Wednesday, February 29


In honor of Leap Day (February 29th)...
Runner's World posted the obvious story on plyometrics on their Facebook wall. (Yes, folks. Apparently we should all be leaping on Leap Day. You'll have to pardon me if I don't take them up on that recommendation...)

Kara Goucher is encouraging people to participate in Nike + Leap Day Challenge. (Well, I normally run every day on Wednesdays anyway, so does that automatically count?)

And Zappos is offering a 4-year return policy on running shoes ordered today. To quote their return policy:
"You can return your purchase for up to 365 days from the purchase date. If you purchase on 2/29 of a Leap Year, then you have until 2/29 the following Leap Year to return those orders. That's four whole years! Woot!"
(That's a bit better than plyometrics, in my humble opinion.)

And taking Leap-fever to the extreme, at one hospital in Orlando, there was a significant increase in bookings for C-sections because parents want their babies to be born on February 29th. However, in Virginia soon-to-be-parents do what they can to avoid having their baby born on Leap Day. (While I am a Florida resident now, I cannot even begin to explain this phenomenon. Maybe my neighbors in Orlando want their children to qualify for discounted tickets to Disney until they're in their thirties? Or maybe they're just mean parents who only want to buy cake every fourth year...?)

Ok... ok... Leap babies don't only get one year older every time a Leap Year rolls around, thank goodness. Just think of what Leap birthdays would do to age-group rankings or potential to qualify for Boston...

What's your take on Leap Day? A special event or just another day of the week?

Tuesday, February 28

Gloomy day?

I started to write a "gloomy day" post about how my sunglasses haven't come out of their case in almost two weeks. (It's amazing how much of a difference sunlight makes in my energy level. I should never try to live in Alaska in December...)
Yellowstone Lake on a cloudy morning (2010).
And it's mid-semester. The 12-hour teaching days are finally taking their toll...

Plus it's taper-week, which usually makes me a little crazy anyway...

How Peanut gets to spend the day. / How I want to spend the day!
But I figured that was all just going to sound whiny.
Because it IS whiny.
"Wah! I'm tired!"
So I poured a second cup of coffee and started re-writing:

  • Cloudy days mean cooler weather for running.
  • 12-hour days mean I have a job (two, actually - and most days I enjoy both of them).
  • Taper week means my body gets to rebuild for the race. I should embrace this, instead of being bummed that I miss a 2-fer Tuesday. At this point, no additional training will make my 13.1 any better, but I sure as hell can screw it up royally if I try to run like it's not a race week.

So I'm going out for a walk.
Maybe some sunlight is filtering through the fog...

How do you deal with low energy days?

Sunday, February 26

3 x running fun

Run x 1
This morning I woke up craving a run.
Yes, it's taper weekend, and yes I had a hares and hounds run in the afternoon. But my body is used to waking up on Sunday and heading out the door. So who am I to say no? I laced up and hit the roads for four miles. Then breakfast + coffee + grading papers. (Sitting still to grade papers is much easier when I can call it "post-run rest.")

Run x 2
I swore I'd take it easy on the hares and hounds run. (Famous last words.)
I even had a beer before the run because I wasn't going to "really" run, right?
(Plus, someone replaced the usual Coors Light and Milwaukee's Best - totally skip-able - with Yuengling and Sam Adams. How could I not have one?)
An older run + beer photo, but you get the idea...
But there's something about the chase that I can't resist...
I held back for the first half but took off after the lead pack for the second half of the run. I might regret this next weekend. After all, I am supposed to be resting up for NOLA. But it was fun. And isn't that really why I run?

Run x 3
No, I haven't lost my mind. 2 runs in 24 hours is still my personal record. But I did come home to watch the USATF Indoor World Championships. A couple of thoughts...

Bernard Legat's legs move so fast that you almost can't see his feet moving. He's like the hummingbird of human runners. I could watch the video of his 3000 meter win over and over and over again. (Hubby cut me off after 5 replays.)

On the women's side of the board, Chaunte Lowe's 2.05 meter high jump was amazing and propelled her to an overall win at the Championships. Her athleticism is impressive, but it was her post-win interview that totally won me over - Lowe has spent the past year training on 3-4 hours of sleep a night after the birth of her second child. She managed to rock the Championship AND keep a sense of humor and perspective about the run-work-life balance.

What is your favorite sport to watch on television?
Do you have any athletic idols?


Thank you to all who participated in the giveaway drawing.

I selected winners using the random number generator at, and now it's time to announce the winners:

Complimentary entry into the Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon goes to:
Rachel @ Run50States
Congrats Rachel - hopefully that will help you in your quest to run a half in each state!

