Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Coming Full Circle

It feels as though I have come full circle with my running journey. Before I explain why, though, I should really update you all on what has been happening with my running. 

I feel pretty lazy for not having written more posts since last December, but I don't feel like I need to beat myself up about it. Life happens, as they say. During the first six months of 2018 I kept busy with a variety of different things, not the least of which was running. 

Even in January, I knew that for Thanksgiving this year my family would not be going out of town. I decided that I wanted to run a Turkey Trot, as it was sort of on my wish list for last year, but my family went out of town, and I couldn't find a race local to where we were. The search for such a race this year in Minnesota led me to the Minnesota Run Series. The Minnesota Run Series is a group, or series, if you will, of races all throughout the year. The first race is Goldy's Run in April, and the last race is the Reindeer Run in December. The MN Run Series offers a 4+ challenge that gives any participants in 4 or more races of the 8 race series a special hoodie. Since I knew I was already planning on running the Turkey Trot, I convinced myself, and my husband, that I should run three more races to complete the 4+ challenge. The other races I chose were Goldy's Run, the Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon, and the Lake Waconia Half Marathon.

In addition to signing up for the above listed MN Run Series half marathons, I had also tentatively planned on running the Urban Wildland Half Marathon again this year, since it falls on a weekend that my husband already takes vacation from work. I felt that, in addition to a couple of 5k races, my running season would be challenging but not impossible. So early this year, my tentative race schedule was as follows:

April 8—Goldy's 10 mile 
May 6—Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon
May 21—SBMFD Fit2Fight 5k Fun Run
June 2—Lake Waconia Half Marathon 
July 28—Urban Wildland Half Marathon
September 29—Panther Foundation 5K
November 22—Turkey Trot: Saint Paul. 

It was definitely a well-rounded schedule that would hopefully keep my motivation and training on track.

While I did use the treadmill a small amount at the beginning of the year, once I signed up for Goldy's Run, I decided that I should train outside as much as possible, since I was well aware that an April race could bring any sort of weather.

I never ran in any extremely difficult conditions between January and April. Some runs were obviously colder than others. There was one particular run on April 3, during which it was snowing pretty heavily. As I ran throughout my neighborhood, I came across someone walking a dog. The man made a comment about my running in the snow, and I simply told him that weather didn't stop training. In my mind, for some reason, I had this vision of my training being for a marathon. I imagined what it would feel like to cross a finish line after 26.2 miles, and the thought honestly put a little more pep in my step.

A snowy run on April 3, 2018.
Now, I'm not saying that I was anxious to sign up for a marathon after that training run. I simply felt that, someday, likely years away, I would love to experience the feeling of completing 26.2 miles.

Fast forward to June. Folks in the running community likely know about Global Running Day. For those of you who may not have heard of it, it's pretty much exactly what the name implies. It's an annual event held on the first Wednesday of June that celebrates the sport of running. Every year, various running groups hold contests on Global Running Day. I like to enter contests. I tend to win things. This year a company called Motigo asked for runners to post a photo which answered a specific question that asked anything from "What's your favorite race?" to "Miles so far this year." I think I answered the "Miles so far this year" question and submitted it with a photo to their contest on June 6, 2018.

On June 10, I was sitting with my family waiting for fireworks to start for an annual local celebration. I checked my email. I was shocked when I read the following:

Hi there!
Congratulations!! You've won an entry to the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon
for participating and posting your picture for Global Running Day.

Say what?! I won an entry to a marathon?! An entry that normally costs $150.00?! I really wasn't sure how I felt about it at first. I asked my husband to check his vacation availability the next time he went in to work. When he told me that he had enough vacation, and the vacation calendar was open for October 7, I got really excited. Then I contacted my physical therapist to ask him if a marathon was something I could realistically complete. Once I got the okay from him, and once my husband put his name on the vacation calendar, I officially signed up for the marathon. I had 17 weeks to train. 

One of my biggest deciding factors for signing up, other than the free entry, was that I am currently in the best shape that I have been in since having kids. If there was going to be any year to commit to the time it takes to train for a marathon, this was it. And, my husband agreed. 

So, here we are 17 weeks of training later. I have one more training run before the marathon. I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I felt like I'd come full circle with my running. This is why: I really became hooked on running after I had won an entry to a local 5k.  Now here I am, preparing to run my first marathon on an entry that I won. Very few people can say they were fortunate enough to win a single race entry, let alone two. The only reason I am running the marathon this year is because of the free entry, and the free entry to that 5k in 2016 is one of the main reasons I started running. 

I don't necessarily plan on winning any more race entries in the future. I'm not even sure that I plan on running any more marathons. I guess I'll save that decision until after I finish on Sunday. Until then, I can say that the act of training for a marathon has shown me that I can do anything I set my mind to. And, honestly, I now understand why people pay $150.00 to run 26.2 miles. The experience of the training alone has been worth that price. 

