Change is Good! And VOTE!

It is human nature to "fear" change but in all reality, change is good. It may be hard. It may be confusing. It may be unwanted at the time. But it is good. And I love to change things up visually!

We have been in our current home just over a year...13 months to be exact. In that time, my treadmill has been in two locations, the living room has been rearranged three times, the adult bedroom has been rearranged twice, and darling daughter's room has been rearranged three times. If there was a way to rearrange the kitchen and bathroom, I probably would have done those too. But in a way I have. I have rotated throw rugs, changed towels, and removed the over-the-toilet shelf. Yep, I love changing things up!

With that in mind, this blog was "born" 2/16/11 with this wee-little welcome post. Boy, I have changed things up along the way in post structure! But in all reality, the template/format is only in version two and that was adopted eons ago.

I know there needs to be some consistency in a product/blog/brand to allow it to me recognizable and I am not going all out crazy and becoming a different type of blog. The essence of me and what I envision for this blog are the same. I am just embarking on a few acts to bring a breath of fresh air, so to speak, and to get my blog to the level I want it to be....aesthetically. You see, I am learning new tricks and want to apply them. I am cementing my feet in what my primary goals are and want you, the readers, to know them. With that said, if I do something crazy that makes reading and enjoying this blog difficult, scream out and let me know! I promise to not take offense and perhaps, may change back!

Change 1 is already live....I got rid of one of the sidebars because I like to have more of a post on the computer screen personally when I read blogs. That makes my right sidebar a bit longer but I am trying to ascertain what I want to keep and what may be unnecessary fluff. I have weened out some gadgets.

Change 2 is underway and I have already received some voting feedback from twitter, facebook, and instagram. VOTE by commenting below! Which do you prefer? A or B! And I am not going to influence you by telling you which is "winning" so far! And yes, these are just snippets of the images and not the end result of what I have in mind. Just one element.

How do you feel about change? Are you in or out? Is your house in a constant state of flux in terms of furniture placement or is it set and never touched?

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful that my mom demonstrated that is it is okay to move furniture around on a regular basis. 
Daily Affirmation: I love my ability to view change as an opportunity for growth!


Achy, achy taper aches

9 days until the Honolulu Marathon! If you envision me sitting with my feet propped up, drinking a nice hot tea, and relaxing while looking over course maps you are absolutely crazy. Although, in some regards I wish I could do that. But instead...I am aching and pretty much everywhere. Okay, that isn't true, just everywhere below my waist!

This is my third taper and if you count in those many recovery weeks, I know this is normal. I begin to ache everywhere and logically I know it is because my body is rebuilding, getting stronger, and hydrating since I am drinking plenty of fluids. Personally, I go for the iced tea, unsweetened please...it's a Texas thing.

For my readers who are experienced with longer runs and tapering, you also know this is normal. If you are new to longer distances or embarking on your first taper, don't panic when you start to ache more or in new places. Recognize it as part of the healing process and more free time to worry about every little ache. Such as that ache in my foot when I got home yesterday evening. Instant thought - oh my! Did I hurt my foot somehow? Will I be okay? It lingered in my mind nagging me until I got distracted by playing with darling daughter, going out to family movie night, and alas...my foot is fine. Doesn't ache a wink. Well, until I started thinking about it and wondering and then hmmm....perhaps an ache there? But hey, if you are looking for an ache, you will find it. Forget it!

So what do I do? Well, a nice soak in the tub is good but mainly for relaxing my mind. Trying to stretch a little extra and perhaps some foam rolling. And no one can underestimate good old fashioned sleep. Yep, running less means I convert that time I would be running to sleeping time. Perhaps not minute to minute but I am enjoying the extra sleep, and cuddles, with darling daughter. And most importantly, don't panic! Now is the time to have trust in the training done, visualize hurdles and how to successfully overcome them, review the course map, commit to your plan, and have faith!

How do you combat the achy, achy aches of taper/recovery?

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for free family movie nights at our local public library. It was a smashing good time!
Daily Affirmation: My mind is strong. My will is strong. I am strong.


Honolulu Marathon Goals

This topic has been bouncing in my mind throughout this training cycle. What are my goals for the Honolulu Marathon? Do I aim for my ambitious goals of breaking 4:20 and a 4:00 marathon? Do I aim to PR, which would be breaking 4:36:16. This PR was set just this past September and my time the previous year was 4:46:40 at the same race. Thing is, I know my ambitious goals will happen and based on some of my recent race times, they are indeed doable. I just don't know what these legs really have in them less than two weeks away.

Now before I get the virtual lectures on trust and faith, it isn't that I am doubting my capabilities. I know my dreams will come true but I don't know when. And for me, that is okay. My last two races have blown my mind away with my performance and I went into both not competing but with the goal to run well, to do a training run, and to enjoy. I had my eyes set on the Honolulu Marathon. But yet, I was still goalless for that race.

As I sit here typing the goals are still whirling in my mind. I know I can set BEST, BETTER, and GOOD goals and traditionally, that is the case. I know a new PR would make me happy. How couldn't it? I know dear hubby sees me breaking 4:20, and perhaps approaching 4:15. He has said as much. And I know he will not get it if I state I am not going in with a time goal. But I think that is my plan. Not to have a time goal.

