Monday, November 30, 2015

A Different Kind of Christmas


If it were socially acceptable to start cranking the Christmas jams in September and put up your tree and decorations in October, you better believe I would be ALL over that! #RealTalk - If I'm having a bad day, you will often find the Pandora Christmas station playing to help get me out of my funk - no matter what time of the year it is.


Maybe it's the magic in the twinkle lights or the generosity of people {except, of course, when it comes to "their" parking spot at the mall or that "super sale" on a prized possession} or that the holiday is a celebration of my Savior entering the world, whatever the case, it makes me heart happy.

And although I love the holiday season each and every year, I am EXTRA excited for Christmas THIS YEAR. Like, legit, I think in my 31 years THIS is the one I am MOST looking forward to. Why you may ask?! Because this one is ALL ABOUT OTHERS!

If you know me (or remember my #Carlees31 project), you know that I have a passion to give to those around me. With that being said, my heart grew three sizes this year when many of the people in my life decided that instead of gifts we could make this Christmas matter MUCH MORE!


This year, instead of exchanging gifts, my mom, dad, brother, brother's girlfriend, hubby and I are picking a charity that is near and dear to our hearts and we are all donating in honor of that person. My mom picked St. Jude, my dad selected Habitat for Humanity, my brother and his girlfriend chose the Detroit Bully Club, and the hubby and I picked Outside the Bowl. We are all beyond blessed and really don't need more "things", so wanted to spend this holiday season blessing others.


Last year my sister-in-law adopted a local family in Detroit for the holidays. This year, she asked if, instead of buying each other things, if we wanted to go in with them on a larger family - HECK YES! We will be adopting a mother and five kids together with them and another family couple. The family's wish list is long (including things like snow suits, hats, gloves, snow boots, socks, blankets, outfits, shoes, toys and all things Frozen), but we are blessed to bless others so cannot wait to pamper them with everything they need and more! (Don't worry, we will still be spoiling the nephews with Lego's galore, but the adults have enough "stuff" and are opting to spend the money on those that could really use it.)


Some of my girlfriends and I decided that instead of presents this Christmas, we are taking a girls trip together. We grabbed up some cheap Southwest flights when they were having a good deal and will be heading to San Francisco for a long weekend come January. The holidays are about spending time together - not necessarily spending money on each other! It is all about presence NOT presents!


I was stoked when my father-in-law mentioned that instead of gifts he wanted to do experiences. While we are back in Michigan, we will be going with Ryan's family to a Detroit Pistons game with some great seats. I mean, let's be real, would you rather have court side tickets to a NBA game or another trinket that you will never use?! 

But PLEASE HEAR ME OUT... I am not telling you this for accolades or for a pat on the back, I am posting about our ideas as a way to spur you in some of your own acts of giving. Maybe instead of gifts you and your friends volunteer at a local soup kitchen for the holidays or maybe you and your family decide to decorate cookies and take them to your local fire house or maybe you create kindness packages with gift cards, hand warmers and blankets for the homeless along your daily route and dedicate each to a special person in your life... Shoot, if you are looking for acts of kindness, I did 31 of them during #Carlees31 that you could piggy back off of. Chat with those in your tribe and see if they would like to do something for those less fortunate instead of for one another.


And, I have to say, this different kind of Christmas not only makes you feel great inside, it is definitely a whole heck of a lot less stressful! I understand realize that not everyone will be on board with flipping the American idea of Christmas on its head, but maybe, just maybe, one or two of us will do it and we can start to change the world!


Is there something you can do this holiday season to help those less fortunate than you?

12 Days Of Carlee's Christmas

As a way to say THANK YOU for helping me hit 10K followers on Instagram, to celebrate the season and to SPREAD THE LOVE, I decided to do the BIGGEST and BESTEST GIVEAWAY that I could manage.

I have teamed up with some AMAZING companies (and had some awesome {brand new} gear around the house) to bring you 12 DAYS of GIVEAWAYS! Yeppers, you read that right... Not just one giveaway, but TWELVE crazy days of giveaways (many of them with multiple winners!)!

I don't want to spoil the surprises, but know that each and every day will be FAN-FREAKIN'-TASTIC.

