Thursday, December 18, 2014

Happy Holidays - Holiday Fit List + FlipBelt Code!

Happy Holidays!  I hope that you are taking time to enjoy the holiday season!  Things have been a bit busy around here, but I am doing my best to take some time for me to truly enjoy the season.  I did participate in the Hot Chocolate 15k/5k this past Sunday and I look forward to sharing more about that in a future post!  If you are finishing up your holiday shopping (or if you haven't started yet), I wanted to share a few gift ideas for the fitness enthusiast and runners in your life.

  • FlipBelt:  What is a FlipBelt you ask?  It is a tubular band worn around your waist that is designed with several easy access openings to securely hold your phone, music, keys, and other workout essentials (energy gels, etc...) while you are active.  It's made of a moisture-wicking, spandex-lycra blend and is machine washable, which is a huge plus in my book!  I have heard great things about FlipBelts and I've had my eye on the hot pink one for quite some time, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to try one through my affiliation with Fit Approach as a Sweat Pink Ambassador.  I wore my FlipBelt on Sunday during the Hot Chocolate 15K and I'm in love!  It was so nice not having to wear my armband, particularly since I like to take a lot of pictures during races.  Getting my phone in and out of the FlipBelt was so easy!  I loved how secure my keys, GU, and phone felt in the FlipBelt.  The FlipBelt stayed in place and it didn't chafe, which is another plus in my book.  I also love that the FlipBelt comes in so many different, fun colors!  It's the perfect gift for the fitness enthusiast on your list!  Head on over to the FlipBelt website to place your order and use code Sweat10 for 10% off your order.  I also have 15 codes for 33% off that I will be glad to share to the first 15 people who comment below!  (Note: I received a free FlipBelt in conjunction with a SweatPink Ambassador Campaign.  All opinions are my own.) 
Love my hot pink FlipBelt
Modeling the openings and clip for your keys
The FlipBelt is perfect for my Aquaphor and GU (and keys and phone not pictured) 
  • If the fitness enthusiast in your life has reached a special milestone this year or participated in a special race, consider a gift to commemorate the occasion!  My friend, Mary, also happened to be my Secret Santa at work and she got me an awesome 13.1 ornament to mark my two half marathons in 2014.  Another great option to commemorate special milestones and races is jewelry from Scott James Jewelry.  I have a necklace from Scott James with a running shoe and a 13.1 charm, but I also have my eye on two additional charms, the Ragnar logo charm and the Napa Valley charm!  Scott James also has Zooma charms and other beautiful charms, too. 
This special ornament is going to be a treasured addition to my tree!
  • I think a great pair of earbuds are a must for anyone with an active lifestyle and my personal favorites are Yurbuds.  After trying a multitude of earbuds only to be disappointed, I was a bit skeptical about Yurbuds, but I was sold after my first workout using them.  They do not fall out and they are incredibly comfortable!  I've had my pink pair for years, but I've got my eye on the newer models that have the tangle-free magnets and one-touch music and call control!  
  • There is nothing better for tired, sore legs (at least to this girl) following a run than compression socks!  I received a pair of 110% Flat Out Sox as part of my swag for Napa Valley Ragnar Badass Mother Runner team and I am obsessed with them.  In fact, I bought myself another pair, because I wear them so much and it is nice to have a clean pair when the other pair is going through the wash.  This is a great gift for the runner on your list! 
    Happy feet in my 110% Flat Out Sox
  •  Lastly, another perfect gift for the fitness enthusiast on your holiday shopping list is a gift card to a local sporting goods store or local running store.  I always seem to be adding to my running wish-list and with the ever changing technology and apparel in the fitness world, a gift card makes a great gift.  My Secret Santa, Mary, also added in a gift card to my favorite local running store (Big River Running) along with my ornament and I can't wait to go spend it! 
Happy Shopping to me!
I hope the above suggestions help with your holiday shopping!  Or maybe they will help you with your own post-holiday shopping!

Don't forget to comment below if you would like me to send you one of the FlipBelt 33% off codes!  Codes will be available to the first 15 people who comment below.

Happy Holidays!

"Always remember to fall asleep with a dream and wake up with a purpose." 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Winner of the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Giveaway

Congratulations to Debby H. for winning the free race registration for the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K!  Debby, I sent you an e-mail earlier this evening and I hope you enjoy the Hot Chocolate race as much I do.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

It's not too late to sign up for the St. Louis Hot Chocolate 15K/5K on December 14th, though!  Head on over to the race site and use code PLLhat1 to get a free hat with your registration.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving with family and friends!  There is a lot to be thankful for and although my Thanksgiving was a bit bittersweet (being the first without my Dad), I am blessed beyond measure with a wonderful husband, two sweet young boys, a great mom and mother-in-law, and fantastic friends.  Life is good!

Tonight my oldest son is at a sleepover at a friends house and since the little guy is asleep, I think it is time for a big cup of tea and a book (or maybe the second viewing of "Pitch Perfect."  A great $4 Black Friday find at Target!), but I did want to hop on tonight to congratulate Debby on winning the contest!

