Friday, December 30, 2011

The Magic Room (review).

Some books grab and hold your attention from the first sentence to the last. Others seem eh and get better with each chapter until you simply can't put them down.

And still others make you think they are changing from eh to attention-holding but they never do.

I just finished reading The Magic Room by Jeffrey Zaslow, for the BlogHer Book Club review program, and the poor book was decidedly in that last category.

It wasn't a bad book -- far from it. It was just . . . a little disappointing.

The Magic Room carries a subtitle "A Story About the Love We Wish for Our Daughters" but that doesn't really say anything about the book. I found the subtitle completely misleading. Instead, Zaslow's book is a statistic-heavy look at the societal trends surrounding marriage, the wedding industry and, sorta love. Using the backdrop of Becker's Bridal, an independent bridal shop in Fowler, Michigan, Zaslow shares the stories of several different brides along with the stories of the stores owners (current owner, Shelley, the previous owner, her mother, and the founder, her grandmother).

Zaslow has an easy story-telling style and the stories he shares from the different brides he profiled in the book are interesting -- there's a bride who has been saving her first kiss for her wedding day, another who suffers from Rheumatic Fever and never thought she would find someone to marry because of her debilitating illness -- but they don't work 100% well in this book. The stories are chopped up and only shared in bits and pieces throughout the book.

And let's get back to that subtitle: "A Story About the Love We Wish for Our Daughters." That's not the story  of this book. Zaslow spends a lot of time discussing the marriage industry and how it has changed over the past 80 or so years. The success of a small independent shop in the mid-West is certainly remarkable in a time when brides go to mega retailers like David's Bridal for inexpensive dresses or hunt online. He also spends sharing statistics about divorce rates, marriage age trends and the like. It was all good information, but it was not a  "A Story About the Love We Wish for Our Daughters." A story about marriage in America, maybe, but that wasn't the subtitle.

It's too bad. A subtitle like that does nothing to make a mom of two boys want to pick up the book. So, in a way, the publisher probably knocked the book off the list of a bunch of potential readers. Oh, well.

All in all, I'm glad I read the book and I think that those who are interested in weddings and marriage and who go all gaga over shows like "Say Yes to the Dress" and "Bridezillas" and whatever else is out there would probably enjoy the book. If that's you, pick up a copy! I just found that every time the book was moving out of the eh category, it fell right back in.

Thanks for reading my totally non-running review today. More running this weekend -- got a half marathon coming up. Yikes!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

~ Felice

Review disclosure: I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Give it up for the Strong Running Mamas!

Almost two years ago, early on in my second pregnancy, I started a running group to help non-runners become runners and train for a 5K. I've gushed about the group here and there and, honestly, it was a terrific experience. In celebration of their accomplishment, I made up some bracelets for them (and the other rocking mothers who helped with the group).

The bracelets said, "Strong Running Mama" on them because that's what those women had become.

A year later, I started a little Facebook group called Strong Running Mamas and the group has grown from the original dozen or so to almost 50!

These women rock! We support each other, run together, motivation one another -- it is awesome. I love it.

So, I had this idea. You know how people say that if you put something "out there" to the universe, it will happen?

Well, I asked each of the Strong Running Mamas to give me their numero uno goal for 2012 and they did. My idea? I'm going to put their goals "out there" and ask you all to support them as they work to achieve them. I figure, I put their goals "out there" for them, you guys wish them some luck, the universe responds and viola! the Strong Running Mamas accomplish their mighty awesome goals in 2012!

Should work, right?


So . . . the goals. Now, not all the Strong Running Mamas gave me their goals, but a bunch did. Please, friends, read these goals and help me give them some support!

(You can click on the image to enlarge it.)

Awesome running goals, huh?

Leave a comment, send me an email (I'll pass the love along), or just wish the Strong Running Mamas good luck in your mind (or out loud, if you prefer) -- whatever you want. Just help us get the good vibes going for their 2012 goals!

Throughout the year, I plan to check in and see how everyone is doing and I'll let you guys know how the Strong Running Mamas are progressing.

Thanks, friends. Your support will be greatly appreciated!

And, if you believe in karma, you're sure to get something in return ;-)

Have a great day, all!

~ Felice

Monday, December 26, 2011

Testing . . . 10 miles . . . testing.

My Christmas Eve 10-miler wasn't just a fun little run with friends. It was also a test. I wanted to see how my knee/hammie/calf would hold up while running what will be the midpoint of my long run pace when marathon training begins (next week!).

There were 7 of us who set out in the 18 degree weather Saturday morning. Days before the run, I let the group know that I was looking to run the 10 miles at a 9:30 pace and, fortunately, Melissa said she'd be happy to run with me. The group started together and we went through the first mile in about 10 minutes. Toward the end of that mile, Melissa and I found our groove and we ended up running together -- just the two of us -- for the rest of the way.

Melissa was a great partner! We chatted about tons of stuff and just seemed to fall easily into a good rhythm. I looked at my watch for the first time around 5.5 miles and quickly did some math that reassured me that we were running at the right pace. Although we may have been running the right pace, apparently, I wasn't running the right route.

When we were around 8.5 miles into the run, I noticed that something was wrong. We were probably a half mile away from where we had started, which was also the end of the run. Yup, I had made a wrong turn and figured I was probably meant to go straight at the last turn. So, we doubled back and looped around and ended up finishing the run with 10.10 miles covered.