And the sleeves from INKnBURN go to:
I'm sure you'll put those sleeves to good use!

Congratulations ladies!
Send me an email -- coffeeb123 (at) yahoo (dot) com -- with your contact information. I'll pass that along to the good folks at INKnBURN, so they can get your prizes to you.

Saturday, February 25

New to me (cross training challenge)

It's pre-race taper weekend in the i run like a girl household, which means that Hubby and I spent the day doing anything but running (...or even leaving the house. Heck, it's 6pm and I'm still in pajamas gym clothes!)
But don't let the pajamas clothes fool you. It has not been a lazy day.
We did our taxes and budgeting for the year. Washed laundry. Cleaned closets and bathrooms. (Now you know why I didn't bother getting all gussied up into grown-people clothes...)

With no 2-hour-long training run + brunch + post-run-nap this weekend, knocking items off the To Do List seemed sensible. Showering and changing into real clothes, however, seemed totally illogical.

Speaking of To Do Lists, Kim at (Just) Trying is for Little Girls reminded me that February is drawing to a close and I hadn't yet mentioned any cross training for her New 2 U Cross Training Challenge. Last month I tried burpees for the first time (not a fan, but at least I tried).

This month, well... begin argument in my own head that goes something like this:
Um... about that. Does Speedminton count?
No because I've done it before?
But the last time I played was years ago. And we went to a new park. I've never played there before!
Could I really count Speedminton as new-to-me cross training? Notsomuch.

So Hubby suggested cardio kickboxing.
Yep. I totally missed that fad in the 90s, so it counts as "new to me" even if the concept is more than 20 years old.

YouTube got us started with this video:

Honest assessment: The trainer makes it look easy, but with 20-something moves in a row (jab, jab, hook, back push, march, front push, right left, right left, dribble, hook 3 times, whattheheckareyousaying?) I spent more time jittering like a Mexican jumping bean and laughing at my lack of coordination than I did working out.

At one point, I was pretty sure that by the end of the 30 minutes - in the confusion of the kicks and hooks - either Hubby or I would end up with a poorly-placed jab to the eye. Try explaining that black eye at work on Monday: "We were doing cardio kickboxing in the living room. Seriously!"

This video would be great for a more coordinated kickboxer or for someone who has the patience to watch it a few times to pick up the steps, but I won't be going back anytime soon.

When that video ended, brilliant YouTube suggested some other kickboxing videos.

Enter Jillian Michaels.
Those of you who are Biggest Loser fans are probably going to laugh at what I'm about to say, but...
Holy hell, her videos are FANTASTIC.

How have I been living under a rock for so long?

(Then again, I did mention that it took me 20 years to try cardio kickboxing...)
So thank you Kim - for your challenge - which has brought me up to, oh... 2004?

Anyone else a fan of Ms. Michaels?

Staying in pajamas all day to get housework done: the height of efficiency or something I should never again admit in public?

Friday, February 24

Weekend interweb roundup

via Jodee on Pinterest 
Outrun Zombies!

Have you ever wondered how to get the gamer in your life off the couch? Download the iPhone app "Zombies, RUN!" and see if that attracts their attention.
Um... yeah. I think I'll stick with hash runs thankyouverymuch, but if this app gets more people up and moving it's a winner in my book.

Public Service Announcement:
This story will make you angry, sick, sad, or some combination of all three... Let it be said that long-distance running should never be punishment for a child.

Silver Linings:
Thankfully, for every story of despicable human behavior, there are at least two good ones.
Source: via Mandee on Pinterest

Good news story #1 - Mom.Swim.Bike.Run took a pretty hard tumble during a race, and just when the day started to look very dark, she received a much-needed visit from the Dinner Fairy.

And 2 through 366 Random Acts of Kindness: One man is performing an act of kindness (big or small) each day in 2012. Day 49 is my favorite so far.

If those stories don't restore your faith in humanity, it's quite possible that nothing will.

Giveaway Goodies:
Time is running out, so get your entries in for a chance to win:

More Giveaway Goodness:
Daily Vitamin F collects giveaway information from around the web, and posts it each week in Total Giveaway Tuesdays. F's giveaway clearinghouse idea is brilliant.
(Let's hope I win the sports wash. Mama needs a clean pair of socks!)

Speaking of having a clearinghouse for blogger information...
Once I started a Facebook page for yes, folks. i run like a girl, I realized that while I follow dozens of blogs in my reader, I have no idea what the Facebook pages are for many of them. (Some blogs make their contact/follow option more obvious than others.)

