RunningSkirts(dot)Com Sub-Zero Review

After months of waiting to wear my RunningSkirts(dot)com Sub-Zero skirt, the weather finally turned cold enough to pull it from its packaging.

I have raved about Running Skirts compression socks (here) since testing them out a year ago, but unsure about proper sizing in the company’s skirts made me hesitant about ordering one (see sizing below). After receiving an email alert from Schwaggle with a link to the RS website giving an additional percentage off of a special list of merchandise, I took the plunge ordering the heartstooth patterned skirt attached to the full length brushed and wicking pant.

Sizing:

As I usually do before making online purchases, I read the reviews and pondered the size chart. Pant sizing is funny for me (skinny legs and not so skinny hips). According to the measurements listed, I would wear a size 3 (10-12), but since I am so rarely a 12, I wasn’t sure this was the best choice.

It turned out that the size 3 is perfect. I would recommend, actually, that if you are a larger size 12, going up to a size 4 might be better. Size eights would definitely want to buy the size 2.

Confused? I was, though it’s not their fault rather the nature of online shopping.

Fit:

With a flat waistband and continuous drawcord (like Lululemon’s), there was no rubbing at the belly. Also interesting, and possibly a fit characteristic for my body type (apple-ish), the front waist fit a tad higher than the back. I loved this; always prefer a pant this sits a bit higher at the waist (it’s a different story for me when it comes to shorts).

Temp:

The Sub-Zero is sold as a cold weather running skirt and performs as such. My legs didn’t feel a moment of wind or freeze after five miles in 37 degree temperatures. During my second run in much warmer weather (about 50 degrees), they still felt great; no overheating. When I run long, even in the coldest temperatures, I always (always) burn hot at my wrists and ankles. During my second run, I folded up the bottom portion of the leg and continued on, grateful that they weren’t super tight at the hem; they folded up easily.

More shopping?

Unhappy with the current quality on the newest LLL running tights (I swear the luxtreme is thinner) and more and more feeling the need to cover my rear (I am a 41-year-old grown woman after all), I am interested in trying some of the other skirts in the line.

Next on my list is the Capri Skirt. If it performs even close to the Sub-Zero, it could (quite possibly) be the perfect running bottom made.

M.

Do you run in skirts? How about RunningSkirts.com skirts? Do you shop there?

The skirts come in different patterns. I like the black and white ones as they can go with more colored tops.
The continuous drawcord. When pulled tighter the skirt stayed put. If you’ve ever gotten chafe from a tie at the wast then you know; ow.
The wide, flat waistband.
The logo on the side of the skirt. Barely noticeable.

Back To School Shopping

Back to school shoe shopping is not easy especially with fashion forward four-year olds.

Their father won’t be happy when he sees the Nordstrom bill, but his little ladies will enter “The Fours Room” next Tuesday with Twinkle Toes by Sketchers so blinding that I think I need shades.

It’s perfect timing, actually, since my Zeals have bitten the dust.

Before we left the mall (after making wishes in the fountain) we stopped at the sunglass store where I tried on a Red Ridinghood trifecta of Maui Jim’s; Baby Beach (too small), Cliff House (too big) and Sugar Beach (just right)!

What shoes are your kids wearing back to school? What sunglasses are on their mama’s?

XOM

Twinkle Toes = Happy Feet
Bling Bling.. they flash little lights! Is their teacher going to hate me?
Maui Jim Sugar Beach in Rootbeer. Did my research…good for running. They weigh only one ounce, are polarized, and shield-like enough to protect my sensitive eyeballs. Image from Nordstrom.com.

A Good Day

Saturday morning began with my running group the WannaBeasts (10.5 minutes per mile) and eight sweaty miles through the greenway around Shelly Lake, behind Crabtree Valley Mall. There was ninety-eight percent humidity and while it felt like running through soup, it was fast and easy (even downright pleasant) thanks to the conversation with my partner Nancy (whom I’d just met) and the energy of the team.

