Thursday, November 19, 2015

Trying something different...

I've been struggling with a few aspects of my life lately and my heart just hasn't been into running since Rock 'n' Roll Vancouver, perhaps that's why I haven't finished my review yet (stay tuned)! So for sanity's sake, I decided to try something different that I haven't done in a long time and check out a local gym.

There's something different about leaving your house to workout, I think I definitely work harder because I'm there so I might as well make my time worth it. I went to Good Life Fitness and tried the Body Attack class. I am totally uncoordinated so group fitness tends to make me a little nervous, but I actually had a really great time and I'm definitely thinking of trying some more classes. They also have a kids club/childminding area there so I might just be spending a lot more time at the gym... :)

Even when things are tough, I find being active, as hard as that can be, is really important. I haven't signed up for any races next year other than Seawheeze (yet) so I have some time to get my running mojo back and I'm kind of glad about taking some of my training inside for the winter months.

So if I've been quiet lately and my posts are few and far between, fear not, I'm getting fresh air, trying to stay active, and spending time with the people who matter. 
I'm working on some posts for next week including my race reviews for the Oasis Rock 'n' Roll Vancouver Cunningham Seawall 10k and Half Marathon, and an outline of some of the different books I've been reading.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Pumpkin Scones with Cream Cheese Icing

I made these Thanksgiving (Canadian) morning and it was a delicious and easy way to start the holiday.

2 cups flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Coarse salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) frozen unsalted butter, grated
2 tablespoons heavy cream, plus more for brushing
1 large egg
1/3 cup pure pumpkin puree (from a 15-ounce can) 

Cream cheese icing (optional):
1/2 package of cream cheese
1/2 cup softened butter
4 cups of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Milk (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Stir in grated butter. In another bowl, whisk together cream, egg, and pumpkin; stir into flour mixture just until a dough forms, but is still crumbly. Pat into a 6-inch round on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with cream. Cut into 8 wedges, and pull them 2 inches apart. 
Bake scones until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely on pan on a wire rack.  

Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating well. If necessary, gradually beat in milk to reach spreading consistency.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Chocolate Bourbon Cupcakes

It has been a while since I blogged, 2 weeks, oops! So stay tuned this week, hopefully I can catch up now that the Rock 'n' Roll Vancouver double race weekend is done.

I made these a few weeks ago with a friend and they turned out great. We did a variation on a recipe I found on Pinterest. The original recipe has a pecan pie filling center, which we skipped and they were still delicious! In fact, I might have found them too sweet and rich otherwise.

1 cup bourbon
1 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups cake flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Butter Pecan Frosting:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup + 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
2 tablespoons bourbon
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cup finely chopped raw pecans + 18 whole pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with liners.

In a medium bowl whisk together the bourbon, vegetable oil and cocoa powder until smooth and creamy.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and sour cream with an electric mixer. Slowly add bourbon and cocoa mixture. Combine on medium speed until silky and smooth. Beat in the sugar.

Slowly add flour, salt and baking soda, combining on low speed until just incorporated.

Fill baking cups three-fourths full. Bake for about 18-22 minutes. Allow to cool completely before filling, at least 2 hours or covered overnight.

To make the frosting. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or a silicone baking mat.

In a medium sauce pan, melt together 1/4 cup butter, cream, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and boil for one minute. Remove from the heat and add to the bowl of a stand mixer. Place the bowl in the freezer (or fridge for longer) for 15-20 minutes or until cool.

In a bowl whisk together the bourbon, 1 tablespoon vanilla, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add pecans and stir to coat evenly. Transfer nuts to prepared baking pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until toasted. Remove and toss the pecans with 1 tablespoon butter. Allow to cool 10 minutes, set aside.

Now grab the cooled butter mixture and add the remaining 1/2 cup room temperature butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar to the bowl and beat together until well combined. Mix in about 1/2 cup of the chopped pecans. If the frosting is not stiff enough to frost the cupcakes place it in the fridge for 30 20-30 minutes or the freezer for 5-15 minutes. Then remove and whip it for a few seconds to get everything smooth again.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Race Review: Spirit of the Shore Half Marathon

A week ago I ran the Blue Shore Financial Spirit of the Shore Half Marathon. I didn't really tell anyone I was doing it because I was definitely nervous, this being the 1st half marathon since I'd had Violet, but I felt like I was ready.

