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."