April 12, 2014

unlike cats, runners don’t always land on their feet

It was a gorgeous morning today. Sunny and warm, and I was on a nice easy run. But then, at around the 2.9-mile mark of a 3.1 mile run, splat! I was on the ground.

Much of downtown Annapolis has charming brick sidewalks … that over time have warped due to tree roots and wear. I assumed I just tripped over an uneven spot, but people behind me saw I actually stepped into a hole where a brick was missing. Whoops! Didn’t even see it.

I took a few stumbling steps trying to catch myself, but it didn’t work. Fortunately, it was clean fall — I landed on my forearms pretty evenly. Knees didn’t hit, hands were fine … just a little road rash.



In my 10+ years of running, I’m actually surprised I’ve only hit the ground a handful of times. (Knock on wood!). Once I fell on my butt when I made a poor turnaround-point  decision and changed directions on a metal plate, on a misty day. Only a bruised ego that day.

Another time, the sidewalk tripped me towards the end of an otherwise glorious 10-mile run. It was the last long run before a marathon, and we were heading out of town for a cousin’s wedding the next day.  I cut up my knee pretty badly — it left a scar. Those oversized bandaids go well with cocktail dresses :)

The worst, of course, was when I fell on my face in the middle of a trail half marathon. I ended up needing six stitches in my chin. But I finished the race!

At least there’s no shame in running clumsiness. Just about every runner I know has met the ground a time or 10 :)

March 27, 2014

review: redstar

I’ve received Redstar coupons in race goodie bags before — $500 gift certificates to their site, which sells sunglasses and watches. There has to be a catch, right?


Well, of course there is. You are responsible for shipping and handling, so it’s not actually free. I was tempted to try it out in the past — I figured they were at least worth the shipping cost, which seems to be $14.95 per item.

Since I had heard of the brand and considered purchasing, I was excited to be contacted by the Media Talent Agency for a review. I was able to select a pair of sunglasses to test out, and I chose a pair I could use running, model RS93. The website listed limited information, but showed the glasses with orange lenses, with a gray circle that said “included polarized gray lens.” I took that to mean they came with extra lenses … and I was right. I love that. It was a little disappointing that only the gray lenses are polarized … but I’m still glad I have the two sets.


Glasses with polarized gray lenses


Out for a run with the red/orange lenses on an overcast day

The frames are a little big on me, but that’s to be expected. I’m pretty small, and the sunglasses are unisex. But they are lightweight and comfortable, and they sat nicely on top of my head when I started running before the sun came up.

The quality is good. I can’t say if they’re worth the full $150 since I’m far to cheap to pay that much for something I’m likely to lose, break or drop during a run … but they’re nicer than my $20-30 pairs. I may pick up another!

Want to try them out for yourself? You can get a $500 gift card with code MTA14.

Shop now!


Disclaimer: I received a pair of sunglasses for free in exchange for my review. If you make a purchase using my link, I will receive a commission. Opinions are my own.


March 20, 2014

mostly i … yoga?

I was first introduced to yoga in 2007, when my office started bringing in an instructor twice a week. Free classes during my lunch break? Yes!


We started shortly after my first marathon, and I remember thinking what a great complement yoga was to running. At the time, I wasn’t doing any other cross-training.

I never went to any other classes until two summers ago, when I bought a Groupon for Bikram. I worried that I would have trouble in the heat, but I was curious. And the price was right — unlimited classes for one month for only $25.

I don’t remember how many classes I made it to that month … but I really enjoyed it. Just not enough to cough up the full price after that first month. But that fall, I picked up another Groupon, two months for $49. It stuck the second time. I first purchased one month, but then signed on for a whole year. You save a lot if you commit upfront! I just renewed again for a third year.

The only time that really works with my schedule is the 6 a.m. class. It’s often hard to get motivated to get out of bed in the morning  and out the door by 5:45 a.m., but it always feels so good to start the day in class. For most of my two years in class, I’ve typically gone Monday/Wednesday/Friday.

Triathlon training has put a wrinkle into my yoga schedule, though. Swimming is Tuesday/Thursday nights, and I usually don’t get home until 10 p.m. Even if I manage to get to bed promptly, I just can’t make it to class the next day. I’ve tried setting my early alarm a few times — only to reset it for a more reasonable wake-up time.

So I’ve switched my yoga schedule to Tuesday/Thursday. I wish I could make it to more classes (maybe sometimes I’ll fit a Monday in), but I’m OK with this format until swimming ends at the end of May.