Sounds odd, doesn't it? Now, not having a specific time goal to me isn't exactly what you might think it means. I have a pacing strategy. I really need to work on this in order to achieve my greater marathon goals. I tend to start to fast. I run out of energy at the end. Yes, in some regards this is indeed normal and I don't want to sprint across the finish with a tons of reserves in the bank either. I just need to fine tune this. For the Harbor to Harbor, I ran awesome negative splits. It felt great. For the Turkey Trot my final mile was indeed my fastest and I did wobble some in time. I wasn't as consistent in paces as I was for the Harbor to Harbor and I attribute that to first, there were hills and second, I started out faster. I promise, that race report will be coming soon.

So my "I don't have a time goal" really means, I want to try to run a consistent 10'00" pace...or at least as much as possible. For those you are quick at math, you know that brings me to a finish time of 4:22. But I am not locking onto that number in my mind. There is some uphill climbs, there is running in new territory, there is a crowded race course, and those are a lot of unknowns. So I feel I can't set a realistic goal with all of those variables. And yes, that is the data analyst side of me coming out. Too many unknowns to draw a clear and reliable prediction.

Used picmonkey.com to combine HNL 26.2 Course Maps
Therefore my BEST goal is to run as best as I can, to have fun, to savor each step and relish in the fact that each step is a blessing, to enjoy the atmosphere, and by golly, to finish and get that medal to make darling daughter proud!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for fudge.
Daily Affirmation: I am able to lessen the load on myself, ease my mind, and put fate in God's hands.


First Week of Marathon Taper - Done

On December 9th I am running my third marathon. My first was in September 2011 and my second was this past September, in which I PR'd but it was a hard run....mentally and physically.

With just a few months between marathons my training this cycle has seemed very odd to me. I had a few weeks to recovery, a few to build, and now it is time to taper. I am also trying a new twist to this round of tapering, which leaves me running a bit more and still pushing it a bit. I feel I backed off perhaps a bit too much during my last taper.

So first let's review my taper plan. I am doing a three-week taper with 80-90% of my weekly miles in week 1, 60-70% in week 2, and 50% in week 3. I am basing my calculations on the 44.44 mile week I had in the final week of building up. In addition, I am doing a little twist in week 3 but I will get back to that in a moment.

To put things in miles, my plan was to run 35.6-40 miles this week, 26.6-31.1 miles next week, and not more than 22 miles pre-race. This is the hiccup part. The way my running week goes, Monday to Sunday, it puts my marathon on the last day of my running week. So if I add those miles in and run 22 miles in week 3, that would be a 48.2 mile week. I don't think that is necessarily smart as my highest training week this marathon cycle was 44.44 miles.. If I do 30%, a final week taper suggestion I also read, that would be 13.3 miles the final week in the days leading up to the marathon bringing me to a total mileage of 39.5. I like that better. It is just a gut feeling.

How did I do this week?

I ended up running 36.18 miles and am happy with that. I also feel a bit of edginess coming on but in all reality, there is a hormonal element contributing as well. My body is feeling achy, heavy, and somewhat lethargic but I still manage to pull off some awesomeness at the oddest times. In all reality, I think I am okay and feeling what I should. But here is what my running looks liked in a nutshell:

Monday: 2.25 miles on gym TM (pace 9'18")
Tuesday: 3.0 miles on gym TM (pace 10'01")
Wednesday: 3.0 miles on gym TM (pace 10'01"), 2.5 miles on home incline TM (pace 12'14")
Thursday: 9.61 miles outside (pace 7'50")
Friday: 1.24 miles outside (pace 9'33")
Saturday: 6.22 miles on gym TM (pace 10'14"), 3.1 miles on home incline TM (pace 12'03")
Sunday: 5.26 miles on home incline TM (pace 11'40")

And I can't say I have been resting since I am extremely busy at work, have been playing with darling daughter, attending parties, and decorating for Christmas! Oh yeah, and add in a bit of holiday shopping.

I am also participating in HBBC, hosted by Run to the Finish, and it is helping me stay focused on eating more fruits and veggies and only eating sweet indulgences I really do love. So no birthday cake. No pie. But I will take a bit of that delicious fudge please!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for holiday sales and great customer service.
Daily Affirmation: I am capable and worthy.


Vitacost Sale!

I have some exciting news! At least, I find it super exciting. In case you missed it, earlier this week I posted my list of 8 Affordable Gifts for Active People. One of the items was my trusty go to vanilla GU gel. It is so hard for me to keep dear hubby and I in stock of this fuel when our miles are up with low supplies on island. Through amazon.com I discovered Vitacost.com carries GU gel! Yippee! I ordered, they delivered, and honestly, it got to me much quicker than I ever imagined. Score 2!

Now things get better and better. One day when I had a bit of free time of my hands I started browsing Vitacost.com to see just what more they have to offer. I must confess, my browsing was triggered by a runner friend who suggested I check them out for purchasing some Vega One I have been dying to train more with. And yes, they carry the Vega One that I can only purchase from one store on island and a host of other items, and it isn't just sports nutrition. Vitacost.com states they carry of 2,000 diet foods, healthy living essentials, supplements, whole foods and sports nutrition products. And they off products at a discounted price. And they are discounting more for a limited time!

