Product Review: Pro-Tech Athletics Hollow Core Contoured Foam Roller

AnoIMG_2187ther product in my The Running Lifestyle Show goodie bag happened to be this Pro-Tech Athletics Hollow Core Contoured Foam Roller. I already own the Trigger Point GRID Foam Roller, which I use religiously, so I was curious to see how this product stacked up against my current love.

Both are the same size—5.5″D x 13″L—and both feel the same to me in terms of firmness and cushion. The Pro-Tech Athletics roller costs $37.95, while the Trigger Point roller costs $39.99, so both are similar in price as well. (Although I love finding deals, so I suggest the cheaper of the two!)

I tend to need to foam roll my left hip flexor after each run, since I get chronic hip pain if I don’t. I never really took foam rolling seriously until just before marathon training, when I found that my left hip flexor pain was increasing (since I was increasing my mileage each week). I find that I don’t need to foam roll for that long after each run, but I need to do it consistently if I want the pain to abate. So if you’re a runner, or really any athlete, please do yourself a favor and invest in a good foam roller.

I love the size of this foam roller, because it’s short enough to pack in a duffel bag or to throw in your car without taking up too much space.

And as it happens, I just found a new technique video that I’d like to share here. It requires two foam rollers, so it’s perfect for someone like me who now has two.

I give the Pro-Tech Athletics Hollow Core Contoured Foam Roller two thumbs up!

Note: I was given the Pro-Tech Athletics Hollow Core Contoured Foam Roller to review, so I did not buy the product personally.

Product Review: Sports Suds

IMG_2186When my pal, Kari Gormley, over at The Running Lifestyle Show first sent me a goodie bag that contained Sports Suds, I have to admit that I totally side-eyed the product. It came with a container of powder detergent and another packet of something called Sports Suds Washing Machine Cleaner. I had just gotten home from my first marathon (see my race recap here), and I felt completely overwhelmed with a ton of laundry to do, not to mention having The Angry Toddler’s third birthday party the day after. I didn’t want to dive into something new right away, so I left the two products sitting in my downstairs bathroom/laundry room for a week.

OK, wait, let’s backtrack about a year ago to when I finally considered my small arsenal of running apparel and accessories worthy of something “better” than you run-of-the-mill laundry detergent. I obsessively read enough running Facebook pages and blogs to realize that maybe I should start taking better care of my pricey garb. When I mentioned this to my husband, he also gave me the side eye. What could be that special to warrant paying extra money to wash my extra stinky running stuff?

I thought I’d dip my toes in gently at first, so I bought Tide Plus Febreze Freshener Sport liquid laundry detergent. I used the entire container that I bought, but I didn’t feel that it got my running clothes any cleaner or kept them in any better condition than my previous nondescript laundry detergent.

And although I hate math, I thought I’d crunch some numbers. Tide Sport touts that you can get 36 loads out of 69 ounces (liquid), while Sports Suds claims to get 140 loads out of about 63 ounces (granular solid).  That particular Tide container costs around $16, and Sports Suds rings in at close to $60. That’s a huge price differential, but you can get over three times the amount of washes out of the same volume with Sports Suds versus Tide.

I haven’t tested this theory out fully yet in terms of number of loads per container, since I just started using Sports Suds this month, but I will tell you this. After I got over the initial ick-factor of cleaning my washing machine with a product before use and actually sat down to read the literature on the Sports Suds site, I really warmed up to the product.

According to the site, the washing machine cleaner, “loosens soap scum, mineral deposits, foreign debris and other growth and washes them away. It’s unique fragrance-free formulation cleans effectively and removes odor causing materials at their source without the need to resort to perfume to mask remaining odors.” I inherited my washing machine from an older couple when we bought our house, so I kind of liked the idea of cleaning my machine every once in awhile. What could it hurt, right?

And I have to say, my clothes are softer and have no odor whatsoever, which pleasantly surprised me. I didn’t know what to expect (frankly, I didn’t expect much), and I like knowing that this product is safe for my family to use. The Angry Toddler and I have sensitive skin, so this product really appeals to me for that reason as well.

Want to try this product for yourself? Listeners of The Running Lifestyle Show (TRLS) get 25 percent off by entering code RUNLIFE at checkout on the Sports Suds site. Run over there today to get the stink away!

