Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Island Boost Review

I have always had really hard time with certain gels and they always lead to stomach cramping and heavy stomach feeling after I washed them down with the recommended water.   Back in June I saw Island Boost pop up on twitter feeds and in a few blogs.  Upon researching the company and product (see their FAQ page HERE) I found out two things that peeked my interest: 1) It was not necessary to take Island Boost with water and 2) It supposedly worked quickly so it would no longer be necessary to take it 15 minutes before I needed it.  I was placing an order with REI anyways so I added a few Island Boosts to my cart.
I have been using Island Boost since July as my primary source of fuel for my runs (I say primary because during my ultra training and 50K race I did need actual food like sandwiches, nuts, fruit etc) So here is what I think:

Taste: I can taste the coconut water in all 3 flavors but it is not so over powering that I feel like I am eating/drinking sunscreen. Overall all 3 of the original flavors are good, with Passion being my favorite, and all 3 taste fabulous frozen.

Consistency: This was the biggest surprise, because it really is not sticky or gel like at all, in fact it is a liquid.

Does it live up to it's claims?: YES! Island Boost essentially saved my butt at mile 14 of my 50k when I ran out of water and still had 2.6 miles to go until the next aid station and all I had left was some nut butter and 2 Island Boosts.  I never take it with water and I have never had stomach issues.  I rarely take it "early", and most of the time wait until I am starting to feel a bit fatigued between miles 6-8 (this past weekend I did not take it till almost mile 8.5 and never worried that it would not work fast enough to keep me going).


About a month ago I was contacted by Island Boost and asked if I would be willing to taste test the new Chocolate Flavor, in exchange for my honest review I was provided with 2 packets of Chocolate Island Boost to try and 2 packets of Passion as a thank you (um my favorite!).  While I was provided these free I was never required to give anything but an honest review/feedback.

I used my 1st packet of Island Boost before a 10 mile training run.  The run itself was a disaster, but not because of fuel but because of tired and sore legs that were struggling to get back into road running after the 50k.  I hoarded my 2nd packet in the freezer for last Sunday to use before the Detroit Free Press International Half Marathon, because I wanted to give it a good test run before writing a review.

Taste: YUM! I love chocolate however not a big chocolate gel/gu type runner because most of the time it's a bit to heavy or tastes to artificial.  Chocolate Island Boost tastes like chocolate pudding, but with a thinner consistency. (And if frozen would taste like a fudgesicle)

Did it work?: A big YES! I used the Chocolate Island Boost approximately 10 minutes before the start of the race and did not need my 1st Passion Island Boost till mile 8.5, and never ended up using my 2nd Passion Island Boost.  My not so scientific theory is that because the chocolate has a little thicker consistency then the original flavors I felt "full" longer (I'm sure it was a little physiological too).

Did I PR?: NO...BUT I would not say I was racing and had tons of energy left in the tank after.  I will be using Island Boost to train and definitely during my next goal race where I am going to break the 2 hour mark for a 1/2 marathon.

Would I recommend Island Boost to a friend?: YES and have. I will not recommend a product I do not use or a company I do not believe in just because.  I highly doubt I will every use another gel when I run, in fact I still have about 10 packets of my former gels sitting in my fuel basket that have been there for months, yet instead of using them I keep ordering more Island Boost.

Interested in Island Boost check out their website to learn more about them: www.islandboost.com
Want to order some Island Boost and help get Chocolate Island Boost on the market check out their Indiegogo Campaign: http://igg.me/at/IslandBoost

Want to try Island Boost? Leave me a comment and enter with rafflecopter as to what is one thing you like/dislike about your current fuel source and I will send one lucky winner 2 packets of Passion Island Boost from my stash. (Contest ends Oct 31st 2013, no purchase necessary, etc etc)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 21, 2013

2013 Detroit International 1/2 Recap

Yesterday I completed the 2013 Detroit International Half Marathon, that includes the crossing of the Ambassador Bridge and a return to the USA through the underwater tunnel.  While I have ran this race 3 previous times, yesterday was my first Detroit Marathon Day "Experience".  As I wrote about last week I went into this race without a plan, knowing that reaching any PR time goal may still be to much for me as I am still suffering recovering from a few minor aches I picked up during the 50K race/training.  What I did not talk about was the two private goals I had which were to run the entire uphill of both the Ambassador Bridge and the exit of the tunnel.  In my 3 previous attempts I would become winded and at least have to walk part of both.  This was a personal struggle for me, knowing that even though the extra taper weight is still there I needed to prove to myself I was still stronger then ever and it seemed like a fitting goal.  My recap will not include splits or times because I did not know our approximate finish time until less then a mile from the finish, and did not know our splits until late last night when John sent me the Garmin link.  It was a very different experience running a race and looking at the course, not my Garmin, focusing on how I felt and not what the time said.

