May 27, 2014

Rounding out the running schedule and the "lazy" sports

After the Run for Kids 51.87-mile run, I was completely wiped, of energy and desire to run. Does that ever happen to you, when you push so hard that you just don't want to push for a few weeks afterwards? But my first speed work back was magical because the whole time I was focused on how short this pain would be versus 12 hours on the trail. Only 40 minutes?! I can definitely hang with that. 

Along with my running revival, I've also made it to a few miscellaneous classes, like spin and strength training and yoga, which have made me feel more rounded instead of the the never-ending Great Wall of running. 


My Monday morning class helps with the rounding. 


Even though I spend a lot of time flicking poop off the grass for my students instead of exercising. 


Note to all the people: oldish poop saturated in the fresh dew of morning does not flick in one piece. Instead it flakes with the force of a sturdy sticky, making a sort of poop confetti that would not be popular at your next New Year's party. Friends don't let friends flick old, wet poop. 

Other things I've learned lately, marking a 9-mile route on a trail can take four hours or more. 

Me and Coach Alex: Ruffner trail marking expedition.

This was at Ruffner Mountain, the site of my upcoming night race, Race Against the Sun, the 36-40 (you find out when you finish -- yay) mile race on a surprise course in the dark with old mine shafts ready to swallow you up. Plus there's the whole haunted mine thing that I wish I didn't totally believe in. And the poison ivy that's already surpassed my height in its summer growth spurt. Can you tell that I'm excited about this? 

While we were out there, I mentioned something about turning left where we were supposed to turn right, and Alex said, "Oh no, that trail leads to a 30-foot drop." So there's also that. Trying to decide if this is an even less smart move than almost killing myself with heat stroke at the Run for Kids. 

Speaking of heat stroke, I raced 12 miles this weekend (more on that later), and I think the heat really got to me earlier in the race than normal. I'm wondering if that's an enduring effect from the "day I almost died running," as I lovingly refer to it. Any ideas on whether or not once you experience something like that your body is more susceptible to it in the future? 

Like your body saying, "You can't fool me with this old trick again, you crazy runner you."  

Another trick I noticed recently: the magic of five bars costing more than six. Huh? The first one was on the end cap, and the second one was on the interior of an aisle. You pay for the convenience of not walking ten more steps to the other section. Worth it?



And not a trick: this dude turned 9 this week. He's pretty much getting cooler every time we turn around. This week's coolness: he has finally learned how to fully clean a toilet. Not saying that he will implement it every time, but he "likes" (ok, so just agrees to) to scrub them with old toothbrushes, our toilet cleaning weapon of choice. 


I finally got the chance to break out this Boston swag. This bottle opener came with our race packet. I kind of love it but don't often bust out any bottles at home. Birthday party = pizza and root beer = busting out the 26.2 swag. 


We also went to our first Birmingham Barons game, which was way more fun that I thought it would be. It turns out that I love all live sporting events no matter how boring I find that sport in general. But really, how do those players stay in shape? They barely move during a game. Seriously, they swing every 20 minutes or so and occasionally that leads to some running or holding their arms up to retrieve a ball. They must work really hard in their off hours to stay in shape to give peak performance for about 20 minutes per game. 


Which sport appears to work the hardest to you? And the least? Skiers always look like they are working crazy hard to me. And rugby players look like they are one play away from death pretty much always. Least would have to be a unanimous curling from the world. 

Does your town have any sports teams? Are you one of their groupies? Other than the minor league baseball and some smaller college (UAB and Samford) teams, I'm not sure. People get really into college football around here. Alabama and Auburn, you know. I'm not a groupie of any of these.

Which other exercises do you do to round out your running schedule? Yoga is my must-have extra.

May 21, 2014

Join 1Hour Break's rocking Indiegogo campaign, plus I'm an official run coach!

Ever need help going to sleep? For a lot of you runners, that's a piece of cake, but I was born with the now-that-it's-10-p.m.-I-get-a-second-wind gene. Maybe that means that I should go to bed at 9:30. Either way, I get a lot done between the hours of 10 and 1 a.m. At least I think I'm getting a lot done, but I'm not at all convinced that it's worth the sleep deprivation. 

When I got a sample of 1Hour Break, I decided to put it on my nightstand to try as I was thinking about (but not) going to sleep, and I LOVED it. It was easy to take (spray), and it helped me feel relaxed and not as rushed to fit in a million new things before bedtime. 

Here's a breakdown of the product for you. 


If you aren't into herbal solutions, this probably isn't for you. But if you are, this is worth a shot if you have trouble calming the frick down at night. My bottle still has a special place beside my bed. I also use lavender oil (a dab on my neck) to relax at night and the eucalyptus oil for waking up in the morning. 