And if you’re curious about other TRLS Sports Suds reviews, go here.

Note: I was given Sports Suds to review, so I did not buy the product personally.

Race Recap: 2015 Rehoboth Beach Seashore Marathon

start

As I sit here listening to my Marathon playlist on iTunes, I’m reluctant to even put words down on paper (so to speak) about my first marathon experience. I’ve been putting off writing my marathon race recap, because I frankly don’t want to admit that it’s finally over! I had such an amazing, incredible time at the 2015 Rehoboth Beach Seashore Marathon on December 5.

I strategically—read: stupidly—planned The Angry Toddler’s third birthday party for the day after the marathon, since my mom, her boyfriend, my sister, and my brother-in-law all traveled from out of state to cheer me on at the marathon.

The day before the race, all I could think about was running the marathon. What would post-20 miles feel like? Would I hit the dreaded “wall?” Why the heck do I have to get up so early to go run for five hours? What if for some freak reason I get injured on the course and have to DNF?

I was also wicked excited to see my family, and they all arrived from New Hampshire and Massachusetts around 5 p.m. EST on Friday. We quickly put away the literal pounds of food that my mom always brings with her, chatted for a few minutes, but then Tom (my awesome husband) and I had to quickly run out the door in order to get to packet pick up in time.

We were staying in Ocean City, MD, which is about 45 minutes away from the race start at his family’s condo. We could have just stayed at our house, which is about an hour from the start line, but we don’t have a lot of spare sleeping space, so we thought we’d give it to family. Plus, I honestly wanted to be able to sleep soundly without The Angry Toddler waking up having to use the potty or having a cat butt in my face all night.

We got to packet pick up around 7:30 p.m., which was right near the Cultured Pearl (one of the post-race after party spots),  and I was surprised to see so many people there still, since pickup ended at 8 p.m. They set up a huge tent almost right across from the Rehoboth Beach Running Company, and it was a conveyor-belt feel of getting your bib, getting your free tech t-shirt, and getting your free bag. I think some people were disappointed that the bag didn’t have any free goodies in it, but I didn’t really mind. I was more upset about the bag itself. Last year’s bag was a cinch bag, but this year’s bag was like a reusable grocery shopping bag almost (so things could fall out of it easily). But hey, I can’t complain.

After picking up my stuff, Tom and I went into the nearby Starbucks, since we were freezing and needed something warm to drink. We met a couple from North Carolina. They were both running the full, had seemed to pick this race on a whim, and the woman (hi, Amber!) and I both had similar time goals and nerves.

After chatting for about half an hour, I tried to give Tom “the look” to signal that we really should be going. All I had eaten that day was some peanut butter toast (I know, I know), and I was starving for dinner. I had originally planned to avoid fried foods, just in case my intestines decided to rebel. It was getting so late though, that we decided to grab some French fries from Five Guys and hit the road to Ocean City. Before we got to the condo, we then picked up a large pepperoni pizza from Grotto Pizza. Welp, that fried/greasy food plan went right out the window! We finished eating around 10 p.m., and there was no cable at the condo, so instead of staring at each other intently to see who would blink first (I’d totally win), I decided to lay out my clothes for the marathon. I wore black capris, my PlowOn running jacket, and my lucky neon orange Feetures running socks.

I also made a makeshift sign to put on my back to call out the people I run for—Joey and Jene—as well as The Running Lifestyle Show. And of course I made sure to charge my GPS watch and iPhone, figure out where to fit all of my six Gus, and prepped my headphones and Under Armour running headband.

back

Around 10:30 p.m. I decided I should probably try to get some sleep (with some urging from friends on Facebook who saw that I was still up). I think I was so tired from not being able to sleep the last few nights, that I fell asleep and stayed asleep until my iPhone alarm went off at 5:15 a.m. I wanted to get out the door by 5:30 a.m. in order to make it to the start line early.

I had planned to meet up with my Smyrna Clayton Running Club group around 6:30 a.m. for a group photo at Santa’s House.

scrc

santa

I had also planned to meet up with my friend Chrissy to grab a goodie bag from the fabulous Kari Gormley of The Running Lifestyle Show. I was able to use one of the public restrooms beforehand, get some pictures taken, grab the goodie bag to toss Tom’s way, and position  myself around the 11-minute-mile sign before the race started. It was freezing at the beginning of the race, because it’s right near the boardwalk and ocean. If/when I do the marathon again, or even if I just do the half, I’m definitely bringing throw-away gloves!

