Monday, February 17, 2014

The Summit Seeker: A review and giveaway!

While running even a 5k on a trail does not sound appealing to me, I'm thoroughly interested in those that do. If I wasn't so prone to being clumsy, trail running seems like the most natural way to enjoy running. I have friends who have run ultras, and friends who have crewed for those who have and the stories are just so amazing to me. I got the chance to volunteer for the NYC 60k a few years ago and seeing it for myself was extremely moving. That race was 9 loops of Central Park, I couldn't imagine what a 100 miler through mountains and streams would be like! So, when Vanessa contacted me about her book, I jumped at the chance to find out what running a 100 mile race would be like, or even running rim to rim to rim of The Grand Canyon! 

In The Summit Seeker, Vanessa Runs explores trail and ultra running on an emotional, psychological, and spiritual level. Vanessa started running to battle her demons, to heal her deepest wounds, and ultimately, to find her peace in the mountains. Her vivid descriptions of spectacular trails call you into wild places where you will find rugged beauty, expansive wilderness, and deep personal insights. Weaving her personal stories of struggle, hunger, and adventure, Vanessa tugs at our heartstrings and appeals to our most primitive drive as a species: to survive.

A little bit about Vanessa:
Vanessa Runs is an ultra endurance trail runner and journalist. She has written for UltraRunning Magazine, Trail Running Magazine, and A 100-mile nerd, an elevation junkie, and a mountain-loving nomad, Vanessa lives and travels in a Rialta RV with her boyfriend, dog, and cat.

If you want a great read about an inspiring running journey from non-runner to ultra-marathoner, this is definitely one you should pick up. It's a quick easy read, especially because you're probably not going to want to put it down. Vanessa's stories are written like you're there experiencing them with her. If I ever decided to run an ultra, she would definitely be a running partner I'd want on my side. 

In case reading her book isn't enough, you can keep up with her here:
Twitter: Vanessa Runs

Interested in reading about Vanessa's journey as well? She was kind enough to offer a book for you! Check out the giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway I was given this book because the author thought it would be something I'd be interested in (and it was!) I was not compensated monetarily for this post. I enjoyed Vanessa's story and thought you might, too, so I shared. As always, all opinions are my own. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Glass Slipper Challenge Training: Taper week!

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 2.5M

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Massage

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Rest

This week has been pretty busy work-wise. I've been trying to get ahead on projects before I leave for the The Glass Slipper Challenge. I'm pretty sure the only time I have large and last minute projects is when I'm about to go out of town. I'm a fan of ebb and flow but why does mine have to be so bi-polar?! Luckily, Tuesday I got out early enough I could squeeze in a quick treadmill run, except I was so early, I had to wait for a treadmill. Note to self: Don't do that again when you have a limited amount of time.

Thursday I was scheduled for a massage, because my legs have been desperate for one. I was concerned all week that the nor'easter/blizzard/ life suck was going to get it cancelled and I wouldn't be able to reschedule- that was the earliest I could get and it was exactly 10 days out from the race. Luckily, my appointment was during the window of no snow/rain. Of course, being me, I somehow pinched a nerve in my back by lifting my head wrong on the table. Oh how the road to hell is paved with good intentions. . . or something like that. 

I was hoping to squeeze in a short run this weekend, but that's not happening. With all the snow, there is no way I could do it outside and trekking into the city to run on the treadmill doesn't sound that appealing. Plus, our dog has me extremely worried and I refuse to leave him alone. The vet did some tests on him a few weeks ago and the spot where they took from has gotten irritated. I'm hoping by Tuesday he'll be ok. Thank goodness for the holiday tomorrow. So, no run for me even though I could really use it to burn off some of this anxiety. 

One good thing about being stuck at home is I've started packing! I had time to finish making my costumes and I'm super excited to wear them! I'm trying to leave enough room in my suitcase for the 3 new tech shirts and other random things I'm hoping to buy at the expo. 

Can you guess who I'm going as for the 10K?

I'm really looking forward to this weekend, especially because I get to reunite with this chick, and this one and I always need another excuse to see this one and Pam (even if we do live in the same city :) The best race weekends involve friends- old and new! If you're going, please say hello! Plus, B will get to be at both finish lines again. . . I feel like I'm getting spoiled. And is it wrong that I'm already looking forward to the post-race buffet?! YUM.