"Books and chocolate make life bearable." 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Top 10 reasons to do the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K + a giveaway

So much for staying consistent with blogging for the month of November, huh?  Admittedly, I am in a big funk and needed some time to rest mentally and physically.  November, while not as busy as October, has had its share of business and I'm working through some grief issues about my Dad.  I'm sure they are normal grief issues, especially considering the time of year (holidays and all) and a co-worker is going through some issues with her father currently and it's bringing back a lot of memories of when my dad was sick.

Let us focus on happier things though, shall we?  Like running and chocolate!  Two of my favorite things!  I am really looking forward to running the Hot Chocolate 15k race in St. Louis on December 14th.  It was definitely among my favorite races last year and I'm excited to participate again this year.  I'd also like to offer you the chance to participate and I have a free race registration to give away to one lucky reader!  Whether you've participated in a Hot Chocolate race before or not, here are my top 10 reasons to be a part of this great race:
  1. The race swag can't be beat!  Your race registration includes an amazing Hot Chocolate hoodie (see below for this year's hoodie).  I've mentioned this before, but I'll say it again, this is a phenomenal hoodie.  My hoodie from last year is still one of my favorite running accessories and the race registration is worth the hoodie alone!
  2. Two different race distances for you to choose from.  This is a great 5K race for everyone from first time participants to seasoned runners.  There is also a longer 15K race that is perfect for someone training for a spring half or for someone, like me, looking to challenge themselves in between training plans. 
  3. Speaking of the 15K, new for this year is a sweet (pun intended) finishers medal for all 15K participants.  I'm really glad to see the addition of the medal for the 15K race; that's quite a distance to run!  I also love that the medal looks like a chocolate bar and each city has a unique medal (the St. Louis medal is below).
  4. Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate.  Need I say more?  Yes, I do, because the haul of chocolate at this race is worth talking about.  After you cross the finish line and make your way over to the post-race party area, you are rewarded with the most amazing finishers mug filled with hot chocolate, chocolate fondue, and delicious dippable snacks (pretzels, banana, cookies, oh my!).  It was bitterly cold last year for the race and I don't think I've ever had hot chocolate that tasted as good as that cup at the finish line.  The fondue was amazing, too, and hit the spot.  All of your chocolate treats come in a cute mug which makes walking and eating a breeze. 
    My post-race goodies from last year
  5. If you are looking to introduce running to your kids, this is the perfect race to instill a love of running.  One of my oldest son's favorite treats is hot chocolate (well, anything chocolate really) so this race is right up his alley.  In addition to all of the delicious chocolate, there is also a great Kid Zone at the race complete with a bounce house (another favorite for both of my boys), an obstacle course, and games.   
  6. The race expo for the Hot Chocolate Race is also top notch!  Packet pick-up is very efficient and I appreciate that there are fitting rooms at the expo so you can try on your hoodie to make sure you have the perfect fit.  If you discover after you try it on that you need a new size, you can exchange your hoodie at the expo.  There is also a kid zone at the expo, great music, fantastic Hot Chocolate Merchandise, a variety of wonderful vendors, and of course, chocolate samples! As I said, if you love chocolate, this race is for you! 
  7. One of the things I loved most about this race last year beyond the hoodie and chocolate was the organization of the race and the caliber of volunteers.  I was extremely impressed with the focus on the safety and well-being of the runners last year given that it was bitterly cold and icy that morning.  Given that it was so cold and icy, I wouldn't have faulted the race organizers or volunteers for being a little subdued, but everyone I came in contact with had a smile on their face and words of encouragement, which I truly appreciated.  Putting on a race is no easy feat and getting up early on a cold Sunday morning to stand outside is not usually ideal, so thank you to all who were involved last year and who will be involved this year! 
  8. Not only can you participate in a fun race by doing the Hot Chocolate race, but you can also give back to the community and make a difference.  Runners have the option to Go the Extra Mile by raising funds for Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis, which is a wonderful organization that provides a home away from home for families of children with complex medical needs while their child is being treated in the hospital.   Participating in the Go the Extra Mile program not only raises funds for Ronald McDonald House Charities, but also promotes, supports, and raises awareness for the mission of the organization.  
  9. Another new aspect of the race in 2014 is free race photos and videos!  High resolution shots will be captured and tracked using your unique bib number and after the race, you will be e-mailed your free photos and videos.  Race photos can typically be costly, so I love that the Hot Chocolate race is offering this great perk to participants.  Don't forget to smile for the camera! 
  10. Did I mention the chocolate?  And the hoodie?  I can't rave enough about the great amenities that the race has to offer, but let me reiterate how fabulous the hoodie is and how delicious the chocolate goodies are.  The whole race experience from the expo to the finish line offers something for all of the chocolate aficionados out there!  
I am really looking forward to the race on December 14th in St. Louis and I hope to see a lot of you there!  If you would like to sign up, please feel free to use my code PLLhat1 to receive an awesome hat in addition to your race swag!

