Friday, August 26, 2011

Now eating: PR*Bars! (review and contest)

There are some nutrition/energy bars that I like and some that I really, really do not. I love Larabars, for example. But chalky bars? Or bars that are tough to chew? Nope, don't want anything to do with them.

My new love? PR*Bar Personal Record Nutrition Bars!

I was invited to try out the bars earlier this summer and I gave them a tough challenge: To fuel my long runs as I train for my half marathon in September. I've eaten the bars prior to my last 5 long runs and I can say with confidence that PR*Bars are awesome!

My first experience with the PR*Bars was a little over a month ago. I woke up about 2 hours before my scheduled long run and ate a double chocolate bar. I mean, double chocolate . . . how can you go wrong?

You can't.

Double chocolate is great. But so is the chocolate peanut and iced brownie and yogurt berry. All good. Tasty, even.

What I like about the bars is that the inside is almost creamy with little crunchy bits that keep it interesting. They seem to digest quickly and they did not give me a bit of stomach trouble when I was out on my runs. I ate the bars before runs of 9, 10 and (almost) 12 miles. On each occasion I ate the bar 1.5-2 hours before my run, followed it with a banana, coffee and water, and felt very well fueled when out running. I never felt heavy and never got any cramps or stitches.

There is a whole bunch of science behind these bars but I am anything but scientific. So, I'll let you read about that stuff here and here. All I know is that I like these bars and they work well for me pre-long run (and, truth be told, as a hearty snack, too!).

You can order the bars from the PR*Bar web site. They go for $19.95 for a box of 16 of the regular bars and $21.95 for a box of the granola bars (that I did not try).

Hey, it's a contest!

Those granola PR*Bars are new and to celebrate the launch of the new flavors, PR*Bar is having a contest. You can get in on it by liking PR*Bar on Facebook or tweeting the answer to "What's Your Flavor?" telling the twitterverse what flavor PR*Bar you would most like to try. Use the hashtag #prbarsrock.

PR*Bar will choose 10 Facebook fans and 10 tweeters at random to win samples of all of the new flavors. So, get going! This is a fun contest you definitely want to win! (And, it ends on Monday, August 29th so you should hurry!).

Good luck!

*     *     *

I've got a 14 mile run on the schedule for tomorrow morning. Yes, I'll be fueling up with a PR*Bar.

My family and I were supposed to be on our way to the Jersey shore for the week but Irene has changed those plans for us. The whole island where we were going has been evacuated. We're hoping to salvage some of the vacation next week but that might not happen. My biggest hope right now is for the safety of all the people in the hurricane's path. Fingers crossed that Irene weakens!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

~ Felice

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Jogging stroller mama.

I broke down and did it: I bought a jogging stroller.

I am now that runner.

How strange.

I never had one when Conal was a baby and I haven't had one for the first 10 months with Niall. But now, here I am. The owner of a jogging stroller. Or running stroller. Whatever. I have one of those things.

And I, um, well . . . I love it.

Sure, I've only taken it out for two measly runs and pushing a 21lb baby plus the stroller up the hills of my 'hood is tough. But, I still love it. Love that I have now opened myself up to a whole new world of running the three mornings a week that Conal will be in school. Big stuff, I know.

And check out how happy my little guy is about it:

Ready for a run!
The best part? This frugal runner picked up the in-great-condition Jeep stroller for $50 at a consignment sale.

It looks like it was hardly used so, yeah, good for me. 

It's a whole new world. 

Fellow jogging stroller mamas: Got any tips, tricks, favorite (local) places to run?

Have a great day!

~ Felice

PS: I have been meaning to mention that I have a new book review up at BlogHer. This one is for The Kid by Sapphire. It's the sequel to Push, the book she wrote that was made into the movie Precious. Interested? Check out my review . . . the book was tough. To say the least. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I could get used to this.

Yesterday I met up with a bunch of friends for an 11 mile run and it was one of those runs that made me wonder why I haven't always been spending my Saturday mornings running with friends. I just love it.

Now, I've always been a solo runner and I enjoy running alone very much. But these long runs that I've been doing with friends have been something else altogether. Something great.

