Friday Favorites: What’s In My Gym Bag

It’s been quite some time since I did a Friday Favorites post! I thought now that I’m attending a lot of fitness classes, it would a great opportunity for me to share with you the favorite things I keep in my gym bag. So far since being injured I’ve taken a bunch of different yoga classes (including aerial!), spin classes, and my current beloved, Refine Method. It’s almost a guarantee that I’ll be a sweaty mess after every class, so I make sure to pack my bag accordingly – doesn’t matter whether I have errands to do after class or I’m just going home… no one wants to smell or be sweaty on the train or while walking home in the cold!

Gym Bag Essentials | FoodosaurusRex.com

My collage making skills are less than stellar, so this one goes counter-clockwise… which kind of drives me insane, but I don’t have the patience or time to re-make the collage.

Forever21 Gym Bag

The most important piece here is my gym bag, obviously. I never had the need for one before, but since I started taking classes that require me to hop on the train, I knew it was time to upgrade from my old Long Champ Le Pliage tote. I really loved the look of quite a few bags, but didn’t want to plunk down the cash for something that was just going to hold my sweaty clothes and sneakers. Eventually I found one from Forever21 that was only $23 and had great reviews. I figured that for $23, I couldn’t go wrong! I’ve been using it multiple times a week for a few weeks now and couldn’t be happier with it. It has plenty of compartments both inside and out, and is large enough to hold everything I could possibly need without being a huge bag. Unfortunately they don’t have the same bag online anymore, but they do have a few others that look awesome!

Pacifica Coconut Water Facial Wipes

I got these facial wipes as a sample pack in the Fitness Magazine Meet & Tweet goodie bag, immediately fell in love with them, and went to Target to buy some. They smell amazing (think coconut butter on a tropical island) and do a good job of wiping off all the dirt and sweat without being harsh. My skin is really sensitive (and dry and acne prone, yay!) so I have to be careful about what products I use. I love them so much that I also bought some of their body butter which is equally amazing.

Nathan Power Shower Body Wipes

These bad-boys are a life saver. I’ve had plans after almost every Refine Method class (usually errands or brunch and not something that required a full shower) and I sweat a lot, so these have come in handy. One wipe is all you need to refresh yourself and feel like you can go about your business without being the smelly kid in class. They aren’t a shower replacement by any means, but they definitely keep me from feeling gross. I bought a bunch on Amazon and they’ve been perfect after races where I want to hang out and cheer or go grab food after!

Nuun/Picky Bars Water Bottle

This might seem silly, but I’m kind of picky about my water bottles when it comes to working out. I want something that I can easily grab and don’t have to struggle with to get a drink from. The bottles that I’ve gotten from Nuun and Picky Bars do the trick! The body of the bottle has enough give so I can squeeze it if I’m in dire need of water, and the  top doesn’t require anything fancy from me in order to actually get water out. Plus, it fits perfectly on a FlyWheel bike, next to my yoga mat, or in between stations at Refine Method!

Infinity Scarves! 

With winter (officially) only a few days away, I’ve found an infinity scarf is the perfect thing to have with me for pre and post class. It keeps me warm on the walk there, but it also helps to keep my sweaty hair off my neck for the walk home! My favorites are the Oiselle Runfinity scarf (I have the regular stripe in fresh green, the lux runfinity in fast red, and the fleece infinity scarf) as well as the Lululemon Vinyasa scarf. I pack one even if it’s a “warmer” day because by the time I’m heading home and back out in the cooler air after sweating, I need a little something extra. Once the cooler weather months hit, you can almost always find me wearing some type of scarf, so it seemed only natural to wear it to and from my workouts, too!

Tell me…
Do you have any gym bag essentials? 
What’s your favorite group fitness class?

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BackJoy: Posture Positives!

A few weeks ago, I was contacted about BackJoy products and their #GiveBackJoy campaign. As someone who has horrible posture and is always up for spreading the word about companies doing something good, I was more than happy to participate.

