Things I’m Loving Lately

Lately I really like lists [you should see my color-coded to-do list] and I’ve been pretty lazy about taking photos. So here’s a lovely list of things I’m loving lately without any photos. You’ve been warned. But at least I bolded the items, so you can pick and choose what you want to read. What can I say, I’m a giver.

Orangetheory Fitness – I’ve never been a huge fan of group exercise classes. Most of my experience is based on classes offered at my current gym, like Body Pump + RPM, where you have to sign up 30 minutes beforehand. There’s a very slim chance of me making it to the gym 30 minutes prior to a class, especially if it’s in the morning where I value sleep or after work when I don’t have a set “end time” to my day. The classes always felt overcrowded and the clientele was clique-y. Not really my thing. Needless to say, I never went out of my way to get there. Lora had been posting a lot about supplementing her running routine with Orangetheory Fitness so I reached out to pick her brain about the pros/cons. She sold me on it immediately and only a few days later I took advantage of their free class offer. I was HOOKED. Sixty minutes have never flown by so fast. I’ve been a member for three weeks now and each class is completely different. It forces me to do strength training but also lets me run – ahem, sprint – during the hour as well. Sprinting at a 15% incline is absolutely miserable but I’ve seen a ton of improvement in daily runs since incorporating OTF into my workout schedule. Your heart rate [as well as everyone else’s] is up on a giant screen for you to check periodically and make sure you’re pushing yourself enough. Every night walking out of there I want to die from feeling destroyed, but by the time I get home I’m pumped for the next class. You have to sign up for classes in advance and it forces me to leave work at a reasonable hour [this is subjective … I go to the 8pm class, so you do the math] to be able to attend. If you don’t cancel a class with enough notice, you’re charged for the class anyway. This is key in keeping me accountable. I have an Elite Membership which is 8 classes per month, however I want to use them. I’ve been doing Tuesday / Thursday classes religiously and it works great with my schedule. Worth every damn penny.

 

Heart Rate Training – Not going to lie, I’ve always been a slave to the Garmin. For some reason pace is super important to me and as much as I try that whole “running on feel” thing – it doesn’t happen. But once I started focusing on my heart rate in Orangetheory, I realized it would probably be in my best interest to use this on daily runs. I set up my Garmin to only show HR and I begrudgingly wear that damn strap every time I lace up my running shoes. I’ve noticed my pace drop now that I’m more aware of how hard I’m working. This is completely different than staring at my watch and either cursing my slow pace or talking myself out of a faster one. This takes the guessing game out of everything pace-related. I’m a big fan.

 

Saucony Running Shoes – It would be impossible to count on both hands the number of running shoes I’ve been through over the past few years. From Asics to Mizunos to Brooks to New Balance to Skechers, I’ve had [multiple] pairs of each. In 2014 I finally tried the Saucony Guide 7 and they were everything I needed in a running shoe. I added my trusted green SuperFeet inserts and they were perfect. PERFECT. The lower drop helped me adjust my running form and quit the dreaded heel-strike. When I needed a pair of shoes for trail running, I went to the Saucony Peregrine. When I needed a pair of shoes with a little more cushion for long runs, I went to the Saucony ISO Triumph. When I needed a pair of shoes light enough for sprints + strength training in OTF, I went to the Saucony Mirage. Seeing a pattern here?

 

Non-Running Shoes – For some reason, I’ve been really into shoes over the past few months. This could probably be attributed to the number of fashion bloggers I follow on Instagram, specifically Emily Ann Gemma. It’s likely I’ll never be able to afford a majority of the items she owns but the shoes? I can afford the shoes. My current favorite pair is the Steve Madden Keenia, an obnoxiously tall wedge which increases my height by five inches and are surprisingly comfortable. I wore them out for a night of gallivanting around the streets of downtown Austin and for once in my life didn’t feel like throwing them in the garbage by the time 2am rolled around. These come in a close second – they pretty much go with everything. I won’t link the rest of the pairs because… coughcoughjessicasimpsonclaudettecoughcough … the sheer amount of recent additions to my closet is borderline embarrassing. Just know they are ALL fabulous.

