The North Face Endurace Challenge Series – DC Race Deal!!

In less than two weeks I will be embarking on a MAJOR running adventure — 50 MILES of amazing-ness (my first ultra, my first trail race) as part of The North Face Endurance Challenge Series on June 1st.   I am so excited I can’t really believe it!

 

The race will start and finish in the beautiful Algonkian Regional Park in Sterling, VA and the course will wind its way through the spectacular Great Falls Park and along the Potomac Heritage Trail.  Much of the course is single track trail, with portions of packed dirt and gravel and only a tiny bit of paved road.  There will be incredible views, a fantastic community of people and lots to celebrate along the way.  It is going to be truly full of WOW moments for everyone there.

me soaking up the course on a training run this winter

The North Face Endurance Challenge Series is totally unique and fun, almost like a weekend-long trail running festival with a distance for every type of runner!  On Saturday there will be a 50 Miler, a 50k and a Marathon.  On Sunday runners can do a Half Marathon, a 10k or a 5k.  There are kids runs on both days!  It will be one big awesome ultra and trail running party.

I am so excited to be experiencing my first ultra and trail race as part of the series, and thrilled to be giving away 50% off an entry (for either the 10k or the 5k – winner’s choice) to one lucky reader!!

There are a few ways to enter (please leave a separate comment here for EACH entry):

  • Like The North Face Endurance Challenge Series on Facebook (click here)
  • Follow The North Face Endurance Challenge Series on Twitter (click here) and tweet: I want to win the @thenorthfaceECS giveaway from @paceofme #ECSWashingtonDC
  • Follow Pace of Me on Twitter (click here)
  • Like Pace of Me on Facebook (click here)

** One winner will be chosen at random to receive 50% off their entry to either the 5k or the 10k race on June 2nd.  Must be a US resident to enter.  Contest ends on Friday 5/24 at midnight EST and the winner will be announced via blog post shortly thereafter.  The winner will have just two days to claim their prize before a back up winner is chosen. **

You can read all about the awesome history of this incredible race series by clicking here.

BodyGlide – Review & Giveway

I will never forget the first time that I discovered and used BodyGlide.  It was several years ago, in the dead heat of a typical scorching and humid DC summer when I was in the thick of marathon training.  I had been repeatedly chafing in a serious way from my bra despite slathering myself with Vaseline and Aquafor – a bright red line right under my chest that would fade and scar and then rage up all over again the during next weekend’s long run.  Raw, tender skin between my thighs, thanks to them rubbing against one another over and over again with each step I took.  Showering after my long runs was so miserable, more painful than any muscle soreness or fatigue I would endure from actually running and pushing my limits.  The sting of the water on my irritated skin would literally make me cringe.  I also found that I would get terrible blisters on my feet over and over again, usually on my poor toes due to the swelling of my feet from the heat.

For years, I had just kind of accepted that chafing and blisters were some of those annoying things that runners were forced to put up with.  That they came with the territory, and we just had to deal with them and move on.  Try not to let them break our spirits.

And then, one day while paying for a new pair of shoes at my local running store (Potomac River Running), I noticed right by the cash register that they had this product called BodyGlide that promised to save our skin and feet from chafing and blistering.  I read the package and thought to myself “NO. WAY.” – it had to be a gimmick!  I asked the salesclerk about it and he told me very emphatically that he swore by the stuff.  That he never went for a run without using it and that ever since he started using it he hadn’t chafed or blistered AT ALL.

So I decided to try it.

And I seriously could not believe what a huge difference it made for me.  Where had this product been all my running life!?

Thanks to BodyGlide, I do not chafe or blister anymore.  I use it in a MAJOR way in the summer months especially.  Whether I’m going for a 3 mile run or a 30 mile run, I am very generously and VERY liberally applying BodyGlide to all of my potentially problem spots before I head out (for me, this is my feet/toes, my bra line, between my thighs, and where my tank cuts under my arms).

If I ever forget to use it or get lazy about it, I totally pay for it.
And trust me, it’s not pretty.

Losing my BodyGlide would seriously make me want to cry so for this reason I keep it handy in a few places around my house.  I have a stick of it in my car and one in my bag for when I go to the track or to a race.  I also have one that lives in my bathroom upstairs, where I typically get dressed before going out for a run in the early mornings while my family is still sleeping.

I am amazed by how awful chafing and blistering could make a run or race experience before I found BodyGlide.  I could be feeling so strong and working so hard, and then the pain and annoyance of a developing blister or rubbing/stinging skin would distract me and throw me SO off mentally.  Finding BodyGlide was like a miracle to me – such a simple and easy solution for preventing this from happening!

