Monday, January 22, 2018

Athlinks - Something For Every Type of Racer

I'm writing this post as a BibRave Pro. Check out BibRave.com to read and write race reviews!




Before I tell you a bit about Athlinks, the largest database of competitive endurance athletes in the world, and why I love using it, let me give you a little insight into what kind of racer I am. 

I'm All About that Place
  
When I decide that I am going to run a new race, do you know what the first thing I do is (after checking the date and price that is)? I scope out the competition. I go straight for the results page, sort by age groups and try to determine if there is any chance in heck of me placing. See, I am what I would consider a solid mid-pack runner, but sometimes, just sometimes I can pull off a placing depending on the size of the race. In 2017 I managed 4 placings, all 3rd place (one was 3rd Overall Masters, so there's that) but 3rd place is still placing! I also managed several 4th places, which let me tell you is just the freaking worst. I'd rather be ANY other place than 4th. But I digress... 


So what does this have to do with why I adore Athlinks? Well, Athlinks does all the leg work for me when doing race results research. When I sign up for a new race, I can simply log onto Athlinks, pull up that race and bam, prior year results are listed. Plus, you can easily filter the results right there in Athlinks in order to check out your particular age group. So much easier than having to go from race site to race site. It's all here in one place for you! 



Results for the 2017 Tobacco Road Marathon.
Drop down menus let you search specific distances and age groups easily


Not only that, I can follow my friends on Athlinks to keep track of how they are doing comparatively as well. For example, I have a friend who she and are both pretty competitive. We have a very friendly rivalry going on as we are similar paces and run a lot of the same races. Maybe, just maybe I suggested that she join Athlinks for the sole reason of setting her up as a rival to compare our records for races. And maybe, just maybe it's so I can brag about that time I beat her by 10 seconds. I mean, if I was the type of person who would do that sort of thing. 

 
Turns out I am that kind of person... 

And while being able to easily stalk results is my favorite feature of Athlinks, it is by just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cool things the site offers. 


Maybe you the kind of racer who likes to keep track of their PRs? Athlinks tracks your Personal Records for each distance for you. 

Stay tuned... Many of these numbers will be changing this year!


Maybe you're are a more social racer who likes to know who will be at your upcoming races or where your friends will be racing. You can join and view the Start Lists for all of your upcoming races. Athlinks will even suggest people who you may know to follow based on your location and race history. 

The Start List for my next race - Hot Chocolate Atlanta. Planning to be there? Add yourself.


You can access Althinks both online on your computer or via app available both on iOS or Android. All of the features mentioned here are available on both formats. Not only does Athlinks track and post results for running, but also a variety of other endurance sports such as, triathlon, swimming, cycling, mountain biking and more. Like I said, truly something for ever type of racer.


So what kind of racer are you? What feature of Athlinks do you find most intriguing?


And make sure to follow me here - https://www.athlinks.com/athletes/273600089


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Race Reviews - Blast from the Past


I've been pretty terrible about posting my race reviews this winter and plan on spending the week catching up. So far I have posted on BibRave 2 of the 5 that I have yet to get to and hope to have the remainder done soon. Feel free to swing over there to see recaps of November's Insane Inflatable 5K, December's Reindeer Romp 5K, (which are already posted) and December's Santa Run 8K (which will be posted by tomorrow). I will also be posting reviews there of the Baxter Trail Club New Years Day Gnome Run 5K and Joe Davis Run for Recovery 10K, but will go into a bit more detail on these two races, both from this month, below.

