Recently Kiss Me Organics asked if I’d like one of their steep & strain ceramic tea mugs. In the winter Dave and I both drink a lot of hot beverages – coffee and tea – so I was excited to try this. The mug comes in a lot of really cute patterns (I love the multi-colored flowers and the all green mug!). I chose the simple circles since Dave might use it, too, and I didn’t think he’d be as excited about carrying around a flower mug.
The mug is really great quality – it has a great weight to it in your hands (the feel of a drink cup is very important to the experience!). It’s thick and sturdy, but still allows the warmth of the drink to come through without being too hot. I love that. And the green silicone drink lid is surprisingly easy to get on and stays put really well. It’s a great travel mug but an equally great around-the-house mug!
I really love my mug and I think you will, too! If you have an avid tea drinker on your Christmas list, this would be a great affordable and thoughtful gift for them. It’s super easy to use and clean, keeps drinks hot, and the ceramic is a healthier alternative to plastic to-go cups. Plus, it’s pretty!
Interested in winning your own ceramic mug? I’ll be giving one away and all you have to do to is follow these 3 simple steps:
At the end of September I ran the Fort4Fitness marathon in Fort Wayne. This was their second year hosting the marathon and my second year running it (you can see my post from 2016 here). I like this marathon because it’s close to my house (I get up race morning and drive down), the parking is amazing, it’s pretty affordable, I get to see Kimberly, and last year the post-race food was awesome. My only complaint in 2016 was the looped course – we ended up coming back around behind the start of every other race (10k, half, and 4 mile), which meant you spent a lot of time weaving around people (including a TON of walkers and strollers for the 4 mile).
I came in to the race feeling really good about my training – I was consistently hitting sub 9 pace in long runs. I normally don’t have a goal for a race other than PR and have fun, but this year I went in with a sub-4 goal, which I knew would be challenging for me, but doable.
Race morning I drove down with my coffee and breakfast. I got my packet and sat in the car while I pinned on my bib. The weather was cool and perfect. I walked to the start and got ready to run. I planned to start with the 4 hour pace group and then, if possible, move away from them in the back end of the race. The first mile in we already hit a snag – the race was being directed incorrectly, so we were running the last loop first. Not a huge deal, but the last loop is a little longer than the first, which meant that instead of looping around in front of every other race we would, once again, be looping in behind them. ARGH. I figured we would probably get directions to do the first loop at the end, but I wasn’t sure and it was annoying to go through every mile marker and split and know I was actually ahead of what it read. In any case, I saw Kimberly at mile 4 and got to run with her for a few minutes, which was awesome. I felt strong at that point and it was exciting to see someone I knew.
We kept trucking around and I was still feeling good and running a bit ahead of the 4 hour pace group. I love some of the neighborhoods the race goes through – people really show up and cheer and put on music and have signs and inflatables, tissues and snacks, etc. It’s really great. Around mile 15 I started to feel like I was flagging a bit and my stomach felt really off. I tried some gatorade at a water station to see if that would help… it definitely was NOT the right choice. By mile 17 I felt awful – my stomach felt crampy and I was really tired. I knew I needed to eat and drink more but my stomach didn’t want anything. At mile 19 I used a port-a-potty (I think the first time I’ve ever used one midrace?). I was walking a little here and there but mostly running, although my pace was slipping. The 4 hour pace team passed me somewhere, but I’m not sure where. I knew sub-4 was gone, so I tried to focus on just PRing (and really just freaking finishing). I rolled in at 4:16:29 – a new PR but definitely not the sub-4 I thought I could do.
Post-race I mostly felt frustrated. I knew a PR was great and I was happy with it, but I also felt frustrated that I didn’t do all I knew I could do. Still, it’s one race. I’ve had a string of great races since the fall of 2012, PRing each time, so maybe it’s just par for the course to have a lackluster one in the midst. They can’t all be stellar and a PR is still a PR! Since the race I’ve thought about running a marathon on my own, just to hit sub 4 and prove to myself that I can, but I’m still debating if I really feel like doing that or if I just want to table it for now and go hard for it in the spring. We’ll see.
As for the Fort Wayne marathon, I’m on the fence if I’ll do it again if they don’t make some course changes. They did direct us to do the first loop last, so we got the correct race distance, but the looping of the course does not work. And while the location is awesome and the free race photos are great, the post race food was pretty disappointing this year – generic pretzels and granola bars, bananas, apples, and chocolate milk. It’s not terrible, but compared to their first year it was a huge difference (and so much worse).
One more thing, I did receive an email from the race saying I won a prize in my age group (I got 5th or 6th?) and that they’d be letting me know more soon… that was a couple weeks ago. I emailed them again to check in about it or see if it was a mistake and still haven’t heard anything… so that’s neat.
Race #10 in the books. I have ideas for what I’d like to do for 2018 but nothing definite yet. Stay tuned…
I was nervous going in to this 50k. It was an all new distance for me, I had very little trail running as part of my training (I think I logged 33.5 miles, total, over 2 separate runs. All the rest were on roads), and I just wasn’t sure what to expect. The week leading up to the race was predicting an 80% chance of thunderstorms, so when the forecast cleared I was really happy to see a sunny day, even if it was supposed to be 87°. We also tapered for four weeks before the race, which was by far the longest taper I’ve ever done. I just wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew I could finish, but I didn’t know if it would be ugly, slow, and painful.
