Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Athletica review and giveaway.

I'm a bit of a workout gear junkie, truth be told. So, when Athletica contacted me to try out some of their workout pants I couldn't wait to do so.

New gear never fails to make me feel good. The Athletica pants were no exception. I tried the rollover waist pants and the rollover waist capris. Here's what they look like:

Of the two, the capris are my favorite but I like them both. The fit was as described: Snug through the butt and thigh, with a flare at the bottom. The material was extremely comfortable and soft with lots of give and stretch. Since I'm pregnant, the stretch is key, as is the rollover waist. The waist is very comfortable and fit nicely under my expanding belly.

I've worn the pants and the capris for walks and weight-lifting, have washed them several times and they are holding up well. I plan to add them to my running gear rotation when the weather turns cooler in the fall.


Athletica has generously offered to sponsor a giveaway of a $50 gift card to use at their web site. You can buy whatever you'd like -- maybe the rollover capris, a bra top, shorts, whatever! They have a wide range of items so I'm sure you'd be able to find something you'd like.

To enter, pop over to Athletica and leave me a comment letting me know what you might buy with your gift card.

As always, you can gain a few additional entries
(leave one comment per entry for the additional ones to count):
  • Follow this blog or my other blog, or let me know that you already do (leave a comment)
  • Link to this giveaway from your blog (leave a comment)
  • Become a fan of The Happy Runner on Facebook (leave a comment)
  • Link to this giveaway from Facebook or Twitter (leave a comment each time)
The giveaway will run through 11:59pm EST on Tuesday, July 6, 2010 and the winner will be chosen using random.org and posted on Wednesday.

Good luck!

Review/giveaway disclaimer: I received free products from Athletica . I received no other compensation and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Gold Medal Fitness by Dara Torres

"I love the excitement and rush of pushing myself to the edge. But more than anything, I love a good race. That was true when I was eight years old, and it's still true now at forty-three." -- Dara Torres in Gold Medal Fitness

I was invited to be one of the stops along the Dara Torres blog tour for her new book, Gold Medal Fitness. I was happy to do so because I was interested in the book and wanted to check it out. And, let's be honest. Dara's in her 40s. She's a mom. She's competed in five Olympic Games. And have you seen what she looks like???

"Tone your muscles . . . at any age" -- hey, sign me up!

So, last week the book arrived and I read it, paying close attention to the chapter titled "Your Inner Athlete" since that was the topic I was invited to write about.

Now, let me go on record as saying that even though I am a 40-year-old pregnant mom, I believe that my inner athlete is simply on hiatus. I'm convinced that I still have MANY years of high-quality running in me. In fact, I hope that within a year after my baby is born I will be posting some PRs in local races. Sure, I'm aging but I'm also dedicated and I have a real desire to run well.

So, it's with that perspective that I approached Dara Torres' book.

Dara writes about how she's seen some women stop playing sports after high school or college and what a bummer that is. By dropping out, these women are missing out on the positive effects that sports can have on self-esteem and general success (in school and work). She writes:
". . . it gives me pause to think of all that is lost when girls become women and stop running around playing sports and enjoying their physicality.

"This is one of the major benefits of getting in and staying in shape: The more active you are physically, the more you will feel connected to your body. You will take better care of yourself, your health will improve, and your self-esteem will increase. So even if you have lost that playground spark, it's not too late to get back out there and make physical activity fun for you."
I agree. I was involved in sports on and off during high school and college (never very seriously) and then . . . nothing. Just stopped. Sure, I worked out. I joined a gym, took some classes, lifted some weights. Big whoop. It wasn't until I started running that I started enjoying exercise. And it wasn't until I started entering races that I started feeling excited and joyous about running.

Running in races -- finding the right race, developing and following the training plan, setting a goal, attempting to achieve it -- has helped me to tap into my inner athlete. In Gold Medal Fitness, Dara Torres strives to help those who've either lost touch with that inner athlete or never thought one existed to begin with, do the same.

