Friday Five: Fall Preview

Ah yes, Labor Day weekend…  I always say this signifies summers “Last Rites”. Even though the season doesn’t officially end for a few more weeks, for all intents and purposes (with kids going back to school and pools closing) welcome to FALL!!

In honor of the impending change in seasons, Courtney, Cynthia and I chose “Fall Preview” for this weeks Friday Five theme. What’re your plans, what’re you looking forward to, what’s happening? Join us this and every week!FF

Now as for me I am not letting summer go down without a fight. I will be running the Rock n’ Roll Virginia Beach half this weekend and enjoying the Atlantic Ocean breeze and sand one last time with some fabulous blogging peeps (see you soon Maria and Abby!)  I am looking forward to fall though and here are just a few reasons why:

ONE:  Reason numero uno is a biggie, MARINE CORPS MARATHON!!!  I’ll wait for a later post to detail where I think I am in terms of training and preparedness but I’m certainly looking forward to this milestone run.  MCM

TWO:  Dare I say, football?!  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know I am a HUGE Steelers fan and if summer has to end, well happy that football comes with it!  And in true Mar fashion I already have a couple of road trips planned for some away games (c’mon, you know I can’t stay put for very long!)

THREE:  Preparing for back to school.  “I’m going back, back, back to school again. Oh oh I wanna go, back to schoooool” (I will buy dinner for the first person who knows where this song lyric is from!!)  I’m keeping mum on the details of the program I’ve applied to (for now) but I just received my acceptance letter and will start next Spring. I’ll need these next few months post marathon to get all my little ducks in a row. Hmm, do I need a book bag? :)  Do they still call them that?  Dreams

FOUR:  My summer was extremely busy with work and travel and other things.  Right now marathon training is taking over everything else. However, I have been working on my plans for formally offering run coaching services which I look to implement in the days and weeks to come.  And number three has a little something to do with this ;)

FIVE:  Several weeks ago I mentioned sitting on a conference call with the EleVen By Venus team to preview the Fall 2014 collection. Part of the collection, Herringbone, went live that week.  I also mentioned that I hoped you liked RED because the Vintage Floral collection has lots of it AND was just released on the EleVen site (Venus has also been sporting it throughout the US Open!) Good thing today is payday for me (or perhaps not).  Use code Team11MarA for 10% off!!

can we talk about this collection?! wowza!  EBV

What’s on your fall agenda? What do you think of this RED?

Product Review: Kushyfoot

Disclaimer: I received a set of Kushyfoot products in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Kushyfoot-LogoSince my foot injury this winter I’ve been very attentive to my feet. While I am healed, things in the foot region are certainly “different”. My stride and form is different, I haven’t worked up to my old speed yet (but getting there) and I’ve gone up a shoe size.  I do everything I can to keep them protected and look for comfort at any opportunity.

Enter Kushyfoot.  They incorporate Reflexology into their products and believe that “Kushyfoot® massages with every step”.  A little more background:  “Kushyfoot® adds a 3-dimensional padding or “massaging sole” to their products which acts as a cushion between bare feet and the hard insoles of a shoe. The Kushyfoot® sole helps relieve tension and discomfort in achy feet, thereby helping to relieve stress and fatigue throughout the entire body.”   reflexology

You guys know I am very picky about what products I’ll take on for a review but these are my post injury feet I’m talking about so I challenged my skepticism and thought, why not give em a try?  They sent me fashion foot covers, sneaker foot covers, yoga socks and athletic socks.

Foot Covers.  When I opened the package my first thought was, what the heck are these? Seriously, I had never heard of a foot cover before.  Then I put them on and walked around a little.  Then the light bulb went off – umm, you wear them under flats and other summer shoes.  Duh.  Kushyfoot

This was actually perfect because DC is hot. DC in the summer is hotter. And flip flops or sandals aren’t always appropriate for work.  Dress shoes with no socks in DC heat = no bueno. I tried these under my flats and I was impressed. They kept my foot dry, were comfortable and I have absolutely no complaints. I never would have thought to wear foot covers otherwise but now I’m a fan and they’ve gotten quite a bit of use.  Bloggers note: I have not yet tried the sneaker foot covers.

