Throwback Thursday Giveaway: FREE canfitpro expo pass

Ambassador_stamp (3)

Disclaimer: This post has been written as a part of the canfitpro world fitness expo Ambassador Program. This year’s expo take place Aug 12-16 2015 in Toronto.

xYQ2MdWw4ARknRsYe1h0NTXRp9CQHl_99uR7U7G5bkU

Every morning the expo opens with a huge open fitness class.

For many years I’ve attended the canfitpro expo event. It’s definitely evolved and every year this event gets bigger and way better. As a former CanFitPro certified personal trainer, I liked using the weekend events to upgrade my certification and attend the free classes available. I always left the expo with a renewed sense of excitement about my own fitness.

bx-HqwpVx0MQNOCr1JuEt4ci1_sLTwpw1zKCXHBHEGg

canfitpro offers a great experience for both the fitness enthusiasts and the highest level certified trainers. My favourite class I ever took was this amazing meditation yoga class. After a hectic day at the expo, a yoga class was exactly what I needed. The instructor was one of the best I’ve ever had and not someone I would otherwise have access to. In a one-hour session, I couldn’t believe she could get me to settle my mind and actually go deep into relaxation. It was gentle and challenging at the same time. I learned a lot about my own practice and was able to take away what I learned to teach to my own classes.

3ODDiAD9Ip--BSRZ3WdVj-oFMeEEA5R44pH2j-XoT8s

The education component of this event is the very reason I’ve come to love the Canfitpro expo each and every year. I’ve been a personal trainer, I’m a certified yoga instructor and I’m a run coach, so thanks to Canfitpro’s expo, I’ve always found a class to spice up my own training routine as well as add to my how I coach others. This year the expo will offer over 400 sessions of cutting-edge fitness education in personal training, group fitness, mind-body, nutrition, active ageing, club business, and so many more. Check out the website for a full of what you can sign up for. http://www.canfitpro.com/sessions-expo

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 11.41.55 PM

The expo itself is well organized and laid out so you get to experience all of it. There isn’t much you can’t find, from fitness equipment, to nutritional supplements and even the latest fashions in fitness. You can sample all your favourite brands health foods, and try out the brands that are new to the market. Bring an extra big backpack because you’re going to want to pick up a few things, since the expo sales are amazing. Many of my favourite brands attend and sample their latest and greatest products. My favourite brand, Rumble Drink will be sampling their brand new Coffee flavoured Supershake. Yes, you read correct, Rumble Drink haa added Coffee Bean to the market and it’s sure to be a showstopper at the canfitpro expo.

unnamed-11

Dutch Cocoa and Coffee bean will be the featured flavours at this years expo.

Here’s the best part! As a canfitpro ambassador I’m allowed to give away one expo entry (worth $388.00). All you have to do is comment on this post and tell me which class you would LOVE to take. Don’t miss out, this years expo takes place this year Aug 12-16 in Toronto. 

For bonus points follow canfitpro on instragram and/or twitter and remember to use the hashtag #worldfitnessexpo on your posts. The contest will run for one week and the winner will be randomly selected and contacted next Thursday.

Motivation Monday: My Dream Week

IMG_0854

I’m over flowing with motivation after an exciting and eventful week of watching and meeting so many great athletes. The inspiration of watching them conquer fears, push their limits and learn from failure left me with so many lessons about life and sports.

11229712_10155889813375243_5033482106962452034_o

Speaking with an American trainer while waiting for the men’s marathon to finish, she said to me, “it takes more courage to lose than to win.” I’d never thought of it quite like that but she was right. When you lose you get the tough questions, like “what happened out there?” “What went wrong?” While the winners get the easy ones. “What was it like to win gold?” I’m sure it’s safe to say even if none of us have come close to a gold medal in anything, that winning such an achievement would be mind blowing awesome.

IMG_7946

I got to learn a lot about other disciplines both by seeing it up close and by talking to the athletes behind the scenes. Race walking was definitely on the top of the list of my favourite PanAm events to watch. On Sunday I met up with a group of them after the 50km race and we had a great off the record and on the record conversation about the sport, the politics and how they train.

11807685_10155892056385243_5824022101018011201_o

All the PanAm athletes have strong relationships with their coaches and teammates. Having confidence in the coach’s instructions and developing that relationship is also a big part of achieving the best results for athletes of all levels. Often times, runners do too much instead of not enough. A wise friend shared with me his take on how athletes can loose focus. He said, “Athletes think they are trees, and that if you constantly feed it with water and sunshine it will grow faster, when in fact you’re killing it.” This was something I’ve learned a great deal about over the last few years and particularly with my current coach. Less can be more.