With Black Friday behind us and Cyber Monday just in front of us, Vitacost.com is offering 15% off everything on their site from 11/24/2012 9:00AM EST to 11/26/2012 11:59 PM EST so if there is something you want or need, it may be a good time to head on over! And perhaps a good time for me to stock up on the necessary vanilla GU gels and perhaps treat myself to some Vega One!

P.S. Remember to use the promocode: SAVEBIG.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for discounts.
Daily Affirmation: I am infinitely blessed and well, and I am psyched for success!


Three Random Things

My thoughts are bouncing all around today so I thought I would share some randomness with you.

1. Dear hubby and I ran a Turkey Trot yesterday. The local running club has three options, dear hubby did 16 miles and as much as I wanted to, I did the 8.6 mile route, which my GPS said was 9.61 miles, since it was better aligned with my training/taper schedule. More to come on that later!

2. At times you may find my eyes welling up with tears at work but it isn't what you think. I just have that much empathy and on a regular basis come across stories of others losses, such as today a little girl who lost her life to a drunk driver. Her family was doing a membership in her memory. Gut wrenching and I can just feel their sorry....especially as we are really into the holiday season. So just be safe and hug you loved ones a bit longer today.

3. Zaneta is hosting a Christmas Card swap on her blog again. Hop on over and join in! I did this for the first time last year and it was a fun way to connect with other bloggers and just spread the love of the season.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for friends who feel like family.
Daily Affirmation: My empathy makes me a stronger person.


8 Affordable Gifts for Active People

I know my family isn't the only family that tries to incorporate holiday giving into our tight budgets. Fortunately, we all see things the same way and the whole family focuses more on giving to the younger children as this is where the real magic is. But I can't help feeling bad for the older kids and adults at times. But do not fear! There is a way to show them you care while not breaking the bank!

Here are my holiday gift suggestions for the active people in your life. Now, we all know I am slanted towards running but I do honestly feel some of these items will be awesome for those who love other sports as well....and they are all affordable!

1. Body Glide - This gift doesn't cost much, approximately $9 per bottle, but trust me, the recipient will be greatly appreciative of protecting their delicate areas from chafing. You can never really have too much Body Glide and I often carry one in my purse for at the gym and keep one at home for other runs. Want to make it extra special for the ladies in your life? Get the pink bottle! And it fits great in a stocking!

2. Bondi Bands - I am in complete love with this product. I know there are other brands that stay in place. I have tried them all but come back to Bondi Bands for one primary reason....the wicking property! I love that added bonus and hey, the catchy phrases can make me feel strong! This is another inexpensive product with heavy wicking bands (with sayings) starting at $8 and they often have sales! They have other interesting products in their line-up but I haven't tried them personally but would love to hear what you think....especially about the wicking pony hat! Sounds cool in cooler weather. You can read more about my thoughts on Bondi Bands HERE.

3. GU Gel - I know part of me would love to find more realistic, true food for my nutrition on long runs but I keep going back to GU gel because it works. My body is able to absorb it and keep on running without complaint and this makes a wonderful gift for any endurance athlete in your life. The price starts around $1.59 per gel (at least here in Hawaii) and personally, vanilla is dear hubby's and my favorite. I recently bought the entire stock at our local sports store...but that was only 8 gels...so I turn to ordering online. Through amazon I discovered Vitacost, a great supplier of GU gels and other cool treats!

4. Protein Powder - Another essential in my household and yes, it would be a greatly appreciated gift! Especially ProSource NytroWhey! You can read my review HERE. I really love how this powder mixes and tastes and even though their website says the retail price is $55.90 I often see it on sale for $27.95...and almost tempted to say always. Why oh why don't I just break down and order some today?!

Dear hubby has the bottle
5. Nathan Handheld Water Bottle - This is a given for hydration on the go, especially for those who can't quite carry packs yet....or are too afraid of the chafing. In fact, Nathan makes hydration packs to wear around your hips and even though I don't like them as they bounce too much, it may be perfect for someone you love. I personally adore the QuickDraw models and for this gift, you may be getting closer to the $30 range.

6. Clean Bottle - I WANT this bottle! Truly I do! But I haven't purchased one since I have 3 Nathan bottles and one handheld carrier. What more do I need? But if I were to receive this as a gift I would be one happy runner! Why am I drawn to it? Simply because the bottom screws off for better cleaning! Who wouldn't like that? The bottle is $29.85 but as I looked today, I see they are having a buy 3 get 1 free deal going on. Perhaps you have lots of active people in your life!

7. ShowerPill - This product I recently fell in love with and you can read my review HERE. At tops it sells for $14.99 for a pack of 10 wipes but I see it going for $9.99 on amazon.com. And in conjunction with my product review, they are offering my readers a special coupon code for orders placed from 11/23/12-11/25/12. Just hop over HERE to get the code for the buy 2 get 1 FREE deal! And yes, I will be stocking up for myself and to stuff stockings with!

8. fitbook - This is truly a great tool for monitoring your fitness/health journey. If I could have one every day of my life, I would, but often the money that could be spent on this goes to other necessities in my house. But it makes a perfect gift! One book is $22.95 but you can save some if you buy 4. Plus there is a junior version that I am sure darling daughter will love when she gets a bit older. You can read a bit more on fitbook HERE. I always log my runs, in multiple places, but I love that this book allows me to easily add in what I eat...and I truly did focus on that throughout my training for marathon #2!

