Sweat Pink Ambassador & Why It’s Important to Me

Happy first day of school/first day back after the long weekend! I hope everybody had a restful and enjoyable weekend filled with family and friends.

Things are finally starting to calm down here a bit after the move back to North Bay (where I attend university), so I am finally able to pop back into Blog World. Oh, how I have missed it. I have loved reading about all the fun things everyone did on the long weekend!

Before jumping head-first into all the randomness I have for you today, I wanted to talk a little about my new role as a Sweat Pink Ambassador (you may have noticed the little badge of honour on the right side of my blog). Fit Approach, or Sweat Pink, is an active community that involves women from all over the world. I was first intrigued simply by the name: sweat – check, pink – favourite colour, so check. I decided to check it out.

Sweat Pink is a community of active, enthusiastic women. It is about connecting with and inspiring (and becoming inspired by) each other. It is about showing the world what women can do. It is about the grit and the sweat but also the femininity we embody as women.

It is about trying your best, challenging yourself and feeling proud of yourself, no matter what.

It is about having green juice but also having a huge piece of chocolate cake (aka: BALANCE).

It is a community that builds each other up and never tears each other down. It is about support and positivity and fun.

Personally, I feel that these are all values I try to embody or strive to embody. I am not a huge fan of using blogs as a marketing tool (unless that is your career) unless you really passionately agree with the values of the company or product you are working with. When I got a welcome e-mail from the co-founders, Jamie and Alyse, accepting me into the community, I was beyond ecstatic. For someone like me who does not have a ton of active/runner friends around me, it was exciting to know that I could be part of a community that was just as excited about these gorgeous pink shoelaces as everyone else!

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As it is for anyone, it is comforting to know there are others out there, just like you, living their own journeys. This was a total seller for me, I am all about comfort and support!!

As a Sweat Pink Ambassador, I really just hope to inspire others to lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle and to enjoy activity, not dread it. Running has become such a large part of my life and has changed me in so many ways. Whether it is running, yoga, kickboxing, soccer, dance, etc., I hope to help others find their niche and their passion and allow it to hopefully change their lives for the better.

I started by giving my mom and Hope a pair of pink shoelaces. They are not huge fans of running, but they will be running the 5km portion of the Fall Colours Race while I run the half marathon. I am so excited and proud of them. Hopefully the shoelaces will make them extra speedy:)

For more info, check out their website HERE.

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Now some randoms from the past few days! I guess these would be called tangents. (I really need to brush up on my vocabulary. I said the word “like” about twenty times in my 75 minute Postcolonial Literature class today).

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My mom sent me this throwback the other day. Did anybody else have a “cellphone” like this? It was called a Firefly. This phone is probably circa 2005/2006. You could only make outgoing calls to the people your parents preauthorized onto your contact list. Absolutely hilarious.

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Came home from a sweaty 8 miler to find these. My roommates freaking rock.

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I whipped up some peanut butter banana cacao-chip muffins yesterday. It’s safe to say between myself, Terry and my four roommates that half the batch is gone:) They are one of my favourite “healthy” muffin recipes.

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Saw this hat on Ebay and had to get it. No, I did not run Seawheeze so no, I am not fully deserving of this hat. But it’s a cool hat!! SO pumped for it to arrive!

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We went to a party at a friend of a friend’s house. He lives on a house directly on the beach. It was super dark so this picture does no justice. Basically I was standing at the edge of his backyard. The pong table is on the sand and beyond it is Lake Nipissing. So incredible. Such a beautiful lake and view and wow. (Yup, definitely need to brush up on my English major skills and adjectives).

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My mom also sent me this picture. Missing my Marley like crazy!! (And the rest of my fam, of course!)

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Favourite muffin recipe?

Do you live with roommates? If so, what do you think of them?
-This is my fourth year living with my roommates! We have been together since day 1 of university – crazy!

Tell me about your dog. I love dogs.

