Monday, December 11, 2017

Accountability Monday: 12/11/2017 + StrideBox Giveaway!

Good morning, friends!

It's quite chilly here in the mid-Atlantic this week so grab a cup of coffee- or hot chocolate if that's more your style- settle in, and check out all that happened this past week, plus, the awesome folks at StrideBox are giving away a cool prize to one of my readers- how cool is that?!

Tuesday: 3.1 treadmill run, 37:59 overall time
Wednesday: strength training (10 reps x 2)- push-ups, squats, clam shells, glute bridges, side-steps with resistance band, crunches, superman
Saturday: 5 miles, 11:58 overall pace
Sunday: 13.1 miles, 12:46 overall pace + strength training (10 reps x 2)- clam shells, glute bridges, crunches, superman, side steps with resistance band, hip extenders with resistance band

21.2 total miles

Positives of this week- completed two strength sessions and got in the mileage I wanted (20+ miles). Room for improvement from this week- fueling. My long run on Sunday was miserable from mile 4.5 on. I was hungry, cold, and tired. I thought I'd eaten enough before I started running but I clearly did not as the later miles were ugly. This will be something I work in the next few weeks before WDW Marathon Weekend.

It might look pretty, but it was an ugly training run.

Best Run
Saturday's 5 miler felt great, even though the temperature was in the 30's! Being able to maintain a sub-12 minute mile pace for anything over 3 miles is a reason to celebrate in my book. 😍

Bravo Moment
Ever since I attended Altra's Run Better Clinic as part of the Runner's World Half & Festival Weekend, I have been working on incorporating all the techniques I learned to improve my running form. Seeing some pictures from this weekend's run gave me some photographic evidence that my form is indeed getting better! I can definitely feel a difference when I'm running and using the techniques so it's cool to actually see a difference. I still have some room to grow but overall, I'm very happy with my progress.

Heel strike? What heel strike?!

Runner Gift Wishlist Items of the Week
Yaktrax has another great offer for you this week, this time on the Yaktrax Run (35% off until 12/16/17)- these feature actual cleats that attach to the bottom of your running shoes that assist with traction in ice and snow. I used these a ton last winter when we had significant amounts of snow and was able to get all my miles in without sacrificing any safety concerns.

Please note that by purchasing through the link above, not only will you get a sweet discount but I may also earn a small commission through the Amazon Associates Program: Sparkly Runner is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to [If you aren't comfortable with that, you can always head over to amazon and search for "yaktrax run" instead. 😊]

Looking to purchase a gift for the runner in your life that keeps giving all year long?

No, no, it's not the Jelly of the Month Club- it's a membership to StrideBox!  StrideBox is a "monthly subscription box to fuel your running adventures." Each box is filled with runner nutrition and accessories, curated for a wide variety of runners. The best part? Each month is a fun surprise! I love getting my box each month and discovering what's inside- it's usually super cool. 

Especially for blog readers, StrideBox has some awesome discount codes for you to use this holiday season!

Use the code SPARKLYRUNNER10 for 10% off 3 or 6 month gift subscriptions. 

Use the code SPARKLYRUNNER5 for $5 off your first purchase. 

Both discount codes are valid until 12/24/2017. 

And because StrideBox is especially awesome, they've partnered with me to give away a prize to a lucky blog reader! 

Wanna win this? Read on below.

To enter:
1. Follow @StrideBox and @SparklyRunner on instagram.
2. Leave a comment on this instagram post with what running product keeps you running.
3. Winner will be drawn randomly.
- This giveaway will run from 12/11/17 to 11:59 pm EST on 12/17/17. 
- Winner will be direct messaged on instagram on 12/17/17.
- Winner must live in continental US. 
Winner will be announced here on next week's Accountability Monday post. Good luck! 

Quote of the Week
Here's hoping the crappy training runs set up an awesome unofficial Goofy Challenge in a few weeks! 

Have a great week!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Accountability Monday: 12/4/2017

🎶 It's [officially] the most wonderful time of the year! 🎶

I love the month of December because it's socially acceptable to wear Christmas leggings, drink peppermint mocha everything, and listen to holiday music round the clock. Welcome to my favorite season of all!

December is a month of reflection for me- what worked this year, what didn't, and what goals I want to set moving forward into a new year.

It's also a month of colder weather which means good things for my running game. We've got one more long run on the schedule, several 8-10 mile distances, and then two weeks of taper before the unofficial Goofy Challenge and Castaway Cay Challenge starts up in just about a month. Wow!

Wednesday: 3.1 mile run outside with 12:28 overall pace per mile
Thursday: Knee PT workout
Saturday: Volunteered at local race (I'm counting this as training 😃)
Sunday: 6.2 mile run with 12:06 overall pace per mile

This week was tough for training because of work and other social engagements getting in the way of my usual routine. If I've learned anything in the last seven years of running and training for races, it's that strength training is a must. I'm looking forward to getting more strength sessions in this week.

Best Run
I had the most fun on my 10k this weekend on our beautiful, local trail. These six miles definitely felt longer due to some major headwinds from mile 3 on, but I feel like it's getting easier to maintain my "easy" pace in the 12-12:30 range.

Fancy pants make any run better.

Bravo Moment

If you're keeping track, I'm down 5.6 pounds from early September! I finally feel like I am moving forward instead of slipping backwards with my weight loss/maintenance journey.

Check out this downward trend.

I attribute much of my recent success to the new WW Freestyle program which was just unveiled yesterday. As a WW Leader, I've been living the new program since September and I absolutely LOVE it. I'll write more about that in a separate post this week.

Runner Gift Wishlist Items of the Week
Because it's that time of year, each week on Accountability Monday in December I'll be highlighting an item or two that the runner in your life (including you!) might be wishing for this holiday season.

