Monday, December 31, 2012

Cheers to 2012!

What a year! 

Here's a snippet of the year that was (for this happy runner, at least):

Winter Series with friends.
True words!
Runnin' of the Green 4-miler
Fun with good friends.

The New Jersey Marathon crowd.

My running boys.

Freihofer's Run for Women
Before the Boilermaker.

Beach time!
2nd place female at the Clove Run 10-miler!

Sandy Paws 5K
My little kindergartener.

At the ZOOMA half.
Told myself this a lot in 2012.
Before the Mohawk Hudson Half.
A new PR!
Post-race with friends!
The little guy's first school race.
Love my friends!
Veteran's Day Run -- new PR!

I know, I'm not great about making the photos look good and line up. I tried, believe me!

I hope you all have an enjoyable New Year's Eve -- and best wishes for 2013! Thanks, as always, for stopping by!

~ Felice

Friday, December 28, 2012

Holiday week.

I hope you all have been enjoying the holiday season!

It has been a good week here in Happy Runnerville. I've been keeping my mileage up, through lots of chilly outdoor runs -- including a nice 9-miler last Saturday with friends -- and a bunch of treadmill ones. Now that most of my running is indoors, I treasure the occasions when I can get outside. I don't care how bundled-up I have to get!

There was also this little thing called Christmas on Tuesday and it was great. My boys were so in to the holiday this year -- I think one of Conal's favorite things this year was making cards and drawings for people, especially his little brother. It was pretty cute.

Christmas day was spent at home in the morning and then over to my parents' house for the afternoon/dinner. There were 39 of us this year. Check out the panoramic pic my brother took:

That's a lot family, huh? Yup.

Yesterday, we were hit with the big snowstorm, which thrilled my boys. They even got out to make the first snowman of the year:

Sadly, we're finishing up the week with a wake and funeral but they are for Owen's elderly aunt, who lived a good, long life. And that's really all any of us want.

Have a great weekend, everyone! Thanks for stopping by!

~ Felice

Monday, December 24, 2012

Scott Jurek and Food for (my) Life.

Have you read Eat and Run by Scott Jurek? If you haven't, let me tell you: It's a great book and I highly recommend it. His story is an interesting one: Growing up as a meat-eating, hunting-and-fishing Midwesterner; becoming a vegan; developing into an elite ultra-runner.

I read the book about a month so ago and as I was doing so, I experienced a funny coincidence. In the book, Scott Jurek talks about his love of a particular bread, the Food for Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain bread. Just so happens I was invited to try out this bread for review and two luscious loaves of the Sprouted Grain Flax bread were delivered when I was about halfway through the book.

A sign? Perhaps.

You see, Scott Jurek rocks. He doesn't just run those crazy ultra-races, he wins them. He runs far and fast. I have no desire to get into the ultra-running world but, yeah, I'd take a little more speed and endurance. I mean, who wouldn't?

So, the bread. This stuff:

It is in no way your regular bread. Nope. It is made of sprouted grains, not flour. But, looks aside, the stuff is good. Really good. I love it. My boys, who I thought would scoff at the idea of even trying bread that looked so different from the norm, love it as well. So much so that I had to actually cut my younger son off. He wanted to eat too much of it and, well, his digestive system just wasn't up to the task of so many sprouted grains.

The bread is hearty and filling. And it is tasty. It makes great toast! I'm sold.

You can learn more about Food for Life on their web site. I'd never tried their sprouted grain breads before but, honestly, I'm now a fan. One of my favorite things is that Food for Life doesn't use any GMO ingredients in their products. That is the mark of a good company in my book!

Would I buy this with my own money? Sure would. In fact, I already have. Yes, the bread is much more expensive than the regular supermarket bread but it is also better. (I think it is about $4.99 a loaf at my local Price Chopper but I've been lucky to find $1 off coupons to use, which helps! Check out CommonKindness to see if they still have printable coupons.)

Have you tried any of the Food for Life Sprouted Grain products? 
Which is your favorite?

