Friday Favorites: Winter Edition

Now would you look at that – another blog post! Don’t get too excited; usually when I have this mojo to blog more often it lasts for a week or two and then I disappear again. Maybe 2016 will be different, but I’m not making any promises!

At any rate, with the weather finally feeling like winter (boo!) I thought it would be fun to make this Friday Favorites more about things that help me get through the winter.

Mario Badescu’s Olive Eye Cream
My skin, like most people’s, can get extremely dry during the winter months. It wasn’t until a few years ago, though, that I noticed the skin around my eyes also getting extremely dry. Since my skin is rather sensitive and I’m not really looking for any “anti-aging” properties (though I guess I should probably start…) I just wanted a good, thick lotion.


Enter Mario Badescu’s olive eye cream. This eye cream fits the bill – it’s thick and creamy without being greasy. And most importantly, it doesn’t break me out! I’ve been using it around my nose as well as a barrier since I have a cold, and it’s been a game changer.

Oiselle Katron Vest
I bought the Katron jacket late last year, and love it. I don’t run in it, but it’s the perfect jacket to throw on for before and after workouts. It’s warm without being suffocating, and there are SO MANY POCKETS! When the weather started getting cool again, I began lusting over the vest version and started to kick myself for not ordering one (in burgen) last year.

For work AND for run. I'm really glad I didn't have to crop out Miranda's face.
For work AND for run. I’m really glad I didn’t have to crop out Miranda’s face.

I wasn’t originally sold on the shiny fabric of the 2015/16 version, but after comparing it to other options, I realized that shiny is in for sportswear puffy vests. The deciding factor for me between this vest and other brands was the removable hood. I’ve only taken it off once, but having that option made a difference to me. While it doesn’t have as many pockets as the jacket, it still has 7… which is A LOT! I can easily stash my phone, keys, a little wallet that has the essentials (ID, PATH/Metrocard, cash, debit card), and I still have room for extras… I’ve even stashed a shirt in the back pocket to be able to change into after a run! And maybe most important, is that I can easily wear it for a run or wear it as a vest with a pair of jeans and long sleeve shirt. Versatility is key!

Kahtoola Microspikes
I was actually sent a pair of Kahtoola Nanospikes in the fall to try out, but knew it would likely be some time before I was able to give them a go (which I didn’t mind, I don’t like winter and snow). We had a mostly mild early winter – I’m talking light coat for Christmas, running in shorts well into January – until this past weekend. Apparently mother nature wanted to make up for lost time, because she dumped nearly 2 feet of snow on us over the weekend! Since Jersey City was mostly shutdown all day on Saturday, I figured it would be the perfect time to give the nanospikes a try.

A little snow? Meh.
A little snow? Meh.

When I set out for my run, there was already a decent amount of snow on the ground. The plows had come through maybe once or twice, so the roads had snow on them, but it was packed and not nearly as much as the sidewalks. After being out there for only 5 minutes, I realized how much of a game changer the nanospikes are. My feet weren’t slipping nearly as much as they would have been without the grips, and I had a little extra confidence with every step (this isn’t to say I wasn’t still cautious, though, because I was was!). I was exhausted after 3 miles, but I know it would have been even more tiring without the extra grip the nanospikes provided. I can’t believe I waited all these years to give them a try!

Birchbox ARROW Boost Enhancing Lip Color
I’ve been using Birchbox since August after my sister raved about it. When I saw they were coming out with their own makeup and skincare product line that caters to those living the active lifestyle, I was immediately interested.  The line itself is still a work in progress (they have a few things available now and more launching soon), but one thing immediately caught my attention – their Boost Enhancing Lip Color. I must admit I was a little skeptical. A lip moisturizer that adjusts to your pH to give you a little color? It reminded me of those terrible “mood” lipsticks from the early 90’s that somehow always turned your lips a terrible blue. Despite this initial feeling, since I’m trying to embrace colored lips a little more and Birchbox is yet to let me down, I ordered a stick.


Let me tell you – I am obsessed with this lip color!! It’s really just a tinted lip moisturizer/lip gloss, but it’s awesome. It gives my lips a slight flushed pink color, moisturizes them, and lasts a long time. I’ve been using it every single day (and mulitiple times a day!) since I got it a few weeks ago and I’m already thinking about how I should order more to stock up. I can’t wait to try the other products in their line as they come out!