Let me preface this with that there is going to be a fair amount of whining about cold weather in these reviews. Yes, I know it is winter, yes, I know winter is supposed to be cold, but ya'll, I live in SC and it is not usually THIS cold here, especially this early and for this long. We typically get one really really cold snap in February and everything else is fairly mild. I've done Christmas Eve and New Years runs in shorts before. One year I even went searching for a a Christmas themed tank for a Christmas Eve run. But this winter, HOLY FROZEN SNOWBALLS it's been cold!!!
I actually don't look like I'm dying here

For the Baxter Trail Club New Years Day Gnome Run 5K, which starts at 11 am, the temperature at the start was a balmy 25 degrees. And since this race was on trails which means in the woods which means trees which means no shade, it never really warmed up over the course of the run. I could have been worse, I had a few friends that were tackling the 18K distance (no thank you), so I couldn't complain too hard. I had on fleece lined tights, a thermal shirt, a lined coat, head band, hat, knee high socks and fleece gloves. While all this gear kept me pretty warm during, I do wish I had a 2nd pair of sock on. We were able to wait inside the Baxter Village Community Center prior to the race which was nice and outside there were several warming lamps and fire pits set up. The race was on trails which were pretty technical in some places, up hills, across roads, gravel areas and wooden bridges. I've run more on these trails over the past year, so I almost know where I am going. Almost. 

Goal Accomplished!!
I came into the race with a specific goal in mind. I was going to place. I had come in 4th the last 2 years in a row, and darn it, this year I was going to place! Well, if you read my previous post, you know I DID!! Despite the fact that I took a wrong turn up a hill at one point (oops) I still managed to get a 3rd placing. Although I checked the times and I only missed 2nd by 6 seconds!!!!! so that wrong turn dearly cost me as it added on about 30 seconds to my time. I know who it was that just beat me and yes, she totally passed me when I went the wrong way. I thought she might be in my age group so I tried my darnest to catch back up to her, but alas, I couldn't quite do it. At least I have a goal for next year. 

After the race we were treated to yummy food from Legal Remedy Brewing (traditional NYD  fair, BBQ, greens, pinto beans and corn bread) and my friend Nick had his coffee stand our giving out free coffee which was sorely needed. Legal Remedy and The Grapevine were also giving out beer and wine respectively. Immediately after the race I changed into drier clothes knowing the cold would hit me as soon as I stopped moving and settled in to eat and wait for the awards. My 3rd placing scored me an adorable race pint glass and I even won a door prize bottle of wine. Love this race  and will sure do it again, I just hope that it is above freezing next year.

Could I be wearing any more clothes?
Just 6 days later I had my next race, the Joe Davis Run for Recover 10K. And guess what... IT WAS EVEN COLDER! It was 13 degrees at the start of the race. 13!! That is the coldest I've ever run in, let alone raced in. But hey, never quit, right? So I showed up promptly 30 min before race time and sought out my friends to have a pre-race session of what the heck is wrong with us that we are here in this weather. Last year my Joe Davis goal was to qualify for the Fleet Feet Sports Racing Team (which I did). This year my goal was to not freeze to death. All thoughts of PRing this were gone as I could barely move in the amount of clothing I was wearing. My outfit consisted of a pair of tights under a pair of wool leggings, a thick pair of socks under knee high compression socks, a thermal under a lined jacket with a vest on top, fleece headband with a fleece beanie covering, knit gloves with fleece gloves over them and a neck gaiter to cover my face. All in all, it was about 5 lbs of clothing I think. 

The course for the race starts in Walter Elisha park in downtown Fort Mill, an area that is surprisingly hill. The race has both a 5K and a 10K where the 10K is simply the 5K route run twice. There is a fair amount of weaving in and out of the park before you hit a concrete trail though the woods and then weave around the surrounding neighborhood before coming back to the park. There is a lot of uphill climb in the last mile with one really big hill close to the end, but I train in Fort Mill primarily, so I'm no stranger to the terrain. And with the course being a loop, I had actually warmed up a bit and after the first lap, tossed my vest and fleece gloves in a bush to recover after. This course is actually my 10K PR, but like I said, not this year. And truth be told, I was only 2 minutes slower even with the cold and layers. I felt a lot better than I expected while running it and even got talked into tacking on 2 more miles with a friend after. I mean it HAD warmed up to 18 degrees by then. Why not?


