What I Wore {post 27}

My "What I Wore" posts will feature a lot of flats.  It breaks my heel-loving heart to say this, but this Fall I've been struggling with some tightness in my knee and hamstring.  No pain, and the tightness goes away when I am actually running.  But I would feel it when I wasn't running.  I tried pretending it wasn't a problem, but then started to worry.  So I went to an orthopaedic doctor and braced myself for bad news.  I was thrilled when he said it was just tendonitis and suggested I see a physical therapist to help.  In the meantime, Amy, Bill and I hired a coach for our Ironman training, and part of his deal is to ask his athletes to see his preferred PT to get an assessment, so he knows what he is starting with.  That is part of why we hired him: his injury-prevention focus.  So I saw the PT and she has been amazing, helping me work out the hamstring tightness and helping me strengthen my weak spots.  The only negative: she suggested I not wear heels every day.  And I wept.

It is an easy fix and, as much as I hate to admit it, it has made a difference.  The heels definitely put a lot of strain on my knees.  But oh my closet.  Oh my outfits!  And oh ... the teasing I endure now that people at work realize how short my 5'1" self actually is (I have been walking around in 3-4 inch heels every day for years!).  I had to buy a bunch of new pants because all of my pants are hemmed to be worn with heels.  Sigh.  So, this is a very long way of me telling you that you will see a lot more outfits with flats.  I'll still wear heels from time to time, but sadly not every day.  On with the outfits!

* Magenta Dress & Brown Riding Boots *

This dress was a steal from the Gap earlier this year.  I know it was under $20.  I love the shape and love that I can wear it with any number of shoes.  I wore my dark brown tights and brown flat riding boots with it.  Fun fun.  

* Bootcut jeans, Black top, Magenta scarf *

This was a quick photo I snapped on my way out the door to go shopping with Jamie.  Sorry that you cannot see the whole outfit.  I wore my black flats with my bootcut jeans and a simple black v-neck long sleeved tee.  The outfit needed something more, so I grabbed my magenta scarf (from Target).  I carried my fun little Burberry purse (that I bought pre-kids) and wore oversized sunglasses.  

* Tweed Skirt & Silk Blouse *

Happy day! Happy day!  I had been on the hunt for a pretty tweed skirt for months!  I bought about four of them and none worked: one was too big, one was too bulky, one was too short and finally, I found this multi-colored one at Banana Republic and it fit perfectly!  I wore it with a cream silk Vince blouse from Nordstrom that was a deal I could not pass up.  The blouse is pretty long, so I can't wait to wear it again with some skinny jeans.  I wore my black flats with this outfit because I had to, but it would look much better with my patent heels.  

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

See you swoon,

Finishing the Entryway

Happy Monday!  Happy Thanksgiving week!  Work has been really crazy lately, so I haven't been able to blog much at all.  I have a slew (which translates to about 20) of painting projects lined up and just need a little time to do them.  I am hoping to be able to start a handful over the long Thanksgiving weekend.  

Recently, I decided to make my entryway a little more welcoming, and all it took was purchasing a couple of rugs.  Here is the space when I started:

As you can see it wasn't bad, but that blue tile floor tortured me.  There is nothing I can do about it, so I needed to make the best of it.  The little mat by the front door was something I bought when I moved in and haven't really thought much about it since then.  I knew I wanted to buy a larger rug for the space and a runner for the hallway, but just didn't make it happen.  Until ... there was a major rug sale on Joss & Main and I found the 4x6 jute rug for next to nothing!  It was the perfect size and look for my entryway by the door.  So in it came and out went the mat.  The larger rug makes the space look bigger and yet cozier and warmer at the same time.  And it blissfully hides the blue tile.

As for the runner, I bought a handful of options at Target and ended up with this soft one.  It brings in the colors from the rest of the space and is colorful enough to hide dirt and stains (mmm, I hope).

These rugs really do make the entryway look about 10,000 times better.  See the difference?

Before ...

and After!

Finally, I decided the wall next to the half bath needed something simple - some art.

I grabbed an old Susy Jack calendar print and framed it.  It is funny how something so small can make such a big change.

