Tuesday, November 24, 2015

TOTR: Runner's Wish List

Today I am linking up with the lovely ladies behind Tuesdays on the Run: MCM Mama Runs, Marcia's Healthy Slice, and My No-Guilt Life! And the topic is definitely timely!

And, yes, my snowman is wearing a tiara...
I'm going to stick to a runner's wish list even though we could talk just basic wish lists all day long...even my kids were recently commenting that Mom's wish list is the longest one out of everyone in the family! Hey...Mom's just smart enough to know that if I don't tell them exactly what I want they will go all rogue and just start buying random stuff. I've learned my lesson. LOL So without further ado...

Redfox Wireless EDGE Bluetooth Headphones
They come in a selection of colors so you can coordinate with your fave running outfit! 
I was lucky enough to win a pair of these from Another Mother Runner and I absolutely LOVE them! They are super comfortable and I forget I'm even wearing them. I've even gone so far as to walk out of the room with them still on because I totally forgot they were there! The sound quality is excellent and they are certified IPX4 Water and Sweat Resistant. I have an iPhone 5c and a Dell Windows Tablet that I link to and have never had any problem with connecting. Works flawlessly every time and the battery life is superb. They were also a Runner's World Best Headphones selection, so they agree with me. Bonus - they are on sale now for only $65.99 (regularly $99.99). You can't get a better wireless headphone for that price (even at FULL price you can't get a better wireless headphone).

Island Boost Energy Shots

My running coach recommended I give Island Boost a try and I'm so glad she did because this stuff is amazing!! I still love GU in some situations - especially because I can find it just about anywhere, but what makes Island Boost different is that it is SPEEDY in that it hits your system and provides energy within 5 minutes of taking it. Unlike other energy gels that you need to consume about 15-20 minutes before needing, Island Boost is 5 minutes from consumption to delivery. And it is specifically formulated to not cause stomach distress. Another thing I really like about it is that it isn't a gel, it's a liquid. Many times with gels I have to slowly take them or it makes me gag on the consistency of it. I don't have that problem with Island Boost. I can drink it on the run and get fast energy without any stomach distress! Island Boost is on sale right now and the 30 pack at $42.00 is on my wish list.

Believe Journal

I got my first Believe Training Journal last year and I've enjoyed it so much all year long!! It's been great to see my progress (or lack of...) all in one place and the insight from pro runners Lauren Fleshman and Ro McGettigan-Dumas has been fabulous. It's $18.95 at Velo Press, but you can find it at many other retailers as well such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon. They also have additional colors this year - bonus!

Smartwool PhD Running Socks
I have two pairs of Smartwool socks along with a variety of other brands. I also love Feetures, Balega, and my Skirt Sports socks, but I'm going to put the Smartwool socks on this list because wool is fabulous whether you live in cold or warm climates - it will control the temperature beautifully no matter what! They also have knee-high socks and I'm definitely putting a pair on my wish list since I can't wear compression, but knee-high are just fine and will allow me some extra warmth on chilly days!

Marathon Woman by Kathrine Switzer

I've talked before about my admiration and respect for Kathrine Switzer so I won't go into it again here, but if you want some inspiration, just put this book on your wish list! She's amazing and has just launched a global 261 Fearless Movement with run clubs for women sprouting up around the world with more to come as the training for leaders continues to roll out. She's currently writing a follow-up book, so read this one now so you can be ready when the next one comes out.

Nuun Hydration Tabs

With a variety of types and flavors there's something for everyone! And as they say themselves on the website, hydration is extremely important - during exercise a mere 2% loss in body weight can lead to a decrease in performance. nuun active hydration contains a superior blend of electrolytes without added sugars; it has a light-refreshing taste that promotes the consumption of water. So it is delicious, doesn't contain added sugar, and provides optimal electrolyte replacement. I absolutely love that Nuun doesn't have an overly sweet flavor a la Gatorade or Powerade drinks. One tab flavors 16 oz. and each tube has 12 tabs for approximately $7.00. You can also find these at local retailers such as Sprouts or other sporting goods stores in addition to online through nuun.com or amazon.com.

