Showing posts with label fitness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fitness. Show all posts

AfterShokz Aeropex Running Headphones Review

Aeropex AfterShokz Headphones

Do you ever feel like you get incredibly lucky from time to time?  Well, one night back in December, I was participating in a Twitter chat and at the end of the chat found out I had won a pair of AfterShokz Aeropex headphones.  I was so excited!  For years, I've heard about the quality and wearability of these popular headphones, but I hadn't had the chance to try them.  When they arrived, I had to celebrate with an unboxing. . .

Castaway Cay 5K - What to know before your run!

We're fresh off our latest Disney Cruise Line vacation in January 2020 and during our sailing on the Disney Dream we made a stop at Disney's Castaway Cay - a private island paradise in the Bahamas!  This island has it all. . .sun, sand, crystal clear water, food, a kids club, and much more.  But running friends will be happy to know that there is a FREE, yes you read that right, FREE 5K run available on every stop at Disney's Castaway Cay.  This was my second time participating in the run, but while many things remained the same, a few have changed and it's important to note what you need to know before you run.

It's a fun run, not a race - If you're a regular reader here, you know my deep love of runDisney races.  Alas, this is not considered a runDisney race.  In fact, it's considered an "onboard activity" for cruise guests.  When you are planning all of your cruise activities on the Disney Cruise Line website you can "register" for the race.  Once on board, stop by guest services and pick up a waiver that will need to be completed before the race.  Or, you can walk up to the race start and get the waiver to fill out.  Trade your completed waiver for a bib and you are good to go.  The start is a simple "1, 2, 3. . .Go!" announcement and there is no chip timing - just a simple clock at the start finish area.  

But you do get a medal! - The other thing you probably know about me is that I care about the bling. . .deeply.  All finishers in this fun run will get a fun rubber medal.  Yes it's only rubber, but it has a cute ribbon and a fun design to commemorate your accomplishment.  I mean, you ran on a cruise vacation while most people on cruises only run to the buffet line!  Wear it proudly and be sure to stop by and see the characters around the island after your run for some pictures showing off your bling.

Getting off the ship - So this was a change from the last time I ran this particular event and the guest services staff told me it started just a few months ago.  In the past, runners would receive a "shore excursion" ticket the night before and meet in a specified lounge around 7:45.  As soon as the ship was cleared, the runners disembarked first together as a group to take the nearly 10 minute walk to the start line.  That's in the past now.  Runners just meet up at the start line which means that you have to join the pack of people exiting the ship when it's cleared at 8:30 and make your way very quickly to the starting point near the bike rentals.  I have to say, I was not a fan of this change. . .even if I got to sleep in an extra 30 minutes!

This run is for everyone - You will find serious runners here who go all out and others who are 100% walkers just looking to stretch their legs with some exercise and take home a unique cruise souvenir.  I know sometimes we all find ourselves being self-conscious with our abilities, but don't be nervous about joining this fun run.  The course is a super simple out and back and the island terrain means you will encounter no elevation change whatsoever.

Speaking of the island - Regardless of what time of year you run, there are a few things to keep in mind.  Even with an 8:50AM start time, you are running on an island. . .in the Bahamas.  It's hot and oftentimes it humid.  The sun is intense most days too.  Even the walkers in this event want to take hydration very seriously.  Think about it in the days leading up and drink plenty of water on board.  Along the course of the fun run, you pass a water aid station 4 times - take advantage of it!  I saw a lot of people stretching out cramps along the way.

The Castaway Cay 5K is truly a family fun event that casual and serious runners will want to check out on your Disney Cruise Line vacation.  Kids as young as 10 may participate.  If you need a space to check-in younger children while you run, Disney has a kids club, Scuttle's Cove, on the island which is open as you make your way to the run.

You may also want to pack some extra money for the race apparel that you'll find at the finish line! There is a cute collection of hats, tanks, tees, and long sleeve shirts along with pins and much, much more to further commemorate your fun run on the island.  I picked up a Castaway Cay 5K hat to bring home as my cruise souvenir and something I can use on cold training days to remind me of the island vibes this run leaves you feeling!  Enjoy the scenery, the fun, and the bling. . .then enjoy the sun, sand, and drinks!


Baltimore Running Festival - Things to Know Before You Go!

