Thursday, September 27, 2012

Daring Greatly.

There is so much that I liked about Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, which I read as part of the BlogHer Book Club. First, there's the quote from Theodore Roosevelt that inspired the title:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…” -- Theodore Roosevelt

I love it.

And then there's the author, Brené Brown. I'd never heard of her before reading this book but now I think I love her. She's a Ph.D. researcher from Texas (she currently does her research at the University of Houston) who gave the most-viewed TED presentation. She's a shame and vulnerability researcher who talks about living wholeheartedly. And she does so in a non-selfhelpy way.

She rocks.

And so does this book.

The idea is this: People are afraid of feeling vulnerable. We're afraid of getting hurt, of being criticized and made-fun-of. We're afraid of not being enough, of not being perfect. And we're all kinds of afraid of messing up our kids and our relationships. This fear of vulnerability stops us from daring greatly -- from doing the big (and the little) things that create full, rich lives. What we fear holds us back from living wholeheartedly.

I'm not going to go in to all that Brown writes about in this book because this review would be pages and pages long and no one wants that. Instead, I'll say this: Daring Greatly is worth reading. Brown provides information about how to come to terms with vulnerability and the negative cultural pressures that make people feel like they are never enough -- and that they never have enough (time, money, whatever).

It's a great book. For real.

Have you read Daring Greatly or any of Brown's other books? What did you think? 

How do you dare greatly in your life?

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Felice

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

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

ZOOMA half marathon race report.

Alternatively titled: The good, the bad, and the gross.

This is a tough race report to write. I'd really been looking forward to race weekend and, overall, I had a good time. But I also had a hard time in the race and I've been trying to deal with that, which, admittedly, is not easy.

Anyway . . . 

I left for Cape Cod early Friday afternoon. It was a good trip -- a little traffic, but nothing major. I got to the hotel around 5, cleaned myself up a bit and headed down to the expo.

The view from my room.

I grabbed my packet and hit the SkirtSports booth to meet Sandra. We chatted about running and marathons and running skirts -- of course! Then I spotted Tricia, who is the director of social media for ZOOMA. I've known her in the virtual world for quite a while so it was great to finally meet her in person!

It was also super to meet Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea, the authors of Run Like a Mother (and frequent Runner's World contributors). Sarah was great -- we chatted about race goals and long runs and our shared love of Minneapolis. She's running the Twin Cities Marathon in two weeks and I'm feeling a little jealous!

After the expo, I met up with all of the other ZOOMA ambassadors for a cocktail party at the outdoor bar, which was so pretty. When we got there, the sun was setting and the view was gorgeous.

At the ZOOMA party: Brooke,me, Tricia, Amy, Michelle, and Brae (the ZOOMA founder)
After hanging out and having a nice time at the event, I decided to make an early night of it and I went back to my room, laid out my race gear and tried to sleep.

I didn't sleep all that well but that's to be expected the night before a race -- especially the night before a race when staying at a hotel! I woke up at 5:30 and ate my peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread, rested a bit longer and then got going.

Ready to keep going!

The race started right at the hotel -- so perfect! I found my friend and fellow Strong Running Mama, Sheila, and after snapping a quick pic, we lined up together.

That's me with Sheila before the race. 

Sheila and I had different goals for this race: Sheila was gunning for a PR (sub-1:48) and I was going for a strong run, with a finish of under 1:50 if I felt really good, under 1:55 if I felt just regular.

Right at 7:30, we took off. And starting running uphill. The course was described as having "rolling hills" but, you know what? After running it, I don't think those hills were so rolling. It was hilly. Period.

So, we ran. I felt good. Sheila and I ran together for about the first mile and then she started to pick up the pace a little and I knew that I needed to run my own race, so I dialed back a smidge and soon enough Sheila was a good 10 steps ahead of me, which was as it should be.

The first two miles were great. And then I got a side cramp, but it was no big deal. I can handle a little cramp. I kept running, poking my cramp now and then. After mile 3, the cramp seemed to go away. Only to come back with a vengeance.

Things get a little fuzzy around miles 4 and 5 . . . I felt terrible. I had goosebumps all over my body and felt like I was alternately freezing and boiling and then . . . it happened. I threw up.

