Why don’t they call it the Blue Back Hat Run though?… 

Race Review: Blue Back Mitten 5K – West Hartford, CT … Just outside of Hartford. Where people run for fun, instead of their lives. WARNING: Mittens not included. (Sunday, Dec 4th 2016 – weekend holiday shopping procrastination activity #1)
Things I loved:

  • 10:30am start time. Late enough for you to get good sleep, regret going to Mexican the night before, eat a balanced breakfast, drink coffee and guilt people into coming to cheer for you.
  • Solid crowd to porta potty ratio. No long pee-dancing waits and a couple minutes lead time on the person going in behind you, so you can avoid those oh-so-special awkward handoffs. Because the disgusted face you make on the way out isn’t fooling anyone. 
  • Excellent porta potty to starting line proximity. Passes the ultimate test: a round trip scramble for a last minute nervous pee.
  • Starts on a downhill so you can gain some momentum into the rolling hills. Just think aerodynamic thoughts and act like a pinewood derby car. Tips from the pros: shave your entire body, move your arms as fast as you can & glue your ears back.
  • Ends on a downhill so you can look like you were running super fast the whole time. In college we called that Trompe l’eoil, the trickery of masters! 
  • Competitive field of mostly local athletes, that can be stalked on social media for further motivation. 
  • Live tracking! So your time is posted on the wonderful world wide web as soon as you cross the finish line. Because even though you already know what your time was, it’s not really official until it’s googleable.
  • They give you a winter hat for finishing instead of a metal and then everyone wheres that hat the following year in a live reenactment of Where’s Waldo, the story of an average Joe who’s only outfit becomes wildly popular.
  • Vendors with free junk. I could care less, but I know 1 out of every 5 of you is a compulsive swag hoarder and this is a judgment-free zone. 
  • Well plotted course and decent amount of fans (see first bullet). 
  • Ends in the center of Blue Back square with lots of options for post-game food, shopping and revelry. I, for one, went straight to Whole Foods with my Oiselle gals for makeshift pancake tacos and boom sauce. Curve ball…. I drink beer too!

Things I didn’t love:

  • Self-seeding is a such a silly, perfunctory exercise that just reconfirms the vast & incredibly sad disparity between the majority of peoples’ self perception and reality. Love the Thomas the Train attitude, but there’s nothing wrong with the caboose. Board the right car people! We will all go the distance. 
  • No free food, coffee or hot chocolate after? No free beer? I think I may have missed it somehow? I run for many reasons, 2 of the most important being food & drank. Do not deny me my completely guilt-free bagel.

Would I do it again?: Hells-to-the-yes. I’ll be there next year. 1 sec off my PR = unfinished business. Who’s comin’ with me?

Next stop: Ted Corbitt 15K, I reveal my favorite everyday winter chardonnay, drunk picture science experiment, human elf on a shelf and more. Much more. 

You’re addicted to my magical fruit and you know it,

J.Stack

 

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You Will Read This. You Will Read This. You Will Read This.

Mantra – A powerful reminder of the who, what, why, where & how of being a total f**kin’ boss. A life cadence for serving up some I’maBeast casserole with a side of swag and a boatload of gratitude gravy.
Allow me to be seriously serious for once:

If you don’t have a Mantra: Pop a bottle of wine, engulf yourself in silent meditation, tune into the secret self you keep for only you, calibrate your life compass towards your ultimate goal & create a Mantra to carry you there. I promise you, the right mantra used at the right time will reinforce your confidence/commitment and help set the stage for success. 

Over the course of the last few years, I’ve met a lot of good people and have been fortunate enough to benefit from some unbelievable cycles of positive energy. I know that the power of positivity is real, but also maintain that the benefits are only truly reaped when combined with action. You cannot just sit back and hope for what you want in life. You must open your mind, believe, be prepared & go for it. Positivity will open the door, but you still have to walk through it. A carefully engineered Mantra will help get your mind & body on board and working together, so you can do just that. 

I used to think that mantras were for weirdos and yoga people, until I heard about what they could do for runners from Deena Kastor when the great people over at Ridgefield Running Company got her to come speak at the local library. If you don’t know who Deena Kastor is, she has held the American Women’s record for the Marathon since 2006. She is beyond inspirational. Deena shared with us her favorite Mantra, which was “Define yourself.” Clearly, that has worked quite well for her. 

