Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Try It Tuesday: OrangeMud Hydraquiver VP1

Disclaimer: I received an Orange Mud Hydraquiver VP1 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!

I fell in love with the idea of the Orange Mud HydraQuiver Vest Packs long before I had one.  I watched other runners with them and, thought they look just a little odd at first, the more I heard the more I knew I needed one.  Just like the founder of Orange Mud, I went through a lot of different water carrying options and none seemed to work for me.  My shoulders are already bad, so handhelds for more than a couple miles were out of the question.  The belts I tried bounced and rode up and I spent more time walking and fidgeting trying to get them right than I spent actually running....which to me pretty much defeats the purpose.  I got an off brand backpack bladder style system that I liked, but I didn't like not being able to see how much water I had left.  Having run out of water on a run a couple times before I get very nervous about it, especially when the Florida heat index seems to climb unbelievably high.  The nail in that coffin was the fact that I am not always a responsible adult and sometimes forgot to empty out the water bladder in a timely fashion which can be pretty much impossible to clean.

So, while I had fallen in love with the idea of the HydraQuiver, I was nervous that using it wouldn't be as magical as I hoped and that I would be back to square one.  I have never ever been more happy to be wrong!

I tested out the VestPack1.  There is also a VestPack2, a Hydraquiver, and a Hydraquiver Double Barrel.
The VestPack options have an additional strap in the front and two additional pockets on the front. I loved the added pockets for all my goodies and the strap fit me well.  They do recommend that women with larger busts might be more comfortable in the Hydraquiver series as they strap may not fit as well.  I certainly didn't notice an issues!

I love when shopping is made easy and it's a one size actually does fit pretty much all kind of deal.  The Hydradquiver VP1 fit me, fit Charlie, and fit Hank (sorta).

What It Holds
Obviously the amount of water you carry depends on whether you choose the single or double barrel model.  I am already saving up to get the double barrel version for the next time I take on ultra training, but for most purposes the single bottle is more than sufficient.  I just used it for a 7 mile trail run with a friend.  It was 80 degrees, humid and we were both drinking from the one bottle and it lasted us until the end of the run.  Being able to see how much water you are drinking and how much you have left does also help you to plan ahead and ration your water!  
The pockets are also phenomenal.  For that 7 mile run I was carrying two phones, two sets of car keys, two granola bars, almonds, tissues, and four pack of fruit snacks with plenty of room to spare.
As I make the transition to eating more "real" food while running (rather than GUs and such), the pockets have been indispensable.

OK now for the kicker.  Everything can seem just right with a system until you actually put it all on and try to run with it.  Things can fall apart pretty quickly from that point.  Is it hot? Does it bounce? Can I reach my water? Is it heavy and awkward? Does it chafe? The list goes on and on.  After the first mile in this pack I was ecstatic and just got more pleased from there. It doesn't bounce, chafe, heat up your whole back, weigh you down or leak all over.  And I was able to reach the bottle and put it back on the first try.  I intentionally did my first test of the taking the bottle out and replacing it maneuver when nobody was around but I was shocked that I never fumbled around for it and was able to grab it and put it back on the first try! And if you have met me you know coordination is not high on my list of skills.  
The fact that the pack sits up high between your shoulder blades also means that it doesn't throw of your balance or make you feel like you are carrying a lot of weight.  I love taking it out on trails because I know it isn't going to get in my way.

During my 50k it also kept my hands free for other things....like eating at aid stations ;)
As far as fit is concerned, if you want something that you can adjust once and pretty much forget you are carrying, this is the pack for you!

To start with, the Orange Mud packs are made in California, USA.  Any business that keeps their production local is a winner in my book!  The creator of the pack is also a runner so they are made to hold up to the things runners do.  All of the parts of my pack have performed beautifully so far and I have not had any issues with the construction of the pack.  It is, however, reassuring that Orange Mud stands behind their products and will work with you to replace or repair anything that goes wrong!  Be sure to check out their "About Us" page to see more about how the packs are made and their guarantee!

I absolutely 100% recommend the Hydraquiver VP1!  I am madly in love with mine and can't believe how much simpler it makes carrying water and fuel on my runs!

Have questions I didn't answer? Let me know!
Want to try one for yourself? Use the code 'BIBRAVE' to save 15%!

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Last Monday of 2015

It's the very last Monday of 2015!  I am not sure I entirely believe the calendar and I really don't know where the year went, but I am so excited for all the things that 2016 is sure to bring!

I have so many goals for the new year that I am excited to share with you...and I hope you will share in my journey towards achieving the goals I set! More than anything I want this to be the year that I slow down and enjoy life and the things I do each day rather than getting caught up in the hustle of all the things I "have" to do.  But I am getting way ahead of myself!  I will be sharing all my resolutions soon enough!

Today was a good day.  It started with yoga then coffee and is now wrapping up with tea and cookies while blogging.

Sure there was work somewhere in the middle, but I always feel better when I start my day with some kind of physical activity.  To be fair, I actually wanted to go running when I got up this morning, but I just didn't have the willpower to go out in the heat.  I know winter is finally hitting other places, but it's still in the 80s here and I just couldn't get up the guts to go run in that today. Tomorrow is another chance to try again.

Yoga, however, can be done in the comforts of my air-conditioned home.  I actually started off with the sliding door open and the A/C off, but the living room quickly turned into my very own hot yoga studio which wasn't quite what I was going for today.  Yoga hasn't been part of my routine lately (aka I have totally slacked on any variety of cross training) and I could feel the effects this morning. Time to get serious and get my upper body back in shape and my whole body bendy again!

Overall, it was a pretty good Moday...but I am quite happy to be done with Mondays until next year ;)

How was your day?!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Two Days Till Christmas!

