Friday, November 28, 2014

Giveaway Hop -- Holiday Health and Fitness

It's the Holiday Health and Fitness Giveaway Hop hosted by runawaybridalplanner and suzlyfe.  {Thanks for hosting!!}

Wrap around wrist or hand
The theme of this giveaway is Health and Fitness.  To assist with all of your physical activities, and to hopefully help you stay active through the holiday season and beyond, I am giving away a runningluv "catch what runs" hand towel.    "Its a towel that wraps and a tissue that tucks into a sweatband around your wrist or hand."  

I like to use it wrapped around my hand.  I no longer have to use my gloves to catch what runs or drips.  It is easy to wear, comfortable, lightweight, and incredibly absorbent.  They come in a variety of colors and the wrist wrap comes in fun prints too.  The best part is they can easy slip on over your gloves!  I have used a similar product but feel this one absorbs so much more.

Check out the runningluv website for a peak at their colors and prints, or for more information.  runningluv has also been gracious enough to offer free shipping if you'd like to go ahead and place an order.   These would make excellent stocking stuffers for the active people in your life.  Just use code HOHORUNSFREESHIPPING. 

Enter my giveaway below. The winner will be announced on December 16th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you and please take the time to go to each blog participating in this hop!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (Route 66 Recap)

Center of the Universe
The Route 66 Half Marathon is in the bag.

Did I run the time I wanted?  No, not even close.

Was it a great race experience?  Absolutely!

The Good

First and foremost, my youngest son and I had a wonderful visit with my sister. One of our highlights was visiting a glass factory to make our own hand blown Christmas ornaments.  We also visited the zoo and the Center of the Universe, among other things.  It was a whirlwind long weekend.

This race is very well done and the expo does not disappoint.  There were many vendors but the venue is large enough that it doesn't get too crowded. I picked up a really cool item that I'll be giving away in December.  Be sure to check back on the 1st.

Tulsa truly supports their race and the spectating is greater than any I've seen.  I lost count of the trios, bands, combos, drummers, soloists, or other musical entertainers.  Some people were just blasting music through their stereo speakers.  There were so many folks the yard around fires, lounging on sofas pulled out to the curb, at the street handing out Jello shots, ringing cowbells, holding signs, or just shouting words of encouragement. I even saw one lady showing off her lassoing skills. {Was she a cowgirl from days gone by?}  Thinking back, I did not have to weave around one single parked car either. Thank you city officials!

Glass Making
The Bad

I have mitral valve prolapse.  I've known about it almost 20 years now. Typically it's a none issue and not even worth a mention.  I've learned over the years how to manage it.  It very rarely bothers me, but occasionally it shows it did about mile 4.  My heart rate was bouncing all over.  So, I slowed considerably and even walk a bit to get it under control.  At this point, I knew there would be no sub 2:00 and shifted focus.  Maybe I could still make it in under 2:05.  Just a little hiccup in the race, right?

The Ugly

I was soon feeling better and started increasing my speed. {Good, OK-I'm feeling strong.}  At some point in mile 6, I realized both of my feet were on fire.  Holy moly, the balls of my feet are blistering. Really?  The Feetures socks I've trained in, with no problems whatsoever, are failing me.  Really? Me--who is not a half newbie (this was #26) and obsessively tests every piece of clothing, especially socks.  Really?  I briefly considered taking them off, but felt it was too little too late.  Without socks, my feet would just blister in other places anyway.   I also knew stopping for Band-Aids would be useless.  So, out came the mantras and the "It's a Dig Deep Day" attitude.  I ran with the hand I was dealt.  For 6 plus miles I ran on blistered feet. Yep, one is quarter sized, the other more like a half dollar.  I'll spare you the pictures.  And yet, somehow, some of the last miles were the fastest of the day.

I'm not making excuses.  Not at all.  It is what it is.  It was what it was.  And I loved every stinking painful minute of this race.  It flew by quicker than any other I've run.  One thing I've learned is that you run with whatever circumstances you get on that particular day.  It's part of why I love it so much.  It's never the same.  If they were all easy what would be the point?  I have no doubt I would lose interest. 

