Thursday, April 30, 2009

Time, time, time.

Today's Take it and Run Thursday topic is time and balance. Tom and Amy at Runners' Lounge have asked how runners find "the time to run and balance running with all the other priorities in our lives."

Good question. I can't wait to read others' posts so I can pick up some tips.

But you're here now and probably expecting a tip or two from me. Luckily, I've racked my brain and come up with a few!

1. Communicate. Make sure that those who need to (spouses, parents, friends, partners, kids, etc.), know that running is one of your priorities.

I'm fortunate to have a husband who understands that I like to run and knows that being able to run is a priority for me. He encourages my running and gladly stays with Conal when he gets home from work so I can get my runs in. And, we're both fortunate that he gets to run at work, so our running schedule doesn't conflict.

2.Be flexible.

There are days when I feel stretched by too many commitments to go for a real run. On those days, I can usually sneak in a short loop around my neighborhood, cut my stretching to the bare minimum, speed shower, and forgo the hair dryer. It works.

The opposite is true, too. When I have a wide open schedule and I'm feeling it, my runs tend to be longer or faster or maybe both. Well, rarely both but a girl can dream, right?

3. Keep your running clothes clean.

OK, this is probably something that you all figured out long ago and I'm the only one that has to work on it. But, jeez. Laundry sure can pile up quickly and it really rots when you want to go for a run and all of your sports bras are in the hamper. That, my friends, is a drag. So, make sure you are always prepared with some clean running clothes. I'm working on this one.

4. Remember that you are in control.

Tell that to a toddler, huh? Yeah, I know. They like to be charge, those little ones. So does work. And TV shows, magazines and facebook. They all want to be in charge of your time. They want you to spend your time on them.

Remember this: Ultimately, you are in charge. Sure, you have responsibilities that take up your time. But your free time is yours. If running is something that is important to you, then you'll find time for it. Maybe you watch a little less TV so you can fit in more running, or maybe you stop worrying about having the cleanest house on the block and settle for clean enough. Maybe you switch your runs to the morning if the evening is too hectic, or vice versa. Or maybe, just maybe, you say no to those things that you really, truly don't want to do -- even though you feel obligated to say yes. It's hard to do, I know. But it works.

It's up to you. You're the ruler when it comes to your time. For real.

I'm no pro: I struggle with time management like the rest of the world. I like to think that since I had a child, I've become better at managing my time. It's been out of necessity. The only way that I can care for my son full time, take on freelance jobs, be on the board of a non-profit, run, have a clean-ish house and not lose my mind is to prioritize, say no when I have to, and try to make the most of the time that I do have.

And that's it. That's all I've got. The laundry beckons. I must wash it because I believe I am out of running socks.

~ Felice

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Running away.

That's how I felt yesterday. Like running away.

And so I did.

I ran for 5 miles and although it wasn't exactly away, since the miles were logged in my basement on the treadmill, it worked. I ran out the crud. Shook off the last of the migraine fog. Gave myself a break.

A run like yesterday's run -- the kind that you absolutely need, that can turn your day around -- is the best. Five miles to a better day. Maybe not the best day ever (the laundry still refused to fold itself) but better. And who doesn't like better?

I like better! And, better still, I like gimpy, broken, painful, bunionized toes that are starting to feel better. No thanks to the podiatrist appointment that is still over a month away.

I had an "aha!" moment a week or so ago: My toe and yoga do not get along. It's true. All of those downward dogs and whatnots were forcing my toe into positions that weren't terribly painful during the yoga but that caused a lot of inflammation and pain afterward. Pain with a capital P. Pain pain.

So I stopped doing the yoga and went back to Jillian Michael's Shred for my non-running days and justlikethat the toe is feeling a lot better. The joint is no longer as swollen and red (it was not a pretty sight), and the pain pain is gone. I still have a little lower-case p pain, but I'm used to that.

Lesson learned.

But, ugh. I liked doing yoga. I contemplated giving it a go wearing a pair of sneakers to protect my toes from having to bend too much. But, no. Wearing my clunky Brooks while flowing through the moves seems somehow counter to the whole yoga thing, you know?

