2017 Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon Recap

Disclosure: I received a complimentary race entry for the Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! All opinions are my own.

As mentioned last week, I kicked off my racing season with the Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon again this year, and was really looking forward to a well-run race with awesome swag. Well, Mother Nature had other plans – sadly, they ended up having to call off the race part. However, that made me realize just how much else a race does that makes it successful, so let me tell you about all of the parts that made me love this race even more.

Pre-race

Before race weekend, management was communicative well ahead of time. There aren’t many updates made to the website, so most of their communication was through email (for example, all parking information is sent via email). The race did a great job of notifying everyone via Facebook to check their email, so once I knew to do that, I had everything I needed in my inbox.

Additionally, the race also has social media giveaways just about every week, so there are really great opportunities to win everything from Lululemon to nutrition supplements. I love that they do this because it keeps everyone engaged!

They also partnered with the Stella Hotel in Bryan this year, to give runners a killer rate. I had to sign up a little later and missed out on this, but the hotel is normally over $200/night and it was under $130 a night if you signed up for the race’s block of rooms.

Expo

I mentioned last year that the expo was quite small, but they definitely stepped it up this year. It was still small relative to other expos, but they improved on variety and activities. There were booths representing nutrition supplements, head gear, a local running club and a local running store. The race also had a fun photo booth were you could get a nice printout to commemorate the event. Well done, guys!

Race Day Communication

This is where their excellent planning truly showed. When a cold front blows through right at start time, there’s not a whole lot you can do to control the situation, but you CAN communicate. Via social media and email they did let us know the race had been delayed multiple times (first to 8:00, then to 9:00). When we didn’t see any additional updates at 8:45, we figured they were probably only going to have minor delays, as it appeared to be clearing off slightly. We headed to the start line and they had just made the decision to call off the race. It was a bummer, but they made the best of it and ushered us all to the after party, which was still ready to go!

Post-race Party and SWAG

The post race party had all the bells and whistles, with delicious craft beer, plenty of food to go around, and of course, swag. Since I didn’t race, I decided to forgo some of the food this year (I had, after all, carb-loaded thinking I was going to be racing). I did, however, take full advantage of the swag.

They went ahead and handed out finisher medals – not totally sure how I feel about having a medal for a race I didn’t actually run, but it’s really pretty, so I decided not to be legalistic and took it. The medal was large, colorful and complete with a bottle opener. We also received really soft finisher’s tees (in some ways, I’d rather have more of these than tech tees, because they’re so darn comfy) and a sweet tote bag at the expo. They definitely think outside the box with race day swag.

Moral of the story: just because a race gets cancelled doesn’t mean it’s all bad. Race management handled a difficult, unpredictable situation well and I was impressed.

Have you ever had a race get cancelled? How did they handle it?

There’s always next year and I hope to be back. Cheers to that!

Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon – Race Recap and Review

Disclosure: I received a complimentary entry to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! All opinions are my own.

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Dallas, Texas. Having a work event last Saturday in none other than Dallas, Texas added a little extra motivation to make the trip worthwhile, so I was thrilled to sign up!

Rock ‘n’ Roll is an international race series that’s unique due to the live music throughout the course. It was so much fun to run the Austin Half last year and enjoy all the live music, so I knew I’d have a great time at this race.

Pre-Race

Sign ups were easy and there was ample communication beforehand, though it was almost information overload!


The expo, what I saw of it, was expansive and really nice. Lots of great Brooks gear was available, and I really wish I would have had some time to stop and shop. I grabbed a few quick pics and that was that.

However, the caveat is that one must physically be present to pick up their packet, which was buried on the website (and I looked because I had to plan due to my work obligations). I had planned to have my husband visit the expo to make sure I got my packet in case anything came up; then, I’d stop by after I finished working. I went to print out my confirmation sheet, which you MUST have to pickup your packet, and saw this printed at the top. I had to leave work to make sure I got over to the convention center to pick it up, and was in and out in under 10 minutes. My main piece of constructive criticism is this: if you’re going to have a lot of information, don’t over communicate on the ordinary.

Race Day!

