Introducing jmpLite

I learned about #GivingTuesday at school this year. My daughters attend a private school that is a non-profit, and every dollar here helps support education – from the technology the students use to the continued learning for the teachers. We have over 45 athletic teams, a thriving musical theatre program, ongoing community service projects and were among the first in the area with a Makerspace so students get hands-on skills for better problem solving and better futures.

jmpliteef9c6_largeIt is rare, however, for people to donate to a cause they don’t feel an emotional pull to. And as much as I love the school we’ve been at for 14 years, I have more readers who are runners than members of my community. (Well, arguably runners make up their own community…) So I have found a cause to tell my running friends about this #GivingTuesday. It is the jmpLite.

I read about this runner’s light online and have not been contacted by them, nor am I receiving compensation for posting this information.

jmpLite is the first safety light that never uses a battery. Running safely at night usually involves a light that often dies, or requires batteries that are bad for our environment. So two running friends designed a safety light that needs no batteries – ever – and thus costs us less and causes less harm to the environment.

  • Total Weight: 1.1 oz
  • Size: 1.4 x 2.2 x 1 inches
  • Water resistant (see water dunking video on their Kickstarter page!)
  • Armband and Headband: Optional accessories. You can just clip it to your running skirt, shorts or shirt.

How does it work?
Wind turbines, hydroelectric generators, and gas powered generators all produce electricity using basically magnets and coils. Our jmpLite uses the same basic principals, but in a very compact and efficient way, fine-tuned to take advantage of the running motion.

Want to know more? Check out the jmpLite Kickstarter campaign here. For just a $15 pledge you may be among the first to own a jmpLite!


Smelling Like a Non-Runner

You can avoid stinky running clothes by dressing like this guy, or just try WIN detergent!

You can avoid stinky running clothes by undressing like this guy, or try WIN detergent!

When I lead teams of runners through a Ragnar Relay, I get a lot of the same questions asked over and over:

  • How do I stretch my aching I.T. Bands?
  • Do you have Vitamin-I in your bag?
  • How fast *is* Brian??

and inevitably

  • How do I get the running funk smell out of my Ragnar gear?

You see, with a Ragnar you might run your first leg at 9am on Friday, and might not do your laundry until 9pm on Sunday. In the meantime, if you care about the other clothes in your bag staying clean while living out of a van, and the noses of those around you, you’ve probably taken the clothes you just ran your last leg in and balled them up in a plastic bag, which is now zipped up in a duffel bag in the trunk of your team’s van. Roughly 40 hours later, that bag will be opened over your washing machine while you hold your breath!

So although any running is sweaty, Ragnar running ferments the scent. Gross.

Here’s my typical answer to the question of “How do I get the smell of running funk out of my Ragnar gear?”

unstoppables161314_90x90I buy the cheapest laundry detergent I can find (like Xtra on sale at Walgreens with a coupon for $2) and add in Downy Unstoppables scent booster (with a coupon from Target) in whatever the aqua color scent is. I use just enough Unstoppables to fill the bottom of the cap for regular dirty laundry, and double that for Ragnar/camping gear/super gross smelling stuff.

winlaundryRecently I was introduced to a new laundry solution for those items that permanently smell like a high school locker room. I tried a free bottle of WIN Sports Detergent. The science behind WIN is made specifically for the technical fabrics of most workout clothes. It doesn’t just cover the scent or clean the clothes, as I understand it – WIN sports detergent goes beyond simple cleaning and breaks down the bond between your leftover deodorant and stench on the garment, eliminating the bacteria and yuck left behind. Bye bye oils and residue! Bye bye odor on synthetic fabrics! Hello fresh scent!

I’ve tried half the bottle – 5+ loads of laundry with WIN. I am happy with the performance of the product. I feel like I had a good system figured out, but this does the same thing in terms of making my clothes smell better with just one product instead of two.

