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

My Favourite Healthy Brownie Recipe: Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Black Bean Brownies

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I found this recipe on minimalistbaker.com, where I get a lot of my recipes for vegan treats. It is my absolute favourite and I make it at least once a week. These are great for snacks or a cheat day. It is a great healthy substitute for when you want something chocolaty (which for me is all the time). These brownies are great with some peanut butter on top or some coconut whip cream.  Recently, I tried coconut whip cream and it is the best thing ever, its changed my world. This whip cream is vegan and the sugar and calories are not too bad. If you have not tried this you need to, it is amazing. I bring these brownies in to work all the time since everyone is always asking me to make them. People who thought they would be gross since they are vegan had their minds blown away with how good they are.

Vegan Gluten Free Black Bean Brownies
Prep time
5 mins
Cook time
25 mins
Total time
30 mins
Black bean brownies that are vegan, gluten free, and require just one bowl and about 30 minutes to prepare! Healthy, easy and delicious – the best kind of dessert.
Author: Minimalist Baker
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Vegan, Gluten Free Brownies
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 15 oz. (425 g) can (~ 1 3/4 cups) black beans, well rinsed and drained
  • 2 large flax eggs (2 heaping Tbsp (~16 g) flaxseed meal + 6 Tbsp (90 ml) water)
  • 3 Tbsp (45 g) coconut oil, melted (or sub other oil of choice)
  • 3/4 cup (72 g) cocoa powder (the higher quality the better)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • heaping 1/2 cup (105 g) organic cane sugar, slightly ground or pulsed in a food processor or coffee grinder for refined texture
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Optional toppings: crush walnuts, pecans or semisweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C).
  2. Lightly grease a 12-slot standard size muffin pan (not mini). Make sure you’ve rinsed and thoroughly drained your black beans at this point.
  3. Prepare flax egg by combining flax and water in the bowl of the food processor. Pulse a couple times and then let rest for a few minutes.
  4. Add remaining ingredients (besides walnuts or other toppings) and puree – about 3 minutes – scraping down sides as needed. You want it pretty smooth.
  5. If the batter appears too thick, add a Tbsp or two of water and pulse again. It should be slightly less thick than chocolate frosting but nowhere close to runny.
  6. Evenly distribute the batter into the muffin tin and smooth the tops with a spoon or your finger.
  7. Optional: Sprinkle with crushed walnuts, pecans or chocolate chips.
  8. Bake for 20-26 minutes or until the tops are dry and the edges start to pull away from the sides. I found mine took about 25.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes before removing from pan. They will be tender, so remove gently with a fork. The insides are meant to be very fudgy, so don’t be concerned if they seem too moist – that’s the point. Plus, they’re vegan so it doesn’t really matter.
  10. Store in an airtight container for up to a few days. Refrigerate to keep longer.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 140 calories Fat: 6 g Carbohydrates: 22 g Sugar: 9 g Sodium: 163 mg Fiber: 7 h Protein: 5 g

 

Comment if you try it out and let me know how you like it

My Fitness Journey: How I Lost 70lb

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My fitness journey started in 2013. I was in my fourth year of university and loving life. I’m not going to say my life was miserable before I lost weight because it wasn’t, I was very happy with myself and my life but, looking back I think I was in denial. I was in denial about my health and my weight. After gaining what must have been 50 pounds in freshman year I still thought I was the same size I had always been. Although, I knew this was false seeing as how none of my old clothes fit me. Nevertheless, I got new clothes and thought I was fabulous (which I was just fluffier). My wake up call came when I started getting asthma attacks more frequently. It was scary and my friends who where there and helped me through them can attest to that. My second wake up call was when I stepped on the scale for the first time in years and the number read 225 pounds. I was mortified. That was the moment I decided to turn my life around. I did not tell anyone about this self revelation because I was too ashamed. So I started going to the gym. I didn’t do anything other than the bicycle because 1. I didn’t know how to work out properly and 2. I was way too intimidated to even attempt going into the weight area. I also changed my diet started having smoothies for breakfast and sauté crab wit bean sprouts for dinner. I did not starve myself or eat anything I thought tasted bad. During this time is when I lost the first 25 pounds. I didn’t even realize I had lost weight my friends started telling me and I weighed myself.

It was after that I realized I had to step it up a notch and decided  to check out the Goodlife fitness near my house. My roommates had been telling me about it and I wanted to see if I should sign up too. This was when I started working with a personal trainer for the first time. I learned so much from her. She taught me how to squat, deadlift, and bench press. I was soon able to do my first full push up and shortly after that I reached my goal of 50 push ups in a row. I started getting very strong and my trainer started teaching me how to do snatches and clean and jerks. That was when I fell in love with health and fitness. The weight started melting off and my clothes were getting looser and looser. Slowly over time my diet changed completely. I switched from milk to almond milk, I stopped eating cheese, rice, pasta and would occasionally have bread. I had broccoli, chicken and sweet potatoes every night for dinner. It was in December 2013 that I started joining boot camp classes on top of my training sessions with my personal trainer. I met a new lifelong friend in that boot camp and I’m so glad I made the decision to sign up and try it out. By spring 2014  I had completed all my personal training sessions and I weighed 163 pounds.

Fast forward to today September 2016 I still have a passion for fitness and am now training for my first half-marathon. I became a vegan and have been for over a year now. I am loving life and living it to the fullest.