September 30, 2014

Clif Protein and Electrolyte Beverage Review + GIVEAWAY

I've always struggled with post-run nutrition, particularly in the hot summer months when the only thing I usually think about is cooling off with a chilly electrolyte beverage.  Over the years, I've learned that I need a better calorie and nutrient replacement plan after long runs.  Since I struggle with eating, I've turned to protein shakes for after my long runs.  So when Clif shared some of their new Shot beverage powders - electrolyte drinks and recovery protein drinks - I was ecstatic.  I spent all summer testing out the drink mixes they shared: cranberry razz electrolyte, lemon lime-aid electrolyte, chocolate protein recovery, and orange mango protein recovery.

With my rigorous Richmond Marathon training schedule, the timing was perfect to try out some new products.  Anyone who has trained for a marathon knows that you blow through nutrition like nobody's business!  Given that I'm trying to PR in Richmond, I also knew that I needed to get serious about my nutrition and this is helping with my post-run recovery.  Now if these could only help with my evening ice cream addiction...

My Thoughts
Cranberry Razz Electrolye Drink Mix: I was curious to try this because I love the Shot Bloks in the same flavor.  In a drink, I didn't love this flavor.  I felt like I was drinking cranberry juice, which wasn't terribly appetizing during a workout.  I will consider this for a pre- or post-workout option but it wasn't my jam.

Lemon Lime-Aid Electrolyte Drink Mix: Pretty standard lemon lime flavor and something that I would drink anytime. Lemon lime is generally my favorite flavor for electrolyte drinks so I would definitely keep this one around!

Chocolate Protein Recovery Drink Mix: I tried this several ways and it never disappointed. Mixed simply with skim milk, it tasted a bit like chocolate milk.

Orange Mango Protein Recovery Drink Mix: I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical of this flavor when I first got the samples. I first tried it with water, thinking it might taste more like a more substantial electrolyte drink since the flavor reminded me of a similar drink. I really liked the flavor but didn't find that it mixed very well with water...or maybe I should have let it mix a bit longer. Regardless, I loved it as a more below for my recipe!

My only complaint with both of the protein mixes was that both were a little chalky and grainy when mixed with milk or water. But in a smoothie, they blended very well.  It's also possible that I didn't give them enough time to mix in water or milk, whereas a blender can really kick up the mixing action!

Orange Mango Berry smoothie prep
Smoothie Recipes
Chocolate Berry 
- 1 packet chocolate protein recovery mix 
- 8 oz. skim milk
- 2-3 Tbsp. Nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2-3/4 C mixed berries (I used blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries)
- 3-4 ice cubes
Blend well. Makes about 18-20 oz. 

Chocolate Banana PB
- 1 packet chocolate protein recovery mix
- 8 oz. skim milk
- 1-2 Tbsp. Peanut butter
- 1 banana 
- 3-4 ice cubes
Blend well. Makes about 18 oz. 

Orange Mango Berry
- 1 packet orange mango protein recovery mix
- 8 oz. skim milk
- 2-3 Tbsp. Nonfat plain Greek yogurt 
- 3/4 C strawberries and raspberries 
- 3-4 ice cubes
Blend well. Makes 18-20 oz. 

And now for the fun part, Clif wants to share a sample pack with you too!  Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter below to enter and good luck! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: Clif provided me with drink mix samples to test and review.  All opinions provided in this post are my own.

September 29, 2014

My Decision for Richmond

As I mentioned in my last post about Richmond, I've been giving myself time to think over this race.  I looked into the deferral policy and also switching to the half.  They allow deferrals through Oct 31st, which is amazing; it gives people a lot of flexibility for emergent personal issues or injuries.  They allow changes to another race through tomorrow and only for a $10 fee plus any difference in the current registration fees.  So there are options...

But in the end, I've decided that I truly want to race this marathon.  As we've seen some crisper weather, my spirits and overall attitude about running have improved.  I've told myself to keep pushing, to keep trying for the 26.2.  I have been gentler with myself on my long run pace and it's paid off.  I was able to zone out during my recent 17 and 18 mile runs and actually find some peace and calm. 

I have been dedicated to strong weeknight runs and made changes to better accommodate them.  For weeks, I found that my tempo runs (traditionally on Thursdays) either didn't happen or happened at a greatly increased pace or reduced mileage.  I realized that this was my hardest weeknight workout and I simply switched it to Tuesday.  For the last two weeks, I've nailed these runs and have been trading off speed work and hill work on Thursdays.  It's been a great confidence booster as well. 
Loved this from the Richmond Marathon Facebook page
And besides my own pride, I've thought of quite a few reasons to go for the full.  I didn't spend HOURS searching for the perfect hotel to be close to the starting line for "just another half marathon."  I got to see my race shirt at the Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach expo...I couldn't tell you what color shirt is for the half marathon.  And besides I love this blue!  I like being able to eat ice cream a few nights a week and not stress about the calories.  I've come this far that I figure I might as well see the training cycle through to the end. 

I only have 2 more long runs in this training cycle and then it's taper time.  Race day is coming quickly and I'm getting excited.  I'm trying to take a more relaxed approach to my time goal.  All of my long runs are putting me at PR pace, and it all depends on how I feel (and perform) on race day.  Only time will tell (pun intended)!

Are you getting ready for a fall marathon?

September 28, 2014

Weekly Roundup September 28th

The last two weeks have been great weeks for us.  I am convinced that there is a direct correlation between the cooler temperatures and my performance and attitude about running!  And hearing this morning's news of a new men's marathon world record at the Berlin marathon was incredible.  I thought a lot about the new record on my long run and wondered if we will ever see a 1-something marathon.

Each fall, Virginia Beach has one of its biggest festivals, the Neptune Festival.  It's considered a locals take back of the beach weekend since most of the tourists have gone home by now.  Since it was a perfect fall day yesterday, I spent some time down at the beach at the art show, and the parade.  No festival is complete without a local parade, right?  We were even able to see some of the Regatta while we were on the Boardwalk.  It was a great morning and I love when activities like this are free!  We opted out of viewing the sandcastles since they now charge to see them - boo! 

