Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Runner's World Book Review: The Runner's Brain

Disclosure:  I was sent an electronic copy of this book for purposes of review.  No other compensation was given.  Affiliate links are used in this post.

Last week I shared with y'all my review of Runner's World: Meals On The Run.  It's a great cookbook full of gorgeous pictures and "real food" recipes for athletes.  Christmas is coming....

This week we're getting a little deeper.  This week I'm sharing with you Runner's World The Runner's Brain: How to Think Smarter to Run Better by Dr. Jeff Brown, written with Liz Neporent.

I'm training for my 2nd marathon and, quite frankly, it kind of sucks.  No.  No, it pretty much sucks.  The best part of this whole thing is spending face time with my BRF Wendy.  I've decided that I am a loyal half marathoner.  I was looking forward to anything I could glean from this book that would help make this slog easier.  I also totally geek out over psychology stuff.  You can trust me - I have a psychology degree!

I wasn't disappointed!  Y'all, I was fascinated.  There were so many interesting examples of studies done regarding various physiological and psychological changes that happen to a runner when they are running!  And you don't need a psych or med degree to understand the text.  Dr. Brown explains each theory and study in a completely conversational way that's easy to understand.

The author is the psychologist for the Boston Marathon and has treated runners for all manner of issues.

Here are some of the issues the book covers regarding every day issues:
  • How The Brain Forms Your Identity As A Runner
  • Goal Setting
  • Visualization and Focus
  • Association and Dissociation (is it better to tune in or tune out?)
  • The Power of Magical Thinking (are your lucky socks really lucky?)
  • Running Clothes - how they can actually influence you psychologically!
It moves on to higher pressure stakes:
  • Should You Compete?
  • Managing Competition
  • Hitting the Wall
  • Treadmill Training 
  • Weather Issues
If you are more of a Type A runner, there's even more for you - worksheets!  Goal setting, visualization guides, logs, and more!

We're looking at another cold, cold winter in Georgia.  I'm PORING over the chapter on treadmill training and overcoming unpleasant weather issues.  

I found the chapters on Association & Dissociation amazingly interesting.  I've often wondered if there was any advantage or disadvantage to throwing the iPod on, running with friends or similar strategies.  I absolutely threw some of what I learned out to a group of running friends and started a great discussion on people's preferences.  

Verdict?  Get it.  Even if you don't have some mind-blocking issue you are trying to overcome, it's full of interesting tips that can help anyone retrain their brain to become a  better runner.

Tell me the truth:  do you have that superstitious ritual you just HAVE to do before a run?  A lucky item of clothing?  That one food item you MUST eat?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Six Flags Over Georgia Holiday In The Park

I grew up having a Six Flags Over Georgia season pass every summer.  This was back when you could drop off a group of 10-12 year olds for THE DAY and pick them up later.  Can you imagine?!?!

It had been YEARS since I'd been to Six Flags.  We realized that this past year was finally the time to head back - all three of the boys are theme park ready!  We got a great deal on season passes this fall that afforded us entrance to both Six Flags Over Georgia AND White Water!  Next summer will be amazing, especially since White Water is practically in our backyard!  Check out their Black Friday / Cyber Monday deal on 2016 Season Passes - it really is an amazing deal!

But let's get back to this season.  I was lucky enough to be invited to a special preview of the Holiday In The Park event at Six Flags Over Georgia!  This is the 2nd year they've held this and our first time attending.  I have one coaster lover, one who isn't sure and one who is absolutely anti-speed.  How would this go?  Disclaimer:  I only had my phone, so my pics of the lights and in the dark are not always amazing.  Or... good.)

As soon as you walk in you are covered in a canopy of lights!

We watched the Christmas tree being lit at the end of the main walkway and it was just beautiful.

The first thing my Coaster Kid wanted to hit?  The Georgia Scorcher.  Dad took the other two off to look at some lights while I stuck with Thing 2.  There was a woman dressed as an elf riding in the front row, with nobody else.  My kid just wanted to ride in the front row.  I wanted to ride with an elf.  We both got our wish!  Loved the ride and loved the elf!