Yoga Socks. Lately I’ve been going to yoga a lot as I love  how it compliments my running. My favorite style of yoga to practice is hot yoga which basically means sweat so yeah, my feet slide around on the mat! I was very excited to try these but have to say I didn’t find them at all attractive looking.  They are also one size fits all and my size 6 foot didn’t really wear them well (this little piggy got lost).  Kushyfoot2

I did some Yoga for Athletes workouts at home to test them out there and looks aside they work GREAT! Kushyfoot4I didn’t chance them in hot yoga because it’s just too warm there for anything on my feet. If you have mat slip issues (and bigger feet!) I’d recommend giving them a whirl but personally wouldn’t go out of my way to use them. They can also be used for pedicures, which could come in handy during the cooler months when wearing flops out of the spa could attract a penguin. ;)

Athletics Socks.  Last but not least are the low cut athletics socks.  Now, the package itself says “massages your feet with every step”.  Yes, that garnered some serious side eye from me. This of course was before reading all the about me stuff on Kushyfoot® (see above).  Still I was in slight disbelief on just how well these could work.  Then I put them on.  And they really feel good. Initially I wore them just to walk around the house in. After all, it’s summer so flip flops are where it’s at.  Kushyfoot3

But then I opted to really test them out and wore a pair on a 4 mile run. I could actually feel the comfort with each step. True Story. I don’t gush about a lot of things but I was really impressed with the how well these felt.  KushyfootAthleticNow don’t get me wrong, none of this can replace any kind of medical advice or even alleviate significant foot issues so don’t go self diagnose with a pair of socks BUT what they promised? They delivered.  I still have my favorite and tried and true brands but these will certainly get a lot of use out of me.

Of all the products I tried the Athletics Socks definitely came out on top, followed by the Foot Covers.  You can find Kushyfoot online and in select retailers or visit them on Facebook and click here to follow them on Twitter.

Have you ever heard of foot covers? What do you think about the Science of Reflexology in footwear? Check out their interactive guide for more info!!

Week 7: The Struggle is Real

Coming off a week away, I needed a vacation from my vacation.  Getting back into the swing of things this past week was a strug-gle! The whole east coast/west coast thing (and I’m not talking about rap battles) is no joke as I adjusted back from the time change.  Sleep was difficult, waking up was even worse (wink) – and please don’t get me started on the “runger”!!!  I couldn’t wait until I was able to relax a bit this weekend.  In spite of it all though my Week 7 in marathon training was pretty strong.  I even got back into the meal prepping game Sunday afternoon (yay, go me!!) recap

Monday: Since this was day 1 back  to work from vacation I was pretty tired. I had convinced myself a workout was not happening. But then I got it together and talked myself into Body Pump. I preceded that by warming up for 10 minutes on the stationary bike.

Tuesday:  I set out to run 5 miles and picked a new route.  I miscalculated the return though so ended up overshooting the turn around point and walked 2.5 miles (uphill) home.  No matter, I felt really good and the weather was perfect for evening activities! 007

Wednesday: After 10 days of not seeing my main man Jake, today was personal training day!  We worked mainly upper body centered around using the bench.

Thursday:  So, if speed work is included in your training and you don’t actually do it, does it make a sound?  HA!  I’ve been slacking on the this so decided this was the week to get it going.  I actually like doing speed sessions on the treadmill so off to the gym I went!  The workout:

  • 1600 meters (1 mile) at 8:20 pace
  • 800 meters (half mile) at 8:00 pace
  • 400 meters (0.25 mile) at 7:30 pace.
  • I walked 400 meters to start and in between sets, ending with a jog at 9:13 pace for a total of 3 miles in 31:09.

speedFriday:  REST day!

Saturday: The good thing about my training plan is it includes long run ranges.  For this week 12-14 miles was on tap.  I opted to shoot for 14 given that my last long run ended up as a 6 miler.  I would classify this run as… wet. It sprinkled the first 5 miles, which was fine and kind of refreshing.  It stopped for the rest of the run until about mile 13 then the rains came. Hard.

Randomly running half marathons is weird...

Randomly running half marathons is weird…

I thought I could stick it out to eke out 14 but I was already soaked enough from the run and ran out of fuel (note to self) so I called it a day at the half marathon point then walked 3/4 of a mile back to the car (that counts, right?)

