Monday, December 30, 2013


The holidays have always been one of my favourite times of the year. I love Christmas. Everything about it, from the twinkly lights and the festive trees to the mistletoe hung with care. I love all of the decorations – from the beautiful and ‘sophisticated’ to the goofy and the gaudy; it all makes my heart sing.

I love all the sweet treats and the mass quantities of food (even though my waistline doesn't), but most of all, I really love the endless hours of time spent with family and friends.

Another little bonus to the holiday season is the fact that my birthday falls just two short days after Christmas. (It's pretty awesome, as it definitely helps to extend the festive feeling of the season).

This year, I had a really hard time deciding what I wanted to do for my birthday (and it felt like EVERYONE kept asking me what my plans were). Since the pool had been closed for most of December, and was reopening on my birthday, I had told Shane I wanted to swim 3300m in honour of my 33rd birthday.

When he didn't refuse the idea, and then Kirsten and my parents showed interest in joining too, the wheels starting turning in my head and suddenly my birthday plan started to grow. Soon enough, I was plotting a little 33-themed birthday ‘triathlon’ of sorts.

The plan: 3300m swim, followed by 33km on the bike, topped off with 33mins of running (and, I would hazard to guess, probably close to 33mins of transition time too, haha).

The day started at the pool with Kirsten, Shane and my Mom (my Dad will be learning to swim in the New Year, so opted just to join in on the bike/run portion of the event). I ticked off 3300m at a consistent and comfortable pace. I feel like I have been a bit sluggish in the pool lately, but this swim felt pretty good. I had a few moments of feeling oddly clunky and spastic, but mostly, I was clicking along, nicely rhythmic and fluid.

We suited up into our rain gear and warm clothes for the bike, and rolled out onto the Goose for a nice 16.5km out and back. The pace was comfortable and the company was great. We pedaled away with the wind (unknowingly) at our backs for the first half of the ride. Shane and I had new fenders on our bikes and we happily teased everyone else for the large brown streaks up their backsides, while we stayed clean and dry. The way back was a little tougher as the tailwind we enjoyed on the way out turned into a headwind (shocking, I know), but the rain stopped and the sun even started to poke through the clouds.

I rolled into the parking lot with my odo showing 33.23km. (I probably should have ridden the extra little bit to make 33.33km, but c’est la vie.)

With a quick change into our runners, it was time to hit the JdF trail for the final leg of my birthday triathlon. The first few steps surprised me a bit, and reminded me what it feels like to run off the bike (it’s been a while I guess) but soon enough, we were trotting along, up and down the little hills around the rec centre. In no time, 33 minutes had passed and my birthday triathlon was complete.

Obviously, there was no race clock and no sense of urgency to compete with one another; just a great day spent doing what I love, with the ones that I love most.   

Friday, December 20, 2013

It's Friday, I'm in love…

I don't care if Monday's blue
Tuesday's gray and Wednesday too
Thursday I don't care about you
It's Friday, I'm in love…

And so, how about a few random ramblings?

1) Last week was crazy busy… CrAzY!!

Dinners out, comedy shows, festive family outings, whirlwind trips to the mainland and one giant family gathering (aka. gong show) in Black Creek made fitting in training a little difficult. I realized either sleep or training was going to be sacrificed, and well, it was mostly training that got the axe. I think I’m growing though, as the guilt I felt over the skipped workouts was very minimal… and thankfully this week has been a little easier to maintain balance with work, training, sleep and fun stuff.

2) We've had a puppy in the office this week. Rosebud. A co-worker got a new Boston-terrier/French-bulldog cross (a Frenchton) for Christmas. I've quickly come to realize that the best days at work are the ones when you have a puppy sleeping on your lap.

3) Not to be outdone, my sweet little (and by little, I really mean big) pooch is pretty much the cutest Christmas pup around. He never fails to make me smile.

4) I have curly hair, and well, if you have curly hair, you’ll know that finding someone who knows how to properly cut the curls is not the easiest thing. I’ve gone to the same hair dresser for years. She’s great. I love her, but she is a located a little out of the way and she just had a baby, so is working limited hours.

As such, I decided this might be a good time to try out a new-to-me stylist downtown Vic, so that I could go for a cut on my lunch break. New stylist did a decent job, but I have to admit, I’m not super thrilled with the final outcome. We talked lots about giving my hair more shape (as it gets a bit 'blah' and angular the longer it gets), and well, she didn't really deliver in the layers department (even though we talked about it in great length). Now I feel like I need another haircut, even though I just had one, but I don’t want to pay. [This is what the kids on the interwebs call first world problems, right?]

That said, she did straighten the ol’ locks at the end of my appointment, which was kind of fun. I definitely never take the time to do that myself, so it was nice to see myself in a different way.

5) We got snow today. I was really hoping for enough snow that I wouldn't be able to make it into work, but alas, it did not happen.

