The Light Run

Back in October I boldly stated that I was done running any sort of race for the year. I think I truly meant it until I heard that the registration for The Light Run was open.

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” (name that movie!)

Along with my friend Beth, we registered on the spot!

The Light Run is a fun run co-sponsored by local running pals Good Day for a Run and MEAN GUY Running. The run is not timed and winds through the streets of Pitman, New Jersey. You get an ornament and a really great experience with a fun after-party at nearby Carolina Blue.

The cost for this? A mere $12 and if you’d like to, a donation of a toy at check-in that goes to local charities the Robin’s Nest and The Kids Caring Foundation. I’m pretty sure it sells out every year because who could resist a deal like that?

Since it’s not a closed course they ask that you stay mostly on the sidewalks and follow pedestrian laws. Once we started running we figured out where we should be in the pack and made our way through the fairly quiet streets of Pitman.

Every turn was clearly marked with a sign and cones and there were a few volunteers out on the course to wave runners in the right direction as well.

Most of my runs take place in the morning so it was a little weird for me to be out at 6:30pm, running a 5k, but it was also so much fun!

Beth ordered us Christmas light necklaces and I also wore my Tracer360 light vest, along with my Knuckle Lights. I’m so glad I had the Knuckle Lights on because there were a few areas where the sidewalk was heaved and without them, I’m pretty sure I would have tripped. #klutzstatus

Along with our lights galore, we also wanted to be comfy temperature wise! I actually love running in the winter weather but staying warm beforehand is always something I struggle with. I was fairly comfy in running tights, Pro Compression socks, a long-sleeved running shirt, a sub-zero jacket,  BUFF® hat and headwear, gloves, and um, more gloves.

Yes, I doubled up on the gloves and also added hand warmers in the mix too. I like keeping my hands warm and toasty.

We circled around the streets of Pitman, oohing and ahhing at the houses we saw along the way. There were so many pretty ones!

During the second half of the run, we went to the piece de resistance, the Hagerty Family Christmas Lights, which is in its 32nd year. I wasn’t expecting to see Santa there since it was a Wednesday but I guess there was a bit of magic in the air!

This was Beth’s first non-family 5k and I’m so glad that we got to do it together! It was lovely and as long as The Light Run exists, I’ll be out there in December running it (so remind me of that the next time that I say I’m done with running for the year, okay?).

Are you a fan of checking out holiday decorations and lights? Do you go by car? Walking tour? My family and I love to drive around and look at everyone’s decorations closer to Christmas too – it’s one of the things we always look forward to!

Chick Chat: Christmas Movies

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – the time when we get to watch ALL of the best Christmas movies. The only problem? Deciding which ones to sit down with. There are so many good holiday flicks out there, so to help you narrow your list down, we’ve pulled together some of our very favorites. When we decided to do this post, I told Kyle and Meridith that there was no way I could pick just ONE favorite holiday movie. I mean, who can, honestly? I’m wagering no one. I did, however, force myself to limit my selection to three favorites. It was super hard, y’all! Someone fetch me some eggnog!

Numero Uno for me is and will always be A Christmas StoryI remember the first time I watched it in 1985 when I was in fourth grade. It was a cold Christmas, and although I don’t remember what I asked Santa for that year, I will never forget watching it for the first time. I sat next to my deaf grandmother, and her full body belly laughs when Randy shows mom how piggies eat were contagious. Being deaf, grandma couldn’t understand what was being said (we didn’t have a closed caption machine, it was an actual machine you hooked up to the TV back then), but boy she thought that kid sticking his face in mashed potatoes was the funniest thing ever. My grandma had the best laugh, and I think it was because she was deaf. When you can’t hear yourself to be self-conscious, you let it rip full gusto! It was infectious. This movie is such a staple in my family that we have a tradition of watching it while we decorate our tree. I even have my very own leg lamp.

Number two for me is an old movie, Heidi staring Shirley Temple. It’s colorized so it has a special charm about it that can’t be duplicated. It started my forever unfulfilled wish to travel solely by horse drawn sleigh throughout December. My mother loves this movie and we watched it often growing up. Most folks won’t think of it as a Christmas movie, but Christmas is sprinkled throughout the film with the film’s climax taking place on Christmas Eve. The story is a bit rough, involving kidnapping and child abuse, but it’s a Shirley Temple movie, so you know things aren’t THAT bad and there’s of course a happy ending. It’s hard to find, but look, someone uploaded the entire movie here on Youtube. Yay!

