Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February Books

One of my goals for 2017 was to read 17 books. Well, had I known my reading speed (or the fact that the library would quickly become one of my new best friends) I probably would have adjusted that number slightly ;)

In case you missed it, I posted about the books I read in January HERE. There were ELEVEN of them! So I guess February's nine brings that total for 2017 up to TWENTY (already surpassing my yearly goal). In case you are interested in the books I read or my take on them, feel free to check out my synopsis (and how I'd rate them) below!

  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett - This was another book that a friend had suggested and I had no idea what it was about. The plot is about two families who were brought together by an affair and the life that was created. The interesting part was that it was not in chronological order. One chapter would be about the father during chemotherapy and then the next might be about everyone's lives pre-affair and then the next might be about one of the kids as an adult. It definitely forced you to pay very close attention (and to put the details together on your own). I really enjoyed it, especially since I don't think it would have been one I would have chosen myself. I would give this one an 8 out of 10.

I don't always read while snuggled on the couch ;) Sometimes I read
while doing a little cross training on my stationary bike!

  • Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick - I have always loved Anna Kendrick and when I read this book she wrote it confirmed everything I thought. She is a super down-to-earth girl, with quite a few funny stories to share. The book is just her talking about some of the events that happened throughout her life (how she got into acting, how she has failed in the love department and how she gets to play dress up for work but worries that "they" might find out she is a fraud and all of it will disappear). I would give this one an 8 out of 10.

  • Devoted: The Story of a Father's Love For His Son by Dick Hoyt - In the running community Team Hoyt is not only an inspiration, they are ROCKSTARS! I have heard their story in the past, but when a sweet friend sent me this book I had to read it immediately! Not only is this story about the love that Dick has for his son, Rick, it is a story of overcoming obstacles, of not taking 'no' for an answer, of persevering no matter the cost, and of realizing that "YES I CAN!". Whether you are a runner or not, you will be inspired (and probably moved to tears many-a-times) by the lives of the Hoyts. I would give this one a 9 out of 10.

While the hubby was climbing at the gym, I couldn't put the book down!

  • Shut Up and Run by Robin Arz√łn - This is a great resource for someone newer to the running scene. I love Robin's swag and she breaks down running into doable steps. (I didn't realize when I picked it up that it was more of a 'how to get started' type book, but it still had some great tid-bits, as well as awesome inspiration.) I'd totally recommend it to someone who is looking to get started. I would give this one a 7 out of 10.

  • Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik - If you don't know who Ruth Bader Ginsburg is, you are missing out. She has been a GIANT in the women's rights movement, but not only has she been making life better for females, she is making this world a better place for EVERYONE! Originally I thought this might be a difficult read, with a lot of legal jargon, but I was struck, page after page, by how much RBG's passion is woven into everything she does. I would give this one a 9 out of 10.

  • The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman - Did you know that a zookeeper and his wife in Poland helped to save over 300 Jews during World War II by hiding them in their zoo?! I had no idea, so when someone suggested this book I had to reserve it from the library immediately. With that said, I guess I was expecting the book to be more about the lives of the "guests". I was a little thrown off when there would be pages upon pages of details about different insects, but I do very much appreciate how much research went into the writing of the book (the author used interviews, news articles, diary excerpts, etc and recapped the events as if she was right there as it occurred). Since I went in expecting the book to be a little different I was a bit disappointed, but it was still an amazing story - even if I was left wanting more personal details. I would give this one a 7 out of 10.

  • Designing your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by William Burnett - I wasn't sure what to expect with this book (like many others, I received the recommendation from a friend, put it on my library list and didn't read anything about it until it became available for me to pick up). Although I am not in a position to drastically change or redesign my life, I did really appreciate a lot of the principles from this book. Each chapter closed with action steps on what the writers suggested and ways to put what you read into practice. I also loved the idea that there is not one specific (or "correct") life for you to live - there are many! This takes the pressure off making decisions, because you are always just testing and trying things out. Mistakes aren't failures, they are proof you are trying AND LEARNING! I would give this one a 8n out of 10 (and would totally recommend it to someone looking to make changes in their life). 

  • Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Edwin E. Catmull - Okay, so I wasn't sure if I should include this book, since I didn't actually "read" it, but we listened to it on the drive to and from Phoenix - but I finally decided that audiobooks (unabridged versions) totally count because you are retaining the information. Anywho, I really liked this one. If you don't know, my hubby is a creative (currently working as an art director for a sunscreen company). I felt like this book spoke to both of us for different reasons - I loved learning all about the "behind-the-scenes" of Pixar and he loved learning all about how to make (and keep) an environment creative and constantly growing. I would give this one an 8 out of 10.

Another month down and I'm stoked on the books I finished. This month slowed down (or maybe the books just got longer), but I'm hoping to average at least four to six books a month. And as always, keep the suggestions coming!

