A 5'3 Perspective


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My Second Half Marathon Experience

After sleepless nights, training doubts, and racing remorse, I am thrilled to have completed my second half marathon this Sunday – and even more excited to have finished in under two hours! If you read my running remorse post last week, you’ll likely be surprised to hear that I have been bit by the racing bug again. While I am not signing up for another half marathon in the near future, I am looking into a couple 10 km races in the winter (just checking out my options – I want to come down from my running high before I make any commitments).

All hesitations aside, I knew I had given my best effort effort training for this race. Preparing for a Spring half is much different than a Fall one – I have learned that I prefer running in cool temperatures (and even snowstorms) as opposed to warm scorching weather. Most distance runners will use Sundays as long run days; take a moment to think about what that means. Fun Saturdays are always cut a little short to make sure you feel ready to get a 16, 17, 18 k (or even longer) run in before peak heat hours. Depending on your pace, these distances can take over two hours to complete meaning you’ll need to be out pounding the pavement before 9:00 AM. Another sacrifice you’ll have to make is running on vacation. If you let your training slip, it is very hard to pick up where you left off – summer is a very popular time to take weekend trips, be prepared to pack your running gear and map out a couple routes to run while everyone else is sleeping in. This being said, running on vacation is one of my favourite ways to explore a new city, it makes me feel like a local and I almost always come across neat areas I would have never found otherwise.

Winter is easier. Long runs aren’t scheduled around the sun, Saturday partying is less frequent since patios are closed, and buy new cold weather running gear is a lot of fun. Sure the footing is slippery and you might run into a snow storm (literally), but as long as you are careful and alert, these added elements of difficulty make the time fly by. Maybe this is personal preference though!

father daughter finish line

Strides away from the finish line!

half marathonI had planned to do a race recap, but as the kilometers ticked by, they all merged together. I can tell you that the Canada Army Run is much less flat than the Ottawa Race Weekend route. If you are looking for a PB, consider that. Although I did not beat my first half marathon time, I felt much stronger and in control throughout the entire race – extra hills and all. I am confident that if the courses were the same I would have snagged a PB this time around. Either way, I was elated crossing the finish line knowing I had secured another sub two hour time!

Neil and Alicia along the course cheering us on, with Lanna and Susan close beside them!

Neil and Alicia along the course cheering us on, with Lanna and Susan close beside them!

I cannot even begin to express how thankful and honoured I am to have such great friends and family that pushed me every step of the way. From my dad you ran by my side, to my amazing boyfriend and friends who cheered me on along the course and at the finish line, I know I couldn’t have made it through the race without you guys. Knowing that I have such kind and thoughtful people in my life makes me feel so lucky. It truly meant the world to see your smiling faces cheering me on.

Celebrating another sub two hour finish with my dad!

Celebrating another sub two hour finish with my dad!

Will I run another half marathon? The answer is most likely yes. Crossing the finish line on Sunday reminded me of why I make the sacrifices I do to be a runner, it also confirmed that I truly do love running.

Despite a little muscle soreness, I am eager to lace up my sneakers this week and do what I love.

Congratulations to everyone who ran this weekend, you did it!

xo Lauren


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It’s The Weekend!

After a terrible and fatal tragedy this week, I think it is safe to say that this week was a particularly tough one for the residents of Ottawa. Horrific events like the one that occurred on Wednesday remind us how important it is to cherish every moment, from the smallest things to the biggest accomplishments – I plan to take this as a reminder to love unconditionally and be kind. Life is precious and you only get one chance to live it, so smile and make the most of every day. Here is just a tiny snapshot of some things I am appreciating this week:High Five For Friday1.  It is rare that Neil will participate in a race without me, but over the past week he did – and on top of that, he finished with one of the best times of the entire group! I am a very proud girlfriend.
2. This weekend my partying brought me back to the good ol’ university days – who brings a flask with them anymore? Wait – I do.
3. I used to be one of those people who wakes up at the very last moment and runs out the door. Over the past four years, Neil has taught me the importance of relaxing in the morning. Now I can’t imagine going back to whirlwind mornings – spending those 45 minutes drinking coffee and hanging out is one of my favourite parts of the day.
4. Pumpkin = Fall. Sure, but what about apple season! In my mind, apple picking trumps the pumpkin patch – unless I am carving them for Halloween. Speaking of apples, I have an amazing quinoa/oat/apple/cinnamon muffin recipe to share with you soon, if you’re interested.
5. Sunday is my second half marathon. I am so honoured to be running along side with the men and women who risk their lives for our beautiful country. The Canada Army Run is the fastest growing run in the nation over the past five years and I can’t wait to be a part of it! If you’re in Ottawa – take a look at the route and come out and cheer on the runners.

