Rock CF Rivers Half Marathon Race Recap

Wow, it’s been a month since I updated you guys on anything, basically right before I hopped on a plane to Detroit to run the Rock CF Rivers half marathon.  This is my second time running this race, the first time being in 2014. I absolutely LOVE this race. It’s not only for a cause near and dear to me, but overall, it’s just really well run and a total family affair, which I love.  So, here is my Rock CF Rivers Half Marathon Race Recap.

On Saturday, a team of 13 of us boarded a plane from Boston to Detroit, landed, grabbed a few rental cars, dropped our stuff at the hotel and headed to pick up our bibs before the expo closed.  It was super quick to check in, get our bib numbers, our race shirts (below in blue) and we met up with Emily, who created the event and runs the foundation Rock CF (in gray). She is this tiny, ridiculously amazing force of nature who sheds light and humor to everyone around her.  We talked with her for a while and then took a team picture with her and her nieces and nephew–aren’t they adorable?

team vertex

After buying Ashton and myself new Rock CF shirts, we went out for a quick, but yummy team dinner and got back to the hotel early so we could rest.  Here is my flat runner the night before.

rock cf outfit

I went to bed early and ended up getting up really early on race day and had plenty of time to have breakfast, get dressed and meet the Vertex team to head over to the race around 6:30 am.  I was a bit nervous because of the flight the day before and that fact that I spent most of that day not drinking any water, so I spent much of the morning hydrating.

We arrived at the race start and thankfully, was able to keep warm in the high school gym since it was FREEZING outside. We were able to mingle and get a team picture with Emily right before the race started and before everyone broke off.  This was the first year that there was not only a 5k and half marathon, but a half marathon relay, which was a really cool option for a few of our team members.

IMG_3598

I had resigned myself before even getting on the plane to the fact that I was likely not going to PR this race.  While I completed my training plan exactly as prescribed, I was just not feeling as strong as I had hoped I would.  Going into training my goal was to run in the 1:40’s, but I just knew I wasn’t able to do that for this race.  I was mostly okay with that and reminded myself that not every race can be a PR and that this is much more about supporting the cause than getting a PR.

My friend Lindsay and I decided we would run together and stay with the 1:55 pace group.  This felt really doable for me, with not such a hard effort on my part.  This was Lindsay’s first half, so I was excited to run and experience it with her.  This was also the first year of offering pacers, which I personally love!  Before the race started, we ran to the bathrooms and then we started to line up with the rest of the half marathoners.  It was COLD out, like 20 degrees cold and SO windy. I am glad I brought my gloves and hat because I could barely feel my fingers!

The gun went off and we crossed the starting line.  We were right next to our pacer for the first mile and a half and then I felt it….I had to pee.  Not like, oh, I can hold it until the race is over, a….holy shit, I need to find the quickest port a potty.  I definitely over-hydrated, something I have never done before while running. I have never once had to stop during any kind of run or race before to pee.

Thankfully there was a port a potty at mile 2, so I told my friend Lindsay to keep going and I would catch up with her.  I thought this would be a minute process.  There was one person in the stall and one in front of me waiting.  I was stopped for almost 6 minute…yes, you read that right SIX FREAKING MINUTES…DURING A RACE?!?  My anxiety level escalated at each second ticking by.  I was so frustrated but knew there was no way I could run and make it to the next port a potty, so I was stuck waiting.  When it was my turn, I peed in record time and was off and running.

To say I was annoyed is an understatement but I raced as fast as I could ahead, trying to catch up to the 1:55 pace group and my friend Lindsay again.  I knocked off a few miles in the low to mid 7’s and knew I needed to slow down.  At this point, I knew I wasn’t going to catch up to my friend, 6 minutes was just too long of a time to catch up.  I was also kicking myself for such a rookie mistake of trying to speed up really fast, because I definitely felt it in the latter half of the race. I end up having to walk through all of the water stops and walked for about 20 seconds five or six additional times because my calves were cramping so badly.  There were many times during the last part of the race where I wondered if  I was even going to make it in under two hours and I was devastated.  I know that 2 hours is a respectable time and that I wasn’t going to PR this race, but for some reason, the thought of running a 2+ hour half made me want to cry. Thankfully, I finished with a time that was respectable (to me.)

post race

final rock cf time

I don’t know if the almost 6 minutes I waited at the porta potty or the 2+minutes that I spent taking walking breaks would have equated to an end time 8 minutes faster, getting me that PR in the 1:40’s, but I definitely know that I would’ve done better than what I did if it wasn’t for the bathroom stop but I suppose, it doesn’t really matter because that isn’t what actually happened.  After the race, we waited for everyone to finish and took some team pics at the finish line with our medals.

IMG_3600

IMG_3601

Quickly after this, we all piled into cars and ran back to the hotel to shower and get to the airport for our flights back home. It was a whirlwind trip that lasted less than 24 hours!

All in all, the Rock CF Rivers Half Marathon is a GREAT race for an even better cause.  I had a really fun time with some of my co-workers and I am happy that I had the opportunity to run it again and look forward to doing it in the future!

—————————————————————

Question of the day

Have you traveled by plane to a race before? If so, what race?

Did you watch the Boston Marathon on Monday? Thoughts?

 

 

2015 run stats and Run the Year 2016

Hi friends–happy Wednesday!  How’s the week going so far?  Did anyone else get snow last night?  Is Old Man Winter here to stay?  We shall see!

So today, I want to talk number.  I like numbers, metrics, stats.  They can help ground you in what is happening–and I use them almost daily at work to make important business decisions.  However, while numbers are important, they don’t always tell you the entire story.  For example, Daily Mile sends out this great end of year wrap up on your miles, number of runs, etc.. Do, here are my 2015 run stats:

2015 running summary

I like seeing the conciseness of this report, total miles, workouts, mileage by month, its simple and straight to the point, but what is this REALLY telling me other than numbers?  This didn’t show that I participated in two separate 8 and 12-week fitness challenges that focused on heavy strength training and little (non running) cardio that made me a lot stronger than I have been in years.  It also didn’t show that this is the first year since I started running in 2010, I didn’t end up in PT for injuries.  Is that because I was a lot stronger? Because I didn’t run as many miles? Some other reason? I don’t know, but again…numbers only tell part of the story. HOWEVER—they are a great start for bench marking.

