Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday Favs

I haven't done one of these posts in a WAY long time so I figured I was due!!!  I love finding fun/awesome things out there and then bringing them to you!!  

Fall...Ok so unless you are in an area that sees Fall in it's glory, then I can only bring this to you in the form of pictures but Fall is here and it's beautiful!  I love being able to scoot out for a quick run during lunch from time to time to that I can really take it all in!
Our Fall...heck who am I kidding...our lives are so busy that I feel like the time passes and we haven't gotten to really take it all in!  I've been trying to get the girls outside for walks and really taking in the beautiful colors!

Wellcoin...My RW roomie Allie introduced me to the app Wellcoin and I have to say I love it just as much as this water bottle she gave me!!!  The app is super easy to use and can be used for so much.
How does it work?  You simply put in any activities/healthy habits (seriously there is tons of stuff that counts) and you get coins.  Each activity is a different value.  Over time you accumulate coins that can then be traded in for various gift cards or products from local vendors.  I have my eye on the Whole Foods gift card but there are other options depending on where you live.

Gone for a Run...When I was contacted by the folks from Gone for a Run to review one of their new Runner Girl Kali Tote, I jumped at the chance!  I love the products that Gone for a Run carry and honestly have been in the market for a new bag for work.  I need to carry notebooks, water bottles, various papers, and from time to time my laptop.
I have to say that not only is this bag super cute, but it also carries everything that I need it to!!  It has a small zip pocket inside for any pens or smaller things I need to bring and sturdy straps.  I love it!! This would make a great gift for the runner in your life!!

Block Island Organics...My face is a very fickle friend...I have stuck with the same products for many many years because of that.  That being said, I was knew about Block Island Organics before and had actually reviewed their sunscreen so I knew that my skin liked what they were including in their sunscreen.  They use all organic ingredients including avocado, olive oil, and chamomile.
I have been using this both in the morning and at night and I have to say that I really love the way that my skin has been soft!  Now that we are going into a time of year when it is so dry and the heat is blasting, I'm psyched to have this in my defensive!  A bottle retails for $29.99 for a bottle but you really only need a small amount.  From now until Nov. 5th you can use the code nancyc for 20% off at checkout!  Seriously try this stuff out!!

Name bibs...With a week of talking all things Runner's World, I of course had to include it in my favorites!  One thing that I have always joked about with my running friends is that I had a secret mission to run a race where my name was on the bib!  Well Runner's World pulled through!!!
I have to say they look very nice on the board in my classroom!!!  It's the little things really!!

ShowerPill...If you've ever worked out in the middle of your day or say ran a relay race you know how good it feels to have something to wipe the funk off so you can finish your day!  Lately I have been going on a RUNCH (Lunch run) a few times a week with a coworker and these ShowerPill wipes are a godsend!!
I can head out for a run and not feel super gross when I have to get back to the classroom to work with my students!!  You can score yourself 15% off by using the code WIPEDOWN at checkout!!  Do yourself...and your coworkers a favor and grab yourself a box!!

What are you loving this Friday???

Thursday, October 29, 2015

#RWHalf Day 4...The Half Marathon Hat Trick!

If you're just joining in the fun for the first time, you can find my recaps of Days 1-3 here, here, and here!  Go ahead and catch up...we'll be right here waiting!

With Pat Benatar still ringing in my ears, I woke up Sunday morning ready to run the half!  It was going to be a really cold start (well cold considering it has been in the 60s) at just 32 degrees so layering was key!
It was also game day so I had to represent!
We met up with the crew and made our way to the start line.  The half start was about a half mile away from the previous two races but they had gear check at both locations that again were very easy to navigate.  You could also use the bathrooms at the casino right next to the start line for a warm option and running water (just don't forget your ID)!

We seeded ourselves back a little bit knowing we intended on keeping the pace slower than normal and fun.  A short time later we were off!  It was great to see Deena Kastor and the Runner's World crew at the start line giving out high fives and dancing!  Definitely helped to set the fun mood for the morning!
We settled into a comfortable pace just under a 9 min mile and I mentally prepped myself for what I had been told was a very hilly course.  Yeah I'm pretty sure that all the prepping did nothing to describe the hills.  I remember saying to Dani at one point..."Remember that post I did about embracing the hills...yeah I take it back!"  The hills were steep...and long...and challenging.  I'm not going to sugarcoat that one for you!

