Category Archives: running gear

Brazen Racing’s Hellyer Half-Marathon

We have a goal to race at least once per month this year, and most of those adventures will be on the trails of California’s Central Coast! Brazen Racing showed us a great time (and thorough a**-kicking) with our first trail half-marathon last September, so we’ve been looking for the right opportunity to cross under their inflated Start/Finish arch again.

Hellyer Half Starting Line

BR’s head honcho, Sam, offered me a free entry to the Hellyer Half-Marathon, so I convinced my main squeeze to join in the fun. There’s no better way to distract yourself one week before standing at the altar! We happily joined in for some sunny  and supported paved-trail miles.

Brazen is known for trail races around the San Jose area, but this course wouldn’t typically be filed under that category. That’s 100% fine by these legs – it was the perfect chance to see how well my fitness has bounced back from the knee chaos that was. It was his chance to snatch up that 1:29:xx PR that he’s been chasing (successful!).

Hellyer Half-Marathon:
Flat, out-and-back (no surprises!) and well-supported!

Hellyer Half Trail

His goal was to practice starting SLOW (relative term here) and building up to a successful negative split. My goal was to simply make it through 13.1 miles with “ease” and finally feel like the injury is behind me.

The first few miles were a little rusty – remembering how it feels to race for endurance, warming up, getting my stride to a comfortably-hard effort. I settled into an 8:30 pace and turned on auto-pilot. The first half was spent in this zone, with two very happy feet and one happy ego. I practiced my race-fueling strategy (taking a tip from Dean Karnazes and trying out dark-chocolate-covered espresso beans), ran without tunes (ah, the zen…) and snapped a few pics along the way.

Mile 7: We turned around  and headed straight back. Around mile 8 I decided to turn it up a notch and see what happened. That felt fine, so I picked people to chase and started passing them. I also spent a lot of time doing head-math, which most runners know is just a way to a) distract your mind and b) feel like you’re pretty dumb. It’s effective all around. For mile 10 I decided to drop into sub-8s, and from mile 11 –> the finish I found my 7:30 stride again (oh, it’s been a while….).

Mike was hangin’ out around mile 12.5 with his paparazzi hat on – and hopped in to run through the actual home-stretch with me.

Hellyer Half Marathon_mile 12

I came in just under my 1:50 goal (1:49:46 – 4th AG) and for today, that wasn’t all easy breezy. But damn it felt so good to get out there again, without “what ifs” but with a healthy system that’s happily building up the machine (as Coach K would say). 

Hellyer Half Marathon Finish_DOTR

OOTD: TAD visor & TAD Squadra running singlet.
Fuel: 12 oz water + OSMO active, espresso beans (4), 3 shot bloks
Shoes: Mizuno Wave Rider 17

There’s a lot more to come this year, and this was the perfect way to open my eyes to what I’m ready to chase. (For now, we’re just glad we made it out unscathed and in top shape to walk down the aisle this week…)

Thanks for another great race, Brazen! We’ll see you again soon.

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10 ‘Tips’ for Trail Running & Racing [Newbies]

For my first ‘race’ of the year, he found a group of distances happening on a trail conveniently close to our Monterey Bay digs (led by Inside Trail Racing). Contrary to most of the trail runs we’ve done in the past seven months, this wouldn’t require a 6am departure, or even more than 25 minutes in the car. We’d even get a view of the wilderness not-so-hidden in the backyard of our quaint city. Win!

10 tips for trail running_DOTR

He went for the 25K, while I kept it safer with the 10k option. And after a 3+ month hiatus from the trails, I had to remind myself that this trail-running game reads from a very different playbook! So far, this is how I get by, with a little help from the aid stations & color-coded flags:

1) LOOK AT THE ELEVATION CHART

If you’re a poor race planner, like myself, this one really needs to be in all caps. It’s almost a given that you’ll have to walk up/down at some point, but strategize and be ready for those moments. Know what’s coming and when– it will matter.  For example, this particular 10k course looked like this:

image

Thankfully he plans ahead, and handed this to me for review on Saturday morning as I munched on my pre-race banana. Well…that’ll be interesting. It’s the total opposite of how 99% of trail races’ elevation rides, but it allowed me to just barrel down those first 3 miles, because I knew there’d be some walking in the last 3 miles, either way.

