Saturday, April 30, 2016

Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline


Title: Most Wanted
Author: Lisa Scottoline
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: April 12, 2016
Source: copy provided for an honest review by the publisher

Summary from Goodreads

When a woman and her husband, desperate for a baby, find themselves unable to conceive, they decide to take further steps. Since it is the husband who is infertile, the heroine decides to use a donor. And all seems to be well. Three months pass and she is happily pregnant. But a shocking revelation occurs when she discovers that a man arrested for a series of brutal murders is her donor - the biological father of the child she is carrying. Delving deeper to uncover the truth, the heroine must face her worst fears, and confront a terrifying truth.

My Review:

This is my third Lisa Scottoline novel, and the third one I've given 3 stars to on Goodreads.  I went through the exact same experience with this book as I did with the other two of hers that I've read.  Let me lay out my typical Lisa Scottoline chain of events for you, and maybe this time I will actually learn something from it...

1. Read book description, instantly be like "OMG I must read this NOW."
Done and done.  I found the book on NetGalley and despite the fact that I've been trying (note: mostly failing) at controlling my impulses over there, I took one look at the description for this book and knew that I HAD to request a review.  Serial killers and infertility and marital strife, oh my!!

2. Begin book, love explosive intro!
The novel opened, and I was fascinated by hot-button topics that Scottoline introduced: confidentiality of sperm/egg donors (especially interesting for me as I was thisclose to applying to be an egg donor when I was in college), the impact of nature vs nurture in psychological disorders, coping with male infertility, etc.  This is cool.  I'm on board.

3. Middle of book. Female protagonist is annoying. Completely unbelievable series of events start happening. Losing faith in my ability to choose good novels.
First, things got slow.  Christine was spending so much time debating what her next step should be that the entire plot hit the brakes for a bit too long.  Then things got moving again, and Christine proved herself to be absolutely insufferable and she continued to make one ridiculous decision after the next.  Not only did I find Christine's choices questionable, but their resulting odd consequences felt so far-fetched at times that I just couldn't play along.

4. Ending: good but not great.  Three star book for interesting concept but subpar execution.
I was pleased that the ending did not turn out as I predicted.  That said, I had trouble embracing Christine's "heroine" status after it was caused by so many flighty decisions beforehand (see above).
Plus...I don't want to give anything away, but suffice to say that there is one person in this book who brings the phrase "wrong place, wrong time" to a whole new (completely implausible) level.

In the end, Most Wanted was a solid 3 stars for me.  Great concept, but the execution left a lot to be desired.  I WANT to love Scottoline's novels so badly!!  She comes up with such compelling topics!  But I've had the same middle-of-the-road reaction to each of her books that I've tried so far, unfortunately.

Do you have an author that you keep trying over and over, in the hopes that maybe THIS time will be different??

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Well-Read Runner: Flower City Half RECAP!


It's recap day, runner friends!!  Who doesn't love a good race recap??

Well, the basic gist is that FLOWER CITY WAS AWESOME.  It was, by far, the best half marathon race day I have ever had...potentially my best race day, period.

As you may remember, I decided a few weeks ago to trash my original plan (to train for a sub-2 half) and just train to complete this race for fun.  And oh my--let me tell you, my running felt REJUVENATED!  It was no longer a chore to get up in the morning and run.  I still got all my miles in, but stopped pushing myself with race pace and tempo runs and Yasso 800s.  It was a beautiful epiphany for me.

Enter race morning (yesterday).  I woke up SUPER PSYCHED for a fun day.  After changing my training plan, I decided my best bet was to start the race with the 2:00 pace group (just to make sure I didn't go out any faster than that--which is my running kryponite), but then fall back as soon as I felt like I was starting to toe that line where I would end up miserable and vomity at the finish.

I got up at 4:30, had breakfast, made 1000 wardrobe changes (low 40's is great racing weather, but hard to dress for!), packed up and drove to my friend Mandy's house to pick up her and our friend Michelle.  I drove us into downtown Rochester and we were at the Blue Cross Arena by 6:30 (start was at 7:30).  I was glad we got there so early, because we had plenty of time to stretch, use the bathrooms, check out the set up in the arena, etc.