I am as excited as the next person about the fact that Christmas is this week....but how is it THIS week?!

This is my first Christmas in Florida and the nearly constant 80+ degree weather is throwing me off a bit.  We got two whole cold days then it was back to sweating all the time.  Between that and working all the time it is a little difficult to get in the holiday mood and to get your house and fridge ready as well!

This will also be my second Christmas away from home...but the first where I actually have a person to cook for besides myself.  And I have no earthly idea what to make for dinner!!!  A ham, some potatoes and that is about as far as I have gotten. I think an emergency trip to Costco after work today might be in order!  I am lazy and a Costco pie sounds like a winner to me!

If you have some inspiration for me, let me know! What makes Christmas dinner complete?!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Masters of All Terrain 50k Recap

Holy cow yall, I am finally committing to sitting down and typing this all up.  I have stared at the computer screen for so long trying to come up with just the right words to tell you about this crazy awesome 50k experience but I am finally accepting that perfect is not a real thing and that it will just have to be one big gushing post.  They always say to write like you talk right?!  Well that I can do ;)

If you happen to prefer the more technical details of the race, be sure to check out my review on Bibrave.  This will cover the more personal aspects of the journey and go into waaayyyyy more detail about my precise feelings regarding sugar sand!

To start with, I should probably tell you that my training was absolutely awful for this race and I simply did not put in the mileage I meant to.  Between working way more than anticipated and the weather sticking around 85 for pretty much forever, I just was not running like I knew I should be.  That said I was pretty much terrified going into this race and almost emailed asking to drop back to a marathon or even the half.  About two days before the race I finally gave myself a stern talking to and convinced myself that I had been looking forward to this too much to drop out now and that, as long as I took it slow and steady, I would be able to get through just fine.  I had heard horror stories about the terrain the previous year so I wasn't planning on going all that fast anyways!

Race morning came around not so bright but very very early.  Charlie was going with me and volunteering so we needed to be there by 5 a.m.  Factor in the hour drive to get there, and you know we were out the door way before the sun even thought about coming up!

When we got there I was able to sign my waiver (because it's really only my own fault if I fall in a swamp or die of heat stroke) and grab my number, tracking chip, and super amazing soft as all get out shirt quickly.  Most of the runners weren't starting until 7 a.m. so there wasn't really a rush at 5.  Oh and remember how I said the shirts were awesome and soft? Well get this; the race staff also print them all! They have been able to make the whole shinding an in-house operation. I mean I don't think they make the gummy bears or grow the oranges at the aid stations, but all the shirts/medals/mile markers etc. are made by them.  I love it!

While Charlie was off getting situated as a volunteer, I spent a lot of time in my car drinking my coffee trying to stay warm.  I am adapting to Florida quickly and anything in the 60s is pretty much my version of freezing at this point I think.  Once the sun started to come up just a little bit I set up my tent to be my pit stop.  The course worked out that you went through the start/finish area twice before the actual finish.  I don't really like running loops, but later I was very grateful for this approach.  I wish I would have gotten a picture of my tent because I was so obsessed with getting everything laid out just right so I could get to whatever I needed quickly.  I was so busy overthinking the whole thing I forgot to get a picture of my awesome organizing skills.

I did have a minor panic attack on race morning because I realized I had forgotten my Orange Mud water bottle at home in the fridge.  I was relying heavily on carrying water with me because I knew, despite the chilly start, it would be very very warm later in the day.  I had not intentions of getting my first DNF due to dehydration. Luckily I had brought a bottle of MiniTOR to drink before I ran and the bottle fit perfectly in the Orange Mud vest.  It didn't hold as much water as the other bottle would have, but I was very glad to be able to carry any water at all!

Finally it was time for the race to start and I was honestly still not sure why I had ever thought this was a good idea.  The 50k started out with the 5 miler, half marathon, and full marathon until the 5 mile loop split off after about a mile.  All the races were relatively small so it was never packed, but the first loop was certainly far more populated than the later laps were!  Despite all the preparing I tried to do, I never thoroughly scoped out the course.  Therefore it came as a bit of a surprise to me that we were actually running primarily through fields and around swamps and ponds rather than through the woods.  It was nice for the first stretch but I knew right away that it was going to get pretty brutal later in the day when the sun was up because there were no trees to provide shade for a majority of the course.  As the race went on I was more and more glad that the race was loops of the same course so I knew what to expect.  It was nice later in the day to know exactly where to expect the water stops and how far I needed to go to get to a shaded part of the trail.  When we were running the first loop I realized that there were about 4 miles between the first and second water stop which was key to know later when I was thirsty but knew to ration my water during that stretch so I didn't drink the last sip until I knew I could make it to the next aid station.

The biggest downside to knowing that the weather and course were going to make things rough later in the day was having to constantly fight the urge to go faster and bank some time and get further before the hottest part of the day.  While I probably could have gone a little bit faster than I did for the first few miles, I knew i had not trained well enough to really gun it and see how far I could get before the sun came up.

Of course all thoughts of speeding up and banking time were long gone dreams by the time I got to the sugar sand.  Right around mile ten there was an aid station and they warned us that the next stretch was the sand.  I am still not sure whether it was better or worse knowing what was coming! Of course nothing really prepares you for a two mile stretch of fluffy loose sand.  I tried to run briefly but that just burnt way more energy than it was worth.  My first trip through the sand was brightened significantly by a new friend! I met another lady who was running the half and it was so fantastic to have someone to chat with as we trudged though the hardest part of the race. After the sand there was just over a mile left to the finish line, so we ended up sticking together until she finished and I split off to my tent.  I don't think I have ever been so grateful to make a new friend and I could not have asked for a better person to have covered those mile with!