I am planning to post reminders on my Instagram and Twitter accounts about the giveaways, but they will all be held HERE, on CarleeMcDot.Com, so if you don't already have the webpage in your favorites (or have the app downloaded on your Apple device), you better do it now!

What's the best thing you've ever won from a giveaway?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Workout Recap - Week 48

Sunday, November 22nd – Travel Day

Monday, November 23rd – 3 mile (crazy) hike

Tuesday, November 24th –  2 mile muddy hike and 3 mile run with the hubby

Wednesday, November 25th – Rest Day

Thursday, November 26th –  McDot Turkey Trot 5K

Friday, November 27th –  Travel Day

Saturday, November 28th – Rest Day, Foam Rolled & Stretched

Let's just say, after months and months of scheduled workouts and just finishing up four races within three weekends, this was my RESET week. Yes, we were active. Yes, I hit my step count goal daily. Yes, we hiked around and saw parts of Hawaii that are off the beaten trail. But my running mileage suffered DRASTICALLY (like I only ran 6 MILES!).

I was originally planning on getting in a decent run on Saturday when we returned, but after getting home around 2am, watching the Michigan football game, putting up our Christmas decorations, vacuuming the house, doing five loads of laundry and working from 2-6pm, I was spent.

Now it's time to get my training plan together for the Los Angeles Marathon (I mean, we are less than 80 days away from the race!). {PS If you haven't registered yet and wanna run it, use code CARLEE16 to save $10 [good until the race sells out, but the sooner you register, the cheaper it is].}

How were your workouts this past week? 

Friday, November 27, 2015

A Better Black Friday

Who is ready to win a $50 Momentum Jewelry Shopping spree?

Throughout TODAY ONLY, post a picture on Instagram of what you did today, Black Friday, to get moving (walking from your car to the shopping mall doesn't count!) and tag @momentumjewelry. That's it! They'll pick a winner and announce it on Saturday morning! The winner will receive a $50 Momentum Jewelry shopping spree! Good luck! #motivate #inspire #giveaway #blackfriday #aBETTERblackfriday

**And PS Just in case you don't win, you can use my ambassador link to save 10% off of your order(s) until December 15th. [These make GREAT stocking stuffers or BRF gifts, so stock up NOW!]**

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Real Hawaii

Although I have had to work for a few hours over the last couple days (thankfully I can work remotely, so logging in for a couple hours in the mornings isn't terrible, especially when the hubby has to also work or is out surfing), Ryan and I have been determined to still make the most out of our Hawaiian Holiday.

A friend of his is working with the Reef team riders for the next six weeks, documenting real time life on the North Shore. His friend (also named Ryan) is an avid outdoorsman and amazing hiker/ climber (not to mention, self proclaimed billy goat and ridge reaper).

We had the afternoon off on Monday so asked Ryan if he wanted to go on a hike with us. Although he was tired at first, once we got on the road he started to perk up. You see, we were under flood advisories due to the rain and where we were going had a 600 foot waterfall. He had been there recently and it was flowing, but assumed that with all the rain we were getting it would be DUMPING. And, boy, was he right (but I am getting ahead of myself)!

I promised Ryan that I wouldn't spread the word on where we were as to not get it overrun with tons and tons of people (I guess he thinks lots of folks must read my blog ;)), so unfortunately for you, you will have to live vicariously through my pictures or befriend Ryan and have him take you, because you won't learn about the specifics of where we went here.

That's the only descriptor you will get from me ;)

So, Ryan and Ryan are both very outdoorsy guys. Don't get me wrong, I love being outside, but, normally, in a more controlled environment ;) With that being said, they are rough and rugged. I, on the other hand, am always up for an adventure but am like 5% as adventurous as they are. Our "tour guide" said that the hike would be moderate (but, come to find out, everyone jokes about "Mossy Moderate" and how gnarly it really ends up being).

The hike itself was probably 1.5 mile to the waterfall(s). It took us about 45 minutes to get there. And although it wasn't super long, it was LEGIT the most GNARLY hike I have ever been on! The majority of the trail is either alongside or through a riverbed (but, remember, we were in a flood warning, so at points the water was above my waist). The path was super slick and muddy, but AMAZINGLY beautiful. Picture Jurassic Park and you can get a glimpse of what it was like.

