Monday, July 25, 2016

My Blogging Story

I think there are a lot of preconceived notions when it comes to blogging and bloggers so I thought I would give you a little insight to my blogging story in case you haven't heard it before.


I started my blog back in December of 2006 (holy crap, we are coming up on 10 YEARS of blogging... how did that happen?!). I originally started blogging because I had recently moved from Michigan to Southern California and I thought it would be easier to have my friends and family back home read about my adventures in one spot rather than having to email everyone individually (so I guess you can say my blog beginnings were really out of a desire to be lazy).

If you ever go back and look at the archives, you can tell I had no idea what I was doing (shoot, you may even still feel that way). Some posts were all of like 25 words (telling people I was busy and would get back to blogging soon), while others were just articles that I thought were interesting and wanted to share.

Obviously once I got into running a few years back (the Disneyland Half Marathon coming up in a few weeks will mark my FOUR YEAR ANNIVERSARY of half marathon races - man, how time flies!) my blog started to transition into being more about running/ training/ racing since that was what was going on in my life.


Now, some folks out there may think that I make money at this whole blogging thing... HA, I WISH! Sure, there are a few campaigns I may work on every so often that will compensate me $25 or $50 for my time, but for the most part - this is a very non-paid gig.

The majority of the products I review or post about are ones I either buy myself or actually contacted the brand about (Dear Brand, I think you are pretty awesome. I love your products and would be super stoked to try out your newest _______. I have a blog and am active on social media. If you'd like to team up, I would love to review the item with my followers and hopefully get you some new orders and lifelong customers. XOXO, Carlee). Many of my emails go unanswered (whomp whomp) - but that doesn't stop me from sending them... What's the worst someone could say?!

I know there are some bloggers out there that are making money on their posts (or on advertising that they have on their blog), but I am not one of those. I literally am doing it just because I enjoy it. Oh yeah, and also because my Fibro Fog causes me to have TERRIBLE memory, so if I don't write it down or record it somehow I will completely forget about it within a couple weeks. Because it is something I enjoy, I worry that if it turned into a legit job I might not love it as much (and would feel more pressure to put out content that I might not be completely happy with).


PS I am in no way saying that making money from your blog is wrong or selling out (shoot, if I could do it, I probably would), it just isn't where I'm at. I would love to find someone to pay me to run, post pictures and blog about my life (actually, truth be told, I would much rather that person come find ME, because going out on my own to find that is not only scary and intimidating, it's filled with a lot of rejection and I am not super stoked on that)... but I know that isn't a reality for 99.9% of us out here in the 'real world'.

And even though I don't get paid for blogging, it takes up a large chunk of time. I'd say most posts take me at least an hour to write (then I go back and reread them like 19 times and have to add pictures and images as to not overwhelm readers with all my babbling) - and some of my more in-depth recaps could take upwards of four or five hours.

Currently, this is an outlet for me - to share my feelings, record my training, write about my daily going's-on's, etc. #RealTalk - If you know someone who would like to pay me to do that, PLEASE feel free to pass along my contact info, but otherwise I will continue chugging along, posting about things that interest me and the adventures of the McDots.

Did you think I got paid to blog?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Workout Recap - Week 30

Sunday, July 17th – Road Runner Sports Craft Classic Half Marathon, Stretched & Foam Rolled


Monday, July 18th – Strength Training (abs, back, legs and arms), 5 progressive mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled


Tuesday, July 19th – 8 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled


Wednesday, July 20th – 18 mile bike ride, Stretched & Foam Rolled


Thursday, July 21st –  3 miles of #Yasso800s and 5 miles of trail running with #TeamSparkle, Stretched & Foam Rolled



Friday, July 22nd – 18 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled


Saturday, July 23rd – Rest Day [2.5 mile hike with the hubby and puppy], Stretched & Foam Rolled


52.1 miles of running while not training for a full marathon or goal race?! HOLY CRAPOLY... WHO AM I?! With a track workout on Thursday morning and a trail run that evening, Friday's long run was all about just getting the miles in. It is encouraging to know that I could technically add a full marathon to my schedule at any point because I am somewhat still trained for them (even though currently my next one isn't until Phoenix in February).