It's what you do with the bad and how you handle the ugly that makes a good race experience.  I ended with a hard-earned, scratching-and-clawing-for-every-step 2:08 plus change.  You move forward.  You finish. You learn. You do it again.

Here I come Run for the Redfish...only I'll be wearing different socks!

Has anyone else had an epic sock failure?  Does anybody run with MVP?  I'd love to hear your comments.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Favorite Holiday Foods (Friday Five)

Happy Friday everyone.  The holidays are approaching at full speed.  Here in the south, it's all about the food.  We eat relatively healthy year round and therefore splurge a little bit during the holidays.  These recipes are not diet or low anything.  Just keep your portions small and enjoy. These are the 5 most requested items by my family.

Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie

I'm not a big fan of traditional pecan pie...too much syrup. But this is a thin pie with chopped pecans and chocolate chips.  It has more of a brownie type consistency.  It is curl-up-on-the-couch-with-the-pan-and-a-glass-of-milk good.  (And darn worth those 5 extra miles I'll need to run!)

1 thin unbaked pie shell
2 large eggs (beaten)
2/3 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter (melted)
3/4 cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Sprinkle the chocolate chips into your pie shell and freeze for 1 hour.  Mix all other ingredients together, pour into pie shell and bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes or until pie is set (no jiggle in the middle).  Do not over bake.  Cool before cutting.

Spinach Surprise

If you try any recipe, this is the one.  {I promise!}  Even people who are not spinach lovers (and I have quite a few) love this.  It is the most requested item.  It's a cheesy, spinach and rice casserole served hot.

2 10 oz. packs frozen chopped spinach
2 packs Uncle Ben's Brown & Wild Ready Rice (cooked per directions)
8 oz. (2 cups) Monterrey Jack cheese (shredded)
1/2 stick butter (melted)
2 T chopped onion (optional)

Thaw and drain spinach.  Press spinach between paper towels to remove excess liquid.  Mix all ingredients and bake in greased casserole dish (square or round) at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until bubbly. 

Fire Crackers

This recipe made the internet circles a while back. If you haven't tried this, you'll be amazed these crackers remain crispy. Basically, it's marinated Saltines crackers.  They are great for dipping in anything, or all by themselves.  Perfect for a hungry crowd that can't wait.

1 16 oz. box Saltines
1 pkg. dry ranch dressing mix
1 1/2 cups light olive oil
2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Lay and stack (on their sides) as many crackers as possible in large plastic container with lid.  Mix remaining ingredients and microwave for 30 seconds.  Pour evenly over crackers, keeping mixture stirred.  Close container and flip 5-6 times during day to equally distribute the liquid.  Store in clean container or zip lock bag.

***   I did not include the recipes for the last two as they seem fairly common, at least here in Dixie.  However, if you are interested please just let me know. 

Pineapple and Cheese Casserole

This is made with pineapple chunks, cheddar cheese and sugar then topped with buttery crushed Ritz crackers.  It is baked and served hot.  Scrumptious.

Watergate Salad

This one is pretty old.  It is pistachio pudding mixed with pineapple, pecans, marshmallows and cool whip.  Served cold.

Do you splurge during the holidays?  What is your favorite treat?

Thanks to Eat Pray Run DC, You Signed Up For What?!, & Mar on the Run! for hosting the Friday Five. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ready or Not...(and Harvest 5k)

I ran the Harvest 5k Saturday morning.  On my training schedule were 3 miles at half marathon pace and I thought a 5k fit well enough.  Sadly, there was a poor turnout.  This is a very nice, easy route.  They have lots of door prizes and they give the cutest tiny tractors as awards.  It was pretty cold and maybe that kept people from participating.  Unfortunately, I did not run what I consider to be my normal cold weather (as-good-as-it-gets) 5k pace.  I'm not sure why