And . . . we didn't even walk up the last hill, which, is one steeeeeeep, tough hill. Especially because we hit it at about 9.75 miles into our frigid run. We powered through, plenty happy once we hit the top, even happier when we hit the slight downhill that led us to the parking lot and end of our run.

After the run, Melissa and I walked to cool down, which ended up making us freeze so we huddled in my car and waited for the others, who all had great runs, too!

All in all, even though (or maybe because?) it was so cold, it was a super run. Our pace? 9:36 for the 10.10 miles. I wanted 9:30 and pretty much got it. The best part is that my leg felt (more or less) fine the whole way and the pace felt very, very comfortable. Just what you want for your long run, right?

Yeah. Test, passed.

Today, my almost 5 mile run was a different story. Sluggish. But, you know, it's the day after Christmas and I certainly indulged in the Christmas goodies. So, a sluggish run? No big deal. It happens.

I'm a little less thrilled that my knee/hammie/calf hurt a little while I was out there today, but the pain was never awful so I'm not going to get too worried. At least not yet.

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

~ Felice

Friday, December 23, 2011

Five things Friday.

1. Two days until Christmas! Exciting times -- Conal has never been as in to the whole season as he has been this year. He's anxious for Sunday, but he's enjoying all the build up as he waits. He loves wrapping presents, helping me bake cookies and other goodies, and decorating. The season has been lots of fun this year.

2. Unfortunately, it has also been plagued by some illness and injury. (Not me this time!) Conal came down with strep throat last week (yuck!), a painful rash this week (double yuck!), and then he fell off his new big boy bed last night and smacked his nose on the sharp corner of a wooden chair (I'm going to jump right to quadruple yuck for that one).

Today, my little guy has a badly bruised, slightly swollen, potentially broken nose.

Yeah . . . 

3. Although he had to miss a few days of pre-school last week, including caroling day, Conal was well enough to enjoy his breakfast with Santa on Monday:

and take part in the class play on Wednesday. It was cute. Trust me.

4. My Christmas shopping is officially done! As of yesterday.

I know . . . slacker . . . I know.

5. My power of praise will be tested out in tomorrow's 10-miler. There are 9 of us heading out tomorrow morning and I can't wait to run with such a great group of wonderful women!!

Merry Christmas, everyone. Thanks for stopping by!

~ Felice

PS: I have a quickie little giveaway going on over HERE.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

In praise of sore knees. And hamstrings.

And, what the heck? Let's praise painful toes while we're at it.


I'll tell you why. Because it seems that I have some kind of creepy power wherein I praise something and then -- poof! -- it goes away.

For example, remember how I've praised Exercise TV and all their great yoga programs? Yeah. So much for that. Exercise TV is now defunct. Defunct! As in, gone. No longer.

And Sportskool? I wrote about how much I liked their running programs and, you guessed it, they are out of the line-up. Sportskool is at least still on, but not the running programs. What gives?

To top it off, my new medical practice -- the one that I found after a really crummy experience with my last one -- announced that as of 3/1/12, they are no longer accepting my health insurance. Oy vey!

The way I see it, I should be able to shake my little aches and pains simply by praising them right here on the good ol' Internet.

And so I shall.

Give it up for Left Knee! Knee, you rock. Thanks for hurting on and off for the last month. You've made almost every run a challenge and that's cool. What's life without a whole bunch of challenges, right?

Cheers to Left Hamstring! You pretty much rock, too. It's terrific how you give me that twinge of pain on every uphill. Forces me to slow down. Thanks.

Next up? Right Toes! I know you guys are a little late to this party but I have to praise you for feeling so sore during any and all walking and/or running activity. I appreciate that. I have no idea why you guys are so sore but, yup, you're doing a good job at it!

Yeah! Way to go aches and pains! Keep up the good work!

(But I have to admit, if you go the way of Exercise TV, I might not miss you quite as much as I miss those perfectly coiffed and overly enthusiastic instructors. Just gotta be honest.)

Think it will work? Let's hope. In the meantime, do you miss Exercise TV?

Have a great week, everyone!

~ Felice

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Discount on New Jersey Marathon registration!

Are you thinking about running the New Jersey Marathon, or the half-marathon or half-marathon relay? Then today's your lucky day!

Athlinks just sent out a discount code that will get you $10 off your registration fee. The discount is good through December 31st:


I'm all registered and ready to go! I hope some of you are able to take advantage of this discount. Let me know if you do!

~ Felice

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

13.1 Los Angeles entry winner!

Folks, we have a winner! First, though, thanks to everyone who entered and shared the giveaway around the Internet. I appreciate it!

So, the lucky ducky who won the entry to the 13.1 Los Angeles half marathon (chosen using is . . .

Katelyn! (no blog) Congratulations, Katelyn! Send me an email to felicehalf at yahoo dot com and I will send you your free registration code.

Good luck!

~ Felice

Monday, December 12, 2011

Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

Or, in my case, can a 41-year-old mom who has never, ever been a morning person begin to embrace the morning run?

It's too early to tell but this weekend I made continued progress toward becoming a morning runner and I'm pretty sure that is going to be a new goal. I'm also pretty sure it is a bit of a forced goal. You see, my one-year-old has taken to waking up at 6:30. All attempts to get him to sleep later have failed. Miserably.

So, he's up. Which means that someone (me? Owen?) needs to be up with him. Rather than fight the early morning riser, my new plan is to see it as an opportunity to finally, after all these year, become a morning runner.