I'm also excited to giveaway one free race registration to the Hot Chocolate Race of your choice.  To enter, please use the Rafflecopter entry below and I will announce a winner on Saturday, November 29th.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway In the meantime, I want to wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!  There is a lot to be thankful for and it is important to keep that in mind.

"Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them is the true measure of our Thanksgiving." 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Happy November!

Remember my last post when I said I had hoped that November would prove to be a bit less busy and would therefore allow me to blog more consistently?  Here it is November 5th and it is my first post of the month and my first post in over a week.  Hmm, so much for consistency.

I have been feeling a little off the past few days and chalked it up to allergies.  Our weather has been crazy lately.  The weekend before Halloween it was in the mid-80's and the boys were practically sweating to death in their costumes as we did Trunk or Treat at my oldest's school and a Halloween festival at the college where I work.  It's always hard trying to figure out whether to get the boys a costume more appropriate for fall weather or for warmer, Indian summer weather because you never know what you are going to get in St. Louis at the end of October.  This year, our costumes were more appropriate for cooler weather, which worked to our advantage since it was quite cool and windy on Halloween night.  We had a great time trick or treating with friends and the boys were darling in their costumes.  We typically try to dress somewhat alike so this year, we had Harry Potter (Nick), toddler Harry Potter (Jack), Hermione (me), and a Dementor (Matt).  I am going to savor these years when the boys will indulge my love of Halloween and family costumes, because I know that there will be a day all too soon that they won't want to dress up with Mom and Dad.

Halloween 2014 - Toddler Harry Potter and Harry Potter
Toddler Harry Potter, Hermione, and Harry Potter at Trunk or Treat
Dementor (Matt) at Trunk or Treat
Despite my denial about how I've been feeling and attributing it to allergy issues, I am, in fact, sick and took a sick day today for the first time in quite awhile.  I'm not sure what I have exactly, but I'm losing my voice, my throat hurts (not like strep, but different than a normal sore throat), I'm coughing up a storm, I feel feverish, and just generally feel blah.  I normally don't stay home unless I'm on my death bed, but I've learned that I don't do myself any favors by trying to be superwoman, so I decided it would be best to stay home and rest, particularly since I have a busy week coming up with events at work (the college where I work is celebrating its 150th anniversary).  A little soup, tea, and naps seems to have helped a bit. 

This week, I am going to wrap up my Ragnar adventure with things I learned along the way and some tips I have for anyone who is going to participate in a Ragnar race or is thinking about it.  I'm happy to answer any questions you might have (nothing is off limits), so feel free to fire away in the comment section below and I will answer! 

It seems fitting to finish up my Ragnar adventure since I just received my medal in the mail over the weekend!  It's a long story, but it's been a long time coming getting this medal.  It's nice to finally be able to hold it and see it.  Plus, receiving it in the mail brought back a lot of memories!

At long last my Ragnar Napa Valley medal arrived
I hope everyone is having a great, and healthy, week!

My Ragnar teammate and friend, Smitha, posted this quote to her blog's Facebook page (check out her here!) and I love it.  It's so true!

"It's important to remember that each foot strike carries you forward, not backward. And every time you put on your running shoes you are different in some way than you were the day before." 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Happy National Chocolate Day!

Who knew such a thing existed?  I guess I should have known since it seems like there is a day for everything, but I can definitely get on board with a day for chocolate!  It's a good thing I love running to counteract my love of chocolate, which brings me to some some exciting news related to chocolate and running!  This year, I am a blog ambassador for the Hot Chocolate 15/5K and I couldn't be more excited because the race last year was definitely a highlight for me and I'm excited to spread the word about such a great race.

 When I first heard about the Hot Chocolate race series last year, I was immediately intrigued by the name, but the two things that sold me and led me to sign up were the post-race treats (hot chocolate and chocolate fondue? Yes, please!) and the awesome hoodie which served as the race swag last year.  The hoodie was my favorite running accessory last winter and it got me through many a cold race, including the Hot Chocolate race, which happened to fall on a bitterly cold St. Louis day.  I'm a sucker for thumb holes on my running tops/jackets, so this hoodie had me at the words "thumb holes."

December 2013 before the race with the amazing hoodie with thumb holes
December 2013: post-race chocolate deliciousness.  
I loved everything about the race last year, barring the frigid temperatures, but what can you expect in mid-December?  The expo was a lot of fun (there were chocolate samples!) and I loved that they had a fitting room for you to try on your hoodie to make sure you got the right fit.  Race day, as I mentioned, was brutally cold, but the race volunteers were amazing, race officials monitored the cold temperatures and the slightly slippery road conditions to keep all runners safe, and the post-race party was great!  All in all, it was a wonderful experience, which you can read more about here, and I am really excited to participate again this year when the Hot Chocolate Race returns to St. Louis on December 14th!

