MELSAYS PODCAST – EP. 14 – Sarah Leanne Hart

photo: Doerte Pietron

Welcome to another edition of the MELSAYS PODCAST!

My guest for this episode is Sarah Leanne Hart. Sarah is a climber and she was MEC’s first ever ambassador, and still is to this day. She has traveled the world doing some epic climbs and is considered to be an “all-arounder”, climbing at an elite level, in different climbing disciplines. In addition to climbing, she also works as a facilitator for groups of women and girls. I had such a lovely time speaking with her at her home in Squamish a few weeks back, I hope you’ll enjoy our chat.

The podcast is just one click away or you can also listen to it below. If you enjoyed our chat, make sure you subscribe to the MELSAYS PODCAST here -> iTunes and Google Play.

 

Apple Watch Series 4 Highlights

I recently received the new Apple Watch Series 4 and after a few weeks with the watch, I wanted to share with you a few standout highlights. I haven’t done a tech review like this in a while so hopefully this will be helpful for those thinking about potentially investing in a watch.

1) Heart Rate Monitor – Something that I’ve used quite a bit while training. The new monitor checks your heart rate throughout the day and also checks for unusually high or low heart rates as well as lets you know if something is irregular. You can also get all your heart rate information via the Health App (which you can also use for sleep, nutrition, activity, mindfulness and more!).

There’s also the new fall detection feature (the accelerometer and gyroscope detects if you’ve fallen plus if you are unresponsive for more than 60 seconds an emergency call will automatically be placed for you) and Emergency SOS feature that allows you to call 911 as well as notify your emergency contact plus send your current location and Medical ID badge for emergency personnel.

2) Updated Workout App – This comes with new workout options such as Hiking and Yoga. Having this new hiking option is a great way to keep tabs on vertical gains and how long you’ve been hiking for.

Another watch improvement is for runners; there are new pace alerts that lets you know whether you’re ahead or behind your desired pace. The cadence metrics also lets you see your steps per minute plus the rolling miles allows you to see the split for your previous mile at any point in time.

If you workout at the gym, you can easily pair your watch with compatible gym equipment, which will help sync accurately heart rate, speed and calories between the machine and your watch. The sync can be done with just a tap of the watch on the machine. (Find out more about the GymKit feature here)

It’s also easy to connect your watch to other fitness apps such as the Nike Training Club, Strava, all of which, will get you credit towards your activity rings.

Finally, the automatic workout detection helps you out if ever you’ve forgotten to start your workout app and you’ve already started to exercise, gone for a walk, etc.

Once you finish a workout, you’ll also now receive an update on your activity rings integrated right into your workout summary, which is neat.

3) Timer – The new version of the timer allows users to repeat their timer as many times as they want once the pre-determined time is up. This is a great update especially when working out because you no longer have to reset the timer, you can just easily press “repeat” on your watch and you’re ready for the next round.

4) Podcast – I love listening to podcasts via the podcast app on my watch and connecting my watch via bluetooth to my Airpods. The bigger watch face allows for greater detail on the podcast that I’m listening to. Listening to podcasts wirelessly while running or working out feels pretty amazing.

5) Watch faces – There are tons of new customizable watch faces available with the new Series 4 watch. You now have access to cool new info such as air quality, UV index, current temperature plus heart rate, music, workout, etc. You can easily customize your watch face from A to Z so you have everything you need right on your home screen and never need to go searching for it!

6) Wallet – Though I have yet to use Apple Pay via my new watch, I love having my boarding passes as well as race confirmations and event tickets directly on my watch. It’s been incredibly useful when traveling or when I don’t have my phone handy.

There are many additional features on this smartwatch but these are some of the ones that really stand out for me at the moment. I really believe the Apple Watch Series 4 to be the best all-around watch out there on the market. It’s really been a game changer for me in all aspects of my life from training to work to every day tasks.

For more info on the Apple Watch Series 4, go here.

MELSAYS PODCAST – EP. 13 – Jen Segger

Photo credit: Hilary Matheson

Stoked to be releasing a new episode of the podcast today!