I ran the first 4 miles with Karyn and we chatted away about all sorts of things. We ran those in just under 36 minutes but it felt like 6; the time passed so quickly. At 4 miles, we reached Karyn's car and she headed home. I looped back to meet up with Janis, Bridget, Amanda and Tami. I fell in with the group and we started chatting and soon enough Amanda and I were running along together, talking and talking. At the turn-around point Amanda and I fell in with Tami and Janis and then we picked up Bridget who turned around a little bit before we did. She was having a tough time and Amanda ended up running the rest of the way with her, which was nice.

I ran the last 4 or so miles with Tami. She and I went to the same high school (she's a few years younger than I am) but we're just getting to know each other now, through our running. Needless to say, those last 4 miles sped by -- just like the rest of the run did!

All told, 11.72 miles in 1:50:49 -- 9:25 pace.

The pace of the run is inconsequential. What mattered was the company and the company rocked. I could get used to this! I love these long runs with friends. Love them.

Now all we need is to find a route with a little less traffic. Too many trucks out there yesterday. Yikes!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everyone!

~ Felice

Friday, August 19, 2011

Socks, the 'mill, fun.

First things first: We have a winner! The lucky lady who soon will be running in a week's worth of socks is . . .

Suzy from Running on My Time!

Congratulations, Suzy! 

Now, some of you may know that Suzy is a friend outside of the blogging world and she has won other giveaways. Don't think I rigged this! As much as I like Suzy, I'm all about fairness so I used to pick the winner and Suzy was it!

Local friends -- just goes to show that you shouldn't be afraid to enter! You gotta be in it to win it . . .

*     *     *

In other news, Owen fixed our treadmill so I am now ready for icy, dark evenings! Let's just hope that, since it is only mid-August, those icy, dark evenings don't come too soon.

I'm running long with a bunch of friends tomorrow. Can't wait! I don't know exactly when it happened but at some point I became the kind of person whose weekend fun includes waking up early and going for 1 to 2 hour runs. The me of 15 years ago would be horrified.

Have a great weekend, everyone! Go horrify your younger self!

~ Felice

Thursday, August 18, 2011

10 mile lessons.

I've had some time to reflect on Saturday's 10-mile race and I've come up with a few tidbits that I hope will help me in the half marathon. Maybe you'll find something in my thoughts to help you, too.

  • Sticking to your own plan works. I wanted to run a pace between 8 and 8:30 and that's what I did. The fact that running that pace (8:07) led to a win was icing on the cake. 
  • Racing shoes rock. I wore my new Brooks Racer ST5s and they felt great. I've never before worn racing shoes for a race. The first time I do? I win. I will definitely wear them for the half marathon. 
  • PowerBar Energy Blasts are too tough to chew. At least for me, during a race. I had used the blasts on two long runs and they were fine. But in a race situation, when I didn't want to slow down to chew them, they simply didn't work. I couldn't manage chewing them and running at the same time. Need to find something else!
  • running skirts are sa-weet! I wore my new argyle running skirt for the race and it was cool, comfy and it didn't cause a bit of chafing. Like the racing shoes, I plan to wear the skirt for the half.
  • Running alone is no way to run a race. Ugh. That was the one bad thing about the race -- for the last 5 or so miles I was running alone. I couldn't see anyone in front of me or behind me. That was definitely weird. For races where I'd like to PR, I plan to make sure that there are enough runners entered so I won't be alone on the course. That's just too tough.
  • Sometimes you've got the hills, sometimes the hills have got you. And that's OK. If you have to walk, eh, what's the big deal? Sometimes -- like, for example, when you come upon a STEEP hill at mile 9 of a 10 mile race -- you need to give yourself a break and just walk a bit. I'm normally fine with hills but in Saturday's race, that last hill kicked my butt. I had no choice but to walk up the last quarter or so of the hill. And I'm OK with that.
  • Always smile for the camera. This is probably the most important. Otherwise, you end up looking all grumpy or something, like this:
At least I wasn't biting my bottom lip!

So, lessons learned. Thanks Clove Run!

Do you have any important tune-up race lessons that helped you in your goal race? 

Enjoy the rest of the week, everyone. Don't forget to enter my socks giveaway -- it ends tonight!

~ Felice

Monday, August 15, 2011

Clove Run 2011 race report.

