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Tania Gail

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12 Tips for Success in Your First 5K Run

Sunday, November 25th, 2012 - by Tania Gail

These Shoes Were Made For Running Broad Street

Recently a blogging friend inspired by my Marathon race contacted me asking for advice on  how to train for a 5K. Oh yeah, I love, love, love welcoming new runners into the fold! Making the decision to train and run a 5K is one that pays back amazing dividends. You will discover the delight of exceeding what you thought you were capable of accomplishing and understanding that your best is always yet to come.

When I decided to train and run a 5K, I consulted friends who have extensive running experience before I started my training. However, I didn’t know what I didn’t know about running and had crucial knowledge gaps when I first started training, leading to numerous mild injuries. Whether you join a running group or use a Couch to 5K program, there are a few things that you need to know before beginning any 5K training program. I’ve put together a list to help you avoid some of the pitfalls I experienced as you progress in your running journey.  I base these recommendations on my personal experience; you should always consult a running professional for more detailed information.
1. Make sure you are healthy enough to run. This would be a good time to schedule the yearly physical you’ve been putting off all year.

2. Invest in running shoes. This does not mean walking into a sporting goods store and picking out running shoes that match your athletic gear. Find a local running store where the employees are runners themselves. Tell them you are beginning to train for a 5K and need help picking out an appropriate shoe. Also inquire if the store performs gait analysis as part of the decision process in helping you find appropriate shoes. If you want to read up on the bio-mechanics of running shoes – REI has a great summary of what you need to know when choosing running shoes. See also Cool Running - Running shoes for Dummies, Part 1. In summary, having the right shoe goes along way in preventing injury as you progress in your running journey.

3. After you have selected your running shoes, purchase running socks to wear with your shoes. Running socks are typically made of synthetic fibers that wick away moisture to help prevent blisters. Always wear your running socks with your running shoes. Believe me, you want to prevent blisters! Mizuno, an awesome running shoe, has a great post on why running socks matter.

4. Inquire at the running store if they organize group runs or do a google search for running groups in your area. Running in a group is a great way to meet runners of all levels and have fun at the same time. For example:  Philly Runners is a great group that organizes runs in Philly all year long.

5. Invest in technology that will track your pace, distance and time. Nike+ for your iPhone or RunKeeper are free applications that will track your pace and distance. In time, you may want to invest in a sports watch such as Nike+ Sport Watch or Garmin Forerunner 910XT GPS -Enabled Sport Watch. As a beginner runner, save your dollars and work with the free applications until you gain more experience as a runner i.e. many moons from now. At that time, I would strongly suggest the two watches mentioned above.

6. BEDROCK RULE OF RUNNING:  Warm up before each run regardless of the distance and stretch after every run. These two activities are non-negotiable, you will stretch before and after a run or suffer preventable injuries. I suggest dynamic stretching/warm-ups before running. Why? Here is good study on the impact of dynamic stretching and running. I also incorporate Pilate and yoga stretching in my post run stretching.

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Will Microsoft Surface Complete Me?

Thursday, June 21st, 2012 - by Tania Gail

Microsoft Surface – circa 2008 – minus the creepy looking guy:

Source: flickr.com via Tania on Pinterest


Monday night Microsoft unveiled an updated version of Surface – Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets. On the surface (pardon the pun) it looks promising. I’ve hesitated to jump on the iPad bandwagon because I want a tablet that can replace my laptop – in my view the iPad is simply a larger version of the iPod Touch. I’ve held close to the vision of a mobile tablet that is powerful enough to allow me to create content, while catching a movie on Netflix,  or downloading interesting apps.

Below is Microsoft’s Surface keynote address by Steve Ballmer. The video runs about 45 minutes but well worth the time to get an idea of the capabilities of this new tablet.

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Interesting to note that pricing and a date when the product goes on sale were not mentioned. While this keynote is a sexy advertisement for the Surface tablet, I will be keeping a close eye on new details of this tablet as they emerge.

Will the new Microsoft tablet complete my vision?  Time will tell and if it does, you will be reading my hands-on review here.

See Vodkapundit’s thoughts at PJ Lifestyle here: Preview: The Microsoft Surface Tablet

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Nike + SportWatch GPS Quick Review

Sunday, April 1st, 2012 - by Tania Gail

Since November 2011, I’ve been using a Nike+ Sportswatch with GPS to track my runs.   Released in 2011, the sportswatch retails on the Nike+ online store at US $169.00.  Previously I used the Nike+ shoe pod and receiver attached to an iPod nano. I found the tracking device to be consistently a half mile over my actual distance, despite repeated calibrations.

