Friday, June 29, 2018

Moonlight Bootlegger Recap

I've mentioned on this blog before that I am a bit weary of trails, but have been making strides to be more comfortable on them. Running a few miles here and there on trails, dipping into the woods in the middle of a longer road run and so on. Each year I start the New Year off with a trail 5K even. I've gotten better, more confident, but I can't say that I absolutely love trails yet. Although I did finally graduate to my greatest trail challenge as of yet, the Moonlight Bootlegger 5K. It was an adventure that I was super nervous to do, but I'm always up for a challenge. 

I have several friends that have done this race each June and it seemed like a lot of fun. Basically, the race is a night time romp through the local Anne Springs Close Greenway. Prior to the Bootlegger, I've only run on this particular greenway once before. I know, not amazing prep, but I felt ready. I'm crazy like that. 

The race started at 8:55 pm, so it was going to be dark during the run. I was meeting several friends for this race so we arranged to arrive a bit early as there was no pre-race packet pick up. We wanted to have plenty of time to meet up, get our packets, run stuff back to the car, hit the port-a-potties and take some pictures before the race started. Everything was super well organized and I was excited to see one of the ladies in my run club volunteering at packet distribution. I love local races! With all that taken care of, we just had to wait until the sun set so we could head out into the woods. 

Run the Rockstars, ready to race!

So here's the scene... It is late June in SC in the evening, so you know it's hot. And humid. I'm honestly a bit terrified to be running in the woods at night. And there is going to be roughly 2.4 billion bugs out, so not ideal. Luckily I had my Insect Guard Buff to keep me nice and protected from creepy crawlies during the race. Seriously, this thing was a life saver. No bug issues for me at all. And I can't say the same about everyone. Not even kidding, after the race, a friend of mine pulled a TICK out of her BRA! HER BRA!! So big, huge thank you, Buff!! THANK YOU for a tick-free bra! 

"Disclaimer: I received several Buff products to use and review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!"

The race started exactly on time and we were off. The sun had just set so it was still a bit light, but the second that we hit the woods, the light disappeared. The race mandated that you had to have some kind of light in order to participate, so I had a pretty strong headlamp to light my way. The first half mile or so was on a pretty wide gravel trail so I felt like it wasn't too bunched up or crowded. The path was also lit by lots and lots of tea lights along the side of the trail which was really helpful. And any place that you may have confused for a turnoff was roped off which I really appreciated as someone not familiar with the trail. By the time we hit the more narrow trails, runners had pretty much thinned out into their own pace. I heard another runner pretty directly behind me and yelled to her to let me know if she wanted to pass (I have a tendency to flail a bit on trails, so I wanted to move over closer to the side if she were passing) but she said she was using me to pace, so we got to chatting throughout the race. 

Crossing the finish line
Trail pace is of course always slower than road, but I was feeling pretty good as these trails were obviously very well maintained. There were a few rooty areas and one crazy area that randomly had concrete stairs, which thankfully we ran up instead of down, and I only really caught my footing a few times. I did hear someone fairly near behind me fall but she yelled she was fine, so me and my new pace buddy kept going. Each mile was marked with a speaker playing banjo music (which yes, the organizers joked about during the starting info) and was a fun way to mark the way, especially since my Apple Watch wasn't tracking very well in the woods. We wound around Lake Hagler and then back out to the original trail we started on which I had not noticed on the way out how steep down it was, but trust me, I noticed how steep UP it was. Man, that last half mile was a killer. 

Finally, I burst out of the woods, back past the parking area and to the finish where each racer was welcomed back by name. There was a bluegrass band playing and Moonshine was being served (your bib had two Moonshine tickets on it) in two varieties - Peach Tea and Tropical Sunset and computers were set up so you could get your official finishing time. I was the first of my friends to finish, so I grabbed a bottle of water and hung out at the finish line cheering runners in. It wasn't until then that I realized just how hot and sweaty I was! I honestly could not have been wetter if I had gone swimming instead. Gotta love Summer races in SC! 

When a few more of us had finished, we went to get our Moonshine, I opted for the Tropical Sunrise which was very fruity and good, but also very weak on the alcohol, which wasn't a bad thing. I also found out that I placed 2nd in my division so that meant hanging around for the awards. The race always has really neat placement awards that are unique each year and they are usually really cool things like lanterns or neat bottles and so on. This year was no exception. We were given personalized growlers with our placement on them, so cool! 