With marathon training well underway, I've been paying closer attention to my nutrition so I have been trying different smoothies after my long run.  I'll be sharing more on this later this week but here's a sneak peek of what went into today's concoction!

Sunday, September 21st 
Pam: 20 mile long run 10:32 average pace
Christine: Long walk

Monday, September 22nd
Pam: Rest day
Christine: 35 min elliptical, weights, abs

Tuesday, September 23rd
Pam: 6.2 miles, 7 minutes easy, 3 race pace for entire run
Christine: 6 mi tempo progression run, stretching

Wednesday, September 24th
Pam: 25 minutes bike, weights, stretching
Christine: Rest day

Thursday, September 25th
Pam: 5 mile tempo run, 1 easy warmup, 4 at 8:35 pace
Christine: Unplanned rest day (happy hour sounded more fun!)

Friday, September 26th
Pam: Stationary bike 30 minutes, weights
Christine: 3.5 mi hill work with 0.5 mile cool down

Saturday, September 27th
Pam: 14 mile long run at 10:41 pace
Christine: 30 min stationary bike, push-ups, abs, stretching 

September 26, 2014

Friday Fun - Trick or Treat bags for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party!

Attending the various holiday parties at the Magic Kingdom is a great way to celebrate the season with your friends and family.  With Christine having a birthday next week, I thought a little visit to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party would be the perfect way to celebrate her birthday. And trick or treating at the most magical place on earth will be fun!

We decided that costumes were not going to be part of our party dress, but wearing something a little festive would be fun.  I found these tee shirts at Target and they are perfect, since Mickey's body lights up in the dark!

Missing out on the candy was not going to happen, especially after my travel agent friend Megan told me it was perfectly acceptable to trick or treat with the kids.  The last time I went trick or treating was when I lived in Boston during my freshman year in college and honestly the homeowners were not impressed by a bunch of college students trying to take their candy.  I think we made it to two homes and then got up to something else for the evening!

I thought making cute bags for the party would be fun, so I pulled out some Halloween fabric from my stash, made a template for a Mickey head and got busy.  A couple hours later, voila!  We are now ready to make a big haul in Magic Kingdom on October 3rd!

Have you ever gone trick or treating as an adult?  What about Mickey's Not so Scary Halloween party....have you been? Tips?

September 25, 2014

In the News (002)

Whew, it's been a while since we posted on the latest and greatest news...okay, we've only done that once, but it's a fun topic.  I saw a few articles through my media monitoring service that really interested me so I wanted to share.

Health and Wellness News
The New York Times reported that "big soda" manufacturers are looking for ways to cut calories or promote lower calorie options.  While I'm all about people making individual choices, I was shocked to learn that in some households, sugary drinks can account for half of a child's calories.  Half their calories?!  That's an overwhelming statistic. 

Running News
Competitor shared an article about rebounding from a tough marathon training workout.  Someone is clearly reading my thoughts lately!  They recommend analyzing factors that may have contributed to a bad workout.  I'm slowly getting better at this and acknowledging factors that may be out of my control such as the weather and stressors at work.

In runDisney news, there was rampant speculation that a Disneyland Paris race may be finally coming!  The blog, Dedicated to Disneyland Paris, shared a photo of the runDisney Mickey doing a photoshoot at the park.  Is our dream going to finally come true?!  Only time will tell!

And the Avengers Half Marathon weekend Event Guide was posted online.  This looks like an awesome weekend and I am looking forward to following along at home!

Gear News
And lastly, a fun one!  20% off your Sparkly Soul order using promo code ROCKSTAR through September 27.  These are my absolute favorite running (and sometimes errand-running) headbands.  They really don't move!  And who doesn't love a little extra sparkle in their running (or any other) outfit?!

Would you sign up for a runDisney event at Disneyland Paris?

September 24, 2014

When your shoe model changes and how long to do you keep your shoes?

When I bought my new Ravenna 5 Brooks running shoes several months ago, I was excited about the new color choices, and chose the gray with pink trim!     Brooks has never offered the Ravenna with pink since I have worn the shoe, so this was really a fun change. That's right, I freely admit that I like choosing my shoes for their colors!  Having worn Brooks Ravennas for nearly 3 years now, I have been through several model changes and always with no issue.  I assumed it would be the same, except that I did notice immediately that this model was quite a bit lighter than the Ravenna 4. While the 5 is similar to my last pair, not only they have reduced the weight but also the padding.  My first outing with the shoes was not what I expected and in fact, I had some shin pain afterwards.  It was probably not smart to wear them at a hard track workout for the first time.  Today I gave them a second spin and I am much more hopeful that this new model will work out well for me.  Running 6 miles on the treadmill went well and my next test will be a long run in the 10 mile range at an easy pace. I also plan to get my Locklaces in the shoes before that next wearing too!

Love the pink accents

Each pair of shoes we own has a story of the miles we pounded in them whether on pavement a treadmill or a trail.  I am one to swap out shoes frequently to save my legs, knees and especially shins and yes, I know they are part of my legs!  Despite being rather small, I seem to pound the ground hard, so frequent changes in my shoes is very helpful.  I like to give each pair of shoes a "rest" in between wearings too so they are fresh the next time I put them on.  Keeping track of mileage of your various shoes is easy if you put a little log next to the shoe rack or closet where you keep the shoes.  My shoes generally stay in running rotation until they have 300-350 miles on them and then they get put in the errand/walking the dog pile of shoes.  Last of all, if there is anything left to them, I donate them to charity.

2 are still for running and 2 for errands!

How long to you keep your running shoes?  Do you keep track of your mileage?

