running

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

As someone with blood-sugar issues (I’m prone to hypoglycemia), I have to be really careful with what I eat and drink on my long runs. Sure, I use the traditional packets of gel and drink tons of water, but I’ve also been known to bring turkey bacon in my hydration pack (next to the ice water) to make sure I have something substantial to eat after three, four and five hours of running. (Thankfully, I have yet to attract any bear or packs of wild dogs.)

When BibRave asked me to try out the Ultima Replenisher hydration product that’s sugar-free and has zero carbs and no artificial ingredients, I figured it might be just what I needed on my long training runs this summer. I sure am glad I did, because this is definitely a product I’ll be ordering and using long after the trial period.

What is it?

I got a 20-count variety pack and 30-serving canister of Ultima Replenisher. It’s an electrolyte replacement powder that the company says is sweetened naturally with organic stevia leaf extract.

My variety pack included raspberry, grape, lemonade, orange and cherry pomegranate packets for one-time use (listed in order of my favorite flavors). I mixed each with ice water that I carried on my hydration pack.

what’s so special about it?

The company says its product is “certified vegan, autism approved, paleo friendly, keto friendly, gluten-free and made with non-GMO ingredients.” I liked the sugar-free aspect, and also that it is zero-calorie. When you’re slow and running for four or five hours in 80-degree temperatures, that makes a big difference.

how does it taste?

As a Puerto Rican living in the Michigan tundra, there are very few opportunities for experiences that take me back to my childhood. The raspberry flavored packet had me envisioning myself eating a piragua de frambuesa from the first taste, so it quickly became my favorite.

As for the other flavors, I liked all of them. The grape reminded me of watered-down Kool-Aid; the others were about what you would expect.

did it work?

I have to say that I didn’t have any tummy troubles when I drank even two or three packets of the Ultima Replenisher. It also helped me get the electrolytes I needed during even my longest runs.

I also liked the convenience of throwing a packet or two in my “luggage” so I could use them later in my runs when I had to refill my water bottles. I even used a packet to help me re-hydrate after a sunny afternoon pool-side left me with a headache, probably from not drinking enough water.

should i try it?

Yup. I can’t think of anything I didn’t like about the product. You can even save 15 percent with code ULTIMABR at the Amazon Store Front.

What are you using for hydration on your long runs? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

Back on the trail

by lachicaruns on

Five years after I started running, I’m experiencing a new round of “firsts.”

Just yesterday morning, I laced up, grabbed my “luggage” and headed out for my first trail run/walk eight weeks post shoulder surgery.

And it was glorious.

With temperatures in the 60s, blue skies and sunshine, I walked briskly through an easy trail at our campground, just north of Lansing.

For the first two miles, I ran the last .2 Miles very slowly. I definitely need to start doing this more often because I was working kind of hard, but felt really, really good.

I stopped for a moment to admire the lake, not stopping for long before getting back on the trail.

There were a lot of people out and about, many walking their dogs. Birds were everywhere, chirping and squawking. I even came up on a sandhill crane, who didn’t appreciate the intrusion and flew off before I could shoot it’s picture.

I also caught a few turtles sunning themselves on logs.

It was the kind of day when one can easily get caught in the moment … and forget one is still healing and isn’t supposed to run outside very much.

Despite my happiness at the weather, creatures and physical activity, I smartly walked my third mile and boosted the running portion to .25 before heading back to my campsite.

I’m happy to report that I did a lot of sitting, took a nap and later even built a fire.

A few hours later, I still felt good and didn’t notice any bad effects from my run/walk through the woods.

So today, I did 7 miles on the treadmill at home. I even ran .25 for each mile.

And while I still feel great, I need to remember not to get caught up in the moment and over-do it. After all, this chica has Detroit Free Press Marathon goals.

Have you experienced any “firsts” recently? I want to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.  (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

That loud yell you heard this afternoon? Yeah, that was me after leaving the surgeon’s office. He officially cleared me to start adding running to my repertoire.

Seven weeks post shoulder surgery, I am feeling pretty good. I’ve actually been walking on the treadmill between three and four times a week since the week after surgery, including at least one seven-miler. Late last week, my physical therapist — who happens to be a marathoner — said I could start including very brief running spurts as long as I stayed on the ‘mill. But it was great to hear the doc officially agree with her.

I started with .05 for each of five miles. I felt good, even hours afterward. So, I went up to .1 per mile the past two days. Still good.

