My Week in Costa Rica – Day 3

Man, I really wish I could remember all the amazing things we did in Brendan’s yin classes over the week. Honest to goodness, he is a yin master. It is rather hard to believe that I – the yin student worshiper – has never taken a yin class with Brendan before this trip. If you haven’t done so yet, please do. Brendan teaches the 5pm yin class Saturdays at Moksha Danforth. Just pick up a copy of Sweat Equity and go. There is a free Moksha class in very issue (an amazing piece of information I had to share!).

Thoughts of Brendan came to mind on Sunday when it took the 6pm yin at Moksha Downtown with Bruce. Bruce is a newer teacher (to me at least, but not to the Downtown community). His class was delightful and challenging, much like Brendan’s. Another highly recommended yin experience for anyone looking for suggestions.

So, after the interesting partner work Brendan had us do, my little brain was a stirring for Tuesday day – I was going surfing! Now every guy friend I told about going to Costa Rica for amazing food and yoga all responded with “Are you going surfing?!” My response? “What? Heck no! Are you crazy?” Surfing not only scares me in the same strange way that downhill skiing does, I promised myself I would never do either due to the dramatic fact that I could die! Yes, this is very dramatic.

But what did I find myself saying months before at Moksha Downtown when Jackie said she was going on the surfing excursion? Oh, just saying, “I’ll totally learn to surf with you, Jackie!” What on earth was I thinking?!

After another fantastic vinyasa class with Jackie that morning, the bus pulled up at precisely 9:30am as scheduled to lead me to my doom. Thankfully there was a pretty big group of us going, of which most have surfed before, at one point or another. I however was the only one who had not, nor had ever, touched a surf board.

Me with my surf board before I hit the waves.

There is a certain rush that comes with surfing, which I totally understand now. I was more determined than ever. If I was going to attempt this surfing thing, I was not only going to get up and ride the waves, I was going to get up more than once and do it well!

Okay, so the third goal didn’t happen (not for a long shot) the first two did happen! With a personal teacher at my side pushing me in front of the waves then yelling at me when to stand up, I was hanging 10 by the end of the morning. I really was!

Me surfing! Be impressed!

I get why Costa Rica is a place where everyone is supposed to surf – these teachers make it too easy. I’m not complaining. I actually learned to surf and didn’t die trying.

Race recap: I ran around the bay


On Sunday, I ran around the bay. The 118th annual Around the Bay Road Race in Hamilton, Ontario, to be exact.

It was my first time running this race, or any race longer than 21.1k. This freaked me out. I was convinced I was going to be so slow that I needed to start with the walkers. (Rational thought and laziness prevailed when I realized that this would mean waking up an hour earlier). I was also nervous because Matt and I went away the week before and I didn’t run once. (I’ll write about this in a future post, coming up soon!) My last run before this impromptu week off was terrible. My legs were sore, my back was sore and I was hating running.

It turned out that taking an entire week off was exactly what I needed to conquer Around the Bay. I’m not entirely sure how to recap this. (I felt great! I ran a race! It was over in 3:29:36!), but since it was my strongest and most positive race yet, I want to share with you why I think this was so.


1) I listened to my body

Okay, so going on a cruise to the Caribbean, where running on a boat seemed like a stupid thing to do isn’t exactly “listening to my body.” But before the vacation, I was breaking down, physically and mentally. A relaxing week off where I did nothing but yoga was exactly what I needed. From now on, I need to recognize the difference between needing a break and being lazy. This week? I needed a break.


2) I used a pace bunny

I have never used a pace bunny before. Now that I have, I have no idea why. It was great not only to run with a group for a few hours, it was good to have a marker. I ran solo for the first 10k, but when the 3:30 bunny caught up to me, I decided to go with it. If I got ahead of him, I knew I could ease off for a few minutes. If I got too far behind, I needed to pick him up. It also kept my goal of sub-3:30 front and centre — if I beat this guy, I will achieve my goal. While I don’t think I’m a pace bunny convert just yet, I definitely see the advantages of using one when running a new race or trying to hit a particular time goal. So, thank you, Mr. Pace Bunny.