My guest for this episode is Jen Segger, she is a global endurance coach, an adventure athlete, an expedition run guide and the head coach for Run Like A Girl. She is a badass athlete and incredibly successful coach based out of Squamish, British Columbia. Thrilled to have her on the podcast today, she recently completed the Primal Quest Expedition Adventure Race in British Columbia earlier this fall and placed 2nd with her team. Let’s find out more about her story.

The podcast is just one click away or you can also listen to it below. If you enjoyed our chat, make sure you subscribe to the MELSAYS PODCAST here -> iTunes and Google Play.

How to Train for your Last Race of the Year

As the year is coming to an end, you may have already completed all of the races you had set out to accomplish this year… Or some of you may be like me and still have a few on the docket before the year’s end.

Training for a race late in the year can have its challenges especially if you’ve been training for races since the beginning of the year.

My last official road race for 2018 will be the Malibu Half Marathon taking place on Sunday November 4th in none-other than gorgeous Malibu, California. I picked this race as my last of the season for several reasons. First, I knew that I would be able to have some stunning ocean views throughout the 21.1km course. Second, it would be a nice sunny break from the usually rainy Vancouver at that time of the year. Third, I love doing destination races, they’re my absolute favourite way to get to know different parts of the world. This year is the race’s 10th anniversary so I know it will be an extra special one!

The last half marathon that I did this year dates back to the end of June in Vancouver so it’s been a while since I’ve been running longer distances. I spent a lot of my summer running trails or hiking and not so much on the road so amping up with more distance right before the end of the year can sometimes be tricky.

This year, I was faced with a few health setbacks so the last thing I want to do leading up to the race on November 4th is get injured. So I’ve been extra careful to follow a little self-imposed training plan leading up to the Malibu Half Marathon.

Here are a few key tips leading up to your last race of the year:

1) Rest Days are necessary. Your body may be tired at this time of year, especially if you spent your summer being active. Therefore, it’s that much more important to prioritize proper rest days throughout the weeks leading up to the race. I usually give myself 1 full rest day a week and sometimes opt for a 2nd day where I’ll do lower impact activities such as climbing, yoga, swimming or just going for a walk. I also try to space out my runs so that I’m not running crazy distances back to back to give my body proper time to recover.

2) Cross-training. Some runners opt not to cross-train while preparing for a race but for me, this has become super crucial in developing more strength in my legs, upper body, core and has helped me become a better/faster runner. I tend to do 1-2 spin classes a week as well as 1-2 circuit HIIT classes a week with weights, props, etc. I’ve also loved swimming and climbing as a great strength workout.

3) Yoga/Stretching. If there’s one thing I’ve learned this past year with my health setbacks is the importance of stretching, foam rolling and attending yoga weekly. The folks over at Myodetox in Vancouver/Toronto and soon LA (new location opening up in West Hollywood next month!) have put together great guides for stretching particularly designed for runners. You can check out some of their articles online here. I’ve also been attending at least 1 yoga session a week to help with my flexibility and recovery. I often just opt for a restorative Yin Yoga, which works wonders. I also make sure to stretch and foam roll before and after my runs (almost always!).

4) Sleep. If you want your body to recover, you need to sleep. You can’t increase your mileage every week leading up to a race and not get some good sleep. Lately, I’ve started reading a lot more before going to bed. I find it’s the most relaxing thing to do. It also pretty much ensures I pass out and don’t wake up until the next morning. If you can, turn off your phone 30-60 mins before going to bed and focus on doing other things: mindfulness, reading, relaxing, etc. I’ve been using the new “Screen Time” function on my iPhone X to help limit the time I’m on my phone, especially in the evening.

