Sunday, June 25, 2017

Pediactric Cancer Research Foundation Half Marathon

I'm very pleased at how well my body recovered from the LA Marathon, especially since I had the PCRF Half Marathon (March 26, 2017) to run just a week after it. I had very little soreness and no dehydration, unlike the last time I ran LA. I attribute this to my level of training and also using my Tailwind Nutrition in my water bottles. My goals for PCRF was to help raise money with my Team Renegade for cancer research, listen to my body and to run the race with friends.

This was my second year running the PCRF Half Marathon. I love what this race stands for and it meant a lot to me to be able to participate in it. On a personal note, a family member was hit with a rare childhood cancer out of the blue and she fought with everything thing she had to beat it. She is currently in remission but still has to have blood work done frequently and is closely monitored. Just like I did last year, I ran this race for her.

The race course took me by surprise last year! My town tends to be pretty flat for the most part but form this race I learned that there can be some pretty hilly sections. I had not expected some of the hills and slow building inclines. This year, with the help of marathon training, I came to this race better prepared. My running partner, who trained with me for LA, also got talked into running this half. Peer pressure from running friends is a very real thing :P We ran the race at a comfortable pace and made sure to keep ourselves hydrated. Of course we stopped along the way to take some pictures because that's just what we do.

The race starts (and finishes) at the local community college campus, runs down a local street and then connects over to the running/bike path. We then connected into a neighborhood that brought us to another running/bike path to take us over the interstate and towards Quail Hill, where I love to run the trails there. This race did not take us on the trails but up a rather big hill and headed towards another local college campus. After a few miles we turned to cut through another neighborhood and then jumped back onto the original running/bike path that we first started out on. This section tends to be a hard one, mentally, since you are running about half a mile past the finish area and then turning around to head back to cross the finish line. Each way we ran on the course there was always a group of volunteers cheering everyone on and making sure to hand out water and fuel.

Once you cross the finish line you are invited to stay and enjoy the activities and food trucks that they have set up. It's extremely kid friendly. The parking is easy to get in and out of with lots of spaces to pick from. They offer bib packet pick up the day before the race and before the race itself. The race distances consisted of a Half Marathon, 10K, 5K and kids run. I'm looking forward to running this race again next year.

I was rocking my Renegade Race Series visor, Orange Mud VP2, Tailwind Nutrition in both water bottles, INKnBURN Lucky tank and skirt, PROcompression socks and Topo shoes.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Redemption at LA Marathon

It was 2 years ago that I first ran the LA Marathon and it just so happen to be my first marathon ever. I did not stick with my running schedule and was not prepared both nutritionally and all the hills/inclines on the course. The weather was miserable with the temperature reaching around 99* and sunny skies. It was so hot that the race even started a whole hour early!! I needed a redemption this year at LAM and I GOT it!! My marathon time this year was 5:19 which was a PR of 1 hour and 14 minutes.
This time I made sure to not only focus on my training plan but also my nutrition. For the last 2 years I have only been using Tailwind in my water for all my runs. I seriously never run without it! Even if it's just a short run, I will put at least a scoop of Tailwind in my water. It has truly made a difference in how I feel both during and post runs. For LAM this year I used my back two bottles on my Orange Mud VP2 to hold 2 scoops of Tailwind in each. I had a soft flask with water in my front left pocket on my chest. I did not need to refill my Tailwind during the race but did refill my soft flask twice with water. I never had that bonking feeling and didn't have to stop to use the bathroom along the course. Unlike the first year I ran LAM, I spent a good chunk of time in the bathroom around mile 10 with stomach issues.

I absolutely love this race. It's a point to point race starting at Dodger Stadium and ending near the Santa Monica Pier. The crowd support is amazing! So many people are out cheering you on and providing yummy snacks along the way. Not to mention you get to see a bunch of touristy things all at one time and with no traffic!! This year the weather was near perfect! The downside to LAM this year was their expo. I just was not a fan. When you first walked in, there was the runner wall. Unfortunately they plastered Sketcher Performance sign in the middle of one section and my name was completely covered. They also had pictures of their ambassadors on the runner wall covering up other runner's names. Just not cool. The official marathon gear did not offer a great selection. The female shirts ran small, were SUPER low cut at the chest and most of the logos ran across the boob area. Lots of neon colored tops that were very form fitting and not a big variety to pick from. I LOVED the LAM expo in 2015 when Asics did it.

