My Favorite Running Playlist

For as long as I can remember, music has been a solid part of my life. My father has played in a band since he was old enough to hold a guitar, rocking on everything from guitar to bass to singing too. He instilled that love of music in me from day one – hell, I’m even named after an Allman Brothers Band song! He brought me up on every different kind of music you can imagine: Madonna, Van Halen, BTO, the Monkees – nothing was off limits.

Because I was raised on such a musical foundation, I’m always looking for new and different music to score my every day life, including my running!

My “RUN” playlist is constantly in flux as I grow tired of some songs and discover new ones. But to discover more, I figured I should put some of my favorites out there to see if it’ll get you in the sharing mood! So here’s a snapshot of my current running playlist – take a listen and see if you can’t find a new favorite!

Now that you’ve heard some of my favorites, what are some of yours? I’m always looking for new tunes, and can’t wait to hear what gets you moving and grooving!

Tough Times Don’t Last, Tough People Do

If you know me personally, you know that I’m a big fan of lists (no, really – I freakin love them). And when you combine lists with running, I am allll over that.

So when this list of things the Hungry Runner Girl does to get through the toughest part of a run popped up in my FB feed today, it really struck a chord with me. There are some super helpful tips here! Many of these are tricks that I’ve used on myself before, like the “pick a spot and get there” trick, which I used to great effect in my last half marathon. I’ve also discovered that moving my arms faster actually does help me speed up, so I was happy to see that make an appearance here too!

But there were also a few tips that I never would have thought of in a million years! I love it when I stumble upon a helpful new running tip, don’t you? I was particularly excited by the idea of counting your steps: my major issue when I start to flag is that my mind gets sucked into a negative vortex and nothing short of an atom bomb will bust it out. But focusing on something as mundane as counting the number of steps I’m taking sounds like a fantastic way to break the negative cycle and focus on the literal “one foot in front of the other” motion!

I also enjoyed the idea of tying a rope around the person in front of me – usually I don’t like to concentrate on others in a race, but this seems like it’s more about the idea of visualization and distraction, which, much like lists, I am ALLLL over.

It got me thinking about some of my own Tough Times Tips:

1. Imagine how great it’ll feel to tell everyone about this after you’ve succeeded. Pride can be a hugely motivating thing. I personally have lost count of how many workouts I’ve pushed through, just to be able to say “Yeah, I lifted that much/ran that far/did that!” Vain? Maybe. Effective? 100%! Similarly:

2. Do it for the reward. Maybe you’ve promised yourself an awesome victory lap at the local diner after your race. Or perhaps you’ve got a massage on the schedule to relieve those sore muscles? Even if it’s just for the medal or for the personal satisfaction, keep your eye on the prize and you’ll be crossing that finish line in no time.

3. Go someplace else. This one is a little harder to do, and sometimes if you’ve been smushed up against The Wall for too long you may be better trying something else. But when I’m finding it hard to physically push when I’m at my limits, I just look up at the sky, pick a cloud, and imagine what that cloud has seen. Sometimes I’m able to picture some pretty awesome places – even if they’re 100% made up in my mind 😉

So what do you think? Do you have any other tips to add to this already awesome list? I’d love to hear them!

Your Happy Weight

I know that the subject of weight can be a touchy one, but if losing over 100lbs has done anything for me, it’s to not be sensitive to that number on the scale. So today I’m going to share my actual weight to show you that the number on the scale isn’t everything! Are you ready? Here goes: as of today, I weigh 170 lbs.


Even my doctor doesn’t believe me when she weighs me!

But that’s not what matters – and here’s why:

About 10 years ago, I weighed 275 lbs. My goal weight was 150, but there was no real science or logic to why I picked that number; it just sounded “healthy”. So with 5 years of hard work and healthy eating, I hit my lowest weight of 155 in 2010 – and I was miserable! Even with obsessive calorie counting and multiple workouts a day, I still couldn’t hit my arbitrary “goal”. I felt like a failure so I obsessed over my body image and hated myself even more. Then I found running.