However, the company made it doable.  We kept great conversation flowing, laughs and potty breaks when needed, and of course Dani's famous selfies!
I will say the spectators really made it a lot of fun too!  The people of Bethlehem really stepped up to the plate for this race!  There was great crowd support throughout the entire course and the water stops were well stocked and full of positive people.  Each stop had water and Ultima, the drink of the weekend.  Some spectators were handing our pretzels...some gave out Twizlers!  I even caught wind of one handing out donuts!!  They were a lot of fun and actually made the miles fly by...even though we were climbing so many.  There were times I looked at my watch to check how we were doing and flat 8s were showing up!  So much for taking it easy...but it felt great and we were having fun!  A quick stop to high five the Aardvark and get a skirt from the Running Skirt ladies and we were back at it climbing and selfieing (yeah that's my new're welcome!) all through the town!
We did plan an epic finish line photo which everyone did Dani's signature finish line leap but sadly no photog got evidence of it!  We had a blast and I honestly felt awesome at the end.  We finished in 2:02...even with a couple of group potty breaks and selfies along the way!
We didn't spend a ton of time at the finish line.  We said our goodbyes and thank yous to Brian from Altra and headed back to the hotel to clean/warm up and grab something to eat before our shuttle left for the airport. I also said goodbye to my amazing and inspiring roomie!!!  She's headed to NYC this weekend and she is going to ROCK it!!!

These Feetures compression socks saved the day!!!  Kept my legs so happy!!  I was ready though to hug my family!!
Lounging in the airport I tried to wrap my head around the whole weekend.  There are still things that I'm still thinking through in my head...amazing people and many words of encouragement and wisdom...certainly a chance of a lifetime!  I certainly don't know how I got on Runner's World radar but wowzer am I glad I did!!!  I'm so thankful for the opportunity to have experienced this weekend. Many thanks to David Tratner and Runner's World crew and Altra for an amazing experience!!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

#RWHalf Day 3...Five and Dime Time

Rolling right into Day #3...The Five and Dime!!  If you missed my last two updates you can hear all about Rodale and Bart Yasso, as well as my first trail race with Altra!

After the trail race we headed back to the Arts Quest building for the expo and to pick up our numbers for the rest of the week.  I may or may not have chatted it up with Deena Kastor as her adorable girl got ready for the kids race!  We cheered her on and off she went!  The expo was just the right size...enough vendors to have most of what you could need but not too big that it was overwhelming!

Since we were doing the Hat Trick (5k, 10k, and half) we had one number for all (and another bib with my name on it---score!) and some fun swag (a winter hat with a ponytail hole--love--a long sleeve tech shirt, and a pair of Balega socks).  I ended up having my ankle taped up by the fabulous KT ladies just to make sure I wouldn't have to deal with it during the races (and a good excuse to meet and talk with the fabulous Sarah @lilmac2442).  Then it was time to grab dinner and head to bed!
From Sarah's pic after the half!
The next morning was crisp to be kind...winter is breathing down on New England in that creepy "I'm coming for you" way and even us New Englanders were not ready for it!  There were plenty of indoor bathrooms at the start line (sweet!) and a very easy bag drop.  Many layers later we were lined up for the 5k!  Bart was ready with his bike to lead the way!

While my roomie and a few others headed to the front in order to "not race", I hung back with Dani and crew knowing that in order for this Hat Trick to go well and have fun, I needed to be with her! She's done it before and knows how to do it right if fun is the name of the game!
The 5k was a little hilly but nothing compared to the rest of the races.  I haven't run a 5k in so long but since we weren't racing this one I was more than happy to let others set the pace and have fun cheering everyone on!  I may or may not have screamed wicked loud every time I saw my roomie Allie!
Oh yeah no biggie here...I'm going with my cheering helped Allie along to win the trail, 5k, and 10k in Masters...I told you she was legit!!!
A selfie at each mile marker later and we sprinted towards the finish to get in under 30 min!  I honestly had more fun than this very unflattering picture reflects!
We had about an hour to head back into the Arts Quest building, warm up, and gear up to run the 10k.
Same mission...have fun and take selfies...including one with Runner's World Editor-in-Chief David Willey who we also sang happy birthday to!

