Product Review: C3fit Compression Gear

A while ago, the team at C3fit reached out to see if I’d be interested in trying out some of their compression gear. Because I love being able to test things out and share what I enjoy with you guys, I said sure!

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Not only do they have compression tights, but they also have a full line of high-performance compression gear in fun, different prints. Example: I never knew I would love white camo as much as I love it on those calf sleeves up there!

I’ve always loved running in compression socks or calf sleeves. They keep me running longer with less fatigue, and help me recover after really hard efforts. Anytime I run 5 miles or more, you can bet I’ll have some kind of compression on.

I will admit, though: I’ve always been a little scared of compression tights. Because honestly – if the SOCKS are that hard to get on, how much more difficult will it be to wiggle my jiggle into a pair of super-suction-y full length tights?

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Answer: not at all. The C3fit Inspiration tights are compression, but they’re nowhere near as hard to get on as I thought they’d be! They were no more difficult to get into than a pair of tights, didn’t give me any muffin top, and felt incredibly soft to boot. They were easy to move in regardless of the activity: they kept me supported (and looking fly) through a tough speedwork session one day, held up well during strength training, and even handled a quick post-run yoga session without needing to be adjusted.

Bonus: I look forward to getting to rock these more often when the weather cools off again. In the past I’ve faced the struggle of trying to squeeze compression socks OVER or UNDER my full length tights when the temps drop on race day or long run day, but with these I don’t have to! They support me all over and keep my legs fresh without the extra layer or added bulk.

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And when it comes to compression socks, I consider myself an unofficial expert. I’ve run in a lot of different brands and have discovered that while they each have their pros and cons, there’s always something to love – and the C3fit socks are no different. They’re super plush but not too thick, and the colors are really vibrant.

As soon as I put them on I could feel the extra support all over. I know they say you’re not supposed to try anything new on a long run, but I went for 7 miles in these babies right out of the package and didn’t get one blister or cramp the entire time. And even though they were thicker than I’m used to, I didn’t get the “swimming in sweat” feeling I get with other thick socks. Winning!

Long story short, if you’re in the market for some high quality compression gear, check out C3fit. Whether you’re looking for socks, sleeves, tights, or whatever – they’ve got it and I’m pretty sure you’re going to like it!

 

How to Prepare for a Half Marathon (or any race, really)

When I first started running I had NO idea what I was doing. I showed up way too early to my first 5K in a cotton tank top and shoes I bought because I liked the colors, I didn’t eat enough before the race, and I had a miserable time. Ask my husband: after that race, I said “I don’t think racing is for me.”

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Clearly, I AM A LYING LIAR WHO LIES.

Fast forward 6 years and here I am nearly 9 half marathons and countless 5Ks, 10Ks, and other distances later, and a lot smarter about how to prepare for race day. Whether you’ve run one race or 1,000, here are a few lessons I’ve learned that will hopefully help you get to the finish line with a smile:

1. Make a list

I am super Type A. I love order and planning and preparedness and lists. I will legit write something I’ve already done on my to-do list just to cross it off and get that feeling of accomplishment. Should I probably see someone about that? Perhaps. BUT, this character trait (flaw?) has served me well in my 6 years of racing, and it’ll help you too.

Make a list of everything you will possibly need for race day – and I mean EVERYTHING – like a week in advance, and start gathering it in one space like the dining room table or a box in the corner of the bedroom. Check the list often. And while you’ve probably got a handful of your own things that you know you’ll need on race day, here’s a list to get you started:

  • sneakers
  • socks (no cotton – spend the money on good running socks and your feet will thank you!)
  • top (tank, tee, longsleeve, layers, in tech fabrics – no cotton!)
  • sports bra
  • bottoms (capris, shorts, tights – same tech fabrics)
  • underwear (if you don’t run commando)
  • headband/hat/ponytail holder/bobby pins/any hair/head gear you usually need
  • headphones & music player (if your race allows them)
  • GPS watch or phone
  • anti-chafing gel or vaseline
  • lip balm
  • deodorant
  • sunblock
  • sunglasses
  • race belt
  • extra safety pins
  • fuel (Gu, energy gels, etc – 2x what you normally need just in case)
  • race number (if you already picked it up)
  • toss away water bottle
  • toss away top layer (if it’s going to be cold at the start)
  • garbage bag (if it’s rainy)
  • phone holder
  • any good luck charms or jewelry (I’ve always got to have my MARSOC Foundation bracelet and an inspirational wrap)
  • dry top & bottoms (and underthings) for post-race
  • flip flops or a second pair of sneakers & socks for post-race (because trust me, you will NOT want to put the ones you ran in back on after you take them off)

I love to lay out a Flat Runner the night before to keep track of all my gear and double check that I’m ready – and it helps to post on social media so that folks at the race know who to look for and can cheer you on in the comments, too!