Through 2011 and 2012, I built muscle and gained weight – or at least, the number on the scale went up. Then my injury in October 2012 caused even more weight gain and muscle loss, bringing me up to an unhealthy 176. But once again, I worked hard and shed fat to build muscle, and now I’m currently at 170.

Now my old “goal” weight is nowhere in sight. But here’s the catch: I’m ok with that! Because instead of starving myself just to get to some arbitrary number, I’m learning to eat when I’m hungry, I’m learning to follow my body’s cues, and treating my body with respect by fueling it right and working out regularly. Sure, I’m nowhere near perfect – but I’m happy!

In short: Don’t beat yourself up over a number on the scale. Sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down, but as long as you do your best every day, you’re winning!

It’s a Marshmallow World (and now I want cocoa)

Have you seen this Target commercial yet? The Christmas-themed one with the little girl running around a scary-ass, toy-filled Alice in Wonderland themed hellscape with a dog wearing booties?

Yeah, I don’t enjoy it either.

Now, it’s currently November 18th. And I estimate that I’ve seen this commercial about 3,945 times in the last two weeks. Because, you know, nothing says Christmas like November 9th.

I know I say this every year – and I see it every year in the news and hear about it from my friends and coworkers too, so I’m not alone – but are they airing these commercials earlier and earlier? I swear it used to be that you didn’t break out the jingle bells until December, Christmas decorations didn’t hit the stores until Black Friday, and we held off on fa-la-la-ing until like the week or two before the 25th.

At the risk of sounding like a scrooge (too late), I hereby rebel. Nay – I RAGE against the Christmas machine! I want to enjoy the holiday at its core: family, food, love, food, sharing, food, caring, wine… that’s what Christmas is all about, man. And frankly, if I start celebrating now, I won’t have any pants that fit come December 25th. So I’m calling a yuletide boycott until Friday, November 28th.

No list-making, no ho-ho-ho-ing (okay, maybe a little ho-ing, a girl’s gotta eat), no carol-singing, nada. Who’s coming with me??

I Don’t Wanna and You Can’t Make Me (AKA The Tantrum Workout)

It is a cold, miserable, rainy Monday here in NJ, and I’m running on about 5 hours of sleep and a lot of emotions. Last night the hubs and I saw Interstellar and well, they may as well have just named it Sob Uncontrollably Along With Matthew McConaughey for Three Straight Hours, because holy wow. Without spoiling it, I’ll just say that relativity is a heartless BITCH. I’m so drained from going on that emotional roller coaster ride (even though it was *just* a movie, I still get into those things!), crying, and lack of sleep that I’m having a hard time working up the Ooof to work out. And frankly, I’m about to throw a tantrum.

anigif_enhanced-9815-1411488245-3Am I the only one who has to suppress the urge to throw a full-on, punch-the-ground, wailing fit in moments like these? Seriously. I just want to lay down on the ground and kick because I have no desire to get up out of this desk chair, strip out of my comfy clothes and put on cold workout gear, go out into the rain, drive an hour to get to the gym, and then move my body for another hour, only to go home and have to change out of those clothes, shower off, make dinner, finish some laundry, and do it all over again tomorrow.

When I think too much about the monotony of it all, I get kind of existential. Every day is exactly the same.

Or is it?

Maybe I’ll try something different today. I’m going to go get changed, and I’m going to the office gym instead, which is just one flight of stairs below me. It’ll probably be empty, which means that I can do whatever I want. And since what I want to do is lay down and punch the floor, maybe that’s what I’m gonna do.

You heard me right: I’m gonna make the Tantrum a new workout craze.

I mean, look at little mama up there! She’s working it. Every part of her body is in motion there. Legs and arms outstretched and flailing – done for about 10-15 minutes straight, I can see that taking some serious core strength. Add some wailing and you’re getting a cardiovascular workout from the deep breaths you need to take – bada bing, bada boom: you’ve got yourself a full-body workout in 15 minutes!

