BibRave Review: NOW Get Fit with NOW Sports BCAA Big 6

“Disclaimer: I received an NOW Sports BCAA Big 6 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!”

Besides protein powders from time to time, electrolyte supplements, and prescribed iron supplements for anemia, I’ve never been one for supplements. In fact, most vitamins required for good health are readily available in a well-balanced diet. However, as an endurance athlete who treats my body with reckless abandon quite often, I’ve wondered whether there were worthwhile supplements for my level of activity. It turns out, branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) are important for muscle recovery, especially before/after high impact workouts and they are not produced naturally by the body. As such, I was glad to try NOW Sports BCAA Big 6 as part of my current nutrition and workout routine.

From the NOW Foods website:

“BCAA Big 6 is an advanced caffeine-free sports supplement formulated to support exercise endurance and recovery from intense workouts.* BCAA Big 6 features branched-chained amino acids (BCAAs) to support muscle retention and recovery, and betaine to help maintain fluid balance during exercise.* BCAA Big 6 also has taurine, which can further support endurance.* BCAA Big 6 includes L-citrulline and L-glutamine to complement this formula.”

While diet and nutrition science peer reviewed research is a bit inconsistent in many areas, I did find from several sources, including the Journal of Nutrition, that BCAA leucine is an important macronutrient that aids in several metabolic processes (Layman, 2003). Dr. Stacy Sims, an exercise physiologist and nutrition scientist, who specializes in research on sex differences in endurance sports and nutrition (and a recent guest on the BibRave Podcast), recommends BCAAs before and after hard workouts, especially during the training period just before menstruation.

As a BibRave Pro I’ve had the opportunity to try both the watermelon and grape flavors. Both are tasty, although the watermelon was a bit strong tasting to get used to at first. I found that both flavors mix best with ice and cold water (the ice helps mix the powder completely so you don’t end up with a chalky taste, although a shaker bottle would do just as well). I also tried it once in my soda stream water. This caused a bit of a science experiment volcano but was really yummy after everything settled down. I’ve been trying to drink at least one serving per day, specifically before, during, and/or after hard runs and bike workouts. I’ve noticed drinking it before a long run has been associated with less hunger cravings/stomach issues during the run. Overall, my muscle recovery seems fast but, honestly, I’ve always had pretty fast recovery considering how much I pound my legs.

Other interesting factoids from NOW(R) Sports:

  • They’re third-party certified via Informed-Sport for added product purity assurance. The Informed-Sport program certifies that their products have been tested for more than 200 banned substances by their world-class sports anti-doping lab.
  • They’re one of the few brands of natural sports products that does not use any artificial ingredients, including artificial sweeteners, colors, or flavors.
  • It’s vegan and caffeine free

NOW Sports BCAA Big 6 retails $49.99 for a 600g canister. Want to try BCAA Big 6, too?! You’re in luck! Use code 20NOWBCAA on Amazon.com until Nov 15 for 20% off both varieties.

Follow NOW Foods on social at:

FB/IG: @nowfoodsofficial

Twitter/Pinterest: @nowfoods

Don’t forget to follow NOW Foods and BibRave on Twitter and join us at 9PM EST on Tuesday, October 30 for #Bibchat for your chance to win free product!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are
not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Looking forward to 5K

“Disclaimer: I received free entry to the 2018 DAV 5K Atlanta 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!”

It’s either hilarious or perfectly convenient that the week after my best 22 mile training run ever would have me back to feeling pretty crappy. In any case, it’s all up to the calendar and learning how to adjust my training, nutrition, stress levels, etc. according to the calendar is actually a positive result of some of the crappy health issues this year. Imagine that…it’s important to listen to your body. 😛

Since I had such a surprisingly strong 22 mile training run on Saturday I’m not super concerned about falling short of my training marks this week. It’s taper time anyway and I’m gonna earn it, whether due to feeling like crap or just not feeling it in general. The hard miles are finally done and I’ll be happier showing up to the start line well-rested and, hopefully, feeling healthy. With that said, no matter how bad I feel, getting the endorphins going is still a very important part of my daily routine and a key element towards my mental productivity. Even when I’m feeling less than great, getting in an easy 5k at minimum around Grant Park greatly improves the rest of my day. Every time I run that 5k loop I think, “I should do more 5k races.” The loop around the park is nice and hilly so it’s a great training ground to increase my 5k speed and strength.

With all that in mind, it was really fortuitous to get invited as a BibRave Pro to run the DAV5k Atlanta on November 10. I wouldn’t normally be excited about a 5k but here’s why:

  • It’s in Piedmont Park – easy access for me. I can ride my bike to the race!
  • It’s after marathon season – it’ll be great to run a fun race that doesn’t take half the day
  • The DAV5k is a national series to “run, walk, roll and motorcycle ride that thanks those who served and raises awareness of the issues our ill and injured veterans face every day”. After competing Marine Corps, it’ll be great to continue running in honor of our veterans.

