Thursday, March 28, 2019

Thank you, Next

Okay, so I think I have finally recovered both physically and mentally from my Marathon. Physically, was actually not as bad as I thought it might be. Overall, I was good, with the exception of a minor muscle strain that had developed tibialis anterior well before I ran. I've been to a doctor a few times now for recovery treatment - electroshock, icing and rehab exercises - and that is going nicely. I've been give the go ahead to workout/run as I want to as long as I am smart about it (plus no plyo, which, I am 100% cool with). 

Maybe I'll now finally stop mentioning my Marathon constantly
Probably not though...
The mental has been okayish as well. When you have such a big goal for so long, you can kind of feel a bit let down when it finally has come and gone. Especially when, like me, you were not terribly happy with the end result. I am trying to focus on the positive aspect - I FINISHED A FREAKING MARATHON, and less on the negative - I didn't finish it as well as I though I could have. When it comes down to it, it is what it is, I cannot change the past so I am choosing to focus on the fact that I am a Marathoner. 

But now, it is time to look forward. More specifically, it is time to set new goals and start to work on those. 

In 2018 I set a metric butt-ton of goals. Those kept me hyper focused throughout the year and dare I say, a bit more stressed than I probably should have been, esp towards the end of the year (8 races in 2 month, yo). Then, I immediately rolled into Marathon Training with nary a moment to breathe. Needless to say, that was the only thing I could focus on, so I never really set any 2019 goals (other than, you know, the obvious Marathon). 

Now that those 26.2 miles are in there rear-view, it is finally time to set my (much more mild) 2019 Goals
Yeah, not even close... and I jumped to get up there

Goal #1 - Do a Pull Up
Despite my best efforts and 3 days a week of strength training (at least 1 of which upper body) I still have a pretty weak upper body. This year, I am determined to master doing a pull up. Just 1 is all I want to be able to do. Is that too much to ask for? To do this, I plan on never missing (if possible) Arm days and Back/Chest days at Burn. I will also attempt the bar every time I am at Burn, no matter what the training focus is. I have also added a pull up bar to my Amazon wish list. 

Goal #2 - 1000 miles -  Making the Miles Challenge
This one I've been working on and am confident I can reach. My local Fleet Feet Sports is hosting a 1000 mile challenge on the Garmin Connect app where at certain check ins you earn rewards: 50 miles ($7 in nutrition), 150 miles (socks), 250 miles ($20 gift card), 500 miles (sunglasses), 750 miles ($30 gift card) and 1000 miles (medal). The early marathon training really helped to boost my numbers and as of today (3/28) I am already at 364 miles. I am not going to say that this goal will be easy (still have 636 miles to go) but I'm well on my way. 

Goal #3 - Run a 2 hour Half
Heading back for 2019 to hit that 2 hour Half
This one is the real challenge for me. In 2018 I set 2 new Half PRs 2:07 and 2:05. For the latter, I didn't go into the race looking for the PR, but saw at around mile 10 that it would be possible. That late in the game, it was too late to bring it down much further, but I think if I train hard, and go in with PR mentality, I think I can drop my time for RnR Savannah. I have until Nov. to work on this one and this will be the main goal for the remainder of 2019. Heck, I will settle for anything below 2:00:59. There are a lot of things that will have to come together for this goal including more strength work (core especially), better nutrition (still a struggle for me) and maybe even enlisting a friend of my as a coach. I'll see where I am 20 weeks out for final prep. 5 minutes doesn't seem like a big difference, but it is!

Interested in joining me in Savannah? It was my very favorite race of 2018 - read more about my experience here: You can register with discount codes “19RNRBRP16” for $16 off half/marathon or “19RNRBRP6” for $6 off shorter distances. I will also be running the 5K on Sunday as well. 

Well, I think that is all that I am going to officially declare currently. I always have a few goals here and these on my mind, but I am trying to be more flexible and rediscover fun in my running instead of taking things so seriously. The last 6 months or so of running for me were more stress causing than stress reducing as it should be. I'm planning to race less and put less pressure on myself and see how that goes. It's pretty outside my character, but something's got to change or I will burn out to either stress or injury. 