Well, you know I won so that's no secret. So, how about I tell you the rest of the story?


This was the race I decided to pop into, just a few days prior to the race. I wasn't sure if I was going to be up to running a 10-mile race the morning after an evening wedding. Speaking of which, I clean up relatively well, no?

The wedding was fun but it was also early (4pm ceremony) so we were able to enjoy the whole reception and still get home in plenty of time for me to get a decent night's sleep. Or as decent as I get these days . . . 

I woke at 7 and had my English muffin with peanut butter, coffee and water. Then I nursed the baby and took off to pick up Bridget, who was also running. We got to the race with plenty of time and met up with our pals Amanda, Tami, Elisa, Karen and another Amanda. Then we hung around and let ourselves get needlessly nervous. Or, at least that's what I did.

With Bridget before the start of the race.

I had a plan. Although I was just popping in and didn't plan to race race, I wanted to run well: I wanted to run between an 8:00 and 8:30 pace. I knew that there were some mega hills in the second half of the race so I planned to try to run around 8min/mile for the first 5 miles and then hang on and see what I could do. My thinking was (and still is) that if I could finish the race at a low-8 pace, I could have a good shot of running 8 minute miles for my half in September.

That was my plan.

We -- all 49 of us -- and, no, that isn't just my friends -- that was the whole field of runners -- lined up. And after a few minutes of delays, we were off. 

That's me in the funky blue argyle skirt!

The race started in a residential neighborhood where it wound through nice shady streets. It was kind of cool because this is the town that my parents grew up in, and where many of my relatives still live. So I was feeling great in the beginning and felt that I could have run faster but I wisely reined myself in. I had a plan

After we exited the residential area at about mile 3, we entered the country and it was nothing but lonely country roads for the next 5 miles. We passed the chicken farm where my dad worked as a teen and an old-timer cheered as we ran by. I thanked him. I did a lot of thanking during this race, come to think of it. 

Anyway . . . country roads. Like this one:

Thanks for the pic, Amanda!

Looks lonely, doesn't it? Well, it was. For the first 3 miles I was running with a group of 5-6 runners and then some runners dropped off and I was running with one guy a little behind me and one guy a little ahead of me. Just past mile 5, I passed the guy who had been ahead of me and that was it. I ran alone, not seeing anyone ahead or behind me, for the last 4 miles.

Yep. I could have been out there doing a long run on my own. Instead, I was in a race and that was weird. 

The course was great -- quite pretty. But, the hill just past the 10k mark was STEEP and hard. Then the hill at mile 9 was insane. I hated it. Seriously. I walked the last quarter mile or so of that evil hill and cursed just about every step.

And then I ran on. 

When I got close to the finish line, I picked up the pace and was happy to see my time -- 1:21:05 -- when I was done. My friend, Debbie, who had run the 5K, told me I was the first female but I didn't believe her at first. Turns out, she was right.

Winning wasn't my plan. Running my own race, at my preferred pace, was. And I ran my own race, at my preferred pace and I consider that a win.

But, I have to tell you, being first female was kinda awesome.

Sure, it was a suuuuuuper small race. And my time was probably one of the slowest of the winning female times that they've ever had. But, whatever. I was the first female to cross the line. And I think that is pretty cool.

The award ceremony took way too long to get started because the computer broke down so I didn't get to stay to cheer for all of the runners who did well. I had a baby to get home to so I had to do what I had to do. But, the race director was nice and gave me my very cool trophy before I left.

It was a tough race but I ran well. I ran in the low 8s (8:07 pace) so I feel like I'm in good shape for the half. And, yeah, I plan to be back to run this one next year.

Sheesh! What a long race report. Thanks for stopping by, and making it all the way to the end! Enjoy your week.

~ Felice

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I won!

Clove Run 10-mile race
1st female overall

As my mom said, this whole "just popping in" to a race thing seemed to work well for me. I'd say!

Full race report to come . . .

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

~ Felice

Friday, August 12, 2011

COOLMAX/New Balance socks review and giveaway!

Let me shout it out: I love good running socks!

It's true. Running socks, snazzy skorts, sleek sunglasses. I love it all. I'm a bit of a running gear fan.

And I don't think I'm alone.

