#RaceRecap: Rumspringa Half Marathon

Standard

This is a few days later than I planned, but work has been very busy. Better late than never though!

I’m back with my second race recap of 2016 for the Rumspringa Half Marathon in Adamstown, Pa. This race came just a week after the Garden Spot Village Half, which worked perfectly with my training schedule for Shipyard in May.
20160416_150023

Heading into this race my plan was to push myself to hopefully PR. With Garden Spot my plan had been to take it easy since I had another long run the following day. While I didn’t quite take it easy at that race I still wasn’t aiming to PR. This weekend that was my goal.

I signed up for this race after two friends ran it last year and had only good things to say. I also managed to convince two friends to join me. It was a fun little overnight trip. Friday night we stopped for dinner at a Panera. This seems to be becoming a tradition, especially with races with my friend Ivy. I figure it’s a great option since there are lots of healthy items to choose from.

One of the local hotels partnered with the race and offered a block of rooms at a really affordable rate. The hotel was just 2 miles from the start and finish line at Stoudtburg Village and its checkout was noon. This was great as it gave us plenty of time after the race to come back and shower before hitting the road. That’s not always a possibility with hotels with earlier checkout times.

In the morning we headed to the race, which started at 8, around 7:15 since we were so close. We even managed to stop on the way at Dunkin Donuts for coffee for Maureen and bananas for all three of us. Note to self, buy a bunch of bananas at the grocery store because bananas at a Dunkin Donuts are $1/piece.

Parking for the race was super easy and convenient right at the village. We went and checked in, dropped our stuff back at the car and then headed over to warm up. The race is on the smaller side with just a few hundred people, but it made for a bustling start in the central courtyard and along the pathway in the village since it was a bit narrow.

20160416_072147

This gives you an idea of what the village is like. People actually live in these neat homes and there are also some quaint shops on the lower levels.

Once we exited the village onto the road we were able to spread out widthwise and speed up.

The weather was perfect. It was in the 40s to start and in the 50s by the time we finished. The sun was out and shining and there was a light breeze at times, but mostly the air was still.

The course was basically lollipop shaped and boasted gently rolling hills. The first 3 miles, which are also the last 3 miles, were mostly downhill. The rolling hills started once you began the loop.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 11.03.56 AM

The biggest challenge was the long hill between mile 7 and 9. It wasn’t steep, just long and gradual. This was where things really started to spread out.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 10.52.10 AMThe scenery, especially once we got out of the housing development in the beginning and into the rural area was stunning. It was beautiful farmland, many of which belonged to Amish and Mennonite families. They were out in their buggies, doing field and house work, and often waved to us runners along the way.

Maureen captured this awesome photo as this little girl peeked from her buggy.

Maureen captured this awesome photo of this little girl as she peeked from her buggy.

Somewhere around mile 8 as I was climbing that long hill, a couple came up next to me and said, “You must train on hills.” I laughed and said that’s all I have where I live. They turned out to be from Pittsburgh and were lucky enough to also train hills. We chatted about how the runners had really spread out at this point thanks to the challenging section of the course we were currently running.

We hung together for a bit before they moved on ahead. I ended up catching up to them when I reached mile 10 where you head back to the village the way you started. The last 3 miles were challenging since it was almost entirely uphill back through the development. After leaving the development, you continued uphill to the village. As I rounded the corner onto the path around the village to the finish line, I could hear the husband pushing his wife to catch me. It made me push myself to run faster and I stayed ahead. I turned around after crossing the finish line and went and high-fived both of them and thanked them for pushing me.

Since I had a few minutes, I headed over to the laptops to check my chip time. I knew I had PR’d, but I wanted my exact time. I finished in 1:46:28, an almost 3-minute PR, which exceeded my goal of 1:47. I was thrilled. I also then noticed something else…I had placed 2nd in my age group, 30-39! I was super surprised and happy.

I went over along the village path to stretch in the grass and cheer Maureen and Ivy in to the finish. They both did great and enjoyed the course as much as I did.

