Monday, June 26, 2017

Get Into Gear

When I started running, I was pretty bare bones. I had some custom NikeiD Free Run 5.0 shoes that I'd paid for with gift cards. They were several years old and hadn't been used for much running, though they had been used for working out. Other than that, I didn't have a lot of "running" gear. I had activewear, but much of it wasn't necessarily meant for running. My yoga pants, which had only been used for yoga a handful of times, did not stay up when I ran while wearing them. No one wants to constantly be yanking their pants up while they're running. I didn't have fancy sport headphones or a fancy GPS—just my Fitbit and my phone. But, I didn't have any place to put my phone while I ran. I didn't have any weather specific running gear, either. So, I was out of luck when it came to running in snow or rain. I did have a reflective belt from my military days, which I could use for running in low light.

When I started training, I would usually carry my phone in my hand. For my first race, the Fit2Fight, I wore a pair of longer shorts (I've never really been a short shorts kind of adult) and a wide strap sleeveless shirt. I used my phone for music and GPS tracking, but I kept it in my pocket, which is the reason I wore the shorts—they were my only active wear bottoms with a pocket.

The more I ran, the more I realized that I didn't like having my phone in my hand or my pocket. I learned that if I wanted to be able to increase my mileage, I might want to have a way to have water with me. I also learned that iPhone earbuds are not exactly running friendly. Basically, I learned that I needed to get some gear.

My first purchase was made from Steals.com. It was an inexpensive running waist pouch called a BAND-ITO. It claimed that it stayed put and it had three individual pockets for all of my necessities.

When I ran the Torchlight 5K, I was amazed at all of the different gear people had. Running skirts?! Running belts that you can attach your bib to so you don't have to use safety pins?! Sleeves that you wet with water to keep you cool?! Not to mention the GPS watches. And then there were the people who ran in costumes, which isn't necessarily qualified as gear, but is still pretty awesome to see.

I wore the BAND-ITO when I ran the Torchlight, but I ended up using safety pins to hold it down. It rode up more than I liked. It held my phone well enough, but the phone pocket was just a little too snug for my phone plus case so some of the stitching ripped. At least it was super inexpensive.

For my next race, the costumes were more extreme. The race was the Super Run, so the costumes were understandable but impressive all the same. It was pretty incredible to see the lengths that some people went to in order to look the part! I personally could not imagine running in some of the costumes I saw. For the Super Run, I was running with a jogging stroller, so I didn't bother wearing my waistband. I just kept my phone in the stroller.

After the Super Run I used my BAND-ITO for one more race, The Esprit de She. I was still irritated that I needed to use safety pins to keep it in place, but since I didn't have a lot of extra money to spend on a more high-tech belt, I was content with what I had.

I think it was around Labor Day that I saw a deal posted on Instagram. My friend, a fellow mother runner over at The Thrive Blog, was a SPIBelt ambassador and shared a special that SPIBelt was having. I researched SPIBelt and learned that I could use one of their H20 Companions if I wanted to run with water. I learned that they had bib toggles to hold race bibs. I liked the options, so I jumped on the deal. I've been using my SPIBelt for training runs and races ever since. For training, I rarely keep more than my phone in the SPIbelt. For races, I usually have my phone, lip balm, my ID, keys, and some cash. Once in awhile, I'll keep some running fuel in my SPIbelt, too. I don't generally put a lot in it because I don't need a lot. But as I train for longer distances, I know my SPIBelt will be there to keep my necessities close. I LOVE it.

I got some new shoes around that time, too. My NikeiD's were looking pretty worn. I ended up getting a pair of Nike Flex Runs. They were the best shoes I could afford and were pretty similar to the shoes I had, so I didn't have to worry about my gait being changed too much, which might result in injury.

It wasn't until earlier this year that I got new headphones. The iPhone earbuds hurt my ears and didn't stay put very well, but I lived with it because good running headphones are expensive, right? Wrong! Cue The Thrive Blog again. She posted a deal about her favorite headphones, Yurbuds. The price was so low, I was able to order a second pair as a gift for my neighbor. I loved how they stayed put while I ran, and I was super impressed with the sound.

I've used them for many training runs and a few races. I only recently upgraded to bluetooth headphones. My neighbor got a new pair of bluetooth headphones as a gift from her husband (apparently my gifts aren't good enough for her. Ha ha.) and she sent me a link for them. The deal was too hard to pass up. I'll still use my Yurbuds once in awhile, but for now I'm enjoying the cord free life entirely too much.

As far as running clothes go, I've gotten a handful of new running capris since I started running. My neighbor gave me a few pairs of hers that she no longer wore. I've lost enough weight that those no longer fit me. I enjoy running in capris but I'd like to try running skirts. I'm actually looking into making a sparkle-type skirt. Sparkle Skirts is a company that makes really fun running gear that is great for costumes. But, they are way out of my price range. I found a tutorial online, and since I'm handy with a sewing machine, I think I can make my own for much less money. I'm running a virtual race for Independence Day, and I would love to dress the part. There are prizes for posting on social media for the run and I figure a costume couldn't hurt my chances of winning something.

