Tuesday, April 15, 2014

#BostonStrong - Memory Miles

Despite the fact that I had strength training on my schedule for today (I did that this morning), I also wanted to stand in unity and join with the running community to do something in remembrance of the Boston Marathon Bombing which occurred one year ago today. Obviously I wasn't be able to go out and run 26.2 miles (although I am hoping I will be able to tackle that beast of a distance in just over a month), but I decided I could do 4.15 memory miles (to signify April 15th).

Not only did I take the time to pray for those who were injured and killed in that day's tragic events, as well as their families and friends, I also made sure to take the time to thank the Lord for the opportunities and abilities He has blessed me with along my running journey. I may never qualify for the Boston Marathon, but as a running community we support, defend, and run alongside one another.


I also continually wear a reminder of that day on my ankle. We received bracelets in our goodie bags from the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon last year (unfortunately I have TINY wrists, so the "one-size-fits-all" option does NOT fit my wrist, but does fit my ankle) and haven't taken it off since getting it.

Today we remember, together we run #BostonStrong.

{PS My pace wasn't too shabby either, especially for not having a run on the calendar - Mile 1: 8:59, Mile 2: 8:35, Mile 3: 8:19, Mile 4: 7:31, and the last .15 Mile: 6:47 pace}

Q & A w/ Carlee

Last week I posted on my Twitter that I was thinking about doing a Q&A blog and for folks to ask whatever questions they may have for me. I got an assortment of inquiries so wanted to get started on them!


Crystal (@CrystalDuff) asked: "How did you get into running? How often do Ryan and you run together? Have you ever used a coach? What's your fave race distance?"

A: I got into running a little over 2 years ago. At the beginning of 2012 I was looking for something I could call "mine". My hubby had different hobbies (surfing, a motorcycle, his art, etc) and I wanted an activity I could call my own. A friend of mine from college, Megan over at Running Toward The Prize, had been getting involved in runDisney events and got me interested. I signed up for the 2012 Disneyland Half Marathon and started training. I figured, even if I hated (or sucked at) running, at least I would be doing it at the Happiest Place on Earth. The first two months I simply added walking a couple miles on my lunch break to my daily routine, then I added going to the gym after work (using the elliptical and stationary bike), and finally I worked up to running outside. I knew if I wanted to make this a lifestyle change I would need to do it slowly and make sure it worked for me. I guess you can say running is now "my thing" :)

Ryan and I try to run together at least once a week. Currently I am a housewife (and LOVE it), so I do most of my training during the day while he is at work. We normally try to get in a run together on Sundays (SundayRunday - DUH). We have done quite a few races together - which are always a blast. He enjoys the 5K and 10K distance, but I have actually got him to run a couple half marathons with me as well (his first being the 2013 Disneyland Half Marathon).

I have never used a "coach" per say. My previous boss was a triathlete that often won his age group/ division, so he had a lot of great pointers for me when I was getting started (he helped put together training schedules, set up my strength training regimen, and even gave alternatives when my IT band started flaring up from the pavement pounding). I have thought about using a coach in the future, but haven't made the commitment yet.

My favorite race distance is the half marathon. The training for it is a lot more manageable and you still feel like you are accomplishing a lot when you finish. Shoot, 13 miles isn't half of anything! Since 2012, when I started running, I have done nine half marathons - with another four on my calendar so far for the rest of 2014.

Krissy (@krissymmurphy) asked: "What brought you to California?"

A: During my junior and senior year at the University of Michigan I had the privilege of being a Resident Advisor (RA). RAs are often clumped under the "Housing" department at most schools. During my senior year I was told about an opportunity that you could apply for which allowed you to go to another university for a few months during the summer and intern in their housing department - in hopes that you would enjoy it and make it into a career. I applied and was accepted at the University of San Diego. 

Four days after graduating, I packed up my belongings in two suitcases and moved across country knowing NO ONE and with nothing more than a summer job. I figured I would use the summer to see if I liked it and if so, look for some way to make it permanent. As you can imagine, I haven't looked back since. I mean, what's not to love?! So after my summer internship completed I found a job in the payroll department of a construction company and was there until Ryan and I got married a few years later (and I moved up from San Diego to Oceanside so we were closer to his job). 

