Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Easy breezy running.

So, last week I was all about the hot weather runs. Heat? Humidity? Pshaw. What else you got, July?

Well, apparently, July has cooler temps and lower humidity and wouldn't you know it that means easier runs and faster paces. The highs this week have been only in the low 80s so when I went out for my run yesterday it was probably only about 81 degrees -- much cooler than my 90+ degree runs last week!

The result was 4.2 wonderful miles. I charged up my hills and flew across the flats. I barely felt like I was pushing my pace at all so I was surprised when I finished and saw my overall pace for the run was a hair under 8:30. For the longest time my easy-breezy go-to pace for my 4-5 milers had been 8:45. If I can keep it around 8:30, I'll be psyched.

Speed work tonight!

Totally separate:

The Gore-Tex TransRockies Run will be held this year from August 21-26. They are accepting applications for runners to RUN A DAY WITH DEAN. That Dean would be Dean Karnazes. Ultramarathon Man. Interested? Want to apply? Check out the details HERE. Go, go, go! And good luck if you decide to apply!

~ Felice

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Local Love: Saratoga Peanut Butter Company

I love peanut butter. 

Maybe not as much as my 4-year old does but, yeah, I love it. PB&Js, peanut butter cookies, any sort of ice cream that includes a swirl (or more) of peanut butter -- it's all good in my book.

My new peanut buttery love? Adirondack Jack from the Saratoga Peanut Butter Company.

Oh, wow


No, really. WOW.

Saratoga Peanut Butter Company recently sent me two jars of peanut buttery goodness to try out:

Blizzard Butter and Adirondack Jack
I took one look at the list of ingredients in Adirondack Jack and I knew which jar to open first. Almonds? Dried Cranberries? Cinnamon? Dash of honey? Yeah, I'm in.

All in.

Mmm . . . chunks of nutty cranberry yumminess:

It tastes as good as the list of ingredients sounds!

I tried some of the Adirondack Jack straight out of the jar. I know . . . so gauche. I kinda couldn't help myself. It was good. So then I tried some on toast. It was better. And then I tried some on regular bread with sliced bananas on top and hoo-ha! That's a winner!

Poor Blizzard Butter barely had a chance. Not that it isn't good because, really, it is. It's just . . . well, it just isn't Adirondack Jack. But, I like it. It's a decadently sweet mixture of white chocolate and peanut butter and, in my opinion, you can't go wrong there. I just probably should have tried it before indulging in the Adirondack Jack!

Now, these are only two of the many peanut butters made by Saratoga Peanut Butter Company, a local company that I'd like to give some local love. Saratoga Peanut Butter Co is a small company that was started in 2005 by Jessica, an active mom with a big-time love of peanut butter. So she's active. She studied nutrition and physical education. She's a mom. You gotta figure she's going to make her peanut butter healthy.

And that's what she does. Jessica states that, "My goal has been to make a delicious and nutritious product without sacrificing anything!" Her nut butters are all gluten-free and they are made without added sugars, preservatives or artificial additives. In short, just the good stuff.

You should totally check out Saratoga Peanut Butter Company. And not just to support the local economy around Chez Happy Runner. No, check it out because it is tasty and good for you!

You can buy the peanut butters online HERE.  (Just for reference, the Adirondack Jack retails for $8.99 for a 16oz jar and the Blizzard Butter goes for $6.75 for 16oz. A 16oz jar of Plain Jane is $4.99.)

If you live in the Albany area, you can find the peanut butter at several locations including Honest Weight Food Co-op, select Price Choppers and many stores in Saratoga. A full list of retailers is online HERE

Run, happy runners, don't walk, to check out some of the Saratoga Peanut Butter Company's nut butters -- especially that Adirondack Jack!

Have you tried any of the Saratoga Peanut Butters? Got a favorite? Let us know!

~ Felice

Review disclosure: I received two jars of Saratoga Peanut Butter to try out and review. I was not otherwise compensated and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Go . . . 10!

Yesterday was my long run, and it was a joy to finally get that run back into double-digits. Since it was going to be hot again, I wanted to head out early and figured I could go right after feeding Niall between 7 and 7:30. That meant that I needed to have something to eat (I cannot run 10 miles on an empty stomach) around 5:30. Forutnately -- ha, ha! -- Niall wakes up around then for a quick feed and then goes back to sleep for two hours before getting up for the day. So, when I fed him at 5:40, I ate a bar. Then, when he woke for the day, I fed him, got ready and off I went!