 …Not my cup of tea… I tried it on for size during my next run and all I kept thinking was “Define myself? Jennifer Stack: A short, mischievous human being who loves running, wine and puppies, but currently feels like garbage, probably looks like a bag of donkey dicks and requires a piece of Costco pizza stat.”

So, I set out to start creating my own Mantras. And in my experience, for a Mantra to really work it needs to:

  • Be simple and roll smoothly in your mind.
  • Be developed in the right environment & state of mind
  • Manifest in both the physical and metaphysical worlds. 
  • Exhibit an immediate effect on you.
  • Be 100% positive
  • Remind you of your goal, why you want it and how you’re going to get  there. 

Ex: My favorite Mantra is, “Loose long strides. It feels good to be alive.” I love this Mantra. It immediately gives me adrenaline, taps into a well positivity and puts a smile on my face. During training, it reminds me to respect my body’s comfort level and enjoy the unique beauty of each run. During races, it reminds me that I put in all the hard work, and now is the moment to enjoy myself, take it one step/breath at a time and cruise to a PR.

And this one also works for me most of the time. Repeat after me:

“I will drink wine after I run.”

Your welcome,

J.Stack

Ode to the Treadmill

The Treadmill is our friend.

It may be that annoying friend that we always feel obligated to invite to parties. The smelly, Linus of the group. The painfully boring friend who never wants to get crunk anymore. Or the infinitely weird friend that tells you about that time they stuck their finger in a cat’s ass. 

But the Treadmill (proper noun that sh!t) is your friend. And let’s just take a minute to stop calling it the “Dreadmill” or the “Hamster Wheel of Doom,” and remember why we started hanging out with it in the first place. 

1. The Treadmill was there for you when you were at your worst. When you were injured or out of shape or just plain lazy, the Treadmill helped you get back into form and it did so free of any judgement and without complaint. And that day you ate a sh!t ton of garlic forgot put deodorant on… it didn’t even mention it. 

2. The Treadmill is the ultimate example of rain or shine. It shows up for you everyday, even when you don’t show up for it. And it just waits there like Hachi for the day you will decide to come meet it. It’s more loyal than your ex, less clingy than your other ex and the exercise equivalent of a quality booty call.

3. It’s not even mad when you’re painfully obvious about only wanting to go for run with it on days where you have exhausted all other options. The Treadmill is fully aware that it’s kind of a drag and accepts it’s status as plan Z. We can’t all be winners. 

4. You can run without your phone or GPS watch when you take Treadmill along, because it’s got your back. It will never get you lost and it will always let you know how fast/far you are going. In fact, it’s so excited to help that it will tell you… every second… and every 100th of a mile… the whole way.

5. It will even hold your water. Extra thirsty? “F**k it, I can hold two. And your keys,” says Treadmill. Even my real friends won’t do that. Or that fancy belt that I don’t have. 

6. Want to run hills? Flat? Or a little of both. Just tell the Treadmill and it will take you on the perfect route for the day. It may not be scenic, but give it credit for trying. Like that one friend who is super haggard looking, but has enough smarts and generosity to skate by in the cool kids club. Heads up: If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you very well may be that friend. 

So many reasons to appreciate the Treadmill and your awkward, somewhat one-sided friendship. It definitely likes you better than you like it, but throw it bone and give it a pat on the arm next time you see it at the gym. Say, “Hey friend, you’re cool in my book.”

Or don’t, because what’s it going to do? Run away, hide and cry? It can’t even run 10 freaking feet. 
J.Stack

Things for Which I am Thankful

 Thanksgiving is a time for reflection & gratitude. The one time a year your non-running friends agree to do a 5K and then show up hungover and wearing ridiculous costumes. But more than anything, Thanksgiving it a time to throw back a few too many glasses of wine, get overly chummy with grandma & eat Turkey, Tofurkey or whatever the hell else your family enjoys feasting upon every fourth Thursday in November.