6) JdF (where I normally swim) has been closed for maintenance, so I've been swimming at Crystal pool this week. This means I get 50m lengths instead of 25m… and I love it. I feel slow as molasses in the pool and the chlorine makes me sound like I have the worst snotty nosed cold for a few hours post-swim, but there is just something about long course laps that is really appealing. I’m thinking that even when JdF re-opens, I might need to keep Crystal in my rotation.

7) Growing up, we always drove around and did a Christmas light tour, usually on Christmas eve after dinner at Grandma’s. For the past couple years, I've been thinking it would be fun to do a similar sort of thing, but instead of driving, maybe strapping on the running shoes with some friends and taking in all the festive sights on foot. After reading Kyla’s blog the other day about her run club Christmas pub crawl, it made me think about the Christmas light run tour once again… perhaps this will be the year to make it happen.

So, who’s in?

8) Dad and I submitted our application for Amazing Race Canada last night. Cross your fingers for us.

And that my friends, is all I've got. 

Merry Christmas to all... and to all a good night!

Or should I say, a very Murray Christmas to you!

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Great Shoe Discovery of 2013

For years I have run in the Nike Pegasus. While not the lightest or fastest shoe, it always just seemed to be the most comfortable for me and it seemed to work. Every now and again, I’d go into Frontrunners and try on a whole bunch of different shoes, thinking I should switch things up, before finally settling back on the Pegs.

This past summer as I got into trail running, I switched to the Saucony Xodus. While Nike offers a Pegasus Trail, they really didn't seem that much different than the road version and I wanted/needed something with a bit more aggressive tread.

I quickly fell in love with my new Sauconys. They carried me through countless training runs and finally, 6 long days of running in Colorado.

As winter began to descend on Victoria and I once again started hitting the roads a little more than the trails, I realized I didn't actually have any road shoes anymore. I had about 3 pairs of trail shoes that were still functional (for the trails) but was finding them to be a bit stiff and slick on the wet sidewalks.

So, I headed back to Frontrunners and started the same song and dance of trying on countless different brands and types of shoes, before once again, finally settling back on the Pegasus.

In my short little run around the store they felt the best. Not 100% great, but I figured that was just because I had gotten used to a different shoe over the summer and needed to readjust. They would do (or so I thought). 

At this point, I should give a little background…
I've had an issue in the past with my ankle (I think I've mentioned it on the ol’ blog before) where my talus kinda slips out of place and locks up. It hurts. A lot. I've always just assumed it was because my ankle was loose from spraining it countless times as a teenager and I needed to work on strengthening it (and no physio or massage could ever really offer a better explanation). So I just got really good at dealing with the discomfort and popping it back into place after a run (or going to a professional to have them do the popping when I couldn't).

This summer, it seemed to get better and I rarely had any issues [Stage 5 of TRR on that damn ‘V’ shaped uneven trail on Vail mountain was the huge exception – it still hurts me to even think about that one, haha]. I couldn't explain the sudden lack of ankle lockage, and just assumed it was because of the amount of time I was spending on the trails and not on the road. In my mind I thought all the downhill pounding on the trails was giving the “popping back in” adjustment as I ran.

It never occurred to me that it could have been because I switched up my shoes.

So, with my new Pegasus in hand (or shall I say, on foot) I headed out for a couple short, easy runs. Both times I returned home in a significant amount of pain. My ankle was back to its old ways – as in, completely locked out by the end.

Finally it clicked and I started to see that maybe, just maybe, there was a connection. Maybe my shoe choice was affecting my feet?! Go figure eh.

And so, I started researching the differences between the Pegasus and the Xodus.

Aside from the obvious differences (I mean, ones a trail shoe and ones a road shoe after all), the main difference I could see was the heel to toe drop. The Pegasus has a heel height of 32mm and a forefoot at 19mm. So we’re looking at a 13mm difference. The Xodus has a heel of 26mm and forefoot at 22mm. Aka. a 4mm offset.

While I don’t know 100% if that is the reason why my ankle has decided it isn't going to play nice in the Pegasus anymore, I think it very well could be. It kind of amazes me that 9mm could cause such a huge amount of pain and discomfort. 9mm people!

So, I once again headed back to Frontrunners, armed with my new knowledge (ideas?) about heel to toe offset and a plan to try out some shoes that fell closer to that 4mm drop.

I finally settled on the Saucony Kinvara.

I've completed quite a few runs in them in the last couple weeks, and *knock on wood* ~ so far, so good!

While they aren't super cushy, and my forefoot was a bit sore/numb after my first outing in them, they have gradually gotten more and more comfortable (and they look damn good to boot). Oh, and the best part of all, my ankle has remained in the non-locked position!

Anyway, I found it interesting that something so small could have such a large impact.

Who knew that changing my shoes could be such a good reminder that as I change and grow as an athlete, sometimes my equipment and ideas of what works and what doesn't, have to change and grow as well.