Thank to Lauren for hosting High Five For Friday.

Have a wonderful weekend friends!

xo Lauren


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Running Remorse

As most of you know, this weekend I will be racing in my second half marathon (ever) of the year. I still remember the feeling of relief that came across me when I finally made it to the finish line of the Ottawa Race Weekend half – yes I said relief, not accomplishment. At that moment I had absolutely no intentions of signing up for the Army Run, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt like i should sign up for a second half. I had already built up my endurance and maintaining it would be much easier (not true). After wavering on whether or not to race again, I finally decided to do it – having something to train for would force me to be accountable with my running throughout the summer.

I don’t want to sound like a negative Nancy, there are more than a handful of reasons why racing and training is great – which I’ve shared with you here, here, and here – but I am starting to realize that running for yourself and for pleasure is much more enjoyable. Running your first race (of a particular distance) is exciting, the main goal is to finish strong. I am noticing that a second race is different – I always have that nagging voice in my head telling me that I have to beat my last time. As competitive as I am, the pressure to PR is driving me insane – it has been detrimental to my training and my well being. I cannot think of a single run since the race where I have finished feeling satisfied. I am always disappointed with my time, my pace, my walk breaks, the list goes on – there is always something I could have done better.

Now that I have had some time to reflect on my training, I know I am being too hard on myself. I stuck to my schedule and ran each run to the best of my ability, despite negative thoughts. I really do love to run – and I love being a part of the running community, but after this Sunday I need to change my training up to remind myself why I started in the first place. No more forced 16km (or longer) Sunday runs. If I want to do a long run I will, if I am not feeling it – that is okay too. This isn’t an excuse to stop exercising, it is merely a reminder that I need to be a little more conscious of how my body feels. I still plan to run three days a week, two short and one long, but on a much less rigorous schedule – running is supposed to be fun, and I have every intention to return to a place where I look forward to doing it.

As for this race, of course I hope to PR, but I have to remember that completing a half marathon (no matter the time) is an accomplishment. My plan is to be positive – no more self doubt. I know I can run the distance as I have done it many times before.

I am done running with my head – this Sunday is all about running with my heart.

xo Lauren


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What I Ate Wednesday

If you follow any full fledged healthy living blogs, you’ve likely seen this type of post a million times. If not, here is a quick run down – What I Ate Wednesday, also known as WIAW, was started as a once a week food diary which allowed people [healthy living bloggers] to show off their beautiful and nutritious meals through pictures. Since then, WIAW has transformed into a weekly social event for bloggers worldwide.

Although I have been hesitant to join the movement since I know people will compare their diets to mine, but that isn’t the point. I love reading What I Ate Wednesday posts from others because it gives me new recipes and meals to try – that is the reason I am sharing my eats with you. This is a pretty typical day for me, except for dinner… that was a bit of a splurge, but totally worth it!

Thanks to Jenn of Peas and Crayons for hosting this Wednesday party!WIAW

Breakfast – Tea and Oats In A Jar, made using gluten free oats, unsweetened almond milk, chia seeds, cinnamon, strawberries, pecan pieces and stevia].
Snack – Big container of veg!
Lunch – Baked Salmon, Sweet Potato and Broccoli with a bit of lemon juice.
Snack – White Chocolate Raspberry Quest Bar – one word – UNREAL.
Dinner – Homemade Gluten Free Pizza Chicken Pizza with Spinach, Roasted Red Peppers, Broccoli, and Lactose Free Cheese.
Dessert – A Maple Coconut Ball. When these bad boys are in my fridge, I just can’t resist.

Happy hump day friends!

xo Lauren


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Raw, Vegan, Maple-Coconut Balls

Since my last energy ball recipe was such a hit, I decided to try my luck a creating out a new flavour. A friend of my raves about these delicious treats that she buys at a health food store in Ottawa – so I took it upon myself to create my own version.Maple Coconut BallsIngredients

2 cups raw cashews
1 1/3 cup shredded coconut
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/2 dropper of liquid stevia (or more maple syrup)
1 tsp vanilla

Directions

Mix all ingredients together using a food processor until a crumbly dough is formed. Roll into approximately 14 balls. Refrigerate for about half an hour before serving.

The store bought version uses raw almonds but I prefer the taste of cashews. I am a firm believer in using ingredients that I already have in my pantry. You could definitely try substituting to almonds [or even another type of nut] and get similar results.

Stores these delicious treats in the fridge – although I doubt they will last long in any household!

xo Lauren

 


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Why Do You Run?

