Friday, February 27, 2009

A review and my first GIVEAWAY!!!

Yup, my first giveaway! I'm so very happy.

Caroline at Broadway Books kindly sent me a copy of Run Faster from the 5K to the Marathon: How to Be Your Own Best Coach to review and give away.

The book is written by Brad Hudson and Matt Fitzgerald. Hudson coaches elite runners, including Dathan Ritzenhein, the top US finisher in the 2008 Olympic marathon. Fitzgerald is an accomplished triathlete who has written several running and triathlon training books.

From the publisher:

Filled with runner profiles, easy-to-read charts, and illustrative accounts from the top runners Brad coaches, RUN FASTER is the first user-friendly guide to creating an individual training program designed especially for runners of all speeds and of all ages.

There was a lot that I liked about this book, starting with the sub-title: How To Be Your Own Best Coach. I'm never going to have a running coach so the idea of becoming better at coaching myself appealed to me. Unlike many other training books that I've read, this book doesn't prescribe any set plan. Rather it offers a step-by-step guide to creating, implementing and monitoring your own training plan. Hudson believes that every runner needs to have an individual plan because every runner is unique.

Hudson talks a lot about assessing yourself as a runner and how what you learn through the assessment should drive your plan. His self-assessment plan outlines 10 factors that every runner should consider in developing their training plan. I found this self-assessment to be particularly useful as I looked inward to decide whether or not to continue my marathon training. It helped me to think about the many factors that influence running success. I think that sometimes we get fixed on achieving a particular goal, period. Hudson shows that, through self-assessment, we can become better at setting appropriate goals and plans to achieve them.

He is also a proponent of hill running, specifically hill sprints. As you can imagine, this hill lover could relate to that!

Most of all, Hudson writes in a very sincere style: I felt that he really wants to help people realize their running potential. Overall, I enjoyed the book and learned a good bit about my running style and what I should and should not be doing. I almost didn't want to give the book away!

But I am.

The Giveaway!

The winner of Run Faster will be selected at random. Entering is easy!

One entry: Leave a comment on this post
One entry: Follow me (if you already do, just note that in your comment)

I'll post the winner here on Wednesday. Be sure to check back to see if you've won!

Good luck and happy Friday!

~ Felice

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The outpouring.

Thank you all for your kind and supportive words on my last post. It was a hard decision to make but I am convinced it was the right one. I don't know why I was so nervous to post about it!

In other, random, news . . . poor Tom Renney, one of my favorite Canadians (although I am pretty fond of all those blogging Canadians!), was fired. I don't even know what the new guy sounds like. Harumpf! Rangers games have lost their luster.

A few of you have asked how my mom likes her Ab Rocket. She was into it right after the holiday but I haven't heard much about it since. Two months seems like an adequate amount of time to get a feel for the equipment so I'll try to wrangle a review from her.

I've become a big fan of Rudi's Organic Honey Sweet Whole Wheat bread. And not just because it rhymes, although that doesn't hurt.

I'm excited -- I mean, really excited -- about my 4-mile race on 3/7. It will be my first race since last fall and I'm excited. Did I mention that I'm excited?

Well, that's it. I'm grateful for your support!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A heap of honesty.

Or, Good thing that plan was written in pencil!

OK. Here it is: I'm not going to run the NJ Marathon.

Ooooooooh, I know. I wanted to. I wanted to suffer through the long runs until, suddenly, 15 miles would feel easy. I wanted to be hungry all the time because I was running all those miles. I wanted to run mid-week 8 milers. I wanted to train well. I wanted to run the NJ Marathon and I wanted to finish in under 4 hours.

And yet, I'm not. I'm not doing any of that. After many long conversations with myself I am backing out.

I feel crappy about it, to be honest. I feel like I'm letting everyone who has left me supportive comments -- or even just thought those supportive thoughts -- down. But, I am simply not prepared. I've been struggling with the training and when I stopped to think about what was going on, I realized that I had put the marathon on my schedule for the wrong reason. Yes, I want to run another marathon and I believe that I will. But, now? No.

After getting some rotten news in December, I decided to train for the marathon. It would get my mind off of things and give me a big, exciting goal to work toward. Unfortunately, the marathon training came to feel like punishment. Not exactly what I was looking for.

So, I thought about what I was doing and why I was doing it and it occurred to me that now is not the right time for me to run a marathon. I backed out.

Instead, I'm running just because I love it. And, believe me, I do. My recent runs have been fun and fast (for me) and have left me feeling reinvigorated. This is good. These runs are making me feel a little less crappy about my decision. I've got a 4 mile race scheduled for 3/7 and I'm hoping that running it well will shake off any residual crappy feelings about the marathon.