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

All Hail the Ambassador

Despite the fact that I've been running for more than 2 years, I still consider myself a bit of a newbie. I'm not hip to all of the different brands of activewear, hydration packs, GPS watches, or headphones. I wrote a post last year, Get Into Gear, that talked about the different gear I had at the time and also about my desire to become an ambassador for something. Well, last month my friend and fellow runner started selling Zyia Active. She asked me if I would be interested in becoming an ambassador to help spread the word. Of course, I took her up on the offer. 

Zyia is a fairly new company. They were founded in February 2017 by three women. The company started out primarily geared toward woman, and it largely still is, but in one of their recent "new release Wednesdays," they introduced some men's items. 

I've never been an activewear "snob." I've been content to buy shirts or capris at my local big-box stores. I have remained pretty brand loyal to Champion and C9, but that's only because I do a fair amount of my shopping at Target. I've also bought activewear at Walmart, Kohl's and Dick's Sporting Goods. I've been in a few high-end activewear stores, but only because I had to pick up a race packet. I've looked at the prices on the items in those stores and thought, "No way!" It wasn't until I was introduced to Zyia that I didn't scoff at the price tag. I somehow ended up on a Zyia reps Facebook page and I won a gift card to her shop. I decided to buy a pair of Zyia's Light n Tight Hi-Rise Capris 2. I didn't even wash them once they arrived in the mail—that's how excited I was to try them. I put them on and went for a run. I can honestly say that they are the first pair of capris that I've ever run in that I didn't have to adjust AT ALL! They are made of a 4-way stretch fabric that also offers compression. The Light n Tight Capris 2 have pockets on each leg and come in a variety of colors and patterns. Zyia also has other styles of capris and, as mentioned before, there are new releases every week.

In addition to buying the capris, I decided I needed to get a tank top to match them. I ended up getting one of Zyia's Copper Charged Tanks. As stated on Zyia's website, their Copper Charged collection "incorporates a technology that infuses copper yarn to help block odors during the toughest performance activity through its anti-microbial properties." The tank is super lightweight and breathable, and I don't feel gross in it no matter how much I sweat.

Shortly after my initial Zyia purchase, my friend Christina became an independent Zyia representative.  That was when she offered to provide me an outfit in exchange for my promoting it. Given how much I already liked my Zyia pieces, I had no problem agreeing to Christina's proposal. 

The pieces that I selected were the Gray Track Shorts and the White Twist Tank. The first pair of shorts that Christina sent me ended up being a little small. The Gray Track Shorts are an item that Zyia actually recommends sizing up on. Oops. Christina sent me my new size and they fit like a dream. 

The White Twist Tank is super comfy.  It features an opening in the back to help with ventilation and twisted straps, which are a nice touch to jazz up an otherwise plain white shirt. 

The first time I wore the outfit was for a seven-mile training run. I cannot say enough good things about the shorts. They are the most comfortable shorts I've ever run in. They have a long enough inseam so as to cover my thighs and prevent rubbing, but I also didn't have to adjust or fix the shorts even once during my training run. It was awesome. 

The tank was comfortable. It's made of a heavier material that holds sweat, but I couldn't really feel the dampness of the shirt while I was running. After my training run the tank was soaked, but I didn't have any complaints about it. 

It wasn't until I wore the shorts and tank for a race that I discovered I could say a few more things about them. I wore my Zyia outfit for the RBC Race for the Kids half marathon on August 4, 2018. It was a disgustingly humid day, and it actually rained toward the end of the race. My shorts didn't let me down at all. Surprisingly, they seemed to be dry during the whole run, even though every other part of me was drenched. I might have to get another pair of the shorts, because I love them that much.

The Twist Tank gave me some issues at the half marathon distance. Sometime shortly after mile ten of the race, I noticed I had terrible chafing on the underside of my arm. I've never had an issue with chafing before. The thickness of the shirt and the wetness caused by the humidity and the rain is what I attribute to have been the cause of the problem.

I'm not saying that the Twist Tank from Zyia is a bad shirt. The first time I tried it on I loved it because it was so comfortable. However, it might not be the best shirt for running 13 miles in. I didn't have any issues running 7 miles in it, though. A better option for longer distances would be a tank from their Copper Charged collection that I mentioned earlier. In the future, I think I'll be more inclined to wear my Twist Tank for short runs or cross-training or just for lounging around.

The Track Shorts, on the other hand, might just be the only shorts I wear for races from here on out. Aside from the fact that they are ridiculously comfortable, I also love that there's a small zippered pocket that I can put my keys in. Currently, the Track Shorts come in Gray and Green. But if you can't find something you like on the website now, you only have to wait a week to see some new items. The Zyia operation is a pretty small one, so if you do see something you like you better snatch it up. Items seem to sell out pretty quickly, and there are no guarantees that they will be restocked.

If you have any questions about Zyia, you can check out Christina's Facebook pageInstagram, or independant representative page. Let her know that I sent you, and you'll get 10% off your first order.

Hopefully, there will be more ambassadorships in my future. On the top of my list of companies I want to be an ambassador for are SPIbelt and PRO Compression. But, for now, I'm honored to be a Zyia ambassador.

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