Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I Love Coffee: Keurig Single-Cup Brewing System Review

Coffee and I have had a love affair for at least 30 years now. I watched my parents get up each morning and share coffee before they started their day. I joined in when I was about 16. I drank a huge café au lait each morning while living in Paris during college – dipping my crusty baguette into the warm, frothy drink. I cut out coffee when I was pregnant (x2) and I probably needed to go into therapy to deal with the loss.

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When I started running four years ago, I always had a cup before a run and still do. I never knew if this was good or bad (my colon said it was bad if things didn’t get resolved before a run). I was thrilled to learn from several sources (including this article in Runner’s World) that coffee/caffeine could actually boost performance and help quicken recovery. True or not, I am going with that theory because it supports my daily habit. Same way I support my wine habit with reports that it’s good for my heart, my immune system and even my memory (what is it that I’m reviewing right now?).

You see, while I’m sure I get a boost from the caffeine, my daily cup (or cups) of coffee have become a ritual. Sometimes I can’t wait to get out of bed so I can have my first cup.  It’s kind of like an old friend (who doesn’t talk back).

I am a traditionalist when it comes to my coffee. I don’t enjoy fancy drinks like triple mocha cappuccinos with five shots, no foam, one pump of syrup and a dash of urine. I just like a strong, rich blend with lots of half and half. I brew a pot every morning for my son and I to share. Mid morning I usually stop and get another cup of coffee just to round out my a.m. ritual.

Recently, Staples (yes, the office supply place) asked if they could send me a Keurig 145 Single-Cup Brewing System to review. I have used these before – my in-laws have one and several doctor’s offices I’ve visited have them as well. I’ve always thought they were a neat concept (being able to choose the hot drink you like and brew it up quickly), but I could never justify the price ($79 to $200 depending on the size and the features. This particular one is $129 but has a $25 rebate right now). The kids were pretty excited because in addition to making coffee, you can also do hot chocolate, chai and flavored teas in the Keurig.

Keurig OfficePRO Single-Cup Commercial Coffee Brewer, Black/Silver

Keurig OfficePRO Single-Cup Commercial Coffee Brewer, Black/Silver

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ve never used a Keurig, here is my sorry attempt to demonstrate it:

Pros:

  • Convenient and Quick – From start to finish, making a cup of coffee in the Keurig takes only seconds (unless the water needs to heat, then it might be a minute). For someone who lives alone, the Keurig could be the perfect, personalized solution. Also, the Keurig is a great method for quickly getting your travel mug filled with coffee before heading out the door in the morning.
  • No mess – No need to put in or dispose of a filter. No coffee grounds spilled on the counter. No coffee dregs in the bottom of your mug.
  • Customized - Perfect for an office so that everyone can choose their own type of coffee and flavor.
  • Hot Coffee – I like my coffee very hot when it is first brewed. I find that many regular brew pots deliver warm coffee, but not hot coffee. The Keurig will give you HOT coffee immediately and every time.
  • Taste – I don’t think the coffee from a Keurig maker will ever compare to what you get in a traditional coffee maker. However, for a quick and easy cup of coffee, the taste is acceptable. While I found the taste of some brands (Green Mountain specifically) to be lacking, other brands were more full bodied and rich like Caribou. This said, there are countless brands and flavors to choose from, so I think there is probably something for everyone.

Cons:

  • Price – The average cost of a cup of regular brewed coffee at home is .13¢ (factoring in the cost of coffee pots and filters) {source}.  The K-Cups cost on average of .50¢ if you buy them in bulk. That adds up over time. I did see that you can buy your own K-Cup filter and use your own ground beans. Now, that’s a brilliant idea (it’s about $18 and can be found here).  That said, I guess using a K-Cup at home is still MUCH cheaper than visiting the local coffee shop.
  • Taste of Tea/Hot Chocolate – I tried a K-Cup of the Celestial Seasonings Sleepy Time and it tasted pretty awful compared to what I make with a regular tea bag. I suppose you could just put your own tea bag in the spot where the K-Cup would go. My daughter did not care for the hot chocolate because she found it watery – she asked if we could use milk in the Keurig (NO!).
  • Impersonal (for lack of a better word) – This may sound hokey,  but people can bond over a shared pot of coffee, like my son and I do. You wait for it to finish brewing, you pour a cup for yourself and the other person while you talk and connect. You top off each other’s coffee, etc. The Keurig doesn’t allow for this type of scenario. It’s more of an individual activity if you know what I mean.
  • Environmental Impact – Billions of plastic K-Cups are sold each year. From what is said on the Keurig site, they are not currently recyclable. This means several billions of cups end up in landfills each year just for the convenience of having a quick cup of coffee. Keurig’s response: “The challenge of protecting the freshness of roasted coffee while using environmentally friendly packaging is one that both Keurig and the coffee industry are committed to overcoming. We are very sensitive about the waste created by the K-Cup® packs and are investigating alternative materials. Finding a solution for this is a priority for us, and one we hope to have before long.

My Final Conclusion: Overall a quality product and perfect under certain conditions like in an office setting or for someone who lives alone. Also, the Keurig would be ideal if you need to quickly head out the door and put your travel mug underneath for a fast cup o’ Joe. Although the taste did not always meet my standards, I think this is more of an issue of the brand of K-Cup than the Keurig itself. I need to find the brands/flavors that I like the most. I will not replace my coffee maker with this one, but it is nice to have both options.

Coffee drinker– yes or no?

What type of coffee maker do you use?

Have you ever used a Keurig? Which do you prefer – regular brewer or Keurig?