Not all the rides are open during the event, but it's only a handful that are closed so there is still plenty to ride.  If you have kids who are not crazy about coasters, don't worry - there is so much stuff to look at and do!  There are light displays everywhere, in different themes.

Photo Courtesy of Six Flags Over Georgia

Below was in the retro-themed area.  Excuse the surly teen who Just.  Wanted.  Food.

How fun is this - we were in a snow globe!!!!

Of course, you can't have a holiday event without Santa.  Here's a tip, though - hit this one early.  You ride the train to Santa's cabin.  Once that train unloads, everyone is dumped into line to see Santa at the same time.  Another tip - sit in the back of the train.  It pulls up even with the entrance to the Santa line.  If you sit back there, you have a straight shot to the line entrance!  My older kids bailed, so it was just me and Thing 3.

We wound down our evening by passing through Mistletoe Mansion area.  Even though this is a really crappy picture (it was the 12 year old, I can't be responsible for this), I still had to include this picture of me and Mr. Miles.  In the back, you can see a little bit of the peach-themed Georgia area!

The lights are beautiful.  There are shows going in various locations.  Whenever we walked into various themed areas there were spots set up for photo ops and activities for kids.  My younger two had fun building their own gingerbread men with magnetic parts scattered all over a big board.

They have plenty of holiday treats, too!  You can purchase smores kits and roast them over fire pits!  There are fun holiday twists on your favorite treats and plenty of hot chocolate and cider.

As we left, I turned in our Blogger Scavenger Hunt form - in return, we got CAPES!  This was one happy boy!

My verdict - this WAS fun for the whole family.  I felt like there was definitely something for everyone.  We were there for almost 3 hours and still didn't get to see everything that I would have liked to.  Guess we'll just have to go back!

Holiday In The Park is open each day Thanksgiving week (closed on Thanksgiving, thankfully!) from 4:00pm - 10:00pm and has the same hours on weekends only until December 23rd.  Each day from Dec. 26th until January 3rd Holiday In The Park is open from 2:00pm - 10:00pm.

Take your family for some holiday fun and be sure to use the hashtags #HolidayInThePark and #NothingMerrier when you post your pictures!  

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Five People You NEED In Your Running Life!

I've been running for over five years now, and I'm blessed to have had multiple running partners and people in my life that encourage me!  Here's the top five people every runner needs in their life!

Someone Who Is Just A Little Faster Than You.

Face it - you could do better if you just pushed a little.  You need that friend who is naturally just a bit speedier than you and maybe a little more serious about it.  April is this friend for me.  A bonus is that even though we live in different states, she motivates me.  Specifically, through fear.  She will be legit pissed at me if we agree to race together and I show up untrained.  I don't need that nonsense in my life.  So I run.

Someone Dependable.

A lazy procrastinator like me needs that person who will set dates to run.  Meet me at THIS place at THIS time for THIS many miles.  Wendy fits this position.  She's local and, better yet, organized.  She already coordinated with me for our longest marathon training runs.  The are (mostly) immovable dates on the calendar.

Someone Who Doesn't Give A Crap About Time As Long As You Look Good And Get Good Pictures.

Without a doubt, this is Patty.  To be honest, for many races this is most of my DisBroads, but Patty is the embodiment of this sentiment.  I have fond memories of a FOUR HOUR Princess Half Marathon.  The sheer volume of photos is staggering.  And we had so much fun.  Every now and then you have to lighten up and embrace the fun of running in order not to get burned out.

The Significant Other Who Puts Up With Your Running Madness.

Destination races and the bills incurred.  Shoes, gear, fuel, clothes... Early morning runs.  Those lead to late afternoon uselessness if you are in the later stages of marathon training.  I once completed 15 miles on a treadmill at much too fast a pace.  I completely jacked my hip and couldn't walk.  My husband spent his birthday helping me up to bed with an ice pack and finding me the strongest pain reliever available.  He was cool with that.  Bless him.