On that note…

2) Be humble with your distance of choice

My first soiree into this world was a 10-miler (the first sentence of that post is basically this lesson learned). The course wasn’t too challenging, so we lucked out. But those 10 miles felt like 13. And the half we did last Fall? That felt like 20. If you’re just starting out, note that your road-racing PRs mean nothing on the dirt!

3) Bring Hydration. ALWAYS

Would I normally carry water for a 10K race? Nope. But you never know how long those trail miles will take – they seem about twice as long as a road mile, and the aid stations usually seem way too far apart. You will need hydration, either way, so make sure you bring your own.

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My drink of choice: OSMO, for always.

4) Assume you’ll Overheat

I have started many a trail-race in long sleeves, only to curse the decision with gusto as I climb my way up the first major incline. Yes, you can usually count on some tree cover to cool you off here n’ there. But you can also count on some bare, uber-sun-exposed, sections. And your cardio system working overtime to help you climb. Also see: hydration!

trailhoghalf_H_13mi

No shade. No water left. Not close enough to finish line. So hot right now.

5) Protect your precious skin

Sunscreen and a hat = must-haves! Take it from the girl who just doesn’t think January weather warrants sunscreen (unless you’re on the slopes – in which case, of course you have sunscreen! Why does this logic not translate??), and didn’t have a lick of SPF on Saturday. But I did have a visor! 1 for 2.

6) Invest in trail shoes

I run in the Mizuno Hayates, but prior to that would just destroy my road-running shoes (and feet) on my inconsistent adventures. Trail shoes aren’t all stiff and unrelenting; the Hayates move and shake similar to my Wave Riders, but they’re ready for more challenges. See: rocks, (slippery) dirt, creeks and climbs.

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7) Embrace the downs

In road races, you run a fine line between barreling down hill to gather some speed and gain some cushion on a goal time, and/or destroying your quads. But out in the woods, muscles pretty much get destroyed anyway. You have dramatic ups and downs, you will probably walk (unless you operate in full-on beast mode), and when you do get a downhill? You will want to fly.  

This does go back to point #1 – know what’s coming and when! I’ve even had a few down-hills so steep that I walked, because otherwise gravity would have wreaked havoc.

On the downhill: shorten your stride to avoid killing your knees; stay light on your feet (as much as you can…); don’t fight it; know your (speed) limits. (Of note: this tip comes from someone who hasn’t run more than 13.5 miles on a trails – any full / ultra runners out there? Chime in!)

8) Walk…but not for long

As I’ve now mentioned multiple times, the likelihood of walk ‘break’ is 10x higher on the trails vs. the road. A few reasons for this: the inclines are so steep that you’ll waste too much energy trying to run them all, you heart may explode if you do, and sometimes you just flat out cannot run certain sections (for various reasons of nature’s choice).

BUT! Don’t walk for too long. It’s just as dangerous out here as it is on a road – you give yourself too long a break, and it becomes exponentially more difficult to get going again.

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Photos never do justice to the up, up, UP.

My rule: if I’m walking uphill, I have to start running the very inch in which the incline starts to flatten out or give.

9) Leave the tunes (mostly) behind

Again, I can’t speak to the experience of running anything over 13 miles here – maybe after 3+ hours you’re just flat-out done with absorbing nature’s magic – but I am strongly in the no-trail-tunes camp. For safety, and for bliss. There is so much to take in, no matter what trail you’re running.

10) Wipe your PR (expectation) slate clean

Have no expectations. Just as with road races, every trail is oh-so-different and the challenges you’ll face will never be the same twice (even on the same trail). You never fully know what you’re in for, and there’s a lot of fun to be had with that.

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BONUS!  ENJOY ALL THE FOODS.

Seriously. The post-race spread is unbeatable. They really know how to feed a runner’s appetite.

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For Californian’s in the Bay area looking to branch out to enjoy one of these many adventures, check out:

Inside Trail Racing

Brazen Racing

West Coast Trail Runs

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Calling all trail experts and enthusiasts: anything you’d add to the list?

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Filed under Races, running, running gear, trail running

Dear Santa, I’m a runner, so….

…any of these will do. Pleaseandthanks! Happy holidays. Enjoy the cookies.

