Diving With Stingrays

Today for Travel Tuesday I want to take you on a Stingray Adventure.  Dive, Snorkel & Swimming with Stingray's.  It's an incredibly fun activity to do if your visiting a island or place seaside community that allows.
I actually went diving with Stingray's in the Bahama's on Blackbeard's Cay, which is an island just north of Nassau.

The one I signed up for was a do it yourself swim.  Meaning, you started on shore and you could swim out as far as you'd like to explore and swim with the Stingrays.  However, as you'll notice in my dorky pictures below.  They did make us wear a life jacket (of sorts),

One thing about life jackets, they make it a little hard to dive down into the water.  Fortunately the ones they had us wear, had a little tube on the side and I could easily deflate it as I wanted when I got out into the water and wanted to swim deeper down.  Oh and I did, thankfully it wasn't regulated so I could get away with that.
They also make you go in teams of two.  For safety reasons.  However, my friend discovered she was afraid to put her head under the water so I went on my own and left her at shore.  I just kept my eyes on where others were, and if something happened at least she was there to know I should make it back.

I'll tell you a funny story about when we went swimming with the Stingray's.  When we first signed up they made us sign a waiver.  Neither my friend or I had any idea what danger their was with Stingrays.  Believe it or not (yes I am going to admit my stupidity) but I actually thought that if their tales hit you then they stung you, like an electric sting of sorts.

Yes, I know laugh if you will.  But looking back at it, I am glad that I didn't know they had barbs that shoot out at you from their tale if you get to close to their personal space.  Because if I did know that, I probably wouldn't of dove in and swam down to try to catch them and catch a ride on them.

Fortunately, we were okay.  After all, even though these Stingrays were in the open ocean of the Atlantic.  They were however familiar with tourists in their waters swimming with them.  They also know that tourists swimming means they bring food.  So that is probably the reason you don't have to worry too much about getting a barb thrown at you.  Because of Never Harm The Hand That Feeds You:)
(However, I should mention some places in family tourist area's where they have kids and families dive with Stingrays.  They have it in enclosed area's where they remove the barbs.  So if you want to go with full safety, that is probably one you'll want to consider, instead of an open water dive.

One of these days I'm going to actually show pictures where I am
wearing make-up with my hair done, LOL  Until then, messy natural is what you get:)

Where I did this at, they had a time where you could swim back to the shallow shores.  They handed out squid (as you can see me holding in some of the pictures.  And you would actually get to feed the Stingrays yourself.
It's really fun, they don't really have teeth so there is no risk of getting bit.  You just hold the squid down and they swim over your hand and suck up the squid.  It feels funny, but it's a lot of fun.

(Remember above I embarrassingly mentioned how I mistakenly thought if their tales touched you, you got stung?  Well after having them all around you and tales hitting you.  I figured I was immune to their sting, LOL so I quit worry about it after that.)

Another thing this place did was allowed you to catch one and hold it long enough for one of the people there to snap your picture, and later sale it to you a little over priced:)
Well, I couldn't resist, I mean it's kind of a fun picture, don't you think!
Although I really wish they would have let me take the life jacket off first, LOL.  It looks like we were in a pool, but we weren't its just Bahama's clear water:)

I mentioned above that I would dive down to try to grab a hold of the front of the Stingray and swim with them.  I did do this, an I did catch a few short rides.  However, I am going to go with the I don't recommend doing this, unless you go somewhere that they remove the barbs.  Like I said, it was a good thing I was clueless.  But people have actually gotten themselves killed by Stingray Barbs, so although it's rare, they can be dangerous if provoked.  I don't think you're actually supposed to try to ride them...

So next time you are in a place where this is an option to do, I highly recommend giving it a try.  Even if only done once, it's a lot of fun and really worth it.  I had a great time!  If you go, make sure to bring a waterproof camera so you can grab a few shots yourself of your dive.

Have you ever dive, snorkeled or swam with Stingrays?  Did you enjoy it?  If you haven't, is it something you'd like to try someday?

A Little Bit of Everything

Do you ever have those times where you have a jumble of thoughts and as you go to write your blog posts, instead of one or two things you end up jumbling a little bit of everything together?
I apologize ahead of time because today is one of those days.  However, in case only a few things interest you, I put headings so you can skim and read only what you'd like:)

Monday - 6 Miles
Tuesday - Rest Day
Wednesday - 5 Miles
Thursday - 6.2 Miles
(I worked too much on my feet this week, so Friday, Saturday and of course Sunday were all rest days.  My tendon started swelling up later in the day Thursday and has been a bit painful and bothersome.  Sunday it was feeling a little better so we will see what this week brings.  I have already picked a lighter work schedule for this week (less time on my feet) so my tendon inflammation can go down and the pain can subside...hopefully...  I know there is a chance this maybe how I have to deal with it going forward.  But I can't help but have hopes and prayers that it will eventually heal and I won't have to schedule my life around it's pain and swelling levels!)

Okay, so some of you know I am one of those rare people who love the Blackberry phone.  I've been loyal to the Blackberry and At&t for many years.
However, when my family got together we decided to see if we could all save some money by signing up for one of those "Family Plans". Once we looked into it, I realized for myself alone it would save me about $40 a month which is $480 a year savings and that is significant.  That pretty much was enough to push me into doing it.
Sprint does have Blackberry, but the price lets just say was several hundred more than I wanted to spend.  So I bit my bottom lip and hoped I wasn't making the biggest mistake ever and went with the Samsung Galaxy.