Race day morning was pretty easy. An 8 a.m. start time allowed an extra hour of sleep. We used an app called Parking Panda to reserve a spot in a paid lot. While I appreciated that the race offered this option, I think we could have found parking elsewhere.

The start line was bustling, and RnR Dallas was definitely one of the largest races I’ve participated in. Downtown Dallas also provided a lot of photo ops! The corrals were clearly marked and staggered a minute apart. They had a spirited couple of emcees that kept the mood going, and kept each group excited. I loved the way they did this. My group made it up to the starting line and we took off in the near-70 degree heat.

The course itself was pretty tough – lots and lots of hills, including one part where you run up an on-ramp to get to a highway bridge. You literally run under the path of the bridge. But the view at the top was pretty sweet, I’ve gotta say! However, the hills combined with the heat made for a tough race.

A recommendation this brings to light is to add another water station for warmer climates. There were people passed out on the side of the road. That shouldn’t happen, and with a race that’s sometimes charging over 100 dollars for admission, I’d expect a bit more attention to this.

Throughout the course, I was encouraged by all of the music and surprises on the course. Of course, the music was fantastic (I’d actually rather them sacrifice a little there to have another water station). There were also dedicated cheer stations, lots of spectators and even stilt performers – that was such a delight.

While I thought I could grasp a PR at one point, the heat got the best of me and I didn’t have any more energy to gun it the last few miles. The final stretch was bliss – downhill to the finish line and a street lined with people; up one last miserable hill and it was over!

Post Race Party

The finish line festival was put together nicely. I enjoyed the live music and ample space. and it was also nice to have chocolate milk waiting there when I finished; it’s one of my favorite post-run indulgences.

Swag was cool too! I really like the fit and design of the shirt; the medium fits me perfectly. I will wear it a lot! And the medal was nice – fitting because the post race party takes place right in front of the actual Dallas “ball.”


Overall, this was a good race, but there were just a couple things that would make it better! Due to the lack of water stations, I wouldn’t recommend this for a first-timer. This is a bummer, because everything else is pretty awesome! I also think the lack of effective communication is disappointing. I expect more of a race that has the resources to fine tune the most important details to communicate. I still would recommend this race to a friend!

Cheers to the unexpected challenges of each race day!

Can’t Get the Stink Out? 2Toms StinkFree Review (& Discount!)

Disclosure: I received a sample of 2Toms StinkFree Detergent and Spray as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! All opinions are my own.

Anyone who runs or works out regularly has probably run into the issue of clothes that just won’t stop stinking – no matter how many times they are washed. A couple of my tops unfortunately have a slightly lingering stench of runs, but, more importantly, my armband reeks of sweat. I used to keep it in my purse for convenience and I’ve had to start leaving it at home because I was scared my coworkers would think I did not shower! So I decided to put two of the products 2Toms offers to rectify this situation to the test: the StinkFree Spray and the StinkFree Detergent. Here’s how they’ve held up.

img_40642Toms StinkFree Spray

2Toms Stink Free Spray is like a baby wipe or shower for your gear. All you have to do is spray down your gear (get all the nooks and crannies) and voila, the stink is gone. Simple as that. 2Toms has created a technically advanced formula that cleans the “pores” of your gear, rather than masking the smell, which is why it is supposed to work so well.

But the big kicker is: did it pass the armband test?

Yes – it took a few applications, but eventually (after following the manufacturer instructions to reapply), the stink was gone. The armband was also the only article of clothing I had to use multiple applications with. I don’t have problems with my running shoes stinking as much as my other clothes, but I think that would be one of the best applications of it, because you won’t mess up your shoes in the wash. It works almost instantly and I have no complaints here. I’m probably going to have to use it on my dog at some point. Is that bad?

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2Toms StinkFree Detergent

You may already know that it’s wise to air-dry your running clothes, but why is detergent so important in washing them? This is a question I’ve asked myself, and it took some digging to figure it out. What I discovered was that normal detergents can compromise the integrity of your running clothes (aka, if you have moisture-wicking shirts, they might become less breathable over time). That’s the key difference between the 2Toms StinkFree Spray and Detergent – the detergent actually works to remove build-up/residue.

