Thursday, September 6, 2018

Race Recap: Tough Mudder Western NY

My First Tough Mudder Experience

Since moving back home last year I reconnected with a friend who loves running. So we decided to plan a race together, and that race was a Tough Mudder. I was so excited to finally commit to a race and for it to be an obstacle course race (OCR). I had never run an OCR before so it was a new avenue of running to me.


Pre-Race


He had already run the Western NY race and enjoyed it enough to want to run the race again. The race was hosted in the quaint town of Andover, NY which was 2 hours from my house. We decided it would be best to find a place to stay in the area so that we wouldn't have to do that drive twice in one day.

The Tough Mudder website did have a list of suggested lodging however I was able to find a Bed & Breakfast less than 5 minutes from the race. The B&B owner had recommended several restaurants in the nearby town only 15 minutes away so everything was pretty convenient.

Race morning we got the event early since we still had to park and walk to the race start. There was plenty of parking, which we paid for in advance to save $10. However it was almost half a mile's walk to the race start from the parking area.

At the race start they had all the booths for merchandise and other things you would expect at an expo. We knew we would have time after the race to explore so we went right to our corral to get started. The MC for the race was very motivational and shared a great story which really got us excited for the run. Our corral started promptly at 10:30 am.


The Course


As an overall summary, the course was all trail with some parts being muddier than others due to rain the night before and added effect for the course. We were far from the first wave so the course was well traveled already. I luckily had on my On Running Cloudventure Trail Shoes which still gave me great traction even on the muddy ground.

At this location the full runners ran two lap on the course, with alternate routes on lap two with different obstacles. On lap 1 we had obstacles like Kiss of Mud, Mud Mile, Hero Walls, and Hero Carry to name a few. The one that stuck out the most was the quagmire. This obstacle was a trug through a very thick mud pool, think cake batter thickness. One girl slipped and fell and went all the way under and then couldn't open her eye due to the thick mud.

Lap two had many more memorable obstacles, that tested you more than the first lap. We started with electroshock therapy which was running through a mess of live electrical wires. Other fun obstacles were Funky Monkey and Kong which were both climbing challenges. The Arctic Enema was a very challenging obstacle, we had to swim under walls in a tank of ice water. I couldn't believe how quickly we froze to the bone.

The hardest part about lap 2 was that the trails had been destroyed at this point from all the runners on their first lap, and the runners ahead of us on their second lap. So it was slow moving since we were trying to keep our footing.


Reflections


I definitely loved this race, and plan to do more in the future, I was bit by the OCR bug.

Pros

The pros of this race would have to be the course itself. It was on ATV grounds so it was very spread out. Lots of distance between the obstacles gave us time to run off the sore muscles.

Since the race was two lap, the aid stations were in the same spot, so we knew when we would be approaching one for water and fuel.

Lastly the overall camaraderie among the runners was something that you don't normally see in a typical running race. Everyone was willing to lend a hand to help at obstacles which made it much more rewarding when you helped others back.

Cons

There were a few things that I would note about the race that I wasn't thrilled about. I didn't see that many photographers throughout the course. When searching through the pictures after the race, I saw that there were pictures from specific obstacles but when we had run those obstacles there wasn't anyone taking pictures. I feel like I really missed out on this because it would have been nice to have more memories captured. More consistent photo locations would have been nice.

I also wasn't a big fan of the parking situation. After running the full mudder we were pretty worn out, so for us to have to walk another half mile to the car was annoying to say the least.

Even though these two things weren't the coolest, that doesn't sway me from wanting to get another Tough Mudder under my belt. Apparently there is a special headband that you can get from running 3 Mudders in one year. I want that so bad for next year!

Have you run an OCR before? Do you have any favorites?

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Marathon Training: Why Runner's World Grand Slam


Disclaimer: I received free entry to The Runner's World Half Marathon & Festival 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!

I'm very excited about the opportunity to run my first race for Bibrave this October. Since moving back home I have definitely found it hard to commit to races while still trying to reestablish my life. Commitments to work have been the number one factor in deciding which races I can do. So when I saw the opportunity to run this race event I knew that I this was the race that I had been waiting for.

