Run for the Zoo Virtual Race

Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Lincoln Park Zoo: Run for the Zoo virtual race 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 we’re all stuck at home these days many of our favorite races have become virtual. This includes the Lincoln Park Zoo’s race in Chicago. As a Floridian who has only been to Chicago once…I’ve also never been to this zoo. It was on our list when I visited with my family in 2018 to run the Chicago Marathon however, the weather was rainy. I’d also just ran a marathon!

We are living in unprecedented times and this is the first time in 42 years that this race will be virtual. This race is one of the things that helps keep the zoo open every day of the year and keeps it free.

While you may not get to run through the zoo this year, there are still a ton of perks to take advantage of. Here are just a few that you can find on the Run for the Zoo website:

  • A 5K and 10K virtual race options to run, walk, or enjoy nature in your community and support the zoo!
  • A virtual Safari Stampede race to encourage kids to express their inner animal
  • Mailed race packets with themed tech shirts (with a brand new logo for 2020!)
  • Commemorative Supporter medals for qualifying participants
  • A special virtual race bag with incredible deals from our partners
  • Weekly motivational communications
  • Digital commemorative participant bib and finishers certificate

Don’t forget, this race if virtual so you can do it whenever and however you want! I know I’ll be looking for a new 5K route to run so it feels like I’m doing something new. (Seriously, I’m tired of seeing the same houses!) It’s also for a great cause. How can you pass that up? Look at this face!

If you’re interested, check out the link above and use the code BIBRAVE10 for 10% off your entry!

Home Tested: Nabee Compression Socks (Again)

Disclaimer: I received Nabee Compression Socks 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!

Like Mer, I’m also a BibRave Pro and had to chance to test out these adorable and comfortable socks. Unlike Mer, I did not use them to run a half marathon. She’s amazing!

A few weeks ago I was supposed to run the New York City Half Marathon with my best friend and take on the city with my boyfriend for a spring break trip. Well, that didn’t happen because of the current situation around the world. Since then I’ve been taking it easy, working from home, and trying my best to stay active.

Lately, I’ve been going on daily walks around my neighborhood to get some sunshine in and, let me tell you, it’s hot down here! I’ve also been doing some garage workouts. I’m stuck at home, might as well make the most of it for myself!

I’ve been using my Nabee compression socks during a lot of my walks and workouts. They’re fairly lightweight and not too constricting when I’m outside. We’ve had a couple of really hot days and I try not to wear too much when I’m out, but these socks are just light enough that I’m not too uncomfortable when I’m out there.

Since I’m spending most of my time at home, these socks have come in handy when just hanging around too. I was also worried about the fit of these socks. Since I’m just a little shy of 5 feet tall, I don’t normally wear compression socks or sleeves. These fit great and don’t make my knees look all squishy. (Yes, I know I’m very vain.)

Blue’s a big fan, too.

Also, Nabee is doing a super cool thing with their socks right now! They are donating TWO pair for everyone ONE you buy.

AND you can get 20% with the code BIBRAVE20.

Home Tested: Nabee Compression Socks

Disclaimer: I received Nabee Compression Socks 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!

You might have noticed that the title of this post is “Home Tested”, whereas we usually say “Road Tested” when blogging about to a new product we try.

Yet, with our self-isolation and limited time outside, this is more accurate wording. New Jersey has been at home for the last month and we’ve limited the our outings to essential trips.

Which means that the majority of my workouts have been at home and in the yard rather than the preferred trails.

And it also means that I’m finding (more) happiness in good mail days and sweet gifts from friends.

These amazing bright socks from Nabee and Raw Threads birthday tank from bestie, Vic, arrived within a few days of each other and made me so happy!

As I mentioned the last time I blogged, I actually ran my Yuengling Shamrock 1/2 Marathon virtually on the treadmill. The Nabee socks arrived just a few days before running and while I know we aren’t supposed to do anything new on race day, I figured this would be a perfect opportunity to go the distance with these compression socks.

Feet, don’t fail me now!

