Enjoying Holiday Craziness

I blinked and suddenly realized that I missed a week of blogging.  Things have been going so fast lately that I forgot where I was!  I’m just going to use today to do a quick catch up on what has been going on around here lately.

When we arrived back from our week of Thanksgiving festivities, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the 11 inches of snow we received had melted away.  Obviously I was thinking about how much easier it would be to run.  Now that I push Mary for a majority of my runs, I was dreading pushing her on snowy roads.  Not only did the snow melt, but the weather got pretty warm.  I spent last week running in shorts and a long sleeve.  Not a bad way to start out the month of December.

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I think this is the last of the grass for a long while!

However, as I type this we are expected to get up to 10 inches of snow in the next 48 hours.  At some point I will admit that it is winter, but I am not quite ready to let go yet.

Along with making my coasters for holiday gifts, I have been showing Mary the fun of making holiday gifts.  She has been using her arts and craft skills to make ornaments.  Nothing like letting a 16 month old play in finger paints!

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Since it gets dark here around 5:00pm now, we have traded in our evening backyard time for some inside play.  We turned on the movie screen and Mary loved her first viewing of Frozen, of course.

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I have been enjoying work at the gym.  I adore spending time with new clients and my schedule is starting to really fill up.  I worked quite a bit this week and feel like I am starting to get into the swing of things.  I am so happy to see that the cold weather has people flocking to the gym.  Staying healthy through out the holidays is such a great way to go.  If you can fit some workouts in and focus on eating well most of the time, you will find that the holidays don’t have to end with complete damage control.

While many of my runners are also working on getting a good base in this winter, marathons are starting to open up for registrations and that is keeping me busy too.  In the midst of all of this I realized that I start training for Boston the day after Christmas.  I figure that is perfect timing after the fun that is likely to occur!

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A quick shoutout congrats to Elaine who ran a 40 minute marathon PR last weekend in the pouring rain!  And another congrats to my brother and sister-in-law who had a baby boy Monday evening.  This holiday season has already been incredibly exciting!

How are the holidays keeping you busy?

DIY Runner’s Gift For The Holidays

I’m not going to lie.  I love the holidays.  We were recently at Ikea and when we reached the first floor, there was a holiday section.  Rock took one look and said to me, “Walk away.  Walk slowly away.”

Ever since I had my first apartment on my own, I have loved decorating for the holidays.  I carefully have selected my decorations and the collection has grown over the years.  I wait until after Thanksgiving and then all bets are off.

I also love gifting for the holidays.  I grew up in a family where we enjoyed picking out gifts for each other.  As a kid, I was given $20 and a trip to the mall to pick out gifts for my entire family.  I carefully scoured the dollar store and Target, and was so proud of what I chose for everyone.  I still embrace gift giving and have become a huge fan of making gifts or gift baskets to share for the holidays.

Rock and I received some very thoughtful coasters as a wedding shower present, years ago.  Each coaster was a vintage map of a place that was important in our lives.  We love these coasters and receive so many compliments about them.

I decided to try my hand at making my own version of these coasters this year as a gift for my running clients.  The results were awesome.  You don’t have to stick with race bibs.  Pictures and race maps work so well.  I did do a few bibs, but in the picture below you see that I chose to do various race courses.

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Note:  Make a copy of a race bib if you go that route.  Using the actual bib is difficult due to timing chips on the back.  The material tends to leave bubbles.  I also recommend making copies of photos, as paper is much easier to use with this project.  I would not recommend using actual photos or photo paper.

This is a great project if you are on a budget.  The tiles were 16¢ at Lowe’s and I found cork and foam backing at the hardware store about $4 for 75 pieces.

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Race Bib Coasters:

Supplies:

Bibs, pictures, maps, etc.