Why this race?

After taking a year off from running, I knew that I would need something different to reignite my passion for running. Once you lose a habit it takes a while and conscious effort to get back into it. This race weekend has an option for a Grand Slam, which is a combination of all four races throughout the weekend. I have seen a lot of runners through the years competing in the Disney Dopey challenge and though I never wanted to do that, I couldn't pass up the Grand Slam.

The Grand Slam is a unique distance because after you run all the races in the series you will have run 26.2 miles. So it's a marathon but spread out across three days. On Friday there is a 3.8 mile trail run, Saturday there is the 5K and the 10K, and Sunday is the Half Marathon. I found this to be the best way to get back into the running world without starting right away with a full marathon, in one day at least.


Does the Grand Slam sound too daunting? Not to worry there are other multi-race options for choose from:
  • The Hat Trick: 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon
  • The Five & Dime: 5K and 10K
If that isn't enough to get you excited, check out the schedule of event for the weekend:

Friday, October 19
12 p.m. – 7 p.m. Health & Fitness Expo & Packet Pick Up, ArtsQuest Musikfest Café
3:30 p.m. – Trail Run, South Mountain Park

Saturday, October 20
6:30 a.m. – 5K & 10K Number Pick Up, ArtsQuest
8 a.m. – 5K Start
8 a.m. – 5 p.m. – Health & Fitness Expo & Packet Pick Up, ArtsQuest Musikfest Café
9:30 a.m. – 10K Start
12 p.m. – Kids Races
2 p.m. –1-Mile Dog Run
5:30 p.m. – Dinner with the Editors

Sunday, October 21
6 a.m. – Race Day Packet Pick up
8 a.m. – Half Marathon Start

The race takes place in Bethlehem, PA which in October the weather should be beautiful, the trees starting to change colors, and fall should be in full swing. It's the perfect race to enjoy before winter gets here and starts to get things cold.

Join me and the other Bibrave Pro's at this race and use code "RWHALF18BIBRAVE" for 15% off any distance, even the multi-race options too!

Have you ever run a multi-race weekend before? Tell me what to expect down in my comments.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Product Review: Mercury Mile

Disclaimer: I received a Mercury Mile Box 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!

This was one of the funnest products that I have had to opportunity to test. Here's the 411 on this awesome product: Mercury Mile is a running apparel box that is tailored for you. On their website you create a profile and fill out a brief questionnaire that takes less than 10 minutes about your clothing preferences and body type. They will also ask for your social handles too.

Then when you order a box from them, it's not a subscription each month - you choose when to get one, one of their stylists will use your preferences to select apparel that is the right fit for you, and is similar to the clothing that you like to wear based on what they observe from your social profiles. The box is mailed right to your door and you have a week to try on the clothing. Everything that you like you keep, and everything that you don't like you send back to them in a pre-labeled and prepaid shipping bag. Then they only charge you for what you keep.

Let's dive a little deeper into what awaits you when you open your Mercury Mile Box. Right on top is a letter from your stylist. In the letter they highlight a few of the items that they choose for you and why they think you will like them. Also included with the letter is an itemized list of the items in the box with the prices.

What can you expect to find in your box? That is something that is different for everyone. I watched a bunch of other Bibrave Pros open their boxes and have totally different products that what I had. I know that I was of the few that was sent a pair of sunglasses in my box, where not many others got them. But if you look at my IG posts, I'm always wearing sunglasses, so kudos to my stylist Christina for picking up on that.

I have tried a few other types of runner oriented boxes, mostly the ones with gear rather than with apparel and the one thing that I found with those is that the products that you get are up and coming products that are trying to get their name out there. It's kinda hit and miss with that sort of thing. However with Mercury Mile that are sending you the latest and greatest running apparel out there. I got clothing from Rabbit, Craft, Brooks, Saucony, Adidas, and Asics. So everything was super current on fashion trends, functionality, and breathe ability.