I really had a blast!  This was the first time I hadn't gone into a race and actually raced it, with the exception of a few 5ks that I helped friends and family complete.  I just went out and experienced all that there was there to take in of the town of Bethlehem and the unique features of the Runner's World race.  I will go into it more tomorrow when we wrap it up with the half marathon but I think it was a great way to experience a race!

After the 10k, we headed back to the hotel to shower and rest a bit.  We had a big night which included a pasta dinner with the Runner's World staff (seriously more amazing food!) and a talk from Ted Spiker author of Big Guy blog and the book DownSize and creator of the Sub 30 Club.  There were many of the club members at the dinner and it was really nice to meet them and talk about their goals.  It really sounds to me like an amazingly supportive group.  You can find them on Facebook!
After dinner we headed over to the casino.  Some of the crew were game to gamble a bit but the smoky air and my frugal thoughts kept me from staying.  A group of us were headed back to the hotel when we stumbled upon a club...featuring Pat Benatar live in concert!  As only would happen on this type of weekend, the bouncer had 6 extra tickets and before we knew it we were jamming out to an acoustic Pat and her husband!
Let's be honest here....Kristin, Larisa, and Karla were really the ones officially jamming in the whole place!  It was certainly fun and a night of unexpected happenings!!  Just what we needed before running a half marathon!!!  Stay tuned....

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

#RWHalf Day2....Hitting the Trails

Welcome back for another installment of my Runner's World Half and Festival adventure!  Last week I gushed about our trip to Rodale and getting started in this journey.  Today is all about the trails!  I am the first to admit that I am not an avid trail runner.  In fact, when I spoke with the Altra booth after the trail run about some foot pain I was having it was decided that in fact it was not the shoes and more the fact that I run trails about once a year!  So grab your coffee and settle in for our trail adventure!

Up again bright and early Friday morning to pile into the vans for our first full day.  We made our way to South Mountain Park where we met with Bart and the people of Altra.  For those of you who are new to the brand Altra have no fear because I have a post all to itself about the amazing things they are literally cooking up there in Utah, but Friday Golden, Brian, Jeremy, and Colleen met us on the trails for a quick morning talk and run through some of Bart's favorite paths.
We stopped from time to time to talk about new products coming in 2016 (stay tuned) and about the scenery around us.
It was a good way to get my feet wet in the whole trail thing but definitely not for the burning lungs that came later that day!
We headed down to the vans and to the Altra booth at ArtsQuest where the expo and the race's other events were being held.  With Bart leading the way we took a slight his house...and inside!  Yup certainly just one of many "Is this really happening?" moments of this weekend!
His house is fabulously eclectic...just like him with memorabilia from races and his world travels including a leg lamp from The Christmas Story to old bikes hanging from a tree in his front yard!

The rest of the morning took place at the Altra booth.  We heard from Golden about the creation of Altra shoes and where their passion comes from as well as what products are coming for 2016...let me just tell you it is WICKED cool!! (more to come on this!!)
Bud Coates, accomplished marathoner (He has completed a marathon each decade for 5 decades straight!) and author of Running on Air, gave us breathing techniques and even took us outside to practice it....I have to admit though that once I got out on the trail course it was more gasping for air instead of the great techniques that he showed us.
We had a quick running clinic with Golden with 4 important things to remember when running so that we can have good form and be using our bodies to their capacity!

  • Proud posture...what Colleen coined "Think like a guy, lead with your fly!"  Chest is out and you bend at the ankles.  As you get tired you can raise your arms and "Shoot the moon" to regain your posture.  Be sure to always engage your core while running.
  • Compact arm movement....we are not swimmers and as distance runners we don't need to be swinging our arms all over the place.  2-3" of movement is enough!  Elbows stay behind your torso to help with the proud posture as well as to keep you from over striding.
  • Soft relaxed landing...he really didn't emphasize where you are landing as long as it is relaxed and you aren't over-striding.  Use your legs like a spring!
  • The last being quick cadence.  You can do cadence checks during your run by taking a 20 second count of your right foot landing.  I was around 30 which equated to around an 8 min mile...just about right!
After running clinic we were rightfully starving, so we headed over to the Steel Stacks for lunch with Deena.  Now I've already gushed about Deena (I still have more to share but I'm still processing), but what I didn't tell you was how fabulous the food was!

