Thursday, January 31, 2013

Here I Go Again! (review)

I was totally sucked into Here I Go Again, a new book by Jen Lancaster.

And that's not a bad thing. I needed a light, fun book because I've been all running books, all the time around here and sometimes you just need to shake it up.

Here I Go Again takes the ultimate high school mean girl, Lissy Ryder, and gives her a chance to right her (many, many) wrongs. But not before having her life come crashing down around her and being completely shown-up at her 20th reunion. Lissy travels back in time, thanks to a hippie classmate, and is a little less mean her second time around. Only, by doing so, she screws up the future of a lot of people who were spurred to greatness by her mean high school ways. So, she goes back again and fixes the changes to make things better once again.

As she travels back and forth, she learns about herself and why she was such a teen meanie.

Of course, at the end, it all ties up nicely and things end up all hunky-dory. But that's the nature of the book and, as I said, it was light and fun and I enjoyed it.

My one main problem with the book is that the narration (Lissy) was pretty annoying but that was probably the point. All in all, it was fun and I thought it would make a great vacation beach book.

Have you read Here I Go Again? 
Any of Jen Lancaster's other books? What did you think?

Thanks for stopping by!

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Injinji socks winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered my Injinji socks giveaway. I seriously love these socks and now one of you will get the fun of running in them, too.


And who is this lucky runner? Using I picked one winner and it is . . .


Congratulations!! Send me an email (felicehalf at yahoo dot com) with your mailing address so I can get your socks sent off to you!

Thanks again to Injinji for the giveaway.

Have a great day, everyone!

** My policy is that winners have 48 hours to contact me -- if I don't hear by then I'll select a new winner. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ups and downs of sugar-free living.

I'm well into my third week of sugar-free (flour-free, most-white-stuff-free) living and as I look back over my second week, I see that this process has not been without its ups and downs.

Among the downs . . .

  • Faliled attempts to make "paleo" bread, like the pathetic inedible eggy coconut mess that I made last night
  • Post-run calf cramps 
  • Pizza cravings
  • Potato chip cravings
  • Well, pretty much any sugary/starchy/cheesy craving!

And among the ups . . 
  • Starting to get the pantry and fridge stocked with the right foods
  • No headaches (WOO!)
  • Regaining my energy
  • Figuring out how to fuel for my runs

Downs and ups. 

What I would like right now is some kind of awesome flourless, sugar-free bread. Does that exist? Dunno. If you know of one, hook a happy runner up and leave a comment about it!

Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, January 25, 2013

My new favorite.

Watch out, friends. I've fallen in love with almond milk. (And regular ol' almonds. And coconut. But I'll have to share my love for those another day.)

For real, I love the stuff. I've always been a fan of almonds and now I've taken it to a whole new level.

Since I can no longer make my smoothies using my beloved yogurt, I've switched to almond milk. This:

Unsweetened vanilla. It is so good. 

From a yogurt-based smoothie to an almond milk-based one -- sounds like it wouldn't be the same, right? Right. It isn't. It is better. To me, it is just so much better. I didn't think it would be and yet it is. My smoothies are lighter since they aren't weighed down by dairy anymore. 

Now I'm working on getting the family switched over to almond milk so I can stop buying cow's milk (which, admittedly, I am against). Owen is already on-board and using almond milk in his morning cereal. I'm working on the kids!

They've enjoyed their almond milk smoothies so far, so that is a start. Slowly but surely, I'll try to win them over!

(Interested in trying Silk Almond Milk? You can download a coupon from their web site. And, by the way: No, I wasn't asked to review this almond milk. I just love it. And had to share my love!)

Today's smoothie

1 green-tipped banana
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup almond milk (unsweetened)
1/2 cup water
1 tbs chia seeds

Blend it up! And enjoy.

I'm experimenting with new recipes and new ingredients. Some have worked better than others but it is kind of fun trying to find new ways to do things. I'll be sure to share some of the better recipes that I come across and make!

Have you switched from cow's milk to almond (or coconut or other) milk? 
How did it work for you? 

Have a great weekend, everyone!