After finishing, the race offers you one free beer from the nearby Stoudt’s Brewery, as well as German fare like sauerkraut, potato salad, sausage, and desserts. I had a little of everything just to try it, but am never that hungry after a race initially. I took the beer to take home and just enjoyed some water. While waiting for the awards ceremony, we were treated to music by a man in lederhosen playing the accordion. He was quite good!

It turned out that the girl from Pittsburgh was a year younger than me and placed 3rd in the 20-29 age group. I was glad we both did so well. It’s always nice when you meet great people out on a course in a race. Each person who placed in their age group received a German Weather House in addition to the finisher medal everyone received. It’s quite adorable and it looks great in my office at work with all my race medals.

IMG952016041695105531204

The grumpy lady unintentionally photobombing cracks me up!

The three of us after the race with our medals.

The three of us after the race with our medals.

After hanging out a bit longer we headed back to the hotel with an hour to spare. We hit the road and stopped a short time later at the Saturday Market, which is this crazy flea market in the area. It was slightly overwhelming, but very interesting. Ivy and I came away with some delicious Amish baked goods. We stopped in Hershey at Red Robin for lunch and then finally tackled the last bit home.

Overall I would definitely recommend the race if you’re looking for a smaller race with beautiful scenery in the Lancaster area. The course has its challenges, but is friendly to all levels of runners. The volunteers were great and the post-race food was a fun change of pace. I would definitely do this race again.

Do you have any upcoming races you’re looking forward to?

#RaceRecap: Garden Spot Village Half Marathon

Standard

I think Punxsutawney Phil lied. Well to be fair, he’s only right about 39% of the time so can I really accuse him of lying about an early spring? I guess not. Not to mention, I’m one of those people who actually enjoys winter so don’t think I’m complaining about an April snow storm. But that’s just what we got on Saturday, April 9 at the Garden Spot Village Half Marathon.

This was my second time running this race. A friend and I attended last year, and I loved the course and the volunteers so much that I wanted to come back. Last year the weather was in the 40s, sunny and crazy windy. This year was drastically different. What we lacked in wind, we more than made up for with snow. I’d never run a race in the snow but there’s always a first time for everything.

My friend Alyssa joined me this year. She had run the race four years ago and was hoping to improve upon her course time. My plan was to take it easy and just enjoy the race as I had to follow it up on Sunday with a 20-miler. Yep, a 20-miler…33 miles in two days.

Anyway, back to Garden Spot. We got there just in time on Friday night to pick up our race packets. This year you got a clear stadium-approved bag and two shirts, a t-shirt and a tech shirt. Both allowed you to choose from men’s and women’s sizing.

20160408_194711

We grabbed a quick dinner over in nearby Lancaster at Panera before heading to check in to our hotel and go to bed. As usual I didn’t sleep well the night before the race. I think I’m always afraid I’ll have set my alarm wrong or it won’t go off and I’ll miss it.

We woke up race morning and the snow wasn’t projected to start until 8, aka race time. Our hotel was just a short 5 minute drive so we got there around 7 a.m. and hung out in the car for a bit. The race is based and sponsored by Garden Spot Village, a retirement community. Many of the volunteers, from the people who park your car to those working in the food and registration tents, are all residents. Some of the residents even participate in the race.

As usual the race organizers did a great job in preparing for the weather. The tents were heated and dry, although a bit crowded since everyone was hoping to stay as warm as possible before the race.

With 10 minutes to go, Alyssa and I headed out to the starting corral. By then it was starting to snow, but that was only just the beginning.

20160409_075602

After a blessing and the singing of God Bless America, off we went, some of us to run 13.1 miles and others to run 26.2.

By now the snow was coming down pretty hard and the roads were wet with water runoff. Thankfully the snow was only sticking to the grassy areas so at least our footing wasn’t impacted. By the 2 mile mark I noticed my shoes were already squishy with water. I wasn’t too worried though as I was focused on just enjoying it. I do love snow after all.