Afterward, instead of heading home to shower, I drove to Peachie’s for one last visit to her empty house and to drop off the baby clothes that the girls had gathered from their closet the day before (during their own packing session for Maine).

“It’s too small, it goes in the baby pile!”

I sat in Peachie’s back yard drenched in sweat and snot (my poor skirt had served as kleenex on the trail) and watched squirrels in pine trees pull branches from limbs and scurry away. I wondered if this is how they collected their nuts. I reminded myself that I loathe squirrels, especially after they had taken refuge in my attic a few years ago.

I called my sister and we talked.

I called my Peach and we talked even more.

When I couldn’t stand the dried sweat a second longer I left for home, driving and listening to the radio stations that are playing the same songs on rotation this Summer. I know all of the words.

I showered and threw on a typically scary post run outfit; a comfy bra, white and purple stretchy shorts that say, “I heart Saints,” a washed blue KBIA t-shirt that I intentionally cut down the front and unintentionally ripped under the arm, and bright pink CEP compression calf sleeves I’d received in the mail the day before.

I don’t like to match my clothes post run. The more mismatched I look the better I feel. I’m pretty sure that most runners feel the same way about their recovery outfits. It’s not mentioned much, but take a look at most running blogger’s post run photos and it becomes obvious. It might even be an unsaid qualification for calling oneself a runner.

As happens after a good medium to long run I was tired. I shuffled around the house until I couldn’t bring myself to shuffle anymore and by 3:00 curled up on the sofa with the girls for an episode of Sponge Bob.

I promptly fell asleep.

Grace soon nudged me and said that she was tired, too, and surprisingly both girls followed me upstairs where we crawled into their beds. Unexpected as neither girl has taken a nap since 2010. When I woke and realized that it was 7:00 p.m., I knew there’d be a long night ahead.

We came downstairs where Brian had made dinner and had it waiting on the kitchen bar; cheeseburgers, french fries and onion rings.

I cut up some lettuce and tomato and made plates of food that we took outside to eat by tiki lamps.

The girls were happy. Their dad and I were civil. We talked about a friend of a friend who at thirty-eight had just died from Frontal Lobe Dementia. There was a silent acceptance that this life is too short and that happiness is imperative. The girls laughed as their stuffed puppies “tried” to eat from the plates of food. The family unit was working as it should all the time.

With renewed energy I decided to tackle the packing that waited for me; my empty suitcases left for last.

I tucked my iPhone into my bra after pressing play on my audiobook version of Wild. As I gathered my running clothes and bathing suits I listened to the chapter about Cheryl’s mother’s horse named Lady and how she had become old. With her mother gone, she knew that she needed to tend to the horse.

The heartbreaking account of what came next made the placement of items into my luggage slow and deliberate. I listened while folding my piles and piles of must haves, acting out my work while my heart swelled and pounded from the depth of the pain I was hearing.

For two hours I continued; Cheryl’s journey on the Pacific Coast Trail and my journey through my stuff.

I have much too much. As I looked around at the things I knew I’d need and then back to the closet for the things that I might need and into the extra closets for things I never wear but probably need, I felt overwhelmed and a little disgusted.

I listened to Cheryl talk about Monster, the name for the pack she carried on her back, and wished that I could lessen my reliance on consumerism, so that all I needed was a pack and my kids. If only that could be enough.

When it became too overwhelming I decided to leave the mess to which I will return to today.

I sat on the master bed and continued with the story while gazing at the mound of fabrics and colors, pants and tunics, hats and necklaces, bathing suits and skirts. Underpants will go in last.

I connected to Cheryl’s feelings about her writing. How she’d always written, but the unattained dream of writing her own novel had left her disappointed and embarrassed. She wrote about making the decision to make it happen.

Remembering how I felt when reading the Hunger Games, how I liked the author and appreciated her words seemingly written for me, I added Cheryl Strayed to my list of imaginary friends. I might not understand a lot of what she went through on the PCT, but I certainly relate to her life as a writer and a woman.