The Friends Who Don't Run And Recognize You For The Bad Ass Goddess That You Are.

I have lots of non-running friends and I'll admit that I do like hearing their awe and admiration when I tell them I'm training for a marathon, or I just finished half-marathon #15.  It reminds me why I do this - because not everyone does.  Keep running, Mama.  It makes you strong and special.

I've been lucky enough to find a whole tribe of friends to fill my running needs.  You need people?  Look to local running stores that sponsor group runs.  Head online.  Ask friends to recommend Facebook groups that might be a good fit for you.  Moms Run This Town is a national group with local chapters.

Find your people and embrace them!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Book Review: Runner's World Meals on The Run!

Disclosure:  I was provided an electronic copy of this book for purposes of review.  No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.  Affiliate links are used in this post.

Raise your hand if you are stuck in a pre-run food rut!


I am so sick of the peanut butter covered bagel.  I just can't choke it down anymore.

Not being a foodie, I just wasn't sure what else to do.

 Runner's World Meals on the Run: 150 energy-packed recipes in 30 minutes or less has some great and EASY alternatives!  Because, seriously, I can't be fixing crazy involved options before a morning run.  Here's something I never thought of - a sweet potato for breakfast.  I love sweet potatoes and I love that idea!

The book is divided into categories by meals / snacks / drinks et cetera as a traditional cookbook would be.  What sets the book apart for the runner, however, is the color-coded tabs across the top of each recipe.  At a glance, you can tell if the recipe falls into any of these categories:

  • Prerun
  • Recovery
  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Low - Calorie
  • Gluten Free
  • 5 Minute Fix 
  • 10 Minute Tops
  • Hydrating
I love that I can specifically target which recipes are good pre and post run.  Each recipe is supposed to take no more than 30 minutes to prepare.  What rocks is that, as indicated by the above categories, there are recipes that take only 5 or 10 minutes!

I would be remiss if I didn't mention how absolutely gorgeous the pictures are!

Editor Joanna Sayago Golub is a former Runner's World nutrition editor so she knows what runners want and need.  There are 19 different smoothie and juice recipes!

A few of the recipes that I can't wait to try out:

For breakfast, both the Bacon Apple Cheddar Oatmeal and the Southwestern Black Bean Wrap are supposed to boost recovery.  They sound amazing.

I was intrigued to see Chocolate Avocado Spread in the snacks section!

Y'all - the pasta section is loaded with new twists on carb-loading.  The Mediterranean Chicken & Penne looks to die for.  That's being made this week without a doubt.

This would be a GREAT addition to the runner's Christmas list!  Keep your favorite runner (or yourself!) healthy while taking care of the hangry!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Rock 'n' Roll Savannah Half Marathon 2015 - It's Gettin' Hot In Here

Y'all, I was SO pumped for the Rock 'n' Roll Savannah Half Marathon!  This was the race where I got my PR - unexpectedly.  I figured out about halfway through that I could come close and I knocked it out.

I figured, how much better could I do this year where I started out with that goal in mind?  I hit up the expo and had some fun.

Race morning found me and my roomie Kim on the ferry, happy and ready!

I met up with some of My People - the RockNBlog team!  We try to spread the Rock 'n' Roll love whenever we can and we had a great bunch that came together for Savannah!

Y'all, the weather could not have been more different this year from last year.  Same weekend last year, I was wearing a sweatshirt for the first two miles.  This year?  It was already in the 70's at the start line and the humidity was off the chain.

I'm a Georgia girl.  I can handle some humidity.  In fact, I prefer that to being cold.


I have never run in anything like this at all.

Because of this heat, the water stops were kind of a cluster.  These people are volunteers - they are there to help but when hot and thirsty runners are grabbing multiple cups of water (not a judgement, some people needed that) those volunteers got behind and then got overwhelmed.

I started feeling kind of sluggish and crappy at mile 5.  WHAAA?  I seriously wondered if something was wrong with me - if I was getting the flu or something.  I was hot while running but then was getting goosebumps and chills when walking.  The reality of the weather conditions hadn't fully lit upon my brain yet.  But I was going to crank up the tunes and power myself through to as close to a PR as I could.