~ Felice

Review disclaimer: I was sent two loaves of bread for review. I was not otherwise compensated and the opinions expressed are entirely my own. I read Scott Jurek's book on my own. Took it out of the library, in fact!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Tips for running in the snow.

Welcome, winter!

Yup, winter is here so for lots of people -- like, me, here in the northeast -- that means snow. My hope is that, like last year, we'll have a fairly un-snowy winter. In case that wish doesn't come true, I'm prepared. Yes, I'm a big time treadmill runner when the days are too chilly to push my toddler in the jogging stroller and the evenings are just too dark and cold. But I do stick to outdoors for my weekend runs and I love it. 

So, for you, remember that a snowy season doesn't mean you have to give up your outdoors runs! Just be sure to follow a few key tips to ensure your safety when you head outside:
  • Expect your runs to take more out of you. Running in the snow requires more energy so modify your expectations and your pace accordingly.
  • Warm up well. Running on snowy or icy routes will call your outer- and inner-thigh muscles into action in ways they may not be used to. Be sure to warm up your legs muscles well with some extra flexibility exercises for those muscles. Rubbing your legs with The Stick or using a foam roller can work well.
  • Wear trail shoes or add traction to your regular running shoes. Traction devices like YakTrax and STABILicers will give you extra stability in the snow.
  • Make yourself visible. Gray days, dark evenings, and snowy weather can make it tough to be seen. Wear high-visibility or reflective gear so drivers can see you, if you run on roads. Consider getting a headlamp if you run in low-light conditions. 
  • Alter your stride. To maintain better balance, shorten your stride and don't lift your feet as high as you normally do. Altering your stride will reduce your chances of falling or slipping.
  • Activate your eyes. Be on the look-out for ice patches and snow-covered potholes, tree roots and other things that could trip you up. When in doubt, slow to a walk.
  • Seek out fresh snow. Fresh snow provides more traction than packed snow.
If you follow these tips -- and you remember to dress for the weather -- running in the snow can be tons of fun. So get out there and enjoy yourself!

Do you have any other tips for running in the snow?

~ Felice

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Half-marathons . . . help!

OK, friends. I need your help.

I had plans to run the inaugural Nike Women's Half Marathon in DC this spring but that didn't pan out. So, I'm in need of a spring half to put on the schedule. I need it now, you see, to keep me motivated through cold weekend long runs and (far too) many mid-week treadmill runs.

Ideally, the race would take place sometime between late March and early May. It would be within driving distance of upstate New York and would require no more than a one overnight stay (if at all).

What do you think? Got a favorite half that I should look into? 

I need your suggestions!

And if you have a favorite, super-duper spring marathon that fits the bill, let me know about that, too! I might just be convinced to up the mileage and go for the full . . . you never know!


~ Felice

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Great deal for you from Fekkai.

*     *     *

As Conal reminded me this morning before getting on the bus, there are only 7 days until Christmas! That means procrastinators really need to get busy.

So whether you are a procrastinator and need to pick up a few items for someone special, or just need a little extra treat for yourself, I have a deal for you!

Fekkai, the web site from renowned hairdresser Frederic Fekkai, is currently running a holiday promotion to help you with last minute gifts. In addition to free shipping, they are offering 10% off your total order and a complimentary exclusive holiday headband with a $50 purchase (while supplies last). 

Check out how cute this headband is:

Wouldn't that be perfect for a New Year's Eve party? Sure would.

To get the deal, visit the Fekkai web site through this special holiday promotion link and, when ordering, use this promo code: HEADBAND.

That's it! Easy.

There are a ton of products to choose from. Me? I'm interested in the Brilliant Glossing Cream. Maybe the whole Brilliant Glossing line. I could use a little glossy brilliance in my life!

What about you?
Do you have someone on your list who could use a few Fekkai goodies? 
Ever tried anything from the Brilliant Glossing line? 
Should I try it out?

Thanks for stopping by today! Have a great week!

~ Felice

Monday, December 17, 2012

Reflect some light.

This weekend I was grateful . . .