So that's that. No more yoga. At least for now. Until Mr. Magic Foot Doctor fixes me up with a mere tap of his Magic Foot Doctor Wand. Because it will be that simple and pain free. I'm sure of it.

Hope you're having a great a day!

~ Felice

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Two sides.

On the downside . . .

  • It's hot.
  • I have a migraine.
  • I haven't posted since Saturday.
  • I have a pitch letter to write and can't get motivated.
  • The Yankees can't win to save their lives.
  • The dirty dishes never clean themselves.
  • And the just-washed clothes never fold themselves.
  • The i key on my keyboard is busted.
  • It's I'm-sweating-just-standing-here hot.
  • I didn't run yesterday.
  • Didn't even workout.
  • My legs are covered with mosquito bites.
But on the upside . . .
  • Conal has the appetite of a 15-year-old football-playing boy after a few days of not wanting to eat much of anything.
  • My head hurts a lot less than it did when I woke up.
  • I'm planning to run during naptime.
  • The arugula I bought on Saturday is incredibly tasty.
  • I'm meeting friends for dinner.
  • It's sunny.
  • And not raining.
  • I got a new pair of sneaks yesterday.
  • I'm going to wear them for today's run.
And on the super upside . . .
  • I'm feeling much better now.
  • Thank you.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hey, hoo, heat wave! (And a Solixir review.)

Right now, as I'm writing, it's 85 degrees. Holy heat wave. Yesterday was pretty warm but today is simply hot. Hot and sunny.

I felt the warmth when I was out for my run yesterday. It was an OK run, but I was rushing to fit it in before going to my sister's lacrosse game. Whenever I have to rush to fit in a run it always feels a little off. But, I did it.

In my rushing and running around with my toddler yesterday, I failed to post my latest review! So much for keeping to a schedule . . .

So, here it is, a day late:

Solixir Sparkling Botanical Beverage

Solixir is a new line of beverages that launched in early April and is being sold at Whole Foods nationwide. Scott at Solixir sent me a few cans of their first three flavors to sample: blackberry chamomile, pomegranate ginger and orange mate.

Before I get to my review of the actual drinks, I have to give some props to this company. If you check out their website, you'll see why I like them. They are ultra-positive and interested in promoting a healthy lifestyle. Their values, for example, are, "embrace the entrepreneurial spirit, give back to the community and planet, do everything with a smile." I love that last one! And why not, really? I mean, when I'm struggling through a tough run or that second set of walking push-ups in the level 3 Shred video, a smile tends to ease things up a bit.

So, anyway, back to the beverages. The drinks are what I would call lightly carbonated. They aren't bubbly like soda, more like Pellegrino or some such drink. And, yeah, that figures because the beverages are made with sparkling spring water. They don't contain sugar or artificial sweeteners. Instead, they are sweetened with fruit juice. The result is a drink that has more flavor than sweetness. This is both good and bad.

You may remember me mentioning that I was going to have a bunch of toddlers over for a big Earth Day hoo-ha. Well, the moms came over, too, and I shared the Solixir beverages with them. The pomegranate ginger went over well enough but the blackberry chamomile was a bust. Everyone thought it was too bland and not sweet enough. One mom even tried to sweeten it up by adding a little sugar, but that, well, let's just say that didn't work. We did have some laughs, though.

My favorite of the three beverages is the orange mate. It's meant to energize and is marketed as "the perfect choice before a workout" and that it is. Since it isn't too sweet and it isn't overly carbonated, it is good for before a run. I loved the flavor and the little kick from the 30mg of natural caffeine. I would definitely buy the orange mate. It delivers! (In fact, I'm drinking a can of it now.)

There you have it. A new beverage option.

And now, I am going to get outside and make the most of this sunny, hot day.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

~ Felice

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Race Discount!

Special Offer for the 98th Annual ING Bay to Breakers 12k : May 17th, 2009

Please don't think this is a commercial but a woman promoting the ING Bay to Breakers 12k in contacted me with an opportunity for interested runners to get a discount on race registration. Here's some information:

Now in its 98th year, Bay to Breakers is one of the world's largest and oldest footraces, held annually in San Francisco. ESPN recently this race named one of the “101 things all sports fans must experience before they die.” This year's race will be held on May 17, 2009. Funds raised through registration fees make the event possible each year and support numerous Bay Area beneficiaries, like Breathe California.

