High viz, low temps

If you’re a runner that lives somewhere in which actual seasons exist, you’re probably experiencing some chilly temps right now.  Thanks, Arctic Blast!   It’s really not that bad though.  It’s more the wind, for me at least.  I feel like I can run faster in the cold and nothing makes me feel more alive than a run in freezing temps.

Of course, with the change in seasons, we’ve also had the time change!  It’s dark early and many runners are still out there, trying to log those miles after work.  Getting your run in is important!  So is staying alive.  I own almost NO high visibility gear or lights.  What I do have is a tiny flashlight and a light band that straps to my arm.  A good start, but not enough.

My favorite local running store, Ultramax, is amazing.  They’re constantly putting on runs to demo new footwear, apparel and equipment from fabulous sales reps from vendors like Mizuno, Brooks, Nathan and Saucony.  Springfield store manager Eric is always coming up with fun ways to demo this awesome stuff.  Last time was a Hot Totty run to demo Mizuno Breath Thermo and Wave Rider 18s.  Duh. Of course I went.  This time was a pub run with high visibility gear.  Perfect timing!  I need to make sure I’m out logging my miles this winter for marathon training and I’m also not trying to get hit by a car.  I love trying stuff out before I buy, so off I went last night for the pub run.

Have you ever given much thought to how drivers see you?  I know I try to stay aware of my surroundings when I’m running, especially in low light, but I haven’t given a ton of thought to what I look like from the road.  Nathan is running a campaign called Get Lit and the pub run was part of that.  Check out this picture they showed us last night.  It really puts int perspective what you look like from a car.

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I have a bunch of Nathan hydration products but no visibility gear.  What Terry had to show us was fantastic!  We got to check out the Zephyr Hand Torch, strobe lights, LightBender and LightSpur, as well as reflective vests.  I’ve had my eye on the Zephyr Hand Torch for a bit and was really excited to see it in action.  It’s rechargeable, bright, straps to your hand, has a reflector on the back, multiple settings AND it’s designed to point down at the ground.  That’s a big hangup I’ve had in the past with regular flashlights.  I need to see the cracks in the pavement I don’t want to trip on, not aimlessly shine light into nothingness.

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I can’t wait to get one of these!

I personally ran in a Brooks reflective vest and leg bands.  I’ve always thought the leg bands were weird but I didn’t notice them at all.  In fact, I almost forgot to give them back!  We went for a short run around downtown and am happy to report we were bright and nobody got hit by a car!  High viz success!

The Saucony Sonic Reflex jacket was the craziest though.  I had to borrow this picture from Competitor because I didn’t take one last night but it’s so cool to see if you haven’t already.

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Ain’t nobody gonna miss you on the road when  you’re wearing that!  And Terry from Saucony was cool enough to give one away.  I didn’t win it, but I’m thinking about stalking the winner and stealing it from him.

What high viz gear do you own?  Do you attend demo runs to test out new products?

Stay bright out there!

The Mental Struggle

Last month, I registered for my first full marathon.  I’ll be running the 2015 SLO Marathon in San Luis Obispo, CA, my home town.  I can’t express how excited I am for this race and to finally get to run where my family has an opportunity to watch and cheer me on.

That said, I’ve started to become absolutely terrified.  Terrified of the course.  I know it well.  There are long stretches where it’s straight.  There are long, steep hills, most notably the one you hit at mile 3.  At mile 20, you’re still out in winery country, nowhere near the downtown finish. And to top it off, I won’t know a single person racing the marathon.

That’s the scariest part.

Up until now,  I’ve been able to count on seeing someone I know in a race.  If I struggle or hit the mental dark place, there’s going to be someone to pull me out of it.  I feel like in a marathon, it’s just a given that’s going to happen.  It won’t be the same to have people supporting me on the course.  They won’t be able to run me in the last six miles.  That makes me incredibly nervous.  Not the training, not the distance.  The fact that if I struggle, I’m alone.

I’m so ready for this.  I’m excited to kick off training and start logging those high miles and just experience it all.  But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t considering moving up my first full to a race where I will know people out on the course.  I’m not sure the course would be any easier (Little Rock, for those who know that course) but I at least would have someone there to drag me if I needed it.

A New PR!

