Friday, April 29, 2011

Free 10-Mile Training with Equinox

Training for the Soldier Field 10, the 10-miler that finishes on the 50-yard line at Soldier Field on Saturday, May 28? Need a little kick in the pants to get running? Having some trouble running on your own with Chicago's crazy weather swings? Equinox can help. And you don't need to be a member of the fitness club to benefit.

Equinox Fitness Clubs has created a unique training program to help those signed up for Fleet Feet Sports Soldier Field 10 Mile train properly. All you have to do is make your way to one of two Equinox locations--Lincoln Park or Highland Park--on Saturday mornings through May 21 to be a part. Sessions begin at 9 a.m., and you're asked to arrive by 8:40 a.m. so everything can start on time. Oh, and you have to bring a photo I.D. But you can leave the money at home--this program is free. Gratis, for nada, zero.

And we're not talking that you just show up for a run and that's it. Equinox's weekly sessions offer cross training through scheduled runs, access to group fitness classes (um, awesome, considering all the variety and hard-core sweating and good sore feelings I've gotten at those), training tips, and question and answer segments. Plus you can use the Equinox facilities and amenities on the day of training--hmm, I sense a little stretch session on the mats or a post-run spin. Well, maybe not for me since I don't even know if I'll be able to run--darn injury woes, again--but those who use this training can benefit from more than the free runs. That's all I'm saying--and that I'm jealous (insert smiley here).

Find these weekly training sessions here:
Photo grabbed from

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Kara Goucher's Nutrition Tips

Obsessed much with Kara Goucher? We are! We've admitted our love for this runner since before Fit-Ink existed (I couldn't wait to watch her run in Beijing and then was impressed by her third-place finish at the 2008 New York City Marathon). And you've probably read more than your fair share of Kara-related news over the years from what she's wearing at Boston to being pregnant to giving birth to son, Colt. But now we have one more. Here's some advice from this marathoner who recently clocked a personal-best at the 115th Boston Marathon, wrote a book titled Kara Goucher's Running for Women: From First Steps to Marathons (man do I want to read that for some motivation and inspiration), and was named one of the ambassadors for Dick's Sporting Goods National Running Month in May alongside Ryan Hall and Dean Karnazes. Goucher shared a few of her favorite nutrition tips--via press release--just in time for Nashville's Country Music Marathon, which is on Saturday, April 30.
  1. Fat Can Be Your Friend. The good fats, that is, like from nuts, avocados and olive oil. Healthy fats, mainly the unsaturated fats in plant foods, are a critical part of a healthy diet.
  2. Make Caffeine Work for You. Consuming caffeine before exercise can lower your perception of how hard you're working, enabling you to train harder for a longer period. About 1.3 mg of caffeine per pound of body weight is recommended.
  3. Stay Hydrated All Day. Drinking H2) is not just for when you're training. Nothing will deplete your physical and mental performance faster than dehydration. Drink at least 40 to 48 ounces of water per day.
  4. Snack, Snack, Snack. Eating a small 150- to 250-calorie snack between meals helps sustain blood sugar, keep your central nervous system working well and helps you avoid breaking down muscle to supply the needed fuel for the brain.
  5. Supplement as Needed: It's extremely difficult to get from your diet all the nutrients your body needs, especially when it comes to fruits and veggies. So sometimes a supplement can help your body get its fill of all those nutrients. My go-to? Nutrilite Double X, a really potent multivitamin that helps my body get its needed nutrients, even if I have an off day for eating.
"I love connecting with other runners and feel fortunate to be able to share what I've learned along the way about good nutrition and more," Goucher says. And we'll gladly take her advice--even if only one of the tips can help develop Kara-like abs, legs or arms.

Want to see Goucher this weekend? She'll be at the Country Music Marathon expo signing autographs at the Nutrilite booth. Or simply find copies of her book for sale. Not a bad way to score some pre-race tips without even trying, or double-checking your menu choices for the night before the race.
    Photo and information courtesy of

    Wednesday, April 27, 2011

    Mud, Sweat and Tears

    I don't even live in Colorado but I'm sad to see some of my favorite ski haunts closed for the season. It means the epic season is in the books, as final as the season snow totals from years past. It means stowing the skis and boards and other winter gear in the closet, especially if you know the chances of you making it to an open resort like A-Basin, Loveland, Squaw or Alta to name a few are next to none. But you don't have to leave the mountains for good until the 2011-12 season rolls around. Instead you could take all that fitness you acquired over the winter and funnel it into another pursuit.

    One that could fit the bill is the Tough Mudder, happening at Beaver Creek Resort on June 25 and 26. But the catch is that this event might actually be tougher than anything you'd encounter when you're on skis. And if it's not tougher, it certainly is dirtier. And scarier. And probably even more lung-busting--running in the mountains always feels so much harder than skiing, doesn't it? You can decide for yourself by reading more at

    For all its craziness--hello, sliding through mud to pass under wires, swinging on the monkey bars, sprinting through a fire-laced field?--Tough Mudder, Beaver Creek style, still sounds oddly appealing. Apparently I'm not alone in thinking this either...the race already has 3,000 or so registrants, and there's still room for more. Hmm, if I can figure out what the heck is keeping me out of commission and mend in time, I just might have to add it to my calendar. But please, don't shock me too much at obstacle 22.

