Spartan Super 2014

I tackled the hardest, most challenging obstacle course race in my life to date on Saturday. I had heard great things about the Spartan Race in the past so this year I was going to tackle the Spartan Sprint in Toronto at the beginning of June. Due to my lovely shoulder injury post back injury I wasn’t able to compete in the shortest version of the Spartan races so of course I transferred my registration to the more intermediate course a month later in Ottawa. I had a month to train post injury and it was an excuse to go home to see my family.

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The Spartan Super is touted as 13+km and 21 obstacles. Here’s how my race went down. A month before the race I messaged my new real life/social media friend Annie and asked her if she’d like to run it with me. I knew she’d done a Mud Hero before so could hack a mud run, she’s a runner and a mom of three so really she’s a super hero. I picked her up bright and early and off we went. The drive to Mt. St. Marie was around an hour and a half from our neighbourhood so it was a bit of a hike. We arrived and went through registration seamlessly. They send you an email the week prior to the event to sign in online and print your event pass/waiver. They scan it upon arrival, hand you your headband (which I love more than a number being written on my forehead – that was a dig at Tough Mudder) and they write your number on your arm too (for pictures). During parking they hand you a plastic bag for your bag check. I wish they had written my headband number on the bag but they give you another wrist band and write that number on the bag. Just an additional thing on my body that is unnecessary.

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We arrived in plenty of time so we watched earlier heats complete the rope climb, the hercules hoist, a revolving monkey bar obstacle and then we decided to get into the coral. In the above picture you can see me wearing my hydration pack from MEC. That thing was a lifesaver. I had no clue how many water stations were on the course and I had watched a video the night before by the Spartan medic urging athletes completing the Super or Beast distances to wear hydration. Seeing as we were endlessly climbing ski hills I sucked back on that baby constantly and refilled it completely once.

The course was long and gruelling. We finished in 4 hours and 37 mins. Yes you read that correctly. I willingly chose to run up and down ski hills, tackle obstacles that were physically demanding and do 30 burpees when I couldn’t finish or complete an obstacle. Why? Because I love challenging myself, feeling alive, feeling strong, confident and tough.

Here is the list of obstacles that my brain can currently remember: Mud crawl under a net, rope climb, barbed wire crawl, hercules hoist, spinning monkey bars, monkey bars, cargo climb, two 8 ft wall climbs, inverted wall climb, sandbag carry, water can carry, tire flip, slippery wall rope climb with rope descent, wall climb – roll under – climb through wall, traverse wall, premium rig, spear throw and fire jump. We also had to make our way through a stream (which I would like to call an obstacle) and crawl through a rocky/sandy tunnel (which I would also like to call an obstacle as I ripped up my knees on this bad boy!)

I had to do burpees at the rope climb (made it half way up before my hip flexors cramped – lesson learned don’t pause just climb), monkey bars (ripped a callus off and slipped off), spinning monkey bars (no strength left in me), water can carry (no cans at bottom of the hill – opted to burpee as it was probably faster than waiting), premium rig (didn’t attempt just burpeed), traverse wall (slipped off) and spear throw (hit the hay but didn’t stick). So if I’m counting correctly I did 210 burpees. Am I proud of this fact? Not really. I actually got incredibly mad at myself at not sticking it out and climbing the rope and slipping off the monkey bars & traverse wall. These are obstacles I know I can achieve. I almost started crying. That’s because I’m incredibly tough on myself and demand the best. Have I only really been training for a month since injury? Yes. Is my strength and endurance back? No. Am I making excuses? No. But I need to set more realistic goals for my body and what it can do. So I had to yell at myself in my head and say you are finishing this race no matter how you get there. Just finish. It’s not always about being effortlessly strong but having the grit and determination to never quit, no matter what route. Do I want to kill these obstacles in the future? Yes. Do I want to train harder and smarter to beast them the next time I run a Spartan? Yes. And that at the end of the day and 4 hours and 37 mins later is all that matters to me.

Now to celebrate my achievements. I tackled the inverted wall by myself when someone asked if I needed a boost. I flipped the tire four times with ease and glute strength. I got up the slippery wall and pulled up the hercules hoist. I know my strength is growing and for those achievements I am so dang proud. I even had energy post race for a cheesy #theface picture with the Spartan himself. He was a tad creepy and totally said “Get Under Here” and held his cloak up.