I asked Brian what he thought of how WIN washed his running gear. He actually sniffed the crotch of his shorts that came out of the dryer and said, “This doesn’t just smell not gross, it actually smells pleasant. Without smelling flowery like a girl.”

The question is, will WIN help my athletic gear stay in better condition in the long run? Only time will tell. I kind of want to get a new race shirt and just wash it in WIN from day one and see if I notice a difference over time, rather than rewashing items I was already wearing and washing.

Do your own experiment! Try WIN for yourself on your sweaty, stinky gear! I’ll help you with a coupon code. Use this coupon code for $5 off a purchase of WIN: WIN-IAZQ-YXFZ and it’s not just a code for first time shoppers. You can use it over and over again!

If you don’t like online shopping, I know there are a handful of stores near me selling WIN. You can check their online store locator to see if someone near you is selling it too.


For one lucky member of the Tampa Bay Bloggers I have one free bottle of WIN detergent!! (I don’t want to ship it, see.) Comment below and tell me which recent fitness activity left your clothes in their WORST state ever! Mud? Lake? Marathon? I’ll pick a random winner who bowls me over with their wit and stench by midnight Nov 5.

Ready – set – comment!


Celma Mastry Ovarian Cancer 5k

Last week was my first time participating in the One Step Closer to The Cure 5k

I didn’t race this 5k one bit. In fact, we were the last ones across the finish line!

My friend Shannon is a 2 time ovarian cancer survivor. This is not a friendly disease, and she is lucky to be as healthy as she is right now. She is strong, positive and simply a delight! Shannon put a team together for this 5k and asked me to be on it. At the last minutes, I volunteered to be the team photographer.

The 5k took us one and a half hours! We took photos, told stories, and enjoyed the gorgeous views of the St Pete waterfront course. I met some of her friends and neighbors too.

Shannon prepared aqua sashes for all of us to wear, to match the aqua ribbon for ovarian cancer awareness. I chose to wear one that said “Laughter” across it, because laughter makes darn good medicine! It was held closed with a Relay For Life pin, which was appropriate because my daughter captains a Relay For Life team each year. Fun coincidence!

wendyshannonSpeaking of my daughter, she is a member of the Interact Club at her high school, and they volunteered at this race. She has had a special bond with Shannon since they met when she was 3 years old, and very excited to hug Shannon in the middle of the course. Some of the high schoolers gave directions and some handed out water. Considering the high temp and humidity and the number of cancer patients and new survivors at this race, there were not enough water stops along the course. Shannon mentioned it right away. I had water in my backpack to share.

I saw friends along the course. Some were in the race and some were just out for a morning run. Wendy also saw two of my girlfriends out for a walk who didn’t know we would be downtown. She had time to talk to them about school and her classes between the 7:30 5k obstacle course runner start and the 8:30 5k race start. (There was also a 1 mile for kids).

Our team cross the finish line with our arms around each other and Shannon in the middle. We all supported each other!


Then we went for brunch at Cassis, where Shannon went around the room and said how she knew each one of us. It was sweet!

I’ve never been last in a 5k before and I couldn’t have cared less. I really didn’t want our time together thinking about how lucky we all were to end.


Ragnar Tahoe Trail Relay 2013 recap

Although Brian and I have put together and led roughly 15 Ragnar Relay teams of strangers, the Ragnar in Tahoe help a lot of new adventure for us.

First: we brought 2 running buddies from home along with us
2nd: It was the first TRAIL relay we did, instead of a road relay
3rd: I hadn’t been to Lake Tahoe before. That’s not entirely true, I went when I was about 3 years old.

Flying to California from Florida can be grueling. We flew from Florida to TN, to CO, to Reno and then drove to the CA side of Tahoe about 75 mins away from the airport. But we had 2 friends from Florida on our flights, and HGTV to watch on Southwest Airlines. Lots of House Hunters was viewed while we were in the air!