I just wrapped up my third Baltimore Running Festival and it was less than a great showing from a performance standpoint.  I went into the weekend undertrained and well aware of that fact so I ran some and walked liberally to my 2nd slowest half-marathon time yet.  But, I finished and still had an amazing time - that's what's important!! So instead of making this the typical race recap post, I'm going to shed a little insight to things you should know about the Baltimore Running Festival in case you decide to run in the future!

Registration - Registration is easy and on the relatively inexpensive side if you do it early enough.  This race is organized by Corrigan Sports Enterprise (CSE), which organizes several other races around Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic.  When you register for the Baltimore Running Festival, you'll also see this race connected with several other.  You can register for the Maryland Double or the King Crab Challenge as well if you're interested in competing in multiple races during the course of the year.  For the Baltimore Running Festival, you can find a race distance regardless of your ability - 5K, Half Marathon, Marathon, Team Relay, and even the BaltiMORON-a-thon (running both the 5K and Half in the same day).  Thinking about registering?  Keep your eyes open during the holiday season as previous years have seen race discounts as deep as 25% for a 24-hour period during the holiday shopping season!!

Premiums & Bling - Each year the Baltimore Running Festival provides top notch premiums from one of our favorite Baltimore companies, Under Armour.  Runners for the 5K and Team Relay each receive short sleeved tech shirts, while half and full marathon participants get long sleeved tech shirts.  And then, there are the medals!  In recent years, the Baltimore Running Festival has celebrated Maryland's unofficial state symbol, the crab, with their designs.  As the final leg in the Maryland Double and the King Crab Challenge, you'll hear lots of runners walking around with "clanging" medals after the race.

Getting Around - In each of my three Baltimore Running Festivals, I've had different transportation experiences on race day.  My first year, I ran the 5K and was on the road into the city in the early morning hours.  Traffic was backed up and it took a while to get into the city, but there was ample parking at M&T Bank Stadium that was free.  Getting in and out of the city isn't super easy on race day with road closures though so plan with ample time on both sides of the race.  The second time I ran, my husband and I got a hotel room at the Hilton the night before.  This was the year I ran the BaltiMORON-a-thon and was a fabulous option.  We could sleep in a bit on Saturday morning, walk right out of our hotel just a few steps to the 5K start and had a warm place to hang out and relax between the 5K and the half.  This year, I was only doing the half and opted to take the Metro into the city.  This was a super easy and effective option.  If you know me at all, you know I despise city driving so I couldn't have been happier to park in Owings Mills and take the subway in from there.  This may not be a good choice for 5K or full marathon runners though depending on how early you need to get into the city and when the Metro begins it's service that morning - be sure to check the schedule!

The Course - Is it just me or does Baltimore get more hills every time I run there???  You will certainly find your fair share of hills throughout the course.  The fist half of the course trends uphill so be sure to train for them.  On the plus side, what goes up must come down, so the the back half of the course trends down hill.  One of the prettiest parts of the course is the run around Lake Montibello.  This is such a serene half-way mark on the course and features the best aid station - energy gels!  Well, maybe that's the second best aid station.  Who can forget about the munchkin mile presented by Dunkin' Donuts?!?  I usually pass on donuts during the race, but decided to stop and smell the sugar this year with any time goals being nonexistent anyway.

The Best of Baltimore - This may be my favorite part of this race.  Baltimore doesn't always get the best press, but this event brings out the best in the city!  First of all, the support from the police department and other first responders is top notch.  There were countless cops who not only worked to block intersections throughout the city to keep runners safe, but they also joined in on the cheering and the fun.  Neighborhoods came together to throw some of the absolute best block parties - from music screaming from speakers, to costumed dancers, to children giving high fives, and endless cheers and applause, it was certainly a sight to be seen and helped motivate everyone regardless of how fast you were running.

Despite the tough terrain, Baltimore is one of my favorite running events - for all of these reasons and much more!  I hope to see you in Charm City sometime soon!!

Frederick Running Festival 2019 Half Marathon

The sun did not shine
It was too wet to play
So we ran through Frederick
On that wet, wet, wet day

Okay. . .so maybe that's not exactly how Dr. Seuss wrote it, but that's my adaptation to intro you into a recap of the 2019 Frederick Running Festival Half Marathon.  I had never run a race before that rained (and rained hard!) most of the race, so this was definitely a first.  Let's recap - the good, the bad, and the wet!