 

SUAR

Full disclosure: Staples provided Shut Up + Run with these items for review. The thoughts and opinions expressed are strictly my own.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

7 Tips to Make Your Long Run Easier

I ran my second 20 miler of this training cycle yesterday.

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I am not sure what is so funny, but maybe I was just giddy, relieved, delirious to be done.

We all know long runs are tough physically. But, sometimes we make the whole thing even harder on ourselves because we psych ourselves out mentally. Here is how I make a really long run easier (at least mentally). Note I did not say “easy,” just a bit “easier.”

1. Plan a Route You Can Get Excited About. I like to use Map My Run to get creative. There’s nothing like starting a 20 mile run already bored to tears with where you are going. I’d rather drive a bit to start somewhere that inspires me versus following some old worn out route that puts me to sleep. And, if you’re lucky a porta potty will appear out of nowhere – a gift from the turd gods (this one showed up on some back road in Boulder County yesterday).

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Joie was happy to step inside the blue box

2. Drag Someone Along. Distraction is a wonderful tool. Bring a friend and talk about every mundane thing you can think of like the high cost of peanut butter or how long it takes corn to move through your system (this is very easy to figure out. Just keep a diary of when you had corn chowder and when it showed up later). A good friend will also share supplies with you like toilet paper, an extra gel, a tampon or condom (now that really would make your long run more fun).

3. Bring Happy Fuel. If you hate the taste of Clif Shots, but you eat them because you are “supposed to” or they were on sale, that’s no fun. Bring along your most favorite candy or gel flavor. Or, do what I do and bring Clif Shot Bloks that are flavored like alcoholic drinks (margarita) and pretend it is happy hour already. Maybe companies should market cocktail themed gummy treats for runners (jam packed with electrolytes and carbs of course) like Rum Runner (get it?), Sex on the Beach (for the wild crowd), Bloody Mary (for those running in the morning or during Sunday brunch time) and Mint Julep (for the Southerners).  

4. Tell People Even If They Don’t Care. I like to let a few friends know if I’ve got a really long run (say 18-20 miles) because in my head I think they are cheering me on and that they really care if I finish or not. Somehow it holds me accountable, and it’s nice to finish up and a have a few texts checking in to see if I’m still alive.

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5. Break the Mileage Up. Do not start the run and think “Yay! only 19.82 miles to go!” Think “Okay, only 5 miles until I can have my Rum Runner”, then “Only 5 miles until half way” etc. I find that 5 miles feels manageable in my head, but use what increments work for you (three 10Ks plus a bit more, two 10 milers – you decide).

6. Get Lost in Your Head. If running alone, let your mind wander. Meditate as you listen to your breathing and the sound of your feet. Focus on the sights and sounds around you. Visualize yourself crossing the finish line of the race you are training for and how it will feel to meet your goal. If you like listening to music, set up a special playlist just for your long run. There are some good song suggestions in the comment section of this post.

7. Try Not To Stare At or Be Consumed By Your Garmin. Watching your Garmin and waiting for the miles to tick by is a bit like watching a pot of water until it boils. It feels like forever. Just let it go. Tell yourself you’ll check in every 30 minutes, every 3rd song on your iPod, whatever. But, don’t constantly check it or you will feel like you ran 40 miles, not just 20.

Does any of this really help? Personally, the little things give me a mental boost and then sometimes my physical body follows. My long runs for this training cycle are DONE and taper has officially commenced. Overall for the past few weeks my long runs (12+ miles) have been:

One 14 mile run
Three 16 mile runs
One 18 mile run
Two 20 mile runs.

Let’s hope it was enough…damn, it felt like enough.

What’s your best tip about how to make long runs easier?

What’s your favorite fuel for a long run?

SUAR

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Call Me Easy, But I Liked This

Sometimes we can learn things in the oddest of places. From a greeting card (have you seen the ones about STDS?), from the quote on someone’s t-shirt (“I Like to Fart on the First Date” <-this would be good to know), even from an advertisement (gasp!). 

Take 3 minutes to watch this if you haven’t already. It will make you THINK and FEEL, even if it is  promoting a product.

This video has gained a lot of criticism for the reasons outlined HERE. Some say that it focuses too much on external beauty (yes, it’s hard to sketch internal beauty). Some say that it makes “women their own enemies” (uh, yeah, this is often the case).

Call me easy to please, but I happen to like the video and the message. It exposes the extent that we are overly critical of ourselves. We don’t realize our self worth. We judge ourselves much more harshly than we would our best friend. Mostly, we simply do not see the best in ourselves, preferring instead to focus on qualities we deem negative.

Damn! You mean not everyone sees my pointy chin, my overgrown eyebrows, my long second toe, my uneven complexion the same way I do?

Yes, this video highlights the external features of a woman. It is after all, promoting a beauty product. In this day and age there are hundreds of ways to promote products. Some companies do it by featuring scantily clad women rolling around on car hoods eating cheeseburgers.  Some do it in a way that causes the viewer to stop and think, and might potentially have a positive impact.

I think the video is challenging us to see the bests parts of ourselves, inside and out. Period. (okay, and maybe to buy Dove soap).

The first thing I wanted to do was to show this to my 12 year old daughter. I want her to never be afraid to notice and embrace her own beauty, be it internally or externally. More than anything I want her to RECOGNIZE this beauty and not continually hold it up against some unachievable standard set up in the media.

Here’s the thing. It’s not just about failing to recognize our outside beauty. When we are asked to describe ourselves in terms of our personalities, we often veer towards what we perceive as negative: shy, controlling, nervous, spacey, anxious, pessimistic, irritable.