I got up bright and early and headed to the North Shore. I opted to pickup up my packet on race day, so I wanted to make sure I had lots of time. I arrived around 6:45am and the sunrise was just beautiful.
Package pickup was super quick and easy. I took a look at the course map they had on display and headed back to my car to stay warm. Although, you could have stayed inside at Blue Shore Financial. They had lots of seating available.
I didn't really have that long to wait before it was time to start. I had been debating all morning whether or not I needed a long sleeve, I didn't, but I wore one because it was a chilly morning. Unfortunately, I had a bit of wardrobe mishap when I realized that I had torn my pants at Mudderella the week prior, but because it was such a tight material, I did not notice until I had them on in the car.
Fortunately, it was only on my knee so I could run in them. Still, I was a little bit choked since they are my favorite racing compression crops from CW-X and they're over $100. I knew I shouldn't have worn them at Mudderella but I was nervous and I wanted my favorite gear. Alas, it is nothing like the incident back in 2012 when I ran with a pin holding together a hole in the groin region of my pants :O... It ended up being fine but it wasn't exactly how I wanted to start my morning.

I made sure to position myself at the very back of the crowd lining up for the start. I knew I was going to be slow. Before I knew it, we were off and going. I had to keep reminding myself to stay back and not pass people. I knew that if I went fast in the beginning I would be dead around 15k since that's the farthest I had ran at this point post-pregnancy. I eased into a steady pace, around 7 min/km.

If you know Park Royal, the race starts in the village parking lot, right in front of Blue Shore Financial. We then headed up over the parking structure to the North side of Marine Drive at which point I knew we were right around the corner from the BIG hill.

It's literally the only hill in the entire race, but it's no joke. It was steep and I wasn't trained for it. I've been dealing with a bit of a back injury for the last few months, and the chiropractor advised me to run on flat surfaces as much as possible, as you can imagine, I was totally OK with that, LOL. Anyways, I could definitely tell some hill training would have come in handy here.

Once I made it to the top of the hill, I felt a lot better, knowing that the toughest part of the course was behind me. I continued on back down towards Marine Drive, at which point the course headed East towards North Vancouver, and then under the Lions Gate, along a nice and peaceful running path.
At this point, the race was very spread out and I had lots of space, it felt like I was out for my usual Sunday long run, which was nice, definitely what I needed that day. You could tell it was going to be a spectacular weather day. The air was cool and the sun was warm.
I kept my pace and kept to my 10/1s, and once I was warmed up, I was feeling pretty good. At about 10km, we headed up over a pedestrian overpass and onto the Spirit Trail. I'd never run this part of the North Shore and I really enjoyed it. There was a turnaround here where we headed back on the route we came, towards West Van.
Over halfway through the race and I was feeling pretty good. I stuck to my rhythm until about 15km when we were on the seawall near Ambleside. My knees started to ache and not surprisingly, I was struggling. I was now beyond my training since having the baby 7 months ago. Even after 26 half marathons, training is what matters. I knew I could do it though. My heart took over and I did my best to ignore the pain in my legs. It had been such a trying week personally, I hadn't realized how much I needed to just get out there and run, it may not have been my fastest, but it was the perfect race in every other way.
Coming into the finish I pushed, but my legs weren't moving very fast. It didn't matter, I felt good, and I knew I that I had made it.
Despite my time (2:36:43), a half hour slower than my half marathon PR, I'm so proud of this race. After having a baby a short 7 months ago and a really trying week for me personally, I came out and ran 21.1 km. Yes I've done it 26 other times, but this one was a big one for my confidence. I look forward to returning again in 2016!
Race Review Summary 

Package Pickup/Expo:

I picked up my package right before the start and I had no issues.

Price/Value: $79-99 (depending on when you register)
I thought that this was fair. There was tons of support on course and the swag & medal were worthy of the price. The photos are great and as an added perk Blue Shore Financial had a cool finish line photo booth after the race and they posted the photos the next day on their Facebook page.
Aid Stations: 
There were 5 water stations, all with water and Gatorade. I don't think I even touched my hydration pack. It was great.