It wasn't 24 hours later that I was hating it and tearing up at the thought of my loss.  The things and the ease that I had before with what I used my Blackberry for, were not as easy with new phone.
Mostly I missed my keypad, and the ease it was to write up things and emails, posts...
Everyone keeps telling me I just have to get used to it.....  It's debatable at this point.  I am tempted to go and exchange my phone for a Blackberry and I have now 12 days left to do so.  The problem is, if I do, because of the price of the phone, I really wouldn't be saving much and I might as well stayed on my old plan???
Decisions, decisions.  Right now I am not sure if it is worth the savings.
Sure I will admit there are 2 pro's that I have found with my new phone.  But frankly, I am not sure they out weigh my other loss.   So I guess this decision will be, to be determined....

In January I set a few "Blogging Goals" for myself.  Some of them were with my blog itself, others were in the form of social media.
One of them was to hit 5,000 Twitter followers.  That one snuck up on me and happened earlier this month.  That is pretty awesome, and I thrilled that so many fabulous people enjoy following me, and visa versa!

Another goal I had was to be several weeks out in posts, except for my Monday posts.
Truthfully, I was doing fabulously all the way up until September.  I used to have 15-20 posts finished and written and scheduled to go live on their appropriate dates.
Doing this gave me the needed time I wanted so that I could spend more time following other bloggers and reading their posts and so on.
But the past month I have pretty much been doing them "day before" and I really need to take a day and spend it post writing and scheduling because I really liked when I was ahead and could spend more time chatting with my blogger friends.
Also, you've probably noticed less posts on my blog lately.  I just figured not to run posts on days I didn't have enough time to put a good effort into it.
So it is my new goal to get back on track like I was before the end of the year, starting with this week!

I haven't ever talked about this one on my blog before, but yes I do enjoy blogging for fun.  But I also enjoy doing it for side money and free products I actually can and will use.
I don't earn an income that you could say is substantial by any means.  However, some months it is a great part -time job:)  if you call it that.
I had monthly goals, and lets just say they are pretty high so I haven't exactly met them yet.
However, September was a great month and at around $800 (Yes I did just put that out there.)  I am closer than I have ever been to hitting a monthly goal.  So we will see what the last 3 months of the year bring.  Also, I have done this on a Blogspot blog, which so many say you can't do, so that in itself proves that you can actually make a little money even on a free blog:)

Earlier this year I shared with you that I was planning on making some major changes and I think I even mentioned I would let everyone know my plans shortly thereafter.
However, after a lot of thought I decided not to share those plans for a while.
First, I did go out and I was offered some amazing (desk) jobs.  Some that a few people think I am a complete idiot to have turned down.  Even turned down a job with a major TV network that would have been a seriously promising future in more than one way.

Why did I turn them down, especially after working so hard to get them?  Well when it came down to it, I looked at each of those jobs and I asked myself.  Money aside, will these jobs make me happy? Will I enjoy waking up and going to work each day?
When I searched my heart & soul, the answer was No.  Which is why I turned them all down.
Which put me out to thinking about what WOULD make me happy.

Now I love weddings, and I love what I do and I have zero plans on letting go of the wedding decoration company I own and love.
However, the economy has taken some hits and despite what the government says, the reality is things are not picking up and people are cutting back.  Which has given a decline in revenue, especially this year.
So yes I am looking for a new full time job, but do plan to keep being a wedding planner part time.
But not for just any job, the job has to be the right one for me.

I am not going to tell you exactly what that perfect job will be, because I haven't exactly interviewed for it yet:).  However, if you follow my blog you know that I love Running and I love Traveling and I love People and I love to be Happy!  So I have recently been setting my sights onto new things, and pursuing things in an entirely new direction, in the direction of what I listed above.
I don't need to rush, I can take my time and when I find that amazing job, and that thing that will make me happy.  I'll grab it and at that time I will share it all with you!

Okay, so this will sound odd but in the past I have tried not to share too much of my opinion and be a little more neutral (although it comes out a lot I am sure my blog followers can tell:).
The truth is, I have a strong opinion on lots of things.  I have wanted to start writing on a few running topics that not a lot of people say much about, and even when my opinion goes against "trendy current running trends."

I kept hesitating doing it, in fact if you look at my "Posts in Progress Folder" I have over 30 of them just sitting there waiting to be finished and shared.
Then the other day I was talking to a patron at the library where I work and after sharing my opinion with them I realized why not share on my blog???  After all, previous to my work injury I was able to lead a healthy running life mostly injury free for over 15 years.  I was trained by a father who ran over 30 years without injury.  So it's actually possible that even going against trends, I may have a little useful information for someone to consider:)

So my first controversial topic  is coming up Thursday.  I re-wrote it to be slightly less opinion and tie in some education with it.  So we will see how it goes, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.  Because I have a few others I have also been editing to put out in coming weeks.

This month I experimented and paid to have our blog hop listed on some National Giveaway Directories.  I haven't talked to any of those participating, but for myself I have had a significant and when I say significant, I say over 900 of more entries than in previous months.
I'll be curious to see if other bloggers noticed a spike in page views for this hop (I hope they did), and if they are having a more successful hop as well.
I fully plan on paying out of my own blog pocket:) to have the November & December hop listed in these directories too.  So if your a blogger and your interested Join up Today for our November Hop HERE.  Its open to ANY blogger, this is a hop to thank our followers, so it's one of the only "almost no rules" hops I host.

Additionally, today is the LAST day to enter the current, Get your Run On Giveaway Hop.  You have until Midnight tonight to visit and enter the 13 blogs participating.  You can start entering for your chances to win HERE.

Which leads me to my questions for you for the week.  
Have you ever been hesitant to write on certain topics, because you were afraid you might offend someone?  Did you hold back or do it (tastefully) anyway?
Do you make blogging goals, even if you blog for fun?  