So, as a participant in BackJoy’s “Give Back, Spread Joy” campaign, I received a PostureWear Shirt, Sit Smart Posture Plus, and Roller balls. I’ve been well aware of my poor posture for over a decade; my mom was constantly telling me to “stand up straight!” in middle school and high school, but I usually just shrugged it off. Most of the time I chalked it up to being exhausted – she’d notice it the most while I was down on the pool deck during a swim meet. My excuse was always that it was mid-meet and I was either tired from just racing or trying to conserve energy and not wasting my time with perfect posture! Well, I haven’t competed in a swim meet in 6 years, and my posture still kind of sucks.

backjoy

I think my poor posture is a combination of things, but there are two glaring reasons. One, my torso is rather long, so I just naturally lean forward a bit. Second, I have a weak core (as pointed out by my physical therapist last week – more on that in another post!), so I get tired quickly when trying to sit or stand up straight. These aren’t medical issues by any means, so I don’t really have an excuse for my poor posture aside from just being lazy about it. So when I got the PostureWear Shirt, Sit Smart Posture Plus, and Roller balls, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to stop being lazy and start getting better about my posture. I mean, good posture can help with so many things… especially that little sport I love so much (running)!

So onto the products. As a runner, I’m a huge fan of the roller balls. They’ve been great for trigger point work on my legs, but also to help work out some tightness and kinks I’ve had in my back since starting to cross-train more (hello upper back knots!). It’s worth noting that my cats also love playing with them. Since I sit most of the day working either at my desk, table, or on the couch, the Sit Smart Posture Plus was an interesting addition. I could feel it encouraging me to sit up straight rather than collapse my core and slump forward and it was easy to move from seat to seat with me. While I haven’t had any long drives yet, I imagine it would be the perfect addition to a car ride – my back often hurts just from being in the car for an hour! The most fascinating product (to me) was the PostureWear shirt. I couldn’t help but think, how could a shirt help my posture? I’m not exaggerating when I say that as soon as I put it on, I could feel myself standing taller. As the product description states, its “ergonomic fit is flexible and comfortable enough to wear during both high and low intensity sports. It features a seamless construction for a comfortable fit, and performance fabric that wicks away moisture.” I was fascinated by the shirt because I could truly feel it encouraging me to stand with proper posture, and it wasn’t uncomfortable!

So at this point, you’re probably wondering why I decided to do a blog post about these products. First and foremost, I think they’re actually good products that can help with poor posture… I think I’ve seen an improvement in the way I sit during the day and it doesn’t feel like such a struggle to sit or stand tall (though I’m far from having “good posture” and I certainly don’t have it all the time). But more importantly, BackJoy is donating $100 worth of their products to chronic pain and rehabilitation centers (such Wounded Warrior Project and Denver Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center) just for this blog post alone (and any others)! I’ve been trying more and more to give back whenever and wherever I can, so I couldn’t turn down this opportunity.

If you have less than stellar posture like myself or suffer from back issues, I encourage you to check out these products – they might be just what you need to help ease your pain and get you to stand up taller!

Disclaimer: These BackJoy products were provided at no cost to me. All opinions are my own.

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Cross Training Tools: The Zero Runner

Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to attend an event hosted by Octane Fitness featuring their Zero Runner machine. The machine, similar to an elliptical, offers a more realistic running-like motion to its user with zero impact to joints. Because it so closely mimics the motion of running without the constant pounding of being out on the pavement, it’s a perfect cross-training and injury prevention tool for a runner to add to their “runner’s toolbox.” At the event, we listened to Olympian Carrie Tollefson and “recreational” runner Larry Schmidt talk about the machine and how they incorporate it into their training (I say recreational with quotes because Larry has competed in 80+ marathons, 100+ mile endurance runs, Ironmans, and more!). By the end of the night all I could think about was how great it would be to get my hands on one of these machines!

You’re probably thinking, what’s so great about this? Well, if you’ve ever been injured, you know how hard it can be to sit idle without running. Sure, you can go to a physical therapist’s office and hop on their (super expensive) Alter-G treadmill, or spend time in the pool running… but it’s not really the same. The Zero Runner is a relatively affordable (comparable to a treadmill or other at-home fitness equipment) machine you can own and use for both rehab and prehab. As I mentioned in my last post, I need to do a better job with my own prehab – it isn’t always easy to remember that injury prevention is something that needs to be practiced all the time, even when you’re feeling good.

