I’m A Sellout. And I’m OK With That.

January 14, 2011

Now, don’t get me wrong,  I’m all about supporting my local running store, but there are just some things that the internet can do for me that my pals at Falls Road Running Store can’t.  And that’s sell me my beloved Brooks for a whopping 76.2% off.

So Pretty….

I’ve been wearing Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10s for almost two years now.  I’m a little in love.  The one time I tried a different shoe, I ended up with shin splints that kept me sidelined for the better part of a month.  Needless to say, I’m pretty loyal to my brand these days. 

I’m loyal to my LRS too, it’s just that they want to charge me $105 every 4-5 months for my prized kicks and my wallet just can’t handle that.  So what would any budget-respecting child of the Information Age do?  Turn to Google.

The first time I Googled my Adrenalines I found them for $79 + shipping and saved myself almost 20 bucks.  Sa-weeet!  I nearly cried when yesterday I went back to that same website and they were gone.  Back at square one I hit up my trusty Google Shopping search engine a second time and, lo and behold, it turned up an even better deal.  I almost didn’t believe it.  Sixty…Five…Dollars.  

So, of course, I bought two…but not before Googling a coupon code that saved me $6 on shipping at checkout. 

Final damage?  Two pairs of Brooks Adrenalines  (size 10.5–you try finding those in a running store!) for $130 even.  I basically bought the second pair for $25 and saved myself $80! 

Sorry, FRRS.  I still love you…just maybe not as much as I’m loving Google right now.   Don’t worry though, I’m sure I’ll make it up to you in April when the spring lines come out.  XOXO!


Blissful Bumper Stickers!

January 13, 2011

Christmas is a great time to be a runner.  Maybe not for the frigid temps or the icy sidewalks, but definitely for the presents!  I’ll do a run down of all my new gear in an upcoming post, but first I wanted to share with you  the most surprising gift of all.  Blissful Runner bumper stickers!

It all began with an offer of free promotional items from a generous reader.   Megan works at BuildASign.com and  contacted me to see if I would be interested in some custom merchandise to promote the blog.  Of course I immediately jumped gleefully around the room said yes, and eagerly checked out BuildASign’s website to see what they had to offer.  There were a lot of products to choose from, but finally I decided to create a bumper sticker for the site and share with all of you. 

Now, Megan didn’t ask for anything in return other than a link back to her company’s website, but I have to tell you guys, if you’re ever looking for promotional materials BuildASign.com has a huge selection.   Whether your looking for your business or for personal items, they have tons of products and services.  For the DIYer they have countless vinyl decalsart prints, and magnets (wouldn’t those make great Save the Date cards for a wedding?!) to make it easy.  For the workplace they offer banners, posters and even car wraps (I’m loving the pink Barbie Hummer!  Think she lets Ken drive?) to help keep your brand visible.

Best of all, they have an amazingly easy-to-use platform for you to create your own designs.  Thier default colors and fonts were great and I didn’t even bother to change them.  I was able to upload my own image in seconds and see a fill size proof of my design before sending it to the presses.  Despite the fact I’m the most indecisive person on the planet and always second guessing myself,  I whipped these babies up in about 5 minutes. 

Want one?  All you have to do is email me and I’d be happy send one your way.  Catch me at liv612@yahoo.com.

Fellas, sorry it’s pink, but I’m a pink kind of girl!  I do stop a little short of a pink car wrap though…



I Eat Animals

June 28, 2010

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I picked up Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals on my last trip to the library (side note: I read WAY too many books to actually spend money on them. The public library is my friend).  I’m embarrassed to admit that I had been actively avoiding this book for a while.  I’ve known that factory farming isn’t pretty and I knew it was going to be a difficult read, but I feared it would it would change the way I looked at food.  I was right.

After reading this book I became a vegetarian.  For a whole week.  And then I caved and had a pulled pork sandwich topped with beef brisket and hickory smoked bacon. 

 Now that’s what I call falling off the wagon.

In all seriousness – this book taught me more than a thing or two about the factory farming industry.  Maybe I’ve been living under a rock (or maybe I’m just really good at avoiding things I’d rather not think about), but I wasn’t aware that animals were being bred in such a way as to increase their profitability while concerns for their health fell by the wayside – at least not to the full extent that they are.  I wasn’t aware of how filthy the food sold in our deli cases was permitted to be by the guidelines set forth by our trusted FDA, nor how these guidelines favor the farmer and his substandard practices rather than the heath of the consumer or the well-being of the animal.   I wasn’t aware that the conditions of these farms were promoting antibiotic resistance and creating (and spreading) new viruses.  I’d never heard the term bycatch or thought about how animal waste was effecting the environment.  

