Posts Tagged ‘ Races ’

Fitness Friday!

You’ve finally come down from your endorphin high after running your Thanksgiving Turkey Trot. Now you’re on the hunt to find another equally exciting and good-spirited race to run in December or January. Well, you’ve come to the right place!

For those looking for carefree races to participate in, this is the perfect season for them. Despite the drop in temperatures, runners everywhere are shucking their turkey hats for elf ears and jingle bells. My favorite runs for December are sometimes called Jingle Bell Runs or Christmas Dashes, but all possess that insouciant atmosphere.

Here are some great races for December and one for January (as well as some clutch links):

Pensacola Christmas DashPensacola, FL – This one mile evening event is fun for the whole family. Every participant receives a blinking LED elf hat and finishers are awarded a 10-inch candy cane!

Jingle Jog 5-K – Atlanta, GA – Music will follow you as all runners receive bells to wear on their running shoes. Beware of “Grinch” hill at mile two and then stay for the postrace festivities.

Boxing Day 10-Miler – Hamilton, Ontario – For those of you who like a chilly challenge, sign up for this 90 year Canadian race. Beware snow and negative wind chill numbers, but warm up postrace at Slainte Irish Pub. Finishers get snowman medals and mittens with snowman logos. Cool!

Resolution Run – Hillsborough, NJ – I ran this one for the first time last year and LOVED it! Racers run down bicycle lanes and through neighborhoods where bundled up families stand in their driveways to cheer you on. Prizes for top placed runners and postrace food and water. Best part? The awesome hooded sweatshirt you get just for signing up! They change designs and colors each year, so I’m planning on building my collection. 🙂

For more info on races near you, check out: Holiday and Resolution Runs

Runner’s World

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Fitness Friday!

It’s getting close to that time! Turkey Trot time!

I recently posted on why I love Turkey Trots, so if you want to read that blog click HERE.

The reason I’m posting again so soon on my favorite race of the year is that I thought some of you might like a list of great Turkey Trots to check out. These races are held around the country and chances are there’s one near you, so check out my last blog to do a general search.

A List of Great Turkey Trots

Parade Company Turkey TrotThis race has been a Detroit staple for the past 28 years and boasts both a costume and a race float contest (think big running Chinese dragon). It offers a 10K, 5K, and 1 mile “Mashed Potato” run.

Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot – Lauded as one of the largest Turkey Trots in the country, this Dallas race now draws thousands Thanksgiving morning. With a 5K run/walk and an 8 mile option as well as costumes, prizes, and big after race entertainment it’s the perfect choice! Also, sign up cost goes to support Dallas area YMCAs and with Dallas being one of the most obese cities in the world, it needs the help!

YMCA Buffalo Niagara Turkey Trot – This 8K first began in 1896 making it the oldest continually running race in the country. More than 12,000 runners come out to race and enjoy the post-run awards ceremony and live entertainment.

Dana Point Turkey Trot – Race along the beaches of southern California with the 5K or 10K run. Not only is the locale a perfect reason to sign up for this huge event, but proceeds go to the Second Harvest Food Bank.

Fitness Friday!

I love Turkey Trots.

I especially love the Turkey Trot where my parents live in which I have been running for the past five or so years. The course goes on a cart path around a local golf course past fields and trees. It never feels like the 3.1 miles (5k) that it is because the energy is always buzzing with excitement. When I first started running this race there were maybe fifty people who ran. It was fun but definitely more subdued. Last year there were probably two hundred plus people there. Some were in costumes, some were serious runners, some were with their young children or families, but everyone was looking to have a good time. It was great! 🙂

For you first-timers out there, a Turkey Trot is a race that’s held early Thanksgiving morning. It’s a perfect way to start the day as you are most likely destined to spend the rest of it with family eating until you’re as stuffed as that turkey was. Running this race always puts me in a great mood and I feel like I’m burning off all those calories I’m noshing on the rest of the day!

To find a trot near you check out Runner’s World or Active’s Turkey Trot finder.

Run on my friends!

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Making a Difference

As many of you probably already know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. It seems like the world is painted with pink in recognition of this worthy cause. The purpose behind all the pink is to increase awareness about breast cancer from screenings to research to risk factors and prevention.

There are a lot of races all over the U.S. that are dedicated to raising money and support for Susan G. Komen called Race for a Cure. One of my favorite aspects of racing is that all of the races I’ve run help to raise money for one worth cause or another. You can even start a race of your own if you have a cause that you want to help support. (This is one of my goals in life – to organize a race for a non-profit organization.)

A local spa is helping out by putting pink hair extensions in people’s hair for $10 a strand. They are donating all proceeds to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. I’ve already made my appointment. 🙂

I don’t know if you’re like me, but sometimes I feel like there are so many worthy causes and I only have so much time and money to give that I feel like I can never do quite enough. But ultimately every person and every effort counts. Even if all someone can do is donate time to help pass out cups of water to runners during a race, it makes a difference. So this month I challenge you to find one thing (or more) you can do to help make a positive difference in this world.

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Fitness Friday!

Welcome to Fitness Friday!

