Equinox Half Marathon – 2017 St Louis – Race Review

Equinox Half Marathon t-shirt

Billed as the only nighttime half marathon in St Louis, the Equinox Half Marathon was a must run for me. The race took place on September 16, just one day after former police office Jason Stockley was acquitted of murder. That decision has sparked several days of protesting, with destruction of property and violence occurring after dark. While the decision was announced in downtown St Louis, the protesting occurred all over the city. However, the race organizers had worked with the Maryland Heights police and fire departments to ensure adequate race coverage. As I live in south St Louis city, my husband was very hesitant of me running.  Not so much worried about the race itself, but about me getting home. The judge in the decision lives in our neighborhood and protests were expected there the night of the race. Fortunately, protesters stayed away from both the race area and my neighborhood.

Check-In

The race originated from Westport Plaza, a unique multi-use area including hotels, restaurants, bars, theatres, and corporate offices. Check-in was to occur at a new entertainment spot called Westport Social. Not being familiar with Westport Social’s location within the plaza, I parked in the large open parking lot in front of the plaza. I saw others were parking there too and there was a truck selling various athletic apparel. Following the line of people took me to the back of the plaza. Check-in was set up outside of Westport Social within their outside seating area. The line was minimal and check-in consisted of several tables. The first stop was to obtain my bib. The half marathon and 5k had the same bib, no differentiation in wording or coloring.

The next stop was swag! Swag consisted of a hat, socks, pint glass and a bag full of coupons, including a free margarita at Fuzzy Taco and a free beer at Trainwreck Saloon with your pint glass and bib.

Equinox Half Marathon Race Swag

Course

The course consisted of two 6 mile loops in the Maryland Heights area. Beginning right in front of the plaza, we proceeded to run through the plaza and run along the back side, including the new World Wide Technology facility. We wrapped our way around Westport Plaza before heading east, running by O’Fallon Brewery’s new location. It had been many years since I was last at Westport Plaza and there were so many new buildings and companies and restaurants that had moved out there. Around Mile 1, we entered Edward Jones Blvd. From I-270, you can see 2 large Edward Jones buildings, but I didn’t realize how large their campus was off Dorsett. They have numerous single story buildings spotting the whole area.

Overall, the course was very well marked, with plenty of volunteers, police and firemen along the course to keep traffic away and tell you where to go. The only place that I got confused was heading back into Westport Plaza after my first loop. I could see people running towards me and I was far enough behind the person in front of me that I couldn’t see where they had turned. There was a volunteer at the intersection with a sign with arrows pointing which way to go, but they made no sense to me so I just yelled out to him as I approached.

It always amazes me how I never notice how hilly a road is while I’m driving. I would have never thought this section of St Louis would have been hilly, but I was wrong. There were long stretches of up-hill climbs. Which I love hills, so this was my opportunity to leave and pass people along the back end of the route. I tend to run negative splits during races, which just means that I tend to speed up as the race progresses. I follow the Galloway run-walk method, using 30 second run / walk intervals, but usually when I hit about the 10 mile mark during a half marathon, I start stretching out my run portions. But, no matter how long I run, I only walk for 30 seconds, which has been shown to be the most efficient recovery time.

Finish

Upon finishing, I was handed a medal. And it actually glowed in the dark! Very cool! Many of my friends from Big River Training Team were volunteering at the finish line handing out water and bananas. I stayed around with them until some of the last runners came in. It turned out to be a beautiful night after the sun went down and was able to cool off a little.

Equinox Half Marathon finish

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Charity Miles – Earn money for charity while you work out

Charity Miles is an organization that gives people the opportunity to direct corporate contributions to charities of their choice… simply by walking, running and biking! It adds extra motivation to know that as you are moving you are doing good!

Charity Miles tracks your distance, and large companies make contributions to the charity you selected.