We headed out to Broad Street just before the start to line up.  Mandy and I were both starting with the 2:00 group while Michelle was heading further back, so we said our goodbyes and jumped into the crowd.  It was a beautiful (and packed!) starting line!:

Mile 1: 8:47

The gun went off right at 7:30, and...due to the push and pull of the huge crowd, Mandy and I crossed the start only to realize we'd been pushed wayyyyy back behind the 2:00 pacer.  Eeek!  We had some catching up to do!  First mile was fast because we were just pushing our way through the crowds to get to our pace group...haha.  The congestion was a little tough to handle in the early miles, but thankfully everything evened out about 3-4 miles in and we had more elbow room.

(I also noticed a completely barefoot runner during the first mile!!  I thought that was so cool/gutsy/insane!!  Couldn't help but take a pic):

Miles 2-6: 8:47, 9:01, 9:03, 9:02, 8:59

OH MY GOD, YOU GUYS.  FOLLOWING A PACER CHANGED MY WHOLE LIFE.  After so many races where I just depended on my own pacing (and inevitably went out way too fast), at Flower City I tucked into the 2:00 pacers and enjoyed the ride.  Thanks so much to Wendy and Tom (especially Wendy, for whatever reason I ended up on her side of the street more often) for letting me be glued to their butts for 6 miles.  There were SO many times during these miles when I felt my legs saying, "Hey, I feel pretty good, I could go faster than this!"  And then my brain would say, "You shut up, legs!!  Just follow Wendy and SHUT UP!!"  As a result, these were the easiest 6 race miles I've ever done.  The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, lovely Roc City was waking up, I was high fiving everybody, and I felt FAB-U-LOUS.

Mile 7: 9:34

The slowdown begins!  We hit the first hill on Goodman Street towards the end of this mile.  I knew as soon as it started that I was done with 2:00 pace.  I waved a silent goodbye to my beloved pacers (and Mandy), kicked up my tunes, and got ready for the hills to roll.
Goodbye, wonderful pacer Wendy.  I found out afterward that she just ran the Boston Marathon on Monday.  WHAT!!
Mile 8: 10:56

HILLS WITH A SIDE OF HILLS!  We headed into Highland Park and Mount Hope Cemetery, and it was one roller after another.  Some pretty nasty ones thrown in there for sure!  One of the worst ones was on uneven cobblestones, for added pleasure on your ankles.  This was the point where I knew I would kill myself for the second half of the race if I pushed too hard.  So I dialed it down, enjoyed the scenery, waved to the crowds, and powered through.  I also had to make a fast Porta-Potty stop when we entered the cemetery, which explains why this is my slowest mile of the race.  (Mucho apologies to the girl I threw the door open on, but darlin', you gotta LOCK that thang!!)

Mile 9: 9:07

The second half of the cemetery was surprisingly flat/downhill.  I was so happy to be out of the worst hill section that I felt like I was flying!
Out of the hills and loving life!
Miles 10-12: 9:37, 9:44, 10:03

These miles were mostly along the Genesee River, and while they were pretty, they were very quiet (not many spectators here), and kind of mentally difficult because you could see downtown Rochester (where the finish line was) but it was VERY VERY FAR AWAY.  Physically I felt good here, but my paces reflect more of the mental challenge of staying in the game and not giving in to my desire for walk breaks.

Mile 13: 9:50

My most favorite mile!!  I could see downtown, the crowds were getting bigger, I knew I had run a great race, and I felt AWESOME.  I saw 4-5 race photographers, and I jumped and smiled like a goon for all of them.  My husband and kiddos were waiting just before the finish line with loud cheers and high fives.  I saw the 2:05 on the clock when I got close and grinned, because I couldn't believe that in a race where I consciously did not (often) look at my Garmin and tried to hold back, I still was running close to my PR.  That felt damn good.

View from mile 13!
I only missed that PR by 29 seconds: final time was 2:05:40!

(EDITED: When I wrote this post, the results on the race website only included gun times.  Afterwards, they posted chip times, and I found out I actually did PR, by 2 seconds!  Haha!  2:05:09.  A pleasant surprise!! (I know some people consider gun time as "official" since it is used for awards placement, but when it takes me 30 seconds to cross a start line--I'm going with the chip, thankyouverymuch.))

 And, the bling was pretty sweet: the Flower City medal is a bottle opener, and I also got part 2 of my Four Seasons Challenge medal:

On top of the awesome race experience, I have to say this is the best I've ever felt physically after a race.  My stomach did not rebel against me (as it usually does)--I pounded a bunch of water, a piece of pizza, and some cookies after the finish.  With no repercussions!  It was amazing!  I also got to run Small Fry's 1/4 mile race with him at 10:30, which was so fun--that kid is turning into a little speed demon.  He'll be smokin' his momma soon.  :)
Mandy and I at the finish
After we came home and had rested a while, I turned to my husband and said, "I had so much FUN today."  Not something I have ever uttered after other half marathons.  But I hope to do so again soon!