Eve of the Race: Normally the night before a race I would have been in bed at 9 pm to get a good nights sleep, however the Tigers game did not start till 8 so of course that was not happening.  In fact I enjoyed a nice Mayan Mocha Stout and stayed up well past 11 pm.  That was followed by about 3.5 hours of broken sleep with the littlest needing some vicks and snuggles for a stuffy nose.

3:45 am: Up (b/c sleep wasn't happening) had some coffee, a banana and a Picky Bar, got dressed, packed up and headed out to stop at Tim Horton's for a road coffee (need both the caffeine and warmth) and then headed to our meeting spot to pick up the car pool.

5:15 am: Depart with a van full of runners (Here is a race morning tip: If you shut your lights off while waiting for your friends to arrive, it is always wise to turn them back on before driving even if you are used to the "auto" setting or else a nice Police Officer will stop and remind you)

5:40 am - 6:45 am: Got parked and everyone got on their last minute gear, and we all headed to the Fort Street Church to stay warm, potty breaks and a group photo.
GP Runners ready to run the D! (Photo w/ John Martin's camera taken by random stranger at the church)
6:50 am: One last potty stop and an Island Boost (my hoarded new chocolate flavored one, stay tuned tomorrow for a full review of Island Boost but YUM) and we were off to the starting line.  John (who once again was carrying his camera & got some fun/awesome pics), Val and I had planned to run together since we were out there for fun and no time goal.  We jumped in Corral E, figuring it would be a good place to start and we were with a few other GP Runners.

7:07 am: START TIME!
Starting Line (Photo by John Martin)
Miles 1-3: I felt awesome, I had switched my race outfit at the last minute from a skirt to capris pants and I am glad I did.  The wind was cold and the capris pants kept my legs warm.  It was a nice paced run up Fort Street to the bridge, where we proceeded to make our way up the on ramp for mile 2 and finally onto the bridge by mile 3.  (This is one of the most deceiving parts of the race because you don't just run up the bridge, no you have to run up the on ramp for a mile first and then run up the bridge)

(Photos by John Martin)
Miles 3-4: Up and over the bridge! I did it! Ran the entire up ramp and up the bridge without having to stop and walk!  Focusing on form, shortening my stride and "pulling the rope" with my arms.  It is really an amazing view (even though yesterday's view was accompanied by a cold wind) from the top of the bridge.  You can see the sun rising over Belle Isle, the beautiful fall colors of the trees as you come into Canada,  the Detroit River.  We even saw a few more GP Runners up there!
Coming back down the Ambassador (photo by John Martin)
Miles 4-7: Still feeling great, legs were nice and warm, no shin or hip pain.  I was still very relaxed and I won't lie at a few points I was looking for a clock to see approximately where we were at time wise.  No such luck.  I knew I felt better then my last long run so that was positive and I was having fun enjoying the music, bands, spectators, and the view of Detroit from across the river.

Mile 7-8: The Underwater Tunnel mile.  The dreaded Underwater Tunnel mile in my mind.  It is not a well ventilated mile at all, so upon entering the tunnel I rolled down my arm sleeves.  Even then by the 1/2 mile mark I was starting to sweat so bad.  Using the gloves I had shed about mile 3 I wiped up as much as I could from my neck and face knowing once we exited that would only contribute to chills.  Then it was up the 1/2 mile out of the tunnel, looking forward to the fresh air and the open course again.  As we approached the exit I pulled my arm sleeves back up, because while the fresh air was nice it also can make you really cold really quick.  Goal #2 accomplished! Ran the entire tunnel! Shortened my stride and focused on breathing and next thing you knew we were out of there.

