Running and Things

OH HEY. If you’ve been a reader for awhile, you know that my running has been up and down — but mostly down — for the last 3 or so years. Spring and summer 2014 was really great for my running, but by the end of October 2014 I was dealing with a pretty bad case of ITBS that then lead from one thing to another since then. The amount of time I’ve spent running “healthy” versus the time I’ve spent either not running or starting the recovery process is wild. Spoiler alert: the running time has been pretty dang low. So it’s no surprise that whenever I meet-up with or see running friends, they cautiously ask, “so… how’s running going?” For the last 6-ish months or so my answer has been “good enough,” and that’s the truth.

This past summer was pretty decent. I managed to run A LOT of races, which is something I haven’t done in quite some time. Sure, I didn’t put in race effort for the majority of them, but I got to the start line… which is more than I can say for the previous years. In 2015 I made it to 3 start lines… 3! In 2016 I had a little more luck and doubled my numbers, but still struggled a lot. We still have 3 more months in 2017 and I’ve already crossed 16 finish lines!! I’d say that more than makes up for the previous years. In fact, it’s already the most races I’ve run in a calendar year since I started running in 2009. HASHTAG BLESSED.

You’re probably thinking, “So glad to hear you’re back to running for more than a few months at a time, Danielle! But what are you doing differently?!” Well, despite having the most races completed on my calendar this year, I’ve taken a new approach of not signing up for races far in advance. Or putting anything big or goal oriented on the calendar. Yes, 2017 is the first year I haven’t registered for a marathon since 2011 (and I’ve only run 4 with 2 in 2012, so you do the math). Not having big races (or any races) on my calendar takes off so.much.pressure. So when I feel a weird little niggle somewhere (like in random spots on my feet, which I had here and there all summer, but have just been angry tendons because summer footwear is terrible), it’s not a big deal. Obviously I don’t want to be injured (I’ve had enough!) but when I notice things that feel ‘weird’ I don’t immediately panic because I have a race X number of weeks or months away. I can take a day or two and reassess without it being a blow to my training. And we can all use a little LESS stress in our lives, am I right?!

So I’ve been running around 15-20 miles per week, averaging about 3 days of running with 3 days of cross-training (yoga, strength, cycling). I’ve run races ranging from a 5k to a half marathon, and I even got within striking range of my 5k PR earlier this month. All of the races I completed this year have me IN for the NYC Half in March as well as the NYC Marathon in November 2018, so those are the next “big” races I have… but there’s no pressure because I can cancel either up until the night before! And now I’m at a point where I’ve been healthy-ish long enough that I’m starting to think maybe I can do some real training. But without actually signing up for anything, “just in case.”

Ultimately, I’d like to run a 5k PR. And a 10k PR. And get close to my half marathon PR from 2014 (I think a half marathon PR will still take some time, and I don’t want to get ahead of myself). I think the 5k is realistic, as is the 10k because I really haven’t run that many. I took this last week completely off from running as a reset of sorts. Even though I haven’t been running a ton, I ran races 3 weekends in a row in September, and every weekend in June. So while I still worked out this past week, it wasn’t running. My plan for the rest of the year is to build myself to a point where I could PR in the 5k and/or 10k by the end of the year, and then continue building off of that to run a solid half marathon in the spring. Of course, this all depends on if my body cooperates or not. But I’m really hoping it does this time. Only time will tell.

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Newport Half Marathon: Let’s Run Together!

By this point, I’ve written a few “let’s run together!” posts. Last year thanks to my silly stress reaction they were both busts and I didn’t run (but I did cheer, and get called a bitch for cowbelling at 9am, LOLZ)… but this year is different! I posted about and actually ran the Newport 10k, and it’s almost time for the Newport Half… and I want you to come run with me!

The Newport Half runs basically along a similar route that I run almost every time I lace up my sneakers and head out the door in Jersey City. It’s flat, fast, and timed perfectly; mid-September, which allows you to get in a decent half marathon and see where all those humid slogfest miles have gotten you, right before your fall marathon! Here are some of the details:

What: Newport Half Marathon

When: September 17, 2016 at 8:30am

Where: Newport Town Square – 100 Town Square Pl Jersey City, NJ 07310

Background: Jersey City’s popular half marathon championship marks its 23rd year! Recreational and elite runners from around the country can compete for $3,000 in prize money on a USA Track & Field-certified course that interweaves with the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway from Newport to Liberty State Park.

Beneficiary: Proceeds are being donated to the Jersey City Medical Center, the area’s newest regional teaching hospital, proving the highest level of care for women, infants, and trauma and heart patients.

Registration Price: $50

Seriously, come run with me! Or if you’re in the area, come out and cheer! It was absolutely beautiful last year and I had a fun time cheering. I’m planning to go out for a beer (and food) afterwards… so the more the merrier! And even if you can’t make it this year, keep it in mind for next year.

You can use this link to sign up!

If you’re registered (or wind up registering because of this post), let me know!

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I’m Running & A Giveaway!

Well hello there… it’s been awhile, huh?!

