July 26, 2012

Things that Rock Thursday

This Thursday is better than most. Maybe because I had Monday off, and it technically feels like Wednesday? Whatever the reason, I'll take it. But, it still doesn't hurt to talk about things that rock.

Anger Management 

I've had a thing for Charlie Sheen for at least 16 years. I think he's hilarious. Even though he's kind of crazy, I find him refreshing because he's honest about it.

I loved him on "Two and a Half Men." I think I've managed to watch every episode of his run at least twice, thanks to reruns. So, I'm ready for some new material. 

Thankfully, "Anger Management" came along. I'm still getting used to it (I'm not ready to declare it the funniest show ever ... yet), but I'm just so happy Charlie's back on TV. As mentioned previously, I have issues.

The treadmill

Lately, I'm obsessed with the treadmill. I fought it for so long, but with all the rain we've been getting, I had to make peace with it. Now, I'm somewhat in love.

Yes, I still run on the treadmill in the craptastic gym. Yes, it's still crappy. Yes, it's still insanely hot.

But, I can watch TV (like "Anger Management"). I can easily do speed workouts. I can play running games while watching TV (sprint through commercials). It makes running even more fun. 

Mentha Lip Shine

I'm kind of iffy on mint. Sometimes I like it, and sometimes it makes me feel nauseous. I was taking a big gamble on buying this lip gloss (even though it was on sale for $2 at Bath and Body Works semi-annual sale). 

Turns out, it didn't make me nauseous. And, I don't like it, I love it! 

Not only is the scent (flavor?) fabulous (a mixture of bubble gum and mint), it actually moisturizes my lips. Most glosses seem to slack in that area (they make your lips shiny, but that's it). I don't believe their claim that it is a breath freshener, but other than that, I'm a  fan.

July 25, 2012

A bullet-filled life

As per usual, I'm thinking in bullets. I think my life is a bunch of bullets, random ones, like this: 
  •  I love Diet Dr. Pepper in a serious way. We’re soul mates. Well, until I recently broke things off. It wasn’t Diet Dr. Pepper; it was the artificial sweetener I wanted to kick to the curb. So, for more than a week, no artificial sweeteners. So far, it hasn’t been bad (of course it’s only been a little more than a week). I’ve avoided pop (yep, I’m from the Midwest), and I just skip the sweet in coffee. It’s not the best, but it’s doable. I don’t think Diet Dr. Pepper is out of my life forever, but maybe it will be. At the most, I'll have it on a very special occasion as opposed to multiple times per week. Until then, DDP, you’re in my thoughts (and I still love you … sorry).
  • I have a confession: I haven’t run outside in a long time … weeks. I was stuck in the craptastic gym for a few days with the pesky tropical storm that hit Florida, and I don’t think I’ve run outside since. This is very, very strange. I don’t like running on the treadmill (or do I?). I’d always rather run outside (or would I?).
  • I recently joined Pinterest, and I’m in the trying-to-figure-it-out phase. I’ve found cool stuff on there, pinned it, and that’s it. Is that all you do? Oh, and add me (if you want a Pinterest idiot for a friend).
Thanks, Pinterest!
  • I got sucked in to the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy. I don’t really think it’s that well written, but I can’t put it down … not sure what that says about me. Oh, and my new catch phrase is “holy hell.”

July 24, 2012

It pays to know a gambler

In unplanned news, I spent a long weekend in Biloxi, Miss., and New Orleans.

This trip rocked. Why?

1.  It was free. I'm not a gambler, but my boyfriend is. Apparently, casinos really want you to come and gamble in their casino and will pay for your flight and room at a swanky hotel. 

2.  My boyfriend's high school friend lives in Pensacola, Fla., so he made the trip over to visit on Friday. He is the truest Southern gentleman I've ever met.

Nice that we use the crappy cell photo camera instead of the
impressive Nikon around Dain's neck.

3.  We saw an awesome show (Fata Morgana) at Beau Rivage for an awesome price ($9.95 per ticket). It was a Cirque-style show without the Cirque-style price, and it was amazing.

These dudes blew my mind. Photo courtesy of Beau Rivage.