I hope everyone who raced this weekend had an excellent race day!  What race has been the most fun for you?  Why?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

It's Time to Talk About OUTLANDER!

Hello, reader friends!!  I know, I fell off the face of the Earth, AGAIN.  Lots going on in our household lately--all good things, no worries, but it's left very little time for blogging.  (Even this post was pre-written, as I am running the Flower City Half Marathon today--WOOHOO!!)  That said, I've been chomping at the bit to talk with you all about Outlander by Diana Gabaldon!

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I finally decided to tackle this much-talked-about tome.  I've had a copy on my shelf longer than I've been married (9 years this year, woop!).  I think there were two things that kept me from picking it up right away: the length (800+ pages, in a series of books that are ALL 800+ pages, feels like a huge commitment) and the genre (historical fiction is OK by me, but romance is not my forte).  However, the time had come.  I had to see for myself if the hype was warranted.

(A quick synopsis for those unfamiliar with the novel, from GoodreadsThe year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord...1743.
Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.)

As the novel opened, I was off to a slow start.  Getting to know Claire and her husband Frank was interesting, but not particularly captivating.  Then the time travel thing happened, and I was kind of ehhhhhhhhh about that whole piece of it.  Don't get me wrong, time travel done well is a cool plot element (The Time Traveler's Wife is still one my favorite novels), but I didn't know if I really loved how Gabaldon worked it into the story here.  Plus, I felt like Claire acclimated to her new environment (200ish years in the past) WAY faster than I'd think is normal.  (But what do I know, right?  When was the last time I traveled to 1700's Highland Scotland?)

ANYWAY.  I tried to let all this slide.  I was in for the long haul here, and I had to believe there was more in store.

(Okay, there was definitely more in store, there were still 600 pages left.)

After Claire time traveled and settled into her new home at Castle Leoch, that's when things turned over for me.  Gabaldon's period details, plus Claire's sassy attitude, AND the ever-so-delightful introduction of Jamie Fraser, turned this into a totally different novel for me.  I was totally on board.  And, I'm happy to say, completely taken with Claire and Jamie's romance.  I love how it has this constant undercurrent of "but what about Frank?!" as you wonder about the husband that Claire left behind.  Can't wait to see more of that in the rest of the series.
The Jamie Fraser memes out there are just hilarious.
I don't want to give any spoilers for others who haven't read it, but by the end of the book, I was completely taken.  100% on board the Outlander train.  I did have a lot of hesitations, both before I started reading and within the first several chapters, but I was happy to see all of those hangups dashed by the time I reached the final page.  That said, while I think readers who don't often read romance could still enjoy this book, it would be awfully hard to like it if you don't have a thing for historical fiction.  That's definitely the dominant genre here, and the details that drive it make up many of the 800+ pages.

I have a few other books I'm hoping to tackle in the coming weeks, but Dragonfly in Amber (part 2 of this series) is already sitting on my night stand...so the series will continue!  :)  Much thanks to all of my friends that pushed me to read this one.  Now to decide if I want to make time for the TV series as well...

Monday, April 11, 2016

3 Minis: A New Release, an Old(ish) Release, and More Zombies!

Hola, readers!  Most of my reviews lately have been for TLC Book Tours (which means they are a bit longer), but I finally have another set of mini reviews here for you today.  I hope you like reading them as much as I like writing them...sometimes it's nice to keep it short & concise!

Alice & Oliver by Charles Bock
Random House, 2016
received from publisher for an honest review

I read this book and now I am broken inside.  /review

Okay, I'll add a little more, but really, this book is heart-wrenchingly amazing.  I requested it via NetGalley and quickly realized that the online description of the novel does not do it justice.  Quickie synopsis: Alice and Oliver are happily married with a baby daughter, Doe, when Alice is diagnosed with cancer.  Alice & Oliver is not only the tale of their physical battle with the disease, but also a penetrating look at what happens when relationships are pushed to the brink.  It takes much more than physical strength and fierce mental fortitude to survive such suffering, and Bock's novel illustrates this better than any other that I've read on the subject.  I loved Alice.  I didn't love Oliver, but did come to understand him a bit more by the end.  Together, they have a connection that is uncommon, but is still illustrative of the myriad ways that couples muck their way through difficult, seemingly impossible problems.

