Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Ragnar Practice Runs

In just over a week, I will be heading to Hull, Massachusetts with my Ragnar Cape Cod Relay teammates to begin our 200 mile journey to Provincetown. This will be my second team relay, but it will be very different than my Reach the Beach NH experience.

Team Vicious and Delicious is one BIG team of 22 ladies in four vans. For communication purposes, two vans go by Vicious & Delicious and the other two vans go by Too Vicious & Delicious.

I am runner #10 for TooV&D (which is really runner #11 on the Ragnar runner distance chart). I have the least amount of miles, but I'm still making sure that I am ready to run! Since I am on Spring Break, it seemed like a good time to simulate my legs by doing multiple workouts.

Practice Run #1: Ragnar Leg 11 - 4.5 miles - moderate - elevation gain 198'
I set out around 9AM in the hopes that I could avoid most of the morning traffic (mission accomplished). The route I chose was pretty close in elevation with a gain of 177' and it was chilly enough to test run our team long sleeve shirt (loved it). Even though my stomach grumbled the whole time (I didn't eat before), I ran near my goal pace and felt really good (even after Sunday's 10 miler).

Practice Run #2: Ragnar Leg #23 - 2.4 miles - easy - elevation gain 45'
Nearly 12 hours after the first one, I decided to do this run on the treadmill. To create the feeling of running outside (and for fun) I dimmed the lights and sported my night gear. I didn't have any problems during the run besides my legs being a little grouchy, and it was over quickly enough. However, I did learn a few lessons that will save me from tummy issues next week: skip the full dinner and drink more water.

Practice Run #3: Ragnar Leg #35 - 4.5 miles - moderate - elevation gain 235'
Almost 13 hours after my last practice run, I suited up for a rainy, hilly, out and back.  About a mile into the run, I had to turn around because I started getting sharp pains on the inside of my knee. By the time I got back to the house the pain had stopped, so I decided to keep going and try to finish the run. Another half mile and I turned around again cutting the run short. I'm optimistic that all I need is a little rest and extra foam roller time.

Now that my practice runs are complete, it is time to start obsessing about the weather, what to pack, and what I need to purchase. Good thing I ran in the dark because I learned that one of my blinking lights has died. (update: the light works. mrC found it flashing in the garbage can!)

Are you running Ragnar Cape Cod? Tell me your team name so I can look for you!
Are you running a different Ragnar Relay? Let me know which one!

Monday, April 28, 2014

I Wasn't Supposed to Run

Yesterday I ran the Newport 10 Miler. Ironically, this was a race I didn't think I was going to run. Back in February I found out I had to have surgery to remove some skin cancer and was told I would not be cleared to run in time. I tried to transfer my registration fee toward the Newport Night Run 5K instead. When that didn't work, I told oldestC that she could run with my bib (shhh, don't tell anyone!), but then she had to back out because of an injury. While getting my stitches out a few days ago, I heard the magic words, "no restrictions" and knew that everything happened for a reason!

As planned we met up with the girls prior to the race start. It was pretty easy to find everyone in their colorful tutus! It's always fun to run with friends, but even more to meet new ones. Nancy and I got to meet new ZOOMA Cape Cod Ambassador Jessica.

Bottom L Pic: Kathi, me, Janine, Jessica, and Nancy

My goal for this race was to run a 10 minute pace and take it easy. With more than 1200 runners doing the 10 miler, it was easy to take our time in the beginning because it was crowded. Some runners dart in and out and around like cars on the highway, but we just wait for things to open up. By the time we got to Ocean Drive, about mile 2, we had more breathing room to take in the awesome views.

I like to divide routes in my mind, so when we got to Bellevue Ave, in my head we had moved into phase 2 of the race. Instead of looking at the water, we were now surrounded by the mansions.

Phase 3 is the tough part of the Newport 10 Miler...the hills. They come late in the game, around mile 7.5 and last right up to mile 9. They roll right past the high school and my quads got very cranky running them this time.

Phase 4 is what I have named the longest last mile. Once you crest the last hill, you feel like you should be nearing the finish line because the start line area is in sight. Then you realize that the race ends inside Fort Adams and the entrance to the finish line is in the BACK. There are some awesome views to keep you company on that final stretch though.

Despite the traffic jam in the parking lot after the race, we plan to be back next year because this is a great race. It's a fundraiser, so there aren't a lot of frills, like medals and a big pre-race expo. There is a small goodie bag of treats from sponsors, (like a $20 coupon to Sports Authority) post race beer and snacks, and a simple yet awesome race tee.

