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!

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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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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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?

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

Rants and Raves: Run Like A Diva Half Marathon

Remember me?!  Probably not.  It’s been far too long.  But I will say, I’m about a week and a half out from graduation so hopefully that means life is about to calm down and I can blog more!  Yeah right.  It’s probably going to hit a whole new level of crazy.  Oh well.

 

April was a nutty month.  I dealt on and off with being sick and having a low back injury (dead lilfts – like an idiot) that really knocked me off my training course.  My April 19th half marathon was supposed to be my PR race.  Didn’t happen.  Oh, I ran.  But it was miserable.  That’s a blog post for another day.  

 

THIS weekend was the first of two races I’m using to qualify for Half Fanatics!  I felt great going into this.  Much better than I have felt in a while.  Less back pain and less anxiety.  More excited and happy.  

 

Run Like A Diva Half Marathon and 5K Series puts on races around the country.  Their big hook is a blinged out medal (handed to you by hot “firemen”), roses, and feather boas with tiaras handed to you before the finish line.  It’s a (mostly) women’s event and quite large.  I have to say, I’m not THAT girly so I wasn’t sold on it.  But I made a last minute decision that I wanted to qualify for Half Fanatics and have anther half to run with my amazing running buddy before she moves, so I signed up.  

 

Here’s some of my rants and raves from Sunday in Branson:

RAVE: The DJs!  There were five DJs on the course playing music and amping up the atmosphere.  It was GREAT!  They all had energy and looked like they were having a great time.  I also stopped and took pictures with 4 of the 5.  

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RAVE: The crowd!  I guess that probably has nothing to do with the race directors but the crowd was PUMPED!  Event organizers did a fantastic job of having a station at the expo for people to make signs for race day and I saw quite a few of them around the course.  There were several “fans” I saw at different times along the course (BF included!) and they were so vocal and positive!  It made a challenging race so much more fun.  

 

RAVE: The “firemen” handing out the medals.  I don’t think I need to go into detail here…

 

RANT/RAVE: The course/hills.  The course was beautiful.  If you’ve been to Branson, you know what a gorgeous area that is.  You also then know that those hills are NOT. A. JOKE.  They’re huge.  Now, event organizers SHOULD have made that clear, rather than saying “mostly flat” after mile 3/4.  That was a lie.  And anyone from around here knew that it had to be.  I have a bone to pick with you, event organizers.  STOP SAYING SOMETHING IS FLAT!!  Just because the total elevation climb/drop equals out does NOT make a course flat!  The total climb for this course was over 1300 feet.  My legs are reminding me of that fact today.  That said, I had fun on the hills! *GASP* I know.  But I did.  Except this one. 

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And this one…mile 12.5.  What is with races doing this to me?!

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RAVE: The expo!  Are you an expo person?  I am.  I like things.  They had things.  Shirts, jackets, headbands on headbands on headbands.  Bondi Band (LOVE!) was there and had special ones designed for this series with bedazzled crowns (you can sort of see the hot pink one I got in some of the pictures).  Lots of necklaces and stickers and all kinds of things.  Weird: handanas.  Have you seen these?  Bizarre.  I’ll wipe sweat on my shirt or have it wicked off by one of the million headbands I own.  Awesome:  the teenage boys dressed in tutus and tiaras signing people in at the expo.  You were hilarious and if it wouldn’t have been creepy, I’d have taken my picture with you.

 

Last but not least…

RAVE: the 72 year old woman from Arkansas that I had the pleasure of running portions of the race with.  YOU, ma’am, are a badass.  You crushed that race, looked as strong or stronger than anyone out there and were so positive.  I hope I’m running when I’m your age.  Thank you for the hug at the end. 

 

Overall, a great race and a great time!  10/10 would do again.  

 

14 in 2014

By now, I think we’ve covered that I’m somewhat competitive. And by that, I mean extremely competitive. Mostly against myself. That’s why this is so perfect!

