My Heart Rate Monitor Search

March 20, 2013

Ever since I ran the Chicago Marathon back in October, I have been GPS-less while running. My Garmin died on me at mile 5 (ya, seriously), and I have yet to replace it. I was going to go ahead with the Garmin Forerunner 10 a few months ago, but kept holding off. It is Garmin’s no frills version of their watches – while that may work for some people, I felt like it was a little bit too minimal for me. And so the search continues…

I have to be honest – I haven’t been doing that much research on watches. I just know that I am not necessarily hooked on going with Garmin again. My watch was only a year and a half old, and just died out of nowhere. Not exactly what I want to have happen when I spend a good chunk of change on a sport specific watch. I am however, open to trying a new kind of device – more specifically, one with a heart rate monitor (HRM).

Training with a HRM boasts multiple benefits, including training smarter (not harder) as well as reaching your maximum training potential, which is something most people don’t even know they have. Everything from your age, body composition, and gait make up how fast you are going to run, so using a HRM is a very accurate way of pinpointing exactly what your body can (and can’t) take on a certain day. I have looked at a few GPS/HRM combos and would love your input as to which one I should get. My preference is something with strong battery life, lightweight, and has multiple sport settings.

Timex Ironman Run Trainer 2.0

 

Timex GPS & HRM

 

This watch has a nice, 8 hour battery life on full GPS, so even marathons can withstand use of the watch. There is also a really nice display that can be seen in high and low lighting, and interval timers –> I love those for workouts! This watch has audible and vibration alerts, which would be so awesome. Less looking at a watch is the best way to train, hands down. I haven’t head much about Timex GPS/heart rate watches, but I am very interested in this one! It was just released, so I would love to see some reviews and feedback on it.

Polar USA RCX3

 

 Polar HRM GPS

 

Polar, in my mind, is the leading heart rate monitor company. They are incredibly established, and were some of the first people in the HRM space. I like the sleek design, and the many features it offers as well – multiple sport function, instant feedback, and GPS function.

Garmin 110 with HRM

Garmin 110 HRM

 

This watch would probably be the least drastic change out of all the watches since I have had two Garmins in the past. This has the functions of my old Garmin, but also has the heart rate component. It is the lowest price our off all 3, but I am also a bit hesitant since my old watch died, and I don’t want that happening again.

Which one should I get??!! If you have any of these, I would love your feedback, along with likes/dislikes, etc. No matter how big or small, your opinion will greatly help!

One last thing….

Today marks 2 years since I married Marcus! It has been an amazing start to our marriage, and I fall more and more in love with him every day. I can’t believe how quickly this past year flew by and can’t wait for what the future holds! 2013 will be the best year yet.

Wedding 2

Wedding 27

Let me know about your tips for a great heart rate monitor. I could really use the help!

Florida Beaches Halfathon

March 18, 2013
Florida Halfathon

I’d say the luck of the Irish was with me this weekend! Only 3 weeks after my Gasparilla Half Marathon PR, I was able to get a new personal best in the Florida Beach Halfathon yesterday! I woke up around 5am and had a 45 minute drive ahead of me to Fort Desoto. It is one of my favorite beaches to go relax at for a beach day, and this would be my first time running a big race there (other than the Top Gun Triathlon last year). I met up with a few lovely ladies before the race, we chatted a bit about our race plans, and then all headed to the start.

Fort Desoto Halfathon

The race started exactly on time at 7:05am – always appreciated! I took off those first few miles a bit quick, much faster than I would have liked. I decided I might as well just try to hold on, and see how it went. Not exactly a race strategy, but I honestly had nothing to lose.

Florida Halfathon

I’ve been big about experimenting with my mental toughness lately, and this was a perfect way to test a few theories I have been working on. The sun was just rising as we went through the first 5k, which I loved! The beach (or the mountains!) is my favorite place to catch a sunrise, and Fort Desoto didn’t disappoint!

Fort Desoto Halfathon

The course is an out and back route. It’s scenic, flat, but pretty dang boring at that. I can just zone out and not really focus on what’s around me, so I didn’t mind. If you need things to keep your entertained, this isn’t the race for you. Spectators are minimal, and there are really only about 5-6 turns, including a few in a parking lot.

Florida Halfathon

I was keeping up fine with the fast pace, until I hit mile 6. I started to get a bit lazy, and was just in a rhythm that was starting to get stale. I had to dig down and snap myself out of my funk. Luckily, I was able to – in the past, I’ve definitely had a problem with this. I really do think that with the more races I run, the better I get at this point of the race. There really is a lot to be said about getting as much experience as possible racing, to race well.

The turn around was right before the 8 mile mark. We got a quick view of the sun glowing on Sunshine Skyway, and we headed back for the final stretch – the final stretch of 5 miles.

