Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chose the life you lead

One of the most common questions I get from people is "how do you do it all and always with a smile?"  Let me set the record straight... I don't.  I have days when I waver, struggles and frustrations just like anyone.  Somehow I always find a way to pull myself back up.  I chose to be a fighter. I chose the life I lead.

It's hard to believe that just 36 hours ago, I was down in the dumps.  I laid in bed Tuesday night completely pissed with myself.  Just days prior, I had an awesome 20 mile run and then somehow 3 days slipped by ... without a run.  What?!  I know, I can hardly believe it myself.  Not only had I slacked on my exercise but I ate crap. Pure crap for three days. So I did what every normal person does - I rolled out of bed at 4:45am the next morning and went running.  Time to bust out of this funk!  The dark morning hours are so therapeutic on my sole, er soul... both.  I get lost in my thoughts and the miles tick by so quickly.  By the end of 6.5 miles, I felt renewed.  I gave myself a good talking and was ready to get back in the game.

Later that evening, I joined up with my Sole Sisters. (What a comeback - two runs in one day!) Nice weather always has a unique effect on women.  We were particularly feisty that night.  The playful banter reminded me of earlier years spent on a bar stool, but this kind of "happy hour" fulfills me so much better.  Running with the Sistas has a special way of lifting my spirits.
~Photo from Sole Sister Colleen~
The company you keep will influence your life.  Choose carefully.

Mommy worlds aligned this morning... I got to run with one of my favorite friends ever. It was a little chilly and windy, but K and I ran 4 miles along Peoria riverfront trail. It was a nice conversational pace (with my jogging stroller), but I love runs like this.  I got to catch up with a friend that I don't see nearly enough and I got my run in.  Nothing I love more than multi-tasking! As we finished, Little Girl darted off towards the playground. K and I improvised to continue our workout...

With an 8lb weight ball, we did chest passes (with minor breaks to push Little Girl on the swing).  Then we added in squats and then jumps.  Catch, squat, jump, chest pass.  Repeat.

We moved around the playground for a fun morning circuit...
Who says the playground is just for kids!?!

Step-ups on the tires

Holy crap... Knee lifts.  These hurt!

 Tricep Dips

We just kept thinking up more ideas that cost us a good 45 minutes... pushups along the fence, waist turns and v-sits with the weight ball, knee-highs and butt-kicks around the playground, etc... the list goes on.  We had so much fun that I can't wait to do it again!  This will be a great workout for summer when I'll have both kids all day.  No excuses.

There will always be days of doubt and troublesome paths, but the important part is that we challenge ourselves to always re-engage.  Be strong and live life as you want it to be.  It's completely up to you and only you.  Let no one - not even yourself - stand in your way of being the best possible you.

How do you pull yourself out of a rut?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sweet Feet

Everyone has their favorites, right?  Well, when I pull open the sock drawer to dress for my run, my hand immediately reaches for my Fitsok socks.  I'm hard on my feet - running them 40 miles a week lately.  I've never lost a toenail and have had very minimal blisters (just a couple between my toes during a long hot summer run).  The least I can do is fit them with some sweet socks!

I quickly fell in love with Fitsok socks from 'first run'.  The comfortable fabric was the first thing I noticed.  The Fitsok CF2 are made of Shadow Yarn (78% hydrotec polyester, 20% nylon and 2% spandex), which transports moisture and heat from areas of highest to lowest concentration for a comfortable, thermally balanced sock.  Microban®, an antimicrobial product, fights the growth of odor causing bacteria to keep socks cleaner and fresher.

Along the bottom of the sock are FLOWTEK channels that promotes airflow on all sides of the foot.  The heel of the Fitsok CF2 sock is engineered to reinforce the shape of your heel and reduce discomfort and stabilize ankle support (Yes please!).  The top arch of the foot has a supportive fit to help alleviate foot fatigue.  The toe has a contoured fit to eliminate bunching and irritation at the end of the foot.  The entire sock provides a light cushion to prevent blisters.

Last week, my hubby asked me to pick him up his 'favorite run socks'... $15 a pair!  Um-yeah, I don't pay that for socks.  Instead I bought him a 3 pack of Fitsok socks (typical retail is 3 pair for $17) and asked him to give them a shot.
Hubby in his new Fitsok socks
He instantly liked the feel of Fitsok socks, even before taking them out of the package. While soft, he liked how thin the socks felt.  Hubby then laced up his running shoes, played Facebook games for the next two hours and went for a run.  A man of many words, his final diagnosis was, "Yup, I like 'em."  In other words, keep buying me Fitsok.