So what's next? I have a few weeks off before I my next 2 back to back races Feb. 4th and Feb. 10th - both of which are Hot Chocolate 15Ks. I can't wait to run these and get me a sweet finisher's mug at the finish line. Want to join me? You can register at hotchocolate15k.com and also get a free Hot Chocolate Hat for Atlanta use code - BRHCATL18 and for Charlotte use code BIBRAVEHCCHAR18. I received entry in the Atlanta race as a BibRave Pro. I'm pretty excited as me and my girl Barking Mad About Running are road tripping it!


After that, it is Half Marathon time - March 18th at the Tobacco Road Marathon and Half Marathon. This will be my first year running this race and I'm pretty excited. You can join me by registering at http://www.tobaccoroadmarathon.com/ and using the discount code BIBRAVE1 to save $20 off your registration. I received an entry to this race as a BibRave Pro.

So what is next up on your race calendar? Tell me in the comments. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Year End Wrap Up (a few days late)


My mother is fond of telling me that I was born early and have been making up for it ever since by being later for everything else. It used to bother me. I used to insist that I had lots of great excuses for being late. I would change and somehow magically be one of those people who have their stuff together and are able to make it not only on time for things, but *gasp* early for stuff. 

But since I turned 40, I think I've come to accept that someone who is late (not really really late, but if I'm supposed to be there at 6:30, plan on me being there at 6:30:59). 

With that said, here's a quick 2017 year end review - a few days late...


2017 was an OK running year for me. I had a few setbacks, but lots of successes as well. I wasn't as consistent as I should have been and definitely have more work to do going forward. Let's break it down.

2017 Setbacks

17 Races Achieved in 2017 - Didn't even plan that! 
  • Lower mileage year - in 2016 I ran 1100+ miles. 2017 I only hit 836
  • Only 2 half marathons - I had been increasing by 1 each year, should have run 4 in 2017, but only ran 2
  • 3 4th place finishes - 4th is really the worst place, esp 2 of those I was convinced I'd hit at least 3rd
  • Missed a week of training in Feb due to the flu. Then I ran a race not fully recovered and went straight back to bed for another few days
  • Missed over a week of training in Oct due to wisdom tooth removal. Also still have nerve damage issues in my face that are SLOWLY (very slowly) improving
  • Missed a week of training in Nov due to Disney trip and cold. I planned to run some in Disney, but when I got a cold on the trip, there was just no way I had the energy for full days in the parks and early wake ups for running.

2017 Successes
  • Qualified for Fleet Feet Sports Racing Team
  • New 10K PR
  • New Half PR
  • Chosen as BibRave Pro
  • Chosen as Run & Ride Series Ambassador
  • 3 medal placings - 1 half and 2 5K
  • Launched Twitter (786) Instagram (600) and Blog
  • Ran 17 races
  • Ran 836 miles
  • Joined Burn Boot Camp to incorporate more cross training into my plan.
Not too shabby if I do say so myself. So what is on deck for 2018? Here are my goals main goals for this year -


2018 Goals* 
  • Run 1009 miles - me and a friend are splitting 2018 miles
  • Run 18 races
  • Place in 4 races
  • 1200 Twitter followers
  • 1000 Instagram followers
  • Run 4 Half Marathons (Tobacco Rd., Kings Mtn, Run & Ride, Rock n Roll Savannah) with a new PR in at least 1
  • Do an Obstacle Race (Warrior Dash) 
  • Renew as BibRave Pro
  • Blog more - 4 per month at least 
  • Keep a consistent training plan/journal (Using the Believe. Training Jou 
That should keep me busy! 

What about you? Let me know some of your goals in the comments below. And Happy New Year! 2018 is going to be a great one! 


*Please note that being on time isn't a 2018 Goal. I know who I am.



Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Winter Running Blahs


I hate being cold. Like really really hate it. I'm the girl who wears gloves inside and keeps a space heater in her office and runs it even in the summer. So let me tell you how excited I am for going outside during the winter months for a run (Spoiler Alert: NOT VERY). Seriously, I will happily run in 100 degree temps with a billion percent humidity given my choice over hitting the road close to the freezing mark. This winter has been particularly bad for me as I got rid of my Gold's Gym membership so no more treadmill option for me.