2. Figure out your race day fuel plan early

Depending on your speed, fitness level, what your stomach can handle & what you prefer, race day fueling strategies vary from runner to runner. My best advice is to treat your long runs like race day and figure out what works for you by testing out your options every run.

It took me a while to perfect my plan, but on race morning I have a slice of whole wheat bread with chunky peanut butter and a banana, and half a cup of coffee. Then I’ll take a chocolate Honey Stinger gel about 10 minutes before the race start with a few sips of water. During the race I’ll drink water as I feel I need it (every 1-2 miles depending on the weather), and take a gel every 5 miles or 50-55 minutes with a cup of water. For some people that’s overkill, and for others it’s not enough.

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Not a wise choice: fueling entirely on Reeses. Although I’ve  never tried it…. brb, eating 5 lbs of Reeses and running a half marathon, will let you know how it goes.

It’s worth noting that I can’t take other gel brands – even other flavors of Honey Stinger! – without getting stomach cramps, so don’t give up on something if it doesn’t work the first time. I used to think that ALL gels gave me cramps, but after experimenting with different flavors and brands, I figured out what works for me and you will too.

3. Fuel your body right ahead of time

I’m the first to admit I’m not the best role model when it comes to food. I don’t deny myself wine and cake if I’m craving them, but I also do it all in moderation too. So what works for me might not work for you.

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And I love pizza. Did I mention pizza?

But the week before a race, I cut back on cheese and greasy foods and load up on water and carbs – not pasta twice a day every day, but just a little more than usual. And the night before a race my go-to meal is a serving or two of regular pasta with plain tomato sauce and simple grilled chicken.

Just like you should use your long runs to find day of fuel, treat the day before your longer runs like the day before a race: drink lots of water throughout the day, find a pre-race meal that keeps you satisfied and doesn’t weigh you down – and get PLENTY of sleep!

4. Pace yourself

This may seem like common sense, but for me – and many others that I’ve talked to about it – it bears repeating: throughout your training, be honest with yourself about your pace and know what to expect on race day. You can’t run at a solid 12:00/mile for most of your training and expect to run a sub-2 hour half.

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Not unless your name is Meb and you were phoning it in your ENTIRE training cycle. But I doubt you’d be reading this if you were.

It’s also easy to get caught up in the excitement of race morning and take off at an 7:30/mile pace with the folks around you at the sound of the gun, only to burn out like a tenth of a mile in because your usual pace is almost double that.

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This is important especially if you’re just starting out. In addition to your GPS watch or tracking app, whatever you prefer to run with to track your pace, they make these neat little wristbands or tattoos that you can wear on race day. They’re a great way to stay on target and save yourself a bunch of mental math out on the course. I’ve used them at a few of my races and really like them!

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5. Get there early, have fun and smile!

 

On race day, things get hectic very quickly. Plan to get to the start at least 45 minutes before you need to be there (or before your corral closes). It may seem like overkill, but the last thing you want to do is stress yourself out by running late. And once you’re there, remember that the hard part is over! You’ve already done all the work. Now you get to celebrate your hard work on the course with thousands of your fellow runners – and you’ll probably get a medal at the end of it!

Have fun, make small talk with the folks around you (if they want to), soak in the atmosphere, high five spectators on the course for extra energy (I pretend every high five is like a Super Mario Super Star), and enjoy the ride. Keep an eye out for photographers and throw up the devil horns or peace signs or wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care, and cross that finish line with a smile – you did it!

 

There’s plenty of stuff I’ve probably missed and could write more posts about, but do you have any other advice to add here? Let me hear it in the comments!

Springtime Update!

