Tuesday, November 14, 2017

39th Annual Great Pumpkin 5K Race Recap

I'm pretty late in posting this race review, but here's my review of the Great Pumpkin 5K Race I ran on October 28th.

This was my first time running this long-standing local race as there are just so many Fall races to choose from. The race is hosted by a local running club, The Rock Hill Striders, and all proceeds are given to a local food pantry,  Pilgrim's Inn. In addition to the 5K, there is a 1 mile fun run for the kids that is free.

There was not a lot of communication prior to the race, mainly because I believe mostly locals run this year after year so most runners already know the drill. I did ask a question of the RD prior to the race via email and got an answer almost immediately. I registered for the 5K and my little one did the 1 miler which I did it with her also as they were scheduled 45 min apart.

There was no pre-race packet pick up - all packets were to be picked up day of. The packet came with bib and cotton long sleeved shirt. The shirts ran large and the race had no problem switching my M for a S at pick up.

This race started on the campus of Winthrop University and therefore has pretty great parking access. It had a fairly late start time, 9 am, but with the Fall temps, the weather was pretty nice. The university is about 3 miles from my house, so it was a pretty quick trip to the site and easy parking. The race is fairly small, a couple of hundred participants, so I was able to find some of my local running buddies for some pictures pre-race. The start is near the former student center, which is now offices, and the building was open for races to use the bathrooms.

The course was a pretty nice one and one I run quite often, as I live very close by - starting just down from Dinkins Building, up Myrtle Drive, around the Winthrop Coliseum and back down Myrtle back to near where the start was. The course is officially certified with a couple hills, but not too many. Pretty easy terrain.

I had a pretty rough October, having to take a week off any kind of training due to having a wisdom tooth extraction a week and half prior, so it was not my best race ever. I was a full minute slower than my previous 5K, and tried to view it as a fun, easy local race for a good cause and not as a competitive one. As long as I get in under 30 min, I'm fairly happy and I did.

The kid's 1 mile started at 9:45 and ran straight down Charlotte Ave. for .5 mile and back. It was very informal, no registration or bibs, but the kids are really just interested in the running, so that works. There was a race volunteer at the turn around point cheer on the kids. The kids ran through the same finish area as the 5K and were each given a pumpkin shaped flashlight  which my daughter adores.

After the race, there was a lot of food options including bagels, fruit, chips, baked goods and even Halloween candy (how my daughter was able to eat candy corn immediately after running, I'll never know, but I passed on that). There were also several race sponsors and area groups with tables set up for a mini-finish-area festival giving out the standard stuff like pens, cozies and so on.

Awards were given out for Age Group winners which is fun to watch as the prizes consist of a variety of pumpkin shaped items that you can choose what you want as your award is called. I had a few friends that placed so I stuck around to cheer them on.

Overall, a great local, low key race that depending on what else is going on the same weekend next year, I will more than likely run again.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Weekly Rundown

I have always been really good about planning out my workouts (I'm a bit of an obsessive planner - seriously, you should see my Excel spreadsheets) but I am trying to get better at looking back on what I've done and how things worked out. So I've decided to start doing Friday Weekly Rundown where I look at what I did and how it went. So here goes.

November officially kicked of the 2017 Holiday Challenge on Facebook that I joined where you are supposed declare a certain number of points you plan to earn for the week based on activity (1 pt for each mile and 1 pt for each 10 min of working out). There is a neat little tracking chart provided. Here is my breakdown for this week (Week 2)

So far I am on track.

Monday I got up early for the 5:30 am Burn Boot Camp which was a partner day of Plyometric (ugh) and Leg Work. Remembering how terrible my knee felt after last time I did Plyo, I taped up first and was glad I did. Practically no pain this time! Yay!! Plus, the Rock Tape I got was just adorable and I got lots of compliments on it which of course is important, lol).

Tuesday I ran with Fleet Feet for their end of session party. After the run, the plan was to hang out at the Grapevine for a little social and eat Tacos. Rather than worry about a ride back, I parked at Grapevine and ran the .5 to the store which gave me an extra .5 on top of the 4 miles we did as a group. I ended up running a bit longer with Katie so to make up for it, I had her take a picture of my fancy new KnuckleLights in action which were super helpful on my first post-Daylight Savings evening run.

I was back up again for Burn on Wednesday morning, 5:30 am this time for Push/Pull mini-camp. This is where you form groups and rotate on a few different arm based exercises. Arm work is my worst area, so it was super discouraging for me, especially when I was unable to do a handstand. Yeah, 10 year old me would be super disappointing.

Thursday was originally supposed to be a run day (I changed it in the above mid-week) but it was really cold and rainy and I was a wuss about it. I decided to switch Friday and Thursday instead making Thursday Rest.