Here’s how to join in on the fun:

  1. Download the Charity Miles app onto your smartphone. Available on both Apple & Android at charitymiles.org.
  2. Create a free account.
  3. Choose which charity you would like to support. You may change selections each time you log in.
  4. Select “Teams” and join the “Fueling Healthy Families” team!
  5. Start walking, running or biking!

One cool feature of the app I love is the availability to add a picture and share to social media what charity you are supporting. You also get to see what corporate partner is donating on your behalf.

Charity Miles Social Share

Some of the current charities:

Partnership for a Healthier America
– End childhood obesity

Stand Up To Cancer
– Fund cancer research

ASPCA
– Protect Animals

Alzheimer’s Association
– Support Alzheimer’s research

USO
– Support our service members

Team Red, White & Blue
– Enrich the lives of American veterans

Feeding America
– Fight hunger in America

ALS Association
– Fighting to treat and cure ALS

Save the Children
– Invest in children worldwide

Operation Smile
– Provide life-changing surgeries to children

Habitat for Humanity
– Provide housing to people worldwide

Girl Up
– Empower girls worldwide

(RED)
– Create the first AIDS-free generation

Sight For Kids
– Free eye exams and glasses for children

National Multiple Sclerosis Society
– Move towards a world free of MS

Wounded Warrior Project
– Honor and empower wounded warriors

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
– Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
– Cure and treat childhood cancer

American Diabetes Association
– Fight Diabetes

Charity: Water
– Provide clean and safe drinking water

National Park Foundation
– Protect our National parks

Shot@Life
– Provide vaccines to children worldwide

The Michael J. Fox Foundation
– Cure Parkinson’s Disease

Autism Speaks
– Support Autism research

Every Mother Counts
– Make pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother

World Wildlife Fund
– Protect nature and wildlife

Girls On The Run
– Empowering girls through running

DoSomething.org
– Empower young people

The Nature Conservatory
– Protect nature and preserve life

The World Food Programme
– Fight hunger worldwide

Pencils of Promise
– Build schools worldwide

Special Olympics
– Empower athletes with intellectual disabilities

Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America
– Cure Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis

Team For Kids
– Get kids active

She’s the First
– Educate girls in low-income countries

Soles4Souls
– Provide shoes to fight poverty worldwide

Nothing But Nets
– Provide anti-malaria bednets

Back On My Feet
– Empower people experiencing homelessness

Achilles International
– Empower athletes with disabilities

The Ironman Foundation
– Get kids active

Vision Spring
– Provide eyeglasses to people worldwide

Foundation of the NSNA
– Support our future nurses

 

Which charity would you choose?

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Healthy Nutrition On-the-Go – What’s in Your Bag? Healthy Snack Ideas

With so many demands on your time, it can be tough to keep up healthy habits on a daily basis.

That’s why it’s so important to pack healthy snacks in your car or handbag. You should look for items with protein and fiber and limited or no sugar.

Some of my favorites are:

Almonds

1/4 cup of almonds provides approximately 5 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Look for raw, unsalted almonds to avoid empty calories.

almonds

Dried Fruit

Although dried fruit can be calorie dense with high amounts of sugar, it’s a much better option than a candy bar from the vending machine. Dried fruit contains high amounts of beta carotene, vitamin E, niacin, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium. My favorites include peaches, apricots and apples.

Blender Bottle and Single-Serving Juice Plus+ Complete Shake Mix

Now you’ve added 13 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber to your daily diet, while enjoying the delicious, creamy taste of French Vanilla or Dutch Chocolate. While the shakes taste great with almond milk, they can also be mixed with water, making it a great option for throwing in your bag. Just pack a bottle of water or find a water fountain when you’re out and about.

Juice Plus+ Complete Nutrition Bars

Nothing is more convenient than a Juice Plus+ Complete nutrition bar if you need a quick snack. Available in two delicious flavors – Dark Chocolate + Fig and Tart Cherry + Honey – they’re packed with protein and fiber. They are low-glycemic (meaning they won’t cause your blood sugar to shoot up), gluten-free, non-dairy, and vegeterian.