This little spruce-up will tide me over until I can paint the entire house.  Right now, the wall color is a white with very blue undertones, which really brings out the blue in the tile.  Which makes me want to cry.  So this Winter, I am hoping/planning to tackle the space and tone down those awful undertones by painting it a warm white.   Woo hoo!  

See you swoon,

Race Recap: 2013 Philadelphia Marathon!!

Yes!  Yay!  So remember that goal I had to run a marathon in under four hours?  Yeah, I did that yesterday.   My official time was 3:56:54.  It was a terrific race.  I ran the 26.2 miles in an average 9:02 mile pace, was 198th in my age group (out of 775 women aged 35-39), 1197 among women (out of 4879 women) and 3798 overall out of 10,872 marathon runners.  I am freaking stoked.  Here's the text with my time (which appears to be :02 seconds slower than my official time)

So sit back, relax and get ready to hear a ton of details.  

Ever since my 4:00:00 race time last year, I've been hungry to break the 4 hour mark.  Well, let's face it: I was hungry before.  But this made me want it even more.  It is such an arbitrary number too - it's not like breaking 4 hours would qualify me for Boston or had any real significance, apart from having huge significance to me.  

My race plan was to keep a consistent slower than normal pace and just hold it.  These days my pace is around 8:30.  As I became painfully aware last year, you need to run an average 9:09 pace to break the four hour mark.  My plan was to run most of the race around 9:00 miles, which would give me some time to play with at the end.  I also ditched any hope of starting slow for that first mile: I always, on every single race, go out of the gate like a bat out of hell.  I can't help myself and I have tried (ok, i haven't).  Because we do everything! together!, my friends Amy and Bill were running yesterday too and they were doing the half - both were shooting for PRs themselves (and both achieved PRs by a hefty margin - yay go team!).  I asked Amy if I could run the first mile with her and then at mile 1, I wanted her to keep the pace and I would go slower. I figured this might work: I would have to watch her run away from me (which gave me a sad to be alone but also happy for her because she was putting the hammer down) and it would force me to slow down.  It worked!  Mile 1 was speedy but the rest of the race was very, robotically consistent.

It was a warm day for a marathon: 52 degrees at the start and warmed to what I think was probably mid-60s by the end for me.  For most of the race, the sun was behind clouds, but at the end the sun came out and it got hot.  I wore shorts and a short-sleeved shirt, and around Mile 4, I regretted not wearing a tank.   

It always helps to have supporters and friends on the course, and I was lucky to have a bunch peppered throughout the course.  My friend was going to be at mile 7, Jamie (!!) would be in Manayunk around mile 19/20, and then Bill and Amy would be at the finish.  I even ended up running into a friend from high school around mile 19 who was cheering!  

Here is the course so you get an idea of where I'm talking about - you can also see it here

My Garmin was a good 1/4 mile fast (argh!) which made my pace on the watch faster than the pace in real life, which meant ... I had to do math on the run.  Literally.  I could not rely on my paces because they just weren't accurate.  So I decided to just assume I should be at an average 9 minute mile pace and at each mile mark I'd multiply the mile by 9 and look at my watch and figure out if my overall time equalled that pace.  My watch had me at an average 8:56 pace, and the official time had me at 9:02, so all the split times you see below are my Garmin time with 6 seconds added.  I think that is accurate.  If not, it's math so it's good enough for me. 

Mile 1:  8:24

Not surprisingly, this was my fastest mile.  I got the split, got freaked out that I could not sustain that pace and slowed the heck down after waving goodbye to Amy.

Mile 2: 8:50
Mile 3: 8:49
Mile 4: 8:54

Miles 2-4 are pretty quiet and very flat.  I tried hard to slow to a 9:00 pace but it obviously didn't happen.  I started to worry at this point that I was running too fast.  It's unlike me to want to see a 9:00 mile, but I really did, and when I did not see it, I would groan and yell at my splits.  My legs did not want to listen.  I consoled myself with the fact that last year, I was running a good 20-30 seconds per mile faster at this point in the race, so I was moving slower than I was last year.  

