Erin’s HM training, Day 6: Cottage cruising

Cottage dog.

Cottage dog.

We made it to the cottage late Friday night. It’s supposed to be grey and humid all weekend — a not-so-fun combination on all fronts.

I had an “easy 30 minute” run on the schedule for Saturday morning. I got up, ran gently and tried not to focus on anything expect running for 15 minutes, turning around and running back.

Then I jumped in the lake. Post-run swims are the best.

My body seems to be accepting the transition from hike-hike-hike to run-run-run. The twinges are still there, but they are less intense. Maybe they are getting better. Maybe I’m just getting used to them.

No Garmin data today — I somehow deleted it from my watch before uploading it. Oooops. 3.8k in 28:45.







Erin’s HM training, Days 3-5: Birthday overload


I share a birthday with two co-workers (and a co-worker’s husband), so on Wednesday we went to the island for an office-only birthday bonanza, and technically my second party of the week. Being at the island on a weeknight felt very decadent and I left filled with joy and contentment. The island is magic.

This also meant no exercise on Wednesday. And Thursday. I had my fingers crossed for some lunch time yoga on one of these days, but it didn’t happen. So on Friday morning, I got up and did 8k. I felt overwhelmed — we are going to the cottage for the long weekend and I had a bunch of stuff I needed to do in the morning in addition to running — but I forgot how therapeutic exercise can be.

I also spent the entire 8k obsessed on keeping my pace below 7:00. I did it. But if I want that sub 2:00 half, I’m going to need to get a lot faster. And soon.

Jill’s Marathon Training Week #8

So I made it. I’m officially at the half way mark. 16 weeks in total, 8 are now over! But with 8 more weeks of training still ahead I’m continuously have very conflicting views about my race. Somedays I feel so ready and great, but others not so much. Holy smokes, I was not prepared for this emotional roller coaster! But as I talked about before finding space and separation between runs (and all these emotions!) is finding my yoga in running. It’s not as easy as it sounds. This was one of those weeks where I really had to put it to the test.

Monday, like every Monday was my day off from running. I taught the morning 10am class at Moksha Downtown and had a friends birthday dinner to attend that evening (hi, Tiffany!). I was looking forward to this dinner party for weeks! Who says you can’t be social even when you’re training for a marathon? I’m sure am. But after my race we’ll see if that was wise of me or not… Following the dinner party, more than a few glasses of wine, and a sleepover with Tiffany later I managed to get myself out for the 6k run on Tuesday before any other evening out – this time with Cecilley. See, I still have a life. But again I may not be the best role model for running training – remember Around the Bay?

Wednesday is hill day the part of the week I dread the most! I’ve come to the conclusion I would rather run 30k than do any length of hill repeats. Hills are just not fun! Julie and I meet before the clinic to get this over with early on. With 6x600m ups and downs scheduled we met at our usual meeting spot at Bloor and Yonge ran to Poplar Plains, and yes we complained the entire time. But it’s so much more fun to have someone to complain with! And to run with. After the run Cecilley and I planed a yoga date because I realized I haven’t practiced in what felt like weeks! Although very untrue I needed some yoga. We went to the 8:30pm Hot Hour at Kula and sadly both walked away unsatisifed. As a new teacher I don’t like to complain about someone’s class, but poor Chrisi-an must have had something going one this day. The energy of class was weird and so was the intention set. Chirsti-an’s body language felt off and it made me feel awkward in my body and being on my mat. But this could very well be the running talking. Everyone has stuff going on, letting my practice be it’s own is a whole other part of the practice we all need to check into once in awhile. It was a good lesson for me as a student and a teacher.

Post hill training dinner! There's an almond flaxseed burger under all that black bean salsa! Yummy!

Post hill training dinner! There’s an almond flaxseed burger under all that black bean salsa! Yummy!