The race didn’t start until about 7:05 a.m., which was good for all intents and purposes. Chrissy and I started off together at a moderate 12-minute pace. Chrissy was running her tenth marathon (her third in a month), so she planned to take it nice and easy. My goal was to make it in under five hours, so I knew I needed to keep up an 11:30 pace or faster to meet that goal. Chrissy and I chatted for a few minutes, but we quickly broke off into our respective paces.  Here I am at the start of the race:

start

In previous half marathons, I always had to remind myself to slow down at the beginning of the race, but this time I fell into a very comfortable 11-minute pace. The first part of the race runs through some residential paved areas, so there wasn’t a whole lot to look at, aside from this:

funny

The first nearly 7 miles were a breeze. I saw the first porta-potty just before Mile 7, so I decided to stop there. There were two people in front of me, and I felt like I waited there for at least three minutes. That doesn’t sound like a long time, but I had my time goal in mind, and I didn’t want to miss it by waiting to use the restroom. Thankfully, the person in front of me was speedy, and I was able to get in and out fairly quickly. While I was waiting, I texted Tom and my sister to let them know where I was.

My course time at 10 miles was 01:52:16 with an 11:14-minute pace. So I knew I was still on track. At one point, we entered Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, DE, which involved trail running, as well as running on a metal bridge structure. In my mind, I kept thinking, “When is this bridge going to end?!” It didn’t hurt to run on at all, but I’m primarily a pavement runner, so it just felt odd to run on. (I apologize for my lack of descriptor; I simply don’t know how else to describe it!)

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On my way back (since this section of the marathon was an out and back) along this metal bridge, I chatted with a gentleman who was trying to do fifty marathons in fifty states. He was on his 20+ marathon for that goal, and he seemed surprised to hear that this was my first marathon. He said that I looked really strong, which made me beam. I really did feel strong!

When I hit the halfway mark, I saw the mile marker and had a slight sliver of panic where I thought doing double the distance was impossible, but I knew it was just a mental block that I had to smash. Clearly I’ve run 20 miles before, so I knew I could at least make it that far without dying.

I hit Mile 16 at 10:07 a.m., and my iPhone battery was at 20%. That made me nervous, because I typically don’t run without listening to a podcast or music, so the thought of running nearly 10 miles without audio was scary!

My mom, her boyfriend, my sister, my brother-in-law, and The Angry Toddler were supposed to meet me just after Mile 18, but my sister texted me saying, “We’ll be cutting it close for Mile 18. Fingers crossed!” At that point,  I put my phone into airplane mode to conserve the battery. At Mile 18 I didn’t see my family, so I figured they didn’t make it in time. My sis texted me saying, “Missed you. So sorry!! Parking now. Will see you at the finish, your’e so close!!!” That put a smile on my face, and I wasn’t at all disappointed that they couldn’t make it to Mile 18.

I knew that Tom would be at Mile 21 near Wolfe Neck on the Junction and Breakwater Trail, so I just had to run a few more miles to get to him. When I saw him, the first thing out of my mouth was, “Where’s your sign?!” I knew he and The Angry Toddler had made a sign for me, so I was all excited to see it. He laughed and said that I’d see it at the finish line. Tease! I gave him a quick kiss and a hug and kept on going. He had to hop in the car and drive to the finish line, so I knew he didn’t want to linger, and I knew if I stopped too long, I wouldn’t get going again. Here’s Tom’s sign that I got to see at the finish line:

tom

After that point, my goal was to simply get off the trail. Although I like trail running, parts of the trail were very rocky, so I was nervous that I’d fall.

Around Mile 22 or so I turned on my Marathon playlist, which gave me an extra boost to get to the finish line. It was only 10 songs long, so don’t laugh.

