Monthly Archives: December 2012

Reviewing Resolutions

Happy New Year’s Eve! I’m spending the pseudo-holiday down in Tennessee with my dad, step-mom, step-brothers (and their girlfriends) and Dustin. We’re having a few people over to ring in the New Year, but I don’t think anyone’s going to get too crazy, which is fine by me. I’ve spent the last few days of vacation relaxing and just going with the flow – a very nice change of pace for the crazy let’s-plan-everything-out-right-now person that I usually am.

fire

Anyway, it’s time for the traditional “look back at 2012’s goals and see how little you accomplished this year!” post. In case you’re curious, here’s what I originally boasted about gunning for in the last 12 months. Now let’s find out which I actually crossed off the list and what I totally ditched.

Fitness

1.) Finish a marathon: DELAYED.

It was the biggest thing on my goals list this year and I excitedly hired a running coach and trained my little heart out for the Country Music Marathon. Unfortunately, tendinitis in my left knee struck me down hard. After a lot of painful physical therapy and pushing my limits, Abby and I decided it was best for my body – and mind – if I dropped down to the half. Once I mentally gave myself permission to do so, I immediately knew it was the right thing. I’m not sure if a 2013 marathon is in the cards for me, but I definitely have it on a future goals list.

2.) Do yoga twice a week: PUH-LEASE.

I’m pretty sure I ditched this goal by mid-February. I suck at regularly rolling out the mat and need to get better at it in 2013. Move this one over to the new year.

3.) Be able to do 20 real push-ups in a row: FAIL.

OK, I’m starting to feel really bad about myself right now with these goals. Whose idea was it to set these ridiculous things? Anyway, I just tried to do the push-ups and managed to bust out 12 before collapsing. The highest I got throughout the year was 15 in a row, back when I was going through an arm makeover workout for FITNESS and regularly working with a trainer. I’m going to get back into that routine in 2013! I swear ūüėČ

pushup

4.) Run a sub-2 half-marathon: Almost there!

I’m at 2:06.41 and couldn’t be happier with that. This year of running gave me the confidence I desperately needed, and I learned to stop judging myself against other people’s accomplishments. Just because others were ready for the sub-2 doesn’t mean I was. I’m stoked to cross the finish line with a 1:59:XX attached to my name this spring!

5.) Run a race for charity: YES! CROSS IT OFF THE LIST!

I officially ran the Race for Recovery 5K for charity. I also donated to multiple people who raised money and raced for charitable causes, participated in fun fitness events for charity, and walked a marathon while raising money to fight cancer.

race bib

Life

1.) Grow at my job: CHECK!

At the beginning of the year, I said, “If I’m as happy with my career one year from now as I am right now, I will be one lucky girl.” It hasn’t been a full year quite yet, but it’s safe to say that I am one of the luckiest girls around. I have¬†loved working with everyone at FITNESS for the last year and could not be more grateful for my job. I learned so much, improved my writing and editing skills and did a lot of great things. And just in time to ring in the new year, I wrote my first opener article! Check it out in the January 2013 issue and learn all about the tastiest (and healthiest!) yogurts in stores now.

issue

2.) Volunteer at Hope Lodge: DONE – X3!

I became a member of the committee that is bringing Relay for Life to Manhattan for the very first time in NYC. We meet once a month to go over details for the event, and then we try to get together at least once a month to host a dinner for those staying at the Hope Lodge. I’m so happy I accomplished this goal and can’t wait for the next host night!

3.) Go on a cruise – YEAH BUDDY!

After living together for one year, Dustin and I decided to celebrate and go on our first paid vacation together in the Bahamas! We had so much fun and couldn’t have asked for a better first cruise experience. We’re planning a huge cruise trip in 2014, but maybe a small one will be awaiting us in 2013, too!

cruise

4.) Pay off X amount of my student loans: HALF-CHECK

I didn’t fully reach the number I originally set for the end of the year, but I’m still really happy with my progress and the amount in my savings account. 2012 ended up being a busy year of travel, too, which depleted my funds more than I originally anticipated. But I’m completely OK with it and don’t regret anything that happened during this last year. I’m determined to take a huge chunk out of the remaining number in 2013, though!

5.) Get my personal training certification: FAIL

This is completely my fault. I bought all of the books but didn’t open them once. I let myself get wrapped up in running, working, traveling and well, living life. This quickly fell to the bottom of my priority list once my work schedule picked up. I realized that something would have to give in my schedule, and this was it. I’m not upset about it, but I would like to start studying and schedule the test before the end of this next year.

