Friday, December 30, 2011

Eleven Races for 2011

Have you checked out my arm warmer review and sweepstakes here?

As this year officially comes to a close, there are many events and accomplishments to look back upon.  Sure, we bought a house, spent our first full years at new jobs, joined a wonderful temple and community, and made some great friends.  But clearly, the only real accomplishments I want to discuss are my running and my blogging, because, really, what else is there ...

OK, the other things are important too.  But let's talk running.

In the beginning of August 2010, I fully intended to run my first marathon that October.  For many reasons, that goal was not achieved.  In fact, in mid-August, I put on my running shoes, went for a nine mile run, and then did not run again for over two months.  That was extremely difficult to do and was not the least bit of fun.  I vowed to make 2011 a better year, but it was not going to be easy.  I needed to recondition my body and get back into running shape while honoring myself physically and mentally.  Thus, my first official race was not until Memorial Day weekend.  I would like to say that my debut was all that I intended it to be, but I think this picture says it all.
My IT band and I had a fight!

Good thing I have an amazing physical therapist, who whipped me right back into shape.  Only two weeks later, I showed my IT band who's boss.
Remember this?  It was the day I started to tolerate squirrels.

It should've been all good from there, but it became the summer of shoes.
Note: all of these were eventually returned.

As fate would have it, I inevitably went back to the shoes I've always worn just in time for my Garmin to fail as I stood at the starting line for the Falmouth Road Race.
Are we there yet?

No matter.  Fall was quickly approaching and, with only three races under my belt and the big "M" yet to come, it was time to kick things into high gear.  From then on, we rocked the race circuit.  Starting out on the right foot by placing at a local 5K, I proceeded to carry that momentum through to a scorcher of a race across all of Long Beach Island.  From there, I took on the wind of the Bay State half marathon to get ready for the big day in Washington DC.
Push it!

Soaking wet at LBI.

Start of the race.  I'm way too happy here.

Three years in the making, it was finally my day to rock negative splits and throw caution to the wind.  It was all I ever dreamed it would be and as I crossed the finish line, Liz asked me if I'd do it again.  I screamed, "Hell Yeah!"
Oh hello, there, NJ Marathon!  So glad I signed up for you today.  I'll be seeing you in May.

After Marine Corps, I was officially hooked and what better way to recover from a big race than to run four more races to finish off the year.
Turkey Trot!

Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon!

Winter Classic!

Home for the Holidays Virtual 10K!  Note how I'm wearing the same shirt two weeks in a row!

So there you have it folks.  Eleven races in 2011!  So let's kick off the new year right, starting with a New Year's Day run with my favorite guy!

What was your favorite race of 2011?  How are you ringing in the new year?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

From Selfish to Selfless Running

Have you checked out the results of the Virtual 10K here as well as my Sugoi arm warmer sweepstakes here?

This Sunday I will begin the New Year right.  For the first day of the year, I will, you guessed, it run a 5K. Except this 5K will be different than any race I have ever been in.  This will be the first race I fully intend not to race on my own behalf.  I hate to admit this, but in many ways running is a selfish sport for me.  It can sometimes be all about me... ok, most of the time, it's all about me.  Before a race, I have to pick a certain dinner that will agree with my stomach, I have to wake up at a certain time, and I have to be somewhere at a certain moment.  I drag my selfless husband along and beg him to help me with my race day needs.  He does so willingly.  For the past three years, I have repeated this ritual multiple times.

Aaron supporting me at one my first races

Meanwhile, Aaron has enjoyed his own sporting activities in the form of hockey.  He does this on his own time, never once asking me to lace up his skates or hold his water and change of clothes for after a game.  Looking at this now, I can't say it's my proudest moment.  I try to be a loving, supportive wife, but there is always room for improvement.  Aaron has shown nothing but kindness and has been completely supportive of my running career.
Lots of love and kindness!

On Sunday, Aaron will begin his own running career and it is now my turn to step up to the plate, stop asking so much, and start giving back.  Instead of worrying about my time goals for this race or whether my iPod has the perfect playlist, I will be focusing on him and his goals.  I will attempt to do whatever he needs to kick ass and get across the finish line.  On Sunday, I will wear the "I <3 MY CRAZY BITCH" shirt.
Insert shameless plug here

Now no one said this was going to be easy.  It has been suggested by some of my favorite cousins that I will inevitably get separated from Aaron during the race because I will get too excited and competitive and want to see if maybe I can set a new PR for the new year.  I don't think this is necessarily an easy thing to go into a race and know I won't be "racing" it.  And I am not perfect.  But ultimately, dare I say it, some things or some people are just more important than a shiny PR or running altogether for that matter.