After using this at night, I don't feel drowsy when I wake up in the morning, just rested and ready to go. This isn't something I use every night, although you could. I take it on an as-needed basis, which also helps to make the bottle last longer. Each bottle has 80 pumps in it, and a serving is approximately 5 pumps.

You can also use it in the daytime for anxiety, as it doesn't cause drowsiness, just a general calm. 

Right now, the company is going into the final two days of their Indiegogo (like Kickstarter) campaign. They've exceeded they're $20K goal by a long shot and are now trying to make it to $100K to be considered by big retailers like Whole Foods. There are lots of purchase options for the campaign, like one bottle for $15 or four bottles for $40. Or even 20 bottles for $199 with the added bonus of $10/bottle for life, kind of a cool option. Shipping in the US is included in that donation amount, extra for international shipping. 

Going now to put in my order.

And for a recap:

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In other news, I passed the RRCA exam and am now a certified run coach!!! For those of you who didn't know, I am already teaching aqua and kiddo classes, plus I work with the run club at Life Time Fitness, leading runs on Tuesday nights at 6 and leading Dawn Patrol, a runner boot camp, on Monday mornings from 6-6:45 (both of which are FREE for all the peoples, not just Life Time members--just meet us at the front door of Life Time). 

But now that I'm certified to help runners, I'm going to be coaching a summer trail training program that follows the Sizzling Summer Trail series

Here are the details


If you are local and want to get started with trail running, this program is for you. Or if you just want cool stuff and someone to tell you what to do, this is also for you. You'll get a ton of extras along with entry into the races and a training plan that will fit your needs. Plus you'll get one freaking excited coach! More exclamation marks, please!!!!! Go here to sign up.

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And last, you have one more day to enter to win an Apera sprint pack that highlights Special Olympics. Go here to enter. 

I swear that is all the announcements for one day. Carry on, runner friends. 

May 18, 2014

Never get bored

My daughter recently discovered that she could do art all day long and never get bored. 


Basically, I am going to start forcing her to actually do art all day long because I want more cat pics like this. She forbid me from stealing this one because she wants to hang it in her own room. If it comes up "missing," do not look at any of the walls in my room. I swear it will not be to the left of my bed. 


Right over my new medal holder (thank you, Target clearance aisle). This hanging system is an upgrade from the three-hook system I had implemented before. And the reason the medals are in uneven batches on the hooks is that I divided them onto hooks by distance. The slim pickings hook is ultra runs, which you usually just get a high five for finishing instead of a medal, and the middle hook is the marathon hook. Either I go really crazy for marathons, or they give out the most/largest medals. I think it's a combination of the two. 


Now back to doing something all day without getting bored. My kids could eat ice cream and watch the Lego movie all day on repeat. 


I could eat Thai food all day forever and possibly not get bored. Lime, cilantro, and peanuts never taste less than amazing.


And, surprise (!), yesterday I figured out that I can go to a class about running from 8-5 and not a single time fall asleep or want to stab pencils into my eyes. If all goes well tomorrow and on the exam, I'll still have my eyeballs (hopefully maintaining the lack of desire to stab pencils into them) and start the summer off in coaching mode.


If you're considering taking this course and you see that it's in your area, sign up immediately. The class here in Birmingham filled up with a quickness, and I think it's like that everywhere. I've been wanting to take this for a while, but it's hard to make an out-of-town weekend training work with the family schedule. So it made the decision easy to sign up instantly when I saw it was coming here.

What could you do all day and not get bored? Reading would be up there on the list for me too.

Does your current job relate to your above answer? Is there a way to combine Thai food and running into a single job. If yes, I'm set for life.

May 15, 2014

Apera review and giveaway!

Sturdy, classic, functional: that's how I would describe Apera in three words. When I first got this bag in the mail, I was pleasantly surprised at the exceptional quality of workmanship and materials. This bag was built smart and built to last, but I wanted to take my time testing it to see how functional it was in my running world. 

Fresh out of the box.

I ordered the Performance Duffel in black ($124), which I thought would come in handy for ultra running because of the overall size and the various types of storage it offers. It has double pockets for shoes, one on either side. These pockets are vented, perfect for airing the shoes out after a long sweaty run. Plus the lining in this bag, and all of their bags, is antimicrobial. 

Vented shoe pouches.

Running an ultra requires lots of everything. Lots of fuel, lots of shoes, lots of socks, lots of shirts, lots of shorts, lots of towels, lots of skin sake, lots of sunscreen, lots of medical supplies. You are like Noah getting onto an ark of running, two of everything required -- at least. Even if you only use a few things that you actually bring, you still bring it because life gets a lot uncooler on the trail if you realize six hours into a 12-hour run that you need new shorts. 