You can find Fitsok socks in most athletic stores, as well as online at Amazon or in the Fitsok Shop. I highly recommend them, knowing that you won't be disappointed.  Fitsok has also generously donated two prize packages to the Jelly Bean virtual race.  (What?! You don't know what the Jelly Bean is yet?  Head over and get signed up here.)

JELLY BEAN PRIZE: Women's Fitsok prize pack of 6 pair of socks and fun temporary tatoos!
JELLY BEAN PRIZE: Men's Fitsok prize pack of 6 pair of socks and fun temporary tatoos!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Jelly Bean Prizes

The Jelly Bean virtual race begins this Sunday... in just 5 days!!  I've heard stories from all around the country of groups gearing up for a fun run with their friends.  That's what the Jelly Bean is all about, so get your crazy outfits ready and call your pals.  Remember, the Jelly Bean is 8 days long, so you have from April 1st through the 8th to complete the virtual race.  Do one event or all four!  Race bibs will go out this week.  Haven't registered yet?  Get signed up here.  

The official shirts came in yesterday and they looked great!  All pre-orders have now been shipped out so keep an eye on your mailbox.  Due to great request, I've reopened the shirt orders for a second printing.  At only $20, these dry-wicking shirts/tanks are a steal!  Order here before Thursday, April 5!

And now, what you've been waiting for... THE PRIZES!!  Sorry for the long post, but I think you'll agree, this is worth it!  Look at all the great prizes below to be awarded during the Jelly Bean virtual race!  Special THANK YOU to these wonderful generous sponsors who believe in the sport of running.  They make virtual races like the Jelly Bean possible and free to participate... so be sure to stop by their websites and patronize when possible.

choice of color/design SparkleTech Skirt from SparkleSkirts

$10 iTunes gift card

ipod shuffle, cap and water bottle from Sexy Mom's Running Club

$35 gift card from Road ID

Sample pack of Aquaphor healing ointment, lip repair and a $50 Visa card

Bob Harper Kettlebell Cardio Shred DVD

Ultimate Hydration Pack from Nuun
(4 pack of nuun, t-shirt and water bottle)

Ballcap, t-shirt and bumper sticker from Tough Chik

Pair of Knuckle Lights

Product assortment from GU Energy

$30 gift card to lululemon

autographed copy of "My Life on the Run" by Bart Yasso

Women's 6-pack of athletic socks & tatoos from Fitsok

Men's 6-pack of athletic socks & tatoos from Fitsok

P.F. Chang's $10 gift card

Men's Reebok sleeveless run shirt

For more details on the Jelly Bean virtual race, click here.
RuN HaPpY!!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Secret weapon for your skin

As the weather warms up, I was reminded of a very important runner issue... CHAFING.  No kidding, the first time I ran in a tank top (in the beating sun), I came home with more than a good sweat.  Yup, underarm chafe... 

I can't complain too much. I used to have chafing issues in a lot more places (read an older post here).  For some reason, my underarms still get irritated when I run in warm weather.  When I forget to glide on protection ahead of time, I need relief... fast.  These little red puppies sting!

That's when I turn to Aquaphor.  

I first started using the healing ointment when my children were babies.  My little ones have been blessed with my sensitive skin, so they were always getting little red dry splotches on their baby skin.  Aquaphor provides advanced care for dry, chapped and irritated skin.  It's perfect for sensitive skin like mine because there are no fragrances, dyes and preservatives.  

Glide Aquaphor Healing Ointment on pre-run for skin protection.  I especially use this for winter runs to protect my cheeks from the blowing snow and wind.  In the summer, it helps to protect against nasty chaffing.  Use post-run to heal any skin irritations from friction or sweat.

I just recently started using Aquaphor Lip Repair.  In addition to sun exposure, I tend to lick my lips when I run.  So my lips tend to get dried out and sometimes chapped.  Also fragrance, dye and preservative-free, the Aquaphor lip repair is enriched with shea butter, vitamins C and E and chamomile essence for a soothing relief.

Have you ever tried Aquaphor?
What products do you use on damaged skin and lips?

One lucky Jelly Bean participant will win an 
Aquaphor Sample Pack & a $50 Visa gift card  
To be eligible to win, you must like Aquaphor on Facebook 
and then participate in the Jelly Bean virtual race (register here).

PLUS there is still time to enter Aquaphor's Winter Sports Gear Sweepstakes...
You could win $3,000 worth of sporting equipment!!  Click here to enter.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Perfect Day

Yesterday was my version of a perfect day.  I woke up early and got my morning mommy duties done with plenty of time and no stress.  With Little Girl in tow, I hit the bike trail by 8am for my first ride of the season. I've never pulled the bike trailer for any real distance, especially not up any hills.  When we take family rides, my hubby usually took on the duty of pulling the girls.  Not this summer.  I'm feeling pretty strong these days!

