Book Review- The Ultimate Runner

A few months ago, Amy Hunold-Van Gundy from the Runners Lounge asked me to review The Ultimate Runner; a new book her and blog partner Tom Green were putting out. 

It took me a while to read the book because I have been so busy and zonking as soon as my head hits the pillow at night.  But I finally finished!

The Ultimate Runner is a Chicken Soup for the Soul type-book filled with feel-good stories for runners of all levels.  While this book is aimed at the runner, it would be a good read for all athletes alike. 

The book is broken into chapters, each with a set of stories.  My favorite chapter is Running For A Greater Cause and my favorite story is Breaking Your Own Tape.  The book also has a section in the back about Need to Know Info.  This includes training schedules, stretches and more. 

I would recommend this book to any athlete but most definitely to a runner.  I will also return to it from time to time, either for a motivational pick me up or for help with my own training. 

Have you read this book?  If so, what was your favorite story? 

Picking It Up And Taking It Running!

Earlier this week, in this post, I wondered about where Runner’s Lounge went with their TiaRT.  I mentioned how I really missed it and Lindsay suggested I pick it up and start my own TiaRT. 


But I need your help!

I can’t, for obvious reasons, use the name Take it and Run Thursday as it does belong to them.  Sooo….what should I call it??  I am so not creative when it comes to this kind of stuff so I am counting on all of your creative juices to help me out! 

Here are some things to think about:

  • I would prefer to either post this on a Monday or a Thursday
  • I want to keep it in a question format. 
  • I want it to be about both running AND triathlon, as well as nutrition and various forms of activity (Pilates, yoga…etc).
  • The idea is the same basically; I will put out a question for others to answer on their blogs and of course, I would also answer it myself.  The following week, before presenting the new question post, I will link all the blogs that commented the previous weeks answer. 
  • It will begin next Thursday, March 25, 2010.

What I loved best about TiaRT is that it connected me to so many different blogs, and I would like to continue that for those who are always on the search for good reads 🙂 

Is this something you would be interested in? 

If you want to submit a name/idea simply leave it in a comment below. 🙂


I am taking suggestions through Monday when I return from Virginia Beach.  I’ll pick my top favorites and put them out for a bloggie vote!  And there WILL be a prize for the winning name/idea 🙂

Injury Report, Baby Steps, Ab Challenge, The Madness and Random Thoughts

Warning: This post is all over the place!

Happy Monday!  Hope everyone is enjoying their Daylight Savings!  I know I am happy it is finally here (even if it is messing up my sleep schedule) and that we will be having longer and lighter days!  It has been a rainy mess the last few days but on the positive side…it’s not snow!!!

PiF Update: 166.8 miles confirmed 🙂  What a wonderful thing we are all doing together to help a great cause!  Thanks again for taking the few seconds to come here and dedicate your miles.  And an extra thanks to those shouting it out on your blogs; only 33.2 more miles until I hit my goal of 200 total miles in one week!  Keep ’em coming- it’s on until Wednesday!

Injury Report:  On Friday I was cleared from my crutches.  Woo-Hoo!  And yesterday I went to the gym.  Woo-Hoo times two! 

So here’s the deal- I am cleared to workout very lightly.  Basically stationary bike only right now.  Probably the elliptical by the end of this week and  I should be in the pool by the end of  next week.  As for running, who knows.  Everything really depends on both my follow-up MRI and my progress in PT.  I am following everything to a T; still going to ART three times a week and PT two days a week.  I have seen/felt a remarkable difference, so I know what I am doing is working.  I wouldn’t go as far to say I feel good, because I am still very aware of the pain.  I can say I feel better though because the pain is not as severe nor as constant. 

And about those baby steps…Sunday, I did ten minutes on the stationary bike.  Doesn’t seem like a lot but considering I have nothing but some ab work in the books for March, this is huge.  It is the first step to getting back to my normal workouts.  And even though it was only ten minutes…ten very slow minutes…it was still something.  I also got back to lifting which felt great.  I could have been lifting all along, but there was no way I was going into the gym on crutches because that just would have felt ridiculous.  My total workout was less than 40 minutes but I was just happy to be burning calories again!

Speaking of burning calories, Katie is holding an abs challenge!  This works out great for me as I am doing my own year long challenge- yeah for extra motivation!  I really realllllllllly want a six-pack (I would even settle for a four-pack) by summertime. 

I’ll take these abs please…

Want your abs to be kick ass??  Go check out Katie’s challenge!


