November Stress

How is it already November?! This is one of those things about getting older… time passes faster and faster. You always hear that as a kid or teen, but it gets more real with each passing year. This year is registering in my mind as “What just happened?” (There may be some expletives in that statement too.)

White_Rabbit_KHREC

But today, with it being the first Monday in November, I’m really feeling the weight of stress.  Let’s see if listing things out makes it feel like a less overwhelming time:

  • Have the kid home from school today because it’s parent-teacher conferences. Try to get some work done during this time.
  • Attend my first parent-teacher conference as a parent.
  • Go to the dentist.
  • Vote. Yes, I’m supposed to get time off work to go vote by law… doesn’t meant that it doesn’t add to the stress. I have to take that time away from getting work done, and read through the 9,302 judge options on the ballot. Why are there so many judges?!
  • Run the Las Vegas Ragnar Relay this weekend with a team full of strangers. Kind of having a moment where I’m questioning my sanity on that choice! (It will be fun.)
  • Run a search committee and hire a new employee at work.
  • Finish building the redesigned web site for work, launch it and sit back to field all the complaints that will inevitably come in and be directed at me.
  • Oversee a major household renovation that will be taking place this month.
  • Have the kid home from school again on the 11th, because her school is closed for Veterans’ Day.
  • Guest lecture for a university class
  • Thanksgiving
  • Get the dog to the vet for shots
  • Keep trying to make menus/meals for the fam, which I am getting better and better about FAILING in that regard.
  • Buy my kid some warm clothes. And new shoes.
  • Keep being the default parent.
  • Try not to go completely blog-silent during all this. The site has brought me some amazing opportunities, but it has to be one of the first things that gets relegated to the back-burner… it’s not a living-breathing member of my family nor does it actually pay the bills.

Nope, still feel stressed. Sigh… Oh well, this too shall pass, right? And some of the stuff on the list is really good stuff, it’s just that all added together I feel burdened and unbalanced.

Happy Halloween!

This was the first year “A” understood what was happening for Halloween. She dressed up as Elsa from Frozen, a movie we have not seen yet. She got that people gave you candy but she was super excited about receiving a baggie of Utz Cheese Balls! I hope you had a splendid and wonderful Halloween!

Halloween Carvings 2014

A playing by the pumpkins Halloween 2014

Armpocket Racer and Ultra i-35

I’ve mentioned on here that I upgraded my iPhone 5 to the iPhone 6. The iPhone 6 is bigger… as such, I needed a new way to carry it. The timing of this is all so fortuitous… I was recently asked to be an ambassador for Armpocket armbands! I used my first Armpocket way way way back in 2009 or so and it’s something that I have purchased for myself. As part of my newly appointed ambassadorship (that sounds so formal, huh… I need a coronation ceremony!) I received some new Armpockets.

Armpocket i-30 and Racer both hold an iPhone6

Both the Racer and the Ultra i-35 are large enough to hold the new iPhone 6 (not the 6 Plus… I can’t imagine wanting to carry that one around ever. But if you do, they’ve got it covered… their Mega i-40 will do the job!)

The Armpocket Racer™ is an ultra-thin sport armband ideal for the minimalist.
The Armpocket Ultra i-35 is more in line with their typical designs.

Some of the standard features of the Armpocket family:

  • Water and sweat resistant, with a large storage compartment to carry what you need
  • Touch-through screen for “on the move” device operation
  • Available in 3 strap-lengths, as “one-size” does not fit all: Small for arm size 7″ – 11″, Medium
    for arm size 10″ – 15″ and Large for size 13″ -18″.
  • Audio ports—allows you to easily connect your headphones to your phone or device
  • Double pull zippers- allows easy “on the run” access – and “top-side” ear-bud wire access^
    (Racer has sport Velcro closure)
  • Durable, comfortable, and securely carries multiple items—does not bounce
  • Does not slip: ultra soft – padded with breathable memory foam” contours to your arm
  • Moisture-wicking, anti-bacterial, natural bamboo rayon back and vented strap- keeps you cool and dry
  • Eco-friendly – primary fabric is constructed from recycled plastic bottles (PET), and uses bamboo rayon
  • Versatile – great for running, hiking, hiking, running errands, traveling and more!

