May 31, 2012

Aspaeris Pivot Shorts winner


Nothing but the highest quality graphics for y'all.

Congrats, Ann! You won! Ann is a working mom of two boys and doesn't have time for sore hips to get in the way. Email me at yomommaruns at gmail.com to get hooked up with your new compression shorts.

Thanks, everyone, for entering and checking out Aspaeris Pivot compression shorts!

May 30, 2012

Salomon XR Mission review

Thanks to OnlineShoes.com and Salomon shoes who sent me these XR Missions to review, I'm feeling like a legit trail runner these days. In case you were wondering, legit means that you have shoes that are sold under the subheading for your sport. So instead of just running trails in Running Shoes, I now have official, with a capital TRS, Trail Running Shoes. Too legit to quit (with the finger motions that all you children of the 90s will remember).


The best part of this news is that now my road shoes are not taking a major beating whenever I run trails these days. The mesh on my road shoes is way too delicate for trails, so the first thing I noticed and loved about the Salomon XR Mission is that the exterior is tough, like jagged rocks and sticks resistant tough. This comes from a frequent tripper, so if there is an opportunity to rip my shoes on some junk, it will happen. The toe and heel caps also offer extra protection.

Since wearing these shoes, I've tripped about 124 times of which 0 times resulted in a rip of the shoe uppers. Here's to 32,503 more ripless trips. Those numbers are just averages -- specific-looking averages. And the tripping didn't increase once I got the shoes. Those trips are just generated from my clumsy feet, but actually in my recent trail race, out of many trips, my hands only hit the ground twice. So maybe the shoes are starting to work some magic on my propensity to face plant. Lessening the number of times I eat dirt would be a great change.


And these shoes are built light enough AND tough enough to take you from street to trails. So you don't have to worry about which one you should use if you are in mixed terrain. The XTERRA 21K that I ran in these included some road amongst the trails of the race, and the transition from street to dirt and vice versa was smooth and easy. While I'm most comfortable with road racing, I wasn't sure if these shoes would allow me to perform my best on those road segments so I was pleasantly surprised that the ride was smooth, and the lightness of the shoes allowed me to pick up my pace to pass people on the road section.


My number one task upon the Salomon XR Mission arrival was to sniff the new shoe smell completely out of these. Done. Second, I had to figure out how to work the Quicklace system. For something that should be self explanatory, it was surprisingly difficult to figure out. There were no directions that I could find in the packaging, but with some trial and error, I figured out that you push up with your thumb on the hard plastic piece to loosen or tighten the string. The extra string and plastic cincher fit easily into the pocket at the top of the shoe tongue, but make sure that the tongue of the shoe is pulled up enough that tightening the laces doesn't cover the opening. After a few trials and errors, I remembered the steps. Basically, once you get it, you're good, but it might take a minute. 


Once I got the shoes on and cinched to perfection, I noticed that they were extra roomy in the toe box. I wear a size 7 in everyday shoes and 7.5 in running shoes. These 7.5s felt like 8s. I don't mind extra room in the toe box, so I liked the 7.5. But if you want a snugger fit, try out your true size instead of going up a half size like you might do in other running shoes. For some runner-nerd facts, these weigh 270 g (299 g for the men's) or 9.52 oz. My current everyday trainers are 8.1 oz, so for an extra ounce and a half, I am getting a lot tougher outer skin and a lot better grip underfoot for the trails. They have a 10 mm drop from heel to forefoot. 


The underfoot features Contagrip LT (black rubber) which gives you super grip with a lightweight material, and Contagrip HA (pink rubber) is impact resistant and made of tougher material in the most common high-wear areas. I noticed the awesome grip most especially on my way up hilly trails. The Contagrip LT kept my foot locked to the trail on my way up so that I didn't lose traction. On the way down, my steps felt less slippage as well. The underfoot also includes the OS Tendon (yellow rubber) which is designed to help snap the shoe back into place after it is flexed to help save you energy. The XR Missions also include a molded and compressed EVA midsole. They do the compressing for you so you don't have to watch your shoes deflate as you pack miles onto them. They get the compression without adding too much weight by using Light Weight Muscle (LT). It's either invented by fairies or Einsteins in lab coats, but either way, I like how it keeps my feet unbogged while running. 