5) Nutrition. I’ve been 100% vegan for almost two years now and eating plant-based has completed changed the way I feel while training. I no longer feel nauseous at night, no longer have stomach and digestion issues and also feel like I recover a lot faster from all of my workouts. Being plant-based doesn’t work for everyone but for me it’s been monumental in my training. I make certain to take a greens blend every morning that has a lot of the nutrients that I could potentially lack (magnesium, calcium, iodine, b12, zinc, etc.) by being plant-based. I’m not certain I whole heartedly believe in too much carb loading, but hearty meals before a race and drinking lots of water a week or so before a race, are super important.

Other than that, I’ve been trying to do a little more speed and interval work but still find myself struggling with hill repeats, which is what usually kills me during races. Luckily all the hiking and trail running I’ve been doing in recent months have helped but it’s always good to plan for at least one track or hill workout a week. That said, because I’m no pro athlete and still have to spend most of my days working, getting all that stuff in can sometimes feel a little overwhelming, so at the end of the day, I just try to listen to my body and do as much as I can to be the healthiest and strongest I can be.

Excited for next weekend’s race! Maybe I’ll see you there? If not, make sure to follow along on Instagram @melsays!

#RUN2EXPLORE – Paris

Two years ago this fall, I created a running series as I was traveling across Canada for the television show I was working on. Titled 13 Cities, 13 Runs (you can check it out here), this series was a fun way for me to share some of the discoveries that I made while exploring these cities by foot. I’ve always found running to be such a great means to explore a new city or city that you aren’t too familiar with. Whether running on the streets or on some of the local trails, it’s the cheapest and in my opinion, easiest way to really get a feel for a place when you travel.

So after some brainstorming and with all of the travels I’ve been doing and have coming up in the next couple of months, I’ve decided to revive this series. Now entitled #RUN2EXPLORE, this series will have as a goal to showcase some of the potential trails, routes, etc. that you could explore in one particular city.

I’m kicking-off this new series today with none other than: Paris!

There are lots of different types of routes to explore while in Paris. Though a very busy city, there are still tons of places where you can run uninterrupted around the different neighbourhoods, or “arrondissements” as they call it in Paris.

For this new series, I’ll be highlighting a few notable areas that are worth exploring via running. For Paris they are as follows:

1) Bois de Vincennes – Located adjacent of the 20th arrondissement and right at the Château de Vincennes Metro, this large park and castle is a lovely area to run around in. There are gardens, a lake, waterfalls, lots of trees and even a nudist area, for those who are interested. You can easily run up to 20kms around the park. An enjoyable segment to try out is the following: https://www.strava.com/segments/16329265

2) La Seine – This 777-kilometre-long river runs right through the heart of Paris. There are many of the city’s major attractions that can be seen by running along La Seine; everything from Le Louvre, to Notre Dame de Paris, to the Champs Elysées, Tuileries Garden, Trocadero and even the infamous Eiffel Tower! La Seine can easily be accessed by Metro, there are a handful of stops located just steps away from the river. The following is a worthy segment that runs past some of the city’s main tourist hotspots and that can easily be added to if interested: https://www.strava.com/segments/18330554

3) Versailles – One of the most beautiful areas of the greater Paris; from the gardens to the incredible Palace that dates back to 1682, when it was used as the principal royal residence of France under Louis XIV. You can easily run up to 15 kms around the palace, the Grand Canal, theatre, etc. A good starting point is the following segment: https://www.strava.com/segments/9795698

4) Parc de la Villette – This is my latest Parisian discovery. Located right by the Crimée, Porte de Pantin or even the Porte de la Villette Metro stop, the Parc de la Villette runs right along the canal. It’s home to the Philharmonie de Paris, La Géode movie theatre, the popular concert hall Le Zénith and many other gems. I ran a flat 10k through the park and along the canal. You can get inspired for your own run by looking at the following segment: https://www.strava.com/activities/1885813174

These are just some of the many areas of Paris to explore. It’s such a culturally and historically rich city with a wide variety of landscapes that there’s endless possibilities of segments to explore!

TIP: I definitely recommend prioritizing running through the parks or along the canals and waterways instead of running through the streets of the city as it can be quite hard to constantly dodge people, bikes, scooters, motorcycles, etc. and the sidewalks are usually quite narrow.

