Thursday, March 28, 2013

Run the Rainbow: New Balance 890v3 Review

This is part one of a two part series I will be running here on Maine Mom on the Run. I hope it inspires you to make healthy choices with your family and there will be more than one way to win something. Everyone loves a contest and giveaway, right? Okay, first things first.

I was given the opportunity to review and promote New Balance's newest shoe for kids, the 890v3 Rainbow shoe. Of course I said yes.

New Balance is a great company that makes some great shoes, both for casual and athletic wear. My first pair of minimalist running shoes were the Minimus WT20 and I put over 300 miles on them before they started to wear out. I've also received two pairs of New Balance shoes for registering for the L.L. Bean 10K in 2011 and 2012, but the models given were stability shoes so I wore them for casual wear and working outside. My oldest son has been wearing their 688 model for nearly a year and has pretty much outgrown them. The fact that they lasted this long shows the quality you get with New Balance. One other awesome thing about the company is that most of the materials are sourced from the United States. They produce footwear for all five branches of the U.S. Military and I am proud to say that three of New Balance's factories are located right here in my home state of Maine.

Back to the 890v3 Rainbow shoes... New Balance graciously sent me two pairs of the shoes for both boys to try out. Zeke, the oldest, is now in the preschool sizes and Finn remains in the "infant" category, even though he is almost three. His feet aren't small, it's just how they categorize the sizes and style. The preschool model is a standard laced shoe, while the infant model utilizes a zig-zag lace with velcro closure. You've got to love it when a 2-year-old can put his shoes on by himself!

Both shoes are well-constructed with a glued non-marking, non-skid rubber sole. The shoe is very flexible which is very important for children's growing feet. The stitched synthetic and mesh upper provides good stability for running, jumping, and every other motion kids go through during play. I love the colors of the shoes - a bright green sole and dark gray upper with just a hint of the rainbow colors throughout and a pop of neon green for the laces.

It's definitely a masculine-looking shoe compared to the girls' colorway pictured below.
Here's what the boys had to say about their new shoes.

I just wish they made a Rainbow adult version!

And now for the contest! New Balance and ChopChop Magazine (a family-friendly cooking magazine) have joined forces to promote the benefits of "the rainbow" in both eating and physical activity with their Run the Rainbow, Eat the Rainbow campaign. From now through the end of May, they are running a contest that I invite you all to enter. There is a monthly drawing for a pair of New Balance's 890v3 Rainbow shoe for kids and a one-year subscription to ChopChop, and a grand prize to include the shoes, magazine subscription and a $400 grocery store gift card! Visit to enter!

Make sure to stay tuned next week for part two where the boys and I will be making a healthy snack using all the colors of the rainbow. You won't want to miss it...there will be a giveaway!!!

Disclaimer: I was provided two pairs of New Balance 890v3's in exchange for promotion of the Run the Rainbow, Eat the Rainbow campaign. All opinions, photos, and other media are my own, unless otherwise noted. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I love running! ... and my new friend.

Wow! I think it's back. My running mojo, that is. I'm just feeling very motivated to get out there and I haven't felt like this for months. Let me recap my last week for you.

Last weekend I finally got around to posting my treadmill on Craigslist. In case you didn't already know, I don't have a place for it in the new house so I needed to let her go. Within a couple of hours I had two emails from interested buyers. The next day one of them came by with a truck, paid me what I was asking (a fair price for a 1-year-old 'mill), and hauled her away. Okay, now I had a few Benjamin's burning a hole in my pocket. Of course, most of it went to paying bills, but kind-of on a whim, I stopped at Dick's Sporting Goods on my way in to work at Home Depot (just to look, I swear), and left with my new friend here.

I was in need of a new watch since the strap of my faithful Timex Ironman broke beyond repair. I had been using a small elastic to tuck the extra strap down and then it started splitting apart higher up on the band before finally snapping apart completely. 

R.I.P. Timex

I actually went on a couple of runs wearing my watch around my thumb. Clearly, it was time to say goodbye.

What, this isn't how you wear it?

Now I am in love with my Garmin. I love that I can just go out and run without planning a route ahead of time and still keep track of my distance. While I am interested in my pace, I'm not looking down all the time to see how fast I'm going. I've been running on feel for the past 2+ years, so I know what various paces feel like and don't really need a watch to tell me that. I do love my stats, though, and is great that it figures it all out for me. And I love that it isn't huge on my wrist so I can wear it as a regular watch. My only problem now is that our dinosaur iMac is so out of date that I can't upload all the information onto it and still have to manually log my runs. 

I've only gone on three short runs and didn't get my long run in this weekend because I basically worked from 6 am to 10 pm on Sunday, so I am still not following my marathon-turned-15K training plan. I woke on Monday feeling a little off, but the family and I got out for a walk around the neighborhood last night and when we got back I found some motivation from reading running blogs and decided to just go out there for a short run before the sun went down. It was awesome! I only went 1.75 miles, but it felt great just to run. Of course I was scheduled to run this morning and was going to see how I felt this morning when the alarm went off before committing. Guess what? I ran another 2.1 miles this morning, basically a reverse loop of the night before but I missed a turn and ran around another block. I never run on back to back days, so this is something new for me. I think the only time I have done it is during the Reach the Beach relay last May. But I felt great, my legs felt rested and I comfortably ran at a 8:23 pace on a hilly route. Honestly, I am a bit amazed that these runs haven't been sufferfests (even though they have been only a couple of miles) given how little I have been running. But whatever, I'll take it! 

