Detroit Marathon: Week 11 training recap

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Is anyone else feeling a little beat up from last weekend’s Hood to coast adventure?

Note to self for Napa’s Ragnar Relay in September: Try to temper that adrenaline rush!

Here’s what was on deck for the week:

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Aside from feeling tired overall, I’m also nursing a tweaked calf because — despite my best attempts at stretching between legs and using some massage tools in the van — it was nearly impossible to stay limber when alternating racing with being cramped in close quarters for 30-odd hours.

So my body was definitely telling me to back off this week, and I tried my best to listen while maintaining my training schedule. Case in point: Check out these stats from my tempo run last week.

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And this week’s run, exactly seven days later — same route, same time of day, same feeling of exertion, only it’s 20+ seconds slower per mile. Ouch. And this is after a massage and an appointment with a trainer to work on some stretching and strengthening exercises for my lower legs.

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But I can’t feel too discouraged; Tuesday’s track workout went well, and I nailed my paces.

Speed work is officially over, and now we’re moving into the strength portion of the training program. This means I’ll be doing longer repeats, but they’ll be closer to goal marathon pace — just 10 seconds faster, in fact.

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I thought this shot was particularly appropriate for how it felt to be running another workout of almost eight miles around the track, though: infinitely endless!

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The plan, going forward? Rest more, focus on recovery, be consistent with my daily stretching and strengthening exercises…and try to get that calf feeling happy again.

Onward to week 12! Thanks for following along :)

5 things I love about the Runtastic Orbit activity tracker

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Earlier this month, I mentioned that my friends at Fit Approach asked if I’d like to check out the new Runtastic Orbit. While I had yet to jump on the fitness tracker bandwagon — because, hey, I’m fairly active as-is and already track my weekly mileage — I thought it’d be fun to experiment with a different way of quantifying my weekly activity.

To be honest, though, I wasn’t expecting much more than a glorified pedometer. But after a few weeks of testing this puppy, I’m officially converted!

Rather than ramble off a full list of features and benefits (for all that info, visit the site), however, I want to address exactly WHY I’m digging the Orbit so much. Here are five reasons why it’s become my latest training buddy:

1. It’s user-friendly

Although I work in tech PR, I can be surprisingly un-techy at times. But the Orbit was easy to set up and simple to use. Just charge it, download the accompanying Runtastic Me mobile app, press the navigation button, and you’re good to go. Who wants to read through a complicated owner’s manual when the goal is to just get moving?

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2. It’s cordless

Charging aside, that is — and even then the battery life is about five days. But when it comes to syncing, there’s no need for pesky USBs, which makes it much easier to use on the fly. All I do is open the app and have my Orbit nearby, then all the information transfers quickly and seamlessly from the device to the app dashboard for me to access (and pore over…see no. 5).

3. It’s durable 

While it’s not (yet) tracking activities such as swimming and biking, the Orbit is waterproof up to 300 feet. To put that in perspective: Most other wearables on the market can barely handle a shower. It’s nice to know I can go about my day, whether I’m at the pool or doing dishes, and not have to think about removing it.

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4. It reminds me to move

What good is tracking all of this activity (or lackthereof) if you aren’t able to act on it and establish better habits? I do a lot of computer work (i.e. sit on my butt for hours at a time), but I can set the Orbit to vibrate when I’m idle for more than an hour, which is a great reminder to keep me from sitting in one spot for too long.

5. It helps me sleep

Well, not literally — as great as it is, the Orbit can’t sing me a lullaby or rock me into REM — but having the ability to view sleep length and quality has gotten me into the habit of trying to hit the sack a bit earlier. Yes, having a competitive streak can also come in handy when it comes to getting in good slumber time.

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Courtesy of tomsguide.com

And coming soon, Runtastic promises to add some handy Orbit features, such as mood tracking and ambient light measurement to give you reminders when it’s time to reapply sunscreen. It’ll be a great feeling to know that your wearable’s not only got your back, but will also keep it from getting burned!

For more information, visit the website here.

I was provided a Runtastic Orbit device for review. All opinions are my own.  

