Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008...

The end of another year. Time to reflect upon where we have come from and to take stock of who we are and how much we have to be grateful for. And there is just so much...

2008 was another fantastic year for me and one that I managed to find more balance than I ever imagined. I devoted more time to travel, family and friends and finally started to figure out how to work smarter not just harder at ELM (although this year is shaping up to play out a bit differently- still hiring!).
I had a super race season and picked my favorite races to focus on- nailing the top 2 female spot in every race I entered (toot toot I know). 3 First place MOMARs, 2nd place in the Kusam Klimb and 1st female at the Log Train Trail Half. Best of all I cleaned up my races, shaved off time and continued to learn to race smarter. AND my body has been a superstar, taking it all in stride (with lots of care and recovery time). For this I am unimaginably grateful.

At ELM we had another wonderful year...our 7th and most fun yet! I could list highlights from each day or week of the past year but don't worry ... I won't! Instead, here is my:


1. Super Fast and Super Cool ELM Race Jerseys released!

2. Team ELM Women swipes Silver at Snow2Surf!

3. ELM Members snowshoe extravaganza at Coastal Trek Lodge!

4. ELM Women kick but at the Victoria Times Colonist 10k!

5. Sarah contributes to Canadian Running - the best new mag in Canada!

6. ELM Women West Coast Fitness Retreat (the best so far!)

7. ELM Trail Runners kick up dust at the Log Train Trail!

8. Elk River Falls trail run led by Cindy Steuart in August!

9. ELM Raises over $300 and a kitchen full of food for our Christmas Hamper!

10. Oh Yeah and Team ELM Women kick snow and score 2nd in the YETI!

??? What do YOU think was the best of ELM in 2008??? Let me know!

Best wishes for a Happy New Year...Health and Happiness in 2009!



PS See you next year:)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Realize your dreams: 'Poco a poco'

I am thoroughly enjoying this beautiful winter wonderland! We made it back to the Valley on Sunday after enjoying a great week visiting friends and family in Victoria. Check out my silly sister and I as we whiz down Beacon 'Hill' on a crazy carpet ... on a sheet of ice ... weeeee!'

"Poco a Poco" aka 'Bit by bit' en Espanol

ELM has had a real holiday but it is back to work today for me! I have missed my clients and it is great to reconnect after the time away, take stock of where they currently are and set the bar higher for the coming year. My clients all know the importance of goal setting (or at least why I think it is important!!) and setting new goals this January will be nothing new to them. Every few months or after a set of goals is realized we work on looking ahead and dangle a new carrot to chase. Not only do goals motivate us to continue putting one foot in front of the other, they challenge us to knock down self imposed limitations and blast through our own glass ceilings. Onward and upward folks!

Take some time this week to reflect on your own dreams and goals for the coming year. Dream big. Then start small. Break your goals down into action steps that will inspire you to continue moving in the right direction. Once you build some momentum your inertia will carry you to places you never dreamed. Believe me. I see it happen every day.

What are my goals for 2009? I have started to do some thinkin'...

Here are my race goals SO FAR in order:

1. Beat my time UP Mt. Kusam (sub 1hr 59 minutes).

2. Complete an expedition adventure race - tentatively Full Moon in June.

3. Kill my race times in both MOMARs.

4. Race in at least 1 XC or Marathon Mountain bike race.

The list will only grow...perhaps you have some suggestions for me???

I set goals for life, work and play cause that is just how I work. I am a list ticking, goal setting, type a (note little 'a') kinda gal. I continue to set big goals for ELM and I am super duper excited for you to be a part of them!

Stay tuned for ELM's new brand, new programs and new projects on 2009!

Cheers to bigger and better adventures in 2009!


Monday, December 22, 2008

Cruise Pics

Hurray!  Our luggage just arrived after 3 long days with my only mini toothbrush and flipflops:) I have been enjoying long snowy walks through Beacon Hill Park, along Dallas road and into town (borrowed my Uncles size 12 boots and 70s ski jacket:).  Walking is about all the fitness I have been able to achieve without my pack full of clothes.  But tomorrow I hope to get a run or spin in- I wish I had x-country ski's down here!!  

The cruise actually allowed me to follow my training program pretty closely as there was a cardio equipment stocked gym and the best outdoor 400m track on the 14th deck!  I did interval training on the track while watching the sun rise out of the sea and set the Baja on fire with golden hues.  I also pulled off some longer workouts with a combination of treadmill running, spinning and rowing in the gym on the colder/wetter days at the start and end of our cruise.  SO weird to run on a treadmill while the boat is rolling over huge swell!  And it just about killed me to run for 30 minutes on the treadmill.  It took every ounce of mental focus to keep running and not push the stop button.  I can run for 5 hours in the bush and up mountains but 30 minutes on the treadmill was complete and utter torture!  I am so lucky to live in such an outdoor paradise- the Comox Valley.  Miles of forest paths and endless scenic vistas that make 'exercise' more like 'paradise'.  

