Looking back: Why we need to love who we were

In starting teachers college, I’ve done some looking back on my social media and internet presence to make sure that my digital self is not doing anything that a teacher ought not to do. I’m kind of the one who’s always arguing for safety first and going home from parties early, so there wasn’t too much fear that I’d find anything I need to hide.

In the process, I started to come across photos of myself over the years. One of the things I noticed was the way I would look at some pictures and want to judge my body in them. When I started to think about it, I tried to be compassionate. That girl—whether she was big or small, smiling or pretending to smile—is part of who I am today. It is hard when I look back to not be a little upset with myself—How could I starve myself? And how could I binge and purge? And what would my life be like if I hadn’t spent so long hating and abusing my body? What would I be doing? How would my body be now? The questions could go on for days.

But I know that there’s power in acceptance. I know that I cannot go back and change things. And I also know that just as I encourage my personal training clients not to look at their “before” photos and beat themselves up or feel bad about them, the person we were years ago, 6 months ago, or at the start of our journeys is the person who made us into who we are today.

remember where you come from

Anyone who has gone through a recovery process or who has undergone some kind of transformation (from an eating disorder, around their weight, through an addiction) should give some credit to who they were in the throes of their issues. It was that person who found the strength, the motivation, and the means to start the process of becoming who we are now and who we will be in the future.

suffering start

Looking back and feeling ashamed is a disservice to who you are now. We have to be okay with where we’ve been, and I argue that we have to be proud of who we were then just as much as we ought to be proud of where we are now—on whatever journey we might be on.

love yourself as if

A Pinterest-perfect body: thinking twice about “trouble spots”

My increasing tendency to spend my downtime on pinterest has led me to notice a lot of pins, especially as I look at fitness-related motivation, dedicated towards certain body parts and how to make them look a certain way. Like the magazine headlines that say “A Perkier Butt in 7 Minutes a Day,” I don’t think the routines will do the trick. But even worse, I have noticed the way in which bodies are literally turned into objects—butts, arms, shoulders, abs—to go along with these routines.

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 3.42.38 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 3.42.46 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 3.42.52 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 3.42.58 PM

We talk about the objectification of women’s bodies, and this is an example, I’d say. We’re taking this part of a woman’s body and we’re focusing on it, removing it from context and personality. We’re also contributing to something that we take for granted sometimes—this idea that we can pick and choose how we want our body to look in sections and then achieve it through our own hard work.

When I work with personal training clients, I sometimes get the questions about “what am I working now?” and I sometimes have a sense of if the person is concerned with “toning” or afraid of “bulking up” or asking because they want to know about the functionality of what we’re doing. I really try to answer questions about how to tone a certain body part gently and not hold people at fault if they want to have tank top arms. But I hope that people know that just because things like Pinterest make it easier than ever to take for granted that every part of your body can be molded and shaped until you have the most ideal of all the ideal bodies doesn’t mean that it’s realistic or even possible.

When you think about the insane notion that you should perfect every part of your body to match the idea in your head or in the media that you see of what is defined as perfect for each region as insane, you might feel a range of things. Maybe you’re defeated—what’s the point, then? I’d argue there’s lots of points: aesthetics in general, the health benefits of working out, the functional benefits of moving your body, the sense of accomplishment and self esteem you can get from participating in physical activity, to name a few. Or maybe it feels like a relief—the pressure is off and you can be a little more appreciative of the awesome body you’ve got. Those “trouble spots” you were so concerned about before won’t hold you back if you let yourself let go of the perfectionism around our bodies that’s easy to buy into.

I hope that this post leaves you thinking, and I of course hope that you are a little gentler on yourself. Lots of people have one body part that they just can’t seem to “fix.” Our body parts are not mistakes, and this idea that if we try harder or find the perfect routine just sustains our insecurities—and keeps the people who benefit from them in power. Let’s learn to love our bodies as a whole, appreciating all of the parts. My friends over at Fit is a Feminist Issue shared this photo on their facebook page (which is always filled with interesting things to check out, I might add), and I think it is a perfect way to leave you thinking:

worth loving

Does this resonate with you at all?
Do you focus on specific body flaws? 

Try to look on the bright side–friends, pinterest, and being hurt

One of the things I love about fitness is that it brings us together with people we might not have otherwise met. Last year at CrossFit, I met my friend Katie, who has been through many miles and Clif bars with me since. Even though we met at the gym, we realized that we are both the kind of person who wants to run to and from the CrossFit workout and who thinks the seat of a bicycle is a fine spot to spend a Saturday. Katie is always giving me someone to chase and her first Ironman this year kept me believing in my first half Ironman–and her advice got me through a lot of the things I am not sure I would have thought of along the way!