So this Sunday, I will gladly put my husband first and cherish something new from running and racing - the opportunity to do something I love with the man I love.

Does anybody have any good tips for a first time pacer?  Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Home for the Holidays Virtual 10K Results and Winners

First, we just want to thank Aaron, Stephanie's husband, for all his help on this Virtual 10K. He has spent hours making sure the technology behind the scenes and has gone flawless for this. We could not have done it without him!

Big hugs for Aaron! Love Stephanie

We are so  happy to report that the Home for the Holidays Virtual 10K was a big success!!  The three of us (Stephanie, Robin, and Ashley) had a blast putting it together and participating in this race.  We had an even better time listening to all of your stories and checking out your fun holiday costumes.  We definitely want to make this an annual event and hope that all of you will participate.

You can check out the full album of holiday pictures here.  There are some really amazing and creative pictures and costumes.  We loved them all.  So glad people really got into the spirit and made some time to run for fun during the holiday weekend. Ashley will continue updating the page as she receives more pictures. Feel free to tag yourself, share the page, or your story!

We received a ton of stories from people.  People from over 40 states and multiple countries participated in the event and told us all about how they went out in the snow or heat, rain or shine to run this race (if you ran from a different country, we really appreciate you running & are so sorry we can’t enter you in the sweepstakes).  While some ran solo, others were able to find camaraderie with their friends, family, or even their pets.  For some this was your first virtual race or even better your first 10K.   Regardless of the conditions, we were so happy to have you join in the fun and congratulations on finishing the Home for the Holidays Virtual 10K.

Many of you sent us your stories, we loved reading them and hearing all about your adventures.  If you sent us your stories in blog format, we have posted them below and we are always happy to add more:

Many more of you sent us snippets of your stories as well, bloggers and non-bloggers alike.  If you are not on this list, we are so sorry.  Please email us and we are happy to link to your post on your Virtual 10K recap.  Thank you again for sending us your stories.  We tried to find the best way to put them together.  This is the best way we found.  We had so many more stories as well but it was hard to put them all in, we apologize. They were all amazing.

Ok now to the stuff you have all been waiting for....

First off, results - check it out here.  They are really impressive! We cannot believe how speedy and determined you all are.  Congrats again. (Thanks again Aaron for posting all of our times!) Now Aaron is a computer genius but unfortunately this all was kind of done on the fly and we added in requests for hometowns and the like late. So if your specific demographics etc are not up there. We can't put them up there now. I am sorry, apparently something about Aaron and I still having to go to our day jobs? Again, I am really really sorry about this. Please forgive us!

Second, the costumes were amazing! It was hard to really make a choice. Thank you everyone for really getting into the spirit. We loved them all and wish everyone could win. We could not pick just one, so we picked two - we could not help ourselves. Congrats to:

Kelly won a Five Bamboo Crop Leggings

Harmony from Keep On Keeping On
Harmony won a Five Bamboo Hoodie

Finally, here are our winners.  There are a lot, so search carefully. We did not want to put up last names. We are hoping there are no duplicates. I will be emailing all of you to ensure that you are the correct winners. So look out for the email to come!

 Once again, we hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and thank you so much again for participating. It was great to find all these new runners and bloggers and have a full new list of people to follow and read up on :)  Finally, if you are a winner, please let us know ASAP, so we can get your presents out to you.  Email You have one week to collect on your winnings or we will have to choose a new winner. Please allow us some time, there are lots of winners, which is amazing but the prizes may take a little bit to get to all of you...

Early Registration Winner Brooks Running Shoes: Richelle H.