6.) Read at least one book a month: YES SIR!

I’m¬†so happy I stuck with this goal. I read so many great books this year and keeping this goal in mind helped me stay on track. Whenever I realized it was nearing the end of the month, if I hadn’t read anything, I would immediately go to my to-read list and grab something I kept “meaning to open.” This goal really helped me relax and kept me mentally sane. I think I’ll be upping the ante to two books per month moving forward.

books

And there ya have it! Now tell me: how did you do on your 2012 goals? Clearly, my fitness ones didn’t fare so well, but I’d say I had a great year overall. I’ll be back soon with my goals for 2013!¬†

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Running Through 2012

So many bloggers that I follow regularly have posted this fun Q&A, originally started by Miss Zippy, and I loved reading every single one! I’ve heard you’re supposed to write about things you’d like to read, so I took it as a sign to write one of my own. So let’s take a look back at this whirlwind of a year, shall we?

Best race experience: Country Music Half-Marathon in Nashville

run 7

It’s shocking that this is my answer, I know. Even though this was my worst race of the year time-wise (and my second slowest half to date), I learned so much from this experience. I finally realized what it felt like to give everything my body possibly could and leave it all out on the course. I went through a whirlwind of emotions while training for this race, which Abby graciously put up with, and learned just how much I love this sport.

Best run:¬†Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half-Marathon in Washington, D.C.

This was the first time Dustin ever saw me race, so it holds a special place in my heart. I also really enjoyed the course, my body felt great and it was the first time I ever felt confident enough to think that going after a sub-2:00 half-marathon time could be possible for me.

Best new piece of gear:¬†My Lululemon Run: Speed shorts! I’m obsessed. The fit is perfect, they don’t ride up, the wide waistband makes them flattering, there are a ton of pockets and the patterns are to die for. They’re my official good luck race shorts.

Best piece of running advice you received: “Stop comparing yourself to others and just run the best you can.” Paraphrasing from my fabulous running coach, Abby. I really started beating myself up during spring training this year, when I was originally training to complete the full marathon distance in Nashville. She talked me off a ledge many times, but really helped get it through my head that I’m only hurting myself if I keep measuring myself against other runners. Everyone has a different background and I should never be ashamed of my own capabilities.

abby

Most inspirational runners: I’d have to say Abby, Jocelyn, Laura and Theodora. They’ve all dealt with a lot this last year and are overall rock stars. I love going to their blogs on a regular basis whenever I’m in need of a good kick in the pants.

Most exciting (running) moment of 2012:¬†Traveling to more states! I’m slowly working toward my goal of running a half-marathon in every state before I’m 30, and this year I was lucky enough to have Dustin cheering me on in Washington, D.C., Nashville and Disney World. I’m stepping up my game for 2013 and aiming for six states in the new year. Fingers crossed I can make it all happen!

Your turn! Answer any, or all, of the questions and fill me in on your exciting running discoveries of the last year. 

Christmas Survey

Merry Christmas Eve Eve! I’m home at my mom and step dad’s for the holidays, the snow is falling steadily and my mom and I have epic plans for baking this afternoon. I could not be happier right now.

christmas

Since I likely won’t be blogging tomorrow or on Christmas, I thought it’d be fun to do the Christmas Survey I saw over on Carrie’s page. Away we go!

Favorite Christmas album/CD: 

It honestly depends on my mood. It’s a tie between Glee Christmas (the first album), Michael Buble’s Christmas and anything by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Also, if you haven’t been to one of Trans’ shows, I¬†highly recommend it. The pyrotechnics alone make it well worth it.

Run on Christmas morning or take the day off? 

I won’t run in the morning,since we always open our gifts and eat breakfast together first thing. I’m not opposed to taking a jaunt in the afternoon, though.

What do you usually eat on Christmas morning? 

Breakfast casserole made by my mom (also known as company eggs casserole, I guess). This could also be described as “heart attack in a pan.” So good, but we only have it once a year. #noregrets

Favorite holiday or Christmas tradition?

Every Christmas Eve, my family attends evening church service; then we come home and all watch Annabelle’s Wish together. That adorable cow makes me cry every single year.

Annabelles_Wish-vhscover

Real tree, fake tree, or no tree? 

Real tree all the way. I think my mom tried to get a fake tree one year when we were really young, and it just wasn’t the same. I need the smell that a real tree brings.