What say you? Should I copyright The Tantrum (c)? Or like lil  mama up there, do you think I really just need a nap? 😉

Review: Fabletics Workout Gear

Have you guys tried Fabletics yet? I just got my second order and figured I’d share my opinions in case there are people out there that were on the fence like me!

Fabletics is a subscription-based workout clothing company that Kate Hudson co-founded. I was on the fence at first: each month they pick outfits based on your preferred style input, and if you don’t like their picks, just “skip” the month by the 5th and you’re fine. BUT, if you don’t click “skip”, you’re auto-billed $49.95(!). Now, I’m not a forgetful person by nature, but $50 is a lot! Granted, you can spend it whenever you like in the future, but ugh – that’s a big responsibility!

However, the outfit I first spotted (the Aruba) just made me so happy, and it was an especially good deal: with the new member bonus discount and free shipping, I received a 3-piece outfit for a total of $29.97! So I signed up and got my first order in less than a week: and I was pretty happy with the results:

aruba 1

Lima Capri (in High Intensity Print)

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The Lima capris get a B. They were a little thicker and less stretchy (and as a result, snugger) than I expected. Because of that, I’m afraid to do squats in them; I usually reserve them for elliptical workouts or running. That’s OK though, because the pros outweigh the cons: the higher waist is super flattering (no muffin top), the pattern hides flaws, and they’re not see-through.

Aventura Tank (in White)



Overall, not super impressed. If I paid full price for this top, I would have returned it. It’s super thin and more see-through than I expected, but considering the outfit I purchased it with, it works. It’s also cut very nicely and super soft, so I’d give it a B-.

Sevan Sports Bra (in Purple)

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Sadly, the sports bra – while cute! – is pretty much just for show because it lacks any support whatsoever. I basically got it because it came with the outfit, and wanted to experiment with a sports bra in a color other than black showing out from under the white tank! That said, it fits very well, the material is ultra soft, and it looks cute. So if you’re doing something super-low-impact, it’ll be just fine (light yoga, lifting, etc). I’ve worn it a handful of times doing lighter activity like that and have no complaints. Grade: B-

After my first order, I wasn’t SO thrilled by Fabletics, so I kind of forgot about them. To avoid the $49.95 monthly charge, I dutifully checked each email and skipped the next few months. Until I went away the whole first week of November and missed my skip window! BOOO!!

Well, I had no one to blame but myself. Besides, $50 on workout stuff is par for the course for me. I was sure I’d find something I liked, so I resolved to spend it, call it a lesson learned, and move on. So I took a look at the available outfits and was surprised to find myself interested in the Current:

currentAfter placing my order on the 11th, I was amazed at how fast it arrived only 3 days later on the 14th, and I was even more impressed by the quality!

Eureka Top (in Cobalt Heather)

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While it is tighter, I *really* like this top. It reminds me of the Lululemon Run Swiftly tops. From the online reviews, it seems that while they’re really cute, the Swiftly tops also suffer from pulls and holes at the slightest snag. So I took a chance and figured with Fabletics’ return policy I could exchange it for something else if it seemed too flimsy. But boy was I pleasantly surprised!! The material is SUPER soft, ultra-warm, and high-quality. I even accidentally snagged it on the Velcro of my overcoat on the way to the gym and didn’t even see one pull. Score!

Again, this top is SNUG, but in a good way. When I wore it with the Camacan capris, I felt 100% confident that I didn’t look like a sausage – on the contrary, this top made me feel like I looked more fit by contouring the right spots. The only con wasn’t even a failure of the shirt: because it was so warm (and the color was so light), the instant I started sweating, it showed.

I only share because I care. But I still give it an A!

