Sunday, November 29, 2009

Back to my grass roots!

This morning I had the pleasure of speaking in front of the North Shore Athletics half/full marathon run clinic on Lactate Testing. Even though I had laid out what I was going to say the night before, I was truly nervous. There are about 200 people in the clinic but I don't think they were all here today. Before I was introduced to speak, my heart was actually racing in my chest, and I didn't know how I was going to talk slowly when my heart was beating a mile a minute.

Days prior I had started thinking about what I was going to say. I clearly took this very seriously! I even laid in bed wide awake one night because I couldnt stop thinking about what I was going to say.

I started to get a little emotional thinking about my own journey with North Shore Athletics (NSA). In November 2004, I started training for my first marathon, The Vancouver marathon in 05'. It was only 5 years ago that I was in the position of all the people who were watching me today. My life changed the minute I started training for that marathon. For the first time in my life I had a really big goal and nothing was going to stop me. My life revolved around this goal. I was working at a restaurant at the time and I purposely worked on weekends so that I wouldn't go out partying and was fresh and ready for my Sunday long runs. I had been a poor student (not motivated, played sports) all through high school and in my first year at College. It just so happened that while I was training for the marathon, my grades started to improve. All of a sudden I learned about time management. I learned about setting priorities. I spent my time, studying, working and training for the race. I also had developed loads of confidence. My life took an upward spiral and I felt on top of the world. I have never looked back.

It's hard to beleive that in 5 years I have not only finished a marathon, I have completed 5 marathons, 7 x 50km's, 3 x 50 milers, and one 100km. Not to mention the countless 25km and half marathons over the years. That first year, veteran clinic members kept telling me I was going to get addicted, and I utterly and completely did! The crazy thing is, I can roll into NSA any Tuesday/Thursday night or Sunday morning for run club and I can always find a familiar face in the crowd because the same people keep coming back year after year. North Shore Athletics has created an amazing family of runners and I am very proud to be apart of that community.

I am stoked to be working with the clinic members and I honestly think they will all benefit from getting tested. Nothing is better than knowing how your own body works because we are all so unique. You are leaving everything up to chance when you use an equation to estimate your training zones. This test takes out all the guess work! I have been training off HR for years now and I rarely run or race without my HR monitor.

If anyone is interested in Lactate Testing or has any questions, please feel free to contact me. Email:

See you in the trails!!!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A perfect rainy Saturday

This morning a girlfriend of mine, Darlana, and I went on a glorious, rainy, and snowy hike up the BCMC. We used to play basketball together in College and it had been ages since we had seen each other. She is from Victoria but is going to UBC to get her teaching degree. She will make one amazing French Immersion teacher.

She had warned me that she is 'slow' and that she may 'hold me back'. I kind of laughed because every time I try and get someone to come do something active with me, they laugh out loud stating that they will 'slow me down', amongst other things. I then proceed to express that I would never invite someone to come adventuring with me and then leave them in the dust. Sometimes, I just want to hang out with a friend whilst doing some physical, instead of just chatting over coffee (which is also great to) or going solo. I like showing people from out of town our local mountains and the quick hikes we have at our disposal. I also wanted to get up in the snow and bask in the glory of the winter wonderland we have up high.

She was having a hard time at the start and yes the pace was slower than mine. BUT, I am in a recovery phase of my training and I could care less if I was walking a mile an hour or moving quickly. Today was all about just getting out and being in nature. It was about taking someone somewhere they had never been. She was feeling a bit dizzy and was stopping every few minutes. I told her to 'keep moving forward' just like I would say to myself in an ultra. After a while, she felt better and recognized that when she stopped less, she felt better. Hitting the snow line seemed to help as well!

We got to the top, smiles on our faces, wet and happy. We got some hot tea and made our way back down the gondola back to the car. It was a fantastic way to spend the rainy day. Thanks D!!!

See you in the trails!!!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Inspired by the Average Joe

I know I have said it before and I'll say it again...I ABSOLUTELY LOVE MY JOB!!!