I eventually switched to the Garmin 405cx before purchasing the Nike+ Sportswatch with GPS. The selling point was GPS tracking as I still do not trust the shoe pod tracking.

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Nike+ FuelBand Real World Review

Monday, March 19th, 2012 - by Tania Gail

Nike+ Fuel Band

This isn’t your grandma’s pedometer.

I’m not a celebrity spokesperson given a FuelBand in order to hype this product.  I am a runner training for the 2012 Philadelphia marathon and this is my real world review of Nike+ FuelBand.

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3 iPhone Apps to Help Keep Your Health & Fitness Resolution

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012 - by Tania Gail

It is near the end of January and many New Year resolutions are hopefully still in progress. If you have decided to use the new year as the starting point to develop better health and fitness habits, I have three incredibly useful applications to assist in maintaining your resolutions. I use all three apps regularly, however, I have chosen not to share the information publicly.

My Fitness Pal:  A fantastic FREE application that tracks your food intake and fitness activities. The app includes the ability to share this information via social media if you so choose to do so.  The software tracks your information, producing charts to visually show your progress. You get detailed nutritional information on every food item you enter into your daily diary.  If find this application to be incredibly useful in seeing my overall diet and fitness progress.

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Runkeeper:  A free application for your smart phone that uses the GPS technology to track your fitness activity. You can share the information online with other Runkeeper users or just keep the info on your phone. It provides auditory updates of your progress during the activity, maps your routes, and provides detailed information on speed, time and distance of your activity.

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Fooducate:  Not sure about a food product you are about to consume?  Use this FREE application to scan the UPC bar-code and find out its Fooducate grade. The application grades thousands of grocery food items and provides a stoplight color code and letter grade. It also provides reasons for the letter grade assigned to the food item. Honestly,  I was shocked to find my favorite powerbar – Zone Perfect – rated a D+ in Fooducate.  The application also provides alternative foods to help users make better food choices.

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If you have decided to place an emphasis on healthier eating and increasing your fitness activities, today’s smart phone technology can have a positive impact on successfully maintaining your goals.

NOTE: All three applications are available in the Android marketplace.

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I Want This: Nike+ FuelBand

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012 - by Tania Gail

For those who have set a new year resolution of creating a more healthier lifestyle, Nike has several tools to support this healthy resolution. One of the newest products is Nike+ FuelBand. The FuelBand is designed to track daily physical activity calories for those looking to lose weight, get in shape or maintain a level of fitness.

Nike+ FuelBand
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For the past year, I have focused on a healthy and active lifestyle with a goal of completing a Marathon (or two).  In order to make this happen, I consulted with a nutritionist who suggested an ongoing fitness goal of burning two thousand physical activity calories per week in addition to dietary plan. In order to maintain this goal, I have manually calculated my calories burned for each activity. This method has its limitations and I do not factor in daily activities such as vacuuming, cooking, or walking to the store.

The Nike+ FuelBand looks to be the perfect device to assist with my goal of burning two thousand physical activity calories per week. The data provided can help anyone looking to be more fit and healthy in 2012 by refining fitness goals and serving as a benchmark for improvement.

I’m planning on pre ordering this fitness device today and will share my real world review of the device when it arrives.

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Gift Ideas For Your Favorite Photographer

Sunday, December 11th, 2011 - by Tania Gail

The season for gift giving is well underway. If you are puzzling over a gift or two for your favorite photographer, I’ve cobbled together a list of gift ideas that may help. I’ve included is a stocking stuffer list for those quick last minute gifts every photographer will appreciate. Keeping budgets in mind, the prices included are the lowest I could find at the time of writing. Also included are low cost alternatives to some of the more pricier items every photographer dreams about owning.  Please note I am a Canon fan and have added certain items specifically for use with a Canon camera, however, all of these items have an equivalent with other camera brands.


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iPhone Camera App Review—100 Cameras in 1

Sunday, November 27th, 2011 - by Tania Gail

Anyone who has searched online for photography tips has probably come across the work of Trey Ratcliff.

Trey pioneered the use of HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography,  his hard work in the photographic medium has been recognized with his HDR photograph being the first on display at the Smithsonian. He shares his knowledge and passion of photography on his blog Stuck in Customs. If you need a dose of photographic inspiration, read my review, then head over to Stuck in Customs.

When Trey announced an iPhone photo app — 100 Cameras in 1 — I took notice.

100 Cameras in One

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Hands on Fire…Kindle Fire

Saturday, November 19th, 2011 - by Tania Gail

Hands on Fire

After weeks of waiting, I finally got my hands on Fire…Kindle Fire.