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I even found my Alpha Obstacle friends near the end. They cheered me on when I missed the spear throw and had to do yet another 30 burpees. They gave me high fives and hugs afterwards and even smiling when I had an epic tumble post fire jump as I tried to do an epic jump and had no juice in my legs left to catch me. But boy did those finish line hugs of accomplishment feel amazing.

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I’m also slightly lucky I live in Ottawa and knew that after an epic race I’d need some self care. Sunday I woke up at 7 and arrived at Le Nordik when the doors opened to soak in the tubs and get a deep tissue massage before driving back to Ottawa. Now to foam roll this body back to normal this week so more training can commence.

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Will you attempt the Spartan Super?

Book Review: Conquering Shame and Codependency

What kobo.com says:

A nationally recognized author and codependency expert examines the roots of shame and its connection with codependent relationships. Learn how to heal from their destructive hold by implementing eight steps that will empower the real you, and lead to healthier relationships.

Shame: the torment you feel when you’re exposed, humiliated, or rejected; the feeling of not being good enough. It’s a deeply painful and universal emotion, yet is not frequently discussed. For some, shame lurks in the unconscious, undermining self-esteem, destroying confidence, and leading to codependency. These codependent relationships-where we overlook our own needs and desires as we try to care for, protect, or please another-often cover up abuse, addiction, or other harmful behaviors. Shame and codependency feed off one another, making us feel stuck, never able to let go, move on, and become the true self we were meant to be.

In Conquering Shame and Codependency, Darlene Lancer sheds new light on shame: how codependents’ feelings and beliefs about shame affect their identity, their behavior and how shame can corrode relationships, destroying trust and love. She then provides eight steps to heal from shame, learn to love yourself, and develop healthy relationships.

ConqueringShame-Cover-192x300What I say: This book made me a bit sad but helped me embrace the reality of our world. No matter what happens in life, how we are brought up, who we associate with, we are all dealing with shame in some form or another and will over the course of our lifetime. It got me a little depressed at the beginning but pulled me out with the 8 steps to overcome shame and deal with ways we become co-dependent on others.

I am a huge fan of self development books and so when I was asked to review this book I jumped at the chance. The topics & material found within the pages are quite heavy and I’m actually re-working my way through some chapters. I want to take the time to let the information sink in and do the writing exercises found within the pages. I’ve been doing work on myself to discover what I find shameful and to reframe it in a positive way. What I like about the 8 steps which I’ll share below:

1. Find Your True Self

2. Uncover Your Shame

3. Find Your Shame’s Roots

4. Disarm Your Shame

5. Confront Your Shame

6. Share Your Shame

7. Build Your Self-Esteem

8. Love Yourself

Is that I’ve been doing these unconsciously over the course of the last few years. I was of the mindset that if I announced I’m done healing then I am but moments, hurt trigger points, songs, words, memories will probably always surface and it’s great to be able to remind myself of how I can reframe hurt to love and learning.

I recommend this book if you are going through a trying time and are looking for answers.

 

Free Spirit Tours

I purchased a Team Buy deal for a 3 hour caving adventure in Collingwood and thought it would be a good idea to go adventuring the day after Warrior Dash. The tour company Free Spirit Tours was easy to book with and very welcoming and professional. Our tour leader Cam was very patient, great at instruction and very happy which I loved.

Get ready for a picture heavy post. I arrived at Metcalfe Rock about 15 minutes late so was rushing to sign the waiver & get the gear on which included a harness and helmet. We headed off to the first cave and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I wore winter run clothes as we were told it was going to be cold in the caves. Before entering the first cave we left our daypacks, water bottles and sunglasses outside. I looked up and got a beautiful view!

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Warrior Dash 2014 Recap

I tackled Warrior Dash for the 3rd year in a row now. Here is my post from last year which also has a link to my 2011 recap. This year I wanted to run it competitively. I didn’t have enough training in as I would’ve liked based on my lovely back & shoulder injuries earlier this year but I still had an amazing time and did something I’ve never done before. I ran the Warrior Dash course twice this year! The first time for time and the second time round for fun. My shoulder was taped up with KT Tape and I felt strong running and on every obstacle.

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The day started early with a carpool pick up at 6:00am. I fed my car mates rhubarb & strawberry tarts by PaleOMG and we were off to Horseshoe Valley Resort. I had checked out the Warrior Dash Ontario‘s website the night before to figure out which obstacles we were going to tackle but the site was misleading. Only 4 of the 13 obstacles on the course were actually on the map. For the life of me I can’t remember 1 obstacle in my recap below and that one isn’t on the website in the library of obstacles. The 4 on the Ontario map that I was prepared for were Diesel Dome, Deadman’s Drop, Giant Cliffhanger and Storming Normandy. Warrior Dash you may want to have an accurate event page in the future???

