Running with Zwift

Disclaimer: I received a Zwift RunPod to use on Zwift running as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

I have talked here about how much I have enjoyed biking with Zwift over the past year.  Recently, Zwift has started Zwift running, where with a footpod, you can run on your treadmill and run on Zwift.  I first noticed this when I started seeing runners along the bike course.  It was always a little amusing when I was biking up a 15% grade and my avatar was barely moving and someone would come running past me. (But let’s be honest, that could happen in the real world as well.)

So when the opportunity came up to get a Run Pod from Zwift so I could try out the running option, I was in.

Zwift running is still in the early phases, so while you have to pay to bike on Zwift, running is completely free.  You just need a footpod that you can connect to your computer, tablet, or phone.  If you don’t have one, you can buy one from Zwift for $30, but a lot of runners already have footpods that will work.  Check out this list on Zwift.

I use Zwift on a 4-year-old iPad, with just the Zwift Run Pod, and I had no trouble connecting.  I know that some people with older tablets have had trouble connecting to Zwift, though the team at Zwift is incredibly helpful and will do their best to get you connected.  

I prop the iPad on my treadmill and use it that way.  As you can see, Zwift is also reading my heartrate.  I have a Scosche heart rate monitor that connects to Zwift, so I use it when I run on Zwift, as I like data.

I am a Galloway runner, so I run/walk, even when on the treadmill.  I wasn’t sure how well Zwift would read this.  I was pleasantly surprised.  While there’s a bit of a lag between the speed change of my feet and the speed change of the avatar, it pretty much keeps up.  Zwift didn’t always correctly read my speed (example – I had the treadmill set at 5.3 and it read as 4.9), but after a 45 minute run, the difference between the distance on my treadmill and the distance on Zwift was only about a tenth of a mile.  Given that treadmills aren’t 100% accurate either, I think that’s a pretty great result.

So why use Zwift when running?  Because it’s fun!  A lot of runners call the treadmill the “dreadmill.”  Zwift puts you into a virtual world where you can run.  There are also various running training programs available with Zwift that you can use.  You can also sign up for races or meet up with a friend to run.  And, of course, there’s the gamification as well.  The more you run, the more points you earn, and as you level up, you earn different gear – shirts, shorts, socks… It’s fun to earn a new running jersey and get to kit out your avatar and show it off.  

If your gym has wifi, Zwift might work for you there, and since most hotels now have wifi everywhere, if you spend a lot of time on the road, you may be able to Zwift from the hotel gym as well.  I’m planning to use it over the holidays while at my parents’ house.  

If, like me, you spend a lot of your winter running indoors, Zwift might be a great solution to alleviate boredom.  Get yourself a run pod and check it out.  

Race Report: 2018 Space Coast Half Marathon

So I’m a bit behind in my blog updates.  The weekend after Thanksgiving, I ran my first and only half marathon for the year.  This was my sixth year running the Space Coast Half, but this year felt a bit more important, since I hadn’t raced a 13.1 since the previous year’s Space Coast Half.

Obviously, if I’ve done a race six years in a row, I probably like it.  And the one thing I have to say is that these race organizers are always improving.

In terms of my performance in the race, I wasn’t too concerned about the distance.  I knew I would be slow, but my coach had me do a 13 mile training run, something I had never done in half marathon training.  I wondered why I was doing it, but didn’t question her expertise, and I’m glad I didn’t.  What that training run gave me was the confidence that I could cover the distance without pain from my labral tear, but it also gave me an idea of how fast I would race, so I didn’t have to put a lot of time into worrying about that.  It was really freeing to not be focusing on a finishing time.

This year was the first year in a new four year race series, and they made a few changes for this year.  The expo continues to grow, which is nice, though I so rarely buy anything at race expos anymore, especially when I travel to a race.  I need to make more room for stuff in my luggage so I can shop.  