I actually didn’t think my miles would be too high this year. First, I didn’t sign up to run a race until the end of September.  If I’m not signed up for a race, I’m not following a training plan, which means I am just going out for leisurely runs with not much focus.  There is nothing wrong with this, it actually was a nice change of pace for me for a while, especially when work was crazy. Just being able to go for a run, however short or long I wanted to, was great for my sanity.  However, for me, it doesn’t lend itself to racking up signficant milege.  Again, this was fine since I wasn’t training for anything and had no need to hit a certain weekly mileage.

I had also made a conscious decision to decrease the number of days I was running because my body just wasn’t handling the running stress well in 2014 (I have seriously terrible calves.) I also decided to spend more of 2015 focusing on building strength since I was no longer teaching my beloved Group Power classes.  I loved the two strength challenges I did, it pushed my limits in a different way than running does and I felt stronger and more confident.  That counts for something, right?  

So, I wasn’t at all surprised that my mileage wasn’t as high as in some other years.  However, I have some new goals for 2016….

My awesome fellow toddler Mama, reading, running, and all around awesome friend Christen asked if I would be interested in running the year with her (and a few other Moms.) Since I wanted a running goal (and some races) to log more miles this year, I said, sure, why not.  So we signed up for Run the Year 2016, came up with our team name 2016 Child Free Miles (#2016CFM) and are logging our miles.

My main goal with this challenge is to run 1,000 miles in 2016. As much as I’d love to run 2,016 miles on my own, my body just doesn’t allow that kind of mileage, so I think 1,000 is more doable–but who knows if this is feasible. It works out to about 3 miles a day, but I can’t run everyday, so we will see how this all plays out. I’m training for a half marathon in March so getting my mileage in now is pretty easy…I just follow the plan!  I am signed up for an 8-10 mile adventure race in August and I have my eyes on a few other races throughout the year.  If they fit into our family schedule, I would like to do them…but all of that is up in the air.

I think it’s good to have goals, but I am also not going to beat myself up about them.  I was TERRIBLE at balancing work, fitness and family last year (and that is a major focus of mine this year that comes ahead of anything else I am doing) so we will see how the pieces fall–wish me luck! 🙂

—————————————————————

Question of the day

Anyone else doing the Run the Year challenge? Other fitness goals? Life goals?

2015 Worcester Jingle 5k {Race Recap}

Hey friends…I’m back with my 3rd race recap of 2015!  It’s kind of funny to me that I didn’t race all year and then since September I have run 3 races!  I guess like everything, racing ebbs and flows for me.

Anyways, I was signed up to run the 2015 Worcester Jingle 5k road race last weekend with my friends Michele and Amy. We all ran the race last year and it happened to be my 5k PR race (22:17) so I kinda felt like I should run it again this year. I had picked up my race packet on Saturday morning after Ashton’s soccer practice so I was ready to go.

race number

I felt pretty terrible all day and ended up taking a nap (something I NEVER do) and later in the afternoon I had texted the girls that I had a migraine all day and was unsure about how I would be feeling the next morning for the race but I would let them know as soon as I woke up on Sunday.

Well, I woke up on Sunday with a low grade headache and when I went to check my phone, Amy wasn’t feeling well and wasn’t going to run, so I felt bad that Michele would have been all alone so I took some pain meds, ate some breakfast and sucked it up and went to the race.

I was glad to see that when I got to the race, Michele talked Jay into running with her (and their crazy dog Chloe) so she wouldn’t be alone running.

michele and jay

Aren’t they adorable all dressed up? Even though I don’t dress up for races (it’s just not my thing), I loved seeing everyone in their festive holiday outfits.  There were tons of Santa hats, Christmas pajamas, candy cane striped socks and tights. There was even someone who ran the entire race as a gingerbread man–that is some serious dedication!

We have been having unseasonably warm temps here in MA, like in the 50-60’s which is CRAZY for the end of December, but of course on the day of the race it was SO freaking cold (low 30’s and WINDY) I ended up wearing 3 layers, my hat and gloves and while I was a bit nervous I would be too hot once we got going (like my recent Turkey Trot), the wind was whipping around and kind of brutal, so I am happy to say that I was perfectly dressed–which rarely ever happens to me!

Michele and I took a quick picture and then I jumped into the corral with a few minutes to spare, turned on my Garmin and music and waited for the gun to go off.

michelle and i

I had absolutely no expectations for this race given how I had been feeling.  I was bummed because I would have loved to try and get close to my time from last year, but I knew that wasn’t in the cards for me that morning.  So, once I made it through the first mile of crowds, I settled into a comfortable pace and enjoyed my playlist.  I will say the course leaves a lot to be desired, it is really a terrible and un-scenic (did I just make that word up?) so I kind of just zoned out. I didn’t even look at my Garmin until I hit stop as I crossed the finish line.  I ended up coming in at 24:05 according to my watch and was just under the 5k distance, which means I ran the tangents well,which is something I have been really trying to do better at races.

me

The final race results came in and they had me at 24:03 (7:44 per mile) and 97th finisher out of 699 runners.

race results

Even though I didn’t PR, I’m still really glad that I got out there and ran and I am beyond happy with the time given how I had been feeling! I was totally not expecting to be anywhere near this time. I think there is something to be said about running by feel too, I always do way better when I run by feel vs. by constantly looking at my Garmin…anyone know why that is??? 

And finally..because I cannot take a good race pic for the life of me..here are some for some laughs!

Jingle 5k (2)

 

Jingle 5k (1)

HA! At least I can laugh at myself, right? 🙂 That’s it folks, my 2015 Worcester Jingle 5k race recap! Let’s see if I run more than 3 races in 2016!

—————————————————————

Question of the day

Who has raced recently? How did it go? Pointers on how to take a good race pic?

