Monday, February 28, 2011

Monthly Review - FEBRUARY 2011

25.2 km TOTAL

More km than in February 2010 - yahoo!
More km than in January 2011 - yahoo!
Less ~7 km than in December - boo!

Starting block for more running in March - woo hoo !!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

How to Clean a Kettle - Chemical-free and Environmentally friendly

All you need is one lemon and fresh water ...

1. Cut the lemon into 4 sections. Put in the kettle filled with fresh water and boil.

2. Let the boiled lemon and water sit in the kettle for 1 hour. Boil again.

3. Dump the lemon water and fill the kettle with fresh water. Boil.

4. Dump the boiled rinse water and wipe clean.

Source unknown

REALLY CHILLY ROAD RACE 5K - London Honda Series #1

35:40 Chip Time
35:36 Garmin Time

Wow wow wow! What a morning!

I went on my own to the race so there was no one to take pictures of me. However, here's a pic of my new shirt and my number/chip (there is a chip crazy-glued to the back of this bib - ingenious!).

First and foremost, I am really really proud of myself for running a race in February! :) :) :) Last year at this time, I only ran once during the month of February, and it took some work until I was able to run my first 5K later in May. I am tickled pink that this year, I have started running in local races months earlier. Accomplishment #1!

Second, I am so pleased at having a decent 5K race for me! My average pace earlier this week during my return-to-running workouts did not give me the indication that I could run a 7:09 pace. I was aiming for under 7:30 and was very excited to see a pace closer to 7:00 come naturally to me. For someone who had 10+ weeks off from running from an injury and from being buried in snow, this is great! Accomplishment #2!

Third, I turned on my right ankle in the parking lot just before the race, but I was still able to run - I must have had a lucky horseshoe on me. :) Such a stupid thing - I left the Agriplex on my way to the start line and suddenly, where I stepped in the snow, gave way and I turned my ankle painfully. A horrible horrible moment. I went to this race by myself so I was alone when it happened, and all I could think about was nonononononono, please don't tell me I have hurt myself and can't run! It really hurt, too! I kept walking with it to see how bad it was and noticed that I didn't limp. The initial pain subsided as I kept walking toward the start line. I would not have run on it if it kept hurting, but oddly enough, my ankle was fine all through the run except for one time on the course when I felt a slight twinge of it. Very odd, but I am very grateful. I continue to walk just fine, but can still feel a tenderness in the area. I have turned on that ankle so many times in my life ...

As for the run itself, it was great to have main roads and streets cordoned off for us with pylons so we could run on wet pavement. The course itself was once around for the 5K and twice for the 10K so I was happy not to run the same path twice. :) There was the usual swoosh of people running faster than me at the beginning, and I caught myself running faster than I should at the start, but I reigned myself in and settled at a "race pace" within the first 2K. It was very cool to see how the race finished inside the Agriplex (we ran under an overpass and right into the building), and as always, my local Runner's Choice did an excellent job of organizing the event. This particular run was on the east side of the city and near some of the factories (Kellogg's, McCormick's). I am not sure which one was processing a chocolate-flavoured processed food, but there was the smell of chocolate in the air while we ran down Dundas Street - a nice distraction from the running! I did not stick around long after the race as time today did not permit, but it was great to see the greater number of people participated in the 10K than in the 5K (I want to be one of them next year!).

Most memorable moment: I was passed by several super fast 10K runners on their first loop (it made me think, that must be an ego boost, running past someone who started a little more than 10 minutes before you!). They helped me run a little faster because I couldn't help, but pick up the pace thanks to their suction draft - LOL! As nice as it is to have all the volunteers along the way encourage me (I alway say thank you or smile at them when they clap or cheer), I was surprised and touched the most by one of the 10K runners who suddenly turned to me as he passed and enthusiastically said, "Good job!". His tone was clearly genuine and kind (not condescending) and I responded with an enthusiastic "Thank you!" back to him before he left me in his dust. :) As I sit here in the afterglow of my run, this is what I remember the most from the race. Thank you, Anonymous Nice Guy!