So, I've been finding and adding a few each week, but I'd like to connect with more of you!
So, let's use this post as a clearinghouse for links.
(I might be opening a can of spam here, but we'll see how it goes...)

If you're a regular reader, and have a FB page for your blog, leave a link in the comments for me + other readers to find you.

Thursday, February 23

Thursday thanks

I had an entirely different "thanks" planned for today...
But then I got out of bed, stepped on the scale, and the first two digits were digits I haven't seen in a year. (Maybe longer?) And yesterday my sprint intervals were finally back into the range that I consider to be my personal fast pace (6:50 for six 2-minute intervals with 1 minute rest).

Source: via Beth on Pinterest
I don't talk about weight much because I am more concerned about being STRONG than I am about being skinny. I know that weight fluctuates with hydration, and that I can lose muscle and be "lighter" without being any healthier.

I debated not even writing about weight, because it's not the number that matters...

But I also know that I picked up some bad habits when I moved to Florida. (I mentioned this - briefly - back in November.) And those bad habits led to a 15-pound weight gain.

The scale showed a symptom of a larger problem: I was not as fit as I once was. What bothered me most was how much speed I had lost...

I spent years logging miles and lapping the track to bring my half marathon time from 2:20 down to 1:53, and I was still getting faster!

But then I allowed those bad habits creep in.
And in November I ran a 2:11 half marathon.
Image source
How did I get almost 20 minutes slower?!?
I could blame the horrible Florida weather for messing with my training.

I could blame rich Southern food for tempting me with buttery goodness.

But that would all just be a load of crappy excuses.

To be clear: In my mind, it is always respectable to finish 13.1 miles, regardless of pace.

But I know I am capable of more.

So I took a hard look at my eating and exercise habits.
I made some adjustments:
  • More vegetables.
  • Meatless Mondays.
  • More complex carbs to replace the simple ones. (Hello quinoa and barley! Nice to see you again!)
  • Weight lifting three days a week.
  • More high-intensity interval training. (Sweaty weather is no excuse to skip track work.)
  • Getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
No "miracle diet."
No starvation or deprivation.

There was no overnight change.
But after four months, I see results.
I'm leaner.
We bought 15-pound weights to add to our household collection, because the 10s were getting too easy.
My muscles show.

So I'm thankful that those numbers on the scale prove what I already know. And I'm thankful that interval training has been paying off: a sub-24 minute 5k is within reach again...

Are you a scale-watcher? A pace-tracker? Or do you ignore the numbers?

And... more importantly:
What are YOU thankful for this week?

Wednesday, February 22

Mid-week motivation

Today is a very busy day.
But I'm determined to get in a good interval workout on my lunch break. Even if it means running between raindrops. (Thank goodness I don't melt!)

To make sure I don't get wrapped up in my To Do list and lose my resolve, this my desktop background today:

What are your favorite motivational quotes, phrases, or images?

Tuesday, February 21

Fat Tuesday!

Today is Fat Tuesday.

Peanut scored some beads!
While New Orleans gets all the media attention for its Mardi Gras madness, the entire Gulf Coast goes crazy for this holiday. In fact Mobile, AL is credited with the first Mardi Gras celebration in 1703 (or 1699 - depends on who you ask).

Mardi Gras revelry was suspended during the Civil War, but was revived (again) in Mobile in 1866. Legend has it that that one man, Joe Cain, rode through the streets on a coal cart, dressed in Chickasaw Indian regalia.

Obviously, Joe was also drunk as a skunk (which explains a lot about Mardi Gras parades...)

When Joe passed on, his second funeral procession (it's a long story) was the precursor to the big Sunday parades. Now the Sunday before Mardi Gras is now known in Mobile as "Joe Cain Day," with celebrations rivaling Fat Tuesday.

To an outsider, it seems like the party just keeps adding days (but I'm not complaining)! So here's the schedule as I understand it:
Mardi Gras costumes from the Krewe of Bowlegs
exhibit in Fort Walton Beach, FL
  • January 6th, Epiphany kicks off the season. Krewes put the finishing touches on their floats. Carnival celebrations and masquerade balls fill up the social calendar.
  • Saturday before Fat Tuesday - parades and partying begin in earnest (but I have yet to hear a name for this holiday?)
  • Sunday before Fat Tuesday - Joe Cain Day (at least in Mobile, AL)
  • Monday before Fat Tuesday - Lundi Gras (You thought I made that one up, didn't you!)
  • 40 days before Easter - Fat Tuesday / Mardi Gras
  • ...followed by Ash Wednesday (also known as "hangover recovery day")

Pensacola's Mardi Gras parades are more "family friendly" than those in the Big Easy. You won't catch people flashing their chests for beads. (Apologies to anyone who was hoping for scandalous photos...)

