Life Moves Pretty Fast…But I Don’t

I’ve been running for about five years now and when I first started I never dreamed that I’d be sitting here, putting pen to paper (in a sense) about training for a marathon.

I signed up for my first marathon in February 2016 after my stepfather passed away unexpectedly. My best friend and running best friend had been thinking about it for a while, so I went for it. I felt, at that time, that it was something I just had to do. Looking back, I’m glad I took the chance. I did a recap of the Space Coast Marathon after Mer saw some pics on Instagram that I’d posted because I actually hadn’t really made it known that I was running a marathon! I wasn’t prepared for this race at all. Michelle and I had signed up for it and then training fell to the wayside.

I honestly don’t even remember developing a plan or anything for Space Coast.

So. Now we’re doing things differently.

In October I’ll be running the Chicago Marathon. Michelle signed up with the lottery and, even though I’ve only been yelling about how I didn’t want to run another marathon, the FOMO (fear of missing out) was real! It took a few weeks before I finally decided to sign up with a charity team. I chose The American Heart Association to honor my stepfather, seeing as he was the reason I decided to run a marathon the first time.

The title of this post is a nod to Ferris Bueller, of course. My family is coming with me to Chicago so we’re definitely planning on doing some touristy things while we’re there.

This time I am definitely, definitely going to be prepared. There. I’ve put it on the internet, so it’s going to happen! I just finished Week 4 of my training plan and I’m feeling pretty good. I’m doing intervals to help build up my strength because, honestly, it’s been a while since I’ve ran for longer than a few minutes at a time. At this point I’m not ready to set any goals for the race, because I just want to focus on my preparedness. I’ve even put up a calendar!

I’m trying to focus on getting a workout in everyday, but I know I’m going to need to scale it back a little. I’ve been kind of obsessed with closing the rings on my Apple Watch which really does nothing but make me happy. I might do a walk or light stretching instead of a cross training or more intense workout. It’s early on in the training schedule so I definitely don’t want to tire myself out or injure myself just yet. Or, you know, at all.

Training would be going better if I didn’t always stop to take pics for Skirt Sports. 🙂

The best thing about working with your running buddy is that you always have motivation and accountability. Michelle and I plan any short, weekly runs we can do together and keep each other up-to-date with our weekend runs. We both use the Nike+ RunClub app which notifies your friends when you go for a run.

For me, accountability is key. If there isn’t someone who knows all about what I’m doing and where I’m doing it, chances are it’s not going to happen. I’m looking forward to Chicago and seeing what I can do. My time for Space Coast was nearly seven hours, so I know I can do better than that. I’m feeling strong and we’re only a few weeks in. I know that summer will really test my commitment as the weather will be dreadful. Michelle and I have a place we like to do long runs at, so we’ll definitely be meeting up to get some training runs done.

I’m sure you’ll be hearing from me about this a few more times before October. If you have any training tips, I’d love to hear them, too!

Shoe Review: Skora Tempo

Last month, Kyle and Cam were called upon to serve the running community. Their mission? To test run the new Skora Tempo – a beautiful, bright, natural-running shoe that touts “connection + cushioning.” Kyle began marathon training in her pair. Cam ran Ragnar Wasatch Back. These are their stories.

Kyle

Upon receiving my Tempos in the mail, I immediately tore into the package and stuck the suckers on my feet. I’ve had a love affair with minimalist shoes since I started distance running three years ago and though I’ve moved away from them during my last two marathon cycles, I was excited to welcome them back on to my feet. I’d never run in a pair of Skora shoes before, but I’ve only read good things about them, so I was really looking forward to putting some miles on them.

IMG_0745The first thing I noticed about these shoes was how wide the toe box is – in my excitement to try them on, I didn’t put on socks and they felt really too big in the toe box. But, after putting on a pair of socks, they felt a lot more snug. I loved the lacing – it’s anatomically designed to fit the natural curve of your feet and it allows for a “second skin” like feel.

