Sunday, December 10, 2017

Del Dios Trail Half Marathon Recap

In October, I volunteered at a race put on by the Endurance Race Series.  Not only did I have a blast seeing what happens on the other side of the start line, I also received an entry into one of their future races.  I quickly signed up for the Del Dios Trail Half Marathon—I had heard great things about the race and thought it would a great way to end my race year.

The week before this race, I ran the Ray Miller 50K and I can’t lie—the elevation of that race impacted my running more than I anticipated.  Though I am still streaking, I was also actively resting and had a low mileage week.  The Del Dios event offers a half marathon, a 10K and the 5K distance.  The week leading up to the race, I kept telling myself I would make a race day decision about what distance I would run.

I woke up the morning of the race and felt pretty good.  I had run ten miles the day prior and it didn’t feel awful.  I quickly got ready but made a rookie mistake—I didn’t eat breakfast.  I don’t usually eat a lot before a race but I always have some type of protein drink and a banana.  I definitely know better and I definitely paid for it during the race.
#TwoPairDontCare Ugly Sweater Socks
I knew within the first mile of the race that I really had no business running it.  My body is still in recovery mode and I could never find my groove.  I struggled from the beginning and that struggle lasted most of the race.  At one point, I even texted a friend and said I was going to DNF.  I contemplated turning at the 10K turnoff and finishing that race (the first part of the half and 10K were run on the same course)  After a pep talk and a reminder not to be so hard on myself, I decided that I would finish the half.  I knew it would not be my best race.  I was even prepared to be the last finisher.  But I kept pushing along, running when I could, walking when I needed to and taking it one step at a time. Shortly after mile ten, I caught up with two runners in front of me. We chatted a bit and I asked if they had done the race before.  One told me it was her first half marathon—how awesome is that! What she doesn’t know is that was just the little push of encouragement I needed—her accomplishment was a great reminder of how far I’ve come in my own journey and why I love the running community so much.  So thank you random runner! 
The views!
Aside from my performance, there are some awesome things about this race.  There were wild fires in Southern California the days leading up the race and the pre-race communication was on point, with updates letting us know what was going on with the race.  The course, though a bit rocky, is scenic and was well marked.  The volunteers at the aide stations were great, cheering for every runner as they came through.  ERS also does finish line areas right—not only do they have the standard fruits and waters, there were chips, pastries, grilled goodies and beer.   The swag is also pretty sweet—I love that they offer a fitted tee.  

As my race year came to an end with this race, I’m looking forward to what 2018 brings.  And I’m excited to announce that I will be joining the Endurance Race Series Ambassador team.   With five races in the Sunshine Series, I look forward to seeing you there.   The next one is the San Pasqual Valley Half Marathon/10K on February 17, 2018. 

How did your 2017 race year go?

Until next time, happy running.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Ray Miller 50K Recap

Late last year, I decided I wanted to try running an ultra race.  I ran a marathon in February 2016 and frankly, I didn’t enjoy the experience.  Once I started trail running, the idea of running a 50K (or longer distance) was much more appealing.  My original plan was to run Leona Divide in April but life happened and I had to postpone my first 50K, so I signed up for the Ray Miller 50K.

In October, I had a last minute opportunity to run the Lake Hodges 50K and I am so glad that I did.  During that race, I was able to learn some opportunities that I have with hydration and find out how my body would handle the 50K distance.  During that race, I also made plans with Jenn and Vanessa for Ray Miller.  They were both also signed up for it, along with Alexis, so we decided to carpool and room together.

Traffic Views
The race was on a Saturday (I love Saturday races!) so we headed up to Malibu on Friday afternoon.  The traffic wasn’t great but it wasn’t awful either.  (You never know what you’re going to get with traffic in the Los Angeles area)  The company was great and the views were amazing so the trip went by rather quickly.  After checking into the hotel and getting dinner, it was back to the hotel to get some sleep for the early wake up on Saturday morning. 

#FlatJenn and all her essentials

The Ray Miller 50/50/30 offered a 50 mile race, a 50K race and a 30K race.  We were all running the 50K which started at 6:30am.  We arrived around 5:30am to check-in, get our bibs and do all the last minute race stuff. 