I am a personal trainer and run coach. I work with all types of people of varying fitness levels. I love being able to work with people and push them beyond their known limits. I enjoy teaching people about health and wellness. There is so much false information out there and it is important to be educated.

If you don't know, The Biggest Loser is one of my favorite TV shows. I tune in every Tuesday to watch it (it's the only show I sit down to watch).

Last night was a surprise (to me) episode called "where are they now". This involved showing past seasons participants in their own environment to see what they have been doing since leaving the show. Most of the participants had kept the weight off. Most finished the show at a bit of an extreme and had put back on 10-20lbs to be at a maintainable weight. They looked great and it was truly inspiring to see their transformations and what they were doing now to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Many of them quit their jobs and became trainers while others became motivational speakers. Many are paying it forward by reaching out to those in the community and helping others achieve what The Biggest Loser helped them achieve. Many of them will say that the show 'got them their life back'. During the show, one contestant (who had never done this before the show) really found a love for running and has since completed a few marathons. She decided to plan a 5km run in her community. She thought she might get a 100 people out. She ended up getting 500 people out which in her community she said was unbelievable. She just wanted to get people moving and she did! Hundreds of runners came up to her after the race to tell her how much watching her on the show inspired them and how they had lost over a lot of weight because they decided to get off the couch.

Unfortunately, the winner of the first season (8 seasons ago), who had lost over 200lbs on the show, had put it all back on! Bob the trainer went to see him at his house. His reason for the weight gain was because he had worked so hard to get it off, it was even more daunting a task to maintain it. He kept saying, tomorrow, tomorrow I will change...and never did. I bet we can all relate to that. I's sure I am not the only one at one point or another to have said "I'll start on Monday" and never did. He told Bob that he knows he has to go back to the "strict way" to lose the weight but Bob was not agreeing. It's not about having to go from one extreme to the other, it's about finding balance that's going to work for you day to day. That contestant knows how to eat healthy, he knows how to exercise, he just needs to do it everyday and keep it consistent. Exercising over 6 hours a day (like they do on the show) and eating a very limited amount of calories is not realistic in the long term. One thing Bob kept telling him was that it was 'OK'. It is OK that he gained all the weight back. What's not OK is to do nothing about it.

Here is a crazy stat: 4.4 billion dollars is spent every year in the U.S on gastric bypass surgery. An unforeseeable amount of money is spent because there is an overwhelming amount of obese people in North America. It's actually cheaper to be Fit!!!

I'm a little too passionate on the topic and this could go on forever so I'll nip it in the bud. I see it as my life mission to help educate as many people as I can on how to be happy, healthy, and fit. I don't mean crazy ultra runner fit. I mean general fitness. You do not have to kill yourself to be fit. That is a misconception. Find something you enjoy and stick with it!

The biggest thing I have told you and will reiterate here again... keep it consistent. Exercise most days of the week (5-6x) even if that means getting out for a walk. And the second most important thing is to fuel up on nutritious whole foods. Think about the foods your are putting inside your body and how they are going to help fuel it optimally. Just think, a donut is going to do absolutely nothing for you, in fact, it will put stress on the body. A handful of almonds and an apple on the other hand will give you energy, increase your good cholesterol (HDL) and lower the bad (LDL), and provide you with important vitamins/minerals. So next time your hungry and in need of a snack/meal, think about what you are choosing and how it will affect your body. You always have a choice, remember what your goals are and make a choice that will help support your goals.

On that note, I am off for a run!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mountain Running in the Canadian Rockies: A Book Review!!!!

I have always wanted to go run in the Canadian Rockies. The word "Rockies" in itself just sounds epic.

The other day I had a realization. I spend so much of my time thinking of all the places across the country I want to go run when in fact, I haven't even really explored what MY OWN country has to offer. And then POW...3 days later I stumble upon a book which so happened to be called "Mountain Running in the Canadian Rockies". I was stoked because now I have my own little guide to take along with me! A guide to all the best mountain and trail running in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

I can't beleive I have never got my butt out there to run when I have run in the Colorado Rockies twice in the last 2 years!