So what are your 2019 goals? I'm sure you've set yours way earlier than mine, so let me know how it is going so far in the comments below. 

Friday, March 22, 2019

To Compress, or Not To Compress

Disclaimer: I received a pair of CEP 3.0 Tall Socks 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! 

There's a question that I see at least once per week on Twitter or Facebook - Should I run with Compression Socks? It's a question that can spark lots of debate with runners. Scientific studies have shown to be inconclusive, but in general, purely on anecdotal evidence, many runners believe that compression during a run helps them with muscle fatigue and for recovering much more quickly. Most agree that post-run, they are for sure super effective.

Me (and my BBB crew) post RnR Savannah - Wore compression socks,
bought from the Expo, got new Half Marathon PR. Coincidence?
For me, I use compression socks for long runs (those over 10 miles) and for recovery both. I suffered from reoccurring shin splints when I first started running and compression seemed to really help me. For the past 2 or 3 years now, I have worn compression socks for pretty much all of my races, all Half Marathons (and my single Marathon) and occasionally for shorter distances too. Maybe it is just the mental aspect of them, feeling the snug comfort brings a bit more confidence more so than actual science based reason, but for whatever reason, they do well for me. 

Color cooridination FTW!

Based on recommendations, I've tried a few different brands of compression socks, but my favorite by far are CEP. My local Fleet Feet Sports recommended CEP for me initially and they are the brand that I've been the most comfortable in. They fall into the category of a bit on the pricey side, but worth every penny - I try very hard to purchase quality items that cost more but last much longer lives and thus, cheaper in the long run. CEP are an ideal mix of tight, but comfortable. And they come in really cute colors - I currently own 5 pairs, each a different shade (teal/pink, black/grey, orange/pink - 2.0 tall, yellow/black - Trail Merino and my newest pair, pink/grey - 3.0 tall. 

Yup, just recently, CEP introduced the next generation of their Tall Socks, the 3.0. They are amazing. They provide even more precise compression exactly where your legs need it the most. They have also improved the moisture wicking and breathabilty of the socks ensuring that you will not overheat and stay comfortable. Perhaps the neatest (and most noticeable) improvement is to the is that the toe box is now designed asymmetrical, kind of how like toes actually line up. 
Photo credit: Holabird Sports

Post-marathon ride home
I wore two pairs of CEP socks just this past weekend and could not have been happier with the results. I ran my first ever Marathon (I may have mentioned it a few times) and wore a pair of my tried and true 2.0s for the race and wore my 3.0s for recovery for after the race. And you know what? The next day, when everyone kept asking me how I felt and if I was sore, I was reminded again and again just how good my legs felt. Like seriously, I kept thinking I should feel way worse, but pain (other than a minor issue that I had before the marathon) was pretty much non-existent. Sure, I was a bit stiff, but overall, I have to say, recovery has been awesome. 

You can check out more information about the new CEP 3.0 Tall Socks on the CEP webpage here: Also check out your local running store, I just go an email from my local Fleet Feet today that they are now in stock there. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

So Yeah, I'm a Marathoner Now

"Disclaimer: I received entry to the Tobacco Road Marathon 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!"

It wasn't pretty. I had a pretty rough last few miles, but I did it. Here's the breakdown -

This was my 2nd time running Tobacco Road, but my first time on the Marathon Course (I ran the Half last year). Man, what a great race. It is small enough to make you feel like you are getting individual attention with small touches like the RD shaking everyone's hand at the finish line, but large enough to be exciting.
On the Road to Tobacco Road
I drove in about 2.5 hours to Cary with the family and stayed at the host hotel for the Expo, which was super nice and had a few perks for runners like free reception the night before and free late check out for runners. The Expo was small, but well organized and a few cool things this year like a visit from Jeff Galloway who gave a talk and was gracious enough to chat with and take photos with anyone who wanted to. I'm always too self conscience for that, but two of my friends got their bibs signed and he greeted them like old friends. We got race specific tech shirts, which were an upgrade from the previous year. The Half shirts were lime green and the Marathon were a pretty teal. 

