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?

Training Safely with AfterShokz Trekz Air

Of course, I wore them around the house while doing chores too.

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Trekz Air to review (and one to give away) 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!”

My first experience with AfterShokz bone conduction headphones wasn’t actually wearing them myself, it was hearing all about them from friends and family. While I’ve never had an issue wearing earbuds, plenty of people find that they hurt their ears, and AfterShokz made a great solution to the problem. I was never sold on the idea, but I did like the added safety feature of having your ears completely unblocked, and thus able to hear all the ambient sounds around you.

What sold me on the product, even before trying them, was racing Space Coast with my sister. She wore her AfterShokz headphones during the race, and she was able to hear her music and still have a conversation with me and I couldn’t hear a single thing from her headphones. I honestly didn’t realize she even had the music on until she commented about a song that was playing. They aren’t lying about the lack of sound leakage.

So of course, when I was offered the chance to try them myself, I was absolutely in. The AfterShokz Trekz Air paired easily to my phone and I immediately tried them out, wearing them around the house as I did chores. It took me a bit to figure out how to best position them on my head, but once I did, I was immediately impressed. The sound quality was incredible and I could still hear what was going on around me.

Of course, I had to test if they were working because I was hearing the sound from the speakers or if it was actually bone conduction. So I put in a pair of earplugs. Yep, still clear as a bell. This technology is awesome.

I’m not sure that these would stay on Minnie’s head when running.

The first opportunity I had to wear them outside was on a rainy day, and I was thankful for the water resistant features. (Though one thing I did miss from my earbuds was that they kept cold water from dripping into my ears! Maybe this is the only downside.)

This is probably a dumb feature to some, but I love the fact that when I’m not wearing them on my head, I can just put them around my neck. Yes, I know this is a feature of all headphones. But after years of earbuds, I was so used to having to deal with something in my hands and getting the cord all tangled up that being able to just put these around my neck as I got ready to head out felt miraculous.

I mostly listen to podcasts and audiobooks when I workout, and I wasn’t sure how well the bone conduction would work, and I did find I had to increase the volume slightly, but other than that, I had no issues at all.

I was really impressed by the strength of the connection between the headphones and my phone. I had my phone charging in the kitchen and was walking around the house with a podcast playing and I only once had some audio dropout when I was a floor away and across the house (of course, my house isn’t that big). Conversely, when using my wireless speaker, I need to keep it in relatively close proximity to my phone (such as across the room) to hold the connection. I’m not sure how this is a useful feature, but it’s good to know that even if I have my phone buried under layers, I’ll still have great sound.

And in the spirit of the holiday season, AfterShokz even sent me a pair to share. I’m looking forward to 70.3 training with Liz, and thanks to these headphones, we can run together, listen to music, and still be able to chat!

I made her go swimming with me on a cold day before I gave these to her. I think it was a well-deserved reward.

So in sum, I’m now an AfterShokz convert. I’m excited to have a better way to listen to podcasts and audiobooks while I’m running on the trails in my neighborhood. The single earbud just wasn’t cutting it. Wearing AfterShokz not only gives me better sound quality, but allows me to truly hear what’s going on around me. I look forward to a season of training with them!

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.

 

 

Why you shouldn’t run streak

madzArt / Pixabay

You see people posting all the time about their run streaks – they make it a goal to run at least a mile every single day.  They tally their running streaks – aiming for 100 days or 1000 days or simply aiming to never break their streak.  Now, in a perfect world, this would be fine.

I hate to break it to you, but we don’t live in a perfect world.  Life happens.  We get sick.  We get injured.  And you know what you should do when you’re sick or injured? Rest.

And yet people proudly proclaim how even though their knee really hurt or they had a fever of 102 degrees, they still managed to keep up their run streak.  This is not something to be proud of.  I’ve seen people talking about running through major injury, against doctor’s orders.  Just because they want to keep up their streak.

For some, the argument is “If I break my streak, it’s over and I won’t go back out for a run.”  And on some level I understand that.  But maybe it’s time to find something different to motivate you.  Maybe instead of a run streak, you make it a goal to do something active every day. If you have a sick day or an injured day, maybe you do some easy stretching or some very gentle yoga.  You’re moving your body but not putting yourself at risk.

On Twitter, you will see the hashtag #restdaybrags.  I love this hashtag.  It was created to counter the run streak and to emphasize that rest days are good.  Resting is good for your body. Recovery is a huge element in training, one I think too many people ignore.

I admit, I don’t love when I miss a workout either because I’m sick or injured or plain exhausted.  But listening to my body is a hugely important part of my racing plan.

I’m sure a number of my friends will disagree with this post.  I’m sure that there are plenty of people who have seen quality results from run streaking.  But there are plenty of people who have run through illness and injury as well.

While I think everyone should take rest days, if you’re absolutely stuck on the run streak, maybe you shorten the interval.  Instead of just going for the maximum number of days, how about a 10 day run streak?  You aim to accumulate 10 day run streaks.  So the 11th day starts a new streak.  Or maybe you take a rest day and start over.  This way, if on day 4, you’re sick in bed, no big deal, just take a rest day and start the ten day streak over.  You can still count the streaks.  “I’ve done 50 10 day run streaks!”  But you are also allowing yourself to listen to your body.

I think most runners have heard from non-runners “Why do you do that? You’re going to destroy your body.”  And we all deny that and talk about how running has made us healthier.  But if we don’t listen to our bodies, those non-runners are going to be right.

Lessons from the Boston Marathon

Photo credit: Charles Krupa/Associated Press

This week was the 122nd running of the Boston Marathon.  And though the weather was miserable, the race was awesome to witness.

I will likely never run the Boston Marathon.  I’m a retired marathoner, and would have to be in my 80’s to even be able to consider making the qualification times (I actually didn’t look up the 80-year-old female qualifying times, so they might still be out of reach, but let me pretend, okay?)  None of that means that I don’t still find it amazing.

This race was cold, wet, and apparently even involved some snow.  And still, so many runners went out and made the most of the day.  They worked so hard to get there, and most of them weren’t going to let a little weather get them down.  I’ve seen so many awesome pictures from before and after the race.  Everyone looks so cold, but so happy to be there.

The stories of the winners of the race are also pretty incredible.  Desi Linden finally, finally won Boston.  She is the example of someone who just keeps going, dealing with injury, less than ideal finishes, and she certainly wasn’t expected to win Boston.  In fact, she said that she considered dropping out, so she decided to just help the other US women hold their spots.  And then found herself in the lead.  Even though she felt miserable, she pushed through.

Sarah Sellers, the second place female, was also not expected to finish as well as she did.  She isn’t a pro – she’s a full time nurse.  She trained while also working 10 hour shifts.  (She’s not a nobody, of course. She has won a marathon and is working towards qualifying for the Olympics, though I saw one report that said this was only her second marathon ever.)  But she too battled the weather, didn’t give up, and found herself on the podium.

The men’s winner, Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi, also isn’t a full-time runner.  He’s a high school administrator.  He’s having a great year, having run and won four marathons so far this year.  He was also not expected to win, but benefited from his cold weather experience and won his first running of the Boston Marathon.

To me the lessons here are clear.  Put in the work and don’t give up.  Every day won’t be your day, but that doesn’t mean you should quit.  Sometimes you will meet your goals, and sometimes you won’t, but there’s always a next time.  Every race might not feel amazing, and you might be miserable, but sometimes pushing through and focusing on the effort will make all the difference.  And never stop dreaming.