Some even do it with running. Often when I ask someone who they are as a runner they will say:

Slow
Injured
Overweight
Tired
Out of shape
Undisciplined
Awkward
Inconsistent
Old
Inexperienced

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No, this ad didn’t make me want to run out and buy Dove soap. And, no I am not interested in the fact that Dove is owned by Unilver, which makes Axe and Slimfast products. I am interested in the fact that the message is powerful and universal (the last line of the video), “Why do we analyze all of the things that are not quite right instead of appreciating the things we do like?”

I ask you – what makes you feel better about yourself and your world? Putting attention on what you are grateful for and what you have to offer, or focusing on what your life lacks and what you don’t like about yourself?

Thoughts on the video?

Are you self critical? About what? Yes I am. About lots of things. Pooping on the run. Yelling at my kids. Forgetting someone’s birthday. Burning the casserole. Getting injured. Writing a stupid blog post.

SUAR

PS: You have to admit, forensic sketching is pretty cool. Maybe I should do that with the rest of my life.

PPS: A male parody was done on this video. I have to say it is hilarious. See it HERE.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Premier Protein Shake/Bar Review and Giveaway

I like to eat “real” food. When I say that I mean that I don’t like a lot of preservatives in my foods and I don’t like a lot of ingredients I cannot pronounce.  However, when you are training, it’s my opinion that there is a time and a place for “easy” foods when you need quick protein, carbs and/or calories. While I mostly stick to products that have simple and basic ingredients (there are fortunately many of these available these days), I have been known to leave a pre-packaged protein shake in my car for after a long run. I also have used protein bars as meal replacements or quick snacks. I know some of you are food purists and would never touch such things, but to each his own, right?

So, why is protein even important? Without getting overly scientific because I am just not that smart, let’s just say that it can help build and repair muscles. It can also help you to feel full longer. Some say it gives you more energy. Premier Protein prides itself on providing complete proteins in its products (complete proteins are also found in eggs, dairy, meat and soy) by the way of 18 essential amino acids. Read more HERE.

Now I bring to you a review of Premier Protein bars and shakes.

The Premier Protein High Protein Shake - I was sent choclate and vanilla flavors to try.

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Taste: Very similar to most pre-bottled protein shakes in that it was (to me) overly sweet and artificial tasting. The consistency was pleasing, however, and I found it creamy and smooth. This shake is not something I would drink for the taste, but more to just get the quick and easy 30 grams of protein after a long run or workout. I left one of these in my car and drank it immediately after my 20 mile run the other day. It went down smoothly, even when warm. The drink is light enough that it didn’t make me feel too bloated or full.

Pros:
  • Quick protein post workout
  • Low calories and fat content if that’s what you are looking for
  • Convenient. Doesn’t need to be refrigerated
  • Cost is decent if you buy in bulk and especially if it is meant as a meal replacement (about $1.50 per container on the website)
  • Great meal replacement product.
Cons:
  • Ingredient list – long and full of things I can’t pronounce. I prefer more simple and natural ingredients
  • Can be pricey if bought in 4 packs or as singles
  • Most athletes would look at this product as a recovery product, not meal replacement. That being the case, it does not boast the recommend 3:1 ratio of carb to protein for recovery. This product is more like 1:6.
The Premier Protein Crisp Crunch Protein Bar (I received the flavors peanut butter/caramel, chocolate mint and honey caramel)

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Taste: I am not a huge fan of the crunch bars (I like the nougaty ones better), but these were really good. The chocolate mint seriously tasted like a Thin Mint cookie.The bar is light, not filling and not overly sweet. The texture is very crunchy and kind of hard, especially when cold.

Pros:
  • Quick protein post workout
  • Low calories and not overly filling, but satisfying.
  • Good taste
  • Decent, although not optimal, carb to protein ratio for recovery (27 carbs, 15 g protein – almost a 2:1 ratio)
  • Great snack option item.
Cons:
  • Ingredient list – long and full of things I can’t pronounce (again)
  • Kind of expensive coming in at about $1.50 per bar before shipping (in a pack of 18). I think this is pricey for a “snack” type bar, as I can usually find others I like for about a $1.00.
Premier Protein Energy Bar (I received double chocolate crunch, yogurt peanut crunch and chocolate peanut butter).

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Taste: This is a hefty and heavy bar. Taste is decent and provides a dense, flavorful bar with a meaty and solid texture. Satisfying taste overall.

Pros:
  • Quick protein post workout
  • Good, satisfying taste.
  • Cost is decent if you buy in bulk (about $1.60 per bar on the website).
  • Good meal replacement option. Satisfying and filling.
Cons:
  • Ingredient list – long and full of things I can’t pronounce (again).
  • Not an optimal recovery ratio. It has 26 grams carbs, 30 grams protein (almost 1:1 ratio).
  • Seems to have a lot of sodium if you are using as meal replacement and not as a recovery of electrolytes
GIVEAWAY

Want to try a LARGE sample pack of these products? I have FIVE packs to give away. Each will include:

  • 4 Premier Protein shakes: 2 shakes in each flavor (chocolate and vanilla)
  • 3 Premier Protein meal replacement bars: 1 bar in each flavor (Chocolate Peanut Butter, Double Chocolate Crunch and Yogurt Peanut Butter Crunch)
  • 3 Premier Protein Crisp bars: 1 bar in each flavor (Chocolate Mint, Honey Caramel and Peanut Butter Caramel)
  • Premier Protein nylon bag
This giveaway is open only to U.S. residents. Enter below (chance to submit 3 entries). Giveaway runs through April 30:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

SUAR

Fine Print: The sample pack provided to me as well as the 5 giveaway packs were provided free of charge from Premier Protein. I was sent my sample pack in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Cover Your A$$

I got to mile 15 of my 16 miler yesterday and was SAVED because this song came on (I have to remember to put it towards the end of my marathon play list).