Christmas pajamas Рyay or nay? 

We never had them, but I’m certainly not opposed to the idea! We do always stay in our pajamas for the majority of the day, though.

Where do you spend the holidays? 

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is spent with my mom and step-dad. Then I usually meet up with Dustin’s family the day after Christmas because his birthday is on the 27th. This year, we fly to Tennessee on the 28th to spend New Year’s with my dad and step-mom, too. We were lucky to get enough time off to see everyone this time around!

Food that you always have during the holidays? Favorite Christmas food/treat? 

I always make peanut butter kiss cookies (some of you call these peanut butter blossoms, which I don’t understand), my mom always make snowman balls, and my little brother always makes sugar cookies in the shape of Winnie the Pooh characters. We like cookies in our house.

gingerbread house

This is not any of those. But my cousins made it, so I think it’s relevant.

Open presents all at once or take turns?

Well, we’re all opening them at the same time, but my mom hands them out (with her Santa hat on), staggering the distribution so everyone gets to watch what the others are opening.

Favorite Christmas(ish) movie? 

Annabelle’s Wish. It’s tradition. And it’s the best movie ever made.

Your turn! Answer any of the questions above so I know all of your Christmas secrets! 

Christmas in the City

For some reason, I did not shy away from diving head first into the Christmas season this year. Although I still waited until after Thanksgiving to bust out the Christmas tunes and decorations, the start of December marked the beginning of my days being filled with bright lights, cinnamon-scented pine cones (best. thing. ever.) and¬†“Last Christmas” on repeat (yes, I know it’s a breakup song, but for some reason I’m obsessed).

Because pictures are sometimes better than words, here’s a glimpse of the complete immersion into the holidays that’s been going on in this neck of the woods. Er, city.

rockettes 2

rockettesCross it off the bucket list! Dustin got us tickets to see The Rockettes for my birthday ūüôā

dustin tree

ornamentsA house divided.

card pic

card pic 2Mini photo shoot day in Central Park

chris santa

chris santa 2Dustin’s mom sees Christmas in NYC for the first time – and drops off her letter to Santa!

dustin parents tree

christmas cardDustin and I are sending out our first Christmas card together ūüôā

Tell me all about your holiday celebrating! 

Favorite Fitness Finds & Holiday Wish List

‘Tis the season for gift giving and let’s be honest: workout gear is expensive. If you’re a big fan of sweat, or know someone else who is, then think about gifting any of these top picks during the holiday season. The recipient may just give you a big ole’ sweaty hug full of love (Family: if you give¬†me¬†any of these, that sweaty hug is guaranteed. Pinky promise).

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12 Sneakers

brooks

These are my sneakers of choice. I overpronate a bit, so these are a great stability shoe that keep my feet healthy and happy. Ever since I ran the Disney Wine & Dine, I’ve been in need of a new pair. The 10K I ran this past weekend (recap to come, I swear) only proved it even more. I’m holding out until the holidays are over, and if I don’t get a pair, will quickly be snatching up another (or maybe 2). I really like how the pink jazzes ’em up a bit.

NOTE: If you don’t know your runner’s shoe choice, I recommend getting them a gift card to a shoe store instead.

Lululemon Women’s Brisk Run Glove¬†

Baby, it’s cold outside. And some of us are crazy and like to run in the chilly weather. These pretty little things keep my digits warm and have that cool technology everyone wants these days – the ability to use your touchscreen device without taking the gloves off.

iPad Home

ipad home

OK, this is a wish list item of mine, but I think it would be awesome to help launch me back into my yoga practice. I simply can’t afford to regularly hit up a studio on top of gym fees and SoulCycle costs, so owning this would help pump up the volume on my iPad and really get me in that “om” mindset that tends to occur in a studio. Plus, it’d be cool to have when people come visit and we want to play music. Multi-purpose win.

Under Armour Must-Have Bag 

I’ve been drooling over this baby since¬†FITNESS featured it in last year’s holiday gift guide. Dustin, bless his heart, tried to get one for me for Christmas, but it sold out too quickly. They’ve re-stocked, so maybe the second time’s the charm?

Sparkly Soul Headbands

sparkly soul

Every runner has their go-to headband that they swear by, and Sparkly Soul does it for me. It never moves, despite my oddly-shaped noggin, and it’s cute. I like sparkle.

