Marathon Number Three

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The results are in from yesterday’s Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon. The winner was Daniel Kipkoech with a time of 2:20:04. I was just 595 people and 1:38:36 behind him! I finished in three hours, 58 minutes, and 40 seconds, and I couldn’t be happier! Mr. Kipkoech may be twice as fast as me, but I beat my previous marathon time by 23 minutes and my first marathon time by a whopping 69 minutes!

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My 10K split time was 54:45; my halfway time was 1:57:38, and my 30K time was 2:47:29. My average kilometre time was 5:41 (which is 9:08 per mile).

I really didn’t think I could run that fast for 26.2 straight miles (42.2 kilometres)! I attribute my personal success to:

1. Experience: This being my third marathon, I knew what to expect in terms of both physical and mental exertion.

2. Consistent training: Except for a couple weeks off in June (beginning of my training with a lot of walking around European cities), a couple skipped runs around my wedding, and a week off for healing an injury, I faithfully followed my training schedule for five and a half months.

3. Yoga: I may have overdone it a bit on Friday, so my hip flexors were a little more sore than I would have liked them to have been for the race, but overall yoga is magical for strengthening and lengthening the leg muscles. I cannot overemphasize the importance, for me, of yoga for cross-training, healing, and mental training.

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Sirsasana I

4. Mindfulness: I truly believe that all this meditating I’ve been doing lately helped me run yesterday. I felt present, grateful, and focused. The toughest points in the race for me were between 24K and 38K. There is something about the 20-mile point that makes me cry like a baby. There’s a sense of panic that arises in the thick of the race, before I can start imagining the finish line. I needed something memorized to repeat as a I ran. Song lyrics get boring, and I often can only remember the chorus anyway. So I chanted a mantra that I learned in yoga teacher training. I probably repeated it to myself 25 times, and it made a huge difference in my resolve to keep my pace. I’m not saying that the mantra itself had powers to keep me going, but I can see a comparison between sages and monks meditating for four hours straight and me running for four hours straight; mantra can keep you going!

5. Carbohydrates: I think I may have underestimated the power of carbo-loading the week of a race. It’s not that I didn’t eat a lot of carbs before marathons 1 and 2, but this week, I made it a (very enjoyable) priority: a few more croissants than might typically be socially acceptable, pizza with my girlfriends, two pieces of toast instead of one for breakfast, and a serious amount of beans, potatoes, whole wheat bread and tortillas, rice, and dessert the day before! (My next post will be about the food we enjoyed in Victoria.)

6. Hydration: I carried water with me, and I drank either water or sports drink at every aid station. I only had to pee once and I only got a tiny little stitch in my side for a bit. Water matters! Electrolytes matter!

7. A Beautiful Course: Wow, seriously gorgeous. If you want a destination race, put this one high on your list. Victoria is quaint and surrounded by natural beauty. Having this race in mid-October is risky for rain, but luckily it held off yesterday. Autumn in the Pacific Northwest is something to savour for sure; the leaves are vibrant, the air is crisp, and the ocean breeze is fresh as ever.

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The Empress (photo by Sean)

Next up: A Weekend in Victoria — because I did more than run; I also ate and spent time with my husband and his mom and sister! Jenny ran her first half-marathon yesterday and kicked butt!

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me & my sister-in-law on the ferry back to Vancouver

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Do, But Don’t Overdo

I like to do stuff. A lot of stuff. All at the same time. To be honest, I don’t really know how to not be busy all the time. When I find myself with free time, I write an epic to-do list and then stress out if I can’t cross off every item efficiently. This is downright unintelligent and I need to stop.

I left yoga school early this afternoon because I wasn’t feeling well. Tomorrow is my 60-minute final practicum, which I’m feeling nervous about, and Sunday is my big race. I’m not saying it wasn’t the right decision to move to a new country, plan a wedding, get married, train for a marathon, go through a full-time-six-week-long yoga teacher training, and run those 42.2K in four hours and 15 minutes (<– that’s the goal)…all in about 12 weeks, but it really isn’t surprising that I’m not feeling so great this afternoon.