10 dos and don’ts for running a 24-hour relay race

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During Monday morning’s post-race recovery run (ouch), I had plenty of time to reflect back on last weekend’s Hood to Coast experience. It may have been my first relay, but it certainly won’t be my last — so I wanted to share some learnings that I’ll be applying again come Ragnar Napa Valley next month (and hopefully HTC again next year!).

KineticFix’s 10 dos and don’ts of running a 24-hour relay race:

The DOs…

…train, at least a little bit. 

Running takes enough motivation as-is, but factor in lack of sleep, back-to-back runs over varied terrain, little rest between legs, irregular fueling, irregular other things and…well, you get the picture regarding what can go awry if you don’t get in some mileage and/or practice a few two-a-day workouts ahead of time.

…plan well in advance. 

Make your list, and check it twice. I even Googled around for a few last-minute ideas based on veteran runners’ suggestions because, hey, you never know when you’ll need an ice pack at 6am for an injured team member or a dose of stomach medicine for someone who’s feeling wonky before their 2am leg. Check the weather, too!

…invest in Ziploc bags. 

Packing individual outfits into gallon-sized bags makes it easier to get dressed in the middle of the night when your brain is out of commission. And be kind to your van-mates by putting post-run outfits into bags, as well. Don’t think you stink? Take a good whiff as you re-open each bag when home, and let me know if you beg to differ!

…lube up. 

You can thank me later on this one. Even after spraying myself from head to toe with liberal amounts of TriSlide, I still have a few hot spots from my dusty leg 21 where the grit started to grind in between my skin and my clothes. Nothing will stop you in your tracks faster than a blister, so when in doubt, protect any and all sensitive skin.

…trust in yourself and your team.

There’s no way to get through this without an incredible amount of teamwork, so look for opportunities to pitch in, whether it’s driving a few legs, helping to navigate, being in charge of van organization or even hooking up your teammates with a place to crash. You’ll be amazed at what your body can do, and what you can achieve together!

The DON’Ts…

…forget to pace yourself.

This goes for everything across the board — from running to fueling to sleep, etc. You probably won’t even feel your first run, but remember that you’ve got two full cycles of the same in 24+ hours, so treat it like a marathon instead of a sprint in order to finish strong.

…expect to stay organized.

Our running joke was, “Have you seen my…?” And this was in two vans of highly-organized women, so you can imagine the sheer mayhem that goes on in vans with lower levels of OCD. Do your best to keep your own stuff corralled into one or two bags, then make team bags of communal items, such as food, first aid and night gear, to help.

…think you can get by on minimal clothing/gear.

There’s a fine line between bringing excessive amounts of crap into an already-crowded van and having to spend the night shivering in your only cold, wet running outfit. Do yourself a favor and pack one full outfit (complete with socks and underwear) for each leg, plus a spare pair of shoes and an outfit for downtime/after the race.

…ignore the importance of recovery. 

Sure, you’re riding high on adrenaline, but there will be peaks and valleys throughout the race, so avoid digging yourself into a hole at all costs. If you want to run well, you’ve got to double-down on the non-running activities: After each leg, re-fuel with protein, stretch out, change into dry clothes and rest up as much as possible.

…leave home without your sense of humor.

Inevitably, you’ll end up in a situation that’s out of your control. And it’ll happen when you’re low on sleep and not firing on all cylinders. If/when that happens, take a deep breath, take a step back and try to laugh about it. Remember: Any race is a success when you can come out of it with sore legs from running — and sore abs from laughing.

A final 'do?' Get to know the Honey Bucket, your best friend/worst nightmare during the race

A final ‘do?’ Get to know the Honey Bucket, your best friend/worst nightmare during the race

What are your relay dos and don’ts?

Race Report: Hood to Coast 2014

Courtesy of OregonLive.com

Courtesy of OregonLive.com

Two vans +11 runners + 199 miles = One incredibly-delirious adventure

All I can say is that in a race where you run down a mountain and over a coastal range to finish on a beach, the true highs and lows of the event happen inside the vans.

