Monday, December 31, 2012

Swing in the New Year: A Kettlebell Challenge


I got a kettlebell for Christmas from my mom. 

Of course, I had no idea how to use a kettlebell.  It came with a DVD with three workouts on it.  I was super excited to try it out.

When I did, WOW!  That thing works muscles that are usually neglected.  I loved it!


...and an idea was born.

I'm always participating in challenges posted by other bloggers--more well-known bloggers.  This time, I'm going to start my own.

Introducing the Swing in the New Year kettlebell challenge!  I'm challenging myself to use the kettlebell to show some love to those under-worked muscles for at least 30 minutes THREE times a week for the month of January and I'm inviting YOU (the handful of people who read this blog) to join me!  Tweet using the hashtag #swingin2013.

Let's be swingers together!

Hmm...that sounded better in my head.

Who's in?  Will you join me for the Swing in the New Year challenge?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

13 in 2013 Challenge

I had been thinking about challenging myself to run 13.1 miles thirteen times in 2013.  Not official races, just the distance.

Then I heard about Jill's 13 in 2013 challenge.  Thirteen races in 2013 and possibly win prizes?!  Yes, please!  That's way better than my idea!

Awesome!  I'm all signed up.

Wait.

I can't afford thirteen races!

Aha.  That's where Laura's 5 by the 5th challenge comes in: a virtual race series where the racers run either a 5K or a 5 miler by the 5th of every month from January to June.  Get this: there's a monthly drawing for prizes for that one too!

Yep, signed up for that one too!

So, I already have 6 virtual races plus two real life races scheduled.  I'm already up to 8 races and the year hasn't even started yet.

I am so excited for 2013.

Are you joining in the racing fun?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Weekend in Pictures

Friday before Christmas, we packed up all of our holiday outfits, presents, kids and dogs and drove approximately 4 hours north to my parents' house in Sterling Heights, Michigan.  Luckily, Randy's family lives about six miles from my parents so when we go up for a visit, we get to see the whole family.

Saturday: Making cookies with cousins! (Randy's side)










Sunday: Pooches in Michigan





Monday (Christmas Eve)
visiting with Randy's Grandma


with my parents
SANTA!  I know him!


My kids have Santa's eyes.  Coincidence?
Tuesday (Christmas Day)

Who's ready for PRESENTS?!






Cousins! Aleena, Ellie, Audrey, Erin and Leah

Grandma and Papa (Randy's parents) with their bunch of little ladies
Funny story: My mother-in-law wanted grand babies in the worst way.  She prayed for them, she hinted to her kids that she wanted us to reproduce....then--BAM--she got one grand baby a year for 5 years straight.  All girls.  Careful what you wish for, folks. ;-)
Cousins in jammies. Erin, Ellie, Audrey, Aleena and Leah
Wednesday: Finally HOME!
We came home to about 4 inches of snow.  First order of business?  Build a snowman!
It was a very busy, very fun trip.  I'll be busy for the next three days getting caught up on laundry and finding homes for all of these presents!

How was YOUR Christmas weekend?  Did you do any travelling? Did you have out-of-towners come to you? I'm always a fan when people come to us and I don't have to heave-ho kids, dogs and all of our stuff elsewhere. ;-)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Very Merry!

On Saturday, I got to run long-ish with Randy. It's rare that I get to spend any time alone with him. We left the little ladies in my parents' capable hands and hit the trail.


Seven miles of alone time. It was practically a date!

Good thing we burned off a few calories since this is what we have taunting us all day long.



RunChatAs if alone time with the hubby and lots of cookies aren't merry enough, I found out last week that I was nominated for the best new running blog in 2012 in the #runchat Blog Awards!

How cool is that?!

If you're on The Twitter, I'd really appreciate it if you'd head on over and vote for me.

But wait, there's more!

I'm a guest Blogger today on Fitspiration For MomsCheck it out!

So much merriness I can barely stand it!
 