I was hanging out with the 2:00 pacer, but found myself getting antsy. I tried to convince myself to just hang out there for the race, but I just couldn’t do it so I slowly moved on at a comfortable pace. I caught the 1:55 pacer around the 5-6 mile mark and again had the same conversation with myself. I lasted a little while with him before again I found myself wanting to keep pushing. There was a small voice in my head reminding me of my 20-miler on Sunday. I didn’t completely ignore it, but I didn’t exactly listen either.

The Garden Spot Village course is quite hilly, but one of the reasons I didn’t slow down was because it wasn’t as hilly as I had remembered. The most challenging part is between mile 7-9. After the half marathon turnaround, you have to head back up hill for probably a mile starting with a short but very steep section soon after the turnaround. What’s great is that there are always people there the full length of that hill cheering you on. It definitely makes you want to keep pushing. Once you get past that it’s just a steady incline for quite some time. You can see that section below in the elevation chart.

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 1.25.50 PM

You’re eventually rewarded with a nice long downhill before it’s almost completely flat to the finish. This is a great time to use whatever reserves you have left in the tank to finish strong. I wasn’t trying to PR, but since I had not taken it easy as planned I decided to just keep moving at a solid pace to see how well I’d do.

I finished in 1:51:54, which was an improvement on last year’s time at this race but not a PR. I was more than happy with that time, especially with the weather. After crossing the finish line the volunteers were there ready and waiting to hand you your medal, a foil blanket and a bottle of water. All three were very much appreciated at that point.

Since I had a little time, I decided to go see if there was a line at the tent where they offer free sports massage. Amazingly there wasn’t so I went in and had my glutes worked on since they were  already a bit sore. It was such a nice perk to have that after the race. She spent at least 20 minutes on me, which was way more than I expected.

After I found Alyssa and we headed into the Runner Recovery Tent for food. They offer a great spread for runners, including oatmeal, soup, sandwiches, wraps, eggs, chocolate milk, bagels, bananas, pretzels and more. The tent is also heated, which was a huge plus.

At this point we were both getting really cold after having been in wet clothes for so long. We went outside and grabbed some photos in front of the backdrop then headed off to the car to grab our clothes bags so we could change for the drive home. We used the changing tent, which while dry, was certainly not warm. One of the other perks I haven’t taken advantage of is they open their fitness center to runners. You can use their showers, their pool and hot tub. How many races offer that?!? Maybe next time I’ll take advantage of it.

12938073_10110563034965144_2177995650443020010_n

I highly recommend this race. It’s on the smaller side with just 1,500 participants (1,000 for the half and 500 for the marathon). You can even decide last minute since they do accept walkup registrations. In addition, they do not have a time limit for either race. There are people who walk both the half and full marathon. While they do eventually switch to manual timing, the race staff and volunteers stay out there until all participants get to cross the finish line. That’s something special most big city races can’t offer. The race is also a Boston qualifier if you’re looking for one.

Another added bonus is it’s the sister race to the Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon nearby that takes place every September. If you complete both in the same calendar year you’re eligible for the “Road Apple Award.” Let’s just say it’s an award very fitting for the area😉

If you want to check out more photos from this year’s snowy race, visit the Garden Spot Village Marathon’s Facebook page.

Now it’s time to get ready for the Rumspringa Half Marathon this weekend. It’s another small-town race in the Lancaster area. I’m heading down with a few friends for the night. Looking forward to another hilly course but hopefully some sunny weather instead.

Did you race or run this weekend? How’d it go?

I Re-Upped to #RunwiththeMarines

Standard

Around the time of the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon, the 40th running of it, I connected with a high school friend and we ended up talking running. We both discovered we love running half marathons, but enjoy the challenge of training for and running a full.

My friend wanted to do one more marathon before turning her focus exclusively to half marathons and shorter distances. We decided to enter the lottery for the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon and cross our fingers that we’d both get selected.

A few months went by and I got notice that the lottery would open in late March. I messaged my friend again to see if she was still interested. She was so off we went to enter the lottery.

