Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Is it too easy to qualify for Boston?

Lately, this question has been popping up all over the running community: Are the qualifications for the Boston Marathon too easy?

Specifically, this has been mentioned when it comes to the women's qualifying times.

This year, the Boston Marathon sold out in a record eight hours, something that has never happened in the history of the nations oldest marathon. For those trying to sign up, the site was crashing, and many articles like this one, predicted the never before seen issues.

Here are the qualifying standards, according to the marathon's website:
Age GroupMenWomen
18-343hrs 10min3hrs 40min
35-393hrs 15min3hrs 45min
40-443hrs 20min3hrs 50min
45-493hrs 30min4hrs 00min
50-543hrs 35min4hrs 05min
55-593hrs 45min4hrs 15min
60-644hrs 00min4hrs 30min
65-694hrs 15min4hrs 45min
70-744hrs 30min5hrs 00min
75-794hrs 45min5hrs 15min
80 and over5hrs 00min5hrs 30min

As most of you know, I'm not a fast runner, not at all, and frankly, I hope I'm in good shape when I'm 80+ because then maybe, just maaaaaybe, I'll be able to qualify.

I think, the standards are difficult, rigorous, and are a great goal for many runners. Each year, Boston allows 26,800 runners to race, out of a whole world with runners, that seems like a select few.

As stated in the article linked above, running marathons has also become more popular. I'm not sure where they're finding these stats, sure, I'm into running, so I notice more interest, but that's because three years ago, the only way I was running is if someone was chasing me with a knife.

So, I have to know, what do YOU think? Do you think the women's standards for the Boston Marathon give them an unfair advantage? Do you think that women should really get more time? Many out there are saying that there's no "physical evidence" women need more time, or that men have no physical advantage over them (anyone who has EVER watched a WNBA game may tend to disagree with this).

Also, I wanted to announce the winner of the POM Giveaway...

Sarah at Fat Little Legs!

Sarah's entry #2, saying she was a follower of the blog was picked by Random.org. Sarah, please contact me with your e-mail address, so we can exchange contact information.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Wedding Planner

This was SUCH a great weekend. You'd think I'd be having vacation let down after getting back from SF, but not here!

To start, I was able to attend the "One Bite, One Decision" get together put on by Jen over at Prior Fat Girl.

Jen, who organized the event

The event was a lot of fun, and provided some great resources. First off, Stacy from Kitchenwerks talked to us about grocery shopping, how to read nutrition labels and making the right choices. What shocked me most about her presentation, was when she showed how much sugar people can eat without even noticing. She said that for every four grams of carbs in an item, equals 1 teaspoon of sugar, and that adds up fast!!

Processed CRAP!

Also, Mary Langfield, who is a Lifestyle and Wellness Coach, joined us to talk about self image and why we're always looking at the worst in ourselves! I mean seriously, don't we?? I made myself change just that morning before the event, because I thought my arms looked like sausages stuffed in casings in the shirt I had planned to wear. Anyway, Mary spoke about how emotions like this are a reason a lot of people have an unhealthy relationship with food and lead to binges, unbalances diets, etc.

We also received a great goody bag before we left the event with items designed to help us on our healthiness journey. I'm so excited about them!

Apparently Cooper was too!

The remainder of Saturday, I had the pleasure of coordinating Chris and Kaitlin's wedding at Pracna at St. Anthony Main in Minneapolis. If you remember, I have a side business doing event planning, called Events by Alexa. The website is a work in progress, but the business is full speed ahead!

As you can see by the pictures above, they're a fabulous and fun couple. Chris and I worked together at the University of Minnesota, he was really the only friend I made while working there, and I'm so glad we've kept in touch! Now, meeting Kaitlin, she's just as fabulous, so I knew their wedding would be great.

Their wedding was so personal, I loved it! From their unique photobooth with props, to delicious cupcakes from Cake Eater Bakery, and having it in the Northeast Neighborhood of Minneapolis, that they love so much.

Also, Kaitlin had a very distinct vision of masses of various sized candles adorning their tables in the dining room. I was a bit nervous about executing her vision exactly how she wanted it, but she loved it, and I thought it looked beautiful!

Also, one of the guests kept referring to me as "Fronk" like the Wedding Coordinator Martin Short played in Father of the Bride, soooo funny! They had a great crowd of family and friends too. =)

So, like I said, all in all, a great weekend!!

Don't forget to enter my POM Give Away, it goes until tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. You'll get a fabulous POM gift pack with many of their varieties, and a few other extra goodies for you!