There are parts of this book are funny, unique, and thought-provoking.  There are also parts that are harrowing, sorrowful, and difficult to read.  Read it anyway.  You'll likely be seeing this on my best-of lists at the end of the year.

All The Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld
Pantheon, 2014
borrowed from the library

This is the latest pick for my MOMS Club book club.  I'm interested to see how our discussion goes in a few weeks, because this novel left me feeling half in awe, and half totally scratching my head.  Jake Whyte is the female protagonist, currently a sheep farmer on an island off the coast of the UK.  However, she has a shady backstory that goes back several years and thousands of miles.  As present-day Jake tries to find out what is killing the sheep on her farm, the chapters also alternate back to her past, slowly opening the story of what brought her to the sheep farm, and what demons may still be lying in wait.

I was half in awe because this book is BEAUTIFULLY written.  It's a fairly quick read, but there is not one wasted word on these pages.  And I love how the chapters alternate between Jake past and present--the structure was perfect, as the action peaked in both timelines right at the end.  Jake is a fantastic character, terrifically complicated--watching her develop is amazing.

BUT (my one "but"): the ending.  Like really, what WAS that ending?  I am all for not tying up the loose ends and giving the reader something to chew on, but this was too much.  I could have used a little less symbolism and a little more closure.  Still--I'm happy I spent the time on this one, because it's a stellar read, the final pages notwithstanding.

The Walking Dead: Compendium Two by Robert Kirkman & co.
Image Comics, 2012
borrowed from the library

I've already discussed with you my recent love affair with The Walking Dead comics (here).  The affair has only grown as I finished the second compendium of the series.  It has been awesome to watch the major characters grow and change, and to see how well many of the comic scenes were translated to TV.  (And on the flip side, how many of them never even made it to TV.)  Gotta say that one of my favorite characters so far is Andrea--what a bad ass!  And that's hilarious, given how much I despised her TV persona.  I'd say the one downside is that I think Rick's character waxes philosophical on the same topics a bit too much--it gets repetitive after a while.  But beyond that, I'm loving this view of the Walking Dead world.

(And, for those who follow the show--this compendium ends just after Rick's group starts interacting with Hilltop.  Um, I NEED to get Compendium Three before Season 7 starts!!!  EEEEEKKK.)

What are your current reads?  Do you have any 2016 reads so far that you think will be on your end-of-year favorites list?

Saturday, April 2, 2016

A 500th Post GIVEAWAY! :)

Howdy, reader friends!  Believe it or not, this is my 500th post here at The Well-Read Redhead.  Yes, you've listened to me jibber-jabber THAT much in 3.5 years!  Congratulations!  :)

This epic milestone happens to coincide with me thinning out my at-home bookshelves (again...I swear these books just keep multiplying like bunnies!!).  So, rather than donating my books to the library (my usual M.O.), I decided to save them for a lil giveaway for my lovely blog readers.

I had quite the nice little pile going, so I randomly split the books in to two batches. Voila: we can have TWO winners!  Winner #1 gets 6 books, Winner #2 gets 5.  It's a smattering of everything...ARCs and finished copies, hardcover and paperback, used copies and unused copies.

Box #1 contains:

Disclaimer by Renee Knight (hardcover, finished copy)
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (paperback, finished copy)
The Whole Golden World by Kristina Riggle (paperback, finished copy)
Five Night Stand by Richard J. Alley (paperback, ARC)
The Daughter by Jane Shemilt (paperback, finished copy)
All Stories Are Love Stories by Elizabeth Percer (paperback, ARC)

Box #2 contains:

Beside Myself by Ann Morgan (hardcover, finished copy)
Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah (paperback, finished copy)
The Race Underground by Doug Most (paperback, ARC)
The Trajectory of Dreams by Nicole Wolverton (paperback, ARC)
Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke (paperback, ARC)

US/Canada entries only please, sorry, international shipping is lots o' dollas that I do not have!

Thank you all for supporting my little piece of the blogosphere!  You can enter the giveaway in the Rafflecopter below.  Contest closes 4/9/16!
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Well-Read Runner: Changing the End Game


Hola, runners!  I just realized that it's been a rather looooong time since I did any updating on my training for the upcoming Flower City Half Marathon.  With only 24 days til the race (eeeek), I am at the height of my training right now.  It's safe to say that this training cycle has been full of roller-coaster-esque ups and downs.