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Honestly, I was not as impressed with the detergent when compared the spray (it didn’t pass the armband test), but I do think there are some important positive aspects to focus on here.

First off, it’s a bit easier to implement the detergent into your routine, since you have to wash your clothes (or at least, I HOPE you do). For those who travel, the stink free detergent comes in easily packable packets, and it doesn’t require you to use a washing machine.

What was initially most intriguing about the detergent is how runny it is and it’s scent-free. For all of you who are concerned about (or allergic to) fragrances, this product also contains no perfumes or phosphates, working to eliminate the odor by neutralizing it. I found that this scent-free aspect still had a slight odor, similar to what I imagine dry cleaning solution smells like. The runnyness seems to be an indicator of the lack of additives that could essentially thicken the detergent to make a lather and potentially create buildup in your clothes.

I am not sure how much of an impact 2Toms had on the breathability of my running clothes, but I can say that they have felt great on my runs since I’ve used it. However, it’s cooled off significantly, so I think that has probably also impacted things.

Overall, I like 2Toms’ products. I have been happy with their SportShield line, and I look forward to using the StinkFree products in the future. 

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You can purchase 2Toms StinkFree Spray and Detergent to test these products for yourself at 2Toms.com. They are super reasonably priced at $10 and $2, respectively. With the code “2Toms20” you’ll receive an additional 20% off (valid through 12/31/16).

What’s the first thing you’d use 2Toms StinkFree products on? Let me know in the comments.

Cheers to stink-free marathon training!

Pardon My Dust

Hello lovelies.

I swear updates are coming soon.

To give you a sneak peek, I’ve got a gear review, training updates, music suggestions and other fun stuff in the pipeline. I’m working through some personal stuff right now (nothing serious, mind you) and have been super busy dealing with that and training, but hopefully I can share those details by the end of this week!

Thanks for bearing with me and being patient.

Cheers to exciting times,
Sarah

7 Unexpected Things That Happened During Marathon Training

When I look back on marathon training, some strange/unexpected things happened that stick out in my mind, so I though I would share. I’m curious to see if they’re really all that strange.

I gained a little weight.

Back in January, when my runs were still semi-short, I went to get fitted for a bridesmaid dress. I was kind of in-between sizes and decided to go down a size, thinking I might lose weight through the training. Hah! While I didn’t gain a ton – maybe 5 pounds total – I did gain a little. I’m not sure if it was muscle or fat, but one thing is for sure…

… I didn’t feel bad about gaining weight because I was always hungry.
During the peak of my training, hunger pangs were a way of life. Some days, I was eating more than my husband, which was kind of weird. For example, one night, we had just eaten dinner and went to our friends’ house for “home group” (basically, we regularly meet up with some friends from church and spend time together as a community). Well, on this night our friends had a tray of apples, meant for a lot of people, and as we congregated around the table, I grazed. Lo and behold, when the night was over I had eaten almost half the tray. I didn’t realize quite how much I had eaten and I was actually pretty embarrassed because I hadn’t meant to hog the food so much. I was just starving the whole time. Needless to say, my constant state of hunger was just the way it was, and if I was going to gain a little weight because of it, then so be it.

My thighs got HUGE.
There’s nothing wrong with having large thighs, but a lot of my clothes didn’t fit right for awhile. Even though it was all muscle, I still felt a bit self conscious.

My mile times got slower.
I have a couple of ideas why this happened. I did have to take it very easy on my long runs to complete them. I also think changing shoes might have something to do with it – my Brooks shoes seem heavier than my adidas shoes. Nonetheless, I thought my shorter runs would have gotten faster, but they really didn’t… and my longer run mile times definitely got slower.

5 miles no longer seemed like a “long run.”
My coworkers would often ask me on my way out how long I would be running that evening. On average, I was running between 4-8 miles on every weeknight, so when I would reply “just 5 miles,” or something like that, I would often get the response “just 5 miles?” It actually helped me put things in perspective, and reminded me how far I had come. It is crazy to think that not even a year ago, I couldn’t even run 3 miles, and getting past 5 or 6 was a huge milestone.

