The Run Happy Formula

With my yogic river guide out of town (no Saturday yoga for me), I took the opportunity to hit the open road after a month of being sidelined by too much stress and a nagging quadracept injury. Luckily for me, the formula for a happy run was in place.

Here are the components, for which (even hours later) I find myself grateful:

1. Running in the cold (this morning’s thermometer hovered around 37 degrees) allows the lungs to fill with crisp fresh air. To say I felt more alive than I have since March isn’t dramatics. It’s the truth.

2. The right gear is essential for cold-weather running, because freezing is never any fun. I left the house wearing my thick, lined running pants, a long-sleeve shirt and jacket, and a headband to cover and protect my ears from the wind.

3. Going slowly, though not walking, there is no hurry and no pressure. As I amp up the winter running, I’m sure I’ll hop back over to the Galloway method, but my favorite way to run is at an easy pace, for as long as I like. Today’s four miles felt right; authentic, focused, strong.

3. Wearing ear pods is controversial. Galloway doesn’t allow it. People say it is dangerous. But the beauty of having music in your ears is that you not only hear, but feel. Choosing the iPod shuffle-option is like an extra step toward total surrender. The last song as I rounded home was James Blunt’s, Best Laid Plans. The man is a poet, and his words made my heart grow wider.

4. A familiar loop doesn’t hurt when you’re busy following your nose. There’s no chance in getting lost and you’re close enough to home if you need to call it quits (earlier than anticipated).

5. A good run always prompts thoughts of the next race. Maybe it’s the endorphins at work, but I’m thinking that the timing is right to train for March’s Tobacco Road Marathon (or at least the half).

A happy run is the foundation for my happy life.

What’s your formula for a happy run?


P.S. I questioned whether to publish this ‘happy post” as it’s a disappointing time for many running friends unable to race New York; monumentally more difficult for the people trying to recover from Sandy’s destruction. New York and it’s people have lived in my heart since I left almost twelve years ago. I wish I was closer to physically help …

February Gear and Goodies

As happened last month, I didn’t manage to compile a new list of goodies until the first day of the next one.

Here are a few recent finds and some older goodies that are pretty enough to be posted!

1. The Cambridge Satchel Company

These bags made in England come in delicious colors and sizes and can be carried by just about anyone; boys and girls.

I favor The Metallic and The Flouro, but one could never go wrong with The Classic. What’s really fun is the monogrammed embossing that can only be done if purchased from the website in the U.K.

I say, “Spend the extra money on shipping and get a bag that’s just for you!”

The Flouro
The Classic in red

2. Swedish Hasbeens and Ugglebo.

I’ve been a fan of clogs since my first pair in the seventies. In the Fall, my girls fell in love with a pair of bright pink patent leather Dansko’s. The price tag was steep, but the sight of them marching around was enough for me to hand over the card and relive my own childhood clunking. I wonder if my kids will remember their first clogs, the way I remember mine.

I’m thinking a pair for me should be added to the Spring shopping wish list. Here are a few ideas.

Swedish Hasbeens 60's Slingback
Ugglebo made for Hannah Anderson. They also come in metallic silver that can go with most of my mommy clothes, but I think the yellow could act as a neutral too.

3. Karen Walker is a designer from New Zealand who makes a really fantastic women’s collection. I love good fabric and great prints and could see myself in just about any of her day dresses. I’m currently coveting her houndstooth, which is bigger and zig-zaggier than an old school men’s traditional one.

Her sunglasses are fantastic, too; whimsical and weird. Love her stuff!

Karen Walker Oversized Tee Blue Houndstooth. Her navy is brilliant too.
Karen Walker Patsy Sunglasses; these sold at Saks.
Karen Walker Number One-Tortoise.

About twice a year I get an urge to sew. This results in a visit to one of my favorite fabric stores where I touch everything and load up while letting my imagination fly free. The problem is that there is never enough time to make all that I dream, not to mention my sewing machine tends to go on strike three-fourths of the way through any given project. Aunt Nor’s unfinished Thanksgiving apron is proof (she still wore it, since it was made with love).