4.  Our hotel (Beau Rivage) has an amazing gym, which I utilized!  

5.  Our hotel also has an amazing view, which I enjoyed.

6.  This was only my second trip to New Orleans, but I fell even more in love. This city is so fun to explore. 

7.  New Orleans makes the best Bloody Marys (tomato juice makes them healthy, right?). Each place has their own take on it. The most interesting ingredient: Guinness. 

8.  I really enjoy my job (most of the time), but a break is pretty darn fantastic.

July 17, 2012

Six things for surviving the sun on the run

Being a pale-skinned, major sweater, I avoid the sun as much as possible. I'm a night-time runner mainly for this reason. But, there are times when running in the sun aren't avoidable. Hello, the majority of races!

So, even the girl that runs in the dark as much as possible needs a plan of attack for the scary, giant ball of flames in the sky. Here are my six must-haves for making runs in the sun bearable.

1. Sunblock

This is a non-negotiable item. I have pale skin. I live in Florida where it feels like the sun is sizzling my skin (and it probably is). I must have a strong sunblock and preferably one that doesn’t run into my eyes when I sweat buckets while running.

It took some experimenting (and some painful, watery eyes) to finally find the one. And, I’m in love.
The one

When applied properly, I’ve never gotten a burn, and it doesn’t run into my eyes. What more could a running girl want? Oh, it also doesn’t feel greasy or heavy. It does make you shiny, though. Oh, well. There are things worse than shiny ... sunburned, for example. 

2. Sunglasses

Sunglasses are a must for me. I have sensitive eyes, and I’m a big baby if I don’t have sunglasses. I don’t have sport sunglasses. I just use one of the six pairs I use on a daily basis (As mentioned previously, due to being a big baby when I don’t have sunglasses, I have plenty of backups. I always seem to be sitting, stepping on or crushing sunglasses, unfortunately. Due to this, I buy cheap sunglasses. So, I’m a little nervous about spending big bucks on a sport pair.)

For the most part, the cheapos do the job. They are big and block the sun (my main requirements). Occasionally, I have them fog over, but I deal with it … for now. I may take the sport glasses plunge someday.

3. Bondi Band  

I normally have trouble with hair bands being comfortable, staying in place and actually blocking some of the massive amounts of sweat coming out of me. The Bondi Band is different: it’s comfortable; it stays in place; and, it blocks so much sweat (I’m a sweaty girl).
Bondi Bands (and medals) make me happy.
This delightful device helps bunches with the sunblock-running-into-eyes problem because it blocks so much of the sweat that would normally run down my face.

They come in fun colors and some have fun sayings. No matter what they look like, though, this is something I won't be running without.

4. Tech shirt

These things are the greatest invention. Remember the days of wearing regular T-shirts for working out? They’d get so sweat-logged and heavy. It was disgusting. So, you can bet that all of my running shirts are tech shirts. 

I’m still working on finding an absolute favorite, but my current favorite is the Under Armour HeatGear short-sleeve T-shirt. It keeps me really cool, and it is a decent length. It doesn't hurt that it's one of my favorite colors.

5. Water bottle

Water is a necessity when the temperatures are hot. I have two water-carrying options: handheld bottle and the water belt.

I use one or the other on most of my summer-time runs. I know some people don’t like to carry anything when running, but I really don’t mind this Nike bottle (I think it is discontinued). It has a strap and a case (so you can stuff things inside: keys or GU Chomps are my favorites). The downside: it really doesn’t hold that much water (less than 10 oz.). So, unless you’re not running a long distance or you have options for refilling it along your route, I’d recommend the water belt.

This Nathan Speed 2 Waistpack is perfect for long runs. It has two, 10 oz. bottles, plus a zip pouch (that I usually fill with keys and GU Chomps). It sits low on my hips, and I really don’t notice it since it stays in place while running.

6. Brain 

I take my brain with me on every run; I just need to remember to use it when it comes to the heat. Never keep pushing if you feel too hot, dizzy or nauseous. Stop. Walk some. Get in the shade. Drink some fluids. No run is worth serious health issues.

What are your running must-haves for the sun? Did I leave something off the list? Tell me.

July 16, 2012

From nervous to elated

Yay! It's less than one month until my training group starts for the St. Petersburg Women's Half Marathon, and I'm super-pumped.