I always think about things I want to blog, but I never take the time to sit down and actually write something up. I’ve also found that any time I’m coming back from a running injury or down time (which has been pretty frequent over the last 3.5 years) when I come here to blog and talk about how I’m finally back, things will be different this time, yadda yadda yadda… I jinx myself and wind up hurt again. So call me crazy, but I’ve been afraid to come here and talk about my running for fear of winding up hurt again! But I’m sure the words on this blog do not correlate to my running injuries, so might as well rip off that proverbial band-aid. And what better way to do it than with a giveaway?! But first, let’s recap running lately.

After my weird femoral stress reaction in March 2016, I took some time off and tried to slowly get back into running. It seemed like I was a little overzealous coming back (not doing anything super long, but maybe running too fast), and so I wound up taking off about another 2 months in the late summer/early fall to try finally get rid of any issues hanging around. I started running again consistently in October to prepare myself for the Disney Half in January. I just wanted to be able to finish the 13.1 miles in one piece, so my mileage wasn’t anything crazy; I was running 3-4x a week with two to three of those runs being 3 to 4 miles, and then one longer run. Everything seemed fine. I went to Disney World… and then the race was cancelled due to bad weather (but I ran around the resort anyway!). When I got back home, I tried to increase my speed and mileage thinking that I was finally far enough away from my initial injury that I could just jump back into things… wrong. I started to feel some weird pains and discomfort in my hip and thigh again in late February, and shut things down. I was SO frustrated because we were now coming up on a year of this femoral drama, with it still nagging me. And I’d been going to PT almost every week for a year! I took off another month and then decided to get back into things VERY slowly. I didn’t have any big races on my calendar, so I was happy with being able to get back into things without stressing over future races. Since starting to run again in mid-March, I’ve just been slowly building my weekly mileage. I’ve done a handful of races, but they’ve all been at a moderate effort; I don’t see myself completing a race at race effort for another few months. In fact, last week was the first week I broke 20 miles per week!

My goal for the summer is to just continue building a solid base for myself. I’ve completed a bunch of New York Road Runner’s races and am signed up for a few more, because no matter how much I try to ignore the facts, the hills of Central Park are helpful for building strength. I love running in Jersey City, but it’s just so flat! No race I’ve completed (with the exception of the Brooklyn Half) or have on my schedule for the foreseeable future is over 10k. It only took 3.5 years, but I’m finally figuring out the combination of things that seem to consistently lead towards my demise. My biggest issue, I think, is that each year I’ve had a big race looming on my schedule in the future, and I’ve tried to scramble to start training for it to get in the appropriate mileage. This has obviously not worked, so I’m excited to not have anything on my schedule over 10k, and nothing past July (as of right now). If the summer goes well, I may consider a late fall half marathon, but I’m not signing up until the last moment if I decide to do it! I’ve also realized that there is a precise way for me to do strength work in conjunction with my running. As much as I’d like to be the person that does multiple workouts a day, that just isn’t for me. Sure, my body can handle it if I’m not running, but once I throw running into the mix, all bets are off. And at the end of the day I want to run… so why jeopardize it?! That isn’t to say I’m not doing anything else, I am… strength training is important! But I’m being more deliberate in what I do and when, and I’m hoping that will make a big difference. So fingers crossed that my relaxed (but smarter) approach to running this summer works out! And now onto the giveaway!

I’m sure most of you have heard of NATHAN Sports. Since I’ve used a few of their products before (their power wash, some reflective gear), I was excited when they reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in partnering with them for Global Running Day. Now I know Global Running Day happened last week, BUT I wanted to make sure I had enough time to test out everything before offering it up as a giveaway… I wouldn’t want to do a giveaway for stuff I didn’t like myself! With summer running in full-swing here in the Northeast, all of these products are great additions. You can enter to win a package with the following goodies:

  • uCool Ultra Cooling Towel – This is a copper infused towel that can cool surface temperature by up to 30 degrees! I can see this coming in mighty handy this summer.
  • Hipster – I’ve been thinking about getting a belt like this for awhile, and I was sold on this one as soon as I read about it. It’s the #1 product across all categories of running essentials. It can hold your keys, gels, ID, cash, lip balm, tissues, hair tie, and even sunglasses! I used mine during the Mini10k this past Saturday and it was so great. Being able to have everything right there on me without needing to check a bag or worry about it fitting in my shorts pocket is a great option.
  • SpeedShot Plus Insulated – An insulated handheld that keeps 12 ounces of fluids, and has a pocket for running essentials. This will be great to have available to me when it starts to get really hot… I’m looking at you, July!
  • Power Wash – I’ve used this wash before, and highly recommend it. It’s eco-friendly, pH neutral and fragrance free, and has a new detergent formulation to combat smelly workout gear. Considering I could smell myself on the train on the way home after the race Saturday, I need to use this more often!

So, how do you enter? Simple! Follow the instructions on Rafflecopter below! This giveaway ends Monday, 6/19 at 1pm EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Let’s Run Together – For Real This Time!

It’s currently snowing (and hailing) outside, but I’m trying to distract myself from it by thinking of warm weather running…

If you remember, last year I wrote a blog post about the Newport 10k in Jersey City that happens each year in May. I was excited to finally run a race in my city, only to have it thwarted with my femoral stress reaction. But good news, I’m going to (attempt to) run it this year! I was so excited when they asked if I’d be a VIP blogger again this year, because I’m determined to get myself to the start (and finish) line this go-around.