The author, Bob Walker, has done an exceptional job with this book. It just came out in 2009 and thus is extremely up to date. It contains classic routes, new routes, long distance runs, epic adventures, and short trails. If you are new to trail running/adventuring there is a quite a few pages on what you might need in terms of food, gear, and travel. Also, other topics discussed: Solo travel, getting lost, injury, animals, and weather and climate. Those are all important things that are easily overlooked.

Each route is complete with a map, GPS tracks of all routes, distance, elevation, estimated time, directions, route description, amazingly gorgeous pictures, and overall route quality. For anyone who is environmentally concerned, this book was printed on recycled paper.

I am sooooo incredibly stoked to go check out many of these runs this year. And thanks to this book, I can pick the best of the best!!!!

See you in the trails and THE CANADIAN ROCKIES!!!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Back in the game!

Alright! It's officailly time to get back at er'! I spent a wonderful weekend at Mt. Baker with good friends, lounging, snowshoeing, eating, and drinking. I am dying to run again. My body is just not the same without it. I love it, I miss it, and I am ready to get in the best shape of my life.

Last year I did a lot of running and not a lot of anything else. I kept trying to throw things in (the gym, yoga, crossfit) but I was never consistent with it. That's the key to success...consistency. I have been going to yoga 2-4x/week and that is something I want to keep up as well as strength training 2x/week. If I start now, and stay consistent, I am hoping to keep it going at a maintenance level throughout the running season instead of just stopping. Once I stop, it's a lot harder to start all over again.

Keep your eyes open as I am hoping for some amazing snow adventures to come. I am determined to learn to ski tour this winter. I have not skied since Gr.7 which was back in 1997, so this should be an interesting learning curve. Hopefully an easy one! I loved skiing, it was my favorite winter sport but snowboarding became all the rage and I switched. I never really enjoyed it as much and pretty much stopped going up the mountain all together because of it (and lift prices).

The last 2 weeks I had been dealing with some tight muscles (calf, IT-Band, and hip flexor). A little A.R.T seemed to clear that up and I am ready to take on the world.

See you in the trails, hopefully with a little dusting of snow!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mountain Masochist 50 mile race report

This past weekend I flew to Lynchburg Virginia to run the Mountain Masochist 50 miler. I chose this race because it is part of the Montrail Ultra Cup and top 2 males/females get an automatic entry into Western States 100 miler, June 2010. That was the goal!

Tamsin Anstey, Gary Robbins and I drove down to Seattle at 5:30am on Thursday morning. We got there pretty early as to avoid Seattle traffic. We filled the time however, playing a tedious little game my dad taught me when I was 7 years old. It's called 'the box game' and I won! Before we knew it we were on a flight to Atlanta and not too long after that we hopped on another plane to Virginia. We arrived in Virginia at 10:00pm, and were greeted by the race director himself, Clark Zealand.

(Left: Old RD David Horton, Right: New RD Clark Zealand)

We adjusted our clocks 3 hours ahead, which made it 7pm our time (i.e dinner time). I would normally be carbo loading this night with a big plate of pasta but it was to late and nothing was open but a grocery store. It took me forever to figure out what was going to do the trick. I had even thought about buying a microwaveable pasta but just couldn't bring myself to do it. What I came up with was some granola and yogurt and a couple rice cakes with peanut butter and banana. Sad I know. We did manage to eat some baked potato from Wendy's in the Atlanta Airport! It was soon time for bed, although I had a difficult time falling asleep because of the time change.

I woke up Friday morning feeling awful. My throat was sore and I had a pretty bad cough. I thought for sure going into this trip that I was starting to really feel better and was confident my cold symptoms would be gone by race day. I tried to drink a ton of liquids and downed some Ricola throat lozenges, which seemed to help. Peter was very kind and sweet and put me up in my own room (he wasn't there). I guess he didn't realize it when he booked the room online but he chose a smoking room (all they had available at the time). In fact, I think the entire floor was a smoking floor because it reaked when I went up there. I walked into the room thinking perhaps it would smell better than the hallway but it was worse. They obviously tried to mask the smell with cleaning spray and the mix of that and smoke was horrible. Anywho, the lovely lady at the front desk switched my room and I was good to go. I just can't beleive they still allow smoking in hotel rooms!