Kimberly and I left Indiana on Friday afternoon, happily joined by Pattie, a fellow runner, Kimberly’s best friend from college, and our designated crew chief for the weekend. Pattie drove 11 hours to Indiana and another 2 to Ohio so she could sit outside for 6+ hours, hold on to all our bags, and be there when we passed on each loop, ready to provide anything we might need (and I packed it all: extra shoes, socks, shirts, shorts, GU chomps, drinks, etc.). She took pictures, cheered for us, and was such a steady and wonderfully familiar presence at each of the loops.
Kimberly and I made a plan the night before to run together but to also run our own races, giving each other permission to go ahead or drop behind depending on what we needed. We lined up with the other 100 or so runners and the race began 3 minutes early, with the race director shrugging and saying, “Everybody ready then? Okay. Start.”
The first loop Kimberly and I hung together. We tried to hold ourselves back, wanting to pace ourselves as we got a feel for the course. Three miles in, looping over gorgeous, shaded trails, rocks under our feet, I told Kimberly, “this is so fun!” I realized even as I said it that it might be premature to call a race fun, with still 28 more miles to go.
Here’s the thing: it wasn’t. I truly had the most fun at this race of any I’ve ever done. It never lost its appeal for me and even deep into the fourth and final lap I found myself grinning as I ran alone through the trees. It was the best.
Kimberly and I ran the first loop together, separated for the second and some of the third, and started the fourth loop together. Kimberly pretty quickly told me to go ahead, as she could feel the heat starting to mess with her stomach and head. At the start of each loop was the dam, an almost mile-long flat stretch in full sun. It was long and hot, but I knew once I was over it I could get back in the trails and the trees and play. Miles 19-24 were probably the hardest, as they are in the marathon, but I never doubted I would finish. At mile 26 my Garmin died, so I estimated for myself when I passed 26.2. It was all new distance from here. I was surprised to find around mile 27 my legs actually felt really good – like they got a second wind. I thought I would walk more of the last loop but I really didn’t – I found myself wanting to push ahead and keep moving. I fell once around mile 29 or so and whacked my hip into a rock, but I quickly popped up and kept going. One last turn through the aid station for water and gatorade and fruit and then it was the stretch to home. I finished with a huge smile on my face at 5:58:26 and immediately gushed to the timers, “that was the best!”
I recognize that the race could have gone very differently for me – as runners, you never quite know what the day will hold. Will your stomach act up? Will you get dehydrated? Will your legs just feel tired and heavy? Saturday was one of those awesome days where everything came together for me and I’m so grateful. I drank a ton of water (I think I refilled my water bottles 14 different times) and early on could tell the GU was not sitting well, so I was able to switch to PBJ and fruit at the aid station.
I’ve been riding the 50k high all week. I was pretty sore Sunday evening. Monday morning I attempted to run to shake out my legs and only made it a quarter mile before I thought my quads were shredding. But Tuesday a few miles felt really good and I’m excited to get back out there again tomorrow. It definitely made me eager to keep chasing running goals – new times, new distances, new races, new experiences with friends. And it was a great reminder of all the things I love about running – the hard work and sweat, the challenge, the reward and the high, the pure fun and adventure, the time outside, the time alone, the time with friends.
Many, many thanks to my friends who logged miles with me, to Dave for fielding kids and indulging my thirst for miles, to Pattie for crewing and cheering and supporting, to Kimberly for always being my friend in running and adventure and life.
I’m deep in my training for the Another Dam 50K with Kimberly. Last weekend I ran 24 miles early on a Friday morning – I got up at 3:15am and was out the door at 4 with my pepper spray and my headlamp. At 5 I met up with some friends, ran with them til 7, then finished out my run solo. I got in the door at 7:59am, with a 9:38 pace that would have put me on track for a PR in the marathon. This morning was supposed to be a rest day but my legs were itching to run. I flew through 5 miles, averaging 8:56 pace for the whole run, and it felt fun. I wanted to do more. This is the part of training I love, when I’m getting strong and the miles are happy instead of just work. When my stride feels long and tall and quick. When I come back euphoric instead of just tired. When getting out the door is easy because I want to be out there, not “have to.” When the sweat feels like a reward instead of a wringing out of energy. This is why I run.
This week I turn 33 years old. Age is not a big deal to me, but I’m noticing some things shifting for me as I move through the years. Here are a few.
This is 33 means…
My best friends and I, whom I’ve known since elementary, middle, and high school, had an email exchange last week about anti-aging products and how none of us use them but pretty much all of us have started wondering if we should. (Feel free to comment with suggestions for us, if you have them.)
My hands look more and more like my mom’s, which I love. Her hands have always struck me as so strong and capable. They look like they’ve put in the work – they’re dry and they crack in the winter and her veins run in ridges across the top. Mine are starting to look like this, too, and it honestly makes me a little emotional to look down and see my mom’s hands on me. It makes me proud.
