Marathon Training Days #111 & #112: Retreating

All photos provided by JK. Thanks, JK!

All photos provided by JK. Thanks, JK!

I spent this weekend at the Kula yoga retreat. I’d never been on a retreat before, but Jill loves them. JK wanted to sign up for this one and is the person who sent the info my way and encouraged me to sign up too. It being only for a weekend + it being run by my favourite studio + it being at one of the greenest buildings in Canada + having a friend there with me = it seemed like the right time to give a retreat a try. After all, it was only 2 sleeps. If I really hated it, I’d be home soon.

I was into the idea of giving my body a break, eating amazing food and having access to outside. I wasn’t into the potential of sharing all the feelings. So, off we went on Friday. Over the course of the weekend, there would be four classes: Friday evening (Linseed), Saturday morning (Christi-an), Saturday evening (Linseed) and Sunday morning (Christi-an). Each session was about 90 minutes. Linseed’s classes were pretty gentle while Christi-an’s were more active and involved mini-handstand workshops. I still can’t do a handstand, by the way. This is driving me crazy.

Other than the classes, the retreat was relatively unstructured. JK and I went outside and hiked at pretty much every minute we weren’t reading in the great sunroom. Lots of tea and sunshine were consumed.


Instead of giving you  day by day recap, I’m trying to structure my retreat into lessons I can bring with me into my daily life. How very yogi of me.

1. Four classes in three days is a lot of yoga

I’m training for a marathon, I thought I was in shape! But by the end of the third class on Saturday night, I was sore and achy from all the classes. Of course, all the hiking didn’t help. Expect yoga retreats to be relaxing, but not too relaxing. Especially if you aren’t doing yoga 3-5 times a week already.

2. I need to deal with my feelings

Even though this was my first retreat, I got the impression the spiritual side of this retreat was toned down a lot — and I still found it to be too much. I tried my best to be game, sharing my intentions and devoting my Sunday morning practice to someone,  but it didn’t feel authentic to me at all. I’m game if it works for you, but I just felt silly dedicating my practice to someone. But I still feel silly ohming and bowing (it is waaaay too much like church for me).  This is more about me than the retreat and I need to work on this by either being more comfortable about opting out or trying to understand this side of yoga better.

3. Being outside is awesome

I need to go outside more. When it’s cold and gross in the city, I tend to stay inside, hunker down,  block the outdoors with computer screens and tablet screens and television screens. The weather on Friday and Saturday wasn’t great, but we went outside anyway and hiking through hail was more idyllic than it should have been. I know being at a retreat put me in that mindset, but there’s no reason I can’t bring a little bit of that back to my day-to-day life.

4. Being unplugged is about purpose, not disconnect

The first night at the retreat, the Boston Manhunt was happening. It drove me insane that I couldn’t follow it. Then I decided I could. This was an important, developing story and I am a journalist. Once it was all over, I read a few key articles, then put my phone away. For the rest of the weekend, I didn’t check Twitter. I didn’t “surf” the internet. But I did let myself use my phone. Everything I did with a screen was done with intention. And that’s how it should be all the time — not just when I’m at a retreat.

5. I need to be more open

Open physically, but also open emotionally and open to experiences. I enjoyed the retreat a lot more than I thought I would. It was beautiful and relaxing and fun. I’m glad I went. Now if I can get my shoulders and hips more open, I will win at retreating.

I’m sure there are others, but these seem to be the big ones. My intention for this summer is to go outside way more, unplug more and general be more mindful and more awesome.

I can do this after the marathon, though.

Me! In a tree! Being one with nature!

Me! In a tree! Being one with nature!

Moksha Yoga Teacher Training Day #19

This morning I was antsy! My brain and body were all over the place, I was freaking out over the afternoon to come. Today was my presentation day! And when you’re slammed doing yoga all the time at very moment, you don’t have time to think about anything else.

In addition to training and lectures a big chunk of week 3 and week 4 are spent on presentations. Each trainee my get up in front of the whole group and present for 10 minutes. I know this is not difficult. But public speaking is one of the most feared things in the whole world! I get nervous about the idea of public speaking, but it is something I truly want to be really good at. I wanted to be prepared and I wanted to do a good job. I did not feel prepared nor did I think it was going to be good.

