These Are a Few of My Favorite Things – That You Don’t Want to Miss!!

Time for some summertime fun – at least for me because I get to share some of my current favorite things with you! I hope you enjoy it too.

Custom made by Meadow Hill these three dimensional treasures are created from simple ink fingerprints, footprints or handprints using traditional wax casting. You can create keepsakes of the times you want to remember – the prints are ever-so touchable and are raised just slightly so you can feel the groves of the print. I had my mom’s fingerprint cast for my sister and I. It includes her birthstone, which is a lab-created Sapphire for September. You can choose from a variety of metals too or add a family heirloom jewel to the piece. Mine is sterling silver:
The back is hard to see but it is engraved with Mom 1949 – 2011:
There are a variety of styles (round, heart, oval, etc) and products (pendants, rings, bracelets, earrings, tie pins, lapel pins, key chains, etc.) and an endless possibility of creations to remember your loved one. They also do paw prints and nose prints for those furry four-legged friends you want to remember.
I chose the heart because it has long symbolized the love shared between two people. Also, Meadow Hill keeps the fingerprint in a secure electronic file indefinitely so I can create another product if I want or add to it at a later date.
Favorite Part: The connection I feel when I touch the charm. I can feel the ridges in my mom’s fingerprint and it is comforting to me to be able to do so. The piece is of high quality (I am not afraid to wear it all the time) and unique too.
Not-So-Favorite Part: The charms are rather expensive and fluctuate depending on the market price of precious metals. 
Columbia Peak Power Shell Jacket
Many thanks to Columbia Sportswear Company who sent me a free Peak Power Shell Jacket valued at $350 to try out! Columbia is conducting an exclusive field test this spring for their revolutionary ultra-breathable, waterproof technology called Omni-Dry. I get to participate – I am super-excited about that!

Omni-Dry is the science behind the Peak Power Jacket. An ultra-light laminate membrane that’s over 50-percent air makes this jacket insanely breathable and lighter than other 3-layer shells like it. With Omni-Dry, air is able to circulate through the fabric, helping to regulate the conditions in the garment and keep excess moisture from collecting inside, while still maintaining its wind blocking properties. Your sweat goes out and it blocks the rain so you stay cool, dry and comfortable during any outdoor activity:

 My husband who works for a leading outdoor retailer is [slightly] jealous that his store doesn’t even carry this good of jacket. Save your pennies people! This is the ultimate gear that keeps you dry during aerobic activity, no matter what the weather is
Other unique features include: Underarm vents that zip that open to further disperse excess heat; A lapel tab connector that lets you completely unzip your jacket and then fasten it closed at the chest for max ventilation without flaps flopping around; A sticky, silicone treatment at each shoulder that both protects against the abrasion of your pack straps and keeps them from slipping and sliding around; Laser-cut Invizzip zippers on the hand pockets are clean and discreet, and a waterproof front zipper provides added wet-stopping reinforcement; Interior security pocked; drop tail; an adjustable hood. Take a look:

