Authentic Blogging- Who Do You Blog For?

Before I even begin, the answer to this question is obvious.  I blog for me.  I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t want to do this for myself.  This blog started as a way to journal my experiences as I went from party girl to triathlon girl to runner girl.  If you have been a reader from the start, you know triathlon wasn’t something I intended to do past the first race.  And I certainly never (ever ever ever) thought I would become a runner.  So yes, I blog for myself first.

But I also blog for you.

Who are you?  Well, I know some of you have been here for a very long time.  Some of you, I knew before my blog.  Some I have met through blogging.  I have stayed in some of your homes and I have raced races with a few of you.  Some of you come only when I have a give-a-way (which is almost never) and some of you are brand new.  Some comment once in a while and some on almost every post.  I write for all of you.  For whatever reason you come here- because you relate to me, need swimming advice, think I am funny, because you want to know how my latest race went or because you know me in real life.  I write for all of you.

Being an authentic blogger is tough.  This is one of the issues I have struggled with most in my own writing.  Not that I feel as though I am not authentic, because I truly believe I am very real.  It is more like the struggle to make sure my blogging is personal, relevant and real all at the same time.  I don’t want to blog about the same things all the time or post a list post simply because I am not sure what I have to say on a certain day.  I want every post to really mean something.  There was a time when I did not come first in my blogging and it was obvious.  And I had to stop.  Having been back writing again, I feel really good.  Yet, I still have days where I struggle with “where do I want to go with this post” or “has this been done too many times already” or “will this matter when I look back on it” when I am thinking about my topics.

When I first started blogging, I had been reading Healthy Living blogs for about a year.  They weren’t nearly all the rage they are these days, but then again, neither were running blogs.  In fact, it was hard to find a good running blog.  The ones I was finding were written by people who were “real” runners and I was just trying not to fall off the treadmill for a mile straight.  One of the main reasons I started a blog was because I wanted to find other people like me.  I have always been a writer but I was so new to triathlon and running.  I figured I would keep a blog as a journal and if I were lucky, I would find other people doing the same thing.  Little by little people did start reading…caring…asking…about me.  It was surreal.  And I loved it.

Gradually, I formed friendships, participated in blog meet-ups and even ran this race with one of the very first people I ever communicated with through blogging.  I really loved blogging.  Then something changed.  With the blog world, with me…in general, I guess.  Running blogs got really big.  Healthy Living blogs had already blown up and now running blogs were too.  Suddenly, some of the blogs I had been reading for years became immersed in ads, give-a-ways and shilling products.  I felt left out and so for a while, I tried harder.  Even though some of the posts that were written during that time are some of my favorites, I am not proud of myself for trying to be someone I am not.  Often I was posting because I felt like I had to, not because I wanted to.  I was not always authentically blogging.

When I stopped blogging (I truly believed I would never blog again) it was because I needed to remove myself from feeling like I couldn’t keep up.  With how much I had going on in my life at that time, I just needed to back away.  When I decided to come back to blogging, I knew I would do it only if I could go back to how it was in the beginning.  Blogging for me first, then for my audience.  These days, most of my old readers don’t follow me.  That’s ok.  I know the ones that do and have been with me for so long are my friends and I am welcoming new readers every day.  I would rather have 10 solid readers who respect what my blog and come here for the right reasons than have to keep up with trends to keep hundreds of readers.

Here is what you will always get on my blog: Real Jillian.  A middle of the pack runner that knows her place in the world.  A regular girl who lives a pretty regular life and likes to document it in this blog.  Reviews only when it is a product I use, like and believe in and a possible give-a-way now and then.

Here is what you will never get on my blog:  product shilling, a boatload of ads, 35 rules to enter a give-a-way or in your face requests to follow me, re-tweet my posts or subscribe to my blog.

You come here for a reason.  If you didn’t like what you read, you wouldn’t.  I know from my stats that this blog gets quite a bit of traffic and people are reading.  I would rather have 5 genuine comments than 200 insincere ones.  I feel like if my blog was full of ads paying me to blog, my posts would become less authentic.  I would be blogging for traffic and not for me.  I would be forced to recommend, through ads and posts, products I don’t use or like.  I like my free not-so-big blog and I love the places blogging has taken me and the people I have met.   The blog is evolving but I am going to remain true to who I am.  Always.  That is my promise to myself and my readers.  The blog isn’t perfect, but it is mine.

