Whole 30 “appetizer”: 5 tips so you don’t go insane.

Yup, it’s been a minute. Between finals, holidays, trying to cram in a bunch of CDC work during school break, and one last ditch effort to complete the Yeti Challenge* on New Year’s Eve (success!), I just about imploded as Jan 1 rolled around. 2017 was certainly a great year in my book. Another year of my PhD program finished, we bought a new house, and ran 100 miles, to name a few. In terms of overall athletic effort I completed: 1 100 mile, 1 100k, 1 50 mile, 3 50ks, 5 marathons, 3 half marathons, at least one marathon + distance per month (some of these were training runs), and over 1330 miles run. Even with all these awesome race experiences that a previous version of me could never have imagined, the end of the year holiday excess reminded me one key fact of my life: I still have a shitty relationship with food.

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Every new year I’m left feeling drained, bloated, gross from the heavy food insanity that occurs in the last few weeks of the year. Even with marked improvements in my ability to take single helpings, just the type of food alone makes me feel like crap. Due to that feeling, plus the fact that I didn’t have any heavy training loads planned for January (more than any idea of a “resolution” really), this scientist felt like it was time for an experiment…a nutrition experiment.

I’d been following the Whole 30 phenomenon for a while and felt like it presented a safe, balanced, manageable, and compelling challenge. You can visit The Whole30 program for detailed information, but in a nutshell it’s paleo on steroids. The elevator pitch explanation is basically that it’s a food “experiment” where you eliminate foods that potentially cause GI distress and inflammatory processes for 30 days, and then you slowly reintroduce foods to find out specifically what affects your body. The 30 days acts as a kind of cleanse of all the crap from your body while you still get to eat a ton of awesome food, just in a much more mindful, meticulous way. I’m kinda an all or nothing person so this plan was a-ok for me.

The TL;DR version of Whole30 –> eat meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruit, and natural fats. DO NOT consume sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, or dairy. DO NOT consume baked goods or “treats” (if the ingredients are “compliant”). DO NOT weigh or measure yourself. NO counting calories**. HOLY CRAP, RIGHT?!

Guess what? It’s the end of day 16 and I’m fine. In fact, I’m more than fine. I’m excited about the food I eat, and I actually enjoy cooking for the first time in my entire life. Plus, I feel pretty damn good. Like I feel as if my whole body has deflated, in a good way. I’ve been to several social events, and just returned from a 5 day ski trip and no slip ups. The process can feel overwhelming at first and you may be compelled to be a hermit for 30 days and not engage in any social activities. NOT SO! Here’s 5 tips I’ve used so far that have made this approachable and even fun!

  1. Instacart: this is a lifesaver for me. Honestly, the experience of Whole 30 plus Instacart is a huge part of why I now ENJOY cooking. The grocery store really stresses me out. Using Instacart, I shop online for the specific things I need and don’t end up browsing the store and impulse buying. There’s a small service fee but I’ve been able to use promo codes each time. I also had a small credit today. I usually pay the shopper/Driver a nice tip because 1) it’s service industry, 2) they’ve all been so friendly, 3) and they shop my entire order and deliver in half the time it would take me. At the end of the day I figure it comes out even based on the $ I save from impulse buys. I highly recommend giving it a shot. This referral gets you $10 off and free delivery using code JRUDD318E. 
  2. Nom Nom Paleo App: this is a great resource for paleo and whole30 prep guides and recipes. Her best resource is the free app with tons of recipes that you can easily search by Whole30. Pretty much everything I’ve cooked in the last 2 weeks has been from this app. The deviled egg salad and the instant pot beef chili are my faves and super easy.
  3. I’m late to this current obsession but yes, the Instant Pot: yeah, this is the pressure cooker of the 21st century I guess and I never thought I’d be so excited about a kitchen appliance. Call me converted. I have the Duo Plus 6 Qt 9-in-one and this baby replaces: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice/porridge cooker, yogurt maker, cake/egg maker, sauté/searing, steaming, warmer and sterilizer. The beef chili, including prep, took 30 minutes total because of this magic. I’ve been rolling out the hard boiled eggs like clockwork. Whole30 or not, this thing is amazeballs, especially if you want to rock some 30 minute, one-pot meals.
  4. Stock up on savory snacks. I keep some of the sweeter Whole30 compliant snacks like Lara Bars for workout needs. The program itself prefers reaching for protein and healthy fats to fufill most snacking needs – kill the sugar monster basically. To acomplish this, I maintain a stock of hard boiled eggs, nuts (no peanuts – those are legumes!), beef jerky (check labels for no added sugar!), veggies, and salsa. I’ve been carrying snack bags of almonds in my purse or backpack so if I get stuck late somewhere or sitting in traffic and feeling ravenous I reach for those. With a busy lifestyle, this point is key.
  5. Find accountability in those around you. My friend invited me to a small, private FB Whole30 group. It’s been a great resource for ideas, as well as a place to go to vent and have like-minded people talk you off the ledge. I also told my husband, obviously. He would have noticed anyway due to the fact that I cooked for him more in the last 2 weeks than I have in our entire relationship, but I prepped him for the adventure anyway. This turned out to be a lifesaver a few times when we were skiing. There was an event that had free hot chocolate and s’mores. I LOVE hot chocolate but I was able to pass easily since they just had the instant kind (why waste the experiment on that?), but the churro marshmallow s’mores were a whole other ballgame. I mentioned at one point that I may “cheat” a bit with just one s’more. A few minutes later he made the point of telling me that the chocolate was rock hard from being outside in the freezing temps and it just wasn’t that great. I’m not sure I believed him but it was more than enough to kill the urge. Honestly, the fact that I didn’t have hot chocolate and s’mores on a ski trip did not diminish the awesomeness of the trip one bit. It’s amazing how we justify food choices around vacations and events, when the joy of the event itself should have nothing to do with food. Light bulb moment for sure.