Thursday Things + Guacamole Recipe

I am writing this 45 minutes before I leave to drive back to North Bay to start my fourth and final year of my English degree – what?! I am super excited but also feeling a little down because I am going to miss my mom, Hope and Jake SO much.Just got real tears there. Let’s not talk about it. But only 5 weeks until Thanksgiving (I love you, Canada) and I am home for a full week. The countdown is on.

My return back to school means that my mom and I spent yesterday shopping for random last minute things and doing random last minute errands (including a full grocery shop – thanks mom!!). We finished the day off with one last yoga class together and ice cream with the entire fam. I’m definitely all set to head back today and am definitely pretty stocked up. I have all the necessities but like anybody who is obsessed with spending money, I also bought a lot of random things that were totally unnecessary but made me smile.

Here are 3 of those things:

  1. Banana marshmallows. Does anybody else absolutely love these?! I couldn’t resist. So fluffy and delicious and only 44c.

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2. Dried mangoes. They speak for themselves. Also 50% off – yessss.

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3. A winter coat. Yes, I realize it is only September. But I fell in love as soon as I saw it. Nothing like being over-prepared.

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After our shop-a-thon, my mom and I made some nachos for dinner (which my stomach was very unhappy about later on). Nachos, for me, always = guacamole. So I whipped up a batch and then decided maybe you would like me to share my go-to recipe.

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I like making my own guacamole because lots of guacamole is full of salt, and even worse, full of CILANTRO, which in my case is the absolute grossest thing to ever touch the earth. Just terrible. So my recipe is pretty clean and happily cilantro-free:)

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Guacamole Recipe 

-2 pitted avocados, mashed
-1 small tomato, diced
-1 teaspoon of lemon juice
-1 teaspoon minced garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic salt – whichever you prefer)
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon pepper

Mash avocados and all ingredients. Mix together, serve and ENJOY. And it is totally okay to eat this batch all on your own:)

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How do you feel about cilantro?

Do you ever even think about winter at the beginning of September?

Anybody else heading back to college/university? Has school started for you and/or your kids?

Reality Check Wednesday – September Goals Edition

Happy Reality Check Wednesday! Thanks to Teresa as always for hosting!

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Today I would like to use my Reality Check to talk about my September goals. I am huge in goal-making, but I have never really written my goals down, let alone really expressed them for others to see. I have been totally inspired by so many other bloggers’ September/monthly goals that I really want to write some of my own.

I love September for many reasons, but especially because it’s not technically the beginning of the new year, but it represents a new start in more ways than one. A new season, a new school/work/dance year. Going into my fourth and final year of my undergrad, it will be a year of firsts and lasts and September is really where I will set the tone and get the ball rolling.

So here are my “REALLY REAL” September goals:

  1. Really stick to my long runs for the next month so I have a great base for my half marathon on October 11. School/work will be a whirlwind but I really want to stick to my long runs so I am ready for my race – PR or no PR!
  2. Start the school year off by completing ALL of my readings. As an English major, I am constantly bombarded with readings, so I really want to start the year off on a good note and not brush off any of my readings.
  3. Continue going to yoga classes. Yoga is not as popular in North Bay as it is in Ottawa, but I really want to commit to attending as many yoga classes as I can, simply because I love it and it makes me feel amazing.
  4. Call my Nana once a week, I think that one is self-explanatory.
  5. Spend less money on these things:
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    Also self-explanatory. There also isn’t a Starbucks in North Bay so that makes things easier. But man, am I going to miss my iced coffees.
  6. Get back on the meal-prep wagon. I think this one will be easy once I settle into my new schedule and routine. I crave routine. I can’t wait.

I think I will stop at 6. So there ya have it! I hope you all have a great Wednesday!

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Share some of your September goals with me!

People Over Exercise – Your Thoughts?

I hope EVERYBODY had a fabulous past couple days. Happy September – and with the coming of September, fall and school comes a new beginning – a time to start fresh and make new goals. I, myself, am ready for structure, a schedule and the fast-paced and FULL days. However, I am really trying to embrace the last few days of summer and of time with my family and hometown before heading back to school.

Enter my general rule of thumb when I am home for the holidays: people (my family and close friends) come before running/yoga.

