Run Your Heart Out 5k

I’ve been doing an insane amount of running these past few weeks, and its been showing – in terms of mileage (39 mileage week three weeks ago and another one last week) and in terms of pace and strength.  Definitely feeling the best that I have in terms of health wise body and mind in a very long time.  And as a result of all this running fun, I signed up for PRR’s Run Your Heart Out 5k Sunday, February 9.

Going into the race, I knew I wanted to push myself to see where my fitness was at, to get a good evaluation of my speed and strength as I began week three of theCherry Blossom Ten Miler training program I am doing with CUCB, New Balance & PRR (Its a free virtual training program they offered to all participating runners).  Other than that I had no goals, other than to try to be somewhere around 21:15 (my PR).

Race morning came, and I hopped in the car with my friends from PRR, Ashley, Amanda and Dustin, and headed out to Reston, VA.  It was COLD out, but we grabbed our bibs, hit the INDOOR bathrooms and hung out til race time.  We also saw a few of our other fellow PRR friends there as well (shoutout to Lauren & Becki!).

At 9:01 it was go time and we were off.

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The race starts on the track, and then heads down a huge hill into the woods, where the course winds and turns and goes on lots of little ups and downs before returning the to the huge hill we went down which we had to CLIMB just about a 1/4 mile from the finish.  That hill was HORRIBLE.  It caused me to slow down significantly and to almost lose my breakfast at the top.  And then I felt awful as I had to run into the finish.

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Evidence of Feeling Awful…And Cold.

Then the course finished on the track, and I felt and finished strong – surprised to see the time of 21:07 on the clock, which meant a shiny new PR!

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All in all I was happy with my performance.  I also know that but for the hill at the end, I would’ve likely broken 21:00, which would’ve been amazing and has been my goal for a long time.  Additionally, I learned that in the case of the 5k, I can’t look at my watch.  I looked 1 or 2 times just to see mileage, but I never once looked at my pace and just kept running hard and trying to pick off the person in front of me (which I did quite more often than being passed), and it worked!  I was able to shave 8 seconds off my PR – and am seeing that 20:xx goal come within reach!

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Lauren, Me and Ashley post race

A nice surprise was also placing 2nd in my AG – something I never expected to happen since the PRR races generally have an extremely fast field (hello, the girl who won it ran it in 16 and some change), but it was a nice way to round out a PR race for me!

Next up?  I’m looking for another 5k in about a month or so — hopefully something without the hill of death at the end to make that 20:xx a little easier.  And then I’m training, as mentioned before, for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler.  My goal for that is to run a consistent race, and hopefully at my 10k PR pace from this fall.  Lofty goals, but something I definitely think is feasible.

What races are on your schedule this spring?  What fitness goals do you have?  I was supposed to run a marathon, but I decided that right now, I don’t have the time or the ability to train and so I am deferring.  I hate doing it, but I know its the right decision for me, especially having been plagued with a series of injuries since fall 2012.  A marathon is in my future, I just need to find the right one and the right time to train properly – I am finally admitting I have too much on my plate.

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Running Through Winter

So it’s been a while… Two months to be exact, and I’m not quite sure where to start, so I will start back where we left off with December 2013 and do a little catching up on how I have been running through winter (often times feeling my head has been chopped off).

December 2013

December was on of the craziest and busiest months of my life. It was three weeks of finals for my first semester of law school. It was also the month where my co authors and I presented a white paper at a round table in the middle of finals (that I finished my portion of at 2am the morning of a final – that one hurt). It was also winter vacation back I the frozen tundra and the time I PRed without really being prepared in the half marathon.

So law school exams. They were intense, stressful, and three weeks long. Yes I had about five to seven days between my exams, but when they are law school exams, you need like two weeks between each exam and even that may not be enough. I was mostly happy with my performances on my exams and grades but know there is room for improvement this semester so I am definitely putting the plow in the ground and hitting the books hard.

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Then there was that paper we presented. I had given presentations on research proposals before but had never had a written paper, that professors, scholars and experts in the field had read, thought was interesting and gave feedback on. It was intense but so exciting! And although my co authors and I have a lot of work ahead of us, I know we will have a great paper when we are finished.

