Thursday, February 27, 2014

Three Things Thursday

Here we are, Thursday already!  Here's my three things for today.  

1.  It's official!  Gardiner is finally going to have a summer track program and I'm going to start it up! I've contacted our local Boys and Girls Club and have the initial meeting with the athletic director next week, but I saw it on the B&G website last night, so it's definitely a go.   I was jealous of our friends in other communities throughout Maine who had track programs in their towns and their kids were having a blast.  Rather than whine and moan about our town not having one, I decided to take action and just join forces with the B&G club and go for it!  This is going to be a fun new adventure.  

2.  For the past two weeks, every single run has been in the Skecher Go Run Ultra.  I am blown away.         More to come on this.  

3.  Today is my allergy testing day.  I've been so nervous about this all week.  Making sure I didn't take any antihistamines to skew the results.  Mostly I am super curious if anything will show up.    

What's going on in your neck of the woods?  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Shoe Review: Be Real

A few weeks back I was some rather unique shoes to try out.  Some Be Real Shoes.  

They are unlike so many minimalist shoes on the market.    They have the look of "toe shoes" but don't actually have the toe separators.  The toe box of the shoe is quite room and allows of the natural splay of the toes.  Which made my toes very happy.  

While these shoes are a lot of fun to look at and workout in, they are rather appealing in terms of their construction.  They are 100% made in the USA and are a green product.  Meaning the sole is made from a microplast rubber that is incredibly durable and recyclable.  The padding on the bottom of the shoe provides traction in all directions - which is great for all running surfaces - whether it's trails, roads, beaches, or hiking.  I can see myself using this shoe a lot this summer for hiking and heading to the beach.  They will make a great beach running shoe.

I've run with them outside, a few miles.  I like a little more padding than what they have for running on the road.  But when I head out on the trails this summer, I plan on using these.  Most of my usage has been on the treadmill and for cross training.  They really make great burpee shoes - and were my go-to-burpee shoe for the 1000 #ffburpee challenge this month.

These shoes are not available right now, but will be available shortly.  They will retail for $89.  You should check out Be Real shoes on Facebook or check out their website.  Right now they are offering a 20% coupon if you sign up for their newsletter prior to the release.  Check out their Facebook page for a photo gallery of the shoes and different colors they are making.

Want a chance to win them?  Check out my Birthday Bash Virtual Race for your chance.

Disclaimer.  I was sent a pair of shoes for the purpose of a review. As always, all opinions expressed on my blog are 100% my own.  

My Super Heroes #kindawesome

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

Super heroes come in all forms.    When I think of the term super hero, my mind goes to someone or people who inspire me daily to be a better person.   I am lucky because I have two super heroes.  


These two show me daily what love is all about.  

They laugh, they cry, they play, they fight, they cuddle, they push.  

But in the end, they love each other very much and love so many people around them.  

I am lucky they have chosen me to be their mom and am ever grateful to have them in my life.  

Kind Snacks just released a new Kind Healthy Grain Bar that my Super Hero family enjoyed thoroughly.  Each bar contains 18-22 grams of whole grains from a blend of 100% unique whole grains (amaranth, quinoa, gluten-free oats, millet and buckwheat) - making them gluten free.  The flavors include:  dark chocolate chunk, peanut butter dark chocolate, vanilla blueberry, maple pumpkin seeds with sea salt, oats and honey with toasted coconut.  

Not only did I think they were delicious and healthy, my Super Heros absolutely loved them.  It didn't matter which flavor they chose - they loved them all.   Kind Bars are a great snack to grab on the way out the door to our various activities - swim, dance or heading to the gym.  

Are you a fan of Kind Bars?  

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Move It Monday!

What a week it was!  Last week was February Break and it was absolutely glorious.  Spending the week with the kids was beyond fun.  

When I wasn't working out or running, I was wearing my newest, most favorite sweatshirt ever.  This sweatshirt has been washed roughly 10x already since it came and it's softer than ever and hasn't shrunk a bit.   The awesome folks at Gone for a Run sent me this shirt to review.  The full review will be up tomorrow!

