My First Duathlon

My first duathlon was a shitty experience.

For reals.

As in I had massive diar….errr…..intestinal problems the morning of the duathlon. Intestinal issues before I left the house. Intestinal issues on the way to the race (my apologies to anyone who used that Tim Horton’s bathroom early Sunday morning) and intestinal issues during the race. As in, I ran into the transition zone after the first 2.5k and then ran right on out the other side to get to the porta-potties and then back into the transition zone to get my bike.

I brought two large water bottles with me because I knew hydration was going to be a problem and I drank both, plus the water at the aid station during the run.

The other part of my duathlon experience was that I wanted to do the whole thing based on my heart monitor reading so I’m not sure if it was completely successful since I was so dehydrated which I think may have made my heart rate higher than usual.

All in all, it my times were dismal – DISMAL – but aside from my rumbling stomach and worrying about shitting myself on the bike, I really liked it. The whole run/bike/run thing is a good thing.

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Cold Water, Different Directions

Dear 80-ish-year-old Sharon,

So yesterday (but if you’re 80ish and reading this it’s a much longer time than yesterday) you got up at 6:00a.m. to race in a triathlon. You ate a bagel, drank your coffee, sucked back water and drove to downtown Toronto so you could swim, bike, run. Only the water was pretty freaking cold and when you jumped in you couldn’t breathe. But you still started swimming when that horn went off. Arms moving, face in the water but every time you tried to take a breath in, all you could manage was a quick gasp. That was quite something, wasn’t it?

You must have looked like quite the clusterf*ck because Young Hot Australian rescue dude on the paddleboard kept calling over to you, “Are you okay?” and then you’d give him the thumbs up. Only the third time he called over you shook your head no and gave him  the “I surrender” wave.

So Hot Australian Dude on the paddle board called over cute, young Hannah in the kayak and you hung on and debated for a few seconds whether or not to continue but your hyperventilating-can’t-catch-a-breath-lungs said, No Way Jose and you told her to call over the boat. Then you took the boat ride of shame back to the dock but not before being unceremoniously hauled in.

There is no graceful way to be pulled from the water into a boat.

On the incredibly short boat ride back you didn’t feel embarrassed, mostly just disappointed. Training-wise you had done everything but you can’t overcome your body shutting down in the cold. Or apparently you can because about 2000 other racers were able to do it. Just not you.

Then you had to take off your timing chip and pack up your equipment in the transition zone while everyone else was racing, so that was fun. And then there was the crying.

I’m not writing this to remind you of the shittiness of this triathlon experience. I’m writing this because life gets interesting when the unexpected comes your way and what seems like a road block is sometimes just a guide to send you off in a different direction.

You may have been pulled from the water but when you got home your kids had written you this amazing note.

triathlon noteThen you had a shower, took the boys out for lunch (burgers and fries FTW!) read a book, hung out and drank some wine.

And the next day you signed up for your very first duathlon.

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Toronto Triathlon Festival 2014

Tomorrow is the Toronto Triathlon Festival. I’ll swim, cycle, and run for the third time in my life and quite frankly, I’m feeling ill-prepared. But unlike last year’s clusterf*ck at the Ontario Women’s Triathlon I know I will muddle my way through it.

And then I have a plan. It’s still in my head and I haven’t said it out loud to anyone but my husband. I’m not even sure if it will come to fruition but I think it will because it’s been niggling at me ever since my husband, the truth-teller, told me the truth about something once again and now it has stuck with me, like a leech I can’t remove. But this idea depends on how tomorrow goes, not time-wise but how I feel after it’s over.

So tomorrow I race, in the 45-49 age group, no less.

But first, before anything, I need to see if my wetsuit still fits.

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My Running Mojo Has Turned Into A Running Mojito

For the past month whenever I run, in simple layman’s terms, I crap out. I hit the 3k mark and mentally I just stop which means physically I just stop. Except for that day last week when I was attacked by a bird. Then I kept running because I didn’t want to turn into a Hitchcock horror movie ending. Basically my running mojo has turned into a running mojito. And people, mojitos are good. Much better than mojo which I would imagine tastes slightly like tootsie rolls.

There’s no real reason for it although both my ‘very-smart-physically-fit-husband-who-has-no-problem-running-15k-before-he-even-eats-breakfast’ and I believe it’s mostly due to the heat because I am not good with heat. The physically fit husband above dubbed me seal skin when we first met 17 years ago after watching me turn bright red while working out and yet only managed to get a slight glowy, sheen on my face.

I don’t sweat a lot which means I overheat a lot. I won’t even get into the whole pre-menopause hot flash thing.