I'll need new shoes soon. Maybe I can ask Santa to bring me some. It's hard to believe that my shoes are only a year old, but you can only put so many miles on a pair of shoes before you start getting injuries due to worn out soles.

Running itself is a free sport. But, if you get serious about it and you want to have comfortable gear and avoid injury, it's going to cost you. In the near future, I'd like to apply to be an ambassador for a few different companies in the hopes that I'll get to try some new brands and maybe get some sweet swag. And, I'm always on the lookout for deals, whether on running gear or races. Someday, I'd love to run Ragnar or maybe even a marathon, and I'll probably have to set up a GoFundMe page to make that happen. I guess I've come a long way from the girl who thought people who paid to run were crazy.



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Happy Run-iversary!

May 23rd, 2017 marked my one-year running anniversary or "run-iversary." Yes, that's a thing. Don't judge me. May 23rd, 2016 was the day I ran my first race, The Fit2Fight 5K. If you've been following my journey, you may recall that I didn't really intend on running after that. I'm not going to rewrite my entire journey here, because you could just read my previous posts. In fact, if you haven't read them yet, you SHOULD read them.

In any case, to mark my run-iversary, I participated in the same race. The 2017 Fit2Fight was held on May 22. I spent the day prepping my body to run that night. I took a hot epsom salt bath, I did yoga, I hydrated, and I foam rolled. I also did those same things before I ran the TC One Mile and I ran my fastest mile time, ever. I figured that using the same routine for the 5K wouldn't hurt anything.

This year, since I'm a "seasoned runner" and not a beginner, I decided I could go by myself. Last year, my family came with to support me, even though it meant that my kids were missing softball practice. This year my kids went to practice. They need it. My neighbors were at the race, because one of them is a volunteer for the fire department that holds the race, and his wife is my running buddy. So, regardless of my family not being there, I wasn't alone. And also, since I've done several races now, I'm okay with going it alone. I've got my big girl pants on.

The race map online was the same route that we were supposed to run last year. I say supposed to because last year there was an issue that caused us to get rerouted, and the race ended up being only three miles as opposed to a full 5K. This year being the second year of the race, I assumed that things would be more organized. That wasn't exactly the case. The disorganization this year started with registration. When I signed up for the race online, there was an issue with the payment software so I wasn't able to pay. I also didn't bring my checkbook or cash with me to the race, and they couldn't take a credit card. Being such a small event, and my neighbor being a firefighter, they trusted me to pay my entrance fee later. My neighbor was supposed to come after me if I didn't. I paid it the next day, in case you're wondering.

The next issue was that the online registration software apparently had some problems and any runners who had previously registered online had to register again once we arrived at the race venue. What a hassle.

When the time came, the runners were ushered to the start. The national anthem was played this year. I'm not sure that I remember that happening last year. A few race rules were explained, and we were off with the sound of an air horn.

Once we got to the point where we were supposed to turn (according to the map), we did not. There were traffic cones on the road to indicate the route and those cones indicated that runners were to continue going forward. I suppose that I could have turned, but I would have led the runners behind me astray. I thought it was important to follow the people in front of me, so I did.

Speaking of the people in front of me, I was very surprised to find that there were not actually THAT many people in front of me. I was flying! I wasn't quite sure of my pace, since I started my GPS app early, but I knew I was doing well. Perhaps what was more surprising was how well I felt. For the speed that I was going, I probably should've been gasping for air. I wasn't. My pace felt really natural and that was exhilarating.

Somewhere after the water station and between miles two and three, there was a bit of course confusion. Runners were following a paved path next to the road. The path split, going straight or left. I could see the runners in front of me had turned left. So, why the confusion? The confusion came from a lone traffic cone that was on the path that went straight. Were runners supposed to go to that cone and turn around? The runners in front of me had not done that. And with no volunteers to give runners instructions, I had to just go with what the runners in front of me did. Perhaps next year there will be either arrows or volunteers to direct runners. Or, better yet, there could be arrows AND volunteers and the route could actually match the map that was on the website!

When I flew into the finish, the clock said 27:42. WHAT?! Then I looked at my GPS and learned that the race wasn't a full 5K. Damn. In fact, I came up with slightly under three miles. Maybe runners WERE supposed to loop that lone traffic cone. Still, I did not expect to finish in under 30:00, so my time came as a bit of a shock.

There were medals for top three male and top three female finishers. I never expected to be in the top three, and I wasn't. But, as far as I could tell, I was possibly the fifth female finisher. I'm really quite proud of that. Last year, runners were emailed official results along with a few stats about how many runners there were etc. This year, even three weeks later, I still haven't seen such a list. I think that perhaps the way the finish line was set up this year prevented those in charge from knowing an official time for anyone. Bummer. At least I know my approximate finish time, and I know I ran better than I did last year.

My plan at this point is to run this race every year that they hold it. Perhaps one year they will add chip time. Next year will be the third year of the race, and I hope that third time is a charm given all of the issues they had this year. And maybe, just maybe, third time will be a charm for me, and I will place in the top three. Given how well I ran this year, I think that is a definite possibility.