I knew if I didn't leave Michigan right away, I probably never would. I can always go back, but I realized that once I got settled into a routine it would be extremely difficult to leave, so I rolled the dice and have been BEYOND BLESSED with the results. 

John (@RipCurlRunner) asked: "Do you feel that runners who call themselves marathons are trying to separate themselves from the rest? We all "run". :)"

A: This is a toughy. If you would have asked me this 6 months ago you probably would have gotten a resounding "YES - how elitist of them...", but now my answer doesn't come so easily. 

As I am sure you are all aware (since I never shut up about it, hehe), I am currently training for my first full marathon - the Surfer's Path Marathon in Santa Cruz, CA

I think, now knowing the training and preparation that needs to go into getting ready for a full marathon, they are just trying to quantify the type of runner they are - while realizing that they are first and foremost a runner. 

Shoot, I try to celebrate every achievement I conquer, no matter how small it may seem - as you can see from my posts on my 15 mile run, 17-miler, 18 mile run, and most recently 19-miler. You better believe I am going to scream LOUD AND PROUD that I am a marathoner once I cross that finish line 33 days! 

I don't think the purpose of someone saying they are a "marathoner" is to make anyone else feel "less than" or bad about the distance that they complete, I think it is just to rejoice in what they have accomplished and tell others about what they have been able to do. 

And just remember, if you run (no matter if it is a 5-minute mile or a 15-minute mile) WE ARE ALL RUNNERS!

If you want to join in the fun and ask a question, feel free to post it in the comments, send it through Twitter, post it on my Facebook page, or shoot me an email. I found this little Q&A session fun (hopefully you did too), so if I get more questions in the future I'll be sure to do another post like it. PS Thanks to Crystal, Krissy, and John for supply the first round of Q's!

Monday, April 14, 2014

REVIEW: Hydrapak SoftFlask™

I am a pretty low maintenance kind of girl. Not only in my day-to-day life, but also in my running ways. Sure, I normally "need" my Garmin so that I can track my pace, distance, and time {which is totally me just being anal - you don't really need something to track that info to be a runner}, but other than that I can usually take it or leave it. I don't run with music (gave that up about 6-9 months ago and LOVE running without it now... it doesn't hurt that I get to hear the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean on the majority of my runs), am still learning about fueling (prior to starting my marathon training I would say I never really even gave fueling a second thought), and normally don't run with any type of hydration unless I am planning on being out for more than 15 miles or if the weather calls for it.

Don't get me wrong, I am NOT saying this is the RIGHT thing, I am only saying it worked for me in the past, so I didn't think I really needed to switch it up. That is until I received a Hydrapak SoftFlask™ in the mail.

As I mentioned, I normally don't run with water or anything unless it is super hot (for example, when I ran a few miles at a horse track in Barbados) or if I am doing a longer training run. I don't know why I never ran with water prior to now other than I thought I didn't need it (and didn't have anything to carry it in).

There are so many hydration options out on the market right now and I am thankful I didn't have to do the searching on my own because it seems as though it would have been slightly overwhelming. There are hand-held options, belts, backpacks, and just about everything in-between (you would think that I would realize with the PLETHORA of options that it was probably an important aspect, but I guess I am a little slow on the uptake).

I have taken the SoftFlask™ out on a few training runs thus far and have really been impressed with it. First I took it on a 13 mile run. I figured that the distance didn't call for the hydration vest I had been using on my longer runs (I won the vest through a Twitter contest a few months ago - again, so I didn't have to wade through all of the options for that one either), but I still wanted to make sure I would be able to have something with me since it was on the warmer side.

I had never run with anything in my hand before (other than my phone every once in a while), so I wasn't sure how it would feel, but the flexibility of the bottle made it super comfortable and easy to hold on to. Also, there is a little soft finger loop that I was able to put my thumb through as a "safety" in case it started to slip out of my grip - which never happened. Oh yeah, and just in case you are worried about squeezing it too hard and having the water leak, the top is a high flow bite valve, meaning the water (or other liquid) will only flow when you are biting the valve to open it. (You can even seen in the video below that they were stepping on the bottle and no water shot out :))

I LOVE things that compact well and this collapsible lightweight SoftFlask™ is easy to use and packs tightly for efficient storage and transport. (I even packed it for our Barbados trip, but unfortunately I kept forgetting to pull it out so didn't get to test it out there {OOPS}, but I am able to comment on the ease of pack-ability :)) Not only does it pack well, but due to the flexibility of the flask, it also allows you to squeeze the entire contests out for consumption.

