NYC Marathon Training Week #1 – Wednesday

Got up. Felt too humid to to run. Felt guilty. Put on my running clothes. Ran to work. Legs felt dead. Arrived at work sweaty and exhausted. But it was done.

6k in 35:12. My splits were:


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NYC Marathon Training Week #1 – Tuesday

I need to double up twice this week and I had big plans to do that today – cross-train in the morning, softball after work, and then run home from softball. A series of unfortunate events thwarted my plans (I was unable to secure a running commute bag and was not into running a 6k pick-up run holding a softball mitt) so there were only two work-outs on the docket today.

In the morning, I swam. For 30 minutes, I alternated between 2 laps of freestyle and two laps with the kick board. I have a tendency to look forward when I freestyle, which bunches my neck. Gotta work on that.

In the evening, we played softball. It was unremarkable, but I am enjoying playing the same position (right field) every game. It gives me more time to understand the flow and build confidence in my game.

That’s two days down. And I still need to actually run. That’s tomorrow.

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Making it in Digby

It’s been about a month since I’ve been home. How did that happen?!! I think the harder part to believe is that I’m still trying to recuperate from traveling. At least that’s the excuse I’m sticking to. It still saddens me inside not seeing Cecilley on a daily bases, and waking up in a different part of the world, but as they say home is where the heart is. Only time will tell how long mine will call Digby home, again.

Don’t get me wrong, not all is lost in Nova Scotia. After sleeping away the first week due to pure exhaustion and power outages – what a welcome home. “Jill a hurricane is coming!” my mother enthusiastically explains just days after my arrival.  And sure enough a hurricane hit. We as many Nova Scotians and New Burnswickers did lost power for almost a week. Let’s say serious action is taking place in the Balser household for future hurricane prevention.


The hurricane is coming!

As the world has heard and now seen, my father is a born again mountain man. And in so many ways I love it. I believe my mother does too seeing how we spent her 62nd birthday stocking the freezer with, yup you guessed it, chicken meat. The chickens, well… what’s left of them, run around the yard all day everyday. Mom loves them so much! I, however, enjoy the company of the chickens, but choose to eat all the things possible in the greenhouse. I really have nothing to complain about here other than not having a solid work and fitness routine.

The hardest part about being home, as it was on the road, is getting myself into a routine. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy coming home, but it’s getting kind of ridiculous. Work gives you structure to go by. Knowing when you cannot workout makes you accountable for the time you can. I’m just starting to figure it out for myself. Hopefully next month will be a lot easier.

Having Erin visit definitely helped. I hadn’t see Erin since the day I left Toronto all those months ago. You can tell from her Instagram photos how delightful Nova Scotia really is.  Knowing Erin’s marathon training is starting back up should be enough motivation to get myself back in the swing of things too. I also picked up Brendan Brazier’s second book Thrive Fitness as another source of encouragement - I want to re-marathon train Vega style! I’m convinced it worked last time. My time at the County Marathon gives me enough reason to believe so.

Right now it’s not about kicking myself for all the things I should be doing. Instead it’s focusing on all the great things that have happened so far (and the things to come!). Another important lesson I picked up while travelling.


Me and the chickens! Post  Mom's birthday.

Me and the chickens! This was before mother’s birthday.


So, the job! Yes, the job that brought me home in the first place. You must be wondering how that’s been going and what I’ve actually been up to. I’m working at the Fundy YMCA. It’s keeping me somewhat busy, but it is filling that need to be active just a bit. The facility blew me away when I first visited. Digby and Annapolis County need a place like this – a family friendly, health and wellness driven community, and a place to be active and feel good about doing so. We take it for granted in Toronto having classes and studios at our disposal. But here in rural Nova Scotia it doesn’t exist. If I want to practice yoga I have to do it on my own or take class I’m not teaching. This has been a hard adjustment for me. Self discipline is a must here and something I’ve been lacking in more ways than one. Oh goodness, all the baked goods and homemade bread in this house is not good. If my goal is to run a fast marathon I don’t think it’s possible living at home.


July teaching calendar

My teaching schedule at the Y!


Being home has a lot of positives. It’s good for hanging out with the parents, reconnecting with old friends, family and the local folks - although Erin, Anne and my legacy as the Balser Girls is not working in my favour. Everyone here thinks I am Anne, fair enough given Anne is a national champion and the best golfer of the three of us. It’s clear now I’ve made a lasting impression. The pains of being the middle child, they’re haunting me all over again! Thankfully this weekend my cousin got married (congratulations, Glenn!) at least my family still knows who I am.

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And so it begins: NYC Marathon training

I was in Nova Scotia for a week, to see the parents (and Jill!) and go to a wedding. The plan was always for NYC Marathon training to start the day I got back.

I got back today. I didn’t workout today. It was a travel day. Bad planning on my part.

But tomorrow morning, it will begin.

