Pinterest A Grateful Life Lived: November 2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Deck the Halls with Gifts for Runners!

     Believe it or not, the Christmas season is upon us.  Garlands are up in the malls, Macy's already has the Santa letter boxes up and promotions of every kind are clogging up our mailboxes.  Yet, Christmas shopping takes a little more thought than a kick glance at a Walmart ad.  Chances are, you are going to have to scour the stores looking for that "perfect" gift, only to relent and pick up something subpar or worse: a gift card.  While I can't promise you the perfect gift- I'm never after perfection- I will offer up some products I have and love for runners.  Before you grab that Walmart watch or Nike Dri-Fit, take a look at some truly unique Christmas gifts for the runner in your life:

Yaktrax Pro Walker - Dick's Sporting GoodsI received my YakTrax for Christmas two years ago and can't tell you were I'd be without them today.  These awesome steel coil and spring contraptions attach easily to the bottom of your shoes and give traction for the winter ice and snow.   YakTrax have not only allowed me to get better training runs in, but have also added a sense of security.  I feel a lot more safe knowing I won't slip and slide while out on the trail.  After two years, my YakTrax are still in great condition and make winter runs less about the fear of sliding down a hill, and more about the snow-wisped trees that rise up and beckon me to run.
Price: $30 at Dicks Sporting Goods, REI

Saucony DryLete Arm Warmers
You know how it goes: you're standing in your room, marveling at the random and much appreciated warm winter day, and wondering what to wear.  It's too hot for a thermal shirt but too cold for just long sleeves.  You know you'll regret wearing a light jacket by the time you're 10 minutes into the run and have that awkward elbow sweat going on.  (*Cue the annoying infomercial voice) This is where your Saucony DryLete Arm Warmers come in.  They keep the forearm nice and warm, and can be peeled down when the run gets underway.  I took them with me when I ventured out to Colorado this summer and reviewed them HERE. They fit me great- despite my wimpy little arms- and can either be scrunched at the wrist or tucked into a waistband or sports bra strap.  Basically, they are functional and brilliant!  If you don't know the frustrations that temperature swings can cause for runners, take my word for it, and buy this gift for the runner on your Christmas list!  If you do, then there's little convincing required.
Price: $22 on

Yum! Strawberry is
definitely my favorite!
Gatorade Prime Chews
I hate Gatorade.  It's true.  Absolutely hate it.  Naturally, I also hated the Gatorade Prime drinks when my athletic trainer gave me one to try.  The Gatorade Prime Chews however, are a different story.  I'm not sure why, but I just love these things!  It could be because they are such a great pre-run or workout snack or maybe its because I consider them like my runner's candy.  Either way, I get my guilty pleasure from chewing up a couple of these around run or race time.  My only complaint is that the blue kind has the tendency to turn your teeth blue.  I found that out when my mom posted pictures of an indoor track race and I looked like I'd eaten a smurf.  I raced well though... so the slight tinge was worth it in the end.
Price: $1 (pack of 6 chews) at most grocery stores

The Massage Stick
Running is sometimes a pain in the butt.  And the quads...and the calves...and just about everywhere. I began to notice the Stick a few seasons ago and was curious as to why other runners would be running a massage stick down their legs between races.  Turns out: it's brilliance!  When I finally got my own, I was impressed.  The little bead-like knobs do a great job of getting in between the muscle fibers and working out kinks.  It's often described as the regular runner's massage-- because we can't all afford tri-weekly massages like Mo Farah or Ryan Hall.  The Stick will significantly help with muscle soreness if used a lot over time.  I would highly recommend it as I use the massage stick very frequently myself.  While you're out buying one for the special runner in your life, pick one up for yourself as a little gift.  Your legs will thank you!
Price: $27-$35 (depending on specific size and brand)

Massage Foam Roller
The GRID Foam Roller
A colorful assortment of Grid Foam Rollers
A massage foam roller works along the same lines as a massage stick, except it is better for getting large areas of sore muscles.  It also works really well on your back or your glutes as well.  This is the one product on this list that I myself do not have, but I figured I'd throw it on here in case mom takes a look at the post (and might I add that compression running socks are also a great product...hint hint).  I use the massage rollers in the athletic training room all the time and have shifted from a skeptic to a passionate advocate of the massage roller.  Massage rollers are big, foam sphere-things that you can lay on and roll back and forth on to work out sore muscles.  In addition to being better for larger muscles than massage sticks,  massage rollers also are a more lazy way of getting the kinks out of your muscles.  I will warn you though: your gift will cause extreme pain, like: it'll make any runner cringe.  Massage rollers come in different varieties from soft to hard though, so starting with one on the softer end will help minimize the excruciating pain caused by your Christmas gift.  All in all, I love using massage rollers and you can definitely feel them working.  Again, if you are an athlete yourself, you might want to pick up two of these (you know: your muscles deserve some holiday joy as well!)
Price: $25-$30 (I would recommend Triggerpoint "The Grid" or Gaiam foam rollers)

Reading Material
Whether the runner you know is an avid reader or not, most runners ooh and awe at stories of great achievement.  I for one, love getting my Runner's World Magazine every month and have Running Times on my Nook.  Another great option is "Born to Run", an amazing story of true trail running that is a mainstay in the modern Terahumara people group of Mexico.  The novel is excellently written so it appeals as a running story but also as that of unity within a community.  It's a must for this years' stockings.  Still curious? Ctlick HERE to read my review of "Born to Run."
Price: Runner's World yearly subscription is $20 on Amazon, Nook yearly subscription for Running Times is $10, Born to Run is $12 on Amazon.