Oye. I can’t apologize enough for the break in blogging I’ve taken recently – I have good reason though! Work has been gearing up in anticipation of a big product launch and a lot of events that I’m managing, and I also came down with a nasty stomach bug that knocked me out for pretty much the last 4 days. BUT – I have been running, and happy, and all the things that you keep coming here to read about, so let’s recap the past two weeks with a LOT of pictures!

After my hooky day in the city, I had a pretty OK long run that weekend. It was definitely not the great 10 miler I had the week before, but I know exactly why that was the case: I had no water. 
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The time on the watch up there is a lie, because I stopped the watch each time I took a break to heave for breath and work the paste out of my mouth, which was about 4 times after mile 5, when I ran out of agua and the temps soared past 65.

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But, the weather was nice and I was able to finally wear my new Skirt Sports Happy Girl skirt in Psyched – a print that while sufficiently loud for my tastes, matches nearly everything I own!

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Want some Skirt gear of your own? Use code JRH20 at the new SkirtSports.com and get 20% off your order!

After that learning experience, I took on the next week of training with a little less intensity than I wanted. My first run of the week was banging, thanks to Mr. Kenny Loggins here (any Archer fans out there get why I was so stoked when this was the first song of my run??)
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But after that I did some biking on Wednesday to cross train, and Thursday was lost due to it being St. Patrick’s Day. I DO celebrate other high holy days aside from Christmas, you know.

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So does Sammy “I’ll Allow This” Gamgee

I also was super stoked to get my shipment from Swanson Health Products:

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Full disclosure – these folks reached out to offer me a gift card to order whatever I wanted in exchange for a shout out here, but after one order I can honestly say they’re freakin’ awesome!

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This chocolate bar I ordered from them: EVEN MORE awesome.

I’d never heard of them before, but once I took a look at their website I was sold. They’ve got everything you could possibly want: vitamins, snacks, cooking stuff, juices, you name it they’ve got it. And the prices are really more affordable than I expected too. I’m a big fan of the brown rice pasta pictured up there, and of course that amazing chocolate bar (the wrapper of which I had to fish out of the garbage for a picture because I ate it so fast). The Tart Cherry vitamins were also a great find – I’ve been meaning to try them out and thanks to their deal of the day I was able to get two bottles for the price of one! Give them a visit and let them know I sent you 😉

That weekend – yes, after skipping my second run of the week, bad runner – I took on 9 miles. And it was not very good.

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This is another case where the numbers lie – I carried a bottle of water with me and managed to get my hydration situation under control, but the last 4 miles were allll aboard the struggle bus thanks to skipping my second run. I just felt out of shape. You know what I mean. I managed to push through a much slower second half than first half while having flashbacks of horrible race experiences where I burned out too early and vowed to take on the next week with renewed intensity – but not after a pretty awesome weekend filled with hockey, BB-8, and Starbucks (Cherry Blossom Frappuccino, I love you)!

My first run that week was better – my usual 4 miles at a bit slower than I wanted, but still solid pacing. I swam on Wednesday for the first time in a while and remembered just how awesome swimming really is (thanks for coming with me, Kevin!), and then took on another 3 miles on Friday to break in my new Brooks Transcend 3’s.

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Saturday night I went out to a bachelorette party at Pinot’s Palette, where you can bring wine and snacks and paint a masterpiece – which was a stinkin blast!

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I did take it easy on the wine and snacks though, because I had a long run early the next morning before Easter festivities:

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And while the pacing on this looks slower compared to other long runs, I’m actually extremely proud of myself: the first 5 miles were excruciatingly slow thanks to a 2 am bedtime, and yes, SOME wine, at a total of 1:02. I told myself those whole 5 miles as I saw my pace hover around 12:15 that this run was about endurance, not pace. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. But after my gel at mile 5.5? I ran those last 5 miles in 56 minutes, baby! My final mile was even in the 10’s, I almost screamed. It was TOUGH, and took a lot of focus especially in that final mile or two when I just wanted to walk, but I did it and proved to myself that I could come back from a sucky start.

