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?