Seaside Semper Five 2015 – Race Recap (and a Discount Code!)

Last year I ran the Seaside Semper Five 5k for the first time and fell in love with the race – I mean what’s not to love about a fast, flat 5k that runs along the boardwalk for 1.5 miles and ON the boardwalk for 1.6? My 2014 time was one of the year’s best, so I was excited to see what 2015 would bring.

The morning of the race we headed down to the shore. And man, it was FOGGY!

IMG_1980

In addition to the fog, I was surprised at just how HOT it was already. The week prior to the race saw morning temps in the gorgeous 60-65 range, but mother nature still had some summer up her sleeve and it was already 75-ish degrees!

IMG_1990

After finishing half a bottle of Cocogo to top off my fuel levels (since it had been more than 2 hours since breakfast), I made my way over to the start area and began to loosen up. I sang along to my music, dancing to Uptown Funk, wiggling and jiggling and getting excited. I was feeling good!! PS, yeah I know I’m that girl when Iย sing and dance to myself at a race.ย #sorrynotsorry

IMG_2013

It was especially nice to be surrounded by some really inspirational folks at this race. It’s a fundraising event for the MARSOC Foundation, which supports active duty and medically retired MARSOC personnel and their families, as well as the families of Marines and Sailors who have lost their lives in service. The Marines and veterans running the race are some of the most dedicated folks I’ve ever met, and it was an honor to run with them.

The gun went off a little after 9 and we took off through the haze and heat. It was crowded but not too bad – I didn’t find myself getting passed by EVERYONE like I sometimes do in these smaller races. In fact it was the opposite – the first mile clicked by almost too easily at 10:30 – who was I?? I didn’t feel like I was pushing at all, so I kept on, but that heat though – UGH! By the water station/turn onto the boardwalk at mile 1.5, I was desperate for water. The poor kids at the table didn’t know what to do with the runners clamoring for the little cups of water they were pouring from bottles, so they handed out the full bottles instead. Smart kids! So I grabbed a bottle and continued onto the boardwalk for the next mile or so, sipping every 2-3 minutes with walk/run intervals to keep from overheating.

Around mile 2.5 I came up behind a gentleman with a faux-hawk who took a look at me over his shoulder, made a face that said “Oh hell no,” and took off. Thanks for the motivation, dude! My average pace had gone from 10:30 to 11:25, but I was determined to beat this guy and bring my average down again for the finish. I turned on my latest power song (Run the Jewels’ “Close Your Eyes”), cranked up the pace, and passed him at about mile 2.8, and just kept on going. This was my first time “chicking” someone – it felt good!

semper

Nearing the finish line I saw 35:xx on the clock and kicked it into high gear, crossing officially at 35:26 (although my Garmin said 34:40, so neener neener)!

IMG_1995

Considering I ran it in 2014 in 36:50, I’ll take either result! Mike found me and we walked back inside the Sawmill where I chilled out, stopped dripping sweat, and finished my Cocogo.

IMG_1988s

Within a few minutes I was feeling great again, so we headed down the boardwalk in search of some good old shore food.

IMG_1997

The haze still stuck around, turning the boardwalk into a pretty cool scene!

IMG_2002

This is what I mean by good old shore food: pizza bigger than my HEAD!

IMG_1999

Also ice cream. I did not eat any, but I had to recreate last year’s gigantic ice cream cone pic!

IMG_2007

We also met up with my cousin who had also run the race – Hi, Heather!

Once the haze was gone and the sun came out, I started to poop out. I had a triathlon the next day and forgot my sunscreen (BAD runner!) so I didn’t want to overtax my legs or my skin too bad. We called it a day and headed home to relax, and another successful Seaside Semper Five was in the books!

Honestly, my success at this race had a lot to do with my fueling. Usually I eat a lite pre-race breakfast when I wake up and end up racing at least 2 hours later, which doesn’t leave enough fuel in the tank. This time I planned ahead with my Cocogo and sipped continuously on half a bottle for about an hour before the start once we arrived, and I was thrilled with my performance. My energy levels stayed consistently high throughout the race (no mile 2 slump) and my stomach stayed cramp-free!