Skirt Sports Redemption Capris
An entire Ragnar team wore them! Can you spot MCM Mama Runs?!? :-)
I honestly want pretty much anything and everything from Skirt Sports, but I'm limiting my wish list to the Redemption Capris because they are AH-MAZZZZ-ING!!! I have them in the Safari print and was wearing them the other day and my husband couldn't stop saying how nice my butt looked. Sorry if that's TMI, but these capris have a magic butt capability built into them. LOL Okay, you know that isn't real, but they are obviously made BY women FOR women because they fit perfectly. They are also the perfect weight and material for running, cross-training, cycling, canoeing, paddling, whatever. Don't forget you can use my Ambassador Code for a 20% discount: SSPQL20.

You'll note that I kept my wish list pretty affordable this year because even though running can get quite expensive, it doesn't always have to be top dollar items in order to make the runner in your life a happy camper...er, runner. LOL

Question: What is on YOUR wish list this year?

Keep pursuing quality, friends!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Hometown Heroes Honor Run Race Recap

This was my third year participating in the Hometown Heroes Honor Run (HHHR) in Riverside, California on October 3rd. And it also happens to be the third year of its existence! :-) So I'm a legacy runner so far...

I actually really enjoy this race and it has quickly become one of my favorites that I look forward to each year. It's the perfect time of year, the venue is fabulous, and it benefits a fantastic cause in the Riverside Police Officers' Association. My previous two race recaps are here and here.

Registration is super easy and I would say the cost is very reasonable for everything you get in this race. I think it was about $40. They also offered same-day registration although you aren't guaranteed your preferred size of or a goody bag; but if they have extras, you get them. My friend Sally signed up day of and was able to get the shirt she wanted and a goody bag so that was awesome.

It was hard to get us all in the picture with my t-rex arms, but we have L-R: Brian, Heather (my sis), Me, Sally.

Expo and Venue
They have quite a few booths set up ranging from local sellers to other races promoting their own events so there's always something to look at while you wait. This year they set up on the concrete instead of out in the grass, so that made for a nicer experience. They also have a few food trucks and the Boy Scouts were back again this year providing a free pancake breakfast post-race. This race takes place at a Sports Park so there's lots of free parking (including a school across the street) and a playground for kids to hang out at with their guardian while they are waiting for Mom & Dad or whoever to finish their race. In the past my nieces and nephew have had a great time hanging out at the park with their Dad while my sister raced. Bored kids are a nightmare, so having the park and plenty of space to run around is a real benefit to the venue. If this event continues to grow it might outgrow this location, but so far it fits perfectly. Oh- and they have at least a few real bathrooms in addition to the port-a-johns! BONUS!!!

This race has some pretty decent swag. You get a goody bag that consists of one of those basic totes with the drawstrings that you can wear as a backpack (I'm sure there's an actual name for those things, but it escapes me), a technical shirt, and lots of little freebies like Biofreeze, Corn Thins, and more. As far as race swag goes, this one is usually pretty decent.

The 5k course (I haven't done the 10k so I can't really speak to it at all, but my friend Jennifer did this year and her main comment was HILLS...hahaha) is mostly flat - now, it isn't ALL flat - there are some hills but they are manageable hills) and is a perfect rectangle. The rectangle shape is awesome because after you've done the first long stretch, you have a short one and then you have a basic idea of what to expect on the final long stretch. And with all left turns it just feels...right. I don't know how else to describe it. Now, I'm going to admit that I have a bad case of Racenesia* and I find myself thinking a course was awesome and flat and then the next year I run it and there's all these hills and I'm like "wait - I thought this course was FLAT - what happened?!?" This is a real thing, people, trust me! 