3) I love crowds

I didn’t think I’d be the type of love crowds. But they make running this far for this long so much easier. And they always show up at the perfect time. Around the 22k mark, I was fading. Hard. The hills were wearing my out, and the sun got really hot. (Not Caribbean hot, but hot for a supposedly winter day in Canada). Then there was a huge group of people with signs, cheering loudly. It makes all the difference. So, anyone who has ever cheered for a random stranger at a race — thank you. We may look seriously pissed off and in a ton of pain (and we usually are), but it’s good to have you there.


4) I was familiar with the course

About two weeks prior to Around the Bay, Kate and I headed to Hamilton to run the last 10k, the section with the hills. This helped immensely, as when I got to the final monster of a hill at the 26k mark, I knew exactly what I was in for. And I managed to run up the entire damn thing. (I’m almost more proud of this than I am of my time.) Sure, I walked a for a minute after I got to the top, but that doesn’t matter. I ran up the effing hill, and I probably wouldn’t have if I was unfamiliar with it.


5) The weather was perfect

The day started off around 5 degrees, and became 12 and sunny by the end of the race. There was no wind. Considering this is a race in March and previous years have seen rain and sleet and snow and wind up the wahzoo, we were really lucky.


6) I trained. A lot.

What can I say? Those series of 60k weeks really paid off.


Now that ATB is over, I feel confident that a sub-4:45 marathon is in my reach. I just need to convince myself that I want to do this.


The run: 30k in 3:29:36

The route:

View Around the Bay Road Race in a larger map

My Week in Costa Rica – Day 2

Okay it has been far too long between Day 1 and Day 2 posts. I am sorry. I know you’re all dying to hear more of my vacation of a lifetime. Erin and I are back from vacations and ready to take on the spring fitness season (more like summer with the weather we’ve seen).

Day 2 was our first full day in Costa Rica! Waking up to the sunshine, monkey’s chirping at us to rise and shine (do monkey’s chirp?), either way, the exotic wildlife was summoning me to the house for our morning ritual of fresh fruit and coffee surrounded in silence. After the morning mediation, lead by Allison, Jackie guided us through a crazy vinyasa class. Crazy as in crazy awesome! I’ve been taking Jackie’s 4pm vinyasa class at Moksha Downtown for the past few months (yes months) all in preparation for this very moment. This class rocked! The creative movement from binds, to bird of paradise through to tree pose was fun! Jackie’s unique transitions keeps you on your toes. Literally.

Then we ate. I look forward to this part the mostest. Then Allison was offering acupuncture sessions in the afternoon for anyone wanting one. After my painful experience from the night before, then falling asleep, I convinced myself to give it another try. When was I ever going to get free acupuncture in Costa Rica ever again? The night before Allison placed a pin in everyone’s zen spot (only if you wanted her to of course). I knew I was carrying a lot of “stuff” in my head these past few weeks, but I was not expecting the pain that came from it. I wanted to rip that pin out and throw it away! My whole head ached from my brain through my face. It was awful. Then magically the pain softened into a head ache then disappeared completely. Needless to say, I was terrified for what could come of this session. Allison suggested a heart opening treatment after I explained last night’s torture and that I didn’t have any aches or muscles to target, with the exception of my head.

Acupuncture is weirdly relaxing. For people who regularly go for treatments, I apologize. This was a whole new experience for me, which I feel obligated to share (it was one of those big moment during this retreat). Sticking pins in places where energy blocks are stored, that’s kinda weird. But when you actually feel heat coming from these spots you didn’t know could hold stress, that was cool. Allison has a voice of an angel and one that I can dose off to without knowing what is happening. She ended the treatment with balancing and grounding exercises, which was basically massaging my head. But then she placed her hands on the top of my head and a huge wave of energy flushed out of my body from the top of my head out through my feet. Dead serious. Like I said I knew I was carrying a lot of thoughts, stress, impossible or impractical dreams, and who knows what else, but I have never felt anything like Allison’s magic ever. I’ve been converted to a believer in the acupuncture.

