Race Expos!

Today, I am going to the runDisney Tower of Terror 10 Miler Race Expo!  Hooray!

I love race expos.  Which seems funny, coming from a girl who loathes shopping.  I hate going to the mall, but could spend hours perusing the offerings at an expo.

But somehow, race expos are different.  I love going into a giant room filled with vendors selling running gear, advertising their races, and handing out delicious free samples.  I love to walk up and down every aisle and see what there is to see.  I have discovered some awesome companies and some awesome races while browsing race expos.

(Of course, runDisney expos are extra fun because of all of the race merchandise.  Same goes for races like the Rock and Roll series and Marine Corps.)

The place is also filled with excited and nervous runners, which makes for a fun atmosphere.  And sometimes there are speakers to watch, famous runners to meet, and fun to be had.  All in all, a good time.

Race expos are dangerous for my wallet, that’s for sure.  But who knows what I might find?  I will be sure to report back.

Girly Running

I like to look good when I race.  I am a proud Sweat Pink Ambassador.  I love wearing Sparkle Skirts and think the girls from Team Sparkle are pretty awesome too.  When the race calls for it (namely runDisney’s Princess Half), I have glitter on my face, at least until I sweat it off during the first three miles.

It is probably the only time in my life when I am unashamedly girly.  I only wear dresses to work when I absolutely have to, and if I could get away with it, would wear jeans, flip flops and a hooded sweatshirt to the office every day (its’s cold in there!).  I like to look nice and well put together, but I don’t think anyone would call me excessively girly.

And then they see me on race morning.  I think I scare people sometime with my bouncing and giddyness (it’s how I deal with the fact that it’s oh-dark-thirty).  But generally, I think that life is more fun when you’re being positive, regardless of the situation.  So what if it’s early?  You’re up and ready to run!  Exciting!  (Okay, I even annoy myself sometimes.)

I have definitely met people who are not fans of the girly runner.  Some people think that it takes away from the sport. After all, someone who is that worried about how they look can’t be a serious runner, right?

Wrong.

Take a look at the women in the first corral, especially at races like runDisney or IronGirl or Nike Women’s Half.  Check out how many skirts you see.  Check out the headbands.  The cute tops.  The fun shoe laces.  You will see it all.  And it doesn’t make any of us less of an athlete.

I wouldn’t be wearing the fun gear if it impeded my running.  It’s why I don’t wear costumes.  Some people can run in amazing costumes and still run fast (most notably, Charlene’s UP costume – I still don’t know how she did that).  I’m sure someday I will venture into simple costume territory, but I haven’t yet.  I’m still focused on the finish line.

The point I’m making is that there is nothing wrong with being a girly runner.  If you want to wear pink, wear pink!  There’s nothing wrong with being a non-girly runner.  I have friends who wouldn’t be caught dead in sparkles and bows.  That’s okay too.  We’re all out there, having fun.   And hey, even if you don’t want to wear a costume, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the costumes you see as you run!

What is Bag Check and What Should I Store?

For those of you planning your first “big” race, you might have noticed in the race instructions some mention about a “checked bag” or “gear check.”  What is this and what should you be checking?

Quite simply, bag check is a place where you can check a bag of stuff before the race and pick it up afterwards.  This isn’t typically offered in a race where you can park your car at the start/finish (because you can just keep your stuff in your car), but it’s pretty common in big races.

Why in the world would you need this service?  So you don’t have to run with all your stuff!  I admit, I don’t often use bag check because I am a bit of a packrat when it comes to running.  I carry a lot of stuff with me.  But there are some times when bag check is awesome.

Example – It is cold out and I am taking the Metro to a race.  I want to be warm on my way to the race and on the way home, but I don’t want to run in my sweatshirt.  I can toss my sweatshirt into my checked bag and it will be waiting for me when I get back!

Example – It is raining.  I can check a bag of dry clothes and not have to drip my way home!

Example – The first thing I want to do when I get done with a run is take off my running shoes and put on comfy sandals.  I can put those in gear check and they will be waiting for me at the finish line!

Some races have rules about what you can and can’t put into your bag for bag check.  Most of the time, the bag is given to you at packet pickup, and it’s typically a large clear bag that you mark with your bib number or a sticker and sometimes a strip torn off your bib for this purpose.  The bag is big, but not huge, and some races don’t want you putting backpacks or other bags in there.  The clear bag is a bit of a safety thing.  That way, the race volunteers can see what’s in the bag and they know if there’s something sharp in there that might poke them as they move your bag around (or worse).  So make sure you follow the rules or risk not being allowed to use bag check.

