My Half Marathon Experience

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For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to run in some kind of race. You can say it’s been on my bucket list for a while now. However, I never thought it was something I would be able to achieve. I was overweight, out of shape and always out of breath due to my asthma. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be able to run 5 km let alone 21.1 km.

After I had lost a lot of weight (you can check out my blog post about my fitness journey for more on that) I also got my asthma under control I started talking about doing a race or a triathlon but was to chicken to actually sign up. I was all talk and no action. One of my close friends Maddie (check out my last blog post for more about her) pushed me outside of my comfort zone and convinced me to sign up for a half marathon.  After I signed up the realization of how crazy I am started to sink in. I had never run before. The most I did was sprints outside and 5 minutes on the treadmill. I never ran in any race in my life and the first one I signed up for just happened to be 21 km, I truly thought I had lost my mind. Maddie however, had full confidence in me and was constantly encouraging and reassuring me throughout my training. Without her I would have never signed up.

I had no idea how to start training for a race. It was obvious I would have to run quite often but I had no idea what to eat or how I could fit my other fitness goals into my training especially as a vegan. I still wanted to lift and gain strength. One day I googled  “vegan personal trainer” and the first thing that came up was Samantha Shorkey’s – Jacked On The Bean Stock online training.  I looked at her success stories and what she was about and decided that she might be a good fit for me. I have had a personal trainer in the past but I never tried online training before. I sent an email inquiry and signed up. This was honestly one of the best decisions I could have ever made in regards to my training. Sam’s training plan was excellent but challenging and personally I loved it. I followed my training plan and did long runs on Sundays with Maddie. We helped each other to keep pace (well Maddie helped me more than I had helped her). This was good so during the race we would be able to keep track of each other somewhat. Sam and her sister Sarah would answer any questions or concerns I had and send emails with motivational videos and check in on how I was doing. I accomplished my goals and more, I lost 20 pounds and was feeling great. If you are vegan and are looking for a personal trainer I highly recommend you check out Jacked On The Bean Stock. Sam and Sarah are amazing positive people, with a great approach to training. I will definitely be going to them for all my future training.

3 weeks out from race day I unfortunately injured myself.  Maddie and I were doing one of our long runs at High Park in downtown Toronto. We started to do our long runs in different parts of the city for change of scenery. We hadn’t run at this location before and it turned out to be a lot of hills. After completing a 16 km run my left knee started to hurt not severely but enough for me to become aware of it. The following week I skipped the long run and just walked, I iced my knee and did foam rolling. I noticed that it was fine and did not bother me until I started running. That’s when I realized that it was not my knee that was injured but it was my IT Band. I wanted to try to rest and recover my muscles as much as possible before the race. So, I knee supports to wear while I run and Kinesiology tape. I learned how to tape my legs best for recovery.  I did any and everything I could Because after all the hard work I had put into this day I was not going to let anything stop me from running.

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Race Day: October 16, 2016, I ran in the Scotia Bank waterfront run. The morning of the race I was excited and did not know what to expect. Maddie and I stayed over at our friend Nhu’s place. She lives downtown so it would not be a far commute for us on the morning of. We saw so many people heading down to the race either to watch or participate. This made me get nervous and excited at the same time. As soon as we got there, we saw people crossing the finish line for the 5km run.  We made it to the runners area to check in our bags and use the bathroom. They had all kinds of booths set up for the participants: food, stretching area, a place to get your picture taken with your medal once you crossed the finish line. It was pretty cool. We checked our bags and got split up going to the bathroom. I thought Maddie had ditched me and went to start the race so, I followed the other runners to the starting line. Our start time was in a few minutes and I figured I would have to look for Maddie once I got to the finish line but, by some miracle I saw Maddie heading to the starting line and helped her jump the gate to where I was so we could start together.