But in our home, dear hubby and I will most likely be swapping running shoes....the gift of necessity as we both need a new pair!


20 miles on a treadmill.....DONE!

Yesterday marked my final long day before starting a three-week taper for the Honolulu Marathon. I will talk more about tapering later. But right now, let's talk long run. I wanted those 20 miles more than anything! I hadn't done a 20-miler in this training cycle and before everyone gasps let me point out one thing. My training started post-marathon on September 16th and included recovery, building up, and now tapering. And my recovery took some time....but I don't regret dedicating my energy to that phase. So let's talk long run!

I was afraid of this 20-miler for some reason. Perhaps fear isn't the right word but I seriously had jitters and was doubting myself. Doubt plagued me in October and fortunately, come November I knew my mind was playing tricks on me and that I had the power within. Still, I longed to run those 20 miles with someone and it irked me that I wanted that since I felt it was a crutch I was clinging to. But when dear hubby said he wanted to run with me on the weekend with this run I was happy inside. But then things changed. He couldn't. He had to work. Plan B was to run it Saturday as a split between the gym treadmill and my home incline treadmill. I doubted I could do it all at an incline. But then things changed. Darling daughter got sick. That incline treadmill was my only hope. 

After heading home early with darling daughter on Friday I thought the timing was ideal to get the run over with. She was sick. We picked up a couple of Redbox and I envisioned her cuddled on the couch watching flicks while I ran unhappily merrily along. But shortly after 30 minutes planned changed. She wanted her mommy. She comes first. Plan B. Get up early Saturday and run before we needed to be at the Christmas craft fair. But I postponed and the final words I told darling daughter that night were, we are skipping the gym as you are still sick and Mommy will just run long Sunday. Plan C. Get up early Sunday and get a good portion of the run done before darling daughter woke up. I slept in with her. I didn't want to be up alone running in the dark and told myself the noise would wake up the family. Darn procrastination. 

Even though I opted to sleep in I did plan for success Saturday night. Darling daughter and I had discussed our plan. She knew where to find me when she woke up. We had crafts and playdough down from the high shelves for her to play with. We had movies selected and placed by the TV for easing reloading. I had my Gatorade chilling, my gels by the treadmill, and my clothes all laid out. The coffee was programmed to brew. I was good to go. 

Pre-run briefing. 
As I put on my socks and shoes I reiterated with darling daughter how important this run was for me and that it was my final chance. To cement it I told her I had to do all 20 miles if I were to succeed at the marathon. After her initial "woah, 20 miles!" she looked at me and asked, "so you need to do this run so you can get a medal mommy?". I replied "yes, I do and don't let me get off this treadmill until I am done."

Running with a preschooler.
As much as darling daughter is used to me running on the treadmill at home most runs are less than 60 minutes with the bulk around 30 minutes. Today was going to be different. I tried to set us up for success by getting toys down and knew the room would get messier and messier. Our standard mode of operation is she lets me run, I help clean up afterwards...although it seems I do all the cleaning. Seems like a fair trade-off. But I was worried. Would she be able to endure my 4 hours of running? More importantly, would I be able to endure a constant stream of "are you done yet" and not go crazy and give up? Within 30 minutes of running I had a brilliant idea! Wash clothes!

The wash cloth countdown.
Distraction is the key to success in so many situations. And being able to see progress makes it so much easier. Hence, wash clothes! While running I asked darling daughter to go get 8 wash clothes out of the cupboard for a fun game. She eagerly agreed and came running back. I told her she could put them on the chair and then asked her to take one and put in on the floor. I then let her in on the fun....for each 30 minutes Mommy runs, you will get another wash cloth and put it on the tower. Then you will be able to see my progress and know when I am getting closer to done. She loved it and was actively involved in it until the very end. And only once (or twice) was I asked if it was almost time for the next wash cloth! And it gave me a 30-minute mark to focus on. Win-Win!

Mommy, are you tired?
Yep, at about 13 miles darling daughter gazed over at me from her playdough fun at the table and asked if I was tired. My response, "yes, but Mommy only has 7 more miles to go." And to me, this is one of the best elements of my run yesterday. Not her asking me if I was tired per se but having her there with me. She was a great support system but didn't like being referred to as my support team. She was my daughter. She refilled my bottle with water twice. She changed out my sweaty wash clothes with dry ones twice. She brought me a Hershey peppermint candy when I felt I was about to crash. She was amazing! Although at the end when my eyes welled up with tears out of pure happiness of success she told me she couldn't hug or congratulate me until I stopped crying. So I stopped.

Tornado Zone.
And when I was done I told myself it was good for my legs to move around, bend up and down, etc. while I cleaned up her playtime fun. And in all reality, she did a pretty good job at not getting too crazy messy! I am blessed!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for my daughter. I know I say that often but really, I am!
Daily Affirmation: I am setting a good example for others.

@UnderArmour Seamless Shorties WINNER

As much as I want to talk about my long run that I did yesterday, I feel many of you really just want to know who won the Under Armour Seamless shorties, right? You can read more about them HERE.