In news that has nothing to do with working out but is still sports related…THE MADNESS HAD BEGUN!! 

March Madness is here and I am in love!  My team, the UNC Tarheels, did not bother to show up this season so I am going to be rooting only for the teams that I have in my pool.  And sometimes that is tough because it requires me to root for teams I dislike (Michigan State, Kentucky and Georgetown).  I think it would be great if Villanova won, since they are the home team, but I don’t think they have the size to get very far.  Of course, as always Duke got special treatment (really…ahead of Syracuse…reallllly???) and has the easiest bracket.  Other than Nova, they really don’t have too much competition, so it is a small possibility that Nova could get to the Final Four.  But who knows.  This had been one of the toughest brackets I ever filled out but I am really looking forward to this years tournament because with big teams (UNC, UCONN, UCLA, Memphis) missing this really could be anyone’s year.  I think Kansas is the clear “easy-choice” winner but it won’t be made easy for them.  If they get past Syracuse, I think they have it.  But like I said…it is anyone’s game to win or lose.  And I expect a lot of twists and turns.  And don’t worry about my Tarheels…next year, they will be back.  And by back, I mean back on top!

Do any of you follow NCAA basketball?  If so, do you have a special team?


And before I go, some random thoughts…

Why are there still people without a Road ID???  Last year, a PA woman was killed by a tree; she was not carrying any I.D. and she went unidentified for three days.  She was identified eventually because the news placed a photo of the shirt she was wearing on T.V.  That is how her family found out about her death.  I am sure this is not a singular case, yet still so many people do not have an I.D.  If you are one of those people…please buy a Road ID.  Not tomorrow…not in a week…now.  Don’t wait for another give-a-way.  Don’t wait until it is too late.  There are many different options; you can pick your color, the type you want (ankle, wrist, shoe…etc) and how much info you wish to share.  They start at only $19.99.  Go now.  Buy it. 

Whatever happened to TiaRT? Am I missing something because I used to love and look forward to this every Thursday and it has been MIA since the end of the blogger guest appearances.  If you are interested in what mine was, go here.  Yup, shameless plug!  Anyway, my point is, I miss it and I want it back!

Like I said, this was a random all over the place post!  Thanks to all my readers who are sticking with me while I am injured!  I know non-tri & non-running talk can get boring but hopefully I am keep you plenty entertained with Q&A’s and randomness like this.  And for you who are new to Tri’s, stay tuned for a Swim 101 post with information about beginner swimming and swim training!

TiaRT- What’s Your Race Style?

This weeks TiaRT comes from Joanna at Morning Runner and she asks: What is your favorite race?  Do you live for the marathons or crave a 5k?  Would you rather race in the morning, afternoon, or at night?  Do you like big races with tons of people and encouraging crowds or do you prefer the smaller hometown races?

My favorite races: 

Road: Broad Street 10 Miler in Pa, Philadelphia Distance Run (13.1)

Triathlon: Philly Women’s Triathlon.

My favorite distance:

Road:  I really like running 1/2 marathons but my favorite distance is 10 miles.  To me, it is the perfect amount of miles.

Triathlon: The sprint distance is the only one I have competed in, but I really do like it.  This year I will be doing an Olympic distance race, so I guess I will know then which I prefer.

My favorite race time:

Road and Triathlon: I like early races.  For one, it is not too hot and for two I am awake and ready to go.  Of course, with that said, a 9am race would be nice every now and again.

My favorite size race:

Road:  While I do prefer larger races, honestly the size doesn’t really matter to me.  As far as spectators, I like it to be parrallel with the distance; for instance, if it is a small race, then I don’t expect a whole lot of people but if it is a half-marathon then I do expect a lot of people. 

Triathlon:  Even though it makes for a crowded swim, I really like the bigger races when it comes to triathlon.  In my experience, the bigger races are better organized and are just more fun in general.

TiaRT- Why Run?

This weeks question comes from MCM Mama and she asks:   We’ve all discussed why we run, but why do you RACE and how do you choose which races to run?  Do you look for certain distances, swag, location, start time, or something else?  Tell me how you decide where and when to race.