When Thursday rolled around I was wiped. I honestly thinking back to this day cannot for the life of me remember what went on, but I know I didn’t go to clinic. I was bad. And tired and probably grumpy. So I didn’t go, but I did run 6k on my own and struggled the entire time. This run was not fun. I made a promise to myself to stop skipping out on clinic I do think it was karma biting me in the ass. Friday I took the whole day off and Saturday I geared up for Sunday’s long run by practicing yoga. Rachael treated me so well during the 4pm vinyasa class and ended with legs up the wall, just for me! Thanks, Rachael! And no I didn’t run after that. I told you this was a tough week on both my mind and my body. Perhaps the late night socializing is catching up? Oh well…

When I woke up on Sunday I thought to myself I hadn’t slept in in forever. I needed rest and so I reset my alarm and fell back asleep. Knowing the group was only running 19k (ha! only running 19k, who says that?!) I knew full well I could go it alone. And so I did. I later woke feeling energized and ready. I ate a good breakfast then waited a full 2 hours to diegest – a big mistake I made during week 7 – grabbed my gels and water and headed out the door. I realized I just needed a break. A break from the group, a break from this Sunday routine I’ve fallen into, and a break from myself to stop thinking and just run. I planned a route out to the Don Valley Trail and back home and by the time it was over I felt great and happy about running. It was just the thing I needed to propel me forward past the half way training point. Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do!

More homemade gels! Compliments of The Thrive Diet.

More homemade gels! Compliments of The Thrive Diet.

Running, it can be so crazy sometimes. Despite blisters on my poor little feet and the feeling of heaviness in my legs at times, I have to be very thankful this running thing isn’t wearing me down. Not completely that is!

Erin’s HM training, Day 2: Birthday run


Unrelated photo from my hike. I did not feel this way about my run. I rarely feel this way about my exercise.

Unrelated photo from my hike. I did not feel this way about my run. I rarely feel this way about my exercise.

Tuesday was my birthday and I had plans (baseball!). I also had 8k to do. I was mature about it and got up early and cranked out the kms before work. I was slow and the legs felt heavy, but when I was done, I felt good about being ahead of the game.

Then I went to work and ate 17 mini birthday cupcakes, went to the bar and had 17 drinks, wiping out all my good morning effort.

Oh well. Calories don’t count on birthdays, right?


Erin’s HM training, Day 1: Getting back on the wagon

Unrelated pickle photo. Because why not? I made these before my run on Saturday. I hope they don't kill me.

Unrelated pickle photo. Because why not? I made these before my run on Saturday. I hope they don’t kill me.

With the hike complete, it’s time to get back into a running rhythm. I hired Andie again, with a sub 2:00 half-marathon goal in mind. While my last training cycle was about believing I could do it, this training cycle, it seems, will be about getting and staying healthy and getting faster. My goal race is the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 20.

Last week was technically my first week of training, but I didn’t do much and didn’t follow the schedule Andie laid out for me at all: I ran twice, played softball and went to yoga twice. Softball is over now and my hike is done, so a sub-2:00 half (and not injuring myself) are my top fitness priorities this fall. For the purposes of this blog, let’s say I am entering week #1 of an 8 week program. With that in mind, here’s what’s on deck this week:

Monday: rest
Tuesday: speedwork
Wednesday: Cross-training
Thursday: Yoga for runners (am) / Hilly 8k (pm)
Friday: Cross-training (TBD — I want to do power yoga at Kula but it depends on our weekend plans)
Saturday: Easy 30 minutes
Sunday: 13k

We are headed to the cottage for the long weekend and Tuesday is my birthday, so I might move these around to maximize fun.




The first run back

Yes, that is a fancy new Garmin. Once I've used it more than once, I'll let you know how it is.

Yes, that is a fancy new Garmin. Once I’ve used it more than once, I’ll let you know how it is.

On Saturday evening, I went for my first run since returning from my hike and my first run in probably a month.

What didn’t hurt: my right knee (the one I jammed on the hike).

What did hurt: My left knee (the one that became a pain after my marathon), my second toe on my right foot, my right ankle, my glutes, my sacrum.


From a fitness perspective, I felt fine. My legs were strong and weren’t bothered by the running, despite how long it’s been. But from an overall health/injury perspective, I felt like a creaky old person. I know the hike did a number on my body and I’ll need to be patient. What was most frustrating, however, was for the runner’s knee to pop up so soon. How can I get that under control? I’m technically in training mode right now.

Which, upon consideration, is probably not the smartest thing.


So you want to hike the East Coast Trail?

215km later, I think I can call myself an East Coast Trail expert.

215km later, I think I can call myself an East Coast Trail expert.