SKORA PHASE Shoes {Product Review}

A while back I posted on social media a picture of a new pair of SKORA PHASE shoes I bought and I had lots of questions from readers and friends about my beautiful new shoes and whether I liked them, etc.
skora phase

I wanted to do a review a while ago, but posting lately has been light given the craziness at work and summer, vacations, etc. so while I am home with a sick, napping Ashton, it was the perfect time to actually write my review. Also, I’ve been wearing these shoes now 3x a week for 3 months, so I feel extra confident in the review I am about to deliver because we are far past the honeymoon phase of a new shoe and they are still exceeding my expectations.

First, a little background on SKORA.  SKORA Running is a running shoe company based in Seattle and they have been around since 2012. They make minimalist zero drop running shoes known for their anatomical fit–a foot-like design with negative flare and a curved platform, that provides runners the opportunity to run “natural.” SKORA calls it  “Run Real” –and if you are interested (it’s pretty cool) you can read more about it here.

I happened across these shoes accidentally, but I am SO glad I did.  I was in the market for a great minimalist shoe that I could use while lifting since I was using an older pair of running shoes and just wasn’t feeling the ground contact like I wanted to while squatting.  The SKORA PHASE shoes popped up in a marketing email to me and it was love at first sight.  I mean, these shoes are GORGEOUS. The colors are amazing and I started reading up on them.

“PHASE is constructed using the latest lamination techniques, with a minimal single-layer mesh upper and laminated reflective details. With an asymmetric lacing system and unique IBR outsole, PHASE provides maximum performance with minimum weight and interference. Zero-drop, 11mm stack height.PHASE is built on our revolutionary IBR (Injection Blown Rubber) platform. R02 pushes the boundaries of material technology. IBR offers better abrasion resistance, grip and compression-set than injected EVA with lower density and weight than rubber. This provides a runner with incredible ground feel and running comfort in an amazingly durable, flexible and lightweight complete package.”

Some Key Features:

– 5.8 oz / 163 g
– REALFIT™ last
– Airmesh upper
– Laminated reflective overlays (no-sew)
– Asymmetrical lacing
– Anti-slip microfiber heelpad
– No-tongue design
– Reflective details
– IBR (Injected Blown Rubber) outsole
– Rubber toe bumper
– Zero-drop construction
– Stitch-down construction
– 11mm Forefoot/heel stack height
– 3mm removable Antimicrobial insole

When these shoes arrived, I ripped open the box and the online pictures didn’t do these beauties justice, they are just so bright and GORGEOUS! I love bright colored shoes and these are the best looking workout shoes I have ever owned (those silver stripes are reflective)! I immediately put them on and modeled them for Ashton and Robyn.

skora phase 2

First thing first, these shoes are LIGHT–the lightest shoes I have probably ever held with the exception of flip flops.  They are flexible and when they are on, you really feel that your feet are connecting with the ground.  I love the laces and the gripping on the heel is awesome, especially when I am squatting on the gym floor. I really felt like I was barefoot while wearing them.

The one negative to my shoes (and this is totally my own fault) is that when I ordered them, I ordered them in my running shoe size and they are definitely too big for me, but I just couldn’t bear to part with them once they arrived so I sucked it up and tied them a bit tighter–live and learn right?  These shoes have an extra wide toe box which I really like as well as an airmesh upper that let’s the shoes breathe, meaning no sweaty, smelling shoes post workout. You can also remove the insole to gain more volume by approx. ½ size–something I didn’t need, but would be helpful if you needed the extra space.

For me, this shoe was exactly what I was looking for in a lifting shoe and I have loved them.  The let me get deep into my squats while feeling the ground and I have found they have helped my form a ton because of this. They are super comfortable and mimic being barefoot.  They are designed perfectly for a natural feel and while I don’t use them for running, I can bet they are pretty awesome for all those minimalist runners out there that want something super lightweight–maybe even a racing flat!  I think that I may try a bit of running in them when I order my next pair and see how I do.

—————————————————————

Question of the day

Anyone else out there wear SKORA or other minimalist shoes?  Thoughts? Questions?

 

Live an untangled life with Cordskinz {Product Review & Giveaway}

A couple of weeks ago, Cordskinz reached out to me asking if I would be interested in reviewing their product. I hadn’t heard of it before so I jumped online to scope them out.  I was intrigued and since I use headphones every single day for working out and talking on the phone, I wanted to give them a shot.  Why you ask?  Well, does this sight look familiar to you?

tangled headphonesEvery single day my iPhone headphones get tangled.  It’s a running joke in my house that if it has the ability to get tangled, I will find a way to make it happen (hair included–ouch!)  It’s my gift, we all have one!  🙂  However, there is nothing worse than reaching for my headphones and finding them a jumbled mess and then spending the next 5 minutes cursing and trying to get them untangled.  The struggle is real my friends!  Well, this is where Cordskinz comes in!

I received my package from Cordskinz and I loved the presentation and instructions on the back.

IMG_3978

IMG_3976

They sent me two colors, blue and red.

IMG_3979

Since I use my Jaybird wireless headphones to work out, there was no need for Cordskinz, but I use my iPhone headphones everyday to talk on the phone or dictate emails when I’m driving or on the go, so these are the headphones I used to test out Cordskinz.

To put them on you take the little skinner with a groove which helps to thread the skin onto your headphones. It was super easy and took less than a few minutes to do.  After they are on, you can trim them to the size you need based on your headphones.  The outer casing is flexible and rubbery. Here is a video showing how simple it is to put them on!

I used these for a full week, taking them in and out of my work bag, stuffing them in my jacket and purse and throwing them around my car (I’m not that nice to my headphones as you can see!)  The result–no tangles!!

IMG_3980

Cordskinz are really affordable, costing just $9.99 and they come in various colors. Because I only have a need for one of the skinz for my headphones, I wanted to pay it forward and give away my second pair (the red ones) to one lucky winner!  All you have to do is enter this a Rafflecopter giveaway
for your chance to win!  The contest ends next Wednesday at 12:00 a.m. EST!  Good luck!

 

To learn more about Cordskinz, and start living an untangled life, you can hop over and visit them on Twitter and Facebook!

 

***I was given the Cordskinz to test free of charge and provide a review on this blog.  As always, all opinions are  honest and 100% mine***

 

—————————————————————

Question of the day

Do you run/workout with headphones? Do yours get in a tangled mess?