CURRENTLY TRACKING RUNS WITHApple Watch Series 3 + Strava App

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Discovering The Great Trail with CLIF Bar

Last week, I joined Storm Chaser and Adventurer Ricky Forbes on an exciting mission around Vancouver to explore parts of The Great Trail in collaboration with CLIF Bar and KEEN Canada.

The Great Trail allows Canadians like you and I, to travel from coast to coast across this country’s beautiful and diverse 13 provinces and territories. To commemorate Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017, 432 existing trails were connected across the country to create TGT. The trail now spans 24 000 kms and is the longest recreational trail in the world. CLIF Bar is proud to have funded nearly 150 km of TGT. You can explore the trail either by running, hiking, cycling, paddling, trail running cross-country skiing, snowmobiling or whatever activity you choose!

So when Ricky got to Vancouver, I packed a couple of CLIF snacks (have you tried the new CLIF Nut Butter Filled Banana Chocolate Peanut Butter? It’s my new go-to for hikes!), put on my KEEN boots and joined him to discover parts of TGT that is right in my backyard.

We started off the day with an urban hike right in Stanley Park on the Seawall. It’s a great place to ride a bike, go for a run or even just a leisurely walk like we did. Along the way we saw some seals in the ocean, beautiful vistas of the North Shore mountains, the impressive Lions Gate Bridge and the legendary Siwash Rock.

We then continued our explorations on the North Shore, heading to the Cleveland Dam, which has been around since the 1950s and which holds a portion of Vancouver’s drinking water. There, you will find a multitude of canopied trails to venture off on that are part of the Coastal Rainforest. You’ll be surrounded by trees that are centuries old, soft green moss, ferns and picturesque views of the canyon. I still pinch myself thinking that I live in such a beautiful place!

Our day ended at Cypress Mountain, where we were able to catch the most magnificent sunset.

From Vancouver, it’s easy to keep heading north up to Whistler or head east towards Kelowna to explore more of TGT.

Though we only scratched the surface of TGT in a day, it’s awesome to think that this amazing trail really connects Canadians through their passion for the outdoors. We have such a wide variety of landscapes around the country, so it’s quite special to be able to see it all via one amazing multipurpose trail.

This adventure day with Ricky and CLIF Bar made me want to explore the ENTIRE trail… Maybe it’s something I will need to add onto my bucket list!

For more information on The Great Trail visit: www.clifbar.com/greattrail

To see where The Great Trail runs near you, go here: https://thegreattrail.ca/explore-the-map/

This post was written in collaboration with CLIF Bar but all opinions are my own. 

 

MELSAYS PODCAST – EP. 12 – Kate Harris

This podcast episode was a LONG time coming and for that I apologize. I unfortunately had some technical problems with the sound when we recorded the episode and lost all of my questions. That said, it was too good of an episode to not share it with everyone. So please forgive the imperfect sound quality!

My guest for this episode is Kate Harris, she is a writer and an adventurer who recently published a book called Lands of Lost Borders, recounting her cycling travels across the Silk Road. In addition to being an author, she is also an accomplished scholar with degrees from MIT and Oxford. She also has also written for Canadian Geographic Travel, The Walrus and other notable publications. I’m so thrilled to have this modern-day explorer on the podcast today. I hope you’ll enjoy our chat!

The podcast is just one click away or you can also listen to it below. If you enjoyed our chat, make sure you subscribe to the MELSAYS PODCAST here -> iTunes and Google Play.

MELSAYS PODCAST – EP. 11 – Ellie Greenwood

The podcast is back! After a little break, I’m thrilled to launch new episodes of the MELSAYS PODCAST this week!

My guest for this episode is Ellie Greenwood, she is an ultrarunner who began her ultra career in 2008. In addition to being a 2x 100k World Champion, she also holds numerous course records including the Western States 100 miler, the Canadian Death Race, the JFK 50 Mile Run and the Knee Knackering North Shore Trail Run. She also won the 90k Comrades Marathon in South Africa. I’ve had the chance to see her compete and podium at a few local races here in North Vancouver and Squamish so I’m beyond thrilled to have her on the podcast today. 