Once the race started I was at a good pace, following the Running Room pace makers. It was pretty cool running down the streets of Toronto with hundreds of other runners of all shapes and sizes. There were people cheering us on from their porches and the sidewalks holding up encouraging signs. People were dressed in costumes, salsa dancers dancing and volunteers cheering us on as they handed us water and Gatorade. Maddie and I were able to stay in range of each other for the most part of the race until my knee started hurting again and I had to slow down my pace at about 8 km into the race. I wanted to give up and stop at so many points after that. But I thought about my training, how much hard work I put into training for this race and the donuts waiting for me when I finished.  I saw a blind runner pass me (he had a sign on his back and a guide helping him) and a woman in a wheel chair and that motivated me to keep going. If they can do this with their physical limitations I could too.

(Yes I was too cheap to pay for the photos)

At about 16km into the race, I somehow thought I still had 10km left to run and I started cursing myself for letting Maddie convince me to do this. I soon realized I only had about 5km left and my spirits lifted, until I started walking for a bit, at 19km and realized how much it was hurting to start running again. I wanted to cry but there were photographers taking pictures and I did not want a picture taken of me like that. I started to look around to see if I could find Maddie maybe she could help me. The pain at that point was unbearable but I didn’t dare stop running because I knew if I stopped running I wouldn’t be able to start again. I realized I couldn’t see Maddie anywhere and started having a panicking and I was struggling to breath it felt like the beginning of an asthma attack. I somehow managed to calm myself down and get my breathing back to normal. I continued to run and I was determined to cross the finish line no matter what.

I crossed that finish line and found Maddie who was laying on the ground. They gave us medals and took our pictures. In that moment, I was in so much pain but at the same time so proud of the accomplishment Maddie and I had just made.  We had been on this journey together, helped motivate each other and pushed each other to keep going.  One of our good friends Paolo along with Maddie’s parents came to cheer us on. We met them at the finish line and the first thing Paolo says to me is “I was looking for you guys expecting to see you looking disheveled and not like yourselves but, you guys came around the corner looking fresh AF!” I guess I was looking way better than I felt.

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This just proves that your body is a lot stronger than you may think. It is 100% true that your mind will give up a hundred times before your body does. I think this is one of the hardest things I have ever done and I am excited to continue to do things that scare and push me to my limits. It’s amazing to push yourself and see just how much our bodies can do.  All in all, It was an amazing experience and I will probably do it all over again next year. Thank you to everyone who believed in me and encouraged me while I was on this journey.

XoXo – Krystal-Lee

Check out Jacked on the Beanstalk for training with Sam and Sarah –

www.jackedonthebeanstalk.com

Your Crew Frames Your View

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Your crew frames your view or in other words the people whom you surround yourself with shape who you are and your view in life. Your family is chosen for you but friends are the family you choose for yourself. For that reason my mother always warned me to choose my friends wisely. This is the view about friendship has been instilled in me from a young age. I have the best group of friends from all walks of life hand chosen by me. They all were placed in my life for a reason and I have learned something from each of them. I wanted to make this post too share with them and everyone else what amazing people they are. Also, for them to know the impact they have made in my life and the lives of others. These are a few of the amazing characters that frame my view in life and colour my world.

The Rock- Chantel is my rock. We have been the best of friends since grade 6 that is going on 13 years and counting. We have not always had the same circle of friends in middle school and high school but that has never changed our relationship. We lived in different cities and went to different universities but we always made time to talk on the phone or visit. Basically, Chantel is my one friend where no matter how much life changed in the past and will change in the future I know that she will always be there for me.

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Chantel

They say you meet friends for life in university. I am not sure how true that is for everyone else but for me it is. Most of the rest of my friends I met and/or lived with in university.

The Twin- Nhu is one of the first people I met when I started University 7 years ago. We were roommates and shared a dorm together. We hit it off right away and have been besties ever since. There are many reasons why I say Nhu is my twin and its definitely not because we look alike. Our birthdays are 4 days apart and we basically have the same taste in everything except for guys (which is good because we will never like the same one). We get each other on a level I feel only a twin would understand and we have a mutual understanding that we always have each others back. She is the one person I know who is always down to chill, watch movies, eat and play sims.