Erica Sara Designs Custom Jewelry

Because her stuff is awesome. It’s a wish list item for me personally, but I’ve seen enough of her jewelry in person to know it’s totally worth it and something people will comment on all the time. And Erica is an amazing person to work with.

Lululemon No Limits Tank

karla

I. Love. This. Top. It’s so comfy, cute and lightweight. There’s a wide array of colors (I have it in pink, above, and a baby blue) and it’s versatile. I go Spinning in it often, but know it’s also great for yoga practice or just lounging around. It’s nice and long, which is great for my torso, and the cinched bottom helps it stay put while I’m partying on a bike. No more worrying about shirts riding up and showing off my back and stomach in the middle of my ride.

iPod Shuffle 

I personally don’t like to run with anything big strapped to my arm, so this small version is perfect for my runs. I only have my running music on it, so it eliminates the need for a playlist. I have more than 6 hours of pumped-up tunes on here and there’s still plenty of room for more songs. The downside: I can’t scroll through if I’m craving a specific song at a certain moment, but for the small size and equally small price tag, it’s worth it. And if you don’t want to get your fitness fanatic an iPod (or they already have one), iTunes cards are always a great choice.

Believe I Am Journal

Believe Journal

I recently acquired one from winning a giveaway over at Sarah’s blog (woohoo, I finally won something!) and am already obsessed. I love all of the motivational tips, the organization (for the type-A obsessed) and the pretty designs. Great for those setting new goals in 2013.

Lululemon Run: Speed Shorts

I know I’m showing the Lulu love, but they have some great products. These shorts are no exception. No chafing, no riding up and a wide waistband to keep things flattering. There are also three small pockets, so there’s plenty of room for storage, and the designs are adorable. I’m lusting after the burning yellow and chevron patterns.

What fitness gear are you lusting after this season? Or giving to loved ones? 

Race for Recovery 5K Recap

Last Saturday, I laced up my sneaks and headed out for a 5K race. Where? WHEREVER I WANTED.

Sorry for the all caps, but that gave me a sense of power.

I’m done now.

Anyway, I was running the virtual Race for Recovery 5K put on by NYC Running Mama to help raise support for victims of Hurricane Sandy. For just $20, your name was entered into a drawing to win a boat load of super awesome prizes perfect for the running-obsessed. If you donated more than $20, your name went in more times. Obviously, more chances to win. Which means more chances at the grand prize: a fantasy day at the¬†Runner’s World headquarters (promise it’s not as risqu√© as it sounds).

race bib

Unfortunately, my bank account hates me and I was unable to spare more than $20. But I happily handed it over, not really caring whether or not I won a prize. After all, I don’t really ever win raffles, so I just wanted to help out while getting my run on and feeling part of the awesome community that we crazy people create.

As we all know by now, I am by no means a morning person, so waking up at normal race-time was not in the cards for me. After a crazy work week, I relished in the ability to sleep in and didn’t crawl out of bed until 9am. ‘Twas glorious.

dustin

This is not me. But doesn’t Dustin look comfy?

After dilly dallying for a few hours, I left my apartment around 1pm, unsure of where I wanted to run. I just knew I wanted to get down near Astoria Park so I could run by the water and take in the city skyline. The weather was perfect, my legs felt loose and my tunes were grooving. I maintained a strong pace, negative splitting the whole time. It helped that once I actually hit the park area and saw that skyline, my iPod seemed to know what was going on. Without any playlist prep, “Empire State of Mind” blasted through my headphones. Talk about a major kick of inspiration. My pace easily picked up a notch as I hit the halfway point and started making my way home.

All I could think about on this run was the mass of people taking part to help those who lost so much because of Sandy. And now that we have all heard the news of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, I’m even more grateful for that moment. So many people joined together and restored my faith in humanity. Strangers lent a helping hand and did whatever they could to help those in need, whether it was delivering supplies, running a race to raise money, or hanging power strips out the window so random people could charge their cell phones.

Despite all of the cruelty that hangs heavy in the air these days, there are still some seriously awesome people in the world. And I could not be more grateful. If you’re in need of inspiration, I suggest checking out this article. It’s good for the soul.

Anyway, the run went fairly quickly, and even though it was my first 5K race (which means an automatic PR), I¬†still¬†got an actual PR from all of the times I’ve run an unofficial 5K.

5k watch

That makes me happy. What makes me happier? Michele raised over $10,000 with the Race for Recovery. BOOM. Major kudos for her brilliant idea and mad organizational skills. I haven’t even met her in person yet (um, can we change that?) and I already know she’s a rock star.