Krewes here throw beads, candy, moon pies, and other goodies to everyone in the crowd. (A krewe, prounounced "crew," is a social club organized around creating floats for the carnival season.)
Showing off our collection of beads from Saturday's parade...
I'm not going to sugar coat it: Even Pensacola's PG-13 Mardi Gras is still a 4-day drunkfest. But it's all in good fun. There's time for being an adult the other 362 days of this year.

(Speaking of being an adult... Ok... I'll run twice today, but only until I can get my hands on some king cake!)
King cake is a holiday staple - but watch out. There's a "baby king" hidden inside.
If you get the baby in your slice #1 - be careful that you don't chip a tooth, and
#2 - you're on the hook for bringing next year's cake.
Happy Fat Tuesday!

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Have you ever celebrated Mardi Gras?
Right now my dining room looks like a bead factory had an accident... Maybe one of these days I'll figure out how to work those into a giveaway?

Monday, February 20

Postcards from Seattle (guest post)

Even in cities I've visited often, I haven't run every local trail. So, I've enlisted help from resident experts in the running travel guides series.
(PS - don't forget to enter the February giveaway)

Today, we're headed to the Pacific Northwest, where Alma (The Average Woman's Running Blog) will be our tour guide. Drop by her blog and say hi! In the meantime, here's where she would take us on a running tour of her hometown:

Coming to the Emerald City for business or pleasure? Looking for a local’s view of the city via sneaker? I’ve got three great, flat options for you, my friend:
  1. Downtown waterfront via Olympic Sculpture Park and Myrtle Edwards Park – Great for people staying downtown without a car.
  2. Lake Washington waterfront – Popular running route great for sunrise runs.
  3. West Seattle / Alki Beach – Stunning cityscape and Olympic Mountain views.
Downtown Waterfront
Honestly, running downtown sucks. It can be stinky and stressful unless you’re running early in the morning before traffic picks up. Plus, you are constantly stopping and starting at each block waiting for lights to turn (yes, we obey walk signs here). The good thing is that this is easy to escape. From where ever you are, just head west until you reach the waterfront (Alaskan Way). Cross over to the “water side,” start running north, then you will have miles of uninterrupted path to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of Elliot Bay and downtown Seattle.

Our entire waterfront is a tourist area with restaurants, charter boats, public ferries, Seattle Aquarium, parks, shipping boats, etc. You can check out all these sights as you run north along Alaskan Way. At the same time, you can see beyond the bay to Bainbridge Island and the Olympic Peninsula, with the snow-covered Olympic Mountains in the distance.
Olympic Mountains and Elliot Bay (view from Myrtle Edwards Park)
If it’s summer, you will likely see the Alaska-bound cruise ships. At the end of Alaskan Way, the sidewalk leads you right into our Olympic Sculpture Park and Myrtle Edwards Park. Off to your right, check out our Calder exhibit, with the Space Needle in the background. For the next several miles, you will have no built structures between you and the water! Just paved and wood chip path, sculptures, bicyclists, other pedestrians, and sometimes a seal or two.
On the way back into town, the view changes as you look to the south. 
Seattle skyline and Elliot Bay
This is where you see our city skyline up ahead and the Port of Seattle and mouth of the Duwamish River, filled with shipping containers from Asia. On a clear day, you’ll even see beloved Mt. Rainier.
Mount Rainier, Duwamish River, Port of Seattle
The path leads north to the neighborhood of Magnolia, which offers a brutal hill climb and stunning views. This run can be anywhere from 3 to 20+ miles, depending on how far north you are willing to venture.
Run this at the end of the day to enjoy the sunset. Bring some $ and stop in at Anthony’s Fish Cafe for a local microbrew to finish out the sunset then walk back to your hotel. If you’re a morning tourist, then run back via Pike Place market (take the Hillclimb across from the Aquarium to get there) and stop at Three Sisters Bakery for coffee and treats.

Lake Washington Waterfront
If you have access to a car and are running in the early morning, head over to Lake Washington to enjoy sunrise over the water and views of the Cascade Mountain range. If you’re visiting in summer, this is a great run to do the evenings as well. Pack a picnic dinner and go for a swim to cool off. I recommend starting at one of three public parks on the lake, each of which will provide water, toilets, swimming beaches, showers, and nearby coffee/beer stops: Madison Park, Leschi Marina, Seward Park.

