Archive for September, 2012

Confessions Of A Headband Addict – GlitzBandz Product Review

My name is Michyla, and I’m a Headband Addict. I love headbands. I love them for running, I love them for days when I just don’t want to do my hair. I hate stray hairs in my face, and I hate my bangs on my forehead when I run.

I own fifteen sport headbands in a variety of brands and styles. Seven of them are GlitzBandz, more than any other single brand.

I first heard about GlitzBandz through a review on another blog, The Boring Runner. I was intrigued by the no-slip claims made by GlitzBandz owner, Emily. I love headbands, but I loathe having to use bobby pins to hold them on my head. I’ve tried every so-called no-slip headband on the market, but they all inevitably slip backwards and off the back of my head. Then I saw Adam’s sparkly ninja demonstration pictures and I knew I had to try one (or three as it ended up!).

GlitzBandz owner, Emily, has a wide variety of styles and widths of ribbon to choose from. I got excited when I saw all the patterns and knew I wouldn’t be able to choose just one. She also offers a bulk discount – buy two headbands and get the third for half price! Sold! I ordered three, at a total cost of only $25.00!

My GlitzBandz arrived promptly and I loved them immediately! They really don’t slip, I swear! I find the wider styles do move a little bit, but nothing like my other, more expensive headbands. The narrower, standard width GlitzBandz don’t move AT ALL! The only downside I’ve found is that I’m a very sweaty runner and they don’t wick sweat. For that reason I use them fall/winter/spring, but still use a sweat wicking band in the heat of the summer. I even wore my sparkly purple GlitzBandz for my first half marathon and for my recent 10K PR race, and have a new aqua sparkly one for my upcoming Ultra Relay.  Who doesn’t love a little sparkle sometimes? 🙂

My GlitzBandz collection, including my custom maple leaf one!

For the purpose of this review, Emily sent me a reflective white headband to check out. I do the vast majority of my runs after my kids are in bed, and our days are growing rapidly shorter. Every run but one that I’ve done over the past two weeks has been in the pitch dark. I love reflective items, and faithfully wear my amphipod xinglet harness, LED ankle band, headlight, and now, reflective GlitzBandz. It is just as reflective as my other items, and anything I can do to make myself more visible to vehicles is great.

Night running safety gear

I took these pictures before and after a run in the dark to show you how my reflective GlitzBandz didn’t slip at all. Also notice the absence of sweaty hair in my face in the “after” picture!

Before…

…After!

 

Emily is going to give away a FREE GlitzBandz to one of you! There are several ways to enter!

– Like the GlitzBandz page on Facebook AND leave a comment on the wall stating which headband you would choose if you win (Tell Emily I sent you!) = one entry

– check out the GlitzBandz website AND sign up for the GlitzBandz email list = one entry

– sign up to follow my blog (just enter your email address in the box to the right of your screen) = one entry

– tweet about this post or link to it on your blog = one entry EVERY TIME!

Make sure you leave comments here when you do each thing so I know what you’ve done to gain entries. I will assign a series of numbers to each entrant (based on how many entries you qualify for) then use random.org to choose a lucky winner on October 10th at 9:00 p.m. Runners take your mark!

Gotta run!

*I am in no way affiliated with GlitzBandz. I was not paid to endorse this item, and my review is a true representation of my opinion.*

Follow me on Twitter! @RunMommyRun3

Heartbeat Run Race Review

The Heartbeat Run is new to Saskatoon this year. 2012 marked the fourth year the event was held in Edmonton, with Calgary and Saskatoon events being added this fall. Each race is a fundraiser for that city’s local heart health clinic; RUH for Saskatoon.

When running an event’s inagural race you never really know what to expect. I arrived at the Running Room to pick up my race package on Friday evening and found my bib had been accidentally given to someone else. Eep! The race director very easily assigned me a new bib number and chip, but I still wonder who had my real bib! There were a few runners listed as “unknown” in the results, so likely one of them had my original bib.