So I didn’t win any of the goodies (big surprise), but Michele was kind enough to post our finish times in order. Turns out I came in 33rd out of 112. Not too shabby, if you ask me.

It’s safe to say that was a happy Saturday. I got a lot of Christmas shopping done that weekend too, which also gives me a lot of joy. And I threw some Spinning in the mix. Now that I think about it, that really was a fantastic weekend.

Now it’s your turn to tell me about the things that give you warm fuzzies. Did you run the Race for Recovery? Did you write about it? Tell me your story and send me your links. I like to read. Sometimes.¬†

Toughen Up

I have an on and off relationship with strength training. I wouldn’t call it love-hate because I actually really enjoy strength training, I just….forget to to do it. More often than I should.

Oops.

This is what usually happens in my brain:

What workout are you going to do today, Sam? You haven’t lifted in a while. You should lift. Maybe upper body work. Remember how you said you wanted to be able to do 20 real push-ups in a row? 2012 is almost over and you totally can’t do that. So stop sucking.

I begin my day with all of these great intentions – I’m going to strength train that day, no matter what.

Then my day gets busy and all I want to do is spin or run, especially when I don’t have time to do cardio¬†and¬†lift because of the 6464654892 things I attempt to tackle on my to-do list on a daily basis (that number, I admit, is a rough estimate).

So then I do my cardio and am happy. Until I remember how much I really need to lift, so I vow to make it happen the next day, and the  conversation above begins again.

In an attempt to break the vicious cycle, I’ve had a few things working in my favor:

  1. The company that employs me. Fortunately, my company really pushes health and wellness initiatives in the office, then rewards us with free things for participating. Um, done and done! Recently, there was an eight-week strength training initiative at work, when I had to lift Рtargeting different muscle groups each time Рat least three times a week. Nailed it! 
  2. Friends that like to lift, too. When you work where I do, it’s not uncommon to hear about one person killing it at a Tough Mudder one weekend, another dominating an IronMan the next, and yet another tackling a half-marathon. Sure, they’re all cardio-heavy activities, but there’s a decent amount of strength required to perform well in each. So when they’re all going to lift, I want to go lift, too. And then I see it happening on Twitter and I really want to do it.
  3. My Type-A personality. Lately, I’ve been whipping out my trusty calendar and penciling strength training in! BOOM! Better yet, I make an appointment (so formal, I know) to lift with friends, which means I’m not allowed to bitch out. DOUBLE BOOM.

So when I heard that Abby was hosting a strength training for runners clinic this week, you know that went into my calendar.

abby

A small group of us met up at Cynergy PT, where we went over a lot of basic strength exercises, which was a great reminder that keeping things quick and simple really does help. We don’t even need weights if they’re not around. In fact, we only used a resistance band. It’s so small and easy to transport. Isn’t that nice?

We did exercises for about 20 minutes (short and sweet), talked a bit and then I got to test this crazy machine that I’ve been curious about for a while.

The Alter-G Anti-Gravity Treadmill.

back

I told you I like to do cardio. I like it even more when it feels like I weigh about 25 pounds. I can run really fast then and it doesn’t really feel like I’m doing too much, when normally I’d be gasping for air.

run

Plus, I get to wear these really sexy shorts.

shorts

Oh, so you’re wondering how the Alter-G actually works? A quick summary: the anti-gravity chamber (the thing I’m trapped in) fills with air and gently lifts you to take the weight off of your joints – it’s really helpful for those who still want to run but are recovering from injury, or for pregnant women. You can take off anywhere from 20-100% of your body weight, which basically means it feels like running on a cloud.

legs

I ran with 75 percent of my body weight, meaning I took off 25 percent (for those who struggle with math, like me). I only ran for about seven or eight minutes, but you can schedule 30-minute sessions anytime you want. And you don’t have to be injured to use it (clearly, I’m not) ¬†– I chatted with Dr. Karyn Keating afterward and for $250, you can book 10 sessions, and for $150, you get 5. Um, that’s cheaper than 5 classes at SoulCycle or Flywheel, or basically any other group exercise class in NYC. Awesome. I’d love to go for a three or four mile run on this thing to see how I feel after.

So basically, I’m trying to lift more. And defy gravity. Winter is basically here (how is it December 1st?!), which means I’m about to start hiding in the gym. No more excuses.

What about you? Tell me about your stories with lifting heavy things and putting them back down. And have you tried the Alter-G?