Under Armour Women's HeatGear Grippy II Socks
The Christmas of 2011 will stand in my memory as the "Christmas of the Socks."  No joke.  I realized I had very few socks and- being the practical girl I am- decided to ask for some for Christmas.  As a result, I received around 30 pairs of socks.  30!  Among the masses of socks though, one contender stood out from the rest.  The Under Armour Grippy II socks were- and still are- the best running socks I've ever had.  I always wear at least one- I mismatch socks a lot- when I race.  These socks feel so light and wick away all that nasty foot sweat and have grippy dots on the bottom to give traction in the shoe.      These socks are now the running joke in our family, as we eagerly await the release of the Grippy III.  I'm not sure that is going to happen, but if it does: it will probably have  built in IcyHot or will wash itself!  Anyway, I'm content with the Grippy II for now.  As far as socks go, it's a real gem.  The runner on your list might look at you in anguish when they unwrap socks on Christmas day, but trust me: their face will light up when they feel the cool hug of the grippy II on their feet.  If you think I'm exaggerating, you clearly have not tried these socks.
Price: $12 at most athletic stores (Dick's Sporting Goods, Under Armour, Sports Authority)

A running-vacation-adventure
Plenty of organizations offer running vacation and camps.
It's also possible to set up one yourself.
Someday, when I'm somehow successful in some career I have yet to decide on, I will take my running-vacation-adventure.  It's not just a running vacation, or an adventure vacation.  It's certainly not just a vacation.  I will travel to Peru or- if I've already made it there- some other outdoor mecca, in order to have the time of my life.  It depends on the nature of the person, but for me: it can't be a tourist-laden destination or one that has little culture to enthrall me.  I want to go somewhere that offers ample ways to adventure: run, hike, kayak, swim, skydive, bike ride and just about anything else that doesn't involve too much coordination (the kayaking is stretching it).  I've talked to many runners who truly have the dream of taking a running vacation, but have never voiced it.  Perhaps this could be the case for the runner on your Christmas list.  Another, less costly option, is to gift the experience of a destination race within the U.S.  I would also be in favor of receiving this gift when I'm finished with my college career.  Allowing a running friend to take a weekend and go to another city or state to compete in a bucket-list race could be one of the best Christmas gift they get this year.  

My article isn't complete unless I get "all deep" on my readers and offer this final gift idea.  It's not a true gift idea, per say, but it is a very profitable category for any runner.  Running isn't life.  It is great to encourage running friends and family by giving them gifts that help spur on their passion and allow them to hone their skill.  However, it's also important to remember that being a runner is not a sole identity.  I am a runner, but first and foremost: I am a daughter of Christ.  My running flows from that identity.  I am also a daughter of my parents, an adventurer, a writer, a student, a sister, a babysitter and a friend.  Giving the gift of perspective- such as a gift that promotes the other facets of a runner's character- allows them to become a more complete person overall. Focusing too much in one area alone can be detrimental.  So while you're purchasing "Born to Run" and some Under Armour Grippy II socks, throw something else in the cart that- dare I say it- doesn't deal with running.  Open the horizons a little.  Give some perspective.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Family Weekend Fun!

    I won't even begin to try to justify my absence lately.  College is great, I truly love it.  It's not a walk in the park though!  I have been so busy moment to moment, that the last thing I want to do when I find a free moment, is plan and write a blogpost.  Although I love to recount my life and my share all my adventures, I need some relaxation before my brain can creatively perform beyond its limit.  This weekend will be a good time to catch up.  I'm planning a post about best running gifts-- and these go beyond the typical Garmin or Dri-fit shirt.  I'm also going to post some more devotionals, product reviews and my favorite gluten free health foods.  Get ready for some awesomeness!  Even more awesome though, was the blessed weekend I had with my family during Butler's family weekend.  Here are some quick pictures to taunt you before I give a full debrief:
Duckpin bowling!  We had a blast.  It was extremely difficult though!

I had one of the most special days with my daddy.  We had so much fun spending some goofy, quality time together!

And then it snowed Sunday night.  I love winter when there's some beautiful snow to hide the
fact that it's freezing outside.

Here was the gorgeous sight this morning I walked by on my way to the gym-- because my bike lock
was frozen shut so I couldn't cycle there.  God does work in amazing ways. I would have missed
this beautiful scenery in my rush!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Matisse, Life in Color at the Indianapolis Museum of Art

"Jazz" by Henri Matisse

      French artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954) was well known for his artistically bold uses of color and pattern. But there is also great depth and detail to Matisse’s work, which visitors to the Indianapolis Museum of Art can now see for themselves in “Matisse, Life in Color: Masterworks from The Baltimore Museum of Arts."           

