Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January Books

POP QUIZ: Do you remember my Goals for 2017? Well, one of them was to read at least 17 books for the year. I thought it might be fun to do a quick recap (per month) of the books I read, in case any of you are interested.

January Books

  • Running Beyond Empty by Ben Kruser - I found this to be a very quick read. It was an entertaining novel about a mother and daughter who used running and the help of those around them to get through life's difficulties. It was a fun story and one that kept me wanting to read on. I would give this one a 7 out of 10.

Started this one on the flight back from Michigan (but finished it in January, so
I'm claiming it for this month ;))

  • To Understand Each Other by Paul Tournier - The hubby and I received this is a gift. Although it is short, it took me a little longer to read it because I found myself having an internal argument often about the points it was making. There were a few good nuggets about marriage but it was a little to "old school" thinking for me ('men work, women stay home in the kitchen' sort of thing). I would give this one a 4 out of 10.

  • You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero - I was really looking forward to this one but it came off more of a "if you believe it, it will happen" sort of vibe which is not a mentality that I subscribe to. I was pretty disappointed, but maybe it is because I had such high expectations of finishing the book and letting my inner badass run free. I would give this one a 5 out of 10. 

  • What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami - There was nothing crazy insightful about this one, but it was a quick read about the author's life during a year of training for the NYC Marathon. It is always interesting to me to see how others fit training into their life, especially when they are working full time jobs. This one definitely kept my attention the entire time. I would give this one a 7 out of 10.

  • The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin - I was super excited that our library had this one (it was actually the first one I checked out). There were quite a few gems that I will put into practice daily, specifically from the "energy", "marriage" and "family/relationship" chapters. This book actually spurred me on to do a HUGE decluttering of our place over the past week and a half. It is crazy the weight that we didn't know existed that has been lifted off our shoulders (both the hubby and I agree that it feels so much better). For a Type-A, list maker, this book was right up my alley! I would give this one a 8 out of 10.

  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs - This was a fun story! Originally I thought it might be too scary for me (#RealTalk: I have to change the channel or look away if there is a scary preview on the TV), but am happy to report it wasn't. Sometimes books that are aimed at kids/ teens I like the best because they aren't bogged down with big words or philosophical debates or a ton of sex. The story was quite the page turner and I was stoked when the next book in the series was available from the library. I would give this one a 8 out of 10.

  • When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi - Wow. When I decided I wanted to start getting books from the library I asked some friends for suggestions. Someone recommended I add this to my list. I didn't know what it was about when I first added it! The book is by a neurosurgeon who is diagnosed with lung cancer and becomes a patient himself, having to tackle death on his own teams. Unfortunately he passed away before he completely finished the book, but they kept it as-is and I think it is even more powerful that way. I particularly appreciated the few pages at the end that his wife wrote. I would give this one a 7 out of 10.

  • Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs - This was the second book in the series (out of three). Just like the first, it kept me wanting to read more and follow the children on their adventure. Can I just say how much I LOVE the photos throughout the book? I didn't mention it in the brief synopsis of the first book, but the same holds true for that one as well. The pictures are original, vintage shots and I love how they played into the author's creativity and found their way into the story. I would give this one a 8 out of 10.

  • The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen - This is a story about a teen who lost her leg in an accident, thought she lost the ability to run but found so much more along her journey. Although it's a fictional story, I love how the writer was inspired by runners she had encountered in her life when putting the book together. Also, I was stoked to read about exercisetherighttoread.org, a program that the author and her husband started to promote reading and fitness in schools across the country. I would give this one a 9 out of 10. 

  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed - Cheryl had a lot going on in her personal life (the death of her mother, the divorce from her husband, a drug habit that seemed to be taking hold of her life, etc) so she decided to hike the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT) in hopes of finding herself along the way. I was a little worried that the book would romanticize the hiking and trip, but I was glad to see that she kept it real - talking about the toenails she lost (6), the days of dehydration and solitude, the act of having to dig a hole to poop in, etc. This book is now a movie and I have heard a lot of great things about it, but haven't seen it (although, now maybe I should). I would give this one a 7 out of 10.

I guess you can see why I get through more books than the hubby...
He is sleeping on the job ;)

  • The Confidence Code by Katty Kay & Claire Shipman - I've mentioned it a few times, but I definitely lack confidence and have less than stellar self esteem. I was really excited about this book, hoping that I would walk away with some secret equation on how to build myself up. Unfortunately, it was a little more scientific (discussing the research that is being done on genes, etc) and less of a perfect equation than I was hoping for. I felt a little relief while reading the book in that it seems the issue is often more of a female problem than just a Carlee problem, but it still doesn't change the facts. The main points that I walked away with were that taking action and failing are necessary to build confidence. I would give this one a 5 out of 10.