I struggled with my presentation topic right up until the week before training. I debated with the idea of getting personal and sharing something deep – which is completely scary – or able the blog or fitness things. I was stuck. Nothing felt right and I didn’t want to brag about me, and talk only about me. Ahhhhh! This was really hard.

My LA sangha! My  presentation inspiration!

My LA sangha! My presentation inspiration!

The morning came and our asana was lead by my fellow trainees. Although the class was great and brought my spirits up, it was almost 2 hours long! And it was hot! After class, Bryde spent the morning talking about our Distance learning projects: how we’re going to spend the next 11 months of our lives, basically, to complete the teacher training. Training doesn’t end after 30 days. That would be too easy. For the remainder of the year, I have projects to complete based on the 7 pillars, the philosophy and foundation Moksha prides itself on. After lunch was journaling time and for me this meant presentation practicing time.

Thank goodness the afternoon class was with Ezmy! I’ve missed Ezmy so much. This class was the boost I needed to get me amped up for my presentation. I finally decided to speak on community and how a community has the power to change an individual. I used myself as an example with my community at Moksha Downtown. I’ve become a person I never in my life would have guessed. I have my community to thank for this. I also snuck in the idea of consuming mindfully as a way of living green. We as individuals have the power too to make change, stating in our own communities. I had to leave with a live green lesson!

Whew! I am so glad that’s over! Next up I’d was practice teaching on the Saturday. Then I’d be home free till the end.




Marathon Training Day #110: Hills and Harmony Dawn


Friday! Yay, Fridays! This Friday was extra-special because I had a half-day at work (yay!) in order to attend a weekend yoga retreat with JK (uh….). I had a lot of feelings going into the yoga retreat and I will share them all. But first: leaving at 1:30 meant I had to do my hill work in the morning. Boo.

I’m not great at running in the mornings. In the winter, when it’s dark and cold, it’s impossible. But now that it’s sunny at 7am, I can handle it. I woke up at 6:30 and figured if I got out the door by 7am, I could get what I needed done.

The planned run was a 60 minute hilly route and I had to run at least 6 rolling hills. The best and closest place for monster hills is Riverdale Park, so I ran there and decided to tackle each hill twice, then head home. Other than the fact the park was mega muddy, this run was unremarkable. I’d rather run 100 hills than do sprint repeats. And after the run, I felt great. Morning work-outs, when I have the willpower to get up and do them, are the best.

I then went to work and at lunch, headed to Kula to meet up with JK and grab a ride to Harmony Dawn, the eco-retreat where the yoga retreat was being held. It was so lovely to get out of the city and be in the woods. Two teachers — Christ-an and Linseed — led the retreat, trading off teaching classes. The first class was a gentle one led by Linseed, which was a good way to ease into the weekend. I don’t have enough yoga in my life right now.

More retreat recapping to come…


The run: 6.1k in 42:12
The route:

Marathon Training Day #109: Speedwork

I didn’t take my computer with me this weekend, so I’m a few days behind! I’ll catch up soon!

On Thursday night, it was time for speedwork. I had to do:

2k warm-up

3x1k repeats at a 5:15-5:25 pace

2k cool-down

Because I don’t have a Garmin, I had to map this route out carefully. So I did: I’d run to Jones, do the speedwork up to Gerrard and around and down to Coxwell and Queen, then cool-down to the library, where I had FIVE books waiting for me (bad holds management!).

I was tired on this run and found the speedwork to be difficult. Running is funny: I can run 5 minute kms when I head out in run group, but when I run alone, anything under sub-6 is brutal. I got it done, was thankful for the traffic lights along the route and worried that I’m not ready for the marathon.

I’m almost there. Only a handful of speed workouts left…



The run: 7.7k in 43:50
The route:

Moksha Yoga Teacher Training Day #18

Whoo hoo! After an epic birthday at training followed by another all round good day we were given another morning of rest. That’s right we could actually sleep in for more than a half an hour! This is often a very good thing, but when you’re fellow trainees walk out of the studio after have taken the morning 7:30am class (we did not have to do yoga this morning people!) you can’t help but feel really lazy. And I mean really lazy. And knowing that Ezmy was back, after leaving us for a solid week. She did have a very legitimate reason. Ezmy’s an Ambassador with Lululemon and she left for Hawaii with Lulu for something very, very important I imagine.