Camacan Capri (in Inkwell/Fractal Print Inkwell)

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These are the first Fabletics piece I’ll give an A+ too, and you need to try them yourself to see why. I was hesitant to try these capris after the snug/unforgiving Lima capris, but I was so pleasantly surprised! These are so soft and stretchy, but not see through at all. The waist is just high enough and doesn’t give me any muffin top, and gives where needed. The colors and the print are very pretty. These are by far my #1 pick, and I may grab a few more pairs too!

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So what are you waiting for? Are you interested in Fabletics and want to try them out for yourself? Then be sure to sign up using my referral link and help me get some free stuff while you’re treating yourself – and happy shopping!

Race Recap: NYRR Dash to the Finish Line 5K

Oh my goodness you guys – SO much awesomeness has happened these past few weeks, I can’t wait to share it all with you! PR’s, vacations, wine… Ahh! Where do I begin? How about with a race recap of the NYRR Dash to the Finish Line 5K. Get ready, it’s a long one!

OK, I don’t think I can accurately describe my anticipation levels for this race. I mean: a 3.1 mile course through Manhattan that ends at the NYCM finish line, the day before the marathon, in the greatest city on earth, in Central Park, surrounded by thousands of other runners? Hell Yeah! So I jumped on it with a few friends and got ready for my first race in NYC!

Because it’s such a big race, they don’t allow the usual race-day bib pickup you get at smaller races. Instead, we had to go to the Marathon Expo the Thursday before for our bibs, and let me tell you: I am SO glad we did! Forget any other expos you’ve ever been to; NYCM is the best. My words fail me when I think of how to explain it to you. The only thing I can say is that it was Runner’s Paradise.

IMG_8576My cousin Heather and I were running the 5K, while my friend Tina (the marathon pro) was set to run the full. She’s done plenty of other marathons but this was her first NYCM, and a special race for her. I was so excited to share the expo experience with her (and even MORE excited about her amazing PR on race day, GO TINA!)!

IMG_8604We’re better runners than we are jumpers.

After picking up our bibs, we wandered around the Javits Center for a few hours – now, I know the usual expo experience includes shopping, but I wasn’t 100% prepared for this. Because, O, the shopping to be done here! Endless row upon row of running related goodies! Headbands, gels, arm warmers, earbuds, sneakers… it never ended! We made our way through lane after lane, stopping for freebies and photo-ops and just generally having a good time, before calling it a night.

Our race was on Saturday, so Friday night I laid out my gear (after anxiously texting Heather for an hour about what to wear) and went to bed super early for my 4am wakeup. When the alarm went off, it was *ugh* out there. About 40 degrees and raining, and still dark. So I geared up and headed for the train station where I met Heather and Jenny (and her fiance, Patrick, who joined us for moral support), and we made our sleepy way into the city. Side note: if you ever get the chance to go into NYC super early the day after Halloween, DO IT. The amount of still-drunk, partied-out bodies in half-ruined costumes littering the hallways of Penn Station was funny enough to make coffee come out of my nose. Seriously.

Instead of taking the subway like sane people, we decided to walk the mile or so to the start line for a warm up, in the rain and darkness. I’m not kidding – it looked like midnight in Times Square:

IMG_8654We finally made it to the start in front of the UN, where we were literally the 2nd group of people to show up – for real, race directors were still setting up barricades. But we hung out, had some fun photos taken, and saw some interesting characters (I’m lookin’ at you, guy with photo-realistic male genitalia printed on your compression shorts and waving a 4-foot tall Italian flag).

758352-1003-0033s (2)We paid to do this??

IMG_8676He and his whole crew ran topless, in bras. In 40 degree rain. Gotta love us runners.

You’ll notice that all of our bibs have brown labels – this means we were all in the “Slow As Shit” corral (our term, patent pending), ALLLLL the way behind almost 8,000 other runners. Pretty sure that by the time we got to our corral to line up, the first corral had already finished. Just sayin.

IMG_8674Either way, we huddled together in the back of the pack and slowly made our way to the start. At this point, it was COLD – our fingers had all frozen stiff and we were doing little dances to keep warm. And it didn’t help matters when the rain picked up from a drizzle to a full-bore shower. But all we did was pull our hoods tighter and run – and run we did!