Course Difficulty: 
Easy. Other than the 1 hill, it is almost entirely flat. In my opinion, it would be a good course to challenge a PR.

Huge medal for a smaller local race, I LOVE IT. We also received an Icebreaker toque with the event name in lieu of a shirt.

Please note: Spirit of the Shore Half Marathon offered me registration in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Banana Bread

I looooove Banana Bread and I've been trying variations on this recipe for years to recreate my Nana's recipe and I think this is the closest I've ever come, soo good! I also have a totally different Gluten Free Banana Bread recipe here.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3-4 mashed bananas (extra ripe)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup of walnuts
pinch of nutmeg

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan with butter. In your mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, add eggs.

In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt. Add this to the butter mixture and mix until combined. Add banana, sour cream, vanilla, nutmeg, and finally the nuts. Once incorporated, pour into pan.

Bake for about 60 - 75 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

I wrap my banana bread tightly in tinfoil and then place it in a large ziploc and store in the fridge (Frankly, there's no rhyme or reason to this method of storage, it is just what I've always done). I actually like to eat it best when it's cold with a little bit of butter on top.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Maybe you've seen me posting a lot of runs lately, maybe not, but anyways... I've decided to do a run streak. This time, I chose not to put a time limit on it, I'm just going to do it for as long as I can whether that be a week, a month, or...

Why am I doing this you ask? Life has thrown me a curve ball this last week and running almost always makes me feel better, so I decided that running everyday was what my heart needed, and hey it's not so bad for my legs either. So for the next however long I need to, I'll be running at least 1 mile a day. Just a mile you say? Most of the time it will be more, but a mile is what I feel I can commit to.

How's it going so far? Pretty good though I started on October 1st, so today is only day 7. One week down! Some days are harder than others and almost all of my runs are on the treadmill after 10:30 p.m., but for the most part, I always feel better after I get it done.
Have you ever done a run streak? How long did it last? Any tips?

Friday, October 2, 2015

Race Review: Mudderella Whistler 2015

This was a relatively last minute decision. Some family members signed up last winter, but after just having a baby, I wasn't ready to commit. I finally decided to do this less than 2 weeks before the event. Spoiler alert: I'm so glad I did!

On Friday, I did my typical pre-race routine of laying everything out and making the always-difficult decision of what to wear (perhaps a bit more complicated for a mud run). Cody saw my pile and immediately said "why do you need all that warm gear? It's supposed to be sunny." Regrettably, I put away my arm warmers and long sleeve shirt.
We decided to go up Saturday morning instead of stay overnight in Whistler so we had to get up fairly early in the morning. I barely slept. It had been so long since I'd done a race, there were definitely a few butterflies.

I had access to the premium parking which was $30. Personally, I would pay for it especially if there are more than one participant/spectator in the car. Between what you would have to pay for gondola tickets and parking somewhere in the village, it's totally worth it. We got out and were literally right next to the check-in area, and then it was a short walk up the hill into Mudderella village.

This was our first glimpse of the start line... little did we know (I sort of knew) that hill kept going... and going...
There were "preferred" wave times, mainly I think, to prevent all 6500 participants from showing up at the same time, but they were basically letting people start every 15 minutes or so no matter your pre-selected wave time, which was great because when we were up there, it was COLD. I didn't find it crowded at all. In a matter of minutes, the clouds turned to rain, torrential pouring rain! Cindy (my teammate and mother-in-law) and I were fairly early (8:45am) and had to wait around a bit for the rest of our team. You bet I wished I had brought that long sleeve or those arm warmers. There was a heated tent, but of course we didn't tell the rest of the team that's where we'd meet them, and we didn't have our phones to tell them because we left them in the truck. Here's where taking advantage of the bag check would have been useful, it was $10.
We got our obligatory "before" picture before my hubby left to go stay warm until it was time to meet us at the finish.