1K 6:59
2K 7:14
3K 7:04
4K 7:05
5K 6:41

Friday, February 25, 2011

New Exciting Development ...

This is a very good thing ...

Today, Ben and I joined the Athletic Club. This is a fantastic development for me because I now have access to durable, commercial-grade treadmills for the next year to use whenever the weather is too lousy for running outside ... as in now! I am very excited because it means I can truly commit to starting my "5K in 30 minutes" training schedule without relying on good weather days. I am also looking forward to using the pool (I love swimming!) and the other machines for cross-training purposes, in addition to eventually getting back into yoga. I used to do yoga in Vancouver and loved it, but I have never found a class here in London that kept me interested the same way. With so many variations of yoga classes at this club, I am hoping I can once again find an instructor whom I like or a certain class that works for me.

An added benefit: we discussed with the membership coordinator our needs and I was very pleased to learn that there are personal trainers who are runners and who are available to me for my introductory sessions ... I can gear my weight-training at the gym toward my running, too. Fabulous!

And this is why you have not seen crunches and push-ups posts in the last few days. First, I have not once but twice read about crunches not being the best exercise for your back and your abs. What I read was enough to make me pause and reconsider the challenge. I admit that as a result, I felt unmotivated to do my push-ups, but with Ben asking/wanting me to go to the gym with him after work Mon, Wed, and Fri, it looks like I can re-start this challenge next week and have scheduled time for completing it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

This is Much More Like It! :) 6K

6K @ 47:11
Avg. Pace 7:44 min/km
0 degrees Celsius

Today I am once again a happy camper! :)

I headed back to Springbank Park again, but parked in a different parking lot so that I could run on a different path. I was keeping my fingers crossed that my run would go well after yesterday's ego-bruising run. I slept very well last night, the gorgeous sun was shining again, and it was much warmer without the wind. I took one dog along with me - Kim, the German Shepherd - because he is the easiest to run with.

However, the first 2K were once again very tough - the path was mainly soft slush and slippery in sections. I started regretting choosing my parking area and thinking that today's run was going to be a repeat of yesterday's. My first 2K:

1K 7:47
2K 8:11

Once again, it was not much fun and frustrating.

But then a small miracle happened! The path became clear - no slush, no soft snow. Kim and I could run decently. I did not bother checking my Garmin for pace, instead choosing to trust myself to run at a comfortable pace. It was so so so nice to finally get into a bit of runner's groove - running without thinking about the running, but letting my mind wander to other things. The park was quiet except for a few other runners and several walkers. There were enough dry pavement spots inbetween snow and slush for everyone to enjoy the day.

My results:
3K 7:25
4K 7:27
5K 7:33
6K 7:28

I am feeling very good about this. My pace is faster than expected after such a long break, and I needed this ego boost! :) The important thing is that it felt good, too. It makes me feel a little more hopeful that it will not take as much time to get back to my previous running ... it still is going to take time, and I am going to err on the side on being conservative in getting to that point, but at least I am at a better level than I was at this time last year.

On a side note, I wore my purple running shoes and there is a distinct difference between them and my new ones. I truly "get" why it is strongly recommended that you have a minimum of two pairs to switch between; it took a sore achilles tendon to make me look at my running shoes. I have already officially retired my wonderful old green ones that got me through 2010, but sadly, the purple ones may only have a few more runs left in them.

I am going to try to run tomorrow if weather permits, but the forecast does not look great. I may need to take the day off tomorrow and try running on Friday instead. But for now, all I care about is my ability to fulfill my goal of running a 5K race this Sunday, and starting a new running schedule next week. Right now I am eyeing the "5K in 30 minutes" plan from my pR book because I can start it now whereas I am no longer at the level that I was at when I started the "10K in 1 hour" plan last November.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Very Tough 4K :(

4K @ 32:00
Avg. Pace 8:01 min/km
-4 degrees Celsius (wind chill -14 degree Celsius)

The good news is that I got out there and ran. This is pretty much the extent of the positives! :( Well, that's not really true. The sun was shining, too!

