Finding Adventure in Digby’s Outdoors

Me and the CARP gang! Thank you Stacey for the only picture taken this day.

Me and the CARP gang! Thank you Stacey for the only picture taken this day.

My how time flies (It’s the middle of August already!) We say this all the time and it still shocks us when we look at a calendar or stop to think what day of the week it is, but what exactly are we doing about it? I know I can say nothing really. And that’s no good considering the travel adventure I was just on.

I haven’t been doing much outside of working and the (very) little running I’ve been doing. After last weeks banter about being home and blah blah blah. Enough of that! Come on Jill, Nova Scotia is pretty great and you are failing to see it! So that was that. Everyday is not going to be great, and that’s okay. Training programs have their highs and lows – have you been following Erin’s NYC marathon training? – this is why they last so long. Probably not, but thankfully I’ve picked up a bit of momentum having begun my running training and with a little help from my friends. Yup, Erin won’t be the only three time marathoner. Mine isn’t until February 2015, but I’ve signed up for another marathon nonetheless. If I’m going to sit around and be a lump on a log that’s no one’s fault but my own. Now that I have a new running goal, reunited with some old pals, and of course the amazing support at the Y, I feel back on track.

I hadn’t realized how many of my friends are around. This is great news for my social calendar. My university friend Katie (hi, Katie!) is from Annapolis Royal, it’s a 30 minute drive from Digby. Her and her new husband are living in Bedford (another NS geography lesson it’s about a 2 hour drive from Digby) and planned an outing to go Tidal Rafting the weekend before the August long weekend. I hadn’t seen Katie in years! I needed to go. Plus what in the world is Tidal Rafting anyway? I will explain all in a post to come. But just know it’s awesome. This post is about another adventure we went on.  A tree topping, zip lining adventure!

Upper Clements Park is Nova Scotia’s version of Canada’s Wonderland. Well… it would be if Canada’s Wonderland had one roller coaster made of wood, some bumper cars and a giant maze. And that’s all. But they do have the Flume Ride, another park attraction. You have to think small scale here. But as a kid it was a great place. The face painting, the cookies as big as your face, and candy apples were the highlight for me. And you’d usually spot a pirate or two around the park. They were of course very cool.  But for years this would be a place I’d abandon. I had zero interest in going as a teenager I out grew the rides and the childlike fun, and now I don’t have kids in my life to share this experience with. Little did I know the Park also grew up. Now there is an Adventure Park.

Katie introduced me to her formal colleagues at CARP (Clean Annapolis River Project) and they invited me to the Adventure Park. I’ve seen zip lining in Costa Rica, but never dared to give it a try. This time I had no excuse.

The park is divided into Games (aka. obstacle courses) and Zip lines. Calling these things Games is supposed to give them a fun non competitive approach but these things are not easy! Don’t be fooled by the swinging steps and tight wire walking, my arms and balance were tested big time. If you’re a bit afraid of heights that will disappear once you try to pull yourself across a rock climbers wall of over a ladder of some sort. They make you work for the fun that’s for sure. If you’ve never done something like this before (that was me too) there is a full hour of training before you enter the park. Billy was our guide. After what we could assume was a late night for Billy and a long day ahead, he managed to shake the monotone directions and showed us a good time. If Billy happens to be your guy, ask him how the burger and beer competition went. If the zip lining didn’t scare you that just might.

Zip lining was the best part. The fast moving, freedom you feel when you’re flying through the forest was amazing. Each Game had a small zip line to the end the course, but the second half of the park is all zip lining. The Adventure Park is one the best in the province and I can see why. All the grown up fun to be had is worth a second or third trip. Just make sure to bring your gloves unless you want some “kick ass” callus. If that’s the case, join the club.

Race recap: Marathon de Paris

Ah, the Eiffel Tower. Taking it all in once again!

Ah, the Eiffel Tower. Taking it all in once again!

I am officially a two time marathoner! Whooo it feels good to finally say that! But this accomplishment did not come as easily as I would have liked. Hell, this marathon actually sucked in comparison to my last. Like everyone has said to me “marathons are supposed to be hard”. And they are right. Otherwise everyone would do it. We’ll just go with it and take pride in the fact it’s over and I did it.

Of course I’m going to explain all the reasons why it wasn’t so great, but before I jump in to a huge rant, I have to say this under taking did come with many, many benefits I should be (and am!) hugely grateful for. One being I ran a marathon in Paris for goodness sakes. The most beautiful city in the world. I was there and did it! Enough said. Now for the rant, or what I am referring to as The 7 Unlucky Lessons I Learned About Running a Marathon. As I mentioned earlier the whole experience wasn’t All bad. I will get to the good stuff later. Like seeing the beauty pictured above for the third time (and still counting).

