Friday, April 8, 2011

A Few of my Favorite Things

Seeing the Sound of Music remains a childhood memory etched in my brain.  I was eight years old when my mother, sister and I got all dressed up and went to the theater.  To this day, it remains an all-time favorite.  In the song My Favorite Things, Maria has the most exquisite list of faves.  From delicious things to eat,-- crisp apple strudels, to marvelous sights to behold-- rain drops on roses, to sensory delights--  warm woolen mittens, doorbells and sleigh bells and wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings, I was in awe at the range of things Maria came up with.  I remember coming home and jotting down a list of my very own favorite things shortly after the play.  Over the decades that list has been ever evolving just as I have.  As a busy, athletic, working mom, my latest list is made up entirely of sports clothes and hi-tech gear.  I narrowed my list down to my twelve favorite running, swimming and biking things.  Without further ado, here's my dirty dozen:

1.  Asics 2160 shoes:
After suffering a foot injury and being prone to leg overuse injuries, I am a firm believer in good shoes.  I have four different versions of this shoe that I rotate through.  When the shoes have logged more than 400 miles, they retire from my running wardrobe.  Sure, cute shirts, capris, running skirts are great, but good, fresh shoes are essential.

2.  Running Skirt:
These are super comfy, they look cute and have handy zippered back pockets.  I love the unrestricted feel of running in skirts.

Modeling my favorite shoes and running skirt
3.  Sporthill shirts with thumb holes:
I run year round in the Pacific Northwest so I need running clothes that are going to keep me warm and dry.  I learned the hard way that gloves aren't for me.  Shirts with thumb holes are more versatile.  They can be worn in different ways to keep hands and fingers warm.  If/once you or the weather warms up, you can completely ventilate fingers and hands.

Courtesy of REI
4.  Nathan Hydration pack:
Until recently, on long runs I would carry water in a hand-held holster and/or plan my runs around drinking fountains or makeshift aide stations.  Now I fill up the bladder of my hydration pack and wear it!  The added bonus to hands-free running, is that there's enough room to schlep lots of other things (rain coat,  Gu,  Cliff bars, food, ID, cash, keys, camera and phone) in the pack.  This version is woman-specific and has adjustable chest straps.  Even when it's full, it's very comfortable.  The weight is evenly distributed and the pack doesn't bounce or rub.  I can't say enough good things about this handy pack.  I've also used it for cycling and hiking, as well as running.
Courtesy of REI
5.  Dirty Girl gaiters:
These gaiters keep sand, bark and dirt from creeping into my shoes and giving me blisters or irritations on my trail runs.  They add a fun splash of color and sense of humor to trail running outfits.  

Courtesy of Dirty Girl Gaiters
6.  Lightweight rain jacket/wind breaker:
Great for running and/or cycling.  Compact enough to toss in Nathan pack or tuck in cycling jersey, but enough to keep you dry and protected from the rain and/or wind. 

7:  Garmin 405:
I have a love hate relationship with this device.  It has so many buttons and features. I find it very complicated to operate.  I love it when it works, or more accurately, when I correctly operate it.  It's awesome having access to mileage, pace and workout duration.  On good days, I love setting it next to the computer to download my workout to show me how far or fast I cycled or ran.  On bad days, I dread seeing the cold, hard numbers.  It's a very accurate device that takes the labor and guess work out of determining mileage and pace.

8.  Felt ZW6 road bike:
Words cannot describe how much I love my bike!  From it's frame to it's components, this bike is women specific.  I have the petite size frame just right for my height.  Additionally the seat and handlebars have been fitted specifically to my body by the amazing Gilad at Lifecycle Bike Shop.  He spent over two hours measuring and fitting me to this bike.  It's an amazingly comfortable, smooth, speedy ride.  It was love at first sight and utter bliss on my first ride.  She gets pampered and coddled more so than any other material item that I own.  I just adore her.

9.  StarTrac spin bike:
Much to my delight, I can run and swim year round.  Cycling is another story.  It's dark and wet many mornings and evenings. Riding in such conditions isn't as safe or enjoyable and it often requires a lot of extra post-riding bike cleaning and maintenance.  If I could just take the bike into the shower with me, it'd all be good, but sadly, it doesn't work that way.  I save my bike for fair weather and crank out miles during the dark winter and rainy spring months on my spin bike.  I can get my training in from the comforts of my own home and can even ride while on momma duty, watching tv or reading!  Lately, I am finding my trainer especially useful for early morning swim/bike or bike/run bricks.  

10.  Aqua Sphere Vista Lady Swim Mask 
Who needs Italian shoes when you can have Italian goggles?!  These are the latest piece of equipment in my arsenal.  I was plagued with leaking goggles and, I kid you not, I'd have goggle lines for days after a long swim.  This swim mask is super comfy and leak resistant.  It only gives me a slight red mark on the bridge of my nose after wearing them.  The mark quickly fades and I don't have those embarrassing goggle lines for days to come.  Love these! Supposedly they'll come in real handy once I hit open water triathlons and get to experience swimming in a pack and being kicked in the face.  These babies are less likely to come off and allow for some peripheral vision.

Courtesy of REI
11.  Zoot Tri bib holder and chip holder:
This was a "welcome to the tri world" gift from a triathlon inspiration, friend and mentor.  I had no idea that such things existed, but am delighted to have them in my race kit.  I can wear my timing chip on a comfortable velcro ankle strap and my bib number can easily be fastened to my bib holder which will be quickly moved from back to front as I move from biking to running.  These can be worn for running events too and would make it easier to change shirts mid-run.

12:  Tri Suit:
I had no idea that I would like this giant "onesie" so much!  Sports bra on top, padded seat below, sleek, tight for swimming, cycling and running.  I am amazed at how quickly it dries out after my swims.

Mine is Pearl Izumi

Honorable mention:  
While these didn't make the coveted dirty dozen list, I do rely on all of the following on a regular basis:

  • Black Diamond headlamp for running the wee morning hours or winter evenings  
  • Gingies Ginger Chews to quell an upset stomach on a long, hard run.  
  • Training log to record workouts, routes, numbers, shoe/tire mileage and need for replacement.
  • Foam roller for rolling out those pesky, knotty, tight muscles.
  • Large gel ice pack with velvety cloth cover.  Icing is never a pleasant experience, but these make it tolerable.
  • Asics arm warmers.  Hands down, the best swag I've gotten at a running event.  
Maria Von Trapp has hers, I have mine, what are some of your favorite things?

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