Run Club!!

A little more than a year ago I was so excited to become an ambassador for lululemon athletica.  It has really been an amazing experience for me.  As a result of this part of my journey in running and life, I have met the MOST wonderful people who truly encourage and inspire me in a multitude of ways.

One of my responsibilities – and really privileges – as an ambassador for this incredible company is that I lead a run club every week.  Most lululemon run clubs meet at the local store, but the store I work with is in a giant shopping mall (i.e., not anywhere near a trail or safe place to run) so instead we meet at the Pilates studio I teach at (Reston Pilates – which also happens to be owned by my sister Jodi!).  It is really perfect because Pilates is such a fantastic thing for runners (and really, for anyone!) in that it promotes flexibility, corrects imbalances and builds strength – and it is gentle enough to do every day.  We meet on Sunday mornings at 8:30 and start every session with a quick 15-20 minute mat class before hopping on the W&OD trail (which happens to be my favorite trail and is basically right out the door of the studio) for a run.

run club – it’s always a good time

How much, how far or how fast we run really varies from week to week depending on who shows up and what they’re up for.  We usually have a really great mix of new runners, walkers, walk/runners, seasoned marathoners and everything in between.  No matter what, we always have a solid group of people who want to run at a comfortable, conversational pace and enjoy the fresh air and company while moving their bodies.  I am so lucky to be a part of this.

We are also getting together on Monday nights!  We meet at the studio around 6pm – decked out with headlamps and wearing layers because of the cooler weather – and usually run for about an hour at whatever pace people are up for.  I teach a one hour Pilates mat class every Monday night at 7:30pm so it is just the perfect warm up before the class.  I love it oh so much!!

me & amy after an evening run!

If you live in the area I would love for you to come join us any time!  You don’t need to RSVP, its completely free and you don’t even really need to be a runner!  It is tons of fun and just a great way to meet people and get some exercise.

Have you ever joined a group run like this?  Have you ever thought about starting a run club?  I encourage you do one or the other – it is tons of fun!

lululemon ~ Run: Shorty Short

Also known as: the BEST racing shorts on the planet.
lululemon shorty shorts: i heart you
I should start this review off by telling you one important thing about me – I am NOT a short short type of girl.  In my non-running wardrobe, short shorts simply don’t exist.  I prefer longer shorts or really actually long skirts and dresses.  I’ve pretty much always been that way.
When it comes to running, FUNCTION trumps fashion.  One of the (many) reasons why I LOVE lululemon is that I feel good in their clothes.  I feel strong.  I feel fast.  And what’s better is I don’t have to sacrifice my love for fashion when I’m sweating it out in their apparel and accessories.  I can still feel somewhat put together even if I smell stinky.
And this is extra good because most days I run early in the morning before the sun comes up and when I get home to my busy family I don’t have time to shower and change right away – this falls WAY down on my list of priorities.  I have to start making breakfast and getting everyone dressed and ready for the day ahead.  Usually I won’t find the time to shower and change until late in the afternoon during the baby’s nap, or maybe not even until the evening before I go to bed.  That is just the way it goes for a busy mom of three.
As an ambassador for lululemon, I like to try as much of the running apparel as I can, so that I’m able to give honest opinions and advice about the performance and use of what is available.  I will tell you there are things I wear for some kinds of runs, that I won’t wear for others.  There are some things that I wear all the time for nearly every run (the Cool Racerback tank – it’s perfect in the summer but also a great layering piece in the winter) and some I wear just every now and then when the weather calls for it (like the Run: In the Rain jacket — perfect for a cold soaking wet day).
I love my lululemon running skirts.  Before trying them last summer, I was NOT a skirt girl.  But I found that they were incredibly light and comfortable – absolutely perfect for all the extreme sweatiness and stinkiness that occurs during the sweltering hot humid DC summers.  One of my favorite things about the skirts is the short shorts built into them – they are light and comfortable and they have a strip of grippy silicone along the edge of the legs that keeps them from riding up and causing chafing.  I wore my skirts for every run last summer and always felt confident and strong in them.
loving the skirt
I’ll be honest, I tried the skirt at first because I had a hard time finding shorts (at lululemon or anywhere else!) that I felt good in and wanted to run long or race in.  I love the Speed Short and the Turbo Run Short, but prefer them for shorter runs and especially at the track or on the treadmill.  I have to feel good in order to perform at my best, and what I’m wearing  — matters.
For a long time I wished that lululemon would make a pair of shorts that I could wear and feel as good in as I do when I’m in their skirts.  I wanted them to make a pair of shorts just like the ones built into their skirts, only with a bit thicker fabric.  And then, this Spring, they granted that wish to me when they created the Run: Shorty Short.  This was the short of my dreams.  Just in time for my marathon.  I bought them right away and wore them to test them out – they were perfect.
I wore them for my marathon and I am SO glad that I did.  They are designed with the marathoning woman in mind – tons of pockets (seven!!) to store your gels and music and anything else you might need.  The silicone gripping keeps them in place — ZERO chafing even on a hot day.  No riding up.  At all.
There is even silicone along the pockets so that your top stays in place.  I love that.  Such a good idea.
I’ll say it again – genius!
I used to think that this type of short just wasn’t for me.  Only “fast” girls wore short shorts.  And I didn’t think of myself as fast.  In order to wear these shorts I had to believe in myself.  I had to BELIEVE I was fast.  Running and racing in these shorts is symbolic to me of the confidence and strength I’ve discovered in myself through my running.
Something about these shorts makes me feel fast.  And when you FEEL fast – you ARE fast.