I was lucky enough to go home for about ten days after finals. I hadn’t really been in the frozen tundra (MN) since last Xmas, and it was great to have the whole family together. I got to spend time with my parents, siblings and niece all while freezing my buns off. What more could I have asked for?! Oh right, to have had Xmas at my sister’s in Florida where it was 70 not -10. But all in all we had a great time… In our #xmasjammies (oh yes that happened).

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Then there was the winter running. Lots of it happened. And while most of it (admittedly) happened on a TM I did manage a few good runs outside.

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First I ran Run With Santa 5k, and while there were no PRs (it was cold, snowy and slippery) I had a ton of fun with a bunch of my coworkers at the running store. And then I ran a half marathon very last minute. So last minute the name is escaping me, but it was an out and back on a muddy and icy trail…but I still got a PR! 1:44:06! It was by no means my best race (I fell completely apart in the last two miles, but I know that my goals for 2014 are in reach!

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So lots of running happened and life was looking pretty good. And then came January 2014…

January 2014

And life got even better. Didn’t think it was possible, but it did.

I gained a super cute study buddy (no, he is not mine, but sometimes I pretend) and my grades came back mostly positive. So here’s to a good outlooks for semester 2!

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And while I have had a minor foot injury that has set me back in terms of marathoning this spring, I am taking it in stride, and instead focusing on Cherry Blossom 10 Miler and hopefully a spring half marathon back in sunny Santa Cruz after finals are over in May! You know what I’m talking about… The fabulous Capitola Half Marathon!

Also, today I discovered I was one of four featured bloggers on Active Life DC for a panel on how to get out of a fitness rut. Check it out for some great Dc blogs and tips on how myself and the other bloggers keep exercising interesting and fun…and how awkward I can be. It’s so incredibly awkward it’s awesome.

So that’s a little update on my life. I have been very busy but am planning a few posts to come in the next few weeks, and I promise it won’t be another two months.

How has 2014 been treating you so far? Set any fitness or running goals?
Mine is to be as uninsured as possible, hopefully be healthy enough to complete a marathon and to get back into triathlons! Already looking at a few in late August/early September!

Running with Brooks

Sunday night after my 10k PR, I had the opportunity to attend a Brooks clothing and shoe education night for employees at the running store I work at, put on by Brooks.
[Full disclosure: while I was given the clothing to try out for free as a part of our employee event with Brooks, I was not asked to review the products on my blog nor am I being compensated in any way.  All opinions, as always, are my own.]

Basically, Brooks likes to come out and talk to the running specialty stores that sell their clothing and get the employees in the clothing, running it in, and then have an open forum to get feedback to improve their product for future iterations.  (Points which I will highlight below when I review the products.)

Then we talk about selling points – different features of the products, and why things cost what they do — what I learned at the end of the day?  The majority of the cost is the fabric, technology and R&D — there is very little that is actually made on a product.  For example, on a $100 pair of shoes?  The store selling it makes about $10, and Brooks doesn’t make much more (if more at all). Talk about a small profit margin.  It makes me feel better about buying slightly pricier clothes and shoes that are of a higher quality.

But enough about that…onto the good stuff — the clothes!

For our 5k run, I got to try out (and keep) the Brooks Infinity Capris III and the Women’s Essential LS 1/2 Zip. I was a little hesitant to wear capris and just a fairly thin long sleeve since it was pretty cold out (I did wear a tank underneath it, for full disclosure), but the Brooks reps assured me I would be fine.

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Women’s Essential LS 1/2 Zip

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Brooks Infinity Caril III

We went out on our run, and low and behold, my temperature was pretty spot on.  While it would’ve been nice to be in tights at first, after about a mile or so I did warm up (though someday I do want these – I mean, how cute are they?!).

My overall reviews of the Infinity Caprisl III?  I loved the wide waistband (and the color scheme on this pair!) It was cute and flattering.  I also loved that they weren’t black, since I have like 4 pairs of black capris.  I also really liked the rubber at the bottom of the capri to hold to the capri in place so it wouldn’t ride up, as well as the stripes on the side of the leg made of 3M ScotchBrite to make a runner more visible to cars.

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3M ScotchBrite strips and rubber at the base of the capris

What I didn’t love?  I have to take my iPhone out of its case (and I have a fairly small one – and the iPhone 5 – in order for it to fit in the pocket in the back of the pants (which, btw, is water resistant!), and as a woman who runs alone a lot, I don’t like to leave home without my phone for emergencies.  If you have a bigger phone, it definitely wouldn’t fit.