I cannot tell you guys how excited I was when BodyGlide asked me to be their first ever ambassador recently!  There really is no other product on the market that does what it does or that is made with such quality (plant-derived, oil-free) ingredients.  I am so proud to represent them and to tell anyone and everyone who will listen about why I think this product is an ESSENTIAL item for every runner.

For years I have used the original Anti-Chafe BodyGlide and it has worked amazingly, and recently I discovered the “For Her” formula which has Vitamin F in it to provide extra moisture and hydration for sensitive skin.  I love them both!

Have you ever tried BodyGlide before?  Do you swear by it like I do?  Are you curious to try it out?  Two lucky readers of my blog will be chosen to win some BodyGlide!!!

There are four simple ways to enter, and here’s how: (please leave a separate comment here for EACH entry):

  • Like BodyGlide on Facebook (click here)
  • Follow BodyGlide on Twitter (click here) and tweet: I want to win the @BodyGlide giveaway from @paceofme
  • Follow Pace of Me on Twitter (click here)
  • Like Pace of Me on Facebook (click here)

** Two winners will each receive one tube of BodyGlide.  Must be a US resident to enter.  Contest ends on Friday 5/24 at midnight EST and the winners will be announced via blog post shortly thereafter.  The winners have one week to claim their prize before back up winners are chosen. **

Team Sparkle Skirt: Review and Giveaway!

When I found out that I would be wearing a Team Sparkle skirt for the Hood to Coast Relay with Nuun, I will admit that I was REALLY excited about it.  I wasn’t new to the idea of rocking one of these skirts – last year I won one in a blog giveaway and wore it for a New Year’s Day race.  I set a 5k PR in my skirt that day and had SO much fun wearing it.  I was a fan from the get-go.

sparkling on 1/1/12

There are a lot of things that I love about racing in a Team Sparkle skirt …

* I feel feminine, but I also feel like a complete badass.  It is really the perfect combination.  Completely girly + strong = AWESOME, if you ask me.  I love rocking this skirt and have never run so fast as I did when wearing it.

STRONG LIKE A GIRL

* Passing someone, especially a man (no offense, guys) while running in a sparkly skirt is pretty much one of the best feelings ever.  I will never forget the feeling I had when I sparkled passed my first roadkill (a man) at Hood to Coast.  He didn’t know what hit him.


* I can wear my own bottoms with it, and I don’t feel the skirt at all.  I am extremely picky about what I wear when I run, especially when I race.  I LOVE this skirt because I can wear my own shorts (always the lululemon run: shorty shorts) under them and be confident that I won’t have any chafing.  Plus, the material of the skirt is SO light that I don’t even notice it’s there.


* I am easy to spot.  If I’m running at night, the sparkles are reflective.  If I’m running during the day, they shine and glimmer in the sun so my family and friends can easily see me coming.

* There is a rainbow of colors to choose from.  The toughest thing about this skirt is picking which color you want!  I have two (a golden yellow and a royal blue) but I want to get one in every color (next up for me is PINK!).  They go great with a black or white top or it’s also fun to make yourself completely colorful by wearing a brightly colored top with it.  Also, if you are someone who likes to make running costumes (like for a Disney race) then this is pretty much an essential part of your outfit and you will be sure to find the color you need when shopping their assortment.

* I love the company.  I cannot say this enough.  The girls of Team Sparkle are strong, creative, intelligent and inspiring.  Kelly, Carrie and Elyse are best friends and are all mothers who balance their passions and their dreams with their families and careers.  These women shine as brightly as their skirts do and I am so truly proud to represent them when I wear my sparkle skirt.

I am SO excited to be hosting a giveaway of a Team Sparkle skirt here on my blog!  If you have never tried one before – now is your chance to win your first one just like I did!  And if you already have one and love it (which I’m sure you do) then here’s your chance to get one in another color!

There are four simple ways to enter, and here’s how: (please leave a separate comment here for EACH entry):

** The winner will receive one sparkle skirt in the size and color of their choice.  Must be a US resident to enter.  Contest ends on Thursday, 9/20 at midnight EST and the winner will be announced via blog post shortly thereafter.  The winner has one week to claim their prize before a back up winner is chosen. **

An awesome giveaway – Endorphin Warrior Training Bracelet!!

I cannot say enough about how much I LOVE Endorphin Warrior Training Bracelets.  When I was first introduced to this product I knew that I simply HAD to have one.  I wrote a review and hosted a giveaway almost exactly one year ago — you can read that post by clicking HERE.

