Wednesday, October 23, 2013


I haven't done a review of anything in awhile. So I figure it's time. Plus, this time I've actually used some of the products so I can give real opinions! Woohoo for being (semi) prepared!
So I'm going to review October's Stridebox today. The theme, as was with most boxes this month, is breast cancer awareness, so lots of pink! (A GREAT cause, though I kind of wish it was simply cancer awareness month. They all deserve recognition and support because all cancer's are just awful).
So let's go! First Look:
Forgive the tear in the paper, I couldn't wait to see what was inside and opened prior to taking photos. I have no self control.
 Info card, front and back:

The YUM Fuel:
Honey Stinger Strawberry waffle
This thing is amazing. It's like a waffle cookie with strawberry goodness inside. I wish I had a case of them. I may need to get more of these.
 Chocolate Agave gel:
Truth: I haven't tried this one yet. But it's chocolate, so I'm pretty game to give it a go soon!
 Fig Bar:
I THOUGHT this was just a bar, like a power bar or something like that. But ACTUALLY it's like a fig newton. But yummier. Yes. YUMMIER! I want more of these too. I had gotten one in another box and hadn't eaten it yet based on my earlier assumption. But it too has gone down the hatch. DELICIOUS.
 Apple and cherry bar:
I haven't had this exact one yet, but I have had fruit bars from this company before and they're pretty good. Though I think the Fig Bar and the Strawberry Waffle each trump it.
Ok, ok, I haven't tried this one yet either. I've been lazy with my fluids and have mostly been sticking to water. I'm sure it's tasty though, Raspberry Lemonade is one of my faves.
There were several items in here that fall under my "stuff" category this month:
BoiFreeze Pain relieving gel:
I haven't tried this yet either, but I use similar products on my horses. They seem to love them! Next time I fall on a sidewalk I'll have to give it a try though. (Yeah, sadly, I'm sure there will be a next time.)
This is that fancy tape you see athletes in the Olympics wearing. I'm still not entirely sure how or when to use it. But I'm going to do some research and maybe give it a try soon!
I love these things. I've been using the one I got from the Disney Princess Half Marathon for races ever since I got it in 2011. Perhaps it's time to switch to this one...
As you can see, another AWESOME Stridebox this month. If you haven't tried it yet, I highly recommend it! At $15.00 a month, it's not a huge cost to try some great new products. Also, I haven't had to buy a gel or energy bars since I subscribed. Stridebox keeps me well stocked! They were even featured in Runners World Magazine, which somewhat delayed delivery this month as they weren't quite prepared for all of their new customers. But the delay was minimal, I hadn't noticed until the sent an email apologizing. That's right, they told ME, I didn't even notice. Great customer service in my opinion.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

New England Equitation Championships

I was just scrolling through my most recent posts, and sheesh, this is turning into a running blog! Being that I'm only an occasional runner, we can't have that happen, now can we?! No, no we can't.
So today, let's recap my recent trip the New England Equitation Championships.
I decided to take Jamp to this final rather than Rio. The ring is not very large, and Rio tends to do better in a ring with more space. Jampy doesn't mind ring size at all, and if anything I think he's a little better with less room. I'm considered a middle aged adult at NEEC. My age group ranges from riders 23 years of age up to 45. The horse show runs Wed through Sun, with warm ups on Tuesday. Us old folks show only the first day, which is actually pretty great because we get to show the very next day after we practice. Horses are pretty smart, but for some of them, too many days between practicing in the ring and actually showing can be tough. They think they've never seen that arena before! Oh horses....
So Tuesday morning, Jampy and I set out on the road to the Big E Fairgrounds in West Springfield, MA. The fair is over for the year, which is nice, as the fairgrounds aren't busy. It's about an hours drive, and it went by uneventfully. I got there before ten and got to work setting up my grooming stall and bedding Jamp's stall. My trainer arrived around noon, but we still had some time before it was our turn to go in the warm up.
Her birthday was the day before, and I fully believe no birthday can officially end before cake has been eaten. We took advantage of the free time to put these bad boys in our bellies:
Jamp was great in the warm up! We each jumped him around the course once, and then we were done for the day! Seriously, the easiest day ever! I hung around for awhile though as it was waaaayyy too early to feed and tuck Jampy in. It was nice to watch more horses go in the ring, plus I had time to clean all the tack and my boots and really get ready to show the next day. Around 5, I fed Jamp and headed to my hotel. It's so nice there! Check out my room:
Fancy right? Well not only that, but as I'm checking in, they say to me, we're having pizza in the breakfast room if you're hungry!  Yes. FREE PIZZA. I could live there.
Wednesday morning came early. Not too early. But early none-the-less. I got to the fairgrounds around 5:30 to feed and get Jampy all braided. My course walk was at 7:15 and Amanda arrived with time to spare for that. The first class in the morning is an open equitation class for my age group. Which means it's judged, but it's not the actual Final. They split us into two groups of 30. I showed ninth in group B.
Jampy was PERFECT to every single jump. It was actually kind of surreal. Usually either I mess up something, or Jamp takes a peak at one of them, or SOMETHING normally goes wrong. But not this time. Well at least not until I landed off the last fence. Jampy landed and let out a little buck! Apparently he was pretty excited about our great round too... I scored a 78 though which isn't a bad score. Probably without the celebratory leaping we would have been in the low 80's. We finished up in 7th place, and got a purple ribbon! Yay!
After our open class, the olders have theirs, and we get a break to watch some rounds. Jampy took a nap.
Ok, that pic is really from after showing since he's not braided... but whatever. It's cute anyway!
And before I knew it, it was time to walk the Final course! I was 33rd in the order which meant I could walk the course, and watch a few before I had to get on. It seemed pretty straight forward, and I wasn't feeling too worried about anything.
Finally it was time for my Final. I walked into the ring and picked up a great canter. We found the first jump perfectly! Woohoo! Unfortunately, Jampy took a little peak at some flowers on the landing side and switched his lead. Not the end of the world, but that is considered a mistake. The next jump was a good one, but I let him stay out a little too far, making the distance to jump three a little long. After that though, it was smooth sailing! Everything came right up out of stride, and Jamp was perfect! Because of the two errors, we scored a 71. Not good enough to make it back for round 2. I was ok with that though. We didn't have any embarrassing mistakes, no major errors, and most importantly we were a pair out there! No arguments and no crossed signals. All in all, a great experience!
I can't wait to go back next year!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Because running 13.1 miles on a Saturday isn't enough...