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Nhu

The Accomplice- Lyndel, I don’t even remember how we met but we have been friends ever since. We lived in the same building in first year of university just on different floors. Lyndel is one of the most hilarious people I know, it is never a dull moment with her around. She is the one person who I could never stay mad at no matter what she did. She always brightens my day and for that reason is one of my favourite people. We were house mates in 4th year of university but you might as well just say that we lived together the whole time since we were always staying over at each others place (lets be real it was always Lyndel staying at my place). Lyndel was always doing something cool or starting some cool new interesting project that you would never even think could be possible. For that reason, she is always so supportive in anything that any of her friends do. During those 4 years of university we got into so many shenanigans together but, those were the best times and what has made up most of my favourite memories during that time in my life.

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Lyndel

The voice of reason- Maddie is very level headed but is still down to have a good time with in reason. Maddie also lived in my dorm building in first year of university. We met on an activity planning committee for the building and have been friends ever since. She is the best person to take shopping when you are on a budget. She is the only person who would be able to talk you out of buying those Lululemon tights. She motivates me to be a better person. She is always bettering herself and the world around her. Although, she may have her head on straight she can be very goofy at times and never fails to make you laugh. Maddie is an amazing and selfless person. She is always volunteering and making the world around her a better place and motivates me to be a better person.

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Maddie

The Listener- Paolo is the best at listening and giving great advice. He is the best person to have a conversation with and would never let you feel like he is uninterested in what you are saying. You can tell him anything with out feeling judged and he is the one person who will keep your deepest secret. He has a great heart and personality and always wants the best for those around him. Poalo is the person you go to for comfort, he will feed you his amazing cookies and tell you that you are pretty. You will leave his place 10 pounds heaver and feeling fabulous and flawless like queen bee herself. He is always supportive in the goals and accomplishments of his firends and family

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Paolo

The Entertainer- Bev always somehow seems to entertain me whether she is being a sloth on the couch or posting videos on Youtube.  I met Bev in university through lyndel. We did have some classes before this and knew of each other. We became very close when we lived together in 4th  year of university. She is very passionate about the things she loves to do and it can be very infectious. She is a great person to talk to and makes you feel ambitious about the things you love to do or want to accomplish in life. Not only that Bev is a very strong, independent and hard working person. She has worked very hard for everything she has achieved in life. When passion and hard work meet amazing things happen and Bev is proof of that.

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Bev

The 423 Crew- We all lived together in 4th year of university and have made so many memories together. Each person brought something different to the table and made it one of the most interesting ad fun years of my life. I was not as close with Sarina, Katie or Naomi but by the end of that year we were all great friends. Naomi will help you shop till you drop then have amazing conversations with you for hours afterwards. She is very driven and devoted to achieving her goals. At the same time she is also generous, sweet and caring of others. Katie is fierce, she is not afraid to stand up for herself or others and will give you great make up tips (aka where I first learned make up tips from). The confidence that she radiates is infectious. Sarina is just an all around amazing person. She is a great cook and will always share her food with you (sharing is caring). She is not afraid to be goofy and is always laughing. Sarina is an achiever. I never thought I would ever become friends with the kids who where the goody goodies at the front of the class excited to learn and willing to do whatever it takes to get that A+ but, it happened and Sarina was and very much still is one of those kids. For that she influences others around her to always put 100% into everything they do.

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423 Tamarack

Your crew frames your view and my view is, as Rory Gilmore would say “is populated with characters slightly less eccentric but supremely real, made of flesh and bone and full of love”. If your life is not turning out as you had hoped it would or you are venturing down the wrong path, maybe you should take a look at the people who you choose to surround yourself with and you might find the answer as to why your life has taken a wrong turn. If that is the case you need to change the people who you surround yourself with. This is easier said than done but, the people who you surround yourself with are the people who encourage and inspire you. They are the people who influence you whether you realize it or not.