Then we went to the beach! What else was I to do after the morning I just experienced? We finished the night off with an energy releasing yin class Brendan lead which involved partners (I guess his dancers do this for moves they have trouble with). I can see how this would relax your body. We did everything from hips to chest openers, it was lovely.

Another great day, full of new emotions and experiences. Next up I learn to surf!

My Week In Costa Rica – Day 1

After talking about this yoga retreat for months, it finally happened. Even after my epic birthday yoga challenge, and the Spice Girls show with Erin, which ended around 1 in the morning, I somehow managed to pull myself together, pack my suitcase and catch the cab to the airport with my fellow yogis on time! It was either the beer buzz, lack of sleep or the vacation high settling in – or maybe all of the above – but I was wound for sound. Costa Rica here I come!!

Its almost been a full week of reminiscing about the beaches, the people and the food. Oh my, don’t even get me started on the food! Moira and her Feel Good Guru will change your life. Being back in this real life of mine in Toronto saddens me. A lot. How does one come back to reality after a full week of bliss – silent mornings, waking up to the warm sun, the ocean view, coffee and fresh fruit – yes this was every single morning. The one thing I’ll truly miss is the yoga, a little weird I know. No 7am class will ever compare.That Costa Rican air is intoxicating.

Considering how life changing this experience was for me (and how fit I was being considering this was a vacation – doing two yoga classes each day, plus meditations, plus excursions) however, I did eat an insane amount of food so the fitness portion may bag to differ. I could’t help myself that Ronald, was a cutie, and a great chef too. Ronald (or Ranald as I tried calling him with a Spanish tongue, but was promptly corrected) was the house chef who came to help Moira each day with brunch and dinner.

I want to share the highlights of each day with you all. This gives me another reason to continue wining about how much I want to go back. Let’s start with Sunday’s arrival:

Team Delta force (those of us who flew Delta) arrived in San Jose mid afternoon to the heat and no luggage. But the missing luggage could break our spirits we boarded the bus with no worry – at least I wasn’t concerned – while we waited the arrival of our fellow yogi retreaters. Manuel Antonio was a short hour and a half drive, so we thought. That was until we found out the highway was closed because it was Sunday – of course! Who leaves town on Sundays? Apparently no one. Plan B – take the long way because its shorter, well Dad, not this time. 3 hours later we were checking into our Costa Rican home Casa Maravilla aka the yoga sanctuary.



Dinner was served, Jackie welcomed us, hugged and kissed us all, then Brendan served up some yin yoga – which I apparently need the rest more than the yoga. I totally fell asleep in savasana and poor Allison (Dr. Allison Creech, M.Ed, ND. Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, yup we had our own naturopathic doctor at the retreat) had to wake me from my slumber. Mind you the last time I slept was over 24 hours ago (minus the bus ride and flights) so this is acceptable. The theme was move into stillness right after all.

It was going to be a good week.





From Port Credit to Toronto

A few weeks ago, I had my first 25k run on my schedule. But, I had pubruns on Saturday and book club on Sunday! What’s a girl to do? After some stealthy Google-mapping, I realized that the location of bok club was 25k from my house, give or take a turn in the road for two. So I decided to do it. This meant no drinking at book club (booo!) but it meant seeing entire parts of the Toronto Waterfront I’ve never seen before (yay!). The farthest west I’ve been on foot was to the Humber River bridge, and this route would take me 20k past that and through some of Mississauga’s nicest neighbourhoods. I was excited, and I was scared.


The corner where it all began.


I started slow, taking my time and enjoying the view. It was perfect weather for a long run in February. The trail isn’t consistent in Mississauga: it follows the water then ends and you run through residential area where very special people enjoy their private waterfront properties. Then I ran through some woods, then more waterfront, then more residential area. That seems to be the trend for the first 18k. Then I realized it was 6pm and I was still in Mississauga! I was tired and cold and I had run out of water. The trip went from enjoyable to terrible pretty fast. The CN Tower was off in the distance, taunting me. I took a few dead end turns and had to back track. I grew weary. It grew dark. Protip: running on a trail in the dark is SCARY. Sure, by this time I had passed the Humber River and the trail as partially lit and I wasn’t the only insane runner out that night, but I spent the next 5k convinced someone was going to jump me when I least expected it. But I kept moving forward, focusing on getting to Bathurst Street. I decided if I got to Bathurst Street, I’d be home free.


