Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Celebrate National Kale Day!

I've been feeling a little sickly and living off soup since my first 10k race last weekend, but I'm popping in for a moment to bring attention to an important holiday...

Did you know that TOMORROW is National Kale Day??!!?

According to NationalKaleDay.org:
"National Kale Day is held on the first Wednesday in October and is an annual celebration of eating, growing, and sharing kale throughout America."

So how should you celebrate?  By eating, growing, and sharing kale!

But WHY, you ask?  Click to review last year's post: What is kale, Why is it great, and How can you eat it?    (Hint: It's a green vegetable with all kinds of benefits that can be eaten cooked or raw in a variety of ways!)

Last October, I celebrated the very fist National Kale Day in style with my friends (see the PaRTaY here), so this year, I dare you to follow suit with your own KALE PARTY.  Hit up the farmer's market or supermarket, find a few varieties of kale (as shown above), Google a recipe that uses it, and get cooking!

Throwback to my first time massaging kale

Another way to celebrate is by attending a local event!  There are all kinds of festivities going on in cities across America, so check the list by clicking here to find a Kale Day event in your town.

How will YOU celebrate National Kale Day?? 
If you've never tried kale before, I dare you to seek out some well-prepared kale and give it a try.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Run 10 Feed 10 {Race Recap}

Last weekend, I participated in the Run 10 Feed 10 Women's Health/FEED Foundation 10k race!  I was super excited when I first signed up in June, but was concerned by the time September unfolded in a disastrous first few weeks that left me physically exhausted and achey.  Those stressors/fears/roadblocks were described in my Race Week Post.  Thus, my expectations were low, but I was still excited to be daring to do it.

3rd Annual Women's Health Run 10 Feed 10 Race
NYC, West Side Highway, 7:00 am, 80 degrees, 6.2 miles.  


Here's how it went down:

My GOAL for this first 10k, as it was for my second 5k race, was to run the entire thing without stopping.  
The farthest distance I'd done this for in the past was 5 miles (once), and even 6.2--a full 10k (but I was only semi-counting that, because I was forced to stop in place at the traffic signals in Summer Streets).  So running this type of distance wasn't quite yet easy for me, but it certainly seemed within the realm of possibility.

My friend Jen and I headed over bright and  dark and gloomy and early and quickly found Liz, Becky, and Brittany.  Most races I've run in the past have been solo, so it was fun having a group of friends to share this experience with!

The place was packed with 3,000 runners!  It was an early, cloudy, hot and humid morning, with rain threatening, yet the energy was high.  My friends and I were participating together, but we were each at different levels and experiences.  Although we wouldn't be running it in tandem, we lined up together at the start, ready to go.

3... 2... 1.... GO! 

Miles 1 and 2: 
When we set off, I began running with Becky, who'd confirmed that my 10-min-mile pace would suit her.  Then, we took the first two miles by storm at 9:23 and 9:20, a pace I had no trouble keeping up for the two miles, but I knew I couldn't carry on beyond three, let alone 6.2.  After we passed the second mile marker, I told Becky to go on ahead while I slowed down to pace myself.

"You sure?" "Yes, go on!"  She did, and she rocked it!  It wasn't easy for me, but falling back to my 6mph pace was the best decision to ensure I finished my race the way I wanted.  On five-mile runs, my average mile time usually averaged closer to 11 minutes than 10, so this was still a bit quick for me to hope to sustain over the long haul.

Miles 3 and 4:
Slowing down for mile three and four, I got in my groove and felt good. This was my happy place.  By the end of the fourth mile, my legs began to tire and, honestly, my head became foggy.  It was so humid out, and the thick cloud of heat was unsettling.  The fog even diminished the West Side Highway's usual view of downtown Manhattan, which was slightly disappointing, as I'd been looking forward to it.  Fortunately, the tree-lined path was still nice, and it was fun to run down the closed-off highway.

Miles 5 and 6:
It was at the bottom point, after already turning around to head back up the bike path and feeling the heat get to me and my legs, that I began to wonder where the next mile marker was.  "5" took forever to show up!  I kept thinking, I must be close... I must be close..., but no.  This was interesting in retrospect, because it turns out that I'd sped up again in fifth mile, which is perhaps why my legs were feeling spent by the time I finally reached "Six".

My legs felt like glue, but I'd made it so far without stopping, I knew I'd regret it if I did now.  Just... keep... moving...  In the last mile, I slowed down yet again to a short-stepped jog, just trying to stay in motion rather than stopping to walk.  Slow and steady wins the race, right?

The End:
My final motivational song--perfectly timed for my final push--came on: "Edge of Glory."   I pushed forward to the beat!   When I saw the finish line, I was elated--at last!  I wanted so badly to sprint to the finish, but simply didn't have it in me.  It had taken everything I had to keep running until this point; speeding up was an impossibility.

GLORY:  Still running, I crossed the finish line--which my (and others') GPS recorded as 6.45 miles rather than 6.2!  My Nike+ App quickly informed me that (since beginning this app in June) this was my longest run, farthest run, and fastest 5k and 10k to date.  Woohoo!

Crossing the finish line and finally letting myself slow down to a walk, I had to keep my legs moving.  They were on auto-pilot, moving forward aimlessly as I searched for my friends among the crowded sponsor booths.  Finally, we all met up in a combination of heat exhaustion and pride.

10k Team: Before & After

We all finished, and finished in excellent time.  I've got some speedy friends!  Congrats are due all around.  They inspire me to keep going, and bring up that last mile's time.

Read this rockstar's recap here

Glad to participate in a race for a cause, too.  I loved seeing other runner's shirts that said, "Will run for food."  833,873 meals had been served by the time we departed from the west side!!  Amazing.

Dare you to learn more about how you can contribute to the cause or get involved in a race with Run 10 Feed 10 by clicking here.

Bonus dare: Go ahead and sign up for a 10k to aspire to!!  Remember that I started with a  one mile goal and never would have thought I'd be able to run six without stopping.  There are many reasons to hate running, but just as many to love it.  There's always a new goal to try--longer, farther, faster... And it's never too late to start; there's always something you can aim for.  If I can do it, anyone can!  Dare you to exceed your expectations and give it a try.

We did it!!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Race Week Check-In

Oh boy, I'm lucky I even remembered that it's race week.  It seems so long ago that I signed up, all giddy, for the Run 10 Feed 10 10k race that is now, somehow, this Sunday!!!  It seemed, in the glory days of summer, that I had so much time to train and prepare.  And, during the summer, I did run!

What I didn't account for, was how much the first two weeks of September would destroy me. 

First Day of School!
Preparing for madness to ensue...

Back to school = Back to work!  With teaching, plus moving, plus two weekend trips in a row, plus plus plus... I've had other things on my mind, and running has not been my #1 priority this past month.  First is my health (aka: if I'm not sleeping well, I don't wake up early to run), then my job, and then everything else, including running.  A month ago, I ran 6.2 miles steadily for the first time, but I haven't seen that distance since.  I've covered anywhere from 2 to 5 miles--not 6--and even those runs haven't been so great.  It's been rough!

Instagram, 9/14: "Gorgeous morning, but rough run.
Felt stiff and walked much. Still, beautiful way to start the day!
#run #training #blueskies #nofilter

Getting back to work felt great in so many ways, but has been a serious shock for my body, with my movement patterns changing and my sleep schedule adjusting.  In rebellion, my body has tightened up.  I'm on my feet all day, which wears out my legs.  I must be hunched over more often, because my back and neck have been aching.  I wake up feeling stiff and feel the desire to stretch more than ever, and even those stretches are more painful than relieving.

In sum: I don't feel as ready for race day as I'd like to. 

Nonetheless, it will arrive in four days!  I'll put on a happy face, try to keep plowing through all the disarray in my personal life and work to-do lists, so that, at the very least, my mind can be clear for an enjoyable run.

Because I will run!  I will run 10 kilometers to provide 10 meals to people going hungry, and I hope you'll support the cause by participating or donating.

It's my first 10k, so I was hoping I'd rock it.  While I may not meet my ambitious expectations, I'll do my best, and that's all I can do!  Good thing I've already got a second chance lined up... (*spoiler alert!*)

Any tips for acing my race, even after a 3-week slump?  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Support Chickens

Did you know?  September is National Chicken Month!

Whether you do or don't consume chicken, you may be interested in raising awareness about the welfare of these animals.  It's important not only for the chicken's "chickenness" but also for the consumers who eat these animals.  Recent findings show that consumers distrust the chicken industry, and for good reasons.

This video very briefly summarizes the problems with modern-day factory farm practices:

PETA outlines--with disturbing images--the horrible practices of chicken farming in the U.S.  The answer for many--including myself, for two years--is to simply avoid eating chicken.

However, if you wish to continue consuming poultry while keeping the animal's (and your!) health in mind, there are things you can do!  In an ideal world, we'd all be in close reach of a farm we could rely on to properly raise our poultry for us (like Polyface Farm) , but that's not always an option.  Even when shopping at supermarkets, there are things you can do and look for!

Visit TruthAboutChicken.Org to tell your local supermarkets that you want more humanely raised chicken!  If consumers demand it, stores just may make the extra effort to provide it.

Then, wise up on some of the labels to look for!

Meaningless labels: The following labels are not clearly defined or regulated, so don't rely on these too much when shopping for poultry.

  • "Humanely Raised/Humanely Handled"
  • "Natural/Naturally Raised/All-Natural"
  • "Hormone-free"
  • "Pasture-raised/Pasture-grown" 

The label I specifically avoid when buying poultry or eggs: "Vegetarian-fed" or "Grain-fed". Chickens are omnivores.  In addition to grass, herbs, vegetables, and fruit, they also eat insects and even larger animals!  In fact, they'll eat just about anything they can.  These scavengers don't discriminate, and are certainly not vegetarians.  So when producers of poultry and egg products boast that their chickens are "vegetarian-fed"... I shake my head. This may cheap for the producers but does NOT reflect a chicken's natural diet, and so that producer is not one I wish to support. 

Labels to look for: 
  • Certified Humane
  • Global Animal Partnership (GAP), Steps 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 5+ (The higher, the better)
Learn more about all labels and their meanings here

Dare you to... consider the conditions in which your poultry was raised, dig a little deeper to explore these labels, and spread the word about improving conditions of chickens in America 

I'm still learning, myself, so if YOU have any insights or suggestions on trustworthy labels that guarantee humane and sanitary practices for raising poultry, please let me know in the comments

Happy National Chicken Month! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

get your shoes hand-delivered!

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Reebok. 

Hey all! Hope you had a nice Labor Day weekend! I was fortunate to spend my weekend down the shore with friends, relaxing, reading, playing games, doing beach yoga, and enjoying good food and company.  My great weekend got off to an early start on Thursday, when the coolest thing happened...

There I was, sitting at home, minding my own business, when ding-dong!  It was Reebok's Human Dispatch Service (HDS), making a home delivery, just for me!  One of the dispatchers, Patrick, was decked out in Reebok gear, wearing neon yellow ZJet sneakers and a bag to match.  The bag was filled with ZJet shoes!!!

Keeping in line with Reebok's standard of connecting with the fitness consumer wherever, whenever, and however,  the Reebok HDS delivers sneakers directly to your feet, so you can experience the new Reebok ZJet's unique underfoot air channels and cushioning.  Just like the shoes are designed to propel the runner forward, using "speed under pressure", the dispatch team propels the shoes to you!

Patrick took my size 8s out of the bag for me to try on.  Love.  They're a gorgeous shade of teal over black, with hot pink laces.  I quickly put them on, laced up, and posed for the camera.  They were so comfortable!

You can instantly feel how soft the cushioning on bottom is.  According to Reebok, "the pressure changes created by each individual's unique foot strike, force the air from heel to toe, providing cushioning where it's needed, when it's needed, to propel the runner forward."  It's this moving air technology that allows your foot to move freely and makes them so comfortable and cushioned!  Plus, the shoe has NanoWeb "uppers" that keep your foot supported and centered.

I walked around to test them out, and as I was walking Patrick back out, I questioned the fit of the shoe. I'm usually a size 8 or an 8.5, and my old DMX Sky shoes were an 8, but these felt a little tighter on the sides and the toes.  This might've just been the fancy technology that's designed to keep your feet straight, but I didn't want my toes cramping up on a run.  Fortunately, Patrick's bag of tricks had 8.5s for me to try!  

Amazing!  I slipped those on and bounced around in them, checking that they were also perfect.  They were. :D

If I hadn't already run four miles that morning, I would have hit the road immediately!  Instead, I settled for wearing my new kicks as I did some work and occasionally jogged to and from the kitchen for water.  Now that my beach weekend is over, I can't wait to take these ZJets out for a run!!

ZJet - by Reebok

Reebok's Human Dispatch Service ran all over Manhattan delivering these hot sneakers to lucky fans who tweeted their shoe size to @Reebok with the hashtag #ReebokHDS.  Several Dare You To followers on Instagram and Twitter did just that, and at least one WON (!) and received a visit from the HDS team, too!   All the more reason to check in via social media regularly--you may discover a fun contest and WIN!

Do YOU want to try these sneakers TODAY??  Learn more by clicking here or simply head to Twitter for updates from ReebokHDS!  At Reebok.com, you can check out these and more running and training sneakers.

What propels YOU??