Remember how I set up all my goodies in the tent before I set off? Well I forgot to mention a couple things.  The first was that I had the coolest tent city neighbors ever! They were so awesome and cheered me on like they had known me forever....not just for the hour or so I spent quietly in my tent before the race! I found out later they even questioned Charlie when he was getting into the tent after volunteering since he hadn't been there when I set up! The second thing I forgot to mention was that I did the single smartest thing of my life and packed an extra pair of shoes and two extra pairs of socks so I had a fresh pair to change into every time I came through the staging staging area.  The first loop was the only time my feet got wet thanks to the dew still on the grass, but being able to get all (ok most) of the sand off of my feet was such an incredible feeling.  I am going to spoil the ending and tell you now that I finished the race with no blisters or missing toenails!  I think that having spare clean socks and shoes played a huge part in this.

 I was surprising eager to set off for the second lap by the time I changed my shoes and refilled my water bottle.  The people hanging out near the start/finish were so encouraging and friendly that it helped me to get back out there.  I had been a little worried that sitting down would kill any motivation and momentum I had going!

I hadn't been wrong on the first lap; with the sun up the second lap was for more brutal. I was still making pretty good time though and feeling really good overall.  I had the usually little aches and pains here and there, but no major pain or soreness slowing me down!  This was the last time I had to do the 4 mile stretch between water stations and I was dangerously close to running out and never more thankful to see a place to refill my water bottle.  This is also about the point where I started to soak my Buff in water at each aid station to help keep me a little cooler.  Between the promise of water to drink and to pour over my head and the snacks at each stop I am not sure what was more motivating.  Either way I was happy to be making steady progress all the way.  By the time I made it back to the sugar sand I had met another new friend and was more than happy to walk and talk through that 2 mile stretch again.

I am going to take a break from the recap to tell you that this is one of the huge reasons I love trail races.  Most people are in it to finish and maybe PR. There isn't the crazy competitiveness you sometimes find and it is so easy to strike up a conversation with a stranger.  To be totally fair this is actually a big reason I love running in general.  Runners are so easy to talk to even if they are way faster or slower than you. You have something in common and most runners will happily talk your ear off about it.  There is also so much support and encouragement within the running community.  That said, I have just always experienced trail runners taking just a little step further.

Back to the whole point of the post: I am not going to lie, I asked someone whether or not the sugar sand was on the 5 mile course (which was the last leg of the 50k) and probably would not have finished the race if it the answer had been yes.  I had mentally prepared myself to finish my second marathon and call it a day.  Luckily the answer was no and I worked on mentally preparing myself to finish that last loop.  It was tough.  It was so much tougher than anything else I think I have done.  I changed my socks and shoes and thought about how good it would feel to put on sandals and be done.  To go home and drink a beer and eat a cheeseburger.  I was getting to the point where the bottoms of my feet hurt...I honestly expected to see that they were bruised.  At some point I realized I had worked way too hard to get this far and stop just five miles away from finishing this huge goal.  When you have already drug yourself through 26 miles, what is the point in stopping with such a relatively small distance to go?  I knew I could never live with myself if I didn't finish what I had started so I set off again.  I totally ended up layering my 2XU compression socks over my 2XU compression tights so I couldn't feel my legs screaming at me....but I set off and that is what counts!

It was not a glamorous five miles.  I sat down in the grass on more than one occasion. Other than the volunteers at the aid stations I only saw a couple people the whole way. It was such a crazy feeling of being entirely on my own with only my own determination to get me to the finish line.  I won't say I didn't think about sitting in the shade and waiting for someone to find me.  I won't say I didn't think about scratching and catching a ride back.  But I will say that I didn't do those things. Every time I sat down I stood back up and kept going.  Every time it felt too far I reminded myself how far I had come.  I never in a million years would have dreamed that this was something I could do, yet here I was doing it.  As much as it hurt and as tired as I was, this was the most in love with running I have ever felt.  I felt powerful and capable and so much more confident than I was before I started.  By the time I made it withing sight of the finish I was beside myself with joy. I had done something so incredible. I had changed my own life.

I didn't cry going over the finish line but I have never felt more amazingly complete.  (Which doesn't mean I am not tearing up just a little right now thinking about it....because I totally am.)  I was so happy to be done and to be able to sit down and drink a beer, but I was even happier that I had done it!

Sorry to wax poetic on you at the end there...it's a pretty overwhelming experience.  And I warned you this was going to be written the way I talk right?  If I have ever talked to you, you will know I was telling the truth!

I have to throw in one more little tidbit that just blows my mind.  My watch batter died so I didn't actually know how long it had taken me to finish but I estimated a bit over 9 hours.  Well lo and behold the race results were posted and I found out that I finished in 9 hours 5 minutes...and won my age division!  I was so shocked I just sat there and stared at the screen for a very long time!

So anyhow, that was my experience at my very first 50k.  I could still walk the next day so I am thinking about running the MOAT 50 miler next year...because why not right?  If that happens I imagine I will have another crazy emotional story to tell you after it happens ;)

I am sure I left things out that I will share with you later...but for now I just want to know if you have run a 50k or have one you would recommend? Do you plan to run one? Want to run one with me?!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

MinoTOR Review

Disclaimer: I received  MinoTOE samples 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!

I will be the first to admit that I am not an expert at science...but that usually doesn't matter so much with "sports drinks" because the science doesn't usually seem to be there.  When I go the opportunity to try out minoTOR I was intrigued because, from what I could understand, there was actual science backing the way the drink works rather than just a lot of fancy advertising.  That said, the package looks really cool too!

