running

The weather.com app calls for 45 degrees and 70 percent chance of rain. I don’t like it. Let’s look online.

It says 45 degrees with a 35 percent chance of rain. A little better, but what does the newspaper weatherman say?

He’s calling for 46 degrees and 46 percent chance of rain.

Who’s right? At this point, what really matters is that it’s probably going to be raining, but since it won’t be too cold, I’d be willing to head out as long as I dress appropriately (read: wear a hat or visor to keep the rain off my face and a rain-resistant jacket).

Weather checking and fretting. That’s what the night before a run looks like in the fall and winter, leaving me on the fence on whether to suggest to my friends that we meet up for a run. I’m often the instigator, suggesting that we get together for three or four miles at 5 in the morning during the week or at 8 on weekends.

There have been a handful of times when I didn’t check and we all paid dearly. Rain, snow or even sleet. Frankly, I’m surprised any of them agree to run with me between November and March.

Runner friends who freeze together stay together.

Now I never text without checking the weather, sometimes over the course of a couple of hours and after checking several sites.

My extreme-weather tolerance is on the high side, but only when at least one friend agrees to join. That said, I’ve learned some lessons and have set some general rules:

  • Absolutely no running in single digits. Too miserable.
  • Check multiple sources before making a decision. Once in a while, one source is way off.
  • Always provide the forecast when suggesting a run during questionable weather. A few friends won’t run in the rain except for race day; others will want to meet earlier if it’s going to be warm.
  • Dress warm and remove items once I get warm. I am too miserable if I’m remotely cold.
  • Never run if it’s icy. I have heard one too many tales of serious injuries due to slipping on unseen ice, especially on bridges. That’s why man invented treadmills.

In the end, I may be what we jokingly call hardcore, but I also try to be thoughtful so that my friends will keep turning out. Because who wants to run in the rain by herself?

What are your rules when deciding when to run in questionable weather? Who makes the call if you run with others? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

Review: Oofos sandals

by lachicaruns on

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Oofos recovery sandals 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!

When BibRave announced to ambassadors that we could opt in to review the Oofos Project Pink line, the excitement was immediate and infectious.

I had heard of Oofos sandals, but hadn’t yet tried them. I am so very glad I did.

Bonus? The company donates $10 out of the $59.95 price for every Project Pink shoe sold to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for breast cancer research.

The sandals came with information about the cancer research donation.

The OOahh Sport Project Pink sandals came in black, with a tiny pink logo on the outside of both shoes, and the always-present double Os on the top in white.

As for the feel, the shoe is absolutely comfortable, lightweight and can be worn with and without socks. That’s important to this chica because I’m always cold and often wear my SmartWool socks with my slippers at home.

I should note that I haven’t work said slippers since I got the Oofos sandals in the mail, in large part because the sandals are comfortable and because I can wear them outside to let the doggies out.

The company boasts that its sandal “absorbs impact, cradles your arches and allows you to move naturally.” I do like how squishy the shoe feels, especially after a long run, when I can toss my trusty Brooks aside and slip into something more comfortable.

They also don’t smell, despite my obviously stinky feet, and don’t make my feet sweat either. The company says they can be machine washed, something I haven’t yet done.

Good shoe post long run.

I haven’t worn flip-flops in years, mostly because I don’t like the smack-smack sound they make when you walk.

The only downside I have seen with my Oofos sandals is that sometimes, when I wear them without socks, they make a, well, fart sound when I walk. It’s not often enough that it’s stopping me from wearing them, but I also wouldn’t want that to happen when I’m out and about.

Overall, they’re a comfortable shoe that easily fit in my gear bag so that I can bring them with me when we go camping and after races. I can see myself wearing them for many years to come.

What’s your favorite post-long-run shoe? Have you tried Oofos? What did you think?  (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

Amsterdam, that is. Or London, for that matter.

But I’m back from a 10-day work trip that saw me on my feet as much as 10 miles in a day despite taking various modes of transportation, including bus, boat, train and tram. I didn’t get on a bike or skates, but I did get on a jet plane and snuck in a few short runs.

Work and the early morning darkness cramped my running style in both locations, so I had to keep my runs to 5K-ish distance.

Amsterdam was by far my favorite, in large part because of its evident diversity in everything from its people to its food to its buildings. While running or walking around the city, I heard just about every language spoken, including many who clearly had a Spain-Spanish accent. Because I spent a whole week here, I also found it easy to navigate the area immediately around our hotel, so I didn’t get lost (too badly) on my runs.