Let's Do This!
Starting at the Ray Miller trailhead in Point Mugu State Park, the 50K promised a lot of hills with amazing views.  It did not disappoint.  I stayed with Jenn, Vanessa and Alexis for about the first ten miles of the race as we sang and entertained our way through the course.  At one point, I heard someone refer to us as “Team Rocket” because of our Orange Mud hydration packs.  As much as I was having with them, I knew eventually I would fall behind and start running my own race.  During the Lake Hodges race, I dealt with some bad leg cramping issues so I was focused on upping my hydration and listening to my body.  This course was also a lot more technical and challenging than any trail I’ve run before—I knew that listening to my body would become the most important thing.  

Elevation! (They call it "Hell Hill" for a reason!)

When I run longer distances, I try not to think about how many miles I have left.  Instead I try to think about how much longer to the next aide station.  This is the second Keira Henninger race that I’ve run and she runs a very organized, put together event.  Every aide station was fully stocked and the volunteers were amazing!  The course is very well marked, with either signs or ribbons leading the way.  I never once felt like I might be going the wrong way.

The pink ribbon meant I was going the right way
This course is one of the prettiest I have run—with views of the ocean or mountains, no matter where you looked, you were surrounded by beauty.  It was also challenging, with a lot of single track and brush to deal with.  The elevation was no joke and my legs are definitely feeling it the next day.   Although I did have some leg cramps, they were easily walked off and I know as I continue to run the longer distances, I can try to figure out what is causing that.  My overall time was not what I had hoped for, but I am happy with my race.  I felt strong; stronger than I did at the 50K I ran in October.  Looking back, there were parts that I hiked that I probably could have run but I know at the time, I gave it everything I had in me in the moment.  I listened to my body, I stopped to enjoy the views, made friends along the way, cursed my way up “Hell Hill,” and ran the race I had in me. 

In awe. So pretty!
 At the end of it, the Ray Miller 50K is one of those races that I said, “I liked that race.  I want to do it again.” Overall, I’d call that a win.  Sometimes the race is more than the time on your race—this was one of those races for me and I loved every second of it.

Running with friends is better!
 What has been one of your best races, regardless of time?
Until next time, happy running.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

2017 Holiday Gift Guide for Runners

It’s the most run-derful time of the year which means it’s time to start your holiday shopping.  I usually wait until the last minute, but this year I’ve vowed to start early.  To help me do that, I’ve made a gift guide for all the runners in my life (and a list of things I secretly want myself)
Hurts So Good
Recovery  is an important part of running.  If you’ve ever had the chance to try Rapid Reboot recovery boots, you know how amazing they can be.  The only downside? The cost.  But they are definitely worth it. 
Their Own Personal Cheerleader
I don’t mean the kind of cheerleader you’d find on the sidelines of Monday night football- I’m talking about the kind the can take anywhere they go.  If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll often see pictures of my Momentum Wrap bracelets—they’re the perfect pep talk during my runs.  These were on my list last year and made it again this year because of the new SPARK boxes—with four options to choose from, there’s something for everyone. 

Stocking Stuffers
It’s no secret that I love ProCompression socks and I #KeepItTight whenever I run.  This time of year, they have some great deals.  Not only do ProCompression socks offer the benefit of compression for running and recovery, they have the best colors and designs.  I’m also loving the “Lifestyle” line for everyday wear.  (And for Cyber Monday, they’re offering two pairs of marathon socks for $40.00 when you use the code BFCM)

Gifts That Give Back

Run Far Trucker Hats
I love a good trucker hat and Run Far trucker hats fall into that category.  Simple in design, they come in a good selection of colors and are quality hats.  The best part about them?  All the profits of items purchased from Run Far go to provide educational scholarships for children of fallen service members who have committed suicide.

Gift Cards

How does a gift card give back? Simple.  Get one to your local running store—not only are you helping a small local business, you’re giving the runner in your life an experience that they won’t find in a big box store.  Local running stores will give them the personal shopping experience and knowledge they deserve. 

For the Runner Who Isn’t Running

Red Horse and Co.
I am a big fan of “arm candy” and earlier this year I discovered Red Horse and Co.  She makes beautiful bracelets and necklaces—her site has “pre-made” ones or you can special order the colors and sayings you want.  The bracelets are so comfortable—I forget that I’m wearing it when I have it on.  I love that I can bring running with me in my non-running life with these bracelets. 