I realized after the race was over I made a lot of mistakes this time around. 2013-2014 has seemed to take on a common pattern, one I am not a fan of, the “Jill’s running slower season”. You can see already why I am not totally impressed with my marathon finishing time. After you run one marathon aren’t you supposed to get faster?! I was over 15 minutes slower finishing at 4:35:16. This is not a good track record if I want a sub 4 time by marathon number three. Third times a charm is what I’m living by. Good thing marathon number three has been decided and already booked (eh, Juile?!).

The day before my race was a bit of a scatter-ball kind of day. Cecilley and I just finished our workaway gig in the South of France (don’t worry you will hear the whole story in a post of its own) and landed in the beautiful city of Bordeaux. We stayed with a lovely lady Jane (hi, Jane!) we met through our workaway host, Tamsin, but having missed a day because of packing delays, we stayed two nights which scheduled us to arrive in Paris the day before my marathon. Yikes! We got into Paris rather late in the day on Saturday, which didn’t help my feels of overwhelming anxiousness, nervousness, and a weird sense of depression. Needless to say I was a basket case. I was mentally drained, agitated from the three and a half hour train ride from Bordeaux to Paris, and without a solid plan for the day ahead. I was a disaster. Which leads me to my 7 unlucky mistakes.

My marathon organized mess!

Mistake number one:
I did not properly hydrated the day before.

For all the reasons I mentioned above and more. When we got on the train I bought some water which was fine, but I was stupid about the whole thing. I didn’t drink enough when I woke up, before we left, or even when I got to my place of rest. Big, big mistake! You need to be hydrating throughout the day, and this goes for the few days before as well.

Mistake number two:
I did not hydrate properly before the race.

Another big, big mistake. Water is your friend make sure to drink enough to keep you comfortable, not too much to the point of cramping, but more in good timing, is better than not enough. I did not have nearly enough as I should have.

Mistake number three:
I ate too late in the evening and didn’t eat frequently enough the day before.

Because Cecilley and I had a train to catch Saturday afternoon I was more worried about getting my bib number and getting to the expo before closing time than anything else. it was proven later we did have plenty of time, so all the while I wasted precious time on hostility and worry when I should have been focusing on proper nutrition and taking care of myself. I ate an excellent breakfast in the late morning, but nothing else until arriving in Paris other than a few snacks on the train. Food is just as important as hydrating. But it’s not only the meal the night before, but the few days leading up. My month long French diet of wine, cheese, and bread probably didn’t aid in the situation, so really I can’t blame it all on the night before. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve put on 10 pounds since my arrival in France – which would obviously have slowed me down! France is another dangerous Eat.Pray.Love kind of country and that’s exactly what has happened to me. Bottom line to this mistake is pay attention to what you’re eating and maintain a healthy balance of good food. Which also means no wine. Bummer!

Mistake number four:
I went to bed late the night before.

This was also another factor from the days events, but in addition to my stress level, my full tummy late in the evening, settling into a place that’s not my own, feeling like I’ve dumped my whole life along with my baggage (both literally and figuratively) on poor Shawn Oliver from Digby. I wasn’t able to settle down at a reasonable time. There was to much happening and too much to think about.

Mistake number five:
I did not run enough long runs during my training.

This became evident when I hit 30k. I always knew I had it in me to finish the race, but I took that fact for serious granted. I have to say traveling and training together have not been easy. Yes, there were times (like in London) when running was fun and social and I was running frequently. But the real problem turned out to be that I wasn’t running far enough. I dreaded those Sundays when I had to run 29+ kilometers on my own in an unfamiliar place. I could have been better prepared and planned my routes in advance, but that felt like too much work and it was proven I’d get lost no matter what. So most runs I’d just wing it. I also didn’t have any commitments to run. I was my own boss, so if I wasn’t up for it I wouldn’t go or I’d plan to go later in the week. I took this freedom for granted too, especially in France. I lost a bit of my desire to run, I hated doing it on my own all the time. In the end it made me appreciate the Running Room and my runs with Julie even more. I may have gotten in a couple of 30ks, a few 25ers, and maybe a 32, but the majority of my long runs were 17-19k if anything else. This is not far enough if your running a marathon. The mileage really counts that last 10k to the finish.

Mistake number six:
My fastest 5k was the first 5k.

I didn’t think this was the case, but according to my official A.S.O. Challenges profile it was. I knew I needed to hold back in the first half, I worried myself several times I wouldn’t have enough gas in the tank to finish strong. Of course, I was right. Without much surprise my slowest 5k was 35-40k this was the leg of the race where I really struggled. I wasn’t hurting from physical pain, but I was beginning to slow down with every step. I decided then to lengthen my walk breaks by a minute just to keep myself from stopping completely. At this point walking was probably faster anyhow! All the signs of “the wall” struck me I wanted the whole thing to end. This stretch felt terribly long to the point I was experiencing physical dread to keep going. Something that hasn’t happened to me since I began running, but was bound to happen at one point of another. I was pretty set on a 6:30 pace running each 5k at around 30 minutes a piece. But I was slow and knew it straight away. I was loosing steam quickly and wanted to die during the last 10k. Mistake number five didn’t help me here either. Long runs are super important, you need stamina and endurance to propel you at the end. That and a determined mind.