Florida Halfathon

 I was running with a solid pack of people for a good portion of the race. One woman decided to pass me at mile 9, so I went ahead and stuck on her hip for a couple of miles. I figured I might as well give it a shot, or I was probably going to fall off. At this point, the race was hard. I was pushing myself, but I was doing fine. Racing isn’t supposed to be easy. It is supposed to be rewarding, and I wanted the end reward!

I was able to stay with the same person like I wanted to, and eventually, I was able to pass her. A lot of people who start to kick too early get frustrated when they pass someone, and that person (me) is able to stay with them. It helped in this situation, as I didn’t see her again. The last 3 miles went by quick. I was picking people off and making them my target to pass. I was able to pass 4 very consistent female runners in the last 5k, and a countless number of male runners.

IMG_0538

 

I wasn’t able to speed up the last mile as much as I would have liked, but I literally gave it everything I had. I felt like I was absolutely sprinting the past 2k or so. It hurt, and I was incredibly ready to be finished at this point. Luckily, I had a couple tiny turns to go, and then the finish line was mine. I can only imagine how silly I looked during the last .1 of the race. I was sporting an ugly face for sure! But it was worth it – I earned myself some shiny new bling – my coveted reward!

IMG_0527

Florida Halfathon

And of course, since it was a festive occasions, the race organizers hooked us up with some goodies!

Florida Halfathon

Green beer! I only had a few sips because 1. I needed water 2. I’m not a huge beer fan, green or not. But it was still fun to have ;)

The rest of the girls finished a few minutes after I did, and nearly everyone earned a shiny new PR! Meg was nursing a hip injury, and I am pretty darn impressed that she pushed through the race. She was hurting but still was holding impressive splits. Meghan got her fastest time by almost a full 2 minutes, Megan (another one!) finished under 1:45, and Tori crossed the finish line in her first ever sub two-hour race!! There were smiles all around!

Florida Halfathon

Congrats on a big day for PR’s for everyone that raced this weekend. I saw a lot of fun tweets and updates announcing so much success this weekend – I’m looking at you Ashley, Theodora, and Anne! Wooo hooo!!

And for my finish time – the final results aren’t posted yet, but I did use my own watch that I started and stopped right when I crossed both the start and the finish line. I’ll take it ;0)

Florida Halfathon

 

How did you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Did you race? How did it go?

A Little Link Up

March 15, 2013

Anyone doing something fun and festive for St. Patrick’s Day this weekend? I am going to celebrate in the best way I know how – by running a half marathon!

Florida HalfathonThere is a race about 35 minutes away from me all decked out for St. Patty’s Day. The shirts are green, the medals boast four leaf clovers, and of course, its on Sunday. I’ve heard the course is less than stellar for scenery, but that it is flat and crazy fast. I’m excited to do a local half that’s new to me!

I had a hard time thinking of what to post today – the last few days there has been a lot of articles that I have read and loved. Rather than just focusing on one, I figured I would go ahead and share them with you with a little link up.

Exercise is supposed to relieve stress, right? For some, it does quite the opposite.

Exercise bad face

Google reader is going away as of July 1st. Have you thought of a new way to read all of your favorite blogs yet? Here are 12 Alternatives to your Google Reader. I plan to use Feedly. I really like the layout and everything is very easy to access.

Feedly

 

And if you are wondering how the heck to export your RSS feed to use in your Google Reader alternative, here is how:

Wish you could always work in a coffee shop? You can! Well, kind of….

Coffitivity

 

Treat employees like adults

There was a lot of controversy surrounding Marissa Mayer’s announcement banning Yahoo’s employees ability to work from home. I thought this article was a nice rebuttle. Check it out.

Love is a verb.

 

heart

Julie shares a great small group discussion about how marriage isn’t always hearts and butterflies, but its always worth it. I highly recommend checking it out!

Well that’s enough randomness for one Friday! Let me know if like any of the stories I found this week! Have a great weekend!

A Lucky Leg Workout

March 13, 2013

Well helllloooo Wednesday! Nice to see ya!

Winnie

It has been a crazy week for me so far over here. I am seriously hoping it slows down a bit! To go with a crazy week, I have a doozie of a workout for you. Wait for it….

It’s all legs!

Yep, you read that right. I was thinking with St. Patty’s day coming up this weekend that everyone should be graced with something lucky. A lucky leg workout that is!

LuckyLegWorkout

Like most of my workouts, this can be done with little to no equipment. All you need is an inflated exercise ball! Hope you have an amazing workout! Let me know if you have any questions on how to do the exercises.

Are you a fan of total body workouts or do you like to break it up into legs, upper body, etc?