All in all, it was an awesome race, and awesome adventure and I am so glad that I did it. Do I love trails yet? Not really, but each challenge that I overcome, I am getting more and more confident. In fact, I'm running trails tomorrow! And I am for sure taking my Insect Shield Buff with me to ward against any potential bra ticks. /shudder 

2nd Place Division! Woo hoo!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Camp Buff: Shoo Fly, Don't Bother Me

"Disclaimer: I received several Buff products to use and review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!"

When I first learned that I was going to be able to test out some amazing Buff USA gear this Spring on my adventures, one item I was particularly excited to try out was the BUFF UV Insect Shield® multifunctional headwear. See, here in SC, the late Spring and Summer are seriously buggy, like excessively so. Gnats like to hover all around your head, mosquitoes are everywhere and the woods, where I like to escape to the trials when it gets really really hot are just chock full of ticks. Having a Buff that repels all of these creepy crawleys without me having to bath in bug spray would be AMAZING, so I happily chose one of these amazing products to test. 

I wore my new Insect Shield® Buff for several trail runs and guess what, it worked like a charm! No bites, no swatting things while running, no problems with buggy bugs at all. Not only that, it was comfortable to wear despite the heat due to the fast drying, moisture wicking COOLMAX® PRO fabric. I was so happy with the performance of this product out in the woods, it got me thinking... You know, I'm not the only one going on awesome adventures this Spring, I bet my little one would really benefit from having a Insect Shield® Buff for her week long Girl Scout Camp. 

The camp was located out in the woods for a full week of swimming, hiking, crafts and other outdoor activities. And after that camp, she was invited to a special day of activities at another outdoor camp to celebrate being a top Girl Scout Cookie seller (over 500 boxes!) And the Saturday Camp Cookie, I got to attend as well. So, not wanting to share, I headed to the Buff USA website and let her pick out one of her own. She was super excited and the day it arrived, she insisted that I take her to the playground to try it out right away. She loved it. 

I dutifully packed the Buff in her day pack and hoped that she would wear it, sometimes kids don't exactly do what you ask them, even if it is in their own best interest (flashback to younger me taking off her winter coat the second that I was out of my mother's eye-line on the way to the bus stop despite being freezing out because it wasn't "cool"). So I was super pleased when a friend of mine, who was a councilor at the camp, texted me a photo of my little happily rocking her Buff. And while I knew it had performed well for me on my trail runs, I was super excited at the end of the week, after all of her adventures, my little had not gotten a SINGLE bug bite all week! 

On Saturday, it was my turn to join in the fun. Equipped with our Insect Shield®  Buffs, we had a long full day of one adventure after another. First up was swimming and boating on the lake. I made sure that tried out every option they had for us, including paddle boarding for the first time ever. I didn't fall in even once! Next up was a hike in the woods, followed by lunch, then a visit to the crafts cabin to make hula skirts and flower leis, then bouncy obstacle courses (though I skipped the water slide one since I didn't bring a swimsuit, the little did that one with much glee), then the snack and relaxation tent for temporary tattoos, coloring and fingernail painting, and finally, archery where my little one hit the target for the very first time! It was a super fun, super tiring day filled with a ton of fun, but not a single bug bite! Here's so pictures of our adventures.

All in all, the Insect Shield® Buffs performed over and above my expectations. Not only did they repel bugs, but they also are light and cool to wear and help block harmful UV rays. Highly recommend for anyone into outdoor adventures. 

You can become a fan of Buff USA too by following them on socials here - 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Gatorade Endurance Releases 2 New Summer Flavors

“Disclaimer: I received Gatorade Endurance  products to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!”

Growing up I was never really much of a Sports Drink kind of girl. Part of that came from the fact that I wasn't much into sports, I started running fairly late in life. I guess I always tended to equate these types of drinks, Gatorade in particular, as some kind of vaguely salty fruit punch that the jocks drank at practice. However recently, I had the opportunity to test out the Gatorade Endurance line and I have to say, my mind has been completely changed.

When I first had the choice of whether the try out Gatorade Endurance, I'll be honest, I almost passed. But then I thought about how Gatorade Endurance is provided at the aid stations at pretty much every race that I run, and while I pretty much only take water (cause you know, try nothing new on race day) I thought maybe I was missing out on something that could be beneficial for me. I mean, there has to be a good reason every race has it, right?

Gatorade was kind enough to send us BibRave Pros a packaging containing a 32 oz canister of Gatorade Endurance Thirst Quencher powder in their new Summer flavor, Watermelon. In fact, it was so new, that it wasn't even available to the public yet (more on this later). Also, they sent us 6 of their Endurance Energy Gels (an item I didn't even know they offered), also in their new Summer flavor: Mango (now available online). Both the Thirst Quencher and the Energy Gels are specifically formulated to meet the unique needs of athletes. The Thirst Quencher has 2x the sodium and 3x the potassium of traditional Gatorade while the Energy Gels have 20 g of carbs per serving and only 80 calories.