Just like last year, there are a few key reasons why I think this race is so great:

  • It starts so close to home! That means I don’t need to take the PATH and subway and worry about travel plans just to get there like I do for most other races. And if even you don’t live IN Jersey City, it’s super easy to get to (you can take the PATH from NYC, or drive since there is ample parking).
  • It runs through my neighborhood. It runs down the street on the opposite side of a small park from my apartment. You can see my apartment as you run by!
  • It’s flat and has minimal turns, which means it’s fast.
  • The views! Yes, I live here and run in the park and along the water multiple times a week, but the views of the city skyline never get old.
  • I know a bunch of people that have run it in the past and sing its praises, which is good enough for me!

So, if you’re looking for a fast spring 10k, come run in Newport with me in May! (Hey look, that rhymed and I didn’t even do it on purpose). Need more details? Here you go!

What: Newport 10K

When: Saturday, May 6th, 2017 at 8:30 a.m. (registration starts at 7am)

Where: Newport Town Square, 100 Town Square Pl, Jersey City, NJ 07310

Background: Known as the fastest course in the tri-state area, the Newport 10,000 is a 10K road race along the Hudson River waterfront in Jersey City’s community of Newport. Recreational and elite runners will have the opportunity to compete at the highest level for their share of $15,400 in prize money. The USA Track & Field-certified course is comprised of flat and local roads that interweave along the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway and provide spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline. Racers have access to four water stops during the race, as well as clocks at each mile. The race will be followed by Newport’s annual Post-Race Party, which is going to feature a live DJ, refreshments and prize drawings. Win NY Mets tickets, NY Red Bulls Tickets, a 1-hour massage or several restaurant gift certificates!

Beneficiary: Proceeds will be donated to the Barnibas Health, Jersey City Medical Center, the area’s newest regional referral teaching hospital, providing the highest level of care for women and infants, and trauma and heart patients.

Sponsors: Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP (title sponsor), Cosi, Courtyard Marriott Jersey City, New Jersey Beer Co., Yelp, Verizon

Distance: 10 kilometers (6.2 miles)

Registration fee: $30

Event Website: http://www.newport10k.com/

Seriously, come run with me! Or if you’re in the area, come out and cheer! It’s been really great weather the last few years (hoping this isn’t jinxing it) and I had a fun time cheering. I’m planning to go out for a beer (and food) afterwards… so the more the merrier! And even if you can’t make it this year, keep it in mind for next year.

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Surprise! I Did Beachbody’s 21 Day Fix

Yup, you read correctly. I didn’t mention it on social media at all, but from November 7th to November 27th, I completed Beachbody’s 21 Day Fix.

I know, I know… you’re probably thinking “WHY?” There is a pretty negative connotation surrounding all things Beachbody, because like with most things, people get overzealous and talk about it non-stop while trying to rope others into it, and I don’t “look like someone that needs to go on a diet.” I actually never had anyone approach me and ask me to ‘join their challenge group’ or ‘think about becoming a coach to make some extra money’ like I’ve heard has happened to a lot of other people. So while I was wary of it, like I am with any ‘quick fix’ type of programs or products, I didn’t have any personal negative experiences with it. In fact, I knew a few people who — wary of it like me — gave it a try and were pleased with their results.

So, why did I decide to try it? Well, I’ve been feeling a little ‘meh’ in my own skin lately. I’ve never been someone to focus on the number on the scale because it can fluctuate A LOT and isn’t always indicative of how I’m feeling. Instead, I focus more on how I’m feeling and the way my clothes are fitting. Since I’ve been in a running injury cycle for the last two-ish years, I’ve been doing a lot of cross-training, not a lot of running, and a lot of eating like crap. I was always convinced that I was working out enough to cancel out my poor eating habits, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that isn’t the case (boo metabolism slowing down). When I was in high school and college I was solidly in the 130-135 pound range, but wore generally the same sizes I do now, and I was in really great shape… I was swimming 2+ hours a day! So when I ate, I ATE. I also had the metabolism of a teenager/someone in their early 20’s, so I could order a double quarter pounder with cheese (super sized!) from McDonalds, eat the whole thing, and live to tell the tale. Gross, I know. Now I can range anywhere from 120-127, and usually feel most comfortable and my ‘fittest’ when I’m closer to 120. So, despite working out 7x a week (sometimes more than once a day), I wasn’t seeing any big changes. I mean, with the weights I was lifting and the cardio I was doing, I felt like I should’ve seen more muscle definition. That’s when I had the unfortunate realization that all those kitschy sayings are true… “abs are made in the kitchen,” “you can’t outrun a bad diet,” etc. Whomp, whomp.

My main goal for the 21-day fix was to get better with my eating. I knew my workouts, generally speaking, were fine on their own. But I also knew that I was definitely not eating enough of the right stuff, and eating too much of the wrong stuff. I didn’t want to do anything wildly restrictive because I knew it wouldn’t be long-lasting, so that’s why the 21-day fix was most appealing. Rather than count calories, you use color coded containers that correspond to different food groups. Green and purple, the largest containers, are for your fruits and veggies. The sizes get smaller from there, but there really isn’t anything you have to completely eliminate. And yes, there’s the Shakeology portion. This isn’t required, but is widely encouraged… I think mostly because it’s actually really expensive. I bought it because it was on sale with the challenge pack, and figured if I was going to do it, I’d go all in. Guess what? Shakeology tastes just like every other kind of protein powder out there… generally gross, but okay enough to suck down. If anyone tells you they love the taste, they’re lying to you… or they don’t have tastebuds. I ordered everything online off of Beachbody’s website, selected my twitter-friend Nicole as my coach, and started trying to plan out how I was going to make it through the 21 days. There are three calorie ranges to choose from based on calculating your current height/weight and how much weight you want to lose. Since I wasn’t really focused on losing weight per say, I selected the middle option. I went through periods of thinking the containers were so small and I was going to starve, to thinking it was actually enough food.