Funny. Last year I was in a much different position. I was a bucket of nerves. Why? 
  • I was nervous that I would be the worst runner in the group.
  • I was nervous that I couldn't keep in the first weeks. I didn't even want to think about week 10.
  • I was nervous that I didn't know enough about running.
  • I was nervous that I'd get left in the dust.
  • I was nervous that everyone would hate me because I'm slow.
  • I was nervous that my previously severely sprained ankle would give out on me.
  • I was nervous my coach would yell at me and run me into the ground. 
Guess what? All of that nervousness was for nothing. Being a part of that training group was one of the best things I could have done. Why?
  • Everyone was extremely encouraging and supportive.
  • I was a slower runner, but I was never left behind.
  • The first few weeks were tough, but I made it through them.
  • My ankle held up great – especially after my coach recommended a shoe for over-pronation: my love, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 11.
  • It didn't matter that I didn't know much about running; I learned. 
  • My coach never yelled at me; he was encouraging and supportive. We talked about my "speed" sometimes, but it was always in a friendly, joking way.
  • I accomplished things I never thought possible, and I think the majority of it had to do with the support and training of this fantastic group. 
My smile is thanks to my training group.
If you're thinking about joining a running group, do it. If you're nervous, it's OK. Just give it a shot. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Are you in a running group? Do you love it? Are you thinking about joining one? 

July 12, 2012

Things that Rock Thursday

Thursday, yuck. This one hasn't been that bad, I guess, but I'm tired and somewhat grumpy, so I need some things that rock to cheer me up.

A new fan configuration in the craptastic gym

You may remember my genius setup to keep cool in a way-too-hot gym. 


This worked pretty well, but I was always a little nervous that the fan might fall off of the elliptical (the last thing I need is to be indebted to the craptastic gym for a new fan).

So, when I ran last night, I tried a new configuration.

Not only did I not worry about a crashing fan, I ran in comfort for 2.5 miles!
Look folks! I didn't sweat ... much (I'm pointing
at the lack of sweat on my shirt).
All-Star Game festivities

I’ll try to cool it on the baseball talk after this. I know I haven’t been able to shut up about it lately, so I’m sorry if baseball isn’t your thing. It is my thing, and the Fan Fest rocked my world. So many interactive exhibits, baseball memorabilia and just cool stuff. 

I started my life as a die-hard Oakland A's
fan because of Jose Canseco.

I didn’t go to the game, but it was cool to see the stadium where I spent my summers growing up showcased to the nation. It was also cool to see Rays’ players David Price and Fernando Rodney each pitch a scoreless inning (this says a lot considering the American League pitchers gave up 8 runs). 

Weird promotions

OK, I know I said I’d cool it with the baseball talk, but I guess I lied because this is baseball-related. The buzz around town since the Rays announced their 2012 promotions: the Zim Bear. What is a Zim Bear?, you ask. Good question. It's a teddy bear with Don Zimmer's face (Don Zimmer is a senior adviser with the Tampa Bay Rays and has been in baseball since 1949).

Players took photos with the Zim Bear. Collectors said it was so weird and creepy that they had to have it. The paper said people were going to line up 4 hours before the gates opened to get their hands on one of the 10,000.

It so happened that this was one of the games my dad and I attended. We wanted a Zim Bear, but we really didn’t want to stand in the heat of the Florida summer for 4 hours. We decided we’d tough it out for about an hour and a half (and prepared with umbrellas, towels and Gatorade). We arrived at the stadium to this. 

Yes, we were the first in line at Gate 5.

So, we got our Zim Bear. And, it's crazy, creepy and weird (and still in the package ... in case I can sell it for millions of dollars).

Race review: All-Star Game Charity 5K, Kansas City, Mo., July 8, 2012

I had to do this race. I love baseball. This was a dream race (besides the fact that it was a 5K; 5Ks and I just aren’t that good of friends).  

With my dad visiting me in Florida, I flew back with him to Kansas City on Thursday for the Sunday race. Fortunately, the race had packet pickup Thursday-Sunday, so we could stop and grab my shirt, bib and timing chip. It was super easy, convenient and awesome.

Why it was awesome: the shirt
Since my dad lives an hour outside of downtown Kansas City, we had an early start on race day. My dad was nervous about traffic and parking, so he insisted we get to the race area an hour and a half before the start. Gah. I thought that was perhaps overkill, but since I wasn’t driving, I really didn’t have a choice.  