Now, a little cranky with my slow comeback from my back injury last month (I dropped a barbell on my back–the side, down low–which has affected my leg if I try to run, then my back when I did a little too much yoga, maybe, and now is giving me pins and needles at school when I sit for long stretches, and is generally keeping me from being as active as I normally am), Katie has proven to have a little life coach in her too. I didn’t ask her if I could share the text she sent me last night to cheer me up, but she is generally one of the most encouraging folks I know, so the world needs this and I’m sure she’ll understand:

“I think your injury might be getting you down. So I decided to make you a list of benefits of being injured. I’m sure you’ll consider yourself lucky after reading it.:

1) A perfect manicure lasting two weeks!
2) Hair that looks great 2 and maybe even 3 days after a wash
3) Callus free hands (see above perfect manicure)
4) Less time spent doing laundry!!
5) A chance to wear your ‘real clothes’ not just your latest lulu’s.
6) Less time showering and training = more time to spend with people you love!

And the best part of all…building up the desire and drive to train your way through the winter into next season!”

It was too good not to share, and it definitely got me out of my little pity party. Of course I still want to be training, but I remember again that the reason I train is not because my worth depends on it–but because it makes me feel good! Right now, it doesn’t. So it’s time to rest. It’s simple, even if it’s not easy.

Beyond Katie’s sweet text message, I also have been turning to pinterest during my breaks that might otherwise have been filled with workouts. Here are some of the fruits of my labour, specific to injuries and staying positive. I’ll leave out the ones of chocolately peanut buttery goodies or outfits that also seem to lure me in!

gym cute injury

truth lion injury

bulldog adorable


positive pants

I will never be happy for an injury, but at least I can take Katie’s advice and try to find my positive pants every day! Yay for the interwebs, but more importantly, yay for friends.

What helps you get through injuries?
How do you stay positive when you’re feeling down about something?

Body image: Normal is overrated, but what’s the alternative?

Working as a personal trainer, being a girl, reading books about body image–all of these things remind me that women hate their bodies. We try to fix them with diets and exercise programs. We tell ourselves that this is the last one–we’ll be so dedicated. Then we tell ourselves that we didn’t fail, the diet failed. We go in these circles. We deprive and we binge. We let our body image consume us. It’s normal.

But that doesn’t mean it’s okay. Is the answer giving up dieting? Is society going to change the emphasis on our appearance any time soon? What’s the solution? These are the questions that keep me up at night, or entertained when I should be studying.

Another big one is this: is it just up to women to change the way we think? To be honest, I see this as a form of blaming women. It’s not because of us and only us that we think and act the way we do. Before you start thinking that I’m evading responsibility, think about the messages we get about our bodies, and increasingly about our body image. They’re designed to make us feel like we’re not good enough. Is your body less than perfect? Well that’s your fault, and all you need to do is to work on it. But wait, our bodies aren’t supposed to be perfect! So you better work on the notion you have in your brain that they could be because that’s wrong and it’s also your fault. There’s a slim chance of us winning when the messages we get about our bodies and about our body image contradict each other—and put all of the onus on us as women to figure it out—and to look good, and be happy while we do it.

Having a body sucks, it seems. But it doesn’t have to—and I don’t think it should. We are not stuck with a bunch of flawed elements that encompass our physical selves—we have these vessels to let us live our lives. Taking care of our health does NOT have to be about perfecting our bodies, but can be about helping us live more full lives. Deciding to treat them with respect does not have to be about beating up the part of us that has gotten sucked into body hate, but can be about realizing that at the end of the day, our own opinion of ourselves is the one that matters—and that how we look is just a little part of who we are. What do you want to do with your life? I won’t beat you up if you answer me, “get six pack abs,” but I will encourage you to think about what there is in this world besides your own body. What do you want to see? Who do you want to be? What kinds of memories do you want to make? These are the questions that spark conversations a little more vulnerable than discussing the macros you’re eating this month or the food you’re cutting out on your latest detox, so yeah, they feel “weird.” But weird can be good, especially when normal—diet talk, bonding over hating our bodies, coming together through starving and shaming ourselves—is so messed up.

I would challenge you to go through a day without talking about weight, or diet, or transforming your body. See if you find yourself struggling with things to talk about. Start a conversation with someone about the weather, or where they went on their last vacation, or what they like to do on Sunday afternoons. Read a book that has nothing to do with health but is purely for your own enjoyment. Your life’s work does not have to be your body. I sometimes feel like we live in a world that thinks that if we do everything perfectly, our bodies will never fail us. That’s just not true, as comforting as the thought that we can save ourselves might be. Yes, we ought to take care of ourselves, but we will run out of time here sooner or later. I plan on doing my best to take good care of myself, but I’ve also tried to draw a line between obsession and dedication, or perhaps more accurately between trying to preserve myself and living.

for blog

Do you worry about your body?
Do you about worrying about your body?
Any ideas?