If you start in Seattle’s upscale Madison Park, you will be near the Highway 520 floating bridge.
Madison Park, with view of Hwy 520 floating bridge and Cascade Mountains
From the beach, head south along the lake, hugging the water as much as you can. There are times when you must jog inland a couple blocks but if you keep to the east, you will make your way back to the water. The homes here are beautiful and this is where you will see many other runners out enjoying the views. On this route, you will have the chance to stop at little parks for pit stops, as needed.
Lake Washington path
About 3 miles down the road, you will come to neighborhood of Leschi. This is also a great place to start, and allows you to run either north or south along the lake. This section is included in the Seattle Half/Full marathon route (Thanksgiving weekend) and is a good place for spectators (i.e. Starbucks = hot beverages & toilets).
Rowing on the lake, just north of Seward Park
Another 4.5 miles down the road is Seward Park. This is my personal favorite. Seward Park consists of a large, wooded peninsula that juts out into the lake with a 2.4 mile paved trail around the perimeter. From this trail, you get views up and down the lake, including views of Mt. Baker to the north, Mercer Island and the Cascade Mountains to the east, and Mt. Rainier to the south. Also, between Seward Park and the I-90 bridge (about 3 miles), the waterfront is completely open – no houses. So, you can enjoy unobstructed views of the water. On Sunday mornings, this stretch of road is closed to vehicles to allow bicyclists to ride unmolested, so watch out for large packs of speeding bikers!
Trail along Lake Washington, < 1 mile north of Seward Park
Total distance between Madison and Seward Parks is about 7.5 miles, so many distance options here, especially when you throw in the 2.4-mile loop around Seward Park.

West Seattle / Alki Beach
For a more unique view of Seattle, jump on the West Seattle Bridge and take the exit to SW Admiral Way, following the road north, up and around the peninsula. This is a great out & back course along the waterfront for varying mileage and wonderful views. I recommend starting near the Statue of Liberty / Bath House so you can have access to toilets and plenty of coffee shops and food/pubs for post-run refreshments. There are two great runs from this starting point: north around the peninsula to Lincoln Park (7 miles RT), or south along the water to the water taxi (4 miles RT).

If you pick the northern route, you’ll get views of Bainbridge and Vashon Islands, as well as the Olympic Peninsula. Head north from the Statue of Liberty along the water, and just follow the water the entire route. In < 0.5 mile, you’ll get into a residential area and the road will bend south. Enjoy the smell of salt water, fresh breezes, and views of the Vashon Island/Southworth ferry as you follow the waterfront.
View from Lincoln Park
This route has some mild hills and takes you past some interesting homes. Eventually the road will turn into what looks like a private driveway (check out the large wood carving of the fisherman!). Continue down this road and you will suddenly find yourself at the north end of Lincoln Park. This gorgeous park includes a waterfront path stretching about 1 mile, ending at the West Seattle ferry dock.  The views of the Olympic Mountains from this park are the best in town. Once you reach the end of the trail, you can turn around and head back or detour up into the wooded portion of the park for some trail running before heading back into town.
If you pick the southern route, you’ll have views of Elliot Bay, the Bainbridge Island and Bremerton ferries, and the Seattle skyline. Head south from the Statue of Liberty along the boardwalk and simply follow the boardwalk the entire way.
Alki Blvd Boardwalk
Be mindful of roller bladers and cyclists! You will see swimming beaches (sometimes with seal pups), all kinds of work and pleasure boats, water birds, and seals. The view of downtown Seattle from this angle is just perfect, beaten only by the view you get from the Bainbridge/Bremerton ferries as you’re coming in to dock. The water taxi stop (runs between here and downtown) is a great turn-around point, giving you a little over 4 miles round trip and offers toilets and water. If you take a few minutes to stretch here, you’ll notice this is a popular spot for divers, kayakers, and paddle boarders.
View of Seattle skyline from Alki Beach

Other resources 
If those three routes don't keep you busy enough, or if you are looking for a social running event, check out Fleet Feet Running (Capital Hill), Sound Sports (downtown), or Super Jock & Jill for regular group runs and information about local clubs. The best resource for information on local races is at the Seattle Runs website.

If you are looking for more ideas, contact the Average Woman Runner and I’ll be happy to help you find additional routes.

Happy running!

Saturday, February 18

C'mon, pick up the pace!

Context is everything.

Imagine someone says to you: "C'mon, pick up the pace!"

How do you respond?
C'mon, pick up the pace!
(Image from the State Library of New South Wales with edits by author)
Well, someone yelled that very phrase at me this morning, and my response was... well... we'll get to that.

