Sunday, July 31, 2016

Road ID - Run with Peace of Mind

Alright, if you're going to go out into the world and run, you are going to have to accept that occasionally, bad things can happen.  Imagine you're out running and something happens that renders you unable to communicate with anyone who could come to your aid (heart attack, car crash, fall and hit your head) - how would they know what to do?  Unless you're running with a close family member who has some level of responsibility for your welfare, it would be hard to know.

Enter Road ID - a way to visibly carry pertinent information about you and contact information for those who most need to know what happens to you.  Mine (Wrist ID Elite) has my name, birth year, town and state where I live, key phone numbers, allergies, and blood type.  It has a rubbery pink band with a secure metal clasp.  Personally, I think it's pretty stylish!  If you get a rubber version, you just cut off the excess, so there are no sizes to worry about.
This will give you an idea of size for the Wrist ID Elite.
Clasp of the Wrist ID Elite.
Of course, the possibilities are endless - check their website for the full lineup (www.roadid.com).  There is now a slimmer version of mine available (see image below), and they also come in a "sport" band (more mesh-like).  For those who want to avoid an extra tan line, they also make tags that will fit onto your existing Fitbit, Apple Watch, or Garmin vivosmart.  There are even military-style dog tags (called the FIXX ID) for those who are infinitely cooler than me, and shoe tags.  Did I mention they even have tags that can go on your dog's collar?  The end to Fido's clanging dog tags!
Slimmer version of mine (Road ID)
Definitely check their website for all options and products because there are ton of products/services depending on your activities and preferences.  To really personalize your Road ID, you can add those narrow bands (some have words, race distances, or pictures) to tell the world a little more about you.  Having this information readily accessible for responders and medical professionals can save critical time.

And in case you didn't catch it in the above picture, it's incredibly reasonably priced.  When I just clicked into their website, I even got an offer for free shipping.  First responders also get 50% off with their "hero's discount" and Road ID donates money to first responder charities for first responders who get "Road ID Certified."
Donations as reported by Road ID, 7/31/16.
So be careful and aware when you run, but it's also smart to be prepared for the worst.  Make it as easy as possible for anyone trying to help you to know any key medical information and/or who to call for you.  With this peace of mind, you can really focus on your run.  It also makes a great gift for those active people in your life.  So stay safe out there and happy running!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

5 Tips For Choosing A Race

Participating in races is one of the best parts of running - camaraderie, race t-shirts, chills when they play the national anthem, the joy of finishing (no matter the time), and of course the medals.  With the increase in running's popularity, there are more races than ever to choose from.  You could run a race every weekend if you wanted to (though I seriously do not recommend it)!  When you're ready to plan your first race, or your next race, here are a five things to consider:

1. Distance: How far do you really want to go?  It may be on your list, but your very first race probably shouldn't be a marathon.  Half marathons and 5ks are really prevalent and popular, but you can also find 10ks, which are a fantastic distance.  Been running a while?  Choose a race with a funky distance for a guaranteed PR!
Great local 10k with friends!
2. Date: Do you have enough time to train for the race you want to run?  No race is worth an injury, so don't force it.  Make sure you have enough weeks to follow a smart training plan or manage your expectations for what you'll really be able to do in the race (i.e. come to terms with having to walk portions of the distance).

3. Distance from Home: Traveling to races is so fun (honestly, I can't remember the last time I took a vacation that wasn't based around a race), but it adds a new level of complexity - travel logistics, potentially a different climate and geography, planning your meals differently.  If you're used to training in cooler temperatures, it can feel disappointing doing a race in warmer/more humid temperatures.  Prepare and set goals accordingly.

Are you ready for this? (Antarctic Ice Marathon)
4. Course: Everyone likes to advertise a "flat and fast" course.  Being a native Chicagoan (i.e. land of flat), I can tell you that just because they say it is, that doesn't mean it will feel like running on a pancake.  Don't fear hills, but know what you're getting into.  Let's take a look at two half marathon race elevation charts:
(Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon)
Doesn't look too bad right?  This type of course is called a "point to point," meaning that it starts and ends in a different place.  It also means that it's a relentless uphill climb, ending about 200 feet higher than it started, which is roughly like climbing 20 stories over the course of 13.1 miles.  That can be taxing if you're not used to it

(Arizona Distance Classic)
Now this race looks SCARY right?  This course starts and ends at the same place, also called a "loop" course.  The nice part about a race like this is that what goes up must come down, and for each uphill, you also get a nice downhill.  I've run this race, I loved it, and I would definitely run it again.