Yup, pretty crazy... It's only the first month and I've already gotten through eleven books! If I keep this rate up, I could be over 100 for the year (shoot, maybe my goal should have been 117 in 2017 - HA)! I have been LOVING the library (especially when I realized that for the most part I will read a book once and then never really look at it again). If you have one nearby, you should definitely utilize it! PS If you have any suggestions on books, I'd love to hear them!

What was the last book you read?

Monday, January 30, 2017

lulu love

I know there are many lulu addicts out there, many of which I am friends with (don't worry, I won't call you out by name ;)), but I have to confess, I have never been one of them.


Although the quality of the gear that lululemon sells is AMAZEBALLS, the cost has always stopped me from making the splurge. I am very frugal so end up spending $10 on clearanced shorts from TJ Maxx rather than dropping $60+ on a pair from lulu. With that said, if I ever won the lottery, I would totally upgrade my running gear to all lulu all the time!

Anywho, I wanted to share how my love for lululemon that has VERY LITTLE to do with the clothes.


Yup, you read that correctly, I want to tell you why I love a company that I have never bought products from and it has nothing to do with the products themselves, but hopefully by the end of the post this will make sense.

It all started last year after the SeaWheeze Half Marathon (in case you are unaware, this is a race sponsored by lulu up in British Columbia). I was sharing my recap about the race on social media and mentioned that it was my 30th half marathon. Well, lulu saw that and said that they wanted to send me something as a way to celebrate/ commemorate the achievement. I thought it was a sweet gesture and figured may I would get a sticker from the race or something. They asked me for my shipping address and once I sent it over I sort of forgot about it.

A few days later I received an email from a local spa. You see, lulu had contacted a spa up the road and purchased a gift certificate for me as a way to celebrate and relax after running my 30th half marathon. Um... HOW FREAKING AWESOME IS THAT?! Not only is it a gift that took thought, but it is also helping to support a local business!


The next reason for the love was not something that I experienced first hand but definitely saw it unfolding on social media and wanted to applaud lulu for the way it was handled. What I'm talking about now is when registration for the 2017 SeaWheeze opened. You see, this is a very sought after race (it literally sells out within MINUTES). Shortly after registration opened I saw friends mentioning how they were unable to get their payment to process and were missing out on being able to register for the race. Apparently there was a hiccup in the registration process and some folks who should have been able to get in were unable to register before the race sold out.


Obviously there were a lot of bummed runners out there, but lulu made it right. They contacted the runners who received the errors and let them register EVEN AFTER IT SOLD OUT! I think everyone would have expected that they might give them the ability to register for the 2018 race or maybe would try and soften the blow with a discount on product, but they decided to right the wrong (and did it in a very fast manner). Well done, lulu, well done! [PS If you want to read about Pavement Runner's experience with this, check out his post HERE.]


And lastly, let's talk about the recent lululemon + strava challenge. I am on a group text with some major lulu lovers. They mentioned that lulu was teaming up with Strava to create a challenge where you could run either 40km or 80km (remember, lulu is a Canadian company, hence the metric system) and possibly receive rewards. No one knew if the rewards would simply be the Strava badges or something else, but I decided to sign up anyway.

This challenge just happened to coincide with a peak time in my marathon training so I was able to tackle the 80km (which equates to 50 miles) within the two weeks without a problem (as you can see from my finishing info above I ended up with 140km). Once the challenge concluded, the participants were told that they were getting FREE GEAR! Yup, if you hit the 40km mark you would be able to pick up a tee (Metal Vent Tech Short Sleeve for the guys and Swiftly Tech Short Sleeve for the girls) and if you hit the 80km mark you would be able to pick up a pair of shorts (Surge Shorts for the guys and Speed Shorts for the girls).

Can you believe that this new outfit is my first lulu gear I own?! HECK TO THE YES! I will be completely honest, even with all of this love, I don't know that I will be quick to switch all of my running gear over to lulu, but when I've got the extra cash, you better believe I will treat myself and show lululemon the love that they have already been showing me!

I wore the shorts for a 5 mile progression run and the tee on my last long run.