There were an amazing 183 entries in this giveaway and I loved reading all the comments about what you would love from Under Armour, especially all the comments related to cold weather gear. For some reason, I don't think my idea of cold weather is anything near what some of you stellar ladies and gentlemen are facing. If I could, I would give each and every one of you a prize but instead, all I can give is each and every one of you a virtual pat on the back and a congrats for a job well done in all you daily training adventures!

So without any further adieu, Laurel C. come on up! Laurel's tweet on 11/14/12 was randomly drawn by Rafflecopter as the winner! Congrats Laurel. You have until 11/23/12 to contact me at lifeasarunningmom (gmail) with your shortie size, full name, and physical mailing address. I will forward this on to Under Armour, who will ship the shorties directly to you! If I do not here from Laurel by Black Friday, another winner will be drawn....but I am sure I will be hearing from her very soon.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful to be able to pay it forward through this product review and giveaway opportunity with Under Armour.
Daily Affirmation: I am tough! (in a good way)


ShowerPill Athletic Body Wipe - Product Review & Coupon Code

When I first heard about ShowerPill Athletic Body Wipe I was intrigued. When I got the opportunity to try the product, I was eager. When I first used the product, I fell in love....at first wipe.

But let's step back a moment. The ShowerPill Athletic Body Wipe is a single use wipe that is intended to be used after exercise to clean you up a bit, and kill some germs, if you don't have the time to shower immediately. For some, this may not be a scenario you find yourself in very often and at first, I figured this would be ideal post race when you want to hang out a little longer at the after party and feel refreshed. But I quickly realized, I often find myself in the situation where there is a delay from running time to shower time. Truth be told, there are some weekends I run at the gym with darling daughter and we just skip my shower time to allow us to get onto other pressing matters of the day. A quick wipe would be awesome! Especially one that makes you feel refreshed and clean.

Ironically, I never thought about using any other wipe such as baby wipes and now that I have tried the ShowerPill Athletic Body Wipe, I wouldn't dream of using a substitute. Not all wipes are indeed created equal and I have had years of experience of various wipes being the mom of a 4.5 year old.

The first thing I noticed about the ShowerPill Athletic Body Wipe is that it is thick and durable. It didn't tear about and felt more like a cloth than a standard wipe. This was nice. And it was big. Their website says 9x8 inches and I believe it but honestly, didn't pull out a ruler. It was larger than my hand and by the way, they suggest using different sides for wiping different parts of your body to avoid just rubbing bacteria around.

By why am I talking bacteria? Because this wipe has some antibacterial elements to it but also contains aloe to keep your skin soft. There is a scent but it is very subtle and nice. And most importantly, it doesn't feel heavy on your skin later. I am really picky about what goes on my skin. You can often find me rinsing lotion off my skin after applying since I don't like the residue feeling. This wipe leaves me feeling clean, refreshed, and perhaps a bit less stinky. Now for sweaty running clothes, it doesn't help that but hey, no one or nothing can do everything!

Of course, after falling in love with the product I was determined I wanted more and can totally see me having this in my purse/gym bag for whenever I need it. So I "hopped" on over to their website to see how much a box costs. The orders go through Amazon.com at this link. It says the list price is $14.99 but is selling for $9.99 and there are 10 wipes in a box. This comes to as little as $1.49 or $0.99 a wipe and I can so much do that! It is nice when you love a product and can afford it!!

And guess what? I have great news! ShowerPill is offering my readers the chance to Buy two (2) and get one (1) FREE at a special Black Friday sale at amazon.com. You will need to put three boxes in your cart and enter the code: SPFRIDAY to activate the coupon. This coupon is only valid from 11/23/12-11/25/12 so mark your calendars! I know I will be and am already thinking this will be a great stocking stuffer for my spearfishing and surfing stepson!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for the opportunity to try new products.
Daily Affirmation: I am lovable.

Disclaimer: I received this product free to review through a FitFluential campaign. I was not paid to write this post. I did not promise a positive review. These opinions are solely my own. 


Being Thankful

It is that time of year again when we start hearing a bit more about thanks and a lot more about wants - especially if there are young kids in the house. I must confess I love and dread this time of year. I love the family and friend gatherings, I love the decorations, I love the songs, and I even love the occasional indulgence. What I don't love is the constant stream of advertisements that seem to promote happiness is directly related to material goods. You know, the giving part. Now, I LOVE to give. Giving is my nature. Giving makes me happy. And at this time of year it is so easy for me, and hopefully others, to "give" into giving too much. To stretching their budgets too far. To becoming too stressed.

Thing is, so far this year I am not feeling that pull to go outside my comfort zone of giving. I do not feel obligated to give more than I can afford and I am giving more of my heart and less of the material goods. Yep, I will be personally making some of my gifts to family but I can't say more on the off chance that they actually read my blog and find out early what their gift is. The foundation of this thinking has already been within me, that this time of year isn't just about the gift but more about love, gratitude, family, and friends. So why the positive shift?

Simply put, Daily Gratitude.

If you have been following my blog for awhile you will have probably noted that I end almost every post (except Wordless Wednesdays) with a dose of Daily Gratitude and Daily Affirmation. More on affirmations to come at a later date. Why? Because I finally got it!