Saturday Part 2. It’s been 6 weeks since my last massage so yeah, this happened: Spa

Sunday: I’m trying to get better about Yoga and active recovery so headed to my favorite place, Core Power Yoga for Yoga Sculpt. So warm yet so refreshing! 033

031With Labor Day weekend approaching  - otherwise known as the unofficial end of summer – my DC Trifecta gals and I have selected “Fall Preview” as this week’s Friday Five theme!!  Be sure to join us and 45+ more of our friends :)

A lot to look forward to this week as I have 2 personal training sessions (one is a make up from vaca) and a couple runs schedule in advance of Sunday’s Rock n’ Roll Virginia Beach half.  One of those runs is a 5k race Thursday evening with my pals Colleen from Live Free Run and Cynthia at You Signed Up For What?! which should be fun!!

What are you looking forward to this week??  Happy Monday!!

Friday Five: Blogging Conference Love

TGIF party people!  Join me and my girls, Cynthia from You Signed Up For What?! and Courtney at Eat Pray Run, DC this and every week for Friday Five shenanigans.  It’s the best day of the week! ;)  The theme for this week is “what I love about____.” FridayFive

I covered the workouts and the swag and the overall inspiration I gleamed from BlogFest last week so today I’m wrapping it up with a few things I loved and learned about my first blogging conference experience.

1.  Being a part of IDEA Fit Convention and having access to brands, products, and the expo.  Not only did this partnership bring more credibility to the Fitness Blogging conference but we (or at least I) felt fully immersed in the fitness community I blog so much about!  It was nice to be front and center with various vendors and try cool things and sample products… Total Body Board anyone? IdeaExpo

2.  Hearing from Jillian. Yes I know I covered this already but she was that amazing. Her TV persona is so different from what we got.  She was absolutely real and just all around positive.  I say often about blogging to know your why and that is the exact message she gave us, know your why, but also be prepared to work for what you want. “Every failure is an entry point for learning.”

3. The Business of Blogging.  This was one of the presentations on Day 2 and we heard from a lawyer who talked about some of the legal aspects of running a blog as a business, an accountant who walked us through managing finances and from Katy‘s presentation, working with ads to developing a media kit.  I could have listened to her all day as she had a lot of insightful tips to share.  Blogfest2If there was anything missing from this portion of the day it was more specificity as it relates to actual blogging finances, taxes, giveaways, and receiving products. Something for next time hopefully!

4. Putting names to faces!  I follow quite a few of you out there and while I’ve met many of my blogger buddies locally, it was great to meet and greet with people I’ve “seen” and follow online.

Oh hey, it's Nicole from Fitful Focus!

Oh hey, it’s Nicole from Fitful Focus!

I acquired a handful of business cards which I’ll be adding to my BlogLovin this weekend and gained several new Twitter followers. :) Using social media while attending an event like this presents a great opportunity to connect and follow others in real time.  You didn’t do these things a decade ago!

5.  Validating some of my own knowledge. When you sign up for WordPress (or insert platform here) there is no handbook or welcome manual. You sort of learn things along the way, follow other bloggers, hopefully make friends and interact!  I’ve given blogging tips before here and the various presenters we heard from had a lot of similar things to say. It made me feel good to know that we’re all learning the same and we all have something to offer the blogging world in our own way.

P.S. - since we are on the spreading the love track, I need to give a shout out to a few blogging buds.  Kathryn, Nicole and Tiffany have all recently nominated me for a Very Inspired Blogger award. I don’t generally participate in those but appreciate the love! If you really want to know more about me you can read here, here or here :) Or check out my gal Kelsey‘s Two Truths and a Lie post where I’m featured this month!

Who has big weekend plans? 

BlogFest: Inspiring Fitness

If you’ve paid attention to my sidebar you know I am a Sweat Pink Ambassador and an IDEA Inspired Blogger through IDEA Fit, both of whom put together the first ever BlogFest. It seemed only natural for me to attend the Inaugural conference held during the IDEA Fit convention.  idea

As I mulled over just how to cram 2+ days of activities into a recap post or two, I thought about the hashtag us IDEA Inspired Bloggers use: #InspiringFitness.  When I look back on this experience I realized some of the amazing stories I heard truly lived up to these words.

On Day 1 we heard from BlogFest sponsor Lorna Jane whose activewear is awesome and “Move Nourish Believe” philosophy is inspiring women everywhere. They handed out tank tops with motivational sayings (mine said “Get Up and Go”) and it was a great way to kick things off.