At the time, I was working so hard to set a new giant PR in the marathon.  I wanted to improve my time by an hour or more and I wanted to qualify for Boston for the first time ever.  It took a lot of hard work and dedication.  It took a lot of courage.  It took a tremendous amount of sacrifice and patience.  More than anything though, it took BELIEVING in myself.  I had no hope of accomplishing my goal if I did not have faith in myself.  If I did not BELIEVE I could do it.  When I ordered my first bracelet, I knew right away which word would speak to me the most …

I wore my bracelet for every training run and for every race.  It took three marathons and goodness knows how many training runs and track workouts, but finally last spring at RnR DC I ran a 3:34:46 and accomplished my goal.  A PR of more than an hour and my first ever Boston qualifying time.

When I was getting ready for Hood to Coast with Nuun this year, I was beyond excited that Endorphin Warrior would be sending us each a bracelet for this epic adventure.  Once again I knew exactly what word I would need.  This time, I picked BREATHE.  It is a simple thing but so easy to forget to control when I am running.  One of my favorite and most powerful personal mantras has always been BREATHE, BELIEVE.  So I brought my old bracelet with me and wore both of them together, the entire time.

I admit I am really into arm candy.  I love bracelets and especially bracelets that I can sweat in (just ask my running buddies and my friends from HTC).  I am also really into mantras – running is like meditation in motion for me.  I know that the mind is a powerful thing.  When I am struggling on a run whether at the track, on the trail or in a race, I find that a simple word or phrase can do wonders for helping me push through the toughest moments.  My Endorphin Warrior bracelets are a quick and cool reminder to get myself together when I start losing focus.  I love them.

I am so excited to be hosting another giveaway of this awesome product!  To enter, all you have to do is go to the Endorphin Warrior web site HERE and leave me a comment telling me which bracelet key word you would choose if you win.  It’s as simple as that!!

For EXTRA entries, you can do the following.  Please leave a separate comment for each entry, otherwise you will not get as many entries!

** Follow @EndorphnWarrior on Twitter and tweet: I want to win the @EndorphnWarrior bracelet giveaway from @paceofme

** Follow Endorphin Warrior on Facebook

** Follow Pace of Me on Twitter

** Follow Pace of Me on Facebook

I will accept entries until next Thursday, 9/13 and will announce the winner on Friday 9/14.  I should tell you I was not paid to do this – I love the bracelet that Endorphin Warrior gave me and I’m excited to spread the word about them and to facilitate giving one to a lucky reader of my blog!!

my favorite things giveaway ~ nuun, accel and picky bars

I’ve talked before about all of the things I have implemented in my training and racing to become a better, smarter, stronger and faster runner.  It’s a work in progress — I am a work in progress — and a journey, without a doubt.  No one single thing is solely responsible for making us good at our sport. Rather, it is a combination of things and we are smart to constantly look at what we are doing (and not doing) in order to find ways to improve and enhance our performance and our experiences.  I feel that way about all areas of life – I never want to get so stuck in my ways and stop growing as a person.  That’s one reason I like running so much — it keeps me moving.  It keeps my heart open and my mind open.  It keeps me young in more ways than one.

I wrote a post not long ago about how I’ve improved as a runner (you can click here to read it).  I talked about how I added regular speed work, paced my runs properly and with purpose, built my mileage conservatively and consistently, became dedicated to Pilates and strength training, started foam rolling every single day, and more.  I also mentioned that I FINALLY figured out my hydration and nutrition plan – before, during and after my runs.  What works for one runner may not work for the next – it is different for everyone and we all have to experiment to figure out what combination works for us – but there is no question that we all have to drink and we all have to eat.  This may sound like common sense (and it is) but if I had money for all of the runners I have met who say they “can’t eat” before, during or after a run I would be a very rich lady.  I get it, too – because I honestly used to be just like them!  And I had miserable runs and races a LOT of the time as a result.  About a year ago I finally realized that if I wanted to improve my running I would HAVE to figure out the right hydration and nutrition plan for me.  I would have to get over the fact that I didn’t feel like eating breakfast right before I ran.  I would have to eat and drink on a run even when it was the last thing I felt like doing.  And I would have to put something in my body SOON after a run in order to recover the fastest so I could keep up with my training.  I committed myself to figuring this out and thankfully, through a lot of trial and error, I am at a place where I feel good about it and I believe it is working for me.  It’s not perfect – I am still open to trying new things and improving on it, but right now these are my favorite things…