Over the years I have watched many family and friends embark on their own gratitude journey either through taking a gratitude challenge or writing in a gratitude journal. And I didn't get it. Yes, I was thankful for blue birds too but really, why would saying it and writing it make a difference? It wouldn't change how I looked or felt or the circumstances of my life. But then one day a little bird spoke in my ear and hinted that perhaps it could. Okay, there really wasn't a little bird but you get the point.

So I started adding things I was thankful for at the end of my posts. I started off with more than one and over time committed to one Daily Gratitude (and one Daily Affirmation). And it does make a difference. It does change the way I look, feel, and the circumstances of my life. Yes, writing down that I am thankful for that blue bird can do all of that...and more!

I read something the other day that hits this nail on the head, and I really wish I could remember when, where, and the exact words but here is the general gist - Those who show daily gratitude will be satisfied and will receive an abundance gifts in their lives, those who don't show gratitude will be unsatisfied and always want more.

Through gratitude I am blessed and the gifts in my life are overflowing. Don't get me wrong, I still have hard days, I still have tough times, I still want things, but I see and appreciate the gifts given to me each day. And the more I keep my eyes open, the more I recognize the gifts, the more I value and appreciate them, the more happy I become...and this makes me smile and feel good! And it is with this strength I am able to go into this giving season knowing I am blessed and I am giving enough. And the best gift I can give is letting family and friends know I am thankful for them, I appreciate them, I value them, and I am blessed to have them in my life.

Now just so you don't scared about all these happy rainbows....yes, I have down days too. I have struggles. Life isn't always peachy keen. I am not perfect and I have a whole lot of work to do but I am on the right path. And just as not all runs can be perfect and easy, neither can all days. The tough days must make us appreciate the great days more.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful that I have a job and am able to help support my family financially.
Daily Affirmation: I am grounded in my spirituality and that makes me a better person.


Harbor to Harbor 17.3k Race Report

Woah! What a weekend! Time is flying by and I can't believe I get one extra day with darling daughter today since she is off for Veteran's Day and I am on furlough today. All dark clouds come with a silver lining! And there is indeed awesomeness around every corner...one of which I found Saturday at the Harbor to Harbor race hosted by the Valley Isle Road Runners.

My race goal was plan and simple. Don't kill myself. Don't push too much. Try to run negative splits and make sure I come out of race day ready to complete my training and enter taper for the Honolulu Marathon on December 9th. I ran this race two years ago, last year I had a broken toe and was out of commission so I volunteered, and knew that runners were fast and knew the course, although it is running in the reverse direction now (for the second year). My race plan wasn't all that odd and in fact, the Harbor to Harbor promotes itself as a shakeout race for the Honolulu Marathon. But I did doubt my ability to not get competitive with myself. And I did fear a "failure" and how I would cope with that with a bigger race around the corner.

Dear hubby was also running but for this race, we were running "together, separately". Yep, he was on his own and lined up at the front with all the speedy gents. I lined up back a bit near some good friends but within moments we separated. For the first mile or so we had a good strong headwind but not as bad as I feared. I work near the start and the day before the winds were crazy strong. Thank goodness for a little let up but at least I knew the winds were going to be there. My goal, slow and steady, slow and steady, slow and steady. Ironically I had just read the story "The Tortoise and The Hare" to darling daughter and had the tortoise in my mind for this race. I didn't rush too much past other runners to get to a clear pocket and let myself run in the "group" knowing I would need to be used to this since the Honolulu Marathon is HUGE in attendance.

Since I was focused on negative splits and not going crazy I checked into my pace each mile. At mile 1 I discovered I was running faster than my predicted 10'00" easy pace run at just over 9'00" miles. I felt good, wasn't breathing too heavy, and wasn't hurting. I focused on running in the moment, told myself I could ease up a bit since I wanted to speed up at the end. Thing is, I was now in a bit of a downhill, which was making all of us pick up the pace a bit. I tried to be smart and soon my left calf was aching a bit. I knew it was the extra impact of a downhill landing and repeated "slow and steady" focusing on the evening of the course ahead. And fortunately, once things evened out my leg felt fine. And hey, this just trained my muscles a wee bit more in downhill running. Although I was surprised it bugged me since the decline was not extreme. And I learned, I need new sunglasses that will bounce less in running.

Throughout the run I pretty much maintained my space in the pack. I did pass some in the start, some passed me back a little later, and I let them go. I had my race plan in my head and was totally running in my head, in the moment, cherishing each step. At one point a car drove by honking and I had an overwhelming feeling of my spirituality rushing through my body and I knew my angels were with me. It is really hard to explain but this was the second time this happened to me in a race and it really causes tears to well up in my eyes and I have to focus on getting my breathing in check. The first time was at the Kaua'i Half Marathon.

I have nothing negative to say about this race. The course was well marked for turns off and then back onto the main path. There was a policeman here and there providing support. The aid stations were manned and the volunteers were cheerful. It is a well-organized local event that I know I will do again in future years. And I was just plain happy and running well, every step of the way. I knew my mile points but the course was clearly marked at each mile as well. I saw my pace was holding steady or getting slightly faster. And for the final 2.5 miles, I really focused on allowing myself to steadily increase my pace. I saw people in front of me I wanted to pass but kept to the "slow and steady" approach telling myself, they could have the same plan to increase pace now. Stay in your head. Stay in your pace. Run. And I slowly passed lady, after lady, after lady, after guy, after guy. And rounded the gravely corner to the finish, which prevented my normal speedy pick-up across the line.