Now, this may seem like a terrible excuse or an easy way out. I’ve debated this rule in my head many times over. I realize the importance of making time for yourself, your body and your health, but sometimes, family just has to come first.

I love running. But I love my family more. Running will be there for me as long as I am healthy and able, but my family will be there for me ALWAYS and NO MATTER WHAT.

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(Look at these perfect people! Also can’t wait to run this race again in 41 days!!)

I am only home a few times a year – Thanksgiving, Christmas, in February and for the summer, so quality time with my family and friends here is pretty limited. I really make it a priority to spend time with them whenever THEY are free, even if it completely interferes with my long run or my favourite yoga class – which both happened this past week!

In the end, running makes me physically fit and happy, but my loved ones keep me sane. Keeping a healthy relationship with them is just as important – maybe even more important – than a healthy running relationship.

Call it an excuse, but I have 2 more days left until my move back to school, and I am spending every last second with my family until I have to leave them for 5 weeks. Family over everything.

So yeah – I missed my long run. I missed a few strength training sessions and yoga classes. But missing a long run doesn’t make me any less of a person luckily;)

Now, this training session hasn’t gone exactly the way I have wanted it to. I have missed a ton of runs and haven’t pushed myself the way I should be. I have seriously contemplated not racing on October 11 or moving down to the 10km distance. But, whether I have worked hard enough to break the 2:00 hour mark or not, I am trained and physically ready for another half. I can totally run another half. If I break 2:00 hours, AMAZING. If not, we will try again next time. I love running and I love the half marathon distance – the time and my pace are just numbers.

Lo and behold my deep post of the week. I hope I didn’t bore you to death and I hope you can somehow relate:)

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Workout Recap August 24 – 30
Monday: Upper body workout + 1h power yoga
Tuesday: Full body workout + 6km fast pace (I considered this my speed workout)
Wednesday: 10km moderate pace + 1h yin yoga
Thursday: Off
Friday: 6km at easy pace + 1h power yoga
Saturday: 1h yoga flow
Sunday: Off

Have a great Tuesday and a great first day of September!

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Do you prioritize anything over running?

Have you ever loosened a grip on a goal you have? Does that make you a less motivated person?

Any extra special goals for September?

THAT Kind of Runner

Hi all and welcome to Thursday! Just a warning, I have absolutely no exciting pictures for you today, so you will have to use your imagination:)

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Here is a scene for you to imagine concerning last night’s run:

I get home from work and throw my bag on the floor. I trudge upstairs and change into my running clothes – tank, shorts (note: I only wear shorts when I do short or speed runs, because chaffing is a SERIOUS thing), socks, watch, iPod and hat. I stomp back down the stairs.

Mom asks, “Grace, how far are you running today?”

“I dunno,” I say grumpily, because all I want to do is lay on my bed. And eat. And sleep.

But instead, I head out the door with no real plan, mostly expecting to run 2.5km out and then run home for a total of 5km but with the looming shadow of what my training plan really says: 60 minutes at moderate speed.

I start off slow. And then I start to feel great. Then I speed up, and I start to feel even better than great. “Defying Gravity” from Wicked the Musical comes on my iPod and I feel like I’m flying.

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(Thanks Pinterest! To see the entire picture, follow me on Pinterest and read my Running Board!)

I decide to run through my favourite part of the city: Westboro Village. It is a downtown-esque neighbourhood not too far from my own with cute little shops, delicious cafes and restaurants that let off such amazing smells that my stomach growled multiple times passing through.

The weather was cool (23oC, but it felt so much cooler compared to the 40oC we had the past couple weeks) and there was a light drizzle of rain. On this run I saw: a dog shaved like Chewbacca, a hiring sign in our favourite gelato restaurant (Hope, hint hint), three running groups, tons of smiling passer-by’s, plants growing out of puddles, 2 new restaurants I really want to try, 4 new cafes I really want to try, a Barre studio I never knew existed and need to try, cute couples carrying groceries home together and my dream contemporary-style condo.