When I first opened the canister of Gatorade Endurance Thirst Quencher, the first thing that hit me was the intense Watermelon scent. It smelled so good! Seriously, when I took my Gatorade Endurance to track night later in the week, I kept opening my bottle up and making people smell my drink. It smelled that good! I also was surprised that it wasn't a bright red like I had assumed it would be. This was me again equating Gatorade Endurance with traditional Gatorade but I was happy to see that there was no harsh coloring. The container came with a scoop inside and easy to follow directions.  We also received a super cute Gatorade bottle with a watermelon on it which I used to mix up my drink. The flavor was really light and delicious and super refreshing! But how would it perform?

So if you've read my blog before, you may have seen that I live in SC. This year, we pretty much completely skipped right over Spring and went from a late Winter straight in to Summer. There was no easing into this year. It's seriously hot already. And since I try to hit the gym for strength training in the morning, that means I've been running in the afternoons when it is well above 80 and even 90 degrees out. Hydration is VITAL is what I am saying. 

The first run that I used my Gatorade Endurance on it was 89 degrees and sunny as heck. Let's put it this way, it was so hot out, someone in my neighborhood was making some kind of jerky in the windshield of their pickup truck. Not even kidding (I did say I live in SC). I was hot, sweaty and felt wasted after my run. That Watermelon Thirst Quencher tasted so good after! And I felt really great too. No stomach issue (always a fear when trying something new) either! 

The next night I took it to the track for speed work. 4.25 milles of 400s. No shade, direct sun, 6:30 pm so it was still hot from the day, but Gatorade Endurance had my back. The flavor is light and refreshing and it really helped me replace the electrolytes that were pouring out in my sweat. What can I say, I am a total Gatorade Endurance convert. Never again will I be hesitant to grab a cup of this during a race instead of the water. 

So where can you get it you ask? I'm glad you did, it just so happens, the new Watermelon Gatorade Endurance Thirst Quencher Powder was just released to their online store TODAY! You can order it by clicking here.

So in addition to the Thirst Quencher, I had the chance to try the Gatorade Endurance Gels in their newest Mango flavor. Now I am a bit of a snob when it comes to gels. I find that most I have tried remind me a bit of something between thick pudding or that gluey slime that my daughter likes to make. I packed some for my long run this past Saturday and at the 5 mile mark, tried it out. First impression, I was pleasantly surprised just how thin the gel was, not goopy like some can be. The mango flavor was really light and really tasty. I didn't feel the need to wash it down with water like I usually do with a gel even. And I for sure felt perked up after taking it. I will happily be adding these into my future fueling plans.

So yeah, I guess I'm a Gatorade fan now. Better late than never I suppose. Special thank you to Gatorade and BibRave for the opportunity to try out these Gatorade Endurance products. Coincidentally if you are interested in becoming a BibRave Pro so you too can have the chance try out amazing new products and races, Mid-Year Applications are being accepted now. Click here to apply -BibRave Pro 2018 Mid-year Application

You can also become a Gatorade Endurance Fan by following them on on their Instagram here - Gatorade Endurance

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Warrior Dash: Train and Conquer

Until a few months ago, pretty much the only exercise I did was run. After a few years of running only, as you can imagine I reached a sort of plateau. Running had done so much for me, I lost a bunch of weight, I made amazing friends and achieved more goals than I could have dreamed possible, but I knew that strength was an area that I was sorely struggling in still, so I decided to make that a priority for myself in 2018. 

And for me, in order to keep focus, I need some kind of goal to work towards. When I first started running, I signed up for a 5K so I wouldn't be able to quit. And so I wouldn't give up on the strength training, I decided to sign up for a Warrior Dash. The Warrior Dash is a 5K set in basically a mud pit with 12 different obstacles. This year's theme was the 4 Elements, so the obstacles were things like jumping over fire, crawling through muddy bogs, scaling tall structures and so on. Find all the 2018 obstacles: hereI recruited a few of my crazy friends, who were also working on their strength training, and we registered.

I swear, this is serious and necessary training
So our intrepid little group set out to do a variety of training exercises. Mainly, we were all members of Burn Boot Camp and made it a priority to hit up as many upper body strength days (there area I was/am most seriously lacking) as possible. Also, we planned a few fun little trips to a local playground where we worked on things like the Rock Wall, Monkey Bars and Obstacles. 