And I finished in 1:30:28 with a new PR! 1:38:59 was my time from two years ago and I knew I was on path to beat it early on but dismissed that as a driving force. In the final miles, I knew I was still on target. In the final mile, I knew it was mine. And it felt good. Really good! I finished 38th out of 102 runners and was the 8th out of 50 females. And I achieved my primary goal of running negative splits with an overall pace of 8:37!  FYI: Dear hubby finished in 1:21:11 and really wanted to break 1:20:00. I am trying to convince him 17th overall and 15 out of 52 men is great! His overall pace was 7:44.

And dear hubby, I know you are hurt that I needed to keep moving post-run and didn't stop when you were congratulating me. I am sorry and your words of support, smiles, and pride mean the world to me so I am telling the world, I am sorry. Love ya!

Now onto a few race logistics: This race is typically held in November and the entry fee is $50. The fee covers a race shirt and finisher's medal....both of which really rocked the boat this year! I am usually not impressed by race shirts but I love this one this year! The post-race breakfast is hosted by Beach Bum's, a local restaurant, and included scrambled eggs, bacon, white race, and pancakes. I really couldn't stomach any of it but I am not much of an eater right after running.

And forgive me for a moment while I toss this question out there and perhaps vent a bit....What is it with this new trend of giving "finisher" shirts out at packet pick-up? I totally understand it is an easy time to give stuff to runners but then it really isn't a finisher shirt, is it? It then becomes a race shirt....simply put. But hey, perhaps I just would have liked a shirt there for me at the end of this point-to-point race. What are your thoughts?

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful to be able to talk to fellow runners about runner things like shoes and gels!
Daily Affirmation: Balance is integrated into all aspects of my life.

I am thankful to FitApproach for helping make today happen for me. I am proud to say I ran this race as a SweatPink Ambassador and thought PINK throughout the run!


Product Review: UA Seamless Shorty

When I got contacted by Under Armour and asked if I would be willing to review a product I was immediately interested. I own one UA Running skirt, that I purchased myself, and love it...especially the words of power on the inside of the waistband...but that is another post.

The UA Representative was a doll and asked what items intrigued me. I gave her a list of a few and simply asked, "surprise me!". I was afraid she would insist I make a firm decision but she immediately "played" along with me and in no time my little surprise arrived. That means a lot since I live in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

I was excited to receive not one, but two pairs, of their Seamless Shorties. Now since I am a running mom, and host a running blog, I am not about to model these UA underwear for you but I will tell you, I like them. And perhaps love them. And here's why.

If I had my choice I would spend all day and night in my running skirts. I honestly am very comfortable in them and yes, some are better for running long and some for short runs or comfort. So when I can't be in my running clothes I want to be equally comfortable.

I say I am not a girlie-girl mainly because I don't take the time to fuss too much with doing my hair, nails (and never my fingernails), or putting on make-up. Occasionally I may spritz on some body mist or perfume and even less frequently I put on a nice fancy dress and heels. But in all reality, I do like to feel "pampered" and like a lady at times. And the UA Seamless Shorty makes me feel that way as they are nice and silky and feel like a gentle hug. Score 1!

Recently I have been liking the boy short design a bit more too perhaps because it reminds me of the shorts under my running skirts. Perhaps because it provides a bit more coverage if a short skirt does an oopsie in the windy harbor I work at (and that doesn't happen but it is nice to know I am covered). But one main reason is due to that darn rash on my tailbone that breaks out from time to time, especially in times of stress. Anything rubbing against it can be annoying and painful.

They say every dark cloud has a silver lining and I guess that is true. As much as I dread outbreaks of the rash I was "fortunate" to have one when testing the UA Seamless Shorty. Not the worst outbreak but still bothersome and I can say, I could wear the Shorties in comfort. Score 2!

How do they work for coverage? I can't give them an A+ since they do ride up some but perhaps that is because I just have curves and things need to be snug to stay put. But I feel the gentle fit is great for other reasons - comfort and no panty lines. And this is equally important and being able to wear the Shorties under a sundress with no lines is indeed a Score 3!

Under Armour's mission is to "make all athletes better" and although the shorties do feel nice I would not recommend them for any athletic performance, just due to the riding up issue. But hey, being an athlete isn't just about performance but also about how you take care of yourself "off the field" and perhaps it is just as good to feel better between runs!

Now onto the good news! Under Armour has graciously offered to give one of my readers a chance to try the UA Seamless Shorty. If you are interested to try yourself....or gentlemen, you can enter to win a pair for your significant other....please enter below. This giveaway will run until November 18, 2012 and the winner will be announced November 19, 2012. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please note: I was given this product free of charge to review. I did not promise a positive review nor was I paid to write this post. The opinions represented are solely my own. Under Armour takes responsibility for delivering the prize to the winner.