Plain white tiles

Modge podge

Sponge or foam paint brush

X-ACTO knife

Cork or foam pads

Directions:

Place picture on cardboard or other sturdy structure that is safe to cut.  Put the tile smooth side down over the area you would like to use for your project.  Carefully trace the X-ACTO knife around the tile.  Turn the tile smooth side up and using a sponge or foam brush, add a thin layer of Modge Podge over the tile.  Set the picture or bib over the coated tile and gently smooth out any bubbles and make sure corners are flat.

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My cut out pieces, ready to place on tiles.

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After the first coat.

Gently add a thin layer of Modge Podge on top of the picture or bib.  Let dry for at least an hour before adding one more coat.

Note:  I used dishwasher safe Modge Podge.  While I would not recommend putting these in the dishwasher, I feel that this makes them a little bit more water resistant when placing cups or mugs on top.  

Once dry, place foam or cork pads on the corners of the back side.  Wrap and then gift!

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Do you like to make gifts?  What do you like to make during the holiday season?

 

Merry Christmas Eve!

Hello again from Michigan. We are up here for a few days, visiting my family. This is Mary’s first Christmas and it is so exciting!

It is also unseasonably warm and this wimp has been loving the crazy temps. In fact, I only packed cold weather running gear and this is the interesting combo I put together to run in yesterday. #supersexyrunner

Rock did make some comment about “For better or worse.”

I’ve been busy enjoying the holiday excitement and that has taken me away from posting lately (but I’ve got lots of great stuff in the New Year to help you get on top of your winter training).  We spent all of last week baking new recipes for cookies and treats as gifts to share.  I was wrapping presents too!  With all of this excitement, I forgot to post about Mary’s christening the previous weekend. 

 As you can see, we are so lucky to have the most wonderful godparents and God-sisters. While we were up here we decided to take them skating. And I took a quick whirl around in my skates. Check out this first spin since having Mary. I was so dizzy after I couldn’t see a thing. I’m most definitely out of practice! 
 
We had the best time with the girls and I have to brag that the youngest (only 2 years old) was cruising around on her own!  #supercoaches

 

We are going to keep enjoying Christmas firsts with our little Mary. In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with your families. Enjoy the long weekend and see you next week!

   

Runner’s Gift Guide

Tis the season to share the love with your favorite runner.  Maybe you are a runner yourself or perhaps you are a wise friend or partner searching for the perfect something for that special speedster in your life.  I have compiled a list of a few of my favorite things that I think just about any runner can appreciate. 

Flip Belt: $25

I am a recent convert and I can’t believe I didn’t join the crowd earlier.  Once I got pregnant, this was the perfect thing to slip around my ever expanding waist.  But it has quickly become my go-to belt of choice long after Mary was born.   Comfortably snug; it doesn’t bounce around and has plenty of slots to hold just about everything you could possibly need.

 

 
Yurbuds: $25+

Call me weird, but earbuds don’t fit in my ears.  When I got my first iPod, it drove me crazy to no end that I couldn’t use the enclosed headphones.  I spent years running with dorky old school headphones.  But when I saw these at a booth at the North Face Endurance Challenge, I had to give them a try.  Game Changer!  The sound quality is great, they feel great and I love using them now to chat on the phone when my hands are full with a little baby.

 

 
Simple Hydration Water Bottle: $19.99

I was contacted a few years ago to try this water bottle out.  Let me be the first to say that I hate carrying a water bottle on my runs.  But this thing seriously works.  It slips into the back of your pants and shorts and holds enough for a short-medium distance run.  It stays put and doesn’t bounce around.  Plus, I like that it doesn’t require a belt. I don’t use it a lot but when I do want water this is my only go-to.

 

 
Batiste Dry Shampoo:  $5.99

My friend Tatiana used to tease me because I would head to the gym for a run and then blow dry my sweaty hair before coming back to work.  This stuff gives me the perfect excuse to acceptably dry my sweaty mop and promptly return back into society.  They have formulas for all different types and colors of hair.  Now you can extend your blowout and still workout.

