Misadventures with wine, weights, and running shoes.

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Skora Fit Review

Saturday, December 27, 2014
I love shoes. Not Imelda Marcos type love, but a healthy obsession of athletic shoes that litter my closet and garage. Long distance, short distance, weight training, short trail, long trail, weights, spin, if you can train in it, I have a shoe for that. So when the cool guys at X1-Audio asked their ambassadors if anyone was interested in trying Skora’s minimalist shoes, I virtually jumped up and down with an “OH PICK ME! PICK ME!” email back. I was fortunate enough to be contacted by Skora to give their shoes a try.

I have been weight training in Vibrams 5 fingers for a few years now, and as my running career has progressed, my heel drop has decreased. My short distance shoes were currently a 4mm drop, so 0mm wasn’t too far off. I was excited and curious to see what these cool looking shoes could do.

When the shoes arrived I was like a kid at Christmas. They sent me Skora Fit, their training shoe which touts as an all-around training shoe that includes running. The shoes were brightly colored and I instantly loved them – they are currently available in three colors. The look was very unique setting themselves apart from most of the shoes I had seen around.




Specs for Skora Fit:
  • 6.6oz women’s/8.2oz Men’s
  • REALFIT™ last
  • Anatomical fit matches the foot's shape
  • Stretch seamless air mesh upper provides sock-like fit
  • 3D printed dynamic support pattern
  • Asymmetric lacing
  • Compression Molded EVA midsole
  • High abrasion HD Rubber outsole
  • 0mm heel-to-toe differential-zero drop construction allows the foot to move naturally
  • 16mm forefoot/16mm heel stack height
  • Medium cushioned midsole provides ample cushioning
  • High abrasion rubber optimizes durability
  • Antimicrobial insole helps fight odor
Fit

When I first tried them on, my first impression was, Wow. They felt like I was slipping on my favorite pair of old shoes. It had that super comfortable, broken in feel. I tried them first sockless, and didn’t find a hot spot or an uncomfortable edge. It truly had a “sock-like fit” and the size of shoe ran true to the size of my typical running shoe.

The arch was well supported and felt as if it was snug; wrapped around my foot without feeling constricting. The heel collar was well cushioned and very comfortable around my ankle. For the Yogi in me and the runner with bunions, the Skora Fit toe box had ample room for toe splay without feeling loose. The asymmetric lacing kept any potential pressure off the top of my foot while still maintaining a solid fit. The laces stayed laced which was a bonus. It had excellent cushion for a minimalistic shoe and the light weight was prefect.

Simply put: cushion and support where needed and room in all the right places.

Performance

I have run a few training runs, treadmill and road in these shoes as well as a 10K and 5M race. I tested them both with and without socks. I have also used them in my weight training/cross training days at the gym.

In shorter distance, the shoe had great support and feel for the road; the weight was perfect for quick fast runs. Although the cushion is amazing in these shoes, and it may be a matter of transitioning from 4mm drop to zero, after 6-10 miles my feet definitely could feel the difference between these and my 4mm short and 8mm drop long distance shoes.

When cross-training, moving from weights to cardio/treadmill was effortless. There was enough support for the run, but not so much that range of motion was impeded during weight training.

Overall Impression

Great training shoe for the price (retails at $94.95) comparable to many training shoes. The running specific shoes will cost a bit more with their top of the line shoe running $179.95. I would definitely use this shoe for training and short distance training and races. If you have been running in zero drop shoes for a while, I highly recommend giving this brand a try!


Online: http://skorarunning.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/skorarunning
Twitter: https://twitter.com/skorarunning
Instagram: http://instagram.com/skorarunning/
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/skorarunning/

Love, Cindy.

[Disclosure: I was given one pair of Skora® Fit Training Shoes to try in exchange for a review. As always, thoughts and our opinions are my own.]

Returning to Blue Ridge

Thursday, December 4, 2014

In April of this year, I ran the Foot Leveler’s Blue RidgeHalf Marathon in Roanoke, VA. When I initially announced my plan to run the race, more than a few people called me nuts, especially since it would be only my second half marathon.  When I told people that it would be my “preview run” of the race so I would know what to expect in 2015, I was ridiculed and told, “We’ll see how you feel about Blue Ridge when you get done this year.”

Well I finished and although the course humbled me, I was planning my return only steps away from the finish line.  My 2014 goal was to finish in less than three hours; I finished in 2:41:02. You can read my recap here.

Over seven months have passed and my desire to return to Blue Ridge hasn’t changed, but what has changed is the distance I wish to run. I want to run the full marathon and I will.
But wait…there is more!

Roanoke Outside, creators of The Blue Ridge Marathon Series, has given me the huge honor of being one of their OFFICIAL MARATHON BLOGGERS.

Say What!!??  Crazy, but true.

So not only do I get to run the full marathon, I get to write about it officially, instead of unofficially. 

SaaaWeeeet!! 

Happy Runiversary to Me!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014
It is hard to believe that it has been two years already. Two years since I stepped onto a middle school track with a bunch of unfamiliar faces and took a step into the unknown and a bold leap out of my comfort zone.

And, let’s not forget that it was ONLY going to be a 5k. It is amazing how things change.