I am very lucky to have kids who, even though they think I'm weird, are always willing to take pictures of me.  Love them.  

My week in review - when I actually took off my sweatshirt.  

Monday - 5 miles, followed by Jillian Michaels with my girl.  

I love her choice of clothing for this one.   And I love that she enjoys doing dvds with me.  I am one lucky momma.  

Tuesday - 4 miles 

I was lucky enough to get to see Ward and the kids when I was out on my run.  It was so exciting to see them and Ward was super sweet to stop and take pictures of me.  Pepper has been my #1 running buddy this week.

Wednesday - 2 snowshoe running miles.  

We had yet another snowstorm Tuesday night which left us with some super fluffy snow which meant perfect snowshoeing snow.  The kids were so excited to put on their snowshoes and head out for a lap around our field to redo my "track".  About 3/4 of the way through, I lost them to their favorite tree down in the field, so I headed back to the house, changed up my snowshoes from the wide walkers to our other smaller, narrower ones and headed out with Pepper.  

Thursday - 4 Slushy, Muddy Miles

The sun came out and it was gorgeous.  So I grabbed Pepper's leash and we went out for another 4 mile run.  While I was completely covered in mud from Pepper, it was a super fun run.  Even my vest had mud on it!  

Friday - 4 Snowy/Rainy Miles 

When I started out, it was snowing.  That beautify heavy wet snow.  The snowplow hadn't gone by at that point so I was running down the middle of my road on snow covered roads.    I wore my sunglasses to protect my eyes from the snow/ice pelting and it was the smartest decision ever!    In the middle of the run it had changed to freezing rain and then just rain at the end.  This run just rocked!  

Then I went to meet up with Amy at the Rail Trail Run Shop and we created our first window display.  The shop isn't on the main road and we needed potential customers to see what we have and to know how to find us.  The smaller poster has the directions.  I am loving our display!  

Saturday - 8 GLORIOUS, SUNNY Miles in shorts!  

The sun was shining, the sky was blue.  The temperature was above 40F and I had brand new shorts and new Crazy Compression sleeves to try out.  

I've never worn Pearl Izumi shorts before, but I scored these beauties at the Rail Trail Run Shop on Friday and had to wear them.  It was instant love.   I'd also like to point out those super adorable Crazy Compression sleeves.  They had the perfect amount compression and were super comfortable.  

Sunday - 8.4 miles on the treadmill.  

It was a nice day outside.  A little cloud covered and not as warm as Saturday. But still a nice day.  I would have run outside but I was working at the gym anyway from 9-12.  On those days it's easier for me to run on the treadmill so I can run as far as I can until 9.  

Then Ward and I actually snuck away for a movie night.  We are awful at setting up date nights.  Either he's running or working or I'm running or working.  But we made it work!   

Week total:  37.4!  

Burpee Total:  I'm at 900!   Only 100 more to go to meet the challenge which ends this Friday!  Psstt... my birthday.  Speaking about my birthday, have you checked out my birthday bash virtual race?   I'm raising money to fight cancer and have some fabulous prizes to giveaway!

Are you the winner of my Apera Sprint bag?  Check it out here!  The winner has 24 hours to contact me or I'll choose another winner.  Happy Monday!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Week 3: Move Nourish Believe Challenge

I cannot believe it's over already!  This was one pretty awesome challenge sponsored by FitApproach and Lorna Jane.  Here's a big shout out to both fabulous companies for pulling off a very unique, quite inspiring challenge that I looked forward to everyday!  Thank you!

This past week we've been on February Break.  I love this little break midwinter.  With luck, we get a few great days of weather.  I've got to say, this has been a pretty awesome break and it was a little longer than normal... as in 1.5 days longer...due to snow storms that hit Maine late last week.  I'll take any extra time I can get.  With that said, those extra days will mean more time in school in June.  Darn!    

Break started off with a few massive snowstorms and has ended with spring like conditions - meaning I ran outside in shorts today and I was hot and sweaty.  Something that doesn't happen a lot in Maine. In February.  Unless I'm running on the treadmill.  