It does make for very busy Thursdays, though! Our office yoga has since dwindled down to just once a week (we do have bootcamp three times a week, plus a crossfit-style instructor), and of course that’s on Thursday. I don’t want to miss his class … but I don’t want to skip Bikram.  Just once a week isn’t enough!

So that’s two and a half hours of yoga … plus swimming at night, and I often try to squeeze in a run before I hit the pool.


But I love it.


February 19, 2014

review: sunshine burgers

In the past couple years, I’ve been working on cleaning up my diet. It’ll never be perfect (that’s hard … and no fun!), but day to day, I do what I can to make sure I’m fueling my body with healthy foods.

I’ve greatly limited the amount of processed foods I’m eating, and make sure the ones I still do contain ingredients I recognize and trust.  I’ve really missed the convenience of veggie burgers. Once a staple in my diet, most have been nixed due to their science-experiment ingredient lists.

I was happy and excited when I got the opportunity to review Sunshine Burgers — organic, vegan and gluten-free burgers that come in a variety of flavors.

They are perfect when I’m in the need of a quick mini dinner after en evening workout, or when I don’t have time to cook a complicated meal.


I was sent samples of six (!) varieties of Sunshine Burgers to try. The first one I dug into was Garden Herb. I tried it plain — just cooked in the toaster oven. It came out crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and I loved the taste. I actually didn’t come up with anything creative to do with this flavor, but the next time I wanted one, I added some stone ground mustard. Delicious! And the ingredient list? Nothing to complain about here: organic cooked brown rice, organic ground raw sunflower seeds, organic carrots, organic spices, sea salt.

I took a suggestion off the box and made “meatballs” out of the Shiitake Mushroom flavor. No, they didn’t taste like meatballs … but they held up nicely and were delicious served with zucchini “pasta” on a particularly healthy-eating day. I just heated up a burger part way, rolled into balls, and cooked for a few minutes in the toaster oven to firm them up.


I liked this idea so much that I did it again with the Hemp & Sage Breakfast flavor.

I also went the breakfast route with the Hemp & Sage burger. I crumbled it into pieces and put into a scramble with kale and eggs. It may not look all that appetizing in this photo (sorry!), but it was wonderful!


I added a Loco Chipotle burger to some leftover chili, a natural match. Once again, not the most appetizing photo … but it was really good!


My chili is pretty simple. I roasted two poblano peppers and a small onion. Then I combined the peppers and onion in a pot with two cans of beans (I used pinto and white beans this time around), a can of fire-roasted tomatoes and a small can of tomato paste. Add chili powder, cayenne, salt, cumin and garlic powder to taste.  I stirred in some cooked quinoa when it was ready to serve. That Loco Chipotle burger was a nice addition when I didn’t quite have enough left for lunch!

Similar to the Loco Chipotle is the Black Bean Southwest burger. I enjoyed that one by itself, too, but that could work in tacos and burritos. I also got to try the Falafel burger. Tasty, but it needed a little something. I’m thinking a tahini sauce would do the trick!

My local Whole Foods carries Sunshine Burgers, as do some of the Safeway stores in the area. If you want to find them in your area, they have a handy store locator.


Disclaimer: I received Sunshine Burgers for free through my involvement with the Sweat Pink Ambassador Program.  I was not compensated any other way. Opinions are my own.

February 13, 2014

changing gears

I only ran 32 miles in January. Less than my 39 from last November, when I was injured.

I’m feeling fine now, though. But my schedule has changed. I’m not “mostly running” at the moment.

I started swimming with a masters swim group twice a week in the beginning of the year. It’s a tough time — 8-9:15 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Nights that I usually run.

I was pretty casual about my running in January. As I got used to this new swim schedule, I’d often skip weekday runs, or do just a short run once a week before a swim class. Running on the weekends has been short, usually just six miles or maybe eight, and at least once I bailed on my weekend running completely due to bad weather.

But I was OK with being a winter wimp a few times. Being a lazy runner. Because I’m getting ready for something bigger.

The first month and a half of this year have been a bit of a reset for me.

And this week starts a 16-week journey as I train for my first half Ironman.


Yup, back in August I signed up for Ironman 70.3 Raleigh … and now it’s time to make it happen!

I put my plan into a spreadsheet this weekend, knowing it was go time. It’s a bit scary looking at everything I’ve got lined up for myself. I based it off of this plan, rearranging things to make the swim days line up where I need them, and expecting I’ll flip many of the scheduled Saturday/Sunday workouts, since my run group usually meets Saturday.

I know I won’t follow it exactly, but it’s a start.