Perhaps my least favorite, and only real issue with Tobacco Road is the parking situation. There are really 2 parking options (3 if you count getting dropped off) 1 - purchase 1 of a limited number of parking passes and 2 - parking at a remote lot and taking the shuttle in. Pretty straight forward, but both require you to arrive by 5:30 am for a 7:00 am start, which I feel is a bit too early. I rode with a friend with a parking pass and arrived right at 5:30 where we sat in the warm car for 45 min before getting out to use the ample port-a-potties and looking for other friends. The BibRave team met up and took a quick picture. 3 of us were doing the Marathon (2 of us our first) and 3 the Half. We wished each other good luck and then split off. I lined up at the start about 15 min before the race and pacers were well positioned for both the Half and the Full distances. I found the 4:35 pacer and positioned myself well back, but ahead of the 4:50 pacer. Was hoping for an under 5 hour finish. 

Team BibRave  in the HOUSE (err... ROAD)

The first 2.5 miles of the course was on road and had a few hills. Nothing I hadn't trained for, but a bit hilly nonetheless. Both the Half and Full start at the same time and cover this distance together. I ended up catching up with a friend who was running the Half and ran with her until the split. When you arrived the trail, the Marathoners turned right, while the Halfers tuned left. The right trail was hard packed dirt for the first few miles, then half hard packed/half asphalt so you could choose which surface to run on. There were a few road crossings that we well managed by police and support stations heavily manned with cheering people and water, Gatorade, gels, and Stroop waffles. At mile 7 (and 11) there was a Mimosa station that had bacon too. You ran to about mile 9, then turned back to where you started, where you were at just around mile 14. Then you crossed the main road (well manned with police) and started on the Half course. This side was all hard packed. You ran to about mile 19, then turned back to where you came onto the trail. Just past the turn around point, there was a huge spread of all kinds of goodies - cookies, snacks a ton of stuff that I didn't stop to check out, but was super nice. There were several port-a-potty stations also along the course. Once you came off the trail, you made you way back to Thomas Brooks Park down the same 2.5 miles you came in on. I felt the hills a bit more the way back, but nothing terrible, just gently rolling.

Not my picture, nor the time of year of the race - photo credit: TrailLink.
But wanted to show the Marathon Course trail.
Not gonna lie, I am STRUGGLING here!
I am not going to lie, the course is a bit on the boring side. It is pretty much the same exact view for 22 of the 26 miles - bare trees on a straight path. I don't mind out and back courses with limited crowd support much, but if you do, this is not the race for you. The crowds that were there we at road crossings and were very friendly and super supportive. In fact, around mile 21.5, I was feeling rough. That wall is real people, and this really nice lady came over to me and gave me a hug and some encouraging words. It was super kind. By then I was had switched to intervals and was pretty sure that my goal of under 5 hours was not going to happen. I ran to the mile marker, walked a tenth, then started up running again. Those last few miles all I could think was get to the next mile marker. 

Lots of excitement at the finish that was a bit of a blur to me to be honest, but there was a beer garden, free pizza, water stations, chocolate milk and I'm sure lots of other things I missed. Tons of volunteers were on hand for anything you needed. And the huge medal was gorgeous! I plan on wearing it for quite awhile! At a very minimum, I am carrying it around in my purse and showing it to anyone who will stand still long enough. Seriously, look at this beauty! 

My husband and daughter were waiting for me at the finish (as was my run bestie - BarkingMadRun) all of who took pictures and video of me finishing. (Speaking of photos, I did remember seeing a photographer at least 3 times on course- once on the Marathon course, once on the Half course and at the finish). I tried to cross the finish line was as much cheer as I could, glad to be done, but still knowing I missed my goal by a few minutes. It was nice to get that shot of love at the finish and cannot say how happy I was to have them all there. I didn't really stick around to partake in all that the finisher party had to offer because I really really wanted to get in a shower back at the hotel before the drive home, and that meant leaving pretty much right away.