On Saturday, I got up with my bright-eyed toddler at 6:20. Yawn. We had breakfast, hung out, and then, at 7:15 Owen got up, took over, and I met friends for a 9-mile run. On Sunday, it was a similar pattern, only I went for a solo 4-miler at 8, letting Owen sleep-in a little longer.

Today is a rest day but my plan is to get up with the early riser at 6:30 or so and hit the road for a run by 7:15, when Owen gets up.

Think I can do it? I hope so. If I'm going to get my mileage in during the marathon training cycle I'll have to either run early in the morning or in the cold, dark evening. Something tells me I'll enjoy cold and light to cold and dark . . .

Do you run in the morning? Have you had to work to become a morning runner? Any tips to share?
I could sure use them!

Have a great week, everyone. And, remember, today is the last day to enter my half marathon giveaway!

~ Felice

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Couponing for healthy foods.

I've written a little about how I've become a bit of a couponer, saving a substantial amount of money on my weekly grocery bill. Sometimes, though, people will say that they can't coupon because they "don't eat those kinds of foods." Meaning, I guess, that they don't eat Rice-a-Roni and other not-so-very-healthy foods.

I get it. I don't eat those things, either. But that's not a reason to avoid couponing. Believe me, you can get healthy foods using coupons -- you simply need to do a little leg work. Here's some proof for you!

Today, for example, I got some great deals on these regularly high-priced items:

Clementines: My store had a coupon for $1 off a 5lb box of clementines (posted on their Facebook page), which I combined with a $1 off coupon from an insert in my Sunday paper. Total savings: $2 (cost: $3.99 for 5lb box).

Bagged salad: These were on sale for 2/$5. I had a $2 off 2 bags coupon that I downloaded from Total savings: $2 off 2 (cost: $3 for 2 bags of salad).

Organic yogurt 6oz cups: I had a $.50 coupon from the Stonyfield web site that I downloaded. This combines with a $.50 payback from SavingStar that I loaded on to my store loyalty card. Total savings: $1 off 3 (cost: $1.97 for 3).

Organic baby meals: Again, I had a $.50 coupon from Stonyfield. I combined that with a Catalina from my grocery store (the coupons that print out with your receipt) for $.35 and a $.50 payback from SavingStar. Total savings: $1.35 (cost: $1.54 for the 4-pack).

Organic 32oz yogurt: $.50 coupon from Stonyfield and a $.50 Catalina. Total savings: $1 (cost: $2.99).

Organic diced tomatoes: I printed out two $.85 off coupons for any Muir Glen product (from My store doubles coupons, bringing each coupon's total value to $1.70. Total savings: $3.40 (cost: $.58 for two 14oz cans -- only $.29 each!).

Just on those products, I saved a whopping $10.75. These are all products that I regularly use (and, in the case of the yogurt, use a lot!) so I would be buying them anyway -- taking the time to find and use the coupons simply put money in my pocket!

So, there you have it. Not so running-related, but perhaps helpful. Just because you like to serve organic or fresh foods doesn't mean you can't coupon. Take a little time to try it out and it will pay off -- I promise you! Just give it a shot.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everyone!

~ Felice 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Kickin' it Sportskool style.

In my new-found zest for yoga, I decided I needed to try two programs yesterday evening. So, I started out with Athletic Stretch (a short one) on the regular exercise tv. And then I decided to hunt around to see if there was a yoga for runners, or similar, program.

I typed "running" into the find shows screen and lo and behold a bunch of Running Training programs popped up. They are all on-demand, on the Sportskool channel. Who knew?

So, I tried it out. I mean, how could I not, right? Right.

I like it. I did one session and I can't wait to try some of the others. The session I did was all about "pre-hab" or, preparing your body fro the rigors of training so you avoid injuries. Some of the exercises were familiar to me, but many were new. The one called Y, T, W, L -- for shoulders and upper back -- is excellent! I know that if I keep on with it, the strength gained in those areas will help me in the late stages of the marathon.

My new plan: Incorporate the Sportskool Running Training programs into my pre-marathon training. I'll let you know how it goes!

Have you tried the Sportskool programs? It looks like they have tons of other sports, too!

Thanks for stopping by -- don't forget to enter my Half Marathon Entry Giveaway!

~ Felice

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Half marathon entry giveaway!

I have a great giveaway for you today!

The nice folks at US Road Sports & Entertainment Group put together the 13.1 series of half marathons and they are offering one reader of this blog to win a FREE entry to the 13.1 Los Angeles race that will take place in January.

Woo hoo! For anyone who runs in the LA area, or would like to head out there to escape the winter doldrums that hit right about mid-January, this is a super giveaway! The regular entry fee for the race is $85.

But, before I move on to the details, let me share some information about my personal experience with the 13.1 series. Back in April, I ran my first ever half marathon (I know, strange. I've run a marathon but, until April, I had never run a half!) and the half that I ran was the 13.1 New York, which took place in Queens. You can read my race report HERE. I enjoyed the race and LOVED the finisher medals! It was a fun race -- and the cheer squads certainly didn't hurt.

Finishing the 13.1 New York!

So, about the LA race. Here are the details:

13.1 Los Angeles
When: Sunday, January 15, 2012 at 7:00 am
Where: Venice Boardwalk at Rose Avenue in Santa Monica

According to race organizers, the course is new this year offering "a new scenic backdrop along the harbor of Marina del Rey and the shores of Playa del Rey . . . Runners who participate will enjoy course entertainment that includes fire dancers, Tokyo drummers, live bands, local cheer squads and volunteer groups." Dunno what type of entertainment those volunteer groups will be doing but you can find out.

