Thursday, August 25, 2016

Friday Favorites

Can you believe it's Friday- where did this week go?!  This week has gone by fast, but I still had time to enjoy some of my new favorite things.


Earlier this year, it became harder to find my favorite energy gel.  I began my quest to find my new favorite but wasn't having much luck.  I discovered Glukos at Rock N Roll San Diego-- they are the official energy provider for the race series and had an awesome deal at the race expo, so I gave it a try. It was love at first try!  I don't like to try anything new on race day, so I used it on training runs.  It was doing exactly what I needed it to do.  It officially became "my gel" during America's Finest City Half Marathon.  If you haven't tried it before, check out all their products at Glukos.  Still hot where you live?  A little secret I learned from Jenny-- freeze the gels before your run.  It becomes a slushy treat perfect for warmer temperatures.  
Photo Credit: Glukos

Impromptu Trips to Disneyland

I am a planner-- if I was planning a trip to Disneyland, I'd know about it weeks ahead of time.  Last Thursday, I was talking to my friend who was going to Disneyland on Friday.  She said, "Come with us" and I thought why not. So early Friday morning we headed up there for the day and it was a blast!  We explored California Adventure first, riding the new Soarin' and watching the new Frozen show-- as sad as I was to see Aladin go, I really did enjoy the show. After a quick ride through Radiator Springs, we headed over to Disneyland for the rest of the day.  From a few rides to character pictures, so much fun!  Sometimes the best days are the ones you don't plan.

Garmin's Face-It App

I love my Garmin Forerunner 235.  One of my favorite features has been the downloadable faces from the Connect IQ store.  Last week, Garmin released a new app where you can create your own watch face from your pictures.  How fun is that?!  After downloading the app from the App Store, you upload your pictures, decide if you want digital or analog and sync to your watch.  So easy!  I think I've changed my watch face every day just because I can.  (The app isn't compatible with every Garmin watch, so you'll need to check the app to see if it will work for yours.). 


As a runner, I know how important hydration is.  It's also been one of my biggest challenges. When two of my friends, Toni and Julian, decided to host hydration challenges, I said "Sign me up!"  One was a seven day challenge which included exercises and one was a fourteen day challenge.  Both challenges had accountability groups on Facebook where we had to post pictures of us drinking our water-- I don't know about you, but when I have a measure of accountability, I am much more successful.  So I drank my water and posted my pictures every day.  It worked-- I got in my required ounces each day and found myself reaching for water even when other options were available.  It was also fun to see everyone else's pictures and see their progress. (Toni and Julian will be doing challenges again so if it's something that seems like it's for you, check out their pages.)  The challenges are both over but I'm still drinking my water.  

Post run hydration. 

What are some of the things you're loving this week?

Until next time, happy running!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

America's Finest City Half Marathon Recap

Earlier in the year I ran the Carlsbad Half Marathon and the La Jolla Half Marathon-- both races are part of the Triple Crown race series, so it seemed silly not to run the final race, America's Finest City Half Marathon.  I had never run AFC, but all I'd ever heard about it is that it's hot and there's a hill at mile 11. 

Packet pick-up was either Friday or Saturday before the race-- I took an impromptu trip to Disneyland on Friday, so headed to the expo on Saturday.  (They do offer a race day pick-up for a fee). I didn't spend a lot of time at the expo-- getting the bib and shirt were easy.  They also give you a nice reusable shopping bag which I like.  I took a quick look at the expo-- there was a good representation of vendors and if I had more time, I would have definitely checked out a few of the booths.  

#FlatJenn with all of my favorite things.
This year's race had an earlier start time than previous years-- I'm one of those runners who loves early race starts, so I was happy with this.  The race starts at Cabrillo National Monument and the only way to the start line is via shuttle from Balboa Park (the finish area).  The shuttles were running from 4:00am to 5:30am and I was a little nervous since this was my first time doing this race.  I arrived to the shuttle around 4:15am-- I was suprised that there were several other people who were just as early.  The shuttle took about 30 minutes to get us to the start line.  The start area was in a parking lot-- they had gear check and a water station.  I used the extra time to catch up on social media and read a book.  At 6:00am I was standing in line to use the restroom and all of a sudden we heard the National Anthem.  There was a little bit of "oh no, is it 6:30am already?!" in the line, then we quickly realized that it was just being played/sung early. (I couldn't see the start line platform so I'm not sure if it was a recording or a live person-- either way, it was good rendition).  While in line for the restroom, I met Jerry who is a legacy runner for this race-- he has run AFC for 39 years.  How awesome is that?! After I used the restroom, I headed to the start line area.  We weren't officially put into corrals, but they did have time flags posted and people seemed to be placing themselves accordingly.  Promptly at 6:30am, we heard a horn blow and we were off.  