Hearing from Carrie Tollefson and Larry Schmidt about their experiences with running and injury was fascinating. I’m a C Tolle Run fan, but I admittedly didn’t know that much about Carrie’s running career. Learning about all of the injuries she faced (multiple stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, hernias…) and her belief that if a machine like the Zero Runner was around during her elite training days she could have prolonged her career was an eye opener. I find myself often forgetting about the long term when it comes to running – it’s a sport I love and one I want to be able to do well into old age – I need to be diligent in not only preventing injuries, but dealing with them in a way that won’t hurt me down the line when they do happen. As they said at the event, all runners want three things: to be efficient, to run faster and longer, and to stay injury free… and sometimes that’s easier said than done!

Some of the major highlights I took away from the event (a.k.a tl;dr):

  • The machine is almost completely silent, battery powered, and cordless. Making it easy to use anywhere, at any time.
  • They have an app for the machine that you can connect to and see not only your running stats, but also your gait and cadence.
  • It offers “Cross Circuit,” meaning you can do more than just ‘run’ on the machine – you can easily attach strength bands to make it a full-body workout.
  • It’s really suitable for everyone – from a casual exerciser all the way to elite athletes.
  • It’s perfect for prehab, active recovery, and the always dreaded rehab.

The Zero Runner is a really impressive machine, and one that I want to own. So naturally I was jealous when one of the event attendees won one (spoiler: it wasn’t me)! I can honestly say that I left the event feeling more inspired to be diligent about my cross-training and injury prevention than I already was. Now I just need to figure out how I can get one of these into my apartment!

Feel free to check out Octane Fitness and the Zero Runner on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to learn more!

This post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Octane Fitness.

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More Than Running

When you love a sport, you want to do that sport all the time. And when you’re trying to be competitive in it (whether “competitive” means against others or just yourself), it’s easy to get wrapped up in doing just that. But if there’s one thing I know as an athlete, it’s that you need to do more than just your sport in order to excel.

As a swimmer in high school and college, I understood the importance of “dryland.” I didn’t always make it a priority, but I always tried to remind myself that there was more to swimming than just swimming. When I actually hit the weight room and did things to supplement my time in the pool, I saw results. I’ll never forget the summer after a disappointing freshman year season – I made as many 6am long course practices as possible and, thanks to not really having a job (which was not so fun when I had no money sophomore year) I also did a lot of running and weight training. It paid off big time and I told myself I’d be diligent with cross-training for the rest of my swimming career.

No shame then, no shame now. See, I used to swim!

No shame then, no shame now. See, I used to swim!

Well, my swimming career ended (for now), but I didn’t keep the promise to myself to be good at cross-training when I started running. I’ve found myself being great at it when I’m injured, but as soon as I start to get into the depths of training for whatever upcoming race, my cross-training falls by the wayside. It’s a combination of things; I’m tired, I’m spending more time running and have less time for “other stuff,” and if we’re being honest, sometimes I’m just plain lazy. But with this last injury preventing me from running a fall marathon for the second year in a row, I realized it was time to get serious. Or as my mother would say, time to shit or get off the pot.

Since I’m slightly injured right now, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to explore some cross-training options that would allow me to help me reach my running goals. Not having to worry about weekend morning long runs leaves time for fitness classes that I would otherwise skip because I wouldn’t want to waste energy on a non-running activity, or be afraid I’d be too sore. I’m also much closer to a variety of fitness options that I didn’t really have before… so there’s really no excuse!

Swimmer turned runner... kind of.

Swimmer turned runner… kind of.

This past weekend I got adventurous and tried two new-to-me workouts. First up was yoga with Dori on Saturday at a local yoga studio. After finding an Amazon Local deal a few weeks ago, we decided it would be in both of our best interests to check it out. The studio, Jivamukti Yoga, offers a variety of classes throughout the day, which is convenient. Unfortunately they don’t offer any early classes, making it a weeknight and/or weekend-only kind of thing.

Since we’ve both practiced yoga before, but it’s been awhile for us (and we’re far from experts), we decided to try the Beginner Vinyasa class. The mid-afternoon class was small (there were 7 of us including myself and Dori) which allowed for personal attention and a relaxing environment. We started with some chanting which I always have to try not to smile/laugh during because I’m a child, and then we moved on to some basic poses and a few sequences. It felt good to stretch out while also getting a little bit of a workout (my back and arms were slightly sore the next day). We ended the class working on an assisted shoulder stand, but both Dori and I agreed it would have been easier with out the blanket prop. It also made me realize the importance of a shirt with an elastic or adjustable waistband! Since we purchased a 5-class package, we’ll definitely be back. I’m looking forward to trying some of the other types of classes they offer, like their spirit warrior class which is a one-hour workout styled class, as well as their aerial vinyasa.

