Global Running Day

Happy Global Running Day! Look at all the great deals popping up on social media! I will keep adding to this list throughout the day as I see more!

Honey Stinger – 20% off gels and free water bottle with code RUNDAY

Jasyoga – Yoga for Runners Collection available for free until June 11.

Hospital Hill Half, KC – Retro pricing + brining back original 7.7 miler.

KC Marathon – Original pricing for all events

Rock N Roll Marathons Discount on all races

Sparkly Soul – 20% off with code “RUNDAY” and free shipping over $50

Race Report: Hospital Hill Half 2017

Whew what a weekend! Let’s talk Hospital Hill, shall we? The 44th annual Hospital Hill Half was held over the weekend in downtown KC. As always, the race was HOT and HILLY! (Although as a slogan, that would probably dissuade people from signing up. )

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The expo opened on Thursday, but I didn’t visit until Friday. I was having total FOMO with all the pictures of cool swag popping up on Instagram. Hospital Hill has the best swag I swear. The first year I ran it, we got backpacks. The second year, we got blankets. This year was beach towels! And PJ bottoms instead of t-shirts!! (The jammie pants are amazing and get even softer after you wash them!)

The expo is held at the Crown Center Sheraton convention center each year, which makes for a really good-sized expo. All the usual vendors were there with discounted race entries, cool running gear, and wellness products. My favorite part of the expo is always the big archway with the giant course map.

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2015 Course Map 

Since I visited om my lunch hour, I made it a quick in and out. (Nice to know that you can make a speedy pick-up if you don’t have time to linger). I picked up my bibs and then stopped by the service desk to switch my Re-Run 5k + Half to a 5K + 10K. (I just knew my body was not going to cooperate. My new medicine has made the last month really awful for me, and I hadn’t run in a month.) They were super friendly in getting me switched over. And OMG. The bibs! So cute! A rabbit for the 5K and a magic hat for the half!

On my way out, I checked into my room at the Crown Center Sheraton. They made a group of rooms available at great discount rate. (It was half the cost of the room I had originally reserved on my discount travel site). They had a special line set-up just for runners to check-in, so I had my room key and was back on my way to work.

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I took advantage of the free KC Streetcar to go back to my office at Power + Light District. (I really should have taken it to the Expo. By the time I was back at work, I was sweaty and my feet had blisters from walking 1.5 miles in my sandals. Bad plan.)

After work, I took the street car back to the hotel and changed into my outfit for the 5K. Friday night was hot and I knew that I had overdone it with all the walking earlier. Since I have poor-heat tolerance with my lupus, and was really feeling iffy, I decided I would just enjoy the race by walking it.

The start line had so much energy! As usual, they played “Kansas City Here I Come” as we took off. (Some of us slower than others! Ha!) Right away, we were rewarded with a view of the Western Auto building, one of my favorites.

The 5K course was unrelentingly as hilly as always. They changed up the course a bit, and I feel like it was slightly easier by not having that one massive hill right away. Just know – Hospital Hill is never “easy” and even the 5K is no exception.

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The volunteers were so cheerful, so it was actually nice to be able to properly thank them as I went by, instead of the usual hasty “thanks” as I run by.

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Those hills are no joke! 5K, 10K, or Half!

Soon enough, we descended the final hill and made the left turn to the finish line. There was a huge crowd cheering, and it took everything in me to just keep walking and not break out into a run. I received my medal and headed for the post-race party.

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This is a really kid-friendly event with face painting and balloon animals. But I was just interested in the adult beverages. This year’s beer was “Hilltop Hops,” a peach beer from Rock and Run Brewery. My husband received my cup and said it was really good!

And that is really where my race report ends. I woke up the next morning and knew that trying to push myself to do the 10K would be a bad idea. I was too fatigued and it was just too hot. I was pretty bummed as I have had such great runs on that course – even snagging a PR the first time I ran it. I had friends who ran both the 10K and the half, and they had amazing things to say about the race on Saturday. I know for sure, I will be back next year for more swag, bibs, and beer!

 

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Hospital Hill race 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!”

Murder on the trail.

I recently sat down for a chat with a local friend who has this awesome (and topically diverse) podcast called Iconoclast of Things. Each podcast has a “thing” to talk about. For that episode, the thing was the Indian Creek Trail. The recent string of murders on the trail made him wonder how female runners deal with fear, harassment, etc. The podcast episode is AMAZING and I hope you give it a listen here.

That said, I wanted to talk a bit about Indian Creek Trail and the string of murders that really seems to be serial killings but I don’t think have been labeled as such.

I have run Indian Creek Trail many times. I first learned of Indian Creek Trail from the races the Patriots Running Group puts on there. I have raced many times there. I also was interviewed by a local news station for a weather advertisement they made. (How people rely on reliable forecasts… and how I use the information as a runner). They shot some nice footage of me running over the bridge near “The Other Place” bar in Olathe.