In the first box I got I was so impressed with everything that I didn't send anything back. I love everything that they chose for me. It is perfect summer running gear and things that I wouldn't be able to find at my local running stores. The fact that it was all in perfectly sized for me as well made it even sweeter.

Since I have been obsessing over this company over the past few weeks I took advantage of their semi-annual sale that they advertised on IG, *wink wink* (follow them for up to day info on any deals). The sales was on their fall/winter gear to try and sellout so they can get ready for this year's gear and was at a massive discount. I was just as impressed with the second box as the first, not surprised since Christina was my stylist again. She chose some amazing long sleeves and sweats for me, which aren't the best during the summer heat but will definitely come in handy this fall when it gets colder.

There were a few articles that I did end up sending back this time. Though they were exactly my style they just didn't fit me right. So I put them in the pre-labeled package and sent them back. I got an email confirmation that they received the clothing back and that my invoice would be adjusted. Super easy!

What I think is the coolest part is that I can just log into my account with them and have them send me a box whenever I want. There is no contract or subscription required so I only get a box when I want, and when my finances allow lol. I know for me I have been in a brand rut for the past few years where I would only like to wear clothes from a specific brand because my local running store only had certain brands. Using Mercury Mile I was able to get outside my norm to try some new brands from the comfort of home. It's easy, convenient, and affordable.

Make sure to join us this Tuesday the 10th at 9:00pm EST for a Mercury Mile hosted Bibchat. You can also use code "bibrave10" for $10.00 off your styling fee.

Make sure to check out Mercy Mile on social:

IG: @mercurymile
T: @mercury_mile

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Product Review: Brilliant Reflective Strips

Disclaimer: I received Brilliant Reflective Strips 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!

I received this product just at the right time, summer running season. Running during the day time in the summer is way too hot, there is the risk of sunburn and overheating, so running at night has become a part of my life. I love night running but sometimes having all that gear can be cumbersome, a reflector vest can be heavy to run in and cause some uncomfortable chafing. So rather than spreading body glide all over my torso before a night run, I have opted to ditch the reflector vest forever and am now a loyal brilliant reflective supporter.

The Product



There are two types of brilliant reflective strips that I was able to test, the iron on strips and the stick on strips. I found them to each have their own uses, so here is more about each of them.

The iron on strips are only used for clothing. They come with an amazing set of instructions for how to get the best results, and not damage any of your clothes either. I found it very easy to do when you follow the directions. I did have one of the strips not adhere all the way which I was a little nervous about. Half of the strip was still on the shirt but the other half was loose and dangling. But I read on the packaging that this is normal, and to re-iron the strip. So I just ironed it per the directions and the strip took to the shirt.

The stick on strips I found to be much more versatile. I worked well on clothing but there were so many more applications for them. I put them on my bike and helmet so that I could be more reflective when riding my bike. I felt like it was more stressful to apply the stick on strips because unlike the iron on strips you have to peel off the back of them before applying where the iron strips can just be placed where you want them. So it was crucial to make sure I put them in the right spot the first time.

Run Test



In order to test the product thoroughly I wanted to make sure I had at least one shirt with the iron on strips and one shirt with the stick on strips. In both cases I found them to be pretty fashionable and not look out of place. I found that with both of them if didn't feel like they were on the shirt at all. I know sometimes when you do iron on decals you can feel the decal and it is sticky or rough but I didn't notice any of the strips feeling this way. Basically there are no downsides to adding them to my clothing.

One thing to note is that the iron on strips cannot be added to every type of material. Some polyester materials will melt with an iron is used on them so you really need to take the time to choose the right clothes, that way you don't ruin your iron or shirts.

Conclusion

The one difference that I think these strips made was the confidence boost that I had when exercising in the dark. Knowing that I was more visible to passing vehicles gave me so much reassurance. That alone should be enough to get you to start adding these to all your athletic apparel. When you're not spending the brain power wondering if you will be seen you can focus more on your workout and get the most out of your training.

Make sure to follow Brilliant Reflective on their social media for the latest product releases and for inspiration on where to apply your strips.