The Christmas lights and decorations are up...the holiday tunes playlist is ready to go and tomorrow we will get our Christmas dinner shopping done before the rush.  I am looking forward to a few days filled with friends, family and Christmas spirit:)  


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Not in Kansas...

Woah!  What a welcome home!  Got a real shock getting off the plane and stepping into a subzero winter wonderland!  Our timing couldn't have been better for the trip as blizzard conditions cancelled flights before and after we got off the ground in both directions.   We got into Victoria last night and I have decided not to drive up island for my 2 day work week as the forcast is for more snow and I am sure the highway is full of carnage (I drove down island last week in a blizzard doing 40kph with the rest of traffic and witnessed countless accidents).    

So here I am at my sisters home looking out at a winterscape in Beacon Hill Park...with nothing but flipflops and my lululemon pants to wear cause the airline lost our luggage!!!:))) eiyeiyeiyei...

A quick update for ya:  The cruise was a riot and we had a 'fabulous time darling'.  Never in my life did I ever imagine myself on a cruiseship but voila there I was with my 5 cousins, 2 sisters and the grandpuba of it all my grandpa on a 14 story cruiseship (along with 2400 other passengers and 1200 crew).  7 days...3 sweet days in Mexico...plenty of guacamole and margaritas...cabaret shows...gourmet meals...and plenty of memories to last us for a while:) 

So I am staying in Victoria at my sisters and the office will open up again after Christmas on the 29th.  Program registration for January adventures is ongoing so be sure to check out the website for all the details::

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season with your friends and family:)  Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Holiday Bootcamp Crew...just before sunrise this morning at the Comox Marina Park...our last Bootcamp class of 2008!

It is part of my mission to motivate and inspire you every day. But really, everyday I am inspired by YOU. Here is a letter from an ELM volunteer run leader after this weekends Jingle Bell Run...

Hi Sarah

I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that three of our newly graduated Learn to Run ladies were at the Jingle Bell Run. They are clearly embracing their new life as a runner.

Maria and Maureen our novice runners did very well for themselves but I wanted to let you know that Danielle did so well. Her pace is really good and we did 10:1 (10:2 a couple of times) and she finished in about 56 minutes. She did such a great job and I am so proud. Kind of an emotional moment for her but now she is really spurred on to get ready for the 10K clinic in February.

What a great day for a run in the woods and we have the mud on ourselves to prove it.

Take care


I am off to Victoria tomorrow morning and then by plane, car and finally cruiseship I will make my way to Mexico for a few days of fun in the sun. Sorry...but you will need to survive without the ELM blog for 1 week...but I am sure my post cruise tales will more than make up for the break:) Search up some other blogs in your area of interest this just never know what you might find...



Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Quote for Wednesday

Your biggest challenge isn't someone else. It's the ache in your lungs and
the burning in your legs, and the voice inside you that yells, "CAN'T", but you don't listen. You just push harder. And then you hear the voice
whisper, "can." And you discover that the person you though you were is no match for the one you really are. - Unknown

Now THAT is a quote to remember. Remember? That self talk I was blogging about? Dig in...dig deep...hang on...
I hope you are having a wonderful week! The picture above is the view from inside my biking glasses today. I snuck out for a quick ride from my house during lunch today cause...well just cause it was sooooo beautiful out AGAIN! Flying home was all downhill with a stream of mud flying in my face. Good times!
3 more sleeps until we are cruisin!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

VO2max and Lactate Testing

Audrey post test and Me just before the test (all smiles:)

Oh what fun!

On Saturday I spent half an hour running on a treadmill attached to a snorkel hose and headgear while being tortured by exercise physiologists who were taking blood from my fingertip every 3 minutes. Peak Training came from Vancouver with their mobile lab.

This was awesome actually. I have not done a VO2 lab test in about 10 years (since University) and I have never done a Lactate test for running (only cycle ergometer). V.Cool indeed. I have done VO2max tests on the treadmill and in the field while digging fire gaurd and running hose in firefighting simulating tests (all while hooked up to the snorkel, hose and wearing an O2 tank on my back:). I am an exercise phys nut and LOVE pouring over the results, spotting correlations and creating training plans with all the data. Sometimes I wish I could go back to Uni just to play in the lab:)

Anyways it was a good test and I think I was quite near my max. Funny, it wasn't my lungs or breathing that made me quit but rather my leg speed. I just didn't think I would be able to keep up the speed at the next level without falling off the back of the treadmill! SO weird to voluntarily quit! Never in my training or racing does quit enter my mind until the finish line. I am constantly pacing myself to sustain various effort levels or durations. Constantly finding the balance that will allow me to keep going. Quitting does not exist in my world. Unless of course there is an injury or illness that I am taking care of. So, to be required to pull the pin and decide when you have had enough was a very novel experience...