I vowed to look at training not as *just* training but as a way to build my confidence in long distances, and with each long run this cycle I’m learning something new and loving it. Nevermind the fact that I woke up late Sunday/early Monday with the stomach flu to end all stomach flu’s. Seriously, I was curled up on the bathroom floor at one point, crying and begging Jesus to take my pain away. He must have been super surprised to hear from me then, of all times.

BUT the plus side – if there is one – is the 4 days I had to take off to recover gave me time to heal from blisters, calf pain, and general soreness. I’m ready to rock a few miles tonight as a shakeout before Saturday’s 11K down in Atlantic City for the April Fool’s Race Series for sure! This race is about fun – coming off a bad illness like this I know I lost a lot of strength (I broke a sweat taking the stairs at work today), so I’m not going to push myself. It’s not worth it with my goal race coming up in May.

So that about does it for me, kids! How’s your training going? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Love to Run Giveaway!

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, why not treat yourself to a little something? Well my speedy sis-in-law, Meredith, and I are hosting a giveaway so you can do just that!

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That’s right: when you enter to win our Love to Run Prize Pack, one lucky person will win a whole bunch of goodies: one Cocogo water bottle & 3 Flavor Variety Pack, one Greecie Girl tank top, and one pair of Saucony arm warmers!

Enter HERE!

Click on over to enter now – there are tons of ways to earn entries, and you’ve got until 12AM on Valentine’s Day to enter! Please note: this contest is open to US residents only.

After you’ve entered, click over to Cocogo to treat yourself to some all natural hydration at an even steeper discount! They’re bumping up our promo codes throughout the giveaway to a full 20% off your order at their online store – simply enter JESSRUNSHAPPY or MERETHERUNNER14 (all caps) for 20% off your entire order.

So what are you waiting for? Enter our giveaway now, share the link and spread the love – and we can’t wait to see who the lucky winner is!

 

I’m a Pro Compression Ambassador!

If you’ve seen any of my pictures, you know that I’m a huge Pro Compression fan and have been since I started running a few years ago.

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I really dig their products while I’m running and during recovery too – if I’m running long or training, 9 times out of 10 you’ll probably catch me in over-the-calf PC’s out on the pavement AND after I’m done running too. Their socks make my legs so happy and keep my calves from cramping up or getting sore after a run – and on flights or long car rides they keep me from getting stiff too. So I’m thrilled to have been chosen as a Pro Compression Ambassador for 2016!

IMG_1653.JPGThis means I get to spread the PC love with giveaways, sales, and more – so I hope you’ll stay tuned and see how we plan to #keepittight in 2016!

Insta-Thanks!

I say it a lot, but I can’t stress it enough: Instagram is where I first found my home in the fitness community, and it’s by far where I spend the most of my social media time.

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As of now, I’m currently about 60 followers away from 10K (HOLY COW) and while I don’t know when I’ll  hit that amazing, eye-popping milestone, I want to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to each and every one of you.

But I’m going to wear clothes. Especially on the bus. Because, ew.

You guys are truly the best. I read and smile at Every. Single. Comment. And while I try and sometimes fail to reply to every one, I try as hard as I can because I want you to know just how much I appreciate you taking time out of your day to talk to me.

When I look back at the past two years to when I started this whole Jess Runs Happy thing, I see a huge spike in my overall happiness. You folks have inspired me to push myself and do things I never would have dreamed of: swimming, run-streaking, relay races – even going out for a run when I really didn’t feel like it. Hell, I’ve lost count of how many runs I’ve gone on just to have something to post about on social media that day. Some might think that’s vain or silly, but I say it got my ass off the couch and onto the pavement for miles I never would have run otherwise. What’s so bad about that? Nothing.

So thank you. Thank you for looking at the silly pictures I post. For reading the words I string together in a hopefully entertaining way on a semi-regular basis. For not getting tired of all the various ways I capture images of my big dumb face and/or my sneakers. For encouraging me to train harder, smarter, and faster. For giving me a reason to keep doing the things that I sometimes struggle with: running, smiling, being.

For all that and more, THANK YOU!

Five Things That Happen During Every Race

If you’ve ever run a race, chances are you’ve experienced some of the standard race-day highs and lows that most runners can relate to: the bliss of a clean port-a-potty, the agony of missing a PR, that tingly-all-over feeling upon seeing the finish line…

But what about the things that no one really talks about? Those things that happen during a race more often than we care to admit? I’ve run my fair share of 5K’s, 10K’s, half marathons, and everything in between, and there are some things that have happened so consistently that I’m sharing them now: the five things that happen during every race.