For the Devices I Use While Out on a Run

My old arm band that I kept either my phone or my ipod was getting to look a little worse from wear, and lets just say its better days were behind it.  So when I was presented with the opportunity to review and try MUV a Professional Quality Armband Made for the iphone5, I took it!
I don't actually own an iphone, but when I looked at the size dimensions I realized it would fit not only the cell phone I do own but also my ipod, which one or the other is really all I take with me on a run.

When it came in the mail, I was really happy with the quality.  Its actually is made with pretty good materials and workmanship, so I could tell it was made to last a while.

One of the things I didn't know about when I ordered it was the Key Pocket, so discovering this was actually pretty cool.  At first when I slipped my key in it I thought that maybe it would work its way out.  But I have used it many times, from 3-6 miles and it hasn't shown any signs of the key being able to work it's way out so I am pretty confident in it's placement in it and I don't even think or worry about it anymore.

The only thing that I would suggest needs a little improvement is that it's not 100% sweat resistant. Each time I have used it, when I go to take my device out of it after, I do notice a little sweat condensation on it.  Not a crazy amount, the soft neoprene absorbs most of it.  I don't think I would trust it in a heavy rain, but I think it would be okay if you were out and in a light rain.  But then they do not claim it is water proof, just sweat proof so at least they aren't misleading.
But yes, if you do purchase this and you sweat like me your likely to notice a little condensation on your device after your workout, but not so much that you really have to worry about it.

It is light weight, the neoprene is pretty soft and doesn't seem to slip any, so I haven't noticed any chaffing, which is a definite plus in my book!  Nothing worse than wearing something that leaves you with sensitive red marks on your skin after, so I have been very happy with this part so far!
Because it is made to hold the size of the iphone5, it is a bit larger so I ended up having to put it a tad higher on my arm than I am used to.  But after 5 minutes of wearing it higher, I didn't even notice it.

The armband also has a High Visibility Reflector.  I don't run at night so this isn't something that would really be anything I would get use out of.  But for someone who considers those things important, I wanted to mention that it does have this on it.

One of the other features I like were the adjustable width strap for different sizes.  I don't have an overly small arm, or overly large.  I think my bicep is pretty average and it fit me perfectly.  But as I was adjusting it for my perfect fit I noticed it would work pretty well for even a tiny arm, and even an arm much larger than my own.

The armband had a sensitive touch screen protector, which for any device (which is pretty much all these days) that has a touch screen you'll love this feature.  I had no problem making a few quick adjustments to the music or books I was listening to while on my run.

Overall, the armband works great I don't really have any complaints on it, other than the little bit of condensation that does go through to the device at times during heavy workout.  But even my old armband let some in.
If your looking for a new armband, and especially if you have an iphone5 or similar size device this is likely a product you will like.  Like I mentioned I don't have an iphone5, but I put my Blackberry in it with no problems and it also fit my tunes (not at the same time) easily.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Storm Siren by Mary Weber

This is one of those books that I was drawn to by the cover (such a beautiful cover) and then the back of the book blurb signaled that this would be something I would enjoy.  Which is why I choose to review Storm Siren by Mary Weber.

Nym is a slave, and has been for years ever since her parents deaths that she feels and believes she was responsible for.  Sold from slave owner to slave owner she makes her way to the market for her fifteenth sale.
Nym hold a secret, this same secret is why she keeps getting put back up for action.  Especially since those around her seem to get killed or injured.  She is an Elemental.  Normally Elemental's are killed at birth, and rarely if ever are they girls.  Which is why Nym was overlooked and was allowed to live.

Standing in the marketplace waiting for a buyer, Nym assumed things would go like they always had. However, when she accidentally releases her powers, and they catch the eye of a woman in the market place.  She is immediately bought.
But things are different this time, different from the moment her new owner brings her home.  Not only is she given a room, and clothing that should be far above her status.  She is given a choice, a choice to use her powers and train to harness them and become a powerful Elemental to help save the kingdom she lives in.  Or a choice to not, and she would be returned to the existence she knew previously.

Nym decides to take the choice to stay and train.  But she was not prepared for the crazy political events and parties.  The twists and turns and double sided personalities she has to live with and encounter.  Nothing is as it seems, and everything is as it seems.  But the fate of her country is looking to be up to her.

Nym's never thought of herself as a weapon, she's always thought of herself as a destructive power that cannot be controlled.  She is learning quickly that she was wrong about a lot of things.  The only problem is, as she begins to learn to control her power and the earthy storm elements.  She isn't sure if she wants to use them anymore as a weapon.  Especially as secrets come out, and her heart begins to fall for her trainer.  The very man her owner warned her and specifically forbid her to never fall for.

Mary Weber writes a fascinating storyline, that really hooks you right from the beginning and never lets up.  This book is filled with so many twists and turns and yes I hate to say it cliffhangers.  It absolutely grabs your attention and for myself I found it hard to put down.
I love new authors that know how to write an intense and great story.
Those who enjoy Young Adult novels that are written with adults in mind, will really enjoy Storm Siren.  This is one fantasy on my recommend list, and I cannot wait for the sequel that comes out June 2015.

Verdict's and Vacations gone...

A few weeks ago I mentioned I decided to go to the Specialist to talk to him about a few lingering problems, and the issues with the other foot to find out what is really wrong. I wasn't sure if it would be a waste of money or actually beneficial.
I am happy to say, it was beneficial.

