Category Archives: Fitness

Fitness Friday: 2017 UAE Healthy Kidney 10K Race Recap

2017 UAE Healthy Kidney 10K Race - before

A trio of us ( were in New York City last weekend for IMATS and my friends said they were more than happy if I pulled myself away from our group for a morning race on the Sunday we were in town! In looking around for a race on the Sunday, the one that popped up was the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K race that takes place in Central Park. I was elated – not only was I finally going to get the opportunity to run in Central Park (something I’d always wanted to do but had never gotten around to actually doing while on vacation), but the race start zone was walking distance from our hotel! I mean, how perfect is that??

Let's do this! 10k race in Central Park! #UAEHK10K

A post shared by Chelle (@mu_your_mind) on

The morning of the race was sunny and beautiful. The air was on the cool side of things and for me that makes for lovely running conditions. However, my stomach was a bit of a mess that morning and I had slept uncomfortably the night before because I kept waking up every few hours and STAYING awake for long stretches of time until I dozed off again. It was predominantly to do with race jitters which is something I can never seem to shake no matter how many races I’ve got under my belt at this point. It’s odd too – I hadn’t trained for this race in particular, so I knew I wasn’t going to put out a stellar time so I should not have been nervous at all.

Anyway, I ended up forgetting my Garmin tracker as I was headed out the door which ended up putting me a little bit off kilter when it came to the actual race. I thought my Nike+ app tracker would be sufficient (which is why I didn’t double back to get my Garmin) but it definitely wasn’t, and I certainly won’t be making that mistake again.

2017 UAE Healthy Kidney 10K Race - Nike+ Course Map
2017 UAE Healthy Kidney 10K Race – Nike+ Course Map

Despite my stomach feeling rotten and the weird race jitters being ever present, as soon as I got into the starting lineup for the race, all of my worries melted away. And as soon as I started the actual race, I felt entirely at home. Running has become such a part of my life that it’s actually incredibly soothing to me. I know that sounds a little bizarre to some people – that the idea of bouncing up and down while covering long distances could even be remotely soothing, but, to explain it a bit more, the movement of putting one foot in front of the other… it’s become such a practiced and comfortable movement for me that it instantly puts me at peace. I experienced this same feeling last year when I did that Half Marathon in Iceland (which had crappy weather conditions and I felt less than stellar due to lack of sleep). It’s like my body just knows what to do and I can just give in to that feeling.

Anyway, I was lacking my Garmin, so the only feedback I had about my pace was coming from my Nike+ app, and it was only telling me once I finished a kilometer. I actually thought I was going at a really good pace, but in the end the Nike+ app was overtracking my kilometers and thinks I finished the race about 600 meters before the end which made all of my pacing totally out of whack. Not much I could do about it – by the time I realized the mistake I was so close to the end and I couldn’t run double my pace to make up the difference. I never really realized how much I rely on my Garmin to keep me on pace. Having that information feedback on your wrist is so, SO freaking vital! In the end, I ended up going a touch faster than my half marathon pace (pace details are at the bottom of this post), so yeah, it was a pretty slow race for me! And I wasn’t really sore the next day so I definitely wasn’t pushing myself. Ugh.

2017 UAE Healthy Kidney 10K Race - All done!
2017 UAE Healthy Kidney 10K Race – All done!

One thing I was not prepared for was just how many dang hills there are in Central Park. HOLY CRAP YOU GUYS. It’s like a constant series of uphills! I couldn’t believe it! Especially the northern end of the park – it felt like kilometer after kilometer of ascent. I didn’t stop to walk any of them, but it definitely sucked some of the energy out of my system.

One of the things I need to mention about this run is that this was my first experience with seeing “threat level” flags in a race. I assume it’s because of what happened with the Boston Marathon bombings, but every checkpoint had a green flag with something that said “Race Status Alert Level: Safe”, which I anticipate they would change to yellow or red depending on what the conditions were ahead. I think it’s a necessary measure considering what has happened in the past, but when I finally clued in to what those flags meant (took me a few checkpoints to realize!) I was horrified – chills were running up and down my body. It was a moment of “what the hell country am I in where this is a necessary measure?”. It was a really bone-chilling moment for me.

