Friday Faves and a Giveaway!

April happens to be my favorite month, mostly because it’s my birthday month, so I wanted to do something a little different this time. This month, I wanted to share a list of my favorite things, and as a little bonus, a giveaway!

Favorite Shoes: Asics GT 2000 – These shoes, they are heavenly. I first tried them on at the Columbus Marathon expo in 2012, and I’ve never looked back. I’ve gone through a couple pairs, and I’ve never been more satisfied with a shoe. I’ve always been an Asics’ girl, but these are hands down my favorite. They recently released the GT 2000-2 which are currently sitting in my closet waiting for their first run!

Asics GT-2000, Heaven for your feet

Asics GT-2000, Heaven for your feet

Favorite Half Marathon: Sandy Ridge Half Marathon – No longer around, this half marathon will always have a place in my heart. This course ran on my street and surrounding roads I grew up running on, the roads where I fell in love with running. My favorite moment of this race was running by my parent’s house, hearing them cheer and seeing words of encouragement sprayed onto the road.

Run!

Run!

Favorite 5k: Love-A-Stray 5k – I’ve run this race every year it’s been around, and will be running it for the third straight year next weekend. I grew up volunteering at the Love-A-Stray shelter and adopted two cats from them as well, so this race has always held a special place in my heart. Registration is still open if you’re interested in running, pups can join too!

Mile 2-3

On course last year

Favorite Place to Run – I will always love running in the Cleveland Metro Parks. There are so many opportunities and trails to discover, it’s hard to have a bad day running there. I don’t get there as often as I used to, so my second favorite has become Buckeye Woods and slowly creeping up to my number one spot.

Welcome to my happy place.

Welcome to my happy place.

Favorite Band on my iPod – Anberlin has been a favorite for a long time. Whether it’s a long run, or a race, they pump me up and remind me of how far I’ve come. They’re finishing up their last year together, but listening to them will always be a good reminder of the many, many miles I’ve run.

Favorite Run Fuel – Sport Beans are without a doubt my favorite thing to snack on during long runs and races. With such a sweet tooth, I’m not sure how I keep these in stock at home. I did a review last year, and naturally my favorite was and still is Lemon Lime. Best packet for long runs? That definitely has to be the assorted pack. This year they’ve introduced Extreme Pomegranate and Extreme Assorted.

Sport Bean Flavors

Sport Bean Flavors

Favorite Nuun – It’s no surprise that my favorite Nuun is Lemon Lime. Lemon Lime has always been my thing, and Nuun does it perfectly. They recently came out with Nuun Energy, which keeps the refreshing taste of the lemon lime flavor, but adds caffeine to stay hydrated and awake all day. Can you say perfection?

How do you make Lemon Lime better? Add caffeine!

How do you make Lemon Lime better? Add caffeine!

So here’s my chance to share the love of one of my favorite things. The awesome folks at Nuun are joining in on my birthday month and letting one lucky winner pick their favorite Nuun 4 pack for themselves! Here are the rules:

  • The contest will run from Friday, April 18th to Thursday April 24th, ending at 9:00 EST.
  • A winner will be randomly picked and announced on the blog on Friday, April 25th.
  • You may enter one time per option, leave a comment telling me which options you choose.

Here’s how to enter!

Good luck and stay hydrated!

Akron Marathon Training: Week Nine

This week couldn’t have gone better if I tried. After last week’s long run was cut short, I was nervous about getting injured, worn down or coming to a wall in my training. Luckily that wasn’t the case. I started off the week by breaking in my new shoes. I had one last pair of the Asics Gel 1160 in the back of my closet and decided it was time to break them in. It felt good to run in a new pair of shoes, but I wasn’t quite satisfied with the support on my arch. Thursday I pulled out my second pair of new shoes, the Asics GT-2000. The moment I put them on, they hugged my feet and was reaffirmed that these are the perfect shoes for me. With less than two months to go, I’ll have just enough time to break in the shoes and get them ready for race day.

Asics Gel 1160 & GT-2000

Asics Gel 1160 & GT-2000

Monday: Off

Tuesday: 2 Miles

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: 3 Miles

Friday: Off

Saturday: 20 Miles

Sunday: Off

Total Miles: 25 Miles

I’m still not quite sure what to say about Saturday’s run,  but let’s start at the beginning. I had 16 miles on the schedule and was looking forward to running. I had decided I would join some of the MCRR members in a group run at Bonnie Park. I’d only been there once before so new scenery would be inviting. I was also looking forward to running with a new group, hoping that conversation would help keep my mind off the miles. The run was split up into three out and backs of 5 miles. The pace was set at 11:00, but I somehow found a way to pick it up on my way back each time.

I felt great the entire time and kept my hydration and fueling system in check.

  • Take a sip of water every mile
  • Refill my water after every 5 miles
  • Take a salt tab every 5 miles
  • Each two Sport Beans every 5 miles

I knew I’d have to do an additional mile after everyone was done, but when another women mentioned she was running 18, I decided I’d join her. I was still feeling pretty good, despite that the temperature was heating up. We came back to the parking lot just at my Garmin beeped for 18 miles. At this point I was at a cross roads. I still felt pretty good, and the thought had crossed my mind to try for 20. I knew it was on schedule for this next week, but running an additional 7 miles after a half marathon seemed a lot harder than finishing 2 miles right here. So I started off and knew I only  had to make it one mile and I could turn around for the home stretch. Those last two miles flew by and I could feel myself speed up the closer I got to my car. I finished the run with a “sprint” and heard the most amazing sound, the Garmin’s beep of a 20 mile run.