The podcast is just one click away or you can also listen to it below. If you enjoyed our chat, make sure you subscribe to the MELSAYS PODCAST here -> iTunes and Google Play.

Thank you to CLIF for their help setting this interview up!

How to Travel Light as an Adventure Enthusiast

Packing for any kind of trip can be stressful so trying to pack light when going on an adventure trip can seem even more daunting. However, over the years, I’ve developed a pretty good packing strategy. Packing used to take me 1-2 hours + but now takes me 30 minutes at most. If I’m going on a super technical trip, I’ll start off by making a packing list but most of the time, I don’t even end up using it since it’s become such an automatism. Here are some tips for those of you hoping to improve their packing game!

What my carry-on looked like on my most recent trip to Alberta.

1) Pick the right suitcase. I used to lug around heavy large suitcases but in the last two years, I travel with a carry-on suitcase 99% of the times. The main reasons being:

a) you always usually pack way more than you actually need so it forces you to pack smart
b) carry-on suitcases are free of charge on most airlines
c) light carry-ons are way easier to travel with especially when out adventuring

I’ve been using MEC’s Rolling Continent Carry On Pack because it’s the perfect combination between a rolling suitcase but can also be transformed into a backpack if needed. It’s also incredibly lightweight (only weighs 2.35 kgs) and is filled with tons of different pockets and compartments, helping keep your suitcase organized at all times.

2) Compartmentalize. The best way to stay organize and travel light when bringing tons of adventure gear is to divide everything up in different compartments. That way you can always know where all of your gear is and only bring the essentials.

I used to put everything in different bags but lately I’ve been using MEC’s Packing Cubes, that come in different sizes and colours. What’s key about these cubes is that they’re water-resistant, which is a must when you’re putting muddy or wet gear back into your suitcase after adventuring. The clamshell lid also allows for easy access of it’s content plus there’s a nifty little handle that helps with carrying or hanging. Plus, it helps keep your clothes wrinkle-free!

It’s hip to be square. Keep the contents of your luggage organized and wrinkle-free with this package of three lightweight packing cubes. They are also useful for keeping shoes and dirty laundry separate from the clean stuff.

These cubes come in different sizes.

3) Bring Layers. The best way to keep clothing and things at a minimum when adventure traveling is packing layers. No matter where I’m going, I’ll always bring with me both warm and cool clothing. I’ll focus on pieces that I can layer as depending on the weather and destination, the weather can change in a heartbeat. I also always bring a few pairs of warm socks (which I stuff in my shoes, so they take up less space!) I’m also one to pack 1 “fancy” outfit for any post-adventure dinners or potential outings. Layers also allow you to mix and match your clothing plus, the thing I’ve realized over the years is that you don’t need a different outfit for every day you’re away. I used to bring WAY too much clothing and realized most of it would go unused.

4) Essential Tools. Depending on what kind of adventure you’re heading out for, there are certainly a few essential tools that you will want to bring with you. If you’re heading out camping, hiking, trail running, a multi-tool will be your best friend. Bringing a backpack or water pack or trail running is also a must for almost any kind of adventure. A rain layer is a necessity no matter what you’re doing.  I’ve been packing MEC’s Stuffit Long Jacket because it’s water resistant and packs up into its own pocket. If you’re going cycling, bring a tire repair kit, wilderness camping bring a water filter and a map/compass. I also always bring a headlight, whistle, ear plugs, waterproof dry bag, first aid kit, portable phone charger and a bathing suit, especially if I want to go open water swimming.

This MEC backpack is super easy to pack into your suitcase. It even has a pouch for hydration at the back.