 Favorite Part: I LOVE THE FEEL OF THIS JACKET! It is super-light and almost-slippery, but almost-soft too. It weighs only 7 grams per yard – even lighter than Gortex. It is so comfortable. I love the color – it is feminine yet bold. It’s a women’s cut so it curves in all the right places yet is not in the least bit bulky. I feel like I actually own a piece of outdoor gear that is better than my husband’s! 😉 Is it too much to wish for more rain just so I can wear it outside? Maybe I’ll just sleep in it and call it a night!
Not-So-Favorite Part: It is a size XL, but in my opinion, Columbia tends to run small overall. The jacket is slightly tight on me when I zip it up and would not be so comfortable for a long run right now, but would work for a hike. More incentive to lose those last few pounds sooner rather than later! Also, the zipper takes some effort to zip, but I think it is due to the waterproofing material. 
Nike Comfort Thong
The Comfort Thongs are the most comfortable flip-flops/sandals you will ever own:
 I live in flip-flops so I can be pretty particular about them. I know they are bad for your arches and these provide a little more stability to the bottom of the foot. The straps are wide, which I like because they don’t dig into my feet and don’t slide around (I don’t need to trip and break something). They also have a nice tread on the bottom to create some traction. So. Comfortable. I love them. I might sleep in them too:
Please ignore my ugly runner’s feet!
 They have a Comfort Footbed that cradles your foot as you walk. It is heavenly.
Favorite Part: It is like walking on a cushiony cloud all day long. I found them for $22 bucks! They had tons of colors, including purple.  
Not-So-Favorite-Part: Um, I can’t run in them?!
Vistaprint Premium Business Cards
How many of you use your blog as a networking tool? I do! And not I have the cards, via Vistaprint, to spread the word:
I covered my phone number
 Why not and out business/networking cards that reflects your style or industry and makes a professional impression? With Vistaprint you can choose from over 300 designs or upload your own image like I did. It is of my Lucky 13 charm I got in Pittsburgh.
Vistaprint offers TONS of free products to get you started. Check it out TODAY and take advantage of the offers, if you have not already.
Favorite Part: I am impressed my the quality of the card and the photo image. It is clear, clean, crisp and professional. The colors are true to what I picked and it is easy to read despite the image in the background (that also has text). Vistaprint offers an easy-to-use design site and while I paid for the least expensive shipping, I still got my cards within a week and a half!
Not-So-Favorite Part: I’ll be out soon and have to order more! 😉 
Thanks for reading, if you’ve made it this far! 
 Until the next mile marker,

No $$, No Problem – Be Safe for FREE!!

It is safe to say I have always been a little paranoid – especially when it comes to my health and being safe. I used to be unable to learn about unheard of diseases because that meant I would surely contract them. I’ve gotten over that – a little bit.
Even to this day, though, I do take my health and safety seriously. Since I started getting healthy, working out and running, I have become more in-tune to my body than I ever was before. However, I always think about how my awareness would not help me if I was running alone and something bad happened. Whether I am in an accident or passed out, how would someone know how to help me once they found me? How would they know who to call if I couldn’t speak?
I have looked at Road ID’s time and time again, but have not purchased one because (a) I don’t have a lot of spare cash and also because (b) I do not want to wear another thing on my person. I already wear my Garmin and sometimes that alone irritates me when I have been running for a while.
Still, since my mother’s passing, I can’t help but wonder what would happen to me if I were found down and unconscious during a run. My mother, fortunately, was very near to her car (with her car keys) and the first responders we able to find her cell phone which had In Case of Emergency (ICE) contacts in it. That is how the police were able to get in touch with me before she was even taken to the hospital. I am confident that everything was done that day to save her life, yet I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if she had been 3 or more miles away from her car. I may not feel the same way about her receiving help “in time.” And then there’s me – there is no way to identify me.
So, one day I came across an internet ad for FinishSafe – a free service that allows medical personnel to access your medical information and contacts information from anywhere if you are involved in a medical emergency or accident. In addition, the FinishTags were also on special – free! I signed right up. It was simple to fill out my medical profile – it took about five minutes and FinishSafe and I was issued a LifePin number to keep my information safe and secure from any non-medial-emergency-personnel eyes. I can even update my profile online at any time without having to order new tags – big bonus for me! They came in the mail yesterday:     

They were all connected to one card and had instructions for how to secure them as well.

What you get from FinishSafe:

Seven FinishTags in all!
  • Wallet card
  • Bike Tag
  • Key Tag
  • 2 Shoe Tags
  • 2 Pack/Luggage Tags (different styles)
What you save:
  • Money – Because you’re all my friends, they’re free for you through June 30! After you order your FinishTags, check out using the code FAMILY17 and FinishTag will waive all of the charges. That’s an $11.99 value. Who doesn’t like to be safe and save a little cash while doing it?
  • Worry – Hopefully, FinishTags can give you peace of mind if you ever have an accident or emergency, especially if you are running alone or even with others who do not know your personal medical information. The tags also provide complete instructions for accessing your medical information anytime, day or night.
  • Time – In an emergency, we all know time is crucial. The FinishTag automatically links your medical information to the medics who need it through a unique LifePin number. You’ll be prompted to enter such information as your current medications, any allergies you have, the medical conditions you’re being treated for, and other helpful information that will allow medics to diagnose and treat you quickly and accurately. If you are ever involved in an accident or medical emergency, responders will be able to instantly access your critical information four different ways depending on what is most convenient for the medic: by telephone, smartphone app, online, or using an automatic text-back system.