After my half marathon weekend before last, all I really wanted was a nice relaxing Sunday.... But we all know schedules rarely work out the way we'd hope! So that Sunday, the day after my half, I ran the Michael Daly Memorial 5K run/walk. I was a little worried how the stems would feel about such a crazy idea (I almost never run two days in a row). Fortunately, they were pretty game!
Michael Daly, the namesake of the race, was a coworker and friend of mine. He passed away a few years ago, and the event was created to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Michael suffered from Diabetes which was a factor in his passing at the far too young age of 34. I didn't want to skip it for obvious reasons, but also because it's likely the last year the race will be held. I must pause here to give a big shout and thank you to all who supported my run this year. I raised $225, and the event as a whole finished up with over $14,500.00. Not bad!
Michael Daly was the biggest Yankee fan I know. In his honor, I wore my Yankees finest for the run!
So anyway, back to the race. I lined up expecting a good 34 min run... But the stems were actually pretty excited for the very flat route. Check it out:
Whoa right?!  Fastest 5K since May! I was proud of me.
After all that running that weekend, I took a little break to catch up on real life and sleep. I met the girls this morning for a run to get back in the groove.... Unfortunately, about a mile in, I tripped over a groove (see what I did there?) and was sidelined for the rest of the run. The older I get, the harder I fall! But I expect to be back at it Thursday morning!
Did any of you get some running in? I hope you stayed upright!

Half Marathon #4 Complete!

Saturday the 28th marked my 4th Half Marathon. I have to say, 4 years ago when I started the Couch to 5K program, I really didn't think I'd ever run 13.1 miles. Never-mind four times! But here I am I guess.
The Hogsback Half Marathon is held in Colebrook, CT. I don't recall every visiting that part of the state. It's really gorgeous there! We ran along side the Ct River, crossed it, and ran back along the opposite bank. Really gorgeous. The  photo above was from the registration area.
The race started out on a steep decline (my favorite!) and continued down hill for about 4 miles. While I was thoroughly enjoying the easy start, I was feeling QUITE worried about what that meant for the end of the race. (My first 5 miles were all under 9:30 minutes) My concerns were definitely warranted! The second half of the race was up and down rolling hills, though mostly up. I have to say, considering Katie and I followed the abbreviated training plan, I felt really good up through about mile 7, when I got a little tired. Even then though, I kept a decent pace (for me at least).

It wasn't until the last mile that the struggle really hit. There was a very slight yet steady incline the entire portion of the race. Then at around 12 and three quarter miles... a MOUNTAIN. Seriously. As I was wanting to die struggling up this mountain, I looked around to see that NO ONE was running. I looked at my watch and saw that I really wasn't in any danger of a new PR, and decided to join the masses and walk the mountain. It was just as hard. But we all made it up there and I took off toward the finish. (Took off is relative of course). The finish was BEAUTIFUL! We ran across this bridge over a dam... amazing!
Thanks Katie for the pic!
I finished in 2 hours and 16 minutes. My third slowest. But given the terrain and only 5 weeks of training, I feel good about the experience. Do I wish I'd been faster? Of course! But it's an accomplishment to run 13.1 miles, no matter how fast or slow you do it! Plus check out the swag:

cutest medal EVER
Quite possible the best part of this race (I dunno that medal and shirt are tough to beat) was the post-race food. Seriously, I have never seen such a spread at a road race! Ziti, lasagna, (both available with and without meat) salad, bagels, fruit, cookies, rice krispy treats, brownies... Mmmmm!

Hungry Hippo

 Katie and I even managed a post race smile:

We've been saying that may be our last half. But I have a feeling that's not entirely true. We shall see how it plays out!