Now it may be a couple days late – meaning you probably care even less today than you did yesterday – but I’m going to share with you a few of the things for which I am Thankful:

  • Wine – Thank you for making me creative, witty, charming & tolerant. If not for you, this blog would be boring as f**K.
  • Body Glide – Thank you for keeping my thighs from burning in the shower and sparing many others from severe nipple discomfort.
  • Corkscrews – Thank you for unlocking the sweet sauce of life.
  • Hand Sanitizer – Thank you for giving me the courage to use porta-potties at races.
  • Deodorant – Thank you for allowing me to enjoy running with friends.
  • Pizza – Thank you for always being just a call away. Your support is both unwavering & delicious.
  • Tom Brady – Thank you. On behalf of all women & Pats fans everywhere, thank you.
  • Non-Greek Yogurt – Thank you for helping me regenerate fast post-run, like wolverine. And thank you for not smelling overly rank while doing it.
  • Amazon Prime – Thank you for allowing me to avoid Walmart, Target & everywhere on Black Friday for the rest of my life.
  • Facebook – Thank you for helping me spy on people without them suspecting anything.
  • Coffee – Thank you for keeping things regular and killing at least 5 minutes @ work every day. Well, 8 if you count the regulating process.

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving. Special shoutout to my #1 fan and loyal follower, my mom. And my boyfriend and dog. And my running friends. And cinnamon poptarts.

J.stack

The Pursuit of Cool

Get ready for this, because I’m about to take you on a Stacktastic, wild ride of  runcorked brilliance…

Flashback to Friday, November 18th @ approximately 6:30pm:

Enter fellow runner/my dear friend, Sabrina and this beautiful bottle of delicious, toe-tingling happiness…

It couldn’t taste any better if it dripped straight from the teat of Dionysus into a cornucopia of awesome. Sweet, slightly tart red fruits… Smooth, Full-bodied… Goes down faster and easier than (Pg13 Stack!)… the curtain on my bad jokes. Seriously though, If you like Chianti, trust me and go pick up a bottle of Sangiovese at your local wine shoppe (so classy) to try. If you like Sangiovese and trust me, buy a gazillion bottles of this particular brand and vintage here: StackSaysThisisCheapDeliciousDrank.com If you like Sangovese, but don’t trust me, buy some anyways because it’s cheap as hell and I dare you to tell me it’s not incredible. 

Fast forward: Pop, pour, sip, blah-blah, slurp, laugh, selfie!, gulp, uber… 8:00pm

Enter brilliant idea: “The Pursuit of Cool.”

Happiness is found in the “pursuit of cool.” We all crave that which we determine to be infinitely cool and find joy in the pursuit and successful achievement of coolness. 

What is cool, Stack? I know I may seem like the most qualified person to answer that question, but believe it or not “cool” is defined differently by all. It’s no 1+1=2, but rather X>allshitnotsocool. Basic math really. Cool is what you want to do and who you want to be. For example: I think running fast and/or long is super cool. I also think it would be the absolute coolest to have a house in Roxbury, CT, write books and travel the world. Sabrina, on the other hand, agrees with the running part, but wants to live in Brooklyn, have a hugely successful career and a family of her own. And my dog wants to eat bully sticks, revisit all the places she once pooped and chase cats. Three completely different ideas of cool. 

Other things that commonly get the cool stamp of approval: excelling at pretty much anything, doing a lot charity work, raising well-behaved children and writing a hilarious, heartwarming blog for people who love wine, running and life. 

This whole idea may seem obvious or somewhat redundant from my last blog post, but I hadn’t realized then that those crazy dreams of mine were so driven by the cool factor. 

To dream big in a productive way that will actually promote happiness and satisfaction, you have to dig deep and figure out what exactly it is that you want and why. 

Checking in with yourself this way may seem like a silly practice, but it’s important. It may boost your confidence and reassure you of your decisions. It may reveal that your actions are not in fact supporting what you really want. It may alert you that what you’ve been working so hard to accomplish isn’t really what you want at all. 

Flashforward to Saturday, November 19th @ approximately 7:30am:

I awaken upside down in my bed to something licking my face. Don’t worry, it’s my dog this time. Yep, its another physically devastating hangover won in life’s game of becoming older and wiser. But I walk away (ok crawl 20ft to the couch) with a renewed appreciation for advil and desire to go get cool. 

What’s your cool?

J.Stack 

The Rule of Michelangelo: dream like you’re the ninja turtle, but act like the artist. 