This was my third time participating in the Frederick Running Festival. In 2014, I ran the Twilight 5K and in 2016 I completed the Nut Job Challenge by running the Twilight 5K on Saturday night and the half marathon on Sunday morning.  I've always enjoyed this race weekend for several reasons - number one probably being the company I get to keep when running!  Several of my friends participate in this race each year so it truly is a fun filled event.  In fact, one of the couples we are closest with lives in Frederick and play host to a pasta dinner on Saturday night and open their house to runners to sleep at the night before the half.  I also really enjoy the course in Frederick, or at least the first 10 miles of it.

Miles 1 through 10 of the race are ran primarily through the streets of downtown Frederick.  Whether you're running through the shopping and dining district or winding through neighborhoods, the course always brings out a good number of fans and the time in town passes quickly.  The last few miles of the course though are brutal.  The course opens up to basically be wide open road.  With all visual interest lost and a pretty terrible uphill climb through mile 11, it's easy to quickly fade out, especially in the rain.

So let's talk about the rain for a minute.  We knew a few days out that weather forecasts were predicting a soggy half marathon, but forecasts only increased rain totals as the hours drew closer.  Having never run a race in this type of steady and consistent rain before, I was seeking advice from my more experienced friends.  Armed with anti-chafe cream, a hat, and my poncho I took to the starting area ready to get this race started and finished.  Maybe the rain would motivate me to run faster?  About 5 minutes before the race started, the skies opened up big time.  As I'm standing at the starting line, I'm watching rain pour from gutters of the surrounding buildings and realize I'm already accumulating puddles of water in my already soaked shoes.  It was at this time I started to think that I had made a tremendous mistake.  Luckily, the rain eased up as the race began and by a mile into the race, it was a steady, but slow rain.  It picked up again around mile 6 and I was again trudging through a downpour for about 2 miles.  The highlight of that stretch was one of the volunteers standing outside cheering us on with the song "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" blaring from his car!

After mile 8, the rain again slowed to a more manageable amount, but by this point I was thoroughly soaked and tired and I slowed considerably for the final miles of the race.  I was ahead of pace for where I wanted to be until then, running on average around 11:30 miles, but slowed to over 12:00 miles and then eventually closed in on the 13:00 mile pace.  I think I really need to build in some speed work before my next half because when I tried to "kick it in" at the end, I had nothing - no next gear whatsoever.  Despite this collapse at the end and the conditions, I actually set a new PR by 11 minutes, besting my previous time of 2:53 with a finish of 2:42.


Overall, I would say the day was a success.  With a new PR firmly in hand and proving to myself that I can conquer the weather, I was pretty pleased.  However, I think my favorite part of race day was the hot shower that was waiting for me at the end followed by the big greasy cheeseburger from McDonald's - and the bling! And a great perk post race is that Care First provides runners with FREE, yes FREE, race photos!   Missed the Frederick Half Marathon, but still looking for more great races in Maryland.  Corrigan Sports, the group that hosts the Frederick Half Marathon, also has both the Baltimore 10 Miler and the Baltimore Running Festival coming up in the weeks and months ahead.  If you're interested in learning more about the Baltimore Running Festival, check out my referral link here!

Training Plans!

Time to lace up those training shoes, Mickey!
One of the best things about keeping a blog are the connections you make with others along the way.  I've met so many fabulous "virtual" friends over the years who share both a love of running and a love of Disney with me.  So in the spirit of connecting with others, I'm starting a weekly post this year that will allow me to share my week in training.  My hope is that this will be a place where I can hold myself accountable by publicly sharing what's going on with my running while also hoping to create a community space where all of you who are also enjoying the ups and downs of a fitness journey can share your own stories.

