March 29, 2013

Injinji review and giveaway

Originally I thought toe socks were just for people who like to wear five finger shoes, whose name always reminds me of the five finger discount. What if you got caught stealing in those? Now that could be awkward for you.

Then I discovered that running trails inevitably brings muddy, wet feet. I have lots of socks that I love and work well for preventing blisters in road running, but nothing was keeping me blister-free when my feet were soaked. Blisters were still creeping up between my toes. Ugh and ouch. And once a blister creeps in, he's a real pain to uninvite to your running parties.

Enter Injinjis. It's as if a cherubic angel baby appeared to me and handed the socks to me while playing a glistening golden harp. That's how magical their blister-freeing effect was for me.

Are they kind of weird when you first put them on? Yes. If you are trying them for the first time, be prepared to be skeptical. A healthy dose of skepticism is (pause) healthy, right? I thought there was no way that all that fabric around my toes would not drive me crazy. Turns out that once I started running, I didn't notice it. At all. So they may seem weird to you in the beginning, but just go with it. Note: that's also exactly what I tell my kids about eating vegetables and taking baths.

For this review, I specifically tried the compression knee-length socks.


I tested the heck out of them on the Mt. Cheaha 50K, where we splashed through water crossing after water crossing after even bigger water crossing. After 6 and 1/2 hours of running with wet feet, my feet were surprisingly free of new blisters. 

Also note that the knee-length compression socks are more difficult to put on than non-compression socks, but not too bad if you already have experience putting on other compression socks. The compression felt similar to that of other brands I have tried, like Pro Compression. 

The white color wasn't the best for a muddy trail race -- go figure. I couldn't quite get the mud entirely out, so I decided to tie-dye them. I was hoping for the colors to turn out slightly darker, but I still like the results better than murky white. 


Special request for Injini: please make stripy compression toe socks! It would be my dream combo.

I also tested the trail midweight mini crew


These were soft and comfortable. Plus I liked the extra height on the ankle to keep debris away from my foot. These are perfect for trail running in the winter, fall and spring, but I would try a lighter weight for the summer. These were thicker than my usual summer running socks. 

There was a small bit of extra fabric around my toes (see the picture above) that I was worried might cause blistering, but that never happened during my testing. 

Would you like to try some out and see if they help your blister toe (or other foot part) situation? Thanks to Injinji, one of you will get to. They are donating a prize pack of two pairs of Injinjis in your size plus an assortment of GU thrown in for long-run fueling. 

To enter: Leave a comment here or on Facebook telling me that you want to win.  

For bonus entries: These are completely optional! But if you do them, make sure to leave a separate comment for each so I can count them all.

* Like Injinji on Facebook. Leave a comment telling me you do.

* Like GU Energy Labs on Facebook. Leave a comment telling me you do.

* Like (or already like) Yo Momma Runs on Facebook. Leave a comment telling me you do.

* Follow (or already follow) Yo Momma Runs on Twitter. Leave a comment telling me you do.

* Share this giveaway via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or your blog. Leave a separate comment for each share!

I'll choose a winner next Friday, April 5th, via random.org. And can someone please explain how it is already April? I just barely, like yesterday, started noting on checks and documents that it's 2013, and now the year is already one-third dunzo. Sigh. 

Side note: is anyone else in a depression about Google getting rid of Reader? That is my method of tracking and reading all of the blogs of the lands, so I'm going to feel significantly lost without it. 

March 26, 2013

Goodbye, road trip. Hello, runner yoga.

After six interstate wrecks, a two-hour Ikea stop, and 801 and a half (approximately) tacos from the Bell, we made it home to sink into our cozy beds after nine days away. Your bed will always feel better if you leave it for nine days. Unless it doesn't. 

Road tripping with my four kiddos (solo parent because my husband stayed behind to work, which we were all equally sad about) was nonstop adventure, but I pretty much gave up on sticking with clean-ish eating after a few days. I made good choices when it was easy to do, but there were lots of times when it wasn't. 