What I am most excited about:

The Wallet Card:
  • It fits perfectly in my wallet – not that my wallet is super-small or anything. It has complete instructions for accessing my LifePin info, a picture ID to aid in identification and contact info for FinishSafe so maybe if I lose my wallet, someone can return it to me! If medics ever need to look in your wallet, they’ll be sure to see this bold red and white card. It includes a (optional) photo of you to aid in identification. Mine had a picture of me from the Finish Line in Pittsburgh.

The Key Card:

  • I already turn my keys in every Saturday for my MIT workout. If my keys are left at the end of the workout, my MIT card will identify them as mine and the other coaches can find me and see that I am okay. If I am not, I now have the FinishTag with my medical information too! I take my keys a lot of places that I don’t take my wallet so the Key Tag will be with me frequently. Also, it does not have a picture ID and says Mrs. and my last name for privacy purposes.

The Shoe Tag:
  • The tag is extremely light weight and laces easily into any pair of shoes. I like it because it will be with me no matter what running outfit I am wearing – I always wear my shoes. Plus, I do not have to wear another thing on my person because it attaches to my shoes. There are two shoe tags if you rotate your shoes.

I hope if you don’t already have a RoadID or LifePin that you think about signing up for FinishSafe. It could really help you out someday in an emergency – even though I hope it doesn’t happen to anyone. Go to FinishSafe and order yours today! You’ve really got nothing to lose! 🙂

Until the next mile marker,


Countdown to Pittsburgh: What to Wear in Only 12 Days!

Look what came in the mail today! (I am apologizing in advance for horrible photos – my digital camera broke [gasp!] and I had to use my [gasp!] cell phone.)
I’m confirmed.
Indeed, this must mean I am running Pittsburgh.
I’m not going to lie. I am thinking I am terrified of Pittsburgh. I feel ready, but not exactly prepared. Does that make sense? I know I am running the marathon no matter what. I just feel like so much has happened this training season that I am not as prepared – physically – as I want to be. I’ve taken time off, missed out on a couple of long runs, and abbreviated my weekly runs from time to time. I know, I know, do as I say – not as I do, right? Is it too much to hope that adrenaline just kicks in and I can make it with minimal pain and no injury? I completed a 20 mile run. I’m feeling pretty confident about that. If I have to walk some, I have to walk some. My goal is to finish. I am completely satisfied with that as long as I cross the finish line.
I mean, I was terrified of my first half – even skipped the last long run (oops) and went on to run 4 more half marathons. Then, why all of this anxiety? Fear of the unknown? Fear of failure? How about just fear? I need to take my own advice
Over the weekend, my mother-in-law was more than kind enough to take me shopping and to dinner. Operation: Find New Clothes for Pittsburgh and You’re Not on a “Diet” This Week! So, we went to Target and Johnny Rocket’s. Burgers and fries plus a chocolate-fudge brownie for desert. I inhaled it – I haven’t been eating much the past week.
Clothing-wise, I couldn’t be more ready for the race, thanks to aforementioned mother-in-law. 
These are all coordinating/matching blues and turquoise. Turquoise was my mother’s favorite color so I am wearing it for her. These are all made by Champion, which I have run in before and enjoyed. I have not tried their Duo Dry fabrics, though, and am excited to do so!  Supposedly, Duo Dry wicks and speeds evaporation to help you stay cool and dry. I was impressed by all the variety and styles that were available in complimentary colors.
First piece that caught my eye – Duo Dry Stretch Jacket with collar. LOVE this!
Duo Dry Lite Performance Tee with UV Protection; Gold Toe cushioned socks (my favorite! and two color choices); Duo Dry Stretch Fitted Capri (with a matching blue stripe!)
Duo Dry Power Workout Tee (Lightweight Polyester for comfort and performance); Duo Dry Stretch racer back tank (in case it is warmer)
So, what do you think? Plus, my shoes, sports bra, Garmin, Grace Band and Fuelbelt. Any suggestions?

