

Have a great evening!!

Here Fishy, Fishy!

Feeling a bit like a stuffed turkey myself when I woke up this morning after all of the Thanksgiving festivities last night, I decided that it was about time I got my act in gear and got my first “official” triathlon training plan workout underway. My right knee has been acting up this week in my classes and I really…let’s say that again for effect…really don’t want to have to sub out any of my classes next week. So of the swim, bike and run…I chose the workout that will put the least amount of strain on my knees…..










I really love to swim, I always have. I know so many people who are afraid of the water. “Too cold”, “too slimy”, “dangerous”….but I’ve never felt that way. I’ve always been at home in the water, and the water has always been kind to me. I was about 3 years old when I started swimming lessons (fist bump to my mom and dad for starting me so young – it’s the only way to go), and in one of my very first lessons, a nasty 6 year old boy took my Arial Little Mermaid doll and threw her into the deep end of the pool. Fearless little Sara went off on a crusade pattering down the deck and jumped right into the deep end of the pool after her with no flotation device! I guess I was just so comfortable I didn’t see how anything could go wrong. That, or it was going to take a hell of a lot more then a little bit of water and a nasty 6 year old to get between me and my Arial.

As I’ve gotten older, that gutsy little 3 year old has evaporated and I’ve become a very cautious, fearful person. I’m not really sure at what point it happened, because I used to be very brave. When I was 13 or 14 my family went White Water Rafting in the Ottawa River. We had gone down an enormous rapid in our raft called the “Waikiki Wave”. 3 out of 5 rafts flipped over and everyone went out. After we had pulled up to calm water, the Guide let us know that if we wanted to, we could get out of the raft, walk back up the river bank, jump into the water and body surf down the same rapid that we just went down. Who do you think was first out of the raft and jumping in?

Age and maturity are funny things. When we are young, all we want is to be older. I willed away the days until I was 16 so that I could drive. Then until I was 18 so I could drive alone. Next I counted the days until I turned 19 so that I could get into the bar, and then once I turned 19, my sites were on 21 so that I could go into casinos and bars in the States if I needed to.

My 19th Birthday 😉

The irony is that once we get “older”, we wish fervently for that gutsy, youthful mindset all over again. The “get out of my way I’m coming through” attitude that makes little kids ride their tricycles like demons through a crowded street. The “if I fall, I’ll just get back up and try it again!” attitude. I lost mine somewhere between the ages of 14 and 18. Come to think of it, I lost a lot of my spark between the ages of 14 and 18. In my early adult years, I’ve managed to get most of that “spark” and passion back. But the bravery never did come back to me.

Anyways. Sorry. That was a bit of a detour. Back to the swim 😉

I got to the pool right on time for the swim and picked the “slow” lane to start out in. I felt a bit self-conscious because I was wearing my Old Navy flowery two-piece bathing suit on a deck lined with fit, lean bodied, Speedo one-piece wearing swimmers, all wearing bathing caps and streamline goggles that probably cost more than my iPod. I so need to go shopping.

Anyways, I got into the water and felt so much better. Swimming is such a therapeutic, soothing workout for your body. As I started to front crawl and glide through the water, my mind began to drift to the hardcore, sweaty, screaming, jumping workouts that I love so much in the studio. Don’t get me wrong, those will always be my workouts, and you’d be a sorry person to try and get between me and my classes. Swimming was kind to my body. My knees and ankles and hips seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. I gained more and more confidence with every pull through the water.

I did 30 lengths of a 25 metre pool. So about 750 metres. Not too bad for my first “real” swim of training! The most important thing was that I walked out of the pool glowing. I felt like I had “won”, and a tiny little bit of that “get out of my way I’m coming through!” mindset started to creep back in.

Maybe Triathlon Training is about more then just training your body. Maybe it has something to do with training your mind as well. Training your mind to drop the fear and just go for it. You might fall off your bike. You might get a cramp while you’re swimming. You might crack a bone in your foot running.