I’m always careful to not put anything into my bag of value or that will be hard to replace.  No phone, no money, no ID.  Even the clothing I put in is stuff that I won’t be devastated if I never see it again.  I’ve never had any trouble getting my stuff back at the end of a race, but it’s just not worth the risk to me.

Okay, so I’ve told you what not to put in the bag.  What should you put in the bag?  Well, it depends on the race, the weather, and what you’re doing afterwards.  But here are some ideas.

  • Dry, warm clothing
  • Comfy shoes and socks
  • Your preferred post-race drink if it’s not served at the race (but make sure it doesn’t have to be refrigerated!)
  • A snack (if you have a preferred snack for after the race)
  • Deodorant and/or body spray
  • Baby wipes

Because you will be packing this bag the day before the race, you may also want to throw in some “just in case” items for before the race, like extra safety pins, sunscreen and an anti-chafing product.  That way if you or a friend forget them, your bag can save the day!

Experienced runners, what would you recommend a newbie put into their checked bag?

Weird Running Tip – Post Run Headache Cure

Headache CureYou know, there are a lot of weird running tips out there.  Tips that work.

Like if you’re having trouble getting your KT Tape to stick (though this is less of an issue with the new, awesome KT Tape Pro), you can use a hair dryer to heat up the tape after applying.  It definitely enhances the staying power.

But this tip isn’t about tape.  It’s about headaches.

A few years ago, I was getting crushing headaches after running.  Not immediately, but later in the afternoon on the days of a long run.  I thought it might be dehydration, but no matter how much water I consumed, nothing helped.  My blood pressure was fine, so no concerns there.  Advil didn’t really kick it either.

Then one day, after my run, I chowed down on some salty pretzels.  I don’t typically keep pretzels in the house because they are one of those things where in my brain, every bag is a single serving, even the giant party-size bags.  I can’t keep my hands off of them.  But for whatever reason, this day I had pretzels and they seemed like an awesome post run snack.

And guess what?  No headache!

So I started doing some research.  Could it be sodium, or in broader terms, electrolytes?  I do sweat a ton, and I’m a salty sweater, so it wouldn’t be a surprise.

(Interesting fact – discounting the pretzels, I eat a relatively low sodium diet, so salty sweating doesn’t only happen to people who pound down the salt.)

Ultimately, I picked up some SaltStick Caps in the running store.  Contrary to their name, they have potassium, calcium, magnesium and sodium in them.  Two caps after a run? No more headache!  (No sponsorship here, just a product I use.)   And no additional calories, unlike those tasty pretzels.

I’ve discovered that I can also thwart the headache by adding salt to my post-run meal, something I never do.  Only while eating a delicious post-run breakfast will you find me reaching for the salt shaker.  But it helps.

Now, I’m not a scientist, I’m not a dietitian, and I’m certainly not a doctor.  But if, like me, you find yourself with post-run headaches, maybe reach for the salt shaker just this once and see if it helps.

 




Quick Training Update

Just a quick afternoon post to talk about my current training.

This weekend was a rest weekend, as I was out of town for a friend’s wedding.  There was lots of dancing, but that was offset by poor eating and many drinks.  It was fun though, and definitely worthwhile to take the weekend “off.”

My long runs for marathon training have been going well.  Slower than I’d like, but I keep reminding myself that I’m not doing this race for time, I’m doing it for the distance.  I am also hoping that all of the long runs will help me during the two half marathons I’m running this fall, but I’m not committed to any particular time.

October is mostly a month of racing, so I won’t be picking up the long training runs again until November.  Of course, one of those long runs is a metric marathon and one is a half marathon, so I will still be putting miles on my legs.

Midweek training is also going pretty well, though I need to make a change somewhere.  Right now, I’m running on Tuesday and Thursday mornings (at 4:30 am!), lifting on Monday and Wednesday morning, and Friday is either a run or weights, depending on how I feel. I clearly need to add some other cross-training into the mix, but it’s coming down to time and energy at this point.  I might stick my bike back into the trainer for a while, since I won’t be doing weekend bike rides the day before a race.  Another option is to pick up one of my cardio dvds and do that once or twice a week.

Finding a balance is tough, but I know it will be worth it in the end.