The shopping is done, the wrapping is done (until I find another hidden present), the cookies are almost done....being eaten.
Merry Christmas, friends!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Oral-B® Professional™ Precision 5000 Review

Over the past couple of weeks, I've had the opportunity to test out the Oral-B® Professional™ Precision 5000.
Before I got my hands on this snazzy gadget, I was using this little number that I got from my dentist. I think it's the Colgate 360.
Why yes, those bristles are pink.
I've always been big on oral care.  I brush at least twice a day and I floss at least once a day...I've been this way for as long as I can remember.

When I was 16 or 17, I had to fill out a questionnaire at the dentist's office and one of the questions was "How many times per week to you floss?" Of course, my answer was 7+ and the hygienist didn't believe me, after all, I was a child.  What do I know about oral hygiene?  Until she looked in my mouth.

I take my teeth very seriously.  My parents spent a lot of money and I went through a lot of pain and suffering to get this straight smile; two years, two months and 27 days (not that I counted) of braces and headgear!  It was pretty awful, but totally worth it.  These are the only teeth I'm going to get, I'd like to keep them for as long as possible.

I had my very first cavity when I was 31 years old. I blame baby-induced sleep deprivation for my apparent sucky brushing that year.  Otherwise, my dentist tells me at every appointment that I make his job easy.  Happy to oblige.

I plugged in the Oral-B® Professional™ Precision 5000 to get it all charged up as soon as it was delivered.  I couldn't wait to test it out!
It even came with a travel case!
My instructions were to use the Oral-B® Professional™ Precision 5000 for two weeks before I review it, but on the very first day, I knew I loved it.  When I finished brushing, my teeth felt squeaky clean.

Really.  They squeaked when I rubbed them with my finger.

I felt like I just left the dentist's chair.

Here is what I love most about the Oral-B® Professional™ Precision 5000:
  • The clean.  It pulsates 40,000 times per minute!  My teeth have never felt this clean with my manual toothbrush.
  • The timer.  Two minutes is a long time.  I like that I can see the timer counting, I know how much longer I have to brush in the quadrant I'm working on.
  • The sad face.  Within the first three seconds that I had this toothbrush in my mouth, I knew I was brushing too hard because I saw this on the screen:
"Whoa, Lady!  You're hurting me!  Ease up, will ya?"
  •  The little flossers on the toothbrush head.  Those little babies wiggle around in between my teeth to dig out any trapped food particles.
  • The battery life.  Once my Oral-B® Professional™ Precision 5000 was completely charged, I unplugged it.  I used it twice a day for a week before the battery level fell to the bottom light.  One whole week and the low battery indicator never came on.  This brush is certainly vacation-worthy.  I will be putting that travel case to use! 

I love, love, love this toothbrush and think everyone should have one.  Right now, Oral-B has a rebate!  Who doesn't love to save a little money?! 

You have until December 31st to claim a $20 mail-in rebate.  Visit OralB.com for more information.

Go!  Check it out!
Like Oral-B on Facebook.
Follow Oral-B on Twitter.
While you're there, follow me too! :-)

Thank you, ModernMom, for this opportunity!
Like ModernMom on Facebook.
Follow ModernMom on Twitter.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Modern Mom on behalf of Oral-B and received a product sample to facilitate my review.  All opinions are my own.

Have you tried the Oral-B® Professional™ Precision 5000?  How about any other power toothbrush?
Do you think a power toothbrush does a better job cleaning than a manual toothbrush?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thankful Thursday 12/20/12

My day job:
  • five mouths to feed
  • 12 meals to dish out
  • 2 butts to wipe
  • 12 paws to wipe
  • 10 ears to clean
  • almost 300 pounds of dependant life
  • constant singing, snoring, barking, yelling, fighting
  • countless hugs, snuggles, kisses, licks
Every day is exhausting, exasperating and joyful.
I wouldn't trade it for the world.

What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Breaking a Record, Plus 2012 in Review



On Saturday, I ran my 1000th mile of 2012!  Yes, I did a little happy dance. 

I was originally planning for this to be a solo run, but I have friends who wanted to be with me for this so I changed my plan and I'm glad I did.  After Friday's events (that I really don't want to discuss publicly because it just pisses me off and makes me cry) being surrounded by 4 runner-chicks hootin' and hollerin' on the dark bike path when my watch read 3.2 miles was exactly what I needed.