Anyway, Ezmy was back and was teaching this morning. And I didn’t go to her class. Now I feel bad. And I mean really bad. Why didn’t I get my butt out of bed for Ezmy? At least Ezmy saw me walking past the studio and came running out to give me a big birthday hug! Awww Ezmy you’re so great.

I quickly got over my sadness for not practicing when it can time to settle in an listen to Frank. Our morning and afternoon was spent with Frank as it was his last day with us. So we squeezed in all the time we could before he left. One of our required readings for the training, among many other excellent yoga books out there, was Frank’s Mindfulness Yoga. I highly recommend picking this up if your brave enough to even take a sample of this exploration beyond the yoga on your mat. Once our time with Frank was over I realized I had a world wind of questions to ask, but honestly didn’t know where to begin. At all. I’m still not certain I understood anything. But I trust my teachers and trust that I will on day understand. For now I’m re-re-reaing this book. I probably will continue to do so until the end of time.

Here is a reminder from Week 2: Be Accessible of the Living Your Moksha Challenge last spring. This video may shed some light on the power of Mindfulness.


After a heartfelt goodbye and farewell to Frank, we split up to attend our afternoon asana which was taught by more trainees. To end off the day we close with more history of yoga and the Hatha yoga Pradipika with YuMee. If you don’t know what this means don’t worry about it. Nor did I… nor do I, I think. It was a mind numbing – information overload kind of day to say the least.

Marathon Training Day #108: Rest

I ordered new shoes today too. They are EXACTLY the same as my old pair. New Balance, I need more colour options!

I ordered new shoes today too. They are EXACTLY the same as my old pair. New Balance, I need more colour options!

The legs felt heavy today. Makes sense, I did yoga and ran 10k the day before. My shoulder feels sore, too. What’s up with that? Perhaps my body is preparing me for this weekend’s yoga retreat. I (briefly) thought about lunch time yoga, but abandoned that plan. Rest is as important as running. And tomorrow, I have speedwork on the agenda.

On May 5, the Goodlife Toronto Marathon is going through my neighbourhood. I’m setting up a Corktown Cheer Station to support the runners.  It’s my (very small) way of giving back — to the spectators who have cheered me on in races in the past and to the running community that has come together as a result of what happened on Monday.

Come out if you can. Hilarious signs are encouraged. Enthusiasm is a must. I will have cowbells. My neighbours are going to hate me. It’s going to be great.


Marathon Training Day #107: Sweat and tears

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 9.32.55 PM

I went to lunch time yoga today in the first time in FOREVER and spent the entire 50 minutes being grateful for normalcy and for my body’s ability to do, for the most part, what I need it to do. Then, in the afternoon, I heard from my coach (she’s back from Boston and is okay). And in the evening, I laced up my shoes and did what she told me to do this week. I’m a month away from becoming a marathoner.

Today I had to do 10k. I still felt guilty about missing my hilly run last week so I picked a route that took me up Pottery Road hill for the second time in as many runs. It was a perfect evening to run: sunny, calm and cool. I appreciated every step. (I also think I saw my friend Kendal on her bike. If that indeed was you — Hi Kendal!)

After my sinus infection messed up my training, I am finally back on track. Here’s what I need to do this week:

Monday: Rest (done.)
Tuesday: lunchtime yoga; easy 10k (done)
Wednesday: potential lunchtime yoga (have evening plans)
Thursday: 2km warm-up, 3x1km repeats with a 90 sec rest in between, 2km cool-down
Friday: 60 minute hilly route, yoga
Saturday: more yoga
Sunday: EVEN MORE YOGA, 32km long run

In case you didn’t notice all the yoga — JK and I are going on a weekend yoga retreat from Friday to Sunday. The timing seems ridiculous, seeing as I haven’t even unpacked from New Orleans (I’m terrible at this sort of thing. I should have one outfit and wear it every day until it’s dirty, wash it and repeat.), but it’ll be a good test to see whether I enjoy retreats at much as Jill or if all the touchy, feely, stretchy good times are too much for me. I will report back here, I promise.