Another feature that is unique to the XR Missions is the OrthoLite insole. It cups your heel with more EVA and provides extra support under the arch. These are the first shoes I've ever worn without purchasing an additional insole. I have medium-high arches, and I need the extra support that the OrthoLites offered. When I was running the 21K, I felt a hot spot on my left arch. It didn't turn into anything, but it made me more aware of their advice that these are for short to medium distances. All of my other test runs were 10 miles and under, and I never felt the hot spot on those. 



Oh, and those last few pictures were taken after about 30 miles of shoe wearing. 

Although there is a men's version as well, they made this Salomon women's shoe based on specific feedback from female athletes. The shape of the collar, sole hardness, and last were all based on the feedback they received. I love the way the shoe hugs my foot from the heel to mid foot. Sense they have a special name for every feature of the shoe, it's no surprise that there's a word for how awesome the shoes feel from heel to mid foot. It's called SensiFlex, with wrapped layers hugging the foot and making it easier to adapt to flex in the foot as you run. 

And huge bonus, I already had a tank top that matched them perfectly. Say what?


Comfortable for on and off road, but what about on and off fence?



Most definitely. Probably should add that to the list of features, Salomon. 

And because you always need to wrap-up with bullet points in case you e-people are too tired or ADD (like me) to read paragraphs, here are the highlights.

The good:
  • The speed of the cinching and stow away of the Quicklaces
  • OrthoLite insoles that actually fit the shape of my foot and feel comfy for my arches
  • Tough exterior and an underfoot grip on trails like my three-year-old twins' hands on cookies
  • Ability to transition from road to trail
  • Not just a smaller version of the dude's shoe, made based on women's feet and feedback

The could-be-better:
  • The insoles may create hot spots under the arches on longer distances
  • Quicklace system is initially awkward 
  • Shoe sizes run a bit large


And on an unrelated-to-performance note, these shoes come in the rockin'-est colors. Mine are the Very Purple, and I absolutely love the color, even better in-person than in the online pics. If I'm paying top dollar for shoes, there is no reason that it shouldn't perform and look great too. These Salomons fit both categories. They retail for $109.95 on OnlineShoes.com, who offer free shipping and free exchanges -- both things I love almost as much as new shoes

OnlineShoes.com provided these shoes for review. I didn't receive any additional compensation for my review, and the thoughts and opinions expressed are all from my noggin.

May 29, 2012

No planning and emergency water stops

Sometimes having no plan is a recipe for the best fun of your life. Like how I picked out my outfits when I was 18. That's me on the top right. The one with no eyeballs. This was the fastest picture evidence I could find on Facebook. That may or may not be a velvet dinner jacket with my three-stripe pants, but those are definitely glitter sunglasses that I turned into prescription glasses. 


So having no plan lately means having no training plan. I still feel this strong urge to get in at least one 10-mile run per week. Just because I want to, not because a piece of paper with a graph on it tells me I have to. 

My recent training looked something like this:

Monday -- BodyFlow, just trying to relax and decompress from weekend running.
Tuesday -- 5 miles on the track, normal effort on first four, hard effort on the last mile, 7:44 average pace.
Wednesday -- one mile warm up on the track, 5 miles on the treadmill for an incline workout. Increased the incline .5 every mile. Then did a 4.5 incline on the last half mile. Then ran a cool down mile on the track. Average pace 8:04.
Thursday -- nighttime track run, trying to fit in miles before the gym closed. Got to 4.5 miles in 35:21 minutes, pace 7:51.
Friday -- 5 miles, including a bathroom stop to fix my hair. No watch and heart rate monitor to check today, just my phone's stopwatch. Time 39:06. Also a 2- and 3-minute plank. 
Saturday -- trail run at Moss Creek Preserve. 5.38 miles in 1:15:36. Brutal. Avg. pace 14:07. Were we even running? Just hoping my GPS missed some miles in there. I was completely exhausted afterwards.
Monday -- 10.45 in downtown Birmingham in 1:28:20. Lots of muggy heat and not enough to drink. 
Tuesday -- resting the legs from running. 10 miles on a stationary bike in 52 minutes. Wow, I thought bike miles would go a lot faster than that. 

During yesterday's run, I had a first. We asked a fire station if they had a water fountain. One of the fire fighters was out washing the truck when we asked, and he was very happy to let us use their fountain. We even talked it up about running with them afterwards. So if you are desperate for water this summer, ask the fire station to hook you up! And if I had planned better, I wouldn't be giving you that tip right now. 

