Full Circle

photo (1)When a new year starts, people often make resolutions or bucket lists. I’ve never really participated in this tradition. I’ve been fortunate to have the kind of family that has always pushed me forward and encouraged me to life my life with my heart. My life has lots of up and downs just like anyone else but I’m especially grateful for the amazing amount of ups I get to experience in my life. 

This year has been a huge learning year for me. With the help of my family, coach and mentors, I found myself, and she wasn’t that far away. Myself was just always busy doing something for someone else, too busy to do stuff for me. Myself couldn’t take a day off from anything! Myself was hurt, broken and denied needing the time to heal. 

I found myself when I was ready to stop looking. I started to care less about the miles and more about the moment. Moments like when I realized I enjoyed being alone for 4 hours on a bike, because finally myself was doing something just for me. Taking rest stops in coffee shops with perfect strangers, making friends from Toronto to Hamilton, along the way. 

The moments I got to spend with my dog, just the two us on the water. Myself trying to learn how to surf on my Stand Up Paddle board. Challenging myself in a way that was completely unfamiliar, allowing myself to feel “humble”.

The moment you’re muddy, sweaty and surrounded by some of the best friends you have ever had and that happy moment was effortless.

The best moment, when myself felt confident, strong and healed to face her coach and her team after a long and withdrawn absence. That moment, I knew the journey was complete and the search could end. 

A family member passed away this weekend. He was a great man and I always looked up to him. He lived a full and most importantly, happy life. I always wondered who I got my athletic drive and boundless energy from. Today I remembered a moment with my uncle. Like the pied piper he’d have all the kids chasing behind fascinated by one of his many stories. He would walk with us every night, teaching us how to speak Czech, do math or play sports. I was in awe of him. He never stopped moving, thinking or learning. He was spiritual, intelligent, funny and handsome. He lived his life with his heart.

The moment on my way home from my first Stand Up Paddle race, with a first place medal around my neck, I turned to my friend and said “I really love my life just the way it is”, the phone rang and my mom was crying. The moment you find out your hero dies. The moment you remember why he was your hero in the first place. The moment the circle closes. 

1535392_10151788553167161_554399129_n

My hero.

Inside Toronto’s Donut Ride

Screen Shot 2014-08-16 at 10.22.40 PM

My first Donut Ride – Rookie Mistake No.1 (keep reading)

The (In)Famous Donut Ride! Most of my adult life I’ve heard about it and honestly the name is kind of misleading. Not knowing a thing, I remember being invited to it years ago. My mind pictured a bunch of “mature” gentlemen riding a few km’s and then stopping at a donut shop then riding a bit more. In all honesty my mind wasn’t that far off, but the “mature” men are kind of fast and the ride starts at what used to be a donut shop finishing with more than a few km’s.

IMG_5200

Two Long Time Donut Riders that I got to meet this weekend. They made me feel better when they told me they did the same rookie mistake I did!

The Donut Ride first happened in the 70’s and started with little more than a handful of riders. Today you can see up to 100 plus riders on a Saturday morning.

It’s no surprise to many people who follow me on Instagram and twitter that I’ve been spending a bit more time on my bike this summer. I’ve not retired from running (like some have asked) and I’m not injured. I was asked by my coach a while ago, “when you were in your best shape, what were you doing that you’re not doing now?” Without blinking, the answer was cycling. His response was, “So why aren’t you doing that?”

photo (8)

My Rumble Drink Kit for my upcoming bike race.

You don’t need to tell a girl who owns three bikes to start using them, more than once. Thankfully for my bank account this summer, no new toys were necessary to adjust my training.

After a few decent training rides, I signed myself up for my first road race. A few weeks ago I realized I’d only been training by myself or with one other rider. I had a small panic attack about the prospect of riding in a large group.

Enter stage left, the Toronto Donut Ride. Donut Ride #1. Last weekend, I showed up at 8:45 am bright eyed and bushy tailed, secretly terrified but also eager to attack this ride. In a few short words, I got my butt kicked.

IMG_4917

This was really the only time I saw the middle of the pack and it wasn’t for long.

Rookie mistake #1. Being afraid of the riding in the pack, you ride up front, taking on the role of “Domestique”. I quickly learned that you have to be a little bigger than 5’5” and 120lbs to be the “Domestique” for 60 riders. Better idea: Stay in the middle to the right side of the pack or closer to the back. Take the warm-up part seriously and use drafting when necessary to ensure you are able to stay with the pack the whole time.

Screen Shot 2014-08-16 at 7.38.38 PM

Staying right in the middle waiting for the sprints.

