Friday, November 29, 2013

Bearded Brothers Review - New Flavor - Radical Raspberry Lemon

It should be clear by now that I am a big supporter of Bearded Brothers. They kindly asked me to try out their new flavor - Radical Raspberry Lemon. All I have to say is YUM.

I am a texture eater. The texture of Bearded Brothers energy snack bars are always out of this world...and I am picky. The texture of the new bars is just as good as the other fabulous flavors that Bearded Bros carry. The flavor is light and even delicate. It feels bright and refreshing, which is a weird way to describe the flavor of a snack bar but that is accurate for this particular lemony, raspberry snack. 

Radical Rasberry Lemon is a great pre or post-workout pick-me-up. I like to have one of the bars for breakfast and it keeps me going until lunch time. If you haven't had the opportunity to try out Bearded Brothers bars, do it today! They have generously offered a 40% off Black Friday/Cyber Monday discount with the code: blackcyber. They make WONDERFUL stocking stuffers, too - so stock up! I did - I bought a case today! Shop HERE.

I will be giving away a four pack of Bearded Brothers Energy Bars, including two of the new flavor. Enter below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving & Super-simple Cranberry Pie

Just like the rest of you, I am busy getting ready for the best holiday of the year - THANKSGIVING! I just came from the grocery store for a few last minute items and it was an absolute zoo in there. I love it. :) Hustle. Bustle. All of that makes me happy.

My mom is a wonderful person and she insists that we don't bring anything to my family's very intimate, little Thanksgiving party. She would rather work for a few days and make everything herself so we can just relax and enjoy ourselves. Moms are the best. But - I can't show up empty-handed, so I will be bringing this very simple and very yummy Cranberry Pie. If you are not sure what to bring, this is always a hit - especially if you like the tartness of cranberries. 

Cranberry Pie - photo credit to
I hope you all have happy, wonderful, heart-warming and safe holidays with your friends and families. I am thankful for you all. I am thankful for a year that was full of new experiences, challenges and growth. I am thankful for my health and the health of my family. I am thankful for my job and all the people I get to know throughout the school year. I am thankful for my little pup who makes me endlessly happy. I am thankful for lots and lots. Happy Thanksgiving!

Cranberry Pie
1 1/2 C  fresh Cranberries
1/4 C Brown Sugar
3/4 C chopped Pecans or Walnuts (or mix!)
1 Egg
1/2 C Sugar
1/2 C Flour
1/3 C Butter or Margarine, melted
*You can use a pre-made pie crust if you want it to be more traditionally pie-like, but I usually put it all straight into a pie pan.
Preheat oven to 325.  Grease a 9" pie pan.  Layer cranberries on bottom of pie plate.  Sprinkle with brown sugar and nuts.  Beat egg in a medium mixing bowl until thick.  Gradually add sugar, beating until thoroughly blended.  Stir in flour and melted butter.  Blend well.  Pour mixture over cranberries.  Bake 45 minutes.
That's it.  So easy and soooo good! 


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Bliss in the Absence of Training

The last couple weeks have been wonderful. Fabulous. Fun.

It took a little longer than I'd hoped for my legs to recuperate after the marathon, but I'd say they are about 95% right now. That is reason enough to celebrate, but the reason why I'm feeling particularly happy with my fitness right now is that I AM NOT IN A TRAINING CYCLE. For a short window of time between cycles, I can run when I want (if I want.) I can go for as long as I want. I can do other things. I am not stuck to the regimentation of a schedule. I am not obligated to torture myself if the weather is garbage. It is a stress-free, easy-going kind of life that I really needed.

Don't get me wrong: I love training. In a way, I need it to give my left-brained, Type-A mind the structure it demands. I am extremely neurotic, so training is my calm, my zen, my logical, linear lifestyle that never fails me. 90% of the time - I need that.

For the other 10%, I can stand to let loosen up a bit. Doing so allows me to enjoy the non-running parts of my life a little bit more:
- I love that I have more time to cook. 
- I can justify hanging out with friends more often.
- I can sleep in on the weekend without guilt.
- I can spend more time just being quiet at home. Watch a movie. Read a book. Give my puppy kisses. Play in the garden. Etc.

You get the point. One thing that takes up a lot of my time during this part of the year is preparation for Hover Craft - an art/craft show here in Milwaukee. I have so much fun exercising the creative part of my brain. I've been busy working on some new PaperMichelle designs - not sure why I've taken the puns in a hip-hop direction this year, but I like it. I laugh at my own humor more than is socially acceptable.