The plan is the same as before: 7 workouts a week – speedwork, tempo run, regular run, long run and 2 cross-training sessions. There are a few changes this time, though:

1. I’m going to track my cross-training for my coach.

I was okay at doing my cross-training regularly without oversight until I got sick and unmotivated for Ottawa. Guilt is a big motivator for me and knowing that if I don’t do these workouts I have to tell my coach means I’m more likely to do them.

2. We are going to base my long runs on time and pace, not distance.

I don’t understand why, but I’m going to truth the coach.

3. I’m not going to abandon blogging because I feel unmotivated and grumpy about running.

I think this one will be the hardest of all.


Tomorrow, I will double up on workouts. Don’t want to be a bad student this early on in my training cycle.

I’ll let you know how it goes.


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Home, home again it’s true

It’s official after 8 months and 12 days I am back in Canada! And I have to say I am rather excited. Conflicted, but excited. If anyone out there thinks traveling is easy think again, although I may not be the best person to ask (as the overly emotional being that I am) Cecilley could give you a better more practical answer about traveling as a whole.

But back to my current emotional state – I’m conflicted for many reasons, one being the idea of coming home. Way back when, when Cecilley and I set off to travel the world coming home early would have been a failure in my eyes. When I set out to do something, I want to do it. We set off to travel for a year, that was the goal. Hacking it out with only each other and our backpacks was the test. Do I have what it takes to make it 12 months abroad? I thought so, and I still think so, but now I’m trading my flexible schedule and freedom, my ability to chose my next home and destination based on where I currently am in the world and where I feel like going next, with a fixed work schedule, a fixed home, and sticking to one location. Why?! Why would anyone voluntarily give up this life of luxury?

Because I got a job.


A new someone to meet at home! And who is the bearded man... Dad?!

A new kitty to meet! And a real mountain man? Dad, is that you?!

Yes, a job. I know it sounds like a total cop out from the free living lifestyle of the average backpacker, but from the very beginning, Cecilley and I were not your average backpackers. Being slightly older than the average globetrotter (the compliments of being very mature for our age never got old), we also wanted to work and volunteer while we traveled  This wasn’t going to be a glorified vacation for the two of us, and we made sure that it wasn’t. Running a marathon and walking over 1000 kms over 50 days is straight up work if you ask me! We wanted new skills for the old resume and we got exactly that and more. So much more!

Traveling has taught me many things about myself and the world. The people I’ve met to the places I’ve been, I can look back and be very proud of my accomplishments. With a tentative “plan” in mind we weren’t committed to anything but each other. But (as travelling has taught me on a number of occasions) plans change whether you want them to or not. I am no longer in a place to think that not competing the year would have been a failure. I am no longer in a place to think I have to keep going because I’m in Europe and when will I ever be back?! I have no idea, but maybe that’s a good thing. Ending 4 months sooner then planned would have upset me earlier in our travels, but now it’s the right thing to do. I’m ready to go back and face all the things I left behind, I’m ready for my new challenge… living at home with my parents. Yup. After 10 years of living away from home and on my own, I am going back home. Is this karma biting me in the ass? Nah, I think I am ready for it. We shall see. I will however, be working and planning my next adventure, this should keep me busy. For a little while at least. I’ve been conflicted with the idea of home and not going back to Toronto, but when opportunities present themselves sometimes you have to let go of expectations and just go with it. But at the time it was scary to think I may not go back to my life in Toronto. I trust it will be there, waiting for me when I do go back.

But the job wasn’t the only reason. I no longer felt as though I was running away, I was no longer scared to go home, I wanted to see my family and friends, and wanted to look forward to working again. But before that, I wanted to enjoy what Cecilley and I did together. I found the answers I needed to be proud of our accomplishments, and I found the clarity to realize what we’ve been through. We saw the world! I know this adventure seems like it’s over, but really it’s only over for now. I know I will keep going and travel more, but I have time, joy, and balance to figure out what my next phase will look like. These were things I didn’t have before. That Camino, man, I tell ya, it’s something else. It really is.


Cats and chickens! It's almost like a zoo!

Cats, the new cat, chickens, and more chickens. It’s like a zoo!

When I left Toronto a lot had happen in my personal life, but it was travelling that really tested me in ways I needed. Leaving my familiar life behind, along with the few belongings I had left, getting on the plane to Bali, I was in over my head. Travelling took me down some pretty dark paths, but I feel as though I know myself better because of it. It has it’s way of dragging you so far down, but then brings you right back up. I saw what I needed to see and I did what I needed to do. And it’s totally okay it didn’t take me a full calendar year to figure it all out.

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Thursday: Adventure run.

Took Wednesday off fitness (except for the ab work) because I could barely move. I am more out-of-shape than I’m willing to admit.

On Thursday, I got up and ran before work. Since it rained torrentially the night before, the trail was wet and muddy. Again, I took it easy. By the end the marathon-ruining knee was aching – but the other knee was fine! Running is weird.