 

And most importantly, my friends + family – the last few months have been rough, to say the least. Some have likely heard the same stories time and time again [Mayra, I’m looking at you] but I appreciate everyone’s love and support as I navigate this bullshit disguised as “life”. No one has asked for too many details, judged too hard, or tried to push their own individual thoughts on me. They’ve let me vent and deal with things on my own terms. I’ve conquered many situations and fell apart at just as many, but with the support of those around me I’ve made it through in one piece. This whole damn situation is terrible, but I’ll be okay. Not right now, not tomorrow, and probably not next month – but eventually. It’ll happen. I just need to figure out what’s most important to me and prioritize things according to how they’ll affect my overall well-being moving forward. I am a strong believer in karma and have been focusing on paying it forward with random acts of kindness over the past several months. I try to focus on those who have reached out and contributed to help make me feel whole again. Things would be a lot worse if I shut the rest of the world out and pretended like everything was a-ok, so as much as I hate to break down – it’s good for me. I hate talking about feelings as much as the next person, but I forced myself to do it. I knew I had to be open with what I was dealing with and the most important people came out to give me a shoulder to lean on when I needed it. And I can’t thank them enough for that.

If the shoe fits…

…put an insert in it.

Let’s talk about running shoes for the eleventy billionth time. (Previous discussions were had here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).

Since my three pairs of Brooks Adrenaline 11s (aka Best Shoes Ever) have been retired ((RIP)) I’ve been on a wild freakin’ goose chase trying to find the next best thing.

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Road Runner Sports put me in two pairs of neutral shoes, but after a month-ish of pounding the pavement in them it was obvious I still overpronated and they weren’t working.

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I finished up my Philly training in Adrenaline 12s but … they just didn’t fit the same as the 11s. (And wasn’t a fan of the 13s either) Using a credit from my RRS account I picked up the newly released Mizuno Wave Inspire 9 at the end of 2012. They fit much better than the 8s I had wear-tested at a local running store. However after three months I ran into the same issue I had with the Adrenalines – achy arches.

At that point I had it narrowed down to two options: Brooks Ravenna 4 and Mizuno Wave Creation 14.

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I ran the Austin 10/20 in the Mizunos but was hesitant to continue training in another neutral shoe, so I switched to the Ravennas for Long Branch. No arch pain, but there was dull shin pain and I knew shin splints were just around the corner.

While cleaning out my closet last month I found an old pair of Superfeet I had completely forgotten about since I bought my (twice as expensive) RRS inserts. And then it hit me: I’ve been running without inserts for almost a year. No wonder I was having shoe issues. I put the old pair of Superfeet in the Adrenaline 12s and use them for trail running + hiking. I also picked up a new pair to rotate between the Inspires and Ravennas, which has been working out surprisingly well. Arches and shins are both happy!

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Well that was an easy fix. And much cheaper than looking for yet another pair of running shoes.

Do you use inserts? Have you ever?

Five Things Friday

I have way too many random thoughts to be contained in a normal, paragraph driven post. So I’m jumping on the ever-popular X Things XXXXday wagon today.

1. I probably can’t even explain to you how excited I am for The Great Gatsby to hit theaters. (May 10th!!) Which is surprising considering my excitement to read the novel back in high school was pretty much nonexistent. The second trailer was released yesterday, but I think the first one is still my favorite. So I’ll show you both.

 

2. I’m back to square one with running shoes. I know, you’re probably not surprised. Despite what most may think, I’m not constantly buying new shoes because of my desire to always own something new. It’s simply because the ones I buy? Don’t work for me. I trained in the fall in a pair of Brooks Adrenaline 12s. They worked fine up until Philly Marathon and the Decker Half. After that point, my arches ached and required icing after every single run. I then transitioned into a pair of Mizuno Wave Inspires and the pain went away… until the week before ZOOMA. This time it seemed to travel from arch to the outside of my leg. Took a few days off and ran again – same problem. So I dropped from the half to the 5K at ZOOMA and ran in a pair of Pure Cadences that I use only for short runs. SO! I’m back on the hunt for a pair of shoes. The never ending saga. I’ve probably talked about this eleventy billion times on my blog but I promise once the problem is fixed, I’ll shut the hell up about it!

Brooks Ravenna vs Mizuno Wave Creation
Any recommendations for a flat-footed runner with a penchant for pronating?

3. I’m in love with the new Nuun flavors. new-nuun-flavorsAt first I thought I loved Cherry Limeade the most. I highly recommend mixing 1/2 tab of this one with 1/2 tab Kona Kola – it gets me through the afternoon slump at work. Then came Lemonade and it just tasted like SUMMER. It won me over with its effortless pairing with vodka and fresh lemon wedges. That is, until I tried Watermelon. It slightly edges out the other two. Unfortunately, that was the only flavor of the three that I DIDN’T buy a 4-pack of. Well until yesterday. Should be arriving by EOD on Monday. Whew, crisis averted.