Sign ups for the 14 in 2014 challenge are going on right now at Jill Conyers blog. I saw a post from Too Cute Runner on Instagram and knew this would be perfect for me! You can choose a specific distance or a combination and virtual events will be hosted as well.

I can’t wait for 2014 to kick off and know that I’ve challenged myself to 14 events in 2014!

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Bass Pro CoHick 13.1 aaand I’m injured

November 3rd.

In the weeks leading up to my second half marathon, I will completely admit I was concerned. I had begun dealing with shin issues, something new. I can’t say if I ever had shin splints in my whole life. Over the last year, I’d never felt even a twinge of discomfort in my shins. But before our trip to Green Bay in mid-October, the shin pain came on hard and heavy. KT tape, foam rolling, you name it, I was doing it. I knock on KT tape quite a bit. Probably because some people use it like a fashion statement and that irks me to no end. But it REALLY helped me. I’ll never doubt it again.

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The morning of I felt great. Normally I avoid running the day before a race but I did on Saturday. It was a major confidence booster. I felt strong. I felt ready. A 2:20-2:25 time was achievable.

7:00am. We were off. Roughly 5000 runners if memory serves me correctly. I started at 7:02. It was cold, upper 30s. But for me, there is nothing better than running in the chill. Not windy, just chilly. The course had its hills but thank god for my support team that checked in on me every few miles. Boyfriend met up with me all around the course and I was so happy to see him. Except around mile five when he had Starbucks in his hand. Are you insane?! Who does that?!! My running sister Amy was all over the course as well. If I can’t be running with her, having her say weird words of encouragement along the way is enough for me.

Best sign of the race? This:

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If you don’t recognize this, we can’t be friends.

My splits were even. They were faster than I had hoped. I knew my goal would be met. Mile twelve I still felt strong. That’s how I knew I trained well. I was ready to give it everything in the last mile. But around 12.5, my knee decided it had given enough. The pain started dull and got sharper. The same IT band pain I have dealt with in the past. It was awful. I pushed that last .6 HARD. And I finished in 2:18:02 official.

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Since the race, I haven’t been able to run much. Probably because I’m stupid and didn’t give myself more than a day before I was pushing it again. I can’t help it. I am so addicted, even though I know better. My knee needs the rest, I need the rehab and to cut back my mileage. I need more protein in my diet, especially right after a training session. I know I will be back out there before I know it. Big picture. I just have to be smart.

I can’t wait for my next race. To me, that’s the best feeling after finishing: wanting to do it again.

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12 miler Wednesday and the Panther Run

Yeah, it’s been a minute since my last post. I’m gonna just blame the fact that WordPress has been a joke on my iPad and move on.

Last Saturday was supposed to be a 15K race for my half marathon training. I was ridiculously excited to be running in a different area of town and to be running a longer distance in a race that I was actually taking seriously. My last 15K was more for the beer and food afterwards. Enter a HUGE storm and buckets of rain…everyone was shifted to the 5K race. I was bummed. I almost didn’t even run. But I did, and I’m glad I did. I learned a few things.

1. Running in the rain is not horrible
2. Start your finish line push when you first feel it
3. You don’t have to PR every event
4. Some people are superhuman and can run a 16:16 5K in pouring rain where there are rivers in the streets.

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I missed a PR from August by about 10 seconds. I could sit here and be sad about it (ok, I did for a minute). Or I could think that I ran that race hard and under conditions I had never run in before. Sometimes, you need to think about what EXACTLY it is that you’re upset about. Is that really a reason? NO! I ran a great race. In the rain! I stuck it out. Go me!

Of course, I then took my new found acceptance of rain running and enjoyed another 6.8 miles to hit my weekend mileage I needed. I did ok.

Due to traveling this weekend and next, my training schedule is getting a shakeup. It might be Wednesday, but I need to get in 12 miles. I’m excited at nervous, my highest mileage since my May half. I’m ready. Mentally and physically. Lets do this!

Also, props to Women’s Running Series and FitFluential for a WONDERFUL Be Amazing chat last night. I can’t wait to be able to make it to a WRS race.

Happy Wednesday!

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