Oh, Amsterdam, what’s not to love?

I made sure to stick to well-lit areas with people walking or riding their bikes on designated lanes (much unlike most Michigan roads), which meant that I stayed close to our hotel, the Kimpton DeWitt. But because the hotel is so close to the Central Station, there were lots of people around and I felt safe running by myself.

Central Station.

 

So. Much. To. See.

London was special in its own way, with its museum-looking structures as my backdrop, but the sidewalks were noticeably dirtier and I saw a lot more homeless people sleeping in front of stores or on park benches. There was also very little vegetation with a few small trees here and there. I tried to run to — and around — Regent’s Park because it was recommended by a fellow Bib Rave Pro, but Google maps failed me and I never did find it.

My hotel, the Nadler Soho, was near the Soho Square, but the park was way too small to run there. I did get to walk all over town and even got to enjoy a Diwali festival, street artists and Chinatown. A highlight was the beefeater giving us a tour at the Tower of London, which holds the Crown Jewels and showcases torture devices used throughout history.

Safety first at the Tower of London.

 

Look left and look right signs are all over crosswalks in downtown London.

 

The Queen Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace.

I tried to pack as little as possible, making sure that I could wear each item multiple times, including my running gear. I stuck socks and a sports bra inside my running shoes (which took an inordinate amount of space, but were worth having), and brought just two tanks, a Skirt Sports skirt and capris. With temperatures in the low 50s, I was able to run with just my new Bolero reflective jacket. I had to wash all of the items in the hotel sink at least once, but I was glad to have enough gear for multiple outings.

For a trip I knew would entail long hours, I am grateful I got to run as much as I did. Should I ever get such an opportunity again, I’ll be sure to plan ahead better, including looking up routes and, if possible, finding a running group I can join for longer runs.

In fact, had I done that in the first place, I could have run the Amsterdam Marathon since I was already trained for the distance. I’m still kicking myself for not thinking of that before heading to Europe for the first time. Learn from my mistakes, chicos y chicas!

Have you run internationally while on vacation or on a work trip? How do you manage to find the time? How did you choose your route? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

I sit here, in pain, but content. This year’s Run Woodstock 50K was dryer and speedier that last year. Three of us PR’d and we all negative split (ran the second half faster than the first).

Better headlamps meant we started out with a clear course, even at 6 a.m., moving swiftly through the first hour through a hill, then a rails-to-trails path. My three friends and I set a slow, steady pace of four minutes running and one walking.

We’re decked out to start the Run Woodstock 50K.

We moved in the steady, relatively easy rhythm of people who’ve been training together for years. We told stories. Laughed with (and at) each other. And we enjoyed the beauty of our lush green surroundings.

The rain that plagued us last year — and that caused mud so deep and wet that we felt like we were skating more than running — was replaced by sunshine and temperatures in the 40s, later reaching into the 60s.

The course was tough, but not impossible. The hills were even steeper than I remembered, sometimes leaving us breathless and wiped out.

Our friends spent HOURS waiting around to cheer us on after our first loop and celebrate with us when we were done.

Like last year, the aid stations had plenty of yummy food every four miles. We made sure to grab sandwiches, Coke, M&Ms, pretzels, chips, cookies, gummy bears and other treats. Oh, and there was Gatorade, water and Guu.

Because this was our second time on the course, we had a much-better plan, helping our head game and letting us get through each aid station more quickly and efficiently. That said, we were plum tired and I suspect Vicki thought about stabbing me and leaving me on the side of the trail more than once.

Not all of us were smiling with about 7 miles left.

We had to dig deep several times to keep moving forward. We may be smiling in these pictures, but running a 50K is really, really hard. Getting all of the runs on the training plan each week takes hours and hours, and even then, race day comes down to mental toughness and the willingness to keep going when your body is telling you to just quit, sit and rest.

Having good friends with you helps a ton. Knowing that you have a crew waiting for you at the end can make the difference between giving up and continuing to move forward. I can’t stress enough the importance of a good support network for these longer races.

Thankfully, we had all of those things, so we were able to get past the life-sucking hills and tired bones.

And because we all got done so much earlier than last year, we headed back to the my motor home at the nearby Pinckney Recreation Area where we were staying for the weekend, had pizza and drinks by the fire, and reveled in our accomplishment.

Seeing the finish line gave us the boost we needed to finish strong.

Several people have already asked if we plan to run the course again next year. I suspect that we will.

Vicki, me, Corey, Melissa and Shannon all ran the Run Woodstock 50K.