Running on the moon with the Alter-G

Hi friends! I am SO excited for today’s post.  A while back Jess from Outside PR contacted me, asking if I would be interesting in trying out the Alter-G treadmill.  I could barely type out my response quick enough, I’ve been hearing about this treadmill for SO long and was dying to try it out.  It took us a while to find a date for me to go in and meet with Chad Coporale at Worcester Physical Therapy Services because my schedule was so nuts, but I finally made it in and it was AWESOME!!

Let’s start with a little background shall we?  The Alter-G was created by NASA engineers and it uses patented NASA technology that lets you walk or run unweighted up to 80% of your body weight, so you really feel like you are running on the moon.  As most of us runner’s know, sometimes our body’s get tired, especially when we are piling on the miles (hey marathon training!) So being able to increase our volume of training while reducing the risk of injury as there is no stress to the joints and muscles would be amazing.  It’s so amazing that elite athletes like Kara Goucher and Kobe Bryant both use it to train and former Boston Marathon winner Alberto Salazar, who now coaches elite runners for Nike’s Oregon Project, uses Alter-G treadmills in his training programs because he sees the value in unweighted training to increase volume while reducing injury.  However, its not just for runners, its also great for people trying to lose large amounts of weight and for physical therapy for those coming back from an injury, surgery or stroke victims.  What is so great about the Alter-G is that is allows you to run or walk while maintaining your normal gait, so while you may feel like you are running on the moon, you keep your form.

When I arrived for my appointment, I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  Chad was great and gave me a run down about the machine itself and all the components of it.  He then had me get dressed in a pair of neoprene shorts that looked a lot like biking shorts but we thick and tight.


in shorts

Once I was in the shorts, I stepped into the chamber in the Alter-G.  At first, I felt a bit awkward as this treadmill doesn’t look much like the ones I adore at my gym.  You basically step into the middle of a tent like circle and then you pull it up and zip yourself into it via the compression shorts.

Once I was zipped in the Alter-G, Chad had to calibrate the machine specifically for me.  The calibration takes about 30 seconds or so as air fills the chamber, determining your weight, etc.  It was a weird feeling as you definitely could feel the air compressing you and almost lifting you off the ground and then decompressing and letting you back down feeling normal.  Once it was calibrated, I started walking at 90% of my body weight.  It didn’t feel much different but as soon as we started decreasing the numbers, it felt so different.  I started my jogging warm up around an 8:30 min/mile and it didn’t feel difficult at all, soon I found myself around 50% of my body weight and I was running in the low to mid 6’s and it felt like I was running at a pretty normal pace for me (I WISH!!) I could definitely feel it cardiovascularly but I felt no discomfort in my legs.  It was the strangest thing to wrap my head around, but it was really awesome.  I guess this is what the elite runners feel like (but they run even faster!)

Here are some shots of me running on it from different angles!

alter g  collage 2

It has that great open chamber at the bottom to let the coach/PT evaluate your gait and you can even do a video analysis of your session to see where you need improvements.  Chad let me test out the Alter-G for a bit and I got in a good workout.  When I was done, I let the machine decompress and felt my body weight return to normal. It was definitely a strange feeling that you have to get used to again.  Once I was ready, I unzipped myself out of the contraption and stepped out.  I immediately noticed how sweaty I got in the compression shorts, but I guess it makes sense since I was zipped into a compression chamber, I had to be giving off heat while I was running even if I didn’t feel like I was.  Chad mentioned that the people who come and use the Alter-G often usually buy their own compression shorts.  While they have a few in every size available, they have to get washed after every use so there is a chance when you come in that your size may be unavailable.

After my session, I started asking Chad some more questions, like….do “normal” people buy these machines for their training.  I got a little laugh followed by a “no.”  I guess that makes sense when he told me that the machines can run $75k+ Yeah, that just isn’t in my budget!  Who knows, maybe when Alter-G gets super huge and mainstream, they will do a giveaway and I could win, right? Pipe dreams, I know!  But seriously, this machine was amazing.  Not only is it great for us “regular” athletes, I mean, this would have be ideal when I was training for Boston in the snow, ice and freezing temps, but the ability for it to help rehab those with injuries is truly amazing.

Now, the coolest part of this whole experience is that the Alter-G is not just for elite athletes anymore, YOU can try running on the moon too!  Places that have one of these very coveted Alter-G machines now offer day and monthly passes for us regular folks to come in and use it to train. You can visit their website to find one near you.  I know that Worcester Physical Therapy Services near me even runs Groupons from time to time at really discounted prices that you can take advantage of using the Alter-G at a lower rate, but even at full price, a 30 minute session in my area is $25 or 3 sessions for $75.  While it’s not dirt cheap, it’s not really expensive either and if you bought a few sessions to use over the course of a training cycle, I could see it being really beneficial, especially here in New England when the Winter can be really tough to train in with snowy, icy roads.  I would highly recommend giving this a try if you have one in your area, it was a really cool and informative experience.

 

—————————————————————

Question of the day

Have you heard or tried the Alter-G before?  Have you ever tried other ways of simulating reduced body weight running (like in the pool)?

Young Living Essential Oils {Product Review and Giveaway}

Hey friends, Happy Wednesday!  Today I am reviewing something a little different over here at Life Between the Miles–essential oils!  Now, before you click ahead to your next blog, give me a minute.  I know it seems like essential oils are the newest trend with bloggers lately, and I am not usually one to play with herbal remedies, but these things are great for athletes (and for everyone else too!)

young living

My first experience with essential oils was a few months back.  You see, I have a terrible time falling asleep at night.  Robyn’s head hits the pillow and within 2 mins (yes, I have actually counted out the seconds) he is passed out and I lay awake in bed for at least 30 minutes every night trying to fall asleep, even when I am dead tired.  My friend gave me some lavender essential oil a few months back and told me it would help me fall asleep.  I am lucky your eyes actually don’t stick to the back of your head when you roll them, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to write this review for you today.  I was skeptical, but let’s face it, I was willing to try anything to help me sleep.  Well, I tried it and fast forward to today, I still use the oil every single night and I am falling asleep quickly and staying in a deep sleep.  That was good enough to convince me it works.