So that’s my Whole30 halfway point roundup. I’ll be sure to check back in after day 30. If you’ve done Whole30, doing it now, or thinking about it in the future. Feel free to chime in here.

* Yeti Challenge: 50k, 50mile, 100k, 100 mile in one calendar year.

** The no counting calories thing was what really sold me. Honestly, the idea of counting calories is absolute unsustainable bullshit prone to huge error and cheating anyway. Just eat real food!

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BibRave Review: Healthy, Quick, and Delicious with Luvo Meals

“Disclaimer: I received Luvo Healthy Meals to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

Juggling a full time PhD program, a job, married life, friends, and of course, running/cycling/swimming, etc. it’s tough to also maintain healthy eating habits. Busy daily life often leads to reaching for the quickest/easiest foods and those are often not the healthiest. Around this time of year I often feel weighed down by holiday food, snacking and fast food during finals, and lack of sleep. As a result, workouts feel like lead due to poor nutrition. How to survive and even thrive during the end of the year slog? Enter Luvo Healthy Meals.

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Special delivery…healthy happiness…

Luvo provides a wide selection of frozen meals that offer a “3-2-None promise”:

  • The right balance of (3) protein, whole grains, and veggies
  • Limiting (2) sodium and sugar
  • No (none) artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners

You can easily choose from steam in pouch meals, bowls, and planted (vegan) power bowls on their website, offering vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, vegetarian, or dairy free options. Something for everyone! There’s filters so you can easily search for meals based on your preferences. I had 16 meals ordered in minutes and they arrived cold packed less than a week later. When I need a couple extra meals between orders, it’s easy to pick up a few at the local Kroger (although selection is limited in comparison to ordering direct from the website).

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Start here for healthy, yummy times ahead…

My favorite meals have definitely been the roasted cauliflower mac and cheese (gluten free and it tastes too good to be healthy!) and the hawaiian unfried rice (vegan!). The best part, even during finals I haven’t missed a meal and I’ve actually LOST weight! I feel energetic and not weighed down by the awful food I usually eat this time of year. Plus, the cost of each mail is comparable and even less than most fast food meals.

Want to give Luvo meals a try? Use code BIBCHAT for 10% your entire order on their website. Use them to get through the holidays…and then realize they’re so good you’ll keep ordering in the new year!

Here’s what other BibRave Pros have to say:

Lissa | Brad | Dane | Stephanie |

Don’t forget to join BibRave and co-sponsor Luvo for Twitter #Bibchat on Tuesday, Dec. 19 at 9pm ET for your chance to learn more and maybe win some yumminess!

You can visit Luvo at http://luvoinc.com and on social media at Facebook | Twitter | Instagram |

 

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BibRave Product Review: BOCO Gear 360° Visor®

“Disclaimer: I received a BOCO Gear 360° Visor® to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

If you’ve been paying attention you may already know I have a whole dresser drawer filled with BUFF® products. What you may not know is that the same drawer shares space with more visors then there are days of the week. Basically, that one drawer holds my most important running accessories, outside of sneakers (and if you saw my recent Instagram post you’d know that I can manage without those anyway). I’m obsessed with visors for several reasons:

  • They keep sweat and stray hair out of my face better than headband (I’ll even wear them at night for this reason)
  • They keep my eyes and skin protected from the sun, without needing glasses which tend to hurt my ears after a while
  • The hair/ponytail fit much better under a visor than a full hat
  • They’re lighter, more comfortable, and more adjustable than a full hate (although I’m known to rock a trucker on runs from time to time – I LOVE my BibRave Boco gear trucker)

To say the least, I was very excited to receive the custom BibRave BOCO 360° Visor®. I’ve worn it on most of my runs lately in various conditions. The visor has several great features that has made it my go to for just about every run:

  • Lightweight wicking  outside and a wicking internal sweatband (terry cloth) to move sweat from your forehead –> soft, comfortable material and the entire visor soaks up the sweat away from your face. I’ve had no stinging sweat in the eyes wearing this
  • Soft brushed elastic back for comfort and fit –> no fiddling with readjustments; pull it on and it stays in place, even in high winds. I love how I can wear it over a full winter cap or headband to keep ears warm and I never have to readjust it. 
  • Relaxed fit front panel for a better performance and comfort
  • Black underside of the bill to reduce glare –> This is something you don’t notice until you wear a different hat or visor on a sunny day and still suffer from glare.
  • Machine washable -> wash and dry on the cold/tech cycle and it’s like new. No smell and dries fast!

FINALLY, as always #OrangeIsTheNewFast so this BibRave visor definitely makes you run faster (evidenced by the above photo where I PRd the 10 miler).

Head to the BOCO site to check out all their great products. The 360° Visor® retails for $23  – you can even create your own custom design!

Check out what other BibRave Pros have to say about BOCO Gear:

Amy W | Meridith | Jeannine | Lindsey | Angie Vanessa |

You can follow BOCO Gear on Twitter – Instagram – Facebook

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BibRave Product Review: Superfoods to the rescue with HealthWarrior!