Overall, it was an amazing race for my first Marathon. Will I run another? ... NO. Not ever. People say never say never, but I am saying NEVER. Nothing to do with the race, Tobacco Road was amazing - I'd run the Half again and again - but I HATED training and running a marathon. It took up so much of my time, it felt like I was working a second, exhausting full time job in addition to all of my other commitments. It made running a horrible chore, and it probably didn't help that this was one of the wettest Winters on record. I spent so many hours cold, wet and miserable, that even though race day was perfect weather (thank goodness), I was just so over the whole process. 

One of the reasons that we challenge ourselves with great tasks is to learn about ourselves and I learned that I really do not enjoy running these longer distances. And you know what, that's okay. Different strokes for different folks, right? When my daughter was little, we used to tell her that if everyone liked the same thing, the world would be very boring. I'm glad I did it. I'm glad I set the goal, put in the work and proved that I could. Even though I missed my timing goal, (let's be honest, the REAL goal was to just finish, which I did) even though the last 4 miles were a DISASTER, I'm proud. 

I'm a Marathoner. I am one of the 1%. I am MIGHTY!

And here's another look at that beautiful medal! 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Marathon Bound: A Quick Look Back

"Disclaimer: I received entry to the Tobacco Road Marathon and access to the AfterShokz #262squad Marathon Training Experience on Motigo 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!"

It's almost time. Just 3 more days and I will be running my first marathon. Let's take a quick look back at the journey so far.

We started with Theoden memes, might as well end with them too

Over the summer of 2018, I somehow got the brilliant idea that I wanted to run a marathon. I figured, people keep asking me if I have and I am getting older, so if I were to actually do it, it had better be sooner rather than later. So, I decided to let the fates decide. If BibRave partnered with Tobacco Road Marathon again in 2019, I would choose it for my first marathon. I had enjoyed running the Half (read about it here) and even posted a Half Marathon PR at it. It was a great, flat, well organized race, so yeah, why not. 

Me at Tobacco Road after the Half in 2018. Technically,
I ran the 2nd part of the Marathon, which is the hardest
part, so should be a piece of cake, right?
Well, as you have figured, BibRave did partner with Tobacco Road and I registered. I was even given another awesome opportunity through BibRave on a super supportive, Beginner's Marathon Training Program through BibRave and Aftershokz through the #262Squad training on Motigo (check out more info about that here). Seems like all of the stars were aligning for my Marathon Dreams. All that was left was to put in the training.

Oh boy, what a training it was!! Practically every single weekend (and most weekdays in fact) it rained. This Winter was the wettest on record. I'm not even exaggerating. There were studies done and articles written like this one:
Oh look, a picture of me running in the rain. How novel.
At least it was warm in this one...

And do you know what an outdoor runner with no access to a treadmill does when it rains? They get wet. Really wet. Add in to that the fact that it was Winter, they get cold and wet. But still I logged the miles. Almost 500 of them in fact, no matter the weather. Using the #262Squad plan, I put in long run after long wrong, steadily increasing my miles over 18 long weeks. Though those weeks, I honed in my nutrition plan and hydration plan. I switched from a fuel belt (which never sat right on me) to a backpack. I practiced different outfits and ran over all the scenarios again and again. I never missed a single training run.
Along the way, I had a few local friends also sign up for Tobacco Road, which was such a help. 2 ladies from my Fleet Feet Running Club signed up for the Half and a guy for the Marathon. We'd put in our first few miles (whatever was on their plan) with the girls and then Harman and I would finish out our miles. This will be Harman's first Marathon as well. I could not have put in the long runs without them. 