So, when my friend Kathy, a representative for Young Living Essential Oils reached out asking if I was interested in trying a few oils for a review here, I jumped at the chance.  I let her know that my awesome readers are mostly athletes so I wanted to test out some things that you guys would find appealing as you are training and generally living a healthy and fit life.  So, she sent me among other things Panaway, Peppermint and Ningxia Red.

A little about essential oils before we get going:

What exactly are essential oils?

They are liquids that are distilled from plants (including their seeds, bark, leaves, stems, roots, flowers, fruit, etc.).

Why should I use essential oils?

  • They’re powerful antioxidants.
  • They’re antibacterial, anti-cancerous, anti-fungal, anti-infections, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-tumor, anti-parasitic, antiviral, and antiseptic.
  • They’ve been shown to destroy all tested bacteria and viruses, while simultaneously restoring balance to the body.
  • Every cell in your body can be effected by essential oils within just 20 minutes of using them.
  • They help promote spiritual, physical, and emotional healing.

How can I use essential oils?

  • Aromatically by diffusing or inhaling the oils
  • Topically by placing the oil directly on a specific location.  Some oils are considered “hot” and should be diluted with a carrier oil like Coconut, V6, or Olive Oil
  • Internally by placing 1-2 drops in a drinking glass (not plastic as the oils can dissolve plastic or petroleum-based products), or by adding 1-10 drops to a capsule and swallowing,
  • Compresses
  • Baths
  • Cooking
  • Cleaning
  • Massage

Essential oils can be used to treat any number of symptoms, as well as be used as a preventative measure.  When I first started researching them for this review, I was SO SO overwhelmed with all the info there is out there on essential oils.  I mean, people use them to treat every ailment there is!  I won’t go that far, I am a big believer in modern medicine when necessary, but I am starting to be more of a believer in natural remedies for certain things, especially things that aren’t urgent to treat.

Okay, now that we know a little bit more about essential oils, what they are and how they can be used….let’s continue on with my experience with them.  First up….Panaway!

Panaway

Panaway

Panaway is a blend of essential oils that was specifically designed for inflammation and pain, which is kind of perfect for most of us runners/athletes.  It is supposed to bring additional oxygen to the site which accelerates the healing process. My first thought is that it would be perfect for sore muscles after a tough run or workout.  Kathy send me this oil in a roller ball, which was great because I was able to pack it in my gym bag for easy storage.  I first used this on a Tuesday morning after I woke up and was really sore from my workout the day before.  I rolled on the panaway and immediately noticed the scent, it smelled like wintergreen and had a really fresh scent. It also had almost an immediate cooling effect, much like a lot of sports creams like Bengay, Icy Hot or Tiger Balm.  I drove to work hoping to make it through my scheduled run and I was surprised that I felt great. My muscles didn’t feel tight or sore like they did when I first got up.  But like anything, I wanted proof it wasn’t a placebo effect.  Well, I have used it 4-5 times since I have gotten it and each time I experienced a similar reaction, so this is going into my bag of handy tools when my muscles are fatigued or sore!

 

Peppermint

peppermint

 

Next up was peppermint!  Peppermint is used for everything from upset stomachs, headaches, pain management and added energy.  I first used it by placing 2 drops on my tongue and then swiped some under my nose.  I will be totally upfront, this stuff is STRONG!!!!  However, once I got over that shock, about 20 or so minutes passed and I really felt a sense of heightened alertness.  It was great, especially super early in the morning when I am usually just going through the motions and trying to get into work.  It definitely got me through some tough workouts.  I also brought it with me to Spain. and it helped a lot with the jet lag when I was getting up at odd hours.  I also used it on my forehead, temples and the back of my neck and when I started to get a pretty good headache while I was in a long session at the conference center (probably also related to jet lag) and it made me feel a lot better. I have also used it a few times diluted in water. I made the mistake the first time of letting too many drops fall into the water and let me tell you, I won’t make that mistake again.  The amazing thing is that you only need a tiny drop or two and it really packs a punch!

 

Ningxia Red

Ningxia red
The last item I tried was the NingXia Red, which is loaded with wolf berry, the world’s highest antioxidant food!  It’s primary benefits are increased mental fitness, cognitive alertness, and physical acuity.  It is also supposed to enhance athletic performance and endurance (who wouldn’t like a little more of this?) and boosts energy.  This is actually a juice that you can drink directly from the tub or mix with 2-4 oz of water.  The first time I used it, I did it more like a shot and it tasted good, not something I have ever really tasted before but I will equate it to what I think mixing berry and orange juice together would taste like.  The second time I used it, I mixed it with water.  I liked it both ways, but for convenience sake, I’d just take it as a shot.  Both times I used the NingXia Red I felt like I had increased and steady energy levels throughout the day and I felt strong during my runs all the way from start to finish. I never felt a crash like I have when I have tried Red Bull and I didn’t have that jittery feeling I get when I have tried energy drinks either.  I felt really focused all day and when I took Ashton to the park, I felt like I had a bit more pep in my step after a long day at work.

Well, that’s it ladies and gentlemen.  I was actually kind of shocked at how much I liked these oils.  Kathy also sent me some special stuff to use on Ashton since he has VERY bad eczema and it seemed to help him as well.   I will spare you the pictures because let’s be real, no one wants to see that (trust me!)  If you guys are interested in giving essential oils a shot, take a look below for some of their starter kits at a big discount.  I will caveat this with the fact that the price looks a bit shocking at first, but I think for what you get it’s worth it.  Also, you can order single oils if you want to give just one or two a try at first like I did.  You can order them through this link!

KATHY

And finally, the GOOD news!  I loved Panaway so much that we are going to be giving away a roller bottle full of this awesome stuff to one lucky reader!  With Fall marathon/racing season in full effect, whose muscles don’t need a little extra TLC? Enter my rafflecopter giveaway below and I will announce the winner on Monday, October 13th.  Please note this is only open to US readers (sorry guys!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

—————————————————————

Question of the day

Have you ever used essential oils?  What are your thoughts?  Do you have favorites that you use all the time? Which ones interest you the most?