And the Women’s Essential LS 1/2 Zip?  The pink color was great – but for those who don’t like pink, it comes in a wide variety of colors.  I also liked the fit a lot – it wasn’t too tight or too lose. I also liked the positioning of the ScothBrite on the top as well – its on the arms and back at key points of movement to make you more visible while running on the street. It also has a nice pocket on the back (I ❤ pockets).  Oh, and its nice and long, and doesn’t ride up when you run.

Back of the Women’s Essential LS 1/2 Zip

What I didn’t love? After wearing it one night, for one easy 3.1 mile run where I didn’t sweat that much, it smelled absolutely horrible (I really don’t sweat very much ever, especially when its cold out and usually don’t smell that much after a run either – maybe I’m used to it, but no one has ever told me that I do).  I wish there was something in the fabric that would help with the odor and to mitigate the smell, because that’s the only thing that’s keeping me from being 100% in love with it (luckily 1/3-1/2 cup baking soda added to the wash will take the smell right away).

I was also given another piece to try on a cool run (which I did on Monday night) – the Brooks Equilibrium Base Layer LS.  Its supposed to be perfect for temperatures between 40-65 degrees (according to the Brooks’ website).

Equilibrium Base Layer LS Source: www.brooksrunning.com

Equilibrium Base Layer LS
Source: http://www.brooksrunning.com

I’m not going to lie – the shirt looks weird, and I probably wouldn’t have picked it up on my own. My first reaction to it in the store was definitely that this had to be a mistake – it looked like it was either straight from the 80s, Vegas, or a strip club.

However, now that I have it and ran in it (7.8 miles in 42-45 degree weather with a fair amount of wind at night), I am in love with this top.  It is so innovative and light and useful.  I don’t know which R&D individual at Brooks who created it, but I would love to meet them and figure out how they came up with this.

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Equilibrium Base Layer LS – from Instagram

I don’t know how to better explain it than how the Brooks’ website does:

Like a second, smarter skin, this amazing baselayer helps maintain optimal conditions in both heat and cold. When teamed with a top layer, it works like insulation–blocking outside elements and improving your natural temperature regulation by keeping you incredibly dry and breaking up surface tension with air pockets.
(Source & see more here)
It was surprisingly amazing.  I was never too cold (save for my hands, but that’s because I didn’t wear gloves) or too hot.  I wore it with a short sleeve technical shirt over it, and loved that my arms were warm but could breathe, and that even though it was pretty cold out I didn’t have to wear super thick layers that after three miles I wanted to peel off because I was overheating.  I couldn’t believe it.  (FYI: If you get this top, I – and the others who tested it – found it best to tuck it into your bottoms, otherwise I found that the shirt rode up as I ran – but once I tucked it in I didn’t even notice it.)
IMG_1423And now I am a believer – and its really comfortable. So weird, but so good.  (FYI: they’re also coming out with a short sleeve version of it this spring.)  And I liked the Infinity Capris III enough to wear them on another run.
The final part of our Brooks event night, was seeing and talking about the shoes — and the one that I enjoyed hearing about the most was the Transcendence, which is coming out in February 2014 to replace the Trance.
The Transcendence!

The Transcendence!

While I don’t have all the details, its basically a considered a high cushion, light stability shoe.  It’s light, with a fairly straight shoe last, and has these ‘rails’ on both sides that are activated only when needed — meaning it only gives you stability when you need it.  And it can act with as much stability as an Adrenaline.  Haven’t tried it out yet, but it sounds pretty intriguing to me!

The other thing about it that sounded appealing to me was that neutral runners can run in it, supposedly, without too much problem.  One of their engineers/test runners ran in it for three months (and she is a neutral runner) and she had no problems.  Also, if you’re running a long race as a neutral runner, and your form starts to deteriorate in a long run/race, it can give you the stability when you need it – and only when you need it.  Seriously, fascinating.  And now I’m 100% intrigued.

Definitely look for the Transcendence in February, 2014.  I know I’m going to at least try running on it for a while in the store — I am intrigued beyond belief and definitely impressed by Brooks in a way I didn’t think I could be.  I am extremely thankful for the opportunity I was given to test these products and hear all about the time, research, and thought that Brooks puts into each one of their products overall.  An experience I won’t forget, for sure.

What do you look for in your running clothes?  What features are must haves or deal breakers?