What a tough run! I aimed for 4K, but was hoping to run another 5K. However, by the 4K mark, I was whipped and had to quit. I went to Springbank Park to run because if there is anywhere "cleaned" for runners, it's the park. Unfortunately, the roads had not been cleared of snow "well" when I went so the running conditions were a little tough. My legs really had quite the workout! The soft layer of snow made it a challenge for me to pick up any speed and I felt at times like I was on an obstacle course or a circuit workout rather than running. I have always found that the first 2K of any run is one of the toughest segments as it is when I getting limbered up and into my running groove. My extra challenge today was that it took soooo long to limber up and warm up; I felt as if I was running awkwardly and even by the 3-4K zones, I still hadn't found my groove. I was dressed well for the weather so this wasn't the problem; however, I just never felt warmed up internally, muscle-wise, if this makes sense. Suffice it to say, I was pleased that I got some sort of run accomplished, but it is not one of those runs that make me say, woo hoo! I love running! :(

I felt good after it was over (a runner's high) so as long as I concentrate on the after-feeling, it was a worthwhile run. :) And hey, I know that after being away from it for 10+ weeks and trying to resume in the dead of winter is not easy so I am trying to stay positive!

I wore my new running shoes as well, the ones Ben purchased for me for Christmas. When I used them earlier in the week, they felt great. Today they felt tight and my feet felt a little numb. I don't think it was the shoes, but the conditions. Everything was just "off" today. :(

Tomorrow's weather looks promising so I am aiming to get out again. Earlier in the week, I planned for a 6K, but after today's run, I am not sure if I can do it. We'll have to see!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Another 5K Under My Belt ...

5K @ 39:53
Avg Pace 7:58 min/km
-4 degrees Celsius

Along with Kim and Wallace, we headed to the cemetery today to run 5K. Yesterday it was cold cold cold with -14 degree Celsius winds. I was out in the woods walking with the dogs and it was not fun when the wind was blowing. I saw this in the forecast which is why I took yesterday off from running, choosing today's wind-free weather instead!

Fortunately, the cemetery's paved roads were ice- and snow-free so it was ideal for running. Although it was in the negative temperature-wise, the lack of wind made it ideal. :) Kim and Wallace were clearly very happy to be out running with me again, too. They were perfect running partners today, staying with me pace-wise even when tempted by other dogs out walking with their owners. :)

Music was key today, too. I do not listen to music as much at home as I do when I run so it was great to listen to some of my running tunes after so long. I know it won't be long before I get bored of it, but for now, 10+ weeks away from these upbeat tunes had me appreciating their effect on me again.

The cemetery is hilly so I am not surprised to see a slower pace, but relieved to see that I was under 8 min/km today at least! I am not huffy and puffy when I am out; if anything, my cardio during the last two runs has been great - it's my legs and feet that are feeling it by the end of the run. If I had not looked at my Garmin, I am sure I could have done another K at least so it will be my goal this week to run 6K, and I plan to keep at 5K minimum.

The weather people are calling for snow tonight. :( I will be playing it be ear to see what my running conditions are like for tomorrow ...

Update on Toronto Women's Half Marathon

One of my goals for 2011 is to run a minimum of three half marathons, and I set my sights on the Toronto Women's Half Marathon as my first one. "If" I had remained injury-free and was able to maintain the training program I started last November, I would have been on track to be ready for this event.

Well, I just happened to check the run's site and this event is sold out! I was surprised to see this! I would have been very bummed to focus my training on this and then to miss it because it sold out while I remained clueless about it's popularity. :(

I will know for next year!!!! :) Huge kudos to anyone reading this who is registered in it! :)

Vegetables That Roast in 20 Minutes or Less

Either lightly oil a sheet pan or cover with a piece of parchment paper to prevent sticking.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Slice the kernels off the cobs with a sharp knife.Put them in a bowl and toss with olive oil and a bit of sea salt. Put on a sheet pan in a single layer and roast for 20 minutes or until the starts to brown.

Quick tip: You can also leave the husks in the corn, put the whole corn into the oven, and roast for 30 minutes. Now just pull off the husks and silk and serve. Done! How easy is that?