I kind of wish that I had known what speed someone else had done so I could have a number to try and beat. Give me a bar and I will do everything I can to raise it. But I was the last to be tested and there was no one else around. Just me and my mind. I played quite a few mental strategies/games during the test and all with instant results. I realize the direct control our thoughts have over our sense of fatigue and yesterdays test was no exception! Positive self talk is an amazing tool that you have to start training with if you aren't already. I believe that individuals who can talk themselves out of pain and fatigue are much more successful in pushing towards their genetic training limits. If you want to improve you have to train your thoughts as well as your body. Food for thought!

So the results are very cool and include: VO2Max, Lactate predicted HeartRate Zones as well as fuel usage at each intensity. This is the gold standard that all other field tests are compared against and it was a great opportunity to participate in this mobile lab. Now I must crunch numbers and incorporate all of this awesome data into my own personal plan as well as my clients training programs. Good fun!

Friday/Saturday were rest days for me this week as I will supposed to avoid intense activity for 2 days leading up to the test. Today, however, I was back on the bike and LOVING this beautiful sunny December day! Great ride in Cumby: 2andaJuice, BuggeredPig, up the road to BearBuns, OffBroadway, ShortandCurly, Soggy Biscuit, Matts and Spaace Nugget. Great ride and my bike took me down some new steep sections! Hurray!

One more week till I am cruisin...


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Holiday Kick Off!

Good Morning!
I couln't sleep in this morning and have been puttering around the house since 6am so I thought I would do a quick post and say hello to those other earlybirds!

Last night Lene from Extreme Runners and I from ELM hosted our annual joint Customer Appreciation Night at Lene's store. It was so fun! I had a great time chatting with ELM participants and it was refreshing to see everyone in street clothes- no ponytales or running tights! We had around 80? people attend the open house and it was just great to have some time to visit with everyone outside of our usual training time. And there was some serious shopping going on too! Great deals were available and everyone took advantage of the opportunity to shop for healthy fitness gear and programs whilst snacking on appies and sipping lovely wine.

I made 2 versions of my famous energy balls and they were snatched up pretty on for the recipe!

The party was a great way to kick off the holiday season. The christmas lights and tree were put up...presents were wrapped...the Christmas Hamper was overflowing with generous donations...the band was playing most excellent tunes in the background...and the true indicator of the holidays?? Baileys and Hot Chocolate were in the house! mmmmm.

Thank you to all of you who came down for a visit and made a donation to our hampers! They are full to the brim and it really is an amazing feeling to be a part of such generosity- thank you! The WINNERS of the hamper draw prizes are....drum roll....
FREE Pair of Shoes from Extreme Runners...Scott Sutherland!!! Congrats!
FREE 10 class punch card from ELM...Maureen Houlihan!!! Congrats!
Give either of us a shout to pick up your prize:)

Finally a HUGE thank you to my fearless leaders for helping out last night at the party! We had the cutest bartenders ever and Kathy was a superstar at the registration table...thank you!

TODAY: I am doing something interesting...
Peak Performance is bringing their mobile testing lab over from Vancouver and I will be participating in a personal assessment of my VO2Max and Lactate Threshold during a running treadmill test. I haven't had the opportunity to do this lab test since leaving University (many moons ago now) and I am looking forwar to it! Stay tuned to the blog for all the gorey details manana...

Have a great weekend and read on for the newest NrG balls recipe:

Energy Balls:
1cup oats,
1/2cup wheat germ,
1/8cup flaxseed,
1/4cup sesame seed,
1cup shredded coconut,
1/2 cup sunflower seeds,

1/3 cup raisins or cranberries
1/2 cup natural peanut butter,
1/4 cup honey,
1tbs molasses,

Mix altogether, Roll into balls and dip 1/2 into melted chocolate if desired.
**My favorites substitute the sunflower seeds for white chocolate and almonds!*

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My Faithful Sidekick

I have had the wonderful albeit very rare gift of running with my faithful sidekick (and hands down all time favorite running buddy- sorry!) not once but twice this week!

