When in Rome…Rock Those Tabios

This holiday season I was blessed with many gifts, one was a pair of these amazing socks from Tabio USA.F98B1526-221D-460D-B827-2904DDF82291

Another (unwelcome gift) was facing the worst cold season I’ve had in a long time with being sick on and off for over a month.  Bronchitis is the pits and it totally prevented me from giving these Signature Run Toe socks a proper trial on the running trails or pavement, but I did get to test them out elsewhere.

What better way to break them in than through touring the streets of Rome?

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My travels through Rome involved A LOT of walking and with clunky boots the added arch support was a godsend.

I had also been suffering from hotspots on my heels from wearing improper socks a few days prior and these bad boys saved me from any further blistering.  The large heel structure and snug fit prevented any potential rubbing and left my feet happy.

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The trip was a blast and I made my way home with happy feet and a full and happy heart.  I’m very much looking forward to trying them on my next run and will need to report back once I do–it’s getting that much closer to race day and Seneca7 will be here before I know it.

Here’s to health and happiness in the New Year!  Cheers!!

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Race Recap: Skunk Cabbage Classic Half Marathon, Ithaca NY 4/12/15

“…talent means nothing, while experience, acquired in humility and with hard work, means everything.”
Patrick Süskind, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

   

 

Well, I did it!  I finished my second racing half marathon!  It wasn’t at all as I had planned–this was supposed to be the race I would PR in and where I finally hit sub 2:30, but that didn’t happen and I am okay with it.

Training for this half was touch and go and there were times where I wasn’t sure if I should stick with it.  At the end of February shortly after a 10K training run I was hit with the worse case of flu/bronchitis that I’ve experienced since college.  It hit really hard and took me out of training mode for 3 weeks.  Three weeks might not seem like a huge chunk of time, but it was and it left me with just 4 weeks to retrain my body to run 13.1 miles.

I went in without high expectations and accepted the fact that this would not be the race I had initially hoped for.  What I didn’t account for was how mentally challenging it would be.  This race was probably one of the most difficult ones to date.  I was (and still am) fighting yet another cold with a cough and the medication I take does wonders, but it also dries me out.  By mile 4 I was regretting my decision to stick with the half–I kept wishing I had just downgraded to the 10k.  I was parched and my lungs burned as I sputtered out dry coughs.

The inner dialogue I had with myself was at times comical, but mostly I kept repeating, “FUCK! Why is this so hard?  What am I doing here.  Why didn’t I downgrade.  9 more miles?!  What in the actual fuck?  How will I make it through”.

I am a slow runner, but this is the first time I’ve truly experienced true back of the pack racing.  It adds to the mental challenge.  You find yourself racing solo and the walk breaks are so much more tempting.  The urge to quit is that much greater and every ounce of pain is magnified.  I had no music to distract me and no friends to push me forward.  It was hard.  I felt like I was failing.

The rolling hills didn’t feel like rolling hills, they felt more like a constant gradual incline with the occasional downhill.  With the steeper hills I found myself walking and fighting so hard not to lose momentum.  I’m not typically a run/walker–I would much rather keep a slow and steady pace than break and restart.  This is the first race (aside from the full marathon) where I continually needed to walk and it was frustrating.

Though I spent a lot of time running alone, I was sandwiched between a couple of runners, yellow shirt guy and neon shirt lady.  Both had pulled ahead of me at various points during the race and my goal was to stick with them.  I didn’t want to finish behind them so I did my best to conserve my energy for a strong finish.  I took advantage of the downward hills and used them to catch up, but they still remained ahead of me until mile 11-12.

Having the finish on one of my regular routes was definitely beneficial for my final stretch.  I knew after mile 12 that the remainder of the course was on a slight downhill.  I knew that I’ve run down that same path on Tower road and that I would always finish my lunch runs strong.  I knew that I already had 11 miles behind me and that giving up in the last mile would have been for someone weaker than myself.  I knew that my heavy legs still had some life in them.

I powered through and pulled ahead.  I passed both yellow shirt guy and neon shirt lady.  I know it probably didn’t mean much as far as boosting my finish time, but I dragged myself across the finish at 2:55:30.  It was 21 minutes past my PR and I was legit 592/598.  It almost embarrasses me to post that time and place, but what can I do?  Why be embarrassed?

It’s these moments of humility that strengthen us.  It’s these moments where we wanted to quit but didn’t that show us we are capable of greater things. I know I will do better and that this race doesn’t define me as runner.  If anything it has taught me a lesson about perseverance and pride.  Pride for those back of the pack runners.  No one knows true strength and determination until you’ve experienced running a race at the back of the pack.   It’s an experience every runner should feel.  I know it’s opened my eyes for appreciation of what our bodies and minds can achieve.