It was not necessarily a fast run, but it was a good run. I ended up running 10km in 56 minutes, which is a 5:36/km pace and right on goal pace. I never understood how runners could “accidentally” run a longer distance than they intended, but last night I did. Last night I realized I must really be THAT kind of runner – somebody I never imagined I would become (and I don’t hate it). 

And the funniest thing was, it was the first time that I actually thought: hey, I think I really want to run marathon. 

When I got home I foam rolled like CRAZY because my IT Band was super extra tight and there is no way I am going to deal with ITBS again. Heck no.

Later that night my mom and I hit up our favourite yin yoga class and I felt AMAZING afterwards . Yin is so great after a hard workout because it deeply stretches everything and then relaxes your entire body. Really. I felt like I had just gotten a massage.

Ironically, I felt so great after the 10km/yoga pairing that I was chock-full of endorphins and couldn’t fall asleep for two hours. And that’s the way that the world goes ’round.

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Have you ever had an experience that really made you feel like a runner?

How do you get your butt out the door on days you REALLY don’t want to?

Reality Check Wednesday & Workout Recap Thus Far

Hello all (again?) and welcome to my Reality Check Wednesday! As always, thanks to Teresa for hosting:)

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I woke up late this morning, and since I prioritize breakfast over hygiene, a shower did not happen tho morning. So I am rocking this cute little bow in my ponytail today. I promise I’m 21 and not 12:)

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Today is my last Wednesday of work so I just had to continue the coffee tradition. There’s something about the middle of the week that just screams COFFEE (with caramel and a Lara Bar)!

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I will admit that I still do not know how to properly cut an avocado. I slice it vertically down the middle, remove the pit and squeeze the avocado out of the peel. I know there is a more efficient way but I have yet to find it.

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I had a really delicious lunch today. Mixed bean salad (3 bean mixture, corn, chopped tomatoes and green onions, olive oil and Smokey BBQ seasoning) with avocado. I ended up mixing it all together and eating it on corn tortilla chips like salsa. Delicious and super filling.

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Oh yes, and the best green stuff Starbucks has to offer.

Not pictured: the 35$ I spent getting pictures of the kids I nanny for printed out. I have three more days left with these kiddos and thought they might like some pictures to remember the summer by. I just didn’t think it would cost me quite so much!

Like I said, my reality is not usually all that exciting – but I guess that’s what makes it REAL. The rest of my Wednesday will include a long drive home in rush hour, a speed workout (or maybe a moderate run instead), school supply shopping with my dad (because I am a broke student who still needs her dad to buy her highlighters and pens) and a yin class with my mom later tonight.

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Workout Recap

Since my posts have been pretty sporadic and all over the place this week, I thought I would do a quick recap of my workouts so far this week. I decided to push myself to include more strength training (at home) to really kick my training into gear. I am convinced that the strength training I did all winter and spring last year was the reason I was able to attain a half marathon PR by 13 minutes at the beginning of the summer, so I figure a little more strength training will hopefully push me under 2:00 hours on October 11!

Monday
1. A rest day from running
2. An upper body workout consisting of (all exercises done for 3 sets):
-15 pushups
-15 tricep dips
-15 pike pushups
-15 bent over reverse row
-20 bicep curls (per arm)
-20 tricep extensions (per arm)
-10 dolphin pushups
-30 sec. plank
3. Power Yoga class

Needless to say, my arms are still sore today.

Tuesday
1. Full Body workout including (again, I did 3 sets of each):
-10 single leg deadliest (no weight) per leg
-10 side plank with knee to chest per side
-40 mountain climbers
-10 forward lunges per leg
-10 clamshells per leg
-10 donkey kicks per leg
-10 single leg squats
-30 sec. plank

2. 6km run with Terry. I am not 100% sure where in my scheduled runs this run fits, but Terry wanted to run, so I jumped at the opportunity to 1. Spend quality time with my love and 2. Not run alone! We ended up finishing this run pretty quickly: it took us only 28 minutes which is an average pace of 4:49/km and a pretty unheard of pace for me. But Terry is an incredible athlete and although he doesn’t love to run, he is an AMAZING runner and really pushes me. My legs were fried by the end but I wasn’t as winded as I thought I would be. I was so surprised by our pace and felt pretty darn proud for the rest of the night.