IMG_2012

I’ve tried a lot of different fueling options in the past, but for my day to day runs and shorter races, Cocogo is the answer for me! If you want to try some out for yourself, I’m super excited to announce that I’m a new Cocogo Ambassador, and I’ve got a great discount for you! Use code JESSRUNSHAPPY and get 20% off your order through the end of October – after that, the code will get you 10%, but why wait? Pick up a box and try it out for yourself today! Let me know what you think – I love the raspberry/passion fruit, but grape is slowly becoming my go-to. What about you? ๐Ÿ™‚

What’s in the [Bulu] Box??

Sorry, I couldn’t resist a little vintage 90’s Brad Pitt action there. Because today we’re taking a look inside BuluBox, a monthly subscription box that’s billed as “the best way to discover the health, nutrition and weight loss products that are right for YOU!”

IMG_0131

I’ve tried subscription boxes like Ipsy and Birchbox before, but eventually cancelled both of those memberships, so I’ll admit I was skeptical at first. But when I was presented with the opportunity to get a free box in exchange for my review (and an awesome coupon code for YOU!), I couldn’t say no – Bulu Box is the first health, nutrition and weight loss discovery box out there. Each custom box comes with a variety of 4-5 premium samples from top brands to try, and every sample is sufficient enough to decide if the product is right for you. So when I got my box I dove right in and started trying things out!

IMG_0132

Regardless of what was in it, I have to admit: there’s an undeniable thrill in getting a fun little box that’s filled with goodies just for you, every month! ๐Ÿ™‚

40553403

Alright, alright, let’s get to it. First off, you see that little blue card in the right hand side up there? That’s $100 off a $160 wine order at nakedwines.com. Umm, hello?? Did they like, stalk me before sending me this box or what?

The next fun thing I jumped at was that full size bottle of vegetarian gummy vitamins. At first I scoffed – Martha Stewart Vitamins? I’m all for getting nutrients, but did I need to see her face right on the bottle every morning?

vitamins

Well, it turns out those things are the bomb. Or rather, tiny little delicious flavor bombs that I had to smack out of my husbands hands when I discovered that he was eating them like candy. No wonder I’m already out of them! I did notice a subtle weird aftertaste, but that could be because they’re vegetarian? Not a deal breaker though. Overall Grade: A

IMG_0319

Next up were the MovIt Energy Gummies. I’ve tried a ton of other gummies before/during my runs in the past and they don’t work well for me (unless they’re bears of the gummy variety, go figure). So I was hesitant to try something new. I also wasn’t thrilled to see the first two ingredients were corn syrup and sugar, but what the heck – I DO occasionally fuel up with gummy bears, so who am I to turn my nose up? They were tougher than I expected, which actually worked in their favor – I didn’t get that funky glue-mouth feeling. I took them about 15-20 minutes before a 4-miler after work one night and they worked a bit better than I expected! The energy wasn’t jarring, it seeped in slowly, and I was able to maintain a nice steady pace through all 4 miles, even when I had to take on some unexpected hills and sprint down one creepy street when it got darker before I anticipated. Overall Grade: A

The next morning I tried the Energy Coffee packet and was less than thrilled, though:

IMG_1046

First strike: it’s instant coffee. There’s just never going to be an instant coffee as good as the real, fresh-brewed thing. Second – and most disappointingly – it didn’t give me any kind of energy boost like it claims to! I found myself staggering to the real coffee in my office cafeteria later that day just to get through the 2pm slump, which I NEVER do. Overall Grade: C- (they can’t all be winners, I suppose)

IMG_1466

Next I tried the other vitamin supplement in the box: Ovega-3 Vegetarian softgels. These promote eye and heart health like any other omega-3/fish oil type of vitamin, but I’m guessing the seller here is that they’re veggie? I also appreciated the lack of fishy aftertaste I’ve had with some other fish oil pills – and can I get an amen for the fact that they’re not HUGE pills? I just don’t know if I’d buy the whole bottle because I’m not currently on the market for fish oil pills. Overall Grade: B+