The 3 of us went for a little 'get the legs moving again' run. I quickly realized I wasn't breathing all that well and my throat hurt to inhale. I wasn't really maintaining pace with Gary and Tamsin and decided to run back to the hotel, while they kept going.

The Hotel was starting to fill up with runners. Package pick-up and the pre-race pasta party/pre-race briefing was going on at the Kirkley Hotel that evening. It was great to meet some new faces as well as the famous David Horton. I could write an entire blog on David alone.

(David Horton speaking at the banquet)

What a character! His energy is amazing and I was blown away by his presence. The 3 of us opted out of the pasta dinner and made our own from items we bought at the grocery store. I normally have chicken breast, potatoes and broccoli. The best we could do was by organic canned chicken (like tuna), a microwaved potato (came in plastic which was supposed to be left on to steam it) and raw broccoli, which we microwaved in water. All in all, a decent meal. The banquet was filled with good energy. Geoff Roes came and sat at our table. He is a super nice guy and I must have asked him a million questions. He has broken many course records this year (Wasatch 100, The Bear 100, and a couple others) and was going for the CR at this race, which was previously set by Dave Mackey (6:48). It was going to be tight with all the fast guys who came out to compete (Gary Robbins, Lon Freeman, Valmir Nunes). Valmir holds the world record for the 100km (6:15) and broke the Badwater 135 mile CR! It was going to be a good show down.

I left the banquet a bit early and hit the hay around 9pm.

I woke up at 2:45am and started to get ready. Ate, changed, and packed up again. I was waffling between using my camelbak (which I always use) and a hand held water bottle. There were going to be 16 aid stations. It was either go fast and light and stop more often or go with what I always use and skip most of the aid stations. Although it is heavier, the camelbak allows me to keep my hands free. I also don't have to stop as much and it holds all of my fuel. The one downside is that there are no outer pockets, therefore I need to take my bag off to get something out of it. To solve this problem however, I had pockets sewn onto my shorts, where I stashed my gels and salt pill container.

For some reason, I wasn't nervous. For this race, I found I was more excited to just go do what I came to do. In my mind, Tamsin and I were going to be dooking it out with Justine Morrison, who was last years winner. I didn't care to beat Tamsin. For all I cared, she could have won (which she did), I could have won, or ideally we could have crossed the line together.

There were 5 buses that shuttles us to the start. It was dark and cold but those buses kept us very warm.

(the Jiffy John line up. You don't see this at many ultra's. The ironic thing is that there was forest in every direction and Horton was telling everyone to hit the bushes!)

The 3 of us went for a warm-up run 30 minutes before the start. Being warm made the start of the race a bit more manageable. Tamsin, Gary and I lined up near the front. I slowly inched my way back as I didn't want to get caught up in the lead men's pace. I scanned around for Justine to see where she was but it was really dark and without knowing what she looked like, it was challenging. Gary met her last year but he couldn't find her in the crowd either.

(The start line at 5:30am)

With a 5,4,3,2,1, countdown from Clark, we were off. Tamsin and I ran together and kept a comfortable pace. A really nice local girl named Heather and another guy kept close behind us. The first section is an out and back along a concrete road. I scanned the runners coming back to see if there were any other women in the pack, but there were not. This meant Tamsin and I were leading the woman's race. Just after an hour had passed Heather says to me, "I wonder how far ahead Justine is? She usually starts out really fast". I told her I never saw her at the start and that I didn't see any other women in front of us on the out and back section (It wasn't until Aid Station 4, that someone told us we were in 1st and 2nd place. Heather and I went back and forth a few times in the first hour. She passed me on the first few small climbs. It didn't take long for me to realize I was a much better down hill runner and I took advantage of that to put a lead on her early in the race.