 

 

 

My new favorite running accessory: The FlipBelt {Product Review}

Hi friends!  Today I am here to share with you some info and review a great product called FlipBelt.  As many of us runners and fitness enthusiasts know, sometimes you have to try a lot of different products to find what works for you.  I know personally, I have tried quite a few different products and methods to carry all my “necessities” when I head out for a run.  It’s pretty much ended up with me holding my phone (s) in one hand, my handheld water bottle in another and shoving my keys/id/gels into the super tiny pocket inside my favorite Nike shorts and into my bra.  It’s pretty cumbersome, but those are the sacrifices we make for the sport we love, right? Well, not anymore!!

FlipBelt created a sleek and stylish belt that carry all of your essentials without tying up your hands. Too good to be true?  Keep reading!

All-Belts-Layed-Out

As you can see, the FlipBelt comes in a lot of great colors so there is something for everyone.  It’s also a unisex product so both men and women can reap the benefits of it.  I got the basic black mainly because it will match whatever I wear. I am nothing if not practical when it comes to my running accessories!

Here are some of the great features of the FlipBelt:

  • Four easily accessible pocket openings throughout the exterior of the belt
  • Made with Spandex- Lycra makes it easy to flip to lock in items
  • 3M Quality Reflective Logo
  • Non-Bounce, sleek comfortable design prevents uncomfortable chafing
  • Machine washable & machine dryable
  • Easily holds medication such as inhalers, insulin pumps, epipens, etc…
  • EPA Certified, Odor Resistant, Pilling Resistant, Anti-Bacterial High Tech Poly Spandex Fabric
  • Various colors available to accent your workout wardrobe

Instuctional 2

As you can see from the picture above, you slide your items in through one of the 4 slits in the belt and once everything is inside, you flip the belt over and it’s all secure.  

I have now used the FlipBelt on 4 different runs (twice for strength training) and here are my thoughts:

  • It fits perfectly low on my hips where I like it and didn’t budge, not even once!
  • There was no bounce and I actually didn’t even notice I had anything on, which for me is key.
  • It is made of thick but super soft material so it felt sturdy and strong and there was no rubbing or chafing.
  • It holds A LOT!  I put into my FlipBelt my phones, license, ID to get into my work building, a gel and the key to my gym locker and everything was secure and didn’t shift at all.
  • There is a latch inside that you can tether to your keys.

Potential CONS for some people:

  • It’s a tubular product, meaning there is  no zipper so you have to step in and out of the belt. 
  • More access points.  There are four, but some people may want more. I felt like four was more than enough but I’m trying to think of what others may want, not just me.

Overall, I LOVE this belt.  I love that I can carry a lot of things with me without having to hold anything in my hands.  I love that I don’t even notice I am wearing the FlipBelt (isn’t that what we look for when trying to find our perfect fitness accessories?)  A few things to note.  While they recommend that you “flip” your belt when all your items are inside, I never did.  I didn’t feel I needed to since everything fit snugly and I felt that all my stuff was secure.  I am a control freak, big news to all my longtime readers I’m sure 😉 and I liked being able to reach in quickly to get to my phone to grab a picture or change the song I was listening to.  Also, I have two phones…an iPhone 5s (work) and a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (personal).  When I work out, I almost always have both on me, mainly because I haven’t figured out how to get all my music onto my iPhone so when I run, I always have my Note on me.  While the FlipBelt “technically” says it’s doesn’t accommodate the Note 2, I felt there was plenty of room in the belt for it.  It is a bit of a tighter squeeze than the iPhone with the Otter Box, but I was able to easily continue to run and take it in and out of the belt to change my music without skipping a beat!

Here’s a shot of me at the end of my run the other day wearing the FlipBelt – you can definitely see the reflective logo, and this was during the day!   It really just looks and feels like it’s part of my pants.

flip belt 1

Here’s another shot. I’m standing in my closet so it’s a bit darker but you can get the idea!

flipbelt 2

 If you’ve been on the fence about purchasing a running/fitness band and don’t want to be rocking a fanny pack like this…

NKOTB fanny pack

 

You can use the discount code “SWEAT33″ for 10% OFF your entire purchase at the FlipBelt online store through September 4th.  (UPDATED: You may have noticed the original discount was for 33% off, however, these codes were leaked to online discount shopping sites and FlipBelt had to change the discount. I apologize for this in advance.)These belts are already really affordable, so this code just sweetens the deal.  You can share this deal with you friends and family too by tweeting the message below!

Tweet: Run, play, explore with #FlipBelt! Use the code SWEAT33 for 10% OFF your entire purchase! @flipbelt @fitapproach #sweatpink

 

****Disclaimer:  I was given the opportunity to review FlipBelt through my affiliation with Fit Approach.  While I received the belt for free, I was not given any other compensation and all opinions are 100% my own.****

—————————————————————

Question of the day

Do you run with a belt? Fanny pack?  What’s your favorite running accessory to carry all your gear?

Focus T25: Alpha Review

Howdy friends!  If you have been following along on my blog for a while now, you know I have been doing the T25 program.  Coming off my marathon training, I really wanted to try some different workouts that allowed me to still run and do yoga and spin. Being a fan of Shaun T and the Insanity program, I was curious about the T25 program…I mean, 25 minutes of high intensity work is kind of right up my alley and it’s how I REALLY like to train.  Well, I just wrapped up the Alpha phase and as promised, here is my review of my first 5 weeks.

T25Alpha Cardio

t25_cardio

 

 

 

 

 

This was the first workout on the Alpha plan and let me tell you, it’s gonna make you SWEAT! I thought I was in great shape going into this program, coming off my marathon, but clearly, you are using and isolating much different muscles in this video vs. running.  I started this video a week after the marathon so I think I may have been slightly still in recovery because my calves REALLY felt this workout the first 2 times I did it, but then, I started really looking forward to it each week.  The video starts slow and progressively builds the moves (this is a common theme in the Alpha phase.)  You will see high knee jogs, jumping jacks, pivot lunges, mountain climbers, half tuck jumps, hop squats, switch kicks, and speed knees.  There is no floor work in this video other than to touch the floor with your fingers during the lunges.  You will also see Burnout rounds…this is also a common theme among the videos where you take the moves you have learned and put them all together and REALLY dig deep to bust them out as quick as possible.  This is a GREAT workout and will definitely get your heart rate high.  If you are a beginner, there is always a modifier showing the low impact moves.