  1. Burn – Ellie Goulding
  2. Blow – Ke$ha
  3. Shut Up and Dance – Walk the Moon
  4. Work This Body – Walk the Moon
  5. One Foot – Fun.
  6. Hold You – Gyptian
  7. Waves – Mr. Probz
  8. Where are U Now – Skrillex and Diplo (featuring Justin Bieber)
  9. Firework – Katy Perry
  10. Shake It Off – Taylor Swift

Once I hit Mile 25, I knew it was a cake walk. I didn’t hit the dreaded “wall” once, and at no point in time did I think to myself, “When is this going to end?!” My right calf was starting to ache a little, and of course my legs were sore, but overall I felt amazing throughout the entire race. And get this—I didn’t get any blisters! Oh, and did I mention that I didn’t eat breakfast that morning, because I hadn’t eaten anything before my long runs during training, so I didn’t want to break the mold.

Overall, this race was very well staffed with volunteers, had water stops at nearly every two miles, and even gave Gu out at two points along the course. Also, I have to say that the crowd excitement and turnout felt much better this year than when I ran the half marathon last year. I always say, “Good job!” or “You can do it!” to other runners along the course as well, because I think that’s very important.

I would highly recommend this race to both half marathoners and marathoners alike. You can get a discount around New Year’s, so I’ll definitely be looking out for the e-mail notification to sign up for 2016!

Here’s the finisher’s medal; I actually think I like it more than last year’s version. Oh, and do you see my Tuvizo running pack behind it? I can’t thank Neon Is My Color enough for the discount code to get mine for free. I use it during every single run now, and it’s so lightweight and easy to access while running. Praise the fanny pack!

medal

I’ve fallen in love with a fanny pack.

FullSizeRender (2)Yes, you read that correctly. I’ve fallen in love with a fanny pack. I’ve officially drifted into mom territory, and I’m afraid there’s no going back.

The other week, I won a discount code for a Tuvizo 2-Go Waist Pack through Neon Is My Color. I honestly wasn’t even sure what I’d do with it, but I was able to get this product for free by using the discount code combined with Amazon Prime.

Literally a few days before I received the Tuvizo, I got a new iPhone 6S Plus. I immediately panicked, because, as any runner would think first, how was I to hold this behemoth while running? I didn’t have an arm band that would hold such a beast.

In comes the Tuvizo! It touts that it holds up to an iPhone 6S, and it holds the 6S Plus as well. I tested it out during my 20-miler that I recently blogged about, and it came in so extremely handy.

Yes, I felt like a major dork wearing that plus my hydration pack, but it made it so that I didn’t have to stop and take gels or chomps out of my pack during my run. It has a handy front mesh pocket that I used to store my empty gel wrappers too.

It didn’t feel too heavy or bulky, and I even wore it to the park with the Angry Toddler over the weekend before I got my iPhone case.

Embrace the fanny pack!

My First 20-Miler

Hi, running family,

I had my longest training run to date on Saturday, November 15. I went to go meet my fabulous running group, the Smyrna Clayton Running Club, at 7:30 a.m. about twenty minutes away from where I live in Delaware to do as much of the twenty miles as possible before heading home to finish up my miles. I got up around 6:50 a.m., since I knew I’d have to just throw on my running clothes, grab my gear that I packed the night before, and hit the road.

For long runs, I use my cheap hydration pack that I got at Target with a 70-ounce Camelbak bladder.  I stick a plastic baggie in with the bladder that contains my house key, my driver’s license, and Gu energy gels or Cliff Shot Bloks. I also of course pack some PlowOn Gum instead of drinking coffee first. You can use code “runbeckyrun” for FREE shipping!

For this particular run, I tried a new Cliff Shot in Razz flavor, which reminded me for some reason of Entenmann’s Raspberry Danish Twist. I also had a Chocolate Outrage Gu, and the Citrus and Black Cherry flavors of the Cliff Shot Bloks. I typically stick to Gu gels only, but I ran out of my usual supply, and Dick’s Sporting Goods at my local mall doesn’t carry a ton of variety.

As I gathered my stuff, I noticed a cute note that my husband left me (points, points!):

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The Smyrna Clayton Running Club meets each Saturday at one of three main locations. I, of course in my stupidity, went to the wrong darn location that morning! I don’t like to hold the group up, so I messaged our fearless leader with my mistake and told her that I wouldn’t make it this week. There’s a paved running trail near The Young Bean Coffee Shop in Clayton, DE that’s about a 3.5-mile loop. You run past a school, past a pasture with cows, over a little bridge, and along a small road at one point. I run a bit farther than the trail goes, since there’s a port-a-potty near a local park called Smyrna Municipal Park that I like to stop at.