The DAV5k Series will be held:

  • Kemah, Tulsa on November 3
  • Newport News on November 4
  • Atlanta, Boston, Cincinatti on November 10

You too can run to support veterans by using code BIBRAVE4DAV5K for 20% off registration!

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Marine Corps countdown and looking forward to the “Perfect 10” at the Atlanta 10 Miler

3 weeks from today I’m leaving on a jetplane to DC for the Marine Corps Marathon. I think my previous posts have made it clear that this has been a difficult training cycle but overall I’m feeling strong and excited for race day. In general, I’m just ready to go and be done with training lol. Our last long run of 22 miles is tomorrow and it’s still going to be 90 degrees even though it’s October! Atlanta either missed the message that it’s fall or it’s just drunk AF. Either way, I’m ready.to.be.done.

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Running buddies make the suffering a little better

Luckily after tomorrow, the next 2 weeks of training line up nicely with 2 awesome events. First up will be The Race inaugural half marathon presented by the Unity Collective. The Unity Collective is “a collaboration of running community leaders, vendors, and supporters united to host a road race that supports black owned businesses, runs through historically black neighborhoods, makes a positive impact with charity and service, and garners massive national support from the African-American running community.” This is an event that the Atlanta running community has been buzzing about for a long time and it’s being organized by some of the most incredible running organizers in the city. My running blog friend, Elizabeth, is also coming from Portland and staying with us for the weekend to be a pacer for the event, woohoo!

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After another unplanned course PR at the PNC Atlanta 10 Miler in 2017

My last effort before Marine Corps will be the Atlanta Track Club PNC Atlanta 10 Miler! The 10 miler is a tough, hilly course in typical Atlanta fashion, but it’s always a huge crowd pleaser. I’m always surprised each year (after telling myself I’m gonna have fun and go out easy) that I set a course PR. It’s become a bit of an unsustainable trend but I’m always a glutton for punishment. Considering I’ll be in taper mode and will have Marine Corps a week later I should commit myself to easy pace but not guarantees I’ll tame the beast lol. The PNC Atlanta 10 Miler really is the “Perfect 10” so here are my 10 favorites from the race:

  1. Weather: running in October in Atlanta is usually pretty awesome (even if this year is proving challenging)
  2. Discounts: the 10 miler starts and finishes at Atlantic Station, home to tons of awesome shops and restaurants. Many of these vendors have partnered with the race to offer discounts on food and shopping. I’m definitely excited about 10% off post-race ice cream at Kilwin’s!
  3. Cheer Zones: Atlanta Track Club does a great job recruiting local schools and organizations to set up cheer zones along the course. Coupled with the groups manning the aid stations, the course has great support. My favorite cheer zone every year is the Atlanta Roller Girls; they go all out on their costumes for sure!
  4. Cardiac (Down)Hill Challenge: We all know the infamous Cardiac Hill from Peachtree Road Race. The 10 miler course also runs Cardiac Hill but last year they changed it up; it runs DOWNHILL! There’s a king and queen of the downhill challenge with awesome prizes for the top 50 men and top 50 women.
  5. Access: there’s a shuttle from the closest MARTA station (or you can walk the mile) or parking is in abundance in the cavernous underground deck. Free parking race morning as well.
  6. It’s part of the Triple Peach: The Triple Peach is a great challenge that involves running Peachtree Road Race on July 4, the PNC Atlanta 10 Miler in October, and the Atlanta Half on Thanksgiving. Runners who complete the challenge get extra swag included special medal, shirt, and a mini pie at the end of the half marathon.
  7. It’s part of Atlanta Track Club Grand Prix: there’s approximately 10 events per year towards Grand Prix points and possible prizes. There’s also a special prize for people who do all Grand Prix events in a calendar year.
  8. Hills! I know, I know; people love to moan and grown about hills. However, if you live and run in Atlanta, why waste precious resources? The PNC Atlanta 10 Miler course is great preparation for other fall races, including the Atlanta Half on Thanksgiving. So don’t knock it before you try it. You’ll feel awesome when you finish, promise!
  9. Running on Peachtree: the course doesn’t spend a ton of time on the iconic road but any time you get to run in the middle of Atlanta’s most famous road is a treat.
  10. 5k: For your friends and family who want to hang but not interested/ready in the longer/hillier course, there’s always the awesome 5k option.

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Fall Fantasies…or will Atlanta head straight from summer to winter?

Disclaimer: I received Gatorade ® Endurance products 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!

