A Treadmill That Takes You Around the World in HD

I’ve logged plenty of treadmill miles while enduring Cleveland’s frigid winters and Arizona’s blazing hot summers.  Most treadmills are pretty boring, that’s why real runners–of which I am definitely not one–always say they prefer to run outside.  I get it, really I do.  I just find it too easy to quit if I’m running outside.

I recently came across this new treadmill that may just be the perfect solution for this travel-loving mama!  The LiveStrong LSPRO2 has Passport media technology.  It sounds really fancy and complicated, but once it is all hooked up, it is amazing and makes workouts fly by!  The Passport system connects to your TV, and it communicates wirelessly with the treadmill.   The treadmill delivers a high-definition experience designed to enhance the cardio workout of even the most serious runners.  All your stats pop up right on the TV screen.  Of course, you also have the option to use it like an old school treadmill, without the Passport media technology, and your information will show up right on the treadmill.

Livestrong LSPRO2

This is unlike any machine I’ve ever tried before in that the HD quality, real scenery and ambient sounds really make a world of difference (no generic scene views!).  The LiveStrong LSPRO2 comes with both the American Southwest and Northern Italy scenery, so you can hike the Grand Canyon and run through the rolling hills of Italy in the same day. More sceneries are available for purchase. So what’s it like to exercise on the LSPRO2?  It’s tough to describe, but imagine doing a killer workout in your own personal I-MAX theater.

Pretty cool, huh?  You really need to try it out for yourself, though, because–at $2,000– it’s a big investment.  A word of warning, not all big athletic stores carry this, so call around before you spend your whole day looking for one.

Not only are you doing something good for yourself when you buy this machine, but, with each purchase of the LSPRO2, money is donated to the Lance Armstrong Foundation to support the 28 million people living with cancer today.  Awesome.

 Disclaimer: FitFluential LLC compensated me for this sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Boston Marathon–a High Like No Other

Runners from all over the United States and several other countries are nervously preparing for the 115th Boston Marathon this weekend. The race is always held on Patriot’s Day, which is a Monday, but the city is already buzzing in preparation. Hotels are preparing, flights are full, street closures and detours have the city in a virtual lock-down, and there will be nary a seat in any restaurant that serves pasta on Sunday night.

I was blessed enough to qualify for and run this race in 2009 after a lot of hard work and early a.m. runs, but a fall on a trail run 8 weeks before the race nearly thwarted my plans. I tore several ligaments, but fortunately, after three weeks completely off, I was back at the training with 5 weeks to go before Boston. Just hearing and reading up on all the last minute news this week has me reminiscing. Qualifying times are strict, and have just gotten more so due to the popularity of the race. It was all-consuming at times, trying to qualify, but I guess that is what made it that much sweeter. Nothing worth it ever comes easily. I am certain my family was glad when I could finally lay that goal to rest.

Luckily for me at the time, my sister was already working and living in Providence, just a quick trip into the city for the race, so we had a free place to stay during part of our trip; not to mention the joy of having your loved ones around you during such a momentous occasion. We headed into the city on Sunday to hit the expo, and the fun began.

I am not typically much of an expo kind of gal, but the expo at Boston puts all others to shame. There are scores of famous runners, new gear, brand new products, ground- breaking shoe technology, and of course a beer den. I was pretty amped up in terms of being a bit jittery, and so I kind of flew through the expo, got my race packet and we moved on. In retrospect,  I wish I would have stayed longer and savored all the excitement, but I had three non-runners waiting for me and I just felt the need to get it over with.

Due to some chilly weather and the fullness of every single restaurant, we just settled in at a chain where I could grab some pasta and protein and get back to the room. My husband and I were staying right across the street from the host hotel, and my sister and brother in law were going to meet up with him in the morning to at least see me at the finish. As we got back to our hotel, I was crabby because I was a bucket full of nerves and I remember picking a dumb fight with my husband and then basically crying myself to sleep with only 5 hours left to go before my alarm went off. Not a good start. In fact, my worst pre-race day ever.

