My “Go” Bag & ANOTHER Giveaway!

As we near the close of my semester (we finish didactic mid-April–don’t be jealous, we also started 3 weeks before you in January), I find myself all over the place with things. Per usual, I’m doing about 7,274 things at once but they all take a big ‘ol back seat to a nap or a workout when I reeeeeaaaaallllly need one. Or both.

So, yeah. You could say the randomness of this blog reflects the randomness of my life right now. I don’t mind it one bit, actually. Especially if it means that I have another giveaway to share with YOU!

Pink! Pockets! What more could I ask for?

Pink! Pockets! So many pockets! What more could I ask for?

The folks over at Apera Bags contacted me to see if I was interested in getting to know their fancy-schmancy gym bags. Ummm, let me think about that for just one second–DUH! I selected the Yoga Tote in pink (double DUH!) for my trial bag.

First of all, as a student and a gym rat in NYC, I carry my life with me all day every day. No car to throw my stuff in for later, it’s all gotta fit into one bag. And, let’s be real, it’s gotta be cute. This IS New York City, after all.

But how do I mix my running shoes and sweaty clothes with my computer and endless power point handouts? Normally, I tie my shoes to the outside of my bag and let them hang. They whack me in the butt while I trek to the bus, but there’s no room for my New Balances in any of my current bags.

Until now!

Shoes! Notebook! Computer! Sweaty clothes! A place for everything and everything in its place.

Shoes! Notebook! Computer! Sweaty clothes! A place for everything and everything in its place.

And with room to spare. It’s a Christmas (in March) miracle!

What I really love about this bag is that it’s vented. I mean, my running shoes stink and when I open a bag that they’ve been sitting in, my whole bag stinks. And if I pack them away in a plastic bag, they never dry.

Vented bag = problem solved. Oh, and no big deal, but the fabric is anti-microbial, too. Smelly gym clothes BE GONE!

See the little baby vents?

See the little baby vents on the zipper lining? Coooooooool. And yes, I carry this crap with me all day every day.

But like I said, it’s gotta look good when I’m going from school to the gym to a date with my gorgeous husband.

My hot pink bag is always in style.

My hot pink bag is always in style.

Currently, it’s my “go” bag, packed with all my random essentials with room to spare–that will promptly get stuffed with things I’ve forgotten last minute. It’s seriously packed but I keep finding new pockets to use!

See? Multi-functional.

Another really cool thing about Apera is that for every 3 bags they sell, they donate one custom bag to a Special Olympic Athlete. Yes, yes, yes to this!

How cute are these?

How cute are these?

These Sprint Packs are the PERFECT race day bag.

And Apera Bags wants to give one to YOU! One lucky reader will get an awesome Sprint Pack and one will get a 25% off coupon for Apera Bags. TWO WINNERS!

To enter, leave a comment here on what your must-have items are for your gym/race day bag. For an additional entry, share this post on Twitter (tag me!) or blog about it (ping me!) and don’t forget to let me know you did!

The two winners will be chosen at random next Wednesday at noon so make sure you get your comments in before then!

Now go out and run.

Full disclosure: Yes, Apera Bags sent me a bag to try for free. But you know my policy: if I don’t like it, I don’t share it. Obviously I love it, so I shared it. But my opinions, as the Obi-wans will happily tell you, are always my own.

Kara’s Big Moves

Last week, the most famous woman in U.S. distance running made big moves in the professional running world. Kara Goucher, long-time NIKE sponsored-runner and Alberto Salazar pupil, signed an endorsement contract with Oiselle.

Who?

Pronounced "Wa-zel". (Image courtesy of Oiselle)

Pronounced “Wa-zel”.
(Image courtesy of Oiselle)

Oiselle is an Oregon-based female running apparel company started by CEO Sally Bergesen. Their mission is simple and straightforward: help empower female runners of all abilities, encourage healthy habits (the female running world is littered with disordered eating), run hard, run clean, and be a superfan of the brand and each other.

Running far, running fast. Wings out!

Running far, running fast. Wings out!

They sponsor several professional female runners on their Haute Volée team (Lauren Fleshman and Kate Grace being just two of my favorites!), a team of up-and-coming runners called Little Wing, and dozens of everyday Ambassadors across the country.