I did my first fourteen miles in this area, just going up and down the path. Along the way, I took a few pictures, because they stood out to me.

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[This photo show contaminated land right next to the road I ran on for a bit.]2

[This photo shows an odd metal statue/figure along the trail.]

I’m glad I was on that particular trail that morning, because I found a woman’s car keys and was able to return them to her. I also saw a few white cows in the pasture, which I thought was wicked neat. By the time I stopped to take a picture of them, they had gone back into the barn though, boo. The Angry Toddler would’ve liked that picture! Overall, the first fourteen-miler was uneventful. I walked briskly while I took my fuel or water, listened to The Running Lifestyle Podcast along the way, and generally enjoyed myself despite the wicked wind.

The reason I split up my run into two segments was simple—I wasn’t sure that my cell phone battery had enough life in it. Previously, it had died around Mile 15.5, so I wanted to charge it during my ride back home. Fourteen miles seemed like a good spot to stop, since doing a 10K at home to finish up didn’t sound impossible.

When I got home, I quickly took a bathroom break and got back out there. This time, I ran around my neighborhood and another about a mile away from our house. Nothing eventful happened there, aside from seeing an old woman in curlers raking her leaves in bare feet. That was interesting to say the least.

I finished in 3:48:24 with an 11:25-minute pace, which I’m fine with. I’m not a fast runner, and I’d rather enjoy my runs and not get injured.

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C&D Canal Half Marathon 11-7-15

12191535_10206805136678610_4615500854528955658_nThe first C&D Canal Half Marathon in New Castle, DE took place on November 7, 2015. I knew the weather would potentially be very rainy, so I thought leaving our house in Dover at 7 a.m. with toddler in tow for an 8 a.m. race start would be OK. I’m usually overly anxious about leaving for races wicked early, but I was feeling guilty for dragging my family out early on a Saturday morning, so I thought 7 a.m. would be fine.

My fabulous husband drove us, and we accidentally just put in “C&D Canal” in our GPS. Whoops, that was wrong! We ended up on a dirt access road parallel to the race around 7:50 a.m. We finally put the right address in the GPS and arrived at 8:10. As we were parking (in one long line), I contemplated just turning around and going home. I was having pre-race jitters, and the sky looked gray and angry. I nervously asked the parking attendant if the race was chip timed, and he said yes, so we forged on.

We had to walk about 300 yards to the start, where everyone had already gotten their bibs. I frantically ran to the race table, got my bib, and struggled to pin my bib on to my Swirl Gear shirt while the National Anthem was sung. I somehow managed to pin the damn thing to my nipples, basically. I was rushing, even though the race hadn’t begun yet.

Here’s why: There were apparently only two bathrooms at the start, so even though we were late, the race started around 8:15 or so, because they were trying to wait for folks to use the bathrooms before starting.

The 5K and half participants started at the same time, so it was crowded at the beginning. There was one water stop around Mile 2 or so. The first six miles or so were flat with a great view of the canal. Then before Mile 7 there was a sharp turn with a large hill. There was a bit of a downhill after that leading to the marina. I thought the turnaround might be there, but it wasn’t. We ran a bit more uphill to turn around (since it was an out and back). There was a water stop near the marina and some port-a-potties, which I used since I couldn’t at the start of the race. I originally wanted to keep an 11-minute or 11:30 pace, but I was closer to a 10:45 pace each time I looked at my Nike+ app.

I stopped to fill up my Fuel Belt containers at the Mile 7ish stop, where they had only water bottles and some cups of water. Going back there was one major hill, but that was about it. I ran behind a man carrying the American flag for a long time, which was neat. Throughout I listened to the Another Mother Runner podcast and the Running Lifestyle Show podcast. No one really talked to each other, which was different from my half experiences in the past.

Overall, the scenery was gorgeous, and with better race support, this race will be awesome next year! I ran virtually the same time (2:22:45) as I ran the Rehoboth half last year (2:22:07), but this time I stopped for the bathroom and water, so I’m happy with my performance overall.

Despite a few setbacks, I’ll definitely do this race again!