How were your workouts this past week?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday Favorites

I always love finding new favorite things through the recommendations of friends... And that's what we are, right?! So then, who's ready for another round of #FridayFavorites?! Hope you are, cause it's comin' atcha no matter what!



#VanLife


Ryan and I have been talking about potentially selling all of our stuff and adventuring around the country in a van. We don't have any of the specifics worked out, and technically it is still just a dream, but I'm positive that one day we will make it happen (even if one day is in 30 years)! For now, I will continue to look at adventure mobiles on Pinterest and research rental companies to rent out our condo for us. And, yes, in fact we DO wanna 'live in a van, down by the river'.

Source

#PalletFurniture


I had been asking Ryan to build me a box out of pallets for our throw blankets for probably three years now. The last couple of weeks he has been talking about wanting to build other furniture (a climbing chair, a table, etc) and I told him that I would prefer he not build furniture that we didn't need before something we could legitimately use. Well, that lit a spark under his booty and last weekend he finished my pallet box. I measured the area next to the couch where it would go and he grabbed some pallets from his work and TADA - I LOVE IT! Isn't she purrrrrty?! 


#TrailThursday


I originally had plans for last night so wasn't going to be able to make the second #TeamSparkle Trail Run, but when the plans fell through I made the drive - and I'm so glad I did! Running trail with sparkly ladies is always a GREAT time! Wanna know what makes it even better? When you stop to regroup and form a spirit tunnel for bikers coming through on the trails... Oh yeah, and then they repay the favor and set up a cheer station a half mile down the path - PURE AWESOMESAUCE! There's one last official #TeamSparkle Trail Run on the calendar, but I'll be in Vancouver for SeaWheeze so won't be able to go... But if you're near Chino Hills on August 11th you MUST stop by for a run!


#SportsBraSquad


The AMAZING Kelly Roberts (PS If you don't already follow her on every single social media platform you are on, you are missing out - so do yourself a favor and ADD HER NOW!) started up the #SportsBraSquad and I am STOKED! As you know, I have terrible self-esteem and just about HATE my body, but had recently been finding some confidence (or at least caring a LOT LESS what others think) and taking to pounding the pavement in my sports bra. This squad has no requirements - it's just a way to say "F YOU" to society telling women who is strong and beautiful! So often women feel ashamed or not good enough to rock what they've got... And why?! Because we have been told for so long that we aren't as beautiful as that model or we aren't as strong as that athlete... But you know what?! WE ARE STRONG, WE ARE BEAUTIFUL! So take back your confidence and ROCK WHAT YOUR MAMA GAVE YOU! [And, yes, just in case you are wondering, you are TOTALLY able to love yourself while working towards a stronger you! Shedding your shirt may not fix all of our problems, but the crazy thing is is that it somehow helps shed some of our insecurities.]


So, that's what I'm loving lately... Now it's your turn!

What are some of the products, activities or mantras you are diggin'?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Conqur Endurance Group Ambassadorship

I don't know if you remember or not, but last year I was selected as one of the lucky few to be an ambassador for the Los Angeles Marathon. This year, I reapplied to the Conqur Endurance Group Ambassador program (the master brand behind the Los Angeles Marathon, Pasadena Half MarathonSanta Monica Classic, etc).

Me at the finish line of the Los Angeles Marathon earlier this year

Last week I received a "congrats" email because I was picked to move on to the second round.


Don't get me wrong, I was honored to be selected to move on to the next step of the process... Well, that was until I saw we had to record another video...


If you've been around CarleeMcDot.com for a while you might remember my application video for last year's ambassadorship (if not or you just want a good laugh, feel free to check it out here). Well, I was hoping we would be exempt from this little charade this year, but apparently no such luck.

Being selected to move on in the application process meant I would need to record another "audition" video - but thankfully this year we didn't have to sing/ lip sync a song. In the video we were asked to answer two questions and do an IMPRESSION! Oh crap, I don't do any impressions... Maybe singing "row row row your boat" was easier last year...

Watch the video below for my thoughts on both a runner's high and advice for someone tackling their first full marathon! And if you stick around long enough you will get a Walt the Wiener Dog cameo and see what I did for my impression.


