Living and loving life in vermont

Friday Free-For-All (Twenty)

Welcome to Friday Free-For-All, where I talk about anything and everything on my mind.  This is usually just a great big brain dump, so brace yourselves!

Happy Halloween!  One of my favorite holidays!  Everyone at work is in costume, and we’re having a pumpkin decorating contest and they got a catered lunch.  Score!  Then tonight, Ben and I are off to a “Boos and Booze” Halloween party that our friends are hosting.  I just need to be good and not drink too much and get to bed at a decent hour.  I also need to squeeze in a Hocus Pocus viewing, cause it’s the best Halloween movie of all time.


Even though “amok” is spelled wrong… Grammar nerd alert!

I finally got my sit-stand desktop workstation!  A while back, I mentioned to our office manager that I’d like to have a sit-stand workstation, because I get really sore and lethargic sitting at a desk all day.  Time went by, and I figured she’d forgotten and I didn’t want to be a pest about it.  As it turns out, she had ordered it immediately, but it had been back-ordered.  It arrived Wednesday afternoon and we got it set up in no time.  I’m SO EXCITED!  It’s on a hydraulic lift system, so I can sit or stand whenever I want.  I’m hoping that this will resolve some of the neck/shoulder pain I’ve been experiencing lately, and will help me burn more calories during the day.  Woo!

There is a giant bowl of candy corn on my desk.  It’s taking all my willpower not to inhale it.  Whyyyyyyy?

Photo Oct 31, 11 24 41 AM

What are you doing to celebrate Halloween?


Goals for Half Marathon #2

All along, I’ve been planning on this race being sort of a “redemption race.”  My first half marathon in June was really, really rough.  I had trained pretty well and thought I was prepared for just about anything.  I had set my sights on a goal of finishing sub 2:30.  But as you may recall, it was not great.  Race day was hot and humid, and the course was 13 miles of un-shaded highway.  I finished with a respectable time of 2:41 and change, but the entire experience of running the race was pretty miserable.

First ever race medal!

But I did get a medal, so there’s that

At the outset of training for this half, I was hopeful that cooler fall temperatures, lower humidity, and more training would net me a PR and a more positive racing experience.  Training started out strong, and I felt sure a PR was within reach.  Now, however, I’ve had a few consecutive weeks of little-to-no training.  I also haven’t done a long run of more than 9 miles.  All week, I’ve been torn between being determined to go for my goal and being afraid that if I go all-out, I’ll kill myself.

But today, I’ve decided that I’m going for it.  I don’t have plans to do any more half marathons until the spring, and I don’t plan to run any distances longer than 10k for a good long while, so I’m going to give it my all on Sunday, and try to achieve what I set out to do when I started training in August.  And if it doesn’t happen, I can just bide my time until next year, cross-train my butt off over the winter (hello, nordic skiing!), and come back in the spring ready to kick butt.

So after that long, rambling introduction, here are my goals:

  • Finish sub-2:30
  • PR (anything faster than 2:41)
  • Only walk while taking fuel/drinking water
  • Enjoy the run (at least more than the June half!)

What’s your current half marathon PR?

As you may have noticed, I’m doing something a little bit new this week.  Or at least it’s new to the blog, but not new to me.  Because of the looming half and my crazy schedule, I’ve been putting in some #lunchmiles.

When Ben and I lived in Boston, my company had a gym downstairs, so I did most of my workouts on my lunch break.  I would do some form of cardio three days a week, and a class like Arms and Abs or Bootcamp twice a week.  I loved being able to squeeze it into the middle of my day because it meant that I could sleep in later in the mornings and go straight home after work.  It also made it a lot harder to skip a day.

These days, my gym is 10 minutes from the office and 20 minutes from home, which means that zipping over there on lunch isn’t really feasible.  But here’s the thing:  my office is a mere half mile away from the bike path–14 miles of gently rolling, scenic pavement that I can take advantage of.  I can do two or three miles and have enough time to wipe down, change, and eat lunch.  It’s brilliant, especially since the weather is so agreeable right now.

I know lunchtime workouts aren’t doable for everyone, but I thought I’d offer some tips and tricks to help you give it a try.