I’m dedicating every Friday to something fitness related whether it be training, event related, nutrition or just a topic I find interesting. I’m also going to answer any questions you ask. You can ask through this blog or just email me at runnersami[at]hotmail[dot]com.

I’ve been interesting in fitness all my life. About ten years ago, I got really serious about being healthy and since then have done research on the best ways to accomplish that. It’s always a work in progress as I am constantly learning new ways to be fit, but I’m happier and healthier than I have ever been. Fitness isn’t just about working out and staying in good physical shape, it’s about making sure all aspects of your life are healthy. That means keeping mentally, emotionally and spiritually fit too.

I will also be posting any pertinent links to articles, websites or events in my blog on Fridays as I find them.

This week, as we are entering into a very popular time of year to run races, especially marathons and half-marathons, I wanted to post a few food runs that I found in Fitness magazine that I thought were funny.

1. Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon – October 2,, Run the half and stay for the after-party during Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival.

2. Hershey Half Marathon – October 3,, For all those chocoholics who need a little incentive to run there’s a Chocolate Aid station that helps you reach the finish line.

3. Portland Marathon – October 10,, Grab a cold pint at mile 21, then run at your own risk. This city boasts 32 breweries which makes for a perfect race location for beer lovers.

4. Krispy Kreme Challenge – February 2011,, The most vomit-inspired race I’ve ever heard of – runners head from the NC State University Memorial Bell Tower to the nearest Krispy Kreme (2 miles), devour a DOZEN, then head back in under an hour – YIKES!

Have you ever heard of any weird races or run in one?

Until next Fitness Friday – Runner Sami

More Running Swag that Rocks!

Ever drive down the street in the middle of summer and see some crazy runner pounding the asphalt, waves of heat radiating off the road, buckets of sweat pouring down the poor person’s face? Yup – that’d be me!

But I’m not alone in my humid sadomasochism. Thousands of runners young and old, small and large, men and women, join me around the globe in this ritual. You’ll see us chugging along your streets, kicking dirt up on trails, climbing mountains, and careening down gravel paths on a daily basis. And runners don’t just wait until that perfect sixty degree spring or fall day when the air is crisp and dry and the birds are chirping happy Snow White songs. Nope, even the animals stay inside on days that runners are out, getting in their weekly mileage so they’re not set back in their training goals for that big 5k or half-marathon or marathon or (God help them) the ultra-marathon. From the bitter cold of winter to the hundred degree humidity of the east coast summers, runners brave the elements to reach their goals.

What goal can be worth all that pain, you may ask. That suffering?

Why, we do it for the great swag of course!

Before you think I’m being dirty, swag (also written as schwag) is what runner’s call the sweet rewards that they are given for either a) participating in a race and/or b) finishing said race.

Here are some races you may want to check out if only for the loot:

Lake Balboa Watermelon Run 5k, Van Nuys, CA – First 100 finishers will win a whole watermelon, while all participants get a sweet slice upon finishing. A perfect summer prize!

Oktoberfest 5k, Bethlehem, PA – Runners chose their own start and race to each participating bar along the course. Runners each receive a mug, race t-shirt, and beverages after the race.

Squaw Valley Mountain Run, Lake Tahoe, CA – Another steep run ends in a reward of beer, bagels, cookies, and a country rock-band.

For more races, check out the Runner’s World website. And don’t forget to stay hydrated before, during and after your run!

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Pinching the Cup: My Five Top Tips for Beginning Runners

I don’t come from a family of runners. In fact, when I run races they tend to scoff. Why on earth, they say, would anyone want to run on Thanksgiving morning? And when I ran my longest distance last year at the Philadelphia Broad Street Run – a 10-miler – and I told them my time, my mom asked why I stopped to pee as this added to my time and my brother said he could run that race faster than I did. Ah, families.

But I love my family (I mean, what family is perfect?), so I smile and  my girlfriend defends my honor (my hero!). All these factors made it that much sweeter when my sister called me a couple of days ago and said she wanted to run a race with me – and, after I picked my jaw and cell off the floor where it had fallen from my hand in shock, I said I would love to!

My sister has had two children and is on a mission to get fit. She had been lifting weights, but wanted to add some cardio into her routine. Wanting a goal and a way to shock the other members of our family (more on that in a minute) she asked me to run a 5k with her. Her idea is this: We both register for a race that the rest of the family can attend. I tell them to come out and cheer me on, then she shows up, suited up in running attire, and shocks, awes, and amazes the fam with her first 5k run.

Like Sarah, I think that many people start running later in life. Many want to try it, but don’t know where to start. I wanted to post something that would help those interested in lacing up for the first time get moving.

Here are my Five Top Tips for Beginning Runners:

1. Start slow – For any runner running too fast, too far, too often will not only injure you, but it will burn you out mentally and emotionally and most likely prevent you from wanting to continue with your running mission. My advice is to start with a walk/run combo. Gradually increase the run to walk ratio until you can run at a comfortable (ie. not labored breathing) pace for 5min. Increase the amount you run/pace you run by NO MORE than 10% each week as you feel comfortable.

2. Stretch – I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to do this! Stretching improves your flexibility and helps to keep you injury-free. For some great stretches click HERE.

