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Perks of Not Working for THE MAN

4 Jun

As my time as an engineer draws to a close, I find myself getting even more nervous, excited, and anxious about our big move and my massive career change. I will spend today cleaning out my office and clearing off my work laptop. Reality is setting in big time. To keep myself from focusing on the anxiety associated with such big changes, I need to highlight some of the perks that will come along with my new position!

BLUE HAIR
I am 100% serious about this. Throughout my college years, I experimented with many different colors of hair…some natural…some notsomuch. My favorite hair experiment was with the color blue. I absolutely LOVED it. As soon as I find a stylist in Greenville that I feel is capable of giving me such a dramatic color, I will be dying some (possibly all?) of my hair navy blue. Imagine comic book hair…looks almost black when inside, but is obviously a deep shade of blue when the sunlight hits it! Or maybe I’ll go with a lighter blue? Either way, I cannot wait!

This could be cool, right? Even though I’m almost 30?


FLEXIBLE SCHEDULE
Run at 6AM? Run at 9AM? Run at 11AM? Run at 1PM? Run at 3PM? Sure…why not! The perks of having a flexible schedule is that, barring important meetings and/or conference calls, I will be able to schedule running and workout time when my body is ready for it. No more awkward crack of dawn runs or runs in the dark of night…unless I feel like it. As I have said before, my body most enjoys running around 8AM but, like most people, I have always had to be at work at this time. In addition, if I want to take group exercise classes that fall during the daytime, my schedule will now allow it. Since I will be directing/managing/timing races, many of my work hours will fall on the weekends anyway, so I will not allow myself to feel guilty for taking a mid-morning run. I will have to get used to this, since I can tend to be a workaholic, but I am sure that it won’t be *too* hard of a routine to break into.

!! TREADMILL DESK !!
Oh yes, you read that right, friends! Mama is gettin’ herself a freaking treadmill desk! I need one of these…I mean NEED. And I don’t mean “need” like “want”…I mean “need” like I NEED food and water. Okay, so maybe the situation isn’t *that* dire, but I have wanted to have a job where I could utilize a treadmill desk for YEARS and I am determined to make this happen. With the expenses of a new house and moving so far, I don’t know how we are going to afford this yet, but trust me, I will make this a reality. Can’t you just picture me…planning races, making big stuff happen, all while burning calories and getting fit? That’s the ultimate in multi-tasking! I’d be able to keep the longest run streak EVER with a treadmill desk!

Photo courtesy of TrekDesk


Being an engineer, I had originally planned on crafting one myself, until I saw the TrekDesk. I still think I could design and make a pretty awesome treadmill desk, but I do not have time for those shenanigans right now, so TrekDesk it is! Now I just need to figure out how to pay for it…and pay for a treadmill. To that end…

ANNOUNCEMENT! I am now taking financial backers for katieRUNSthis! Ha! I kid, I kid. But seriously, if you have a wad of cash lying around and you want to help me invest in my health, I would be more than happy to let you buy me a treadmill and treadmill desk. After all, I just want to be like Bart Yasso when I grow up.

Photo courtesy of my friends @runhers!


As far as treadmills go, I think this one from Cybex is pretty fancy. Plus, it helps raise funds for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF).

I’m normally not a huge fan of pink…but it does support a great cause!


I also like this one from ProForm. I mean, with the Boston Marathon logo smack dab on the side, how could you NOT be inspired daily? Get me to Copley Square!

In all honesty, I will probably end up with a used one from a garage sale or Craigslist. There has got to be someone who is tired of just hanging clothes on theirs, right?

Do you have a job that allows you to not work for THE MAN? If so, what are your favorite perks? If you do still work for the man, what would you change if you could?

Who Runs Marathons?

1 Jun

Kourage Running: The Kourage of a Kenyan

22 Mar

Last fall, I heard about this company called Kourage Athletics and I was so impressed by their mission and work that I wanted to share them with you!

Kourage Athletics is a non-profit company that creates running apparel that is designed, manufactured, and managed in Kenya by Kenyans. Kourage garments are exported and sold in the developed countries with revenues reinvested into the Kenyan economy.

