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!

A Day of Celebrations

I woke up Sunday for the Sandy Ridge Half Marathon with only a few hours of sleep and a stomach ache. I was not feeling the race at all. I even had bad dreams about it, so I was really wishing I could have stayed in bed all day. But I got to the race, and that’s the toughest part. I didn’t have a certain time I wanted to get, at this point, I was just hoping I would make it to the finish line. I was really surprised with how small the turnout was and a little nervous this would make me slow down later on when everyone was spread out.

Surprising when I started out I felt pretty good, my first mile was 9:40, my fastest mile in a half marathon yet! I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep this up the whole time, so I kept it at a steady 10 minute mile. Yes, it’s slow, but I’m not a pro at this. Around mile four it started getting real warm and I started getting the itch of wanting the race to be over soon. But I’m not a quitter, so I kept going. Somehow mile 8 came up real quick, almost to my old street! I had a great feeling, and even though my legs were getting sore, I was so excited to head down Long, experience it as a race and not just a regular run. Hoping that my parents would make it outside in time to see me, I came up to signs on both sides, writing on the street, and my family sitting in the driveway. I’ll admit, I did tear up, and I got the encouragement that I needed.

Making my way on to Detroit, I really felt the lag of last weeks race. My legs were getting tired and I was drained. I started thinking how crazy I was for running a second half just a week after the last one and I was 6 days away from another race. But my thoughts were quickly distracted when all of a sudden a small dog was running next to me. I was more worried he was going to get hit by traffic or end up too far from home and eventually just let him run next to me. This lasted for about two minutes, and for my first encounter with a dog, I’m glad it wasn’t a bad one.

Mile 11 came and I spent a lot of time thinking. Here I was this far in the race and I still hadn’t walked, my pace was ok, and my legs were falling apart. I really wanted to walk, but I had come this far, and I knew if I walked, I would be so disappointed. My pace dropped and I made it to mile 12, a water stop, and it was just what I needed. This was it, I was almost done and my time was still pretty good, I suddenly had some energy (not much) and I pushed through the pain to get to that finish.

Two hours, fifteen minutes and 54 seconds after I started, I finished. I ran my third half marathon, and my first without walking. I was also just a few seconds off from my PR, which to me, was a PR in its self. I received my finishers medal and I got a second medal for getting 1st in my age group, woohoo! A day that started off in all the wrong ways ended up pretty good. Not only did I end up doing pretty good in the race, it was my dad’s birthday, and the Packers won! A day of celebrations indeed.

What’s Next?

Now that I’ve started my fall races, it’s good to see what I have coming up so I can mentally prepare myself. Crazy, but after this past weekend’s half, I was considering doing the Sandy Ridge Half Marathon. I love the feeling after I finish a race, so yes this idea came up the day of the River Run. The reason I like the Sandy Ridge Half is because it’s close, but it also passes the house I grew up in. I remember watching runners go by for many years in this race. Plus I’d have a great cheering section from my parents. The decision is still undecided, but I have until Friday so I’ll see how this week goes.

In less than two weeks I’ll be doing the Akron Marathon Relay with some fellow Muskies! I’m sure you’ve seen a few of their posts about this race, don’t worry, mine will be coming up soon. I’m excited for this, it brings back memories of the mile relay, except the distance is a little longer, and apparently has more hills.

Then less than five weeks from now I’ll have to Columbus Half Marathon. I’m really looking forward to this once because I feel the River Run gave me some training so I’ll be more prepared. And I plan on doing some harder training before then as well.

After that I’ll be done for the year, unless anyone knows of any other races that I must sign up for. I’ll be getting ready for 2012 races: four half marathons!

And the question that I keep getting, now that I’ve done another half, am I intrigued by a marathon? Nope, still no desire, but the utmost respect for all of you marathoners!