January 30, 2015

Five Favorite Indoor Workouts

It's time for the Friday five linkup with Mar, Courtney and Cynthia.  While generally I don't do alot of indoor workouts, there are a few fun things I like to do inside.

Yoga: It is no secret that yoga is a nice way to relax after a hectic day and it is also great for strength training.  This year I have made a goal to practice yoga at least once a week and so far so good.  If I can't get to a class this is my instructor and she is tough!

Bosu Ball:  I actually bought a Bosu ball several years ago even though they are available at the gym.  This ball works on your core stability, a big weakness for me.  It is located in a corner of our bedroom and because I see it everyday, there is a good chance I will use it everyday.  There are many different exercises to do with a Bosu, especially if you grab some free weights when using the ball. I found some exercises online here and here

Plank:  I love doing planks outside when the weather is nice.  However, they work anytime and practically anywhere.  Start with 15 seconds and work your way up to several reps of 1-2 minutes each time. And be careful with your pets...they will want to join in the fun!

Sit ups: I guess I am not really following the topic when I say sit ups are one of my favorite workouts. Race day will be so much better if my core is strong so sit ups are a necessary evil.  At least three times a week I can be found on my mat getting in a hundred sit ups!

Wall sits: My sister, the super speedy runner told me that wall sits were one of the things she did to make her legs stronger.  If they worked for her, they should work for me right?  I try to remember to do these several times per week and stay in the position for at least a minute each time.

What is your favorite indoor activity?  Do your pets help you exercise too? Be sure to check out the host links for more indoor activity ideas!

January 29, 2015

Lynx Sportswear Review

Dislaimer:  We received product from Lynx Sportswear, but no compensation was received for this post.  As always, the opinions stated here are our own.

A few weeks ago, we were contacted by Lynx Sportswear asking us to try out a few of their products. While we both recalled seeing this company's sports bras rated in Runner's World magazine, we had never seen them for sale in our local running stores. We checked out their website and learned some really fun facts about the company:
- It was started after the founder (a Boston qualifier!) couldn't find a sports bra that provided support and was comfortable. She ended up buying materials and a sewing machine and started making her own! And as they say, the rest is history...
- Sports bras and support tanks are manufactured in the USA!
- Lynx made their debut at the 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon expo! Lynx and WRD both got their start in WDW in 2011...crazy huh?!

After a flurry of emails with Danielle, part of the Lynx sales force, we selected a couple items to try. We both picked the Whoop and Holler skort in green (perhaps a skirt for Tink Half?!) and each selected a sports bra. I picked the cross back bra so I'll be talking about that one in this post.

Thoughts on the Whoop and Holler Skirt

I felt sassy in my new skirt!
- When I first pulled it out of the mailing envelope, I was really excited! The ruffles are so fun and I like the striped waist band and shorts.
- The zipper pocket on the back of the skirt was perfect for carrying a key and would easily fit fuel and a small phone.
- The skirt was comfortable and fit well and it stood up to the test of a 4 mile run through my neighborhood!
Back of the skirt with zipper pocket and stripped undershorts detail
- The shorts stayed in place during my entire run and let's be honest here, I don't have stick-thin legs so that says something!
- Laundered well - I washed it and then hung it to dry.

Check out all those ruffles! 
Thoughts on the Cross Back Sports Bra

- When I first received this, I have to be honest that I was worried. The Lynx sports bras have a lot more coverage than the ones I'm used to but I withheld complete judgment until I could road test it. And that's when the magic happened! Without a lot of heavy fabrics and impossible to take on/off styles, these sports bras provide amazing support and comfort.
- They're not sized in traditional S/M/L or bra sizes. They ask that you provide two measurements for the best fit and my sizing was spot on!
- I love the cross back style - very fun and different than anything I have.
- Despite the fabric being lightweight, these provide amazing support. I forgot I was wearing it and it felt great throughout my run.
- I like that there's a clasp on the back to adjust the band for the best fit.
- With the coverage, this would be a sports bra that I would consider wearing in the heinous hot summer months if I ever decided to bare my belly on a run! Guess I better get back to some core work! *wink wink*

Have you ever tried Lynx? And have you ever actually measured yourself for a sports bra fit? Confession - I hadn't before this but I'm glad I did!

January 28, 2015

Boston Marathon Training: rest and recovery

This is my hardest training cycle by a long shot. My coach has mixed up the workouts to include some hills, and the pace work is faster than I have done in the past.  Obviously this is taxing on my body and keeping healthy is critical with just 12 weeks until race day.  The key things I am doing at this point would be great for anyone during marathon training.

* Foam Rolling:  Use a grid foam roller or any foam roller daily:  There are some great tips on how to foam roll here and here.  and a tip from me would be to keep your roller in plain sight in your home or apartment so you can't ignore it!

I always have company for stretching and rolling!

*  Daily stretching:  Regular post run stretching is highly recommended by most running coaches and mine is no exception.  Lots of Yoga poses give great stretches to your body such as pigeon and child's pose. Yoga is typically considered exercise but the gentle Yoga class I attend is giving me great benefits as a stretching/range of motion activity. I plan to attend this class once a week, and if I have to miss my goal is to practice Yoga on my own at home with help from my Jillian Michael's Yoga DVD! IF you haven't tried her DVD's, check them out.  Full confession here though, you may feel as though she is screaming at you through your TV screen!

*  Sleep:  Most of us don't give alot of thought to sleep, but running on not only tired legs but a tired body can lead to injury, not to mention an unpleasant and unsatisfying run.  Schedule your bedtime and be sure to get off your computer or electronic devices such as I pads and I phones a full hour before bed.   Statistics show that usage of those devices can make sleep more difficult.