ING Bay to Breakers 12k has a special offer for readers of The Happy Runner! You can get an additional 5% off the early registration price for this year’s race. Check it out!

  • Visit for details about the race
  • Register online by midnight on April 30th, 2009 to receive the early registration price with an additional 5% discount
  • Enter this coupon code 5HAPPYRUN09 (case sensitive) and click ‘redeem’ before completing your registration
  • This offer is limited to the first 100 registrants, so make sure to register as soon as possible!

Please direct any questions to info (at) ingbaytobreakers (dot) com

The Fine Print:

  • This is an online offer only
  • Discount is valid only for the registration fee. It is not applied to optional purchases such as the MUNI pass or packet mailing fee
I checked out the web site and, man, if I lived in Cali, I'd be all over this! The race looks really cool -- there's even a costume contest! -- but I'm here in upstate New York so I'm out of luck. So, I'll leave it to the travelers and California peeps. If you run this, you have to let me know how it is!!!

Have fun!

~ Felice

The un-post.

Does this happen to you?

I had a whole post written this morning. I re-read it and got a little nervous and so I deleted it. I'd described a situation and, well, it was a bit of a complaint. I mean, not a complaint complaint but sorta. You know, I laid out wacky little scenario in which I run (fast! and with perfect form!) and someone bugs me. That's it. Yes, there was more (the post was rich with details! and humor! one of my best efforts yet!) but that was the general idea.

And I deleted it. I was just too scared. What if someone stumbled across my blog and read that post and knew what I was writing about and got angry and then came to my house and beat me up? It could happen. It's normal to be scared like that. Right?


Right. So, um, the post is gone. And once it was gone I realized I was plum out of ideas. What would I say? That I hung out with six toddlers and their moms this morning and we planted seeds*? That the house is a complete disaster now, with corn muffin crumbs ground into the floor and toys everywhere? How is that related to running?

Well, it's not. So, let's just change the subject, shall we?

I went for a run yesterday! Fartleks! On the hills! Yep, nice run. So much of my speedwork has been intervals recently that shaking it up with fartleks felt good.

The end.

~ Felice

*My Earth Day celebration. Happy Earth Day, everyone!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

And now I'm all charged up . . .

Watching the thrilling finish of the Boston marathon, and reading about it (before and after) on the ol' infoweb, has me all charged up to run a marathon. I'm sure the feeling will pass the more I remind myself of The Great Marathon Training Failure of 2009 but today...well, today I would like to get in on the action.

I've been spending some time looking at marathon calendars, thinking about a fall marathon. We'll see. Right now, I'm enjoying my runs so I don't want to muck it up.

For example, I've got some speed work on tap for this evening and, wouldn't you know it, I'm looking forward to it! I didn't run yesterday so my legs are antsy and ready to go. It seems like the smart thing for me right now is to stick to my plan, keep doing what I'm doing and not get swept up in this marathon fever.

So, anyway, I had some good luck today. I went to the library and the March 2009 and the April 2009 issues of Runners World were in! I've been re-reading old issues, just waiting for the newest ones to be checked back in (May is still a non-circulating copy). It's been a long few months . . .

Yay for me. I'll finally be only one month behind!

OK, off to read --

~ Felice

Monday, April 20, 2009

High 5s for marathoners!

Did you watch the Boston marathon today? Oh, man! It was exciting.

I only caught from mile 24 on of the women's race (yes, I was planning on being glued to my computer but the toddler beckoned). Those 2.2 miles were fantastic. I cheered so hard for Kara -- and Conal cheered, too! -- but, alas, she didn't win. She looked so strong, though, and third is terrific! Yay!

And, super yay for all the bloggers who ran the marathon and the BAA 5k! (I'm sure there were others, but these were the ones I knew of and tracked.)

I want to give a special high 5 (OK, virtual high 5) to N.D., who ran Boston only two-and-a-half months after her son was born -- and did an AWESOME job! Wow. And I thought I was cool for running a 5k four months after my son was born! Sheesh!