  
Sparkly Soul: $15

I have curly hair.  Sometimes I straighten it and sometimes I don’t.  Either way, summer humidity has my hair in ever expanding mode. I love these headbands.  They work and they are cute.  So many colors and sizes to choose from.  Even better, they are super comfy.

 

 
Good for any runner items and fit great in a stocking:

Gift certificates for pedicures, iTunes, favorite running stores, or a massage.

I am also always happy to receive new hats, gloves, and socks.  You can never go wrong with something that keeps your runner warm. 

What is on your holiday wish list?

 

 

Stay In The Moment

One of the best pieces of advice I share with endurance athletes is to stay in the moment.  It is so easy during a long event to start thinking or even worrying about miles that are yet to come.  This is often all too common when we find ourselves in a mile where we might be struggling.  When things get hard we start to worry about how we can possibly make it to mile 20 when we are only 10 miles into a marathon.

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Staying in the mile that you are in and focusing on what you are currently dealing with makes an endurance event much more manageable.  Especially when it comes to marathons, there are far too many miles to start looking too far ahead.  Each mile is different and brings forth different feelings and emotions.  By focusing on the one you are currently in, you can enjoy a race more and worry a lot less.

It is also important to remember that just about any time you go for a run, every mile feels a little different.  Some miles feel awesome and you want to run forever.  Others just plain suck.  It is an ever changing cycle.  Have you ever left for a run and thought, “I feel so great I’m going to go for 10!” only to find that after three miles in, you no longer enjoy the run and want to call it quits?  On the flip side, we have all had runs where we dread even walking out the door.  But after a few miles we find a groove and end up having some of our best miles ever.  These very reasons are why you need to stay in the moment.

While this plays out in races and training, it also is something important to remember in our daily lives.  The past few weeks have been exciting whirlwinds in our household.  We have a little infant who is rolling and trying to crawl and her personality is coming out.  We both have jobs we love and find ourselves so busy it is hard to find time to fit everything in.  And I love the colors and chaos and fun that the holiday season brings.  But we have found ourselves sleep deprived, crazy busy and wondering where we are headed most of the time.

Saturday night we had our first date since Mary was born and went to see the Nutcracker performed by the Joffrey Ballet.   As the lights turned off and the magic of a Christmas story began to play out, I found myself reaching down to look at my watch.  I stopped myself, dropped my shoulders and let my body relax next to my husband.

Life (and running) is a wonderful adventure that is meant to be enjoyed.  By checking myself, I was able to appreciate everything the Nutcracker had to offer.  The athleticism of ballet, the theatrics on the stage, and the beautiful orchestra and chorus brought forth a wonderful story.  It brought me back to the magic I felt during the holiday season as a young girl.  It was a truly special night and a great reminder.

  

We are often so worried about what the end result will be whether it a race finish or goals in life, that we get so focused on the end and forget to enjoy the process.  Enjoy the holiday season and every day.  Stay in the moment!

Happy Ho-Ho-Holidays!

Greetings from Northern Michigan!  We arrived here Saturday night with Louie in tow.  It was an adventurous drive and one we have been dreading because little Louie has a tendency to get car sick.  But we made it here with a clean car and dog!

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There is just a “dusting” of snow here for this time of year, about 2-3 inches, and the temperatures are relatively moderate.  This is perfect because last night we went to Traverse City to join in on an evening Jingle Run put on by the Traverse City Track Club.  We were really looking forward to this race.  Typically, as many of you know, I despise 5K’s.  Regardless of how much I intend to just go and have a fun run, my Type A personality takes over and I end up pushing myself like it is a 3.1 mile sprint.  It always ends ugly.

But this race was a fun run, as in not chip timed.  For a $15 race fee you received a jingle bell for your shoe and a great race hat.  I don’t wear my race shirts for actual races but in keeping with the vibe I threw on the hat and it was surprisingly warm and festive!  Participants were also asked to bring a canned good to put towards a local pantry.  I love the holiday season and any excuse to share the holiday love with those who might need some extra help.  How perfect is a race that gives back?!