The Plan: 10 miles at 9:30 pace. If I felt good, speed up over the final 2-3 miles. 

The Run: 10 miles at 9:20 pace. Felt good. Sped up and ran the last 2 miles at 8:30 pace. 

Check out my elevation:

I always mean to plug in my runs and get my elevation but forget. My routes feel hilly and it looks like they truly are. As you can see, the first half mile is a pretty steep incline and right around mile 1 I get a nice downhill for about 2 or so miles. From mile 3.5 through 6.5, though, it is just about all uphill before heading down again for a half mile and then up and down for the last three miles.

Overall, my run was great. In fact, I would say it was exactly what I wanted in my long run! I drank about 32oz of Gatorade, which was the perfect amount, and I wore my fancy compression socks, which kept my legs peppy.

I also ran without my jelly beans. Gasp!

I know, crazy. But, I had run out of them and, honestly, I would like to break the habit. They've worked well for me but, you know, they are full-on sugar and do I really want to be relying on full-on sugar for my long run fuel? Can't I find something better?

Well, I'm trying. Two things: I ate a PR bar about 2 hours before I went out for my run. (Review on that to come.) And, I carried a Larabar with me to eat while I was running. But, I never needed to eat it. (Hmm . . . maybe that PR bar worked . . . ) That's my new plan: Try to eat something other than jellybeans during my long runs. We'll see how it works.

So far, so good! Week 1 of half-marathon training -- DONE.

Hope you all had a great weekend -- and have a good week ahead!

~ Felice

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Running in the heat.

It's been all kinds of hot this week, which is to be expected given that it is July.

But heat like this (high, high-90s) doesn't always make for great runs. And yet, I've had a few. Wednesday evening tempo run, Friday late-afternoon easy run.

My Friday run rocked, even though it was probably 94 degrees when I headed out.


Because I did a few things right (at least in my opinion, I'm no doctor or sports expert):

  • I hydrated early and often throughout the day
  • I had a little extra salt with my meals and snacks
  • I embraced the heat
  • I ran easy

That third one? About embracing the heat? Yeah. It's key. You can't expect to run well in the heat if you start your run cursing it. And, frankly, that goes for just about any run. Start out cursing and, well, your run will pay you back with something to curse about.

For Friday's 94 degree run, I started out thinking that my muscles would be loose and warmed-up in no time. I also thought about how much of a treat every patch of shade was going to be. And then I thought that these high-heat runs are going to make my lower temperature runs feel easy peasy! I can go for that.

It all worked because I ran a nice easy, easy run; just over 4 miles at a comfy 9:10/mile pace. Not speedy but not draggy, either. 

Just right. And it felt great.

It probably didn't hurt that I was wearing these bad boys for the first time:

So, hydrate, salt-up, and embrace the heat! 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everyone!

~ Felice

Friday, July 22, 2011

Healthy meals & deals: Garden Delight Pasta!

I've become something of a crazy couponer. No, I'm not going to go all Extreme Couponing anytime soon. But, I have become more organized and diligent about using my coupons -- and that has led me to score some major deals.

If you've ever seen Extreme Couponing, though, you know that those folks tend to stock up on some pretty unhealthy grub (500 packs of Mentos, anyone? How about 150 fried chicken frozen dinners?). And that is totally not my style. I'm trying to use my coupons for good, and good healthy meals.

So . . . I figured I would share my big wins and let you all know about my deals and healthy meals!

First up, Ronzoni Garden Delight!

My 6 boxes o' cheap pasta!

This veggie pasta is a staple in my house. We love it! It's healthy but it is generally a lot pricier than regular ol' white pasta, especially store brand. Last week, my Price Chopper had the Ronzoni Garden Delight on sale for 10 boxes for $10 -- $1 a box. That is a good deal because it is usually around $1.69-$1.89 per box in most stores. I saw the sale price and immediately popped over to the Ronzoni web site and saw a coupon for $.50 of two boxes. My Price Chopper doubles coupons so it turned into $1 off two. I was able to print the coupon 3 times.

I went to the store and bought 6 boxes of the pasta for a whopping $3 -- or $.50 a box! Compared to the regular price of $1.89 (which I often paid before I got into the couponing) that's a super deal!

Couponing Tip: When you see a good deal advertised in the paper, or you plan to buy a specific brand for some other reason, always check the brand's web site to see if they have a printable coupon available. You never know -- you could score a high-value coupon (or 3!).

And now, my healthy and inexpensive dinner!

