New Virtual Race – The 465 Virtual Challenge

In order to kick off the new year right, I’ve signed up for the 465 Virtual Challenge. What is this? 465 is the road that loops around Indianapolis, and it’s 53 miles long – so to complete this challenge, you run, walk, swim, bike, hop, etc. for a total of 53 miles between January 1 and February 29.

For some of us, 53 miles in two months sounds like a solid challenge. But for a lot of runners, that might not be enough mileage. So you have the option to become a Looper – how many times can you loop 465 in two months? Or maybe you’re a one-and-done type – can you get the 53 miles done in 24 hours? (I do not even want to consider this – I’m not sure I’m back into that sort of biking shape, and I have never been in that sort of running shape.)

There are two signup options – the basic package gets you a bumper sticker, a training program, motivational emails, a virtual bib, and a certificate of completion. The premium package gets you all that, plus a t-shirt and a sweet finisher’s medal with a car that slides around the route.

If you use the code BIBRAVE, you also get 10% off.

I’m really excited to get started with this. I think I’m going to try to run the 53 miles, because I’ve been working to get back into a running routine, and January and February are going to be difficult months, schedule-wise. This will hopefully help keep me on track. Anyone want to be racing buddies?

Race Report – 2019 Space Coast Half Marathon

I think it’s clear that I like space races, as I have now run this race seven times, with plans to do it at least another two years. I don’t typically run for medals, but come on, this series is fabulous.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen after 2021, but I really want the full set of the human spacewalk medals. Why? Because they’re cool.

Admittedly, I also really like this race. The course is simple, very flat, and the time of year is perfect. There is nothing better than going down to Florida in late November/early December and just getting away for a long weekend before the crazy holiday season really starts.

This year, as per usual, we headed down on Friday and hit up the expo on Saturday. Though I didn’t buy anything, this expo gets bigger every year and there are some good vendors there. And the volunteers aren’t to be beat. The sheer organization of the whole event is incredible.

It’s nice to do a race that I’m so familiar with. This race starts in a little downtown area, and it can seem a bit confusing at the start. Everyone is trying to cram into this little space down a street between cute shops and it’s very crowded and the pace groups seem all messed up and it doesn’t seem reasonable that the course will clear out. But it does. Every year, the start works and within the first half mile, the space has widened and people can run a reasonable pace.

I didn’t feel super well trained for this race, even though I had done two 10+ mile runs. My only goal was to run with my sister, finish the race, and get a medal. I was also hoping for little to no hip pain. I’m still not back into shape after breaking my arm so I’m having to do a lot of extra rehab work on both my hip and my upper body.

This race was a lot of fun, as per usual. It wasn’t my fastest, but it wasn’t my slowest. I finished in 3:12:01, finishing with my sister, my friend Nikki, and having had a great time chatting our way through the race. And with some energy in reserve for a night at Disney World.

Once this series is over, I’m not sure how long I’ll continue traveling for this race, but it’s a lot of fun and I love being able to go to the beach to start the holiday season. It’s a great place, lots of good fun, and always an amazing time with friends.

Swimming with Xtrainerz

Disclaimer: I received a set of Xtrainerz 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!

As a triathlete, I go to the pool a lot. Okay, not a lot. In fact, not even as much as I really should. Sorry, Coach. But one thing that I’ve found makes swimming so much easier is listening to podcasts while I swim. A year or so ago, I bought a waterproof iPod shuffle with waterproof earbuds. I would load up my podcasts at home, clip the shuffle to my swim cap, and swim, listening to the dulcet tones of a random podcast (often The Baby-Sitters Club Club, let’s be honest).

But this system came with a few annoyances. First, earbuds have cords, and every so often, I would have things all twisted up such that when I turned my head to breathe, the earbud would pull in a weird way. Second, the earbuds had “custom” rubber things on each of them to fit any ear. You know what? Those things fall off and end up at the bottom of a swim bag way too easily. But the biggest problem I had was that water would get in my ear around the earbuds and then completely block the sound so I couldn’t hear anything. It was incredibly annoying, and if I wanted to keep listening, I had to stop and reposition the earbud.

Then I got the chance to try the Xtrainerz by Aftershokz. These probably look somewhat familiar, if you’ve used Aftershokz products before, and they work in a similar way – rather than the sound going into your ears, it uses bone conduction. The Xtrainers, however, are designed to be used in water (or out of water, but more about that later).

I will admit, I didn’t have the highest of hopes. I figured they would work, but wouldn’t be a huge difference from my current system.

Friends, I was so very wrong. Once I figured out how best to position the Xtrainerz on my head inside my swim cap along with all of my hair (I have a LOT of hair), I started the podcast playing and began my swim. Instead of the water entering my ears blocking the sound, it enhanced it. Which, of course, makes total sense if you’ve worn other bone conduction headphones before. If you block out the external noise, you can hear the sound through the bone conduction that much better. So when the water blocks out the noise, the sound becomes even clearer.

I am still so impressed at the sound quality. With podcasts, it’s always a risk, because words can easily be lost with poor sound quality, but it’s seriously not an issue here. This is definitely a game changer if you want to listen to music or podcasts while you swim.

Now, let’s go into some of the details and the questions many people have.

Can I stream music? Nope. Though this isn’t unique to the Xtrainerz – you can’t stream with any of the currently available swim music players. Why? Bluetooth can’t transmit through water. So you will have to physically transfer the music to your phone. That means that you won’t be able to transfer your Spotify playlist. If you still have old school music from iTunes, you can use that, or go my route and use podcasts. They’re free and entertaining and definitely make the laps go faster. The Xtrainerz will hold 4GB of music or podcasts. That’s around 1200 songs, or many, many hours of podcasts. If you really want to swim longer than that, well, you might be a fish.