Rookie mistake #2. There are three routes with this ride. All are fast. One is long (130kmish, very hilly) another is medium (approx 110km – less hilly) and one is shorter (85km even less hilly). There is actually one other really long route but we won’t discuss that one. First timers, don’t go long! I did and I spent the majority of the group ride – alone. Really not sure? Take the short course.

Screen Shot 2014-08-16 at 10.22.10 PM

The Middle distance Route. Doesn’t look too much different from the long ride, but trust me this is plenty of riding for a first time Donut Rider.

Rookie mistake #3. Check your ego at the start of the ride and no matter how long you’ve been on a saddle, there’s always something new to learn about pack riding.

Next up! Donut Ride #2 went 100% better. After feeling just a taste of riding with a pack, I was hooked. If I wanted to spend more time in the pack I had to re-evaluate the rookies mistakes I made the week before.

vlcsnap-00137

Photo Credit: Mark Buckaway. From the back of his seat, capturing me about to get my butt kicked on Donut ride no. 1.

I stayed far away from the front, which gave me time to properly warm up and when the sprints started, I had enough juice to stick with the guys. When the sprints slowed, many of them came by to pat me on the back for hanging in and also share some very important pack riding tips.

This ride has a bad stigma attached to it. Many are intimated by it and after my first time, I didn’t really understand why, after my second time I’m even more baffled. These guys are all ex pros or highly elite riders. Unless you are endangering the rest of the pack, they’re really fun to ride with. They’re happy to help and love sharing everything they can to make it a safe ride for everyone. The last thing they want is to see another rider get seriously hurt and worse, every rider behind that rider.

IMG_5216

I’m the dorky girl who keeps wanting to take selfies. Thankfully the guys didn’t mind.

If you’re thinking of joining the Donut Ride there are few things I would highly recommend:

  • You should be able to comfortably ride avg 35km / hour by yourself. If you get dropped you will have to reach speeds of up to 40 – 45km / hour to try to catch up.
  • Learn the hand signals to communicate with other riders what you are doing and what is happening in front of you. Click here for hand signals 101: http://bitly.com/cyclinghandsignals
  • Work together with the pack and share the work.
  • If you get dropped or flat, no one will stop to help (unlikely) so be prepared to snake your way back home alone and be thankful you hung on at all.
  • Don’t half wheel. It’s dangerous and puts everyone at risk. (I got slapped on the wrist for it once and won’t do it again!)
  • Bring nutrition, hyrdation and a flat kit.

For more information about the Donut Ride go to:
http://www.donutride-toronto.ca/

Also watch GOTLIVE! with The GetOutThere Girls on Monday Aug 17 at 8pm EST. I’ve got highlights from my donut ride and we’ll be interviewing Kevin Lehman, A Donut Ride veteran to learn everything you need to know and why you should join the next one!    http://bitly.com/GOTLIVE9

 

5Peaks Trail Race #4 – Albion Hills A.K.A. Know when to Fold em’

photo 3 (2)

Team Longboat Trail Runners. Starting the day off with my besties!

The latest 5peaks race at Albion Hills was yet another amazing race day. Erin Dasher is such a great race director. She is so laid back yet extremely organized. This particular race I was grateful that she was both!

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 12.16.40 AM

The Albion Hills Route mapped out via Suunto Movescount

To date this was my worst and best race of the series.

Worst:
I was working CanFitPro for Rumble Drink the day before. On my feet all day, dehydrated and just over tired. This is not good for racing the next day. I ate too much food too late Saturday night. Saturday morning, I followed my regular routine, despite knowing I probably didn’t need any more and just needed to drink fluids.

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 12.16.57 AM

They don’t call it Albion Hills for nothing.

My stomach was a mess and my asthma was bad. What was even worse was that in the last three weeks I hadn’t run more than 10km. Staying below 10km to make sure my injured ankle was fully healed.

albion hills

The pain in starting to set in.

1km in my legs felt heavy, 2km in my lungs felt heavy, 3km my stomach felt heavy. I was just over 3km into the enduro course of the race when I had made the decision to cut my losses and end this before it got really bad. When the rest of the enduro crowd went left, I went straight for the finish line. My first sport course race of the series complete.

This is where Erin Dasher was a star. Without even blinking twice, she realized there must be a problem and without making a big deal about it, she announced my finish.