Ah, the marathon. That was cool. The whole thing.

* * *

I went for two really enjoyable runs this weekend, followed by ice on the hamstring. It's fine (for the most part), I'm just taking precautions. Today's a day off, although I did go for a long walk this morning, picking up trash in the park. It wasn't as bad as I expected. I thought that Conal and I would be weighed down with trash, but we weren't. So, yeah, the trash thing is going well.

~ Felice

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday bits.

Today marks the beginning of National Volunteer Week. Volunteers rock! If you don't have time to volunteer or just aren't sure what to do, an easy thing is to donate some healthy food to your local food pantry. Food pantries are in desperate need of food and healthy food is best. Just make sure it is non-perishable.

Also this week, Wednesday is Earth Day. I'm celebrating by hosting a toddler playdate (with 7 toddlers!) where we'll do some earthy crafts. And I'm going for trash pickup. If I start this week, I figure I can make it a habit and before you know it I'll be dubbed The Trash Lady and litter as we know it will be a thing of the past. Too optimistic? You don't think that me picking up trash in the 10 or so square miles that I walk/run/travel will have an effect on the world at large? You could be right. But, I've got to start somewhere.

So, OK, maybe you'll pick up some trash, too? Maybe just a piece here and there? It will help expand my reach . . . thanks!

You know what else is going on this week? Yes! The Boston Marathon! I will be glued to my computer, watching the race on Universal Sports. You can access the coverage here. Woo hoo! Go Kara! And go running blogger friends! I'm rooting for you all.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

~ Felice

Friday, April 17, 2009

The drink is on me. Sorta.

I've decided to copy some of the other bloggers out there and make one day a week a product review day. And that day is going to be this day, today, Friday. Fridays will be my review days from now until I don't have any more products or whatever to write about. I hope I don't bore you.

So, this week I tried out three of the new "zero calorie, naturally sweetened, vitamin enhanced, water beverages" from SoBe Lifewater. Water beverage? That's what they say.

The SoBE team sent me six bottles to sample, two of each of the zero calorie flavors that they offer: fuji apple pear, yumberry pomegranate, black and blue berry. My favorite was the fuji apple pear because it had the lightest taste. I found the other two flavors to be a bit too sweet for my taste.

I probably should have prefaced that comment with some information about my drinking habits. I'm boring. I drink water. And black coffee. That's about it. Yes, I drink cocktails (vodka and tonics, if you must know, light on the vodka, heavy on the lime), but during the day it is water or coffee. These SoBe drinks were a big deal.

And I put them to the ultimate test: I drank the black and blue berry before my speedwork on Tuesday. I know, I'm dangerous. Living life on the edge.

Luckily, I had no problems. No stomach upsets, nothing. Rock on, Lifewater!

If you are interested in trying out the drinks, the SoBe people sent me a link for a buy one get one free coupon. You can find it here. I hope it works!

* * *

I tested my hamstring last night on an easy, hilly 4-miler and it felt fine. It's tight today but I think that's all it is. Just some tightness, but nothing bad. I will lay off the jumping jacks and I should be fine.

We've had amazing weather this week. I plan to make the most of this weekend, since it looks like we'll be having some cooler, rainier weather next week. My fingers are crossed, though, for perfect marathon weather on Monday in Boston. Good luck to everyone who is racing!

Whether you are racing or not, have a great weekend!

~ Felice

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I feel very meta.

That's not a typo. I didn't mean to write metal as much as you might think that would be the case after my last post, for which I was, by the way, mocked by a friend for my inclusion of the "worst song ever" by the lame Scorpions. But, no worries, I can take it.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. It's Take it and Run Thursday at Runners' Lounge and the topic this week is Running Blogs: How and Why? Tom and Amy have asked bloggers to "Talk about how/why you started, what keeps you blogging and how you use it to keep you running."

Blogging about blogging. Meta-blogging, in other words. I feel like I'm back in college, with all that metaphysical discussion about being and reality. But I'll roll with it. So . . . here goes . . .