Just a few of the Oiselle Ambassadors in my world :)

Just a few of the Oiselle Ambassadors in my world :)

But why does it matter so much that Kara Goucher has moved on from NIKE to Oiselle? Well, this headline should say it all:

"Upstart" made me laugh. (Image shamelessly stolen from Sally Bergesen's Twitter feed)

“Upstart” made me laugh.
(Image shamelessly stolen from Sally Bergesen’s Twitter feed.
Original from WSJ)

Kara (I just made us on a first name basis–hope you don’t mind, Kara!) wrote about her departure on her blog, was interviewed for Competitor and Runner Space (two parts), and Sally (again, first name basis…oops?) told the story from point of view as well.

She is arguably the most famous female runner in the country. She’s beautiful, gracious, and has a bright career still ahead of her and definitely had her pick of incredibly lucrative, world-famous running shoe/apparel companies kicking her door down to throw tons of money just to get the chance to sponsor her.

She chose Oiselle.

oiselle-signing-kara

Inking the deal.
(Image stolen from Sally at Oiselle.com–sorry, wasn’t there to get my own shots!)

In short, Kara moved back to Boulder (holla, CO!) to train with her college coaches and wanted to get with a team and a sponsor that aligned with how she sees her future as a runner and entrepreneur, as well as a place where she feels at home.

I love this.

Some more Oiselle ladies killin it.

Some more Oiselle ladies killin it.

I love that she took a HUGE pay cut to be with a team she identifies with personally and professionally. I love that she joined a company that actively empowers female runners and business owners alike. I love that she chose to be a part of something she believes in, not just the highest bidder.

Running is still a very male-dominated industry. Male coaches, male superstars, predominantly male-based merchandise. It’s only been in recent years that shoe and apparel companies have stopped jimmy-rigging men’s clothes and shoes to fit women.

I mean, helllllllooooo! Who does more shopping?

Oiselle friends in NYC. Such a great group of women!

Oiselle friends in NYC. Such a great group of women!

And Oiselle is the perfect example of where the future of women’s running is headed. Empowering each other. Cheering each other on. Sharing each other’s awesome ideas (Picky Bars, anyone?). Encouraging each other to go for all of our dreams–family AND a career. Breaking down barriers for women across the board.

I mean, they had a fashion show during Fashion Week in New York City last year, starring their athletes. And then Lauren (can I call you Lauren?) went on her blog to show the world what she really looks like OFF the runway, post-baby.

Now that’s integrity for you. Hero status.

And Kara joining the team throws a huge spotlight on company, yes, but even more so toward the mission statement behind the brand. 

(Courtesy of Oiselle)

(Courtesy of Oiselle)

I, for one, am thrilled to see big moves from a big player and hope that more athletes will follow in her (& Nick Symmonds!) footsteps in taking an active role in shaping the future of our sport for the better, not just for the richer.

I am thoroughly impressed with the fearlessness and integrity with which Kara and Oiselle are leading the pack in female running and business. I hope to do the same in my own career as a runner and a physical therapist.

Thanks for the inspiration, ladies.

Now go out and run.

Form = Everything

If you know me at all, or have been reading this blog for a little while, you know I’m obsessed with form. OBSESSED. I can’t help it. It was burned into my brain from a very young age to be militant about my form when I exercise.

Awesome form on the monkey bars. Clearly, I was meant to be a gymnast. *snort*

Awesome form on the monkey bars. Clearly, I was meant to be a gymnast. *snort*

But my form was never, ever, ever very good when I ran. Like, ever. I slouched and hung my head back for the longest time. Not sure how coaches let me run with crappy form (probably cuz I wasn’t exactly a promising athlete…), but there we are.

And it was ugly. And not helpful.

You know what changed that? Moving to New York and seeing the pros run.

Keflezighi_MebM-NYC09.JPG-280x421

Meb is one of those runners that just looks strong when he runs.
(Image courtesy of running.competitor.com)

Here in NYC, we see the pros and semi-pros training in Central Park pretty regularly. I’ve shouted out to Meb, Desi, and Kara (all very graciously acknowledged my embarrassing fan-girling) and marveled at how effortless they looked.

Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan, Amy Hastings, Desiree Davila

No one in this group is slouching, so I shouldn’t either.
(Image courtesy of http://www.brushnewstribune.com/ci_19742283)

Ok, so Kara kinda hangs her head back. Clearly, we are kindred spirits. But other than that, these athletes work hard on their form, knowing that in order to engage the strongest muscles in the best way, they must too be militant about their form.