The verdict(s)

My right foot, the one that somedays causes me so much pain I can barely step on it, and others not a hint of pain.
The first Dr. I went to months ago told me it wasn't a stress fracture...
Turns out it is a stress fracture, a very bad one.  Specialist said if I had come in 5 months ago he'd of put me into a boot for a couple months to let it heal.  However, since I have been doing everything right on it, it is healing and there is no point to alter much of anything I am doing.  I few more months and I shouldn't notice it anymore.

My left foot, that has been about 90% healed for a while on the tendon problems.  I asked the burning question, is it ever going to really heal?
He was honest, at this point after 20 months, he said there is a good chance I may have to deal with this forever.  It could heal, but there is a chance it may not because it's gone on so long.
What does this mean?  I can keep on training, and doing what I am doing.  Take days off when I need them, and increase the miles since running isn't bothering it.
He said I am still having Achillies Tendinitis swelling issues.
(Word of warning to my friends with tendon issues, stay off your injury let it heal, don't let things get as bad as I did, so you can heal eventually for good!)
What was his advice:
Told me to stay off concrete as much as possible, stick to treadmills, tracks and tar surfaces for a while to let the stress fracture have some relief.
Told me to add 1-2 days of hiking into my routine instead of running.  (Yay, just wish I had time to do it twice a week!!!:)
Eat more protein, add lots more cottage cheese to my diet (helps heal stress fractures)
Keep running, keep increasing my mileage, get back into marathon shape.
Take rest days on days that the swelling is worse than normal.
Keep up the PT as well with the running.
Quit standing for long periods at work, put my tendinitis foot up as much as possible.

Rose Bowl Stadium
This is why I brought ear plugs
all those screaming teenagers!

I rarely breakdown, and even more rarely shed a tear.  But this past week almost pushed me over the edge.  I mentioned a while ago I was taking my cousin's to California to see One Direction at the Rose Bowl Stadium.  Well let me just tell you, things did not go as planned.  Let me share a few of the highlights or lowlights depending on how you look at them.

* When picking up my cousins find out there is a surprise additional 14 year old friend coming.
* Because of the recent floods, our detour in Nevada added almost an extra hour and a half driving the first night, we arrived around 1AM just outside of Vegas.
* Friday morning my GPS decides to get a short in it and quit working, which there is no way I am going into L.A. without a GPS!!!!
* Magically found a Best Buy outside San Bernadina and had to purchase a new GPS, it was $150, but I talked the guy down to $100.  The only good thing about people who work on commission!  But I still wasn't happy with the added expense.
* We arrive at the hotel in Beverly Hills, only to find out the one they had booked us had required Valet, and a $40 a night parking fee.  (anyone who knows me knows, I do NOT let others drive my car, so this was not fun for me.)
* I took the kids to Santa Monica/Beach Pier for an evening of fun concerts on the beach and amusement parks and other activities.  After dinner before dark they wanted to go back to the hotel to rest?? I know I couldn't believe it.
* Went running Saturday morning (alone) for an hour and a half around Beverly Hills and let me tell you it was hilarious to see these people all dressed up, perfect hair and make up, walking these little dogs, and then carrying bags of poop in their hand:)  Loved my run though!
* Spent 4 hours at the beach, skipped the sunscreen for a few hours and got a great tan!
* Spent 3 hours in the worst traffic of my life, to drive only 31 miles to the Rose Bowl Stadium.  Took me 1 hour just to drive the last mile.  I let the girls get out and walk so they could get to the concert in time.
* Found out they were charging $40 cash only for parking.  Which they then lead me 1.5 miles away from the Rose Bowl into a Golf course, of which I had to drive down dirt roads, then rolling golf course hills to park in one of the furthest lots they had.  Yes we paid $40 for parking on a golf course???  Then of course no shuttle, a walk to the concert.  Which was fine for me, but let me tell you how much teenage girls love to walk 1.5 miles late at night....
* Concert was great even though I wasn't very familiar with One Direction.  But they did put on an amazing concert, they really know how to give a show!
* Again traffic to get out of concert, finally hit the pillow a little after 2am.  Only to wake up a few hours later to make the drive back to Utah.
* A few hours into our drive my air conditioner goes out in my car, and smelled a burning smell.  Pulled over into a rest area shortly after.  After looking things over called Dad for advice and decided to keep the air off, and roll the windows down.
* Drove in the heat of the day from outside Barstow CA, though Vegas and Mesquite over 102 degree's out, no air conditioner with the windows down......  Let me tell you it is a nightmare to get already dehydrated 14 year olds to drink water, I had to force them to drink and show me their bottles... arghhhh...
*  1 mile from dropping my cousins off, something broke worse on my car.  I wanted to cry, but just got pissed instead.
*  Found out the next morning, the Compressor went out likely outside of Barstow, and busted some bearings, clutch and other things.  Was told it would be $700 - $800 fix.
*  Told it was a miracle I made it back, the mechanic said it sounded impossible that the car made it without burning out.  If it had burned out, it would have cost me $3000+ to fix, so I was very lucky.  That and I wasn't stranded in the desert with 3 young girls!  Was also told I was smart to turn the air off, if it had gone back on, the car wouldn't of made it even a few more miles from where we were.
* Mechanic fixed my car and discovered they were able to salvage a few things, and it only ended up costing me $550, much less than even their quote.  I love my mechanic Thomas Tire in WVC, they are the most honest around!

Okay, so those aren't all the things that happened, but that is my short version.  After over 35 hours of sitting behind the wheel in 3 1/2 days, I am going to say I have no desire to take a road trip for a very long, long time!  Which is weird for me to say, because I love road trips and traveling.  Absolutely nothing went the way it was supposed to go, sometimes life just can suck!  But at the same time, we were being watched out for, because things could have been much, much worse!