The buses leave extremely early from the city for the long ride out to Hopkinton. It was pretty chilly, about 40 degrees and they drop you off approximately 2 hours before the race at least. There is no indoor shelter, except for a small gym with people giving massages, but the lines were over an hour long, so I didn’t even try. I knew as soon as I did, the starting gun would fire and I would miss my start. I hunkered down behind some building for shelter from the wind, ate my bagel and peanut butter and banana, and tried to keep warm and calm. I had resigned myself not to worry about time or pace for this race. The goal was to get here. I was going to settle into whatever felt like a comfortable pace, not looking at my Garmin, and just run. I had music, but I wasn’t going to listen to it until the last 12 miles or so. I really wanted to see the sights, feel the energy of all the good souls who come out and cheer, take in the epic route, and just give thanks that I was able to do this thing for which I had shed plenty of blood, sweat, and tears. Literally.

I remember hearing a warning sign or somebody on a microphone, herding us toward the official starting place. There were so many people and the street seemed so narrow. I worked to find my corral and settled in. Five minutes seemed like an hour and suddenly, POP! Off went the gun. The cheers were deafening and both sides of the tree-lined streets were packed 5 or 10 deep with well wishers, volunteers and spectators. Five miles flew by, I had no idea of my pace, but it felt good. We ran through Framingham and into Natick. I high fived about 200 kids at least. This was about enjoying the moment and I sure was. Still, at some point, I think it was mile 10 or so, I thought, “Damn, I am running the Boston Marathon, but it is still hard! I have 16 to go!” I accidentally saw my time on one of the huge time clocks at the half-way point, but those clocks begin right when the gun goes off, and it takes a while to actually cross the start. So, since I had told myself I was not going to look at my Garmin, the time seemed normal for where I usually was at the mid-point of a marathon. I certainly wasn’t impressing myself by any means.

The weather temperature-wise was okay, about 43 or so with clouds overhead. However the wind was really starting to pick up. I noticed it intermittently, but then became distracted by throngs of people yelling my name (people tell you to write your name on your shirt, so I duck -taped it on and it lasted about 14 or so miles). I saw a ton of smiling kids offering oranges, popsickles, Gu’s, water. I saw thousands of volunteers with such happy faces. I saw biker bars with the occupants sitting on the outside drinking beers and cheering on runners; I saw nursing homes, with the residents blanketed up and sitting in wheelchairs on the lawn.  There were signs galore, cheerleaders, American flags, cowbells, music, and the reverberation of thousands of feet, pat, pat, pat, clomping down on the road.

After Natick, came Wellesley, with their famous females cheering and kissing any male (or female) runners for that extra high. Every single new town had new spectators. Not an inch of the course was blank. It was, in a word, fantastic. The high of Wellesley lasted a few miles and then….and then I heard my name, but it sounded familiar. I turned to see my sis, brother- in- law, and hubby yelling for me! How in the world??? If you could imagine all the road closures and the fact that none of them was familiar with the route, not to mention the timing and predicting where I would be when, well, it seemed like a miracle. They took a subway, and then got help from some cabbie who promised to get them there. I stopped to hug them all and discard my long sleeve, and trudged on. That high lasted another mile or two.

I had a friend that lived in the area agree to meet me around 17 or 18 to “run me in.” I was turning the corner by the infamous fire station and out of nowhere, there she was. We didn’t say a word at first, she just hopped in next to me, right at my pace, and distracted me as we headed into the famous Heartbreak Hill. “You could get a PR, you know,” she said.

“Huh?” I responded. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, you are on your way to a serious P.R!”

I looked down at my Garmin for the first time. Now, if you haven’t tried to calculate splits, Garmin time, miles left to go, and mile per minute pace at 18 or so miles into a 26.2 mile race, let’s just say, it’s pretty hard, and I am not bad at math. It took me quit a bit….pause, pause… “Holy s**$!!, I could PR at Boston!!!”