Why I Race: After some not so stellar races last year, I really began to question why I race.  I am clearly no Chrissie Wellington or Kara Goucher and this will never be my full time job, but for me…racing is doing something bigger than myself.  Each time I race, especially at the big ones (Philly, Baltimore, CGI…etc) I think about how amazing it is that so many people are together at the same time doing something so awesome.  I race to feel accomplished and I race to be a part of something I believe in which is the healthy and active lifestyle.  I may come in at the back of the pack, I may never break a 9/minute mile and I can assure you I will never get to Kona…but somewhere out there, someone is inspired by me.  And that keeps me racing.

How I Choose My Races:  A variety of factors go into why I choose the races I participate in.

  • Location:  I choose the majority of my races by where they are located.  For the most part, I pick races that are within driving distance and that do not require a hotel stay.  When choosing races outside of those parameters I focus on places I would like to visit so that I can make it a mini-vacation. 
  • Race Directors: This is vital when picking triathlon races.  The triathlon race directors can make or break a race, therefore I do research the races and take feedback from other atheletes seriously.  For example, I will always race with CGI but you will never find me at a Danskin race.
  • Swag: I will admit it, I am a swag whore. I love it.  I have a collection of shirts, hats and gear that are all mine for simply going out and doing something I love. That is a win in and of itself.
  • The people: With the exception of Baltimore which I chose and ran without any friends, all of my races have in some way been chosen through discussions with others who are doing the same race.  Being on a team means that most of the time we race the same races, and I really love seeing my teammates on the course, so I will pick them at times based on who else is racing.  Likewise, my friends who are not on my team who also run are good motivators for race choices.  In 2010, three of my races are road trips with friends which makes racing that much more fun!
  • Charity: I want to know that my money is going somewhere.  Sure, I have picked races before that donate to charities I normally would not on my own, but I do look for races that directly support charities I believe in and would donate to regardless. 
  • The Calendar: I work full time and go to school so my schedule is pretty jam packed.  I race most from May-Sept when school is out of session and in the months when school is in session I try to plan around exam weeks and etc.  I focus more on running in the Spring and Fall while the Summer is more focused on Triathlon.  I do like to plan my races in advance, especially the 1/2marathons and triathlons, but I will pepper in smaller races as they pop up just for fun. 

MCM Mama also asked for race suggestions because she is looking to run in all 50 states (AWESOME) so I would like to personally suggest the Broad Street 10 mile run in Philadelphia or my most recent race, Baltimore.  To date, those are my favorite running races 🙂


TiaRT- Follow The Yellow Brick Road

This weeks TiaRT comes from Melanie.  She asks:  Scarecrow asked for a Brain, Tin Man for a Heart, and Lion for Courage.  If you could meet the Wizard of Running and ask for anything, what would it be? When your wish was granted, how would your travels down the Yellow Brick Road of running be different?

I thought long and hard about this and what I realized is this: I have a laundry list of things I would like to have to make my triathlon/running experiences different.  And by different, I mean better of course!  At any rate, I narrowed it down to the one that I think would change everything…and then I threw one in for fun cause, well…I am fun 🙂

Breathe In…Breathe Out…– if I could ask for anything from the Wizard of Running (let’s pretend he is also the wizard of Triathlon) it would be the ability to be more relaxed on race day.  From the minute I wake up on a race day I am a ball of nerves.  The worst part is that being so anxious usually affects my confidence level.  The joke with my teammates is that if they see me on the race course they yell “you’re in not last place” because I get so worked up about what I cannot do that I forget all of the things I CAN do.  I start to think about all the things that could go wrong and way in the back of my head is the lingering fear of failure.  Judging purely on last week’s race, I know that when I am relaxed (ok I was still anxious, but certainly not as much as usual) I have a lot more fun.  And really, racing should be fun.

Longer Legs Please…– if it were possible (and since we are talking about wizards, it might be) I would want longer legs.  My whole life I have been short and if I could change anything it would be to have longer legs (um, and thinner thighs).  I feel like I have to work twice as hard because my legs are so little and lets face it…finding a good pair of running pants is a bitch!  Yeah, in my next life I want to be 5’7 and (since we are making wishes)I want to look like this girl:

gouch35’7 and fab abs to go with it…I’ll take it!

TiaRT- Yoga For Dummies

This weeks TiaRT comes from Kitzzy: Tell us about your experience with yoga as it relates to running.