That takes me to today where I put in a 4 miler during my lunch break. It was an awesome run and I could have kept going, but alas, I had to go back to work. I did post some sweet negative splits though. The weather was perfect and I wish I had packed a lighter shirt and capris instead of long tights, but oh well, it was a great run anyway.

Normally my Saturday miles would be much larger, but tomorrow my Girl Scouts are doing a 1 mile race as a part of the Charlotte Marathon weekend and I am doing that with then. It is going to be super cold and hopefully the girls will still have a good time. Depending on how miserable my Jenna is, I hope to stick around and cheer on some of the other distances. I have a lot of friends in several of the races taking place.

Sunday I plan to hit the usual Riverwalk Trail and I have ambitiously planned a 7 miler (I did 6 last Sunday) but I may just do 6. I am ahead of the game according to my Tobacco Road Half training plan, but I haven't been putting in long runs since the tooth thing and feel like I should.

In other fitness areas, I am also doing a Planskgiving Challenge which I have kept up with (today is a Rest Day for that thankfully). I have also been sticking as strictly as possible with the IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) diet plan Kay from Burn put me on. I am still not hitting enough calories per day and I know this, but can't seem to eat any more and still either feel like it (thanks botched wisdom tooth - still no feeling in mouth) or hit my Macros (45% protein, 35% carb, 20% fat). I had a follow up Focus Meeting with Kay and I had lost 10 lbs in 3 weeks which she seemed excited about, but I still think is too much. I may self adjust those macros. While I wanted to lose weight for sure, I want to do it in a safe way, and not sure that is what is happening. Need to work on more calories. She has me down for 1300 and if I hit 1000, I consider it a good day (I've only had 1 good day this week).

Next week I kick off the Zooma Holiday Challenge also, so that adds in 3 more strength workouts per week.

And I also got my official re-invitation to join the Fleet Feet Sports Racing Team for 2018, so yay for that!

I think that is it. So what have you accomplished this week?

Monday, November 6, 2017

Fuel Up like Warrior

Disclaimer: I received Health Warrior Chia Bars and coloring book 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!

When you are a runner (or doing any kind of workout for that matter), it is very important to make sure that your body is receiving the proper fuel that it needs in order to perform your best. With so many options out there to choose from, how do you know what works best? Well for me, I've always found that natural ingredients are the key. 

I can't tell you how many different bars, gels and chews that I have tried over the years that have left me with an upset stomach mid or post run. I am sure there is something to be said for scientifically engineered blends, but for me, simple, natural ingredients are the key, and that is why Health Warrior Chia bars have found a permanent place in my fueling plan. 

First of all, the #1 ingredient in these bad boys is Chia. Chia has huge amounts of amazing health benefits despite their small size. They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, rich in antioxidants, and provide fiber, iron, and calcium. Plus they are fun to eat because they swell up in your mouth/stomach which works to make you feel full. And all the other ingredients are things you can actually pronounce and occur naturally. Those are real chunks of dried apples that you see in there. 

So anyway, as a perk of being a BibRave Pro, Health Warrior sent me two boxes of Chia bars - Apple Cinnamon and Dark Chocolate to test out. So we've already established that they are good for you, but how do they taste? Pretty great! I've been enjoying having one of these 100 calorie pick-me-ups right before my afternoon and evening runs and they are really good! And don't just take my word for it, my daughter was really into the Dark Chocolate Chia Bars (healthy and chocolate, yes please). Then my brother came to visit for the weekend and he had his hand in my box of the Apple Cinnamon Bars (my favorite ones) whenever I had my back turned. Seriously, the night he arrived, he ate 3 of them in 2 hours. Then the next morning, I found out he ate 2 more while I was making him a pre-race smoothie for breakfast!! So yeah, they're pretty good. 

You can order a 15 pack of Health Warrior Chia Bars on their website (https://www.healthwarrior.com/) for $15.99 or try the 16 ct. Sampler Box for $19.99, shipping is free for orders over $25! Or, you can find them in a local store by putting in your zip code here: https://www.healthwarrior.com/store-locator/ 

In addition to the boxes of Chia Bars, Health Warrior also sent me a really fun Marathon Training Coloring Book. This thing is a riot. It covers the A - Z the trials and tribulations of training for a marathon. It's been really fun to color (see below for a few of my favorite pages). 
I mean seriously, how cute is that Poop??!!

Want your own coloring book? Get yours FREE with the purchase of any bars here: http://healthwarrior.link/colorbookbr

Join us at 9 pm Eastern Time on November 7th for #BibChat with Health Warrior and a chance to win these bars for yourself!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Back in the Saddle - aka - Cancelling the Pity Party

Today is the day  that I start again. Well, technically yesterday I took the first step, but today is the day where all the pieces are back into place.

