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?!