Toronto: still so far away.


Once I did, my determination kicked in, and I knew I had to make it the whole way home. My legs were rubber and I was a tad dehydrated, but after running for 3 hours, it felt like a small challenge.

I did make it home. 4 and a half hours after I left my friend’s. 3:42 minutes after I first started running.

This was the farthest I’ve ever run and I learned a few important things. 30k runs require more water than 15k runs (I know, right?). I need to get better at pacing myself — I still found it in my to sprint (or do what felt like sprinting) the last k, and that shouldn’t have happened. In fact, this entire run probably shouldn’t have taken ALMOST FOUR HOURS. But speed is something I can work on in the future. For now, I’ll just be impressed with the fact I ran from Port Credit to Toronto.




The run: 28.1k in 3:42


The route:

(Note: every time I google map this, I get a different km total. But you get the idea.)


The birthday yoga challenge

What: Hot Hour
When: Saturday @ 12pm
Where: Kula (304 Brunswick Ave)
Who: Aaron Slade


What: Moksha
When: Saturday @ 3pm
Where: Moksha Danforth (372A Danforth Ave)
Who: Amanda Montgomery


What: Music Flow
When: Saturday @ 6pm
Where: Moksha Yoga Downtown (577 Wellington St. W)
Who: Peter Ward


Yes, it is true I was crazy enough to do three yoga classes on my birthday. Who does this?!? Well, I did and my original plan was to do four classes. Now you can call me really crazy.

The dream of taking on this city wide yoga challenge began three birthdays ago when my boss Kelly at Fashion Takes Action treated me to a yoga and lunch date for my birthday – we actually celebrated a day early because she was tried up with meetings on my real birthday. We took class at Moksha Danforth (Kelly’s regular yoga spot) and this is where I discovered you get a free class on your birthday. The girl at the front desk suggested I come back the next day because class would be free! I didn’t go the next day and have regretted it ever since. And from this very day on I’ve been determined to find out: what other studios in the city are kind enough to give free classes on birthdays?

Last year my birthday was on a Friday and I couldn’t do yoga all day on a work day. Well, I could have…

So, this was the year, my birthday fell on a Saturday and I was determined to squeeze four classes in one day: one at 889, Moksha Uptown, Moksha Danforth and I am Yoga. This was the tentitive plan. I wasn’t sure if Moksha Uptown or I am Yoga would comp my class but I really wanted to do Jock Yoga and Ballet Sculpt. I brought my Passport to Prana just in case, although I would have had a strong case for letting me take class (or, I think so anyway). This was until Erin’s friend Jen told me Kula gives free classes and she would join happily me for bithday yoga. I was totally in, considering Erin bailed on me for her monthly Pubruns. I needed someone to take a class with me!

Then sadly, my four classes became three when I discovered a George Brown friend was in town and wanted to treat me to birthday coffee. At first, this was perfect I would take the 8am at Moksha Danforth then meet her for coffee at 10am, then take the 12pm Hot Hour at Kula with Jen. But brithday coffees turned into birthday brunch when another friend joined us and I couldn’t skip out on meeting my George Brown buddies! My morning class would suffer, not my belly.

First class of the day was awesome, a much better Kula experience than my last. Thank you Jen!! I then hopped on the subway to catch the 2pm at Moksha Danforth because I knew a free class would be waiting for me there. But with all these different studios and times (and somewhat last minute planning, oops) I mixed up my schedule and class was at 3pm not 2pm. Oh man, I thought a yin class would have been a good choice at some point in the day, but that didn’t happen. Another bump in my challenge.