Since I started trail running, I became pretty laxed on including actual speed work in my training plan.  Normally I include one day per week where I focus on my tempo and run faster.  During my Dogwood training, I ran a 15K road race and smashed my previous PR by something like 10 minutes.  Granted, I had only ever done one 15K before, but that’s pretty significant.  The weekend after Dogwood, I dominated a 5K and an 8K (double day, crazy, I know) and ran my first sub-28 minute 5K and smoked a hilly 8K course in the heat.  3 new PRs made me start to think: can I PR the Bass Pro half marathon?

My road runs were getting faster and more comfortable.  I started to really think I could do it.  But it was one of those things that I didn’t want to announce.  It seems like any time I announce wanting to PR a race, something happens and I crash and burn.  I told a close friend about wanting to try for sub 2:15, which would best my time by 3 or so minutes.  She was confident in me.  But I figured I would wait until race day get my head in the game.

Race day came.  It was cold.  Sleeting just a bit.  Wind.  But I felt amazing.  I felt confident.  My first few miles felt fast and I

was passing people.  I felt so strong.  I refused to look at my watch.  I didn’t want to know how fast I was running.  I started catching people that I knew started out with the 2:00 pace group.  I still refused to look at my watch.  I had no idea until I rounded the corner and came up on the finish line.  The clock read 2:09:30.  I knew I had to haul mail if I wanted to cross at 2:10 and hope for a sub 2:10 official.

I did.  2:09:28.  A 9 minute PR from last year.  Crushed.  It’s amazing what you can do with a little confidence.  I’m still riding so high from this amazing race.

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Get wet. Get dirty. Run Dogwood.

Yesterday was THE day.  The day I had been waiting for.  The day I had been training for.  The day I sacrificed blood and sweat for.  The day I spent the last 12 Saturday mornings on the trails for.  It was Dogwood.  And it was amazing.

I haven’t been this jacked for a race in a long time.  Part of it was the fact that it was a new challenge: 25K and a trail race.  Part of it was this amazing running family I’ve discovered.  I felt so ready.  I was ready.  Even now, feeling how my body responded after the race, I KNOW I was ready.  I’m not sure I could have trained any harder.  I was prepared.  And I am so thankful for that because this race is NOT the kind you want to jump into unprepared.  Think I’m exaggerating?  Here’s an elevation snapshot:

Dogwood Elevation

The course: beautiful.  Picturesque.  Stunning.  There aren’t enough words to describe how the leaves looked and how well maintained it was.  Perfect.

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I didn’t stop to take many pictures, mostly because I was too busy feeling amazing.  It’s been a while since I felt THAT prepped for a race and that good in general.  Eventually my glutes started to get tired and my shoulders started to tense but after 16.5 miles, I feel like that’s to be expected.

The event directors were amazing.  The volunteers were amazing.  The course aide was amazing.  Everything was top notch.  I can’t wait to do this again.  I may take on the challenge (15K and 25K on back to back days) but I haven’t decided yet.  I do know that I’m going to be there again next year and I’ll be counting the days!

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Two. More. Weeks.

I’m now (less than) two weeks out from my FIRST trail race.  It’s also my longest race ever.  To celebrate, I took a week off from my trail training to participate in my FAVORITE race of the year, the Panther Run.  Three distances to choose from, naturally, I went with the 15K.

It was an EPIC race.  Cool temps meant PR weather!  I fell into a comfortable pace early, running alongside a woman from my running group.  We didn’t speak at all.  I think we were each racing the other the entire time.  Trail running has encouraged me to power down the hills, even on the road now.  So once we started hitting hills, I pulled away, but was never too far ahead. Eventually we ended up right back together and raced it out for the last mile.  At the end, we exchanged a high five.  I hit a PR by 14 minutes.  Maybe it’s not as big of a deal, considering my only previous 15K was over a year and a half ago, but I’m still celebrating besting my time.

As for trail racing…I now have three trail races on my schedule between now and Thanksgiving.  One 15K, one 25K and a half marathon.  I’m super excited.  Although the elevation chart for the 25K is just a little bit intimidating.  I’ll leave you with this:

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Lessons from the trail

3 weeks.  That’s how far out I am from Dogwood.  I’ve been struggling mentally, wondering how on earth I was going to complete it.  My fuel has been messing with my stomach, my will power is tanking.  But I’ve still gotten out there every weekend so at least there’s that.

Saturday morning when my alarm went off at 4:45am, I wasn’t feeling it.  I had my coffee and my breakfast but just felt “meh”.  I kissed fiance goodbye and he told me he was proud of me.  My drive down to Busiek that’s what I thought about.  That he’s proud of me.