I may be the exact opposite of how these Armpockets are labeled. The Racer is more of an everyday, going running straight from my front door holder for me. It’s minimal and won’t hold much beyond my iPhone6. The top doesn’t use the zipper enclosure, instead it has a velcro flap. I’m not entirely sold on it, but I can see the point with the minimal design. It’s a tight fit on this one with my iPhone in a very slim case. Basically, I have to put the phone in the Armpocket Racer first, then strap it to my arm.

armpocket-racer.jpg

On the flipside, the i-35 is bigger and will hold more. Which means if I’m going to a race, I can stash my car key in there, or a pre-packed face wipe for post race or some gels or… well, you get the picture. Basically, it’s more accommodating!

trick-or-trot-2014-armpocket.jpg

Over the years, I’ve found that when the Armpockets are brand new, they tend to still be a little stiff. They need some wear time to really learn to contour to your arms. After several good sweat sessions, the memory form tends to start molding to the shape of your arm a little bit quicker and they become more and more comfortable over time.

I may be a little weird, but I don’t like to use the headphone port on the Armpocket armbands. Since Apple moved the headphone jack from the top to the bottom of the iPhone, I’ve been putting my iPhone in my Armpocket upside down. Plus with the larger Armpocket, like the i-30, if I do this I can easily unzip it, grab the phone for a quick photo without worrying about unplugging the headphones and/or rethreading it through the port on the go. But the thing is… they’re versatile enough to allow for this practice!

Currently they’ve got a free domestic shipping promo going on their site, so if you’re one of the many who have moved to larger phones over the past, check them out. It’s a way to carry your device (and more) without bulky waist packs. (Okay, it’s adding bulk to a different place, your arm… but it’s comfortable!)

So Over The Cold

Not the temperature… it can’t be categorized as cold here yet. And many of you would say that even at the coldest, Las Vegas doesn’t know cold.

No… I am over the illness “the cold” and getting one every month or so. I don’t know if it’s 100% due to the fact that I have a toddler in school or if it’s due to having a weakened immune system from not getting enough rest. Whatever the case… I am feeling cold-ish far too often. And yes, this means that today I am feeling a little under the weather.

I don’t know if it was a blessing or a curse that some samples from RECOVERYbits® AND ENERGYbits® showed up at my house just in time for this. Are they potentially going to help me kick it or did their mere presence act as a subliminal message to the viruses that I should be infected?

Disclaimer: Samples were sent to me for free. Thoughts on the site are always my own.

recovery-bits-pack.jpg

I received two doses of the Recovery formula, I tried the first dose on Saturday after my race. I wish I’d had two doses to use now that I’m feeling the familiar throat tickle, but I downed the second dose today.  A dose is 30 tabs… which seems like a lot but I actually didn’t have any problems taking that many.

recovery-bits-hand.jpg

partial dose

I did a little bit of reading on the health benefits of algae as a superfood. I didn’t want to just take the word of the Bits people… their website and marketing pieces are done extremely well and paint an awfully appealing picture. But it’s also built to sell their product. So my goal was to find information from other sources on whether or not the chlorella algae in the RECOVERYBits really helps with immunity and repair.

Chlorella can potentially help with immune function, as well as hypertension and fibromyalgia. [Superfood: Algae via Greatist] Even at high doses, algae appears to be safe but some tabs can be contaminated with other potentially toxic substances. And pregnant/nursing women should talk with their doctors before using. [University of Maryland Medical Center] I found lots and lots of anecdotal stories talking about what a difference various algaes made in people’s lives. There are lots of “early studies” that show benefits, but not a lot of definitive, conclusive evidence. [WebMD]

But there was enough information out there that I was convinced to give it a try. I’m really sick of losing days in my training and focus at work/home due to all these colds. So I decided, yep… I’ll give it a try on a regular basis. But then I looked at the price for a one-month supply of RECOVERYBits… $115.