Our registration for the conference gave us access to the IDEA Fit Convention and Expo.  At the opening ceremonies we heard from Augie and Lynne Nieto. If you have ever been to a gym and used a Lifestyle Fitness machine, this is the man responsible for them.  AugieAugie was struck with ALS in 2005 and to hear his story of hope, and raising $40 million through “Augie’s Quest”, and getting to walk his daughter down the aisle just brought tears to my and the majority of the crowd’s eyes.  #InspiringFitness

Following this we heard from Diana Nyad, who at age 64 was the first woman to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage.  She spoke of this feat, the numerous tries and the continued hope she had to conquer it. She was a remarkable storyteller, funny (I mean she played the trumpet on stage!) honest, and I’ll say it again – inspiring. DianeNyad

Later in the afternoon there was a panel discussion on how to approach brands and sell yourself.  Participants were Kelly Olexa, founder of FitFluential, Whitney English and Tracey Hollywood.  I won’t recap this point by point but want to highlight the biggest piece of advice I heard from this group, and actually permeated through the presentations of the 2 day conference:  BE YOU, have good content and interact with others. (sound familiar?) ???????????????????????????????

Moving on to Day 2 I was really excited for some of the panel discussions.  But no more so than the keynote from Jillian Michaels, who I’ve been a fan of for years. JillianMichaelsShe won over many in the audience who may not have felt the same way initially. She too was a great speaker, funny, honest and dare I say? Inspiring.  She said many things I will take away but two things hit me personally:

  1. “Work with passion is purpose. Work without passion is punishment.” (let that one simmer)
  2. When questioning why you deserve success she retorted to ask yourself, “Why Not Me?” well, damn Jillian.

After the mornings activities we were given free time to troll the expo (seriously, I could write a whole post on the expo alone but you’d just think I was a rambling fool). ;) This was the opportunity though to meet up with my fellow Team EleVen by Venus ambassadors at EleVen by Venus‘s first expo event!  TeamEleVenBA

There they previewed the Spring/Summer 2015 line (you’re gonna love it folks!) and I got to meet the one and only Carla Birnberg – who is just as amazing in person as she is online: Carla

And the awesome Katy Widrick who had just presented on the business of blogging and is amazing in every sense of the word. If you aren’t following her, you should be – her blogging tips and expertise are not to be missed! Katy

and ALL the clothes!  So as I talk about inspiring, I love being a part of this community!

Mar_11Lastly, I already mentioned Saturday’s workout with Shauna Harrison but before that, she along with the marketing director for UA Women led a “Tweet Break” where they presented a behind the scenes look at the “I Will What I Want” campaign.  I’m sure by now you have seen the Misty Copeland spot and Under Armour is leading the inspiration charge with opportunities for scores of women to tell their stories of WILL. UA

The day closed with a “Lightning Round“, select fitness bloggers (who were voted in) were invited to share personal stories of inspiration and connect with the audience via 20 slides in a 3 minute presentation.  It was a great way to bridge attendees participation into the conference.

There were loads of blogging tips, tricks, advice, thoughts and ideas presented throughout BlogFest. But what resonated with me the most was the backdrop of “inspiration”. It was everywhere, and has me filled with thoughts, ideas and my own feelings for personal growth.   #InspiringFitness 

What inspires you? When was your last professional or personal development opportunity?

Week 6: BlogFest, Workouts and Swag

My week of rest and relaxation is getting smaller and smaller in the rear view window. It was a GREAT week off and I’m slowly getting my mind (and body) back into the swing of reality. BlogFest and the IDEA Fit convention were pretty hopping and I’ll give you more of my thoughts of that in the days to come BUT back to regularly scheduled programming with M-W-F posts.

Marathon training leaves little room to rest on your laurels so I was fairly active last week between following my schedule and BlogFest activities.  Also, when you’re given the amount of swag that we were you wanna “workout with all the things”!! 001

Monday: Following the Arroyo Creek Half I was still feeling pretty good. To start Week 6, I opted for a 3 mile recovery walk/run with my friends 5 month old in tow. He needed a nap and I needed to keep my legs fresh.  I commend all my mommy runner friends because running with a stroller is hard!  sbrun

Tuesday: REST.  This is where 16 miles in 2 days, flying cross country and the time change caught up to me.  I. was. so. exhausted.