This was the first time I actually did ‘meal prep’ which is all the rage these days. I had given it the side eye in the past, but mostly because I’m lazy and the last thing I want to do on a Sunday afternoon is roast veggies and cook grains for hours. Turns out, though, it isn’t nearly as time consuming as it seems. I bought tons of vegetables, threw them on a pan, and popped them into the oven for awhile. I also cooked a bunch of brown rice and quinoa, and hardboiled eggs. It was relatively quick and easy, and it allowed me to be prepared (and in some cases over prepared), for the week ahead. I pre-portioned out my lunches and snacks to fit the guidelines, and had everything in the fridge organized so there was no thinking involved when it came time to pack my lunch in the morning before work. Having everything planned and a lot of it already cooked made it SO much easier to stick to it. I’m confident that if I hadn’t done all that prep work I would’ve cheated… which defeats the whole purpose!

Of course, I didn’t stick to the plan 100%. During the first week, I attended a wine and cheese party on Saturday. There was no way I was going to pass up delicious cheese, wine, and bread. It just wasn’t going to happen. I tried to be mindful of how much I was eating (and what), but I also didn’t restrict myself. Having that kind of flexibility and wiggle room was important for me. Similarly, during the second week, I was in Philly to run the 8k, cheer for the marathon, and see some friends. Since most of my friend outings revolve around food, I wasn’t about to restrict myself then, either. I had a doughnut on Saturday morning after my race, and then enjoyed wine and plenty of (delicious!) food at dinner on Saturday night. Again, I was mindful of how much I was eating and what it was, but I didn’t think twice about it. And of course the end of the 21 days, Thanksgiving happened. Just like the first two ‘cheat’ days, I paid attention to what I was eating and didn’t overeat, but I at no point turned something down because of my ‘diet.’ Eating right really is all about balance. There’s no way I’d be able to follow an eating plan that didn’t have any wiggle room.

Aside from the eating portion, there’s the workouts. I didn’t do any of the cardio workouts because I supplemented that with running, and I avoided the lower body specific workouts just to make sure I wasn’t overdoing it as I’m getting back into running. I did, however, do the ‘Upper Fix,’ ‘Dirty 30,’ and ’10 minute ab fix’ weekly in addition to my running, some yoga, and some spinning. The workouts are short (30 minutes total if you include the warm-up and cool-down, which I usually didn’t) and are deceptively hard. I was using two 5 pound weights which I assumed would be too light, but doing each exercise for a minute straight proved to be a lot more difficult than I originally anticipated. I was sore after each workout the first time I did it, but it got better as I continued doing them over the course of the three weeks.

So after all that, what did I think? I actually really, really liked the 21-day fix. I learned a lot about my eating habits! I definitely don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables despite being a vegetarian, I lean too heavily on my workouts as excuses for poor food choices, and I definitely don’t drink enough water. We were encouraged to weigh ourselves and take measurements before the challenge as well as at the end. While my measurements weren’t anything staggering (my quads got bigger because I’m running more again – YAY!, but I lost almost a full inch at my hips and a half inch at my waist), I did loose about 5 pounds (give or take, of course). Considering the challenge ended the weekend after Thanksgiving, my numbers probably would’ve been more ‘impressive’ if that wasn’t the case. But more importantly than those numbers, I feel better. Some of the pants I’d been avoiding because they were just a little too tight fit much more comfortably. And I have some baby ab muscles poking through… just in time for layering season, ha.

I would definitely recommend this to someone looking to overhaul their eating habits a bit. I wouldn’t (and couldn’t) do this if I was in the middle of training for a race, but this was the perfect time for me to try it. You can definitely do it on the cheaper side by not including Shakeology and ordering the containers on Amazon rather than through Beachbody. You also don’t have to join a challenge group, but I found the camaraderie of a group (via an app) motivating. There are tons of resources online (meal planning sheets you can download, blogs full of recipes, tips and tricks, and more), and it really isn’t that hard or drastic. Basically, it’s just a way to make sure you’re not overeating, and what you are eating is good for you. Like they say, not all calories are created equal… and as someone who relies on my body a lot to achieve goals and feel good about myself, I need to treat it better. But I am also all about those indulgences (give me booze! cheese! chocolate!)… I just needed to learn how to control them a bit better.

Now let’s see how I do during the month of December!

Tell me…
Have you ever done 21-day fix, or something similar? What did you think?
If you haven’t, would you try it?

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Filed under Home Cooking, Life, Running

A Most Welcomed TGIF and a Giveaway!

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Thanks to everyone who reached out to me about Kennedy; it hasn’t been easy, but like I said in my post, getting to spend 12 years with him was a true treat. I miss him every single day.

