Friday, April 25, 2014

There is Nothing "Mini" About 13.1 Miles

Although there has been virtually no blogging around here I think you all know I'm running the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in Indianapolis with my two cousins next weekend, right?  I could not be more proud of these two ladies who are running their first 13.1 next weekend. I provided them with a 12 week training plan that have been following like it's their bible.  Well actually they are overachievers, because I had them only running up to 10 miles and they both did 11.  Or to be technically correct Janel ran 11.1, she wanted to get that .1 over with, haha!

They have trained properly, fueled properly, rested properly and I am 100% confident they will both not only run the entire 13.1 miles, but that they will cross the finish line strong and with a smile on their face…and I can't wait to be there to experience that with them.  I'm anticipating there will be many "which 13.1 should we run next?" right after we finish ;).  May I suggest a fun destination race?

Since we are a week away I've been doing a little bit of homework on this race so I know what I'm getting into and one thing I know for sure is that I am slightly offended by the term "mini" being used to describe a race that takes most people over 2 hours to finish…what is so mini about that!?  Being the largest half marathon in the country I guess they can call it whatever they want but I'm still going to complain ok?

But in all seriousness, this course is flat as a pancake and after watching the course preview I think the only thing to look forward to is the fact that you get to run 2.5 miles on the Indianapolis 500 track (anyone else as surprised as I was to learn it is 2.5 miles around?…that is LONG!).  I'm used to running in pretty scenic places (Seattle, Monterey, Las Vegas, Sedona, Chicago!) so this will probably test my will power a bit with zero things to distract me along the way.  That being said I hope to be the one distracting my cousins from the miles ticking away and keep them on pace so hopefully that will make the time fly by.

If you want to spend your time watching the above, skip to 2:30…that is where the run on the race track begins.

And what about pace? Well my cousins have been doing their long runs in the 11-11:30 pace so my plan is to keep them to the 11:30 for at least the first 3-5 miles and then re-assess from there.  My goal is to stay with them the whole way or stay with whoever is slower because I know there might be some serious motivation being needed from miles 10-13 if I remember my first couple of half marathons correctly!  This race is not about "racing" or personal records for me, it's about experiencing something amazing with family and since we don't get to see each other that often the more time I can spend with them the better.

We will be cheered on by my uncle and cousins, including one excited 5 year old who will be watching his mom run!

Brady cheering me on at the 2011 Chicago Marathon
This is actually my first race of 2014 and I'm hoping it kicks me into gear and motivates me to sign up for some more and start piling on the mileage for Ragnar in July.

Those are my thoughts for now, I'm hoping to come back next week with some pre-race tips for my cousins and our plan for the fun weekend.  No promises :).

Question: Anyone else offended by the word "mini" being used in relation to 13.1 miles?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Running Update & New Balance Shoe Review

I've been running…promise! Sometimes I get in 3 runs/week, most of the time it's only 2 but you know what…it's all good.  I've been filling my exercise time with strength training and while I haven't been getting any faster with my running I feel really strong while doing it and I'm a-ok with that right now.

The Mini-Indy half marathon is coming up soon, May 3!! and I have actually been going on runs longer than 6 miles to train for this since I'm certain my luck with not training for the Seattle Half Marathon has run out.  Long runs of 8 and 9 miles went really really well, especially since I have the best run buds to join me most of the time…Lauren and Meghan! We should take a picture sometime so you believe me, but here is what they look like in case you forget and since they don't blog :(.

Meghan, me, Lauren, Erin (Jasyoga)

I have absolutely no training plan, even though I gave one to my cousins to follow, but have been at least trying to hit the long runs and maybe 1 or 2 short ones in between. Running is mostly just a social thing for me right now and I'm lovin it that way.  I spend a lot of time at the gym by myself, lost in my music, so going for a run with friends gets me outside, socializing and exercising at the same time…win win.

Conveniently, OnlineShoes asked me if I wanted to review a pair or brand spanking new New Balance running shoes right in the middle of "training" for the Mini-Indy and I thought why not! You may remember Online Shoes as being the most awesome company ever because they provided me with a VIP entry to last year's Seattle Rock and Roll Half and TWO pairs of Brooks running shoes.  And OnlineShoes is not just running shoes…they have ALL THE SHOES with free shipping and free returns and usually a coupon code on their home page.

Oh, excitement over what the box will reveal!

The shoes you ask? They were a pair of these brightly colored New Balance W980 Fresh Foam running shoes. I admit when I opened the box I went "whoa, those are a bit bright" but I've received tons of compliments on them so they are growing on me. The website states:

Wearing the New Balance W980 Fresh Foam athletic shoe, you can feel the science of softness with Fresh Foam technology, a performance midsole compound that delivers soft, plush cushioning to runners seeking a lower, more natural underfoot feel. This women's trainer features a minimal, no-sew mesh and synthetic upper with a lightly padded collar for extra cushioning around the ankle. A blown rubber outsole provides durability and supportive cushioning to the New Balance 980 running shoe, ensuring an incredibly soft, incredibly stable ride for mile after mile.
New Balance Fresh Foam (source)

So confession time…I don't like these shoes…EEK! I feel kind of strange saying that when I got them for free but I should be honest right? I took them on a few short runs and they don't feel like anything special and in fact my feet hurt a bit while running in them.  They just don't feel like they have any support or cushioning to me as advertised.  Of course what doesn't work for me might be amazing for others…but this shoe doesn't do it for me. Luckily, I have another big footed (size 10!) friend named Lauren as well so she is going to try them next, I'll report back on what she thinks!