Since my last post, I’ve made it further out of the summer stress factory and almost settled into a new fall semester groove. It’s a slow process but we’re getting there. Luckily I’ve been feeling much better in general (outside of some random flareups of pain that are usually short-lived) and I have an appointment with a specialist next week to plan next steps to get treated before the end of the year (before new deductibles kick in – because planning health episodes around when insurance actually works is SO efficient). Hopefully I can wait until after Marine Corps, around Thanksgiving maybe, to get everything fixed up, you know..because marathon >> uterus. 😉

Along with feeling generally better on the day-to-day, in spite of the continued heat and humidity that just won’t let go, my long runs have actually been pretty strong and productive. I was surprised on the long run last Saturday that I was able to maintain a peppy overall pace, Atlanta heat/hills/humidity be damned. I’ve also consulted my calendar and it looks like I “should” feel pretty good around race day. Taken together, my confidence heading closer to race month is starting to gain a bit of momentum while still maintaining a healthy dose of respect for the distance.

Something that’s been really helpful during training, especially since we haven’t seen the last of the heat and humidity, has been the Gatorade Endurance Formula. I’ve been using it since June when I received some during the first wave of testing as a BibRave Pro. You can read my full review from the first round here, but in overall it’s super tasty (watermelon flavor), very easy on the stomach (a huge improvement for me as compared to previous Gatorade products I’ve encountered), and it’s packed with sodium and potassium (key elements to combat the ATL heat and humidity). My one complaint/suggestion is that it doesn’t include magnesium, which I find helpful towards preventing cramps and dead leg syndrome (since it aids in energy metabolism). If it had magnesium I’d probably count Gatorade Endurance Formula as my favorite sports drink, but I’ve still be using it all summer for Marine Corps training with good results. Hey, Gatorade, make it happen!

For this second round of testing, Gatorade also sent me the Endurance Carb Energy Chews in fruit punch flavor. The chews dissolve really easily in the mouth, even without water, and pack 31g and 120 calories into a package smaller than other chew products I’ve used (something nice when trying to stuff a marathon’s worth of calories into pockets). On long runs I carry the Endurance Formula for between water stops and then use water at each stop with a pack of the chews. This combination helps me manage around 200 calories per hour with no stomach upset or sloshing. Marine Corps Marathon will have Endurance Formula on course so I think this nutrition training plan will factor in well on race day (fingers crossed!). If you’re running Chicago or an Ironman event I highly recommend trying out these products since they’re offered on both courses. You can even buy course pack bundles for the events on the Gatorade website.

With 38 days to go until Marine Corps I’m hoping to maintain the forward momentum of improved fitness and race readiness. Here’s to living a goal-oriented life!

 

 

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Hello darkness, my old friend…a summer of training and challenges

I know, it’s been a minute. I ran an epic marathon PR at Vermont City Marathon on Memorial Day weekend and then before I knew it, September rolled around and summer is over. The last few months have been equally challenging and empowering. I’d like to say that I handled it all like the stoic champ that I am, but in between existential crises I barely managed to hang onto a robotic sense of normalcy. In the words of Robert Frost, “the best way out is always through,” and through I went, mostly by my own choice. So what’s the score?
PhD comprehensive exams: My cohort of 5 was tested on the first two years of full time coursework the week of July 23. After Adam and I went on Bike Ride Across Georgia in the first week of June, I pretty much dedicated full-time study towards the exams. I did allow myself plenty of time to relax, go to social outings, and run (of course), all for the benefit of my mental health, but the full-time focused study was still pretty mentally and physically exhausting. Give me marathon training any day!
In PhD land, in order to be “qualified” as a PhD candidate and move on with your dissertation work, comprehensive exams act as a Do Not Pass Go. The end result possibilities are: pass, pass with conditions, or fail. I was pretty confident I wouldn’t fail considering I’ve done well in all my courses but I was extremely determined to pass outright, with no conditions. In case it’s not already abundantly clear, I’m a very goal-oriented person. Realistically I knew this was unlikely but I always study with the best possible result in mind. The exams were easier in areas I thought would be hard and hard in areas I thought would be easy, but I generally felt well-prepared. I did pass, but with conditions as expected. Where I mentally finally lost it was the fact that the conditions given ended up being more work than the actual exams. Having pushed through exam week with little sleep, collapsed at the end for one day, and then hopped on a plane to Vancouver for a conference, I was pretty much spent. To then be dumped with additional busy work, further delaying what I viewed as forward progress, was both depressing and infuriating. After decompressing for a day in a rage, I then used the “murder rage” energy to get.that.shit.done. My mother made the excellent point at this time that “there aren’t many people with PhDs in the world…if it were easy, more people would do it.” Amen. At the end of the day, the process was very challenging but it was a challenge by choice. Within one week I was finally finished for real and on a plane to NH to drink and sit on a beach at the lake. Jessica Rudd, PhD Candidate….thank you very much.