The meal came from the new Runner's World cookbook "Meals on the Run" which consist of 150 healthy and delish recipes that take just 30 min start to finish!  My kind of recipe!!  We even got to chat with Runner's World senior editor Meghan who actually just got herself qualified for the Guinness book of World Records for the fastest marathon as a female dressed like a fast food item...she was a hot dog!!

After all this fun and amazing food it was time to....OH MY WORD...RUN!  We headed for a quick change of clothes before heading back up to South Mountain Park for the Altra 3.8 mile trail run!  I laced up my new Altras and was ready to hit those trails!
Let's just say I was relieved after the race when I heard someone say that it was a technical course which for me meant it was wicked hard!!  I didn't want to go all out knowing I still have 23 miles left to run during the weekend, but having never run a trail race before I definitely heard my Garmin beep after the first mile and thought to myself, "SERIOUSLY that's it?"!  The race led us up some serious climbs which I didn't was the downhills that had me shaky!  I will admit I had my fair share of twisted ankles and more than enough swears mixed in...sorry mom...but once we headed out of the woods and down to the finish I was feeling awesome!!  Thankfully Dani stuck with me so I had some company!

I really did love the experience of running trails.  I know that once you drink the Kool-Aid you are hooked but I'm not ready to ditch the road just yet for a life of ultras on the trails!  I loved being in the woods and around nature...the slower pace is something to get used to but safety and not drawing blood were my two top goals!  Overall it was an awesome way to kick off our weekend of running...and I think this picture says a lot about my experience!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Monday Motivation

There is nothing at all wrong with sticking with what works for you.  Whether it is your running routine...workout schedule...whatever it may be if it is giving you what you need then stick to it!  However if you want to change...if you want to push and pull yourself to a new limit, a new normal then it has to challenge you.  It will not change you unless that challenge is there.  Many times it's the challenge that causes us to back away.  I'm encouraging you if you are staring down that challenge and deciding whether or not you can do it...lean into it!  Let that challenge whatever it may be, change you!!!

Friday, October 23, 2015

A Date with Deena

To be perfectly honest I had a completely different post ready for today.  I was going to recap my trail running adventures of this past weekend with Altra.  However, as the week passed and I read more and more things on social media, this post was weighing heavier and heavier on my heart. This morning in the shower, why is it I do my best thinking in the shower, I knew I was going to change things up.

This weekend was filled with moments which Dani coined, "Stars like us" from those US Weekly pages...
Our lunch with Deena Kastor was no different.  She eats bananas before a run just like us.  She drinks while she's training and celebrates with all the salty things after a race just like us.  She has moments of doubt during her races just like us.  She looks over her shoulder at her competetor and says, "Oh shit" just like....ok well I've never won a race so probably that is where it ends!
We had a great conversation with Deena about her races and running adventures.  She spoke candidly about not really knowing her records (Her husband is the number guy) and about eating a banana before races because that's "what runners are supposed to do"!  I had a question burning though in my mind and heart that I asked Deena.  "How have you change as a runner now that you are a mom?"

I knew from reading articles and from watching Deena with her daughter over the weekend that this little girl was her world!  I also knew that Deena has done amazing things since becoming a mom so I wanted to know how things changed for her if they did at all.  She shared about her daughter being a hard baby and how she would walk and rock her for long periods of time to get her to sleep (A trick I know all too well since I logged many a miles on my treadmill with our babies in the Bjorn).  She shared about how she takes days off when her daughter is sick and like everyone worries about her training but knows her place is with her daughter.
But honestly and truly the part of our lunch with Deena that stuck out to me and still holds a place in my heart was when she shared a story about not doing well in a race not long after Piper was born.
She sat down and started to cry because in her heart she had failed....She felt she had failed as a mom and failed as a runner.  I don't think there was a mom in the room that didn't know exactly the feeling she was talking about.  Here is this woman who holds the record for the only American woman to run a sub 2:20 marathon and not many days earlier had broken the master's record for the marathon felt like a failure....just like me.
There are a lot of balls I keep in the air constantly on a daily basis...wife, mom, teacher, sister, daughter, friend, professor, runner but I will admit that there are days when I drop a few....and there are days even weeks when I feel like I've dropped them all.  Lately I have felt like the moment I get a few going, they all tumble to the ground.  Hearing Deena Kastor say this...saying she has felt this way...seeing her cry about loving more than one thing so much and then feeling like you've failed them both...made me feel normal.  For the first time I didn't feel like I had to give the illusion like I had this all wrapped up in a nice neat bow all the time.