Even so, I continue to collect and fold my neatly stacked finds in the sewing room for when the bell tolls.

4. Two of my favorites fabric designers are  Anna Maria Horner and Amy Butler. Technically these are quilting fabrics, but they really could be made into just about anything ready to wear.

Anna Maria Horner Voile. Gorgeous, airy and soft. Would make great pajamas!
Amy Butler. I bought this thinking I'd use it to make a tunic for myself, but now I don't know. A short shift for Summer that could be worn alone or with jeans?

I couldn’t wrap up a goodies list without something running gear related. A like minded blogger over at Poppy’s Style did a great review of these Adidas tights. I’ve been thinking about them ever since.

A part of me loves them, possibly because they are awfully similar to a pair of ski pants I wore in 1989. The ski pants were more colorful, like graffiti artists had their way with me, but these have the same flair. As Cameron Diaz (@ about 49 seconds) said at the Oscars, sometimes you’ve got to, “Take a chance, everybody!”

5. Adidas TECHFIT 3/4 Zebra Tight

image: adidas TECHFIT Zebra Three-Quarter Tights X41172
The pink Zebra colorway. Crazy, right?

Gear Goodies for January

I have been lamenting the fact that I’ve turned into one of those moms who pick their kids up from school in sweat pants, wet hair up in a pony bun, and Ugg boots. It’s tragic actually, much worse than moms in mommy clothes; leggings, flats, and cute tunic sweaters. At least they are put together.

The hours when the children are in the care of their teachers are spent running. Once back home, there’s only time to shower quickly and throw on something before racing out the door again to return to the germ factory known as The Three’s Room.

Maybe it would be better to pick them up in my gear? I do love my gear, but I like being clean much more. Not to mention it’s a health issue, as wet running pants (no matter how wicky) are not good for girlie parts.

Here are some of my recent favorites:

Lululemon Switch Back Pullover. I was almost as excited about seeing Indigo Blue in the stores as I was seeing Paris Pink.
Yogitoes Lululemon Towel. I've needed a towel for a while, but my Manduka is a deep red and the indigo inkblot would be perfect. It sounds crazy, but I've been looking for a towel that wouldn't clash with my mat for better Om's!
Aspaeris Pivot Shorts. They look like bike shorts, but are actually two pairs fused together with the inner short being all about compression. They are made specifically for women and have been raved about on a bunch of blogs! I think this picture is cute and I like the red, but don't think I'm brave enough to pull them off. My bloggy friend Kathy at was brave enough, and looks adorable in her red ones too!
Under Armour Boy Short. I have these in bright pink. They don't cause wedgie issues like a lot of underpants I've run in.
Kaenon Zaza glasses. My beloved Zeal Optics (Orbs) are tired and need to be replaced. I love these Kaenon's but can't decide on the black or the tortoise. Thoughts?
Foam Roller. I need one. Everyone raves about them.
black compression socks
Running Skirts Compression Socks. I've worn these on my last two long runs, under my tights for added warmth. I can't say enough great things about them. They are pricey, but so worth it. I especially like that they are taller than my Zensahs, which have been demoted to strictly recovery wear.
Sennheiser/adidas® PMX 680. I bought these in March and have loved them! I'm not sure what happened, but they stopped working and I've been suffering with my iPhone ear buds, which are truly awful. I considered Yurbuds, but really liked having a neck holder so the buds don't fall out. I think I'm going to just replace the Sennheiser and hope the next pair last.

Happy Running!

Two Plus Ten Plus Three

I’ve just returned from my first fifteen miler. It was a beautifully cold morning, the temperature only reaching thirty-five (even an hour later), as I sit here to type.

I bundled properly with my thick Target base layer, my trusty black Define Jacket, with a Lululemon wind breaking vest over top. My LLL Dash Tights have become my long run pant of choice, but due to the cold, I layered them with a pair of Speed Shorts and Running Skirts knee-high compression socks. Not a fan of running commando, I tested out my new hot pink Under Armour boy short underpants. The only part of me that was not layered was the space between my thighs and my knees.