Garden Delight Pasta with Balsamic Tuna and Peas

3/4 box of pasta (cooked) cost: <$.50
2 cans of solid white tuna (drained) cost: $2
1 c. frozen peas (added to pasta right at the end of cooking) cost: <$.50
chiffonade of fresh basil, some balsamic vinegar, some olive oil, 1 tbs dijon mustard, salt, pepper (whisk vinegar, oil, mustard then add basil, salt, pepper) cost: ? not much -- basil is from our garden

Mix it all together and voila! Easy, inexpensive, healthy dinner!


Using my super deals the total cost for this meal was about $3 and that fed three people! Try it sometime -- I hope you like it!

Do you have a favorite veggie pasta recipe? Link 'em up in the comments -- I love to try new recipes!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

~ Felice

Disclosure: I bought all of the ingredients myself and was not asked to post about them -- I just want to share my deals and meals!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Plan B? What's a Plan B?

Have you heard? There's a heat wave going on so it is hot. I know! It's summer. And it's hot! Go figure . . .

Anyway, yesterday was really hot and -- wouldn't you know it -- I had a 5 mile tempo run on the schedule. Before heading out for my run in the evening, I double-checked my training plan, just to make sure I was right. Yup. Wednesday, July 20: 5 mile tempo. Sigh.

I told Owen. He told me it was hot. I said I knew. He said I had to remember to be flexible. I told him I would skip the tempo run. He told me that was a good idea.

So, that was that. I planned to skip the tempo and run 5 easy miles. I started up the hill that begins my regular running route and I was going sloooooow. I kept on running but as I got half-way up the next hill I felt like giving myself a big smack on the head. What are you doing? I asked myself.

Are you really giving up on your plan this early in the training cycle? How are you going to go after your A goal in the half if you let a little heat get in the way of your Plan A? This is July. It's hot. You knew you were going to have to train through the summer when you signed up for the race. So what are you doing? You need to suck it up, Happy Runner. Suck. It. Up.

You had better believe that when I hit Mile 1, I picked up the pace.

My original plan for the 5 mile tempo was a 1 mile warm-up followed by 3 miles at 8:00/mile and then a 1 mile cool-down. I went for it. Heat and hills and all.

The 3 fast miles didn't exactly hit the pace I was shooting for -- I averaged 8:14 per mile for the 3 miles instead of 8:00 -- but, you know what? That's fine. My effort was undoubtedly there. I pushed on and felt better for it.

Tempo run #1 . . . DONE!

Plan B? What's that? We're all about Plan A here!

Stay cool, everyone!

~ Felice

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday. (Almost.)

Stacey, Janis, Jen, Bridget, Kara, me
Night out with some of the best friends a Happy Runner could have! Lots of laughs, lots of fun.

(We have a standing monthly night out. It is the best thing ever. I highly recommend standing dates with your friends -- do you do that sort of thing with your pals? Got any good ideas to share? I'd love to read them!!)

Have a great day!

~ Felice

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


There are two women who walk in my neighborhood, usually two nights a week. They don't live here; they drive here and park their cars at the end of my street and then walk together. I see them all the time because they tend to walk around 8-ish and that's often when I head out for my evening -- OK, night-time -- runs.

Anyway, I've seen these women about 3 dozen times. I've made eye contact, raised my hand in a little wave, and said, "Hi!" about 3 dozen times. And you know what? For each of those 3 dozen times, I've gotten no response whatsoever. None. Nada.

These women are not deaf. I hear them talking to each other.

These women speak English, so I assume they know the word, "Hi."

They simply do not respond at all to my greetings. How d'ya like that?

So I gave up and stopped greeting them. I saw them about four times after I stopped and then I didn't see them for a while -- we were away, maybe they were, too. Whatever, I hadn't seen them in a while. Last night, though, they were out walking while I was out running.

I passed them as I was entering one of the cul-de-sacs. I made eye contact with one woman. I raised my hand in a little wave. And I said, "Hi there!" All cheery-like.


Not even a half-smile or a murmur. Nothing.

So I kept running and then, wouldn't you know it, I was going to be face-to-face with them as I was exiting a different cul-de-sac. Fine, ladies, let's see what you've got. I looked at them. They did not look at me. As I got closer, I thought about saying something again, giving it another shot, but no. I didn't. They weren't looking in my direction so I just ran by. Silently.

Who are these women? What have they got against greetings?

Dunno. Guess I won't ever know. Oh, well!

And, oh, yeah. About that run, the first of this half-marathon training cycle. Umm . . . it sucked. Seriously. Really sucked. Go, half-marathon training, go!