All in all though, the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K was an extremely well organized event. I appreciated just how many hydration stations there were (which even included bathrooms), alongside the safety checkpoints. The volunteers all seemed happy to help and encourage and the overall atmosphere was really enjoyable. Overall, I didn’t LOVE the course design, but there is not much that can be done about that due to the structure of Central Park. So for me, I was just really happy to participate in this event!

Race Results

  • Finish Time: 59:25
  • Pace: 5:56 per kilometer
  • Overall placement: 5197/8615
  • Age group placement (Female 30-34 years): 430/887
  • Gender placement (F): 1764/4032

By the way, if you’re ever interested in the other races I’ve run, you can always visit my Race Results page for a breakdown by year and by race. Enjoy!

Fitness Friday: F45 Training Yorkville

Functional 45 (F45 Yorkville)
Functional 45 (F45 Yorkville)

Last week I was invited to try out a class at F45 in Yorkville (110 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Canada) and my friend and blogging pal Kaitlyn was more than happy to join me! (Never underestimate the power of having a friend in a group class setting – it’s very, very inspiring!)

Not aware of what F45 is? Neither was! As it turns out F45 stands for Functional 45 which, according to them:

“…is the new training technique leaving competition and clients gasping for air. F45 is the most innovative, challenging and systemised team training workout in the world. Come and train like the stars at F45 Training.

You’re scratching your head, aren’t you? I get it, that doesn’t explain a lot. So let me boil it down: it means you’re going to be working out like a beast for 45 minutes straight. It combines high-intensity interval training and functional training in a group fitness setting. The interesting thing? They conduct one class the entire day, it changes daily AND the sequence of intervals will never be the same again. Intrigued? I sure was!

F45 training area
F45 training area

The F45 training area is basically one big room with a lot of equipment that can be easily moved around depending on the kind of class you’re going to be taking (the instructors will set up the stations before you start the class). There are screens on the wall which will give you instructional quickies on how to complete the move you’re currently doing in your circuit – this is immensely appreciated because in a class of 20 or so, the instructor won’t be able to help you at all times so you can just follow  what’s happening on the screen.

F45 training area
F45 training area

Keep in mind though – this is specifically a group exercise gym – it’s not intended for you to go there and do your own thing! We arrived early and got the lay of the land: a group before us was finishing up and they were looking hot and sweaty. The music was also POUNDING (which I really appreciated because I cannot stand hearing myself breathing while I’m working out).

While the other class finished up, we checked out the place: there are plenty of change rooms/shower stalls as well as bathrooms if needed. There are no lockers, but there are cubby slots where you can stash your stuff while you’re working out. You might be skeptical about a cubby slot with no lock, but it’s all out in the open where you’re working out so you can glance at your stuff if need be.

Kaitlyn and I before the session
Kaitlyn and I before the session

Kaitlyn and I opted to do the session labelled: “22: Paired Cardio”.

22: PAIRED CARDIO

Pray you get a good partner because you’ll be going through hell together. But then, apparently that’s the best way to heaven. Welcome to the infamous F45 1,000 calorie killer workout. No muscle escapes our attention since muscle tissue burns 15 times as many calories as fat. Even after your session, your metabolism will still be in overdrive. Listen carefully and you’ll hear the calories burning.

I liked the idea of doing it in a team, and, more interestingly, this workout claimed it would burn 1000 calories. For anyone who has ever counted calories you know that burning a thousand calories in 45 minutes in practically impossible (seriously – it takes me about 80 minutes of straight running to burn that), BUT I wanted to see how close to that 1000 I could get. (Sidenote: F45 has a TON of different programs, check them all out here.)

Looking spry and feeling pretty good (because this was our first station!)
Looking spry and feeling pretty good (because this was our first station!)