On Sunday, I finally tried out Refine Method, which I’ve been meaning to try for a long time. I have a lot of friends who love it, so now that I’m a quick PATH ride away from the city, it was the perfect time to give it a try.

As with all new things, I was a little nervous for my first class. Not because I thought I wouldn’t be able to do the work, rather I was scared of the unknown. I didn’t want to look like a total newbie, and sometimes when I’m working out I don’t pay close attention to instructions which leaves me clueless. Thankfully I had nothing to worry about because Dori was with me to help, and it was all really straight forward and simple – I wasn’t confused at all! The instructor, Laura, took the time to introduce herself and set me up on their pulley system, and to tell me what weights she thought I should use. Once the class started it was go-go-go for 55 minutes (followed by core-work and a cool-down for the last 5 minutes).

I was dripping sweat by the end of the class, and knew I’d be sore on Monday. We did everything from side lunges with single leg squats, to jump-backs (burpees) and kettlebell swings. My favorite part about the class was that each exercise was done for no more than a minute at a time, and just as you were starting to feel like you couldn’t continue, it was time to switch to the next exercise! And each set included a move targeting your upper body, followed by one targeting your lower body (or vice versa). It really is a total body workout that pushes you without feeling impossible. I felt really accomplished by the end of class, and was already thinking about when to go back! I think doing workouts like this two times a week could really help with my running because a lot of the exercises are things that are part of my simple strength work now. The classes are a little expensive, but I think I can make it work if I scale back on other things (aka my online shopping habit).

Needless to say, I’m ready to put in the work – both with my runs as well as my cross-training to make sure I stay strong, healthy, and get to the start line so I can crush my goals!

Tell me…
Do you cross train to supplement your running (if you’re a runner)? And if so, what do you do?
What’s your favorite workout?

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Marathon Pause

When I signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon, still high off of my spring half marathon PR, I was ready to crush training and run the race I know I’m capable of running. I had plenty of time to train, a great coach, and enough dances with the 26.2 distance to know what was required of me. My schedule was going to be a little hectic with wedding festivities almost every weekend in September and October, but I figured if that was the only hiccup I would be able to manage. A wrench was thrown in when I wound up moving – which was both exciting because I’d finally be in a location I wanted, but stressful because moving is stressful! – but I still had every intention of racing the Philly Marathon. Well, sometimes life gives you lemons and lemonade all at once.

Training was getting done, but I wasn’t running the way I wanted to. I had to skip a few long runs/cut them short due to being just straight up tired, and others were a mental battle to not only get out the door, but to actually finish the prescribed distance (though oddly enough one of my best runs was an 18 miler during a downpour). With all the weddings, moving, working, and trying to train, I think my strength work suffered. So I wasn’t shocked when I noticed the all too familiar twinge outside of my knee after a quick but easy 4 miler at the beginning of October. I took a few days off with some extra strength work and foam rolling and everything seemed to be okay – I ran 17 miles last weekend, and had an awesome fartlek workout last Tuesday. But then this past Friday during my long run (which was moved due to a bachelorette party this past weekend), the little twinge outside the knee I had felt two weeks prior slowly but surely developed into a sharp pain. Dreaded ITBS had reared its ugly head on my left side (I had an issue with it this past January on my right side). I made it to 10 miles, stopped, and spent the next mile doing a little run/walk combination in hopes it would somehow just go away. It didn’t, so after a few expletives left my mouth, I had to walk two miles home.