The lottery registration for the MCM is open for an entire week. It doesn’t matter when you enter as selection is entirely random. The lottery closed March 30 and notifications started going out at 6 am EST on March 31.

Two years ago when I got into the MCM for the first time, I didn’t find out until after lunch. This year thanks to settings on my credit card, I received notice of a charge at 9 am. Despite not having the email yet in my inbox saying I’d gotten in to the MCM, I knew I’d been selected thanks to the registration fee being withdrawn. It was another hour or two until I got my official email.

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 10.52.38 AM

I was thrilled and now was just waiting to hear if my friend also had good news. Later yesterday morning I got a message from her saying she got in and was praying I did too. Success! We both got selected.

I’ve been lucky with the lottery both times I’ve entered. Not just because I was selected, but also because both times I was entering with the hopes other friends would also get in. In 2015, it was two local running friends that also entered. We all got in!

A lot of people don’t like to run races more than once, especially marathons. There’s a big mental factor that plays into races and sometimes knowing the course and what’s coming next can be a negative. While there are a few races I probably won’t do again, I knew after running MCM the first time that I would be back, but I wanted to wait at least a year before trying again so that things weren’t so fresh in my mind.

The MCM is an outstanding race and is run very well. The spectator support throughout is fantastic. The course itself has its challenges, but also offers the beauty of our nation’s capital. There is plenty to see to keep your mind busy throughout the race. Overall it’s just an amazing race.

I’m excited for some changes this year with MCM, including moving the expo to the Gaylord National Harbor and Convention Center. While I loved the history behind the previous location, the race had simply outgrown it. I have only driven by the convention center so I’m excited to explore it when visiting the expo.

My friend and I briefly discussed time goals. We’re hoping to aim for between 4 and 4:10 in order to secure PRs for both of us. We’ll see! Training during the hot summer months will be challenging, but hopefully will pay dividends come race day. Regardless of what our times are that day, the ultimate goal will always be to:

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 10.55.32 AM

While I’m really excited and looking forward to October, I must keep in mind that I have 7 months and several races in between. Training continues to go well for the Shipyard Maine Coast 39.3 challenge I’m doing in May. I’ll be tackling my two 20-milers in the coming weeks and am hoping they go well. I’m pleased with my pace on most runs and doing interval training once a week on the treadmill. I’ve also been offered the opportunity to borrow my friend’s dog, Remy, some morning to do some interval training with her. Remy loves to run!

Right now the goal is to stay healthy, continue to improve my fitness and stick to training. The weather has been all over the place and the wind has been quite heavy many days, but you never know what you’re going to get on race day so you might as well prepare yourself for all possible options.

So now with all the excitement behind me, it’s back to the grind for now.

What are you training for? Have you ever run MCM?

 

 

Review: @ManitobaHarvest #HempHeartBars

Standard

I received these complimentary products for review as a Sweat Pink Ambassador. All opinions are my own.

I was super excited to get my first opportunity as a Sweat Pink Ambassador to review the Manitoba Harvest Hemp Heart Bars. I’d been curious about hemp for awhile and this was a perfect introduction to it, as well as to Manitoba Harvest’s products.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 4.11.46 PM

I admit that I’m not usually a fan of bars. I’ve tried my fair share and I usually like them a few times, but then can’t continue to eat them. However, I went into this with an open mind and was pleasantly surprised.

Before I even tasted then, I checked out the ingredients and nutritional information. Below are photos of the Chocolate bar.

hemp3

While it might seem like there is a high amount of fat, these bars can fill in as a small meal on the go so the numbers overall seem right on target. I was impressed with the 10g of protein and 10g of Omegas, as well as how low the sodium, carb and sugar totals were.

I was also impressed with the ingredients list.

hemp2

Nothing crazy here! In fact, you might even have a bunch of those ingredients in your own pantry. So as you can see, before I even got to the taste test these bars had already passed both the nutrition and ingredient tests.

Now would they stand up when it came to taste?

hemp

I think my face in that photo says yes! They were really good. The bars were soft, which I like my bars to be, not overly sweet, and quite yummy. They were also filling. They’d be a great pre or post-workout snack, a quick meal on the go, or just when you need a healthy snack to satisfy your hunger.