    Photo courtesy of Tough Mudder.

    Run Over to Ravenswood

    Easter was last weekend. The Boston Marathon was almost two weeks ago. The Shamrock Shuffle was almost three weeks ago. Unless you're injured like me (calf, ankle, shin, tibia: I hate you) or are running a marathon this weekend, you really don't have much of an excuse to skip a run, especially when it's a 5K race. And it's in the neighborhood--Ravenswood residents don't have to travel far to race. And it's been known to produce some fast times. And it's still open for registration ($35). And it benefits the Ravenswood Community Services Food Pantry and the student health centers at Lake View and Amundsen High Schools--all of the race's proceeds go to these organizations.

    Its name? The Ravenswood Run, a 5K taking place at 8 a.m. on Sunday, May 1, in Chicago's Ravenswood neighborhood. The race starts and finishes at All Saints Episcopal Church located at 4550 N. Hermitage, basically where Hermitage meets Wilson, and has gained a reputation for being a great race for the running community. But one thing you may not have known about the Ravenswood Run--and not that it's celebrating its 15th running this year--is that it also has a charity arm. Fleet Feet Sports Chicago owner Dave Zimmer, who also helps organize the race, recognized the area as a great place to run, and hold a race. But he also saw that there was a growing need to help the local community. All of the proceeds from the race go to the three charities--Ravenswood Community Services Food Pantry and the student health centers at Lake View and Amundsen High Schools--and the race expects to raise at least $36,000 this year to help reduce hunger in the north side neighborhood. Fleet Feet is also collecting food and monetary donations before the race and on-site race morning.

    “Since the race started fifteen years ago, the number of participants has continued to grow, and our donations have also increased -- helping the pantry keep up with the demand,” says Zimmer.

    For more details about the race, or to register, check out

    Photo courtesy of Fleet Feet Sports.

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    A Triathlon Deal You Can't Refuse

    Triathletes, have you schwaggled? If you have yet to find your way to these deals for the endurance set, today's the day to get your credit card out and try, or tri, depending on how you look at it. Schwaggle is's answer to the Groupons, Living Socials and Dealfinds we find in our inbox on a daily basis. Except this time instead of finding savings on restaurants, spa services, yoga and whatever other business has decided to drum up new clientele by offering a unique deal, you can save on race entries and endurance products (I think it was just last week that Schwaggle told me I could buy Gu gels at a discount). And today's deal is one that any triathlete might want to consider: savings off race registration for Leon's World's Fastest Triathlon. Instead of paying the usual $140, you can save 40 percent and score an entry for $78. If you live in the Midwest, there aren't many triathlons that cost less than this, unless you registered months ago when the organizers offered pre-season discounts.

    Face it: triathlon is expensive. Not just the gear--yes, we know how the wallet empties after buying the wetsuit, the bike, the spare bike parts, the running shoes, the outfit options--but also the registration fees. You know how you grin and bear it when you plunk down $30 for a 5K, $45 for an 8K or $110 for a half marathon (yep, that's the cost of Chicago's Rock 'n' Roll race on August 14)? The fees are even higher for triathlons, especially when they're around Chicago--I always choose Michigan's Motor City Tri in an effort to get a race in without breaking the bank, but that's another story. Take the Life Time Fitness Chicago Triathlon ($160), the Racine and Steelhead 70.3 races ($2 ), Hy-Vee ($150), and a few others that I'm blanking on at the moment, not including Ironman's hefty $575 price tag. So if you could save a couple of bucks on a race, wouldn't you do it? I know I would.

    The other thing to take into account: Leon's triathlon is supposed to be pretty darn good. It disappeared from the race circuit for a few years, but it came back in 2010 with a flat, fast and closed (often a rarity in the sport) course that received positive reviews. It once held regional and national triathlon championships and was broadcast on ESPN. It's Indiana location isn't too far from home for those who live in Chicagoland, Indiana, and even Michigan and Ohio. It's held on June 5, perfect timing, in my opinion, weather-wise since we're usually lucky enough to have a warm but not sweltering first Sunday of June. And apparently this year, the race is going to have a Frank Lloyd Wright-styled building as the finish line--that might even be reason enough to participate right there.

    So what are you waiting for? Read more details about the race here or head straight to the $78 deal. The clock's counting down...four days to go until this deal is done.

    Photo grabbed from

    Saturday, April 23, 2011

    Fit-Pic: This is Vail's Spring?

     The view outside my window in Vail's Lionshead this morning. It's not easy to spot but there's full-blown snow falling and weather predictions are calling for 10 to 20 inches by Monday morning--and we're still supposed to dress for winter. Who said you can't have awesome powder days right before the season ends?

