Monday, July 30, 2012

Zensah supports our girls

A little while back, Zensah sent me a running bra to test and review. I only use basic Champion bras because:
1. I'm small and don't need much for support/hi tech features.
2. I'm cheap and I just buy what I can get at Costco when I'm picking up toilet paper and laundry soap.

While I might not need much support, testing out this Zensah running bra has made me realize it would be a good idea to expand my horizons and raise my standards a bit. I really liked this bra! I wasn't too surprised though - I use Zensah compression calf sleeves (recommended by my PT) and appreciate the fabric, wicking, and support. Until I received this bra, I didn't even realize that they also make bras, tops, and running skirts.

Is this a HAWT product photo or what?! :)

As you can see, this bra has a t-back style. What you don't see is that this bra is baby soft. I really liked its softness and for the activities I tested it in, it did not chafe me and felt very nice against the skin.

For one, I like that it comes in a variety of colors:

Very nice! I tested the neon pink which definitely work me up in the mornings (seen under my tank top here):

I used this bra for: running, cycling, yoga, high-impact exercise DVDs, hiking, and wearing all day while active outdoors.

What I liked:
  • Color options - super fun options, especially for those ladies without the mummy tummy who can still run topless (oh, the good old days!).
  • Rouched stitching - it was a bit rouched on the "T" in back and on the straps in front, which was a nice design detail that dressed it up a bit but also facilitated ventilation. Check out detailed photo HERE.
  • Softness - close second to my baby's bottom.
  • Wicking - definitely dried quickly after I worked out but couldn't change clothes right away or had to hang it in my office to air dry instead of stuffing into my gym back.
  • Support - disclaimer that I am an A cup. 
Big note about SUPPORT for the little ladies. I was perfectly fine in this bra, as an A cup. For reasons I can't go into now, I grew to about a B cup while testing this and had some tenderness going on*. Big time. And I still felt perfectly supported.  I think this bra would be fine for runners with A & B cups. No prob.

Check out JESS (Run with Jess), who also reviewed this bra. Jess is larger than A/B cup and so if you fall into that category do be sure to read her review.

What I didn't like:
  • I can't think of anything. 
I've washed the bra several times over the past few months and certainly am not close to wearing it out so I can't speak to how long this lasts. I do wash in cold with sports detergent and hang dry. That usually prolongs the lifetime of my running clothes.

BOTTOM LINE (i.e., TOP LINE): If you are A/B cup and in the market for versatile, soft sports bra that comes in some really great colors for an affordable price (retail at $35.99), definitely give the Zensah bra a try.

* I am not pregnant. False alarm. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Spontaneous 5k fun run in Chicago

I'm in Chicago this week for work-related training and have been to Chicago/IL quite a few times in the past. Even though I'd run in this state, I hadn't raced in this state...until tonight!

I don't travel for work as much as I used to but when I do, I ALWAYS check local running calendars to see if there is some sort of fun run I can participate in. Since I usually travel mid-week, there isn't much change of finding a race I can join.

Until today!

Not knowing how work was going to shake out this week, I didn't want to count on being able to do the Run for Gus 5k. Not only did it work out for me to do this fun run, I also was able to get a co-worker and our trainer to join me! My co-worker runs causally and my trainer doesn't run, neither had ever done a fun run, but both were interested in bypassing the usual post-training, group dinner to join me in this race. 

I got to wear my "new" RunningSkirts cerise flower skirt. Finally! (been sitting in my drawer for 2 months)

So awesome!

This was a very small race benefiting pediatric brain cancer research. It took place in Lincoln Park / Diversey Harbor and included entrance into the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. I was  a little nervous about my co-workers, wondering how they would like paying $40 to sweat it out in the heat & humidity but I think they were happy about having a different experience. We all three finished in one piece and agreed we would be limping a little in training tomorrow!

The course was flat and included passes by the Diversey Harbor Marina: 

This guy intentionally jumped into my photo.

kids playing post-kids run

Go A! Finishing her first 5k ever!

the start/finish line

Nature trail around the nature museum. Lots of cute little rabbits running around through the wildflowers. Trail also included a pond w/ ducks & heron.
After wandering around the nature museum, we noticed that the runners inside the patio area of the museum had...BEER. That convinced me that we were going into that museum. Yeah, there was a butterfly house, yeah they had all kinds of interesting animal exhibits, yeah they had green smoothies, coconut water, and pizza, where was that beer?

