Tag Archives: Holiday

Race Recap – Ugly Sweater Run, NYC, Dec 20, 2014

ugly sweater run citifield bg

Apologies for this super delayed recap – I’ve been celebrating the holidays with my family (aka half my readership) so I haven’t been on my computer or doing anything more strenuous than eating too many cookies.


What was going to be an Ugly Sweater Walk With Four Friends became an Ugly Sweater Slog Through A Parking Lot Alone.  I signed up for this race because it involved dressing up, hot cocoa & beer, and was a silly theme race that was relatively short (5K).  As the date approached and all my friends dropped out (I hope more because of the $50 race fee and other assorted holiday obligations and not because they didn’t want to spend the morning with me), I began dreading this race more and more.  I knew the course was going to suck because it started and ended in the Citifield parking lot, the same location as the dreadful Neon Run.  My suspicions were confirmed when they sent us this course map.

Dreadful ugly sweater run course map citifield

It was as bad as it looks, plus it was too short (which was probably for the best).

So, my expectations going into this race were low.  I was doing a novelty race, in a parking lot, alone.  That’s never a good idea.  Plus, I had to take the 7 train out to Willets Point on the weekend before Christmas.  But I had what I thought was the ugliest Christmas sweater ever knitted.  Behold!

back of xmas ugly sweater

The design covered both front and back (shown).

The original race description mentioned prizes for the ugliest sweater, but I don’t think they actually awarded any prizes because I did not get a prize and I was clearly the ugliest.  Most people dressed up except for two girls wearing all-black Lululemon.  Ladies, why?  Why did you pay $50 to walk through a parking lot on a Saturday morning if you weren’t going to wear the most ridiculous sweaters possible?  Why did you wear your cold, black, joyless inside on your outside?  Why did take time off from your Basic B duties to go to Queens?  But mostly, why did you pay $50 for this particular race?  It’s a question I’m still asking myself.

dog in ugly cute sweater citifield

This guy wins cutest sweater award.

Ultimately, though, it wasn’t a terrible race.  The atmosphere was festive, they had several large inflatable holiday decorations (like reindeer and Christmas trees), and it was fun to see all the runners in ugly sweaters and costumes (or all-black Lulu).  There was no bag check and waiting before the start was really cold, but once I started slowly trotting through the parking lot I warmed up.  I did snag some hot cocoa near the end of the race, but I didn’t get the free beer because you had to stand in a huge long line to verify your ID, then get in another long line to get the actual beer, and it was too cold for any of that nonsense.  They also had several food trucks at the finish which also had long lines, but I probably would have stayed if I hadn’t been alone.

ugly sweater run arms up citifield

Shockingly ugly, no?

The best part about the race was that they had a lot of race photographers on the course and they offered all the race photos for free online.  However, nothing makes you feel lonelier and more foolish than running a holiday novelty race alone in a parking lot, but I’m glad to have lots of free photos to commemorate the experience, especially because it looks like I’m having a great time and that’s all that really matters.

Ugly sweater run swag

So the race itself basically met my low expectations, but the free hat met my high expectations and the free photos exceeded my expectations.  Would I do this race again?  Only with other people, and only if they promised to wear all-black Lululemon.

xmas cookies where's the finish

After the race I made these cookies. Nothing to do with anything, I just wanted to show you my cookies.


How was your holiday?!  Have you been as bad about running over the last few weeks as I’ve been?  Watching the ball drop tonight?  Share in the comments!

Stridebox November 2013

Runner’s Holiday Gear Wish List

Stridebox November 2013

Stridebox for November, one of the many fun gift items you can get your runner this upcoming holiday!

‘Tis the season!  And by season, I mean shopping season!  It’s almost Black Friday, and that means we’ve already been inundated for at least a month with emails, catalogs, and commercials for holiday shopping.  I’m not complaining, since I love gear and sales and excuses to window shop (and actual shop).  If you are stumped for ideas, however, I offer this Runner’s Holiday Wish List, which is sure to have at least one item you or your runner will love so much that you’d run through a snowstorm to get it.


(Make sure anything you buy can be returned in case it’s not the right fit or match for your runner and take extra caution on buying running shoes or sunglasses, unless you know the fit and preferences of your runner very, very well.)