I took them out for a short test run that day and I was in love. That zero-drop is my jam, tho. Knowing my feet and how they handle long distances, though, I know that these shoes will probably be designated as middle distance kicks – no longer than 13.1 in these babies, because otherwise my feet and knees will be a bit unhappy.

As I tested the Tempos out, I wore them to the gym for my other workouts. The great thing about zero-drop shoes? They make GREAT lifting shoes. These are no exception. You’ve got plenty of cush to make your joints happy, but you’re also totally connected to the ground, which gives you a strong base to lift from. Usually I lift in my New Balance Minimus, the soles of which are made of the same material as the Vibram Five Fingers. I love those shoes, but I’ve been looking for something different and Skora, you’ve come through!

I’ve got a 9-miler on the docket for this weekend and I’m looking forward to another run in the Tempos. I’m still getting used to minimalist running again, but I love how light and unencumbered my feet feel in these shoes. I’m excited to see what my splits look like – even if it’s just in my head, I feel faster when I run in these, and that’s always a good thing!

Cam 

So you guys know how I feel about Skora, right?  I’m pretty much their biggest fan.  I’ve had nothing but shoe problems since I began running around 5 years ago.  I’ve tried them all and Skora is where my heart is.  It’s a very committed relationship.  Given the opportunity to try out their new model, I was like a kid in a candy store…or a runner in a shoe store? I don’t know, I was thrilled.

My first wear...with socks.

My first wear…with socks.

Skora generally are made to be worn without socks.  They have this “no sew” construction so you don’t feel all the seams and junk on the top of your foot.  The Core is what I’ve worn in the past and just before trying these, I invested in a pair of the Forms.  I like that they’re made from genuine leather.  They’re soft and mold to your foot.  These are a zero drop shoe, meaning they have a 0mm differential between the heel and toe.  The Forms I’ve been running in weigh a whopping 6.8 oz and have a 13 mm sole.  The Tempo are a little lighter at 6 oz but they have considerably more padding at 22 mm.  Socks not needed!!!  These shoes are super light, super airy, and super comfy.  Plus, they look awesome and reflective, which is must for us night runners.

The first thing I noticed is that they have a bit of an arch, probably undetectable for normal feet but my flat feet noticed immediately.  The gave me a bit of soreness in the heel and arch initially, which I haven’t experienced with the Form.  Once I’d given them a solid 10 miles, though, they entire shoe was undetectable.  And because of the mesh upper, I could feel the breeze on my toes.

I’ve been wearing them for cross training, also.  Like Kyle mentioned, they have a huge toe box.  Mine were a bit big in the length, even though I ordered my normal size 10. I felt like the material buckled around my toe a bit with lateral movement. If I were to order these again, I’d probably size down a half size.  The box is big enough, you don’t have to worry about your toes rubbing against the shoe so sizing up is unnecessary.

At this point, I was already very please with my these new shoes, but I wanted to put them to the real test: Ragnar.  Would I still love these shoes after three runs over two days and 15+ miles?

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On our way to Utah!

I’ve had terrible issues with my ankles, so I wrapped and wore compression socks for my first run.  These shoes did fabulous. I had no foot pain, which is my main issue when I run.  Granted, I have to apply a lot of topical pain relief to my ankle before I run, but my arches felt great.  My second run, I ditched the socks and felt the wind between my toes.

Go Ragnar!  Gearing up for my last run...sockless.

Go Ragnar! Gearing up for my last run…sockless.

My last run was 4.1 miles downhill.  And when I say downhill, I mean like 2000 ft elevation loss.  I ended up getting huge blisters on the inside arches of both feet and a pretty sore achilles.  The extra space in the toe from the shoe being a little big may have had something to do with this.  However, I didn’t have knee pain, which I anticipated given this downhill and I didn’t lose a toenail, which happens every Ragnar.  I can’t be sure if the blisters were because of the shoe or just a casualty of Ragnar.  Historically, by my third leg, I can barely walk, my knee caps feel like they’re about to pop, and ankles are the size of grapefruits.  I’d definitely rather just have a couple blisters!

Sometimes when I run, I also dance.

Sometimes when I run, I also dance.