Last year, I did the 5K, but this year I am going to challenge myself to do the 15K, which I am looking forward to.  Not only will all participants receive another awesome hoodie this year, but new to 2014 races, all 15K participants will receive a sweet, city-specific medal in the shape of a candy bar.  I'm so glad they added a medal this year for the 15K runners; my friend, Mary, ran the race last year and it was her longest run to-date and I thought she really deserved a medal after that race, so I made her one online!

From the Hot Chocolate 15K & 5K Facebook page: a look at the sweet 15K finishers medals from the Denver race 
I'm also excited to share that as a blog ambassador, I will be giving away a free registration to a reader!  Stay tuned for information on the giveaway in the near future!  (The registration will be available for any Hot Chocolate Race within this season.) 

In the meantime, if you'd like to register for the Hot Chocolate 15/5K race, feel free to use the code "PLLhat1" to get a free hat with your registration!  I've recently become quite attached to wearing a hat while I run, so I'm excited to add another hat to my rotation.    

Fantastic race swag, including a hoodie and a hat with the above code.  
For more information about "America's Sweetest Race", the Hot Chocolate racing series, including the other cities hosting races, catch them on their webpage, on Facebook, and on Twitter.  

It's been a busy month for the Roeseler's and as much as I love October and Halloween, I am looking forward to a somewhat more quiet November and hopefully, more consistent blog posts and workouts! 

"Don't count the miles. Make the miles count." 

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Great GO! St. Louis Halloween Race Recap

I've had a great, relaxing week following my second half marathon!  Last week, we celebrated my mom's birthday on Tuesday evening, Wednesday evening was Parent/Teacher Conferences at Nick's school, and on Thursday evening my mom and I went to a fun event at a local movie theater for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  I've been hitting the hay fairly early each night and letting myself relax mentally and physically, which has been nice!

Last Sunday morning (race day) when I woke up, I felt significantly better than the morning of my last half.  I had some pretty intense nausea before my last half, so I was quite relieved to not have the same issues this past Sunday.  I ate a bit of oatmeal and a string cheese after I got dressed and then headed to pick up my mom.  The weather was great temperature wise, but it was definitely gloomy out.  I checked the weather religiously in the days leading up to the race and the reports called for varying chances of rain.  At one point early last week, there was a 60% chance of rain, but as the race date drew closer the percentage dropped down to 10%.  Naturally, it started to spit as we drove downtown, but mom and I hoped that the rain would pass.

We parked the car and started to head to the starting line and I was definitely feeling chilly.  I hadn't brought a jacket, because I didn't anticipate being cool and I didn't want to fuss with handing it off to my mom before the race started.  As we started walking, I warmed up and had my mom take a quick pre-race picture.

Feeling a bit nervous pre-race!
I headed to the starting line and said good-bye to my mom.  As I waited near the start line, I had a blast looking at all of the costumes.  I saw a unicorn, a guy dressed as bacon, two women dressed as Mario and Luigi complete with denim overalls (I really hope they had running gear on underneath. The thought of running 13.1 in denim gives me the willies), and two clever runners dressed as pacers.  I thought they were official race pacers (I should have noticed that they weren't wearing the Michelob Ultra singlet!) until I saw the signs that said "Pace:  BEER" and "Pace: WTF?"  I think the pacers were my favorite costumes!

The (rainy) starting line for the race
After the playing of the National Anthem, we were on our way!  In the days leading up to the race, I was incredibly nervous about the 3:15 time limit for the race, because I was convinced I ran my last half marathon in 3:30 and would thus have to shave 15 minutes off my time.  It always helps to look up your last race time before you work yourself into a panic.  It turns out that I ran my last half in 3:16:40, so I really should not have been worried about the 3:15 time limit!  I did not realize that, though, until well after the race.  Near the beginning of the race, though, I heard a woman tell her friend that they would not sweep people off the course at 3:15, especially if you were near the finish line, so from that point on, I did not worry about my finishing time.  I had been stressed out all week about it and there was no sense worrying about it throughout the entire race.

I had my Garmin set to time me for 4:1 run/walk intervals and I felt good as I set out.  My "better" goal for this race was to stick to said 4:1 intervals, however, let the record reflect that I am the worst plan follower ever.  My run/walk interval plan did not last long, but instead, I listened to my body and ran/walked when needed.  Sometimes I ran for more than 4 minutes and sometimes I walked for more than 1 minute and I felt really good.

At some point early on in the race, I noticed a woman in front of me wearing a super cute Sparkle Skirt and I excused myself (I'm fairly certain I was somewhat interrupting a conversation she was having with another runner) and asked if she liked her Sparkle Skirt since I have been going back and forth about getting one.  I truly don't know why I have been holding out, though, because everyone I've talked to has raved about them and this runner was no exception.  She assured me that the skirts were worth the price and did not chafe whatsoever.  She also spoke highly of the pocket on the shorts.  I thanked her and went on my way.

I had an uneventful, and really great, first half of the race. I kept the 3:00 pacer in my sight lines for the better part of 5 miles and I started to feel a bit too confident about my finish time.  It was still raining somewhat but it was more of a mist than a real rain shower and it felt rather good.  Around mile 4, I took a Salted Caramel GU (still my favorite flavor!) and shortly thereafter, we parted ways with the 10K runners.