Tieks Flats
You’re probably thinking, “why in the world would someone put flats on their “winter favorites” list?!” Well, hear me out. I’ve had Tieks on my wish list for quite some time, but never pulled the trigger (I mean, they aren’t exactly cheap!). I finally got a pair for Christmas this year, and for obvious reasons (NYC should be renamed to Puddle City in the winter), haven’t worn them outside yet. That being said, I HAVE worn them inside!

I got the Vegan Silver Lake color!
I got the Vegan Silver Lake color!

Thanks to the fact that they fold in half and come with a little pouch that you can store them in, they’re the ultimate portable shoe. So, when it was snowing this morning and I thought to myself, “I don’t think I want to wear my Sorel snow boots ALL day in the office, I should bring another pair of shoes to change into…” I immediately grabbed my Tieks! They are super comfortable and really cute, and I’m already thinking about my next pair!

So that’s what I’m loving {so far} this winter!

Tell me…
What are you loving this winter? 

Back to Running… Finally!

It’s been a long time coming, but I feel like I am finally able to confidently say I’m back to running consistently. For those of you that haven’t been following along, I developed IT Band Syndrome at the end of October while training for the Philadelphia Marathon and had to DNS. I then spent the next few weeks desperately trying to rest and strengthen on my own to no avail.

Eventually I went to Physical Therapy (which I continued to go to weekly for nearly two months) and that along with a combination of strength and cardio from Refine Method, cardio from FlyWheel, strength and centering from yoga, and additional PT exercises I finally started to run again at the end of December, albeit sporadically. By the time mid-January rolled around I had “graduated” from PT, partially because I had improved and was able to run 3 miles without pain, and partially because my insurance would no longer cover my visits (even though they barely did to begin with) because sports injuries weren’t included and being able to run over a mile isn’t considered an issue by insurance (which is fine for the average person… not so much for someone that identifies as a runner).

Graduation from PT gift!
Graduation from PT gift!

I started back with a base-building plan with the understanding that if anything felt ‘off’ or it just didn’t seem like a smart idea to run on a particular day or to cut a run short, I would. I made a conscious effort not to put any future races on my calendar for a fear of having to pull out of them and I plugged along, logging anywhere from 15 to 22 miles each week in the last month or so. And to say it’s been trying on my motivation to start running consistently at the end of January/beginning of February in the tri-state area would be an understatement. There have been plenty of days I haven’t wanted to leave my apartment, let alone run along the Hudson. Yet I’ve managed to get myself out the door more days than not, giving myself some leeway when needed, but always remembering in the back of my head that my goals aren’t just going to come to me.

I don't like you, winter.
I don’t like you, winter… even if you are pretty sometimes.

This week (if all goes according to plan) I’ll hit my highest mileage week since October 14-19 and will finally be ready to tackle a double digit long run next weekend! I’m also running a 5k race next weekend, but don’t have any actual plans to race. It’s the first race in my quest for the NYRR 9+1 so I can run the New York City Marathon next fall and I’m excited to pin on a bib for the first time since September. In addition to having my eye on a few NYRR races for spring and early summer, I’ll be running the Broad Street Run in Philly again this May with some of my good friends from college. So as long as I can keep myself healthy, I have high hopes of doing some great base building so I can finally tackle the marathon I’m capable of this fall!

Tell me…
Are you training through this cold & snowy winter?
What are your spring racing plans? 

Keeping Warm: Slow Cooker Spicy Beer Chili

Thanks for all the awesome comments and sharing of Monday’s post! I am really glad that it resonated with so many of you since it was something I had been feeling for awhile, but wasn’t sure exactly how I wanted to express those feelings. I’m glad to know that I’m not alone in those feelings, but at the same time it’s a shame so many of us feel that way. So what better way to follow a post about body image and food relationships than with a recipe?

I actually made this chili last week when the temperatures were tolerable, but now that they’re back below freezing, the timing is perfect. I have to note that I was able to wear shorts on two runs last week and it was pure magic. On Sunday, I was even able to wear a tank top!