Daily Gratitude: I am blessed with an abundance of wonderful people in my life.
Daily Affirmation: I am kind and loving.http://www.underarmour.com/shop/us/en/womens-ua-seamless-shorty/pid1227985


Kid Mealtime - Healthy Meals from a Busy Mom

I am been a mom for just over 4.5 years and I gotta say, some of those things I said pre-mommyhood just aren't sticking. I once claimed I would never feed a Lunchable to my child! The idea appalled me not only because of the excess packaging but I questioned the truth health of the meal. Four and a half years later, ummm....yeah, I have fed a Lunchable here and there to darling daughter but I still have criteria. It needs to be the snack packs that have no candy and no sugary drink. And it happens on rare occasions....such as those times of the year when work has me working extra long and I just am plum tuckered out. Other than that, I think our family is pretty healthy in how we eat.

My meal rules are simple. You don't have to eat everything on your plate (as I want darling daughter to learn when she is full and not keep eating just because there is more food on her plate) but you do need to try everything on your plate. And I don't forbid foods but am educating darling daughter on what each food has to offer such as calcium for strong bones, protein for strong muscles, antioxidants to keep us healthy, and sugary...this is only an indulgence. I feel learning that it is okay to eat sugar in moderation is important as I knew kids growing up who were forbidden to eat sugar and then devoured it like crazy once college came....and had negative side effects like battling weight issues.

That all sounds fine and dandy but what does meal time look like around my house?

Breakfast: I am often out of the house when darling daughter eats breakfast and on weekends with her I really do try to make it special. Banana pancakes are one of her favorites and I love making them because she will run away from a banana any other day. But mushed up inside of a pancake equals pure delight! And yep, I sneak them in smoothies here and there. But on most days she loves a bowl of cereal and has pretty good taste going for "adult" cereals. Yes, she is tempted by those colorful boxes of colorful, sugary kid cereals and yes, when Grandma was here she was treated to Lucky Charms. And guess what? That box was never finished and as much as I hate food going to waste I couldn't implement the rule to finish the cereal box before opening a new one. Who wants to enforce eating sugar?

Lunch: Preschool means making lunches and making lunches takes time as I make them almost daily for myself and darling daughter. I do strive to use leftovers from dinner in our lunches but this takes preparation and foresight as I make lunches before I make the night's dinner. But keep in mind, leftovers don't have to necessarily been eaten for lunch the next day. The day after works and I find darling daughter likes those meals spread out a bit more...and who wouldn't? But her typical lunch may be a half of a turkey and cheese sandwich - must be with mustard. Some veggies - not cooked please and that includes mushrooms. She never wants those cooked and I hear her teachers are quite delighted to see her devouring her raw mushrooms slices at lunch. And sometimes something crunchy like a few pretzels, some rice chips with seaweed on them, etc. Yes, my child LOVES nori....she didn't acquire that taste from me. In fact, I really don't know where she learned she liked it but who am I to argue with eating nutrient-rich dried seaweed?

Snacks: She gets one at school from the snack calendar that students provide on assigned days. The school picks the snacks, the parents deliver. And you know what, they are all healthy except for the once a month birthday celebration where they get a little cake. They implemented this to decrease the amount of individual celebrations and cupcakes coming to school. Ironically, at school darling daughter seems to love the bananas and peanut butter she claims to not like at home. Go figure! And here they get some juice but I know they buy low sugar varieties. At home she tends to like crunchy snacks so perhaps cheese and crackers, pretzels, and the occasional bag of chewies for some shopping trips. I really try to encourage healthy snacking as she sees me eating a lot (marathon training makes me quite hungry) and I want her to establish healthy eating based on her needs so portion size is really important! Think just 4-5 small pretzels. P.S. I really do enjoy making lunches more now that we have matching Laptop Lunch kits!

Dinner: I make a weekly menu and try to incorporate a variety of foods and vegetarian days. The hits are turkey meat balls, mini wontons, broccoli, peas, cranberry sauce, pumpkin soup, lentil soup, spaghetti (although currently darling daughter is in a no sauce please stage), and enchiladas (my guest post to another site-I really need to add this to my site and update). I am notorious for sneaking veggies into anything and everything even though darling daughter does love veggies. And I have found the key to a less stressful mealtime is to include darling daughter in the process from selecting veggies at the store or local farmer's market to prepping the food. Once I got consistent with this she is better at dropping her toys and running happily to the table. I think the main reason is because she knows she will love it! And on Girls' Nite when dear hubby is working later, I often take it easy and make nachos for us or nachos for me and a treat for her. Last night she delighted in some Princess soup, which by the way, half went into her lunch for today and I only give her a portion of the broth to cut down on salt. P.S. Click on links above for recipes.

Homemade with less sugar
Drinks: I pretty much offer two drinks. Water or milk and nope, she is not allowed to drink milk all day. Her cups hold about 6 oz at a time, if full, so usually that is the limit to milk but some days she is just craving it more so I allow another partially full cup....and we drink fat-free milk and sometimes soymilk. She loves water, especially with ice, and will drink it plain or with lemon, lime, or mint. She always gets water packed for her school lunches. And what about juice? It is a rarity in our house but if she does get some, like when she was sick recently and wasn't drinking anything else, I dilute it with water 50:50. And honestly, I think it tastes a bit better this way...think flavored water.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful that this morning's cane fire wasn't anywhere near where I needed to drive. It is nice to avoid the smoke.
Daily Affirmation: My body is healthy and functioning in a very good way.
Now that is a big squash!