Do you love a brand for more than the products or services that they provide?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Workout Recap - Week 4

Sunday, January 22nd – Inaugural Pasadena Half Marathon, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Monday, January 23rd – 90 minutes on the stationary bike

Tuesday, January 24th –  5 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Wednesday, January 25th – Strength Training (abs, back, legs and arms), 5 mile progressive run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Thursday, January 26th – 8 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Friday, January 27th –  12 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

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

43.1 miles of running plus a strength training session and some bike trainer?! AWESOMESAUCE! Even with a shorter long run I am stoked that I was able to get in as much distance as I was. Less than a month to go till my next full marathon (and then 3 weeks after that till the next). LET'S DO THIS THANG!

How were your workouts this past week?

Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday Favorites

It's that time again... WHO'S PUMPED?! Another week, another list of things I am loving lately!

Chewy Lemonheads (Tropical Flavored)

I went to the Dollar Store the other day to pick up some mailing supplies and stopped in the candy aisle. I grabbed a couple boxes of Reese's Pieces for the hubby and then saw these Chewy Lemonheads. Chocolate isn't my jam, but fruity candies are a different story! [In case you were wondering, I think my favorite candy are the Sour Watermelon Slices that you can buy at Target in the dollar section.] I wasn't expecting much, but these little buggers were tasty. They sort of remind me of a round jelly bean, but not the 'old school gross' ones, more like the really yummy Starburst ones. Anywho, if you ever see them, I'd totally suggest grabbing a box to try.

I went back to the dollar store I had originally purchased them at so I could grab another
box and snap a picture and they were ALL GONE! I guess "you snooze, you lose"!

The Pizza Press

I found this restaurant a few years ago while at Disneyland for a race weekend. Ever since that weekend, every time I've been in Anaheim for a runDisney race, I make this a go-to stop (normally the night before the larger race as a way to "carb-load"). Well, low and behold, THEY OPENED ONE DOWN THE STREET FROM US! I don't remember what we were doing by the mall a couple weeks back (since we are not the mall-type), but when we saw it we were STOKED! We actually ate there for the first time this past weekend after we saw Patriots Day. Just as delicious as the one in Anaheim and 45 minutes closer - SCORE!

In case you were wondering about my pizza - Extra Virgin Olive Oil as 'sauce',
mozzarella cheese, roasted corn, red onions and mushrooms as toppings, then basil,
ranch and pesto once it comes out of the oven - YUM!


I had to upgrade my phone a couple weeks ago because it was possessed - like literally! Anywho, AT&T offered me a few bucks for the trade-in and I figured I could probably sell it for more once we wiped everything and reset it to the factory settings. I put a shout out on social media to see if anyone had sold their phones before and got a resounding "Use Gazelle.com" back from the people. Well, when the people speak, you listen - so I worked with Gazelle.com and sold them my iPhone 5S. Not only was the process super simple (you fill out a form, they send you a box, you ship the phone to them and then they pay you), but because we opted for an Amazon gift card rather than being sent a check, we received an extra 5%. In case you are looking for a fast and easy way to sell your phone (go check your junk drawers and see if you have any laying around that you could turn in for cash), I'd definitely check Gazelle out.


AMEX Kindness Calendar

Hopefully by now you know I love to #DoGood and #SpreadKindness. Well, one of my dear friends Linzie also knows this about me and tagged me in something on Facebook that I wanted to share. It's a DIY Kindness Calendar and I thought it was such a great idea! Now obviously AMEX would love for you to do acts of kindness that cost money and use your AMEX to pay for them, but these acts can definitely be free! This reminds me of my #Carlees31 Project I did last year! I might have to head over to the thrift store this weekend to pick up a frame...


What are you loving lately?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Pasadena Half Marathon Race Recap

On Sunday morning I ran the Pasadena Half Marathon.

Aren't free race pictures THE BEST?! Literally, I think it's one of my favorite race
perks that can be offered! Even if they aren't my fave pictures I so appreciate having
a couple shots from the run (especially if the hubby isn't there to spectate). 

As a Conqur Endurance Group Ambassador (the parent company who put on the race), I was given a free entry to the race, but you know I've always gotta #KeepItReal.

With that said, I did pay the $20 upgrade fee for race day bib pick-up (I figured it was cheaper than any hotel I'd find {and would want to stay at} or amount of gas I'd have to spend driving to and from Pasadena on Friday or Saturday to attend the Expo and then again on Sunday for the race).