Disclaimer: I received Health Warrior Chia Bars and coloring book to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! 

If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time hungry from tons of awesome workouts but also a lot of time sitting at a desk and mindlessly snacking. In a busy life of wake up, workout, get to work, get to school, work work, phd phd, get home late, sleep, rinse and repeat…where do you find time to engage in healthy eating habits? In a grab and go lifestyle, is it possible to find nutritional balance? Enter Health Warrior Superfoods! I received 2 boxes of Health Warrior chia bars, along with an awesome marathon coloring book, to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Shitty snacking had met it’s match.

Health Warrior was founded in 2010 by college friends and former collegiate athletes who discovered that quality calories over quantity was the way to survive the post-collegiate, desk-bound lifestyle. After reading Born to Run  (is there a runner who hasn’t read this book??), they discovered the nutrient dense superfood that is chia seeds. Ounce-for-ounce, chia boasts more omega-3s than salmon, more protein than an egg, more calcium than milk, and more fiber than flax. In addition, Health Warrior Chia Bars and Superfood Protein Bars are all gluten free, soy free, dairy free, vegan, and kosher!

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The Health Warrior way…

“BUT Jessica”, you may ask, “if it’s ‘free’ of all that great tasting stuff, don’t they taste like crap??” To this I say “HELL NO!” I tested the vanilla almond and the peanut butter chia bars. They only have 4-5g of sugar each, and about 100 calories. It’s the perfect amount of sweetness and chewy texture for a mid-morning or afternoon snack,  or a pre or post workout boost. The most happy discovery of all? You can break them up into some greek yogurt for a healthy, lower sugar granola alternative! No more unnecessary sugar spikes, huzzah! The bars are also nice and easy on the stomach, so they work just fine for me during a workout without GI distress. My only real complaint is that you do have to pick some chia seeds out of your teeth (a small price to pay for superfood yumminess).

For an added bonus you can print out the hilariously accurate “Marathon Training” coloring book for free here! Munch on some superfood and engage in cathartic coloring at the same time.

 

Health Warrior Chia Bars currently come in 9 awesome flavors (I can’t wait to try the Salted Caramel!) and retails for $15.99 for a box of 15, with free shipping for orders over $25. If you want to start small, you can try a sampler box of 3 for $4.99 and free shipping. I’ve also found several flavors available at my local Kroger Supermarket.

Check out what other BibRave Pros have to say about Health Warrior:

Amy W | Janelle | Casey | Stephanie | Paula | Brenda | Matt | Lindsey | Emily | Samantha |

For more info and to keep up with the Health Warrior “tribe” follow them on social:

Instagram| Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest |

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BibRave Product Review: Keeping cozy with BUFF® ThermoNet™

 

Disclaimer: I received BUFF® ThermoNet™ to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! Applications are open now through November 15th for the 2018 year!

Like a cat lady attracted to stray kittens, I have once again welcomed a new BUFF® product into my home. I received the ThermoNet™ hat and multifunctional head wrap in crash berry color to test. ThermoNet™ is made with Primaloft®, which is 4 times warmer than the traditional BUFF® products material without the added bulk; it’s light, warm, and designed to wick away sweat. From the BUFF® website, ThermoNet™ is designed to:

  • provide lightweight warmth
  • provide moisture management: fast drying, moisture wicking, prevent freezing
  • include zero stitch lines to eliminate hot spots and improve comfort.

Naturally, rather than moving into cooler temperatures, Atlanta has experienced the cancellation of Fall for the continued benefit of Summer. This certainly made testing the full benefits of the ThermoNet™ technology difficult, but beneficial in some areas. I did initially test the products in my kitchen and immediately noticed the difference in material from previous BUFF® products; ThermoNet™ feels more coarse and not as stretchy as the original headwear, so it fits more snug around the head and neck.

With the lack of cooling temps I opted to test drive the multifunctional headwear on a support ride with the Atlanta Track Club marathon training program. I figured this would be a great way to test the wicking capabilities since I would certainly sweat. Even with the warm and sticky weather, the ThermoNet™ felt comfortable and not overheating.

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After a morning run; feeling cozy without the soggy sweat chill

We eventually experienced some cooler mornings; still not cold enough where I would typically wear head or neck protection, but close enough for testing purposes. The multifunctional headwear worn on my head or neck provided just enough warmth without getting sticky or overheating. We did have one snap cold day where it dipped into the 40s with wind. I wore the hat and put the multifunctional headwear around my neck for the walk to and from yoga class. Walking home after sweating in yoga, the products really helped keep me from getting chilled, even with an extra long stop outside at the farmer’s market. I also tested the headwear under my bike helmet and can say that, despite the added warmth, the material is thin enough to fit under the helmet easily.

 

 

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Keeping my ears warm on the bike before the sun rises

Overall, I’m really looking forward to some cooler temps where I can experience the full awesomeness that is ThermoNet™ technology. I’ll be sweeping the first 11 miles of the Sky to Summit 50K this weekend and it looks like the weather in the mountains will ranges from the 20s to 40s so ThermoNet’s™ time has come! I’ll be sure to post updates about that later in the weekend.