September 23, 2014

The beast that we call the marathon

It hit me last night while I was on the elliptical trainer for my requisite cross training workout…the marathon is a cruel beast.  It's like a bad boyfriend who keeps reeling you back in with promises of better times.  Each mile is a battle.  There are highs.  There are lows.  There are moments of hope and moments of despair.  The training alone is a war.  And then there's race day with weather unknowns, nerves to battle, and any walls that you may come crashing into in less-than-glamorous fashion.  It really is a metaphor for life, as I've heard it compared.  And I just can't get away.  The beast keeps calling. 

Last night I read the article in Runner's World about the Marine Corps Marathon ground pounders.  They're the guys who have run the Marine Corps Marathon each and every year in its existence; this year makes 39 years.  I learned that one is from my area and another went to my alma mater.  Having completed Marine Corps as my first marathon last October, I feel an indescribably strong tie to this race.  Immediately I started thinking about ways to get a bib.  And then rational thought kicked in.  "Christine, you want to PR at Richmond in November.  You can run Marine Corps next year." 

I imagine this must be what drug addicts feel like.  The marathon simply reels you in, hurts you for a while, and just when you're on the brink of despair, you get another hit and the pain lets up.  You feel hope, excitement, and dare I say, euphoria.  And that is where I find myself these days, on the less pain end of the spectrum with glimmers of joy.  I find moments of hope that my training cycle isn't ruined, despite all of my attempts to think otherwise.

And like I saw on one of the most recent videos on "I run for..." on the Marine Corps Marathon Facebook page, I'm reminded that running is "my affirmation of life." No matter how beastly it may be, I'll keep coming back to slay the marathon again and again to prove to myself that I can conquer 26.2 miles, physically, mentally, and emotionally.  The triumph of crossing the finish line alone is enough to bring me back.  And who knows, maybe someday I'll liken the marathon to a long lost friend instead of a beast.


September 22, 2014

The Best Ever Pumpkin Bread Recipe

I'm your typical young adult woman...I love Starbucks, JCrew and my iPhone.  Yes, I'm a bit of a walking cliche but I'm ok with that.  I know what I like and I know what likes me.  So it should come as no surprise to you that I love fall and all the pumpkin-flavored glory that comes with it.  I love to bake and have experimented with various pumpkin-flavored things...pumpkin and Parmesan pasta sauce, pumpkin soup, pumpkin cookies, and the list could go on forever.  Pumpkin quick bread is a fall staple in my house and I've tried at least half a dozen different recipes, but I never found one that I truly loved.  This fall, that was my quest, to perfect my pumpkin bread recipe.

I know enough about the chemistry of baking to be able to tweak recipes and after stumbling upon this recipe on Pinterest, I was really excited.  It had lots of flavorful spices and given that the author had also tried a bunch of recipes and settled upon this one, I was excited.  And in true Christine fashion I made some of my own tweaks along the way to make it a bit healthier and I think I have finally arrived at a recipe that I will actually keep in my recipe box for a long time.

The Best Ever Pumpkin Bread Recipe
1 ½ C all-purpose flour
1 ½  C whole wheat flour
* 1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
* 1 tsp. ground cloves
* 2 tsp. cinnamon
* 1 tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. salt
1 ¼ - ½ C granulated sugar
* 1 C butter, very soft or partially melted
* 3 large eggs
* 1 15 oz. can pure pumpkin
* 5 oz. Hershey's cinnamon chips (this is half the bag)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray two loaf pans (standard size, 8 ½ x 4 ½) with baking spray (or grease).
2. Mix flours, baking soda, baking powder, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in large bowl.
2. Add butter and sugar to mixer and beat well for about 2 minutes until creamy in texture.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Make sure to scrape the bowl after each addition.  Add the pumpkin and mix until well combined.
3. Add the dry ingredients in 3 batches, mixing well after each addition and then scraping the bowl.  Add the cinnamon chips and mix until just combined.  Do not over mix.
4. Add half of the bread batter to each loaf pan.  Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  If the bread starts to brown early, loosely cover the pans with foil.

Click here for a printable version of the recipe.

September 21, 2014

Weekly Roundup - September 21st

This was a fantastic week with some fall weather finally coming to both North Carolina and Virginia.  Workouts went well for both Christine and me.  Running outside was much easier with the changing weather and hopefully it is nice this morning while I pound the pavement for 18 miles with my running friends.  We will be running a good portion of the marathon I ran here in March so that will be fun!  But most of all, it is great to have company when you are out there for three plus hours!
A peek of fall on Christine's front steps 

We had some exciting things happen this week.  I found both my name and my sister's name on the Entrant List for the 2015 Boston Marathon.  Our Magical Express tickets arrived this week and we will be winging our way to Walt Disney World for the Tower of Terror 10 mile race in less than 2 weeks!  We are putting the finishing touches on our costumes as well.
Sunday, September 14th:
Pam: Rest day
Christine: Rest day (did tons of housework)

Monday, September 15th:
Pam: 40 min elliptical, weights
Christine: 35 min stationary bike, weights, abs

Tuesday, September 16th:
Pam: 5 mile tempo run at 9:05 pace
Christine: 5 mile tempo run

Wednesday, September 17th:
Pam: 15 minutes stationary bike, weights
Christine: 30 min tabata workout, abs

Thursday, September 18th:
Pam: WOL workout 4 miles total 6 X 800 @3:50-3:55
Christine: 4 miles comfortable pace at 8:58

Friday, September 19th:
Pam: golf nine holes
Christine: Rest day

Saturday, September 20th:
Pam: 15 minutes stationary bike, weights
Christine: 17 miles at 9:39 pace (with a negative split!)

September 19, 2014

5 things I'm looking forward to this weekend

This week has simply flown by!  Between a busy work at the office and finally maintaining my workout routine, I'm glad it's the weekend.  In recent weeks, I've found that by the time Friday rolls around, I'm feeling a bit drained and run down...and desperate for a few days of "me time."  This week I've been balancing my job, my workouts, and life a bit better.  I've knocked out a few small chores each evening in the hopes that my weekend can be spent doing some more fun things and less catching up around the house. 