The team arrived shortly before 10:00 and we headed up to get started. I knew we were starting on a killer of a hill and there's no way I'd be able to run the whole thing but I started out in a run just to get warm, my toes were frozen. Thankfully the rain eased off and the skies were starting to clear.
Excuse the image quality.
So I knew from the course map, half of the course was literally straight uphill, so the best we could do for this part was power through it. The first obstacle (Surprise Party) was maybe 5 minutes in. It was basically a pit of a mud that you had to wade through, a little chilly, but not difficult. The hill got pretty tough from here, it was nice though to turn around every once and a while and check out the view. Once we made it to the first water station, part of the team went on ahead and we decided to wait for the rest of the team to see how everyone was doing. Once they arrived and we made sure everyone was doing alright, Cindy and I decided to proceed on our own. In a group of 12 women, we knew that there was no way we'd all be able to stay together. It wasn't quite as steep, but there was still more incline to get to the second obstacle, Balancing Act. This was basically just balancing on wooden beams. The trickiest part of this is that the beams were going uphill. Next up was New Heights, which was a wall we had to climb over, again not very tricky and we knew that we were now at the TOP of the course and it was all downhill from here, well mostly. I really wish I had had my phone or camera because the sun had just come out and it was just the most beautiful view. For anybody who knows Whistler, we were at the top of the Excalibur gondola.

Next up was some dodging through trails, which was nice and refreshing since they were mostly downhill. We hit a few bottlenecks, but were definitely still picking up speed. Then we came upon the "muddiest" obstacle, Down to the Wire:
Despite my interesting facial expressions, it was fun! We took the "road less traveled" and braved the deeper, wetter side that nobody else wanted to go through.
But I'm glad we did because there wasn't really anyone in front of us, so we got lots of photos!
Yes I tossed my gloves after this, lol.

We had to run after this to keep warm and shake the water and mud out of our shoes! It wasn't long before we hit the next obstacle, Skinny Jeans. If you're claustrophobic, this may have been an issue for you (if this was the case, you can skip any obstacle that makes you uncomfortable). I didn't find it physically difficult, other than that I did not give myself enough of a shove and I got stuck and had to shimmy my way through the tunnel, after which you, of course, land in muddy water.

There was some serious downhill next. I got going too quickly a few times. I found myself thinking it would be awesome if we had a sled. Dirty Downward Dog was pretty simple but I'm at a loss for how to explain it.

When we hit I've Got Your Back, I knew we were close to the finish because you could hear it. We also saw some team spectators here.
Ain't No Mountain High Enough might have been the grossest obstacle but we were already so muddy at that point, I could have cared less.
You definitely needed help to complete Break the Glass Ceiling because someone else had to hold the netting up for you to climb under. It was also easier to get out if teammates held it up on the other side.

Tough Ta Tas was another wall with a robe climb on one side. Not very difficult but my heart was definitely racing climbing over the other side, trying my best not to look down!

Wheels in Motion was tougher than it looked. I really struggled with it. My hardest obstacle by far, I'm just not that balanced and it's been a long time since I touched a tire swing!
There was one more hill to the finish, the top is where we finally saw OUR spectators.
And finally it was time for the grand finale. This obstacle was called Hat Trick:
Don't I look thrilled? Lol, it was kind of scary. The lady was trying to tell me I had to cross my hands in front of my chest and I was still grappling with the fact that I had to go down the giant slide.
But I did!

It was cold!!!
I love this lady! I'm so happy we owned our strong together.

I was actually (relatively) pretty clean after that final dunk in the water, but there were some outdoor showers and tented change rooms if you needed them. We went and got our complimentary Shock Top beers and then headed to the truck to warm up!

I'm super happy that Mudderella gave me the opportunity to take part in this awesome event and I would sign up for next year in a heartbeat.

Race Review Summary 

Package Pickup/Expo:

You picked up your package right before the start and I had no issues.

Price/Value: $60-140 (depending on when you register)
It's a pretty elaborate course that required a lot of support/setup. You also get free photos, a tshirt, and a sweet Mudderella headband.
Aid Stations: 
There were 4, which I found to be plenty considering the length of the course. I also saw medical patrolling the course with 4x4s a few times.

Course Difficulty: 
Moderate. It wasn't so much the obstacles that were hard but the course. The hill was pretty serious, but you could definitely walk it. It's totally doable, but it's no easy walk in the park.

No medals but awesome swag! A sweet headband, a t-shirt, and free photos.