Lastly is my very favorite version of the Dicken’s Classic, Scrooge. Why is this one my favorite? I’m a bit of a sucker for Golden Age musicals, and although this was made in 1970, it has great songs, lush costumes and sets, and superb acting from Albert Finney as Ebenezer. It’s a wonderful traditional telling of the classic holiday story. It also has one of my favorite songs in musicals ever, one that reminds me of the humor of Gaston andLes Poisson, called Thank You Very Much. It’s a sad day when all of London comes out to say “thanks for dying, jerk!” Ebenezer deserves it, though. It’s also a hard one to find. Youtube to the rescue again!

ELF

You guys, any movie that has a NARWAL in it gets an automatic A+ from me.

Elf is one of those current classic movies that just makes me laugh and laugh. My entire immediate family can apply so many great quotes from this movie to every moment in our lives. “YOU DID IT! CONGRATULATIONS! World’s best cup of coffee!” for example, is great any time of year, not just during the holidays.

Plus, blonde Zoey Deschanel singing “It’s Cold Outside” gets me every time.

The Polar Express

I love this one because my kids loved this one when they were younger. We used to watch it over, and over, and over.

Sure, the book is better because the book is always better, but I love the songs in the animated movie like Hot Chocolate and When Christmas Comes to Town. Honestly, it just reminds me of when my boys were little. They’re not super little anymore but they still enjoy watching this one with me, so I can pretend.

Love Actually

I’m sure someone else is going to mention this one but I can’t not say it. Because, to me, it is perfect.

Okay, since I’m the one putting this post together, I had to put myself last, because I didn’t want to repeat a movie that was already mentioned! Meridith and Jenn both talked about a few of my faves, but because I have a lot of favorite Christmas movies, I have plenty more to choose from.

Home Alone
This movie typifies early 90’s everything. From the John Williams soundtrack to John Candy to Macaulay Caulkin, Home Alone is a classic. Far better than its sequels, the first story of “Kevin mouths off, gets sent to the attic and accidentally gets left behind” is implausible in all the best ways. The highly adept 8-year-old buying fabric softener and milk is questionable at best, but the running away from the scary neighbor and accidentally stealing a toothbrush in the process is totally believable. The Wet Bandits are delightfully dimwitted and the booby-trapped house is every kid’s dream. It almost goes without saying that Home Alone was second on my list of Christmas movies watched this year.
The Santa Clause
Another 90’s Christmas classic that far exceeded its sequels (seriously, don’t bother watching them). I will never not love the premise of the clause that ropes Tim Allen’s Scott Calvin into becoming St. Nick after the latter falls off a roof and disappears. Allen – at the peak of his ‘Home Improvement’ fame – is fantastically funny. But what I really love about this movie is the emphasis it places on the idea that “seeing isn’t believing, believing is seeing” – even grown-ups, for whom Santa is just an idea, can believe in the spirit of the season. The juxtaposition of real life with magic is well thought out and this particular imagining of the North Pole may be my favorite of all time. Two thumbs all the way up.
The Muppet Christmas Carol
Twenty-five years ago, the best version of the Dickens classic was brought to life by some of the greatest actors of all time and Michael Caine. Complete with singing and dancing rats, Gonzo as Charles Dickens and Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit. It’s hard not to like the Muppets – except for that abomination of a song (if you know the one to which I am referring, points to you). I think I watched this movie on repeat for most of my childhood Christmases, a tradition that continues to this day. I haven’t yet watched this year, but because I’m 99% sure that Clay hasn’t seen it, I’ll be remedying that soon. After all, there’s only a few more sleeps til Christmas!
Christmas Vacation
“Why is the carpet all wet, Todd?”
“I don’t KNOW, Margo.”
“Merry Christmas. Shitter’s full.”
“HALLELUJAH, HOLY SHIT.”
That’s all I have to say about this one. Thank you, National Lampoon, for gifting us the Griswolds.
What are your favorite Christmas movies? Do you have any family traditions that involve watching the 24-hour ‘A Christmas Story’ marathon? 

Jumping Holiday Hurdles with AfterShokz

Disclaimer: I received AfterShokz Trekz Titanium wireless headphones to review as part of being a BibRave Pro earlier this year. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! 

Holiday merriment is in full swing here in our house! Our trees are up, the banister is decorated, our menorah is ready for this evening’s first night of Hanukkah, and my kids excitement and noise level are at a constant eleven.

Between running from music recitals to art shows to karate testing to Scout meetings and parties and whatever else I’m forgetting to list right now, there’s the age ol’ task of wrapping presents. This task usually falls on me, because, well I think I said once that I liked it (what a mistake that was).

My older son has been really great about pitching in and wrapping gifts for me and things that he’s bought, but the majority of the gift wrapping falls on me. Last year I even hurt myself wrapping presents. I am a talented one, I know!

