On Tap for Today

A fun loving, inspired living blog


Today: Summertime.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]While Memorial Day may mark the unofficial start to summer, today is the real deal.  Happy Summer Solstice, ladies and gents.  We reached 90 degrees in Boston, my hair was extra poodle-ly, I started sweating from my elbow creases while walking to get the mail, and my dog needed to be carried back inside after a short prance around the block.  Yep.  Summer’s here.

We celebrated the solstice– and more importantly, Tina‘s birthday– at the Liberty Hotel’s Yappier Hour this evening.  While this may not be bulldog weather, Clark made the most of his time with Murphy and a yard full of other dogs.  And a horse Great Dane.

When Clark hit the deck, we knew it was time to get the little dude back in the air conditioning.  We’re enjoying the rest of the first day of summer with a big pitcher of water and a few frosty treats.

Knowing not everyone is safe and cool indoors during this heatwave, please be sure to check in on loved ones and those most vulnerable.  For more information about helping the homeless during extreme heat, please click here.

What’s cooler than being a good neighbor?

Also On Tap for Today:

How are you spending the real start of summer?


Today: National Running Day {and an OrthoLite giveaway}

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Welp, I broke my summer run streak by accident earlier this week.  Note to self: run in the morning when there’s even the slightest chance work will get in the way at night.

A missed day is no reason to fall of the bandwagon entirely, though.  Especially when it’s National Running Day.

This run streak business has been a great reminder that on some days, a mile is perfectly enough.  And that all you really need is a good pair of shoes and a bit of motivation.  All the gadgets in the universe won’t run for you, and sometimes, they just get in the way.  (Other times, it feels like Lady Gaga is running for me.  Let’s be serious.)

I’ve stressed before (in my sternest writing voice) the importance of getting fitted for a good pair of kicks.  It’s the best way to ensure you’re running in a shoe that was made for you, protecting you from needless injury (fingers and toes crossed).  Once you’ve got your perfect-for-you shoes, there’s still room for customization.  Is it me, or do most stability shoes look like robot feet?  Thank goodness for fun colors and flashy shoe laces. My favorite way to customize lately, though, isn’t just for show.  In fact, I’m the only one (besides you, now) who knows they’re there.

The lovely people at OrthoLite sent me a free pair of their performance insoles, which were designed to fit athletic shoes.  You may already be wearing OrthoLite insoles without knowing it, as they are built into the top brands of athletic shoes and outdoor boots (Reebok, adidas, New Balance, Nike, Under Armour, etc.).  Unfortunately, many other brands cut production cost by scrimping on their insoles (not cool, bro), despite the impact an insole can have on fit, comfort, and performance.

I slipped my insoles into my running shoes the day the arrived and immediately noticed the difference.  While my shoes fit great to begin with, the addition of insoles make them feel surprisingly cushier and springier (shockingly, those are both actual words), without adding any weight.  I rarely wear socks when I run, so I really appreciate how soft and smooth these insoles are.

An added bonus: these little guys are fully washable.  Not that my feel smell.  They don’t.  Regardless of what Clark tells you.

Want to customize your own running shoes with OrthoLite insoles?  I’ve got three pairs to give away.  To enter, please leave a comment below, completing this sentence I run…  

Just getting started?  Feel free to share what excites you most about running.  For additional entries (please leave a comment to be sure your additional entries are counted):

I will randomly select three winners on Friday evening.  After I get back from my run.
UPDATE:  Random.org randomly selected the following three winners.
Thank you all so much for entering, and thank you to OrthoLite for generously sponsoring this giveaway. 🙂  Winners, please email me (ontapfortoday@gmail.com) with  your mailing address and shoe size.
Also On Tap for Today:

Let’s hear it: Why do you run?  What excites you most about running?


Today: 200 miles of smiles. {Reach the Beach, Legs 2 and 3}

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Life is better with teammates, especially teammates who are up for just about anything.

If Van 2 had an official motto, it would have to be If it feels good, do it.  Want to sleep (or more accurately giggle) atop the van?  If it feels good, do it.  Want to wear a banana costume while you drive alongside midnight runners?  If it feels good, do it.  Want to have a roadside dance party?  If it feels good, do it.  Want to run fast, or reign it in a little?  If it feels good, do it.

[Image courtesy of Tina]

My second leg of the Reach the Beach Massachusetts relay was definitely my favorite.  After seeing Theodora run through my hometown, and knowing the sun would be rising soon, I was anxious and excited to get on the road.  But first, I needed a banana hug.

[Image courtesy of Tina]

I loved running a short, fast and familiar route not far from where I grew up.  There was no one on the road, and while it was still dark, it wasn’t at all scary thanks to the street lights and densely populated neighborhoods.  About half way through my leg, I looked over my right shoulder to see a runner catching up to me.

Having been passed several times during my first leg, I wondered if I could hold this person off.  A bit of competition can be a great motivator, even for a slow poke like me.  I was able to hold him off, and succeeded in passing someone ahead of me as well.  I felt most calm, confident and smiley during this leg.  I am usually a solid 10 minute miler, but bootcamp and speed training this spring has definitely paid off.  During my second leg, I completed my first mile in 9:07, my second in 9:34, and the last 3/4 mile in 8:02.

Before I knew it, I was coming down the driveway to Mansfield High School, where Anne was waiting for the slap bracelet before taking off on her second leg.

We caught up to her as she neared Borderland State Park, a gorgeous property that features wooded walking and horse trails.  She handed the bracelet off to Ashley, who would finish off our second legs at Oliver Ames High School (Hockomock League, woop woop!), and send Van 1 off on their final legs.

We spent the next few hours at the final Van Transition Area, lounging in the grass, stretching a bit, having a laughing fit on top of the van, and recovering from a potentially poisonous meal.  If a waiter or waitress says anything remotely close to, “I am not sure if you wanted meatballs or not… so if you didn’t, just push them aside,” it’s okay to be worried.  In fact, I’d be worried if you weren’t worried.  Fortunately, we lived to tell of that ill fated dinner.

[Image source: Jack atpixelwiremedia.com / rtbrelay.com]

Our last legs fell in the mid-afternoon sun, and for many of us in Van 2, they were our longest or toughest.  I personally got worked on my last leg.  My legs felt strong, but my stomach was in knots.  I felt some temporary relief when I reached our van near mile 3, and my teammates’ energy carried me towards what I thought was almost the end of my adventure… until I realized I had taken a wrong turn at some point.

A number of signs had been pulled down, and I must have veered off course.  I ended up running 10 minutes or so in the wrong direction, but was soon back on track.  Between that mishap, my stomach ache, and running on a busy road with no shoulder, this final leg was definitely not my finest.  Climbing up the hill to Dartmouth High School, though, and realizing I was done?  That felt good.  So good that I nearly cried in the port-o-potty.  Things get weird when I’m over-tired.

[Image courtesy of Anne]

The fact that Anne and I finally perfected our slap bracelet handoff was the icing on the proverbial cake.  Anne and Ashley both made quick work of their final legs, bringing it home for Team Off Balance.  We welcomed Ashley to the finish area with a victory arch before crossing the finish line together.

[Image source]

Neither words nor photos can do the experience justice.  From starting line to finish line,  all I could do was smile.  Lack of sleep, lack of non-meatball food, lack of space… none of that matters when you’re surrounded by good people.  None of that matters when you’ve got miles ahead of you, and the privilege and luxury of being able to run them.  

I smiled for 200 miles last weekend, and I can’t wait to do it all over again soon.  I cannot thank Reach the Beach, New Balance, and my teammates enough.  Call me.  Maybe.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Unpacking, again…
  • Happy graduation anniversary, fellow Class of 2004 Eagles 🙂
  • Summer treats

What’s got you smiling lately?


Today: Life is better with teammates. {Reach the Beach, Leg 1}

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Whether they’re family members, college roommates, your better half, a furry friend, or eleven pals in matching New Balance gear and twelfth dressed as a banana… life is better with teammates.

[Photo courtesy of Theodora]

Our team had spent most of Thursday together, touring the New Balance facilities in Lawrence, enjoying dinner at the inn, and chatting by the fire pit, but it wasn’t until our van left the Wachussett Village Inn and headed to the starting line on Friday morning, that I realized how much we’d be depending on one another for the next 30+ hours.  Run on sentences are sort of acceptable when you’re overtired.  

[Pre-editorialized photo courtesy of Theodora]

From handing off the team’s baton slap bracelet at each transition point to sharing compression sleeves and salty snacks, to making room to “stretch out” (everything’s relative when you’re in a van), to cheering one another on from mile to mile, everything is better with teammates.  Especially when those teammates are kind, generous, thoughtful, supportive, gracious, and a bit sassy. That wasn’t even a full sentence; I do what I want.

Our Reach the Beach adventure officially started when our sweet golden vans, driven by New Balance tracksters (and the weekend’s MVPs) Monica and Nicole, arrived at Mt. Wachusett.  I learned to ski at Wachusett, and am a big fan of their infectious advertising jingle.  The mountain and lodge look much different in warmer weather, especially when Santa’s parked out front.

We breezed through our safety equipment check (which would be called into question later on, when we’d realize we were short 2 safety lights…), team orientation and team photo with plenty of time to see Gretchen to the starting line.

The race director set the perfect tone for the relay during orientation with advice such as, “If you find something that belongs to someone else… and you can’t use it to your advantage… turn it in to lost and found.”  He covered reminders about course rules, information about specific legs, and promises of beer at the finish.  All that was left to do, was start.

Being in Van 2 meant our first official duty was to wait.  This doesn’t bode particularly well for anyone who gets race anxiety and wants to get the show on the road, but with such incredible weather and perfect company, it was all good.  Monica (who was sent from Heaven Southern California to drive, coach, and encourage us) brought us out to our Van Transition Area 1 to relax before our first legs.

She checked in with each of us on Thursday night to get our estimated pace and then compiled a spreadsheet of each leg, calculating and updating arrival times throughout the relay.  This meant that we were never late to a single transition, and that our time was budgeted perfectly.  I’m telling you, this woman is a genius.

The chart also included our cell phone numbers, our estimated pace and finish times, as well as our actual finish time.  Monica coordinated all of this with Nicole, Van 1’s driver, to be sure everyone was on the same page.   I was really excited to come in under pace on my first two legs; I think the chart added some extra motivation.

While I am not sure if I could have handled this half as well as Monica did (on top of navigating and putting up with our shenanigans) with next to no sleep, it seems like every team could benefit from her system.  Apparently a similar chart is available online for Ragnar races, and perhaps it will be available for future Reach the Beach events.

[Photo courtesy of Tina]

We enjoyed some downtime at a park not far from the first VTA, sipping iced tea and iced coffee, and getting excited for our time on the road.  We stopped for lunch at a nearby Panera before settling in the sun at Assumption College, where Sarah would hand off to Tina, putting Van 2 officially in the race.

[Photo courtesy of Tina]

We spent the next few hours tracking our runners and switching off at transition points.  When we left Theodora for her first leg (as prom goers gathered alongside runners on the town common), I could feel the nervous energy building.  In true nerd fashion, I was required to wear safety gear for my first two legs, as they both fell between 6:30 PM and 6:30 AM.  Nothing says fresh and sexy quite like a reflective vest and headlamp.

My first leg was 3.68 miles and flew by, save for the hill at the end.  Is it me, or did all of our legs end with a climb?  I suppose that’s payback for the free wheelin’ downhill just before the 1.5 mile mark.  I was passed by a few runners towards the end, but everyone (both passing runners and vans) was extremely friendly and encouraging.  Though I am not a particularly competitive person, I loved the challenge of trying to keep up with other runners, or hold someone off from passing me, if possible (usually it wasn’t, let’s be serious).

When I reached the top of the hill and the transition area was in sight, all I could think was Hurry up and get to Anne.  It took us until our third and final transition to get the slap bracelet, which team members pass off at each leg, to actually slap and become a bracelet, but hey.  Practice makes perfect.

[Photo courtesy of Tina]

After some quality time with the baby wipes and a quick change of clothes, I was ready to join my vanmates for a Call Me Maybe (the unofficial theme song of the entire relay, judging by van decor, tweets and blasting speakers) dance party as we met Anne halfway through her first leg.

Ashley brought our team to our second VTA as the sun set along her gorgeous waterfront route.  She flew into the transition area, where I presented her with one of the glow rings I packed for the team (fun and functional for night runs).

Life truly is better with teammates.  And things that sparkle.

Soon to come: where to not eat dinner in Hopkington, how to run on no sleep at 4 AM, and why the top of the van is where it’s at.  For those of you who don’t feel like waiting for 12 more posts: Yes, you should definitely sign up to run a relay.

Also On Tap for Today:

Who are your favorite teammates in life?


Today: We reached the beach.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]The short story: Team Off Balance reached the beach.  The 200 mile story: each hour and each mile that passed was even greater than the one before.