    Last night's scene outside Solaris in Vail Village. After a day skiing the nine inches of fresh powder, which took this season's snow totals above the 1977-78 season record (according to what I read in the Vail Daily), we could party in the Village and listen to the Shpongle DJ Set. I'm betting for a similar scene tonight when Stephen Marley performs. Ski all day, party all night!

    Friday, April 22, 2011

    Do Good With Mother Earth

    You know you don't recycle as often as you should. You're guilty of driving everywhere, even if you could walk the block and a half to the store (it's easier to stow the groceries in the trunk than have to carry them home). You toss stuff in the trash before figuring out ways to reuse it, and regret it when you realize you could have donated or re-purposed what you deemed junk. But if there's one day of the year where you want to try to reduce, reuse, recycle, it's today, Earth Day.

    Started as a grassroots movement back in 1970, it's still going strong 41 years later. You don't need to be a crunchy, granola-loving hippie, the stereotype that often correlates to Earth loving and Earth Day initiatives either. Here are 10 suggestions to show your support of Earth Day.
    1. Recycle your water bottles, sports drink bottles and energy drink cans.
    2. Keep your car in the garage and commute by bike, foot or public transportation. With gas prices soaring over $4 per gallon in some areas, it's almost painful to use the car regardless of what day it is.
    3. Find an Earth Day-themed running event. Even Easter weekend isn't going to stop race organizers from holding a 5K, 8K or 10K on Saturday morning. Chicago has the 5K for Earth Day, Boulder has the Earth Day 5K (but that's on May 1), the Cayman Islands has the Earth Day 5K, and Carlsbad, Calif. has the Earth Day 10K.
    4. Donate your old running shoes to an organization like Share Your Soles, which gives the shoes to those who need them. Or Nike takes old running shoes, grinds the soles and turns them into running tracks. You often can find drop boxes at your local running store. 
    5. Try reusing your old footwear for something else. Check out this article for some ideas on new uses for old footwear, especially flip flops.
    6. Instead of tossing that worn yoga mat in the trash, try cutting it up and reusing it around the house. Need some ideas? Read these 50 courtesy of Gaiam.
    7. Visit one of our country's national parks. You won't have to pay a fee to enter Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion, Rocky Mountain, and more than 100 more during National Park Week. This deal's good through April 24, with more freebies on select days of the year.
    8. "Like" an Earth-friendly organization on Facebook. As part of their Earth Day initiative, Horny Toad will donate $1 to Heal the Bay for each new Facebook fan they get between April 21 and June 21.
    9. Ski an eco-friendly ski resort. Sure, there are only a handful of resorts still open for the season, but snow in the forecast means one last chance to take some turns before you have to wait until November. According to the Ski Area Citizens Coalition, Squaw Valley gets top props for 2010.
    10. Trade those plastic bottles for reusable ones from companies like Sigg, CamelBak and Nalgene. Wasn't Brian Williams just on a PSA sharing facts with the number of years it takes for a plastic bottle to decompose in a landfill?
     How are you staying active and showing your appreciation for Mother Earth?

    Photo grabbed from DonkeyHotey at flickr.

    From Boston to Colorado, With Love

    It doesn't get much better than this. Spring skiing in late April, with fresh snow blanketing the mountain. I've had quite the week, running then walking the Boston Marathon on Monday, hobbling around on Tuesday and Wednesday wondering what activities I might actually be able to do, catching a flight to Colorado on Thursday to spend Easter Weekend skiing at Vail, waking up Friday morning to nine inches of snow. I repeat, it doesn't get much better than this, unless I had pictures to prove it. But that's what the afternoon is for...I'm about to grab my ski gear and go explore. Normally I wouldn't be broadcasting that today is my birthday, but gosh darn it, I want my Epic pin for skiing on my birthday--and maybe even an Earth Day one. I'll take that powder too, I don't think I was blessed with this much snow when I was here in March. Before I can post pictures, check these out fresh from Vail's Facebook page. If you're a skier, you'll wish you were here, too.

    How are you staying active on Earth Day?

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    Ski Tips You Can Take Running

    It starts in early March, right around the time the weather around here usually shows us a peek of the warmer temps to come. Ski or run? Run or ski? My body wants both, I love both, but I have to choose one, often at the detriment of the other. Lately I've leaned more toward the skiing, saving the running for the rest of the year--there's plenty of time to hit the path as I wait for the next ski season to roll around.

    Turns out that all that fitness I worked on all winter pays off on the run--and not just in the speed department. I might be forced to learn those lessons the hard way--just take Monday's race, er mission, to the Boston Marathon finish line--but at least I know I've found a way to apply skiing to running. Want to know what I'm talking about? Check out my latest Top 5 list at, showcasing ski skills that translate to running.

    There's one more to add to the list that's more personal preference than research-based. And it's one tip that I'm hoping will work in my favor in a few days when I squeeze in a few more days to my 'endless winter' ski season. As much as we might hate squeezing our feet into ski boots, they work wonders on ankle issues encountered on the run. My body, especially my legs, are starting to hate running's constant pavement pounding. Last year, a week in my ski boots helped ease the tension on my Achilles, a pulling that couldn't be saved by physical therapy homework, stretching or yoga (I'd still feel it). This year, same thing, the boots eased all the tired muscles from my most likely overworked legs. The twinge in the heel? Gone. The sore arch that sounds the start of plantar fasciitis? Gone. I'm hoping the walking cast-like capabilities work again this time around.