Mile 5:  9:04

Mile 5 last year was a slower one for me, too.  Funny that this was my first 9 minute mile. I wonder what it is about that spot.  I wish I could remember, but alas. I cannot.  This mile boasted my favorite sign of the day, though:  "you think running is hard? try holding this sign. Also: I'm drunk" and I believe she was.  It was LOL funny.  As was the guy in the british flag speedo (and that's all). 

Other good signs:

If marathons were easy, they'd be called your mom <----- never gets old
You're running better than the government is!
Don't trust that fart
You fools!
My last marathon was breaking bad
I don't know you, but GO!
Is that an energy gel in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?
This was such a good idea 4 months ago <----- this was at mile 24

The signs are the best.  If you ever have a chance to go to a race and cheer people on, bring a sign.  And if possible, bring a cowbell. 

Mile 6:  8:50
Mile 7:  8:45

Look at those consistent splits! Miles 6-7 are on Chestnut Street and it is one of my favorite parts of the race.  People line the street and you feel like a rock star.  It is seriously Tour de France style.  If the Tour were a running race.  I got a high five from my friend and kept on going.  

Mile 8:  8:55
Mile 9:  8:54
Mile 10:  9:00

Miles 8 and 10 have hills.  The hill at Mile 8 is through Drexel University and is a very long two-part hill.  It's not particularly steep, but it's loooooong.  The hill in mile 10 is the doozie.  It is steep.  It is not short.  It is hard.  The only "good" thing about it is there is a great water stop at the top run by my running club and they hand out energy gels.  But that's all the Pollyanna I can muster for that hill.  Moving on. 

Mile 11: 8:47
Mile 12: 8:52
Mile 13: 8:54

Miles 11 through 13 are down a steep hill to West River Drive and then it's flat flat flat to the Art Museum.  About half way through mile 12, the half and full marathons split.  The half marathon athletes run toward the finish and the full marathon athletes head left onto Kelly Drive.  I didn't look right.  I didn't look at the people going right.  I pointed left and got as far left as I could get.  Once you get past the split and on Kelly, it's just marathon athletes and the course opens up a bit.  And pretty soon into my run up Kelly, I knew I'd see the elite athletes finishing. 

I laugh at the consistency of the following miles:

Mile 14: 8:49
Mile 15: 8:58
Mile 16: 8:54  

I never, ever remember much about these miles.  You have to sort of "reset" your run at this point and keep in mind you have a good 10-12 miles to go.  I am always happily distracted by searching for the leaders - the first dude, the first woman, the first wheelchair athlete.  Then I start looking for Mile 17 and the Falls Bridge and its weird little loop out and back that you have to do.  I hate it, so I am happy to get it done. 

Mile 17:  8:55

This is the worst part of the race.  Worse than the hills in the first half.  Worse than the last few miles.  You run across the Falls Bridge and then have to run a good 1/4 mile on West River Drive and then turn around and come back over the Bridge.  It stinks.  

Mile 18: 9:15
Mile 19: 9:01
Mile 20: 9:21
Mile 21: 9:01

Welcome to the land of 9 minute miles.  Right about at Mile 17, I ran out of my diluted Gatorade that I keep in my fuel belt.  I could carry two more bottles, but I purposefully do not.  Once I run out of my own Gatorade, I force myself to stop and walk through each water stop and drink Gatorade.  Yes, it cost me a few seconds per mile, but I think those few seconds were well worth it.  I decided to do my very best to walk only at the water stops and not in between.  I mostly stuck to this plan. I was motivated to keep running by my experience last year: literally every second counts.  

Back to the splits:  these miles are Manayunk! There are inclines around Manayunk, but the crowds are so amazing, that it totally makes up for it. I knew Jamie would be in Manayunk cheering for me, so that helped a ton. Actually, I started getting excited about seeing her around Mile 14. Knowing someone is waiting for you and happy to cheer for you keeps you going.  And even if I didn't have Jamie there, I would have been excited to get to Manayunk.  There are a ton of spectators there.  I love this part of the race.  

Here are the pictures that she took of me.  