So here we are at week one - let's talk 2019 goals first.  Actually, to tell the story of my 2019 goals, I need to tell you a 2020 goal.  I'm planning to run the Walt Disney World Marathon in January 2020 along with the Castaway Challenge which means that 2019 is a year for me to seriously pile the miles back on!  I generally do better sticking with a training plan when I have a race to train for so I have two half marathons on the books this year.  In May, I'll be running the Frederick Half Marathon.  This race was my very first half back in 2016.  I'm also signed up for the Baltimore Half Marathon in October.  This will be a return to this race after a three year hiatus.  By completing both of these races, I'll also earn the Maryland Double medal.  And, because I love medals and it's really only one more race, I may add the Baltimore 10 miler which would get me "King Crab" status for the second time.  Ultimately I'm running Maryland in preparation to runDisney again in 2020!
Pretty much. . . #truth

Those of you who have been following me for several years now know my deep love of Jeff Galloway and his training plans so it should be no surprise that I'm once again turning to him for guidance on my training this year.  While I continued a regular exercise routine in 2018, I didn't run any races, so I'm back at staring in square one for half marathon training.  I'm following Galloway's Beginner Half Marathon training plan that can be found on the runDisney website.  It's a 19 week training program which works perfectly since the Frederick Half is 19 weeks away.  This week, I ran my three training runs - two 30 minute runs and a 2 mile run on the weekend.  It actually felt pretty good being back out there with minimal adjustment for my body.  I'm supplementing my non-running days with either walking or yoga to keep moving but hopefully without putting too much stress on my muscles and joints.

What are your fitness goals this year?  Any runners out there with exciting races on the calendar?  Or maybe you're changing up and trying something new.  Whatever your goals are, I can't wait to follow your journeys too!

Taking Time for Mom

Over the past three months I've taken an unplanned hiatus from blogging.  I can't say that I'm sorry about it either.  While I was in Walt Disney World for runDisney's Princess Half Marathon weekend, I had a blast with my good friend, but realized just how out of shape I was for someone who was a "runner."  Yes, I would run using Galloway's interval training, but since the birth of my second child, I had a hard time dropping the pounds.  The pictures from the weekend revealed this to me more than I liked to admit.  So I decided to get serious about getting back in shape and focus on me.

In order to take more time for myself, I had to find some extra time in my schedule which meant that blogging took a back seat.  I have to say that it felt good to do something for me each day.  And the results have felt good too.  I've lost roughly 20 lbs over the three months and refocused on my health, career, and family.  And while I still have work to do in all of those areas - I'm ready to return to the blog to talk about my journey over the past months, summer family fun plans, and the magic of Disney!  I look forward to connecting back with each of you again over the next few weeks!!

Motivational Monday from Finding Dory

Dory and friends returned to the big screen on June 17 to a resounding welcome from kids and adults alike - and it's no wonder why.  The story provides opportunities for viewers to draw motivational lessons from Dory that they can apply to their own lives.  Runners find motivation in lots of places and runDisney runners can find motivation in all things Disney.  So let's take a look at what runners can learn from Finding Dory to inspire your training.



Just Keep Swimming
The movie begins with Dory having a memory from her childhood, a rare occurrence for a fish suffering from short term memory loss.  The memory of her parents encourages Dory to begin an adventure across the ocean to find her parents.  No matter how insurmountable the odds may seem, Dory never gives up.  I love the shirts that say "just keep running."  As someone who runs for fun, certainly not for speed, I use the "just keep running" motto to push me through long runs to train for half-marathons.  Dory doesn't always get places fast, but she has fun getting there. . .kind of like me!

Support of Family and Friends is Priceless
Throughout the trials and tribulations of life, we rely on the support of family and friends.  That support can help motivate us to push ourselves beyond what we believe our potential may be.  In the movie, Dory relies on both old and new friends as well as family that she is just starting to remember in order to find her way home.  In my own life, the support of my family and friends has meant the world to me in all of my endeavors, especially running.  Whether it's giving me the time to run by keeping the kids or standing at a finish line cheering me on, I couldn't be a runner without family and friends supporting me.

Dreams Come True Through Years of Training
As a society we are always looking for instant gratification.  Dory didn't get that.  In fact, without spoiling to much about the movie for those who haven't seen it yet, the little things she begins to remember about her parents ultimately teaches her how to find her way back to them.  As runners, the same is often true for us too.  Training for a race isn't something that happens overnight.  In fact, it's not even something that starts in the weeks or months ahead of a race.  Each training run and each race that we've had over the years has taught us something we can learn to improve ourselves and has made our mark on our running biography.

There are so many powerful messages that you can discover in Finding Dory.  Whether or not you're a runner, these life lessons can inspire everyone to achieve your fullest potential.