For race day I wore my favorite INKnBURN water shorts and paired it with the Ella tank. I had on my Orange Mud VP2 with the accessory bag on the back, my visor and buff. I did start the race in my OM arm sleeves but took them off at some point and stuffed them into the accessory bag. In the accessory bag I had my ID, cards, cash, female products, travel sun screen, chap stick, extra packet of Tailwind (just in case), and my arm sleeves. I also wore my blue PRO Compression socks, Goodr sunglasses and Hoka One One Clifton 2s. I wanted to run with my new Topo Athletic Ultrafly shoes but just had not ran enough in them to see how they would do for the longer distance. I wish I had worn them because my toes ended up rubbing with my Hokas during the race.

I do not intend to return back to LAM in the future. I got what I came for and feel the need to move on. I'm thinking about replacing the LAM with the Griffith Park Marathon or 50K next March. I love the trails and would still get some amazing views of LA and the Hollywood sign.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

It's Green Here In SoCal

We have had the most rain I have seen since moving here 3 years ago. Normally around this time it's just a little green but mostly brown, especially the trails. Just 4 months ago it was completely brown and you had a hard time finding the trails because it blended in with its surroundings so well. Now you can't find the trails because the grass and plants are so green and tall. It is so tall out here that some sections were just past my shoulders. It does remind me of living back in NC where everything is green during spring and summer. However, I enjoy the weather out here more :P

My running buddy and I hit the trails for a 12 mile run the day after my Griffith Park Trail Race. Surprisingly my legs were not sore or tired at the start of our long run. I was feeling really good and attribute it to most of my training for LAM. We even ran up a good chunk of some inclined switchbacks that normally challenge us. My legs held strong until we got to mile 11 and started our last climb up a hill. I could feel my legs getting tired and for the first time in a while my toes were bothering me. I had a few rub spots on my toes from the trail race the day before. I did finish my long run strong and with no pains or soreness the rest of the day, minus my toes.

Once I got home I started looking for a new pair of trail shoes. I'm a Hoka OneOne girl. I've been running in them for almost 3 years now. Last year I tried Altra because I loved how wide the toe box is. I did a few short runs in them and they would leave my legs feeling aching, heavy and sometimes painful. I just could not get used to the zero drop. A really good friend of mine and an amazing Ultra runner told me about how in love she was with her Topo shoes. I did some research and decided to give them a try. I not only ordered a new pair of their trail shoes but also decided to give their road shoes a go. I'm hoping these Topo shoes will make my legs, feet and toes happy.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Griffith Park Half Marathon Trail Race Recap

I did a Hollywood sign tour run with my running group last summer and loved it! One of the girls led the group up to the Wisdom Tree, behind the Hollywood sign and then down in front of it. I believe we did a little over 6ish miles that day. When someone in my run group mentioned a Griffith Park Trail Race, I knew I wanted to do it right away. I had heard great things about the race director Keira Henninger and how awesome her races are. I decided to sign up for the Half distance since LA is 2 weeks after this race. I later discovered that a lot of my fellow ambassadors from INKnBURN, Orange Mud and Tailwind would be there as well. Knowing these things just made me anticipate this race even more!

I was already impressed with the race even before it got started. Keira sent out an email letting us know that the runners for the Half distance would be receiving a mug, finishers medal and an additional race medal. We also were receiving a long sleeve tech shirt with girls getting pink and guys getting gray. There would be 2 aide stations that we would hit on our out and back course, along with food at the finish line. How can you not get excited over all this for just a Half. The other two distances offered was a Full and a 50K. For those finishers they received the same items except they got a Buckle and not a mug.

This was my first race that I have attended where there was an ultra distance. Already the runners and spectators were a little different. It felt more like a running community and not just a race that people showed up to do. The energy and excitement was higher and the runners were all very friendly. I got to meet up with people that I follow on FB and IG which was pretty cool. This was my farthest trail race distance to date and I was unfamiliar with the section of trails that we would be running. I also neglected to look at the course map. However, I wasn't nervous or worried about any of it. I was just happy to be there and to get out on to the course.