It was during that two mile walk home that I knew I needed to let go of my hopes to run the Philly Marathon. The thought had crept into my mind when the pain first appeared, but I was hopeful I could still salvage things. But this was the nail in the proverbial marathon training coffin. There hadn’t been enough mileage put into the bank earlier, and the last thing I wanted to do was run yet another marathon that my goal was to just finish. The next time I train for and run a marathon, I want it to be the race I know I’m capable of running. I e-mailed Jason and let him know what was going on and he confirmed what I was thinking: I will not be running the Philadelphia Marathon on November 23rd. Or the half. There isn’t any running on my schedule for the next week, but starting tomorrow I’m getting back into strength work… and then I’m going to take it from there. I joked that maybe I should swear off marathons and Jason said I can’t just yet. So when am I going to attempt my next marathon? Who knows. Maybe this spring. Or maybe not until next Fall. But I know that I can’t let my dream of a successful marathon go just yet – I have visions of myself crossing the finish line with that goal time flashing on the clock and I get butterflies thinking about it. So it’ll happen… one day.

Of course I’m bummed, but I know that in the grand scheme of things it isn’t that big of a deal. I’d much rather deal with the pain now, rather than during the race! So, onward and upward!

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Recipe: Southwestern Stuffed Acorn Squash

It was starting to feel like fall late last week, so I picked up an acorn squash at the Farmer’s Market on Thursday thinking I could put it to good use this week with the cooler weather. Naturally the temperatures have been in the upper 70’s all week – summer forever, please! – which doesn’t really put me in the mood for a warm fall dish… but I made one anyway. And when I shared it on Instagram and everyone was interested in the recipe, I figured I’d share it with you all!

This comes together pretty easily and it doesn’t require you to do multiple things at once which I always appreciate. I made this as my main dish, but you could easily have it as a side to something else. Acorn squash are great vehicles to stuff with pretty much anything – so get creative!

Stuffed Acorn Squash | FoodosaurusRex.com

Southwestern Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Serves 2 - 

Ingredients:
1 acorn squash
3 cups kale, roughly chopped
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 can (15oz) black beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup cous cous
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used a cheddar blend)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Slice the squash in half, remove the seeds. Spray a baking sheet and cut side of the squash with non-stick spray and place the squash cut side down. Bake for 30-35 minutes. 
3. Meanwhile, prepare the cous cous by bringing 3/4 cup of salted water to a boil. Add the cous cous, stir, cover and remove from the heat. Fluff after  5 minutes. 
4. Heat the tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add the kale, sauteing for another 5 minutes. 
5. Add the garlic, beans, spices (chili powder, cumin, paprika, and oregano). Cook until beans are heated through, about 2 minutes.
6. In a large bowl, combine the kale and bean mixture with the cous cous. 
7. When the squash is done, flip them over and spoon the filling into the squash cavity (it’s okay if it’s overflowing). Top with cheese and bake another 2 minutes until the cheese is melted. 

 

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Reflections: Internet Friends

A few weeks ago I attended a conference for work (put on by my company). Being a software development company and trying to stay on-trend with social media, the event had a hashtag and participants were encouraged to Tweet and Instagram throughout the week using the conference hashtag. Being the good employee that I am, at one point I Instagrammed a picture of cupcakes that were served during one of the session breaks. Later than evening while talking with a few partners, one stopped, looked at me and said; “You posted a picture of cupcakes earlier, right? And you’re a swimmer turned runner? Sorry, this sounds creepy.” I couldn’t help but laugh, and it actually didn’t creep me out. I mean, I put it out on the Internet, didn’t I?

At one point during the conversation (where he went on to say how he doesn’t like things like Facebook to post his own stuff, but likes reading about others… okay), I told him how I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some really great people through the Internet. And it got me thinking… I’ve been really lucky! I remember not too long ago talking to “strangers” on the Internet was dangerous. AOL chat rooms? Better hide the screen when your parents walk by! Meeting someone from the Internet? Forget about it! Yet now in my late twenties (when did that happen?) I’ve been fortunate enough to forge some really special bonds and create real friendships… thanks to the good ‘ole Internets.

I have a few great examples of how fortunate I’ve been with people I’ve met online and how those online relationships have become true friendships. One of my very first Internet-turned-real-life friends was Krissy. We connected over a love for running and Disney, and when we finally met IN Disney (of course) in 2012, it felt like we had been friends forever. She’s always so positive and enthusiastic, and runs full marathons like it ain’t no thang.

Runnin' with Krissy & Ashley at the Nike Women's Half in 2013!

Runnin’ with Krissy & Ashley at the Nike Women’s Half in 2013!