Get it? Papa Wheelie?! I'm so punny.
You know this is funny. If you don't get it, we aren't friends.
Not done yet. "At Christmas, we're all hardcore WRAPPERS!" haha

So - I'll be occupied with stationery and bad jokes until December 8th for the show. My cycle for Boston will start up after that - when I am in Carlsbad, California for work for three days. I've never spent time in California before, so I am really excited to get to run along the Pacific Coast in mild December weather. Lots to look forward to in the next couple months, but for right now, I am savoring the break.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Cross Training and HIIT Training with FOCUS T25

**OK, no. I am not a rep or coach for Beach Body. No affiliation whatsoever.**

If you follow me on Twitter or you know me in real life, it is no secret that I love (LOVE!) Beach Body's Insanity program. Let's be honest here: Shaun T is a babe and he is extremely motivating. But I actually do believe Insanity does what it claims to do (tighten your sloppy ass up) if you are willing to follow the plan as it is designed - and that you are healthy enough to do Insanity in the first place. (There is a legit reason why it is called "Insanity." No, not everyone should do it.)
See what I mean? Babe.
I initially bought Insanity, because I wanted to replace my gym membership - so while the price for the Beach Body programs can seem expensive, it was a steal in comparison to my crappy and over-priced $$$ gym membership. I did the whole first cycle when I got it and I was hooked. My life revolved around those workouts. My favorite of all the workouts is Pure Cardio - which most people hate - but I'm an endurance runner, so cardio is a cake walk. All of the workouts were challenging, but doable - gradually building in intensity and length. By the time I finished, I felt strong, fit and energized. I didn't lose a ton of weight, but that doesn't mean that my body didn't change a lot. I leaned out in a flattering way and my muscle definition was much more noticeable. I felt lighter and faster.

After completing that first cycle, I got back to high mileage running. Ever since, I use Insanity as part of my cross-training regimen. I build it into my plan once or twice a week for a little bit of resistance training, HIIT (high-intensity, interval training) and muscle confusion. Cross-training is absolutely imperative if you're going to be a successful runner or if you are working towards specific speed goals...which brings me to my most recent purchase: FOCUS T25. I just bought it today and I am SO EXCITED. 

FOCUS T25 is also a high-intensity interval training program. What does that mean? It means that you are going to kick your own ass without breaks for 25 minutes a day. People see that number and think, "Oooh, I can get in shape in just 25 minutes a day! Sign me up!" Sadly, that is only partially true. Those will be 25 extremely intense minutes of the day and they must go hand-in-hand with a focused diet and lifestyle. There are never short-cuts, people.

The reason I purchased T25 is that I wanted something short to fit into my day without having to give up my runs. I can easily do a run and T25 in the same day (although I might be tired!) I think this program is perfect for an already fit person that is busy and still wants to get in a quality workout. I plan to use FOCUS T25 the way it was intended for the first round and then I will likely use it the way I use Insanity - to mix things up or to guarantee a workout on a busy day.

My package should come in the mail this week! I will track my progress here so you guys can judge for yourselves. :) Have a nice Monday!


1. What sort of cross-training do you like to incorporate into your training?
2. Have you ever had success with a "boxed" fitness plan like Insanity or FOCUS T25?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Bearded Brothers Kickstarter & A Giveaway

I am very happy to share news from one of my favorite snack food companies, Bearded Brothers - they are expanding their line of products! As a huge fan of their wonderful real-food energy bars, this is wonderful news in my book. (If you haven't had the pleasure of trying their bars yet, OMG - go here now ----> SHOP.)

They are going to be adding vegan/paleo friendly snacks to their repertoire - including organic sprouted nuts and seeds. Their products are delicious, but more importantly, the Bros are committed to conscientious values that support the highest quality of life. I really respect them as a company because of the high standards and levels of commitment they have set for themselves. 

I have gushed about Bearded Brothers on my blog before. They even helped out with my "blogiversary" giveaway. I am trying to return the favor by spreading the word about their new Kickstarter project.  


What I am asking of you (pretty please) is to help spread the word about their Kickstarter project. Of course, you can also contribute if it is something you can get behind! They have really generous incentives for backers of the project. The link to their Kickstarter page is HERE.

To sweeten the pot, I will also be giving away Lace & Race coffee mugs to 2 readers that help spread the word. Retweet! Share on Facebook! Mention in a blog post! Follow the Bearded Bros! All of these ways will help this stand-up company reach their goal - which will ultimately benefit me because I love their stuff (see, totally selfishly motivated here.) Please share the love and enter below. No, you don't have to donate any money to enter, but it doesn't hurt either! Scroll down and enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Race Recap - Lakefront Marathan and a PR

Anyone that follows me on Twitter has probably seen one or two of my training complaints and concerns over the last month. To say that things didn't go as I planned during training would be a gross understatement - but I still felt mostly prepared for a solid run on Sunday at the Lakefront Marathon in Milwaukee. My adjusted goal was to PR.