What are you looking forward to most on your next racecation? 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Rock-n-Roll New Orleans Half Marathon

The Rock-n-Roll New Orleans Half Marathon is one of my favorite races. I ran it in 2012 but last year it fell on the same weekend as The Princess Half and I couldn't do both. I'm so glad I got to run it again this year. It fell on my birthday weekend. Which means I got to visit my family AND run a race for my birthday- what could be better?!

Rain was in the forecast, but I conveniently decided not to believe it. I probably should have. I really need to start just bringing a garbage bag to the start whether I need it or not. Putting my phone in a ziplock bag all the time doesn't sound like a bad idea either. But C'est la vie. I hung out at in Lafayette Square (the starting village) until the race started and the portapotty lines went down (works every time!) then headed to my corral. 

Around mile 1, a girl ran up next to me and asked if she could run with me. I said sure and explained I was doing a run/walk. She looked like she was struggled a bit, so I was hoping I could distract her with small talk. Then she said "I don't think I'm going to make it"- what?! Girlfriend, this was mile 1 of a 13 mile race; ain't nobody got time for talk like that! It's cool. We got this, just think positively. She admitted she didn't train and her legs were hurting. I believe she signed up for the race on a whim, which is awesome- for a 5k maybe. But when you think "marathon" is synonymous with "race" and sign up for a "half marathon", that's not really the same thing (which is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. Race Organizers PLEASE stop marketing 5ks as "mini-marathons", this is why people are confused but I digress). We got to the 1st medical stop and parted ways. I told her not to give up on herself and kept going. I hope she finished! 

I'm really glad they didn't change the course that much from the last time I ran it. You really get to see so much of the city. Sadly, the weather didn't hold up and it was hard to really enjoy the sights. The out and back is usually filled with gorgeous houses to look at along St. Charles Ave. This is also about the time it started raining and all you could really do was keep your head down and just keep swimming. Once it stopped, you were in the French Quarter, but it was so foggy, you couldn't see any of the awesome landmarks.

You could barely see Rocker Dude until you were right up next to him.

We ran past the St. Louis Cathedral but you would've never known.

I should've stopped, there was no line!

Once we turned on to Esplanade, the weather got a little better. It was still a little warmer than I would've preferred, but I figured it was good training for The Princess Half at the end of the month. I kept trucking along, trying not to push myself. I just wanted to enjoy the city and try not to get hurt. My hips and knees were achey but nothing too painful and I wanted to keep it that way.

I also noticed the water stops were all on one side of the road, which was weird and kind of annoying. Now that I think about it, I didn't see a Gu station either, but they might have run out by the time I got there. I did see a salt station, though, and that was awesome! 

Once The New Orleans Museum of Arts was in my sights, I texted my family to let them know I was close to finishing. Having them at the finish line was definitely one of my favorite things about the race.

Loved having my family at the finish line!

We stopped at the merch tent and I noticed they had finisher's shirts, which I definitely needed in my life. I think this is the norm at Rock-n-Roll races lately, and I love that they're doing it! Again, I'm a sucker for my hometown merch. Rebirth Brass Band was one of the headliners for the post race party but sadly we couldn't stick around to catch them. My post-race meal was going to be my mom's cooking (and I helped!), so we had to get going. 

I forgot to mention in my expo recap that Rock-n-Roll had special bibs for all of the legacy runners (people who have run all 5 races since Rock-n-Roll took over) as well as a couple of commemorative items for them. Kudos, Rock-n-Roll! What a great thing to do for your loyal runners. I hope they keep it up, and offer it for other cities as well. 2 more years and I can be legacy for RNRBK ;)

If you're looking for a great excuse to add a new race-cation to your list, I highly recommend this one. When the weather is nice, you get a great look at a lot of New Orleans and the post-race meals are endlessly delicious no matter where you go. For me, it's the perfect excuse to squeeze an extra trip home during the year and I will continue to try to make it as often as possible. 

Where else can you get your medal on a Mardi Gras bead? 

Does your family come to your races if they're in town?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Cook&Go Culinary Studio

I was really excited when I got the invitation to attend Cook&Go because it would force me into learning something new to cook. The menu in my apartment is in desperate need of a refresh, the healthier the better. It's easy for us to fall back on what we know how to make and what's quick. Full disclosure: I am not usually the cook (more like the sous-chef), but I try! I figured attending would be a perfect way to expand our menu and have some fun while doing it.