Sometimes I like to be yelled at so that I can push harder. The tempo is FAST and guaranteed to get you going (that is, if you don’t mind a little mild profanity. I think a$$ is tame compared to things like “I’ve got passion in my pants and I ain’t afraid to show it,” but I like that song too).

As long as we are on the a$$ theme, I purchased a new item the other day – the CYA skirt. Know what CYA stands for, right? Cover Your Ass. This skirt has no panties/shorts built in, but is just to wear over things. Everyone at Starbucks, the grocery store, the gas station, etc. will be thankful that I have finally agreed to CMA (Cover My Ass). Tights on a 20 year old may be fine while picking out bananas, but not sure people want to see tights on a 46 year old while picking out bananas. Unless they are very desperate.

Today I am wearing my CYA over my compression tights for recovery and I think it makes for an outstandingly tacky outfit. Slippers are the key. As is a shiny face and a bad hair style.

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Speaking of the CYA skirt – I got the BEST deals the other day. Skirt Sport’s headquarters is about 15 minutes from my house. They had a warehouse sale and about 95% of the stuff was small in size. Score for me. Every item was only $20. I CLEANED up. Who cares if I really don’t need any of this. I cannot pass up a good sale. My favorite is the Marathon Chick blue skirt with matching headband. I also got a pair of running tights, but I wore them today and they’re gross with sweat and not picture worthy.

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2 running skirts, one pair of tri shorts, two cycling jerseys

I cannot believe I only have four weeks until my marathon. Next week is my last BIG long run of 20 miles. With the exception of tweaking my hamstring a couple weeks ago while in boot camp (it is now FINE, but I was freaking out), this training cycle has gone really well. Fingers crossed for a solid race.

And, you will be happy to know, I did not make ONE pit stop over 16 miles. Not one. That might be a record. Speaking of pit stops, if someone makes marathon greeting cards, this should be on one of them:

Where do you buy the bulk of your running clothes? I am all over the place – usually wherever I can get the best deals. Sometimes The Clymb online has some great deals (this week they had both Running Skirts and Sports Skirts skirts for half price)

What’s that song on your iPod that you skip a million songs to get to because it gives you that perfect boost? Anything by AC/DC or Pitbull (do you think they hang out?), Die Young by Kei$ha, Pain Lies by the Riverside by Live, and Let’s Go by Calvin Harris.

SUAR

Friday, April 19, 2013

5 Ways For Runners To Cope Right Now

I know I’ve been silent since Monday. I haven’t even tried to sit down to write. I can’t muster up the energy to talk about my training or to do a product review or to tell some funny story. And, I can’t muster up the energy to write more about what happened on Monday. I said what I wanted to say then.

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I love that we all wore our running shirts this week as a tribute.

Yes, life goes on. I take the kids to school. I run. I work. I cook dinner and have a glass of wine at night. But, I’ve done it all with a pit in my stomach. It seems cliché, but the phrase, “What is this world coming to?” resonates in my head and my heart. It all feels so out of control right now. I don’t want to live in fear, and yet every time I drop my kids at school, every time I get on an plane, and now every time I approach a finish line I’ll wonder if something bad could happen.  There is the continued sense that nothing will ever be the same again.

The question becomes, how do we live knowing these things, yet not let them consume us?

1. Do good and be good. I don’t know how long I’ll be here. I don’t know what amazing, sad, exciting, challenging things are in store for me. It doesn’t matter, because much of that is beyond my control. What I can control is how I approach people and life. All the “bad” stuff that happens out there just makes me want to be better. A better friend, a better mother, a better wife, a better community member, a better PERSON.

2. Be here. Look around you right now. What do you see and hear? I hear my daughter laughing. The sun is shining and I have a steaming cup of coffee beside me. I get to go shopping for running clothes with a friend today. I am healthy and lucid enough to sit here and write a blog post for you and to take a run outside later in the crisp morning air. I have this moment. Right now. I will cherish it.

3. Run. Sweat. Move. One of the things that has made this week more difficult is that I have taken several rest days to give my hamstring a break. This has meant I don’t get my usual “sweat outlet.” I don’t have to tell you how running (or whatever does it for you) transports you out of your head and into a place where you can gain perspective. A place where your worries can fall way for a bit.

4. Smile. Even laugh. When “bad” things happen, we often feel that it’s disrespectful to perk up and have moments of joy. That’s crap. Being joyous in no way undermines our grief about a situation. In fact, it helps us to cope, to have a moment of lightness in what otherwise feels very heavy and dark. The last thing you need to do is judge yourself for having a moment that is free from sadness and angst.

5. Help. When you feel help-less, the remedy is to be help-full. Reach out and do something that helps others. Step outside of yourself and your emotions and channel your energy into a cause that makes sense to you. (Skinny Runner posted a comprehensive list of tribute runs and fundraisers for Boston. You can find it HERE).

It’s been a long and sad week for all of us. What happened in Boston has hit runners – has hit EVERYONE - like a ton of bricks. We feel shocked, cheated, scared, angry and sad. At this point, there is nothing to do but lace up our shoes, step outside and literally move forward. Right, left, right, left.

How do you cope with “bad” things happen? Can you add to my list?

SUAR

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Finish Line

By now you all know what happened in Boston today.