We could not have asked for better marathon conditions. There was very light rain when I got to the start area, but that cleared up by the time we lined up. The temperature was cool, but not cold. I was really glad that I didn't need my gloves this time around. I watched the runners filter into the starting area, separating themselves by their ability and confidence levels at that particular moment in time. I studied the women that lined up near the front, because I decided they would be my competition that day. I wasn't going to "start off easy and see how I feel." No. Balls to the wall. So I found some muscle-bound gals and made plans to use them as rabbits.

The clock ticked down for the last few minutes until the gun. Time always goes slowly in those last few moments. One of the final minutes was dedicated to Boston - we held a moment of silence and the announcer asked if any of the runners were looking to BQ. A roar came up from the crowd  - and I remembered that one year ago, I was running my first marathon and I was also looking to BQ. I felt like a member of a special club as I got to see the hope and optimism in the people all looking to achieve very specific and personal goals within the next few hours. It is a beautifully emotional thing to be among a sea of hopeful people.

The gun went off and thousands of watches beeped as we lurched forward. I put my plan into motion immediately: find and follow fast girls. From the first few steps, my legs felt light and fast - some of which could be attributed to adrenaline. The first mile was a blur, because the crowd is so thick at the beginning of the race. First mile pace: 6:47. I knew that was too fast, but I was also unwilling to let the elite women slip out of sight. I could adjust once the crowd thinned out and I settled into a pace.

The miles ticked by. The man with the accordion was playing in his front lawn as always. The spectators shook cow bells and shouted commands like "Keep going!" By the time I reached the 10K mark, I realized that I was on pace to run a 3:00. I started to have a mental freak out, because the goal I set at the beginning of the year was not entirely out of the question - despite injuries and an imperfect training cycle. I crossed Mile 7 in 47:50 (6:50 pace.) Someone shouted, "You're the 5th place girl." 5th? What?! Oh. My. God. 
Representing Oiselle. Feeling calm and fast.

A group of five guys came up behind me around Mile 8. Their pace was very close to mine, so I let them pass and then I matched them step for step. I overheard their discussion and quickly realized their goal time was 3:02. I wasn't tired and my pace had been consistent, so I decided to just shadow them for as long as I could. I ran a mental checklist to see if was bothering me physically at that point in the race and the only thing I even noticed was a little numbness in the bottom of my right foot - the same Plantar Fasciitis symptoms I had been experiencing throughout the end of my training.

I stayed with that group of men until we turned a corner near Mile 12 and ran up a slight incline. Nothing major at all. But simultaneously, both of my calves began to lock up. I could feel tightness over-taking them both. OH NO! Cramps?! I've only had minor cramps in my previous two marathons and both times, it occurred in the last two miles. Almost immediately, my legs could not maintain the previous pace. I forced them - one locked up step after the other - and I crossed the half mark in 1:30:51 (6:56 pace.) 

I wish I could fully explain the frustration I experienced during the second half of the race. Mentally and physically (aside from my calves) I was not tired and I wanted to go faster. The cramps made it impossible. I wanted to scream every time a female passed me and as I watched the minutes tick by. My pace dropped. 7:15. 7:30. 8:00. I had to do something I have never done in a race before: I stopped. I walked through all water stops for the last six miles of the race trying desperately to replace electrolytes and water. AND I stopped about five times to massage/stretch my calves. They were like two baseballs below my skin and whenever I stopped running, I could see them twitching below the surface of my skin. It looked like I had two aliens trapped inside my legs. I have never stopped before and I was so mad at myself for it.

Once again, my goal had to be revised. Running a 3:00 had long been out of the question, but a PR was still attainable. I did the mental math to determine what I would have to run to come in under last year's time - 3:18:45. Those last few miles were long and tedious and painful. It made me crazy to not feel tired but to be stuck in the drudgery of a ridiculously slow and arduous pace. The silver lining was that it was an absolutely beautiful morning to be running along Lake Michigan. Perfection.

Once I reached the last half mile, I stopped one final time. I rubbed out my calves on the grass and gave myself a pep talk. Finish strong. I headed for the finish with a smile on my face. My family and friends were waiting there as I crossed the finish line in 3:15:58 - 13th Female - 3rd in Age Group - and a shiny, new PR. A hard-earned PR.

We only have a certain amount of control on race day. We have put the in the miles. We can be prepared. We can be confident. We can't predict the outcome.

I'm going to have to keep doing this until it all goes my way. ;)

- 3:15:58 (PR)
- 13th Female / 1,499 Females
- 138th Finisher / 3,144 Total Finishers
- 3rd in Division

Monday, September 16, 2013

Race Recap: North Face Endurance Challenge Half Marathon

Yesterday, I ran The North Face Endurance Challenge Half Marathon - my first trail half (my first trail race since Cross Country in school!) I won the registration when Dean Karnazes came to do an event in June. You can't turn down free registrations - so I signed up!