Juice Plus+ Complete Bars

 

What is your favorite snack for on-the-go eating?

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Meal Planning – Happy Planner & Washi Tape Style

Happy Planner with Washi Tape meal planning

I’ve tried several different styles of meal planning in the past, but most weren’t flexible enough for me. Events come up on the calendar, meetings run late, or I’m just too tired to cook anything. When I purchased my Happy Planner last December, I had no plans to use it as a meal planner. I just thought of it as a calendar, but what better place to meal plan than your calendar. You can see what events are scheduled that include dinner outside of the home or when you’ll need something quick.  So here’s my setup.

Happy Planner with Washi Tape meal planning

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, my family uses Blue Apron and Sun Basket for most of our meal preparation. With Blue Apron, you can schedule meals 4 weeks in advance and 3 weeks in advance with Sun Basket. I use a solid colored washi tape to write the meals that I’ve selected. Although there are so many cute designed washi tapes, solid is much easier to read when written on. I’d also recommend a lighter color. I use mainly yellow and pink. First, I cut the washi tape to fit the width of a day in my Happy Planner. I then write the meals I’ve selected on each piece of tape. Next, I’ll stick the tape where I “plan” to prepare each meal. But this time, when new events get added to the calendar or I decide “I’m not in the mood” for whatever I planned, I can easily remove the meal and move it to another day.

grocery cart stickers

I also use these cute grocery cart stickers to mark the days that my Blue Apron and Sun Basket boxes will arrive. As I don’t regularly get each box every week, it’s a nice reminder to know when I need to check our front porch and get those items into the fridge.

Happy Planner with washi tape & grocery stickers

How do you meal plan for your family?

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GO! St. Louis Run at the Raceway – 2017 Review

Run at the Raceway tank

Two 5ks in 2 days! That’s right, I participated in the Glo Run 5k on a Friday night, then the GO! St. Louis Run at the Raceway on Saturday night. The GO! St. Louis Run at the Raceway kicked off a week of racing themed events around the St. Louis metro area as a part of the “St. Louis Speed Festival”. Taking place at Gateway Motorsports Park, the night consisted of a 1 mile run, a 5k, and a Beer  Relay. I participated in just the 5k, but had many friends in the various events. There were even challenge medals for competing in multiple events that night.

Covering nearly 200 acres, Gateway Motorsports Park is the largest outdoor entertainment facility in the St Louis region, encompassing a ¼-mile NHRA-sanctioned drag strip, 1.25-mile superspeedway, 1.6- mile road course, a state-of-the-art Karting facility and a new 14-acre, multi-purpose dirt off-road venue.

Check-in

I arrived at the racetrack as the National Anthem was playing before the 1 mile run, which started at 6pm. The 5k was to start at 7pm, with the beer relay to run in heats starting at 8:30pm. The check-in tent was easy to spot, with NO line! Registration included a racer tank in red, along with a chipped time bib. I immediately ran into some of my friends from Big River Training Team who were waiting for the 5k and beer relay. We also had friends volunteering at the finish line, so chatted with them a bit while we were all waiting.

Waiting for race time

The Course

The 5k began and finished on the drag strip and included a loop of the racing oval. While advertised that the run would take place at dusk under the lights of the race track, sunset is not until after 8pm, so it was still light for the 7pm 5k and no lights were on. A little disappointing. It was still very cool to run on the race track though and was a little unusual to run on such a high bank at the end of the oval. Being on an IndyCar and drag racing courses, the race was flat.

Finish Line

We finished on the drag strip where we started. There was an announcer saying each of our names as we approached the finish line. Upon crossing the finish line, we were handed a bottle of water. Turning the corner, there was a line up of sports drink, various pretzels (rods, sticks, traditional, nuggets), and bananas. We were then handed our medals.