Yup. I had to zip to the side of the road because it just came over me so quickly. (Although, thinking back, I know it was building for a while.)

Gross, I know.

I felt ridiculous. And angry with myself. And scared about what it meant. And then I wondered how I would make it through the rest of the race.

Remember my bracelet? The one telling me to Just Keep Going?

Well, thank goodness for that because I must have looked at it 100 times over the course of the remaining miles. And I kept going. You can walk, but you've got to finish.

I have to admit that I struggled and, like a fool, kept trying to push myself to get under that 1:55. So I'd try to pick up the pace, only to have the gawdawful cramp come rushing back. It was like that for miles. At one point, probably a mile from the finish line, I stopped. The cramp had gotten so bad and I felt like I was being stabbed with every step I took. I think I was a bit doubled-over when a fellow racer came up from behind and put her arm on me. I don't remember exactly what she said but it was uplifting and it helped get me started again.

I ran on. Up the hills toward the finish. As I got closer, one of the volunteers told me that if I hustled, I could break 2 hours.

So I hustled.

Squeaking in just under 2 hours!
The announcer had everyone cheer me in for the sub-2 finish. It definitely helped!

After I crossed the line, I was given my finishers' necklace -- which I LOVE!

Love, love, love.

And then Sheila found me (she also snapped the picture of me crossing the finish line) and we talked about the race. Sheila rocked the race and set a HUGE PR -- she finished in 1:46:41 and was 2nd in her age group!! I was really happy for her and quite impressed! I can't wait to see how she does in her marathon in two weeks!

As for me, well, the race didn't go as planned. Not at all. I walked around after the race and then went back to my room to lie down and take a warm shower. Within an hour I was fine. What a weird experience.

Here's my race stats:

Official time: 1:59:57
Overall place: 81 out of 245
Age group place: 11 out of 31

Before heading home, I spent some time with Tricia and even remembered to get a picture of the two of us. Nice frizzy hair I have there, huh?

Thinking back about what happened, I place some blame on my food choices. I think the whole wheat bread and peanut butter didn't sit well. I can't imagine what else it could be. So, for my next race -- the Mohawk Hudson half in less than two weeks -- I'll make some fueling changes. I don't need a repeat of my side-of-the-road antics!

All in all, I had a very good time in Cape Cod for the ZOOMA race. I would totally do it again! The race was well organized and it was a pleasure to work with the team as an ambassador. I recommend this race series, for sure.

And now, I'm back. My Sunday recovery run was good and I'm hoping that I can get a few more good runs in before the next race.

In the meantime, let me ask this:

Have you ever thrown up in a race? Had awful cramps? 
What did you learn from the experience? What changes did you make?

I'll take all the advice I can get!

Thanks for reading. Have a good day!

~ Felice

Friday, September 21, 2012

ZOOMA goals.

Tomorrow is the ZOOMA Cape Cod half marathon. I'm so excited! I've enjoyed being involved with this race for the past few months and I can't wait to meet my fellow ambassadors! I'm looking forward to a weekend of fun.

But, since it is a race, I do have some goals. Not big-time goals, though, because my fall "A" race is the Mohawk-Hudson half marathon in October. I would, however, like to run a strong race tomorrow.

So, my plan is to do just that. I'd like to start out conservatively and pick up the pace in the second half of the race. I also have a few time goals:

B goal: 1:55 or better
A goal: 1:49:59 or better

As long as I run well, I'll be happy. I've never run on Cape Cod -- in fact, I've only run one other race in the whole state of Massachusetts. So, it will be a treat for me!

Good luck to everyone else who is racing this weekend! 

~ Felice

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

$25 Walmart gift card giveaway!

Check it out!! I'm giving away a $25 Walmart gift card over on my other blog today!

Go now! Right HERE. You might just win . . .  

Good luck!

~ Felice

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Still shaking.

Hey, hey! Well, it worked. I shook off the lousy run with an awesome speed workout yesterday. I felt fast. I felt strong. I felt like the lousy run was just an itty bitty blip on my running screen.

And today, I put that blip even farther out of my sights.

Today was cross training. And I loved it. Loooooved it. My workout? Pretty simple, yet effective.