It’s The Thought That Counts
My favorite gifts are the gifts that come from the heart—it can be as simple as a note on a Post-It or simply finding time to do something I like to do.  Sometimes it’s easy to forget that runners do things other than run—as you think about the runner in your life, think about the other things they like to do. If you can't think of anything, offer to go for a run with them.  I promise any miles run with someone they care about will be better than any other gift.
What are you wishing for this year?
Until next time, happy running.



Sunday, August 13, 2017

#Run4AllWomen California Recap

Earlier in the year, I started seeing posts on social media about #Run4AllWomen and I was intrigued.  One of #Run4AllWomen’s  guiding thoughts is “resist the status quo and work tirelessly to advance the conversation around women's issues.” As a woman and as someone who believes that women’s rights are human rights, this cause spoke to me.  When one of my Instafriends, Whitney, announced that she has been selected as an ambassador for #Run4AllWomen and that there would be a Southern California run, I knew I wanted to be involved.  

The Southern California event would take place on a Saturday, running from Encinitas to Chula Vista or forty miles.  The event was to benefit and raise awareness for Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest. Whitney and the her partner in the race planning and fellow #R4AW ambassador, Amy, had broken the 40 miles into legs so that runners (and walkers) of all levels could participate.  When registering for the event, I couldn’t decide how many legs I wanted to run.  After some internal debate, I decided to sign up for all the legs—I was going to attempt to run 40 miles.  

Prior to this event, I had never run a distance more than 26.2 miles.  A part of me was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to complete all 40 miles, so I told very few people.  I rationalized that if I didn’t tell people, it would be easier to accept if I didn’t make it.  Since very few people knew, that also meant that very few people knew I was in taper mode the week leading up to the event.  I was definitely cranky—I’m sorry for what I said during taper mode. (If you’ve ever tapered, you know what I’m talking about.)

This recap is going to be a little different than my usual race recaps—I had such an amazing experience and I’m still on my runner’s high, that I can’t quite contain my thoughts.  So I’m just going to talk about all the things I loved about this event.

The Organizers
Amy and Whitney did an amazing job organizing this event.  From planning a route that would be runner friendly and safe for us, to pre-event fundraising events and communication, they were on top of everything.  If you’ve ever planned an event, you know it can be stressful. Although I’m sure there were times they were stressed, they never let it show.  Their enemy was contagious and you couldn’t help but want to be involved.  

We ran 40 miles! Amy and Whitney are amazing!
The Event Volunteers
I can’t express in words how incredible all the volunteers were during this event.  Marc and Mike were with us for all 40 miles, following us in a van making sure we had water, fuel and anything else we could need at each leg stop.  Each leg stop also had other volunteers with signs, supplies and plenty of smiles & encouragement. During the first half of the event, a volunteer named Rachel followed along, holding up signs and honking as she drove by, checking on all the runners, making sure we were okay and didn’t need anything.  I wish I had the names of all the volunteers—there is something about a group of people who will give up their time on a Saturday to support a group of runners.  I am so grateful for everyone who came out to support us.

Mile 17 Aide Station

The Runners
Throughout the day, 50-60 runners made their was from Encinitas to Chula Vista.  Some ran a couple legs, some ran double digit miles and three of us ran all 40 miles.  During that time, we laughed, we cried, we loved and we supported each other, all running with a purpose.  Each milestone was celebrated.  A runner, Lisa, had never run more than 13 miles—she can out and ran 17.  How awesome is that?!  When Amy and I went past 26.2 miles (the furthest either of us had ever run) you can bet we stopped, high fived and celebrated.  When a runner looked like they were struggling, another runner would fall behind to check on them.  When a runner looked tired, another runner would give them a pep talk to keep them going.  I believe that runners are amongst the best types of people and this event just confirmed that for me.  

The first leg runners

The Finish Area
The love bubble and energy continued at the finish area.  There were more volunteers there cheering the runners in as they finished.  There was music and post run snacks.  (And the best ice cold Coke I’ve ever had thanks to Mick from Movin Shoes who also saved me at mile 20 by bringing me some salt) There was post-run yoga led by Mady who did an awesome job in helping us stretch and getting centered.  As tired as everyone was, you could feel the positivity.  