The chapter contains some good tips and establishing goals, tapping into your confidence and creating your own winning support team. She also talks a lot about mental strength and offers advice on how to develop it:

Mental Strength
  • Keep your focus.
  • Stick to your routine.
  • Practice.
  • Do your best.
  • Manage the pressure.
  • Develop a strategy.
  • Be efficient with your energy.
  • If you feel tired, ill, or injured, back off.
  • Create your own support team.
  • Relax and have fun.
Each of the bullets is explained more in the book.

In the rest of the book, Dara discusses strength, stretching, cardio, recovery and nourishment. She provides examples of the various exercises and some sample meal plans. Overall, I enjoyed the book and plan to incorporate some of the exercises that she lays out in her five week program into my routine. And I'll dream that when I hit 43 I'll have muscles half as toned as hers.

You can learn more about Dara at her web site: www.daratorres.com and you can purchase Gold Medal Fitness at Amazon (linked) and other major book retailers. The suggested retail price is $25.99 and it is listed at Amazon for $17.15.

Review disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book to review. I was not compensated and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Want to read more from The Happy Runner? Stop over HERE for more giveaways, reviews, and running- and parenting-related posts.  

Marathon: A Novel winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered to win the reader's copy of Marathon: A Novel by Hal Higdon. I selected the winner using random.org and it is . . .

fellow upstate NY running blogger, J at Morning Runner!

Congratulations! Send me your address and I'll send the book right out to you!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

all® Free Clear detergent + book winner

The winner of the all® Free Clear coupons + book, selected using random.org is . . .

Julie, who commented, "I am going to a baby shower next month-I will give the book to the new mom :)"

Congratulations, Julie! Send me an email at felicehalf at yahoo dot com with your address.

Thanks to everyone who entered and thanks to all® Free Clear and MomSelect for this giveaway!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Giveaway ending tonight!

The all Free Clear laundry detergent and copy of How to Have Your Second Child First ends tonight! You can enter here.

Also, the giveaway for the copy of Marathon: A Novel by Hal Higdon ends tomorrow. Here's the link to that giveaway.

Good luck!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Marathon (book) review and giveaway.

Last fall I received an advance reader's copy of Hal Higdon's new fiction book, Marathon: A Novel.

Higdon is a runner and well-known contributor to Runner's World magazine. He is also a founder of the Road Runners Clubs of America and the author of more than 30 books including Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide, Hal Higdon's Smart Running and Run Fast: How to Beat Your Best Time -- Every Time. He is a competitive masters runner, coach and lecturer. In other words, he know quite a bit about running, racing and marathons.

NOTE: This is not a training book, it is a novel that chronicles the 72 hours leading up to Lake City Marathon, a fictional "megamarathon" like Chicago or New York City. Here is a product description:
Celebrity X (more famous than Oprah) departs Rome on a private jet bound for the Lake City Marathon. Race director Peter McDonald arrives at the Expo for an interview with TV reporter Christine Ferrara, new in town. Peter and Christine find love almost immediately, but when will she learn the dark secret that clouds his life?

Thus begins the fascinating 72-hour countdown to the Lake City Marathon, a race beset by problems: Will Peter lose his sponsor and job? Will hot weather threaten the health of runners? Can he keep the identity of Celebrity X secret? And for Christine: Why is NanĂ­ the supermodel clinging to Peter’s side? The race up front pits fast Kenyans against twin brothers from Minnesota. Among the women, the sudden loss of the world record holder opens the door for a flirtry Irishwoman and an unheralded podiatrist, who has not raced since injuries cancelled her college career.

Back in the pack, NanĂ­ raises money for charity, a New York Times reporter chases Celebrity X, and once-married color commentators bicker their way through the telecast. Marathon, amazingly, is Hal Higdon’s first novel, told in the grand tradition of fact/fiction books by James Michener (Hawaii, The Source) and Arthur Hailey (Hotel, Airport). If you are a runner, veteran or newcomer, or someone who has a friend who runs, Marathon will provide details about the sport that you never knew.
Let me preface my opinion of the book by saying that I love to read about running. Just love it. Do with that information what you will.