What are you reading these days?

Monday, February 27, 2017

Mesa-PHX Marathon Race Recap

This past weekend was the Mesa-PHX Marathon (which offers a 10K, Half Marathon and Full Marathon). It marked my TENTH full marathon (and third Phoenix Marathon: 2015 & 2016).


The hubby and I drove to Phoenix on Friday morning. We decided to leave the house by 5am to avoid any of the normal morning commuter traffic (and also get us into town with plenty of time to eat lunch, check into our hotel and get over to the Expo before I was helping to host the #WeRunSocial meet-up).

Yup, I pulled over on the freeway to have Ry take this picture for me

The drive was easy and I even made sure to stop for gas before we hit a half tank because I did NOT want a repeat of last year's incident...

Pit stop on the way to PHX!

When we got into Phoenix we were sure to stop at Ike's Love & Sandwiches. It is one of our favorite sandwich shops to hit up when we go to Arizona. They have so many vegetarian and vegan options - and they are all DELISH! {And when I was getting the website to link the restaurant I noticed they have them in California - SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!}

Yummy in our tummies!

Before we knew it, it was time to head over to the Expo. The hubby and I met up with Brian, Dave and Sarah (we were all staying in the same hotel) and made our way to the Marriott where the Expo was. We grabbed our bibs, walked through the maze of vendors and grabbed our participant shirts (males received tees and females received tanks).

You know how we do... 

Once we had everything we needed we made our way back to the PRO Compression booth for the #WeRunSocial meet-up. I was super stoked to meet new friends, chat with old ones and be amongst the most amazing community EVER ;) Meet-ups can be difficult to organize, but I was pleasantly surprised at how many folks were able to make it.

A few pictures from the meet-up, including some of the PRO Compression Ambassadors and the
Mesa-PHX Marathon Race Ambassadors. This wasn't even everyone who stopped by!

After we said our good-byes and wished everyone the best of luck, we went to dinner. A few of us hit up La Grande Orange Grocery for some pizza. The food was yummy and the company is always amazing.

Apparently we didn't get the memo from EMZ about the pose... ;)

With the Mesa-PHX Marathon being a point to point race, you are required to park at the finish line area and take a bus to your respected starting line. In the past there has been some user error with the race morning arrival, so this year we vowed to be there early and prepared ;) Well, as I'm sure you could guess, that means an EARLY wake-up call.

I was actually out of bed by 2:30am... which was 1:30am PST... OUCH!

Last year's race was abnormally HOT! I remember sweating when we got off the bus (before we even started the race). This year I decided I would rock the arm sleeves that the race gave us in our goodie bags from 2016, and planned my outfit around them ;)

Like I mentioned, my #FlatCarlee was going to revolve around my sleeves, so
I guess it was ROYAL BLUE FTW! Jailbreak PROs, black Handful bra, royal
Sparkle Athletic skirt, gray tank, #WeRunSocial hat, blue and white QALO
silicone wedding bands, gray and blue Momentum Jewelry wraps, blue RoadID,
my Garmin Forerunner 735XT, and my Brooks Ghost 9 with silver Shwings.
Also, since it was a full marathon I ran with my Nathan handheld and fueled
with PROBAR Bolt chews.

The only thing I didn't really take into account was the fact that the abnormal heat would be gone... I mean, I was stoked when I saw the weather man calling for "perfect weather", but didn't really plan on the cooler temps at the starting line.

Source: @phxmarathon's Instagram Page

Thankfully Brian was checking a bag and let me throw my coat in with his stuff. Also, the race allowed us to sit on the buses until closer to the starting time which was AMAZEBALLS! When our bus got to the starting area, we got off and got in the port-o-potty line and once we all handled our business we got back on the toasty buses.

The temps at the start were chilly! 

[I did want to mention, even though I was an ambassador for this race, you know I've gotta #KeepItReal... And one area I believe they could improve on is the potties at the start. The set up is two aisles, so the lines are at either end. The issue is that this causes four VERY LONG, single filed lines. Two of the lines are between the buses which are still spitting exhaust for the runners who are escaping the elements. I realize there's limited space at the start, but I think adding more port-o-potties and arranging them so that you could have lines for groups of 3 or 4 would work better.]

Anywho, back to the race. Brian, Sarah, Stephanie and I decided to stay on the bus as long as possible, but finally had to brave the cold and made our way towards the start around 6:10am (the race was set for 6:30am). Sarah and Brian dropped bags at gear check (which was two U-hauls that drove the goodies to the finish line) and we got ready to run.