    Monday, April 18, 2011

    Top 10 Boston Marathon Memories from 2011

    Even when you spend far more time on the race course than you intend, plan and hope for, the Boston Marathon always seems to go by in a blur. Once your bus pulls into the parking lot at Hopkinton, it's like a ticking bomb counting down ever so quickly until the start gun goes off. While my race may have been a disaster (stay tuned for the race report on this one--hopefully tomorrow), I still managed to enjoy the sights and scenes on my way into Boston and across the finish line. Meanwhile, many others had awesome races, especially from the rumblings I heard about the elites before I had a chance to check the results. During the day I was curious about how the elite race panned out, and now that it's over I'm wishing my hotel room had Universal Sports so I could re-watch the race when it comes back on at midnight. But until I can actually watch that coverage, I'm working off this list of my top 10 memories from the 2011 Boston Marathon:

    1. Desiree Davila finishing second by two seconds, PR'ing and becoming ridiculously close to being the first American woman to win Boston since Lisa Rainsberger in 1985 (2:22:38)
    2. Kara Goucher's first marathon back after baby and she PR'd, besting her time from the 2008 NYC marathon (2:24:52)
    3. Ryan Hall besting his own American record and finishing fourth in 2:04:58.
    4. Joan Benoit Samuelson's age group win in 2:51:29. She still has it at 53, even if she doubted her ability to finish under 3 hours this time around.
    5. Seeing the Pesky Pole Marathoner on the course--I knew he existed from Flickr pictures, but can't remember if I've actually seen him on the course.
    6. The costumed on-course entertainment. A guy ran nearly in the buff, only wearing a tiny loin cloth, some cloth wrapped around his bicep and a long black wig (I wish I had my camera with me for that one). The very convincing guy dressed as a girl cheering the runners from the sidelines--he even caught a photographer's attention as I saw him in this slideshow. The two guys dressed in suits and running--one only had the tie and jacket, but the other even donned the pants.
    7. The number of Nike shoes I kept spotting. There were Lunaracers, original LunarGlides (this woman's looked so clean compared to my first pair, which are too worn out to use for running), LunarGlides 2+, Frees, Pegasus 27+.
    8. The number of charity runners. So many singlets and T-shirts for Dana-Farber, Children's Hospital, Griffin's Friends, Bailey's Team for Autism, the Boston College bookstore, and countless others that I read as I ran but can't remember now.
    9. The screaming girls of Wellesley. I knew they were loud but they seemed even louder than before--and I couldn't block them out as well as I usually do, I think a result of my iPod dying as I passed the campus.
    10. The epic fail of my own race 55 minutes in. More on that in another entry.

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    What Goes Through Your Mind the Night Before a Marathon

    Tomorrow marks my fourth start at the Boston Marathon. Hopefully it ends with my fourth finish, but honestly, one can never be too sure, especially under the conditions I faced in the last few weeks--all winter if I'm being completely truthful with myself. Too much skiing over running: good but maybe not the best use of my leg muscles with 26.2 miles within sight. Feeling more in shape a month ago than I do right now: a result of February boot camp, quality workouts (even if they were on skis) and all that skiing. A cold that crept into my system almost a week ago and completely sidelined me--when my workouts come to a halt because I can't drag myself out of bed, you know something is wrong. A soreness in my left leg, my trouble leg as I like to call it thanks to shin splints and knots and an overused calf muscle, that randomly appeared nearly two weeks ago and has worried me to the point of spending hours online looking up tendinitis, stress fractures, tenderness, massage techniques and more. I sound like a walking nightmare, don't I?

    So why am I still running? I wonder that myself sometimes. But the problem is you don't know if you're feeling these things because you're nervous about the race--remember Liz's seven days of taper trauma--or if you really are down and out. The other issue is that everyone who knows you're running thinks you can do it and still boosts your spirits, says you're in shape so you know you can finish, and assures you that the race will be fine. And then you walk over to Boylston Street, see that finish line that you're supposed to be crossing in less than 24 hours (likely pose to take a picture, too), feel all the energy that arises among all those other runners, talk to complete strangers about the sport--it makes you want to run even more. Oh, it probably doesn't hurt to have my parents among the crowd, especially since my husband had to stay home, and knowing that they're going to be cheering just before the Newton hills and again in that final stretch. Hopefully I won't let anyone down, including myself. I'll just have to put on that determined face, that look we know so well from watching elites like Ryan Hall and Kara Goucher, when they're trying to maintain, or take, a lead. And oh how I want to sport that signature adidas Boston Marathon jacket, yellow long-sleeve shirt, and medal around my neck tomorrow afternoon.