Saturday was a glorious, glittering September day here in Wisconsin; however, Sunday was a cold and drizzling mud fest. Naturally, Sunday was race day. (Damn you, Murphy's Law.) Down to the last minute I considered not running, because I didn't want to risk injury on the sloppy course - but I hate backing out of things. And...I had blasted it all over Facebook and Twitter - "Race day, whoop whoop!" You can't put that up and then NOT run because its rainy and cold. Suck it up, Buttercup. 

I lined up. It wasn't pouring - somewhere between mist and drizzle. The first mile was running along the shoulder of the road, so I had no idea what was coming after that. The second I entered the next mile, it was straight up an enormous hill that curved out of sight and then went up some more. *GULP* Oh. god. What did I get myself into? I kept waiting for it to stop going up, but I'd turn a corner and run up some more. Don't get me wrong; I am no slack and I am not afraid of a challenging course. I charged up that hill. That was my mentality for the first 8 miles - 8 undulating and winding miles.

This is hard, but it won't last forever. You ain't no punk! 

At Mile 8, I decided that I officially had to pull back. The rain was coming down harder. The mud was getting thick and sloppy. The rocks were slippery and loose. A lot of the trail was sand. If you've run on sand, you know that is sucks the life out of your legs really quickly. I rolled my ankle twice on loose rocks and that was it. I decided to slow my pace from low 7s to just under 8 minute miles. Self preservation. Simply too dangerous. I had to keep reminding myself that this was not my goal race; my goal race is three weeks away and I have to stay healthy for it. 

I ran the rest of the race with two guys that had admittedly been using me as their rabbit for the whole first half of the race. (Admittedly, I LOVE when a guy uses me as a rabbit.) Our pace was comfortable enough to make small talk and help each other navigate the tricky terrain. They had done the race before and were really helpful through the last several miles.

The last two miles of the race were down straight down that first massive hill and then back down the road to the finish. I made a point to kick it in. Finish hard. I passed as many people as I could - sadly all of them were boys. I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face and a much better time than I anticipated. I ran a 1:41:40 - averaging 7:39 per mile. I was happy with that given the intentional pull-back and course difficulty. I was the 5th female (there were some beasty girls) and 21st overall. 

I would never say that I ran this "easy." It was hard. I worked hard. I am sore today. But - I am happy with the way I ran it, because I did not injure myself and I enjoyed the race. Everyone likes to play in the mud. 

Never mind my T-REX hands.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Boston Marathon Registration Realization

I know that I am not alone when I describe how excited I was to see that Boston 2014 Registration opens on September 9th. When I saw the email, I shouted out loud, "YES!" - and immediately, I felt overwhelmed. I wanted to cry. Then I did cry. For the first time since Boston, I felt an emotional connection to it - like all of the sudden I could take a deep breath - like I could finally relax. Like the whole thing was finally over and the world was moving forward.

I never really dealt with the emotional aspect of being in Boston in April. It wasn't because I was avoiding it, but because it was so surreal. You never think you'll be so close to tragedy. People ask about it all the time and I tell my version of it, but mostly, I have felt numb to the whole thing. I don't know why. Disbelief? Guilt? Survival instincts? The reasoning doesn't matter; I feel relieved! I feel excited! I cannot wait to run in April - and I think I will take my time so I can savor the celebration that is sure to take place.

My birthday is September 10th. The best gift I can give myself is an epic return to Boston in 2014.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Running Towards Authenticity: It's About To Get Real

I promise this post is about running - but it is mostly a rant about real life. It is not intended to be offensive, but a candid look at my own life.

I always have a lot of anxiety when the end of summer rolls around (remember: teacher/summer off/etc.) I'm talking actual anxiety attacks here. Tears. Tantrums. Doom and gloom. It has less to do with the fact that summer ends and much more to do with feeling like I am breaking up with my authentic self. I get to live an authentic life for a 10 week window every summer. When I have to put my selfish pursuits aside for the sake of a grown-up existence, I freak out.

I can't breathe & I'm going to vomit

I have always been introverted - preferring to work on my own, because I am an efficient and committed self-starter and I have control issues. Without the distraction of others or rules imposed by others, I can accomplish a tremendous amount. Because of that, the summer is a really productive and exciting time for me. I work as much during those ten weeks as I do during the school year, but I work on things that are mine - entirely selfish and fulfilling. My rules. My pursuits. My rap cd blaring in the background. 

Otherwise - I follow the rules that society puts in front of me. I jump through the hoops. I collect my gold stars for a job well done. I say please and thank you and pay my bills on time; however, I do it all with a skeptical eye and more than a little reluctance. I do not trust the systems that adults are forced to function within; professional beaurocracy, social hierarchies, rules for the sake of rules all make me want to die a little bit. I have a visceral reaction to the thought of abiding by a system's rules that are:
a. unnecessary  
b. inefficient  
c. corrupt  
d. demeaning
e. stagnating

I'm not trying to paint myself as a rebellious brat. I am a grown-up with a grown-up life that I have to maintain - a life that I am mostly proud of - but the 15 year old version of myself gives me the finger every time I disingenuously say "Yes, sir" to the Man, every time I trade my time for money, every time I neglect my wants and needs for something else. I think of the young version of myself and what I thought life would look like; the girl that got voted "Wildest Imagination" in school did not expect life to be so regimented and tame. I thought I would grow up to write and illustrate children's books and live happily ever after. That is still on the table. That is authentic. 

