Virtual Events (Yes, you actually have to run/walk/crawl/ruck)

 

Virtual events are a hot new trend in the racing world. I wholeheartedly support it and look forward to its continued growth.

So, what is this whole concept?

You sign up (shockingly, online) and are e-mailed or mailed a bib and whatever other goodies the race offers. (Some send the medals ahead of time, others only when you report your time).

You are given a start and end date to run your chosen distance. You then run it however you want during that time. Most of the longer races let you decide of you want to break up the race or not. The shorter races (5ks) typically say all mileage in one shot.

Again, I wholeheartedly support them for several reasons: It’s a fun event to get people out there working the pavement (or the treadmill, trail, etc). It’s also great for people who are frankly nervous about running/walking in an in-person race. You compete with who you want, even if it’s only yourself and I think that can really help people who don’t have the racing bug to find it.

I personally run them for several reasons: 1) motivation…. it gets my butt off the couch! 2) raise money for a cause 3) FLEXIBLE fun. My schedule is nutty so participating in a virtual race gives me some flexibility.

I’ve heard people gripe that it’s bad that it’s on the honor system, etc. but if you cheat, you’re really only cheating yourself. If you’re the guy whose buying medals instead of earning them (seriously?!?), you’re the one who has to live with that.

My one piece of advice is to look for the races that require some form of reporting-portals, mapmyrun, photos, etc. I think those types add a level of accountability and motivation.

Feel free to ask me any questions and I’d love to hear your impressions of the concept.

 

The FlipBelt – One Of My Favorite Things 

I don’t write about gear very often, but this is a piece of gear I have to talk about.  For the record, I bought this on my own and have recieved no compensation for this write up.  

Ok, back to the good stuff.

Bottom Line Up Front: The FlipBelt is a fitness band/tech holder that is a belt like fabric pouch that fits close to your body and can handle everything from phones to IDs to keys.  

I’m in love.  

Here is why: 

I workout in a manner that I needs my hands free.  I do weird workouts that involve jumping, running, rolling around, picking up logs, and other shenanigans.  I am also addicted to music, especially when working out.  I’m one of those annoying people that uses a million apps to track my workouts (yup, I’m that gal….).  I have a huge phone. Said phone does all of the tracking and music fun I previously spoke of. 

So this leaves me with several dilemmas.   I need my phone on me when I work out. NEED, I TELL YOU!  I need it easily accessible (touch screen included) and I need it to be relatively safe.  I hate how my arm sweats with an arm band phone holder.  Plus, I can’t reach the screen easily to add data (gotta track reps!).  I don’t like bulky hip packs that bounce around when I run. 

Then I can across the FlipBelt.  I think I saw it on a FaceBook ad.  It caught my eye because it came in green (so important).  It ran about twenty bucks total and it seemed worth the risk.  I am glad I took the risk.  

The FlipBelt is great.  It fits right around my waist so there is no bouncing or sliding around, no matter what silly exercise I am doing.  I have put my iPhone 6s, my ID, and a house key in the belt and it fits just fine.  It stretches to fit everything while keeping it secure.  There is a bonus key hook for added protection against it falling out.  

Sporting the Flip Belt. I had just taken out the phone (I mean, I had to snap a photo! :))

It also allows me to easily pull my phone (aka nerd box/enabler of my tracking data obsession) so that I can track between sets or change my music.  

Finally, I get my gear dirty. I roll in the dirt.    It’s what I do.  I’ve simply thrown the belt o to the washer and then the dryer and its come out clean and in perfect condition.   

I went with green because, well it’s green.  I have a 36ish inch waist and the Medium is perfect for me.  

I’m a big fan and would reccomend this piece of gear to anyone who needs to tote small items on a run, in the gym, or while climbing through the woods because you got lost when you decided to leave the trail……

I purchased mine from the FlipBelt website (https://flipbelt.com).  Shipping was fast.  I also ordered a water bag from the site as well.  It didn’t work for me and so I requested a return. The return process was super easy.  All around great customer service.  

Bravo to this company for an awesome product. 

100 Mile Party – Fitness on Road Trips 

I love to drive places and I do it often.  At least once a month I haul a few hundred miles to Atlanta for the Navy.  I have been known to drive twelve hours each way to a race without thinking twice.