captured on camera

Being an ambassador for lululemon is an honor and a privilege.  I am so grateful to represent this company for many reasons.  The apparel and accessories are made with excellent care using the highest quality fabrics and materials.   Beyond that though, I am inspired by their message and I try to embody it in the way that I live my daily life.  I am so thankful and proud to be a part of the lululemon community and it has been tons of fun to work with them over the last few months.

answer : YES!

Whether it’s leading run club, visiting the store to check out the latest new products, spreading the word about this wonderful company and all that it offers, meeting and being inspired by other local ambassadors or training and racing in my favorite gear — I am loving every minute of it.

And it doesn’t stop there.  A couple of months ago I had a photo shoot with the amazingly talented photographer Jonathan Thorpe.  The purpose of this shoot was to take pictures of me doing what I love (running on a trail) in the clothing that I love, just like I do all the time.  The picture would then be blown up to larger-than-life size and hung on the walls of the Tysons Corner store.   Because the walls of lululemon stores are not covered in touched-up pictures of fashion models.  They are instead decorated with un-edited pictures of real people in your community.  Pictures of real people doing what they love.  Real people who are truly passionate about their sport.  I happen to think this is truly awesome.

Will somebody pinch me, please!?

I seriously even still cannot believe this.  The photo shoot was tons of fun.  We went to one of my favorite spots – the beautiful Burke Lake Park in Fairfax, VA.  It was a frigid day – sooo cold – so I wore my black running tights with reflective sparkles, the Swiftly Tech long sleeve shirt in Paris Pink and layered my favorite Cool Racerback tank underneath that.  This is basically my running “uniform” this winter – I wear a version of this for nearly every single winter run.

It was tricky to be photographed running – I ran up and down a small hill over 100 times, no joke.  I am not used to this kind of thing and am sure I was not the easiest athlete to work with.  But Jonathan is insanely talented, extremely nice, patient on a saintly level, as professional as they come and totally fun.  He helped me relax about it and did his thing.  Aside from some shots where I was appalled at my heel striking and a little weirded out by my facial expressions, I am really really happy with the way the pictures turned out.

The other day I was in the store and as soon as I walked in I saw it – the giant picture of me running – hanging on the walls.  I swear to you I will never get tired of seeing it.  I will giggle every time I see it.  It makes me happy.

there I am!

It makes me happy because I hope that when people see it as they are shopping, they will see a woman (a 35 year old marathoning mom of three!) who lives in their community who is running and striving and dreaming and believing.  I hope they will look at it and that it will spark something inside of them.  That they will know that they are capable of whatever they set their minds to.  That it is worth it to take chances and follow their dreams.