But not to fear Moksha Downtown would treat me to a free class, obviously, so I booked it to the 6pm music class. Which may have been birthday fate because who do I see that morning at brunch was none other than Peter Ward himself. I left Moksha Danforth feeling very sweaty and great I also saw another Moksha teacher Leah Von Zuben as I was leaving the studio. All this yogi love, I could have burst!

I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end this amazing day of birthday yoga when Peter Ward sang “Happy Birthday” to me in class! Hey, it was a music class atfer all and I did request a special birthday shout-out or birthday pose. I was not expecting a birthday chant with our “Oms”. After this class Erin treated me to birthday dinner and tickets to a Spice Girls tribute concert (totally made up for missing yoga with me). Then I had to pack for Costa Rica! Best birthday ever.

For anyone looking to do some yoga (or lots of yoga) on your next birthday Kula and Moksha Danforth will happily comp your class. I promise to discover more places next March 3rd. It will be a Sunday and I have a year to plan my schedule.

And for your pleasure, Wannaba, the Spice Girls tribute band. I know you’re jealous.


Monday Miles: Marathon Training Week #10


I hit a wall this week. I’m getting sick of running. I’m starting to see the marathon (and more quickly, Around the Bay) looming in my future and I don’t feel ready. Not mentally, not physically.

I also started running in the morning this week. As spring arrives, I have more and more social events in the evening. I’ve never been much of a morning person, but it being light at 6:30, coupled with setting the alarm to go off an hour before I need to get out of bed (and hitting the snooze button 75 times) has helped. However, because I don’t have as much time in the morning (I refuse to wake up before 6am), my weekly runs were shorter this week. Tired all the time + lower mileage than I should have? No wonder I’m freaking out!

Monday: rest

I ran 25.1k the day before, and my muscles needed the break. In retrospect, I should have gone to yoga.

Tuesday: 7.2k

My first morning run in a million years! I headed up and back on the Don Valley trail. Easy stuff. Slow stuff.

Wednesday: rest

This was not supposed to be a rest day. I woke up with the distinct feeling I needed to run in the morning, but could not for the life of me remember why. At work, I realized: I had an event that night. No running for me.

Thursday: 8.6k

Another morning run! Yay me! This run started off in 15 degree weather and ended with sleets of rain coming down. Not fun. It was a struggle, but I made it home.

Friday: 7.0k

And the third morning run of the week, up and back on the Don Valley. I was exhausted during this run, and it didn’t feel productive, just painful.

Saturday: 9.5k

So, everyone I’ve talked to about Around the Bay told me to watch out for the hill at the 26k mark. This started to freak me out. I convinced my friend Kate to come to Hamilton with me so we could run the last 10k of the course together. It was cold and windy and the hill was as every bit as mean as everyone told me. I’m just glad I know what I’m in for.

Sunday: 3.2k

And this is where I hit a wall. Yes, that says 3.2k. Kate’s a lot faster than me and the Saturday run took more out of me than I realized. (I knew I needed more hill workouts in my life!) I headed out for what was supposed to be a 30k long run, and everything hurt. I tried to push through, but it wasn’t happening. Then I started freaking out about how I’m not ready for a marathon, and came home in tears. Gah!


So, that was the week that was. It wasn’t pretty. I want to do one more 30-ish km training run before ATB, and it’s looking like Wednesday night is the winner. Also, Matt and I booked a vacation the week before ATB, so I fly in the day before and head straight to Hamilton. Probably not the smartest move on my part.

So, experienced runners: if you have any tips about how to get through times like this, please let me know.

Monday Miles: Marathon Training Week #9


Week #9. It means I’m halfway there with this marathon training. I’m not going to lie: I don’t feel ready. I don’t feel like I’m running enough to do this thing. I’m also sick of running all the time (even though I’m not running as much as I should be.) Gah.

Anyway, here’s how week #9 broke down:

Monday: rest

I ran 28.1k the day before. I was surprised I could even move.

Tuesday: rest

This was not the plan, but it was one of my very favourite colleagues last day on the team. (She’s still in the building, she’s just on a different project now.) You know what that means: DRINKING. And drinking means no running. I probably could have run in the morning, but why?

