Interview with Jenna – The Freedom of Running

Marathon Marcus

As part of my blog I (MM) believe it’s important to share common and similar experiences. I’d like to introduce you to Jenna (JK) who talks about the positive impact running has in her life.


MM: Why do you run and why do you continue to do it?

JK: I started running when I was little. Ever since I can remember, I tagged along with Dad on his runs. It was our “thing.” Even though I couldn’t quite keep up a lot of the time (especially when I was really young), I never gave up. It was hard at first, and I sometimes didn’t enjoy it. I’d want to stop, and Dad would want to keep going. He was my motivator, and I quickly loved the challenge and routine of running.

Running was and is a way to explore. We would run even while on vacation or in a new…

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Review: Project Pink OOFOS

Disclaimer: I received a pair of OOFOS Women’s OOriginal Project Pink Sandal to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

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What are “OOFOS?”

OOFOS are footwear made for post-run. They aid in recovery and comfort after running/activity by cradling your arches, enabling natural foot motion, and absorbing shock. They are also water-proof (OK for showering), machine washable, and light enough to float!

OOFOS have been considered a “Race day essential” by Women’s Running editor along with many runners I follow on social media. I have seen and heard about these things all over the place, and now I will share my thoughts about my first pair!

The pair I received are a part of the “Project Pink,” where for each pair purchased, $10 will goes to breast cancer research. You can view the Project Pink OOFOS here.

The price range for OOFOS ranges from $44.95 to $59.95. The Women’s OOriginal Project Pink Sandal (the pair I received) retails on their website for $44.95. Note that the shoe claims to hold its cushion its entire life, so it is a lifetime investment so long as you don’t lose them or the dog doesn’t get a hold of them! They are sold online as well as in some running specialty stores and other retailers (found here).

For size reference, I have a bit of an odd foot – long and skinny… stick-like, really. I wear a size 10-11 street shoe and slide around in all of them. Unfortunately for me, the longer the shoe, the wider it gets. I wear a size 12 Narrow/2A in running shoes (my foot technically measures a “4A”).  So, I ordered these in a 10 in hopes that they wouldn’t be quite as wide as a 12, and since they’re sandals, I can get away with the shorter length.

I was right! I got them in the mail and was really glad I got a 10. If I would’ve gotten a 12 (my running shoe size) they would’ve been way too large. The 10’s have plenty of room to spare but fit fine. They could definitely fit a much wider foot than mine as well.

Based on the fact that the website says to size up one size from your normal shoe size for women and down a size for men, I’d personally go at your own discretion. In my case I got my normal casual shoe size and probably could’ve even sized down. Whatever sandal size you normally wear is probably fine. They are available in stores, so you could always try them on first. Even if you order online, they have a 30-day return/exchange policy, so rest assured!

So, how do I like them?

I love them! I have been wearing them after all my runs around the house. I have been running after work lately, so I wear them around while cooking when I was normally walking around barefoot. They provide support and are super cushy and just feel like pure heaven no my feet after running. I like the fact that I know if/when I get them all dirty, they are machine washable and will forever hold their “cushyness.” They are fully waterproof so I could see these being great for treadmill runners taking a post-run shower at the gym or even slipping them on after a swim.

All in all, I think they are worth the cost since they are comfortable, practical, and will last a lifetime.

Do you own a pair of OOFOS? Which style? How do you like them?

Hot Chocolate 15K Dallas Race Recap

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Hot Chocolate 15K Dallas as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!


Who wouldn’t want to run for chocolate?

This run interested me because: 1. Chocolate 2. I’d heard great things and 3. It’s in Dallas

I personally had a lot going on right before this race – recovering from my marathon, surgery (tonsillectomy), life… so my training wasn’t 100% consistent. I knew I could manage, though, because I know I can handle that distance. For reference, 15K is 9.3 miles. I just wasn’t sure I could go all-out, speed wise.

Though I knew I had my tonsillectomy 3 weeks before the race, I followed the training plan as best as I could. Which, by the way – I LOVE that they email you this training plan, then even send you weekly updates with that particular week’s training along with tips and tricks. Here’s a sample of the Hot Chocolate training plan:

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So, race day comes and I feel pretty prepared – though I missed some training due to surgery, I was feeling confident since I had followed the plan up until then.