This snack of brown rice cakes, cashew butter and bananas saved me from scarfing entire bags of Cool Ranch Doritos on more than one occasion. It was easy to pack the rice cakes and cashew butter too. The bananas are smush-prone (not in the Jersey Shore way), so you have to be a little more careful with them. Plus you have to have access to some kind of utensil. This snack is sounding more and more high maintenance, but I still consider it a pretty easy, filling snack for road tripping. 


Somehow we only ate green vegetables one day out of the nine. We should have just bartered for this wagonload of cabbage (??) while we had the chance, at our first interstate exit stop in Florida. Do you think they would trade stepped-on Craisins and backwashed water? 


On the way back, we could have offered a forgotten plastic bag of soiled clothes. Tip: if your kid pees their pants on your road trip and you place those dirty drawers in a plastic grocery sack, try and keep track of that bag so you don't vomit three days later when you rediscover it. 


There was that one time the kids ate carrots, so all hope of ingesting some of nutrients was not lost. 


To make up for the unintentional veggie fast, I headed to the store today to get some essentials. You can't really tell from this picture, but there are a lot of green veggies stacked in the cart. And eggs are $.99 at our Target, so I stocked up even though we have another 36 already in our refrigerator. Not exaggerating on that one. We high roll with some eggs.


On my last few trips to the Super Target, I've been getting these coupons, which I'm super excited about using. I don't buy a ton of food at Target, but they'll sometimes have some produce and other items that are convenient to buy when I'm picking up some other non-food items. And now that they are five minutes from my house, this will be even handier. Usually I get the coupons for diaper rash cream and pregnancy tests, so I really feel like I'm moving up in the Target direct marketing world. 


Side note: calling all botanists, poison ivy or not poison ivy? I found these along a path we hiked in Florida. This was right before I got swarmed by a wicked gang of mosquitoes. Turns out that no matter what you do to protect yourself in Florida, you will leave with a rash. And that is not a college spring break joke. 


Also, I basically took the entire week off of running and traditional exercise. After the trail marathon that I ran the day after we arrived, I was ready to just relax and enjoy all of the minutes with family and friends. Though I did go play soccer with my old league one night, and that almost made a real tear well up for how much I miss them and soccer. And the sprinting killed me. I should just play soccer for my speedwork from now on. It's like a million fartleks in a row, but cooler. 

After the break, I'm feeling much more ready to hit the skreets with my sneaks again. I went for a sixer on the new treadmills with my running buddies. Yes, we often do group treadmill runs, and yes, I often almost fall off trying to turn my head to talk to someone. 

Then, bonus, I made it to yoga class tonight at the new Resolute Running Center

Kevin the yoga master (he's the bearded one in case you are bad at guessing) and his yogis. 
Yoga is pretty much a fail-proof way for me to have a better day, and this class is specifically designed for runners. Yoga for runners is a lot like yoga for non-runners, but with a focus on stretching the typical runner trouble spots and with an instructor who is a runner and can help connect your yoga practice with your running obsession. Plus, he has a really cool beard. Look into trying a class if you're local!

Also, if you're in Birmingham, check out the Trail Running Festival at Ruffner Mountain on April 27th.  This one is cool because it has a 5K, 10K, 15K and 8-hour option, and all the races are the same price -- $30. If you're like me and decide races on best value of dollar spent per miles ran, you would definitely pick the 8-hour option. 

Who here has run eight hours before? I am giving you a very solid e-high-five right now. Seriously, you are awesome. 

How do you fit in more veggies on a road trip? 

Is yoga a yes or no for you? Which poses are your favorite to stretch weary running legs? A huge yes for me, and pigeon is definitely my favorite pose for my runner legs. And I also love triangle pose.

Do you ever buy groceries at Target? What do you get coupons for? Please say adult diapers. 

March 22, 2013

Internet fast and Oiselle sales

Internet! We finally have access again because we are staying with a friend for a couple of days in Jacksonville, FL. I'm not sure if it was living without the internet at my mom's place or that it's a 55+ community that spurred my irrepressible desire to crochet nonstop. Remember these dishcloths that I was making. It only took me a hundred tries to finally figure them out, but now I'm mass producing them. By mass producing them, I mean that I made two.