I came so close to making this goal in 2011.  I had 980 miles in mid-December and strained my calf.  Sure, I could have run the 20 miles to reach my goal, but that would have prolonged healing.  I knew that marathon training for Cleveland would be starting in January and had to make a choice: reach that coveted 1000 mile goal?  Or start training on time and healthy?  I chose the latter.  It was a hard one because I was so close, but in the end I know I made the right decision.

A year in review
2012 has been a big year for me.  I did things this year that I had no idea I was capable of.  I stepped out of my comfort zone and it was amazing.  During this year, I ran two half marathons, one marathon, one 5K, one Ragnar Relay and one 4 miler.  Two of those races were PRs. (Read all of the race recaps here: ORRRC Half, Cleveland Marathon, Dash for Donation 5K, Columbus Half, Ragnar Relay Books 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Holiday Run 4 Miler.)

Lessons Learned
Of course I can't talk about 2012 without mentioning "the injury".  The hip flexor strain that played a part in the downer that was the Cleveland Marathon and kept me from running for 2 months after.  It sucked, but with the help of time and a physical therapist, I survived and came back stronger.

I've learned that sometimes the race isn't as important as injury recovery.  After 7 months of considering the situation (hindsight is 20/20), I'm not sure running Cleveland was worth the entire summer of no running.  At the time, I didn't know that the day was going to be 90 degrees and I didn't know that my hip flexor was going to take 2 months to heal.  If it had been cooler on race day and I'd been able to PR, would the 2 months off have been worth it?  Probably.

If I'm ever faced with a similar situation in the future, would I race anyway?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  It's a calculated risk, but this experience would be in the back of my mind and I'd weigh the glory of the race against 2 months off before making my decision.

A few good things came from this awful injury (leave it to me to find the silver lining).  I found that I love cycling almost as much as running. Almost.  I also found that I love volunteering for races.  The race atmosphere is exciting, energizing and addicting, whether I'm racing or not.  Since I can't afford the fees to run every race, I can still take a part in the races and support those who are running.

2012 was a pretty great year; I have a feeling that 2013 is going to be even better.

A Look Ahead
So far for 2013, I have 2 half marathons on the schedule.  CapCity and the ORRRC Half, both are in the spring.  There are a few other races on my radar, but I haven't officially (read: financially) committed to them yet.

My next big half marathon goal is to take 10 minutes off of my current PR half marathon time.  Yep, I'm looking for a sub-2 hour half marathon.  I realize that it's a lot of time to trim off.  It may not happen in 2013, and I'm ok with that, but it will happen.  I'll be working hard until it does.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to drool over my training plans that will keep me busy for the next 5 months....


Do you make annual mileage goals for yourself?  I didn't in 2011, and when I realized how close I was, I was bummed that I barely missed it.
How do you feel about 2012?  Was it a successful year for you? Even with my hip flexor injury, 2012 was pretty darn great.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Day of Remembrance

Dear Readers,
I have much exciting news to share with you, but will not do so today.

Today I will be thinking about the families of Sandy Hook Elementary School and praying for their peace as they make their first attempts at recovery and also for the rest of the country's peace as we prepare to send our young children to school this morning.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12/12/12

So today is December 12, 2012.  12/12/12.  Running 12 miles today is a must.

Randy totally rolled his eyes at me when I told him this.

My alarm went off at a ridiculous hour and I was out the door at 3:30am.  It was cold and there wasn't a soul around.  It was peaceful, actually.  I like having the place to myself, but at the same time, I hate being bored.  Luckily, Flo Rida brought his Apple Bottom jeans and boots with the fur and Taio came to dance, dance, dance, dance.

Thank goodness they were there to keep me company.  I was in complete solitude.  There weren't even any cars for me to dodge.

Me, in the middle of the street dancing.  That was the only action going on in my hood this morning.