Anyway, I think my little green friend is just what I needed to get me motivated. That and the sun has been shining and the snow is almost gone.

What motivates you to run?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Weight Has Been Lifted

A decision has been made. It was a difficult one that had me in tears more than once, but I whole-heartedly feel like I have made the right one. What is she talking about, you may be asking? Those closest to me, know what this is about, but since I've not been posting on a regular basis, the rest may have no clue.

Anyway, this is about the Sugarloaf Marathon. Ever since I finished the Maine Marathon in September, I had set my sights on running Sugarloaf in May 2013. Don't they say not to commit to another marathon right after finishing one? Well, I didn't listen. 

In the meantime, we bought at a major fixer-upper of a house that has pretty much consumed me. Maybe I'm being over-dramatic. The house is great and in livable condition. It's not a cardboard box and completely falling apart. But anyone that has gone through home improvement knows that it can kind-of consume you. Finally, after close to three months, I finished the first room. Eleven more to go. Yes, it's going to take years to finish, but I'm fine with that. Taking care of two kids during the day and working near full-time hours six nights a week doesn't leave a lot of time to work on the house. Or run. 

I've talked about this here many times before. I've been a little wishy-washy about running lately. About making excuses why I haven't been running. The weather sucks, I'm too tired to get up, the treadmill is at the old house (just sold her today), blah, blah, blah. I ran less than 20 miles in February. The only time I had a lower mileage month was February of 2011 - the month I started running again after having kids. Pitiful. 

It's not like I haven't wanted to run. I've had good intentions. Life gets in the way. So much of my focus has been on the house. Plans to demolish and how to put it back together, colors, designs, floor plans and the like are constantly swirling around in my head at warp speed. And I love it. When I'm passionate about something, I pour my heart into it. I love working on the house. The amount of pride I feel from completing a project and knowing I did it myself is amazing. I literally touched every square inch of the room I finished with my own two hands and made it beautiful.

Yay! It's done!

I've felt that way many, many times about running too. In high school and college, running was my whole world. I had a senior picture taken with my starting blocks (yes, I had my own personal blocks) and state champion jacket. 

Yes, I'm a runnerd.
When I started running in 2011, I ran year-round with the ultimate goal of a marathon in 2012. I ran smart. I trained for a 5K, then a 10K, then a half-marathon, gradually increasing mileage to successfully complete a marathon with no injuries. And I felt that same sense of pride when I crossed the finish line after running 26.2 miles.

Then I took a break. While there were races on my schedule, I was looking to maintain my fitness until training for Sugarloaf started in January. But then we bought the house and I could not figure out how to balance two things I am so passionate about. The fact is, my family comes first. I want my children to live in a safe environment. I want to spend time with my husband talking about our future plans for our new abode. Running (and blogging) had to take a back seat, though every day I had an internal struggle going on. I had committed to Sugarloaf and I wanted to race it. The Maine Marathon was for finishing. I wanted to see an improvement for my second 26.2. But the mental stress of trying to train for a marathon and renovate a house on top of being a good mom, wife, and employee was really taking it's toll. I wasn't happy. I was disappointed in myself and worried that I was going to disappoint those around me.

Last Sunday I ran my first long run of my training plan. Yes, six weeks in. I had been running, albeit not very much, and I had never gotten in all the miles on any specific training day. Fourteen miles was what was on the schedule. I ran from my house to the bike path in Brunswick (exactly 6.2 miles) a little on the trail and then ran back. I missed a turn on the way out, so it ended up being 14.4 miles. And do you know what? It wasn't that bad. Actually, it was a really great run. The sun was shining, the route was wooded and the smell of pine and earth and spring was wonderful. I was tired at the end, but not all out exhausted and maintained a pace around 9:30. Pretty incredible for the lack of mileage in the last five-plus months. It was the longest run I've done since the marathon.

Somewhere on the way back I started thinking about dropping out of the marathon and doing the 15K race at Sugarloaf instead. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. Not because I didn't think I could complete the marathon, but like I said above, I wanted/needed to see improvement. Why can't us runners ever be happy?

I put my idea out there as a Facebook status last week and I could not be more thankful for the responses I got. The conversation amongst my running friends included pros and cons. They called me a "badass" runner, but they also knew how I would feel if I didn't get the outcome I wanted at the marathon due to lack of proper training and voiced concern about the chance of injury. ALL of you are so wise and sweet and just plain AWESOME! Don't let that go to your heads! :-) 

There are two other positives that go with switching to the 15K. One, automatic PR! I've never raced a 15K. Two, the 15K starts 30 minutes after the marathon and is the last 9.3 miles of the marathon course. My three running gals are doing the marathon (which made it very hard at first to think about switching), but now I will be done before they come along and be able to see each one of them to the finish. 

I'm now working on a new training plan for the 15K to focus on upping my speed and strength. I would like to run a marathon this fall and am strongly considering running MDI in October. It's two days after my birthday and I can't think of a better way to celebrate turning 29...ahem...37? I don't know, I've lost count. 

So that is that. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. Thanks for listening and understanding.