With Medal

Conclusion

Participating in various GO! St Louis events before, they are all really well ran. I’d love if this race could be pushed back a little to actually run under the lights. A may have a slight obsession with night races now, with the Glo Run the night before and I just signed up for the Equinox half marathon, a night time race taking place at Westport Plaza in St Louis next month.

Interested in joining a future GO! St Louis event? Check out their website. They have all sorts of challenges you can sign up for by either racing multiple events in the same weekend or the same event at different race weekends. I completed the 5k Challenge last year, running three different 5ks – GO! St Louis in April, All American in June and GO! Halloween in October. I’ll be running the GO! Halloween half marathon this year.

Upcoming GO! St Louis events

  • October 22, 2017 – The Great GO! St Louis Halloween Race
    • Half marathon, 10k, 5k, 1 mile
  • April 6-8, 2018 – GO! St. Louis Marathon & Family Fitness Weekend
    • Marathon, half marathon, marathon relay, 7K, 5K run/walk, GO! St. Louis Read, Right & Run Marathon, children’s fun runs and a mature mile
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Glo Run St Louis – 2017 Review

Glo Run Start

The Glo Run St Louis was this past weekend and billed itself as a Run Through Luau. As a big supporter of the community, my employer (Wells Fargo Advisors) pays for race entries to selected races benefiting local charities. The Glo Run St Louis benefited Children’s Miracle Network and I was lucky enough to win one of the spots through the lottery.

Check-In

I decided to take my 5 year old son with me, as he loves glo sticks and anything glow in the dark. The race started at the Upper Muny parking lot in  Forest Park. We parked on the street at the entrance to the parking lot, so we’d have an easy exit from the park. Walking towards the check-in area, the first thing you notice is how long the lines are. I had received my bib number via email prior to the race and the lines were divided up by number, but the lines were so long you couldn’t make sure you were even in the correct line. Race day check in was the only option, so this is definitely an area for improvement.

My registration for the Chip Timed Run included a t-shirt, lei, 3 glo sticks, a flashlight, a bib and finisher medal. The initial long line was just for the bib and you had to go to separate tables for the remaining items. After collecting all our swag, we next jumped in line for body paint. My son opted for dots up the arms and face paint under the eyes. I followed suit with dots up my arms as well.

Aidan all decked out

Course

The Glo Run St Louis featured 5 on course neon luau themed zones:

  1. Giant Pineapples
  2. Black Lights Luau
  3. Luau Photo Op
  4. Dancing Luau Giants
  5. Arches of Luau

The race started at 8:10pm, just after sunset. As you can see, the course became dark and the flashlight came in handy to see in front of us. We started out running, but as you can expect with a 5 year old, we quickly resorted to walking and walked most of the course. Which was totally fine, as this race is definitely under the category of “Fun” races and had such fun photo ops. Of course, my son had to stop at each one for a picture.

Upon finishing the race, we were handed a bottle of water. As only the finishers who registered in the Chip Timed Run earned medals, we had to walk to another tent to pick ours up. They also had a table with granola bars and fruit snacks available to pick up. The whole night, they had a DJ playing music and a big dance party formed as people finished the race.

Aidan and his medal

Upcoming Events

The Glo Run has events all over the US with 3 races remaining in 2017 – Twin Cities, Milwaukee, and Cedar Rapids. Learn more at The Glo Run.

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Back to School – Setting up for a Healthy Year

Schools all across the country are starting back this month. And while most families are busy getting school supplies ready and buying new clothes, how much thought is given to making sure kids are healthy enough to learn? Here are some steps to make sure you are setting your family up for a healthy year.