A comfy bed is always inviting!
*  Food and nutrition: Gone are all the Christmas goodies and the healthy food has invaded my house!  Eating well during a hard training cycle is critical to recovery and a conscious effort is being made to avoid junk food.  I can't totally give up ice cream, but eliminating other treats has been easier.  And that last box of peppermint bark from Williams Sonoma has been hidden high in the pantry not to reappear until after April 20th!  Perhaps my biggest problem is fueling my body post hard training days.  My answer to this is a shake with protein powder.  I always have frozen strawberries on hand to add to the shake for flavor.  Every once in a while, after a 15 plus mile run, I treat myself to a shake make with Blue Bell vanilla ice cream and protein powder, It is pure heaven in a tumbler!

Any recommendations on any of these topics?  Do you have trouble sleeping after using the computer?

January 27, 2015

2015 Race Plans

I know January is already nearly over and it's about time that I worked on my 2015 race schedule. But to be honest, I'm enjoying my laid back approach to running (and racing) this year. While I'll be back for some repeat races, I'm really excited about some new races this year. So what bibs will I be donning on my tech shirts? Let's see...

Glass Slipper Challenge at Walt Disney World, Feb 2015 - Registered!
I've already mentioned why I'm looking forward to this race weekend. I have 4 more weeks of training and a few long runs ahead of me. I don't have any PR dreams for these races although I may try to run "fast" in the 10k.

Rock 'n' Roll DC Half Marathon in Washington DC, March 2015 - Registered!
I love running in DC for the sights and the patriotic camaraderie. I'm debating adding the 5k on Saturday so I can get the remix challenge medal, but I'm not 100% certain on that yet. I'm using this race as one of my 3 Tour Pass races.

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in Washington, DC, April 2015 - Debating!
I have a guaranteed race entry after volunteering at last year's race but I'm really on the fence. I've heard really mixed reviews on this race and more negative ones than positive ones.

BAA 5k in Boston, April 2015 - Planning to register!
While I won't be toeing the starting line in Hopkinton on the 20th, I'm hoping to get to experience a slice of the Boston Marathon racing experience during marathon weekend.

Pixie Dust Challenge in Anaheim, CA, May 2015 - Registered!
Mom and I are celebrating Mother's Day in the most perfect way - a new race challenge in Disneyland! I'm debating making one of these races a PR attempt. I figure I'll have enough time to get some endurance and some speed work under my belt.

Now...here's when the fun begins. After May, I have nothing, zippy, zilch, nada, on my race calendar! And as a Rock 'n' Blogger with the Rock 'n' Roll race series, I have two additional races to round out my Tour Pass. I'm considering:
- Chicago in July (so I can see my buddy Cyanne)
- Virginia Beach in September, but I've done this before and it's hot as hades!
- Vegas in November because....Vegas!
- San Antonio in December as a good excuse to go visit some dear friends who moved to the lone star state

And as for other races that are on my short list:
- Army 10 miler in October
- Navy-Air Force Half Marathon in September

What would you recommend? I have a two hour delay this morning so I look forward to your good ideas...and perhaps a few races that I can register for while I'm leisurely sipping my coffee and enjoying the flurries!

January 26, 2015

RaceDots or safety pins, you choose

Disclaimer: I was provided a set of RaceDots to review.  As always, the opinions stated here are my own.

Have you ever heard of RaceDots?  During the Marine Corps Marathon expo, I spotted their booth selling these funny little magnets that you could use in place of safety pins to keep your bib attached to your race outfit.  After passing by the booth quickly, and with my husband in toe, there was no chance to go back and really see what this product had to offer.

Like many of you, I have a safety pin collection from all my races.  There are some in my car, my purses, and of course this box inside my desk.  But being totally honest, I hate pinning bibs on my tech fabric shirts.  The obvious snag could easily happen and unfortunately, my pinning skills are lacking.  There are always at least several tries to get my bib on straight!  If I had to put my bib on my shirt on race morning, it would be a disaster, because having it straight is critical to my being.  Yep, I am that kinda crazy!

This runners safety pin collection!
If you are after an alternative to safety pins, look no further.  Race Dots are a magnetic dot, that you use to attach your bib to your shirt , skirt, shorts or running costume.  These clever little magnets are small, but with a very powerful magnet that will easily hold your bib in place.  One of the fun features is the color options they offer to match your bib or outfit.  It is always nice to look good for race photos.  

If you are wondering how they work and if they are easy to use the answer is a resounding yes.  Each package comes with 5 dots and and detailed instructions on how to easily attach your bib with them.  I pulled an old bib and shirt from my closet to try them out.  

The only warning for you is these magnets are strong.  Be sure to follow the instructions on the back of the package.  These will definitely hold my bibs in place for future races and would be a great accessory for any runner.  Don't forget Valentines' Day next month!

January 25, 2015

Weekly Roundup January 25th

Another week has flown by and while Mom is away on vacation I am enjoying a low key weekend. After having a string of busy weekends and house guests, I am happy to be enjoying some down time and catching up on chores, sleep, and running! It's hard to believe that we're only 4 weeks away from the Princess Half Marathon so my training is ramping up in a big way. I'm pretty proud of how I'm doing in terms of mileage. Assuming my long run goes according to plan today, my 3rd week of the training cycle will be 22 miles. Not bad considering I was averaging 0-4 a few weeks back!

A glimpse into my week (clockwise from top left): Rooting on the Pats with
Sam Adams, I had a buddy for my Tuesday run this week, a kitchen redecorating
project in the works, and a post-workout treat on Saturday morning 

Sunday, January 18th
Pam: Rest day
Christine: 9 mile run at 9:20 average pace

Monday, January 19th
Pam: 1 hour cardio/core class, 30 minutes stationary bike, hills
Christine: Long walk at the beach

Tuesday, January 20th
Pam: group run practice  3/4 mile warm up total mileage 4.5 miles, 2 minutes at 1:59 pace times 7
Christine: 3.5 miles at 8:58 pace, stretching

Wednesday, January 21st
Pam: 45 minutes stationary bike hills, sit ups, stretching
Christine: Rest day

Thursday, January 22nd
Pam: 4 miles easy
Christine: 3.8 miles at 8:38 pace

Friday, January 23rd
Pam: 12 miles on treadmill at 10:15 pace, stretching
Christine: Rest day

Saturday, January 24th
Pam: 3 mile walk
Christine: 4 mile run on treadmill at 9:20 pace, stretching

How was your weekend? Tell us something fun that you did!