I started with planks:

1 minute regular (center) plank
1 minute side plank (right side)
1 minute regular plank
1 minute side plank (left side)
1 minute regular plank

I did these with no rest in between, just holding 1 minute, switching, holding one minute . . . for a total of 5 minutes.

Then I hit the cardio part of the workout.

5 rounds, as fast as possible, of:

15 weighted walking lunges
60 jumping jacks

Yup. I was one sweaty mama at the end of the workout. And, like I said, I loved it.

Shaking it up works for me!

Do you do planks? I've become slightly addicted to them lately...

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Felice

Monday, September 17, 2012

Shake off the lousy run!

It's race week! The ZOOMA Cape Cod half marathon is this Saturday, which makes this a lousy time to have lost my mojo.

What happened to it?

I certainly don't know. I've going along nicely: A strong 10-mile race in August, a new 5K PR while on vacation, a little too much chaos the following week that led to some low mileage, a new-found love of stroller running. And then . . . bam! Mojo gone.

Yesterday's run rotted. If you know me at all, you know I rarely have anything other than good things to say about my runs. I love running and, in my book, even a not-so-great run is something worth enjoying.

But yesterday was tough. I couldn't get my breathing right. My legs felt like lead. My head felt like it was about to fly away on its own. I felt off. I had no mojo.

I tried speeding up. I tried slowing down. I tried doing some long division in my head. Nothing worked.

It was just one of those runs.

However. As I said, I have this half marathon on Saturday and I'd like to have a decent race. I need my mojo back and I need it now.

My plan? Shake it up. This morning I'll run a speed workout that I haven't done in quite some time:

10:00 warm-up (about a mile)
10:30 of 30 seconds fast (7:00/mi), 60 seconds slow (9:30/mi)
10:00 of 60 seconds fast, 90 seconds slow
cool down

I need to shake out whatever it is that needs shaking out. Let's hope this workout does it!

What do you do when you have an off run or need to shake things up?

Have a good week!

~ Felice

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Men's Health Urbanathlon winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered my giveaway for the free entry to one of the upcoming Men's Health Urbanathlon events. I'm a little late in announcing the winner but better late than never, right?

I used to choose the winner from all the valid entries and the winner is . . .

Lazy Chick from Lazy Chick Runs Too!

She picked San Francisco for her event. Congratulations, Lazy Chick! Shoot me an email at felicehalf [at] yahoo [dot] com so you can get your registration information.

Stay tuned for some more fun giveaways coming up!

Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

~ Felice

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday running motivation.

My advice for you this weekend -- as you head out for your long run, easy run, or you line up for your race -- is this:

Have a great weekend, everyone!

~ Felice

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Stroller running!

About a year ago I bought a jogging stroller. I had high hopes for Monday/Wednesday/Friday morning runs, pushing my little guy in the stroller while my preschooler was off preschooling.

Didn't happen. For starters, the second (third?) time I used it, I injured my knee/hamstring while running downhill. So I didn't want to attempt any hills while pushing the stroller (and my neighborhood happens to be all hills). And then I got serious about marathon training and I felt that my stroller runs weren't serious enough so I shelved them.

And then it was summer and my preschooler was done preschooling and with two kids at home, the jogging stroller did me no good. With the exception of a week when the preschooler went to camp, running when the kids were with me meant running on the treadmill. No big deal.

Now, I am (knock on wood) injury free. And my preschooler has become a kindergartener and is off every day kindergartening. I have one kid at home. One kid who fits nicely in the jogging stroller.

So recently I've been running while pushing my 30+ lb son in the jogging stroller. I love it!

Check him out -- my jogging stroller buddy. With toys. And refreshments. And double hats!

Have you been thinking about stroller running? Want some tips?

It's your lucky day. I happen to have picked up a few along the way that I'd like to share. Here they are:

It doesn't hurt to start the stroller run with a minute or so of walking. Pushing a stroller while running is tough. Easing in to the run makes it, well, easier. Cut yourself some slack and walk to warm up.

Don't look at your pace. Really. Just don't. Not much good can come from trying to maintain your non-stroller pace while stroller running. Seriously. When I first started, I thought I'd be off by a few seconds. A few seconds!?! Such folly! I was off my pace by about a minute. Not 30 seconds. Not 45. A full minute. It was disappointing. I felt like a weakling. As I've gotten better at this stroller running thing, I'm still off-pace by about 30 seconds. The difference is, I don't care. And you shouldn't either.