Armed with my trusty Garmin and heart rate monitor strapped to my chest (to track calories), Kaitlyn and I got to work. We tackled each station twice in rotation with your partner. You’ll do station 1.1 first for 45 seconds, rest for 15, do station 1.2 for 45, rest for 15, then repeat. After that station is finished, you’d then move on to station 2 and the cycle repeats.

About halfway through the program!
About halfway through the program!

The interval stations were extremely varied for the session we did. We went from axe chopping, to cycling, to sledgehammer shoveling, to the TRX thingamajig you see above. It’s varied enough so that you feel like you’re working opposite muscles per segment, which is always a blessing because it gives those muscles a chance to recuperate before you slam them with activity again. There are also two levels per station – so if you’re not feeling especially healthy that day you have the option of doing the less amped up version of the exercise.

This was somewhere towards the end of the session and I was really looking forward to finishing up!
This was somewhere towards the end of the session and I was really looking forward to finishing up!

By the time we hit the third segment of intervals (there are water breaks between the segments), I was starting to feel the burn for sure. Very rarely do I get in exercise situations where I feel genuinely SWEATY (running doesn’t really do that to me) but my back was soaked and my hairline was getting greeeeasy!

F45 completed!
F45 completed!

When 45 minute was up, I was so very close to spent. I was sweating like a beast, but I felt really, really good. The group atmosphere of the class was incredibly encouraging at the end – we were high fiving people that we had just finished the class with!

But… how did it play out calorie-wise?

Garmin tracking of the F45 Workout - 22: Paired Cardio
Garmin tracking of the F45 Workout – 22: Paired Cardio

As I suspected… nowhere even remotely close to 1000 calories. (For reference, I’m 34 years old, 155 pounds and 5’3″/160cm tall.) I burned roughly 430 calories in the 40 minutes I had the tracker going which is roughly the same I’d expend while running. I had anticipated burning somewhere in the range of 400 to 600 calories for the session, so this was on par with my expectations. Even if I had worked doubly hard (which, looking at my heartrate, would not be possible!), I still would not have achieved a 1000 calorie burn.

With the 1000 calorie expectations out of the way (seriously – that’s just advertising nonsense) – this is a REALLY good exercise routine. The 22: Paired Cardio program is varied and enticing and it MAKES. YOU. WORK. There is no point in the routine where it feels like a boring or conventional program. I was sweating extremely hard by the end, but I also felt really, really good. It’s an empowering workout made all that much better by doing it with a friend to help you with that internal motivation (thanks Kaitlyn!).

F45 was started in Australia (so you’ll find a metric ton of those gyms there), but they’ve got plenty of locations worldwide. If you’re interested in trying something new at the gym – something that will get you motivated and moving and isn’t your regular boring routine of treadmill or elliptical, this could definitely be for you!

We were invited to attend the F45 training session free of charge.

Fitness Friday: 2017 Achilles St. Patrick’s Day 5K Race

Just before starting out for the race!
Just before starting out for the race!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! I hope you’re wearing some green and having a lovely day. 🙂

So, my favourite race of the year is always the Achilles St. Patrick’s Day 5K! I’m a wee bit obsessed with all things Irish and green, and I can think of no better way to start my St. Patrick’s Day festivities than with a 5K race in cool weather, surrounded by a sea of green runners!

Coming up towards the finish line!
Coming up towards the finish line!

As I’ve been whining about (for an eternity now), I’ve gained ten pounds in the last two years or so and it’s not really going anywhere. Last year really SUCKED for races for me – I barely stayed under 27 minutes in the 2016 version of this race, and then the rest of the year was spent languishing around 27:30 race after 5k race (which I was personally pretty really ashamed about). So towards the end of last year, I started to make significant strides and changes to my workout program – I was lifting weights on the regular and I was determined to actually train properly for a 5K.  I had set out a plan to do long runs, mixed with tempo and sprint runs and, for the most part, I had stuck to it. That being said, I hadn’t done everything I thought I possibly could do before this race, so I was nervous right up until the night before the race.