Did you race this past weekend?  Were you at Skunk Cabbage?  Have you ever experience a lesson in humility during one of your races?

Mad(lib) For Sweat Pink #NoExcuses 2015

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Are you doing the Sweat Pink #NoExcuses challenge?  We’ve been challenged today to share our take on this fun madlib.  What does yours look like?

  • Hey 2015, it’s me SarahGriffFit (nickname, spirit animal, real name, blog name)

  • This year I would like to run faster, gain muscle , and be confident.

  • It would also be super duper awesome if I also did_my best to take a vacation_ this year. It’s not a resolution, though, just a reminder to myself to try and have the best year yet because _I deserve it_.

  • The thing I am looking forward to most this year is racing more.

  • I’ll use the one thing that truly gets me out of bed in the morning which is my blaring alarm clock to help me get up, get moving (verb) and get after my #NoExcuses 2015.

  • Speaking of excuses (ahem), my very favorite excuse is my hectic schedule and I have used it to get out of doing meal prep and working out on more than a few (number) occasions.

  • I vow to move my body and be more healthy this year even if it means I have to wake up at the ass crack of dawn.

  • Even if my alarm clock gets eaten by the dog in the middle of the night, I’ll still drag my tired but out of bed

  • I will stop blaming our son [ex: kids, dog, husband] for eating the rest of the oreos when everyone knows it was really me.

  • My kid [job, hair, car, husband, kids] are not the reason I make excuses. I will show my kid [same as before] who’s boss this year and get my run [type of sweaty activity] on

  • I know that lifting weights [type of workout] is better than cake [noun]

  • I will reward myself by buying new clothes or workout gear

  • No Excuses 2015 has just begun and already I am imagining myself a winner. I can’t wait to rock a shirt (article of clothing) from Augusta Active. I can’t wait till my sweaty friends are jealous of how fresh, clean and glowing (adj) I am between workouts with help from ShowerPill body wipes. I can see myself rocking inversions [yoga pose / workout move] in new tie one on leggings [article of clothing from Actio926] from Actio926 and looking fit and fly while doing it. And of course, I’ll be taking my workouts to the next level and improving my core strength [noun] with my new ActivMotion Bar to help me train for my next  10k [distance] race with Sasquatch Racing.

  • Oh, and let’s not forget how amazing my running tights [article of clothing] will smell during my run [favorite type of workout] after washing with some WIN Detergent. And lastly, I’ll keep rocking my 2015 with clean eats and nutrition from Beaming with Health!

Holiday Runlist/Product Review: PRO Compression Calf Sleeves

Tis the season for gift giving!

If you’re looking for a great holiday gift for that runner in your life, look no further.  PRO Compression brand sleeves and socks are the way to go!

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A few weeks ago I was awarded the opportunity to review PRO Compression brand calf sleeves.  If you’re a runner or know a runner, then you’ve probably heard about these handy accessories or at the least have seen another runner donning a pair.  

I noticed my first pair when I saw someone’s race photos.  They were wearing a bright neon pair of them and it had me hopping onto google to see what I could find out about them.  Why were runners everywhere rocking these compression sleeves?

According to PRO Compression the benefits are many….

Marathon Calf Sleeves combine the optimal blend of advanced materials and innovative design to deliver maximum benefit. True graduated compression technology helps improve blood flow and oxygen delivery, resulting in better, more consistent performance with less fatigue and faster recovery.

Thanks to our advanced design, Marathon Calf Sleeves also support critical muscles and tendons, helping reduce inflammation and soreness associated with running and other activities.  Put it all together for the perfect compression sleeve for training, racing, recovery and travel.”

They sounded like a dream!  Whilst training for a marathon the body is fighting constant muscle abuse.  Recovery time is often limited while following a busy training schedule so it’s important to find ways to aid in that routine.  I’m still a fairly new runner (I only truly began running and training in April 2013) so a lot of this training and recovery is new to me, but the one thing I learned early on is that having the proper support during a run is key to maintaining a healthy body.

From stability shoes to KT tape, I’ve found that the little things really do play a big role in overall performance, recovery time, and injury prevention.  So you can imagine how eager I was to try something new!

I’m not severely prone to injuries, but I am a “heavy-stride” runner.  My feet really pound the pavement when I run so shoes with cushion and support have been a huge help in preventing injuries, but I still on occasion (especially during my long runs) feel pain in my left shin.