I thought I’d attempt my return to sporadic blogging with a Friday Favorites post! That’s lighthearted and fun, yes? After my sad last post, and current events, a little fluff could be nice. Also a winner because it includes a giveaway! Aw yeah. Skip down to the end if you don’t care about the favorites and just want to enter the giveaway. But in the meantime, here’s what I’m loving lately:

Finish Line Physical Therapy
As most of you know, I started visiting Finish Line after I was diagnosed with a stress reaction in my femur back in March. And as most of you know (or figured out), once again I didn’t run a fall marathon. That’s another post for another day, but I do want to spend a little time waxing poetic about physical therapy! I’ve been to a few different physical therapy places in my day (a place for shoulder tendinitis when I was in high school, a place for my IT band issues two years ago, etc.), but none of them were runner-specific. I have to say, going to a place that not only understands and caters to runners is a bonus, but having physical therapists that are also runners really brings it to the next level.

Finish Line has everything a runner could need when it comes to both rehab and prehab. Alter-G treadmills! Normatec compression sleeves! Vibrating foam rollers! And aside from all the ‘gadgets’ they have a really knowledgeable and friendly staff. I’ve been going every few weeks to see Caroline, and I always look forward to my appointment. Not only is she super friendly and someone who I would want to be friends with outside of PT, but she knows her stuff. I can e-mail her and run things by her, get her advice about my shoes, mileage, cross-training, and more. Even though I’ve had some setbacks during my return to running, they’ve been minimal and mostly due to my own stubbornness.

Going to Finish Line has opened my eyes to the importance of having a physical therapist in your corner for a proper prehab routine. This is definitely something I’m going to continue to invest in for my future!

The Skimm (and Skimm Ahead)
I’ve been an on-and-off reader of The Skimm for quite a few years now, but as of the last few months have been reading it daily. I think a big part of why I’ve been so dilligent in reading it in part due to their new app, Skimm Ahead!

For those of you not familiar with The Skimm, it’s a daily e-mail that comes straight to your inbox in the morning, Monday through Friday, with a brief overview of what’s going on in the world. It includes the latest top stories and headlines broken down into just a few paragraphs each, in digestable and easy to read (and funny) language. It’s the perfect thing to read on your commute, or when you first get to work and aren’t quite ready to start your workday.

The app, Skimm Ahead, includes the daily e-mail in the app, along with a lot of other fun features. Here are just a few:

  1. They’ve created a bunch of different calendars that you can easily integrate into your own so you can stay on top of important upcoming events (or you can just view it in the app without adding it to your personal calendar).
  2. There’s a section of top reads that don’t necessarily make it into their e-mails, but are worth reading,
  3. A list of best sellers and suggested reading is also available, which I actually love.

Needless to say I’m all about TheSkimm these days. If you aren’t subscribed, you really should!

Top Shop’s Black Ripped Jeans

If we’ve ever talked about clothing (in real life or on the internets) you’ve probably heard me complain about my super long torso and regular length legs. This often presents itself as a problem when it comes to finding jeans. As I’ve gotten older (and they’ve come back in style), I’ve learned and come to embrace high-waisted jeans as my friend. The higher, the better! Anything low-cut (or not specifically designated mid-rise or high-rise) seems to give me a muffin top, have me constantly pulling at my pants, and just generally not feeling comfortable or good about myself. Oh, and I definitely need ‘ankle’ jeans, because apparently I have short legs, too. Go figure!

So, when I saw these Topshop Destroyed High Rise Ankle Skinny Jeans (that was a mouthful!) at Nordstrom, I knew I had to give them a try. They are AMAZING. They hit right below my belly button, have just the right amount of stretch so they aren’t restrictive, and are distressed which is totally on-trend right now. I wish they had them in more colors because I’d buy one of each. I’m actually considering a second pair…

Go Macro’s new Thrive Bars – GIVEAWAY!

For some of you, this is why you’re here; the Go Macro Thrive Bars! I was sent a few to sample about two months ago, but wanted to wait until I had a chance to try all of the flavors before writing about them. I’ve been a Go Macro Bar fan for quite some time, so when I heard they were coming out with a new bar that included all I loved from the original bars plus some ancient grains for a little extra fiber I couldn’t wait to try. The new Thrive bars “contain plant-based protein, essential fatty acids, and prebiotic fiber to fuel your body and mind.” As with all of Go Macro’s products, they are USDA-Certified Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, Kosher, Gluten-Free certified, 100% Vegan, and soy-free. AND they’re currently available to purchase online and in Whole Foods as of October!

They’re just under 200 calories and are dense without being too much. They’re a perfect snack for anytime. And most importantly, they’re delicious! I received a sample pack, and it was no surprise that my favorite is the chocolate, nuts, and sea salt. I also really enjoyed the caramel coconut, and the chocolate peanut butter chip. I didn’t, however, enjoy the blueberry lavender… but that’s just my personal preference. I generally prefer to smell my lavender, not eat it!