By 10:30 the house was dark and bedtime was near. The girls brushed their teeth and chose their bedtime books. I imagined that I’d get them to sleep and then sneak away for some alone time, to ponder my day and plan the next. But instead, I just lay between my daughters thinking.

In two days we’ll be back at the beach that has been home for thirty five years. I will see my friends who have known me my entire life. I’ll see the newest babies and write by the sound of the sea.

Instead of sneaking away I closed my eyes and listened to the breathing of my girls, while hoping for a future that looked a lot like this day.

A day of sweat and books. Of food and fun. Introspection and civility. A life with purpose, happiness, respect, restful naps, laughs, and possibly less in the way of stuff.

All things are possible.

With that I fell to sleep. The best sleep I’ve had in ages.

The WannaBeasts at the start. Forty runners at the same pace is an unbelievable experience!
CEP calf sleeves in pink. I think I had them on backward and so I turned them around later in the day. I realize I haven’t written a “gear post” in ages. On my feet, Ipanema flip flops, my choice for this Summer. Under my feet a Dash and Albert exterior washable rug. Geez. Look at that! My consumerism in full effect!
The girls stack of traveling books. I like that they put A Good Day by Kevin Henkes on the top. I promise this wasn’t staged. I named the post after seeing the book tower and realizing it was exactly what I was writing about. 
My packing mess. Brian is going to take the girls out later today so that I can focus. Underneath that pile are neatly folded running clothes and beach things. I can thank Cheryl Strayed for that.
I downloaded Wild to listen to when I ran. I liked it so much I pinned it on my Pinterest page, which resulted in a signed copy of the book at my front door. Pretty neat if you ask me!
Good Day, Good Day
A Good Day found on Pinterest (uploaded by Brianna Hope). Fitting, wouldn’t you say?

Habituality

This morning when I rolled out of bed my first thought was coffee.

When I came downstairs, groggy still, I auto piloted through the making of a new carafe.

As is my ritual, the next thought was breakfast.

Usually I’d go for my Greek yogurt concoction, or a measured bowl of cereal, maybe some Ezekiel and peanut butter. I had to remind myself of the smoothie challenge I began just yesterday.

A cup of kale and banana and berries was not what I wanted.

It got me thinking about habits; good habits, bad habits, auto pilot habits, and make life easier habits.

When the coffee was ready I poured it into my sunny yellow cup and added skim milk. Then I waited, taking a few minutes to think about the challenge and why I was doing it.

I took yesterday’s second kale portion out of the fridge and gave it a good whirl with a spoon.

Having just drunk it down I can honestly say that it was good. I feel satisfied and full despite the fact that there was no chewing involved.

Habits are hard to adjust. They take thought and work and in the case of yesterday’s trip to Target I was able to avoid the toy buying habit, but fell victim to the children’s pleas for checkout candy (I caved and I can admit it). Rome was not built in a day.

One habit I am not ready to break is my fairly regular visit to Lululemon.

This week’s upload showcased a whole lot of dots. From what I’ve seen, I’m not a fan, so the girls and I will visit the store today to check them out in person.

Of course, I will let you know what I think.

M.

What habits are you working to change? What are some of your rituals that you do on autopilot and take concentration to do differently?

Coffee and skim milk in my favorite Crate and Barrel cup. I love the yellow on the inside, which is why I bought them in the first place.
I made a batch of kale smoothies yesterday morning. Today when I took the second portion out of the fridge it has separated with the blueberry juice on the bottom and the kale on top. A good mix was all it needed. It tasted a lot better than it looked.
Daily Tank
Lululemon Daily Tank in high noon dot blush. I tried the Daily Tank before and didn’t love it. The straps were too long. I really dislike this pattern, but we shall see what it’s like in person.
Diversity Wunder Under
Lululemon Diversity Wunder Under in high noon dot blush quartz/black. They are $72.00 and have tack marks where you can cut them to different lengths. It’s a terrible idea, I think. Spend that kind of money for leggings that you cut and are left without a hem? I’ll be surprised if they don’t end up in loot.

Sunglass Shopping

I’ve been living in my Zeal Optics for almost two years.