Hahahaha, okay you can. But it’s not easy. Here are a few tips/tricks to help with your planning!

Be sure to read my recaps (part one, two, three and four) to get an idea of our trip!

Trail conditions: Expect the trails to be in worse shape than you think they’ll be, especially the further from St. John’s you are. Also expect them to be more difficult than you think they will be. There are quite a few river crossings to be wary of as well. JK and I originally thought we’d hike about 20k a day, but in the end, it was more like 15k, thanks to a combination of trail conditions, large descents and ascents and injuries. We’re pretty fit people and average hikers — this was the biggest hiking trip we’ve done. We met a guy who made it from St. John’s to Ferryland in 7 days, but I think he was superhuman and an extremely experienced hiker.

Finding camping spots: Most of the trails are too uneven or too dense to find camping spots anywhere. I’d plan your trips so that you end at a trail head (most trail heads had parking spots or enough meadow space for camping) or one of the designated camp sites for the night. Hoping to find something along the way mid-trail won’t end well.

Buying food and supplies: Don’t expect every town to be able to give you water and food, especially in the towns further south. There’s not a lot there. The best places to pick stuff up are Ferryland (Foodland), Cape Broyle (A grocery store whose name I forget) and Bay Bulls (Foodland). Aquaforte, Ferryland, Witless Bay and Petty Harbour had convenience stores, but no options for fresh fruit. Ferryland, Cape Broyle, Witless Bay, Bay Bulls and Petty Harbour all had restaurants, too.

Finding water: For the most part, the water was clean and safe to drink. We took a water purifier kit and were fine. Some streams were cleaner than others, but there were a lot of water sources on the path. We tried our best to fill up at restaurants, B&Bs or store washrooms when we could.

Staying at B&Bs: Not every town has a place to stay, but if you’re keen to do B&Bs, I’d recommend both the Whale Watcher B&B and Harbour House. We stayed at both and were so grateful for that. Both had laundry services and were familiar with taking in hikers. Another option is to look at Trail Connections, who helps arrange a trip where you can B&B every night and day trip from them. On the last day, we met a guy doing as many trails as he could out of a B&B in Goulds (they dropped him off and picked him up each day) and he seemed happy with the arrangement. If you want to wing it, like JK and I did, there are B&Bs or cottages in Cappahayden, Renews, Ferryland, Cape Broyle, Bauline East, Witless Bay, Bay Bulls and Petty Harbour, but availability could get dicey, as most are small establishments.

Wildlife: We went August 3-18 and were about a week late to see hundreds of whales. If you want whales, go earlier than we did (I think late July-early August is prime whale time.) We didn’t see any moose, but saw a handful of birds and a ton of slugs. Slugs were EVERYWHERE.

Best trails: If you don’t plan to do all the trails, I’d recommend (from south to north) Brigus Head Path, Flamber Head Path, Tinkers Point Path, Beaches Path, Mickeleens Path, Spout Path and Motion Path. If you only have a couple days, focus on the Spout Path and Motion Path.

Worst trails: Cape Broyle Head Path felt long and dangerous and was mostly inland. Caplin Bay Path was confusing and too close to the highway/a school/a cemetary to be worthwhile. La Manche Village Path isn’t really a separate path — you have to hike some of it to finish Flamber Head Path and the rest is just walking through a town.

I think that’s it! If I missed anything, let me know. And if you have any questions about the trail, I’d be happy to answer them! Happy hiking!



Hiking the East Coast Trail, Part 4: Petty Harbour to St. John’s

This counts as a whale sighting, right?


Be sure to check out parts one, two and three first!

Petty Harbour: After we checked in, made dinner (curry supplied by Shelley) and passed out at 9:30 (which felt late compared to our usual 8-8:30 bedtimes!) We woke the next morning to more rain and a plan: A complete rest day. We had the room in the schedule, so why not? We ate lunch at the restaurant next door, Chafe’s Landing, and watched terrible television. It was delightful. (Day 12: ok) We made arrangements with Shelley to get a ride to the end of Blackhead path, meaning we’d hike 14.5k the next day — in the opposite direction. This made the most sense, because it meant we could walk back to the apartment when we were done, instead of trying to finangle a ride back to Petty Harbour at the end of the day. And we could hike with just day packs! Bliss! Blackhead has about one building, but it has horses, so don’t expect anything here. Bernard pointed out a whale in the harbour before we took off, upping our whale count to two!