“I know, that’s what I told you, now let’s go!”  My friend, Kristina, kept pace just in front of me, trying to get me to chase her up the hills and trying to block some of the now 15-25 mile/hour wind gusts. “Just this little one, then you are basically done.” However, the “little one” was Heartbreak, and we hadn’t finished the rest of the hills through Newton. It worked though, I kind of kept my head down, and Heartbreak seemed like no big D.

Time passed. I was feeling the pace now, and worse, I knew what it was and exactly how far I had to keep it up. I started the mental torture….”this is hard, who cares if I P.R.? It was supposed to be for fun, I kind of want to puke, I really want to stop, it is windy, it’s starting to rain, what can I eat tonight, why am I here, is she speeding up?, am I slowing down?, I stink…..” You know, the negative self chatter in which we all engage? Well, it can get pretty nasty during mile 23 or so of a marathon.

Though it seemed like hours, soon we were turning onto Beacon street, with just a little bit to go. Spectators were bursting at the fences, yelling and screaming and cheering; at least 10 deep on both sides. People were hanging off of balconies, hanging out on rooftops. It was electric. Kelly Clarkson was beating out “Since Youv’e Been Gone” on my ipod and I could see the street raise slightly. The finish was just ahead, clear for the huge banners, blue and yellow baloons, and throngs of people and music and microphoned announcers. And then, and then, I crossed that line, arms raised, smiling from ear to ear, and crying just as quickly.

A 7 minute P.R.–not seemingly that big of a deal, but a big deal to me as my last 3 marathons had been within 2 minutes of eachother.  It was my fastest marathon to date, on a difficult course in less than ideal conditions, but the sweetness of that moment happening where and when it did, will never be lost on me. I had just run the 113th Boston marathon, and I would never forget it.

Proof That it’s Never “too late” to Find Your Passion!

Now I am sure there are many of you out there right now who are all trying to figure out how to balance your busy lives.  We are always trying to juggle a variety of things, which can include any of the following: spouses, children, working, cooking, shopping, paying bills and keeping your house running in some kind of organized fashion, just to name a few.   We can all understand and relate to these issues and then you take me, a  40 plus-year old, divorced and now single mom of an 11-year-old-boy who is also working a full-time job.  As if that wasn’t enough to keep me busy, I decided to throw training for a FULL marathon into the mix.   26.2 miles!!!! 

“Have I always been a runner?”  Well, that answer would be a profound NO!  Truth be told, I did not like running when I was young.  So who would think that after all these years I would be getting ready to run my first marathon in less than two months?  Correction…ATTEMPTING to run a marathon!

It started almost two years ago, when one of my friends approached me to see if I would like to run a 5K road race.  This would be a 3.1 mile race run through the streets of downtown Providence, Rhode Island.  She gave me a training schedule, and my first thought was “Where on earth will I find the time to do this?”  I was eventually able to run about three-miles without completely passing out,  but as the race date was starting to loom over me, I woke up one morning with the worst cold I have had in a very, very long time.  It took almost two weeks for it to run its course (no pun intended), and that brings us right to the day of the race.

“How am I ever going to do this when I have been sick and have NOT RUN AT ALL?”  This thought and a million more terrifying thoughts were going through my head the whole morning before the race.  My son, my parents and my boyfriend were all there for the big day, and all that kept going through my mind was,

“Will they need to call an ambulance for me?”Tight shot of runnings shoes Well, the gun went off, and so did I.  I did eventually cross that finish line and the feeling of accomplishment and pride was so overwhelming to me.  As I was just getting over that dreaded cold bug, I had officially caught another bug — the “running” bug.

So, now we jump ahead two years, and I have run in almost 26 road races, which include a number of 5 and 10Ks, along with two half-marathons.   I will be celebrating my two-year anniversary participating in the exact same Cox Road Race in which I had started.  The only difference this time is instead of it being a 3.1 mile race; it will be a 26.2 MILE RACE!!!