Now on to no-plan eating, where you just grab whatever is in the cabinet and go with it. 

Beet greens instead of spinach in your green smoothie? Fo sho. 


Because you saw too many sweet potatoes in your interweb readings? Or because you don't want to pay too much for one at the Wendy's drive-through. Add butter and agave nectar? Do that.


When it's birthday time, make letter pizzas and M&M cupcakes.




Happy birthday to this super cool dude!


Just so you know, running for five minutes in Alabama summers turns into a sweat storm on your face.


And because this is turning into a no-plan blog post, here's the most popular graffiti in our town. Did they plan to be ironic by graffitiing that onto an abandoned building?


And would you pick this up? I did. Did you think I was talking about the trash or the penny just now?


Because of this no-plan living, my daughter decided to draw up a real deal meal plan.

These people will cook.


And they can choose these meals.


Yes, I'd also like to know what candy berry is.

Are you a planner? Do you have a meal plan? 

Do you pick up random pennies or trash? 

Where is the weirdest place you've gotten a drink on a long run?

***If you haven't entered yet, check out my Aspaeris compression shorts giveaway. ***

May 28, 2012

Aspaeris Pivot Shorts Giveaway

Seeing as how lately my hip has been hurting like Helena, I was really looking forward to trying out these Aspaeris compression shorts made especially for women and their lady hips. If you've read any running blogs lately, then you've definitely heard of these.

Here's what the company has to say about their product:
Dual Sensory Compression BandsAspaeris Pivot Shorts™ are actually two pairs of shorts bonded together. The Outer Short is a high performance compression short designed to support your muscles. The Inner Short features our breakthrough, Dual Sensory Compression Bands™. These cross-knit bands guide your muscles into the proper position, thereby improving your pivot performance which helps prevent ACL and hip injuries. 

Hi-Performance Compression Aspaeris Pivot Shorts™ are made of very fine, completely seamless, two-way stretch nylon and Spandex. Wicking properties keep moisture away regardless of how hot it gets while Microban® technology virtually eliminates odor-causing bacteria

You'll see the outer short plenty in this post, but here's a look at what's happening inside that double layer of compression.

Aspaeris inner shorts

The first step with these shorts is getting your measurements right. I usually wear size small in running shorts, but I measured for a medium in Aspaeris shorts. I was a little skeptical at first, but when I got them, I knew that I didn't need to worry. They were going to be plenty snug!

Here are my regular size small Nike tights on the left and Aspaeris size medium on the right. Big difference! So the moral of that story is follow the measuring chart even when regular-clothing-size logic tries to tell you otherwise.


When I first slipped these on, I thought they would fit my calves very nicely. Oh wait, I have to keep pulling them up? That's gonna be a problem.


Because I was so excited to try them the instant they arrived, I tried putting them on after a sweaty 5-miler. Mistake. Like day old grits on a plate, those things were not wanting to budge. I found that it worked best to start with clean dry legs, like right out of the shower. Also, if you put them on like pantyhose, it works well. Has anyone reading this ever even worn pantyhose? It's been a long time for me, but I still remember the steps. For these shorts, scrunch everything together, lift above your knee and then guide them evenly up to your hips. Completing one leg at a time also made it easier.


The rise of the shorts is medium. For me (I'm 5'2"), the shorts came up to about an inch under my belly button, and I didn't like it there. That's where I store all of my extra Halloween candy, so it was cutting into my supply a little bit. No problem because I just rolled them down to my hip bones, and it was perfect. I do that with most shorts, so that's not unique to Aspaeris.


You can see the medium rise in this pic, and if you look closely, you can also see where the Dual Sensory Compression Bands hit the back of my legs. Even though it is slightly visible, it wasn't a big deal to me. I want these shorts to compress, which may require a little visible squeezing.


I tested these out in running, yoga, strength training, house cleaning, and vegging. These were amazing in yoga. I could feel the bands aligning my hips, and it felt great to have that little extra push in the postures. When I was running, I felt the same thing. The compression bands were like guides encouraging my legs to have correct alignment. I'm already a big fan of compression with it's increase of blood flow and with that an increase of exercise byproduct removal. These shorts (along with stretching and rolling) definitely helped alleviate soreness in my hips. If you want to read an objective exploration of compression and running, check out this article. It focuses on socks but can apply to hip and leg compression as well.