When it comes to things foods/beverages that are supposed to supplement your performance, there are a few factors to consider.  At the top of my list are taste, performance, and science. So how did minoTOR stand up in these categories?

At first I will admit that I was not convinced.  minoTOR is very sweet and tastes similar to coconut water.  I am used to the drinks that are loaded with salt and the taste was very different from what I was anticipating.  That said, after that first sip and the resulting realization that it didnt taste like I expected, I actually started to really like it.  If you like coconut water you will like this drink.  While it was never a bad taste, it does get better and more enjoyable when you know what flavor you are expecting.  A big perk was that there was no weird aftertaste or really much of an aftertaste at all.  

I felt like drinking the minoTOR did help me with my energy and also my recovery.  It also settled really well in my stomach. According to the directions it is best to drink minoTOR about half an hour before working out.  I occasionally have a very sensitive stomach when running so I tested this out for the first time before a very short run.  I never once had a problem.  I quickly started using it before longer and longer runs.  Yesterday I drank it before running my 50k (a large portion of which was in 85+ degree heat which can really mess with my tummy) and didn't have even the slightest problem! The caffeine is a big bonus because I pretty much live on the stuff, but too much coffee (aka the amount it takes to get me up and going) can be a really bad idea before a long run.  While I cannot attribute all of my muscle recovery to minoTOR since I also wear a lot of compression gear and use an Addaday roller religiously, I think it did a lot to keep my muscles feeling better from the inside and conttributed significantly to my overall speedy recovery!  Despite the very difficult course yesterday, I can walk today and never experienced the stiffness in my legs to the extent that I have before.  So that leads us to the science part...


In very basic terminology (the kind I understand haha) MinoTOR works by providing amino acids and other nutrients that improve oxygen utilization which in turn better flushes out waste products like lactic acid.  If you are interested at all in exercise science, lactic acid is a very familiar thing. When your body works more effiecienlty you perform better, feel better, and recover better.  I like to think that my general lack of major soreness today can, in large part, be attributed to my body working more efficiently thanks to the scientific benefits of MinoTOR.  If you are interested in learning more about the science behind MinoTOR, be sure to check out their website which has a ton of information!  While many go-to sports and recovery drinks have a long history but not a lot of science to back the product, I am so impressed with the massive amounts of information available to explain how and why MinoTOR works.

I would highly recommend MinoTOR to anyone who wants a drink that will allow them to train and recover smarter.  There are many things you can do to and for the outside of your body to help, but it is important to help yourself from the inside.  While the taste is pretty sweet, I appreciate the lack of after taste and the fact that it settled quickly and easily in my stomach.
Bonus points for the fact that the bottle fit in my OrangeMud vest and saved my tail yesterday when I forgot the bottle in my refrigerator yesterday!

Have questions about minoTOR or my experience with it? Let me know! I am always happy to help :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Wait it's December....and I'm old!

Holy crap yall.  How is Christmas just a couple weeks away???  I owe you so many posts it is unreal!
I have a confession - I have been totally, 110% overwhelmed with life lately and I got stressed to the point where I had no idea how to start on all the things I needed to do so I just didn't do anything.  As much as I know from experience that that approach won't actually work, it tends to be my default.  Obviously work had to come first (because I need a paycheck for reals) and I was doing well to keep going with running.  Blogging, wedding planning, and a million other things disappeared off my radar.
The good news is that I got a new computer last night and it seems to be the life preserver I needed.  All of a sudden I feel like I am swimming again rather than just trying to tread water. I know how cliche that sounds, but I am just so happy that I am starting to feel like I am in control of my life again!
My house is still a disaster and I am feeling totally unprepared for the 50k I am running on Saturday.  I am still trying to figure out how I am 27 years old.  I have barely touched my Christmas shopping list.  But I am feeling ok again. I am not as overwhelmed as I was a day ago. I don't want to hide from the world.  Things are looking up!

What does that mean for the blog? I am going to get back to posting regularly! I know...it's a shocker right? I will be posting a race review for the Holiday 5K in Celebration, FL later this week and then roll on to some updates about wedding planning (because apparently that is happening in just over three months?!) and getting prepared for my very first 50k this weekend.

Spoiler alert: one of my New Year's resolutions is going to be posting on a regular basis all year long so I am trying to get a head start!

What have you been up to?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

2XU Elite MCS Compression Tights Review and Discount!

Disclaimer: I received 2XU Elite MCS Compression tights 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!

I recently had the opportunity to test out the 2XU Elite MCS Compressions Tights!

I will be the first to admit that I was a little skeptical about the real benefits of compression tights.  They look cool and the science sounded pretty convincing, but I was honestly not perpared for how amazing these pants were for my legs.

From a technical standpoint, these tights are fascinating.  Different fabrics and Muscle Containment Stamping (MCS) are used to target specific areas of the leg to pretect against muscle trauma during exercise and to increase the recovery benefits to those muscle groups.

From a non-technical standpoint, I was told they made me look like a superhero.  So you won't hear any complaints from me!

I wore my 2XU tights for a few short runs and lounging around the house to ward of minor pains and thought they were probably working, but it wasn't until after a particularly painful long run that I became a true believer in the pure magic of these pants.  I beat up my legs pretty badly on a tough longer run and was hobbling around pretty badly.  I decided to wing it and wear my tights under my khakis for work.

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While it might not be a fashion choice that will be heading for big runways, I was able to run another three miles that night after work and my legs felt brand new.

It wasn't a fluke either.  I had to get ready for the Urban Bourbon Half pretty quickly since I had not been training as well as I should have, so a lot of my long runs were brutal and my legs hated me by the time I was done.  Wearing the 2XU Elite MCS Compression pants is probably the only way I was able to get ready for the race in time.