The course runs down the road leading up to Cabrillo National Monument-- there were a few places that it was so congested with runners, it was almost comical.  We quickly made our race towards Fort Rosecrans National cemetery--I'm a little quirky about cemeteries, but I will say that running by it while the sun was rising in the distance was beautiful! If you are ever in San Diego, both of these places should be on your "visit" list.  

We continued the course down towards Point Loma and I was suprised at the residential area we ran through.  I don't look at course maps so this was a pleasant surprise.  San Diego spectators are awesome and always come out for races-- there were shots of tequila, kids giving out high-fives and people offering us sprays with their hose to help beat the heat.  (And now keeping it honest-- around mile 6, I had to use the restroom again.  I'm not sure if I overhydrated on Saturday or pre-race, but it is what it is.  And I wasn't the only one-- it was about a ten minute wait in line.) After my pit stop, we made our way to Harbor Island (yay for a misting station at mile 8) and towards the Navy Pier.  After I found my way back to the course, I was ready to go.  I run near the Navy Pier quite frequently for #RUNch, but it's always a beautiful run. During this portion of the race, I got dizzy so I slowed down. I don't get dizzy often, so it made me a little nervous.  I'd rather run smart and it really is a beautiful area to run. Seriously, if you're ever in San Diego, run here.

Around mile 10, we made a turn and started into downtown towards Balboa Park.  The group at mile 10 was awesome-- they had a misting station, people spraying us with hoses and grilled hamburgers-- I didn't have one, but they sure smelled good! I had been warned about the upcoming hill and it was a little sneaky.  As you head up Broadway, you think "this is the hill" until you turn onto 6th Avenue. 

I surprised myself and pushed up the hill-- it wasn't steep, but it was long.  I actually enjoyed the challenge and realized I definitely need to add more hill training to my runs.  After the hill, we made our way across into the Prado area of Balboa Park.  The bridge was lined with American Flags and I loved this.  Then a quick turn around the corner and we were finished.  

Race Shirt and Medal
After crossing the finish line and getting my AFC medal, I made my way down the finishers chute which seemed to go on forever, but it was worth it when there was cold chocolate milk waiting for us at the end.  I then found the Triple Crown tent to get my medal and waiting in line to take the Triple Crown picture.  I had planned ahead and brought my medals from the first two races.   The finish area was a lot of fun-- a live band, vendors and just a great buzz of activity.  After taking some pictures and handling out a bit, I headed home. 

Overall, I had a great experience at AFC.  The weather was great. There were some beautiful sections of the course-- epic blogger fail that I didn't get pictures.  There were plenty of water stations and the volunteers were awesome.  Every volunteer I encountered was so supportive- that's not always the case with volunteers so it was definitely appreciated.  I loved seeing local running groups out there too supporting us-- it's nice to see familiar faces out on the race course.  

I loved completing the Triple Crown challenge.  Each race offers something unique and is challenging in it's own way and who doesn't love extra bling?! 

Have you every completed a multi race challenge?

Until next time, happy running.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Let's Go Streaking!

In the middle of May, I saw a post on Instagram that talked about #StreakingWithTheCOOLKIDS.  A  fun challenge for the month of June, hosted by @PinkCupcakeGirl, the idea was to run or walk at least one mile for every day during the month of June.  I had other friends who were going to participate, so I thought "why not?"  I honestly didn't anticipate making it the whole month-- I thought I'd get through about a week and then life would take over.

Guess what-- life didn't take over.  I ran at least one mile every day in June (I actually started my streak on May 31st).  Before this streak, I had never reached the 100 mile total for a month-- in June I ran 126.2 miles.  And when June ended, I continued.  I ran ever day during the month of July and ended the month running a total of 140 miles.  

I'm lucky to have amazing views when I run.

It is now August and I am now on day 71 of my run streak.  I not only made it through June, but I haven't stopped.  For the past 71 days, I have run at least one mile every day.  Some of the miles have been run solo.  Some have been run with friends.  Some have been run in races (three half marathons, a 12K and an 8 miler).  Some have been run in groups.  Not every mile has been easy, not every mile has been fast, but every mile has been run-- one step at a time.

I love my Friday #RUN619 run group!

My run streak has taught me lessons I never anticipated from running.  I realized that "having no time" was an excuse I used to frequently-- I can find 10 minutes a day to run a mile.  I am strong- even on the days I was tired, my legs still carried me and when my legs struggled, my heart took over. I also learned that the running community rocks-- I've encountered more runners in the past 71 days and it's awesome to see other people out there doing what they love and I never grow tired of the "runners wave" and smile.