I used this bag for a few practice, shorter runs (and trips) before my big 12-hour run because I wanted to get to know all of the available space. Every time I used it, I discovered something new. 

First, it's a perfect fit, with plenty of room to spare, for overhead storage bins on a plane trip. 

Fits easily into the overhead bin on a plane.

Next, one of my absolute favorite features as a glasses wearer: padded pockets. I felt safe putting my glasses in without a case. I would have opted for a case if I were going to check my bag onto the plane, but this was a great temporary solution for glasses storage. 

Padded pocket that can work for your glasses.

Or you could use the padded pockets for your other most important things, like bags of maca powder and hemp hearts. 

Or a padded pocket for your weird runner food.

Now if I could get a pocket for this cheeseburger. Apera, can you help me out?

This burger deserves its own pocket.

But back to for real, if you want to keep your glasses in their case, these side mesh pockets make a great nest for your shades. 

Mesh exterior pockets.

During my sunny 12-hour race, I also opted to keep sunscreen in my easy-to-access exterior mesh pocket. 


There are even more options inside the bag. Large pockets, medium pockets. All made from an antimicrobial fabric that was designed to be wipeable. 


Small pockets and a key attachment. 


It also comes with an extra wipeable insert/bag that I use to store my wet clothes in for the ride home. 

The strap on the bag is built like a seat belt, thick and sturdy material that will definitely hold up to wear and tear. I can say the same for the rest of the material used on the bag. It all felt sturdy, and the stitching and workmanship on the bag was excellent. There are basic bags that will get the job done, and then there is the Apera bag, that will get the job done in the best way possible. 

Along with the quality strap comes a quality shoulder protector to keep you comfortable en route. This picture is from our last day in Boston. 

Sad to leave Boston but glad that all my Boston gear fit in my bag.

While I was at the marathon expo, I was happily surprised to find an Apera booth. It was fun to put a face behind the quality bags, and I got a little more back story of the people who designed the bags. Not surprisingly, their designers have been on the bag designing scene for a while, and with over three decades of experience, they were able to give athletes superior function and superior quality. 


They weren't the only booth I was interested in at Boston. Remember when I bought all the things there? Luckily all the things, plus souvenirs for my kids plus all of my clothes for the week, fit into this bag.

Will it fit? Yes, it will.

If you are my friends and family who have been around me while using this bag, you know I can't stop talking about how much I love it. Kind of annoying when you're trying to talk to me about family reunion planning or about whether or not Aunt Luanne needs to switch to new psych meds. Sorry, guys, but this bag is boss and I need to talk it out. 

These bags are not the cheapest. The one I received retails for $124, which I thought was high for a gym bag. But after receiving it, I can confirm that the quality matches the price point. If this bag ever wears out (doesn't appear likely anytime in the next century), I would definitely go back to Apera for a new bag.

Here are some other things you are going to want to check out: 

* They currently are offering 40% off of their blue line of bags

* Free shipping on all orders and no hassle returns. 

* Win a duffel pack this month by signing up for their newsletter. 

* They might sell them in your area. I was surprised to find two retailers, Birmingham Trunk and Mori Luggage & Gifts, listed in Birmingham. 

Also, Apera supports the Special Olympics by donating a bag to a Special Olympics athlete for every three bags they sell. 

To help spread love and support for Special Olympics, we are giving away one of Apera's Special Olympic sprint packs, a vented pack for a quick trip to the gym, including a zippered pocket and divider to keep your shoes separate from everything else.


If you're interested in winning a Special Olympics sprint pack, use the Rafflecopter below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received this bag for review from Apera. They did not otherwise compensate me for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

May 11, 2014

Girls on the Run 5K and fill in the blank

Happy Mother's Day to all you fellow momma runners! Skip to the bottom of the post to fill in your, You know you're a mother runner when ___________.

This weekend, my daughter and I went out to the third annual Birmingham Girls on the Run 5K, where we were buddying up with one of our third-grade friends for the 5K. 


We attended this event the first year but skipped last year, and I was amazed by how much it had grown since year one. Lots and lots of folks came out to support this great organization. Over 400 were registered for the community race. And if you want a 5K PR, this is a great flat course, and the weather isn't too boiling yet. We actually had a nice overcast day, thankfully with no raining and lightning at the time of the race.


I planned to stick with our buddy runner and Bella for the whole course, but as soon as we crossed the start line and rounded the first corner, Bella took off into the throng of people. She totally stole that move from my play book. Five minutes before the race: "Hey, everyone, this race is just for fun." Five seconds into this race: "Must move legs as fast as possible and pass all the people possible."


My buddy and I did stick to our plan of having fun! We ran some and walked some, and we set small goals, like run to the second red light or run to get that cup of water. The only place I told her that she absolutely had to run was when we rounded the corner for the finish line. 