To take it one step further, they may be the reason I was able to make it though the hilly course in Kentucky without lasting pain.  Don't get me wrong. These tights will not suddenly make you invincible. You will not be able to go qualify for Boston tomorrow without training.  But they will do wonders when it comes to giving your body the resources it needs to recover properly.  I have never been good at giving myself time to recover.  I want immediate results and I think these are about as close as you can get.  When I end a run knowing I ought to be sore for days after, I am so glad I can put these pants on and be ready to roll again in significantly less time.

Another perk of these tights is that, in spite of the fact that they are long pants, they are not terribly thick and do not get unbearably hot when running. I wore them running on hot days and was no worse off than I would have been in shorts!
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Overall, I am in love with my 2XU Elite MCS tights and can't stop telling all my friends about them!
If you want to try your own pair, use the code: BIBRAVE20 to save 20% off your purchase (this actually works site wide and not just on the pants!)
If you have questions about my experience with these pants please let me know...I will be happy to talk your ear off about them as well!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Urban Bourbon Half Marathon Race Recap!

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon 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!

I have been trying to figure out where to start in sharing my recap of this race with yall for ages.  I'm not kidding when I say I spent a huge portion of my 15+ hour drive home drafting this post in my head.  Words just cannot do justice to how amazing this weekend was!

I am going to be breaking down the weekend into three separate posts, so stay tuned this week to hear about the before and after...for today I am focusing on the race itself!

For those who are not familiar, the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon takes place in Louisville, KY ergo the bourbon aspect. Being in Louisville it was a little chillier than I am used to, but the break from crazy humidity was very very welcome.

The Pre-Race
Erica and I walked/ran to the race start since we were staying only a little over a mile away and met up with Angie and Josh. 
Photo credit to Angie at marathang.wordpress.com

From the sounds of things, there was ample parking though you did have to pay for it.  I put my bag in the gear check right away since it was not nearly as chilly as I expected and I didn't need my jacket.  The volunteers were very efficient and were actually nice enough to get my bag back out for me when I realized I had left my Ziploc bag for my phone in my gear bag (oops) and it was supposed to rain.  We were all a little surprised that there was no crazy rush of people getting lined up in the starting area. While there was definitely a good/excited atmosphere there were very few people getting an early start into the corrals.  The portapotty lines looked pretty long, but the race crew were making announcements of where bathroom facilities could be located.  I didn't need them, so I can't say for sure how quickly the lines moved.  When they made the 10 minutes till start time announcement there was suddenly a mad dash to get in the starting area.  There were no side entrances to the chute so it was a little bit chaotic.  It might have been nice to be able to go in through the side....but if people had lined up earlier it would also not have been an issue! There were no designated corrals or anything, but there were plenty of pacers and, from what I noticed when we got going, people overall did a good job of lining up with their expected pace and there was minimal dodging.  Before the start a trumpeter played My Old Kentucky Home (I hope! If you were there and I got the song wrong please let me know!) then the National Anthem.

Since Louisville is known for horse racing, it was a very fun way to start the race and not something you find at many races in other places!

The Race
The Urban Bourbon course was very fun because it took you through downtown Louisville, Cherokee Park, and past some very nice houses.  It felt like a running tour of the town and I absolutely loved it.  The thing I was probably most excited for when planning for this race was the fact that Autumn actually happens in Louisville.  Cherokee Park did not disappoint! 

The views were incredible it was so peaceful.  There were a few spectators here and there, but overall the part of the run that went through the park was quiet and I loved being able to get in a groove and just run while taking in the fall leaves.  If you are totally over fall that may not sound like much, but coming from Central Florida it was a real treat.
Of course the park also contained the part of the race I had been most worried about: the hills.  Looking at the elevation profile, I and my flat land friends were a bit perplexed by the huge spike in the middle.  I thought perhaps it was a bridge/overpass or that the rest of the hills were small and just made this one look exceptionally large by comparison.  No. That was not the case at all. The rolling hills in the beginning were actually enjoyable.  Then I got to the big hill and my heart sank just a bit.  It was a struggle but I made my way to the top and was never more glad to see a downhill in my life.  If I was still living in NC I am sure this hill would be much less daunting.  It was not exceptionally large or steep, but this past weekend it did take a toll on my legs.
In the park there was also a turnaround point though this was not an out and back course. (Thank goodness because that would have meant doing the hill twice! I was really excited to see Josh as I was going the first was and Erica after I turned around.  Though tight turns are not my favorite, they had an aid station at the corner so it was logical to slow down and walk through anyways.
My goal going into the race was to finish under 2:30 if possible.  Having seen the elevation profile I knew this was a bit of a stretch because I have not trained for any amount of elevation at all.  I went out faster than I should have and ran a 10 something first mile.  As much as I know I should not have done that, I was feeling so good in the cooler weather and less humidity that I just let it happen.  I am not trying to beat any speed records.  There was no chance I would win the race.  I am thankful that I went out too fast because it felt so fantastic.  It was exactly what I love about running.  That said, as the humidity rose towards the end of the race, I was wishing I could have bottled some of that feeling to get me through.  I passed a runner who was down at mile 11 receiving medical care.  Though there were ample water/powerade stops, the weather was deceptive and it was easy to think that since it was not hot you did not need water every time if you were not used to running in humidity.  I actually slowed down at the last water stop to drink two cups of water because I could feel the air getting thicker and I was not taking any chances!
The end of the race brought you back onto main street and there was even a balloon arch over the marker for mile twelve! 
Being in the more populated area, there were more spectators in this area and they were lining the sides of the road for the last bit into the finish!  I will never ever stop being thankful for the people that stand there and cheer.  My legs were tired but my heart was so full.  As terribly cheesy as I know that sounds, I am the one who always comes close to tears at the finish line. The sense of accomplishment combined with the support of complete strangers just blows my mind and I hope I never lose that feeling.  This was a race that made me fall even deeper in love with running and racing.