  1. Pack wipes–equip your gym bag with baby wipes, makeup cleansing wipes, or get some specially made active shower wipes.  You’ll want something to quickly get the sweat and dirt off your face and banish the stank from your pits and nethers before going back to work.  I definitely don’t have time to shower (even though my building has one), so wipes are a must.
  2. Have a morning snack to make sure you fuel your workout.  I usually have an apple and a handful of nuts around 10:30 am, which is enough to keep me from getting hangry before I run.
  3. Do what works for you.  If you can lock yourself in your office and bust out a 30 minute yoga session or follow along with a Nike Training Club strength workout, go for it!  If the weather is nice and your neighborhood is safe, go out and get a run in!  If you’re lucky enough to have an on-site gym, take a class!
  4. Enlist a buddy.  This is a well-known exercise motivator, and it works great here, too.  My friend Erin and I used to meet for classes on our lunch break.  Knowing that she’d be there always got me to go, when I might not have otherwise.
  5. Keep your eyes on the prize.  Remember that working out in the middle of your day means that after work, you can just GO HOME.  No schlepping your crap to the gym, changing in front of a bunch of strangers, and staring at a sea of grunting muscle-heads and hard-bodies while you grind out treadmill miles.  And tomorrow morning, instead of waking up at o’dark thirty to get your sweat on, you’ll still be in dreamland.  Pretty cool.

Do you ever work out on your lunch break?  Do you have any tips or tricks to add?

The Plan for Race Week

This should be a Manic Monday training recap post, but here’s the thing:  I only ran once last week (which I already covered on Friday), and didn’t do any other training.  First, I was sick.  And then I went out too hard on Thursday after not running for a week and a half and tweaked my hip.  And then, I started my push-up challenge and messed up something in my neck and left shoulder, so I was basically a mess.  I spent the weekend doing nothing but baking cookies, drinking beer, and playing video games while eating the aforementioned cookies.  Not exactly a high-powered training week.  The good news is, after taking a few days off, I feel 100% better.

But now, shit’s getting serious, because come hell or high water, I’m running 13.1 miles on Sunday morning.  At least, I think I am.  I haven’t gotten ANY communications from the race directors yet…  I was willing to give them a second chance after being less-than-impressed by the 5k they put on, but now I think this is just par for the course for this race company, and I may not race with them again…  Aaaaanywho…

I really need to focus up this week.  Eat right.  Hydrate.  Stalk the weather.  Do some short, easy runs.  Come up with a fueling strategy.  So without further ado, here’s the plan for this week.


  • Drink at least 60 oz of water
  • Run 2 easy miles at lunch (no faster than 10 min/mile)
  • When at friends’ house for dinner, stick to one beer or glass of wine
  • Stretch and foam roll for 15 minutes
  • Re-start push-up challenge (3 push-ups)


  • Drink at least 60 oz of water
  • Run 2 easy miles at lunch (no faster than 10 min/mile)
  • Cook a nutritious dinner
  • Stretch and foam roll for 15 minutes
  • 4 push-ups


  • Drink at least 60 oz of water
  • Run 2 easy miles at lunch (no faster than 10 min/mile)
  • Finalize race day outfit and fueling plan
  • Take it easy while out to dinner with friends–limit 1 margarita, make reasonably nutritious food choices
  • Stretch and foam roll for 15 minutes
  • 5 push-ups


  • Drink at least 60 oz of water
  • Run 2 easy miles at lunch (no faster than 10 min/mile)
  • Hit up Goodwill for Halloween costume pieces
  • Stretch and foam roll for 15 minutes
  • Push-up rest day


  • Drink at least 60 oz of water
  • Take it easy at work Halloween party–limit sugar intake
  • Packet pick up at local Fleet Feet (maybe pick up some treats/look at new shoes?)
  • Take it easy at “Boos and Booze” Halloween party–limit 3 drinks, go to bed before midnight
  • 5 push-ups


  • Drink at least 80 oz of water
  • Eat a big, balanced breakfast/brunch
  • Relax as much as possible, but also help clean the shop and house in preparation for wedding stuff
  • Eat a carbalicious dinner
  • Lay out flat Rae and supplies
  • Bed by 9pm


  • Wake up at 6 am
  • Drink a glass of Nuun and eat bagel with nut butter, banana and coffee
  • Double and triple check supplies
  • Leave the house by 7:30 am to get to race start by 8:30 am at the latest
  • Park, warm up, eat a Gu 15 min before start
  • Eat post-race burrito and wear medal all day

I realize that there’s quite a bit of running involved in this week’s schedule, but here’s why:  a) I doubt I’ll actually run all four of those days; I just want to put it on the schedule so I can get at least a few miles in, and b) I won’t have any time to get to the gym this week, so running’s all I’ve got, workout-wise.

For fueling on Sunday, I think I’m going to try taking Gu more often–every 3 miles instead of every 4, because I get sooooo tired and draggy at the end of long runs, and I really think I’m not getting enough calories.  I also plan to wear my Fitletic hydration belt, with one bottle filled with plain water and one filled with Nuun.