You can read more about the race at the web site HERE

The giveaway

One lucky reader will get a FREE ENTRY to the 13.1 Los Angeles half marathon ($85 value). To enter, leave me a comment telling me you want to rock the 13.1!

Additional entries:

As always, you can gain extra entries. Remember, though, you must complete the required entry first! (Leave one comment per entry for the additional ones to count):
  • Follow this blog, or let me know that you already do (leave a comment) 
  • Become a fan of The Happy Runner on Facebook, or let me know that you already are (leave a comment) 
  • Link to this giveaway from Facebook or Twitter (do as often as you'd like, just leave a comment each time) 
  • Link to this giveaway from your blog (leave a comment) 
This giveaway will run through Monday, December 12th at 11:59pm EST and the winner will be announced on Tuesday.

Good luck!

~ Felice

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Some kind of yoga lover.

Wow, you all are really into the yoga! Thanks for your comments yesterday -- now I feel even more convinced that this yoga thing will be good for my marathon training.

And the changes in my flexibility and strength have me convinced as well.

Last night, for example, I did 45 minutes of Power Yoga on Exercise TV. About halfway through the session, we move from Warrior 1 into Warrior 3 and then into Half Moon Pose and Revolved Half Moon Pose. Looks a little like this:

Warrior 3
Half Moon Pose
Revolved Half Moon Pose

Yeah, it is tough. For me, at least. The first time I did it, my supporting leg was quite bent and pretty unstable. Last night, I was able to completely straighten my right leg and just about completely straighten my left leg. I'm rockin' the power yoga!

Watch out, yogis!

Today, though, I'll be happy to run. And maybe sneak in a quick post-run yoga session.  Who am I, some kind of yoga lover? Sheesh.

Happy Tuesday!

~ Felice

Monday, December 5, 2011


I'm not talking Prefontaine.

Or precalculus.

Or even preschool.

Right now, I'm all about pre-marathon training.

That's right. Because 18 weeks of training just isn't enough! Heh, heh. 

I'm calling December my pre-marathon training month and hoping this period will accomplish two things. First, it will (I hope) stop me from slacking off during this whole holiday season, allowing me to start my training plan with a decent mileage base. Second, it will (I also hope) stop me from running too hard (too fast, too much), so I can begin training refreshed, recovered, and no longer injured.

A fine balance.

The loose plan for the month is to run 2-3 times during the week (4-5 easy miles each run), long on Saturday (8-12 miles), easy on Sunday (4-5 miles). I'll supplement my runs with 2-3 yoga sessions (thank you, exercise tv!) and specific strengthening/rehabbing exercises for my left hamstring/knee/calf.

Five days in to the month, I'm on track. Yoga has been treating me well and showing me where my (very obvious) imbalances of strength and flexibility are. I ran 8 enjoyable miles with my friend Amanda on Saturday morning. Even though it was really cold, and our route was really hilly, we had a good time. I haven't run with her in ages so it was great to catch up!

Sunday was a nice-and-easy 4+ miler and today I have my sights set on an hour of yoga after the kids go to bed. Unlike the (many) other times I've tried to get into yoga, I'm actually looking forward to it!

What about you: Do you enjoy yoga? Do you think it helps with your running?

Thanks for stopping by -- have a great week!

~ Felice

Thursday, December 1, 2011

November recap and runningskirts deal!

If you love RunningSkirts running gear, you must check out their awesome Schwaggle deal: 40% off + free shipping! You can check it out HERE. Lots of good stuff on sale! Enjoy!

*     *     *

So, November was an OK running month. I've been dealing with my hamstring/knee/calf/whatever issue so there was a full week when I didn't run. But factoring in the week off I had decent mileage.

November stats:

Running (miles): 75.5
Racing: 2 -- 10K (new PR!) and 5K (also new PR!)
Out of town runs: 1 on Long Island -- the 10K
Cross training: 9

So far this year I've run 953 miles -- a mere 47 miles away from 1,000! I'd love to hit that nice round number and I imagine I will. I can run 47 miles this month, eas

Welcome, December! Hope your November was a good one!

~ Felice

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Our Towne Bethlehem Turkey Trot race report.

Well, no suspense here. I've already shouted-out about my race result. So, now, let me tell you about the race.

I was feeling pretty uncertain about the whole thing because my left hamstring/knee/calf had kept me off of running for a full week before the race. But, after that week of resting and icing and foam rolling, my leg was feeling better and I was confident that running a 5K wouldn't be a problem.

I met up with Bridget and Janis early Thursday morning and we were off to the race. For a new turkey trot (just in its second year) it was pretty crowded but the packet pick-up was well organized and we were in and out of the line quickly. We found Bridget's friend, Cortney, who was visiting from the DC area and hung out until the race started. Here we all are:

Keep your eyes open, Happy Runner! Ugh.
(That's Cortney, Janis, me, and Bridget)
I ran a quick mile warm-up and my legs felt fine. I lined up in the big crowd, chatted with another runner who was just coming back from knee surgery and then, 15 minutes late, we were off!

The course is quite flat but extremely twisty. In fact, just past the start line the course made a sharp left turn and that caused a bit of tripping and bumping but soon the pack thinned out and I was running a nice comfortable pace.