January 23, 2015

5 Things about me

The Friday link up this week asks for 5 Things about you.  Thanks to Mar, Cynthia and Courtney for their linkup and please be sure to visit their blogs and the others in the group.  It's always fun to see what other bloggers/athletes have for a back story!

1.  I attended Boston Conservatory for my first year of college!  Located in Boston near Fenway park and Kenmore square, my friends and I enjoyed living in the city. This school wasn't the right fit for me, but as a flute major I enjoyed the camaraderie with the other musicians.  The next year I transferred to a different college.

2.  Running was something I really hated and never would have done if Christine had not made a simple request back in September of 2010!  That day, when I ran 3 miles on a treadmill and thought I would die, started this crazy running obsession!  And here is a photo from that race!

3.  I love Lilly Pulitzer everything!  This has been around a very long time and I remember my mother wearing the classic shift dresses with lace when I was a child.  Just few pieces now live in my closet and dresser such as swimwear, shorts, skirts, capris, shirts, scarves......can you say addicted!

4.  I am one of four siblings, the third girl with a brother following me.  My mother named me after a character in a book she was reading, because clearly I was meant to be male! In April of 2011, the four of us and Tom rented a condo on the island of Kauai and had a wonderful vacation celebrating a big birthday for my sister Chris!

5.  Cooking is not my favorite thing to do.  That's right, if I had the choice between a chef or a house cleaner, I would choose the chef in a heartbeat.  Cleaning my house is simple compared to meal planning and executing.  It's great to have friends who like to cook!

It's your turn!  Tell me something we don't know about you and it can't be about running!

January 22, 2015

Killer track workouts

My first track workout was on May 8th of 2011.  I had just finished reading the book, Run Less, Run Faster and was eager to start training for a faster half marathon at Disneyland in August.  My track workouts were scheduled once per week and I rotated between 400's 800's, 1200's and 1600 repeats.  Each had a specific time for me to meet and this did in fact make me much faster.  My time in my second half marathon was a PR by more than 20 minutes finishing in just over 2:07.  I knew then that speedwork and tempo runs were the key to getting faster!  What an Epiphany!

Fast forward to October of 2013 when I finally had the courage to join a local coached running group.  My first meeting was at the track on a cool and misty Thursday morning.  Looking back, the workout was the start of something totally new for me.  They vary the distances from the standard track measurements of 400, 800 etc.  Instead, we have workouts where your brain has to engage in a pace, but usually for a certain amount of time.  On that very first practice, we ran 8 minute sets at 8:30 pace followed by a 200 meter run at a quicker pace.  It is amazing that I ever returned after that killer workout.  Hold on though that was just the first of many.  Here are some other workouts that are equally tough!

*  One mile warm up followed by 4 times 6 minutes at 5k pace, 90 seconds rest, 200 meter pickup, cool down and stretching

*  One mile warm up followed by 4 times 1200's at 10k pace and one last 1200 at slightly quicker pace, cool down

*  One mile warm up followed by 1 mile at minute slower than half marathon pace, one mile at half marathon pace, 200's at 5k pace times 2, 1 mile at 1 minute per mile faster than half marathon pace 1 time 200 at slightly slower than 5k pace, cool down, stretching

* One mile warm up followed by 20 minutes at half marathon pace, return to track for 200's at hard effort pace, then 5 minutes at 30 seconds faster than half marathon pace, then 2 minutes at 15 seconds faster than half marathon pace cool down, stretching.

Many workouts that we do have an effort as the pace rather than a number.  Running on feel is sometimes worthwhile, especially when you are going through a dip in your training.  I don't think I have ever run without my Garmin, but at my group practice, I rarely am the one keeping track of our pace.  I am too busy running like he** to keep up with everyone!

Do you have track or speed work on your training plan?

January 21, 2015

Countdown to Princess Half Marathon: One Month!

I can hardly believe that we'll be back in Disney for the half marathon that started our running adventures in a month. While Mom has returned to the Princess Half Marathon every year since 2011, this will be my first Princess weekend since 2013. I'm really looking forward to this weekend for many reasons...

Family Time: Like our first race weekend in 2011, this weekend will be girly family time with my Mom and Aunt. It's hard to believe this will be our 3rd Princess weekend together and I think it will be the perfect warm-up to the main event for our family race plans for the year, the Boston Marathon!

Celebrating our first half marathon in Disney!

A New Race Experience: While I've run the Princess Half Marathon 3 times, I have yet to complete Glass Slipper Challenge so I'm looking forward to a slightly different race schedule for this weekend.

Training: This will be my first race since my fall marathon that warranted a real training plan. I took some info from the Galloway plan for the Glass Slipper Challenge and have added some speed work from Run Less, Run Faster. The combination of the mileage build-up and light speed work should be a good combo for me to get back into my running groove.

Seeing running buddies: There are quite a few ladies who will also be down in Disney for the weekend and I cannot wait to reconnect and share a Mickey bar or a ride on Thunder Mountain with them.

Are you running an event during Princess Half Marathon weekend? What's your favorite part?

January 20, 2015

Boston Marathon Training: must have running accessories

During this training cycle, there are certain items in my running collection that are getting plenty of use.  Some are new items and some are old standbys that still are important for all my runs. What a coincidence that the accessories that I am highlighting today are all made by the company Nathan.  Each and every one of these items was purchased by me at my local running store except the hydration bottle which I bought on Amazon.  It was delivered to my Mom's house so I had it for my training run several weeks ago on the Boston Marathon course. Does anyone else love Amazon prime?  When I can't get to the store, I know ordering online will get that item to me in just a couple days and it saves time being able to order almost anything online!

