Archive for the ‘Best of’Category

Nike Free 3.0 Flyknit Running Shoes Review

Nike 3.0 Flyknit Running Shoes

The Nike 3.0 Flyknit shoe. (Photo: Nike)

Last week, I popped over to Niketown in New York City to try a pair of the new Nike Free 3.0 Flyknit running shoes. They’re an update to the Nike Free 3.0, a shoe that previously did not have a Flyknit upper. Nike gave me the shoes to keep and a spot in one of the Nike Free Stride treadmill sessions taking place at Niketown in New York City.

Nike Free 3.0 Flyknit running shoes

I’m warming up in the Nike Free 3.0 Flyknit shoes. (Photo: Nike)

The 32-minute Nike Free Stride workout focused on curating a more efficient and natural stride in the Nike Free 3.0 Flyknit shoes. A gentle warm-up and mini-stride clinic preceded a butt-kicking hill interval workout, as a DJ pumped throwback jams into the multi-story atrium of Niketown.

I’m not usually one for exercising on a stage while shoppers watch, but I was curious to try the shoes.

Nike had previously given me a pair of Nike Free Flyknit+ shoes, which came out in summer 2013. They were similar to the Nike Free 5.0, but with a Flyknit upper. I ended up not reviewing them and not including them in my Holiday Gift Guide for one simple reason: I didn’t love them.

I found them too tight around the ankle, to the point of being constrictive. Another runner I know even cut his Flyknits to reduce pressure on his Achilles tendon. While I like my shoes to fit well, I like my laces tied loosely. With no functional laces, the Flyknits are more like a supportive sock. With a tight top, they just weren’t the shoes for me.

Nike Free 3.0 Flyknit running shoes

That’s me giving the Nike Free 3.0 Flyknits a try. (Photo: Nike)

So I’m happy to report that the Nike Free 3.0 Flyknit running shoes have a much more comfortable fit in this newest version of the Flyknit upper.

Altogether, Nike made three major changes to the 2014 Nike Free 3.0 Flyknit from the previous versions of both the Free 3.0 and Free Flyknit. Read the rest of this entry →

How To Register For America’s 15 Biggest Marathons

biggest marathons

Runners at the Marine Corps Marathon. (Photo: Cpl. Bryan G. Lett/US Marine Corp)

Still deciding what marathon you want to run in the next 12 months? I am! The 15 biggest marathons in the U.S. are a common place to start.

Over the last few months, I’ve been posting when lotteries and registrations open for many popular races, from large runDisney events to a small 7-miler in Key West, half-marathons in New York to major marathons all over the U.S. It’s always frustrating to discover a race you want to run is already sold-out.

So here’s how and when to register for America’s 15 biggest marathons. Some of them are even among the biggest marathons in the world. And guess what? Most of them sell out before race day.

Half-marathoners, keep in mind that many of these events have 13.1-mile races the same weekend. So if you don’t want to go 26.2, you’ve still got options.

Biggest Marathons in the U.S. in 2013

1. TCS New York City Marathon

New York
50,266 finishers
#1 in the U.S. and #1 in the world
Next race: November 2, 2014
Registration: Lottery closed. Charity entries available.
Half Marathon? No Read the rest of this entry →

Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon Registration Opens

wine run, Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon

Chef Mickey and Minnie greeted runners at the finish of Disney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon on Nov. 9, 2013. (Photo: runDisney)

Registration for the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend from November 8-9 at Walt Disney World in Florida opens Tuesday, March 4 at 12 p.m. EST.

It’s no secret that the Wine and Dine Half Marathon is my favorite half marathon. I ran the 2013 race as part of a press trip sponsored by New Balance and runDisney. In 2011, the event was my first runDisney race and where my husband proposed. So it will always be a sentimental favorite.

But that’s not the only reason I love this race. Marriage proposals aside, it has the best post-race party I’ve ever been to, at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.

The Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon starts at 10 p.m. outside the ESPN Wine World of Sports Complex and takes runners through Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, past Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, and finally to the finish at Epcot.