This year, I’m just trying to figure out how to get everything accomplished and remain sane. Rather than wrapping everything all at once, like I’ve done in the past, I’m attempting to wrap prezzies as they come through the door.

My main wrapping area station is the floor in my bedroom, where I have enough space to spread out the wrapping paper and my box of scissors, tape, labels, etc. that I can quickly squirrel away if anyone happens upon me mid-wrap.

The one issue that I have is that there’s no television or holiday movies to keep me entertained upstairs. I could bring everything downstairs but I like keeping everything consolidated and I don’t want to carry the bigger gifts up and down the steps. #firstworldproblems

Thankfully, I have my AfterShokz Trekz Titanium wireless headphones and they’ve made all the difference this year. Not just for running training runs and races, my friends! I’ve been putting these to work and they’ve yet to let me down.

My mail lady (who brings many, many packages from Amazon) usually arrives at 1:30pm and my kids begin arriving an hour later.

Donning my AfterShokz headphones I’m able to listen to holiday tunes/laugh along with my favorite podcasts and wrap to my hearts content. If I lose track of time, I’m able to hear my kiddo’s triumphant return from school even when I’m jamming out, thanks to the open ear design.

It’s a wrap (for now)!

Here’s to making life easier and embracing the little things along the way that help make that happen!

How are you getting ready for the holidays? Any tips or tricks that you use to make wrapping less of a chore? Here’s how a few of my fellow BRPs are jumping their holiday hurdles:

Dyenna
Lindsey
Sara
Ryan
Sara
Jenna
Mai

Holiday Night Hike

All my life, one of my favorite Christmas memories has been seeing the Boulder Star light up the side of Flagstaff Mountain. The Star was first lit in 1947 as a gift from the City to the people of Boulder. What I didn’t know until recently is you can hike to the Star, too! You can also drive to the bottom and climb up, but where is the fun in that? I asked my sister, Carla, to join me, and it was on.

We’d never done a night hike before, so we had to prep a bit by picking up some headlamps. I was also super excited to try out my brand new Skirt Sports Toasty Tights (review coming soon), vest, and new beanie. We started out at about five-o’clock and it was already around forty-seven degrees. We parked near the base of Flagstaff Trail to start the 2.3 mile round trip hike.

The hike wasn’t easy. It was steep and technical in many places, and the directions I pulled off the web were not very clear. It was tricky to navigate in the dark when the directions said to look for the “junction after the popular bouldering spot”. We passed no less than five popular bouldering spots with junctions after them so thought we might have missed the right one. Luckily the road winds in the hear distance and made a good navigation point for us. The views on the way up were worth every foot we climbed in elevation.

As we came up to the Star from the south and we spotted two deer bucks grazing. No one else noticed them, and Carla and I squatted down at a safe distance and watched them for a few minutes. They started to spar, and we could hear the knocking of their antlers as they butted heads. It was so awesome to see them, and for my sister and I to be the only people who saw the deer. This is why I love Colorado!

The climb to the top of the Star was SO STEEP. It was fun to reach the top with my sister and create a new tradition together. This is such a uniquely Boulder holiday experience and I’m so glad I finally did it. Getting down was tricky both of us fell on our butts and took it super slow from that point on. We found the trail back no problem with the help of our headlamps. I’m not sure what happened with my GPS watch but we did make a loop of sorts, and I was surprised by the elevation we gained on this hike! I’m already excited to do it again next year, and maybe take some adult cocoa next time!

What holiday traditions do you have? Have you ever hiked at night? Share with me!

Road Tested: Weav Run – Music for Running

Disclaimer: The Weav Run app is currently free but I will be receiving a lifetime subscription in January 2018 as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Now that my racing season is over for a few months, one of the main goals I’ve set for myself is improving my speed on shorter distances.

I feel like I’ve made great strides in my longer runs recently and for that, I’m really proud! However, when it comes to shorter distances, I don’t know how to kick and keep my pace in a higher gear.

Last month I decided that each day I’d get out in my neighborhood and run “the loop” with my faithful pup, Gemma. She automatically makes me go faster and I can push myself for short distances.

In addition to Gemma pushing the pace, I’ve been using the Weav Run app, which is a music app on my phone with pre-set songs that speed up and slow down according to cadence. Say what? 

YES. Check this out!

I was skeptical at first because I think we’ve all heard the mixes where a song is sped up without taking in account the fact that the singer will then sound like a chipmunk. That’s not the case with the Weav Run app, rather the Beats Per Minute accelerate and decelerate while the singers voices are not, making the transition smooth.

Currently the Weav Run app is available on Apple devices. It’s fairly straightforward to use.