In the last picture, I happened to see my friend from high school who was there cheering on her triathlon club!  Crazy small world.  Also: I like the way my legs look in these pictures.  

Mile 22: 9:32
Mile 23: 9:44
Mile 24: 9:30
Mile 25: 9:52

My pace fell off here a bit.  In the Manayunk miles, my pace was about on track with what I'd run the earlier part of the race, plus a few seconds per mile when I walked through the water stops.  Here, I was 3 hours and 22 miles in ... my legs were getting tired and I was getting tired.  But, I stuck to my plan: keep moving and don't stop, don't walk unless you see a water stop.  On Mile 23, one of my favorite ABBA songs (and there were seven) on my playlist came on.  It is "Take a Chance on Me" and it had the *perfect* cadence for me at that time.  So I hit repeat when it was done.  And I hit repeat again. And then repeat a fourth time.  I would like to dedicate Mile 23 as the ABBA mile.  An entire mile of one ABBA song.  These miles are tough.  I remember thinking "ah yes, marathons are very hard" around this part of the course.  Thankfully, I get race amnesia pretty quickly.  

Around Mile 23, I knew I "only" had a 5K to go and based on my overall time, I also figured that even if I ran 12 minute miles from here on out, I could finish in under 4 hours.  This made me happy, but I also know to never, ever, count those chickens before they are hatched.  I had to keep pushing. Keep running.  Don't stop.  That's what she said. 

Mile 24 I got passed by a blind runner.  He had a support crew around him and the lead guy tapped me and told me there was a blind runner coming, so I moved over.  He and his pacer were sort of tethered together with a strap that they both held onto.  It was incredibly inspiring.  I never passed them, so I know he finished in the 3s.  Amazing. 

Mile 26 & 26.2:  9:12

Mile 26 was, and was last year, a huge boost.  Aside from knowing the race is almost and finally over, the area has a similar feel to the crowds at Chestnut Street around Mile 7 - tons of people are out, cheering, yelling your name, screaming their heads off, ringing cowbells ... all for you.  It is wonderful and amazing and, in some weird way, very humbling.  It gave me energy to push hard and finish strong.  As I neared the chute, I realized I was doing it.  I was achieving my goal and reaching my dream.  Over my music I heard, "SHANNA" and looked to my left and saw Amy and Bill.  I can't remember what I did, but I'm pretty sure I either gave a dorky thumbs up or did a more cool fist pump.  I saw the finish, I saw the time and thought, hey, let's finish this mo fo in under 3:57.  And ... I did.  3:56:54.  

I crossed the mat and cried.  Not a huge emotional cry, but these lovely little tears of joy.  I showed my watch to the woman who gave me my medal. I gave countless high fives in the chute to people around me.  It was awesome. What was even more awesome? Seeing Amy and Bill, getting and giving lots of hugs (PRs for everyone! yay!) and then Amy gave me a cold Sprite.  Again: tears.  For a girl who doesn't drink soda, my love of Sprite at the end of a long race or run is a pretty strange and yet beautiful thing.  It is the best, most amazingly delicious drink ever once you cross that finish line.  I start thinking about Sprite toward the end of every race I do.   

And as though crossing the finish in my goal time wasn't enough, I came back to a phone on fire with texts and Facebook messages and emails from friends and family who followed my race.  It was wonderful, and it made me feel great.  

So there you go! A long recap of a pretty long race.  So ends my 2013 race season.  But so begins official training for Ironman Lake Placid 2014.  A few times during the race, I reminded myself that the next time I do this distance, it will be there and I will have swum 2.4 miles and biked 112 miles preceding it.  That's in July.  And there's miles and miles to go before I do that race.

See you swoon,

I made another really rockin playlist for this race.  I run and respond very well to questionable music.  Feel free to borrow any of the songs, but do not judge.  I don't remember what miles it happened on, but Dionne Warwick, Kenny Rogers and the entire London cast of Les Miserables got me through some pretty tough spots.