See a week ago today, I had my lower left wisdom tooth removed. It was impacted below the jawline so it had to be removed by an oral surgeon in the fun, cut your jaw open kind of way. I was told before the procedure I was off any kind of heavy exercise, running and whatnot for 5 days. That was a rough pill to swallow for me.

Me, looking pathetic right after surgery
Well, I'd love to say that things went smoothly from there, but unfortunately not so much. See my tooth was a stubborn little bugger and didn't want to come out without a fight. The doctor eventually won, but not without a bit of damage to the nerve that runs right below there. Long story short, today is Day 7 of not having any feeling in the front of my face. Well, no feeling isn't exactly right, sometimes it feels like crazy. But only randomly. Needless to say, I've been a bit down in the dumps about the lack of activity and lack of feeling in my face and have had pretty much a week-long pity party.

But that's over now. Time to get back to work. Numbness or not.

So here's where I now. Basically, the not being able to feel my front teeth thing has made eating an issue for me. Most form of chewing are right out as of now which has made it a challenge to eat enough protein and veggies without actually having to chew protein and veggies. I've had to been creative in order to get in the calories I need, and I'll be honest, I've been failing. I met with a nutritionist last week and she wants me to eat 1300 calories per day. I've been averaging around 700 on a good day. I know, not cool.

Yesterday I picked me up a big ol' container of Plant Based Protein shake stuff, almond milk and berries and made up some overnight oats and a smoothie. I also cooked up some chicken breast and blended it within an inch of it's life along with some celery, onion powder and mayo in order to make pasty chicken salad. I will attempt to consume these items today to hit my calorie count.

Meanwhile, I ran a pretty slow 4.5 miles yesterday at Riverwalk to get back into the swing of running. This morning, I did the Bi/Tri/Shoulder class at Burn. That felt pretty good. Had half the smoothie before and half after, and while typing this, I am working on the overnight oats.

Also, this morning I set my weekly plan for both workouts and nutrition. I've never been consistent with keeping a bullet journal, but I am hoping that this week will be the one where I can make it stick.

Mostly, this week I'm working to get back in the saddle of my active lifestyle despite my new normal. Hopefully the numbness is temporary. But there's no way of knowing at this point when or if feeling will return, so sulking over it any longer is not longer an option.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

For the Love of Chocolate

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Hot Chocolate 15K race 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!"

Ever since I have heard about the Hot Chocolate race series, I have always wanted to attend. The race jackets were awesome and who doesn't love being  handed a heaping bowl of chocolate at the finish line. Plus, I love me the 15K distance - it's super challenging but is over before things get really rough (mile 11 seems to be my nemesis). But unfortunately, despite being a large city, Charlotte, NC was never on the tour schedule. Atlanta was always close enough to race, but the weekend that the Atlanta race fell on was the same weekend as my daughter's birthday, which meant the only chocolate I was getting was birthday cake.
Soon you will be all mine!

Imagine my excitement when this year, the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K announced a Charlotte race! I signed up for the 15K IMMEDIATELY. I'm not even kidding. I got the announcement and clicked register. All that yummy chocolate and awesome chocolate bar race medal and cute jacket will be all mine this year! (Well, technically next year, the race is February 10th).

But wait, there's more...

Also this year, the Atlanta race changed dates and is no longer in mid-January, instead it is the first weekend of February. Not only that, I had just gotten accepted as a BibRave Pro which afforded me the opportunity to get a free entry. I had a tough decision - Do I dare run two Hot Chocolate 15K races back to back? Can I handle that much chocolate?

Ummm.. YEAH! 

So I've gone from being sad and not being able to do a Hot Chocolate 15K to doing two!! Not only that, I am road tripping to the Atlanta race with one of my running besties so it's going to be an adventure! I can't wait!

What about you? You want in on some yummy chocolate? I can sweeten the deal for you even. Use the code "BRHCATL18" for a bonus Hot Chocolate Cap when you check out.

To register:
Atlanta - https://www.hotchocolate15k.com/atlanta

Friday, September 22, 2017

I've Gone Pro

I'm so excited to finally announce that I have been chosen to be a BibRave Pro

What's that you may ask. Well, have you ever heard about a race but didn't know too much about it so you were unsure of whether you wanted to run it or not? Were curious as to how actual runners felt about a certain course? Wanted to find out was the SWAG Bag really worth the cost? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then www.BibRave.com is just want you need. There, real runners post their honest review of the races they have run rating everything from course terrain (how about them hills), parking, SWAG, communication and more.

I learned about BibRave from a fellow runner friend, (check her blog out here - http://barkingmadaboutrunning.blogspot.com/ ) who posted about it on Facebook. I checked it out and was hooked. See, I am a researcher. I like to know everything about a race before I run it. Helps with the nerves. Being able to read real race day experiences has really helped me immeasurably.