You can purchase ThermoNet™ hat and multifunctional headwear at the BUFF® website for $27 each, and free shipping over $39. BUT WAIT, there’s more! You can get 20% off your entire order if you purchase at least one product from the ThermoNet™ collection using code BIBRAVETHERMONET20! *Offer expires 11/21/2017. Get ahead of your holiday shopping and hit up the BUFF® website now! Also, join BibRave and BUFF® for Twitter #bibchat on Tuesday, November 14th @ 9pm ET for your chance to win your own!

Still looking for more info? Check out what other BibRave Pros have to say:

Amy | Samantha | Angie | Meredith | Casey | Matt | Emily |

Follow BUFF® for more info on Twitter – Instagram – Facebook

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Jamming in the heat at Rock N Roll Savannah Marathon!

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Rock N Roll Savannah Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews! P.S. Applications are now open for the 2018 BibRave Pro Program and close on November 15!

You may have read on my blog before, I’m not really into gimmicky, for-profit races. However, I’ve been cautiously intrigued by the Rock N Roll Races for some time. Most people I talk to have good things to say about the races so when given the chance to run Savannah as a BibRave Pro I jumped at the chance. Oddly, this was also my way of celebrating NYC Marathon Weekend while not being in NYC. 😀

Savannah makes for a great destination race for those of us in the South because it’s accessible by drive from several major cities; it only takes about 3.5 hrs from Atlanta, so it’s a great weekend escape. Hotels in the historic part of the city can be pricey but I highly recommend staying in the area, especially if you can split the room with family/friends, or find an AirBnB. Staying downtown affords you the ability to park once and then walk for the rest of the weekend. For the race, if you stay downtown you’ll probably be able to walk to the start and from the finish as well. If not, there are several shuttles from area hotels that you can book for free in advance or at the expo. Since I didn’t use this option I don’t really know if it was hectic on race morning or not (Spend the money to be walking distance, it’s worth it!).

I arrived at the expo early Thursday to set up a booth for the Atlanta Track Club. It was cool walking around before the crowds arrived and I was even able to pick up my bib and shirt before the official expo open. I’m not a big fan of expos but something I did notice was that there were very few “freebies”. I know a lot of people love walking around expos and grabbing samples. This expo was medium in size (some say small for a Rock N Roll Race) and would probably be disappointing for those who really get into the expo vibe. For me, it was fine. I actually bought more stuff than I usually do, mostly because it wasn’t crowded and I wasn’t stressed to get out of there. I was told that packet pickup moved smoothly both days and no one had any issues. One major thing to point out: you MUST pick up your own bib! You cannot have family or friend pick up your bib, even if you can’t make it to the expo before it closes after work. For a destination race, where many people are trying to travel without missing too much work, this seems pretty unacceptable to me. I was told by a director that this was due to liability, but I’ve been to many other high security races where picking up someone else’s bib was no problem as long as you had signed confirmation and a copy of their ID. No go at Rock N Roll. They don’t advertise this, but there is an emergency bib pickup on race morning for those who can’t make it to the expo. Honestly, the start area was quite crowded and hectic so I wouldn’t want to be searching for that at 6:30 on race morning. I think Rock N Roll/Competitor should really reconsider this.

I had hoped to hit sub-5 hour finally but stomach issues and heat with direct sun squashed that a bit. The course is mostly flat, as expected. But what they don’t tell you is how much exposure you get in the second half of the course. Several miles on a highway means wide open blue skies and blazing sun on an 80 degree day. Not so fun. Outside of the highway stretch on the out and back, much of the course was through neighborhoods, including Savannah State College. The volunteers, especially the students at the college, were amazing. Of course the bands were great but I was, honestly, expecting more of them. There were a disappointing number of quiet stretches. The quality of the music was top notch though. Quality over quantity I guess. The other thing that impressed me on the course was the fact that, even in the heat, the water and gatorade was always ice cold. And they had cups of ice chips, plenty of sprayers, and sponges. Their heat plan was in place very well this time around, after the course closure they experienced in 2015.

You can read my full BibRave review of the race here, with more details on expo, course, travel, etc. I can definitely see myself doing Savannah or another Rock N Roll race again. With cooler fall temps, Savannah for sure offers a fast course and potential PR opportunity for the half and full distances.

What are some of your favorite fall destination races? Sound off in the comments.

Posted in Race Reviews, travel | 2 Comments

It’s Rock n Roll Savannah Marathon Week!

So, you thought after I completed the Yeti 100 I’d be done with my “at least a marathon-a-month” challenge? Do you know me at all?? Of course I completed 7 Bridges Marathon as a pacer 2 weeks after Yeti to lock down that October race. This week we’re heading into November, which means I’m headed down to Savannah to run my first Rock n Roll race and check off that November marathon!

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I’m running the race on behalf of BibRave but will actually be going down early Thursday to help represent Atlanta Track Club at the expo, so I get to share all the love this weekend. We’ll be getting Rock n Roll runners excited about the upcoming Atlanta Thanksgiving Half and especially the Georgia Publix Marathon and Half Marathon in March.

I’m really excited about a fun weekend including what looks to be a great (FLAT) course through beautiful Savannah architecture and spanish moss lined streets, cool swag, some great discounts for participants around town (I see you River Street Sweets!). Race day weather will peak around 80 so it’ll definitely be roasty but I’m still planning to start with the 5 hour pace group and go for a PR. Many people use heat as an excuse; I’m planning to use this excuse instead as a reason to hydrate and fuel better this week (thank you Health Warrior chia bars!), and to look forward to some warm weather after this awful cold snap we’ve had in ATL. BRING.IT.