Turning to Dr. Google: On sane self-diagnosis

I have a (kind of bad) habit of self-diagnosing on google. Lately, my searches have included things related to my back injury (from dropping a barbell on it in August), to the (likely associated) IT band pain I’ve been having when I try to run, to exercise-induced asthma and bronchitis, to obsessive compulsive disorder. There’s something in me that wants to find an answer.

doctor google

I can remember vividly the kind of comfort I felt when I came across websites about the Female Athlete Triad. According to good old Wikipedia, this is “a syndrome in which eating disorders (or low energy availability), amenhorrhoea/oligomenorrhoa, and decreased bone mineral density (osteoporosis and osteopenia) are present. …[T]his condition is seen in females participating in sports that emphasize leanness or low body weight.” At the time, I was not having a period, I was pretty light, and I had received DEXA results that said my bones were not where they should be for a girl my age. I fit the bill—and I was so glad to have something outside of me.

It’s not my fault.

That’s the thought that I had.

There’s nothing wrong with seeking comfort from knowing that it’s not your fault, but with things like my eating disorder–where it remains tough to know what was biology and what was going on with my own choices—I think it’s worth noting that not being at fault and not being able to help it are very different.

With this week’s searches, I think I was looking for relief. From the guilt of worrying that I’m being a pansy with my leg pain, or that I’m too anxious—from things that I bring onto myself. I want it to be outside of me, even though at the end of the day, the problem doesn’t go away with the addition of a label. When I realized I had that Female Athlete Triad, it wasn’t like there was a pill to make it disappear. In the end, the shifts happened when I tackled what I could with the support of others. It required taking responsibility, which can be hard when we’re convinced that we aren’t at fault.

That self-diagnosis represents a relief.

It’s not our fault.

We have a condition, outside of us.

Does this mean that the responsibility is removed?


So, if I have a certain condition, I try to think, What caused it in the first place? What can I do to fix it? With the triad example, it was my eating disorder. And with my eating disorder, there were a lot of factors—many of which were up to me to choose differently around. Later, I turned to “adrenal fatigue” to make myself feel better for running myself into the ground. Solution? Take the stress off of my body, little by little–whether the condition existed or not. Basically: Slow. Down. Via different choices.

Knowing this, I still get sucked into the interwebs when I’m not feeling great about something going on with my body. I hope that if you’re a googler like me, you can notice what you’re after when you start turning to Dr. Google to make you feel better. My leg hurts when I run—knowing the name given to the pain I’m experiencing is less important than taking a break and coming back to it with a game plan to run pain free. I’m noticing some weird coping tendencies and some extra anxiety—whether or not this is clinical matters a whole lot less than dealing with what’s driving me to them. Etc. etc. etc.

All of this being said, I don’t want to discount the way that knowing that we aren’t entirely at fault when it comes to our health is not a bad thing. Back to that eating disorder—knowing that I had power but was not to blame was what let me take charge and decide to recover—and kept me going when the going got tough. I say we use our labels to make informed choices, not to let us off the hook or as some strange form of comfort that stops us from taking the best care of ourselves.

ek care

Do you self-diagnose on google?
Do you feel better knowing that you “have” something?

Forced to pause: What I’ve been doing with myself–and my body

Since my race in July, I’ve been pretty quiet about what I’ve been up to. That’s largely because it hasn’t been much. Sad face.

About a month ago, I was going through a regular ol’ weightlifting workout at the gym. I was on my own and I’d just finished training some clients and having woken up early, I was feeling pretty tired but nothing too out of the ordinary for a morning training session. I did a couple of snatches after a normal warm up and I ended up dropping the bar behind me and not bailing quick enough. So, the bar landed on my lower back (off to the side) and since then, I’ve been dealing with it.

The first two weeks were tough and even though I tried, my body yelled at me to back off. Lifting weights was definitely out of the question, but I thought yoga might be alright. Turns out, nope. After a while, I started to go to yoga and take it at an easy pace. I tried some runs and realized they were out. I went to the pool and avoided looking at the clock in favour of appreciating that I could move.

Like I said, it’s been about a month. I went on my first bike ride last week, and it nearly killed me. I took a few more days off. I started to do some light weights, avoiding things that hurt me. I tried biking again—success. My runs have created some kind of hamstring, or maybe IT band pain that is all new for me. Ohhhhh, left side of my body, how you test me!