Sheesh. What a downer, huh? I don't mean to be so let's move on to something a little more fun . . . I'm going to be posting my very first giveaway on Friday! Yay! Be sure to check back to find out all about it.

And don't forget about the Runners' Lounge book! The essay deadline is 2/28 . . . tick, tock, tick, tock.

~ Felice

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Have I mentioned that I'm a maniac?

Not in any ultra-running or jumping-in-frigid-water-in-January sort of way. No. I'm a maniac about stuff I decide is good. Good for me, good for my son and husband, good for the environment. Once I decide that something is good for . . . then I'm all in. In like Flynn!

So it is with the high fructose corn syrup. I'm all in! Gimme more!

Oops! No, not that kind of all in. I'm actually against it. Once I learned how yucky (to use one of those technical terms that I'm always bandying about) it is, I decided to cut as much of it out of my (and Conal's and Owen's) diet as possible. And now I'm a maniac about it.

Yup, I'm that woman who walks around the grocery store and reads Every Single Label and when -- Holy Cannoli! -- the HFCS-free bread is on sale, buys six loaves! Six loaves. I kid you not. Right now, my freezer is packed with HFCS-free 7-grain bread that was a steeee-al at $2.49 per loaf.

Maniacal. I was this way with the cloth diapers give it up for the Kushies! and the homemade baby food, yogurt, flax, oats, sitting on a tennis ball, and, oh, and lots of other things. Still am. I'm nothing if not loyal to my personal good fors. And now I can add Down with HFCS! to my list.

If you are interested at all in the whole HFCS thing, I recommend the blog A Life Less Sweet. The site is a great resource for avoiding foods that contain HFCS.

Speaking of foods (and not, apparently, speaking of running today), thanks for all of the chick pea recipes! And keep 'em coming.

That's it from Manical Me. Have a great Monday!

~ Felice

Friday, February 20, 2009

Duped. But OK with it.

Yesterday was one of those days that seemed too good to be true. And was.

Great mommy stuff in the morning: A fun visit to the State Museum with my son and some friends and a yummy lunch at Subway, which is about as good as it gets when you're toting around a 20-month old. It sure beats reheating leftovers, anyway.

The toddler went right down for a nap when I got home and I went right to work. As a nice little treat (for me, not him), my husband was home for the day because he has a cold. Or flu. Something.

This meant I could get outside for an afternoon run. Yay for sick days!

It was all coming together: I had a fun morning, a productive afternoon and even got hired for a new project. By late afternoon I was ready to go. I dressed appropriately for the 37-ish degree weather and off I went. About 50 feet into my run I saw the first snowflake. Crud. By 75 feet in (don't quote me on that, I'm Garmin-less so I'm just going by feel here) it was full-on snowing. I'd like to say it was a snow squall but I'm not entirely sure what that means so let's just say it was snowing really hard. And it was windy. So windy, in fact, that the snow was blowing right into my ears. On both sides!

The good thing about this snow is that I didn't know it was coming so I still went for my run. Had the snow started before I left the house, I would not have run. As anyone who has read this blog more than once knows, I'm a cold weather wimp. Yesterday, though, I toughed it out. And felt so very hard core.

Still, I felt a little duped.

No worries. Today is Friday (happy Friday, everyone!) and we're heading to Long Island for the weekend. I may or may not get a run in while I'm down there. I'm bringing my gear, just in case.

Have a great weekend!

~ Felice

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Calling all runners!

I've been a total slacker, so busy sending out the press release for the upcoming Runners' Lounge book that I haven't posted about it here. Sheesh!

So, if you already know about the book, have submitted your essay or are still working on it, good for you! If you don't know about the book, here's the deal. Keep reading, Internets, this is exciting!

Runners' Lounge is publishing a book of collected running wisdom from real runners around the world. That includes me (once I ahem finish my essay), many awesome running bloggers, and could easily include you! You don't need to blog in order to be part of this project. You just need a love of running. To find out more about the project and how to submit your essay, visit the Runners' Lounge site.

The deadline for submissions is February 28th. If you're a slacker like me, that means you need to get busy!

Happy Wednesday, everyone.

~ Felice

Monday, February 16, 2009

Let the sun shine . . . let the sun shine in . . . the su-u-un shine in!