~ Felice

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Injinji 2.0 . . . with giveaway!

I've said it before and I'll likely say it again: I love Injinji socks. They rock.

Here are my tootsies in my favorite green Injinjis:

I know, pretty funny looking. But, seriously, they are great socks for keeping feet blister free -- which is why I wear them. After a brutal blister experience at the Boilermaker last summer, I started running a lot in toe socks and they have worked well for me.

Have you used them? They really are awesome. The socks are designed to properly align toes, prevent blisters and wick moisture. From my experience, I can say they do it all. And well.

Check out their video:

INJINJI® Any Shoe Video from Injinji on Vimeo.

Now, Injinji is launching their new Performance 2.0 line and they've relaunched their web site.  And . . . in celebration of all that, they are sponsoring a giveaway right here!


The giveaway:

Pop over to the Injinji web site. Look around. Come back here and tell me your favorite Injinji product or something interesting that you learned on the site. A winner will be chosen at random and will get a stash of Injinji products!

Additional entries:

As always, you can gain extra entries. Remember, though, you must complete the required entry first! And, yes, I'll check. (Leave one comment per entry for the additional ones to count) So, here's what to do:
  • Follow this blog, or let me know that you already do (leave a comment
  • Follow me on Pinterest, or let me know that you already do (leave a comment 
  • Pin an image from this post to share the giveaway on Pinterest (leave a comment  
  • Follow me on Twitter, or let me know that you already do (leave a comment
  • Share this post on Twitter using this tweet:

I just entered to win @injinji socks from @TheHappyRunner #giveaway

  • Follow me on Instagram (felicepd), or let me know that you already do (leave a comment
  • Link to this giveaway from your blog  (leave a comment 

This giveaway will run through Tuesday, January 29 at 11:59pm EST and the winner will be announced on Wednesday.

Good luck!

~ Felice

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sugar-free living and running: Week 1.

I hope everyone had a great weekend! 

I'm back with an update on my first week of this sugar-free journey I'm on.


My first week of running since going sugar free was tough. 
I lacked energy. I had very little pep in my step. My mileage was waaaay down -- to just 16.4 miles. 


And the miles were a struggle. Until yesterday, that is. My first 4 runs were bleh. In fact, my first run was aborted after a measly half mile because I felt so completely energy-less.

On Saturday, I ran 5 miles at a 9:30 pace. It was brutal. My effort level felt like I was running much faster -- I finished feeling more like I had run 8 miles at a 7:30 pace rather than what I'd actually run.

Honestly, it was a little depressing. 

I had to wonder: Is this new way of eating worth it? Will a sugar-free diet ever pay off? What if I never regain my energy for running? I love running, do I want to sacrifice that?

I kept wondering. And yesterday gave me hope.

Sure, it was cold. Sure, it was super windy. Sure, I was worried I'd struggle. But I headed out for 4 miles and they were the most uplifting miles I'd run in quite a while.

I felt good. No, not great, just good. And, at this point in my sugar-free journey, good is what I'm going for. 

The wind was brutal in my neighborhood, whipping me in the face for most of the run. But compared to my other runs last week, it felt effortless. 

This sugar-free thing might actually work.

I sure hope I didn't just jinx myself! 

Everything I've read and that people have told me (thanks for all the supportive comments, here and on Facebook!) has led me to believe that the beginning is tough and then your energy starts to come back after your body adjusts. I'm hoping that is what is happening to me. I still have one week left before half marathon training starts so if I can be adjusted by then, that would be awesome.


I also made a few changes to my eating yesterday, which I think helped. First, I ate avocado for lunch, about three hours before I ran. Second, I ate an orange (I'm allowed fresh fruit) about two hours before I ran. This combination of healthy fat and the fruit may have increased my energy. 

I'm going to keep playing around with my food combinations but, for now, I'm happy that yesterday's worked. I may just duplicate it today! 

So, what else have I noticed this week? A few things: 
Unsweetened almond milk rocks! 
Apples make a great dessert. 
Bacon is my friend. 

I'm sure I'll have a ton more to report as the days and weeks go on. Trial and error, you know. 
Feel free to leave me a comment with any of your own tips -- I always appreciate good advice!