I do know I won’t be overbooking my race schedule before race day (June 1) . I’ll have a few, but so far it doesn’t look like I’ll be too far off my training schedule. I hope to add a few organized bike rides to help with those long-mileage training rides, and I’m doing at least one short triathlon in May.

Scary and exciting!

So what are your big plans for 2014?

If all goes according to plan … this won’t be my only big event :)


January 15, 2014

#onechange with vega one

I was given the opportunity to review the Vega One Nutritional Shake as part of their #OneChange initiative. In the new year, people are always looking for ways to better themselves. Can Vega One help people make #OneChange that will make a difference?

I relate most to this guy here:


The Serial Snacker. I always eat breakfast … but I also always need a mid-morning snack. And an afternoon snack. And usually a bedtime snack. I was hoping Vega One could help my breakfast smoothies last all morning long!

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Pictured smoothies may not all contain Vega One … but they look the same, anyway. I just wanted to illustrate my love of smoothies!

I first tried a Vega One packet mixed by itself with water. I received the French Vanilla flavor. The taste was pretty good, but the texture was a bit gritty. I thought I possibly didn’t mix it well enough, or didn’t use enough water … but I could always notice the texture in my smoothie concoctions as well. I’m not used to mixing powders into my smoothies, so maybe that’s something any protein-powder users wouldn’t notice as much. It’s not bad, I did still enjoy all of my Vega One concoctions!

The vanilla flavor tasted good with whatever I threw in there. Spinach / banana / berry  is a common mix for me, but lately I’ve been getting a little crazy with my smoothies. Spinach / beet / carrot was tasty as well. I think my favorite Vega One mix was spinach / banana / mango. Yum! I keep things simple and don’t usually measure, but I’d guess it was a generous handful of spinach, one banana, about a cup of water, about a cup of cut-up mango and a packet of Vega One French Vanilla. Add some ice if your mango isn’t frozen like mine was!

As for mending my snacking ways? Well, some mornings it worked …. and others I was still looking for my snack. Oh well. At least I felt good about getting all those extra nutrients in me!

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click to view larger!

I think Vega One would make a good snack if you were to replace something you’d usually grab with a shake or bar. I try to bring healthy snacks to work with me every day … but sometimes I don’t pack enough, or crave a treat. Vega One would surely fit the bill, and would be easy to store in a desk drawer!

Disclaimer: I received  Vega One samples for free through my involvement with the Sweat Pink Ambassador Program.  I was not compensated any other way. Opinions are my own.

December 28, 2013

races: 13+ in 2013

In the beginning of the year, I signed up for the 13 in 2013 challenge. You could sign up to run 13 races of a specific distance, or choose a variety.

I race a lot and wanted to make it a challenge, but didn’t want to limit myself to a specific distance since that would affect marathon training. I decided I wanted to do 13 races of half marathon distance or longer.

I didn’t have my race schedule fully planned out, and at one point thought it might be tricky to fit them all in. But I kept adding races throughout the year, and even ended up with a bonus race. I even had a surprisingly low number of events at my minimum 13.1 distance — only two!

  1. Ragnar Florida Keys (my total = 18 miles) — 1/4-1/5/2013
  2. Shamrock Marathon — 3/17/2013 4:10:12
  3. Kent Island Metric Marathon (26.2K/16.3mi)  — 4/14/2013 2:35:38
  4. Country Music Marathon  — 4/27/2013 4:20:54
  5. North Face 50K  — 6/1/2013 7:42:31
  6. Rosaryville 25K Trail Race  — 7/21/13 3:13:51
  7. Endless Summer 6-Hour Run — 7/27/2013 31.41 miles
  8. MD Heat Race 25K — 8/3/2013 4:02:44
  9. VA Beach Rock ‘n’ Roll 1/2 Marathon — 9/1/2013 2:14:00
  10. Rock ‘n’ Roll Philly 1/2 Marathon — 9/15/2013 2:01:51
  11. Howard County Striders Metric Marathon (26.2K/16.3mi) — 9/21/2013 2:46:03
  12. Annapolis Striders Metric Marathon (26.2K/16.3mi) — 10/6/2013 2:43:58
  13. Atlantic City Marathon — 10/13/2013 4:41:16
  14. Marine Corps Marathon — 10/27/2013 5:43:44

I usually do a lot of races, but this year was just crazy. I’ve previously only ever done two full marathons in one calendar year, and I did four in 2013. Plus two 50Ks (Endless Summer 6-Hour I got past the 50K mark). I would have added a third if I didn’t get injured during fall marathon season!