See? Tank & shorts! [Proud member of #TeamPurple for the #PickyGames!]

I should provide a little background for why this chili is “spicy” and how you can adjust your spice level based on your own personal preference. As I’ve discussed before, I love spicy foods. Whenever I’m out and a dish can be made mild, medium, or hot, I almost always go with hot. I say almost because there is a Thai restaurant near my parents that makes their hot dishes so spicy I think they’re barely edible. So when I was in the liquor store a few weeks ago picking up some beer, I noticed a lonesome bottle. The title of the beer is what initially drew me in to take a look, and only once I let it process for a second did I realize what it was. The beer was called Ghost Face Killah. At first I thought to myself “oh, that’s a weird name for a beer.” And then a lightbulb went off. This wasn’t just a beer with funny name; it was a beer with chiles. And not just any chili – the ghost pepper chili (along with Serrano, Habanero, Jalapeño, Anaheim, and Fresno). I bought it without hesitation, and after a few fiery sips, knew it would be perfect in a chili. Yes, it’s spicy, but it also has incredible flavor. I realize this beer may  not be available for everyone, so I’ve made some modifications to my own recipe so in case you can’t find the beer, you can still have a spicy beer chili of your own!

Don't let the poor picture quality fool you - it was delicious!
Don’t let the poor picture quality fool you – it was delicious!

Spicy Slow Cooker Beer Chili
– Serves 4-6 – 

4 (15 0z.) cans of beans, drained and rinsed [you can use any combination here. I used pinto, black, white, and kidney]
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 red onion, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
3 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
2 cups beer [I used the chili beer, but any beer will work]*
1 jalapeño, diced [depending on your heat preference, you can leave in or remove the seeds and flesh]*

1. Add all ingredients to slow cooker
2. Set the slow cooker on high and cook for 3 hours, or low and cook for 6-8.
3. Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, pasta, or other grains with shredded cheese, avocado, and sour cream.
Note: The spice level will depend on the type of beer you use and the jalapeño. If you can’t find the beer but want it to be spicy, add another jalapeño or two (making it 2-3). If you can find the beer but are uncertain about the spice level, you can leave out the jalapeño, or just do 1 cup of the spicy beer, and 1 cup of regular beer. The possibilities are endless!

This Weather

This winter’s weather has been the pits, and we have another month and a half left until it’s officially Spring. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m ready to move!

It's pretty, but I'm over it.
It’s pretty, but I’m over it.

I’ve lived in the Northeast my entire life – born in New York City, raised in New Jersey, attended college in the Poconos, and back to New Jersey. So I’m no stranger to snow, freezing cold temperatures, and minimal daylight. I remember snow days almost every year of school. I specifically remember two outrageous blizzards: one on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (I was annoyed that we already had the day off), and another on Valentine’s Day one year (also annoyed because we missed our classroom party). And I can’t forget the snow days in college that turned into snow keg days. Aside from that, the snow and the cold has been manageable. It’s by no means pleasant or convenient, but I’ve been able to deal with it. However, the last few winters have been abnormal; I found myself running in far fewer layers than one would expect for December and January, there weren’t any snow days, and even though it was cold, it was never that cold. It’s pretty clear I’ve lost my cold and snow tolerance, because this entire winter has been pretty miserable.

Part of the reason why I’ve been so miserable this winter is because of running. I’ve only been a “serious” runner for the last 3 winters, and up until this year, they were mild. Trying to get out the door for a run can sometimes be a struggle for me on a good weather day. Throw in snow, ice, freezing cold temperatures, and a combination of it all, and I really don’t want to run. Sure I could drive to the gym and hop on the treadmill, but there are a few reasons why this is usually my last resort. First, the gym is about a 15-20 minute drive away. If the weather is bad, driving is probably the last thing I want to be doing. Second, when the weather is bad and people can’t workout outside, everyone goes to the gym. I belong to a cheap gym that I use solely for the treadmill, and so does everyone else. I went once when there was freezing rain outside, and there wasn’t even a spot to park in their lot. And third, I would much rather run outside if I can. I know, I know, I live in the Northeast and it’s winter. I should expect these conditions. And don’t get me wrong, I do. But it doesn’t mean I enjoy it!