My friend Morgan had signed up to run this 10K race with me. It was to be her first 10K, and she was pretty excited about it. We each got an email from the race director earlier in the week with all the usual information about parking, aid stations, and race rules. Ah yes, race rules. No iPods. What?! They banned iPods? It’s usual for them to be “discouraged,” but to come right out and ban them seemed…  odd. I’ve mentioned in the past my strong dependence on music when I run. I’ve tried to run without music, and I just can’t do it. Morgan is the same, so we both felt equally panicked by this rule. When she arrived to pick up her package she asked about the no iPod rule and was told it wouldn’t be enforced, just be smart about it. So basically, do the things that we do anyway: keep the volume low, take out one or both earbuds when you see a marshall in case they have directions for you, take out ear buds at aid stations, etc. I can live with that.

In the race package was a cotton t-shirt (another one for my quilt!), and several samples from sponsors: multi-vitamins and Honey Stinger energy chews. Everything was gathered in a re-usable cloth bag, bonus!

We arrived by the riverbank Saturday morning for a very civilized 9:00 a.m. start time. Our days are cooler now, and this run took place 100% on paved river trails, so no road closures were necessary. These things combined allowed for a later start time, which I appreciated. The races started and ended near the Mendel Art Gallery, so there was plenty of free parking (bonus!). After some deliberation and discussion with the skies, I settled on a short sleeved tech shirt and my new Asics running capris (love them!).

The course was a loop, and included two bridges crossing the river. The course would’ve actually been 10.5 km, so all the 10K runners walked in a pack 500m down the trail to the start line. Morgan and I were at the porta-potties (there were actually enough, no line-ups!!!) when the pack left, so we were a little nervous that we’d miss the start. We caught up though, and were able to line up with time to spare. Besides this group walk to the start, I found it a little odd that there wasn’t a timing mat at the start line. When the whistle blew, the clock began, and everyone’s timing chips started at the same time. This resulted in everyone having a gun time and no true “chip time” that started when they actually crossed the start line. The event was small enough this year that it wasn’t a big deal, but the route may have to change in the future if it grows too much, in order to accomodate a timing mat.

We started off heading north from the Mendel, with Morgan again putting some decent distance between us. I worked VERY hard to keep my pace in check for the first two kilometers, but almost every time I checked my watch I was pacing faster than I should’ve been. I struggle with this on every race I enter, and it continues to be one of the biggest challenges I have while racing. The pay off for my patience began by the three kilometer mark when I started passing other runners who had started too fast. I caught Morgan and she said she was doing well, which I took to mean that her knee wasn’t bothering her. I continued on along the twisty path, trying hard to run as straight a line as possible. There are a lot of short curves in the Meewasin Trail on the east side of the river, but if you work at it you can run an almost straight line in a lot of places and hit the inside of every curve. This course wasn’t certified, but I know that certified courses use the shortest possible route, so I try to use this strategy in all my races.

We crossed the river again on the busy Sid Buckwold Bridge, one I’ve never run across before but drive across all the time. The pedestrian walkway is just wide enough for two people, but the runners were spaced out enough by this point that it was okay. Except for the two friends running together who insisted on running side by side! If you run with a friend, please don’t take up the entire running area! At least leave a passing lane for other runners to get by you.

As we curved north again after the bridge we came to the third and final aid station. The 5K runners had started a half hour after the 10K, so they were in full swing on their course by this time. This aid station served both courses, and there was some confusion as the 10K runners had to turn north and the 5K runners had to go south. I pulled both my ear buds out as I approached the water table and called out to a volunteer who pointed me in the correct direction as she handed me water. Thank goodness for volunteers who know what they’re doing! A sign at this point would’ve been very helpful as well though. The volunteers were busy looking after two races worth of runners, and it was just by luck that I was able to get the attention of one of them.

As we headed north on the final leg of our course, we came across the start/finish area of another race taking place the same day! It seemed a little awkward as our course went right under their banner, but we didn’t have much choice. The two runs obviously weren’t aware of each other when they planned their courses! There was a photographer here taking pictures of all of us, and I still don’t know which race actually hired him! If no pictures turn up on the Heartbeat Run website, I’ll have to check out the site of the other race and see if we’re there, lol!

This other race festival was also where my parents were waiting to cheer me on! I had no idea they were coming, so it was  huge surprise and mental boost to see them at the 8.5 km mark. (My Mom said later to me “a lot of the other runners looked like they were in serious pain, but you looked so relaxed!” Thanks Mom, huge compliment to a runner!) I smiled and waved enthusiastically to them, and carried on towards the finish. At the 9.5 km point I started to surge and my parents did a drive-by with my Mom waving and cheering out the passenger window. It was great, but hard to run a finish and laugh at the same time! 🙂 I finished strong through the chute and grinned as I saw the clock – 53:32 was my official time, beating my previous 10K personal best by 39 seconds! A volunteer hung a medal around my neck (yes, a medal for a 10K! So unexpected, but super cool) and I grabbed some water before heading back to watch for Morgan.