Post-20 miler in the cold, wet rain. We're smiling, but we don't mean it.
Week 15 was a particularly challenging one. It was cold, and it was wet. Really wet. I rained and rained and rained. We split the mileage into 3 parts. 7 miles with the main Fleet Feet Club. 6 more with the Tobacco Road crew. Then the final 7 just Harman and I. I would have given up for sure that day without a squad. After the first 13, I removed 3 shirt (all totally soaked through) and put on 3 more (all of which got soaked through as well). It wasn't pretty, but Harman and I figured if we could push through that day, we were unstoppable. I hope we were right, because it's almost time to prove it. 

All there is left now to do is to enjoy it (so people keep telling me). The family is coming with me again to Cary for the race. We are going to try and make it a fun weekend where I just so happen to have to stop in the middle and run for hours and hours on end. I'm excited to see some of my BibRave friends there and again, it really is a great race. The medal is adorable and I plan to wear it for a week striaght. Plus, automatic PR when I finish, right? 

At leas the weather is looking clear, so I am choosing to think as I had in the beginning, this Marathon was meant to be run. Wish me luck. And if you'd like to join me, online registration is now closed, but you can still register for the Marathon at the Expo starting tomorrow (the Half Marathon is sold out, however). 

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Benefits of Racing Virtually

You ever feel like there are just way too many cool races out there, too many awesome charities you'd like to support and too many way cool medals out there to collect and not enough time or funds to travel all the places you'd need to go? 

Never fear - through Virtual Racing you can find the freedom to set your racing schedule to fit your needs. Here are 5 reasons why you should consider joining the ever-increasing ranks of Virtual Races, a community that is growing larger each year. 

1. Race on Your Schedule
The by far number 1 reason for running a Virtual Race is that you can race whenever and wherever is most convenient to you. The majority of Virtual Races will give you time frame in which to complete your race - typically either a certain week or even a certain month. This way, if you have a non-traditional schedule, say, you work Saturday mornings when most races take place, you still get to race and earn fun bling. Or, maybe you live in an area that doesn't have many local races, making it harder to compete due to travel costs. Virtual races let anyone race anywhere! 
Earn the same medals as those running the race in Texas,
from anywhere in the world! 

2. Earn Fun Bling
Virtual Races are a great way to to boost your medal collection. There are so many cute ones out there! Often times, you can even earn the same medals as those running the official race event. For example, the Zooma Race Series has virtual options for all of their events, so Virtual participants can earn the same bling as those who can travel to the event. Sound like something want to try out? You can register for any Zooma Virtual at a 15% off with discount code: ZOOMABR here:

3. Less Pressure to Compete
Some people love to use others to push themselves, but there are others that can feel intimidated at organized races. With a virtual race, you can kind of build your own experience. Want competition? Invite your crew to run with you. Running with others cause you stress? Feel free to run solo. You can really customize your own race experience to whatever is most comfortable for you. 

4. Support Some Awesome Charities
Most Virtual Races typically will be in support of a charity, which gives you a great way to support an important cause while getting in your miles. Because the Virtual Races do not have to  pay for things like municipal fees for closing streets and aid stations and so on, they often can donate more of your entry fee to charities. And you can pick and choose Virtual Races that support causes that are important to you. Go ahead, do a web search for a charity that you love and I bet you can find a Virtual Race to support it. 

5. Be a Part of a Huge, Supportive Community
Most Virtual Races have extensive online communities that participants can become a part of both before and after race events. Maybe you are more shy in person than you are from behind a keyboard. If so, getting to know others on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or on event websites may be just what you are looking for. These communities offer awesome support systems and encouragement that you may not have access to in the real world due to distance, time, or social obligations. 

So, ready to get started on Virtual Racing? There are tons of options out there. In fact, I am participating in a Virtual Race tomorrow for International Women's Day. The Zooma Women's Day 5K officially takes place tomorrow (though you can run your miles anytime during the month of March) and still has a few spots open. You can join by registering here: and I even have an awesome discount code for you: register with "RUNTHEWORLDBR" to save 10% on sign-up. Here's what you get with your registration! 

Let me know in the comments if you plan to join me out there on the Virtual Race Course! There are literally 100s of options out there to choose from! 

Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Zooma Womens Day 5K 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!