I had such an amazing experience during the #Run4AllWomen California event.  When I started my running journey, I never imagined that I would be participating in something like this.  I ran 40 miles—it’s the next day and I still can’t wrap my head around it.  It’s an amazing feeling to know that you are capable of something like that.  I know without a doubt that I wouldn’t have been able to do it without being surrounded by this amazing group of people (and my virtual race crew who sent me message throughout the day).  This experience reminded me why I fell in love with running and I will forever be grateful for it- my heart is full.  I can’t wait to see what they do next year.  


Have you participated in a run that’s changed your life?

Until next time, happy running.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Trekz Titanium Mini Review

Disclaimer: I received the Trekz Titanium headphones from AfterShokz  for review in conjunction with FitApproach and SweatPink. All opinions are my own.

I stopped listening to music on my runs sometime last year—although I love listening to music, I wanted to be more aware of all the other sounds around me during my runs.  When I read about the bone conduction technology used in the AfterShokz Trekz Titanium headphones, I was intrigued.  When I had to opportunity to try them out, it was a no brainier.  There are two different sizes, regular and mini, and based on their guidelines, I opted for the mini.   I loved all the colors and couldn’t decide—after texting a few friends to get their opinions, I decided on the pink. 

How do they work?
The AfterShokz headphones work with bone conduction technology.  According the their website:

"Bone conduction is a natural part of the hearing process—sound travels through our eardrums and bones simultaneously. We've taken the concept to the next level through development of a suite of proprietary audio technologies and design patents. The result: headphones that deliver unrivaled situational awareness and comfort.

Transducers guide mini vibrations through the cheekbones to the inner ears, delivering sound without plugging or covering them."

Put simply, you will "hear" the sound through your cheekbones, thus leaving your ears free to hear the other noises around you.  This allows you to #BeOpen on your runs or other fitness activities.

When I received the headphones in the mail, I was excited to try them right away.  After unpacking them, I charged them completely and set them out with my running clothes for the following morning.  

The headphones come with a case, charging cord and ear plugs.

When I got to my running destination the next morning, I powered up the headphones and they quickly connected to my phone.  I put them on, placing them over my ears, trying to get a comfortable position with my trucker hat and sunglasses.  These headphones fit a little differently than standard headphones or earbuds and it did take a bit of adjustment to make sure they were comfortable. 

When I used them on my first run, I was honestly surprised at how clear the sound was.  I truly was able to listen to my music and hear the other noises going on around me.  I often run at trails with mountain bikers and I found a level of comfort knowing that I would be able to hear their "On the Left" warnings or bells/horns.  The only downside to this was hearing all the wind that is normally blocked out by headphones that go into your ears.

The Trekz Titanium headphones use Audrey Says voice prompts and it was nice to have the connection confirmation with you turn them off or on.  She also gives you a warning when the need to be charged-- I was quite impressed with the battery charge.  The headphones are listed as having 6 hours of charge time, but I feel like I got more time than that on a single charge.  Over a two week time period, I only charged them once and I used them on ninety percent of my runs. When they are connected to my phone, a headphone icon with battery charge is displayed which makes it nice-- no one wants their headphones to die during the middle of their run. 

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the headphones.  I found myself using them more than I thought I would, although I do find them more comfortable when I'm not wearing a hat.  I even wore them a few times at home to listen to podcasts while I was doing chores-- there were times I even forgot I had them on.  The longest run I used them on was fifteen miles so I am not sure if the would start to bother me on any longer runs.  However, they are compact enough to fit into my Orange Mud pack so it would be easy to take them off and put them away during a run. 

I do a lot of trail running so I appreciated that I was able to listen to music and hear the critters around me-- it's snake season in Southern California and I definitely don't want to miss the warning of a rattle! They are also sweat resistant which is great for every type of runner, especially during the summer months. 

Want to win your own pair of AfterShokz Trekz Titanium? Find out "How to Have it Both Ways on Your Run" and enter to win here.

Don't want to wait to find out if you win?  Order you AfterShockz Titanium Trekz here- use the code SWEAT at checkout and they'll send you a free stainless steel water bottle with your order.

What type of headphones do you run with? 

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...