1.Safety Vest:  I am a broken record talking about safety while running, but honestly winter seems the most dangerous time for outdoor runs because of the lack of sunshine and the shorter days.  Wearing a vest takes no effort and is a very inexpensive purchase.  You can get one here.  I normally would go to my local running store before visiting Amazon because I want them to stay in business and the prices are usually the same!

2. Nylon mesh belt I have owned this belt for a couple years.  It was purchased strictly to hold my phone and a couple gels. In my old neighborhood, I did not need to carry water since there were places to get it on my route.  Now, I carry water and the pouch can hold quite a bit.  However, on runs over 12 miles, I need more fuel and this belt does the trick!

3.  Nathan Strobe Light  This light while small in size, does a fabulous job of letting traffic and other runners know you are coming.  It has several settings including a flashing light that is very effective at making you obvious to any moving objects!  And best of all they retail for around $10-$12.  Buy one now!

4. Nathan Quick draw plus hydration bottle Funny story about this bottle.  I bought it to use very occasionally when visiting my mom in the Boston area.  I always run a couple times during my visit and a bottle was necessary.  Who would have thought I would love it so much that it came home in my suitcase.  The best feature of this bottle is the thumb hole.  While I love thumb holes in my running shirts, I never imagined how great one could be on the strap of your hand held bottle.  You do not have to grip the bottle which makes it easy to carry during a run.  Best of all, it holds 22 ounces of water or whatever drink you use while running. It also has an adjustable strap on the side. If you are in the market for a new bottle, try this one. You can see in the photo that the little pocket can hole alot of fuel!

Last of all, I would be remiss if I did not include my trusted running shoes.  Brooks Ravenna 4's have made my feet happy for the last 12 months.  In advance of this training cycle, I found three pair and just started wearing them.  The blue pair are already earmarked for marathon Monday, April 20th and will probably just have 50 miles on them when I start the Boston Marathon!

Do you have any go to accessories to recommend?

January 19, 2015

Core Focus

A while ago, one of our fellow runners inquired about core training. I have a love-hate relationship with core work and yes, I know it's very important for runners! One of my personal challenges is that I often do my strength training after my cardio workouts, meaning that I often skip out on them if I'm tired or in a hurry. Knowing my challenge was half the battle so I'm making some changes this year.

My approach to core and other strength training is simple - I'll do it in the morning before I get ready for work. Each morning when I get up, I'm making an effort to do something that requires less than 7 minutes to enhance my core strength. Why 7 minutes? That seems to be an amount of time that I can absorb in my morning routine without having to set my alarm any earlier. Bonus!

   * POPSUGAR Fitness: The Quickest Muffin-Top Workout on YouTube (5 minutes)
   * POPSUGAR Fitness: 5 Minutes to a Sexy Back and 6-pack Abs on YouTube (5 minutes)
   * Plank sequence
   * Push-ups

I like these options because they're simple and don't require much advance planning or thought in the morning. That's a key for success for me - I just wake up, pick a workout and go. And in full disclosure, I usually do them in my pjs!

Want to know more about why you should care about core strength?  A quick Google search yielded several results for tips and instructions for why runners should care about their core. I learned that core strength can help reduce injury, enhance speed, and maintain form longer. With these reasons, it seems like a no brainer to focus on core strength in addition to traditional running workouts.

Read more:
3 Reasons Runners Should Perform Core Workouts from Active.com
5 Core Workouts for Stronger Runners from Runners World
Building Running-Specific Core Strength from Runners World

What are your favorite core exercises?

Disclaimer: I'm not a fitness or medical professional and gathered the information from this post from doing my own research to help improve my core strength.

January 18, 2015

Weekly Roundup January 18th

After a short trip to Boston, I arrived home Sunday totally energized about my race in April.  After having the opportunity to run the hills of the Boston Marathon course with my sister, my confidence is building.  We all have ups and downs in our training cycles and of course there will be more tests of my will before race day.  Keeping an eye on my training plan just one week at a time helps alot too!

Tom hung my medal hanger in our new house this week and I was so excited to pull out my hardware.  These medals sat in a plastic container since last June and it was fun adding all my news ones I received from races in the summer and fall.

My mailman brought a surprise on Thursday.  The box had the return address of Sports Backers who is the race company that puts on the Richmond Marathon. It was my award from the 8k race! Tom is going to install a shelf next to my medal hanger for awards and race photos.  My shrine in the bedroom is taking on a life of it's own!

Now for our workouts this week.  We both got in a couple good runs and some cross training.

Sunday, January 11th
Pam: 2.5 miles at 9:07 pace, lots of stretching and rolling
Christine: 8 miles at 9:09 pace

Monday, January 12th
Pam: rest day
Christine:rest day

Tuesday, January 13th
Pam: 6.6 miles at 9:07 pace
Christine: 2.5 mile run, 2.5 mile elliptical, stretching, 5 minute ab workout

Wednesday, January 14th
Pam: 45 minute incline walk on treadmill
Christine: 30 minute Tabata class, abs, push-ups

Thursday, January 15th
Pam: WOL track workout total 5 miles with 4.25 at 8:45 pace
Christine: 4 easy miles

Friday, January 16th
Pam: 20 minutes elliptical machine, Yoga class
Christine: rest day

Saturday, January 17th
Pam: 14 miles at 9:47 pace
Christine: 4 mile walk

Do you have a medal hanger filled with all your precious medals?  We would love to see a photo!

January 16, 2015

What's in my gym bag, take two

It's Friday and once again time to link up with the girls from DC, Mar of Mar on the run, Cynthia at You signed up for what and Courtney at Eat pray, run DC. Please be sure to check out their blogs and others who are part of the link up.  You may find something that would be a great addition to your own workout bag!  What's in my gym bag is this week's topic and this is a "take two" for us on this subject!

My gym bag is different than most because I do not shower at the gym.  Okay, now don't start thinking that I go around sweaty all day, because nope, I don't.  Unless I have a quick errand or two, the shower at home is the first place I go after a workout! Before I get to the things that go in the bag, I have to choose a bag.  If you have done many races, you will probably have a collection of bags just like me.  I love my race/running bags and sometimes choosing which one to take to the gym is as important as what goes inside.  Here are a few favorites in my collection including ones from Princess Half Marathon, Asheville Half Marathon, Divas Half Marathon and the lovely Pure Project gift bag from Brooks Running!