Hey, no problem. I'll let the sun shine in any day it would like to. In fact, I've been letting it shine all weekend! You're welcome :-)

This was a great weekend. Not only was it a long one (thanks to Washington and Lincoln) and a sunny one but it also included three good runs and a rockin' workout. Yes, I dropped the g. I'm cool like that. Watch out!

Friday evening was 5.5 miles on the 'mill and let me tell you, they felt great! I warmed up well and settled right into a nice pace and just ran. I'm still mulling over my goals and a few other things and I took a little time during my run to think about them. I also took some time to let my mind wander and to sing along with some vintage The Cure and REM. Silently. Not aloud. Aloud would be scary. I'm a runner, not a singer.

Saturday was a total mom-type day: grocery shopping, laundry, vacuuming, whipping up a hearty steak-and-potatoes meal for my guys. I even hit up exercise tv for a workout. I picked one of the Biggest Loser cardio workouts and then did two short strength ones, Buns & Thighs and a core something or other. Normally, I avoid workouts with the word buns in the title (there's just something about that term that conjures up the image of an aerobics studio filled with women in hot pink leotards, puffy socks and big hair. I don't know, just happens.) but on Saturday I decided to set aside my aversion. I went for it. The buns workout was tough and my buns have been sore ever since.

Luckily my sore buns (once I start with the italics it is hard to stop . . .) didn't keep me from enjoying two sunny runs, yesterday and today. Yesterday, I ran 4 miles in my neighborhood and I loved every second of it. I was so happy to be out in the sun, running up my hills. It's ridiculous how much I love hills. I just do. Now, don't get me wrong, I know hills are tough. But I like the challenge and my legs appreciate the gait change that they require. Hills, I say, are your friends. This afternoon I went a smidgen longer than yesterday, again in my 'hood, again with the hills.

I simply cannot wait until all of my runs can be outside.

Switching subjects -- anyone have any good chick pea recipes? I have a few but need some more. Many thanks.

I hope everyone had great weekend!

~ Felice

Friday, February 13, 2009

My addiction.

I admit it: I've become a cross training addict.

Don't ask me how it happened because I just don't have an answer for you. One day, I was all running all the time, no cross training for this gal. The next day, I'm a cross trainer. I blame winter. Winter and my perpetual struggle with the treadmill. Winter, my perpetual struggle with the treadmill and the enthusiasm of Jillian Michaels. Yes, that's it.

I've raved about the Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred enough already. I still love it and definitely recommend it. But I've been branching out, trying new things.

So, for your Friday, here's some other worthy cross training options.

Jillian Michaels: No More Trouble Zones. Yes, more Jillian. I guess I just really like her style. Or something like that. Anyway, there is one abs sequence in this workout that kills me like no other. It's tough in that "it's working!" type of way. She also introduced me to the Surrender, which is one punishing full-body move. Overall, the workout is tough but fun.

The other workout I've been doing is Elise Gulan's Ultimate Body: Yoga Fitness. Elise is an awesome instructor (and not just because we have rhyming names). She includes just the right amount of pep in her yoga instruction and she provides beginner and more advanced options for most of the moves. I decided to get back into yoga a bit after Lisa at Chasin' Bunnies started writing more about it and I'm glad I did. I feel like my body is gaining both strength and flexibility, which will ultimately help my running.

Now, I haven't loved everything that I've tried. I'm far too spazzy for Ilyse Baker's Dance Party workout, for example. I simply cannot get the kick ball change and whatnot. I need routines that don't require much flair and, I don't know, moves that require me to lift my arm over my head and say, "Party! Party! Party!" to the beat just aren't my style.

So there you have it. My reviews. I hope you all enjoy the rest of your Friday and have a great weekend! I plan to get in an easy run and a long run -- and maybe a little cross training, too!

~ Felice

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Show me those hips!

I remember exactly where I was when it happened: Approaching the school building in the second mile of the 15k. I stepped in a small (very small, only someone as clumsy as me would have made such a misstep) hole and my body contorted. My knee and hip immediately started to hurt. I stepped to the side and stretched, while other runners passed me by, some of them trying to be helpful with their perky comments like, "Don't stop now!" and "You can do it!"

I wondered what I should do. My options were to a) walk the two or so miles back to the start, with my head hung low and my spirits lower or b) suck it up and finish the race.

I sucked it up. I finished the race. I did not run a step for three months after that.

During those three months, I went to an orthopedist, then physical therapy and, finally, a chiropractor. I vowed that I would not let an injury force me to the sidelines again. So, I started to stretch.

My injury may have been acute, but there was an underlying ITB issue that I had ignored and that was made much, much worse by my clumsy step. Lesson learned: Take care of your injuries, stretch the muscles that get tight and are prone to injuries.