If you enjoy Finding Dory and want to learn more fun ways to celebrate the release - check out some other amazing bloggers with lots to offer from Disneybounding, to crafts, to food!  Visit the linkup here!  

Baltimore 10 Miler Recap

I can basically sum up the 2016 Baltimore 10 miler in three words - hills, heat, and humidity.  Leg 2 of the King Crab Challenge proved to be much tougher than the Frederick Half Marathon that took place just 4 short weeks earlier.  While the run was certainly not one of my best, it was a great course and took you through some beautiful parks in downtown Baltimore.  Runners should be prepared with an early June race that Maryland weather can be brutal this time of year.  Humidity at the 7:30AM start time was already 84% - I think I was sweating while I was waiting to start.

This was the first time that I've run the Baltimore 10 so I didn't know much going into the race.  The race begins at Druid Hill Lake Park which is also home to the Maryland Zoo.  There was plenty of parking for the race, even if traffic was backed up for quite a distance as parking is not the easily accessible large lots that you'll find by M & T Bank Stadium for the Baltimore Running Festival.  The race begins with a steady downhill as you wind down the park and towards 28th Street.  I was hoping that some part of the race would take us through the zoo, but that didn't happen.  The run through downtown didn't offer much scenery, but it was well supported with ample water stations and plenty of locals out to cheer us on.  

The race is an out and back course.  Runners enter Lake Montebello around mile 4 and exit near mile 5.  Adding to the excitement of passing the halfway point, there was a DJ blasting fun music to keep you motivated as you enter the mostly uphill second half of the race.  

Then comes mile 8.  

Oh, mile 8.  

The brutality of mile 8.  

Mile 8 is a tough uphill battle when your legs are burning and your chest is about to explode and the humidity is suffocating you.  Luckily, mile 9 flattens out and you finish back at the start line where a cold towel, fruit, and a few beers await all finishers.  This race is also well known throughout the area as having one of the best premiums around.  Between the nice jacket, fun medal, and challenging course, runners will walk away feeling a great sense of accomplishment.  


Next up in the King Crab Challenge is the Baltimore Running Festival in October.  I only need to complete the Baltimore Half that day to achieve my King Crab status, but I've decided to go for Balti-moron status and run the 5K and the Half in the same day.  Time to crank up my training!!

Life in the Slow Lane


When you're not fast, you run for other reasons than always being worried about time - fitness, quiet time, and the pure enjoyment of the run.  Training for a half-marathon was not always fun, pounding the pavement mile after mile, but logging 13.1 miles on race day for the Frederick Half was pure fun throughout most of the race.  Being in the slower pack of the race, I get to enjoy things that some faster runners might just breeze right by without even realizing they're missing anything.

Neighborhood Support - Somewhere around mile 7 we were in a perfectly quaint little neighborhood that came out to cheer on runners, even those of us in the back of the pack.  I think my favorite "cheerleaders" were the little kids who set up along the road to hand out high fives to everyone who passed.  I think they reminded me of my little boys who I wish could have been there cheering mommy on!

Camaraderie with Runners - There are lots of interesting people you can meet while running if you have the time to slow down and say "hi."  I was excited to meet Sid Busch during Frederick.  If you don't know Sid, he's a bit of a running celebrity who had a spread in Runner's World a few months ago.  Sid runs races from 5Ks to marathons in honor of fallen service men and women while carrying an American flag.  He's participated in runDisney races and several of the local Maryland races that I've done, but this was the first time I had the chance to meet him.  I also was passed (yes, I'm admitting it) by a man who jumped rope the entire half marathon.  How awesome is that?  And I did pass him back around mile 11.  I also saw about 25 runners wearing runDisney shirts that day which automatically caused me to talk with them as we were running together about their favorite races.  Nothing brings people together quite like Disney - even when you're almost 1,000 miles from the park!

More time for donuts (or other pit stops) - That's right.  I said donuts.  I was surprised, and excited, to see Dunkin' Donuts Munchkins at one of the fuel stops along the run.  When your time is not the most important part of the day you have time to stop and smell the donuts - and eat them too!  Other races may feature fun stops too - like the character greetings during a runDisney race.  When you're enjoying life in the slow lane, there is always time to stop for a smile.