I go to the Expo, which was in Fair Park, and am pleasantly surprised. There are a nice amount of booths and lots of Hot Chocolate gear available for purchase. There weren’t any lines when I went (I went on the Thursday before the race)… so I just whizzed through the bib-pick up and goodie-bag pick up. The registration came with a Hot Chocolate hoodie, which was pretty awesome. They were super snuggly.

Saturday morning comes, and it’s race day! The recommended arrival time for both the 5K and 15K runners was 6:00am. I got there about 6:20am. Parking was a breeze – a little waiting in line, but we were directed to parking lots and it was easy. I arrived with plenty of time to spare. Since it was FREEZING outside (especially for this wimpy Texan who doesn’t do well in the cold).

I hung out in my car until about 7:00am (start time for the 15K was 8:30am). I didn’t know how long I’d last out in the cold just waiting around. While waiting in my car, I realize all the things I forgot to bring. Gloves, a belt to hold my phone, tissues, my little wrist band to hold my car key, a snack… Yeah, I need to get better at the whole “race day preparation” thing. I usually just worry about getting my body there and I’m good.It was OK, though – I had my sweat shirt to wear before the race started and planned to gear-check it and just wear a long sleeve since I’d warm up while running. I just shoved my car key in my sock and it all worked out!

Turned out there was a huge indoor area to wait in (yay!) where the gear check was. That was a life saver. There were lots of 15K runners in there stretching, eating their snacks (all of which I was majorly eyeing), and hanging with run buddies. I stayed there until 8:00, then headed to my Corral.

The start line and corrals were easy to find and labeled by letter. Apparently when registering I must have entered that my predicted pace was an 11-minute mile… so I ended up not starting with my pace group (I was aiming for a sub 8-minute mile), which somehow usually happens to me. No one to blame here but myself for that one (spaz). It was OK, though, because we started in waves, so I wasn’t bottle-necked in. I was weaving in and out of people the entire race, but again… that usually happens and I wasn’t very bothered by it.

Ok, here we go… I’m at the top of the start line waiting for the horn! I’m ready to get running and warm up! And we’re off…!

The course was nice and open the whole way, so plenty of room. It was mostly on the street. I liked the openness of it, especially since I was maneuvering my way through people. It was hilly! More than I expected. The whole course was a constant up and down-hill, with one extremely vertical incline up and down the Trinity bridge around mile 8 (ouch) that gave us all a run for our money. Despite always training on flat road, I did surprisingly well with the hills. I’m especially great at rolling down hill 🙂 (thanks, long legs!). And I even plowed through that hill at the bridge like a champ. Not to toot my own horn, but I was flying by people at that point and was proud of myself for it.

After that major hill over the bridge, it all seemed down-hill from there (literally and figuratively). Next thing you know, I’m giving it my all and the finish line is in sight! I could see all the people cheering… the announcer says my name which I can just barely hear over my loud music blasting through my headphones. This is it! I wasn’t sure what my finishing time would be. For the last mile, I was just going as fast as I could without burning out, not looking at my watch. I knew that the whole time I had maintained a pace in between 7:30 and 8:30 – mostly somewhere in the 7:50’s, but I wasn’t sure if I’d be an overall average of sub-8:00/mile or not. I knew it would be close because of those few times I was going 8:30 uphill.

I roll through the finish, legs feeling pretty good. I stop my watch and see “DIST.: 9.39 PACE: 7:58.” I’m elated at this point. I feel like an Olympic champion.

I didn’t even know if I would be able to run this race at all considering my surgery was just 3 weeks prior. I was extremely proud and really impressed with myself for the strength and determination that I dug deep for in order to achieve my goal. I would’ve been really happy with any pace/time for this race given the circumstances, but the fact that I felt really strong throughout the run AND hit my goal… this was a huge victory for me.

I walk over to get my medal, and the really nice volunteer enthusiastically congratulated me (I feel even more like an Olympic champion now!) and I make my way to get my Finisher’s Mug. What we’ve all been waiting for… the CHOCOLATE! The mug had hot Cocoa, a pool of dipping chocolate, and lots of things to dip – a banana, pretzels, marshmallows, crackers… I knew I needed to get started on eating my chocolate ASAP. I made my way back to gear-check (indoor area – anything to keep warm) and sat down and enjoyed my treat.

This was a happy moment. Chocolate + Victory. What more could I ask for.

Overall, this was an amazing run – extremely well organized, great people and volunteers, great support, and I proved something to myself. I can do what I set my mind to. No matter what.