10K split - the iPod froze.  It stopped playing and nothing I was doing was working.  I think a little part of my soul died right there.  That was one of my last straws, mentally.

I had started out doing 1 mile intervals.  At the 10K mark I cut down to half mile intervals.  By the end of the race, I was down to 3/1.  That's 3 minutes running, 1 minute walking for those not familiar with intervals.  I was hating everyone and everything.  I wanted to throat punch any spectator with a "Worst Parade Ever" sign.  There was a completely obnoxious guy joking loudly to the runners that we needed to hurry up because he was missing football for this. I had to fight not to yell at him to SHUT UP.

Did I cut back my speed and walk even more?  Of course not.  Because I have ridiculous amounts of pride and an irrational runner sense of badassery.  If there was any way at all that I could come close to my goal time, I was going to try.  Ease up?  Hell, nawww.

That was kinda stupid, because I felt like total crap and I really couldn't enjoy anything around me.

I finished around 3 minutes over my PR.  I couldn't believe it - I am still really proud that I was able to come that close despite how completely DONE and mean that I felt.

I LOVE this medal with the Savannah icon "The Waving Girl".

Checking in with FB, I saw that the marathon course had been cut off early due to the conditions.

As I was running, I saw at least 4 or 5 people getting medical attention on the side of the road.  I ran up on a man being loaded into an ambulance.  Somebody died.  Cutting the race short was the absolute right call to make.  They were running out of EMT's to treat people and the water and Gatorade was running low.

I saw some people complaining about not letting the marathoners finish.  You know why they made that decision for them?  Because they are people like me - nothing short of practically passing out would have stopped me from moving forward.  We runners are tenacious.  For people who do so much to make our bodies run well, we have a nasty tendency to beat the snot out of ourselves during races.  Sometimes we need people to tell us what's best for us.

No, it was not the race I was planning to run.  I was planning to feel really freaking good the majority of the course and then kick it in during the last 3 miles or so.  Then I would bust my PR by several minutes and life would generally be amazing. Not so much.

The one feeling I did have that I was expecting?  I was, as I am after each race, in awe of what my body can do.  That feeling was not taken from me.  And this was waiting for me on the front door when I got home:

My 7 year old thinks I'm a WINN - ER!  And he's right.

Half marathon #15, done.  2:22:36.  Not bad for a broad who just turned 45.  There's winning all over the place.

You just stay beautiful, Savannah.  I'll be back in the spring to try again.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Sugarfina Launches - Atlanta's Lenox Square Just Got Sweeter!

I have an insane sweet tooth.  It may be one of the many reasons why I need to run.  My children know to regularly guard their candy hauls from any candy-giving event or holiday.

I was pretty excited to check out this new shop in Lenox Square Mall!  Sugarfina is a candy store, but all grown up.  I got all cleaned up, grabbed some girlfriends and headed ITP (Inside The Perimeter - it's a serious Atlanta distinction.  My friend Wendy and I squabble over the pros and cons of OTP (me) vs. ITP (her) All.  The.  Time.)  I promised them candy and champagne.  It wasn't a hard sell.

Sugarfina is not far inside the main entrance to Lenox Square.  It's bigger than a kiosk, not as big as a full store - right there in the main walkway.

The store itself is adorable - maybe it was the colors, but it had a very "Tiffany's" feel.  There are great gifts in there that are pre-packaged, or you can put together your own!  Here is one of the pre-made gift boxes that made me laugh!  Got a girlfriend with man troubles?  This is perfect:

The candies are a mix of gummies and many, many different flavor combinations with chocolate.  There are also some "adult" candies - chocolate balls with scotch in the middle and champagne gummy bears, for example.

If you would like to customize your own bento box, there is a handy tutorial in store!

I warn you, though - I stood in front of this candy wall FOREVER just trying to pick out two different flavors.  It was kind of agonizing.  Sorry the picture is blurry - I had to grab a chance to shoot while nobody was blocking!  And, well, there was champagne.

