Friday, July 30, 2010

Somnio follow up and giveaway.

Remember these bad boys?


If you don't, please refresh your memory: I wrote my review earlier this month here. Or, I guess I could just cut to the chase and tell you that I loved them. My Somnios. Oh, lovely, cushy, comfy Somnios.

I love them so much that I've left my beloved Brooks in the closet. And as weird as that feels after over 8 years with them, I couldn't be happier. With my new Somnios (the women's Self Control), my feet no longer hurt while running. This is huge, people. You see, I'm a runner with wonky feet. Well, wonky toes actually. Specifically, my big toes. For my troubles, I went to a Magic Foot Doctor last year who:
". . . examined my feet. 'You have bunions,' he said. I agreed. 'And it looks like you have only about 10 percent mobility in the right toe.' Hmm... 'And some bone spurs.' Double hmm... 'Maybe a little plantar fasciitis.' Triple hmm... 'And what we sometimes call a bunionette on the fifth metatarsal.' OK, really, this is enough . . ."
He recommended orthotics and surgery. I've had the orthotics for about a year and I've put off the surgery until who knows when. Alas, while the orthotics were great for a bit and have certainly helped to do away with any lingering hip/knee pain caused by my gimpy toes, they did nothing for my toes.

So, that's the background on my toes. They hurt when I run. Period.

Enter Somnio.

I was sent my custom pair for review. Ran in them. Liked them a lot. Wrote about them. Done.

Then I kept running in them and noticed that my toes weren't hurting during and after my runs. Unusual. Now, in case you were wondering, I do not wear my orthotics in my Somnios, so it isn't the combination of the shoes and the orthotics that are helping me out, it is only the shoes. Because I've seen such a remarkable change in how my feet feel while running, I've become a full-blown Somnio convert.

This is great for me and potentially great for you, too. Why? Well, Somnio has agreed to give one reader a chance to try out their running shoes as well. Yep, one of you will win your very own pair of custom running shoes from Somnio!

To enter:

I think this is a super-cool giveaway. I mean, we're talking custom running shoes! So . . . since this is such a generous one, it is open only to followers. Thus, to enter to win your pair of Somnios, you must be a follower. Then leave me a comment telling me that you want to win! Feel free to leave stories of why you want to win, if you'd like!

Additional entries:

As always, you can gain a few additional entries (leave one comment per entry for the additional ones to count):
  • Follow 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, or let me know that you already are (leave a comment)
  • Become a fan of Somnio on Facebook (leave a comment)
  • Link to this giveaway from Facebook or Twitter (do as often as you'd like, just leave a comment each time)
The giveaway will run through 11:59pm EST on Monday, August 9, 2010 and the winner will be chosen using random.org and posted on Tuesday.

Good luck!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fitness achievements.

This is sponsored content from BlogHer and Crystal Light Pure Fitness.

Ah, achievements.

By the time you hit 40, it makes sense that you would have an achievement or two to be proud of. And indeed I do. I'm proud of the family I've helped create, some of the work I've done, the friendships I've forged. I'm also proud of several fitness-related achievements and, this week, I hope you'll indulge me as I explain.

When I was first asked to write about my proudest fitness achievement I thought, "That's easy. My marathon. I'm proudest of training for and successfully running a marathon. I worked hard for months: Created my own plan, logged many solo long runs, pushed through doubts and did it. Yep, my marathon." And, you know, I am proud of that. But, proudest? Is that my proudest fitness achievement? Hmm . . . maybe.

Finishing the MHR marathon -- I even beat my goal time!

Or, maybe it is that second race I ran way, way back in the 1990s. See, I had run a cruddy, painful, thought-I-would-pass-out-or-vomit-or-both race in July of 1994 (I believe). Oh, it was terrible. I was under-trained and over-confident. And it was hot. I ran hard and burned out and just had the worst race ever. I crossed the finish line and thought, "Never again." A few minutes later, after refueling and calming down and realizing that I wasn't going to die I thought, "I need to do better. When's the next race?"