We laughed (a lot; thanks, Janelle!), we cried (Jen got injured during her second leg), we banded together (Mindy pinch hit a long, hot run as a result), we celebrated victories (Katy nailed her night leg along a particularly lonely stretch), we agonized over defeat (a few traffic-jam fails), we got sick (thanks, Paige, for playing nurse), we broke bread (well, PB&Js), we shared beds (less than one hour of zzz’s in a twin for the win), but when all was said and done and run, WE BROUGHT IT.

Final time? 29:27:17 (I think). And here’s a recap of my experience in the 33rd annual Hood to Coast race as part of the kick-ass Team “I’ve Got 99 Problems But the Coast Ain’t One.”

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The Start

The rest of the team met up on Thursday and trekked out to Mt. Hood for the start, but I had a prior engagement with Hubby, so the plan was to meet up with Van 1 (Michelle, Nikole, Jacquelyn, Karin and Kellie) on Friday afternoon to run leg 6 (the final one in Van 1’s first rotation; they were down a runner so we each would be running four legs instead of the usual three) before meeting up with my van (Van 2) at the first main exchange point to run my other legs (9, 21 and 33). Hubby dropped me off as I waited anxiously for my teammates.

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As I stood by the side of the road, I could tell everyone in the race was in great spirits; each van that passed shouted out of their windows, cracking jokes, saying hello and asking if I needed a team. No more than a half hour later I heard screaming and cowbells — yep, our team’s Van 1 — coming down the road. I knew right then and there that we were in for an awesome experience together.

I hopped in, we introduced ourselves, and then it was time to get down to business. They gave me the lowdown on logistics — Jacquelyn (our fearless leader and team captain) would be handing off to me, then I’d run to meet up with everyone at the first major exchange from Van 1 to Van 2 where they’d transfer my gear, Mindy would take off, and I’d head out with Van 2 for our first series of legs. Before I knew it, Jacquelyn came bounding up, we met (officially, in person, for the first time — here’s a shot), and I was off and running…

Run #1: Leg 6 

Distance: 6.86/ Difficulty: Hard/ Time: 5:12 pm/ Duration: 56:12/ Pace: 8:11/ Roadkills: 4

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I kept telling myself I’d take it easy and pace myself because we had quite a day…and night…and another day…ahead of us. But that all went out the window the moment Jacquelyn slapped the relay bracelet on my wrist. Pure excitement and race adrenaline took over, and I knew I was in trouble the moment I looked down at my wrist a ways down he road and saw I was running at a 7:20-something pace.

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Because it was hot, though, I forced myself to pump the breaks. Although I couldn’t resist speeding up every now and then to pass some people. It’s called a “roadkill,” and the runners on each team keep count throughout the race — partly in jest, partly as an ego boost and mostly to keep you motivated as the event stretches on into the 24+ hour mark. Having your van stop and cheer by the side of the road also helps with that, as you can see!

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After running along Highway 26 for some time, I entered the city of Sandy, Ore., and it was just a few more turns through town and onto some side streets before I slapped the bracelet on Mindy’s wrist and she officially kicked things off for Van 2. Here I am, following her out of the exchange area to meet up with the rest of the team and hop into Van 2, my home base for the rest of the race.

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Run #2: Leg 9

Distance: 6.91 mi/ Difficulty: Moderate/ Time: 7:41 pm/ Duration: 1:02:07/ Pace: 8:52/ Roadkills: 1

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I had a pretty quick turnaround (two legs) until I started my official Van 2 legs, so in between cheering our runners at exchanges, I used the time to refuel (PB&J and grape G2 hit the spot), recover (stretching and rolling are key before you get back into the van) and change into some dry clothes for my next run (the no. one morale booster on these overnight relays — trust me; you can’t underestimate the power of some clean underwear!).

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After gearing up in the obligatory headlamp, safety vest and blinking lights (front and back), I queued up with the ladies of Van 2 (above, from left: Mindy, Janelle, Katy and Paige) at the exchange point as we waited for Jen to come in.

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She rocked her leg under the heat of the sun, and I took off mine just as the sun was starting to weaken, thank goodness. This particular route took me down the Springwater Corridor, which was peaceful and not very crowded. In fact, I nabbed this shot while attempting to chase three fast men who passed me…and then I was on my own for quite some time as the sun began to set and I settled into the nearly seven-miler on some heavy-feeling legs.