Want a chance to win your own box of Hemp Heart Bars? Share a photo of you enjoying your favorite flavor on Instagram. Make sure to tag @manitobaharvest, @fitapproach, #fueledbyhemp, #hempheartbars and #sweatpink. Deadline is March 31. Complete details can be found on the Manitoba Harvest site.

Don’t want to chance it or can’t wait to have your own? Use code: hhbarlaunch1015 for 15% off your order from Manitoba Harvest. Code expires March 31.

Have you tried the Hemp Heart Bars? What flavor did you or do you think you’d like?

Salt Lake City Trip

Standard

One of the things I was looking forward to as I started off 2016 was a work trip to Salt Lake City. My boss and I got approved to go to a conference by Ragan called The Role of Communications in Creating an Engaged and Collaborative Workforce on Feb. 11-12. It was right up our alley and we were thrilled to be able to go.

After doing some research, I decided to extend my trip a few days. Salt Lake City is only a short drive to a number of ski resorts. I love skiing and it’d been a few years since I’d been out west to ski. I have no idea when I’ll get back so I really couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Plus, I hadn’t skied in Utah yet so it was a perfect opportunity to experience it.

Because we live in a small city, our airport is small so there are limited flights each day. We got lucky and were able to get on the first flight out on Wednesday, Feb. 10 so we arrived in SLC at 10:30 a.m. This left us the entire day to explore.

After stopping at a highly recommended Mexican restaurant called Red Iguana…seriously, if you’re ever there make sure you eat there…we headed downtown to check out Temple Square.

Temple Square is a large square where the Mormon Temple, the Tabernacle, two visitors centers, and more are located. Across the streets from the square you can find the Latter Day Saints Conference Center, Family History Library, museums, and other related buildings.

My boss and I decided to check out the visitors center. The North Visitors Center is dedicated mostly to the story of Jesus and the history of how the LDS church came to be. The South Visitors Center is dedicated mostly to how the Mormons made their way to SLC and built the temple, as well as a basic look into family history. After exploring both of those, we checked out the Temple and Tabernacle.

20160210_131926

While you’re not allowed in the Temple, unless of course you’re Mormon and have prepared, the outside is breathtaking to view. Inside one of the visitor’s centers they also have a scale model with a cut away so you can get an idea of what the inside is like. One fascinating detail is that the walls at the base of the Temple are 9 feet thick and thin to 6 feet at the top. Incredible!

From there we decided to head in the direction of our hotel in the Cottonwood Heights area. As you can see from the Temple photo, it appears to be a rather cloudy day. At the time the city was dealing with an inversion, which is something they only deal with during the winter months. They last for a few days at a time before a storm comes in and dissipates the smog. You can read more about this issue thanks to Powder magazine. Despite that, I still found myself falling in love with SLC and the surrounding area.

We still couldn’t check in so we decided to drive up into Cottonwood Canyon and see where the one of the ski resorts was that I planned to visit over the weekend. The road is two lanes and it winds up through the canyon. What was interesting, was as soon as we made one or two turns, we were out of the smog and had blue sky and sunshine. The drive was incredibly beautiful and the canyon walls are right on top of the road.

At the end of the road, we decided to check out Gardner’s Pass, which was closed, but you could drive up about 1/4 mile. Check out the view!

20160210_151812

There was soo much snow! I was in heaven.

After we meandered back down the canyon and checked into the hotel, I dozed off for a little bit. Our hotel was literally across the street from the base of the mountains, but when we first arrived you couldn’t even see them. After my quick nap, I looked out the window and there they were!

20160210_164532

That evening we enjoyed dinner at another highly recommended restaurant downtown called Takashi. The drinks were delicious and so was the sushi.

20160210_212514

Thursday we spent the day at the conference, which was hosted by CHG Health Services. They’re a healthcare staffing firm with several offices around the country and a Forbes Best Company to Work For. Their offices were really nice and it was evident they really care about their employees.