At mile 6, I had somewhat of a brain fart (I should mention again that I am not good with math) because I saw my time and I started to get really excited thinking that since I was halfway through and my time was 1:20 that I could easily finish in 3 hours.  Duh, Laura.  Mile 6 is not the halfway point of a half marathon.  Mile 6.55 is halfway!  Oops!

Unfortunately, around said halfway point (or rather a bit before), my IT band decided to throw a temper tantrum.  I was really pleasantly surprised at how well my IT band had been in the first half of the race.  Although I was keeping the 3:00 pacer in my sight, I did not feel like I was overdoing it.  My pace was conservative and I felt good, so I hoped that my IT band would cooperate.

I kept up my run/walk intervals despite the IT band pain, but it was definitely becoming more walking and less running.  I managed to smile triumphantly for my pictures at the halfway point, which amused the race photographer.  I told him I was trying to get a good race photo for once and it worked!  I'm hoping to download the official race photos soon.

I took another GU near mile 7 and I tried the Peanut Butter flavor.  It was ok, but it had a gritty consistency and it wasn't nearly as good as Salted Caramel.  I'm anxious to try Chocolate Peanut Butter, though!  It had started raining quite a bit harder at this point and while I had been thanking the volunteers all throughout the race, I definitely made sure to profusely thank the volunteers at this point.  I am always impressed by race volunteers, especially when the weather is less than ideal, like the rainy race day I had!

Around mile 7.5, the course made a U-turn, so runners were running side by side and as I was coming back down the stretch of road I just ran down, I saw the girl in the Sparkle Skirt and told her "good job" as we ran by one another.  My IT band was really acting up at this point, but the enthusiastic volunteers at the water station near mile 8 helped keep my spirits high.  In this particular neighborhood, some of the residents were sitting out on their porch enjoying coffee and they asked me what mile I was on.  I told them I was at mile 7.94 and they said "Wow!  How far are you going?"  I told them 13.1 and they wished me good luck on the rest of my race.  It's always nice interacting with residents as we run through different neighborhoods.  I'm sure it is a bit of an inconvenience having road closures and the normal sounds of race day merriment, so I appreciate their support and encouragement!

By mile 8, my right IT band was screaming at me and I knew that I would be walking the rest of the race, but I was ok with that and tried to keep my pace brisk.  As I started mile 9, I heard someone approach me from behind (not an unusual occurrence, though) and a voice said "I've been trying to catch up to you!" and it was my friend in the Sparkle Skirt!

I learned that her name was Brigitte and this race was her 19th half marathon!  She completed a half the weekend before (the MO' Cowbell Race) and she was registered to run the Rock 'N Roll St. Louis Race the following weekend, which would be her 20th half.  She is also a Run Disney runner and is training to do the Dopey Challenge in January.  The Dopey Challenge includes a 5K, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon all in the same weekend!

It was great talking to Brigitte, but I felt like I was slowing her down.  I told her my IT band was agitating me and mentioned that if I was slowing her down to feel free to continue ahead.  She indicated that she was having some ankle issues and that she enjoyed getting to know new people at races.

I was really in pain at this point and it was so nice having someone to chat with to keep my mind off the pain.  I truly think the last few miles of this race would have been miserable were it not for my new running friend.  We talked about running, our families, and our careers and found out that we had so much in common.  We are both only children who've lost our dad's and we work blocks away from each other.  I really feel like Brigitte and I crossed paths for a reason.  Not only did she help me through the last difficult miles of the race, but she also talked to me about her dad's passing and let me talk about my own grief and losing my dad.  We talked and walked during the last 4 miles and as we approached the finish line, we jogged the last few steps across the finish line.  We've made plans to have lunch soon and meeting Brigitte reminded me how much I love the running community.  I am always blown away by the support and encouragement I receive from fellow runners and Brigitte was truly an angel on race day!  She said it best when she told me that running to her is never about the finish time, but rather, it's about meeting new people and supporting and encouraging one another across the finish line.  Amen!

I met up with my Mom after I crossed the finish line and it should be noted that she is the most amazing Mama ever!  She got up incredibly early on a dreary Sunday morning to come downtown with me, wait nearly 3 and a half hours in the rain for me to race, and cheered me and Brigitte on for the last few blocks!  Thank you, Mama!  I love you!

My official finish time was 3:25:22, which I am incredibly proud of.  My 5K time was 44:37 and my 10K time was 1:29:32.  While my finish time was nearly 10 minutes slower than my last half, given all of the IT band issues I was having, I couldn't have asked for a better time.  Even with the IT band pain, my walking pace towards the end was, on average, 15:40.  I started the race with an average pace of 14:22, so my IT band didn't slow me down too much.  I'm glad that my first half of the race was pretty solid, though, to help make up for the last, and slower, half.