What keeps you coming back to the same race?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Cleared to Run

I did not go to work today, even though I probably could've put in a half day. Instead, after getting my stitches out and being given the thumbs up to exercise (including run), I immediately headed home to lace up my Mizunos. My last run was an 8 miler with mrC over ten days ago, so when I saw this April Virtual 5K hosted by Sara, I knew it was the right distance for my first post op run.

STAY STRONG Foot Notes™ shoe charms from Momentum - 15% off code GGS158

I was nervous about the run. Even though I got the all clear from my doctor, I'm still sporting butterfly bandages that are supposed to be on for another week. For some reason, I kept imagining that my incision would bust open. It did not.

Neither did my run. It wasn't horrible, but I couldn't find my groove. My breathing was excessively labored and I started to get a side stitch just after the turn-around. I wanted it to be easier. I wanted to feel like I was just floating along. My mind told me it was a perfect day for running, 50 degrees and partly sunny, but my body was struggling to bounce back from the time off.

Tomorrow I will be heading to Newport with mrC for the Newport 10 Miler. I am so excited that I do not have to sit this one out like I thought I would.

with mrC after our 2013 finish!

Based on my run today, it won't be a stellar race (I plan to take it nice and easy), but it will be AWESOME to meet up with some of my favorite blends and fellow ZOOMA Cape Cod Ambassadors who are also running again.

2013 pre-race meet-up with Nancy, Jill, and Michelle

Still thinking of registering for a ZOOMA event? Use my discount code for 10% off CCAMB2

What are YOUR running plans this weekend?

Monday, April 21, 2014

We Run As One

It's a big day in the running world.

Today I am looking forward to cheering on ALL the runners. The one's I know. The Hometown Hero. The survivors. Those running for the victims.

Stay Strong runners.

Today the world is cheering for you.

I'll be cheering from New Hampshire.

Where will YOU be?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Yoplait Greek 100 Taste-Off

When Yoplait invited me to participate in the Yoplait Greek 100 Strawberry yogurt versus Chobani Simply 100 Strawberry yogurt, I couldn't resist. All across the nation, consumers have been taking part in this taste-off.

I saw the opportunity as a win-win for me. I love Greek yogurt and both brands are gluten free. Plus, I'm a sucker for good tasting snacks that come in 100 calorie packaging. GUILT FREE!! 

After recruiting youngestC to join me, we decided to set up a blind taste test for each other. The loyal hound volunteered to remain in the room to ensure 100% authenticity of the taste-off!

After careful consideration and multiple tastes, we both agreed that the Yoplait versus Chobani yogurt had a clear winner.

We both thought that Yoplait was definitely sweeter and clearly tasted like strawberry. Going into the Yoplait Taste-Off, I thought that I would prefer the Chobani. It just goes to show that I should grab a spoon and try new products more often!

This yummy 5.3 ounce cup of 100 calorie yogurt comes in 12 flavors and is available nationwide. Good thing because in a national taste test, Yoplait Greek 100 Strawberry beat Chobani Simply 100 Strawberry. To find Yoplait Greek 100 near you check out the Yoplait website.

So I've taken the Yoplait Greek 100 Yogurt #TasteOff, now it's your turn! Let me know what you think!

I want to thank Yoplait for sponsoring this taste test and allowing me to express my honest opinion.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fitness Friday: Stay Strong

Over the past year we have repeatedly heard the phrase Boston Strong. As runners, we have continued to find ways to Run Strong to show the world that you can't mess with the running community. As we get ready for an emotional Boston Marathon weekend, we are all looking for ways to Be Strong.

Lately I have been dealing with a knee issue that I learned on Monday is in fact a meniscus tear and today I am recovering from my successful skin cancer surgery. To start my one week of no running with my Boston Marathon running friends on my mind (like Dani, Sandra, Christine, Sarah, and Christy), I am focusing on a new phrase: Stay Strong.

Last week, Momentum Jewelry offered to send me a sample product. Momentum jewelry puts inspirational messages on Motivate Wrap™ bracelets and Foot Notes™ shoe charms. As soon as I saw the Stay Strong Foot Notes shoe charm, I knew it was meant to be.

I love that I can look down at my feet during a workout and see that message! Momentum Jewelry also makes Suede Cuffs, Necklaces, Headbands, and Earrings.

Momentum Jewelry wants to share some inspiration with you in your own Foot Notes™ shoe charm. These charms come in single shoe pendants or coordinated pairs like mine. In addition to entering the giveaway, from April 15 - July 15, you can use code GGS158 for 15% off your total website purchase.

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I was given the opportunity to review this product as part of the Girls Gone Sporty Network. All opinions are 100% my own.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

5 Tips for Running with your Dog {Giveaway}

My dog loves to run. It makes him happy. His favorite race is the My Dogs are Barking 5K.

