Altitude Camp with Brooks Running

Happy Monday! I am back in New York after an incredible weekend in Albuquerque, New Mexico with Brooks.

As you guys may recall, I was invited to join the Brooks Ambassador Team last year and am currently enjoying my second year as a member of their incredible ambassador team. This year there are nine inspirational women on the team.  Even though we all love Brooks and running, I love that beyond that we are a unique group which represents various running abilities and goals.

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Brooks Blog Ambassadors from Left to Right (Janae, Jes, Tina, Anne, Emily, Me, Meghann, Kristen, and Lora)

Each year, Brooks invites the ambassadors to an annual trip which typically combines running, products and getting to know more about the brand. This year’s trip as a weekend in Albuquerque, New Mexico to better understand how the Brooks Beasts, aka their elite team, train.  Since there are benefits to training at altitude, the Brooks Beast team heads to Albuquerque for six weeks of altitude training each season. After last week’s snow and ice in New York, I was thrilled with the warm, sunny location as well as the boutique hotel where we stayed. There were around 40 awesome social media influencers, editors, and ambassadors in attendance this weekend. It was wonderful to not only catch up with my fellow ambassadors but also meet and get to know the other Camp Brooks attendees. We spent our weekend learning from their coaching staff and experts, logging miles via track and trail workouts, trying out new gear and forging relationships with other runners.

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Here are some of the highlights from the weekend of running, learning and fun! 

  • Getting inspiration when I need it most. As we’ve talked, running has become more difficult these days with every week of pregnancy. While I am not ready to hang up my running shoes and fully switch to walking and other workouts, this weekend helped remind me that even short runs are rewarding.  Out of the 9 ambassadors, 5 of them are moms so it was wonderful to hear their tips and tricks for running through pregnancy and as a new mother. There were moments when I was self-conscious of going slow, especially when surrounded by some speedy runners, but both the fellow ambassadors and the Brooks Beast team reminded me that I’m running for two and should be proud of every step. By the end of the weekend, I logged 7.5 miles of running and jogging which was a win in my book.

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  • Getting dust on my shoes on the New Mexico trails. I fell in love with trail running when we lived abroad in Switzerland but haven’t been able to spend much time on the trails since moving back to New York. Saturday morning the group took a bus to the Michael Emery Bear Canyon trail to enjoy an hour of exploring the trails with a trail run. We split up into different pace groups to enjoy out an out and back run while enjoying gorgeous blue sky and sunshine. It was so fun to run by cactus, wildflowers and prairie dogs while keeping our pace slow during the 4 miles due to the 6,000 elevation.  Our entire group agreed that we could have stayed out there for hours exploring and enjoying the sights.

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  • Feeling warm and comfortable while running the trails, thanks to new gear.  Brooks outfitted each of us with some great new trail gear for our run Saturday morning, which you can see Tina, Anne and I wearing in the below picture. The Cascadia Running Jacket is the lightest, most innovative jacket including side and back ventilation via cut-outs, pack in pocket feature and expandable back to make room for throwing it on over a bookbag or hydration pack.  Even though it is super thin, it kept us all warm during the first half of the run and many people who have tried it swear that it also leaves you nice and dry on a rainy adventure.  In addition to these jackets, we wore the Greenlight running crops, Run Happy t-shirts, and the Caldera trail running shoes. On the trail these shoes made me feel supported and stable, but the comfortable fit made them comfortable enough to wear during yesterday’s long flight home. I also love the fun pink and purple colors – a change versus what I see in most trail shoes.

  • Learning tips and tricks from the Brooks Beast elite team.  Throughout the weekend, the Beast Elites served as our coaches and trainers sharing tips and tricks with us straight from their training plans. One of the most helpful portions was the warm-up workout they shared with us at the track Friday afternoon. We worked our way through this warm-up before starting the track workout and I loved learning a few new ones as well as being reminded of old favorites. It’s so important to focus on getting your muscles warm and activated before any workout, especially speed sessions.

  • Getting motivated and supporting others during a challenging track workout. I knew that trying to participate in the track workout wasn’t a smart idea since it was 80 degrees and sunny when we arrived at the track Friday afternoon.  But, instead of sitting on the sidelines, I did my best to join in the fun while altering the workout to keep things safe.  I jogged around the track, covering around 3.5 miles, cheering and motivating everyone while they completed the following workout:
    • 3 minutes at your 5k pace
    • 2 minutes recovery slow jog/walk
    • 200 meters at your one-mile pace
    • 4 minutes recovery slow jog/walk
    • Repeat the above 3 timesIMG_1809

In case you’re wondering, I’m wearing the Pick Up Tank, 5” chaser shorts and Launch in the above picture. As you guys know, the pick up tank has been a favorite of mind both before pregnancy and during thanks to its long length and soft material. This tank stays in place for EVERY workout whether you’re doing downward dog or running sprints. I was thankful to get a new pair of the Chaser Shorts as the ones I have at home are a large and no longer fit around my growing hips and stomach. These fun blue and white shorts will be regulars throughout the rest of my pregnancy. 