So how was this day the best race of the series? All through the series I have been 2nd or 3rd place. I’ve been perfectly happy with this and I love that I have the 2nd and 3rd place medal.To complete my collection of running jewelry, I only had this race and the next race to get a 1st place finish. To my absolute shock, I finished the sport course in first place. Just out of curiosity, I went back to look at my Suunto results and realized, I actually had a decent race despite my set backs.

photo 3 (1)

The new cool 5Peaks Podium!

The past me would’ve pushed through to the bitter end, because I never quit. Splitting from the Enduro pack was like quitting to me. I was pretty disappointed in myself, but knew I had to check my ego. I had to evaluate the limitations up against me and accept these for what they were. My asthma and stomach weren’t going to make it through 11.4 km of hilly trail. While the rest of my enduro team mates ran around the woods, I got changed and patted myself on the back for knowing when call it a day. I know the day could’ve been much worse, and I was grateful it turned out perfectly awesome.

photo 4

Finally – My 1st place Medal!

 

 

Proudly Canadian PT 2 – Honeymaxx

 

HvDr-Logo-with-tagline-transparent-background

First before I begin. A huge shout out to fellow Honeymaxx Ambassador and amazing young athlete Dominika Jamnicky. She won the female elite GOLD at the ITU Triathlon Pan Am Cup in Toronto on July 12, 2014. CONGRATS!!

10462555_705130172891460_6003612875428849089_n

Dominika Jamnicky winning GOLD

I found Honeymaxx at a race over a year ago. The graphics caught my eye first with their bold claim; “The World’s Only Honey based hydration drink”. After a quick google search, I learned they were telling the truth! Even more curious; a market that is already saturated with sports drinks, why did we need yet another one? The answer was actually a great story.

One of the creators, Mark, found he was allergic to refined sugar and being an athlete and needing a source of energy during his rides he started experimenting with his own sources. After several home made recipes of honey powder he and his best friend Tom realized they had something great to offer everyone, not just athletes.

photo

Honeymaxx in the cage

 

 

This product is great for endurance athletes, diabetics (especially athletes who have diabetes) and kids. After trying it out and filling up my water bottle I was hooked. I was told try it out on my runs and see what I thought. After a couple of weeks I was surprised with the results. I went from the kind of runner who depended heavily on gels to get through my workouts, to being able to go longer without them.  Don’t get me wrong; gels are a convenient product for all endurance athletes. They provide quick burst of energy and electrolytes. The common complaint athletes have with these products is gut rot, GI issues, energy spikes and even bigger energy dips. Some products overload your system with electrolytes and some don’t provide enough.

photo (1)

For the Ladies they have Sports Bras now! Also cycling kits and running shirts.

 

Honeymaxx created a formula that has a sustainable energy source which burns slowly and with only all natural ingredients your GI tract stays in tack. A breakdown on these ingredients is simple. Honey: an energy source. Minerals such as potassium, magnesium calcium and sodium make up the essential electrolytes that you absolutely need to replenish. Ginger is added to help your digestion, and a bit of Stevia to naturally sweeten the whole mix.

honeymax

Two great flavours with more to come!

 

The taste is light and comes in two flavours, lemon lime and orange also in single serve or 500G bags. The product comes in a powder form, which is where the company has had some challenges. Since it’s not a refined sugar and formulated from honey power, it obviously won’t dissolve like a completely sugar based Gatorade power does. If you follow the mixing directions properly and add some patience it does mix very well. There will be some clumping and those clumps will dissolve in your bottle if you let it sit for a few minutes and then re- agitate. Rumours are they’ve found a solution and production may start soon.

images

Single Serve Packets for easy on the go hydration.

Being the kind of gal that leaves everything to the last minute – I fill my bottle half way with water, pour in the power, fill the rest of the bottle with water, and using my Ud Hydrates hand holder, I’m out the door leaving the agitation to happen as I warm up into my run. In fact I’m often happy to see a bit of the Honeymaxx settle to the bottom of my bottle, because as I near the end of my run and find a spot to fill up, I still have a bit of Honeymaxx left over to flavour the newly added water.

Want to try some Honeymaxx for yourself? Are you already a big fan and want to fill up for summer? I have an amazing online SUMMER discount for you!

Just send me an email – michelletherunner@gmail.com or find me on other SM site and DM me. I will gladly share. www.honeymaxx.com is where you will need to shop to use the code.