Now, two years, six half marathons, a full marathon, and a failed 50k later, I wake up well before dawn to meet friends for a short run and drag myself into the gym at ungodly hours to cross train. I see running in the rain as an opportunity to adapt to changes and grueling long runs as the chance to build character and mental fortitude. I have found that struggle is merely a part of the journey, that setbacks are just that – not a finale – and that the long hours of training with the same people over the course of months creates lasting bonds; an extended family.

Yes, running has changed my life. It has changed my perspective. It has changed my way of living and naturally, it has changed my health. Love, Theresa.
 
 

Rosaryville 50k: A Bittersweet Experience

Saturday, November 29, 2014
Photo Credit: Jon M. Valentine
Rosaryville State Park is a beautiful park in Upper Marlboro, MD. Still considered a baby trail runner, when I found Rosaryville, with its rolling hills and beautiful scenery, I fell in love!

It’s a wonderful break from road running.

In November of 2013, I volunteered for the Rosaryville Veterans Day 50k at Aid station #2. I wanted to see Ultra Racing up close and personal. At the time, a 50k seemed impossible, yet as I watched runners of all backgrounds and ages test their mental and physical capabilities, I knew I would be doing it next year.

Early this summer, Theresa texted me looking for a voice of reason. Friends had suggested she do Rosaryville 50k. I simply replied “OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG.”

Seriously, it was my response. Followed by, “OMG we can do this together!”

I was already adding trails to my marathon training this year, and this added to my excitement about Rosaryville. I now had a partner in crime to join me in this leap into uncharted territory. Helping her train for her first marathon was awesome, but this would be even more special.

During training, we had great trail runs where we bounded out of the loop, high fiving each other and thinking we could do more. These were paired with ones where that humbled us due to asthma, allergies, knee, and Achilles troubles.

We discovered how very well we worked together on the trail. We were so excited for this adventure and felt as ready as we could be.

Race Day

We packed my van as if preparing for the Apocalypse and then arrived early armed with Starbucks. We hit registration, dropped our drop-bag, checked our gear, stocked our hydration packs and met up with friends.

Over 150 runners stood at attention in the frosty grass at a pavilion for the National anthem, and then with a simple- “Go” we were off.

With less than a mile of road and meadow leading to the perimeter loop, the experienced fast trail runners were off quickly to secure their position on the trail. We stayed toward the middle of the pack.

Our plan was to keep the effort even and steady for two loops; conserving energy for the last loop. No time goal, just a finish goal.

The first loop was crowded. Some passed us and we passed some where we could. It is a single track; many times there were 6-10 runners in single file, pace dictated by whoever was in front. One strider friend, Melissa, stayed with us here. We dubbed ourselves the “Three Musketeers”; all first time ultra-runners.

It was during my first lap that I took my first fall. Trying to not follow too close to Theresa, I caught my right foot on a root and went flying, literally like out of an action movie. I curled, rolled and popped right back up into a walk. I have no earthly idea how I did that, but by Theresa’s account; it was “spectacular.”

At aid station #2 we felt great. We grabbed some food, and headed back out. This is where Theresa rolled her ankle. She didn’t fall, but I knew by her gait that it was not good. We got to the aid station #1 at around 2 hours and Theresa was limping. We wrapped her ankle to try and stabilize it. She said she felt better and, although frustrated, said she was good to go. We shot some pictures and headed on our way. Less than two miles into the second loop, the pain was intensifying and that the wrap was getting tighter as her ankle was swelling more. Down hills were very rough and we walked more than we ran. Every step I knew was painful and I had visions of fireman carrying her out of the woods under protest.
Photo Credit: Denise Hyde
When we got to a clearing, there were volunteers and Theresa knew it wasn’t smart to continue. This was gut wrenching and heart breaking for us both. After a tearful hug, Melissa and I went on.

Then there were two.

Not wanting my partner in crime to wait longer than necessary, I picked up the pace a, conserving energy by powerwalking uphill. While my body felt good, my heart was broken. Melissa and I hit Aid station #2 again, and I knew my pace was too fast for Melissa. She told me she was good and to go ahead. I fueled up and set out again.

Then there was one.

Dealing with tons of emotion, I continued on. I passed by the creepy alter and placed our Halloween rubber duckies to the mix, shot pictures and moved on. I knew some friends were up ahead, so I had hoped to find them as well. I caught up to them, got a pep talk from my friend Lara, and kept moving.

Two laps down, one to go.

Photo Credit: Kit Yan
I arrived back at aid station #1 to find Theresa waiting, hobbling on a newly wrapped ankle and arms outstretched to give me a huge hug that I desperately needed. Emotions overflowed - the happiness of seeing her and Jill and the heartbreak that Theresa wasn't with me.

Jill hugged me and then helped roll out my tight hamstring/hip. I re-stocked my vest and grabbed food. I hugged my soul sister again and told her, I was now running for both of us. With an emotional departure, I took off again.

Fueled by the Rice crispy treats that Theresa made and my heart, renewed by the support, I ran that last lap in almost complete silence. Other than an occasional biker crossing my pat, and a couple of volunteers on the trail, you were left to yourself and your thoughts.
Photo Credit: Kit Yan
I saw Jill one last time at aid station #2, giving me a mental and moral boost. No appetite but I still managed a banana, chips and a coke. My hands were swollen, everything was sore, but manageable. No energy boost from crowds or signs like a road race, I had no one to push me forward but me, the beautiful sounds of the woods and the sun peeking through to light my path. It was an amazing experience. Despite the pain, I was completely at peace.