*Racenesia: noun. The act of forgetting how difficult or challenging a race is after the race is over. May result in telling people that a course is flat or easy when it is, in fact, very far from flat or easy. 

But just to show you that in this case I'm not suffering from Racenesia, here's the course elevation profile from my Garmin Connect activity:

See, that's pretty flat, right??
I don't have any on-course pictures as the only photos were from the finish line and after I already crossed the line. They are straight-up horrible pictures and I would definitely recommend that they find a better location next year a little bit before the finish or at the very least use multiple photographers so they can have one along the course too. But I always hate on-course photos anyways as I am definitely NOT photogenic while running. I have hated almost every single race picture I have ever seen of me. LOL

Okay, guys, this medal is AMAZING!!! They really have improved upon it every single year and this year it was colored pink for Breast Cancer Awareness and was a spinner. And for being a 5k race, the medal is HUGE. Check it out...

I had the silly thing backwards for this post-race selfie...oops. LOL

Seriously, one of the best medals and by far one of the best for a 5k race that is very reasonably priced.

My Race
I went into this race with the plan to run it easy and attempt to run the entire thing from beginning to end without stopping. And I totally met my goal!!! I ran the entire time, even on the last hill that has gotten me every single year so far. I didn't get a PR on this one. My standing 5k PR is actually from this race last year and was an even 32:00. This year I finished in 32:25 so 25 seconds slower than my PR; however, I felt like I ran a much better race this year because I met my goals: find a pace I could maintain the entire time and then hold it for the 3.1 miles. Done and done! I did really feel it at the end and I had nothing left to give as I crossed that finish line. It's funny because last year I walked on the final hill and was able to use a strong finish kick across the line; this year, I ran the little hill but didn't have anything extra in the way of a finish kick. But the main thing for me was sticking to my plan and I did that.

Post-Race Party
I never really stick around a whole lot after the race is over as I'm anxious to get home and start the rest of my day and this time really wasn't any different. I grabbed some water, found Sally who finished a little ahead of me, and then waited for my sister to come in. Once we collected her, we grabbed some pancakes from the boy scouts and scooted on out of there. They do have a post-race awards ceremony and probably some music too, but I couldn't say how it was since I didn't hang around. :-)

Final Thoughts
This is still one of my favorite races and I'll definitely keep coming back for more. It's at the perfect time of year and usually serves as my kick-off to the fall racing season. It's a great race and the organizers work hard to create an excellent event. I highly recommend it if you're in the area!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

It's a Battle...a Fight to the Death!

You can't be involved in working out or fitness or health...wait, let me revise where I'm headed with this. You can't be ALIVE and not see all the time about the importance of mental toughness. You know, it starts early with trite sayings like "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." or "Life is tough, but you're tougher." They are endless!! And there's a reason for that.

The reason is because having the ability to be mentally tough is so important!! Seriously, there's much in life you simply can't do without it. And the thing is that you might be super mentally tough in one arena of life, but be super mentally weak in another one. For example, when it comes to being a Mom, I've always prided myself on being able to hold it together even through the super stressful things like injuries or illnesses. Where one parent might pass out at the sight of blood, I can stand stoic and calm. But where I struggle constantly? Mental toughness in my diet and exercise.

I know what I want and I'm willing to fight for it...right up until it gets hard. And then the hamster wheel of doubt starts to kick in, or the wheel of excuses starts spinning, and my brain all of a sudden starts believing what it is being told. That I'm "too tired and need a break" or that "one piece of candy won't kill me" or "I've been sick, I need to take it easy" or "what's the difference, you're never going to hit your PR goal anyways...it's already lost". Honestly, the list of doubts and excuses could go on for days because they are always changing, and yet always staying the same.