Do not marginalize your life.  

I have found some ways to navigate adulthood. I don't want to say that I bend the rules, but I do set up my own framework in all situations to make life manageable. Basically, I avoid doing a lot of things I don't want to do. I try to remember I never have to do anything. Here are a few examples that I get a fair amount of criticism for: I'm not married yet, because I don't want to be. I don't have kids yet, because a crying baby will make my ovaries shrivel. I don't engage in small talk, because it's the foundation of gossip and inefficiency. I don't eat meat, because meat had a mom. Etc. If there isn't a severe consequence and I can avoid doing something I don't want to do or some that conflicts with my values, you better believe I'll be avoiding it.

The visceral reaction I mentioned above rears its head EVERY. SINGLE. TIME I do something that conflicts with my "authentic self" or threatens my independence. Every soul-sucking time. The real version of Michelle is kinda moody, high-strung, creative, ambitious, impatient, funny and into rock & roll. She lives permanently in my mind and interjects when she can, but the Michelle that is present is the watered down version that passes for a grown-up. She is the one that puts on professional clothes, signs emails with "regards" and listens intently while someone else dictates her life. *Real Michelle shakes her head at the Drone Michelle and tells a dirty joke.* I sincerely feel like I have multiple personality disorder. 

I think it is extremely important to listen to those voices, to those feelings in your "gut," and to act on them. Or be miserable. Or numb. In that regard, running has been my savior. Running is the only time when I can be 100% authentic. In control. Honest in my dialogue. When I have to return to the world of the working, running is the sanity that gets me through it all and keeps me connected to WHO I REALLY AM.

That said - my point in all of this - I am making a commitment to myself to work on my authenticity. Running will help me get there, but it is going to require some bold moves. Stagnation is not in the cards, my friends.

One of my favorite quotes is: This ain't no side hustle. My life is no side hustle. This is it and it is what I make of it. 
Be and do what you love.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Training Revision: Ten 'Til Taper

I have made an interesting choice with my training. I'm changing it entirely. And I'm changing it near the peak of my training. *GASP* My goal race, The Lakefront Marathon, is on October 6th.

When training for my last two marathons, I have followed hybrids of traditional plans that gradually increase mileage and goal paces until peaking a few weeks out - taper - race. You know the drill. It might be completely ill-advised, but I'm doing something completely different this time. Why? Because balls to the wall.

The "plan" that I have decided to follow is of my own invention. Don't go and try to patent it, because it isn't tested and it is MINE. ;) I'm basing it on a daily mileage of TEN MILES - hence the name, "Ten 'Til Taper." I will do exactly that - I will run ten miles every day until taper while abiding by the following rules:

1. Long runs will still happen as scheduled. The day before or after a long run (not both) will be enough to equal 20+ miles for the two days. Example: Sunday long run = 16 miles. Monday run = four miles. Total = 20 miles/2 days = 10 miles/day. Got it? If you go over the 10 mile daily average, that's fine - but no less.

2. Speed work and hills must be built into the 10 miles for any given day as planned. The speed work can be done on a track, but the remaining distance must be done after the workout.

3. Easy days must be run easily. 1:30 min below race pace for a total of 10 miles.

4. Once a week, the workout can be divided into two separate runs. Example: 6 miles in the morning, 4 miles in the evening. This can be done on speed work days.

5. Cross training does not count toward mileage and should be done as scheduled in addition to daily mileage of 10 mile average. 

That is it. 70+ miles. No excuses. Speed, hills, distance included. Either this will be a genius way to end my cycle or it will fail miserably and I will feel it come race day. I'm excited to try it out, because it eliminates the question, "What is my workout today?" 

Oh - that's right - it's TEN 'TIL TAPER!  

What's the rationale behind all this? The fact of the matter is that I have some specific goals tied to the race in October. While traditional plans have been fine in the past, I need something that is going to put my training over the top. By maintaining higher mileage for the last few weeks of training before taper, I hope to develop some muscle memory and strength. I'm looking to PR in the marathon; you can't achieve new goals doing the same thing over and over. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Lace & Race - One Year "Blogiversary" and Giveaway!

Today is Lace & Race's One Year Blogiversary! YAY! I guess that means we have to PARTY!

One year ago - I started this blog with the intention of keeping me accountable with my training after the "slow champ" incident. If you're not familiar, you can get caught up with the Slow Champ story in this post, "In Search of an Impressive Run." 