How many times have we all run races with our loved ones waiting for us at the finish line? It never once occurred to me that any of us could be in danger. I don’t know that I’ll ever view any finish line, especially that one in Boston, the same again. I was not there today, but I was there two years ago today. My family waited for me at that finish line like so many other families today. I took ownership of that finish line because I worked so hard to get there. It holds a special place for me.

Horrible things keep tarnishing and hurting people, places and experiences we love. And, now, terror has touched running in a profound and new way.

We all know what the finish line of a race symbolizes -  pride, achievement, gratitude, fortune, happiness, relief, and hard work. The finish line is where we reunite with those that care about us, and where we share our hard sought accomplishments.  That line means so much.

To watch that older gentleman, just feet from the finish line, get blown off his feet and to the ground was devastating (amazingly, I found out that this man, Bill Iffrig – 78 years old, not only crossed the finish line, but he did so second in his age group and walked 1 km back to his hotel room. I love the determination of runners of all ages).

For that line to become a place of horror and carnage is surreal, disgusting, saddening, maddening.

Why, mom, does this keep happening?”

I have no clue what to tell my kids about our world anymore.

My heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in Boston today, especially those who passed, the injured, the traumatized, the scared.

Many have said the day of the Boston Marathon is the best day that the city experiences all year. I am so sorry today is now a part of Boston’s history. I’ll tell you one thing – this makes me want to work my butt off to get back there again. Stand up, fear not, be strong.

SUAR

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Surviving 20 Miles. Good Thing I Didn’t Ship My Pants

Why in the hell I selected this route for my 20 miler I’m not sure. Almost 900 feet of elevation gain. As if 20 miles is not enough, I thought I’d throw in a few hills in there as well (12 to be exact). Yeah, yeah might not seem like a lot to some of you hard core Colorado runners, but when you are trying to stick to a certain pace on a long run – it’s not easy.

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The good:

  • I ran it all
  • I did not puke
  • I fueled and hydrated well (2 gels – one at 6.5 miles, one at 12 miles. 30 ounces of water. One 11 ounce Premier Protein drink (review/giveaway coming later this week)– 30 grams of protein – waiting for me the minute I finished).
  • Joie joined me for the first 12 miles. Research has actually been done about the benefits of having someone work out with you. Apparently, with a buddy, your perception is that you are not working as hard.
  • It was a gorgeous day – perfect for running – 45 degrees, a slight breeze.

The bad:

  • Stomach issues haunted me for a bit. Good thing I had a buddy to be on the look out when I had to hide in the weeds (x3)
  • Hamstring issues. Discomfort from the beginning. I had that moment of wondering if I should bail on the run to avoid getting injured. But, then the pain eased up a bit, so I pressed on. Dumb ass decision? Wise decision? Time will tell. I feel like I am always playing Injury Roulette (definition: when a runner is not sure if what they are feeling is the start of an injury or something less, so they just keep pushing on, taking the gamble that it won’t become worse and they will have to stop training, sit out their race and cry in their beer for months to come).

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Pre-run, still feeling sassy

This is the first time in 2 years I have run this far, so I am proud of myself.  I will say that by the end of the run, however, I was not sure if I wanted to throw up, pass out, shit myself, or do all three at once. Speaking of “shipping oneself” have you seen this brilliant Kmart commercial? Who knew Kmart had such a sense of humor? Who even knew Kmart even existed anymore? (“I just shipped my pants and it’s very convenient!” Bahahahha!)

This is the thing about running long distances - I think if you are running or racing any distance, the last 25% of it can feel like torture. Run 10 miles? The last 2.5 are tough. Run 20 miles? The last 5 might suck. It just seems to be how this whole thing works mentally.

Does anyone else talk out loud to themselves when it gets really hard? At mile 16, I stopped for a minute and gave myself an out-loud pep talk. It was very boring: “Okay. You’re fine. You can do this. Don’t stop. Yes, stuff hurts, but you will be done soon and can lie down and have wine.” It kind of worked.

Are you injured? What do you wish you would have done differently in hindsight?

Ever talk to yourself while running, or is that just me?

Did you run long this weekend? How far?

SUAR

Thursday, April 11, 2013

12 Things I Want My Daughter To Know

Tomorrow I do my first 20-miler of this training cycle. I haven’t run 20 miles all at one time since the Boston Marathon almost exactly two years ago.  I don’t know why 20 miles is messing with my head so much. Oh, wait – yes I do. Because it is 20 freaking miles of running (insert non-runners favorite quote here “I can’t even drive that far!”)

Yesterday my “little” girl, Emma, turned 12.  She knows how I am and asked me if I was going to cry at various points throughout the day. I keep trying to explain to her that when I get teary about her getting older, when I get misty eyed when I look at younger pictures of her – it’s not because I’m sad – it’s because I’m feeling deep emotion – pride, nostalgia, happiness – okay, and maybe just a tad bit of sadness for a time gone by – a time to never occur again.

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I loved being 12. It was one of my favorite years of my life. I distinctly remember feeling young and little girlish when I was 11 – but really coming into my own when I was 12 (although puberty didn’t come until much later – hell, I think I’m still going through puberty). For many people, 13 is the BIG year, but for me – 12 brought on so many changes.

First and foremost, my family picked up and moved to Athens, Greece. I was yanked out of security and familiarity and dropped into culture shock, a new school, a new home, a new language, new friends, and a whole new country. I grew up a lot that year. And, fast.  (Here is my passport picture from 1979. Does ANYONE have a good passport picture?)

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I had so much to learn. I still have so much to learn. But at this moment in time – there are things I want Emma to know.

12 Things I Would Want My 12-Year-Old-Self to Know:

1. Being perfect is over-rated. No One and No Thing is perfect. Striving for perfection will only make you unhappy. Remember to always show up as who you are, and do not apologize for that. Your job is to be the best Emma you can be. Be yourself. Be your own person. Always do and say what is true for you and you cannot go wrong.