    Good luck to all the runners out there tomorrow! If I wasn't running, I'd be tracking you in addition to some leader favorites like Hall and Goucher, plus Desiree Davila and Joan Benoit Samuelson. Yes, I was excited when I heard they were all running, to share the course with these famous fast feet. But if I don't get to sleep soon, or at least try harder to sleep, I'm going to be even farther from fast--my kinda fast--in the morning. Like the title of a George Clooney film, good night and good luck!

    Update: We're Gonna Run This Town

    Just received some awesome news for all you runners, or non-running charity-minded people, out there. As if the adidas adiZero Charity Challenge wasn't good enough before, they're upping the ante as we speak. For every mile logged from 8 a.m. today, Sunday, April 17, until 7:59 a.m. tomorrow morning, April 18, even more money will be donated to charity. Run your mile from 8 a.m. to midnight and $10 will go into the pot that adidas is donating to three charities, Boston Public Schools, Fund For Boston Neighborhoods and AKTIV against cancer. Run your mile from midnight to 7:59 a.m. and $20 will be donated in your name. Those are pretty good stakes!

    Check before heading out to run at midnight tonight though...according to earlier information I had the challenge was supposed to end at 11:59 p.m. tonight, before we actually roll into Marathon Monday. Or rather than be wary, just head over to those three adidas stations--Hynes Convention Center, City Hall Plaza and Fanueil Hall--and run your mile for charity now, add one mile and you'll get that $20 without having to run in the middle of the night.

    Signing out for now--gotta go check out the Boston finish line!

    Saturday, April 16, 2011

    Fit-Pic: 2011 Boston Marathon Expo Packet Pick-Up

    There's something about the Boston Marathon that makes me want to take out my camera and start snapping pictures. Maybe it's because it's usually my first major race of the year. Maybe it's because it still feels so new even though this year marks my fourth Boston. Maybe it's because it's so tough to get in--and with the new time standards coming our way, plus the 2012 registration procedure, I'm not so sure I'll be able to return any time soon.

    Never the less, I was a little snap-happy on my tour through Hynes Convention Center yesterday when I went to pick-up my race packet, bag and stroll the expo. It's funny how the same procedure--waiting in line to walk into the number pick-up area, find your number, hand over your confirmation ticket and receive your number--doesn't change from year to year, yet I love like a first-timer every time. Take a look...

    Find the range of your assigned race number on the wall, hand over your paperwork and ID, and receive your bib, which also doubles as this year's timing chip.

    Proceed down the hallway to the volunteers handing out the event bags--the bag you stuff your gear into on race day--which contain the official race shirt, an event program and other treats.

    Now that you've got your bib and bag, you enter the expo and face the adidas store, full of all the official race apparel and accessories like the got-to-have Boston jacket.

    Now I wish I had been so lucky as to meet Dick and Rick Hoyt and not the cut-out version (I did get to meet Dick last year), but this iconic image greeted me when I found the bleachers placed in front of the TV airing Boston footage.

    Want to know more about that race you're running? You had to check out this memory wall with facts, pictures and memorabilia dating all the way back to the first Boston Marathon in 1897.

    We're Gonna Run This Town

    Who said anything about needing to be registered to run the 115th Boston Marathon to have fun in Beantown this weekend? Whether you're running, you're cheering or you just happen to be in Boston, you can partake in some of the marathon fun--and use your feet for a charity challenge. With all due respect, Boston has marathon fever this time of year and adidas is taking that energy and running with it.

    To celebrate the race, they're hosting the adiZero Charity Challenge, a round-the-clock treadmill challenge at three spots around the city. Visit one or visit all three, each mile you run or walk gets tallied into the system and adidas will make a $2 donation for each of those miles to Boston Public Schools, Fund For Boston Neighborhoods and AKTIV against cancer. You'll find these treadmills at Fanueil Hall, City Hall Plaza, and Hynes Convention Center--you can't miss it if you're there to browse the marathon expo. You don't even need to have your running shoes with you as you can always trial a pair of adidas to mark your miles.

    The more miles you run, the more you can give and get back: The first 26 people who run a mile at all three locations will receive a pair of adiZero footwear. And according to this flyer, high school students are encouraged to come out and run with nine of their friends to then get a $500 donation to the charity of their choice.

    But the clock is counting down. This challenge kicked off at 7 a.m. Friday morning, and you have until 11:59 p.m. Sunday night to run those miles. Perfect for any marathoners looking for a short shake-out before the big dance. Or if you need to run longer, stop by to grab a "Boston With Love" map that features three city touring runs and take a warm-up lap on the treadmill to start.

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    Running Excellence Happens

    You've scored the elusive qualifying time. You've put in the training miles. You've slogged through the cold winter hours to get in those runs. You've tried to rest, eat well and maybe even pamper yourself a bit in this final week leading up to the Boston Marathon. New Balance, headquartered in Boston, wants to celebrate those accomplishments at its home base's race and wants this weekend to be excellent. For marketers, it's a new marketing campaign titled "Let's Make Excellent Happen." For runners, it's the chance to run excellent come Monday, whether it be making it to the finish line, enjoying all the aspects of the race, improving upon a PR or beating those Newton Hills. Those are my thoughts on excellence anyways.