Alone (Heart)
Apache (The Sugarhill Gang)
Billie Jean (Michael Jackson)
Black Water (The Doobie Brothers)
Blurred Lines (Robin Thicke)
Brandy (Looking Glass)
Break My Stride (Matthew Wilder)
Build Me Up Buttercup (The Foundations)
Carry On  (Fun)
Chiquitita (ABBA)
Colour My World (Chicago)
Come Monday (Jimmy Buffett) 
Cruisin' (Gwyneth Paltrow & Huey Lewis)
Different Drum (The Stone Poneys)
Do You Hear the People Sing? (Les Misérables Original London Cast)
Do You Know the Way to San Jose (Dionne Warwick)
Does Your Mother Know (ABBA)
Don't Fall In Love With a Dreamer  (Kenny Rogers & Kim Carnes)
Don't Go Breaking My Heart (Elton John & Kiki Dee)
Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough (Michael Jackson)
Eye of the Tiger (Survivor)
Fernando (ABBA)
The Gambler (Kenny Rogers)
Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (ABBA)
Girl You Know It's True  (Milli Vanilli)
Gloria (Laura Branigan)
Here I Go Again (Whitesnake)
Higher (Creed)
Hold On (Wilson Phillips)
I Am...I Said (Neil Diamond)
I Got a Name (Jim Croce)
I Say a Little Prayer  (Aretha Franklin)
I'll Have to Say I Love You In a Song (Jim Croce)
I'll Never Love This Way Again (Dionne Warwick)
(I've Had) The Time of My Life (Bill Medley & Jennifer Warner)
If You Leave Me Now (Chicago)
Islands In the Stream (Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers)
It's Not Unusual (Tom Jones)
Just You And Me (Chicago)
Killing Me Softly With His Song (Fugees)
Knowing Me, Knowing You (ABBA)
Kodachrome (Paul Simon)
La Isla Bonita (Madonna)
Livin' On a Prayer (Bon Jovi)
Lonely People (America)
The Long And Winding Road (The Beatles)
Mamma Mia (ABBA)
Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard (Paul Simon)
Never Knew Love Like This Before (Stephanie Mills)
Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels) (Jim Croce)
Our House (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
Party In the U.S.A. (Miley Cyrus)
Penny Lane (The Beatles)
Reach Out I'll Be There (The Four Tops )
Right Back Where We Started From (Maxine Nightingale)
Say Hey (I Love You) (Michael Franti & Spearhead)
Shoop (Salt-n-Pepa)
Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It) (Beyoncé)
Sister Golden Hair (America)
Sloop John B ( The Beach Boys)
Someday We'll Be Together (Diana Ross & The Supremes)
Southern Cross (Jimmy Buffett)
Suspicious Minds (Elvis Presley)
Take a Chance On Me (ABBA)
Take Me Home, Country Roads (John Denver)
Then Came You (The Spinners & Dionne Warwick)
The Tide Is High (Blondie)
Tiny Dancer (Elton John)
Too Much Heaven (Bee Gees)
Upside Down (Diana Ross)
Ventura Highway (America)
Walk Away Renee (The Left Banke)
The Warrior (Scandal)
We Belong (Pat Benatar)
We Just Disagree (Dave Mason)
What a Fool Believes (The Doobie Brothers)
Wild World (Cat Stevens )
Woudn't It Be Nice (The Beach Boys)
You Can't Hurry Love (Diana Ross & The Supremes)
You Decorated My Life (Kenny Rogers)

Twenty twenty twenty six miles to go ...

It's marathon week, baby!  Guess who is ready with a capital READY TO GO OMG???!!  That would be me.  This girl.  The one with the medal and the extremely red face.

So the marathon is on Sunday and once again, I have a goal to run it in under 4 hours.  Last year, I had the same sub-4 hour goal, and I ran it in exactly 4 hours on the money.  I mean it.  My final, official time is 4:00:00.  I achieved the impossible ... and yet was still one one-hundreth of a second short of my goal.  That stupid 4 preceding my time has plagued me for a year.

Looking back at the race in 2012, and in particular at my splits, one thing is clear: I started out way too fast.  I started the race at an 8:30ish pace and with each mile got a little bit slower, eventually ending the last few miles of the race in the mid to high 9s.  I felt tired at mile 17 and the subsequent miles were harder than they should have been.  So, since that time, I've been focusing on running a more disciplined, more measured, more strong and steady pace for my long runs.