Half Marathon 2 is in the books! 
After I got my medal and met up with my mom, I hobbled over to a bench to eat a few of the post-race snacks.  After my first half, I had a terrible dizzy spell (several really), but luckily, other than my IT band, I felt pretty darn good after this race.  When I stood up from the bench, though, I knew it was going to be a long walk to the car.  My mom offered to go get the car, but I figured it would do me some good to walk it out a bit.  It was a long walk back to the car, though, and I had to stop several times on the way.  It felt so good to sit down once we got back to the car! 

My mom and I went out for breakfast after the race and I had a big glass of chocolate milk and a stack of delicious pancakes and a side of bacon.  It hit the spot! 

I've never been a big chocolate milk fan, but lately, after long runs, it tastes so good!

One of my pancakes was Mickey shaped!  A lovely, unexpected surprise! 
After breakfast and a nice, hot shower (I could not get warm after the race between my wet running clothes and soggy shoes from the rain), I took a post-race nap, which was delightful.

 I love this spooky  medal!

Back of the medal
Overall, I had a really great experience and this race is once again at the top of my list.  I love the spirit of the race and the Halloween theme, plus the people watching is prime with all of the costumes!  Technically, I did not meet my better or best goals and I only halfway met my good goal, which was to not get swept by finishing in 3:15.  I did not finish in 3:15, but I did not get swept and I finished, so I call that a win!  

I'd love to train hard for my next half and aim for a 2:45 - 3:00 half.  It will be a challenge, but I'd love to push myself to train (mentally and physically) for that goal.  

"Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up." 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

On the eve before my second half marathon

I have mixed emotions about my second half marathon tomorrow morning, due to feeling somewhat unprepared, but I am mainly excited, particularly since this race has been one of my favorite races to date. Tomorrow, I am running in the Great GO! St. Louis Halloween Race, which combines my love of running and Halloween.  What could be better?

I got a great pep talk from my friend, Mary, the other day, so I am trying to be as positive as possible.  I really loved this race last year (I did the 10K), so I hope the excitement of the race and seeing all of the great costumes keep me pumped, too.

Speaking of costumes, unlike last year, my Halloween costume this year is not runner friendly, so I did a bit of improvising and came up with a pretty cute outfit.  I love, love, love my Tough Girl Tutu, which I received as part of my swag as a member of the BAMRR team for Napa, so I knew I could create a fun costume using that.
A little Super Girl action with my badass Tough Girl Tutu
One of the best things I read before my first half in the spring was the idea of creating good, better, best goals for your race so that no matter what, you will have a good day.  With that in mind, my goals for tomorrow are:
  • GOOD:  To not get swept.  This is a legitimate concern of mine.  There is no full marathon in conjunction with this race, which usually gives the half marathoners a lot of breathing room in regards to finish times.  There is a very firm 3 hour and 15 minute time limit tomorrow and I'm a bit nervous because I did my spring half in 3:30, so I need to shave 15 minutes off my time.  It's not impossible, but I would feel a bit better if I was a bit more prepared running wise (and not having IT band issues, too).  It will be a good day if I finish the race in 3:15 and don't get swept.  This equates to an average pace per mile of 14:53, which seems absolutely doable as long as my IT band doesn't flare up.
  • BETTER:  To stick with my 4:1 run/walk intervals throughout the entire race.  I tried 6:1 intervals last week, but to keep my IT band at bay, I'm going to shorten my run intervals and see if that helps.  
  • BEST: To complete the race without any IT band pain.  I've been doing a lot of stretching and foam rolling this week in the hopes of avoiding any of the pain I experienced last weekend.  Fingers crossed! 
I'm also sending badass vibes to Sarah Bowen Shea tomorrow as she runs the Victoria Marathon aiming to achieve a Boston qualifying time for the 2016 race.  After watching her commitment to her training plan in Napa and watching her sheer determination in overcoming the obstacles that she faced on her legs, particularly her last Napa leg, I have no doubt that tomorrow is her day.  I've signed up for race text alerts so I can keep up with her race.  With the time difference, I will finish around the time her race starts, or shortly thereafter.  Go, Champy, Go!

Tomorrow as I cross the starting line, I'm going to remember my favorite quote:

"She believed she could, so she did." 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My Napa Adventure Continues (Part 4)

Needless to say, I slept extremely well on Saturday evening once I made it to back to my hotel room!  I crashed and didn't wake up until my alarm went off the next morning.  The rest of the BAMRR team was headed back to San Francisco on Sunday morning to catch their flights home/to meet up with family and friends, but first we had to clean off our beautiful vans!  

Smitha and I were sad to clean off our dear Van 2
Jen Lewis and Dimity cleaning off Van 1 and me it would seem!
Dimity passing off the Ragnar glass (Captain's gift) to Erin, who had the most "badass" leg! 
Yeah we were!  (In the parking lot of our hotel in Vallejo)
We tried using Windex and some towels from our hotel room to clean the vans, but it involved a lot of elbow grease.  However, Lisa cleverly suggested we use our hotel room cards to gently scrape off the window paint and it worked perfectly!  