Today calls for a speed workout, but I think I will trade it in for a longer, steadier run due to my unexpected speed last night!

Happy Wednesday to all!

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What is something “real” that happened to you today?

Any tips for how to properly slice an avocado?

If you are in training mode, do you ever stray from your plan for an unplanned run?

Tuesday Intros & 7 Things That Brought Me Joy

Note: I actually wrote this post on Tuesday (since it is Tuesday’s post!) and somehow managed to click “save draft” instead of “post” (does this happen to anybody else ever?!). So for the past 24+ hours I have been wallowing around in self-pity because I was convinced everybody hated my post, my writing, my blog and that I should stop blogging all together… And then I realized my Tuesday post was never actually posted:) Would you look at that! So, I have two posts for you today! Enjoy!!

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I recently stumbled across Tara’s blog – Running ‘n’ Reading and fell in love. A running/reading blog?! How could there possibly be anything better?! Through her blog, I stumbled across Diane’s blog Bibliophile By The Sea (and fell in love again) and learned that she hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros. Every Tuesday, she posts the first paragraph of a book she is reading or thinking about reading. I decided to jump on the bandwagon because I am also a huge bookworm.

Thanks for hosting, Diane! You rock! (And thanks to Tara for passing the idea along:)

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I am currently rereading Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult (because God-forbid I read a new book I’m dying to read or start on my long list of school readings for this year). Jodi is my number 1 favourite author. I have read all of her books and am slowly making my way through them again. Leaving Time is currently my favourite book by her, but I just finished it last fall so it’s still pretty fresh in my mind. Change of Heart has been a long-time favourite so I thought I’d dive in before I got weighted down by all the mandatory school readings.

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Here is the first paragraph:

“Shay Bourne was nothing like I expected. I had prepared myself for a hulking brute of a man, one with hammy fists and no neck and eyes narrowed into slits. This was, after all, the crime of the century – a double murder that had captured the attention of people from Nashua to Dixville Notch; a crime that seemed all the worse because of its victims: a little girl, and a police officer who happened to be her stepfather. It was the kind of crime that made you wonder if you were safe in your own house, if the people you trusted could turn on you at any moment – and maybe because of this, New Hampshire prosecutors sought the death penalty for the first time in fifty-eight years” (Picoult 4).

So… would you continue to read?

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Yesterday was Monday and no matter how hard we all try, we can never seem to shake the injustice that is the first day of the week. But in my pursuit for more optimism in all that I do, I really try to highlight and focus on the little (and big!) joys of each and EVERY day, even if it means writing them down to really see and appreciate them. I think this is an important exercise that we could all get used to doing. It only takes moments, but it could drastically improve your mood and perspective.

So here are 8 little things that made me smile on Monday:

  1. Starting work later in the day, so I had time to eat breakfast, drink coffee and do all things blog before work.

2. Starting Lena Dunham’s (audio)book Not That Kind of Girl on my drive in to (and drive home from) work. She is such a cool woman.

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3. Going to yoga and talking with the studio owners who were genuinely concerned with the fact that I have been to significantly less classes lately. I explained my annoying cold, and they assured me that I was far from annoying:)

4. Learning two new arm balances in this yoga class.

5. Hope got all things tea for her birthday (including the coolest steeper ever)  and had this cup of peach mango tea waiting for me when I got home. Best sister ever award goes to…

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6. Going to a random bar with Terry afterwards and having life talks over beers. Nothing in the world compares to moments like these.

7. Finding this song. I know I am so behind on the music times, but every time I hear this song on the radio, I can’t help but dance and smile. I never knew what it was called (and thought Lorde sang it) so I could never find it. Until today:)

8. This video. Ikea puns. I died. SO funny.

I hope all of you were able to find some joy in your Monday:)

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What are you reading right now? Any Jodi fans out there?

What is your favourite song right now?

What is something that made you smile on Monday? Or today?