One of my sisters raced in her first ever Triathlon the weekend I was away at Cali.  She doesn't appreciate mention of name or race, but lets just say this was a big race, lots of big names in it with some very fast times.
She finished 1st place in her age group, and 4th place Women's overall.

I have to say that this is pretty awesome, especially since 2 months ago she couldn't even move, in fact she had neck surgery 2 months ago to repair a bulging disc.  Then had to take a month off after the surgery to heal.  So she pulled this off, even after all of that time off and lack of training, which also meant she didn't get a chance to train to swim in lakes in advance.  (Although she was in peak shape before the neck injury happened.)
Pretty awesome, I had to give her a shout out of congratulations!!!!
She's hooked and plans to train for and do more, I see some possible 1st place over all finishes in her future, especially since she'll be able to better train for the others.

As for me, I haven't hit my 6 miler yet, maybe this week.  I fully plan on letting go a bit more and not holding back, especially since the Specialist says it's okay to be a little less cautious.
I'm going to start pushing the mileage up again, I'm going to continue with my adding 1 mile a week more to each week's longest run.  I'm hoping that by the end of October I'll be hitting weekly 13-14 milers.
I also need to get back on track with my weightloss goals.  I haven't really gained anything, but with all the extra Pepsi I drank over the Cali weekend lets just say I have struggled a little to quit drinking it now that I am back:)

Running and preventing toenail loss

This week I decided to tackle the topic about Running and Toenail Loss aka the Black Toenail.  Some people have this misconception that you haven't experienced true running until you've lost your first toenail???

Actually, this couldn't be any more true!  Believe it or not, most runners especially experienced runners will tell you, you shouldn't ever need to lose a toe nail.  This is something that is completely preventable.  If you don't believe me, go ahead and ask a distance running expert or podiatrist:)

If you are one of those runners who think loss of a toenail is a right of passage, keep on thinking that, this post is not for you.  For the rest, who may be interested feel free to read on:)

There is one type of runner, who actually may not be able to avoid losing toe nails.  Those are runners who have crooked toes.  I wish I would offer those of you who may have bent toes a fix, but unfortunately I am not aware of one.  However, if it's a major problem ask your podiatrist their may be certain shoes that are better than others for you, possible ones with a wider toe base.

For those of you with normal feet and normal toes, YES it is possible to never get a black toe nail and lose a nail!    Believe it or not, this is something that IS preventable and it's an easy fix!

What causes a black toenail?
Your toe rubbing on the top or front of your shoe. Generally happens most when distance running, or running in hotter temperatures when your feet swell more.

How to prevent it?
There are a few things you can do.

The biggest thing, that will help are wearing the right shoes.  There is no specific brand or kind.
Actually, it all comes down to being properly fitted.
Runners who lose toe nails are usually always wearing shoes that are too small for their feet.  It's true, that simple thing is really all that makes the difference.

Few things to remember when purchasing new running shoes. 

*  Your feet are a tad smaller in the morning (less swelling) best time to try on running shoes is later in the afternoon or evening when your feet are a little more on their normal daily swollen side.  Avoid morning running shoe shopping!!!!

* Only wear socks you plan on running in, while you are trying on shoes.  If you think you might wear a thicker sock, then those are the socks you should bring with you to try on new shoes.

*  The thumbnail test.  When you have your weight fully placed down into the shoes you are trying on.  You should have a good half inch or even more space between where your big toe (or tallest toe) hits and the open space in the top of the shoe.  Generally if you place your thumb on top of your tallest toe, and measure out to your thumbnail, that should be a good amount of space.
(A lot of times runners need a shoe size that is one full size larger than what they normally wear.)

(Why the extra space?  When your running, your foot expands and swells.  As you get into your workout, your shoes will not feel too big, you'll appreciate that extra space in the toe area.)

*  If your still not sure, visit a running specialty store and ask the salesman to make sure you have enough space between your toes and the top of the shoes.

*  You may need to avoid buying shoes online if this is a problem with you.  All shoes are different even if you keep buying the same brand and same size.  Shoes have flaws and they are not all a perfect cookie cutter design.  Each pair needs to be tried on and tested before buying.

Other things to remember to always do:

* Keep your toenails trimmed.  Trim them about 3 days before a long run or a race.
Avoid pedicure's around races and long runs.  Believe it or not, you need those build up callous on your toes, they are preventing you from getting blisters and even toenail loss problems.  If you do get one, don't allow them to be completely buffed away!

* Keep your feet and toes as dry as possible.  Certain socks for runners are better than others.  Moisture wicking is a must.  (Do not wear cotton socks!!!)  Also socks that are completely seamless I have found to be the best.

Think you have tried these things, but you are still having problems?

If you have crooked toes, like I said above their may not be a solution other than a wider toe base and even then depending on how crooked your toes are, that may not even help.
But if you have normal feet/toes and have tried all these things and your still having problems.  It likely means you need a second opinion.

Don't go off your instincts on buying shoes, let someone who is an experienced runner go with you, have them feel your toe in the shoe, have them help show you what you might be missing.  Or explain to the sales person in a running specialty shop what is happening, let them help figure out what your doing wrong.
Bring the socks that you wear running with you.  Let your "distance" running friend or the sales person look at them, possibly they can tell you if the socks your wearing are not really a good running sock.
It might be embarrassing, but show them your toenails, maybe your idea of keeping them trimmed isn't exactly "trimmed".  As some especially women have a tendency to keep their toenails longer for purposes of "cute painted toenails".

Also, you may be wearing a shoe that might not be for distance running, it may have material in it that increases sweating and isn't wicking it away from your feet.  Just because a shoe is listed in a store as a "running shoe" doesn't mean it really is best for running.
Again, this is why running specialty stores are best until you know what your doing.  I won't lie good running shoes unfortunately come with a big price tag these days.  But you get what you pay for when it comes to running shoes.