Keira kept to her time table and got everyone started on time for each distance. I was not out there racing for a time. I was using this race as a training run for LAM. My goals for this race was to 1. Have fun 2. Take lots of pictures 3. Run with some of my ambassador friends 4. Meet new runners and 5. Don't get hurt. I accomplished all of my goals. It was by far my slowest Half Marathon time but it was definitely the most enjoyable and fun race I have done to date.

Let me forewarn you though, there are MAJOR hills in this race. I did a lot of walking up the hills with my friends and then enjoyed running down them. Keira had the course marked to a T. Lots of signs and ribbons present so that you could not get lost. The amount of volunteers that were on the course and at the aide stations was amazing. Lets talk about these aide stations for a second. I am now completely spoiled and feel like I should have these aide stations at every race. I loved grabbing a piece of an orange, hand full of potato chips and a cup of soda. There was so much food and drink on the tables that it was even a little overwhelming. I was getting high fives and cheers from runners along the course as we passed each other. The volunteers were also very up lifting and helpful.

For the Half Marathon we started off in the Old Zoo and ran to Lower Beacon Trail. From there we went by the Bird Sanctuary and out to Dante's View. Dante's view was the turn around spot for us. We saw LA, the Hollywood sign and Charlie Brown's Christmas tree along the way. Not to mention all the gorgeous views all around us. The Marathon distance continued past Dante's View and up behind the Hollywood sign before turning around while the 50K ran a loop in front of the Hollywood sign and to the back of it meeting up with the Marathoners. As I mentioned early, lots of hills. The trails were pretty wide in most areas with a few sections.

I will definitely be back for this race next year and I hope to do the Marathon or even 50K distance.

Monday, March 6, 2017

I'm a Trailblazer!!

I received an email recently welcoming me to the Tailwind Nutrition ambassador program!!  I'm so very honored and excited to be able to represent this company and their product. I have exclusively been using their energy fuel now for 2 years. When their Trailblazer applications opened up in January, I knew I had to give it a shot. I'm so happy that I did.

For those that have never tried Tailwind before, it is a mix that you add to your water to give you energy, electrolytes and keep you hydrated during your activity. Tailwind is all you need so you can ditch those gels, bars, chews and pills. There is no film, no lingering after taste and no gooey mess to clean up. It comes in 7 flavors: Mandarin Orange, Naked, Lemon, Berry, Tropical Buzz, Raspberry Buzz and Green Tea Buzz. If a flavor has the word 'buzz' behind it then it just means it is caffeinated. Tailwind is easy on your body to absorb so you do not experience the gut bombs! For their full story and more detail about their product, visit their website here

I discovered Tailwind when I was getting ready for the LA Marathon back in 2015. I had been training with water and GUs but started to freak out over the heat wave that would be present on race day. Many suggested to add salt pills but that really made me nervous. A few INKnBURN ambassadors told me to try Tailwind so I ordered the stick pack bundle. Not knowing much about it, I made the mistake of using something new on race day and not doing too much homework on it. I just liked the idea of being able to put it in my water and drink it through out the race. One of the things that you should note about Tailwind is that you should NOT use it with other GUs and chews. Let me tell you first hand! I continued to use my GUs, on top of my Tailwind, during the race. By mile 10 I was in the bathroom for 20+ minutes.

Once I completed my first Marathon, I looked back on it to see where I could use improvements. The first thing I decided to do was to get ride of my GUs and only use the Tailwind. I will admit that it felt weird not eating anything during my runs and just relying on the Tailwind to do its job. I noticed a positive difference in myself and how my body felt during and post runs when I used my Tailwind. If I forgot it or didn't drink my recommended amount of it during my runs then I felt tired, sore and not myself. I have learned my lesson and I always keep an extra packet of lemon Tailwind on me, just in case. I even went to see a nutritionist to go over my nutrition for when I'm training for races. I brought in my Tailwind packets for her to review and she approved of it.