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Running Grass Skirts and Hawaiian Shirts race in -16 temps on Indian Creek Trail

Most recently, I was using Indian Creek Trail from long runs. I wanted something with some rolling hills, that was well-maintained… but mostly I was trying to avoid the bugs that I was encountering on my night runs on my heavily wooded trails. I reasoned that as a suburban paved trail, it  would have less bugs and would be pretty safe.

For the most part, I felt pretty safe. I would have a friend meet me every few miles to check in. It was OK. The 17 mile trail snaked through Overland Park, Kansas with most gentle hills and a few steep inclines.

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Martini Madness 5K at Indian Creek Trail

There were sections that I was uncertain of. I felt pretty good running by golf courses and residential neighborhoods. But there were many times that the trail would cross the highway, and that meant running down into the underpass. This put me on edge. I told myself that in Overland Park, Kansas, there probably weren’t homeless people camped out. I would be OK. Just keep running.

After running there a couple times, I just couldn’t shake the fear I felt running under the highway. I started bringing my pepper spray along — not something I typically do. I usually save my deterrents for isolated trail runs, not running in town.

Looking back now, I am happy that I took those precautions to protect myself.

The fifth body was found along the trail this week, although this murder seems unrelated to the other four. It doesn’t fit the profile of the other four victims: older white men walking their dogs along the trail.

Walking their dogs along the trail. They were with their dogs. I have no idea what breed of dogs they were walking… but that is a thing we tell women to do to be safe. “Take your dog with you!” I began running with my dogs on the trails, pretty much every run, when I wanted some company. It was reassuring to have my dogs with me when I was running in the dark in the middle of nowhere.

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Evening trail run with Atlas the Wonder Mutt

There just aren’t any answers yet. All I can do is to stay vigilant and protect myself while running. I will continue running with my very large dogs. I will continue to carry pepper spray or a stun gun. I will continue to vary my routine, and let my family know where I am. (Here is a post I did on how I carry all the gear with some pictures of how I load everything up.)

I recently learned of a group called “One Ear Out” which advocates for running with one ear uncovered while running. (Their daughter was struck by a train while wearing headphones.) This is an excellent practice as you should always remain aware of your surroundings. Another option might be the new bone induction headphones that rest on the cheekbones instead of in the ear canal. I did a review of one brand here, so you can see how they work, but there are many options with these as well.

Stay safe out there, friends.

Update: A couple people asked what products I use. Note that I am not selling anything – but am happy to make recommendations.

Pepperspray

I have a handheld one that wraps around my hand with elastic and velcro. I don’t like things on my hands, so I push it up onto my forearm, and I practice pulling it down and getting my thumb on the trigger before each run. Mine is black, but here is a pretty pink one on Amazon. You can read about how they work and how often they should be replaced here.

Stun Gun

Stun guns are legal in my state, so if I feel I want to be extra cautious, I slip a small stun gun into the front pocket of my hydration vest. It is easy to access if I need it, and has a safety so I won’t zap myself if I fall down. I feel like even just pushing the button and making the big ZAPPPPP in the air would make someone leave me alone.

I have this one, but there are lots of other options on Amazon as well.

ID Bracelets

In the event of an emergency, it is good for responders to be able to identify you and have a contact number for your family. I have reviewed Road IDs here. They seem to be the most popular option for runners, hikers, bikers, etc.

All this gear fits nicely into my hydration vest, along with my phone, nutrition, TP in a ziplock, etc. Link to my vest in main body of post.

When your new miracle medicine sucks.

I disappeared for awhile. I hemmed and hawed about what to write about. My training plan came crashing down. I put my coach on hiatus. I have spent the last month trying to muster up the energy to get out of bed.

I started a new medication last month that I was oh-so-hopeful that it would magically make me “ME” again. But in actuality, I spent the first couple weeks throwing up and surviving entirely on dry gluten-free toast and Sprite. I have been able to start tolerating bland foods lately, so I am hoping good stuff is on the way. I did lose some weight – but definitely not in a positive manner.

My new medicine is an injection that I do every morning in my abdomen. It is supposed to fix my insulin resistance. I am not the expert by any means, but I can say I do not have Type 2 diabetes, but insulin resistance related to my autoimmune issues. Maybe I can go off the injections someday? I hope. The autoimmune stuff is all inter-related with my Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, low ferritin, low Vitamin D, leaky gut, wheat allergy… It goes on. And it isn’t an awesome list. But I am doing my best to be a trooper and manage the obstacles as they come.