I started this blog last June because I, er, I wanted to? I don't know, it seemed like a good idea at the time and now, 10 months later, I'm still at it. Running. Writing about running. Whining about injuries. Learning how to avoid and heal them. Setting goals. Achieving them, injuries be damned!

And, most of all, enjoying the experience. I don't have much to say about why I blog. I gave you a little in my 200th post so I'll just add that I enjoy it. Very much. My blog has helped me become a better runner and person in ways I never expected. I credit my readers/commenters (or comment enters, as my spell check always wants me to write). So, thank you. Thank you all.

I'll add this, too: If you don't have a blog, start one! You'll love it. I mean, if you're into that sort of thing. Otherwise, don't. No pressure.

But please keep visiting me. I'm nothing without you!

* * *

It's a perfect spring day. I spent the morning with Conal at the playground and he's now sleeping the sleep of a worn out toddler. I have an easy run on the schedule for this evening, even though my hamstring is, yes, again, acting up. Wasn't I just complaining about my toe the other day? Yup. I told you I whine about injuries. I wasn't lying.

Enjoy the day!

~ Felice

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

It's important to know where you are.

Believe me. I know where I am: Fully entrenched in motherhood. As demonstrated by today's run.

After a play date at a friend's house this morning, some quality time with the mega blocks and a speed-read of Conal's favorite Thomas the Tank Engine book, Conal settled down for a nap and I hurriedly changed into my running gear and scooted down to the basement for a run. Ooh, it was a great run.

However, the entire time I was running, I had the Boogie Woogie Piggies stuck in my head. Don't know the Boogie Woogie Piggies? For real?

Well. Here you go! Enjoy . . .

Honestly. The entire run. "A. Oink. B. Oink. C. Oink. D. Oink." Non-stop. I even tried running the song out of my head with a little heavy metal but all I could come up with was that Scorpion song from 8th grade and, somehow, "Here I am! Rock me like a hurricane!" just couldn't stand up to those piggies and all of their "oink-oinks."

Anyway, as I said, the run was good. I warmed up for a mile and then ran some speed:

800 @ 7:30 pace
600 @ 7:18
400 @ 7:00
4 x 200 @ 6:48
2 x 400 @ 7:00

Then I cooled down.

As I was cooling down, I could see the red dots on the monitor, indicating that Conal was waking up. Or someone was breaking in the house. Either one meant I should probably wrap up the run. So I slowed down a bit more and could hear Conal's cries. (Phew!) They picked up a bit so I called it a run, even though I wanted to run a half mile more for my cool down.

Of course, as soon as I got upstairs, he was no longer crying. Back to sleep. But, I was already done. I figured I would waste no time refueling so I sat down to finish the leftover veggie and pesto pasta that Conal did not eat for lunch. Yes, I ate it out of his little Peter Rabbit bowl.

That's where I am. I eat my toddler's leftovers. I sing ridiculous Sesame Street songs. I sneak in speed work during nap time.

Somehow, it works.

Enjoy the rest of the day, everyone!

~ Felice

Monday, April 13, 2009

Getting better.

Short, quick run on Friday. Yoga on Saturday. Easy 5-miler on Sunday.

I'm trying to vary my pace more; to run intervals fast, and slow runs slow. In the past, I've been known to run most of my runs right around 8:40/8:50 pace. Boring. For about a month or so, I've been rocking the intervals and making an effort to slow down my slow runs.

It's the slow runs that get me. I get into a groove and just start running without thinking about it and before I know it, I'm going too fast. But not fast enough for speedwork. Just in between. That lovely in between pace where my breathing feels just right and my legs feel like they could run forever and I'm gliding along happy as can be.

Yeah, that terribly wrong pace.

That's why it's tough: I love the way I feel running at my in between pace but I know that doing so isn't going to do much to help me improve. I need to run fast(er) and I need to run slow(er) and then I can toss in some lovely in between pace runs.

So that's what I'm doing. Or trying to do. Yesterday I met with success on my 5-miler. I kept it slow and felt decent. Now I just need to keep it up.

