Pin It! Party #1

Lindsay had this wonderful idea for a PIN IT PARTY, that alone sounds fun, where we write a post with five posts (of our own) that we’d love to see pinned on pinterest. Then link up on Lindsay’s blog and see some other posts!

Here are my 5

Flour’s Lemon Lust Bars

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Hands down the best lemon bar I have ever had or made.

Bake it in a Cake’s  Ultimate Birthday Cupcake

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This cupcake was labor intensive but the outcome was awesome and I loved everyone’s reaction.

Joy the Baker’s Cream Cheese Pound Cake

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I am not a fan of traditional angel food cake or bundt cake and I love that this can replace those items for a summer strawberry short cake

Mocha Protein Smoothie

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This smoothie is the perfect afternoon pick me up; cold, creamy and a little caffeine.

Gifts for runners under $100

 

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This was originally a Christmas post, but with lots of new runners starting in the spring and summer months, I thought this would be a helpful list!

Did you link up with the Pin It Party? What’s your favorite post lately?

 

Last race of 2012: Jingle Bell 5k

Moving and the holidays got away from me so I didn’t get the chance to blog about my last race of 2012.


Pro Compression and Team Sparkle Skirt to help me run fast!

I ran the Jingle Bell 5k, the same course as my first postpartum race.

I had taken a significant amount of time off after the half-marathon in October. As soon as I got back to Massachusetts, I had to pack up the rest of our condo and we moved to Connecticut temporarily. We had originally thought we’d only be there a few weeks, but as it always does, house process didn’t go the way we thought it would and we were in CT for six weeks. Most days it was too cold to take B for a walk (we had packed most of our stuff in storage including some stroller gear), so I ended up getting a temporary gym membership.

Again, life doesn’t go as planned, and after suffering a stint in the ER every workout was stopped when I felt my ulcer flaring up, it was frustrating, as I was getting into the groove with my run or weights workout I would start to feel pain and I would have to stop. I didn’t want to make the situation worse but I didn’t want to lose my momentum either.

As I was overall starting to feel better, we were moving back to MA. The first weekend back was my last 5K of the year. It is a great course and I was doing the race with friends, I was excited, and grateful for the ability to go blow off some steam during the middle of the move. I will admit I was nervous, I hadn’t done a real run outside in weeks, I hadn’t raced since October, and it was cold and windy that day.


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I met up with my friends and we took fun pics and watched all the fun costumes while we waited to start. The first mile was great, lots of crowd support, a bit of an incline, but I was able to keep my pace around 11 minutes, not bad for not racing in 2 months. The second mile was the worst, there was an insane amount of head wind and it was freezing. The saving grace was the local HS Girls Cross Country team manning the water station, they were yelling and screaming, it was hard to not catch their enthusiasm and smile. I definitely hit a mental block and when my hip started feeling off I took a few walk breaks, 90 seconds run 30 seconds walk, only until I got to the last hill. The course is near our old condo and apartment so I know the area. Once I got to the hill a group tethered together as reindeer carrying santa and a sleigh were close behind, I couldn’t let them beat me. So I picked it up and ran up the hill and took a small walking break at the top, and stretched out my hip. Then ran to the finish.


Crossing the finish line!

I PRed on the course by 5 minutes, and I am really excited by that.

So what is in store for 2013. Ideally I would love to complete 13 races in 2013. I ran 7 in 2012 and I only ran 2 between January and June. I can totally step it up. So far I have 2 half-marathons that I would love to run, one in May and one in September. Other than that I am open, what are your favorite races in the New England area?

Gifts under $100 for a New Runner

I won’t claim to be an expert runner, or an expert to what works for everyone, because we are all different, but I thought I would put together a little list of items for a new runner.

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I think its great to be supportive of the runner in your life, but running can be an expensive sport. Every item on this list is under $100. I will forewarn you now, I am not including any types of shoes, because the right shoe is so personal. I would give the runner a gift certificate to a local running store, one where they check gait and stride, not just a local store that sells sneakers. My favorite running store is Marathon Sports.

So here are a few of my favorites!

Lululemon Cool Racerback – $42

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I actually prefer the extra long length, although they no longer exist on the website… I hope that doesn’t mean they are getting rid of them. This is my favorite tank, hands down. It comes in a bunch of different colors and also is a flattering fit and cut. It is lightweight so you can use it as a base layer and not once have I had chafing issues.