#motivationmonday

P.S- If you are a close friend of mine and have not been mentioned please do not be upset. If I was to write about all the amazing people in my life, it would be longer than the 5th Harry Potter book.

xoxo-Krystal

 

10 Tips To Start a Healthy Lifestyle

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Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t happen over night. It starts with small changes that become a habit and develops into something you like. If you are looking to start a healthy lifestyle these are my tips on how to get started.

Tip #1- Start Now! All the time I hear people say they will start tomorrow, next week or next year. You don’t need to wait till you have all the right clothing or equipment. Be creative and use what you already have. These are all just excuses to keep living how you currently are.  The future is not guaranteed so why wait till tomorrow, next week or next year to start living a beautiful healthy life.

Tip #2- Set goals. Set achievable short term and long term goals. Be realistic when setting these goal make them something that is possible for you to accomplish and when you do it will motivate you to continue living a healthy lifestyle.

Tip #3- Drink more water. 75% of all Americans are chronically dehydrated. Most people are not getting enough water throughout the day and don’t know the difference. Water is important in making our bodies run smoothly and effectively. It helps to flush out toxins out f the body and drinking more water will help with acne, cause your skin to be brighter and vibrant and will help with weight loss. A lot of the time people mistake hunger for thirst. Drinking more water in a day will allow you to feel fuller in turn making you eat less. Drinking more water will also boot your metabolism helping you to burn more calories. Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces. This can be simply done by making the conscious decision to drink water instead of pop or juice. You can also spice up you water by adding lemon sliced, frozen fruit or mint to your water.

Tip #4- Cut out processed foods. Aim to eat more whole foods like fruit and vegetables. Processed foods have so many preservatives, additives and chemicals in them so they can have a longer shelf life. Just imagine what all those things are doing to your body. Try to cook more of your meals that way you know exactly what is in the food you are using to fuel your body. I’m not saying you have to cut it out cold turkey or completely but, start by adding more raw and natural foods to your diet and work your way up from there.

Tip #5- Find healthy alternatives for junk foods.  There many healthy options and recipes for the junk foods you crave and once you start eating healthy continuously you wont crave junk anymore instead, you will crave healthy foods. Check out my last blog post for a healthy brownie recipe.

Tip #6- Plan. If you fail to plan you plan to fail. Planning out your meal and workouts a head of time will give you no excuses to not eat healthy or work out. Often times its when I don’t plan out my meals ahead of time that I turn to fast food because its quick, easy and convenient but, if you plan ahead healthier options can become quick, easy and cheap. Also, by planing your workouts before going to the gym will prevent you from lollygagging and wondering what you should do next.

Tip #7- Do what you love to do. Do exercises or activities that you like to do. Eat foods that you like to eat. Don’t try and force yourself to do things or eat things that you don’t like just because you know its good for you. Eventually, you will stop doing what ever it is you are doing because you don’t like it.

Tip # 8- Mental health is important too. Being healthy is something that is often attributed to having a nice body because that is something that we can see but, it is actually so much more than that. Mental health is important to. Someone can look healthy on the outside but are struggling mentally. Mental health is something that is recently been coming to light. Many people suffer from all sorts of mental illnesses and it is a sickness that cannot be seen. If you or someone you know are showing signs that they may need help please tell someone and take the steps forward to getting help. With that being said it is important to take the time to relax, stress cant take a toll on a persons body. Light some candles, read a book, write in a journal, take a bubble bath or watch a show do things that you like to do to unwind form the stress of everyday life.

Tip #9- Get a good night rest. Sleep is very important in regulating our bodies. While you are asleep is when your body repairs the muscles that were broken down while exercising. So, sleep is very important for recovery. Sleep regulates lepton and cortisol levels in your body. These keep your metabolism up. A good nights sleep will also give you the energy you need for the next day.

Tip # 10- Give your self a cheat and rest day. Cheat days and rest days are much needed to reset your body and mind. having a cheat day will allow you to indulge in all the food you have been craving. This is kind of like a mental reset button that will allow you to continue eating healthy. The same thing goes for a rest day. I often find that all I want to do on a rest day is go to the gym and it gets me excited to get back in the gym the next day.