What does authentic blogging mean to you?  Who do you blog for?

Winner, Winner & What’s In My Gym Bag?

Found out yesterday that I was the winner of Kim’s knock-knock give-away 🙂

I love the knock-knock stuff and could really use this after the past month I have had, so I was double excited!  What a great way to start off a Monday morning!  And a great reason to check my mail 🙂

Recently, Nicole posted that she would need some help with what to pack in her gym bag.  I realized when listing my items…mine might be a little ridiculous!  I use a simple ADIDAS bag; it is usually stuffed with little room for anything else.  No wonder it is so heavy!!!!  The thing is, I get ready at the gym so often (sometimes for work, sometimes for after work, sometimes on weekends) that I had to buy double of the important things to have when getting ready.  It just became too much of a nuisance to keep packing and unpacking.  And it was beyond frustrating when I would forget something; especially if it was something I couldn’t be without.

In my gym bag-

Main Part-

  • Extra socks, underwear, a regular bra and sports bras.  Pretty much the worst ever when you forget to pack those!
  • Sliders to wear in the shower.  I would rather go to work like a sweaty pig then dare step in a gym shower without shoes.
  • Hair-dryer and flat iron.  I wouldn’t subject anyone to what my hair looks like without them.
  • Lotion.  Big bottles. Two of them; in case one runs out.  Because I am obsessed with lotion.
  • Towels.  I forgot my towels once.  I dried off with a single t-shirt that I luckily had in my bag.  It was not fun.  I never forgot towels again.
  • Change of clean clothes.  Bet you had that one guessed.

Side pocket-

  • Hair ties.  At least 342 of them.
  • Shower needs: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, razor.  You aren’t supposed to shave in the gym showers.  But since the rules about walking around naked in the locker room and sitting on the benches without a towel get broken all the time by women who have disgusting hygiene, then I figure what is the big deal if I shave my legs in the shower?
  • Small bottles of lotion.  Listen, I said I was obsessed.
  • Deodorant.  I try not to smell.
  • Advil.  If I have a headache and plan to go from work to the gym, I won’t go.  But in the time it takes for Advil to kick in, my commute from work to the gym is over and I am ready to work out!
  • Gas-X.  Why more people don’t take this before running, I will never understand.
  • Make-up.  Sometimes, I get fancy.

Other side pocket-

  • Goggles, swim cap and fins.  I don’t like any of my swim stuff to touch anything that is non-swimming.  Oh, to be so Type-A.


Ok- so fess up!  Are you an over-packer?  Do you use a gym bag at all?  Pack and re-pack or have doubles of things?

Do You Believe Finishing Is Winning?

As you all know, this blog supports any and all swimmer/bikers/runners.  Regardless of your speed, distance or anything else…if you put yourself out there, I consider you a winner!  If you support the idea that Finishing is Winning, and you are one of the first 15 to tell me, I will send you this…

That’s right, my very own sticker!  Thanks to Megan at Build-A-Sign that provides custom bumper stickers!  Megan contacted me earlier last month and asked me if I would be interested in making a car sticker.  Self promote?  I was all about it!  From beginning to end, Megan was great to work with.  I am not exactly the most creative person and I seem to have problems with anything technical.  But Megan was eager to help and I was able to get a sticker made up.  I love the final product!  Megan was kind enough to send me 25 total stickers so that I could give some away to my friends 🙂

If you love the final product, support Finishing is Winning and want to sport one of these awesome stickers, let me know!  Email me @ Jillyfly81 at comcast dot net.  I suck at getting to the post office (just ask Lindsay) but I promise I will get them to you before…well, lets not give me another deadline to screw up.  Just trust me, you will get them!

Hands Down Winner…

I think everyone would agree, that all my MBE* did a great job with their poems (if you haven’t read them, I encourage you to do so) but there can only be one winner and that award goes to the talented new artist Lindsay Pie-Dizzle.  Check out her 2010 re-cap featuring some amazing bloggers 🙂

And if you are wondering…she already has an agent. Me. And her agent is attending the Grammys with her.  So everyone back off.


The prize will be mailed out post-holiday season 🙂

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

Woooo-hoooo; I have been a winning machine lately!