Steps for a Healthy Year

1. Eat breakfast – We’ve heard it for years, but eating breakfast sets your child up for success for the day. Without breakfast, kids are going 15-16 hours without something to eat. I know when I’m hungry, I’m cranky and can’t stop thinking about my next meal. If your child is thinking about food, he or she is not paying attention to the teacher or test in front of them.
2. Get enough sleep – Sleep is so important and it’s sometimes difficult to see that kids don’t get enough sleep, because instead of slowing down, they wind up. In fact, sleepiness can look like symptoms of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Sleep is required for the mind to process what happened the previous day and to allow the body to rest. Check out this table for the recommended amount of sleep by age.
Recommended Sleep Schedule
3. Add more fruits & vegetables – Besides the fact that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables may help reduce the risk of many diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure and some cancers, fruits and veggies are rich in vitamins and minerals that help you feel healthy and energized. But it’s hard to get kids to eat those veggies, and even some fruits. That’s why I love Juice Plus+! It gives me the piece of mind that they are getting the nutrients of 30 different fruits, vegetables and grains every day! And kid’s orders are free under the Children’s Health Study.
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Tabata – My Favorite Workout – What Is It? 

What is Tabata?

Looking for a quick, high intensity workout? Tabata may be your answer. The gym at my office started offering Tabata classes last year, and they have grown to be my favorite. But what is Tabata?

What is Tabata?

Tabata training is a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout, featuring exercise intervals that last just 20 seconds. HIIT workouts have been one of the fastest growing trends in the exercise world, due to their calorie burning potential in a short time.

Each exercise in a given Tabata workout lasts only four minutes, but it’s likely to be one of the longest four minutes you’ve ever endured. The structure of the program is as follows:

  • Workout hard for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Complete 8 rounds

You push yourself as hard as you can for 20 seconds and rest for 10 seconds. This is one set. You’ll complete eight sets of each exercise.

You can do pretty much any exercise you wish. You can do squats, push-ups, burpees or any other exercise that works your large muscle groups. My office gym even has Tabata classes with core and cardio focuses. The best part is that the total class lasts only 20 minutes!

How Tabata Works - Tabata is an Explosive and Efficient Workout

Source: eReplacementParts.com blog

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Workout Inspiration, plus a Nordstrom Giveaway

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is currently going on through August 6. If you’re needing a little fitness inspiration, sometimes a new outfit can be that motivation. Whether you can’t wait to show it off or set yourself a goal to buy something new if you workout so many times or reach a certain goal. I’ll share some of my favorite pieces from the sale.

Zella

I love Zella leggings! And even at full price, this Nordstrom-exclusive brand only averages about $54. This pair of ‘Hatha’ High Waist Crop Leggings is currently on sale for as low as $33.90. There is also a pair of full length Live In High Waist Leggings on sale for $35.90.

While I’ve never tried Zella’s tops, there are both tanks and tops included in the sale. Check out the Pace Tank ($24.90) and ‘Siesta’ Studio Tee ($29.90).

 

Nike

The Nike Free Focus Flyknit 2 Training Shoe is a popular choice for hitting the gym, lifting weights, and attending group classes. On sale for $89.90. I love a good running short, and the Dry Tempo Running Shorts ($22.90) have mesh side panels for extra cooling power. Definitely needed this time of year!

And if you like that old-school sporty sweats look and feel, the Sportswear Gym Capris ($37.90) are just what you need.

 


Nordstrom Gift Card Giveaway

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Prize: $150 Nordstrom Gift Card

Giveaway organized by: Oh My Gosh Beck!

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter daily. Giveaway ends 8/18 and is open worldwide. Winner will be notified via email.

Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog? Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Tower to Table Dinner & Tour at Hamilton Farms & Eleven Eleven Mississippi

Hamilton Farms Greenhouse

In St Louis City, Paul Hamilton (owner of Eleven Eleven Mississippi, Vin de Set, PW Pizza, The Malt House Cellar, Grand Petite Market, and 21st Street Brewers Bar) has started a Tower to Table dinner program featuring a tour of Hamilton Farms (and their 61 Tower Farms) with dinner at either Eleven Eleven Mississippi or Vin de Set. I was able to attend this past week with dinner at Eleven Eleven Mississippi.