“Production for the Kourage gear is source to a Kenyan owned and operated factory. Small moves like this help decrease the level of poverty in Kenya via job creation. Through these well-paying jobs, workers and their families are able to afford private school for their children, adequate medical care, and nutritious meals which leads to an increased quality of life. Furthermore, workers are provided with valuable training that improve their lifetime earning potential. The result is that Kenyans are able to pursue exactly what Americans, or people of any nation want — a job that allows them to improve their own lives, as well as those of their families.” – Kourage Athletics

We all know that Kenya is known for some of the most incredible runners in the world, but Kourage hopes to also spread light on a greater story…that of those who are persevering despite hardships or being frightened.

So how can you help them in their mission?

You can buy a cool Kourage running shirt. Don’t worry, shipping to the US is FREE!

This one is my favorite!

You can dust off your bicycle and go on the Kourage Ride.

Seattle to Los Angeles
1,400 miles
July 7 – 28, 2012
Be a hero. Cycle for Kenya.

…or you can do this one…MY FAVORITE

You can travel to Kenya and go on the Kourage Safari!

A 10-day running safari in Kenya?? Yes, please! The itinerary boasts fun activities like trail running excursion, training with local Kenya running groups, and lectures from the coaches of some of the Kenyan runner elites! Talk about the experience of a lifetime!

To help spread the word about Kourage, I’m giving away one of their awesome running shirts! You can get one entry for each task you complete below. Be sure and leave me a comment letting me know what you did! The giveaway ends 5PM CST on Monday, March 26, 2012. The winner will be selected by random.org.

  1. Follow @kouragerunning on Twitter.
  2. Like the Kourage Athletics facebook page.
  3. Tweet about the giveaway! “I entered to win a @kouragerunning shirt from @katieRUNSthis! http://bit.ly/GOcTRi #running #giveaway”
  4. Follow me on Twitter @katieRUNSthis!
  5. Leave a comment about how Kenyan runners inspire you!

And as I have said before…it would be cool if you decided to subscribe to katieRUNSthis, but you don’t have to. But, if you do, I’ll add you to my list of super awesome people that I like…which, I might add, is a pretty prestigious list to be on.

Running Shoe Review: On Running Cloudsurfer

1 Feb

Right Out of the Box…
Upon first glance, these are some of the most unique running shoes I have seen. The rubber “tubes” on the sole are really interesting and are a new feature to me. Unlike other running shoes with rubber lugs, these shoes feature them at the midfoot and also on the heel. The overall design of the upper is extremely simple, featuring a two-color black and lime green design. The mesh that extends across the entire upper of the shoes is light and is widely pocketed, which I think will make it highly breathable. The padding of the tongue is substantial, making for an extremely comfortable fit on the top of the foot. Even tying the shoes tightly created no pinched feeling. The logo designs on the shoes are simple and not distracting. For runners who keep aesthetics at the top of their list, it is worth noting the clever placement of the logo on the heels of the shoes. Well played!

On Running Cloudsurfer


Clever design!


Just holding the shoe and moving it around, it does feel a bit more at the midfoot than what I am typically used to, but I am hoping the rubber lugs will help make up for some of that lost flexibility.

Road Tested…
On the road, this shoe performed extremely well. The forefoot of the sole felt more flexible than I had anticipated. The midsole was a bit stiffer, but as I suspected, the rubber lugs did their job and did not make it feel stiff. The collar of the shoe felt really snug under my ankles and on my heel but it did not rub and it caused no blisters. My foot felt stable, but I never felt like movement of my ankle was hindered. After doing a couple of road runs, the shoes responded well and I was able to change directly quickly while still maintaining a stable contact with the ground.

CloudTec Lugs


(Light) Trail Tested…
My bigger concern was taking these shoes out on a light trail run (ie, light gravel, grass, light cross-country), however, I was pleasantly surprised! I thought the smoothness of the bottom of the lugs might keep me from getting the traction needed to push forward, but this was not an issue at all. As the foot hits the ground, the lugs compress, and they, for all practical purposes, “grit their teeth.” Once the teeth on the inside of the lug are together, they keep the shoe from moving out from underneath you, while your body continues to propel ahead. Even more interesting is the fact that the teeth in the lug on the heel and the teeth in the lugs at the forefoot are different sizes. Your body hits the ground differently depending on your strike and the Cloudsurfer can absolutely respond appropriately.