5) A Good Pair of Shoes. The trickiest part of packing for me remains footwear. As someone who likes to trail run, hike as well as road run, do gym workouts, go to the beach, swim, surf, etc. footwear is always the trickiest part because it’s also the heaviest and what usually takes up the most space in a suitcase. I now always pack the following:
a) hiking shoes/boots (depending on the kind of trails I’ll be doing)
b) running shoes (either trail running or road running shoes)
c) sandals/flip flops (for the beach, pool or lounging around)
d) city shoes (heels, slip ons, etc.)

These Keen Targhee III are the perfect lightweight hiking boots to bring with you on a trip.

A few additional tips:
-wear your bulkiest/heaviest items if you can
-roll your clothes instead of folding them
-buy travel size toiletries or put them in reusable travel size containers (less than 100 ml)

Happy Adventuring!

This article was written in collaboration with MEC but all opinions are my own.

Unique Getaway Idea – Nectar Yoga B&B on Bowen Island

If you’re like me, then you’re always on the lookout for unique experiences and getaways.

Since before moving to Vancouver, I had been wanting to check out a super cute B&B located on Bowen Island that I found on Instagram called Nectar Yoga B&B. I had heard that this place was not only a great spot for yoga but also a very tranquil place to stay and recharge for a couple of days.

I had the opportunity to finally to check it out just a few weeks ago and the magical B&B did not disappoint.

Getting to Bowen Island is a quick 25-minute ferry ride that departs from Horseshoe Bay several times a day. Once on Bowen Island, you can easily access to Nectar Yoga B&B either by car, by bike or even just walking or hitchhiking, as a lot of locals do.

Located just off one of the main roads on the island, this beautiful eco-friendly B&B offers its guests 3 different lodging options on its 1.2 acre lot. You can either opt for the Nectar Loft (that can welcome up to 4 guests), the Forest Cottage (that can welcome 2 guests) or even opt for the Garden Suite (which can accommodate an even larger group).

The Nectar Loft offers guests beach style cottage accommodations. The loft is furnished with sustainable and local decor, organic bedding, a Canadian-made pull-out sofa and all-natural beauty products. There is also a kitchenette that is filled with local coffee and teas as well as an area with books, board games and art supplies encouraging guests to get creative during their stay.

The Forest Cottage is a prefabricated building that was delivered to the property by boat as a way to reduce waste, fossil fuels and have less of an impact on the forested area in which it is located in. This west coast beach style cottage has a very homey feel with its cute beach-themed deco and fireplace.

There is also a beautiful outdoor shower on a private deck that features all natural eco-friendly bath products. From the shower, guests can spot local wildlife such as deer and beautiful 100-foot trees. The cottage also includes a mini fridge, local teas, coffee as well as a wide selection of DVDs and books to cozy up with in the evening.

Another reason why this place is so special is because the entire B&B only uses natural cleaning and beauty products to ensure they minimize their negative impact on the environment.

The one thing I was most excited to check out at the B&B, is their yoga dome that is located on property. When you check-in, you can opt for an Evening Arrival Yoga Lesson in the dome followed by a Guided Relaxation. Each morning, you can also start your day with a Guided Meditation and Yoga Lesson, before enjoying the homemade vegetarian or vegan breakfast that is delivered right to your door. Waffles, coconut yogurt, smoothies and fresh fruit are just some of the delicious homemade treats that can be served for breakfast. It’s a healthy and hearty way to start off the day!

During your stay at the B&B, you can also set up an in-room massage or even order a juice cleanse (that is made with seasonal fruit and veggies that are local and organic when possible). To top it off, there is also a Wood Burning Finnish Sauna that you can access on property.

If you’re looking for things to do beyond the property, you will find a little secluded beach just a 5min walk away. The beach is quiet and offers breathtaking views of Horseshoe Bay and the surrounding mountains.

If you’re into hiking, there are also tons of trails on the island to choose from, Mount Gardner being the most popular and longest route.

All in all, the Nectar Yoga B&B is the perfect place to unwind and spend a couple of days focusing on your health and wellbeing while being at one with nature. It’s a true gem and so incredibly close to Vancouver. I look forward to spending some additional time there later in the year.

For more info on the Nectar Yoga B&B, go here.