First up this week, one of my favorite products for winter running, Yaktrax Pro!  I've been selected as a Cold Conqueror again for 2018 and they're offering a sweet deal (15% off) on these until 12/10/17!

Please note that by purchasing through the link above, not only will you get a sweet discount but I may also earn a small commission through the Amazon Associates Program: Sparkly Runner is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to [If you aren't comfortable with that, you can always head over to amazon and search for "yaktrax pro" instead. 😊]

The second item on this week's list is this awesome Neck Gaiter from Hoo-rag. I have several of these and use them anytime I'll be outside for a significant amount of time- hellooooo winter long runs! Hoo-rag's also got a sale going on and all their performance gear is 35% off!


Quote of the Week
A few years ago, work sent me to a Tony Robbins seminar. Some of it was good, a lot of it was weird, but most of it was positive. This week's quote is a good reminder about the consistency of change:

Have a great week, friends! Happy December!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Gratitude in 2017

For the first time in four years, I missed posting an annual blog for Thanksgiving. In 2014, 2015, and 2016, I put together a list of all the things/people I was grateful for and posted it here on the internet for anyone and everyone to see.

But I missed it this year. Not because I don't have anything to be thankful for, but because I wanted to dedicate a post specifically to folks that I've never thanked in writing before- strangers! Not all strangers, of course, but the kind of strangers you meet through running races.

Kids standing on the sidelines of a race with their expectant hands out, waiting for sweaty high-fives.

Volunteers shouting "water" or "Gatorade" at an aid station until their voices are hoarse.

A coffee-drinking couple sitting on their front porch, sleepily clapping as the runners pass them.

Enthusiastic cow-bell ringers, shouting encouraging words, motivating runners to keep moving forward.

Clever sign makers whose messages always elicit a moment of laughter during a tough section of a race course.

Medical personnel quick to jump in and help in both life-saving and blister-saving situations.

Police and security keeping all runners, spectators, and volunteers safe.

Some of my favorite strangers :-)

As a runner, sometimes I tend to think that races are all about me. My race, my pace, my experience. But that experience wouldn't be anything without all the strangers that come together to make it happen.

I've always been grateful for strangers in the running community but during an experience I had a few weeks ago, I had such a deepened level of respect for all the people who make a race what it is.

My friend Jeff, whom I affectionately call "coach," turned 50 this year and one of his goals was to run a 50 mile race for his 50th year on earth. He chose to run the JFK 50 miler, a race that winds through highly technical trail, tow path, and road in an extremely challenging 50 mile course. He set this goal a year in advance and some of our friend group reserved the date on our calendars with plans to help pace him during the race.

Coach and me after the 2015 Pittsburgh Marathon

Then the race changed its policies and folks were no longer able to run/pace with the race entrants. After exchanging emails with our group, some of us decided that we would come down and crew (meet Jeff at certain parts of the race and basically be his pit crew) and cheer for him- unbeknownst to Jeff.

Through the expert coordination of our friends Lauren and Chelsea, myself and another friend, Steff, successfully surprised Jeff at mile 15.5 of the course and then were able to see him at two other points of the race.

Selfies or it didn't happen.

While you're waiting for someone to run 50 miles, you have a lot of downtime. In addition to exploring the surrounding areas (and finding super cute coffee shops and restaurants), we would get to each checkpoint a little early and cheer for other runners and then after we'd seen and helped Jeff, we'd stick around and keep cheering for folks.

Cheering is serious business that requires a serious wardrobe.

At about the halfway mark, there was an aid station set up and staffed by my local running group, the Chambersburg Road Runners Club. These volunteers were out in the cold rain (it was the WORST weather in the morning), preparing food and serving runners. It was so awe-inspiring to see these people, who didn't have any runners in the race, showing up and working their station to help runners. They were making soup, cutting up fruit, and refilling water bottles. For complete strangers.

Jeff, slurping down some Ramen from the CRRC volunteers.

But these volunteers weren't the only ones standing around in the rain cheering for runners. We kept seeing the same folks at each aid station/checkpoint, each waiting for their runner like we were waiting for Jeff. And each continuing to cheer for other runners once their runner came through.

Towards the end of the race, we headed to the finish line about an hour before we expected Jeff to come through. We were all so inspired by the runners and we wanted to cheer for as many folks as we could.

We got out our clappers and cow bells and screamed until our voices were gone. We danced, chatted back and forth with the DJs, and cheered our hearts out.

Cheer Crew Extraordinaire.

When Jeff came through the finisher chute, I cried as I cheered. I can't articulate the emotions I was feeling- it was one of my most favorite experiences in the running community. He just finished running 50 freaking miles! In one day! I am still so impressed with his tenacity, strength, and grit. Way to go, Coach!

Once we made sure Jeff was ok, Lauren took him inside to so he could get a shower and get changed and Chelsea, Steff, and I made our way back to the finish line to cheer for the very last finishers.

Blurry, happy, finish line selfies are the best kind. CONGRATULATIONS, JEFF!! 

Every time I've run a race, there's been someone- a stranger- that has helped me significantly by doing something small. Every "Looking good, runner!," "You got this!," "Stay strong!" shouted from the sideline has helped me find the strength to keep going when I felt like quitting.

I hope our cowbell-ringing, clapper-clapping, shouting and cheering group of ladies were able to be somebody's stranger at the JFK 50 miler. Cheering is the very least I can do to give back to the community that's given me so much.

So, thank you, to every stranger I have encountered out on the race course. You are appreciated more than you'll ever know.

Have you ever encountered a stranger on a race course that made your day? Tell me about it in the comments!