While engaging in the challenge by choice PhD exams, I was also training for Marine Corps Marathon. After a great performance, for me, at Vermont City, I was hoping for a strong training season to lead into another PR in October. From day one, this proved to be easier said than done. Training in the heat and humidity in Atlanta for a fall marathon is a very frustrating experience. I know what my training times “should” be for my goal race time, but heat and humidity force my times to be at least a minute slower. As a result, it’s hard to gauge whether my goal times are even realistic. I’ve had to convince myself that getting the miles in will be enough and the fall weather will shift my performance. When I visited Vancouver in August, I had the most amazing runs of my life in the spectacular, not humid, weather. I ran an easy pace at least a minute and a half faster than the pace I struggle to maintain during the summer in Atlanta. My attitude definitely improved after that. Also, my last few long runs in Atlanta have greatly improved and I find myself running with people who have been faster than me in the past. Still hanging onto PR land in my heart. Once again, this is all just a challenge by choice. Choose your suffering wisely.

No matter how crazy life gets, always leave time for health and happiness!

While the two main challenges of my summer were taken by choice, they were both greatly complicated by an additional challenge not of my own making; medical issues. STOP READING IF YOU DON’T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT LADY PROBLEMS (although, honestly, get over it; women have to deal with all sorts of shit and are strong as hell so don’t be willingly blind to our badassness). Without being too graphic, after 20+ years of a completely normal routine, my cycle went completely haywire sometime in January. It was very frustrating, sometimes painful, and a bit scary to be honest. Sometime after the amazing Vermont City Marathon performance, everything went even further downhill and I was feeling drained and uncomfortable ALL.THE.TIME. My runs were even more shitty than they should be simply accounting for heat and humidity, and what should have been a normal cycle. I highly recommend listening to the BibRave Podcast episode with Dr. Stacy Sims on optimized training based on gender for more on how this should go. My coach and friend Amy suggested that my iron levels were probably very low. After several appointments it was confirmed that my iron count was at the level of a starving child and I started on iron supplements to counteract some of the effects. Of course, this is just a band-aid to some underlying problem. After many appointments and expensive tests it was determined I have a uterine fibroid invading approximately 30% of the uterine cavity…oh joy. After struggling since January it’s good to finally get an answer but also shitty that I’ll have to have surgery of some kind in the near future. Some next appointments should determine how invasive this surgery will have to be and whether it can wait until after Marine Corps during the lower activity time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. In the grand scheme of things, it could be WAY worse, and I’m already feeling much better due to the supplements and some other remedies. At this point it’s a waiting game and I feel physically and emotionally much better simply due to knowing I’m not going crazy. Marine Corps is still coming and I’m still chasing that PR. My uterus will just have to deal.

Chime in below or on social with how you face challenges by choice or life. I live my life deciding what I’m willing to “suffer” for? What are you willing to suffer for?
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BibRave Review: Summer Survival with Gatorade Endurance Formula

Disclaimer: I received Gatorade ® Endurance products 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!

MIDYEAR APPLICATIONS FOR THE BIBRAVE PRO PROGRAM CLOSE TODAY! FILL OUT THE APPLICATION TODAY TO JOIN OUR AWESOME COMMUNITY OF ADVENTURERS AND ATHLETES!

I’ve definitely noticed a theme among social media and blog posts from fellow southern runners: we skipped spring and jumped right into the Devil Went Down to Georgia kind of heat and humidity training hell. For many U.S. based runners, the biggest races, particularly marathons, tend to be in the fall. This means that us Southerners have to slog through our longest runs in 90+ degree 90%+ humidity days. Locking down effective nutrition and electrolyte balance for these types of conditions can be tough. I sweat a lot and rely on tons of electrolytes. However, many drink mixes are really sugary and tend to shred my stomach after 5 hours ( not a huge issue for marathons but starts becoming a problem for longer ultamarathon efforts for sure). Enter Gatorade ® Endurance Formula.

In the past, I’ve avoided Gatorade products because I envisioned them as too sugary. Also, when I first started running more than 10 years ago, Gatorade I found on various race courses bothered my stomach, so I just stopped trying it. In the past few years I noticed more major events moving to the Gatorade Endurance Formula on course and it definitely piqued my interest, however, I still felt safer sticking to my own nutrition. Luckily, I had the opportunity to give Gatorade Endurance Formula and the associated Energy Gels a fair chance as part of being a BibRave Pro. Specifically, we tested the new watermelon flavor (who doesn’t love watermelon in the summer?!) and new mango flavored gel (yum!) .