They have taken me through hours and hours of running, 26.2 miles of my first marathon, a sun screened summer in Maine and many many days behind the wheel of the Sequoia. But their time to be retired has come, mostly because of the big chip that has appeared in the left lens. They’ve lasted far longer than they should have. I’m far from gentle with my glasses.

As I wrote about in Girl in Glasses my effort to find another pair of sunnies and my savvy Internet shopping led me to a pair of Kaenon’s.

The Kaenon’s, while oversized and cute, have turned out to be a much better headband than eye cover. They aren’t all that comfortable and leave a big imprint on the bridge of my nose. It’s not a great look and does horrible things to my face when wearing my Glo Minerals powder. I’ve succumbed to dusting my face once the glasses are on to miss that spot that rubs my makeup into my skin causing roughness, little bumps and redness, too.

Yesterday, since I was sans kids and at the mall for a scheduled visit to the genius bar (another story entirely), I figured I’d use my time to investigate sunglasses.

When I enetered the first store the girl behind the counter asked me to hand over my Zeals. Her bright face and happy voice warmed me instantly.

“Here, let me clean those,” she said.

Embarrased I handed them over. She sprayed them with magic (they never looked better when she was done) and worked away while we talked.

“Try the Tory Burch,” she mentioned as she pointed to the case.

The first pair I picked were coded TY 6006; gold rimmed aviators with pink gradient lenses. They were light and chic and sized right (not too big or small) and the sales girl and I had a bonding moment; she still working on my Zeals and smiling at my face that had lit up over the discovery of sunglass awesomeness!

The next pair I tried were TY 6016; rimless with brown and like the others had pink gradient lenses. Without a rim they look the complete opposite of every other pair of glasses I’ve ever owned, but were so pretty and felt comfortable on my face that they make it hard to decide which of the two I liked better.

As much as I feel the pull toward grown up ladylike sunglasses, I inquired about the running selection next. The store carried Oakley and I was handed a pair of Polarized Overtimes, similar to the Kaenons in shape, plastic rimmed glasses with polarized lenses and a rubber bridge piece to keep them from sliding while sweating. At $170.00 they were not cheap, but their lightness and good size made up for it. I wished I’d found them before the Kaenons.

Oakley also makes an aviator and to compare to the Tory’s, I tried them on. They were okay, but didn’t have that lightness and chicness thing that Tory does so well.

I moved down the case.

I used to wear a pair of RayBans, black and wrap around they were great to shield me from the sun. But like the Kaenons, they weren’t comfortable on my nose and would slide down my face while wearing. They also failed the headband test and wouldn’t stay put atop my noggin (a deal breaker). I passed them onto my sister. They looked much better on her anyway.

The RayBan aviator was a no the moment I put them on. Too big. Too heavy. All wrong.

Next, I tried the wayfarer.

Again, they weren’t right for me. Maybe it’s because I wore the same pair in the mid eighties? I don’t know, but I’m glad I tried them, since I’d been pulled toward a Kate Spade pair that I’d seen on Gilt.

I left the store feeling like I really need new glasses, but must decide if I should stick with Zeal, which I know perform for me or just keep the old ones for sweaty running and buy a new pair of pretty glasses for when I’m attempting to play the part of “forty-year old mommy in desperate need for some chic in her life.” Hm?

I dropped into another shop before leaving the mall.

The girl behind the counter asked if she could help me and I said I asked about Kate Spade, since I hadn’t seen any all day. She said they didn’t carry them and added that Kate Spade doesn’t have much control over the quality and control over her glasses anymore.

This can be a problem when designers expand and sell their names. I’m sure Kate Spade is making more money than she ever dreamed, but for a consumer like me, the overselling and lessening of her control makes the brand less special and less likely that I’ll buy anymore. I hope this doesn’t happen with TB, though she’s expanding at similar speed.

This store carried more luxury eyewear and avant-garde designs than the last.

My interest fell to the glass case filled with Dita frames, a manufacturer/designer I’ve been hearing a lot about. Dita is made in Japan and currently being worn by a ton of celebrities in the know. The frames were priced around high, around $500.00-$600.00 a pair.