After a happy hour with some of the other conference attendees, my boss, the communications director from WestJet and myself headed downtown to see the Thursday night open rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It was incredible and at times I got chills listening to them. The Tabernacle is also an amazing building. It doesn’t matter where you sit, the choir sounds the same. It’s just how the acoustics work. Not bad for a building as old as it is! You can hear them sing in some short clips on my Instagram.

20160211_194003

What an amazing choir and check out that organ!

The Temple was also quite the sight at night too.

20160211_192704

For dinner we headed to Whiskey Bar on Main Street. It had delicious drinks and the food was also quite yummy. I seriously did not have a one bad meal in SLC.

After another full day of conference activities on Friday, a group of us met to head downtown for dinner and drinks. One of the CHG staff members took us to Finca, a tapas restaurant. We ordered way too much food, but it was all so delicious. Everyone also loved the restaurant’s take on a Moscow Mule.

Saturday morning I got up early and hit the road to Park City for my first of 2 days spent skiing. The trip was maybe 30 minutes and the drive was beautiful. Lots of beautiful mountain views the entire way. I rented some demo skis and hit the slopes right at 9 am when the lifts opened.

The groomed surface of many of the trails was incredible. The snow is definitely different than back east, even though they groom back here too. For slopes that weren’t groomed, the snow was a bit hard in the morning but as the sun warmed it the snow softened and was wonderful.

I couldn’t get over the views. It was a beautiful sight in every direction I looked.

20160213_114326

20160213_114011

20160213_115739

That last photo is from the top…photos just don’t do it justice. After I finished skiing, I hopped the bus to Main Street to check out the shops. The town really still has the feel of an old western town. It also reminded me a bit of Breckenridge.

Once I got back to my car, I drove over to the Utah Olympic Center. They were getting ready to close, but I ran around the museum quickly and then stopped on the road to take a picture of the view. Again, stunning.

20160213_091741

Sunday I spent the day at Solitude Ski Resort. While Park City boasts more than 400 slopes and trails, Solitude is on the smaller end with 70+ slopes and trails. What attracted me to this one was the description on their website:

“Up here it’s quiet. You hear the light thrum of the chairlift at your back, a slight breeze wisps by, cold and clear. It carries the tinkle of laughter from a pack of kids down below. It’s sunny and crystal clear today, and before you drop in, you take a moment to breathe, to hear the quiet. You needed this.

“You need Solitude.”

I knew it would be different from the grandness of Park City, but it sounded like a special place. It was.

While it was not sunny and crystal clear since it snowed quite heavily all day, it was wonderful just the same. I often found myself alone on the chairlift and even on the slopes. That tinkle of laughter? I heard that too.

20160214_124053

20160214_101236

It was a wonderful day on the slopes. I wished I’d had a few more days, but that just means I need to get back there sooner rather than later.

A lot of people thought it was odd that I would go skiing alone. I know it’s often a group activity, but you’d be surprised at how many people were out on the slopes alone, like me, or they were with groups but had split off to do their own thing. I didn’t mind it one bit, especially out there with the long slopes and trails. In addition, everyone was really nice so I often found myself chatting with people on the lifts.

Yesterday a friend of mine posted the picture below. I found it really rang true for me, especially the part where it says, “It is a sport that brings escape from the cares and tensions of daily life. Skiing brings an awareness of the grandeur of nature…”

12376295_10208903617454269_8079990388501833567_n

What a great trip it was! I really loved Utah, SLC and the mountains. I can’t wait to find myself back there again.

Friday Five: Favorite Fitness Products

Standard

It’s been awhile since I joined in on a Friday Five linkup, but getting to share some of my favorite things seemed like a perfect way to jump back in. You can join in too with linkup hosts, Cynthia, Mar and Courtney.

dc_linkup

The topic for the third Friday of each month is “Favorites.” I thought I’d share some of my favorite fitness and running items. I’ve personally found a lot of great products I’ve come to love when other people have shared their favorite fitness products. Here goes!