But you’re just as likely (or more) to not do any of those things.

Check out my training plan for the rest of this week below! Enjoy the extra day off tomorrow!

Monday – 90 minute BodyAttack Class & Food Drive

Tuesday – BodyAttack class

Wednesday – 20  minute run & BodyPump class

Thursday – Spin class & BodyStep class

Friday – 850 metre swim & Trek or Treat 5km run (stay tuned for a full race recap of this fun race!!)

Saturday – REST DAY *insert HALLELJAH music here*

Sunday – Spin class

“A Goal Without a Plan is Nothing More Than a Wish” – Larry Elder

 Well said Mr. Elder. Well said.

I love to plan. I’ve had my Christmas shopping list written out since August. My Outlook calendar at work is so detailed it may as well have been modelled after a NASA log. I’ve had a planner since the day I learned how to write (true story – it was my reward for printing my name). So to recap: I love to plan.

For some strange reason though, when it comes to distance racing…

I totally suck at it.

Don’t ask me why, I don’t have an answer for you! Thinking back on all of the lofty “goals” that I have set over the years (which in the end turned out to be nothing more than wishes just as Mr. Elder articulated so eloquently), the piece that was missing in all cases was a concrete and detailed plan of attack.

So in the interest of breaking the “goal to wish” cycle, I did what any good Canadian consumer would do. I went to Chapters.

Is there any problem or issue in the world that you can’t find the answer for at Chapters?

I found a great book by Lucy Smith called “Ironman: First Triathlon. Your Perfect Plan For Success”. Come to mama.

So I haven’t read the entire book yet, but from the initial skim that I took of it, it seems like I’m breaking every one of the rules of thumb for triathlon goal setting. The first page preaches that novice triathletes should set the initial goal of completing a “Try-A-Tri”, and then a Sprint Distance Triathlon (750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run). Oops.

So after some deep, pensive thinking (and a snack…because sometimes a snack helps to process things…), here are the pillars of my “plan”.

  • The book calls for a 16 week training plan for a Sprint Distance Triathlon. The Half Ironman is about 4x as long. So I figure I need at least a full year of training. Which means I need to start like…yesterday.
  • Okay, okay. Maybe my very first triathlon shouldn’t be a Half Ironman. That just means that I need to get out on the race circuit early so that I’m ready for the Muskoka Half Ironman in September 2013 🙂  My plan: complete the very first “Sprint Triathlon” race of the 2013 that’s within driving distance and then complete an Olympic Distance race in mid-summer. Still to do: research and find out which races these are!
  • Go shopping! Hurray! I will need a couple of things over the coming months that I’ll need to track down. A bathing suit (and not a $9.99 two-piece from Old Navy), a membership at a Community pool, good good running shoes, a bike (my Visa just cried out in pain) and bike shoes (another cry of pain). I figure I can stage out some of it, I’ll do most of my bike training over the winter months in Spin class, but once the sun starts shining…it’s time to hit the road!
  • Write it down and schedule it in. This is my favourite part. My life is very very busy because I work two (basically) full-time jobs and have since I was 18. I wouldn’t trade my life for anything, it is the way it is because I’ve set it up that way. But that doesn’t mean it’s not freakin’ insane sometimes. Since I teach 5 days a week right now, scheduling in workouts and being realistic about what I can and can’t get done will be really important.

I think that’s a good start for now. My palms are so sweaty they are sliding all over the keyboard as I’m typing this. Is this seriously happening? What the hell am I doing?

Well, on that note, I’m off to do something that I DO really know how to do, and that’s teach a Saturday morning BodyAttack class!! Stay tuned for more detail on the classes that I teach, what they’re all about, and why I think they will change your life.

My favourite people to work out with! Saturday morning BodyAttack!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families, here is a picture of mine! All my love to you and yours.

My family in Beirut, Lebanon – Summer 2010