My last fall happened within a mile exiting the loop. Ttrying to avoid a family with small kids, I hit a root jammed my toe and face planted. I got up, brushed myself off and kept going. The pain in my foot was pretty intense, but eased off after a while. I came out of the loop to the last remains of aid station #1, grabbed a Gatorade and trudged up the road.

Less than a mile to go.
Photo Credit: Jon M. Valentine
I crested the top of the hill and I could see far in the distance, my soul sister get up and hobble towards the finish line. When I crossed the finish line, she came over, placed the medal around my neck and hugged me telling me how proud she was of me. It was an extremely emotional moment, happiness, pride and bitter sweet sadness all rolled up in a tearful hug from my soul sister, team mate, and one of my dearest friends.

Will I do this again? I am sure of it. Not sure when, but definitely something about this type of race that makes it a unique and amazing experience worthy of a repeat.

Love, Cindy

Crash & Burn – the 50k That Wasn’t

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Now that the heartache has begun to pass, it is time to post.

I love trails.

It is that simple. They are my happy place. They take me back to pleasant parts of my childhood where I would wander off into the woods for hours. I’d run blissfully through the trees, build weird forts, and enjoy nature. 

Yes, trail running is a perfect match for me.

Last year, the prospect of a 50k seemed ridiculous but once I had decided to run a marathon, a 50k didn't seem like a far stretch.

Truth be told – once I had given myself over to the idea, 50k became my primary goal. The marathon was nothing more than a training run between me and it. I didn't share my 50k goals with many. In fact, the only person that was aware that 50k was my main focus was Cindy and that was because of the miles she put in with me.

With the marathon behind me, I cannot begin to express just how excited I was about actually running the Rosaryville Veteran’s Day 50k held here, in Maryland. Hell, I even had shirts made (Thank you, Jenny and Ryan) to commemorate the event at a 10k the day following the 50k.
Photo Credit: Jenny Seth of ARS

I also had stickers made – thank you, Kevin – and had an awesome Ultra Runner shirt, which I refused to wear until it is earned.
Photo Credit: Kevin from Kevin Runs Ultras
Race day came and I was overjoyed. I had rice crispy treats and my drop bag at the ready. My hydration vest was filled and my Garmin was charged. Naturally, we shot a ton of pre-race photos.

Before I knew it, I was standing at the starting line and with a very anticlimactic, “OK Go,” we were off – me in the lead, Cindy behind me, and our friend, Melissa, rounding out the three musketeers.
I was mentally IN THE GAME – I HAD THIS! I was in my zone. We were laughing and enjoying the cool day. The miles were buzzing by.
Photo Credit: Jon M. Valentine
Then shortly before completing our first lap, I rolled my ankle.

It wasn't one of those rolls where you stop for a second and realize your fine…it was one of those rolls that are accompanied by a pop and cause you to walk a bit to assess the situation. It hurt but I thought I could still get through.

I was wrong. Once I reached a section of downhill I knew it wasn't looking good for me. Apparently the look on my face said it all.

At the aid station we wrapped it in hopes that the support from the ace bandage would allow me to continue forward.

No such luck.

Twelve miles in and I was done.
Smiling through the heartache.
Photo Credit: Kit Yan  

I can only equate it as being like going through a really bad break up. My heart was crushed. I was sad and angry and disappointed and frustrated.

I spent the weekend sulking.

OK…maybe a little longer than that. To be frank, I was ready to throw in the towel and clear the 2015 calendar of absolutely anything running related and I must admit that the thought still crosses my mind.

Despite that, I am getting back out there again. My race calendar starts early into the new year so my mileage needs to get back up and I need to rebuild ankle strength. There is a great deal of work ahead. 

Now I have to ask, have you ever gotten injured during a race? What did you do to bounce back?

Love, The Broken Hearted Blogger - Theresa




Femme Fitale Fit Club

The Gift of Running: MCM Race Recap

Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Sitting in the hotel room on the night before the race, I had a potpourri of emotions about my 7th marathon. 


I trained consistently for more than a year; through snow, ice, spring allergies, rain storms and summer heat.  I cross trained, kept my diet in check, and was close to being in the best shape of my life. Despite that, I sustained a muscle injury in my leg during a seemingly uneventful short run close to four weeks before the race. This resulted in a trip to PT and some considerable pull back in activity. Throw tapering into the mix and now I was questioning everything.  Fortunately for me, I had the overwhelming support of my friends and excitement for my training partner’s first marathon to help distract me.

The only thing left to do was to give my best effort on race day.

The evening before the race we had all our gear set out; ready to go. We fueled and hydrated to the best of our ability and after setting ALL THE ALARMS we settled down for some much needed rest.

Race day:

Pre-race rituals done and not like every big race, I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. I was excited and nervous; practically bouncing off the walls - Theresa was ready to sedate me. 
We had a ten min walk and a five min subway ride ahead of us, so we got ready and headed out at 6-6:15 am. Lessons learned: although we allotted 2 hours before race time, it was NOT NEARLY ENOUGH.  We got stuck in the Spot a Pot line from hell leaving us there for AN HOUR.  This resulted in a panicked jog/power walk to the security check point and bag drop off. 