  • when my 5-year-old got off the bus -- safe and sound -- on Friday . . . 
  • for a long run with a good friend (thanks, Bridget!) . . . 
  • for the smiles on my boys' faces when they got home from their Saturday morning outdoor adventure . . .
  • for home-baked Christmas cookies . . .
  • to be part of a religious community that vibrates positivity . . .
  • for an enjoyable Sunday dinner with the family . . . 
  • for all of my loved ones -- my family and friends, near and far!

It's just a short list. I know there is plenty more that I can -- and should -- be grateful for. 

But today, and always, I want to focus on what I can control and what is important, right, and good in my life. I can't do anything change any tragedy that has already happened. I must do what I can. And what I can do is try to reflect some light, because where there is light there can be no darkness.

Shine on, my friends. Shine on!

~ Felice

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A dozen running ideas.

Hey, cool! It's 12/12/12 today!

Here are a dozen ideas to celebrate the day:
  1. Run 12 miles
  2. Run 12K (7.45 miles)
  3. Run 12.12 miles
  4. Run 12.12K (7.53 miles)
  5. Run 3 x 1.2 mile repeats
  6. Run 12 x 400 (quarter mile) repeats
  7. Run 12 30-second pick-ups in the middle of your run
  8. Run a time trial mile at 12:12pm
  9. Start your run of any distance at 12:12pm
  10. Run at tempo pace for 12 minutes in the middle of your run
  11. Finish your run with some strength moves: 12 squats, 12 walking lunges, 12 push-ups, 12 sit-ups
  12. Finish your run with 12 x 1 minute planks

~ Felice

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mastering the 'mill.

I'm back to running all of my mid-week runs on the treadmill. And last week I even had to run one of my weekend runs on the 'mill. Better than nothing.

Fortunately, after a few weeks of not feeling my groove at all, I've found it. In fact, last week I felt like I was the Master of the 'Mill. 

My runs have been varied -- fast 5 milers, easy 4 milers, tempo runs of 7+ miles. And, of course, intervals and pick-ups because they are my favorite ways to pass the miles on the 'mill.

If you need any treadmill inspiration, I'll remind you of my favorite workout:

I love this one!

Enjoy. It really is a good workout!

Do you have a favorite treadmill workout?

Thanks for stopping by -- have a good week!

~ Felice

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

July 2001 -- December 2012

You were a good cat . . . we'll miss you!

~ Felice

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Getting oaty with Nairn's!

I love a good snack. And healthy snacks that taste good? Well, what's not to love there?

Which would explain why I really enjoy Nairn's oat cookies. Healthy, tasty, snacky. I'm in.

I didn't even know about these tasty little things before I was invited to try them out. I was sent a box of the stem ginger cookies and one of the mixed berries and I like them both. My son, the younger one, favors the mixed berry cookies. I, on the other hand, am all about the stem ginger.

And let me tell you: If you like ginger, get yourself a box of the Nairn's stem ginger cookies. Enjoy them in all of their not-too-sweet but full-of-ginger glory. Then, if you want to kick it up a notch, treat yourself to one of these concoctions:

Yes, my friends, that is Nutella spread on the stem ginger cookies. And it is heavenly.

Spicy ginger. Crispy cookie. Chocolate-y goodness. Heavenly.

Try it out.

Each stem ginger cookie has 43 calories, .7 grams of protein, .5 grams of fiber and 6.7 grams of carbohydrates.

Now, the question: Would I buy these with my own money? Yup. Sure would. Not all the time, because I do prefer homemade cookies to packaged ones. But, I can tell you I'm not baking up stem ginger cookies anytime soon so, yeah, if I needed a ginger fix I'd buy these for sure!

Have you ever tried Nairn's cookies? 
They have a whole line of gluten-free foods as well -- have you tried any of those? I'm interested in checking them out!

If you'd like more information on Nairn's products, visit the Nairn's web site.

~ Felice

Review disclosure: I was sent two boxes of the cookies to review but was not otherwise compensated and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Monday, December 3, 2012

November recap.

November was a month of re-focusing for me. August, September and October were so up-and-down for me. Although I ran half marathons in September and October, I didn't run much in the weeks after each of them. So, my mileage was down.