Please note: Mudderella offered me registration in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Granola Energy Bars

We've had such a busy week, I can't believe it's Thursday! My sister got married last weekend so we were away for the weekend and everyone came back fighting some sort of flu. We were all doing okay until yesterday and I think it finally took over. Anyways, I've been wanting to create a granola bar recipe for a while and I thought we could all use a pick me up today. I would love to bake some sugary muffins or chow down on some white bread right now, but I know in the long run that won't make me feel any better. I love my power cookie recipe but these might just rival my favorite pre-race snack. I'll have to test it out on Saturday at Mudderella.

3/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2/3 cups of slivered or chopped almonds
1/3 cup of chopped pecans
1/3 cup of pumpkins seeds
1 or 2 tablespoons of flax seeds
Pinch of salt
1 cup of rice cereal
1/2 cup of raisins or dried cranberries
1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips
1/3 cup of creamy almond butter or other nut butter
1/4 cup of light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 325. Melt butter and 1/4 cup of honey in saucepan. Stir until butter melts.

In a bowl, combine oats, almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and salt. Combine with honey mixture and bake on baking sheet for 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Let cool. Return to bowl and add rice cereal, raisins, and chocolate chips.

Line a 8-inch square baking pan with parchment and butter lightly. In a pan combine 1/2 cup of honey, almond butter, and brown sugar. Cook until mixture comes to a boil and sugar is dissolved. Pour over oat mixture and combine. Transfer to baking dish and using your hands or a spatula, press mixture down. Cool for 1 hour in fridge and then slice evenly into bars.
Note: I'm going to try omitting the sugar next time. I think the dark chocolate might be just enough.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Mudderella Whistler

So I just found out this week that I get to take part in this unique event happening on September 26th in Whistler and I am VERY excited. The last mud run I did, back in July 2014, I was pregnant but didn't realize it yet. The road to finally getting pregnant with my daughter was a very confusing one to say the least so I had a hard time recognizing that I could actually be pregnant. Anyways, it was fun, but I didn't feel like myself and I'm totally ready to take this one on.

Never heard of Mudderella before? Here are some facts about the event:

- 5-7 mile obstacle course
- Designed for women by women
- 12 - 15 obstacles per event
- 11 events are taking place this year in 3 different countries
- Over $200,000 raised for Futures Without Violence to date

This isn't just another mud run. I love the idea that it's a challenge and not a race. If you still need convincing check out this video:

I cannot wait to do this, and even better I get to do it with a team of awesome ladies. Here's the best part, you can do it too! Registration is still available here! Better yet, volunteer on race day and run the race for only $40 (more info here).

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

2015/2016 Race Schedule

I'm still working on fully updating the blog but I thought I'd let you in on my race schedule as it's starting to come together. Many are still tentative until I make the leap and register (my credit card can only handle so much LOL).

September 26, 2015:
Mudderella Whistler (Registered)
I literally just found out about this earlier this week and I am so stoked to take part in this unique event. Stay tuned for more information tomorrow. I'll be joining a couple family members also taking part in the race.

October 24 - 25, 2015:
The Rock 'n' Roll Vancouver Cunningham Seawall 10k (Tentative)
The only reason this is tentative right now is because I don't have confirmed childcare on the Saturday but I got to do it right, I mean 3 medals...

The Rock 'n' Roll Vancouver Half Marathon (Registered)
All registered and ready to go! Can't wait :)

February 2, 2016
Vancouver First Half (if I can get in, registration opens early November)

May 1, 2016
BMO Vancouver Half or Full Marathon 
I am 95% sure I want to do the FULL, there I said it... Stay tuned.

June 28, 2016
Scotiabank Half Marathon OR Run for Water Half in May
I'd like to beat my current half PB from Run for Water in 2013. I'm leaning towards Scotia because of all the downhill but I can't decide.

August 13, 2016
Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon (Registered)
I registered today. I'm totally excited I got in but a little disappointed that my mother in law didn't get in. I was really looking forward to running it with her.

There may be a few more additions but we will see how things go. A while ago I said I was going to focus more and do less races but the truth is, I do better when I have more on the schedule, it keeps my motivation up.