So last night I forced myself on the treadmill and made myself a promise not to stop until I had done at least 5k and I wasn’t going to slow things down. This time it was all about mind over matter, and apparently my body didn’t mind because dudes, I did it.

I think I may have found my running mojo again but it will never replace my love affair with the mojito.

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Gone Fishin’

I’m closing up Speed Skating Mom.

I don’t know if it’s going to be a forever thing or just temporary, I’m not quite sure yet. I also don’t want to make a big deal about it so this won’t be posted on Facebook or Twitter, it’s here in case you happen to stumble by for a visit.

When I started Speed Skating Mom it was simply a diary for me to keep track of my progress and a place where I could look back and remember that I was actually trying to learn how to speed skate (and just skate in general) as an adult. Then, and if I’m being completely honest with myself, people started to leave really nice comments about how ‘inspirational’ I was and I think I maybe got addicted to it a bit. Y’all did a great job of stroking my ego. Narcissistic much?

I haven’t really written for the past few weeks because each time I sat down to write I just couldn’t get the words out so I took some time to really think about it and when it came down to it, the reason was I’m tired of writing about me.

This past year I spent two days a week coaching speed skating – the younger kids who can sometimes make it feel like you are attempting to herd cats with razor blades attached to their feet.  I use the term ‘coaching’ loosely because mostly I was simply helping out on the ice, although I think as the year progressed, like the skaters on the ice, I got better too.

I discovered I love it. I love those kids. I love the way they leave their heart on the line every single time they go out there and race for no other reason than it’s simply what they do. Even though I had to juggle a shitload of stuff to fit in the coaching, no matter what mood I was in when I stepped on the ice, I was in a good mood when I got off. It was actually painful to me that I didn’t get to see them skate at their year end provincial championships. I wanted to be there and cheer them on and see the results of the hard work they put in. That they had spectacular results was not surprising to me in the least.

I’m tired of writing about me, me, me….look at me, see what I’m doing. Those kids are way more inspirational than I ever will be – they leave their heart and soul on the ice, you know?

I’m not discounting all the amazing emails and comments I’ve received, or any of my achievements. It’s not like that at all. I actually have a file folder filled with comments and emails that inspired me to keep moving forward when I thought I couldn’t. Learning how to swim? That shit was hard and those days when I didn’t want to go to the pool to flounder about like a fish out of water when I was in the water, it was those comments that kept me going. It kept me accountable.

But me writing about me isn’t really inspirational. Or at least I don’t feel like it is anymore. It’s actually kind of…egotistical and is the exact opposite of why I started writing this to begin with. And this is not me putting down anyone who blogs or celebrates their successes. I think we should all shout to the world when we conquer a goal and be all Booyah! Nailed it!

Hard work and determination should be celebrated every single moment.

But writing about it? It’s not feeling right for me anymore. I want to be out there doing more for the sake of doing instead of doing it and then writing about it. Make sense?

So I’m taking a break. Not sure when or if I will continue on with Speed Skating Mom but just like you need to take a break in triathlon training to give your body a chance to recover, I’m taking a break from this to give my brain a chance to recover.

I just didn’t want to leave without saying something. So this is it…my something.

And if I ever inspired you because of something I wrote, I feel very privileged that I was able to be a part of your journey in that way.

But you need to know you always had it in you anyway.

gone-fishing

p.s. I’m not really fishing because, worms, obviously.

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The Reality Of Triathlon Training

the-reality-of-triathlon-training

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Things I Learned During #FatBlast50

I get asked a lot of questions about #FatBlast50 so with no further ado:

ten-things-learned-cutting-grain-sugar

1) Know what has no grains or sugar? Salt and vinegar chips and french fries. You can still make bad choices and eat like crap doing a plan like this.

2) It’s not as difficult as you think. To succeed you need to plan. That means shopping for groceries and preparing foods in advance. I bulk cooked items like soup and chicken breasts so they were there when I was hungry. It helped me from making bad decisions *See salt and vinegar chips above*

3) I can’t put into words how much I loved my morning coffee with sweetened cream. If I didn’t have it, my whole day was off. During the challenge I switched to cream only and the first week SUCKED ASS. It basically ruined coffee for me. Then after about three weeks I grew to like it and I still haven’t gone back to the sweetened cream, nor will I. Be patient, your body acclimates.

4) You won’t feel deprived. I mean, at times you might like when your kids are eating warm, fresh-baked bread with melty butter right in front of you not realizing how close you are to jumping across the table and snatching it from their greasy hands, but for the most part you won’t. You shouldn’t feel hungry not eating grains or sugar because you should be filling up with good stuff like lean proteins and vegetables. Lots and lots of vegetables.