Blackhead Path: This path was great. It was one big up and then one big down over 3.7k but gave us great views of Cape Spear and took just over an hour.


Cape Spear lighthouse!

Cape Spear lighthouse!


Cape Spear Path: We spent some time exploring Cape Spear and being impressed with being on the most eastern point in North America before continuing on this 11.5k trail. The first 8k was easy, well-maintained (except for a few tricky river crossings) and gave us great views of all the peaks we have hiked in the past week. After about 8k, the trail changes: it becomes woodsy and there are a few tricky passages as you scramble over rocks. For most of the trail, a woman was following us, so we chatted with her and helped her over the river crossings. This paid off: her husband gave us a ride back to Petty Harbour! (Day 13: 15k)


St. John's!

St. John’s!


Deadman’s Path: The next day, Shelley gave us  ride to the same spot we were dropped off the day before. Deadman’s Path is the final path into St. John’s and it’s rated “difficult” and now we know why. This path encapsulated all the trail terrain we experienced over the past two weeks: shrubs, woods, cliffs, beaches and tricky climbs. Once you hit a difficult to cross beach, there’s a 1k climb to the top. This was our longest climb of the trip, but not the hardest (those were on Cape Broyle Head Path). After that, we walked over lots of shrub and exposed rock, got a view of St. John’s and started a tricky descent into Fort Amherst, where the trail ends. Overall, this trail was unremarkable, decent and difficult, but not particularly memorable. Again, a trail angel (whose name was Bob Angel, I kid you not) ended up behind us for about an hour. We got chatting as we walked into Fort Amherst and he offered us a ride to our hotel. Thanks Bob! (Day 14: 11k)


We did it!

We did it!


St. John’s: This city is TINY, but adorable. It’s so colourful and the harbour is so interesting. I can’t wait to come back during iceberg season. Over the course of the two weeks, JK and I became obsessed with getting pizza at the end of our journey (pizza was our Snapple), but once we were in the city on the prowl for pizza, we couldn’t find it anywhere. We ended up at the Yellow Belly, discovered they had pizza and went all out: pizza and nachos and beer. We also ran into two guys we met on the trail, who were in town for a wedding. Then we walked around town, got ice cream, and headed back to our hotel to watch some design television before passing out early (a habit I still haven’t kicked, despite being home for a few days.)


In sum, while I was disappointed our tent broke, the Harbour House gave us the energy we needed to make these last few days enjoyable — especially since we still managed to hike into St. John’s with our packs, as we always imagined. It was a necessary break. JK was a champ these past few days, as her knee situation was scary, but it all worked out in the end.


We’re raising money for the Nature Conservancy of Canada — the hike may be over, but the fundraising isn’t. There’s still time to donate! You can donate to our campaign here. And if you’ve already donated — thank you!



Hiking the East Coast Trail, Part 3: Burnt Cove to Petty Harbour

The view from the Whale Watcher B&B.

The view from the Whale Watcher B&B.


If you missed them, check out part one and part two of my east coast adventure.

Burnt Cove: Part two ended with me and JK crashing at the Whale Watcher B&B, after a confusing transfer from Flamber Head Path to La Manche Village Path. The La Manche Vilage Path is the only path on the East Coast Trail where the community links count as part of the trail system. Weird. We took the morning off at the B&B to do our laundry and relax. The B&B had an amazing view of the Witless Bay ecological reserve. Around 12:30, we headed out, finishing up the La Manche Trail Path.

Tinkers Point Path: This 5.1k path, connecting Burnt Cove to Tors Cove, was pretty easy and we completed it under two hours. A lot of it was on a cart path.

Tors Cove: This was another teeny community link and it kicked off one of the best paths on the trail — the Tinkers Point Path. This trail was relatively flat and easy and had gorgeous views of the islands off coast. We even saw an island with sheep grazing on it and enjoyed lunch watching waves break over the coast.


Red rock!

Red rock!


Mobile: We came out of Tinkers Point at Mobile, a community link that wasn’t very long, but involved looping up to the highway, then scrambling over a beach to find the entrance to the next path. We didn’t need supplies, so didn’t spend any time finding out what Mobile had to offer. Just before the next trail head, we ran into two surveyors asking about people’s East Coast Trail experience, but we were going the wrong way to be statistically useful! So sad!