I appreciate races that offer race day pick-up (even if there's an additional fee), especially since the majority of my races are not right down the street and having to drive to an Expo AND to the race or having to make accommodations to stay the night before can be a hassle (and an extra expense). I realize that it can be a logistical headache (the runners are not attending the Expo and potentially not spending money at your vendors, as well as all of the bibs, participant shirts, etc need to be at the race the morning of along with extra staff to man the area), but am a much appreciative runner!

Since the weather man was calling for cold and windy rain, I made sure to pack
my layers (even if I didn't end up using them all). This #FlatCarlee was all about
trying to stay warm and dry! Lavender PROs, black Handful bra, midnight
Sparkle Athletic skirt
, gray tank, Sparkle Athletic black visor, long sleeve
tech tee, rain jacket, black and lavendar QALO silicone wedding bands,
gray and black Momentum Jewelry wraps, purple RoadID, my Garmin
Forerunner 735XT
, some cheap sleeves (that matched the color scheme of course),
and my Brooks Ghost 9 with lighting bolt Shwings.

Anywho, seeing as I had to grab everything on race morning I knew it would be an EARLY one. Not only is Pasadena about 85 miles from our house, but we were in the middle of major storms. (In case you don't know, Southern Californians don't know how to drive in the rain... Legit, it can be sprinkling out and you will see cars flipped upside down in the middle of the freeway... Unless it's sunny and 70* they lose all ability to operate vehicles.) I knew I needed to leave myself plenty of time in case the crazies were already on the roads so I decided to leave our place by 3:45am.

Can you believe it?! I actually slept until my first alarm went off!

Thankfully the roads were clear and the rain wasn't too torrential on the drive up. I ended up getting to the Rose Bowl parking lot around 5:20am, waited in the car till about 5:30am and then made my way over to bib pick-up. The staff made it easy-peasy, even though the timing company had screwed up royally and had put the incorrect information (name, age, gender, city of origin, shirt size, etc) on EVERY SINGLE bib.

Once my Christine's bib was in hand, I went back to the car to try and stay as dry as possible. It was only sprinkling/ drizzling at that point, but with the look on the radar I knew it was only a matter of time until the sky opened up on us.

Around 6:10am I made my way out of my cozy car and over to the restroom (there were a couple "real" bathrooms in the parking lot {and by real I mean they flush} so I hit one up, although it appeared as though they had ample port-o-potties near the starting line). I was meeting the Conqur Endurance Group Ambassadors at the starting line around 6:15am for a picture and to see if we could be of any assistance for the set-up crew. Since the team had everything dialed, some of the ambassadors (the ones not stuck in traffic) snapped a quick picture in our reflective rainy gear.

The races (there was a 5K and half marathon option) were set to kick off at 7am. Unfortunately, due to traffic issues, the start was delayed by about 25 minutes. Normally this wouldn't have been a big issue (sure, folks would have been whiny no matter what), but due to the cold and rain that we were standing in the runners seemed to have less patience with the issue. You would hear chants of "Start the race" or "Let's Go!" break out in the corrals.

I was towards the front of the pack and could see the constant stream of cars trying to make their way into the parking lot so I knew we wouldn't be under way until everyone was parked and the roads were deemed safe. [They are already working on this issue for next year so that they won't run into the same hold-ups. As with all inaugural races, there are a few bumps along the way but I know this crew will work to improve drastically for future races.]

If you look at the street in front of the starting line you can see all of the headlights...
This picture was taken around 7:15am...

I hadn't looked at the course map or elevation chart prior to the race (I know, I know, major FAIL on my part). I saw a brief snip-bit that said something along the lines of "it's a very challenging but rewarding course" and assumed that meant it would be a hilly one. Well, let's just say it did not disappoint. I felt like the majority of the course was either uphill or downhill. Not crazy elevation changes, but just constant rollers for sure. With the ground slick due to the continually falling rain, it seemed like everyone was taking it cautiously as to not slip and slide.

The elevation chart from my Garmin

Pasadena is not my stomping ground (in fact, the hubby and I tend to stay as far away from Los Angeles County as possible), so I wasn't sure what to expect with the course. I heard some folks mention that the course was similar or went along some of the same streets as other races they'd run, but it was all new to me. Some of it was industrial, some of it business, some of it residential, and even some of it was parking lot running. I wouldn't say that it was the prettiest course that I've ever run (but the cold, rainy day may be clouding my judgment a bit) or that it was full of spectators (not sure if the weather kept them away or the location), but I had a great time. [The fact that I don't know the Pasadena area may be why nothing really 'stood out' to me on the course, since I didn't know what I was looking at.]