Mistake number seven:
I hydrated too much too soon.

It took me a long time to really tune into what was going on. I wasn’t paying proper attention to my body and made decisions based on what happened last time I ran a marathon. This wasn’t a smart way to think out on the course. Again, all your runs are going to be different so why think you’ll need the same things at the same times as the last time you ran a marathon? I don’t know what I was thinking either. Plus, the conditions of my last marathon were, really, too good to be true. I should have known right away I would need to pay serious attention This time. But I didn’t. I fueled with gels, drank electrolytes, then water, chewed on a shot block at one point, and took a salt tab hoping to avoid the feeling of needing it later and to help with he fact I knowingly didn’t drink enough water before the race. This wasn’t smart because as a result I cramped and my stomach felt hard. No wonder under my circumstances I took all these things before I crossed the half way mark. All I could really handle during the second half was small amounts of water and that was it.

My bib, medal, and bag!

My bib, medal, and bag!

Looking at the bigger picture my training was better equipped for a half marathon, which is why my recommendation, if you know you’ll be traveling before your goal race, is to go for a half instead of a full. Save your marathon for a time when you can really commit to running and give yourself all the things you need like friends, routes you know and like, and a schedule where you know what place you’ll be in one day from the next. Not that what I did and how I trained was bad, being in Toronto with a home and all the other things made running easier and gave me fewer excuses to miss a run. Also training at a time when you’re okay with indulging instead of running is important. I’m convinced France made me slow. But it was worth it! Which makes for an excellent time to explain all the great this about the day.

The Paris Marathon great things:
This weekend would not have been possible if it wasn’t for Shawn. When your traveling it’s amazing to reconnect with people from your hometown. I have my mom to thank for that. Shawn was there to meet me at the train station, guided me to the race expo when I didn’t look up how to get there, had a portable internet device so I do download my race convocation and medical certificate when I didn’t do it before leaving Bordeaux. Shawn made me dinner, offered me food for breakfast, and best of all he let me sleep in his bed instead of the mattress on the floor. For both the night of my race and the night after! There are not enough Shawn’s out there in the world which is why this marathon will forever be a very, very special event in my life. I can never thank him enough for everything he did for me (thanks, Shawn, you completely made my weekend in the best possible way!). And he was there to see me at the end. Oh! And he bought me the most delicious, “life changing”, almond croissant and a chocolate almond croissant which we shared to celebrate afterwards. Oh my goodness, what did I do to deserve such an amazing friend?!

The crowd support was also amazing. There were bands and dancers and people yelling at you in French. That alone was great.

The overall organization of the race was fluid and easy super going. The organizers sent out each corral start time so there wasn’t much waiting around at the beginning and at the end. For running a marathon this was key. The Paris marathon restored my faith in Paris races.

The route. It was beautiful. I ran past all the iconic things to see in Paris it was great. But I have to say one of the best turning points for me was around the 26k mark where we ran through an underground tunnel. There was a dance party happening with a Dj and a full on light show and the sounds of Night Fever was blaring. This made me so happy.

The weather. It was sunny, warm and crisp, a perfect Paris-in-the-spring kind of day.

Paris Marathon Finisher! I even have a headlight now to prove it.

Paris Marathon Finisher! I even have a headlight now to prove it.

To wrap up this entire experience, you really can’t win them all. That was the important lesson I learned. You’re not always going to be fast and it’s not always going to be enjoyable. But when you do decide to run a marathon abroad the most important part to keep in mind is to enjoy it. Seriously. Make sure you give yourself time to take it all in. And be proud that you did it no matter what. Just live and learn. Because you can always make the same mistake and sign up again next year, but this time willingly and not by surprise.

Race recap: Semi Marathon de Paris

Ahhh!! I’ve been so bad! Sorry people for the lack of posts and things from me! It’s been a busy and internet-less two months in Chislehurst, but still. It’s been way too long depriving you all from my traveling updates and training on the road and I apologize.

You’ll be happy to know I made it to France! I am in Paris, the city of love, and I am in LOVE. I am so excited to live and stay here for the last month of my training before my big race, the Paris Marathon. After running the half on Sunday I have some major work to do, especially if I’m going for a PB. Or even better yet a sub 4 hour race.

I just ran a race in Paris!

I just ran a race in Paris!

January was all about training and finding my way around London, trying to meet new people, and find a yoga studio to adopt me. While February was all about the Olympics, working, and of course training. I did find an amazing studio, Breeze Yoga, I was regularly attending, I kept up with my running mates at the Reebok FitHub meeting twice a week for our +10k runs. All of a sudden living in Chislehurst was staring to feel like home. One thing, however, which was not going according to plan was me beginning to lag behind in the long run department. I knew this was no good for my half marathon coming up, but getting in 40-50k a week felt like I was getting the job done at least. After Sunday I realize this was not true. I kept hearing Alice’s voice in my head telling me how important the long runs are and it’s not so much about the overall mileage. See Alice, I’m still thinking of you! And I miss you too!