I would recommend getting the stick pack bundle so that you can sample all the flavors to see what you like best. Then you can order more in bulk. You can also mix up your flavors by buying 2-3 flavors. A very popular mixed flavor is Green Tea Buzz and Lemon!!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Running Alone

I used to do a lot of running by myself when I first started. The big reason I started running was because it was something I could do while pushing little man in the jogger. I was getting exercise in and I wasn't feeling like a guilty mommy. Then I started doing longer runs and just couldn't take the jogger with me because the distance was too much for little man to sit through. At first I felt like a terrible parent but luckily my husband kept reassuring me that I wasn't and even encouraged me to keep running. I soon found that running by myself was so freeing. I was able to relax, listen to music and enjoy being outside. Some days it was a way for me to release stress, plan workouts or just work through stuff in my head. Eventually I even stopped listening to music all together and just took in the surroundings. I loved this kind of me time.

I never thought much about being harmed while on a run. It was about a year or so ago that we had a random murder occur on our apartment complex property. I would run by myself all the time around the complex. There is a little section that was always some what questionable because no one could see you and that's the general area where the murder had taken place. Since then there have also been other events in the news about women being taken while they are out running. I feel so robed of my me time. Some people think it's stupid that I won't run alone, that I let fear get to me. But what's the point of running by myself if I'm worried or scared and constantly looking behind my back to see if someone is following me. That's not why I run. That's not how I want to run.

I don't run alone much any more. If I do it's during the day time in a heavy populated area and not for long distances. I also always change up running route so that it is not predictable. I am glad that I enjoy running without music which gives me one less distraction. I know lots of people dread the treadmill but I actually don't mind it. I can still get close to having that me time, just not outside.

Today I got in 6.5 miles by myself. It was much needed. The weather was gorgeous and I have missed it. It was around 80 degrees with clear, sunny skies. As much as I enjoyed it and being back in a tank top and shorts, I've also realized how much I need to do in terms of heat training. I feel like LA Marathon is going to be a hot one and I've been so use to running in cooler temps for training runs. I also need to put the sunscreen back in my car. Got a little pink today.

Today I was Rocking:
Orange Mud HQ Single Barrel (I completely forgot my visor today)
INKnBURN tank and shorts
PRO Compression purple socks
HokaOneOne Vanquish 2s
Tailwind Nutrition Lemon flavor
Goodr black sunglasses 

Friday, January 27, 2017

124 Miles in 27 Days

January has been a very busy month in terms of logging my miles. My trail run today put me at 124 miles total. I still have a few days left in this month and I have a lovely 20 mile long run this Sunday. I ran across a tank top that I earned back in the summer of 2014. My Raleigh Running Mamas group back in NC does a summer running challenge every year. You have 60 consecutive days during the summer months to earn either 60 or 120 miles. I started my running back in 2012. In the summer of 2013 I earned 60 miles in 60 days and that was hard for me to do. In 2014 we moved out to CA but luckily my Running Mamas let me in on the challenge one more time. I was determined to get 120 miles in 60 days this time, especially since the weather in SoCal was amazing to run in. I completed the challenge with a few days left. I felt like a bad ass logging all those miles and couldn't imagine keeping this up. It was hard work and lots of dedication for me to get those miles in. Yet, here I am 27 days into January. I only ran 19 out of the 27 days to get to this point.

Today my running buddy and I hit the trails since it was beautiful outside and we needed a change up from our usual running spot. What we didn't count on was the Santa Ana Winds! They were insane. It didn't help that we ran headlong into the wind either. The sand was hitting us and felt like little pellets. I'm surprised I didn't have any small bruises on my legs. We were running but at times it felt like we were running in place and even running into each other. The mountains in the distance still have snow on them and was gorgeous to look at. There is just something about being out on the trails that calls to me. I love to run but when I'm on the trails its a deeper kind of love that rises up in me. Below are a few more pictures from my run today. One of them looks like I am wearing some pretty short shorts but really the wind was kicking up and blew my running skirt up.

Rocking on my run today:
Orange Mud HQ Single Barrel and Arm Sleeves under the wind jacket
INKnBURN Shirt and Running Skirt
PRO Compression Black Socks
Tailwind Nutrition Lemon flavor
HokaOneOne Challengers
Brooks Rain/Wind Jacket
Goodr Black Sunglasses