I just needed to be consistent again. And that is what happened in November: I was much more consistent, with every week a 20+ mile week.

Sure, I need breaks now and then but I've learned a few things about myself and one of those things is that I run my best and feel my best when I am running consistently. One other thing I've learned is that trying to do a plank every day is waaaaaaaay too much pressure for me. The pressure of having to do planks has completely turned me off and I think I did a grand total of 3 all month. I believe in them, however, so from  now on I plan to do them when I feel like it -- shooting for at least twice a week. We'll see how that goes!

Anyway, here's a look at my month of November:

Running (miles): 87.8
Races: 1 -- the Valatie Veteran's Day 5K, where I set a new PR! (22:18)
Cross training (sessions): 4
Planks: 3

Love that new PR!

Now: Welcome, December! I kicked the month off with 5+ miles on Saturday and 3.5 on Sunday. In between, I enjoyed a fun night out with two great friends (and our husbands):

And capped-off the weekend with a birthday dinner for my dad last night.

Great way to start the month!

How was your November? Do you have big plans for December?

Have a great week, everyone!

~ Felice

Friday, November 30, 2012

Race preparation tips.

Over the past year, I've learned a few things about race preparation. Do some things right and you can set yourself up for a strong race and maybe a PR. Do some things wrong and . . . well, dropping out might sound like a good idea.

That's what happened to me at the ZOOMA half marathon in September. I didn't prepare well and the race was extremely tough for me. Similarly, I cramped up in the New Jersey Marathon, and I blame some of my pre-race preparation for that.

I've also had some of my best race performances this year, including setting new PRs at all three of the 5Ks that I've run. I took a look at what I did before those three races, along with my PR-setting half marathon, my strong 10 mile race, and my PR-setting 4 mile race. There were several things I did right and I believe they are fairly universal.

I'd like to think they might be able to help you run some of your best races, too. So, here's a quick list of my best race preparation tips:

1. Accept. Let's start here. You have to accept that you are not going to have a good night's sleep the night before a race. It is just really unlikely that you will. Accept it and move on. I failed to accept that fact before the marathon and I ended up tossing and turning and lying awake much more than I should have.

2. Relax. The night before the race should be a time for relaxation. Don't think too much about your race. Before the marathon I was capital-N nervous. And with the ZOOMA race, I had to drive almost 4 hours and was staying at a hotel so I found it nearly impossible to relax. Before the Mohawk-Hudson half where I set a PR, we hosted my mother-in-law and a brother-in-law for the day. We had a birthday dinner for my younger son and when our visitors left, I kicked back with a cocktail and relaxed. It made all the difference.

3. Prepare early. Don't wait until the morning of the race to drink water -- hydrate early and often in the days leading up to the race. I have a hard time doing this but when I do a good job drinking water leading up to a race my performances improve.

4. Eat light and plain. Everyone's system is different so some of you might be able to handle more complex foods before a race. I can't and I've learned that the hard way -- with cramps and vomiting. What works for me is a plain English muffin toasted and lightly buttered, about two hours before a race. If the race is a long one (10+ miles), I might have half a banana as well. Nothing else. That's what works and I will stick with it forever. The key is to find the exact foods that work for you and not deviate from them. Pre-race is no time for experimentation!

5. Under-dress. How many times have you finished the first mile and realized you're too hot? Yeah, me too. It happens. Under-dress for the weather, by just a little bit, and you'll be happier and feel more comfortable.

6. Warm-up. A 5 to 10 minute warm-up is right for me. It gets my blood flowing and my lungs ready for heavier breathing. If you are not a warmer-upper, I highly recommend you start. Just a light, easy run will help you run a better race!

7. Believe. This one. This is an important one. Believe you can. My last two races were great, both PRs, and during the course of both of those races, I told myself over and over that I could do it. Run strong. Finish well. PR. Whatever. I told myself I could and I believed it. Believe you can and you will!

Showing off my 2nd place female trophy (along with my friend, Tami, who was the 3rd place female)  at the 10-mile Clove Run -- my tips worked!