Yesterday I signed up for, which is a site that charges a monthly fee for audiobooks. How happy I was to download The Hunger Games for a mere seven dollars. How happy I was that this book, like my last choice, is the story of a heroine. Girl power. My favorite kind.

I was tempted to name this post The Pee Pee Games, since my effort to hydrate this morning left me with a bladder that was full and uncomfortable after a mile. As I saw it, I had three options; find a bush, pee in my pants, or run back home. It was too cold to drop trou and if I peed my pants it would probably feel warm and nice for a second, but surely freeze within minutes making for an unhappy remaining thirteen miles. As I circled home, clearly the best option, I was lucky that the monsters were upstairs. I snuck in quiet as a mouse.

I literally had to peel off my pants to pee and my skin was both frozen and burning. The sting only lasted for a minute before I stopped worrying about it and focused on the warmth of the heat being pushed through the vent in the bathroom floor.

Pants pulled up, I was back on the road in one minute.

The next ten miles I spent transfixed by The Hunger Games and was reminded me what I love about books; story telling, picture painting, suspense, character development, all conjured through words. I love words. I love stringing them together and seeing what results. I think I’d like to meet the author of this adventure. I think I’d like her in real life.

My goal to run negative splits was like a dark cloud over my shoulder. I started slowly enough, but as happens around seven miles, I started feeling really strong and so I sped up more than I should. I told myself, “I can keep up the 12 point something pace,” but as I’d hit hills or a stomach cramp, would realize that I should have held back until a little later in the game.

The stomach cramps. I had three. They were more like bubbles that appeared out of nowhere and only subsided when I’d stop short, bend forward, watch my shoes for a few seconds and breathe. Maybe chinese noodles for dinner don’t really count as good carb loading before a big run?

My last three miles were happy ones. I was almost finished and my route home was familiar. I wanted to finish strong and I pushed so hard on my last half mile that my heart was beating out of my chest.

“Come on Martha! You can do this Martha! Negative splits! Negative splits! Finish strong Martha!” I was chanting to myself under my breath. Somehow repeating my name pushed me on. Miraculously, I finished my last mile a block away from home where I took a picture of the Garmin.

I can’t even imagine what I’ll be saying to myself as I near 26.2.

There may be no words, but there will certainly be tears.

Fifteen miles, 3 1/2 hours, average pace @ 14

Gear Goodies For December

In an effort to lighten things up, I’ve decided that it might be a good idea to update my “Gear Goodies” post once a month.  Let’s be honest, if I continued to write about cancer day after day, I’d be living in Debbie Downerland!

Here are my “Gear Goodies” for December!

The owner of a company  called, “Bic Bands,” also has a WordPress blog called, A Mom On the Run.  A few other bloggers had mentioned Bic Bands; cute headbands that don’t fall off or leave a running gal with a massive headache. I checked out the website and placed an order for two. My skinny gold sparkle and skinny zebra print arrived within a few days, and I wore one during yesterday’s six miler. I am happy to report that my hair stayed back and I didn’t have to hit the Advil due to brain squeeze. Love!

A few weeks ago I tried Swiftwick socks. I bought them at Raleigh Running Outifitters based on a review by one of the female employees. There’s nothing fancy about Swiftwick. They are low, white, with the size (M) in black on the foot. I didn’t have great expectations (I fall for gimmicks too easily and these are so plain), but wow, they are terrific! The toe is a bit cushioned and the sock is made of a dry weave fabric, but they don’t feel synthetic. They also washed great. As a side note, I was excited to see that’s adorable heart compression knee socks are made by Swiftwick. I’m hoping those arrive at my front door soon.

