August 27, 2015

What's Up Charm City?: Beginner's Guide to Baltimore City Running

I've been asked all the time about where are the best and safest places to run in Baltimore or what running groups are in the city. I figured since this blog often covers Baltimore running events and groups, I should make an unofficial mini guide with some resources for new runners in the city.  


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First of all you know I'm going to mention November Project Baltimore. It's not a running group or club but rather a free fitness movement. We do a lot of running, eat hills for breakfast, and chase PRs. It's some running, stairs, and bodyweight circuit exercises mixed in with sweaty hugs, high-fives, and laughter. If you don't know anything at all, November Project is an international free fitness workout group currently in 21 cities (and counting!).   


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november-project-baltimore-workout1NP-Baltimore meets at 6:30 AM on Wednesdays at Rash Field (there's a 5:30 AM group too!) and 6:30 AM on Fridays at Patterson Park for a hill running workout. It is weatherproof and goes on sun, rain, or snow! 

Check NP-Baltimore out on Facebook for updates and fun news. 




Running Clubs

Baltimore Road Runner's Club (BRRC) is an running club for both competitive and recreational runners that includes a paid annual membership and is sanctioned by the Road Runners Club of America.  Membership includes dirt cheap races, training programs, social outings, and volunteer opportunities. They have many events on road, track, or trails so there is something for everyone.

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Me running the 2015 Prettyboy Trail Race held by BRRC

Baltimore City Pacemakers are a group that rotates Saturday long runs through the Baltimore area as well as Wednesday morning workouts at the Gilman Track. 

List of Running Clubs (some I mentioned and some others) from Falls Road Running

Running Group Meetups

Federal Hill Runners is a free group that meets Monday nights at 6:30 PM in front of Federal Hill Fitness. 

Charm City Run-Baltimore holds a free fun run every Thursday night at 6:15 PM. It's a great run for the 8-11 minute crowd and sometimes features special events and wear test opportunities from shoe companies. You can also head right across the street to Greene Turtle right across the street for a discounted beer. 

Shack Track and Field is a free run hosted the second Tuesday of every month at 7 PM starting at Charm City Run-Baltimore ending at the Shake Shack on Pratt St. The runs are posted as events on the Facebook page for each city. After the run you get a free beverage of your choice-I usually go for a milkshake!  


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Hopkins Marathon Team offers free group training runs targeting both Fall half and full marathons. 

Running Routes

This list of places to run in Baltimore from Charm City Run is a great guide to places to run in Baltimore and Maryland and includes some of my favorites. There are so many places to run so I've included my personal most common routes and favorites.  

My main running route is running along the Inner Harbor. If you hug the water you can run all the way from Canton through Fells Point to Locust Point and even make it to Fort McHenry and run that loop. There are usually lots of people walking or running so it's a pretty safe route.  


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I feel so lucky to run with this view almost everyday. 

Another great route is around Patterson Park, which is where November Project does its weekly hill workout.  It's a a nice loop which allows you to run a variety of distances.

Loch Raven Reservoir is a nice weekend route I ran a few times with the Charm City Run marathon training group. Part of it is closed to pedestrians on the weekends so it's a great place to get a long training run in on paved and off-road trails.   

The NCR Trail is a popular route for runners and cyclists alike which extends up to the MD-PA line.  

You can run all the way up Charles Street from the downtown to the county. A nice route is to take either Charles Street or Saint Paul Street up to Johns Hopkins University-Homewood area. You can run further and link up with the Robert E. Lee Park, around Roland Park, head towards Druid Hill Lake, or take 33rd street up to Lake Montebello.  

These are just some of my favorite and most common running routes but of course there are a ton of places to run! Another fun thing you can do is go on Strava or Map My Run and see what routes people have created and where most people run!

Running Resources

Charm City Run-Baltimore is my personal go-to running store, but they have locations all throughout the state.  They are the sponsor of many races, can help you get fitted for shoes, and run great training groups for anything from a 5K to an ultra-marathon. 

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Falls Road Running is another local running store in the northern part of the city that holds fun annual races such as the Celtic Solstice 5 Miler and Dreaded Druid Hills race as well as other events and running teams.   

Team That's What She Said is a great local running blog that also is a training group. Their blog offers great race recaps and Baltimore running community updates.   

Upcoming Races in Maryland from RunningintheUSA.com

Resources from Federal Hill Runners group

Boston Street Running  is a newer running store right in the heart of Canton. 