What is your #1 race preparation tip? 

Apply these tips, run strong, and go get those PRs!

~ Felice

Monday, November 26, 2012

Turkey(ish) trotting.

Not having a formal turkey trot to run this year didn't stop me. Thursday was a beautiful day and I got out for a great run:

My own personal 10K in 54:29. Not bad! Best of all is that I felt super while running. A great way to enjoy the day.

And then there was the rest of the day. We were down on Long Island at my mother-in-law's house for a few days and Thanksgiving dinner was at my sister-in-law's newly renovated house. It was perfect for the large gathering.

The family -- heading out for Thanksgiving dinner.

We had lots of fun and a great time catching up with family that we don't see all that often.

On Friday morning I decided to extend my turkey trotting, this time working a mile time trial into a 4-mile run:

Loved running that sub-7 minute mile the morning after an indulgent Thanksgiving!

And now, we're back home, back to the routine.

Did you run or race on Thanksgiving? How did it go? 

I have to give a special bloggy cheer to my little sister who, on Thursday, ran her very first 5K ever! Way to go, Claire! And, while I'm at it, I'll cheer for my pal, Bridget, who ran a 10K PR on Thanksgiving, too.

Have a great week!

~ Felice

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Another "not racing."

But this time, it isn't because of an injury.

I'm not racing tomorrow even though I've long had plans to run a turkey trot. At first, I'd planned to run a local turkey trot with friends. Our plan was to stay local for Thanksgiving this year and so I would run a 10K to start the day. Superstorm Sandy changed everything and now we're headed to Long Island for the holiday instead.

So I found a 5 mile turkey trot on Long Island that I'd run several years ago. But, unfortunately, registration closed before I got a chance to get myself together and register. You snooze, you lose. I snoozed and lost.

No turkey trot for this happy runner.

Still happy, though. I'll map out a run and head out tomorrow morning anyway. The weather is supposed to be perfect so why not?

Are you running a turkey trot tomorrow? Just running on your own? 
Have fun whatever you do!

Just go easy on the mashed taters.

Happy Thanksgiving!

~ Felice

Monday, November 19, 2012

Un-stinking with ShowerPill!

During the week, I am the queen of fitting in my runs and workouts. I squeeze in runs that end just minutes before I need to get my older son off the bus, or that leave me just enough time to make dinner. And I'll squeeze in runs or workouts before I have to meet people or head out to run errands or whatever. I'm the queen of fitting it in.

This means, however, I don't always have time to shower after. And, as a big time exercise sweater, that's not a great thing. Because dried-on sweat = smelly body. Fortunately for me (and my friends and family!) I found ShowerPill. Because now I can un-stink!

Read more . . . 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My Life Map.

You can't love every book you read. And, unfortunately, I didn't love My Life Map, which I was invited to review for the BlogHer Book Club.

Now, before you stop reading and think, "OK, I'll cross that one off my list," let me say that I totally see the value in a book like My Life Map -- I just probably wasn't the ideal reader. At least not right now.

Ten years ago? Or three years from now? Well, yes. Then I would be an ideal reader. Most likely. But not so much right now.

My Life Map: A Journal to Help You Shape Your Future is designed to help readers "reflect on the past, evaluate the present, map your future." All good things. The book uses three types of maps to help you map your life: Subject maps, a ten-year map and a whole-life map. The authors provide a series of questions to help readers get thinking about their past, present and future and complete the maps. The questions are useful and I can see how answering them and mapping out one's life could be beneficial.

I guess I wasn't in the reflective frame of mind when I got the book. Which surprised me because I thought I would be. But, when I sat down to use the book, I felt like it was geared toward people in the 20s (and maybe early 30s) who are just starting out -- and those in their late 50s or 60s who are starting out again. As I mentioned earlier, it seemed to me like I wasn't the ideal reader.

However, if you are looking for a book that can help you sort out where you've been so you can make better decisions about where you are going, this may be a great book for you!

Have you used My Life Map? Did you like it? 

Have a great day, everyone!

~ Felice

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

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