Hills turn ugly when you're stroller running. Oh, hills. How I used to love you. Now, you simply make me sweat -- a lot -- and feel like I am going to pass out. You are hard to conquer. So, sometimes, I quit you. I simply walk. And that's OK. I am not ashamed to have to slow to a walk when stroller running up a hill. Not ashamed at all.

But with one small adjustment, hills can become a little easier to climb. 
Get this: Just by shifting your foot strike, you take back the hill. I always ran up the hills just landing as I would if I wasn't pushing a stroller. Then, one day, I started to land solely (ha!) on my toes. What. A. Difference. I practically glide up the (shorter, not-so-steep) hills now. Try it: Tippy-toe run up the hill. I bet it will work for you, too.

Downhill running, however, is another thing entirely. 
Downhills can get you. They got me. Last November, the downhills got me baaaaad. I was trying to run down the hills, but my quads/knees/hamstrings were putting on the brakes. They were trying to protect me from flying down the hill and, potentially, flying over the jogging stroller and landing, mortified, on my face. Smart body parts I have. Not so smart is the fact that by putting on the body brakes, I strained my muscles and tendons and was injured for almost two full months. 

I've learned my lesson and hope you can learn from it, too. Use the hand brake on your jogging stroller to slow the stroller when you are running downhill -- don't make your legs have to do the braking. By just putting the hand brake on about halfway, I can slow the stroller enough so that I pretty much still have to push it on the downhills. It is much safer that way. Take my word for it!

There is nothing -- and I mean nothing -- wrong with a little bribery. Toys. Snacks. Drinks. Promises of future tv shows or usually-reserved-for-dessert snacks. It is all good. Whatever you need to do to keep your little one happy while you are running is fine. All good. Feel no guilt.

That's what I've compiled so far. I'm feeling totally good about my stroller running and hope to keep it up until the weather gets too cold. Wish me luck!

In the meantime . . . do you have any stroller running tips to share? Hit me up!

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Felice

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Dove hair therapy (review and giveaway).

Let me admit one thing right off the bat: I am a conditioner junkie. Junkie. No lie. Just ask my husband. He'll point to the three or four different bottles of conditioner in our shower right now and agree with me. Total conditioner junkie. But I have an excuse. My hair is all kinds of crazy. It's that half-straight, half-curly, full-on-frizzy that makes me wield both dryer and straightener to get it to look halfway decent, and that often has me giving up and pulling it all back in a pony tail.

After all, I'm just going to have to pull it back for my run anyway, right? Right. And maybe that is part of my problem. See, because I run and workout often, I wash my hair all the time. Probably not the best thing for hair that goes frizzy.

So, my hair requires the conditioner. Without it, the craziness level kicks up to, I don't know, 11 or something.

Not a good look.

Now, with my admission out of the way, let's get on with this review!

I recently tried out the Dove Nourishing Oil Care Daily Treatment Conditioner. This stuff is niiiiiice.

According to Dove, the conditioner is a dual-phase treatment: A gold stripe contains weightless "nutri-oils" that deeply nourish the hair without leaving a greasy feel, and a white stripe contains conditioners that seal cuticles and smooth frizz.

However these stripes work doesn't matter much to me. What matters is that my hair really does feel smoother when I use this conditioner. Is it frizz-free? Well, no. That would be a miracle. Is it less frizzy? Yup. For sure. And that, to me, is a huge win.

I've tried countless conditioners that have done next to nothing for my hair. I've used the Dove Nourishing Oil Care Daily Treatment Conditioner for about two weeks now and I can say it works for me.

Overall, I give it a thumbs-up!

Now, the big question: Would I buy this conditioner with my own money? 

Yes, I would!

How's your hair? Are you a conditioner junkie like me? 
Do "bad hair days" have you wanting to get away from it all?

Well, my friends, if you need a get-away, you're in luck. Check out this awesome giveaway!

Enter to win a $1,000 Spafinder gift certificate!



You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

a) Follow this link, and provide your email address and your response to the Promotion prompt

b) Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: "#SweepstakesEntry"; and then visit this link to provide your email address and the URL to that Tweet.

c) Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and then visit this link to provide your email address and the URL to that post.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. Winners will have 72 hours to claim the prize, or an alternative winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 9/4/2012 - 9/30/2012

Be sure to visit Dove® to get a coupon for $1.50 off Dove Hair Therapy products.