Dark photos are hard... but "there's an app for that" ;)
Photo Credit: Sarah

I had ZERO time goals in mind for the race (you can read about that decision HERE if you haven't yet), but Brian thought from his 22 mile run that he could shoot for around a 4-hour race (and he let me tag along). We actually knew the pacer for 3:55 (sweet Jen), so we figured we'd attempt to run with her for a while.

Still early in the race because I hadn't tossed my gloves yet...
Source: Jen's Facebook Page

At 6:30am the announcer did a quick countdown, some fireworks went off and we were on our way to another 26.2 mile adventure. (I was surprised there was no national anthem, but maybe we missed it while we were on the bus?)

The first few miles are fairly dark. The road is flat and straight, so you don't really have to worry about your footing too much, but the sun doesn't rise for about 30 minutes after the race starts so there's not much to see. It's a bit of a bummer because I think that the first 3 or so miles of the course are the prettiest.


I'd say from the start until about mile 3ish you are coming down out of the mountains, so there is a decent downhill with views of the hills, cacti, sunrise, etc. Around mile 3 you start coming into the residential areas. The homes are beautiful and the neighbors are kind (I'm always so surprised at how many spectators are out along the course). By the time you hit maybe mile 12 or so you are back down in the city of Mesa and among the industrial/ business areas. Although the views the second half of the course aren't super inspiring, the crowd support definitely picks up and keeps you going.


Along the route I stopped for a couple pictures. (Seeing everyone's pictures from the runDisney Princess Half Marathon weekend left me with a little FOMO so I tried to alleviate the feeling by finding my own "characters" along our course.)

A T-rex, a teddy bear, and some metal dinosaurs... 

Can I also say how much I LOVE free race pictures?! I think I mentioned this during my Pasadena Half Race Recap, but it's my favorite (especially when the hubby isn't there or is running himself and can't snap a couple pictures for me). They may not always capture the best/ most flattering shots, but at least I have proof that I was out there ;)

If you can't tell... running is NO fun... ;)

Heading in towards the finish line!

Brian and I had a great morning (okay, maybe if you asked him he might not use the word "great" to describe it, but I would ;)). We had a strong 17 miles and then decided to back of the gas and listen to our bodies. We chatted it up, gave out high fives, encouraged those around us (checking in on runners who looked like they might be struggling), and crossed yet another finish line.

This guy... He's the best! No words to describe how much his friendship means
to me and the hubby! His family's AWESOMESAUCE too!

I've said it before (and I will continue yelling it from the mountain tops every chance I get). Not every race is about your finish time - shoot, the majority of races (at least for me) have nothing to do with the time on the clock. What matters is the time on the course, the time spent with friends and the memories made! I doubt I will ever win a race or become a professional runner, but I hope to never outrun my love for this sport (or the amazing community/family/tribe I've found).

Oh yeah, and I can't forget to mention that the hubby ran his EIGHTH half marathon! He was lucky enough to run the race with Dave and they had a BLAST (although, if you have met my hubby, you probably know it's hard to hang out with him and not have a great time).

So proud of the hubby! For someone who picked up running for me, he has done some AMAZING things! 
He's my number 1!

While they were waiting for Brian and I to finish they were able to live it up in the finisher area - eating french toast, playing all of the games, getting massages, etc. And somehow they were even able to pull themselves away from the party to come give us high-fives and cheer us into the finish!

Photo Credit: Dave

Like I mentioned at the beginning, this was my THIRD time doing this race, and it will stay on my calendar for at least the next three years (the bling for 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 fits together to make a giant STAR). If you want to come join me, registration is already open for 2018 (and if you register today it's only $80).

Will I see you there next year?

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Workout Recap - Week 8

Sunday, February 19th – Rest Day

Monday, February 20th – 4 mile progression run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Tuesday, February 21st –  Strength Training (abs, back, legs and arms), 3 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Wednesday, February 22nd – 75 minutes on the stationary bike

Thursday, February 23rd – 3 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Friday, February 24th –  Rest Day, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Saturday, February 25th – Mesa-PHX Marathon, Stretched & Foam Rolled

36.2 miles of running this week. I have a doctor's appointment on Tuesday (seeing as my back is still screwed up from December and my chiropractor mentioned she thinks it could be a compression fracture and suggested x-rays), so hopefully I can get my body back to 100%... Thankfully it doesn't hurt any extra while running, so might as well do something I enjoy if it's gonna hurt anyway, right?!

How were your workouts this past week?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Goals for the Mesa-PHX Marathon

Had you asked me what my goals were for the Mesa-PHX Marathon in October I would have had a very concrete answer, a very specific time goal. I would have said to best my marathon time by at least 50 seconds, to run a sub-3:30.

"Why 50 seconds?", you ask.

Well, in October I ran my first (and only) Boston Qualifying marathon time. [To qualify for the Boston Marathon, you must run a specific time requirement based on your age and gender. As a 32 year old female {which I was at the time of the St. George Marathon}, I needed to run a 3:35 marathon or faster.]