Finishing the Arizona Distance Classic with my mom!
I'll tell you that what makes this course challenging isn't the hills, it's the overall elevation of the race location.  Tucson, Arizona is a lot higher above sea level than Nashville, which also means that the air is thinner (less oxygen and feels harder).  It's also completely exposed (it is the desert after all), so if the sun is out, it's on you the whole time.  Thankfully, it's a March race, and with super low humidity, the conditions are great for running - just wear sunscreen!

5. Race Support: This may not seem important, but it is.  If you don't want to have to worry about carrying hydration with you, make sure you pick a race that has plenty of water stops.  Also, picking a race with lots of crowd encouragement and entertainment can help the miles fly by.

Water Drops are Aid Stations (Indy Women's Half Marathon)
All of this being said, do a race that you really WANT to do, that inspires you, that you think would be fun to do.  If you're excited about a race, you'll figure out the logistics and the hills won't matter nearly as much.  Find out what drives you - whether it's running with friends, chasing a PR, adding to your race shirt collection, or finding the best medal in production.  There is a perfect race out there for everyone with any goal so go find your race and happy running!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

RunDisney Makes 5k Medals "Metal"

RunDisney keeps the medal surprises coming this week!  That makes me one happy runner girl.  With a communication release to keep making updates to their races based on runner feedback, we have learned two things today:

1. RunDisney is going to start making their race programs available digitally
2. Starting with the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, 5k races will now receive metal medals (exception, Disneyland Paris 5k will still have a rubber "medallion")

Disneyland 5k, Mickey's Holiday 5k, and Captain America 5k Medals (runDisney)
Of course this has resulted in a swirl of commentary from avid Disney runners.  As you might expect, some are happy, some are disappointed that they will no longer receive the colorful, rubber "medallions" that used to accompany 5k race completions.

I'll be honest, I've never run a Disney 5k race, in part because I have not been a fan of the rubber medallions.  Call me a medal snob, but it just hasn't seemed worth it to me.  Now .... well runDisney may have found yet another way to get to me.  I mean, the idea of going to the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend and NOT walking away with a real Beauty and the Beast themed medal ... I just don't think I could stand it!

Well played runDisney, well played.  If this is what's in store for your upgrades over 2016-2017, I'm pretty excited to see more.  For anyone thinking that earning a runDisney "medal" was previously unattainable, think again!  Put these great races on your calendars and run happy!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Medal Reveal!

Get ready to drool.  RunDisney released images of the Inaugural Half Marathon, kids races, 5k, and Castle to Chateau Challenge medals today.  I'm still trying to pick my jaw up off the floor and it's killing me that I am not going to be earning these babies September 23-25.  Maybe I'll have to reconsider ...

Castle to Chateau Medal (runDisney)
Half Marathon Medal (runDisney)
I run races for a lot of reasons, but amazing medals are definitely one of them.  RunDisney has outdone themselves with these and I will definitely have to put them on my list one day.  For everyone running it - good luck!  What an unforgettable experience it will be!  Inaugural races are always something special.

Paris Half Marathon Weekend Medals (runDisney)
For anyone still considering, the race is technically sold out, but there may be package entries still available through a partner travel agency (who will also have tour packages available including hotels and park tickets).  RunDisney is also going to be making a small quantity of bib-only entries available starting August 23.  For more information, check out run.disneylandparis.com and no matter what race you may be planning for, dreaming about, or lusting after ... happy running!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Nuun - When Water Isn't Enough

It seems that lately, everyone is on a quest to drink more water (myself included).  In fact, maybe go get a glass of water right now .... please?  We know that hydration is important essential.  For runners, it matters even more, especially when the temperatures soar to scorching levels.  Dehydration causes all kinds of effects detailed in the most technical terms in the book, Sport Nutrition.  You don't need to read it.  Just trust me.  It's nearly 500 pages, which is a lot of pages.  Even a 2% decrease in body weight through sweat can lead to bad things like:
  • Cramps
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
That's a really miserable way to run people!  I'll never forget one of the worst runs of my life that has been permanently burned into my brain - my dad took me out to run 10 miles in the middle of summer along an exposed highway without any water.  I'm not making this up.  I may have stopped and thrown a temper tantrum until we darted into someone's backyard to drink from their hose.  Not one of my finer moments.  Anyway, it's important to stay hydrated throughout the day, but when it comes to running when do you really need water and when is water not enough?