1. RockTape RockNRoller

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 2.57.32 PM

I got this from my massage therapist after my last marathon and it’s awesome. She actually put on a foam rolling class where we all got to try it out so I knew what I was getting prior to purchasing. The “fascial fingers” as the nodules are called help work on those knots and other sore areas in your muscles. The interior of the roller is hollow so you can use it for storage of balls, bands, wallet and or car keys. It also has a strap for easy transport. My massage therapist always packs it in her suitcase and uses the inside for her delicate items to help save some room.

2. RockTape

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 3.03.07 PMSince I’m already focusing on the brand, I have to also include RockTape. I absolutely love this tape. It’s really helped me with some biomechanics issues I have and also helped me perform more efficiently. In addition, it’s great in recovery. One other perk is that it comes in a ton of great colors and patterns, although I’m partial to pink, purple and the RockTape logo shown above.

3. Spibelt

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 3.09.16 PM

I think I’ve talked about this before, but I really love it. I purchased it on a whim prior to running the Marine Corps Marathon so I could carry my phone with me easily. I just hoped it wouldn’t move. I was not disappointed. It stayed exactly where I placed it and I didn’t even know it was there, even with my phone in it. I often use it on long runs for my phone or gels. It’s really been a great addition to my gear.

4. Old Navy Compression Crops

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 3.13.05 PM

Don’t get me wrong, I love great high-end running crops.  However, some of the brands these days charge an exorbitant amount for pants that are often sheer, don’t stay in place or aren’t of good quality. I love to splurge now and then when I find a great pair, but have been extremely happy with my affordable purchases from Old Navy.

I have the above in basic black, as well as the black that has a subtle pattern. They fit true to size, which is a medium for me, and are not sheer even when in downward dog or a squat. They wash well and last a long time. The price also can’t be beat.

5. Lululemon 5m Reversible Yoga Mat

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 3.17.31 PM

This was my Valentine’s Day gift and it was such a nice surprise! I’d been using a cheap yoga mat and it was just not cutting it, especially when you’re in a class where you’re sweating up a storm. This is the perfect solution and I can’t wait to test it out in class soon.

Do you have any favorite fitness products or gear? What are they and why do you like them?

Running into February

Standard

Does anyone else feel like 2016 is flying by? I can’t believe it’s February. In fact, yesterday Groundhog Day and it sounds like we’re in for an early spring…that is if you actually believe a groundhog’s predictions.

I love winter, especially the snow, so I wouldn’t mind if we had a few more snow storms. However, based on how this winter has gone and the fact that there were earthworms on the sidewalk as I walked into work in the rain this morning, I’m going to guess that Punxsutawney Phil might have lucked out in his prediction this year. I just hope it doesn’t get too hot too early this year. I have lots of training and some races on my calendar and I prefer cooler running weather. We’ll see!

After setting a goal to get back on track and consistent with my workouts last week, I’m pleased to say I did just that. In an attempt to continue the positive trend, I’ve once again mapped out this week’s workouts.


Monday – Strength Training

Tuesday – Rest

Wednesday – Strength training, lap swimming

Thursday – Circuit training, 4 mile run

Friday – Circuit Training

Saturday – 6 mile run, core

Sunday – 13 mile run


I originally had a run planned for last night, but went to see Hubbard Street Dance Chicago instead. It was a great performance and also gave me a much needed rest day. I need to remember to also make sure I build those into my schedule. It’s always a good idea to give your body a chance to rest and recover.

I’m only getting 3 runs in this week, but I’m ok with that as it’s early in my training program. I don’t want to overdo it, especially since 4 runs a week is new for me. I’m looking forward to making progress and getting stronger as time goes by.

run

The next challenge is really reigning in my eating habits. I haven’t been doing so hot lately and I know this impacts the quality of my workouts. I need to get back to keeping my food journal. I had started out in January doing really well with it, but have since stopped. I’ll make that my goal for the remainder of this week.

What tips do you have for staying on track with nutrition to provide you with what you need to perform at your best?