The run: 10.2k in 1:12:01
The route:

Marathon Training Day #106: Horror


Monday was supposed to be my rest day. A day to get back to normal. I haven’t unpacked since New Orleans. I haven’t done laundry. I haven’t gotten groceries. I was going to follow the Boston Marathon in the morning, work hard all day, get groceries and head home to chores and follow the WNBA draft.

That, as you all know, wasn’t how Monday went. The greatest race in the world turned into a place of unspeakable horror. I struggled to put what I saw on TV and read in the news together. Doing all the ordinary things I had planned seemed frivolous and thoughtless. So I watched and read. And watched and read. And worried. Worried about bloggers I liked who were there that day. Worried about those I knew who were there, fulfilling big dreams (so far, everyone I know is okay). Thought about how Matt’s mom ran Boston just a few years ago. Worried about the victims, their families and the running community as a whole.

These kinds of blog posts are supposed to be filled with inspirational messages. Boston will prevail. The running community will band together, stronger than ever, etc. And I do believe these kinds of messages are true, and necessary. But, being relatively removed from what’s happened, anything I write to that effect seems selfish and artificial. And so, I was at a loss about what to write today. Should I write about this renewed my resolve to become a better runner? (It did.) Or about how it reminded me I need to give more blood? (I will.) Or about how grateful I am for social media, which made tracking people during this day so much easier? (It did.)

All these topics are about me. And what happened yesterday isn’t about me.

What has touched me the most through the massive amounts of coverage, though, is the stories — the many, many stories — of people helping: the first responders swiftly moving into action, of race volunteers coordinating amongst chaos, of people running into the blast, offering food and shelter, making tourniquets, carrying people to safety.

Mr. Rogers was right: there are always helpers.

I’ll be following this story closely, as a runner and news junkie. But as more and more details emerge, I will be looking for the helpers and their stories, to see the good emerge from this carnage and horror.

Those helpers give me hope. They make me believe.


Marathon Training Day #105: 32k


This is Leslie Spit in the spring. It did not look like this on the weekend.

This is Leslie Spit in the spring. It did not look like this on the weekend.

After sleeping the day away on Saturday, I woke up on Sunday ready to tackle the 32k I had on my schedule. I was determined to get it all in, especially since I cut my long run in New Orleans short. My friend Kendal is running the Bluenose half and had 17k on her schedule so we decided that I would run to her house, we’d run 17k together and then I’d run home.

Because I missed my hill run. I decided to run up the Don Valley and tackle Pottery Road Hill — yikes! Once that was complete, I headed to Kendal’s, feeling strong.

Our pal Kate joined us too, and the first 5 or so km with them went fine. But then, I started fading. I couldn’t sustain the pace we were keeping much longer (although I’d like to believe if I only had 17k on my schedule, I could have kept up) and Kendal and Kate creeped ahead of me. Nothing wrong with that — I was just glad Kate was along and could keep Kendal company.

After we completed Leslie Spit, we parted ways. It got cold and I got tired. The run was a challenge from here until home. Such a challenge that I had to stop at Cherry Beach, buy some water, and rest for five minutes. But I made it home in one (painful) piece.

Considering how much harder this run was, mentally and physically, than Around the Bay, I’m looking forward to getting a few more 30+k runs in to boost my confidence. I don’t want to fall apart like I did here with 7k left, knowing it’s actually 17k left. That would be brutal.



The run: 32.1k in 3:52:34
The route:

Marathon Training Days #103 & #104: Relapse

This is where I slept. Multi-purpose couch!

This is where I slept. Multi-purpose couch!

Maybe it was the trip. Maybe it was the germs. Either way, on Friday and Saturday, I was out of it. Sore throat, headache and overall tiredness and achy-ness. Boo. I had every intention to run (take that, cold!) but it didn’t happen. I slept a lot instead.

I love sleep.