Let me point out that the Our Towne Bethlehem Turkey Trot is a very low-key, sorta old school race. There were no mile splits. No chip timing. Just a start line and a finish line with a clock. Record your own time, runners!

That was fine for me because I had no goal other than to run well. But, I admit that I peeked at my Garmin a few times. Toward the end of the first mile I saw my speed and told myself to pick it up. Sure, I was feeling the pain in my hamstring and knee a little bit but, otherwise, I felt great and was running a flat course, so there was no reason not to try to run faster.

So I did. After a 7:28 first mile, I ran the second in 7:08 and the third in 7:09. I picked up the pace at the end, running 6:51 pace.

Funny, I had just recently written about how I have a hard time running negative splits! Not on Thanksgiving!

I crossed the finish line in 22:05 -- Garmin time and clock time. A HUGE PR! (My previous best was 22:51.) But also an asterisk PR, I'm afraid.

As I said, this race was old school, with no chip timing. And, they didn't compile the results. So, my time is my time but I am the only one who knows for sure what I ran.

In other words, I'm placing it in the "unofficial PR" category. I know I ran 22:05 but there is no official record of that time. So, unofficial it is.

After I crossed the finish line, I grabbed a banana and some water and then went for a mile cool-down jog. I met up with Bridget and Janis, who both ran great races, and we headed home.

My leg feels more-or-less OK after the race. I still feel the pain on and off, but it is not even close to as bad as it had been. I'm still icing and stretching and foam rolling, but I am also running. On Sunday, I had a great 5-miler and then, yesterday, I ran another solid 5 miles while pushing my toddler in the jogging stroller. Today, my leg feels fine.

Overall, I'm happy that I didn't bag out of the race. After all, I would have missed out on a nice PR!

But let me ask: Would you count a non-chip timed PR as a PR?

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Felice

Friday, November 25, 2011

Trotting to a new 5K PR!

You know what I liked about yesterday's turkey trot? My new 5K PR!


My splits:
Mile 1: 7:28
Mile 2: 7:08
Mile 3: 7:09
last .1: 6:51 pace

Race report to come. Until then, have a great weekend everyone!

~ Felice

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Trot on, turkeys!

After a week of no running, I'm excited to be running a local turkey trot tomorrow. My fingers are crossed that my hamstring/calf/knee issue is a thing of the past -- or, at least, that I don't make it worse by racing! It's only a 5K so, honestly, I should be fine.

Whatever happens, I'm 100% sure that I'll need some sort of run before I start guzzling gravy:

Yeah, don't pretend you don't love gravy!

Good luck to all the turkey trotters tomorrow! Trot ON!

~ Felice

Monday, November 21, 2011

What do you do when you can't run?

Me? I spend some time in compression shorts, eat a lot of waffles, and revel in the irony involved in registering for a marathon while nursing an injury.

My marathon? It's this one:

May 6, 2012

I did it. I hit submit. My money is theirs.

There is no turning back.

I am excited. And more than a little nervous. Rational Me knows that my hamstring injury is temporary and I'll be back running in no time. Irrational Me thinks I may be hobbled for life. Life! And how will I run a marathon if I'm hobbled for life?

(Irrational Me can get a tad dramatic.)

In all seriousness, my hamstring has gotten a little better since I stopped running and started my RICE campaign last week. As the acronym suggests, I've been resting, icing, compressing and, well, I haven't actually been elevating. Bit of a failure, there. I'll get on that.

I've also been gently stretching, foam rolling, and strengthening. I have high hopes for the next six months so I need my hamstring to get in line. Rogue hamstrings are not allowed. Nope, not allowed at all.

So, what do you do when you can't run?

Happy Monday, everyone!

~ Felice

Friday, November 18, 2011

Five things Friday.

1. I am ready for the weekend. The weather has been weird this week and, as a result, I've been all headache-y so I think I need to kick back. I'm not going to get much of a chance to do that, however, because we're having friends over for dinner on Saturday and then my whole family over on Sunday. I'm looking forward to it!

2. Since I seem to be in complaining mode . . . I've got a BIG one: My left hamstring has gone wonky. I believe that I strained it when running while pushing my (heavy) toddler in the jogging stroller. I think I was pulling back, or braking, when running downhill and that strained the hammie. For a while my hamstring was just a little sore. After my race last Saturday, the medial side of both my hamstring and my knee hurt.

Based on my research (go, Dr. Google!), I am diagnosing myself with a strained hamstring/potential muscle imbalance. I do not think that I have anything worse than that. If it was a true knee problem, I think my pain would be in a different area and would not have started out as hamstring pain.

So, my plan is to not run for a few days, do some strengthening exercises for my hamstring, and then run the Turkey Trot 5K on Thursday and see how I feel (I'm already signed up). After the race, I will probably continue to rest and strengthen and then get fully back to running at the end of December, in time to start marathon training in January.

3. I have a Yoplait yogurt smoothie giveaway going on HERE. Check it out!

4. Now reading:

Yup, planning the plan!

5. Good luck to all the Philly racers this weekend -- and everyone else who is racing or running, too! Have a great weekend, everyone!

~ Felice

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sea Change (review).

I should know better than to read anything -- anything at all -- that is even remotely related to the death of a child. I've done it many times -- picked up a book and started to read, only to be smacked in the face by the horror of a child's death as a central plot line.

Yeah, I really can't handle it.

And so it was with Sea Change, by Jeremy Page (the author of Salt). I was invited to review this book as part of the BlogHer book review program and the description sounded great. I was in. I'd never read anything by Page, so I was interested to do so.