I tried my sleeves the day of my first run back after having been sick for 2 weeks.  I knew that my body would be angry with me, but as soon as I slipped those sleeves on I felt like my calfs were wrapped in a warm hug.  Though they were a pain to get on, the struggle was worth the effort.  I wore them during my run and then again in the evening after my run and slept through the night with them.

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During my run I appreciated the snug feel, it was like wearing a sports bra for my muscles!  My shin didn’t ache and the next day my calves weren’t sore.  I can’t wait to see how they feel on my longer runs!  Unfortunately, I cancelled my marathon plans and haven’t been mentally capable of doing anything over 5 miles in the past few weeks so I’ll need to update you on how they aid in long run recovery later.

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I do look forward to picking up my training though and hope that I’ll have another long distance race planned soon.  I know these sleeves will be a new part of my routine.  Another added bonus during the winter months is that they turn my capris into long pants!  BONUS!

If you’re interested in trying a pair or buying them for a runner friend be sure to visit http://www.procompression.com and use PINK2 discount code thru December 15th for 40% off your purchase.

 

 

 

 

Product Review: FlipBelt

I finally had the chance to test out my new flip belt! AND I LOVE IT!  I really didn’t know how I would feel about it because I figured it would bunch up and look weird, but once I popped my phone in and flipped it over I was good to go.

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I ran for 5 miles and with my iPhone5s tucked away it stayed in place just fine.  It didn’t ride up or bounce around as one would expect, but I did need to wear it over my pants so that my mommy pouch wouldn’t be squished.

I think this belt would be great for a variety of people, but can see larger individuals or people with excess loose skin (like myself) struggling to feel comfortable.  I was able to solve this problem by wearing the belt over my running tights.  My tights help to hold everything in so my gut wasn’t flopping around over the belt as I ran.

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Overall, it’s a great product and I would recommend it to my friends (and you!).  The only con I can see is for larger individuals.  I know that this is something I would have avoided like the plague back when I first started my journey and can understand that it’s not something that is meant for every body.

I should also note that I ordered a size large for my size 10/12 hips so it’s a fairly standard fit.

If you’re interested in buying one of these at a super discounted price let me know ASAP (leave your email) so I can share my special discount code (I have 15 codes available for 33% off).

Also if I run out of super saver codes you can use code: Sweat10 for 10% off your entire FlipBelt purchase!

Be sure to visit http://bit.ly/flipbeltsweatpink to checkout their full collection of belts!
If you want to get your hands on one for cheap please fill out the form so I can send you the 33% off code!

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Race Recap: Trick or Trot 5K-Cortland, NY 10/26/14

This past Sunday I had the painful joy of partaking in Cortland’s Trick or Trot 5K.  I say painful because my body was not too happy with me that day and it had every right to protest.

Why was I in so much pain?!

Oh, ya know, because I switched my training run around just so I could participate in said 5K.  I crammed in 15 glorious miles the day prior (16 if you count the extra mile I had walked to get home) and my body was feeling it.

Regardless of my lactic-acid drenched thighs, I was able to do the best with what I had and fared better than expected.

Even more exciting than my ability to move the day after such a long run was the fact that my little guy, Connor was able to participate in his first “race”!

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This event is definitely a must-attend for any parent!  Not only did they provide daycare during the race, but the little tykes were able to participate in their very own 100 yard dash.

Connor is still a tad young to understand the concept of when to run (though he does it on command any other day) so when the horn went off he just stood there.  I leaped in and trotted by his side until he got the idea.  He was VERY eager to catch that little shark ahead of him and finished his loop with a little help from mommy.

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Then it was mommy’s turn.  I didn’t quite know what to expect or how hard I would be able to push myself, but I managed to bring some life in my tired limbs.  I was tailed the entire race by a woman in a bright neon green shirt and I could tell that she was pacing me and trying to keep up so seeing her in my peripheral was just enough to keep me going when every inch of my legs burned.

A pair of flamingoes and superheroes just ahead were also there to keep my motivated.  I so badly wanted to pass them.  I did finally manage to pass them, but superhero batman had to pass me in the final seconds of the race and I finally felt like that infamous bird flipping runner.  All in all I was rather pleased considering I had physically exhausted myself the day before and still managed to place respectably 54/142 overall and 9/22 in my division.

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It wasn’t my best rest, but it was fun and I am eager to give it another go next year.  I’m even thinking that if I work on my training it could be a potential placement race in the future (unless it gets bigger and draws Ithaca crows–why are they so damned fast?!).