Have a great week!

~ Felice

Friday, January 18, 2013

60 sugar-free days?

Less than one week into the (new? improved?) sugar-free (ish) me, I'm getting excited.

Excited not to be eating sugar? How can that be?

Good question. And yet, I am. I've been reading a lot about sugar-free living (which, in my case, includes giving up wheat, bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, etc.) and the more I read, the more I am completely convinced that this is the right thing to do.

It hasn't been easy so far -- but it has been a lot easier than I expected. The many resources I've found have been incredibly helpful as I navigate my new eating. Add to that my supportive husband and things are starting to work out.

My doctor prescribed a month of sugar-free eating as a test, and the Whole 30 program (which has been a great resource) lasts for 30 days as well. But, some other resources have recommended going sugar-free for 60 days to reap the most benefit and ensure that the new way of eating sticks.

Since my first week so far has been filled with trials and preparation (but, yes, has mostly been sugar free), I feel like I can't really count it in my 30 day tally. Sure, I'll check in with my doctor when I'm supposed to, but I almost feel like I need to add another week to my test.

In fact, I've been wondering if I should commit to 60 days right now.

And then I shake some sense into myself: Take this as it comes. Do it for 30 days. Commit to that and do it well. Then you can see about doing it for longer.

No need to get ahead of myself, right? Right.

So 30 days it is. I'm doing it.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

~ Felice

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Starting to train.

I haven't technically started training for the More/Fitness half marathon in April, but I have been working on my plan. One of the things I've been thinking about is what finish time I would like to target. I've been putting times into various calculators and getting projected times spit out to me.

It has stressed me out.

So I'm scrapping the time goal for right now. Instead, I am going to follow some sage advice, from someone who obviously knows his stuff:

I'm keeping things simple.

I'm developing a plan that I know I will adapt as my training cycle progresses. I'm going to hold off on targeting a finish time until I'm actually far enough along in my training to know how fast I can run.

I'm not thinking about the finish line just yet. There will be plenty of time for that!

When do you decide on target finish times for your big races?

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Felice

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sugar-free me.

I knew it was coming, this day when I'd go from scarfing down the jelly beans to turning my back on those delicious, colorful little treats -- along with their sugary relatives -- all together.

I've gone sugar free.

Not by choice. Although, yes, I've read plenty about the benefits of a sugar-free life. I just never thought I could do it so I never did. Sure, I've gone through phases when I've cut down but I never wanted to give up sugar completely. It just wasn't something I wanted to do -- I enjoy treats in moderation so why give them all up?

Well, for my health. And not for some loose "I want to be healthier" reason. Nope. My doctor has prescribed a strict no sugar diet as one part of a new treatment plan. See, about 18 months ago I was diagnosed with Lyme disease, treated, and then left with some terrible nerve damage/pain and fatigue. Last winter, was the height of it: The pain in my neck, back, left arm and left leg was almost unbearable and there were days when I couldn't even pick up my then 1 year old son.

I worked with a wonderful Lyme specialist who treated some underlying viruses, a cause of the fatigue, and who was helping me with the nerve pain.

Then she left to start her own practice, too far away for me to continue to see her.

I was crushed. She'd been great and had really helped me to start to feel better. So, I moved on and went to see a different doctor at the same practice. Not a Lyme specialist -- and it showed. We got nowhere other than to some painful tests that resulted in a lot of nothing.

It was time to bite the bullet and go to see the main doctor at the practice, who is a well-regarded Lyme specialist. The problem? He doesn't take insurance.


I went last week. He's awesome. And I left with a treatment plan that includes new medications, lots of supplements, and a sugar-free me.

And by sugar, I mean the obvious -- no cake, cookies, candy, ice cream, etc. -- but also the not-so-obvious. No bread. No potatoes. No rice. No pasta.

A lot of nothing.

Green salads with apple cider vinegar? I'm on it. Chicken and, well, some chicken? Sure thing!

But I don't care. I'm doing it. If it will make a difference I'll gladly say good-bye to my beloved English muffins. And peanut butter pandemonium ice cream. And those jelly beans* that I do so love.