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Book Review: All Fall Down

What kobo.com says:

Allison Weiss got her happy endinga handsome husband, adorable daughter, a job she loves, and the big house in the suburbs. But while waiting in the pediatrician’s office, she opens a magazine to a quiz about addiction and starts to wonder…Is a Percocet at the end of the day really different from a glass of wine? Is it such a bad thing to pop a Vicodin after a brutal Jump & Pump class…or if your husband ignores you?

The pills help her manage the realities of her good-looking life: that her husband is distant, that her daughter is acting out, that her father’s Alzheimer’s is worsening and her mother is barely managing to cope. She tells herself that they let her make it through her days…but what if her increasing drug use, a habit that’s becoming expensive and hard to hide, is turning into her biggest problem of all?

With a sparkling comedic touch and a cast of unforgettable characters, this remarkable story of a woman’s slide into addiction and struggle to find her way back up again is Jennifer Weiner’s most masterful work yet.

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What I say: this was a great but hard book to read. Allison the main character is a full fledged pill junkie and it was hard to witness her confusion & downward spiral. The way she would talk herself into things was maddening but worth witnessing. It was great to see behind the lens of  someone that truly suffers from the disease of addiction. I believe I’ve gained a new perspective, new empathy and knowledge of what goes through someone’s head that is struggling. I truly felt for the husband having lived with someone who struggled with addiction I know the impact it has on a significant other. The book isn’t all doom and gloom and I love the realistic hope it also brought. Definitely a recommended summer read.

 

32 Acts of Love Round Up

32 Acts of Love Round Up

My birthday was a beautiful day. It may have been a random hump day in the middle of the week but I was full of so much love and gratitude for people in my life both in my city and across the country. I know I reserve one day a year for tons of acts of kindness but there is something to this feeling you get and I should definitely make more of an effort to incorporate selfless actions more into my life. So here’s how the day went…

1. I got up nice and early to hit the gym before work. As I was getting off the streetcar I handed a thank you note to the driver. He made a point of saying good morning to everyone getting on the streetcar so I hope I helped brightened his day.
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#32actsoflove – My Birthday Plans

So it’s my birthday tomorrow… I really don’t like the expectations that birthdays have and I don’t like asking for much but last year I got a bit demanding :)

Here’s the post that helped me plan the day. And here’s the post that recapped the amazing day. It’s all about random acts of love (or kindness). I had so much fun doing these random acts of love that I can’t wait to tally up some acts of love for my 32 years of age this year. But I can’t do it alone! I would love your help.

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Would you do an act of love on my behalf and let me know through the hashtag #32actsoflove on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?

Here are the 10 things I plan on doing this year. I need 22 peeps to do a random act on their own so we can add them up to 32.

1. Give a thank you note to a TTC streetcar driver when I get off (last year I gave it to them as I got on and it was weird)

2. Hand out free samples of Magnum products & 10% off Popeye’s Supplement coupons at the gym in the morning!

3. Put a motivation quote in a gym locker for someone to find during the day.

4. Buy coffee for the person behind me in line in the morning.

5. Order healthy cupcakes for my office co-workers (I hope they don’t read my blog today)

6. Buy a bouquet of flowers and hand them out to people walking around my work neighbourhood at lunch hour.

7. Buy an iced tea for my receptionist at work & the concierge at my condo.

8. Print off motivational quotes and place them on parked cars around my work neighbourhood.

9. Go down to the Lakeshore bike path after work and hand out water bottles to runners.

10. Hand out granola bars to homeless on the streets of Toronto.

5 Peaks & North Face Endurance Challenge

This was the weekend of trail races. First up was 5 Peaks at Rattlesnake Point on Saturday and then I headed off to Blue Mountain Sunday for North Face Endurance. Saturday started nice and chill, I  met Aubrie downtown at the St. Lawrence market before we headed out to Milton to the conservation area. There must’ve been more people than the last few as we were parking on a grassy hill near the start point or the parking lot was just minimal in size. Aubrie and I took mandatory pre-race, pre-big hill and post race selfies :)

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After a great week of training I felt good. A bit sluggish from a leg workout on Weds that left my legs a bit sore but I had energy. My ankles were a bit tight but loosened up after the 1st km. This course was perfectly technical. Lots of rocks and 3 humbling climbs. We chose to just run this course vs. race since I had another race on Sunday and that was the perfect choice. I didn’t wear my Garmin. I didn’t know what my pace was or really where we were until we saw km markers. It was fun, the course had beautiful views, I loved hopping over all the rocks which made me feel like a mountain goat!