Real talk: Sometimes, I feel invincible like a straight-up, ninja superhero robot with the strength of Hulk Hogan and the speed of a velociraptor. Sometimes, I like to convince myself (and other gullible individuals under the influence of adult beverages) that I’m going to accomplish some seriously incredible things. For instance, at some point in my life, I’ve proclaimed that I’m going to accomplish all of the following:

  • go to the Olympic trials (for multiple different sports)
  • write the next great America novel
  • come up with a million dollar idea
  • win at fantasy football (statistically speaking, it’s bound to happen)
  • Become a UFC fighter (I can punch & kick the air really fast. It would be a shame to let this talent go to waste…)

Granted, a lot of these runcorked™ dreams were the direct result of cramming 750mL of Sauvignon Blanc into this 5’3” female, corpus glorious of mine. But the point is, I have some seriously lofty ambitions and I’m not apologizing for it. You’d be surprised how much you’re capable of when you let yourself believe anything is possible. Dream like you’re invincible. 

BUT… And I’m telling you, I have a hard time putting this piece of advice into practice… do NOT ACT invincible when executing your plans for world domination. Be smart, set lots of realistic short-term goals and grind away ever so carefully like a sculptor freeing the masterpiece that is your triumph from a block of unforgiving marble.

Things to be mindful of in your pursuit of champion status, fame, fortune, glory and/or grandeur:

  • You will need both your mind & body to be onboard.
  • You will need to face your weaknesses head on.
  • You need to look at the greater picture and the minutia in tandem when making decisions.
  • You will need to be flexible and adapt in the face of adversity.
  • You will need to remember that, regardless of whether you succeed or not, it is the intent, the process, what you learn, how you grow & who you meet along the way that are the real rewards. Without all of that, the success itself would mean nothing.

    Take it from a champion (W&M Relay for Life “Pie” Eating Contest Champion 2008 & winner of lots of games of Words with Friends),

    J.stack

    Evidence Suggests Drinking Wine is a Form of Yoga

    It no secret that I love pizza almost as much as I love wine & running. On a rare occasion (okay, at least once a week), I take 3 slices to the house. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Jen, how do you manage to keep that screamin’ hot bod with all that pizza & wine, seeing as you’re injured right now and can’t run?” Bikram Yoga, my friend. “Hot yoga,” for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of vigorously attacking posture after awkward, whoop-ass posture in over 100 degree room for 90 minutes.

    The thing about Bikram Yoga that presents an interesting challenge for a wine enthusiast, is that you must choose which you are going to partake in early in the day and stick with that decision. You can do Bikram or you can drink wine. You cannot have and enjoy both comfortably. Yes, it’s entirely unfair. Oddly enough, I chose Bikram on Monday evening. 

    It was on my way to the 6:30pm class, thinking about that forgone bottle of chardonnay burning a hole in my wine rack, when it hit me. Bikram and wine have an uncanny amount in common. It breaks down like this:

    Both Wine & Bikram…

    • Dehydrate you to the most horrible & disgusting degree.
    • Lower you inhibitions and make it more likely for you to remove clothing in front of complete strangers.
    • Have been responsible for making me vomit at least once and there is no way I am alone in this.
    • Incorporate snobby, foreign words that are annoying until you gain appreciation for them over time. And even then you get it, but you’re still embarrassed to use them because they sound ridiculous coming from you.
    • Warm you up, make your face red, relax you & numb pain like magic.
    • End with you lying on the floor like a corpse and wondering why you did that to yourself. They call it “Savasana” at bikram, but it’s more commonly known as “passing out.”
    • Keep you coming back for more in spite of everything & compliment running in the best possible way.

    Considering all of this, I have drawn the scientific conclusion that drinking wine must also be a form of Yoga with similar health benefits.

    Go forth and exercise,

    J.Stack

    Disclaimer: This is only silly, wishful thinking. I did not perform a clinical study using the scientific method, lab coats and bunson burners.  You should not rely on drinking wine for exercise, as that would be considered alcohol abuse and doing so may lead to obesity, liver disease, purple teeth and other health serious issues. 

     A Full Glass of $h!tty Wine is Still a Full Glass of Wine: Why injuries don’t entirely suck.

    At this point in time, I think it’s important to disclose the reasoning behind my decision to start this blog. I’ve enlisted the use of the classic pie chart as a visual aid:

    Piechart Cropped.png

    As you can see by the angry red/orange 30% block, my current status is PUP due to an acute calf/achilles strain and, frankly, it’s worse than paying $12 for a glass of shitty cabernet. But like paying $12 for a glass of shitty cabernet, I must remember that the glass is nonetheless full & that is better than no glass of wine at all… or I wouldn’t have paid $12 for it.