For details about the race itself, feel free to read my review on BibRave.com! Remember to help out fellow runners looking for the perfect race by reviewing your races!

BibRave review: http://www.bibrave.com/races/hot-chocolate-dallas/6835

Review: RunnerBox

Disclaimer: I received a RunnerBox to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

RunnerBox! How could I NOT try this out? I think I can safely say that I have an obsession with trying out running products. How else can you find out what works best for you than to try it all, right?

Anyway, RunnerBox is right up my ally – a subscription service (who doesn’t love a surprise at their doorstep?) that’s full of RUNNING STUFF!

What is RunnerBox? Straight from their website,

The RunnerBox is a subscription based box full of products and discounts which have been hand-picked to enhance your active lifestyle. The Runnerbox has everything from gels, chews, protein shakes/supplements, nutrition bars, energy boosters, healthy snacks, personal care, and other running accessories! Many products will be brand new to the market while others will be tried and true favorites. With so many new products claiming to be the next best thing – leave the trials and testing to us – we’ll search out the finest and send them right to your doorstep!

So, how does RunnerBox work?

  • It is a subscription service
  • Bi-monthly (one box delivered to you every other month)
  • $20 every 2 months until you cancel
  • CycleBox, TriBox, Birthday Boxes, Gifts, Gift Cards, and Custom Boxes also available

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My first thought is that this is not only a great service for myself, but this would be a GREAT gift idea! If you have a runner in your life and have no idea what to get them, this is thoughtful. And as a runner myself, I would love if someone gifted this to me!

So, needless to say, I was extremely excited to see what was in my RunnerBox (who doesn’t love surprises!) here’s for my review and unboxing of my RunnerBox!


So, what was inside?

  • 2 HotShots – prevents and treats muscle cramps
  • 1 RUNA Clean Energy Drink
  • 1 box Banza Chickpea Pasta Mac and Cheese
  • 1 packet (sample size) bioZzz – instant Alpha-lactalbumin supplement
  • 1 packet (sample size) biPro – Whey protein isolate supplement
  • 1 pair Louva Shorties – finger-less gloves
  • 1 OATMEGA chocolate mint crisp – protein bar
  • 1 sample size HYPERCE Hypersoothe – essential oil soothing cream
  • 1 R.e.d.d. Chocolate Superfood Energy Bar
  • 1 packet Zest Tea – Cinnamon Apple – “as much caffeine as coffee”
  • 1 Chosen Foods Mango Bites with Chia – nuts + chia + mango in every bite!
  • 3 coupons for items included in box

Wow! I am thoroughly impressed, first of all, at how they fit ALL of that in to a small, mailbox-sized box! I just kept pulling things out like it was a Mary Poppins bag.

The snacks have been delicious, with one of my favorites being the Mango bites with Chia. I LOVE anything with Chia seeds. I have yet to try the energy drink and tea, only because per the Dr’s orders I am avoiding caffeine for a while (hypertension runs in the family…). But other than that, I am happy with the amount of products as well as the variety.

RunnerBox researches the best quality products out there and sends samples based on what works, which makes me feel like I get to try the best of the best.

So, is it worth it?

In my opinion, yes! It’s $20 bi-monthly, so basically $10 a month. I definitely think that this little box full of goodies is worth that. To put things in perspective, those “HotShots” alone would be about $6, and the Louva Shorties go for $10 – so that’s a $16 value in just 2 items alone out of 11. Not only are the products themselves worth it, but the time and research that goes into it is totally worth it. It’s like having a stylist, but for running-related items!

Have you ever tried RunnerBox? What do you think?

 

 

 

Running Hurdles

Hurdles. Not like the fun kind of hurdles… the kind you jump over. But the kind that you overcome… life hurdles.

I have some big goals for 2017 – to run 1,600 miles for the year, 1-2 full marathons, 2-4 half marathons, eat clean, plank more, buy ALL the running shoes… the works.


So, what is my hurdle? Nothing major. But enough to make me feel like I’m not quite starting 2017 off with a “bang.”

In one day – Thursday, January 12th – I will be having a tonsillectomy (my tonsils removed).

Again, nothing major. But it is surgery. Kids recover from this surgery in days! Adults, on the other hand, take a few weeks.

I know a few weeks isn’t much, and I’ve been telling myself things like, my body probably needs the break and I’ll come back stronger. But, even still, especially now while everyone is all revved up to chase after their goals and work hard at the start of a new year, it’s a bit of a bummer.