1. Picking up some fall flowers for my front steps.  I love having potted flowers on my front stoop area.  There's something about flowers that makes a home feel more inviting and now that the mums are out, they've been calling my name!

2. Visiting a friend's new baby.  One of my boyfriend's dear friends just had a baby and we may swing by to say hello, smooch a sweet baby boy, and drop off some food.  I have to admit that really tiny babies scare me a bit.  They are just so little!

3. My long run.  It's been a long time since I've actually looked forward to a very long run, but after two strong weeknight runs this week, I'm hoping that my legs will bounce back.  I may head down to the beach for a change of scenery which would be nice.

4. Picking up a pumpkin and maybe some gourdes for the front steps.  I'm a big fan of fall and I simply love visiting the local farm to snag a pumpkin or two each year.  And it's that time!

5. Bake some fall treats.  After baking two batches (4 loaves) of pumpkin bread in the last few weeks, I think I've perfected my pumpkin spice bread recipe.  And no, I haven't eaten them all myself!  Now I'm ready to move on to some new fall treats.  I'm thinking about some baked apples.

What are you up to this weekend?

September 18, 2014

#tbt First Marathons

Just in time for fall marathon season, we thought it would be fun to post photos from our first marathons!  Christine ran the Marine Corps Marathon last October, and I ran the 20th anniversary Mickey Marathon as my first and as part of the Goofy Challenge.

We both have fall marathons this year, Richmond for Christine and Marine Corps for Pam.  If you are interested in reading more about the Mickey Marathon or the Marine Corps race, here are a couple recaps to whet your appetite for those races:

Mickey Marathon 

Marine Corps Marathon

Do you have a fall marathon on your race schedule?

September 16, 2014

Tower of Terror Health and Fitness Expo

In just a few weeks time, the Tower of Terror race participants at Walt Disney World will be picking up their race packets at the health and fitness expo.  We always enjoy attending these expos and to get the most out of your trip to the expo we wanted to share a few tips.

* Expo hours: October 3rd, 10 am to 7 pm and October 4th from 8:30 am to 3 pm at the Jostens Center at ESPN.

* Before heading to the expo, be sure to print out your waiver and have it completed for easy bib/packet pickup.  There are computers available to print your waiver if you forget! You may be asked for a photo identification so have that available too!

* In your final race instructions, you will receive an iGift bag.  This includes a link to several coupons that you may want to use at the expo.  We always print the coupon from Lasting Commemoratives and at Tower of Terror, you will receive this cute bookmark just by bringing your coupon to their booth.

*  New Balance Disney inspired shoes. Be sure to sign up ahead of time for your chance to buy these shoes, if they are on your shopping list. New Balance has a "virtual queue" and you will receive a time to visit the New Balance booth when you sign up. There are several different designs and styles for men, women and children. I bought the Minnie inspired shoes in a state of weakness back in January!

* Check out the expo map on pages 15 and 16 from your final race instruction booklet and make a list of the booths you want to visit.

* Plan how much you are willing to spend unless you have a bottomless wallet.  It is easy to get swept up in Expo mania and buy much more than you can afford or need.

*  If this is your first expo, we would suggest you start at the runDisney official merchandise booth and get your shopping done.  This booth is generally the most crowded booth at the expo and gets busy very early in the day.

*  The speaker series at the race expos are very good.  We always check the list out ahead of time and try to catch at least one of the speakers.  The talks include a race course recap, food and nutrition information from Diet Diva Tara, the runDisney nutritionist and running tips from Jeff Galloway, the run/walk guru and former Olympian.

* Bring a bottle of water and a protein bar or something similar in case you get hungry.  We always spend more time than planned and getting hungry or thirsty can spoil your fun!

* Wear comfortable shoes and have fun!

There are lots of other posts with great information about the Tower of Terror race weekend.  Just click here!

What is a squeaker?

Any of you that follow our blog, Facebook page or on Twitter know that last Friday was a big day for me.  It was the day I could register for the Boston Marathon and I was nervous, excited, ecstatic all at the same time.  Let me backtrack a little. Last year, when qualified runners were waiting for their chance to register, I learned something that surprised me.  Not everyone with a qualifying time gets the opportunity to run the race.  The only way you got a spot for the 2014 race was to qualify by more than 1 minute 38 seconds beyond the already difficult qualifying times.  These standards are put in place by the Boston Athletic Association, who manages the race.  There are spots given to charity runners and between those and the people who did not finish the 2013 because of the bombings, there wasn't enough space for the qualifiers. Nearly 3,000 qualifed runners were sorely disappointed when they found out they would not be running the 2014 Boston Marathon.

A rolling registration process started last Monday with the speediest runners, those who qualify in their age group by more than 20 minutes. Wednesday is the 10 minute or better group and Friday of the first week, those who qualified by 5 minutes or better.  Then come the squeakers.  I only just recently learned about this group.  What you ask, is a squeaker?  A squeaker is someone who has qualified by less than five minutes, but there is more.  This group of runners, like I did, find the best possible marathon, that is flat, fast and with hopefully optimal weather conditions to give themselves the chance to run that miracle race. Some have qualified more than once, but each time they think it could be their last. I feel exactly the same way.

Today, when I was looking at Facebook page for the Boston Marathon,  I read many posts of those waiting to find out their fate.  My fingers and toes are crossed for each and every runner who made the qualifying standard in their age group so that they can experience this race. I look forward to toeing the line next April 20th in Hopkinton with these runners. This could be my only chance to run this race and I am very grateful for the opportunity.

September 15, 2014

Garmin Forerunner 15 Review

Earlier this summer, I was contacted by Garmin to see if I would be interested in testing out their latest watch, the Forerunner 15.  I've always been intrigued by the 10 and with the 15 being the latest in this style watch, I happily agreed to give it a go!