Exercising with your dog is a lot like training for your next big race. You need to have a plan, the right tools, and be prepared to practice.

Just like there are apps for runners to use to plan and track activity, Purina has created Purina Pro Plan P5 App, a user friendly app that allows you to track your dog's activity, work on training goals, and see achievements.

Through the Purina Pro Plan P5 App you can also access training videos on a wide variety of topics including obedience, agility, running, and strength training.

Fueling is just as important for your dog's exercise as it is to your race training. Purina has launched Purina Pro Plan PRiME and ReFUEL bars that can be used pre and post-exercise to manage your dog's energy stores.

Booney really enjoys earning his treat.

Here are some tips for running with your dog from Dr. Brian Zanghi, a research nutritionist and one of the canine physiologists behind the development of the Purina Pro Plan P5 App:
  1. Consult Your Vet – Before you begin running with your dog, check with your vet to make sure they are in the proper physical condition and receive the proper nutrition for this type and level of activity.
  2. Start small – Begin your activity program with short walks, jogs and training sessions at fifteen minute intervals.  It’s important your dog understands basic commands to make activity time more enjoyable (the heel command is crucial). Dog owners can also download the P5 app for free to set exercise and nutrition goals, as well as access step-by-step instruction, helpful video demonstrations and insight from top Pro Plan trainers.
  3. Pick the right conditions – When possible, always choose to run on grass or a soft path, rather than pavement. This is not only easier on the pads of your dog’s feet, but it’s also less pressure on their joints and bones. If you have to run on pavement, make sure to check the pads on your dog’s feet both before AND after your run, for cuts or abrasions.
  4. Ensure your dog receives proper nutrition for exercise – Unlike humans, a dog’s main energy source comes from fat – not carbs. A diet higher in fat and protein will increase an active dog’s metabolism and his endurance during exercise. The Purina Pro Plan Sport line delivers fine-tuned nutrition to promote strength and endurance for dogs of all activity levels. And for highly active dogs, the Purina Pro Plan PRiME and ReFUEL nutritional supplement bars can be fed before (PRiME) and after (ReFUEL) exercise to deliver concentrated targeted nutrients that help optimize performance.
  5. Provide proper hydration – It is important to let your dog her have access to water at all times, especially during long walks or locations away from home.

Purina has generously offered to give two winners the chance to try the Purina Pro Plan PRiME and ReFUEL bars. Each winner will receive 4 PRiME and 4 ReFUEL bars. Enter for your chance to fuel your dog below.

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Disclaimer: I was sent samples of Purina Pro Plan PRiME and ReFUEL bars for the purpose of review.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Training Truths: It's a Struggle

The struggle with my crunchy knee problems continued last week. It's been a daily roller coaster of not knowing what my knee will feel like when I wake up.

Monday - This is a regular REST day for me, so I did some planks for the FitFluential #FFAprilAbs challenge and that's about it.

Tuesday - As soon as I woke up I knew something was wrong. My knee felt "puffy" and my crunchy was back to being painful with more intense popping. I called the doctor and he scheduled a MRI to get a better look. After school, I took some ibuprofen and iced.

Wednesday - Much improved knee conditions...almost like Tuesday never happened! Just crunchy, but no pain. Planks.

Thursday - My knee was still feeling good, so I went for a run. No problems during the 3.4 miles with mrC or when I played with the dog after.

Friday - Another REST day

Saturday - Planks. SurfSet, and 3 mile run downtown before heading to my MRI. Ironically my knee was SILENT most of the day. It felt weird to write crunchy knee on the in-take form when my knee wasn't being crunchy. More confusion...

Sunday - Headed to the trail for 8 miles with mrC. It was chilly when we left, so I changed into my Athleta capris (you can't tell in the picture, but they are actually BRIGHT coral!). About 1.5 miles in, the sun came out and I quickly regretted my decision. Thank goodness I wore a racerback. Other than that annoyance, it was a quiet and pain free knee day. Still confused...

Yes, I AM wearing pants ;)

This was my last long run for awhile. Although I've been helping mrC train for the Newport 10 Miler, I'm having surgery to remove some skin cancer and won't be able to run per doctor's orders. Ironically, that is how I would normally deal with the stress of having surgery.

How do you deal with struggles/stress when you can't run or exercise?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Training Truths: The Cortisone Fix

Since February I have been trying to figure out what the heck is wrong with my knee! After a knee cap adjustment, the pain went away but it has remained CRUNCHY.

Last week I finally heard the answer...patellofemoral arthritis. I knew this day was coming, after-all I have had two major knee surgeries. I just thought it would come later, much later.