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One of my biggest fears (besides the lack of sleep) for the relay was the night run, but thankfully I only had a few miles in the dark — plus, I think there’s a HUGE difference between “8pm-dark” and “2am-dark,” so I was happy it went by quickly. And my reward was to be able to change into another set of dry clothes and cheer on my van as we completed the final stretch into to the city of Portland.

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Janelle arrived to the second main exchange around 11 pm, so we handed the reins back to Van 1 and headed over to Jen’s aunt’s house in the city for a quick round of showers and a few minutes to lie down before we had to be off again for our early morning round of runs.

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I can’t tell you how wonderful a shower felt, and even though I barely scratched the surface of what I’d call sleep — seriously, according to my Runtastic Orbit, I didn’t even enter REM — being able to stretch out and relax for a few minutes really did wonders for our morale.

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My stomach was really “off” at this point; though. Although I wasn’t super hungry after my run, I did force down another PB&J and Gatorade to keep the calories coming into my body. But, of course, just as my head hit the pillow, my stomach decided it was ravenous…so I downed a KIND bar in an attempt to keep it quiet until our 2:10 am alarm.

Run #3: Leg 21

Distance: 5.00 mi/ Difficulty: Moderate/ Time: 6:14 am/ Duration: 44:12/ Pace: 8:49/ Roadkills: 0

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I awoke at 2:06 am to the sound of my teammates getting dressed and ready to go, so I gathered my things (helpful hint: sleep in the clothing for your next run!) and we packed up the van and were on the road again by 2:30. We anticipated it’d take us about an hour to get to the next exchange, and we also wanted to allow a few extra minutes even though we projected them to finish their section at about 4 am the earliest.

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Van 1 was looking strong as we did the hand-off, and I had two runners to cheer on before lining up at my own exchange for my third run of the race, leg 21. Because it was on a pretty desolate (read: quiet and remote) stretch of gravel road, I was crossing my fingers that I’d have some sunlight to help guide me. And, thankfully, the first slivers of light came just as I lined up to get the bracelet from Jen again.

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That relief was soon followed by worry, though, as she came limp-running into the exchange, wincing with pain. She had been dealing previously with some foot pain and had landed wrong during her leg. In fact, she heard a pop in her foot and it hurt to put weight in it, so as Paige helped her back to the van, I ran off wondering what shape she’d be in when I returned to the group.

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My legs felt ok, although the footing was a little more technical here. Hood to Coast had warned us that this stretch was dusty, too, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the five-mile sandstorm that was leg 21. Every time a van drove by, it would stir up a huge cloud, so by the end I could feel a layer of grit between my teeth, on my lips and all over my body (TMI: I’m still blowing it out of my nose!). Yes, they very aptly named this position the “Eat My Dust” portion of the relay.

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My favorite part of this run, by far, was the very end. After eating dust (literally) and being left in the dust (by a bunch of the elites who whizzed by), my morale was taking a dip. But there was one guy I had my sights on in the last half mile; he had passed me about a mile before, but I managed to stay on his tail.

And as I rounded the final corner, one of the volunteers smiled at me as I thanked her and said, “Go! Roadkill him.” That was just what I needed to give it a final push to the exchange — unfortunately, I didn’t manage to pass him (I just needed another few yards!), but it did make me smile, which makes all the difference at this point in the race.

Run #4: Leg 33

Distance: 7.72 mi/ Difficulty: Hard/ Time: 3:35 pm/ Duration: 1:13:31/ Pace: 9:31/ Roadkills: 1

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The next few hours of the race were probably the toughest, mentally, because we not only had to battle some heinous traffic, but we also all lost cell reception and our walkie-talkies weren’t working, so we lost touch with the other van and our spirits started wavering.

Suddenly, our well-oiled machine was not running as efficiently, but we powered on — thank goodness for Janelle’s van games! — and finally made contact at leg 32, in which Mindy had to battle some pretty intense heat and hills.