I hope it will remind people of how good it feels to do what you love.  And that it is worth it to make the time for activities that build your strength, nurture your spirit, test your limits and help you grow.

Headband Reviews & A Giveaway!

As I mentioned the other day, I am *somewhat* of a picky person.  It can take me a while to find something that I like and when I do, I become a loyal and dedicated fan of it.  I’m sure many of you can relate.

I feel like I have tried every headband on the market.  Most of them have been complete failures for me, sliding back and falling out of my hair whether I’m running or not.  I became so frustrated with them that I actually gave up on headbands altogether until just a few months ago.

Then, this summer my friend Dorothy at Mile Posts did a review and giveaway of the Sparkly Soul headbands.  Dorothy happens to be a close friend of mine and I can vouch for the fact that she is equally as picky as I am, so when she told me that the Sparkly Soul headbands were awesome and that they would not slip out, I immediately ordered one for myself.

She was right.

Now I have several colors and have given them out as gifts to many people, including my sister Jodi.

Jodi and I at Army Ten Miler, sparkling with purple

My search for a headband that works for me ended there, and I didn’t really feel the need to try any new ones.

But then, the other day I was at lululemon and was introduced to a new headband that I was told I just **had** to try.  Everyone who works there swears by it.  And I trust these girls.  They have always given me honest advice and opinions about their products, steering me towards things that are designed for the kind of activities I do and cautioning me against things that are not made to perform at their best for what my purpose is.  So, when they told me that the Skinny Satin Pirouette Headband would not disappoint, I decided I would buy one and see for myself.

See that grippy stuff and the adjustable section?  Magic.  

This headband is really cute and simple.  It can be worn whether I’m running or not, so I figured that for the $12.00 it cost me, if it didn’t hold up to my running then it would at least be a cute accessory to add to my wardrobe.

But it did hold up to my running.  It is designed to do just that.  I am of the opinion that accessories like this work for some and not for others, when lululemon made this headband they designed it with that specifically in mind.  All the way around on the inside edge it has magic grippy stuff (I am sure there is a more professional way to say that, but whatever) so the headband stays put during the most rigorous and sweatiest of activities.  In addition, the headband is completely adjustable, so if you have a wide head or a long head or a teeny head, you can make it the right size for you.  Genius.

silky, satin and staying put

I’m brimming with joy over the simple fact that I now have several headbands that stay in my hair when I’m running (it’s the little things…).

I’m so excited about it in fact, that I’ve decided I want to give a Skinny Satin Pirouette headband to one of you!  Lululemon has not asked me to do this and I am not getting compensated for it in any way.  They also are not giving me a free headband to give away, I will be purchasing it at full price for this purpose.  I just want to be clear that I love the headband and I’m doing this because I want to do it.

So, that’s that.

All you have to do to enter is be a follower of my blog and leave a comment letting me know that you follow it!

For bonus entries, do the following and leave a separate comment for each, please:

  • Follow me on Twitter at @paceofme
  • Be a fan of my {new} Facebook page
  • Leave a comment sharing with me one of your very favorite never-fails-you running accessories

I’m going to accept entries through Monday, December 26th and will announce the winner on Tuesday, December 27th.

Also, right now Sparkly Soul is offering a 20% discount on orders placed before December 25th.  Just enter the coupon code HOLIDAY at checkout when you place your order!


my brain is all over the place

I have a growing list of things I want to write about, but it has been an insanely busy week and my “alone” time has been limited to late in the evenings or literally sitting in the car while the baby naps.  His sleep schedule is pretty messed up during the week.  With school drop-off and pick-up times for my two other children who go to different schools, he often naps in the car in the afternoons.  I’m looking forward to when he switches to one nap a day!