Driving makes me happy.  This is for a few reasons.  1) I hate flying.  It is a hassle and I have an irrational fear and deep control issues.  2) I love the adventures I have while driving.  3) I have a tradition called the 100 mile party.  This tradition helps break up my drive and encourages me to get some fitness squished in where ever possible.
So let me tell you about the 100 mile party.  It was born out of driving from Ohio to Florida with two small kids.  It’s hard to do and we needed to not be miserable during the drive.  So we carefully monitored the odometer and every 100 miles we stopped at the nearest rest area or exit area.  The kids got to pick a physical activity – play on the playground, run circles around the building, whatever, and one treat from the gas station or vending machine. It broke up the drive and it was really fun.  The kids loved keeping track of the miles and knowing there was a goal to be reached.

I decided to keep up this tradition, even when I drive alone. Every 100 miles I stop and do some form of physical activity and usually find a GeoCache.  I have done everything from burpees to yoga to run up and down hills.  I normally get strange looks, occasionally get quizzed by officers, and I always have fun.

Push Up Challenge in a Georgia rest stop.
Push Up Challenge in a Georgia rest stop.

This is just one idea to add more fitness to your life, be more safe while driving (getting tired behind the wheel is  DANGEROUS) and make a boring drive much much better.

Go Forth and Be Epic, my friends!!!!

Quick Tip For The Day – Smoothie Prep and Yoga Pose

I love fresh and organic food.  I love saving money by buying in bulk.  I love the co-op I belong to who always delivers a crud ton of greens.  I get really annoyed when I don’t eat my food fast enough and it goes bad.  (Insert moment of guilt for my first world gripe)

I only make one or two smoothies a day, I travel a lot, food tends to go bad quickly for me, but I love to save money buying large amounts from local sources.  This really applies to greens.  They are great in smoothies but I hate when they get all slimy.  I had a huge tub of mixed greens that I didn’t want to waste, so after a quick google search I blended them up and froze them.  Success!  I highly recommend it to save time and money!

Thank you to Green Thickies for pointing me in the right direction.  I did not follow their directions to the letter….I just kept stuffing greens in the blender, adding a cup of water, blending, and then repeating until I had no more greens.  Poured in a muffin tin, froze for two days (I totally forgot about them prior to a short trip) and then popped them out and put them in freezer bags.  EASY PEASY!  I tried one this morning with my strawberry banana concoction (I am so bad at following actual recipes) and it worked like a dream and even helped thicken up the mix a bit.

VISUAL PROOF OF SUCCESS

Smoothie Muffins!
Smoothie Muffins!

On a separate note, this week’s yoga pose takes us back to the basics – Downward Facing Dog.  Here is what I look like one day one.  I’ve already done some reading on how to correct my form and I look forward to developing this week.  My personal goal is to get my heels down without losing form.  Check back in a week for my Yoga Pose of the Week summary!

Start of the Week
Start of the Week Progress Photo

Arm Pit Bruises – Why I Keep Running Spartan Races

Slippery Wall: A OCR obstacle in which you climb up an inclined wall, using a rope. Normally you are covered in mud and very wet while trying to accomplish this.

Google “Spartan Slippery Wall”, watch the YouTube videos, chuckle.

A brief history of my experience with the slippery wall:

Indiana 2013: burpeed out of the slippery wall because I was a big pansy.

PACNW 2013: fell off the slippery wall. Three times. Secretly cried a little.

Wintergreen 2013: It’s a blur. Think I did the slippery wall.

Tampa 2014: had to be pushed and pulled over the slippery wall.

Charlotte 2014: got my squirley butt over the slippery wall all by myself and I have the armpit bruise to show it.

See:

20140322-193001.jpg

Sexy, huh?

I jest. But in reality, the armpit bruise really does sum up why I keep doing one brand of OCR, Spartan Race, over and over. I am a huge fan of any physical event that encourages people to get up and do things, and I run every OCR/Mud Run I can. But I keep coming back to Spartan Race. While I don’t review Spartan races individually, (frankly, in most cases, you’ve read one review, you’ve read them all) I realized that I keep coming back to Spartan for several reasons….all of them summed up with my armpit bruise.

That bruise represents my experience with Spartan Race – the uniqueness of every race experience, the connection of Spartan Racers, and the sense of accomplishment that every race brings.

Raise Your Hand if You’ve Ever Had an Armpit Bruise

I’m guessing that not a lot of you raised your hands. I’ve been racing for a year and I’d never had one. While bruises are standard fare for most racers, where you have them and how you got them are never the same from race to race.