I’m a fan of wearing compression socks for long runs to assist with reducing swelling as well as pain and soreness. Now I’m not saying it was the socks (and I’m not saying it wasn’t the socks either!) but I was also able to attain a half marathon PR during this long run!

I also wear them after long runs to assist with recovery. I’ve been doing lots of rides on my Peloton bike over the last month (getting close to my 100th Century Ride!) and it definitely helps the legs feel better faster so I can push myself to the next PR.

The bottoms of the socks have a cushioned sole which is so comfortable – both when running and during recovery. I also really like the breathability of these socks – they aren’t too tight and my calves are happy throughout wearing them.

But what I like the very most about Nabee Socks at the moment has less to do with me and more about what they’re doing for health care workers.

Pretty incredible, right? With the fun designs and comfort, I’ll be ordering more soon.

If you want to as well, use code BIBRAVE20 at checkout on their website and save 20% off all socks.

Yuengling Shamrock 1/2 Marathon Goes Virtual… On a Treadmill

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon race weekend 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!

This past weekend was supposed to include a road trip with Rachel to Virginia Beach, a gathering of BibRave Pros, and a Personal Record at the Shamrock 1/2 Marathon.

It actually included two of the three things listed.

10 days ago I received word that both this race and the upcoming Allstate Hot Chocolate Philly race were cancelled due to the COVID-19 virus. 10 days feels like forever ago at this point.

Both races quickly offered virtual options. At first, my local friends and I planned to run on, we’d meet up as a group and do a half marathon. However as the week continued and our Governor stated we needed to maintain social distance/stay home, we scratched those plans.

I knew I wanted to run the half marathon distance but then it became a matter of WHERE. At first I defaulted to where I started out running, the treadmill. However, it’s been a long time since I’ve logged serious treadmill miles.

Outside on the trail would’ve been preferable, but I didn’t want to run alone, especially with the high anxiety I’ve been feeling lately. My 15 year old actually volunteered to run it with me; he’s been doing a lot of long training runs with me lately.

But the more and more I thought about it (while I was not sleeping at night) the more I decided that I didn’t feel comfortable with that idea.

After chatting with friends on Twitter, I landed on running the majority of the 13.1 miles on the treadmill. I actually thought that I’d do 12.1 on the treadmill and do the last mile outside. Spoiler alert, that didn’t happen because it was pretty cold outside and I was extremely warm and sweaty from my inside miles.

I decided to break the half marathon down into three sections, an hour, and hour, and then the last portion. I’d been training with a goal of getting finished within 2:30-2:39. With the knowledge that I could possibly fizzle out mentally on the treadmill, I wasn’t going into this expected a PR. Actually, I thought I’d just get the miles done and call it good.

My first hour I used the Peloton Tread app and did a 60 minute Fun Run with Matty Maggiacomo.

I definitely pushed harder than I expected to during the 60 minutes and wound up finishing the hour at 5.15 miles, which means I was keeping at 11:39 pace. Knowing this, I started to think that a PR for this run was actually attainable if I kept up the positive vibes and spirit.

While I was filling my water bottle I quickly tweeted out my progress and got a whole slew of responses from our running community, which I was able to read on my Garmin as I ran.

For my second 5 mile segment I tapped into my playlist that I made specifically for the Shamrock 1/2. It’s an eclectic mix of everything from big band to Lizzo to Franz Ferdinand. I was able to accomplish that in 58:38.

Which meant I only had 3 more miles left to go! After filling my water bottle one last time, I got on the treadmill once more. My legs were getting tired and my lower back ached but I knew that unless something went terribly wrong, I’d be able to hit my goal time.

And I did! All together I ran 13.1 miles in 2:34.22. While it’s not official, it’s absolutely a PR for me in the half marathon distance. The fact that I was able to do it on the treadmill makes me believe that there is no doubt I could do it within a race setting.

My cheering squad was waiting for me when I came upstairs to celebrate. They wouldn’t hug me though… not because of social distancing but because I was very sweaty.