Another great example of this was yesterday. Ashley, who I first connected with on Twitter based on our love of running and New Jersey, quickly became a close friend. We hang out (which usually involves food), run together, complain to each other about work on g-chat, and yesterday I had the pleasure of attending her wedding! If you had asked me just a few years ago if I’d be attending the wedding of someone I met on the Internet, I would have looked at you funny. But I did and it was wonderful (of course)! And Dori, who I also connected with via Twitter because we were both running Richmond last year… now lives two doors down from me! And she introduced me to two other awesome ladies who love to run, eat, drink, and snark (some of my favorite things!). Talk about fate.

Ashley & Dori!

Ashley & Dori!

And there’s my favorite diner date, Hollie, who I can text any time with random thoughts and will likely reply that she was thinking the same thing. Her name isn’t FueledByLOLZ for nothing – she always knows how to make me laugh, and can provide invaluable running advice whenever I need it.

Just hangin' out in the subway

Just hangin’ out in the subway

I’d be remiss not to mention all of the wonderful women I’ve met through the Oiselle Team, and while I can’t name them all, I’m thankful for the bond I’ve formed with so many great women across the country.  Not to mention my birthday twin Allie!

My favorite birthday twin

My favorite birthday twin

Even though the Internet has been around for quite some time and social media isn’t anything new, it still blows my mind that you can have these connections with complete strangers, who turn out to be some of your very best friends. I can go from sharing a few 140 character interactions with someone to talking on g-chat (cough, Leticia, cough), to texting and hanging out, to attending their wedding! Maybe this is a sappy post because I’m coming down from a love-fest high of weddings three weekends in a row and I’m just so thankful to have a close friend living mere steps away, but this whole social media thing has connected me with so many great people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. The Internet is a funny place… and I’m grateful for it.

Tell me…
What’s your favorite way to connect with people online? (mine is obviously Twitter!)

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Omron Electrotherapy Review & Giveaway!

*UPDATE*: The giveaway winner has been chosen! And thanks to random.org, it was commenter #6 – Hollie!
[Hollie, I will e-mail you to get your info!]

Disclaimer: The Omron Elctrotherapy unit was provided at no cost to me. All views and opinions are my own.

It’s no secret that marathon training hurts. Usually it’s that “good kind of hurt” where you wake up in the morning, take those first few steps, and immediately remember the long run or hard workout from the day before. I always joke about it, but sometimes I really do feel like an old lady first thing in the morning! Of course this isn’t the case every day, but as runs get longer and workouts get harder, there’s no denying the residual soreness. I foam roll, ice, and spend plenty of time with my legs up the wall, but sometimes you just need a little something extra. So when I was given the opportunity to try an Omron Electrotherapy Unit, I couldn’t say no. Especially when they offered to provide my readers one as well!

Omron Electrotherapy Unit

The idea behind the electrotherapy unit is that it can provide nerve stimulation through electrical pulses, aka TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation). Depending on the problem area and the level of discomfort you’re experiencing, you can customize each session to fit your needs. The machine itself is small and very easy to use; it’s just like a remote control! And since it comes with two pads that can be placed almost anywhere, the uses are endless. Sore back? No problem. Cranky calf? Give it a zap!

I won’t pretend I wasn’t skeptical at first. I mean, could this little machine really make my muscles feel better? Well my quads were conveniently very sore a week ago, so I put it to the test. It was kind of fun to sit there and watch my my muscles involuntarily twitch (which is why I took a video of it, obviously). With each contraction and release I could feel my muscles relaxing. Now don’t get me wrong, it didn’t make my legs feel brand-new, but it definitely helped speed up the recovery process. I definitely think it’s a nice addition to any runner’s arsenal of recovery tools… or anyone who has lots of aches and pains!

Lucky for you guys, I have one to give away to a reader! All you have to do is leave a comment below and let me know your favorite recovery tool. You have until Wednesday (10/8/14) at 9pm EST to enter!

 

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Friday Favorites

How about a little Friday Favorites to kick off the first official weekend of Fall? As usual there is no particular theme… just what I’m currently loving!