I've found, not surprisingly, that this actually works!  On almost all of my long runs this year, I've followed a similar pattern: go faster than I should on mile 1, then slow it way down for the next 2-3 miles, and then settle into a very steady, almost robotically steady, pace of about 9:00-9:03 minute miles.  I'll have a few high 8s in there, but for the most part, my splits reflect 9:00, 9:01, 9:02 or 9:03.  In order to run a 4 hour marathon, you must average a 9:09 mile pace, so if I can stick to what I have been doing in training on race day, I will be in good shape.   I have been really surprised at how much stronger I feel on those runs too.  I don't feel gassed - I feel good. And the recovery has been easier as well.

I debated running with the 4:00 pace group, and for awhile I was convinced I should do it.  But I've changed my mind.  First, the pace groups are kind of a big pack, and I don't like running in a big pack (especially with people I don't know).  Part of what I love most about long runs is the ability to groove to my (really bad) music, enjoy my surroundings, settle in and relax and just run my own race.  I also worried that I'd be fretting the whole time - is the pacer going too fast? too slow? when should I break away from the pack? what if I break away and lose steam? what if I break away too late?  what if what if what if??  Stressed running is not fun running.  So I am bagging the pace group idea.  I would feel differently if I was trying to BQ (Boston Qualify), but that's a different, future race.

So wish me luck, god speed, empty bladder, great weather, a great shuffle on the iPod, quick feet and happy lungs.  I'll be sure to report back after the race -- hopefully with a finish time beginning with a 3.    
See you swoon,

What I Wore {post 26}

How about another "what I wore" post?  Don't mind if I do.  

Black Sheath Dress & Chain Link Cardigan

This is why I am a fan of dresses for work: they are so easy.  I wore my black sheath dress from Banana Republic Outlet (I can't remember the price, but it was insane ... something like $10) and because it is cooler now, I wore a chain link cardigan that I got at Talbot's on mad sale a bunch of years ago.  I am not typically a Talbot's shopper (which is to say I don't shop there at all), but sometimes I pop in for a deal.

Orange Cardigan, Dark Grey Shell, Trouser Jeans

I wore this on a casual Friday at work.  These trouser jeans are from the Gap from years ago.  I love how they've maintained their dark wash.  I wore my orange cardigan from Banana Republic Outlet from last Winter and a dark grey shell from the Ann Taylor outlet.  The leopard print flats are from Payless and are, without a doubt, the most comfortable flats I own.

Navy and Magenta Striped Sweater & Grey Pants

This was a kind of easy outfit.  The sweater was essentially free from Banana Republic. I had a giftcard and a rewards certificate, so I ordered it, a button-down and a necklace, which cost me about $2 out of pocket. I loved the stripes and the fit.  I wore it with my grey pants and my j.crew factory outlet bubble necklace.   

I've got some shopping on the horizon ... jeans shopping (ok other shopping too) with Jamie and a trip to my favorite outlets with my friend Heather. I am going to restrain myself.  I will.  I'll try.  I mean it.

See you swoon,

A handful of running gear reviews

Happy Monday.  Blerg.

As promised, I have two reviews of new running gear, and one kudos to something I already own.  For the new gear, I'll give it away up front and say if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  On race day, I always stick to the tried and true and what works for me - race day is never, ever, a time to try anything new.  But on training runs, that's the time to experiment.  I decided to give a try to a handheld water bottle instead of my fuel belt (around my waist) and compression calf sleeves on a long run.  But first a huge shout out to something that I already own -- my headlamp!  I'll start with that.

Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp

Last week, I blogged about my recommended gear for running in the dark.  One of my top picks is my headlamp:  the Black Diamond Sprinter headlamp.  I really love it because it's stretchy and I truly cannot feel it on my head.  It has pretty good battery power and it's bright and lights my way so that I can see where I am going and so that cars can see me.  It's an all around win win.  Anyway, late last week, I was doing a morning run in the dark and had on my headlamp.  I got to my favorite trail, which is a 1.3 mile loop around a lovely little park, and immediately relaxed because it's totally closed to traffic.  I looked like this.  Except I was running.  