The After Party
If you are anything like me, the moments after a long race/run are pretty much a blur.  I suddenly had a medal and was walking  towards tables loaded down with water, powerade, bananas and Panera bagels.  Are the medals not awesome?! Plus they are all hand-dipped...which is saying something with about 3000 runners!

  In my daze I passed on the bagel which makes me a little sad now!  I did get a banana, water, and powerade so it wasn't a total loss.  This was also my first race where they were giving out heat sheets which I was very grateful for.  The humidity and hills had gotten my temperature up, but the rain was starting to come in and the air was cooler than I had realized!  I met back up with the other pros and we hung out through the Bourbon Bash on the Belvedere.  I mean who doesn't love a race with a big party after?  There was a live band and each runner got a wristband with little tabs that pulled off.  There were 4 bourbon tickets, a beer ticket, a pizza ticket, and a burgoo ticket.  The High Five Donuts truck was also there selling their donuts. 

 Spectators were allowed to buy wristbands and enjoy the party as well.  I will say that the beer line was disappointingly long and the pizza ran out.  That said, they did go get more pizza (which I have never seen a race do) and both issues were already addressed on Facebook by that evening or the next day which I thought was fantastic. 

 The bourbon tasting lines were pretty much nonexistent so that was a big plus!  It was also fun that they included burgoo which is a Kentucky stew that I had never heard of before.  I don't think I will make it at home, but it was pretty good and fun to try.  Overall, the after party was a lot of fun! The music was good and there was room for everyone to spread out.  The heat sheets were being put to good use as picnic blankets by more than a handful of people!
Photo credit also to Angie :)

After the after party there were even more events that I will cover in part 3 of my weekend recap! I had such an amazing experience with this race there was no way to pour it all into one post!

Overall this is a race that I plan to run again and again. I am already recruiting friends to road trip up with me next year!  Everyone working with the Louisville Sports Commission and the race were so friendly and helpful.  Of course it helped that the course was amazing and the bourbon after didn't hurt!

Did you run the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon? Let me know what you thought of it! And don't forget to share your review on Bibrave.com!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Monday Miles: 10/19/15

Yall the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon is this weekend!!!! I am so excited to take a trip and run somewhere new!

Running last week was a little blah. I managed 10 quality miles plus 4 awful (mostly walking) miles on Tuesday, knocked out 3 miles Wednesday and Thursday and have been a complete bum since then! (Hank is a pro at being a bum though)
Today I am going to be working from 9 to 8ish, so running is out in favor of sleep. I'm hoping to get another three miles in tomorrow and Wednesday then a quick shakeout run on Friday before the big day on Saturday :)

Wednesday I'll be doing an update post on how I'm doing getting ready for my trip!

How was your week of running?
Will I be seeing you in Louisville?!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Five: Favorite Fall Foods

 Happy Friday! Once again I am linking up with Mar on the RunYou Signed Up for What?, and Eat Pray Run DC for the Friday Five link up.  If you haven't checked it out already you should...it's a great way to discover new blogs about running and fitness :)

Today we are talking about favorite fall foods!  Next week I am headed north to Louisville so I am really excited to see some true "fall" and have some cooler Fall weather.  Central Florida isn't really known for having four seasons, but I have been trying to pretend by making my favorite fall staples anyways!  maybe autumn can be a state of mind?

Without further ado, here are my five favorite fall foods!

1) Pumpkin Soup.

I got hooked on this while I was living in Italy and now I cannot go through the colder seasons without making it at least once!

2) Honeycrisp apples.  

Technically you can get these any time, but they are fresh in the fall and tend to be a little less expensive.  If you have never had a honeycrisp you have to try one! They are life changing.

3) Beans and cornbread.

Is anything more comforting?  I love this because it is simple and warms you up from the inside.

4) Pasta.

Well technically I love pasta all year, but in the fall it just feels better.

5) Squash soup and grilled cheese at Panera.

So good. So so good.

Now that I am good and hungry, I hope you will share your favorite fall foods with me!
Happy Friday!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

On not being invincible

Is anyone else guilty of getting in the running groove and being convinced they are unstoppable? It's a good thing to a certain extent, but yesterday I had a slightly scary wake up call. 
It is so easy to share the good moments in running, but I think every rubber knows that there are plenty of not so good moments too. As much as it can be a blow to the ego to admit that a run was totally awful, I think it is just as important to share those moments as it is to share the good ones. So here goes. 
By now I should know better, but yesterday I decided that I would be lazy all morning then try to do 14 miles starting a little after 11. My theory was that I would be running on a trail tat usually has a good amount of shade and the high was only around 84. I also didn't take my water with me because I simply didn't want to deal with it. Not a great start right? I failed to consider that the shade provided around noon would be much less than earlier or later in the day. And one of the key water fountains on the path was broken. Despite all this, I was feeling really good through mile 7 when I turned around. I posted a picture on Instagram of the trail and was really feeling like my run was "clicking" if you will. 

By mile ten my watch was giving me low battery warnings so I stopped briefly. It was then that I realized I was no longer feeling so great. 
It was hot, I was running into the sun, there was no shade and I was getting dehydrated quickly. I was proud of myself for attempting to go further, but when I couldn't get my heart rate and breathing under control I decided waddling the 3+ miles back to my car was my only option. 