IMG_1467

Last – and I’m sorry, but deliberately least – were the FunnBar Protein Candy Chews. I had high hopes for these little guys, as I’m a big fan of finding new ways to add protein to my diet. And with only 15 calories & zero sugar they seemed promising! Once I looked closer though, I found that they only had 1.5 grams of protein per chew, which honestly, isn’t that much. Some almonds will totally give me more than that, and they’re a lot more nutritional. Nevertheless I tried them, and well – have you ever tried the flavored Tootsie Rolls they put out around Easter? They come in weird flavors like lime and creamsicle and vanilla, but they always taste a little off. That’s what these things reminded me of. The Chocolate Caramel flavor was a total struggle to get through, but the Citrus Blast chew was kind of OK. I wouldn’t go nuts over it, but it at least tasted better. Overall Grade: D

There’s one more thing in my box that I have yet to try: the Upset Stomach Relief To Go packet. But that’s only because I haven’t had an upset stomach yet! It’s in my purse and ready to go though ๐Ÿ™‚

So that’s what was in my Bulu Box! I’m super stoked to see what else is out there with this thing – and the best part about it? You can get 50% off of a 3-month subscription when you use discount code SWEATPINK! I know I’ll definitely be looking into getting a subscription of my own. Go check them out and see what Bulu can do for you!

Chin Up Apparel Review & Giveaway!

I’ve been a big fan of Chin Up Apparel for a while now – my obsession first began with the tanks I found in Kohls and Target:
10891063_1575950605975064_948501027_n10950547_640870332706633_1486774122_n

They also have a bunch of wine-related running gear, like the “Will Run for Wine” tank I ran my last race in (even if it was covered by a race bib):

IMG_5605

I even discovered that with a little ingenuity, you can get some more “outside the gym” mileage out their gear like I did with the Zen Elephant racerback tank I got direct from their site:

IMG_5675

While it’s slightly different from the other pieces I own (the straps are thinner & it’s a Woman’s fit as opposed to Juniors), the quality is still super high like I’ve come to expect from Chin Up. The slouchy fabric was perfect for working out outside: not too thick and loose enough to give me room to breathe, but not so thin that it’s see-through or feels cheap. Just the opposite – the softness and richness of the fabric really stands out. And because the print doesn’t scream “I’m working out!” it was able to turn it into a fun little date-night outfit too:

IMG_5880 (2)

But enough of all that – why not get one of your own? Enter now for your chance to win a tank top of your choice courtesy of Chin Up Apparel! Contest ends on Tuesday, 6/9, and you can earn entries in a number of different ways – and the best part about this giveaway is that there will be TWO winners! – so go ahead and enter now, today could be your lucky day!

Trying out the DeskCycle

If you’ve seen some of my recent Instagram posts, you’ll notice that I’ve been doing some different cross training this past week, and I’m thrilled to finally be able to tell you all about it!

IMG_5426aAfter throwing my name into the pool for a “calling all bloggers” post on the Girls Gone Sporty Ambassador page, the folks at DeskCycle contacted me asking if I’d like to review their flagship product. I felt like I’d won the lottery! I accepted, and last Monday I received a note from our office warehouse manager saying that I had a package downstairs. It was like Christmas morning!

IMG_5427

Once my lunch hour rolled around I quickly got to work on putting it together – and surprised myself when I got it all right on the first try in under 10 minutes! Ikea furniture takes me like 3 hours and half a bottle of wine, so I was impressed with myself. The directions were super easy to follow and they even included that cute little wrench you see in the pic up there to help speed things along.

I was also very surprised by the high quality of this thing – it was SOLID. I had a little difficulty getting it up to my desk because the box was so heavy (maybe that’s a sign that I need some Desk Arm Weights?), and the pieces are heavy metal, ensuring that it’ll stay put no matter where you place it. Really impressive!

IMG_5433The coolest part was this little egg-shaped desktop display that connects to the bike and gives me a live feed of my speed, distance, calories burned, and total pedaling time! It’s extremely motivating to see that little thing staring me in the face, urging me to pedal some more. But I’ll get to that in detail later.

IMG_5429Once I got it all set up and under my desk, it took about 15 minutes to adjust the height of my chair and distance I needed to sit away from it in order to not bash my knees into the underside of my desk with every rotation, but luckily I’m a fast learner.