Below the half-marathon distance, I also raced:

  1. Shamrock 8K — 3/16/2013 (Yes, the day before the marathon, for the Whale Challenge)
  2. Cherry Pit 10 Miler — 4/7/2013
  3. Columbia Triathlon — 5/19/2013 (Olympic Distance 1500m swim / 25-mile bike / 10K run)
  4. Baltimore 10 Miler — 6/15/2013
  5. Father’s Day 10K — 6/16/2013
  6. Women’s Distance Festival 5K — 7/13/2013
  7. John Wall One Mile — 7/20/2013
  8. Dog Days 8K — 8/4/2013
  9. Charles Street 12 Miler — 8/10/2013
  10. Iron Girl Sprint Triathlon — 8/18/2013 (1000m swim / 16-mile bike / 3.3-mile run)
  11. Annapolis 10 Mile Run — 8/25/2013
  12. Patuxent Run for the Refuge 5K — 9/29/2013
  13. Camp Letts Turkey Chase — 11/28/2013
  14. Celtic Solstics 5 Mile Run — 12/14/2013
  15. Anniversary Run 15K — 12/8/2013

And while not technically a race, it still deserves a mention:

  1. Amish Country Bike Tour 100K — 9/7/2013

And this isn’t a race either (no time, just a little over a mile), but it came with a T-shirt and got me out of my comfort zone:

  1. Santa Speedo Run — 12/21/2013


It seems I may have gotten my numbers mixed up. 31 in 2013?

I enjoyed this challenge, but I will not be signing up for 14 in 2014. I have to make sure I’m healthy and injury-free for my first half ironman triathlon! I am signed up for Raleigh June 1, and will not let myself do anything longer than a half marathon until after the race!

I’m happy to stick to shorter distances for now, and will gradually build mileage again when my running club’s half marathon training group starts up in a few weeks. But I’ll just be there for the company, I may not always do all the mileage.

It’s actually nice that I’m not training for any races for a little while!

November 9, 2013

race report: marine corps marathon

But before I get to that … let me go back a bit.

I wasn’t even going to run a marathon this fall. I was originally going to step back from long-distance running and do a 100-mile bike ride instead. But back in the spring, I learned about the Saucony 26 Strong program. Saucony and Competitor magazine were putting together 26 teams of two — one experienced marathon “vet” and one first-timer “cadet” — and following them as they trained and raced fall marathons. Well, that sounded cool. I filled out a form and didn’t think anything of it …

Until I was welcomed into the program.


Well then, I guess I was running a fall marathon! My cadet Cathy wanted to run Marine Corps, which was already closed out. She got in with a charity team, while I decided I’d run a different race  (Atlantic City) and cheer her on at MCM.

But when my running club had some leftover spots from their marathon training program (they get a number of reserved slots for first-timers) … I jumped at the chance to join Cathy for her first marathon.

Cathy and I live in the same town, are both members of our running club, and have some common friends, but we had never met. We chatted a lot by email throughout the summer — I tried to offer as much guidance as I could to help her train. We both had busy summers, but finally caught up after a common race in August. We finally got to run together on one of our last long training runs.

And then Cathy started having IT band/knee troubles. And I got hurt running Atlantic City. But both of us were determined to get to the starting line. I was seeing a chiro for ART, she pretty much had a team of doctors and therapists working on her. We were hoping for the best!

Race morning, we met up and decided to start together with another friend. The race started out great. The crowds kept us from starting too fast, and we warmed up quickly. We had a fantastic first 10K.

But Cathy started feeling a twinge in her knee. And not long after, my ankle started to hurt. We ran through it until a medical station around the eight-mile mark, where we tried to get Cathy some Biofreeze. No luck, we settled for some Tylenol and headed on our way. We told our friend to go ahead since she was feeling fine. I was going stick with Cathy and see her through her race.

From here, we started adding walk breaks. It helped her a little bit … for a while. But the pain got worse, and the walk breaks got longer. At least it was a beautiful day out, but I wish it wasn’t so painful for both of us.

Slowly but surely, the miles did tick by, even if they took longer than we anticipated. Poor Cathy was so upset that her first marathon was not the magical experience she wanted it to be. I know exactly how she felt — I was there just two weeks earlier when my goal race fell apart.

I was running Marine Corps for fun. Time wasn’t a factor for me — even though I did expect we’d come in quite a bit sooner than we actually did. But now that I look back, it really was a great experience. Last year, I had a rough time during Marine Corps and hadn’t planned to run it this year. I’m so glad I did. I actually had a great time this year … despite the pain.