Hopefully this will help some of you who are experiencing these problems avoid them in the past, because yes they are avoidable.
Or if you are new to running, maybe you'll be lucky and these tips will help you from ever making these mistakes!


Fallen by Lauren Kate - A book review

Lauren Kate

Yes it's true I am one of the last to finally read this book and series.  But on the plus side, all the books in the Fallen Series are out and I won't have to wait years to read how it ends.  Especially since this book grabbed me right from the start and left me looking forward to picking up the next book in the series.

Luce Price has lead a troubled life, things have happened in her past that have both her and others believing she is a bit crazy.  Institutions and doctors have been her recent life.  When a last chance arrives and the opportunity to attend the Sword & Cross boarding school comes.  Luce and her parents jump on it.  She is sent away to the school filled with camera's as spy's and only 15 minutes a week of outside contact via a phone call allowed.

Luce arrives at the new school, and knows that everyone there is a different kind of crazy, just like she is.  But that doesn't matter to her, and she is pleasantly surprised to immediately find a couple of new friends.  However, she is not loving that one of the guys Daniel, that she is so drawn to, wants absolutely nothing to do with her.

Unfortunately for Luce, she can't help it she is drawn to Daniel, and sets herself up for awkward moments, and heartbreak at every chance meeting she has with him.  She's not sure why Daniel has no interest in her, and even more unsure why at one moment he can be almost pleasant and then turn on her the next.

With fate constantly pushing them together, Luce becomes bound and determined to find out what is Daniel's secret and why he treats her the way he does.  The only problem is, she doesn't realize that discovering this secret could bring on her own death.

The romance of Fallen is a lot of push and take.  An outcast girl falling for mysterious and great looking guy, in a bit of dark but yet gripping love story.  I was sucked into this story after the first few chapters, and found that even after I read the last page I couldn't wait for more.  If you enjoy stories of forbidden love, thrilling mystery and story lines that are impossibly hard to put down.  The Fallen Series by Lauren Kate is one I recommend!  I am really looking forward to the next book in this series!

Get Your Run On Giveaway Hop

I am excited for this giveaway hop, it's been a while since our last!
I want to thank the gals over at  Fairytales and Fitness for co-hosting in this hop and helping me spread the word.

What is a giveaway hop?
A great way for you as viewers and blog followers to enter several individual blogger giveaways.  At the bottom of this post you'll find a list of all the other bloggers participating and if you click on their names it will take you directly to their giveaway.  You can enter all or as many as you want.

This particular hop's focus is on Running, because what would fall be without all the fabulous races we all love to enter!

So what can you win on my blog?

Ina Printing Workout, opened in 2011.  They are a husband and wife team, who have created their own printing company.  In 2014 they added their Workout Wear line.

They have graciously offered to give ONE of you lucky participants a chance to win a tank of your choice from their Etsy shop.
You can view the entire line here: InaPrintingWorkout

They have lots of colors and prints to choose from.  I am just showing you a little peak of what they have to offer:

* Winner must have a US Shipping address
* Enter in the Rafflecopter below

a Rafflecopter giveaway

That's it, now HOP on over to the other blogs in the giveaway and enter to win lots more prizes!

The Program & The Treatment by Suzanne Young

It's not often I do a book review of two books instead of just one.  However, having just read both The Program and its sequel The Treatment I decided it might be more fitting to do one review for both books.
Even doing so, I will be careful in my wording as not to ruin the ending of either book, or let out the secrets.  So no worries, for those interested in reading them, this will not be a spoiler for either.

The Program had been on my reading list for quite a while, and I actually listened to the Audio version on this book.  However, when I finished I enjoyed it so much I didn't want to wait for the audio version to come out on The Treatment, so I just picked up the hard cover version to find out how the story ends.

Sloane and James are not only best friends, but are also in love and have been for quite some time.  The problem is, they live in a world and during a time where suicide has become an epidemic for teens under the age of 18.
Sloane witnessed her brother's suicide and thankfully James helped her get through it, and has helped hold her up ever since.
There are more problems than just living in a country riddled with suicide.  The biggest problem in Sloan and James eyes is The Program.

When suicide rates went up, humanity abandoned therapy and drug treatments and started placing kids in to a Program.  A program, that claims a 100% success rate.  However, once you enter the program there is no escape and no coming back the same.  Your memories are washed away, you will remember nothing but what The Program allows you to remember.  You come out of The Program a shell of your old self.  Once you are out, you are monitored.  Everything from who you can be friends with to what you wear and how you do your hair.  You remember none of your friends, loves and even at times family members are erased from your mind.  You become a clean slate for what The Program wants you to know.

Teens fear The Program, more than they fear catching the suicide epidemic itself.  Sloan and James are no different.  Their entire lives are spent pretending to be careful, from what they say, to facial expressions.  The Program has handlers watching teens constantly, looking for those who might be their next candidate for mind erasing.
So far Sloan and James have helped each other get through life, and they are close.  As soon as you turn 18, you are no longer The Program's concern.
One fateful day, the worst happens and then a downward spiral starts for James.  Sloan tries to hold them both together, but she isn't able to be there at every moment.  Eventually James is taken into The Program and it devastates Sloan.  She is bound and determined to get him back, some how, some way when he gets out.  However, Sloan is no match for The Program and eventually she is also taken away.