Semi Marathon de Paris wasn’t my goal race so instead of going out and givin’er I decided not to be too hard on myself for feeling under prepared and run the race for fun. Enjoy the sights of Paris and just have a good go at it. Of course I would want to run another sub 2 hour half, but it wasn’t a proirty to do so. But when I saw my time of 2:04 I wish I had made it a priority after all. Oh well, I guess you can’t win them all. If anything when I finished the race I definitely had more gas in the tank – which was a bit of a surprise and a tad frustrating. I learned my lesson and now I know for next time that extra push is worth it in the end. It is better to go for it (but being smart about it) than not. All the things to learn as a runner.

So what was good about this race? Well for starters, it was in Paris! And the route was just lovely. Starting and ending in Parc Floral de Paris we looped through the east part of the city, ran along the water for a little ways, ran along busy, beautiful streets then back to the park. I loved it. The crowd support was also amazing the entire time. Running along stretches of cafés and bistros people were everywhere, out enjoying their cigarettes, baguettes and coffees while cheering. It was so French and so great! The route was also pretty flat. Another bonus. Cecilley and I, along with the 40,000 other runners, lucked out completely because we had the absolute best weather. A run is always better with crisp air and sunshine. The day was gorgeous, I couldn’t help but be happy with my race overall. I felt good the entire time and I wasn’t sore afterward. There wasn’t a period of time where I wanted to stop, or felt like I needed to, I was well feed (Cecilley took great care of us in that department) and well hydrated. I had a positive feeling going in and I was excited to run. All of which prepared me for a good day. For the run that almost didn’t happen, I deserved a good day.

Cecilley and I in pretty Paris! It's time to celebrate my birthday and the fact we ran our race!

Cecilley and I in pretty Paris! It’s time to celebrate my birthday and the fact we ran our race!

Yup. You heard me right… For the run that almost didn’t happen. Let me explain.

With every race there are going to be a few not so great things about it. I have accumulated a few complaints through the course of the day, but only a few. Here’s where the trouble began for Cecilley and I apparently if you’re running any race in France you require a medical certificate from a doctor giving you consent to run. I did not know this. Maybe all European races require a medical certificate I don’t know, but learn from my mistake and make sure you have this prior to to picking up your race kit. Lucky for me my cousin is a doctor (thank you, Eric!) and sent an email indicating I am physically capable to run the race, but before his note came through Cecilley and I were freaking out. What was supposed to be a casual shake out run, the day before, to the expo turned out to be a few hours of hectic running amuck trying to track down a doctor to sign our papers. Given it was Saturday, we were having terrible luck. Once my home support came through Cecilley and I zipped back to the expo before closing to claim our bib numbers and race packs. They ran out of race packs. I was not impressed. So after all that we didn’t even get a shirt or a few samples.

Not only did the race not have enough shirts apparently they were in short supply of food and medals too. This isn’t a good sign when you know how many participants you have running beforehand.

Areas the race could improve on is its overall organization. Make sure runners know what’s going on and what they can expect. The race began at 10am (not a bad time to start) but the fact they sent corals out in waves of gapped time (again not to our knowledge) meant that Cecilley and I didn’t start until and hour later. We were waiting around for what felt like a really long time. If that’s the case let people know their group start time in advance to better prepare and cut down on the number of people before and after. The water stations were also a bit of a miss having them spaced out at 5k intervals which caused way too much commotion. Stations were also set up on just one side of the street. Another recipe for a runners pile up. I avoided the water stations at all costs, not because I didn’t need water, but because I was afraid of getting trampled on! These runners were intense. I have to say of all the races I’ve participated in this one was by far the most pushy and aggressive. Even during the run I found it hard to settle into a groove and maneuver around people. It’s to be expected for obvious reasons, but for some reason it felt different.

No Paris recap is complete without a picture of the Eiffel Tower on the eve of my birthday!

No Paris recap is complete without a picture of the Eiffel Tower on the Eve of my birthday!

I don’t want to sound like a terrible complainer because the good parts of the race diffentately out way the bad, I personally feel with fewer participants this could have been a much smoother operation.

Next up for me is the Paris Marathon with just over a month to go. Now that I have a better idea of where I’m at – I felt good and on track for a good marathon time if I had to of run further on Sunday. The goal now is to find a new place to train from and live, possibly find myself some new running companions, and get my long runs in each week. This is very important from here on out. And of course learn some French along the way. Bonsoir! (Or bonjour wherever you happen to be!)