Whenever people find out I am training for [a second] half marathon, I usually am asked the question “why running?”. My typical answer: it is a great form of exercise that requires very little equipment and subsequently, my dad is an avid runner – it’s in my blood right? Although these responses are true, they aren’t the only reason behind my need to pound the pavement for hours on end. With each training run I am learning so much about why I have chosen to make this activity such a big part of my life.

Let us rewind a little. I have always been an active person. Gymnastics, competitive figure skating and dance, soccer, track and field [for a very brief stint], cycling, fitness classes – you name it, I’ve done it… as long as it doesn’t involve hand eye coordination. Typically I excelled at the sports I tried, but running was different. It was such always a challenge for me, both physically [due to shin splints and asthma] and mentally [because I couldn’t understand why it didn’t come easy].  I’ve run on and off my whole life, 5 km here 10 km there, but never with any consistency. After a few runs I’d give up because I felt like I wasn’t fast enough/going far enough/strong enough – whatever the case – giving up was the easy option, and that is exactly what i did.  I vividly remember sitting out of the “beep test” during gym class because of my shin splits, but in all reality I could have put up with the pain, I just didn’t want to fail. For some reason the idea of being a runner was one I just couldn’t push aside. I knew I wanted to make it part of my life – I just didn’t know how.

This year I made a commitment to give running one last chance – if I didn’t enjoy it or find pleasure, I would move on. I signed up for my very first half marathon to make sure I had a goal to work towards and devised a training plan. If there is one thing I am good at, it’s sticking to a schedule. As you all know – I did finish the 21.1 km. The sense of accomplishment I felt crossing the finish line was like nothing I’ve ever felt before. I truly believe that moment turned me into a runner. ellepottsie half marathonNow that I am training for my second half marathon, I find myself thinking more and more about the answer to why I run, especially when I’m out on long runs. I’ve probably drafted this blog entry several times in my head – it just hasn’t made it to the keyboard. I’ve come up with four honest reasons.

I RUN…

…because it makes me dig deeper and push myself harder than before. Knowing that I gave each run my all and left everything I had out on the pavement makes me feel accomplished. Running is a competition against yourself, not anyone else. PRs will come and go, but the feeling you get when you finish a run is out of the world – it make take months to get to a point where you feel a runners high, but eventually you will and it will make everything worth it.

…because it makes me feel like I am part of a community. As someone who spent a lot of time in individual sports [figure skating and dance], I have a hard time excelling when I am part of a sports team. I just seem to shine brightest when I am on my own. With running it is different, I am a solo athlete, but there are always others out training that I can wave to and smile at along the way. I also love talking about running and training with friends [both online and in person]. For me is the perfect combination of group/individual.

…because it forces me to make time for myself. I rarely run with friends or in a group because I enjoy being able to take a break some socializing. It doesn’t matter if it is a long or short run, the monotony of the activity allows me to get lost in my thoughts and I can listen [to myself] without any interruptions or judgement. I honestly believe running has given me the opportunity to evaluate my life and my goals while making me a more patient and kind person.

…because I can. Running has made me appreciate what my body can do. Maybe my legs are bigger than I would like, but they are solid and strong, and they can carry me through long runs. I am learning to love myself for who I am, not who I wish I could be.

Now it’s my turn, why do you run?

xo Lauren


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Raw Lemon Cups

I’m usually more of a chocolate lover when it comes to dessert, but the summer months have a tendency to making me crave something a little more tart. These luscious lemon cups have just the right combination of sweet and sour to satisfy my needs – oh and they are pretty guilt free! Thanks to Oatmeal With A Fork for this incredible recipe. Raw Lemon CupsIngredients

Crust:
¾ c. walnuts
¼ c. unsweetened coconut
5 soft dates (I used Medjool)
¼ t. salt
1 t. lemon juice
Lemon Filling:
6 T. coconut oil, softened
2 T. maple syrup
2 T. lemon juice
1 t. lemon zest
5 drops stevia, to taste

Directions

Combine the crust ingredients using a food processor. Divide evenly among 10 silicon muffin cups (or you could use one baking dish if you’d rather not pre-portion). Press down firmly, for me using the back of a spoon helped to ensure it was really packed well. Next, place the coconut oil into a small bowl and beat with a hand mixer until it becomes creamy. This took about a minute or two.  Add the rest of the lemon filling ingredients and beat until well combined. Spread the top layer onto the bottom layer. Freeze for 15 – 30 minutes until set.

For best results and texture, thaw the cups either in the fridge or on the counter for about 20 minutes before serving.

Pucker up!!

xo Lauren