Favorite Hat: Found!

This morning I peeled myself out of bed, started rummaging around in my closet when I made a major discovery. I screamed & jumped up and down, YESSS! After a week of separation I found my sacred LIVESTRONG Bright Yellow Running hat.

This hat is my personal favorite for the technical aspects, but most importantly, it has been with me when I started my journey with running marathons. The thought of losing my trusty hat left me feeling panicked.

Foxy bought me the hat at Niketown in Boston prior to the 2008 ING NYC Marathon which I ran for LIVESTRONG foundation in honor of a recently deceased friend. I brought the hat with me to NYC & ran 26.2 miles in what was one of the most exciting days of my life.

The hat has been through the GOOD in…

Mile 24 in NYC! The hat was great for my spectators, who had no problem spotting me in that crowds of New York

Johnny Kelley Half Marathon, 2009 (Also Foxy’s First 5k)

Post Corporate Challenge 2009

And the BAD

Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon – Neon Shirt + Bright Yellow hat = Running outfit fail

Marine Corps Marathon, worst.race.ever

When the hat was lost I ordered a hot pink 26.2 Headsweats hat, I’m excited for this new addition, but nothing will ever compare to my love for my ratty, smelly & memory laden yellow LIVESTRONG hat.

 

Do you have a running accessory that you simply can’t part with regardless of how old & sweaty it might be?

My (not so new) Best Friend: Garmin 405CX Review

I used to think that I was a zen runner, I would just put on my shoes and run and be happy. I’m not sure where or how I arrived at that notion, because I’ve always been a girl who is fixated on competing and constantly improving upon my last race. My obsession with competing and training hard all started with swimming.

SwimmyKimy in her natural state

I’m not sure where it came from, but there was something inside of me that loved and craved pushing myself to the limit and giving a practice my absolute 100%. I was absolutely infatuated with knowing my splits my every time I dipped a toe in the pool, whether it be the biggest race of my life or a regular ‘ole practice. I was known to haze younger swimmers forcing them to choose the harder interval with me. On occasion I also went a bit too far when hyping up teammates before a big race, oops. Oh, and on top of that, I was plain CRAZY when it came to beating my opponents.

So where the HECK did this idea come from? That I was going to just go for a run, not really know my time and be happy with that? Hmm. Seems like an ill-fated idea if you ask me.

Well, it was.

Slowly over time several of my running buddies have taken the plunge and bought a Garmin or Polar GPS watch. I was always intrigued, and I loved hearing my splits. I found myself obsessively asking friends that owned a GPS watch what the pace and current mileage total was. Finally around Christmas time I found a good deal on Amazon.com for the Garmin Forerunner 405CX. I mulled it over for a few days, read some reviews and then when Santa brought me money for Christmas I decided to take the plunge.

I know I’m a little late to the Garmin party, but here are my thoughts on the product

Pros

  • It’s small, so it doesn’t bother me when I’m running – Call me picky, but the Garmin 305 looked like a huge remote on your wrist. I’m very particular with how things fit/feel when I’m running, so I knew that wouldn’t work. The smaller/sleeker design did just the trick!
  • Garmin Connect – This is absolutely life changing. Uploading all of the data is extremely easy, almost too easy! Instead of having to where a standard watch, track my route on mapmyrun.com and then figure out my “average pace” Garmin collects all the data for each mile, elevation, the exact route, etc. Pretty much any and all data that you would want from your run. Cue massive geek fest.

  • Ease of use – After playing around with it for an entire weekend, I figured out all of the fun features & Garmin Connect. I’m sure I will continue to find new things, but for now I have the basics down
  • Perpetuating my competitive edge – Having the ability to constantly know my run stats has made me more aware of my training and I’m looking forward to using it throughout this marathon training cycle

Cons

  • Obsessively checking my pace- The Garmin is amazing, but sometimes I feel like I can’t just relax and RUN for enjoyment.
  • Loss of signal – Living in a city with tall buildings, every now and then I lose the Garmin signal. Which creates waves of panic and hysteria. But then I just remind myself,  it’s just running!