I mentioned in last weekends’ post that I ran into Lululemon to check out the new stock in Paris Pink. I have been waiting for LLL to release some pink gear; everything has been purple, purple, purple for far too long. The Paris Pink color is gorgeous and bright. Unfortunately, I hated everything  on me. The Turn Around Long Sleeve showed every lump and bump and the pace setter skirt was way too short. Since I was there, I tried on a couple other pieces that I loved! The Yoga to City Jacket (I tried black) is amazing with a ruffle placed at just the right point to hide what my sister lovingly refers to as the, “relaxed muscle.” The Essential and Run for it Jackets, also in black, made my must-have list. I told Brian I wanted an iPhone for Christmas, but maybe a gift card to Lulu would be better. Decisions, decisions!

Run:Turn Around LS
Turn Around Long Sleeve. Sadly, this is not a view of me from behind!
Cute, if you're thirteen.
City to Yoga Jacket
City to Yoga Jacket. This purple actually looks like a deep navy. really pretty. If it had been there in my size I probably would have gotten it.

I am always in the market for good running tops, so last week I tried Under Armour’s “Charged Cotton” tees. Under Armour’s fit is funny and I can’t rely on being the same size in every garment. The charged cotton fabric feels heavy and soft (the hang tag says it dries five times faster), and the medium was better than the large. I usually prefer a V or U-neck, because I think they are more flattering on me, but in this case the round neck was better. I didn’t end up buying it, but I might if it gets marked down.

Women's UA Charged Cotton® Shortsleeve T-shirt Tops by Under Armour
Under Armour Charged Cotton Short Sleeve

I also tried the Under Armour Escape Lightweight 1/4 zip in white. In this, I liked the large, since it’s meant to be a layering piece. As the title describes, it is lightweight. I’m just not in the market for thin gear right now. It’s still pretty warm in Raleigh, but I know I’m going to be one cold potato in about a month.

Under Armour Lightweight 1/4 zip in pink

I’m still on the fence about whether or not to try the CW-X Pro Compression pants. I have done lots of research about wearing this kind of gear for extra long runs (and also for recovery) and the consensus is that they work. I think I’m going to wait a little longer, until my mileage gets up to 14/15 to see if what I have is performing well enough.

CW-X Pro Tight for Women

Aside from running gear, I probably should mention some of the Mommyland clothes that have made an appearance lately, since I can’t live in running gear all the time (though sometimes I wish could).

I discovered a designer named Lesley Evers, out of Berkeley, California. Her day dresses and tunic are beyond cute. They are functional, well made, and thoughtfully designed. I called their design office to place an order and was met with the best customer service I’ve ever received (hand to God). Melissa, who I believe is Lesley’s right hand person, walked through the work room trying to find the right size dress for me. She even sent me a stack of extra pieces in different size to try for fit. Who does that?  I ended up keeping two tunics that will get lots of wear in the Spring, and a dress that I wore to the girl’s birthday party.

The Hope Dress. They were out of the green, so I wore the Platinum Tumbleweed pattern to S&G's birthday party.
Ellie in Pink Parasol
The Ellie in Pink Parasol. I can't wait for Spring to wear this one.

Another designer,Kayce Hughes, had a trunk show a few months back at a shop I love in North Hills; The Paper Buzz. Kayce used to work for Ralph Lauren and makes really classic, lovely pieces for women and children. I wore her Western denim shirt dress to meet my grandparents at Thanksgiving. I was planning on wearing my Frye (tall) boots, but since everyone took their shoes off at Aunt Nor’s front door, I decided against it.  I probably could have gone bare-legged, but I knew I’d be on the floor with the kids, etc. In the end, I paired it with my Banana Republic skinny jeans in black, which worked out fine. The dress was super comfortable, I felt great (appropriately attired), and am looking forward to wearing it again; next time with flats and the sleeves rolled (when the season permits).

nashville button down dress
This is the Nashville dress. The Western is more straight, not as full in the skirt.
jane dress
Her little girl collection is TDF!
Finally, my Garmin arrived! I chose the 210 over the 405, mostly because I’m old school and prefer buttons over a touch bezel. It’s charged and ready to run, but today is a rest day, so until tomorrow….
Tell me about your recent finds and gear goodies!