Whether you are a mom that works out of the house...or has her own business...or is a say-at-home are not alone.  We ALL feel like a failure from time to time.  We ALL have moments when we slip away to the bathroom and cry.  We ALL have those moments and you are NOT alone! Those words from Deena Kastor were exactly what I needed to hear and while I'm still processing them, I know that it will be alright!  I may not be headed for Olympic medal greatness but I'm a mother runner just like Deena and things will be ok!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Runner's World Half and Festival Part 1...Rolling Through Rodale

To try and sum up this past weekend in just one post would not do it justice.  Nor would it give credit to the people who made it such a memorable chance of a lifetime!  Before I begin my recap of this experience I really do need to thank my husband for graciously letting me go and leave behind him with our two girls.  He held down the fort juggling school pick-ups and soccer games along with all the chaos that goes along with having two young girls while I was gone and I appreciate his sacrifice and support.  I recognize that I ask a lot by running and racing often and I'm thankful for his support.

Day 1 began much like every day at our house except instead of packing up the ladies and heading off to work, I grabbed my bags and headed on my way to Boston to Dani's house so that we could fly out together!  Thankfully I left early enough because Boston traffic is anything but predictable and I was staring at this for quite a while...

Really I planned it well...the extra time gave Dani the time to finish her run (she is just days away from hitting her 365 mark of her run streak!).  Got a few things settled and off we were to the airport!

Thankfully Dani was there since the last time I flew was when I was pregnant with my oldest 7 years ago....yeah a few things have changed!  Seriously need to wear less layers when flying!!!

It seemed that ever since we touched down in Philly, we were off like a rocket!  We met up with Heather from Relentless Forward Commotion and Jen from Running with the Girls, piled into our car, and then spent the next hour drive to Bethlehem laughing and chatting with excitement for the weekend ahead!
After we met our roommates (Mine was the fabulous Allie from Vita Train for Twin Life-I will gush about her more later but this girl is legit!), checked out our amazing swag bags from our sponsors...
and of course met up with other bloggers to bond, we were headed to Runner's World Headquarters at Rodale to meet up with the mayor Bart Yasso and get fitted for our new Altra shoes from the owners themselves!!  Ok I'm getting ahead of myself!

We piled into the vans and headed over to Rodale where we were greeted by Bart...and the pinch me now moments started!  The fabulous people at Rodale had an awesome cookout for us (Yes we were given the best food this weekend...if only they could have followed me home!)
Complete with s'mores which I made with Deena Kastor's daughter Piper...we are totally BFFs now! She actually kicked my butt in the s'more making business!  At age 4 she is serious about her s'mores!
Golden Harper (stay tuned for more about the Altra folks and things coming your way soon!) was there to fit us for our own pair of Altras!
I opted to try out the trail shoe since I have never had a pair of trail shoes before and well...why not!? We were slated to run a trail race the next day so why not at least look the part!?
I tagged the wall at Rodale (clearly they need a little Fancy Nancy in their lives) and we were headed off for a tour of the offices there led by Bart!
One thing that is crystal clear about the Rodale company and their offices is that they value an active and healthy lifestyle.  From the room of bikes with some impressive models(instead of lunch hour you can go for a ride) to the various equipment sprinkled around the building (treadmill desk...spin bike which Bart uses while he is reading articles), it is clear that they are all about the active life!

We were able to catch a glimpse of the latest edition...don't look too close...and meet some of the amazing people that make this place tick.  Most of them we would see again at all the races!

Of course we had to see Bart's office which I must say looks a little familiar....
Yeah except Bart has bibs from places like Antarctica and mine are from Edaville Railroad!
A whirlwind day for sure but little did I know it was just the beginning....stay tuned for day 2 when we took it to the trails!