The incident got me thinking: How would my reaction have been different, to those same words, under other circumstances?

Your coach yells: C'mon, pick up the pace!
Reaction: Shame.
Coach caught you sandbagging and called you out on it. You are probably angry, but can't tell if you're angry at yourself or at your coach. You pick up the pace, even if you don't want to, because you're pissed and because coach is probably right.

Your long-time running buddy says: C'mon, pick up the pace!
Reaction: Compliance.
You dig in and find another gear to keep up. You might grumble or shoot back a "You've got to be kidding?" But you know your running buddy is right, so you push on. If it just happens to be the kind of day where you can't find the energy to rally, you also know that your running buddy will understand. Because that running buddy has seen you at your best and at your worst. That running buddy has probably seen you knocking out hill repeats like a Kenyan, but has also seen you sidelined with stomach cramps. And it's all ok.

Your race-day rival (and possible mortal enemy) taunts: C'mon, pick up the pace!
Reaction: Fury.
You want to kick the smirk off of Rival's face. You fantasize about the gal (or guy) tripping over a loose shoelace 200 meters from the finish line as you cruise by to an age group award. You are secretly filled with glee when you find out that your chip time was 20 seconds faster than hers.

Your neighbor jokes, as you run by: C'mon, pick up the pace!
Reaction: Laughter.
You know your neighbor is just teasing to be neighborly. This "pick up the pace" is more of an acknowledgement that you're out running than it is a commentary on your level of effort. You yell back: "Get off your damned porch and join me!" with a smile on your face.

A race-day spectator yells: C'mon, pick up the pace!
Reaction: Indignation.
You think to yourself: "You get out here and run you lazy F%#$@!& windbag!" and realize later that you forgot to use your "inside voice." Oops. (But, then again, the jerk deserved it.)

So, which "C'mon, pick up the pace!" do you think I heard this morning?
Do you have any context-shifted stories to share? An event that ruined your day, when in other circumstances it would have been no big thing? An event that made you laugh, when in other circumstances it might have made you cry?

Friday, February 17

Friday funnies

Life, like any good training program, requires balance.
Yesterday's post was serious, so today's will be fun and frivolous.

via Lori on Pinterest
My favorite Valentine's post was Nitmos' (Feet Meet Street) ode to his sweaty wife, and the subsequent conversation hearts for runners follow-up.
Some of my favorites:
  • Wanna Fartlek?
  • You're My PR!
  • Chase Me
  • Fast
  • Hard Core!
  • Wanna tri?
  • Run 2 Me
  • Go long and hard! (running! of course! what did you think it meant?)

What conversation heart sayings would you add to this list?

Then again, Valentine's Day is not everyone's favorite holiday.
For an entirely different spin on relationship issues...
Source: via Lizz on Pinterest

... and don't forget about this week's giveaway! Great stuff from INKnBURN could be yours. See giveaway post for details.

Now it's time to get outside and enjoy the weekend!
Source: via Kirsten on Pinterest

What's the funniest thing you saw or read this week? Or something that made your smile?

Two, two giveaways! (and a review)

Yes, you read that right. I have two, TWO giveaways. Ha ha ha ha!
This blog post is brought to you by
Count von Count and the number 2.
The friendly people at INKnBURN provided me with a camisole and shorts to review. They also want to give away a couple of prizes.

The giveaway goodies:
1 - A pair of 4ARMS sleeves
2 - A complementary race entry into the Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon (November 17, 2012).

The review:
By now you have probably guessed that I choose my workout clothes for function, not form. I'm trying to win a race, not a fashion show.

But form and function are not always mutually exclusive.
I have to admit, when I opened the package from INKnBURN, I was skeptical. The clothing looks fantastic. Had they sacrificed wearability for cool designs?
The camisole.
I was pleasantly surprised when I tried the clothes on.

The shorts fit perfectly. They are built with a flat waistband - flattering, comfortable, and no ride-up or sagging. Why aren't more athletic shorts built like this? The shorts also meet Miss Zippy's pocket standard - two pockets big enough for an ID, credit card, cash, and/or keys. (Note, there is no zip at the top of the pockets, so keys might not be secure if you start doing cartwheels. Then again, I usually carry my keys in-hand when I do cartwheels run, so this isn't an issue for me.)

My only quibble: the shorts lining is white. I prefer darker colors for my running clothes since light colors can get worn-looking pretty quickly.
The cami is also very comfortable - close-fitting without being too tight, racer-back so the straps can't fall down, and with a built in (ahem) support system. My only critique is that the built-in bra does not provide nearly enough support for my girls. Hence, this will not be a running top for me. But the shirt stays in place during down-dogs and shoulder-stands, so it has already become my new favorite top for yoga and lifting.