Near the end! Rogers Centre (/the Skydome) behind me!
Near the end! Rogers Centre (/the Skydome) behind me!

And then, the night before the race, I suddenly looked at the predicted temperature in the morning and my nervousness evaporated: the morning temperature was expected to be around -12C with a windchill of -20C. My inner monologue was basically “fuck it, it’s too cold. Don’t expect anything out of this race.” Toronto’s winter this year has been warmer than normal and I haven’t had the opportunity to train my lungs for a cold weather run, never mind a race, in temperatures that were around -10. So I figured to hell with the nerves as there’d be no way in hell I’d be able to bust out a decent time.

I. Was. So. Very. VERY. WRONG!

The end is in sight!
The end is in sight!

The morning of the race was cool and brisk, but the wind speed was low. The temperature, while around -12C, didn’t have a windchill much colder than -15! David and I stayed inside the doors of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre until just before the race so that I could keep warm (lifesaver!). For once in my life, my stomach wasn’t churning before the race and I felt relatively at peace (although for about 30 seconds I thought I’d forgotten my earphones… that would’ve been game over for sure).

So when the air horn sounded, I started the race at a really comfortable pace. So comfortable in fact that I forgot to turn my Garmin on for a few seconds! Reality set in within the first twenty seconds and I was like… “well my lungs aren’t dying, I feel good… but there’s a lot of people in my way.” So I started to weave in and out of the pack to get around the slower runners until I caught up to the people that were moving more my own pace. And honestly? I felt GOOD. I felt in control on my body and I felt strong. I wasn’t gasping for air and I wasn’t super dehydrated (which is normally how I start races – with a dry ass mouth because I’m so nervous).

2017 Achilles St. Patrick's Day Race - Garmin Results
2017 Achilles St. Patrick’s Day Race – Garmin Results

Realistically, I didn’t know how fast I was moving because my Garmin really struggles to determine speed when there’s so many tall buildings around. If you look at the map above, you can see how erratic the trajectory line gets on what’s supposed to be the straight line down Wellington Street – so it really overestimates your speed since it thinks you’re doing hella crazy maneuvers. I had an idea that I was moving at a decent clip because I was mostly passing other people and not being passed all that often. Sadly, when we hit the 2.5k mark where the loopback occurs (at Yonge Street), the water I was looking forward to was nowhere to be found. Ughhhh! Next year I need to remember to bring my own water!

However, it was a good thing there was no ability to stop and drink because I kept pushing on… and nailed the finish line with a race time of 26:06! Four seconds faster than my previous personal best (PB) and an enormous 60-90 minutes faster than my average 5K race pace from 2016. I was ECSTATIC! I was so damn happy I almost started full on crying when I saw my chip time come up on Sportstats.ca – there were tears welling up in my eyes! All of the work I had put in, despite feeling like it hadn’t been enough, had DEFINITELY paid off and I couldn’t be any happier! This race only further convinced me that I do far better in subzero temperatures – I am definitely built  for – and thrive in – the cold!

Race Results

  • Finish Time: 26:06
  • Pace: 5:13 per kilometer
  • Overall placement: 323/1313
  • Age group placement (Female 30-39 years): 38/262
  • Gender placement (F): 108/742

By the way, if you’re ever interested in the other races I’ve run, you can always visit my Race Results page for a breakdown by year and by race. Enjoy!

Fitness Friday: A Whiny Post on My Lack of Self Control

Me after a run in Florida in April
Me after a run in Florida in April a few years ago, but it does depict my current annoyance!

Hooooo boy. You know, it’s like one step forward, two steps back lately for me. I’ve been on a great training rotation, and then it was less good, and then it was adequate, and then I started eating garbage and it basically destroyed all the work I’ve put in. [insert various curse words here] Why am I telling you this since it’s not especially uplifting? Because I don’t want anyone thinking that exercise, fitness and appropriate caloric-intake is always smooth sailing.