 And here are the things I put in one of these bags when I go for a workout:

1. Pool workout:  There are always goggles, hair conditioner in a small bottle and a large towel in my bag.  Do you know the trick of wetting your hair and applying a small amount of conditioner to it before putting on your cap?  It helps you put on the cap with ease, prevents hair breakage and keeps less chlorine getting into your hair.  Win win!

2. Yoga class:  Being a germaphobe, I always bring my own Yoga mat, plus a small towel and a bottle of water.

3. Fitness Room Workout:  The latest issue of Runner's World magazine or Marathon and Beyond magazine. My I pod shuffle and a drink round out what I need to get me through a gym workout,.

4. Track Practice: This is probably the toughest one because I need not only my running shoes, Garmin, appropriate running attire for the weather, but a really good attitude and confidence.  These workouts can be hugely challenging, and having some confidence can get you through the toughest runs.  Yesterday was particularly hard, but with Mickey and Ryan running with me, we kept the designated pace and felt so good when it was completed by 7:00am!

5.  Drinks:  Get your mind out of the gutter, I'm talking about hydration not taking an alcoholic beverage to the gym, pool or run practice.  For some reason, I require alot of fluids and having 2 bottles in my car that include water and Nuun or Gatorade do the trick!   

What is the most important item you include in your bag?

January 15, 2015

Star Wars Half Marathon weekend starts today!

The expo starts bright and early today for the inaugural Star Wars weekend of racing including the Rebel Challenge.  While we will not be in Anaheim to run these races, we will surely be following closely on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to see all the photos and enjoy all the posts by the runners. And if one member of this household knew about the Star Wars races and medals, there just might have been a new runner in my house!


Here are some of the details for those of you lucky enough to be participating this weekend:

runDisney race expo:  We love everything about these race expos, well, except for the crowds!  There will be plenty of vendors trying to separate you from the money in your wallet so plan ahead as to how you will and won't spend your hard earned dollars!  Be sure to bring your signed waiver to make packet pickup go a little easier.   The expo is also your opportunity to pick up the latest New Balance runDisney style shoes, this year a little retro Mickey and Minnie!

Thursday, January 15 – 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Friday, January 16 – 9:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, January 17 – 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Location: Disneyland® Hotel Exhibit Hall

Race details: Some of you will be running just one of the races listed below, and if you are running the Rebel Challenge, you have the Saturday and Sunday double and then will receive that additional medal for completing the challenge.  If you add the 5k, this gives you the trifecta for the weekend and 4 beautiful medals to add to your collection.

Star Wars 5k
Friday, January 16, 2015
5:30 a.m.
Start/Finish: Disneyland® Resort

Star Wars 10k

Saturday, January 17, 2015
5:30 a.m.
Start/Finish: Disneyland® Resort

Star Wars Half Marathon

Sunday, January 18, 2015
5:30 a.m.
Start/Finish: Disneyland® Resort

Kids Races:

Saturday, January 17, 2015
9:00 a.m.  
Location: Simba Parking Lot near Paradise Pier® Hotel

If you are doing the Rebel Challenge that includes both the 10k and half race, you'll get some extra medals! 

The official event guide is available for download here.

The i-Gift Bag is available for viewing here.

Last minute tips:  If you are traveling by plane, be sure to bring all your race day gear in your carry on bag. Bring an extra pair of shoes for walking around the parks or if you are doing two races or more. Printable packing list is available here for those a little behind!  Most of all bring a smile and some confidence.  It will be a fun race weekend and we can't wait to cheer you all on from afar!

January 14, 2015

Boston training, 96 days and counting

Monday marked 12 weeks until the day my sister and I will line up to run the Boston Marathon.  Back on March 16th of last year, the day that I qualified, it seemed like ages until race day!  Boy did the time fly by and now it is the heart of my training cycle so I can conquer one of the most difficult marathons in the world.  My coach set me up with a training plan that started the week of Christmas and so far, everything is going well.  With a hilly race course, my plan is very different than prior marathon training plans and Sami is certainly keeping it interesting and fun.

This week, I actually have a walk on the treadmill using the hill program.  Living in Wilmington, NC, we are basically flatlanders so unless I go over the Wrightsville Beach bridge or to the downtown area, we are running a very easy route! Game on treadmill!  I am going to kick some hill bu**!

My second and last training run on the Boston course happened Saturday morning when the weather channel showed this:

We started our run at 9 am and the temperature was not 16 degrees according to the car thermometer.  It was bitter cold, but thankfully we did not encounter any wind, at least not for the first 30 minutes!  Actually, we seemed to avoid wind until the top of heartbreak hill when we turned around to run back to Wellesley Hills where we had parked our cars.  The headwind was no joke and it was frigid.  My fingers got so cold that at one point we had to stop so I could ball them up inside my gloves.  This helped alot and yes, you are welcome for the tip!

Posted on Saturday, we now have 96 days!

Alison and I will meet up again for a run in February, but it will be at the Princess Half Marathon in Florida.  In the meantime, she will be dealing with the snow and cold in Massachusetts while I am back in balmy Wilmington where the weather outside is perfect for winter running, unless it rains!

This weekend my long run ramps up to 14 miles, which is my longest run since training for the Marine Corps Marathon.  I'm looking forward to a negative split so I can report back to coach that I aced her plan for the week!  It's fun having different goals for my long runs and this week, I start with 7 easy miles, then negative split with no set pace the last 7 miles. Sweet!

The last thing I am doing at the moment is reading lots of articles about the Boston Marathon course and how to train for race day.  Here are some that I like:

Four strategies to conquer the downhills at Boston from Jenny Hadfield @ Runner's World

3 Race quirks you must prepare for in the final weeks of Boston training Runner's Connect

4 Key workouts to prepare for the Boston Marathon  Runner's Connect

If you have any great articles to share please share a link in the comments!  What is your next big race?