Have you participated in any Halloween themed races this month?

Marathon Training: Weeks 4-7 In Review

So, here I am feeling like a slacker!  These past few weeks have been nuts and I missed a big long run and a bunch of shorter runs.  I am a bit bummed, but am hopeful that it hasn’t hurt my training.

Screen shot 2014-10-01 at 1.03.20 PMOn the day of my 14 miler I was holed up in bed with a pounding headache.  I just couldn’t pull it together enough to go out and run for a couple of hours and by the time I felt better it was dark out and conditions weren’t prime for running solo.

Week 6 proved to be a challenge due to a mix of scheduling conflicts and an unwelcome bout of vertigo.  I only ran twice that week and when I went out for my 10 miler I could feel the difference in my performance over my prior 10 mile run.  I didn’t push myself as much as I could have and I was still breaking in new shoes so I am hopeful that it played a role in my slightly slower pace.

I am a little nervous for my upcoming week and haven’t quite figured out how my body is going to feel jumping from 13 miles to 16.  I’m just going to have to play it by ear and see how it all pans out.

Finding Your Motivation And Fighting The Motivation Monster

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Let’s talk about motivation.  Motivation is a powerful thing, but being motivated can only get you so far.
Over the past year I’ve spoken with many people who struggle with the motivation monster.  The monster that eats up every ounce of motivation you had when you decided to start your journey.  The monster that creeps in when results and progress slow down.  The monster that sometimes holds you back from starting at all.

Do you know what I am talking about?  It might be an all too familiar scenario for you.  I know it was for me.  In the past year I’ve definitely faced my monster multiple times, but the one thing that really kept me going was my determination to stay motivated.

I know it sounds crazy and you might say, well isn’t and shouldn’t motivation be enough?  It would be great if that were the case, wouldn’t it?!  Let’s break it down into terms and compare a few.

The dictionary defines motivation as:

motivation- n
1. the act or an instance of motivating
2. desire to do; interest or drive
3. incentive or inducement

We can all come up with a reason of why we want to get fit and be healthy.  The why is all too easy.  I wanted this life for me because I wanted to be the healthiest and happiest person I could be for my family.  I didn’t want to feel trapped and hidden in a body I didn’t recognize.

But what happens when your “why” changes?  What happens when your motivation isn’t clear anymore?

That’s when determination comes into play.

The dictionary defines determination as:

determination-n

1. the act or and instance of making a decision

2. condition of being determined; resoluteness

Being determined is what will ultimately keep you going.  Everyone can have the motivation to want to do something, but having the determination to stick it through when times get rough is the hard part.

For me my motivating factors are constantly changing.  At first it was training for the marathon.  I was motivated by the goal in sight, but there were days where I began to question my motives.  Why was I doing this?  Well, because I had made the decision to dedicate the time and energy and to complete the task at hand.  This is why I am a firm believer in setting goals.

A goal can provide motivation and the act of commitment will provide the will and determination to keep that motivation alive.  Does that make sense?  They go hand in hand and together create an unstoppable momentum that will keep you going.  Much like a rolling stone won’t gather moss, a person who is striving for new goals will be less likely to lose their motivation.

For me, starting new beachbody programs is what helps me keep my motivation alive.  I am setting mini-goals through the course of each program.  The end goal is always to follow the program and complete it.  Earning my free shirt and sharing my results at the end are things that help push me forward.  Much like collecting race bibs, completing these programs and earning my shirts are my badges of honor.  They show that I stuck it through and met my goal.

What keeps your motivation alive?  What goals are you setting for yourself?

 

Race Recap: 5K Foam Fest-Batavia, NY 6/7/14

**NOTE:  As of July 17th, 2014 5KFoamFest has declared bankruptcy and is no longer offering races.  

This past weekend,  I ran my first 5KFoamFest Obstacle Race.  Overall, the experience was fun and entertaining, but I wouldn’t consider this to be one of the more challenging obstacle races out there. It’s definitely a great beginner course (unless you are deftly afraid of heights) and provides just enough of challenge for new runners to get a thrill of accomplishment.

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Let me preface by saying that I’ve only completed one other obstacle 5K, the Tough Turtle, a locally funded course.  So, my experience in the realm of obstacle races is fairly limited.  Another factor to consider in our experience is that we opted for a late heat at 1pm.  This meant the course was likely less congested than it could have been earlier in the day.