The Tour

The tour was held at Hamilton Farms located on Chouteau Ave in St Louis city, across the street from the building housing PW Pizza, Vin de Set, and Grand Petite Market. This is an urban setting just south of downtown St Louis. Walking in, there are Tower Gardens lining both walls in 2 rows each, for a total of 61 towers.

Interior view of Hamilton Farms

The middle area is the farmer’s work area, where he had some seedlings started for future growing in the towers. Hamilton Farms also includes a traditional garden across the street where they grow tomatoes, carrots, and other root vegetables. They also have a beehive and chickens on the farm to provide fresh produce, eggs, and honey to their restaurants and brewery.

Hamilton Farms employs one farmer, who led our tour and explained how the aeroponic towers worked. The Tower Farms used by Hamilton Farms are very similar to the Tower Gardens available residentially, except the Tower Farms have 11 pods, which can hold a total of 44 plants per tower. Tower Gardens can hold 7 pods, for a total of 28 plants per tower. The Tower Farms are also able to be connected to a water source for continual replenishment of the basin.

The towers at Hamilton Farms were currently growing peppers, kale, lemongrass, lemon bomb, basil, and various lettuces. With the aeroponic growing system, there is no soil for weeds to grow and plants can grow all year within the greenhouse. The plants in the Tower Farms also grow quicker and larger than traditionally grown plants.

The Dinner

The Tower to Table Menu

When we arrived at Eleven Eleven Mississippi, they had our table ready with menus for the evening tucked into our napkins. Dinner was paired with an optional 2 course wine pairing. We started with the Goat Cheese Stuffed Banana Pepper over a bed of garden greens, candied walnuts and a basil vinaigrette. I would not normally eat peppers, but I decided to at least try everything on the menu. I ended up eating the entire pepper. It was a great little starter, similar to a salad course.

Goat Cheese Stuffed Banana Pepper

The second course was a Hickory Smoked Salmon with sauteed sorrel, patty pan squash, grilled fennel, with a lemon drop-champagne butter. This was my favorite course! Sauteed sorrel was very similar to a sauteed spinach or kale. The farmer on the tour had forewarned us that lemon drop was going to be used in the evening’s meal and that it’s commonly used to numb the mouth. Fortunately, we did not encounter any numbing of the mouth.

Hickory Smoked Salmon

The third course was a Roasted Duck Breast with russian blue potato puree, wilted tuscan kale, sun gold tomato-mint relist and pomegranate molasses. Again, tomatoes are not a vegetable that I have learned to like, but I did try it. They were very sweet, and one did the trick for me. The potato puree tasted like mashed potatoes blended until very smooth. Overall, a very delicious dish.

Roasted Duck Breast

Upcoming Tower to Table Events

I would highly recommend the Tower to Table dinner and tour to anyone in or visiting St Louis. It’s very reasonably priced, and you get very high quality food.

Tower To Table Dinners will be offered at Vin de Set August 2nd and September 6th. Limited space available. Reservations are required. Please call 314-241-8989. They will also be offered at Eleven Eleven Mississippi August 16th and September 20th. Limited space available. Reservations are required. Please call 314-241-9999.

Aeroponic Tower Garden Tour (optional) 6pm located at 2101 Chouteau Ave, dinner 6:45 pm, three- course dinner $29.99 plus tax & gratuity. Optional two-course wine pairing $11.99 plus tax & gratuity.

More on Tower Gardens

We have 3 Tower Gardens growing at our home right now. They are full of green beans, kale, cauliflower, zucchini, tomatoes, strawberries, brussel sprouts, parsley, and marigolds. They are really easy to care for, only requiring upkeep about once a week to refill the water. As mentioned above, there is no weeding! The towers run on a timer where they get water pumped up to the roots for 15 minutes, then rest for 15-45 minutes depending on the heat and type of plants. You can find out more at the Tower Garden website.

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