My watch arrived in early July so I've had a bit of time to really test it.  The watch also includes a heart rate monitor which I was eager to try.  I'm a heart rate monitor newbie!

Overview: The Forerunner 15 is billed as more of an everyday watch that includes an activity tracker.  As a GPS running watch, it tracks the usual stats like time, distance, pace, calories, and when using the monitor, heart rate.  You can purchase with or without a heart rate monitor and it is also compatible with the food pod if you would like to use it indoors.
My thoughts: Definitely a very easy to use watch and I liked that it also tracks your steps.  If you prefer a sportier watch, this would be perfect to have everything in one device!  My one complaint was that even though it doesn't have as many features as other GPS watches, it's a pretty large device.  It's a higher profile than the Garmin 220 which I also own and isn't much smaller in face-size.  

Battery Life: Billed as having a battery life of 5 weeks for use as a watch and 8 hours when used with running GPS features activated.
My thoughts: I used the watch in GPS mode for about 7 hours before it needed to be charged, so the time estimates are pretty accurate!  I didn't notice any substantial difference in battery life and was pleased that I didn't need to charge it after each GPS use.

Data: The Forerunner 15 tracks pace, distance, time, calories, and heart rate.  It displays two data points while in GPS mode and you can select the two you prefer from a menu of options.  When you have completed each mile, the watch beeps and lights up with the mile data.  Like all Garmin watches, you can save data in Garmin Connect.  When you complete a run (or walk), it provides a summary screen with time, distance, pace, and calories burned.
My thoughts: Having used a watch that displays three data points for a long time, it was a big adjustment to two data points.  I'm definitely accustomed to seeing time, distance, and pace together.  As someone who is in a pace-based training cycle now, I didn't love being limited to two data points.  However, if you're not concerned with this, I think the 15 would be a fabulous (and highly affordable) GPS watch!
Post-run summary display
Heart Rate Monitor: The heart rate monitor has an elastic strap that connects to the watch when GPS is enabled.
My thoughts: As a heart rate monitor newbie, it was incredibly easy to use!  It connected to the watch easily and once I was wearing it for a few minutes, I stopped noticing it.  Without having done a lot of heart rate training, I wasn't able to make a lot from the data, but if this is your preferred training mode, it would be a great tool.

Comparing it to other Garmin models - Garmin Forerunner 210, Garmin Forerunner 220
Size: Similar profile to Forerunner 210; higher profile than Forerunner 220; Slightly smaller face size than both Forerunner 210 and Forerunner 220
Stats: Forerunner 210 and 220 track 3 data points while the Forerunner 15 tracks 2; No other Garmin watch also tracks your daily steps
Battery life: Comparable in GPS mode to the Forerunner 220; Substantially better than my tired Forerunner 205 when in GPS mode!
Band: Smaller in width and length than Forerunner 220 band; More comfortable than both Forerunner 210 and 220 bands since it's similar to a traditional watch band
Side-by-side comparison of Forerunner 15 and Forerunner 220
The Bottom Line: If you're interested in an "all in one" device that's a reasonable price point, the Forerunner 15 would be a fantastic option!  If you are a data geek like me or if you're accustomed to having more data shown on a watch, you might be challenged with the GPS display or frustrated by switching screens during a run.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a Garmin Forerunner 15 to test and provide a review.  All opinions are my own.

If you have the Garmin Forerunner 15, I would love to hear your thoughts!

September 14, 2014

Weekly Roundup: Sept 14th

Another week passed and now that we are well into September, it is time for the weather to cool down.  We are both anxious for long runs without heat and humidity. Yesterday's run was unbelievably humid and I had to wring out my socks after my 16 miles pounding the pavement. Gross right? In the meantime, lots of fall races are fast approaching for both of us.  Our fingers, toes and every other body part are crossed with hope that we will not be racing in 80 degree weather.  At the moment, we are finalizing our costumes for Tower of Terror, re purposing some items and adding some new things.  It is hard to believe that we will be back in Florida at Walt Disney World in only 19 days.  Friday was the big day for yours truly to register for the Boston Marathon and now I await my acceptance from them. Every entry is checked for proof of time through a race website so this definitely requires alot of man power.  My email inbox is being checked frequently right now!

With marathons for both of us on the horizon, our mileage is increasing weekly.  Yesterday's run was a good one, but unfortunately I learned a hard lesson by not hydrating enough immediately afterwards.  I had an accident with my water bottles and when I returned to my car, they had leaked and nothing was left for my post run ride home.   I also had to stop at the store for ice for my post run ice bath.  Next time I will go in the gas station or Starbucks near our parking spot and buy something.  Better yet, I will make sure to seal my bottles so my water is available immediately!
How was your week?  Did you try anything new or have any calamities like me?

Sunday, Sept 7th
Pam: 14 mile run 10:10 pace
Christine: 15 mi at 9:44 pace

Monday, Sept 8th
Pam: 1 mile walk, stretching
Christine: Rest day

Tuesday, Sept 9th
Pam: ran 6.2 miles, varying speeds
Christine: speed work - 6x800 at 3:30 goal pace with 90 sec RI, 1 mile w/u, 0.5 mi c/d

Wednesday, Sept 10th
Pam: walked 30 minutes, weights, stretching
Christine: 30 min bike, 5 min ab workout, stretching

Thursday, Sept 11th
Pam: 9 holes golf
Christine: 3 miles at 8:25 pace

Friday, Sept 12th
Pam: 15 minutes stationary bike, weights, stretching
Christine: Rest day

Saturday, Sept 13th
Pam: 16 miles at 10:45 pace
Christine: 11.5 miles at 9:52 pace

September 12, 2014

Blogs to love

For the Friday link up this week, the lovely ladies of DC, Mar at Marontherun, Cynthia at Yousignedupforwhat and Courtney at EatPrayRunDC  have suggested the topic of favorite blogs.   As bloggers, we both enjoy reading blogs and some of our very favorites are those written by internet people who have become our friends through racing.  We did not include the hosts blogs, since the links are provided above and you can now check out not just five, but eight blogs that we enjoy reading!