PIC8

Personally this week left me with a sense of confidence in my own weeks ahead. Often, I heard the phrases “I had faith in my coach, I had faith in my training, I knew I was ready for this.” Sentiments, I have had for two weeks now, as I’ve reached the peak. I started the week in a state I’ve never experienced.

IMG_0743

Broken is the only word I can use to describe it. I’ve trained for many things in my life, but I’ve never felt this feeling. I was frail, but strong. I was tired, but had energy. My legs were lead, but fast. I had two speeds, turtle and rabbit and nothing in between. Wesley Korir said when he came to Toronto this summer. “To be the best, an athlete has to get to so injured, so tired and so broken.” As I trained and watched the PanAm games, this sentence swirled around in my head. I had seen it all, injuries, exhaustion and completely broken athletes.

IMG_0722

Many athletes reiterated this week. “You don’t have to be the best.” “Have fun, don’t get too serious.” “Enjoy the ride.” “Don’t be afraid to try something new.” All these rang true for me. You can’t wish for personal bests, you can’t will a gold medal and you definitely can’t take short cuts. You can only put in the hard work, the blood, sweat and tears and have faith in the process.

11731950_10155888587680243_2232776369997705705_o

2015 PanAm Games: Kip’s Dream Come True

2015_pan_american_games_logo-svg

I got up early Saturday morning to see the Men’s marathon in particular to see one of my favourite runners, Rob Watson. I decided I would start my cheering in High Park on the hills. Having run centre road many times, I had compassion for what they were up against with the weather working against them. In fact Kip was quick to mention how tough the course was. “Those hills get the best of you, going up those hills 4 times is not fun.” Not fun is not exactly how I would describe centre road, I would definitely have a few more expletives if I was interviewed.

pic 1

There was a great field of racers on Saturday and there was the opportunity for a really great Canadian story. Kip Kangogo has only been a citizen of Canada since April 4th. He was born and raised in Kenya, and has since lived in Lethbridge, Albert since 2001. Watching the first two laps of the race and seeing Kip looking so strong in 4th place, I wanted him to win, everyone in High Park wanted him to win. He wanted it the most though, ”I wanted something spectacular.”

pic 2

Rob Watson, one of the bigger guys in the field, was soaking wet going into lap two. He didn’t look comfortable, but he’s definitely a fan favourite and the spectators erupted when he showed up. “No matter how much my legs were hurting, it was uplifting and really cool [hearing everyone cheer]. I appreciated that, they knew I wasn’t having a good day and they didn’t care. They were just there to support me.” Rob said, commenting particularly about the crowds in High Park.

pic 2.5

The women last weekend talked about the challenging marathon course, and the men had to face those same challenges on Saturday. “The course is challenging but it was challenging for everyone, the hills are gnarly. Going up hills stung coming down pounded.” Watson saying what the rest of the field was feeling.

pic 3

The fastest man in the field and the favourite to win, Pacheco from Peru, led for much of the race. To everyone’s surprise, Cuban, Perez kicked in the last 400M stretch and took the win in a time of 2:17:04. The great Canadian story didn’t happen, but instead what unfolded was an amazing Cuban PanAm games story. Perez is virtually an unknown on the marathon circuit, but Saturday he definitely put himself on the map with his personal best performance.

pic 5

Kip held onto the leader for most of the race, “I was with them in the front and feeling good then after 30km I started losing ground, the heat got the best of me.” Commenting on his 9th place finish.

pic 5

His spirits were bruised but definitely not broken. “I made a promise I wanted to run for Canada one day, and that day was today so my dream was fulfilled. i ware the Canadian flag with pride and I ran with pride for as long as I could and I just fell short.” Kip replied.

pic 6

I was most impressed with both Kip and Watson’s team spirit. Watson is, in my opinion a very unique athlete. He’s quirky, funny yet very humble and inspiring. I knew it wasn’t my day, there were so many people out here, they woke up early to come support me run, it would been a dick move to drop out.” He told me when I asked if he thought about quitting at any point. He added, “[the marathon is] an individual event but we are part of a team, part of the marathon team, part of the Athletics Canada team and just part of Team Canada.

Up next for this team? Watson is hoping to get his Olympic qualifying time in Chicago, while Kip takes some recovery and plans out where he needs to focus his race efforts.

Watson with the best quotes of the PanAm games gave me one more for the record. “It was a tough day at the office but its one I will remember for a long time.”

pic 7

#FANGIRL alert!