Look at those high knees for the sprint to the finish. 


This was the perfect comeback run from my 12-hour-I-almost-died race. Easy and fun. I even had some trail buddies there for support!

Melissa, Olivia, Lisa (and our mini-me girls).

After the race, we headed to the fun booths, like this fruit cone bar. Such a smart and healthy and not melty idea.


The photo booth was a hit too, and it printed out the perfect pics to go with your foam and glitter glued homemade frame that you could make at another table.


They even turned a table into a craft by decorating it with descriptions of how they felt after the race.


Bella's was hilarious: "I feel impressed by myself, and I'm sore all over." So remember when she took off at the beginning of the race, and we never saw her again. That's because she was blazing through to a 28:42 finish time. What the heck? She basically never runs and is only 10 years old. Her time earned her first place in her age group, and she has not stopped talking about it since. Proud moment. Although she made sure to tell me that she doesn't actually like running and that the best part of running is when you are finished. I think we can all see what a good point she is making there. 


Any good race deserves a celebration breakfast. 


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The next day, we celebrated Mother's Day with a mom run at Red Mountain Park. We even explored some new trails which made the familiar seem unfamiliar and fresh. 


Try that 5.5-mile run with a side of delicious breakfast from my family and homemade craft presents, and you have the perfect morning. 


Next week I should be back to regular running but with an easier load going into the summer. This makes me very happy. Time to bring more joy, less feeling like death, back to running. 

What is your favorite part of running: actually running or being finished? If I'm running for fun with friends, definitely the during. If I'm running a 5K for serious, definitely being finished.

What do you do to celebrate a great run? Usually a nap for me, but a fun breakfast seemed more appropriate for my daughter's generation. 

Fill in the blank: you know you're a mother runner when __________________.  (My answer: when being alone for an hour on a run is the best gift you can think of. My other answer: when bladder control during a run is not an option.)

May 9, 2014

After the party: Athleta is now open in Birmingham

For you Birmingham folks, there's a new place to find gear for swimming, yoga, and that little sport I love, running. Athleta had their grand opening party Tuesday night, and once the doors opened the flood, which we are experienced with lately in Alabama, of ladies (and some men!) came crashing in.


Toeing the red carpet line.

My job that night was to work with the B-Metro live social media team, to update the community on what was happening at The Summit. Tanya Sylvan (fellow runner who I absolutely adore) and Abby Hathorn (probably the cutest person online and in person you will ever meet) were there to help too! 

Lauren (the brains behind B-Metro social media), Tanya, Lisa, Abby

Our job looked a lot like this. Pretty glamorous.


Although I was able to fit in some of this as well. Where there is red carpet, there will be jumping. 

Straight up pant does not bind on the ups.

While we got nerdy in the corner, all of the other visitors were partying hard. By partying hard, I mean trying to decide between the neon or the black running jacket or to go with underwire or no underwire in their swimsuit top. That's my kind of party!

Carson (new friend from that night! also training for her first marathon!) went with neon.

There were also giveaways, food, and beverages.




Plenty of browsing the selection. 


Selfie snapping.


Chatting with friends.


Trying things out. 


And getting answers from the Athleta team. 



I'll let you in on a couple of secrets from that night. One, I went into it with a giant shiner from my son, who jumped for joy right into my face the day before the party. It got me thinking, when was the last time I jumped for joy? Then I remembered, oh, on the red carpet at Athleta (see above). So I understood. But, dang, it hurt. Thanks to Athleta's neighbor Sephora for hooking me up with a much less Rocky IV version of my eye.


Second, Athleta does free alterations. If you are 5'2" like me, their petite version might be perfect, or you can just get them to make it perfect, for FREE.


Although I left my pants behind to get hemmed, I didn't go home empty handed. I was obsessed with this capitola tankini top all night, hoping that my size wouldn't sell out. I got lucky. The blue and yellow color combo is perfect, and I love the yellow ties to ruche the sides a little. 


Here's what else I like, the underwire. Normally I would say that I don't need underwire at all, under any circumstance, but it boosted the little bit that God gave me. Don't laugh when you squint at the pictures to try and decide if that is a mom's or small man's chest you are seeing. Believe me that it is a step up from what is usually happening in that arena. And if you're chestier, I can only imagine the underwire being crucial. 


The other thing I brought home was the light wander wrap. I was thinking, beach at night perfection. Plus it has thumbholes. I am a fan of all things thumbhole. I went a size down in this to get a tighter fit.



It was great to see so many of my local running buddies there that night, and I feel very ecstatic about the idea that fitness is growing enough in Birmingham to provide the market for another fitness clothing store for women. Go, Alabama! But let's get real, I will be wearing those black pants as my uniform in all non-workout situations as well.