I’ve been impressed with my ability not to freak out over this. I had the week leading up to my thesis defence without the normal outlet/distraction of working out to keep me from freaking out, and I think I was more prepared for it. And as I’ve come back to my activities, I’ve realized which ones make me feel good. I missed riding bikes with friends. I think I needed a break after my half ironman in July, and I didn’t take it – I went right back into it and raced (not so hotly) at Bluewater two weeks later. Maybe some higher power dropped this barbell on my back like he was trying to hit “pause” for me—the button just needed a pretty hefty push, apparently!

slow down

For now, I’m focusing on being grateful when I feel good and being patient when I don’t. I know in the past, I was compulsive about exercise and would have lost my marbles—for the first two weeks, I did less moving than I had in a normal week during training for my half, and I had to work as a personal trainer and watch my clients all killin’ it on a daily basis!

Now I’m feeling a little lost. I had plans to run a big trail run in mid-October, but running hurts the most right now. I thought about training for my Olympic Weightlifting debut, but I’m obviously a little discouraged there. I think for the first time, I’m going to give myself a break from trying to peak for anything in particular. Sure I have goals—10 chin-ups, anyone? (I’m at six)—and some events that I would like to do—bike rides in the fall are my favourite—but it might be nice to just “work out” for a little in the meantime instead of always feeling like I should be training my face off. I’ve written before about how exercise should improve the quality of our lives and how health ought to be a platform for us to live our best lives from, not the sole focus of our lives—and remembering that has gotten me through all of this! I am however glad to be able to bike myself to school, which started today (yahoo!).

biking to school

I write this because it’s part of a long journey from not being able to take a rest day on vacation without losing my mind or bingeing to realizing that I can rest—and should rest! I’ve seen that my appetite matches my activity level, that I don’t immediately get out of shape or look like a different person if I take some time off, and that I can release stress in other ways. I’ve had some time to think about what I want to do with myself and my body and to start considering what will make me feel like I’ve spent my time, energy, and money on the best options. I have realized how lucky I am to still be able to do things and that this too shall pass (as always). It could have been so much worse. I am not fragile, and I will come back stronger. I’m looking forward to my next comeback, whatever it’s back to…


Have you had an injury that took you out of commission for a little?
Did you learn anything from being injured?
What are you focusing on this fall?
What do you like to do besides train?

Health as an enigma: why I think we all need to define what “health” is really about

My sister recently bought a house in Windsor, which is just far enough away by car to require a podcast en route. Last time I drove down, I listened to one from “Office Hours” (a favourite of my nerdy side!) where they interviewed Ellen Berrey about her book, The Enigma of Diversity: The Language of Race and the Limits of Racial Justice. I am not particularly well-versed in this area, but she did speak the language of sociology and as she talked about the way that the word “diversity is a hallowed American value, widely shared and honored,” I couldn’t help but think of my own work and the way that the concept of health has come to be taken for granted as universally worth pursuing, without critically considering even the definition of it. Her discussion about the way that the idealization of diversity can actually obscure real inequalities again got me thinking about the way that we idealize health—and particularly the appearance of it. Very rarely do we sit down and define what “healthy” really means to us.


I couldn’t help but think of some of the people I’ve met who will do extreme things in the name of health—cutting out all carbs, going on extreme diets, running themselves ragged, spending tons of money to lose weight, etc. I see it all the time in my personal life but also as a personal trainer and a professional in the world of health and fitness. Unfortunately, I often see this turn into a slippery slope. My own experience with taking the pursuit of thinness in the name of health too far and straying into disordered eating territory is just one example of the way that trying to be “healthy” can actually compromise that which we’re after in the first place.

Why is this important? In a world where we see all kinds of images offered up as “healthy” (search that hashtag on instagram, for starters), it is more important than ever to be careful not to unquestioningly assume that “health” is defined in a way that fits with us or that serves us. When I was underweight, the natural association between losing weight and getting healthy proved false—just one example of how “health” is not a one-size-fits-all concept. Consider this: with “health” held as an unquestionably worthy pursuit, the association between a thinner body and a healthier body can drive people to do things that are perhaps unhealthy (going on starvation diets, taking diet pills, etc. come to mind), albeit in the name of health. In my humble opinion, I say we get honest about it: it’s not about your health if it’s driving you insane mentally or compromising your quality of life in the process. If we talk about it as being about our health, we’re contributing to that “enigma.”

You eat whole foods and you have a happy relationship with your body, you move it in ways that feel good, but if you don’t look like the images of health offered up in the media, are you actually unhealthy? If you’re, dare I say it, “overweight” by some chart’s standards, are you shit out of luck when it comes to embodying a healthy subjectivity? I don’t think so, but I do think we need to talk about this stuff more (hence this blog). When the images we see of health are all of a narrow range of body types, and when the fitness models on the cover of fitness magazines engage in arguably unhealthy pursuits (cutting out water for photo shoots, engaging in restrictive dieting, etc.), then it’s easy to get confused—so take it easy on yourself. I don’t see the magazines and marketing gurus out there likely opening up the images of fit bodies to encompass all of those that really can be considered fit any time soon, but I do see blogs, social media, etc. as avenues for us to start to open up the definition of “health” to be more realistic and more based on what’s right for each and every one of us. I did just that on this blog not too long ago, and I have been doing my best to come back to that when I get down on myself or my body.