The Program is scary, frightening.  You can't escape it, and you can't figure out what is happening before it is too late.  Mind erasure and those at the program are nothing what they seem, and quite deceiving.  The minute you think you have it figured out, you don't because they have medications that just make you forget as they draw out all of your memories, especially the ones they want.
Sloan though is presented with something that is both cruel, tragic and hopeful at the same time.  The chance to keep one memory, just one small memory and she takes it, despite what she has to do to get it.

One thing about The Program, it may take all your memories but it does not change your personality.  It's also scary as you can't remember anything, and want both to know who you are, but know you can't yet still have to move on.  At the same time, wondering if you really even want to remember who you were, because everyone tells you how miserable you were or how you tried to kill yourself.

Fate has a funny way of working out, and Sloan and James find each other after The Program.  Things are different for both, they remember nothing, they know nothing of their fun and beautiful romance before. Intrigue and attraction win out.  That and their hatred of The Program.  Together they are a team of two, a team who is searching for a treatment, memories, safety or just escape.
Soon they find there are worst things than losing your memories, much much more frightening things than losing their memories.
Before long they have no choice but to discover what those things are, and run for escape, for love for a life...

The Program and The Treatment both take you on a very suspenseful ride.  Both books are fast paced, filled with great romance and gripping suspenseful action.  Well written books that will really make you think as much as the story will touch you, as the plot is something you really will find quite compelling.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I first started listening to The Program.  But it grabbed me early on and by the time I finished I was grateful to discover that it's sequel was already out.  I devoured the pages of The Treatment pretty fast!

These books are in the Young Adult genre, however like myself adults will enjoy them too.  There is a bit of bad language and non graphic situations dealing with sex.  So for those who enjoy a really clean read, I thought I would put that out there beforehand.  Overall, I really enjoyed these reads, and found both books to be really easy to get hooked on in the early chapters!

Christmas Meadows, Utah High Uinta Mountains

Last week I took the opportunity to travel up to a place that I haven't visited in a few years.  Christmas Meadows, in the higher Uinta mountains in Utah.
I'll be honest, if I want to just get lost for a few days, the higher Uinta's area is a great place to do it!  I could just sit and relax in a chair and stair at views like this below for hours!  I spent a great deal of my childhood in these mountains, and plan to do the same for the rest of my life:)

You can access Christmas Meadows by taking the Mirror Lake HWY, about mile marker 49 if you are coming from Kamas, Ut and about 35 miles south of Evanston, WY if you are coming from that direction.

It's a great place to visit, to get a view from up on top.  You're pretty high, so you are above a lot of the peaks.  That river was so beautifully clear, just as you'd hope to see this high up!

This is a beautiful area, full of lots of things to do:
Fishing, Camping, ATV' Trails, Mountain Biking, Hiking, Horse Back, Back Country Camping/hiking  and of course wild life watching.  We've had an unusually wetter year which is why the meadow still looks greenish with wildflowers.  Early spring would be your greenest meadow and normally in late summer like this you probably would only see browns:)  Except for this year!

This beautiful fork of the Bear River offers great fly fishing.  With easy access to walk up the river to catch the fish in all the good pockets.  This time of year the water is so clear you can pretty much just spot and see the fish in the water to know exactly the best places to throw your line.

It's a bit out of the way and a few miles of dirt roads to get to it.  Because its further from other popular area's, over crowding isn't something you have to worry about to much except on weekends.  Because of all the ATV trails, keep in mind you'll have the ATV type of crowds, and likely kids driving them around the campgrounds and roads.

As you can see those horrible tree beetles are really taking too many of our trees!

You can access some of the hiking trails via the end of the dirt road past the campgrounds.  Others, via the ATV or other 4 wheel trails.  There are actually over 400 miles of ATV trails in this area!  I know 4 wheel paradise!!!
In the winter you can take your snow mobile's out on them and have an entirely different white adventure!

If this is a place you'd like to visit in the fall, keep in mind a stormy day can/will likely bring snow.  It's also hunting season, so if you plan to hike make sure you bring your hunter orange gear!  Sunny days in the fall can bring temps in the 60's.  But when the sun goes down it can easily go into the 40's or 30's.   Summer, you'll have warmer temps in the 80's.

Moose territory!  If you love wild life watching the moose love hanging out in these high marshy bushes along this river.  We saw one moose while on our day's adventure:)
You'll also likely see lots of deer as we did!

Your also in bear country, and if you wake up early one morning and go out into the meadows, you might, just might be lucky enough to spot a bear.  We looked hard, but of course we weren't lucky enough to spot one of these beautiful creatures!  If you do see one, you'll be luckier than myself!
Of course my sister also swears it's a great place to spot "Bigfoot", haha  Love her even though she's crazy!

They do have water in the campground you can fill up with, but I'd suggest bringing your own just in case.  Especially in the early spring or fall, they won't have the water turned on then since it could freeze a pipe.

The hiking trails run along the river, and go for miles up into some beautiful Utah Backcountry.

* Mosquito spray is always a good thing to pack!  Although I think the freeze and snow they had a few weeks ago killed most of them for this year:)
* Campground spots can be reserved Memorial-Labor Day, but the rest of the year is first come first serve.  There are only 11 campground spots.  But back country camping is allowed.
* No cell phone wireless services, so consider it a great way to take a real vacation or day trip with no mobile distractions:)
*  If hiking and not familiar with the area, I suggest getting a Uinta Backcountry hiking map.  If you don't have a good sense of direction and plan on leaving trails, I suggest bringing a GPS.  But if you are familiar with Utah and it's back country it's pretty easy to get a sense of where you are at all times.
* Your a ways from food and gas, so fill up in the towns before heading up the Mirror Lake HWY.  However, there is a small Bear River cabin store not to far down the road.  It's also a great place for winter cabin camping for those who love to snowmobile.
* Great summer hiking, but also winter snowshoe or cross country skiing.
*  The area is between 8,700 feet and you can hike into area's around 10,000+ feet easily from here.  If your from Utah and visit the mountains often you probably won't have to deal with elevation sickness.  If your not from Utah and visiting, take a day first to relax before going out and hiking, and that usually I hear helps people avoid any elevation problems.