1. The Faster Person

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Listen: we’re all running our own race. I get that. The only person you’re competing against is yourself and all that jazz. But it’s only natural to feel that surge of anger and adrenaline when someone who’s been pacing you for the last 5 miles suddenly sprints past you triumphantly in the final mile.

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It’s even more infuriating and ego-crushing when that person is wearing a giant banana costume. Or is dribbling basketballs. Or wearing a Tom Brady mask and juggling deflated footballs. Not that I know from experience.

2. The Bathroom Fake-Out

We’ve all been there. I don’t care how well-trained your colon might be. Even the most seasoned runner knows that bubbling, burning feeling that can only mean one thing:

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(and if you say you don’t, you’re lying.)

It always seems to hit at like mile 3 of a half marathon that you aim to PR in. But the worst part is when you sprint to the nearest port-a-potty for emergency relief…

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Only to have nothing happen. Nothing!! I’ve lost count of how many times this has happened to me. The intense pressure just seems to build and build with every step, but once I’m finally in a safe place, the urge just disappears as quickly as it hit. I think Kramer called that “missing the window“?

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3. Running Regret

This tends to happen later in a race. The endorphins of a strong start have worn off, you’re long past the last aid station and you’ve still got the final few miles staring you in the face and a blister the size of Texas growing on your big toe. That’s when you say to yourself: “Never again.”

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Even in a good race, this fleeting moment of regret is enough to make me seriously reconsider my own sanity. I paid to do this? To wake up at 4AM on my day off, drive an hour, stand in the cold with a bunch of people I know are faster than me, then run for 3 hours? That’s it. I’m retiring from racing and booking myself a rubber room to roll around in for the rest of my life.

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Bonus Points for knowing what movie this is from.

Until I cross that finish line and the taste of victory is so, so sweet, then I’m all like, “When’s the next one??”

4. Mental Math

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You know exactly what I mean. “OK, so if I keep this 10:55 pace for the next 3 miles I’ll be at an 11:15/mile pace, but can I crank it up for the final 3 mile stretch? 3 miles is from my house to the park and back, that’s not so bad. But really I have 6 miles so it’s double that. That sucks. OK, 6 miles, that’s one loop around town, maybe that’s not so bad.”

Similarly, there’s the phenomenon (please tell me I’m not alone) where the mid-race mania causes all math knowledge to fly out of your brain. Like when my friend once met me at mile 6 of a half marathon and asked me how I was doing as she ran alongside me. “Not bad,” I shouted, “Only 4 more miles, I’m feeling good!”

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She just patted me on the back and sent me on my way with, “It’s more like 7, but you’ve got this!”

I cried for the whole next mile.

5. The Single-Serve Friend

This could just be a back-of-the-packer experience, but I’m putting it on this list. In every race, I tend to make at least one single-serving friend. The “Hi new Bestie, I love your running skirt! OMG how did we never know each other before this moment? OK I’m heading off now so take care, bye-bye forever” friend.

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These are the folks that you meet in the starting corral, or out at mile 5, or in the final mile when you’re both hurting and walking and experiencing the regret I just talked about up there.

Case in point: in my last half marathon, I made a single serving friend with an elderly gentleman who had been pacing me from pretty much mile 6. Instead of feeling anger when he would shoot out ahead of me, I’d use it as fuel and pick up my pace slightly to catch him. Finally, after 6 miles of that as I passed him in the final turn, he caught up to me and thanked me for pushing him the whole race. I had no idea – I thought he’d been doing the same for me! I thanked HIM and we laughed and ran for a quarter mile together, and then I continued on my way. Sure, they’re “friends” in the most basic sense of the word, but Single Serving Friends are sometimes just what you need out there!

What do you think? What things do YOU experience in every race that I left off here? Share in the comments!

A New Family Member, Training Update, and MEB!

First, I want to apologize for being absent so long! Things at work are really heating up, and I’m in the thick of training for both my second sprint triathlon this weekend and my next half marathon on 10/18. And on top of all that, just this past Monday, we finally pulled the trigger and brought in the newest member of the family: Sammy!