    Some of those taglines you might catch include "Excellent is Made in Boston," "Excellent Loves Heartbreak," "Excellent Makes Molehills Out of Newton Hills," and "Excellent Screams Through Wellesley." If you've run Boston before, you know exactly what it means to hit these points of the course and either achieve excellence through them, or die trying. Well, not exactly die, but you catch my drift.

    According to a press release, the idea behind this excellent theme is to inspire and motivate runners while showing runners that New Balance is there to support them. It doesn't stop with T-shirts at the expo displaying these excellent taglines though. There's way more that goes along with the "Let's Make Excellent Happen" theme and during the course of marathon weekend.
    • "Let's Make Excellent Happen" includes imagery from the new New Balance 890, a lightest-in-class neutral running shoe, plus Boston landmarks like the Charles River, Fenway Park and the Zakim Bridge.
    • You'll spot New Balance decking the city with media on the T, buses and bus shelters, light pole banners, T-station stairwells, barricades and the Copley ticket booth.
    • Want some last-minute running tips? Check out, which offers race and spectator tips for the weekend and allows visitors to leave suggestions.
    • If you thought winter was rough in your hometown, check out the "Trained Tough?" section where you can enter your zip code to find out how difficult your training was from a weather perspective as compared to other registered runners. I definitely need to see how easy my Palo Alto cousin had his training as compared to Chicago me, where my runs seemed to be curtailed by snow or cold far too many times.
    • The new 890 high performance running shoe is available in a Boston edition (retails for $100), where Boston is screened onto the outside ankle area. These limited editions are available for a limited time at Boston-based retailers like Marathon Sports, City Sports, The Tannery, NB Burlington, NB Dedhm Legacy Place, MB Mashpee, Runner's Alley, New England Running Company and Sound Runner.
    • Make your running form excellent all weekend at New Balance's expo booth where, in addition to marveling at the fall 2011 line, you can try the Good Form Running experience. Booth visitors receive a diagnosis of their running form and takeaway about how to improve. The premise behind Good Form Running, founded by Curt Munson who owns Playmakers in Okemos, Mich., is that runners are taught how to run with proper mechanics, which help with speed, efficiency and keeping them injury-free.
    • Your Boston hotel, go-to restaurants or transportation (Old Town Trolley) might be partnered with New Balance. It's another way for New Balance to reach out, but I have to admit that I'm not exactly sure what to expect from it.
    Photo grabbed from

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    More Finds at the Boston Marathon Expo

    Who's ready to do more than pick up their packet when they arrive in Beantown this weekend for the 115th Boston Marathon? Me! As I mentioned earlier, I'm trying to whisk those thoughts of "Am I going to finish?" and "How much are those hills going to hurt?" out of my mind by focusing on one of the race weekend's events that I love: shopping the expo.

    Now I'm not a shopper by any means--I usually browse online more than anything--but there's something about this marathon expo that gets me excited to stroll the aisles and make some purchases. It's like a runner's Christmas between the gear stamped with the BAA insignia, Boston-specific items, new releases I've eyed online, and runner celebrity sightings. But I didn't get to finish my list when I first started sharing details yesterday. Whether you're going to Boston to run Monday's race or you're just along for the ride (and moral support), you'll want to add these brands to your bunch to check out:

    ASICS. Head over to this booth at noon on Saturday to meet Ryan Hall, who'll be signing autographs. But plan to arrive early--I remember a line stretching around the expo space when he was there in 2008. And if you're in the market for gear, you'll find the ASICS spring collection, some Boston printed shirts and plenty of footwear. I have my eyes out for the Noosa shoe, meant for the Australian triathlon market originally and now making its stateside debut.

    Saucony. While some runners are hooked on the Kinvaras (I have friends raving about them), Saucony will also be displaying its even lighter weighted Hattori shoe from its minimalist collection. Or if you're on the look-out for something that shouts Boston, check out the event specific tees they created for this year too.

    Need a new watch that does it all--track your heart-rate, calorie count, mileage and pace? Check out the booths for Garmin, Polar and Timex, all of whom have a collection of devices to help you maximize performance, improve fitness and track all the stats from your run. I can pore over these for hours, especially Polar's fitness models that I've eyed for all of my gym workouts that I think are more detrimental than beneficial.

    A few more stops on my list include New Balance, Runner's World, and tracking down Josh Cox over the weekend. New Balance is amping up the excellence this weekend (more to come on that), Runner's World is hosting everything from shake-out runs to seminars (check their Boston site or Bart Yasso's tweets for more details), and Josh Cox shared via Facebook that he'll be leading a nutrition seminar on Saturday and Sunday with Powerbar among other things. And stay tuned for more info from Adidas and New Balance, plus a Kara Goucher sighting at Niketown on Saturday. At least if I'm more nervous than excited for the race, I can get excited about the events surrounding it.