Even though I haven't tried them playing soccer yet, I'm really looking forward to trying that out. Watch out, Pele.


Leprechauns should also watch out.


Also, I decided that I felt most comfortable wearing them under something, so most days I wore them under a running skirt. They also fit great under any of my regular person pants or shorts too for all-day compressing. They subtract bulk under your clothes, so don't worry when your Spanx get dirty. 


This is where I wanted to make a super funny joke about your hips not lying because they are dual sensory banded into place. Or is it the reverse. Either way, Shakira probably needs some. 

Thanks, Aspaeris, for also offering a pair of compression shorts to one of Yo Momma's readers so their hips don't have to lie either. You pick your size and color. 

To enter:

1. In the comments section, tell me why you need some compression shorts.

Bonus entries (leave a separate comment for each so that I can make sure to count them all):

1. Like my blog via Google Friend Connect (or let me know that you already do).

2. Like Yo Momma Runs on Facebook (or let me know that you already do).


3. Like Yo Momma Runs on Twitter (or let me know that you already do). 

4. Share this giveaway on your blog, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, and leave a separate comment for every share. 

I'll pick a winner on Thursday morning, May 31st, using random.org.

Edit: This giveaway is now closed. Thanks for reading!

Aspaeris Pivot Shorts provided these shorts for review and giveaway. I received no other compensation, and all thoughts and opinions are from my own noggin. 

May 27, 2012

XTERRA Oak Mountain 21K, May 20, 2012

Since I've waited almost a full week to write about this race, some of the little details, like whether I tripped 17 or 217 times, may have faded, but I know for sure that I loved my first trail race, XTERRA Oak Mountain 21K.

One of the stand-out parts of the race was the camaraderie between the racers. Every single time I tripped (yup, it was more than several), all people within seeing distance asked if I was OK or encouraged me when I got back to solid footing. People talked, laughed and joked the whole run. I even found a buddy at the start line who stuck with me the whole race. He helped me at lots of points by talking and getting my mind off the race, and I might have even helped him at some point. I've just never experienced anything like all of that during a road race. Part of that may be because I normally wear headphones for at least part of my road races. I go headphone-free when I run with my brother, but otherwise I have them on after about mile 6 of a longer race or from the start of a short race. When I have music with me, I know it's my backup motivation, so I don't work as hard to make race friends.

Being a local race, I left my house after the sun came up. Now that puts a check mark in the This Race Rocks column. 

Pre-race (with sleepy eyes): Brooks bra, Lulu shirt, Nike skirt, Garmin watch, Swiftwick compression socks, Salomon XR Mission shoes, child's sweatband on my wrist. Those sweatbands are amazing for wiping off sweat during a race. 

Because this was a spontaneous race decision, I drove to the Oak Mountain State Park hoping that they would have spots left. I don't know that they even limit race entry, but not being sure had me a smidge worried. They had a little outdoor expo set up right by the start line. I actually didn't look around at the booths at all because I beelined for the registration booth. There was a waiting line for registration with about twenty minutes before the deadline for entry, so it looks like I wasn't the only one with the last-minute racing idea. After I registered, I tried to eat and drink some and of course visit the utilities just shy of a million times. They had port-o-potties and park restrooms to use, so there was never a very long line when I went.  


In the expo area, they made announcements and had some prayer meetings before the marathon and the half marathon (and maybe for the 10Kers and 5Kers, but they started after us). This is also the area where they announced that you aren't allowed to wear headphones. That made the decision of whether or not to wear them easier, but I still saw several sets of them out on the course.

During my bathroom trips, I got to check out some of the park scenery. Oak Mountain State Park has a $3/person entry fee, but look at some of the coolness you'll get for the monetary equivalent of a corn dog at the flea market. The beach isn't the most exciting (and I have a HUGE fear of water moccasins and floating poop, both things I saw in lake water as a child), but holy green trees. From a distance, Alabama tree and hill combos look like giant bunches of broccoli. Take a bit outta that.


The start line was two steps away from the expo. I like the obvious, blow-up arch start lines because I tend to lose my ability to think when I'm nervous. Because I was milling around somewhat aimlessly before our 8:30 a.m. start, I got to witness the 8 a.m. marathon start. I did not envy the distance that morning. Normally I would, but I was already feeling toasty.


