Month: November 2013

Namaste

I’ve dabbled in and out of Hot Yoga so many times over the past several years that I guess you could call me a “wannabe yogi”.

Unfortunately the membership at these hot yoga studios is enough to make even me (the most frivolous money-waster you could imagine) cringe. Seriously, what the heck? I guess it’s all those crazy energy bills that they must have to pay to heat the studio to 50 degrees Celsius and keep it there all day every day, but still. I thought yogis were supposed to be low maintenance, chill, inexpensive???

ANYWAYS, all that to say that about a week ago I scored a Groupon for a hot yoga studio in our area: 20 classes for 40 dollars. Now that’s what I’m talking about! This studio is the fifth one in the area that I’ve tried out on one of these introductory offers, and I was eager to check it out and see how it stacked up against the others that I’ve been to.

On Sunday night, after a totally disastrous attempt at cooking pulled pork in the slow cooker (I bought the wrong cut of meat and ended up cooking the crap out of a ham in the slow cooker for 7 hours before trying to “pull” it….#pulledporkfail), I headed out to give the 8pm Yin/Yang class a try. Whatever pulled pork, I don’t need you anyways.

Pulled Pork Fail

This yoga studio is in a really interesting part of town. There are some really gourgeous old buildings and lots of really cute little shops with lots of character. Everything was closed on the street except for the yoga studio which was lit up like a candle because the walls exposed to the street were nearly floor to ceiling windows. It was very cool.

As soon as I walked through the door, I kind of smiled to myself because every single hot yoga studio I’ve been in as a lot of the same qualities about it.

#1 – You always have to take off your shoes immediately upon entering (and I mean immediately), or risk a very reproachful look from the yogi at the front desk

#2 – Every single one has the identical smell to it. I spent a good solid 10 minutes of the yoga class trying to put my finger on what that smell is, and I’ve still got nothing. I can try to describe it to you as an earthy, woody smell, kind of musky and herby. (Is herby a word?). It might be some kind of incense that they all burn, or maybe in a less idyllic vision it’s just all the sweat from 30 people doing yoga in a 50 degrees Celsius room with wooden floors, but anyways, it’s totally a Hallmark of all hot yoga studios I’ve been to.

#3 – There’s always kind of a strange looking Buddha statue of some sort. This particular one was wearing a very nice decorative headdress.

Buddha

Once I had gotten myself registered and ready to go, I went into the studio to lie down on my back like a corpse and chill for a bit before class started. Or as the yogis call it “Savasana”.

Although I’m really, really no good at it (nearly 10 years of high impact , plyometric fitness classes have not been kind to any of my joints or my flexibility), I love going to yoga classes and trying out different yoga studios for so many reasons. One of the biggest reasons is that I love getting the opportunity to see inside a different world of fitness.

I’m fascinated by the world of yoga, because it stands in such stark contrast to the loud, bustling, noisy world of fitness that I call home. I love to look around at the people that come to class, and I love to guess at who is there trying out a class for a workout or something new to add on to their fitness routine like I am, and who really lives and breathes the stuff the way that I do with Les Mills. You can usually tell, not by a person’s yoga ability or how they look or what they’re wearing, but by their whole demeanour, body language and how comfortable and at home they are in the studio.  I find it really interesting.

We had two instructors, one very nice man and one very sweet woman with a French accent and the longest legs I’ve ever seen who was wearing very cool zebra print yoga tights. I could so NOT have rocked those tights.

As promised, the first half of the class was a little more athletic with more movement, and the second half of the class was more restorative and we got to hold poses for a little longer. I kind of struggled with both halves of the class to be honest (especially with some soreness in my shoulders while holding Downward Dog), but I definitely enjoyed the second half of the class more than the first.

In the second half of the class, the woman with the zebra pants asked us to try to do a “shoulder stand” where you kind of prop yourself up on your elbows and support your lower back with your hands so that your shoulders are the only part of your body really touching the ground (apart from your head and elbows of course, because I don’t think that would really be possible unless you were decapitated).