There was some talk about tackling a 50 miler at some point. Much like with childbirth, I suspect we’ll all forget just how tough the 50K really was and that we may start thinking that it’s a really good idea. We’ll see.

What this race did give me was the assurance that there isn’t anyone else I enjoy making bad decisions with as much as these wonderful humans.

It also gave me a big blister. I’ll be the one hobbling around the rest of the week, but with a smile on my face.

Running’s not just pretty medals.

Have you done an ultramarathon? What’s your best advice for someone deciding whether to increase their race distance? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

Review: 5K Crate subscription

by lachicaruns on

Disclaimer: I received running gear to review from 5K Crate 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!

He didn’t resort to a personal protection order, but I definitely stalked our mailman for a few days as I eagerly awaited a box full of running goodies from the 5K Crate subscription service.

All of the items in the 5K Crate I received for this review.

For $59.99 per box, 5K Crate ships you a box each quarter with what they describe as “premium apparel and accessories for runners of all types and fitness levels.” Shipping is free.

Sent out every three months, each box has five to six items from brands such as Mission Athleticwear, Zensah, Epic Wipes, Nike and Knuckle Lights. And the company guarantees the items will have a value of more than $100. You get to pick a woman’s or men’s version.

As for my box, my first impression ranged from ooh and aah to wowza. My 5k Crate included:

  • Mission VaporAcitve Alpha Running Shirt ($35.95). It’s really, really pink. It’s also well made and the medium fit me perfectly. I ran with it and did yoga in it (and even slept in it). No rubbing or weird chaffing. I washed it on a regular cycle in cold water and hung it up to dry. Held up just fine.

    My 5K Crate included this nice, soft, comfortable and very pink shirt.

  • Mission VaporActive Cooling Towel ($19.99). The weather hasn’t been warm enough to try this out yet, but the towel looks well made and the fabric is nice and soft.

    Haven’t tried the cooling towel, but it looks well made.

  • Spigen Wireless Bluetooth Headphones ($45). Probably my favorite item in the box. I’d been looking for a good set of wireless headphones because cables drive me bonkers. These are super easy to use and set up. I had them paired up to my iPhone right away and ready to go. Unfortunately, it took me several tries to get the things to stay in my ears. The best thing I can tell you is to stick them in your ear, then twist them until they stay. Once I figured out how to do all that, they stayed put, even during my run. The sound is good, but I only wore one earbud in my ear so I could hear cars and other sounds. The battery life was longer than I imagined and the headphones gave me two low-battery warnings before they died. Removing the cover to plug in the charging cable was also a bit of a challenge because it’s tiny. But they charged just fine and I’ve continued to happily use them.

    I used these Spigen wireless headphones almost every day during my 5K Crate review period.

  • Zensah No-Show Compression Socks ($19.99). I’m a SmartWool snob, but I have to say that I also loved these. They’re super soft, comfy and washed well (ie, they stayed bright white and there were no loose threads). Because I run at 0-dark-30 a couple of mornings during the week, I also wore these to sleep in. I’m a big enough fan that I will buy another pair (or three!) to run next summer.

    I liked these socks a lot more than I expected.

  • 2 Epic Full-Size Body Wipes ($2.50 each). I haven’t tried these either because I’m saving them for next week’s Run Woodstock 50K. I am throwing them in each of my drop bags as a carrot to have something to look forward to when I’m exhausted and need a pick-me-up.

    Sticking these babies in my drop bag for next week’s 50K.

  • 3 La Fresh Travel Sunscreen Samples ($1). El husbando used these today at a football game since we had seats in the full sun, but they didn’t keep him from frying. That said, he burns easily and they are the perfect size to keep in a hydration pack or pocket for long summer runs.

    These sunscreen packets in the 5K Crate are the perfect size to stick in a hydration vest.

So is it worth selling out almost $60 based on what I got in my box? Yes. Am I hoping that my familia sees this post and decides to get me one for my birthday or Christmas? YES.

If you’re interested in trying out this service, you can pre-order the fall box, which ships out in early October. The ordering process includes listing your top, bottom and shoe sizes, and whether you want a box for a woman or man. Signing up for a year’s worth of boxes ahead of time saves you 14 percent, or more than $50.

Like a lot of subscription services, you need to know that 5K Crate’s terms and conditions state that “in order to avoid being billed for your next subscription—whether recurring on a quarterly or annual basis—be sure to cancel before the next billing date.”

Have you tried a subscription service before? Whatcha think? Was it worth the money? Do you know a runner who would love a 5K Crate? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)