Product review: Lululemon Speed Tight *Luxtreme & Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve


Up until a few years ago I was a person who didn’t own a Lululemon anything. The only reason a pair of lulu pants entered my wardrobe was because my sister Anne gave me a pair for Christmas a few years ago. Don’t ask me the style or name because I don’t know, but I must say they were (and still are) great. They were a perfect fit with the right amount of stretch and comfort. I was sold! One pair of pants is all it took to change my idea of Lululemon completely.

Leading up to that point, I was that person who vowed not to own a “yoga” specific article of clothing for as long as I lived. I didn’t see the point. Weren’t all work out clothes the same? And what was the point of owning something nice you where just going to get all sweaty? It seemed silly. Oh, but how wrong I was. Those pants changed me, I was awakened to the realization of proper athletic wear. So I tossed my go to yoga outfit, a baggy t-shirt and a pair of basketball shorts (these are terrible for practicing hot yoga!) for good. It was time to dress the part if I wanted to be a real yogi.

Before I really understood the Lululemon brand, the idea of shopping there didn’t appeal to me. Yes, their staff are very up beat and helpful, and their clothes selection comes in very colour of the rainbow, my unknowing kept me away. But now, having experienced it for myself, can say that when it comes to athletic gear when lulu gets it right, they get it right. Although their stuff tends to fall a bit on the pricey side, it is safe to say you do get what you pay for. But like any purchase you make, buy what fits properly, suits your athletic needs, and reflects your personal style, and you can’t go wrong. Because who says workout gear can’t be stylish and serve a purpose?! Now my closet now contains a number of lulu tights, a few yoga tops and bras, a biking rain jacket (which I love!), and my newest love – my Speed Tight *Tech – which I thought were amazing for my winter running last season.

Lucky for me I am now apart of the Lululemon R&D team and I get to wear and review all the things I want. So here goes my first review of my newest purchases the Speed Tight *Luxtreme and the Run: Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve.

Speed Tight *Luxtreme:


One thing I’ve regretted for the three months I’ve been traveling is leaving my Speed Tight *Tech at home. These are the best running tights I own (not to mention they are the only proper running tights I own) arriving in London has made me miss them more then ever. The few times I went running in Tokyo I was lucky enough to get away with wearing my knee length tights, but I’m worried London running wouldn’t allow it. So I needed to find something, and something different from the one pair of tights I already own.

After a thorough investigation I came to discover Lululemon is in London (yay!) so I planned a day to find the Covent Garden Showroom and buy all the things I needed. Being a showroom meant the product in store was limited, so my options were not as grand as they would be online or in a full store. But I managed.

The Speed Tight *Luxtreme are super comfy! They slipped on like a glove and felt very smooth on. My first impression was they wouldn’t be warm enough for winter running with the fabric being as slick as it was. But I loved the print, the look, and the style and fit. I also loved the high waistband. Nothing is worse then having your tights start slipping down while you run. That’s the worst!

Wearing these tights for the first time was like getting a new toy – there were hidden pockets to discover, zippers for storing things, reflectors you can roll up and show off around your ankles – these baby’s had it all! And after my first run I was surprised by how much heat they actually hold. Getting started I was freezing, but during the run it was all good. When my body started to warm up, I stayed warm. The Speed Tight *Luxtreme are light weight and again very attractive. Which stirred my curiosity as to what other people had to say. Reading some of the reviews online, I haven’t experienced any pilling of the material or see-throughness, but this could very well happen later on. I also read that a poor girl fell during a run and her tights split right open at the knee. Yikes! And ouch. Having only worn them a few times during shorter runs, it will be interesting to take them out on a longer run and on a day when it isn’t damp and rainy. And here’s hoping I won’t have to prove or disprove the falling theory. I’m still not entirely sure how they’ll hold up in the winter cold, but perhaps my Canadian running needs have prepared me for the worst.

Run: Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve:


The sweet gal assisting me at the Covent Garden Showroom was rather surprised when I told her I didn’t own a Swiftly top. “How can that be?”,  she said “you’re a runner”. I didn’t see why this was an issue, but sure enough she fixed this problem right away. Lucky for her I was in the market for a long sleeved running shirt so I did not oppose trying it on at least. All my shirts are back in Toronto, with my tights, not serving me in anyway.

At first I was a little apprehensive because I like my running tops to be slightly baggy, but with this top, that’s not how it suppose to be. Designed to act as a base layer you want it to be tight and comfy. I love the feel of the fabric and the fact that there are thumb holes! (These are very important for winter running). The Swiftly is quite long in the sleeves and torso which I like very much, (another pet peeve is when shirts ride up because they’re not long enough).

On it’s own the Swiftly is (and will be) great, but make sure to layer it up with your best outer shell for ultimate warmth. You can count on it for doing exactly what it’s intended to do, keep the sweat out and warmth in. Now I see why all runners should have at least one Swiftly top, it’s a great running staple to own. The real challenge will be picking out your favourite colour.