Gotta get every last drop out on those HOT runs!

My hubby was even able to grab a couple shots of me running with the SoftFlask™. This particular run was a 5-miler, so although I didn't use the entire flask worth during my run, I was able to have some at the end to cool down with.

I have the SF 500 and think it is a GREAT option for my mid-distance runs, probably anything from 5 to 13 miles. If you have drinking fountains along your path then you could do even longer distances and just fill up the flask along the way. I have used it on 5 mile runs, 8 mile runs, and a 13-miler and give it my seal of approval. {FYI - I find that I normally drink about half the bottle and rinse my mouth out with the other half throughout my run. For me, at least, sometimes my mouth just needs something in it, but I am not necessarily thirsty, so I can just rinse it out and I feel fine. This is one way of staying comfortable without getting the 'sloshing' feeling in my stomach from over-hydrating. But again, that is just something that works for ME, you should find what works for you.}

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Workout Recap - Week 15

Sunday, April 6th – 5 mile easy run with the hubby, 1 minute plank, Foam Rolled & Stretched

Monday, April 7th –  5 mile pace run, 1 minute plank, Foam Rolled & Stretched

My new Halo Headband from +VegRunChat 

Tuesday, April 8th –  Strength Training (abs, back, arms and legs), 1 minute plank, Foam Rolled & Stretched

Wednesday, April 9th – 5 mile "naked" run1 minute plank, Foam Rolled & Stretched

Thursday, April 10th – 19.35 mile bike ride1 minute plank & Stretched

Friday, April 11th – 19 mile run1 minute plank, Foam Rolled & Stretched

Saturday, April 12th – Rest day, 1 minute plank, Foam Rolled & Stretched

A great week of workouts. Got in my longest run to date on Friday and my legs continue to feel strong and keep chugging along. I can't believe my first full marathon is only 5 weeks away - EEKS! 

Not sure if you noticed, but I have started up planks again. I did them in November - as a Plank Challenge. I'm not doing a challenge per-say, but more of a "Plank-A-Day". Right now I am just doing them for a minute a day, but maybe I will bump them up. I love that they are a quick (but intense) core strengthening exercise you can do ANYWHERE! 

How were your workouts this past week? 

Friday, April 11, 2014

PRO Compression's April Sock Of The Month

Who doesn't love saving money AND giving back?! Um.... dare I say NO ONE?!

This month PRO Compression is doing JUST THAT!

PRO Compression's April Sock Of The Month is more than just a sock. First off, you can select marathon socks, calf sleeves, or even low trainer socks! Secondly, there are THREE options for this month - Purple, Powder Blue or Red, White & Blue Stripe (the new "tube sock"). Next, a portion of each sale is donated to Team in Training (hence the purple color) or Train 4 Autism (and there is the reason for the powder blue)! Lastly, YOU CAN SAVE 40% by using coupon code SOM4 at checkout!

IT DOESN'T GET MUCH BETTER THAN THAT! And with that being said - HURRY! These deals are not going to last! Make sure to place your order ASAP to guarantee your size will be in stock!

PS I am currently wearing my Neon Orange Marathon Socks after this morning's 19-mile run! Gotta #KeepItTight!

19-Miler {RunnerBox In Action}

This morning I ran my furthest run yet - 19 MILES!

A snap shot of my route from my hubby's phone
(I send him eCrumbs through Road ID's app so he can track me)

Now, you may be asking yourself, "Didn't she just post about her 18 mile run that was her longest at that point and her 17-miler before that?". Well, YES... and I will probably post about my 20 mile run when I do it. Obviously with this being my first marathon (and thus my first marathon training) there will be a lot of firsts. I want to make sure that I celebrate each and every one of them. God has blessed me with the ability to do what I am doing and I don't want to take it for granted - not a single mile!