Tamsin and I ran together for the first 3 hours. I was feeling good in terms of my body but knew I was sucking wind a bit in my chest. I was coughing quite a bit at one point and Tamsin asked how my throat was feeling. It was the last thing I was trying to think about so I gave her a pretty short answer, and said, "it is what it is". We got separated when I had to take my second 'potty stop'. She didn't get to far ahead of me and she came into the halfway aid station only 3 minutes ahead.

(The beautiful Blueridge moutains)

Those 2 'P-stops' early on started to suck my energy. I could feel myself starting to fade. I have always dealt with the same issues and haven't found a solution to it yet. Sorry to get personal here people but it's frustrating when you are constantly trying to replace the calories that are coming out the other end. It's also dehydrating. As much as gels work for me and provide me with energy, I think they might also do the opposite at times. It seems after 5 gels or so I need to make a pit stop. Anywho, I have learned to deal with it and be as efficient as possible with my stops. I will work on finding a solution for next season.

I am not to sure what happened to me after the half-way mark but I just started to feel horrible. My legs were ok, a bit sore, but not bad. I had ran everything up until that point and came into the halfway 20 minutes before I thought I would. I gradually started to feel really nauseous and I lost the ability to take in food. Normally I can stomach gels up until the last hour or so of the race but today I was 4.5 hours from the finish when that happened. I ran/walked up to the loop aid station.

I was running around a guy wearing an Orange shirt. I told him how I felt and he said, "there is a lot more challenging terrain up ahead. You are a good downhill runner, take advantage of that, and keep moving". I came up to the only section of single track on the entire course. Both Peter and Gary said this was the place where Tamsin and I should really start to lay it down because this is our kind of terrain. I came into this section in the most negative head space. I couldn't eat and I had lost the energy to run. I thought for sure I was done and all I wanted to do was drop. I was however, still in 2nd, and that drove me to keep moving.

This was the one time I pulled upon my DNF at Miwok. I knew that DNF would come in handy at some point! I thought back to that day and how I felt after I dropped. I did not want to give up. I thought, as long as I was still in 2nd, even if I had to walk, there was no reason to drop. I thought about how mad I'd be if I dropped and later found out that the next women would have come in hours behind. So I walked all the hills and some flats and ran all the downhills. The loop actually went by so fast and I still came out 10 minutes before the split on my arm said I would! That lifted my spirit a bit. Even though I walked the majority of that 5 mile loop, no one passed me. I kept looking over my shoulder wondering when all the people were going to come, and no one did! So, I changed my game plan. I knew it wasn't my day so I was going to do what I needed to do to get it done. I came out of that loop with 12 miles to go and I remember thinking, ok, I can do 12 miles.

I just want to mention how enjoyable it was to have 16 aid stations. Each one had a sign saying what aid station it was and how far to the next. It was rare for aid stations to be separated by more than 3 miles. I found it uplifting to think to myself 'alright, only another 2.5 miles to the next, and 1.9 miles to the next. Those aid stations broke the race down into tiny little increments and gave me something to focus on.

The trouble came when I started dry heaving! This started somewhere around the6.5- 7 hour mark. What was happening (I think) is that my throat was so dry/sore that my salt pills were almost getting stuck there. Every time I had one, I never fully thought it was going all the way down. Anywho, I started dry heaving. I must have pulled over 6-7 times to do so. 4 of those times I hacked up a little something plastic in my mouth. But, every time it happened, I felt 100 times better. It was the weirdest thing that has ever happened to me in a race. So now, not only was I not eating anything, I couldn't take it any electrolytes. I did not eat a single thing for the last 3 hours.

Knowing this was how my day was going to be, I needed a plan. If I can't eat, what can I consume for energy? The answer: COKE!!!! I got to aid station 14 and asked them if they had a bottle I could put coke in. A lovely man went to his car, got me a plastic water bottle, and I filled it to the brim. This drink became my savior and took me into the final miles of the race.