Overall, I really like these shoes.  I think they’d be fantastic for someone with more of an arch and the cushion is just unbeatable.  I don’t know what they’re using in the soles, but seriously, it’s like marshmallows.  I still like my Form the best, but I’ll be adding these to my list of reasons why Skora holds my heart.

PRO Compression ambassador for 2015

Happy Superbowl Sunday, my friends!

Since it’s a day of celebration (and #allthefood) I thought I’d share some exciting news I received this week. For the second straight year, I’m going to be part of the PRO Compression ambassador team!

PRO15As maaaaany of you know, I love the small California-based label’s compression socks and was invited to be part of the team last summer. The socks are made in the USA, for and by an awesome group of endurance athletes. The socks are incredible – I’m wearing a pair as I write this – because they help with enhanced blood flow in your lower extremities.

I typically wear them for any run over 10-miles – then for recovery. Today I slogged through snow that seemed more like quicksand, so on they went. There are LOADS of colors and fun designs – and the company makes several styles- low, mid and long socks.

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I am thrilled to represent the company for another year. And note that’s good for y’all too. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for some compression sock and sleeve giveaways down the line.

In the meantime, here’s today’s sale! Take 40% off all the items in PRO Compression’s online store AND free shipping on all order over $2.! Use the code SUPER at checkout.

PRO1Happy shopping!

Wineglass Half Marathon & tube sock mittens

I’ve wanted to run the Wineglass Half Marathon in upstate New York since it was launched back in 2011.

Wine, a (mostly) downhill race course and a glass medal.

That’s a no-brainer.

But it never really fit into my fall training schedule – until now. It was well worth the wait.

wineglassmedal

I ran the 13.1 mile course from Campbell to Corning morning with much of my running group –Traci, Gary, Ray, Mark and Andy.

Most of us decided to skip the two-day expo in at the Corning Museum of Glass and instead, wake up insanely early to hit the road from Rochester well before dawn. I loved that race organizers allowed us to collect our bibs at the start line and our goody bags at the museum after the race.

It was still dark when we drove the 90+ minutes south, dropping Mark at the highway’s Bath exit so he could log an extra 5.5 miles before the race. We parked near the finish line in Corning and, after a waiting in a lengthy line of shivering runners, hopped a bus to the start area in Campbell.

This was the first year runners were required to travel by bus to the starting lines – previously, runners were allowed to park near the start and return post-race. We were among the last to reach the starting area, but race organizers waited until everyone arrived before kicking off the race, even though it meant starting our run about 15 minutes late.

wineglassmittensPosing with my homemade mittens on the bus. I felt brilliant for coming up with this one. No worries on tossing these “gloves.”

And Sunday was chilly – just 33 degrees before we started running, so the extra throwaway layers we brought along were vital. And me? I decided to take it one step further with my lovely tube sock mittens. I created thumbholes and kept my frigid fingers toasty for much of the run.

In the mass of 3,000 half-marathoners milling at the start, Mark and I somehow spotted each other near the 2-hour pacers. The race began moments later as we chatted race strategy.

We were off.

The first few miles were crowded and hard to get a good pace going – but rather than weave around other runners, we hung back and waited for it to clear, then we bolted. Side by side, Mark and I settled into our race pace and decided to just run how we felt. We’d aim for sub 9s for as long as we felt strong. If we hit a wall, we’d slow down.

Time really didn’t matter to us. We were just there to run.

As our feet slapped the pavement, we both felt fantastic. We chatted as we ran, high-fived most children we encountered, thanked numerous volunteers and police officers and cheered for other runners. We even pointed out different picturesque spots along the course, many with colorful fall foliage over waterways.

Sometimes everything comes together on race day. Sunday was one of those days.

Around mile 11, Mark noted that we were on pace for 1:57ish finish (which is my PR) and I decided to pick up my pace to try for an even better time.

We spotted a running friend in the last mile and Mark encouraged me to sprint to the end as he ran in with our friend. I did. I pushed. I pushed hard.