I wished I had really great things to say about the brand, but overall I found them overpriced and while certainly quality, not worth the retail price tag. The stores selection was small, which I was okay with. They ones they had were too weird; even for me.

Below the Ditaa was another company who produce their glasses out of the same factory in Japan.

Matsuda, similarly priced and beautifully detailed were made famous by Linda Hamilton when she wore them in the movie Terminator 2. I learned that the producers of the new Iron Man film, being shot down the road in Cary, N.C had requested a bunch be sent for their film as well.

Apparently, with the death of Mr. Matsuda in 2008 there has been a new demand for his glasses, evident by the auctions on Ebay and the $1000.00 price tag for certain styles.

Sunglasses are an important accessory and I left feeling glad that I’d done a little research in the area.  I was enlightened by what I’d learned, intrigued by the many choices and thoroughly convinced that sunglasses, like running shoes, should be purchased in stores.

What glasses are you wearing?

Did you buy them online or in a shop?

Think it’s too much Tory to have her on my face, while carrying the Amanda bag and possibly also wearing TB Eddie’s on my feet? Decisions!

Tory Burch Aviator TY 6006. I’ve never been the aviator type. These changed my mind.
Tory Burch TY 6016 rimless brown/pink. Surprisingly flattering.
Oakley Overtime
Oakley Overtime. When I say these were feather light, I am not exaggerating. Loved them!
Aviator Large Metal Gold / Crystal Rose
Ray Ban Aviator Metal Gold/Crystal Rose. Supposedly made for women, but looked hard on my face.
Original Wayfarer Black / G-15 XLT Polarized
Original Wayfarer
Matsuda style similar to the Terminator 2 pair. These with blue lenses also show the details that Matsuda is known for. Very pretty.
Kaenon Zaza. I have the tortoise.
Dita.
Tory Burch Amanda Hobo. I’ve been carrying this since my birthday. Don’t think I can part with it for a summer bag. It’s too good.
Tory Burch Eddie. Best flats ever. Loathe the Revas, btw.

Girls in the Sun

When I was fourteen, after a fun-filled day with my friends where we slathered ourselves in baby oil in an effort to get Ban De Soleil brown, I walked home and flattened my towel on the grass in our backyard. The sun had moved from its place high in the sky and I lay stomach down dozing in the warmth of the afternoon.

I still remember the prickle of the grass coming from underneath my towel. When I woke, my head was turned to the side and it took a few minutes to find my focus. Blinking lazily I watched my beach bag and listened to the sounds of the ocean waves in the distance. I was rested and warm even though the sun had moved over the house. Content, I stayed there for a while embraced by the end of a beautiful summer day.

I think about this often, because it’s one of those times where my pleasure filled every last cell of my being. How many times are we granted a memory like that? A memory attached to pure bliss that stays with us forever.

It seems ironic now that my memory was really truly being etched into my cells. Melanoma must have begun during those years and didn’t show its face until my pregnancy hormones (and maybe the infertility drugs, too) sent my body into cancer cell turnover overload.

As summer nears closer, as the weather warms, and as the Internet is inundated with (Oh my gosh I want everything) summer fashion, I am reminded of the importance of caring for one’s skin.

We should all be wearing sunscreen. Melanoma is a gene and you can have deep gorgeous African skin and you can still get the disease.

To all of the beautiful moms across the Earth, I implore you to teach your kids about the dangers of the sun. It’s not a lesson that they will hear, though if you spend your own summer getting cooked to a crisp. You can chase them down with Coppertone, but if I learned anything from my years teaching other people’s monsters, it’s that kids learn by what is modeled.

Wear a beautiful hat. Be chic in a gorgeous long caftan. Get sporty and adorable in an Athleta rashguard or J. Crew’s fab striped board shorts. Boden always does great tunics. Free People and Georgie make amazing beach pants and even Lululemon does UV running tops. The choices are endless and your skin (and dermatologist) will thank you.