So much more than 20 miles

So much more than 20 miles

I was in complete awe of what I had finished. My first 20 mile training run and a milestone in my running. I had only seen 20 miles on my Garmin once, and that was during Columbus. But the last time my watch was sitting at 20 miles, I was in a breakdown in a port a potty in the Columbus marathon. At the 20 mile mark in Columbus, I wanted to give up, I wanted to stop, and I wanted to throw away running forever. This time when my watch clocked 20 miles, I felt so strong, so happy and craving more. This was the run that meant everything, and this was the run that almost nothing can beat.

I came home and took an ice bath like a champ wimp, forgetting how awful they felt, but remembered how good they are. For the record, an ice bath by yourself in a bathtub isn’t nearly as fun as an ice bath with your team in garbage cans outside of coach’s office. I followed up with my ProCompression socks, a 500 calorie cinnamon roll and a 20 minute nap. Still in shock of what I had run that morning, I tried to hold on that runner’s high as long as I could.

What I learned:

  • I missed running with a group. The miles fly by, and you learn so much. I ran with someone training for their first half marathon to a few ultra runners, and everyone in between.
  • The Asics GT-2000 are my go to shoe. Finding the perfect shoe for your feet make all the difference in the world.
  • Proper hydration, fueling and pace can help you go any distance, you just have to want it.
  • Nothing compares to the runner’s high after a perfect run. I’m still holding on to it, hoping I see it again soon.

Run Rave

It’s been a while since I shared a few of my favorite things, so I think it’s time to bring it back. Lately I’ve been totally crushing on a few new items I’ve added to my running wardrobe. I didn’t really need to add anything, but once I did,  I can’t believe I went so long without them. My first purchase and probably most surprising to me, was a hat. Because I have a tiny head and face, I’ve never been able to find one that fits. I have the same problem with sunglasses, and pants..and well, pretty much everything. But thanks to a gift card at Vertical Runner, I was able to buy one without the full guilt on spending money on something I wouldn’t wear.

asics.com

asics.com

I love this hat, no only because it’s Asics, but it shield my eyes from the once in a while sunny run. I even had plans of wearing it during rain in Austin when there was a 40-60% chance of precipitation during the 3M Half Marathon. Unfortunately, I left it at home and was on a search to find a new hat. And a great hat was found!

newbalance.com

newbalance.com

My first New Balance purchase, I found this gem at a local Austin running shop. For just around $30, I found something that can cover my head, and light my way while running. Underneath the brim of the hat are two set of lights, perfect for those early morning or late night runs. I’ve used it a few times and felt so much safer when dodging potholes. Two great hats that I’ve added to my collection. Maybe I’ll become a hat fanatic now….

Hat models

Hat models

For the first time in at least 8 years, I wore something other than my Nike Tempo Shorts. After browsing online for a cute pair of shorts I discovered the Asics’s ARD shorts. The first time I tried them in Austin, I fell in love. The material is so light and breathable, I felt like I had nothing on. Luckily, I did. They also weren’t as obnoxiously bright like many of my other shorts. I’m pretty sure they also make me look fast.

Focus on the shorts, not the "Proof"

Shorts & Hat in action! (Also, great race picture!)

As soon as I returned from Austin, I was on the hunt for more. I came across my February find for clothing and picked out a new pair with just a touch of pink. They also have a nice little zip pocket on the back, perfect for Gu or an iPod. Hands down these are my new favorite shorts and I can’t wait to try them out in 90 degree weather to see how they hold up.

The perfect shorts

The perfect shorts

One of my absolute favorite additions is my new running shoe. Since I can remember I’ve been running with the Asics Gel 1000 series. They’ve always fit me well and provided enough stability and comfort I had no reason to try another shoe. Until back in October when I ventured into the Asics booth at the Columbus marathon and fell in love with my new running partner.

Hello beautiful GT-2000

Hello beautiful GT-2000

Light weight, foot fitting and comfort beyond belief. I had a hard time removing my feet from the shoe and couldn’t wait to try them out. Over the past couple of months I’ve had a chance to try them out and have run almost every single run in these shoes. For a price point of $120, they are worth every single penny. From running through snow, gravel, track and treadmill, they’ve held up under every condition. From 1 mile to 13.1 miles, I never regretted wearing them for any distance. And while I still have a shiny new pair of the Gel 1600 in my closet, I think it may be a while before I lace those up.

And now, something non clothing related, and probably what I’m most excited about….a half  marathon in Medina! I could not be happier that I will get to run a half marathon in my own backyard. I’ve already run about 75% of the course in the past 6 months, so I think I have a great feel for what to expect. I recently found out about this race, and while it is bound to be hilly, hot and possibly humid, there is nothing more exciting than running a race in its first year. But actually, there is. This year, the race is free and will be put on by a bunch of local clubs and businesses. So mark your calendars for May 25th and and get ready to run!

More info: https://www.facebook.com/medinahalf.marathon?sid=0.964994641811798

Course Map

Course Map