Cheers to blogging!

Do you consider yourself “healthy”?
Have you ever taken the time to define what “healthy” means to you?
What are the parameters you set for yourself when it comes to being “healthy”?

Bulky but Still Beautiful: Representations of Healthy Femininity in the CrossFit Narrative

The end of summer has come, and the quiet blog is testament to how much of a whirlwind it’s been. Between my half Ironman debut, defending my thesis, and starting a new gig at Hybrid Fitness Centre, I’ve had a pretty amazing summer, I’d say. I’ll leave the part about how I dropped a barbell on myself (a wakeup call, perhaps?) out of it and just say that while I’m sad to see summer come to what feels like a quick close, I’m excited for what fall has in store: teacher’s college, working at the gym, and gearing up for some updates to my services–coaching stuff–that I’m anxious to share with you all soon!

But in the meantime, I’m going to share my thesis. The link is live, and so far I’ve had 52 downloads according to the email that came my way earlier this week! I’d like to see the fruits of my labour over two years of my life read by a few more sets of eyes, so if you’re interested in sociology, health, the body, body image, CrossFit, femininity, etc. then do me a favour and take a looksie–it’s available through Western for download.

Here’s my abstract to whet your appetite:

“Positioned in the area of feminist cultural studies, this thesis examines representations of femininity, fitness, and health in four key publications related to the fitness programs offered by the CrossFit™ Corporation. A critical discourse-analytical methodology is used to deconstruct notions of fit femininity in the CrossFit narrative. I argue that themes on femininity reflect contemporary healthist ideologies that promote concerns for health as an individual, moral responsibility, and normalize entrenched notions of the female body as a project to be managed. Drawing on the language of feminine empowerment, the CrossFit narrative constructs the ideal female body as one with increased muscularity and functional abilities, while also offering up a singular feminine ideal that reproduces ideological views sustaining unequal gender relations. An overarching dominant theme of the CrossFit narrative stipulating a need for constant improvement, anchors a discursive effect promoting continual consumption and self-monitoring of, and for, health.

Keywords: CrossFit, Gender, Femininity, Critical Discourse Analysis, Consumerism, Healthism”

…enjoy! I’d love to hear some of your feedback in the comments. I may be done this Masters, but I hope that this is just starting the discussion.

some sort of idea

Do you have any thoughts on CrossFit media?
Have you ever done a CDA? 
Have you written a thesis? 


Worth it: Musselman and my half ironman debut

I always seem to procrastinate on post-race write-ups, but I have decided that the longer I wait, the less likely I’ll do the event justice! If you’ve been around me in the last couple weeks, you’ll know I’ve been gearing up for my half ironman debut at Musselman.


I chose this race because:

  • It has a cute mascot – the zebra mussel!
  • In 2011, my first year in triathlon, a woman at the local pool was raving about her experience at Musselman. She said that if I was ever to do a half, I should do this as my first—it’s very friendly to first-timers.
  • My locker neighbor at the rec centre (who KILLED IT on the weekend!) signed up and peer-pressured me into it. …Just kidding, she asked me politely and encouraged me, though!
  • Instead of doing a 70.3 (aka Ironman-branded) race, I wanted to avoid the tri-hards (and pay a little less to enter as a bonus, though I got my registration gifted to me by the awesome owners of the spin studio I work at!).
  • I could drive there!

As the week went on, I got more and more nervous for the weekend. First there was rain in the forecast, and then I rolled my ankle out for a walk with Brent. I am a really clumsy person, but I had all of these scenarios (and contingency plans) in my head of things that could go wrong: rolling my ankle was not one of them. Luckily a little physio and a visit to the chiropractor (because better safe than sorry) helped me to rest assured that I would be okay to run, even if it hurt, just knowing that I was doing my recovery a disservice if I chose to! I had some encouragement from some of the women I look up to in the sport (like Angela, who I thought of lots during my race for inspiration!). I had some athletic tape packed and I put my mind to it and got myself all ready.

I felt a little frantic running around town buying gels and bars and water bottles I wouldn’t mind tossing, etc. My friend Katie was a life saver along with Angela and all the other people I asked for advice. My coaches (for swim, Balance Point Triathlon with Gabbi and of course my coach Chris Helwig) gave me a lot of encouragement and of course advice. I got a card from the people I swim with and it made me feel so much more excited—such a simple gesture but also greatly appreciated! I finally had my things together and hit the road! I was going to do a quick swim because with the ankle situation I was feeling a bit sluggish, but the pool was closed so I just went for it.


Packing light is not something I know how to do!

Taped up and ready to leave!

Taped up and ready to leave!