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Paige hung out with me at the next exchange, and we watched in amazement as Mindy trucked up her final ascent toward us. Seeing her muster all of her effort for the good of the team inspired me to give it my all, as well, as I started my fourth and final leg of the race.

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From the outset, I knew this leg would be the toughest. It was the longest, it was in the heat of the day, it was rated as “hard,” it was my fourth leg and it was to be done on little sleep and whatever fuel my stomach would allow me to consume (although by this point I was feeling much better, thanks to some TUMS and tummy meds). I started off conservatively, but ended up with an early road kill, so I figured I’d use that as my strategy to get me though: Pass as many people as possible.

But as I came upon my second person, she happened to turn to me and say something — I forget exactly what, but it made me laugh, so we chatted for a few minutes as we huffed and puffed up our first hill. I was pacing around 9:30 and feeling like I was already pushing it, so I turned to her and asked if she wanted to keep each other company. Enter Allison, mother of two, Hood to Coast veteran, and my “relay angel” for the day.

As the hills rolled on in the open sun, we pushed each other and strategized quick walk breaks every few miles to hydrate and catch our breaths before setting off and what felt like a much faster clip than it actually was. But, slowly, we ticked off the miles and even had a few laughs in the process, which was a total lifesaver when you’re feeling depleted on all levels.

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We finished strong, I handed off my bracelet to Paige and then got in a quick stretch before jumping in the van for one final change of clothes and another round of PB&J and Gatorade as we headed out on our final few legs toward the finish.

The Finish

Paige handed off to Katy, who kicked it into high gear to knock out a quick seven miles before handing of to Janelle for the last leg. By this time, the afternoon heat was a distant memory; it had been replaced by cool clouds and mist as we neared the coast.

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Once Janelle was off and running, the rest of us piled into the van to meet her and the rest of the team at the finish. And I’m not gonna lie — seeing this as we (finally!) drove into Seaside gave us all chills.

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By the time we parked and walked over, Janelle had technically finished and the timer had stopped for our team, but Hood to Coast has it organized so the whole team can do a ceremonial crossing of the finish line together. We reconvened in the team holding area, and Hubby snapped this shot of pure joy, relief, elation — and probably a bit of delirium — as we did what we set out to do nearly 30 hours earlier.

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The only thing left to do? Party on the beach, of course! We danced our way into the crowd and celebrated with the other finishers who were treated to cold beer, live bands, roaring bonfires and hot food, all topped off with a fireworks display later in the evening.

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As our friend Sierra, a Hood to Coast veteran, said to me before the race, “Sure no sleep sucks. But it’s way fun — it’s the worst/best experience, all rolled into one. That’s why I keep doing it every year.”

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We may have started the race as 10 strangers, but despite sharing claustrophobic corners, operating on minimal sleep and pushing our minds and bodies to the limit, we emerged as a team of 11 friends.

So you can probably guess where I’ll be next year, as well :)

HUGE thanks and shout-out to all of my teammates: It was an honor to run with you, and I’m so proud of everyone for pulling together for a strong race. It’s been broughten, and I can’t wait ’til we do it again!

Detroit Marathon: Week 10 training recap

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Happy Hood to Coast weekend, everyone!

While I’m off accruing my Friday/Saturday/Sunday miles over the next 24+ hours (and taking Sunday as a much-needed REST DAY!), I wanted to share what the week looked like.

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You know how I mentioned last week that my “easy” runs were getting done a little quicker than the program called for? Well, not so much on Monday, when I struggled to get out of bed and had to drag myself through a slow and sore seven-miler (9:25 pace). Factor in a 15-miler the previous day plus a lingering sleep deficit from IDEA World, and you can see why I wasn’t firing on all cylinders.

But — yes, there is a but! — the point is that I pushed myself out the door and got it done. There’s a difference between over-training and being tired. Allow me to illustrate: This is “before,” as I was trying to psych myself up for the Tuesday track workout.

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And this is “after” where, clearly, I’m happy I fought the urge to throw in the towel and treat myself to brunch with mimosas instead (seriously, I could smell bacon as I circled the track = delicious torture!). This week I simply hit the wall because I’ve been burning the candle at both ends between work and our recent move.