"Wide Teeth" Heel Lugs


"Narrow Teeth" Forefoot/Midfoot Lugs


The only hiccup I experienced was with running in these in light rain. Since the sole of the shoe is relatively smooth, I found it a bit more difficult to get traction when the road was wet. Living in Louisiana with many rainy days, this would mean having a second pair on hand for rainy runs, but these shoes felt so great that I would highly recommend getting a pair to have for all the dry days! If you live in a drier part of the country, this would not be a concern for you at all. However, it is worth noting that the wide-pocketed mesh of the upper breathed really well and dried very quickly once wet.

The Specs…
The best part about the CloudTec technology is that the lugs give you the feeling of stability and cushioning without having to add padding to the upper of the shoe. Instead, the cushioning and shock absorption comes from the sole of the shoe, as opposed to the padding inside the shoe. Very smart!

The medium-width of the toe box was very comfortable. Being a runner who experiences relatively significant toe-splay during running, I felt that my toes and feet had plenty enough room. For runners who like narrower shoes or who do not experience much spreading of the forefoot during runner, this may not be the best option. However, for the average runner with normal toe-splay, this shoe would perform beautifully.

The weight of the shoe is 11oz (313g) for a men’s size 9. This was only slightly heavier than my typical running shoes and the added weight did not seem to be a huge factor for me. As stated before, it seems that the majority of the weight of the shoes comes from the sole, with the material and stitching on the upper part of the shoe being very simple. The overall heel drop is 6mm. More stable shoes often feature a heel drop of 8mm and more minimal shoes feature a heel drop of 4mm. Coming in right in the middle, this would be an ideal shoe for a runner needing a shoe right in between a neutral running and stability running shoe.

As far as price goes, these shoes certainly are not the “economy model” and may not be the best choice for someone just getting started in the sport. The price is comparable to a pair of Newton running shoes, and in my opinion, they are worth the money. At the end of the day, it takes good gear to perform and sometimes, you just have to invest in yourself.

I have put a fair amount of miles in these shoes in training for the upcoming Rouge-Orleans. Considering the volume of miles, duration of the runs, and the way I tend to beat my shoes to death, I am very impressed with the durability. After the rainy run, I did clean them up a bit, and they still came out looking almost brand new. Investing in a good pair of running shoes can be daunting, but knowing that you will have a durable and reliable pair for your training is worth every penny.

Engineered for running.


Lastly, and this is a purely aesthetical notation, but I would like to point out the tab stitched on the tongue. It says, “Engineered in Switzerland.” This really stands out to me. As an analytical person and a runner, I like to think I personally try to engineer my body to perform well by training properly, stretching, etc. I like the idea of this shoe being “engineered” to help me perform. It’s the little things.

This seems like a great shoe for a runner looking for neutral to light stability. While it is not too over the top, the light cushion, mid-level heel drop, and ever so slight rigidity would be ideal for a runner who slightly overpronates. Due to the placement of the rubber lugs on the entire sole, it seems to be a good fit for heel-strikers and runners who push off on their forefoot/midfoot.

Overall Grade: A

For more, information on the On-Running CloudTec technology, be sure and check out their website at www.on-running.com.

Have a question? Leave me a comment and I will get back to you!

Gear That Rocks: Brooks PureProject PureGrit

30 Sep

Woo hoo! The new Brooks PureProject line launches tomorrow! Are you excited yet? If not, you should be! If you are interested in the Brooks PureProject PureConnect road running shoe, check out my review of it in this post.

Ever since I visited the Brooks Cavalcade of Curiosities event at my last marathon expo in the spring, I have had this deep love of the Brooks Cascadia trail running shoe. However, most of my trail running tends to be in the fall and winter months, so I had not really had the incentive to look into trail shoes again until very recently. On a side note, why I tend to run more trails in the fall and winter months is beyond me. Maybe I like the combination of cool, crisp air and the sound of crunchy leaves or something. Who knows…

I recently got the opportunity to wear-test the new Brooks PureProject PureGrit. This is the PureProject answer to the Cascadia and I could not be more amped about it!