Reebok Skinny Capri – $39.99

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I have these pants in black, black/pink and the gravel/teal. These are my favorite capris, especially for long distance runs. They fit on my hips and don’t ride up or down while I am running. They are also comfortable for every day wear. I love to wear dark bottoms, but love the pops of color. Although, unfortunately it looks like they aren’t making more of these. Check out the Play Dry Skinny Capri ($35), I have these also, and I do love them, I just prefer the above pair.

Pro Compression Marathon Sock – $50

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I’ve said it before and I will say it again, compression is KEY when recovering from running. Just because the name of the sock is marathon sock doesn’t mean they are only for marathoners. I have worn them after a tough 5 mile run, after a half-marathon and to bed before a race. The swelling and soreness is seriously reduced if not gone because of this. Just know that sizes aren’t based on shoe size, but the customer service is top notch and can help you out.

The Stick – Travel Size $27.50

Another key part to recovery is stretching and making sure your muscles are nice and loose. Again, this is personal preference, some prefer a foam roller others prefer The Stick. I have the travel size because I used to drive to my running group, I travel for a fair amount of race and I run at my in-laws. It’s easier for me to throw the travel size stick in a bag.

Sparkly Soul Headbands – $15 or $17

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I don’t think its any secret that I love these headbands. The colors are bright and the glitter doesn’t fall off, you know what I am talking about. They also work for thick hair, a blessing and a curse, no headbands would ever stay, except these! I love them so much that I sometimes accessorize non-running outfits with them. I prefer the thicker width, but that’s my personal preference.

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Kona Kase – $15 a month

You can read my review here, but this is a great way for new runners to test out new types of fuel and find what really works for them.

Yurbuds – Inspire $29.99

I have reviewed these also, but I have used them every single day since I got them. I have small ears and these never fall out and they don’t give me a headache. Bonus, you can hear noise around you.

ShowerPill Athletic Wipe – $16.50

Once more, I have reviewed this product, but it is great for those who are on the go, the hardest part of being busy is fitting in time for a workout and shower, with this you can delay your shower without offending those all around you.

What would you recommend for a new runner?

Disclaimer: No one has compensated me for this post all product reviews are my own.

Black Friday Deals

I hope all my American friends had a great Thanksgiving and all my other friends had a great Thursday!

I am sharing with you a few of my favorite companies that are having Black Friday deals!

SHOWERPILL

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You can read all about the product here, but here’s the nitty gritty. Go to Amazon, when you buy TWO (2) boxes , you get ONE (1) free! Put THREE (3) boxes in your cart and enter code: SPFRIDAY to receive the third box free. This Offer valid from 11/23/12 – 11/25/12, boxes are $9.99 each.

SPARKLYSOUL HEADBANDS

If you follow me on instagram, you’d see at least one photo of me in a sparklysoul headband once a week.

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The white (thick size) is one of my favorites!

You can get 20% off your ENTIRE order with the code BLACKFRIDAY, this deal is effective until 11:59 pm EST on Friday, November 23, 2012. The thin headbands are $15 and the thick headbands are $17.

NUUN

I can’t drink a lot of the sports recovery drinks out there because they are frankly just too sweet for me. I tried Nuun at the recommendation of another fellow runner. These are my go-to beverages for hydrating. You just put the tablet in your water, the suggestion is for 12 oz, I put mine in 24 oz.

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Their booth from the NWM Expotique.

A box of 4 tubes is usually $24.00, even more if you buy the tubes individually at your local sporting goods store. The box of four is $19.99 and the website is all set up, no promo code to enter.

This deal ends Tuesday, November 27, 2012 and is only valid for Nuun Hydration and Nuun All day.

PRO COMPRESSION

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wearing hot pink marathon socks post NWM

I am a huge proponent of compression socks, I wore these on the plane to the Nike Women’s marathon, I wore them to bed every night and on the plane home, and my leg soreness was typical of a long run. I have heard horror stories about runners flying post-race and having serious swelling and pain in the legs.

Also, the customer service is beyond great at Pro Compression, they will answer any questions, make sure you have the right size, etc…

The Black Friday deal is on the Marathon Calf Sleeve, it is usually $45 and is now $30. Compression can be expensive but is worth it, grab your pair now.

WHOLE FOODS

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Of course I had to include my favorite grocery store.

My friends at River Street sent me the ONE DAY SALE flyer. There are a lot of BOGO deals for you.

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You can get a ton of your Christmas or Holiday goodies on sale, Gingerbread House Kits, Candy Canes, Cider, Trees, Wreaths, etc…

So now you tell me, what companies that you love are having Black Friday deals?