A little bit about Cook&Go Culinary Studio:
After several years of expansion in France, the NYC location (
443 W 16th St between 9th and 10th ave) is the very first Cook&Go Culinary Studio in the United States. They offer workshops for anyone who is looking to improve their cooking skills, or who just wants to learn a new set of dishes (and eat them!) You’ll be cooking up individual dishes on the spot and be given the recipes to make the meals at home. At Cook and Go, you make the entire meal, not just a part of it.

Bonus? Everything on the menu for the night sounded delicious and I'd have a chance to make it myself!

Our menu was:

  • Chickpea Burgers and Tahini Sauce
  • Spinach, apple, carrot, ginger smoothie
  • Raspberry filled shortbread sandwich

Like any awesome meal, we started with desert- making it that is. This is about the point when I realized I was way out of my league. I was a little overwhelmed at how fast it was going and wanted my dishes to be perfect. Once I let go of the fact I was not going to be the next Top Chef within 90 minutes, I started to enjoy myself. Our teacher was awesome, she made it an extremely laid back environment all while being extra informative. The company was great as well, but when is it not when bloggers are involved?! 

We moved on to the chickpea burger, who knew they were so easy to make?! It's definitely going to be added to the menu at my apartment! But even better than the chickpea burger was the Tahini sauce. None of us could get over how delicious it was! The list of ingredients for everything we made was so short, it's almost embarrassing that I hadn't thought to make it before. 

Next on the list was the smoothie, which was what I was looking forward to making most. I've been wanting to get a blender specifically for green juices for awhile and I think this was the push I needed. I don't know why I thought it was so complicated. I've been hesitant about making it because I'm not a fan of chunky or pulp, but it wasn't as bad as I thought. We used an immersion blender to make the juice; which I found out is usually used for soups, not so much chopping fruits and vegetables into smooth green juices. Honestly, I didn't mind the pulp as much as I thought I would. I'm pretty sure I need to get a regular blender now. 

Proof I did it!

The final products!

If this was a normal class, we would've packed up our dinner and left (hence, Cook&GO). When the weather's nice, most people take their dinner and eat it on the Highline, which is only a block away. I'd probably want to eat it ASAP instead of waiting to get back to Brooklyn, but that's only because I spend the last hour and a half drooling over the food. Since this was a private event, we got to eat there and I just couldn't believe how delicious it was. 

Brittany, Kimberly, Bridgitt, Our Awesome Teacher!, Carly, Me and Amanda!

This event was really great and I appreciate being invited. I'd definitely go back; it would be perfect for a girls night out or a date night. If you're interested in attending a class, which I highly recommend, use code BLOG14 for a 15% off. You can set up an account and every time you go, your recipes will be there.

Have you ever gone to a cooking class before?

I was invited to this event and enjoyed it so much, I wanted to share my experience with yall. I was not compensated or required to write about my experience. As usual, all opinions are my own.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Glass Slipper Challenge Training: week 19

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Zumba/ Zumba Tone

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Yoga

Sunday: Rest

The start of the 2 week taper! Or my schedule just didn't work out this week. I'm a fan of the former :)

Monday we were tourists through New Orleans and Tuesday was a travel day. Thursday, I couldn't stomach running so I took two Zumba classes. The second one was Zumba Tone, which was awesome until the day after. Surprisingly, my thighs were killing me; I thought it was going to be my arms and abs. 

When the time came for a long run this weekend, I decided against it. My knee has continued to give me trouble and I'm trying everything to get it in better shape for Princess weekend. The back to back half marathon weekends are definitely taking their toll. So, I spent extra time rolling and I think the beginner yoga DVD helped- I've noticed if you want yoga for stretching, do beginner. They spend much more time in each pose to get your familiar with them, hence a nice long stretch session. 

Better to chill out this week than get injured and not have time to recover. 

How was your week?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Rock-n-Roll NOLA Expo

Last Saturday was an extremely long day. We had a super early flight WITH a layover. I've been extremely spoiled with scoring direct flights in the past, but not this time (anyone else noticing flights are terribly priced lately?!) Layovers are always so draining and doubles my chances of getting motion sick. But I digress. We made it to New Orleans in one piece and headed straight downtown to The Convention Center to meet up with Fred for the expo. 

Brooks had their Run Happy Island set up which is always a good time. 

I really wanted to get my sister fitted for running shoes via the treadmill (apparently that's not a thing in New Orleans running stores) but the line was wayyyy too long. So instead, we got our passports, ran up the mountain and I finally got the coveted foam finger I've been wanting since RNR Philly. YaY! That will come in handy the next time I spectate a race. 