Yeah… That’s $1380 for a year. I’m a cheapskate and I can’t justify that kind of expense! I mean, it’s about $2.80 a day and some people buy $5 Starbucks every day… but I don’t. So that seems steep!

All the stories online, the positive preliminary research and the rich history for algae in Asian cultures sounds tempting, but that’s a hefty price tag!

And one final bit of advice… never ever ever ever ever try to chew the Bits. Well, technically you can chew them… but they just taste pretty horrible.

recovery-bits-swallow.jpg

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

Enjoying nature with my favorite snack

Thanks to LÄRABAR for sponsoring today’s discussion

The first time I ever tried a LÄRABAR was at a marathon expo in 2008. I was amazed at how much wonderful flavor was packed into a bar with so few ingredients and I was immediately sold. I have been eating them ever since and I pretty much always have a LÄRABAR or two in my bag at all times. My 2-year-old has loved them since before she was one! Due to my introduction to LÄRABAR, I will forever associate them a little bit with physical activity, but I will still eat them at my desk!

So it’s no surprise that LÄRABAR has its roots in physical fitness. In 2000, founder Lara Merriken was on a hike and inspired to create a product that combined wholesome ingredients, but was also fun, enjoyable and good for you. LÄRABAR offers a variety of products to fit your needs and now offers 19 flavors in its Original Fruit and Nut Bar™. The brand has expanded to include eight flavors of LÄRABAR® über®, six flavors of LÄRABAR® ALT®, four flavors of LÄRABAR® Jŏcalat® and a new grain free granola called LÄRABAR® RENOLA™. Everything LÄRABAR offers is gluten-free, non-GMO and Kosher, with the majority of the products being soy-free, dairy-free and vegan.

larabar-variety.jpg

This weekend I hit the trails, not for a hike, but to run. They were groomed trails in a state park not hardcore single track, but it was still running on dirt nonetheless. I love running out in the dirt, there’s something about that experience that feels so free and relaxing. I just don’t get to do it much and I definitely don’t get to drive to far off trails now, life is too time-crunched. But it’s nice to have some trails in the city limits!

larabar-at-floyd-lamb-nevada.jpg

I was sent a LÄRAbag full of bars and RENOLA as part of this campaign. It was nice to be re-introduced to some flavors I haven’t had in a long time like Key Lime.

larabag.jpg

Let’s talk RENOLA for a minute… I knew I wanted to try it because I have enjoyed everything LÄRABAR makes so far. But when I read it was a grain-free granola and seemed to be a mix of seeds/nuts/fruit… I admit, I was a little concerned. I mean, that mix of ingredients is great, but it just doesn’t speak to me as a “granola”. I was wrong… somehow they’ve made something retains the texture of granola but doesn’t have the grains. It is amazing. Try it!

larabar-renola-variety.jpg

 

If you haven’t tried the products before or you already love them, snag this coupon to get $0.50 off purchase of any LÄRABAR. Locate a retailer near you!

LÄRABAR is encouraging everyone to get outdoors in celebration of National Take a Hike Day on 11/17/14 and share their experiences using the dedicated hashtags (#eatclean and #getoutside) on various social media. I think I’ll try to get out with the dog and the toddler (the hubby can come along too!) the day before to celebrate.

Want to Win Some LÄRABAR?

Win your own LÄRABAR assortment of 16 LÄRABARs and RENOLA to try. Just leave a comment:
tell me what flavor of each you would like to try and why you’re interested in that
OR
you can tell me your own favorite #getoutside story and how a healthy snack like LÄRABAR would play a role in that.

I’ll draw a winner on November 3. Winner must be a US resident and at least 18 years of age.

WINNER: Susan – comment #6

This post was sponsored by LÄRABAR by my love of the outdoors and their bars is completely true.

Trick or Trot 10K [race report]

How racing has changed over the years… Back in the day, I used to wake up so early to make sure I was all set to go. I had my clothes all laid out the night before, usually pinning my bib number on in advance. I got to the event super early to make sure I had a spot to park, and that I didn’t miss the start.