Miles 8-10.5: Included a walk through the water station right outside the tunnel and another Island Boost.  I was in good spirits and crowd support this year was awesome! Cowbells, signs, cheering...IT WAS A-W-E-S-O-M-E!

Miles 10.5 - 13.1: We ran into a training partner who was running her first half marathon.  It was clear (Because I have been in that place before, that "I want to sit down possibly cry and say screw this" place. Last year that was me with that same look, that same struggle, and that same frustration at roughly the same spot)  Being that we had no time goals, John, Val and I fell in next to her.  These last 3 miles are both my most hated and favorite.  I love running through Mexican Village and running past what is left of Tiger Stadium, I love the turn into the homestretch and seeing the finish line.  It is also where for the last 3 attempts I truly wondered if I would finish, and several times included tears.  Really though they were uneventful miles, except for the M&M's around mile 11, that is always one of my favorite spot.  Together we put one foot in front of the other, and reminded me that even though I love my solo runs, why being a part of a group, particularly this group is so important, because if that was me someone would have done the same.  That's the beauty of running with a group, of those early morning runs, those good runs, those bad runs, those relationships that are formed are priceless.
Seconds after we finished (Photo by John Martin's awesome photog friend)
After getting our medals and solar blankets we headed back to the parking lot where we changed.  The parking lot was in a perfect spot for cheering, we were at about mile 25.75 on the Full Marathon course.  As we waiting for "our runners" we stood on the sidelines and offered cheers and high fives to those that past.
GP runners cheering and GP Runners running in some full marathoners, including a 1st timer (Photo by John Martin)
Tailgate party GP Runner Style (Photo w/ John Martin's camera)
We hung out, talked, drank some recovery type beverages and cheered on runners till after 1 p.m.  It was an amazing experience to run the Detroit 1/2 and celebrate with this group on Sunday!

Friday, October 11, 2013

"Follow This Mother" Feature

I am excited and honored to be this weeks "Follow This Mother" mother on Another Mother Runner.(www.anothermotherrunner.com) I have read both Run Like a Mother and Train Like A Mother by Sarah and Dimity and listen to their podcasts regularly (and always try to convince them they should throw an AMR party in Detroit if they ever come this way). So basically I geeked out when I got the email Monday from Heather one of their writers. (Heather can also be found at http://www.michiganrunnergirl.com/) When I started blogging I wanted to write (a creative outlet for me) and keep a little journal to look back on, I feared no one would read it but hoped maybe it would influence or inspire at least one person.  Here it is less then a year later and I have been given such an amazing opportunity to tell my story! Thank you so much Dimity, Sarah, Heather and all the Mother Runners who have shared stories and blogged before me that kept me going & inspired me when I was not sure I could juggle running and a family!

Do you have any questions for me that I did not answer on Another Mother Runner? 

*I highly recommend the books Train like a Mother and Run Like a Mother...they are both informative and humorous...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Detroit International Half Marathon Plan

"I'm not making any plans. I'm just going to let the universe surprise me." -John Cusack

YES! That is right, I do not have a plan for the Detroit International Half Marathon I am scheduled to run on October 20th 2013.  Every single race that I have ran up until this one I have had a goal, a plan, a strategy but honestly I have got nothing other then have fun going into next Sundays race.  Normally 10 days prior to an event I have clothing picked out, pace charts, split times, studied the course map, and put all of my fuel and accessories in a little ziploc so I am overly prepared.  This time, not so much. 

So here is what I do not know:
  • What my splits will be or what my predicted finishing time will be.  In fact I will not even have a Garmin on for the race.  Last year I lost signal through the underwater mile and it messed me all up so this year I will sport my Road Id and my "Relentless" Endorphin Warrior bracelet and that is all.
  • What my body will do on race day.  With the up and down runs of the last several weeks, I could wake up with a sore and painful hip or I could wake up and feel great.