Once there, runners can party until 4 a.m. with Epcot all to themselves. Admission to the Finish Line party is included in race registration, along with a $10 Disney gift card and a complimentary beer, wine or soda at the finish.

wine and dine half marathon

My husband and me with the real Aladdin and Jasmine. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

Friends and family can also buy tickets to the Finish Line Party, where select Epcot attractions like Test Track and Soarin’ remain open into the wee hours. The party also includes all the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival kiosks, live bands, DJs, and meet and greets with Disney characters. My husband and I got a photo with Aladdin and Jasmine while we were dressed as Aladdin and Jasmine at the 2013 race. In 2011, we photographed ourselves around the world. Read the rest of this entry →

What If Disney’s Beauty & The Beast Were Runners?

Beauty & the Beast, runDisney

Beauty and the Beast

If Disney characters were runners, what kind of runners would they be?

The Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend of races kicked off today with the Cinderella Royal Family 5K, and continues Saturday with the inaugural Disney Princess Enchanted 10K and the Disney Princess Half Marathon on Sunday. Not to be forgotten is the first ever Glass Slipper Challenge, where runners complete both the 10K and half-marathon. Talk about medal envy; I’ve got it bad. You know I love me some Cinderella.

So in honor of the Disney Princess Half Marathon, I thought I’d share another installment of my runDisney Running Profiles.

Previous installments have looked at Sleeping Beauty as the runner who needs some rest and recovery, Alice in Wonderland as the newbie runner who has fallen down the running rabbit hole, and Cinderella as the hard working back-of-the-pack runner.

But who better to spur runners on this Princess Half Marathon weekend than Disney’s best cheerleader, Belle?

Beauty & the Beast, Disney running

Belle

Beauty & the Beast: The Coach and the Runner

Great coaches—in running and in life—are the people who bring out the best in us. They cheer us from the sidelines, encourage us when we’re down, expect more of us when we give them less, and help us show the world, and ourselves, just how great we really can be. Never is that more apparent than when watching the Olympics.

In the Disney universe, the greatest coach of them all is Belle from Beauty & the Beast. And the Beast is a quintessential runner.

If I had to pick one Disney character to coach me, Belle would be my top pick. Read the rest of this entry →

How To Put Together A Race Medal Display

race medal display

My race medal display (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

It only took six years. I finally put together a race medal display for all my running medals. Here’s why, where and how I did it.

Why I Put Up A Race Medal Display

On Sunday, November 4, 2007, I earned my very first marathon medal.

NYC Marathon, ING New York City Marathon

My first running medal from the 2007 New York City Marathon. (Photo: Christy Hourihan)

I wore it for the rest of the day, unable to believe that I had actually finished a marathon. But the medal eventually found its way into a drawer. Over the years, medal after medal joined it.

No more. Those medals aren’t just pretty pieces of metal and ribbon. They’re tangible representations of all the hard work that went into each race. More importantly, they’re reminders of what I’ve overcome as a person and as a runner.

I came to the sport from square one, having overcome a bone tumor that plagued me for a decade and caused me to walk with a limp. I’ve gone from hating running to loving it to rearranging my life and career around it. I’ve gone from running 11:30 minute miles to 8:00 minutes miles. And I’m still growing as a runner, running personal bests and loving experiencing races all over the world. I think that’s important to remember. Read the rest of this entry →

Florida Keys 7 Mile Bridge Run Registration Opens

7 Mile Bridge Run

The Seven Mile Bridge Run near Marathon, Florida crosses the longest bridge span in the Florida Keys. (Photo: Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau)

Registration for the 7 Mile Bridge Run in the Florida Keys opens Tuesday, February 11 at 6 a.m. EST. The race, in the appropriately named town of Marathon, Fla., will take place on Saturday, April 5, 2014. The 6.8-mile race is capped at 1,500 runners. Registration will be open until Thursday, February 13 at 9 a.m. EST or until the race sells out. And guess what? It sells out every year.

7 Mile Bridge Run

Runners cross the Seven Mile Bridge’s highest point at 65-feet. (Photo: Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau)

If you happen to be lucky enough to be a Florida Keys resident, registration for a limited number of entries opens Thursday, February 6 at 6:00 a.m. EST.