Haven’t tried any of them yet? For a limited time, Nuun is offering a Summer Sampler that includes one tube of each new flavor.

4. I’m running the Austin 10/20 again this year.
austin-1020-bib-and-medalMy 2013 racing schedule started out really heavy and by the time the Austin Distance Challenge had wrapped up, I was ready to sail off into the sunset on a racing hiatus. I had roughly a month between the Austin Half and ZOOMA but apparently that was all I needed to want to race again. I was bummed that I had to downgrade to the 5K at ZOOMA and after some thought, decided to squeeze another race between now and the Long Branch Half Marathon next month Enter the Austin 10/20. I ran this race last year and it. was. AWESOME. I shouted its praises on pretty much every social platform I’m on because I enjoyed it so much (and even made it on to their Participant Feedback page!) So I signed up again.

5. BASEBALL IS BACK!!

2013 Boston Red Sox

Are you listening, MasterCard?

As I clicked submit on several online orders lately (Oiselle, Sparkly Soul, Road Runner Sports – just to name a few), I got to thinking. Running is EXPENSIVE. A far cry from the “just lace up your shoes and go” line I heard all too often when I first took up the sport.

Sparkly headbands to keep your hair out of your face

Sparkly Soul Team USA

Anti-chafe sticks to keep you comfortable on the run

Anti-Chafe

Sweat-wicking socks to make your feet happy

RRS Drymax

Headphones that stay in your ears for 10+ miles

Yurbuds

Shoes with the perfect balance of support and cushion

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A GPS watch to track your pace and mileage

Garmin Forerunner 305

And let’s not even get started on the race registration fees.

IBM Race Registration

Something I don’t recommend doing? Using Mint as your budgeting tool and tagging every single running expense. I did that for 2011 and nearly had a heart attack when I reviewed my annual expenses at the beginning of this year.

You know what would be nice? If we were rewarded for spending our hard-earned dollars on running-related purchases. Sure, some races hand out medals and shirts. You might win a pint glass for an AG win. Or receive a complimentary beer at the finish.

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But that’s not what I had in mind.

What if there was a credit card that could only be used for running-related purchases? What if every dollar you spent on Mizunos, Nuun, Gu or Lululemon earned you points? And then after hitting a certain threshold, you could redeem those points for running clothes? Or race registrations. Or running shoes!

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Gone are the days of feeling guilty for buying that pair of shorts you didn’t really need. Those shorts edged you one step closer to a free half marathon registration. Or a new pair of racing flats.

Are you listening, MasterCard? Runners need a credit card!

What do you think? Would you take advantage of a running credit card?

What do you spend the most money on when it comes to running?

I’m Ready

If you’re active on Twitter or read a fair amount of running blogs, you’ve most likely heard of Mizuno’s latest ad campaign, The Mezamashii Project.

Mezamashii Project

As explained by Mizuno:

Mezamashii is the Japanese word for eye-opening, or brilliant. The Mezamashii Run Project is our
quest to deliver a more brilliant running experience to dedicated runners everywhere.

Runners around the country are provided with a pair of running shoes, free of charge, to take out on their own brilliant run. Mizuno is so confident in their product that they’re leaving the advertising to the consumer. I think it’s an AMAZING concept. Honestly, I’m more apt to purchase a product reviewed by a fellow runner than be influenced by a marketing campaign. I love that they’re letting the shoes do the work for them, and don’t doubt runners across the country will be happily ticking away the miles in their new Mizunos.

A few weeks ago I won an invitation to the Mezamashii Project on Hit the Road Jane’s blog. I currently run long in Wave Riders, so I was tempted by the lighter version: the Wave Precision.

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They were super light, but didn’t fit as well as I would have liked. Thankfully Mizuno was incredibly understanding and wasted no time helping me order a replacement pair. Since I do still pronate slightly (the inserts I bought help correct that), I ended up with their high-cushioned support shoe: the Wave Nirvana.

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And if I’ve learned anything from Ashley, it’s that every pair of running shoes needs a pair of neon laces. Because they make you faster. And I don’t argue with fast.

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The Nirvanas feel cushioned, but firm – which I really didn’t think was possible. They hug my feet in all the right places and have plenty of room in the toe box. I’m really excited to take these out this weekend!

Mizuno Wave Nirvanas

I’m ready for my brilliant run.

These shoes were provided to me for free by Mizuno as a part of The Mezamashii Project. I received no further compensation. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

What do you think of the Mezamashii Project? Have you ever run in Mizunos?