Would I recommend this book?  Yes.  I was highly impressed by the statistical information that Foer had compiled and they way that he presented it in terms the average Joe could understand.  He has a knack for creating metal pictures that pack a punch – great for visual people like myself: “Imagine being served a plate of sushi. But this plate also holds all of the animals that were killed for your serving of sushi. The plate might have to be five feet across” (50). 

This first few chapters of this book are written from a very personal standpoint, giving you background on the author and making him that much more relatable which worked well for his argument.  He’s a funny guy and I read most of these chapters aloud to my husband – I enjoyed them that much.  Foer begins his study of the factory farming process by delving into the poultry business first.  Reading those chapters, I felt like I’d been sucker punched.  This part of the book was truly eye-opening and I had a difficult time putting it down.  I was disappointed when he then pretty much reiterated the same story for the swine and bovine industries.  This is where Foer, in my opinion, began to come off as more sanctimonious than informative and I began to get irritated and lose interest in his quest.   While he states clearly in the beginning chapters that his intention is to merely start a conversation about the ethical and nutritional ramifications of eating meat – not to preach to his reader right from wrong – it becomes obvious where his allegiances lay, oftentimes in what I felt was a condescending manner.  I’m all for uncovering the ugly truths of slaughterhouses, but please don’t imply that I’m a soulless human being for eating meat.  

Was it rebellion that made me give up on my veggie diet and order that bbq sandwich?  Maybe in part – I think his plan of insulting the meat-eaters may have backfired in my case.  Another part of it is this:  in the past, when I thought about eliminating meat from my diet, my mind went directly to beef.  In actuality, a diet free of fish and poultry saves far, far more animals from violence and abuse and makes a much larger impact.  This is a big hurdle for me because while I think that I could give up beef and pork fairly easily, eliminating all meat seems almost insurmountable and that’s a mountain I’m just not ready to climb. 

So, how has this book impacted me?  Well, while I’m still a soulless meat-eater, I have significantly reduced my overall intake of animal products.  I bought tofu for the first time.  A lot of it.  I actually haven’t cooked a piece of meat in nearly a month (my meat-and-potatoes-loving husband is thanking his lucky stars for the option of dining out!).  I’m also thinking seriously about chickens.  My mother raises her own chickens and I like the idea of being able to eat eggs without having to think about, and financially support, the places they come from.  For now, I’m just stocking up on eggs whenever I visit.

Yesterday I was browsing the Book Warehouse at the Hagerstown Outlets this weekend with my mom and came across Meat: A Love Story.

 I opened the inside cover and read this:

“After spending a week working undercover at a slaughterhouse and being tormented by blood, the stink, and the squeals of animals being herded to their death, author Susan Bourette decided to go vegetarian. She lasted five weeks and thirty-seven hours.  Dissatisfied with tofu and lentils, Bourette wondered, Isn’t there a way to have my meat and a clear conscience too? It’s a question that will resonate with millions of happily carnivorous Americans—we eat more meat per capita than any other nation—who are unwilling to give up steak for soy but are alarmed about mad cow disease, E.coli poisoning, and the filthy, inhumane conditions on chicken and cattle farms.  On a quest for superior meat, Susan Bourette takes readers behind the bucolic setting of the famous Rockefeller farm, north of New York City; on a long, hot cattle drive at a Texas ranch; a whale hunt with the Inupiat in Alaska; a Canadian moose hunt; and behind the counter in a Greenwich Village butcher shop. Humorous yet authoritative, Meat: A Love Story celebrates the deliciousness of meat and the lives of the passionate professionals who hunt, raise, or cook it. With a deft touch, Bourette explores what it means to be a compassionate carnivore.”

This sounds like it might be more up my alley.  I’ll be looking for it in my local library on my next visit.  (Yes, I passed on the $6 discount price. Go ahead and judge.)

Have you read Eating Animals?  Are you a public library junkie??