First, I won this awesome Chocolate prize pack from Paige:

The very next day I found out I was the winner of Suzy’s give-a-way and won me some of this:

And then I won Jill’s give-a-way and scored these:

Additionally, I recieved the following tags whilst on vacation 🙂

Indi and Kim both tagged me for the Happy 101 award:

The rules are to name 10 things that I like, and then pass along to 10 bloggers.

  • Wildwood Crest, NJ- my home away from home
  • Flipping my pillow over to the “cold” side- anyone else do this?
  • Vanilla flavored milk- makes my coffee perfect!
  • The Phillies- ♥ them!
  • Homecooked Meals- really, there is nothing like it!
  • Scrapbooking- I am working on a running/tri one right now.
  • Getting a magazine in the mail- always nice to get something other than a bill!
  • Wine- ’nuff said!
  • When my clothes are still warm from the dryer- best feeling, especially in winter
  • Unexpected blessings- they happen all the time, you just have to look!

And Jamoosh tagged me in the Cherry On Top Award:

Answer this question: If you had the chance to go back and change one thing in your life, would you and what would it be?

Is it cheating if I say nothing?  Cause honestly, I have always felt like if I changed one thing, no matter how big or how small the experience, it would change everything.  And I don’t think it would be worth it.  However, if I could change things out of my control…if I could change that Jimmy died, I would- I still have yet to find a reason why that had to happen.

Thanks for the tags everyone!  I hope September is being good to you- I have moved in, school has started and after this weekend down the shore things will be getting back to normal!  I hate when summer ends, but I do like being on a routine.  I am slowly catching up on my reader too!

PS: If you haven’t yet checked out my BOMF donation page, please do.  The link is in my sidebar.  This is a charity near and dear to me.  Any amount helps!

Yurbuds Review & Give-a-way!!!

Hank, from Yurbuds™ contacted me and asked me if I was interested in trying out a pair of custom fit yurbuds.  Their company has been featured in Inc. Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, CNBC, CNET, Wired and Laptop among many others.  You can check out their website here.

What is a yurbud?  Basically, a yurbud is a silicone rubber cover that fits over your existing iPod buds, or any other similarly shaped earbud.  But what makes them different?  Well, each pair is fitted just for you!  Or me in this case 🙂

As soon as I got the email I was on board.  Basically, I wrote Hank with: Yes yes yes! 

Here’s the thing…I hate earbuds and have yet to find a pair that actually fit.  They fall out or if I finally manage to get them in, they either hurt or eventually I begin to sweat and they get gross and fall out.  For a while I was wearing the huge headphones that wrapped over my ear until I finally just gave up and started running without music.  But I like running with music, especially on the treadmill. 

The same night I got the email, I went home and my mom and I took some pictures of my ear with a quarter next to it.  This is one of the ways they configure a custom fit.  I emailed the photos over to Hank and within a few days the Yurbuds were in my mailbox.  I was impressed with the cloth packaging and that they came with a set of earbuds for the yurbuds to slip over.  The note included encouraged me to try my Yurbuds out while doing different activities…

And they even stayed in during a cartwheel!

At $30 a pair, they are an investment and had I not been given the opportunity to try them out, I don’t know if I ever would have bought them.   Now that I have tried them, I am hooked.  My opinion of the Yurbuds is that they are worth their price tag because I have spent way more than that in the past just trying to find a pair I like to no avail. 

The best thing about Yurbuds is how much more comfortable they are than any other earbuds I have ever used prior.  And even better than that…THEY STAY IN!  No kidding, they never moved!  I didn’t even know they were there- it was so nice and so much better than any other earbud I have ever used prior.  You can see in the photo below- they even look comfortable!

My one and only complaint is that because they get so far into your ear canal, you have to play with the volume control; the first time I wore them, I obviously had it too loud because my ears rang for a quite a time after.  So caution, start out on low volume!

My overall experience with Yurbuds was positive from start to finish; Hank was polite and the company was efficient.  I enjoyed trying them out and cannot wait to wear them on my long runs that are fast approaching.  I would recommend a purchase from Yurbuds if you are looking for a quality solution to earbud issues.    

Now…for the give-a-way…

Hank @ Yurbuds is giving me THREE pairs of Yurbuds to give-a-way.  Once chosen, each winner will receive a free pair of personally sized yurbuds through a gift certificate code they can redeem online.