When most athletes are asked what their key to success is, it almost always comes down to mental toughness. The ability to push through the wall and keep going. Kara Goucher has bravely shared that she struggles with this same issue - the mental game. Some athletes are able to run for hours through a desert, while others crumble under much lesser circumstances. It would almost seem like mental toughness, especially when it comes to exercise performance, is something that you're either born with or you aren't. Maybe you're born with it, maybe it's Maybelline? If only there was a mascara you could apply that gives you the ability to increase mental toughness by 25%! The star athletes have it - that combination of natural talent and mental toughness to push through. You can't be a star athlete without some combination of both of those things.

But I'm not a star athlete and am not trying to be one. I am just an average person that has dreams and desires - things that are going to take FIGHTING FOR to achieve them and yet I stumble when it comes to the mental aspect. I succumb to the fatigue in my head that tells me that my legs are giving out. I succumb to the fatigue in my brain that says that I deserve to eat something I want. I succumb to the things that take me further away from goal instead of closer to it. Now, not all the time mind you...but enough of the time that it affects my journey towards my goals. Do I not want it enough? Is that my stumbling block???

There's a gazillion and one articles about how to strengthen your mental toughness...just Google it and you'll see for yourself. Be confident! Use a mantra! Visualize success! Practice it in Training!

But I'm honestly asking...what do you do when you use those tools and they still fail you? What's the trick here because I'm at a loss for how to keep pushing when my entire body says just fuhgeddaboutit. I'm at a loss for how to stop myself from thinking constantly about the candy in the jar or glancing at it every single time I walk by it.

I will say that for me it's a battle that sometimes is easy to fight, and sometimes is close to impossible. Sometimes I can spend hours of standing firm, and others it's a second by second battle. Am I a little overly dramatic when I say it's a fight to the death? Perhaps...but it's definitely a battle I will be fighting UNTIL death because I'm not willing to give up. I'll keep fighting this fight. There's things I want and I may not always know how to be strong enough to get them, but I'll keep trying to figure it out. Any help towards that end that you can offer is always appreciated!!

Seek a quality life, friends! Talk to you again soon...

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Walking Dead...

That's pretty much what they should have put on the front of my house a few weeks back because we've been like the Walking Dead around there dealing with a massive upper respiratory sickness that settled over the entire family like a plague! Over dramatic? Yeah, maybe just a little...but I don't know - we're still not all the way out of the clear yet! Ha ha...

It all started a few weeks back with my granddaughter and son getting sick. Then it spread to grandson, then to me, then to my husband and daughter, and now to my other daughter and the just barely even 1-month old little guy!! :-( It's so heartbreaking to see him sniffling and coughing and you know he just doesn't even understand why he feels so miserable. On top of it all, poor Melissa gets to find out way too quickly how hard it is to handle a baby when all you want to do is lay in a heap of Kleenex and sleep but still have a little guy that wants to eat and poop and stuff.

I, on the other hand, am finally starting to feel like I'm just about back to normal. I started feeling sick on November 6th!! And it is now the 17th...do the math and that is 11 days of feeling like crud. It has not been fun let me tell ya...and the bad news? The son and granddaughter that started this whole thing - they are sick again!! And not just kind of sick - full blown sick. And that's what everyone that has been sick with this thing has said - it comes back. Dunh, Dunh, Dunnnnnnhhhhhhhh

I'm sure they aren't talking about the same thing I'm talking about...but whatever. It works. LOL
So we've been dealing with the plague, but there is hope that we will come out of it eventually. I know all two of you that read these things are dying to know about my back-to-back 10k's right? Well, the first one didn't happen and it was heartbreaking to have to skip out on it, but it was the right call (one made by my husband because I was stubborn enough to go run it half dead anyways). And this past weekend's 10k did happen, and I had a great time, but the PR dream was crushed thanks to many days of workouts missed and the lingering fatigue and cough from this whole thing. I'll do a full race report on the one I did back in October and this one very soon. I promise...Just know that it was an awesome course and well-run event and I would love to go back to it again next year and hopefully be at 100% health because it is a PR-Dream Course for sure!!