Wednesday: Since I kept getting up at 5 am PST, I decided to hit up Core Power in Santa Barbara for Yoga Sculpt first thing. 469It’s amazing what this does for running recovery!  I felt amazing and ready for the next big thing. 468

I left Santa Barbara that afternoon to pick  my friend up from LAX then head to Anaheim for BlogFest. We checked into the hotel and headed to registration where we picked up our aforementioned swag!

Thursday: REST.  This was day 1 of BlogFest. I missed both the early am fun run (sleeping) and yoga class (returning car rental). My plan was to squeeze in a run but I was starting not to feel great (hello, travel) so shut it down for a nap in the afternoon, missing yet another workout with Chalene Johnson who taught PiYo.  As awesome as the BlogFest workout scheduled appeared, my eye is on the marathon prize so I need to listen to my body when it calls – and it called for rest.

But at the morning kickoff we were treated to some fun treats from Lorna Jane and Reebok, sponsors of the event.  Sponsors

This was followed by an unexpected surprise at the evening welcome party from Reebok.  Seriously, was so not expecting new shoes!!!!


Friday: Getting new shoes gave me a bit more motivation to get my run in. Even with a slight headache I managed a quickie 3 mile run in the hotel’s fitness center.

Saturday: It is not everyday you get to meet and interact with people you truly respect and admire.  Shauna Harrison is one of those people for me.  She is a PhD, yogini, hip hop enthusiast (!!!! the old school good kind !!!), trainer/athlete for Under Armour and overall badass!  If you don’t follow her on Instagram (you should!) she is the creator of the Sweat a Day challenges. 562

When I found out she’d be leading a workout I was NOT going to miss this!  I was still nursing a slight headache and only had a few hours until I needed to leave for home, but her workout did not disappoint.  Medicine balls, ropes, step climbs, lunges, burpees, and yoga at the end… this strength and conditioning workout had it all. All BlogFest attendees also received an Under Armour 39 Heart Rate Monitor which we tested during class. I almost turned the snooze off the alarm at 5:40 am but so glad I didn’t. 568

Sunday: Um, long run the day after returning from a cross country flight? Luckily this was considered a recovery week so only 10 miles on tap. I woke up again with this lingering headache, (ugh!) so relaxed a bit and decided to split my long run up.  I hit Rock Creek Park in the morning for an easy 6 miles and wore my new Reebok One’s! I have to say, I’ve been looking for “the shoe” since recovering from my foot injury and I really, really like these. Hmmm… 587

Run #2 was going to be a 4 miler on the treadmill. Unfortunately, even after Advil and rest, my headache wouldn’t go away so I counted myself lucky I was able to squeeze in 6. Tomorrow starts the week anew!!

I was able to rest the rest of Sunday and get rid of this headache (finally!) so refreshed to start the week.  Look for my BlogFest recap on Wednesday and congrats to Julie R. who won my Eleven by Venus visor giveaway!!

Who ran or raced this weekend or engaged in other fun fitness activities? Catch me up! :)  Happy Monday!

Friday Five: I Heart Vacation!

This will be a short and sweet Friday Fiver as I am still enjoying my time in California.  But oh what a time it has been.  I knew I needed a vacation but didn’t realize just how much until I landed ;) For today’s Friday Five with my gals, Courtney and Cynthia we went “Free Friday”.  I’m immersed in BlogFest right now and you’ll get a full recap of that next week but for now I’m sharing a few highlights of my week!

ONE:  Flying over the mountains as we descended into LA was glorious… after a long flight I immediately went in to relaxation mode:  mountain

TWO:  My Happy Place… PacificOcean

THREE:  Mmmm… the food and drink.  I’m *trying* to be good in that department but when you’re with great friends and checking out new places, the struggle is real.  But yay for Grilled Chicken Greek Salad and a Hollister Brewing Company Hefeweisen special brew. Hollister

FOUR:  So excited for IDEA Fit annual convention and BlogFest. I’ve already acquired so much swag I may have to ship myself home in the mail ;) IDEAFit

FIVE:  I’ll talk more about all of this in my recaps next week but Diane Nyad was the keynote at the IDEA Fit opening ceremony and she is amazing y’all.  Simply amazing… DianeNyad

Hope you all have an awesome weekend!! TGIF!