Today is #MedalMonday and while my medal isn’t actually physically here, it will just prolong the happiness of this particular accomplishment when it does arrive. And right now, I’ll take what I can get.

Hope you are all safe, well, and staying home.

Allstate Hot Chocolate Philadelphia Cancellation

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Allstate Hot Chocolate 5k race 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!

If there’s one thing you should know about me, I’m a Type A personality. Schedules and unwavering plans are what I thrive on. Actually, in a community of runners, I think you’ll find that to be true about many of us. We HAVE to be that way if we want to train well and excel during a race.

But life throws you for a loop sometimes and that’s exactly what’s happening now with the COVID-19 virus. Before I get too much further into this post, let me state for the record that I absolutely understand the reasoning and logic behind canceling events. I’m always one to err on the side of caution. Making decisions like these are not easy and I feel for the race directors who need to make the call.

That said, yesterday was a rough day.

In the span of a couple of hours yesterday I got the news that two of the races I’ve been training for have been cancelled: the Yuengling Shamrock 1/2 Marathon (the plan was to PR at that one) and the Allstate Hot Chocolate 5k in Philadelphia.

I requested cake and wine for dinner and my husband did not disappoint.

Am I bummed? Yeah, I absolutely am.

But I’m also trying really, really hard to look on the bright side of things. I think what I appreciate most about these races is that even though they can’t happen the way that we intended them to, they’re doing their darnest to make things as right as they can for the runners.

The Allstate Hot Chocolate Race Series recently announced a virtual option for their races. With things currently the way they are, they’ve switched the entirety of the Philadelphia race to being virtual.

I’m no stranger to virtual events, having just wrapped up the virtual 465 Challenge!

I love that the Hot Chocolate Race Series will be mailing out all of the goodies to our homes, especially because their swag is always the best. I still plan on getting outside on April 4th and running my 5k. There’s a perfect spot near the river here in New Jersey and as long as it’s safe for me to do so, that’s where I plan to be.

I’ll just have to wait to see these guys next year in Philly!

If you want to join in virtually, here’s the link to register. Be smart and be safe!

Race Recap: Skyway 10K

 

Back in September or October, my friend Stephanie talked me into signing up for a race lottery. The race in question was the Skyway 10K, a race that benefits military families. All you have to do is run over the Skyway Bridge. If you’re a Floridian, I’m sure you know what that is.

Not my photo.

Now, again, as a Floridian I run mostly on flat surfaces. When a race calls for a bridge, I cringe. I’m not a fan of them.

I was also not expecting to get into this race.

But we did.

I feel like I’ve spent the better part of the year feeling crummy with some sort of cold or sinus thing hanging around. Of course I used this as an excuse to come home and nap and not run. (I will use anything as an excuse to not run sometimes!) Needless to say, I was not prepared for this race. That seems to be a theme for me so far this year.

My friend picked up my bib for me that Saturday, so I had a lazy day at home. Honestly, despite the nap comment up there, I don’t get a lot of lazy days. It was nice to just hang out and do laundry and cuddle my cat.

I headed to Tampa late Saturday afternoon and got to my friend’s family’s house a little after eight. We hung out a bit and then turned in early since we had a little bit of a drive in the morning. I was super grateful for these strangers letting me stay at their house because I still get so much race anxiety, especially when I’m on my own.

I sent this pic to my boyfriend, mom, and sister of me in my favorite pre-race place.

The morning was chilly but projected to get warmer, so I opted for my new SkirtSports Pocketopia capris in Vacay and a tank top. I took a throwaway shirt that I tossed before I got to the start line because I had already warmed up. at the start. Our start time was a little after 8AM and all runners were bussed over to the start line from Tropicana Field.

Flat Ash, pretending to be prepared.

 

With Steph before the start.

I had a good start with my friends, but was having some technically difficulties. That slowed me down a bit and I eventually lost them altogether. I knew it was going to be a tough race for me because I was so unprepared. Especially for this bridge!

I did manage to keep a pretty steady walking/running pace until I got to the base of the bridge. I didn’t even try to run that thing!