The Gatorade Endurance tagline is ‘Formulated for farther’ and is made for longer, more intense workouts. The new formula as 2 times the sodium and 3 times the potassium of standard Gatorade. However, it has a surprisingly refreshing, less sweet taste than regular Gatorade. This makes my stomach much happier! For a 12 ounce serving there are:

  • 90 calories
  • 310mg sodium
  • 140mg potassium
  • 22g carbohydrates

I mix 24 ounces (2 servings) for one hour, plus I’ll take an energy gel every 45 min- 1hour for long workouts. The Endurance Energy Gel has 20g of carbohydrates and 80 calories. At this rate I get about 260 calories per hour energy, which has proved to be a very happy place for my GI comfort and energy levels. The energy gels are thinner, less sticky, and less sugary than other gels so they’re easy to consume on the move. I’m actually able to eat the whole gel in seconds with no water. In addition, I take a serving of Base Electrolyte Salt every mile which creates an awesome salted watermelon effect; my favorite summer flavor!

Gatorade Endurance Formula is offered in lemon-lime, orange, cherry, and new flavor watermelon, and retails for $28.99 per canister. The Endurance Energy Gel is offered in apple pear, blackberry, vanilla, new flavor mango, and retails for $29.99 per 21 pack.  You can grab any or all the endurance awesomeness at Gatorade.com/Endurance or a local running store. Something very cool I noticed on the website: they sell Chicago Marathon and Ironman specific On-Course packs, including the products specifically used on these courses! For all of you slogging through summer training for one of these events, now is the time to practice your race day nutrition!

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Train for race day nutrition now!

Follow Gatorade on social to keep up with all their great products at:

FACEBOOK INSTAGRAM TWITTER YOUTUBE |

Finally, find out what other BibRave Pros have to say about the Gatorade Endurance Formula and Gels:

Lindsey | Karen W | Lissa N | Katy | Alastair | Joe | Kevin | Amy W | Jenn | Vanessa |

Ang | Meredith | Amy P |

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BibRave Race Review: Vermont City Marathon

“Disclaimer: I received free entry to Vermont City 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!”

PRE RACE

After a pit stop in NY to visit my grandma and hang out in NYC for a day (it was Fleet Week!), I was off to Burlington! I landed in Burlington around 12:15 and was quickly met outside by my amazing homestay host, Erika. As a BibRave Pro, the Vermont City Marathon staff was kind enough to offer home stay opportunities. I gladly took them up on the offer as I’m 1) a poor graduate student and 2) love meeting new people. Erika  was kind enough to pick me up at the airport and take me straight to the expo; I was at the expo by 1pm! The Burlington airport is small, really easy to navigate, and within 10 minutes of town.

For a small town race, the expo is really impressive. It’s jam packed with several local vendors, races, a merchandise section, the bib pickup, and a meet and greet area where Meb took photos and autographs! Meb arrived at 2 so it was the perfect amount of time for me to get my bib, walk around and chat with folks, and then get in the front of the line for an awesome pre-race photo op. I also met Meb before the NYC Marathon in 2016 and had a great weekend after the fact, so I count him as my lucky marathon charm now.

Bib pickup was really easy and the volunteer explained everything I would need to know about the bib and pre-race procedures. I should mention now, Vermonters are spectacularly nice and friendly. Build in extra time everywhere you go because you’ll get in conversations with everyone lol. I also spent some time hanging at the Untapped booth to learn more about their product. Untapped is a Vermont company that creates sports gels, drink, and waffles with maple syrup. Most of their products are organic and have 3 ingredients or less, all of which you can pronounce! It’s certainly a nice change from the traditional sports nutrition products out there. Super yummy too, of course! Who wouldn’t want to run a race with maple syrup?! The owner was really nice, wanted feedback about their packaging, and was very knowledgeable. I can’t wait to use more of their products in the future. We got several gels and waffles in the swag bag but I didn’t want to use too much of a new product in a race situation. I did have some of the waffles and maple aid drink on course without any issues though. Very easy on the stomach for sure.

After the expo, Erika took me back to her place to unpack and organize all my gear for the morning. After relaxing for a couple hours, I met BibRave Pro Vanessa downtown near Church street for an awesome, early pre-race dinner at the Gryphon, an American style pub restaurant with awesome burgers. I think burgers are officially me go-to pre-race meal now. It’s so much fun meeting other BibRave Pros; we communicate so often via social media that it becomes a special treat to meet each other face-to-face. I love knowing I have an amazing network of runners all over the world. 😀 After dinner, we walked around town a bit, checked out the start/finish areas, and ran into some race veterans who gave us some tips (walk the hill at mile 15). I was back at the home stay, showered, and in bed by 9pm. I had an amazing, uninterrupted, 7 hours sleep before the race!

RACE DAY!