All the guys around me were power hiking the hills and I had no hesitation in following suit. I could run downhill just fine, flats were a slog, and uphills were a hike. I had no problem hiking. No other women were in sight so I just kept moving. I got to aid station 15 and there were a whopping 4 miles to the last aid station. This section was nice and undulating and I found a steadier rhythm here. I had somehow come out of my negative head space and the closer I got to the finish the more excited I got. I was just so damn happy that I had beat the mental beast! I knew that there were only 3 miles of downhill to go once I reached aid station 16, and that was my focus. If I could hold off Heather until then, I had this in the bag.

In the last 3 miles I was starting to get pretty tight and felt a calf cramp coming on. I didn't want to risk taking a salt pill and continue this saga of dry heaving but I also didn't want to cramp and have to stop running. I decided to take the pill. Boy did I suffer for that one. The dry heaving started all over and again it didn't stop until I dislodged this little piece of plastic. I was literally sticking my finger down my throat to initiate the gag reflex to get that thing out sooner, allowing me to carry on with the race.

Those last 3 miles seemed like forever. The terrain consisted of runnable switchbacks that weren't that steep. I still had to put forth a lot of energy to get down the hill. I just kept moving and eventually the terrain got steeper. Yippy!!! The trail popped out onto a road and then I noticed something on the ground. It said '1 mile to go' in pink spray paint. I was so excited. I was so happy for this day to be coming to a close.

It got super hot and I had tied my shirt up like we used to do in elementary school. I must have been delirious because I started playing around with my hat. I thought it might be interesting to tilt it sideways to have a more comical effect when I crossed the line. Then I changed my mind and had it backwards only to change my mind one more time and went back to the sideways look. I wish someone could have been filming me during this time, it would have looked very odd. Nonetheless, that decision making process made the last mile go by pretty damn quick and there it was...the mighty finish line!!!! I crossed the finish line in 8:39:55 and posed with flexed arms with a sideways cap and my shirt tied up to the side.

Gary came over and gave me a giant hug and told me how the guys race turned out and how tamsin finished up. I found myself in a state of Blah. I felt no emotion. As happy as I was inside to be done, I felt pretty beat up both physically and mentally.

In the end, I am happy I went and experienced another character builder. It just proves to me how tough we are as human beings. You can be in such discomfort and mentally torn but the body just keeps moving.

Big shout out to Tamsin Anstey who finished in a time of 8:09, which is the 5th fastest time ever. What a great finish to an awesome season for you! Congrats to Gary Robbins for taking over 20 minutes of his previous best time at MMTR50. He wanted to break 7 hours and he ended up finishing in 7:00:28 (pretty damn close).

To finish off the night, there was a post race banquet dinner back at our hotel. They gave out many awards and it was nice to exchange and share stories. We went to bed shortly thereafter. We had to be up at 4:15am because we had to catch a flight at 6am the next morning. Traveling is hard the very next day after a race. Holy crap am I sore. Tamsin can hardly walk. All I had to say to her was, "welcome to the wonderful world of ultrarunning". Thank god for handles in washroom stalls that allow you to brace yourself so you can sit down slowly!

(7 of the top 10 women)

(The Canadian Contingency)


- Brooks Cascadia trail shoe

- Brooks epiphany short (which I added pockets to)

- GU Just Plain

- Thermolytes, electrolyte replacement

Alright, that brings the season to a close. It has been great and I learned a lot this year. I had my first DNF (miwok at 80km) and my first injury (broke my cuboid bone). I also had a lot of good races that I am very proud of. As much as I am looking forward to the break, it wont be long before I am back out on the trails.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The day before...

Today is the day before I leave for Virginia! I am excited. I am also a little bit concerned. It all started with a sore throat about 4-5 days ago. After about 2 days it went away and the sore throat was replaced by the sniffles. And just like Tamsin said it would, the sniffles lessened and were replaced with coughing and sneezing. She said that coughing and sneezing was the bodies way of releasing the virus/cold. I took Monday and Tuesday off and today I ran for 30 minutes. It felt alright, but my heart rate was a bit higher on the hills and I could feel myself wheezing a bit through the chest. I rarely get sick but I often do when I am tapering.