Let's end with a little pick-me-up for some runners who might feel like they are "too slow" for a certain race or to call themselves a runner.  By embarking on the training journey and participating in the race, you're already accomplishing an amazing feat that many others don't even dare to attempt.  Whether you are running 8 minute miles or 15 minute miles, stand tall, stand proud, and enjoy the run!

2016 Frederick Nut Job Challenge Recap

This past weekend, I crossed a big item off my bucket list - I completed my first half-marathon.  And not only did I run the 13.1 miles on Sunday afternoon, but I turned out to be a complete Nut Job by adding the 5K race on Saturday evening.  While the pain is still fresh in my legs and joints, I've already started reflecting on the lessons learned from this race experience.  I can tell you that there will me more posts to follow on the emotional highs of this past weekend, but for now I'm just going to stick to the basics of a race recap.

Frederick Twilight 5K - The Frederick Running Festival kicks off on Saturday evening with a 5K race.  The race begins on the track at the Frederick Fairgrounds.  It's a well attended event and features a variety of elite runners as well as plenty of first timers.  The course is a fairly flat out and back course that runs along some back open roads.  There is not much shade and not much to look at, but the course goes by pretty quickly.  There is a water stop in the middle of the road around 1.25 miles and then you pass it again coming back not far before the 2 mile mark.  I ran this race beck in 2014 and not much has changed.  Participants are treated to a fun after-party featuring music and beverages (of the adult variety).  While there is no race "bling" for the 5K, it is the first step in earning your status as a Nut Job.  I didn't particularly care about time for the 5K as I wanted to keep my legs fresh for Sunday morning.  I a pair of women who were having a great time jogging along and enjoyed listening to their funny stories and banter.  The three of us also cheered on a 5 year old who was struggling to get through the last mile.  He was adorable, dressed as Superman and running with his dad.  I had a group of friends with me who were running this as well and after some time on the infield of the fairgrounds celebrating, we returned to one of their houses in Frederick for a delicious Italian dinner and to crash before the half in the morning.

Frederick Half-Marathon - Luckily with staying close by in downtown Frederick, we didn't have to get up too early on Sunday morning.  My friend Ali is an awesome host and had a spread of bagels, peanut butter, coffee, and bananas ready for any quick fuel-ups that the runners staying at her house wanted.  We left the house at 6:15 and made it to the start by 6:30AM.  I had my game plan going into the race and knew that I wanted to stick with it - I didn't want anyone else to dictate my race to me.  I have been training my long runs using run/walk intervals as I've increased run distances.  I jogged the first 5 minutes to get through the bottleneck at the start and then settled into my 60/60 intervals.  Compared to many other courses in Maryland, the half is relatively flat with the exception of a long, steady uphill between miles 11 and 12.  The course is very scenic as it weaves through historic downtown Frederick.  Miles 8 - 10 were run through a quaint neighborhood where many supporters came out playing music, blowing bubbles, and high-fiving runners.  The course was well supported with water, gatorade, and bathrooms around every 2-3 miles.  Throughout the race, my splits were amazingly even - settling in right around 13 min/mile from mile 1 to mile 13.  I crossed the finish line in 2:53 and felt elated. . .followed immediately by exhaustion!  My body was spent and I was not sad when a carload of my friends wanted to head back to shower rather quickly rather than hanging around.  But there was time to pose with my bling before leaving!

Will I be back for more half-marathons?  Absolutely!  I think it's a great distance to challenge you mentally and physically while not overwhelming you.  Will I complete more challenges again?  Probably. . .I'm a slave to the bling!!  The Frederick Half was the first part of the King Crab Challenge and the Maryland Double with the Baltimore 10-miler in June and the Baltimore Half in October completing those challenges.  Can't wait for more race excitement this year!

One more way runDisney can take all my money. . .

It's no secret that I love the magic of a runDisney race.  About the only thing that has saved me from going broke running several a year is the fact that each race requires paying for flights and other vacation necessities in addition to the cost of the races.  But what if runDisney created a way for me to run races and earn cute bling without the expense of a Florida trip?  Well, they just did. . .