Chris, Beth, Jenny, Me and Kitty
We think our tractors are sexy (thanks to Mr. Chesney!)
I try very hard not to be that runner. You know the one who is never happy after a race. The one that complains loudly about how awful they ran, and listing all the reasons why, and usually all the while kicking your tail.  I want to say, "Please just stay home"!  But I must confess...I go there sometimes in my head.  I love to run.  I love to race.  But I think I put too much pressure on myself to reach certain time goals.  I try my best to keep it all in perspective and remember, every race cannot be a PR!  {Repeat Often}

Half Fanatic Trio 
(Me, Valerie & Jenny)

It was fun to meet and chat with another half fanatic, Valerie.  We compared races and our upcoming schedules.  There are not many of us around these parts.  I was testing out my new half fanatic buff and she spotted the logo.  It was also very good to see my good friend Jenny, also a half fanatic, back after her short hiatus.  {Go team WH.}

Well, I'm headed off to Tulsa this week for the Route 66 half marathon.  Ready or not, here I come.  If I base my projected finish on my last few races, my time will not be what I want.  I'm not being negative here, just realistic.  My secret "don't-want-to-say-out-loud-goal" is to run a sub 2:00.  It very well may not happen as I feel my speed is just not there right now.  Oh, I'll try, because it is not impossible.  However, everything would have to come together perfectly...birds must sing, angels descend, and the running fairy must sprinkle me with a full sack of kick-butt dust.  However, I am feeling really good after Sunday's last long 12.7 mile run, so -- maybe.

My secondary, and probably more realistic, goal is to beat my last year's time.  A 2:05 or below will do.  Regardless of my finish time, it will be a great trip.  I get to spend time with my sister and my youngest son is going along.  We'll have loads of fun torturing hanging out with him.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Winner Is...

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Thankful For My Followers Giveaway Hop hosted by Runaway Bridal Planner and co-hosted by MCM Mama Runs.

I hope you will stop by my blog again and again.  I appreciate my readers and followers and love to read your comments

In case you are wondering, I used an Microsoft Excel formula to scientifically and randomly choose the winner.  (Yes, I'm so old school!)

And, the winner is...Megan @ Shaping Up To Be A Mom.  Megan won a sparkle skirt from Sparkle Athletics.  She has been notified but if she does not respond, I will choose another winner on Thursday at noon.

WAIT--WAIT.  Not so fast!  Another hop is starting soon!  Please come back December 1st through 15th for the Holiday Health and Fitness Giveaway Hop.  This time, I will be giving you multiple opportunities to win.  Please be sure to visit my blog and follow the links to all of the other bloggers who participate in the hop.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Running in Cold Weather (Friday Five)

TGIF!!  Initially, I was not going to join in on this topic.  As a southern gal I thought I would have nothing useful to say.  I'm so very impressed by those of you who really live in cold climates and continue to run outdoors.  But, I got to thinking...cold is relative.  No, we typically don't get anything colder than mid 20s, but that is cold compared to our horrible summer weather.  We get the occasional ice storms (hello - last year) and the very rare snowfall.  So I decided I'd throw in my 2 cents (or 5 cents as the case may be).

WEAR GLOVES.  Obviously, they keep your hands warm but I'm going down a different road here.  The cheap knit ones are ideal for wiping snot.  Yep, I said snot and I own it!  You can also easily throw them in the wash.  If you are like me, once it gets below about 45 the nose just turns on like a faucet.  Be forewarned.  If you see me at a race, don't stick your hand out for a high five or fist bump.  And, don't ask me to bring you a cookie afterwards!  {Just sayin'.}

COVER YOUR EARS.  I don't necessarily have to cover my entire head.  You might need to, but I was truly cursed blessed with 6 heads of hair.  As long as I have a thick wide headband over my ears, I'm quite toasty.  I would definitely cover my entire head is if it was snowing or sleeting.  And, unless I had already signed up for a race, I'd probably be on the treadmill that day anyway.