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Finally, on the fueling front, I’m obsessed with the Health Warrior chia bars. They’re full of the good stuff (low in sugar, and high in fiber), keep you full and are GOOD FOR YOU, not just better for you. They’re gluten free, easy on the stomach, and really yummy. At only 100 calories a pop they’re a yummy and guilt free snack, plus I’ve started added them as a low sugar granola alternative to yogurt. WHAT THE WHAT?! Health Warrior has a Halloween promo right now for 30% off a full size box with code SPOOKY, and shipping is always free over $25. PLUS, you can get a free (and hilarious) running themed coloring book with a purchase from http://healthwarrior.link/colorbookbr. This PhD student takes LOTS of stress relief coloring breaks. If you get the bars and the coloring book, be sure to tell me what you think and tweet me pics of your awesome artwork. 😀

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

BibRave Review: RunGo App

“Disclaimer: I received a premium subscription to RunGo to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

I’ve never been a big fan of running or fitness apps; in my experience running applications drain phone battery and are redundant if you have a decent gps watch. However, RunGo app may have converted me into a run app user due to several unique and very useful capabilities. RunGo was created by a running and technology enthusiast, so the product is a beautiful, easy-to-use, and useful running tool. Check out this story behind RunGo:

What’s great?

  • The RunGo app bread and butter is turn-by-turn directions. The app gives heads up directions so you know when a turn is ahead. Also, if the route creator includes any points of interest the app will point those out. Probably most amusing, on a group long run with the route pre-loaded (more on that in a bit), the pleasant voice was sure to tell us when we were almost to the top of the largest climb on the course. 😀
  • You can find public user created routes or create your own routes easily. You can search or create routes on your desktop or phone and then save them offline on your phone so you won’t need to use data. This is especially useful if you’re overseas or don’t have a data package.
  • Many route creator apps are not easy to use on the mobile device and require work on the desktop. I was very impressed how easy it was to find or create my own routes directly in the phone. The user interface is clean and visually appealing.
  • With a premium subscription (only $10 for the year!) allows you to import gpx files for instant route creation. Prior to an 18 mile training run with Atlanta Track Club, I imported their route gpx file via the desktop and loaded it to the phone, all within 5 minutes. I’m a run leader for the track club training program and was easily able to lead a group through the route with the help of the pleasant voice navigation, without ever having to fumble with a crumbled paper map of the route.
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Easy route creation, with custom dialogue and waypoints

More Features:

  • 100,000+ routes worldwide with over 200 routes added daily
  • Verified routes created by RunGo and certified run groups (available for premium)
  • Create and share routes publicly or just among friends
  • Track stats such as time, pace, splits, distance, elevation and receive custom cues for any or all of these
  • Save runs to logbook to track training
  • Interval training (iOS on premium account only)
  • Live tracking (iOS on premium account only) – this is a great safety feature if you run alone and want a friend or spouse to know your current location. *With live tracking activated, the app used less than half my phone battery during an 18 mile run. Impressive imo.

Why should you use RunGo?

  • Traveling for work or vacation and want to find running routes or groups in an unfamiliar location
  • Just moved? Find routes in your new neighborhood – I did!
  • RunGo is designed with accessibility in mind for those runners with visual or hearing impairments. Learn more here!

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Should you pay for premium?

  • It’s only $10 for the year, why not support further app development and updates?
  • Premium features include live tracking, verified routes, and more. See the whole list here.

Still not convinced? Here’s what other BibRave Pros have to say:

Lindsey | Jeannine | Matt M | Brenda |

Find out more by connecting with RunGo on social media:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Posted in Product Reviews, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The most wonderfully awful day – The Yeti 100

The backstory:

I don’t know when or where I decided I had any business running 100 miles, but Yetis and unicorns were definitely involved. When I ran my first 50k in August of 2014, it happened to be the Yeti Snakebite. I’ve counted myself a Yeti since then even though I’m not sure I’m quite cool enough. Yeti races are incredibly inclusive, fun, laid back (but still very well organized), and empowering; the community of people that show up for races make it seem like you can accomplish anything. When race director and lead Yeti, Jason Green, started the Yeti 100 a couple years ago, I knew that would be my first buckle one day. On Thanksgiving 2016 I registered and the training began.

Training Summary:

There seems to be at least 100 ways to train for 100 miles so at the beginning of the year I knew I’d have to set achievable goals to keep me moving, prevent burnout and injury, and provide mental training. Running at least a marathon a month felt like a good plan and a fun challenge (obviously my idea of fun is different from most but I tend to keep like-minded company). In that vain, since January I completed: 1 100k, 3 50ks, 3 marathons, a 50k training run on the course, and a marathon distance training run on the course. I was hoping to fit a 50 miler in there so that I would finish the Yeti Challenge (50k, 50 mile, 100k, 100 mile in one calendar year) at the finish of Yeti 100 but it just never happened (I will be running a timed race at the end of October to knock that one out). Other than that, I kept to the training distances as a Run Lead with the Atlanta Track Club marathon training program. I showed up at the start of Yeti feeling like I had enough training on my feet. Some people will put in 100+ mile weeks but I knew I’d get hurt/burnt out. I stuck with more cross training and I think it paid off for me. There’s a different plan for everyone out there, but stick with quality miles and what keeps you happy and healthy, and I truly believe it will get you to the buckle.