Today, I woke up at 5:45 because my kid started crying. So I got dressed and played with her until I left around 7:20 to drive over to my race. I got there about 25 minutes before the 8AM start time. I ran into my former co-coach for Team Challenge and spent some time chatting with him before I strolled over to the start line 2 minutes before the race started.

I will probably go back to my nervous ritual with Boston, but it’s kind of nice to just roll into a race and go.

Anyway… this morning I ran the Trick or Trot 10K here in Las Vegas. They were handing out flyers at the last race that I did, so I figured “Why not?” I wish I had taken “A” with me because it was such a fantastic family-friendly environment. But I didn’t want to push her on the trails for 6 miles. And some of the stretches were pretty narrow, it would have been hard to navigate the BOB through.

They did such a good job with this event, the whole start/finish area was decorated so well and they had tons of vendors with booths selling hand-crafted jewelry, essential oils, baked goodies, etc. There was a large area with little kid games, like bean bag toss and fish ponds and such. They had Shetland ponies there for kids to pet. There were bouncy castles. It was really a great environment!

trick-or-trot-2014-entry.jpg

trick-or-trot-2014-finish.jpg

trick-or-trot-2014-cookie-bar.jpg

trick-or-trot-2014-kid-games.jpg

There were a lot of runners in costume. (Not me… I’m not a costume person. I can’t recall the last time I wore a costume. I did run in devil horns for a Team Challenge training run at Halloween once, that was the extent of my costumery.) I will say this, if you are planning on running in a costume and that costume involves wings… keep in mind the proximity to other runners at a start line and stick with smaller wings. There were a lot of wings beating other participants at first! There were also a lot of super heroes, lots of Wonder Women and Supermen. (Wonder Womans and Supermans?)

trick-or-trot-2014-costume.jpg

The race was a 5K and a 10K. For the 10K we just repeated the loop twice. The race started off on grass, then moved onto trail, then had about a half-mile stretch on an asphalt path. The route was marked well with volunteers at several spots that could potentially be confusing to anyone. They did have a little bit of a oddness with the mile markers… since they always had the two distances for both 5K/10K right next to one another. Like “1 mile” and “4 mile” side-by-side. But with the .1 at the end of the loop, then technically those next mile points are not at the same spot. Oh well, not a big deal. Just a quirk. I don’t think the course was an EXACT distance anyway, since it was a fun community event and not a certified course.

The one thing they needed to do was make the final stretch of the course marked off more… additional cones, maybe some tape in between them. The problem with having games on one side of the finishing chute and bouncy castles on the other, meant there were a lot of people drifting back and forth across the finishing stretch. Or people just stopping to chat with friends in there. And I saw a gal trip and fall about 20 feet from the finish because she was trying to go around a group of people standing on the course talking.

They gave away tech shirts to all participants and all finishers got a cute little medal.

trick-or-trot-2014-shirt.jpg

trick-or-trot-2014-medal-front.jpg

trick-or-trot-2014-medal-back.jpg

I have no idea what my official finishing time is. I didn’t see a lot of women doing the 10K so I thought I might have had a good chance at placing in my AG. But they kept saying, “We’re going to announce the results in the next few minutes!” for about an hour. Finally I just left. It was getting warm, it was nearly 80° when I left. We’ve had a warm October!

I wore shirt and shorts from Athleta that I purchased 2-3 years ago, an older pair of Saucony Virrata shoes and I had my new Armpocket i-30 to carry my iPhone throughout the race. I needed a new way to carry my phone since I upgraded to the bigger iPhone 6 and that worked perfectly!

Friday Fête

Do you ever have one of those weeks where you feel like you’ve gone through about 3 weeks in just 3 days? It has been one of those weeks for me. Despite having Monday off work, the following three days were so full of work weirdness that I’ve been thrown off all week. Emails have been piling up in all my accounts (I have way too many email accounts!) and it’s getting a little overwhelming to look at them all.

But I got an invite to use Inbox, Google’s new app to try managing manage your gmail account. So if I ever get a chance to really test it out maybe I can get an inbox or two under control! (HA HA HA!)