Back when I was hopeful that my racing form would return, I registered for a few races. The next race on my calendar is Hospital Hill Half. I entered the Re-Run option for a 5K Friday night and a half on Saturday morning. So, yeah. Obviously that isn’t going to happen. I am bummed because I love this course, and have PR’d on it before. My plan is to run the 5K, and if my body allows, I will drop to the 10K and be happy that I ran at all. Autoimmune is a bitch.

Given that I have not ran or rode in a month, I want to start easing my way back in a plan. A low-key plan. A simple “if I don’t feel like doing my workout tonight, no big deal” plan. I am thinking 3 milers and a slightly longer run over the weekend. Mix in some biking as well. Some swimming if I am feeling like getting crazy. I have some triathlons penciled in, and I am hoping this whole phase passes. (Can you call two years of hell a phase?)

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On the upside, my little Bowie is really shining with his running. He took some time off for cyclocross and soccer, but he is back at it now. He had a great run at the Pi Day Half, where we dropped to the 5K due to weather. A couple weeks ago, he came in 5th male in the Skyline Shuffle 5K, and a PR. Last week, he beat that PR at a hot evening run called Ad Astra Summer 5K Series. (He finished 25 out of 100) runners).

Not too shabby without any training. I want to give Bowie the best shot at his goal race this fall, so I plan to get Bowie working with a kids track team this summer. When he is not a sprinter, I think track workouts will be beneficial to him.

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Bowie at Bunker Hill, Clinton Lake – Lawrence, KS

He can put in his big miles with the Trail Hawks group runs, at least until mama is back at it. (Please be soon! I miss long runs! I miss speed! I miss the burning lungs!)

 

Training for hills

The benefits of hill training are endless. It is speedwork in disguise, yes? But with a hilly race course, hill training is a must. The first time I trained for Hospital Hill Half, I was kind of terrified. And with good reason.

Runner’s World has rankled it as one of the countries toughest half marathons. It was also included in the “Sublime Climb” list.

How to Conquer It: “Don’t go out hard; be conservative early on,” says two-time Hospital Hill champion Mark Curp, who set course records here in 1983 and ’85. “I doubt there’s more than half a mile that’s flat.”

Hill Story: Hospital Hill gets its name from the medical facilities established there in 1869. The final hill rises 50 feet in one-tenth of a mile, an 8.5 percent grade.

The current course record was set by Julius Koskei of Kenya, who ran the course with 3 teammates in 2012 as an Olympic training run. (They were looking to acclimate to humidity and hills.). The Kenyans finished the race first, second, and third. (I won’t ever look to set a course record.)

I do believe in going in prepared. In the case of Hospital Hill, I look for the biggest, nastiest hills I can find and run repeats ad nauseum. (Yes, there are hills in Kansas. In fact, in my area, it isn’t easy to find a flat stretch!)

My closest option is a gravel road that the high school (and I believe Baker U) cross country teams uses for training. This nasty guy is known as “Signal Oak Hill.” At the top of this hill, there used to be an oak that settlers hung lanterns from to warn neighbors of “ruffians.” That tree is gone, and hopefully too are the ruffians. There is a monument there now, and an amazing view of Lawrence, KS.

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Signal Oak overlook

It is a half-mile up with some points reaching over 14% grade. If you can conquer this beast, you can conquer anything!

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Speaking of Lawrence, KS, I spend a lot of time on the University of Kansas campus. A tour of the campus will give you a variety of ways to torture yourself.  My favorite KU Campanile Hill.

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Beautiful Torture

The campanile is a WWII memorial on the hill above Potter’s Lake. It is no slouch with over 13% grade. This paved loop is really popular for training so no one will look at your funny for running in circles!

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Campanile Strava

I will keep looking for more horrible places train for hills. Hope to see you on a hill soon! If you are interested in joining me, you can use code BIBRAVE for a sweet discount!

 

Disclaimer: I received a race entry 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!

Gear Review: RoadID Wrist ID Elite


Oh, it is that special time where Midwest weather turns from freezing cold to burning sweaty hot in the course of a week. Also, the time where we drive our kids around to soccer and baseball practices, games, and tournaments, like we don’t have anything else better to do.

The three youngest boys are all playing sports right now, so that means I have to get a bit creative with my time. My runs seem to be getting later and later (vampire runner!). That also means that Bowie’s running slacks off a bit to accommodate his soccer schedule. We do have one trail race in his calendar in the next couple weeks. Bowie will be running the Skyline Shuffle 5k again (last year’s review here).

IMG_2863I get asked quite a bit about running gear for kids. Bowie is now able to wear women’s running shoes, which makes it much easier to find him trail shoes now. Little Tatum is still in kiddo shoes, so that is a challenge for sure. The boys make good use of my hydration packs (I will post about that with pictures a bit later). But something that they like calling their very own are RoadIDs. Bowie was so excited to get to pick his band color, and so proud when he got to start wearing it for runs.