I sprinted that last 1/4 mile, gritting my teeth as I crossed the finish on my unsteady legs.

wineglassfinishDONE! I appear surprised to see a camera at the finish. HA! And I still have the mitten-socks on.

Success! I finished in 1:56.37, a new Personal Record by nearly a minute. But better than that, was running with friends, who were all pleased with how they fared. Traci also ran her fastest half-marathon time. Way to go, lady!

wineglassgroupCelebrating our finish. From left, Mark, Traci, me, Ray and Gary

After the run, we each received a coveted glass medal. And we were treated to post-race goodies, including my fave chocolate milk and Wegmans chicken noodle soup.

Post-race we also had the chance to take a nice warm shower at the Corning YMCA (I did, ah!) before we collected our goody bags from the still-running expo. I was initially worried that I wouldn’t get the correct shirt size by waiting until after the run to collect my items. Not an issue.

Highlights in the bag included the race shirt, (Asics! Women’s cut! Long-sleeved! Huzzah!) a small bottle of bubbly and a wine glass. (Note, I meant to take a pic of this and got distracted. I’ll share one later.)

And if you want to read more about how others fared at Wineglass, here’s my work blog on Sunday’s race.

Have you ever run a race after skipping the expo? What’s the coldest temp at a start line that you’ve faced? How did you cope? Tell me in the comments

PR!

I’ve been chasing my best half-marathon time for nearly two years. Finally, last weekend I smashed through the barrier.

Let me tell you, it was well worth the wait.

I actually never intended to race the Rochester half marathon last weekend. I has planned to use the course as a 13-mile training run as I prepare to run the NYC Marathon in November.

But I couldn’t find my training partner at the start of Sunday morning’s race. I lost another in the crowd near the toilets. Fortunately, I ran into colleague and friend Ben, who had trained for six months to run his first-ever half marathon.

We agreed to at least to start the course together. I told him I’d drop back if I felt like I was pushing too hard.

That was my plan, anyway. But it never happened!

We set off at a decent clip. Our first mile was around a 9:15 minute pace. I assume our second was the same. I stopped looking at my watch for a few miles and just ran.

Ben and I chatted for much those first 5 miles – about his training, his family, my family, the supportive online running community and racing strategies. When I looked at my watch again, I saw we’d just finished our fifth mile at a 8:50 minute pace. And our sixth, seventh, AND eighth!

The miles were ticking by. We both felt fantastic!

We pushed each other along as we ran. Ben brought a handheld water bottle with him and I grabbed liquid at each water stop, took a swig and sprinted to catch Ben.

I sure didn’t want to let Ben down on his inaugural race, so I matched his pace. My lungs were clear, my legs felt strong. Onward!

Around mile 10, with a 5K to go, I realized that not only was I going to set a personal best time, we were on track to break the two-hour mark. This milestone was a long time coming for me, as I’d aimed for and missed it more than once over the last two years.

My dearest friends have witnessed this – more than once, my bid for a sub-2 half ended closer to the 2:05 or 2:10 mark because I started out too fast.

But not Sunday.

We zipped past runners along the river path. We enjoyed the view of Rochester’s skyline from the University of Rochester’s river campus. We cursed the slight ramp that led us up to the Ford Street bridge.

That last mile flew by. As we ran down South Plymouth Avenue, the wind pushed us backward. I grunted. Ben grinned.

“Let’s finish this thing,” he said to me as we approached Frontier Field. We stepped up our pace and sprinted in to the finish.

As we crossed, I could see the clock had a number that began with a “1.” Success!

km 092213 marathon sptsVic at the finish (photo by colleague Kris Murante)

I finished in 1:58:45 – my personal best half-marathon time by exactly FIVE minutes. That previous PR, set in October 2011 in Toronto, needed to come down.

Hey, if its going to happen…why not go big?

I wholeheartedly believe that Ben and I were meant to run together Sunday morning. We tripped into one another at the start. We fell into a steady pace easily and at times, ran in sync, our feet slapping the pavement in perfect rhythm.

Congratulations to us both! I can’t wait to see what our next race brings.

Everyone loves a PR! Tell me about yours in the comments!