12 Days and counting…During the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 15th, I will be thinking of:
Mile 14: Downhill Slide Now!
As I enter the second half of the race, I will have more done than I have to go! The first half of the race is the hardest part! It’s all downhill from here.
Mile 15: Bubba
Bubba (Slovak for Grandma) is who we called my grandmother on my mother’s side. She passed away over 6 years ago and I still miss her everyday. She was the most kind, loving, caring and generous person I have ever known. My mom was so much like her. She helped make my childhood the best it could have been with her love, encouragement and enthusiasm. She always believed in me no matter what goal I was working towards. This mile is in memory of her. From her, I developed my compassion for animals, nature, the outdoors, and helping others. I have fond memories of spending long summers at her house working in the yard, playing in the sprinkler, rescuing stray dogs and shopping.
Mile 16: Wendy
Read: My Hero. Wendy and I started training for Pittsburgh together. She got me through my first 16 mile run with a smile on her face. I will always remember her words running up the hill at mile 15.5, “You’re so close, you’re almost there. You are wonder woman she said. You can do this.” Wendy moved out West (read: lucky) and I miss her everyday – especially as Pittsburgh gets closer since she won’t be running it. I know it won’t be the same without her here, but I know our paths are not meant to be forever divided. And I know, especially in running, we will always have each others support and encouragement. After all, last time I checked, you don’t ever really lose a hero. Mile 16 is for your, Wendy. I know you’ll be there running with me in Spirit.  
Mile 17: Rebecca
Always believes in me no matter what. Rebecca is one of my best friends and has been there for me during the tough times when others have given up on me, especially when it comes to running, fitness and health. She listens to me, values my opinions and reminds me everyday not to give up on my dreams. Not to mention, she’s gorgeous and inspires me to want to look my best too. I really admire Rebecca for the positive outlook she has on life – it impacts me everyday. Rebecca’s training is founded on the principle that a strong mind leads to a strong body.  And through her positive coaching and encouragement, I have begun to change my mind. Rebecca will be cheering me on Pittsburgh!  
Need I say more? I completed my first 18 mile run alone and while I was bummed at the time and not sure if I would make it, I did. Looking back, I think I am a stronger person for having completed a long run solo. I am so glad I did! I can do it.  
Mile 19: Just one foot …
This thought kept coming into my head as I was running 18 miles. It really is just one foot in front of the other. As long as I keep moving, I will keep getting closer and closer to the finish line! If I can take one step, I can always take just one more step.
Mile 20: Get Off on the Pain
I must admit, part of what I have enjoyed about marathon training is pushing my body and mind to extreme limits and beyond. There is a part of me that enjoys the pain and enjoys overcoming it. It is the ultimate high – the runner’s high. More is never enough! In the words of country musician Gary Allan, “Cause I love the long shot, and the left out lost causes; Hanging out in the back of the pack with the dark horses. I ride the wrong road just as fast as I can, God knows there’s no one else to blame. Sometimes I think I get off on the pain.” I also love running to this song!  
Until the next mile marker,

A Message from My Mother

Today we laid my mom to rest with her mother, father and brother. She is wearing her running shoes. Rest in peace, Mom. I miss you already and I love you so much. I know I’ll see your smiling face in Heaven again someday; but until then, I will cherish the times we had together and all you have taught me since I was a child.

My mom wrote this testimonial a couple of months ago for her Zumba Instructor, Pamela. I found it tonight as I was reading some of her emails to me. She would want everyone to hear her story and her message.