My shoulder definitely still hurts almost all of the time. I still have limited range and physical therapy started including stretching bands just this past week. And I still wake up every night when I accidentally roll onto my right shoulder.

But. I. Am. Running.

I vaguely remember coming back from the third shoulder surgery, not long after I had picked up running. It was winter and I had to join a gym to get on a treadmill for just a tiny bit of time. At least el husbando has since gotten me a used one and I can just jump on any time. In fact, I do most evenings, a bit after dinner and my usual hour or so of work-work.

So, moving forward, the plan is to continue to increase how much I run each time as long as I’m not in a lot of pain.

I only have two races on the schedule this year: the Woodstock 50K in September and the Detroit Free Press Marathon (code 2018DETROCKS gets you 10 percent off your race entry because I’m a BibRave pro) in October.

The 50K training plan I’ve followed the past two years is for 16 weeks and it starts with a 10-mile long run. That gives me the next three weeks to get up to 10 miles. That won’t be a problem at all since I’ve kept my mileage very consistent, but I’ll be mostly walking them at this point. It’s very do-able, but I already know I’ll probably be doing this by myself and each long run will take forever.

So my plan will also include focusing on the things I can do. Since, after all, this is supposed to be fun, no?

Any tips for this recovering chica? What’s the longest distance you have ever walked? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

I don’t like biking much at all. And yet, el husbando and I recently got a new Peloton bike that is getting quite a bit of use despite my initial misgivings.

As a runner, I’m relatively fit. I still do a bit of yoga and walk as cross training. But with the Detroit Free Press Marathon as my goal race this fall just a few weeks after we run a 50K, I wanted to make sure that my cross training is on point this year. Hence, the torture device. I mean, the bike.

How did I make the switch from non-cyclist to someone who rides an indoor bike several times a week? As with most things, through trial and error.

I was less than thrilled when I first started using our new Peloton bike.

If you’re considering getting a new Peloton bike, I’ll give you the deets you need to decide whether to order your very own or to love it a little more if you find yourself less than enthusiastic with your new equipment.

El husbando made all of the research and ordering, but I can tell you that he found the process to be pretty easy. After he placed our order, a delivery company in a town about an hour away called almost a week later to arrange a date and time. The day-of, we got notification before arrival. Set-up was fast, but because it was so cold outside, we had to wait a while to actually turn the bike on, let alone use it.

Once we did, we found it intuitive and easy to use. For the uninitiated, Peloton has a large monitor/screen that shows your progress and statistics, and features the ability to stream spinning classes. Much like a typical bike, it can be adjusted for each person’s height.

We opted for the whole package, which included a mat for the floor to protect our carpet, small weights that sit on a frame behind the bike, a year’s worth of access to Peloton’s streaming content, and a pair of cycling shoes for el husbando. (More about that later).

A longtime cyclist, he easily got himself set up and was riding the bike right away. Me, on the other hand, took a couple of weeks to really warm up to the bike. Here’s what I learned:

  • Peloton resources. When you first log in, the system shows you a set-up video, which includes tips on how to adjust every one of the bike’s features. There’s a very active Peloton group on Facebook where you can find an eclectic community of riders who share stories and encouragement. Lesson learned: Watch the darn video and actually implement what you learn. Especially the part where they teach you how to clip in and out of the bike (ie, how to get your cycling shoes in and out of the bike pedals).
  • Comfort. Bike seats suck. I adjusted the thing up and down, front and back and nothin’. My nether regions were sore after even the shortest rides. A friend who does triathlons and trains indoor said that you do get used to the seat after a while. Others suggested padded bottoms, which I immediately ordered. Ahhhh. Relief. Lesson learned: It may be happening indoors, but this is still a biking experience. Much of the same gear needs apply here.
  • Difficulty. I started out with a pre-recorded beginner workout featuring an instructor with music so loud, I could barely hear her instructions. What I did catch, however, were her moans and facial expressions that led me to believe she has a very close relationship with her bike. After a couple of tries, I found Nicole Meline who is very newbie friendly, giving lots of encouragement and tips like how to sit, inherently making the ride more comfortable. Lesson learned: give several instructors a try until you find someone who fits your needs.

My favorite 115 lb. Leonberger is not impressed by my new cycling shoes.