I’d be happy with any or all of the following under the tree or in  my compression-stocking. If you’re looking for some unique ways to surprise the athlete-of-any-flavor in your life, you’ve come to the right place!

We’re going to kick things off with a charming gal I met at the Morgan Hill Half-Marathon Expo last month (he ran, I got to stand around with coffee for a change!). LaRene had earned her own large booth, right by the packet pick-up. The unique coasters and prints caught my eye as something that would fit right in with our travel souvenirs, adding a different note.

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I immediately started working with her to design a year-end gift for Coach Katie, which turned out absolutely perfect:

athleticartworks_teamamazingday

You can shop around on Etsy or LaRene’s Athetlic Artworks website, and create a unique little beauty for yourself or someone who has done badass things and might like to see those things in print, every day.  Browse around and you’ll see she does more than just sport-specific creations! Go outside the box and you can come up with anything meaningful to you & yours.

For the holidays, use code HCFIT10 for 10% off!

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Once you’ve got your commemorative creation, let’s get you dressed. Lucy sent me this Fall/Winter outfit to test out – they must’ve heard the word that I’ve strayed just a little from my lulu-only wardrobe – and I’m thoroughly impressed.

The Endurance Run capri (seen in action below) is a true-to-size fit, flexible and sleek. There’s a zip-pocket in the back and two side-pockets along your hips – perfect for an iPhone/pod, keys, eats, etc. Pair with the Run Your Heart Out LS (pictured here in Poppy/Lucy White Strip) for a comfy cozy jog in the cool temps. My favorite thing about this top is the material – you can find warmth and thumb-holes from a lot of active wear, but comfort matters, too! This is soft enough to lounge around in, should you choose to veer towards my daily work wardrobe choices.

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If there’s one thing an athlete can never have enough of? It’s socks. I buy them at almost every race expo, REI / running store sale, etc.  There isn’t a more practical stocking stuffer ‘round these parts.  Bombas sent me two pairs to keep my digits warm and comfy. Similar to TOMS, they donate a pair of socks for each purchased. These are feel-good happy feet!

bombas socks_1 Bombas_2

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In case none of the above tickle your runner’s knee, these are a few more of my favorite things:

– 12 oz Nathan handheld water bottle, for longer runs & trails

– lululemon {run} Speed Shorts (of which I have at least 10 pairs….)

Polar RC3 GPS Watch

Mizuno WaveRider 17 / 18 shoes (I order .5 size up)

–  TOMS flats, for everyday wear and keeping trashed running feet happy

Splish grab-bag swimsuits, which could in many different ways…

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What’s on your holiday wish-list?

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Forever Faster with Puma: Fitness + Comfort Gear Review

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf
of PUMA.
Opinions are my own.

I’ll start this out with an honest confession: I’ve not previously been inclined to buy Puma shoes. I had a casual pair in college that I loved the look of, but they essentially suffocated my feet. We just didn’t get mesh, and I had to accept that. Move on. Shop with wide-feet-needs in mind.

But I signed on to check out what Puma has been up to lately, knowing that as much as I’ve changed since my college days, they probably have too. They have some new fitness gear and shoes up for the challenge.

Logic came out with a huge win on this one!

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Let’s start with their Fashion Comfort line. Because if you should know anything about me it’s that I love wearing anything that is not denim. Work in a fitness retail store for a while, wearing spandex or some extension of lycra, every day? You’ll never be the same. My current job agrees, as does my current working-from-home situation.

PUMA Comfort Collage Dietitian on the Run

If you’re on Instagram, you may think my “fall” wardrobe consists of one Puma sweatshirt. You may not be entirely off. 

Here you see the French Terry Sweatshirt, which I’ve adapted to every situation I possibly can. It’s a sweatshirt with style – a little swagger that goes a long way. It’s soft, fits perfectly, and easily pairs with fitness and every-day gear (think: jeans, crops, sweats or shorts). The Progressive Trend Pants are the kind of thing you’ll see me wandering around in all the time. Loose at the top, fitted around the ankle; technical dryCELL material that draw sweat from the skin should you be out-and-about or getting in some activity with these pants.

Sale alert: the FT Sweatshirt is marked down! Snatch this gal up!