You’re able to have the app detect your tempo as you run or you can input your own tempo.

After trying both options, I’ve found that I’m partial to entering my own tempo when I’m running with Gemma. She takes short “marking her territory” breaks I don’t want to have a break in the tempo of the music.

Also, when I enter my own tempo, I’m able to put it for slightly faster that I am naturally able to go and that helps me push my own pace.

The Weav Run app will connect to the Health app so you’re able to record your runs. However, one of the things I’ve been trying to do lately is keep things as simple as possible when it comes to my running and I want all of my runs to be in one place (my Garmin). I’m primarily using the Weav Run app for the music aspect and it’s fantastic. It’s like taking a personal DJ on my run with me – I feel like I’m in the club!

There are currently 25 songs on the playlist and I’ve been jamming to each and every single one of them. Some are old school: “It’s Tricky” by RUN-DMC. Many are more current: “Believer” by Imagine Dragons, “Cheerleader” by OMI, “Broccoli” by D.R.A.M ft Lil Yachty to name a few.

From what I understand the app’s creative team are in talks with music labels to get more songs on the playlist.

What I love most about this app is that it takes listening to music on a run to another level for me. I’ve fluctuated between needing music to run (when I first started out) to more recently only listening to music on during longer mileage runs or on solo runs.

The Weav Run app makes me excited to listen to music again during shorter runs because of the potential it has to push me along. And run-dance-sing… don’t forget that, too.

Weav Run is constantly evolving – there’s currently beta testing for intervals. I know that they have plans to add more songs on the horizon and I look forward to that because I plan to run further and hopefully faster.

Co-founders, Lars Rasmussen and Elomida Visviki took the time to conference call with BibRave Pros yesterday afternoon to answer questions and share company background; it was very enlightening and much appreciated by the BRPs.

Weav Run has a great presence on social media, which is always a plus in my eyes. At this very moment, the #weavrunstreak is happening – a mile a day for 30 days. I was going strong until I got benched by colonoscopy prep and a tenacious cough but I’m hoping to jump back in because my body needs to move!

Want to learn even more about the Weav Run app? Make sure to join the Twitter #bibchat happening on December 26th at 9pm est.

Do you run with music? What are some of your favorite power tunes? Have you tried the Weav Run app?

2017 Rewind in Races – part two

And I’m back! July through December were slightly less eventful than the first half of the year – mainly because summer racing isn’t that much of a *thing* around here. Or maybe, more accurately, it’s not much of a *thing* for ME.

July 2017 – Firecracker 5k

Remember in part one of this, I mentioned that my son Lucas occasionally likes to run with me? He decided that this was a good time to run again. Even though he had not run a 5k since… probably February when we last ran together.

This was more about running together with my kiddo than breaking any records. I was happy to be out there with him and he was, well, he was happy when it was over.

September 2017 – Vacation Races Shenandoah Half Marathon

Shenandoah Half Expo - Vacation Races

Oh my gosh, this was such a fun weekend from start to finish. My buddy Rachel and I took a road trip to Virginia for the inaugural Shenandoah half marathon. We knew that it would be a tough course but we also knew that we always have a lot of fun wherever we go, so we decided to just embrace the hills and roll with it.

This experience was exactly what a non-racing half marathon should be! Though we weren’t going particularly fast, the miles just flew by. The scenery was incredible, we chatted the entire way, and waved to the locals watching from their porches.

I’m registered for Vacation Races Elk Double with Jenn next year and I know that if it’s anything like this one, I won’t be disappointed!

Shenandoah Half Marathon finishers medals

We did it!

September 2017 – Rock ‘n Roll Philadelphia

This was my first race representing BibRave and I was so excited to meet many of my fellow BibRave Pros before the race began. I knew going in that this race would be more about having fun than anything else and as I started running how was I was feeling just solidified my plan to enjoy the run.

I loved this run because of the crowd during the first half of the race and then runners I met along the course the second half of the race. Philly is always a good place to run and this was no exception!

October 2017 – Run the Vineyards Destination Enoteca 5k

Running through a vineyard. Finishing with wine and music. What could be better? Nothing! This race and all the races that Run the Vineyards offers have been A+.

I ran this one with my friend, Erin, and we had a great time running but an even better time enjoying a cheese plate and wine afterward. Yeah, that’s right. I’m not ashamed to admit it!

October 2017 – Run Inspired 10k

Another BibRave race, another opportunity to meet a BibRave Pro friend, Ryan!

This race took place in the hills of Delaware and benefited Operation Warm, which provides winter coats for children living in poverty. It was a beast of a course but one that was so beautiful, I was happy and grateful for every step I took.