I caved and bought the Yurbud race case at lunch on Wednesday and took it out for the first time this morning. I like it. It makes the phone easy to access and was handy to have when I *gulp* took some photos and timed my post-run stretching. I think I’m only going to use it for outdoor workouts and runs less than 10k, though. Being off balance and having a hunk of plastic attached to my hand could potentially get annoying on the long runs. But for now, I see it being a useful fitness tool.

Adding two new goals this week: Working out Friday morning to up my morning workout totals this week to 4. (I love summer and all its daylight). And…I’m going to bust out my skipping rope.

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Tuesday: Get lean with Nike.


Since it’s summer, I went to the park to get this done! YES! This meant I didn’t have any weights or medicine balls, but wasn’t concerned. If I ever get that hardcore, I’ll figure it out. I love this app and the workouts are intense and varied, which I like. However, I had a hard time with my phone (I constantly need to check the app to make sure I am doing the moves properly), which means I am now completely sold on getting the Yurbuds race case. I can see it coming in handy for these workouts.

And then I did more ab wok. In the wet grass. So glamorous.

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Monday: The first run back.

This week is the first week I plan to back into fitness in a regular way. My plan is to alternate between running without any pressure and the Nike fitness app workouts. I’m also going to do a daily 10-minute ab session – core strength FTW!

This was my first run back post-marathon. I put on my Garmin but put no pressure on myself. I wanted to run for 30ish minutes at a pace that felt comfortable – and that’s exactly what I did. The legs felt heavy and my right knee was a bit sore (which is weird because that is NOT the knee that caused my marathon pain), but overall it was a good first run back!

In the evening, I played softball. After 1.5 seasons, I am no longer completely terrified of the ball coming my way. It had stormed prior to the game and was still drizzling when we started the first inning, but we still played. We are hardcore like that.

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Six things on Sunday.

Not a lot of fitness going on in Balser-land these days. Soon. In the meantime, here is a bunch of other stuff going on:

1. I got a new phone.

YES! iPhone5s for the win. My contract was almost up, so I successfully negotiated a new free phone as part of my new contract. It is so much faster than my old phone and the camera is so much better. I might stop hating photos now.

2. I joined Instagram.

Obligatory Instagram cat photo.

At least the photos I am now uploading to Instagram no longer suck. I’m still not entirely sure about Instagram, but I am giving it an honest effort. Follow me @Booksin140. I do not understand taking photos of your food. Or selfies. I am officially old.

3. I went to the beach.

And made a fire. It was good times. I totally recommend going to the beach on a weekday evening. It’s beautiful and calming and hardly anyone else there – the opposite of most weekend beach trips.

4. I downloaded a pedometer app.


I downloaded it on Friday and though the magic that is an iPhone, it back-dated my lack of fitness to make me feel bad about myself. And am now obsessed with hitting 10,000 steps a day. It’s hard, y’all. It also means carrying my phone with me ALL THE TIME, because I don’t want to miss any steps. I’m becoming a ridiculous person.

5. I think I want this iPhone running case.

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.48.00 AM

I never take my phone with me running because it’s big and annoying and the best place I’ve found to keep it is in my bra, where it’s still awkward and uncomfortable. But with this case, the YurBuds Race Case, I could have my phone with me, use it for my music instead of my iPod, use it for track splits, have a communication device on hand and maybe, maybe, start taking the obligatory on the run photos so many other bloggers do. Plus, I kinda like the idea of being balanced: water bottle in one hand, phone in the other. It’s $29.99 and I saw it in Canadian Running. Thoughts? Would it actually be useful or would I hate it? Someone send this to me so I can review it! That’s how this blogging thing is supposed to work, right?

6. Three of my friends had babies last weekend.

Seven days later, this still blows my mind.



Posted in Health & Wellness |

The NYC Marathon training plan

Is marathon training really starting all over again?

Yup. Damn you, NYC Marathon lottery.

The goal: A 4:15 or so marathon that’s strong, fun and evenly paced.

The plan: 4 runs a week, 1 strength-training session a week, 1 60 minute yoga session a week.

Training will begin on Sunday, July 20. Until then, I want to stay loose and stay in shape.

I need to remember: To foam roll and stretch more.

The races:

Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 3.04.46 PM

I am so glad Midsummer’s Night Run is back on the spit!

Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 3.06.07 PM

I’ve run the island twice before as part of the Island Girl Half-Marathon relay with Jill, but have never done this race. Looking forward to it!

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Andie and I agreed that a half-marathon in late September would be good training. Since the boyfriend’s parents live in Oakville, this is an easy solution! (Word on the Street is the same day, but I think I can do both – this race has a 7:45am start.)

Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 3.09.45 PM

I still find it ridiculous and amazing this is actually happening. I just hope I don’t hate running once it’s all over.



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