All in all, I am happy! I’m happy I’m getting it done (I’ve needed this procedure for a long time), and know I will feel better afterwards… well… 2-3 weeks afterwards. I will be running again in no time and it’s a fool-proof surgery. Recovery time seems like a long time now, but I’ll come back even more determined to rack up the miles and crush my goals!

Anyway, I thought I’d share in case it seems like I’m on a bit of a hiatus. Though, in reality, all I will probably have energy for will be phone scrolling (social media) while recovering, so I won’t be far! And 2-3 weeks off of running could be worse. Way worse.

My point in sharing this is to not only share my personal story and current life hurdle, but remind you that “hurdles” are a part of life.

Sometimes things don’t always go as planned, but it will work out in the end. Just do what you can. Try your hardest. Be true to yourself. That’s all we can do. You will make it over that hurdle. Whether it takes a day, or 18 years. Each step is progress and worth celebrating.

Thank you all for your continuous support and I will see you and be back to pounding pavement VERY SOON!

Gift Ideas for Runners!

The holidays are (rapidly) approaching… so I thought I’d share a few of my favorite things in case you need inspiration for gifts for a runner in your life, or just gifts for yourself. Let’s face it, runners are getting themselves “gifts” year-round… we need it!

  1. Clif Bloks – energy chews! These are a new favorite. I found them on sale and thought I’d give them a shot. Turns out they are delicious and are easy to carry around. The Bloks come in a pack of 6 and are extremely portable. They could fit in a pocket, belt, or even just toss them in your pants and you’d barely notice they’re there… I got Tropical Punch and really enjoy that flavor (good thing, since I got a case of them…) Just as an “FYI,” some flavors contain more caffeine than others, and some flavors have no caffeine.
  2. Garmin Forerunner 35 – my favorite watch! This is a fairly new Garmin model. You’re going to think I’m crazy – but I went from the Fenix 3 Sapphire to this and am more than happy! Don’t get me wrong, the Fenix is a beautiful watch. But it was just like living in a mansion by myself. It had more features than I ever bothered with. The Forerunner 35 is extremely simple. It’s user friendly (no instructions needed) and does the basics. It also is especially affordable considering it has a built-in wrist HR monitor (which my Fenix did not have while costing 4x as much). I also love how lightweight and sleek it is. I wear it 24-7. This watch does NOT track swimming, though – if that’s important to you.
  3. X31 Sports Running Skirt. I never wear skirts, never wore skirts, and never planned on wearing skirts. I got this in the mail and was taken by surprise. The material is great. The waist band is great. I now find myself wearing it around the house all the time. I can’t wait for it to warm up a bit so I can try running with it. Definitely something fun and different to try if you’re a shorts-gal like me.
  4. Nike Sphere Element Quarter Zip Pullover. Now, I don’t get to wear this running much, living in Texas where winter is a week of 40-degree weather, BUT I have been loving this. As soon as I put it on, I thought, EVERY RUNNER MUST HAVE THIS. If you can find one on sale (the original price of $85 a pop is a bit steep in my opinion), then I’d recommend scooping it up. It has little fuzzy balls lining the inside that will make you never want to take it off. Oh, plus I just love this light/faded purpley color I found it in.
  5. Oiselle Lux Verrazano Bra – HOLY LUX! If you own ONE thing from Oiselle, it shou;d be this bra. It’s like wearing nothing! I don’t know what else to say other than this is, hands down, my absolute favorite bra. For everything. Running, yoga, being alive…
  6. Aftershokz Trekz Titanium Headphones. These are a MUST HAVE for runners, bikers, and anyone that does anything outdoors. They aren’t your typical headphones – they are wireless and they are safe! How? Well, I don’t know all the science of how it works, but they allow you to hear your music AND ambient sounds. They sit on top of your ear. I thought this would effect the sound quality (I like my music loud), but it doesn’t! Listen to your music and stay safe while still hearing cars zooming by or your neighbor shouting at you. If I had to pick only one must-have, this would be it.
  7.  UV Buff. I was only introduced to these this year, and wow. These things are amazing. It’s basically a long tube of cloth, but does oh, so many things! They can be worn in so many ways and are great for keeping warm or protecting yourself from the sun. They also come in lots of colors and patters and are even great for dogs! Don’t forget about the furry runner in your life!
  8. Athletic Greens Superfood Cocktail. I try to eat healthy, and for the most part I do. But, you know… life, time, and other things happen. I like to take a greens supplement every morning just to make sure I’m getting my greens (super important) and to have the ritual of doing something healthy and good for myself first thing in the morning. This is just my ritual and I do feel like it helps with my energy. Athletic Greens is a little on the pricey side, but is like an “all in one” supplement (it even has probiotics!), plus is the only greens I can drink without wanting to vomit everywhere because of the taste.
  9. Brooks Launch 3. This shoe would be even better if it came in narrow widths, but until then I just lace them up tight. I have been on a never-ending search for shoes that work and have finally come across the Brooks Launch as well as the Brooks Adrenaline, which are now my two go-to shoes. The Launch are light-weight “fast” shoes, whereas the Adrenaline are a bit sturdier with more support which is great for longer runs. I’m happy to have found these shoes.
  10. Feetures Merino Wool Cushion socks. I love Feetures! I have many types, but these are my favorite. I had heard that wool was a magic ingredient when it came to socks and it seems to be true. I love these and the fact that they are cushioned yet not bulky. I like the cushioning because I have narrow feet, and do anything to help the shoes fit… but sometimes the cushioning can be too much and make my foot feel suffocated. Not with these!
  11. 2XU Compression Socks. I’ve tried many, many compression socks. These quickly became my absolute favorite. Well, as soon as I tried my first pair. They are SOFT. I never even noticed how un-soft (it’s a word!) other compression socks were until putting these on. They aren’t a pain to take on and off and are just a buttery soft dream. I love them. Oh, and specifically these “Hypotik” ones shown, because of the reflective pieces on the front AND back!
  12. Ultimate Direction AMP Handheld. This handheld water bottle is THE ONLY handheld I will use any more. I think it’s one of those things you either absolutely love or absolutely can’t stand. It’s a soft water bottle (I showed you what just the water bottle looks like next to it). So, as it empties, it deflates… like a bladder. It’s a cloth-y material and straps on to your hand. For me, it’s easy to grip, sip, fill, wash and is just perfection. Trying to grip one of the solid bottles now is just a pain. Plus it has pockets!