2015 PanAm Games: Sifuentes Finally gets her Moment.

2015_pan_american_games_logo-svg

The women’s 1500M event being one of the last middle distance races for the women of the PanAm games started had the crowds erupting. With two very strong Canadian contenders for medals, both with the fastest personal best and season best times, you would’ve thought a win was going to be a walk in the park.

pic1

The competition proved a little better than expected. The girls went out and from the start of the gun, not seeming to want to work together. Instead taking a single formation strategy for much of the race. Coneo and American McGee took the lead for the first half of the race, leaving Sifuentes and Gollish in 3rd and 4th. The race strategy Coneo started to execute was exactly the strategy Sifuentes was hoping to do. She later told us “I was surprised by her, she did what I was planning to do”

pic 2

Both going out with the same tactic, made for a very exciting finish, in fact made for almost a photo finish. If you blinked you wouldn’t have known who won, until it was announced. “There was nothing more I could’ve done.” Said Sifuentes, “I did my very best, she was just did better today”

pic 3

Track Carnage

I was so focused on the race that I totally forgot to pick up my camera and flash a picture. It was clear Coneo from Columbia had taken gold with a personal best of 4:09:05 But honestly only by a shoulder, it was that close. “When the other girl approached me at the 200s I said ‘this is do or die’, said Coneo, “… in my mind I was thinking ‘I need to pass her no matter what’. Then I closed my eyes and said to myself  ‘oh God please this is mine’ and that’s when I gave my extra.”

pic 6

Gollish crossed the finish line with Bronze, taking over McGee in the bell lap. Gollish has run better times, but having a shoe malfunction, she ran th majority of the race with one shoe half off of her foot. She demonstrated a never quit attitude at her first ever PanAm games.

As Sifuentes talked to us after the race, she was in near tears of joy, happy to be able to actually get to stand on the podium for the first time. Even though she had gotten bronze at World indoor championships in Poland, running a Canadian record of 4:07.61.

It was a medal promotion, since it was later discovered third place was disqualified. The disqualified athlete got to experience Sifuentes medal and podium moment. Today Sifuentes didn’t get promoted; she earned every second of her silver medal. “I’ve never held the Canadian flag before, so this is going to be really special,” she said through tears.

pic 5

Beautiful and Strong – Sifuentes is a GOLD by me!

2015 PanAm Games: Now for Some Cycling News.

Another great post from my guest cycling blogger: Steve Shikaze. A village people, it takes a village. Thanks to Steve for all his help as I cover athletics and he helps out with Cycling. Team work at it’s best.

2015_pan_american_games_logo-svg

I started cycling seriously in the 1990s when I got my first mountain bike.  A decade later, I joined the Waterloo Cycling Club and started road riding, and in the years since, I’ve since bought a Cyclocross bike for gravel grinder rides (and quite possibly a fat bike in the very near future!).  I consider myself a well-rounded cyclist, with experience in several disciplines.  One event that I’d never experience before, either as a cyclist or a spectator, is track cycling.

pic 1

I was fortunate enough to get tickets from a friend (thanks Tecia) for track races at the velodrome in Milton last Saturday evening.  I had no idea what to expect when I arrived, but upon entering the velodrome, I was impressed.  It had the feeling of entering a hockey arena.  Athletes warmed up in the middle of the track, while others rode at an easy pace around the wood track.  There didn’t seem to be a lot of seats for spectators, but they were mostly filled by the time the racing started.  And with a number of Canadians in the races, the crowd was certainly big enough to make some noise!

I checked the schedule of events and I saw that I’d be watching the quarter-finals for the Women’s Sprint, the first round of the Men’s Team Pursuit, the Elimination race of the Women’s Omnium, and the finals of the Men’s Sprint.  Canada had strong medal candidates in all of these events.

The sprint event is very exciting.  Riders start very slowly (it’s like watching a slow bicycle race where the slowest rider wins).  This continues for the first lap.  The second lap gradually picks up the pace and by the third lap, the athletes are moving at top speed (at speeds around 60 km/h!).  In the Women’s Sprint, Canada had two athletes, Monique Sullivan and Kate O’Brien.  Both won their quarter final matches by winning their first two races.   They’d be moving on to the semi-finals and finals the next day (Note: Sullivan won gold and O’Brien won silver!).