Inbox by Gmail

I downloaded the app Motigo recently. It’s an app that allows you to collect “cheers” from friends/family, then at the beginning of a race you start the app and you get those motivational boosts at specific points in the race. I’m going to give it a go tomorrow. Right now I only have one cheer in there, one I made of my daughter babbling. So if you feel like leaving me one for my race tomorrow: download the app, look for me in the Trick or Trot 10K in Las Vegas and record away!

motigo-icon

My daughter has always loved books, but lately the “Want to read a story Mommy?” inquiry has been coming even more frequently. She wakes up in the middle of the night asking that question. First thing out of her mouth in the morning is asking for a book. It’s awesome… but I’m so tired of all her books. I’ve tried to read my books to her so I get a chance to read for myself, but she has told me “No like that. Read another one.” Guess we need to go get a stack from the library every week!

I pulled out the book The Runner’s Bucket List: 200 Races to Run Before You Die to read to her, thinking that since it’s not really a long book but more a collection of short “stories” I could get away with it. It didn’t fly… however I did get to read her a little blurb about the Boston Marathon to her, since I’m getting more and more giddy about running that race as part of Team Stonyfield with each passing day.

runners-bucket-list.jpg

The book is entertaining, although it really is a collection of personal opinions. I mean… I think a large majority of runners would put the Boston Marathon on their bucket list. But the book includes the Badwater Ultramarathon as a bucket list entry. I know a few people personally who actually have that race on their to-do list (or have already done list) but for the most part, I think it wouldn’t be high on a lot of runners list.

The book is a fun way to get some ideas though. Since it’s grouped into chapters with a general theme, it’s easy to find races you might not have heard of otherwise. Races that take place on famous or multiple bridges… races that are clothing optional (are these bucket list worthy?)… races that take place in the night… relay races, fast courses, indoor races… there are a lot of races I’d never heard of and that made for an interesting perusal!

I’m hoping that this weekend I get a chance to power through some of my emails and get a little more caught up and organized on my personal life. At least I have my work inbox somewhat under control, despite the out-of-control feelings it has evoked of late! And I’m running a 10K Saturday morning (see above mention in the Motigo reference), so that should be fun!

What are your weekend plans? What email app do you use on a smartphone? Got any to-do list/organizational tactics you swear by?

You Need to #OpenYourEars

I have been harping on this for years now… Pay attention to your surroundings when you’re out on your run! (Or walk, or bike ride, or if you’re a high school kid walking across the street in front of parents who are picking their kids up from a nearby school and you just drift across streets without ever looking up from your phone while wearing giant headphones…) From recently talking about it…

… to years back when talking about my time coaching Team Challenge and how runners would be completely unaware of us coaches running up to talk with them until we’re right in their face. It really bothers me to see people being so cavalier about their own wellbeing.

So when Panasonic reached out to me to test and share their Open-Ear Bone Conduction Headphones and the #OpenYourEars campaign I was very excited. First, I’d never tried an ear-bone conduction headphone (I usually run with a single earbud) and was intrigued to see how it works. Second, obscuring your sense of hearing while running is my pet peeve. If I was a Mrs Running America pageant contestant this may be my platform issue.

panasonic-open-ear-bone-1.jpg

panasonic-open-ear-bone-2.jpg

I wasted no time in opening the box, pulling out the headphones, plugging them into my iPhone and starting up a song. I heard the song just fine, so I asked my husband, “Can you hear my music?” And he looked at me and said, “It’s all in your head. There’s no music.” He’s a smart aleck. But it’s still kind of strange, to have your ears completely open and hearing the music just fine but nobody else can hear it. I loved that!

So I took the open-ear headphones out on a run. And then another, and another, and another. I really like them, they are quite comfortable and don’t bounce around at all. I have found that when you are listening to a podcast/audiobook/spoken word and a noisy vehicle drives by, you tend to miss some of the words as you really do hear the road noise more. So if that is something that really bothers you, try these anyway and keep your audio that needs close attention for other times!

wearing-the-panasonic-open-ear-bone-1.jpg

So how does the ear-bone conduction work? Basically, it transmits sound vibrations directly to the inner ear through your cheekbones. So without covering up any part of your ear canal, you still get the benefit of great sound. And your ears are open to hear cars, cyclists, other people, dogs, etc. that are around you.