In other news, June 10th can't come soon enough. My toes are killing me. I have very high hopes for this podiatrist that I have never met and have no knowledge of, other than his listing in my insurance's provider directory. Yes, yes, yes. High hopes that this foot doctor will heal me just like that! Oh, and he will! Mr. Magic Foot Doctor . . .

Hope everyone had a great weekend. Happy Monday!

~ Felice

Friday, April 10, 2009

Rudi's Organics Review and WINNERS!

About a month or so ago, I received a box full of goodies from Rudi's Organics.

I was very excited. It was like Bastille Day here at Chez Happy Runner!

Or maybe it was more like Halloween. Only I didn't have to dress up, or leave the house and the treats I received were healthy.

Hmmm . . . let's just establish that I was excited to receive my samples from Rudi's Organics. I tired them all* (oh, such sufferin') just for you! Here's what I thought:

100% Whole Wheat Bread

The first product that I tried from Rudi's was their Honey Sweet Whole Wheat and I still claim it as my favorite. The 100% Whole Wheat, though, is similar. It's an excellent, no frills sandwich bread, equally good toasted and untoasted.

7 Grain with Flax Bread

OK, let me be honest. My husband hated this bread. I didn't. I didn't like it as much as I liked the other products, but I didn't hate it. It's a dense bread, full of grains as the name implies. To me, this bread worked better for toast and grilled cheese than for cold sandwiches or to eat plain.

Cinnamon Raisin Bagel

So many of you picked this as the product you would try! Good choice! The bagels are yummy and not too large. I often find bagels too big and these were the perfect size for breakfast or an afternoon snack. I wished that they had a little more cinnamon flavor, though.

Multigrain Bagel

TERRIFIC! Oh, wow. I loved these bagels. They have a great texture and flavor. I just loved them. And, I am happy to report, Conal loved them, too! He's my little bagel man so I like being able to serve him one that is full of grains and goodness.

*Multigrain Wraps

More honesty: I froze these and didn't try them yet. What a slacker, right? I know! I just . . . hmmm . . . I didn't get around to thawing them and I needed to get this post up today and so, well, the wraps just lost out. Or I lost out, depending on how you look at it. Either way, no review. You'll have to try them for yourself! I plan to try them next week.


After sampling the new products, I have become more of a Rudi's Organics fan (my favorites are the Honey Sweet Whole Wheat and the Multigrain Bagels). I purchase the products at my local food co-op and you can visit the Rudi's site to find out where you can buy your own!

And now . . . the WINNERS of my 200th post giveaway:

Lindsay (of Chasing the Kenyans)
Jinxy and Me (of Jinxy Knows Best, etc.)

Congratulations! Please email me at felicehalf at yahoo dot com with your address.

Now, I'm off the playground with Conal to enjoy this nice sunny day. Have a great day!

~ Felice

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Running gadgets.

I've been looking forward to today's Take it and Run Thursday at Runners' Lounge, thinking that writing about a specific topic is just what I need to shake the blogger's block.

So, off I went to the RL site this morning and the topic is running technology tips -- how to select, buy and use your favorite gadgets.


I am not a gadget girl. I have no Garmin. No heart rate monitor. No Nike plus, no ipod, no iphone, no ianything. I do have a Nike sport watch that my brother and his (now) wife gave me in 2004. It has tons of features! I can't tell you about them, of course, because I only use the basic timer. But I can tell you that it is slick. Slick like 2004, but slick nevertheless!

So you may wonder how I know the length of my runs. Do I kick it totally old-school with paper maps and a ruler? Well, no. I'm not that out of touch. I visit that gmaps site to compute the distance of my routes and I actually really like it.

And I keep track my runs using the most awesome website: Running Ahead. Back in the day, I tracked my runs on CoolRunning but then they were purchased by some other company and everything changed for the worse so I moved all of my data over to Running Ahead. It is the best. And, since it is a website, it counts as technology. Running technology that has helped improve my running. So that's my tip: Go to Running Ahead. The service rocks!

Speaking of running, I had a speedy workout last night. I tried something a little different this time: Warmed up and ran at a moderate pace for 2 miles, then ran 1 x 800 @ 7:30 pace, 2 x 400 @ 7:24 pace, 4 x 200 @ 7:00, 6:54, 6:48, 6:42 pace. I cooled down for a half mile. Since I tend to start out too fast when I race, I'm trying to start my speedwork slower and increase my speed so I'm running the fastest at the end.