*Always run at your own risk. While most areas of Baltimore are safe for running, be smart and run with a group or friends, especially in an area you are unfamiliar with. If running alone I wear my Road ID, sometimes carry my cellphone, let someone know where I'm going, and even have a mini pepper spray wristband to wear.Baltimore is a wonderful city-just remember to be aware of your surroundings and be smart!

August 24, 2015

Rock 'n' Blog #TrainingRockBox Reveal

Disclosure: I received a complimentary box of products from Comeptitor Group as part of my ambassadorship with the Rock 'n' Roll Race series. I was not required to blog about it-I just really loved the training box. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

As you know I'm a Rock 'n' Blogger for the Rock 'n' Roll Race Series so I got hooked up with a complimentary tourpass to run 3 races this year and promote the race series.  As you can imagine I was extra surprised when this big box was sitting by my door one day.  

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It was heavy, so that always means it's a really good present like Christmas when I was little, right? 
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Inside the box was a sweet, handwritten note from Ashley who is the main #rocknblog contact from the race series to the all of us ambassadors.
  
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There was also this nifty little diagram that showed everything that was in the box along with all the brand's social media handles (an important detail for a bunch of bloggers). 

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I did a fun (and only slightly awkward) initial unboxing on Persicope (follow me @BreatheBlog!) right when I received the box. Now since I've had some time to use the products I thought I'd share everything that was including in this amazing training package. It includes a bunch of products I need for training and travelling to races.  

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Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series (@RunRocknRoll | #RocknBlog)

In the box: 2015 Team Rock ‘n’ Blog Brooks Technical tee

It's a nice women's sized gray official Rock 'n' Blog tee I can't wait to rep at races.

Brooks Running  (@BrooksRunning #runhappy)
In the box: Brooks Performance Hat

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I'm rocking the new Brooks hat in this photo from my most recent marathon training recap! I love it! 
This hat has nice venting and a really cute blue and purple pattern on it. It even has a little zippered pocket on the side that I've used to stash my house key! 

CEP (@ CEPCOMPRESSION)
In the box: CEP Compression Socks

I have actually never tried CEP compression socks so I was curious to see how these were. They are a bright royal blue (a color I don't have!) and are nice a tight. Perfect for post-race recovery!

Garmin (@GarminFitness #GarminRocks)
In the box: 35% off online coupon

I'm still happy with my Garmin Forerunner 10 right now, but maybe I'll treat myself to a new watch in the winter to encourage myself to run as it gets colder. 

In the box: Endurance Formula Powder Stick

Now we all know I'm a Nuun girl, but since the Rock 'n' Roll races have Gatorade products on the course, as do many races, it's always nice to try the product on the course beforehand just to make sure it won't upset my stomach if I need to use it in a race.  

GU Energy Labs (@GUEnergyLabs #GUforit)
In the box: GU Energy Gels

I'm a fan of using GU for marathon training and mostly stick to my favorite salted caramel or the salted watermelon, chocolate, or caramel macchiato ones.  I was curious to try the new Roctane flavors in this box because they sounded sweet or fruity which is right up my alley including Vanilla Spice, Strawberry Kiwi, and Blueberry Pomegranate. 

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Fueling with a salted watermelon GU during a marathon training run last year. 
Nature’s Path Foods (@NaturesPath #EatWellDoGood)
In the box: Qi’a Cranberry Vanilla Cereal

This is a yummy superfood cereal of sorts made with chia, hemp, buckwheat. I like it because it has lots of plant-based protein and fiber which is great on top of smoothie bowls or yogurts post-run because it gives a little crunch. 

Maui Jim Sunglasses (@OfficialMauiJim  #mauifilter #mauireflection)
In the box: coupon for 70% Maui Jim products after taking their online training

I really don't have any "nice" sunglasses. I literally am currently wearing $10 Target shades out and about and these sunglasses I got for free at a race expo when I'm running. It'll be nice to scoop up a pair of sweet Maui Jim sunglasses! I'll just pretend I'm actually hanging out in Hawaii instead of Baltimore. 
Sports Authority (@SportsAuthority)
In the box: $25 Sports Authority Gift Card

Sports Authority was one of two places I shopped in high school for soccer & sports gear thanks to my dad being a big fan. It's still a spot to go when I'm out of town and need some gear or products. I know this gift card will come in handy for any last minute pre-race purchases. 