And when we landed, we were treated to some gorgeous views!

viewOn the way from the Reno airport to the race resort, we stopped at Wal Mart for supplies and Subway for dinner. Much of our supplies came in huge duffles on the plane with us, but there are usually last minute purchases of water, sunscreen, fruit and granola bars – things that don’t fly well.

What does fly well are lawn games, which we purchased to make our campsite a little more fun, perhaps even drawing other teams around to hang out and play. We discovered that Dan L. calls “Ladder Golf” — wait for it — Grandpa’s Balls!

The race was held at the Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort. There were tall pines and ski lifts and lots of steep hills. About 2 weeks before the event, the resort received permission to blast an area of their property with dynamite. It was the area all of the teams were meant to camp on, so we were moved to camping on an asphalt parking lot. Sure, the was gravely and hard – but it kept the bugs out of our food and the bees and rattlesnakes were much further away! I see a definite plus in that! I think I came home with just ONE bug bite.

Teams for this relay consist of 8 people. There are 3 trails, and everyone runs all 3 trails. There is one exchange points that all teams use to pass off the team belt/number/bib, and while your runner is on course you can hang at the camp site, talk, eat, sleep, etc. We always inform our teammates that bringing earplugs and eyemasks are a good idea, because you never know when you’ll be able to catch a few ZZzzs.

Ragnar Tahoe Trail team shirtWe thought the concept of running and camping and hanging out was so desirable, we actually purchased 2 teams. We got 12 members easily, but had trouble after that. We named the teams TaHoes and TaBros. (T-shirt art above) 2 of the TaBros agreed to run double to make up for the missing team members.

The 3 trails were:
Green: 2.7 miles
Yellow: 6.7 miles with a LOT of steep uphill climb in high altitude
Red: a .5 mile run to a ski lift, up to the very top of the mountain, and 7+ miles down to the base.

So runner 1 runs green, runner 2 runs yellow, runner 3 runs red, then back to green again – but this time it’s runner 4… and so on until everyone does all 3 loops. It’s like 117 miles or something like that. Whatever it is, it’s shorter than the average 200 mile Ragnar Relay on roads.

Ragnar Relay Napa Valley reunion

Uncorked! reunion

We had friends at this Relay! Some of our Ragnar Napa team members were there: Laura, Wendy, Patrick and Chris. Michelle and Maria from that team were on our TaHoes & TaBros team, so we had a mini reunion. 2 of our Del Sol Ragstars team members were there: Shannon and Maia. Cheryl from our TN team was there with her husband in great Doc from Back to the Future shirts. Plus with Brian (and Maria) from that team on our TaHoes & TaBros team, and Dan C from our Shave the Whales Northwest Passage team, and Ben from TN – it was a little nutty with who knew who.

Our other TaHoes & TaBros may be seen here.

While we were picking up extras at Wal Mart, our first 2 team mates to arrive at the campsite, who drove up from their home in CA, texted us and warned us that it was thunderstorming. It was about 6pm. Luckily, by the time we drove up there it was 9:30pm, and the rain had stopped. The darkness didn’t make it easy to find 2 strangers with a tent in the dark, however, so I drove a minivan up and down the campsites saying, “Tahoes? Tabros? And Tahoes here?” Later Megan from Nuun said she heard me and it was cracking her up!

But we found our team, and unloaded our gear, and pitched our tents and inflated our air mattresses. Yes, if that makes us cheaters, than we cheated! We also strung colored LED lights (nondenominational holiday lights in primary colors), so the other van and Friday arrivers would be able to find us easily.

campsitenightN3357We hung out talking in our team shelter much too late, but it was great to get to know each other. Plus we had a 1pm start time and a 1:30pm start time, so we could have slept in. I almost did, but I had to get up to use the bathroom at one point. I found the port a potties, and realized the clear sky and huge moon shed so much light I didn’t even need my head lamp. That was cool!