I’ve never run the 7 Mile Bridge Run, but I’ve had my eye on it since the fall, when I first heard about the nearby Southernmost Marathon in Key West.

Talk about a scenic run. The 7 Mile Bridge Run covers the entire span of the Seven Mile Bridge, the eighth longest bridge in the U.S. It’s part of the 113-mile Overseas Highway that connects the Florida Keys to the mainland. Read the rest of this entry →

04

Feb 2014

Race Report: Walt Disney World Half Marathon

Disney World Half Marathon

Goofy and Donald Duck at the Walt Disney World Half Marathon finish. (Photo: runDisney)

The Walt Disney World Half Marathon on Saturday, January 11 was the third of four races at the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend: the Disney Family Fun Run 5K, Walt Disney World 10K, Walt Disney World Half Marathon and Walt Disney World Marathon.

Disney World Half Marathon

Done! (Photo: MarathonFoto.com)

runDisney invited me to be their guest at the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. I was running the first three of the four races, so the Walt Disney World Half Marathon was the finale to my running weekend.

I’ve never run this race before; I was really looking forward to it. I ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon in 2012, which had a nearly identical course but with a slightly different start and finish, and I had a blast at that race.

I had one goal and one goal alone for the Walt Disney World Half Marathon: get a picture with Cinderella while dressed as Cinderella.

It was my sixth Disney race and I had yet to achieve that feat. Read the rest of this entry →

Brooklyn Half Marathon 2014 Registration Opens

half marathon training run, Kim Smith, Brooklyn Half Marathon

Kim Smith passes the Cyclone roller coaster on her way to victory at the 2013 Brooklyn Half. (Photo: NYRR)

Mark your calendars. Registration for the 2014 Brooklyn Half Marathon on May 17 opens this Wednesday, January 22 at 12 p.m. EST.

The Brooklyn Half Marathon may not be as famous as the New York City Marathon or NYC Half, but it should be. The event, also put on by New York Road Runners, is a world-class race on the verge of becoming very big, indeed. Mark my words: the day will come when this event is popular enough to have its own lottery. For 2014, NYRR is expecting its biggest field yet. Read the rest of this entry →

20

Jan 2014

Race Report: The Inaugural Walt Disney World 10K

Walt Disney World 10K

Minnie Mouse presides over the Walt Disney World 10K. (Photo: runDisney)

The Walt Disney World 10K on Friday, January 10, 2014 was the second of four races at the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend: the 5K, 10K, half-marathon and marathon.

runDisney invited me to be their guest at the race. Some 7,000 runners were completing all four races as part of the Dopey Challenge. Another 3,000 runners, like me, were just along for the ride.

It was the inaugural Walt Disney World 10K with a brand new race patron and medal: Minnie Mouse.

I can’t believe Minnie is only just now getting her own race. (UPDATE: A few readers have pointed out that Minnie Mouse used to host a Women Run the World 15K, known as the Minnie Marathon, that was eventually replaced by Disney’s Princess Half Marathon in 2009. Glad this isn’t Minnie’s first race!)

Of the three races I was running at the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend—the Disney Family Fun Run 5K, Walt Disney World 10K, and Walt Disney World Half Marathon—I was most excited to earn that Minnie Mouse medal.

Minnie Mouse medals! (Photo: runDisney)

Minnie Mouse medals! (Photo: runDisney)

Going into the Walt Disney World 10K I had just two letters on my mind: PR. I desperately wanted to break 54 minutes and my personal best of 54:09. I was well trained and ready to run. But I had four things working against me come race day.

  1. Sleep deprivation
  2. Humidity
  3. A blister
  4. Dopey Challenge runners

More on that after a breakdown of the race itself. Read the rest of this entry →

Running Goals For 2014: I Feel The Need For Speed

running goals

Thanks for the thumbs up, Maverick!

We’re nearly a week into 2014 and my first three races of the year—the Disney Family Fun Run 5K, Walt Disney World 10K and Walt Disney World Half Marathon—are already upon us.

I guess it’s finally time to write down my running goals for 2014.

When I look at them, one thing comes to mind: I’m a Maverick. I want to go faster. In 2013, I made the realization I’m a Speed Demon, not an Endurance Monster. I love speed workouts. I hate long runs. I run a 6:46 mile, but have struggled to break 2 hours in the half-marathon. Speed, not distance, has been good to me. So I’m giving into that for 2014.