Right after I got on the trail, I saw an older couple holding hands and walking on the path coming toward me.  I immediately thought, "Oh ... how cute is that."  As I got closer, the woman was holding her arm up to her eyes. I figured it was my light.  It was, after all, pitch dark out and my light is pretty bright.  So I kept running and neared the end of the path.  As I got to the top of the hill, I saw the old couple again.  This time, both of them were stopped and holding their arms up over their eyes in a very dramatic fashion.  This time, I got it.  Ok, it's my headlamp.  I kept going and the woman pulled down her arm and yelled, "THAT LAMP IS TERRIBLE!!!!!".  I was stunned.  But my first reaction was to laugh, and so laugh I did.  And I continued to laugh, out loud, all the way home.  I've never seen these people before on the trail, but if i do, and if they complain again, I will absolutely stop, stop my watch (which is akin to a girl getting ready to fight in a bar and asking her friends to "here, hold my earrings") and tell her that she's rude and my light may be bright but it is designed to be that way so that I don't get hit by a car and die.  

In any event, I came away from the encounter at least reassured that my headlamp is nice and bright.  Good job headlamp.  

Amphipod Handheld

I have been wearing a fuel belt (pictured at no. 4 below) on my long runs and long races (i.e., half marathon and above), ever since 2002.  They don't even make this type of fuel belt anymore.  I love it: it has enough holsters for my water and gatorade and a front pocket for Gu, a phone, a key, etc.  I clip my iPod onto the belt and run.  I feel a little like a tool using it, but it works great for me and I like that on a race I don't have to count on hydration stations.  

I've been seeing a lot of runners use these nifty looking handheld water bottles.  So the last time I was at the running store, I decided to give it a shot and try the Amphipod Hydraform Handheld Pocket.  This guy, right here.  

It was about $20 and holds 20 ounces of fluid.  It also has a nice sized pocket on the side for Gu or keys or whatever.  I loved how it felt in my hand - it wrapped around with a strap so I didn't feel like I was carrying anything.  The guy at the running store was confused why I wanted to try it if the fuel belt worked for me, but he sold it to me anyway.  And, at the end of the day, the handheld didn't work for me.  I really missed my belt and I knew after about 3 miles that this wasn't going to work.  I like having my hands free, and this was the opposite of that.  I also missed the convenience of having both diluted Gatorade and water.  So needless to say, this was a miss for me.  But I am glad I tried it because I could rule it out for me ... and it made me love my dorky fuel belt all the more.  

CEP Compression Calf Sleeves

I'd been dying to try out compression calf sleeves since I heard about them.  Compression socks and sleeves are supposedly great for runners: they aid in recovery and purportedly help you run faster.  I have a pair of compression socks and don't really like them but I saw the sleeves at a race expo (warning: race expos are danger) and decided to give them a whirl.  The sleeves are like leg warmers: they don't go over the foot, and you can wear your regular socks, which is a huge bonus for someone like me who has struggled with foot issues in distance running.  I got the CEP Compression Calf Sleeves in pink.  You can see them in the picture above at no. 5 and below (those are not my legs). 

I wore the sleeves for a 15 mile run and loved them for the first 11 or so miles.  After that, no.  I did not feel right and I wanted them off.  It was just too much compression.  However, I *love* them on recovery runs and I *love* them after a long run.  After I've finished a long run and have cleaned up, I put on the sleeves to help my legs recover.  It really does help.  And if I am training for a marathon, I always run a short 3-4 mile recovery run the day after a long run.  I love to wear the sleeves on that recovery run: it helps my sore legs feel better.  So, while the sleeves are a no-go for me for a long run, they are kick butt for recovery.  

There you go! My unsolicited thoughts on various and sundry running gear.  Now that we've set the clocks back, I can probably let my TERRIBLE LIGHT take a little rest, but soon enough it will be dark again in the mornings and the horrible, offensive bright light that keeps me safe will be back.  Oh the horror.  Good times.  

See you swoon,