At first I failed miserably at the shoulder stand, but the instructor actually came over and helped me to get it at least kind of right, which I really appreciated. Once she was done helping me, she went back to her own mat and proceeded to do a headstand and split her legs so that her toes actually touched the ground on each side of her body. I think I actually stopped even trying to do my lame little shoulder stand and just watched her. It was absolutely incredible what she was able to do with her body.

Like this, minus the hands touching the ground and with her toes touching the floor on either side of her body!
Like this, minus the hands touching the ground and with her toes touching the floor on either side of her body!

We finished with about 10 minutes of Savasana, which I just loved, and then just like that we were back into the chilly world and I was sprinting and shrieking across the road back to the car in my flip flops because it had turned into a torrential downpour rainstorm while we were peacefully doing our thing in the yoga studio.

Back to reality eh? 🙂

I’m planning to go back to the yoga studio this weekend for another class in some sort of effort to get myself on the injury prevention train BEFORE I even start to really train for my marathon.

I hope you all have a great weekend planned, I’m headed to see the new Hunger Games movie tonight and then to the States for some Christmas shopping on Sunday!

Before you leave today, I implore you; you must read this article about Surviving Whole Foods. It’s got to be the funniest thing I’ve read like….ever.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kelly-maclean/surviving-whole-foods_b_3895583.html

Namaste friends!

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Silly Goose

Happy Friday Night!!

Although it was a short week, it’s been an insane one and I’m sure glad that the weekend is here. I’ve got high hopes for this weekend in terms of getting ready for Christmas, including buying our very first set of Christmas lights and putting them up (enter stage right: Matt with a ladder), doing some baking, finishing off my Christmas cards and maybe if there’s time, getting into the mall to start my Christmas shopping.

I cannot believe its November 15th and I haven’t even started my shopping yet. Oh the shame. Normally I start shopping in October, and I’m pretty much done by the end of November, but then spend the rest of December picking up “extra” things that I see that I think people might like. This year I think I’m going to be one of those mad panicked shoppers bolting around the mall the week before Christmas….which I’m not overly disappointed about. I always kind of wish that I had more of an excuse to go to the mall in December (and all year long to be honest) anyways 🙂

Mall

Another thing that I’m really looking forward to this weekend is a yoga class at this new yoga studio in Oakville. I recently bought a Groupon for 20 yoga classes over the next three months, and I’ve been itching to get started ever since I bought it. Yoga is one of those things that I always wish that I had time to cram into my schedule, yet somehow it never makes it in. Don’t the yogis always say that the people that need yoga the most are the ones that can’t find the time for it?

True dat yogis. Point taken.

Anyways, I’m thinking about taking a Hot Yang/Yin Yoga class on Sunday night which is supposed to be evenly split between a higher energy, more athletic style of yoga for the first half of the class, and then a slower paced, more restorative and healing style of yoga for the second half. I of course am looking forward to the second half more than the first 😉

In all seriousness though, I know that cross-training is going to be a big part of my marathon training (how weird is it to not have the word “half” in front of the word marathon???? Guess that’s something I’ll have to get used to…) if I want to stay healthy throughout my training cycle. It’s going to be a real challenge to keep my body healthy because I’m going to be teaching high-impact classes on top of all the running that I need to be doing.

My friend Angela (who blogs over at www.eat-spin-run-repeat.com by the way!) posted a great article today from Running Competitor.com which outlines the four biggest problem areas for runners, and offers up some stretches and strengthening exercises to target these areas specifically.

The four areas (in no particular order) are: hips, glutes, hamstrings and ankles.

I’ve had injuries and issues with all four of these areas in the past, so this time I’m being proactive, and I’m committing to do at least one set of the exercises in this article before bed every night starting TODAY. Combine that with a regular yoga practice, and I’m hopeful that my joints and muscles will forgive me for the pounding they’ll be taking in the coming months.