So how did looking at pictures of other runners and watching the pros pass me like I was standing still help my form?

Confession: I envision myself running like them when I’m out for a run. Boobs up, belly in, legs long, arms pumping.

look-like-when-im-runningI may look more like the latter picture vs. the former, but my form has actually improved by leaps and bounds.

So tall at the end of the half! This was NOT me a decade ago...and even sometimes now.

So tall at the end of the half! This was NOT me a decade ago…and even sometimes now.

Yes, I strength train. Yes, I pay attention to my posture on the treadmill. But most of all, I picture myself running like Meb and Kara and Shalane. I’m not always successful…

Thumbs up at mile 20...but looking a little slouchy.

Thumbs up at mile 20…but looking a little slouchy.

Anyway, sometimes it’s not about strengthening and obsessing. Sometimes it’s about just standing up straight. And sometimes it’s about finding out just what the heck your form looks like, which is why you get an evaluation at Finish Line Physical Therapy.

And the winners of Peak Performance Analysis are…

Who wants to be a winner?

Who wants to be a winner?

EVERYONE!

Seriously. EVERY SINGLE PERSON who commented on the post will receive an email from me today so I can get your addresses and send you the cards so you can visit the fine people at Finish Line.

Thank you to the fine folks at Finish Line for your generosity!

Now go out and run (tall).

ALL CAPS WEDNESDAY!!!!!

FINALLY!!!!

I TOLD YOU SO!!!!

A GIVEAWAY!!!!

I am usually only this excited when there are cupcakes involved. Not today!

Delicious post-Refine cupcake, courtesy of Birdie.

Delicious post-Refine cupcake, courtesy of Birdie. I was obviously very excited about this.

Because today is the day when Runner’s World Magazine has FINALLY gotten it right. And you know what, Runner’s World? I TOLD YOU SO!

One of their editors finally had it with being injured all the freaking time so she went to NYU Langone Center for Musculoskeletal Care’s RunSmart team for a biomechanical assessment.

Her story is basically the same as every other runner’s story. She runs and other stuff and thinks she’s all strong but can’t figure out why she’s always injured. She assumes she knows what she’s doing and that she’s been treating her repetitive injuries properly by getting massages, ART, and seeing a chiropractor.

Stark wasn't ready. Are you?

Stark wasn’t ready. Are you?

What she learned is what every athlete must learn: you must play an ACTIVE role in treating and preventing your injuries. Massaging and stretching tissue isn’t enough. Someone else manipulating your body will not keep you strong, stable, and symmetrical.

You know what will?

Getting a biomechanical, gait, strength, and stability assessment from a trained medical professional.

You know who’s trained to do that?

A physical therapist.

Yup. That's me!

No seriously. I actually study the way you move. I obsess it about, really.

There is so much that goes into the way you move and the trained eye can take one look at your gait and know where to start with your deficits. It’s not a party trick. It’s our job.

You know what’s awesome? There are clinics like this one all over the country where you can get some answers and a routine put together to treat whatever’s ailing you. It’s not a quick fix and you’ll have to stay on top of your treatment (or it won’t work), but I promise you will Run Stronger Every Day because of it.

(Image courtesy of Runner's World)

(Image courtesy of Runner’s World)

The bummer? It’s a little pricey off the bat. But think of what you’ll save in copays.

AND NOW THE GIVEAWAY!!!!

You all know how I love Finish Line Physical Therapy here in NYC. And you know how I love biomechanical assessments of athletes. Well, THEY DO EXACTLY THIS!!!

And I have 4 Peak Performance Analysis sessions to give to you for FREE!!!

Who wants to be a winner?

Who wants to be a winner?

You can enter in 3 ways:

  1. Leave a comment on this post telling me why you need to get this analysis done ASAP.
  2. Re-tweet this post (& tag me so I know you did) on Twitter.
  3. Share this post in your blog (and give me a pingback so I know you did).

Each share earns you an entry. Enter all 3 ways! Contest closes this Monday (3/10) at midnight.

If you’re itching to try Finish Line’s Alter-G but don’t want to shell out the big bucks to do it, today there is a Groupon for $49 FOR 5 30-MINUTE SESSIONS. I just bought mine cuz mama’s gettin’ kinda heavy and needs some help running these days.

