September 16, 2014

Women's Running Series Nashville race winner

Checking in quickly to let Holly know that she won the entry to Women's Running Series Nashville Half via the number generator on Holly, email me by the end of today to get your race entry -- yomommaruns(at) (If I don't hear back from Holly by the end of today, I'll pick another winner tomorrow, so we can get the ball rolling on the race registration.) If you still want to sign up but need an incentive, here's a discount code for $10 off: YOMOMMA. 

And now back to my current regularly scheduled program: non-stop house fixing. At least my Tuesday night job as run lead at Life Time requires running, so I won't be totally MIA in the running world. 

Yesterday, we had these quartzite countertops installed. They look similar to marble, but the hardness/durability is between marble and granite. They are not quartz, even though all of my internet searches want to lead me to that when I want info about quartzite. 

Any backsplash recommendations from the masses? I'm running out of ideas that my husband likes. 

September 9, 2014

Starting out and starting over (+Women's Running Series Nashville Half/5K entry giveaway!)

Our Life Time run group has swelled the last couple of weeks with the addition of a couch-to-5K group. First of all, they are fun. I went out and ran some extra mileage tonight, and the people who were hanging and chatting when I left were still hanging and chatting when I came back. Now those are my kind of people! I am a real fan of the extended hang out. If your post-run hang out equals or exceeds your run time, we can be friends.

Last week's group -- wild 'n out.

Second, someone (I'm looking at you, Skip) helped me remember a very important running/life philosophy tonight. We were talking about starting over again after a long break or injury and about how when you are in the thick of marathon training, you just get used to bopping out and running 17 miles like it's no big deal. Or it is a huge deal at first (!!), but over time, if you get addicted as you surely will, it gets to be less and less of a big deal. And eventually you are running 20 miles like you used to walk around the block, and now 20 miles is just what you do. This applies to whatever it is that you "just do." Could be parenting, working at a crappy job, dealing with stressful family situations. Whatever it is that you just do is your new norm.

For example, let's say that you have four kids, and the youngest is five years old. Then you find out that you are pregnant (this is not a true story -- at least not a true story for me!) and realize that now you have to go all the way back to the beginning and start those baby steps again. And there's nothing wrong with that, but when you get so far away from that and are into the age of childhood where the kids feed themselves, this might not be the most exciting prospect. Unless you are one of those people who can't get enough of infants. And to that I say, bless you.  

The point of all this is to say that sometimes we get so deep into something like running or parenting, that we forget what it was like to be just starting out. And certain things can happen, like an injury or a new baby, to force us back to that point, where we may be required to practice extra patience with ourselves and the new path we are on. 

And isn't that life? Always reminding us of things we got so smug about. That happened to me at Run for Kids this year, when I was all, I can run whatever I want and eat whatever I want while running and survive, no problem. And my body was like, you are on crack -- and since you're not literally on crack I will now make you feel as sick as you would be if you were on crack to prove to you that you can't just do whatever you want when you want. That situation forced me to get back to the basics on a lot of things I took for granted in running and reevaluate my approach. The best lesson I have learned from it all is that it's OK to slow down sometimes. We won't always run as fast or as long as we want to, and we'll ebb and flow through highs and lows. And I personally believe that we can learn just as much and be just as content/peaceful in our lows as in our highs. That may just mean I haven't actually hit the lows in my life. 

So to all of the people who are getting back into running after a break or just starting out, don't get discouraged because you aren't where you want to be today. And practice contentment. Pretty sure I just became a yoga teacher in that last sentence. My yin teacher would be so proud. But at the same time as you are practicing contentment, dream of kicking arse.

For those of you who are wanting to get something on the calendar to make some of that kicking arse happen, I have a giveaway for you today. I am teaming up with the Women's Running Series to give one of you a chance to make something happen in Nashville, TN, at their half marathon or 5K on September 27th. 

I ran this course a couple of years ago, and for Nashville, it's relatively fast and flat. And when your quads and hammies are screaming at the end, remember that I said "relatively"! Also, it's much less crowded and chaotic than the Rock 'n Roll half. And for those of you who didn't already know, I'm totally obsessed with Nashville and would be running this race if it wasn't for a schedule conflict (three-day stage race). Check out my race recap here from 2012.

The only requirement to win is that you are willing take some pictures for me and tell me how your race went. (totally serious!)

To review. 

What: Free entry, Women's Running Series Half or 5K 

Where: In Nashville, TN. Possibly the greatest city on the planet.

When: September 27th.

To enter: Just leave a comment below telling me why you want to run this race (and check your schedule to make sure you can make it), and I'll use a random number generator next Monday, September 15th, to pick a winner from you butt-kicking people wanting to give it a shot. Trying to make this giveaway as simple and easy for you e-people as possible!

Bonus entry: Tweet the following (or something like unto it) and let me know that you have in a comment below: Win an entry to  Nashville Half/5K from ! Sept. 27  

And if you decide to go ahead and register, use the discount code YOMOMMA for $10 off of the half marathon (coupon expires 9/21/2014). 