A quick hug goodbye and we each went our separate ways to make our way to our corrals. I weaved in an out of runners and spectators along the edge of the road and hopped the fence around the 3:45 pacer with less than two min before go time. I was not happy and not where I wanted to be. My hope was to stay with Mark, the 3:45 pacer for most of the race.
As the race started, two streams of runners merged after the start and began the three mile climb straight up hill.

Being a person small in stature, it was challenging to see and stay with the pacer from the beginning. I was elbowed and blocked from following closely. Not wanting to expend energy fighting this mob trying to catch the pacer, I settled in with the crowd hoping to make up some time as it thinned out.

Yeah, that didn't happen for quite a while.

There was a mix of fighting the clock with not pushing too hard too quickly - I have been burned that way before. The cheering of the crowds and friends shouting out names did make for a great start. 

At the 10K mark, I was already 5 min off my time. I knew I could not make up that time to hit my initial goal.  I let it go and settled into maintaining my current pace to see what I could do. This part of the race was beautiful, winding roads and scenic picturesque streams and fall colors. I did my best to enjoy the experience and wondered how my partner in crime was doing.

Mid way point, Miles 11 to 15: 

My legs were already starting to feel heavy and I found it hard to maintain my pace.  Despite taking nutrition at proven intervals, it seemed like it wasn’t enough. Mile 15 was a very emotional mile as it had picture after picture of fallen heroes.  As a military wife, this held even more meaning to know how fortunate I was.  At the end of this mile, I found an old friend and fellow Army Wife cheering the runners along as a flag bearer.  I practically tackled her with a bear hug and thanked her for being there.  Seeing a familiar face lifted my spirits incredibly to keep going.

The Struggle:

The cramping in my legs began around mile 15, and I found that I had to adjust from running to short bouts of walking for 5-10 seconds to keep my legs from seizing up. Crowded and chaotic water stops didn’t’ help either. Relentless forward progress in the best way I could was my theme.  My next focus was now looking for the emotional support of my friend, Jill and Strider Family who I knew was ahead. Each mile closer meant I was ever closer to my friends.  When I found Jill, I give her a grateful hug and then headed back out into the crowd.  

"Three more miles till the striders," was what I was thinking from mile 19 through 22. It meant everything at that point and helped push me over that bridge. The sun beating down and that ridiculous wind made everything that much harder. 





When I saw them, I reached out with my arms wide and gave our coach Rachel the biggest hug I could possibly give.  I grabbed a coke, hugged my friend Cindy, waved at my strider family, and took off.  This was an out and back part of the run, and it gave me a perspective of where I was in the race. I was way behind the 3:45 pacer and the 4:00 pacer was breathing down my neck. 

My new goal: don’t let 4:00 catch me.

The finish:

I pushed, as much as my legs would allow, determined not to stop till the end. It was under a bridge where I got bumped or stepped on or both and the end result was my left leg going into a full-fledged Charlie horse. I’m sure I created a few new choice words as I hobbled along until my muscles let go a little. 

The urgency in my mind was real - beat an imaginary adversary: my 4 hour cut off. 

As I rounded the corner, I could see the final climb. I tried to step it out only to have my legs seize and rebel. I wish I knew his name, but the kindest runner gently held onto my left elbow and said, “okay let’s get going” as he helped me get my footing again. To my right, another runner, Nancy, told me she’d been following me for miles and that I kept her going. 

This was her first marathon. 

We, complete strangers, bonded by this experience, took each other’s hand and pulled one another up the hill.  I crested the finish line with seconds to spare. 



Fifty feet from the finish line, I tucked myself by the railing to wait for Theresa.  I had just seen the text that she was injured and my heart was broken. Shifting side to side, I tried to keep my legs from stiffening up as I waited for what seemed like eternity. When I caught glimpse of her cross that finish line I ran up and hugged her and got her moving ahead. 

We did it. 

From begging to end there were six months of training, hard work, and commitment. At that moment, everything was perfect.  No pain, just pride for us both, an outpouring of emotion that comes with such a great accomplishment.  Moments like this are why I will continue to run for as long as I can.  What a gift. 

Love, Cindy



I Ran a Marathon…and I Didn’t Die

Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Source
Saturday, October 26th, 2014, twenty some thousand marathon hopefuls assembled near the pentagon to run the 39th Marine Corps Marathon.

I, along with my partner in crime, Cindy, was among them.

In the days leading up to the marathon, we had devised a plan – a plan that we failed to follow. My painstaking interrogation of veteran MCM runners was only useful if we followed the plan. Not following the plan = fail. Oh well, live and learn.