This morning's run started a little before sunrise. I wanted to get out early because I knew the sun was supposed to be in full effect and I didn't want to get stuck in the heat of the day. I decided last night that today's run would not only be the longest I have done up to this point, but it would also be a little bit of a RunnerBox in action. You see, when I got my most recent RunnerBox (April/May) there were a ton of awesome products. There were a few that I knew could be used "together" so I figured today's run would be a perfect place to try them out!

Before I go any further, I need to mention my hydration bag. Two weeks ago (during my 18 mile run) I mentioned that it was leaking, but that I didn't really look into why. Last night, Ryan was able to check it out for me. It appeared as though the bladder SPRUNG A LEAK! A little over half way towards the top of the bladder there was a hole that was squirting out water. It was on the crease of the bag (when it isn't full it sits flat and therefore makes a crease). I have to reach out to Nathan to see if I can get it replaced, seeing as I had only used it maybe 6 times prior to it springing a leak, but in the meantime we had to MacGyver it. We taped it up with Duct Tape, I made sure to fill it to below the hole, and I wrapped it in a towel in the backpack (figuring if anything did leak that it would have to saturate the towel before it soaked the bag and ME). It seemed to work alright, the towel wasn't even wet, but again, hopefully I can get a replacement bladder soon.

See the pin-hole leak? Doesn't look like much, but had SOAKED my back by mile 2 last week.

Back to the run. It went extremely well. I could tell by mile 3 that it was going to get toasty (from mile 2 through 7 I am running directly into the sun), but did my best to stay hydrated. I had just biked the "course" the day before (and bike it just about every week for my cross training day), so I know it well. My legs felt strong and everything was gelling.

Running INTO the sun...

I've never been this tall :)

I used a new fuel from my RunnerBox - PROBAR Bolt Organic Chews. The serving size was 4-5 chews, so I took 4 at mile 6.5, then another 4 at mile 13 and the final 3 at mile 17. They reminded me of the Clif Shot Bloks that I have used in the past (same consistency and texture - and like the Shot Bloks I bite them in half when eating them so they are more manageable). I had the orange flavor and really liked it (although it looks like they have some other yummy flavors on their site as well). I didn't get a bad belly from them and they seemed to keep me going strong my whole run. I would definitely try them again (and will look for them when I am out and about to see if any of our local stores sell them).

There was a slight hiccup around mile 11...

Yup, A SNAKE! And not just a small gardener snake. This was a BIG boy! I'd say it was probably 6 feet long and about the thickness of a aluminum can. There was a runner behind me, so I stopped and waited for him to come up, thinking he would scare it off (since I HATE snakes), but he just stood there looking at it too. I threw a rock at it, but it didn't seem to phase him. Then a biker came from the other direction. He got closer to it and said that it wasn't a rattle snake. He joked and said, "the longer you hang out the more time it gives the snake to make up his mind about biting you". As soon as he said that I took off. I think that mile might have been my fastest one :) And the way my hydration tube was rubbing on the bag it sort of sounded like a snake, so I was freaking out until I got off of the trail around mile 14.

I wanted to try and shoot for 3 hours for the 19 miles which would put me about 9:30 minute miles. I also wanted to try to run the last few miles faster than normal (I finished Bart Yasso's book yesterday and in it he mentioned running the last few miles of your long runs faster to train your body for negative splits). I was able to accomplish both of these goals - finishing the 19 miles at 2:58:39 and running the last 4 miles at sub 9:15 minute miles - my last mile was actually at 8:45.

Thumbs up - I survived!

Once I finished I decided to put on my bath suit bottoms and head to the pool for an "ice-bath". Our pool isn't heated, so the water is probably 50* right now. I went and stood in it for about 15 minutes. At first it took my breath away, because of the chill, but once I was able to exhale a few moments later it felt glorious.

After I got back to the house from the pool, I knew I needed to start re-hydrating. Thankfully RunnerBox included a packet of Gatorade G2 Powder that I was able to use to help with the process. I love that it was low calorie because I hate feeling like I am drinking my calories (guess that is why I normally stick with water throughout the day). One packet in 20 ounces of water and shake - easy peasy! The fruit punch was a nice flavor (especially after drinking plain water for the prior 3 hours).