I mean, most of us wear socks when we run, right? Yeah, I thought as much. So, when it comes to socks, runners are all in.

And I was certainly all in when I was invited to test out some COOLMAX(R) socks from New Balance that are sold at Academy Sports and Outdoors retail locations. The socks are great for running and for all sports because they feature COOLMAX Moisture Management. In other words, they handle the sweat. And, really, who among us likes sweaty feet? Not me!

I was sent six pairs of socks to try out, including three cute pink-accented jobbers like these:


They are cushy and comfy and the COOLMAX material does a good job wicking away sweat. I've worn the socks on five runs so far and have liked them. My only complaint about the socks is that they aren't tight around the arch and I'm a bit crazy for that. I just like socks that really grab my arch/middle of my foot and offer that extra support. But, that's me. Not everyone goes for that and, as I said, they are cushy and comfy!

To buy:

The COOLMAX New Balance socks are available at Academy Sports and Outdoors retail locations. To find a location near you, or to order by phone, visit their web site HERE. A three-pack of the socks retails for $9.99 and they offer free shipping.

Would you like to win a week's worth of socks?

Well, lucky, lucky you!

That's exactly what one reader will win: A week's worth of COOLMAX/New Balance socks. To enter: leave me a comment letting me know that you'd like to win.

Additional entries:

As always, you can gain extra entries. Remember, though, you must complete the required entry first! (Leave one comment per entry for the additional ones to count):

  • Follow this blog, or let me know that you already do (leave a comment) 
  • Become a fan of The Happy Runner on Facebook, or let me know that you already are (leave a comment) 
  • Link to this giveaway from Facebook or Twitter (do as often as you'd like, just leave a comment each time) 
  • Pop over to COOLMAXBrandSocks to learn more about their technology and then let me know what you learned (leave a comment) 
  • Visit Academy Sports and Outdoors and let me know which COOLMAX/New Balance socks are your faves (leave a comment) 
  • Link to this giveaway from your blog (leave a comment) 
This giveaway will run through Thursday, August 18 at 11:59pm EST and the winner will be announced on Friday.

Good luck! 

And have a great weekend, everyone. 

~ Felice

Review/giveaway disclosure: I received six pairs of socks for review. I was not otherwise compensated for this review/giveaway and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Popping in.

It looks like I'm going to do something I never do: I'm going to pop into a race on Saturday.

I should SO try to do that with my hair sometime . . . 

This is very unlike me. I normally plan out my races months in advance. I'm a planner! But here I am deciding today to pop in to a race with little advance planning. And this is not just some little race -- it's a 10-miler. What's more, the race is Saturday morning at 9 and Owen and I have a wedding to go to Friday at 6.

Yeah, I'm popping into a 10 mile race the morning after an evening wedding.

What am I thinking?

I'm thinking I have a 13 mile run on the schedule for this weekend. Running 10 of those miles in a race situation would make them easier, especially because a handful of my friends are running the race, too. And the race will give me a chance to practice pacing over a long distance. I'll run the race and then tack on 3 slow miles afterward.

My plan then is to not taper at all this week and just run regularly. I'll treat the race as just part of my training. Of course, I'm sure I'll come up with a time goal or two between now and Saturday but I'll think about that later this week.

Until then, I've got an easy run on tap for tonight, which will be nice after last night's tempo run.

So tell me: Do you pop into races? Just run them on a whim? 
I don't think I've ever done this before . . . 

Thanks for stopping by! 

~ Felice

Monday, August 8, 2011

As fast as me?

Even though I already wrote about Saturday's run, I have to rewind and tell you about Friday.

Not necessarily the run itself, which was great -- speedwork in the evening, hit quarter-mile repeats all at right around 1:30 (6min/mi pace) -- but something that happened afterward.

When I got back from my run, no one was home. Owen had taken the boys to go pick up a pizza for dinner (yay for Friday night pizza!) so I cooled off for a bit and waited for them. I changed out of my super sweaty clothes into dry ones, but was still wearing my running shoes when the guys got home. And since I had done speedwork, I was wearing my speedy sneaks.


Yeah, Conal likes to ham it up . . .

Anyway, so I was wearing those speedsters and when Conal got home and saw them he asked, "Why are you wearing those running shoes?"

"Because I they're my fast running shoes," I answered.