Christmas Wish List 2015

As I continue to train for my marathon in early December, I dream about all of the cool gadgets and products I could use during my long runs. Granted, sometimes it’s better to run “unplugged” so to speak, but I really do love listening to podcasts during my long runs. I’ve come up with a few wish list items if anyone’s feeling generous *wink wink*:

  1. Cases and cases of PlowOn Gum: Seriously, I go through a case in less than a month. I love this stuff. If I could, I’d go on their monthly plan!
  2. Garmin Forerunner 220: I’m tired of my iPhone dying during long training runs.
  3. UA Compression leggings: I’ve never owned a pair of compression leggings, but these ColdGear compression leggings look awesome for long, cold runs!
  4. RedFox wireless EDGE headphones: These puppies state that they are certified water and sweat resistant, which is right up my alley. I sweat like no other, and I’ve ruined countless pairs of headphones because of sweating.
  5. BondiBands: I’m constantly searching for the best headbands that keep sweat from pouring down my face and eyes. I’ve tried SweatyBands, which I like, but I find that they’re not thick enough, and they sometimes slip a bit. I currently use a UA band, which works fairly well, but it’s not quite perfect.
  6. Tales from Another Mother Runner: I’d love to own this book! I listen to Dimity and Sarah on a regular basis, so I’ve really been wanting to pick up this book.
  7. BAMR Tank and Sweaty Band: I’m totally a BAMR (Bad Ass Mother Runner), so this simply rocks!

What’s on your list?

xoxo,

Becky

PlowOn Gum Love

imagesI’m not always one to toot my own horn, so I wanted to ask my fellow runners what they like about PlowOn Gum!

Beth says, “I have had the free samples and just received my first order yesterday. I really like PlowOn Gum, and the taste is wonderful too.”

Megan says, “After struggling to regain my energy every night after a long commute, I decided to give PlowOn Gum a try. From the first time I used it, I was impressed. It tasted far better than I expected an energy gum to taste and it worked great. It gave me the push I needed to get up and knock out my workout!”

I just ordered a new box too, because I’ve been starting to do my runs in the morning before work. I used to be such a morning person, but now I dread getting up. The sad part is, I don’t even have to get up that early! This morning I got up around 7:20 a.m. to go on my scheduled four-miler. It was wicked humid out from the rain the night before, but along my way I saw two bunnies and a cute little kitten. I also felt like I had more energy during the day, so I think I’m going to like morning runs again.

So if you’d like FREE shipping, please use code “runbeckyrun” at checkout! Oh and psshht—they are testing a citrus flavor in the lab right now! Squeal!

Keep PLOWing,

Becky

Could this be real?

I may have created a running schedule from August through early December. I may have joined an awesome running club. And finally, I may have decided to run a marathon. Whaaaaaat?!

It all began after I signed up for the New Castle, DE C&D Canal Half Marathon that’s in November. I knew I also wanted to sign up for the Rehoboth Beach Half Marathon, since I had such an awesome time last year. The course was flat and fast, it’s a mix of pavement and trail running, and I PRed there. The difference money-wise between the half and the full is a mere $20. So I got to thinking—why not just go balls to the wall and do the full? I have exactly 18 weeks until December 5, 2015, so I wrote out a training schedule late last week.

RBRC logo jpeg format

I knew my friend Torie was a long-time member of the Smyrna Clayton Running Club (SCRC), and my friend Lindsey had encouraged me to give it a try. I don’t think I do well with running and talking to friends at the same time, so I was super nervous, but my first run with the group was a success! Torie is about 20 weeks pregnant, so she did a run/walk combo while I ran slowly the whole 3.5-mile run. It was so much fun! Yes, I gasped for breath as I talked, but pshhht, who cares. We had fun, we caught up, and afterward we grabbed coffee and bagels at the Young Bean.

I’ve now since recruited my friend Lauren (who’s training for her third marathon in November for the Philadelphia Marathon) to try out the SCRC as well. Our friend run together (oddly enough, since we’ve been talking about it for over a year!) will be this Saturday. Not only do I get to run with friends, but I also get to check out new, different locations to run.

Last night (August 3, 2015) was my first “official” marathon training run. I did three miles on our old trusty treadmill (thanks, Bert!), and it went well. I typically listen to the Runner Girls Podcast as I run, so that was nice. My lesson learned on this run? Don’t eat Cold Stone ice cream before running. I felt like I was sweating out the calories and a bit sluggish. But hey, my whole motto is going to be getting in the miles and not worrying about my pace.

Here’s to a new journey!