Snow piles literally as tall as me. Literally.
Snow piles literally as tall as me. Literally.

So what has running been like in this weather? I think my run yesterday really captured it all. After 10+ inches of heavy, wet snow on Monday morning, we had more snow and freezing rain overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday morning. So when I went out for my lunchtime run of 7 miles, I was faced with three surface options: knee-high snow, puddles up to my ankles, or 2-3 inches of slippery slush. I fluctuated between the three and found the slush to be the least offensive (barely). The entire month of January included either more snow, and/or wind chills that brought the “real feel” temperatures into the negatives. This kind of weather week in and week out has definitely been trying on me as a runner (as it has for all runners!) for more than one reason. Like I said, it’s hard to get out the door when it’s so gross outside, but it’s also sometimes hard to accept the paces that you’re running. Yesterday’s run, for example, was supposed to include 2 tempo miles (which I should be running at or below 7:30), and there was no way that was going to happen. I’ve accepted the fact that on days like yesterday, it’s more important that I was out there actually running, and not how fast or slow it was happening. I mean, there were points where I had to hop over snow piles nearly up to my hip!

I basically looked like this while "running" in the snow
I basically looked like this while “running” in the snow. Also, this picture was from last week, before it snowed another 10+ inches… and was “warm”

I’ve just been reminding myself that getting out there and doing something is better than nothing. I whine before the run, and during the run, but once it’s over I’m glad I got out there. I just keep telling myself that these are the runs that will help make me a stronger runner. I’ve also started to visualize running in warmer weather, and remembering the 100+ hot and humid days where I longed for cooler weather. Grass is always greener on the other side, eh? I really need to move somewhere that has a moderate climate – I’m tired of all of these extremes!

Tell me…
What do you do when the weather is crappy by you? Do you still get out there and run? Hit the gym? Home treadmill?

Lovely Layers

I’ve always been a big fan of wearing layers, regardless of the weather. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it stems from the fact that most shirts are a little too short for my extra long torso, and I like the extra coverage of a longer tank-top underneath. But that’s just the beginning of my layering obsession. I never seem to be a comfortable temperature – I’m either too hot or too cold… so layers let me add and remove clothing as needed in order to try and make myself comfortable.

Layers! Oh how I wish I could wear this on a run right now...
Layers! Oh how I wish I could wear this on a run right now…

When it comes to running, I tend to run on the hotter side (pun intended), but with temperatures below 20 and windchill making it feel like 0 or lower, it’s difficult even for me to overheat on a winter run. That being said, I still need to make sure I have enough layers to actually feel warm. And with the temperatures holding steady at about 25 or below the last few weeks (with the exception of a warm spell while I was out of the country, of course), making sure I have the right layers on to stay comfortable while running has been extremely important.

My last few runs have all taken place when the temperature has been between 20-25 degrees, but with windchill it’s been anything from a few degrees negative to about 20 degrees, thanks to that fun little thing called wind chill. I say it every year, and I’ll say it again; if it weren’t for the wind, winter in the Northeast wouldn’t be so bad! So what do I wear for a run when it’s in the teens and even single digits? Let me break it down for you:

Top layers

I like to wear a tank top that has a built in bra when it’s super cold, because it winds up doing double duty. Instead of having to wear a sports bra and tank top, I can kill two birds with one stone. The Oiselle High 10 Shimmel has been my go-to since the fabric is on the thicker side so it keeps me warm but still manages to keep me dry.

Just a few of my favorite tanks!
Just a few of my favorite tanks!

Next up is a mid-weight long sleeve shirt. I am obsessed with Oiselle’s Lux Layer, so I wear it as often as possible. It’s buttery soft and manages to keep you warm when it’s cold, but again, you won’t overheat in it.