I enjoyed this book. It was fairly long -- 400 pages -- but it was a quick read. I wanted to know what was going to happen next. I wanted to read what the elite runners were doing in the hours leading up to the race. I wanted to find out who Celebrity X was. I didn't care all that much about one of the story lines -- the potential romance between the race director (Peter MacDonald) and the reporter (Christine Ferrara) -- but it was fine. I also felt that Christine was written with a heavy hand and wasn't all that authentic. However, I was more interested in the running and race related story lines so her character, while a big part of the book, didn't bother me all that much.

What the book did do was make me want to run another marathon! We'll see if that happens . . .

To buy:

You can order a copy of Marathon from Amazon for $19.95 or go to your local library or bookstore to pick up a copy.

To win:

I am giving away my copy of the book, which I mentioned is an advance reader's copy. If you would like to win a copy of the book, simply leave me a comment and let me know whether or not you've ever run a marathon before.

You can gain an extra chance to win by linking to this post from your blog (please leave another comment to let me know you did). That's all!

The giveaway will close on Tuesday, June 22, 2010 at 11:59pm EST. One winner will be chosen using random.org and posted on Wednesday.

Good luck!

Review/giveaway disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for review. I was not compensated in any way and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Monday, June 14, 2010

all® Free Clear review and giveaway

I try to stay away from extra ingredients in products, whether those products are food, cleaning supplies or whatever. Sometimes it is easy (buying real fruit instead of fruit snacks or plain yogurt instead of flavored stuff) but sometimes it is more difficult. Cleaners often have dyes and perfumes in them that seem a little unnecessary. So, I try to avoid them.

Since having a kid, I've become more interested in using cleaning products especially that don't contain what could be irritating or harmful -- or simply extraneous -- ingredients. To that end, I've been using all® Free Clear laundry detergent for a while. I often use some other greener detergents, too, but the all® Free Clear is in my laundry room at least half the time.

So, the point is, I like the stuff. When I was asked to participate in a review and giveaway, I said yes because I know I'm already a fan. I like that all® Free Clear has no scent and I'm satisfied with how it cleans my clothes. I will say that there are some tough stains (mostly on my three-year-old's clothes) that the detergent doesn't get out. For those stains I turn to harsher detergents and stain lifters (sorry!) and usually have good luck.

Here is a little more information on all® Free Clear:

• #1 recommended by dermatologists for sensitive skin
• #1 recommended by allergists
• 100% free of perfumes, dyes or preservatives
• Hypoallergenic
• Specially formulated to minimize the potential for skin irritation
• Like regular strength all, it has its own powerful Stainlifters that fight tough dirt and stains
• Unlike many baby detergents, all® Free Clear is formulated with no perfumes, dyes or
• Washing with all® Free Clear helps remove three of the top everyday allergens, dust mite matter, cat and dog dander as well as certain fragrances

In addition to the all® Free Clear, I received a copy of How to Have Your Second Child First: 100 Things That are Good to Know . . . the First Time Around by Kerry Colburn.

Now, as a mom, I can vouch for the fact that parenting is an on the job learning experience. There were plenty of things that I bought the first time that I didn't need, and many more parenting mistakes that I made that I know I won't make with my second child. I thought my three-month-old needed a night light, for example. He didn't. It only made it hard for him to fall asleep. A week into the night light experiment and I learned. So, next time, I won't go down that road.

Colburn's book is full of practical advice, tip and timesavers from real parents. Some of it falls into the obvious category but that is probably because I learned it with my son. For first time parents, I think this book would be quite useful and helpful and less stress-inducing than some of the parenting books out there!

To buy:

You can buy all® Free Clear just about anywhere -- grocery store, Target, etc. -- and if you would like a coupon to do so, you can get some from the web site.

Colburn's book, How to Have Your Second Child First, is available at most booksellers. It has a suggested list price of $18.95 and is available on Amazon for $12.89.

To win:

You can win TWO coupons to try out all® Free Clear and a copy of the book!

To enter, just leave me a comment telling me whether you'd keep the book for yourself or give it away to someone getting ready to have their first child.

As always, you can gain a few additional entries
(leave one comment per entry for the additional ones to count):
  • Follow this blog or my other blog, or let me know that you already do (leave a comment)
  • Link to this giveaway from your blog (leave a comment)
  • Become a fan of The Happy Runner on Facebook (leave a comment)
  • Link to this giveaway from Facebook or Twitter (leave a comment each time)
The giveaway will run through 11:59pm EST on Monday, June 21, 2010 and the winner will be chosen using random.org and posted on Tuesday.