I never really hit a wall. I was enjoying the race atmosphere and amazing crowds that come out in DC and Virginia. I saw so many of my friends out on the course. I was helping my cadet achieve her goal, even if it wasn’t the day she planned.

When we finally got to the huge hill that separated us from the finish line, Cathy powered through the pain. We ran the whole hill, the longest spurt we had without walking in many miles.

Mission accomplished.


Congratulations, Cathy! You are a marathoner!



October 20, 2013

race report: atlantic city marathon

This was supposed to be my “goal” race. My ultimate marathon goal at the moment is a sub-4 marathon, but going into this race I knew that wasn’t going to happen for a number of reasons.

My speed work has been a bit sporadic, not helped by my pulling a hamstring back in August. Not bad enough that I ever had to stop running, but I have had to back down a bit.  I ran two half marathons in September, one being a real disaster at 2:14, the other a decent 2:01 … but it’s still been over a year since I’ve run a half under two hours. I think that has to be pretty comfortable before I can realistically expect to run a full marathon at that pace!

Goals revised, I decided to line up with the 4:10 pacer. My PR is a 4:09, and I was hoping I could hang with her most of the race, and surge towards the end giving myself a shot at a new PR.

But that didn’t happen. Not even close.

Not the race I was hoping for.

Not the race I was hoping for.

Things started out fine. We had a nice little group and were hitting the mile markers right on pace. We ran along the boardwalk, and then hit the road, doing a few miles around the farther casinos before returning to the boardwalk.

We ran past the finish line around mile nine (I hate that!) and got to see some of the half marathoners coming back. Near mile 11, we passed the half marathon turnaround (I hate that too!), and then it was just the marathoners left.

We got off the boardwalk and continued along the road. We hit the halfway point right on time, around 2:05. I was starting to struggle, though.

Part of it was me wanting to stop. Some days I can will myself to keep up the pace, other times I can’t. Clearly, I could not this day.

It wasn’t just “The Wall.” I was starting to hurt — it was my ankle.

I had a little pain at the end of a 14-miler two weeks before the marathon. It was just a twinge, though, and was completely fine post run. I brushed it off.

That same pain returned late in a 16-mile race (that I ran easy!) one week before the race. It didn’t bother me much during, but did hurt that night and the day after. The next day it was fine, and I felt no pain during a short run during the week. I figured it was tight calves and did some stretching/rolling.

Marathon day, though, it came back. My pace slowed way down, and I started taking walk breaks. Most of the time I managed to keep running and use the water stops as my walk breaks.

The 4:20 pace group passed me, as did the 4:30 group. At least I wasn’t the only one struggling that day. I chatted with a girl from the 4:00 group that was shuffling along around my pace for a little while. She dug deep, though, and pulled away as we got closer to the finish.

We got back to the boardwalk for the last three miles. I was happy to be nearing the end, and enjoyed the ocean views, but was near tears many times. The pain was pretty bad, but I was so disappointed. Disappointed that this wasn’t the race I wanted. That running MCM in two weeks could be in jeopardy with this injury. That I wasn’t enjoying this race.

The 4:40 pace group passed me. We got back to the busier part of the boardwalk, and I was annoyed that there was nothing to designate a race was going on. People were milling about, and tired runners had to watch out for obstacles!

It wasn’t until the last .2 or so that there were barriers and spectators. My husband was there cheering for me, and I didn’t even smile. I thought I sent him a disappointed/sad face, but he said I looked pissed. Sorry honey!

At least I managed to get up to a 10-minute pace for the last .2. I always sprint once I can see the finish line. And at that point in time, that was my sprint!

At least I got a light-up bottle opener medal.

It's always worth it.

It’s always worth it.

Marathon #10 done.

I decided I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. While far off my goal and far from my PR, it’s still faster than four of my marathons. And I finished. Not how I wanted, but I got it done.

One week later … I’m not entirely pain-free, but doing better. I’ve gone on two runs (three and six miles at easy paces), and felt fine. I got a massage. I’ve seen a chiropractor for some ART. She didn’t think running was out of the question (yay!). She’ll work on me again this week, and tape me for MCM.

Which I will run with NO goals.

And *then* I will take a long-distance break :)

October 15, 2013

energybits winner!

We have a winner:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congrats, Karen!

I’ll be in touch to get your info so you can try ENERGYbits soon!

ENERGYbits are only available at ENERGYbits.com, and Jonathan (their Brand Manager) has shared with me that he’d be happy to connect anyone with a current ambassador to share a discount on a bag of bits – you can email him at jlevitt@energybits.com.

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