Finisher selfie from the St. George Marathon

But just because you run a qualifying time does not automatically guarantee you the ability to run the Boston Marathon - it simply gives you access to the application for registration. When registration opens, people who run a marathon time over 20 minutes faster than their required time get to register first. The following week, people you who run a marathon time over 10 minutes faster than their required time get to register next. The week after that, people you who run a marathon time over 5 minutes faster than their required time then get to register. Finally, open registration will allow anyone who ran a qualifying time to submit their time for approval.

The issue is, once the race hits its max registration it closes. That means some people who run Boston qualifying times may not be able to register or run the race since they allow the fastest runners to register first. For example, for the 2017 race, in order to be accepted, runners needed to run at least 2:09 faster than their age group's qualifying time. In 2016 the cut-off was even harder, requiring entrants to run 2:28 faster than their age group qualifying times.
Well, in October, when I ran the St. George Marathon and claimed a Boston Qualifying time as my own, I ran it in 3:30:50... Four minutes and ten seconds faster than my qualifying time. Although in past years this would have allow me a spot, I would feel much better knowing that I was getting my name in the week prior to open registration - hence the sub-3:30 goal (getting me a time over 5 minutes faster than that required). 

With that said, my body has pretty much shot that goal down every chance it got... Since October I've dealt with an angry knee (which stemmed from my hip), a bad belly, and a bum back. I'd say from October to December my running/ training was minimal at best. Although during January and February I was able to get in the mileage listed on my calendar, the speed work has NOT been there (I'm just grateful to be able to run and not want to cry every step I take). 

So, when I toe the line on Saturday for the Mesa-PHX Marathon, I plan on taking whatever the day gives me. I doubt it will be a stellar performance (especially since I have to keep in mind the fact that I'll be running the Los Angeles Marathon in three weeks, and then an Ultra relay two weeks after that), but I plan to give it my best shot.

Maybe I'll run with friends, maybe I'll try and chase down a sub-4, maybe I'll get a PR in high-fives given out... whatever the case, I plan to arrive at the starting line with a smile on my face and hopefully cross the finish line with it still there.

I can't believe Saturday will be my TENTH full marathon... Even without a concrete time goal in mind, 26.2 miles is a BEAST and it deserves respect. Although I've readjusted my goals, I'll forever be grateful each and every time I have the opportunity and ability to lace up my shoes and run - no matter what the clock says when I cross the finish line.

Have you ever had to reassess your goals?

Monday, February 20, 2017

#WeRunSocial Mesa-PHX Marathon Meet-Up

This weekend will be my THIRD time heading to Arizona to run the Mesa-PHX Marathon (although, in the past the race was simply called the Phoenix Marathon - Recap: 2015 & 2016).

Apparently I have a signature pose... Finisher picture from 2015 on the left and 2016 on the right

The 2015 Phoenix Marathon is actually where Pavement Runner's brain-child, #WeRunSocial, was born. I was lucky to be involved from the get-go, so when Brian asked me if I wanted to help host the meet-up for this year's race you know I had to say HECK TO THE YES!

Some of the crew after the 2015 race

I will be tagging along with two of the heavy-weights in the running community - Pavement Runner and RunEMZ (I don't know why they would want little ol' me to help out, but I am all about it) and we want YOU to join us!

The hosts for this year's meet-up

If you will be in the Phoenix area on this Friday afternoon you should totally come hang out (even if you aren't running in any of the races). We will be meeting at the PRO Compression booth at the the Mesa-PHX Marathon Expo (which is open to ALL) starting around 4pm. Stop by, say "HI", selfie it up and meet some AWESOME runners (who also happen to be overall AMAZING human beings).

I have a box of goodies to bring for giveaways, so just in case seeing our bright and smiling faces isn't incentive enough, you could win some goodies so should definitely put this event on your calendar!

Who will I see this weekend?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Workout Recap - Week 7

Sunday, February 12th – 3 mile run with the hubby

Monday, February 13th – Strength Training (abs, back, legs and arms), 4 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Tuesday, February 14th –  5 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Wednesday, February 15th – 4 mile run (1 on my own followed by 3 with the hubby), Stretched & Foam Rolled

Thursday, February 16th – 8 progressive mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Friday, February 17th –  Rest Day

Saturday, February 18th – Rest Day

Instead of Christmas gifts, a group of my girlfriends and I do a trip. I think it was planned PERFECTLY because it was during taper - which meant it gave me something to focus on rather than the fact that I wasn't running, along with the fact that I didn't mind the extra couple rest days (and lighter suitcase because I wasn't packing running gear). I was still sure to get in all of my runs pre-trip and decided that any of our exploring would count as my 'cross-training' workouts.

How were your workouts this past week?