Healthy Happier Bear (Ashley): Luluemon Size 12 Run Swiftly t-shirt
Westford Mommy (Robin): $15 Itunes Gift Card
Michaela L
Run for Fun (Stephanie): Men's Dri-Fit I Heart My Crazy Bitch from Stephanie
Paul L
Run for Fun (Stephanie): Run for Fun Bondi Band from Stephanie
Pam H
Losing Weight in the City (Theodora Blanchfield): Assorted Gu Pack
Karen C
Cross Country Cajun: $25 gift card Fleet Feet Card
Elaine H
Sparkly Soul:  Headbands (1 wide, 1 thin in holiday colors)
Lindsay J
Choose Cherries: gift pack
Jill W
Nancy C
Road ID: 1 free Road ID
Mike J
Attune Foods: 6 Month Supply of Cereal
Nicole T
Skin Sake: 6 Tubes of Skin Sake (3 winners, 2 tubes per winner)
Ashley C
Skin Sake: 6 Tubes of Skin Sake (3 winners, 2 tubes per winner)
Janine R
Skin Sake: 6 Tubes of Skin Sake (3 winners, 2 tubes per winner)
Amber H
Pretzel Crisps: 2 Cases of Pretzel Crisps (2 winners, 1 case per winner)
Molly L
Pretzel Crisps: 2 Cases of Pretzel Crisps (2 winners, 1 case per winner)
Josephine R
Chobani: 12 Pack Variety Case of Chobani (5 winners)
Sheryl J
Chobani: 12 Pack Variety Case of Chobani (5 winners)
Jill R
Chobani: 12 Pack Variety Case of Chobani (5 winners)
Izzi S
Chobani: 12 Pack Variety Case of Chobani (5 winners)
Tiffany A
Chobani: 12 Pack Variety Case of Chobani (5 winners)
Amy B
Nuun: 4 pack of Nuun with Water Bottle (4 winners) 
Paula C
Nuun: 4 pack of Nuun with Water Bottle (4 winners) 
Carolyn J
Nuun: 4 pack of Nuun with Water Bottle (4 winners) 
Christine C
Nuun: 4 pack of Nuun with Water Bottle (4 winners) 
Kimra M
Popchips: Pack of Popchips
Erika H
Bekah W
Tommie Cooper Beanie
Aleece P
Tommie Cooper Beanie
Tracey T
Tommie Cooper Beanie
Ellen G
Tommie Cooper Beanie
Amanda M
Tommie Cooper Beanie
Melissa E
Tommie Cooper Beanie
Lyndsi S
Tommie Cooper Beanie
Jennifer A
Tommie Cooper Beanie
Jen T
Tommie Cooper Beanie
JoAnn N
Tommie Cooper Beanie
Elizabeth E
Tommie Cooper Beanie
Kim R
Tommie Cooper Beanie
Stephanie G
Tommie Cooper Beanie
Anne P
Tommie Cooper Beanie
Farron McIntee

Thank you to all our amazing sponsors!! Thank you again for participating and Happy Holidays!

From Ashley

From Robin and Stephanie

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sugoi Arm Warmers Review & Sweepstakes

Last call for the Home for the Holidays Virtual 10K.  Please enter your times now (even if you did not complete the race) as winners will be chosen by 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

Aaron asked me last night what I would do if he got more comments than I usually do.  I responded that I would gladly give him one or two days a week of blogging for sure.  Well, that just might happen especially since he kicked major butt on his final training run.  He ran/walked 3.1 miles in just under 40 minutes.  To say I am proud is an underestimated.  He now knows he can complete the 5K distance and run a good portion, if not all of it, if I have anything to say about it..  It is so exciting!  He told me that he thinks he can go under 35 minutes on Sunday.  I could not agree more.  Plus it is going to be cold so he is going to have no choice but to go FAST because I am going to nudge motivate him to that finish line as I HATE the cold.  Did I ever tell you about the time I was able to nudge Aaron all the way up three flights of stairs because he was sick and I had no other way to get him upstairs.  That may be a story for another day but suffice it to say I can be VERY VERY persuasive (it is the future Jewish mother in me).

Is it just me or does he not look too adorable - this is Aaron this morning pre-run, getting ready to kill it.  He fears nothing - running or frigid cold :)

I don't know about all of you but I am pretty sad that the holidays are about over.  There is still New Years, which is cool because I get a day off from work but it is not the same.   At this point, there are no more presents to be had and now it is almost time to just kick into high gear with the New Year.  But before this post gets all depressing, I think this is the perfect time to lighten the mood with a Sweepstakes!  What better way to deal with the end of the holidays by having the chance to win something else, right?

So here we go with the Sugoi Sakura Arm Warmers Review & Sweepstakes.  Have you all heard of Sugoi?  They are a pretty amazing company, which I admit, I had not heard of until recently.  They make amazing apparel for runners and triathletes alike.  They have got it all from tops to bras to gloves to shorts.  You name it.   I found them when I began looking for arm warmers.  Many runners told me that Sugoi was the place to get the best arm warmers so I could not pass up a chance to try their product.

Sugoi was nice enough to send me a pair of arm warmers to try and one to giveaway.   On first impression, these things looked cool and snazzy, but they also felt lightweight making me a little skeptical that they would keep me warm in the cold.

Pretty snazzy right?