Favorite base layers - Oiselle Lux Layer & Oiselle Rundelicious
Favorite base layers – Oiselle Lux Layer & Oiselle Rundelicious

My final piece up top is actually a half zip I found at Marshall’s this past fall. I was drawn to it because of the herringbone design and its $29 price tag. I didn’t think it was going to be anything special, but it quickly became my favorite super cold weather running piece this winter. It also helps that there is a zipper pouch on the left arm that’s big enough to fit my iPhone 5 which I’ve been taking with me on these icy runs just in case I slip and fall and need to call someone! I have a few other half zips (like this Brooks nightlife) and they are probably my favorite layering piece, since the zipper provides versatility; you can stay zipped up when you start your run, but as you warm up, you can easily unzip to get some air, and then re-zip when you’ve cooled off. I need to get my hands on the Oiselle Lux Layer Side Zip

Half zips FTW
Half zips FTW

Bottom layers

This is actually the first winter in my running career where I’ve had to double up on bottoms. When it’s 20 and below and the wind is howling, my thighs need some extra protection. I’m all for burning legs when you’re running, but I much prefer that burning sensation to be from hard work, and not from the freezing temperatures! So for the past few weeks I’ve been wearing a base layer of winter running tights (ones that are fleece lined have been especially wonderful), with my Oiselle Run Pant on top. A pair of running pants on top of tights might sound like too much, but it’s actually been perfect for runs where I’ve found myself in snow, since the pants give my ankles and lower legs a little extra protection.

Never thought I'd run in pants
Never thought I’d run in pants

I’ve also been doubling up on socks, which may sound like a bad idea, but has actually been wonderful. I’ve found that a pair of Injinji toe socks underneath a pair of Thorlos socks have been a perfect match. If you don’t have toe socks, a pair of more compressive socks layered underneath a thicker, looser pair also works. I was worried at first that doubling socks may result in blisters, but since I’ve been wearing two pairs of running socks that are supposed to prevent just that, I’ve been fine. And, if your legs are super cold, you could wear a pair of knee socks or compression socks as one of your layers to help keep your calves and shins warm!

Double socks
Keep your toes toasty!


While this section is labeled “Accessories” which may make it seem like they’re optional, they definitely aren’t in these temperatures! I’m talking about gloves, hats/headbands, and maybe the necessary scarf. My hands are really sensitive to the cold, and it’s safe to assume that if my hands are cold, I’m miserable. So I don’t mess around when it comes to running gloves. I’ve been tempted to run in snow gloves, but have opted for thinner layers instead to make sure I can actually move my hands and fingers if needed. After a lot of trial and error, the best combination for me is a pair of cheap gloves (I’m talking the kind you can buy at Target in a pack of 2 for $3), and then a pair of fleece running gloves on top. This gives my fingers the ability to press buttons on my watch, but it also keeps them warm. And in the event I overheat, I have a layer I can take off.

As for the top half, I opt for a headband on most days, specifically a Bondi band. While it isn’t winter-specific, I find the material to be just the right thickness to keep my forehead/hairline warm, and the band is big enough that I can use it to cover my ears. Plus, it wicks away any sweat, and if I do wind up getting hot and don’t need my ears covered, I can easily shift the headband back to expose my ears. I know that a lot of people swear by hats, especially because that’s where you lose a lot of your internal heat, but since I run relatively hot, having the top of my head exposed helps regulate the rest of my body temperature.

Gloves & Headbands galore

In terms of optional/less frequent gear, I’d include a scarf and a pair of sunglasses. I’ve only worn a scarf a few times, and that has been when it was actively snowing or the wind has been exceptionally brutal. It covers those few inches of skin that a mock neck or turtleneck doesn’t cover, and it’s perfect to pull up over your mouth and face when it’s bitterly cold. Sunglasses are also helpful for those mid-day runs when it’s sunny out and there is snow on the ground, leaving you nearly blind. They also act as a great shield from the wind – no one likes having tears pouring down their frozen face! My sunglasses aren’t anything fancy, though, they’re just your typical plastic wayfarer styled glasses you get at a party, or for $5 at the store… and they’re perfect.

So there you have it. That’s how I layer in this awfully cold and windy weather. It’s A LOT of clothing to have to put on and take off, but one redeeming quality is that you don’t sweat as much (at least I don’t, and I’m a serious sweater), so laundry frequency doesn’t have to increase that much. Even though I’ve figured out how to be comfortable on the run, I really can’t wait for it to be at least 40 degrees out again. Maybe I just need to move to California!

Tell me…
Have you been running in these temperatures? 
Are your layers similar? More? Less? 
What’s your favorite cold weather running piece?