Check out this video I made of my overall initial observations of the PureGrit…

The PureGrit weighs in at 7.6oz, which is 1.1oz more than the PureConnect. While some people may not think this is a noticeable difference, I can tell you that when holding one in each hand, the difference in weight is obvious to me. As I mentioned above, this is certainly not a deterrent for me at all, as I expect a trail running shoe to be “more substantial” than a road running shoe.

Starting at the bottom of the shoe, one of the most unique things I noticed was the single-piece outsole. The entire bottom of the shoe is ONE piece of material. The sole design features what I would describe as almost mini-cleats…ensuring traction on the trail. There are also no weird grooves or crannies for mud, small rocks, or sticks to get stuck in. Plus, with no mesh areas, if you run over mud, damp grass, or wet areas, you can be sure none of that will come seeping up through the shoe. I have had this happen to me before and it is the worst! The concavity of the midsole and the lugs still give you plenty of abililty to feel the ground under your feet. In addition, the ideal heel encourages a midfoot/footstrike.


The upper of the shoe is made of two layers of mesh, like the PureConnect. However, that is where the similarities in the uppers end. In the Pure Grit, the under layer of mesh has much wider holes, allowing for maximum breathability. The finer mesh that is laid over that is much more cloth-like than the PureConnect. Overall, the toebox of the PureGrit is wider, creating a more stable platform for running on the uneven surfaces a trail offers. The upper of the PureGrit definitely features heavier duty material (certainly the major contributing factor to the increase in weight), but I feel like this is necessary to make this trail running shoe durable and suitable for taking it off the road.


Immediately when putting the shoe on, I noticed that the PureGrit was not as flexible as the PureConnect. Keep in mind that I am not saying that it is not flexible, it is just not as flexible. The single-piece outsole makes the forefoot flex a bit more rigid, but I still find the flex to be easy and the shoe to be responsive.

The PureGrit shoe features the same split-toe and Nav Band technology as the Pure Connect. However the Nav Band in the PureGrit is thicker, by width and stitching. The Nav Bands of both shoes run the entire length of the arch lock, creating a snug and secure fit on the foot, once tied. The tongue design is also unique to each shoe. The way the tongue of the shoe is connected to the shoe in the PureGrit requires lacing UNDER the Nav Band, whereas in the PureConnect it is OVER the NavBand. The tongue of the PureGrit is also thicker and more heavily padded than its road counterpart.

I was able to put in two light trail/cross-country runs in the PureGrit shoes and I can say that these are the best trail running shoes I have ever run in. They are MUCH lighter than my previous two pairs of trail runners and they definitely feel more responsive than anything I have tried before.

Overall, I suppose it is not necessarily “fair” to compare the PureConnect and the PureGrit, as one is truly as road runner and the other is truly a trail runner. If you run on both roads and trails, I highly recommend you having a specific pair of shoes for each purpose. Running shoes are definitely made uniquely for either intended purpose and you want to make sure you have the right equipment for the type of running you plan on doing. I just compared the two here in this post for the purpose of showing you the differences and helping you make a decision if you were considering one OR the other. However, if you are a road AND trail runner, you may want to consider purchasing both.

If you are already a Brooks wearer and are considering making the switch to a PureProject shoe, check out this chart to help figure out what style of the new collection (PureConnect, PureFlow, PureCadence, or PureGrit) might work best for you!

Between the review of the PureConnect and this review, I hope this gives you a little more insight into the PureProject line. I highly encourage you to at least give them a try! They will be in stores and available for purchase tomorrow, October 1st!

If you are in the Baton Rouge area, be sure and stop by Varsity Sports for the official Brooks PureProject Launch Party at 9AM! I’ll be there!

Do you plan on trying any of the Brooks PureProject shoes?

Running/Fitness Apparel for the Mama-To-Be

24 Sep

I get asked more and more often these days about maternity activewear and what I feel comfortable exercising in now that my body has changed so drastically. I think the population of pregnant exercisers is significantly growing and it is definitely a challenge to find dri-wicking apparel to keep up with our expanding mid-sections.