You may remember that, back in Week 1 of training, I decided to try to go sub-2 (under 2 hours) in this race.  My PR is 2:05, though on a very flat course, whereas Flower City has a substantial hill section in the middle miles.  So I immediately went into heavy training mode: lots of track intervals, lots of tempo runs, lots of hill repeats, lots of race pace training runs.

At first, I was excited for this plan.  I'd never done dedicated hill training before, and it was fun to try.  However, the novelty wore off quick.  I started getting run down, feeling constantly tired, more sore than usual.  I started dreading my runs.

Then, this week, I had a revelation.

IT'S TIME FOR ME TO CHANGE THE END GAME.

This revelation came in 2 parts.  Part 1 happened on Tuesday morning, when my alarm went off at 5:15am for what was supposed to be a 9x400m speed workout.  I DID NOT want to do it.  I was THIS close to just rolling over and skipping the whole thing.

Then I thought to myself..."What if I just go out and run...for fun?  No intervals.  No speed work."

I jumped out of bed so fast, I almost sprained an ankle.

I went out and ran a totally carefree 3 miles.  Didn't even wear my Garmin.  Couldn't tell you what my pace was.  (Okay, I could if I looked it up on Nike + (which I always have on during runs), but I didn't even look at my pace on it afterwards.  So I really couldn't tell you.)  It was an awesome run.

Part 2: Wednesday the alarm went off at 5:15am again.  I had 9 x hill repeats on the schedule.  Nope, didn't want to do that either.  I went out and ran 4.5 miles for fun.  (I have started to LOVE running in the early-morning dark.  So quiet!  So peaceful!)  It was amazing.

It was during this second run that I had a serious mental talk with myself.  Do I REALLY want to run Flower City sub-2?  And if so, why?  I've run 3 half marathons so far, and at all 3, I have felt HORRIBLE at the finish line.  I'm not talking mentally (I've PR'd each time, which is a mental boost), but I mean physically--I felt like I wanted to puke.  I don't enjoy any of my post-race time because I'm so busy trying to keep myself from vomiting that I just want to go home and lie in a dark room.  After my last one (Winter Warrior), I finished the race at 6pm and ended up on my couch feeling like gastrointestinal death until 11:30pm.  I remember standing in line for my medal and willing myself not to be sick on the person in front of me.  Yes, I PR'd.  Was it worth it?  Is that what I want a race to feel like every time?

Some would say yes.  I mean, look at Shalane Flanagan at the Olympic marathon trials last month.  Girlfriend collapsed at the finish line.  She left EVERYTHING out on the course.  It was epic, phenomenal, inspirational.  But you know what?  That was for a spot in RIO.  I am not going to Rio anytime soon.  Like, not even on vacation.
This was an incredible finish to watch!! (Photo credit womensrunning.competitor.com)
I thought about the first "big" race I ever did.  It was the Boilermaker 15K back in 2008.  I had only started running in 2006, and had never done anything beyond a 5K up to that point.  My husband and I trained using a beginner Hal Higdon program.  It didn't call for any speed work--just putting in the weekly miles.  We had no Garmin.  We had no Nike +.  We just did our miles and high-fived every time we completed a training run.

You know what?  By my current standards, my Boilermaker time sucked.  1:44.  Roughly 11:09/mile.  But you know what else?  I.DID.NOT.CARE.ONE.BIT.  I ran 9.3 miles without stopping!!  On an 85 degree day!!  I got to enjoy free beer and cookies at the finish with my husband!  It was a freaking awesome day.
Went back in the archives for this one! Boilermaker 2008.  It was SO hot.  But I had SO much fun.
So I thought hard about my goals during this week's Wednesday morning run.  In the age of social media, it is easy to lose sight of what you REALLY want.  I follow a lot of running bloggers, and I love them--they are insanely inspirational, they give me new ideas for training, recovery, and racing all the time--they are amazing.  However, 99% of them are following strictly laid-out training plans for races almost all the time.  And it's easy, when you're reading their blogs and following their Instagrams and perusing their Tweets, to think that that's how running has to be all the time.  Hit it hard, #tracktuesday like a boss, leave it all on the road, and keep chasing those PR goals.

But maybe...the PR isn't MY current, deep-down goal.  I know, what a thought, right?