"Did you run fast tonight?"

"Yup, I did. I ran really fast."

"As fast as me?"

I had to smile. "I think so, Conal. I think I might have run as fast as you."

He thought about that for a second and then gave me a little head nod. I get the feeling he wasn't entirely convinced that I actually ran as fast as he does but that's OK. I like a runner with confidence and Conal surely has that; he tells me all the time how fast he is.

And truth is, it probably won't be all that long until I'm not running as fast as him.


So, have a great week, everyone. Run as fast as Conal!

~ Felice

Saturday, August 6, 2011

30 miles.

It's been a long time coming but I finally hit 30 miles for a week. 30.8 to be exact.

Today's 10-miler got me past 30 miles and I have to admit I'm a little psyched about it. First, it was a really good run. Second, I've felt like it has taken me for ever to get my mileage up. Now, here I am.

And, about that run . . .

I met up with three friends and a friend-of-a-friend this morning at 7. Tami had an 11-mile route mapped out for us, but Janis and I were planning to run different distances (she was planning on 9, I was planning on 10) so we said we'd stick together for the first 4.5 miles and then Janis and I would turn around and head back.

The run started out on a fairly steep uphill and then settled into a nice rhythm of rolling hills. I ended up running mostly with Janis for the whole run, which was great because we got to chat and catch up. Our first few miles were slow and then we sped it up at the end. I dropped Janis off at our meeting spot after 9 miles and continued on for a mile to get my full 10. I was determined to try to bang out the mile at what I hope will be my half-marathon pace and I did: I ran the last mile of my 10-miler in 7:53 (2 seconds faster than my goal h.m. pace).

Good company, good run!

Tomorrow, it's resting time. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everyone!

~ Felice

Friday, August 5, 2011


Yes, indeed. Wednesday's run was just what I needed.

After that tough 12-miler on Monday, I did some cross-training on Tuesday and had an easy run on the schedule for Wednesday. I needed the run to be good. I didn't want to have to slog through some miles feeling tired. I wanted to recharge my run and make sure that the 12-miler wasn't ushering in any sort of slump.

Well, if a recharge was what I wanted, a recharge was what I got thanks to my pals Karyn and Danielle.

I haven't run with a friend in over a month so it was a treat to run with two friends. And the best was that they came to me and ran in my hilly 'hood! Thanks, ladies! You rocked that run!

An easy 4-miler made easier by company. Love it. Now, my mindset has been reset: Bring on tomorrow's long run!

Last night the recharge continued as I enjoyed margaritas with three good girlfriends. OK, Bridget and I enjoyed the margaritas, our girls Janis and Monique stuck with the Coronas. But they still had the spirit. Summer laughs. Summer fun.

That recharging run and night out were pretty important this week -- not just because of my cruddy run on Monday. My boys are still both suffering from this summer cold. Boo! Hiss! Day 5 today. Not a lot of fun in that. I'm hoping they turn the corner for real this weekend.

*     *     *

On a somewhat related, but not quite, note . . . I was invited to try out Recharge Natural Sports Drink Mix recently.

It's good! They use dehydrated fruit juice concentrate and other all-natural ingredients to make the powder and don't add any sugar (each tube of the powdered mix is only 10 calories). The sports drink is designed to replace vitamins and electrolytes lost while exercising.

When I use a sports drink, though, I look for a little more sodium than what is in Recharge because I'm a super salty sweater. So, I probably wouldn't use Recharge during a run but I have enjoyed drinking it earlier in the day before a tough run. And, my 4-year old loves the stuff. I try to keep him away from juice but I couldn't say no to him when he begged to try the stuff. He gave it two thumbs-up.

You can visit the web site HERE for more information.

Have a nice weekend, everyone. I've got a fast run on the schedule tonight, long tomorrow and a (yay!) dinner party tomorrow night.

And, oh yeah, an anniversary on Sunday!

Keep cool --

~ Felice

Review disclosure: I was sent samples of Recharge to review. I was not otherwise compensated and the opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On cross-training.

"Invest in rest."
"Incorporate cross-training into your plan."