January 13, 2015

Fight for it - the new meaning

With nearly no exceptions, I think about the Richmond Marathon every time I run. Most of the time, I feel sad and have a bit of negative self talk going on. After training very hard, it's been tough to move on from that race. I still feel a bit sad about the outcome, but on Sunday, everything changed. I was FINALLY able to mentally move on.

After agonizing over the fact that my training pace was significantly faster than my race pace, I told myself enough. I told myself that I couldn't change the events of the morning of November 15th. I did the absolute best that I could in the moment and got myself across the finish line with a tear-stained face and limping.

My motto for Richmond was fight for it. At the time, this meant fight for a PR, preferably one under 4:10 and ideally under 4:00. I trained hard and was prepared for those times and yet neither of those goals happened. But I did PR. And by golly, I crossed a finish line despite the previous ten miles sucking beyond belief.

I've had more than enough time to reflect and consider this race. I was ready to abandon everything about it - the clothes, shoes, mental mottos, etc. On my run on Sunday, I reconsidered that maybe this motto means something a little different now. Maybe I need to fight to regain my running mojo and find my confidence. It's time to identify some new goals, ones that I'll fight for. After putting to bed the disappointment, "what ifs" and challenges of Richmond Marathon, I'm ready to start fighting again.

How do you get back on track after a tough race?

January 12, 2015

Getting back on track with nutrition

After spending the last few weeks indulging in decadent holiday food, it was time for some changes. Now don't get me wrong, I don't in any way regret my festival of treats this holiday season. I've never been the girl to shun a cheese tray in favor of veggie sticks; I flip past all of the articles about eating healthy during the holidays. I'm a little bit YOLO like that (insert grin). But back to the topic at hand...I knew my jeans wouldn't fit very long if I was eating big steak dinners followed by cake.

Last week, I was on a mission! I spent a bit of time planning some healthy meals for the week and then planned my grocery shopping accordingly. I'm pretty sure my fridge was 60% filled with produce. Here's my meal plan and some of the recipes from the week.

Sunday: Roasted Chicken with Zucchini and Rosemary from The Italian Diet cookbook

Monday: Vegetable fajitas with whole wheat tortillas

Tuesday: Pork tenderloin with a fig and herb glaze; sautéed green beans 

Wednesday: Baked lemon tilapia with steamed broccoli and brown rice 

Thursday: Lemongrass chicken and asparagus from the Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Weeknight cookbook

Friday: Date night out at our favorite tapas restaurant

How do you get back on track with healthy eating?

January 11, 2015

Weekly Roundup: January 11th

This last week was all about refocusing and getting back on track for workouts. Pam's Boston Marathon training plan began and I started my own training plan for the Glass Slipper Challenge later next month. It was a very, very chilly week in Virginia so I spent a fair bit of time on the treadmill. On my run earlier today, I braved very chilly temperatures (16 degrees when I left my house!!) but really enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine.

Sunday, Jan 4th
P: 10 mile run at
C: 30 min elliptical, weights, abs

Mon, Jan 5th
P: Rest day
C: 20 min stationary bike, 10 min elliptical, abs, weights

Tues, Jan 6th
P: 6 mile group workout, lots of speed work including 1.63 at 8:00 pace
C: 4.5 miles at 8:55 pace, stretching

Wed, Jan 7th
P: 30 minutes elliptical, 15 minutes biking
C: Rest day

Thurs, Jan 8th
P: 3 miles 1 warm up followed by 2 at 8:57 pace
C: 3.5 miles at 9:00 pace, stretching

Fri, Jan 9th
P: Rest day
C: Rest day

Sat, Jan 10th
P: 12.32 miles at 10:05 pace (hills on Boston Marathon course out and back)
C: 3.5 mile walk

do you have a big race on the horizon?

January 9, 2015

5 Things I love about my favorite city, London

Today the Friday linkup topic is "my favorite city".  Please be sure to visit Mar, Cynthia and Courtney's pages to see their posts on this fun topic!

My first overseas trip happened when I was college age and had a long winter break due to the energy shortage.  My sister was living in London and what better place for me to go. A visit with her and seeing a fabulous foreign city would begin my love affair with London.  After several more trips to England over the course of many years, Tom and I moved to the northeast of England for a job opportunity.  We could not wait to explore more of the country and of course this included many train trips to London for some wonderful sporting events and shows.

There are many great things to see and do in such a big, cosmopolitan city and the historic sights are fantastic.  Here are my top five although I could easily make the list 10 or 20 things to see and do!

Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and the pageantry of the British! One of the most fascinating tours we had in London was at the Tower where a beefeater actually gives the tour. Since I took up running a few years ago, my visits back to London have always included a run through Green Park, past Buckingham Palace and into St. James Park. Be sure to pack your running shoes if you plan a trip to London!

London Eye This gigantic ferris wheel is a great way to have some beautiful views of the city.  We have ridden it both at night and during the daytime, but night is definitely our favorite!

West End Theatre  The London theater scene is huge and there are always a vast assortment of plays, musicals, operas and ballets to  If you are fan of the theater, you will be spoiled for choice in this city!

Fish and Chips Okay so this is not a healthy menu choice, but you can't visit London or England for that matter without a trip to the fish and chips shop.  Actually, we usually have our fish 'n chips at a local pub, but there are plenty of restaurants that serve this dish too.

Wimbledon  As huge tennis fans, it was with delight that we attended Wimbledon on more than one occasion while living in England.  A short train ride from central London, you can queue for tickets the morning of the event and if you are there early enough, you might even score tickets on Centre Court and see some of the big stars play such as Andy Murray or Roger Federer.

My niece Erica was excited to see some great matches!
This concludes my list of five things to do, but I would be remiss if I did not include one of the marathon majors in my favorite city so for number 6 on my list......