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Now, we have the real game-changers. I received two pairs of shoes to test out – see note above: I was a little weary of how these would feel, especially on some sensitive, post-marathon, trashed feet.

PUMA shoes_dietitian on the run

These shoes offer very different perks, but I may have discovered the key to Puma shoe-buying: order 1/2 a size up. I did so assuming they would be a little bit narrow, and 1) they don’t feel narrow at all, rather 2) they both fit like a sock. I can slip them on and off so easily, and just leave them by the door because I wear one or the other almost every day now.

The Mobium XT is perfect for cross-training activities such as weight-lifting (flat, minimal design) or spinning (lightweight, minimal, breathable, sleek). They’re officially my go-to gym shoe. You can hardly even tell you have them on, this is easily the lightest shoe I’ve ever worn. They twist, turn and bend with your moves. And they’re pretty chic – WIN.

Not totally convinced? Good – test them out for 30 days.

Next up – the Carson Runner. Designed for the to/from and around town things you might be up to. Breathable, with a little more cushion on the bottom for happy on-the-go feet. And while you’re on the go,  the anti-microbial sock liner’s got you covered.

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Alright, friends. Enough talk, not enough action.
Let’s hit the workout gear:

PUMA Fitness Clothes_Dietitian on the Run

I admit that my workout wardrobe is completely dominated by my days with lululemon. I know it’s pricey, and I sparingly purchase items now, but it fits and it’s functional and I rarely find things that compare on both levels.

This outfit hit the mark. I ordered the same size in both and just crossed my fingers it would work – check! The crops (Move 3/4 Capris) are fitted, but not muffin-top-creating spandex. They’re just the right 3/4 length (I’m 5’5”), and most importantly, comfortable. Sale alert$24.50 > you’re welcome.

The Gym Tank is a stylish black top with a little shine a little hint of ‘pool’ green. I approve. The length was just-right, fit is true to size and Lycra-Sport material blend moves right with you. As you can see, I’ve tested this top up and down: 5-stars. Sale alert: Currently selling for $28 > so you’ve now got a new workout outfit for under $60!

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Add these to your shopping carts or holiday wish-lists if you’re on the market for some new gear with a sassy cat. They’ve really upped the game here and offer affordable kicks, crops and tops for any exerciser.

Nicely done, Puma. Thanks for the challenge to breakout of my brand boxes!

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What parts of your workout wardrobe need an upgrade? Have you tried any of the above? If so, let’s hear your thoughts, too!

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New Kicks, Same Game: Mizuno Wave Rider 18s (Review)

This  post is part of a sponsored campaign with Mizuno on behalf of Fitfluential. Opinions are my own.

MIzuno WaveRider18 Run

Over the past few weeks you may have seen a new kid on the blocks, making waves in the Bay. The Mizuno WaveRider 18 has arrived, with a sleek new design, just enough support and the influence of “Hado” at its back.

Hado –
intrinsic vibrational life force energy
that promotes powerful transformations.

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As of last fall I’ve been a Mizuno-runner, through and through. I was converted by the 17’s, which have now run two marathons with me, blaze the trails with my Hayates, and save the Sayonaras for short races and/or Wednesdays…when we wear pink.

Now, my little Mizuno family has grown by two feet:  Mizuno WaveRider18_group1

Mizuno circle_waverider 18

They didn’t arrive in time for marathon adjustments, so I’ve used them in-between long runs to switch it up. We’re still getting to know this little black sheep, but the kicks have made a few first impressions:

Lightweight – 7.8 oz, to be exact.

Neutral – which is the only way I take my shoes.

Balance – of fit and performance. They’re trained and designed to take the energy of your run and give you a smooth, sleek ride.

Familiarity – the same, trusted Mizuno-patented Wave Technology that responds to your stride and provides support for your run. They’re also very wide-foot-friendly! WF gals know what I’m talkin ‘bout.

One thing to keep in mind: they feel a little tighter in the heel, and definitely take a run or two until they’re warmed up and ready to go. As with any new shoe, give them  an intro phase and take it easy! Throw in a few strides on your second or third run and let the responsive technology kick in.

Mizuno WaveRider18 Black

If you’re looking for a new yin to your foot’s yang, give the Wave line a try. I’ve yet to consider any Mizuno shoe a bad fit.

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