We won't find out who was selected as a Conqur Endurance Group Ambassador until late next week, so for now it is a bit of the "hurry up and wait" feeling... Wish me luck (both in my patience and in securing one of the coveted spots)! 

What would you have done for your impression?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Creating a DIY Little Mermaid Running Costume

Yesterday's post was more of a generic one with tips and tricks on how to put together a fun running costume, but today I thought I'd get a little more specific and share my Little Mermaid costume from this past weekend. So, without further ado, here's how I created an Ariel costume that was easy to run in and even easier to put together.


I normally start with an image of the character that I am going for, that way I can get the color scheme correct and see if there are any 'prop' ideas I can add to go a little above and beyond. [Pinterest is my best friend for image searches.]

Source

Then it's off to the closet to pick the Sparkle Athletic skirt, PRO Compression socks and Handful bra. I decided on the Mermaid skirt, but the green would have worked also (remember: use what you have and make it work!). For the socks I decided on the Kelly Green because it was an extension of my "tail", but really you could have picked a purple, red, etc (just stick with the color scheme and rock it). Even though no one sees my sports bra I still try to make sure the color fits - I mean, if you're gonna go, you might as well go all the way, right?! The shirt was easy - plain purple for the win! Then it was on to take my costume to the next level with the details - red "hair" (which was curling ribbon on a hair tie) along with a dinglehopper and starfish. I got the fork from a thrift store (for $.10) and the starfish from Michaels which I then attached to a Sparkle Athletic visor (that I had from a past Huey, Dewey and Louie costume) with hot glue.

I find that if you lay out a #FlatRunner folks will see your vision a little clearer,
not to mention they'll know what to look for when you are out on the course!

Now, I do have to say, wearing the costume to a non-runDisney event (especially a non-costumed race) did throw people for a bit of a loop, but even still I think it was pretty obvious for what I was going for.


And it took me all of about 5 minutes to throw together and maybe $5 (buying the fork, ribbon and starfish - because everything else I already had). [FYI: You can normally find 40% off coupons for Michaels online. I find stores like Michaels, the Dollar Tree and thrift stores as great places when looking to make accessories or props to accompany my costumes.] EASY PEASY, but I still think it came together super well.


As long as you are having fun, then GO FOR IT! Use what you have, make it work for you and ROCK YOUR RACE! And even if no one knows what your costume is supposed to be, who cares! Running is all about the journey and we need to have as much FUN as possible along the way!

Oh yeah, and if you are ever looking for some great ideas on running costumes, Sparkle Athletic has a Pinterest board chock full of them! I normally try to think outside of the box when it comes to my costumes, that way I am not one of 2,500+ Tinker Bells, but the ideas are still amazing (and you could always use them for a non-traditional race like running a 'beer run' as a mermaid if you want to stand out of the crowd).

Have you ever run a race in a costume before?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

How To Put Together A Race Costume

I'm not sure if you saw my post from yesterday with my Road Runner Sports Craft Classic Half Marathon Race Recap, but if you did you probably noticed my Little Mermaid costume. The race was NOT a costume run, but I never pass on an opportunity to dress up.


I've been told a couple times in the past that my outfits are awesome (I wouldn't go that far, but I have been stoked with how the majority of my costumes have turned out... especially with my frugal-ness and lack of sewing ability) so I thought I'd do a quick post on how I get together a race costume.


First and foremost, one does NOT need a costume to dress up! I try to do my best to use pieces that I already have and just go with the proper color scheme. Unless the race is a 5K I want to do my darnedest to make sure I can still run in the gear (sure, I may not be running for a PR, but I don't want to get to the finish line with major chafing from fake limbs or bruises from a box that continually is hitting me in the knees).