Week 5: Arroyo Creek Half Marathon Recap

Clearly, it’s not just another day in the neighborhood ;) . This post is coming at you from sunny Cali-forn-i-a where Week 5 of marathon training concluded.  When outlining my summer schedule I selected a variety of races to insert into my long run plan.  Since I was planning on being here anywaaaay… enter the Arroyo Creek Half in Simi Valley!  arroyo-creek

But first, a quick run down of the rest of the week:  {Monday}: 30 minutes stationary bike and weight training. {Tuesday}: 5 mile run in 46:36. Hot in DC so hopped on the treadmill but kept a 8:30 minute mile pace after a 2 minute warm up walk, awesomeness. {Wednesday}: Personal training w/Jake (who just got a promotion at Roam Fitness DC – woohoo!)  {Thursday}: 3 mile run. {Friday/Saturday}: REST

{Sunday}:  Arroyo Creek Half Marathon in Simi Valley, CA.

I flew in to California mid-morning Saturday and after rental car pickup and lunch I headed straight to my hotel in Simi Valley which was a mere 2 miles from the race start.  They did have a packet pick up but it was only open until 2 pm and I didn’t want to rush to get there.  I opted for morning of pickup and here’s the good thing about racing 3 time zones behind – it takes your mind a few days to catch up.  So I was in bed by 8 pm and up at 5 am and felt AMAZING because my body was like, it’s only 8 o’clock, let’s go for a run – what what! ArroyoHalf

I left my hotel at 6:20 to a chill in the air and hazy skies (remember that).  I got there pretty quickly, found a spot on the street and was checked in within 15 minutes. That left me plenty of time to attach my bib, timing chip on my shoe and deposit my swag bag back at the car.  At that point I opted to leave my sunglasses in the car because of the haze.  Back at the start, the race announcer and all the volunteers were suuuuuper friendly!  Everything started on time and just overall ran smoothly.

They employed wave starts every 2 minutes and you self selected in either 10, 9, 8 or 7 minute mile waves, which was nice. Wave start I lined up in the 9 minute mile wave between the 2:00 and 2:15 pacers.  It was a fairly small race, only 800 people total for the half, 10k and 5k.  After a mere 4 minutes, my wave was off!  The course ran along the Arroyo Creek bike path, a mostly paved road save for the first half mile which was a downhill slope that was rocky and mixed with dirt.

The rest of the course was relatively flat with what I call inclining rolling hills as we crossed over police manned main streets to get to the other side of the bike path.  The first 3 miles I was just trying to find my groove. At this point too the haze quickly left and the sun filled the sky and I was mentally kicking myself for leaving the sunglasses in the car. I ran into the sun until Mile 5 where the first turnaround occurred.

Miles 5-10 were magical miles. There was shade and no sun beating down my face so I made the most of those miles.  I was in a complete zone and almost never stopped. Looking at my Garmin at Mile 8 I was at 1:15 and on pace for a 2:05 finish. My entire goal for this run was really not to race but to test my fitness level and get my miles in for the week.  My last couple of long runs have been a bit brutal and I was coming off a terrible 1:50 and humid 10-miler.

Another turnaround occurred between Mile 10-11.  So… Miles 11 and 12 were done facing the sun again.  At this stage of the race the last thing I needed was sun and heat!! My pace slowed and I walked a few times.  At Mile 12.5 we crossed a bridge and went back towards the finish, away from the sun.  I used that opportunity to pick up the pace a bit and soon crossed the finish line at 2:08:15 – HUZZAH!! finish My time was good for 16 out of 199 in my age group (and 61 out of 200 women overall)  They didn’t organize the results by total number so not sure where I fell with the men added.

SPLITS:  {Mile 1}9:32 {Mile 2} 9:39 {Mile 3} 9:43 {Mile 4}9:53 {Mile 5} 9:22 {Mile 6}9:35 {Mile 7} 9:30 {Mile 8} 9:42 {Mile 9} 9:41 {Mile 10} 9:52 {Mile 11} 10:14 {Mile 12} 10:51 {Mile 13} 10:30 0.1 =0.11 *clearly the sun affected the last 2 miles!! That was my 3 minutes right there!

Immediately after crossing a finish line volunteer asked for the timing chip on my shoe but upon seeing my exhausted face said “here, I’ll get it” and actually untied my shoe to get the chip and tied it up again :) Then, I was handed my adorable Arroyo Creek Half Marathon medal – seriously, how cute is this frog?!  ArroyoMedal

This race was great! Again, the organizers and volunteers were so cheerful and it was family friendly with a 4 hour course time limit so everyone, including walkers, could enjoy.  I’m glad it fit into my schedule!  I gulped down some Gatorade, water and a banana then took off. I wanted to get changed for the next leg of my California vacay, seeing friends in Santa Barbara!