After a handful of co-workers all wandered by to take their turn trying it out (I had 4 coworkers who practically threw their credit cards at me to order their own once they tried it out), I settled in after lunch for some actual WORK, adjusted the handy little tension knob right between my feet to a level of 2 to start, and pedaled away.

It was virtually silent – the number one question I received on IG when I first posted about it – so unless you work in a library or office where you can literally hear a mouse fart, you don’t need to worry about annoying anyone. The only related noise I’ve heard in a week of using it is my chair squeaking as I pedal, but that’s my chair and not the bike!

I soon fell into a super focused zone as I compiled stats and did my day job work, and about 10-15 minutes into my ride, I found myself really sweating!! Usually I’m the one huddling up in a thick cardigan and complaining about how cold I am, but just a few miles on this thing and I was burning up! It happened so quickly that I had a brief moment of confusion before I realized that yes, I’d been biking, and… holy crap I did like 3 miles already! That was when I was hooked. Throughout the rest of the day, I’d pedal some more, step away from my desk to take care of something, come back and start up again. Before I knew it, 5pm rolled around, my legs were jelly, and I had completed more than 10.1 miles in 47 minutes!

IMG_5441That was all it took to hook me – now it was a game. I HAD to beat my mileage the next day! So Tuesday rolled around and I started my biking even earlier. I cranked up the tension to 3 this time, and felt the difference immediately. It also made me experience some “drifting” for the first few minutes too, which was a little annoying. I would pedal harder, only to push myself away from my desk and the bike, then have to wheel myself in again.

The folks at DeskCycle already had me covered though, because the bike comes complete with this neat little velcro Tether Strap that you can loop around your chair base and the front stand of the bike. Once you get it hooked around nice and tight, you magically stay put with no effort at all! Once I took care of that, I was able to crank out 15.5 miles throughout the day, with a total of 55 active minutes and 572 calories burned! I again sweat through my shirt after a few particularly strenuous bursts of cycling while filing emails, and while I’m not 100% sure how accurate the calorie counter is, 15.5 miles is nothing to sneeze at! Even if I burned 1/2 of those calories, that’s still something!

IMG_5452The competition with myself became fierce – my legs were super tired at the end of every day, but it was a great feeling getting this hard work in when I was sitting at my desk. I’m usually bushed by the end of the day, and pushing myself for a ride or run after a full day is sometimes a struggle. But with this fun little device, I was getting a good hour’s worth of workouts done each day while also working!

Wednesday I clocked a total of 17.1 miles in just over 59 minutes, and Thursday I managed to get in 18.2 miles in 66 minutes! It became a game – my coworkers would see me sweating as we held impromptu meetings around our desks and I pedaled away, and every few hours someone would yell out “How many miles are you at now?” and no matter what the number, their responses were always something like “I have got to get one of those!”

IMG_5516Friday was the final day of my self-imposed challenge, and I managed to clock a total of 18.5 miles, beating Thursday’s mileage by a hair. It’s true that 2.5 of those miles were running in the morning because I hadn’t run in days! But the 16 miles I biked throughout the day were still 16 miles, and I was amazed at the numbers I racked up over just one week’s use:

  • Total Miles Biked: 77 miles
  • Total Active Minutes: 4:44:09
  • Total Calories Burned: 2,828

All told, I was thoroughly impressed by the DeskCycle. I went into this thinking it might be a fun thing that I’d use and get tired of because it was too flimsy or didn’t give me a good idea of what I was doing, but this far exceeded my expectations. I get such a sense of accomplishment seeing those little numbers add up, and the wobbly-leg feeling I get at the end of every day tell me that I’m doing something right! It’s a super high-quality bike that will get your blood pumping while you’re doing every day tasks at your desk or even on the couch at home! My husband is dying to get one, and while I’ve promised him I’ll bring it home for him to try out, I have to admit: I think I’m just keeping this one and getting him one for our anniversary so I don’t have to share!

For more information or to get a DeskCycle of your own, check out their website – and tell them that JessRunsHappy sent you!