I found another race a few months later and I actually prepared for it. I ran well, in comparison to that first race, and it showed me that I could perform if I prepared. I am quite proud of not giving up after that first terrible race.

But, again, not sure if that is my proudest fitness achievement. I mean, I also gave up running on and off over the years before committing to it again in 2000. So maybe I'm proudest of that: Re-committing to running.

Well . . . perhaps. But, I'm proud of that sub-23 minute 5K I ran and I'm also proud of that very first 2 mile run/walk that I went on after not running for 10 months while pregnant with my first son. And there's the fact that I trained a group of new runners to run their first 5K this spring and the other fact that I'm still running at 29 weeks pregnant. I'm proud of those things to!

The new runners after their first 5K (plus me, and a few others who've run several races)

Ah, achievements.

My proudest fitness achievement. Well, hmm . . . I can see where I'm going with this (which is a good thing, considering I'm the writer here). When I look at my fitness achievements, the one I am most proud of, my true honest-to-goodness proudest fitness achievement is being a RUNNER.

I might not have been. I might have given up so, so many times. I might not have signed up for that first race, that second race, gone on that long run, endured that speed-work. But I did and I have stuck with it and I have enjoyed the miles I have run. They haven't all been easy and, in fact, many of the miles have been tough. But I've run them and I am proud of that. Proud that I have lived up to being a runner.

My proudest fitness achievement is being a runner.

Run on!

By now, you know that my Monday posts are part of my month-long series for Crystal Light: Pure Fitness (the samples of which, by the way, I really did enjoy). So, this week, the question for you is: What is your proudest fitness achievement? Tell me! Don't be shy!

Every comment left on this post is an entry for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card at the end of the month (comments from all posts will be combined; you can leave comments on more than one -- or all! -- post to receive multiple entries).

While you're at it, check out the other bloggers that are writing about Crystal Light: Pure Fitness for three other chances to win $100 as well as a $1,000 sweepstakes by visiting the BlogHer.com Crystal Light: Pure Fitness exclusive offers page.

Learn more about Crystal Light: Pure Fitness here and read the official rules here. Good luck!



Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shamrock Farms Rockin' Refuel review.

First things first: I am not a milk drinker. Don't think I ever have been. There's just something about it that I don't go for. I can't exactly put my finger on it, but I know it.

And yet, with all the talk recently about how chocolate milk is this super-duper recovery drink I've sometimes wondered if maybe I was missing out. Could I recover better from my runs if I would just get over my distaste for milk? And what about the whole chocolate thing? Who doesn't like chocolate?

OK, plenty of people don't like chocolate but I'm not one of them. I go for the stuff. The darker the better. But that's not the point. I'm here to talk about chocolate milk. Specifically, Shamrock Farms Rockin' Refuel, a chocolate milk recovery drink.

I was sent two bottles to try out and I admit that I was quite curious about the stuff. If you've read The Happy Runner for any length of time you may recall that I've had bouts of post-run migraines, especially when running a hard workout in the summer. I have some convoluted post-run routines to help stave off the migraines and they've mostly worked. But, they also involve coffee, water, almonds, dried cranberries . . . all in the perfect amounts.

So, this Rockin' Refuel. Maybe consuming one recovery drink would be easier than my routine.

And, for sure, it is. Just opening a bottle is certainly easier than measuring out almonds and all that. But, for me, there's still the whole milk issue. And I've got to be honest: I couldn't get over how I feel about milk to take that first sip. I thought I would be able to! Such mental issues . . .

I had agreed to do a review, though, so I didn't give up that easily. Instead, I improvised and poured the bottle of Rockin' Refuel into my blender, along with some ice and whipped up a quasi-shake.

It was delish! Seriously, I wonder why I haven't blended up post-run shakes before. What a smart idea. I may have to make it a habit. It was cool and filling (should be at 300 calories) and I wasn't craving something else to eat a half hour later, like I sometimes am after my runs. So, that was a bonus.