I thought about getting uber to the race start in the morning but, being a small town, all the Ubers were still sleeping at 5:30 apparently. I quickly messaged Vanessa and she was able to pick me up on her way into town. We were downtown by 6:15 and easily found a parking spot next to the finish area. Street parking is free on Sundays, and there’s plenty of open deck parking as well. Many hotels in town are close enough to walk, and they offered shuttles as well. My homestay was just a little further than I wanted to walk before the race so having a ride was really helpful. Another bonus? It gets light REALLY early in New England; like more than an hour earlier than Atlanta in the same time zone. It was getting light out when I woke up at 5am and was plenty bright by time we arrived at the start at 6:15. This is really nice for waking up and makes the morning feel much easier.

I brought a drop bag so that I would have dry clothes at the finish to lounge around at the after party. I easily dropped my bag at the bandstand in the middle of the start area and then we hit up the port-o-potties; we found a line of them with no lines too! After a quick BibRave Pro pick with Vanessa and Sam, I self-seeded near the 5 hour pace group about 20 minutes before start time. Everything went smoothly and very little morning stress, besides the lack of Ubers.

My goal was to stay with the 5 hour group as long as possible and break away if I felt good after the mile 15 hill. It was nice starting with a group of people and we chatted for the first few miles. All of the  major hills on course are within the first 15 miles but I found the hills mostly rolling and very comfortable. As an Atlanta runner used to hills everywhere, I found the rolling hills on this course to be very fast with just the right amount of change. I started off feeling great and kicked just in front of the 5 hour group as the energy of the amazing crowds in town and the neighborhoods swept me along.

Between miles 4-8 we ran on a highway section called the Beltline. Unlike most highway sections I’ve experienced in other courses, this section, while quiet from less crowds, was very pretty . It was an out-and-back which made for some good cheering of runner in the opposite direction. I even got to high-five Meb as he was making his way back along the course! The continued energy on course had me quickly breaking my rule to stay with the 5 hour group, and I had pulled ahead of them by time we reached the end of the highway stretch. Everything just felt really good and I kept running comfortably by feel. Part of my brain wondered when the wheels would fall off, especially since I hadn’t run more than 10 miles since March…but I plugged on.

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The course does have a lot of turns in order to keep it sequestered as close to the downtown area as possible. This was really nice since we passed through the center of town several times and enjoyed the crowds there. Other sections of the course were in neighborhoods and it was awesome to see how excited everyone in town was for the race. Everyone was out on their lawns having a great time supporting the race. There were bands, people dressed as T-Rex, kids handing out popsicles, shots of maple syrup, cute dogs, and much more for the entire course. I felt like I had a smile on my face the whole time. Another aspect of the race that provides energy throughout is the relay option. There’s 5 relay points along the course so there’s new runners always joining the course. This means there’s no lonely section of the course. While it is weird to have fresh runners pass you in the later miles (when they’ve just joined the race), it’s totally worth it to have constant companions.

At mile 15 is what I consider the only major hill of the course; about a 4 block climb to the highest point on the course. As recommended by race veterans, I walked this part to save my legs. By that point I was already 8 minutes ahead of 5 hour pace so saving my legs with a nice brisk climb seemed like a great idea. It certainly paid off because the course is net downhill from there and I cruised for the remaining 11 miles, walking for a few seconds at each aid station only. I kept waiting for the wheels to fall off but they just never did. The last 4 miles ran on a pedestrian/bike path next to Lake Champlain. It was a bit quieter, but the aid stations at each mile provided a great cheer section. I passed a lot of people in the second half of the course. Vermont City Marathon uses a cool service called RunPix that shows a graphical representation of your race; from this I found out that I passed 237 runners in the second half, and only 3 people passed me. Very cool! At this point in the race I was for sure going to make my sub-5 hour goal, and realized I could even get pretty close to sub 4:50. I pushed through the last aid station (my stomach was a bit sloshy so I knew I was done hydrating anyway), and was ecstatic when I crossed the finish line at 4:48:14! That’s a nearly 20 minute PR! Considering I had a shit training cycle since March, I think there’s something really wrong with me, lol. My previous PR was also in a race I signed up for with 3 days notice. Oops.

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POST RACE

After crossing the finish line (btw, the finish chute was amazing with a ton of people!), I grabbed a medal, heat sheet, chugged a bottle of water and a chocolate milk, and then grabbed some food. They had typical post race snacks of bananas and granola bars, followed by pizza, and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (of course!). I stretched for a bit while waiting for Vanessa and BibRave Pro Sam to finish. I then picked up my drop bag, and Vanessa and I went to the Ben & Jerry’s truck to buy MORE ice cream because, duh. I then changed into dry clothes, grabbed a local craft beer (first one free with your bib), and listened to some live music while watching more runners finish. We then walked 5 minutes back to Vanessa’s car and she dropped me off back at home.