They are lightweight and even though they are not adjustable to snug right up against the back of your head, they don’t move when on. They have reflective strips on the sides and back to help increase visibility in night/low-light conditions. They are water/sweat-resistant and can be wiped clean with a damp cloth.

wearing the panasonic open-ear headphones

The only complaint I have about them is how long the cord seems, I feel like I could wear a calf strap to hold my phone, plug the headphones in clear down there and it would be fine. Well, that’s an exaggeration… but there is plenty of cord to go around here. Just jam it down your shirt, it will be fine.

Another thing that would be a “nice to have” feature is an inline remote. If I’m going to have all that cord, I might as well be able to control my tunes with it and take calls.

The headphones retail for $79.99.

In addition to the headphones, Panasonic was kind enough to send me a bag of schwag. Some of it is general precautionary things runners might need: GU, BodyGlide, sunscreen. But they also sent some items that are visibility-specific. Reflective headband, light-up armband, bright-reflective waist belt. All of it came bundled in a nice big Land’s End tote. Thank you Panasonic for sending me the headphones and all these goodies.

panasonic-open-ear-bone-schwag.jpg

Panasonic sent me the headphones for free to review, but it was in regard to a need that I feel particularly strong about and all opinions are my own.

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

Video Entertainment

At the swimming pool last Saturday, the song “Let It Go” from Frozen came on and my kid suddenly belted out, “LET IT GO!” I didn’t know she knew that song, but they do play lots and lots of songs in her classroom, so it’s not surprising that she would hear it. After realizing that she knew the song I decided to show her a video of it when we got home. So I pulled it up on YouTube:

And when it finished, she said “OLAF!” And I was thinking, “Who is Olaf?” Then she tapped on a video of a snowman named Olaf from Frozen. My kid, who has never watched a movie, knows this movie more than I do.

A is coming up on 26-months-old (apparently I can’t stop counting in months yet, I told another mother she was 2 and was then asked, “But how many months?” Is there some kind of rule about when that stops? Or should I just start telling everyone I am 434-months-old?) Anyway… we followed the rule about not letting your kid watch TV before turning two, but it’s not like we were super strict about NO SCREEN TIME completely. She did get to Facetime with people on occasion. And while she still doesn’t watch TV, she does like YouTube videos now. She definitely has her favorites:

This video may have been what taught her that Halloween stuff is scary:

And when she started requesting train videos, it took a lot of trial and error before we landed on the Bob the Train videos that satisfied her:

And watching all of these clips has now made YouTube think that’s what I like, so my recommended videos now looks like this:

YouTube recommendations since having a kid

Friday Fête

Lately I am obsessed with patterned pants for running. I want a pair… I actually ordered a pair from Fabletics that should be arriving sometime soon. I’ve seen that company advertised so much lately I finally caved and I’m going to check them out. There’s a part of me that thinks I can’t wear patterned workout pants… because I don’t have the right figure for them, I don’t have shirts to go with them, I might feel silly in them… all frivolous reasons that don’t really hold much weight.

Fabletics Lima Capri

This all kind of goes along with my total lack of style. I just feel like I need to shake things up and actually define my own style. Beyond sloppy telecommuter/runner.

I’ve started to pin some patterned pants that I’ve found and I will continue to do so. But here are a few recents:

1. These are patterned but not way too busy, they might be a good “gateway” pant!



2. These ones have subtle pattern/texture on the legs, but the color isn’t subtle at all!

3. Venturing into pattern and color here!

4. These are just flat-out called “crazy pants” – but they’re still black/white so matching a top to them wouldn’t be hard.

These are probably the most bold of all the pants I’ve found so far. I like that the model has enough sense to match her shoes to the pants. ;-)

Thoughts on wild-pattern capris/tights? Do you already have some?