After thinking long and hard, here are my TRUE goals...the ones that I know would make me happiest on April 24th:

1. Finish with a smile on my face.  A smile that shows the fun I had on the course, and that shows how happy I was to run strong without making myself physically miserable.  I mean really--I JUST RAN 13.1 MILES!  That's something to really and truly smile about!
One of the only race photos that I have of me smiling...at a 5K, during which I did not check my pace once. I felt great...and I PR'd.  Coincedence?
2. Run the whole race without stopping to walk.  I know this may not seem like a big deal, but in all 3 of my past half marathons, I overdid it so much in the early miles that I had to walk in the later ones...even though I've almost NEVER had to walk during a training run.  Again, this is all because I push too hard during the race and burn out.  I don't want to do that this time.  I know I can run 13.1 miles without stopping--I KNOW it.

3. Run without my current pace showing on my Garmin.  I still want to wear it because it's fun to look at my race stats after the run is over, but I don't want to look at my pace during the entire race.  I want to run a comfortably strong pace.  If I feel like I'm overdoing it, I'll slow down.  If I think I have some gas left, I'll speed up.  End of story.
The only race pic of me at Winter Warrior...yup, checking my darn Garmin!!
4. Run the kids 1/4 mile run with Small Fry afterwards, and be able to enjoy it.  I've been so afraid that by trying to sub-2 this race, I will end up in Wanna Vomit Land again after the finish, and not be able to have fun with Small Fry when he races later.  I don't want that to happen.

So that's that.  I've decided that the last 24 days of my training will focus on mileage, not speed or hills.  I'll still put in the miles--long runs will continue as usual, and I'll still be running 3 weekdays in between them.  But it's time for me to find the fun in running again--and I think that means taking a step away from the limit-pushing.  It's time for me and the road to become buddies again, not adversaries.  I run because I love it...but for me (at least right now), loving it does not include constantly trying to reach that next level.  Sometimes, the level I'm on is just fine.

Maybe I will PR anyway (I PR'd in the 5K last September when I didn't care about my pace at all--another very telling situation).  Maybe I'll be slow as molasses.  But I'm determined to have a GREAT race day, no matter what.

Runners, have you ever struggled with your training goals?  Do you ever find it hard to focus on your true goals when social media barrages you with everyone else's?  What would you say was the most fun race you ever completed?

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Well-Read Runner: Time to try a "virtual" race! + coupon code!


Hola, runners!  How many of you have heard of "virtual" races?  I had never known about such a thing until I started exploring the running blog community in early 2015.  For those that are clueless (as I was), a virtual race is one that you register for, get the swag/medal for...but is completed on your own time, in the location of your choice.  Fun, yes?  Adds a bit of spice to your normal neighborhood run.  Plus, you can mix it up and run it solo, or with friends; in your usual local park, or at a new locale; on the road, on a treadmill, or on trail...the options are many.

After looking into several virtual race options, I finally decided to give one a try.  Level Up Virtual Runs is hosting The Incredible Virtual Run in April.  I took one look at the medal design, and was like, OMG MY KIDS ARE GOING TO BE SO JEALOUS OF ME:
Running + Pixar = basically my life in a nutshell.
Participants choose their desired distance (5K, 10K, or half marathon) and must complete it at some time between April 15-April 30.  I'll be going for the 10K option.  (Yes, I am actually running the Flower City Half during this time period, so I guess I could count that and do the Incredible Virtual Run at the half distance, but it kind of feels like cheating to double count the same race!  Haha.)  The 10K will be good for me, because I will be doing race pace runs leading up to Flower City, so I can use the Incredible Virtual Run as a pace-pusher before my half marathon.

Yes, this requires a bit of scouts-honor accountability...but why pay for a race that you don't intend to really complete?  Go have fun with it!

I'll share my experience here post-virtual-race sometime in late April.  :)

Want to run with me?  Registration for The Incredible Virtual Run is open until April 15th at LevelUpRuns.com.  The fee is $25: already affordable, BUT my readers can save 10% off their registrations by using the coupon code SAVE10.  And did I mention that all registered runners also get a $25 SLS3 gift certificate?  Sweet swag.  Let me know if you plan to join!  (And if not, have you ever done a virtual race before?  How did it go??)

(Disclaimer: I received a free race entry to the Incredible Virtual Run in exchange for this post--but all the excitement involved is mine-o-mine!  :) )
 
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