Free People Convertible Crossbody Bag

A few months ago I decided I needed a new crossbody bag; specifically one that had a fold-over top. I’m the kind of person that once I get something in my head that I want, I search and search until I find it. It took me a few days, but eventually I found a bag that was cute, functional, and wouldn’t break the bank. Enter this Free People purse!

bag

I love this bag for a few reasons. First, it’s vegan, so I don’t have to feel badly about carrying it around. And it’s already worn-in so it has that soft leather feel. It’s also convertible! I can leave the fold-over flap out, or I can fold it into the bag and zip it closed that way. It has a long strap that can be worn as a crossbody or shoulder bag, but it also has handles in case I just want to grab it or throw it on my arm.

 

Vous Vitamins

When I was asked if I’d be interested in sampling some customized vitamins by Vous Vitamins, I jumped at the offer. When I lived in Brooklyn, I remember taking Flinstone’s Vitamins and loving them. But, when we moved to New Jersey, my mom started giving me prescription vitamins. I was always mad that I couldn’t have any of the “cool” vitamins, and by the time I was in high school I stopped taking them all together. Now as an adult I try to take them, but I’m admittedly not very good at remembering.

vous

I absolutely love the idea of customized vitamins. All you have to do is take their quick questionnaire online which asks questions about your dietary and exercise habits, where you live, your age, and how you generally feel. You then get your vitamins, and they suggest taking two with a large glass of water after a meal. Of course, if you prefer, you can take one in the morning and one in the evening. While I don’t feel remarkably different (which I wouldn’t expect just from some vitamins) I do like knowing that I’m making sure my body is getting all the nutrients it needs – especially during marathon training!

 

Oiselle Portman Pants

I fell in love with the moto trend a little late last year, so I didn’t really have the opportunity to capitalize on it for fear that it wouldn’t still be a trend this fall. Lucky for me it is, so I’ve been snatching up plenty of moto inspired pieces over the last few weeks. A few months ago Oiselle shared a sneak-peek picture of a pair of moto inspired leggings, and I knew as soon as I saw them I’d have to have them (mind you, this was without seeing the entire pant).

Hello, moto

Hello, moto

So after patiently waiting, I scooped up the Portman Pant as soon as they hit the website. I got them last Friday, and I’ve already worn them twice. It hasn’t been cool enough for me to run in them, but they were perfect travel pants when I went to visit my sister in Rochester last weekend. They’re super soft like my beloved flow tights, but the detail makes you feel like you’re wearing more than “just” leggings. I have no doubt in my mind that these are going to be a staple for me this fall and winter on those days where I want to be comfy and cozy, but also look like I’m wearing more than just running clothes or lounge pants.

 

Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters

On my first trip this past July to visit my sister in Rochester, NY we stopped to get coffee from one of her favorite local coffee places, Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters. She works in the medical center at The University of Rochester which is attached to the city’s main hospital, and they have a FLR coffee shop there as well as a bunch of stores in the area. I had high hopes for when I finally made it to the store since she’d been texting me about all the fun coffee flavors she’d been having for months. Naturally when I got to the store I was like a kid in a (coffee) candy shop.

FLR

When I went the first time I decided to bring back one bag of coffee, coconut. We left the bag in the car as we went to do other errands, and by the time we got back my sister’s entire car smelled like coconut coffee… yum! It tasted as good as it smelled, and I finished it within a week! On my most recent trip I decided to try two new flavors: salted caramel and streusel cake. I haven’t had the streusel cake yet, but so far I’m loving the salted caramel. I’ve had plenty of flavored coffees that have beans that smell amazing, but when you actually brew it there isn’t much flavor. Well, not Finger Lakes Roasters. This coffee tastes as good as it smells! It also made my luggage on the trip home smell amazing.

 

Wedding Season!

Yup, it’s that time of year again… wedding season! Mine kicked off a little later this year with the first on September 6th. I have one this weekend, as well as the next two weekends (till mid-October)! While having to get up at 5am to do my long runs before the fun starts isn’t my favorite, I love the chance to get dressed up and hang out with some of my very best friends. Who doesn’t like a little love in the air?!

Mustaches of some sort are a requirement at weddings with me... sorry?

Mustaches of some sort are a requirement at weddings with me… sorry?

Hope you have a great weekend!