Image from www.rundisney.com
Welcome to the era of runDisney virtual races!  For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of virtual races, it's very simple and, some might argue, a little silly.  You pay a race entry fee and in return typically receive a bib and a medal.  Some races allow you to purchase shirts at an extra cost.  Then you run the race distance - on the treadmill, around your neighborhood, with friends, or alone.  You can connect with other runners via social media who are doing the same race in their own city and show each other support.  There's no fanfare, no crowds, no other runners - just you, the pavement, and a medal at the end.

runDisney has just announced their first virtual race series.  The series is made up of three different 5K races.  You can purchase each one separately or pay a combined "challenge" package where you complete all three.  Like typical virtual races, you'll receive a race bib and a medal in the mail - all with an adorable Mickey theme.  The races in this inaugural series include theming around Mickey's famous yellow shoes, red shorts, and white gloves.  Races cost $39 each or $142 for the entire series. This is a steep price compared to most virtual races, but is a bargain price compared to the typical runDisney 5K.

As for me, I'm debating whether or not to sign up for one of these races.  While the lure of runDisney bling always calls to me as a siren song, my favorite parts of the runDisney experience are the characters and the camaraderie among my fellow runners.  But if I know the runDisney community, it will be buzzing with excitement and encouragement for all runners out there tackling these virtual races.

Oh, who am I kidding?  Go ahead and take all money runDisney. . .

Fitness Challenge - Week 2 Recap

The 30 days of fitness challenge is rolling on and so far April has continued to be a perfect month!  This week was not easy to meet the challenge, but it worked out with a little perseverance and some creativity.  I had three nighttime activities this week on top of my normal work day which made it hard to squeeze in workouts.

On Tuesday I got active enough on my own without officially "working out."  Tuesday was a busy day at school and then I walked a few blocks after the kids left to pick up my race bib and packet for the Main Street Mile race the following day.  That activity level was enough to push me past my 30 minute goal.  On Wednesday, Brody and I ran the Main Street Mile.  It was his first race and he rocked it!  Mommy was so proud!  Between the run and a few quick cardio exercises when I got home, I cleared my goal again.  And on Friday, I had a "no excuses" day and stopped by the gym for a quick workout before picking the kids up and then heading back to school to chaperone our movie night.

One of the things I'm learning through this challenge is how to blow through excuses.  The choice to get active and workout is truly a case of mind over matter.  Despite an exceptionally full plate this week, I found a way to meet my goals.  I think this is one of the biggest things I wanted to prove to myself during this month.  I have often found myself saying "It's too late" or "I'm too tired"' or "There's not enough time."  But now I see those are just excuses - not real barriers.  Life will always be busy and there will always be other things to prioritize over exercise, but now I see that if I choose not to exercise, it is just that. . .a choice.

Fitness Challenge - Week 1 Recap

Perfect month so far!
So week one of my fitness challenge is in the books and I'm still on track! I have to admit that there were some nights that were a bit of a challenge this week which speaks to the dedication that it takes to maintain a fitness regimen.  Over the course of the week, I got in a few runs of a couple miles each and also completed a several Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred workouts.  Here's what I lost and gained this week:

**I lost time.  Time is precious in my life.  I get up at 5AM, out the door at 6:30 to make the daycare drop off, to work by 7:15, leave work around 5PM, get the kids from daycare, cook dinner, bath time and bed for the kids between 7 and 8.  Only after then, do I get the chance to start my workout.  And if I'm working out then I'm not able to get laundry / blogging / cleaning / resting into the nighttime schedule.

**I lost about 2.5 lbs and several inches.  I should have done official measurements before the month began, but even without those I can already begin to feel a difference in how my clothes fit.

**I gained more energy.  Despite being strapped for time to squeeze everything into the day, I walk away from my workouts feeling more energized then before.  There were two days this previous week that I had headaches after work and almost gave up on getting a workout in.  However, after getting up the motivation to work out, I felt much better - not just that evening, but into the next day too.

**I gained strength and endurance.  One of my favorite things about working out is how quickly results and progress can start to be noticed.  As my runs are getting longer, I'm hanging in well with the increase in distance and my endurance during the 30 Day Shred videos is improving each day as well.

This next week is going to bring even more challenges as I have three evening activities to juggle on top of my usual work days.  I plan to harness the benefits I've seen week one to motivate me through completing week two.

A Fitness Challenge that's No Joke!