I am trying to stay positive and I know the less I think about it, the better I will be come Saturday. Today, a client of mine (the mother of a high school friend of mine) told me that the best basketball game she ever saw me play in high school, was a game where I had the flu!

I know I can rise above and even if I am feeling lousy the morning of the race, I will tow the line knowing I did everything in my power to get there fit and ready to rock out. Laisez Fair!

Gary, Tamsin, and I are leaving for the Seattle Airport at 5:30am! Should be a nice quick drive. I bought a new book to read on the airplane. It's called, "Creating Magic: 10 common sense leadership strategies from a life at Disney.

I had an interview with the owner of On the Edge Fitness on Monday. She asked me a question I have been asked a lot in previous interviews with employers. What makes a good leader? I always find this answer really tricky. I think back to previous employers or people in my life to find the answer but I always come up short. I've realized that I haven't ever had that one person who I can say I 'looked up to' or was my 'role model'. I have taken bits and pieces from those around me but I can't say that there was ever one person who showed me the way. I have always had to do that on my own. So, when it comes time to explain what characteristics I think leaders possess, I am usually at a loss for words.

In jobs, I always find myself moving up the ranks and employers wanting me to be in leadership positions. It's definitely something I do naturally but also am intimidated by. I have always been told I have a lot of potential, but no one has ever figured out, including myself, how to get me there. I don't think it is up to someone else to get me to where I want to be and I certainly do not like to be told what to do. I need to want to do it and I need to want to be the best I can be. Although, a little direction can always help!

The one thing I find when I am on my way to reaching my potential (in work), is a loss of balance. I have figured out over the years that I can't work 12 hour shifts day in and day out. I need to sleep 8 hours a day or else my body shuts down. I remember this one time I was working double shifts at Innovative Fitness (back in 08). I think for almost 5 days straight (starting on a Monday) I was up at 5am, working by 6am, had my last session at 7pm, and home at 9pm (with little breaks here and there throughout the day). Of course, I had to eat dinner and wind down when I got home and I wasn't getting to bed until 10-1030pm. Thus, not getting my 8 hours of sleep. At the end of the week on Friday, we had a team challenge to run the 'figure 8' which was a run around the facility in West Vancouver. I think it was only a 6-8 minute run depending on fitness level. My boss told me and my co-worker Justine that he expected us to run under 6 minutes. It was 5:45am and I was tired. I shot out at a pretty fast pace and after about 100 meters I just burst into tears. I broke down. I was tired and my body and mind were telling me so.

That was not the last time I cried. There have been many times when I have been running with Peter where I have burst into tears. And every time I've been under a great deal of stress and have not been getting enough sleep, and he starts pushing the pace. It's as though, pushing my body past it's current limit, sends it into emotional overdrive. It's not until that point do I ever admit to myself how stressed or overworked I am. Since I have been self employed and in complete control of my life, I don't think I have cried once on a run. I am sure most of you think I am crazy for even having burst into tears running but it's the truth.

I left Innovative Fitness last Christmas to figure out what it was I wanted, both in work and in life. I loved working there but work, running, and my personal life was a juggling act. I found that I was tired all the time and my workouts weren't quality and neither were my relationships with others. So I quit. With no plan. I had lots of customers telling me I was crazy to quit when the economy was so bad.

"There are no jobs you know", They'd say.

It didn't matter. My life was going to be run by me, not the economy. I have a very special Uncle who lives in Montreal, Uncle Steve. We got to chatting when he was down last Christmas. He was in a similiar position as myself and had left his job (or cut back work). He gave me the best piece of advice. He said, "Nicola, follow your bliss". That is exactly what I have been doing ever since. I have been the director in my own life. Making my own choices in business, life, and play. I must say however, I took these last 9 months all for me. I had enough work to live and travel and I had more time than most to spend with my family and friends. For the first time in a long time, I wasn't working 2 jobs, while going to school, to pay for school. I was never that kid who took summer off to go play and travel, I couldn't afford it! This was the first time I had ever taken time for just myself.