pic 2

In the men’s Team Pursuit, each team starts with 4 riders, and is matched up against another country, which starts at the opposite side of the track.  The race is 4000 metres (or 16 laps).  Canada had a strong team of Adam Jamieson, Eric Johnstone, Sean Mackinnon and Remi Pelletier and was matched up against the team from Argentina.  I watched this event with excitement and the two teams were very closely matched.  However, with just a few laps remaining, one Canadian dropped off, leaving the team with three riders.  This is common because the final time for the team is taken when the third rider crosses the finish line, so a team only needs 3 riders to finish.  Right after the 4th rider dropped off, another rider did the same, not realizing another rider was already off the back.  Once they figured it out, the first two riders had a gap.  This resulted in a mad scramble to get the third rider back up to speed.  There were some tense moments before fans learned that Canada qualified in 4th place behind Columbia, Argentina and Venezuela. This meant that Canada would be riding against Venezuela for the bronze medal the following day (Note: Canada won bronze!)

pic 3

The Omnium event involves six different races.  In the Women’s Omnium, two events were held earlier in the day (scratch race and individual pursuit), and the Elimination race was held in the evening.  After the first two events earlier in the day, Canadian Jasmine Glaesser sat in third place out of 12 riders.  In Elimination, all 12 riders line up and start together.  Once they get going, the last rider to cross the line at the end of every second lap is pulled from the race.   This race kept building in excitement as Jasmine was able to stay near the front and avoid elimination.  The race came down to the final two riders, Glaesser and favourite Sarah Hammer from the USA.  As the two crossed the line, it was so close, no one, not even the two athletes knew who won.  After 5-10 minutes of deliberation, the judges declared the race a tie!  This would move the Canadian up to second place, where she would stay through the final three events on the following day to capture the silver medal.  (Note: Jasmine Glaesser picked up another silver medal in the Cycling Road Time Trial a few days later!)

pic 4

The only medal event that night was the Men’s Sprint final.  Canadian Hugo Barrette would be racing against Njisane Phillip from Trinidad and Tobago.  As in the Women’s Sprint, the first couple of laps started slowly before a frenzied third lap.  Barrette showed amazing speed and beat Phillip in the first two races to win Gold.

pic 5

This was the third gold medal that I have seen Canada win at these games (the other two being in the mountain bike races).   I must be good luck!

pic 6

pic 7

Bio:  Steve Shikaze
Steve has been an active member of the Waterloo Cycling Club (www.waterloocyclingclub.ca) for over a decade.  He currently sits as a member of the WCC Trail Committee, which oversees the mountain bike trails at The Hydrocut (www.thehydrocut.ca).  He has completed multiple 8 and 24 hour mountain bike relay races, 3-day stage races and many other cycling events, on his mountain, road and cyclocross bikes, and has dabbled in trail running and open-water swimming.

2015 PanAm Games: Brannen’s bittersweet Silver

2015_pan_american_games_logo-svg

The PanAm games are winding down, however the crowds keep getting bigger and louder. Last night the men ran the 1500M event. Again with a little help from my friends, Ida was in a great position to get some excellent photos and video. It takes a village to be an on the run reporter, literally!

Brannen an accomplished track runner went out hoping for gold. The first couple of laps the announcer kept referring to the speed as pedestrian pace. For this pedestrian, it was still pretty quick. The men were not taking any risks, staying tightly packed together.

1500_1

Photo Credit: Ida Valentina

In fact it started to get a little too tight for Brannen who ended up where no track athlete wants to be. Stuck on the inside lane, better referred to as being boxed in. Watching him go around, he was working hard to get out of his position and into a better spot where he could stay in medal contention. He later told the press, “It’s bittersweet, I think I could’ve won it if I was in a better position.”

1500M_2

This is what being boxed in looks like. Photo Credit: Ida Valentina

With two laps left he took a bit of a surge and as they rounded down into the bell lap the chase was on. Wheating and Brannen kicked the last 100M fighting for gold. With just metres to go Brannen got out kicked, but up against Wheating he showed true grit. With Wheating’s ridiculously long legs, It would take so much effort to catch up with his stride. American runner Wheating took the race in 3:41.41.

1500M_3

Photo Credit: Ida Valentina

From my vantage point I could see Brannen was determined. His all or nothing attitude showed at this race today. Brannen has recently come off an Achilles injury and has had to be patience with his training. “I missed 5months with an Achilles tear in the fall” he said, “3:35 is an indicator that I’m getting there but by no means am I 100%.”

Evident in the 1500M race He’s still missing a bit of that top end speed, but he seems pretty confident that in the next couple of weeks he’ll get there.