Run the London Marathon This is on my bucket list and a marathon major in my favorite city would be hard to beat. The race course passes many historic sights and the crowds are loud and supportive!  You finish this race passing the Houses of Parliament, turning towards St. James Park and then approaching The Mall, Buckingham Palace and Admiralty Arch. What could be better than finishing near the queen's house?   I currently have a "good for age" time which should help me gain entry for the 2016 race. Fingers crossed I get a spot!

What is your favorite city and what is your favorite thing to do there!

January 8, 2015

Guest Post from Cigna: Getting to the Finish Line

We're excited to feature a guest post from Pascale Jean, health promotion manager at Cigna today.  As many of you probably know, Cigna is one of the major sponsors for the WDW Marathon Weekend and they're sharing some amazing tips and a super cool infographic with us (and you!).  

So you’ve signed up to run a race. Maybe you’re one of the thousands running in one of the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend races (or all of them, if you’re “dopey” like me!). You’ve trained hard and put in the miles. All that’s left is getting to the finish line.

If it were easy to get to the finish line, running a 5K, 10K, half-marathon or full marathon wouldn’t be such a huge accomplishment. Along the way you’ll face obstacles, both physical and mental. Here are some tips to help you overcome those obstacles and reach your goal:

Grab some shut-eye.
You’re in one of the most magical places on earth, so it may be tempting to pack in as many activities as possible. Make sure you leave time for rest. Sleep deprivation can keep you from running at your full potential.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun too. Planning on going to one of the parks the night before your race? Don’t stress. Experts say that getting enough sleep two nights before your race is most important.

Fuel your body.
Eat a well-balanced meal the night before a race. Be sure to eat plenty of carbs, such as breads, pasta and rice. Proteins are important too as they will help your body recover after the race. On race day, eat a small breakfast two to three hours before your race. Try a plain bagel, oatmeal and other fruits and veggies. Avoid overeating – too much food may make you feel sluggish. Be sure to hydrate before and after the race.

Warm up properly.
You’re waiting to start the race. Adrenaline is coursing through your body and you’re anxious to begin. After all, you made it this far! But there’s one more thing you need to do: warm up.

Warming up before a race helps prepare your body and protect you from injuries. Before your race, try some dynamic stretches such as neck rolls, shoulder rolls and hip circles. Warm up five minutes prior to the race – that way, your body is fresh and ready to go.

Channel your inner cheerleader.
Most of us prepare our bodies for a race, but not our minds. 90 percent of running is mental.  It’s easy to let negative thoughts hinder your performance.  That’s why it’s important to train your mind just as you would your body.

During a long race, it’s not just our bodies that experience fatigue. Our minds do too. We begin to question ourselves. This self-doubt leads to anxiety, which prevents us from reaching our full potential. How do we overcome this inner struggle? By retraining our brins.
If negative thoughts creep into your mind, try to refocus them. Tell yourself that you can reach the finish line. Listen to your favorite playlist and focus on your surroundings (and what better surroundings for a race than Disney?). Break the race into chunks. Focus on getting to that next mile marker and don’t think about what lies ahead. Visualize yourself crossing the finish line. Before you know it, that dream will become a reality!

Thank you to Cigna for sharing this awesome info and best of luck to all of the WDW Marathon Weekend runners!

Disclaimer: Cigna provided us with this content and we received no compensation for this post. 

January 7, 2015

Top 10 reasons to love WDW Marathon Weekend

While we won't be there this weekend, we LOVE marathon weekend and are so excited for all of you that are running and cheering. We thought we would share our top 10 reasons to love marathon weekend. Have FUN!

10. There are runners everywhere! We've been to Disney for non-race and race weekends alike and it's hard to imagine a bigger celebration of running than marathon weekend. It simply seems that everyone at Disney World during the second weekend in January is there to run.

9. Classic character inspiration: we're suckers for the big 5 when it comes to Disney characters so we love the traditional character medals. 

8. There's a race for everyone. From kids races to a 5k to a marathon to challenges, there really is a race for every interest, age, and fitness level.

7. The expo is top notch. Maybe it's the number of runners or the diversity of runner, but we have found the marathon weekend expo to be amazing, so get your credit cards ready!

6. The marathon hits all 4 parks plus the speedway and ESPN Wide World of Sports. It's incredible. Unless you are on a crazy mission, you would likely NEVER see all of these things in the span of several hours on foot. It's an amazing experience.

5. The weather is usually not too heinous. I mean it is January, so there is potential for it to be cooler and less humid. I will say a prayer that the weather is good for this weekend! 

4. You can really eat and drink your way through the parks post-race guilt-free.  After you run 13.1 or 26.2 or 39.3 or 48.6 miles, it's time to celebrate folks! Last year, we enjoyed some libations in EPCOT and a fantastic dinner at Chefs de France. It was the perfect way to celebrate our Dopey Challenge completion.

3. You will see friends, meet people, and make new friends. I never ever imagined that I would meet some of my dearest friends through runDisney but I have. It's the only race that I would ever consider traveling to solo because once you're there you're bound to make friends and have companionship everywhere you go.

2. Characters! In what other 5k/10k/half marathon/marathon can you stop for a photo in front of a castle or with the big cheese, Mickey?

1. Where else can you wear your medal(s) around post-race (and not get weird looks) with plenty of people congratulating you?!

Wishing you a weekend of magical miles!

January 6, 2015

Healthy brown rice lunch bowl

On Sunday, after a hot and humid long run, I hydrated with water and Gatorade followed by a strawberry protein shake.  Soon it was lunchtime and a sandwich did not sound very tasty.  One of our local restaurants serves wraps and bowls made to order and this is what gave me my inspiration. Looking through my refrigerator and freezer, I found the following items that could be combined for an amazing bowl of yummyness! Yes, I do know yummyness is not a word in the dictionary!

Starting out with brown rice as the base to the bowl, I found pre-cooked chicken in my freezer that immediately went into the microwave to defrost.  Grilled sweet potatoes leftover from dinner were also reheated in the microwave plus, Edamame, cucumbers, carrots, baby tomatoes and avocado rounded out the bowl.  Finding a bottle of Asian sesame dressing in my pantry was a perfect compliment to the ingredients.  After the chopping, cooking, microwaving and combining of ingredients, here is the end result!