Well, I hope this gave you some inspiration and I am glad I could share a few of my favorites with you! What are some of your favorites?

Giving Thanks!

As you may know, I finished my first marathon one week ago. I ran 26.2 miles.

Before training, the longest run I had ever run was maybe 8 miles. And that was LONG.

I had always been a sprinter – the 400 and 800m dash were my races. Even so, I have always loved running. Ever since I started tagging along on runs with my dad since I was, well, big enough to run, I have always loved everything about it.

The exploration, the challenge, the camaraderie, the sense of accomplishment – everything.

So, I have always run leisurely. two miles here, two miles there… Until a few months ago when a friend of mine messaged me on Facebook. “Hey! Want to do a half marathon with me in Las Vegas?!” Now, how could I turn that down?! So, I went to the website to register and noticed that the FULL marathon was the same price! Plus you got a sweet finisher’s jacket! I thought, well, if I’m going to Vegas, I’m going all in!

So, countless 4:00am alarms, 4 pairs of running shoes, 38 gallons of sweat, 64 gels, and 4 months of training later… here I am! A marathoner!

During this time of thanks, I look back at what kept me going. Running 20-35 miles a week for months was a huge change for me. It wasn’t easy. Don’t get my wrong, 99% of the time I enjoyed every minute of it! And in hindsight, I really did enjoy it 100% of the time. But there was that 1% of the time that it wasn’t easy at the time. There were days I didn’t think I could manage another 6 mile run. There were days I thought why am I doing this? There were days I just wanted to eat donuts, drink beer, and lay on the couch!

But, you know what? I am so, so, incredibly glad that I followed through. You may or may not know this if you’ve kept up with my journey, but I completed EVERY. SINGLE. Training run. Except TWO 3-milers to prevent injury. I never said I’ll just skip today. I never said skipping one run won’t matter. I never said oh well. I just did it.

In saying this, my point is that YOU kept me going. Though I am ultimately self-motivated and I believe that true motivation and desire to succeed comes from within, when my self-motivation was lacking during that 1% of the time, guess who was there. YOU. So many of you have encouraged me, given me tips, tricks, and pointers, shared with me your stories (good and bad!), and overall have just been the most supportive people I’ve ever known.