The biggest lesson that I've learned is that I love to run. I had become stagnant in my running and I had forgotten that love.  For people that don't run, I will never to be able to fully explain it.  For people who run, you get it.  When people talk about a "runner's high," it definitely is a real thing.             

Truth be told, most of the people in my life don't understand why I'm streaking, but I also have a great support group of runners who do.   I have such great admiration for other streakers-- for the runners who have run for days, week, months and even years.  I don't know when my streak will end-- my plan right now is to get to 100 days and see how I feel.  I suspect the first day I don't run will be a challenge, more mentally than physically.  Until then, I'm going to keep on running.  

Have you ever streaked?  

Until next time, happy running!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Balboa Park 8 Miler Recap

A couple months ago, Carlee McDot hosted a giveaway for a race entry into the Balboa Park 8 Miler race.  It's a local race that I've always wanted to do so I was beyond excited when I won.  
The Balboa Park 8 Miler is San Diego's oldest consecutive race, this year being their 62nd year.  I've heard that it's always a though course, but this year they had changed the course and I wasn't really sure what to expect.  I didn't look at the course map prior to the race, but had convinced myself it would be a hard run.  I had been warned of the trails and the hills, so this is what I was mentally preparing myself for.
The week up to the race, I had convinced myself the race was on Sunday, so that's what I was mentally prepared for.  On Thursday, I finally realized it was on Saturday.  Packet pick-up was Friday afternoon but honestly the time frame would have had me stuck in traffic coming and going so I was glad they also offered race day pick up.  
I woke up ready to go Saturday morning and headed to Balboa Park, making sure to give myself enough time to find parking, get my bib & shirt, take it back to my car and make it to the start line in time.  Every thing was organized and it was easier than I anticipated, so I had plenty of time before the start.  I met up with Carlee before the race, took a couple pictures, chatted and then headed over to the start line area.

Start Line
The start line had self-placing corrals with signs lined up by pace.  I placed myself comfortably between the "8 minute" and "10 minute" mile signs.  After the National Anthem, the runners were off.  The staggered the start and I went in the second corral, with a two minute delay between corral starts.  
I often run through Balboa Park and the areas around it, so I was familiar with several areas of the course.  There were some out and back type of loops, but it never felt repetitive.  Although it was overcast, it was humid and the weather was definitely making me feel like I was running harder than I was.  After running near the park and through the San Diego Zoo parking lot, we were off to the trail portion of the course.  

Course Map
I was actually excited about the trail portion of the course.  I've been running more trails lately and have discovered that I love it.  But when we got there, I almost came to a complete stop.  The first part was downhill, steep downhill.  Other runners around me laughed as we all slowed down and made our way down the hill.  It wasn't a long hill, but I admit that the downhill made me nervous.  Once I found my comfort spot, I was off and running.  I kept a pretty good pace until I got to the "Zig-Zag hill."  That hill was no joke.  They even had a selfie station at the top of the hill with a sign that said "I Conquered Zig-Zag Hill." (I didn't stop because I was in my groove and anxious to finish the race.). Although the trails were a relatively small portion of the race, it was my favorite part.  Even the hill! 
The last portion of the race went smoothly as I made my way to the finish line.  I noticed that several of the runners around me were ones I had started with so I was glad that I seemed to place myself accordingly at the start line.  

Can You Tell Where Zig-Zag Hill Was?
Overall, I had a great time at the race.  I appreciated having Nuun and water at the three aid stations on the course.  I liked having mile markers at every mile.  The course support and volunteers were awesome.  The volunteer that was stationed about half way up Zig-Zag hill was my favorite-- you couldn't help but laugh when he told us how tired he was and "wasn't even running the hill."  My only "complaint" was the water at finish line-- they had small cups that were barely full and I would have like more water.  (Further into the finish line area, there was a booth set up giving out larger bottles of Aloe water, but I didn't like feeling like I had to search for the water.) In the big picture, this is a relatively small complaint compared to things I've experienced at other races.  

The Bling!
Eight mile was a fun distance-- since this was my first eight mile race, it was an automatics PR.  The San Diego Track Club and High Performance Movement put on a great race.  This was my first year doing the Balboa Park 8 Miler and I will definitely be back.
Have you ever won a race entry?

Until next time, happy running!

Ultra Runner Crate

A few weeks ago, I went on Instagram to see if anyone I knew has tried the Ultra Runner Crate subscription box.  I was intrigued at the idea...