In truth, her question is much more involved (and actually a question) but the truth is, Yoga doesn’t really apply to me as it relates to running.  However, Yoga does relate to me in the following ways:

  • Falling– for athletic as I am, coordination is not my thing.  Right from the beginning of my first class I was falling all over the place, making a complete fool of myself.  Every time I went to yoga it was a one woman circus and I was the star of the show.
  • Farting– I don’t know what it is about yoga that makes me want to fart, but it’s like my body reserves all it’s gas for exactly the time in between when yoga begins and ends.  And it isn’t just me- girls whether you admit it or not you ALL fart and I would bet you have all let it go in yoga.  And that is precisely the problem- I have the maturity of a five year old when it comes to farting (I am even hysterical as I write this) and laugh the entire class.  Whereas many of the people ignore all the gas passing, I crack up.  This prohibits the whole relaxation thing, thereby defeating the purpose.
  • Sleeping– As ridiculous as the falling is and as funny as the farting is…falling asleep is just plain embarrassing.  The last time I went to yoga, I fell asleep in the child pose.  Not like dosed off…like I woke up and everyone was in a different pose.  I promptly grabbed my stuff and left.   And if you noticed, I said it was the LAST time I went to yoga.

So yeah, Yoga is a no-no for me.

TiaRT- Sponsored By: Yours Truly!

Yeah! This was my week to sponsor the TiaRT question over at The Runners Lounge!!! I am really exicted to see all of your answers and I am looking forward to meeting some new readers/writers through this project. 

My question was: You get to run the last six miles of your next marathon with 6 different people.  They can be dead or alive; famous or not famous.  Who are these people and why did you pick them?  Furthermore, why did you pick them for the specific mile you did?  Remember, you get an extra .2 miles with runner #6.

I have been thinking about this answer for quite some time now but have narrowed it down to my six (kind of, and you’ll see what I mean by that as you read).  I should also note…while I think she is amazing and would have added her if I had more choices, I might be the only person who doesn’t have Kara Goucher on the list.

Mile 21- Burt Yasso–> he pretty much has the best job ever and has had some of the most amazing experiences of all time.  I met him once and he was the most laid back cool dudes.  By mile 20 I think I am going to need a serious pick-me-up and I know he would force me to bust my ass.  Plus, I would probably get a good story or two out of him as well.  As an added bonus, maybe I could talk him into getting me a job at Runner’s World ;).

Mile 22- All my blog friends–> I know this is WAY more than one person (but it’s my question, so I can cheat!) but I could never pick just one.  You all have our own stories and I am inspired by each and every one of you.  I look forward reading about all your races, the ups and downs (I like the ups better!) and advice.  I would have this blog even if I had only one reader, but I sure am glad to have all of you 🙂 I have a few blogger meet-ups planned for future 2009 races and I hope I can meet more of you in 2010!

Mile 23- Sandy and Tessa–> these were my beloved doggies growing up (I also had a dog Bandit, but I was too young to really remember her) and I still miss them both terribly.  Both of these dogs loved to run and I wish I had them now to run with me.  They, while very different in personality, were both the best dogs ever.  They look a lot like Aron’s dog’s, Kylie and Emma and they often remind me of them too. 

Mile 24- Ryan Shay–> The sky that was his limit, is now his home.  In short, this would give him another chance to run and it would give me a chance to run with one of the greatest runners of all time. Ryan Shay; a life cut tragically short.  Every time I run 5.5 miles, I think of Ryan. 

Mile 25- Chrissie Wellington–> I don’t really get all hyped-up about famous people, but I am in straight awe of Chrissie.  Teammates of mine have been given their medals to them by her and it is the #1 reason I want to do the Timberman 70.3, for the chance to meet her even for only a few words/moments.  I am inspired by her and I admire her.  She came into the sport and took it over, but without ego which I highly respect.  Although by mile 25 I would probably be falling apart, I would kick it into serious gear if Chrissie was there with me.

Mile 26 (+.2)- My Mom and Dad–> I could never choose between them.  Neither of them are runners (my mom is a “walker girl” as we like to say!) but they are my biggest fans and supporters.  They come to as many races as they can, listen to hours of triathlon/running talk and most importantly, support every goal I set for myself.  I would love for them to know the feeling of crossing the finish line.

Here is My Slideshow that accompanied my question.  Warning: it plays music, so if you are at work or being sneaky, turn off your volume!

Thanks to all of those who participated- and if you haven’t yet, it is never too late…I believe you can take it and run any day you want!


TiaR-WDIW….huh, what????

Clearly, when it comes to doing TiaRT on time, I have recently been a FAIL.  So I bring to to you- Take it and Run- Whatever Day I Want!