It was, obviously, smooth sailing going down the bridge. The view from the top wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be, either. I struggled a bit toward the end but managed a strong finish across the finish line. (Of course!) Stephanie was waiting for me at the finish, so she and I hopped a bus back to the expo center where we had our free beer and snacks.

My pic from the top!

All the beer tickets!

To be such a young race, this was extremely well-organized. It was a cupless race and the water stops were mainly for refills. There were some heathens (me) that drank from the spigots like a water fountain and that was just fine. The expo was great, there were plenty of bathrooms, and the medals were awesome, too!

I highly suggested signing up for this race lottery if you get the chance to. The proceeds go to a great cause and you’ll be able to say you ran over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge!

It’s a Wrap: 465 Challenge

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the 465 Virtual Challenge race 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 start of this year has been fantastic. I’ve been healthy, happy, and active.

The 465 Challenge helped immensely with that! To refresh, the 465 Virtual Challenge was a 2 month event in which the goal was to complete 53 miles via running, walking, or bike (or swim, but that wasn’t happening over here in the winter!). Those who continued on to do more than that were considered, LOOPERS.

At the end of January, I’d completed 3 loops totaling, 189.54 miles.

My miles increased even more in February. I was consistent on the Peloton bike (which I got in January) and increased speed, miles, and output.

I’ve also been upping my miles since I’ve got the Shamrock Half Marathon coming up in just a few weeks.

As the added cherry on the top, my son has joined me for the last few long training runs. He’s running his first ever 10 mile race in May and he’s already thinking, planning, and training.

I wish I had his drive when I was 15 years old!

By Leap Day, I’d reached 7 loops, totaling over 371 miles!

What was especially great about this virtual race was the community that came along with it. The directors created a Facebook group, just for those participating in the challenge and we were all able to cheer for each other.

The interaction in the group was great and because it was over a 2 month span, I really got a chance to connect with others. I’ve done a few virtual events and this quickly grabbed the number one spot in terms of community, support, and feedback from the race directors.

The shirt, medal, and sticker arrived on Friday, February 28th – just in time for a medal Monday.

Stick a fork in this challenge, it’s done. But I’m not; I’m just getting started!

Have you done a virtual event before? Which one? Why did you choose it?

Do You Skirt?

Recently I got to announce that I’m back for my third year as a SkirtSports ambassador. This is such a great company and I’m so glad to be back representing it. Skirt has a ton of amazing, quality products that are great for running, working out, or just handing around. The mothership of Skirt is located in Colorado and is in the process of moving, so they are having a HUGE SALE until March 1st.

I figured I’d highlight some of my favorite products if you wanted to go on a little shopping spree later.

 

Pocketopia Capri

Living in Florida, I don’t really need a lot of “pants”, but I really love these capris. I’m short, so they fit pretty long on me, but they’re called Pocketopia! They have POCKETS! The newer versions of these capris is made of the most amazingly comfortable and stretchy material. I’ve worn these capris to Disney, on hikes, and for races and they haven’t failed me yet.

Packed with snacks for my last Ragnar loop.

Eclipse Tank

This tank is super lightweight and soft, like you aren’t wearing a tank at all. This tank doesn’t have a built-in bra, which I don’t mind at all. Built-in bras don’t always work for me so this works out well. This tank also comes in some great solid colors that go well with patterned skirt.

Lioness Skirt

The Lioness was my first skirt. It’s made of a thicker material with shorties underneath. The pleats make is super cute and girly but I still feel like a badass when I wear it. I swore I’d never run in skirts. Once I slipped into this one I never looked back.

Jette Skirt

The Jette is my absolute, all-time favorite skirt EVER. It’s cute and girly like the lioness, but made of a much lighter and more breathable material. I wore my Jettes all through my training for Chicago and even for the Chicago Marathon. It is definitely the skirt I gravitate to most, no matter the weather.


So, there are a few of my favorite Skirt products and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Skirt has so many amazing things and right now you can get ANY OF IT for 50% off! Use the code LEAP50 at checkout.