Soon enough, the vans were clean and it was time to say goodbye to my dear BAMRR girls.  I cried saying goodbye to these amazing women who I will forever be bonded with, but I know it is not the last time I will see them, as we are already planning a few reunion events for 2015!  

I met up with my mom in the parking lot of the hotel and we set off on our mother/daughter adventure!  Our first stop?  Food!  This girl needed some sustenance, so we found an IHOP and I feel like I ordered everything on the menu.  Belgian waffles with strawberries and whipped cream?  Check.  Bacon?  Check.  Sourdough toast?  Check, although I only managed to eat one piece and ended up taking the rest to go.  We also made a quick stop at Starbucks to get some caffeine and they were out of pumpkin spice syrup (oh the horror!  And I'm kind of serious.  I had a salted caramel latte and it wasn't quite the same as a PSL).

Mom had a great adventure of her own while I was doing Ragnar; she set out for some beach time and found a great book store, where the owner gave her a recommendation for a wonderful beach about 12 miles away.  I had fun seeing her pictures of the beach on Facebook during my rest times for Ragnar.  She found a neat light house, visited Half Moon Bay, and Sausalito. I'm really glad Mom came out with me and was able to have fun while I was running so that we could have some fun together after the trip! 

We headed out of Vallejo and made the drive to Napa.  In our rental car, mom and I had the four blankets that the owner of the Marina Motel had let us borrow.  When he gave us the blankets (which were retired linens from the hotel), he only asked for one thing in return; that we donate the blankets when we were finished.  The Marina Motel typically donates their retired linens to local homeless shelters or shelters for abused women, so his request was that we do the same and we were happy to oblige.  Mom and I had driven past a Goodwill store in Vallejo, but we decided to keep driving to see what we would find.

As we were on the highway approaching Napa, I saw on the left side of the road, a large white house (it looked like a mansion) and I asked mom if we could pull over, because I was quite certain that it was one of the wineries that I saw the day before while we were running.  We pulled over and found out that it was not a winery, but in fact, it was a local VA facility.  Mom and I knew this was the perfect place to donate the blankets, because my Dad was an Air Force Veteran and my Grandpa was a Marine Veteran.  There were a lot of buildings on this VA campus and we finally found a building that seemed to have some activity (it was a Sunday afternoon, after all), which turned out to be the VA Hospital  I hopped out of the car and went inside to find someone and I found a really nice gentleman who listened to my story and told me they would gladly take the blankets.  I got a little teary eyed when I walked back to the car to get the blankets.  I really felt my Dad's presence that afternoon and I don't think it was a coincidence that I felt the need so strongly to pull off the highway and go to this particular building.  Dad was definitely with me that day and it was nice to have him be a part of this wonderful trip. 

Donating our wonderful Ragnar blankets to the VA Hospital.  
Grateful to have found a good home for the blankets
Mom and I had a wonderful day visiting wineries in Napa.  We stopped at Robert Mondavi and shared a flight of wine, which had the most delicious Moscato!  We couldn't get over how beautiful the scenery was in Napa, too!
Our first glasses of wine in Napa
Next we stopped at V. Sattui Winery and had a lovely picnic with more Moscato, a baguette, and some fabulous dill flavored goat cheese!  So good!  We also hit up Sutter Home (free wine tastings, fyi!) and one of my personal favorites, Castello di Amorosa, which is an authentically styled Tuscan castle.  By this point, I had consumed a fair share of wine, so there were shenanigans aplenty, but I always enjoy being a little inebriated with my mom.  My motto has always been, if you can't get drunk with your mom (after you turn 21, of course), who can you get drunk with?  
Enjoying our Moscato outside at V. Sattui Winery
The beautiful Castello di Amorosa
The courtyard at Castello di Amorosa

My sweet Mama

Winery #selfie with my Mama 

The view driving down the driveway at Castello di Amorosa.  #Beautiful
After our winery stops on Sunday, we headed back to Calistoga (where my Napa race ended) and checked into a really cute hotel (Golden Haven Hot Springs Spa and Resort) for the night.  After we checked in, we went to downtown Calistoga for dinner and to do a little shopping.  We ran into Melissa from my team and her friend; they, too, were staying in Calistoga to visit some of the wineries.  It was so nice to see Melissa one more time, as I was having withdrawal and missing my girls!  Mom and I had a great dinner at Checker's in Calistoga and I had the most amazing shrimp pasta with tomatoes.  Yum!  We also stopped for ice cream at a local shop, which hit the spot.  We noticed as we window shopped along the main street in Calistoga that several shops had "Welcome Ragnar" signs in the store fronts, which I thought was really nice.  Some stores were even offering discounts to Ragnar runners.
My delicious shrimp and pasta dish from Checkers!
A warm welcome for Ragnar Runners from the local businesses in Calistoga
 Mom and I had a good night's sleep on Sunday and when we woke up on Monday, we headed back into Calistoga for breakfast and to do more shopping.  The main street in Calistoga had some darling shops!  I also loved how biker friendly Calistoga was.  Our hotel, and several others that we saw, had complimentary bicycles for guests to take into town, which I thought was really neat.
The backyard of our hotel in Calistoga
After we finished breakfast and sightseeing in Calistoga, Mom and I headed to another winery, which Sarah had pointed out to us as we were driving to the finish line on Saturday.  Sterling Vineyards sits atop a hill and you actually take a tram to the winery for the tour and tastings.  It was a beautiful day and the tram ride to the top was awesome!  The winery was also participating in an art project called "Before I Die..." and they had a chalkboard outside the entrance with spaces for people to write their goals.  I thought this was such a neat concept!  It was also grape stomping day at Sterling Vineyards, but Mom and I just watched a couple who happened to be stomping when we walked over that way.  We also got to watch some of the vineyard employees emptying crushed grapes out of one of the wine vats, which was pretty cool (and fragrant!).