Today is traditionally a day for pranks and jokes, but today I'm beginning a challenge that's no laughing matter.  Since getting my Apple Watch as a Christmas present, I've enjoyed watching my fitness stats each day.  Pretty consistently I'm able to meet my calorie goal and I ALWAYS meet my stand goal, but the 30 minute move goal is a tough one for me to meet every day.  With as busy as life gets, finding time to exercise can be difficult.  So in April, I'm challenging myself to meet my 30 minute exercise goal every day.

The timing is right for this as my training is in full swing for the Frederick Half-Marathon at the beginning of May.  I'm running 3-4 days per week and trying to cross-train 1-2 days.  Even on my rest days I can still get my 30 minutes of exercise in by playing at the park with my boys or going on family walks.  

So that's that!  A month long fitness challenge that you can follow along with here on the blog.  My plan is to post each week with an update on my progress.  I'd love to have some of you join me on my journey - who's in?? 

Fat Thighs

Yup.  The title says it all on this one.  Last week I had someone make a comment about my "fat thighs."  It doesn't matter who the comment came from, but it happened.  I can't say I'm surprised or that I even disagree, but while I tried to smile and play it off - the sting was still there.  Over the past few days I've let the comment stew around in my head and I've gone through several stages of processing my feelings on the comment.


At first, I was disgusted.  I wanted to run and hide in a comfy pair of sweat pants, but that feeling only lasted a few minutes.  Then it turned to anger.  How dare someone make a comment like that?  I guess body shaming isn't all that new or uncommon, but it still doesn't make it right.  Why is it that so many people feel better by tearing others down?  How much more amazing could all of us be if we devoted that energy to building each other up instead?

Then I hit my final emotional stage - joy.  That's right. . .joy.  You want to know what these "fat thighs" can do?  They're currently training for a half marathon.  In fact, my race docket includes a 10K, 10-miler, and 2 half-marathons this year among some other shorter fun runs.  These "fat thighs" chase two busy little boys around the house, the playground, and the neighborhood while we spend quality time playing as a family.  And these "fat thighs" can rock a pair of 4 inch heels.

So ladies, the next time someone makes a comment about "fat thighs" or any other comment that's meant to be body shaming, simply smile, embrace it, and show your awesome!

<mic drop>

Staying Fit in Winter Weather

Staying fit despite the cold, winter weather!
As I brace with the rest of the Mid-Atlantic for Snowmageddon 2016, now is the perfect time to talk about staying fit during the winter months.  I don't know about you, but I am not a fan of cold weather running.  As a working mom, it's hard for me to find the time to go out for an evening run thanks to the earlier sunset time and I also find it hard to dress appropriately for a cold run - I'm either too cold at the beginning or too hot at the end.

While I don't avoid running altogether, I do usually only run one or two days a week.  Instead, I opt for indoor workouts that will both challenge me and keep me in shape.  Unfortunately, I don't have a treadmill so I turn to workout videos for my daily workouts.  Depending on the time I have for a workout that day and how I feel, I usually choose one of three DVDs.

When I feel like a lighter workout, I pop in a walking DVD.  For those of you that are serious runners, this probably seems like a terrible option.  But, those of you who follow along with me on a regular basis know I run and workout for fun, not speed.  For that reason, the walking DVD is a great option for me as it keeps me moving and provides a good cardio workout without adding a lot of stress at the end of the day. I use Leslie Sansone's Walk Away the Pounds 7 Day Calorie Blast.  My favorite walk is the 2 mile fitness walk if you're looking for a great thirty minute workout.

Anyone for a little downward dog?
On days that I feel like I want to push myself a bit harder, I turn to Jillian Michaels.  I have been a longtime fan of her workout videos.  Not only are they quick, but they are also intense.  And, I definitely feel the burn the next day.  The 30 Day Shred is a fantastic workout and takes less than 25 minutes.  In this DVD, you'll find three different levels which gives you choices to rotate through so you don't get bored with the same routine.

My third go to DVD is Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown.  This is not your typical yoga video, which is good for me because I'm not a big fan of yoga.  What I like about this video though is Jillian Michaels brings her intensity to everything in the workout - the moves and her instruction.  This is also a workout that can be completed quickly in the evening.  And sometimes, I even have a yoga buddy in my son!

 I'd love to hear any great ideas you have for working out indoors during cold and / or messy winter weather!  I like to have some variety in my workout plan and am always looking to see what I can add to keep up my motivation and my training.