Eh, what can you do? I rarely have a cruddy run so I was probably just due.

Run on, folks!

~ Felice

Monday, July 18, 2011

Color me exhausted!

This summer is wiping me out! We've been busy, busy, busy, which is great, but the boys have been waking up far too early (like, hours early), which is not. It's all a bit exhausting! Running around with two little boys sometimes feels more tiring than racing.

And speaking of racing . . . last week was my post-Boilermaker recovery week and it went well. I went out for an easy run on Monday and my legs felt tight as can be. By my Tuesday run they'd loosened up some and on Thursday they were back to form. On Saturday, I ran 6 at a nice 9:15 pace with my last mile at 7:45. It felt good to really blast out the last mile after slow running all week! Yesterday I settled on 3 easy miles because I could only get out midday for my run and it was super hot. Recovery week . . . done!

Bring on half marathon training!

First, though, since I need to boogie off with the boys, I'll quickly share some goodies going on elsewhere:

  • I have a new book review up at BlogHer. You can check it out HERE. It's for What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen. A teen book but, well, you'll have to check out the review to see what I thought :-)
  • I also have a giveaway going on over at my other site, HERE. It ends tonight at 11:59pm EST so be sure to enter soon!

Hope you all had a good weekend! Thanks for stopping by.

~ Felice

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thoughts on the Boilermaker.

From the vantage point of a few days post-race, I have some thoughts about my training and what worked and what didn't.

Obviously, for me, it was a great race so there must have been a lot that worked. I'm not getting any younger, but I posted a PR on Sunday (1:13:59) in what many consider a tough course to PR on. I would agree. There are some challenging hills and a fair number of twists and turns. Plus, the Boilermaker is a big race with about 13,000 runners so the first two miles are pretty congested.

But, my running has been going well this year. I feel that I've come back post-baby stronger than ever. I beat my goal time in the half-marathon in April, set a 5K PR in June and now a 15K PR. It's all coming together.

Not by chance, of course. This year, I've run a good balance of endurance- and speed-building workouts. My endurance increased significantly during half marathon training and then I added speed on to that during 5K training. Although I wasn't the best about sticking to a 15K training plan, I believe I was able to hold on to a lot of that endurance and speed that I gained, simply by remaining consistent with my runs.

So what worked for the Boilermaker? Was it that I only had about 3 hours of sleep the night before? Doubt it. Was it having to drive for almost two hours to get to the race. Nope.

I believe that what worked for me was actually pretty simple:

  1. Rest. Sure, some of it was forced, like when I was sick and missed a few planned runs. But rest is SO key to success!
  2. Hard long runs. I didn't run long as much as I would have liked but when I did, I ran fairly hard. I ran over hilly routes, keeping my pace steady and fairly quick, and speeding up at the end.
  3. Easy, enjoyable regular runs. When I wasn't running long or doing some speedwork, I was thoroughly enjoying running easy.
  4. Cross-training. At least once a week I've been doing a different workout. My favorite right now is Jillian Michaels' kettlebell workout and I really believe that the improvement in my core, arm and leg strength has helped my running.
Basic stuff. Tried and true. 

I'll probably think more about the race as I put together my half-marathon training plan, which I really need to do since my training starts on Monday! In the meantime, here are some of my race pics:

And, yes, I am biting that bottom lip again! Old habits die hard . . .

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Felice

Monday, July 11, 2011

Boilermaker 15K race report.

"The Boilermaker course boasts panoramic views, challenging hills, the MOST water stops, the best entertainment, and the greatest overall FUN of any race event." -- race organizers

I've run a lot of races -- probably close to 30 -- but never one as FUN as the Boilermaker. It was a great race! 

Nevermind that I had to wake up at 4 a.m. to pick up Bridget at 4:45 so we could get on the road and drive for about an hour and a half to Utica, NY. And I'll skip right over the part where I where I slammed into my husband's car as I backed out of the garage (yes, it was awful. yes, the cars need to be fixed. yes, I should have been paying more attention. but, it was 4 freaking 45 in the morning! and I had hardly had any coffee...)

I'll get right to the good stuff. 

Bridget and I made our way to Utica with no problems at all. Parking was stress-free. Finding the start area and hooking up with our friend Elisa, who had our race bibs, was smooth. Using the porta-potties before the race was gross, sure, but easy enough. Everything was smooth, but we got a little nervous anyway. 

Bridget, showing how her nerves were making her feel like she had to puke!

Fortunately, neither of us puked. 