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We first met Sammy a year or so ago, and after sporadic visits for a year, he started showing up every day about a month ago, for a few hours each morning and every night, sitting on our lawn every night waiting for us to come out again in the morning. Once he started showing up with flea bites and chewed up ears, we finally took him to the vet, got him checked out and cleaned up and he’s currently sleeping on the couch next to me! He’s the most loving, sweet-hearted kitty we’ve ever met – he needs to be touching someone to fall asleep, and is my little shadow when I get ready for work in the morning. We’re smitten with this kitten! So on top of the double weekday workouts, 2+ hour runs on the weekends, and crazy work schedule, I also have this new creature to help take care of every day (along with balancing the love for our other cat Lucy who was living here first, and family and friends too)! So needless to say, by 10PM each day I have just about enough time to brush my teeth before falling into bed, so the blog was the first thing to be neglected. My apologies!

While Mr. Sammy sleeps next to me though, I’ll give you the highlights: everything is great! My long runs are right on pace at 12:15-12:45 per mile, and my shorter runs are stable at 11:30/mile too. I’m up to 10 miles in my long runs, and the best part? I hit a new one-mile PR in the NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile last weekend with an unbelievable 8:51!! I almost died when I saw the number on the clock, seriously. I promise I’ll post a full recap soon, but here’s a teaser:

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MEB!

He was right there at the finish when I crossed and he greeted me with a huge smile and hearty congratulations. BRB, squealing and fangirl-ing all over the place again just looking at the pic…

OK, I’m back. I’ve got a big weekend ahead with the Seaside Semper Five 5K on Saturday and the One More Tri triathlon on Sunday! It’ll be my first back-to-back race weekend, and I’m going into it with absolutely zero expectations, just looking forward to swimming, biking, and running with a big smile for two fantastic causes: the Marine Corps and the NJ Special Olympics! I’m only $74 away from my One More Tri fundraising goal, so if you’re so inclined you can make a donation here! Every little bit helps, even $5 or $10 – why not consider skipping one pumpkin spice latte and putting that cash towards the inspirational athletes of the Special Olympics? It’s less calories anyway 😉

OK, so that’s my quick update – I hope you all are doing well and your training is going smoothly! We’re in the thick of training and racing season now, so stay strong and trust your training – you’re all rockstars for getting out there and getting it done! Tell me how it’s going in the comments, I want to hear it all!

Preparing For Marathon Mania (When You’re Not a Marathon Runner)

I don’t know about you, but every fall, I find myself getting swept up in marathon madness. It seems like everyone and their mothers are training for and running marathons, while me and my bum knees are sitting over here like “I’m running 13 miles, wheeee!”

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I know, a half marathon is nothing to sneeze at. It’s a huge accomplishment, and I take it 100% seriously. Hell, it’s the longest distance I can [barely] manage, of course it’s awesome! But when you see those troopers out there clocking runs of 15, 18, 20+ miles, sometimes it’s hard not to feel all the (running-related) things.

Take me for example: having tried and failed training for a full marathon a few years back, I have a love/hate relationship with the marathon. As I scroll through my feeds and chat with full-running-friends, I flip flop almost hourly between runner envy (damn I wish my knees and my brain could let me run that far!) and runner schadenfreude (pfft, you won’t catch me running 20+ miles, that’s more than 5 hours!). But I know better than to say “never”, because I said that after my first 5K 4 years ago even though everyone told me I’d get hooked, and look at me now, with a blog about running and everything!

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Anywho, suffice it to say that the fall racing season is always filled with lots of conflicting emotions for me. So this year, I’m doing a few things to curb the marathon mania before it hits me.

First, I’m loading up my calendar with lots of other races to get my fix while not putting my poor joints on overload. As of today, I’ve got shorter distance races on 9/6, 9/13, 9/19, 9/26, and 10/31, a triathlon on 9/20, and a half marathon 10/18, with more in the works in October. So believe me when I say it: I’ll be running plenty.

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(you have NO IDEA how long I’ve been waiting to use this guy in a post. FINALLY!)