This took approximately 30 minutes to prepare and it certainly will be something I make again.  Here is a list of ingredients and a recipe:

Brown rice bowl

brown rice  (I used instant)
chicken or other protein such as salmon, tofu (for those who are vegetarian)
vegetables of your choice such as: peppers, carrots, cabbage, avocado, cucumber, sweet potato, beets, radishes, spinach leaves
Use your imagination and what is already in your refrigerator.  The more colors you have in your bowl, the healthier it will be.  You could also choose to use lettuce as a base to your salad instead of brown rice.

Enjoy and let me know what items you include in your bowl!

January 5, 2015

Goofy is getting no respect

If you are running the Goofy Challenge this week at Walt Disney World, you may feel a little disappointed that all the attention seems to go to the Dopey Challenge runners and not much notice to the Goofy runners.  Having done Goofy in 2013 and Dopey in 2014, this makes me just a little sad.

Goofy Challenge is a very difficult race and perhaps the only reason Dopey came about was due to the "unofficial Dopey" that people were doing on their own.  That included a 5k, half and full, not the four races that now comprise the official runDisney Dopey Challenge with the 5k, 10k, half and full marathons. Christine made this graphic when I was preparing for Goofy and it still makes me smile!

The Goofy Challenge is alot more runner friendly in terms of sleep which is preferable to me after a couple sleep deprived mornings for the 5k and 10k during Dopey.  Once you get to the main events, the half and the full marathon it is harder to be as rested unless you go to bed super early.  When you line up for the half marathon fresh and eager, it makes the race morning much more fun. Unfortunately, during Goofy Challenge, I lined up for my half marathon only to find out that my Ipod shuffle was not charged. #fail  Please check your electronics the night before each race!

During my time training for Goofy, I kept a log of my training and it was fun to look back on it last week.  Most of you doing Goofy will have spent countless hours, training, icing, rolling, stretching. You also will have purchased several pair of running shoes, numerous gels or other fueling needs and drank countless ounces, or maybe gallons of water, Gatorade, Nuun or some electrolyte beverage.  When you head to Walt Disney World this week for race weekend, be sure to include all those things in your bag.

If you want to read a recap from my Goofy Challenge adventure here are some posts to whet your appetite if you are going Goofy for the first time:

Goofy Training by the Numbers

WDW Mickey Marathon Recap

Christine's recap of the Donald Half Marathon 2013

WDW ChEAR Squad Recap

We are so excited for all our running friends who are traveling to Florida for all the runDisney events later this week.  Have a blast and enjoy every magical mile!

If you are looking at a New Balance shoe purchase, be sure to check out John's post here

January 4, 2015

Weekly Roundup: Jan 4th

I really can't believe we're writing our first weekly roundup for January.  Between the holidays and my post-marathon laze-fest, the past few weeks have flown by!  I always enjoy a fresh start for a new calendar year. I'm really looking forward to getting back into a routine, and more specifically a workout routine! I enjoyed my laze-fest but it's time to get back on track and stop being such a sloth. And despite the fact that I didn't do any conventional workouts for most of this past week (I was in Montreal celebrating the New Year), I was still pretty active. I'll share more on our trip in another post...it was really fun!
My first workout of the new year! 

Sunday, Dec 28th
P: 8 miles at 9:52 pace
C: Rest day

Mon, Dec 29th
P: Rest day
C: 25 min elliptical, abs

Tues, Dec 30th
P:  4 miles total with 1 mile warm up and 3 at 8:40 pace
C: Lots of walking around Montreal

Wed, Dec 31st
P: Rest day
C: Lots of walking around Montreal

Thurs, Jan 1st
P:  5 miles at 9:38 pace
C: 60 min ice skating, plus lots of walking around Montreal

Fri, Jan 2nd
P: Rest day
C: Lots of walking around Montreal

Sat, Jan 3rd
P: 35 min bike, weights Abs
C: 35 min elliptical, with 3 min at 30% resistance, 2 min at 60% resistance throughout, abs

How was your start to the new year?

January 2, 2015

Brooks Running gave us a #runhappy surprise!

In early December, we received an email from Brooks Running asking us for our sizes and mailing address so they could treat us to a holiday surprise.   If you have been following our blog since it's inception, you will know that I absolutely love my Brooks Ravenna running shoes and lots of Brooks clothing too.  The shoes have served me well as I have run in them on three continents and for my four marathons!  Obviously I love the products but what I love most about the company is the enthusiasm they have for their runners and the happy atmosphere that pervades their headquarters.  Back in October, Tom and I enjoyed a fantastic tour of the brand new building in Seattle and had so much fun visiting their flagship store. After a few emails two of these boxes arrived at my house on December 15th!

Boy was I excited! The box was torn open only to be quickly put away before I spilled the beans to Christine by posting some online photos!  She was receiving the same gift and both boxes were mailed to my house!  As soon as Christine arrived on the 23rd of December, she received her box and I took a million photos of the grand opening, well maybe just 10!

The anticipation!

Several layers of boxes and she's finally getting to the surprise!

Excitement is building!

Pure Project Shelter Jacket

Pure Project Running Tights

Pure Project Beanie and cool water bottle!

Of course we were absolutely overcome by the generosity of Brooks Running.  The jacket is adorable and with reflective threading in the material, it will be great for our winter runs in the dark.  The tights are super comfy and the little beanie is oh so soft and the storm color is beautiful.  We feel so lucky to have been treated to such an awesome gift.  One of my friends actually saw my gift before Christine received hers and said I should wrap it up for Christine for Christmas.  It was a naughty idea and I did not follow her advice! Tempting though...

Pam head to toe in new gear, Christine in her new tights!

Thanks are not enough for our friends at Brooks Running, but yes we will be running very happy into the new year. #runhappy