Good luck!

~ Felice

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wordless Wednesday.

(Big day here in Happy Runner-ville. Big day indeed.)

~ Felice

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Men's Health Urbanathlon giveaway!

From mud runs to color runs to races where you have to jump over fire, adventure and other off-beat races seem to be taking over these days. I've never run one, but I have been intrigued. These races seem like they would be fun -- something different to do to put the fun in the run.

Someday I'll get on that.

In the meantime, I've got a giveaway so one lucky reader can experience a little racing adventure of their own.

Have you heard of the Men's Health Urbanathlon

It is a 3-city event series comprised of 9.5 to 11 mile endurance races. They incorporate city landmarks and urban obstacle courses set on the streets of Chicago, New York and San Francisco. This fall's race dates are:

Chicago: October 13th
New York: October 27th
San Francisco: November 18th

Take a peek at this recap from last year's race series:

Are you into it? Want to participate?

The giveaway

Thanks to the fine folks at Men's Health Urbanathlon, I have one free entry to give away to one reader. To enter, let me know that you'd like to win and which race location you'd choose, if you win.

**And, yes, ladies, women are welcome and encouraged to participate!**

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
  • Follow me on Pinterest, or let me know that you already do (leave a comment 
  • Pin the video from this post to share the giveaway on Pinterest (leave a comment  
  • Link to this giveaway on Twitter using this tweet  (leave a comment

Win a Men's Health Urbanathlon entry from @TheHappyRunner:

  • Follow me on Twitter, or let me know that you already do (leave a comment
  • Link to this giveaway from your blog  (leave a comment 

This giveaway will run through Monday, September 10 at 11:59pm EST and the winner will be announced on Tuesday.

Good luck!

~ Felice

Review/giveaway disclosure: I was invited to write about this event and host a giveaway. I was not otherwise compensated and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Oh, and about that race . . .

So, I was on vacation for the past week, enjoying myself in lovely Stone Harbor, NJ with my family and some wonderful friends.

We go away every year -- four families rent a house together and it is always a great time.

Here we are on the last night at the beach:

Janis, Bridget, Monique and me

All the kids!

Yes, I enjoyed myself a lot.

I didn't, however, run a lot.

Oh, sure. I had grand plans to run everyday and I thought for sure I'd sneak in a mid-week long run. But that didn't happen. I think I ran 3 times total. It was one thing after another but mostly it was that I was too busy being on vacation to run much. And that's OK. Sometimes a happy runner just needs a bit of a break.

What I did do, though, is run a quick little 5K on our second day. And I happened to set a new PR.

It was the Sandy Paws 5K and it took place just 6 blocks from our house. Bridget and I decided we had to run it, even though we had raced the Clove Run 10 miler just a week earlier. Who cares? we thought. We're just running for fun -- it is a vacation race after all!

After a horrible night's sleep (we experienced possibly the worst thunder storm ever), Bridget and I got up early and walked over to the race, which started at 8. It was hot. It was humid. I was dripping with sweat after about a minute of running.

As hot and sweaty as I was, I tried to run a steady pace. My A goal for the race was to finish around 23 minutes and run negative splits. Well, that didn't exactly happen:

Mile 1: 7:16
Mile 2: 7:20
Mile 3: 7:24
last .10: 6:54 pace

Finish time: 22:42

A new PR by ONE second! That's about as close as you can get. I never in a million years thought I'd PR at this race but I guess I just had it in me!

Here I am in the last mile -- Owen and the kids (along with Bridget's husband and their kids) came out to cheer us on!

Although I didn't run negative splits, I'm not too disappointed because my splits were fairly steady and I certainly didn't drop off too much in that last mile.

Bridget and I walked home right after the race because the awards ceremony was scheduled for a half hour after the ace ended. It's too bad, because I ended up finishing second in my age group. Oh, well. We had a vacation to get on with -- we couldn't stand around and wait!

And get on with the vacation we did. What a wonderful week.

Now, back to reality. And back to my training plan!

Have a great week, everyone. Thanks for stopping by!

~ Felice

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