Out on this lovely, huge patio overlooking the pond was a sweet party full of sweaty people. A dj was playing Katy Perry. Where was that beer? Finally, at the far end of the patio was the beer table. I was reaching for my belt to pull out some cash but when we walked up we realized...this was free beer! And they didn't seem to care how many servings you took (though I only had one - empty stomach & all)! And it wasn't any beer, it was locally made Goose Island Summertime Ale!

A's celebratory post-race brew.

Goose Island goodness!
It was warm, moon was out, scenery lush, company interesting...a fantastic finish to the day and spontaneous Chicago 5k. 

The stats:
Finish time: 29:47 (9:36 pace) = I wasn't "racing" but I could NOT have gone any faster without getting sick.
Overall place: 353 / 642
Gender place:  127 / 327

First place female finish time = 16:21,  5:16 pace. So fast!

Illinois is officially off my "to be raced in" list! 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Frigid SummeRun

For the sixth consecutive year, our family participated in the Swedish SummeRun 5k run/walk benefitting ovarian cancer research as team: Walking for Mary. Despite taking place in late July and being named after the summer season, this year's walk was FRIGID!

It didn't rain, which is good. But it was COLD. Perfect conditions for the runners, but oh so cold for the pre- and post- walking time! 

Nevertheless, it was another fantastic weekend of family reunions with celebrations of new babies and other exciting life events. Our team had 31 members this year, which is great. Team photos are not up yet but in the meantime, here are a few shots from the event...

Aunt Mary's mom & youngest daughter (team Captain)

Cousins (Army Doc on right) 


More cousins

Just a pretty church at the end of the course
Some important facts about OVARIAN CANCER:
  • Ovarian cancer is the deadliest of all gynecologic cancers.
  • The incidence and mortality of ovarian cancer has remained unchanged over the last 50 years, unlike breast and cervical cancer (i.e., we need more $$ for research).
  • Early symptoms are difficult to diagnose, leading to 75% of all ovarian cancer patients being diagnosed in advanced stages.
  • Long-term survival for advanced ovarian cancer is only 10%. 
  • 7 in 10 women die within 5 years of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

For more information, check the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer website. 


Up this week:

  • Trip to Chicago for training and possibly a 5k that will check IL off my list of states to race in!
  • Continued easy running & cross training (2 miles pain-free this morning!).
  • Hoping to order a new commuter bike! 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I like being smug

WHEN I'M ON MY BIKE, that is.

Today was a busy day and I debated about driving in to work so I could run my errands. In a rare moment of good judgement, I opted to stick with my bike commute.

Errand 1. On the way into work, I stopped off at our neighborhood bakery to place an order for a cake. This weekend is our family's annual gathering for the Swedish SummeRun 5k for ovarian cancer. We walk in honor of my Aunt Mary who passed away 5 years ago. It has turned into a great family gathering with parties all weekend long, cousins flying in from far away (ahem, Army Doc!), good food, and more. We also celebrate a birthday for little EP-turning-4 this year. His orders: white cake with chocolate frosting. Done. Pick-up will be on Saturday at noon.

Then, off to work (I might have bought myself a donut to take into the office. Yum.).

Errand 2. At 4:30 I left the office for the day and there was already traffic downtown. Didn't affect me! I breezed down my bike lane, flying past cars waiting at green lights. heh heh. suckahs! I felt pretty cool, and smug of course. I rode down to a toy store by Pike Place Market to pick up a birthday present for EP-turning-4. Stuff it in my panniers and I'm off again, cruising past traffic.

Errand 3. Quick stop for eyebrow wax. The place I go has a little bar where you can pour yourself a little shot of vodka or whiskey before you go in. I love it. From here, it was my big uphill chug home. Cars, cars, cars. Thankfully I had my wide open bike lane!

My total trip was 8.3 miles. Not bad, glad for a little extra mileage since I missed my run today.

I feel so smug for being able to cruise through traffic and not get stuck with everyone else! This is the BEST way to run errands downtown! 

Biking rocks.
Living close to where I work rocks even more.