Speaking of pounding…….I kind of made a bit of a mistake in my winter race sign-ups. Matt has been shaking his head at me and calling me a “silly goose” for the last week. I sort of double-booked myself for the first weekend in December by agreeing to do the 5km Santa Shuffle (in a full Santa suit) with my instructor friends from the gym on Saturday December 7th and also agreeing to do the 10.8km Eggnog Jog on Sunday December 8th. Throw in a BodyAttack class on the Saturday morning post-Santa Shuffle and I don’t know how much shuffling I’m going to feel like doing come Sunday night!!

Silly goose indeed.

Anyways, in the next week I’ve got to outline a bit of a training plan to get started on. Since I know that I can’t ramp up mileage quickly without injuring myself, it’s going to have to be a slow and steady process, and I know I’m going to have to start early. Stay tuned for the training plan!

Before you leave for the night, what are you up to this weekend?! What have you got on the go? Have you started your Christmas shopping yet??

Have a great weekend all!!

-Sara xo

 

A New BHAG for 2014…

Hi Everyone – Happy Wednesday!

It’s a big day for me on Going the Distance….I’ve got a new BHAG to share with all of you!

When I finished the Muskoka 70.3 IronMan, I remember there were a couple of weeks where I thought to myself: I really honestly don’t need or want to set another huge goal for 2014. It was so wonderful to have the pressure of the impending Half IronMan lifted, the waiting over, and to just immerse myself back into my class 150%.

I have to just put it out there that although I am slowly but surely falling in love with endurance sports as well, my heart is still firmly entrenched in the studio. I’m a Les Mills girl forever and always! The past couple of months have been some of the best I’ve ever had in the studio.

I’ve recently started going to BodyJam once a week, and am totally falling in love with dance and dance fitness. BodyJam is always something that I’ve wanted so badly to “be good at”, but never really had the courage to try. With my new found confidence from the IronMan, I made the executive decision that to hell with it if I don’t look good doing it, I enjoy it and I’m going to try anyways. Ironically (and of course), the exact moment that I stopped caring about how I looked doing it was the exact moment that I started to “get good” at it.

Jam

How simple the lesson always seems in hindsight, right?

Anyways, all this to say, that despite all of the wonderful things that have been happening in the studio, after about a month, I started to miss the long term vision of working towards a big goal. I watched Matt training his heart out day after day for the Chicago Marathon and watched his hard work pay-off with an absolutely incredible 2:50 marathon (shaving nearly 7 minutes off his previous personal best). I was beyond proud of him, and so inspired.

IMG_00001186

And so I got kicking around a couple of ideas. What do I really WANT to achieve next year? What will mean the most to me? At this time next year, what do I want to be celebrating?

I’ll spare you the dramatics any longer: I’ve decided that my big goal for 2014 is going to be to complete a full Marathon.

*cue the fanfare*!!!

A couple of reasons why I chose the Marathon as my BHAG for 2014:

  1. I’m tired of being “half” an athlete. I’ve only ever really done “half” races in my short career, and I’m ready to drop the Half in front of my race names.
  2. I want to drop the whole “I’m not a distance athlete” label. About 50 times this year, I’ve corrected people saying “Oh I’m not really a runner”. Enough is enough; if I run a full marathon then I’m officially “a runner”. End debate here.
  3. The marathon is the ultimate pinnacle of endurance events. It’s the very last event of the entire Olympic Games each summer, and has the longest history of hard work and determination (Fun Fact Break: the first “marathon” was run by a Greek guy named Pheidippides who ran 42.2km from a battlefield near the town of Marathon back to Athens to deliver the message: “Niki!” (Victory!))
  4. I want to prove myself wrong. Even after 8 hours on the course at Muskoka, I’m still holding onto this dogged belief that there is no way in HELL I could ever complete a full marathon, with any amount of training.
  5. It scares the hell out of me. So I know I’m on the right track, and that I’m dreaming big enough.

With the BHAG set, the only thing left to do was to pick a race and put in place the stepping stones. I really enjoyed the Chilly Half Marathon last year, and Around the Bay holds a special place in my heart as well (ATB was the race that got me believing in myself last year. Until I finished that race, I didn’t think there was a chance in hell that I would even start the Half IronMan).