Such great advice. I ignored & wore 3 shirts and 2 bottoms
One of my biggest challenges I have is how to dress for winter running. I have no idea how to dress  myself in a way that allows for warmth without overheating after about a mile and a half. Seriously, 2 weeks ago I did a race where the starting temp was right around the freezing mark and I took to Twitter to request suggestions. And then I promptly ignored all that advice and ended up overdressing and sweating my butt off for half of the race.


I've seen numerous guides like this one that give all kinds of awesome advice, but deep down, I am just a winter running wimp.



I have to trick myself into running in the winter by signing up for races, otherwise I would talk myself into sitting out the cold. For example right now I know I need to get some miles in today. I cannot tell  you how badly I do not want to. I have some really great excuses lined up, but it comes down to I have to get some miles in or I will fail at my upcoming races. Period.


How I plan to dress for my next races
And those races are looking to be some doozies in the temperature department. Monday I have a New Years Day Trail Race - in the shaded woods - with a high temperature for the day predicted to be 36 (race time will prob be closer to 30-32). The next weekend I have a 10K that is predicted to be around 25 at the start. This is the same race that last year was postponed a week due to snow. 

So how about you? How do you survive outdoor running in the winter? Do you tough it out or wait it out? Let me know in the comments. Or, feel free to call me a cold-weather-wuss and tell me how you run barefoot in a tank and shorts in 4+ feet of snow. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Run to the Beat with Weav Run

Disclaimer: The WEAV Run app is currently free but I will be receiving a lifetime subscription in January 2018 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!


As I have mentioned previously, I am a runner that is all about her music while running. The more upbeat the better to help keep me going. Over the years I’ve tried all kinds of tricks to keep my pace pumping with the help of tunes.  Things like downloading special BPM (beats per min) mixes on iTunes to carefully cultivating special running playlists with music that I *think consists of a certain BPM. Sometimes I’m successfully, sometimes I come to a lull when a slow song creeps in and no matter what, it takes a lot of time to do.

So I was super stoked when I was introduced to the Weav Run app. It takes all of the work out of it for you and calculates your perfect run soundtrack. Basically, what Weav does is commissions dance remixes and using stems (individual instrument files) plus their special they adapt a song’s tempo to match a specific cadence anywhere between 100 - 240 beats per minute. And because they are using the individual song stems, the music always sounds great, and not just like a chipmunks version of a song.

So How Does it Work?

When I ran up this hill, I heard the music tempo slow
Pretty darn great so far. I’ve used Weav for several runs now on the Detect My Tempo setting where you just let the app track you and adjust your music accordingly. This way, I am getting some good stats on my base running BPM so when race day comes, I will be able to set a slightly faster tempo on the I Know My Tempo setting so I can try to match a slightly more aggressive tempo and hopefully push a bit faster on race day.

It was super simple to set up for the first run and walks you through the Calibration mode. It is very user friendly and provides a ton of data. You can even link it to your Apple Health data. (BTW, sorry Android uses, but the app is only for iOS at the moment).

I can attest that the tempo in the Detect My Tempo mode is pretty legit. On my regular lunch-time running route, there is a crazy steep hill. About half-way up it, I could hear the music starting to slow down – actual audio proof that I was slowing and it made me want to work even harder to keep the beat up. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something there inside me that was all like NO!! CAN’T LET THE MUSIC KNOW I’M STRUGGLING!!

I’ve been pretty successful in keeping my runs steadily in the 190 steps/min range and the more I use the app, the more consistent I feel about my running.


Some Other Insights

So far I really like Weav and will continue to use it esp for really dialing in my goal race pace. I’ve talked to several people both online and in person about this app and here are the answers to the most common questions that have come up.

Just a few of the current tracks
  • ·    Does if use your music? – No, like I mentioned above, the way the app works is by breaking down songs so they can be sped up or slowed down and still sound great, so you only get the songs that come with the app. Right now, that is 25 songs, but according to the folks at Weav, they have about 30-35 new tracks that they are in the process of licensing and will be dropping soon.

