Thursday, February 18, 2010

Belated Wordless Wednesday

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Running Gadgets/Gear

I love gadgets. I can geek-ify just about anything.

I don't just have a yarn stash and a few projects going, but I have all of my yarn and projects catalogued, measured and fully documented on While looking through my yarn cabinet is fun, I can just refer to my online stash meter and determine how many yards of what yarn I have. I tend to be quite OCD about things. I've embraced it.

Running is no different. There are so many products out there with the promise of more convenient runs, easier runs, products to help stave away problems. Following are a few of the things I like to use:

Shoes:  Brooks Adrenaline shoes. I'm sold. After buying shoes on my own at local sports outlets, a friend encouraged me to be evaluated and fitted for running shoes. Skeptically, I went to On The Run and was helped by a very young salesperson. I'm thinking that I have pairs of shoes older than she is! She watched me walk and trot in the store and went to the back and brought back several pairs of shoes. She said that I need a shoe for stability and cushion. The second pair of shoes I put on were Brooks. It's as if the clouds parted and the jogging fairy sprinkled magic fairy dust on my feet. I knew they were perfect. Sighing, I asked how much they were. "They're on sale for $70". I could have fallen out of my chair. Here I was paying about that much at outlet stores for inferior shoes. I'm on my second pair now. I'm a fan.

While we're talking about shoes, it's important to have some kind of identification on your person when running. Accidents happen. You can get a cheap shoe ID tag at any running store to store emergency phone numbers.

Socks: when I began running, I used my tried and true plain old white athletic cotton socks. True, cotton does absorb moisture, but it does very little to wick it from your skin. After prolonged running, you can get blisters from damp cotton socks. My fave? Thorlo. They have excellent cushioning at the heel and forefoot, but pull moisture away from my feet. I buy mine at the local Academy store. I've tried Ballega's and one other expensive brand that I ended up returning, and have always come back to Thorlo.

Shirts: For winter running, I have an UnderArmour long sleeved shirt. UnderArmour has been top of their line for years. Other cheaper brands try to replicate the heat retaining properties of Underarmour but miss the mark. The cheap substitutes are just I used to wear a heavy sweatshirt to run in the cold, but I get better movement out of my UA. And look how stylish I am! ;-) This is me after the Houston Aramco Half Marathon. It was about 50 degrees and I felt fine in only this shirt.

For summer running, I have a few short sleeved "tech" shirts that wick away moisture and allow ventilation. I was skeptical about "tech" shirts too, but like I mentioned before, cotton absorbs and holds onto moisture. After a long summer run, that cotton tshirt would be soaked and sticking to me. Not so with tech shirts. The hat I'm wearing to the left is an UnderArmour ventilated hat, perfect for warmer weather.

Running Bra: If you have a little more up top and don't want the girls flopping up into your face when you run, invest in a good sports bra. I've been using an Enell bra for about 6 months now and it holds up like iron.

Hair: Really anything so far mostly involving a ponytail and hat or headband to keep the hair and sweat out of my face. I had the opportunity to buy a Bondiband and love it. I used it during the half marathon to keep the wind off of my ears and keep the headphones in my ears and found the added benefit of wicking material. As if you couldn't tell by now, I'm big into wicking fabrics as I tend to be a big sweaty pig when I run.

Now, let's get technical. After running for awhile, improving time is a big motivator. The Nike Plus system links a little pod in your shoe to your ipod or iphone and can give you input as to your pace and time. It works off of your cadence and footfalls on the ground. The drawbacks are if you tend to change your strides, it makes it less accurate. You DO NOT have to buy the Nike Plus shoes. If you Google "Nike Plus hack" you will find all manner of ways to affix that little pod to whatever shoe you choose to wear.

Wanting more, I decided to purchase the Garmin 405 Forerunner. Although I do run with this almost every time (if it's charged), for the money it's really not that much better than the Nike Plus as far as the information you get from it. In fact, I used both to check accuracy and the Nike Plus wasn't far off. It's an expensive toy. Don't get me wrong, I love to use it and check my pace and speed, I just don't think it was quite worth the money.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Disney Retrospective

Waiting to startTeacups startingYou spin me right round...There's no yawning in teacups!!!

Ordinarily, I shy away from large corporations whose sole objective is to separate you from your money. I try to aspire to the "Stickin' it to tha man" mentality by refusing to buy into huge money sucks just because the other lemmings are jumping off the cliff in droves. The big exception to this is Disneyworld. We affectionately call it "Dinny-whorl". Yes, that's us in the front seats of the Rockin' Rollercoaster in the pic below. We just had to do it...
JapanI'm ready for my photoIMG_3396Expedition Everest
Yes, I gladly handed over a couple of paychecks over to a large mouse last month and enjoyed every penny! Two years ago was our first trip. I had felt a bit regretful that I had never taken my child to Disneyworld when she was younger and thought taking a 17 year old would have less luster and child-like magic, but I was wrong. You see, it helps if its participants are just big kids themselves and we fit that bill just fine. We squeal with delight every time we see Cinderella's castle for the first time. If you can go to Disneyworld and not feel like a kid in even a small way, you are made of stone.
Disney PrincessesTree in Animal Kingdom01 05 10 044Rockin' RollercoasterAriel!Disney 060Animal Kingdom Christmas Tree

We like to go at the beginning of January which is an off season (read: cheaper) but is still decorated for Christmas. The lines are shorter, the lodging is cheaper and we can still fit it during a school Christmas break. We had taken advantage of a "buy 4 nights, get 3 free" deal which was SO worth it. At the end of this post I'll post some helpful tips for enjoying Disneyworld to its fullest.
Disney 045The Disney EpicentreDisney 038

I was a bit sad at the end of our little vacation. This may be the last vacation we take before she's a married lady! I'd like to tell you, dear reader, that I kept my cool about it, but I did cry the last night we were there. It couldn't be helped.

Tips for a great Disney vacation:
  • Go during off season - lines are shorter, rates are cheaper and it's a lot more bang for the buck
  • Get the Disney meal plan - We got the deluxe. One counter meal (like fast food), one restaurant meal (yeah, sit-down, cloth napkins and excellent food) and one snack per day. All meals include dessert and we usually boxed them up and ate the for breakfast or a snack later. The plan saves you money and pulls you out of the mindset that you need to get cheap, junk food at the park. We ate lamb, salmon, and steak and not just burgers and hot dogs. You can reserve your restaurant online now. So convenient. Guidebooks usually have a section about which restaurants boast certain Disney characters if you want to guarantee some photo ops with your child and their favorite character
Snow WhiteMulan
  • Stay in the park - maybe a little more expensive, but worth it when you have to factor in rest breaks during the day. Just hop a shuttle bus to your lodging, take a nap then hit the parks again! You won't be in your room very much, so staying at less expensive sites is fine.
  • Get park-hopper tickets - These allow you to go from park to park as you feel the need. Bored with one park? Go to another.
  • Get a guide book - We're far from having the ill-fated "clipboard-o-fun" setup, but a decent guidebook can give you tips on what you want to see. This year, we used some great iPhone apps which were invaluable. Apps that show what the avg wait time per ride right now, dining menus, GPS enabled maps, parade/event times...etc.
  • Get fast passes to the rides you really want to ride early in the day and fill in with other shorter wait rides and shows.
My favorite memory from Dinny-whorl? Doing the chicken dance with my daughter and Goofy. Here's my daughter feelin' a little Goofy (haha, get it? wink wink, nudge nudge)
Clubbin' With Goofy