Sea Change: A Novel

It was painful. Painful and . . . exhausting. And also somewhat beautiful and intriguing. [Spoiler alert: If you don't want to know any details about what happens, turn away now.]

Sea Change is the story of Guy, a divorced man who is living alone at sea burdened with "the unassailable truth that life has stopped but time has not." Life, for Guy, stopped with the death of his four-year-old daughter. After her death, Guy's marriage fell apart and he grappled with his grief. As the story unfolds, Guy is grappling while living on a barge, heading for the North Sea.

He's alone with the heavy, heavy sadness of a man whose life was changed in a horrible way. What could be worse than having your four-year-old die? But what Guy does to deal with that grief, is to keep a diary where he imagines what his life would be like had the unimaginable not happened. It's . . . interesting. And incredibly sad.

Every night, he imagines a life with an intact family. In his diary, he creates a parallel world where instead of life stopping when his daughter, Freya, died, it goes on.

Reading about Guy's imagined world in contrast with his sad, sad existence full of heartbreaking scenes where he aches for his dead daughter, made me feel like I was witnessing grief from the inside. Page truly takes readers into the mind of a very depressed, lonely man. The details of Guy's imagined life with his wife and daughter are vivid, at times, perhaps a little too vivid. Although the structure of the book worked to show the interior workings of someone dealing with grief after a tragic loss, it was also incredibly slow. There is little action in the book and the layers of observations and details from Guy's imagined and real life build on each other and the overall effect is to make the story slow, heavy and tiring. That, combined with the whole death of a child thing, made Sea Change a very difficult read for me.

It is hard for me to recommend Sea Change. Yes, much of the writing is brilliant. But spending page after page with depression and sadness is tough to do.

Have you read the book? What did you think? Have you read Jeremy Page's other books?

Back to running posts tomorrow!

~ Felice

Review disclosure: I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Are you negative?

Apparently, I am not.

And, in racing, that's less than ideal. In racing, negative -- as in, negative splits (running the second half of the race faster than the first) -- is a positive. I am rarely a negative splitter. At least not in any distance longer than 5K.

Take a look at Saturday's splits:

7:20 pace for last .2 or so

Not negative at all. But then, for my last 5K, I ran the right way:

6:17 pace for last .1

Started conservatively and then sped up. Just like all the training books, articles, web sites recommend. Granted, I ran a PR with those positive splits and just missed a PR when I ran negative ones.

Hundreds . . . thousands of running experts can't be wrong! Right?

I know running negative splits is the right thing to do and I wish I was better at it. So, as I start looking forward to my marathon training, one of the things I plan to focus on is running negative splits. Most of what I've read recommends shooting for even splits in the marathon -- something that is easier to do if you regularly run negative splits in your shorter races.

I'll be practicing what I read, and here's a small sample of some of what I've read:

Let the Tempo Come to You
Negative Splits Equal Positive Results
The Positive of Negative Splits
Race Pacing Calculator

I've got plenty of time to refine what works for me. Maybe by May I'll be consistently negative.

Then again, I might just end up staying positive. We'll see!

What about you: Do you run negative splits in your best races? 
Or, do you eschew the advice and start out strong and just try to hold on?

~ Felice

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rockville Centre 10K race report

Normally when I have a race coming up, I get a little obsessed. I worry about the weather. Worry if I'm prepared. Worry about reaching my goals.

Not this time.

On Saturday, I ran a low-stress (for me) 10K. But let me backup so you can see how really low stress the whole thing was.

On Friday, Owen, the kids and I went to Long Island for a family visit. When we planned the trip, Owen mentioned that it was also the weekend of the big local race -- a 5K and 10K that runs right by my mother-in-law's house. He suggested that I run it. Hmmm . . . not a bad idea.

So, a week or two ago, I signed up and planned to race on Saturday. As it happened, one of Owen's friends was playing guitar at a bar in town on Friday so we decided to do that, too. We put the baby to bed,  left Grandma with the kids and headed out. To a crowded bar. Yay, us!

Owen knew every other person in the bar so it was a great time. Two drinks and a few hours of standing on pointy-toed boots later, I left him at the bar with his pals and I went back to my MIL's house to try to get a decent night's sleep before the race.

No such luck.

Owen got back -- late -- and that woke me up and kept me up for a good hour. Then, the boys woke up  -- early --  and had no interest in going back to sleep. So, we were all up and at 'em by 6. I couldn't really spend much time worrying or preparing because I had all sorts of mom stuff to do.

At 9:40, Owen drove me to the starting line and I fell in with the crowd. I knew that I wanted to run a PR and was hoping for a sub-48 minute finish. But, I didn't know exactly what to expect, given that I had stayed out later than I had planned to the night before, and had worn those completely impractical pointy-toed boots.

I didn't worry. I just went for it.

The first two miles of the 10K were run with the 5K and I told myself -- repeatedly -- not to get caught up in the 5K pace. That's just too fast.

I did it anyway. I definitely ran too fast for the first two miles. Bad move, Happy Runner.

Shortly after the 5Kers split off, I came upon my cheering section by my MIL's house. I crossed the road to get a high-5 from my little guy:

Just past Mile 2 in the Rockville Centre 10K.

Yes, I was in a long-sleeved shirt when I should have been wearing a short-sleeved one. Ugh.