Around the Bay is scheduled for Sunday March 30th this year. That puts me running 30km by April 1st. I knew that I wanted about 6-8 weeks after Around the Bay to do another couple of long runs, and then start to taper off before the big race. So I was looking for a marathon mid-May to early June.

It turns out that there aren’t a whole pile of marathons in Ontario in May and June. The only two that I could find locally were early May (the Mississauga Marathon and the Toronto Marathon – both on the same weekend). A bit frustrated at the lack of options and the early time frame, I grudgingly decided to do the Mississauga Marathon.

2 days after making the decision, something just didn’t feel right. When I thought about the goal, nothing happened in my belly. Nothing came alive in me, I didn’t get excited or nervous or scared or anything. I went on the website, looked at the pictures, and tried to psych myself up…and nothing. Something was wrong. Matt says that the thing that was wrong was that it wasn’t expensive enough, but let’s ignore him, shall we? 😉

That night, as I was sitting in my brother’s hospital room trying to stay awake with my dad’s laptop (my brother and my dad both asleep in the room), I absently went online and started to do some more Google-ing (what a great verb, hey?) to see if I could find another option.

And there it was. Goosebumps, butterflies, heart racing, eyes wide. My race. My marathon.

The San Diego Rock ‘N Roll Marathon to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. June 1st 2014.

I knew instantly, I didn’t even have to think about it. Whatever it costs to get there, to stay in hotels, I don’t care (okay, maybe Matt was right). I don’t care if its $10,000 and it puts me in debt for the next 5 years. This is my race. This is the one that I was meant to do.

I know that I don’t need to tell you what the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society means to me and my family. My brother’s life is being saved as we speak thanks to a research grant that was granted to our hospital by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. If it weren’t for that grant, and for the research that is being done on haplo-identical stem cell transplants, my brother would not live to see his 25th birthday.

How the race and support for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society works is this:

1)  Every person that registers for the San Diego Rock ‘N Roll Marathon or Half Marathon will be asked on their registration form to donate $15 to the LLS (last year there were over 30,000 people registered for the marathon and half marathon, so even if only 50% of the people say yes, we’re talking about over $225,000!)

2)  Once you are registered, every participant will be automatically set up with a “Make Cures Happen” personal fundraising webpage where we will be able to raise additional funds for the LLS USA Chapter by collecting sponsors and pledges leading up to the race.

3)  Team in Training (the leader in endurance sports training for charity) will again be sending a huge contingency of athletes to San Diego to participate in the races and to raise funds independently and specifically for the LLS Canada Chapter. Since 1988, Team in Training has raised over 1.3 billion dollars for treatments saving the lives of blood cancer patients. That’s a lot of freaking money!!

More than just completing the marathon, I plan to join Team in Training, and I’ve set an aggressive fundraising goal of $5,000 for the race between my work, friends and family support, and some bigger corporate sponsorship options that I’m still in the process of looking into.

It’s important to note that the LLS is a worldwide organization, with chapters running in each country that it operates. Funds raised through the marathon registration will go to support the LLS USA Chapter, however I’ve been told that funds raised for any chapter worldwide will ultimately benefit everyone living with blood cancer, since they share research, knowledge and breakthroughs worldwide. My way of feeling a little bit closer to home is to support the USA chapter through my registration and donation for the race, and to support the Canadian Chapter by joining Team in Training.

And there she be! My BHAG for 2014! I seriously could not be more excited, I can’t wait to get started on my training and fundraising, and WE ARE GOING TO SAN DIEGO!!! WOOHOO!!!

San Diego

Here we go again…..;)

Before you head out for the day, I want to hear what your BHAG is for 2014?! What are you working towards?!

Have a great day everyone!!

Stepping Stones

I’ve started to write a post for Going the Distance about four times, and trailed off each time because I didn’t like the tone or the direction that I was headed in. I hope I’ve finally got it right this time.