5) You will learn you like new things. Roasted broccoli? Curried sweet potato soup? This opened up a whole new world for me and, trickle-down-effect, my family. My favourite new snack is frozen vegetables, as in I eat them while they are still frozen. I put a bowl beside my desk, munch away and voila! No guilt about mindless eating. Also, anise will never stop being funny.

6) Shakes aren’t for me. Listen, if protein shakes work for you, more power to you. I discovered I need to chew my food or I still feel hungry. Therefore I will leave my shaking for Shakira songs.

7) Your workouts won’t be affected and might even be better. Some of my workouts are on the long side – an hour to an hour and a half so I was all “What do you mean no bagel and peanut butter before I go for a run? What is this craziness ye speak of?” Fueling your workouts using non-grain foods is just as effective, if not more so, than eating bagels and pasta.

8) You will eat a LOT. I was eating every two hours which translated into eating quite a bit of food, mostly vegetables or fruit combined with some sort of protein. That brings us to the next point.

9) You will spend a lot of time preparing food. I’m not going to kid you, preparing real food every day, seven days a week takes time and effort. I spent more time in the kitchen these past two months then I did in the previous six. Note, you will also grocery shop more.

10) You don’t have to be all or nothing. I mean, it’s totally okay if you are but that’s just not my life mantra. I had my glass of wine on Saturday nights during the entire process and even had a grilled cheese with fries one day and still saw results. Don’t ever beat yourself up for not following something 100%.

Life is a journey peeps.

We all end inevitably end up at the same destination, you can’t get around that, but it’s our individual journeys that make us who we are.

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UP by Jawbone

Back in January I was invited to a Best Buy Mom and Me Boot Camp with Tommy Europe.

Actually I wasn’t originally invited but then my friend Lisa got me an invite because I thought it was a cool event and being into fitness and all, it made sense. Anyhoo….Lisa got strep throat and I was without a vehicle so the whole thing was a no-go.

The event was to get the word out about Viva from Best Buy where you can purchase items that will ‘support and enhance the way you live (for the record, they have good prices).

BUT what I was most interested in was the UP by Jawbone. Fitness trackers are all the rage and I love that because I feel like you get better results and have more success when you’re accountable, especially when you are first starting out. By tracking your movement and eating, your numbers are there right in front of you.

I wore the UP for the past three weeks and here’s my take on it.

SET UP:

I am a techno-phobe and the thought of setting up any new device makes me procrastinate which is exactly what I did for a few days after I got it. When I did finally open the package, the entire set up took me less than 15 minutes. If a normal person is setting it up, cut that time in half.

COMFORT:

UP fit nicely around my wrist and was non-intrusive in my day-to-day life.

USE:

Syncing is incredibly easy–simply plug into your smartphone using the headphone jack in the UP band and press the sync button. Charging is done through a USB Cable and the charge lasts about a week.

WHAT I LIKED:

My favourite feature was tracking my sleep. With UP you can view how long it took you to fall asleep, total hours of sleep, how many times you woke up, and how many hours you were in light sleep vs. deep sleep. I found this information FASCINATING.

Screenshot_sleep_Up_Jawbone

UP keeps track of how many steps you take in a day and allows you to set goals. I also like that you can log in other workouts like cycling or boot camp (but not swimming! UP doesn’t like the water).  In the picture below you can see that because I work from home, I’m actually fairly inactive throughout the day – the spike is where I went for a 30 minute run in the afternoon. And even with my 30 minute run I still didn’t make my 10,000 steps in a day goal. There is truth to the fact that we are a society who sits too much – even when you’re someone who is training for a triathlon.

Screenshot_UP_Jawbone_activity

OTHER FEATURES:

UP also lets you keep track of your moods and add comments about your daily activities and sleep. You can set an Idle Alert so the band vibrates if you’ve been inactive for a set amount of time determined by you. And you can connect other Apps such as MyFitnessPal, IFTTT and Runkeeper (you can view a list of the Apps on this page).

All in all I’d give UP a two thumbs up. It’s a good product that will help keep you accountable.

Thank you  Viva from Best Buy  for letting me try it out.

p.p.s. I was given the UP by Jawbone to test and review (and yes, I get to keep it) but as is standard with me, if I didn’t like it I wouldn’t be writing about it. I will only ever write about something I like. It’s basically a crap shoot if you send me something. You’ve been warned.

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#FatBlast50 Follow Up

The #FatBlast50 ended last Saturday and yes I did go out and celebrate by eating:

(1) Fresh baked bread slathered in peanut butter
(2) A Hero burger and fries and what was probably the best god  damn Diet Coke of my life
(3) Cupcakes
(4) Wine and tortilla chips with con queso

Basically, it was a day of food debauchery. But by Sunday morning I had had my fill and was back to eating normally.