    Photo grabbed from

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    What You'll Find at the Boston Marathon Expo

    Who's getting excited, nervous, scared and psyched for Marathon Monday at the 115th Boston Marathon? I know I've been feeling of all of the above, plus add doubt, frustration and worry. If I was more honest about sharing everything that happens with me over the course of winter and early spring marathon season, you'd know why. But that's another story in itself. Instead, I'm trying to whisk those thoughts of "Am I going to finish?" and "How much are those hills going to hurt?" out of my mind by focusing on one of the race weekend's events that I love: shopping the expo.

    Now I'm not a shopper by any means--I usually browse online more than anything--but there's something about this marathon expo that gets me excited to stroll the aisles and make some purchases. It's like a runner's Christmas between the gear stamped with the BAA insignia, Boston-specific items, new releases I've only spotted online until now, and runner celebrity sightings. If you're going to Boston this weekend, consider checking out these booths:

    Adidas. It's hard to miss this one--I think I've entered the expo right by the Adidas space every time I've gone to Boston--and it's hard not to pass up some of the official Boston gear. Who doesn't want a jacket to sport around town all weekend? Or how about a new running outfit emblazoned with the BAA symbol and those famous three stripes? It's going to be hard to keep the Supernova convertible jacket from making it into my arms--same with the short tights and track jacket.

    . I have a feeling I'm going to be making a stop at Brooks' BRASH booth, a fun take on the TV show MASH. But not for remembering Vietnam or the TV show that my dad just had to watch when I was a kid, but to take advantage of the BRASH perks: gait analysis and doctors on-site to answer runners questions. And if you're thinking the 60-degree forecast is sounding a little warm for what you've packed for race day, consider the Versatile EZ Racerback (women's) or the Versatile Sleeveless (men's), especially if you're a blue fan like me.

    Nike. I'm never disappointed when I visit their space at an expo--I always find something to drool over from T-shirts to shoes to pace bracelets. And from the looks of what you can purchase in their online store, I know I'm not going to be disappointed. I can't decide between being a "Heart Breakah" or a "Wicked Fast Runnah."

    Stay tuned for more happenings at the expo, there's more to come, including news about Ryan Hall and Kara Goucher, two Fit-Ink favorites.

    Photo grabbed from

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Hakuna Tabata

    When it comes to workouts, I'll try just about anything. I might be awful at it--and trip over my own two feet--but I'll stumble through whatever is new and exciting at the gym. If it's a workout that burns calories fast and leaves me sweating buckets, then count me in immediately. Tabata is just one of those workouts, something I was introduced to at Equinox Fitness Clubs and wish that I had a membership so I could return again and again and again.

    Why? I was exhausted, sore and soaked. And I left feeling like my muscles got more of a workout in 20 minutes than they had in days--felt it even more the next day when my legs and abs ached. That means Tabata did its job--high intensity training performed for a short amount of time but with maximum repetitions. It only takes four minutes to exercise a muscle group, and the moves, equipment used (if any) and muscles worked change constantly. I explain it all at where you'll find all the details on this four-minute workout.

    Photo grabbed from

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    The Sun, The Sweat and The 2011 Shamrock Shuffle

    Runners head to their start corrals.
    Funny how two years ago, I had to label the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle the snow shuffle. In 2009, it snowed, it slushed, it was cold, it was wet. In 2010, race day saw a near-repeat performance from what I remember--but keep in mind that I was out in the suburbs running a half, having to choose between running a new race and running with routine. What a difference a year--or two--makes. With a later start date in 2011 than years past, the Shamrock Shuffle stomped across Chicago to sunshine and sweat, where the only layer you needed was a light one to battle the breezes.

    This 8K is known as a rite of spring and kick-off to the Chicago running season. But this year it may have felt more like the start to summer--and an easy way to finish up your workout early to enjoy the unseasonable temperatures. Unless you were injured or never signed up in the first place, you really didn't have an excuse to miss out.  Here are eight highlights from the morning, one for each kilometer of the race:
    • Simon Bairu won the men's race in 23:38, followed by locals Lukas Verzbicas in 23:55 and Kyle Brady in 24:07.
    • Amy Yoder Begley won the women's race in 26:50, followed by Jean Marinangeli in 28:11 and Erin Moeller in 28:23.
    • The race filled when 40,000 registered to run weeks ago and it saw a record 32,427 finishers.
    • It took some runners more than 35 minutes to cross the start line--that means several runners were finished before others even started. Crazy!
    • The Chicago Police Department was out in full force with a nearly 400-member team running in memory of those who lost their lives in the line of duty. You didn't have to be a CPD employee to be a part either--Chicago's media running team showed their support by running with the team, too.
    • Runners showed their Shamrock spirit, sporting green, costumes, spandex suits, old Shamrock Shuffle tees and awesome shamrock-speckled socks.
      Check out those green costumes.
    • The course follows some of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon course, a race that will be held nearly six months from the start of the Shamrock Shuffle.
    • The race saw abnormally warm temperatures, so warm that the event alert system went into affect and said race-day conditions would be caution yellow instead of ideal green. But really, it was no different than running on the Lakefront in July.
    So Chicago...were you one of the 32,000-plus runners out there today? Check your results by clicking here. Whether it was the start to an even more active day or the only exercise you did all weekend, hopefully you're not sore tomorrow. That goes for the two runners at my house, too.