Crocheting is like my new running, only less cardiovascularly challenging. The kids have gotten their heart pumping every day by swimming in freezing water. Yes, the sun decided to disappear for our spring break. Not cool, sun.

My kids and my mom on the way to the cold pool.

Chasing frogs has been a big thing too. Come here, little dude.


Little froggy's got big jumps. 


And obvs we had to visit some old friends, like the teachers at my kids' Florida charter school. This school is based on a platform of exercise and healthy eating to help kids focus better in the classroom. My kids miss them and their daily morning yoga so much.


The kids also miss playing with their old neighborhood buddies. The hour of playing with these guys was like giving them an early Christmas. 


While they visited with friendlets, I went to this store that carries Oiselle. Because we don't have a store that carries Oiselle in my hometown, I love to come here and check out the new line in person. My very favorite new thing is this mesh tank. I couldn't tell from the online pics that it is 100% mesh, but it is. And I'm convinced that this is the one tank I need (OK, really, really want -- but same, same) for this summer!


And while I'm loving on Oiselle, check out this sale they are having on The Clymb for the next couple of days. They have this fly shirt that my ultramarathoner friend Olivia is wearing. 


Plus they have my favorite distance shorts and the stripy shirt below that was my winter uniform. I'm going to order the gray one they have available. I order this shirt one size smaller than normal for a better fit for me. In case you are considering that. 


And I had to draw a new name for the Tranquility Trail Run giveaway. The new winner was #12 (via random.org). Congrats, Mekelle! I'll email you with info. 


Do you have a spring break? Will you travel for your break or take it easy on the home front?

What's the longest you've been without the internet recently? My mom hasn't had the internet for a couple of years, and she has survived it. It can be done, people. Not easily though.

March 21, 2013

Citrus Trail Marathon, March 17, 2013

Trail running in Florida is a little (or a lot) bit like running on a leafy beach. To prep for a Florida trail race, throw a bunch of leaves and pine needles on top of the sand in your kid's backyard turtle sandbox and jump. Repeat as many times as possible.

This was the second year for the Citrus Trail Marathon, and this year they tacked on a 50K. Plus they offer a 10-mile and 4-mile option. Originally, I really wanted to sign up for the 50K, but because my mom was going to juggle (not literally) my four kids while I ran, I decided that I should choose the shorter of the long distances to avoid any major catastrophes. About mile 16, I was super glad that I wasn't in it for another 16. My legs, which hadn't really done any distance since my 50K in February, were not feeling the 31 and some change miles. They were barely feeling the 26.2.

Travel: I was staying in Ocala, which is a very easy one-hour drive from the trails in Withlacoochee State Forest. Yes, it is pronounced just like you would think.

I got up at 4:30 to be ready to go between 5 and 5:30. My sock choice for the day was Injnji with added baby powder on my feet to ease the rubbing effects of sand. In case you didn't already know, baby powder is a magic sand repeller. It works great after a beach trip too. Also we did a tie-dye experiment on my Injinji socks earlier in the week. Not quite as bright as we planned them to be, but I still like faded tie-dye better than mud-splattered white.


Once I got to the forest, I found the signs that the race director had set up leading me down some dirt roadage to the race start. Parking was easy and plentiful and very close to the start line.

Before the race: There was an option to pick up your bib the night before the race, but I waited to sign up and pick up my bib on the morning of the race. I made it in plenty of time to do both. There was only a small line to wait for my turn to fill out my race entry form, and once I gave them my check, I was good to go with my bib and race bag filled with some goodies and my race shirt.

Picking up bibs before dawn.

There were three port-a-potties for the approximately 125 people running the race, so there was rarely a line on my 50 trips over there. The only bad part about there not being a line was that it was really quiet around the toilets. I like a little background chatter to make my port-o-pot business more inconspicuous.

Each distance started at a different time, with the 50K at 7:15 and the marathon at 7:30. Before each of the races, the race director huddled us up to give us some last-minute instructions, like what color tape to look for and that some horses had gotten out onto some of the trails to leave some poop patty obstacles. All very important info. Anticipating the horse droppings gave my mind some focus during the long, lonely stretches of trail.