The kind people at Go Macro offered a giveaway for my readers! They’re giving away a Thrive Assorted Tray to one of you! All you have to do is tell me what your favorite quick go-to snack is in the comments below and mark it as complete in Rafflecopter… and there are other options you can complete to up your chances! The giveaway will end on Wednesday 11/23!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Filed under Food Review, Life, Running

Saying Goodbye

Growing up, I — like most children — was desperate for a pet. But not just any pet… a dog. I wanted a dog for as long as I can remember, from the moment I knew the word and what it meant. My parents, however, were against the idea. Not because they didn’t like dogs and didn’t want a pet. In fact, their reasoning was quite the opposite. Both my parents had grown up with lots of pets, many of them being dogs. But because of that, they knew just how much work was required and maybe more importantly, just how attached you become. Despite their protests I begged and begged, taking out books from the library on dog breeds, making lists to decide which would be “best for our family” and swearing up and down that I would be the best dog walker in all the land. My parents were steadfast in their rejection of the idea, and instead bought me a GoGo My Walking Pup (remember them?! I can’t believe they’re still around!), and let me have as many fish as my little heart desired.

Eventually my sister and I wore my parents down, mostly because I knew deep down inside they wanted a dog just as badly as we did. There was one condition though — my mom was NOT interested in getting a puppy. She’d say how she already had and raised two babies and wasn’t interested in a (furry) third. So, we needed a dog that wasn’t a puppy and had some general training. Enter: The Seeing Eye. I don’t know how my mom found them, but she learned that in addition to being a puppy raising family or adopting a “senior” dog after they retire (they retire them at about 7 I think), you have the option to adopt dogs that they decide are not a fit for the program, for whatever reason. So, we added our name to a waitlist… a waitlist that had an average wait time of TWO YEARS. I think we eventually forgot about even adding ourselves to the list, until one day we got a call that they had a dog for us.

It was May 2004, a mere month before I graduated high school. I remember driving to Morristown to The Seeing Eye and exclaiming to my parents, “WE ARE TAKING THIS DOG NO MATTER WHAT!” They bring you in for a meet-and-greet of sorts where you can feel out the dog and the program can feel you out to see if you’d be a good fit. They brought us on a tour of the facility and talked to us about their program, while all I could think to myself was “bring us the damn dog!!” Eventually we were brought to a room where we’d wait to meet our (hopefully) new dog… and that’s when Kennedy came bounding in the room. I’ll never forget it. He had an adorable bandana (make him presentable so the nice family will want him!) around his neck, and he was so excited. He came running in, threw himself on the ground and rolled over, belly up, right next to my dad. He had officially identified the sucker. We got to take him for a walk around the property and within about an hour, we were driving home with our new dog! It was one of the best days of my life.

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What would follow would be twelve years filled with some of the best memories that I’ve been privileged to acquire. We developed our own (ridiculous sounding) language to talk to Kennedy. We gave him a middle name — O’Reilly. My dad took him for hour long walks every morning, no matter the weather, up to the park a mile away that was eventually referred to as “Kennedy’s Park.” We taught him to give us his paws, to lay down and roll over, and even to “dance.” We learned that if we rubbed the inside of his ear just the right way he’d purr like a cat. We also learned early on that if you left any food out, he’d eat it… including a dozen funfetti cupcakes left by my sister on the back of the counter. We figured out he couldn’t be tamed by a baby gate, and would break it down and take part of the wall with him. He couldn’t be kept off the couch, but was smart enough to only do it when we weren’t around. Walking was for sniffing time, and he had no interest in any running aside from short bursts in the backyard. Bath time was a chore in which he refused to sit, and would roll around in the grass immediately following, running in fast tight circles like a lunatic. He thought ice cubs were a treat (until he eventually figured out it was just frozen water), he loved fruits and vegetables, and was the perfect post-meal floor vacuum. He never barked. He never growled. He knew just the right moment to come over to you when you were sad. And he loved with all his heart, just the way we loved him.

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Our little family of five was brought together by chance and a little later than I would have liked, but it was everything my 8 year old dog obsessed self could have dreamed.  Everyone tells you that their pet is the best and the most wonderful pet you’ll ever meet… and my feelings for Kennedy are no exception. I didn’t live with him very long, but always looked forward to pulling up to my parent’s house and seeing him waiting for me outside in the nice weather, or greeting me right at the door in the winter. So at the age of 10 and with every passing year, I became increasingly nervous knowing that a labrador’s life expectancy is generally 10 to 12. But we hit 10, 11, 12, even 13… and Kennedy was still truckin’, albeit at a much slower pace. His hind legs became increasingly weaker, he started having little tremors where his eyes would blink and his head would shake for a few moments, and he became picky with his food choices. But he was still happy and wasn’t in pain which was important. As each year passed, my parents agreed that they wouldn’t be selfish and try to keep him around just because they wanted him around… if there ever came a point where he seemed like life was just too difficult for him or he was in pain, there would be no hesitation. We had a little blip a week before his 14th birthday where he came down with a virus and we though we would have to say goodbye, but he made it to 14. Not only did he make it to 14, he gave us 5 whole extra months to give him love… and boy did he get it. I visited my parents almost weekly, spending as much time as I could snuggling him and just telling him how much I loved him.

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As the summer months progressed, it became more and more clear that living each day was an exhausting chore. Walking was hard; my parents covered as much as their hardwood floors as they could with cheap $5 yoga mats to prevent him from slipping. He became even pickier with his food choices, some days barely eating at all. He’d walk around anxious and confused, seeming like he wasn’t really sure where he was or what was going on. But despite all of that, he was still that sweet Kennedy I met back in 2004 and fell in love with. We knew it was only a matter of time, but still hoped that somehow he’d defy the odds and live comfortably for a lot longer. Oh how selfish we can be.