So - why "Lace & Race" as a name? There's the obvious connection to running - lace up your shoes and get racing, fool! But the name kinda has a double-meaning for me. I've always toed the line between being a girly-girl and a tom-boy. Lace represents the girl in me that likes vintage skirts and rom-coms; Race is the competitive tom-boy instinct that I can't suppress. Hence Lace AND Race because I don't want to choose sides. 

And what about that saying, "You ain't no punk?" Think of it as my version of Nike's "Just do it!" The saying came to me during a particularly challenging half marathon. I was bonking at the bottom of a hill. I looked up at this daunting beast in front of me and thought those words, "You ain't no punk!" And the hill is history. I live my life by that slogan - grab all things by the horns and move forward with purpose. (Fun fact: Kanye West also likes a version of this slogan: "If you ain't no punk holla we want pre-nup!"

The year has been exciting to say the least! If I think back to this time last year, things are so different and a lot of that is because of Lace & Race. 

The biggest difference is in the people that I have met along the way. Between Twitter, Instagram, blog followers and Facebook - I have "met" so many incredible people. It's funny, because I talk to a lot of you more than I talk to my real-life friends and better yet - some of my internet friends are now REAL LIFE FRIENDS! That's so great - it's like if your childhood imaginary friends were suddenly real people. I guess that just shows the strength of the runner, fitness and wellness community. We all have so much in common that we connect in major ways - like we've been living parallel lives, so we already "know" each other pretty well. And - we understand the high level of "crazy" that this runner's life demands.

The support I have received from many of you has been invaluable. I love that I can come to my blog followers and internet friends for advice, for a good rant and especially a laugh. You've also helped me with my training and accountability. I always know I'm going to have to report my performance results to an internet audience - so you guys keep me motivated. Plus - so many of you are inspirational and extremely talented. I have sincerely learned so much from you guys. I'll stop gushing now, but you're pretty neat.

The first year of Lace & Race has been AWESOME. 
I look forward to what the next year has in store!

Here are some bloggy highlights from the last year...and a major giveaway at the bottom!

TOP 5 MOST-READ (Non-Giveaway) POSTS:
1. Runner's Savings Account $$$
2. Running Alone: Stranger Danger
3. This Marathon Will Cost You Five Pounds 
4. GI Distress: The Joys of Runners' Trots
5. 'Twas the Night Before the Marathon

1. Ran and BQ'd at my first marathon! (3:18:35)
2. Finished 2013 Boston Marathon (3:21:26)
3. The Journal Times wrote THIS wonderful article
4. Joined founding group of OlallieMKE
5. Became member of Oiselle Volee Team
1. Sun* - Eat. Host. Run. Style.
2. Sheila* - sheilawordell/roadrunner
3. Kat* - The Fit Girl's Kitchen
4. Laura* - Backstage Balance
5. Nicole* - More Beets, Please!
6. Cori - OliveToRun
7. Jen - Jen's Best Life
8. Lindsey/Glenn - Out For A Run
9. Kristy - Pittsburgh Runner
10. Lauren - Breathe Deeply and Smile
11. Kristin - Mrs. Miller's Miles 
12. Ashley - Running Bun

*denotes "net friend" turned "real life human friend"

*Disclosure: I was not compensated by any of the companies that have agreed to participate in my Blogiversary Giveaway. Products were donated. Opinions are my own.*

Enough chit-chat! Let's get to the good stuff - the FREE STUFF! I have a pretty great giveaway for you all - filled with products that I personally use and love. It is a winner-takes-all situation, so if the single winner is you, you will get all of the following items as described! Some will come directly from me, some from the generous companies that have offered to participate - so please read carefully. Continental US entries for shipping purposes please! Enter through the Rafflecopter Giveaway below.

1. ONE Sparkly Soul Headband in winner's color of choice

Sparkly Soul headbands are great! Firstly, they're cute - but also functional. These no-slip headbands were designed by athletes for athletes! *Headband will ship from Sparkly Soul.*

2. Bearded Brothers Energy Bars - Variety 4-Pack 
Bearded Brothers is one of my favorite up and coming "real food" companies. The Bros make yummy, organic, vegan, mostly raw energy bars - and they try to do it in the most sustainable way possible. I really respect their business and it helps that the bars are fantastic. In their words, they are made "with love and joy." I love the packaging, too. *Bars will ship from Lace & Race*

3. Health Warrior Chia Bars - One box in winner's flavor of choice

Health Warrior Chia Bars are another favorite energy bar of mine! The texture is incredible, if you're a texture eater. I am a huge fan of chia seeds in general - they pack a lot of punch in those little seeds. Health Warrior has several flavors to choose from, but my personal favorite is Coconut. I'm getting hungry thinking about it! *Chia Bars ship from Health Warrior*
4. Lace & Race Coffee Mug 