El Potro Mexican Bar & Grill!

About a month ago one of our good friends came to visit us. We had tickets for the Patriots vs. Broncos game that Sunday, so we decided to start the weekend early with a nice dinner out.

Our friend, Tom, wanted a mexican restaurant and I had recently been to El Potro with my friend Casey for a weeknight dinner. The food was delicious and authentic and the drinks were strong, so I thought it would be a great place for our dinner.

When we got there the tiny dining room was PACKED, it was a bit surprising since the last time I was there, there was only one other table with guests. We took the last table and as soon as I sat down I noticed that there was a mariachi band playing, it was awesome. They took requests, and of course Nick (always the musician) asks about the different instruments and then requests something upbeat. It was pretty awesome, albeit a bit loud.

We started with a round of house margaritas, and they were strong, I was driving and could barely drink a 1/3 of it.

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We also had chips and salsa, the salsa came in these cute little carafes so that you could refill the ramekin on your table.

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note: the salsa was also delicious and tasted extremely fresh

We decided to get an appetizer, one to balance out the extremely strong margarita and two because I wanted to try a variety of things.

We started with the Nachos with shredded beef ($9.00)
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The also had lettuce, tomato, beans, shredded cheese and sour cream drizzle. Now I am not one to usually pass up nachos, but these were beyond your average nachos.

Whenever I usually get nachos the meat is usually dry and I will add salsa to make it taste better. The beef on these nachos was shredded and perfectly succulent and juicy. How you think nachos should be. I also really loved the sour cream drizzle, I hate when the sour cream (and salsa for that matter) are in a huge lump on top ant its hard to dig the chip in.

For my meal I decided to give the grilled chicken fajitas a try.

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Um, holy cow, look at all that food. For $14.95 I got grilled chicken in the secret marinade over a huge bed of sautéed peppers and onions (I am pretty sure they were still cooking when they brought my plate to me). I also received, lettuce, pico de gallo, sour cream, rice, beans and guacamole on the side and obviously tortillas.

I made two fajitas while there, and had the leftovers for lunches for 2 more days.

Nick had the Tacos Chipotle with peppers & onions, I had that the first time I visited and it was so delicious but so spicy, and I can’t handle spicy that well, but I would get this 1000x over.

Tom had the Carne Asada and also raved about it.

Sorry for the no pictures, the boys dug in before I could get photos

San Francisco: Day 3 – The Half-Marathon

Check out where I shopped and what I ate before you read about how I raced!

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It’s here, it’s finally race day. Decked out in my favorite reebok capris, sparkle skirt, lululemon tank, TNT tank and of course no outfit is complete without a sparkly soul headband or garmin ;)

I may have a big smile on my gave but I was a wreck. My sister made me coffee while I showered and dressed. I drank about half a cup and choked down an english muffin with some peanut butter. I met the rest of my Team In Training group in the hotel lobby, we took some group photos and headed to the start corrals together. I took a banana with me so that I could have something to eat, but ended up eating it before we left the hotel. We got into the corrals around 6ish, the race didn’t start until 7 am.

Let me start by saying, I did have race goals, ones that I kept to myself, the first was to finish and be happy, but what I really wanted was to finish in the same time as my first half or PR. So when I bird pooped on my head on Friday I thought, hey this race is going to be awesome and I am going to ROCK IT.

Unfortunately, this is not a happy tale. As I mentioned before we went to our start corrals about an hour before the race started and because it was such a large race and my corral was so far back, it took our group about 30 minutes to even cross the start line. I ended up starting my fuel earlier than I usually do.

The race started in Union Square and made its way down towards the Embarcadero and the Marina, Christine managed to find me in the crowd and I actually heard her, thanks for the encouragement! The first 4 miles were relatively flat and I was under my goal pace for those miles, but I still felt like I was not really pushing myself, I wanted some energy in the tank for the hard miles.

I made a bathroom stop around mile 3 and around mile 3.5-4 was the first big hill, but I just powered through it and got to the top, I saw my sister at mile 4…(sorry to anyone I sent this too, she took this pic at mile 4 NOT the finish line)

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I wish I had remembered to grab the extra fuel that I packed for her to take but I forgot, problem #2. I had my fuel around mile 4.5 – 5, these areas were fairly flat, I remembered that there were going to be shot bloks at the aid stations so I thought I would be okay. Mile 6 was were it started to take a turn for the worse. It was a winding hill that I thought was going to never end. I trained on some hills but they were nothing compared to this. I ended up power walking about halfway through, but I was starting to feel woozy at the top. I started walking when it flattened out and grabbed as much water and nuun as I could carry and hoped that I was dehydrated, but the fluid was not helping either. Around mile 8 a girl that I talked to earlier in the race noticed that I had slowed down, and maybe saw the desperate look on my face. She offered me a pack of sports beans, black cherry flavor, and I was so grateful, I wish I had caught her name or something, she saved me from a DNF, I am quite certain.