When I found out I was expecting, I tried scouring the internet for maternity running/exercise apparel. Surprisingly, a lot of articles just suggested I wear my husband’s one-size-larger t-shirts and just “make do.” I was so disappointed. I hate working out in 100% cotton. The heat and humidity in South Louisiana makes cotton a terrible choice for activewear.

I knew that my belly would be expanding disproportionally from the rest of my body and I wanted some clothes that would be able to keep up with the change in my measurements. After all, NOT running, walking, or exercising to some degree throughout my pregnancy never really crossed my mind. As with running pre-pregnancy, I felt good exercising in technical apparel that was both functional and attractive, and I knew I would want that same feeling once my baby belly arrived. Was this really too much to ask?

Well, it took a little research, but I think I have found the best of the best in maternity running/fitness apparel! Here are the items that my bump and I are rocking these days…

fit2Bmom

Curve Back Tank

This shirt FEELS so good. The wider straps really helps keep The Girls in and still. The ruching on the sides provides a nice fit and truly grows with you.

V Front Capri

These pants are super comfortable and do not fit terribly snugly at the top. When running, I feel like the slip down ever so slightly, so I use them mostly for walking and yoga.

Colorblock Long Pant

These are the best. I wear them almost exclusively for yoga. However, they are certainly cute enough to go run errands in after class.

For Two Fitness

Running for Two Tank

I love this shirt! I ran my first triathlon at 26 weeks in this tank!

Yoga for Two Tank

I just got this one a couple of weeks ago. The thinner straps are super comfortable and the built-in bra is VERY helpful for keeping The Girls still when doing all those yoga moves!

BornFit

Oxford Maternity Skirt

This is a pretty standard running skirt but the extra tummy panel helped make me feel more secure with belly bounce and kept me from having to wear my other shorts and skirts pushed down under my belly…which hurt.

Reebok for A Pea in the Pod

Sleeveless Scoop Neck Drawstring Maternity Tank Top

I just loved the print of this top! As with the top above, the ruching on the side grew with my belly and the built-in bra made me feel more comfortable. Oh, and did I mention that it is on SALE right now?

C9 by Champion for Target

Seamless Babydoll Tank

I actually bought this top in every color they sold it in. I have it in the teal, purple, and black. The link for this item is no longer active on their website, but it is still available in both Target locations in my city. If you like this item, you may want to check your stores soon before they sell out completely.

Running Skirts

Mums Midnight Maternity Fitness Skirt

Very coincidentally, all three of my babydoll tanks from Target make for super cute pairings with this skirt! The FULL tummy panel really gave me extra security on my runs…especially when I got farther into my late second/early third trimesters. I got lots of compliments on it!

MomBodFitness

FITsplint

The FITsplint is an unbelievable product (my full review of it here)! During pregnancy, my ability to run/exercise literally changes from day to day and some days I feel like I need more support. When I do, the FITsplint is the first thing I reach for. Sometimes I even wear it to work just for the extra support.

There you go…my favorite mama-to-be apparel must-haves! For the most part, I have stuck with solid colors so that I could mix and match and maximize my outfits. I have tried to purchase wisely and get the most bang for my buck. However, when you work out 5 days a week (or more), this means you just have to wash them more often. For laundry care, I wash all of my pieces in Gain Apple Mango Tango liquid detergent with no fabric softener. I think hang-dry all of my pieces to do my best from degrading the fabrics/materials.

I hope this helps all of the mamas-to-be out there! Happy running! …and happy SHOPPING! :)

It’s Baby Jogger Day!

8 Sep

EEEEEK!  SQUEALS OF DELIGHT!  SUPER AWESOME OVER-THE-TOP EXCITED TODAY!