The NCR Trail

June 12, 2010

When I got off work yesterday the temperature gauge in my car said 88 degrees.  It felt like it too.  I also knew that my gym would feel like 108 degrees and that I’d have to find some shade if I wanted a run that would redeem Thursday’s torturous journey.  The first thing that came to mind was the Northern Central Railroad (NCR) Trail

Honestly, I think I may be the last Marylander to have ventured out and discovered all the wonders of the NCRT.  Since I run alone 99% of the time, I never felt comfortable with the idea of running in largely unpopulated areas, especially one I was unfamiliar with.  A few weeks ago though, I somehow convinced Kirk to join me for a short run.  While he hated it (the running, not the trail – he bitched with every footfall!), I fell in love.  The best part was the trail is far more populated than I thought it would be and I didn’t get the skeevies at all.  After a couple miles Kirk turned to me and said that he’d be fine with me coming by myself – you know, in between gasping breaths and profanities – so I’m not really sure if he said it because he really believed it or simply out of fear that I might start dragging him along every weekend. Either way, I knew I had the green light.

On the way to the Ashland trail head, I stopped by Charm City Run and picked up one of these:

  

A SPIbelt!  I’ve been eying these for a while now.  I’ve been wearing wristlets for the last couple years but there is only so much you can put in those (a few bits of a granola bar, a key) before it gets cumbersome.  I’ve heard a lot about SPIbelts and their bounce-free versatility and decided that with marathon training commencing this week it was time for a new toy. 

So, I took my SPIbelt on its annaurgural run on the NCR Trail.   I think it’s going to take some getting used to as I’ve never worn anything around my waist while running before, but overall I was really pleased with the belt.  Off the bat I was impressed with how much that teeny pocket could hold!  It’s made of swimsuit-like material (spandex I’m guessing though it doesn’t really say) that stretches to fit all sorts of goodies.  I had my cell phone in there and carried my iPod, but I could have easily tucked both into the SPIbelt and then some.  Once I found the proper fit (for me this was in front, granny-style), the belt didn’t bounce much at all.  My only complaint was that it made my shorts hike up a bit, but again, I think if I play with the clips a bit and adjust the length it will be perfect.  The fact that I was more focused on the beautiful scenery then I was on my new accessory is also a good indicator of comfort.  Love that  green!

The trail is flat, flat, flat or at least the first three miles that I’ve become familiar with (I’ve been running out and back 4-6 milers).  The ground is a packed stone/gravel and wide enough to pass others three abreast.  This is good since there are a fair amount of bikes on the trail – and horses too apparently, though I’ve yet to see one.  I did however have a close encounter with a deer and her young one.  They leapt out in front of me – mom first, then baby – bringing me to a dead stop 20 feet away.  I must have somehow frightened the fawn because it looked at me and then abandoned all plans of crossing the path and turned around.  Mom, came bounding back and followed his retreating white tail back into the woods.  The whole episode took maybe 6 seconds, but I was able to watch them off to the side of the trail for a while and struck up a conversation with a fellow startled runner who kept oohing, “Soooooo cuuute!!!”, because yeah, they really were.  🙂  Of course I forgot that my handy SPIbelt was carrying my camera phone until I passed this magical sight:

How gorgeous is this?  Really. 

I also discovered the NCR Trail Marathon today.  A marathon?  On my new favorite running trail?  Does it get any better than that?!  It’s at the end of November …  is it crazy to sign up for a second marathon before even completing my first?  You know what?  I’ve decided I don’t care!


The IT List

April 15, 2010

Busy day and lots to talk about so we’re going with bullets.  I love lists, don’t you?  They make me feel so organized and efficient!