Will I buy it? You know, I'm not sure. It is an easy way to get post-run protein and it is a good source of both calcium and vitamin D (here's the nutrition information). But, it is also pricey. So, I'm going to go with maybe on this one.

You can download a Rockin' Refuel coupon here.

Review disclosure: I was sent two bottles of Rockin' Refuel to try out and review. I received no other compensation and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Eating well. Or trying to.

This is sponsored content from BlogHer and Crystal Light Pure Fitness.

Summer isn't my favorite season only because of the longer days, trips to the beach and runs without layer upon layer of clothing. It is also my favorite season because of farm stands and farmer's markets and their promise of fresh vegetables and fruits.

Blueberries, peaches, tomatoes, string beans, arugula. When it is locally grown and newly picked, I'm a sucker for it all. Fortunately, there's a farm stand about two miles from my house and from mid-June on, I can stop in and know that I am going to be able to pick up something yummy. There is also a wonderful farmer's market in my area every Saturday. Dozens of local farmers set up their stands and sell whatever is in season. They are joined by bakers, honey makers, and young up-starts with small lines of nut butters, salsas and pestos.

My little guy loves natural foods, especially just-picked apples!

I enjoy filling my kitchen with natural foods and since I've become a mother I've also become more concerned with what I feed my family. Yes, I paid some attention to ingredients when it was just my husband and me that I cooked for. But I really started caring when I was pregnant for the first time. Then, what went into my body became of critical importance. You might even say I obsessed. Over the past three years I've learned to chill out and I like to think that I'm now more-or-less able to feed my family well but not go nuts. Or, at least, not too nuts.

So I stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmer's markets. I buy local honey and maple syrup and use those to sweeten foods when it makes sense. I read food labels and try to stick to natural ingredients whose names I recognize. I make my own smoothies, bake cakes and cookies from scratch, try to consume natural foods as much as possible. And I feel better doing it.

I try to make sure to involve my son when I cook and bake, because I feel that understanding how food is made, and helping with the process will instill good, healthy eating habits.

There are few things that I can control in this world and having some small bit of control over what my family eats makes me feel better. Choosing natural foods is one way that I can do that.

OK, you read at the beginning that this post is one in my month-long series for Crystal Light: Pure Fitness. This week, the question for you is: What natural foods and drinks do you consume that are good for you? I've shared my love for the local, fresh fruits and veggies from my farmer's market and now it is your turn!

Every comment left on this post is an entry for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card at the end of the month (comments from all posts will be combined; you can leave comments on more than one -- or all! -- post to receive multiple entries).

While you're at it, check out the other bloggers that are writing about Crystal Light: Pure Fitness for three other chances to win $100 as well as a $1,000 sweepstakes by visiting the BlogHer.com Crystal Light: Pure Fitness exclusive offers page.

Learn more about Crystal Light: Pure Fitness here and read the official rules here. Good luck!




Thursday, July 15, 2010

Somnio running shoes review.

I haven't had the best luck with running shoe reviews. You see, I'm a Brooks gal and have been for a good 8 or so years. I love my Addictions. They were my saviors way back when my ITB decided it was going to work against me and my desire to run. So, I've stuck with them and I will sing their praises to anyone who will listen.

Trying other shoes, then, doesn't always work so well. I was sent a pair of New Balance about a year ago and they were fine. Shiny and sleek and silver, the shoes were fun to wear but they just weren't my Addictions.

Same with the Mizunos I was sent a few months later. And, oh, did I want to love those. They were pink, people! Well, pink and white but, come on! Just about the cutest running shoes I had ever worn. Today, they are relegated to cross-training. Indoors. Where no one gets to see them and all their pink and white glory.

Recently, though, I was sent a pair that could possibly have me saying good-bye to my Brooks.

I'm nervous just typing that.