Looking back now, making that decision to start running was one of the best things I have ever done for myself!   Considering how crazy life is, I was able to find something just for me which,  in turn,  has made me a happier and healthier person.   If each of you can find that “something” just for you, the rewards for yourself are incredible and so worthwhile.   This is something that may not happen overnight and like me, it could take 40 plus years to find, but once you do… enjoy it!  For all of the things we do for everyone else, we all deserve to do something just for us!!!


Why Runners Get Hooked

People are always amazed at how much I love to run. But it didn’t start as a love affair….it started more as a silly boyfriend you date solely because he has amazing eyes. There was only one thing I loved about running in college, and that was that it gave me a maximum workout in minimal time. Sometimes, I hated every step. I don’t remember any run being over five or so miles, and most were more like three. I have to admit, though–that even early on, there had to be that post-run endorphin thing that I got, perhaps even subliminally, because nothing else is going to get you out in the freezing sleet and snow in rural Ohio, even if it is a “good workout.” Although I was athletic in high school, running was never a part of the game.

Typical Ohio day...

Typical Ohio day...

My running started to evolve a bit as I ventured out to Arizona for graduate school. Suddenly, I was mapping new routes.

Typical Arizona day

Typical Arizona day

I found some new friends to run with, and I entered a 10k. Shortly thereafter, I entered a half-marathon, and some duathlons (running and biking), and then, finally in 2000, my first marathon. I still wouldn’t say I loved running, I wasn’t even sure I liked it. But I am a creature of habit. I thrive on discipline and routines, believing that these things actually allow me to be more spontaneous. In my masochistic mind, working hard makes the playing more fun, and then being spontaneous seems like a deserved reward.

My first marathon was everything it shouldn’t have been. Any normal person would have thrown in the towel. To start with, it was an inaugural race. This is a bad idea because the race directors have had no time to figure out what “works”. I will tell you what didn’t work….the route. It was on a rural course where we sometimes saw no one for miles. People got lost. They ran out of water. Farmers were cutting alfalfa. I had an asthma attack due to said alfalfa. Then I got rocks in my shoes and re-tied them too tightly. Then I felt my feet bleeding. Then I threw up. Then I shuffled, hot, tired, sweaty, and yes, triumphant through the finish line….about a half-hour later than my projected time. And yet,  I wanted to do it again.

I now have 8 marathons, 6 or 7 half-marathons, 2 ultras (longer than 26.2), 6 triathlons, 3 duathlons, a dozen or so other distances and 3 or so bike races under my belt. Marathons are my fave….ultras are even better….and trail ultras? Don’t even get me started.

I still don’t always love it. There are days that 4:30 am is just too stinking early. The hills seem to have gotten bigger overnight, every step feels like small tree trunks have been attached to my ankles, and I look at walkers and think, “Hey, walking seems nice….I can carry coffee if I walk.” However, more often than not, even on the days I think I will have a bad run, about half way in I remember why I do it. I remember why it is important to work hard, because hard work reaps benefits. The benefits for me are those days when I simply cherish the sound and cadence of my steps, when I can focus on praying without distraction, when I get to catch up with a girlfriend and no one is asking me for a snack, when I get to solve the oil crisis and the rest of the day seems to unfold before me, limitless with its’ possibilities. At times I am in awe of the beauty of the landscape before me, of the sun rising in the desert as I am alone on the trail, seemingly alone in the world; of the wind whipping my ponytail and the feeling of accomplishment I get when I put in 12 or 13 miles and most people have yet to rise. And don’t get me started on the endorphins. They are my Zoloft and my Prozac and my drug of choice….these indescribable little feelings that leave me smiling and content, even if I am spent.

So I would venture to say that this love affair has been a long time coming. But now, it is more like the boyfriend you love because he is good for you. He makes you feel better, he may not be perfect every day, but he will never turn on you. You love him for everything he does for you, not just one thing. He may not be easy to catch, but not much that is, is worth the chase.

How about you?  Are you an avid runner…or maybe you’re just getting started and you’re having trouble staying motivated.  I’d love to hear how you got started, your favorite race,  or any questions you might have.  Leave me a comment below!

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