Running for Charity in Toronto

We did it! And what a great way to see the city of Toronto.

STWM5kaThis morning we ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 5K Charity Challenge in support of the Canadian Celiac Association. It was great! With a 5:30 am wake-up, and a 6:30 am hike to the shuttle buses, it was cold, but great!

STWM5kd

While normally we would push to run for a good finish time, this morning we took our time and tried to enjoy the scenery. After all, when else can you walk/run through the streets of Toronto without the worry of traffic or traffic lights? Still, we did break into a run several times and managed a decent finish time, so we’re happy. I’m so proud of our girls (who are not runners) who endure early wake-up calls and cold, dark mornings to participate in a sport that is not really their favourite. I’m even more proud to say they do it to raise funds to help others.

STWM5kcSTWM5ke

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was our first run in Toronto, but I can guarantee, it won’t be our last.


Registered for My First Half Marathon (and then some)

August 28th was registration day for the Star Wars Rival Run Weekend and I excitedly sat at my laptop at the stroke of noon and registered for the 10K run. Not the half. Yep, I know…so much for all my talk and the weeks of training I’d put in in anticipation of the half.

I will admit that my decision was made partly because of the price (I pay in Canadian dollars remember and was adding this expense to the cost of a solo trip to Walt Disney World Resort), and partly because I chickened out at the last minute.

But that decision haunted me almost immediately after I received my ‘thank you for registering’ email and somehow I felt unsettled. The chatter in my head began: running the half marathon and taking a solo trip booked around this runDisney event was supposed to be my 50th birthday present to myself. I had already booked everything, set aside just about all of the trip money, and put in weeks of training in anticipation of running a half with plenty of time left to complete my training. Add in an extra shift or two at work over the upcoming holidays, and I’d easily have the extra money it would require….So I had no excuse really. Except nerves.

Finally, on Friday, I could think of nothing else at work all day except how I’d let myself down. As soon as my shift ended I came home, sat down at my laptop once again, and registered for the half marathon (in addition to the 10K).

I’m happy to say I almost instantly felt at peace and happy. For a few minutes at least.

Then I had buyers remorse and kicked myself for not registering for the Challenge in the first place and potentially earning three medals instead of two (running the 10K + the half marathon = challenge medal).

Fortunately, I belong to a number of runDisney groups and with encouragement and support, I contacted the folks at runDisney who were happy to transfer my registration from the two individual events to the challenge.

 

Star Wars Rival Run Challenge Registration

Star Wars Rival Run Challenge Registration

 

So…I’m running the challenge! Yep, the 10K AND the half marathon.

Now I’m unsettled for a whole different reason. But in a good way.

 


Run Registration Day

It’s finally here: tomorrow is run registration day for the runDisney Star Wars Rival Run Weekend!

20180420_072139From past experience, I know that the runDisney events are very popular and sell out fast, so it’s imperative that you’re ready when it comes to registration day.

Here are a few things I’ve done and recommend to help with the registration process:

  1. Know Your Race Registration Date and Time. Okay, maybe this is obvious but I’m mentioning it anyway. This is key to getting into the race of your choice. These events sell out fast, and you need to be ready not only on the day of registration, but also at the moment the registration process opens (in this case, noon my time tomorrow). I’ve cleared my calendar and set a reminder alarm on my phone for one hour prior to the opening moment that will allow me time to get set up and be ready with all of my devices.
  2. Account Preparation. The registration process for runDisney events recently changed, so my first step was to go to the runDisney page and make sure my account was set up and ready to go. Don’t wait for registration day! Create and sign in to your page and get familiar with how it looks and works days in advance.
  3. Know Your Information. Past experience has taught me what information to have ready when I register: the exact race or challenge I want, estimated finish time or proof of time (POT), t-shirt size, etc. You don’t want to waste time trying to figure this out once the registration window is open. The new registration process also allows you to register more than one participant at once, so know who you’re registering.
  4. Light or Dark Side? This year, the Star Wars Run Weekend is a rival run and that means choosing to run for either the light side or the dark side. This one required no thinking for me…but I’ll let you know which one I chose in a later post.

So I’m as ready as I can be, and if all goes well, there are just 219 days left to go!

 

 

 


Marathon Training Continues…week 6

Yep, still running and still training!

bday shots

balloons

Ok, truthfully, it was my 50th birthday on the weekend and I did take some time off from running, but not from exercise. It’s been pretty hot here and things were crazy given we were in party planning mode, so I focused more on core and strength training last week, rather than putting in the miles.

Party over, celebrating done, house back in order…it’s now time to jump back in. And I’m happy to say I’m jumping back in with a couple new items.

After listening to my frequent rants over my issues with my old running watch (I won’t name names here), my husband lovingly gave me a new Garmin Forerunner 35 for my birthday. I love it!