I'm all about yoga tonight.

Have a great day, everyone!

~ Felice

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Where are my words?

For more than a day now, I've been contemplating the possibility that I used up all of my words in my first 200 posts. Or, perhaps, I just used up my inspiration. Who knows? I don't even have the words to describe what's been going on.

But, huh. How depressing. To think that I only had 200 posts in me.


Yesterday, I started and stopped about a dozen posts. I just couldn't find any sort of blogging mojo. I had a good (relatively speaking) run on the treadmill and thought that afterward I would have lots of interesting things to tell you all. Like how I found my tipsy legs again. And how my hammies are starting to feel consistently looser thanks to my weekly yoga sessions. (I do so love that Elise Gulan and her Yoga Fitness DVD.)

But it was all just so blah.

So, forgive me. I just need to get past post #201 and put it behind me and, with any luck, get my words back. Some inspiration would be nice, too. This blogger's block is no fun. (Advice? Suggestions? Voodoo tips? Feel free to lay it on me.)

Hope you all are having a great Wednesday!

~ Felice

** PS: Don't forget about my Rudi's Organics giveaway. You have until 11:59pm on Thursday to enter!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Happy 200 and a carb-licious giveaway!

This is my 200th post and in addition to reveling in my new-found love of speedwork, I am also reflecting on the state of my running, and hosting a giveaway!

First, let's talk about the running. In an outright rip-off of Middle-of-the-Pack Girl, I've declared this spring my Season of Speed. I've actually been enjoying my speed work. This hasn't always been the case. In fact, I really never did much speed work. Hills, that's about it. And, believe me, I still love my hills and credit them for the bulk of any improvement I've experienced over the course of my running life. But, this speed thing. I started with Yasso 800s a few months ago when I was still training for the marathon. Tough. Very tough, those Yassos. But, you know, you get used to things and I've gotten used to speed work and have started, as I said, to enjoy it. I like running fast over shorter distances. There's just something satisfying about that type of workout. And I believe that the speed work will get me to my goal of a sub-23 minute 5k.

So that's that. Short and fast for me. With some long(ish) runs tossed in here and there, to build my endurance, and some easy runs, too. Just because. Because I like the easy runs. Who doesn't?

As I look beyond my current running situation and start to think about running in general, I have to think about what this blog means to me. Over the course of 200 posts (and about 10 months) I've gotten so much out of writing about running on this blog, reading your comments, and reading other running, fitness and unrelated blogs. See, I've always been a solo runner. Seriously solo. Now, though, I feel like I'm part of a community -- a virtual community, sure, but a community nevertheless -- and I'm grateful for that. This whole experience has allowed me to be more thoughtful about my running and it has helped me learn ways to improve not only my running, but my life in general.

The title of this blog is The Happy Runner, as you know. When I started the blog I thought it sounded good because a) I'm happy when I'm running and b) it was a bit of a play on my name, Felice, which means happy. Am I always a happy runner, though? No, certainly not. Sometimes I'm anything but. Overall, though, I am. I've grown into the title. I've made some subtle shifts in the way I look at the world and my place in it and I've become truly happier (running and not). I've also become a smarter and better runner, both of which have combined to make me a happy runner!

I'm not going to get all Dr. Phil here, so we'll just leave the reflection stuff there and move on to the good stuff.

The Giveaway!

To help celebrate my 200th post, the nice peeps at Rudi's Organics have offered me some of their products to giveaway! There will be two winners: Each winner will receive 5 free products from Rudi's Organics.

This is a carb-licious giveaway that I know you will love! Rudi's Organics baked goods are terrific. (You may remember from an earlier post that I'm a big fan.) I received a box full of their products to try out and review: I'll post my full review on Friday, along with the winners of this giveaway.

So, here's how you can enter. First, pop over to the Rudi's Organics web site and check out their offerings. Then, come back here and leave a comment along with the product you are most interested in trying and you'll get one entry. To receive three entries, mention this giveaway on your blog (tell that you've done so in your comment). You can enter until 11:59pm (est) on Thursday.

