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.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Valatie Veteran's Day 5K race report.

I had planned to run a 10K on Long Island this past Saturday. But superstorm Sandy made a mess of the island so the race was canceled. And we ended up canceling our trip, which was a good move. One of my brothers-in-law, his wife, and their young son were displaced by the storm, and will be for probably the rest of this year. So, they popped up this weekend for a visit and to get a little break.

In between canceling our trip and making the new plans, I signed up for a small local 5K. And I talked Bridget in to running it as well. So, even though my BIL, Glenn, and his family were here, I still managed to get in a race.

I'm thrilled that I did.

Bridget and I got to the Valatie Veteran's Day 5K about a half hour before the race started, picked up our shirts and our bibs and booked it back to the car because it was so much colder than we had expected. We sat around for a little while and then I decided to take off for a quick warm-up and she met up with our friend Karen who was also running the race.

After meeting back up, we went to the starting line and with a loud, "On your mark. Get set. Runners go!" we were off.

I wanted to run a strong race and I hoped to finish under 23 minutes, if not close to my PR.

My first mile was conservative. I ran in a pack for that first mile, slowly passing all of the runners in that pack. Then the sun came out and the course turned on to a really pretty country road and I was running mostly alone. I could see a pack ahead of me and part of me wanted to try to close the gap, but the other (smarter) part of me decided I needed to heed my own advice and run my own race.

That's what I did. I picked up the pace a smidge over the second mile and then, in the third mile, poured it on. With about a half mile to go, I started to feel like I was going to get a PR.

And then, right around mile 3, I came to the hill. Not a long hill, but a steepish hill and just something that, honestly, I didn't want to run up at the end of a 5K in which I'd been pushing my pace.

But I did.

And I finished strong.

Coming in to the finish line.

22:18 and a new PR!

My old PR, set in August, was 22:42. Yup, on Saturday I smashed that old record!

Man, I was psyched. After finishing, I grabbed a water and a banana and went back to cheer for Karen and Bridget. I somehow missed Karen crossing the line, but I saw Bridget, who also set a new PR of 25:58! Yay!

What makes my performance so good, to me, is that I felt strong the entire way and ran negative splits, well, except for the last bit. Check it out:

Mile 1: 7:20
Mile 2: 7:10
Mile 3: 6:58
Last .1: 8:05 pace (yeah, the hill got me!)

Overall pace: 7:11

Pretty cool. Like I said, it was a small race -- only 135 people. I ended up finishing 15th overall, 5th female, and 1st in my age group. Not too shabby.

I was very pleased. Very, very pleased. The rest of the weekend was terrific too!

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you all had a great weekend!

~ Felice

Friday, November 9, 2012

Put a hat on it.

Over the summer, the nice folks at Jack Rabbit Caps sent me a customized hat for review. I've worn the hat several times but I failed to get around to reviewing it.

It's a shame because the hat is great.

Check out the fun customization:

The Happy Runner. That's me!

The hat is very soft and it fits well. It even has a back ponytail hole, which is a nice addition for me since I always wear my hair in ponytails when I run. I like that the hat didn't slip or move around when I ran. I also like that it is light so I didn't feel overheated when I wore it.

And, of course, I love that it had "The Happy Runner" embroidered on the side. I mean, how cool is that?

Very cool.

You can get your own customized hat by visiting their web site (HERE). The regular, moisture-wicking caps go for $24.99, or $29.99 with customization. They also have wool caps that go for $29.99 ($35.99 with customization). And there are several fun colors to choose from. Oh, and shipping is free!

Best thing? Jack Rabbit Caps are made right here in the USA. Go, Jack Rabbit Caps!

Now, the question: Would I buy this with my own money? I'll tell you what. I don't spend a lot on myself but I would put this on my Christmas/birthday/Mother's Day gift list. Hey, that's a good idea! Put a Jack Rabbit Cap on your gift wish list!

Are you a hat wearer? Have you tried Jack Rabbit Caps? 
What's your favorite hat?

Have a great weekend, everyone!

~ Felice

Review disclosure: I was sent a hat for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Each month since my marathon in May, I've run fewer and fewer miles. Check it out:

June: 100
July: 94.1
August: 80.8
September: 81.6
October: 57.4

57.4?!?! And that included a half-marathon?


The even greater yikes is the impact that this downward mileage trend has made on my life. My mileage reduction has resulted in a weight increase. Of 7 pounds. Seven pounds since the marathon.

What the what!?!?

This was me, the day before the marathon. Those jeans fit perfectly back then. Perfectly.
If I'm honest, they're a bit snug right about now. Not cool.

Clearly, I have been eating as if I am still running 30 miles a week, not the puny mileage I've actually been doing. I need to get that in check. After all, I'm not that young anymore so pounds gained now could easily become pounds that never go away. I'd like to shake of these 7 now, please.

And, really? I blame giving-in-to-temptation for the gain. Halloween candy? Hand it over. Toddler didn't finish his lunch? I will. No one is eating that last half of English muffin? With all that butter on it? Fine, I'll eat it.

Yeah, no more of that.

Conveniently, there are about 7 weeks between now and the end of the year. I'm pretty sure I can manage to drop these 7 extra pounds by then. And that's my goal. Clean up my eating habits, get my mileage back up, lose the extra 7.

Think I can do it? 

I'll let you know.

~ Felice

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

October recap.

October was another roller coaster-style month for me. The highs included a new PR at the Mohawk Hudson Half Marathon. The lows included my fall and resulting sprained ankle at the Mohawk Hudson Half Marathon.

Yes, it was quite the day.

After the race, I had to rest the ankle to allow it to heal. I actually think that the forced rest was a good thing for me. Although my monthly mileage was pretty low, I stayed active and did a lot of cross-training. And, my ankle healed. It took a while but I'd say it is completely back to normal now. Yay!

Here's how October shaped up for me:

Running (miles): 57.4
Races: 1 -- the Mohawk Hudson Half Marathon where I set a new PR (1:46:59)
Cross training (sessions): lots -- at least two a week
Planks: tried for one a day, ended up with 23

Not half bad. I'd like to see my mileage get back up a bit for November but I'm not going to go crazy. I'll just take the month as it comes. This whole not training for any races thing is kinda nice!

Have a good day, everyone. Happy election day!

~ Felice

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sweat Pretty!

I'm a year-round runner but I do tend to decrease my mileage in the winter and increase my cross training. This year, I plan to run some of the local winter series races but I also hope to spend a good bit of time cross training and working on my weak spots. I want to be in good shape for a spring half or full marathon.

In the past, I'd watch Exercise TV on demand and do some of my favorite workouts with Jillian Michaels and others like her. Alas, those days are gone now that Exercise TV is defunct.

Enter Puma's new Sweat Pretty series!

Puma and former Biggest Loser trainer (and Golden Glove-winning boxer) Cara Castronouva have put together a series of training videos that are available on the Puma site ( The videos are good for cross-training and shaking up your workout routine, especially during the cold months!

Check out the first episode:

And here's another episode:

What do you think?

You can view more of the videos, read about the trainers and get more fitness-related information on the Puma site HERE.

Do you like workout videos? What are some of your favorites?

Teaser! Teaser! I've got a Puma giveaway coming up that you won't want to miss! So, I'll just go ahead and suggest that you like The Happy Runner on Facebook so you don't miss a thing!

~ Felice


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