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Oh did I mention that there was a post race pizza buffet?  And we all hung out in a warm ballroom until the start of the race when we simply just herded down the streets of beautiful downtown Traverse City.  If you have never visited, it is a truly picturesque place.  Personally I think summer is the time to be here when the crystal clear beaches are paradise and rail trails span for miles and miles for your running pleasure.  But in the winter there are plenty of places to downhill ski, snowboard, cross country ski, and snowshoe.  Plus Traverse City has lots of great little shops and boutiques to visit as well as many incredible restaurants.  It is a foodie’s dream come true!

Even better my friends Jerry, Brandy, and Patrick (who all happen to also be MDA Team Momentum members) joined in on the fun.  While Jerry’s costume may have been just slightly sacrilegious he did take home the top prize for best costume, a free night’s stay at the Park Place Hotel.

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There is something really special about doing a race not for the medal or PR but instead to join the running community and give back.  There were no commemorative shirts to be had or top prizes for age groups.  But I did get to run with some special friends and catch up with them over a few miles along the streets as we enjoyed the holiday lights.  In many ways isn’t that what running is about?  We are a giving community and so many of us use our running as a way to be involved in various charities.  Often times it is the charity that brings us to running in the first place.

I love this time of year.  I love buying gifts for others and seeing the smiles on children’s faces.  In fact when I got out of the car yesterday to pick up our packets I ran into Santa on the sidewalk.  He waved to me and watched me look at the parking meter.  He kindly told me that we didn’t have to pay on Sundays.  I thanked him and wished him a Merry Christmas and he wished me the same.  I felt like a little girl all giddy to be chatting with Santa.

We spend so much time discussing the stress of holiday shopping or travel.  We worry about making it to every holiday party or how to pay the bills with all of our extra shopping.  This time of year should be a special time full of family, friends and charitable giving.  A simple fun run was such a wonderful way for us to relax and enjoy this time of year, be with our friends, and have the opportunity to give to those who could use some help.

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Happy holidays friends!

What is your favorite holiday tradition or way to get in the spirit?

So This is What Being Crazy is Like

We clean up nicely when we aren't running.

We clean up nicely when we aren’t running.

Yesterday was pretty awesome.  For the past few years my husband and I have lived on the East Coast and missed out on a lot of family holiday activities.  We were so excited this year to be here for the annual Christmas family brunch.  I had been looking forward to this event all week.  If you know anything about me I love food and I like to eat a lot; put me in front of a buffet and all self-control likely goes out the door.

But you know you are a running dork when….the night before the brunch my husband mentioned that he had considered leaving the car in the suburbs post brunch and running back to our place in the city later in the day.  Funny enough I had the same thought.  And thus began our running version of the holiday brunch.

We got dressed up in our Sunday best and enjoyed a pretty fantastic spread, followed by some veg on the couch football time with the family.  Once we were able to finally move around without feeling sick it was off to the streets to weave our way home.

Looks like someone stole my camera at brunch.  Beautiful.

Looks like someone stole my camera at brunch. Beautiful.More evidence.

It seemed so normal for us (I can’t believe I am saying this, because as I start to read it we do sound a bit off of our rockers) to bring along extra clothes and find a way to get a run in.  Others of course thought we were a bit nuts and pointed out that there was a train across the street that would take us directly to our doorstep.

And so we ate, we drank (coffee of course) and then ran 11 miles home.  It was awesome!  But knowing we still wanted to run kept me in check and aware of my choices.  I certainly indulged (and it was awesome!), but I chose my indulgences wisely. It was the perfect holiday afternoon with the family followed by a peaceful evening run with my husband.

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We might be running dorks at times but I love that we find a way to be healthy together despite whatever holiday craziness we might encounter.  I’m already looking forward to seeing what fun way we scheme up to get a run in today.

Almost home.  I love running through here at night with the lights.

Almost home. I love running through here at night with the lights.