I jumped in the shower to warm up (and get clean for the Tigers game we are going to tonight) and after I finished getting ready it was time for lunch. I made up a quick PB&J, grabbed a banana, and my The Good Bean Fruit & No-Nut Bar out of my RunnerBox. I have had the Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas from The Good Bean before (check out the review here), but hadn't had the bars yet. The trail mix flavor is made of chickpeas, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds. Although it might sound "interesting" I am here to tell you it is scum-didily-umptious! Gluten-free goodness and an amazing alternative to nut bars (especially for folks with allergies). And don't forget vegan :)

Yes, my lunch smiles at me :)

I'd say I had a pretty successful 19-miler this morning!

As always, if you would like to try RunnerBox and have the opportunity to try some of the products that I used on today's run (as well as some other pretty super items), make sure to check out their website and use my ambassador code when ordering to get 10% off your purchase.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

REVIEW: Beyond Coastal Sun Care

If you follow my blog at all, then I am sure it is very apparent, WE LOVE THE OUTDOORS. Whether it is being at the beach (hubby surfing and me soaking up the sun), playing at the park with the puppy, running the roads, going geo caching, or just maxin' and relaxin' on our porch - we can't get enough! We are blessed to live in Southern California, where it seems as though it is summer every day, so thankfully we are able to take advantage of being outside for the majority of the year.

Although I LOVE the sun (I mean, who doesn't?!), it can be a dangerous thing! The threats of skin cancer are real and we need to take precautions. But don't worry - you don't need to take on the fire-y beast alone. There are companies that can help protect you and your lovely skin. And this is where Beyond Coastal Sun Care comes in.

I was sent an assortment of their products (as you can see from the picture below). I knew they would be PERFECT to take on our Barbados vacation with us! Not only would I be in need of amazing sunscreens, but they were also an ideal size for travel (I normally only travel with a carry-on, so having them under 3 ounces and FDA-friendly was great).

With Barbados being so close to the equator, I knew the strength of the sun would be much more intense than we were used to. Also, I figured we would be in and out of the water (and of course super sweaty in the hot and humid weather). Finding a sunscreen which is water resistant, offers both UVA and UVB protection, goes on clean (not greasy and gross), and is not full of tons of unnecessary chemicals is hard to do - but with Beyond Coastal Sun Care you get just that!


I have to say, I think my favorite product that I received was the Active Face Stick. I love having something so easy to grab and put on. It is easy to throw in your make-up bag so you can put on sun protection while you are getting ready or keep in the basket you throw your keys in by the door so you remember to put on sunscreen before heading out for the day. Both hubby and I used it throughout our trip and were extremely happy with it. And I can attest to what they say on their site is accurate: "With only 12 ingredients, our simple Face Stick is moisturizing, rubs in clear, and is water resistant. Our inactive ingredients aren't just empty filler. Beyond Coastal's Active sunscreens nourish, repair, and hydrate your skin with aloe vera, shea butter, and vitamin E."

Another HUGE positive that we LOVED was the Natural Sunscreen line. Not only did we love it because it was "100% natural which provides shelter from UVA rays and effectively blocks 97% of UVB rays" but also because it was REEF SAFE! It is crazy to think how many sunscreens and lotions on the market are actually HARMING the reefs. We are huge animal lovers (both of us are vegetarians and advocate for our environment any way that we can) and snorkeled daily while we were in Barbados. It made us feel better knowing that what we were wearing was not going to hurt the reef, the animals, or the ecosystem.

The Natural Sunscreen seemed to take a little extra time to rub in and soak into your skin, but with the benefits it offered (including nourishing, repairing, and hydrating the skin), it was well worth the additional few seconds. All of the products worked extremely well. We would put on the sunscreen in the morning before heading out for the day and make sure to reapply around lunch-time.

Normally, after being in the sun all day, I tend to feel a little "crispy", but I didn't get that sense at all while wearing these sunscreens. In fact, I didn't even feel the need to put on body lotion in the evenings because my skin felt extremely hydrated and cared for already. I would definitely recommend Beyond Coastal Sun Care to anyone looking for a high quality, clean and healthy sunscreen.