I learned a few things in that process. 1) I like to be busy (2) I like being around others (3) I like variety. When I left Innovative Fitness, I left behind the 24 hour dance party. That's what it felt like. I had been around 100's of people all day long and then suddenly it was just me and maybe a couple clients. It took me a couple months to get used to it but eventually I stopped missing it. I grew into my new life. I had time, not just for me but for others. I had time to have amazing runs in the trails for hours. I had time to grocery shop and make myself and Peter healthy wonderful meals. I grew my love for cooking. To compliment my training gig, I went back and worked at North Shore Athletics and Tommy's restaurant part-time and I had variety back in my life. People kept telling me that I was moving in reverse because I was back working at NSA. Someone actually said to me "why are you working at Tommy's when you have a University degree?". To this day I still fill in shifts for both those companies because I genuinely love working there. I do what makes me happy and that did. It was like having time to volunteer for your favorite charity, although I was getting paid, which was nice as I built my clientele. I even had the time to extend my education and get certified as a Lactate Tester. That was something I always wanted to while working at Innovative. For whatever reason it never happened and it was one of the first things I did when I left. And I love it!

My last race of the season is on Saturday. I am looking forward to it. I am also looking forward to the journey that lies after it. I will keep following my bliss and I know it will lead me in the right direction because it is guided from the heart.

So let's see where this 'potential' takes me next. For now though, I hope it takes me to first or second place at Mountain Masochist 50, gaining me an automatic entry into Western States 100, June 2010!!!!!!!!!!!!

I just thought I'd mention that I honestly only had the intention of writing the top 2 paragraphs and somehow it all just flowed right out of me!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Not much left to do...

All I have left to do is relax...

The official relaxation part of the taper has begun. Although, I don't know how relaxing cramming 5 days of work into 3 days is going to be! My vehicle decided it wasn't going to start on Friday. Maybe it was bad Karma telling Gary Robbins how amazing my $700 car has been so far. It almost lasted a whole month without any problems, I was hoping for longer. Maybe this is a sign I should really import a beautiful new Mitsubishi Delica!!!!

The kicker
...wait for it...this morning I got a tow truck to take it down to the mechanic. I didn't bother to try and start it as it didnt start on Friday or Saturday. The mechanic calls, he got it to start first try! WOW...lesson learned there! Attempt to start your car before paying $50 for a tow.

Saturday I finished my last long run of 2 hrs 40 minutes with the Mountain Madness Trail Clinic. It was nice to run with good friends all training for the Phantom Trail Race (12km,19km, 24km) which is going on November 14th starting/finishing at the LSCR.

That afternoon Peter and I drove up to my family cabin at MT. Baker. It was great to get away and actually relax, play a crap load of backgammon (we have a somewhat friendly competition going to which I am losing), make an amazing dinner, and finish the night off with a movie...well part of it because I fell asleep 20 minutes later. It wasn't exactly the most exciting Halloween but I have been feeling under the weather and just needed to sleep and recover! And sleep I did, almost 12 hours thanks to daylight savings!

NEW AND EXCITING NEWS...Remember those secret trails I keep talking about and frolicking in, well, the time has come for them to be revealed. I introduce you to...

(Fat Dog 100 Logo- the name came about because it is a trail in the area and it's badass!)

Check out this website Fat Dog 100 for more details and to see some amazing photos of the race. This one is for sure on my list to do, whether its this year or next! I am already familiar with 50 miles of the course and I can tell you it's beautiful, challenging, and unforgettable.

Alright, here's to more relaxing and patiently waiting in excitement for Saturday's race.


ps- I picked up my car from the mechanic with only a minor bill and it seems to be working great! I got my Percy Wheels back!!!