September 8, 2014

Ridge to Ridge 10.5/21 Miler 2014

As I rolled up to the race this morning, I noticed (somehow for the first time ever -- after many races at this site) that our start line for a 21-mile race in 98% humidity and temps in the 90s would be on Tranquility Road. Touché, Ridge to Ridge.

Race prep: I put on lots of Skin Sake, froze my full Camelbak overnight, and wore my Mission Athletecare Enduracool headband (which I wear as a necklace/face wiper). Also wearing: North Face pocket bra, white hat (tick deflector), Oiselle tank and shorts (most comfortable ever), Swiftwick socks (lucky), and Pearl Izumi shoes (not too bulky). Mistake of the day: forgetting to put Skin Sake on my back where my Camelbak rubs and/or not wearing a shirt with more back coverage. Chafe like a motha! It only hurt after the race, so that's lucky (???). And now I have chafe wings on my back. 

Karen (Internet friend who I met for the first time on Saturday! Thank you for volunteering!), me, G-dilly

Pre-race: Easy number pick-up, lots of milling around, M Runs taking a million pictures, actual flushing toilets. The only thing I need to remember is that these Tosch races are getting more popular, and I need to get there earlier to find a good parking spot. I had to park at the far side of the lot, which was fine until I tried walking back to my car barefoot. Tiny gravel with small pieces of glass are not the best barefooting surface.

Weather: I'm just going to reiterate: 98% humidity, 91 degrees. My shoes were squishy like I had walked through a river before the end of the first loop. Sweat puddles.

The course: Two loops of 10 (or so) miles. Everything was well marked, and I had no trouble finding my way. There were some steep climbs in the first half, followed by a few miles of flat-ish trail that was neither up nor down nor flat. So it just felt like it was never going to end. Then it was downhill to the finish. Oh, and did I mention it was freaking hot?

Taking pictures while running: dangerous, definitely don't look up.

My race: My goal for every race this summer is to not bonk. I'm trying to perfect nutrition to help with that, and I learned at Hotter 'n Hell that salt tablets were a good thing for me. Why have I resisted salt pills for so long? Well, I figured that between gels and electrolyte drinks that I was getting enough. My body told me several times that it wasn't, so I'm finally trying to listen. Your body knows when it's had enough, and it will not react well until you give it what it needs. For me "not reacting well" means that my heart races when I am practically standing still, my legs turn into tree trunks rooted in the ground, and my mind starts looping out. Oh, and sometimes I vomit. When you are sweating buckets, your body is pretty much just shoveling salt out like my kids shovel food from their plates onto the floor (weird, right? are they even getting any in their mouth?). So I finally decided to start shoveling the salt back in.

A few of my Resolute Running buds. 

For this race, I took six Endurolytes -- two during the first loop and four during the second loop. I ran for a total of 4:37. My first loop was 2:11, so even though I worked much harder during the second loop, I was 15 minutes slower. Also, I ate two gels during the first loop and two gels and a pack of Honey Stinger chews on the second loop. I had one 50-oz. pack of plain water on the first loop, plus Heed at the aid stations. On the second loop, I had a 50-oz. pack full of water with Skratch powder in it (first time to try it), plus I drank Heed at the aid station and noshed an orange slice. The Skratch had a very mild flavor, which was a plus for me.

The lucky part of this race was that pretty much the entire race I had someone very cool to run with. That someone rotated throughout the race as I slowed down and other people sped up or vice versa. I can't say enough about the positive impact of running with people I like. It's basically why I keep running. 

One of my running compadres had this cool contraption for his gels. It's a Hydrapak soft flask. He said that he gets the giant containers of Hammer gel and then puts the gel in here, thinning it a little with water. Cheaper and smarter. 

Hydrapak soft flask

The good news is that I didn't bonk. Sure, my legs felt tired and sore, and I wanted to quit running multiple times on the second loop. But I did not bonk! That's two races in a row. The first one was shorter (relatively -- 21K), which got me thinking that I need to stick to shorter races. This one was longer, which got me thinking that I could actually survive longer races again with some new nutrition strategies. 

Post race: All I remember is that there were plenty of cold drinks and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Whoever brought those doughnuts is my personal hero! And there was a mister and a cold pool set up at the finish line. The best!

A mister should be required at every single race finish line in the AL summer months. Photo by MRuns.

I ended up getting third place for women, which was not at all expected. I have been trying not to think about anything except for not bonking my last few races, so anything beyond that is a huge bonus. 

Race prize!

David Tosch, race director/hill repeat ninja. Photo by MRuns.
Swag:  Soft cotton tees. I love them. They run small, so order a size up. 

Overall: Run this race if you are looking for a challenge and aren't afraid of heat and humidity. 

September 4, 2014

So Long Summer 21K: final race of the SSTS series

Finally, finally, finally a summer race where I didn't die or completely tank during or after the run. 

So Long Summer 21K at Red Mountain in Birmingham, AL, is the last race of three of the Sizzlin' Summer Trail Series 2014. We kicked off the series at Ruffner Mountain and continued with the second race at Turkey Creek. All three races offered shorter and longer distances so that beginners and experienced trail runners could get in on the fun. 