How to enter:

  1. (Mandatory for entry) Tell me in a comment why you want to win.  How would Yurbuds would make your life easier?  Do you wear an IPOD when you run?  For daily activities?
  2. (Extra entry)  Post this give-a-way on your blog.  Let me know that you did. 
  3. (Extra entry)  If you previously commented on my Full Disclosure post, I am giving you an extra entry to show my appreciation for all your kind words.

I try to keep it as simple to enter as possible, cause that is how I like my give-a-ways!  You have three chances to win and there will be three winners!  (Three is my favorite number by the way!)  

This give-a-way will close on Wednesday, August 18, 2010 at midnight.  All three winners will be picked by random generator.  The winners will be announced Thursday, August 19, 2010.  GOOD LUCK 🙂


*This product was sent to me free for the purpose of review.  Additionally, the Yurbuds for give-a-way were provided by the company, free of charge.

Busy, Busy, Busy…Ice Cube Swim and Give-A-Way Winner

Mish-mosh post 🙂

I am soooooooo busy these next coming weeks, looking at my calendar makes my head spin!!!  I actually love being busy, and I have a lot to look forward to but when I look at it all together I start to wonder how I am ever going to get everything done!  I really think June is the busiest month EVER!  So far June is packed with a 7th grade trip to Great Adventure, 8th grade trip to Dorney Park and the 8th grade dinner dance all of which I chaperone.  I also have a bridal shower and two weddings.  And I still need a dress (I HATE dress shopping…HATE) for one of the weddings.  (No, I cannot wear the same dress to both.)  I have a 5-mile race, I’ll be in A.C. for a friends birthday one weekend and the next weekend I’ll be volunteering for a tri.  Whew.  Exhausted just typing all that!

But let’s back up…May isn’t even over yet.  I still have a race this weekend in the Poconos, Memorial Day Weekend festivities and a tri that I am volunteering for!  And speaking of my weekend in the Poconos…water temp is currently 58!  58!!  HOLY COLD WATER BATMAN!  I have a neoprene swim cap which will be a huge help but my wetsuit is sleeveless…ouch!  And although my friend is bringing me her long-sleeved one, I think I would rather freeze than panic.  I just don’t feel comfortable in the long sleeves.  Oh, and I never knew they made neoprene booties, but apparently they do because one of my teammates asked me today if I had a pair or knew someone my size who had a pair.  I was like “I don’t know that many people my size or anyone that owns neoprene booties!”  Let’s just hope I don’t turn into a horizontal ice cube. 

After tomorrow morning, I am off until Sunday.  I’ll be back with a Black Bear race report, M.B.E, P.T. update and another post griping about The Biggest Loser.  So stay tuned 🙂

Now…for the winner of my Pay-It-Foward Give-A-Way!  I entered the participants into the Random Generator and the winner is…………

 LARA @ Saturday Morning Zen

Lara is paying it forward to her sister.  Her sister is going through a tough time and making a big decision in her life; she is new to running and finding it (as most of us do) to be her sanity.  I really wish I could afford to pay it forward to everyone- I loved all your thoughtful stories and wanted everyone to win!  Lara- email me your sisters name/address so I can get the subscription out to her!

That’s all for now…hope you all have a great Friday and fun weekend…anyone racing??

Pay It Forward Give-A-Way With A Twist!

Up until two days ago, I had a scratch off ticket in my purse from Christmas (yes, from Christmas!!) that was worth a $3 prize.  I finally cashed it in and on a whim, I bought another one for $5.  I am not a big gambler, and in my entire life, I have bought only a handful of scratch offs so this is not a common thing for me.  But guess what…I won $25!!!!

So you are probably like “Blah blah blah” right??  Where am I going with this and where the hell is the give-a-way???

Well, I want to pay some of my winnings forward (I like good karma rating, what can I say!)…

So I give you…

The Pay It Forward Give-A-Way With A Twist 🙂

The prize: A one year subscription to Runner’s World Magazine.

The twist: You enter for someone else to win 🙂

How to enter: Leave a comment here with the name of the person you will Pay It Forward to if you win and tell me why you picked this person.  Additionally, you must email me the name and address of the person you are entering for (email on sidebar).  Please use subject line ‘RW magazine’ when emailing. 

Give-A-Way closes one week from today, Thursday, May 20 @ 6am EST.  Winner will be chosen by random generator and announced later that same day. 

Have fun and goooood luck 🙂