You can sort of see some of the falls in the far background

There were waterfalls upon waterfalls!

It was insanely gnarly, but we took the time to enjoy every
step of our adventure!

You can sort of see some of the "trail" to the right of the riverbed

And at this point you are hiking through the water itself

Oh yeah, and then we got to a wall... There was about a 15 foot waterfall and I looked at the hubby and said, "I think I'm just going to have to wait here". He told me that wouldn't be an option because you never know when the waters may rise and it might not be safe to just hang out there. Ryan was already at the top of it (he climbed it without any shoes - I swear he is part monkey). He yelled down to us and said that we were going to make a make-shift harness and I was going to scale the wall with the little rope that was attached to a tree - HA! But, I DID IT! (Not only that, I did it on the way back too!) It was really scary (for me), but I knew these guys wouldn't let me get hurt (and that the end game was going to be too amazing to miss).

So you can't see the waterfall below that I scaled, but this is a
picture of the guys putting away the ropes that we used to assist
me in scaling the wall (the guys were able to get up it like
rock climbers... I needed to clip in and get some help up {and down})

After my heart stopped racing and legs stopped wobbling, we were able to continue on and make it to the waterfall. The pictures don't do it justice and my words are so inadequate, but know that it was BEYOND! The hubby turned to me and said "This is real Hawaii". And I told him, "If I was the cussing type, now would be the time to drop the F bomb".


I wish the picture did God's creation justice, but it just never will!

So much power, so much beauty!

By the time we got back to the van we were soaked, caked in mud, but smiling from ear-to-ear and couldn't stop talking about how AMAZING a 600 foot water fall (especially during a flood advisory) could be.

We thanked the island for the experience and gave HUGE props to Ryan for taking us to see the majesty. (Like I said, I am not going to tell you exactly where we went, but if you were to find it, make sure you go with someone who knows the lay of the land and what they are doing. I never once felt in danger {even though I was scared poop-less at points}, but it can be a very dangerous place for people who don't know what they are doing.)

People leave gifts and offerings all along the trail as a way to
honor the island (mana)

It is ALWAYS worth stepping outside your comfort zone (and off the beaten path) - that's where the magic happens anyway!

Do you enjoy hiking?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Refer A Sparkly Friend & You Could Win 100 Headbands

Sparkly Soul is at it again! (And you better believe I am entering to win because I LOVE my Sparkly Soul headbands!)

Enter to win 100 Sparkly Soul headbands through this Friday, November 27th, 11:59pm PST by REFERRING A SPARKLY FRIEND! 

To enter:

(2) COPY (no BCC) a friend on the email: you will get an entry for each friend copied
(3) Include the following text:
“Happy Holidays! Check out my favorite headbands … Sparkly Soul Full-Elastic Headbands (@SPARKLYSOULINC) at They are full-elastic with no piece of black elastic in the back like all other headbands on the market! You can enter to win 100 headbands too by emailing and copying your friends – you will get an entry for each friend you copy (no BCC). 1 winner chosen and announced on social media on 11/30!” 
#sparklysoulheadbands #win100headbands #nopieceofblackelasticintheback #tistheseason

Monday, November 23, 2015

USA Half Marathon Invitational Race Recap

Saturday morning was the USA Half Marathon Invitational.

Flat Carlee included: Brooks Pure Connect 2 (with yellow reflective Shwings),
a tank top from Run With Perseverance (was just plain black burnout that I
added USA iron-ons onto), a blue and red Sparkle Athletic skirt (I just layered
them by rolling up the top one a couple times), Pro Compression socks,
Patriotic Sparkly Soul headbandGarmin Forerunner 220RoadID,
camo Handful bra, and Garmin vĂ­vofit2.

If you haven’t heard of it before, it is the first half marathon that you have to have a qualifying time for. I thought I remembered them saying something during the advertising about being the Boston of half marathons…


As with most races, there was an EARLY wake up call. This one was EXTRA early because the race start time was at 6am (I think, other than runDisney races, this has been the earliest one I’ve had). I think they were probably forced to have an early start as a way to obtain permits from the city - closing down streets in Downtown is tough! With the hubby not being home (meaning A. I had to walk the pup before I left and B. I was a little nervous about having to figure out all of the logistics myself), I decided I’d probably need to be up by 3:15am so I could leave by 4:15am and be to the finish line by 5am.