Transamerica  (@Transamerica #Active4Tomorrow)
In the box: Power bank cell charger

Between traveling to and from races and taking Rock 'n' Roll Racecations, a running blogger can always use a portable bank cell charger. I love these for when I travel because they fit in my purse and ensure I'm able to take photos on my phone and share my adventures with everyone.  

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If you are curious about running a fun, big race in destinations all over the world, check out the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon series. Be sure to meet all my fellow Rock 'n' Bloggers-it's an amazing group of runners! 

You can also still use my discount code RUNWITHLAUREN for $15 off any remaining half and full Rock 'n' Roll marathons in 2015 including the Philadelphia Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon 2015 I'll be running this Halloween.  

What's your favorite training product?  What is something you always pack when you travel for races? 

August 20, 2015

Vanilla Cookie Protein Bites {Designer Protein Aria Powder Review}

Disclosure: I received a complimentary tub of Designer Protein Aria protein powder through my ambassadorship as a 2015 Women's Health Action Hero. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 


Don't forget you have until Monday 8/24 at 12 AM to enter my SPIbelt giveaway!

There are a lot of protein powders out there. Most of them are just okay. I've found some I like but also have tried many I don't. When I received my Designer Protein in the mail I honestly wasn't expecting much after trying so many different protein products over the past few years. I had picked up an older version of Designer Whey protein from Trader Joe's years ago and don't remember it being a stand-out. 

I was however, excited when I started to read about Designer Protein (yup, name change) and all their new & improved offerings.  They have lots of different protein powders based on what you want and need, all for 100 calories or less per serving. I was sent the Designer Protein Aria (100% plant-based) in vanilla. I think the taste is good, and it blends easily in smoothies. I like that it only retails for $14.99 for a 12 oz tub so if you are flavor crazy like me, you can buy a bunch of different kinds to keep on hand that aren't huge, expensive protein tubs. 

What I love the most is that it's a plant-based, all-natural formula with 15 g of soy-free protein plus  like all the other Aria protein powders, it has wellness helpers like biotin, vitamin C, folate, calcium and vitamin D. It hits all the bullet points with being  non-GMO, certified vegan, gluten-free, kosher, and no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners.  


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I tried the protein in a few smoothies and drinks. Next I was inspired by a Designer Protein recipe packet that was sent along with my powder that included a big fruit smoothie bowl. I made my own twist on an acai bowl using a frozen acai packet, banana, cashew milk, maca powder, and my vanilla Aria protein powder. I topped it with shredded coconut, half a banana, raisins, and some oats.   

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This week I was looking to make some protein bites to grab as a quick pre-workout bite or snack. I ended up whipping up these awesome little vanilla no-bake bites that I made with what I had on hand, including my Designer Protein Aria. 

I know, another balls/bites recipe-what a basic blogger move, haha. I really do love having a container of little bites in the fridge to quickly grab or pack as a snack for work. I've been eating 1 or 2 before a run or workout in the morning this week since I'm the type of person that wakes up hungry and needs something in my stomach. They are nutty and slightly sweet and delicious. It's really hard to not eat half the batch in one sitting!


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Vanilla Cookie Protein Bites
Author: breathedeeplyandsmile.com
Time: 10 minutes
Makes: 10 bites (~95 cal per bite)

Ingredients
1/3 cup oats
1/4 cup whole almonds
2 scoops Designer Protein Aria vanilla protein powder
2 tbsp agave
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5 dates, pitted

Instructions
Mix all ingredients in a food processor or high-powered blender until combined and roll out 10 balls with your hands. Store in refrigerator (or freezer) and enjoy! 

Notes
For the agave and the maple syrup you can substitute honey or another liquid sweetener for either or both. 


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What's your favorite protein powder? Do you have a protein-packed snack you are loving lately? 

This post was linked up with Wild Workout Wednesdays, Thinking Out Loud,and What's Cookin' Wednesday

August 17, 2015

Chicago Marathon 2015 Training Recap {Weeks 7&8} & SPIbelt Giveaway

Disclosure: I was sent a complimentary SPIbelt to review and another to giveaway to readers. As always, all opinions and thoughts are my own.  

{Read about Weeks 1&23&4, 5&6 of my training} Weeks 7 and 8 mark the almost halfway point of training. It's stressful and crazy. I just booked my flights to Chicago so I hope everything works out with my school schedule since it'll be right around midterms. Yikes

I've also got a mini review & giveaway for SPIbelt after my training recap below so enter away!