It's Somnio. Have you heard of them? They make these custom running shoes. And, I don't know about you but I think custom running shoes is a pretty cool concept.

So, I was contacted by Somnio and we went through the process of fitting the shoes to my particular gait and body type. Based on a few emails and Somnio's custom fitting process (which I had to do online because there are no Somnio retailers near me) I chose the Women's Self Control. It's a cushioned motion control shoe that I had fitted with a #3 varus wedge, a medium arch and neutral cushioning.

Check out the whole Build a Shoe process here.

When my custom shoes arrived, I wanted to try them out right away. I took them for an easy run around my neighborhood and the first thing that I noticed was that I felt very "one with the road" in the Somnios. It's hard to explain but I think it has something to do with the sole being flatter than that of my Brooks. Not sure. Anyway, I felt a little more in tune with the road and I can't imagine that would be a bad thing.

For my next run, I wore my Brooks, for comparison. Oh, jeez. I felt as if my feet were slapping the road. I had never, ever felt that before. But, compared to the Somnios, that's how it felt. My trusty Brooks still worked for me but a bit of their luster seemed to be rubbing off.

The next test for the new shoes was a big one: I wore them in a race. I took only the Somnios with me on vacation and I wore them for my 5K and for a run along the beach.

Two completely different types of runs. And two runs that felt good. The only discomfort I had was some not-quite soreness in my shins during my race. I haven't experienced it when I've worn the Somnios since so I believe that it was just my legs getting used to the different way of running in the new shoes.

Overall, I love my custom running shoes! I'm scared, though, because this particular shoe goes for $160 and do I really want to sign myself up for such an expensive shoe? Well, I probably do. My Brooks are pricey enough, although I can often find a good deal and get them for around $80.

The bottom line is that I am enjoying running in these new shoes and it has been about 8 years since I've been able to say that a non-Brooks shoe has worked for me. Thanks, Somnio, for a great experience! I'm looking forward to many more miles.

Check out Somnio for yourself at their web site.


Review disclosure: Somnio gave me the opportunity to try the running shoes free of charge. I was not compensated for my review and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fitness inspiration.






This is sponsored content from BlogHer and Crystal Light Pure Fitness.



There was a time in my life when the heavy girl I saw in the mirror was my main inspiration to workout. Looking back on the girl I was in my early 20s -- fun, working single girl, living in the Big Apple -- I realize that I wasn't fat. In fact, a lot of the time I looked pretty good. But, you know, it's all about perspective. And my perspective at that time was that my nights of hitting the two-for-one happy hours with free all-you-can-eat hot hors d'oeuvres needed to be paid for with hours on the elliptical.

You could say that fear of fat was my main motivator in those days.

But then I started to run.

Funny how putting one foot in front of the other -- no machines necessary -- can change your perspective.

I entered my 30s and moved out of the city. I had gotten married and the hubs and I decided upstate New York was the place for us. Or, at least, we hoped it would be. Ten years later, we know it is.

I continued to run. I started to enter more races and, in turn, I started to run more. I began training for races. I wanted to become better -- to train smarter, to run faster, to gain endurance. I wanted to prove to myself that I could run. For real. I wasn't motivated by a fear of fat. Instead, I was motivated by PRs and long runs that got longer each week. By completing tough hill repeats that, a year or two earlier I never would have dreamed of attempting.

You could say that I began to inspire myself.

Make no mistake: When I see rockin' running mamas, like Paula Radcliffe and Blake Russell, I am IN-spired. I think about how they can balance being moms with running well and I tell myself to get with it.

And, yeah, I see those 80-something grandmas who run marathons or anyone who has overcome a disease, tragedy or life obstacle but still gets out there and runs and I think, I can run one more mile.

And, of course, when I look at my son, I'm inspired to model healthy habits for him.

How could I not want to stay healthy for that little guy?