The plan, if you are so inclined to know, was as follows:
  1. Arrive early. Not a little early, but a lot early. This requires staying at a hotel close to the race the night before and being at the Metro station right when (if not before) they open at 5am. Ideally, we’d be at the pentagon before 5:30am which would allow PLENTY of time to drop our bag and use the bathroom. 
  2. Drop a bag containing a snack, portable phone charger, a jacket, and Ribeye – my stuffed bison and the GBC Mascot.
  3. Use the bathroom – this should not require any explanation.
  4. Be at a pace group that is 20-30 minutes faster than what we run. Considering the size of the event, I had been forewarned of bottlenecking that occurs beyond the start. It was explained to me that you should get in a faster pace group, run your pace and allow them to pass you, and that eventually your pace group will catch you and you just need to cruise with them.
What actually happened was:
  1. We were over confident about the location of the hotel in reference to the race and we hit the Metro at 6:15, boarded a train that was PACKED FULL of other runners – I’m talking sardine packed - and we arrived at 6:30ish. 
  2. Once at the pentagon, we hopped in the bathroom line first and unfortunately that meant an hour long wait – no really – AN HOUR! If you didn't have to go when you got in line, you most certainly did when you got to the front of the line. I think it was at the 45 minute point that those in line started shouting “motivational statements”. “Finish Fast.” “Squish it Out!” and “Hey, up in front…pay attention.” 
  3. Cindy and I ran to the baggage drop, giving each other a quick hug before all but throwing our bags at the attendants. 
  4. We disappeared into crowds to get to somewhere relatively close to our desired pace group. Cindy managed to navigated through the crowd that lined the side of the corral, somehow making it to her actual pacers and climbed over the side. I took the direct approach and went right into the corral, parting it like the Red Sea with a series of “Pardon Mes” and “Excuse Mes.” I landed somewhere between 4:30 and 4:45. 
I was not happy. Cindy was not happy either.

We missed all the pomp and circumstance, barely saw the fly over and paratroopers, and before I could take a breath, the race started.

That is not to say that I crossed the start line at that point – no – I began the very slow shuffle in that direction. Once over the starting line, the bottlenecking that I was warned about was way worse than I could have ever imagined. It was impossible to settle into any kind of a pace out the gate. There were just way too many people.

There were moments that I had become hopeful that things were thinning out and that I could start to settle into a rhythm, but it was not happening. As soon as I’d get comfortable, the road would narrow and everyone would crowd into the center causing us to run a good minute or so slower.

Despite not being able to maintain my happy pace, the first half seemed to just fly by. There was a great deal of scenery and crowd support.

Then it all went downhill and not in the sense of elevation.

I got mowed over at a water stop.

The scenario went like this:

I ran into a water stop on the left. The person in front of me slowed from a full run to all but a total standstill. I slowed down as a result. The woman behind me did NO SUCH THING. She stepped on my left heel, causing me to completely lose my shoe and throwing me off balance. Had it not been for the soldier working the stop, I’d have hit the ground but he caught me by the arm and pulled me upright. Another runner snagged my shoe and handed it to me. I then got asked if I wanted to see the medical tent, to which I said, “NO.”

I just wanted to finish.

The second half of the race was not pretty. The temperature went up and the winds started. I had to walk off muscle spasms in my leg from time to time because I’d pulled something thanks to the water stop mishap. Despite that, I kept going. Much like the title of a book I have, it was “Relentless Forward Progress.” Nowhere in that title does it say “Pretty” or “Painless.”

All that mattered was “Progress.”

I pushed forward, grateful for the running buddies that cheered me on along the course and for the Annapolis Striders water stop, around mile 23 - an oasis of morale support complete with photos, soda, and hugs.

Photos courtesy of Bad A** Coach, Rachel Ratel
In the final stretch, I ran into a fellow strider and running buddy, Kelly. We both commiserated with each other through a single look and then agreed that we need to get this S**T done and that we'd do it together.

The last mile seemed to go on forever but I was thrilled to turn the corner to find the uphill climb I'd been waiting for - the Iwo that led to the finish line and my Soul Sister, Cindy standing just on the other side of it.

So there you have it, marathon number one in the books. Only minor injuries and some sun/wind burn to speak of but I didn't die. The really ridiculous thing is, I am looking forward to doing it again.

Love, Theresa
Finish Time: 04:57:06

Thank you

Sunday, October 26, 2014

At the time that this post is published, I should have made my way across the starting line of the 39th Marine Corps Marathon.

Two years ago, the prospect of running a marathon was the furthest thing from my mind. I would scoff at the shear thought of it, saying, "Nope, won't happen." I meant that too.

Or I did then.

Now, I'm sitting in a DC hotel on the eve of the race amazed at where I started and how far I've come. Fellow blogger, The Lone Runner, wrote: "It takes a village to prepare a runner for marathon day."

She is so incredibility right.

I could not have gotten here without the love and support of so many amazing people, a number of which have no clue the role they've played in getting me here. This post is dedicated to everyone that has made this possible.

To my Family and non-runner Friends that have stuck by my side and supported this decision even though they think I'm nuts.

To my extended Family of the SdM, I took "put your foot on the path" literally. I'll be back soon.

To my co-workers that are stuck with me the most hours of every day which subjects them to my ramblings about miles, cross training, diet, and how my everything hurts.

To the Annapolis Striders for providing the training program and endless supply of Swedish fish.

To everyone that joined me early Saturday mornings on the B&A trail to tackle what seemed like an endless number of training runs.

To my running buddies, for the endless moral support and advice that can only come from veteran marathoners.

To Tim Ferris, your moral support has meant so much more than you could ever know.

To Sandy of So What? I Run! for blazing the trail ahead of me.

To Amber of Mama's Blissful Bites for listening to my paranoid rants and reassuring me that everything will be great.