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Why the big smile, though? Even though the workout felt tough, I managed to hit my pacing after getting a feel during the first 1200 meters (three laps around the track). Again, the purpose of this is to gauge whether or not I picked the proper race goal time (3:50), plus it’s also an exercise in allowing my body to get used to running hard for longer distances and adapting accordingly.

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So “catching up” was the name of the game for the rest of the week leading up to Hood to Coast: from recovery to work to home life.

I knew I’d have a pretty quick turnaround before I’d be off and running again (!) this weekend, so I tried to set my self up for success — especially because we’re short one runner and I’ll be doing an extra leg during the race. That meant giving myself an early bedtime curfew, as well as focusing on pre-race fuel and hydration.

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The lesson here? It goes back to what Jillian Michaels so wisely said at last week’s BlogFest keynote: “Work with passion is purpose, but work without passion is punishment.” She encouraged us to establish perspective and set a goal — the critical “why” will carry you through any amount of “how” (i.e. work) needed to get there.

And in between? Just try to enjoy the journey because, as my friend Mike reminded me, that’s where the most interesting stuff happens.

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Coming soon: my recap from Hood to Coast…stay tuned! 

Hood to Coast prep: Packing for an overnight relay

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Let the countdown begin! Hood to Coast is coming up this weekend, so I made my list, checked it twice and started prepping early to avoid forgetting any last-minute items.

Because I’m an overnight relay newbie, my due diligence consisted of cross-checking a few different lists to see what people recommend. Here’s a peek at what I’m packing:

  1. Coeur Sports hat for sun protection (day) and warmth (night)
  2. Garmin Forerunner 910XT for tracking mileage during my legs
  3. TriSlide for keeping chafage at bay
  4. Flip flops for letting my feet breathe between legs
  5. A comfy outfit for down-time
  6. CEP compression calf sleeves if I decide I need support
  7. Four different running outfits (we’re down a runner, so I’m doing four legs)
  8. Petzl headlamp for nighttime running
  9. Sunglasses to shield eyes during the day
  10. Bonk Breaker bars to stay fueled
  11. Lacrosse ball to massage out any tight spots
  12. A towel for mopping sweat or drying off post-shower
  13. Lululemon waterproof hoodie, just in case it rains
  14. Bag to transport all my gear
  15. Travel pillow so I can try to catch a few winks
  16. Osmo Active Hydration for Women
  17. S! Caps for electrolytes and salt
  18. Antacid tablets to ward off tummy troubles
  19. Nuun for keeping electrolyte levels in check
  20. Deodorant to help keep me (and the van) from stinking
  21. Sunscreen for during my daytime legs
  22. Backpack to carry additional items
  23. Two pairs of running shoes to swap every leg
  24. Sigvaris performance socks for recovery between legs
  25. Napsack jacket/sleeping bag combo for staying warm while dozing

Not pictured:

  • Waterproof tarp for keeping my sleeping bag dry
  • Knuckle Lights for nighttime running
  • Socks & underwear — five pairs, one for each leg plus a spare set
  • Shower Pill body wipes to help clean up
  • Colgate Wisps disposable toothbrushes to freshen up
  • Misc food to stay fueled — PB&J sandwiches, potato chips, etc.
  • Misc. meds/first aid — Advil, pepto, chapstick, ear plugs, etc.
  • Cell phone and chargers to stay in touch
  • Gallon-sized Ziploc bags to sort outfits and gear

Let’s hope I’m not missing anything! What are your must-have items for overnight relays?

Highlights from last week’s IDEA World BlogFest with SweatPink

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As I sat down to write this post yesterday, I saw that my sister had forwarded me an article from the Detroit Free Press about how a specific group is sparking the nation’s running craze. And what started off as a way to procrastinate for a few minutes to cure my writers’ block actually ended up giving me a clearer perspective on the past few days.

According to the article, Running USA recently released some interesting stats: A record-setting 19 million people finished U.S. running events last year, which is great news because it’s an increase of 300 percent since 1990. But the best part? Women made up 10.8 million, or 57 percent of participants, the highest ever.