Secondly, I’m fully embracing the triathlon for the first time during marathon season. I’m competing in another triathlon on September 20th, which is taking up a lot of my training time but also gives me a new “mania” outlet. It’s a new (to me) sport and I’m fully in love with it! I’m not kidding. I still really love running and it’ll always be my favorite, but getting to switch it up with biking and swimming AND competing in those three things at the same time? It’s awesome.

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Lastly, I’ve set an unofficial goal for the last few months of 2015 to run 14 miles in one go. My motivation is simple: I need to prove to myself that I won’t turn into a pumpkin – or my knees won’t turn into jelly – once I break the magical 13.1 spell. So once I finish my goal race on 10/18 in Atlantic City, I aim to keep up with running long every other weekend just to see what I’m capable of. Who knows, with all the extra cross training thanks to my newfound love of the triathlon, I may surprise myself!

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How do you cope with marathon mania? Do you have envy like me or are you 100% sure you’re only half crazy? And those of you who ARE running those fall marathons: how is your training going? Sound off in the comments!

My First Brick Workout

As my first sprint triathlon draws near, I’ve starting to feel the pre-race nerves kick in over the strangest things. For example, I had a stress dream last week about forgetting my sneakers, my bike having flat tires, a thunderstorm over the ocean at the starting line, and accidentally swimming with my phone in my pocket.

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So to alleviate some of that stress, I’ve started checking things off my race-prep to-do list – one of them being my race day outfit. Initially I just thought I’d go to the store and get a tri suit and be done with it, easy peasy. Well, after driving around to 7 different stores for 5 hours on a Sunday with my poor cousin (and returning home empty-handed), I realized I’d have to resort to the trusty interwebs once again.

Enter SwimOutlet.com – my cousin (who’s raced a few tri’s this spring already) got her outfit from here and loved it, so I took a look. To keep myself from getting too stressed out over multiple orders and sizing issues, I ordered basically half of the site in various sizes to ensure that I got it right on the first try. My credit card probably had a heart attack at the initial charge (frankly I’m surprised they didn’t call me about a possible fraudulent charge!), but the upside is that I finally found a suit that works!!

IMG_7069It’s by Zoot (who I’d never heard of before this), and after testing it out for a bike and run brick workout – my first tri-related double workout ever! – I’m officially convinced it’s the one!

IMG_7204 (2)This past Saturday, the schedule called for a 10K bike ride followed by a 1 mile run. Not bad in theory – I’ve been kind of doubling up with the DeskCycle during the day and running at night so this wasn’t a huge stretch, but putting the two activities together immediately after one another was an eye-opener. In a good way!

It was gorgeous outside – hot and not as humid as it had been all week – so I jumped into my new Zoot suit (sorrynotsorry), and set off. One thing I did notice was that the tri top rides up a bit, but I’m thinking some safety pins on race day will keep it in check. I cruised along at about 6:15-6:45/mile on the bike, which is a moderate effort. I could have pushed harder, but I wasn’t just looping along humming a song either. My legs were definitely feeling it the two times I stopped for water (I’ve since installed a bottle cage on the bike!), and once I hit 6.2 miles I was pleased with my time of 40:40. 10 miles would be a little over an hour, which I’m totally capable of!

IMG_7239Once I put the bike away, I set out for one mile and went by feel. Immediately I took off and found my leg turnover to be ridiculously fast. I’m talking like 9 minute miles fast – nowhere near my usual 11-12:00/mile pace! I must have been all warmed up and stretchy from pedaling the bike! I checked myself and slowed down to around 10:30, and at about the half mile marker, I flagged. The heat and full sun (it was 12:30 in the afternoon by now) were beating me down, so I walked where I needed and jogged slowly where I could, then took off again at 3/4 mile to finish at 11:24. Not gonna lie – I was shocked at how speedy that mile was after 40 minutes of biking!

IMG_7213 I wobbly-leg walked back to the shade of a nearby tree where we took the cooler out of the trunk and I downed a Gatorade so fast I think I can now coin the term “Gatorade Headache”. But it was so worth it – I’d just showed myself that I’m capable of so much more than I think! Sure it was just about an hour’s worth of work, but it’s something entirely new to me, this triathlon thing, and this workout proved that all the work I’m doing is paying dividends, and will continue to every day. And that’s pretty exciting if you ask me!

How about you: when was the last time you surprised yourself?