Check me out on their Alter-G.

So fast that I'm blurry.

So fast that I’m blurry.

Don’t take it from me, I’m an interested party. Take it from one of the {routinely injured} editors at Runner’s World. Physical Therapy is where it’s at.

Get into it, runners.

Now go out and run!…and enter the giveaway!!

What Makes a Race Great?

I’ve run a lot of races.

By "good results", I mean finishing. Well, that's what it means for me, anyway.

My recent collection of medals. Some are JB’s. I need some more…

Certainly not as many as some. I have friends who have run A LOT more races than me who are much more qualified to answer this question.

Like Laura who is actually in the world record holder for being the youngest female to run a marathon in all 50 states. Actually, she’s done almost 100 marathons by now. And several ultras. She’s a badass.

And Brian who seems to be running a race every other weekend.

But I’ve run a few and here’s what I learned makes a race great:

1. Organization

It all starts with the expo and bib pick-up. If this aspect is disorganized or poorly staffed, it does not bode well for race day. The last thing you want to do on race day morning is run around because bag drop is a mile away from the corrals. Even worse, when the course isn’t clearly marked or properly marshaled.

I love that there are Marines on the course at the Marine Corps Marathon. No one runs a race like a bunch of Marine Corps officers.

MarineMarathon 021

The OCS Marine Lieutenants man the water stations. They don’t cheer, they shout, “Oorah, ma’am!” as you run by. It’s awesome.

2. Safety

Most race courses are run on closed roads. I mean, duh. Right? When you’re out running a race, you sort of expect that the race organizers have made your safety a top priority. Yeaaaah, not all races directors.

The Hamptons Marathon and Half Marathon are not run on closed roads. And it sucked. I wrote to the race directors to let them know it was a dangerous situation for runners and they basically blew me off. Not running that race again.

Great race day outfit. Lousy course safety. Boo, race directors.

Great race day outfit. Lousy course safety. Boo, race directors.

3. Race-friendly course

It’s not that anyone loves a straight-up out and back. That’s boring. But I think most of us also don’t want a loop-di-loop course. You can’t find a groove when you’re constantly making turns and I’d say the majority of us are out there to run our fastest race possible.

My favorite courses: New Jersey Half Marathon (NOT the full) and Marine Corps Marathon.

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 11.30.18 AM.pngScreen Shot 2014-02-28 at 11.32.53 AM.png

4. Race support

At the Chicago Marathon a few years ago, it was beastly. It was so hot that they cancelled the race. That’s HOT. But they also ran out of cups for water. I mean…WHAT?!?!?! I have also heard about races running out of post-race snacks. I gotta tell ya, after a marathon I. NEED. FOOD. Like now.

I have been known to eat an entire pizza by myself post-long run. It's true.

I have been known to eat an entire pizza by myself post-long run. It’s true.

A race that runs out of promised fuel and fluids along the course is unacceptable. Medical tents and bathrooms need to be exactly where they say they’re supposed to be. And there can never be too many POJs.

5. Reasonable pricing

There are half marathons out there charging $128 for race entry. To put that in perspective my first marathon, the ING NYC Marathon, cost $125 in 2002. Now it’s $228. I gotta tell you, if you’re charging me that much for a race, I expect a hot shower and a massage at the finish line.

I heard they ran out of medals at the Miami Half this year. Bummer.

Don't be fooled, it's all about the money.

Don’t be fooled, it’s all about the money.
(Image courtesy of Esquire.com)

Some races are great and have fantastic expos, course support, swag bags, and fuel before, during and after the race. But if you’re handing me an ugly cotton t-shirt and a cup of water with a bagel after your race, it better not cost me more than $2/mile. Seriously.

Esquire ran a great piece about the money making business of road races.

And that’s what I want. It’s not too much to ask, is it? I don’t need a personal cheerleader who follows me along the race with a boom box or anything (that would be sweeeeet!) but…

I do need to feel safe.

I do need it to be affordable.

I do need the course to be reasonable.

I do need it to be organized.

And I definitely need the promised support on the route.

What do you need? What’s the best race you’ve run? I need to make a list of people’s favorites so I know what to register for next year! Tell me all about it.

Now go out and run