WEAR COMPRESSION.  On very cold days, put on a base compression layer.  It is amazing how the "squeeze" factor keeps you so much warmer.  The top should be of the turtle variety so that your neck is protected as well.  Add compression sleeves or socks under your compression pants if you need extra warmth and maximum squeeze.

USE HAND WARMERS.  If it is incredibly cold, and especially during long runs, hand warmers work wonders.  However, if you have Raynaud's like me they won't do one darn thing for your fingers...hence the name HAND warmers.  Will someone please invent FINGER warmers?  I am known to pull just my fingers out of my gloves (keeping the gloves on) so I can fold them over the hand warmers.  And no, mittens don't work in a half marathon when you need your fingers to open a GU or operate your shuffle, etc.

WEAR A FLEECE VEST.  When it's frigid, I wear a fleece vest over my compression top.  I really don't like the feeling of being too constricted.  A vest will keep you toasty while leaving your arms to swing freely.  L.L. Bean is my favorite brand.  They normally have good pockets too for all of your other necessary junk.

Please, I'd like to hear your tips for staying warm!

Thanks to Eat Pray Run DC, You Signed Up For What?!, & Mar on the Run! for hosting the Friday Five. 

*** WAIT -- WAIT ***   There is still time for the Giveaway Hop
Last chance!  Winner will be announced 11/18.  Click HERE to enter.

Monday, November 10, 2014

10k On A Whim

Me, Chris and Beth
Saturday, I woke up and decided to run a 10k (after telling myself all week that I would not).  On my training plan was 5 miles at half marathon pace, so I thought...oh heck, I might as well.  I'd get to hang out with my running buddies which is always the best part anyway!  I had run a 10k the previous weekend which had left me feeling deflated. I was tired and sluggish during that race.  I just wanted to run this one strong, not truly race it, and feel good throughout.

This was a wacky sock themed race for a local school's baseball team.  I managed to locate what I thought were wacky socks.  But, my tie-dyed socks ended up being ultra conservative.  I've never seen so many wild and crazy socks!  My goal was to rehearse my half marathon pacing, making sure to go out slowly for the first few miles.  The course had a substantial hill that I would have to properly navigate twice, as the 10k was a double loop of the 5k.  I wanted to practice my strategy for that as well.

My first mile was SLOW because I used it as my warm up mile.  I did not warm up beforehand as I should have, after running out of time in the potty line!  The 2nd through 5th miles were progressively faster but I did not average them, as a whole, any faster than my half marathon pace.  I never truly "raced" until mile 6, where I kicked in at my normal 5k pace.  I felt great the entire run.  NO, it was definitely not my fastest 10k and therefore I didn't feel as if I was dying the whole time.  I did what I set out to do.  Mission Accomplished.

Guess what?  As an ADDED BONUS I won first place in my age group.  Yeah, admittedly, there were only three of us (ha ha!) as the overwhelming majority of participants ran the 5k.  But, you know...the first rule of placing is to just show up.  Sunday, I did a slow 12 miler and felt good during that as well. 

I now feel somewhat better about my upcoming half marathon (less than 2 weeks away).  IF I can stay healthy, IF I can pace correctly, IF the weather is not brutal, IF I am well rested, IF I am well hydrated, IF I can fuel properly, IF I can keep the cramps at bay, IF-IF-IF...maybe just maybe... we'll see.

Does anyone else practice strategies at races and not really race them?  I'd love to hear from you!

Also, don't forget the GIVEAWAY HOP.  There is still time to enter and WIN!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Staying on Track (Friday Five)

This is the Friday link up with Eat Pray Run DC, You Signed Up For What, and Mar On The Run. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.  These are 5 tips that help me stay on track during the holidays.