So to wrap things up I have a little gift for you in a discount code for Skirt Sports!

That's right - 40% off of EVERYTHING on the site including sale items!! This is HUGE so don't miss out on this! Let me just say that my favorite items lately are the Redemption Capris in any of the prints and the Happy Girl Skirt. This is a great opportunity to get a jump on holiday shopping or to just pick up a few things you're going to need once all those New Year's Resolutions come rolling around. :-)

Stay in the pursuit of quality, friends! Talk to ya again soon...

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Life Lately...

Good morning! First, let me just say Happy November!!! I seriously can't believe that we are already getting close to wrapping up 2015. It's been a whirlwind of a year that's for sure...but we're still not done yet!!

November is actually probably my favorite month of the year...the holiday season is officially in the swing of things and my favorite holidays are right around the corner! It doesn't hurt that there's lots of holidays from work on the schedule either! hahaha Many times I'm more excited for the time off than I am for the actual holiday. Kind of sad, but I'm just being honest here. LOL

I have a few races coming up too - this weekend is the Mission Inn 10k. I've done it the past three years as part of the Run Riverside Challenge and as challenging as it is, I do find myself looking forward to it each year. You can read the previous race recap here, and if you want to learn how I did the opposite of preparing for this race last year you can read that here. News Flash: I didn't beat my previous PR at last year's race and felt like I barely survived it really. I don't remember having fun that's for sure. LOL

From the race website - click picture to go to site.

But I will say that I'm going into this year's race feeling much more prepared for it! So there's that...the coaching has been very beneficial and that kick in the gut that I got at the completion of October's training cycle has proven to be very motivating. That and the fact that I really want a PR at the next race on the schedule...more on that in just a moment.

My plan for this weekend is to treat the race like a training run. It's a very hilly course so I'm going to do my best to control my running on the hills and focus on my form and hydration/fueling throughout. Because the following weekend is the Surfer's Point 10k in Ventura and that one is going to be my PR push!!

This is the first time I will be doing races on back-to-back weekends, but I do feel prepared for it especially since I'm using the first race as a training run for the second one that will be the push. My biggest goal for this weekend is to focus on how I feel at each mile and visualizing running faster and stronger the next weekend. Oh, and it doesn't hurt that the Surfer's Point 10k will be mostly flat...something I can't say ANY of my other 10k races have been! I'm looking forward to a flat race, finally. LOL

The rest of life lately consists of spending time with the family and just soaking in all that life has to offer. Oh, and work...can't forget the thing that pays the bills. LOL

It really is, friends...it really is!! Now get out there and have an awesome weekend and go crunch some leaves under your feet while you're at it!!

Stay in pursuit of a quality life,

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Hemp Hearts Product Review and GIVEAWAY!!

I was provided an opportunity to try Manitoba Harvest's Hemp Hearts as a Sweat Pink Ambassador through FitApproach. All opinions are my own and are my honest thoughts on this product.

Visit Manitoba Harvest's Website for more details!
I will be honest, I had absolutely NO idea what Hemp Hearts were before I tried them. I know that I've heard a lot of talk about how healthy Hemp is and I know a lot of people that have been snacking on various Hemp snacks. So as soon as my Hemp Hearts package arrived, I wanted to know more about what the benefits were and how I could use these mighty little seeds, so my first stop was manitobaharvest.com where all my questions were answered!

So, why Hemp Hearts? Here are the top 10 reasons from Manitoba Harvest to give them a try:

That's just 10 of the reasons to try them but I'm sure there are a lot more. So why did I want to give them a try after reading all about them?

