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!

Perfecting imperfections

This past Sunday was the 12th annual River Run Half Marathon through the Cleveland Metro Parks. I picked this race months ago because of my love of running through the parks. Of course my version of the parks were the trails and smaller distances. The whole experience was a good one, I had small difficulties to overcome, but in the end, it was a great way to honor those who were lost on 9/11 ten years ago.

Packet pick up was my first small panic of the race. I was confused about my “bus ticket” and realized it was only a smiley face on my race bib, thanks to those on Twitter. I also noticed that my shirt I received was a few sizes too big. Not too worried, since this happens most of the time, but once in a while I hope that a shirt will actually fit. I also picked up my inserts for my arches from my parent’s house so I’d have some support. The same inserts I haven’t worn in over a year and was going to try out during the race.

He knows the drill

For the first time that I can remember, I wasn’t nervous about the race. I was more nervous the night before, when I started thinking about the distance and the much shorter distances I had been training. Confession, the farthest I’ve run since the Cleveland half was 4 miles…once in July, and once in August. My plan was to get to 10 miles  by August but then my knee gave out. So I was pretty much going in blind, telling myself I was going to run 13.1 after doing horrible training.

I started out with a good pace. First mile was 9:57. Honestly I wasn’t asking for a PR in this race. I missed the second mile marker, but read that there was a water stop at mile two. When I looked down at the first water stop and saw that it had already been 25 minutes, I was completely confused on how I added an extra 5 minutes that early in the race. Luckily I was wrong, and I was at 29 minutes by the third mile. This was also about the same time that my one working headphone blew out so I could barely hear my music.

I took this as an opportunity to really focus on my running. I was expecting to get several cramps within the next few miles so I took the advice everyone as given me and focused on my breathing. My legs were feeling good (no knee issues yet!) and I wanted to see how far I could get without hitting the wall. Around mile seven I was definitely in need of some sports drink. The running gods were looking out for me and I was happily chugging down water and Gatorade at mile eight. I was feeling great until about 100 feet from mile 9. Goodbye anything in my stomach. This added a minute to my time, but I was determined to keep going. I did 9 miles in just under an hour and a half. Right on time for a 2:10 finish (5 minutes faster than Cleveland) This got me thinking of somehow getting a PR, so I decided I’d try to quicken my pace. Again, this wasn’t a good idea, and I was off to the side, added more wasted minutes to my time.

Mile 11 I officially gave up getting a PR, my legs hit the wall and I was ready to finish. Those next two miles were rough, and it was the first time I walked all race. I walked during water breaks because I can’t run and drink at the same time, but to me those didn’t count as actually “walking” during the race. The highlight of the race was the finish. I was about 25 feet from the finish and of course, got sick again. The biggest puker award goes to me! This isn’t the first time I’ve lost it at the end of the race, but definitely the first time I did it during a race. I finished with a time of 2:21:32.

I was a bit emotional when I crossed the line, but I held it in. I was a little upset with how I did, but for lacking on training, I’m still pretty proud of myself. I was also really excited to get to the finish line because Darren was finally going to see me run. Yes, it was long over due, but apparently running isn’t as fun to watch as football, I beg to differ.

My support system

Overall it was a great race. I was able to really focus on my running because I wasn’t nervous or trying to get a PR, at least most of the time. My legs and knee held up most of the race, but without training, I was expecting my body to give in a lot sooner. Each race  I know I’ll learn something new to help me compete the best to my ability. But for now, I guess I’m addicted since I came back for more.

Half number two, in the books

Call me Crazy…

Friends, family and coworkers have called me crazy for running a half marathon. They ask what’s chasing you to make you run that far. Why would you want to run any distance remotely close to that. I must be crazy, but aren’t all runners?

Thinking back to May, a few days before my first half, I was a nervous wreck. I had nightmares and would panic every time I thought of running 13.1 miles at one time. But here I am, two days away from my second half marathon, the River Run Half Marathon, and I’m in a completely different mind frame. I know what to expect and I know how I’m going to feel. But I also know how great it will be to cross that finish line and say I ran 13.1 miles. Again.

I’m not in as good as shape as I’d like to be. The whole Mastick knee incident put a small hiccup in my training, but I’m not going to let that get me down on Sunday. I haven’t decided on a time either. I don’t have enough half marathons under my belt to really tell what a good time is going to be for me to aim towards. However, I’m really excited for the race. It’s through the Cleveland Metro Parks, which I love. And it’s on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, so I can guarantee it’s going to be a very special race. I’ll be wearing my red and white shorts along with my blue shirt to show my support.

So if you happen to be wide awake Sunday from 8-10am and have nothing else to do, come on down to the metro parks and support your favorite runner 😉