The entire process of removing grains/sugar from my diet was eye-opening for me in so many ways and I’ll write a post about that but I know y’all are probably wondering if I lost any weight because that’s the first thing people ask me ALL THE TIME.

So yes, I did lose some. It wasn’t my main focus but I get why people are interested so I’ll give you the run down. As you can see in my very flattering pictures there’s a definite change and no, there was no belly sucking in happening. I was too busy thinking about the peanut butter that was about to come my way.

sharon-side-fatblast50sharon-front-fatblast50

Pounds Lost: 6

I also lost 1.7 inches off my stomach, 1 inch off my hips, 2 inches off my waist, and 1.7% body fat.

Could I have lost more if I had done the 50 days without any ‘cheating’  – also known as my Saturday night wine.

Errr, yes. Probably. I guess. But the fact is, I’m not an all or nothing gal and if I’m out with my friends celebrating a birthday, Imma gonna eat the cake. Same goes for my Saturday night glass of wine…..or two. I enjoy it and I’m going to keep on enjoying it.

But it also taught me that there are simple changes one can make that will have an impact on our health. Also, I’m totally getting a t-shirt made that says Sugar is bad y’all.

That shit is in everything. Seriously, go open your fridge right now and start reading labels. It’s scary how sweetened our society has become.

p.s. My husband informed me midway through the #FatBlast50 that he decided to stop eating pasta and bread and dropped seven pounds in two weeks. He’s fun like that.

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Waffling

I’m going back and forth trying to decide if I should move from the Olympic Distance Triathlon to the Sprint Distance in July.

I’m fine with the biking and running distances but the thought of the swim portion is freaking me out because I didn’t have very good experiences in the water at either of my triathlons last year and the Olympic Distance is double the Sprint Distance.

I’ve signed up for a swim class that starts in March (which means I’ll miss the last two speed skating classes of the season–shakes fist at having to make decisions about these things). But honestly, I JUST DON’T KNOW.

The thing is, if you get tired when you’re running you can walk.

If you get tired while you’re biking, you can stop pedaling or slow down the pace.

If you get tired while you’re swimming you’re still in the middle of a fucking lake.

Anyway, I’m waffling and that’s no fun when there’s no maple syrup involved.

 

p.s. This picture seriously cracks me up every time I look at it.

Not caring what you look like when you race in a triathlon?

Nailed it.

swimming 2

 

 

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For 37 Minutes I Was A ‘For Real’ Coach

Here’s some speed skating math for you.

Bad weather + not so good driving conditions = a coach not being at the rink at the start of class to coach last night.

This + me pointing out this little fact to the Club President = him saying, “You’ll have to go on and coach then, Sharon.”

And because I work so well under pressure this added up to me replying, “But I don’t have a whistle”  because the thing is, I may be on the ice with the younger kids twice a week, and yes the kids call me Coach Sharon, but I don’t actually ‘coach.’

There’s other people who do that. People who are for real coaches with for real whistles and who are quite good at what they do. When I’m on the ice, I just follow along with their lesson plans, help put out the pucks, wrangle the kids, and basically have fun. No whistle needed.

Side Note: No matter what mood I’m in before I get on the ice with the kids, I’m always smiling and in a good mood after I get off. I love helping out and it’s pretty cool to be a part of teaching little ones to become speed skaters.

Thus I was clearly unprepared to teach a class–a class of older kids who can out-skate me with both feet tied behind their backs–but as the saying goes, the show must go on and I was the only ringmaster available so ya do what ya gotta do. Thankfully, Speed Skating Son was eager to help out with the pucks and I was able to rally one of the older skaters to coach with me. I figure I’ve watched enough practices that I would at least be able to fudge my way through most of it while having him do the demonstrations.

So last night for 37 minutes I was a coach until the real coach finally made it safely to the arena and onto the ice. Then I happily went back to my old helping-out-on-the-ice-status.

But ultimately, this story isn’t about stepping outside of your comfort zone, or helping when help is needed. Nope, the most important thing you need to take away from this story is…

I finally got my own whistle.

whistle

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On Compliments

One of the best compliments I was ever given was by Evelyn Hannon (Erica Ehm’s mother) who, when she met me, smiled and said, “I thought you’d be taller, you write like you’re taller.”

Last week at speed skating one of the other skaters (and also a mom of a speed skater) who I chat with both on and off the ice, told me my ass looked great. It’s the #FatBlast50 kicking into gear and let me tell you, that compliment made my night. I felt all perky pony after that. For the record, I also look at asses when we skate. You’re all bent over and your face is kind of just there, it’s hard not to.