The course: With the 7:30 start, the sun was just beginning to shine more fully on the course. The 50Kers started in the milky dusk.

50K start

You can see there was no issue with lighting for us marathoners.

Marathon start

I received the pre-race email from the race director because he was nice enough to send it to me when I told him (via Facebook) that I accidentally missed the online registration cut-off. There was some great info in there, like the specific snacks that would be at each aid station.


And some wildlife warnings that I didn't anticipate. 


Wild pigs?! I was thinking gators and snakes, but pigs didn't even blip on my wildlife radar during my mental race prep. I was so hoping to see a pig out there. But no pigs. Also no snakes or spiders, but occasionally I would feel a sudden, short-lived sting on my exposed skin. I blamed it on some invisible-to-me insects, but I'm still not certain what it could be. Plus, I got to jump some horse patties, a strangely rewarding section of the course.

For the marathon, we did the loop on the right once, plus the little one mile out-and-back that you see looking like a stick-person arm on the right. Then, we doubled back around and completed the larger loop. The course ends at the start line.


Although I'm not 100% positive, I think that the 50Kers did the same course as us but their stick-person arm on the right went out longer than ours. Plus they may have added another small out-and-back somewhere else. 

The course was well marked. The only time I got off course was coming back from the out-and-back segment. When the sign said to turn around and head back, I turned around and headed back, but back was some other path. Luckily I saw other runners heading up the trail before I got too far off, and I could still easily cut through the woods to get back on track. It was actually kind of fun to jump through the woods a little bit compared to the relatively tame trail. 

This pic shows what most of the trail looked like. Sandy dirt covered with pine straw. Very soft and easy on the joints. 


The first loop of the course was really shady and felt like it had a lot of downhill. Though when I look at my Garmin stats, I don't really see that reflected in the stats. As you can see (below) there were some hills, but they were all very runnable. I hiked one at the end just because I felt like it, but really, these weren't the type of hills that will kill your legs if you run them. My Garmin listed total elevation gain as 1776 ft.



Not surprisingly in such a small race, no one was running the same pace as me, so I spent this whole race almost exclusively alone on the trail. I rarely run alone on trails for safety reasons, so this was a sort of introspective treat. It was peaceful and made each aid station truly feel like an oasis. 

Seeing the first aid station

Towards the end of the race, it got slightly hotter and less shady. With the heat and more tired legs, I really started to noticed the sandiness of the trails on the uphills. My goal on each uphill was to not step in the sand because I wanted to avoid sliding backwards with each step. 

Even though it got hotter, the weather was relatively mild for a Florida race. The high was supposed to reach 81F that day, but I think it never made much above 70F while I was out on the course. 

Some of the gorgeously gnarled oak trees shading the course.

The end of the race was predictable, as it covered the same trail that had led us out on the course earlier that morning, but I'm not sure when I was happier -- starting out on the journey fresh that morning or heading back after slogging it out for hours. I'm thinking the finish was my happiest place that day. 


My race: My original time goal for this race was 4:30. I just wanted to take it slow and easy. But I started off running my easy miles in the 8:30s, so I knew that it could potentially be a faster day. Or it could be a blow-up day.

Because the course stayed mild throughout, I didn't have any major blow-ups, though I did get a little lonely and tired at the end of the race. My times definitely slowed down for the second half of the course with most of the miles in the 9s. It wasn't any more difficult terrain, but it was a mental challenge to keep pushing when I hadn't seen a human in what felt like hours.

I started to listen to music around the halfway point and enjoyed being alone on the course so that I could sing out loud and not bother anyone but the wild pigs.

For food, I ate a few chips and orange slices at each aid station. Plus, I drank Gatorade when it was available to help keep my electrolytes up. They warned us that it could get hot, and I wanted to avoid getting dehydrated. I also brought three gels that I took at miles 5, 12, and 17. Then I had an energy drink that I took somewhere in the 20s. I also ran with water (40 oz.) in my Camelbak, and I only needed to refill it once during the race.

My stomach was feeling a little off in the beginning of the race and chewing food was a little gaggy to me, but I managed to not spew, which I thought might happen a couple of times. Intestinally, I actually felt better at the end of the race than at the beginning which is a reversal of my normal order of things.