Seasoning Suggestions: After roasting, toss with a pat of butter and freshly chopped soft fragrant herbs like parsley, dill, chives, or basil. For a south-of-the-border dish, toss with chili powder, a squeeze of lime, and Parmesan cheese.


Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus. Toss with olive oil and salt. Put on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 10-15 minutes.

Seasoning Suggestion: Before roasting, toss with chopped garlic, Parmesan cheese, or chopped fresh thyme. Or, after roasting, give them a squeeze of lemon or lime, or a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, or Dijon vinaigrette, and a sprinkle of chopped fresh herbs.


Believe it or not, kale is fantastic when you roast it! Take 1 bunch of kale and cut off the thick stems; drizzle it with olive oil, a sprinkling of salt, and perhaps some minced garlic. Rub the oil into the leaves so they are well covered. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast, flipping the leaves and turning the sheets until the kale is crispy; it will take about 15 minutes. Squeeze on plenty of lemon juice and taste for salt and pepper.


Halve and cut zucchini or squash into wedges. Toss the pieces with salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Roast for 15-20 minutes, flipping them halfway through.

Serving Suggestions: Before roasting, toss with Parmesan cheese, freshly chopped herbs or grated lemon zest, and chopped garlic or shallots. Or, after roasting, squeeze on a little lemon juice or drizzle with balsamic vinegar or some Dijon vinaigrette.

DIJON VINAIGRETTE for roasted vegetables

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 Tbsp. honey
1 1/2 cups olive oil
Salt, pepper, and sugar to taste (Note: I do not add sugar!)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, garlic, shallot and honey. Slowly whisk the olive oil to emulsify. Season to taste.

Makes 2 1/2 cups

from The Family Dinner by Laurie David, p. 110-1

Friday, February 18, 2011

FIRST Run of 2011!

Usually I post my pace and time at the top of my post, but just for today, I will leave it to the end ...

Today is unusually sunny and warm for February in London. It is glorious! After an ~10 week hiatus from running, I am pleased by how good I felt getting back out! I opted to leave the dogs at home (no running partners until I get my running equilibrium/legs back) and considering how tough the run turned out to be, it was a good decision. I decided to head out for a cross-your-fingers 4K run (secretly hoping I could do 5K), and the first 1K went very very well. However, the running path I decided to take was not in very good shape; I was surprised to see how much slushy snow covered the path and I now know not to take it again until we have another serious melt (the temp is dropping back down below 0 degrees Celsius again tonight for the next week so that path will become sheer ice!). I had 2K worth of jogging slowly through slushy snow, as my soggy shoes will attest to! However, it did not alter my good mood and joy at being out again. I just knew then not to take my pace time seriously.

My achilles was fine; I felt some aches and tightening muscles in other parts of my feet, but I think they were just readjusting to running as they all but disappeared by the end of the run. I was very happy to see that once I got off the running path and back onto paved sidewalks that my pace picked up a little, and that my cardio was better than expected. I knew then that I could run 5K, which is a HUGE relief because I have a 5K race at the end of the month! :)

So after uploading my results to and, and before taking a shower, here are my results:

5K @ 40:46
Pace 8:08 min/km

At this time last year, I only ran ONE day in February. I also indicated on my record that it was a walk/run. I feel very good knowing that my fitness level while running today was superior to what it was like a year ago when I ran this on dry pavement:

Feb. 21, 2010
5K walk/run @ 41:34
Pace 8:18 min/km

There is no training plan at the moment. I have the short term goals of getting out for some 4/5/6 K runs in the next week so that I can run the 5K race on Feb. 27. By this point, I will have a much better idea as to where I am at with my running and then devise a training plan from there ... good thing I kept all my training plans from last year! :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Window Cleaner - Chemical-free and Environmentally Friendly

Plain distilled white vinegar does a wonderful job of cleaning windows, unless they have already been washed with commercial glass cleaners. Before you can utilize plain vinegar as the official window cleaner of your environmentally friendly home, you must remove all waxy residues by washing the windows with the following solution:

1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 tsp. liquid dish soap
2 cups water