 

Speed 1.0

t25_speed1

 

 

 

 

 

The Speed 1.0 video is just that, it’s about building speed.  You will move fast and at times I was gasping for air in the beginning wondering if I was going to make it through.   Some of the moves in the very beginning I had to really focus on so I could get the beat.  You will see lots of hopping (with turns, hooks, squats), burpees, uppercuts, cross jacks, squat thrusts, and Heisman moves.  Thankfully I have very good coordination and can follow a beat well (all my years of teaching Group Power sure help) so I was able to pick it up quickly and follow along.  There are periods in this video where you will stop to stretch your quads, hip flexors, calves, etc which was a nice “break.”  Once again, you will find your heart rate really high, so these stretches allow your heart rate to recover a bit before going hard again.

 

Total Body Circuit

t25_total body circuit

 

 

 

 

 

In my opinion, this was the hardest video of the group.  In the beginning, I dreaded seeing the calendar on the mornings I had to do this video.  It wasn’t until the last week when I noticed I didn’t want to die at the end (that’s how I know I was getting stronger.)  There is a lot of floor work in this video and you will likely need a towel because you will be soaked when you are done.  Also, since you are on the floor a lot, you want to make sure your hands don’t slip, you need that traction.  You will see everything from hops, hooks, shoulder taps, lunges, rotating jabs, in and outs, plank walks, power squats, pike ups, spiderman and oblique knee push ups and body runs.  A TOTAL killer.  I can see myself going back to this workout once the program is over, it’s THAT good and hard.

 

Lower Focus

t25_lower body focus

 

 

 

 

 

This was probably my favorite video in this series, mainly because I LOVE LOVE LOVE working my legs.  Don’t get me wrong, a few profanities slipped out while doing this because it’s TOUGH, but in general, I’d rather work my legs than any other body part.   You will see double jacks,  normal and adductor squats with pulses and jumps, calf raises and hops, narrow and wide lunges with pulsing, up and overs with squats and floor touches and deadlifts.  Because you are working the biggest muscle group in the body, your heart rate will go up and you will sweat..A LOT.  That’s a pretty common theme in all these videos. 

 

Ab Intervals

t25_ab intervals

 

 

 

 

 

This is mainly a floor workout, although you do get up to do short bursts of cardio like hop squats, sprints with squats, speed kicks and lateral mountain climbers.  For the floor portion, you will see spider lunges, planks with pulsing, various “V” sits, straight leg lifts, scissoring, heel taps, Supermans, lat pulldown, Rocketman, wide in and out pyramids and tabletop.  This ab workout in NO JOKE.  I have been working my abs consistently now for quite a few week and let me tell you, Shaun T pulls no punches in this ab workout.  While this is way less cardio intense in comparison to the other videos, it is very effective.

 

Stretch

t25_stretch

 

 

 

 

 

There isn’t much I can tell you about this video.  Why?  Well, because I never did it.  Why?  Well, I do yoga 2x a week and I didn’t need it, simple as that.  I followed the Alpha program workouts to the T, with the exception of this workout on Sundays.  I suppose I should have tried it at least once, but since I was doing a lot more everyday than just T25, I just didn’t have it in me to do anything more when I felt I could get my stretching in while doing my normal yoga classes.  Again, you have to know your own body and make that determination for yourself. I think those newer to working out or to workouts like this may really benefit from this video and I would say that if you were ONLY doing T25, that you should do this video as well.

 

Overall:

I really enjoyed the program.  I liked that it was short enough that I was able to do other things (like spin, yoga or run) but also packed a serious punch and there was no time wasted in these videos.  You got moving immediately and kept moving until the very end.  Like any workout, you really get out of T25 what you put into it.  The key is to never stop moving while doing the videos.  You can of course modify all the moves by following their modifier, Tonya, but if you want to really push yourself to the extreme, you can follow the rest of the group (this is what I did.)  I have done the Insanity program and absolutely loved it, and while some of the moves have an Insanity feel to them, this is definitely a much different program, packing an hours worth of workouts into 25 condensed minutes.

I loved that you learned the moves  and how to execute them properly and then during the burn out phase you brought them all back together and kicked it into higher gear for a short burst.  It kept you engaged in the workout and I liked being able to really focus on the proper execution of the moves.  I liked that the music in the video wasn’t overpowering and 90% of the time, I couldn’t even pick it out in the videos because I was so focused on the moves and what Shaun was telling me.  I also really love the clock in the bottom left corner that tells you how much time you have left, along with the bar showing how much time in a specific move you have left. I used that a lot in the beginning when it felt SO hard. It kept me focused and moving when I knew I only had 5-10 seconds left.  It’s really so mental at times.

Shaun does a good job of coaching the appropriate safety cues for the moves, which is critical for those who don’t know how to do moves correctly.  I think being an instructor myself really helped me get the most out of the moves as I found myself checking in with my body and readjusting my form when I noticed I wasn’t feeling things like I should.  Since these workouts are very cardio focused, you will find your heart rate getting really high and staying there for most of the workout, so if you have any concerns, you should monitor this and stay within your healthy limits.

I definitely noticed during the last week that the workouts felt much easier (not easy, just easier.) One of the girls at my gym who has done the program before and has seen me doing it for the past 5 weeks even commented that I wasn’t soaked in sweat like I usually was while doing the lower body focus video for the last time.  It just proved to me that I was getting stronger, which was the whole intent behind me doing this program in the first place.  I also felt at the end of the 5th week that I was ready for a change.  When you sit with the same few videos for a while, you start to mentally check out.