Beaches Path: This was another easy, enjoyable path. The trail was still tricky and narrow, but in a way that makes hiking enjoyable, not terrifying. The path is well-named, as there were lots of beaches we could access (for viewing, NOT swimming) and towards the end of the trail, we found a great camping spot by a beach and a river and set up for the night. (Day 8: 13k)


River crossing!

River crossing!


Witless Bay: Our camp site was only a kilometre from town, so we were done by 9:30 and got breakfast at the Irish Loop Cafe. Witless Bay felt gigantic compared to the previous towns. As we walked through town, a woman stopped and offered to give us a ride to the trail head, which we happily accepted. She saved us about an hour of hiking!

Mickeleens Path: This was another path that was surprisingly pretty and surprising easy — they all kind of blur together, these three days paths. We were in high spirits these three days and kicked out the kilometres rather quickly.

Bay Bulls: Way back when, we had dreams of kayaking in Bay Bulls. We threw this plan out the window when we realized how tired we were and that rain was coming and we wanted to be done the tricky 16.3k Spout Path before the rain came. Instead, we hunted for the Foodland, stocked up on supplies and walked the long community link to the Spout Path head, as we knew the next day was going to be a long one: the Spout Path is a long and difficult trail. We camped in the Spout Path parking lot. (Day 9: 16k)

Spout Path: The first 6k of this path is amazing. We saw a whale and had ocean views the entire time. The next 5k is horrible, a throwback to the difficult, hilly trails of our early days of hiking. JK’s knee went ballistic on this trail too, so instead of finishing the entire trail, we chose to camp at the Little Bald Head campsite about 11k in. The weather was great, so we spent the afternoon reading and stretching and freaking out about JK’s knee, which she stretched and acuballed and rested like a champ. (Day 10: 11k) Overnight, that’s when our trip hit possibly it’s lowest point yet. (Well, it contends with the Flamber Head  rainy day. Rain is a hiking evil.) The rain, which was supposed to come at noon, came at 3am. And it filled our tent, because we failed to secure it to the tent platform properly. Then, when we tried to move our tent at 7am, in an attempt to salvage a few more hours of sleep and a dry place to wait the rain out, our tent pole broke. We had no choice: we had to hike to Petty Harbour, 11k farther than our plans for that day (we originally wanted to hike the 7k to Miner’s Point Campsite once the rain let up), with our fingers crossed a B&B would have room for us that night. Once we committed, it was okay. JK powered through some serious pain and despite the terrible weather and change of plan, it was obvious how pretty the rest of the Spout Path was. The Spout itself was pretty cool and I’m disappointed we didn’t get to enjoy it more thoroughly.

Motion Path: Why the Spout Path and Motion Path are broken up, I will never know. There’s a 6k “access trail” where these two trails meet, but why walk 6k on a crappy cart path when you can just hike a few extra kilometres? Who knows?! When we reached the cart path, it wasn’t raining at the moment and JK felt pretty good, so we chose to power on. Here’s the thing about the 13.5k Motion Path: had I hiked it under different circumstances, it would probably be my favourite path. I loved the views and the terrain, which is all open and shrubby. There are a lot of climbs and descents, but they added interest to the day, not fear. Around our 5th hour of hiking, it started to POUR. JK and I got soaked. We tried to keep our energy up and took our time. The last few kilometres were cold, brutal and took forever: there’s a huge ascent, then a very tricky descent, which we couldn’t assess properly because the fog hid everything ahead of us. We had no idea how far were were from town or what was ahead of us, but we kept climbing. We had no choice.


Petty Harbour, the day after the rain.

Petty Harbour, the day after the rain.


Petty Harbour: We arrived in Petty Harbour soaked and exhausted. Petty Harbour is gorgeous, though. We called all three places to stay here and only Harbour House had room — but they also had a three night minimum. Given that our tent was broken, we didn’t have a choice. We said yes. I’m so glad we did. Our one-bedroom apartment was $135 a night, was in the centre of town and came with two lovely owners, Shelley and Bernard, who brought us groceries and offered to drive us to the trail heads once we figured out our plan for the rest of our trip. Amazing. (Day 11: 18k)


In sum, while we had struggles during these four days, these are the paths and towns I’d recommend others to do. We met a lot of people on the trail doing Petty Harbour to Bay Bulls as a weekend trip. That makes sense to me — you get the two best trails of the East Coast Trail (Spout Path and Motion Path), two interesting towns to explore, and two dedicated camp sites you can rest at.