To Fred & Matt of PlowOn Gum for helping me get up and get moving on the days I didn't feel like it. #PlowOn!

To Hope Mallette, for giving a gift to Cindy that she is now passing on to me - the courage to try.

To my Partner in Crime and Soul Sister, Cindy - I could not have gotten here without you and can't wait to for the journey that is to come.

To Glenn, for being my rock and keeping me grounded in all this.

To God for hearing me every time I prayed, "Dear God, just get me through this run." Please get me through tomorrow too.

Love,
Theresa

Why Cross Train

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Google “Cross training for runners” and you get 2.8 million hits. The question is where do you go to find what is the right answer? The right answer is as varied as the web hits. The key is finding what works for you.

Wikipedia defines cross training as:
“an athlete training in sports other than the one that the athlete competes in, with a goal of improving overall performance. It takes advantage of the particular effectiveness of each training method, while at the same time attempting to negate the shortcomings of that method by combining it with other methods that address its weaknesses.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-training)
Why do WE cross train? Cross training for running will help us achieve our main goal: improve our overall running performance and/or prevent injury. Our secondary goal is to be fit strong overall athletes. For us, this is the difference between “working out” and “training”. Neither are wrong, one is just more goal focused.

Strengthening our muscles and keeping them limber can help prevent “leaks” in energy, minimizes poor mechanics, reduces the over use of accessory muscles – something that can lead to potentially tweaking something on the run when fatigue sets in. I see a lot of runners complain of said “tweaks”

Our Cross Training Recipe is based on simplicity and includes: weight training, non-impact cardio, and flexibility.

For weight training, we incorporate Squat, Hinge, Push, Pull, and Core movements in every session.

Lower body work

We focus primarily on the main lower body muscles. These are: Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Hip Flexors, Hip Extensors and Glutes. Calves and soleus muscles are utilized in these exercises, but we do not work them in isolation. Both single and double leg work is important as it adds variety and targets specific movement patterns. When running, only one leg is on the ground at a time, so being strong and stable on one leg is very helpful.
Squats: the “pushing” motion of this exercise strengthens our quadriceps and hip flexor muscles used to move our legs forward, stabilizes our knees, and helps absorb the impact of the foot strike during running.

Hinge: Deadlifts and, our Favorite, Barbell Hip Thrusts are used to strengthen glutes, hamstrings and hip extensors (the engine for running that propels us forward.) The stronger and more powerful we can extend our hip behind us the faster we will travel.

Upper Body Work
Strong backs, shoulders and chest will keep our torso upright longer as well has help us maintain a strong posture. This maximizes lung expansion, helping to provide oxygen to the working muscles. We do these by using push and pull exercises with weights. Many times this involves the total body as in weighted push-ups, plank rows, pull ups , and TRX Rows.

We like exercises that give us more bang for our buck.

Core Work

Core is what we have if we were to cut off our legs and arms and head. It includes the glutes, hips, shoulders, and back. There is some overlap in our exercises, but just done from a different focus. We target the core with heavy weights during our weight training day. Then we use bands and weights during a core program we do called CXWORX™. That way we weave a stronger body matrix from all angles to maximize our potential.

Cardio

I teach a Les Mills program called RPM™. It is a high interval training program on a spin bike and it kicks my butt every time I teach it (and Theresa’s when she takes it). Within the class, you push to breathless many times, all while listening to amazing music. This increases cardio endurance without impact. It utilizes the same power muscles we need in running so it supplements what we do.

My cardio endurance changed dramatically when I introduced this into my training program.

Flexibility

Theresa and I have our own personal practice but we also try and take Yoga as often as we can. As a 200RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher,) I teach yoga weekly and teach poses geared towards athletes. A tight or shortened muscle, will not be able to move effortlessly through its natural range of motion and can begin to pull on joints and lead to improper body mechanics placing undue strain on knees, ankles, hips etc. resulting in many common running injuries.

We both have very busy lifestyles, and as extensive as it seems, it actually doesn’t take up much time.

To accomplish all of the above cross training takes approximately eight hours a week. To some it is a lot, but to others, not that much. In the course of a perfect week, we get it all in. Those eight hours equal 5% of your total time in a week. To be fair, my job is a fitness instructor, so my job is three of those eight hours. Broken down it is three to three and a half hours of Strength, an hour of cardio and three and a half to four hours of Flexibility.

Benefits of Cross Training 

One of the greatest benefits of cross training is an increase in muscle mass. Increased muscle means a smaller and more compact frame, higher metabolism, and more resistance to injury. Of course, the
added aesthetic benefits and confidence is a bonus. No, I don’t need help with that box, bag, piece of furniture, etc. I can move it just fine. It is empowering to know that you can do so many more things because you are stronger and fitter.

Since the GBC Duo has started cross training together, Theresa has lost significant pounds, body fat, and a couple dress sizes. I believe it is a result of gluten free clean eating and working her butt off in cross training. She has also PRed a number of races..

Since I started a few years ago, I have significantly lowered my race times in my marathon as well as
other race distances. I have remained relatively injury free leading up to my 7th marathon in 4 ½ years. My plantar fasciitis disappeared and my old nagging knee injury has not returned. What we do may not be the right combination for anyone else, but it works for us; FOR NOW. Goals change and with them, so will cross training. You need to be proactive and adjust your focus based on your goals.