My # 1 reason is the Omegas and the Protein! I also love all the other things about them like the magnesium, that they are easy to use, vegetarian, etc., but for me, I'm always looking for ways to get a little boost in my food without adding a ton of extra stuff. So with Hemp Hearts I can sprinkle some on my oatmeal in the morning, throw some in a salad, mix it into a protein smoothie, sprinkle a little on a PB&J...you name it, I can do it because they really do TASTE GREAT and are very complementary to everything I added them to! So what do they taste like? They have a slightly nutty flavor  and are a soft, chewy texture. They don't taste all that different from other nuts or seeds, but pack that mighty punch of Omegas, Protein, Magnesium and more! So they are good for you and taste great. A winning combo for sure!

And guess what? You can eat them straight out of the bag too - you don't have to add them to anything!! But just in case you want to get creative, Manitoba Harvest has a bajillion recipes on their website using Hemp Hearts and other Hemp products - you can check those all out here.

Pumpkin Hemp Pancakes? Yes, PLEASE!!!

Alright, I know you can't wait to try them for yourself now, right? But I also know you might have some questions about Hemp and its relation to marijuana. No worries, here's what Manitoba Harvest says about it: Hemp contains 0.001% Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and will NOT cause a psychoactive effect nor will our products cause a false positive drug test. Largely thanks to Manitoba Harvest co-founders’ advocacy efforts, hemp was demystified and Industrial Hemp was legalized in Canada in 1998. From there an industry was (re)born! For more on hemp history click here.

But if you want even more information about it, you can visit their very informative FAQ page as well! If you can't wait to try them, you can also get 20% off of anything in the store at www.manitobaharvest.com with the discount code HHSP1015

So now I know you REALLY can't wait to give these a try. And guess what, you have a chance to win a 2 ounce bag of your very own Hemp Hearts!! There's a lot of giveaways going on right now for this product, so if you have already won on another blog, please leave this opportunity for someone else that hasn't had a chance to win yet. Pretty please, and thank you!!!

It's super easy to enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. The contest will run from today, November 3 through November 12 at midnight. Good luck! Winner will be contacted by email and will have 72 hours to claim their prize before another winner is selected.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good Luck!!!!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

FOCUS Grasshopper...

Ya'll know that I've been working with a running coach for a little bit now - Coach Tiffany with Thoroughly Thriving. And I absolutely LOVE it!! Having the guesswork taken out of the equation is so nice. And I really do feel like I push myself at least a little harder because I want to make my effort worthwhile. BUT at the same time, I know that I still slack off way more than I should. Sometimes there might be totally legitimate reasons for it, but really, 90% of the time that I slack is just because I'm losing the battle of the lazy brain. I know that. But you know how when you see some cold, hard facts it brings it all into FOCUS just a little more???

This morning I looked at my new week training report and this is what I see: Looking at October so far you've skipped about 28% of your workouts and modified 15%.

Just a bit of a gut kick on that one. I shouldn't be surprised that the hilly half marathon last weekend was so tough and I shouldn't be surprised that I felt like I had been hit by a Mack truck for most of this week. Not when I look at the fact that I've totally and completely SKIPPED 28% of my assigned workouts. More than a quarter. And of the 72% that I have done, I've modified 15% of those.

So in other words, I've nailed 57% of my workouts during the month of October. Sure, sure - that's a little more than HALF that I've done. And that's not necessarily bad...BUUUUUUTTTTT, if this was a test, only a little more than half is definitely failing.

Why, thank you Dwayne - there are not truer words you could speak to me! And thank you for that dazzling smile while you're at it. ;-) haha

What it all boils down to is this. If I want to run a personal best at my goal race in January 2016, then I'd better focus and I'd better put in the effort. I can get to that finish line feeling like I got thrown down by The Rock in an epic wrestling match, or I can get to that finish line feeling like I just ran a hard race but that I just ran a race that I was totally prepared to run. And whether I meet my time goal or not - the real goal is just that - I want to KNOW that I put in the effort during training and that I really did leave everything I could on that course.

I will get there...and the effort and the focus start now!! My goal from my coach is to hit at least 90% of my workouts going forward. Okay, okay - game on, Tiffany!!

Question: How do you keep your focus on the goal?