From there, I learned about #BibChat - a  weekly Tuesday night Twitter event where runners from all over get together to chat about topics, learn about cool gear and get to know others in the running community. I've made so many awesome new friends though these chats and learned about so many cool things. They also give away two items from a sponsor each week. On my 3rd #BibChat I won a free pair of Oofos recovery flip flops - see my previous blog about them here. Anyone and everyone is welcome to join - Tuesday evenings at 9 pm EST.

Anyway, back to being a Pro. Over the summer, BibRave announced applications were open for their ambassador program, the BibRave Pro team. I had gotten pretty involved with BibRave at that point posting several reviews, being involved with the #BibChats and just making friends with several community members. Why not, I figured. Worst case scenario, they say no and nothing changes. Well, they said YES and here I am. A Pro.

So what does this mean. Basically, I just keep doing what I've been doing, interacting with an awesome community, post my race reviews, be involved in #BibChat and learn about new awesome products. But as an extra bonus, I now have access to really cool race and gear discounts that I can share with you. To see these awesome deals, check out the two new page tabs at the top of the blog. They are updated periodically so be sure to check back on occasion.

So what's your next race coming up? Afterwards, be sure to share your experience with us at BibRave!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Holy Hills!!

First let me get this minor disclaimer out of the way - I am close friends with the Race Director of this race, which is just one of the reasons I run it each year. She's awesome, but that will not influence my review.

This year the St. Anne School Nun Run, a race to benefit the church school, was moved to Sept (it had been in the Spring in the past) to occur during the school's annual International Festival, which I think was a great decision and led to more exposure and race entries than prior years. Pre-race, there is lots of email communication and Facebook posting to keep participants in the know. Pack pick up was race day only and despite that, it was a quick and well organized process. The pick up area and race start were located across the street from St. Anne Church and there was plenty of parking at and around the church. I parked, walked across the street and waited only a minute or two to pick up my bib and cute cotton shirt (seriously, the logo is adorable and filled the shirt front with sponsors on the back). There was a large table with all the regular rack packet items - chap-stick, pens, coozies and bottle openers that you could help yourself to, all with sponsor logos, but I have tons of this stuff already, so I passed. A quick trek back to the car to stash my shirt and back across the street to the race start.

The race atmosphere was very festive. It was a smaller race but it was located about 2 miles from my house, so I knew a lot of the participants. Lots of showings from local running groups and of course much of the St. Anne Church membership. The race was free for children, so there were a lot of kids there as well. One local group, F3 was there in a large showing and had several local disabled youth that they were pushing in racing wheel chairs/carts so that was really awesome too be a part of. The kids were all so excited.

The race started at 8 am right after the National Anthem and a short prayer. One thing I wasn't so keen on for the start is that we started the race in a grassy field before turning onto a neighborhood road after about .1 mile. I'm notoriously clumsy, but managed to make it to the road without incident. I also am not a fan of races that allow dogs, esp when those with the dogs don't start in the back, but that may be just me as I have a slight dog phobia.

I swear I didn't mean those things, Susan!
Time for honesty. This was probably one of the most brutally hilly routes I've ever done a 5K on. Holy hills it was a rough one. And I literally ran a race with the word Mountain in the name. The course zig-zagged around neighborhood streets near the church for 1.5 miles where you then turned around and went back the same way. There was a water station at the turn that was well staffed, but I passed without water which is typical for me for a 5k. It wasn't any less hilly coming back either. Around mile 2 I saw the race director, who I may have said a few unkind words that I had to apologize for later. This was the second year the Nun Run followed this particular route as they had to avoid the local university area due to an event. Fingers crossed next year's race is able to route on Winthrop campus again and not on this hilly hilly route. There were ample volunteers on course who helped keep everyone's spirits up and more than a few neighbors were out in their yards cheering runners. I spent some time running with some of the F3 guys and their kid companions and was able to forget the rough terrain.

Somehow I'm not slipping on grass at the finish
The finishing mat was a quick turn off the road back onto the grassy field which again made me a bit nervous with the still wet grass, but was fine. Lots of people cheering at the finish. There was a huge table with cups of water and Gatorade. There was another table that was filled to the brim with all kinds of snack foods. I'm not kidding, it was the best post-race stocked table I've ever seen. Fruit of all kinds, bagels, granola bars, chips, crackers, cookies, muffins, you name it. There were several church ladies making sure that everyone got food and they were super sweet.

There were no medals with the exception of those who placed 1st, 2nd or 3rd in the following- Overall Male/Female, Masters Male/Female and in 10 year Age Groups Male/Female. The medals were super cute, color appropriate (Gold, Silver and Bronze) with the race logo on one side and the placement engraved on the back. Despite the rough course, I managed a placing (time 29:39), in fact, my first Masters placing since turning 40 a few months ago - 3rd place Masters Female.

Overall, great local race, great community and a great cause. Will for sure do it again, I'll just be keeping my fingers crossed for a route change.