2. You will meet some boy someday who you think you cannot live without. But if he makes you change who you are, or makes you think less of yourself or does not live up to your high standards of what you think you deserve, he is not the one for you. Always know what you are worth.

3. Having good friends is essential – a true gift in your life. A friend always has your best interests in mind, but a friend is not always perfect. Remember that just like you, your friends are human. They will make mistakes and let you down. If they are a true friend, give them the benefit of the doubt. And remember, friendships will change. It is just part of life. Sometimes it will be time to let a friendship go, and that is okay.

4. To have a good friend, you must be a good friend. Be loyal, caring, and dependable. Listen, but don’t be afraid to lean on your friends for advice and support.

5. Even though it might sometimes seem that your friends are living a better life than you do–maybe they have more stuff, maybe they are an only child and get lots of attention, maybe they have tons of brothers and sisters and that seems fun, maybe they live in a huge house, maybe they take major vacations – whatever the case, or whatever the reason is that you think they have a life that you want – the grass is not greener. The life you have is exactly the one meant for you. The life you have can be whatever you want it to be. And, if you count your blessings and appreciate what you have, you will have the greatest life of all.

6. Love your brother. Sam might get on your nerves, but he is the only sibling you have. As you get older, he will become more and more important to you. You and Sam share a bond that you will never have with anyone else. Cherish that.

7. Cut your parents some slack. They are not perfect either, although they are doing the best that they can. As you get older, you will blame them for things – just remember that we always loved you and tried to do what we thought was the right thing for your growth and happiness.

8. Don’t hold grudges, life is too short.

9. Think about what you love to do and think about it a lot. Make sure you do bits of these things everyday. Always have the big picture in mind, and think forward to how you can bring the love and passion for those things into your life as you get older. This might happen in your job, by having children, in your marriage, who knows. Just never lose sight of the simple things that make you happy.

10. Be active. Not for the purpose of being thin or looking a certain way but because it makes you a better, more well-rounded person. Being active and moving your body will relieve stress, will put your life in perspective, will keep you young.

11. If you hurt someone, say you are sorry.

12. Do not worry. Worry will eat you up inside. Do your best everyday, then let the little things go. Things have a way of working themselves out. One of the best things to learn at a young age is that we cannot control things. The harder we try to make things a certain way, the more we will suffer because things NEVER hardly go as planned. Do your best to be open to the mystery of life.

What would you tell your younger self if you could?

What was your favorite age?

SUAR

PS: The winner of the Moji Massager is #134 Barefoot Tyler. Email me your address at beth@shutupandrun.net.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Follow-Up Sleep Number Bed Review (i10 Model)

You may remember that back in October I did a review on a Sleep Number Bed – the i10 Model. I was given the bed to review after doing a post about the impact of lack of sleep on running performance (Damn! Maybe now I should do a review on how not living on a yacht in the Mediterranean negatively impacts my running performance).

When I wrote that post, I had been sleeping terribly – tossing and turning, waking a lot, having a hard time getting comfortable. It was absolutely affecting my training and I was turning into more and more of a bitch by the hour. Ken and I even tried switching sides of the bed, which was a total disaster. That just made me toss and turn, wake a lot and have a hard time getting comfortable, but on the WRONG SIDE OF THE BED.

In my original Sleep Number Bed Review, I had promised to do a follow up review after a few months, but I never did because 1) I’m lazy, 2) I felt I needed more time.

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I knew if I waited long enough I’d get inspired. I have gotten tons of emails asking about the bed and how I like it after a few months. I have to say, it wasn’t until I went to Mexico last week and slept on another bed for several nights that I realized just how IN LOVE with the Sleep Number I really am. The quote, “absence makes the heart grow fonder” doesn’t just refer to your love life,  it refers to your BED LIFE!

Before I get into the follow up review, let me say this - I am a believer that a bed is not a panacea. While the right bed/mattress can significantly help with one’s sleep in terms of providing support and comfort, there are (IMHO) many other factors that affect sleep including caffeine and alcohol consumption, anxiety, too much stimulation before bed, etc. This very scientific pie chart I created gives a good visual of what I mean:

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Now onto the follow up review. Here’s what we think of the bed after 6 months of use:

  • Pain Reduction: The HUGEST bit of feedback I have is from Ken. He is someone that, prior to getting the bed, was getting out of bed every single morning stiff and achy. He states that while the bed hasn’t changed his sleeping that much, how he feels in the morning is drastically different. He now gets out of bed with either no aches and pains or significantly less than he had before using the bed.  This is most likely because when you buy the bed you get your sleep number based on how well it conforms to your body and supports it.
  • Comfort: Unlike Ken, I don’t usually wake with achiness (he is a year older, after all). What I notice most about the bed is pure comfort. I really can’t explain it more than that. When we went on vacation and slept on another bed, I slept terribly. The beds were hard, but I usually like that (TWSS). However, the minute I got home and got back into my bed, I realized just what a difference the Sleep Number makes.
  • Setting the Numbers: Since we set our original numbers back in October, we really haven’t messed with them at all. The bed has held up well with no sagging or “give” to the mattress.
  • Possible Complaints – Foam Divider/Air Loss: Some people have asked if the foam divider in the middle of the bed (separating the two sides and the two air chambers) creates discomfort. We have not noticed this at all. It may be because we have significant padding on the bed. We have also had no air loss whatsoever.
  • Possible Complaints – Noise: Some people complain about the noise that the pump makes. This is crazy in my opinion. You only use the pump when you are adjusting your sleep number and it takes about ten seconds. Once it is set, you don’t hear noise from the pumps because they are not engaged. Like I said, we hardly change our numbers.
  • Downside: I still think the only real downside of this bed is the cost. Our model is near the top of the line and therefore the most expensive. It retails for about $4,700, but at any given time you can usually get it on sale for $3,800. The basic model goes for as little as $998. This is still a huge investment. I did notice on the website that they offer a 30 day in home trial. Basically, you can try the bed for 30 days and if you don’t like it, they will fully reimburse you minus the home delivery and set up fees.  Would I actually BUY one of these beds? Yes, but I’d have to go with the more basic model.