So I decided to pass on the ass compliment to one of my fellow boot campers because unsolicited ass compliments are the best y’all. We were doing side lunges and she was in front of me and quite frankly, her ass deserved a compliment, it looked amazeballs.

Then my husband, who is the ultimate truth-teller and has the superhero power of giving-compliments-that-sometimes-don’t-sound-like-compliments-but-really-are, gave me a pretty cool compliment. It was the morning after speed skating, which means I was running on approximately four hours sleep and hope, and he had asked what exercise I had on tap for the day. I told him boot camp and sprints to which he responded, “You’re mentally stronger this year.” And I was all, “What the hell does that mean?”

Apparently what it meant was I ducked out on a lot of my workouts last year because I was tired, or sore, or whatever, but this year I seemed to be pushing through them all no matter how I felt

Ouch.

But also true.

So why am I writing this?

(1) Because I’m trying to avoid writing about speed skating since this year I feel like I’m going backwards (figuratively–I literally still can’t go backwards on skates), and

(2) There are people in your life who are deserving of an awesome compliment today.

Why are you waiting? Go give it to them.

hey you youre awesome

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Mississauga Marathon 2014

So I just signed up to do the Mississauga Marathon 10k.

Peeps, it’s on a Saturday night which means (a) you have all day to carb load, (b) beer is involved after you cross the finish line and (c) maybe even chicken wings or burgers…

In related news, I’m really hungry right now.

Don’t make me run it all by myself.

Who’s in?

http://speedskatingmom.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/mississauga-10k-2012.jpg

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#GilmoreJunioForClosingCeremonyFlagbearer

I kind of had an inkling that Gilmore Junio was a really nice guy long before yesterday when he gave up his spot in the Olympics to his teammate and friend, Denny Morrison.

Through the magic that is the internet, I *met* Kevin Jagger.  Kevin has a cool story.  After watching the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, he fell in love with speed skating.  So much so, that he quit his job as an investment banker to start training full time to try and make Canada’s National Long Track Speed Skating Team.  He documents it all on his Long Track, Long Shot website.

I’m a fan of Kevin’s because anyone who decides to quit their job to follow their dream is coolio in my books. But what also makes him cool is he never talks down to me.  Seriously.  I’m a 42 year old learning to speed skate…..he’s a much younger guy attempting to make it at the National level.  Yet whenever I have a question about training he just answers it.  Like I’m a completely normal person.

So one day, Kevin tweets out about his Low Walking training and I’m all….well ya better get your apple bottom jeans and boots with the fur. And then I go check out his blog to find out what Low Walking is only I can’t understand some of the lingo and ask him to explain it.

Not only does Kevin explain it, he gets Gilmore Junio (aka @cdnhappygilmore) who’s a member of the Canadian National Long Track Development Team, to make a video showing me exactly what I need to do.

Because I’m sure the guy had nothing better to do than make videos for a mom learning to speed skate while he’s training for the Olympics.

gilmore junio low walks explainedPretty awesome, no?

If anyone deserves to carry the Canadian flag at the Olympics closing ceremony, it’s this guy right here.

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The Numbers You Should Focus On

I’m halfway through doing the 50 days with no grains and no sugar, and this process has opened my eyes to some things I will never unsee.

Hint: Sugar is bad y’all.

But the question everyone wants the answer to is…Have I lost any weight?

The thing is I could care less what the scale says and I’ll tell you why.

The numbers on the scale will lie to you like a bad boyfriend who swears he will never cheat again.

So I’m not going to answer your question (yet). Here’s what I will tell you. I feel good. I have more energy and that energy level is now more even throughout the day–no more highs and lows. My workouts are better and I sleep better. I don’t crave sugar anymore.

I do still have my Saturday night wine though. Dudes, I’m totally not giving that up. Life needs to be lived and I will continue to indulge in the things I enjoy.

The point is I feel good, so why worry about the numbers, right? And maybe, for just one day, we could all stop focusing what the scale says and focus on these numbers instead.

focus-on-the-numbersFocus on how many steps you’ve taken today.

Focus on your cholesteral levels.

Focus on your blood pressure numbers.

Focus on how many fruits and vegetables you eat.

Focus on how many hours of sleep you get each night.

Focus on how many baby steps you’ve taken forward – because change always comes in baby steps, never in leaps and bounds.

Focus on how many times you smile throughout any given day.

Focus on how many times you’ve said to yourself “I can do this.”

And last but not least, focus on how many times today you’ve hugged someone you loved because that number can never be high enough.

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