  • The Saucony run last night was great.  I started out in the back of the pack, but slowly moved my way up to the front and by mile 4 I was leading the group back to home base.  4 miles in 32 minutes – another personal best.   I could get used to this! 😀
  • Got to test drive the Saucony Triumph last night.  I really liked this shoe.  When I first put it on my initial thought was, “Bummer!  I like these better than the Brooks I bought last week!”  Out on the road though, they felt about the same.  And when, in our 3rd mile, I picked up a pebble in the treads that I couldn’t knock loose, I was ready to lace up my Glycerins again.  I do however, highly recommend the  Triumph as a quality neutral shoe for any other suponators out there.
  • Didn’t win any of the prizes raffled off after the group run (a performance top, a bottom OR the free pair of sneaks).  So sad.  I will definitely keep my eye out for more of these sponsored group runs though.  It really pays to be on the mailing lists for the local running stores (even though sometimes I feel like a traitor for keeping up with more than one). 
  • Did score an Atlas foam roller on my way home (3 failed attempts at 2 gym supply stores and a WalMart.  Finally met with success at a Sports Authority in a dark and dusty corner).  The foam roller is 24″ long which is the smaller of the two sizes they offer (36″ seems to be pretty popular) but I love that I can use it in smaller spaces and not have to worry about knocking into walls and furniture.  Verdict?  Fabulous invention!!!!  I spent an entire episode of LOST working out the kinks.  My quads were the worst!  But it hurt soooo good!   I can already tell I’m going to morph into a foam rolling addict.
  • Just one question: how can anyone justify charging so much for a piece of foam?  The 36″ roll was $40!  For heaven’s sake, it’s a piece of styrofoam!  I settled for the smaller one, but actually, I think I like it better.  I can do my foam rolling in our cramped little living room without knocking things over (which I do plenty of already even without an extra 18″ appendage).  
  • Ok, I saved the best for last….. Thanks to all  your wonderful donations I have met the $500 fundraising goal I set for the Maryland Half Marathon!!!  In fact, we blew it outta the water.  That doesn’t mean the fun is over though because when the donations kept rolling in, I upped the goal to $1,000!!  If you’re interested in donating to the Greenebaum Cancer Center it’s really easy.  Just click here to read about the cause and click Donate!

Is your email flooded with running newsletters like mine is? Sometimes it’s a pain to sort through, but totally worth it when you find a diamond in the rough!


Stretching in High (On)Demand

April 14, 2010

I was killing time last night, waiting for The Biggest Loser to start, and found myself browsing through Comcast’s OnDemand menu.  Did you know that Sportskool has a whole section on Running and Racing?  It’s an awesome resource for runners of all levels.  They have segments for newbies (which are kinda cheesy in my opinion, but relatively informative nonetheless) on tackling your first 5k, tips for marathoners, and even a few episodes on triathalons (which I didn’t get a chance to watch). 

Most interesting to me were Running Training 1, 2 & 3 –  three installments for marathoners which focused on stretching and strengthening to reduce injury and aid in recovery.  They even had an awesome tutorial on foam rolling that suckered me in and I am definitely picking up one of those babies on my way home tonight!

I’ve never been much of a stretcher – maybe 3-5 minutes when I get back from a run, or here and there when I’m feeling particularly tight.  The trainer in these clips, Mark Verstegen, really made an impression on me.  I’ve always done strengthening moves with respect to my core muscles, but never paid much attention to the muscles and ligaments surrounding my hips.  His point was that since most the movement involved in running centers around your hips, preparing them properly for the run and realigning you body when you return, can really help in performance and recovery.   The stretches and strength moves were pretty simple, though there were a lot of them and I know most of them I won’t remember.

If you don’t have OnDemand you can watch the clips on the Sportskool website.  Defintely worth a look-see!

After I swing by Dicks Sporting Goods for my foam roller I’m headed to Charm City Run for a Saucony sponsored group run.  Apparently we will get to try some new Saucony products on the run and also get some free Saucony gear and a 15% off coupon just for showing up.  That’s my kind of run! 

I’ve never worn Saucony before.  I’m more of an Asics and Nike kinda girl.  Though I am really liking my new Brooks shoes – I may be a convert!

What’s your favorite brand?  Do you have favorites in different categories of apparel and gear? 

 


I Ain’t Gonna Lie …

April 12, 2010

It was bad.  Real bad.  Thoughts of hanging up my running shoes for good kind of bad.  And that was only three miles in. 

It’s all mental. I know it’s mental, but knowing it and being able to snap myself out of a funk are two completely different things.  A half hour into my 10 mile run on Sunday I was thinking of calling my husband to come and get me.  I was wondering if I could get my money back for the marathon this October.  I was wondering why the hell I signed up for any of this.  The kicker was that I was fine. Nothing hurt, the weather was perfect, I wasn’t even pushing myself, but the only thought running through my head was, “I’m miserable”.  And it was on repeat. 