Please note: These are my (and Ken’s) personal and unbiased observations/reviews of the bed. We were given the bed for free, but were not asked to make a positive review or influenced in any way. And, it was not part of my contract to do a follow up review. I fully realize that over time, our impressions of the bed may shift.

Let me know if you have questions.

If you’ve had a Sleep Number Bed, how do you like it?

What kind of bed do you sleep on? 

SUAR

Sunday, April 7, 2013

5 Reasons Your Run Might Have Sucked Today

Not all runs are created equal. You could have gone out yesterday for six miles and felt like a stud – strong, swift, light. Then you could have gone out of the exact six miles today and felt like a piece of dog crap (that is the technical term) - weak, sluggish and heavy. Why the difference if it’s the same distance and same route?

1. You’re More Dehydrated Today – It doesn’t have to be hot as hell outside for you to feel the effects of dehydration. Even in the winter and springtime, you’ve got to make sure you’re drinking enough. The trick is not just to drink while running, but to start your run already hydrated. 

How do you know if you’re drinking enough? Instead of focusing on the number of ounces consumed, I like to go by this rule of thumb (or “rule of pee” as I like to call it) - make sure you urinate at least six times per day and that your piss looks like the lemonade that you get at a kid’s lemonade stand (very pale, watered down).

Don’t know how much to drink while you run? Check out these guidelines {source}:

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2. You’re More Stressed Today – Stress can really mess with you and zap all of your energy stores. When you are stressed, your body becomes WAY out of balance. This can lead to all sorts of physical and emotional conditions like headaches, GI distress, loss of appetite, racing thoughts, poor judgment, worrying, overeating, cheat pain and elevated blood pressure.

No wonder your run feels difficult – you are not only carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, but your physical body is breaking down.

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This is me being stressed out (and ugly)

It is true that many/most of us use running as a means of relieving stress. And, it works. However, when we start our runs already very stressed out, our energy level and physical sensations may be gravely affected. Just be prepared.

3. You Didn’t Sleep Last Night – I am sure I don’t have to tell you how important sleep is. In fact, I wrote an article on the effects that lack of sleep has on running performance (view it HERE).

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This is me being tired and napping because I didn't sleep enough the night before

Basically, without proper sleep, your body doesn’t  recover as well from previous workouts. Your immune system can become compromised making your more susceptible to illness. And guess what? You simply FEEL MORE TIRED when you try to run (<I am so incredibly smart).

4. You Overindulged Last Night – I don’t know about you, but I run much better when I’ve paid attention to my my eating the night before and the hours leading up to my run. It’s not rocket science to know that your body has to work harder to digest fatty, heavy foods than it does leaner, lighter foods. Also, richer roods can lead to more stomach upset, which can absolutely cause you to feel sluggish during your run (and to maybe have to make more pit stops). Other items such as dairy-based foods, berries, chocolate and alcohol can also be difficult to digest and cause heartburn and acid reflux (and keep in mind that even healthy foods like broccoli and cabbage can lead to stomach distress/gas).

5. You Have a Bad Attitude Today– Let’s face it. Some days you just do not feel like being out there. That’s just human nature. However, it is amazing how quickly those negative thoughts affect your physical well being and immediately zap your energy.

The good news is that 97.6% of bad runs are followed by good runs (I made that up, but I am sure it is true). I think this is because the sucky run was so sucky that your expectations for the next run are LOW. Having low expectations can sometimes be a good thing because you are usually pleasantly surprised. The moral of the story is - don’t get discouraged. Some runs are just harder than others. Control what you can (sleep, hydration, fueling, attitude) and keep pushing on.

 

Have you had a rough run lately? What do you think contributed to it? Yes, this morning’s 10 mile run felt difficult the whole way. I was overly sore from a boot camp class, had eaten too much last night and was probably dehydrated. Plus, my attitude sucked.

SUAR

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Time I Did the Aztec Two-Step

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Ocean Coral and Turquesa, Puerto Moreles, Mexico

Mexico was great, thanks for asking.

You probably didn’t even know I was gone.  Which breaks my heart.

I know you think the above picture is a professional image, but NO – I actually took it with my phone early one morning.

You see, at this lovely hotel (and it was lovely) you had to get up at the ass crack of dawn to reserve a chair at the beach and/or pool, so this was good picture taking time. The chair thing was very cut throat. I am lucky I get up early anyway, so it wasn’t an issue for me. But, let me tell you – if you were hung over or just someone who likes to sleep in – you were screwed in the chair department.

They actually had a security guard patrolling and if you left your towel unattended on a chair too long, he’d take it. I’m sure you could be dancing naked with a machine gun and smoking marijuana and that would not be an issue – but leave a towel on your chair too long unattended and you just might be thrown in a Mexican jail for years to come.

The stressors of vacationing, I tell ya!