Some other fun facts from Running USA: For the first time in 2013, 61 percent of U.S. half marathon finishers were women. Women also competed in record-high numbers in full marathon events, making up 43 percent of finishers.

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So what, exactly, does this have to do with me heading down to Anaheim last week with the SweatGuru/FitApproach team to co-host the first-ever Blogfest with SweatPink? Well, there are a few insights and observations from the event that I thought were worth sharing:

  1. Women are stepping up to the plate and inspiring others to live healthier lives
  2. We truly are redefining the phrase “like a girl” through actions, not just words
  3. Using fitness as a tool, women can empower themselves, as well as each other
  4. Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be an exercise in restraint; it can be fun
  5. Wellness is going social: Being active is “cool,” and workouts are the new “it” activity

That’s why I’m proud to be part of the SweatPink community, and it’s also why we wanted to be a part of the world’s largest fitness conference, IDEA World. Regardless of gender (see top photo with my buddy, Pavement Runner, who knows that real men “sweat pink”), we’re’re all for the thrill of the challenge, for looking great, but feeling even better. And we’re committed to finding our best “fit,” whatever that may be, and making it stick.

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Throughout the past few days we had the chance to connect with bloggers, fit pros and healthy living mavens and exercise enthusiasts. Of course, this all began with a group fun run, which wouldn’t be complete without a few mega-selfies to document our route through downtown Disney.

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Later at the convention kickoff, we heard from some pretty amazing speakers. One particular pair  — Lynne and Augie Nieto — moved the entire audience to tears with their story. Augie is the founder of Life Fitness, a leading fitness equipment company, and was diagnosed with ALS in 2005. Despite a grim prognosis, however, he’s beat the odds and since doubled his life expectancy. His wife Lynne spoke about their project, Augie’s Quest, which strives to drive awareness and raise funds for ALS research.

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And after Diana Nyad was presented with the Jack LaLanne Award, she walked us through her journey of how, at age 62 and after four failed attempts, she finally conquered the 100+ mile swim Cuba to Florida, sans shark cage. She was once challenged to swim as if she couldn’t go a “fingernail’s length faster” in the pool, and it’s clear she lives her life with that very same mission, so she encouraged us to do the same.

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One of BlogFest’s highlights was keynote speaker Jillian Michaels, who shared the story of her fitness journey, along with some many awesome tidbits of advice during her Q&A. Some of my favorite snippets:

  • “Fitness isn’t about building a better body. It’s a tool that helps us build a better life.”
  • “Follow the 80/20 rule for food. Don’t be extreme, eat real food!”
  • “There’s a big difference in singing your own praises versus thinking you’re better than someone else.”
  • “Empower, don’t repress to get kids to eat healthy!”
  • “Regret is the jump we didn’t make, the leap we didn’t take.”
  • “Every failure is an entry point of learning.”
  • “Work with purpose is passion. Work without passion is punishment. What is the WHY?”
  • “I got where I got because I think I DESERVE IT….we are all worth it. We have to work for it.”

Oh, and did I mention that the entire room fell in love with her? She’s not at ALL like the personality portrayed on TV; she’s hilarious, irreverent and real…and the entire room had a #girlcrush on her by the end of the hour. Including me and Bianca.

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Finally, what would a fitness convention be without some amazing workouts? Thanks to Stephanie Ring (yoga), Chalene Johnson (piyo), Tara Stiles (yoga), Shauna Harrison (bootcamp) and Moe & Caroline (bootcamp), we got to break a sweat between the expo and educational sessions. Here we are doing the famous “piyo flip” with Chalene.

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So there you have it — and incredible few days working and working out alongside some of the most passionate people in the business. We were beyond honored to be a part of it, and I hope that seeing the shots of everyone in action inspired you, as well.

I also took with me a renewed commitment to share this passion via my little corner of the Internet here at KineticFix. My hope is to not only hold myself accountable in making healthier choices and redefining my own limits, but also to challenge you to think about how you can find whatever that best “fit” is in your life, as well.

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How will YOU empower yourself to live a healthier life and, in turn, inspire others?