For the most part, though, I trust myself to be my main inspiration. Narcissistic? No, I don't think so. I think I just feel that I need to run for me. I need to be healthy for me. I need to train and try to set personal records for me. There's nothing wrong with looking outward for inspiration and I definitely do that from time to time. For me, though, I'm it. I'm no longer looking at a heavy girl in the mirror -- I'll leave that image for my youth -- but at a strong running mama who wants to stay that way for as long as possible.

The bracelets I had made for my running group last month, but also a title I like to think applies to me.

It's a better image. Believe me.

So this post is part of my month-long series for Crystal Light: Pure Fitness. This week we want to know: Who inspires you to reach your fitness goals?

Tell me! Every comment left on this post is an entry for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card at the end of the month (comments from all posts will be combined; you can leave comments on more than one -- or all! -- post to receive multiple entries).

While you're at it, check out the other bloggers that are writing about Crystal Light: Pure Fitness for three other chances to win $100 as well as a $1,000 sweepstakes by visiting the BlogHer.com Crystal Light: Pure Fitness exclusive offers page.

Learn more about Crystal Light: Pure Fitness here and read the official rules here. Good luck!





Uncle Ben's coupons winner.

Hope you all had a good weekend!

The winner of the Uncle Ben's coupon is . . .

Olivia, The Blissful Runner

Congratulations! Love that blog title. Olivia, send me your address and I'll send you your coupons!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Athletica $50 gift card winner!

The winner of the Athletica $50 gift card, selected using random.org is . . .




Tracy from Our Life with 3 Guys and a Doll.

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

Thanks to everyone who entered and thanks to Athletica for this giveaway!

Uncle Ben's Kitchen Kickoff

Some people swear by protein-packed diets and eschew carbs like they are poison. Not me. No sir. I'm a carb gal. Pasta, rice, bread . . . as long as it is part of a balanced diet, I go for it. And I especially go for the whole-grain carbs like whole wheat couscous or pasta, brown rice, multigrain bread.

So, when given the chance to participate in the Uncle Ben's Kitchen Kickoff I said, "Absolutely!"

As part of this promo, I was sent boxes of Uncle Ben's items to share with friends during a meal together. All of the rice was whole grain brown rice and there were three different styles: Boil-in-Bag, Fast & Natural, and Natural Whole Grain (long-cooking).

For the dinner, seven friends and I got together and cooked a Mexican-style meal of tacos, veggies and Tex-Mex rice. We opted to try the Boil-in-Bag rice because it seemed very convenient and convenience is everything for busy moms.

The Boil-in-Bag rice was as easy to make as the package promised. All we had to do was boil a pot of water, then stick the bags in the water and wait for 10 minutes. When the rice was done, we dumped the water and finished the dish.

Here's our (not so attractive but definitely yummy) bowl of Tex Mex-style rice:

It looks better on the plate with the rest of the meal:

It really was tasty and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Thanks to Uncle Ben's, each guest got a big goodie bag filled with three boxes of rice, a scoop, coupons and a pack of recipes:


It was fun to make the meal with friends and share the rice with them. A few people were surprised by how easy it was to cook the brown rice -- I think brown rice has a reputation for being time-consuming. In truth, the long-cooking variety that Uncle Ben's sent definitely does take longer to cook, but it is also worth it. The texture is firmer than the Boil-in-Bag or Fast & Natural varieties. But, on regular nights, the quicker varieties are great.

Quickie Giveaway

I have a few leftover coupons from the party. If you would like to win 3 $1.00 off coupons for the Uncle Ben's rice, leave me a comment and let me know. The giveaway will run through Sunday, July 11th at 11:59pm EST. I'll choose the winner using random.org and post on Monday.

Good luck!

Review disclaimer: I wrote this review while participating in a Kitchen Kickoff campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Uncle Ben's. Mom Central sent me a gift card and other Uncle Ben's items to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Crystal Light: Pure Fitness Review Home Page

This is sponsored content from BlogHer and Crystal Light Pure Fitness.