     This collection of more than 100 works of art comes from the Cone Collection in the Baltimore Museum of Art and features paintings, sculptures, prints and artist books, according to the IMA.

     Rebecca Long, the exhibit’s curator, said Matisse is an artist who is not represented very well in the museum’s collection and the mission with “Matisse, Life in Color,” is to allow the people in Indianapolis to dive deeper into Matisse’s career.

In the Indianapolis area and care to read my latest article for the Butler collegian? Click HERE.

What I'm Thankful for on November 7

     I started this blog with the intention of recounting all I am grateful for, so it seems fitting that I do something "thanks" oriented during the month of November especially.  I've got a few ideas, but I'm still thinking.  More on that next week.
Amen! (photo credit:
     Anyway,  I am very thankful that my family is coming this weekend (RELATED: Family Weekend).  At the same time, I'm thankful that God has really been ministering to me lately and I am more hopeful and joyful than ever.  I am no longer in anguish waiting for to see my mom and dad, which is a positive sign that I'm-- finally-- adjusting!  In the past few weeks, I've been figuring out my schedule for next semester as well as dealing with a new tweak-of-an-injury.  Hopefully, you'll think its just as bizarre as I think: I have rib disfunction.  Or, at least, that's what the doctor thinks.  I'm getting in to see a back specialist in a few days, so I'll know more then.  It all started after my run last Saturday.  I stopped to tie a shoe at the end of the run, and then could not run again when I tried!  My upper back hurt so terribly that I couldn't take the pounding motion of running.   Since then, it hasn't gotten any better.  It hurts when I go up and down stairs and when I take an abnormally deep breath.  For most people, this wouldn't be too bad-- just avoid stairs and breath normally!  For a runner, though, it's a bit of an issue.  I haven't been able to run since Saturday and I'm pretty bummed about it.  Not to mention, I've been feeling more distant from God this week.  I think the latter is because I've been so busy with school and excited with my family coming, that I haven't been so desperate on him to renew my thoughts and keep me going.  Busyness is often stressful, but it also has a way of keeping the mind occupied.  This is not beneficial in the walk of faith, without constant practice of God's presence.
     However, I also recognize that Christ has lavished us with forgiveness, and I am so grateful for that.  I also know that it's not all about feeling.  I've been speaking to God, thanking him and communing with him the past few days.  Not having a desired "feeling" doesn't make God any less present.  For an emotionally driven person though, that's a little harder to remember.
     But now I'm digressing.  In regard to my back, I've found that I have a lot of impatience toward God about healing.  But I'm so thankful that we can always go back to the throne of grace!

Lord, thank you that you are my healer and you know what you are doing.  You don't need to be told how to do things in my life, for you have already created great and wonderful plans for me.  Thank you daddy.  Please reveal yourself more and more in my life and open my eyes to more of your presence.  I have failed this week in keeping you central amongst the excitement and chaos.  Forgive me and draw near me again.  You are all I want and all I need.  I desire your love and your presence in my life, and nothing else.  You're daddy.  You love me and I love you so much.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Family Weekend

     I don't know how Butler will be able to handle so much awesomeness at one time, but in less than three days: my family (minus the older bro) will be coming for a highly anticipated visit!  It's family weekend, so there are plenty of activities and craziness going on, and I can't wait to show them all around.  Even aside from that, it has been very busy lately, so I haven't been able to blog.  However, I will give you a little taste of some of the fun that is expected this weekend:

1. Duckpin Bowling
Yes- Indianapolis has the only Duckpin bowling lane in the midwest-- and I would know: I gave a speech on entertainment options in Indy.  It's a different kind of bowling with a bowling ball that doesn't have holes and some other changes.  I'm not sure exactly how that will go, but I can't wait to see!

2. Me not sleeping in a dorm room!
I am super excited to have 2 blissful nights in a hotel.  No earplugs, no towel over my face to keep out the light...can it get any better?  Oh ya- no climbing on a desk + dresser to get into bed!

3. Showing the family around campus
There are so many things I can't wait to show the family: the high ropes course, the beautiful canal, the hangout areas, and downtown Indianapolis.

4. Taking my daddy to church with me
I'm really excited to show my dad the church I've been attending, and loving, since coming to college.  It makes me feel a little more grownup, but in a good way that reminds me I'm still daddy's little girl

5. Showing my grammy around
I know I already included the part about showing the family around, but this is different!  I want to get my grandma up on the high ropes course...and in the likely event that that doesn't work out, I want to show her my dorm and the campus.  She hasn't seen Butler yet, so I can't wait to show her!

6. Giving and receiving as many hugs as I need to hold me over till Thanksgiving
I need to stock up on hugs for the next two weeks, naturally.  Don't call me silly-- it's a valid point!