Love, Cindy. 

HandBand Pro® Review

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The GBC girls love to lift heavy things. An annoying side effect of this is hand calluses, blisters and tears. Having taught Body Pump™ for years and now doing old school weight training, I have tried gloves of every brand and style, but never really found one I liked. Most of the lifting gloves I tried were too bulky, hard to put on/take off, and made the grip harder rather than easier. Additionally, being someone with smaller hands, small sizes were tough to come by and lifting bare handed just tore up my hands. My blog partner in crime originally came across this company and was excited about the opportunity to try this unique product.

HandBand Pro® markets more to the Crossfit community, touting as "the revolutionary functional fitness grip - for increased grip, reduced friction, total hand freedom and protection from blisters and rips. Designed for high rep pulling/pushing WOD’s and created for today’s athlete.” Although we do not do cross fit, we lift Olympic bars, use heavy weights, do pushes and pulls, kettle bell swings, and frequently have blisters, calluses, and grip issues.

When they arrived, I laughed. It seemed the HandBand Pro rep picked the perfect pairs for us: skulls (no surrender) for Theresa and animal print (coco blue) ones for me.

My first observation was that the bands are light weight, sewn well, and have a simple but effective design. HandBand Pro provides an explanation in the packaging of how to wear the bands as well as a YouTube video that explains different ways to wear the bands, which was helpful.

The first time I tried them on I got a little wrapped up, but Theresa put them on easily. The more I use the bands, the easier they are to put on. I tried both grip options with the modifications presented and found that you can switch quickly and easily between grip options to accommodate the exercise you are doing. Another added benefit is the freedom of movement for your fingers without compromising your grip.

We tried them during all of our weight training sessions over two weeks and I even tried them with suspended rings and a trapeze bar for higher rep pull ups. While they don't appear to completely prevent calluses they do seem to lessen them. They also appear to reduce the peeling and ripping we previously experienced.



Final verdict: Theresa and I found HandBand Pro to be versatile and compact, and to perform exactly as they claim. We loved the freedom they give our fingers and hands and their minimalistic feel. The price is comparable to any weight lifting gloves ranging from $24.95 to $31.95. It is offered in a variety of colors and prints allowing lifters to express their individual personality. Furthermore, they work for all size hands.

HandBand Pro has become a staple for the GBC Duo. We would definitely buy this product and encourage anyone that lifts to look into this innovative tool.

For more information on HandBand Pro please follow the following links:

Online: http://www.handbandpro.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/handbandpro
Twitter: https://twitter.com/handbandpro

Love, Cindy!

[Disclosure: We were given two pairs of HandBand Pro® to try in exchange for a review. I included both mine and Theresa’s opinions in writing the review. As always, thoughts and our opinions are our own.]

Fun on the Run #1

Saturday, September 20, 2014
Among the slew of questions that I am asked as a runner, one of the most common is, "Don't you get bored?" Sure, there are times I do, but a good race can often lend itself to all forms of entertainment. Of course, there are also games that you can play to help the time and miles pass by.

A particularly favorite game of mine - one that is a bit PG13 - is ...

Out of Context: What race signs could be used for sex rather than running?


























Love, Theresa

Pocket Fuel - Oh Em Gee!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Since my branch out into longer miles, fuel has been an ongoing issue. Gels make me sick. Chews sometimes do too. Of course, take one look at some of the ingredients and it is no wonder:
Maltodextrin, Leucine, Potassium Citrate, Sodium Citrate, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Calcium Carbonate, Valine, Histidine, d-alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, Gellan Gum, Isoleucine, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate
Yep - needed to google most of these to find out what they were. Preservatives, amino acids, vitamins, something to prevent kidney stones (um, what?), and a geling agent (that can cause GI issues in some - go figure). 

New tactic, try to find a fuel that is easy to carry during road races - in other words - it will fit in my fuel belt and I can easily identify the ingredients. This was easier said then done. Every time I set foot into a sporting goods store or running store, I found myself staring at fuel pouches and reading labels. I'd buy some new options and give them a shot on the run. Some lost me on taste, others on thickness, and some just left me burping that particular fuel's flavor for miles. UGH!
I was seriously starting to think that I was not going to find anything that would work and that I would be stuck with one of the gels I had previously tried - you know, pick the lesser of the gel evils - the one that I had the least issues with and hope for the best. 

Meanwhile, I am also on the hunt for the perfect shoe - one that has the right amount of cushion, is the right width, and isn't over 8oz. Yeah - no luck their as of yet. I feel like I'm hunting for the Holy Grail of running shoes. 

Anyway, as I was saying - I was looking for shoes and wandered into the local REI. Naturally, I had to hit their fuel/nutrition isle to see what they had available. It was more of the same and yet, one thing I hadn't seen before - Pocket Fuel Whole Food Nut Butter Blends.

I had expected to find the usual list of barely pronounceable ingredients but what I found, instead, was hazelnuts, almonds, sugar, cocoa powder, sunflower oil, and sea salt. 

Say What!? Where's the malodextri-something-something or the Tercho-blah-blah? Whoa! 