Today's theme for Take it and Run Thursday over at Runners' Lounge is "share your favorite stretch." Well, based on my history, my favorite stretch is the ITB stretch. You know, the one where you stand up, cross one leg in front of the other and push the stretch through the hip of the back leg. Yeah, that one. I love that stretch. If I could do only one stretch, that would be it.

I'm not, however, an A+ stretcher. I don't stretch as well or as often as I should. I have tight hamstrings and my quads get only half-hearted, occasional stretches. But I'm fairly consistent with the ITB stretch (and with my little strengthening routing that the pt prescribed 7 years ago after that fateful race). I also believe in warming up with The Stick before running and certainly before stretching. My pre-run routine includes rolling my legs with The Stick, doing some quick ITB stretches and maybe a hamstring stretch (if I remember) and heading out. Weak, I know. I'm working on it. Since I started to do a little more cross training, I've become more flexible. I'm doing a little yoga now and my other workouts include cooldown stretches. Baby steps. Or, should I say, baby stretches.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Let's get muddy!

Remember way back in the fall I mentioned that a friend of mine and I were starting to swap kids? Not in any weird way, just every Wednesday one of us would have both kids and the other would have freedom. It's been working out great but it hasn't helped much with my daytime runs, although that's what I thought I would get out of it in the beginning.

Instead, I've mostly used my Wednesdays to work. Boring, I know. But almost every Wednesday we've had some sort of gross, to use the technical term, precipitation. That's what happens in the winter in upstate New York.

Today, though, the weather cooperated and I took full advantage of it. I enjoyed a sunny, hilly, easy run today at 10:30 in the morning. Hoo-ha! Since it was already 50 degrees, and has been in the 40s for a few days, it was quite muddy out. Here's proof:

My sneaks before the run.

My sneaks after the run.

Hmm . . . they don't look as muddy in the photo as they seemed in real life. You'll just have to believe me!

In other news, the x on my keyboard has gone wonky. The key cover thingy keeps popping off, which makes typing a bit difficult. What I wonder is, why the x? Doesn't the d or the r or one of those other mid-keyboard letters get more use? Wouldn't they be more likely to pop off? I would think so but I guess not. If you notice misspellings in upcoming posts, blame the x.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A call for Hope.

Maybe you're read about Hope Runs in Runner's World or elsewhere. Maybe you've never heard of them. Either way, I'm here to request that you check them out and learn a little more.

Hope Runs is a non-profit NGO working in Kenya and Tanzania, using athletics, education, and social entrepreneurship to empower AIDS orphans. Claire Williams, one of the founders, emailed me with information on their Hope Runs 777 Challenge.

Here's some information on the Challenge:

In 2010, Hope Runs will be leading a Guinness World Record-breaking endeavor to complete 7 marathons on 7 continents in only 7 weeks. With a team of dedicated runners, we are committed to breaking some fantastic Guinness World Records (yes - there are some left to be broken in the area!). We are also proud to be running a green event through carbon-emissions-offset sponsoring.

The Hope Runs 777 Challenge will help bring the issues facing the 14.5 million AIDS orphans in Africa alone to the forefront of the world’s consciousness. By pushing ourselves to the limit, our team will raise awareness for the issues facing orphaned and vulnerable children (OVCs) all over the world, mobilizing people everywhere to become more involved. With each member of the team covering his or her own costs and committing to raise thousands more toward the cause, this effort will help to make a lasting impact in places that need it most.
The Challenge has lost some of its team members and is looking for new ones. Maybe some of you intrepid runners would be up for the challenge? You can visit their blog here or their web site here. Or, send an email to for more information. Even if you are not interested in running, check out their sites. I spent some time reading about them this evening and have been very impressed by what Claire and her Hope Runs partner Lara are doing. It is really amazing.


Monday, February 9, 2009

A time-out for love.

I had a big time-out this weekend in the form of my brother's wedding. With all of the activity, I didn't run on Friday or Saturday. I did get to run 4 miles outside on Sunday, though, which was a real treat.

But let's talk about the wedding. Do you love weddings? I do. Love the whole package. Love the dressing up, love the ceremony, love the "I dos." I love the cocktail hour, the open bar, the dancing, the photos, the toasts, the whole thing. Love the love.

Sigh . . .

Weddings are such happy times and my brother's wedding was no exception. So, I thought I would share a few photos with you. You know, to share the love!

The happy couple:

My two brothers, me, and my sister:

(Yes, I am the oldest and the shortest! What gives?)