Abridged version: I am hooked. I’ve waved goodbye to the “Zen Runner” I once thought I was and I look forward to a long friendship with my (not so) new best friend. Lizzy, thank you for introducing me to Garmin. I know it won’t always be a great friendship, so sometimes I will leave G at home, but for now it’s opening a whole new world of running to me!

Do you have a Garmin? How did it change the way you train and run?

New Kicks and An Ras Mor 5k Race Recap

A weekend I’m actually in Boston…say WHAT?! The past few months have been busy, with a few weekends in NYC, skiing in NH, Maine, and VT we really haven’t had time to breathe. My apartment has been a bit of a disaster for the past few weeks, so I knew a weekend at home to take care of errands, cleaning and actually seeing friends was a must.

So after watching Duke successfully beat Maryland on Friday and a very much needed chance to sleep in on Saturday, Foxy and I headed off to run some errands. The first stop was South End Athletic Company to pick up a new pair of running shoes and use my $50 Gilt City voucher that my friend Lizzy told me about! Lizzy’s brother ran cross country in college with the owners, so there was an added incentive to check it out. The shop opened in the fall of 2009 in one of my favorite neighborhoods, so I was really excited to support a local business started by people that are passionate and running and a healthy lifestyle.

I walked into the shop and explained that I had always worn my trusty Asics Gel Nimbus, but I was looking to branch out and try other kicks. They gave me a quick foot and gait analysis and came to the conclusion that I was in fact wearing the correct type of shoe for my foot/running style- hooray! I tried on several different shoes (unfortunately I don’t remember all of the names) and even took them out for a quick spin on the sidewalk out in front of SEAC. Finally after much deliberation, I found myself struggling to pick between my trusty Nimbus or the Brooks Glycerin 8. They were both very similar, but ultimately I found myself enjoying the feel of the Brooks. So I decided to break up with my old standby’s for the time being and try out Brooks. I really enjoyed my first visit to SEAC and I am already looking forward to meeting up with them for some Thursday Speed Work outs and Saturday Long Runs. Thank you to Lizzy for the tip!

Rob and I grabbed a late brunch at Metropolis Cafe on Tremont st and ran some errands on our way back to Southie and then I took my new kicks for a slow spin on the Treadmill at the gym. They felt great and I was extremely excited, I feel as though my feet always go through a major adjustment period when I buy new shoes, but these felt perfect. I also spent ample time at the gym stretching, foam rolling and doing knee strengthening exercises to avoid a heartbreaking repeat injury to last fall.

On Sunday I woke up ready to run the An Ras Mor 5k in Cambridge. I woke up around 8am on Sunday and made myself some coffee, ate a banana and had a small bowl of my new favorite cereal, Nature’s Path Flax Plus Red Berry Crunch got my St. Patrick’s Day outfit together and headed out the door. Rob was feeling a bit off, but I was proud of him for sucking it up and going forward with the race!

I didn’t really know what to expect for this race so I set the bar very low to tie or beat my last 5k time in December which was 25:05 at the Jingle Bell run in Somerville. I was deathly ill during this race and felt like each step was a struggle, so I figured I would have no problem beating that time, but with running you really never know. I also haven’t been doing much in the way of speed training (If you have any advice on great speed work outs, can you send me some?!), only one tempo run a week, so again, who knows.

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South Boston Yoga

As a commitment to my health, one of my major new year’s resolutions was to go to a yoga class once a week. After checking out a class at my gym, Prana Power Yoga, I finally tried South Boston Yoga. The studio recently upgraded to a larger space, located right across the street from the Broadway Red Line T stop. The studio is relatively convenient for me, located on the opposite edge of my neighborhood and a 15 minute walk from my office. I opted to try the Hot Yoga class, in hopes that I would up my chances to avoid injuries this summer. I absolutely LOVED the class.