But let’s see how I did on my 2013 goals, first.

Running Goals For 2013

1.   Get even faster

SUCCESS! I make this goal every year because it works for me. Last year I wrote: “In 2013, I’m going to try to knock out a 5K and 10K PR.” Done and done. I knocked out the following personal records in 2013: Read the rest of this entry →

Year in Review: Top 13 Races and Top 13 Posts of 2013

Toronto Waterfront Marathon, year in review

Finished! (Photo: Marathon-Photos.com)

Oh, 2013. Without setting out to do it, I ran 13 races in 2013. And I wrote a whole lot about them. Welcome to my year in review.

I started the year with a bang at the Walt Disney World Marathon. And I’m ending with a bang with the Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak.

In between, the year was filled with a roller coaster of highs and lows.

There was the thrill of a new 3-mile PR after the low of a hip injury. I’m the klutz that fell off a horse. It knocked me out of the game for a few weeks and sent me into physical therapy.

There was the high of running in Hawai’i and the low of getting sick for my fall marathon. And there was the redemption of a 5K PR after marathon season was over.

If 2013 taught me anything, it’s that you can’t win them all. But you can still have fun trying.

This photo of me with my finisher’s medal at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is proof of that. I was sick, failed to run a marathon personal best like I wanted, but still managed to enjoy the race. My smile says it all.

And you know what? When you give a goal your best and fail, it makes the successes even sweeter. I ran 6 of the 13 races either as fun runs or training runs and I ran 7 of the 13 races as races, pushing with everything I had. I managed to PR at three of them, and scored a few PRs in workouts without even trying, too. I’ll save those for my Goals of 2014 post.

So here are my 13 races of 2013. Read the rest of this entry →

Running in Hawai’i, Big Island: Where to Race, Run, Stay

running in Hawai'i

Running through Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. (Photo: Phil Hospod)

Hawai’i Island is the triathlon Mecca of the world. But Hawai’i is also a great running vacation destination, as my husband, Phil, and I learned on a trip there in August, which was sponsored by the Hawai’i Visitors and Convention Bureau. When it comes to running in Hawai’i—whether you’re going there to race, to train or just for fun—there are many iconic, unforgettable places to get in a jog.

I put together a “Running Vacation” guide to Hawai’i, the Big Island in my column at The Washington Times Communities. Here are some highlights and embellishments.

What To Race

Triathlons in Hawai’i
running in Hawai'i, triathlon

A cyclist on Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway  (Photo: Phil Hospod)

To compete in the Ironman World Championship, athletes must earn a spot at a qualifying race, gain entry through a lottery or win a bib at a charitable auction. But that’s not the only triathlon on Hawai’i Island.

The Ironman 70.3 Hawai’i on May 31, 2014 is the only Ironman World Championship qualifier held on the island, with a start and finish on the Kohala Coast.

Or try the Lavaman Triathlon Series with Olympic distance races at Keauhou on November 24, 2013 and Waikoloa on March 30, 2014. And many other triathlon events take place on the island throughout the year.

Running in Hawai’i
running in Hawai'i

Kona Marathon Map

Just want to run? Tackle the Kona Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K or 5K on June 22, 2014, or the Big Island International Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K on March 16, 2014.

Big Island Road Runners put together many local races like Hilo To Volcano 50k Ultra Marathon and Relay on January 18, 2014 and Mana 10s—your choice of a 10K or 10-miler on Mana Road in August.

And Peaman puts on a free series of events throughout the year. There are lots of year-round options for running in Hawai’i.

Where To Run

running in hawai'i

Views from a run on Ali’i Drive. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

Ali’i Drive

The most famous spot for running in Hawai’i might be Ali’i Drive. The iconic road is seven-miles long from start to finish with markers every mile. Winding through Kailua-Kona, the oceanfront road features prominently in most races in Kona, including the Ironman World Championship and Kona Marathon.