I was also impressed with their merch selection. But then again, I'm a sucker for anything that says NOLA (or Brooklyn). My sister bought me the teal race jacket and B got me the grey pullover hoodie (I wish they offered that one in women's cut, but it's cute either way) as early birthday presents. I also had to have the medal replica pin and magnet because that medal is definitely in my top 5 favorite medals of all time. 

I did get to stop by The Sweaty Bands booth for a race specific headband, which they did not have but they did have a black and gold one that said "Run New Orleans"; good enough for me! My sister did admit this booth was also one of the main reasons she wanted to come to the expo. I  got her a sweaty band for Christmas and now I think I've created a monster!

The new Heavy medals were also on display, further confirming my need to have them in my life. I'm so glad they've finally upgraded their medal ribbons, including on the heavy medals. 

It was also really great getting to finally meet Karen

We've run so many of the same races but our paths never crossed. Hopefully I get to see her again in Florida for Princess weekend.

They were also offering taste tests for the Gumocracy promotion. I voted for the Salted Watermelon. Apple Cinnamon was the runner up because I just couldn't stomach the taste of coffee in a gel, even if I'm slightly obsessed with the salted caramel.

On top of that, Rock-n-Roll introduced their new social app for this race weekend. I was a little confused as to where things were being shared, but it seems to be only within the app itself, unless you specifically chose either twitter or facebook, which is nice. The more hashtags you shared, the more badges you could earn. I know I'm a fan of searching race hashtags, whether participating live or virtual, and I like that this app collects those posts in one place. There seems to be some glitches (the app crashing when you try to upload photos) but I think it will be really great when they're cleared up.

Another new to me was the race information guide only being available digitally. I'm not a fan, specifically for this race. My family and I liked the convenience of the printed guide. Trying to explain to them where on the website to find the information they'd like to know is hard enough for me to find, much less for someone not familiar with race websites and/or The Rock-n-Roll brand. The last time I ran this race, my family really enjoyed reading up on it and I liked that they liked being involved, so not having it was kind of a bummer. If I'm on a regular race-cation, I like not having to use my data or phone's battery life to read the race information as well. Hopefully they bring them back.

Once we made our rounds through the expo, it was time to meet my parents for lunch; I was starving! We got to check roast beef po-boy and shrimp po-boy off the must-eat while I'm in town list. 

After the delicious lunch, we took a quick ride on the streetcar. Normally, I'd prefer to keep the sightseeing/ time on my feet until after the race, but it was B's first time visiting and we had a limited amount of time to pack in a ton of things!

On the way back to my sister's we made our first of many stops for beignets. Then it was time to get ready for my brother's surprise 30th birthday party (he's birthday is a week after mine, but we wanted to have the party while B and I were in town)

No rest for the wicked! 

Are you a fan of a printed race guide? Which Gu flavor would you choose?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Fitness, Fun, FITBIT event hosted by RadioShack

Last week, I was invited to The Fitness, Fun, FITBIT event hosted by RadioShack, FitBit and Sol Republic headphones. It was located at one of RadioShack's new concept stores (81st and Broadway). These are new boutique stores they will be rolling out all over the country soon. The new layout is open and bright with lots of interactive areas for costumers to test out all the different technologies. These stores look and feel like a modern technology store should. The quote of the night for the new look was "this is not your dad's Radioshack."

Fitbit had experts on hand to showcase their high-performance wearable devices and products. In case you aren't familiar, Fitbit's tools measure personal metrics including real-time stats that monitor steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, stairs climbed and active minutes throughout the day. It makes it easy to track activity, sync stats, see trends and reach goals. I'm a fan of my FitBit Flex, but have my eye on the (semi) new, Force- it has a screen and it tracks elevation on top of what the Flex tracks. They also mentioned that they will be partnering with Tory Birch for a line of accessories. Can't wait to see what those will look like! 

Sol Republic headphones were also on display. This brand was new to me, so it was fun learning that you can pick and choose the color headbands you want! I got to test the headphones at the display, which is also a new feature for all of the new Radioshack concept stores. Sol Republic introduced us to their new style of in-ear headphones, The Relays. They're specifically made to seamlessly work for everyday and for being active. A pair was graciously given in our gift bags and I've already run in mine. They're really comfortable and the sound quality is amazing. They should be to retailers starting in March if you're interested. 

The event was full of great information and really fun! 

Thanks again for inviting me!