Friday Favorites {Running}

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  • Shoes. After a trip to Road Runner Sports back in May, I discovered I was now a neutral runner and stocked up on a few pairs of the correct shoes:

Saucony Kinvara 2 (discontinued & super cheap!)

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Saucony Kinvara 3

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Mizuno Wave Rider 15

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  • Once I invested in a couple pairs of shorts, I knew there were two items I needed to add to my arsenal. They’re KEY items for a comfortable run. Please God don’t let me ever forget to use them…

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  • Garmin Forerunner 305. This guy has made a world of difference in my running. And mayyyybe turned me into a neurotic numbers obsessed girl. But hey – that’s how you get fast, right?

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  • iPod Shuffle & Yurbuds. I go back and forth on music while running. Sometimes I’d rather run without it and focus on my breathing. Sometimes I REALLY don’t want to run, so I need the music to drown out my thoughts. When it comes to headphones, I’ve been through pretty much every set on the market and NONE of them stay in my ears the way Yurbuds do. Great investment!

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  • BIC Bands. My hair turns into a hot mess when I’m running & these sparkly miracle workers keep flyaways out of my face. Plus every month they donate a portion of profits to a different charity! So awesome.

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  • The Grid. This helps me abuse my legs into a state of bliss. It gives new meaning to the phrase “hurt so good”

The Grid

 

  • RRS Drymax Socks. Unfortunately, these socks are expensive ($24.99 for 3 pair) but luckily I only run 3x a day (oh hey FIRST training plan!!) so the one pack I own works just fine. They keep my feet dry and blister-free. Oh! And they don’t effing slip down because they have the tab in the back. Happiness. Nothing I hate more on a run than having my sock fall down and wedge itself under the arch of my foot. ANNOYING. These fix that. THANK YOU BEST SOCKS EVER.

RRS Drymax

 

  • Pro Compression Marathon Sock. After I’m done stretching and beating the crap out of my calves with a foam roller, I compress the crap out of them in these glorious socks. They hug my feet and legs perfectly, making them feel wonderful. Perfect to sleep in or even wear to work. Compress your little heart out all day long. I have them in both pink and purple, and Brad has them in orange. And I’ll probably buy more colors because I have no self-control. Dear Pro Compression, can you make sleeves? I will love you forever. Please and thank you. I know Ashley will buy some too.

Pro Compression

 

  • Nathan Handheld. After I bought one last summer, I pretty much turned into a hydration snob. Now if I go for a run without it, I’ll whine the whole time about how thirsty I am. Don’t I sound like a real joy to be around? Anyway, to cut down on the bitching I’ll bring this thing every time. I’ve been running with it for a year now and honestly forget I’m carrying it. Keeps me hydrated and LOVE it during races. Avoid water stops? Yes please! Recently I bought a new one (the one below, in traffic cone orange) and its big enough to hold my ginormous phone. WIN!

Nathan Handheld

 

  • Road ID. NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT!! Seriously, if you don’t have one, please get one. It can save your life!

Road ID

Jeez that’s a lot of stuff. I remember when I first started running, someone told me it was a cheap sport. They DEFINITELY lied to me. Rude.

What’s your favorite can’t-live-without-it piece of running gear?

The One Where Road Runner Sports Made Me Buy All of the Things

When I was in New Jersey last month, I finally had the chance to visit a Road Runner Sports store. I enter my credit card number on their website on a fairly regular basis and am a member of their VIP Program, but unfortunately (well, fortunately, for my bank account) they don’t currently have any stores in Austin. Or Texas, for that matter. I knew there was a location in Shrewsbury and included it on my to-do list before the wheels even touched down in the Garden State.

Monday after the marathon we set out in an attempt to drown my DNF sorrows with some retail therapy. There was only one thing I wanted from the store: custom insoles. Obviously something I can’t buy online. I met with an employee who asked me countless questions (what are you training for? any injuries? how many miles do you run? where do you run?) and then I stepped onto a machine to determine what kind of arches I had.

She asked me what kind I thought I had, to which I promptly responded matter-of-factly with flat. Apparently I was WRONG. I have high arches, but flexible ones. Basically this means they collapse fairly easily (which is why I was led to believe I had flat arches), causing shin splints. Oh! I know what those are! I’ve had them 245843957 times! Next she watched me run on the treadmill, where I learned I’ve corrected my form tremendously since my last gait analyis but still pronate a little bit. She pulled out a pair of insoles and, using a special machine, heated them up to mold perfectly to my feet. Pretty cool!