My friend Allegra grab an awesome paparazzi finish photo for us.

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Spry Product Review

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. I received product at no cost.

I’ve recently had the opportunity to start working with a new influencer network called Raynforest. They sent me a care package full of Spry dental care products that included gum, mints & toothcare (mouthwash & toothpaste)! The key point of difference is that this product is sweetened with Xylitol.

Xylitol is a five-carbon sugar alcohol that has nearly identical taste and bulk to table sugar but with apparently great dental benefits. Since it has fewer calories you aren’t consuming empty sugar calories. Since it has less effect on blood sugar it inhibits the creation of acid in the mouth and by consistent usage can help teeth remineralize at a faster rate.

I’m not going to lie. The Berry mints were gone in a heart beat. I may have kept popping them like candy! I’ve had to hide the containers from myself so I don’t keep popping more and more mints in one sitting. Oh the joys of not having willpower somedays.

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I love the taste of Spry gum but it definitely loses its flavour after a few minutes. I’ve been using the oral rinse on and off. I haven’t had a chance to use the Spry toothpaste yet but it’s on tap for after I use up my current container. Although I can’t comment on how it’s doing for my teeth health until I visit the dentist next and ask them specifically.

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If you can find the gum in stores I highly recommended purchasing over a regular brand. I’m not a doctor but being able to get rid of sugar from products seems like a great bonus to me and my need for healthy options.

Book Review: Money A Love Story

What kobo.com says:

Having a good relationship with money is tough—whether you have millions in the bank or just a few bucks to your name. Why? Because just like any other relationship, your life with money has its ups and downs, its twists and turns, its breakups and makeups. And just like other relationships, living happily with money really comes down to love—which is why love is the basis of money maven Kate Northrups book.

After taking the Money Love Quiz to see where on the spectrum your relationship with money stands—somewhere between “on the outs” and “its true love!”—Northrup takes you on a rollicking ride to a better understanding of yourself and your money. Step-by-step exercises that address both the emotional and practical aspects of your financial life help you figure out your personal perceptions of money and wealth and how to change them for the better. Youll learn about thought patterns that may be holding you back from earning what youre worth or saving what you can. Youll learn how to chart your current financial life and create a plan to get you to where you want to be—whether thats earning enough to live in a penthouse in Manhattan or a cabin in the Rockies.

Using client stories and her own saga of moving from 20,000 of debt to complete financial freedom by the age of 28, Northrup acts as a guide in your quest for personal financial freedom. She’ll teach you how to shift your beliefs about money, create a budget, spend in line with your values, get out of debt, and so much more. In short, shell teach you to love your money, so you can love your life.

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What I say: I absolutely loved this self-development book. Although I think I have a pretty good relationship with money there are times when I struggle with anxiety around money and wanted to jump into this book to see where it could take me. Kate Northrup breaks it down into 8 chapters that are easy to understand with journal assignments and tasks.

1. What’s Love Got to Do with it? – This chapter gets you to write your money love story. Tell your story, reframe negative moments and then create the heroine version. I’m a big fan of shifting perspectives from negative to positive so I love this type of work.

2. It’s Not about the Money – This chapter works on remembering money memories, acknowledging your top money frustration and then make the connection. This chapter also addresses concepts of self love.

3. Woo-Woo Meets Cha-Ching – This chapter addresses your views of money, identifies potential limiting beliefs about money and has you argue against them.

4. You’ve Got You, Babe – This chapter is kind of fun. The author asks you to identify your Prince Charming and qualities you envision and relate them back to yourself. And then we get down and dirty and identify expenses while breathing deeply. And finally choosing a money project to tackle.

5. What Can you Do to Pay Attention? This chapter addresses practical advice. I really liked reading about assembling a financial team as this is something I’ve recognized as lacking in my life. I also need to really go over my numbers and organize my assets, liabilities, income & expenses so I can treat myself as a profitable business.

6. You Owe You – this chapter is awesome in creating a loving savings plan

7. Feel-Good Financial Planning – this chapter helps you define what you value and what is success to you. Kate talks about how you want to feel. She recommends Danielle LaPorte’s books next that I have on my too read list so I’ll dive into these next.

8. True Financial Freedom – and finally Kate defines different types of incomes including passive and residual to get the mind wheels turning.

I’m so excited to really sit down and do all the assignments and create my money love story!