Friday, October 22, 2010

POM Give Away

This past week I got some great new products in the mail from the people at POM Wonderful, including a variety of their POMx Teas and POMx Iced coffees, I was pumped! I've tried their products before, and thought they were delicious. Plus, lately I saw a 35 Calorie version of their tea at Whole Foods, but, not going to lie, was hesitant to buy the 16 oz. bottle of it, with the $3.99 price tag. Sure, it's healthier for me than pop, but I could get three bottles of pop for that price!

I found that the regular teas, at 80 calories a serving, are delicious, but are more of a sipping drink, as they can get to be a bit too much in the sweetness category if you try to drink the whole bottle in one sitting.

The 35 calorie teas are much more manageable, and not as overpowering on the taste buds, but are still great for being cut up into two servings to drink. The price tag then seems more worth it to me, when you know you'll get two separate servings out of the bottle.


I did find, that the 2mg of Caffeine per serving was the perfect amount for a morning pick me up, not too much to make me jittery, but enough to get me going. This is the perfect choice for a fresh, lower calorie than a latte, morning choice!

Speaking of morning coffee, Ben tried the Vanilla POMx Coffee, and said it tasted great!

So, without further delay, here's your chance to try out some POMx Tea and Coffee with a POM Gift Pack!

Here's are the ways you can win:

1. Link this giveaway on your twitter with the following, "@AlexaTC is sponsoring a @POMxTea & @POMxIcedCoffee giveaway. Check it out! http://tinyurl.com/22mtnxb" then, leave me a comment with a link to your tweet.

2. Post a link to this give away on your blog and leave a comment with a link to your blog

3. Tell me what your "go-to" drink of choice is to sip on. Whether it be, water, coffee, Diet Coke, whatever!

4. Become a follower of my blog, and leave a comment saying you follow (or already were a follower).

5. Check out http://www.pomwonderful.com/ and tell me what of their products you want to try!

So, there are FIVE separate ways you can win!

Here is the fine print: This giveaway is open U.S. Residents only. Entries must be received by Monday, October 25, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. Central Time. A random winner will be announced by Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. Central Time and the winner have until Friday, October 29, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. Central to contact me, otherwise a new winner will be chosen.

**POM provided me with this product free of charge, but the opinions are all mine. They did not compensate me in anyway.**

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nike Women's Marathon Recap

I am coming to you today, a marathoner, and I can't believe it, I really can't. The whole experience still makes me weak in the knees (literally and figuratively) and thinking of the moments that lead up to crossing the finish line makes me both smile, and grimace.

My friend Ashley asked me to describe to her over e-mail the marathon in short, and here is what I sent her:

First 5K: Euphoric
Next 8 Miles: wanting to scream at half marathoners and walkers who didn't have any etiquette
Miles 13-15: Good, course clearing up
Mile 16-19: Down pour, hit wall, think it's never going to end
Mile 20: Realize, I'm really going to do this, get SO excited
Mile 21: They give you chocolate, nuff said
Mile 22-24 More rain, but feeling great, mind vs. body fights with walking vs. running
24-26 Whole body hurts, want to die.
26.2 I'm in tears, I did it.

And that really does sum up this process. I started the race with Breck from Indianapolis. We met through the Nike Women's Marathons facebook page.

She was running alone too, and we said no matter what we'd start together since we are a similar pace.

Breck and I at 6:15 a.m. ready to race!

Having her at the starting line with me was the best thing EVER. We stood there fore nearly 45 minutes waiting to take off, and sang along to the DJ, made small talk, and kept each others nerves at bay. We ended up running the first four miles together, and it was great.

The first 5-10K, I kept saying over and over again, "I'm running a marathon!!" people were smiling and laughing at me, as I said it, but I could tell they were thinking it too. My friend Megan who completed the Twin Cities marathon two weeks earlier said she had the same thoughts, and it carried her through those first few miles.

Mile Six Smiles

The next few miles were frustrating because we were on the same course as the half-marathoners, which can be fine, but many of them didn't have very good race etiquette. The Nike Women's Marathon is a race for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and a lot of Team In Training members participate in it.

Although, I think it's a great cause, they really make this "their" event, having their cheer coaches darting in and out of the course, a forming lines of both runners and walkers that sometimes span nearly the whole course. This can be really frustrating when you're having to speed up and slow down, and spend energy weaving in and out of people.

My advice to any new racers: if you walk any part of the race, do it on the right side. The race course works just like the interstate, faster people pass on the left.