Morgan came through in 1:00:27 amidst big cheers from me and her parents. She was upset because she’d wanted to finish under an hour, but her knee had started acting up again midway through the race (yes, she’s starting physio soon) and had affected her pace. Will you all please join me in reminding her that this was her FIRST 10K RACE! That is a heck of a time for your first 10K! Even as I was saying this to her over and over again, I could understand her disappointment. I had that same goal in my first 10K, and I’d missed a big 5K goal last summer and was crushed. I know how it feels to work hard for a goal and then not quite make it.

Post-race food – awesome! Muffins, bagels, bananas, apples, oranges! It was all fresh, and there was lots of it. We sat down to eat our snacks and listened to the race director talk about the Heartbeat Run events in Alberta and Saskatchewan (Saskatoon’s race was Sept 16, with Edmonton and Calgary the following Saturday and Sunday – possibly room for a special medal if you run at all three??? Hint, hint!).  A woman got up to speak about her own personal experience with heart health. She had received a heart transplant in March, 2011, and was there today walking her first 1K. That put it all in perspective, and made me glad I had come to the race. Once again, my family’s new resolution to move because you can came to mind. If you are able bodied and able to exercise even a little to improve your own health, do it. There’s someone out there who wishes they could.

Overall, it was a successful day. I achieved a new personal best time of 53:32, and finished 31st of 112 overall and 4th of 22 in my age group. Pretty decent I thought! Prizes were given to the top three in each age group – discounts on next year’s race entry fee. Brilliant – this will keep strong runners coming back next year, ensuring that this race continues to attract both serious and beginner runners. I look forward to adding this race to my annual race schedule.

Did you run in the first annual Heartbeat Run in Saskatoon? Did you race somewhere else this weekend? I love reading race reports, leave your blog address here and I’ll go check it out!

Gotta run.

Lead Up To The Heartbeat Run

Well. What a few weeks it has been. In my last post I mentioned how I had the most difficult training week of my plan coming up and also a very hectic week in my life’s schedule. I wasn’t sure how (or if) I was going to fit it all in. I was thrown a terrible curveball on Tuesday of that week when my Dad called to tell me my maternal grandmother, age 95, had suffered a stroke. No matter how prepared you are by the knowledge that a family member is getting older it still doesn’t lessen the blow when something like this happens. My Mom drove six hours to be with her, and kept me updated. Thursday at lunchtime I got a text from my aunt saying that Grandma wasn’t doing very well.  She wasn’t opening her eyes, and was responding very little to the voices around her. My husband immediately got on the phone and made arragements for our kids to stay with his Mom for a few days and I left to go see my Grandma and say good bye.

I arrived early evening and had a good visit with her. She had improved a bit as I drove, and had her eyes open and said hello to me when I came in. My Mom had told me she likely wouldn’t know who I was, but she sure did. I was immediately glad I had come, and I felt that I got the closure I really needed. The next morning I set out for a tempo run to clear my head before visiting Grandma one last time at the hospital. This was a very emotional visit for me because I knew it was likely the last time I would see her, but I didn’t want her to know that’s what I was thinking and feeling. My Mom and I had a good cry together and then I drove back to Saskatoon in time for the commitment I had Friday evening and all day Saturday.

Saturday evening I picked up my kids and hugged them extra tight. I was too mentally and emotionally drained from the events of the week to attempt a run that night. It likely would’ve made me feel better, but I just couldn’t think of anything except sleeping. The next morning was Sunday, and I took the kids to the last gymkhana of the season in our town. My four year old daughter rode very well and we all had fun “playing horses” all day. It was a much needed break for us all.

Taper week. My “intense speed work” week had not gone exactly as planned. I still got in a few key runs, but I missed a few too. This made me re-think my taper a bit. I’ve never been a huge fan of tapering. I understand the reasoning behind it, and it makes sense to me, but I often feel sluggish in races, and I always wonder if it’s a result of tapering too conservatively.  I had a few minutes to read through some of the October Runner’s World that had arrived that weekend and found the article “Reload To Race” on page 30. Finally a taper I can get on board with! I had already cut back my mileage the week before (unintentionally), so I was in the right position to try out the “Turn It Up” plan for a 10K race. I followed the assigned runs for Thursday and Friday, but I decided to still rest on Saturday instead of the prescribed run. The only time I had to run that day was in the evening, and that’s not ideal with a race 12 hours later.