1.  Runners Guide to Walt Disney World  Megan and Krista, authors and running friends write a great blog that covers all aspects of running at Walt Disney World.  While the book is perfect to have at home for easy access when planning your race trip to WDW, the blog covers topics from training, hotels and beyond.  This is a must read for runners going to the most magical place on earth!

Post Virginia Beach Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon with Megan

2.  Live, Run, Grow  We met Danielle at Disneyland last year when we were there for the inaugural Dumbo Double Dare challenge.  Having read each other's blogs for a long time, it was great to meet in person.  She is exactly as you would expect, with wit and wisdom in every post.  She too loves running, the beach and Cape Cod!

Marine Corps Marathon Pre race with Danielle (middle) and Lisa

3.  Lisa Runs for Cupcakes Another girl we met in California during the Dumbo Challenge weekend was Lisa.  She and Christine had hit it off through the internet and again, was just as we expected in person.  She totally tells it like it is on her blog, whether training is good or bad, and about life in general.  Her husband is an officer in the military and we appreciate all the sacrifices her family makes.  Oh and her little daughter Cora ran her first race last year and the photos were the cutest race photos we have ever seen!

4. My No-Guilt Life  Just typing the name of this blog made me giggle.  Patty is one of the funniest bloggers and if you are having a bad day, just jump on the internet and read her blog.  She is always upbeat, despite being a mother of four active children who keep her on her toes.  She runs Disney races and has worn some amazing costumes too.  Sorry, we had one photo with Patty and I can't locate it.  We met last year, where else but at Disneyland during the Dumbo Challenge weekend.

5.  Run, Stretch, Go  Cyanne's blog covers lots of subjects including running, recipes, healthy living and real life.  What do I mean by real life?  She works an incredibly demanding job, yet manages to keep a great life balance and attitude.  I find her blog very refreshing by not sugar coating things.  We met Cyanne during race retreat at WDW in January and she and Christine subsequently ran the Zooma Napa Valley race together in June and enjoyed a pretty sweet vacation in wine country afterwards!

We love finding new blogs to add to our reader so please tell us some of your favorites!

September 11, 2014

Rock 'n' Roll VA Beach VIP Experience

Disclaimer: As Rock 'n' Bloggers, we were provided with two wristbands to participate in the VIP events.  All opinions in this post are our own.

In the last few months, you've probably noticed that Rock 'n' Roll has added several new events and extras to their race weekends.  They started with Running Festivals in certain locations (including Virginia Beach) and then added on a VIP experience and even childcare options!  When we were offered an opportunity to check out the VIP experience, of course we immediately jumped on board.  This was an incredibly gracious offer from Rock 'n' Roll and we were really excited about it. 

The VIP experience from the 2014 Virginia Beach race weekend had two options.

VIP Race Day: $70
* Reserved VIP parking close to the start line
* Private indoor restrooms
* Private gear check
* VIP start line area inside the VA Beach Convention Center (6-7 AM)
* Pre-race continental breakfast
*Post-race catered brunch buffet inside RockFish Boardwalk Bar and Grill (7AM-noon)
*Post-race bar with Michelob Ultra and mimosas
* VIP shuttles from the start to the finish for spectators who purchase VIP race day; and return shuttles for all VIPs back to the start line
Coffee station at pre-race breakfast

Pre-race breakfast
Another view of the breakfast spread
We loved meeting Abby…in the AC!
Gear Check was really simple
VIP Race Day and Post-Race Package: $150
* All benefits from the Race Day package
* Front and backstage viewing area for the post-race concert on the beach
* Dinner buffet with Michelob Ultra and Wine on the beach before the post-race concert
Awesome views from the deck at the post-race brunch
onto the beach

Great assortment of food and beverages!

Our thoughts:
* The VIP parking was a fantastic benefit and worth the cost of the package.  No need to stress about where to park and there were people directing you where to go.  Our car was next to the race start!
* The pre-race breakfast had a fabulous variety of foods, including a spread of beautiful fresh fruit. 
* The air-conditioned pre-race breakfast and stretching area was fantastic since race morning was brutally humid. 
* The pre-race area in the convention center was well-marked and very easily accessible from the starting line area.  In other words, you didn't have to walk terribly far to get in and out.
* Real bathrooms before a race?  Pretty much priceless in my book!
* Picking up the bag after the race outside of the post-race restaurant was very convenient and simple.
* Post-race breakfast buffet was divine!  I think we ate our weight in eggs, bacon, and potatoes. 
* We were both too hot to enjoy post-race libations but the mimosas looked pretty delicious!
* In both the pre- and post-race areas, there was a nice Rock 'n' Roll backdrop for photos.  For some unknown reason, we did not take advantage of this!

Read Christine's Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon race recap here.
Read Pam's Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon Relay race recap here.

September 10, 2014

Ten Commandments of Marathon Training

After feeling like the wheels were coming off my marathon training completely last week, I spent a lot of time reflecting.  I thought about why I signed up for Richmond; gave myself an honest assessment of my training to date; and thought about the commitment to run a marathon.  And not surprisingly, I have some thoughts to share.  But before I tell you about any attempts I'm making to remotivate myself and rededicate myself to my training, I wanted to share some conclusions I drew about marathon training.  And in true Christine fashion, I made a list...of commandments, if you will!

1. Thou shalt develop a training plan based on a realistic time (or finish) goal and then spend many hours daydreaming about a highly unrealistic time goal.

2. Thou shalt prepare thyself for weekend afternoons spent on the couch, binge-watching TV series on Netflix with ice packs and ibuprofen after long runs.