To begin a costume I normally find a picture of the character and then find running gear I own in that color scheme.
[Left: Lumiere / Center: Minnie Mouse / Right: Steamboat Willie]


**PRO TIP: When you see plain colored running tops (whether tees or tanks), stock up. I normally grab a bunch when the seasons change and stores are getting rid of stock. Target, TJ Maxx and Marshall's are some of my favorite spots to grab tops from. Not only can you wear them for a while, but when you use them as a base for a costume you have already gotten your $7-10 worth and don't mind potentially "ruining" them with hot glue.**

Next, accessories can MAKE a costume. Like I just said, most of my costumes tend not to be legit costumes but running gear in a character's color scheme. Since I normally don't go all out on the clothes, I will try to add one or two accessories that really fit the character (for example, when I ran as Aunt Beru for the Star Wars Half I carried a kettle for blue milk or when I ran as Thor for the Avengers Half I had a 'hammer').


**PRO TIP: Make sure whatever accessory you carry A. fits in the race guidelines (I know runDisney changed their restrictions so you don't want to show up with a really snazzy sword only to find out you must throw it away before the race begins) and B. is comfortable to bring for the entire race [because finish line photos!]. When I made my Thor hammer I used flower foam and duct tape so it would be light to carry and when I ran as a Donald Duck I made sure my beak had elastic so I could wear it for photo ops but then it would hang around my neck while not in use.**

Third, when you find what works STICK WITH IT! I will be the first to admit that my running gear is very standard. If you look at my #FlatCarlee pictures you will pretty much always see the same products. Most of my race outfits will consist of PRO Compression socks, a Sparkle Athletic skirt, a Handful sports bra, a Momentum wrap, my Garmin GPS watch, Brooks running shoes, Shwings, a Sparkly Soul headband, my QALO wedding bands, a RoadID bracelet, etc.


**PRO TIP: Once you find gear that works for you, buy it in multiple colors if at all possible. I may or may not have the same running top in five colors because I know I like the way it fits. Also, some businesses will offer discounts for 'bulk' purchases - for example, Sparkle Athletic offers a Buy 5 Get 1 Free on their skirts {normally used for teams, but if you know you want 6 skirts, take advantage of the deal!}. When you find what you like, scoop it up!**

As you can see I have lots of my accessories in multiple colors, that way whatever
costume/ character I decide on I have a base that will work with any of them. 

PS I think that one of the most important parts of a race costume is that you are having fun! It really isn't a bit deal if your socks are the wrong color blue or you don't have a sewing machine - make what you have work and have a BLAST! Running in a costume helps to remind me to take life a little less seriously.

Are there any tips that you think I may have missed?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Road Runners Sports Craft Classic Half Marathon Race Recap

Yesterday morning I ran the Road Runner Sports Craft Classic Half Marathon. I had the honor of working with Road Runner Sports to help promote this inaugural race and was given a free entry in exchange for my hard work (but don't worry, you will still get a 100% honest and unfiltered recap of the race - as hopefully you've come to expect from me!).

Seeing as they did not offer race day bib pick up (which is quite the bummer, especially since it takes about an hour each way to get down there for the 5 minutes of "expo" time) I made my way down on Friday afternoon to grab my goodies. This race was overflowing with perks. All runners received a commemorative tee (or tank), finisher's medal, race pint glass, sunglass, free race photos and after run beer!

Source

Since the race is a point-to-point race, the majority of folks took a shuttle from the finish line at Green Flash Brewing Co to the start. With the very clear directions of being at the shuttle BY 5:00am for the 6:30am race start, I made the executive decision to have Ryan drop my off at the start around 5:40am or so (meaning we didn't have to leave the house until a little after 5 - SCORE!).


I decided because the course was a bit 'boring' (as in it was along a bike path next to the 56 freeway for a while and then through some industrial parts of Torrey Pines and Mira Mesa) I'd bring my own excitement and dress in character... And with the humidity making it feel like my runs have been "under the sea" lately, I thought a Little Mermaid theme would be PERFECT!

#FlatCarlee (I mean #FlatAriel) consisted of PRO Compression Socks,
a Handful Sports Bra, a Sparkle Athletic Skirt, a Road ID bracelet (finally deciding
on the red), QALO silicon wedding bands (stacked the red and purple), Brooks
running shoes
(complete with Shwings), my Garmin Forerunner 220 (actually
went with my Forerunner 735XT even though the purple would have went better
with my costume), along with some fake red hair (which I made out of curling ribbon
and a hair tie) and a Sparkle Athletic visor (complete with dinglehopper and starfish).