Like I’ve said, always will say, and will say again: runners are the best type of people.

Thank you for being you, for your support, and for your genuine desire for me to succeed. I want you to know that I care about you all and hope that you feel the same. In this time of thanks, I thank YOU!

Let’s keep the thanks going and share the love! Check out someone I’m thankful for, Emily, and her lessons from her first Turkey Trot! http://azsungoddess.weebly.com/blog-posts/lessons-from-my-first-turkey-trot

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Merino Wool BUFF® Review

Disclaimer: I received a Merino Wool BUFF® to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

So, what even is a “BUFF,” you say?

It’s a long tube of awesome.

Ok, but for real. In a nutshell, a BUFF® headwear item is a long tube that fits over your head and is extremely versatile in that it can be worn as a headband, neck warmer, hood, etc. They come in different fabrics ranging from UV protection, to Merino Wool. I’ll be talking and reviewing specifically the Merino Wool BUFF®.

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The facts, straight from the website:

The classic BUFF® headwear shape, but with a few extra inches of length for cozy protection, it features the natural moisture management and odor control properties outdoor enthusiasts love most. Made from soft 100% natural Merino wool, the Merino Wool BUFF® feels great next to the skin, and it keeps you warm even when it’s wet. It’s the soft, breathable extra layer of insulation you need for chilly days. Plus, BUFF® donates 1% of the proceeds from Merino Wool BUFF® to the planet so you can feel warm and fuzzy on the inside too.

  • 100% natural merino wool
  • 12+ ways to wear
  • Merino Wool’s natural qualities include: water repellent, odor resistant, flameproof, durability, UV protection and natural stretch and elasticity
  • Thermal protection from cold & wind
  • Cool in the summer, extra layer of warmth in the winter
  • Semi-seamless — small, unnoticeable seam on top and bottom of Wool BUFF®
  • Quick drying
  • One size fits all adults

Specs

  • Product Dimensions: (approx.) 26.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Weight: 1.7 ounces
  • *Tie dye styles are 3 inches shorter

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I’d say the product stands up to its claims. I live in Texas, so I haven’t needed it for extremely cold conditions, but it’s been perfect for chilly runs and walks. I even wear it as a hood (over my whole head, neck, and mouth) and it’s great for physical activity, because once you warm up, you can slide it down or convert it into a headband! Really, this is probably the most versatile piece of clothing I own.

The material is great – warm, but not thick or suffocating. It still allows air flow. I’d say the material weight is similar to a thin/non-cushioned running sock (not thick or “fluffy”). I have been wearing mine in the Texas winter and have kept warm without getting hot too quickly. I imagine it would be great for colder conditions as well. I will definitely take it with me if I go anywhere up North (or anywhere at all, really). I imagine it’d be a must have if I lived somewhere like Canada…

A major point about the material is that it’s NOT ITCHY. You really wouldn’t guess it was wool (no weird smell or scratchy texture) and it has stretch to it. I have tried other wool clothing items, even some that had rave reviews about being “buttery smooth” or “not itchy at all!” and as soon as I slipped in on… NOPE. It got sent back. I have pretty sensitive skin, so I was impressed when this did not itch one bit (if it did, I wouldn’t have worn it).

I really can’t think of any negative points I’ve had or have about this product. I think that anyone who spends any time outdoors would get a lot of use out of a Merino Wool BUFF®.

Here is is folded in half. My greyhound, Derby, wants one!

My First Marathon! Rock N Roll Las Vegas!

Where to begin…

For the past 30 weeks, I have been preparing for this one very moment.

It was time. Time to pack my things – decide what to take, what shoes to wear, my RACE DAY OUTFIT. Time to print my boarding pass. This was really happening!

I got on my flight from Dallas to Las Vegas, feeling all sorts of feels. Wondering and hoping I packed matching shoes and my favorite socks. I wasn’t nervous yet and kept wondering if I would be.

We arrived in Las Vegas and go straight to the hotel, Treasure Island. It was 12am Saturday morning by the time we landed in Vegas so it was time to rest up. I slept like a baby and woke up excited to go for a short run and to the expo!

I geared up and went for a short 3-miler just outside the hotel. It was amazing. There were people everywhere and so many things to look at. Without realizing it at the time, I didn’t even turn my music on. I was just soaking up the sounds and the sights. My run felt good. I ended with a few strides and headed back to the hotel to get ready for the expo!