My “happy” weight is around 147-149 – that’s where I feel the most comfortable. But I’m around 158-160 right now and it’s BEEN DRIVING ME NUTS. That being said, it’s been driving me nuts for two years now  so clearly I’m not headed in the right direction. I occasionally fluctuate down to 156 at times, but I can’t seem to cross back into the 155 and under area. My pants are fitting uncomfortably tight right now and it’s making me super damn grumpy.

I exercise about 5-6 times a week and that may seem excessive to some people, but I enjoy it. (I run 2-3 times a week, weight lift 2-3 times a week and play soccer once.) So it’s not like I’m lacking in the physical fitness department – I am exceptionally strong and my endurance is such that I could go out and run a half marathon on a whim.

So my problem isn’t how much (or little) I exercise, but rather my food and alcohol intake. I frigging love food and I frigging love wine. And I have a bad habit of consuming a lot of both. I’ve gone through phases in my life where I’ve had a lot of willpower, I mean, I did go from 196 pounds down to 149 several years ago:

So I know it’s possible, but I seem to be lacking the drive to get there in the last few years. I need to somehow relocate my sense of self control when it comes to food, but damn if it isn’t hard!

Anyway, thank you for listening on this rather off-track blog post, but if you’re struggling with something, maybe you’ll take heart in the knowledge that you’re not the only one! If you’re up for sharing, let me know what your current personal complaints are and maybe what your goals are! I always find it motivating and uplifting to hear others talk about their plans so maybe you’ll give me the drive to more forward with mine. 🙂

Fitness Friday: Improving My 5K Race Time

Although my fitness posts may have fallen a little bit off the radar in 2016, I still managed to stay really consistent with my exercise. In 2016, I ran two half marathons and four other races ranging from 5 kilometers to 5 miles. And while I did okay with these races (except for that terrible Iceland half marathon – that was just BAD), I never really improved upon my race pace. It’s been a dream of mine for a while to get better and faster at my races, but when it comes down to it, I’m more than willing to put the hours in to running on a regular schedule, but I generally don’t want to put the effort in that is required to get faster. (Because let’s face it – getting faster usually involves doing something like sprints and those are pretty nauseating.) I can usually do it for a handful of weeks, then I fall completely off the rails.

Almost there!
Almost there!

Anyway, where’s this going? One of my favourite races is coming up in the middle of March – the Achilles St. Patrick’s Day 5K race. I put out my personal best time on this race back in 2015 and I’d really like to beat that. Ideally, I’d like to get under 25 minutes, but for now I’ll settle with under 26:10 which was my previous PR. Considering I barely squeaked in one race under the 27 minute mark in 2016, I’ve got a lot of work to do, and I’ve only got three two months to do it (shit, I literally thought I had three months, but nope)! This may seem like short notice, but I like it for a number of reasons:

  1. It gives me a concrete deadline. The race is March 12th – which means I need to get my butt in gear immediately.
  2. I’m better at accomplishing things with a relatively short timeline and under high stress. This is because I have zero opportunity to push it off till “later”.
  3. I frigging love St. Patrick’s Day and want to do well in a race I already have immense fun doing.

So, where to start? I have always used the Hal Higdon training programs for running. This time I’m going to be following the 5K Intermediate Plan which is intended to make you faster. Having done Hal’s programs in the past, I know that I usually need more time than what’s allotted (just in case something happens like injury or laziness). This 5K program is an 8 week one, which is great because (as of typing this) I have 9.5 weeks until the race.

Although I won’t be able to complete all of the runs on a weekly basis in the race chart found in Hal Higdon’s plan, my goal is to complete the difficult ones (like tempo runs, long runs and the horrific sprint/recovery/sprint runs). I’m opting for this because I do not want to give up weightlifting and I still play soccer every week which is a lot of exercise to shoulder on top of everything else in my life.

I’m excited to get this going because the timeline is really contained. I’ll try to do an update here and there on how I’m doing and I’ll definitely be posting a race recap after the 5K to see just how well this training schedule worked out. Wish me luck!