Once the half-marathoners cleared, it felt good, but I also started to think of how I still had so many miles ahead of me. I met a few women along this way, who helped keep me head clear. It's amazing the way you form these friendships on the course just from the single, difficult journey you're doing at the same time. I'll most likely never see these people again, and don't remember their names, but I'm grateful for how they helped me get me through.

Around Mile 15 the mist and sporadic rain drops that had been hitting us turned into an all out down pour. It was at this time, that I hit that "wall" you always hear about. It all started when I reached for one of my chews, and my fingers and arms were so numb, I couldn't get a grip on it, and it went tumbling to the ground. I nearly lost it, it was cold, I had given my removable sleeves to Ben at mile six when I was hot, but now I was freezing, and wet, and the distance in front me seemed never ending.

Then at Mile 16, I saw Ben and our friend Stephanie and I lost it. Tears streaming down my face I said, "this is SO HARD," as they swiftly walked next to me and I asked him for my sleeves back. Ben was very reassuring though saying, "Ten miles is all you have left, ten miles, you've done that so many times, and it's all mainly flat from here, it's all down hill from here Alexa, I know you can do this." Stephanie chimed in with a "you're amazing, you're running a marathon!" and I knew I had to buck up and keep going, after all, there wasn't a choice here.

A man even tried to offer me salty foods when he saw my tears, thinking I was hurt, or cramping and in a very honest moment I blurted out between sobs "It's all up here!" while pointing at my head, and I knew I was right.

The rest of the route, I just kept thinking of how far I'd come, and how easy it would be to quit, but that I didn't want to take the easy route. Someone had a sign that said, "Pain is Temporary, Pride is Forever," and it rung in my mind over and over again.

I saw Ben and Stephanie again right before mile 20 and they were relieved to see I had a smile on my face.
Just before Mile 20, sleeves back on, saving me!

Ben and Stephanie and the great poster she made me!

Those last six+ miles is when my body started to really hurt, my Achilles tendon on the left side began to ache. My feet were blistering due to my soaked shoes, my hips felt stiff, and my arches seemed to want to collapse, but all I could think of was how I had to see that finish line. Even the nausea I had felt since mile 15 felt like nothing compared to how my joints were feeling at this point.

But, it was thinking of my support system that got me to this race, that really helped get me through.

I thought of how my friend Wendy had met me nearly every Saturday to run some of my long run miles with me, how could I ever tell her that all all that running those early mornings was for nothing, and that I just quit?

I thought of my friend Katy, running the NYC marathon in mere weeks, I couldn't DNF before her marathon, I needed to help her keep on believing for her race.

I thought of how my 55+ mother-in-law runs the Boston marathon, and if she can raise four kids and run that fast, I can finish a marathon in the allotted 6.5 hours.

And so, I did. I saw the finish, and my husband both at the same time. And being the wonderful man he is, he ran me in as far as the course workers would let him. I choked up repeating to him that I loved him, as he kept telling me how proud he was of me.

Ben running next to me in Boise State Orange

About 200 feet from the finish line, they kicked Ben off the course, but I ran through the finish, hands in the air. Then, in the true spirit of the Nike Women's Marathon, a tuxedo clad fireman handed me my Tiffany finishers necklace while I cried and I cried and I cried.

The finishers shoot was a blur, I found out they ran out of this year's Tiffany Necklace, and I got an old one, and would be mailed a new one, "No problem, I'm done running" is all I thought. I knew I was in a daze, as being the queen of free stuff, I didn't even really stop to get all I could. Volunteers threw random Kashi bowls and pineapple juice cans in my bag as I thought, "where's the bag check? must. get. dry. clothes."

That day, I swore up and down that I had made my peace with the marathon, that was it, I had finished one, never again. But, yesterday, upon seeing Breck at the airport, we got to talking and she said, "I think marathons are like having babies, you forget the pain after awhile, and remember the glory and want to do it all over again a few times." The weird part is...I'm starting to think she's right... but for now, I'll just concentrate on being able to sit and stand without grimacing.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An Icy Hot Winner

I know there are a lot of products on here that I go on and on about, whether they're give aways or not, today, I can't tell you enough how much I love Icy Hot Patches.

Yes, call me an old person, but Icy Hot, specifically the patches, have saved me this past couple of weeks. I've used them in the past for minor pain, but for my hip, they have been magical. You don't have to worry about the Icy Hot Substance sticking to your body. In fact, today I slapped one on my hip right under my trouser pants, and went on my merry way to work, and my hip felt phenomenal all morning, no mess, no fuss. And, they don't have that menthol smell as bad, so no one really knows you're sporting the Icy Hot!