I will say that they are SUPER lightweight even though they look a tad bulky and the bright colors will get you noticed.

But HEY, that is the beauty of OnlineShoes, they have ALL the brands so you can find your favorite pair of running, walking, dancing, whatever shoes usually at a great price with free shipping.

In fact I'm still rocking the Brooks Glycerin 11's that OnlineShoes gave me after the Seattle Rock and Roll last year!

I'm going to attempt a 10 mile run this weekend, wish me luck!

Question: Any of you ever had a pair of running shoes you tried a few times and just went "no thanks, not for me?"

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Ragnar Ultra Debate - 3 or 6 Legs?

I realize this is not a debate many people in this world have but if you are a serious Ragnar runner and have decided to take it up a notch and try it ultra style you and your team may be asking yourself: Oh man do we run 3 times or 6 times!? First world problems…I know!

Six Pack with Racks at the 2013 Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage

Well for starters…basic info on relay race leg logistics for those new to the relay game:
  • Most (and usually more sane) people run on a 12 runner relay team.  12 runners, 2 vans, every one runs 3 times and usually the distances are modest (3-8 miles at a time).
  • Crazies (myself included!) decide that doing it with half the people might be fun…right? So they decide if they want to run 3 lloonngg runs or 6 short ones:
    • 3 long runs would mean each runner runs TWO regular legs back to back before handing off. For example, I was runner number 3 and 4 last year.
    • 6 short ones means each runner just runs one leg like usual except they run twice as many times as regular teams. For example, someone might be runner 1 and 7.
When I emailed my ladies last year asking the 3 or 6 leg question they all unanimously agreed that they would rather run 3 long runs than 6 little ones.  I couldn't have agreed more and I find it odd that people actually prefer 6 legs…like my dear relay friend Holly who tries to convince you of her even crazier 6 leg ways on her blog today.  

I mean I'm surprised we are even friends…we have such a radical difference of opinion on this matter ;).

Not only did we all choose to run 3 long runs we all agreed at the end we would do the same way again, 6 times is too many! (side note: this year we are breaking all the rules and running 4 legs each but I'll post more about that later).  Some things we liked about 3 runs:
  • We all liked running long! - Everyone but one of us had ran at least one marathon so we knew what training would be like and we all genuinely enjoyed a long slow run versus some short fast ones so nobody seemed to mind the back to back legs pounding the pavement (well maybe Jessey…who had a 17 miler in the middle of the night but she is a different breed of crazy runner anyways!).  
  • MORE recovery time - Running long legs gives you the same amount of time in between your runs as if you were running on a regular 12 man team.  For me last year that meant almost 10 hours of recovery time before my next long run.  SO much time to eat a proper meal, hydrate, stretch and even catch some shuteye.  
  • You get it over with quicker - This is a big one for me. While I enjoy the whole experience SOO much I do think about when it will be over and how great that will feel as well.  For example doing back to back legs means you will be runner 1 and 2, but if you do 6 runs you are you might be runner 1 and 7…therefore finishing your whole experience when runner 7 would versus when runner 2 would…you following me?
  • You feel more bada$$ - While all ultra teams where different bibs that identify you as crazy when you run 3 long runs you get to run through the exchanges (cause remember you run two legs at one time) and say "running through" and everyone claps and tells you how awesome you are…big confidence booster!
DONE and so happy to not be running 6x!
HOLLY thinks running 6 legs is awesome because she has a much easier time mentally wrapping her head around shorter runs and since we all know how you feel mentally plays into your runs SO much I can see acknowledge this as a good point! Check out her post on running 6 times along with some other great ultra relay tips!

Holly and I started our relay friendship at the 2012 Ragnar Relay!
My girl LESLIE is in my corner and she has done a bunch of ultra's 3 long run style so she knows what's up!  She prefers to only change 3 times during a relay…less to pack! Check out her post today for more info!

Leslie and I at the 2013 Hood to Coast relay.
Both these ladies are super relay maniacs…even more then myself so I trust our differences of opinions…so do what feels best for you and your team and I guarantee you'll have a great time!

Let me also add that if you are on the fence about actually doing Ragnar the ultra way, jump off and try it. If you regularly train and run for half marathons you can do an ultra Ragnar.  While most of the people on my team last year have run a marathon not all of us were currently training for one and we all thought it was a bit easier than we expected.

Question: What do you all think? 3 or 6? Or are we just plain crazy all around?