Now I’m on the hunt for a pair of running gloves, a good outer layer (something that’ll keep me warm with a hood), new shoes, and possibly another pair of winter tights. All recommendations are welcome!

Jill’s 2013 in review

After looking over Erin’s list of accomplishments for 2013, I took some time to rethink my year. What happened? What did I do? Where did the year even go?! My December (well, really the past three months) have been a bit of a disaster in the fitness scheme of things and not because of sickness. 2013 was the year I packed up my life to travel the globe, but it was also a year full of great accomplishments.


2013 was the year I took running training seriously… sort of.

I never considered myself a serious runner. I just ran for the hell of it. That and I felt I was good at it. And oddly enough I actually like doing it. Running gave me something else to do other than yoga, and something else Erin and I could do together. That’s all I really needed to make me run! But when I finally made the leap from running the occasional half marathon to actually signing up for a full marathon, it was time to get serious. 42k is not something to joke about. I joined the Running Room, met my running pal Julie, and took on a somewhat serious eating plan (the Thrive Diet) where I made my own gels and recovery drinks. I was taking this marathon business serious! Maybe a sub 4 hour marathon isn’t completely out of my league?

2013 was the year I became a yoga teacher.

I never thought this day would ever come, the day I would step into the practice room and actually lead the class. But it happened. I’m still playing around with the idea of teaching, but I like that it’s a part of my life and something extra I can offer and now do. I have the certificate to prove it! Back in February I was accepted into the Moksha Yoga Teacher Training in LA. After that I spent the spring and summer teaching my own free classes and classes at Moksha Downtown. If someone had said to me a year ago that I would actually be doing this I would have laughed out loud. But here I am, a real Moksha teacher.

2013 was the year I ran my first marathon too.

My marathon experience wasn’t quite like Erin’s, but it was the best weekend of my summer by far. A romantic getaway with Erin in the picturesque town of Prince Edward County, I couldn’t have asked for more. But as the events of the weekend unfolded – making it through the first half of the race feeling good, having Erin meet me at the half way point to run the rest of the way with me, my splits were almost perfect, and I broke my goal time of 4:15 – what an amazing weekend it turned out to be. Despite the rain.

2013 was my year of yoga.

Having rung in 2013 on a yoga retreat in Costa Rica I pretty much ended 2013 on the exact same note, on a yoga retreat, but this time I was in Bali. Yoga became a integral part of my running training, my social scene, and a huge part of my life in general. I took my practice seriously – both the mental and the physical – I found myself wanting to be on my mat more and more, but this was the year I would explore my practice as a whole. I searched for ways to bring yoga into my life off my mat. I started practicing at home, something I never took the time to do before… I know you would think otherwise. But now having the yoga knowledge and ability, evolving my self practice will be a great tool (and goal) as I continue to travel in 2014.


2013 was the year of my grand travel and fitness voyage.

2013 was a great year, but it was also a tough year. I learned a lot of valuable life lessons I know will only make me a better person in time, but this year in particular was a year for me to move though a lot of stuff. Leaving a job, losing a job, moving out of my home, leaving Toronto, packing up all my things and getting rid of everything else, it was serious. 2013 was a year of change, and with Cecilley by my side we headed off to Bali never to return! Okay, that last part isn’t true, but Bali was the kick start to our grand voyage and the place were we decided our next race together.

I’m happy to see 2013 come to a close because having a new year in sight can only mean new goals to set, new fitness promises to make, and new training  programs to adopt. 2014 is going to be great!

Yoga Unplugged Vol. 2

Photo compliments of Lululemon. Can you find me? I am in this picture!

Photo compliments of Lululemon. Can you find me? I am in this picture!


What: Yoga Unplugged
When: Saturday, June 29 @ 4:00pm
Where: 889 at the Thompson (550 Wellington St. West)
Who: Sunny Smith

One of my all time favourite things about summer is playing outdoors! What’s not to love about running, being at the beach, ummm hello beers on a patio? And yoga outside! The possibilities are honestly endless. Summer in a city like Toronto makes the options that much bigger (and better!). It can be very easy to burn yourself out trying to think about how on earth you’re going to be able to do it all – trust me it’s really hard – but with free summer events like Yoga Unplugged happening all summer long, you can easily sneak in a class or two during the months ahead. There are so many different free and fun things to do, so do not by any means let things like a tight budget get in your way (because I hear you on that!). Keep your ears and eyes open or just ask Erin and I, we can tell you what to do!


Thanks Lululemon for the photo. That's me in the background!

Thanks Lululemon for the photos. That’s me in the background!


After the crowd rolled out onto the 889 at the Thompson’s rooftop, we were introduced to our teacher Sunny. Sunny was really sweet and offered a fun and uplifting class. I did notice, however, as a new teacher it is super important to be able to instruct on many different levels. Although Sunny guided us fluidly from pose to pose, there was not a lot of direction in each posture. Cues were not given, but for the majority of the class this looked to be not a problem. But for a new student this class would have been rather challenging.