Here's my week recap - 

Monday - 2/17 - Spoil Yourself 

Monday night I celebrated my birthday (early) with my running girls with dinner at our favorite restaurant and Blood Orange Margaritas.  Then I came home and cuddled with this little cutie.  

Tuesday - 2/18 - 5 Mindful Minutes

5 minutes to myself doesn't happen a lot.  But tonight, I made myself some tea, put on my cozy slippers and forced myself to sit down, put my feet up and just relaxed.  It was nice.  Maybe I need to do this more often.  

Wednesday - 2/19 - Be Happy

With more snow on the ground, I got the kids outside for a great trek around our fields in snowshoes. This was so much fun.  I love that we can do these things together.  

Thursday - 2/20 - Thankful Thursday

A day after a snowstorm, blue skies and mud actually made me quite happy.  I'll happily run in mud anytime when it means it's not frigid and cold outside!  Running with Pepper makes me feel quite thankful for her as well - even if she sprays much all of the way up my leg.  

Friday - 2/21 - Share the Love 

Every single person in this photo has been a great support to me.  I just wish this photo also included my dad, my kids and my bff - Stacy.  That would be the best picture ever.  

How do you spoil yourself?  
What does 5 minutes of zen look like for you?  
What makes you happy?  
What/who are your thankful for?  
Who would you make a shout out to?  

Friday, February 21, 2014

It's My Birthday Virtual Race and Tri For A Cure

This summer I'm going to participate in my first ever tri-relay.  I'll be doing the running portion of the Tri For a Cure with my girl Stacy and one of her friends.   Our team is 3 Rockin' Chicks.

from the website:  "At Maine Cancer Foundation, we start each new year with the resolve to try harder to provide funding for cancer research, education, and patient support programs here in Maine.  Everyone is touched by cancer.  Some of in the Tri for a Cure are cancer survivors, but all of us have known someone or lost someone to this terrible disease.  Each person makes the choice to join the Tri for A Cure for a different reason, but when we work together, we are strong."  

I'm choosing to do Tri for A Cure for my mom.  We lost her over 7 years ago to cancer and I miss her ever single day.  Even more so on my birthday, which by the way, is just around the corner.  

This race has even more meaning because it takes place at Spring Point Lighthouse.  My mom loved lighthouses very much and it only seems fitting to do a race for her at a lighthouse.  I still well up when I see a lighthouse.  


As I mentioned, my birthday is just around the corner.  Well, actually, it's exactly 1 week from today. To celebrate my birthday and to honor my mom, I'm hosting a virtual race to raise money for Tri For A Cure on 7/20/14.  My fundraising goal is $350 and I'm hoping to do my part with this race.  

The details:  
From today through next Sunday (3/2), join me in a virtual race.  
You get to choose your mode of movement - run, walk, snowshoe, bike, even elliptical.  If there are other ways you would like to move - just do it!   Since I'm turning 37, it only makes sense to make the distance 3.7 miles!

To enter the virtual race:
The minimum online donation is $20 - per Tri for a Cure's policy.  However, I want to encourage participation in my virtual race - so I'm going to offer a couple of possibilities.    

Mandatory - choose one of the following:  
Option 1:  Donate $10 via paypal to me and I'll add it to my donation fund.  
A $10 donation will get you an entry to 1 prize choice below.  (to paypal me - just send me an email at runningwiththegirls at and I'll send you my paypal address.... )  


Option 2: Donate $20 on my personal page for Tri for a Cure.  A $20 donation will get you the chance to enter for multiple prizes below.  

Does that make sense?  

As I mentioned before, I have prizes!   Several fantastic companies have donated products to help me raise money for cancer and I purchased a few items to giveaway.  After you make your donation, you can come back here and enter to win your choice of prizes.   

A HUGE THANK YOU to Headsweats, Crazy Compression, Zensah, and Honey Stingers!   I am a fan of all these companies.  In the next few days, you'll be seeing my product reviews of what they have to offer.  

Check out the prizes you get to choose from!  