Race Weekend:

Myself, Adam (husband and crew chief), and Miranda (crew and pacer) drove up to Damascus, VA area early Thursday morning. We arrived at our AirBnB 1/2 mile from the Abingdon terminus of the trail after lunch. Fellow badass running chic Bethany arrived from her new home in Nashville a couple hours later (she finished the 50 miler – her first!) and we all drove to Damascus for early dinner and race check-in that evening. I was reminded at check-in why I chose the Yeti 100 as my “buckle up” event; the people. There were so many friendly faces as participants, crew, and volunteers that I knew I’d be surrounded by amazing people for the entire race. After getting excited with a few people, and listening to Jason’s very short and sweet race meeting, we headed home. Before heading to bed I spent some time going over my race “plan” spreadsheet (more like guidelines) and my crew box. My crew box contained: towel, fleece lined poncho, camp chairs, snack baggies, extra Infinit nutrition, extra Base Amino, snacks (single serve cups of pringles, fig bars, almond butter packets, etc), and a tackle box with a hodgepodge of first aid, salts, anti-chafing remedies, extra lights, duct tape, KT tape, etc. I filled all my bottles (2 for the first 17, 2 Adam would pass to me in Damascus), and a hydration bladder would Infinit to switch after mile 50.

Race Morning:

Woke up at 4:30am after a full night sleep (woot!). Ate breakfast (instant oatmeal) and coffee, did some business, got dressed, did some more business for good measure, gave Adam some more last minute instructions about what was in my crew box, and then we were off towards White Top at 5:30. We arrived at 6:15 and I used the time to eat some more calories and use the bathroom one more time. A 7am we were off for a hell of a long day!

White Top to Damascus – 18 miles downhill

I started with a small group who also planned to use the same intervals, 3 minutes running: 2 minutes walk. The downhill segment to Damascus is easy and very runnable. It’s easy to blow yourself out in the early miles of the race if you’re not careful. The interval strategy is a great way to maintain an easy pace and keep your legs fresh. The 2 minutes walk also allows for plenty of time to fuel and hydrate. It got quite hot later in the day with the sun beating down; the intervals allowed me to maintain great hydration and fueling. This is really key in a long race since once you get depleted it’s very difficult to impossible to recover. My faster run cadence took me away from our little group pretty early on. I wanted to hang with all the awesome ladies but I also knew I just had to run my own race, so off I went. I made it to Damascus around 10:45, approximately 15 minutes ahead of schedule. I grabbed a few snacks from my drop bag and shed my jacket, then met Adam at the car where he had a turkey wrap and new water bottles with Base Amino waiting for me.

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Arriving in Damascus for the first time

Damascus to Alvaredo – 18 to 25

This segment went a little slower. The sun was starting to heat up and my stomach was already giving me some issues that forced me to stop once. Luckily I was still maintaining the 3:2 intervals and on pace. I arrived in Alvaredo on schedule, feeling pretty good, chugged a mini can of ginger ale, ate snacks, and was on my way.

Alvaredo to Abingdon – 25 to 33 ish

Unfortunately, about 5 minutes after leaving Alvaredo aid station stomach issues hit me full force and I had to make use of the woods in a bad way. This section of trail was also the hottest, most exposed section. Between stopping several times for bathroom issues and getting sun baked, this section slowed me down a lot. I stumbled into Watauga trestle area feeling particularly miserable. Adam and Miranda happened to be stopped there with several other crews and I detailed my current woes. Miranda found some Imodium from another crew, I chugged another ginger ale, used the bathroom (hopefully for the last time), and was on my way for the last 4 miles of the first trail segment. The Imodium worked wonders and I felt better pretty quickly. All said and done, I arrived at the turn around 30 minutes after my planned time, but race director Jason was there to assure me I was right on schedule. Have I mentioned that people really make a huge difference at these things?

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One of 47 trestle bridges on the 33 mile Creeper Trail, shortly after Alvaredo Station

Abingdon to Alvaredo – 33ish to 42

After a fruit popsicle from Adam and Miranda, I grabbed another one to-go and was on my way. Feeling much better now I made much better time back to Alvaredo, getting there within 20 minutes of my goal time. By this point we had made it through most of the heat of the day and I was actually looking forward to some pleasant nighttime temps. Even though I was still feeling strong it was already getting pretty hard to eat a lot of solid food. I ate pringles at the stop since they were the easiest thing to get down (they melt in your mouth and are nice and salty) and kept moving, excited to make it back to Damascus and have Miranda join me back up the mountain.

Alvaredo to Damascus – 42 to 50

Somewhere in this section the wheels came off pretty bad. My stomach was starting to bother my again, and I could hardly swallow food. At one point I took a small bite of fig bar, choked on it, and proceeded to throw up. I tried walking it off and felt really on edge, very close to tears. A spectator dressed as a t-rex, giving hugs, made me smile for the first time in a while and I instantly felt better. However, due to lack of nutrition, I was feeling wuzzy and not very strong to run. I power walked the last 5k to Damascus aid station while listening to the Hamilton soundtrack. My goal had been to arrive at mile 50 in under 12 hours. Unfortunately, my temporary crisis had me arriving at the aid station around 12 hours and 30 minutes. Luckily this was still very much on track for a finish.