Gorgeous drive into Sterling Vineyards

The "Before I Die..." board

That is my "before I die" sentiment!
Mom writing on the wall.  Her sentiment:  to live on the beach! 
Our tram 

In the tram ready for #MoreWine

The view from the tram on the way to the top

So much wine! 
Me and my Mama at Sterling Vineyards
 Mom and I decided to head back to San Francisco on Monday night since our flight was at 1 p.m. on Tuesday.  We figured it would be good to be somewhat nearby the airport and we wanted to go down to Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 in the morning before our flight.  We came back to San Francisco via Santa Rosa, because I had a little to-do item on my agenda: to get another tattoo.  I've wanted to get a tattoo for some time now, one that would honor Jack.  I have a tattoo for Nick (and one for myself), but I don't have one for Jack.  I also wanted to get a half marathon tattoo, but I thought I should get Jack's first.  However, I don't know exactly what I want to get for Jack and rather than rush into it, I decided to wait on his tattoo and get my half marathon tattoo since I knew exactly what I wanted.  The fun part is that my Mom got a tattoo also!  I double, no, triple checked to make sure she really wanted one and in such a visible place (her wrist), and she did.  She got a blue star for Nick and she handled it like a pro!  My Mom and I have bonded over a lot of things in life, but I never thought we'd bond over ink!  She surprised me!  Mom, I'm glad we got to get inked together! :)
Mom and Brent, our tattoo artist in CA

Mom's finished tattoo for her grandson, Nick
One of my favorite quotes is "She believed she could, so she did" and I contemplated getting this tattooed on my foot for my half marathon tattoo, but that seemed rather lengthy.  Then I considered just getting a small 13.1, but I wanted something more.  As I was googling half marathon tattoos a few weeks ago, I came across the perfect tattoo for me.  (This is partly why I waited so long to run post-Napa.  I didn't want to wear socks while my tattoo healed.  Probably silly, but I wanted it to heal properly before I put socks on it!)

On the top of my right foot.  The word "believe" to remind me of my favorite quote, with the "b" represented by a 13. and the "l" represented by 1.
As we were driving around trying to find a tattoo parlor in Santa Rosa, I saw street names that looked familiar and I put two and two together and realized where I was.  Santa Rosa being the place where I ran my second, and favorite, leg of Ragnar.  I thought it was pretty fitting that Santa Rosa then ended up being the place where we got our tattoos!  

After our tattoos, Mom and I drove into San Francisco and stopped to walk for a bit on the Golden Gate Bridge and then we settled in a hotel for the night.  We ordered pizza and watched tv and I crashed yet again! 
Mama and I on the GG bridge at night
On Tuesday morning, Mom and I woke up and headed down to Fisherman's Wharf.  We went to Boudin Bakery again, because I wanted to show Mom all of the sourdough deliciousness and then we went to see the Sea Lions at Pier 39.  I remembered that on Pier 39, I saw a produce stand with the biggest fruit I had ever seen.  The girls and I saw the stand on Thursday when we were at the Pier and I wanted to show the fruit to Mom.  

I don't think I have ever seen a plum that big! 

Sea Lions at Pier 39 
Mom and I also drove down the crookedest mile (a portion of Lombard Street), which I remember doing when I visited San Francisco years earlier with my parents.  It wasn't nearly as crowded as I remembered, but I guess it was a weekday.  I loved all of the beautiful flowers that were planted in front of the homes on the crookedest mile.  The hydrangea's were stunning! 

Looking up at the crookedest mile from about halfway down the street
 Mom and I headed back to the airport to return our rental car and catch our flight home.  We flew to Denver and had a little layover there, which gave us time to have a nice dinner at one of the restaurants in the terminal before catching our flight home.

Farewell San Francisco.  Thanks for the wonderful memories! 
I had a wonderful, amazing trip and it still seems like somewhat of a dream since it went by so fast!  I'm looking forward to sharing what I learned from my Ragnar adventure on my next post!  It was an awesome journey that I would absolutely do all over again! 

"'What if I fall?' Oh but my darling, what if you fly?"