Below are a few quick pros and cons:

Pros

  • Amazingly convenient, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!
  • Great showers, changing areas, bathrooms, they were really clean and modern
  • Lockers, again, thank you!
  • Great instructors
  • Free class for first time visitors
  • If you bring a friend (who is visiting for their first time) you get a free class and so do they!
  • Absolutely NO attitude!! I loved how laid back and relaxed the staff and class goers were

Cons

  • The hot yoga room isn’t truly hot yoga. The room is warm, but it’s not to the same temperature as traditional hot yoga. The studio is still working out the details since their move in September, so this should be changing soon

That’s it for a con, and it’s not a bad thing! I look forward to visiting South Boston Yoga once a week to stay injury free! Hoooray!

South Boston Yoga is located at 36 West Broadway Boston, MA 02127

Namaste.

Prana Power Yoga: Class Review

There used to be a time when I laughed at people that were obsessed with yoga. I couldn’t fathom doing a “work out” that didn’t include challenging myself to get from point A to Point B in the fastest way possible. However, while training for the 2008 ING NYC Marathon I incorporated yoga into my training to help with injury prevention at the recommendation of some very seasoned marathoners. I found great results with this and avoided injuring myself during the four months of training. In addition, I found it to be a great stress release, and it also provided a great counter balance to the impact on my muscles and joints from running.

When I would tell people I went to yoga class once a week, they would instantly ask “Oh, do you do Hot Yoga?” I would said “Hmm, no…I tend to sweat a lot as is, so I think I will stick to normal yoga…” they would usually go on and on about how much they loved their hot yoga studio and how great it was. I would usually hear this resounding endorsement for a number of studios throughout the Boston area a few times a week. However, even the most enthusiastic story had me shaking in my boots. I still feared that I would pass out, throw up, or just disgust my fellow yogis by my intense sweating.

Fast forward a few years and multiple nagging injuries, and I was ready to tip a toe into the hot yoga pool. What really tipped the scale and made me try it was my friend Katy telling me that she went 1-2 times per week and absolutely loved it. The thought of having a buddy with me that wouldn’t judge me, eased my anxiety. When she asked me about it a couple times, I caved. I’ve done some BRUTAL workouts before, being extremely hot and holding yoga poses can’t be that bad…right?!

Katy and I made plans to meet at Prana Power Yoga at their Newton Corner location, which was located directly off the Mass Pike making for a very convenient drive from the city. There was also a street parking lot located across from the studio which is available for non residents anytime after 6pm, phew!

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Nike Free Running Shoe Review

Barefoot running is by far one of the biggest trends in running, if not the entire fitness world. So what’s the appeal? Are there actual health benefits? This is all up for debate, and there are several authorities that are passionate about this trend, maintaining that it is here to stay. The notion of running barefoot intrigues me, but it also scares me a bit. My friend Noel told me about Nike free’s and when she said she liked them, I knew that it might be worth trying.

I read Born to Run, and I know the merits of barefoot running, but I was having a hard time wrapping my head around Vibram Five Fingers. Besides, they do look a tiny bit silly! Noel has been battling a foot injury, which she discovered just a few weeks before the 2010 Boston Marathon. After running a hard fought race, she took some time off to try to heal her injury, as well as doing a little bit of research on other methods of preventing injury. When she stayed with me during the 2010 Boston Marathon weekend, we swapped books.  She gave me Running with the Buffaloes and I gave her Born to Run. After sitting on the book for a few months, she finally told me that she got into it and wanted to explore the whole barefoot “less is more” running theory.

In an email she said: “I got the Nike Free Runs. Runner’s World recommended them as a transition into the more lightweight/ barefoot running craze. I only wear them on my shortest runs where I can really focus on my form. I still go w/ my New Balance (which are still lighter than my other shoes) for hill, tempo, interval, and long runs”

Hmmm, if it’s good for Noel, then I guess it could work for me?! So after reading up a little bit on them, I decided, why not take the plunge? I told myself “If I really hate them, at the very least they will be cute kickaround/commuting shoes”

So, on a shopping trip to Newbury st I decided to pop into Niketown Boston and try them for myself. I saw they had a super cute Pink and Purple pair, which unfortunately they didn’t have in stock in my size. After trying them out and walking around the store I decided to do it, and ordered them from another Nike store (Side note: If you order anything from the Nike store shipping is free!). After about a week, I finally got my shoes, and boy were they cute!

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