3. Thou shalt treat thy body like a temple, with ice baths, epsom salts, and massages.

4. Thou shalt not let thyself become a human garbage disposal, no matter how intense the runger may become.

5. Thou shalt spend extra time sleeping to help your body heal from the taxing training.

6. Thou shalt not expect to PR at 5ks during your marathon training...the speed will come another time.

7. Thou shalt spend many hours stretching, or with thy foam roller to tend to any aches and pains early.

8. Thou shalt become accustomed with early bed times and alcohol-free Saturday nights during marathon training season.

9. Thou shalt tell your friends "sorry, gotta run" more times than you would care to miss out on social events.

10. Thou shalt reap the benefits of 4-5 months of tedious training when you cross the finish line with arms raised in triumph of conquering 26.2 miles.

What would you add to this list?

September 9, 2014

Manitoba Harvest Hemp PRO70 review

Disclosure: As part of my affiliation with Fit Approach, I was provided with samples of protein powder to review on our blog.  As always, the opinions stated here are my own.

When returning home from my log runs, the first thing I do is make myself a protein shake.  Usually it is combined with milk and strawberries, but a little or alot of ice cream has made it's way into the blender too.  When offered the opportunity to try a new brand of protein powder, Manitoba Harvest Hemp POR70 , I immediately said yes.  

The samples arrived a few weeks later and the first one I tried was the vanilla.  Only four ingredients make up these protein powders and this one has hemp protein concentrate, organic coconut sugar, vanilla flavor and natural plant extract. The chocolate has just one different ingredient, and is the addition of organic fair trade cocoa powder in place of the vanilla powder.  So far so good. 

These powders dissolve easily so need to pull out your blender.  I shook up some milk and the powder and it was ready to drink.  After trying both flavors, I am definitely partial to the chocolate.  The vanilla had an earthy taste and it would probably be something I would like if I added some fruit.  The protein content is great with 15 grams in the vanilla and 14 grams in the chocolate.  If you are in a pinch and need fuel fast, this can be ready in approximately 12 seconds!  Yes, I timed making my second shake!

Add milk, Hemp Pro70 and shake!

If you are looking for a new refueling drink after your hard workouts, give this a try.  And best of all, here is coupon code for you to order the vanilla or chocolate PRO70 protein powder from Manitoba Harvest: sweatpinkpro70

Do you drink protein shakes?  


September 8, 2014

Confession time.....I lied

So it's time for a little confession here.  Last month, after a lot of consideration, a decision was made by yours truly to defer my Marine Corps Marathon registration this year. I even wrote about that decision here and stated all the reasons why I would not be running.  As I previously mentioned, this race has been on my bucket list and one I really want to run since it was both my sister Chris' first marathon (she ran it in 3:19, sickening right!) and Christine's last year and they both raved about this race.  So with absolute delight, after receiving my acceptance email, I entered this race on my calendar and starting making plans.

 While I have participated in a lot of races recently, Dublin Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon and the relay for the Rock 'n Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon, they have not been raced for time but for the pleasure of enjoying fantastic race courses in great locations. This summer has been a difficult one for training here in NC.  I have done quite a few long runs in the horrible heat and humidity and felt sluggish most of the time.  But you know what? The realization came to me, that each year the summer weather is a little easier to manage and my long runs are not quite as bad.  And jumping in a pool fully dressed in running clothes post run is really fun. And that is how I kept myself pounding the pavement to complete my full mileage on some super steamy days!

Running clothes do not melt in the pool!

Last week I met coach Sami for lunch to celebrate her birthday and I mentioned that I was having second thoughts about Marine Corps and asked her if I was crazy.  She prefaced her answer with a question, "Do you plan to re-qualify for Boston"?  I emphatically replied no, that due to a less rigorous training schedule, I would be running "for fun" and the experience of such a special race. She immediately looked at my training schedule and made a few adjustments. My mileage will not get as high as it has for my prior marathons, but a long run of 20 miles should be enough.  So, just like that, I am back in the race.  Well, to be accurate, I never deferred because the date to defer was September 1st.  Thankfully, I will have the opportunity to race this year and I look forward to October 26th and another marathon race day!

Have you run the Marine Corps Marathon?  Do you have any advice or suggestions?

September 7, 2014

Weekly Roundup: Sept 7th

We missed last weeks recap since we were a little busy having a girls weekend and running Rock 'n Roll Virginia Beach!  While the weather could have been better race morning (it was the hottest and most humid in the 14 year history of the race!) we had fun and the beach time after the race was glorious!  This summer seems to have dragged on forever, and the cooler temperatures and lack of humidity this fall will be a welcome change.  I am tired of dragging myself outdoors for runs when it is stifling hot.  Anyone else feel the same way?

The last few weeks have given both Christine and me some grief during our training.  And this article from the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday resonated with me as Thursday I could not finish the mileage on my training plan.  Lack of time and apathy kept me from running my last 3 miles.  Keeping busy with other things have kept me distracted from my less than stellar training.  Everyone has peaks and valleys and I am optimistic that we both will get our mojo for running back very soon.
In other news,  it is less than 4 weeks until Tower of Terror race weekend at Walt Disney World and this will be our first time to experience this race.  We expect another hot one, but can't wait to see running friends and race through Hollywood Studios to capture that gorgeous race medal. We haven't quite figured out our race outfits, but I have a few ideas.

Now only 26 days!