The leader in Trak Shak neon was the eventual 42K (marathon) winner with a 3:06. 


Earlier start times would have been nice to keep the heat at bay as long as possible. We lined up shortly after the marathon start, and while we were standing there talking, a gun went off. Those sudden starts are scary. I seriously need a national anthem to warn me that a gun is about to fire.

I attempted to take a couple of pictures, but see below to verify that trail racing and picture taking simultaneously is not my talent. Yet. The first picture is still on the street, so I really don't have an excuse there.


And while taking the one below, I had my first trip so that put an end to worrying about getting a picture for the blog.


The course terrain wasn't too difficult. The paved road before we even got to the trails felt like it had the biggest hill. I kept reserving energy for hills later in the race, but they never came up. There were some small inclines but nothing serious.

Some people got lost at the first turn onto the trails because it forked and wasn't clearly marked. As we finished, the XTERRA folks were announcing that they would give free entries to people who went the wrong way on the course. I was running behind people who went the right way, which was left, so I followed them down the correct trail. I would easily have been lost too.

Luckily, I met a local runner friend before the race who advised me about passing etiquette while trail racing. He told me to not be afraid to pass, but I wish I could say that I followed his advice more closely. I'm completely happy with how the race turned out, but there were definitely times when I felt too nervous to pass. The trail was too narrow, or I didn't feel confident that if I passed I would be fast enough out in front of the person I passed. Somewhere around the halfway point, we hit a paved road for a section, and I tried to bust through that part as fast as I could. I figured if I could scoot past some people here, that would be less passing I would have to do on the trails that made me nervous. Did I mention that I tripped a lot?

The second half of the race included the Family Trail, if you're familiar with Oak Mountain. Lots of winding singletrack paths. Unfortunately, once we hit that section of trails, we didn't get any more aid stations, and even though the path was nice and shaded, we were all feeling the burden of running with no fluids in the heat.


For fueling, I had a gel about 55 minutes into the race and drank some Gatorade from the stations when we had them. My last big fall about a mile from the finish was caused by my trying to eat a Power Bar gel while running and gagging (I'll call it ragging). I officially hate Power Bar gels. The same ragging happened to me during the IMS Arizona Marathon with those same gels. I thought it was the flavor, but it wasn't. It was definitely that craptastic gel. I dropped the gel packet when I fell and didn't pick it up. That felt really wrong, but I had to keep moving to avoid a domino effect of the people behind me.

I only had a vague idea of how far we had been (because I wasn't sure how well the Garmin was working), and I didn't want to bolt until I knew I could sustain some type of speed until the finish. I was third in a train that kept growing and growing along the trail. Eventually a few girls started to pass, and when I saw that the street was coming up, I decided it was time to put my game face on and kick. Nothing amazing happened, but it was a closer finish for my age group than I thought at the time.

Really unflattering finish line picture. Not a keeper.


Out of 20 girls in my age group, five of us finished within 45 seconds of each other. This amazing girl finished 25 minutes before me, so at least I don't look back and think, "If only I had gone a little harder I could have had first place." That was just not gonna happen. I do feel like in general I could have worked a bit harder, but with it being my first trail race, I just didn't want to do anything too crazy and regret it two-thirds of the way through the run.

Here are the final stats. I liked that they gave out these little cards so you don't have to all crowd around a sheet of paper taped to the wall.



Here's the bling for winning age-group second place. The water bottle kind of made me laugh. First place got a ticket to a race in Hawaii. Second and third place got a water bottle. Same, same. 



This is the general finisher/racer bling. I was hoping for girl-sized shirts. Insert frowny face.


Here's a reminder of how twisty turny this race was. All but one of my safety pins were wedged so tight into the pin, that I couldn't force them out, and there's some dirt in there from when I bit it. 


After the finish, there was plenty of food, of which I didn't eat a single bite. Eating sounded repulsive, but I drank a ton while I talked to the friendly trail racing people. 

In case you like bullets.

The great:
  • Friendly people
  • Shady course
  • Easy last-minute registration, and it was only $5 more ($55)
  • Close to home
The bad:
  • Course not clearly marked so some people got lost
  • No aid for the last 10K
  • No girl-sized shirts
  • Still not sure if the distance was 19K or 21K. 

With all of those cards on the table, I would still definitely run this one again. Done and done.