  • ·    What songs does it have? – Like I said, it only has 25 tracks, but they are enjoyable. A few popular ones, like the Imagine Dragons song, Believer and OMI’s Cheerleader plus some throwback songs like RUN DMC’s It’s Tricky (hell yeah) and OutKast’s Ms. Jackson. Overall, the music was pretty enjoyable and even for the songs I’d never heard of, I didn’t not like them and tbh, they tended to blend into the background with the focus being on the beat, which it should be.

  • ·    Can you use it on the treadmill? – Yes! They just recently released an Indoor Mode, however, I can’t tell you too much about it cause I don’t have access to a treadmill (Outdoor Runner, yo). As far as I can tell, it looks pretty similar to the Outdoor Mode for the I Know My Tempo mode (you dial up your Tempo and it maintains the beat). You can enter put in your time and milage and it will calculate a pace for you.

  • ·    Can you sync it with other apps? – Right now you can sync it with Strava and with Apple Health. I don’t use Strava (I’m a RunKeeper Girl myself) and when I mentioned this to Weav Help, they said they would look into a possible RunKeeper integration for the future (side note: Weav Help was super responsive, they want their users to love their app and it shows).


·    What else is on the horizon for Weav? – As I mentioned, they are working on an Android roll out, but this might take a bit to happen and they are focusing on perfecting the iOS version before expanding too much. Also, there is an Interval mode that is coming soon that will feature 9 different interval programs all driven by the music.


What Else?

Weav has been a really great company to get to know. They are super responsive on both social media and if you submit any feedback. They will also on occasion organize fun events like the current 30 Day Weav Run Streak and group meet ups via Facebook in NYC. You can follow them socially here-
 
Weav just released a new upgrade that makes it compatible with Apple Watch, which I use, but haven’t had a chance to try it out yet – the upgrade come out late last night, but I hope to try it on my next run. I did a quick trial (while in bed, lol) and everything seemed to look good.

Also, currently the Weav app is free to download and use, but they will be going to a subscription service in early 2018, so heads up on that.

Intrigued? Download it today and find out for yourself your person BPM pacing - https://itunes.apple.com/app/apple-store/id1128018936?mt=8





Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Run & Ride Update - DISCOUNT CODE INCLUDED

Just a quick update to my previous post about being chosen as a Run & Ride Ambassador

I HAVE A DISCOUNT CODE TO SHARE!

See this totally cute Snoopy medal? 




You can receive your own in 2018 (or one of 3 other medals for your choice of distance(s) 1 mile, 5K, Qtr Marathon or Half Marathon. 

And... you can get them for a sweet discount!
Use my Run & Ride Ambassador code for 15% off at runandriderace.com: RR-AMB-LiNy

Currently the  Valleyfair, Kings Dominion, and Cedar Point races are open for registration. Carowinds (my local race) and Kings Island will be opening registration soon!

#RunandRideRace
#runandrideambassador 
#ranthererodethat

Friday, December 15, 2017

Run & Ride with Me (and Snoopy)

So typically on Friday I post a training recap, so let me get that out of the way real quick. Training went as it has been going. A few runs here and there (not as many as I had intended thanks to the day that I forgot to pack a sports bra in my gym bag for a lunch-time run), but a decent number of miles including a really steady 6 on Sunday. I hit Burn Boot Camp for my obligatory 2 days - Monday (Push/Pull Tabata) and Wednesday (Cardio Core Chopper). Pretty much same ole same ole. I do have a 8K race on Saturday, so I've kept that in mind while training this week.

BUT...

What I really want to talk about is something way more exciting! 

I'VE BEEN CHOSEN TO BE A RUN & RIDE RACE AMBASSADOR!!



Basically, a race that I've been doing the past several years and love that I've been talking up big time anyway (see my previous post Run Around the Park) is making me an official part of the Run & Ride Team. I just got the email this morning, so I don't have 100% of the details yet, but pretty soon you will be able to get a sweet discount from me to sign up for any of the Run & Ride races (most Cedar Fair Parks host a race) in 2018 plus, opportunities for free entries and other free giveaways. 

So stay tuned to this blog (or my Twitter - see column to the right) for more information as I receive it.