Total miles for the week = 21.1.  I’m looking forward to a couple more marathon training runs in the California sun, beach time, seeing some good friends, my BFF and of course, BlogFest!!

Friday Five: Favorite Race Memories

Favorite Race Memories.  What a fitting topic on the eve of my trip to California where on Sunday I will run my 17th half marathon.  Wait, what? Yes, 17th half marathon (I needed to say it twice, didn’t believe myself the first time). DC_linkup

A lot has happened in my running and racing career in just a few short years.  While I have a special place in my heart for ALL the races I’ve done – good and bad – this is Friday Five with my buds Cynthia and Courtney so alas, I had to pick and choose :) .

1). We’ll start with my first race EVER – the 30th anniversary Hyannis 10K in February 2010. I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea I’d get a medal. I had no idea it would be so taxing but fun.  And I had no idea this event would singlehandedly change the rest of my life. True story. Hyannis

2). Next up is my comeback race. After #1 above a myriad of health issues arose that slowed the running high I was on.  Following surgeries in late 2010 and early 2011 I was desperate to hit the pavement again.  When I was finally medically cleared I signed up for the Semper Fi 5K in July 2011.  I trained hard.  I also suffered a minor ankle sprain (probably from going out the gate too fast).  I went to this race by myself, ankle wrapped and just did it. There were so many emotions that day and I cried at the finish line.  Having made it through a near cancer scare, the ankle thing, the surgeries and if all that wasn’t enough discovering I ran a sub 30 minute 5k for the first. time. ever.  SemperFi

3). Who can forget your first new distance race?  Immediately after the Semper Fi 5K my trainer basically said – ok, on to a half marathon! I was actually scared. I had never gone more than 6 miles at a time and just didn’t think I had it in me (LOL at myself now!)  I picked a 12 week  training plan and between those runs and my personal training finished the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half in October 2011. (209.6 half mary miles later…) wwbh

4.) “Hometown” PR’s for everyone!  In early May 2013 I was comped an entry into Pittsburgh (for volunteering). If that hadn’t happened I may not have entered that year. I was in the best shape of my life and owned those rolling hills of da ‘Burgh to a PR of 2:03. I was elated, having crushed my prior PR in Baltimore by 7 minutes (take that Ravens nation!)  This set the stage for wanting a sub-2 hour half.  PGHHALF

5.) Boston Strong: “Hometown” PR #2.  Three weeks after my Pittsburgh PR I traveled to Boston for the Run to Remember alongside my bestie’s hubby. You all know I lived in Boston most of my adult life so consider it home second to Pittsburgh. It was the first big race in the city after the marathon bombings so emotions were high all around. I had a medical emergency the year prior so ended up dropping out the night before.  I was determined to run this – both for me and “Boston Strong” – and finished with a time of 2:06 my second best half marathon time to date.  I even unknowingly paced a fellow racer!  My hometowns.  So special.  RuntoRemember

Honorable Mention:  The time I met Mickey.  mickey2a

See? I couldn’t just stop at 5! I have a love/hate relationship with Disney.  I know there are uber fans and blogs dedicated to all things runDisney, but after experiencing this once, then managing the logistics of cancelling 2 other events there, and the expense and saturation of medals and challenges, I am no longer enamored by it. The 2013 Disney Princess Half though was my first runDisney experience and true racecation; and aside from the 3 am wake up call I loved every second of it.  The “happiest place on earth” lived up to the name well after the race was over. There are so many other places I want to see but I will always have this FUN and fond memory!!

Love the nostalgia today!!  For my runners, what’s your favorite race memory?  Also, don’t forget to enter my EleVen by Venus Visor giveaway – open through Tuesday night!!

To Be an EleVen (+ Giveaway!)