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    Walk To It

    I think the fitness gods are trying to tell me something about walking, beyond the fact that it's good exercise and simple to do. FITNESS magazine reminded me that April 6 is National Start! Walking Day, an initiative from the American Heart Association to get Americans to walk at least 30 minutes a day. And Weight Watchers is kicking off an exciting program this week called the Walk-It Challenge. Both cool challenges in my book, especially considering going for a walk is one of the easiest exercises that doesn't even feel like exercise unless it's the middle of a sun scorching summer day, you're sweating up a storm and not feeling any heat relief from a cool breeze.

    I'd still go for a walk in conditions like that. In fact I did when I broke my collarbone and couldn't run, but I still wanted to enjoy a summer day (and burn enough calories to constitute my reason for walking in the first place--to get frozen custard). That's more of a specialized case for taking a walk though, and not one Weight Watchers probably would want me to endorse for its Walk-It Challenge. But here are a few reasons WW suggests you start walking now, rather than later.
    • Their third annual Walk-It Challenge kicks off this month with a culminating event on Walk-It Day, Sunday, May 22. 
    • The Walk-It Challenge encourages people to incorporate physical activity into their weight loss goals along with healthier eating habits, which can help the pounds melt off faster.
    • If you're a Weight Watchers member or online subscriber, you'll have access to a six-week training plan to help you go from zero miles up to the 5K distance that you can walk--or even run--on May 22. 
    • Weight Watchers promotes physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle, which follows the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans that advise us to increase physical activity and reduce calorie consumption.
    • In conjunction with this year's Walk-It Challenge, Weight Watchers will make a $100,000 donation to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to support the Healthy Schools Program. This program helps students and teachers lead healthier lives through more physical activity and smarter school nutrition.
    • On May 22, you can find 50 different Weight Watchers 5K walks to participate in through RRCA clubs around the country.
    Ready to get started? The six-week countdown starts now and you can go here for more tips to prepare.

    Photo grabbed from o5com at flickr.

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    Add This To Your Bucket List (If You're a Skier)

    If I wasn't going to be heading to Boston in less than two weeks to stumble my way through the 115th Boston Marathon, I'd be plotting a return trip to Colorado. Not only can I not get enough of the state for its skiing, but the snow reports practically stab me in the heart when I see them in my newsfeed. If those weren't enough reason to hit up the slopes, Breckenridge has an event next weekend that's calling to the triathlete daredevil in me. It's name? The Imperial Challenge. You can read more about by reading my post at

    The only problem is I'm not so sure I'd survive--the Chicago in me is one disadvantage. The others are my complete lack of experience with skinning and dislike for carrying my skis when hiking uphill (and that's just making it into Catherine's Area at Alta, tiny in comparison). But I can dream, right?

    Photo grabbed from

    Sunday, April 3, 2011

    Kiss Her Tiara

    With more than 700 inches falling at Squaw Valley USA this winter, and most of it coming in the last few weeks, chances are you want to be on the mountain skiing this weekend. Unless you're not a skiing or snowboarder, it's pretty hard to pass up. But if the sun's out, you're not up for taking your boards to the slopes (and maybe never will be), or you need a break from hitting it hard on those downhills, High Camp is hosting a must-do event on Saturday, April 9. I know I'd be there if I could magically transport myself to Lake Tahoe for 24 hours--that might require a private jet though, and that I don't have.

    Think Spring Break beach party except you're surrounded by snow and you're in the company of Olympian Julia Mancuso. The Swimming Lagoon & Spa at High Camp is hosting the Kiss My Tiara pool party from 1 to 4 p.m. with the guest of honor being Mancuso. She did, afterall, name her lingerie line "Kiss My Tiara." At the event, DJ Tracy Too Dread will be playing music, Mancuso will be signing posters from 2 to 3 p.m., and you can grab a special drink for $5. But if you do go dipping in the lagoon, make sure you keep your ski gear nearby--or don't leave home without it. You can close down the mountain by skiing with Julia at 3:30 p.m. A group will collect at that time to ski down Mountain Run to the Squaw base where there's another party and live music from Donovan Franenreiter on the KT-Sundeck.

    Would you want to miss meeting an Olympian? Probably not. But if you can't join in Saturday's fun, there's still another chance to catch this skier who's back from a winter of racing abroad, fresh off the World Cup season and some wins at the U.S. Alpine Championships. On Sunday, April 10, at 11 a.m., you can meet Mancuso at the top of the Funitel and take a few laps with her around the mountain. I had the chance to do this with Jonny Moseley in January and it was priceless.

    For more details about the weekend ahead at Squaw, click here. And also note that the resort recently announced that it would be extending its season to May 30. With news like that I think I might have to plan back out. Skiing in May? Crazy for this Midwesterner who's used to the resorts closing in March at best.


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