If you’re still looking to buy after the sale, use the code SSA15Ash50 for 15% off.

Happy shopping!

Road Tested: Built Bar (with 20% discount code)

Disclaimer: I received Built Bar Protein and Energy 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!

I have done my share of protein/energy bar “investigating” in the past. Back in 2014, my husband and I tried a variety of bars, which naturally we reviewed here.

Then last year while Bec was visiting, she introduced me to Built Bar. The rest, as they say, is history. I have been hooked on Built Bar ever since! I tend to go with what I know so I’ve always ordered a few of my standard favorites in a mixed box – Salted Caramel Chocolate, Coconut Chocolate Creme, and Vanilla Chocolate Creme.

When BibRave teamed up with Built Bar, I knew I had to opt-in to check out their newest flavors and find some new favorites. Seriously, when it comes to flavors, they have MANY!

The low calorie, high protein content is absolutely a draw but that would mean little if they didn’t taste good. Built Bars are extremely tasty! Of course I still love my old standbys, but a few of my new favorites are Mint Brownie Delite, Peanut Butter, Coconut Almond, and Black Cherry Chocolate Creme.

Other than wholesale, Built Bar is primarily an online order business. When they weather is warmer, they take great care to get your bars to you quickly and include a cold pack so they don’t melt.

When you get three boxes of Built Bar, you have to share the wealth! Immediately my older son who works out with me was interested in trying them. I noticed that they were disappearing quickly and soon found out why.

He was not even a little bit sorry about this.

I brought an assortment along with me on a long run to share with my running buddies. I wasn’t surprised at all to hear rave reviews from those who tried them.

One of my friends said that she had a Sleeve Gastrectomy surgery a few years back and has to be very careful about what she eats. She was very excited to read the Built Bar’s ingredients and see that it worked for her!

The outside of each bar is coated with chocolate while the inside is nougat-like. When warm they do tend to get a little sticky. During our Twitter #bibchat it was suggested to try putting a Built Bar into the refrigerator or freezer to cool it down.

The freezer made it a little too difficult for me to bite into but I love keeping them in the fridge and have a stockpile in mine!

Built Bar is constantly evolving and introducing new flavors to their mix. The only bummer is that some of my favorites don’t last for very long. They do retire flavors and have limited releases too. However, there’s always something in the rotation that I love!

Check out more reviews from BRPs:

Renee
Becky
Kelsey
Riley
Amy
Emily

 

Have you tried Built Bar? If so, what’s your favorite flavor? If I had to chose one, I’d go with the Salted Caramel Chocolate. If you haven’t tried them yet, which flavor would you try first? Order with code BUILTNOW and it will save you 20%! 

Be Kind – Random Acts of Kindness Week

If you didn’t know, yesterday was Random Acts of Kindness Day. I spent the day lounging about the house being kind to myself. After a twelve-day work week and a busy Valentine weekend, I deserved it!

I’ve seen a lot of posts about this being Random Acts of Kindness Week, so I thought I’d put together some ideas of how you can celebrate it. In my classroom we have a poster that my students can earn a sticker for if they are caught doing an act of kindness. Our goal is one hundred acts. Like a lot of things we do in school, they asked if they get rewarded when they reach one hundred. I said, “Yes! You get the reward of knowing you did one hundred kind things!”

They weren’t thrilled about that answer, but I digress.

In our SkirtSports group we’ve had a ton of ladies sharing ambassador gear and all kinds of fun stuff. I love that sometimes our go-to is free things, but I also feel like there’s so much more we can do.

  • Take out someone’s trash/Bring in trashcans.
  • Mow someone’s lawn.
  • Return your/other’s shopping cart.
  • Compliment someone you don’t usually talk to.
  • Smile at a stranger.
  • Open/hold the door for someone.
  • Pay for someone’s coffee.
  • Text a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while.
  • Write a note for a coworker.
  • Clean up a mess you didn’t make.
  • Donate to a charity.
  • Go for a run with a friend.

There are just a few things I can think of that will be sure to brighten someone else’s day.

What can you do this week to make someone smile?