In an effort to keep my posts from being too long, I will write my race review as a separate post which will publish in the next couple of days. I’d love if you’d subsribe to my blog so you don’t miss it!

My Grandma is still stable, but still in the hospital. My Mom came home for a few days but is now back there with her. My Grandma has always been a very healthy, strong woman, so it’s very difficult for all of us to see her like this. She still hangs in the balance and her condition could still go either way. We really don’t know what’s going to happen, and the not knowing is hard. We’re all trying now more than ever to live each day to the fullest in her honor. I talked to my Mom a couple of days ago and she said she’d just been out for a walk “because I can.” I’ve resolved to try to let go of things that don’t really  matter and enjoy the things that do matter more.

Thank you all for your kind words and tweets these past few weeks. It’s amazing how powerful a few encouraging words from people I’ve never actually met face to face can be.

Gotta run.

 

10K Challenge

I’m someone who needs a training plan. I feel lost if I’m just running random distances with no goal in mind. I need a race to work towards to help myself stay motivated, and I need a training plan to help me get there.

After “the half marathon that wasn’t,” I had five weeks until my next race, a 10K. This will be only my second 10K of 2012, as I’ve been training for and running half marathons for the majority of the year. I started looking at plans on Hal Higdon’s website as I’ve used his plans in the past and liked them. I actually prefer Bart Yasso’s training plans, but my Dad borrowed My Life On The Run (plans are all in the back of the book!) and hasn’t given it back yet – grrrrrr!

I first looked at the Higdon Intermediate 10K training plan. After following half marathon training plans all year it just seemed… well… easy. Too easy. I really want a PB in this race, so I clicked the link for the Advanced 10K. This plan made me nervous. I followed the Higdon Advanced 5K plan last summer when I desperately wanted to come in under 25 minutes in my last 5K race of the season. It was too much for me, and by the last weeks before my race I was dreading my runs. I felt I’d already gone for that long, and it would be silly to quit with just two weeks to go, so I forced myself to finish the plan and run the race. When race day came I went out too fast and ended up finishing in 25:40, far behind my goal of 24:59, and a ways behind my PB of 25:24. I was mad at myself, but relieved that it was over. This was not how I wanted to feel about running, so I ran just once a week for the next month, finished a fun 10K night trail race, then took six weeks completely off of running before I actually felt the desire to run again.

I DON’T want this to happen again! I printed off the Advanced 10K plan, but made my own rules. I’m allowed to switch run days around to suit my other life commitments. On days that say “3 mile run or rest,” I will rest. I also gave myself permission to skip one additional run per week. This plan calls for five to six runs a week, and I often find that’s just too much for me. I usually feel guilty if I miss a run on my plan, but this time I just accepted it right from the beginning. If I skip a run, however, I skip an easy run. I don’t skip speed work, and I don’t skip my long runs.

Hal Higdon supports the idea of ramping up your mileage for a week or two, then stepping back for a week to recover. I like that, and I know that when I have a week of really tough runs, I’ll get an easy week next week as a reward. This week has been an easy week, next week (week 7) is very challenging. It will be made even more challenging by the sheer amount of life commitments I have next week. My kids start preschool, I’m parent helper one of those days, they start swimming lessons, and we have three full days of commitments in the city. My husband is busy with the harvest, so that means I have to make supper for a crew of hungry men and take it out to the field every evening. Oh, and I promised my daughter I’d take her and her horse to our town’s last gymkhana of the summer on Sunday. I keep looking at my jam-packed calendar, then looking at my training plan, trying to figure out how this is going to work. Honestly, I don’t know if it will! I have a long run, a tempo run, a speed work session of 12x400m repeats, a pace run, and one easy run. The total mileage for that week will be just as high as it was when I was training for half marathons. Yikes!

The carrot at the end of the stick is that the following week is taper week, then the race. I feel confident that I can set a new PB in this race, and am really looking forward to it. I don’t feel over-trained like I did at this time last year, and my legs feel strong when I run after a summer of half marathons. I will also be running this race with my friend Morgan, and it will be her first 10K. Her excited texts have helped me stay motivated, and I look forward to toeing a start line with her again!