Instantly, the fit was so much more comfortable than my old watch and it’s definitely a better size for my wrist. While I haven’t used it just yet, it is out and synced to my phone, charged and ready to go. Now I just need to read the manual and figure out all the features.

gifts

And…In the spirit of wearing things on your wrist while running…my fabulous husband also surprised me with a Magic Kingdom 45th Anniversary Limited Edition Dumbo MagicBand! Dumbo is one of my favourite Disney characters and I had my eye on this beauty some time ago but never picked it up. So hubby did…and apparently (according to our paperwork) he managed to order the last one in stock. It’s the perfect item for my solo trip to Walt Disney World in the spring. gifts b

So thanks to my better half, I’m now ready to continue my marathon training in style with (hopefully) a little less frustration, and I look forward to running my next runDisney event with my pal, Dumbo.

Let week six begin!

 


What’s for Breakfast? (Tuna Cakes Recipe)

Let’s talk breakfast.

If you’re like me, you’ve got four or five go-to choices that you rotate through for your morning meal (and you’re probably getting tired of them), but what are they and how different are our choices from someone else’s?

I never really thought much about it until this past week at work when my boss and I shared a funny moment. First thing in the morning, I had to make a Tex-Mex salad that contained cilantro (not one of my favourite herbs) and jalapeno. As a chef, I have to taste everything I make and salad is no exception. Testing for seasoning, I jokingly commented ‘there’s nothing like eating cilantro and jalapeno first thing in the morning’ and made a nasty face as I tasted my forkful. My boss looked up and said ‘this from the girl who has tuna for breakfast.’

Tuna Cakes, Chef at Heart

Gluten-Free Tuna Cakes, Chef at Heart

It’s true. I eat tuna for breakfast. Tuna cakes are one of my go-to options in the morning. Full of chopped vegetables and quinoa flakes, they’re a perfect breakfast option for me: sometimes with an egg, sometimes with toast, sometimes on toast as a tuna melt.

I’m not a cereal or pancake person so I guess I don’t have your standard breakfast favourites. Typically I rotate through:

  • tuna cakes (with or without egg or toast)
  • toasted salmon salad sandwich
  • breakfast burrito
  • breakfast hash (with sweet potato, red peppers, onion, egg, salsa…whatever)
  • poached eggs and toast
  • egg on an English muffin, sandwich style
Disney's Kona coffee and donuts

Disney’s Kona Blend coffee and donuts

These are my norms and I think nothing of them (none of them contain cilantro or jalapeno), and all of them are always accompanied with a big mug of coffee (for the safety of others of course).

My one rule is ALWAYS breakfast. I never skip it. Sure there are days I don’t want much or I don’t feel like cooking something, but on those days I’ll grab or defrost a muffin, some berries, a banana with peanut butter, or indulge in my favourite treat, a Disney-style donut. But always something.

Even when we go out for breakfast, I stick to the old stand-by of eggs and toast, but I think that has more to do with being gluten-free and the lack of safe options more-so than anything else. Unless of course I’m at Walt Disney World where I can get a buffet of choices… but that’s a whole other post for a later date.

I’m sharing my tuna cake recipe with you and hopefully you’ll share some of your favourite breakfast options as well. I’m always looking for new and different ideas!

TUNA CAKES

  • 4 x 170g cans of flaked tuna, drained
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup quinoa flakes (or you can susbstitute gluten-free breadcrumbs)
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • finely chopped vegetables of your choice *optional (I like to add red peppers & celery)
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Combine the tuna, eggs, quinoa, vegetables, and mayonnaise in a bowl. Feel free to make it your own here..add lemon zest, parmesan cheese, chives, whatever you like.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Gluten-free Tuna Cakes, Chef at Heart

Gluten-free Tuna Cakes, Chef at Heart

Divide the mixture and shape into 8-10 cakes (depending on your size preference).

Gluten-free tuna cake patties, Chef at Heart

Gluten-free tuna cake patties, Chef at Heart

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Brown the cakes in batches, approx. 3-5 minutes per side, or until browned and heated through. Serve.

You can also cool the browned cakes on a rack, wrap individually with plastic wrap, and freeze. Thaw them overnight in the fridge and reheat in a skillet.

Note: I tend to just lightly brown mine knowing I will freeze and reheat them again later in order to avoid overcooking the cakes. If you are cooking them to serve immediately, you should brown them as needed, ensuring they are heated and cooked through.

Gluten-free Tuna Cakes, Chef at Heart

Gluten-free Tuna Cakes, Chef at Heart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Planning a Solo Walt Disney World Trip

After years of dreaming about it, I’m finally doing it: I’ve booked my first solo trip to Walt Disney World.

I love my family and our crazy busy Disney vacations, but this one I’m doing just for me. No FastPasses, no hectic dining schedule, no racing through the parks at breakneck speed not really seeing it all or taking it all in… This trip will all be about enjoying the gluten-free side of Disney parks and resorts, taking time to enjoy all the sites and sounds, and of course running.

Planning a Disney vacation at this point is fairly straight-forward for us. We know which resort we want, we always get the deluxe dining plan, everyone has their favourite must-do rides and restaurants…no questions. But this time it took a lot of extra thought on my part. I’ve never been able to book whatever I want when it comes to resorts, dining, parks, or plans. Sure I’ve gone off on my own for a few hours at a stretch, but never have I had DAYS to myself. And yes, I’ve been able to select a couple must-do items that I’ve wanted for most of our trips, but again, not anything and everything for full DAYS at a time. This time, planning each detail seemed a little daunting. There were so many questions.

