Monday, September 30, 2013

Preparing for Ragnar DC

I am heading to Maryland in just a few days for an epic adventure:The Ultimate Mother Runner Showdown.  As I am starting to pack and prepare for my journey, I thought I would review a couple of products that the sponsors of this adventure had sent me recently.  So, of course, the obligatory disclaimer: Yes, these products were sent to me for free. I was not asked to promote these products, and all my opinions are my own.
  Two of the most recent products I received were the Ultimate Direction Hand-Held Fast-Draw Bottle and 110% Flat-Out Sox. 
  I was very happy to receive the Hand Held bottle because just recently I had lost my Amphipod one.  This sounds strange, but I think it went out with the recycling by accident.  I had received as a gift for my birthday, and I stored in our pantry, right above the recycling bin. Just a couple of months ago, it went missing! To tell you the truth, I wasn't a big fan of it because it always leaked while I was running. I had been looking for a replacement, and lucky me, I got it!
 The Ultimate Direction Bottle does not leak.  It holds 20 oz of fluid, has a "kicker valve" which takes a little practice to get used to. It involves squeezing, biting and sucking to get the liquid out. That sounds very suggestive, but I have no other way to describe it! I have gotten the hang of it, and the fact that it doesn't leak makes it all worth it. I like the tension-lock hand strap. I can adjust it so that it is tight and after a few minutes, you can forget it is even there.  There is a zippered pocket which has just enough room for my car key and a Gel.  And I love the color I received- Pink! That means there will be no "borrowing" of it by my boys and husband. Bonus!!
The second product I received were the Flat Sox from 110%PlayHarder.  I have been using the Compression Sleeves with Ice for at least a year now. They have helped my shin splints so much. I love putting these on when I get home from long runs. The fact that you can insert the ice sheets into the pockets of the calf sleeves is ingenious.  In the past, I have had to hold an ice pack to my shins, or tie a tea-towel around my leg to hold the ice.  I have loved these compression sleeves. Now I have the Compression socks and I have really liked the support they give for long runs.  I find the material very supportive and soft.  They are made of a wicking material, so sweating is kept to a minimum.  Not only do my shins feel supported, so do my feet and arches.  The only thing I think is missing from these socks is the ability to insert ice post-run.  It would be great to leave them on, put my feet up and insert ice right into the socks.  Instead, I have removed these, and then pulled on the compression sleeves with the ice pockets.  Not a big deal, they are a good compression sock.  I will definitely be wearing them for the Ragnar Relay during the runs and while waiting in the van. 
 Here's a photo of the socks I received:
You will be able to see me coming down the road with these reflective stripes!!
I will bringing both of these products with me to Ragnar.  Any body who is training for a long distance event would benefit from trying them out.  Now, it's time to start packing all my gear for the relay.  Cumberland, MD, here I come!!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ultimate Mother Runner Showdown

One month from today, I will be in Cumberland, MD for an exciting adventure.  Back in June, I found out that I was selected to be on Sarah's Team from Another Mother Runner for the Ragnar DC Relay. I have been a fan of Sarah and Dimity's for years, starting when they were blogging for Runner's World about training for the Nike Women's Marathon in 2007.  I followed them along as they wrote about their training, and when poor Dimity developed a stress fracture that relegated her to cycling on her trainer in her basement to prepare for the race.  I could relate to these "mother runners" as they chronicled their daily struggles with balancing training with the demands of being a wife and mother.  When they wrote their first book "Run Like a Mother",
I was excited to read it and was not disappointed. Through their personal stories of running and training, I was able to commiserate and laugh along. The book offers really practical information about being a "mother runner"such as how to incorporate your running schedule in with your spouse, including a hilarious description of "Horizontal Sweat Sessions", which can ensure that your spouse will be more agreeable to you being gone for a 3 hour run on Saturday after "intimate cross-training" on Friday night. They also incorporated quotes from other mother runners that offered advice and also provided relatable tidbits of information.  They since have written another book "Train Like a Mother" which I have found very useful.  The book offers several training plans for beginner runners, all the way up to a "Own it Plan" for the marathon.  I have used the training plans for the half and full marathon, and found it to be very helpful.  They also offer advice about nutrition for runners, cross-training and strength training advice and setting realistic goals for racing.
  Sarah and Dimity also have a busy Facebook page, web site, and one of my favorites, weekly podcasts.  I look forward to having a new podcast every Monday morning as I head out for my run.  Most recently, they interviewed Lauren Fleshman. Lauren is a pro runner who also just happens to be a fellow Oiselle runner.  She is also a new mom, and it was interesting hearing her take on running while pregnant, and postpartum.  She also offered many great tips on staying motivated during tough workouts and when set backs happen. If you're looking for a great running podcast, check out AMR Radio! You will not be disappointed. And if you're looking for some motivational running tops, check out their AMR Store. One of my favorites is the lifestyle tee "It's All Good. I Ran Today". Pretty much sums it up for me.
  Anyway, back to the Relay.  I was thrilled and honored to be selected to run on Sarah's Team (which will be known as Badass Mother Runners at the race).  It will be the Ultimate Mother Runner Showdown with a friendly competition to see if Sarah or Dimity's team makes it first to the finish line in Washington, DC.  Some of the ladies selected have been very active on Facebook, and we have been getting to know each other in preparation for the race.  We are all "mother runners" and fans of Sarah and Dimity's, coming together to run, laugh and chat.  And optimistically, sleep a couple of hours in the 24-30 hours we spend in the vans! As I found out with the Ragnar Relay NWP, these relays can be quite a bonding experience.
 As well as the fun of running the Ragnar Relay with the ladies, there is some great swag involved as part of being selected to be part of the teams: (as taken from the AMR website)

A rundown of what each relay runner will receive:
 Nuun: tasty hydration in non-sticky, super-convenient tablets (and sponsor of Ragnar)
 110% Flat Out Sox: squeezy gradient compression socks to keep your legs fresh and kicky
 Saucony: sampling of products from our fave running company
Sof Sole: custom-to-your-arch Fit insoles for cradle-like support
 AMR Top: to-be-determined (and designed) tank or shirt for our kickass teams
 Skinfare: organic, healing balms that soothe chafe, chapped lips and everything in between
 Ragnar: an entry to the mother runner version of the Amazing Race
NuttZo: delish organic nut- and seed-butters that are brimming with healthy, good stuff Hyland’s: Calms Forte, our must-have homeopathic sleep aid, and Muscle Therapy Gel with Arnica

As of today, I have received most of these prizes in the mail, and I have to tell you, it's been like Christmas. All these sponsors have been so generous, and it has been great sampling all these products.  I will have a more detailed post soon, with raves of some of my favorites. 
 For now, I continue to train for my second Ragnar Relay.  I have been assigned Runner #5, which means I run a total of 15.1 miles over the 3 legs.  There are some serious climbs in this relay, so I have been working on my hill repeats.  Luckily, living here in central PA, there are plenty of rolling hills.  No matter what, I know this weekend will be one to remember.