How do you load music or podcasts? You just connect the Xtrainers to your computer using the cord that comes with it (also used for charging), and it appears as a new disk. You can then drag and drop your files. I used iTunes to download some podcasts, then just dragged them directly from the iTunes screen onto the Xtrainers. I’m on Mac, and was worried I’d have issues, since it seems like so many things are made for PC. I had no issue at all.

Can I use these while running? You can! The Xtrainers have a little button on the side to change them from general mode to swim mode. On swim mode, the pitch is apparently changed slightly to make it easier to hear underwater. But you can definitely load up the Xtrainers for a run, and you won’t have to worry about killing your phone battery or whether or not the rain (or your sweat) will damage your Xtrainerz.

How’s the battery? The battery lasts 8 hours, and will fully charge in 1.5 hours. What I like best is that when you turn them on, the voice over (named Audrey) will tell you if the battery is high, medium, or low, so you know when you need to charge. I have yet to need to charge mine (because I need to go to the pool more often), so I can confidently say I’m happy with the battery. And if you forget to turn them off, they do have an auto-off, so no worries there.

If you’ve been considering getting a music player to get you through all those laps at the pool, I definitely recommend the Xtrainerz. I’m so impressed by how well they work, and how little trouble they cause me while I swim. No more excuses for a long pause between sets!

What’s Next?

So now that triathlon season has come and gone, with zero three-sport races completed (though technically, I guess I did complete one swim, one bike, and one run, for a total of one full complete triathlon), what’s next?

First and foremost, I have to keep working to rehab my left shoulder and arm. It’s definitely weak, but it hurts less every day. It still hurts every day, but it’s to the point where I have to think about if it’s hurting or not – it’s not super persistent. Either that or I’m just getting better at ignoring it. I also need to continue to work on rehabbing my hip. With my arm injury, I let my PT exercises fall by the wayside on my hip and I can definitely tell the difference. It’s a good reminder to just keep up that strength work.

I do have races left on the calendar – all running races. This coming weekend, I’m racing the Army Ten Miler for what I believe is the 11th year. I didn’t intend to streak this race, but I love the race and I love the 10 mile distance, so I’m glad to be running again. Then, Thanksgiving weekend, I’m running the Space Coast Half Marathon for the 7th year. Clearly I don’t mind repeating races. To me, that race has become synonymous with the start of the holiday season. It’s sort of the last relaxing weekend before the holiday insanity starts. (And yes, I realize how ridiculous it sounds to call a race weekend a relaxing weekend.)

I’ve only put a little thought into 2020 so far. I’m running the Disney 10K because it’s on my birthday, then cheering for the half and full. I considered running the half, then decided to save the money for future stupid ideas.

For triathlon season, I have a few races deferred following my injury (thank you, Kinetic Multisports and Racine Multisports). So if the schedules work out, I’ll be doing Fort Ritchie Swimfest (distances TBD, but hopefully the full 4500), the Kinetic Oly, General Smallwood Oly, and possibly the Patriot’s Sprint.

I have officially registered for one triathlon. Rev3 Williamsburg is BACK! I cannot tell you how delighted I am to see this race come back. I love Rev3 races and I love getting to see so many of my friends out on the race course. So I’ll be out there for the Olympic at the end of June.

Mostly, I just need to get back into a solid routine. It’s been a whirlwind of a summer, most of it wonderful, but now that my arm is at about 80%, it’s time to get back to work!

Product Review – Nuun Rest

Disclaimer: I received tubes of Nuun Rest 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’ve been using Nuun products for years, and last year, started drinking Nuun Immunity thanks to an opportunity to try out the product. So when I got a chance to try Nuun Rest and do a review, I gave an emphatic yes.

Nuun Rest is very different from other Nuun products. Rather than a standard electrolyte beverage, Nuun Rest is designed to help with recovery. It contains magnesium, tart cherry, and potassium, all of which have been proven to aid in recovery for athletes.

Did you know that magnesium is important to helping the body restore to a restful state? And that many athletes are magnesium deficient? I had no idea. Magnesium helps calm the nerve functions in large muscle groups and helps to keep the heartbeat steady. Magnesium deficiency actually prevents optimal recovery, so adding a magnesium beverage before bed is definitely helpful, especially on hard workout days.

Tart Cherry is definitely something I’ve heard of recently, as it can help reduce inflammation and muscle soreness. And, of course, our old friend potassium helps muscle relaxation and prevents cramping.

Nuun Rest is best dropped into 4-6 ounces of water, and they suggest trying it in hot water. It comes in two flavors, Lemon Chamomile and Blackberry Vanilla, and personally, I much preferred the Lemon Chamomile hot and the Blackberry Vanilla cool.

Magnesium doesn’t fully dissolve, in this product or any other, so there will be a bit of a residue in your cup. It seems a little less prominent in hot water than in cold, but either way, I found that as I neared the end of the drink, if I swirled my cup, I made sure I got all of that good-for-me magnesium. And then I made sure to rinse out the cup so the residue didn’t dry.

So did it work? That’s definitely a hard one to judge, since recovery is based on so many different elements, but I can honestly say that the nights where I drank Nuun Rest, I woke up feeling like I had slept well and was ready for the day (well, as ready as I ever am at my 5am alarm). It was a great part of my evening routine, helping me wind down at the end of a long day. As I continue to ramp up my running workouts, I think adding in this supplement will be a good piece to my recovery.

While I may not drink it every night, I plan to keep Nuun Rest as part of my routine, especially after a long, stressful day or a big workout push. If you want to try Nuun Rest, you can use the code HYDRATEBIBPRO for 20% off through 10/31 at nuunlife.com.