Once we crossed the start, I couldn’t help it and took off. This was by far the most crowded race I’ve ever run. People were constantly maneuvering around each other, and I zig-zagged from one side of the street to the other more times than I could count, just to get around groups of people. I was actually passing people! That NEVER HAPPENS!

IMG_9199People. People everywhere!

So while some groups weaved around like me, others jumped puddles (or splashed through them), some held hands and ran in a line (PS: not cool for almost clotheslining me, Team Germany), disabled runners ran with guides (which is the coolest most inspirational thing to see EVER) – it was a totally unique experience. We all ran through the streets of Manhattan in the rain, laughing and chatting and powering through as a giant herd. I was shocked at the number of spectators cheering us on – it was just a 5K, but these folks had cowbells, were taking pics and video with their iPads, waved signs, the works! Even in the rain!!

I smiled the. Whole. Time. 

I lost count of how many times I glanced at the people and buildings around me and thought, “My God, what an amazing thing I’m doing right now.” It really was humbling to be running through the huge streets with 8,000 other folks. I ran the whole race in the moment, which was also awesome motivation to run faster, which I discovered at the end of the race!

The rain and the chill in the air were forgotten – at one point I even took my hood off and let the rain cool me down because I was so hot under all my layers!! And because it was so cold, I only checked my watch once around mile 1.4. I was amazed to see that my time was only around 10:xx, and thought that was weird – maybe the satellite reception was wonky because of all the buildings I was running between?

As we coasted into Central Park for the final mile, I kept my pace and started passing more and more people, even on the uphills! My legs felt like feathers, my breathing was even; it was like I didn’t even have to try! I’ve never felt that before, and it’s a feeling I’ll be chasing after in the future too. As we ran under the Mile 26 banner, I thought about how amazing it would be to actually see that banner the next day after running through all 5 boroughs, and I realized that maybe I wasn’t meant to run the AC Marathon, because NYC is destined to be my first. I still smile when I think that 🙂

Once I caught glimpses of the finish line as we looped around the park, the chills I felt weren’t from the cold, but from anticipation and excitement! Now I know this was just a 5K (I know, not just a 5K, but you know what I mean), but to run that final .2 miles through the finish chute lined with flags from around the world, past the bleachers and rows of spectators, and to finally see that Finish Line with all of its crazy colors and giant video screen… it was unreal!

Just as I crossed the mat, I threw my hands up in the air (and refrained from waving them like I didn’t care, because it was very crowded), and smiled at the race photographer directly in front of me – and managed to create one of my favorite race photos of all time:

758340-1070-0006sI had crossed the NYC Marathon Finish Line (a day early, after only running 3.1 miles), and it was amazing!

The finishers chute was packed with folks trying to find their families and friends, on cell phones, trying to warm up, laughing and hugging – it was like the craziest parade ever. I remembered to stop my watch after a few yards and was stunned at what I saw:

IMG_8684What the WHAT?!? I quickly pulled over to the side of the path and couldn’t help but whip out my pace calculator. If my Garmin was right (and it’s never been wrong), that would mean…

IMG_8686I was running 9:15 miles???

I have NEVER broken consecutive 10 minute miles in my life. And I had just run almost 4 of them, without feeling a thing – and I felt like I could have just kept on going, too!!

I grabbed my post-race bag of apples and pretzels and water, then the chill started to seep in. So I quickly called Heather and Jenny who had finished a few minutes later (and Jenny also PR’d, woop woop!!), where we met up and celebrated before making our way to warmer locations.

IMG_8705A bunch of frozen runners!

It was a long walk back to the train station in the pouring rain, especially now that we were soaking wet to the bone from sweat and rain, but I didn’t care. I was riding high on my new PR, happy to be in my favorite city in the world, and psyched for what the future holds.

All in all, I cannot WAIT to do this race again next year – unless of course, I’m running the full marathon by then 😉