I arrived at Damascus to find Adam and Miranda waiting for me and promptly sat down and cried (the first time of the day but certainly not the last). I explained my current woes. One of the many amazing aid station volunteers and the volunteer coordinator, Samantha was already grabbing me whatever I needed from the aid station. I had some hot broth, started on some pringles, and then Miranda escorted me, once again, to the bathroom. I took a 3rd Imodium (you’re allowed 4 in 24hrs), switched to my hydration pack (from the bottle vest), grabbed a jacket and poles from my drop bag, and finally regrouped enough to join Miranda for a lovely hike back up the mountain to White Top. This stop may have been 20-30 minutes, I don’t know. It was definitely my longest for the whole race but very necessary. I never thought about stopping but was momentarily concerned that my nutritional woes would prevent me from finishing. Once my body regrouped my heart and brain felt much better and I knew a speed hike up the mountain would be do-able, especially now that I had support. Around 8pm we were off into the night.

Damascus to White Top – 50 to 68

Miranda and I were chatty most of the way to the aid station at Taylors Valley (mile 57). She was a great pacer (as expected), reminding me to drink and handing me a pringle every few minutes. I managed to nibble my way through a individual pack of pringles, some jerkey, and a rice krispy treat for the full 18 mile stretch. In addition, I had switched to Infinit Nutrition in my hydration bladder and consumed the 2 liters by time we reached White Top (approximately 600 calories). Switching to drinkable nutrition in the second half of the race was a key strategy. It still tasted good and forced at least some calories into my system when eating solid foods was very slow going. After a quick stop at the Taylors Valley aid station, we had an 11 mile stretch to the top. Miranda still poked at me regularly to eat and drink but our conversation and pace dropped off. We actually switched to 2:2 intervals for about 3 miles to make up some time. I told Miranda I wanted to give myself buffer for the final miles and she expressed concern over our current pace. With this bug in my ear I decided on some intervals to at least mentally push myself along. However, when my stomach started bothering me again, Miranda decided we should go back to hiking to finish off the section so that I would arrive at the top with some mental fuel still in my tank, and we’d have time to regroup once we arrived. This was a good plan; White Top felt like it would never arrive, even as more and more runners passed us on their way down. I was definitely cursing the deities I don’t believe in and more tears arrived. Miranda was a great soldier and pushed me on in a firm but kind way, and eventually we made it to the top. I was grumpy with Adam (as one does after 68 miles), walked right past him and the car and headed for the aid station where I promptly sat down and pouted about their lack of soup. Once again, there were several friendly and familiar faces who helped get me whatever they did have that was appetizing to me at the time (a LaCroix left behind by another crew).

White Top back to Damascus – 68 to 86

Adam found a cup of ramen in my crew box and had a volunteer boil some water while Miranda massaged out my legs a bit (painful but necessary…honestly, I think I was a bit numb to it anyway). They refilled my hydration vest with Inifinit and set me off with warm ramen. Miranda pointed out that I had 7 hours to make the cutoff in Damascus 18 miles downhill (plenty of time) but tasked me with making it in 6. I set off a few feet down the trail, realized my hands were cold and put on some gloves, sucked the broth from my ramen and then ditched the rest. After that, poles in hand, I set off alone and powered through 2:2 intervals. I had been nervous about this part of the race; middle of the night, dark woods, alone, tired, etc. I’m not a huge fan of being alone in the dark and I usually don’t do well on little sleep. However, I never really felt sleepy (maybe due to the constant intake of caffeine in the Infinit mix), and the tunnel vision created by my headlamp (which lasted the entire night with no battery change necessary – great job Petzl!) kept me focused on just the few feet of trail directly in front of my face. I never fell the whole race, although I busted both my big toes badly, and I was able to keep up the intervals the whole way down. Miranda had tasked me to make it to Damascus in 6 hours; I did it by myself in 5. Anything is possible.

Damascus to Alvaredo – 86 to 92 ish

I was surprised to find Adam and Bethany (who finished her first 50 on Friday night!) at Damascus. I had given Adam permission to go sleep and didn’t expect to see him until I picked up my final pacer in Alvaredo. It was great to see him and I was already feeling uplifted and ready for the sunrise with his presence. He filled my bladder again while Samantha (who had only slept 2 hours herself while rangling volunteers for the whole race) found  me another runner in the aid station who was about to head out. She sent me out with Eric and a couple other runner (zombie shufflers at this point) towards Alvaredo. It was great that late in the race to have comrades around.  Eric and I maintained a 2:2 shuffle/walk for a while until I had to stop to pee; after that I never caught him but I could always see him in the distance, a nice marker to keep myself moving forward. As I got closer to Alvaredo, where I knew I would find my crew and final pacer, Tina, I realized that my shuffle/run was hardly worth it anymore. I kept pushing towards the aid station but already knew I’d be walking the last 8 since my walk pace was just as fast, if not faster, than my current ability to run.

Alvaredo to the FINISH!

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My Fun Size, Hamilton-singing sherpa. 