The night before, my helpful hubby got the my bike and trailer down from storage, filled up the tires and packed them in the mini van for me. When I hooked up the trailer, Little Girl eagerly jumped in with her mess of belongings... two baby dolls, Leapster game, Barbie computer, her camera, a container of snacks and a little water bottle.

It was a gorgeous morning, sunny and already over 70˚ by 8:00 am. This is amazing Midwest weather for March!  Biking with the trailer was definitely different.  It's like constant resistance pulling on your backside.  I was a little worried about making it up some of the hills on the trail, but my Spinning training paid off.  I lowered the gear and pedaled up those hills with a nice slow consistency. Of course, I had the encouragement from behind... "Faster Mommy Faster!"  We ended up biking a little over 15 miles.  It was the perfect way to spend a sunny morning. 

My biking buddy

After a quick lunch and some work, we paid our local library a visit.  I love to browse in libraries!  I could spend all day there.  Unfortunately, I don't usually get much me-time when I bring the kids.  In a stroke of luck, a children's storytime was starting just when we arrived.  So Little Girl spent a 1/2 hour listening to stories, playing games and doing a craft... and I wandered. {smiles}  I found a new running book to read (C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race) and a classic running movie (Chariots of Fire).

In the evening, I got another little escape... with my Sole Sisters!  It was a perfect evening for a run. It had been a hot day, but temps were starting to decline with the sun.  I was so thankful for the breeze once we started to tackle the hills of Bishop and Grandview in Peoria Heights. After a tough 5 mile run, we gathered on the patio of a local bar. It was so fun to kick back with my Sisters, eat, drink and laugh the evening away! Why does beer taste so good after running?
Photo courtesy of Crystal
Perfect post-run fuel, right?

Best of all, I came home to a clean house, sleeping freshly-bathed children and a happy husband.  As I crashed into bed, I couldn't help but thank my lucky stars for what a wonderful life it is.  Ever since I started the 'fit life', every year seems to get better and better. My #1 reason to keep on running...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hydration with nuun

Happy first day of SPRING!  Typically this time of year, I'm anxiously awaiting a warm day, a slow teaser into summer.  Instead the Midwest has quickly converted winter (mild as it was) into summer.  Temperatures have soared above 80 all week with a sticky humidity in the air that makes me slightly thankful for the spring winds.  I'm not complaining, but it's been a fast transition.

When it comes to running, warmer temperatures require a careful eye on hydration. I used to be the runner that said, "I can't drink while I run. My tummy doesn't like it."  Then I began training for my  marathon last July.  Yup, the heart of summer heat.  I learned quickly that in order to sustain the 2-4 hour runs, I needed proper fueling and hydration. Thus began my journey of figuring out how to make it work.  Below I share what worked for me, but remember every person is different.  That's what training is for... to experiment different methods, and find what works for your body before your big race day.

Most importantly, the day before a long run, I eat well-balanced meals and drink lots of water through the day, nothing over the top but definitely more than normal.  Rule of thumb is that you should pee often and it should be light in color.  If it looks dark like apple juice, you need more water.  Tip: Lay off the water in the evening or else you'll be hunting down potty stops during your run. I've got it just about mastered that I rarely need to stop during a run, even those 4-5 hours in length.  Amazing, right?

So last summer, I began to carry a water bottle on my runs. I wouldn't even call it drinking, I sipped... often and very little.  Slowly I got my body used to consuming liquid while on the run.  I increased the ounces with the miles. I planned my routes past gas stations or parks with drinking water for refills. All this hydration was helping, but once I reached the 16+ mile distances, I was still feeling fatigued.  Something was missing.

Then I discovered nuun.

nuun is Jess-Approved!
nuun is a small drink tab that you drop into your water bottle... one tab per 16 oz of water (my handheld bottle is 20oz so that's what I use.)  The nuun tab dissolves and turns your water into a tasty drink spiked with electrolytes - without the extra sugar.  Unlike most sports drinks, nuun has only 4 calories per serving.

What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are minerals that break down into small electrically charged particles called ions.  They are everywhere in your body that is liquid... blood, cells, cell surroundings.  They regulate your body's fluids by helping to maintain a healthy pH balance and create the critical electrical impulses essential to physical activity...  think muscle contractions.