    I’ve gone through my many stages of the grieving process over the last 4 weeks and then all of a sudden, this morning… I runcorked! It was mid-deep water jog in a lane next to the mean lady at the Y who looks like a mix of Carlo Rossi and that fish from Spongebob with the large set of periwinkle, frowny lips that kind of look like…(cork it, Stack). For reference (though it’s really not important):

    carlo-rossi            +            spongebob-fish

    Anyways, I had a revelation that I’m addicted to feeling sorry for myself about my temporary setback. Meanwhile, I’m completely ignoring the many upsides to this whole forced time off situation. If you’re in the same boat, here are some of the reasons why being temporarily injured doesn’t totally suck:

    1. You have a prime opportunity to just enjoy life and try some new things. Do all of those fun things that you couldn’t do before because you didn’t have time or you didn’t want them to interfere with your training. This could be a new form of crosstraining, staying out later than usual, sleeping in, traveling, relaxing or getting white-girl wasted and taking the cinnamon challenge (I do not recommend this).
    2. Nothing will change drastically while you’re on the bench (most likely anyways). You’re running friends and favorite routes are still going to be there when you get healthy. You’re sneakers and gear will be ready for your return and will still work just fine. There will be a million races to sign up for no matter when you’re ready to jump back in. Don’t let your FOMO get the better of you.
    3. You can cheer you face off and have a party on the sidelines. It’s equally fun in it’s own right and your friends will return the favor when you’re back in the game.
    4. The blisters on your feet will start to heal and your toenails grow back, so that you look less and less like a victim from a Saw movie every day that passes. 
    5. You will appreciate each run more when you return, thus enhancing the experience and giving new life to your old training routine. The renewed focus and enjoyment will make it all that much easier to crush your goals. Who says you can’t come back faster and stronger than ever?
    6. Injuries make fantastic scape goats for retail therapy, casual grumpiness, laziness & increased wine intake. Some examples: “Did you seriously buy a $90 pair of sweatpants?”… “Yes. They’re specifically designed for recovery and I just need them right now.” — “Can you take the dog out? I need to stay off of my foot, it’s hurting like a sonofabitch. I’m at about an 8 out of 10 on the pain scale. Thanks.” — “Are you drinking wine? It’s 10am…”… “I woke up and couldn’t run. Then this happened. Deal with it. Here I poured you a glass too.”
    7. You are lucky enough to be able to look forward to running again. There are people who are permanently injured and will never run again. Remember that and be grateful. Like the glass of shitty cabernet, just try to enjoy your temporary situation as much as you can, plan for the future and eventually you’ll crack a new bottle.

    Run Fast. Sip Slow. Love Life!

    J. Stack

     

    Runcorked

    “Runcorked™:” Def. (Verb) Experienced a moment of overwhelming euphoria, clarity & gratification brought on by the sublime sensory overload felt during/after a run or while indulging in a glass (maybe several) of incredible wine.

    If you’ve ever runcorked™, you know exactly what I’m talking about…

    Ex(1): I ran past my family and heard them all screaming my name. I already felt so good about the hard work I put in training for the race and just seeing how proud they were sent my emotions over the edge. My eyes welled up with tears and I looked around at the world with renewed appreciation. The weather was perfect, the course was beautiful and it felt damn good to be alive. I runcorked™ and drank in the moment.

    Ex (2):  The combination of the robust red and sweatpants was absolutely perfect after our long run in the cold; warming us up and taking the edge off the hurt-so-good soreness that had already started to set in. We sipped slow to enjoy the complex flavors of the well-earned glass of wine, kicked-back, runcorked™ and let our conversation draw us deeper into contemplation of everything from our day-to-day lives to our wildest dreams. In that moment, everything came together seamlessly in our minds and our souls overflowed with love for the journey.

    Ex (3): “Well, how was it? Did she runcork?” — “I’m pretty sure… She was sweaty & limping a little after, but had a huge smile on her face.” (Put your glass down, Stack.)

    I runcorked™ the idea for this blog, so we’ll see where it goes.

     

    Cheers to the moment!

    J.Stack