To finish off an already great day, my host Erika was kind enough to invite me and Vanessa to a post-race party at the home of one of the Run Vermont directors. We had a great time meeting more awesome people, learning more about Run Vermont, and eating incredible homemade pizza and paella. I think I have most of the Run Vermont crew committed to visit Atlanta for the 2020 U.S. Marathon Olympic Trials.

Overall, it was an incredible weekend, I wish I could have stayed longer. I loved every minute of it, and even though Vermont City Marathon has officially checked Vermont off my 50 states list, I’d still go back to this race in a heartbeat. I especially want to thank Jess Cover, RunVermont’s director of marketing and communications, and my home stay host Erika, for their incredible hospitality.

For more race specific details please check out my review of Vermont City Marathon on BibRave. You can also read BibRave Pro Vanessa’s review here!

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Thanks Meb! I definitely won my own race!

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BibRave Review: Multisport madness with Coros Pace Watch

Disclaimer: I received COROS™ PACE 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!

The Coros Pace is the first multisport GPS watch for Coros Wearables and they’ve produced a very impressive product. The $299.99 watch comes out of the box with many awesome features that makes it highly competitive with similar gps watches on the market. My first impressions were that the watch was easy to set up and pair with a smartphone, it’s super light and very slim fitting so is comfortable for 24/7 wear, and the display is the clearest, most easily readable sports watch display I’ve ever seen.  Previous to receiving the Coros, I was using a smaller gps watch for daily wear/fitness tracking/shorter workouts, and a second full-feature multisport watch for longer efforts and multisport activities. With the Coros I was able to use the one watch for all activities.

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Since the beginning of May I’ve been using the brand new @corosglobal Pace multisport watch and I can finally talk about it! I wore 24hrs/day straight out of the box, including 6 runs and 3 bike rides, without charging. So far I’m really loving the easy to read watch face, user friendly app, and extensive settings customization. The watch is so new that all of the features aren’t even rolled out yet, but the out of the box features are impressive indeed. I’m really loving the metronome feature; my cadence has vastly improved and think it will really help my efficiency at @runvermont #vermontcitymarathon Can’t wait for more. #bibchat #bibravepro #corosbr #vcmbr #marathontraining

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My favorite Coros features include:

  • built-in optical heart rate monitor (it even works in the pool!)
  • barometer for accurate altitude and grade readings (as opposed to watches that rely only on GPS for this data)
  • metronome for cadence training
  • Beautiful and easy to read display
  • Easy to use app for quick updates/changes to watch settings, and display of data. I really loved seeing improvements to my cadence and the consistency in cadence during the Vermont City Marathon.
  • Incredibly fast data sync (my workouts sync to the app and strava within seconds after finishing)
  • Crazy long battery life. Out of the box the watch lasted more than a week without charging once.

The complete list of features includes:

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The Coros Pace is a brand new product so Coros has been very amenable to feedback from the BibRave Pros and has made constant updates for improvement. In addition, new features are actively being rolled out including ability to connect with other platforms (i.e. trainingpeaks) and ANT+ capability to connect to speed/cadence sensors (this is rolling out any day now, if not already – I just haven’t had the chance to check).

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SO MUCH DATA!

Bottom line? I really love this watch. With the additional capabilities coming online imminently, including ANT+, I suspect this will be my primary watch for the foreseeable future. It’s super comfortable, easy to use, accurate, and provides fun and useful data. The price point is very competitive with multisport watches with similar capabilities, and Coros Pace even has some improved features in comparison, in my opinion.

Want more feedback before taking the Coros Pace Multisport plunge? Check out what other BibRave Pros have to say:

Jenna | Corey |

Don’t forget to join us this Tuesday,  June 5 9PM ET with BibRave and Coros for Twitter #BibChat to chat about all things running/fitness/multisport and learn more about the Pace watch.

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Vermont City Marathon: Ready to Run!

“Disclaimer: I received free entry to Vermont City 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!”

Yes, I’ve been really quiet lately.  I finished spring semester first week in May, had one week to catch up on other work, and then went into a 2 week May-mester course in Data Law and Ethics. A full semester course in 2 weeks forces the blinders on to the rest of your life for sure.  I submitted my final project yesterday a day early so I could fly off on my Vermont City Marathon adventure this morning. I’m now on a 2 day layover in NY visiting my grandmother and maybe playing in the city for a day. I’ve had my first authentic NY chocolate egg creme in a long time so I’m counting this long layover as a resounding success already.