 The first time I tried them, to be honest, I was not that impressed.  They kind of itched and were annoying at the top of the arm warmers near my shoulders.  However, they looked SO cool so I had to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Come on, I really think they spice up the outfit nice no? ;)

The next time I wore them, I put on some Ever Stride to prevent irritation and they worked like a charm.  I hardly even noticed them except for the fact that they looked awesome and, oh, that I was super warm in them! I actually had to take them off pretty quickly because I warmed up so fast.  I was pretty amazed because they seemed so light and airy and I really did not think they would keep me warm.  Yet, I was pleasantly surprised that they worked like a charm in warming me up.  Plus once I took them off I was relieved, no chaffing. Thank you Ever Stride, I can't go without this product.  Do you use it? Seriously, check it out.

Love me some Ever Stride, never leave home without it, really!

Overall, I will be adding these arm warmers to my regular attire.  So what now?  Like I said, Sugoi was nice enough to let me offer a pair to you all in the form of a Sweepstakes.  So you guys know the drill, it is simple to win a Sweepstakes with me.  Just leave me a comment and you are entered.  The Sweepstakes closes on Tuesday January 3rd at 9 p.m.

Here are the other need to know details, please read carefully:

Check out the full Terms and Conditions here

Basics:  To enter the sweepstakes for a pair of Sakura Arm Warmer, please just leave a comment on this post, meaning the post that announced the sweepstake.  The comment does not have to be anything in particular.  It will be used so that your name can be entered into the sweepstakes as facilitated by Random.Org.   There is NO PURCHASE NECESSARY or any other type of consideration that must be given to enter this sweepstakes.     By entering a comment, you are entering in the sweepstakes and are thus agreeing to the full terms and conditions outlined here.

Eligibility Requirements:  To enter this sweepstake you must be over 18 years of age and a United States citizen.  Other restrictions apply.  You can enter by simply leaving a comment on this blog, NO PURCHASE or other consideration is neceessary.   You cannot enter by any other means.

Contact information:  When entering the sweepstakes, please provide a means for the writer of this blog to contact you when the sweepstakes has ended.  You may choose to leave your blog address, twitter handle, email address, or any other means that you are comfortable with and provides a reasonable way for the writer of this blog to contact you.  If you do not want, your contact information put in the comment field, you may e-mail the writer of this blog at  Your contact information will be used so that the writer of this blog may contact you if you win or if the retailer sponsoring the sweepstakes needs to contact you if you win.

Eligibility Requirements:  To enter this sweepstake you must be over 18 years of age and a United States citizen.  Other restrictions apply.  You can enter by simply leaving a comment on this blog, NO PURCHASE or other consideration is neceessary.   You cannot enter by any other means. 

Duration and deadlines:  This sweepstakes starts on Tuesday December 27, 2011 at 9:00  p.m.  and will go to Tuesday January 3, 2012 at 9:00 p.m.  Winner will be announced by Thursday January 5, 2012 at 8 p.m. and will be announced through this blog -  A winner has one week from the announcement of the winner to claim the prize or else a new winner will be chosen (Thursday January 12, 2012 after 8 p.m.) .  All prizes will be awarded.  Thus if the winner does not come forward, a new winner will be chosen.

Prize Description: The prize for this is a pair of Sakura Arm Warmers from Sugoi.  The value of this sweepstake is about $24.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Aaron's Post - I HATE RUNNING!

First, thank you again for everyone who participated in the Home for the Holidays Virtual 10K.  It was a huge success! I am working with Robin and Ashley on gathering all the stories and pictures and picking winners.  We will also have a list of the results but they are still coming in as of 6 p.m. tonight so we can't do it just yet. 

 If you have not submitted your time or even your attempted run please do so here by Tuesday night. You need to do this to be entered into the sweepstakes for all these cool prizes.

Next up, we have a winner for Skin Sake Sweepstakes and it is Britton.  Congrats Britton!!

That is it from me actually.  My shoulders need a rest.  Aaron and I have been talking about him starting to write some fun guest posts for a while and it seems like tonight is the night.  He has graciously decided to give me the night off.  Now, I may be biased but this guy is pretty much the best.  You know this little 10k we have been doing, Aaron has been behind it all. He is the guy behind the scenes, making sure this whole thing went off without a hitch (technology wise).  When Ashley, Robin, and I decided to do this race, I asked him to help and quick! He had registration up within the hour.  So without further ado my amazing husband's first post: 

Hi everybody!  As my darling wife said, I'm the guy behind the scenes, and it's about time that I made a public appearance.  The fact that I'm going to try to run a 5K this weekend provided a perfect segue into doing this.  But enough of that; more on me.  Let me tell you a tale about the athlete who hates to run...