With a break in the clinic schedule I have taken the opportunity to hit my back 40 trails with my pooch Yuki and the weather could not have been better this week! On Monday we ran a 45 min loop from the house that included my usual time trial loop to gauge my anaerobic threshold fitness. Great and suprising news at this point in the season as I took off 25 seconds from my last 6:00min trial in January!! This was a pleasant suprise and got me psyched to put together my personal training plan for 2009 this week.
On Wednesday we snuck off for another quick loop from the house - this time with GPS in hand. I am having fun with the gps and plotting out some new trails that I hope to flag and cut this winter. Yes, this is how I like to spend my spare time:)
Yuki was a trooper and stuck by my side even though he hasn't been running in months and he is only getting older. The best running buddy:) He waits for me at the corners...He checks on me if I stop or slow down...He warns me when others are approaching...He makes me laugh by acting silly...I swear he laughs at my jokes...And I have no doubt that he would fight to the death for me if I was ever in trouble. Thank you Yuki!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Perseverance Pics Online!

Hawaiian princess Lo Lanning leads the charge across Sykes bridge before heading up Bear Buns...

The long wait is finally over...hundreds of Perseverance Trail Run pics are now posted online! Follow the link below to view them. A HUGE thank you to Aimee and Kirstin for volunteering as community race photographers! You did a wonderful job!

A Quote for Wednesday

I often find comfort and inspiration in the thoughtful words of others and wanted to share one of my favorite quotes. This one is SO true and frequently helps me put my trivial problems into perspective:

There has never been, nor will there ever be, a life free from
problems. It is not the presence of problems but how we tackle them that
determines the quality of our lives.


Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Bike Rides, Baileys and Buddies

Eagleshead. Post a comment if you know where this landmark is!

Ahhhhhh the weekend. I had a great time playing this weekend! I love that my training falls often under the header 'playing'. The weather was warm, foggy and a bit wet...the trails were slippery, greasy and full of gumboot riding buddies were joyous and full of good spirits. And on one ride my thermos was full of hotchocolate and baileys! Woah- breaking all the rules!

Here is what I was up to:
12:45pm. Pissing rain and windy. ALMOST bailed but Lene pulled me out of my moment of insanity and we rode on. Starting from Stotan falls we bike an old-turned-new trail right along the Puntledge rivers edge...Twisted Sister! Gnarly, rooty, muddy and pure greasy technical fun! We even rode through a dead fish on the trail- gross! We ended up playing and exploring new trails (to us) for about 1.5hours before having to get home and get back to work. Wet, worked and invigorated we had a great ride!

10:30am-1:30pm. Pissing rain but warm. Brad and I took off for the Comox Lake Dam to work on a 'special project'. Armed with a GPS, flagging tape, jiffy marker and a thermos full of warm your belly goodness we began our mission. Some of you may know about the mission that I have taken on this fall but some of you may not: Establish permanent kilometre markers along the Puntledge River trail network - with the dream of marking the entire 18kish loop from the Dam to Duncan Bay Main road and back. BCHydro and the Regional District have been fantastic and they have come on board with enthusiasm to support the project. So on Saturday we began the task of GPSing the kms along the river trail. We made it to Twister along the river trail and enjoyed the scenery along the way at Nymph Falls. We decided to pack away the GPS and marking gear and just RIDE the bike trails all the way back. We will complete the remainder of the route in the coming weeks with the goal of completing the project before the end of this winter! Here are some shots...

Our faithful companions...Brads super oldschool Cove hardtail(right) with those old fashioned caliper brakes and my super new tech Giant Reign...and guess who kicks my but repeatedly?

Nymph Falls fish ladder...and me enjoying a sip from the thermos:)

Beautiful fogscape at Nymph Falls....

Saturday 7:45pm-?. Went to the Waverly to see Dehli2Dublin perform! They were awesome! And the big news is I actually stayed up late enough to see them! I have wanted to hear this band for a while now but I have never been able to stay awake long enough:) Anyways, we had a great time and the house was rockin with electric fiddles and sitars. The band pumps out a fast tribal beat that combines Celtic and Bangrah (sp?) beats...super high energy! Check them out:

Sunday: 9:30am-12noon. Weekly Rat Ride. We made our way up Forbidden plateau road from Nymph Falls Park and deeked into the bush on a new connector trail that cut off a bit of the climb up to B21. Then it was all downhill on a brand new XC trail that was just amazing. It took us through dense dark forest, open rock bluffs and through forest tunnels that were once logging roads. V. fun. And we actually ran into the infamous 'Hughe' and his dog who have been working tirelessly for months and probably years on these fantastic new XC trails. It was nice to have a chance to say thank you to the man who has put in so many hours of work to create so many wonderful kms of trail! Thank you!

We spit out on the Plundge to our suprise and made our way home via Bears Bait. GOOD TIMES!

Looking forward to the week! I would LOVE to hear your adventures too! Where have YOU been playing in the woods??