We are spoiled living in the Southern California weather. It is sunny and 70* for about 350 days out of the year (but we do pay a HIGH sunshine tax for the weather... one that I will happily fork over). Running in the rain is not something that the majority of us are used to, but I kept telling myself that it could've been a lot worse (for example, Monday we had torrential downpours with HAIL). I had a smile on my face the entire time while I splashed and dashed through puddles, cheered on fellow runners and thanked the amazing volunteers who were like angels out on the course.

One of the awesome parts of this race was that it finishes on the fifty yard line of the Rose Bowl. Although I'd much prefer running at The Big House, [but that brings with it running in the snow and Michigan weather] the Rose Bowl wasn't too shabby ;) #ItsGreatToBeAMichiganWolverine

I wish the weather would have cooperated a little bit more because it would have been awesome to have the stands full of spectators when you turned the corner and ran onto the field, but the stadium itself was still pretty cool. By the time I finished (actually, by the time we started) I felt like a drowned rat and didn't want to hang out too long since I knew I had a long car ride back to Oceanside, but I did grab a quick picture at midfield before grabbing all of my goodies.

On the way back to my car I was able to stop by the tent where I picked up my bib earlier that morning and grabbed my participant tee (I was glad they had them afterwards so I didn't have to do gear check or run back to my car if I was running late). With the mix-up on the bibs, the tees were more of a honor based system (normally you can't swap shirt sizes from what you selected when you registered because they might run out of a size, but since your bib no longer had 'your' size I was glad to see that they still had my size when I got to the tent), but it worked out.

Another shirt for an upcoming Project Repat quilt...

Officially my time was 1:52:14, which averaged 8:34/mile (although I showed that the course was long {my Garmin seemed to have picked up an extra .2 of a mile between mile 6 and 7} so with my 13.3 miles the time averaged to 8:27/mile). I wasn't pushing too crazy hard (although due to the cold and rain my heart rate was a lot higher than I would have liked) and was using this as another long run in my training to get me to the Phoenix Marathon (and then to the Los Angeles Marathon a couple weeks after that).


The medal that we received is PURRRRRTY! She goes with the same color scheme as the Santa Monica Classic and what we can only imagine the Los Angeles Marathon bling will be (since the three races are part of the Conqur LA Challenge). It is similar to last year's Los Angeles Marathon medal in that it is two sided and heavy duty.

Although the weather is out of a race director's control and the parking/traffic/race start should be fixed by next year, I think this may have been a one-and-done race for me. Don't get me wrong, there was nothing terrible about it, but at the same time, to have to spend 3-5 hours in the car (depending on the day and how traffic unfolds) a race needs to be fan-freakin'-tastic, and I don't know that this one had 'that'. If Pasadena was closer or if I was a huge UCLA fan or if I was adamant about running the challenge, then I would definitely be all about this race, but since none of those are facts in my life, I appreciate the race for what it was and will continue looking for new races to run.

How far do you normally drive for a race?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

GIVEAWAY: This Crazy Life Designs Running Decal

What better way to start your Wednesday than with a GIVEAWAY?! A friend of mine has an Etsy store and asked me if I wouldn't mind helping her promote it. She has a ton of different items, including custom medal holders, decals, wood signs, wine glasses, etc. I am always in for helping out a friend (because, let's be real, we are all in this life together so we need to spread the love around!), not to mention personalized gifts are my jam!

Today's giveaway is for a FREE running decal! You can put it on your car, on a water bottle, on your bathroom mirror, wherever you'd like! TWO WINNERS will be selected, each receiving a running decal of their choice.

Below are some of my favorite decals (but she has over 35 different designs, so there is something for everyone). I love that you can customize them! If you're like me, you're a list maker and LOVE crossing things off said list. Well, some of these decals allow you to do just that! You pick the heart color and specify race distances. You can even customize the bottom line of copy with a favorite motto, blog name, your name, scripture, or more!

Entering is easy, just use the Rafflecopter widget below and put your name in the hypothetical hat. And just in case you aren't one of the lucky winners, I've got some good news... Nanci is offering up 15% off any purchase over $5 with the code "CARLEE2017" - so EVERYONE WINS! PS The running decals always ship free, so stock up today!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
This giveaway runs through Tuesday, January 31st at 11:59pm PST. The winners will be contacted via the email address associated with their Rafflecopter account and have 24 hours to claim their prize. All entries are verified, so be sure to complete them or a new, random winner will be selected (I don't want you missing out due to a technicality).

Good luck to everyone who enters and remember to enter early & often as some of the options are available daily!