The high-5 gave me a nice boost and I ran on through the pretty neighborhoods of Owen's hometown. I was going strong and feeling very good about the race, confident that I would set a new PR and hopeful that I would come in under 48 minutes.

Then we made the second-to-last turn at about Mile 5.

Holy wind, Runman.

Yeah. That was a lot of wind in the face for a long way. Seriously, about a full mile of wind. Smack in the face. I kept telling myself that I could do anything for 7 minutes. 6 minutes. 5 minutes. 4 minutes. 3 minutes.

And then some dude ran by and yelled out, "Just over 600 to go!"

No freaking way.

I looked at my Garmin and there was No. Freaking. Way. I could make 48 minutes if there were 600 meters left. No way.

He had to be wrong.

He had to be.

And he was. Because here's how I finished:

Finishing the Rockville Centre 10K -- in PR time!

Officially, 47:38. A GIGANTIC 3 minute and 3 second PR!

(And, btw, my old PR was set when I was a spry 32 year old. This one? Yeah, set at 41.)

Not only did I PR, but I finished 3rd in my age group and got a very nice bronze medal. Hooray!

My race stats:

Overall time: 47:38 (7:40/mi pace)
Overall place: 70 out of 452
Overall female place: 12 out of 202
Age group (40-44) place: 3 out of 32

It was a great race and I'm so glad I ran it! I think this low-stress thing works for me.

The rest of the weekend was very nice, too. Hope yours was as well! Thanks for reading.

~ Felice

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Last week, I made a proclamation. On Facebook, because that's where those things happen these days. I wrote (proclaimed!) that I was going to run the New Jersey Marathon next May.

In response, one of my friends commented, "That's dedication to train in the winter."

Oh, right. Winter.

Yeah, the marathon takes place on May 6th, meaning my training starts January 2nd. The coldest, snowiest months in upstate New York? Those would be January and February. In other words, I will, without a doubt, be running -- far -- in snowy, windy, frigid conditions.

That's dedication.

I'm not too worried -- a little worried, sure, but not too worried. Last January, with a 3 month old baby, I started training for an early April half marathon. Yes, I understand that training for a half marathon is not the same as training for a full. It is, after all, 13.1 miles to a marathon's 26.2. However, my point is that I trained through a tough winter while sacrificing my sleep for the 'round-the-clock breastfeeding needs of my son. It was all worth it.

So I know that I can do it. I have a treadmill for days when the weather is just too crummy. I have friends who are training for the marathon with me. I can do it.

And I'm a little excited about it, to tell the truth.

Bring it, winter!

And, watch out, New Jersey Marathon, because I'm coming at you full of dedication!

Have you trained for a big race during the winter? 
Do you have any tips you could share? Lessons learned?

~ Felice

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Shutterfly winners!

Thanks to everyone who entered the Shutterfly giveaway. I picked 3 winners, using and they are:

Kara Tubbs
J @ Morning Runner
Britton @ It's a Beautiful Thing This Life of Ours

Congratulations!! Leave me a comment with your email address and I'll email your codes to you so you can get started on your cards! I still have to work on my photo of the two boys and then I can get busy designing. For some reason, I don't think this will cut it (coordinated though they may be...):

Yeah, I know, the toddler is pantless. It happens!

Thanks to Shutterfly for this giveaway! I hope to be posting some other giveaways soon.

Have a great day!

~ Felice

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cushy ride.

My love affair with my Somnios has come to a bit of an abrupt end. It's not that I fell out of love with them, because I didn't. I loved them to the end.

It's that they left me. Left me high and dry.

With 460 miles on my shoes, I went to the Somnio web site (the shoes aren't sold locally) to order another pair but had no luck. Every shoe on the site was listed as out of stock. So, I went to their Facebook page and read a bunch of comments about how the company was out of business. An email to the company went unanswered.

High and dry.

Time to move on and switch shoes!

Sunday afternoon I hit my local Fleet Feet, slightly nervous about having to pick out a new pair of shoes. I shouldn't have worried because I had a great experience, as usual. I tried on several pairs of light stability shoes, running in each pair in the parking lot. After a lot of back and forth and adjusting this and that, I settled on these slick cats:

I don't think I've had a pair Nikes since I was in college. Dunno why -- just was never a Nike runner. I love the Nike Tempo shorts and the sports bras are good. But I've worn other running shoes for years, never Nikes.

I'm a convert.

For real.

These Nikes (Zoom Structure?) kinda rock. They are light and cushy and make my feet feel like they are being lovingly swaddled by all sorts of running gear goodness. I've worn the shoes on two runs so far and they've felt terrific.

Yay for new running shoes!

Have a great evening, everyone.

~ Felice

PS: Last day to enter the Shutterfly giveaway!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The glamorous runner.

So . . . way back in 2010 when I was very pregnant, I entered HealthyLife magazine's search for cover models. (The magazine is published by the Albany newspaper, the Times Union.) 

I had to submit a photo of myself doing something healthy (a sent in a running photo -- of course!) and write an essay about my healthy life. I wrote about how I was running during my pregnancy and how I started the new runners group to train several non-runners for their first 5K.

Whatever I said, worked, because I was chosen! I had my photo shoot in September and "my" issue came out last week. Here's the cover:

That's me!
I feel like such a glamour girl!

The whole thing was a ton of fun. I was pampered at a local salon where I received highlights, lowlights and a new hair-do. Then I had a few fun outfits picked out for the shoot. The day of the shoot I had my hair and makeup done at that same salon (thanks, Kimberley's Day Spa!), and then spent all afternoon being photographed. I've never had so much hair spray in my hair, nor have I ever spent so much time in front of a camera!