How do you prep for a big race?

Anyone else racing this weekend?

Welcome to Friday Free-For-All, where I talk about anything and everything on my mind.  This is usually just a great big brain dump, so brace yourselves!

Running is a cruel, vindictive mistress.  I took all of last week off from running due to general burnout.  Then, I didn’t run the first half of this week due to a vicious head-cold.  I finally made it to the treadmill last night with the goal of completing at least a 5k.  I started out nice and slow, but I knew I was responsible for cooking dinner, so I gradually picked up the pace throughout the course of the run in order to get done and get home faster.  About 1 mile in, I noticed that my right groin/hip was a little twinge-y, but I carried on, focusing on good form, sure that it was just complaining about running again after an extended break.  I finished with a respectable 5k time of 29:40, and went home, where my hip continued to complain.  I stretched and rolled and went to bed, worried.  Sure enough, I woke up this morning and it’s still not happy with me.  I wouldn’t call it a full-blown injury (very minor pain), but it could definitely progress if I’m not careful.  This is really poor timing.  I’m supposed to run a half marathon in 9 days.  I know it’s probably my fault for not taking it as easy as I should have after not running for a week and a half, but it feels a teeny bit like the Running Gods are punishing me for taking time off.  Now I’m worried because this weekend was my last chance to get a double digit run in before the half next weekend, and I’m not sure I a) should even try to do it, or b) would be able to even if I do attempt it.  I’m planning to do some gentle yoga and more stretching tonight to see if that helps, and I may put my long run off until Sunday to give my leg a chance to figure itself out.

Ben’s bachelor party is this weekend.  He is very excited.  His cousin Will is even making the trip over from Rochester, NY, which is about a 7 hour drive on a good day.  This means that I’ll have Saturday night all to myself.  I’ll most likely be home in my PJs drinking wine and playing video games, because I’m not actually having a bachelorette party.  What’s that you say?  How come I’m not having one?  Quite frankly, that’s just not my scene.  I don’t need a “final hoorah” before getting married because I know that getting married isn’t going to prevent me from having fun and seeing my girlfriends when I want to, and the whole “let’s go to the bars and get wasted” thing is really not my scene anymore.  Not to mention the fact that my schedule is jam-packed right now, so trying to add another official “event” into the mix would stress me right the fuck out.  So yeah.  I might just call up one of my girlfriends and see if she wants to watch Disney movies in our PJs while eating ice cream.  Definitely more my speed.


Bagels with cream cheese are one of the most perfect foods on this earth.  I’m currently eating a whole wheat bagel with plain cream cheese, and I’m pretty much in romantic love with it right now.  Ben had better watch out–I might decide to marry this bagel instead of him.  Just kidding.  Imma eat this bagel.

Have you ever dealt with an injury/strain right before a big race?  Any advice?

What’s your favorite breakfast food?

30 Day Push-up Challenge

I’m starting something new today–a 30 day push-up challenge.  As a runner, I focus a lot on core and lower body strength, and not so much on upper body.  As a result, my arms, shoulders, and upper back are quite wimpy.  I think this is a fairly common issue for runners.  So I’ve decided to focus a bit more on full-body fitness for the next month, but I wanted to start small, since I’m pretty dang weak.

I found this great 30 day pushup challenge for beginners graphic after a very brief Google search.  I like that it starts out with only 3 push-ups, because in all honesty, I’m not even sure I can do three actual, non-modified push-ups.  And it works up to doing 20, which I think is a reasonable goal for a beginner like myself.

Photo Oct 23, 6 43 31 AM

Once I complete the challenge, I hope to incorporate more upper body workouts into my weekly routine, whether that’s through Body Pump classes at my gym, or dumbbell workouts at home.  I know there are all kinds of arm workouts on the Tone It Up website that seem pretty varied and challenging.

The short term goal here is to have nicer arms for the wedding since I’m wearing a strapless dress (yes, I know the wedding is only a month away, but I think that’s long enough to see some improvement).  And the long term goal is to be ready for the #nardichallenge at my first runDisney race, the Wine and Dine half marathon in November 2015.  Also, one of my ultimate fitness benchmarks that I hope to meet someday is being able to do at least one pull-up.  I would be over the moon if I could do that.

Can you do a “regular” push-up?  How many can you do in a row?

Do you find that, as a runner, you skimp on upper body workouts?

Product Review: Energy Bits

Please note:  I was not asked to write this review and I am not being compensated in any way for this post.  I purchased this product for my own use.

I mentioned recently that I got some samples of Energy Bits from Cape Cod Runner.  I’ve seen these little green pills all over the internet, and know a lot of runners who use them regularly, so I was mighty curious to see what they’re all about.