I think it worked to our advantage though because it meant less of a wait at certain points.  We did have to stop and wait a couple of times during the course, the few that I can remember were for the Aqua Lily Pads, The Cargo Climb, The Death Drop, and Monkey Business.

It’s a little bit of a blur now, but I think our first obstacle was the Aqua Lily Pads.  I actually really enjoyed this one and I was so proud of myself when I almost made it to the end without falling.  It was comical to watch those ahead of us attempt to work their way across.  There weren’t many that fared well (myself included).

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The Chamber of Foam was the next messy obstacle ahead.  I fully embraced it and went face first into the foam filled bouncy house.

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We then jogged/walked onto the next few obstacles which included a crawl through the mud and climbing over a wall.  This was followed by the biggest slip and slide ever!  It wasn’t as slippery as I would have expected though and it was a little more belly flop and stop than slip and slide, but we made due and ran the rest of it.

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The slip and slide was followed by the Trip Wire (no photos) and Mike’s Hard Lemonator (pictured below).

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We also had a few other obstacles that escape my mind.  Like I said, it all blurred together by the end.  All in all we had fun and I would definitely recommend this race if you are looking for a non-serious, fun 5k.  I’m a bit nit picky when it comes to races so I decided to make a list of my pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Great beginner obstacle race.
  • You get a lot of swag!  (race medal, t-shirt, race photos, mike’s hard lemonade, sticker)
  • FUN!  This race is a fun race and you don’t need to feel out-of-place or like you are in an environment with overly competitive people.
  • They provided a bag check.
  • Obstacles are spaced out enough to allow for recovery (great for new runners) and to avoid congestion.
  • Great wash station at the end of the race, the water wasn’t freezing!
  • Changing tents
  • Porta potties
  • Convenient parking.

Cons:

  • They ran out of t-shirt sizes by the time we were ready to pick them up, wish we could have picked them up before the race.
  • The course wasn’t very challenging (if you are looking for a challenge)
  • No finishing photo or finish announcement

If you want to get wet, foamy, and muddy all in one day be sure to hop on over to http://5kfoamfest.com/ and use CODE:FF3412 to save $5 on your registration.

 

 

Building Speed and Happy Belated National Running Day!

Ever since I completed my first full marathon back in January I’ve been struggling with building my speed.  As of late, it seemed that no matter how hard I tried I could barely break an 11:00 minute pace for my 5K distances.  If I could get sub 11 minutes for my 3-4 mile runs, it was a good day.

I’m not a fast runner (hello, I’m a Slow Mo Mother Runner!), but back in November before my mileage was crazy high, I ran my best 5k at a 10:10 pace.  I also ran a 10k with a sub 11:00 pace.  Both of these have been tough paces to obtain again.  That was until this past weekend!  I finally hit a 10:10 pace again!

10346366_721909884527565_5399344539351721673_nI was thrilled with my run!  I wasn’t expecting much when I stepped out the door that morning.  In fact, my run started off crappy because Pandora wasn’t working and I ended up running without any music.  I was worried that it might slow me down, but there was something nice about a trail run without the distraction of rhythmic beats in my ears.

I listened to my breathing, watched my HR, and went with the flow.  Mile 2 was a bit trying, but once I turned around at 1.7 miles I knew I was over halfway finished and I knew I had room to push myself because I was nowhere near my max HR.  So I kept an eye on my Polar FT40 and told myself I would build my HR at 1/4 mile increments.  It worked!  I build my speed back up and finished off strong.  It was a pretty awesome feeling to hit that mark again.

For the month of May, post relay race, I had been working on building my speed.  I incorporated hills, fartleks, and built my mileage for a couple of runs.  I’ve also listened to my HR and have been working on what points during a run to really push myself.  Ideally, I’ve found that staying at 160 for the first half of my run and then building things up and pushing hard towards the latter half works best.  I do max out around 185-190 and can’t really push myself for too long at that HR, but I find it’s my sprint rate and it works for that last short final push.

I even went out yesterday on National Running Day and put in a decent 5K with a 10:37 split.  I’m still trying to master the negative split because mine still look like uneven pyramids. I am getting stronger and can feel myself getting faster.

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These next couple of months I am reading up and playing around with a few things to see where it takes me.  One other thing that I have been trying to master is my stride.  I’m so used to a heavy legged short stride and would really love to get away from that for my shorter runs.  Based on my current research it seems that a lot of small changes can mean a world of difference with pace. My goal before the end of the summer is to get  sub 10:00 min pace for a 5K distance.  I would love to see a 9:00 too!

What are your pace goals?  What are you doing to get faster?  How are you building your speed?