Wednesday: 7.2k, Hot Hour @ Kula

Three days later, and I was still feeling sore from the 28k epic run of epicness. So I thought I should get a little yoga in, and ran there to get some kilometres on the DailyMile chart. As much as running is pissing me off right now, I still hate the sight of empty days in that chart.

Thursday: 6.2k

This run took me almost an hour to do! Insane, right? I should be cracking out 6k runs in 40 minutes or less in my sleep. It was insanely slippery out and I had a hard time getting a solid footing. I was also exhausted. Why? It was my first morning run in one hundred years! (Okay, of 2012. But still. That’s a long time.)

Friday: 10.8k

I needed to pick up tickets to a Spice Girls tribute band (I am not kidding), so I ran the 5.4km to the store that sold them and back again. This worked out well, because I was seriously contemplating not running. But do you know what I hate more than running? Besides morning runs and blank DailyMile charts, of course! Paying for transit! (I am so grumpy today! I will try to be better the rest of the week. I promise.

Saturday: 7.6k

Saturday was our monthly pubruns meet-up. It was windy and cold so only 3 other brave souls made it out. We did a pretty loop through Taylor Creek Park — I’d never made it that far east on the Don Valley Trail before — before heading to Sarah’s Cafe for a well-deserved brunch.

Sunday: 25.1k

Another epic long run. I had planned for 30k, but wasn’t feeling fresh at all. Unlike last Sunday, where I felt strong until about the 20k mark, this entire run was a struggle. I took inspiration from pubruns the day before, and ran the entire Don Valley Trail to Victoria Park, looped down to the Beach and headed home. It was beautiful. And painful. I couldn’t move for the rest of the day.


I really wanted to do one 30k run before Around the Bay, but that’s probably not going to happen. It’s taper time. I don’t want to taper too much and ruin and training base for the Goodlife Marathon, but want my legs to feel fresh enough that I can power through 30k at under 4 hours. Which, as you know based on my long run past paces, will be a challenge.




Going back to my skating roots


What: Ice Skating
When: Saturday February 26
Where: Evergreen Brick Works
Who: The Bullfrog Power Community


From shaking to skating, the last couple of weekends have been quite eventful for me. Really, I shouldn’t expect anything less the last few weekends before my official birthday weekend. My actual date of birth is Saturday! Yay for me!! What does this fit girl have planned for the big day? Well, squeezing in as many yoga classes as I possibly can at as many different studios who will be kind enough to grant me a class for free. Seeing I’ll be a birthday girl and all, this shouldn’t be a problem.

A post for another day…

Me with my lovely roommate, ready to skate!


Now given the non existent winter we’ve had so far, ice skating is probably the last thing on your mind in terms of outdoor activities – you’re probably like Erin out running each and everyday – I think surf boards and swimsuits are more appropriate these days. They will be for me at least in 3 days, when I head to Costa Rica!

However, there are few better feelings out there than strapping on a pair of skates after a snow fall. Yes, we all love the chilling sensation and bitter excitement gliding across solid ice gives us. I don’t know about you, but as soon as I step out on the ice for the first time, it always takes me back to the days when I once was a figure skater. Believe it or not, but Erin and I both were figure skaters in our youth. We wore the leotards, sequined outfits, while smiling our little hearts out in front of our parents. Those were the better part of my elementary school days. However, with this trip down memory lane comes the feeling of disappointment rushing back when I realize I can barely even twirl anymore. I blame high school and basketball.


Skate, skate, skate!


Skating is a fun, active and very cheap way to spend a day, afternoon, or evening. Have you ever been to DJ skate night at the Harbourfront Centre? You should. I keep telling myself every winter that I need to skate more. This was last Sunday at Evergreen Brick Works (my first skate all year, that is sad). Bullfrog hosted a community skating party where we skated and ate and drank all the cookies and hot chocolate we could handle. Not only is the Brick Works an amazing summer spot for walking trails, biking, and great food, it’s a hot spot for winter fun too.