Strange sighting: minivan in a driveway with the sliding door wide open.  I, of course, make up stories in my head why the door was left open.  Here's what I came up with: the parent of the house was unloading groceries. ('Cause that's what parents do.)  Kid is playing in the house while parent is doing all of the work, when suddenly, whoops, Kid has a potty accident.  Parent then has to change the task at hand and clean the kid up and throw Kid's wet clothes in the laundry.  When Kid is dry and playing again, parent starts cooking dinner ('cause that's what parents do) and forgets all about the van door being open.  There are probably still groceries in the van.  That's how it would happen in my house...

I considered shutting the door for the family, but then thought to myself: what if it's a trap?  There might be a psycho ax murderer lurking in the van just waiting for a good Samaritan runner to shut the van door. (Hey, it could happen!) So I just ran on by, just to be on the safe side.

Whew, the things that go on in my head...

I'd also like to mention that it's my mom's birthday today!  Woot woot!

Happy birthday, Mommy!!

Another year wiser!
Mom, me and the Little Ladies, August 2009


12/12/12
3:32am (did you just gag a little?  Me too.)
12.12 miles
2:14:12
11:05 average pace (I purposely kept the pace extra slow today.  My legs were due for a long SLOW run.)

How will you be celebrating 12/12/12?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Holiday Run at Sharon Woods Race Recap


I have been looking forward to this race for the past month.  I ran it 2 years ago and wanted to see how much faster I've gotten.

The day before the race, Saturday, I was feeling really yucky.  I was tired and nauseous all day...yuck.  I went out with friends on Friday night and ate a lot of crap.  I just can't eat like that anymore.  Because I wasn't as rested or as fueled as I'd hoped to be, I didn't have high hopes for the race on Sunday.  My goal was to beat my time from 2 years ago: 38:18.

I met up with my friend Amanda at the start, she had done back to back long runs on Friday and Saturday and didn't think she would be able to keep up with me for the whole 4 miles.  Ha!  I wasn't sure I could keep up with my plan for the whole 4 miles.

The weather was perfect, at least we had that going for us.  We positioned ourselves between the 9 minute and 10 minute pacers to start.

The first mile brought a lot of downhill.   It was clear that the 9 minute pacers were going a little faster than 9:00 pace.  Mile 1: 8:53.

The second mile was mostly uphill (what goes down must come up?).  I slowed a little and Amanda slowed a little more than I did.  I kept the 9 minute pacers in my sights and I passed quite a few people on the big hill.  The hill training is paying off!  Mile 2: 9:12.

The rest of the course was pretty flat so I picked the pace back up for the last 2 miles.  Amanda was far enough behind me that I was pretty sure she wasn't going to catch up on her fatigued legs so I focused on moving forward and passing as many people as I could (I passed a LOT of people, but I didn't count until the last mile) and trying to catch the 9 minute pacers.  Mile 3: 8:57.

Once my watch beeped at mile 3, I picked up the pace again, and again at mile 3.5.  Those pesky pacers were about 20 feet ahead of me, but I just couldn't catch them (until they stopped just before the finish line because they were a minute early, but I don't count that as a roadkill).  I passed 2 racers in my last mile.  One was a guy and he never caught up.  My friend, Kate, and her daughter were waiting for me at the finish line.  I'm sure she was a little surprised to see me round the corner so soon, when I told her I'd be finishing just before 38 minutes.  She and her kiddo cheered.  It was so good to see them.  I gave myself a little cheer as I crossed the finish line.  Mile 4: 8:25.
Thanks, Kate, for the picture and the cheering section!
My Garmin time was 35:12.  Holy crap.  Did I really just do that?!

Nope.  I didn't.  My official time was 35:11!  This PR (by 3 minutes and 7 seconds!) is going to be a tough one to beat....but I'll be back next year to try!
 

Official Stats:
Finish time: 35:11
Avg Pace: 8:48 min/mi
Age Group: 11/62
Female: 25/186
Overall: 67/271  (Double digits!  I'm usually in the triple digits overall.)
 
Do you count the number of people you pass during a race?  Usually, no, because most of my races are too long and I'd rather talk to other racers or sing along with my music. ;-)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Wordy Thursday

Wordy Thursday?  Hey, I make the rules around here...

Randy has been in Las Vegas for work since Sunday morning.  Yes, for work.  I'm sure he's not having any fun at all.  None.  And he's not eating any good food either.  Poor thing.