I was not asked to write this, I just wanted to tell yall about the new exciting stuff coming in technology. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

(3 Things) in New Orleans

This past weekend was B's first time in my hometown. So, after the race, we spent a lot of time being tourists. It's always fun to make it a point to do the touristy things every now and then. It's fun see what's changed. Downtown New Orleans has changed a LOT since the last time I visited (a lot more commercialized and tourist friendly), so it was cool to see that. We really enjoyed our time and wanted to share with yall what our highlights were. . . so here are 3 things B really liked in New Orleans: 

The Beignets. The Cafe au lait. The Beignets. 

But really, the cafe au lait. I forgot how good coffee with chicory is and that was definitely the deal breaker for which beignet location we prefer (Morning Call's coffee is better in case you're wondering). I think I ate more beignets throughout the weekend, than I have my entire adult life. And I'm totally ok with that. 

The streetcar. 

The fact that the seat-backs actually moved depending on which way the streetcar was going, entertained her immensely.

This photo. 

You can thank my sister for this gem, as she decided to show B a bunch of my baby pictures. That's what I get for letting her visit with my family :) 

What's your top 3 things in New Orleans? 
Favorite thing about visiting your hometown?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Virtual runDisney Blog Hop: Training for the Princess Half Marathon weekend

Welcome to Didi and Patty's Princess weekend blog hop! In this edition, I'm going to be talking about Training!
Virtual Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Blog Hop Directory

Whether it's your 1st race, or your 50th, you should always have a training plan. But before you get a training plan, you should consult your physician about starting any exercise routine. And while we're disclaiming, I am not a doctor or a dietician or anyone who should be the last word in YOUR training success. All runner's are different. The runDisney/ Jeff Galloway plans work well for me, but not everyone. You should ultimately pick a training plan that works best for you. What works for me doesn't work for everyone BUT I'm all about sharing the wealth when I do find what works for me, in case it might help you.

Did you know runDisney, with the help of Jeff Galloway, puts together training plans for each of their races? This includes all the race Challenges! Since I'm signed up for the Glass Slipper Challenge, it's what I'm using.

My first experience with back to back races was the 2011 WDW Half Marathon on Saturday and the WDW Marathon Relay on Sunday. Honestly, it didn't turn out so well. I  thought it was ok to just throw in a couple of back-to-back 8 milers into my training and be done with it. In other circumstances, that might've been fine, but I was also pre-race injured. Let's just say, that second leg of the marathon relay was NOT pretty and I'll never look at Oseola parkway the same again. I've found the key to challenge training for me is to incorporate early on a lot of back to back training runs. The more accustomed your body is to it, the better you'll do on race days.

Which is why when the inaugural Dumbo Dare Challenge rolled around, I thought it would be a good idea to look at the runDisney plan. The plan sounded extremely similar to what I was already doing, so why not? I loved that it was more of an intermediate runner plan, with high and low mileage weeks instead of just increasing miles. It also incorporated back to back runs early, which really helped ease my body into it. . . instead of just throwing it in and expecting it to react positively. I felt extremely prepared going into Dumbo and just wish the weather would've been more cooperative.

These plans are also known for taking you higher than the mileage for the race (ie. the marathon plan will have you running up to 29 miles and the half up to 14). While there are MANY training plans that do not go above 10 for half training/ 20 for full, and that's  perfectly ok, I think mentally being prepared knowing you can run the entire distance might be helpful in some cases. Not ready for all those miles? That's ok, too! I've also heard many people customize these plans to stop at the 20 mile training week and then proceed to taper. For me, The 14 mile training run worked perfectly since I was training for The New York City marathon as well.

When it came time to start training for Princess weekend, I took the Dumbo plan and moved the dates around (until runDisney updated their site). If you've been following along during my weekly updates, you'll know my training hasn't been going as "on schedule" as I want, but that's life. You make do as well as you can with what you've got and hope for the best, right? I think I've gotten enough solid back to back training runs in to get me through. This race weekend is also about having fun and enjoying the experience. There will be no PRs or Boston qualifying times for this gal. The least amount of pain post-race to enjoy the rest of my time on vacation is the goal.

And speaking of my weekly training updates, I've found they are extremely helpful in keeping me accountable. I know they're not the most popular blog post to write or read, but for me, having to admit what I did or did not do for training helps motivate me to not skip.

Are you running The Princess weekend? What's your training plan looking like? If you're looking forward to the weekend as much as we are, be sure to enjoy the rest of the blog hop. There are over 30 bloggers with 30 different topics!