  • Shoes. Other than the aforementioned padded bottoms, you’ll need cycling shoes. And if you’re new like me, you need to know that there are two general categories: road and off road/mountain biking. Within those, there are a gazillion features, but you’ll want to get shoes that accommodate a “3-hole arrangement.” Look for descriptions that say they fit a Delta or Look Delta cleat. You can ride the bike with regular shoes, but wearing proper footwear with cleats makes the ride a whole lot smoother. Newbies: you’ll need to order the cleats in addition to the shoes, then install the cleats by screwing them to the bottom of your new shoes (an easy proposition). Lesson learned: just get the shoes (and cleats) in the first place. Because I waited a week to get mine, I had to adjust to riding the bike twice: once with my running shoes and later with the cycling shoes.
  • It’s still biking. Despite watching multiple videos, I assumed riding the indoor cycle would be easier than riding outside. It really isn’t. The Peloton classes call for turning resistance up (by turning a knob) to simulate going up a hill, for example. Some instructors ask you to stand up or to really increase your intensity by riding at a certain (read: hard) level. I certainly sweat a ton and feel my core engaging on each ride. Lesson learned: there is a water bottle holder. Use it. I drink about a full water bottle during each ride.
  • Consistency. I’ve found that I can fit at least two 20-30 minute ride at least twice a week. I’m building up to a third ride in the coming week now that I’m hitting my groove. And because the system tracks your progress, you can see how much you have — or haven’t — done in the past week. Lesson learned: Create a separate account for each person riding the bike so you can see your own statistics.

About a month into our Peloton bike purchase, I’m starting to see myself really adjusting. I automatically reach for my ice water, bike shorts and cycling shoes, which have all made the experience significantly less miserable. And I know that I’m getting stronger and healthier each time I clip on.

Have you done any indoor cycling/spinning? What did you think? Is there anything else I should do to make this more pleasant? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

“Disclaimer: I received four Brilliant Reflective strips packs 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!”

To say that I truly needed this product is an understatement. A group of chicas and I run very early in the morning (read: when it’s still o-dark-30) and are always worried about cars pulling out of driveways or coming around corners and not seeing us. We all wear headlamps and/or gear with some reflective features, but have continued to worry about our safety.
Until now, that is. As part of being a BibRave ambassador, I’ve been testing these strips for the past couple of weeks. The company provided both stick-on and iron-on strips, which I promptly applied to the following:
  • The dog’s collar
  • The back of all of my running shoes
  • The back of my winter running jackets
  • The back of my winter hats
  • My winter running mittens
  • The front and back of my hydration vest
  • The back of my favorite running Skirts Sports skirts

The strips include very clear and thorough application instructions inside the packaging.

I still have some strips left, so I will do another round of pasting/ironing on in the coming days. A chica can’t be too careful.

Application is super easy. For the stick-on strips, you peel the back and place on the item. These are best used for things that don’t go in the wash, like the aforementioned shoes and hydration vest.
The iron-on strips took a little more time but are also more durable for washable items like jackets, tights, hats and mittens/gloves. Here’s how I applied mine:
Step 1: Separate the strips.

Brilliant Reflective strips come in several colors, including black.

Once you open the package, the strips are easily separated. Choose the proper size for your item or cut it down to size.

Step 2: Place the strips on your item

I placed my strips on the back of my favorite running jacket.

The company recommends placing the strips in spots “recreating the human form with motion.” That includes placing the strips so they’re visible from all sides of your body and on your head, shoulders, knees, elbows, hands/wrists and feet.

Step 3: iron on using a paper towel

Even the back of my hat got the Brilliant Reflective treatment.

The company recommends making sure to use a paper towel when ironing on the strips and using a slow continuous iron movement over the towel while applying a bit of pressure. This process took about 30 to 40 seconds.

step 4: remove the clear plastic covering

Make sure your strips are cool before removing the clear covering.

Once the strip cools, you can remove a clear plastic covering. Mine came off easily and quickly.

step 5: BE SEEN

My back now lights up when I’m running or walking in the dark.

Thanks to my new Brilliant Reflective strips, I now light up beyond just my headlamp. I am a lot more comfortable running or walking my dog when it’s dark outside.

I genuinely can’t think of any downsides to the product, except for any user error like when I accidentally put the strip down incorrectly and accidentally ironed the strip to the paper towel. Oops.

If you want to light up on your run, you can save 25 percent off all Brilliant Reflective multi/assortment packs with code BRP25. Or click here to automatically get the discount at checkout.

What do you do to make sure you’re seen when it’s dark on your run? What other spots should I consider for additional strip placement? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)