1500M_4

Photo Credit: Ida Valentina

I asked him how he deals with race day nerves and what goes through his head waiting for the gun to go off. He surprised me with his answer. “The same thing that a couch to 5km on their first ever 5km is feeling, I’m feeling the same thing. When they’re lining up, wondering am I ready, the best of the best are thinking the same thing.”

1999 was Brannen’s first national race as a junior so he’s been at this a long time. It goes to show, whoever you are, wherever you place, just by being out there and doing it, you’re closer to the elites than you think.

pic 5

2015 PanAm Games: Women’s 10,000M

2015_pan_american_games_logo-svg

Thursday’s athletic schedule was mostly preliminary races with the Men’s 800M final, women’s 10,000m final and the finale to the decathlon, 1500m race. Admittedly I had a lot on my plate Thursday so I got a lot of practice at juggling.

pic 5

All I can say is the PanAm organizers have done an amazing job for the media, making it very easy for us to get around. Up until 7:20pm I was speaking at a Running Room, taking the marathon group out teaching them how to correctly hill train. Feeling a little like Superman turning into Clark Kent, I transitioned into my reporter role on a bus on my way to York University. I was determined to see some of this 10,000m race, since two of my favourite athletes were running it, Lanni Marchant and Natasha Wodak.

pic 1

Photo Credit – Fred Tass

As the bus zoomed across the highway, I was thankful for whoever invented the Internet so I could watch the start of the race on the CBC PanAm app (ps, it’s amazing and everyone should get it if they haven’t already). I was also thankful for HOV lanes, which I curse and swear about every other day I’m stuck in traffic.

pic 15

I was also thankful for having great friends who were part of my elaborate plan to be in two places at the same time. My good pal Fred, I heard through the facebook grapevine (thank you internet inventors!) was going to the meet and he agreed to get some shots for me for my story. With one mile left in the race, I was watching the stream, listening to the audio and sprinting to the stadium so I could see the finish live in person.

pic 4

Photo Credit – Fred Tass

As I ran to the reporter’s section, I got to see the last few minutes of what turned out to be a great race. Unlike the men’s race the day before, it didn’t start too quickly, the girls stuck together for much of the race and the women weren’t messing around with surges.

(pic 6 – pc Fred Tass)

It wasn’t until the last 8 laps that things started to heat up. The two Americans, Davilo and Costello decided to make a move and picked up the pace and open the gap. There was some question if Marchant was going to go with them or not, but she soon made her move and closed in on the leaders followed by Mexican Flores. Wodak by this time was showing signs of struggle and was not holding onto the pace.

pic 7

Photo Credit – Fred Tass

With just two laps to go, Marchant made gutsy move and took the lead, but didn’t look like she was going to hold it. The bell rang, the stadium was on their feet and Flores and Davila took off pulling away from Marchant. Battling it out with two very strong kicks, Flores took the gold medal for Mexico in personal best time of 32:41, Davila took silver and Marchant held on to her bronze medal position with 32:46.

pic 8

Photo Credit – Fred Tass

Marchant, our Canadian marathon record holder told us last night she feels like she is getting a crash course in track and field, where she is learning about speed, finding her gears and pacing. It just goes to show you that even when you’re the best in your country, there is always more to learn. “I kind of avoided it [track] since university. I’m getting more confident with the event [10,000m] and that’s the goal for worlds. Having the experience from here and worlds will set me up for Rio if I choose to do the 10km at the Olympics.”

pic 10

Photo Credit – Fred Tass

Wodak our Canadian 10,000M record holder, ended up in 7th place with a time of 33:20. Earlier this year Wodak broke Canadian record with a time of 31:44, so clearly something had gone wrong at last night meet. As she came to through the reporter area, she was crying. It was hard not to want to cry for her. She’s an amazing athlete and having a bad day, especially in front of your home crowd is heartbreaking.

pic2

Photo Credit – Fred Tass

Just before Marchant left to celebrate her bronze medal I asked her if she had any advice for young girls. She did, so everyone pay attention and share. She replied, “I wasn’t’ someone earmarked to be really good with track and field and marathoning. I stuck with it. I just think their needs to be more of a push for young girls whatever sport it is. In High school there seems to be a huge drop off with young girls not wanting to participate in sports. It’s opened so many doors for me and it’s opened up my life so much. You don’t have to be the best, you never know, just stick with it. Pick your sport and go for it.”

I’m not anywhere nearly accomplished as Marchant, but I can’t agree more with her. Running for me has been the thing that’s taken me to amazing places, let me meet amazing people and has created a life for me, 15 years ago I only dreamed about. Stick with it girls, the rewards are greater than just a personal best on race.

pic 16