The two winners will be picked using and announced on Friday.

So, good luck and happy Monday, everyone!

~ Felice

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Running and baking.

This is the way it goes sometimes: A beautiful day but no chance for an outdoor run. That was my Thursday. The weather was perfect (mid 60s) and I so wanted to get out for a run. But, Owen had a meeting and then volleyball after work so I was without someone to watch Conal. I made the most of the day and took Conal for a 2-mile walk around the neighborhood and then we played in the yard for what seemed like hours but was probably only one.

I hit the treadmill for my run after putting Conal to bed for the night. These days, I'm having trouble with the 'mill. I can manage 'mill running only if I play with my speed. So even though I didn't plan for a speedy run, that's what I did: An easy 1.5 miles, then 4 quarter miles at 6:48 pace, 2 at 7:30 pace and a half mile cool-down.

Yesterday evening, I went out for an easy 4-miler at 9:05 pace to wrap up the week.

In between runs, I turned my kitchen into a test kitchen, baking up oatmeal cookies and toasting bagels.

I received a pound of the new I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Baking and Cooking Sticks earlier this week to try out and review. Although this product has been around for a while, the spread has been recently reformulated and re-introduced. According to the web site:

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!® Cooking & Baking sticks have been reformulated to contain a blend of nutritious oils, including soybean and canola oil, so they have 50% less saturated fat than butter and provide an excellent source of omega-3 ALA per serving, while baking and tasting like butter.
Now, I'm a butter gal. I love it. Love to bake with it, love to spread it on my toast and bagels. Love it. So, a product with less saturated fat and the addition of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid sounded good to me. You can check out the nutrition information here.

I first tried the spread on its own and it takes just like butter, which, I guess, is the point. It's creamier than butter, though. The other difference that I noticed is that it softened quicker than butter when I took it out of the fridge, and stayed softer.

My next test was to try a toasted bagel with both butter and the spread. I really couldn't tell the difference. Both tasted buttery and yummy!

The final test was to bake something with the spread. I decided to try out my favorite cookie recipe: Oatmeal cookies with pecans, chocolate chips and dried cranberries. The only change that I made to my original recipe was to use the spread instead of butter. Overall, the cookies were good: they tasted just like the original. But there were two consistency differences that I noticed. First, the cookies didn't puff up the way they normally do. Instead, they spread out on the baking sheet and were fairly flat. Second, the cookies stayed soft. Normally, I bake these cookies and they are all soft and chewy the first day, but they start to get a little harder by the second day. Not so with the cookies baked with the I Can't...spread.

Here's what the cookies looked like:

It was tough to show the flatness, so take my word for it!

OK, last thing. The spread came packed on ice in this cute little cooler:

All in all, I liked how the spread tasted and how it worked in the cookies. Will I buy it? I'm going to continue to look into the whole butter vs. soybean/canola oil spread. I'd like to read a little more about the pros and cons of each and then decide. I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, what do you think? Are you a butter person or a spread person? Or do you take your toast dry? (I've heard that some people do that type of thing . . . )

I'm off to a 2-year old birthday party this afternoon. Hope you're all enjoying the weekend!

~ Felice

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Running with Brooks.

(This week's TiaRT theme at Runners' Lounge is an ode to running shoes, written "in the same number of words as the dollars* it took to buy them." OK . . . I'll give it a go!)

I'm addicted to the Addiction, Brooks' appropriately named motion control shoes. Yes, they’re heavy. Yes, they’re clunky and big. But they contain my feet, forcing my body into a less injury-prone gait.

I used to wear whatever was on sale: Nike, Saucony, Adidas. Then the injuries started. I had my gait analyzed at a running specialty store (something I recommend to every runner) and “the guy” suggested the Brooks Addiction. Six years later, I’m still a fan.

My front hall closet.

Have a great Thursday, everyone!

~ Felice

PS: Barney Butter is giving away free samples! Check it out here. Yum!
PPS: Amanda at Run to Finish is having a goodie bag giveaway here. Double yum!

* My last pair cost me a grand total of $77.50.

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