IG: brilliantreflective
T: @brilliant_safe

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Product Review: Athlinks

Disclaimer: I am promoting Athlinks as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!


This year Bibrave has partnered with Athlinks which is a company that is about make your racing life so much easier. Athlinks is a website that compiles races results from virtually every race that there is in one place. So you create a profile and can search their data banks of results to find your results to save to your profile, et voilà!



For example with me, I was able to claim my results (see above) in just a few simple clicks for all of these races. It even has the statistics each race on where you placed in your age group, finish time, and pace. I find all of this information to be super handy especially when looking at your races all next to each other.

I'm a sucker for data, so when I'm trying to figure out how to improve or modify my training being able to see a birds eye view of my results is quite handy. Either that or having to look back in Strava to each specific date, then going to each individual website for results (if they have them), ugh what a pain.

One of my favorite features is that it shows you your PR's for each distance. We all know that sometimes our tracking devices can be a little off from our actual finish time, when the finish time is really the official PR time. Being able to have this information readily available is so convenient when signing up for a new race that requires a finish time from another race. Oh and it GETS BETTER! They have an app for it too, so you can always have your results with you. (app on right, desktop below).
So I bet you're wondering a few things:
  • How easy can this really be? 
  • I don't remember the name of every race I have run.
  • How will this be different than searching through a race website for results?
Sit back and relax my friends as I put all your hesitations at ease. I started my profile and entered my personal information like birthday and name, now the website uses that to populate race results that match your information. So all I had to do was scroll down a list of unclaimed results and claim which races were mine, and which were by this imposter Chris McManus. Yeah I found out that not only is my name not original but that there is another runner with my name, gasp! So keep that in mind when claiming your results, only claim results that you yours.
To sum this up, save time and energy by checking out this website and getting all your race results. Oh did I mention that this is free?! So there is nothing holding you back from greatness! 

Check out Athlinks on their social media profiles for more cool updated from them:
IG: @athlinks

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Product Review: Weav Run App

Disclaimer: I received subscription to Weav Run 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!

If you're looking for the biggest game changer for exercise music then you need to check out Weav Run. This is a running music app that has the ability to change the tempo of their songs to match your running pace. It is currently only supported on iPhone but will be released for Android in the future.



How it works


There are two options for running: Detect Tempo and Set Tempo.

In the Detect Tempo mode your phone will figure out how fast you are moving and match the tempo of the songs to your pace. Have you ever been in a race approaching the finish line and the crowd is going wild, giving you the biggest boost of endorphins to keep you going? This is exactly what this feature is all about. When you run faster the tempo picks up to match you and help push you. If you're getting tired and need to slow down then the tempo will drop with you too. This really comes in handy for recovery time and catching your breath.

Set Tempo is different where you choose what tempo to set it to and it won't change unless you tell it to. I really liked this feature when I was running hills this week. It kept a faster tempo to help me climb as I naturally was moving slower. For long runs where you want to maintain a certain pace and get lost in the run then this feature is amazing for that.

Beta Version


The Bibrave Pro Team was giving access to the Beta version to test which had a few more features that are to be released in the coming months. My favorite feature was the programmed workouts. During these runs the tempo automatically gets faster during your pick ups and then slows down for the recoveries. My mind was totally blown during this run. One of the things that my friends and I have always dreamed about was to have background music for our lives like in the movies. Weav Run made this dream of mine come true! When I hear the beat to pick up the pace the music got faster too, it's like the universe was encouraging me to run faster.

These runs have been some of my top runs to date. I know that I naturally want to run faster when a fast tempo song comes on so for the app to do all the time tracking for you, it leaves you to sink deep into the run and just run with the music and have a great time.

The Songs


On the version that's currently available there are only about 23 songs. I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed when I first saw this. I figured that this wouldn't possibly be enough music to keep me entertained. Then I tried out the app and realized how foolish that thought was. Depending on what type of run I was doing (sprints, hills, long run) I was never really running the same pace therefore I was never hearing that same song. There are so many layers to each song that come out at different tempos that kept the song exciting and new.