  1. Schedule a big race that will keep you accountable.  For the past several years, I've been training for November, December and January half marathons during this time of year.  I have no choice but to  keep running.  Yep, you'll find yourself saying "I need a little more sweet potato pie, please".
  2. Enjoy yourself in moderation.  Depriving yourself just never works.  It makes you want that much more.  Holidays are the time to spend with family and friends.  In the south, it's all about the food!  Enjoy it and don't get wrapped up in the guilt.  Save your wrapping skills for the presents.
  3. Don't eat the things you can get any old time of the year.  For example, I'm not going to put bread on my plate.  Why bother?  I'm also not going to waste my calories on sweet tea (a southern tradition).  Drink water only and plenty of it.  I will spend my calories on the yummy seasonal dishes that only come out this time of year.  Just make sure they are in small portions.
  4. Run early.  GET IT DONE.  You will feel so much better and able to handle the stresses of the day.  If you plan to run later, other "junk" will get in the way.  After working, shopping, appointments, errands, cooking...I'm looking for the bed, not a run.
  5. Promise yourself a treat for not over indulging and sticking to your runs.  I love me some new running clothes, shoes, or a spa day!!

Happy Holidays!  I'd like to hear your tips for staying on track!  

There is still time to register and *WIN*WIN*WIN* in the Giveaway HopClick here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Twilight 10k - Fantasy in Lights Recap

This is my favorite 10k.  It is so beautiful at Callaway Gardens.  For the third year in a row, I ran with my very good friend Kim.  As always, the route did not disappoint.  The Christmas lights were on and the music playing.  Very Festive.  But the weather...oh my.  It was probably 48-50 degrees (nice), but the wind was hanging steady around 20-25 mph with gust over 35 mph.

Very Windy Around the Lakes
(From Calloway Gardens Website)
I started out slowly, as planned.  This is a fairly hilly course and I knew to expect the worst climbs later in the race.  The first few miles are deep in the woods, so the majority of the wind was blocked initially.  You constantly run in an "S" shape -- back and forth, up and down.  It's difficult to run the tangents at this one.  The route later circles several lakes and golf course fairways.  This is where the wind became an issue.  Without trees, it was brutal.

I don't know if I can blame my "less than ideal" performance on the wind (I'd like to very much) but honestly I just felt tired.  At some point in mile 4, I couldn't hold the pace I wanted.  My plan to run a PR quickly evaporated followed soon after by my alternate plan to beat last year's time (wah wah wahhh).  I decided to save a little energy for a final surge.  I knew it was flat and fast coming in toward the finish line.  But, alas, there was no sprinting at the end.  It was more like running in place.  The worst wind blew during the home stretch, which was beside a big lake.  It was all I could do to stay on my feet.  We all looked like cartoon characters running hard but going nowhere!  Too funny! In the finish photos my hair looks like Heat Miser's (for those of you that get this reference, feel free to start singing immediately).

Surprisingly, shocking actually, I placed 3rd in my age group {whaaaat??}.  At this race, there are NO overall awards (isn't that strange?): NO top three, NO masters, NO grand-masters, etc.  So, I do appreciate the fact that I placed at all, since no "fasties" are pulled out to make it easier for the rest of us mortals.  Kim placed 2nd in her age group...Go Girl...and thanks for traveling with me again!  We had fun indulging in too many cheap Duplex Creme Sandwich Cookies {love them-ate them as a kid} dreaming of a massive cup of coffee and attempting to stay warm.  All in all, it was a very good day.

Kim & Me   (Big Wind = Big Hair)
Nice Plaque

What's the windiest race you've ever run?  Did it affect your time?  As always, I appreciate your comments.

**   HEY, HEY!  Don't forget about the Giveaway Hop.  You still have time to enter and WIN.   **

Monday, November 3, 2014

Giveaway Hop

THANK YOU for stopping by.
Lime Green Sparkle Skirt

It's a giveaway hop!   I am giving away a Sparkle Athletic skirt to one lucky reader.  These skirts are lightweight, sheer, comfy and stay in place.  They are great for holiday themed events or just when you want an extra pop of color.  All you have to do is leave me a comment telling me you want to enter.  You can pick the color and size.  The winner will be announced 11/18.

Please check out all of the bloggers participating in this hop.  Make sure to hop by each one!!  If you've been reading my blog, I truly appreciate it.  If you're new here, I'd love for you to stop by again (and again...).