So here is what I know:
  • I will finish, and I say this knowing that unless something tragic happens I will finish 13.1 miles. That is a very strange shift in my mind set that has occurred since the 50k and 13.1 was considered a short long run.  Having those longer training runs, I am pretty used to a fueling plan of Island Boost right before and again at 6 or 7 miles and I can easily make it to 13.1, even though I will carry an extra one just in case.  Running early I am also pretty used to my pre race "breakfast" of a banana, Picky Bar, coffee and 24 oz of Nuun.  No need to plan there anymore since it's become second nature.
  • I will get the same medal if I finish sub 2 (which is highly unlikely given my difficulty returning to speed after the 50k) or 2:30.  (I do however want to finish closer to the 2 ish side knowing I have friends about to crush the full and I want to get to the sidelines, change out of my stinky running clothes and be ready to cheer for them.)
  • I have enough running clothes and shoes that I will be able to dress appropriately whatever the temperature is race morning.  And if all else fails I will go to my basic running "outfit"-Under Armor black tank, Moving Comfort black capris, Brooks black PR Skort, Saucony's new armwarmers with built in mittens, a pair of Pro Compression Socks and more then likely my Kinvara 4 since they are lighter then the Ride 6's.
  • I will have fun! This will be my 4th time running this course and the three previous times I was so focused on or struggling to finish I forgot to enjoy the experience. That is not going to happen this time, I will slow down at the top of the Ambassador Bridge to enjoy the sunrise, take in the spectators on the Canadian side and enjoy the beauty of the Detroit from the other side of the River.  I will take the time to high five the customs agents who not only are keeping us safe but cheering us on.  Since I do not plan on running this race again next year I want to run this year for the experience.
  • I will not stress or have anxiety about the race, now that does not mean I will not be getting excitement butterflies but I refuse to let myself stress about little "what ifs" and seconds/minutes.
  • I am very excited for this race, I cannot wait to see friends cross the finish line of their first 13.1 or 26.2 and celebrate their accomplishments with them!
  • I am enough! A number on a clock does not define me as a person or a runner, it does not define the handwork and miles I have put in over the last year.  I have ran farther and faster then I ever thought possible since the Detroit 1/2 Marathon in 2012 and I could not be happier with how strong I have become. (Thanks to Brene Brown and her books Daring Greatly & The Gifts of Imperfections for some eye opening aha moments this last year)
See you at the starting line...

Have you ever raced without a plan?  Have you ever just let go to see what you could do?  If so how did it go?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Ultra Recovery

It has been just over a month since I finished the Woodstock 50K and am pretty close to a complete recovery.  I say pretty close because I still have a tiny pain near my shin that appeared a few months before Woodstock and still shows up before and after runs.  It goes away while running and when I am diligent with the muscle rolling.  The two weeks following the ultra I was still on an emotional high and things seemed awesome.  However these last two weeks have been difficult.  Without another large race until next August I feel a bit lost when it comes to training.  I have also realized that the two week taper before and two week reverse taper after have not been so kind to my waist line.  Gaining 10lbs in a month because my appetite forgot that my body was not running as much is "tough to swallow".  This has not helped my mood, which in turn means I run for the peanut butter instead of the carrots.

There are two problems that really bother me.  The first is that I have doubted my ability to complete a 50 miler.  While this doubt has only creeped in a few times, it has made itself known.  While reviewing the training plan for next year I see that the 50 miler is only three weeks after a 50K training run. WHAT! There is no possible way I could have done that after Woodstock.  Maybe that is why I did not attempt it after Woodstock though, I knew I was not ready and did not want to over reach.  This doubt was enough to scare me and send me into a little panic, creating a 40 week training plan.  Can we say OVERKILL!?!?!? I have 11 months, that is plenty of time to take myself from 50k ready to 50 mile ready.  I really just need to relax and have started looking into coaching services to possibly help me out with some of the training and preparing.  The second problem is my road pace.  For the love of all things it takes everything I have to run a long run at a 9:09 pace which I could easily do back in May.  After talking with Justin at RUNDetroit this weekend it sounds like this is pretty normal, since I have been training to go long distances, walk up hills, etc. instead of the speed work and quick turnover.  This really made me think about the importance of keeping speed work or tempo runs a part of my training plan next time.  I wonder if that would help me maintain some of that speed?  I also would still like to crush a 2 hour 1/2 Marathon in the near future (planning on this goal for Rock CF in March), so I think speed work and tempos are a must.

Anyways I am taking the week off from running and just sticking to some Jillian Michaels and the elliptical.  Then it's a few short runs and my 4th Detroit International 1/2 Marathon!

How do you recover from a race?  Do you ever take time off from running?