I was up by 2:55am, of course...
I can NEVER sleep until my alarm(s)

As with life, I would MUCH prefer to be early somewhere than late, so I probably over estimated my time a bit. I ended up getting down to San Diego around 4:40 or so and sat in the car for a bit. Thankfully the temps were AMAZING (when I looked at the Oceanside temperatures it was only going to be in the 40s at race time, but San Diego was much more tropical at a lovely 55*).

Perfect running weather (although it did
warm up a bit quickly once the sun started
to make an appearance)

The start and finish were not at the same spot, but were only about a mile or two away from each other so I decided to park at the finish and walk to the starting line. (I always prefer to be able to make a quick escape after the race {especially because you are never sure how it will go or how you will feel} instead of parking by the starting line and having to either hike or take a shuttle back to your car.)


Let me start off by saying the race was a little less frills than I was expecting. I know it was the inaugural year and things will only get better from here, but I guess I was expecting a little more from a race that was trying to compare itself to the Boston Marathon. For example, when I was meandering around (because there were no signs or direction of any type) before the race, I came across the pre-race water… You know, some race will have water out for the athletes before the race. Well, there was water… But just jugs of it… Not sure if they were expecting folks to just pour it in their mouths or bring a cup with them for the entirety of the race (since they did not offer gear check), but it was a little strange.

Pre-race "water station"

The marquee on the Concourse

Seeing as I arrived early, I hit up the port-o-potties before there was too long of a line. There were a decent amount of them, but even by the time I got out the lines were getting pretty long. I saw Robert in line (normally we see each other at runDisney races but it seems like I’ve been seeing him at more and more of the local races - YAY for friendly faces!). We missed grabbing a picture together - next time!

Starting line selfie

I knew some friends were running the race, so I was glad when I saw a text come through from sweet Megan that she was near the starting line. I made my way over to her and we chatted for about 20 minutes before they started sending us to our “corrals” (there were no corrals but were pacers so at least we had a rough idea of where we should line up). Of course we had to get a couple pictures together, even if taking selfies in the dark never turn out great.

Sparkly Soul SISTAS!

Obviously we both had to bust out some Sparkle Athletic skirts
and PRO Compression socks for this patriotic race ;)

If you have read my last few posts then you know my calf had been acting up since finishing the REVEL Canyon City Marathon (two weeks prior). Thankfully by Thursday it was feeling back to normal. I wasn’t sure if I was going to 'race' race this one or just take it easy, especially since I hadn’t tried to run “fast” since that race. Well, race morning came and the legs were feeling okay so I devised a plan. I’d try and stick with the 1:45 pacer until about mile 10, then, if I was feeling good, I would try to pick it up for the last 5K and see about getting a new PR (my current personal record for the half marathon is 1:44:42 from last year’s Holiday Half). I decided if the leg started giving me problems or it just wasn’t my race that I would turn it into a picture day and just stop along the way.

The sun was starting to rise in the distance and we were ready to run!

As with most races with pacers, there tends to be a large gathering around them. I didn’t want to have to fight for running space, so I decided I’d drop back a bit and just try to get into a rhythm - thinking as long as I could see her I was probably fine. Well, spoiler alert, I never caught back up to her.

The course was a bit hillier and tougher than I was expecting. Although, like I said to the runners near me, I would MUCH prefer the hills to come in the first half of the race than the second, so, for that, I was thankful. Even outside of the major “climb” there were still quite a few overpasses, bridges and on-ramps that we were fighting gravity on (and even portions that were on loose gravel).


Like I said, there were some HILLS on this one!

There are only so many courses around San Diego, so I felt like most portions of the race I had run before, but not that specific route. It was fun to run and think “Oh, I ran this portion during the San Diego Half but in the opposite direction” or “This was the finish area for the Women’s Running Half”.