Pour the mixture into a spray bottle , spray the solution on your window, wait half a minute, then polish the glass with a clean rag. The dish liquid will break down the wax so the next time your windows need washing, you can spray them with full strength white vinegar, then use a rubber squeegee or a clean, soft rag to dry them.

from Organic Housekeeping by Ellen Sandbeck, p. 269

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Updates, Blog Changes and Revisiting 2011 Resolutions

I have not been a good blogger since December when my achilles tendon started to hurt during the Santa Shuffle fun run. I knew while running that day that my tendon needed a break. After London was hit by "Snowmageddon" (it actually made national headlines because we were so buried by snow and it has yet to let up!) and has since experienced the coldest, hardest winter in years, running has become impossible for me (kudos to the few bundled up people I have seen outside in this crazy weather, keeping their running up, because the conditions are tough tough tough!). The winter weather truly has been challenging, and re-injuring my achilles tendon a few more times while wearing stable winter boots when walking the dogs is very frustrating. :( I keep telling myself that this is the ideal time to be injured, when the weather is -20 degrees Celsius and the snowbanks are as tall as me! If I were injured when the weather was ideal for running, I would be very very very very bummed rather than just bummed - LOL!

And so I am trying to return to running, slowly but safely. My first new year's resolution for 2011 is to run safely without injury so this is first and foremost.

I have updated my blog. I did not run on New Year's Eve in the Running Room Resolution Run so this link was removed. I have the RR winter orange jacket from the event to match my RR yellow jacket from last year's RR run, but ironically, these two runs are the only ones I have registered for without actually running! :( I have signed up for the Really Chilly Road Race at the end of this month (February 27th), but since I have only 16 days left to prepare, I registered for the 5K instead of the 10K. I am keeping my fingers crossed that, between now and Good Friday in April, when the next/second London Honda Series run is scheduled, I will be running and training again so that I can run in a 10K. However, until I can get out there running, I am not going to register for "two runs ahead" (see NY Resolutions page) until I am confident that my achilles tendon is no longer a problem.

I have hidden my "half marathon in 2:15" and "10K in one hour" page links on the blog because they are not doable right now. Once I can get my running back up to my previous Fall 2010 level, I will edit the dates on these training pages and repost them as my training plans when I am physically capable of incorporating them. They are terrific plans and my desire is to return to them once I am physically able to.

I am also trying to keep all of this in perspective. I am disappointed that I am not running at the level I envisioned myself at for this time when I was making plans last fall; however, I knew when I made my running/training schedule that it would be altered repeatedly due to the weather. I just didn't bank on the winter being so tough and a tender achilles tendon to boot! :( However, at this time last year, I was not running either. I started getting back into it haphazardly at the end of March, and was able to run a 5K by the beginning of May. I am actually further ahead now than I was last year at this time - I weigh less, I am fitter, and my desire to start running again as soon as I can is greater. It's not that I can't achieve my goals; it's just that I have to alter the dates for achieving them, given the circumstances that have affected me. I will likely not make it to Toronto for the women-only half marathon as planned :( ... but it just means that I will need to find another half marathon to take its place later in the year. :)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Buckwheat Pancakes

These pancakes are much more filling than the traditional fluffy variety made with refined carbohydrate. Since their base ingredients are a combination of flaxseed, hemp, and pseudo-grains, they are packed with nourishment.

Following the Thrive Diet principle of cooking only at low heat, and since these pancakes contain essential fatty acids that are destroyed at high heat, they are cooked at a low temperature.

Baking powder and baking soda have been added to this recipe to make them fluffier, but if you prefer denser pancake, omit them.

Agave nectar is a good alternative to maple syrup as a pancake topping.

1 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup hemp flour
2 tsp. baking powder (optional for fluffier pancakes)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 banana
2 cups water
1/2 cup barley flakes (or buckwheat, sprouted or cooked)

In a bowl, mix buckwheat flour, flaxseed, hemp flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a food processor, process the banana and water while slowly adding the dry ingredients until mixture is smooth. Stir in barley flakes with a spoon or spatula.

Cook as directed.

Makes 2 large servings

from The Thrive Diet by Brendan Brazier, p. 211-2