I’m tired. And while teacher training and all my running have helped me to centre myself and feel grounded, let’s face it — I’m not grounded. So in the next few months, while I intend to be productive and fully functioning, I want to stop glorifying the idea of being busy. When I have free time, I want it to feel that way — free. I want to read for pleasure, savour my food, and spend quality time with my husband, friends, and family.

I don’t think that I should train for another full marathon. While I love running, I think that the thrill of running great distances is starting to dwindle for me. It’s not surprising, for anyone who knows me well, that I will have run three marathons before running a half; I’m all-or-nothing. But I’ve heard there’s something in between..and I intend to embrace it!

The same goes with my diet. I was vegan for three years. Now I eat eggs and fish and butter and even some cheese sometimes. My concerns regarding the ethical treatment of animals and the ethical treatment of our environment are still very strong, so I want to remain mindful of where my food is coming from; but perhaps I don’t need to have a label. Or maybe I’ll just call myself a selective omnivore.

And with yoga. I love yoga, and I am so proud to [almost] be a certified yoga instructor. What I want to do with yoga right now, however, is to teach my friends in order to continue improving as an instructor and find a guru — well, at least an inspiring teacher with whom I stick with for a long time. And I want to keep up the practice of meditating daily. That’s it.

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I love this scene from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, when Paul Rudd’s character, the surf instructor, is telling Jason Segal’s character to “do less to do more”. It cracks me up.

I need to DO, but I don’t need to OVERDO.

How do you stay balanced? Help!

P.S. I found the image at the top on Pinterest, but I was unable to find the original source. I’d love to cite it if you know who designed it. The movie still is from http://brightlightsfilm.com/82/82-judd-apatow-geek-films-rom-com-analysis.php#.VDchHildVrw

Pizza in Gastown with Yoginis

Tonight I am grateful for the women in my life, particularly the yoginis with whom I’ve been spending all my days. Five of us decided that, despite having quite a bit of work to do for our Yoga Teacher Training, we all needed to eat dinner and so we may as well do so together! Our school is in Gastown in downtown Vancouver, which is a food mecca; we are absolutely spoiled for options. After passing on a few establishments, we chose Nicli Antica Pizzeria, and what an excellent choice this was!

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Nicli Antica Pizzeria
62 E. Cordova Street, Gastown

We each ordered a glass of wine (the house red and white are both $5 and quite delicious), shared the Insalata Verdi, split three pizzas among us, and finished by sharing tiramisu and a decadent slice of flourless chocolate cake with frangelico, figs, and chantilly cream.

Nicli’s makes their pizza in the authentic Neapolitan style (i.e., at a blazing 900 degrees Fahrenheit in a wood-fired oven), their staff are genuine and friendly, and the atmosphere is sophisticated but unpretentious. We were very impressed by the quality of the food served to us tonight, from the freshness of the seasonal vegetables on our salad to the impossible thinness of the pies (with puffy, crispy, flavourful crusts), and the richness of the desserts. They frequently receive brilliant accolades, and now we’re among their most satisfied critics.

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My day started out with the dream of a truly good pizza, probably because my parents called from Naples this morning to brag about the cuisine they’ve been enjoying there! Nicli’s helped me feel as close to Naples as I’ve ever been; I’d like to think I’m sharing a bit of my parents’ authentic experience!

Cheers to my girlfriends, good wine, excellent pizza, chocolate, and the yoga that unites us!

Zesting Up Some Cookies

OK I realize that just a few days ago I wrote about breaking up with sugar, but I believe I also left in a clause about the completely appropriate and moderate indulgence. And having an exotic ingredient is a good excuse to experiment with desserts!