The plan for right now is to do this for 30 days and then check in with my doctor and re-evaluate the plan. I have my fingers crossed that it works -- and my toes crossed that I can stick to the plan!

Have you ever gone sugar free (or are you now)? Got any tips?

Have a great day!

~ Felice

*In all honesty, I haven't had jelly beans in the house in months. So, really, cutting those out wasn't so tough.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sandy Hook 5K race report.

Remember when I wrote about reflecting some light?

At the time, I didn't know what to do, could barely think about what to say about the tragedy in Sandy Hook. All I could think was that it was our responsibility -- everyone's responsibility -- to be a little better, to reflect some light into the darkness.

There have been countless examples of people doing just that -- helping others, doing anonymous good deeds.

And another: Groups of runners, running in honor of the lives lost and in support of the lives left behind.

All of those children. And those adults who were entrusted with their care. All of those lives.


On Saturday, this group of women ran in honor of those lives:

We ran in my neighborhood, my hilly, hilly, hilly neighborhood. Yes, I think my friends cursed me a little as they were plugging away up my hills. But, hills make you stronger!

And, anyway, this race wasn't about time. It was about reflecting some light. And I am proud that I was part of it.

We ran the 5K as part of Sandy Hook Elementary Memorial Virtual Half Marathon and 5K. Awesome runner and blogger Beth Shaw created the event and it took off, with thousands of runners donating $20 to a dedicated United Way fund and running their miles for Sandy Hook.

Last I read, 2000 runners had registered. Go, runners!

It was a great morning with a special group of women, all running for good. 
I loved it.

Hope you had a great weekend!

~ Felice

Friday, January 11, 2013

2013 races.

I've been thinking a lot about my 2013 races: researching, planning, researching more, scrapping plans, re-planning . . . now, two weeks in to 2013, I believe it is time to commit.

To a few races, at least.

So here's the plan:


Bill Hogan 3.5 race (New Year's Day) -- done
Sandy Hook 5K -- tomorrow


Winter Marathon Relay


Runnin' of the Green (Island) 4 mile


More/Fitness Half Marathon (in NYC)


Freihofer's Run for Women 5K


Clove Run 10 mile


Mohawk Hudson River Marathon

Looks like I'm going to stick with a spring half marathon and a fall full. It is a conservative, doable plan that should allow me to go into the marathon healthy and with a good shot at running a PR.

I'll probably add a few races to the mix, like a 5K here or there or maybe a trail run in the summer. But for now I'm going to focus on laying out a training plan with the fall marathon as my big "A race" target.

Even though the marathon will be the big race for me, I do have my sights set on lowering my 5K PR and, depending on how my winter running goes, lowering my half marathon PR as well. I'll decide on that in about a month.

So, there you have it. My 2013 race schedule . . . so far!

Do you have a big "A race" on your schedule for this year?

Have a good weekend, everyone!

~ Felice

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Re-energize your running!

No kidding around: The winter doldrums can hit even the most motivated runners and cause energy levels to sag. 

It happens. The days are cold. The sun sets early. There's a ton of stuff to be done. Running might become a little flat.

If you feel like a saggy runner these days, I have some tips to help you break out of your slump. Read on . . . and then run on!

Re-energizing tip #1: READ!

A sure way to break out of a slump and re-energize your running is to read about the running exploits of others. Reading about how runners overcome adversity, manage to train for multiple marathons in a year, or find beauty in their daily 3-milers can be inspiring.
Ultra Marathon Man
by Dean Karnazes

For some, the over-the-top stories of ultrarunners like Dean Karnazes or Marshall Ulrich are just what they need to read to help them get out the door on days when their energy is flagging. 

For others, the observations of local runners dealing with the day-to-day challenges of regular runners everywhere are more motivating.
Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, there are many resources for reading about running and runners. Start with these:
by Benjamin Cheever
  • Search your local library or bookstore to find books on running and runners. In addition to the two runners mentioned above, some authors to consider include Bart Yasso, Benjamin Cheever, John Brant and Christopher McDougall. 
  • Chances are, there are some inspiring local running bloggers in your city or town. Search for them online or contact your local running club and ask if they know of local running blogs. You might learn some new things about your local running community! 
Re-energizing tip #2: RACE!