So, without further adieu, here is the list of things on my brain.  Warning – it is quite random.  I plan to elaborate on several of these items and actually dedicate posts to them soon, but here is a snippet:

Persimmon ~ My mother in law is an amazing gardner, cook and foodie extraordinaire.  She buys as much as she can from local farms and markets – not just foods but other products as well.  And then she knows how to cook it in the most delicious way possible.  Last week when we were visiting them for Thanksgiving, I noticed a new fruit sitting on her counter.  At first glance I thought it was some kind of  tomato, but it was a persimmon.  This is a fruit I had never tried before.  It was grown right in Virginia and tasted like a tropical fruit!  I think people in California get this all the time locally, but this is not something I ever knew grew in my home state of Virginia!  It was beautiful and absolutely DELICIOUS.  If you have never had persimmon before, go buy some.  And if you can get it locally, even better.

Virginia Persimmons

Racing Day is Tomorrow!! ~ Tomorrow I am running a new-for-me race – the DC Will Run for Chocolate 15k.  I’ve never raced this distance before.  Gotta love that – an automatic PR!  I have not been preparing for this race in any special way, as my marathon training officially begins tomorrow.  I’m still toying with my race strategy.  It is going to be a very crowded race and a cold, frosty morning.  I may decide to run it for fun and just stay with my running buddies, or I may decide I want to push myself and run it as fast as I can.  Not sure yet – but no matter what I plan to have a great experience and will look forward to all the hot chocolate at the finish line!  Also, I just have to say that I really love the below logo.  The shoes as marshmallows make me smile…

Photo Shoot ~ Part of being an ambassador for lululemon involves an outdoor photo shoot with a professional photographer.  The pictures will be on display in the store and are GIGANTIC, larger than life photographs.  I cannot believe there will be a big ME running in the Tysons Corner store!  I am so excited!  My photo shoot is scheduled for next week, so yesterday I went to the store and did a little shopping.  I want to wear something new for my pictures, something I feel awesome in.  It was hard to make choices because I mean it when I say I love everything in that store.  And yesterday there was a LOT of new stuff in the running line.  Ohmygoodness, I wanted it all.  I bought a few things to potentially wear in the photo shoot and I also bought some more Cool Racer Back tanks because there were just so many amazing colors and I wear them all.the.time, all year round ….

I haven’t decided yet what I’ll go with for the photo shoot yet – depends on the weather, etc – but I do know it will involve something PINK.  The new hot pink color in that store is making me soooooo happy.  More on this later! 

New Shoes ~ It is time for this runner to get some new running shoes.  During my last training cycle I started to feel not so great in my Asics Nimbus.  I have been wearing these shoes for a loooong time, like 10 years long.  I just figured “if it aint broke, don’t fix it” so every time I needed a new pair I just bought the same ones over and over again.  I think me and my Asics are through though.  They are heavier than I need them to be, they have more cushion than I need them to.  So earlier this week I visited with Meghan Ridgley at the =PR= store in Reston.  I tried on tons of shoes.  She watched me run on the treadmill.  I do not overpronate and can wear a neutral shoe and can also start wearing a shoe that is more minimal for some of my workouts and shorter distance races.  My plan is to get 2 new pairs of shoes – one that is a neutral shoe with less cushioning than the Nimbus and one that is a more minimal shoe.  She ordered a bunch of shoes for me to try and some of them are in today!  The ones I’m considering for neutral/less cushion are the Brooks Ghost and the Asics Gel Cumulus.  The minimal shoes I’m considering are the Brooks Pure Cadence, the New Balance 1400 and the Saucony Kinvara.  I’m giddy with excitement!! 

My 6 Year Old ~ A few weeks after the start of First Grade, my little girl Abby confided in me that she is in love with a boy in her class who we will call David.  It was perhaps the sweetest conversation I have ever had with my daughter.  She was precious.  She told me all about him, how handsome he is, how funny he is.  She couldn’t take the smile off her face as she spoke of him.  It was so adorable.  The other day Abby’s teacher walked Abby out of school at the end of the day.  Abby was hanging her head, something was wrong.  Her teacher explained to me (while trying not to smile) that Abby kissed two boys in school that day.  It wasn’t a big deal – she wasn’t in trouble – but it is not appropriate to kiss people in school.  A few minutes later when Abby and I were alone walking together, she burst into tears.  She told me she that didn’t know it was wrong – when you love someone, you kiss them! And she also clarified that she did NOT kiss two boys.  She kissed one – David – two times.  She asked me if we could invite David over for a play date some time.  So, I emailed his mom and told her about the “crush” and said that if David likes the idea, we would love to have him over one day after school.  She thought it was sweet and is going to check with him.  I really hope David likes the idea — fingers crossed.