Apparently when you dress up in costume at a non-runDisney race you throw people for a loop... I mean, I thought it was pretty obvious I was going for Ariel but I had at least 4 people ask me "what's up with the fork?".... Uh, HELLO, it's a DINGLEHOPPER!

The details can make or break a costume!

I knew quite a few friends would be running the race so figured it would probably be more of a fun run instead of time and was stoked I made that decision ahead of time. After the hubby dropped me off, I made my way to the port-o-potties and then got a text from Leslie that she and Linzie were near the start. It took me just a few minutes to find them since there were only about 1,200 runners doing the half. Linzie asked me if I was going to run for time and I quickly decided I'd run for fun with them instead. (Honestly, if someone asks me to run for fun instead of for time, it normally takes me all of .037 seconds to decide to throw whatever goals I have out the window and lollygag with friends instead.)

These two make my heart smile!

With inaugural races there will always be kinks (and I've gotta be honest, I normally prefer to wait until they get them worked out before registering, but since Road Runner Sports was working on the race I thought I'd give it the benefit of the doubt). One of these bumps in the road was the delayed start time. Around 6:30am we heard what sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher on an announcement (guess we weren't close enough to make out what was actually being said) but then didn't start for another 10 minutes or so (and at that point there wasn't a National Anthem or even a horn, people just started running).

The first few miles are along the 56 bike path, which is great (and mostly downhill), but there seemed to be a rather large bottleneck getting on to the path. I'd say there was a decent amount of shuffling and 'going with the flow' for the first half mile or so before we actually got a little room to run. Even with the small race field, I would probably suggest a wave start simply to prevent the bunching. (PS There were no corrals and everything was self seeding, but it seemed like the majority of folks lined up appropriately by pacers or estimated finish time signs - so WAY TO GO RUNNERS!)

I have run the path a couple times now, since the San Diego Holiday Half runs along the same bike trail for the majority of its race, and I don't hate it ;) (FYI - Even though the two races are put on by two different companies, if you sign up for both this year you get EXTRA BLING!) Like I said at the beginning, the course isn't super visually stimulating or entertaining, but it is still fun! Although you are running along a highway, the left hand side has some pretty terrain (even though due to our major drought it is rather brown and dusty).

There is a little green ;)

Linzie's hip has been acting up and Leslie is just getting back into road running (trails are normally her jam) so we decided to take the race nice and comfortable. We walked or stretched when we needed to, stopped for photo ops when the moment struck and just had a grand ol' time! And, let's be real, you will remember the time spent with friends much better than a specific time on your Garmin... LIFE'S ABOUT THE JOURNEY - MAKE SURE TO ENJOY IT!

Stop, drop and SELFIE!

Keep chugging!

The sun decided to make an appearance around Mile 10
(and if you can't tell the sweat is overtaking my shirt)

SMILE!

Although the course is fun (especially with the right crowd), I would venture to say it is NOT a PR course. There are a few major climbs along the route. My Garmin had over 1,350 feet of elevation gain. Don't get me wrong, there were definitely some fun little downhills to cruise on as well, but man the ups were KILLER! So much so that they even had a "King of the Mountain" split that timed the mile-ish climb around Mile 10.5 or so... That hill definitely made sure that the majority of runners had a major positive split for the race!

Uh... yeah... So.... hills....

For a mid-July race, the temps weren't too crazy warm - which was MUCH APPRECIATED (I have run another mid-July half and let's just say it was a scorcher) - but the humidity... man was it soggy. I think everyone was pretty much drenched with sweat within the first mile (and the 'easy' pace we were running was feeling a bit more strenuous than you would expect). I know I frequently complain about the weather, but that's because we pay an extremely HIGH Sunshine Tax to live in Southern California... And if I'm going to pay my pretty pennies, I expect it to be sunny and 75* and low humidity for 90% of the year (otherwise I would pay the much lower cost of living to be somewhere that the humidity is out of control). #RealTalk

Talking about pennies, during one of our walk breaks I found one! I was making money running the race - BOOM SHAKALAKA! We joked and said it was one of my thingamabobs and then made a game trying to find more... since I didn't yet have twenty! I politely declined the dead rat that Leslie found as one of my whatzits though.