Unfortunately on Friday, September 2nd 2016 it was time for us to say goodbye.

Anyone that’s ever owned a pet knows that the love you have for your animal cannot be put into words. It’s an indescribable bond that I was privileged to have. It’s really hard to imagine my life without him in it, but the time he shared with me and the memories from that time will last forever. So while I’m heartbroken and writing this post through a veil of tears, I know that I’m oh so lucky to be in this position. To have had a dog that was such a huge and important part of my (and my family’s!) life for so long, that I can’t even imagine my life without him. It’s just another reminder that all life is short and precious, and you need to cherish every moment; the good ones and the bad ones.

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So sleep well, sweet Kennedy O’Reilly. May your days be filled with belly one rubs, pup treats and pupcorn, long walks, and the occasional punch in the fatche. You forever changed our lives for the better, and we are so grateful you chose us as your forever family that fateful day 12 years ago. We love you, buddy boy.

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Let’s Run Together!

Back in February I had a post called “Come Run With Me!” It was before I had the dreaded injury, and I was all set to run the Newport 10k in Jersey City, and I wanted you to join me. While I didn’t get to run, I did cheer and get called an ‘asshole’ for cowbelling at 9am. But that’s besides the point. Lucky for me, they also host a half marathon in September so I’m going to run that… and I want you to run it with me!!

Similar to the 10k, this is a race I have yet to do, despite living in Jersey City for almost two years. It’s in September, so it actually fits in really nicely with people’s longer training runs for upcoming fall marathons. I’m scheduled to run 18 miles that day, so why not do 13.1 with a few hundred people? I mean, I’d be running in Jersey City anyway! So when I saw it would work with my schedule this year, I immediately signed up. Then, as luck would have it, I was contacted and asked if I was interested in being a VIP Blogger for the race. Of course I said yes! So seriously, let’s run this together!

What: Newport Half Marathon

When: September 18, 2016 at 8:30am

Where: Newport Town Square – 100 Town Square Pl Jersey City, NJ 07310

Background: Jersey City’s popular half marathon championship marks its 23rd year! Recreational and elite runners from around the country can compete for $3,000 in prize money on a USA Track & Field-certified course that interweaves with the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway from Newport to Liberty State Park.

Beneficiary: Proceeds are being donated to the Jersey City Medical Center, the area’s newest regional teaching hospital, proving the highest level of care for women, infants, and trauma and heart patients.

Registration Price: $50

Seriously, come run with me! Or if you’re in the area, come out and cheer! It was absolutely beautiful last year and I had a fun time cheering. I’m planning to go out for a beer (and food) afterwards… so the more the merrier! And even if you can’t make it this year, keep it in mind for next year.

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Let’s Try This Again…

“Is this thing on?”

Well hello there! I know, I know, once again I popped in to say hello and tell my latest sob-story, and then I disappeared. I’ve gotten pretty good at it, haven’t I?! I know I’m well overdue for an update but I didn’t want to speak too soon, like last time. So let’s take a step back, shall we?

Last time I blogged was April. I’d run a pretty solid 5k while dealing with some weird non-specific quad discomfort, that after getting checked out resulted in an inconclusive assumption I had a femoral stress reaction. This latest injury put me at number three in the run/injure myself cycle since fall 2014. I’d gotten numb to the disappointment and frustration of a running injury, so I once again put away my running shoes and carried on as best I could. This time, however, was slightly different since it was a pretty clear-cut (and slightly serious) injury which required a more diligent and cautious rehab approach than my previous weird ankle and IT band issues. After the diagnosis I immediately got in touch with Finish Line Physical Therapy, and started seeing my PT, Caroline, about two weeks after the initial diagnosis.

Originally my doctor told me I could continue with any cross-training that didn’t include high impact to my legs (so no running, jumping, etc.), while holding off on running for a solid 3 weeks. It sounded a little short, but I figured it would be fine. When I went to physical therapy, though, Caroline wanted to take a more cautious approach… So I waited a full month before trying anything running related. While I wasn’t running, I kept going to Refine Method (and modifying any type of jumping with other, equally difficult exercises), took a few spin classes, and started taking hot yoga. My last run was on March 22nd, and my first short and slow run/walk outside was on April 23rd. After that initial run/walk outside in April, I switched over to the Alter-G for the next 5ish weeks (about 2x a week). [Side note: I am SO thankful Finish Line has an Alter-G! It was a mental game changer for me this injury go-around.] I continued with the run/walk approach, but rather than doing just two or three minutes at a time, the Alter-G allowed me to bump up the amount of time I was spending doing continuous running, sooner. This was all while going to PT once a week and getting some great soft tissue release on my quad and doing stability exercises for not only my legs, but also my glutes and core. By the time I hit the end of May, I was ready to tackle a continuous 15 minute run outdoors… two full months after I stopped running.