I also noticed this time there were not random Lulu girls and guys practicing amongst the class. The ones wearing the bright tights and Yoga Unplugged shirts? I thought these guys and gals were super helpful given the class is giant and you can’t always see the teacher. A class such as this needs to offer something for everyone – whether you’re new or experienced – everyone should walk with a feeling of satisfied gratitude. But I know finding that balance is not easy by any means, but it is important. Especially with free classes, new students will be drawn to attend. As they should be! This was an excellent class for regular practitioners and I certainly enjoyed myself.

Like I said earlier I love this event and what it represents. I’ve been many times and it still puts a smile on my face and a new song in my heart each and every time. I’ve already planned my next class. I hope to see you there!

Check out my three reviews of Yoga Unplugged last season: Yoga Unplugged, Jock Yoga, and The last Yoga Unplugged hurrah.


Pay-what-you-can Thai Yoga Massage

Rachael Kess is a long time teacher at Moksha Yoga Downtown, she’s one bright and genuine gal who sure knows her stuff. Teaching for 5+ years, Rachael is wise beyond her years and now that I’m working weekends at the studio I feel like the luckiest girl in the world spending hours upon hours chatting away with this fine lady.

Beyond being a superb teacher, Rachael is also a masseuse of the Thai Yoga Massage, which she offers at Moksha Downtown. I had the luxury of experiencing her “magic hands” myself  and holy moly I was taken to another planet afterward. As athletes,  we put our bodies through mega stress! And I mean mega. So a great way to thank your body for the copious amounts of stress we put it through is yoga or stretching or — you guessed it — a massage. I found this out first-hand, thanks to Rachael’s greatness.


This is Rachael. Isn't she the cutest?! And I stole this photo from you, Rachael, I hope that's okay.

This is Rachael. Isn’t she the cutest?! And I stole this photo from you, Rachael, I hope that’s okay.


Rachael is off to travel the world soon (so sad!) which means there’s limited time for pay-what-you-can thai massage. But you should check her out while you can. Tell her I sent you. You won’t regret it — and your body won’t either.


bAAArre Works

What: bAAAre
When: Tuesdays @ 6 p.m.
Where: Barreworks (625 Queen St. West, 3rd Floor)
Who: Gerry King

A very, very long time ago a little place called Barreworks opened shop on Queen St. West and hasn’t looked back since. I did visit Barreworks those many, many months ago (more like a year ago now) and really enjoyed what the studio had to offer. As the newest and coolest dance-infused work out, all of a sudden anyone could achieve the benefits of a dancer’s body without having to be a dancer! How great does that sound? No wonder their classes are full beyond capacity each and every day! Which was exactly the case Tuesday evening when I visited the studio for a second time.

Getting ready for some bAAArre action!

Getting ready for some bAAArre action!

Today, Barreworks offers more classes than ever before, has a second (but smaller) studio, and opened a second location on Yonge St. With all these grand expansions, they still carry the same pleasantness as the day I last visited. After figuring out a minor issue of me attending the class — I was not registered and the class was full. Yikes! But Jasmine took good care of me and made sure I got into the class I wanted to take. bAAArre. And yes that’s how it’s spelled. With capital AAA. Which stand for Arms, Abs, and Ass! And holy smokes, my arms, abs, and ass are killing me today.

Barreworks were kind enough to invite Erin and myself to this new class of theirs, but Erin didn’t come with me. Thankfully, my friend and Barreworks advocate, Tiffany Astle, came instead (hi, Tiffany!). She’s been raving about this bAAArre class every time I’d see her. It was time to see for myself what triple A torture this class would put me through.

After a studio walkabout with Jasmine, I was introduced to Gerry (our teacher for the class). Gerry was energetic and excited — I can totally relate! — and made me really excited for class. This class was busy and right away the beats were blaring and our bodies were bumping. The intensity was high, and as I scoped out the room there were ladies in the class who’ve clearly been there before, there were you amateur Barre-ers, and newbies just like me! But regardless of your fitness level, stamina, or physical strength bAAArre is accessible to everyone.  Don’t be fooled by the dance theme of Barreworks, bAAArre did not involve dancing of any sort. Okay, maybe we dance around a little bit, but it was nothing even I couldn’t handle.

Barreworks even offers SpinBarre! That's spinning & barre. Clever!

Barreworks even offers SpinBarre! That’s spinning & barre.

Gerry kept everyone entertained, working hard, and he kicked all our butts at the same time. His energy was hilarious and amazing. The class had just the right amount of variety, we touched on all the major points in the body we needed to without going overboard. I left wanting more. Gerry, I would come back to your class in a heartbeat.