For the price of $5, I received (2) 30 tab sample packs, so I was able to try them out on two different runs.  I appreciated this, because sometimes once isn’t really enough to tell if something works or if it’s just a fluke.

What are Energy Bits?

From the website:

Made from 100% organicallly grown, NON GMO spirulina algae and loaded with 40 nutrients, ENERGYbits® algae tabs have the highest concentration of protein in the world (64%) all for just one calorie per tab. Spirulina has been endorsed by the United Nations and Olympic gold medalists for decades. Now it’s your turn.

ENERGYbits® algae tabs are your answer for raw energy and health. All naturally too. With just one calorie per tab, ENERGYbits® will stop your cravings, slay your hunger and give you a steady stream of mental and physical energy all day or night. They may even make you want to leap over tall buildings in a single bound, but we think that’s best left to the guys in the red capes and blue tights. 

Remarkably, ENERGYbits® have just one ingredient, spirulina algae which is a super hero in the world of super foods. Spirulina’s nutritional pedigree is so impressive that The World Bank, NASA and Olympic athletes have all declared spirulina to be the most nutritious food in the entire world. Why? Well for starters, it effortlessly and naturally boosts your energy like an energy drink, energy bar or coffee  but without the downside of chemicals, caffeine, calories, gluten or sugar. Gram per gram, there is no denser source of nutrition than spirulina algae.

Research done by NASA showed that that 1 kg of spirulina had the nutritional  equivalent of 1000 kg of fruits and vegetables.  That’s a lot of groceries! But if an endorsement by NASA isn’t enough to convince you of the health benefits you’ll get from ENERGYbits® spirulina, consider that many International Health Organizations including the United Nations have hailed spirulina as one of the “Greatest Superfoods on Earth.” Don’t worry if you haven’t heard about this super food yet. You will.


I have to say, I’m naturally skeptical about so-called “superfoods.”  And the website’s overly peppy tone made me extra skeptical.  However, I really liked that the product is made from a single, organic ingredient, when so many running fuels are made with tons of sugar and chemicals, so I really wanted to like Energy Bits.

As I said above, I tried the bits twice; once before a tempo run, and once before a 10k “race” (I was racing against myself!).  The first time, I could say that they were pretty effective.  I usually have an afternoon snack at about 3:30 or 4 o’clock if I know I’m going to the gym after work, but I’m typically still pretty hungry by the time I finish my workout.  I had my usual snack before leaving work, and swallowed a serving of bits on my way to the gym.  I was maybe slightly less hungry afterwards than I would be normally, and I felt pretty good during my tempo run.

The second time I tried the bits, I ate a fairly normal pre-run breakfast of a whole wheat English Muffin with butter, and two cups of coffee.  If I weren’t going to take the bits, I probably would have put sunflower seed butter on my muffin.  Instead, I swallowed another 30 bit serving of bits and headed out.  I had pretty good energy levels during the first half of the run, but I was also running downhill the first half.  I started to flag in the second half and contemplated taking the Gu I had brought along, but since I was running for a PR, I didn’t want to slow down.  I was pretty exhausted by the end, but not overly hungry.


  • 100% real food–no sugar or additives
  • Organic
  • No stomach upset (but then, I don’t have a sensitive stomach to begin with)
  • No funky taste when swallowing
  • Seem to be at least as effective as other running fuels I’ve tried


  • EXPENSIVE!  A bag of 1000 bits (33 adult servings) is $115, or roughly $3.48 per serving.  Even with the 25% off codes that Ambassadors can provide, that’s still $86.25 per bag and $2.61 per serving, which is more than I typically pay for Gu or other fuel.  And to pay $86 up front is too much for me
  • Swallowing 30 pills is hard enough pre-run, but there’s simply no way I could take another serving in the middle of a run or race.  I’d have to come to a complete stop, and even then, swallowing that many pills when I’m breathing hard wouldn’t be pretty.  So really, these would only be good pre-run for me, and there are plenty of other healthy, real food options I can have before a run

So do they work?  Based on my two trial runs, I’d say yes.  But I don’t feel like they work any better or faster than other forms of fuel I’ve taken.  And trying to swallow 30 pills in the middle of a race seems really silly to me.  AND I’m simply not willing to pay for them.  I think if you were somebody with a very sensitive stomach, or who is really careful about what goes into your body, then Energy Bits might be the right choice for you.  I personally think that I could find other, cheaper options that are still relatively natural, like Honey Stinger products, and pay less money.

Have you ever tried Energy Bits?

What’s your go-to running fuel?

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