HvDr-MixingInstructionsBannerNoTitle2

Honeymaxx Mixology

MTR Off-Road Challenge Rules

Join the MTR Off-Road Challenge
July 12-13. Get your race entry codes from me via FB msg, Twitter DM or email.
The Challenge deets:
•You MUST sign up for the 5peaks Rattlesnake point race on Saturday July 12. Code for discount will be provided via Direct Message.
•You MUST also sign up for The Northface Endurance series race on Sunday July 13. Code for discount will be provided via Direct Message.
Note: The special codes I have been given are only for people participating in the Challenge and NOT for single race entries.
•Using Facebook or Twitter (or both) show picture proof your registration for both races. Tag the image on Twitter with @runningchic @5peaks and @thenorthfaceECS
•Everyone who follows those steps will be entered into the Challenge and will be eligible to win one of five prize packs!
•Prizes up for grabs: (and this is just a sneak peek!)
1 pair of Mizuno Kazan trail shoes
Bags of Sportssuds
Bags of Honeymaxx and water bottles
Cases of Rumble Drink
Rolls of KTTAPE + KTTAPE Spray Adhesive
Preferred Nutrition Magsense powder (amazing for recovery)
Barefooters recovery shoe
Barefooters Flip flop
25% code for entry at the WI and UT ECS race in 2014
A free entry to any ECS race in 2014
SISU clothing tshirts and water bottles
Boxes of KIND bars
 4 $50 gift certificates to Salomon Running Store
Go the distance and challenge yourself this July 12-13! 2 races, 2 days, 1 amazing weekend! The MTR Off-Road Challenge has officially kicked off! I promise you will have an amazing experience and the memories will last a lifetime.
Message me if you have any questions otherwise I’m looking forward to seeing you on the trails!

The MTR Off-Road Challenge July 12-13

salomon store

The Salomon trail team. Everyone here has a great story to tell!

Inspired by the Salomon trail team during the solstice run last week, I had an “ah ha” moment. Having so much fun running the 5peaks series this summer and knowing how much fun the Northface ECS races are, I have been so torn about which one to do. With the help of some great friends, we came to the conclusion – why the heck choose just one when you can do both?
Then the hamster that lives in my head started spinning the wheel. This is a perfect challenge and I should encourage others to challenge themselves as well.
So many great people I know are doing amazing challenges this year.  Everyday these people inspire me to be the best person I can be. Here are just a couple of examples;
darwinian fail

Beautiful and Determined. She never Quits. #perserverance is her Hashtag.

1. Krysten Bishop – A.K.A Darwinianfail is going the distance this year and challenging herself to do her first half Ironman.
Visit www.darwinianfail.com and find out why her story is so amazing. Her journey to get to Muskoka this fall hasn’t been easy. She is definitely the most determined woman I’ve ever met.
rhonda marie

Rhonda is the Star of an amazing life. She has reminded us all, with or without a disability you can accomplish anything if you really want it. #determination is her hashtag.

2. Rhonda-Marie Avery. She is a legally blind runner who is taking on the challenge of running the Bruce Trail from the beginning to end – 885km, 20 days with 8% vision. If that doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will.
Go to www.8percentnolimit.com and watch the trailer for the documentary being made. You can also visit her fundraising page here;
jean paul bedard

Guts to bring awareness to a topic that needs so much attention. He took his passion and put it to good use. #resilience is his hashtag

3.Jean-Paul Bedard. A recovery addict who is also a victim of child abuse is raising awareness for the cause one mile at time!  This past April he ran a “Double Boston”. Starting in the wee hours of the morning he ran from the finish line to the start and then turned around went back with the rest of the 27,000 runners to the finish line again. Check out his fundraising page http://bitly.com/tohellandbackor you can follow his amazing journey on his blog www.breathethroughthis.com
This is by no means a complete list – it could go on forever, believe me – but these three are particularly special to me.
sisu-emilialahti-com
All three of these inspiring people embody one word that is dear to my heart. I repeat it to myself constantly when the road ahead looks a little rocky -“SISU”. It’s the Finnish word that represents endurance, resilience, tenacity, determination and perseverance. I think you would all agree the above three have SISU coming out of their ears! They’re incredible.
With all of that said, this is what I want you guys to do. I want you all to dig deep and find your SISU.  Join the MTR Off-Road Challenge 
July 12-13.
The Challenge deets:
•You MUST sign up for the 5peaks Rattlesnake point race on Saturday July 12. Code for discount will be provided via Direct Message.
•You MUST also sign up for The Northface Endurance series race on Sunday July 13. Code for discount will be provided via Direct Message.
Note: The special codes I have been given are only for people participating in the Challenge and NOT for single race entries.
•Using Facebook or Twitter (or both) show picture proof your registration for both races. Tag the image on Twitter with @runningchic @5peaks and @thenorthfaceECS
•Everyone who follows those steps will be entered into the Challenge and will be eligible to win one of five prize packs!
•Prizes up for grabs: (and this is just a sneak peek!)
1 pair of Mizuno Kazan trail shoes
Bags of Sportssuds
Bags of Honeymaxx and water bottles
Cases of Rumble Drink
Rolls of KTTAPE + KTTAPE Spray Adhesive
Preferred Nutrition Magsense powder (amazing for recovery)
Barefooters recovery shoe
Barefooters Flip flop
25% code for entry at the WI and UT ECS race in 2014
A free entry to any ECS race in 2014
SISU clothing tshirts and water bottles
Boxes of KIND bars
There are still some unconfirmed prizes that are equally amazing and will be divided into the prize packs.
Hint: It’s a major trail running chain!
Go the distance and challenge yourself this July 12-13! 2 races, 2 days, 1 amazing weekend! The MTR Off-Road Challenge has officially kicked off! I promise you will have an amazing experience and the memories will last a lifetime.
Message me if you have any questions otherwise I’m looking forward to seeing you on the trails!
photo (7)