My go-to birthday dinner has long been macaroni and cheese, but this year I’m switching over to a brie asparagus tart and a kale caesar salad with polenta croutons. Also chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting.
My coworker had a birthday this week, too. He turned 22. Seriously. 22 is old enough to hold a full-time job and be a college graduate. What?! I’m seriously having a hard time believe this and feeling very old.
Probably the biggest thing, lately, is that my resting (stubborn) weight is about 5 pounds over what I’d like to be at, and I’m finding I just don’t care that much. I have less space in my brain and emotions for worrying about my size or my weight. I’m moving my body and trying to eat moderately well and maybe that’s enough in itself instead of continually chasing a specific number. It feels like time to let that go, which maybe sounds like a compromise but I think is a sign of health. It feels both a little scary and really good to acknowledge this is my body and it’s strong and it’s running and if it’s not as lean as I’d like it’s maybe just not that big of a deal and not worth chasing down. I’d rather chase my kids and running goals and experiences and let that worrying and striving part go. This is 33. It feels really good.
At the end of November, right after Thanksgiving, I received a message from Kohl’s inviting me to be part of a photo shoot for athletic and athleisure looks as part of a social media campaign. Um, YES PLEASE. Six weeks later, in mid January, I was flying to Milwaukee! I was so excited and nervous going in to the trip – nervous about what to expect, how to “model”, being on video, etc. It just felt like a very intimidating experience. But I was also so excited for a getaway and a new opportunity!
Right after I arrived in Milwaukee I had dinner with some of the Kohl’s staff and met the two other women who would be part of the shoot. It immediately helped put me at ease. Everyone was friendly, funny, down to earth, and so kind. I knew that even though the next day might feel a little weird, it would also be tons of fun. And ohmygosh I didn’t even know how fun it would be!
The next morning we met in the lobby at 6:45am. The film crew got us all set up with our mics – in addition to the photo shoot they’d be shooting the whole day to create short commercials – and we headed out to the studio! The studio was unreal – just getting a glimpse at all the work that goes in to a one-day photo shoot. They had a living room area set up for some of our chats, a changing room, another area where we’d look at the clothes with the stylist, another area for the photo shoot, hair and makeup, and a huge table full of delicious, homemade snacks (they changed regularly). There were so. many. people. Producers, directors, assistants, stylists, photographers, videographers, audio people… there were probably at least 35 people all moving around and taking care of small details and making everything perfect. And yet everyone was also so incredibly sweet – chatting with us, offering us anything we needed, showing us pictures of their kids, telling us about themselves. I could not get over how friendly everyone was. It could have been such an intimidating and awkward experience and it quickly felt just FUN – like hanging out with friends. I immediately knew I could trust everyone – that they only wanted to show me in the best possible way. They wouldn’t try to make me look silly or dumb; they wanted me to be encouraged and to enjoy everything. (Spoiler: they succeeded. Big time.)
The whole day took about 11 hours – at the end they were in a big rush to try to get pictures before daylight disappeared. Then everything was edited down and these two beauties were created!
I cannot say enough good things about the staff of Kohl’s and how generous and kind and sweet they were. They are professional, creative, passionate, and smart. I loved seeing the heart and authenticity of such a big brand. I also can’t say enough good things about Rachael and Porsha! They are funny, bright, motivated women. I loved getting to hang out with them and we quickly became friends. I was so excited to see them in their clothes and to cheer them on during their pictures. I loved seeing them get pampered and knew how deserving they were of this experience. I loved getting to talk and laugh with them in between things. It’s been so great to keep in touch with them afterwards – I know we’ll stay friends (and Rachael will also continue to impress the heck out of me with her insane moves of the day – girl is strong).
At the end of our shoot we got to take home two complete outfits and I am loving what I chose! It’s been an awesome revamp to my wardrobe. And Maggie’s suggestions to us really helped me to look at my closet from a new perspective, which has also been super helpful!
So that was my once in a lifetime experience. It was amazing. Thank you, Kohl’s!
Recently Maple Holistics asked if they could send me something to try. I chose the Hand Cream for Dry Skin because my hands are awful in the winter – they crack and bleed and generally feel like sandpaper. I’ve had a really hard time finding a lotion that makes any difference, especially one that’s made with quality ingredients. I’ve tried straight shea butter and bag balm, which haven’t helped and are really greasy.
I really like this hand cream. A lot. It smells awesome (seriously so good – I think it’s the geranium and lavender) and it’s really thick and moisturizing without being greasy. It soaks in fast (or at least my dry hands suck it up) and feels great. It definitely has helped my skin – my skin looks more even and less rough and dry – but I’ve still had some cracking and bleeding on my fingertips. However, I feel like they’ve cracked and bled less, so that’s something still! The one drawback is the price – at $45 it’s a pretty expensive tube of lotion, at least for me. And I’ve used it a lot, which means that it’s disappeared fast, too.
If you’re interested in a trying a free sample product from Maple Holistics, click here!
Do you have problems with dry skin? What’s your best recommendation?
Disclaimer: I was provided with a free product in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own and not influenced by the developing company and/or its affiliates in any way.