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This is what desperation looks like

I call mile 8 – 9.5 my dark miles. These are the ones I was alone and all I wanted to do was quit. It was an internal battle. I started secondary fuel way too late and I just wouldn’t be able to recover. Which meant walking the last 5 miles, I ended up on my feet for much longer than I ever had been before and that really hurt my knees and hips.

I was texting my sister and told her that she was going to have to wait longer than we had anticipated, but she was awesome.

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Honestly, I was not feeling it, I just wanted to finish. My time was 03:56:45, a full 38 minutes slower than my first half-marathon. I ran through the finish line, determined to have a smile on my face, it didn’t hurt that the commentators were discussing my awesome sparkle skirt over the speakers.

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FINALLY

I grabbed my necklace, finishers T, food and bag! I just wanted to eat and go shower, so I only stuck around long enough to snag the last long sleeved 13.1 finishers shirt.

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Caty and I hopped on to the TNT shuttle back to our hotel and showered & changed then proceeded to Boudin and Ghiradelli for my post-race treats, and unfortunately I forgot my ID so no post-race beer for me

TNT Update, PDR & DNS

It’s been awhile since I did a Team In Training update, 2 months actually, so I thought I would let you all know how the running is going. I also want to thank everyone who purchased a headband through my SparklySoul Fundraiser, I will be posting a video of the winner by the end of the week, if you already told me you purchased one that’s fine, if you haven’t then let me know.

In the past two months I have made a conscious effort to go into every run with a good attitude and mentality. The run may not end well, but I am far more unlikely to be grumpy at the end, regardless of the outcome.

My long run is now up to 9 miles! A new PDR (personal distance record) for me. Before training, the longest I had ever run was 5 miles and it was hard, and now I have run 9 miles. It was definitely hard, but I know that all the time and training I have been putting in is definitely paying off.

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Before my run with some of my favorite workout gear. Lululemon tank & socks, Reebok capris, Asics sneakers and of course a SparklySoul headband. I also didn’t realize how much pink I was wearing.

I have made our informal team track workouts a necessity for me. We do a different workout every week and I can see the improvement in my speed on my long runs. My breathing is more even and less labored, and the hills, while still tough, those are getting a tiny bit easier. My first 8 mile run only took 5 more minutes then my last 7 mile run, if that’s not improvement I don’t know what is.

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How I relax after a long run…compression socks, the pink strikes again.

With a PDR their has also been some bad runs and a DNS (did not start) and a shortened training run. Lets talk about the DNS first, I was signed up to run The Color Run, I decided not too. I am definitely bummed I didn’t run the race, but it was also important to me to run my first 8 miler and to do it with my team. I am sort of glad I didn’t run because there were A LOT of race issues, mostly because an accident shutdown major roadways and the point to point race relied heavily on shuttling.

I also recently had to cut an 8 mile run to a 5 miler, and a 5 mile run isn’t something to shake your head at, it is still a wonderful accomplishment, but I was a little frustrated, I had some stomach issues going on, and the humidity was insane, I drank 20 oz of water during my run and I still felt completely dehydrated.

Then of course the 9 miler, I went into the run feeling super confident and I was doing great, until mile 7.5. My lower back started aching and it was painful to run. My awesome coach walked with me, and every time we tried to run, it would be okay at first and then slowly the back pain would creep in again. I am going to try to add a banana to my morning routine, she said that might help. Have you ever had any lower back pain? What did you do? While these things certainly stink, I am also glad I am dealing with them now and I hope that I can get over them before the half!

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The rest of my Saturday was spent relaxing and hanging out with my two favorite guys. The little one was caught trying to steal daddy’s bagel.

I have to add, while I was reluctant at first to dedicate myself to Team In Training because of my own fears of finishing a half marathon or even the ability to run one, I am so happy that I have decided to run Nike with TNT. I have found a wonderful support system of runners, and strangers who have become friends, totally cliche but true. If you are on the fence I would highly recommend you at least try running with your local chapter!