Since my form is much better than in the past, my pronation has decreased a lot, and my diagnosis of arch type is now high – I am now classified as a neutral runner. I knew what was coming next, and so did my wallet as it immediately tried to make a run for the door.

New shoes.

If you’ve been reading for awhile, you know my addiction to running shoes. In the past it was mostly a quest to find the perfect pair that kept my shin splints at bay. Once I settled in on the Brooks Adrenaline 11s last summer, I purchased them in a few colors and ceased shoe shopping. When the Saucony Guide 5 came out, I purchased them for shorter runs but was pretty nervous to log any serious miles on them due to the 8mm drop. Shortly after that my running burnout was in full effect and shoes were no longer an issue.

Until now.

I’m not opposed to buying new shoes, but that wasn’t the purpose of the trip to RRS on that particular day. Especially with the 49.0 pound suitcase I brought home with me. New shoes certainly wouldn’t fit in there without hitting the 50 pound threshold, resulting in a $50 overage fee. But I humored the salesperson and let her bring out shoes for me to gallivant around the store in.

I was pretty adamant about my feet not liking Nike shoes but she still brought me out a pair of Vomeros, insisting I give them a try. And I did – still not a fan. I pulled on a pair of New Balance 890s which were incredibly light but the toebox felt a little small. I tried on the Brooks Ghost but didn’t love the way they fit, and the Launch, which again were really light but didn’t fit right. I mentioned to her how I’d really prefer a lighter shoe, but something that would hug my foot a little better.

Enter the Mizuno Wave Rider 15. I tried this style (maybe the 11 or 12?) out a few years ago when I first started running and they didn’t work for me. Well obviously. They’re a neutral shoe and I needed something very stable, borderline motion control.  But that day when I added the insert and laced them up, they fit incredibly well. I jogged throughout the store a few times to get a feel for the shoe and really loved them.

While I was wearing out the carpet, the salesperson had pulled another pair of shoes for me: the Saucony Kinvara 3s. They were beautiful (I know, not important…) and SO.DAMN.LIGHT! I couldn’t get over how much lighter the shoe was than the Mizunos.

After much deliberation in my “must-have-all-the-shoes” brain, I just couldn’t talk myself into buying one or the other. I needed both. Okay fine, I didn’t NEED both. I wanted both. With marathon training coming up the Kinvaras would be perfect for speedwork at the track and short tempos, while the Mizunos would carry me through my weekend long runs on the trails.

I had already made the decision in my head and my mom could see it in my eyes. Brad was telling me I should buy the Sauconys now and get the Mizunos later. My mom kindly read my mind and informed him that I clearly wanted both. His response? “So get both!” Such an enabler he is. And by “get both” he meant he was going to buy the Mizunos for me. So it only made sense for me to return the favor a few weeks later and buy him the Green Lanterns.

I bought the inserts and the Kinvaras, and did a happy dance all the way to the car. Until a few miles down the road where I realized the cashier didn’t put the inserts in the bag and we had to make a u-turn. Oops.

So. I’m a neutral runner now. Glad we got that all straightened out before Philly training started.

Oh, and I ended up needing to check an additional bag for the flight home. Turns out 2 pairs of shoes > 1 pound.

The Impromptu Tempo

Thursday was technically my Friday, and when my boss cut me loose 4 hours earlier than expected – I didn’t ask questions.

I hit the road.

The thought of changing into sweatpants and getting cozy on the couch was incredibly appealing to me. But I hadn’t run since Monday and knew I should get a couple miles in. And more importantly, a rainy Christmas weekend kept me from breaking in the new Adrenalines for Operation Jack. It was time.

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Rather than kicking off the run at Brushy Creek Lake Park as usual, I changed it up by starting at mile marker 0 at Twin Lakes Park.

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I didn’t look at my training schedule before leaving the house so I had to improvise. I decided it would be a tempo run.

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Initially I thought 4 miles would suffice but ended up with 6.

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1.5 mile warmup, 3 tempo miles (9:55, 9:43, 9:43) and 1.5 mile cooldown.

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This waterfall wasn’t here a couple months ago – thank goodness Austin is finally getting some rain again!

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All in all, it was an awesome run. With the exception of one little thing…

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I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve run this trail, but for the first time ever, I tripped. And fell. HARD.

Battle wounds: scraped up elbow and knee, scratched Garmin and camera. I’ll take the scratched electronics considering they broke my fall.

Also, what the hell are Lululemon crops made of? I managed to take a layer of skin off my knee (TMI?) but the crops are completely intact still. Amazing.

And that was the story of the impromptu tempo run.

Have you ever taken a fall on a run?