We arrived in the downtown area exactly an hour and half before the race. No traffic or parking issues (at least at that time).  

So, we found a place to sit and waited. And waited. And waited. I’ll never get to a race that early again (if it’s in my control).

What I did for more than an hour

Finally, around 7:25 a.m., I made my way to the start line. Well, thousands of people back from the start line (there were about 8,000 participants). With the national anthem, I knew the race would start soon … or so I thought.

After the national anthem, so many people had to talk (including Allison Sweeney, host of “The Biggest Loser”). By the time the microphone got to George Brett (Hall of Fame Royals player who was officially starting the race), it was 7:39 a.m. He even mentioned, “What time do you start a 7:30 a.m. race?” Burn. 

Waiting for the start ... and waiting

After many minutes, I finally crossed the start line and began my race. I went into this race just wanting to have fun. That's it. Since the 5K and I aren't friends, it seemed like the best route. 

Then, I ran the fastest race mile in my memory: 10:40! Sweet. This was race was off to a good start. I walked through the first water stop, which I never done before for a 5K. I've never walked any portion of a 5K, but it was hot and I wanted to make sure I took hydration seriously.

The second mile was not as good, but I was OK with it. I'm just having fun, right? So, the 11:58 mile didn't bother me. It included a small hill over a bridge and another walking water stop. It was getting hot, so I dumped a portion of the water over my head (and made sure to run through the fire hydrants they had spraying the racers). 

The third mile is where things got ugly. The third mile was a hill. A long, gradual, painful hill. Maybe other people are used to these horrific things, but this girl who runs in flat, flat Florida is not. So, this mile was long, slow and painful. But, guess what? I'm still having fun (and sweating like crazy). 

Then, it was time for my sprint to the finish. I sped off (at least in my mind I was speeding). I was going to finish strong like I always try to do. And, I came to a complete halt. Why? A backup at the finish line. Ugh. 

"Sprinting" across the finish line

The finish line was on a narrow street with a forced turn onto the next street shortly after crossing the finish line. After crossing the finish line, people wanted their sweet medals (not that I can blame them), and since they were only handing them out on one side of the road, that backed things up. Then, the turn onto the next street to grab your water and Gatorade, return your timing chip, and grab freebies from vendors just made things worse.

The sweet medal that was a partial cause of the finish line backup

So, by the time I moseyed my way across the finish line, the clock read 40:22. Holy hell. 

I actually found myself getting a little irritated at times. But, I reminded myself that I was in this for fun and realized it really didn't matter. So, yay! 

Some people were really mad, and I can't blame them. My dad said he started noticing the backup around 22-24 minutes. Yikes. 

I remained happy when I got my medal, got my warm water and hot Gatorade and made my way out of the finish line cluster. 

The pros of this race:

  • Packet pickup was easy and convenient. 
  • It was a baseball lover's dream.
  • It had adequate parking and bathrooms. 
  • You got a sweet medal and T-shirt.
The cons of this race:
  • It started late: 9 minutes late.
  • The water stops only had water. I never really pay attention in advance to what the hydration stops will include on a 5K since I don't usually utilize them, so I didn't with this race either. I guess I mistakenly assumed they'd include Gatorade since they were a sponsor. I think on that hot of a day, Gatorade would have been nice (at least at one stop).
  • The finish line disaster was obviously the biggest issue. It was horrendous. I never thought I'd be in a race where I was forced to walk slowly across the finish line. That is not my thing, and I wasn't happy about it (but I had fun).  
  • Then, being in a corralled area with a bunch of sweaty runners and not being able to go where you wanted was not fun. 
  • The warm water and hot Gatorade were probably due to my slowness, but doesn't everyone deserve a cool drink when finishing a race? I think yes. 
  • I never saw Allison Sweeney. I think she was at the start area, but by the time I got to the start line, she was nowhere to be seen. Couldn't she hang out on the podium and wave to runners? Maybe I just missed her. 
Am I glad I ran this race? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes, but only due to the baseball factor. Baseball is my weakness, obviously. If I took out the baseball factor, I would not do it again. It was one of the worst races I've ever run, unfortunately.

This race rotates each year to the All-Star Game's location. But, hopefully they learn some things from the disaster in Kansas City and apply them to the cities in the future.