And, speaking of products, we have a winner for the Newman's Own Organics give away. The winner is...

Ruby Leigh!!

Ruby Leigh said, "One thing I accomplished in 2010 was running 10 miles - never expected that."

That is such an amazing accomplishment Ruby Leigh; congratulations!! Leave a comment, or DM me with your info, and I'll be sure to get you your pack of organic goodness.

Also, it turns out, I was referring to the WRONG Newman's Own on my previous post, there are two with very similar names, who knew?!
To find out information on the products we taste tested (and loved) for this give away check out this Newman's Own Organics website.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Newman's Own Give Away

This past week, Cindy and I from Heart Healthy Journey decided to have a healthy taste testing night with some Newman's Own Samples I received. Newman's Own was set up by the late Paul Newman, and was supposed to be a small company, designed to sell food in it's truest form.

Well, as most of you know, it's now a huge company, with that same mission, but available in most everyday grocery stores to make eating organic easy.

Cindy and I tried out many of their goods last week, and as most of us know, eating organic doesn't always mean you're eating healthy, but we found some really good choices, that eaten in moderation, would be great!

Cindy loved the pretzels with goat cheese and honey!

I have a soft spot for the mint sandwich cookies, that although not the best choice, are a better choice in moderation than other sandwich cookies filled with lots of artificial crap. I love to enjoy two of these cookies, crumbled up with a chocolate mint Jello pudding cup, yum!
There were so many varieties of food that I didn't even know that Newman's Own made, like licorice, mints, rice cakes, etc. And most of what Cindy and I tried was really good, especially the licorice!

Now, here's your chance to win a prize package from Newman's Own! Check out these goods that are up for grabs!

How you can win:

1. Link this giveaway on your twitter with the following, "@AlexaTC is sponsoring a Newman's Own give away to stock your shelves with Organic goods, check it out! http://tinyurl.com/2799rfc" then, leave me a comment with a link to your tweet.

2. Post a link to this give away on your blog and leave a comment with a link to your blog

3. Visit http://www.newmansown.com/index.aspx and tell me which of their foods you would like to try.

4. Become a follower of my blog, and leave a comment saying you follow (or already were a follower).

5. Leave a comment telling me one thing you accomplished so far in 2010 that you never thought you'd be able to do.

So, there are FIVE separate ways you can win!

Here is the fine print: This giveaway is open U.S. Residents only. Entries must be received by Monday, October 11, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. Central Time. A random winners will be announced on Tuesday, October 12, 2010 and the winners have until Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. Central to contact me, otherwise a new winner will be chosen.

**Newman's Own did not pay me to make this review, but provided me with these products free of charge to keep or give away at my own discretion. All reviews are my unbiased opinion.**

Monday, October 4, 2010

Oh NO they didn't!!

Bring it on New York!!

'Nuff Said.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tastes of the Season

It's officially fall, the calendar says, and the crisp, non-humid air says it too. Fall is my favorite time of year in Minnesota, it goes by so quickly, but I love wearing sweaters, but still not needing a coat, along with putting on fun hats or scarfs to keep the chill out and add a little oompf your outfit. However, my favorite part of fall, is the food.

Some people dream of Thanksgiving turkey, summer strawberries or Christmas cookies. I long for the days of fresh squash, juicy apples, and warm drinks, yum!

It all usually starts on September 1st when Starbucks puts out their Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL). No other coffee shop's drinks compare to this delicatessen, even when they try to imitate it.
Wrapping my hands around a warm PSL, and smelling the sweet cinnamon and spice that wafts off the steamed milk, is a true treat. Plus, getting a skim PSL, with no whip, won't ruin your diet.

Enjoying a Pumpkin Spice Latte this week!

Apples will always mean fall to me. From going to get fresh apples from the orchard growing up, to peeling and chopping them to freeze and save to make my mom's delicious apple pie squares at Thanksgiving, the smell of warm apples in the oven is one of the best parts of fall. I'm now a big Apple Crisp cook, because it's just so easy. Here's my go to recipe that I found on About.com years ago, and comes out delicious every time.

This week, I made a great fall recipe found on Girl Meets Life's webpage, Pumpkin Streusel Muffins. I know that you can get canned pumpkin all year long and make these muffins, but really, they're only fitting in fall. They turned out delicious, check them out!
I even got rave reviews from friends on these muffins!

Do you have any fall foods you get excited for??