It was a great trip. Our room was right on the beach, so I’d get up early and see this:

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The resort had a jogging path (I preferred to call it a “running” path because I am not a JOGGER dammit) that went around the resort and along the beach. It was 1300 meters or just over .75 mile – so I’d do it 8 times or so, then call it good because by that time the humidity had almost killed me (I don’t know how you guys run in that).

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This is not me

I’d pop over to the buffet and take a few chocolate croissants and some fruit. Then I’d lay around the rest of the day, maybe getting up to play some beach volleyball or lift my head to order another margarita. One day Emma and I walked to the town of Puerto Moreles (about 3 miles along the beach). Emma got a bit traumatized when we passed by a nude beach (it is this place if you ever want to go). I, on the other hand, was taking it all in because I don’t get out much and my subscription to Play Girl ran out.

Here is what we look like when we are relaxed and not bickering at each other (I think that sticker on the door means you’re not allowed to wear pants on the balcony):

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This picture  makes me laugh because it looks like Emma had an eye lift.

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My two main men:

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Offspring:

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18 years of marriage and we kind of still look like we like each other. Or, maybe that’s the tequila talking.

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I only came home with two souvenirs. The first one is this shell which is at least as big as my head:

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I found it on the beach. I am still expecting something to crawl out of it and scare the crap out of me.

My other souvenir is not really something I can show you – but some of you might have had it yourself at one time if you went to Mexico. I believe they call it Montezuma’s Revenge, but you can also call it the Aztec Two Step (which I prefer because it seems very cultured – “traveler’s diarrhea” just  doesn’t have the same ring to it). I think it’s nice to bring home a souvenir that just keeps on giving!!

Today was back to reality. I went to the gym to do 8 x 800s (Yassos). I almost died because the Aztec Two Step does not mix with 8 x 800s. I always lose count of my intervals, so I brought jelly beans and ate one after each 800 to keep track. It was a very sophisticated system and worked well.

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Now it’s time to catch up on all the crap that didn’t happen while I was away…

 

Have you ever had food poisoning? I ask this because I always worry about it when we travel and eat at a bunch of buffets. I’ve never had food poisoning even once, believe it or not.

Do you exercise while on vacation? Yep, I always run – it’s a great way to see the town/resort/city where you are staying. And you can stuff your face a bit more than you normally would.

SUAR

Monday, April 1, 2013

Moji 360 Massager Review and Giveaway!

Here is my confession. I have a love affair with my foam roller (FR).

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We watch TV together. We drink wine together. My foam roller knows all of my intricate and delicate body parts and does his (her?) best to take care of them.

Now it looks like FR’s got some competition. Moji has come to town. Now, FR will never be replaced, per se, but I am feeling a bit attracted to Moji. It’s offering me some things FR just cannot.

This may look like a torture device, but believe you me – it is just the opposite (although it could probably do some damage if you slammed someone in the face with it – not suggesting that).

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What is a MOJI?

Basically, it is a self-massager that claims to break up scar tissue and go deep, deep, deep to immediately relieve sore and tight muscles. Apparently it “mimics the stokes of a massage therapist” (no happy ending, though). The device is multi directional – it can go sideways, up and down or in circles to hit the right spot (I’m sorry but I’m going to NEED to put a TWSS right here).

I decided to wait and put this baby to the test after my 16 mile run on Friday. I started with my calves, because my left one has been getting really tight after about 11 miles.

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It takes a few strokes to get used to the Moji and to find out how to position it for the right amount of pressure. Once you find the sore spot or cramped area, you can work it. The larger balls are for deep tissue while the smaller ones are for lighter massage. I love balls. All sizes.

Yes, I used to be a gymnast. Now I just pretend to be one in my kitchen.

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Next I attacked my IT bands. Those babies have been tight. Funny thing is, I don’t notice them being tight, but when I roll them, they hurt like a mother. Also, when my acupuncturist sticks a needle into them I pretty much wet myself. Again, with the Moji it took a minute to find the right spot and position. The Moji is really lightweight and easy to maneuver so it isn’t hard make it work. This video gives a better idea of how it works.

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Turns out the Moji has a little sister, the mini hand held Moji.

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This smaller version is awesome. Very flexible and fits right into your palm. You can apply it to your hurt spot and rub away (see me rubbing my glute in this action shot):

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The Moji did seem to loosen things up for me. The claim of immediately alleviating soreness was true, although in some cases the soreness returned later. This is not a miracle tool, but it does produce some decent results after a long run.

The Pros:

  • Without having to apply much pressure, the Moji provides a deep massage that can pinpoint certain areas.
  • The Moji is a nice alternative or addition to the FR, because the balls roll smoothly over target areas in all directions. You can get a bit more specific about your target area than with the FR. Stick massagers also don’t always get small pinpoint areas.
  • This thing is light and portable, unlike an FR. You could easily put in your gym bag or suitcase (although it might not make it through security).
  • The Moji makes it pretty easy to reach hard to get to places like the center of your back or your hamstrings.

The Cons:

  • I’m not certain it’s that different from other hand held massagers out there – I haven’t tried them all.
  • Price. The Moji is rather expensive and goes for $69.99 (for a combo pack containing both the Moji Massager and Mini Massager). If it really works, than that is a steal, but it’s a high price point if you are not sure it’s going to do the trick for you.

Giveaway:

Want to try a Moji and a mini-Moji? I’ve got a prize pack to give away.

To enter:

  • Tell me in a comment why you want to try this torture device + 1 entry
  • Blog, FB or twat about this giveaway and leave a comment telling me +1 entry

Giveaway ends April 8th. Prize can only be shipped within the US.

Good luck!

SUAR

Fine Print: Moji sent me the product for this review and giveaway in exchange for my unbiased review.