Kindle Fire represents Amazon’s initial foray into the Tablet market. Retailing at US$199.00 the Kindle Fire is a 7 inch tablet that seamlessly integrates Amazon’s ecosystem of books, music, video and magazine services. Included in the cost of the tablet is a free month of Amazon Prime.  Prime allows the Kindle Fire user to access movies, read bestselling books and it includes free two day shipping directly from the Kindle Fire.

Kindle Fire has Arrived

What  comes in the box? One Kindle Fire, one U.S. power adapter, and a quick start guide – a very brief quick start guide. I’d like to start this review with a look at the design and features of this tablet. The quick start guide leads you to the Kindle Fire home screen where you can access a user guide with more detailed information on the device. 

Getting to Know your Kindle Fire

Handling the device, I found it to be solidly constructed with a soft rubberized backing that allows for a good grip on the device.  Thin and sleek, the design is interrupted by a power button, USB 2.0 (micro-b) and stereo audio jack (pictured below).

Sleek Design

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Hey Photography Ladies, it’s Time to Ditch the Man Bag

Friday, November 11th, 2011 - by Tania Gail

With great joy I am happy to report that I’ve said goodbye to my ‘man bag’ and hello to the stylish Epiphanie ‘Belle’ camera bag developed exclusively for women.

In recent weeks, I have searched online for a new camera bag that would meet my technical and style aspirations The search lead me to Epiphanie — a website dedicated to the camera bag creations of Maile Wilson. Maile, a talented photographer in her own right, liberates women from the ‘man bag’ epidemic with her line of camera bags that are technically superb and oh so very stylish.

Epiphanie Belle Photobag at Work

As more women enter into photography either as a hobby or a business, the need for camera bags that can securely hold equipment while maintaining a feminine look has grown tremendously. Maile’s creations have answered this need. The typical camera bag found in a camera store is designed strictly for functionality, with a bewildering choice of colors — black or dark grey. Most are designed to fit a man’s’ frame and style sensibilities. For example, my Lowepro Slingshot, while very functional, became annoyingly uncomfortable during long photo shoots. It truly became a pain in the neck.

After comparing the the camera bags on offer at Epiphanie, I chose the ‘Belle’ model in pink with a lime green interior. The website provides a detailed description of Belle:

Dimensions (LxWxH) 14x8x8inches. Exterior is water-resistant, high quality synthetic leather. Interior crafted with extra padding for maximum equipment protection. Velcro panels can be adjusted & moved to any position for maximum customization & flexibility. Removable cross-body strap with padding for extra support. Two exterior pockets. One interior pocket with zipper. Light colored interior so items can easily be found.

Ordering through the website, the bag arrived at my doorstep earlier than expected. As I unwrapped the new camera bag, a thank you card attached to the packing caught my eye. The camera bag itself is packaged within a custom-sized dust bag suitable to store the camera bag when not in use. Business cards with inspirational quotes inscribed on them were tucked into the three zippered pockets. I have give the designer an A plus for excellent positive marketing technique.

How does this bag stack up to my current photo bag, a Lowepro Slingshot?  On a recent field trip to Winterthur Estate and Garden, I quickly appreciated how well this bag fit my frame. I spent less time readjusting the camera bag and more time was focusing on the landscape.

Belle camera bag interior

An immediate difference was realized in the increased amount of equipment stored in the Belle photo bag versus the Lowepro SlingShot. I was able to load the Belle camera bag holds the following items:

  • One Canon Camera body with lens
  • Two additional lenses
  • External flash plus snoot
  • Two point and shoot cameras
  • Cocoon organizer
  • Coin purse
  • One coveted tripod pass

Below is a photo of the equipment I was able to pack into the Belle camera bag:

What is in my Camera Bag

I have compiled a list of pros and cons based upon my personal use of the Belle camera bag.


  • Weatherproof material. This is a deal breaker for any camera bag,  if the bag is not weatherproof than I am not buying it.
  • Padded customizable dividers. The dividers are of a good sized thickness with velcro tabs allowing customization within the interior of the bag.
  • Small details, like the metallic camera charm attached to camera bag handle make a big impact.
  • Padded shoulder strap. My neck is thanking me profusely.
  • Stylish design that disappears when you are working on a photo shoot and is eye-catching when you are not.
  • The design doesn’t project to the world “Hey, I have expensive photo equipment in here, come steal me.”


  • The price. The camera bags range in price from US $154.99 through $184.99. Belle retails at US$164.99. You certainly can find camera bags that are less expensive, but I find the combination of style and function of these bags to be worth the extra dollars.

Overall, I am extremely impressed with the quality and functionality of this camera bag. I would highly recommend this camera bag to women who have graduated from a point and shoot camera into dSLR photography or a professional photographer looking for a bag she can carry on to the shoot then out on the town.

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