The biggest terrain challenge for me was the sand underfoot, which got harder to navigate with tired, wobbly legs at the end of the race.

After the race: My favorite part of this course was that they didn't make you wait around for race awards. As soon as I crossed the finish line, they told me that I was the first girl to come through for the marathon and handed me my plaque right there. I loved that! 

The overall winners got this citrus-y plaque. My kids were happy to learn that I finally really won something. For some reason (that I am positive I did not teach them), they consider an age-group win a fake win. Though when I told them that three guys finished before me, they became suspect again. 


I was kind of hoping that someone would spread out some of that trail marking tape and let me run through it at the end to really live that moment up, but no one received my mental telepathy and did that at the finish line. Dang it!


The after-race vibe was really chill and welcoming. Everyone was just hanging out chatting in their camp chairs, which they had set up to face the finish line and cheer people home. 



For snacks, they served pizza, watermelon, bagels, bananas, beer, water, and Gatorade at the finish. Not too many gluten-free options, so I had the pizza and some fruit. 


I loved the finish-line photographer. Complete maxin and relaxin, and he got the good shots too. Bam. Done. 



Swag: The swag bags came with a few little treats. The Raw Revolution Chocolate Coconut Bliss sample bar was amazing! It was like a healthy version of a Mounds bar. I will be getting more of those. 


I also really liked the Softlips lip balm, which had SPF 20 in it. Scoring. 

The shirts actually fit pretty well for unisex shirts. I didn't realize until I got home that I accidentally ended up with a 50K shirt. Whatev if the world gets a more hardcore vibe from me with this shirt that reads a distance much longer than I actually ran. Or maybe most people will just shrug their shoulders and wonder how far that is. The second option is more likely. 


The medals were simple wooden squares with an added plaque-y type plate to the front. Stop me if I'm getting too technical in these descriptions. It can be overwhelming for the layreader.



Overall: The cost of the marathon is $65, and it's $85 for the 50K. The course difficulty is pretty mild with low hills throughout the course and some sandy footing to keep things interesting. All of the trails that I was on were plenty wide for passing. Low-key and friendly, this race would be a perfect place for you if you are just starting out trail running or if you are looking for a break from the roads. You will break a sweat, but you won't have to climb or jump too much. If this race falls during our spring break again next year, I'd consider coming back again to use this as a long training run for my April marathon. 

March 19, 2013

Trail race giveaway winner and what the mannequin

All of my vacation posting has to be accomplished from my phone for now, so there won't be much of that going down. I am almost 100% against all typing on my phone. It's really a creativity buster, but I owe some of you Alabamians a winner for the giveaway, so necessity dictated this phone post.

The winner (chosen via random.org) was #2 John, who asked that if he won I spread the love to the next person under him (because he already had a race that weekend). So that means Kristie won! Congrats! Email me, and I'll connect you with David Tosch, the race director, to get you signed up. I'm totally clueless on how to link up on this mobile app, but if you are looking to run some races around Birmingham, check out the Southeastern Trail Series that is designed to prep you for your first 50k by the end of the series. Or you can hit the longer distance options at each race if you have already upped your trail mileage.

And for the masses (positive thinking) who are dying to know what I'm doing on vacation, here are some snippets. The scary mannequin greeted us at a thrift shop entrance. I laughed and cried a little. And I am taking a post-race eating plan break, which means chowing down at my favorite ice cream shop.





March 17, 2013

Citrus Trail Marathon results

Spring break has officially sprung. We made it to my mom's house, which was one hour from the start line of today's race. This was my first trail marathon, and my first time running trails in Florida. The terrain was less hilly and rocky than Alabama's, but there was the sink-iness of the sand to deal with. I'll be back later with more race specifics.

But the final results are 3:56:14 and first place woman for the marathon and fourth overall (I think). What?! That is definitely a first. Did I already mention that it was a small, small race? Well, it was. But that does not make me any less likely to talk about it like I just won Boston. I won, I won, I won! Also winning that I didn't have to hurdle any gators in route to the finish.