From what I learned after talking to Weav Run, there is a lot that goes into making songs have the ability to adjust this way. The songs aren't just sped up or slowed down they are adapted to each tempo so that it is still sounds awesome. With that in mind we can expect more songs to be released in the future.

Conclusion

I love this app, simple as that! It's the first of its kind and will change your running life when you use it. It's the only way to hear music while you run that is playing specifically for you and your running pace. Think of it as personalized music just for you.

Weav Run will be teaming up with the Bibrave Pro's on Tuesday December 26th at 9:00 pm est. We are giving away 2 unlimited subscriptions to the winners so don't miss out!

You can follow Weav Run on social at:

T: @weavrun
IG: @weavrun

What's your favorite song to run to? Do you know what tempo you like to run at? I bet your answer will change after you use this app!

See what the other Pros are saying about Weav Run:

Meridith Lindsey Brenda




Sunday, November 19, 2017

Product Review: Health Warrior Chia Bars

Disclaimer: I received Health Warrior Chia Bars 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!

For those of you that know me, I am a health freak! Last year I tried something new and ate a plant-based diet for my marathon training and it was the strongest I had ever felt. Since then I have adopted a plant-based lifestyle. This does come with challenges especially when it comes to runner fuel. There are tons of different products out there for runners to eat but most of them are some form of sugar or corn that doesn't benefit you at all. Now I'm not a nutritionist by profession so take what I say as you will, Health Warrior has created a tasty and healthy bar that I swear by now.

Health Warrior is stealing the market lately for their different snack bars and I had the luxury of testing the chia bars. Chia has always been a part of my diet so when I saw that they have been added to a snack bar (my definition of a snack bar is a bar that is less than 40 grams in weight) I knew I needed to try them.


Nutrition Perspective

I call this section a perspective because this is how I feel about it which may differ from what you have heard from others.

Chia has always been an essential part of my plant-based diet for a multitude of reasons:

  • it is a good source of healthy fats (Omega -3)
  • low in calories
  • super absorbent, meaning that it can absorb lots of water
The reason why its absorbency is important for a runner is that when I ate a chia bar during a workout I felt better hydrated than if I didn't. This is because the chia seeds will absorb water and allow your body to process it slower and not pass it quickly through. It's similar to drinking alcohol on an empty stomach verses a full stomach. If your stomach is empty then the alcohol hits you faster than if your stomach is full. This makes it super beneficial when exercising so that your body is doing the most with the water that you consume.

Run Test

I was given the chocolate and apple cinnamon flavors to try and really enjoyed both of them. The chocolate chia bar has chocolate liquor it in which gives it a softer chocolate flavor not an overload. The apple cinnamon was perfect to be tested in the fall and tasted true not artificial.

Having tried both of them before actually running with them, so I could see if my belly would like them, I was anxious to see how they would work on my longer runs. With only 100 calories in each bar it was the perfect size snack to eat while running so that I could get additional energy without filling my belly. I liked how easy they were to chew and not tacky like some other products I have tried, but some of the seeds did get stuck in my teeth (which isn't uncommon for chia).

One run in particular really stood out to me. I was running in Orlando on a short vacation and decided to run 7 miles, which was the longest I had run in the past few months. I was equipped with a chia bar and some nuun to drink and finished with a great time while not feeling physically terrible. Especially when running in the heat I frequently can eat too much sugary snack where my belly hurts and I lose my appetite. I was thankful that these did not affect me like that at all.

Bonus Content

Something else that is pretty unique is that Health Warrior made a special running focused coloring book! Super exciting! They are giving the coloring books away for free when you use the link above to make a purchase on their website. The pages are super funny and jokes that all runner will understand. It's a great way to spend your recovery hours too!

Conclusion

Since I was enjoying the bars so much I purchased a few more flavors to keep myself stocked for the coming weeks. Each of these flavors I am enjoying as well, especially the coconut. So whether you are looking for a new fuel source for running or a healthier snack I think that Health Warrior chia bars should be your next go to snack. They are good for you and great tasting too!