The winner will get one of the coveted Lace & Race coffee mugs - featuring my slogan "You ain't no punk! Go run!" I hope it will serve as a motivator every day while you sip your morning joe. *Mug ships from Lace & Race*
5. PaperMichelle Stationery  - THREE cards of winner's choosing

Last but not least, the winner will receive three cards of their choosing from my stationery shop, PaperMichelle. I know this is not running related, but I'd love to bring my two worlds together a little bit. I actually do having running cards! But come on - who doesn't like punny greeting cards? *Stationery ships from Lace & Race*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Race Recap & Training Update

On Saturday, I ran the Milwaukee Irish Fest 5K with some of my Olallie friends! We ran as a team. Going into the race, I wasn't sure how to approach it. As I mentioned in my last post, I've been having some issues with my knee and my right foot. Part of me wanted to take it easy and just enjoy the event with friends while also giving my body a break. The other part of me knows that I am too competitive to let that happen.

Fast Olallie and Oiselle girls before the race.
I lined up near the front - but I left plenty of room to keep an eye on the girls that lined up closer to the start. I assumed they'd be my competition. Whenever I run a race, I use this strategy - line up slightly behind my anticipated pace and scope out the competition - basing my opinions entirely on physique, gear and pre-race demeanor. (SCIENCE!) There were only a couple girls in front of me to check out anyway. 

The start of this race was - umm - really weird, because some random lady in the crowd started shouting the start sequence. Literally "ON YOUR MARK. GET SET. GO!" Everyone was confused. I thought it was a joke until the crowd started moving. 

Let me stop for a moment here to say I generally don't enjoy 5Ks. I would rather run a marathon any day over a 5K. I can't even really say what I dislike about them, but it probably has a lot to do with guaranteed pain for 3.1 miles worth of time. I give people a lot of credit when they run 5Ks as their preferred race distance, because a 5K is no joke if you actually race it. All of these might actually happen during a raced 5K:

My race wasn't puke or faint worthy (or death - sheesh.) The fact that I didn't really feel like puking or fainting tells me that I probably could've pushed it a little bit more - but remember - bum foot and knee demand restraint. I do a "smile test" during races of all distances, if I can still smile I am not suffering (which is good in a marathon) but I should also consider going faster. So - I did the smile test and settled in around 6:22 min/mile pace. 

I passed the girls that were in front of me - and no girls found their way back to the front of the pack. I am always expecting some girl to take it really easy and save a sizable energy reserve for a killer finish - she typically comes blazing past me in the last half mile when I am ready to trip on an imaginary crack and call it a day. This happens in every race - without fail - until Saturday. My finishing time was 19:44 - good for a *1st Place Female Overall finish. Olallie girls, you understand the asterisk.

Olallie girls collapse after a fast and hot race.
We all ended up doing pretty well - and most importantly - we had fun! If you want to see a really flattering picture of me running this race, click here. In that exact moment, I spotted the photographer and thought "Oh crap. He caught me making a face. Not a pretty face. Damn it!" All that intensity in my face is going to leave a mark and a trail of ugly race photos on the internet. 

So - that brings me to the rest of my marathon training. I have to be honest. This last week sucked for training. I took off four days entirely and the running I did get in was not great. But - I have to keep reminding myself that is all in an effort to give my knee and foot a break. The 5K did nothing for my ankle and heel; I woke up on Sunday with a swollen ankle and a nasty limp. It was so bad that I opted out of doing the Dirty Girl 5K, because obstacles with a swollen ankle sounds like a terrible idea. I was bummed.

I also missed the 20 miler that my schedule called for this past weekend. I am willing to make a lot of sacrifices, but long runs and speed work cannot be skipped during marathon training - not when there are goals on the line anyway. I ran my 20 miler today instead. It really wasn't that bad - definitely a little sore once I got home, but the run itself was fine. I ran 7:30 to 8:00 pace the whole time - averaging 7:48. I did give myself three 3 minute water/fuel stops - because I was not interested in pushing my luck today. The worst thing about the whole run: a blister from new shoes and some chafing from thighs that won't cut me a break. Such is life. All that matters is that those miles are in the books!!

How is your fall race training going??

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Over-Training - Gimme a Break!

Hi friends! I'm back from my little "recharging" trip to the woods. I needed to get away for a few days - to shut off the electronics, spend time outside and let everything slow down, quiet down for just a little while. And - wow - Wisconsin is so incredibly beautiful.

Wisconsin River, Spring Green
My body ended up needing a little bit of a rest too, so this trip was perfectly timed. On Saturday morning, I went out for a 17 mile long run - and everything went fine. But on Sunday, my left knee felt locked and my right heel felt bruised. I have no idea why either body part was mad at me - I didn't do anything out of the ordinary on my long run. 

I think two years of constant marathon training has caught up with me. 

With that in mind - I did something I haven't done in a really long time and something that makes me extremely uncomfortable: I didn't run at all during the last four days. Zero miles.