By mile 5 I was feeling a little better.  I’d planned and out and back so I was coming up on my turn-around.  At 5.5 I ate a few bites of a Fiber One bar and that helped too.  Mile 8 my right ankle started to feel stiff, but I was entering my home territory… there’s my grocery store on the left, and that awesome Thai place just ahead.  Familiar landmarks make it easier somehow; nothing quite like coming home right? 

Miles 9 and 10 were my fastest.  I felt good and strong.  I didn’t collapse as soon as I walked in the door like I had imagined I would in my head.  Instead I made myself a green monster, stretched, took a shower and then a 30 minute nap. 

If there’s anything I learned from this rotten experience it is that I am my own worst enemy.  And that some tunes would have likely been a good distraction.  A few bars of Gonna Fly Now (aka the Rocky theme song) probably would have done the trick.  I haven’t run with my iPod in a few weeks.  Ever since I got my Garmin actually – I guess I can only wrap my head around one electronic device at a time? 

Speaking of Mr. Garmin, I was all prepared to give you the review of the 405 that I promised a few weeks back.  It was going to be a pretty decent review too.  Too bad he won’t turn on.  Any tips? 

Honestly though, I love this little guy.  He’s completely changed the way I think about my running and the way I train.  I never realized before how much my speed varies between a quick three-miler (I average about a 9:30 pace) and a long run (Sunday’s was an average of 11:04).  It was my first double-digit run of the season so I took it really slow, maybe too slow.  I was afraid of tiring myself out early in the game, but knowing I felt good in those last few miles (pace closer to 10:30) helps me to I know I can pick it up for next weekend.  I feel I should defend my time a bit here and note that Baltimore county is exceptionally hilly. I feel valid saying this as I grew up 1.5 hours outside of San Francisco, aka the hilliest of hilly locales and thus, I know my hills.  It’s rough driving up some of these hills, let alone running them.  Ok, back to the Garmin…

My only qualms about the 405 are:

  • It’s HUGE on my wrist.  I have to wear a sweat band wrapped underneath of it to keep it in place.  They really ought to make the thing adjustable or in various sizes.   Who came up with this one-size-fits-all gimmick anyway?  It fits my husband who is 6’2″ and has 100lbs on me perfectly, but that doesn’t really help me much now does it? 
  • I can’t figure out how to set the display screen.  I’ve gone in and set all my data fields, but I still feel like it shows me whatever it wants to.  Sometimes it displays two fields, sometimes one.  Sometimes it shows me how far I’ve gone, sometimes how far I have to go.  As I manically press buttons mid-gallop I am sometimes successful in finding the display I’m looking for. Sometimes not.  I’ve yet to determine if this is user error or not, so I won’t hold this against the watch, but I will go as far as to say that if it is user error, it’s not a very user friendly interface, because I’m not altogether that dense.  Really… I’m not.**
  • The blank screen.  What gives? Is there really not a reset button on this thing? I wish I could tell if it was not charging, or charging but not turning on.  At least then I would know if it was the power cord or not.  Sad panda. 😦

**UPDATE:  After contacting the folks at Garmin they offered to fully overhaul my 405.  I packaged Mr. Garmin up and shiped him off.  A week later he was returned to me better than ever.  I am now able to choose my display settings without difficulty and can say with certainty that my experience with the 405 was atypical as the device had a few glitches.   After two months of use, I’ve had yet to experience any further issues with the display and/or settings.  Aside from the fact that the watch is still HUGE on my wrist, requiring me to wear a sweatband underneath to keep it in place, I’m really pleased with the product and the service.

Ok, on to the highlights (I know, I’m a total Debbie Downer today.  It’s safe to say it’s work stress, but we won’t get into all of that).  Typically, I’m completely drained of any and all energy after a long run.  Even if I load up on protein afterward, I’m usually pretty useless for the rest of the day.  Now, I’m not saying I had tons of energy after my nap yesterday, but I did make it to my husband’s football game and spent three hours on the field socializing and whatnot.  I even lasted through a few TV dramas when we got back to the house.  And then I slept. For ten hours.  But that’s still worlds better than I can usually say for myself.  Go me!  And, even better?  I don’t have an inkling of pain today!!  Crazy!  I wonder how much of that I can contribute to our new super-fantasic Sleep Number bed? 

If only I had as good of a time ON my run, as I have AFTER it…. Well, there’s always next weekend’s 10 miler!

When your brain chatter gets you down, what do you do to snap out of it?