I'm a competitive athlete.  I play sports that pit one against another.  It's just what gets my heart pounding.  Growing up, I always played some form of hockey, whether it be in the street, on the ice, or in my bedroom.  During the summers, it was always tennis.  In high school, I played three years of volleyball.  Do you see the pattern yet?  All of these sports are adversarial and are focused on short intervals of agility, coordination, and movement followed by a lull.  Even playing goalie fits this pattern since the puck's not always in my end.  I was trained to push hard for short bursts, cool down, then do it again, all while trying to beat my opposition.

Unfortunately, this mindset and physical training doesn't lend itself to running and biking, both of which I despise with all of my being.  Long periods of continuous motion with the only "competition" being the mental struggle to keep going is just not how I've been wired all these years.  For me, everything hurts, everything gets tired, and the clock laughs as it ticks by slower and slower.  Who'd have thought that a minute would take so long?

The good news is that this can change with the right conditioning.  That didn't quite happen with me over the years.  The only time I ran was for the Presidential Fitness Mile.  That was a long enough distance for me.  With that, here's a brief history of my running trials:
  • 6th grade: I knew everything I needed to know going into it - "pace yourself", "it's not a race", etc.  I ran at my natural cadence (likely a 6-8 minute mile pace), but couldn't keep it up.  Finished around 10:30.  Not terrible except for the fact that my face was purple, my body temperature felt like 150 degrees, and everyone of my classmates and teachers told me I looked like crap.  Good times!  Sorry, no pics available, but this may give you an idea. 
 I'm a little tired!
  • 7th grade: A summer outside at camp that included a good deal of soccer and running/walking helped the issue, but I never paced myself.  7:45.  Run-walk.  I was keeping up with all the fastest kids but didn't have the endurance.  No purple face this time though!
  • 8th-12th grade: Hovered between 8 minutes and 11 minutes.  The only thing worth noting was getting beat by the same group of girls who looked like they were more or less stumbling forward like drunks on their way home from the bar (I think they call that jogging).
  • College: Yes, I cheated my way out of the phys. ed. requirement at Brandeis.  We needed to run 13 laps in a certain time and each had 13 popsicle sticks to represent a lap.  At the end of each lap, you were supposed to throw them away.  I took off with a group of 20 kids and knew I couldn't make it.  So I did what anyone else would do; I dropped other sticks behind curtains on the other side of the indoor track!
  • College (part 2): After a summer landscaping during the days, playing ultimate frisbee after work, and for a few weeks, even running with Steph on the beach for 30-40 minutes at a time, I returned to Brandeis with the intent to keep it up.  I ran a bit, but lost the habit and gave up on the distance running in exchange for the excellent training program of "run as fast as you can for a mile".  I PR'd at 7:00, but got sick the next day (likely a relapse of the Mono that Steph gave me the previous year... or improper hydration and refueling) and never got back into that groove.
The rest is pretty much the same.   Mind you, during this time, I was crushing the rest of the Presidential Fitness test (aside from pullups, which are really hard when you don't work out and are overweight).  In fact, I loved the shuttle run - the one where you run 50 feet, pick up a block, come back, put the block down, and do it one more time.  I was beating or closely losing to all the football and basketball players.  I was a beast in gym class and always felt a connection to the term "Gym Class Heroes".  But I digress...
Running just never suited me.  When I met Steph, she opened my eyes to the idea that some people actually choose to run for more than a mile at a time and enjoy it!  My mind was blown!  A cold sweat came over me.  Fear gripped me.  The world was spinning.  The only thought in my head was, "WHO WOULD BE CRAZY ENOUGH TO DO THAT?!?!"
Oh right.....

I never knew that it might be me...

Just under two months ago, I started a couch to 5k program with the goal to run the race without walking (or collapsing).  Fresh off my ankle sprain, I started interval training.  Everything hurt; my ankles overpronate, my feet are flat, I'm bowlegged, I have a disposition for tendonitis in my knees, I'm overweight, my running form is garbage, and I'm not conditioned for this kind of activity.  But I stuck with it.  No way was I going to walk that course.  Eventually, the longer intervals made the previous week's long interval feel like a breeze and I had momentum going my way.  That is until I fell down the stairs on the way to Las Vegas a few weeks ago.  I hobbled my way around and it was much less severe than my left ankle sprain in July, which kept me off the ice for 2 or 3 months.

After a few weeks of intense PT and elliptical sessions that made Steph question how fast someone could go, I was cleared to get back on the ice and to start running again.  With that, I hopped on the treadmill to run my first full mile in over 2 years.  Boy, did that suck!  A 10 minute mile was enough to make my heart rate skyrocket, but I finished otherwise no worse for the wear.  No major pain other than just plain tired legs.
Blazing speed!

Now with a week left, I'm gearing up for the day when I can finish the 5K without slowing down and eventually the day when Steph will eat my dust.