If you put racing on-hold during the dark days of winter, you are missing out! One of the best ways to stay motivated and keep your energy levels up is to race because races force you to get outside -- and sometimes just running outside is all it takes to make you feel more energetic. The faster running can shake up your routine and put a little spring in your step as well. 
My local running club puts on a winter series of races that are incredibly low-key affairs. They are good opportunities to get in (supported) long runs, without having to worry about any of the hoopla that can surround bigger in-season races. Check out your local club to find some races for yourself -- or, plan a destination race that gets your running someplace else. A nice option for those of you who live in the colder climates (like me!).
Re-energizing tip #3: DATE!
Date? Yup, date. 
My third re-energizing tip is to make running dates with people you don't normally run with. Maybe someone faster than you or someone slower, or that running friend you haven't seen in ages . . . doesn't matter who it is, just make a date and run. If you usually run alone, just running with someone will be a treat! Try it out!

Do you have a go-to tactic for re-energizing your running
when you feel a slump coming on?

Thanks for stopping by ~ and happy running!

~ Felice

This post contains affiliate links.

Monday, January 7, 2013

2012 by the numbers.

Last week I shared my 2012 in pictures. Today I'm looking back at the numbers. So, here goes.

Total mileage: 1277.8
Highest mileage month: April, 158.6
Lowest mileage month: October, 57.4

Number of races: 12
Racing highlights: 
Racing lowlights:
I learned a lot from both my racing highlights and the lowlights, much of which I wrote about in my race reports for each race (and that I've linked to above). I plan to keep putting that knowledge to work in my 2013 races.

Speaking of 2013 races, I need to get on that. I have a few plans for some key races, including a spring half marathon, but I need to fill in the rest of the year. While I'm at it, it wouldn't hurt to come up with some goals, huh? Yeah, I'll get on that, too!

Have a great week, everyone!

~ Felice 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Diet-to-go -- feed me!

Around here, I do the cooking. The planning, the shopping, the cooking. That's just what I do.

So, you can imagine that when I got the chance to try out Diet-to-Go, a home diet delivery meal plan, I jumped at it. Because I did. I jumped at it.

And here's the thing. Meals -- healthy ones, no less -- delivered right to my door? That are all prepared and ready for me to just heat up and eat?


One of my favorites:
The fajita omelet with seasoned artichokes.

I was sent nine meals total -- three breakfast meals, three lunches and three dinners. Check out some of the offerings:
  • Fajita omelet with mozzarella cheese and seasoned artichokes
  • Raisin bran muffin, strawberry preserves, yogurt and OJ
  • Mushroom and leek strata with yogurt and V8
  • Turkey sandwich with an apple
  • Chicken philly sub with peach pudding
  • Spaghetti pie with breadsticks
  • Tamale pie with corn-on-the-cob, baked potato with sour cream, and breadsticks

Overall, I totally enjoyed the meals. They were surprisingly tasty. I was expecting the meals to be maybe one step up from frozen supermarket diet meals and I was completely wrong. The fajita omelet, for example, was delicious. It made me wish that I was the type of person who woke up early and could make omelets for breakfast every day. It was really good, really filling. And the side of seasoned artichokes was unexpected and a nice complement to the omelet.

One of my other favorites was the mushroom and leek strata. I could eat that every day! And the tamale pie was seriously spicy -- yummy and good spicy, but unexpectedly so.

There were a few things that I thought were a wee bit weird. Like the combination of the tamale pie with corn-on-the-cob, baked potato with sour cream, and bread sticks  It was a bit of carb over-kill, in my opinion, and didn't require the bread sticks (so I didn't eat them). And you know, the peach pudding was just strange. Not bad -- it certainly tasted good -- but it was strange to me. I think it would have been better to just serve up some peaches. But that's me.

I love raisin bran muffins!
Which is weird, since I don't even like raisins...
Now, here's something I learned during this whole eating-the-prepared-Diet-to-Go-meals thing: If you plan it right, you can probably eat a lot more food for a lot fewer calories than you might expect.