I also appreciated all of the important little details in the clothing. The draw-string on the shorts is a snug little loop - which means no dangling ends tangling up other clothes in the wash or accidentally pulled out. (Have you ever had to re-string your running shorts? Major functional flaw corrected in these shorts!)

The cami has a logo sewn into the "support system" that could double as a pocket for cash and a house key. (Ok. Maybe stashing a $20 in your bra is not the classiest of acts, but let's be honest: sometimes a runner's gotta' do what a runner's gotta' do.)
The logo sewn into the cami makes a great
pocket to hide some cash or a house key!
Keep in mind, INKnBURN clothing sizes run small. I requested clothing one size larger than my usual, and they fit perfectly. A smaller size would have been too snug.

The drawing:
You get an entry into the drawing for each of the following (post a separate note in the comments section for each entry):
Entries close at noon Pacific time on February 25th are now closed. I will draw a winner at random, and will post the results on Sunday (Feb 26th) posted the winners on Sunday, Feb 25. To claim your prize, you must contact me within one week. If I do not receive a response by 11:59pm on Sunday, March 4th, I will choose another winner (also at random). There is (obviously) no cash redemption value for this prize.

The fine print:
I received a complimentary camisole and shorts to review, but received no other compensation for this review. All opinions expressed here are my own. I will draw a winner, and prizes will be distributed directly by the staff at INKnBURN.

Thursday, February 16

Thursday thanks

This week begins the "tough stuff" discussions in the courses I teach.

It is about mid-semester and we've built the foundations of terminology and theory. Now my classes and I get to dive into issues of gender, sexuality, class, and race. (I clearly have strong feelings about the importance of equality. This blog's title is a play on that theme.)

From the MLK exhibit at the Atlanta airport.
Make no mistake, honest discussions about gender, sexuality, and race are difficult in any city. These conversations (in my humble opinion) are particularly difficult in the South where, as one student informed me, signs for "blacks only / whites only" still hung in at least one Mississippi restaurant until only a few years ago, and in that same town the local swimming pools still split along color lines.

But for every one-step-back story (like the church that banned interracial couples last year, or the sexist IAAF rule that tried to strip Paula Radcliffe of her world-record marathon time because she ran near a boy), there are two-steps-forward stories about breaking down barriers:

But, unfortunately, we have not reached a happy utopia just yet, so in the meantime, I'm thankful that:
  • My students are brave enough to challenge each other's beliefs and to share their own experiences with issues of racism, sexism, and discrimination.
  • They are mature enough to have these conversations in a heated, but respectful way.
  • My teenage students don't "understand" racism the way older students do, because - while scars don't heal overnight - discrimination is fading over time. Today's teens haven't seen as much discrimination as their peers 20 or 30 years ago, and that is definitely something to be thankful for.

...I'll get back to blogging about running tomorrow. In the meantime:

Have you seen any good news stories you want to share?

Wednesday, February 15

Goodies and an (upcoming) giveaway

Yesterday I received a package in the mail. Not a Valentine's gift. Not a pile of bills to pay.
The package contained a shiny, new pair of shorts and a camisole from INKNBURN.
I'm going to try them out later this week, so stay tuned for a review and giveaway!

Tuesday, February 14

Heart health and happy Valentine's

Iconic? Yes.
Delicious? No.
I'm not a huge fan of Valentine's Day.

In fact, I sort of hate the holiday.
Always have.

This "one day for love" crap makes me crazy. I usually dress in black and board up the windows on Feb 14th. I will not spend twice as much money as usual on a bland meal just to watch new couples (who will last about as long as the desert course) suck face in a restaurant. I will not buy into overpriced flowers.

(And I'm in a happy relationship, so haters can't blame my anti-V-Day sentiment on being bitter.)

EVERY day should be a day to care for the people we love.

But, thanks to the brilliance of some marketing director at the CDC, February is also Heart Month, and that's a holiday I can get behind.
Source: via Shawnna on Pinterest

Heart disease, while almost entirely preventable, is the leading cause of death in America. Heart disease causes more deaths than all forms of cancer combined. I'm a runner. Hence, I love my heart. Any holiday that celebrates heart health is a good holiday in my book!

Unfortunately, heart disease flies under the media radar. Preventing heart disease is not as sexy as saving the Ta-Tas. There are no 3-day walks for heart health. There are no yogurt-top collection drives. But heart health is every bit as important as cancer prevention...