When the opportunity presented itself to become an Inaugural Brand Ambassador for Venus Williams fitness apparel line, EleVen by Venus, I jumped at the chance.  She’s such a positive role model, fierce competitor and has always had great style.  After checking out the line and reading more about EleVen there was no way I could refuse this opportunity.  In Venus’ words being an EleVen is not about a number, rather it’s a lifestyle – it’s about challenging your status quo, embracing positive change, and pushing beyond whatever is holding you back from living your ideal life.”  ElevenMissionNow that is a mission I can get behind!!  And EleVen by Venus is not just for tennis – though there is specific tennis apparel.  The clothing line is made with all athletes and fitness activities in mind.  Since signing on I have significantly enhanced my wardrobe (cough) with EleVen apparel – which is MADE IN THE USA!!! Below are a few of my favorite pieces:

Over Ruled TankEleVenByVenus Over Ruled Tank and Flutter Skort 12″OverRuled
 Power Shorts and Oh and Oh Love TankPower shorts  Flutter Skort 12″, left and 14″, rightFlutterSkort
 Oh and Oh Love Tank and Power CaprisOhOhlove  Rally Tank – Herringbone CollectionRallyTank 


Core Jacket in PeachElevenJacket

  •  The Over-Ruled Tank is my absolute favorite.  It provides full coverage and comes in a handful of colors Black, Freesia (yellow), Freesia Stripe and White – with contrast piping. I’m 4’11″ with a short torso and since my last abdominal surgery left me with permanent numbness in that area, I have difficulty finding shirts that aren’t uber tight and fit comfortably.  Not having tried this on before I sized up and went with a medium to accommodate the chest and torso problem and it’s a nice fit.
  • Flutter Skort.  Seriously, can we talk about this skort?!  The Flutter Skort has become one of the most popular EleVen pieces and now I know why. It’s flirty and sporty and downright comfortable.  It comes in 2 lengths – 12″ which hits mid thigh (for me) and 14″ that sits above the knee for those looking for more coverage.  There are attached spandex shorts underneath.  These come in  a huge variety of colors so pick your favorite (or 2 or 3!)
  • Power ShortsI’m not a shorts wearer in general because the trunk of my legs are larger than other parts (read: muscle). I have them as shown in a size medium in Navy and typically wear these for cycling and short runs/walks (or just lounging around the house).  I like the wide waistband and how well they fit to work around my powerful thighs (wink).
  • Oh and Oh Love Tank.  This is a sale item and I’m almost ashamed to say I own 3 of these (pfft, not really): White/Black, Peach (shown above) and Aqua.  I often don’t even wear this to workout – it’s a nice material that paired with a skirt or linen pants is good for going out, though I do practice Yoga in it.  The white one I purchased in a small but sized up to a medium for the brighter colored ones.  These are paired with the Power Capris in black (size small).
  • I just picked up the Rally Tank in Blue Cerulean (the color of the sky!) a part of her new Herringbone collection. It’s a racer back with a scoop neck and honeycomb mesh look inset in the center. And yeah, I just bought it in another color.
  • Core Jacket (shown in peach)  Ok, DC has been extremely hot so I haven’t gotten much use out of this jacket yet, but the color is amazing! I purchased in a size small and it’s fairly fitted but it’s a nice weight and super comfortable.

A couple weeks ago the Team EleVen by Venus ambassadors were invited to a conference call with her designer to preview the Fall 2014 and Spring/Summer 2015 collections. I was excited about this chance to get an insider look and offer feedback.  To our surprise Venus joined the call!! It was pretty surreal.  We looked at the Herringbone collection before it came out and she’s been sporting in recent matches.

I’m generally a fan of basic colors with little design but am trying to change that.  We also got a sneak peek at what’s to come next Spring/Summer and lets just say I hope you like RED, PURPLE, and BRIGHT colors in geometric shapes!  I need to save my pennies!  photo11All my EleVen by Venus gear has made heavy rotation into my workouts.  So, as an ambassador I am extending my discount code to you!!  For 10% off your full price order at use:


Lastly, Eleven by Venus has graciously offered this EleVen visor as a giveaway to one of my readers. This visor is a staple accessory for Venus on the court! It’s mesh fabric with a velcro closure and silver embroidered EleVen by Venus Logo. Enter through Rafflecopter below!  Giveaway ends Tuesday, August 12 at 11:59 pm.

EleVenVisora Rafflecopter giveaway

As a member of Team EleVen I have made some FABULOUS connections within the team, and they all  – including Venus herself -  have been downright supportive.  In just a few short months, I can say this has been one of the more positive experiences I’ve ever encountered – and because of it even got to meet Venus last month!  I’m looking forward at what’s to come and hope you’ll check it out too!!  Annnnnd if you are heading to BlogFest next week, stop by Booth 412!!!  LOOK GOOD, PLAY WELL.