When to Travel?

Star Wars Half Marathon - Dark Side 5K, April 2018

Star Wars Half Marathon – Dark Side 5K, April 2018

The first question I faced was when to go. That was fairly easy. I knew I wanted to go with the idea of celebrating my 50th birthday (in August), and I want to participate in what will be my second runDisney event. I’m also Canadian and I wouldn’t want to book a trip through the worst of the winter months and risk travel issues or cancellations due to weather, so I chose the spring and the Star Wars Rival Run Weekend. The registration for this event opens in August (Happy Birthday to me) and I completed the Star Wars Dark Side 5K run last year. As a Star Wars fan, I would love to do it again..but bigger (longer?). So I’m training with April in mind and will keep my fingers crossed I get into the run of my choice.

Where to Stay?

Question number two. I’m happy to say, our family has been to Walt Disney World a number of times and we’ve always stayed on property, so I’m pretty familiar with most of the resorts. My biggest issues here were whether or not to stay on the monorail line, and of course, my budget.

First, I thought of all of our past trips, and the one memory that stood out the most in my mind was our stay at Disney’s Beach Club Resort and walking along the boardwalk into Epcot early one morning for a pastry in France before the park was open to everyone. It was so quiet and peaceful and the chance to take World Showcase photos without anyone else in them was priceless.

Secondly, I considered all the things I want to do while I’m there. I’m a huge Star Wars fan and want to do all things Star Wars, so being in the Boardwalk area and close to Hollywood Studios seemed the right choice. Not to mention, the runDisney event I want will likely start at Epcot (it has in the past), so staying closer to the park might mean a few extra winks the night before the run. Very important when you consider the races start at 5:30 am.

Problem solved: Disney’s Yacht Club Resort.

Disney Dining Plan or No Dining Plan?

I’m a chef and my kids are a couple of foodies, so we always get a dining plan (usually deluxe) and enjoy some of Disney’s finest dining options when we go on vacation. But I’m likely going during Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival (the exact dates have not yet been announced), and this time I want to try all the gluten-free food options I can at the outdoor kitchens around World Showcase. In light of this, I don’t think I’ll be sitting down to eat enough to make the deluxe plan worth it for just myself, so while I’ll still take a dining plan option, I’m going a little more basic for this trip: 2 snack options, 1 quick-service, and 1 table-service each day.

The Disney Countdown is On

Magic Kingdom, September 2017

Magic Kingdom, September 2017

That’s the plan so far. My flight is booked and paid for, my resort reservation made, and I’ve already linked my registration and customized my MagicBand in my My Disney Experience account.

Next hurdle: the runDisney Star Wars Rival Run Weekend registration date, August 28th, and successfully registering for the run of my choice (10K, half, both?).

Trip countdown: just 258 days to go!

 


My First Half

I haven’t written in a while so I have a lot to catch up on. First things first (no pun intended)..I’ve decided to move beyond the 5K runs and I’m training for my first half marathon.

My plan is to register (successfully) for the runDisney Star Wars Rival Run Weekend at Walt Disney World and run the half marathon in April 2019. I’m absolutely committed: my flight is already paid for and my resort selected and booked.

Star Wars Half Marathon - Dark Side, April 2018

Star Wars Half Marathon – Dark Side, April 2018

I ran the 5K in the Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side Run Weekend last April with my husband and our daughters, and fell in love with runDisney events. It was the perfect event to run as a family, but I finished wishing I’d had the challenge of a timed event and I knew at the finish line that I’d be back.

Star Wars Half Marathon - Dark Side 5K medal, April 2018

Star Wars Half Marathon – Dark Side 5K medal, April 2018

So my original plan was to sign up for the 10K next April, but I have plenty of time to train before the August registration day arrives, so why not start the training program now under the hot Canadian summer sun and aim for the half.

And that’s what I’m doing. This year (this August actually- same as the marathon registration month) will mark my 50th birthday, so this is my present to myself.

My first step was to download the Jeff Galloway Half Marathon Beginners Training Program (you can find all the training programs here). Due to GI health issues in the past, I have always followed a run/walk method at my doctors suggestion, so using this method in training for a half seemed the best way to go in my case. I also joined an online run walk interval fan group so I have constant support from those with experience and tips using this training method.

My second step was to schedule my training days. I actually put the runs into my calendar on my phone. That way, I am not likely to book appointments or make plans that will cause me to skip my sessions.

Thirdly, I ordered an interval timer. Fortunately, I already run (albeit shorter distances) so I have the clothing I need and the water belt I prefer, but unfortunately, the sport watch I currently use doesn’t have a timer function. I quickly found that trying to track intervals without one was frustrating and distracting and the timer was a must-have item.

So here I am, in my second week now of the training program. I’m still playing with finding the best interval times that work for me but I’m running around the 15 min/mile pace at this point. I run three times a week, and do strength training and Pilates for cross-training.

I will be sure to keep posting on my progress. And if you’re planning on running the Star Wars Rival Weekend too, I hope to see you there!