Potable Water at Ragnar

how we got our water

9am was about the time people were awake for real, finding potable water, brushing teeth, and eventually heading down to the Ragnar “Village” where there were corporate sponsor booths, the Mess Hall tent for eating, the major exchange/start line/finish line, and people. Fit, sweaty people. The weather probably got up to about 80 degrees and down to about 54 degrees, so it was warm in terms of running weather the whole weekend.

We played some games and shared some food. I chatted with the DJ like I always do. I even found a quiet spot on the trail before any of the teams started to do some Yoga.

Raffi trail yogaThe poor DJ had to repeat the same safety briefing almost every half hour from 11am-2pm on Friday until every start time heard it. Usually volunteers do that, but since everything was more compact and he had a microphone, it kind of made sense. Most of his schpiel explained the signs on the roads and reminded us to “Leave only footprints, take only pictures” – pick up your trash people!

Ragnar trail signsdanger93030

ragnar safety briefing

Listening to the Safety Briefing

Dan at start Ragnar TahoeDan L. was our first runner out (above). We cheered on our starters, and as people hung out near the exchange point, there was almost always someone coming by to cheer for. Different runners have different paces, and all the teams had staggered start times, so at any moment you could grab a cowbell and go high five someone finishing their leg.

I found a team called “Bros and Tahoes” and got my photo with one of their shirts.

otherbros130726_133932Our first downer was when one of our runner came in from the steep, uphill yellow leg and was totally out of breath. We took her to the medical tent, and after firing a lot of questions they basically told her she should eat more, drink more, actually drink the water she carried on the trail with her, and slow down a bit because of the altitude. Everyone was saying the yellow leg was tactical and sadistic, but I think everyone but her would do it again.

Friday evening rolled around, and I overheard a staff member say they didn’t have people to bus tables as the dinner rush started. (Free pasta dinner for everyone!) I told him I would volunteer for 2 hours if he gave me plastic gloves. So for 2 hours I reminded everyone at dinner that the dishes could all go in the compost bin, and I cleared plates for those who looked like they should be post-race sitting. I guess it was mid-race sitting. The food was pretty good. The salad probably should have had the dressing on the side and the pasta could have been whole wheat, since they knew this was a generally healthy crowd, but oh well. I was a good girl and skipped the cookies, I have 3 pounds to lose from my May vacation.

smores tableAround 10pm I helped out again, this time at the s’mores table. There were 3 firepits, and TONS of marshmallows (including vegan), graham crackers (including organic) and Hershey bars. TONS. I hung out there for about an hour helping, and came back from 5am-8am to do it again because no one else was. I could have slept in, but I decided talking to people would be more fun, I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

Ragnar Smores

Craziness at the s’mores table

One by one our runners took on all 3 trails. At one point Michelle and I were going to walk the yellow trail with a Ragnar staff member – Michelle so she could fulfill her yellow trail leg, and the other 2 of us to get photos and pick up trash, but Michelle wasn’t right by the exchange when the runner before her came in, and Brian was afraid we’d get in trouble, so he went on the yellow course again for her! Meanwhile, Ragnar decided it was a better time to pick up the staff pizza lunch instead of taking trail photos, so I helped pick up pizzas instead. For a moment there, we had the best smelling van in the city! And they even let me have a slice 🙂

As Saturday wore on and the yellow trail took its toll, Ragnar allowed teams who were dropping behind to double and TRIPLE up their runners on the course. They extended the finish from 4pm to 6pm.

By 4pm Saturday, we had one runner left on the course. Some teams had left, others were organizing dinner and camping another night. We started packing everything up at our camp site so after our finish line photos we could drive on to a hotel for showers and a hot meal.

finish0727_172931After our fun photos, we drove back into Reno and had rooms booked at the Casino Fandango. Brian found this place online and told us it would be kitschy fun. And it WAS! Hot pink lighting, and band on a stage 15 feet off the ground, carpet covered with a pattern of rainforest leaves, and a volcano room of nickle slots around a fake mountain! It was right next to our Marriott hotel, so we all took and hour to clean up and then met at the casino.

the lights were much more bubblegum pink than this

the lights were much more bubblegum pink than this

There was a steakhouse in the back, and most of the team wanted to eat there. We practically had the place to ourselves! The food was excellent. I had creamy mushroom risotto and asparagus, and a few bites of Brian’s chocolate ganache cake. Most people ordered the filet mignon.