Like I said, it was fun. I even got to wear some kickin' high boots:

Yeah, I need a pair of high wedges!
And a lot of clothing that I could never, ever wear in my current day-to-day life. Can you imagine what would become of this white coat after living just one day with a toddler and preschooler?

Yeah, there's no way I could keep that clean!

Anyway, if you're interested in the article you can check it out HERE and HERE. You can even see a few "behind the scenes" photos, like me getting my makeup done. Ooooh, exciting!

One thing I will say is that I wish the article included more about my running while pregnant. I really wanted to convey how important I think it is to stay active when you are pregnant -- and I wanted to show that running is not something pregnant women should be afraid of. It's so healthy to keep running during pregnancy (provided, of course, you were running before getting pregnant and you don't have major complications). But, the article did touch on it, so I'm happy about that.

Overall, it was a great experience. Now, back to my real jeans-and-fleece-pullovers life!

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Felice 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Shutterfly holiday cards (review and giveaway).

I have been a fan of Shutterfly since my first son was born and I got into the whole photo Christmas card thing. For the past 4+ years, I've been uploading my photos to Shutterfly, buying prints here and there, making keepsake photo books and designing my holiday cards.

This year will be the fifth year that I've used Shutterfly for my cards so you can believe me when I say I like what they have to offer.

Last year, I went a little mad for plaid:

This year, I'm liking a few different designs including this one:

Not my family :-)
Before I can pick a card, though, I have to struggle through the photo shoot and since my guys are squirmers it really is a struggle! Wish me luck getting a decent a photo :-)

While you're doing that, I'll wish you luck with my giveaway!

The giveaway

I have a great giveaway for you all. THREE lucky winners will get 25 FREE Shutterfly holiday cards of their choosing. To enter, leave me a comment letting me know you'd like to win!

Additional entries:

As always, you can gain extra entries. Remember, though, you must complete the required entry first! (Leave one comment per entry for the additional ones to count):
  • Follow this blog, or let me know that you already do (leave a comment) 
  • Become a fan of The Happy Runner on Facebook, or let me know that you already are (leave a comment) 
  • Link to this giveaway from Facebook or Twitter (do as often as you'd like, just leave a comment each time) 
  • Link to this giveaway from your blog (leave a comment) 

This giveaway will run through Tuesday, November 8th at 11:59pm EST and the winner will be announced on Wednesday.

Good luck!

~ Felice

Review/giveaway disclosure: I was provided with free Shutterfly cards as part of my review and giveaway. I was not otherwise compensated and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Are you a blogger? Want a chance at 25 free cards this holiday season? Register here:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Interval training ~ life-with-toddler style.

Yesterday was a beautiful, warm sunny day. But I didn't get to run outside. Sure, I got to enjoy playing baseball-hockey with my boys in the driveway and going for a nice li'l walk but I didn't get to run.

Instead, I ran in the basement on the treadmill.

On the schedule? Easy run.

In reality? Interval run -- life-with-toddler style.

Started smooth -- nice and easy 3/4 of a mile at a warm-up pace of 10 min/mile. Hopped off to retrieve the toddler's soccer ball from under the trampoline.

Bumped up pace to 9:30 min/mile for almost a quarter mile. Hopped off to put together popper "thingy" so toddler could play.

Back on the 'mill, right back to 9:30 min/mile then down to 9 min/mile for just over a half mile. Hopped off to demonstrate -- at preschooler's request -- the "jack-knife" on the trampoline. 

Two dozen jumps later, I was back on the 'mill. Bumped up the pace and ran fast for almost another mile. Hopped off to pull toddler off the stairs.

Back on for a tenth of a mile. Pulled toddler off stairs, again.

Just over a quarter mile -- fast! Back off to demonstrate -- again -- the jack-knife. And a straddle jump. And re-start the popper "thingy." And retrieve the toddler's water bottle from under the couch.

On again for a mile. Nice and easy. Off to console crying toddler.

Back on at a walking pace, while holding toddler (cool-down and weight training!). Hopped off when toddler started squirming, wanting to play again with his big brother.

I did not get back on. After my "cool-down" I was more worn out than my almost 4 mile run would suggest.

That, my friends, is how treadmill running goes for the Happy Runner these days. Run, run, jump on the trampoline, run, run. Yup. That's life with a toddler.

Fingers crossed for an outdoor run today!

~ Felice

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Just fun!

First let's get to the good stuff: The Rudi's Organic Bakery giveaway winner!

I used to pick a winner and that lucky person is Karyn Murphy (no blog)! Congratulations, Karyn! Now, by the way, Karyn is lucky because not only was she the winner, but we're also friends in real life :-)

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway -- and thanks to Rudi's Organic Bakery for the review and the giveaway. For those of you who didn't win, be sure to get your hands on a Rudi's coupon HERE.

*     *     *

And now, some pics of the Halloween that was:

My little not-so-happy Jack O'Lantern, waiting for big brother's Halloween parade to start.

Commander Conal! Astronaut boy at his preschool Halloween party. Loading up on the goodies.

Trick-or-treating! That's me with the baby (he was slightly happier there) and Janis.

All the kids, ready to trick-or-treat!
We had a fun, exhausting day. Today, I need to hit the road and run some good miles!

Happy November, everyone!

~ Felice

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