I drove down to Geneva on Friday afternoon. It’s about a 4.5 hour drive, plus whatever the border adds, which in my case was just less than an hour! I got there in time to pick up my key to get into the “Athlete’s Village,” where I booked a room for less than 50$/night. It was in an old college there, which meant no air conditioning but my friend advised me to pack a fan and it really wasn’t so bad. I also made it to the grocery store to grab some things and ate my last vegetables before the race (tapers are hard, not eating like normal is hard) along with my first big ol’ dose of pasta! I got a pretty good night’s sleep on Friday and then on Saturday I was up early enough to drive to course and head down to the site of the event to watch the “Mini Mussel,” a sprint triathlon, finish.

athletes village

I got lost a lot on the drive, but the course was beautiful and looked like a pretty moderate ride – not many hills I’d be avoiding if I was at home, but water so I was anticipating some wind. I got more and more excited as the day went on, and my ankle was bugging me less and less. I met up with one of the women from London, Jennifer, and watched her husband cross the finish line of the sprint tri (he’s training for an ironman and is twice as crazy as I am). She did her first half not too long ago and was super encouraging, even though we were both pretty nervous! Her son did the kids’ race on Friday—talk about a family affair!

Here I am with Jennifer after her husband, Mike, crossed the finish line!

Here I am with Jennifer after her husband, Mike, crossed the finish line!

We had a pre-race meeting on Saturday afternoon, but in between I rode my bike a bit (felt slow but good) and jogged around the campus a bit to prove to myself that I would be fine with my ankle. I also made it to the outlet malls about 15 miles from Geneva, which was a welcome distraction and let me get a visor that I was grateful for on Sunday! The meeting gave me butterflies. As I sat with Jenn and Ileana, the friend who roped me into this in the first place (:)!), I could feel us all getting more excited and nervous. I did have lots of my questions answered, though!

A snap from my bike ride on Saturday.

A snap from my bike ride on Saturday.

Ileana and I went to the pre-race pasta dinner, which was small but nice. We made friends with some people from Connecticut and also met up with some more people from London, who we don’t train with but were sure we recognized! Both of these couples were encouraging the day before, at the race in the morning, and post-race, of course! Triathletes are so friendly. We racked our bikes the night before, which was new for me, but nice since it was less to carry on the long trek from parking to the transition area Sunday morning.

Besides a little freak out before bed, which Brent had to put up with but also helped me with, I had a good evening preparing myself mentally and trying to get to sleep early. I probably got about 6 hours of sleep before my 4:25am wake up call. I managed to get some coffee and oatmeal with peanut butter and banana in before heading to the park. I drank Gatorade and chatted as I got ready for the race. There were lots of first timers, which made me feel better.

I did basically 0 warm-up, though I did hop in the water and get myself ready. We went in waves, with the gals 25-39 going second (after the young bucks). My goal was not to get caught by the ladies I was with – Jenn and Ileana and Pam, who is in her 60s but KILLED it and got second in her age category! By the time the national anthem was sung and we were getting shuffled into the water for the start (waist-deep), I felt ready to go!

Looking a little nervous..and trying to find the buoys!

Looking a little nervous..and trying to find the buoys!

pre race

Swim – 1.2 miles – 41:31 (1:59/100m)

The swim course was good for me. The buoys (doritos and cheese balls, in my head) were large and I could see them with the light just fine! I didn’t get too off course, and the waves don’t bother me as much as they do other people. I swam most of the way with one other pink capped gal, who breast stroked a lot for someone keeping up with me while I was swimming along steadily, but whatever! Some of the next wave (or two) caught us, but I ended up with an average pace faster than a lot of my shorter races. I liked starting in the bigger lake and then heading into the canal, where it was harder to swim off course. The swim training must have paid off a little. I think my new wetsuit and going to open water practices with Gabbi made a big impact, too! I was 10/25 in my age category, which makes me feel pretty good too! I peed in my wetsuit, yes, and I hope I left the water smiling because the worst part was over in my head.

Bike – 56 miles, 3:05:30 (29.1km/h average)

I wanted to bike in 3 hours really badly, but I am more of a 29 averager I guess these days. I used to have in my head that anything below 30km/h was not very fast, but I’m happy with this time. I was 5th in my age category for this leg of the race and not that many women passed me. It was windier than I thought it was going to be and I pulled over once to check my tire because I thought it was rubbing. I am NOT good at grabbing water bottles, and I definitely underdrank and did not eat enough – one gel, one pack of shot blocks, and most of a clif bar with two bottles. I felt okay though. There was one gravelly stretch, but I really enjoyed this bike course, which went along two coastlines and was relatively flat. There was one hill, and I passed a lot of people on it! Go me.