Race morning, my sister Caitlin and I made plans to race together.  I think I’ve seen her more this year than I have since we lived in the same timezone.  That’s been pretty awesome.  Dad dropped us off at the race start, which was a huge perk. No worries about parking!  Another change this year was that they added a second half marathon.  The marathon course is sort of shaped like an infinity symbol, and previously, the half marathon was only the south side of the course.  The marathoners ran the north loop, then joined the half marathoners on the south loop.  This year, there was an option to run the north loop half marathon course.  The big difference between the two, aside from the scenery, is that the north half has a 3.5 hour time limit, while the south half has a 7 hour time limit (the full marathon time limit).  Even though I’ve run the south course 5 times, when it was time for race registration, I was completely unable to run thanks to my hip, so I registered for the south course, in case I had to walk the entire race.

The start line was as crowded as ever, though this year, marathoners and north runners were instructed to be on the right side of the street, and south runners on the left.  Until we got much closer to the start, there was no indication of divided corrals.  Additionally, as we made our way up to the start line after the race started, we realized that there were some very poorly placed pace signs.  That meant that the start was quite crowded and there was lots of darting around people in the first mile or so.  If that’s the worst thing I can say about the race, so be it.

We really lucked out with weather.  It was cool and slightly overcast all day.  Absolutely perfect.  And the spectators were out in full force.  Some of the people in the neighborhood set up bars in their front yards for the runners.  You know I love a run where I can have a mini margarita!

Aside from one mild calf cramp that I think was due to low sodium (at least I think so, since some salt helped it), this race went really well.  I ran exactly as planned.  My pace was where I thought I would be based on training, and most importantly, I felt amazing throughout the race.  I wasn’t sore at all and I felt like my form was pretty decent.

I was so, so excited to be racing again.  Sure, I have a ways to go to get back to my previous pace, but that will come with time, and it’s still not something I’m terribly worried about.  Since it’s not like I’m trying to qualify for anything, it makes sense to just let my pace evolve naturally as I continue to train.  

Look out 2019, here I come.

 

 

November Mileage Recap

ImageParty / Pixabay

Okay, so I can’t believe November is already ending.  Yes, I have probably said this every month, but seriously, where is the time going?

November was a great month!  I finally, finally got to race a half marathon and it went so well!  I’m still working on my recap, but in sum, it wasn’t my fastest, but it wasn’t my slowest, and it didn’t hurt.  I feel like I’m finally back.

However, in November, I also did my best to avoid going to the pool.  I don’t mind swimming.  It’s a good workout and I always feel great having done it.  But I just don’t like going to the pool.  Swimming is my only AM workout – all the rest happen after work, so I suspect it’s simply that I don’t want to drag myself out of bed and head out into the dark, cold morning.  Summer swimming is nowhere near as bad.

November Totals
Swim: 2.5 miles
Bike: 74 miles
Run: 77 miles

Yes.  I went to the pool twice.  Two times all month (and one time was today).

I’m actually blown away that my run miles topped my bike miles, but this was a very run focused month.  So many long runs.  But they were absolutely worth it.  I even did a 13.1 mile training run, which is the longest training run I’ve done since I was marathon training years ago – usually I top out at 12.  But I trusted my coach on this one and she was right.  I probably didn’t need that extra 1.1 miles (actually the plan only required 13, but I was getting that last .1), but it absolutely gave me the confidence I needed going into my race.  I knew that I could cover the distance without pain and not having that stress on race day was huge.  It also gave me an idea of what my finishing time might be, which removed that stress.  I know I’ve lost speed this year, and while I know it will come back, that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel a twinge of disappointment that I’m not immediately fast again (“fast” being a relative term – I am very much a party in the back kind of racer).

My next race isn’t until April, so I’m looking forward to a few months of rebuilding and getting into shape.  I have big plans for 2019!

2018 Totals
Swim: 54.6 miles
Bike: 1504 miles
Run: 286 miles

Staying Safe While Running with Sabre

“Disclaimer: I received Sabre Pepper Gel to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

I love running outdoors.  I live near an awesome trail, and I love putting on my headphones (in only one ear, of course) and listening to an audiobook or podcast.  Sometimes I run without any sound, especially when I’m turning over a problem in my head.  Running solo is a great time to do some thinking.