Blue Ridge Mountain Vacation

March 11, 2013

Our weekend in the mountains is sadly over. I don’t think any of us wanted it to end. It was the perfect getaway from the city lives we all lead and a care-free schedule was pretty fantastic. the beauty of the end of vacation is you can start to plan the next one.

Blue Ridge

We stayed at the Wisteria Lodge in Blue Ridge, Georgia that we rented through an amazing company - Mountain Top Cabin Rentals. I can not recommend this company enough. We looked at quite a few different places when looking where we wanted to reserve the space, and Mountain Top won me over. Their site was easy to access, the photos of each property were clear and crisp, the representatives were incredibly helpful, and the prices were very reasonable.

Blue Ridge

We had 10 people travelling with us, and really wanted a nice big space that everyone could fit comfortably in. We had mostly couples travelling with us, as well as a few single friends, so finding a house with enough space for everyone to have their own beds was key. The Wisteria Lodge was exactly what we were looking for. There were 5 bedrooms, one of which had twin beds – perfect! There was also a fully stocked kitchen, satellite tv, speedy wireless internet, a fireplace, hottub, and amazing views!

Blue Ridge

We ended up reserving our trip for a time that was considered out of season, so we were given 30% off of our total rental price! It was an unexpected surprise, and made the trip even sweeter! Being from Florida, we were excited to get up to the mountains where there could be a chance of cold weather and snow. The snow didn’t really happen, except for a little bit that we found on a hiking trail, but the cold weather was amazing. Yoga pants and sweatshirts was our uniform for the weekend – ultimate lounging attire!

Blue Ridge

Our goal of the trip was to relax and enjoy each other’s company. Given that everyone who travelled with us are athletes, an active vacation was important as well. I am fairly certain it would be near impossible to keep us all in one place for a full four days. We hiked, we ran, and we really enjoyed everything the mountains of Georgia had to offer, with plenty of R&R in between.

Blue Ridge Day 1 took us to a waterfall via a short hike. We covered about 90 minutes of the Appalachian Trail, which put us finishing right around lunch time. Needless to say , the hike was some what short lived. We were so hungry!

Blue Ridge AT Hike

Blue Ridge

I was able to get in a 3.5 mile run post hike with my friend Felipe. It was pretty much all straight up some pretty intense hills, so I am going to have to give this run a bit more credit – our exertion felt way closer to a 5-6 mile run – not easy. It was well worth it – I think we may have found the best views in the area.

Blue Ridge

Blue Ridge

Our second day had some more hiking, relaxing, and running. See a theme here? Meghann and I got in a few very hilly miles before the group was up and ready to head out hiking. We went about an hour east to Brasstown Bald, the highest mountain in Georgia. After a short hike, we reached the summit and discovered some unbelievable views.

Blue Ridge

Brasstown Bald

With 10 people on a trip together, it can get a little crazy. We all have different opinions and have our own idea of how to do things. Here are a few tips on how to plan an amazing trip with friends!

1. Start planning early

We all have crazy schedules so picking a date that everyone could agree on was not easy. We started planning our vacation before Thanksgiving even rolled around. This way, as many people as possible could attend. Not everyone was able make it, but 10 out of 11 people is a pretty good showing.

2. Stay organized

I made a Google doc that contained everything we needed to bring from home, and we all signed up for different items. We assigned each meal to everyone, so everything was covered. We knew what we would be eating, and when. We all pitched in food and supplies so that everything was pretty evenly distributed. It is the only way to go!

3. Be flexible

Keeping a schedule is pretty easy when it is only a few people, but when you have almost a dozen people in the mix, it can get a little hectic. Have a time goal in mind to do activities, but don’t take the time too seriously. It is not easy to get everyone out at the same time. Focusing too much on an exact time will drive you a little crazy. Remember flexibility is key.

4. Stay on a budget

When everyone commits to a certain time, be sure to check a few different companies to rent through. We knew what budget we wanted to keep, so finding a good property to rent within those parameters was key. Like I said before, I can not recommend Mountain Top Cabin Rentals enough. They were awesome, and even gave us a 30% discount for booking the trip in the off season.

5. Get Creative

We brought plenty of games and ways to keep us occupied, without having to focus on a tv. It was so nice to not even turn on the tv, except for some fun video games and karaoke. We played cherades and Catch Phrase – my ultimate favorite!

6. Enjoy Yourself

Everyone has so much going on these days, that relaxing and just enjoying each other is pretty few and far between. Have a great time and treat it as an amazing vacation. If all 10 people do not want to do the same activity, then don’t. No one ever said that just because you are all staying at the same place means you have to spend 100% of your time doing the same things. Split up and divide activities, then reconvene for meals. That way everyone wins.

Have you ever travelled with a group of friends? Did you rent a house or stay in a hotel?