Run – 13.1 miles 2:04:43 (5:56/km average)

The run was HAWT, but there were sponges, kids with hoses on their front yards, and aid stations at every mile to help my case. My ankle not hurting kept me happy enough to ignore all the other pain I was in from running up hills and from a blister I got on my other foot. It’s all minor. I walked through each aid station and drank a mix of water, hose water, Gatorade, etc. I ate a few shot blocks but probably could have had more as I was hungry by the end. I was conservative at first and ran just over 6 minute km, which I tried to make shorter as I got further along. I walked up 2 hills but otherwise chugged along just fine. I was so happy to be doing it and realizing that I was going to finish made me feel like I could go a little faster, so I did. I got passed by a few people at the beginning, mostly men, but I passed some myself. I was 11th in my age category on this part. With the walk breaks, I still managed to finish in a respectable time, in my opinion, and I knew a few miles before the finish that I could make it in less than 6 hours (my private goal, with my out-loud goal being to finish between 6 and 6 and a half hours), so I had plenty of reason to kick it up a notch. I almost teared up when I saw the finish line, but I managed to cross the line with what I hope was a smile (or at least a grimace). My only regret? Not putting my hands up for a finishing photo (which you can check out, with the others, here!).

My total time was 5:58:10. I did it! I don’t ever have to do another one, but I probably will. My interwebs history would show that I’ve already researched other races. I was 8th in my age category out of 25, and in the top 50 of over 200 women. That made my ego happy, but I was just feeling proud of myself for achieving my goal, regardless of what other people did! And as for a full Ironman, maybe before I’m 30 seems like a goal that’s far enough away to seem realistic but pressing enough to keep me planning on continuing to train, albeit a little less, for this sport! I’ve got a new gig working as a Personal Trainer / Coach at Hybrid, which I am the most excited about. I know that being in that environment keeps me excited about all the strength sports (weightlifting, powerlifting, CrossFit, even Strongman) that are out there, and keeps me training for health and well-being, which is so important! I have been putting the two together personally and I know lots of members with triathlon on their bucket list or who have asked me questions about endurance stuff so I’m really glad to be working there now! With teacher’s college in the fall, my schedule obviously has less time for mid-afternoon bike rides or for long workouts on Tuesday (love grad school for that), but I know I can find a balance that will of course look different from these past few years but that will hopefully leave me racing, healthy, and happy!

...happy about something!

…happy about something!

pam winner!

Pam placing second in her age group!

Ileana on the top of the podium for her age group! She won wine and intimidated the third place woman, it seems!

Ileana on the top of the podium for her age group! She won wine and intimidated the third place woman, it seems!

As for the rest of the summer, I don’t have a plan. I am registered for Vulture Bait (a 25km trail run in October) but have decided I’m on the fence about keeping up the long distances. I’m feeling run down, but I know I need to give my body a chance to recuperate before I make any decisions. I’ll be making an appearance at the triathlon in my hometown, Bluewater, in two weeks, and hope to do something else later in the summer! Some bike touring and workouts with friends for fun sound like a good way to use this fitness I’ve got.

Speaking of recuperating, since I did an admittedly bad job of eating and drinking on the bike, I felt like a whole lot of crap on Sunday afternoon. I finally stopped rolling around and feeling sorry for myself late afternoon and drank some water and some Nuun from Ileana. I was able to eat dinner / suffer through (ha!) some ice cream, but I did not eat as much as I would on a normal day, let alone one with 6 hours of exercising! Headaches, nausea, all kinds of GI things you don’t want to hear about…it all sort of has lasted longer than I wish it had. I’m not very sore, but the aftermath of the dehydration has demonstrated the importance I’ll place on figuring out how to drink more during my next go at this kind of race!

post race ice cream

I also called that I’d be having a migraine this week and sure enough, one hit this morning. It was nothing a 3 hour nap couldn’t help me get past. I often get the migraine attacks with weather, post-stressful periods, and with my hormones. All three are coinciding so I’m really not surprised, and I will take feeling a little crappy for having that check off my bucket list! I’m drinking extra water and taking it easy this week—light swim yesterday, mobility at the gym today, working on my bibliography (home stretch!)—and am going to get back to more “training” when I feel like I’m ready, not when my ego says “GO!”

All in all, I am so glad that I signed up for that race (thanks Ileana for encouraging me!). I had great coaching to get to it. I had support from my friends and family and people who listened to me talk about this thing for months. I had wonderful company there (the women I was with ALL ROCK and everyone was SO NICE who I met!). The weather worked out great. I would recommend this race to anyone who is going to do their first half, or someone who wants to travel somewhere and stay a few days. Geneva was beautiful and I would have loved to stick around. I have to go back, mostly because I missed out on the “Wine Slushie” advertised in the region. Darn it, dehydration!