I thought the first run back was going to be terrible. Now don’t get me wrong, it was pretty uncomfortable and awkward, but I was running! And I didn’t have any pain during or after the run! There were — and still are — some aches here and there along my quad, but that’s just everything getting back in business and I’ve been reassured is totally normal. Since that first 17 minute run on May 30th, I’ve gotten up to a 16 mile week, including my longest run of 5 miles since March. I’m trying to keep a day in between each run as I ease back into things to give myself a little break, and I’m not running more than 4 times a week right now. There’s no point in pushing myself too soon, because I’ll wind up with another injury. I mean heck, with my history even if I don’t run much there’s still a chance I’ll get an injury. So slow and steady is the name of the game for me right now… which is fine because it is, of course, hot AF in the northeast. Yay for humidity!

So where does that leave me? What are my plans? Well, I went to PT this morning and was told that I’m progressing really well, and if I’m diligent and careful over the next few weeks, everything should be back to normal. Which means… I’m going to run the Chicago Marathon!! I deferred last year because of my weird ankle and foot issues, so I have an entry for this year that’s either use it or lose it. I made a tentative training plan and reviewed it with Caroline and she gave me the go-ahead. The race isn’t going to be fast or pretty (I’m topping out at an 18  mile long run with a max of 35 mpw), but I only have 13 weeks between now and race day and my number one priority is to get to the damn start line without an injury! If I can keep myself healthy (how many times have I said that here in the last two years? I’m a broken — almost literally — record…) and get over this injury cycle hump, I’ll feel a lot more confident to actually tackle racing a marathon. But right now I’m setting my sights on just getting to the start line in one piece. There are no goals for race day except to finish in one piece, so I’m hopeful I can at least accomplish that.

So here we go, again…

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Jinx!

I should’ve known posting an Instagram picture saying “I’m back!” and writing a post about how I was finally at a good place with running would come back to bite me. That’s just how my luck goes (and often why I try to keep quiet on things for fear of jinxing myself).

If you follow me on social media, then you already know that I’ve been out with a (likely) femoral shaft stress reaction for just under three weeks. It all started on March 10th. I ran 11 miles after work on the 9th and felt fine. Went for a run on the 10th and also felt fine during… but as soon as I stopped I felt a weird sensation on the side of my right thigh. I chalked it up to tightness, took Friday off, and ran 11 miles on Saturday without issue. I carried on the following week pretty normally with some unspecified discomfort in my leg; I was never really able to pinpoint it, and it didn’t hurt enough for me to alter my gait or have to stop. I felt discomfort up more towards my hip at the end of the week, so I foam rolled and massaged myself to the point that I was bruised. I ran a 5k that Saturday and was fine.  Again, there was something there, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

I went for a run on Sunday and it was pretty uncomfortable, but I wasn’t sure if that was because I raced the day before. So I took Monday off, and did a speed workout on Tuesday. It still felt off, so I immediately started to panic. I decided to stop running (this was March 22nd), Googled non-stop for two days, tried poking and prodding to find the source of the discomfort, but I came up empty handed. Panicked, I called my doctor at the Women’s Sports Medicine Office at the Hospital for Special Surgery, and got an appointment to see her the following Monday (3/28). I had x-rays and talked to her… and nothing showed up on the x-ray (no surprise), so she ordered an MRI. She said it was possible it was a stress fracture, but it could also just be a deep muscle strain. The pain wasn’t in my hip (so we ruled out femoral neck or labrum issues), which actually put me at a slight advantage. I had my MRI that Wednesday, and then went back to the doctor to review my results on Friday.

We looked at the MRI together, as I pretended to have any clue as to what I was seeing on the screen as she scrolled to zoom in and zoom out. I’ve been through the “OMG I HAVE A STRESS FRACTURE” panic so may times before, and each time the results have been in my favor. This time, though, I wasn’t so lucky (but wasn’t completely unlucky, either). She said there was a little something that didn’t look quite right, but it wasn’t a fracture line, either. Both the MRI technician and my doctor had the same diagnosis — it was likely a stress reaction and even if it wasn’t, it should be treated as such. Whomp, whomp.

While I was disappointed to hear the diagnosis, I was also relieved. It meant that the discomfort I was feeling had an actual cause. More importantly, it meant I could put a plan in place to heal and get myself back to running again. Since I caught it early, my doctor ordered no running or high impact activity for three weeks. After that, she said I could try a run, doing a run-walk method to see if I had any discomfort during or after. At the time of my diagnosis, I had already been off my feet for a week and a half… in fact, I hadn’t done any physical activity since March 22nd (and was starting to go crazy). I was so thankful to have the green-light for other activities mostly for my sanity, but also so I could attempt to maintain some of the fitness I had finally started to gain back after my last running hiatus. Since my diagnosis on April 1st, I’ve taken three spin classes, swam once, did hot yoga once, and returned to Refine Method over the weekend. I also did a few at-home workouts focusing on my core and glutes, which always need work. And as of today, I only have two more weeks of no running before I can give it a try… which really isn’t that bad!

I’m really thankful that I was smart and stopped running as soon as things really started to feel off. I’m thankful that I have a lot of other workout options easily available to me. And I’m thankful this was only a stress reaction and not a stress fracture. While it’s troublesome that I wound up with this injury — I had blood work done this past weekend to see if there’s anything I can do with my nutrition to help, since the femur is such a big and strong bone — it isn’t a nail in the coffin for me. I am confident I’ll be able to run my fall marathons.

Onward an upward!

 

Tell me…
Have you ever had a stress fracture? Reaction?

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