Why are electrolytes so important?
Electrolytes are critical for any kind of physical performance.  You should be vitally concerned about replenishing them as you are with replacing lost body fluids.  The two go hand in hand.  Ever notice when you get done with a sweaty workout that your skin feels (and tastes) salty.  That's because sodium is among the body's most important electrolyte.  Now that doesn't mean douse your pre-race food with salt.  If you are eating a well balance diet, your body already receives an ample supply of sodium.  

Our bodies do amazing stuff.  For shorter workouts, our kidneys kick in to regulate the electrolyte balance in our blood despite the changes happening in your body. However, once a run gets longer than two hours in length (my benchmark), the body's supply of electrolytes drop substantially.  This will leave you first feeling fatigued and then like you can't go on. Not one more step.  Some call it "The Wall"... You don't want to hit that.

I have added nuun to my water for long runs ever since last summer.  No scientific results here, but I noticed an immediate difference in how I felt during the later miles.  I sipped on nuun throughout my first marathon and am delighted to say that I never hit this 'Wall' that so many speak of.  Trust me, it can be avoided.

In addition to long runs, I use nuun in my water during strenuous workouts. I'm pretty darn good at 'reading and listening' to my body needs.  Today, I rocked track intervals through sticky temps, a beating sun and 20 mph winds. Honestly, I was completely wiped out today after 9.6 miles. I downed two bottles of nuun  - one during my workout and one after.

Guzzling down my nuun after today's hard track intervals!

nuun comes in over 10 flavors.  They're adding more all the time that  I haven't tried them all... but I do keep rebuying Grape and Strawberry Lemonade. Orange and Tri-Berry rank pretty high for me too.  What's your favorite nuun flavor?

I was delighted when nuun came on board to help sponsor the Jelly Bean virtual race.  One lucky winner will score a nuun prize pack (4pk of nuun, t-shirt and water bottle).  In addition, every single runner in the Jelly Bean will receive a special discount code for the nuun store!!  Like you needed another reason... get signed up for the Jelly Bean here

Not only is this the coolest relay race ever, but to run on the nuun team would be amazing!  nuun announced yesterday that this year, they will be sponsoring THREE female blogger teams for the great relay race.  Hubby and I were busy last night creating our 'big idea' for my application. Have no doubt, I plan to make you laugh with it!  More details here.  Do you plan on applying for the nuun HTC team??

** Opinions expressed above are completely Jess.  No product was supplied by nuun for my review. 
I am not a doctor.  Please consult your own physician before making changes to your nutritional routine.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Book Review: My Life on the Run

I love to read at night, right before I fall asleep.  I'm kinda a busy bee with my mind locked in high gear, so reading helps to calm me down. (melatonin helps too).  It seems the only books I read these days are running books.  I have a tower of them by my bed.

Last September while wandering around the Quad Cities Marathon expo, I picked up My Life on the Run.  The book's author Bart Yasso was actually there at the event.  I chatted with him briefly and he autographed my book.  Later that night, Bart Yasso was the keynote speaker for the race pasta dinner.  It was the only race dinner I've actually ever gone to and so glad I did.  Bart is an extremely entertaining and personable guy.

I took my time reading My Life on the Run over the past six months.  Each chapter reads like a mini story, retelling one of Bart's adventures. I love this setup in a book - I can read one chapter and put the book aside.  As a busy mom, I don't always have time to return to books as often as I'd like.  

Fondly referred to as the "Mayor of Running," Bart has run over 1,000 competitive races all over the world. From his troublesome beginnings to his exciting run-in with a rhinoceros, his witty recounts will make you laugh and appreciate the sheer joy that is running.  I read with disbelief as he conquered the Badwater Ultra.  Literally, I think my mouth was agape the entire chapter.  I was fascinated with Bart's 3,000 mile bicycle journey from California to New York.  In fact, I kinda blame that chapter on my urge to start riding (hello triathlons!). Just when you think the guy can do it all, your heart aches for his crippling fight with lyme disease that nearly took his life.

After 30 years of running, the man knows his stuff. Luckily for us, he shares his seasoned findings as the Chief Running Officer for the magazine Running World.  He's responsible for the marathon training equation and interval workout dubbed the Yasso 800's.  (Read about my Yasso 800's here.)  In My Life on the Run, he explains how the Yasso 800's came to fruition.  In the final part of the book, Bart also provides training schedules and practical advice for runners of all levels.  I find his style very down-to-earth.  I think it would be hard for anyone NOT to like Bart Yasso.
Want to read My Life on the Run?
Check out Bart's website... like him on Facebook... and follow along on Twitter.

How about a personalized version of My Life on the Run?
Sign up for The Jelly Bean virtual race HERE because Bart has generously agreed
to donate an autographed book as a prize for the virtual race!!
Thanks Bart!