The past month has been a bit surreal. My brother completed the lead-up therapy to get his stem cell transplant, got the cells transplanted on Friday October 18th and it’s been a total whirlwind ever since then. He’s managed to pick up a couple of infections which have made him really really sick, and have really scared the crap out of us. The good amazing news is that he seems to be doing okay for now, my cells have grafted and they seem to have most of his infections at least under control (although one really pesky one is still hanging around).

There have been some moments (although I’m really proud to say not too many of them) where I feel like all of this is just too much to handle. Ever since he’s been in the hospital, I’ve had this dream in my head of him walking around in normal clothes, walking out the front door of my parent’s house and closing the door noisily behind him like he always did, drinking beer at the casino….and then when I snap back to reality and see the actual state that he’s in right now, it just feels like we’ll never ever get there. It seems like a lifetime away.

Re-reading my Muskoka Race Recap post the other day (yes, I do that often, don’t judge!), I realized how simple the solution to the overwhelmed feeling was. Ever since then, I’ve felt a lot better about things. Re-reading what was going through my head while the race was going on reminded me how I absolutely, steadfastly refused to let myself picture the finish line of the race until I was within 1km away from it.

I remember countless times (hundreds, at least) during the race my mind would wander to the finish line and picture the celebration that would take place there, imagine what the first thing I would say to Matt was, think about the medal and the Finisher jacket and the food we were going to eat and all of that wonderful stuff. Each and every time that my mind went there, I consciously (and sternly) pushed it away, and kept my focus like a laser beam on the smaller goal that I had in front of me (usually to get to the next aid station).

I think sometimes by focusing too much on the ultimate BHAG, we can really make ourselves crazy. When I set the goal to complete the Half IronMan back in October 2012, thinking about myself completing a Half IronMan was about as fictional as the idea of going for a unicorn ride. It was ridiculous, impossible, and a world of time away.

Unicorn

Starting with little things like the Eggnog Jog, the Chilly Half Marathon and Around the Bay started to make at least the run part of the day seem like it was somewhat achievable. Swimming lengths in the pool (and touching old people inappropriately – remember that?) started to make the swim seem manageable. Biking with Neil on the May long weekend in Muskoka gave me some confidence on the bike.

Muskoka was always the ultimate goal, but along the way there were so many stepping stones to it for me to focus my efforts on.

Cancer seems to be no different.

The ultimate goal (or the “Muskoka”) in this case is for him to walk out of the hospital in regular clothes, come home and start to live a normal life again. But at this point in time, that goal is about as far off as Muskoka was for me back in October 2012. We still have so many smaller goals and stepping stones to achieve before we can even let ourselves picture that end-state.

The whole perspective shift has gotten me thinking about goals that we set in other areas of our lives. How many things are we setting ourselves up for failure on simply by getting overwhelmed with the magnitude of the end-state?

I’ve been beating myself up for the past year or more about my total inability to cook and get myself eating “real” food. When I picture in my head what my ideal end-state is, it involves me doing a bunch of meal-prep on Sundays, portioning out food so that it’s sitting neatly in the fridge in labeled, organized containers waiting for us at the end of each day, grocery shopping once a week and getting all the ingredients I need, taking cooking classes, making a recipe binder, buying better Tupperware and labels for it……..it’s totally overwhelming, and I usually get exhausted and stressed out just thinking about it and resort back to my old ways.

Maybe my first focus should just be on planning meals for the week. Forget the cooking classes and the meal-prep and the Tupperware and everything else.

I invite you to take a look at the way that you’ve been compartmentalizing those big goals that you have in your own life. Do you get bogged down and intimidated by the big picture? If you’re like me and the answer is yes, then give the staged approach a try and let me know how you make out. It’s made a world of difference for me.

 

Stepping Stones

On the topic of BHAGs and staged approaches, I’ve just about nailed down my big goal for 2014, and it’s a big one! I’ll be unveiling not only the goal itself, but the stepping stones along with it in my next post, so stay tuned!!

Have a fabulous weekend – work hard, play hard and don’t forget to stop and smell the roses 🙂