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  • Learning about health and nutrition from Dr. Kyle Pfaffenbach, the Brooks Beast Elite Team nutritionist.  I wish I could share a video of this presentation as it was so interesting and so many aspects are applicable not only to elite runners but also any person looking to lead a healthier life. Some of the highlights that I captured on my phone include the following:
      • Every body is unique and therefore we each have different responses to exercise and nutrition.
      • Remember that diet and exercise go together. You can’t make bad food choices and then think that you can “run it off” later.
      • Focus on the things that you can control versus stressing over those that you can’t such as age and genetics.
      • Become more engaged in your diet by monitoring and journaling the way your fueling and training makes you feel.
      • Diet, like training, is always a work in progress.
      • Omega 3 fatty acids are a great way to help reduce cholesterol, improve recovery and serve as an anti-inflammatory.
      • If your overall diet isn’t in place, a vitamin or supplement can’t be a magic bullet.
      • Recovery and refueling are important, especially after tough workouts. His favorite recovery drink is Bob’s Redmill Whey Protein mixed with regular or unsweetened chocolate almond milk. I’m going to order some of this so Bo and I can use this after our Orangetheory workouts!
  • Having run and relaxing with the group at the Brooks Beasts house. The Brooks Beasts were kind enough to open up their home on Saturday evening for an energy bar competition, cookout and sunset party. The large group split into teams for an energy bar competition during which we developed our own recipe for either a bar or ball using ingredients like oats, honey chia seeds, almond butter, and cinnamon. It was a hilarious and fun competition resulting in some tasty treats and a lot of enthusiasm. IMG_1801

The rest of the evening we hung out at the house enjoying a barbecue and hanging out with everyone including the Beasts. Huge props to Katie Mackey who hung out with our group and answered ALL of our questions.  I also had the chance to finally meet Brian aka Pavement Runner in person after following his blog and social outlets for YEARS. He was such a good sport, taking a selfie with us ladies.   As the sun began to set everyone huddled on the huge porch which overlooked the valley and provided a perfect view of the desert sunset!

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  • Deepening my relationship with my fellow Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors.  Even though we rarely see each other in person, we shared hours of laughter and discussions this weekend about things including running, blogging, training, parenthood and more. Spaced out across the US, I’m so thankful to Brooks for bringing together such a strong group of women.

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Thank you, thank you thank you to Brooks for inviting and covering the costs to participate and take part in this incredible opportunity as well as including me as one of the Run Happy Ambassadors! I’m so proud to be part of this #runhappy brand!

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Friday Favorites–March 17th, 2017

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Happy Friday friends! I hope you all have had a great week and are looking forward to the weekend. I know my hometown friends in Savannah, Georgia are enjoying a holiday today to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Did you know that Savannah hosts the second largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the US and the third largest in the world? As I mentioned, I’m off to Albuquerque, New Mexico this weekend for fun in the sun with Brooks. As part of my ambassadorship, they annually host us for a running-focused weekend with their Beast training team. We have a track workout, trail run and nutrition session on the agenda in addition to getting a sneak peak at the newest Brooks products!

Now, let’s dive into this week’s edition of Friday Favorites, including recipes, articles, posts and other things that caught my eye this week.

  • I’ve been digging bright nail polishes thes past few weeks and am especially in love with the color I chose for yesterday’s manicure. OPI’s Flashbulb Fuschia  is a fun magenta, pink color combination that is perfect for Spring!
  • Maybe I’m behind the times but has anyone else seen the Boxed Water before? I discovered it this morning at the airport and loved that it was cheaper than the other options while also being Earth friendly!
  • I follow a few fashion bloggers on Instagram and Bloglovin’ as I love to gain inspiration from their gorgeous, styled looks. Sometimes one or two items resonate with me but I loved EVERY ITEM in Lindsey’s Spring Workwear Fashion post yesterday! Fun fact – Lindsey was one of my good girlfriends back when I lived in Philadelphia! 
  • I realized that while I’ve shared bits and pieces of my maternity wardrobe with you all, I haven’t shared one of my basics – this flattering, maternity v-neck tshirt. Available in a number of colors, this was the first maternity item I bought back in December. I now own the shirt in black, white and aqua and love that it’s less than $20, the long length will grow with my belly and the ruching adds a flattering touch.

