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

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...