Be sure to check out the hashtag #breathedeeplyandrunchi on Twitter and Instagram for more snippets of my training! 

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#breathedeeplyandrunchi

Chicago Marathon 2015 Training Recap

Week 7

Week 7 was an okay week of training.  I had some speedwork at PR day at November Project, went to a Crossfit class, and did a couple easy treadmill runs. I spent the long weekend with my family in New Jersey which always throws me off because of all the eating and family time, but I managed to sneak in a quick treadmill run and got my long run done.

I had 16 miles to do on Saturday morning solo so I headed to the local park, which is really small with the loop around it on being about 2.5 miles. I'm sure all the few fellow park goers there thought I was some crazy lady running a ton of loops around the park. 
Saturday morning park vibes
I don't know many places where I grew up to run plus like the benefit of water fountains, paths, and bathrooms there so I extend the loop for as long as I can plus switch up my direction and the intersecting trails I take. The weather was humid but not too hot and it was nice to be able to keep multiple water bottles by the car to take water breaks when I passed my parking spot.  

I had some miles where I was getting bored and sick of looping around but ended up having a really great run and ended it with 3 race pace-ish miles in 8:20, 8:10, and 7:45. Having a strong finish plus a semi-frozen watermelon Gundalow Juice waiting for me made for a happy runner.  
I'm loving my new Brooks Running hat, too. 
Week 8
This week really rocked. I got in some cross-training, an easy run, and a short run with 2 tempo miles. I even squeezed in a nice strength circuit workout on Tuesday that left me sore & sweaty.   I knew I was going to the DC blogger brunch on Saturday so I decided to try to get my long run of 12 pace miles out of the way on Thursday morning. 

I woke up later than I wanted on Thursday but decided to go for it since everything was packed and laid out. The weather was really humid but overcast and I ended up seeing Sarah at the end of her run and running 3ish miles with her. My pace miles weren't spot on but most were 15 seconds or less off from 8 minutes so I'll take it.  I felt really good and was totally in the groove by the end, bopping along and singing to my iPod along the Inner Harbor during the last few miles. Being on my abbreviated school schedule for work meant I could follow up my long run with a relaxing big breakfast, coffee, and blog-reading.

I also really loved wearing my new Momentum bracelet and ridiculously neon pink Feetures! compression socks.



I ended up going to a fun cycle class at Sculpt DC on Saturday morning which made for a great way to sweat a little before brunch. The 45-minute class used small weights for one section of upper body work and involved a lot more hill-climbing than intervals. I liked that they had nice shower and changing facilities (which is part of the reason why I chose the studio) and used colored lights that the instructor changed periodically during the class for different sections of the ride.

The bad: I have been really bad at stretching and foamrolling. As in not doing it really at all. Friday after a bootcamp class the instructor was helping stretch out a couple of us and cracked my back really well. When he held my leg to try to stretch out my hamstrings he reminded me to stretch because I'm really tight. 

The good:  One of the most important parts of marathon training is getting in that long run mileage and so far I'm happy to say I've felt really good on my long runs.  Besides my run with stomach issues, my fueling has felt okay, and I've been able to handle some more pace miles and faster finishes.  I also haven't been as sore post long-run as I remember being the past two training cycles.    

Things to Focus on: I still need to focus on the basics-sleep, hydration, and eating. I'll have a good couple of days and then fall off the track. I also have noticed more exhaustion and afternoon napping so I know I need to get better sleep. 


As a female runner who runs around the city all the time, I like to carry my phone on me even though it drives me crazy. I can shove my key, a few dollars, and any fuel in my shorts pockets or water bottle holder if need be, but the phone needs a compartment that is not my hand or a heavy armband.

 I have tried multiple different ways to carry my phone in an effort to find something that will bother me the least so I was interested to try the SPIbelt after they reached out to me. I have a Samsung S6 phone which is on the larger side so I decided to try the Large Pocket SPIbelt in blank with pink detailing. This SPIbelt retails for $22.99 and has an adjustable, stretchy clip waistband (the original SPIbelt retails for $19.99).
Post-November Project shot. I carry my phone, a few bucks and my key with me on my run to NP workouts.