Setting a goal that seemed like it might knock me down along the way—and it certainly tested my resolve—was as cheesy as it might sound, exactly what I needed right now. I know that there are people who would call me out on being a sports evangelist, but all those pinterest quotes about achieving goals/focusing on the journey/sport making you a better person are true to me right now! I sometimes think of myself as a quitter, or as fragile. I’ve seen that I’m pretty darn tough, and I’m also more badass than I let myself feel sometimes. I can run in the snow. I can suck it up on the trainer. I can wake up early when I’d rather sleep in. I can do things I don’t want to or don’t think that I can! Maybe I can resist chocolate after all…nah!

Last month, I did that CrossFit competition and felt so friggin’ strong picking up a heavy barbell and swinging around on the bars and climbing ropes and things. This month, I showed myself that strong doesn’t mean I can’t still have success in triathlon or in doing the other things that I love. This race coinciding with me submitting my thesis has made for a pretty big week, if I say so myself. I may be tired, but I am feeling more accomplished than I have in a heck of a long time! Right now I’m relishing my accomplishments, but soon I’ll be setting some more goals, and with the reassurance that I can do the things I set my mind to!


worth it jump outta bed

understeim jump outta bed

worth it

Have you done a triathlon?
What’s your favourite distance to race?
Do you write down your goals?
What are you working towards right now?
What’s your proudest athletic moment?

Did someone say “taper?”: The MEC Century Ride and happy biking

Since I’ve become one of those triathletes who can’t seem to stop talking about their races, you might know that in t minus 6 days, I’ll be racing in my first half Ironman distance race in New York State. With some planning ahead (i.e. what the heck do I eat and drink?) that I’m glad to have help from my fellow triathlete friends with, I feel mostly ready.


If you follow the blog, you’ll know that I was a bit under the weather last week and the week before leading up to a vacation to New York for a gran fondo. But I’m feeling much better (though still not 100%, and especially not when I’m exercising) and this weekend I was able to get out for an open water swim with a local group and then for the MEC Century Ride (100km, not miles).

Getting ready to ride!

Getting ready to ride!

Given the way I took a lot of extra time off, I don’t think 100km will tire me out too much with my race a week away. For some people, 100km is big and scary. For me, it’s maybe the perfect distance–long enough to warrant ice cream in celebration but also short enough that things don’t really start to ache and I’m not rushing to get off my bike as soon as possible. 100 mile centuries are long and fun with the right group, 100 kilometre ones (or “Medio Fondo” distances, perhaps) might be more my style. I sort of take pride in the fact that I can go and go and go when it comes to distance, but riding a quick 100km yesterday felt so darn good.

from behind

Maybe it felt so good because of the sunshine–Mother Nature made up for the rainy ride last weekend with this past weekend. Or maybe it was the company–my training pal Katie and I went out together and I knew that even if I couldn’t keep pace with our super duper fast friends (this means you, Amy and Chris), there would be people I know going all kinds of paces. We fell in with a group of people we didn’t know personally but that I recognized from some social media posts from friends who I ride with! I am so glad I (creepily) mentioned that I recognized them, because riding in 7 strong was great and there was lots of conversation to be had in between Clif bars.

Post-ride, with our new friends!

Post-ride, with our new friends!

The event itself was also so well run! I saw tons of familiar faces, like Sam, who blogged about her day and said she had fun riding herself even if it was hot. I agree with her that the ride on the path out of town was not my favourite, but it gave me a reason to push a little when we got off of it and onto the open roads and away from all the fellow riders and turns that make me nervous. The rest stops were well-stocked and filled with friendly volunteers, and the cost was less than 50$ whether you registered day-of or in advance. That’s what I’m talking about! MEC does a good job with these rides, which I know they have in other cities, and with their running series. Next year, I’m thinking of signing up for the whole series for 75$ and getting a bunch of races on my student budget for what would normally pay for one. Plus they still feed you post-ride!

post-ride food

We ended up averaging a pretty quick pace, which I’ll take as a bonus on top of the fun I had. After my 23km/hr fondo in the rain and hills with bike issues, I’ll take 30.6 over 100km as indication that I’ve still got “it.” I’m excited for my race but will be glad for the freedom after of being able to ride with friends a little more and to do more group riding.

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 9.34.09 AM

For now, it’s time for a taper. This week and next, when I’ll be recovering and relishing my accomplishment if things go according to plan this weekend, I’ll be glad to have some shorter workouts to give me the time to finish my thesis, which is in draft form and coming along, finally, at least in my opinion! Usually, and I think like a lot of other recreational triathletes who do the training as a form of exercise and stress relief, I get pretty antsy backing off before a race. So today I’m thankful for my thesis, even if it is kicking my butt!

Happy Monday, folks!

Have you ever done a MEC event?
What is your favourite distance to bike?
How did you enjoy the sunshine this past weekend?