Nuun.
In order to perform at our very best, we have to be properly hydrated.  I used to try drinks like Gatorade and Cytomax – they made me feel awful every single time.  I would get cramps.  I would feel nauseous.  It turns out that my body just did NOT need all that extra sugar (surprise, surprise!).  Then I tried drinking just water, which still works great for me when I’m running shorter distances and even for my longer runs (as long as I have my gels, which contain electrolytes, protein and sugar).  But I was still showing up for my runs not properly hydrated – and this is just not a good way to start a long run or a race – trust me!  Last year I discovered Nuun and this product has become a STAPLE for me and for my family.  Basically any time that I am not running – I am drinking Nuun.  I drink insane amounts of it for the day or two before my long run or race especially, to ensure that I am fully hydrated and that I have the proper balance of electrolytes going into my run.  I need not worry one single bit about dehydration when I lace up my shoes.  Nuun is awesome for a lot of reasons – it tastes great, it has no sugar, it is low calorie, it’s convenient, and it has the perfect balance of electrolytes for endurance athletes.  It is absolutely 100% something I can count on.  And what’s more exciting is that just last week Nuun introduced a brand new product called Nuun All Day – not only does it come in 4 new **amazing** flavors (I cannot wait to try the Blueberry Pomegranate), but it is all natural and is enhanced with vitamins and minerals.  I have a feeling this product will stay true to it’s name – it is something I will drink ALL DAY pretty much every day.  It will make my water taste delicious and refreshing.  Let’s face it – hydration is important even when we’re not running peak mileage or training for an endurance event, but we may not need the level of electrolytes that the regular Nuun provides.  Nuun All Day is the perfect solution for those times (and I think my kids are going to love it, too).

Accel Gels.
For runs and races of more than 10 miles, my body needs more fuel to sustain my effort and perform at my very best.  It doesn’t take too long for my muscles to get depleted of their glycogen stores, resulting in me feeling lousy and exhausted pretty quickly.  I think it is pretty safe to say I have tested every single gel on the market.  The one that works best for me actually came as bit of a surprise – Accel Gels.  The reason I was surprised by this is because it contains milk and my stomach is sensitive to dairy.  However, the milk provides protein which seems to be a magical thing for my muscles!  In addition to that, these gels are all natural and have a 4:1 carb to protein ratio, giving me the energy I need as quickly as possible.  They are not thick like most other gels I have tried – and they go down pretty easily thankfully.  I wouldn’t say any of them are “delicious” but I buy the chocolate and vanilla by the case and they get the job done.

Picky Bars.
For a long time I was in denial about the importance of eating soon after a long run, a hard track workout or a race.  My stomach is often “testy” after such an effort and the very last thing I feel like doing is eating.  I learned in my RRCA coaching class that it is crucial for endurance athletes to eat within the first hour or two (and ideally, within the first 15 minutes!) of completing a workout.  I also learned that foods with a 4:1 carb to protein ration would be ideal, and that a mocha latte or chocolate milk would be perfect.  But could I stomach that?  Or would it be enough?  Last summer I started treating myself to a soy white mocha after all of my long runs.  I love them and I think they are a sweet reward and a smart choice right after my runs.  But, truth be told, they aren’t *really* enough and when I am done with a race I usually don’t find a barista at the finish line to serve me up my special recovery drink.  I need to EAT something.  As someone who eats a (mostly) vegan diet, it can be tricky for me to find foods that are high enough in protein.  Picky Bars changed that for me.  These bars are made from the finest all natural and organic ingredients, they don’t contain any dairy or gluten, they taste great and they are made by athletes (Lauren Fleshmen and Steph Rothstein!) for athletes.   I keep them in my bag and in my car so that I always have one handy when I need it and can start recovering as soon as I finish my run.  They are awesome.

Thanks to these three products, my hydration and nutrition needs are completely taken care of.  I don’t stress out about it because I know that I can count on them if I stick to my plan.

I love them so much that I want to give you the chance to win a sampling of some of my favorite things for hydrating and fueling.  Fall marathon training cycles are about to start – and it’s a perfect time to figure out what works best for you!

The Prize:
One winner will win a package with the following ~
* 4 tubes of Nuun (including one tube of Nuun All Day!)
* An awesome blue Nuun 21 oz. water bottle
* 4 Picky Bars (one of each flavor – including the newest flavor – Smooth Caffeinator!)
* 2 Accel Gels (one chocolate, one vanilla)

(almost) the whole package – add one more picky bar and 2 accel gels to this!!

To enter please leave a comment telling me how you hydrate and fuel – before, during and after your runs.

And if you are feeling extra excited and eager to win, you can do one or all of the following (doing so will gain you one extra entry!):

* follow Pace of Me on Facebook and/or Twitter
* follow Nuun on Facebook and/or Twitter
* follow Pacific Health Lab (makers of Accel Gels) on Twitter
* follow Picky Bars on Facebook and/or Twitter

Disclaimer: I was not paid by Nuun, Pacific Health Labs or Picky Bars for this post.  I use their products and really like them!  Sweepstakes is open to US residents only.  One winner will be chosen at random.  Sweepstakes starts on Wednesday May 30, 2012 and ends on Tuesday June 5, 2012 at midnight EST.  The winner will be notified via blog post shortly after and will have one week to claim the prize.