Not proud of my speeds or distance.  Proud of ME.  The work I’m putting in.  ME.  I made a resolve to leave it out there and run MY run.  Not anyone else’s.  MINE.

I felt awesome.  Strong and focused.  I CRUSHED it.  It didn’t and still doesn’t matter that my pace was much faster than my previous 14 mile run (this weekend was 15 miles).  I proved to myself that I have much more in me that I think I do.  Before when I thought I couldn’t go any further, I stopped.  I rested.  And it didn’t do me any favors.  This week I kept moving.  I dug deep and trudged on.

It paid off.

I’ve got so much more in me than I thought I did before that run.  And now I know.  I just have to keep moving.

Ten Toes, Nine Toenails

Guys!  I became a REAL runner today!  I lost my first toenail.  It’s been hanging on by a thread now for a couple of days and I just didn’t have the mental fortitude to rip it off.  But it started snagging on my socks and I tell you what, wearing Vibrams with a half ripped off nail just isn’t fun.  So I made it happen.

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What do you do with your first ripped off toenail?  I have thought about giving it a name and keeping it in a box.  Bronzing it and putting it on a necklace.  I’m actually really excited about this.  I’m sure people think I’m insane and incredibly weird but I trained hard and earned this!

It feels weird.  It’s bleeding a little where I had to give it a little extra “umph” to encourage it coming off.  Guess I should take care of that…

Were you this excited when you lost your first nail?  Am I really that weird?

I don’t know about you, but I’m feelin’ 27

Friday marked my last day in my “mid-twenties.”  I officially turned 27, which I consider “late twenties.”  I have officially hit the point where a birthday is just another day.  There’s nothing special that my age brings me (ability to buy porn or tobacco products, booze or rent a car).  

 

26 was an exciting year.  I made great strides in my health and fitness, completing 4 half marathons, 3 within 22 days, and developed some killer biceps.  I graduated (FINALLY!) from Missouri State University.  I got engaged!  All big things.  

 

27 promises to be even better.  I’m in the middle of wedding planning (it totally sucks, if you’re wondering).  I’ve started a new job where I actually put my education to use.  It’s hard and it’s going to be a lot of hard work but I’m so thankful to have a supportive fiance and family there for me while I’m building my client base and getting better at what I do.  

 

I’ve decided to make 27 the year I run my first marathon!  I’ve written my training schedule out in my planner, picked out a half marathon race for said training schedule (coming for you, Little Rock Half Marathon!).  All that’s left to do is actually register for the marathon.  It’ll be happening soon.  My training plan starts the last week of the year.  How unfair is that?  

 

I’m excited at the prospect of training for a new distance.  I think it will help keep me focused and grounded during the craziness of wedding planning.  It will also force me to stay concentrated on my diet and exercise.  Nobody wants to go into a marathon an undertrained mess.  I’m also just ready for it.  Ready to say I’m training for it.  Ready to say I did it.  Ready to see where my body takes me.  

 

Did I mention I’m having my mom and maid of honor plan my bridal shower around my marathon weekend?  I’m sure you’re not surprised.

 

Do you set goals for yourself when you have a birthday?  Do you just let the year take you where it will?

New Facebook Page!

Do you Facebook?  If so, please take a minute to join me on my new page.  I’ll be talking fitness and running as well as linking blog posts from there!  Check it out here and give me a like.  

To new beginnings

There is so much exciting stuff happening around here lately!

First of all, happy start to Packers season!! What a great day 🙂 To celebrate, here’s a picture of me from my first ever Packers game in 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium. They lost. Their only loss of the season. I wasn’t good luck.

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Secondly, I completed my FIRST double digit mile trail run last weekend! I also signed up for another trail race last week. You’re probably saying “wow, Sara, calm down, you haven’t even completed your first trail race yet.” No. But I’ve got the bug. Like love, you know when you know! My second trail race will be a half marathon at Two Rivers Bike Park in Highlandville, MO on November 22. If you’re a local, I highly recommend checking out this race which is in its second year. Gorgeous course, great swag and support.

In real life news, I am embarking on a new career path! Next week will mark the end of my time with the childcare program I’ve been with for the last 2.5 years. I’m so excited to begin a new journey as a personal trainer and will also be running a kids fitness class! I’m very passionate about children’s fitness and it’s been a long time dream of mine to be involved in something like this.

Be on the lookout for more fitness related posts on the blog, as well as an upcoming Facebook page that I’ll invite you all to join me on

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