We’re raising money for the Nature Conservancy of Canada — the hike may be over, but the fundraising isn’t. There’s still time to donate! You can donate to our campaign here. And if you’ve already donated — thank you!



Jill’s Marathon Training Week #7

These guys make it look so easy!

These guys make it look so easy!

Lucky training week number 7, if only this were true! I learned a lot from this training week especially what not to do before a long run! Oh goodness… more on the drama that unfolded Sunday morning later.

The week began with another off day on Monday. Given it was the long August weekend I was coming off week 6’s great long run, I worked the desk, and experienced a great yin class, then biked a very long way to watch a movie and have a sleep over with Cecilley. What a Sunday! Cecilley and I had a Beach Day Adventure planed for Monday and I was very excited! We biked all day, went for coffee and treats in the morning, then lunch, then picked up supplies to meet a colleague (hi, Alec) for a picnic and a bike ride though the Leslie Spit. It was a pretty epic day off I must say.

Tuesday’s run was surprisingly good given I’d been biking (and drinking… oops) for a whole day the day before. I felt good and could have kept going, which is a nice feeling to end a run on. This hasn’t happened much so when it does I need to acknowledge it! My friend Cait (hi, Cait!) was working the desk at MYD so my evening plan was to meet her for class. We took the 8pm Level 2 and boy was I exhausted. But no wonder. I was still recovering, so I took it easy and did what I could. The sweating part was most important. Ha!

Wednesday I woke up early to practice a little yoga before teaching the Community Class at Downtown. I had hills to run this afternoon and no I wasn’t looking forward to the 5 repeats I had to do at Poplar Plains. Afterward, it was right back at the studio for me to work. I could run with the clinic so I had to run the hills alone. Hills are never fun, but I finally pulled myself together and got it done without too much complaining. Okay, I complained the whole time. All the complaing even kept me from my yoga practice! I practice yoga Wednesday evening and had a really tough time getting out of my head. I wasn’t in it at all. And to make matters worse Thursday wasn’t any better. I had plans to run 6k all day, but for some reason I just could not make myself go. For the entire day I sat around telling myself I would, I would go after lunch, then I would go after getting to Jackie’s house (I was dog sitting for her and Morgan for the evening) then I would go after walking the dogs, then I would go before meeting Cecilley for dinner. Ya… I totally flaked out on running and didn’t go at all. I was tired both mentally and physically. I could feel it in my whole body, I just really didn’t want to run! So I didn’t and I ran late Friday afternoon instead. Mentally I was more determined, but still the run was not as enjoyable as I was hoping for. Eventually it got better and before I knew it 10k was done. So there was a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel.

Saturday was another skip out on the 6k run and go stand up paddleboarding instead. I even got up early and went to the 8am class before my shift, and thank goodness too. This class brought me back. After three solid days of hating marathon training I had to do something fun! Yoga and paddleboarding are excellent fun things.

This face pretty much sums up the week.

This face pretty much sums up the week.

Then Sunday came. The day I wanted to die and quit running for good. This run will forever go down in the record books as the worst long run of my entire life! I’m dead serious. Whether it was what I ate the night before or that morning – I believe I didn’t give myself enough time to digest and ate way too much – or a combination of all these things, but whatever it was I ran 26.5k with a bolder in my stomach! I wanted to vomit the entire time or pass this thing out of my body in some form or another. I ran slow, for obvious reasons, but somehow my body kept going. I was running, aside from the fact I was carrying rocks in my gut. I couldn’t believe I was actually moving though. And I had no aches or pain anywhere. But in all seriousness the only thing the saved me Sunday was yin with Julia that night. It was awful.

Thankfully Julie was right there with me. Her and I struggled and complained the whole time. But we did it together. I’m convinced this awful running experience will only make us better runners in the end. Here’s hoping I’m right. Eh, Julie?