Another thing about Abby is that this past week she lost her second top tooth.  She will be singing “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth” this year!  I love it.  It is amazing to me how different she looks without those teeth.  She is growing up so quickly before my eyes.  It is a beautiful thing to watch, and it scares me at the same time.  My little girl, oh how I love you…

Running Form ~ Before Thanksgiving vacation I went to a clinic hosted by =PR= all about proper running form.  It was excellent.  I took notes and pictures and plan to post about it here to share everything I learned.  I’m also going to a Chi Running workshop next weekend.  I have read the book and really believe that running tall and relaxed and with good posture is so important.  My hope is that I will learn more about how to apply this to my own running as well as to help others who I am coaching and teaching in the studio. 

Run Club! ~  On that note, the very first Run Club is this Sunday at 8:30AM!  I am so excited I can’t stand it.  We are meeting at the Reston Pilates studio and I will begin the session by teaching a modified beginner mat Pilates class.  Then we will hit the W&OD trail for a 40 minute out-and-back run.  All paces and experience levels are welcome and encouraged to bring friends!  If you are local, I would love to see you there!!  We will meet every Sunday so if this weekend doesn’t work for you, come again another week.  I am planning to run an easy pace and treat it as a recovery run this winter/spring as I will be doing my marathon training long runs on Saturdays this season. 

PICKY BARS are AMAZING ~ Ok, there will for sure be a separate post dedicated to this topic.  Very soon.  For now, I have to tell you though – I love Picky Bars because I think they taste amazing and also because they are made from the best ingredients.  I also love them because I am a picky eater and gluten and dairy upset my stomach.  Also my son has severe food allergies.  Among his most dangerous allergies are milk, peanuts and tree nuts.  Picky Bars makes a flavor called “Nutless Wonder” – it is free of all the things my son is allergic to.  A few weeks ago I sent an email to the company asking them about cross contamination.  Lauren Fleshman herself actually sent me a personal email with the most thoughtful, honest and thorough response.  I was floored.  Then, I placed another order of the bars and PayPal messed up my order – I never got it.  Lauren Fleshman emailed me again and gave me her cell phone number and asked me if I could call her.  Ummmm …. ok!?!  Before dialing her number I looked at my husband and grinned – oh my gosh I am about to call Lauren Fleshman. Yes, I know Picky Bars is a small company and she happens to be one of the two people who run it, but she is also an athlete and person who I truly admire in soooo many ways.  The fact that I was calling her – and then spoke with her on the phone for several minutes – was one of the most incredible things for me EVER.  Just thinking about it now makes me smile all geeky-like.  Can’t help it!

A new blog feature ~ I’ve been thinking about adding a new feature on my site.  The idea will be to show you guys different Pilates exercises and tell you how to do them and which muscles they strengthen and stretch.  I’m working on getting this together and have taken several photos of me and my sister and another teacher at our studio.  I’m wondering if videos might be more helpful though … what do you think?

me doing a half roll down

Okay … so for now that is it for the thoughts swirling around in my brain.  I will just leave you with a photo of where Oscar is hiding today.  It took Abby and Will a little longer to find him today.  They weren’t expecting him to be in the kitchen!  Here he is hanging on a spice rack…

Abby and Will came downstairs before I did and when I arrived they wanted me to try to find him.  We played “hot and cold” as I looked around for him, pretending I had no idea where he was.  They giggled uncontrollably as I looked in all the wrong places.  It was serious fun!

If you made it through this entire post – thanks for reading my randomness.  How are you this frosty Friday morning?  Any random thoughts swashling around in your brain?  I would love to hear about it!  Have a great weekend!!