For the Runner Who Loves Tech

  • GPS Watch – I’ve heard great things about and am personally drooling over the new Garmin 220 and 620 watches.
  • Fitness Tracker – e.g. Fitbit, Nike FuelBand SE, JawBoneUp or JawBoneUp24
  • GoPro Camera – This would be especially good if your runner likes to do other extreme sports like rafting, skydiving, skiing, or mountain biking.
  • iPod Nano – I loved my clip nano(s) since they had the Nike+ feature built-in, plus they were tiny, self-clipping, and still had a visible display unlike the shuffle, but they are constantly dying on me, and I’ve heard other people having the same problem.  I don’t love the design of the newest 7th Generation Nano, but I’d like to get one that actually works…
  • Sport Headphones – I use cheap, over-the-head ones (waiting for them to go back down to original price of $10 each, or you can get these in the meantime), but you could also gift a fancier, sport-specific style.


For the Runner You’re Worried About

  • Road I.D. – There are lots of different styles and info you can put on a Road I.D., so this would probably be a gift certificate gift so your runner can customize.
  • Reflective vest/headlamp – Especially good if your runner is thinking of doing a Ragnar relay.  Also, Vespertine makes high-end (expensive), attractive reflective gear.
  • LED safety lights – My favorite is the Vizlet as it’s bright, super lightweight, and can clip anywhere.
  • Reflective StickersThese stick onto just about anything and can be ironed for extra staying-power (they are small, but there are a lot of them).


For the Runner Who Has Her Hands Full

  • Running backpack/hydration pack – I like my Camelbak enough, but a slightly larger daypack would be a great, more versatile item (e.g. Mountain Hardwear’s Fluid 12 or 18, a Salomon Racing Vest, Nathan Intensity Race Vest, or an Osprey daypack/hydration pack).
  • hydration bladder or bladder cleaning kit – If your runner already has a hydration system they like, you can get them an extra bladder or a cleaning kit.
  • SpiBelt or Level Flip Belt – Both are great options to hold small items without bounce.  I find SpiBelts to be easier to access during a run, but Level Flip Belts hold more without bouncing.
  • Wrist Wallet – I like the Sprigs brand wrist wallets.
  • Gas Cap Hat – I wear these hats to hold my gels for every marathon now.  The company is out of stock of a lot of the styles and never replied to my inquiry, so I’m not sure what’s going on there, but the hats are great and hold a lot of gels for easy access and without bouncing.  They are shallow hats so if you have a very large head they might not work for you.


For the Fashionable Runner


For the Runner Who is Always Sore

  • Tiger Tail massage stick – I like it much more than “The Stick” massage stick, so you can also gift it to a runner who already has a Stick as an upgrade.  You could also get them the Tiger Tail Ball on a Rope.
  • Foam Roller – You can go with the giant black roller or a more travel-friendly option.
  • Ice Wrap – Like this one or this one, I use mine all the time.
  • Full body compression suit – You’re meant to sleep in these to aid in recovery – I’ve always wanted to try one, but they’re a bit spendy.  If you’ve tried them, let me know!
  • Gift certificate for a sports massage – A full massage would probably be best, but even those 10-minute neck and shoulder massages can be great, and can be gifted in a pack.


For the Runner You Maybe Don’t Know So Well (aka Stocking Stuffers aka You Don’t Want to Spend Too Much…)

  • Socks – Since it’s a gift, get them nice, fancy ones – if you’re a runner, a pair that you personally like.  If you’re not a runner, ask someone at your local running speciality store for their favorite brand.
  • Running gloves – You can go high-end on this with gloves from North Face or Lululemon with or ones with special wind-blocking features, or you can get them a pack of inexpensive semi-disposable gloves from Target or your local street vendor.  I recommend whatever gloves you get, make sure they have touch-screen compatible tips.
  • Headbands – When it’s cold and/or windy, I always need my ears covered.  I really like this style, plus it’s reflective.
  • Hats – There are tons of options, from lightweight caps to warm fleece winter running hats, but if it’s for a woman with long hair, consider a hat that has a ponytail hole.
  • Buff – Multipurpose neck gaiter/ear warmer/hat-in-a-pinch.  I like them because if I get too warm I can easily wrap them around my forearm/wrist and not be bothered with it around my neck.  They sell smaller/shorter ones as headbands but I like to buy the regular size and cut them in half.
  • Chawel – My favorite item of 2013, the changing towel (which can also be used as a makeshift sleeping bag or actual towel in a pinch).  If your runner is doing Ragnar, this is an especially useful gift.
  • Foot scrub or a callus shaver – Kinda gross, but useful (e.g. the Ped Egg or Revlon’s Pedi-Expert kit).  You could hide this in a basket of running goodies so it doesn’t stand out so much.
  • Anti-Chafe stick or lotion – I like Blue Steel, or you can get your runner a brand you personally like.
  • Box of your runner’s favorite bars, gels, electrolyte powders/tabs/drinks – Or for even more fun, get them an assortment of new and unusual bars and treats for them to try!
  • Subscription to StrideBox – a box of running treats (think gels, bars, powdered drinks) and one physical running item (e.g. water bottle, sport towel, safety light, safety bracelet, small bag) will be delivered directly to their door – gift subscriptions available for 1 month ($20) or 3 months ($50), or you can sign up for a recurring subscription for only $15/month.