The sun rose, a new day and energy was upon us, and I soon arrived at Alvaredo to an excited crew: Adam, Bethany, and now Tina and David. Tina, of course, was wrapped in her ceremonial NYC Marathon fleece-lined poncho. As my fun size wonder twin, I couldn’t be happier to have her join me for the final miles of my first 100 miler. At this point, even though I was walking, I knew I’d be able to make the 30 hour cutoff (I only need to move 2 miles per hour to make it). Tina’s job was to keep my upright with a steady stream of snacks, hydration reminders, and Hamilton singing. She performed her duties with gusto. At my current turtle pace, the last 8 miles took us through the entire 2hr45 minutes Hamilton soundtrack (although Tina was kind enough to switch to the mixtape when we got to the sad bits…spoiler alert: he gets shot). I had my last meltdown of the race as we crossed the 5k to go mark; realizing that at my current pace it would take us an hour to go 3 miles, I bent over on my hiking poles and cried about how I just wanted to be done. The end was so physically close in the grand scheme of things but still felt impossibly far. Tina kept her great positive attitude and we laughed a bit about how ridiculous the whole endeavor had been. As it was already late morning, many trail users started passing us. Tina made the point to tell every person that I had already gone 97, 98, 99 miles…I’m pretty sure we scared some children. Finally, just before noon (the 29 hr mark), I rounded the corner and could finally see the finish. At this point I let myself cry happy tears as an amazing crowd of people cheered me in. After several years waiting for this moment, race director Jason Green handed me my buckle in the midst of an awesome bear hug. I said “thank you” and “I hate you” in the same sentence. That pretty much sums up what it’s like to run 100 miles anyway.

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Take home points:

  • Several people wondered whether this or Ironman is more difficult. No contest, 100 miles on foot and being awake for 36 hours is much more mentally and physically challenging.
  • Would I do it again? At the time when someone asked me the answer was “fuck no”. Naturally, these are famous last words. About 36 hours after the finish when my body started feeling normal again it was pretty clear to me that I would definitely do it again. I’d love to get healthier and stronger and try for a sub-24 hr finish at some point. However, with school and work I’m gonna focus on volunteering and crewing for others in the short term, while working on my overall fitness. Much like Ironman, I’ll be back at it in a couple years.
  • I signed up because of the people; I finished for myself. You have to really want it. It’s essentially a completely selfish endeavor. You have to want it so much that your heart can takeover your brain and force you to keep moving forward.
  • The people who surround yourself with really fucking matter. I would not have had the mental capacity to push forward had it not been for my amazing husband (my best friend in all things), some amazingly patient crew members (Miranda, Tina, David, Bethany), and the constant stream of friendly and familiar faces on the whole trail and at all the aid stations.
  • Relentless.Forward.Progress.
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BIBRAVE Review: SKINS A400 Compression Tights

Disclaimer: I received the SKINS A400 Compression to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

So much compression, so little time. In the world of compression athletic clothes, there’s an abundance of choice. I’ve worn a couple different brands for both training and recovery with success but always have at least one issue or another: tearing in the inseam, chafing at the seams, feels like putting on a wetsuit, etc. I love the idea of compression but haven’t fallen in love with any particular brand at this point. For this reason, I was glad to have the opportunity to try the SKINS A400 skyscraper 3/4 tight, a brand completely new to me.

As a scientist I was impressed by the repertoire of journal publications SKINS has produced to create and improve their product. Their general findings for the benefits of compression include (from website):

  • increases venous return
  • reduces exercise induced muscle damage (EIMD)
  • accelerates recovery processes
  • removes lactic acid faster
  • increases strength and power
  • improves endurance
  • increases muscle oxygenation
  • improves body temperature control
  • reduces in-flight ankle oedema

And check out the full research summary!

The A400 series is SKINS most advanced compression technology:

“SKINS A400 compression technology is designed to help athletes redefine their best, time after time. Developed for women on the move, and using dynamic gradient compression, this range is SKINS’ most technologically advanced yet. A400s boost your natural performance by delivering more oxygen and reducing lactic acid in your muscles, so you can up your own intensity without worrying too much about the next-day muscle strain.”

With all that in mind, it was very timely to receive these a month from my first 100 miler! I had the opportunity to wear them on short midweek runs and around the house for recovery. Unfortunately, either I sized up too much or the high waist was too much on my 4’11” frame, but I found these were too big for anything longer than a short midweek run. I constantly had to pull them up and adjust the crotch (which would sag) in order to avoid chafing. I’m guessing going down one size (even though I followed their size chart) would make a difference and I will probably invest in a second pair using the BIBRAVE discount code ‘BIBRAVE20’ (20% off!).

Besides the poor fit (for me), these are the most comfortable compression pants I’ve worn. The material is so soft and light it feels like second skin, rather than the constricted wetsuit feeling of other brands. I can also assure you, despite the thin, light material, they are NOT see through. Take note ladies. 😀

Since these have been less than ideal for runs, due to the size only, I have started wearing them more around the house and in between workouts for recovery. I also wore them for improved blood flow on the 6 hour drive to Virginia the day before the Yeti 100. I normally get out of the car feeling stiff but felt much better this time around. Naturally, I wore them for the drive home as well; even better for recovery.

My one final critique is that the women’s 3/4 tights do not include any key pocket. Considering the high waistband, a small key pocket in the band should not impede the compression technology and I think would round out the product from an A- to an A+. Take not brands, ladies like pockets!

Want to test out the great SKINS compression technology yourself? Use the code “BIBRAVE20” for 20% off your order through the end of October! (exception: only available on full price items)

Check out what other BibRave Pros say:

Lindsey | Haley | Connie | Cassie Lee | Emily | Aubrene | Mark | Jennifer | Nicole |

Gina | Michael | John | Casey | Mai | Amy | Fallon | Matthew | Lisa |

And don’t forget to join BibRave and SKINS on Twitter #Bibchat, Tuesday, October 10 9pm EST for your chance to win one of two SKINS giveaways!

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