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Race Recap: Greta’s Run 5k

I remember September 11th, 2002 just as clearly as I remember September 11th, 2001. The days were eerily similar – beautiful blue skies, light winds, and a perfect late summer/early fall day… and tragic. After a moment of silence outside on our high school’s front lawn for the first anniversary of September 11th, I went off to lunch. Our high school offered four lunch periods, 5th, 6th, 7th, or 8th… and I was lucky enough to have 5th (yes, I was hungry by 10:54am for lunch). After that I can’t remember what class I had, but I remember being in math class 7th period. That’s when our principal came over the loud speaker to let us know there had been an accident in the front of the school, and that everyone needed to stay put. Naturally we all began to panic. My classroom was towards the back of the school near some fields, and we just watched as police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances went racing by. It seemed like hours passed… and they did. Our teacher would get a phone call every so often with information, but she wouldn’t share much. Eventually though, we saw a helicopter land on the field out back, and a few stretchers go racing by.

I’d later learn that during 7th period, as students were sitting out front eating lunch, a gust of wind came along that was strong enough to knock a very large (dead) tree branch from it’s trunk. Under normal circumstances this wouldn’t have been an issue, as students wouldn’t have been in the front of the school at that time. However, construction prevented them from sitting in the courtyard, so the tables had been moved to the front. Unfortunately the giant tree branch fell on a group of students (mostly freshmen) eating lunch. Everyone recovered, except for Greta. Her injuries were too severe, and three days later she passed away. Our school was rocked to the core by this tragedy – how could a student, simply sitting outside eating her lunch during the first week of school, be killed? It just didn’t make sense. I had known the family from YMCA swimming, and was completely heartbroken for them. There were vigils, wakes, and the funeral that almost the entire student body attended. I know that I will vividly remember those days for the rest of my life.

But as it happens so often, out of tragedy comes something positive. Last year, one of my friends (and former CCD students) organized a 5k run in Westfield to raise funds for a program to serve adults with special needs, who typically age-out of programs as they get older. So while I wasn’t able to run last year, I made sure to mark it on my calendar early and register right away for this year. I knew that regardless of the outcome of my actual race that it was a cause I wanted to help support! But onto the actual race report…

The race didn’t start until 11am, so I had plenty of time to get a good night’s sleep and have my pre-race breakfast. My mom came with me to the race, and we were there with plenty of time to spare. I went for a quick warm-up, and lined myself up towards the front of the race. I started chatting with a fellow runner, who it turns out knows quite a few people I went to high school with! After some songs from the choir (that’s right, choir), it was time to run. Per the usual, I nearly tripped over a little boy who started in front of me and decided to stop about 50 yards past the start. Thankfully I didn’t fall (and I don’t think he did either). The first mile came relatively quickly (6:38) and I felt decent. I knew that if I could hold on to that pace, I’d PR. Of course by 1.5 miles I wanted to quit, but I knew I had to keep going. By the time I was halfway, I had picked off quite a few runners, including a handful of females. No one was saying anything, but based on what I could see ahead of me I knew I was either second or third. I slowed down a little during the second mile (6:45), but this portion also had the most “rolling hills.”

New PR! And 2nd Overall Female

New PR! And 2nd Overall Female

I told myself just to hang on the best I could for the third mile, and it was here that I heard someone yell “alright! Second female!” I had no idea how close the third place woman was, so I tried my hardest not to slow down. The course had a lot of turns but I think I managed to cut them all really well (Garmin actually read 3.1!). Once I turned by the middle school I knew we were almost done, so I tried my best to kick it up to “puke pace” … which turned out to be the same pace I ran the first mile in – go figure (6:38). I crossed the finish and saw that the girl I had been chatting with earlier, Erin, was the overall female winner! We grabbed some water and decided to do a cool-down together before heading back over the the finish area for the awards. It didn’t hit me until after I had finished that I ran a 20:35, which is actually just over a minute faster than the PR I set in July. Icing on the cake was my 2nd place female finish!

Kennedy approves of the medal

Kennedy approves of the medal

After the race my mom and I got Starbucks and a sandwich from my favorite bagel shop, and I made a trip to Trader Joe’s before heading home. It was really great to run a race that supported an important cause and was in honor of a really great girl. It was also fun to see a lot of familiar hometown faces and catch up with some people! This is definitely a race I’m going to keep on my calendar for every year.

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