Fortunately, the treatment plan seems to be working and I have been able to run and do almost all of my workouts pain free.

Monday - strength for runners workout

Tuesday - Visited the sports medicine doctor and learned through a series of X-rays that the crunchies in my knee are caused by patellofemoral arthritis. First step in the treatment plan was a ultrasound guided cortisone shot followed by 48 hours of rest.

Wednesday - Joined the FitFluential April plank challenge. Have you heard about the new plank form? According to this post on PopSugar, it seems that planking with your palms up will engage the core better and improve posture.

Thursday - My knee was feeling ok and with the beautiful spring weather tempting me, I laced up for an easy 5K to beach and back. My first post-cortisone run felt good. Still clicking & clacking, but better movement probably because the cortisone attacked the inflammation inside. Post-run planking with my buddy.

Friday - planks

Saturday - Planks before SurfSet class - where we did a ton more on the boards! For the third week in a row we stayed downtown to do our long run. It did not warm up as much as I hoped, but 50 minutes of sweating through urban surfing was an excellent warmup and the sun did eventually come out to warm our legs. Other than some uncomfortable downhills, my knee remained happy through both of these workouts.

Sunday - Planks and then I met up with Katherine for a morning Booty Barre class. It was much more crowded than the last time I was there (January) and in a new (somewhat) smaller space, but it was still a killer workout...seriously, it is really hard! I like this class because it's a good mix of old moves that you recognize and new moves that keep you interested. It's also awesome that there is a class on Sunday mornings!

Did you find any ANSWERS last week?

Friday, April 4, 2014

5 New Fitness Finds

Last month I was introduced to some awesome new fitness finds. Here is a brief overview of my favorites:

Smash Run -

This website was referred to me by the Assistant Principal at my school. Her 5 year old son is a fan. The site basically keeps stats for runners. It's simple to log your runs. I use Nike+ and it's hassle-free. You earn badges (great motivation) for various accomplishments. You can see how you compare to others - including friends who also use it. It gives you detailed feedback about your stats. Oh yea - it's free. If you like stats, but aren't into the chat stuff (like DailyMile) this might be the way to go.

Athleta Record Time Run shorts -

After wearing another brand for years, but craving a less baggy feel, these shorts have everything I want with less material without having to compromise on fit by down-sizing. They have all my favorite features...lightweight material, zipper pocket, and 2.5 inch inseam. The wrap-around seams add a flattering look.

Athleta - All Align Short -

I don't have many spandex-y type shorts for running, but have found that they are super comfortable during SurfSet and other strength/cross training classes. These are a little shorter (2.5 inch inseam) than other pairs that I wear, but they keep everything covered up and stay put. They're on sale for $19.99 and also come in purple and teal.

Under Armour Marbella Sunglasses -

It's hard for me to find a good pair of sunglasses that I can wear while I'm running. About half way through a run, they'll steam up making it difficult to see. I have tried several pair and so far only these that Under Armour sent me to try have worked. The fit feels good on my face and they don't make me feel hotter than I already am from running.

Albion Fit Go Long Crew

I love fitness gear that can transition to casual wear without looking like I just came from a workout. This long sleeve crew top, that I received from Albion Fit, is super soft and long-waisted just the way I like them. It's a perfect Spring choice. It comes in a variety of colors and I have a giveaway {here} happening until Sunday April 6. You can also receive 15% off your purchase with my discount code: escapade15

What fit gear have you discovered lately??

Disclaimer: I mentioned that I received some product for review purposes, but all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Albion Fit: Go Long Crew Giveaway!

You may have seen me hanging out repeatedly in the same blue long sleeve crew top lately.

When I first started seeing Albion apparel online, I was impressed with the feminine but sporty look. So, of course I checked them out. Albion is a family owned eco-friendly business focused on creating luxurious clothing for women on the go.

Because I love a comfy long sleeve top that I can wear casually or to and from SurfSet, I reached out to the company. They generously sent me their bestselling top: the Go Long Crew with thumb holes.

This top is everything they claim it to be: soft and lightweight, flattering in length, and versatile for any situation. It retails for $28 but you can get 15% off with my discount code escapade15 (good on any purchase through April 6, 2014).

Besides wearing it while hanging out around the house and as a cover up to SurfSet classes, the Go Long Crew is also perfect for my strength and yoga workouts in the cool basement.

Albion offers a wide variety of tops, bottoms, and swimwear - all with the same fitness flattering touch. Here are some others I would love to try of my favorites:

Giveaway: Enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to try an Albion Fit Go Long Crew!

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Disclaimer: Albion Fit provided the product for this review, but all opinions are my own.