As a result of my sun soaked adolescence, I now have a hideous scar (one of many, but the one most difficult to conceal) across my back, near my neck. I try to hide on a daily basis. I have hated it for the over four years I’ve had it and have endured steroid injections and laser treatments hoping to make it disappear.

It isn’t going anywhere.

A few nights ago after watching episode two of The Big C where Laura Linney’s character (in the last stages of her own melanoma fight) tattoos a large C over her scar, I’ve decided to do the same.

When you see it, please ask me about it. I’m not afraid to share. I want to feel proud and I think it will help.

Would I change that dreamy afternoon memory (or any of those delicious days cavorting in the sun) if it meant no cancer?

No way.

The only thing I would change is my insecurity about not knowing who I was and my inability to feel beautiful in my own….. skin.

My wish for the fourteen your old me and what I hope for all girls everywhere is that we can find the beauty within ourselves to not have to change what God has given us.

Oh yes, and I would have slathered my unblemished skin with sun cream.

Hindsight is so twenty twenty!

Calypso Yellow Cotton Terry Caftan.
Buddha Beach Pants
Buddha Beach Pants. It’s not funny how badly I want these.
Calypso cotton sarong. Wear over shoulders or over knees when sitting on the beach.
Wide-stripe board short
J. Crew Striped Board Short. Even I realize that it’s unreasonable to be totally covered all the time. A good dose of sunscreen and a few hours in shorts is healthy. Just re-apply.
Athleta Intrepid Sun Shield. Comes in five colors. I like the zipper to help cool your body when it gets really hot.
Athleta Summer Shape Tee. I have these in a few colors. They are UPF50.  A staple at Althelta, you can always get them on sale.
Real Board Short from Girls4sport.net. They run a little small, so go up a size. Great for teenage girls; they’re kind of cool looking. I’m no teenager, but I have these and they’ve lasted a bunch of seasons.
Gap Sunhat. I tried this on in the store and was surprised by it’s cuteness. The big brim and the fact that it isn’t too floppy make it a winner.
 Whole Hearted Rashguard - Roxy
Roxy Rashguard. Zexy, I think!
caftan! caftan!
Caftan. How cute is this?!
beach pants
Billabong Beach Pants
Tunic #beach season
Emerson Fry New York Beach Tunic.

For the Love of the Run

Brian forgot that he had scheduled Wednesday to work at home. As difficult as it is to keep the kids quiet and away from him when he’s here during the week, there is a little bitty silver lining; he doesn’t leave and I get to run.

Those kind of surprises are the best. Within minutes of telling me his plans I’d gathered my gear and run out of the door half-dressed. I finished getting ready in the driveway, tying up my shoes and situating my Yurbuds.

I didn’t wear the Garmin, which had been diligently strapped to my arm for all those months of training. Looking down at my wrist I was reminded of how differently it felt to not be consumed with distance or speed or time.

Still, I knew I’d run six miles, since I’d chosen the loop I like the most.

Since the race, the weather in Raleigh has shifted and the cold running gear has been rotated in the closet. The long sleeve Swiftly’s are now folded at the bottom of the tee pile and the shorts and short sleeves are peeking out of theirs (in not so neatly folded stacks).

I chose to wear my old Oiselle Run tee yesterday (that I love so much) despite it’s teeny bleach marks. I learned the hard way not to hold and spray Clorox Clean-Up too closely while still in my running clothes. I must have felt inspired after that run last year and my kitchen cleaning frenzy is forever evident on my very favorite shirt.

I had been worried that I’d lost the love for the run.

I am silly!

It was there, we just needed some time apart. Absence and the heart growing fonder, et al.

At 10:00 today I’m heading out again. I think I’ll wear my other Oiselle that says, “13.1 Half the Distance, Twice the Fun,” with my blurred gray Speed shorts. I will lace up the Newton’s tighter at the ankles than I did my Mizunos (explanation to come with my shoe review), Glide up, grab my phone and glasses and go.

How excited am I?

It’s just barely contained.

Yesterday's happy feet.