I’m heading to Burlington on Saturday morning and really excited. I’ll be doing a home-stay with a local who’s run the race a few times and has happily offered to pick me up at the airport and take me straight to the expo. Vermont City offers a lot of great housing options around town that make this a super affordable experience. Plus, isn’t it best when you get to visit a town with locals?? I should be at the expo by 1 on Saturday and hoping Meb is one of the first people I run into. We ran into him first a couple years ago in NYC and I had a fantastic race weekend after that, so Meb is now my lucky marathon guy. 🙂

I’m planning to run with the 5 hour pace team (sponsored by SKIRACK) with the goal to PR and go sub-5 hour. Honestly, my training since pacing Publix Marathon in mid-March has been sub-par due to hectic school schedule but I’m still feeling strong going into this race. Weather looks nice and mild and the New England air always feels GREAT compared to running in the south. Overall, I’m just really excited to just follow a pace team and turn off my brain a for once; I’m normally the one in charge of being a slave to the watch.

Speaking of watches, I’ve been testing the awesome, brand spanking new multisport Coros Pace M1 watch the last couple weeks. The cadence metronome feature has helped improve my average cadence by leaps and bounds and I think that will go a long way to running efficiently on Sunday.  I’ll write more about the Coros after the race but I’m really loving the features and it’s gone a long way to keep me motivated and reinvigorate my running and swimming activities over the last few insane work weeks.

As I continue my travels, I’ll post all the updates from Burlington, expo, race day, etc. on Instagram and Twitter. I’m definitely excited to meet fellow BibRave Pros Vanessa and Sam!

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BibRave Product Review: Geared up with the Orange Mud Gear Vest

“Disclaimer: I received the Orange Mud Gear Vest 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!”

In case the above Insta post doesn’t make it abundantly clear, I’m a little obsessed with Orange Mud products. I first discovered Orange Mud several years ago when I purchased their Transition Towel after seeing it on a must-have list in a magazine. Shortly after I borrowed a friend’s VP1 to try, and then tested the hydraquiver single barrel during my first year as a BibRave Pro. Since then I’ve also tested the Endurance Pack, became an Orange Mud Dirt Unit Ambassador, and purchased many other packs and gear to serve a multitude of adventures. Orange Mud has created a community of adventurers through it’s amazing, high quality products, and personal customer service.  In many cases, if you have a question about a product or order you’ll be chatting with the owner, Josh, himself. Those facts alone are enough to keep me buying his products even when I don’t really have enough room in my closet anymore. 🙂

Testing the Gear Vest has been awesome. I honestly think it’s the most versatile and comfortable Orange Mud product I own. The pack holds a 1L bladder or 2L of cargo, which is the perfect size for a mid to long distance run, hike, bike ride, etc. I’ve actually been carrying it on shorter runs with my dog as well because I can carry a folding bowl and extra water for him as the days get hotter. Check out all the great features from the Orange Mud site:

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What are my favorite features of this pack?

  • Low profile and snug fit – I have a narrow chest circumference but with large cup size. What this typically means is that pack straps fit awkwardly around my boobs but the side straps can never cinch enough to secure the pack from riding up or chafing. On the Gear Vest, the two adjustable, sliding harness straps allow for easy fit in front, while the side straps tie everything down nice and tight. This pack sits so comfortably and doesn’t move an inch, even when the bladder is empty.
  • High ride and super light – the pack sits high on the back and rides really light, meaning as the ATL heat and humidity creeps up, I’m still much cooler and comfortable than when wearing a traditional full size hydration pack.  I can’t wait to give this pack a try on those summer long runs and ultras.
  • Pockets, pockets, oh my! – Most Orange Mud packs have great pockets. The pockets on the gear vest are now longer and can carry phone, keys, TONS of snacks, salt, extra clothing, and more. For a relatively small pack it’s a black hole of carry capacity. Did you start your run on a cold morning and now you want to stash your gloves and hat? No problem! Also, whether you stuff the pack full or leave home with just a bit of water, the ride is still the same. No shifting! Gone are the days where a hydration pack starts to flop around later in a race as you empty the bladder and pockets!
  • Most unobtrusive bike pack I’ve ever had – don’t you hate biking with a pack when your helmet hits the pack every time you crane your head? As stated above, the fit of this pack is so great it’s like wearing a second skin. No obstruction whatsoever.

The Orange Mud gear vest is available in 3 colors (black & green, black & orange, white) and retails for $109.95. However, get yours and any other amazing Orange Mud product for 15% off using code BRGV15 at www.orangemud.com. Follow Orange Mud on social to keep up with all their great products at:

FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | YOUTUBE | PINTEREST

The youtube channel is particularly great for learning more about the right product for you and how to find the most comfortable fit.

Find out what other BibRave Pros have to say about the Orange Mud Gear Vest:

Amy W | Stephanie | Lindsey | Rachel | Brenda | Ben | Janelle | Kim | Mark | Melissa |

Finally, don’t forget to join BibRave and OrangeMud on Twitter #BibChat, Tuesday, May 1 9pm EST for your chance to win free OM swag!

 

 

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