Of course, I was skeptical so I only grabbed one of the two serving pouches in Chocolate Haze and waited until my next long run to give it a try.

Unlike regular gels, this one came with the instruction "Squish & Squeeze Before Opening." Understandable, you can feel that the ground nuts have settled and I spent the mile leading up to my fuel time mixing the pouch be fore finally giving it a go.

OH EM GEE!! Fuel-gasim. This stuff was amazing. I sucked down both servings. I had to find out more about it and hit the Pocket Fuel sight to learn more. Then I did a little begging to get a sample pack and tried ALL THE FLAVORS.

  • Vanilla Energy Shot - Loved it!  Like a vanilla coffee in gel form. Highly recommended if you like coffee
  • Mocha Energy Shot - Loved this one too!  Chocolate and coffee! How could you go wrong?!
  • Java Energy Shot - Again, another one I loved. Sweet black coffee. YUM!
  • Chocolate Haze - Reminded me of chocolate hazelnut spread (I won't name that brand I'm thinking of) but better and without the chemicals. OH SO GOOD.
  • Vanilla Haze - Another that I really like. Similar to Chocolate Haze just in vanilla. 
  • Banana Blueberry - This one was not on my love list. Can't say I was a fan. I'm just being honest. 
  • Coconut Cherry - Ok, this is an ideal trail fuel for me since I don't mind having something to chew. There are bits of dried cherries and coconut in this and I do happen to love this one. 
  • Chocolate Espresso - This is one that I have to be in the mood for. It reminds me of chocolate covered espresso beans because of the ground coffee beans contained throughout. 
  • Chia Goji & Honey - I really liked this one but it is over shadowed by the ones I love. 
  • Pineapple Coconut - I love this one. It falls second to Chocolate Haze for me. Take note, this is another one with texture that may require a little chewing. 
Ok, so my personal tips. "Squish & Squeeze Before Opening" before you go on your run, ride, or what have you. They stay mixed for a while and when you do go to use them, you are squishing them for as long. Also, be sure to try them in advance of any major event. Some of the fuels have "texture" due to the dried fruits and coconut. I happen to like this and use those particular fuels for my trail runs. 

Seriously, go check them out:

Online: http://www.pocketfuelnaturals.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PocketFuel
Twitter: https://twitter.com/@PocketFuel
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/pocketfuel/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/pocketfuelnaturals?feature=results_main
Instagram: http://instagram.com/pocketfuelnaturals

Now I need to go find a fuel belt that will hold one of these. 

Love,

Theresa

[Disclosure: I was given Pocket Fuel Naturals - after some begging - so I could try all the products before committing to by them and in exchange for a review. As always, my thoughts and opinions are completely my own].

Bondi Band Review and Giveaway

Thursday, August 14, 2014
So this post is better late than never. This is what happens when email communications are sucked up by gremlins or eaten by spam filters. Now let's talk headbands!

As a runner and a gym rat with long hair, head bands are a must. The moment that any hair falls in my face I'm annoyed. I am regularly trying new options for keeping my hair back, so the opportunity to give bondi bands a try was a perfect fit for me.

Bondi bands advertises their headband line as being "No Slip. No Drip. Athletic Headwear." Sounds like a perfect fit for me. My first impression of the head band is that it is very light weight and yet wider than I am accustomed to in a headband. Normally when I go for something that covers up a large amount of my head, I shoot for my bandanna. Despite the width, it fit well and was incredibly comfortable. One feature I like is that it is bunched at the back so it doesn't roll funny at the back of your neck. I don't know if that bothers you, but it drives me nuts.
 
Armed with a bondi band, I went out for a run at the park to give it a shot on a short four mile run. Through the run, the band did shift a little but not so much that it slipped off. That is a plus in my book. As far as "No Drip," well sweat still went in my eyes - I sweat A LOT - but it was reduced.  I did try pulling the band down a little further, which helped, but did not eliminate the issue.

Would I personally buy these bands? Yes. Maybe not the ones with the text on them but a solid color or a cute patter, definitely.

So how about a little info on the company, bondi band.

Bondi Bands are great for women, men, girls and boys! Bondi Bands are composed of a unique blend of nylon, lycra, and spandex. The result is a stretchy yet form fitting band that holds up under the toughest hair styles and types.
Charity:

We are a simple company with a dedication and belief in our product. Our philosophy is to make a great product at a great price and to build relationships one at a time. And as much as we believe in making a tidy profit we also believe in giving back. Each year we donate 10% of our pretax profits to charity. For 2009 we have chosen the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute:

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) is a Comprehensive Cancer Center designated by the National Cancer Institute. It is a major affiliate of Harvard Medical School and is located in Boston, Massachusetts.
The origins of DFCI date back to 1947. DFCI employs about 3,000 people. Most importantly, there are more than 150,000 patient visits a year, and it is involved in some 200 clinical trials. It is internationally known for its research and clinical excellence.

We figured if we were going to give away some money, this should be where it goes to.

You can find bondi bands: 

On line at: www.bondiband.com
On twitter at: @bondiband
On facebook at www.facebook.com/bondiband

So how about a chance to give them a try yourself with a giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


[Disclosure: I was given a bondi band headband through my #SweatPink Ambassadorship/Fit Approach in exchange for a review. As always, my thoughts and opinions are completely my own].