How's that for a clunky sentence?

What I mean by this is that I was surprised by how few calories were in each meal -- and how filling they all were. It was eye-opening. I've always known that meal planning is the way to go when you want to eat healthy and Diet-to-Go proved that once again.

The one downside for me was all the packaging. Every meal used a lot of containers and plastic wrap and just packaging in general. For someone who tries to use as little packaging as possible, this was a negative.

But Diet-to-Go certainly makes healthy eating easy -- and delicious. The company has been around for over 20 years and they have consistently been ranked a top pick in taste tests and they just won "top meal plan" in a national blind taste test conducted by Epicurious.

There are three meal plans that you can choose from: Traditional low-fat (which is what I tried), vegetarian, and low-carb. If you decide to buy the meals, they don't require a contract and the plans start at $95.99 per week.

And, hey, lucky you: Right now (through January 8th) they are offering a New Year's Sale where you can save 25% on your order (making the meal plan $71.99 per week). Use the coupon code: newyear2013.

But wait! There's more! 

Diet-to-Go is giving away 1000 meals in a sweepstakes that is running now through February 1st. You gotta be in it to win it so why not enter? Just go to the sweepstakes page and enter to win a month or a week of meals.

Check out the web site to learn more about Diet-to-Go.

Have you tried Diet-to-Go? Had success with diet delivery plans? Let me know!

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Felice

FitFluential LLC compensated me for this Campaign. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

December recap.

December can pretty much be summed up in one word: Cookies.

As in, I ate a lot of them. A whole lot.

I baked. And ate. And that's the way the month went. Baking and eating.

Good thing I ran a lot. Otherwise, wow, I'd probably need a whole new wardrobe!

At any rate, the running has been going super well and, thankfully, the cookies are gone and the goodies of the holiday season are gone along with them. Bring on lots of healthy eating in 2013!

I hope :-)

December stats:

Running (miles): 110.7
Racing: 0
Cross training: a little, maybe 4 times

That was the month. I'm looking forward to another 100+ mile month. No reason to think that won't happen -- especially since I kicked it off with 8.5 miles and a race so far! Yay!

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Felice

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My naked and free New Year's Day race!

No, I was not foolish enough to race in 20-something degree weather without clothes.

I did, however, race without my Garmin. In a race where there were no mile markers, no on-course timing, nothing. In terms of time, I was a naked racer.

Running naked -- you know, sans Garmin -- is one thing. But racing? Totally different. I felt so . . . weird. I almost felt a little lost because I had no idea how far or how long I had been running. No idea about my pace. Very weird.

Yesterday's race was part of the winter series put on by the local Hudson Mohawk Road Runners Club. The races take place at the SUNY Albany and state office campuses -- notorious wind tunnels. And, yes, the course was pretty windy yesterday. And cold.

But I am so glad I got out there and ran!

Before the race, I saw a bunch of friends -- Bridget (we drove there together), Tami, Melissa, Karen, Deb, Jenny, Rebecca -- a real treat. Some were running the half marathon (which I ran last year and vowed to never run again -- the half marathon course is dreadful) and the rest of us were running the 3.5-miler.

Since I was a naked runner, I set out to just run at a steady and comfortable-yet-pushing-it pace. I paid attention to my breathing, letting how that felt determine how much I pushed, how much I pulled back.

I felt good for the whole run. I was just running, even though, yes, it was a race. It was a nice way to run a race, actually.

In the end, I finished in 27:27, which is a 7:51 pace. After talking to several people after the race, it appears the course was more like 3.7/3.75, not the 3.5 as advertised. So, if that was the case, my pace was around 7:20.

To be honest, it felt more like I was running a 7:20-ish pace than a 7:50 pace. Regardless, I'm pleased with how I ran -- all naked and free!

(The free part, by the way, is the best part -- the winter series races are free for club members! Yay for free races!)

With Bridget after the race.

Welcome, 2013! I hope you bring many more days of racing fun!

Happy New Year, everyone! 

~ Felice

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