Barreworks only downer is the cost. It is expensive to join: a drop in class is $21 plus tax and packages range from $95 to $750 depending on how many classes you buy, but, this would be a workout worth committing to. The basic exercises do not require a lot of things (you could do this on your own) but the dynamic class energy would be extremely hard to mimic. The studio environment would make each visit a good experience even if you didn’t want to be there. I would think this specific workout would require at least a 3 times per week commitment to see optimal results, but who am I to say. Therefore, I am saying, investing in an unlimited month membership would be you’re best bet. At least for a month and see for yourself.

Take this class if: You want the results of a tough workout without having to do any thinking.

Sister Act: 108 Yoga


Photo1 (4)What: Strength and Length
When: Friday @ 12:10 p.m.
Where: 108 Yoga (1496 Lower Water St. Suite 411 Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Who: Sarah Bannerman Andrews

The day before a race I like to do nothing. It’s probably the one and only time I actually can convince myself that doing nothing is okay. I have this weird thought process if I run, or even do yoga, before a race I might throw off my tempo or mess up my knees. What if I fell or injured myself? Something bad could happen to me and then I wouldn’t be able to run! I know this is completely not true (or is it?) but you just never know!

Before I run a race I also have this thing that I must do yoga before race day. Not the day before, but the day before the day before. I needed to go to a class on Friday, in case I completely confused you. Plus I was in Halifax and the new Moksha Bedford studio just opened. I wanted to go! But, sadly, Erin was not in the mood for hot yoga or anything that required any effort. Not that I could blame her, she was running the marathon after all!

After doing looking up yoga studios in Halifax (there are not that many compared to Toronto!), Erin found us a class called Strength and Length at 108 Yoga. This sounded interesting enough. It was a 45 minute class – just long enough and it didn’t sound too hard. The only trouble was making it there in time.

After we zipped downtown as quickly as we could, we arrived just in time. Whew! The studio was located in the Brewery Market, a great Halifax “must see.” It was dark and quaint with beautiful dark floors (just like home, for those who practice at Moksha Downtown) and our teacher (and the studio manager) Sarah was so sweet. The atmosphere was all around welcoming and peaceful you couldn’t help but feel happy to be there and on our mat.

The class was indeed every gentle and lived up to its name. With a lot of stretching and restorative postures woven into a gentle flow, I felt super afterward. The movements felt effortless as Sarah lengthened us from finger tips to our tippy toes, both in standing postures as well as on all fours and the best part, while we were on the floor. The strength component came with the longer holds and the core work which carried into every transition and into every pose. I was ready. Ready to run!

Despite the individual class price being a little steep ($20, but mat rental was free), being a Moksha teacher has it’s perks (teachers pay $5 for class). Given the great experience, it’s worth it for a one time drop-in. But you can get a good deal on a group package or monthly pass, for any Haligonian looking for a studio to call home. The instructions were clear and the class size was just right.

Take this class if: You’re a runner! You need a gentle stretch or a break from your regular pratice, or you’re new to yoga and what to know what all the hype is about.


Moksha Yoga Teacher Training Day #21

Today was our last and final day off of the training. So what did I do to utilize my time off? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Well not really I did get up in the morning and went to Joe’s yin/yang class with music at 9:30am, but I had a whole day planned in addition to class which included another long run to Runyon Canyon, buying groceries, making my lunch for the week and practice teaching for the following day: I was teaching again, but this time I’d be teaching in the hot room!

But let’s talk about Joe’s class for a moment. All I’ve heard nothing but great things about Joe Komar since arriving to Moksha LA and how badly I needed to take a class with him. Now I understand why. Joe has a very commanding presence in the room (it was also super nice not practicing in Studio B for a change!). Joe is gentle with this voice, but assertive with this instruction. This class was just the right amount of push I needed, with the right amount of tough yin. This was not an easy class by any means. I was blown away afterward by how “out of my head and into my body” I felt. This class was exactly what I wanted. With trainees teaching the Moksha sequence day after day, it’s hard to get into your own practice. Joe gave my practice back to me and for that I was so grateful. Thanks, Joe!

The grocery, cooking, practicing plan happened, but the run did not. I don’t know if it’s an LA thing or my brain on training, but I’ve become a baby and the last thing I wanted to do was go running in the wet and the cold. It was raining and cloudy all day. What gives?!

This is where I should have gone on my day off! The beach! But the weather was not cooperating.

This is where I should have gone on my day off! The beach! But the weather was not cooperating.

The more I didn’t run the more I was dreading the Around the Bay Race. (But, hey! We all know how that turned out!) And the day before, during our presentations, I discovered there was a 5-time Boston marathon runner (hi, Natalie!) among us. Natalie is a champion with a PB of 3:30 something, and officially my new hero.

I thought right then and there I would run the few days I have before the race when I got home. Erin will be running laps around me (so I thought)! With all the yoga I’m doing you’d think I wouldn’t worry to too much. But apparently yoga isn’t running training.

I can’t worry about this now. Now I need to rest and prepare myself for the 4th and final week of training.