Yay for free race photos (especially ones that capture my dinglehopper!)!

And, just an FYI, to whomever puts together race courses, runners do NOT appreciate uphills to finish a race. Now I understand that sometimes they are a necessity (especially if the finishing brewery is on a hill), but that still doesn't mean we are generally going to love them... Yes, the beer was near, but I would have loved to feel like I was flying into the finish as opposed to huffin' and puffin' my way in.

Thanks to the hubby for always playing race photographer for me!

After crossing the finish line, we collected a few snacks (I had a half of a banana and a fourth of a bagel). I didn't see any bottled water, just small Dixie cups like they had on the course, which is a bummer, especially for a mid-July race (or for folks who weren't going to be partaking in the brews). In fact, before I forget, although there seemed to be adequate water stops on the course (although the first one wasn't until after Mile 3), I was glad I brought some back-up hydration. The small cups filled less than half way were not quenching my thirst. [FYI: If you'd like to see Leslie, Linzie and I finishing you can watch the video clip here.]

FINISHER!

Okay, back to the finishing area. It was cramped and not so organized. You picked up your food before your medal and then had to walk backwards to get in line for the beer... Yup, although you had beer tickets on your bib, you had to stand in line to swap them for different tickets... Thankfully the line was moving at a decent speed (but Linzie and Leslie still had enough time to run to the car to grab their IDs before I made it to the front). The hubby met up with us and was stoked to get my beer tickets (I do the running, he does the drinking - it's a pretty perfect relationship if you ask me ;)).

Green Flash has some yummy beers (or so I've been told - they are actually one of the hubby's favorite local breweries), so it was fun to see some of their different beers out and about. You were given 4 tickets and could use them for either one "full" beer, two "full" tasters or four "half" tasters. The different options were spread out throughout the area, which was great for preventing a huge line, but it did make for a little confusion when you had to walk around to find the beer(s) you wanted. Maybe a beer guide or map would have been helpful (even in the race directions if they didn't want to have signage around the property).

Cheers!

I always love a good photo op, so the backdrop with props was fun. The only issue is that when you stood on the "cases" everyone seemed to be too tall for the backdrop... I think they probably should have had the cases moved forward (so you could stand behind them) or made the backdrop taller.

Who can pass up a great photo op?!

Especially one with props?!

PS I hope I don't sound nit-picky, especially since the things I am mentioning aren't big deals, I just want to make sure I am giving specifics on how things could be improved for future races. (By the way, there will be a Craft Classic in Atlanta and in Phoenix later this fall. If you are going to be in the area, I'd highly suggest checking them out.)

On the way out I was able to find the sweet Dorothy and chat with her for a while. She is such a great gal and I'm so stoked that running has introduced us. Her and her hubby were working one of the booths for Road Runner Sports but I was able to steal her away for a few minutes to chat about her recent adventures, their San Diego vacation and just life in general. If you don't follow her, you should... NOW!

This lady is one speedy ROCKSTAR mama!

It was finally time to call it a day, so on the way out I snapped a quick picture by the finish line and one with the hubby (since he is normally my photographer and we never think to get a picture together). Then it was time to head home for showers, puppy snuggles and food!

Ariel found her legs!

PS Hubby ran the 5K. They started at the same time so he was
able to get in his Sunday miles, drink a couple beers and still
see me finish! I call that WINNING (as does he)!

It was AWESOME to meet all of the folks I did while out on the course! Every time someone says they follow me (whether it is my blog or one of my social media channels) I have to refrain from asking "why?" since it is still a shock that people care enough to join along on my journey. But even if it is a shock, I am beyond grateful (but maybe a little embarrassed), so THANK YOU!

All-in-all, I would give this race, especially for being the first year (and the first location in the series), two thumbs up. The hills are tough and it makes you earn your beer, but it's great! Of course there were small things that could have been done better, but overall I felt like the pros TOTALLY outweighed the cons. And the little details (like the beer filling up on each of the mile markers, the six pack bibs and the beer tap bling) definitely showed that they cared and wanted to go the extra mile for the participants!

Do you normally try inaugural races or wait until they have worked out the kinks?