Spartan Race is a lot like that. If you’ve run any of their races before, you have a general idea of what the obstacles are going to be, but you can never be quite sure how and where they will appear.  Some people have asked me how I keep from being bored running the same race over and over.  It’s NOT the same race, no matter how many times you’ve run it.  This means you have an odd combination of comfort of the familiar and terror of the unknown.

You know you’re going to have bruises – your’re just not sure where they will come from or where they will end up.

How do you treat an armpit bruise?

I have found that Spartans have a strange bond.  We share information and hold each other to standards I just haven’t experienced in many other environments.  We help each other.

There is a level of camaraderie that is prevalent throughout the community, both on and off the course. Need pushed over a wall? A true Spartan will be there to for you. Need a ride to the venue? Just post on Facebook and people you’ve never met will roger up. Not sure how to treat an armpit bruise? Ask around. Someone will offer up helpful advice.

Spartan Race is so established that we have come to learn that we can lean on our fellow Spartans.  We trust and like each other for many reasons, not the least of which is because if you dare call yourself a Spartan, you will be expected to live up to the name.

Does Your Best Friend have an Armpit Bruise?

More importantly, does your best friend appreciate your armpit bruise?

All OCR competitors probably appreciate the idea of the armpit bruise, but the Spartan community takes it even further. We are like those guys who drive the same kind of car…..you give a little nod in respect when someone in a Spartan shirt walks by.

Spartans love our marks earned on and off the course.  From tattoos to bruises to my favorite, here is where the barbed wire got me (inside right elbow, Indiana Sprint 2013), Spartans are joined by a shared experience.  This is because it is so established that we can understand, emphasize and live vicariously through other racers, even if we weren’t with them on that particular course.

When you brag about an armpit bruise, Spartan Racers will high five you and say “let me see!” (I am betting most of my Non OCR friends will scrunch their nose and cock their heads in a questioning look.)

Armpit Bruise: A Badge of Honor

This armpit bruise represents the best things about Spartan Race – Conquering things I have failed at before.  Like I said, I love doing small and unique OCR’s but one great thing about Spartan is that I am able to re-do and grow on obstacles that I have been unable to conquer before.  I’ve never had an armpit bruise before because this was the first time I’ve thrown my own body up and and over that wall, unassisted (My calves are a hilarious mess too).  I conquered something that I was intimidated by and that I had failed, multiple times.

I run Spartan Races because it gives me a tangible goal each race I run.  I can’t get bored with the race because not only is the terrain different each time, I always have an obstacle to slay.  The feeling I feel less than one year after my first Spartan Race is indescribable.  I failed over half the obstacles my first race.  Hated almost every minute of the darn thing.  Now, failure of an obstacle is getting more and more rare.  And now I love every minutes of the darn thing. Ok, ok, ALMOST every minute of the darn thing.

Next up – the rope climb……I wonder where that bruise is going to be?

 

Why I Don’t Own a Scale…(and pretentiously yell at my friends who do)

I am going to start this post like a lawyer…I am not a doctor, nurse, nutritionist, etc. I am just a female on a journey to push her body to unknown lengths and run with the big girls (aka – elites) in 2015. This is only my opinion and is not intended as medial advice. Frame of reference, I am about five feet, eleven inches tall and sit around 155 pounds.

I don’t own a scale. I weigh myself only when the Navy orders me to do so. I think for most people the scale is demotivating, unrealistic, and unhealthy.

Here is why:

Numbers freak people out

I can’t tell you how many times I have had friends get discouraged because the number on the scale went up or didn’t change. They’ve put in a ton of work, they can run further and faster then they ever could, they can do more push ups then they knew was possible. They FEEL better then they ever have. But all that good goes out the window when they see that number. They get disheartened and lose motivation. If they didn’t own a scale, that wouldn’t happen to most of them. They could take joy in their accomplishments and celebrate how they feel instead of freaking out on the ups and downs of the numbers.

Who cares what you weigh if you can’t keep up?

I was heavy in high school. I dropped some of the weight and looked decent until about two years ago. I then went through a divorce and because I unfortunately deal with stress and depression by completely loosing my appetite, I dropped down to 110 pounds. In my opinion, I looked gross. I could barely walk up a flight of stairs.

I got through the crud and put weight back on and look better and feel better then I did at 110.