Then there was some gambling… Brian C and Monica stayed the latest and bet the highest, mostly at the Blackjack tables. My husband and I played video poker and video blackjack and came up $44 ahead in the end!

And then we slept. and slept. and woke up to ANOTHER hot shower. Because hot showers rock. And as I checked my Facebook on my phone, I saw that a teammate posted that she was walking across the street to IHOP, and a bunch of us ended up there. Then we returned the rental cars and went off to the airport. Where Brian realized he couldn’t find his phone and ran back to the rental car area. Where they had already turned in our cars. So 2 teammates who didn’t have flights for 5 hours went to fill out a report while we went through security. And then to the bathroom, which is where it dawned on me to CALL Brian’s phone. And it was in his backpack all along! Mini drama at the airport.

Our flight home was Reno to Chicago and Chicago to Tampa, arriving at 12:20 Midnightish Florida time. In Chicago we wolfed down a quick meal (turkey burger with swiss and an orange) and on the 2nd flight I sat next to someone leaving Blogher who is putting together a site of blogging experts to give advice to bloggers on the business end of blogging. We talked about web the whole flight home while Brian watched more House Hunters next to me.

14 runners, countless smores, 3 nights, over 117 miles, a zillion stars and 8 little bags of peanuts later I came HOME! Where I was promptly greeted by a Wendy hug!! and then I slept for a long, long time!




Nearly Wordless – Summer Vacay #1

The beginning of June was full of family travels. We went to Chicago to see family and tour Columbia College, we led a team through Chicago Ragnar Relay, and we took a week in Michigan to cool down in nice weather – just the 4 of us.

Here are some Chicago highlights:


After we made it from the airport to my cousin’s condo on the train with a ton of luggage, we went to Uncle Julio’s Mexican Restaurant – where they treated us to warm sopaipillas with honey to dip them in.


The 2nd day in Chicago, we started with brunch at Bongo Room – just the 4 of us.


Alice’s pancakes were lemony with blueberries on top and ricotta cheese with lemon zest and powdered sugar.


After a day at Navy Pier and getting lost in the mirror maze, we had a snack at The Signature Lounge at the 96th, on the 96th floor of the John Hancock Center. People told us it would be pricey but cheaper than playing for the observatory room with the same view. It was, and it was. It was the day before my birthday, and I ordered the white and dark chocolate mousse cake. They kinda pissed me off though, by putting pineapple on top.


The ladies room on the 95th floor has a great view, but also fun vintage artwork, like this enlarged photo.


Across the street was the American Girl store.


These American Girl dolls were ready for Ragnar, headlamps and all!


The next day we took the girls to tour Columbia College. Alice looked cute and ready for the journalism program in aqua. Although Wendy isn’t pictured, she really liked what they had to offer! (And their dorms were huge!)


That night we met my cousins and friend Julie for my birthday dinner at Quartino, an Italian tapas-style restaurant. Their Limoncello Martini was awesome! Housemade Limoncello, Absolut Citron & Fresh Squeezed Lemonade got me giggly.


We had dessert at Ghirardelli. The cashier was also celebrating her birthday! I took a photo since we were “birthday twins”.


Brian and I shared a peanut butter hot fudge sundae!


Then we went to Ragnar Chicago… that post is already written. But here we are enjoying a brief moment of togetherness despite living out of van with strangers for 32 hours.Yes, I am dressed like a COW.


Meanwhile, my cousins took my “Dr. Who” fan daughters to Who-prov (Second City Dr. Who themed improv.)


Our last moment in Chicago…


Kaboodles drove us to Michigan in his perpetual motion machine.