Running, Weight loss and the Possibility of going Deaf

On Labor Day my sister and I took her baby and 3 year old and went hiking up in the Higher Uinta Mountains here in Utah.  We spent the day up around 10,000 feet enjoying the cooler temps and sunny day!
My cute 3 year old little niece turned to me as we were hiking and said "Kristy I like hiking, I think we should go more."  I smiled because I work on training all my young nieces and nephews from the time they start walking to love to hike, so I can help them grow up into loving it so I can have hiking partners:)  So I said to her, "You can call me on the phone anytime you want to hike and I will take you."  She grabbed my hand, and said "Okay, I will."  Ah yes, another hiker in the family has been born:)  Her little legs did great and went most of the 2.5 miles.  Only asked me to carry her a few times.
The pictures I am showing today, are a few from our hiking trip on Monday!

I had a few little issues this week in my tendon area (I've been working the job that cause it more, probably too much which has been the cause.)
However, I will say I did get my non-stop 5 miler in on Wednesday, and it went pretty good.  I didn't have any pain during or after so each new mile I add is proving that the injury itself likely isn't going to get any worse from running.  I just need to lay off working the job that caused it a little more, which would be so much easier if I didn't still have medical bills to pay off:)

So a few months ago I mentioned that I had made an appointment with the specialist "just in case". Today is the day for that appointment.  Part of me thought to cancel it, but then because my original injury still hasn't lost all the swelling and is only at 90% healed and doesn't seem to be improving much from that and the other foots occasional problems I figured I better suck it up and go.  Better to keep the Dr. Appt, than get myself into worse problems like before because I didn't go soon enough!

So my questions for the Specialist today, despite the fact that I don't think there is anything he can do or say that will help, and it's just going to be another $350 down the drain.
Regardless, I am going to ask about if the Peroneal and Achilles Tendons will in fact ever heal completely or if it's just going to be something I have to deal with and work around for life.
When I talk to other runners who have gone through what I have, I get mixed answers.  Some gave up because they said it never heals.  Others have said eventually it does but it take many years...  Not that I don't trust other runners, but not everyone takes a proactive or correct approach to healing, so I think I am going to go with the Specialist on this one and get his final take on it all.

Love my little hiking friend:)
Second, I'm going to ask him about the other foot (my nerve entrapment guess), and see if I am right or if it's something else...
I'll mention the running I have been doing, and will likely mention my upcoming plans on building the mileage slow but at a steady pace.  I mean I know myself, I would like to be doing 18 milers by December and it's quite a possibility even on a slow safe training plan.
My Specialist works with Olympic athletes and he is a runner, he's very highly recommended and he and his team of Dr's have been spot on with helping me so far, so if he gives me the go ahead I will continue, but if he tells me to back off a little and try a new recovery method I will.
So we shall see...

Good news is, as of this morning I have officially lost 24 pounds!
I have a bit more I'd like to drop, but I am pretty proud of myself.  Losing the extra weight seriously has been one of the harder things I have attempted.  But I feel I am doing pretty good with it.  I am being healthy about it, and although it's been a slow progress, it is in fact progress!

Because I am an awesome cousin, ha ha.  When my aunt called me and asked me if I would do her a favor.  She bought her teenage daughters tickets to One Direction in California and because of some health problems she can't take the drive and concert and her girls were looking so forward to it.
Since, she is paying for the entire trip and already booked us a condo.  I decided a free trip to Cali... Okay I decided to take them.

I've heard of them, I know maybe one or two songs but other than that I don't really know much about One Direction, but my aunt assures me I will know more than I ever cared to from her daughters while we take the 12 hour drive:) LOL
The Rose Bowl Stadium I hear is huge, and my thoughts were... over 90,000 screaming teenage girls... I am going to go deaf!
So I have actually already packed some ear plugs, ha ha.. and yes I will use them!  (But I will make sure my long hair hides them, I remember being a teenager I don't want to embarrass them:)

Since we will be leaving on a late afternoon, I think I am going to break up the drive there and stop about 6 hours down the road in Vegas for a night.  Then continue on to Cali the next morning.
I want them to have a fun trip, but I hope they want to go to the beach because I do and well since I am driving, and that's what I want to do for a day, yeah we are going to the beach.  ha ha.
It's going to be a shorter trip because I need to get back by Sunday night.  But anyone who knows me, knows I am always up for a trip, even if I might loose some hearing on this one:)

Anyone have any good recommendations on clean beaches close to L.A. Pasadena area?
I was thinking either Santa Monica or Long Beach.  It's been a few years since I have been in the area and I have only been to Long Beach and Redondo beach in the L.A. area but I hear Santa Monica is a fun one!  I'd like to try paddle boarding, life's been too crazy to get around to it here in Utah this year, and because of our unusual cooler August and the rain and snow in the higher elevations, the lakes are just too cold to get in now to try it here this year.

Last I am just going to quickly mention the next Giveaway Hop hosted by myself and co-hosted by my friends at Fairytales and Fitness!  If your looking to grow your blog, this is an awesome fun way to do it.  If your interested in hosting a giveaway, I can promise you far more entries than you'd get if you host it alone!
There is just a couple more days to enter and join your blog up with us!  Read the rules HERE first, and then link up with all of the rest of us below: