On Tap for Today

A fun loving, inspired living blog


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Today: Running… into old friends.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Remember when we were in middle school and we’d plan coordinating outfits with our besties?  Reebok took the guesswork out of matchy-matchy for me and six other FitFluential ambassadors running the Canton Road Race at Reebok World Headquarters this morning.  We had no trouble finding one another in our fresh aubergine (purple, for those who don’t speak color wheel) tops and black crops, provided along with our race entries by Reebok.

I can’t tell you how many compliments we got on those short sleeve tech tops.  I kept wanting to say, “Thanks, but um… I had nothing to do with this!”  We were even stopped by a woman who had worked on designing the tees.  I thought that was pretty cool.  I met up with Tina and Sarah just as the rain was starting, about an hour before the race began.  We ducked beneath an overhang with Robin, Katie, Mattie and Kelly to wait out the passing showers before heading to the starting line.  While hiding out, Tina and I had an impromptu Team in Training reunion with our Southie  chapter teammates, Amy and Bryan.  If only Ben Nick and Mal had been there to join our group hug…

The race started and ended on Reebok’s campus, and wound through some very scenic (and hilly!) Canton neighborhoods.  The final stretch on Washington Street brought us past the Trailside Museum (a childhood favorite of mine) at the foot of the Blue Hills.  A highlight of the race was definitely having my name called by the announcer as I crossed the finish line (nerd alert!).  The course was challenging and well marked, and the organizers did a fantastic job.  We had our results emailed to us long before we left campus, which was a bonus– something I’ve not seen at past races.  After cooling down, Tina and I took advantage of the 25% discount being offered at the Reebok corporate store.  I’d had my eye on this CrossFit warm-up for a bit, and picked up that as well as a few teeshirts.

While I could have spend hours (and hundreds) shopping, my favorite thing about visiting Reebok World Headquarters is the inspiring atmosphere.  Their mission as a brand, Empower People to be Fit for Life, seems to be carried out not only by their employees– we were surrounded by a sea of red “Team Reebok” shirts during the race– but also in the facilities themselves and inspiring messaging posted throughout campus.  It’s clear that fitness is a key element of their work culture.

I can’t help but think of my own work environment, which as the bo$$ (if I could spell that with cent symbols, it would be more accurate), I’ve largely created.  I’ve spent years working through lunch, veritably tied to my desk, feeling creaky and cranky by the time six o’clock rolls around.  Lately, we’ve made a concerted effort to take “wellness walks” (that’s how I saw the trapped skunk, obvi) and balance work and life a bit better.  I am sure I can be doing even more, and this morning’s trip to Reebok was a great reminder of that.

Perhaps it’s time to close the office door and dust off the yoga mat tucked behind my file cabinet thing.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Tackling the last few items on our I Do to do list
  • Grocery and supplement shopping 🙂
  • Foam rollin’ with my homies

How do you fit in fitness and wellness during the workday?


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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?


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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?


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Today: Yes, you May.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]This year is flying by at a frightening pace.  May shows no signs of slowing down.  I feel like I should be wearing safety gear.

I was cleaning out our cabinets this weekend, pulling out cans and boxes to donate to Feed the Need, when I came across a box of Wasa crackers that expired in June of 2011.  “Good,” I thought, “another month free and clear of botulism.”  Wrong.  It’s 2012.  I am still not sure how that happened.

With work busier than ever, it’s no surprise that old “I skipped Spanish class so many times that I am afraid to go back to class” recurring dream crept into my sleep Sunday night.

Let the record reflect that I never skipped a single Spanish class, but the dread always feels so real when I dream that weird dream.  I think it usually means that I’m over-scheduled and worried about letting something I’m responsible for slip through the cracks.  Or that I need to brush up on my romance languages.