Prize #1 
Headsweats Race Hat in Pedal 

Prize #2
Headsweats Visor in Pink

Prize #3

Prize #4 
Zensah Sleeve in black, size S/M* 

Prize #5 
Zensah Compression socks in 
neon pink/gray/white argyle, size M *

Prize #6 
Honey Stinger Prize Pack*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize #7
Hydrate and Illuminate Prize Pack
Clean Bottle, Reflective Pink Laces, and Ion Iron-On Reflectors

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize #8
Sweaty Bands!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize #9
Be Real Shoes

winner will get their choice/size -read my review here

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I haven't received all prizes in the mail yet.  As they come in, I'll replace and update the images above to reflect the actual prize!  

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Diagnosis: Exercise Induced Anaphylaxis

Probably the worst thing to tell a runner, other than they are injured, is that they are allergic to running.  Sounds a little funny doesn't it?  I mean seriously?  How can someone be allergic to exercise?  

8 years ago Jen would have been pumped to hear those words.  But this Jen isn't so pleased. 

But, am I going to let this diagnosis stop me from doing something I enjoy?  Absolutely not.  This diagnosis will not beat me down.  Instead, I'm going to learn everything I can about it, how to deal with it, how to help others who may be experiencing it.   I'm going to continue to live.  I'm going to continue to run.  I won't quit.  

So, let's back it up a bit.  You may or may not have read my post this past Sunday.  After my post, I was tweeted by Sarah and then Mary.  

Mary's story/symptoms are the exact same - except she had a more severe attack.  I felt incredibly relieved I wasn't alone in this.  Another runner has been living this craziness...and she's still running and kicking butt.  Something I was planning on doing anyway.   We've exchanged some emails and she's been super supportive and answered so many questions I had.  Thank you so much, Mary!  

Let's recap my symptoms:  
- this all started in August
- within a few minutes after completing a run, my eyes lids and below eyes would swell
- sometimes my throat would close up
- I would feel feverish 
- the swelling would last for at least 24 hours  
- happened after running inside/outside - only after running

minor reaction pic here...but you can see the under eye swelling

What I did/have been doing: 
- wash face in cold water/shower/use ice packs/eye wash/allergy drops 
- Benadryl 
- since the swelling lasted for about 24 hours and I couldn't exactly wear sunglasses at school (I am a teacher) - I wore my reading glasses all day long (which I haven't worn for years, but I was desperate.  It was either that or call in sick.)

And then it lead to me taking antihistamines prior to every single run for the past 2 months because I was tired of reactions and fearful of how bad it could get.  This worked for the most part.  Since taking the antihistamines, I've had one reaction and I believe I had that reaction because I took the pills only 20 minutes prior to running which perhaps wasn't enough time for my body to absorb it.  

Doctor's visits.  
- I spoke with my prior primary care physician and he told me to stop running.  
- I stopped seeing him and found another doctor.  
- The new doctor listened to my symptoms and even though she probably thought I was on crack, she didn't tell me I was crazy and instead referred me to see an Asthma and Allergy Specialist.  
- Yesterday I saw the Asthma and Allergy Specialist.  It must have been meant to be.  When I was checking in, I saw this on the wall.  

- Tuesday I was accepted to be part of the Health Tap team.  Obviously not as a doctor, but as a fitness enthusiast.  
- I met with the doctor.  He assessed my asthma and said I was managing it well and then listened to my allergy symptoms.  Without batting an eye, he said I had Exercise Induced Anaphylaxis.   He said it may or may not be related to food and wanted to rule that out and ordered a food allergy test.  Just as the nurse finished marking my arms, she asked if I had any antihistamines in the past day and I said yes.  I had told her earlier when I checked in that I had but she had forgotten.  She said she had to check with the doctor.  Within a few moments she was back and said I would need to come back for the test and would need to be antihistamine free for at least 5 days.  Doable.  Not the end of the world, I suppose.  

- The doctor came back in and explained what the nurse had just said and before I could even ask about running - he suggested I run in the morning before I eat or wait at least 4-6 hours after eating before I run and no antihistamines. least he didn't say don't run!   I can handle this news.  I asked him about an epipen and he said we should hold off for now, but it's definitely a possibility.  

So there you have it folks.  At least I have a diagnosis and a plan of action.  News I can handle.  And you know what?  I feel even more determined.