For the Literate Runner

Note that I have not read many of these books, but they get decent ratings on Amazon and I don’t think a runner would hate to get these books, unless they’ve already read them.



For the Difficult-to-Shop-For Runner

  • Gift certificates! –  to your local running or sporting goods store (e.g. Jackrabbit, Super Runners Shop, Modell’s), for a sports massage, or for an online running retailer (like Amazon, Backcountry.com, or Road Runner Sports)


For the Runner You Really Want to Impress

  • Alter-G treadmill – If you get this as a gift for someone, please contact me immediately so I can be your friend (or even better, your friend’s friend).
  • Massage Chair


For the Runner Who Has Everything (Except More Memories)

  • Race entry fee – Even better if you join them at the race (but make sure it fits in their schedule!).
  • Membership to your local running club – Especially if your runner doesn’t already belong, but you could also look into renewing their membership for them.
  • Running camp vacation – There are several different ones out there, so you can figure out which one works best for you.
  • Running classes – Here in NYC there are lots of running class options, but this might be a more difficult find in other places.
  • Private coaching – This is great if you already know a coach you like, or you can ask at your local running store, or see if your runner has a coach he’s been thinking about using.
  • Volunteer to run with your runner, or volunteer at one of their races, or even just cheer for them – We appreciate it all!


What’s on your wish list?  Share in the comments!

Where's the Finish Panda

Challenge: Streaking Through the Holidays

I’m a procrastinator when it comes to running (and other things… but let’s just focus on the running).  I often do my morning run at 5 pm, or the next day, or never.  This makes me fatter, slower, and probably more injured than I should be if I had more discipline about my runs.  But it’s a difficult habit to give up, since there’s no immediate downside to skipping a run, and a very immediate upside of sitting on the couch, drinking tea, and watching The Mindy Project.


While I’m a procrastinator, I also have a bit of the type-A challenge-lover in me, and that challenge-lover has always wanted to try streaking.  Streaking is when you run every day, at least one mile, for a set period of time (or forever).  It has nothing to do with being naked.  Last week a former Ragnar teammate sent me info about the Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak, including Marc Parent’s article about his Holiday Streak last year, and I loved the idea – run every day, at least one mile per day, from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day.  Totally do-able!  Right?  Right!  #RWRunStreak!


I have two international trips between Thanksgiving and New Year’s (Mexico and Canada, but still!) and multiple family obligations, but committing to a streak during the holidays would most certainly teach me something about my procrastination habit (you can’t procrastinate a run when you only have a tiny window in which to get it in), and hopefully improve my fitness as well.  I think I’ll need every bit of motivation I can get to actually run this December when it’s painfully cold outside and there’s a lot of tea to be drunk inside.


Just one mile a day is freeing, also.  It will still allow me to rest my body and is a lot less intimidating than my typical marathon training plans, and will also give me “permission” to lower my other scheduled runs since I’m only 14 weeks away from my next marathon (Little Rock) and already have double-digit long runs scheduled starting this week (that I’m already planning on lowering so I can recover from this fall).


So as I sit here, procrastinating my run for today (that maybe I could just do tomorrow?  yeah, that sounds good…), I’m also committing to my first streaking challenge.  Good thing it doesn’t start until this Thursday…


Have you ever done a streak?  Can you tell I’m already sorta regretting this decision?  Would you like to join me in this regrettable decision?  Share in the comments!