So, this month let's ditch the over-priced candy and do something kind for our tickers!

What's your feeling on Valentine's Day? Do you agree with me, or think I'm being grinch-like on this one? (Be honest. I can take it!)

PS - I also posted a more detailed article on heart health at

Monday, February 13

Lots of miles but no running

I had a travel-busy week that ended with a redeye flight home Friday night. So I ran intervals before work on Friday and scheduled Saturday as a REST day. Circled. Underlined. Highlighted. (Just in case I somehow forgot. PS - I did not forget Sherry... I found my own way to participate.)
Dawn at the airport. One good thing about redeye
flights is watching the sun rise.
And sure enough, after flying more than 4,000 miles in less than 72 hours, my only wish for Saturday was to shower, change into pajamas, and spend the entire day on the couch.

This is not normal for me. I can't sit still through a 2-hour movie. I fidget. I get on the stationary bike or fold a load of laundry. Someday I will try to retire, and will wind up volunteering 40 hours a week...

But on Saturday I was dedicated to my task.

I would be lazy!
Peanut could be a coach for the US Olympic Lazy Team.
So my plane landed. I drove home. Showered. Changed into pajamas.
And parked myself on the couch.

It was a marathon of couch-sitting, and I won!
I managed to catch up on email and the prior week's DVRed television. I read. Hubby and I watched a movie.

I think there is still an imprint from my butt on one of the couch cushions.

Sunday was more productive (errands, cleaning, laundry) but still no running. I've had two races in the past month and have two more coming up in the next. One whole weekend off of running sounded like a brilliant way to recharge the ol' batteries.

So, in place of a Sunday long run, Hubby and I grabbed a set of rackets and headed to a nearby park to play Speedminton.
What? You've never heard of it?
Take badminton.
Remove the court.
And the rules.

And you've got the best backyard/beach/park game ever.

We played for an hour, and we haven't had that much fun exercising in a long time. Don't get me wrong - I love running. But running doesn't usually bring on belly laughs.

Diving for a wild shot or whiffing completely and catching a birdie in the nose? Belly laughs.

And laughter counts as a core workout, right?

What's your favorite lazy-day passtime?
Are there any other fun backyard games I should know about?

PS - I did not forget about the virtual Run for Sherry. I thought about her and her family often during the day. I didn't run, but I did cover many, many miles. So the frequent flier miles I earned Saturday have been donated to the Make-A-Wish foundation.

Sunday, February 12

Places to run - Colorado

I just returned from another whirlwind trip to the west coast. My 48-hour work trip to San Diego left me with plenty of layover time in airports. Rather than give in to Cinnabon cravings, I started typing.

The result: another state added to the running travel guides!
Welcome to colorful Colorado!

Hubby and I spent time in Denver and Boulder in 2009 and returned to Colorado in 2010. It is a beautiful state, with plenty of running opportunities (and some noteworthy breweries for post-run "rehydration").
CooperSmith's in Fort Collins.
If you have a favorite place to run (in your hometown, or from a recent trip) and want to guest post about it, let me know! For example, Kristin at Everyday is Run Day sent us Postcards from Philadelphia.

Mardi Gras madness and NOLA blogger meetup

Mardi Gras beads for runners!
Mardi Gras season is in full swing here in Pensacola. Homes are decked with purple, gold, and green. Some say the colors stand for justice, power, and faith. Others say the Mardi Gras colors became popular because they looked nice together, and the meaning was added later. And many just see the holiday as a cheap excuse for booze and boobs.

While I'm sure at least a few readers were hoping for scandalous photos, the holiday is much more family-oriented in Florida than it is in New Orleans. (Read: No flashing for beads. Sorry readers.)

What Pensacola (thankfully) lacks in public nudity, it makes up for in parades and parties. Carnival begins on January 6th (Epiphany) and lasts through Fat Tuesday (aka Mardi Gras).

On the Gulf Coast that means lots of weekend parades, beads, and moon pies(Then again, parades, beads, and moon pies are year-round staples here. There are just more of them right now.)
It's a Christmas parade, can't you tell?
Runners get in on the festivities, too. At race-day aid stations volunteers hand out strings of beads along with cups of water. (To be honest, I'd rather run for my beads than flash someone, so the arrangement suits me just fine.) I scored two strings of purple beads at a half marathon last month, and at last weekend's 15k I snagged some feet-shaped beads. Perfect for a runner!

Speaking of running and beads...

Who's running Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans next month?
If there is interest, I'd like to organize a blogger meetup in the Crescent City.
If you'll be there, leave a note in the comments, send me an email, or message me on Facebook.