THE EXPO! It was amazing! It blew me away. Not only was this my first marathon, it was my first HUGE race (47,000+ runners). So, this wasn’t just a packet pickup at the local run store, this was an event! Of course, you walk in and want to buy everything. I got away with just a T-shirt for my dad and a long sleeve for myself, and lots of freebies. EVERYTHING and EVERYONE was there, from Garmin to SPIBelt to Altra running… and everything in between. We spent all day there. I was on my feet a bit more than I would’ve liked, but it happened.

We then walked to an Italian place nearby called Carmines and ordered a pound of spaghetti, broccoli, chicken, and $30 worth of meatballs. Perfection.


That night I slept GREAT. AGAIN! I remembered a lot of people who mentioned not sleeping well because of nerves… I did not have this problem! I slept a full 10 hours that night, woke up and took TWO naps before the race (it was a nighttime run). I did wake up every once in a while and chug water.

Anyway, the start time was 4:30pm, so we got dressed and ready to take the monorail down to the start line by 2pm. I still wasn’t nervous. I was mostly a little worried because I WASN’T nervous. I thought maybe I should be… I think I honestly just trusted my training and wasn’t worried about it! I knew I could do it.

So, there we were – loading off of the monorail to walk to wards the start line. I see the crowd of runners and get really excited. We make our way to Snoop Dogg (the headliner!) and I was just amazed. The crowd was unbelievable. This was 1000x bigger than any race I have ever done! Just breathtaking.

For some reason, my bib said I was in Corral 1 (at the very top of the Start line) and that my predicted time was 3:00. I made my way up to corral 1, and decided to stop at corral 4, where I saw my ACTUAL pace group (a little over 4 hr pace group). I thought if I started with the speed demons I’d probably get excited, start too fast and burn out. I’m glad I made that decision.

Then there was the countdown… 3… 2… 1…! We were off! My legs felt great! The crowd thinned out fairly quickly (we weren’t shoulder to shoulder), which was great.

About not even a half mile in, BAM! The lady next to me face plants! She was weaving in and out of people and there was gravel off the road. Poor thing. Someone immediately helped her, which I was thankful for. I definitely would have helped, but I had worked so hard for this… it honestly would’ve been a bummer to have to stop (sorry if that makes me a jerk). It did stir me up, though. The adrenaline was already flowing and that really startled me. I collected myself and kept going. Hoping I didn’t face plant.

The first few miles were simply amazing. I just couldn’t even look at everything! There was so much going on – lights, music, crowds, cheering… it was a party! The first 10 miles flew by. About half way in (I remember it was almost exactly two hours in), my phone died. This was quite sad as that was my music source. I wasn’t even taking photos with it (I used the GoPro) and I had it on airplane mode, so I don’t know why it happened but it just plain sucked. I had worked on that playlist for the past, well, 30 weeks! I had my songs I wanted to listen to at the finish! Oh well, I decided it would be nice to just soak in the ambient sounds. I survived.

At about mile 18 I felt some pain. A lot of pain. For some reason the top of my right foot had a bruise on top of it prior to running and it was just in agony every step. I kept wondering if there was anything at all I could do to alleviate the pain. I just kept reminding myself that it was just a bruise. Even so, I was surprised at how much it affected my running. I was running weird to try to alleviate the pain. It went away for a few miles, then came back. It was just something I dealt with.

Miles 20-24 seemed like eternity. I’m not going to sugar-coat it. I was in PAIN. My hips hurt, by feet hurt, the top of my one foot hurt. I thought I was going to have a bathroom accident at LEAST 5 times. My stomach was not happy. I don’t even think it was something I ate or the gels (which I was already used to), it was just the physical exertion. I held my stomach at one point. Luckily, it would just come and go. I was fine the majority of the time and at the finish.

Speaking of finish, the last two miles were amazing. PAINFUL, yet unforgettable. I KNEW I was going to make it at this point. With two miles to go… it was for sure, 100% happening. Whether I had to crawl or roll myself there, it was happening. The 25th mile seemed like forever, but that last mile.2 flew by. I thought I had absolutely nothing left to give, yet I pulled it out of me and went for it. I sped up to what I felt and thought was a sprint (though I’m sure it was far from it), and didn’t stop until I crossed that line.