The hubby and me:

(I'm the older and shorter one there, too!)

That's it, folks. Hope you all had a great weekend and you're enjoying a nice start to the week!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Two good runs.

I'm not going to get too excited, but Wednesday evening went well and I had a good run on Thursday, too. Thanks for all of your positive vibes! They really help when my attitude is dumpy.

I did a speed workout on Wednesday and the key to that was not to be too aggressive. In looking at why my previous speed workout was so yucky, I determined that I didn't warmup properly. So, on Wednesday, I took it easy for a full mile and then ran fast. But, not too fast. I pushed the pace, but it was one that I could maintain a little better.

On Thursday I had a whole nutty thing going on. If you are interested in the non-running drama that occurred (screaming toddler! potential catastrophe! firemen!), you can check it out here. We're fine so don't worry about us. And, through it all, I did manage a short run, which felt pretty good.

Two good runs to follow my crummy week. Not bad.

As promised, I've been reflecting on my running and my goals. I'm not ready to say whether or not my goals are going to change but I am ready to say my attitude is going to change. I've been down this road before. When things don't go well, I pretty much convince myself that I have failed and nothing that I can do will lift me up and out of realm of failure. It's silly, really, and I know that. My immediate goal is to shake it off. These two good runs (and some tough cross training) have helped. So have your comments. Really, I appreciate them so much! I am going to try to keep the Running Laminator's comment in mind as I move forward, because it is something I sure need to remember: "My motto is we're never as fast as we think we are after a good run and never as slow as after a bad one either!" So, I guess I'm not as pathetic as last week would lead one to believe. Yeah! Go me!

Well, that's it. My update. Now, friends, I am off to get ready for my brother's wedding this evening. I'm hoping to have lots of fun, but not so much that I can't get a run in tomorrow!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Dear Running.


I'm sorry I said I was beginning to dread you. I don't mean any disrespect. It's just . . . well, it's just that you've been a little tough to take and I needed to vent. Please don't take it personally. Even the best relationships experience some rough times along with the smooth.

Now that we've had two days apart, I'm ready to get things going again. So, what do say we meet at the treadmill, 5:30-ish, and work on building up some speed. I'll bring fresh legs, you bring the fun. Sound good?

Thanks. See you then.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Rearview mirror.

I don't even really know what to say. "Hi, my name is Felice and I am a big bag of lazy bones." Sure, I guess I could say that. Few would argue. Or maybe I could try to explain the whole thing. "There were forces working against me that were far beyond my control." Hmm . . . that would be a bit of a stretch. Almost a lie.

So let me just say this: My running has been awful.

Looking back at the week, I can see that it just wasn't meant to be. I didn't have my head in the game, so to speak. Sure, I started the week with a nice little recovery run followed by speedwork. But, let's be honest. I wasn't feeling it. Friday evening was my tempo run. Or, as I have come to refer to it, my off-tempo run.

I had nothing. Nothing. I warmed up and felt sloggy. I sped up to my tempo pace and felt sloggier. I slowed a bit. Sloggy still. I took a walk break. Thought I might be OK. I sped back up. Back to sloggy. I pushed through. Sloggy. What was with me? I may never know.

And then we have Sunday. Ah, Sunday. Sunday with its promised highs in the 40s. Sunday the sunny day. Sunday of the 13 mile run. Sunday of the scheduled 13 mile run, that is.

I didn't do it. Just didn't. You know how you get yourself all set to do something and then the day comes and you just back out? Like when you are in 6th grade and you're all set to run for homeroom rep and then just like that you up and decide not to turn in your petition and so you can't get on the ballot? Well, that's what happened on Sunday. Sunday the most perfect day for a long run. I just up and decided not to do it.

For no reason. I mean, sure, I had reasons but, really, they weren't legitimate.

Instead of sticking to my schedule and running 13 miles, I went for an easy 4 mile run around my neighborhood and then came home and did a Shred workout. Now, I have guilt. What is with me? Why am I sabotaging my plans? I haven't the slightest idea. I just felt cruddy during my speedwork, cruddier during my tempo run and then didn't even attempt my long run.

I did, however, have a terrific 4 mile run. Maybe that's what I needed. Maybe I didn't need to slog through a long run yesterday. Maybe doing that would have made me feel worse. Who knows?

It is Monday. I'm going to take this week to re-evaluate some of my short-term goals, to get my head back in the game. Thinking about last week makes me cringe. I love to run. I don't want it to become something I dread because I've set goals for myself that don't work. So, I'm off to observe and evaluate.

Have a great week, everyone!

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