And come on, I mean who doesn't want to win one of those tiny cast iron skillets. Best race medals in existence. Spoiler: currently working on a plan for possibly even better ones (it will be hard to beat miniature cast iron) for Crusher Ridge made with our friends at the Exceptional Foundation. Fingers crossed that that plan works out.  

SSTS training crew shirts and medals for overall winners.

This was also the pinnacle race for my training group that completed the whole series! I was so proud of all of them for working hard through the summer months. A lot of them were coming back from injuries and put in some solid effort to not only get back to running, but to add trails to the mix. And this is the time where I preach that trail running is perfect for people who have experienced repetitive motion injuries from road running. Got a janky IT band? Hit the trails and see what varying terrain can do for you. 

I actually wasn't really planning to run that morning when I showed up, but I needed to get in miles. So about 20 minutes before the race I was all, what the heck, I'm just gonna do this

Course: Loved it. As a frequent Red Mountain runner, I was pleased to see a lot of trails used that are newer. There was no getting bored on this course. It went back and forth and over and under. There was a spot that threw some people off because two paths (one used earlier in the race, one used later) intersected. If you followed the signs, you were cool, but you couldn't just follow the flags because you could see them going in a couple of directions. Signs were key to following in this race. I heard that a trail hoodlum flipped one of the signs. Not sure if that is true or not, but if it is, you (whoever the sign flipper is) are a jerk. 

There was also a course map to check out at the registration tent, for those who can read maps. Jake (below) can -- he didn't get lost and was the winnah for the boys' 21K. 

There was one aid station on the 21K course with cookies, chips, water, and a few other items. We passed it twice during our run. There may have been another water-only stop, but I honestly can't remember because I didn't need to stop at any of them. I had heard there would be no food, so I packed everything with me. 

Parking and registration: Red Mountain parking started with just parking along the street, and they've now upgraded to an entire lot just for hikers, bikers, and the like. So there's plenty of parking. They also offered on-site registration that morning, for people like me who were undecided until ten seconds before race start. 

Getting' their registration on.

Coaches with our trainee (in the middle), who went home with a winner skillet.

Weather: I was thinking that we got lucky with cooler weather that day, but when I actually confirmed with, it said the high had been 95. So nope, not cooler. But I think because it was a shorter-for-me distance, I could handle the temps for the couple of hours and some change that I was out there. Originally this race was scheduled for an afternoon time, but they thankfully and mercifully rescheduled for a morning race. Good lawsy, we didn't need to add to the heat-based oppression of this summer's temps.

Pre-race happiness.

My personal race: So the god of putting ice in your Camelbak was smiling upon me that day. I took it out of the freezer that morning, full and solid as a rock. I strapped it on at the beginning of the race thinking that I would have to stop at aid stations to supplement, but it was just miraculously the right amount of freezing cold water every time. I had about a swig left at the end of the race, so a half is the perfect distance for my frozen Camelbak in 95-degree temps. 

Race start.

I also supplemented with a Hammer gel and some Honey Stinger chews, my fave right now. I still haven't tried out that Hammer Perpetuem that's sitting on my counter waiting to nourish me on a long run. Let me know if you want to try some -- seriously, I don't want to waste that giant container of it. I'll hook you up with a ziploc baggie of it. I just haven't found the right time to try it out. Either it's a race, and I don't want to try something new. Or it's a run that I just want to pack water for instead of getting bottles of stuff ready. Laziness strikes again.

Race finish.

As far as running went, there was a fellow near me most of the first half of the race who kept me on pace. We parted ways somewhere on Ike, but it was nice to have someone to chat with for a bit. I know these trails pretty well, so I knew which hills were pushable to run up and which weren't. Home trail advantage. Although sometimes it's home trail disadvantage when you will end up psyching yourself out.

Race groupies.

That's what happened at the end of the race. As we came out onto the main road back to the finish line, I saw a runner in front of me and tried to catch him because I knew the end was so close. But in the middle of my I'm-sprinting-past-a-runner-to-finish-this-race-strong euphoria, I saw an arrow pointing left. Was that a joke? Nope. I went from my nice flat road to the finish to heading back up into the hills for more. So kind of a trick ending, but I knew that we hadn't reached 21K on my watch. Also in the back of my mind, there was a vague memory of some more flags out there that I had seen go down trails that I hadn't run yet, so it wasn't a total shock. But part of me hoped those were for the shorter race distance. Not so. It was only about another half mile, but when you think you are sprinting to the finish, adding another .5 can feel brutal.

The best news of the day was that I finished without any moments of why do I even like this sport or I can't breath OR run OR eat -- this sport is stupid. Lately, all of my races have had some sort of crapster moment that makes running for fun nonexistent, so it was nice to end a race with no negatives.

And as a side bonus, the only other girl in front of me got lost (not a bonus for her -- boo on getting lost) so I ended up in first place. Default, but I'll still take that frying pan and awesome bonus gift card from Alabama Outdoors

Sponsors: Also, thank you again to Resolute Running, Alabama Outdoors, Swiftwick, BANa [serious rehydration], and Skin Sake for contributing to our Sizzlin' Summer training team program!