I have been playing around with this lovely product from Croatia that my sister-in-law got us while vacationing there in June. It’s called Susene I Mljevene Korice Limuna I Narance, which Google Translate tells me means “Dried and Grated Lemon & Orange Zest”. I used it in two cookie recipes, and they both turned out delicious. Of course, if you don’t have Croatian dried and grated limuna i narance, you may use fresh zests.

croatia[Vis, Croatia, AKA Paradise; photo by Jenny Bourne]

For a gluten-free and not-too-much-refined-sugar treat, try this Almond Crispies (which should have Honey in the name) recipe from Bob’s Red Mill. I skipped the almonds because I didn’t want the crunchiness and added my zest.

And for a petite wheat-and-powdered-sugar delight, add some zest to this recipe for Earl Grey Shortbread from Claire Robinson at Food Network. (And heed her advice — use loose leaf tea; it truly makes a difference!)

Thanks, JB, for the zest and the gorgeous photo!

Suddenly Feeling Like Teachers

Today marks the end of week four of my yoga teacher training. The last 20 days have been full of meditating, breathing, practicing, learning (teaching methods, anatomy, history, philosophy, Sanskrit, pre-natal yoga, business of yoga, and more!), self-discovering, and teaching. My 25 classmates and I have now taught several individual poses, a solo 30-minute practice, and a 60-minute practice as a group of six or seven.

We’re starting to feel like maybe, just maybe, we’ll actually be able to teach yoga in two weeks’ time. This is an exciting time, and I feel very fortunate to be going through it with such an inspiring and creative group of people.

This is also a time to reflect on my teachers who have brought me to this point. Readers, I don’t know where all of you are in the world, but if you ever get the chance to do some hatha yoga in Pleasanton, San Jose, Los Gatos, Thailand, or the Vancouver area, check these folks out!

Pleasanton, CA
*Kate Coughlin

San Jose/Los Gatos, CA
*Veronica Cruz 

*Prajna Veira

*Noell Clark

*Kelly Haller

*Amanda Amburgey

*Lirio Ohlson

*Joan Chanpong

Thailand
*Cerissa @ Yoga Elements in Bangkok

*Lae Ti in Hua Hin

South Surrey, BC
*Lauren Roegele

 Teachers, thank you for sharing your wisdom and your practice with me.

Namaste!

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An [Outdated] List of My Favourite TED Talks

I made this list three years ago, and I realize today that all of these TED Talks made enough of an impression on me that I still remember them vividly. Enjoy them, and PLEASE add your favourites in the Comments section — I’m way behind!

Sarah Kay — poet & educator
beautiful poetry by an inspiring young educator
http://www.ted.com/talks/sarah_kay_if_i_should_have_a_daughter.html

Malcolm Gladwell — sociologist & author
a fun, insightful, and statistical look at how we make choices
http://www.ted.com/talks/malcolm_gladwell_on_spaghetti_sauce.html

Adora Svitak — child (now teenager) with a lot to say
about the value of children’s voices
http://www.ted.com/talks/adora_svitak.html

Naturally 7 — incredible acapella/beat-boxing group
awesome musical performance
http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/naturally_7_jams_fly_baby_with_an_orchestra_of_vocals.html

Jamie Oliver — cook & nutrition activist
the “Naked Chef” discusses his ambitious Food Project 
http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/jamie_oliver.html

Dave Eggers — author & creator of an awesome after-school program
826 brings literacy to inner-city kids in a creative & inspiring way
http://www.ted.com/talks/dave_eggers_makes_his_ted_prize_wish_once_upon_a_school.html

Isabel Allende — author & poet
a beautiful talk by a passionate writer
http://www.ted.com/talks/isabel_allende_tells_tales_of_passion.html

Ken Robinson — author, speaker, & education advocate
a critical look at how schools are discouraging creative expression
http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity

Elizabeth Gilbert — author & speaker
an inspiring talk about creativity by the author of Eat, Pray, Love
http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius?language=en

Nellie McKay — singer/songwriter & activist
an adorable yet profound performance by a feminist singer
https://www.ted.com/talks/nellie_mckay_sings_feminists_and_if_i_had_you