Note: There is a cool down at the end of each video that will bring the video over the 25 minutes.  I did not do the cool down as I was moving on to my next workout of the day, but I would highly suggest doing the cool down if you didn’t have anything planned after the video.  Also, on Friday’s you double up the workouts, so it’s actually 50 minutes of workouts.  I suppose you could break them up into 25 minute segments throughout the day or push one to Saturday, but I also did them back to back, which I’m assuming is how they intend them to be done.  Lastly, I did NOT follow the nutrition program.  Nutrition is of course 80% of the battle but I don’t do well following a specific meal plan and this meal plan was designed to be used when just doing this program and I was doing a lot of different things.  I tend to eat fairly clean and try to Zone a lot of my meals so I just kept doing that.  I didn’t follow the meal plan while doing the Insanity program either and still got great results.

 

—————————————————————

Question of the day

Have you done T25, Insanity, or another program like it?  Tell me about it!

 

My first Stitchfix experience

So, I’ve made no qualms about telling you guys that when it comes to fashion, I will never win any awards.  I have never been overly fashionable, choosing to wear pretty basic clothes that are easy for me to put together.  I mean, if we are REALLY being honest here, I still have my instructional soccer t-shirts that I wear from when I was 5 years old.  Yeah…moving on.

I have seen over the course of the past few months a lot of talk about Stitchfix but never really thought much about it.  I already have a monthly subscription to Birchbox and we have one for Ashton for toddler things, so I filed it in the back of my mind.

Many of you probably already know all about it, but for those of you who don’t – let me show you the light. Stitchfix is a personalized styling service that delivers five hand-picked clothing and/or accessory items to your doorstep each month (or at the predetermined times you choose).  You go online,  fill out an extensive style profile, you can even link to Pinterest boards and then write in detail the what your needs/wants are and the stylist works their magic to find things that fit your preferences. .

stitchfix1

Then the clothes are delivered to your house (or work) and you can try them on at home, when it works for you.  It doesn’t get much more convenient than that.  Once you have tried on your clothes, you determine what items you want to keep and you send the ones you don’t want back in the pre-paid envelope they provide. You MUST send the items back within 3 business days, which is really important to know so you aren’t charged for anything you didn’t want to keep.  So, here is the skinny on the cost structure.

stitchfix2

So, it costs $20 a month, which is a styling fee charge.  However, if you keep one item, you can apply the styling fee towards the price of your item(s) and if you keep all the items, you get 25% off your entire order.  So, you only lose money if you don’t keep anything in your box…pretty good deal if you ask me.

So, I signed up for my box in mid-March and it was delivered a few weeks later.   Of course, I barely got into the house before I was ripping into it to see what they sent me.  First, I love how they packaged everything.

stitchfix packaging

They even put a personalized note in there mentioning the Pinterest board I referred them too!

letter from stitchfix

Here is what it looked like out of the box along with the style guide card.

stitchfix

So, here  is what I got:

1. Clark Striped Stud Detail Sleeveless Blouse ($68): I LOVED this shirt, everything about it was perfect, the fit, the comfort…everything BUT…I had just bought one similar to it and couldn’t justify the price.  Status: Returned.

2. Jena Basket Weave Print Faux Wrap Dress ($128): This is a PERFECT wrap dress for work.  It was so comfy it was like wearing you favorite t-shirt and shorts and it fit me like a glove.  When I put it on, my husband said, absolutely, you must keep it. Status: Kept.

3. Karson Textured Pencil Skirt ($58): I really liked this skirt and was in need of a classic black skirt, but for some reason, the front left corner puckered when it was on and I just couldn’t get past how that looked. I really wanted to keep it because it fit perfectly everywhere else, but had to pass.  Status: Returned.

4. Jaclynn 3/4Sleeve Button-Up Cardigan ($38): I LOVED the bright, happy color of this cardigan, but it was the only item in the box that didn’t fit.  Cardigans rarely work for someone like me who is busty, when the rest of me is small.  Status: Returned.

5. Filbert 3/4 Sleeve Popover Blouse ($58): Another shirt that I absolutely adored, but I had two that were almost the same style in different colors, so again, while it fit wonderfully and I liked it, I couldn’t justify the price when I had two more just like it.  Status: Returned.

As you can see, I sent back 4 of the 5 items in my Stitch Fix, HOWEVER, it was not because I didn’t love them.  The stylist nailed my style perfectly.  Two of the items I had already had something similar in my closet, one item didn’t fit and the skirt had a weird way of falling in the front.  If all the items fit/fell correctly and weren’t replicas of things I already owned, I would have purchased the entire box.

So here is my overall thoughts about Stitch Fix so far:

1. I love the convenience of having clothes delivered to my doorstep.  As a working mom, its really hard to find time to go to the mall and go shopping for myself, so having a service like this makes life super easy for me.

2. I love that someone else is picking out clothes for me. I am the WORST when it comes to shopping. I second guess myself and pick fairly classic clothes in the same colors. Boring–I know!! I love that someone else is picking things out based on what they think I would like and the dress I ended up keeping was not something I would have picked if I were out shopping but once I tried it on, I fell in love with it…so it’s opening my fashion horizons.

3. I love that there isn’t a monthly fee like other “boxes” out there.  You only pay when you get a box.  Yes, there is a styling fee, but I have a hard time believing that I won’t like at least 1 item in a box of 5 items, so in essence, I won’t be paying a “fee.”

4. What I didn’t like was that a lot of the items are more expensive than what I would normally spend for clothes. However, they do seem to be good quality and I don’t mind spending a bit more for good quality clothing, but spending over $50 on a tank is going to be a tough sell for me, especially when I can find similar ones for 1/2 that price.

5. I wish you were able to buy the clothing that they show on the style cards they send with your fix.  The style cards show multiple ways to wear the items they send you in the fix.  Of course, the outfit options look great, I just wish there was an option to buy the items they show you so you can create multiple outfits from each piece you buy.  I emailed them about this and their response was quick, but they stated “Unfortunately, I don’t have the list of designers to give to you at this time. They will most likely be private label or from brands like Kut from the Kloth, Pomelo, etc.”

***Please note, I was not paid for this review. I paid for all Stitch Fix items on my own. However, an affiliate link is included and for each person that signs up through my link, I will get a credit through Stitch Fix to use towards a future purchase!***

—————————————————————

Question of the day

Has anyone else tried Stitchfix? Tell me about your experience!