Welcome to my Crystal Light: Pure Fitness hub page! For the next four weeks, I'll be trying out Crystal Light: Pure Fitness, writing about it and linking to my posts from this main page. As part of the BlogHer Reviewer program, I'll also be giving readers a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card! You read that right: $100. Hooray! So, you have to be sure to check it all out :-)

Here is post #1 about your favorite summer activities. It's your first chance to enter to win that $100 gift card.

Post #2 covers fitness inspiration
. What's yours? It's another chance to enter to win the $100 gift card!

Post #3 is about natural foods and drinks
. What are your favorites? Leave a comment on Post #3 for another chance to win the $100 gift card.

And this is it: The final post. In post #4, I share my proudest fitness achievements. What are your proudest fitness achievements?

You can also check out the other bloggers that are writing about Crystal Light: Pure Fitness for three other chances to win $100 as well as a $1,000 sweepstakes on the round-up page. Just follow this link: BlogHer.com Crystal Light: Pure Fitness exclusive offers page.

Learn more about Crystal Light: Pure Fitness here and read the official rules here. Good luck!


Keeping active this summer.



This is sponsored content from BlogHer and Crystal Light Pure Fitness.

As I mentioned on my Crystal Light: Pure Fitness home page, for the next few weeks I'll be writing about Crystal Light: Pure Fitness and a variety of related topics. This week, we're all about favorite summer activities.

Let's see, since I go by The Happy Runner you can imagine that I like to run. And it's true: I'm a runner and I love it. Love. It. But, I admit that sometimes in the summer it can be tough to get in all my runs. The heat, vacations, busy schedules, etc., etc., can sometimes get in the way. For shame, right? I know!

Anyway, I know that staying active is important and summer is the perfect time to get outside and do things that (in the Northeast, at least) you can't do other times of the year. Doing them helps me stay active and not guilty on those days when I can't fit in the run. For me, those activities include:
  • Going for nature walks with my husband and son
  • Playing catch in the yard
  • Taking advantage of our playset by really swinging and actually trying to balance on that rope swing
  • Going on walks (and sometimes runs) with other moms
  • Hitting the town beach
Running, however, remains my all-time favorite way to stay active in the summer. Hot days, humid days, doesn't matter. I love a good run. This summer, I've been trying to run more often in the morning but sometimes the bed wins out. Same for the late evening: There are days when I still have the energy to run at 8pm but there are others when I simply don't.

What I have found is that a little planning goes a long way when it comes to summertime activities:
  • I try to make sure that I always have clean running clothes around (sounds obvious, I know, but you'd be surprised to know how many times I've wanted to run only to find all of my sports bras are in the hamper),
  • I keep an easy to digest snack by my bedside table to I can fuel up before a morning run,
  • I always bring my running gear with me on vacation,
  • I have a beach bag packed with essentials (sunscreen, beach towels, shovels) in the back of my car, and
  • I make sure I have convenient, healthy snacks and drinks in the house all the time.
This year, I found a 5K to run on vacation with friends -- great way to keep up the routine!

When I was sent a pack of Crystal Light: Pure Fitness to try out, one of my favorite features was the "toss in the purse" size tube that the powdered drink comes in. For my family, the one serving pack actually makes two big drinks, which means my son and I can both have one when we're out and about. I just need to grab a cold water and we're all set.

So that's my deal. Running. A few other fun things. Planning and preparation.

What about you? What are your favorite summer activities?

Think about it and leave me a comment. Every comment left on this post is an entry for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card at the end of the month (comments from all posts will be combined; you can leave comments on more than one -- or all! -- post to receive multiple entries).

You can also check out the other bloggers that are writing about Crystal Light: Pure Fitness for three other chances to win $100 as well as a $1,000 sweepstakes by visiting the BlogHer.com Crystal Light: Pure Fitness exclusive offers page.

Learn more about Crystal Light: Pure Fitness here and read the official rules here. Good luck!