My Mom after her first race! Panerathon 5K August 19, 2010

My journey to good health started November 1, 2007 when I was scheduled to have a cauterization of my heart after a stress test and a CT scan.  During this procedure, the doctor inserted three stents in the artery they call “the widow maker” – because a severe blockage can lead to certain and sudden death.  My artery was 80 percent blocked.  While I had no apparent symptoms or heart problems, a family history of deadly heart conditions lead me to get my own heart assessed just to be safe.  A routine assessment very well could have saved my life, and I have since come to believe that it truly does pay to be your own advocate when it comes to your health – only you can initiate the steps to take care of yourself and get healthy!

After the surgery, I completed cardiac rehabilitation and laid out some goals I wanted to accomplish to further improve my health.  For example, I wanted to lose weight and I wanted to jog – a lifelong aspiration of mine.  I had tried to run several times in the past, but felt that I didn’t know how (breathing, pacing, good form, proper fuel and clothing, etc.), and was never successful.  My oldest daughter, Sara, got me involved in the No Boundaries 5K training program through Fleet Feet Sports.  Last summer, I not only learned to run, but trained to run a 3.1 mile race over a 10 week long program.  I found that with a manageable training schedule and helpful coaches to answer my questions and provide me with the support and encouragement I needed, not to mention the support of fellow beginning runners just like myself, I was on the track to success this time.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a lot of hard work especially with the extreme heat last summer but, I was determined to get to the START line and then the FINISH line!  Quitting was never an option for me. On August 19th, 2010, I completed my first 5K in under an hour, with the rest of my training group – and my goal was just to finish!  Crossing that finish line, I gained a sense of achievement that I have never quite known before – it truly changed my life and as I enter 2011 a much healthier person, my next goal is to run and finish a 10k.

In August of last year, I also joined Weight Watchers.  Combined with making smart food choices, drinking water, and continuing to run and participate in ZUMBA regularly, I have successfully lost 20 pounds on their program. Another goal crossed off my list and an extreme sense of accomplishment! 

However, the ultimate test for me came when I had routine blood work done in December 2010 to evaluate the health of my heart.  When I read my results I knew all my hard work had finally paid off!  In five months’ time my total cholesterol dropped 9 percent; I raised the HDL (good cholesterol) 19 percent, lowered the LDL (bad cholesterol) 14 percent, and dropped the triglycerides by 43 percent.  For the first time since my stint procedure, I can’t wait to see my cardiologist this coming March.  The doctor was striving for my LDL (bad) cholesterol count at 70 percent and I got it lower than that.

So, between Zumba, running, eating a healthy diet and exercising at least five days a week, I am so proud of myself.  A person once commented to me about how slow I am with my running and while my feet may be slow, everything is working together for the results that are undoubtedly keeping me healthy.

My message to anyone that is thinking or trying to change their health, it can be done!  I am living proof.

Things like I clean my desk, YOU get free stuff!!!

My running week has been so-so. I’ve had a lot of my mind, and I feel like I haven’t been as motivated to run as I usually am. It didn’t help that I woke up this morning to 30 degree temperatures – yet again – and frost on my car. I thought spring was here and although the sun is shining, I am so sick of the cold weather! My only consolation is the sun is staying up later and I can actually see it when I leave work every afternoon. So, while I got a good run in on Tuesday night with the Lucky 13, I’ve spent these last couple of days doing other things like (don’t worry, they still have to do with running):
Adding bumper stickers to any available space on my car (the neighbors run when I come out with a camera):
Taking these two pups for nightly walks (until winter returned and they decided to hibernate):
Thinking about and planning my next big challenge (Can we say 39.3 miles in 2 days!?!):

And organizing my desk (yes, that is my deodorant, you never know when you might sweat):
And, since I decided to clean up, I found something you might like (right?):
A stack 2011 Runner’s Training Logs.  I found 11 of them to be exact! Who wants one? The first 11 of you to email me at will get one! Deal? 🙂
How is your running week going? Not so great here!
How is your non-running week going? Productive, at least. 
Until the next mile marker,