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courtesy of Eat Live Run

  • How delicious does this loaf look?! When Jenna shared this image on Instagram yesterday I knew that I had to bake her lemon blueberry bread immediately upon returning from New Mexico! A slice would make a perfect afternoon treat next week when paired with a warm cup of tea! 
  • While we’re on the topic of baking, while I have no interest in Peeps or Cadbury Eggs come Easter season, I always enjoy at least a few Reese’s Eggs. These homemade Reese’s Eggs look delicious and may just have to be a fun Spring project!
  • Again this season, these are my favorite go-to casual shoes and I love that they can pair with everything from a t-shirt dress to jeans. I wore them non-stop while we were in San Francisco and I am sporting them today as well.
  • Bo and I are in love with mango these days, especially the fresh-cut juicy mango I found at Whole Foods earlier this week. I spent some time on Pinterest looking for mango recipes and pinned this Quinoa Mango Black Bean Salad for next week’s dinner menu. 

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored and instead is a list of the things of my favorite things this week. As normal, it includes lots of beauty and fashion items which means there are a few affiliate links via ShopStyle. It takes time and money to maintain a blog so I thank you for the support and few cents that come from clicking through the links!

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Preparation for Parenthood

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Wow guys. It has been a week. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been one of those amazing weeks. Intsead, it’s been a week that has made me wish I could just get a “do-over” or just put it to bed.  Since we landed on Monday at 7 AM, I’ve been in quite the funk.  Yesterday, when I woke up, I was growing especially frustrated with the bad mood. I actually felt as if I was in one of those cartoons with the storm cloud, or maybe snow cloud, hanging over my head.  Luckily, while I couldn’t necessarily put my finger on what was causing this feeling, fortunately, both Bo and my mom were quickly able to pinpoint a few reasons why I’m feeling especially stressed, grumpy and overall moody.

  • Day light savings
  • Jet lag
  • Post-vacation blues
  • Going from sunshine and 75 degrees to overcast and 20 degrees
  • Snow and ice that kept me inside for 36 hours
  • Losing power in our house yesterday at 10 AM

Even though I’d tried a few different tactics to improve my mood, early this morning I reached a breaking point.  Our power was STILL not on when we came home at 8pm so instead of cooking a delicious, healthy dinner we walked down the block and enjoyed a random Wednesday date night versus sitting at home in the dark.  Then, we had great preparation for life with a newborn as we were both up during the night working with the power company as they needed access to our basement. This morning when we both woke up, feeling like zombies, we laughed and said that waking up at 11:30, 1:30 and 4:30 basically replicated life with a newborn. Image result for new mom feels like zombie

 

I decided that three days of funk was enough and it was time to kick it to the curve. In typical Ashley fashion, I did some research, brainstormed and then put together an action plan to help turn things around today.

Started the morning with warm lemon water

  • Ate a healthy, protein and carb balanced breakfast
  • Took a 30-minute break to run errands which involved a sunshine-filled walk outside
  • Ate a healthy lunch that included a few of the items from this list of 11 foods to eat if you’re tired
  • Opened the shades at my desk to let in natural light
  • Scheduled an evening workout class
  • Prepared the ingredients for a healthy, dinner so we would have no excuses this evening

I’m not sure whether it’s a combination of all of the above, sharing my thoughts or the bright sun shining through my windows but I feel 100 times better right now than I did at 7:30 this morning.

I contemplated not sharing this with you guys because overall, it feels like I’m venting. But, I believe that it’s important to keep things real with you all across all my social platforms. Sunny, pretty pictures are nice but I don’t live a filtered life and never want to lead anyone to believe that everything is always sunshine and travel.

I have a lot to get done today as tomorrow I head to New Mexico for the annual Brooks Blogger Ambassador trip. I wasn’t able to make last Summer’s trip so am especially excited to meet some of the ambassadors for the first time, catch up with old friends and get inspired by the Brooks Beasts running team. We are spending Friday and Saturday in Albequerque at the Brooks Altitude Training Camp. While I don’t feel like quite the runner these days, thanks to my growing baby bump, I’m excited to enjoy warm weather and sunshine with the group as well as learn some things from the elites and their trainers.

I hope you guys are having a great Thursday! I’ll check in tomorrow from the plane to share this week’s Friday Favorites!

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