I talked way too much about running.
It was on my mind a lot, and I am appreciative to my husband and all my friends who just sat and listened politely. Talking helped me clear my head.

I learned to accept where I was at, celebrate even small successes and be proud of them.
If I thought about where I could be compared to where I was currently all the time, I would have been constantly negative. I had my moments, but learning to remember how far I had come helped me achieve my goal. Ceasing in the comparison game and focusing on just doing my personal best made the whole process much, much better.

Most importantly, I think these things are definitely a testament to the physical strength that you acquire during training, and the toll it can take on your body. However, this is what the training is for. The fact that anyone experiences these things are signs that you’re focusing and working hard. If you experience the same things I did, I hope you know that you’re not alone! Love yourself no matter what (see what I did there?)!

An unexpected thing that’s happened after training is that I’ve taken it so easy getting back into running. I love to run, but I’ve enjoyed the break. I’ve been cross training a lot more, which I missed; I got to take a walk with Chris the other night and he snapped this photo (I love exploring the city, walking or running). I’m planning my next race and will share when I decide which one I want to do.

What was the most unexpected thing that happened to you during training for a race?

Birthday Gifts for the Active Girl

This past weekend, I celebrated my 25th birthday! Each year seems to go by more quickly than the last and I can’t believe I’m another year older again. I personally love birthdays because they are an opportunity to show the person you love how special they are and how much their life means to you.  However, when my turn comes along, I always struggle to finalize my birthday list. Don’t get me wrong – this is definitely a good problem to have!
Here’s what was on my list this year in the way of activewear and running gear; if you’re trying to find gifts (birthday or otherwise) for the special active lady in your life, these items are sure to bring a smile to her face… or maybe you’re just like me and don’t always know what you want. 😉
Birthday Gift Guide
From left, clockwise:
Under Armour Fly-By Tank – I have had my eye on this tank for quite a while and will probably be purchasing it with my birthday money. It’s perfect for summer and comes in so many fun colors.
MPG Cover-Up Cardigan – If I could wear running clothes to work everyday, I totally would. This cardigan makes that a little more possible. Just wear it with a tank and jeans and all you have to do is change into running capris (like the Running Skirts Honeycomb Capris below) and head to the gym.
Feetures! Elite Cushion No Show Tab Sock – You might be thinking, “Really, Socks?” Seriously. I bought my first pair of these socks for my marathon and feel like they made a huge difference in how my feet felt. These are kind of expensive and a luxury many people wouldn’t indulge in, so I’d say it’s appropriate to give socks in this case. Your runner friend will thank you.
FlipBelt – These come in so many cute colors and make it easy to carry personal belongings when running, biking, etc.
lululemon Speed Shorts – lululemon is another item I consider a sweet luxury. These shorts will make the active girl in your life feel super spoiled. They even have waterproof pockets for your phone/keys and extra pockets for Gu’s/gels. Black is a safe bet because it looks good with everything.
Brooks Special Edition Kaleidoscope Collection – If your runner has a favorite Brooks shoe, they just came out with this awesome Kaleidoscope Collection that’s only available for a limited time. We could always use an extra pair ;).
Garmin Forerunner 15 – The Forerunner 15 is a sporty and functional and will help her reach her time goals. This low priced GPS watch has so many great features that I can’t list them all here, so be sure to check out the list here.
Sweaty Bands Headbands – Sweaty Bands have a no-slip grip and come in many fun colors. Again, you could get a basic color and wear these from work to the gym.
Massage Envy Gift Card – Two words: Treat yourself. Massages make a great gift, and if you know someone who’s training for a race they’ll appreciate the chance to get a sports massage to work out their aches and pains.
Running Skirts Honeycomb Capris – I just think this print is so fun! The light colors match pretty much anything and make this an option for the summer, since black absorbs heat. Wear them to yoga, kickboxing, or on an after-work run.
As for my actual birthday, it was great. We relaxed, went to dinner and watched The Princess Bride. We also got to spend the day with my family a couple days after.
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Chris spoiled me and got me the Garmin Forerunner 220. I haven’t had a chance to try it yet but will provide a detailed review when I do.
How do you like to celebrate your birthday?