I get that some of you may not quite understand how super fantastic this is for my husband and I, but let me start at the beginning.  My love affair with the Baby Jogger begins here…

This past April, I was registered for the Gulf Coast Half Marathon in Pensacola Beach,FL.  This event was held a few weeks after we found out we were expecting and I decided that I was feeling good enough to race anyway.  Well, I didn’t so much “race” as I did “run” but that is beside the point.  Either way, I finished. :)

Brent and I got there a couple of days early to enjoy the beach and pick up my things from packet pick-up.  This event was sponsored by a local running store, called Running Wild(On a side note, let me just say that I LOVE going to running stores in different cities.  I love seeing different gear, brands, and how trends vary from city to city or region to region.)  The employees at Running Wild were super helpful and I think I talked to one of the guys for literally an hour about the New Balance Minimus Trail Shoes.  But I digress…

On the way out the door, I spied the Baby Jogger in the corner.  In my many trips to what feels like a billion different running stores, I had never seen a store that actually carried running strollers.  Even though we had many months to go before Baby Key was to arrive, I couldn’t help stopping and ooohing and aaaahing over it.  The owner of the store must have picked up on my interest.  Before I knew it, he was by our side, telling us all the wonders of the Baby Jogger.  Seriously, it was love at first sight.  This is a picture of the one we saw in the store.  I mean, really…could it be any more fantastic??

Baby Jogger 25th Anniversary Performance Jogger


When we found out we were expecting, I immediately started scouring the internet and local baby stores to find THE BEST running stroller. (C’mon, does this surprise you?)  Once I laid my eyes on this one and took it for a test spin around the parking lot, I knew it was the one for me.  I love that it truly is a running stroller, not just a stroller that you can run with.  The no frills, no drag aspect of it is really appealing.  This stroller is definitely not built for a day at Disney World, but it is perfect for getting Baby Key and I out the door and on the road…marathon training together!

The owner of Running Wild went on and on about how durable the fabric was and how easy it was to care for (just get regular tune ups from a local bicycle shop!).  Oh, and did I mention that this sucker can hold a child up to 100 pounds!?  That’s a middle-schooler!  (Another side note…do not think for one second that I will be pushing a 100 pound child around.  If my kid is that big, he will be running WITH me…NOT in a stroller.)

I was sold…until I saw the price tag.  Then I frowned.  While awesome, I quickly realized that the Baby Jogger would be an investment.  With its substantial price tag (let’s just say that it cost more than our whole stroller travel system that we had picked out), I just knew we could not afford it.  Currently operating on one family income, we just knew that getting a Baby Jogger would not be feasible when we have the necessities like baby furniture, bottles, clothing, hospital bills, etc. to pay for.  Disappointed, we left the store.

I resigned myself to the fact that post-baby runs would be totally solo, without my sweet bundle of joy.  I continued to pull up the Baby Jogger website at least once a week, ogling the beauty of the Performance jogger.  (And c’mon…its even BLUE…perfect for my Future Ironman!)

Then fate stepped in.  Through an odd twist of fate and meeting the right person at the right time (though I truly feel these things are NEVER coincidence), a Baby Jogger presented itself to me!

Several months back, ultramarathoner, Paul Sibley, came to Baton Rouge to run 50 miles around the LSU Lakes to raise money for Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center.  One of his aid assistants was his sister, Wanda.  I went out to the lakes to congratulate Paul on this wonderful thing he was doing and watch him get started on his journey.  After he took off, I hung around a while and started talking to his sister.  We talked about running and children and then she casually mentioned that she used a Baby Jogger with all of her children and how great it was.  I sighed longingly and told her of my desire to have one but that it just was not a possibility for us right now.  And then she said those magical words…

“Oh, I don’t need mine anymore!  You can just have mine!”

WHAT DID SHE SAY?  HAVE IT?  Are you kidding me!?  I offered to pay her something…ANYTHING…but she insisted that she just wanted it out of her garage and into a good home.  I gladly took her up on the offer.  I have been warned that it is pretty old, needs a serious tune-up, a good cleaning, and possibly a new protective cover.  However, considering that it is free, I think I can figure all of that out.

So, today is the day we get to go pick it up!  It’s Baby Jogger Day!  Who knows, maybe it is one run away from falling apart…but hey, I appreciate Wanda’s generosity from the bottom of my heart and, if nothing else, it will at least get me and Baby Key out on the road at the beginning.

And maybe if I keep my fingers crossed and keep wishing and hoping, maybe Santa will bring Baby Key and me a NEW Baby Jogger for Christmas.  A girl can dream, can’t she?

Have YOU ever run with a running stroller?  Which brand do you have and what do you like/dislike about it?

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