There is no way to express in words that feeling. Crossing the finish line… I was breathless – not from the running – but from the sudden emotion. I think I was crying, but no tears were coming out because I didn’t have the energy to produce them. I was in (dry) tears of joy, pain, amazement, and disbelief. It happened. I ran a marathon.

I slowly made my way to collect my medal and my (super sweet) marathoner’s jacket. My two friends who ran the Half were there to give me hugs. (They also did amazing on their runs!) I was thankful they were there. It was amazing to see a familiar face as an official marathoner and after being in such pain for the past hour. I had just done something only 1% of people do. I just learned a lot about myself. I questioned all of my life choices (like wanting to run a marathon), and I learned that what you CAN do is simply what you are WILLING to do. I can, and will, accomplish my goals. I can do anything.

 


Huge, huge, HUGE thank you to my coach, Andrew Simmons, for providing me with the confidence I had during this amazing race weekend… and for YOU. You all have been SO, so encouraging and supportive. It just blows me away and I genuinely cannot thank you enough. Like I’ve said and always will say, runners are the best! Runners encourage, support, and motivate like no other.

I can’t wait to go for my NEXT goal with you guys and share that experience with you!

And if you’re wondering, YES I WILL definitely be doing another marathon in the future!

This is just the beginning!

Week 29: Marathon Training

Wow! We leave THIS FRIDAY for the RnR Las Vegas marathon! I can not believe it! Needless to say, I am EXTREMELY excited! I have already told myself that I am committing to at least one run-cation a year after this (this will be my first out-of-town run!)

I think I’ve pretty much figured out everything I need for race day – I’m not 100% sure how I’ll be carrying my phone and gels but I have a few different belts to choose from. A friend tipped me off to a little trick to go to Good Will and get a jacket to wear before the race that I can just toss when I get warmed up. (Las Vegas is in the desert, so it can get really hot AND really cold).

Other than that – flight and hotel are set, I just need to remember to pack everything and figure out what I’m wearing! Oh, and not hurt myself in the next 6 days! I’m really confident going into it and just plan to enjoy the experience.

So, I’m currently in my last week of training (tapering!), but let’s see how last week went.

[ week 29 / ONE WEEK until 26.2! ]

Sunday – Long run, 14 miles, 2:12:00, 9:26 min/mile.

So, two week out from marathon day, this was a “short” long run. I went into this mentally thinking of it as a pretty “short” run (compared to 20 miles it is!), and I noticed that this affected my running. In a good way. I was more relaxed and just enjoyed. Oh, and played with my GoPro (yay new toys!).

I was reminded of the saying “it doesn’t get easier, you just get stronger” today, because never did I think that 14 miles would sound “easy” to me. You’d be surprised what you’re body can handle once you get used to something!


Monday – No run. Strength training.

I was “off” today, so I did some strength training at the gym – squats, dead lifts, curls, and a leg presses. Nothing too intense, but enough to feel a little sore afterwards!

Tuesday – Easy 3 miles, 28:00, 9:20 min/mile.

Legs felt GREAT today! Easy run, excitement kicking in that the race is next week!


Wednesday – Easy 5 miles + strides, 44:24, 8:50 min/mile.

I was really tired today, but I still got out there and once I did and finished my run, I felt better as usual. Run felt nice again today.

Thursday – Easy 5 miles, 44:40, 8:55 min/mile.

I was really tired again today, but I got my 5 miles in. 2.5 miles easy, 2.5 miles “tempo” – tempo was noted at 9min/mile, so nothing too fast. My legs felt really great, so I was at around 9 minutes the whole run.


Friday – 4 easy miles, 36:44, 9:11 min/mile. + 45 min bike.

Cause what do you do when you’re tired? Set a 4:30 alarm and get a spin class in! I got my cross-training in early, then did a quick 4 miles a few hours later and was ready for tomorrow’s rest day!

Saturday – Rest day!

Miles for the week – 31

I had an overall great week and feel confident and prepared going into my last week of training and ultimately running 26.2 miles – this coming SUNDAY!

I truly cannot thank my coach enough, Coach Andrew Simmons with Lifelong Endurance.

He is truly the reason for my confidence going into this. His workout plans, week after week, pushed me to dig deep and do what it takes to prepare my body to take on the miles. Feel free to contact him with coaching questions. Trust me, the best thing you can do for yourself is invest in yourself. It’s a wonderful experience.

Have an amazing week!

What do you use to carry your phone and gels on long runs?

What do you use to replenish electrolytes on long runs?