I've read this advice again and again. And, again and again, I've tried to take it, with varying degrees of success. For me, the cross-training and rest thing came together when I was pregnant. I needed to rest and I needed to give my body a break with cross-training in a different way than I did when I wasn't pregnant. So I appreciated rest and cross-training for the benefits that they provide.

After I gave birth in October and starting running again, I knew that rest days would be more important than ever. I wasn't getting much sleep (sick of hearing that yet?), was trying to adjust to life with an infant, breastfeeding, and fitting in half-marathon training with work deadlines, laundry, preschooler activities and the rest of life.

Since then, I've tried to keep up on rest days and make sure to cross-train. So far, so good. I've been cross-training at least once a week -- definitely more if you count playtime with the preschooler! Most of what I do is workout to some exercise tv on demand programs, because they are convenient -- I can do them in the comfort of my home, whenever I want to. Lately I've been enjoying Jillian Michaels' Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism (DVD available on Amazon HERE), her kettlebells workouts (HERE) and her 30 Day Shred (HERE). I've also been checking out some of the other programs and I like some of the Cindy Whitmarsh programs but not the Amy Dixon ones. I don't know why. Something about her bugs me.

Anyway, I've been doing some cross-training at least once a week and I think it is helping me with my running. My arms and core are stronger and that should mean they'll help me to maintain my form late in the half-marathon when I'm starting to tire. At least that's the plan!

Do you like Exercise tv on demand? What's your favorite way to cross-train? 
Share away -- it's great to hear about new things!

Cross-training was for yesterday. Easy run tonight -- might even get a friend or two to run my hilly route with me! Yay!

Have a good day, everyone.

~ Felice

Monday, August 1, 2011

12 tough miles and July recap.

I've been away. It was just a three-day weekend on the Great Sacandaga Lake but it was a really nice time with my whole family -- a relaxing mini-vacation. Since we were away, though, I knew I wasn't going to be able to get my long run in. (I did sneak out for a fast 4-miler.) Fortunately, Owen had today off so I planned to run 12 miles in the morning.

Well. Those miles sucked.

First some background. The camp we stayed at in Sacandaga was built by my great-grandfather and now belongs to my dad's aunt and uncle. It's basically two rooms: A living area with a semi-enclosed kitchen on one side and an enclosed sleeping porch that extends around two other sides of the living area. So, yes. Everyone who stays in the camp sleeps in one big L-shaped room.

Doesn't make for good sleep when two babies are involved.

Yeah, I didn't really get much sleep on Friday or Saturday. Didn't matter. We had a great time, sleep or no sleep:

My sister taking Conal for a swim out in the lake.
Conal and me on the floating raft.
Hanging out.
My muddy baby. Yes, he was eating sand.
Last night, I was looking forward to some great sleep, since it would be in my own bed.

Nope. The baby was sick and up all night. My plan for my 12-miler had been to head out around 7-7:30 when Niall woke up for the day. Yeah, didn't happen. After Niall threw up all over his crib -- fun! -- I didn't really sleep much at all. So, I waited to go for my run until 8:45 after putting him down for a morning nap.

The nap was great. The run was not.

Holy cow. I haven't had a run like that in ages. I felt like crud the whole time, had to walk several times and almost stopped completely just before 6 miles. The hills got me. The heat got me. The lack of sleep got me.

But what got me the most was my attitude. I told myself this was a sucky run and so it was. I couldn't shake the internal sucky run commentary, no matter how much I tried. So annoying. And that is what really got me. I can run hills. I can run in the heat. I can run on no sleep. But when I tell myself the run sucks? Yup, it does.

Oh, well. 12 miles. 9:59 pace. Done.

And now, a look back at July.

July stats:

Running: 90.4 miles
Racing: 1 -- 15K PR at the Boilermaker!
Out of town runs: 5 -- Long Island, New Jersey, Sacandaga
Cross training: 6 sessions with Jillian Michaels

I'm pleased with July. It's good to be back over 90 miles for the month and my PR at the Boilermaker was awesome! Overall, my training for September's half marathon is going well. For August, I hope to keep up with my training plan, get in some strong long runs and keep giving my body a break with the cross training. I'll cut that out in September but for now I think it is helping to build strength for the race.

And now? I hope to get some sleep. That's really all this running mama wants out of life. Just a little sleep.

Have a great week, everyone!

~ Felice

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