I hate that I am currently experiencing some amount of runner shame as I admit that I didn't log the miles my schedule called for. I did the opposite - I kicked my feet up (because they hurt,) read books, ate trail mix, had a beer or two and tried to keep my mind off of the fact that I wasn't running. Whenever I did think about it, I beat myself up pretty badly - but I had to keep reminding myself that I have also BEATEN MYSELF UP pretty badly by running continuously for a few years.

Over-training is a real thing. More isn't always better, especially if you don't give yourself the proper time to rest and recover. I try to pay attention to my body's needs, but the simple fact of the matter is that training is hard. Sometimes, our bodies are just like:

"HEY YOU - can you give me a break here??"

So - I did exactly that: I gave me a break. A couple days off won't derail all of the work I've put in; it will probably improve my training, because I won't risk a more serious, long-term injury. 

Don't let the imagined guilt of missing a workout stop you from taking care of yourself. You won't get off track with your training because YOU are a dedicated and competitive runner with really big and totally achievable goals - as long as you're not hurt. ;) Plus, sometimes kicking your feet up and taking in the view heals your soul a little bit. That is pretty important. 

Discuss: How do you decide when your body needs a little bit of a break from training? Do you feel guilty about taking that break?

Friday, August 9, 2013

I Run For Oiselle!

Last week, I was able to make a really exciting announcement (after a couple torturous days of waiting and nail biting:)

I run for Oiselle

That's right - this girl right here is an official part of the Oiselle Volée Team! WHOOP WHOOP! Insert a happy dance and a virtual high-five.

Within the running world, Oiselle is truly an institution; however, I know some non-runners might be asking: What is Oiselle? Let me explain. 

Oiselle is a brand of premium women's running apparel that is revered and longed for by fast ladies everywhere. "A women's running apparel brand" doesn't do justice to exactly what Oiselle is though. As a brand, they are passionate about the sport of running and the women that live their lives/achieve their goals in Oiselle gear. Their products are meant to be functional and fashionable - designed for real athletes' needs with high quality fabrics, vibrant colors and fashion-forward designs that won't hinder competitive running. Shop here.

Being a part of the Oiselle Volée Team means so much more than representing a women's running brand. This team is a carefully curated "flock" of women that believe running is a lifestyle, a philosophy and a necessity. In Oiselle's own words:

Oiselle is all about helping women run free and fast! Currently we have 150 women from across the country who represent our brand as they train and race toward their running goals. Above all, we seek teammates who - like us - see running not just as a sport, but as a life philosophy. And who are excited about bringing this energy to their own community.  
A sisterhood of strength. 

I am so excited for the first time I get to race in my Oiselle singlet - knowing that it represents my own achievements as well as my place in a sisterhood of strength. I look forward to the camaraderie and support as we race our way through the upcoming year. Birds of a feather! Meet the the rest of the Oiselle Volée Team here, with introduction from Oiselle CEO + Founder, Sally Bergesen!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Spandits! - A Review & A Giveaway

*All opinions are my own. I was given Spandits! products as part of a contest, as well as part of a review and giveaway agreement.* 

Earlier in the summer, I entered a Twitter competition to name a new fabric pattern for Spandits! - the "seriously fun, but never too bold" active apparel line out of Maine. Spandits liked the name I suggested, which means I won some gear in that pattern to test, review and giveaway! Here I am sporting "Aurora Borealis" in all of its colorful glory! So flashy!
Spandits Arm Sleeves ($25) and Headband ($8)
I don't know about you guys, but I get really bored with a lot of the spandex active apparel out there. I usually just default to black because its easy, but why not add some fun to your workout gear? I have mentioned it in the past - but I truly believe that what you wear affects your performance, because it affects how you feel about yourself. If you feel that you look colorful and fun, you are more likely to feel confident and push it to that next level.

Both stayed in place while test running them! Important! 
I tested out both products so I could give you all a fair review: thumbs up! I tend to have problems with headbands sliding off (I think my head is small???) but this one stayed in place the whole time. The arm sleeves also stayed up while I was running. The best part: I got several compliments on them in the short time I was out testing them.

Spandits has several patterns available if Aurora Borealis isn't your style. You can apply the patterns to headbands, sleeves, skull caps, tights, etc. If you want to accessorize in any way - they probably have an option for you. My favorite is the arm sleeves. I have always raced in sleeves for functional reasons, but I do think other runners see you in them are like, "Ohhh, she must be serious!" Sleeves make it easy for spectators to find you in races too - because they stand out so much, especially when they are in a "seriously fun, but never too bold" pattern! 

In other exciting Spandits news, they are looking to start an Ambassador program! If you're a Spandits super-fan, you can find more info about participating in the program here. How fun - a discount while representing a great brand!

Thanks to Spandits! and everyone that entered! Our winner is:
(Visit her blog! You won't regret it.)