This weeks questions is from Lindsay at Chasing the Kenyans.  She asks: whether training for a specific race or just running for the fun of it, we all experience the ups and downs of running. what do you do to get yourself motivated to run when it feels like it’s the last thing you want to do?

Honestly, I don’t really “run for fun”.  Sure, I think running is fun, but I generally don’t do it for that reason.  I keep myself focused on my race schedule to keep me motivated for training.  I have a feeling that if I didn’t have a race to train for, I wouldn’t run as much, or often, as I do currently.  That doesn’t meant I don’t have down days, it just means I get over myself quicker when it comes to getting it done!

Excuses I often have for not wanting to run:

  • I want to sleep in.
  • I want to go out the night before.
  • It is too hot, too cold or too not perfect weather for me.
  • Too much else to do.

Why I run anyway:

  • Accountability.
  • I know once I am out there I will feel better.
  • I know once I am done I will be glad I started.
  • That schedule that stares me in the face on my fridge.

Things I do if I am struggling:

  • Create a new playlist- new music, new attitude.
  • Buy new clothes/gear- if I have something new, I look forward to wearing/using it.
  • Remembering my goals- knowing why I am training in the first place.
  • Rest- sometimes it is the only answer.

It isn’t always easy, especially recently with marathon training which at times has felt daunting, but I get out there and do the miles because I want to be the best I can be.  Without the training, I cannot be at my best; therefore, whether I want to or not (unless I need the rest) I get out there and run.  Regardless if I want to sleep in, or go out the night before…regardless of the weather or what else I have to do; I remember why I am out there and what it is all for. And then it is worth it.  Up day or down day, the run is always worth it!

Here is a pic of me from this morning.  Getting up at 630am on vacation wasn’t top priority, but getting the miles in was, therefore I got up, sucked up my desire for sleep and ran 6+ miles.  And when it was all said ran and done, I was happy with my miles and time.

shore 062Getting ready for a run down the shore.

Yeah, I Am A Rebel

I am doing my TiaRT on a Friday.  I like to get crazy sometimes, what can I say!

Recently Runners Lounge asked bloggers to submit questions; each week a different chosen blogger will ask a question (mine is coming in a few weeks- shameless plug!).  This weeks question is from  Marlene! She asks:

When did you know you had become a runner? Was there a defining moment, or was it a gradual progression over time?

I struggled with calling myself a runner or a triathlete for a while and I would always get uncomfortable when someone would refer to me with the statement “she runs” or “she is a triathlete.”  I always felt like I had to back it up with amazing stats that didn’t exist.  I felt like I needed to be a winner to give myself the title of runner or triathlete.  That is, until I had my revelation: Finishing is Winning.  No matter where I fall on the results list, I still swam, biked and ran the same miles as everyone else in the race.  And I have the T-shirts and medals to prove it!!

A few other indications when I knew I had become a runner/triathlete:

  • I WANTED to run/bike.  Swimming was never a problem and I always chose it over running and biking when it came to training.  When I started choosing to run and bike I knew something in me had changed.
  • When my bedtime became that of a pre-schooler because it was important to sleep well before an early morning training session.  Not too many years ago 4am was the time I came home and now it is the time I get up.
  • I traded my high heels for sneakers.  I get WAY more excited about new sneakers than I do new heels. I would prefer to buy new sneakers over new heels as well.
  • I was okay with using a porta-potty. And did it often.
  • I would rather spend my money on new workout clothes than any other kind of clothing.
  • I knew the definitions of brick and ringer.
  • I began eating things like GU, blocks and beans.
  • I started to plan much of my social life around training; not planning my training around my social life.
  • My magazine subscriptions included: Triathlon, Triathlon Life and Runners World.
  • I know when it is time to do laundry by the amount of workout clothing I do or do not have in my drawers.
  • I started mapping out running/biking routes while driving.
  • Things like hydration, nutrition and recovery had a whole new meaning in my life.
  • I CHOSE to get in a bathtub full of ice.
  • I started requesting my sick days off work to recover from races.
  • I started using wasted time, for example waiting in line, to stretch.
  • I would get a run in before most of the people I knew were awake for the day.

To answer the question more straightforward, I think it was a series of defining moments of time that led to me “becoming” a runner.  It was the reasons listed above but more than that, it was finding the strength within and focusing on the discipline to reach my goals that ultimately gave me the confidence to call myself a runner/triathlete.  I carry those titles very close to my heart and have no problem telling people “I am a runner” or “I am a triathlete.”