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: Give your soul… and soles. {Allstate Life Insurance Boston 13.1 Marathon® giveaway}

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]What could be better than a free entry to the upcoming Allstate Life Insurance Boston 13.1 Marathon® ?  How about that, plus the chance to support the Boston Rescue Mission and the work they do to prevent and end homelessness in our city and beyond.  At this year’s Allstate Life Insurance Boston 13.1 Marathon®, runners and their friends will have the chance to donate their old shoes.  Every pair collected will benefit the Boston Rescue Mission as a result of Allstate’s partnership with Give Your Sole.

For over 100 years, Boston Rescue Mission has provided invaluable services and programs for men and women in need, including:

  • Meal programs
  • Outpatient counseling
  • Day treatment programming
  • Overnight shelter
  • Residential recovery programs
  • Safe Haven program for chronically homeless veterans
  • Women’s parole re-entry program
  • Spiritual development
  • and partnerships with agencies overseas to fight “poverty in all forms”

Those of you who know me beyond this tiny website know that ending homelessness is something I care deeply about.  I encourage each of you, whether you’re running or not, to dig into the back of your closet for a pair or two of gently or moderately worn shoes.   The BRM’s programs are not simply a quick fix; they have lasting results and are helping to change the lives of so many deserving individuals.  In case you need a little added incentive (and the chance to extend summer a bit longer), runners who donate their shoes on race day will receive a free pair of flip-flops to wear home.   

Shoe donations will be accepted at the following locations:

  • Friday, September 14th (packet pick-up): Friday, Sept 14th at Karhu and Craft North American headquarters (200 Cummings Center 273-D, Beverly MA) from 12 PM – 7 PM
  • Saturday, September 15th (packet pick-up): Saturday, Sept 15th at Fast Splits (612 Washington Street Newton, MA) from 10 AM – 6 PM
  • Sunday, September 16th (race day): Suffolk Downs, 111 Waldemar Ave, East Boston

***Thanks the event sponsors, I have two race entries to give away.  Free on September 16th and ready to crush a half in Boston? Or know someone who is?  Leave a comment below.  I will announce two random winners on Saturday evening.***

UPDATE: Congratulations Emily and Becki!  I will email you with registration details. 🙂

Also On Tap for Today:

What is your go-to running shoe?


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Today: Mary Poppins, Lord Voldemort and Lolo Jones.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I don’t know about you, but I found the London opening ceremonies to be… um… weird.  Mary Poppinses (is that how you pluralize the nanny?) battling he who shall not be named?  Just weird.

[Images]

Fortunately, the actual Olympic Games have yet to disappoint.  I am fully obsessed.  And I love some good ol’ red, white and blue accessories.

I tried to channel my inner Lolo Jones for this weekend’s CrossFit Southie workout at the track, though I would surely not be awarded any medals for my performance.

I finished 2 and a half rounds in the allotted time and, days later, I am still sore.  The 100 meters of walking lunges were the toughest.  By the time I reached the stadium stairs, my legs felt like rubber.  And by the time I finished the stairs and jumped back on the track, they felt like lead.  I’m just a month into CrossFit, but I can’t get enough.  I am working harder than I have before, in the best possible way.

When we got home, I decided to go for the gold neon yellow calf sleeves and a healthy dose of pet therapy.  And hours and hours of Olympics.

Also On Tap for Today:

What Olympic event is your favorite?

 

 


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Today: The perfect start to summer.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]While the summer solstice is still weeks away, Memorial Day Weekend always feels like the unofficial start to the season.  If this weekend is any indication, this is going to be…

I left work early on Friday for a very special occasion: my younger sister’s law school commencement.  I am so proud of her and all that she has accomplished over the last three years.  In addition to her course work, she’s helped with fair housing practices, worked alongside a chief US magistrate judge, and done legal work at a private firm, and for a hospital system.  She’s incredible.  I know I said this already, but I am so proud of her.

After the ceremony, we all headed south to my parents’ house for celebratory Champagne and a cookout.  I stopped in Southie on the way to grab Clark; he’s always down to be social.

On Saturday, I met my lovely friend Elizabeth at South Station and we caught up on life while walking over to the Seaport.  We picked up our bibs for the Run to Remember and took a few goofy photos at the expo’s mock finish line before quickly heading back to my place.  We were on a mission: pool or bust.  With temperatures in the high 80’s, I was determined to (responsibly) soak up some rays.  I packed plenty of sunscreen and magazines to last us through the morning.

When the sun ducked behind the clouds, I packed up my towel and headed over to my brother and sister-in-law’s apartment, where they were setting up my future niece or nephew’s nursery.  I tried to help fold and sort the baby’s clothes, but I spent more time  oohing and awwing and saying things like “Oh my goodness!  Little pants!” and less time actually being helpful.  I can’t wait ’til the little guy or girl arrives.

Tina picked me up bright and early for Sunday’s race.  She took off for the half marathon 15 minutes before our 5 miler started.  Elizabeth and I ran side by side most of the way, which made my morning.  This was her first race and I have a feeling it won’t be her last.  I love having running pals. 🙂  As soon as Tina crossed the half marathon finish line, we tooted down to Canton to meet up with Nick and Mal at the CrossFit Regionals at Reebok Headquarters.  It was so cool to be back there so soon after our fitness blogger event earlier this month.

Being a CrossFit outsider, I must have asked Nick a thousand questions.  It was really incredible to see each team and individual compete at such high levels.  I stood in the bleachers for most of the afternoon with my mouth hanging wide open in awe.  I can see why Nick, Tina, Mal, Bridget and so many others are hooked.  The strong community I always hear about was clearly on display at Reebok this weekend.  Competitors stayed to cheer on other athletes, and box pride– from teeshirts to banners to tattoos– was undeniable.  Nick’s box, CrossFit Southie, did especially well and is advancing to the CrossFit Games in California this summer.  It was great to meet some his fellow CrossFitters.  Is that what you call them?  

I rounded out the weekend, and the start to summer, with a quick run this morning along the Harborwalk.  The Runner’s World Summer Running Streak began today, and I’ve decided to accept the challenge to run at least one mile every day between Memorial Day and Independence Day.  I think it will be a great way to stay motivated between races, and perhaps prompt me to explore some new routes in the neighborhood.  It’s not too late to join in the fun.  You’ve got 11 hours left to run today.. in Boston, at least… I think.  Math and timezones have never been my strong suit.

It’s been a practically perfect start to the summer, and I am always thankful to have a long weekend to stretch the fun out just a bit longer.  I am even more thankful, though, for all of our country’s servicemen and women, their families and their loved ones.  Happy Memorial Day.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Making a summer “bucket list”
  • Tasty summer drinks 🙂
  • Snuggling with the Frenchie

What are you most looking forward to this summer?


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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: 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?