I worry that it may take me as long to recap our relay experience as it did for my teammates and I to run from Wachussett to Westport, as it really was an incredible experience.  I laughed hard, ran fast (…for the first two legs, at least), slept very little, and smiled big.  While I take another shower (to make up for the ones we missed over 30+ hours of running), a few highlights:

Touring the New Balance Headquarters

New Balance Sports Performance Lab

Our homes on the road, the golden vans

Running morning, noon and night

Team Off Balance

Van 1
Van 2

I am so grateful to New Balance and each of my teammates for all of the work, energy, effort and enthusiasm that went into the weekend.  I’ll be back with more… just as soon as I figure out how to put all 200 miles into words.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Baby shower for my sister-in-law and brother
  • Laundry, groceries and other real world things
  • Quality time with Nick and Clark 🙂

What was the highlight of your weekend?


Today: The countdown is on.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]The New Balance Reach the Beach is just two days away.  I am freaking out, man!  In the best possible way.  The emails and group texts (a system I was altogether unfamiliar with until Theodora clued me in) have been flying back and forth all week.  Who’s bringing the headlamps?  Do we have enough Twitter Machine chargers?  And most importantly: Is the banana costume ready for 12 girls and 200 miles?

I came home from work Monday to find a very fun package from the good people at New Balance waiting in my mail room.  Is there an award for best dressed team?  If so, Team Off Balance is a (motion control) shoe in.

Isn’t the logo they designed for our team perfect? I thought the flip-flops were such a cute touch; I can’t wait to break them out at the finish line.  Though I haven’t had a chance to pack yet, I did make time for one of my usual (and neurotic) packing lists.

The makeup is for beauty consultations and complimentary makeovers for my van mates during our down time.  Obvi.  Kristen at New Balance sent us some great tips last night, so I’ll be adding a few more items to the list:

  • Newspaper to dry out our shoes
  • Hat and gloves (for the night leg, and napping)
  • CDs… you know I love a good mix tape

Our fearless team captain (I think I might start calling her CapTina) shuffled around our legs a bit this week, and now that they’re settled, we are all ready to run.  I am runner #10, and my legs are smoking hot as follows:

  • Leg 10: 3.63 miles (moderate)
  • Leg 22: 2.75 miles (easy)
  • Leg 34: 6.47 miles (easy)
I had a dream last night that I somehow started one of my legs before my teammate arrived at the transition point, and then we slept in canoes while the other van raced because we got lost in the woods.  When I start having loony dreams, I know I’m ready.  Mostly.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Go bananas!
  • Moving 3 pallets worth of boxes (girl power)
  • Hair appointment 🙂

Have you run a relay before?  What’s your best advice for first-timers?


Today: Get ready to go to bootcamp.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I’m not joining the Army; I don’t fancy they would want me and my peace moccasins.  I am going to Ultimate Bootcamp, though.  And I am quite excited.  Kristen, who does PR for Ultimate Bootcamp, reached out to me earlier this year and connected me with Peter Lavelle, one of the program’s co-founders.  We met this morning at Boston Common, just as the rain stopped, to get some base-line measurements before my session starts next week.

After taking me through a warm-up and some dynamic stretching, Peter had me run between two lamp posts (nearly 50 yards apart) for two minutes.  People strolling in the park weren’t sure what to make of the situation, but they stayed out of my way, which was greatly appreciated.  Following the sprints, I held a plank (which, had I am been staring at the clock per usual, I am certain I could have held for longer), and completed as many push-ups and squats as possible during a one or two-minute period.  I’ll add in Sunday’s 5k time, as well as my current weight, BMI and body fat percentage, as additional benchmarks.

If this morning’s testing was any indication, I am going to love bootcamp.  I imagine it will be quite challenging, but I know I will be good hands with the trainers.  Peter was really encouraging, and clearly knows his stuff.  I am looking forward to getting stronger, faster, and smarter with regards to training, and will be sure to share my experiences over the course of the four weeks.  Did I mention I am taking the early morning class?  I will become a morning person yet.  Hopefully.  We’ll see.

Interested in giving it a go? There’s a Groupon for Ultimate Bootcamp (local to Boston) available today.

Disclaimer:  I was invited to take a four week session of Ultimate Bootcamp classes at no cost.  You can expect my honest assessment.  The good, the bad, and the ugly (i.e. my attitude at the crack of dawn).

Also On Tap for Today:

  • One last wedding meeting… plans are shaping up beautifully 🙂
  • A wall after my own heart
  • Another beautiful evening in Boston!

Have you taken bootcamp classes before?  What’s your favorite way to stay motivated?