Squeezing in my runs while he's gone has been a little tricky, since I like to avoid the treadmill.  On Tuesday, I dropped Ellie off at my friend, Kate's house, then dropped Aleena off at preschool and ran six glorious miles before I had to feed Ellie lunch and get her off to PM kindergarten.

Today, I dropped Aleena off at preschool and took Ellie running with me.
Armed with her Princess Laptop for entertainment.
Playing with the Princess Laptop lasted about 30 seconds.  After that, Ellie asked endless questions from "why is that car running?" to "are you cold?" to "why are there holes in the curb?"
 
Have you ever spent time with a five year old?  Most of them never. stop. talking.  Mine is no exception to the rule.  It can be exhausting, especially when I have to heave-ho her 45 pound body in a stroller against the wind.
 
At mile 2, I stopped so she could get out and run with me.  She was a little less chatty...
 
Run, Ellie, run!!


When we got back home, we both felt better.

Running.  It does a body and spirit good.

2.34 miles
26:31
11:19 min/mi

Do you run with a stroller on a regular basis?  Not me.  I avoid it as much as possible.
Do you run with your kids?  What age did you start? Occasionally, Ellie will run with Randy or I.  Usually it's around the block.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I have some news!

Two weeks ago, while I was in the midst of writing my Ragnar recap posts, I received an email from the FitFluential team inviting me to become a FitFluential Ambassador!  I had to read it three times.  Then I logged out of my email and logged back in to see if the message was still there.  It was.
Let's back up a minute here. 

What is FitFluential?
"FitFluential is a nationwide network of highly influential fitness enthusiasts sharing their journey both online and offline through multiple social media platforms. Founded in April of 2011 by Kelly Olexa, FitFluential was designed to connect health and wellness brands with their ideal target market through customized, long-term experiential and contextual marketing campaigns."
Highly influential fitness enthusiasts?  And they want ME as an ambassador?  Ok, yes, I suppose I have become a bit of a fitness enthusiast...but influential?

Until this past Saturday, I didn't really see it.

I usually run my weekend long runs with friends, but no plans were made for this weekend, so I ran in my neighborhood.  Most early mornings, I'm in solitude in my 'hood.  I see a handful of cars, a bunch of bunnies, occasionally a skunk, but very, very rarely another human.  Saturday morning, as soon as I turned off my street, I saw a very bright headlamp heading toward me.

No. Freaking. Way.

We said hello to each other as we passed and I expected that I wouldn't see him again and went about my run.  I did see him again.  I saw him on every loop as he ran the opposite direction I ran.  I named him Faceless Guy since all I could see was the bright light of his headlamp.  I have no idea what the guy looks like.  When I saw him for the third time, I asked him how far he was going, he told me that he was done and asked how far I was going.  I told him that I planned 10 miles and said good bye and have a nice day.  When I got to the other side of the loop, there he was again!

"I thought you were done?"
"Eh, one more lap!"

Hey, check that out.  I influenced Faceless Guy.

A few hours later, I checked the news on Facebook.  What?  Don't you get all of your news from Facebook (and The Twitter)?  Like there's a more reputable source for getting information?

I saw that a Facebook friend of mine ran her first 5K that morning.  How freaking awesome is that?!  I left her a comment congratulating her and she responded:
@Jamie~you've been my motivation for a long time my friend. So, thank you!
To quote Kai-Lan, this makes my heart feel super happy!

I love that others are seeing how fun running and exercising can be and trying it out themselves.  I suppose I am kind of influential...on a very, very small scale.

What does a FitFluential Ambassador do?

Use social media to promote fitness and share stories of how we fit exercise into our lives.  Pretty much what I've already been doing.  Except now, I'll have to opportunity to gain more readers and followers and make more connections in the running and fitness community.  I might even get to test and review products.  How cool would that be?!

Are you interested in becoming FitFluential?
Check out the FitFluential Blog
Like FitFluential on Facebook
Follow FitFluential on Twitter
Tweet using the #FitFluential hashtag

FitFluential will be looking for more ambassadors in a few months!