Sitting at about 155 pounds, I now run Spartan Races and any OCR (see here for what the heck that is) I can find. I even ran a darn Ultra Marathon (“RUN” is open to interpretation….I more like hobbled a 50K). I also frolic around the neighborhood wearing weight vests and do burpees for fun. I could NOT have done thia when I was “Skinny”.

Muscle is Heavy

More muscle = more weight. Plain and simple. The number on the scale can’t differentiate between fat and muscle weight. I want muscle, so I will naturally get some more poundage. The scale would tell me that I am “heavy”. Boo on that.

My advice – step way from the scale. The scale is a liar and has an unhealthy single minded focus.

Focus on how you feel, both physically and mentally. Set goals that have nothing to do with the scale and make logical and appropriate steps to meet those goals. Increase mileage, up your weight or reps, shoot to eliminate something like soda…..healthy choices.

If you want to run, jump, swim, and play, you have to eat and sleep and recover – none of which the scale can help you with.

My Race Timeline

I have run enough races at this point that I have realized I have a distinct, if not always planned, pattern. This is how I go about running races:

The night before, approximately 5pm – Eat anything I want because, heck, I’m racing tomorrow. Vaguely recall this being a bad idea. Ignore recollection.

One hour later – regret stuffing myself and mentally note, again, not to do this the next race.

The night before, approximately 10pm – Go to bed.

The night before, approximately midnight – Get up and make sure all the gear is ready.

Next five hours – remain wide awake, alternating between staring at the dark ceiling and pacing around the house.

Ten minutes before I HAVE to get up – fall into a deep sleep.

Time to get up – have a minor heart attack when alarm clock goes off.

Next hour – get dressed, make creative breakfast shake, head out door, drive at least ten minutes before realizing some essential item has been forgotten. Go get item. Start drive over.

Miss at least one turn or exit.

Get to site at least 45 minutes later then planned.

Check in/register. Explain how to pronounce my last name.

30 minutes before gun time – drink whatever pre-workout concoction
I learned about last week. Vaguely recall this being a bad idea. Ignore recollection.

25 minutes before gun time – start to “warm up”, notice my face is tingling.

20 minutes before gun time – make mental note, again, to stop trying new supplements on race day. Begin jumping up and down, walking in circles….nerves or supplement rush?

15 minutes before gun time – stuff into starting area. Still jumping.

10 minutes before gun time – feel extremely badarse. KNOW I am going to conquer!

2 minutes before gun time – panic. Start to recall every reason I shouldn’t be doing this – I’m not fast enough, strong enough, look how big her muscles are, I used to be FAT! Ahhhhhhhh.

Gun time – Forget every excuse I was just panicking over and remember that I’m badarse at my own level. Mentally scream Hoo Yah and start running!

First distance marker – feel amazing…..FULL of awesomeness.

Half way point – doubt my very existence. Wonder what the hell I was thinking. Start audibly whining that I’m never doing this crap again.

30 seconds later – mentally kick myself for being a pansy. Take a deep breath. Resume attempts at arsekickery.

Upon sight of finish line – find energy not normally known and sprint!

Cross finish line – grab one of every item of food handed out.

30 seconds after – find private spot to fold over and try not to puke. Look at food in hand with disgust.

5 minutes later – Inhale previously mentioned food.

5 minutes after that – drink beer while reaching for my toes….have to at least look like I’m stretching. Vaguely think about how I really need to stretch better. Something about always regretting it later. Ignore this recollection.

Eventually – “wash” off with whatever passes for a shower/hose/fire truck/bird bath.

Dry off: Cold weather- shiver until dry. Hot weather – lay on grass until dry.

Next – Wander around for changing tent….find none, so I engage my suriptious changing skills behind my car door. Flash neighboring car ONLY once or twice.

Start drive home.

15 minutes into drive – realize that my beer drinking “stretching”, once again, wasn’t effective. This realization occurs when every muscle tenses in unison.

Get home – FALL out of car and hobble into house….straight to the refrigerator.

Next ten minutes – eat until no more food can fit in my gullet.

***Post race amendment – Shower. Marvel at how many cuts and scrapes I have. None of which I could see or feel prior to scraping the mud off and rubbing soap over them. I am sure that anyone listening would hear alternating sounds of curse words and hissing.

Grab laptop, collapse onto couch, sign up for every future race I can find (that I’m not already signed up for).

Repeat every two-three weeks.