Good luck!

Review/giveaway disclaimer: I received free products from MomSelect and all® . I received no other compensation and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Friday, June 11, 2010

SofSole insoles winner!

The lucky winner of the SofSole insoles is . . .

Stacie at Impossible is Nothing.

Congratulations, Stacie! E-mail me at felicehalf at yahoo dot com with your address and I'll send them right out to you!

Thanks to the folks at SofSole for this giveaway.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

CSN Stores gift certificate winner!

The lucky winner of the $60 CSN gift certificate is . . .

Tricia at Endurance Isn't Only Physical.

Congratulations, Tricia! E-mail me at felicehalf at yahoo dot com with your address and I'll hook you up!

Thanks to the folks at CSN Stores for this giveaway.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Check out the Skin MD Natural 4th of July Backyard BBQ Giveaway

A while back, I reviewed and hosted a giveaway of Skin MD shielding lotion. Now, they are giving away a huge basket filled with Skin MD products and tons of other goodies for summer BBQs!

Here's what's included:
  • 5 Bottles Skin MD Natural SPF+15
  • 5 Bottles Skin MD Natural Original
  • 6 Red Hotdog & Fry Serving Baskets
  • 16 Piece Blue Cutlery Set
  • 4 Pack Insulated Fish Tumblers
  • 4 Pack Fish Party Spreaders
  • 6 Pack Fish Wine Charms
  • Ultimate Barbeque Cook Book
    with over 300 Recipes
  • All Natural Caribbean
    Burger Blend Seasoning
  • Hickory Wood Smoking Chips
  • Non Stick Grill Basket
  • Decorative Patriotic
    Candle Holder

You can enter to win this gift pack now through June 25th. To enter, visit the Skin MD giveaway entry page.

NOTE: To enter, please click on the above link and follow the entries rules there. You don't need to leave any comment here, unless you'd really like to :-) Thanks!

Good luck!

Disclosure: I was contacted by SkinMD to share information about this contest and received one entry in return for this post but was not compensated in any other way.

Giveaway ending tonight!

The CSN stores $60 gift certificate giveaway ends tonight, 11:59pm EST. Don't miss your chance to enter this great giveaway!

The SofSole insoles giveaway ends tomorrow so check that out, too.

Have a great day!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

SofSole review and giveaway.

I love running socks. Love them! And, yes, I have my favorite styles and brands (I even recently wrote a little about that over here). But, honestly, I just love good running socks.

So, when SofSole asked if I wanted to try out their socks there was no way I could say no.

I was sent three pairs of their Coolmax socks, which I found to be good warm weather socks. They were quite light with a nice amount of padding on the bottom. They have a little banding around the arch but I would have liked a little more. I prefer running socks with a fair amount of "grab" around the arch, or instep, and these socks were light in that area. I'm sure that is just a personal preference thing.

At any rate, the socks fit well and didn't slip around in my shoes. Overall, I was pleased with them and I'm happy to have them in my rotation.

You can find a SofSole retailer here. You can also purchase SofSole socks (and their other products) on Amazon as well. They retail there for $11.00.


In addition to the socks, I was also sent a pair of insoles but, unfortunately, I can't use them because I run with custom orthotics. So, I am giving them away!

Up for grabs is one pair of Airr Women's Performance Insoles.

From the package:

"Maximum air cushioning for high-impact activities. Heel and arch encapsulated chamber. CoolMax fabric cover. Polymer gel forefoot cushioning."

The insoles are women's size 8-11. You can read more about them here.

To enter

If you would like to be entered to win the insoles, leave me a comment and tell me you want in! If you spread the word (link from your blog, facebook, twitter, phone tree, whatever), just leave me another comment to let me know and you'll get another entry. It's that simple!

This giveaway will run from now until Thursday, June 10 at 11:59pm EST. The winner will be chosen using random.org and announced on Friday 6/11.

Good luck!

Review/giveaway disclosure: I was provided with free products to review and was not compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.