How is your fall training going? Any big races on the horizon?

Gotta run! (And run, and run, and run…)

Follow me on Twitter – @RunMommyRun3

Energy Bits Product Review

A while ago on #runchat night I got to chatting with a rep from ENERGYbits. I was immediately intrigued by their product – an all-natural energy source for athletes. As I’ve mentioned before, I have frequent stomach problems during races which I believe are caused by both nerves and my fuel choices. I have tried several different brands and products, but they all seem to upset my GI tract by the 12km mark.

ENERGYbits are made of 100% organically grown spirulina algae. They are high in protein and have just one calorie per tab.  “Endorsed by the United Nations as the most nutritious food on earth, spirulina algae has been a favorite of Olympic gold medalists for decades and is a super food in every sense of the word, delivering instant and enduring energy to your brain and body.”ENERGYbits website

My free sample arrived in the mail a few weeks later and I immediately popped the top off the little tin. Whoa. This stuff smells like fish food! Okay, to be fair, it IS algae after all, what did I think it would smell like? There were 65 tabs in my sample, enough for two doses plus five left over. I decided to wait until I had a more challenging run to try them out, so I could properly compare them to other fueling options.

A couple of days later my training plan called for 9x400m repeats at mile pace with 400m recovery between each, plus a warm-up and cool-down of course. Perfect! I carefully counted out my dose of ENERGYbits – THIRTY tabs. This was a big draw-back for me actually. I’m not someone who has a problem taking pills, but thirty was still a lot to swallow. The ENERGYbits people say it’s actually better to chew them, but they’re “an acquired taste,” so best to just swallow at first. Yeah, fish food is an acquired taste too. 😛 Three handfuls of ten later the algae was in my stomach and I headed out for my run.

My run went very well and I was pleased with my energy levels and my split times (1:46, 1:54, 1:47, 1:46, 1:55, 1:52, 1:57, 1:55, 1:49). I don’t think I had any MORE energy than I would’ve after taking a gel or chewing some chomps, but I definitely had just as much. My run totalled 10km, and I had zero stomach issues. My stomach usually only acts up in a race situation, but I thought it might with the faster speeds of the repeats in this work-out. I made it through just fine, and had no trouble sleeping after this evening work-out.

Trial #2 was during a 10km tempo run, with 5 of those kilometers at 10K race pace (5:27/km for me currently). I swallowed the rest of my ENERGYbits, 35 this time. Again, I had no stomach problems and the same energy levels I would expect after taking a gel or some chews. Excellent!

Pros: This is an all-natural product. Most people who have digestive issues in races blame it on the processed and unnatural ingredients in their fuel. Many runners have recommended that I try a natural fuel, and this did seem to work. The travel tin they came in was a convenient way to transport the tabs.

Cons: The smell, the taste, the fact that you have to take 30 tabs for one dose. For this reason, I think it would be nearly impossible to use mid-race. A gel or a couple chomps are easy to take while on the run, thirty pills isn’t. The cost also makes me hesitate – 1000 tabs retails for $115.00 USD. At thirty tabs per dose, that ends up being 33 doses at $3.48 a pop, and that’s before shipping.  That’s about the same price we pay for a package of chomps here, except that eight to ten chomps will last me an entire half marathon, and I don’t think one dose of thirty bits would have the same power over a two hour run. However, to be fair, my training has slowed a bit in the mileage department right now, so I didn’t have a really long run to try these with.

Overall: I’m still on the fence. I love that there are no artificial energy sources or additives in ENERGYbits, but the smell and sheer volume was  a turn-off.

FREE FOR YOU! You can try ENERGYbits too! Simply “like” them on facebook or tweet them on Twitter and a rep will contact you to send you a sample so you can try them too. The rep has also provided me with a discount code to share with all of you! When you order, enter the code RUN at the check-out to save 30%! That translates to savings of $34.50, making that 1000 tab tin only $80.50 ($2.43 per 30 tab dose). Big savings, so if you’re intrigued like I am and want to give them a try, now is the time!

Have you tried ENERGYbits or another form of natural energy or work-out fuel? What did you think?

Gotta run.

Follow me on Twitter! @RunMommyRun3