3. Cross Training (XT) and Rest Days – I am a big proponent of incorporating both XT and Rest days into your running regime. Doing this allows for your muscles to have ample time to recover as well and strengthen muscles in a variety of ways. My favorite XT activities are biking, which is great for the legs and has helped me become a stronger runner, and weight lifting – especially those that will strengthen your core as this is most likely to make you a stronger runner and keep you injury free. BONUS: The more you build muscles, the more fat you burn when you do cardio activities. For some clutch weight lifting exercises click HERE.

4. Diet – Whether you are interested in running for weight loss or because you enjoy being active, your diet is an important key to becoming a successful runner. You’ve probably heard of “carb loading” before a race, but make sure you test what foods work best with your system BEFORE the night before the race. Every body is different and will respond to different foods as such. Meals high in fiber the day before (or the morning of) are never a good idea. HERE are some eating suggestions, but the best advice I can give is to try what works best with your body and go with that.

5. Gear and Guides – As with starting any new activity you can become inundated with information and “helpful” suggestions. From shirts to shoes to shorts, the apparel for runners is vast. Then you get into accessories with reflectors,GPS watches, water belts, and sunglasses. It can be overwhelming! Here’s what you should do: Find your local running store, tell them you’re a beginning runner, and start asking questions. The vast majority of people you will talk to will be runners themselves and know the answers to a lot of your questions. (DO NOT go to those grotesquely huge “sports” store to ask as they will not be helpful) Local running stores will often have postings of group runs or individuals looking for running partners if that is something that interests you.

The only item that is a necessary part of healthy running is a good pair of running shoes. These you can get at your local running store as well. Every foot is different and thus everyone needs a different type of shoe. This is one of those occasions where you should spend the extra money (ballpark $100) for a quality shoe as these will help you become a better runner and keep you injury-free. For additional questions I always turn to Runner’s World – both the website and the magazine (most libraries carry subscriptions) have a lot of great advice.

And – some parting words of wisdom – DON’T FORGET TO PINCH THE CUP! Hydration whenever you run is key and most 5k races (and ALL races farther than that) will have water stations along your route. Here’s the key that another runner told me after much water dribbling on my part – If you pinch the cup in half, it creates a smaller opening allowing you to drink and get hydrated while not pouring the majority of it down the front of your shirt. Sweet!

Happy running my friends!

Race Swag

I have to admit that one of the first items I look at when I’m interested in a race is the free swag that comes with it. Most races will give an article of clothing just for signing up. This usually is a cotton T-shirt that most runners wouldn’t wear to run and thus sits in a drawer waiting to be: A. donated to the Salvation Army, B. made into a “T-shirt quilt” that they’re always advertising in the back of Runner’s World magazine, or C. “I’ll wear it at some point!” While these shirts are cute with the logo and the race sponsors splattered all over it, if it does happen to fit me, which doesn’t happen very often, I’d be more apt to wear it as a bedtime T-shirt.

Other items that can be attained merely by signing up are: nifty pens with sponsor logos, coupons from sponsors, a keychain complete with sponsor logo, or any number of unusable “sponsor” junk that I feel bad for throwing away due to my environmental conscientiousness yet foresee no use for ever and thus it sits until I toss it in a bag for the Salvation Army certain that someone somewhere has a use for a can opening, staple removing, letter opening, rope cutting keychain. And, yes, that was in my last not-so-goody bag from my last 5k race .

Occasionally the shirt given will be a technical shirt. These are great if they fit. A technical running shirt is one that is made specifically with a runner’s needs in mind and is often made of wicking material that takes sweat away from your body without over-saturating your shirt (like a cotton one would). I have only received one of these in all the races I have run and although I received a small it must have been geared toward a man because it was way too big.

My favorite race swag has to be the pint glass and the finisher’s medal.

I collect pint glasses and use them at home all the time. My cupboards are mostly filled with ones I’ve procured from pubs and breweries, but I do have two race glasses as well. They are both labeled with the race logo and the date and are extremely cool. I use these more than any other glasses I own as it’s like a pat on the back every time I’m reminded of these races I have accomplished.

A lot of races, but not all unfortunately, will give some sort of finisher’s medal once a runner has crossed the finishing line. At my last race it was simply one of those ribbons that one might get for winning an elementary school contest. My favorite ones however (and are usually given at larger, longer races) are the clunky ones that have a brightly colored ribbon tied to the top and the race stamped into it. I’ve seen very elaborate ones that are even painted and look even more impressive.

And of course I can’t forget the spread provided for runner’s after the race. Usually the longer the race the better the grub after with the usual fare being an assortment of bagels, bananas, apples, oranges, and water.

Some races will even advertise according to the swag that they offer!

Mississippi Blues Marathon – engraved harmonica and a CD featuring local blues artists

Midwinter Cruise 5K – Pancake breakfast afterwards

Texas Half & 5K – Breakfast burritos and beer  afterwards

Missoula Marathon – Cloth goody bags, shirts made from bamboo and recycled polyester

Whether you choose a race by the swag it offers or just for the race experience itself, there is a wonderful uniqueness about each race that will certainly leave you will a lifetime of memories.