I have heard some parents say they have their kids wear RoadIDs whenever they go shopping and such. We don’t take it quite that far, but Bowie does have his own for training and racing. I like knowing that if he goes off-course, or is injured, someone will be able to call me for help.

I am getting ready to order one for Tatum, and had a bit of fun soliciting mantras for his band on Twitter. I mean, he is 5 — that is something to have fun with! (I think we settled on “Adventure is out there!” from the movie Up!)

Anyway… back to RoadIDs.  I had a good collection of them going (5 or so), when RoadID offered to make me a snazzy new Wrist ID Elite bands. (Yay for products that you already love!). I snatched up the offer and picked out one of the Black Edition bands. So sexy and rugged, yes? I also picked out a triathlon badge to go along with it.

I went with pretty standard engraving… I included my name and hometown. I included my husband’s name and cell. Next, I included my penicillFullSizeRender (1)in allergy. (Any other allergy twins out there?) And finally… I selected a mantra. Now, I couldn’t really get my REAL race mantra on there, because it includes curse words. And that sort of thing is frowned upon in a normal office setting. So I went with another mantra I like, that has an acronym that many cyclists recognize: HTFU. If you are unfamiliar with this manta, you can study all the rules of cycling here.

RoadID made my new band and sent it to me in this really cool looking metal box. (My kids would call this “tight” or “dope.)

After getting over my initial fear of cutting down the band to fit my itty-bitty wrists, I was really happy with the fit. (My advice is just to snip off a bit at a time and keep test fitting it until you are happy.) Also, you do need to read the instructions. I couldn’t figure out how to get the gripper part that clenches down on the band at first. Once I read the instructions, I saw you need to use something to pry it open… Much easier when you actually do things the right way!

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One thing I liked right away was the clasp. So easy to take this on and off without having to stretch the band over my hand. I haven’t noticed the silicone bands stretching out over time, but I am always paranoid that repeatedly taking my RoadID off and on would stretch them out.

I put my RoadID to good use right away. I tend to run and ride solo. (Well, sometimes I take a dog. But he isn’t great with working a cell phone in case of emergency.) So I hit the trail to test out the new black leather band. I am happy to report that I didn’t have a black ring around my sweaty wrist. I did note that they don’t recommend wearing the leather band for swimming (good thing I have the silicone ones on back-up), and they do recommend using a leather conditioner on the band every 6 months or so.

IMG_1104So there you go… A little bit of piece of mind for when you are training and racing. If you don’t already own a RoadID, I highly recommend getting one. If you already have one, the new Elite bands are really nice.

Disclaimer: I received a RoadID 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!

 

Preparing for summer races.

With Pi Day out of the way, I can now turn my attention to the rest of my race season. Since I am still waiting for the day when I magically start feeling well, I am only plugging in a few races here and there. (I have burned too many times with signing up for races and not being able to run due to my autoimmune stuff).

I do have a few races on the calendar that I am really excited for. Up next is Hospital Hill Half Marathon!

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At the 2015 Hospital Hill Expo

I have run this twice. The first year I did the Re-Run with both the half and the 5K. The second year, I signed up for the re-Run but only ran the 5K due to autoimmune. This year I am signed up for the Re-Run again. This is a really great race!

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Start line 2014

First, there is the course. Known for its nasty hills, Runner’s World rated it one of the hardest half marathons in the US. I highly recommend a lot of hill repeat training before tackling this bad boy. The first year I trained for this, I was running KU campus Campanile Hill over and over again. To be honest, the race course hills were not bad. My strategy of training heavy hills worked! DO NOT GO IN UNPREPARED!

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Hospital Hill Half course elevation from my Strava

 

The 5K course had a serious climb at the start. Bowie kept saying, isn’t this hill done yet? It was kind of ridiculous. After that, it wasn’t so bad!

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2014 bibs and medals for Re-Run

Second, there is the swag. Each year they have neat extras. One year I got a fleece blanket, another year I got a backpack. This year, it’s jammie pants! When you run the Re-Run, you get not only the 5K and half medals, you also get a Re-Run medal. Very cool!

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I am all smiles at the 2014 half!

Finally, I have to mention the race staff. The volunteers are awesome! One year, they were handing out towels because of excessive heat. The next day, handing out ziplock bags to save our cell phones from the rain. Through it all, they never left. (And can I thank the neighbors turning on sprinklers so we could run through?!?)

Also, the social media from this race is spot on. They do a great job hyping the race. They even used a picture of Bowie on Twitter and Facebook! How neat is that?

If you are interested in joining me, you can use code BIBRAVE for a sweet discount!

 

Disclaimer: I received a race entry 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!