In the meantime, it is time for 14 miles with my running friend Christie. How was your week?  Do you every have trouble with motivation?  Here's the recap of our last couple weeks:

Sunday, Aug 24th
Pam: 10 mile long run at 9:46 average pace
Christine: 4 mile walk on the beach, stretching

Monday, Aug 25th
Pam:  30 minutes elliptical, stretching
Christine: 30 min Jillian Michaels 30 day shred, 5 min ab workout, lots of stretching

Tuesday, Aug 26th
Pam: 4.5 miles running, average pace 9:10
Christine: Rest day

Wednesday, Aug 27th
Pam: 35 minutes elliptical, stretching
Christine: 30 min circuit workout, 5 min ab workout

Thursday, Aug 28th
Pam: WOL workout at track. 4 miles with paces from easy to hard
Christine: 4.5 mi run at 8:55 pace

Friday, Aug 29th
Pam: Rest day
Christine: Rest day

Saturday, Aug 30th
Pam: 30 min easy run
Christine: 30 min easy run

Sunday, Aug 31st
Pam: Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon Relay (7.9 mi)
Christine: Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon

Monday, Sept 1st
Pam: Rest day
Christine: Rest day

Tuesday, Sept 2nd
Pam: ran 6 miles
Christine: 30 min bike ride, push-ups, abs

Wednesday, Sept 3rd
Pam: 35 minutes stationary bike, stretching
Christine: 30 min circuit training, 5 min ab workout

Thursday, Sept 4th
Pam: golf 9 holes
Christine: 5 miles, 4 at tempo pace

Friday, Sept 5th
Pam: WOL workout 7 X 400 at 7:20 pace total 4 miles, 18 holes golf
Christine: Rest day

Saturday, Sept 6th
Pam: 30 minutes stationary bike, stretching
Christine: Rest day

September 5, 2014

Breakdown or breakthrough?

I got off the treadmill with tears in my eyes and doubt in my heart last night.  I was confused, frustrated, and disappointed with myself.  7 weeks into my Richmond Marathon training cycle and 70 days from race day and I found myself feeling totally unmotivated and just not "in it."  Since day 1 of this training cycle, I feel like I've been battling with myself to "get up" for it.  Now don't get me wrong, it's not like I didn't want to do Richmond when I signed up, but I've had a much harder time finding my rhythm this training cycle.

To be completely honest, I'm not really enjoying myself.  I haven't been able to determine if this is a byproduct of icky summer running, being tired from pace-based training, a major stressor at work, or simply just not being into it.  The other night I started thinking about my options.  With Richmond 11 weeks away, I'm approaching the really intense training in the coming weeks - the really long weekend runs and much longer weeknight runs.  I promised I wouldn't make a heat-of-the-moment decision and am giving myself a few weeks to consider my options.

Here's the kicker.  It's really hard for me to admit all this to myself, let alone to anyone else.  I've always fought through a challenging training cycle with support from my running buddies and a little mental fortitude.  I can't remember ever feeling this down before.  I reread all of my Marine Corps posts last night to try to see if I went through something similar and I think I did in the late July time frame.  Maybe this is the same and it will pass in a few weeks.  Maybe it's not.  Only time will tell.

What I do know is that I will give myself time to reflect, ponder, and pontificate on this marathon.  I'm not sure it's meant to be, but I also know I'm not ready to quit just yet.   And until I figure out what is best for me, you can find me googling articles on how to beat burnout and get back on track with training.

Any words of wisdom for marathon training doldrums?

September 4, 2014

Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon Recap

Sunday was just like I expected, a hot and steamy day.  Despite that, I still had a goal for the race - to run another sub-2:00 half marathon.  I hadn't done it since my big PR at Shamrock and I was itching to run a 1-something half marathon.  It wasn't really a logical idea and it didn't make sense given the weather…or the fact that my legs were tired from two hard weeks of marathon training.
Waiting for our turn to start
After dropping Megan off at the relay exchange, the waiting game began.  Mom and I milled around the starting line area and were able to catch Kathryn in the nick of time before the race started.  I think I jumped in my corral less than 5 minutes from the start which was very atypical for me…normally I'm there early and getting prepared.  Oh well!
Moments before the start!

Wishing Kathryn well in her PR attempt…she did it!!
We caught the sun rise at the start - beautiful! 
I settled into a comfortable pace for the first few miles and noted the stifling humidity early.  I found myself breaking a sweat before mile 1, but I reminded myself that I knew this would happen.  As I was trudging down Atlantic toward the bridge, a familiar face pulled up next to me and it was my friend Lacey.  We chatted for a minute and then she was on her way.  I loved getting a chance to see her on the course - there is no better mental boost than seeing a buddy!

Fast forward to mile 7 and I was eagerly awaiting the relay exchange and seeing Megan.  As I neared the exchange area on the other side of the cones, I saw her smiling and waving.  It was another great boost and was sadly short-lived.  I jammed through the exchange and then hit a major wall about a half mile later.  I struggled BIG TIME until about mile 11 when I was able to pull myself together.  An icy pop from a spectator, cool sponge, and a pink Hawaiian lei were just what I needed to get my head on straight.
Jamming down the Rudee Inlet Bridge
Soon enough, I was cruising down the Rudee Inlet bridge approaching the 12 mile marker when I knew I would make it home.  As I was nearing the finish line stretch, two girls were quickly approaching me and about to overtake me in the stretch.  I wasn't having any of that so with every last bit of gas left in the tank, I kept pace with them to cross in 2:04.40.  
Making the turn onto the Boardwalk

A few blocks from the finish!
I was clearly a bit off my goal but I was proud of completing this race for a few reasons:
- When the wheels came off, I got them back on, which is a first for me!
- I had fun!  I rarely take treats from spectators but I really enjoyed the last few miles of the race.
- I was able to zone out on pace for a few miles in the middle stretch (around 5-7).
- I got to see friends along the course and was proud to celebrate a friend's PR at the finish line!

Other things I like about this race:
- Awesome diversity of post-race treats at the finish line including bananas, Power Bars, chips, popsicles, chocolate milk, Gatorade, etc.
- Great bands along the course to keep you pumped up.
- Awesome crowd support, plus freebies!
- Scenic course
- Water stops were well-organized and stocked with water and yellow Gatorade.  Plus they had a gel stop with salted watermelon Gu - yum!

Disclaimer: As a Rock 'n' Blogger, I was provided with a free race entry, but all opinions provided in this post are my own.
Read more about Mom's relay experience here.

I'm tempted to take advantage of the throw back pricing for next year's race.  It's $45 for the half marathon through September 5th.  Amazing right?!