Short runs (few miles) - If it's cold, I don't usually take anything.  If it's warm/hot, I'll bring water.

Short runs in serious heat or long runs (5 miles or more) - I use a supplement in my water.

It doesn't matter if you think you're running fast or slow - it all has to do with the conditions, your level of hydration going into it, and how much you're perspiring.  For this girl, there is no "glistening," no "sparkling," I am straight up sweating.  A lot.  I've made my peace with it and I also discovered Nuun.
So many yummy flavors ...
Gatorade is delicious and all, but part of why I run is to counterbalance what I eat, and if I'm drinking a bunch of sugar while I'm running, I feel like that defeats some of the purpose.  Nuun has 4 little calories per serving and zero sugar, but the right balance of electrolytes and sodium to keep you going.  It's also gluten, dairy, and soy free.  For those that need a little extra pep in their step, there is  Nuun Energy, which has b vitamins and caffeine.

2 servings per tablet.
And the magic doesn't end there!  Nuun comes in these tubes of tablets, which make them easy for transport.  When you plop them in water, they are effervescent, which is code for "more quickly absorbed into your system."  Did I mention they taste great?  Enough flavor without knocking you over.  Bonus points for being easy to get your hands on - you can get them online, in most running stores, and I've even found single tablets for sale at my grocery store.  One tube of these babies (12 tablets) will run you about $7.  Stay hydrated and happy running! 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

And So It Begins ...

I haven't always been a runner.  In fact, growing up I went to some pretty great lengths to avoid running.  Then I got older and out of shape.  I decided I needed to do something for myself and running seemed like the cheapest, most convenient way to do just that.  Just walk out the door and bound around town like a gazelle right?  Spoiler alert: it's not that easy.

I was also trying to find a way to connect with my dad, a phenomenal runner (and I mean seriously phenomenal).  That sounds like a great thing - expert help for free!  Yes ... but also tough for someone at my level who didn't know the first thing about anything - the right socks to wear, sports bras, pace, distance, plantar fasciitis, fartleks, the list was eneless.  If you're reading this and don't know about them, don't worry.  I promise you're not alone.  Let's face it, for a simple activity, running can be pretty darn intimidating.

But I was determined.  I had heard about this new race called the Disney Princess Half Marathon and that had my name all over it.  I was going to do it and a February race took away all my excuses for quitting once the winter hit.  Starting was hard and I learned a lot of things the hard way.  I was naively surprised when things didn't work the same way for me and my dad - I know, shocker right?  Still, I was determined and excited - I was going to finish this race if it was the last thing I did.

I went to the expo and bought one of everything, telling myself that this would be my one and only.  Bucket list, check.  The morning of the race, I toed the line with thousands of other runners, "Princess Lindsay" printed on my bib, scared out of my ever loving mind.  It took me nearly 3 hours to run that first race and it hurt, bad.  But that sense of pride, accomplishment, elation and (maybe above all else) community when I saw others hobbling around the parks at Disney World later that day was undeniably satisfying.  This was it, I was officially a runner.
2009.  Let the medal addiction begin!
It wasn't long before I started lusting after the Coast to Coast medal (what you get for running a half marathon in both Disney World and Disneyland in the same year).  Ah RunDisney, you identified my weakness for medals early on!  And so it began, a life-changing love affair with running.  It hasn't been easy, but then nothing really worth anything ever is.  I wouldn't change it for the world either.  I've gone back to the Disney Princess Half Marathon every year since (Perfect Princess woo hoo!) and think of how far I have come.

Now I am in a different place - marathons and PRs and 8 Disney Princess Half Marathons later - where I am finding the most joy from helping others.  It goes back to that community and I want to help anyone and everyone else, no matter where you are in your relationship with running.  I'm pretty sure I have made every mistake possible and continue to make them.  I hope you'll also share your stories with me because let me tell you the learning never stops.  Thanks for reading and run happy!

- "Princess" Lindsay