Disclosure: DeskCycle provided me a free sample in exchange for my honest review. Receiving product did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

Review: BioSkin Q-Baby Patella Tendon Strap

A few weeks ago, a rep from BioSkin contacted me about writing a review in exchange for some gear and I jumped at the opportunity: I’m always looking for new tools to help build my strength & improve my running. Plus I love sharing info with you guys – it can be hard to weed through the endless stream of running-related products out there and I rely heavily on runner reviews of products before I buy, so now’s my chance to give back with a review of my own!

After offering to send me a pair of compression calf sleeves, I asked the rep if I might be able to try out one of their knee braces instead. I explained that ever since my knee surgery, I’ve dealt with recurring knee injuries; most recently the patellar tendonitis flare up last summer that caused me to drop from the full marathon to the half in October.

The rep was super helpful and offered their Q-Baby Patella Tendon Strap. After my injury last summer I picked up a similar (albeit much cheaper) little tendon strap from the local running store and found it to be immensely helpful. Until it gave me a rash while running and stretched out to the point of being unusable after a week. I had high hopes for this BioSkin brace, and I’ll spoil the surprise for you right now by saying I was not disappointed!

IMG_5348The brace arrived much quicker than expected, along with a handful of snack samples and a fun ladies cut t-shirt too. This made me laugh – in the rep’s initial email, he actually said “I see that you like to take the occasional running selfie, so how about we give you a shirt, too?” I was super impressed – the man had done his homework!

IMG_5345 IMG_5346aThe next morning I decided to test this baby (literally, the Q-Baby – what a cute name for a brace) in some pretty harsh conditions: by 9am it was already 80 degrees and rising, at about 75% humidity. Because the sun was so hot, I opted to run under the shade of Holmdel Park, which worked out great: I was able to really put myself – and the brace! – to the test with hills, uneven trails, and lots of other knee-crushing fun. If it could survive an hour or more of sweat and challenging terrain, it could probably survive anything I’m capable of.

IMG_5385

I was a little intimidated at first by the setup of the brace – it’s comprised of two parts that all velcro together – but the instructions were super easy to follow and I got it right on the first try. The design and quality stood out immediately: because the strap narrows down in the back, you don’t get the itchy discomfort of leftover velcro rubbing on your skin with every step, and the second part of the brace served as reinforcement to the first compressive strap. This means that even if the initial brace with the compressive pad stretched out like my old cheapie brace did (which the Q-Baby did not, more on that later), the second strap that wraps around it will still be there to hold the pad against the tendon and ease your pain.

qbaby_5165_2

After a few hops and laps around the yard without any brace slippage or pain (hooray!), I hopped in the car, picked up my running buddy, Kevin, and we headed to the trails. Once we warmed up and started to pick up the pace, the sweat started to drip pretty much everywhere. It was one of those humid days where your legs instantly get a sheen of sweat as soon as you step outside, but that did nothing to move this brace. In the first mile we trekked over rocky hills and a cute little bridge and I absolutely forgot about the brace on my knee. No pain in the patella, no uncomfortable rubbing from the brace, nothing!

IMG_5401At mile one we made a bathroom stop, and that was the only time I adjusted the brace all day. It wasn’t slipping, but I tightened it more for reassurance than anything, because we were ready to attack the next 4 miles with intensity. We’d coast down hills in one mile then double back to see if we could keep pace on the way back up, and breathlessly fought each rolling hill. It was hard work, especially in that heat, but we had a blast!

IMG_5390From the moment we started until the very last steps, my knee felt great. In humidity it tends to act up, but the brace was like a little security blanket that kept it happy and allowed me to really push myself. I was even able to shift my weight and experiment with different ways of tackling the hills, like focusing on using my glutes on one, then using my hamstrings on another. I was able to use my legs in ways that I’d been previously afraid to because of my tendonitis, thanks to this brace!

IMG_5395When we finished our 5 miles in 1:15, I expected the strap to be stretched out and basically unusable (just like my old cheapie brace). But even after more than an hour of bending, sweating, and running, I was shocked to find that with the exception of some streaks of sunblock, it’s still in perfect shape and ready to rock again. I can’t wait to take it out on another run and see what else I’m capable of!

Have you tried BioSkin before? Are you digging any other compression/braces to ease your aching joints? Share your opinions in the comments!

Disclosure: BioSkin provided me a free sample in exchange for my honest review. Receiving product did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.