But running solo can also be a little scary.  It seems like every time you turn around, there is another story of a female runner who was attacked while out for a run, and in the worst case scenarios, killed by her attacker.  I can’t say that this fear is on my mind when I head out for a run, but I always make a point to be aware of my surroundings, to only run during daylight, and only on days when I know the trail will be well populated.

A number of years ago, I also started carrying pepper spray when I run.  After doing some research, I opted to use Sabre, so when the opportunity came up to do a review of the product, I quickly accepted, as this is a product that I know and recommend.  In fact, the photos of the pepper spray here are of the handheld I’ve been carrying all year (well, half a year, thanks to injury) – the spray I was sent for review was gifted to a friend to keep her safe as well.

What do I like about Sabre?  Well, I have to admit, I can’t vouch for the strength of the pepper spray.  Thankfully, I’ve never had to use it, and I wasn’t about to test it on myself for this review.  Really, what I like about this particular spray is how easy it is to carry.  The little canister comes in a little elastic holder with a velcro strap that goes around your hand and can be adjusted to fit many different sized hands.  Additionally, the trigger at the top has a locking mechanism, so you’re less likely to accidentally spray it, but a quick slide of your thumb will unlock and have it ready to spray in a split second.

The pepper spray itself has some unique features.  It’s actually a gel, so it’s less likely to blow back in your face, which is a definite plus.  It also has UV marking dye in it, so if you spray someone and they run off, the police will still easily be able to identify them.  Each can has 35 sprays, so there’s no worry about running out after one blast, and if you want to test it in your backyard before you take it out on a run, there’s no concern that you’re going to empty the can.

On Instagram, a fellow Bib Rave Pro got called out for essentially being a wimp for running with pepper spray, saying it was an over-reaction and that running was perfectly safe.  And yes, in the 13+ years I’ve been running, I’ve never been attacked while out on a run.  But I would rather be safe than sorry.  I also always run with identification, money, and my asthma inhaler, and typically don’t need any of those either, but I’m not about to run without them.

Peace of mind is worth a lot, and many of us go out for a run to help clear our heads.  Take Sabre Pepper Gel with you for that added peace of mind and enjoy your run!

(Note that a few states do have restrictions on pepper sprays, so check out Sabre’s site to learn more.)

Next Up: Space Coast Half Marathon

Free-Photos / Pixabay

As I continue to make my triumphant return to running, I have my next big goal coming up next weekend – the Space Coast Half Marathon.

This will be my sixth year running this race, and I always look forward to a weekend of spending time with friends, running a great race, and getting into the Christmas spirit.

This year’s race is big for a couple of reasons.  It’s my first half marathon of the year.  I haven’t raced a half marathon since last year’s Space Coast (and technically, I had to walk the last chunk of it because I pulled my soleus).  So this is sort of the last big hurdle in my recovery.

Am I ready?  You bet.  I’ve been doing a ton of PT, and my coach made me run a 13 mile training run, so I know I can cover the distance.  Will it be fast?  Nope.  Though it probably won’t be my slowest Space Coast either – that honor goes to the first year I ran it, when I woke up with a crushing headache but refused to not at least try.  But I’m not letting myself look back at my previous race times.  I don’t want to know how much slower I’ve gotten because it doesn’t matter.  I don’t want that to be on my mind while I run – I just want to have fun.

Do I have a race plan?  Basically, don’t get hurt and have fun.  I think my sister may run with me, and I may also end up with some friends.  I’m certainly not planning to push myself.  The course has a time limit such that I could get lost, have a picnic, get back on the course, and still finish with time to spare, so it’s nice to not have that worry.

I am really hoping to end the year on a high note, since this time last year, I was struggling with hip pain and it was a frustrating way to end the season.  But really, finishing at all will be a win in my book.  And I’m confident I can accomplish that.  It’s been a long road to get here, but it’s been worth all the work.