What’s Up?

I don’t know about you, but lately the weeks are just flying by here! I feel like once we hit May, every weekend has been filled with traveling, working out like crazy, weddings, parties, BBQs, and general craziness with no clear end in sight. Last weekend we had legitimately nothing on the calendar and freaked out: I swore I had to be forgetting something! But it was nice to relax for about 2.4 hours before swinging right back into things.

Let’s take a look at some highlights from the past month or two and get caught up, shall we?

We have a winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered last week’s Mermaid Club Giveaway – I love being able to give you guys cool stuff 🙂 And now, drumroll please…. our winner is Michelle B!

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Check your email, girl, I’ve sent you the deets on how to get your goods 🙂

I’m Tri-ing (Again)

After two polar opposite experiences at the Jersey Girl and One More Tri sprint triathlons last year, I wasn’t itching to burst back onto the triathlon scene anytime soon. But I’m highly suggestible, and when my coworker said she wanted to do her first sprint tri and I mentioned the Jersey Girl as the best one for beginners, before I knew what was happening I was registered for it again.

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I don’t know how it happened, I swear!

I’m honestly really excited – all the tri training I did last summer had a HUGE impact on my endurance and speed as a runner once I got back into a single sport come the fall, so I’m pretty stoked to have all that cross training to look forward to.

I unofficially started training a few weeks ago by incorporating biking and swimming into my weekly workouts, and as of next week I’ll start doing brick workouts to get back into the swing of biking then running. I also continue to bump up my strength training to get stronger overall, which I hope will pay off in the long run.

My friend got married (and we had a vacation too)!

On June 10th, my friend (and sometimes running/racing buddy) Tina married her sweetheart Justin in LBI and we had the honor of celebrating with them and a bunch of our wild and crazy friends!

This crew is the best – they’re the most loyal, drama-free people I know, and they REALLY know how to party, so it’s always a good time. And to keep the good times rolling after the wedding, we stuck around in LBI for the weekend and fully embraced the island life. We go down there every year and have adopted it as our second home, so it’s always a nice relaxing getaway.

I won a Kylo Ren doll at a carnival stand on the first spin (!!) and Mike got to test out his Captain chops, then the morning we left we headed over to Barnegat to climb the lighthouse like we do every year – my knees were aching after but it was worth it!

I’m still running happy

While I haven’t been the best at keeping you all up to date on my running adventures here, if you’ve been following along with me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, you can attest to the fact that I’m still running, and almost all of those miles are indeed happy!

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I even discovered a new trail – right in my hometown! It’s not so much of a trail as it as a nature preserve, and I was the only runner on it the day I went (aside from a family of fishermen and women on the opposite side of the lake), but it was so cool. I spent an afternoon on my own, exploring the ins and outs of this new area, snapping pics as I went.

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I even got to nail my first solo jumping picture!

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There’s been a few other exciting events – namely, an awesome 5K I helped my company take part in, which I’ll recap later this week – but other than that it’s quiet and I like it that way!

How about you: now that summer is here, how’s your training going? Do anything good the past few months? Share!

Global Running Day Flashback

OK so in case you haven’t noticed yet, I SUCK at this whole “regular blogging” thing. But I never promised you a rose garden (or a blog that you can count on reading regularly), so there we are.

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For those of you who still actually read this dusty old online journal of mine, let’s take a peek back at Global Running Day, which took place on June 1!

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The team at Brooks Running was kind enough to send me a little GRD care package (and a super sweet note!) in advance of the day, and my sister-in-law and I decided to celebrate with a post-work trail running adventure on a new (to me) path near Princeton.

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You guys. It was GORGEOUS. I’d never been to this canal before, but now that I know it’s only about 8 miles from where I work, I will definitely be going back more often.

We met up after work and set off in one direction on the trails, stopping for pictures and exploring the little bridges and different paths. The canal itself was my favorite part – about every 50 yards or so along the one part of the trail we explored, there were little clearings, some with benches, that gave you a beautiful view of the canal and the sunset.

Because it was Global Running Day, this run wasn’t about speed or distance – it was about enjoying the journey and having fun. Which we TOTALLY had to be forced into, you know:

Super serious runners. That’s what we are.

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I wished we could have stayed out there forever but the lack of bathrooms, deluge of BUGS, and quickly setting sun left us no choice – it was sticky and itchy and getting dark quickly! We called it a day after 5K and vowed to return to the canal for another post-work running date ASAP.

How did you celebrate Global Running Day? 

Hit the Trails

After taking on the hills of Central Park in the Oakley Mini 10K on Saturday, I thought my legs would be a lot more shredded than they were when I woke up on Sunday! So when the urge to move hit me bright and early, Mike and I decided to take advantage of the shade at Holmdel Park and headed for the trails.

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It was already a hot day just like Saturday – warm and humid by 10am – but we packed up a few water bottles and some Nuun and Quest Bars and figured we’d take it slow. I didn’t plan on running a lot, but knew I wanted to cover 5K to complete 15K in the weekend and get a nice distance in for the Skirt Sports Virtual 13er, too! So we took to the main trail and chatted about life and the week ahead and had a nice slow go of the first mile and change.

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We even made a little friend who we caught eating in the tall grass in the middle of the field there! She stood statue-still the entire time we walked by and talked pretty to her, but the next time we passed by she was gone.

Once we got tired of fighting through the swarms of bugs on the main trail, we decided to go into the woods for some relief from the gnats and the sun, and it was absolutely magical.

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Seriously, can’t you just hear the Disney birds chirping?

We took on the hills, rocks, roots, and twisty trails together, working up a sweat and smiling the whole time. My favorite part was looking for the oldest tree carvings we could find – we spotted one from 1970! – and imagining the stories around the people whose names were carved into the bark.

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Once we got to mile 2.5, we started challenging ourselves at each “Fit Station” we found – old plastic signs and metal bars for hikers to do pull ups, lunges, stretches and climbing. We got more of a workout laughing at how chicken we were to do some of the more intense moves (and how silly we looked flailing around while attempting them)!

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I finally felt the urge to run for the last half mile and change, so I jetted up and down some hills and capped off our day’s adventure at a little more than a 5K – all in my Gym Girl skirt from Skirt Sports! I know I’ve said it before, but these skirts really are the best. I ran the Oakley 10K in one and spent all day traipsing around the trails in one Sunday, and never once had to tug at the shorts underneath or stop to adjust myself like I would in regular shorts or other running skits. If you’re interested in checking them out for yourself, use my ambassador code SSJRH20 for 20% off your order!

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After all that fun, my legs were finally feeling the burn. So we headed home, split a nice big sandwich, and after a loooong cool shower I spent a good part of the afternoon dozing off on the couch before we finally went to see Mad Max: Fury Road! 🙂

How did you guys spend the rest of your weekend? Do you have any fun trails that you like to run on? Share the love, I’m always looking for a new place to explore!

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.

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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.

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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.