If you need a cute, unique gift for someone, Sugarfina has lots of great options!  Can't make it to Lenox Square?  Order from their website.  Everything we sampled was yummy.  Okay, I didn't really dig the chocolate balls with scotch in them, but I'm not a scotch drinker, so.......  The Sugar Lips are a personal favorite!

I grabbed a couple of the boxes to be fun stocking stuffers for my kids.  Can't wait for my 12 year old to open up the Chocolate Bacon Pretzel balls - so I can snag a taste, of course.  You can find a flavor for pretty much every taste!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

What you need to know to Rock n Roll Savannah!



Why am I so excited?

1) This is my PR race.

2) Savannah is one of my favorite cities in the South.

I'm so happy to be on Team #RocknBlog for the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series - it's my job to help you make sure you have a kick-ass race weekend!

If you are headed down to Savannah, here's a few things that will help make the most of your weekend!

Print your confirmation
You'll need to show this with your ID at the expo.  Print it here and bring it with you so you won't have to wait in line to print it at the expo.  Pick up your bib and this awesome shirt!  No race day packet pick up.

Race Day Parking / Shuttle
If you're not staying at a hotel with a race shuttle or in walking distance of the start line, you'll want to check out your parking options.

  • You can purchase a parking pass to one of four downtown garages for $10 if spots are still available.  Must be parked by 5:30am!  Don't wait - first come, first served - purchase your pass here!  Passes must be picked up at the expo.  
  • Free parking at the Savannah Convention Center is now sold out.  If you know of someone who reserved a parking pass online but isn't going to use it, you can ask them to pick it up at the expo and give it to you.  
  • If you're staying on either Tybee Island or a hotel near the airport, there is a paid shuttle option IF there are spaces still available.  Purchases will need to be made at the expo.  
Be a Big Deal
Go ahead - you deserve it.  Spring for post-race VIP status.  Full VIP is sold out, but if you act quick you can get the royal treatment post-race.  Get more information on the perks and registration link here, but they include a catered buffet, a trolley that takes you back to the race start headquarters, private bathrooms....  Okay, they're still porta pots but reserved for a select few.  They were clean (an attendant is on site) and there was no line whatsoever when I wanted to use one.  It was beautiful.  Read my first hand account of how much I enjoyed my VIP treatment last year!  Don't forget to pick up your VIP wristband at the expo - with everything going on, I almost walked out without it.  

Course Support
Be sure you can stomach what's being given out on the course.  Drinks provided will be Lemon Lime Gatorade and water.  Fuel provided is GU.  GU will be given out at mile 8.2 for the half / full marathon and again at mile 20.7 for the full marathon.  If you need something different or more, be sure to bring it or pick something up at the expo!

Checkity Check It
Gear check will be open from 5:30 - 6:45.  You'll get a gear check bag at the expo.  Affix your gear check tag (found on your bib) to the bag.  UPS gear check trucks will be waiting - find the truck for your last name.  Trucks will be available at the finish line until 2:30pm.  

The Beer Garden
Here's the deal.  If you are over 21 you will get a free beer on race day at the Michelob Beer Garden.  You'll see a ginormous line at the expo to get a wristband.  If the line is huge - don't wait.  All that wristband means is that they've checked your ID and you're over 21.  Just make sure you have your ID on you race day (you should anyway - stay safe!) and flash it at the Beer Garden with no problems.  

There's a great mix of bands along the course to pump you up and give you a little groove.  Give 'em a  shout out as you run by to thank them for being there!  After the race?  You might want to stick around to hear a little up-and-coming band by the name of Rascal Flatts.  

If you are visiting Savannah from parts elsewhere, be sure to take some time to look around and see more!  Savannah is not only beautiful but so rich in history and legends.  Check out the VisitSavannah site to help plan your non-running time.  Remember - keep moving so your legs don't stiffen up!

Get ready for a fun weekend with a beautiful, flat course in an amazing city!

Do you have any questions I can answer?  Hit me up!