My family came with me to cheer me on and it was a great way to wrap my 2017 races.

I swore that was going to be it and that I’d be focusing on training for the winter months. I skipped the Philadelphia half marathon this year and I’m actually glad that I did because I was having some leg issues for a few weeks after this race.

I’m back in working order now and I had a friend that was interested in signing up for a local, non-timed 5k – The Light Run. It’s a fun run that supports a couple of local non-profits and I’m happy to be taking part!

Ornaments from last year’s run

Here’s to a happy, healthy, injury free 2018!

2017 Rewind in Races – part one

2017 has been a good and busy year for me, as far as races go! I hit a couple PRs, spent a lot of time with great friends, and was able to run my first Ragnar.

Now that we’re in December and I only have one fun run of the year left, happening next week, I’ve gotten nostalgic for the races of 2017. Let’s look back over the first six months, shall we?

January 2017 – The Chili Run

It’s difficult to find races in the colder months here in New Jersey. For the most part the ones, the winter months are used to get base miles in and prepare for the spring.

However, the Chili Run is a 2 mile jaunt through the town next to mine. Highlights of this race include seeing lots of familiar local faces (including running with my friend, Rachel), chili, really cute swag, and oh yes – running, of course!

I’m already signed up for the 2018 event and this year my husband will be joining in the fun!

February 2017 – Mad Eye Moody Virtual 5k

Jenn told me about the Mad Eye Moody Virtual 5k from Hogwarts Running Club and I decided to join her in running this one. After I told my older son, Lucas, about it, he wanted in on the action and decided to run with me for this 3.1 mile run.

Occasionally he gets run-inspired and that was the case this time – I think because it was Superbowl weekend. As always, we took the first mile too quickly and then we toughed out the second and third miles together. Even still, it was nice to have company and I was so proud of him, when we got the medal in the mail soon after, I gave it to him.

February 2017 – Fort Lauderdale A1A Half Marathon

This race was a destination race for me – my parents live in Florida and the timing worked out so that I could run the race and have a visit with them.

It sticks out in my mind for several reasons.

  1. There was a train that went through the course about a quarter mile in and we had to turn around and start the race again. (It was a really, really long train.)
  2. Despite the train, I had so much fun running this race. I realized early on that it was going to be super warm. It wasn’t anywhere close to my fastest race but I pet dogs, drank beer on the course, saw my mom multiple times, and just had a really nice time.
  3. After the race, the 2nd place finisher was called out as cutting the course. Even my non-running friends were talking about it and it just goes to show that cheaters never win… especially when social media is involved.

April 2017 – Hot Chocolate 15k

Two 40 year olds!

The Philly Hot Chocolate race was on my 40th birthday and I could think of no better way to celebrate than meeting up with Christina and running 15k (which is 9.3 miles, in case you don’t want to do the math).

We had such a fun race together and of course, after we celebrated with adding Bailey’s to our hot chocolate. Nothing better!

April 2017 – AC April Fools Half Marathon

This was my big PR – I shaved 8 minutes off my half marathon time to come in at 2:40! I was really proud because I put in the effort and the training that I needed to do it, plus I trained consistently on the course.

I’m already registered for the 2018 race and I’m hoping to once again be able to hit my best yet. I’m fairly certain that if I continue with my training and remain injury free (knock on wood), I’ll be able to do it!

April 2017 – Run for Rowan 5k

I was full steam ahead in April – running a race nearly every weekend! This one was at our alma mater, just minutes away from our home. We ran together and got to see all the changes that happened to the campus (that we can’t see from the road).

The weather wasn’t fantastic but it was a nice little 5k and the price couldn’t be beat at $20.

If they have this run again, I’ll be registering for it. Hopefully I can convince Jay to run again too!

April 2017 – Run the Vineyards Heritage 5 Miler

Kate, Brandi, and myself! We’ve been friends since our kids were in strollers.

I was able to hit a PR on this course too! With hills, sand, dirt, and road, I was really hoping that I would be able to come in at under an hour and thankfully, I was able to accomplish that.

The Run the Vineyards folks always put on stellar events, I enjoy running and volunteering with them. I’m already registered for the 2018 race; it will be my 3rd time running this race and again, I’d like to beat my time from this year.

June 2017 – Ragnar Relay PA

There are so, so many things to be said about Ragnar. It was 6 months ago and I’m still trying to process the event! I am so grateful that I was finally able to run a Ragnar and be with my teammates. I honestly don’t think if I’d ever do another one but I’m so glad that I ran this one with these people.

Can you believe that was only the first half of 2017?! I’ll be back tomorrow with the rest of the year.