Around mile 6.5 we got quite the surprise - Meb was out on the course offering high-fives and cheering on the runners. The running community is so freaking cool. I mean, how amazing is it that a Boston Marathon WINNER would be out on an off Saturday cheering US on?! San Diego really IS America’s Finest City. (PS He lives in San Diego and runs locally often. He is so gracious to runners he comes across - always willing to snap a picture or offer words of encouragement. HE ROCKS MY SOCKS!) I am slightly bummed I didn’t get a picture with him since I was focusing on my time, but a high-five was good enough.

I guess this is my "I'm serious about my time" face

I am happy to report that my calf had ZERO pain the entire way - HOORAY! With that being said, I could feel my legs were starting to get heavy around mile 7 or 8. Nothing painful, but I could definitely tell this was my fourth race in three weekends. Sometimes it seems like you are sludging your way through peanut butter and that was how my legs were feeling.

Not exactly the splits I was hoping for,
but I still give it two thumbs up!

At one of the turn-arounds towards the end of the race I saw Jessica (who is absolutely crazy in the best possible way) and I knew I had to kick it in. We joked afterwards about it. She said she saw me and tried to catch up. I told her I saw her and didn't want her to beat me. Her boyfriend laughed and said that at least we keep each other competitive.

Jessica is a ROCKSTAR who runs more races in one month
than I do in a full year!

I was able to finish with a 1:46:43. Not the PR I was hoping for, but after all of the miles I have put on my legs in the past few months (not to mention that fact that I was technically training for a PR/BQ at REVEL, not a fast half marathon time) I will consider it a very successful effort.

I was pretty proud of myself with this picture. We have a giant American flag
in our garage so I snapped a watch shot once I got back home.

After I crossed the finish line I ran into Kristin (she passed me on the course because she was in the potty when the race started and had to play catch up) - SHE’S THE BEST!


And since I had a starting line selfie, here's the finish line one!

We love to fly our freak flags HIGH!
Thanks for the picture Kristin!

I also saw fellow Los Angeles Marathon ambassador Tim (who has been in a walking boot because of his PT and STILL rocked the race with a 1:36 something!).

Source: TimChristoni's Instagram

After taking a couple pictures, Kristin and I made our way to the post-race snacks - yum! It was a little difficult to grab everything because A. there was so much, but B. we weren’t given any type of bags. As we were going through the goody line, some of the volunteers were taking away empty boxes and we were both offered one to put our goodies in - YES PLEASE!

Some of the goodies in my mini box!

Once we were fully stocked, we saw the guys from High Performance Movement. I have done a couple of their races (last year’s PB5K Beachfest and the Santa Mile with Walt) so recognized Pete as soon as he walked up. It was great to chat with them about the course, as well as hear about all of their upcoming races.

SourceHP Movement's Instagram

I noticed the time and realized I should probably skedaddle home so I could let the pup out and pack for Hawaii before I had to work so gave Kristin a hug and made my way to the car - which, luckily for me, was only about 2 blocks away and FREE!


One of the perks from the race was instead of a participant’s tee, we received finisher jackets. I was really stoked about it, until I got it… They are unisex sized black track jackets (meaning I am swimming in the XS) and the graphic is just screen printed on it. Well, it ended up in my pile of race gear that I will use for my next Project Repat quilt

I forgot to take a picture before I left for Hawaii, so this is just a standard
picture from the website. When I get back, as long as I remember, I will swap
it out for a picture I take of mine

Folks have asked me if this is a “must-do” race… Eh, I wish I could say it was, but I think my return would depend on the cost (which, to be honest, I don’t remember how much I paid, but did try to sign up early to get the best deal). Like I mentioned, it was pretty low frills (there were 6 or so aid stations on the course, but many of them did not have enough volunteers to hand out the drinks) and the jacket isn’t cool enough (at least in my opinion) to warrant trying to keep legacy status. Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing necessarily bad about the race, but I guess I went in with higher expectations (even though this was their first year) based on their marketing. I am sure the race will only get better, but there was nothing that stood out to me telling me I MUST return. (Although, let's be honest, free race photos are a BIG perk I truly appreciate!)

Thumbs up for another successful run!

PS Here is a link to the Runner's World article about the race (pretty cool that it made the site):

Do you give inaugural races grace or expect them to have everything figured out the first go-around?