I was miserable after and so mad that my run didn't go the way I wanted it to. I wanted to finish with that same feeling of peace and confidence I had felt during the first part. But after a short pity party I realized that I had no reason to be upset. I realized I wasn't actually that angry. As I am ramping up my mileage in preparation for my fall and winter races I need this lesson in humility. I need to remember to respect my body and all I am asking it to do. And most importantly I needed to be reminded that not every run will be good, but every run will teach you something. As much as I could wish that my long run had ended differently, I am grateful for the reminder that I still have a lot to learn.
All that said I was about to just lay down with these headstones at one point! If you zoom in they are labeled as cyclists, joggers, roller bladers, etc. which absolutely made my day!

Do you have a bad run story? Did it make you a better runner?

Monday, October 12, 2015

MEStrength Review

Disclaimer: I received MEStrength 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!

I'm going to cut to the chase and tell you straight out that I LOVE MeStrength! I have never been a sports drink lover because it is usually way too sweet and either loaded with calories or sweetened with something that gave me a headache. I had heard good things about MEStrength so I was eager to give it a shot....and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it didn't taste overly sweet and was even a little tart! It also has no calories. This can be a bad thing because aspartame which gives me a migraine and I had never (to my knowledge) had anything made with stevia. From my experience with the drink I am very happy that I had no adverse reactions to stevia as a sweetener!

In addition to the flavor, the electrolytes it provides are obviously a good thing. Running in Florida means sweating a lot. Like a lot a lot. So getting/staying hydrated can be a big concern. 

Now if you are anything like me, by which I mean not a scientist or nutritionist, ingredients and benefits can be a little baffling. I loved this diagram on MEStrength's website that breaks down the difference in each of the commonly used training supplements. 
Now I am not going to get rid of my Clif Shots, but I was very impressed with how MEStrength stacked up against a lot of the drinks I have gravitated towards in the past. 

One last perk that I really appreciated is the fact that it comes in sleeves that you pour into a water bottle. This not only means less wasted packaging, but also less bulk to carry around. I can get it through airport security or pour it into the bottle of water I carry to work. I actually intend to carry a couple packs on me when I run my 50k in December for some mid race hydration. That's something you can't do with a bottle!

Overall I highly recommend MEStrength  if you are looking for a source of electrolytes without the sugary sweet taste! 

Have questions about my experience with MEStrength? Let me know!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Weekend Adventure

Oh my gosh yall. I think I had the best Sunday funday of my life this week!!!
I really meant to tell you about it yesterday but wound up going to work instead!
To be totally honest I was a little grouchy when I got up because the weather was not as sunny and warm as predicted and I wasn't sure the fun stuff we had planned was going to work. Kayaking in the cold isn't really my cup of tea haha. Once we decided to brave it I hopped in the shower and Charlie, aka the most amazing person ever, surprised me by running to get iced coffee from Dunkin AND bagel sandwiches from Panera. All the grouchy went away fast after that!
We went down the road to Wekiva Springs and rented a double kayak for a couple hours. 
It was so peaceful and relaxing. As much as I enjoy living close to everything, I really love that we can easily get away from the city and out into the woods where it is a little quieter. 
We definitely didn't need to worry about swimsuits though! It wasn't nearly warm enough to go swimming! 

We did get to see a little bitty alligator though! 
With the threat of a big storm moving towards us we decided to head back rather than risking getting stuck on the river in a bad storm. 

Post kayaking we went to a porch sale at the local outdoor equipment store and scored a great deal on a tent which we set up in our living room as soon as we got home. Because who wouldn't do that right?!

Since we needed to do some grocery shopping we made a pit stop for lunch first. It was National Taco Day so Tijuana Flats was the obvious choice. They were even celebrating with dollar drafts and $2 tacos. 

Fact: grocery shopping is way better after tacos and beer. I highly recommend it. 

Finally it was time to go home and start cooking dinner for the friends that were coming over for dinner! I failed at taking pictures, but my first attempt at shrimp scampi didn't come out too bad. As a side note though you should read the recipe before using the whole box of pasta if you don't want super dry noodles hahaha. 
Overall it was a fantastic day! Even though it's a little late to say so, I hope you had a fantastic weekend too!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Wigwam Socks Review

Disclaimer: I received Wigwam socks 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!

Let's talk socks!  They see so simple right? You put them between your feet and your shoes and off you go...except it never seems to be quite that easy.  It doesn't help that there are about a million styles of socks on the market so trying them all can be exhausting and a financial strain.

While I have never had a real problem with the socks I wear for running (at least not on the level of people that end up with massive blisters, missing toenails, etc.) I had also never found a pair that I really really loved.  So, when I got the chance to try something new  as a BIbRave Pro I was excited for the opportunity.

Wigwam gave me the opportunity to try out the Lightning Pro low-cut socks ultralight.  It's like they read my mind on sock preference because I love thin socks with just a little more thickness in the bottom which is exactly how these are!

Now I am a new sock lover.  If I was rich I would wear a new pair of socks every day.  There is just something so nice about putting on a new, clean pair of socks.  Am I weird or do other people feel this way too?

Obviously I put these on to run in a few minutes after I got them in the mail and I like to think I put them through their paces right from that first run.  It's Central Florida and I was running after noon so of course it was hot, humid, and raining.  If bad things are going to happen to your feet that is prime weather for it.  I was beyond thrilled with these socks.  My shoes were soaked through but the Wigwam socks were thin enough that they did not give you that "soggy sock sensation." If you run in the rain you know what I mean.  If you don't run in the rain, lucky you I guess haha.

Just to make sure it wasn't the new sock obsession coloring my opinion, I continued to wear my Wigwam socks for runs throughout the week and just loved them more and more even as they began to look less and less new.