Regardless of the fact that I feel like I am holding on for dear life, there’s a lot to look forward to this month:

  • Zella Day of Movement at Nordstrom this coming Saturday– all are welcome!  Check here to find the nearest participating location and join in the fun.
  • Clark’s Therapy Dog exam
  • The New Balance Falmouth Road Race Lottery opens on Monday, May 7th
  • My last big work event of the academic year, plus some work travel down South
  • A visit to Reebok Headquarters with the FitFluential family
  • Mother’s Day 🙂
  • Follow-up with my RD
  • The New Balance Reach the Beach Relay with #teamoffbalance
  • My sister-in-law’s shower (which means the baby is on the way!)
  • My sister’s law school graduation 
  • Boston’s Run to Remember
  • Memorial Day Weekend
Goodness, gracious.  That’s a whole lot of fun to be had.  Someone pass me a helmet.
Also On Tap for Today:
What are you most looking forward to this month?


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Today: You gotta let your soul shine.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I haven’t missed a single day of running this year.  Mostly because there’s only been a single day this year.  I cranked up the music this morning (including my favorite warm-up jam, The Return to Innocence, straight from 1994), and headed for the waterfront.

Despite having slept in, the streets were still deserted, and I had the Harborwalk all to myself.  Which meant a lot of singing along to the Allman Brothers, at the top of my lungs.  I was thinking how 2011 will be hard to top, running-wise, but I am looking forward to taking on new challenges, including a relay with some of my favorite people.  My race plan, so far:

February

March

April

May

July

September

October

December

No marathon this year, no traveling for races.  I am planning to keep things simple in 2012.  Please remind me of this intention when I inevitably go off the reservation and end up registering for who knows what.  🙂

Also On Tap for Today:

Do you have any fun races or events planned for 2012?


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Today: Hot on my heels.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I promise to stop talking about Christmas the moment our tree comes down (which will be tomorrow, to the tune of $20 made payable to our condo association… we’re picky about pine needles in the lobby around here apparently), but what follows was just too rich to keep for myself.

I love race photos.  I just do.  I’m smiling manically in nearly every one that has ever been taken of me, despite having a broken foot towards the end of a marathon, or chafing in places I didn’t know I had during a particularly toasty 10k.  What can I say?  Any day I get to run is a good one.  Especially when Santa himself is hot on my heels.

I’m normally a rule follower, and not a rule breaker, but I figured since I am going to purchase this photo, it might be ok to share it prematurely…. maybe?  What if I apologize right above the part where I’m being explicitly told not to share it… period?  What a moral dilemma.  I suppose I will leave this up until my conscience gets the better of me.  In the meantime, note to self:  black leg warmers and white kicks is not my best look.

Ho-ho-hope you’re having a lovely Tuesday.

Also On Tap for Today:

Do you smile in your race photos, or do you prefer to be a bit more aerodynamic?


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Today: Jingle all the way.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]This weekend’s festivities and bone-chilling temperatures were exactly what I needed to kick my holiday spirit into high gear.  From a cheesy date movie and staying up way past my bedtime to wrap presents, to the annual Jingle Bell 5k and a pre-Christmas dinner at my parents’ house, I’m feeling like a jolly little elf.  (Elves are sometimes forgetful and leave their real cameras in the toy workshop; please forgive these pathetic iPhone photos.)

Nick, Tina, Mal and I put on our holiday finest regular running gear and took to the streets of Somerville for the annual Jingle Bell 5k.  I haven’t run much since the New York City Marathon, so I wasn’t quite sure what the morning would have in store.  Fortunately, I experienced almost no foot pain, and cruised right along.

This is always one of my favorite races of the year.  I love the friendly fans along the course, the rolling hills, the crisp winter air and the post-race festivities.  Best of all, though, are the costumes.  Every year I plan to whip out something awesome (this year’s intended outfit: a Christmas tree… clearly, that didn’t happen), but inevitably I wait until the last minute and end up digging through my drawers for something red or green.  This morning I yanked a sparkly bow off our wreath and affixed it to my Spibelt.  Coupled with a red top, it was better than nothing… but definitely not better than the avalanche, reindeer, Santas, Mrs. Clauses and other great costumes I saw.  Please remind me next year to get my act together.

Following the race, we celebrated at Sally O’Brien’s in Union Square with a few beers and a lot of laughs.  We always have so much fun with Tina and Mal.  Always.  Not surprisingly, I lost track of time and soon we were rushing to shower, change and get to my parents’ house in time for a lovely dinner with the whole family.

After enjoying a weekend like this one, it is certainly beginning to feel a lot like Christmas…

Also On Tap for Today:

What was the highlight of your weekend?