You might get caught in my trail selfies!

Summer Solstice on the Trails

 

It’s officially summer folks and I celebrated with all of my friends at 5peaks Trail race in Heart Lake!

photo 2 (2)

@waterlillyto and @cnaumann4 my friends in real life and on twitter. Follow them!!

Summer Solstice is a special day. I’ve celebrated this day in many ways in some very cool places. Spending summer solstice in Sweden was probably my most memorable solstice. Until yesterday! I work up at the crack of dawn to pick up my friends Clare and Peader. We headed to the second 5Peaks race of the Ontario series.

photo 5 (1)

The Three Amigos – Me, Peadar and Clare

I got to see some friends I used to train with, friends I haven’t seen in a very long time and even made a few new ones!

10355668_10154266756245635_3195577805845412181_o

I have spent many hours with these people! Love all of them!

This race was a little more flat which made for some faster splits through some soft gorgeous trails. There was also quite a bit of log jumping so I had to invite my glutes to this party.

up the hill

Flat and smooth

I liked this course because it allowed for a few more cheer sections right in the places you needed a little boost.

Erin Dasher, the race director, did another great job and as always continued to challenge the runners to give everyone a chance to win awesome prizes. The shoe toss is so much fun, I would sign up for this race just for that!

 

shoe toss

The Famous Shoe Toss

Once everyone got their podium moment and the crowd started to thin, Peader, Clare and me jumped in my car and headed for the Salomon Toronto Summer Solstice Run.

podium

My podium moment! 2nd place

Showing up just in time for lap number 7, we hit the trails in Sunnybrook Park with some of my favourite Toronto trail runners. Brian Culprit, Sam, Joshua, Fred and Lucy are just a few that I have run with in the past. I got to catch up with one of my favourite runners Ryan Barrett and his wife.  Ryan started this Salomon solstice run project and due to a serious injury he was not able to participate. Sad he couldn’t run, but so happy to see the spirit and support he still has for the sport of trail running. He was there all day cheering on the runners on every lap. I got to run with Ryan on a winter solstice run, where I first met him. Ryan is one of nicest people I’ve met. He is not only a gifted runner but is also a super talented artist. Go to Artverb.com to check out this stuff!

10368237_774019505963238_6326901345481848943_n

Lap 7! Here we Go!

Brian Culprit has been giving Toronto trail runners more trails than ever to run in Sunnybrook (thank you so much for you efforts Brian). Brian is also one of those runners you just want to run beside because without speaking any words you are learning so much. He has a Zen quality about him. I felt privileged to spend some time on his turf beside him.

photo 1 (2)

Brian – the leader of this pack!

After some refuelling with some electrolytes and anything we could find to put into our stomachs, we headed out for lap 8.  Once again Brian showed us another beautiful trail. Another lap meant another friendship was forged!Victory lap was the best lap. It was short and sweet and we got to be there for the closing of yet another amazing solstice run with a great group of supporters.

10441413_707759419291084_6538974546151495915_n

The gangs all here! Ryan in the bright yellow shoes on the right!

Sweaty, tired, swollen, smelly, hungry, thirsty but happy the sun was setting; we high-fived, hugged, kissed and greeted the new season together.

10405270_774014329297089_3243864363786388112_n

Scott Burger – the best hugs ever!

One day, two trails events and my best friends made June 21, 2014, my happiest summer solstice so far.

jumping

Happy Summer everyone!