 I like that they are thin and do not add bulk inside my shoes since my feet are wide and my shoes tend to be snug.  The mesh on the top also helps to keep my feet cool in the not so fall like weather.  And after many many wet runs there is still no chafing or blistering!  What more can you ask for in a running sock?

Overall I highly recommend these socks (psst did you notice the love them for 2 years guarantee?) especially if you like a thinner sock that lets your foot get some fresh air.

Have questions about the Wigwam socks? Let me know!  You can check out their website to pick up your own!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

October Coffee Date

Ok I say this every month but seriously how is it October already?!
I love love love fall so I'm pretty okay with time flying, but it's still making my head spin a bit. 
One of the best things about fall is that I can keep drinking hot coffee and fewer people look at me like I am clinically crazy. 
Also Starbucks started doing super cute fall cups and the new toasted graham latte is the bees knees. 

So, grab a cup and join me for a little Saturday morning coffee chat :)

The Ultimate Coffee Date
If we were having coffee I would tell you that I cannot wait for the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon later this month! I get to meet some of my BibRave friends in person for the first time and it will be my first ever trip to Kentucky which makes it double the fun! 
If we were having coffee I would ask what you are going to be for Haloween or if you are running any Haloween races! I don't have a costume idea yet and that makes me sad. 
If we were having coffee I would tell you that I have been binge watching NCIS on Netflix like a crazy person. I started from season one and I am watching them all :)
If we were having coffee I would invite you over tomorrow night because I just might be having friends over for dinner for the first time in our new place!!

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?
Any must see/do suggestions in Louisville KY?
Wanna come over for a pasta party?!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday Five: Favorite Fall Activities

 Happy Friday! Once again I am linking up with Mar on the RunYou Signed Up for What?, and Eat Pray Run DC for the Friday Five link up.  If you haven't checked it out already you should...it's a great way to discover new blogs about running and fitness :)

This week we are talking about favorite fall activities!

I used to live in the Asheville, NC area which was the most magical place to experience fall. Florida is sure to be different, but I think there are some fall things you can enjoy anywhere!

1) Drinking caramel apple cider. 

I got this idea from Starbucks, but you can do it at home with apple cider, cinnamon Torrani syrup, and caramel sauce! It tastes perfect next to...

2) Bonfires! I love lighting a fire and having friends over to just hang out. Summer can be too hot for this, so once cool fall evenings come around I am ready!

3) Running! I know, I know, I always like running. But fall is my very favorite season for running because the temperature is finally dropping a bit and you can really appreciate it after spouting sweat all summer. 

4) Baking! Summer is too hot to run your oven very often so fall is the perfect time to start cranking out yummy home baked dinners and treats!

5) Decorating! Halloween, Thanksgiving, and fall in general are a great excuse for putting up all the cute decorations your house can hold!

So there you have it! I'm so excited that fall is officially here...even if it doesn't quite feel like it outside!

What are your favorite fall activities?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Monday Miles 9/21

Where did the week go?!?!

My mom was in town for the last week and has to fly home today which is a big bummer...but probably good for my running plan! I feel like I have been missing runs this past week, but I have been up and going all day every day, so hopefully that counts for something!

I did manage a couple of 3 mile runs during the week and another 7 mile run on Sunday.  The seven miles at least felt pretty easy so I am optimistic still about the half I have coming up in just over a month (holy cow time is flying!)

The bad news is that I got a bit sunburned when we went to the beach this weekend, so I am feeling a little dehydrated and all my running clothes rub on my burn.  Not the most motivating thing, but I have had worst burns so I am hoping it will fade/peel/get off my body soon!

The plan is to do another long run this evening; I am aiming for at least 10 miles.  I am hoping that getting my body used to running long when already tired will help me get ready for my 50k in December without putting quite as much wear and tear on my body.  Plus I am going to be pouting that my mom is gone so I'll need some quality running time!

What are your running plans for the week?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Full Buff Product Review

Disclaimer: I received a 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!

Hey all! If you saw my review of the UV Half Buff you could probably guess that I was super excited to try out the Full Buff as well!!  It is the same product as the Half Buff, but (you guessed it) double the length!

Hank wasn't entirely convinced that he needed to be the one to model the length, but I bribed him with cookies.

Just like the Half Buff, there is no slipping when you are on the on the go.  I have run in my Buff dozens of times for many any miles and have never needed to adjust it.  If you have ever run in a headband of any type you can probably appreciate how rare that is.  I am in love with the fact that it keeps my hair from falling in my face and doesn't move so I can spend more time running and less time trying to see where I am going.  And taking selfies.

I can't wait to try this out when I run the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon in Louisville because it is supposed to be good for keeping your neck/face/head warm.  Living in Central Florida I certainly haven't been able to test out that aspect yet, but I can say that it is not too hot or bulky to run in even when the weather is toasty.

It does a great job of absorbing sweat and keeping it out of your face.  I also clued in during the last BibChat with Buff that you can put them in the fridge for a little bit before you wear them.  Let me just tell you that the experience is nearly magical! Keeping your head cool for a while can make a huge difference in the overall enjoyablility of your run for sure!

I love that this Buff is great for visibility as well.  I usually run in the morning or evening to beat the heat, so have a little something extra to help others see me is a huge perk. 

Overall: another AMAZING product! Two thumbs wayyyyy up!  If you are debating between a full or half Buff, I would recommend the full if you are a super heavy sweater or live somewhere that gets cold in the winter.  If you are a lighter swearer and live somewhere with mild weather, the half might be right for you. That said, once you have one you will just want more...so you should use the code BIBRAVE10 to get 10% off (until 9/30) then you can justify getting both!!  You can shop all their great products here.

Have questions about the Buff?! Let me know!