So far, it is my favorite running belt I've tried. It comes in lots of colors and patterns.  It's made of a comfortable stretchy material, and has a nice expandable 8.9" pocket (the original has a 6.5" long pocket).  I like that the pocket expands to fit around my phone and whatever else I'm carrying.  SPIbelt claims that the belt doesn't bounce, and while I find it to be the most secure of the belts I've tried, there is some bouncing if I load it up or have it sitting on certain spots of my waist. If you just need to carry keys and a couple gels there is hardly any bouncing.  Overall, it's a pretty good option for carrying things on the run. 

SPIbelt was lucky enough to send me a large pocket SPIbelt in turquoise and black to giveaway to one of my lucky readers. All you need to do is enter using the Rafflecopter below before 8/24/15 at 12 AM EST to win.  



This post was linked up with Tuesdays on the Run (with AprilPatty, & Erika) , Weekend Snapshots, Weekly Wrap, and MIMM.  

How was your week of workouts?  Do you carry things with you when you are running?

August 14, 2015

5 Friday Favorites 8/14/15: Nuun Update, Flatout Pizza, and Kardashian Dream Fitness Closet

My blogging has been sporadic as I get ready for school in a couple of weeks and keep up with my busy schedule. This is probably how it's going to be until I figure out how my new schedule is going to work out. Anyways, it's one of the last few weekends of summer (HOW?!?), and I still don't understand how I've only been to the beach once. That needs to change. I also need some more ice cream, watermelon, and sunshine in my life.  

5 Friday Favorites

1. Favorite Afternoon Snack: LesserEvil Himalayan Sweetness popcorn

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I've talked before about LesserEvil snacks and their avocadolicious popcorn, but this week I've been absolutely loving their . As an ambassador I get a big box of snacks every month, and between my boyfriend and I, this is always the first popcorn to go. 

It's basically a kettle corn popcorn, except it isn't overly sweet or glazed. It's the perfect sweet snack for me to munch on in the afternoons at night and is awesome mixed in a bowl with their wasabi popcorn. Only 110 calories for 2 cups, but I'm always eating double of that! 

2. Favorite Natural Product: Rocket Pure Friction Therapy Anti-Chafe Balm Stick

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 I was really excited to receive my own Rocket Pure Anti-Chafe Balm Stick after winning Colleen's giveaway.  It's just like Body Glide, but it's made with all natural ingredients include tea tree oil. 

I love finding natural products to replace others if they work just as well because I know that natural is better. I started using tea tree oil after my nose piercing to get rid of a keloid and since used it on acne, insect bites, and scrapes so I know it rocks! 

I used it on a couple runs this week and and happy to say it prevents chafing and the tea tree oil gives it a nice, fresh smell.  

3. Favorite Improvement:  Nuun Active 

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It's no secret that as a Team Nuun athlete I'm a huge fan of Nuun. I was lucky enough to get to test out their new & improved Nuun Active tablets in one of my favorite flavors-strawberry lemonade.  

The awesome people at Nuun tweaked the formula for faster absorption keeping everything else you love about Nuun including its 9 flavors and blend of 4 electrolytes. 

Nuun Active is vegan, non-gmo, gluten-free, less than 12 calories, and free of any artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners or preservatives-all reasons why I love it!

4. Favorite Quick Meal: Flatout pepperoni pizza

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I've been whipping out personal pita pizzas for myself since college, but lately I've been all about the Flatout flatbread pizzas. Apparently they make pizza crust ones now, but I just use a regular wheat flatbread, crisp it in the over for a couple minutes and then top with a little tomato sauce, shredded cheese, and turkey pepperoni. 

When I'm short on time or just feeling lazy I  make this with a side of veggies, and I'm set for dinner. It doesn't replace real deal pizza, but it's super yummy.  

5. Favorite Closet: Khloe Kardashian's fitness closet

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{Image from Self.com}

The Kardashians are a bunch of celebrities I love to hate, but I've always had some respect for Khloe. Now I just wish I had her fitness closet because OHMYGOD-total dream fitness closet. Yep, she has a 150 foot square closet in her house JUST for fitness things with everything beautifully hung and displayed along with a mini fridge stocked with water. I'd load that baby with juices and snacks! Who wouldn't want to work out when you had that in your house with tons of pretty things to sweat in?  

I'm also linking up with ClareJill,Katie,DC TrifectaHeather, and Meet me at the Barre.



What is one of your favorites from the week? What would be in your dream fitness closet?
 
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