We did drink a little last-minute water and then wish each other well before splitting to line up in our corrals. I was in the yellow corral, so I was basically in the middle of the pack but it only took about two minutes for me to get to the start line. 

Running such a packed race was interesting. I did a bit of bobbing and weaving in the first two miles so it took me a while to get into a rhythm. But once I did, I fell in love with the race. The first 4 miles are all uphill, but it isn't really as bad as you would think (says the runner who runs on hills pretty much all the time). There was music throughout the race (they said there were 27 music stops) and the crowd support was incredible. Cheering people lined both sides of the road for more or less the entire course. I have never been in a race with such support! And there were 20 water and ice stops, which made it so I was never battling thirst.

Once I got into the groove, I thought to myself, "I love this!" and that thought NEVER went away. I felt great the whole race and was just having fun. I even managed to chat a little with some other runners, which is something I never do. I'm usually so focused on a goal that I wouldn't dare to waste energy on talking. But in the Boilermaker, I did. I gave high-fives to the cheerers. Thanked every volunteer who handed me water or ice, and laughed with my fellow runners.

I also ran faster than I thought I would. And that my friends is probably the best part of the race! 

Yup, my A goal was a PR, or 1:15:18 or better and I totally beat that with a time of 1:13:59. Wildest Boilermaker dream . . . achieved!

After the race was over, I downed two red popsicles and set out to meet up with Bridget and Elisa. It took a while (there were over 11,000 people in the race) but we eventually found each other. Bridget and Elisa both ran great races, too -- for Bridget, it was her first 15K, so an automatic PR!

And then it was time to head home. The drive was tough because my right leg started to tighten up but after rolling it out and using the tennis ball on my hip last night, I feel absolutely fine today. And, I'm still happy about my PR!

Elisa, Bridget and me before the start of the 2011 Boilermaker!

Race stats:

Official time: 1:13:59
Overall pace: 7:57/mile
Overall place: 1826 out of 11,055
Female place: 316 out of 5,073
Age-group place (40-44): 28 out of 590

Mile splits:

Mile 1: 8:13
Mile 2: 7:57
Mile 3: 7:56
Mile 4: 8:31
Mile 5: 7:07
Mile 6: 7:35
Mile 7: 8:10
Mile 8: 7:46
Mile 9: 7:52
Last .3: (7:03 pace)

Now, I'm already thinking about next year. I will run the Boilermaker again in 2012! Who's with me????

Have a great week, everyone!

~ Felice

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Best. Race. Ever.

I ran the Boilermaker 15K this morning and it was seriously the best race ever. Ever! I absolutely loved it. Didn't hurt that I PR'ed . . .

net time: 1:13:59
7:57 pace

Couldn't be happier!

Race report to come . . .

~ Felice

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Boilermaker, here I come!

Tomorrow morning I'll be joining about 13,000 other runners at the biggest 15K in the country: The Boilermaker.

So what if I basically threw my training plan out the window for this race? No big deal, right? Yeah, that's what I'm hoping. No big deal.

With less than 18 hours until the race, I've just started to get a bit nervous. I had the best intentions when I registered and put together my training plan. Then, as it happens, life got in the way and I let my Boilermaker training slip lower and lower on my list of priorities. I still logged some decent mileage but I didn't get in as many long runs as I would have liked. Nor did I get in much speedwork.

I'm OK with that. Honestly, I think I was a little burned out on training after focusing on two big races this spring.  Since I have another big race coming up in September (the Adirondack Half Marathon), I have to start training again right after the Boilermaker. So, it's fine that I've slacked a bit recently.

I still want to run a strong race.

Sure, I've got to get up at 4 a.m. to drive to the race. And it's going to be hot. And crowded. And the hills are notoriously tough. I'm still going for it.

In other words, I've got goals:

C goal: 1:20 or better
B goal: 1:16 or better
A goal: A PR, or 1:15:18 or better!

We'll see what the day brings.

Fast running. That's what I'd like.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend, everyone!

~ Felice

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Summer, summer.

I've been away.

For 5 nights and 5 days.

We drove 550 miles by car.
I ran 21 miles on foot.
We enjoyed lots of sand, sun, and beach-rific fun with cousins, aunts, uncles, and Grandma.

What a great start to July! My boys loved it:

Except for when Niall decided he'd had enough, that is:

Eh, it happens. Sorry, kid.

The rest of the week is all about catch-up, last minute prep for the Boilermaker, and tons of race weather obsessing.

Enjoy the rest of your week, everyone!

~ Felice

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