Phil and I made sure to get in a run along the route while we were staying at the Sheraton Kona, which is perfectly situated and the end of Ali’i Drive. Read the rest of this entry →

Best Gifts For Runners 2013: Karla’s Favorite Things

best gifts for runners

A winter scene by Currier & Ives.

It was snowing just yesterday, my Christmas tree is lighting up my living room and Christmas is just two weeks away. Wondering what to get for the runner on your list? These are just a few of my favorite things: the best gifts for runners this year.

I get lots of samples from sports companies and buy plenty of gear myself. The products on this list represent my favorite clothes, gadgets and gear currently available from a range of brands. In clothing, I’ve tried the women’s versions, but many come in men’s options too. I’ve indicated which items are available for men or in unisex sizing—a full 30 of them are. And I’ve included the list prices, though you’ll find many items for less than that.

Also, if it’s been in a past gift guide of mine, I didn’t include it here. But many of the products I highlighted in the days of yore are still available. So here are my guides from 2012, 2011, and 2009.

Without further ado, it’s time to get shopping and wish-listing. Here are my favorite running jackets, layers, tights, shorts, tanks, socks, sleeves, sports bras, gadgets, books and more this year. There are nearly 50 items in all.

Best Gifts For Runners 2013

Running Jackets

Three very different options for different needs: visibility, wind and all weather. Read the rest of this entry →

Wine Run? Here Are 18 U.S. Races For Wine Lovers

wine run, Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon

Chef Mickey and Minnie greeted runners at the finish of Disney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon on Nov. 9, 2013. (Photo: runDisney)

The Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon on November 9, 2013 may be over, but if you like a good wine run, there’s always next year.  Many races around the U.S. cater to grape guzzling runners.

In my column at The Washington Times Communities, I looked at races—from 5ks to marathons—in 11 states and one Canadian province aimed to please the wine connoisseur inside you. Many of them sell-out early, so put them on your calendar for next year.

Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon

November 2014 in Florida

This nighttime half marathon with a 10 p.m. start runs through Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom theme parks before finishing at Epcot, but the real draw is the Finish Line Party at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Epcot stays open to 4 a.m. for runners, with music, Disney characters, and, of course, food and wine. Friends and family can buy tickets to the party too.

Race swag includes a technical shirt, $10 Disney gift card, a glass of beer, wine or soda, one of runDisney’s iconic finisher medals, and entrance to the Finish Line Party. The weekend also includes a 5K fun run and kids races. www.runDisney.com

Harvest Stompede

wine run, Harvest Stompede

The Harvest Stompede takes runners through vineyards in Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula. (Photo: lpwines.com)

September 2014 in Michigan

Perhaps the most creatively named, this weekend of races includes a 7-mile run, 5K run and 5K walk through the vineyard rows of Michigan’s Leelanau peninsula.

Following whichever wine run you choose, runners can opt into the Harvest Stompede Wine Tour, a self-guided outing among the 23 Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association member wineries, pairing local foods with their wines. Tastes range from bratwurst and sauerkraut paired with Riesling to strawberry shortcake paired with Pinot Noir.

Race registration and wine tour tickets are sold separately. www.lpwines.com Read the rest of this entry →

On The Run 2013 ING New York City Marathon Recap

What an amazing day to be in New York City. The 2013 ING New York City Marathon came back with the biggest field of runners in the history of the sport. At the 43rd running of the race 50,304 finishers made it the world’s largest marathon ever.

On The Run, 2013 ING New York City Marathon

Bryan Steinhauer ran the ING New York City Marathon after recovering from a life-threatening attack and coma. (Photo: On The Run/NYRR)

In this episode of “On The Run” Tim Hutchings, Carrie Tollefson and I look at the highlights from the race, talk to some runners including pros and charity runners, and follow-up with a few of the athletes we profiled in previous episodes including Bryan Steinhauer, Team One Spirit, Bill Rancic and more. We also take a look back at the excitement of race week.

But I’d also like to share my thoughts about the marathon and what it means to me.

It was an honor to be a part of race week and the marathon, and to be in the middle of all the action. I’ve run the ING New York City Marathon three times and watched as a spectator even more. Each time, New York didn’t disappoint. It was my first marathon and it still stands as my favorite. Read the rest of this entry →

06

Nov 2013

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