Tonight, we attended a public meeting in our neighborhood about MORE BIKE LANES and bike crossing marks for intersections that are being added to facilitate safe riding for kids to/from our parks and schools. Love it. It's all thanks to a few local activist bikers. THANK YOU!

That's all I have to say about that.


My next report will be about our annual "Walking for Mary" gathering at the Swedish SummeRun! Quick notes:
1. I have not challenged Army Doc this year to a race.
2. Instead, I will be walking this year as with last, enjoying the company of my family and friends.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Be the first to run

I just found out about this inaugural race in Everett, WA today and it sounds awesome. For those of us recovering from injuries & such, a late fall race could be just the ticket. Plenty of time to prepare! Know what I like about this new course, aside from the North Cascade Mountain, pastoral, and Snohomish River views?

It's going to be: FLAT and FAST.

Who doesn't like a PR opportunity?
A tune-up before the Seattle Half Marathon?
Be among the first to run this new course!

Need more motivation? Use this code:

AverageSRR12 to get $10 off your registration fee!

Know what else I'm looking forward to? An excuse to stop by the Scuttlebutt Brewing Company! Yes, their brewery is located in Everett. And they have a restaurant a which you can replenish all that energy you burn on your half marathon or 10k. As they say at Scuttlebutt, "The liver is evil and must be punished."

Let's do this thang!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Soap Much Love WINNER & sore muscle remedies

Thanks for participating in the give-away and for the tips about sore muscles. Here are sore muscle remedies posted by commenters:

  • I love arnica gel or creams for sore muscles. Also a heating pad for neck and back. For legs, recovery or compression socks are heavenly!
  • For me, i really like to use "elmore oil" for muscles pain to the neck and also to my back.
  • I could not live without my foam roller for the sore muscles in my legs.
  • I love my compression, my foam roller, my stick and my ice packs.
  • For me, it's plain old heat rub but I like the new ones that roll on like deodorant. No more greasy hands.
  • I usually use biofreeze after the shower.
  • When my ankle and Achilles are giving me too much grief, I like to rest them on an ice pack laying in bed, and simultaneously put a hot water bottle on my frequently tired quads.
  • I take L-Glutamine after really hard races or runs, seems to help recover quicker. Other than that, I just take a nice long soaking bath and that helps!
  • Epsom Salts bath (with Lavender).
  • Biofreeze and Epsom Salts. I also try to use recovery supplements on long runs (Endurox) or heavy weights days (BCAAs).
  • My favorite sore muscle remedy is two Tylenol & a massage from my hubby.

Now, get ready to wash away those sore muscles!  The following three winners need to shoot a message to to let me know where to send your soap...

Sore Muscle Soap from SoapMuchLove.Com
Angie Bee 

True Random Number Generator  2Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Jen @ Runner Maybe

True Random Number Generator  20Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Jill @ Run with Jill

True Random Number Generator  17Powered by RANDOM.ORG

(why does the random number generator default to max: 100 when pasted? i used max = 23.)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The new commute

HA! I KNEW my bike commute was a bit longer to our new office! My previous commute was 5.2 miles round trip. Now, I have a little extra hill on the way into work (total climb = 569 ft) and the round trip distance is 5.8 miles. Not a lot but that's a nice little bonus each day. Quite the right amount for pre- / post-work actually.

Courtesey of

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Chicago bound!

Ticket bought, it's happening!

Another training course for work in one of my favorite cities, Chicago. It seems I get there 1-2 times per year for the last several years and I love it. It's work-work but I've managed to squeeze in some fun stuff on previous visits, which is rare, including a nice run along the lake during my last non-winter visit.

What kills me about these trips to Chicago is that I still have not crossed Illinois off my list of states to race in, even though I've been there quite a few times recently. Well, I think I may be getting lucky on this trip. Even though I'm not running a lot of miles right now, I can certainly make it through a 5k.

I will be in town just Tuesday night through Friday afternoon and can you believe there is a 5k just a few miles from my hotel on THURSDAY night? I think I'm done with training at 5:00 so I will have JUST enough time to sprint to the hotel, change clothes, catch a cab to the start, register, then RUN.

I had been saving Thursday (my only free night) for a trip to Frontera Grill but I'll have to defer that pleasure to a quick lunch at XOCO on Friday instead. Believe me, this is a tough call because Rick Bayless food is better than drugs. For reals.

Anyone out there in Chicago-land planning on or interested in running a Thursday, July 26, 7:00 p.m. 5k, the 10th annual RUN FOR GUS at Diversey Harbor? 

"Run for Gus is a fun and inspiring event to raise funds for pediatric brain tumor research and Family Services programs at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago."

I'll probably do day-of-race registration since you never know what kind of kinks work can throw into a plan but I'm going to make every effort to do this race and add IL to my list of states raced. 

Fingers crossed no work fires are started. 

Any takers out there?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

New shoe review by a cheater & inspirational running gear

It's been bothering me having so many posts about "stuff" lately. Even though it's running-related, I much prefer to write about running. It's just been strange lately that I've received so many free things. It's exciting but I just wish I could be putting more miles in to put it all into greater use.

For now, PATIENCE. In time, I'll build up my miles but need to take it one day at a time.

Recently, I was invited to participate in Mizuno's Mezamashii Project. I received an invitation in the mail and was asked to enter my code on the website. The site included a video describing the Project and then gave me a phone number to call to receive a free pair of shoes. After reviewing their running shoes, I selected a support shoe, the Wave Elixir.

The Mezamashii Project hope to help people "run brilliant." If you are interested, go to the link above and ask for an invitation to the project. 

I have been running since about 1988. Since then, I have run in Avia, Nike, New Balance, Asics, Addidas, Saucony, and Brooks. Never Mizuno. I have been a Brooks girl since ~ 2005 or 2006. I've always associated Mizuno with soccer and other team sport gear.

This past Thursday after the Fourth of July holiday, I stayed home from work in hopes of having the day off (little guy was at Gramma's). I got up, grabbed my Earl Gray, and decided to check work email. Time slipped by. At 10:30 a.m., the UPS driver dropped off the new Mizunos. I tore open the box and my first impression was:

1. Well, my eyes are awake now. Very loud. But they look FAST. And something about the pattern made me think of snake skin. Blue snake skin =>> FAST running shoes. 

I put them on my bare feet. My second impression was:

2. These are freakishly light for a support shoe. 

I really wanted to go for a run and check out these shoes but I felt like I was cheating on my Brooks. Plus, I was stuck working. I was trapped. NEVER check work email unless you won't mind working all day.

After wearing my new Mizunos all day at my computer, I finally detached myself at 4 p.m. so I could take the shoes for a spin. They were indeed very light for a support shoe. They were completely different from my Brooks Adrenaline. Not better or worse, just different. They felt like I was wearing a slipper - comparatively thinner outsole, particularly in the forefoot. In fact, they almost felt like a minimalist shoe. I could actually feel rocks & uneven terrain beneath my feet. This wasn't a bad thing, just quite different from my more cushioned Brooks and the Nike Pegasus I have around for walking. Despite feeling thinner in the forefoot, the shoe didn't feel hard or uncomfortable.

How should I describe these then?
  • Comfortable
  • Breathe well 
  • Lightweight
  • Responsive
  • Fun, WILD appearance
I will continue to test them out, along with my Brooks Glycerin. Can I see myself switching brands? Do I have to stick with just one brand? I don't know. But, I can say that after wearing Brooks for so many years, I am shocked at how different these feel.

For someone looking for a lightweight trainer that is very responsive for a support shoe, I would recommend they try on the Mizuno Wave Elixir.

One more thing about running "stuff." Not to marginalize this by putting it at the end of a post, but I wanted to mention a new brand of running clothes I recently heard about:
On July 1, janjii (also on Facebook HERE) debuted new running items. What caught my eye about this and what made me want to mention it here is that this clothing is inspired by flags from countries in need and the purchase of their items actually helps these countries. Their slogan is to "Run for Another."

From janji:

The design of each piece of Janji apparel is based on the flag of a country affected by the global food and water crisis. A portion of the proceeds from the apparel goes to fund sustainable solutions through an organization partnering with Janji:
-Each purchase of the Haiti apparel provides 3 lifesaving meals to a malnourished child
-Each purchase of the Kenya apparel provides a season's worth of water for a Kenyan family
New designs coming in 2013: Janji will support Bangladesh, Rwanda, and Tanzania with its running apparel. 
If you live in Seattle, you can view their products at our best local running store, SUPER JOCK & JILL in Greenlake. I haven't had a chance to go look at their apparel yet but when I'm up in that part of town, I will stop in to see janji items. If you go, please write me and tell me what you think!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

June challenges & RUNNING again!

Before I get started, be sure to enter my first ever giveaway HERE: SoapMuchLove sore muscle soap to wash away your aches & pains.

In March, I was going strong until I got a little too ambitious and brought some nasty old plantar fasciitis on myself. I tried to keep the faith through April but by May, I had lost heart and become a lazy butt. So, beginning in June, I decided to enter several challenges. 

Things didn't work out exactly as I'd planned but I did ok:

Green Smoothie Challenge
Goal: One green smoothie per day.
Actual: I did it! Well, except for one day, the day of Seattle RNR when I was just plain too busy. I tried all kinds of combinations of fruits with my greens and found somethings that worked and am making a habit of taking a fresh green smoothie to work with me every day to snack on & keep me away from junk food. One important lesson: A little cilantro goes a long way!

Sit-Up Challenge (100x Challenge)
Goal: 100 sit-ups per week/400 per month.
Actual: 349 were logged. I did cut back the week of Seattle RNR while fighting a cold but otherwise, I'm pretty sure I got more than 400 sit-ups in since they are a part of my regular routine but I would forget to log them.

Another Mother Runner Challenge
Goal: 5 days exercise/week.
Actual: I did it! Except (again) for the week preceding the Seattle RNR. I was sick for a few days so I missed a couple workouts that week. What I am disappointed about is that while I did some form of exercise most days, the intensity was lacking. I had hoped to make it into the pool but didn't and didn't pump as much iron as I hoped.


It's a new month now and I'm happy to be working in a new office building located directly across from my gym. NO EXCUSES!

My goals for July are to:
  • Get back to some cross-training and strength training on a regular basis.
  • Continue to log some easy running miles. I've "run" four times now with success! I don't want to jinx myself, but I think I'm back
  • Make no running goals. Just take it EASY. Someone please kick me if I start talking about any running goals this month. Have I learned my lesson?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

First ever give-away: Wash away the pain

Happy July 1st! Just 4 more days until summer officially starts in Seattle!

For some reason, I always thought I would never do a giveaway. I guess because I just wanted to focus on running (or lately, whining about how I can't run because I'm a ding-a-ling who likes to push too hard at times and end up getting hurt!). But recently my friend Ada, who is a WAHM, created something great that I wanted to share. So, I ordered several & am going to give away to you...

Goat milk sore muscle soap
This yummy, moisturizing soap to sooth your sore muscles. As the soap wears down around the adzuki beans, rub your muscles with the bar and the beans give your muscles a nice massage. Ada's website says this about the soap:

I scented this goat milk soap with Sore Muscle Synergistic Essential Oil. Arnica extract oil and organic Aduki beans were added. It is believed that Arnica is beneficial for muscle aches , bruises, swelling, and inflammation from insect bites. I have used it for many years, even in homeopathy sphere balls.

Ada is "Soap Much Love, LLC" and makes natural soaps, bath bombs, salt scrubs/bars, and sugar scrubs in her kitchen. Her philosophy is to only use ingredients that are safe for her kids to be around, which is a big plus to me too. Her soaps are based on glycerine or goat milk and are completely detergent and sulfate free. You can see many examples at her Etsy shop, Craft Cafe shop, and on Facebook or here...

I love these soaps because I love supporting my friend's business, I love that she's a WAHM, they are beautiful, smell delicious, and are non-drying, and I love that I can identify most all the ingredients. I've been keeping a stash around to use at home (my son is extra motivated to wash using her crayon and Lego shaped soaps!) and also as last-minute party or hostess gifts.

Two weeks from today (JULY 15), I will draw three names of people who leave a comment on this post. Let me know your favorite sore muscle remedy. If you want extra entries, you can announce this give-away in other ways (if you tweet, copy me: @almamcf and @SoapMuchLove). You can also check out Soap Much Love's Facebook site and say hello to Ada and tell her I sent you. Whatever you do, just leave me a comment & let me know.

Excuse me, I think I'm going to go take a soak...!