In addition to the strength, I trained running on trails more than I usually do as all of the running portions (5K worth) would be on grass and/or trail terrain. I do a few miles here and there at a time on trail, but it is another one of those areas that I would like to improve on. Unfortunately there are only so many hours in the day and you can't train for everything at once. 

During my training I was lucky enough to be chosen to test out a few Buff USA items that were extremely useful to me, specifically for taking on this adventure. Mainly, I used the Run Pro Cap  when training for strength and cardio (regular road running) and the Insect Shield Multifunction Headwear was a lifesaver when it came to training on trails. It rained pretty much the entire month of May and all that standing water left little breeding pools for billions and billions of mosquitoes (which I am pretty sure are the SC State Bird) so having a Buff that repels them was amazing.My only regret is that I would not be able to wear my awesome Buff gear at the actual event due to not wanting to ruin or lose anything in the mud. Just not willing to risk that for these awesome products. 

So, finally, June 2nd, Warrior Dash Day arrives. It's now or never and me and my crew are as trained as we are going to be. So how did my first Warrior Dash go?

So Clean, So Ready...

AMAZING!! It was an absolute blast. SO MUCH FUN! 

And I am proud to say that I had no issues on any of the obstacles! All my training paid off in spades. Heck, a few of us even did several of the obstacles more than once it was so much fun! Prepare for a big picture dump so you can see how much fun we had. 

Running from Obstacle to Obstacle 

Warrior Summit, So much fun we did it 2x 

Pallet Jacked

The Crew at the top of the Filth Element

Slogging through Under the Wire


Warrior Roast

We ended up being a muddy mess afterwards. I would totally do this again and in fact, a few of us are planning to up the challenge and sign up for a Spartan (maybe). 

Again, another special thank you to the Buff USA team and BibRave for the awesome gear that I used to train with and the inspiration to #LiveMoreNow. I could not have done it without these amazing tools. 

"Disclaimer: I received several Buff products to use and review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!"

Monday, June 4, 2018

Up the Mountain: King Mountain Half

On May 5th I ran the Kings Mountain Half Marathon. This was my second time running this race, so I knew going in a bit of what I was in for, however, the course was rerouted for 2018, so it was pretty much all new to me again. And let me just say, the 2018 course was crazy harder than the 2017 one! But like the race registration page says, this Half Marathon isn't so much a race as a historic battle! And the course certainly live up to that.

The weather was pretty nice this year, which was a blessing, since it was super hot the previous year. When I arrived to the Park, the temps were in the mid-60s and the sun was hiding behind the clouds. I am super cold natured, so I knew I was going to need something to keep me warm both before and early into the race. That's where I knew my Buff UV Arm Sleeves would come in perfect. 

I love arm sleeves. Nice and cozy warm when you need them, and easy to slide off and tie on to your fuel belt when you don't. They kept me nice and warm pre-race and were actually so light and breathable, I wore them for the first 4 or so miles of the course. When I started to heat up, I was able to slip them right off and tie onto my belt without even breaking my stride. Additionally, I am sorting my new favorite running hat, the Buff Pro Run Cap, which also offers UV Protection in addition to being super light, comfortable and moisture wicking. 

Not much to say about the actual running part of the race except that it was a beast. Lots of hills, of course, but the route also was on a pretty gravelly road for a good portion (about 8 miles or so of the 13) with some pretty decent rocks to avoid. I was a bit nervous on a few of the more sloped down-hills about hitting a rock and losing my footing, but overall, I ended up navigating the course with no real issue. I will say the last mile or so was pretty up hill, which seems cruel, including the very final stretch being a pretty steep climb. I pushed through for a running finish, but I did see several people walking the finish line. I always say that this race is more than just a race, it is an adventure. It's a challenge I love to conquer.

After the race for Kings Mountain is always a great time. I knew several of the runners and stuck around to cheer them on. A Boy Scout Troop does a cookout for the race participants of burgers, chicken, or hot dogs with chips, drink and dessert. While hanging around to wait for award presentations, I started to cool down again, so back on went the arm sleeves. Not only did they warm me back up, they totally kept my bare arms protected from UV rays. 

When all the numbers were crunched, I ended up placing again this year, 2nd place in my division! Plus, despite the tougher course, I managed to knock 6 minutes off my finishing time! 
Dorking it up Post-Race!

Overall, it was a tough race, but again, a challenge I look forward to each year. I will for sure be back to conquer the mountain again in 2019. Who knows, last year I was 3rd, this year 2nd, maybe I can pull off a 1st placing then! 

(Disclaimer: I received several Buff products to use and review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!)